links for 2009-04-28

  • Last fall, when I met Laura Fitton (Twitter name @pistachio) at a conference, I heard that she was the Queen of Twitter. So I asked her, “Do you really have time to get online and find out which of your friends is in the bathroom?” She persuaded me that Twitter was the real deal, so I invited her to come to Communispace, my company (which builds online customer communities), and present to our staff about the Twitter phenomenon.
    Two weeks later, Laura introduced us all to the world of hashtags (Twitter keywords preceded by a #) and DMs and @s and RTs (you can look them up). I learned that a follower didn’t have to be as close as a Facebook friend, that Barack Obama had the most followers of anyone, and that if I wanted to witness a company doing a good job with Twitter, I should check out Starbucks ( SBUX – news – people ).
    (tags: Twitter)
  • As the recession grinds on and anxiety over mass layoffs mounts, the managerial class is trying something new: the 10% (or so) solution. Executives at such companies as Hewlett-Packard (HPQ), New York Times (NYT), and most recently, Best Buy (BBY), are slashing pay. Targeting compensation might seem like a no brainer: No one gets the ax. Bosses don’t have to hire like mad when the economy snaps back. But there’s little in officeland as psychologically loaded as money.
    (tags: HR)

  • Tweety Bird would never believe this.
    If media attention is any indication, Twitter has exploded into an all-out phenomenon. Celebrities, politicians, entrepreneurs, business leaders and everyday users are flocking to the service en masse, generating a frenzy of activity and attention.
    Everybody is talking about Twitter, but what do the numbers say?
    eMarketer estimates there were roughly 6 million Twitter users in the US in 2008, or 3.8% of Internet users.
    (tags: Twitter)
  • As if the non-stop economic challenges of the past two years weren’t bad enough, a hidden crisis is beginning to emerge from the economic rubble of 2007-2008: Corporate leaders have to deal with a challenge for which they are completely unprepared.
    Companies are increasingly recognizing that today’s turbulent times require nothing short of continual reinvention. Weathering today’s storm isn’t enough. Companies have to develop the ability to regularly renew their firms before the next crisis hits.
    This kind of corporate reinvention can only happen if leaders can reinvent themselves. Most leaders just aren’t ready to grapple with the paradoxes that will increasingly characterize their day-to-day lives. For example, are you ready to run operations with laser-like precision without stifling creativity? Or leverage current capabilities to win in today’s markets, and forget many of these capabilities to win in tomorrow’s markets?
    (tags: Leadership)
  • For people who work for themselves, the self-imposed deadline is a fact of life. Whether you’re starting a business, writing a dissertation, or consulting for a dozen clients, paying attention only to your drop-dead dates would mean never meeting them. You obviously have to set up interim goals along the way.
    But the art of self-scheduling is not unique to entrepreneurs and PhD students. It’s one that I actively — and successfully — practiced for the two decades I spent working for other people. And it’s now making my transition to freelance life a lot smoother. Here are the self-scheduling techniques that worked for me really well in the office — and that remain the hallmarks of my working style out on the professional fringes:
  • ndroid is rapidly gaining ground among mobile Internet surfers but Apple’s iPhone still remains the king, according to the latest report from the mobile advertising platform AdMob.
    The company’s latest mobile metrics report measures the amount of ad requests it receives from mobile phones to identify what types of smartphones are popular for mobile Internet browsing. While AdMob’s figures aren’t definitive because they only measure the company’s network, they’re a good indicator of mobile Web usage patterns.
  • Federal Reserve Chairman Ben S. Bernanke and former Treasury secretary Henry M. Paulson Jr. threatened to remove the management and board of Bank of America if it backed out of its deal to acquire ailing investment house Merrill Lynch late last year, according to documents released yesterday by New York Attorney General Andrew M. Cuomo.
    Kenneth Lewis, Bank of America’s chief executive, told investigators he wanted to stop the merger because “devastating losses” at Merrill would be detrimental to his company, the documents show. But the threat from Paulson changed his mind, he told the attorney general’s office.
  • Our analysis of executive pay shows which big bosses made the most and which deserved what they made.
    After a 15% collective pay cut in 2007, chief executives of the 500 biggest companies in the U.S. (as measured by a composite ranking of sales, profits, assets and market value) took another reduction in total compensation, 11%, for 2008. The last time the big bosses took a pay hit for two consecutive years was in 2001 and 2002.
    In total, these 500 executives earned $5.7 billion in 2008, which averages out to $11.4 million apiece and computes to less than 1% of total revenues and 3% of total profits of their companies.
    (tags: HR)
  • Many wars have been launched with less upfront analysis than some home shoppers are putting into their quests. A proliferation of data-drenched real estate Web sites — and an oversupply of listings, allowing buyers to take their time hunting for just the right place — has given rise to a new breed of buyer, the datahead.
    The vast majority of buyers search listings online and rely on photos and 360-degree panoramas to narrow the selection. But the data lovers, most of them young, skeptical and highly plugged in, take the search a step further. They set up alerts via computer or Internet-connected phone for when one of their target listings has a price reduction or goes off the market. They compare list-price-to-sales-price ratios. They compare price per square foot for each home that catches their eye. They look up the average age, income and family size of their targeted neighborhoods. Some set up spreadsheets to keep track of all the statistics.
    (tags: realestate)
  • Most US economic indicators were down in Q1 2009, but online sales were an exception.
    According to a survey by Forrester Research and, US online retail sales rose an average of 11% in the first three months of 2009.
    Of the 80 companies studied, 58% saw online sales increases compared with the same quarter last year.
    (tags: ecommerce)
  • ASIDE from some gardening and baby-sitting in my neighborhood when I was a child, my first summer job was in the summer of 1962, just before my first year of college. It was at Shoe Giant, a large discount shoe store in Langley Park, in Prince George’s County of Maryland, and I got the job thanks to a high school pal who also worked there.
    (tags: sales)
  • While Web 2.0 applications such as blogs, wikis and social networks have been wildly popular with consumers, efforts to measure the technology’s success for businesses have returned mixed results. In fact, recent research from the Burton Group indicates that business leaders have struggled to define best use cases, measure their success and chart returns on investment.
    (tags: technology)
  • Bill McAlister, president of Media Enterprises, has a dart board on his office wall. He relaxes by throwing at it when he’s alone and uses it to break the ice when outsiders come by. Distracting? Maybe. But genuinely useful.
    A lot of chief executives have more than just polished wood furniture and paintings of mallards on ponds in their offices. But Bob Whitman says there has been a move toward more modest, unpretentious furnishings lately. Whitman is the CEO of Franklin Covey ( FCVYP.OB – news – people ), a consulting outfit started by the self-help author Stephen Covey. He says that, of the last 20 CEOs’ offices he’s visited, maybe two had a very personal feel to them.
    (tags: Leadership)

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