Picture the scene: the ardent lead detective questions his team – anxiously huddled close by – about any new information in the hunt for the criminals. He pushes, he prods, he orders, he pleads with his fellows to think hard; time is running out. Now cast your eyes to the wall behind the lead detective, what are the detectives staring at?
Images of suspects or “persons of interest”, significant events in date order, addresses, car registrations, any and every piece of information that will help the detectives crack the case. This is the timeline, an interactive representation of the facts, and from it, if they look hard enough, they may just glean enough information to catch the bad guys and save the day. Of course, this is what we see in films and on TV, but it’s obvious enough that timelines such as these are used by real-life detectives. They could just make lists on A4 paper and discuss their findings this way, but that’s not what they do – why not? Elementary: a visual representation of facts like a Popplet, for example, sets neurons firing and makes for a highly effective investigative tool.
It’s not only law enforcement who benefit from using timelines. Timelines are a useful and even essential tool in many different types of situation:
Studying events – any event can be broken down and its parts placed in the order they happened.
History – any historical event or fact can be visualized on a timeline
Biography – leader, writer, artist…
Projects – from going on holiday to setting up a new company
Autobiography – all about you and the milestones of your life
Process – any process that benefits from the recording of significant events
Books, stories, films – explain and understand what’s going on
Writers use Popplet to create timelines for their work
For much of the Popplet community, embedding images and videos into personal popplets is a great way to map ideas and keep track of the resources that facilitate learning, planning, collaboration and understanding.
While this is perfect for private uses of Popplet, from time to time, we come across school policies that require that all images used in classroom popplets, access only images that have a clear copyright statement allowing the images to be republished. Occasionally, we also get asked by business users about how to best source images that can be published in a popplet aimed at their commercial audience.
If your school or workplace has a strict policy on the reuse of images – even in Popplets! – this blog post outlines some key considerations and sources for copyright free images and video materials.
Popplet is playing a central role in the new global productivity movement, “Genius Hour”.
Coined by a credit union manager Jen Shefner, and popularized by productivity guru Dan Pink, Genius Hour is about freeing up a regularly scheduled block of time each week for students, employees, entrepreneurs and creative professionals to follow their own interests, ideas and creative pursuits.
Dan Pink – author of provocative business books like Drive: The Surprising Truth About What Motivates Us and A Whole New Mind: Why Right-Brainers Will Rule The Future – blogged about Genius Hour back in 2011, and his readers have taken to the idea across all industry sectors and professional roles.
Why Businesses Need a Genius Hour
In the business world, it is easy to get focused on reducing the costs of production while generating the profits of consumption but eventually, this can lead to a narrow-minded market position that depends on the same operational process all the time. Meanwhile, what people want from businesses changes, the technologies available change, and our social values mature. Over time, the business model becomes outdated and no longer matches what people want or need.
Giving space to workers to pursue their own line of enquiry, develop new ideas, and extend their skills is being recognized as an investment by businesses not normally attuned to encouraging an entrepreneurial flair and creative spirit amongst their staff. While innovative companies may be dedicating much more time to this spirit of enquiry, even the more conservative industries are beginning to recognize the value of a Genius Hour for their workforce. Continue reading →
Popplet lets creative professionals and their teams think visually to generate new ideas and create new concepts. You can collate images, video, photos and text onto a popplet board, share comments and invite feedback, build new links between ideas, and move information and notes around until you see things from a fresh perspective.
While Popplet has been embraced by the education sector – as was evident in our recent award as one of the 2012 Best Websites for Teaching and Learning – Popplet also has the potential to support uses in other industries and amongst other professional users. Here are 5 ways that creative professionals are using Popplet in their daily work:
Popplet mentioned on http://maketecheasier.com
1. Map content ideas in an outline
Popplet allows writers, film-makers, game designers, and other creative storytellers to outline their ideas and to order the main points between each paragraph or storyboard frame in order to create a clear and flowing story. Last year, Laura Tucker from Make Tech Easier showed how she uses Popplet to plan her articles and create an outline in which her content flows smoothly in each blog post she writes.
2. Store research
While there are a heap of note-taking apps available for the iPad and for online use, and a pile of mind map software tools to choose from as well, only Popplet brings together the best of both types of applications to offer you an ideas platform that lets you review your research on the go and make new connections between ideas. For example, Business coach Edward Hamilton has written about how he uses Popplet for market research collation, and we have shared an example of how you can store research related to your target audience by using Popplet as a buyer persona template.
Popplet mentioned on http://freegreenbeans.com
3. Consult audiences and gain feedback
After you have researched your target audiences, you can use Popplet to speak with them directly! Popplet allows users to make individual popplet boards public so they can be shared over the internet with anyone, even readers who don’t have a Popplet account. We recently interviewed singer/songwriter Abi Robins about how she used this functionality to undertake fan polling for audience engagement. The results helped her decide which new songs to include on her forthcoming album.
4. Collaborate across a creative team
In Popplet, sharing allows users to make their popplet public and viewable by anyone via a URL link, whether they are a popplet user or not. Collaborating allows you to make your popplet boards available only to specific other users, and permissions can be set to allow teammates to view and add to a popplet or to have full access to editing anything you have already created. This allows your creative team to share ideas privately amongst yourselves and to add ideas as you progress. Shared popplets can include nametags so that team members can see who added information every step of the way. Collaboration is only available to other popplet users, but if a team member does not have an existing account, popplet creates a free user profile and provides password and login details directly to each team member’s email that you list.
5. Present creative concepts to clients
Popplet makes it easy for creative professionals and design teams to use a presentation format to show creative concepts to clients. You can send links of the prepared popplets to your clients for viewing and can also create slideshows of pages for use in presentations with clients. The presenter format allows two modes: a full page mode in which the popplet board is shown in its entirety and an animated mode in which a presentation can be created that jumps from popple to popple in sequential order to walk through a story or workflow process with the client. Videos and images can be embedded into popples so that your presentation takes on a multimedia style.
A buyer persona template is a marketing tool used by businesses to describe target segments of their customer market and online audience. Popplet is an ideal online visual thinking tool to use as a buyer persona template.
How Online Environments are Changing Business
The internet and mobile devices have fundamentally changed consumer patterns around the globe. We research and decide what to buy and which services to use by checking our smartphones, chatting in forum discussions, asking our social media networks, and by reading online blogs and reviews… we know that you know what we mean: because we’re all doing it!
As a result, we’re usually about 70% sure of what we want to buy before we even make first contact with some of the businesses on our list of preferences. For anyone in business, this has changed how to go about connecting with potential customers. Media marketing business experts like Nuria Gimenez, Head of Digital Services at GroupM predicts that “By 2016, we will no longer be buying space. We will be buying audiences”. What she means is that more and more often, businesses won’t get noticed by buying advertising space like internet banners or radio spots, but by buying the time and interest of audiences online, who connect with a business and then go on to share their experiences within their wider networks.
The Buyer Persona Template Technique
Internet marketing leaders, like Adam Singer at the Future Buzz, Barbara Gago on Content Marketing Institute and Lee Odden at TopRank all encourage businesses to enhance the experience of customers by really thinking about what customers want. You can use a buyer persona template in your business planning to describe your potential audience segments. This is a technique that can help you describe how your audience connects to businesses online, and what your customers want from the experience.
Above: Buyer personas: definitions and discussion from the experts
Hopefully, using buyer persona templates will mean your business is better able to respond to customer needs. This creates a deeper connection so that there is a personal, ongoing relationship between your brand and the value people get from it.
Singer, Gago and Odden all suggest asking yourself questions that help to understand your customers, and from the research you uncover, you can create a few profiles of different target market segments and their preferences. The thinking behind this is that you can better provide the type of online content for each audience segment if you have a clear picture in your head about who they are, how they move about online, and what are their common preferences and interests.
The Buyer Persona Template in Practice
Globally, many businesses are looking to connect with new consumers in the emerging markets of China, Russia, Brazil and the Middle East. We have used the internet marketing experts’ techniques to describe one of these new audiences. Here’s our Popplet buyer persona describing Russian consumers.
Above: Buyer persona template for Russian consumers using Popplet
For our buyer persona template, we drew from a combination of data sources and categorized our information by using some of the questions suggested by Adam Singer, Barbara Gago and Lee Odden to understand the audience better.
(Behind the scenes, we also filed all of our source materials (including the funky images we sourced from designcollector) in a delicious stack. Our monthly newsletter to blog subscribers will include links to these background tools and source materials. Our first newsletter edition also includes a step-by-step guide on how to build your own buyer persona template, and access to a blank template so you can start collecting data about your market straight away. Subscribe to our newsletter before December 31 to make sure you don’t miss out on these extra goodies!)
You can use a buyer persona template to dig deeper or step back to a broader level and understand your audience better. Our Russian consumer persona, for example, could be broadened into a category like ‘consumers in emerging markets’ or become more focused, for example, ‘Russian women aged 16 – 35’. Collating your information in a Popplet can give you new insights into your audience that improve your business operations and your customer’s experience with your business.
Work Collaboratively with your Buyer Persona Template
Popplet works as a collaborative tool that lets your business discuss who your customers are and what they want. You can share ideas within your business teams by selecting collaborators who can contribute to the popplet. Use the Popplet labs settings to decide who can add to the popplet and who can edit your existing popples.
How do you use Popplet as a business tool? Share your thoughts in our comments below.