Blog / Tech Updates

The latest & greatest news you’ll want to follow. Seriously. SRSLY.


July’s Episode of Tech Circuit

Tune in to Tech Circuit for the July show on the KMBZ Business Channel. Each month we tackle tech topics in the news, trending updates, and even some things that aren’t necessarily on everyone’s radar yet. The show has a lineup of engaging guests and news-makers on the KC tech “circuit” and makes for a unique Kansas City angle and focus. Read More…


The Future Of Mobile Technology: Listen Live Today At 1pm CST

This week’s edition of Tech Circuit on The KMBZ Business Channel will feature experts that are driving the future of mobile and mobile technology: Engage Mobile Solutions, Sporting Innovations, and FitBark. Kansas City area listeners can tune in on 1660 am radio, or listen live by clicking here.

Because of popular demand, Tech Circuit will air every other Wednesday at 1pm (it used to be monthly). It is the only radio program in Kansas City that provides original news in the Kansas City tech scene. Each week they will feature a unique topic related to new tech updates or what is trending in the Kansas City area. It is hosted by Krista Klaus, and regulars co-hosts of the program include:

  • Keith Krieger, technology education director JCCC
  • Results Technology Executive VP Patrick Murphy
  • Voltage Creative, digital marketing strategist Corey Morris

This edition will air at 1pm today on AM 1660 radio. To listen live via smartphone, click here.


Why Every Local Business Owner Should Utilize Google My Business

Google My Business

Do you use Google+? It’s ok to admit if you don’t, but even if you don’t use it for personal purposes, it’s crucial your business does. Did you know that 97 percent of your customers search for your business online? Google My Business makes sure your information is out there for your customers to easily find. Here’s a few things to think about. Read More…


Is Your Business Safe From Cyber Criminals?

In the wake of the White House computer network getting hacked and National Cyber Security Awareness Month, we couldn’t find a better time to talk about cyber security on Tech Circuit KMBZ Business Channel at 1pm today. We will talk with special agent Chris Lamb on code wars, property theft, cyber terrorism, fraud, extortion, and how you can keep your home and business safe from cyber criminals. The panel of experts also included are Keith Krieger, our own Corey Morris, and Burton Kelso. To see a short preview, view our Youtube video.


This edition will air at 1pm today on AM 1660 radio. To listen live via smartphone, click here.


How to Negotiate Terms with a Daily Deals Site (Groupon, Living Social etc…)

D is for deal.

Daily deals sites are red hot right now. Appearing on one of these sites can be a big exposure boost, but it’s also important that the deal offered works for you and your business. That sounds like a no-brainer, but the web is filled with horror stories of mom-and-pop shops or early start ups getting burned by the big daily deals sites like Groupon and Living Social.

This is a judgement-free post by the way. The daily deal thing works for some businesses and doesn’t for others–despite possible misconceptions by business owners or proselytizing by Groupon’s sales department.

Getting Down to Business

First, you need to realize that this will be a cost center, not a profit center. You will lose money doing a daily deal, and in many cases the boost in exposure will be well worth the expense–it’s your call. What we want to do is minimize the expense once you’ve made that call.

Here’s a few tips to help you out. Some of these apply to general negotiation, but this specific post is obviously specifically tailored to wheeling and dealing with Groupon and the like.

  1. Know you’re outgunned: Be aware that you’re negotiating with someone who attempts these negotiations 10 times a day. Ostensibly, they’re good enough to get paid to do it professionally. They will press hard on terms; they’re supposed to. This isn’t a good/bad thing–it’s their job so they do it all the time. It’s not your job so you should prepare a bit. Figure out what you want, what you can afford and don’t budge. Accepting the reality of this situation can also offer some valuable perspective as you’re listing to their pitch.
  2. Pick your battles and be realistic about demands: There are some conditions, like terms of use and duration of acceptance, under which they negotiate with a lot of flexibility. Then there are others, like dollars of revenue, under which they are more constrained.
  3. Recognize the value of exclusivity: Be very clear on the existence or absence of any non-compete agreements. Don’t accept one from anyone except Groupon either. They’re the biggest fish in the pond by far, and in my opinion, the only one worth entering a non-compete to do business with. Groupon, last time I checked, requires a 90-day “no other daily deals” agreement. That might be fair in their specific instance, due to their market reach. In the other cases, it’s not and you should make sure to reject a non-compete agreement unless you get some real concessions made elsewhere.
  4. Play low power to buy time and objectivity: Finally, whoever negotiates should pretend not to be in charge, whether they are or not. This sort of allows you to play good cop bad cop all by yourself. “That sounds good to me, but can you put it in writing for my boss?” is your best defense against making a poor decision in the heat of the moment. It is totally acceptable and can diffuse a high-pressure sales pitch. Forcing a quick decision is one of the oldest and best negotiating tactics because humans are emotional creatures and perform poorly under pressure. Use this tactic to buy yourself some time to think things over. As long as you play man-in-the-middle, whether you are or not, you have the ability to stop and start negotiating sessions. You can take the time you need to run numbers, do some research or just take a step back and think it over.

In any negotiation you will have parties with different goals. This doesn’t mean you have to be antagonistic, but you must be a good shepherd to your own interests and those of your business. Never forget that their job is to make the biggest possible pile of cash selling your product, then take 50%. Your job is to make the pile the right size for your business, and then take 75%. Good luck!

I’d like to extend a big thanks to Tom Kessler for starting the discussion that led to this blog post. You can follow Tom on Twitter @magicclams.


Ford’s Mustang Social Media App is Killing It

We’ve seen an increased amount of site traffic to the Mustang homepage. We’ve seen an increase in leads. We’ve seen an increase in engagement rates when we post about it on our Facebook page. We’ve seen increases across the board.

Source: Ford Mustang Rides Social App For Sales Leads

Yes, social media is oversold. It’s no silver bullet. This isn’t social media’s fault though, sometimes there are only lead bullets. (Most times, actually.)

What social media is is another tool in a vast array of publishing options available to marketers today. And occasionally, as in Ford’s Case above, it’s just the thing.


Digital Sharecropping and The Future of Social Media Platforms

h-is-for-harvest

I deleted my Facebook profile a few weeks ago because they unilaterally altered the terms of our agreement for the sixth time in five years. They did so in a way that explicitly benefited them over me. The original agreement went something like this (paraphrased):

Facebook: I’ll give you a private place to build something of value to you and your peers online. In exchange I’m going to show you ads.

Me: OK.

But then the agreement changed, and changed, and kept changing until I left.

I’m pretty tech-savvy and was never under any illusions about my sharecropper status at Facebook. I left when the arrangement became undesirable and in doing so, left any value I’d created with them. That’s all you can do when you don’t own the information. Right now, Facebook is the largest land owner online and 400 million+ people are sharecropping. We’re farming their land, they get a cut and it’s their way or the highway.

Social Media Sharecropping

Facebook gives us space and tools. We then create value by populating the space with user generated content. In exchange they get to extract value from the content we provide, but it’s totally different from the social value we extract. Their value is in the form of advertising and/or data mining (for other advertisers) but it’s a shared value proposition either way. This is basically the whole crux of the Web 2.0 movement. Users are adding value to the web and the owners benefit directly or indirectly which makes everything “free.” (I’m painting in broad strokes to make a point, bear with me…)

The caveat, and what makes the sharecropping allegory really stick, is that when we spend time adding value to their site and they unilaterally change the terms of the agreement there’s nothing we can do because they own the land, we just work here. It’s not easy for us to take our built up value (aka information) with us, if we can do it at all. There’s little to no data portability.

I’m singling out Facebook because they’re the elephant in the room, but there are tons of sites online where you can sharecrop or do something similar: MySpace, Flickr, Digg, YouTube, Twitter, Foursquare, Metafilter, Deviant Art, Etsy and on and on. It’s worth noting that many of these communities are more like co-ops or some other mutually-beneficial relationship with many degrees of data ownership and portability in between.

The Haves and Have-Nots

Digesting this concept can be tough, so I’m speaking in metaphors. If someone doesn’t know the difference between a web browser and a search engine, how are they to make the distinction of whether or not the value they’ve been curating and creating belongs to them? Maybe the better question is, does it even matter? The answer is the same as the answer to most questions; it depends.

I’m a bad candidate for sharecropping. Some are not.

Real sharecroppers are generally too poor to afford land; they’re a step above indentured servants. However, the hard cost of creating a web property these days is nominal. With free software, commodity hosting and a registered domain name; you can be up and running for the cost of a large pizza. This shifts the monetary wealth in our sharecropping metaphor from haves and have-nots, to knows and know-nots.

I am not poor at all in this new know and know-not sense. I know how to build websites, I do it all the time. Which is what leads me to the point I was at two weeks ago: staring at Facebook’s account deletion page.

I was done creating value for them. In most of my tenure as a Facebook user it was just a glorified address book to me, so I’m sure I was a low value user anyway. The point is I have other options. I can create content on the web on my own terms. I have several web properties that I unconditionally own and create value around. But wither the forced sharecropper?

Building Portable Value

The majority of people I interact with on a day to day basis  can’t build their own website; my best friend can’t, my wife can’t. True land ownership online is not an option for them. So if they want to create something online they’re left to sharecropping.

As I said before, the options are many. However, In my opinion the desirable options are few. Here are two of my favorites that I often find myself recommending to others.

Posterous Export Options

Posterous – This is probably the best recommendation because it hooks into just about everything (see above) and does so with little or no technical knowledge from the user. In fact, it could be argued that Posterous’ best use is as a hub for exporting data to other sharecropping arrangements or “walled gardens”, but the key is that it does export well with no advanced technical knowledge. They also have a nice display interface themselves with lots of options.

Wordpress.com

WordPress.com – It has one-touch data export and once the data is out you can manipulate on your own terms. You do have to be technically inclined to do so, but it’s a nice feature for users who start out as sharecroppers and then build their informational wealth to a point that they’re ready to own some land. (I’m biased though, I cut my web development teeth on the open-source version of WordPress.)

There are other good options, I’m sure, but the important thing is that both of these services cater to the non-tech savvy without using it against them for data lock-in.

The Future

Some may argue this is all moot point because if a person is tech-illiterate enough they won’t care or understand why data lock-in is bad, but if they’re too tech-savvy they may just go off and build their own thing. I respectfully disagree…

It may because of articles like this, or it may be because people are just pissed they can’t get their photos out of Facebook, but there is a small middle ground that is growing; and I think it will continue to grow into the majority. They understand the importance of data portability and the concepts of an open web for one reason or the other, and they demand services that offer value in this form.