Using Video to Engage Consumers

There’s been a lot written about the best way to engage consumers on social media but what is often overlooked is the use of videos.  Videos are an excellent way to entertain your current customers, attract new ones, and spread your brand’s reach.

One reason for this is the longevity of videos; they have a much longer shelf-life than posts or tweets.  Additionally, “a recent Kissmetrics study found that, with an average time of four minutes and 49 seconds spent on YouTube, and 5.13 pages viewed per visit, YouTube outperforms Facebook, Twitter, and Pinterest for user attention and retention—all due to the power of video.”[1]  And if you’re still on the fence, the Bigcommerce Blog reports that a strong video marketing strategy can increase the likelihood of your website receiving first-page search engine results by up to 53 times.

If you’d like to start using video to engage your target audience, here are some quick tips:

  • Keep It Short.  Don’t take 5 minutes to say what you could just as easily say in 90 seconds.  Remember that your audience’s attention span is limited.

  • Distribute and Promote Your Video.  Not only should you upload your video on YouTube, but you should also place it prominently on your website.  Don’t forget to promote it on social media as well, so that it gets maximum exposure.

  • Create a Great Video.  Forbes contributor, Ilya Pozin, suggests that the videos that are most likely to go viral are humorous, inspiring, uplifting, engaging, or informative.  He cites the Old Spice videos as an example.  The videos consist of the Old Spice guy responding to fans’ questions in short YouTube videos.  Getting the audience involved in this way made the videos more interesting and shareable.

  • Make It SEO-Friendly.  Don’t forget tags, keywords, and a description so your content is discovered by search engines.


Change Your Life with Cognitive Reframing

Did you know that there’s a simple tool for reducing anger, minimizing stress, and experiencing greater happiness?  It’s called cognitive reframing.  Initially, it was developed in the 60s to help depressed patients, but since then, its application has been expanded to help people increase their self-confidence, improve their self-esteem, and experience better career outcomes.

So, what is cognitive reframing exactly?  Cognitive reframing is a powerful psychological tool that is used to change our negative thoughts about a certain situation or experience into more positive ones.  For example, let’s say that your boss is abrupt with you at work.  You might be inclined to think, “I must have done something wrong.  He seems upset with me.  I wonder if he didn’t like that last work assignment that I turned in.  Maybe it’s time to look for a new job.”

With cognitive reframing, you challenge your assumptions and view the situation from a more positive perspective.  You might say instead, “I’ve seen my boss act abruptly in the past and usually it’s because he’s under a lot of pressure at work and very busy.  I doubt that it has anything to do with me.  He treats me well most of the time, and I’m sure that I’m reading way too much into this.”  As you can see, the latter example is more positive, uplifting, and a much less stressful interpretation.

To start using cognitive reframing to improve your life, Psychology Today offers the following recommendations:

  1. Notice Cognitive Distortions.  Pay attention to those negative predictions that you make (“I doubt that I’ll have fun at the party tonight,”) and instead, see if there is a more positive way to look at things.

  2. Practice Self-Compassion.  When you’re inclined to beat yourself up about something, talk to yourself in a gentle manner i.e. “I did the best that I could,” “To err is human,” ”It’s really not that big of a deal.”

  3. Evaluate the Evidence.  Rather than jumping to conclusions, test your thoughts by evaluating the evidence.  In the case of the abrupt boss, for example, you might say to yourself, “Do I know that my boss is angry with me? Is it possible that he behaved abruptly for a reason that has nothing to do with me?  Can I really know what my boss is thinking?”  Start challenging negative thoughts rather than assuming their accuracy.

Introduction to Object-Oriented Programming (Part 2)

Object-oriented programming is a design philosophy; it is a set of rules and patterns used to achieve robustness and modularity in a program.  Acquiring the knowledge and experience needed to use these rules properly takes time and may seem a bit complicated.  That’s why, in this second introductory article, we will define and explain some of the basic terminology of OOP and give real-life examples to make things easier to understand.  With our next article, we’ll introduce the actual C++ syntax.

In our first article, we gave a brief explanation of an object.  Basically, an object can be considered a “thing” which performs certain activities.  These activities define the object’s behavior.  For example, a car is an object, a vehicle.  Last time we said that an object consists of data – in the form of fields or properties, and code – in the form of methods.  So, for this particular object, one of the possible ways to model it with OOP would be with fields like “model name,” “maximum speed,” “type of engine,” and with methods like “start.”

Although there are many different cars, they all share the same basic features: they have engines, they can be started, etc.  It would be inconvenient to write these fields and methods for every single car object you’d want to use in your program.  That’s why we define classes.  A class is simply a representation of a type of object.  It is the blueprint that describes the details of an object, and from that blueprint, individual objects are created.  In OOP terms, you would say that “an object is an instance of a class.”  This means that when defining your class, you only need to write its features once.

Classes also contain a special method called constructor.  This method has the same name as the class, and it is called to create a new object of the class.  In a way, it “prepares” the new object.  Constructors don’t necessarily have to be written by the programmer (in this case an automatically generated, default constructor is used which simply creates the object), but they can also accept arguments which are then used to not only create the object, but to also set the appropriate fields.

At this point, it’s important to mention that all of this is a part of a process called encapsulation – including all of the resources needed for an object to function properly in one meaningful entity.  This is achieved by creating classes.

This is one of the main issues in OOP (and one of the most important steps in building a good object-oriented system).  To correctly identify classes, developers use a set of five principles referred to as SOLID principles.  These will be discussed later.  

Stay tuned for our next article where we’ll explain how classes and objects are constructed in C++!

Thought For The Day

“Quantum physics thus reveals a basic oneness of the universe.”
Erwin Schrodinger



Do You Have a Success Mindset?

When a problem occurs, do you view it as an opportunity?  Rather than continually seeing yourself as the victim of circumstances beyond your control, do you view yourself as capable of achieving success in every aspect of your life?  Do you work toward improving yourself and taking whatever steps are necessary to achieve your goals?  If so, congratulations. You have what we will refer to as a “success mindset.”

A success mindset is one where someone believes that they are in control of their own destiny.  Carol Dweck, Stanford psychologist and author of the book, Mindset: The New Psychology of Success, suggests that our mindset has a profound impact on every aspect of our lives.  In her research, she has concluded that there are 2 types of mindsets—a fixed one and a growth one (essentially, a success mindset).

She uses her students as an example and says, “In a fixed mindset students believe their basic abilities, their intelligence, their talents, are just fixed traits.  They have a certain amount and that’s that…In a growth mindset students understand that their talents and abilities can be developed through effort, good teaching, and persistence.  They don’t necessarily think that everyone’s the same or anyone can be Einstein, but they believe everyone can get smarter if they work at it.”  In essence, rather than being limited by genetics or circumstance, people with a growth or success mindset believe that they have the capacity to learn, grow, and improve.

Psychologists often refer to this as locus of control, which is the way that people perceive their successes and failures.  Those with an internal locus of control believe that they are the masters of their destiny.  On the other hand, people who display an external locus of control feel that their success hinges on fate and circumstance, rather than themselves.  Research has found that those with an internal locus of control handle stress better, proactively search for solutions to problems, experience greater job satisfaction, perform better academically, and are more likely to achieve their goals.

The good news is that if you don’t have an internal locus of control—the key to a success mindset—you can develop one.  In a subsequent post, we’ll address the best ways to do that.