How Austin – home to SXSW – stays vibrant with tech and innovation
19Mar12

A growing theme on this blog has been about how to grow a smart and innovative city. Its something we’ve been tackling here in Newcastle as we evolve from our old industrial base to something more vibrant and sustainable.

One model we’ve been looking at is Austin, Texas. Over the last decade Austin was the 3rd fastest growing city in the USA, booming to its current population of 790,000.

Its no coincidence that Austin is home to the famous SXSW festival, part of which is one of the biggest tech industry events in the world. This has led to Austin becoming home to around 3900 tech companies employing over 100,000 people.

Here is a 30 second video from Susan Davenport, senior vice president of the Austin Chamber of Commerce explaining how technology and innovation have helped build a great city.

Other posts on this topic:

My plan for creating an innovative city

How to build a smart city

The numbers behind the paywall: The Australian reveals digital subscription take-up
14Mar12

by [me]

In October 2011 the executives at News Ltd announced that “the ten year free trial is over” and they were launching digital subscriptions for some of their publications beginning with The Australian.

Naturally, they were plenty of cynics prepared to predict the pay wall gambit would fail, and I certainly had my doubts. Its still only very early days and long term success is far from assured but News Ltd have just released their first round of figures for digital subscription. They appear to be very encouraging.

Here’s the announcement:

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Must read report: Outlook for Australian Social Business 2012
6Mar12

by [me]

When it comes to social media in Australia there are plenty who talk the talk but only a handful who really know their stuff.

Gavin Heaton is one of the few who have respected experience and knowledge in this field. His long-running and very popular blog Servant of Chaos, his collaborative Age of Conversation books and his mentoring of numerous social marketers is testimony to Gavin’s standing in the online community.

Gavin has just released The Outloook for Australian Social Business 2012 as an e-book. It contains a tons of excellent information that every modern marketer should know.

I highly recommend visiting the website and downloading the report.

Are women more productive in Social Media than men?
23Feb12

Social media is quickly becoming extremely important when it comes to the success or failure of a business. Even so, the field is still very new, and a comprehensive understanding of how best to take advantage of social media has not yet been conclusively demonstrated.

It is already quite clear that ideas which spread rapidly through the social media can be used in order to promote a business or a particular organization. At the same time, it is not as easy to identify which ideas will spread rapidly through a group, and to what extent it is possible to facilitate this process. Nevertheless, it is certainly worth asking these questions.

One question that certainly bears asking is the question of how gender relates to the social media. Are women more productive with social media than men are?

A straightforward, cut and dry answer to this question is probably impossible. Nevertheless, there is certainly some evidence to suggest that this might be the case. More than half of adult women participate in the social media on a regular basis. A study conducted by RescueTime found that women spend about 6.43% of their time on social networks, while men spend about 3.96%. This would tend to indicate that women would, if nothing else, have more experience with the social networking interface.

Additionally, while men tend to outnumber women in some of the more obscure social  media sites, and are tied with YouTube, they outnumber men on Facebook, Twitter and MySpace. The fact that women tend to frequent the more commonly used social networking sites while men tend to use the more obscure ones might  say something about how men and women interact. Men might be more likely to specialize and obsess over specific fields of interest, where women are more interested in general human discussion.

Young women can be expected to be especially fluent in the “language” of social media. Seventy-three percent of women in the “millennial” generation (currently aged 18 to 26), frequent social media at least twice a week. Only 62% of women in “Generation X” can say the same. Only 46% of baby boomers and 30% of the elderly visit social media over twice a week.

The top three topics that women use social media for are entertainment, food, and health and wellness. The vast majority of them use it to stay in touch with friends and family (75%). More than half also use it for fun or to get in touch with people sharing similar interests. What all of this says about productivity is hard to identify.

Businesses hoping to spread awareness about a product related to entertainment, health, or food would probably do better working with more women than men. It might be fair to say that while men may be more likely to be able to identify the best website host, email hosting provider, or even by easily signing up for free Facebook ad placements like different social media marketing tools on the web, women are far more likely to understand how to spread the news.

The evidence seems to suggest that women are generally more skilled at contacting people, communicating with them, and spreading messages than men. It should go without saying, of course, that the skills any given individual has should be evaluated on a person by person basis, rather than on the basis of the performance of the group.

What do you think?

How to build a smart city
21Feb12

by [me]

Last year in the wake of a vigorous debate about how to turn Newcastle into a center of innovation I posted my thoughts on how to create an innovative city. It certainly generated some discussion and the wheels have actually started turning.

Central to my plan were the need for high-speed broadband and the idea of holding a prominent tech and innovative event in the city. I can confirm that progress is being made on both fronts but eventual success still relies on the support of the city’s leaders, both government and business.

When you consider that the nascent app economy spurred on by iOS, Android and Facebook apps has generated 466,000 jobs in the U.S. economy since 2007, there is a lot to gain from encouraging innovation.

Meanwhile I have been researching what other innovative cities around the world have been done to get ahead.

What has been consistently repeated is the importance of cities in creating an enabling environment for emerging technology companies.

This was a key topic of discussion at at the first-ever Cities Summit held in Vancouver recently. Mayors of 35 cities around the world joined with executives and consultants to discuss open cities, digital cities, urban laboratories, smart-city financing, and startup cities.

For example, San Jose (California) has created a “Framework for Establishing Demonstration Partnerships” which allows the city to work towards a more sustainable future–including the creation of 25,000 new green jobs–by enabling local companies to use municipal facilities as urban laboratories to test out new clean tech, sustainability, and mobility technologies. Rather than having to jump through the typical bureaucratic hoops, the demonstration allows the fast-tracking of pilot projects from local companies.

The Summit made it clear that smart cities of the future will find ways to incentivise and enable private sector innovation and local economic growth via innovative use of demand-side tools, as opposed to supply-side solutions like tech parks and tax breaks. For example, the feedback was that the emerging companies wanted to find a way to get their pre-commercial technologies tested by the city. This allows startups to get the kinks out as well as increase their ability to sell technology to other markets.

Cities can also use things like new standards or regulations, such as green building standards, to stimulate demand for new clean solutions and innovation.

Talent is another obvious challenge. Attracting and retaining young, educated people to study, live, and work in smart cities is a crucial. The Summit identified that cities first need to increase their livability and grow their enabling infrastructure to support emerging companies, then embark on a city branding campaign that will help attract and retain new talent, startups, services, and the arts.

Seems to me Newcastle has done this back-to-front. Last year the city launched an attractive new branding initiative but we haven’t addressed the key issues of transport, new business support or broadband. We have an incredibly good lifestyle in Newcastle but much of the basic infrastructure that will encourage innovation and growth is still wanting.

If our leaders can address these key issues and then establish programs to support and encourage innovation we can truly become a smart city.

Vale Warwick Teece
20Feb12

Newcastle media and advertising stalwart Warwick Teece passed away last Friday night. Warwick had been a successful radio broadcaster on both 2NX and 2HD where his open line talk-back show became highly influential in the region.

Warwick moved onto a long and respected career in advertising with wife Lyn Thurnham and their agency Thurnham Teece.

He’ll be sorely missed.

Our thoughts go out to Lyn and Warwick’s family.

27 reasons why you need a digital marketing strategy
16Feb12

by [me]

Let’s face it, the face of marketing has totally changed over the last decade. We have moved on from an era when broadcast media ruled the marketing world and all you had to do to reach potential customers was run a TV schedule or place some ads in the paper or on the radio or perhaps whack a big message up on a billboard. Now your customers are in charge of the media they consume and prefer to find what they need through online search and social endorsement or recommendation than be advertised to.

We are now in the era of inbound marketing where providing solutions and relevant information is a more effective way to attract potential customers. It is now incumbent upon us to build relationships and trust first.

The new marketing paradigm is tricky but it can also be extremely rewarding for organisations that get it right. I’ve seen dozens of companies totally transform their marketing and results over the last few years by adopting a holistic marketing strategy. They’ve combined intelligent web design with clever search engine optimisation, mixed in social media and tweaked conversion funnels to achieve exceptional results.

Its the whole theory behind my agency’s new 360 Degree Digital Marketing Strategy.(<- click on the link for more information)

Yep, the world of marketing has changed. Here are another 27 reasons why you need a professional digital marketing strategy:

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Its a war for web supremacy and you’re in the crossfire
27Jan12

Google v Facebook: its war

Larry Page & Mark Zuckerberg. (Image originally atlanticwire.com)

Every time you go online you are entering a war zone. It might not feel like it, but there is an almighty battle taking place between two superpowers and you are caught in the crossfire.

Welcome to the war for web supremacy. The super powers, if you haven’t already guessed, are the search behemoth Google and social heavyweight champion Facebook. The prize is you and your data.

Sure, there are other combatants in this war; Twitter, Apple, Bing, LinkedIn…even Yahoo!, but they are merely involved in skirmishes and are open to being co-opted into alliances with the main players. Amazon currently appears to be Switzerland (more about them another time).

The nature of systems like the web is that monopolies emerge. We have a dominant search engine in Google, a dominant online encyclopedia in Wikipedia, a dominant retailer in Amazon, a dominant auction site in eBay, and now we have a dominant social network in Facebook. That’s normal and has been happening in business for centuries.

But what happens when two different monopolies decide to battle for a middle ground? That’s where it gets interesting, and that whats happening now. Facebook and Google share common goals but differing philosophies.

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How to create a kickass online marketing strategy
17Jan12

Create a kickass online marketing plan

Andrew and Elise had a dream to launch a business that provided people with the mind-blowing experience of swimming with dolphins in the wild. They now receive bookings online every day and meet their (pre-paid) customers dockside just prior to the swim. They did it with a kickass online marketing strategy.

Don decided it was time for his innovative Australian-based software solutions company to launch in the most competitive market in the world, the USA, and compete against the might of software giants Oracle and SAP. Two years later they’ve not only launched in the USA, they’re winning a significant share of the market and exceeding all sales projections. They did it with the help of a kickass online marketing strategy.

I’m proud to say that my team at Sticky were involved in creating these and many other successful strategies for clients over the last 6 years. Now we have distilled that thinking into an e-book that provides you with the information you need to create your own kickass plan – The Sticky Guide to Online Marketing.

If you have been thinking about launching a new business, growing your current business online, or have been frustrated with your results online then this e-book is your guide to successful online marketing and sales. Its an actual step-by-step plan that you can begin following from day one to improve your online marketing and results

The Sticky Guide to Online Marketing will be released in late February but you can find out more and get your own free copy via NLYZR.

Rethinking media consumption for improved productivity
9Jan12

originally uploaded by http://www.intersectionofonlineandoffline.com

Ok, I’ll admit it….I’m a little bit addicted to social networks. Using Twitter, Facebook, LinkedIn and Google+ is an important part of my work, but it probably fair to say that over the course of a day I am exceeding what is needed to effectively get the job done. When you add the many different blogs and websites I check daily for great content and industry news, I am beginning to consume an amazing amount of media.

And then it becomes a default habit, something that can easily fill the day and lead you down endless clickable rabbit holes.

I’m sure I’m not alone. These days we’re consuming more media than anytime in history. Its accessible 24/7 and sometimes it seems that we are too. The lines between work and play have become so blurred that we tend to suffer an inevitable burnout.

This year I am totally rethinking how I consume media with the aim to improve my productivity and put some more space between work and play. The approach I am adopting is based on dedicated devices and apps for different functions:

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