About Mark Bower

Co-founder of Basingstoke startup @CubeSocial. Windows Azure developer, some-time blogger, social media geek & northerner down south. Google Profile

CubeSocial and the OpenSSL HeartBleed bug

You have probably heard a lot in the last few days about the so called HeartBleed bug in the OpenSSL routine that is used by many web applications to secure communications. As a CubeSocial user you may be wondering if CubeSocial is impacted by this.

The good news is that CubeSocial does not use OpenSSL to terminate SSL connections. CubeSocial uses a different SSL library which is not susceptible to the HeartBleed vulnerability.

What this means

There should be no need to reset your CubeSocial password, unless you have used the same password on another website that is vulnerable to the HeartBleed bug.  In this case you should reset your CubeSocial password to a unique one that is not used anywhere else.

Continuous Discovery

imageWhen Apple launched the iPod in 2002 it took a little over 22 months to ship the first 100 million units. The iPhone hit the same mark after a mere 16 months. The iPad did it in ten. In fact, within only 15 months of the tablet’s arrival, Apple was selling more iPads than any PC maker’s sales of desktop, laptop and netbook models combined.

Imagine creating a 3 or 5-year financial plan for a PC manufacturer just before the iPad launched in 2010 – you couldn’t have possibly predicted what was about to happen.

What’s clear is that disruptions are getting more disruptive and that the pace of change, and more importantly, the pace of adoption is getting quicker.

If we can’t predict such market changes, what we can do is get better at reacting to them.

Continuous Discovery is an agile management technique in which rather than have a dedicated research or discovery phase in a project, discovery happens in parallel with product development.

This is a concept we have embraced at CubeSocial as we continually review the market, assess users’ feature requests and evaluate feedback from product support to create prioritised product backlog items.

Traditionally in the software world you would have a “Product Discovery Phase” where you would come up with several weeks of validated product backlog items and deliver them to engineering. For CubeSocial, and our most recent product, HonestyBoxx, we are constantly identifying, validating and describing new product backlog items. Some discovery work takes a few hours and other things can take longer, but it is an on-going process of ideation, validation and description.

In fact the HonestyBoxx concept of a “micro-consulting” platform where the buyer gets to choose how much they pay came about through listening carefully to CubeSocial users’ requests and tracking services sector trends towards smaller, more targeted pieces of work.

The result of this is that we have products that are a good fit for both our customers’ requirements and the current market situation. And just as importantly, in the case of HonestyBoxx, because we we’ve been so laser focussed on getting discovery right, we were able to build and ship the entire product in just seven weeks.

One final point to note – continuous discovery isn’t only applicable to product development. It can be applied equally well to other business functions, such as sales or marketing. It’s just that in these cases the “product” being developed might be a new pitch deck, financial model or marketing campaign.


Entrepreneur Roadshow 2013

pic4There’s another chance to catch our CEO, Linda Cheung, give one of her acclaimed social media talks at next week’s Entrepreneur Roadshow.  Linda will be talking about her start-up journey, how that lead to the launch of CubeSocial, and what inspired her to launch our latest product, HonestyBoxx.

The event takes place on Thursday May 16, at ViewPoint building on Basing View, Basingsgtoke.  More details here: http://yesyoucanevents.com/.

HonestyBoxx: Now with attachments

We pushed out an update earlier this week for one of the most requested features of HonestyBoxx – file uploads. Now when you ask or reply to a question, you can attach any files that you want to share with the expert or questioner.

Things you can do with attachments:

  • Attach an ebook or best practice guide to your answer
  • Attach a photo illustrating your question or answer
  • Attach a detailed brief
  • Attach a document for review

We think that uploading files enables many more scenarios for both questioners and experts. What do you think?

Say Hello to HonestyBoxx

HonestyBoxx - Earn Money from Your Expertise

With all the other launch activities last week – we didn’t get round to making the announcement here – so let’s put that right…

As a small business providing services to clients, you’ll no doubt have found people contacting you asking for ten or fifteen minutes of your time to give them your expert advice… for free.

At the same time there are a whole host of other people who are put off seeking the advice of professionals by the expectation of high fees and long contracts, often turning to internet forums for guidance instead.

What’s missing is a simple way for people to get expert advice from trusted professionals at a fair price.

Meet HonestyBoxx

HonestyBoxx helps start-ups, small businesses and individuals access affordable expertise from lawyers, accountants, consultants and other services professionals, and helps professionals from across the globe find new clients.

When a small business adds HonestyBoxx to their blog or website they’re telling visitors that they are happy to answer their questions in exchange for a fair fee. By providing an easy way to collect questions and payment from website visitors, HonestyBoxx instantly provides a new source of revenue and a stream of warm leads for larger pieces of work.

HonestyBoxx WidgetWith HonestyBoxx the buyer asks their question and says how much they’d be happy to pay – just like the honesty box payment system you sometimes see at small stores. In exchange, professionals get to demonstrate their expertise and build trust so that when the buyer needs a larger piece of work, they’ll be the first people they think of.

HonestyBoxx CEO Linda Cheung said: “By helping buyers connect with professionals around the globe we’re changing the game for the little guy. Now small businesses, start-ups and individuals anywhere can get the expert advice they need to solve their problems and make informed decisions.

“And, by helping small businesses reach a new market for their expertise we’re providing them with a stream of warm leads and clients at a time when new business is at a premium.”

Duncan Johnson runs digital agency Yodelay. “I think the HonestyBoxx concept is pure genius.

“Small businesses can get instant access to expertise at a price they can afford and the experts are able to make their downtime profitable.

“The simple process of paying for quality information also helps small businesses to value the time of a consultant whilst not breaking their bank account.”

Linda added “The services sector has remained largely unchanged by ecommerce and the internet, but with the current economic climate we believe the time is right for change.

“Services firms have always won new business by demonstrating their expertise. These days the initial hook is provided by websites and blog posts. HonestyBoxx provides the next step so that experts can earn directly from their websites.”

More Information

Who is HonestyBoxx for?

HonestyBoxx is for anyone who provides expert advice or services to others. People like:

  • Lawyers
  • Accountants
  • Financial Advisors
  • Marketing Agencies
  • SEO Experts
  • Social Media Consultants
  • Professional Coaches
  • Advertising Experts
  • Architects
  • Business Consultants
  • Interior Designers
  • Doctors
  • Dentists
  • Pharmacists
  • IT Consultants
  • Vets
  • Photographers
  • Wedding Planners
  • Beauticians
  • Careers Advisors

And many, many more.

How does HonestyBoxx Work?

We give you a small snippet of code that you can paste into your blog or website. If your website runs on WordPress we have a WordPress plugin too. The HonestyBoxx widget then appears on your website allowing visitors to ask questions and make payments.

More info: http://honestyboxx.com/how-honestyboxx-works/

What does HonestyBoxx Look Like?

We provide two different styles of widget: inline and fly-out. View a live demo of either of the two available widget styles: http://honestyboxx.com/widget/

How much does HonestyBoxx cost?

HonestyBoxx is free to join and set-up. For each answer accepted, we take a small fee of between 12% and 30% of the question value.

Who’s Behind HonestyBoxx?

HonestyBoxx was developed by the team behind the award-winning social CRM, CubeSocial.

Still Got Questions?

Try the FAQ.

3 Financial Services Social Media Success Stories

As financial services firms step-up their use of social media, we’ve been looking for some early success stories. Here are three great ones:

The Rock Group (a Morgan Stanley company) generated 28% of their revenues from social media in 2011, including one $70m account. Financial advisor Mitchell Rock explained that the key to success is to understand your target market and focus on a niche.
Source: Reuters

LPL Financial win a $3M account from a prospect who followed the firm’s Facebook Page for 8 months. Financial Advisor David Armstrong was prospecting a business owner but the person was not ready to make a decision. That person, however, decided to follow the firm on Facebook.

“It was an easy way for him to see what we are thinking without us bothering him,” he said. As a result, the prospect later told him, “I love what you have been writing for the last eight months. I am ready to move my accounts to you.’
Source: Financial Planning

Morgan Stanley financial advisor wins $2.6m account from Linkedin.
Morgan Stanley Smith Barney adviser Mark Scribner one day noticed that a business acquaintance he hadn’t spoken to in 15 years had viewed his LinkedIn profile. Scribner called the acquaintance, mentioned LinkedIn, and within days was handling a large life insurance policy for the man’s boss.
Source: Wall Street Journal

Is Your Website Optimised for Smartphones and Tablets?

According to the latest industry data 13% of UK web traffic now comes from smartphones and tablets. More remarkable is the growth rate – that figure is up 70% from 12 months ago.

If you plan to do business internationally, some of the statistics from the emerging economies are astonishing. In India for instance, 53% of web traffic comes from mobile!

For us at CubeSocial, our data shows that around 25-30% of visitors regularly access cubesocial.com from mobile devices.

Something we’ve been planning to do for a while is update our website to detect the type of device you’re using and deliver an optimised experience, whatever the screen size. (The technical term for this is responsive design).

The good news is that our new, improved, responsive design is now live!

Take our main products page for instance, if you’re on a widescreen desktop or laptop, you get something like this:

image

Browsing from an iPad in portrait mode, you’ll see this:

image

On a smartphone, you’ll see this:

image

Pretty neat, huh? Whatever device you use, you get a layout that works for you. No need to zoom in on tiny text, or try (and endlessly fail!?) to click on miniscule links.

But what’s really appealing to us about responsive design are the social media and SEO benefits…

The old way of doing mobile web sites was to have a separate site, with a dedicated mobile layout. The problem with this is that there are different URLs for the same content on different devices.  This means two things:

  • SEO becomes twice as hard because you need to optimise for two different URLs.
  • If you are sharing links in social media that don’t work well in mobile devices, then you have a problem. (Because most people’s social media use takes place on mobile devices).

Have you had a look recently what your website looks like on a smartphone? If you’d like some advice or help optimising your website for mobile devices, get in touch.