Twitter Follows Instagram’s Lead on E-Commerce

Unlike Twitter’s e-commerce efforts with companies such as Amazon and American Express, this one will not require buyers to send a public message with a special hashtag to buy the product being offered. Instead, they will click on a “buy” button inside the Twitter message. The service will then prompt them to enter their credit card and shipping informationor, if it is already on file, ask them to click again to confirm the purchase.

So I know I posted last week about how Instagram has integrated e-commerce directly into its platform, but Twitter’s recent announcement that it will be getting in on the game was worth a post, too. Cause this is big, y’all. Streamlined and simplified options for potential customers are likely to drive major results.

The True Utility of Social Media Marketing: Communicating Purpose

Social media marketing is far more than an online popularity contest, and the better business owners understand the value of these tactics, the better they can use them for their company.

Responsive companies are always looking for ways that they can engage customers in novel ways, and social media is an obvious strategy for any company in the modern context. But social media can be so much more than a platform for promoting a product — the bigger goal is to use social media to let the company’s purpose, personality, and identity shine through.

As this article points out, it’s also an excellent way to improve customer service, as well as to prove on a public platform the company’s commitment to keeping customers happy.

No Place for Fixed Mindsets in Your Business

A “fixed mindset” assumes that our character, intelligence, and creative ability are static givens which we can’t change in any meaningful way, and success is the affirmation of that inherent intelligence, an assessment of how those givens measure up against an equally fixed standard; striving for success and avoiding failure at all costs become a way of maintaining the sense of being smart or skilled. A “growth mindset,” on the other hand, thrives on challenge and sees failure not as evidence of unintelligence but as a heartening springboard for growth and for stretching our existing abilities. Out of these two mindsets, which we manifest from a very early age, springs a great deal of our behavior, our relationship with success and failure in both professional and personal contexts, and ultimately our capacity for happiness.

This study by Carol Dweck has by this point made its rounds and is quite famous. But I came across it again today, and I got to thinking about its implications for business. We’re always talking about the importance of hiring adaptable people, and this is perhaps the most important measure of adaptability there is. Responsive companies would do well to take steps to determine whether candidates have “fixed mindsets” or “growth mindsets” during the interview process, as a whole team of growth minds would undoubtedly be the best possible scenario.

As leaders, too, I think it’s important to reflect on how we think about ourselves and our staff — and whether we perceive capabilities as finite or infinite.

Apple’s Smart Watch Responds to Market Trends in Unprecedented Ways

On Tuesday, Apple revealed its long-awaited watch. Given that companies like Samsung, LG, and Motorola have already made their mark on this space–with hardware that quite honestly, doesn’t look all that different from Apple’s–it would be easy to dismiss the Apple Watch as another product in the quickly crowded market. But if you look closely, you can spot some ideas lurking in Apple’s thought process that break with the current status quo–ideas that are sure to impact the design of mainstream technology in the years to come.

There has of course been a lot of hullabaloo lately about the Apple smart watch, from critics and fans alike. I’ve read enough of these to seriously hinder my productivity in the last few days, but this is the first post I came across that really succeeded in making some valuable points about what Apple is offering that other companies aren’t.

The author points out the importance of the current concern over security, and how the watch does its part to uphold it by requiring thumbprint verification before an automatic payment can be made with the phone. This definitely has the ability to make Apple payments competitive, but my gut tells me that it will be popular not only because the security features protect customers, but also because having thumbprint technology on your phone is pretty freaking cool. The novelty of that is likely to be key to its success.

In addition, this post points out that tech products are becoming ever more customizable and ever more luxurious, and Apple’s smart watch made sure to cater to this growing demand. This might be the most crucial decision it made with the watch, since people see their devices more and more as an extension of themselves. Other tech companies would be wise to consider how they might tap into latent connections between technology, status symbols, and a sense of identity.

Weekend Reading






Venture Capital


How to Initiate the New Hires

It’s natural for the best employees to want to make a big impact; that’s likely a key trait that led to their hiring. But, as leaders, when we give our employees big impact projects before they’re ready, we’re setting them up to fail. We didn’t spend significant time and money recruiting them to set them on that path.

This Facebook exec makes a good point when he says that sometimes big mistakes are made when new hires get right down to business on making big changes to high-impact work. This mirrors a point that we’ve made time and time again about strategy for the company as a whole: that it’s important to test hypotheses, experiment, and generally focus on making small growth steps that are informed by a lot of data, rather than diving in to pursuing a big master plan.

But at the same time, we’d argue that it’s crucial to harness the fresh perspective that new employees bring to the table. A risk you take by limiting them to small tasks is that they may lose that outsider point-of-view before they even get to the good stuff. That’s for each company to work through in its own way, but it’s important to strike a balance that keeps new hires engaged.

Burn the Master Plan

So don’t waste time on the front end penning insular prophecies that likely won’t survive your company’s first year (or perhaps even first month) of growth. Instead, go lean from the get-go by prioritizing judicious resource allocation, a narrow focus, and the willingness to pursue never-ending experimentation so that you can learn from your company’s experience instead of trying to predict it.

An incredibly articulate argument against the master plan, in favor of flexibility, experimentation, and step-by-step growth. This is one of the hardest things to deprogram from corporate cultures, but one of the most important. Responsive organizations have to realize that they can’t predict anything so far in advance in our new, rapidly changing business climate, so it’s best to set sights on one goal at a time. We live and breathe uncertainty like never before, so businesses have to learn to thrive on it, rather than being hindered by it.

Flexible Work Schedules Aren’t Just A Perk

There’s no reason to think that a strictly scheduled 40-hour (or 50-hour, or 60-hour … ) workweek is the best system either for the economy or all of us who constitute it. What we think of as standard today is just a historical holdover that’s very much showing its age, said Ellen Galinsky, president and co-founder of the Families and Work Institute. ‘In the industrial era, we had a notion that, because productivity was essentially on an assembly line, presence equals productivity. If you’re manufacturing things, you have to be present in order to do that,’ she said. ‘And that image of productivity has been very hard to change, even though work isn’t like that anymore.’

There’s overwhelming evidence that allowing for more flexible workweeks and for employees to determine their own schedules can actually increase productivity and worker satisfaction. Just as hierarchical organizations are a “historical holdover” from the industrial era, so perhaps is the rigid 40-hour workweek.

There are a lot of very valid arguments you could make for more flexible work schedules, not least of which is that employees are more likely to take ownership over projects if it’s clear that the company really trusts them to get the work done, on their own terms. And of course, happy employees = lower turnover.

Dwnld Streamlines and Integrates App Content

For $15 a month, Dwnld gives brands and celebrities their own app: an aggregation of their blogs, social feeds, and RSS feeds fit into an attractive little mobile app package. Customers upload their content, choose from a series of templates and design choices and then Dwnld submits the app to Apple on their behalf.

Dwnld is something that smaller companies that don’t yet have apps might want to consider. But even for those companies that don’t need their services, Dwnld’s story provides a good case study of where mobile trends are likely headed: streamlining, integration, and simplification. The app world has become overwhelming, so where it’s possible for companies to consolidate all their blogs and other content into one app, that’s what they will want to do.

In addition, this is just one in a slew of startups that is focused on embedding commerce directly into content sites or apps, so that customers can immediately buy what they see without leaving the original site.

What Makes Vice So Special?

Part of what’s kept Vice’s culture intact through its growth so far, and perhaps one of the factors that has contributed to that growth, is the company’s collaborative culture, and its osmotic sort of approach to grooming and keeping talent. Talking to employees across several of the company’s departments and divisions, as we recently did, a pattern emerges that through steps both strategic and organic, Vice has built and maintains an internal culture that revolves around an open flow of ideas and encourages the creative growth of its talent.

Vice is a media company that has thrived in a time when nearly every other major media company has either failed or struggled like never before. So it’s worth considering what they’re doing that sets them apart. This article details how the company engages and develops talent, encourages creative collaboration, and creates consistent branding. A key to its success seems to be a relatively non-hierarchical structure, where everyone feels they have the agency to participate where they feel they can add value and speak up when they see something they don’t like.