LEFT BEHIND: The Painful Price of Not Keeping Up With Technology

My 75-year-old in-laws came to visit for Thanksgiving and by the end of the weekend, I was feeling, both guilty for not helping them immigrate into the foreign land of technology earlier, and inspired to learn even more about technology trends and new tech tools as I…. get older.

Technology Social Media Expert, Gina Schreck, Technology Trends

Seniors and Technology

My mother-in-law was complaining about the fact her bank was starting to charge her $8 a month for not using their online banking features.  Online banking was both scary for her to consider doing and sad for her to think of not being able to go in and visit Kim and Diane, her favorite tellers.  She doesn’t like talking to the tellers through the drive through window and would never consider trusting the ATM to deposit checks or withdraw money.  How would she be sure it posted to her account correctly?  Who would answer her questions she might have on her statement?

She said the other day the clerk at the department store where she regularly shops, asked her if she downloaded the coupon that was offered on their Facebook Page.  I can just imagine the blank stare my mother-in-law gave that 16-year-old, who probably could not fathom anyone NOT being on Facebook.  My father-in-law chimed in with his disdain for the word “apps.”  “I’m tired of hearing about this app and that app.  Everyone acts like we understand what that means!”

Imagine waking up one morning in a foreign country.  You do not speak the language and cannot read the signs posted around town.  You have currency that no one accepts and you own tools that don’t seem to work any longer.  This is the feeling many seniors have today.  They are digital immigrants.  They may have immigrated voluntarily or perhaps they were sent over kicking and screaming, but they are foreigners in a foreign land.  Although a Nielson study showed that those 65 years and older pick Facebook as one of their top internet destinations, I believe it is because they are trying desperately to access their family that left them in this foreign land so they can slap them!

With one boomer turning 65 every 8 seconds starting this January 2011, there are some things we can do to ensure we are not leaving anyone behind feeling isolated and lost.  As a business owner, I also want to make sure I am not throwing around lingo and techno-jargon that makes digital-immigrants more confused and isolated.

Here are 4 steps we can all take to help others and stay relevant ourselves so we are not LEFT BEHIND:

1. Commit to learning one new technology tool this month.  Whether it is sending text messages to your family or taking a class (even via YouTube) on a new video editing software or starting your own blog.

2. Commit to teaching someone one new technology tool this month.  Show your parents how to download a photo from an email or better yet how to sign onto FLICKR and browse your family albums.  Download a sudoku or crossword puzzle app on their phone or iPad (you might not want to call it an app!)

3. Browse through the TECHNOLOGY category in the iTunes library or on YouTube to find a podcast you enjoy that discusses technology trends, and subscribe to it.  Commit to listening to one podcast per week to stay up on the latest lingo and tech terms…like APP or CLOUD COMPUTING!  (Some of my favorites are from the TWIT Network-This Week In Technology- just search for TWIT in iTunes Podcasts)

4. Find and subscribe to one technology blog.  Go to Technorati and browse a category that interests you and then send that particular blog to your eReader or receive it as an email (if you wouldn’t get overwhelmed by one more email).  I like getting them sent to my Google Reader which ends up being a customized newspaper for me.  If you own an iPad, download the free and OH-SO-AMAZING app, FLIPBOARD and “flip” through the pages of your favorite blog posts and magazine sources each day.

Share some of your tips to stay relevant and keep that GREY MATTER  from getting too GRAY!

If you are working with seniors or want more resources, info, and products with senior-friendly features, check out this great site: ElderGadget

If your organization needs help bringing folks across that digital divide, give me a hollar, I am your Digital Immigration Officer! @GinaSchreck

36 1/2 Ideas for QR Codes and MicroSoft Tags in YOUR Business

QR Codes for business, QR Codes for learning, Social media for business, Gina Schreck, Technology Expert

QR Code

According to Wikipedia: A QR Code is a matrix barcode (or two-dimensional code), readable by QR scannersmobile phones with a camera, and smartphones. The code consists of black modules arranged in a square pattern on white background. The information encoded can be text, URL or other data.

Common in Japan, where it was created by Toyota subsidiary Denso-Wave in 1994, the QR code is one of the most popular types of two-dimensional barcodes. QR is the acronym for Quick Response, as the creator intended the code to allow its contents to be decoded at high speed.[1]

I like to think of QR Codes as Hyperlinks on our physical world!  They are no longer just black and white and Microsoft Tag has come along and added a few more features that make the little codes even more flexible.

QR codes, Gina Schreck, TechnologyI have been seeing more of the colorful Microsoft tags on the backs of cereal boxes and around town.  These require a separate scanner app from Microsoft (free download on any smart phone-look for Microsoft Tag Reader) and can be customized into pictures that are very cool.

Microsoft Tag can provide data on how often and where the tag was scanned.  You are also able to change the data source without having to change the tag.

Here are a few scanner apps that people have voted as their favorites for QR Codes (be sure and share yours in the comments):

Android Platform: BarCode Scanner (I use this and find it to be the fastest); QuickMark for Android (Both FREE); Google Goggles works for QR codes as well (FREE)

iPhone: Optiscan for iPhone (known as fastest for iPhone -$1.99);  NeoReader (Free); QR Reader (Free); Google Goggles work for scanning as well.

Blackberry: ScanLife Barcode Reader (Free); QR Code Scanner Pro (vibrates when code connects AND Free); NeoReader (Free)

QR Code, Gina Schreck,

QR Code Made From Lego (by LarryStraining)

Here are my favorite QR Code Generators:

ZXing: I like this one because you can embed content (memo), a URL, Contact info, and even a calendar event!

Kaywa: Like above you can choose to embed a URL, text content or contact information, but UNLIKE ZXing, you have to choose one.

TIPS: The more information you put into your QR code, the more complex it will be. The geometric pattern will be denser, and could be more difficult to accurately scan and interpret.  Shorten your URL using a tool like bit.ly to add some analytic features and see how many people are going to the site you sent them to.

36 1/2 Creative Uses for QR Codes or MS Tags:

QR codes for business, unique uses for QR codes, Gina Schreck, Technology expert, social learning, mobile

Sweet Code

1. QR Code on food products to take you to nutritional information.

2. QR Code on produce to tell you where the product was grown.

3. QR Code on items that need assembling taking you to a website with detailed instructions and a video!

4. QR Code inside a book taking you to a website where updates are available.

5. QR Code at zoo or museum to bring up videos or additional information on subject.

6. QR Code at conferences for handouts, exhibitor information and more.

7. QR Code on T-shirt taking prospective clients to your website, Twitter page or a video link for a fun surprise.

8. QR Code on business cards instead of cramming more info on there!

9. QR Code on health club door taking you to a site with great healthy recipes or trainer tips

10. QR Code on paper products with quick and easy recipes for families obviously on the go!

11. QR Code on sticker for laptops, phones, & other important gadgets that get left behind with your contact info.

12. QR Code on a rubber stamp for envelopes, stationary or even your forehead taking people to special promo pages on your site.

13. QR Code at the end of an article taking people to a bonus video.

14. QR Codes providing clues for a treasure hunt.

15. QR Codes around a school yard taking students to learning content (while they play!  SNEAKY)

16. QR Code on art piece taking you to artists portfolio.

17. QR Code at the end of a video on YouTube taking viewers to more fun content.

18. QR Code on wedding invitations or favors taking guests to online photos of the couple.

19. QR Code hidden in product or on raffle tickets – most go to fun content site and one goes to YOU’VE WON page!

20. QR Code on a bus stop bench with links going to car dealers website or eco-friendly sites.

21. QR Code on a grave site to take you to a page telling about the deceased.

22. QR Code on clothing tags taking you to designer websites or sites to provide styling tips.

23. QR Codes around an organization that take you to videos revealing the history or story of a company.

24. QR Code hidden in posters or marketing material that takes you to a special discount code.

25. QR Code on fingernail art taking you to a Facebook page or a nail salon website.

26. QR Code on dog tag taking you to a video sharing dog’s contact info or dog’s Facebook page :))

27. QR Codes on plant stakes to provide growing tips, plant origins, and coupons to fertilizers or gardening supplies.

28. QR Code on belt buckle taking you to your contact info or website.

29. QR Code on cupcakes or cake taking people to a special page with photos or videos featuring the guest of honor.

30. QR Code on car windows at dealer lot to allow shoppers to see video of car features when dealer is closed, or if they want to browse on their own.

31. QR Codes on menus taking people to a video of chef explaining the unique ingredients used.

32.  QR Codes on mailers that are sent out to take prospective customers to a video of you telling them why they should work with you.

33. QR Codes at the end of proposals that take people to a video of you addressing the potential client by name and giving the benefits of working with you.

34. QR Codes at the end of each book chapter with bonus audio or video content.

35. QR Code on business cards taking people to a white paper or free product to download.

36. QR Code on accountant’s business cards taking people to forms they need.

36 1/2. QR Code tattooed on your child…If lost, please return to… OK maybe not!

Now that I have your brain engaged here, what other ideas can you add?  What are creative places and uses you have seen?

5 Tips for Using More Video in Your Organization

5 Tips for Using More Video in Your Organization

(updated August 2016) Our society has an insatiable appetite for video.  It has grown steadily over the past 11+ years since the birth of YouTube and businesses are still behind in using more video in their marketing and customer education. According to statistics compiled by Website Monitoring YouTube has BILLIONS of views per day and people watch an average of 15 minutes of video per day.  I might be one of those “average people” since I do tend to watch videos that come my way via blogs, Twitter, Facebook and, occasionally, through an email.  If I add in the regular TED Talk videos that I watch, I can probably hit that average.

Kids and adults pass around more and more videos on Facebook and we even have Video Barbie, with a built in video camera, getting in on the action~(I do find this somewhat creepy to think little girls will be walking around secretly filming others through Bab’s camera that is embedded into her back and the lens in her chest.)  They could have named her Stalker Barbie! Warning to parents: Pick up those toys in YOUR bedroom before you go to sleep!

Video, Barbie video, Gina Schreck, Technology trends

Stalker Barbie

YouTube is now the second-largest search engine in the world, just behind its parent company…Google.  That’s right, people will go to YouTube to find everything from how to install a new toilet or how to speak with a British accent to finding deep intellectual messages through cartoons like Charlie the Unicorn.   So what does this have to do with business…besides EVERYTHING?


Take a look at some of these fun images from YouTube’s 5-year journey.

Businesses should be capitalizing on the fact that people are seeking information and learning from videos.  With video equipment getting smaller and less expensive, there is no reason why you and your organization shouldn’t be tapping into this insatiable appetite for video consumption.

Here are my 5 tips for getting your community tuned in to your message:

  1. Be Business Casual– When you over-produce or over-script a video, it feels like you are trying to sell us something.  When you turn the camera on yourself and talk authentically, we connect with you.  Look at some of the most successful videos on YouTube…they are not shot by a professional production team, they are simple and conversational.  What tips can you share via video? What’s on your mind that can be turned into a video blog post? You don’t need a professional set or well-written script. Jot some bullet points down and hit that record button. 
  2. Have Great Audio– There are many options now to boost the audio on many pocket video cams with Bluetooth microphones and even a simple lapel mic that plugs into your smartphone.  People will forgive bad video skills as long as they can hear you clearly.  Don’t forget that while doing simple editing after, you can adjust and boost sound as well. 
  3. Set a Fun Backdrop–  Look behind you before you start filming. I have seen videos with bright windows behind the person which turns them into a silhouette, or worse I have seen videos with pictures or lamps behind the person, creating a comical mashup of the person and the object.  Instead of sitting in front of a messy office, create a simple but interesting backdrop that will enhance your video. 
  4. Get the video creation into the Hands of the Community and Co-Create– Remember, YOU don’t have to be the star of every video, or of any videos if you’d rather stay out of the spotlight.  Put the cameras in the hands of your customers, your learners, your fans and let then tell the stories of your company.  Within your organization start a series of WINK videos (What I Now Know) asking everyone from the executive teams to the star employees, “What are 2 or 3 things you know now that you wish you would have known when you started here?” Have your customers create a “Day in the Life of a CUSTOMER!” People love seeing themselves be silly on video.  Create opportunities for participants to create content to use in a training program . Give teams the information they need and challenge them to create a fun, short (5 min in length) and content-packed video that will used to explain a new product roll-out to other teams or in a “Popcorn Learning Segment” in your next training program. Pop some popcorn and view the videos as a group with a debrief or quiz created by the same teams! 
  5. And….ACTION! Get STARTED! Don’t let the need for perfection paralyze you.  Pick something easy to start with like 5 tips on a topic you have expertise in and just push that RECORD button!  You will find ways to get more creative and better with each video you create.

Keep in mind that when you post a video on YouTube, every word you say is transcribed and those words become searchable through Google!  Be strategic if you are wanting your videos to become viral or at least be found by a bigger audience!  You can post your videos on your blog, website, directly into Facebook, or a series of video hosting sites (YouTube is only one of many).

I love to hear the creative uses people find to incorporate video into their marketing, their learning, or other informative uses for business.  How else can we all get creative with simple video?  Let us know in the comment section and let’s learn something together!

Happy Filming!