Recent Endorsements

You've left us really enthused about the whole digital dimension and we're looking forward to developing our plan with your support.
Simon Beardow - Deputy Director, British Council, Vietnam

Friday, 31 December 2010

First Past The Post - Facebook As A Newspaper

Tired of the same old user interface? Want a different look for your Facebook page for the New Year? 

PostPost is an interesting app. and realtime 'social newspaper' that works well with Google Chrome and Firefox.


The first version of PostPost was created as a weekend project by entrepreneur Peter Yared, VP of Apps at Webtrends and it has since been distributed by TigerLogic.

One of PostPost's main attractions is that it is interactive. The boxes realign themselves based on the size of your screen /browser.

PostPost's aim is to create a real-time dashboard which allows the user to quickly skim relevant passages of text from friends and clump similar content together so it's easier to read.

Watch videos inline, comment, like posts without having to leave the page you are viewing. There is also the ability to moderate what volume of content appears and to cut down noise.
 
All in all a nice change compared to the regular Facebook design options.
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Tuesday, 28 December 2010

Standing Out From The Flowd

Armin van BuurenThere's not a day goes by when something new appears on the app. horizon. One recent addition from Denmark is Flowd, a sort of 'FourSquare for bands and fans' to get together.

Flowd is a location-based mobile application that facilitates conversations between music acts and their fans. Through Flowd, fans can keep up with their favorite music acts’ latest news, views, tours and offers. Flowd also provides an easy way to connect with friends, places and parties. Flowd is currently the location-based mobile app of choice of Armin van Buuren, Markus Schulz and The Wanted

There is a real opportunity for niche players such as this. Mashable's review of this geolocation app. highlights the core functionality:

"Any band — from up-and-comers to established acts — can sign up for Flowd via its website, where they can set up a profile complete with a bio, photo, skins that fans can apply to their own app pages (which can vary from device to device) and a welcome message that fans will receive upon following the artist in question. That artist can also add tour dates via an integration with Google Maps that pins the event in question to a physical location. Fans can then check in to that location"



Flowd is somewhat similar in concept to an app. developed by Nine Inch Nails back in 2009 and which was covered in a report by Wired.com.

Flowd has few of the larger acts signed up at present which limits its appeal but it might be a good space to spot up-and-comers?
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Saturday, 25 December 2010

Spinning, Spinning, Spinning - The Social Evolution of Customer Relationship Management

The world is spinning, or should that be the world is full of spin?

Traditional CRM has morphed into a far more interesting, and in many ways challenging, activity.

From a PR perspective, the brave new world of CRM looks like this:


This means that 77% of customers search on social media sites for coupons and incentives and 60% of users have regular interaction with companies through social media.

There is however one basic flaw in the above; it is the customer who initiates the conversation not the PR company. The above infographic is a very PR-centric perspective of the world -  a world that has rapidly moved on.

And as Mike Boysen explains:

"This is what PR people don’t seem to understand. Our CRM customers still have to do their jobs. CRM is not about PR – it will never be about PR. But, they do need to understand why customers may be making new demands of them. This social customer infographic clearly explains it. It needs no further explanation as far as I’m concerned. It’s simply time to move on. Some will be consulting, others will be flipping burgers."


Source: Mark Tamis

It is the collaborative action of customers that is the most important dynamic.  Company buzz is built by customers and PR attempts to influence this conversation can only go so far.

Often the best ideas for innovation come for the customer and not from within an enterprise. Similarly customers needs and support can be gauged by what is shared in social media conversations.

To put it bluntly, a company that does not engage through social media, is not nimble enough to quickly innovate and respond to the needs of the customer, or fails to monitor the Buzz,  is dead in the water.

Reference:

11 Search Trends for 2011
Social Media Marketing Trends for 2011 – Part 1   Part 2
Bing Social
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Wednesday, 22 December 2010

We Consume, We Collaborate



The Harvard Business School describes the Collaborative Consumption movement as:

“A socioeconomic groundswell that will transform the way companies think about their value propositions.”

Ted describes the presenter, Rachel Botsman,  as:

"... a social innovator who writes, consults, and speaks on the power of collaboration and sharing through network technologies, and on how it will transform business, consumerism and the way we live."

P2P file sharing and online technologies are transforming the way we share and trade, and on a scale that was never before dreamed of.




WHAT'S MINE IS YOURS
from rachel botsman on Vimeo
.


When all is said and done, the Collaborative Consumption model is a logical extension of the social media revolution.

This infographic shows the rise of collaborative consumption, including figures from LendingClub, a US p2p lender.


There are four fundamental forces that are reshaping global consumption behavior: the global recession, the re-emphasis on community, broader environmental awareness, and online networking technologies.

Online sharing can contribute to profit making.  Businesses such as EBay and new Zealand's premier site, TradeMe, have already harnessed the power of collaborative consumption or to put it in simple terms "sharing".
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Sunday, 19 December 2010

Find The Turkey - Search Developments For The Festive Season

There is a raft of new search options that have just been released.  Finding that Xmas Turkey and sharing the best place to go for a festive dinner just go a whole lot easier.

The first announcement involves some tweaks to Google's realtime search.  The trend graph and date options have been relocated and a new feature, Top updates, has been added.


Matt McGee of Search Engine Land is of the opinion that these are the URLs and tweets that are most popular among Twitter users (which appears to be the only source populating Google Realtime).

Meanwhile over the Bing stable the developers have also been busy.  The most interesting feature tweak just announced are results that will show which of your Facebook friends have liked search results as they appear in your searches.  

As the Bing development team have put it:

"Over the last several weeks, we introduced the new “Liked” results feature that uses the basis of your query to surmise your intent and surface relevant stories or websites  that your friends on Facebook have liked with a nice answer, called out somewhere on the page".

" Starting today, if your search results include a specific link that has also been “liked” by someone in your Facebook network the link will be highlighted as “Liked” within Bing.  This gets especially interesting for a query like "Xbox" where my friend “Liked” the "Kinect" site and while our algorithms didn't feel it was relevant enough to make it the 'answer' we reference above, we are still able to indicate that my friend liked that link that happened to show up within the results"


With this development Bing has got the jump on Google for regular web search. After all in today's social media it is Facebook data that matters most.

Chris Crum of WebProNews says:

"With people constantly "liking" content all over the web, this can be a great indicator of relevance on a personalized level. It's going to catch your attention when you notice your friend appear in the search results."


Get Microsoft Silverlight


Other new Bing features include a partnership with Fansnap so If you’re searching for sports tickets, soon you will be able to compare tickets from over fifty  tickets sites.

Image search is made easier with a feature called Instant Search that delivers a montage of images on main results page. Bing has also populated the tabs with the most common search queries associated with a given image.

Bing's maps have also been given a makeover.  There is a new style which shows:
  • Increased city density while preserving a clean, visually appealing map
  • Clearer differentiation between major and minor city streets
  • Greater color contrast at the city-level so streets “pop” out more
  • Altered font sizes and contrast for crisper, less cluttered map labels
  • Improved highway shields for US and added new shields for 7 countries
Add to these the following:
  • Interior Views: Providing users with immersive 360-degree panoramas of local businesses
  • OpenTable Integration: Users can interact with OpenTable and GrubHub directly from restaurant pages
  • Real Time Transit on Mobile: Gives users real time info if a bus is on-time or delayed
  • Streetside for Mobile: Brings users street-level imagery + some mobile-exclusive enhancements
Search development has always had a tight focus on the User Experience and this is evident in what both Google and Bing have announced this Dececember.

Impressive as these developments are, Bing's challenge remains;  Can they grab market share from the consumers current engine of choice - Google?
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Saturday, 18 December 2010

Premature Memories Best Forgotten

Facebook is red faced over the premature code leakage of new designs for its brand pages and a new photo section called "Memories".

Location-based Places checkin functionality will also eventually appear so that page "likers" can check in.

An example can be seen on Ellen DeGeneres's page.


Facebook has since put the site back up and has said:

“Some internal prototypes were exposed to people and resulted in us disabling the site briefly. It’s now back to normal.”

It is quite a drastic action to shut down a site of this size and deprive 550 million users of their Facebook fix but to their credit the site was up and running half an hour later.

No doubt the perosnal responsible for the inadverent release of these new designs will be having nightmarish "memories" of his or her own.
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Thursday, 16 December 2010

Head In The Cloud/s

Google Chrome OS Concept"The Cloud" has become an almost repetitive term in the past decade, but the withdrawal of service by Amazon.com for WikiLeaks demonstrates a potential and strategic weakness.

If cloud-based services can be influenced in such a way by governmental pressure, will businesses feel comfortable putting all their transactional eggs into this online basket?

With the above in mind consider the implications of the recently launched Google Chrome operating system, which all intents and purposes has turned the Chrome browser into an cloud-based operating system.

Google CEO Eric Schmidt says:

"With Chrome OS, we have in development a viable third choice in desktop operating systems. Before there was no cloud computing alternative—now we have a product which is fast, robust and scalable enough to support powerful platforms. It’s something computer scientists have been dreaming about for a very, very long time. The kind of magic that we could imagine 20 years ago, but couldn’t make real because we lacked the technology".



While ChromeOS does not handle flash very well at this time, such glitches are to be expected during its testing period.

Where Google hopes it will beat its competitors is in speed and security; two business essentials.  The four guiding security principles for the product have been:
  • The perfect is the enemy of the good.  
  • Deploy defenses in depth.  
  • Make it secure by default.  
  • Don't scapegoat our users.
That terrible whirring sound that is the precursor to a hard drive meltdown might just have become a thing of the past.

As Jeremy A. Kaplan of Fox News put it:

"Stop worrying about when the hard drive in your computer will die. Google wants to kill it permanently anyway"

But the nagging question still remains, are users and businesses prepared for a shift to purely cloud-based computing?

Amazon's action may have given them pause for thought.
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Tuesday, 14 December 2010

There Is No Second

It is a truism that those companies who are first out of the blocks with an innovative idea are often the most successful. While 'first user advantage' doesn't last for long, it does set the pace for others to try and follow.

This is equally true in the wonderful world of social media. Those who come to the table late are left with the crumbs.

Witness AOL's purchase of Bebo for $US850 million . They dropped it from their company portfiolio this past summer for under $10 million.

Rick Aristotle Munarriz of the Motley Fool says that:

"MySpace is trying to do what Friendster, Tribe.net, Bebo, and any social network that squandered its 15 minutes has failed to do."

"I guess MySpace missed the memo. You only get one shot to matter in Web 2.0, and its time came and went. News Corp. should have either cashed out of MySpace when it was hot -- or at the very least, peaking. We're living in Facebook's world now, until that site somehow stumbles."

or one could take the Microsoft route and try to buy the most world's successful social media platform.

David Kirkpatrick stated in his book “The Facebook Effect” that Microsoft made an offer of $15 billion for Facebook:

"Microsoft CEO Steve Ballmer had flown to Palo Alto to visit his young counterpart twice. As Zuckerberg is wont to do, he took Ballmer on a long walk. Zuckerberg told Ballmer that Facebook was raising money at a $15 billion valuation. But Ballmer had come with something more sweeping in mind. “Why don’t we just buy you for $15 billion?” he replied, according to a very knowledgeable source. Zuckerberg was unmoved even by this offer. “I don’t want to sell the company unless I can keep control,” said Zuckerberg, as he always did in such situations.

Ballmer took this reply as a sort of challenge. He went back to Microsoft’s headquarters and concocted a plan intended to acquire Facebook in stages over a period of years to enable Zuckerberg to keep calling the shots. But Zuckerberg rejected all the overtures. What Ballmer finally agreed to instead was an advertising deal that included a provision for Microsoft to pay a huge amount, $240 million, for a sliver of Facebook, 1.6%. Microsoft’s investment gave Facebook an implied value of $15 billion.


Microsoft's Senior Director of Corporate Strategy and Acquisitions Fritz Lanman  has since confirmed that this offer took place

Quite apart from acquisitions, companies are beginning to realise that social medai responsibility needs to be embedded within an organisation and not reside soley in the hands of a few specialist staff.

The New York Times for example have just eliminated it post of social media editor in an acknowledgement that such activity is a shared responsibility.

Social media can’t belong to one person; it needs to be part of everyone’s job. It has to be integrated into the existing editorial process and production process. I’m convinced that’s the only way we’re going to crack the engagement nut.” says New York Times Social Media Editor Jennifer Preston.

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Monday, 13 December 2010

Social Media Browsers

Image representing RockMelt as depicted in Cru...There's a new kid on the block, or should that be something new about to leave the blocks?

RockMelt aims to make browsing and social media networking a seamless activity as the video below explains.

The browser is developed by the same team who produced the first commercial browser Netscape, 16years ago.




The Telegraph reports that "It is majority-funded by major technology investor, and also Netscape’s co-founder, Marc Andreessen, who has also backed the likes of Foursquare and sits on the board of Facebook".

It will need to compete head on with the likes of Flock and Firefox which have been the social media browsers of choice in recent times.

Scobleizer questions whether this browser has what it takes as a start up?

1. Power users may be frustrated by the fact that the browser only has an answer for Windows and Macintosh

2. It requires a download and most people are download adverse.

3. It requires a login and people are not used to having to log on to their browser.

4. It changes search behavior as RockMelt asks you to use two separate boxes again, which clutters UI and asks you to change your expectations of how search should work

5. The Twitter client isn’t full featured. It doesn’t support real time, for instance



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Friday, 10 December 2010

Where To WikiLeaks?

Logo used by WikileaksThere is an irony that the first person to coin the phrase "The first casualty of war is the truth" was a US Republican senator, Hiram Warren Johnson, in 1918.

The Wiki leaks saga currently being played out online is all about truths and war and who should be held responsible (and who would rather avoid responsibility).

I am rather ambivalent about the Wikileaks site and have rarely viewed it. However one of its strengths is that it has proved without doubt, the duplicity of diplomacy; what has been said publically is often at complete variance to what is being shared in private.

The Wikileaks site provides a public service in providing balance to the often sanitised media coverage of global events.

Were they unwise to put up content such as a hit list of potential terrorist targets, as identified by governments? Probably, as the greater public good is not served by such exposure. But who determines this 'public good' ? This is the crux of the argument that is raging.

Make no mistake, this is a cyber war like no other. It is not simply the activities of the 'Anonymous' supporters who are currently promoting Operation Payback that are the primary focus of governmental wrath.





It is not even about Wikileaks spokesman Julian Assange, who is facing rape charges in Sweden. These charges are apparently based on circumstantial evidence and the word of one party against another. A suspicious mind might conclude that the Dirty Tricks brigade have been active in getting such a prosecution on the books; again not an unusual development in a war situation.

This cyber war is about who controls the internet and if it can be controlled? Attempts to shut off Wikileaks money supply and block their domains are unlikely to succeed as the ground swell of netizen support is growing.

At time of writing there are at least 1,200 "mirror sites" on the Net hosting WikiLeaks content and this number is growing by the hour.

'Anonymous' is deploying botnets which bombard sites that are siding with government directives. In the past these botnets have been used by criminals to take over computers but in this case owners are downloading the software and installing it voluntarily.

Twitter has shut down the trending capability of #wikileaks although it denies that this has anything to do with governmental pressure.  Their explanation:

"Twitter Trends are automatically generated by an algorithm that attempts to identify topics that are being talked about more right now than they were previously. The Trends list is designed to help people discover the 'most breaking' breaking news from across the world, in real-time. The Trends list captures the hottest emerging topics, not just what’s most popular. Put another way, Twitter favors novelty over popularity ".

As the chart right shows, topics related to Wikileaks such as "wikileaks founder" still feature in the trends.

Mainstream media have been following the Wikileaks story and a few, such as The Guardian , are featuring real time updates of cable releases.

The final word should perhaps go to The Economist who earlier this month published an article under the title " Missing the point of WikiLeaks"

"The basic question is not whether we think Julian Assange is a terrorist or a hero. The basic question certainly is not whether we think exposing the chatter of the diplomatic corps helps or hinders their efforts, and whether this is a good or bad thing. To continue to focus on these questions is to miss the forest for the texture of the bark on a single elm. If we take the inevitability of future large leaks for granted, then I think the debate must eventually centre on the things that will determine the supply of leakers and leaks. Some of us wish to encourage in individuals the sense of justice which would embolden them to challenge the institutions that control our fate by bringing their secrets to light. Some of us wish to encourage in individuals ever greater fealty and submission to corporations and the state in order to protect the privileges and prerogatives of the powerful, lest their erosion threaten what David Brooks calls "the fragile community"—our current, comfortable dispensation."
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Saturday, 4 December 2010

Mega Trend Technologies And Cocktails




The New York Times technology writer David Pogue in an interview with WebProNews highlights the technology trends as he sees them.

One of the most revealing statements relates to the pace of change and how businesses will always struggle to keep pace and capitalise upon new technologies.

Stripped down technologies are replacing developments with multiple features; the notion that simpler is better is finally getting through.

Danny Groner writing in the Huffington Post attended the event and wrote:

"I was amazed by some of the products that Pogue showed off or talked about. A top-of-the-line camera that fits in your pocket. An app that turns your iPhone into a musical instrument. Ways to ensure that you never lose an internet signal. 

These products will encourage creativity and connectivity, and Pogue is helping to escort in a new era. His hour-long presentation carried with it the ability to get even technology novices excited and inspired about what's to come. 

With so much new technology already in place, that's the biggest obstacle standing in the way."

One who has had great success with picking a trend and capitalising on it is Zynga's Mark Pincus.  He has made a large fortune from online gaming and allying it to the Net's social revolution. 

Farmville, the addictive game on Facebook is one of his better known successes and he was an early investor in both Facebook and Napster, the P2P music sharing site.

Talking to The Telegraph Pincus said:

"Since the likes of Napster, MySpace and Facebook were created, the web is a social place, with lots and lots of smaller cocktail parties happening everywhere. 

Beforehand, the web was a huge place that wasn't connected in any way – and then Napster launched [and] the web suddenly lit up. 

The internet became this place where people could come together around their interests. And now I am hosting one of the biggest cocktail parties online."
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Thursday, 2 December 2010

Role Of Twitter In Marketing Strategy



Loic LeMeur on the role of social media in marketing.  Loic is the founder and CEO of the popular Twitter+Facebook application and site Seesmic.com.

He founded and hosts th premier tech event in Europe, LeWeb.net, which brings together 2000 entrepreneurs from 40 countries each year.

Business Week named Loic one of the 25 most influential people on the web.  He advises the World Economic Forum and covers the Annual Summit every year in Davos.
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Tuesday, 30 November 2010

About Face

Official seal of the USPTOUnbelievable as it may seem, the U.S. Patent and Trademark Office have sent the Facebook offices a Notice of Allowance, effectively awarding then the trademark of the word ‘Face’.

Am I alone in thinking that this is a preposterous decision?

While it is true that the use of the "face" trademark comes with strings attached, it seems patently absurd (pun intended) to grant rights over a common term such as this.  The company must pay the issue fee within three months and their terms of usage covers:

Telecommunication services, namely, providing online chat rooms and electronic bulletin boards for transmission of messages among computer users in the field of general interest and concerning social and entertainment subject matter, none primarily featuring or relating to motoring or to cars.”

Why the "cars" exclusion you may well ask? 

I wish I could provide an answer but clearly the motor vehicle industry in the USA carries a lot of clout.

Facebook is not alone in attempting to trademark common names. Anything with the word "pod" in it has attracted Apple's attention, as far back as 2006.

In March 2004, Donald Trump tried to officially register “You’re fired”, his catchphrase from then television programme, The Apprentice. The USPTO claimed that it was too similar to other trademarked property and his application was declined.

Some have succeeded. The boxing announcer Michael Buffer has become known for his phrase “Let’s get ready to rumble!” and since his trademarking of the phrase, has reportedly reaped a massive $400 million over the years through its use in various media.

Now all Facebook needs to do is file a Statement of Use and they are the proud 'owners' of "face".

What happens with the word's existing usage in other parts of the online world?  Ken Santema points out that:

" The term face is already used in the software industry, in the context of GUI's and skin's ..... this would be a sub-sect of the software industry wouldn't it? "

A wit commented on the Techcrunch coverage of this decision:

 "Let's Face™ it, this is ridiculous. "

I cannot help but agree.
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Monday, 29 November 2010

Getting Tough But Will It Work?


Illegal file sharing and counterfeit goods sites are in for a shock.  The US Government has commenced a domain seizure programme in an attempt to close these illegal traders down.

According to CNet News, the seizures came after a Senate committee unanimously approved a controversial proposal earlier this month that would allow the government to pull the plug on Web sites accused of aiding piracy.

A division of the Department of Homeland Security, Immigration and Customs Enforcement (ICE),is handling the crackdown.

Not surprisingly there are critics of this action. CBS News and CNET Technology Analyst Larry Magid says
 
"This is a very controversial practice, which of course is supported by companies in the video and motion picture and music business, but opposed by some civil rights activists and organizations who feel that it's an improper use of government authority, because it's shutting down an entire domain in an attempt to get at some allegedly infringing material".

It also begs the question how effective such a programme of seizure actually is?  Pirate Bay for example, is still up and running despite its principals being found guilty in a court of law.

In addition, to prosecute pirates there needs to be evidence and this resides on a server, not within a domain name. 

Without a server no warrant can be issued and without a warrant, a prosecution cannot proceed.  To try and do so without following this due process would seem to contravene the USA's Fourth Amendment.

There a number of avenues available for site owners to circumvent these restrictions.  The US Government can only seize US-registered domain names so there is nothing to stop a US citizen registering a site in an off shore registry.

The Internet will respond to such censorship by finding a way around it, a process which has become the norm. The pirates will no doubt do likewise.

In another court ruling, this time in the UK, it has been decided that news monitoring agencies will have to pay publishing companies foer the use of their web content.

According to The Telegraph which reported the verdict:

"Headlines are now considered separate literary works, and thus subject to copyright, which means that clients of aggregation websites that charge for a service will have to pay for a license in order to use headlines, links and short extracts from online stories".

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Tuesday, 23 November 2010

Is Social Media Destroying The Web?

Tim Berners-Lee at a Podcast InterviewPhoto: Uldis Bojārs
Tim Benners-Lee
Tim Berners-Lee, who is credited with developing the World Wide Web sees Facebook and other social platforms as a serious threat to the future of the Internet.

As he sees it, the four primary threats are:
  1. The eroding of the web's core principles.

  2. Social-networking sites are creating information silos with data posted by their users being locked off from the rest of the Web.

  3. Wireless Internet providers are being tempted to slow traffic to sites with which they have not made deals.

  4. Governments of all persuasions are monitoring people’s online habits which in turn endangers important human rights.
In his Scientific American journal essay published today "Long Live the Web: A Call for Continued Open Standards and Neutrality" he makes the case of the web being critical to the future prosperity of mankind.

"Why should you care? Because the Web is yours. It is a public resource on which you, your business, your community and your government depend. The Web is also vital to democracy, a communications channel that makes possible a continuous worldwide conversation. 

The Web is now more critical to free speech than any other medium. It brings principles established in the U.S. Constitution, the British Magna Carta and other important documents into the network age: freedom from being snooped on, filtered, censored and disconnected".

Universality is the key to the ongoing success of the Web and Tim Berners-Lee sees this as being threatened on several fronts.  He is particular concerned about the erosion of open standards because adhering to this principle fosters "serendipitous creation", where an online application could be used in ways no one previously imagined.

Not using open standards creates closed worlds such as those experienced with Apple's iTunes.  Publishers of magazines who are turning to smartphone apps rather than web apps is also a concern as these too are closed off from the web itself.

Amazon is held up as an example of what can be accomplished because of open standards;  they were able to develop as a result of access to free, basic web technologies and standards.

Keeping the Web separate from the Internet is another key ingredient in the ongoing success of the Web.  Separation of these layers is pivotal to fostering creativity.

His concluding statement is perhaps the most visionary:

"The goal of the Web is to serve humanity. We build it now so that those who come to it later will be able to create things that we cannot ourselves imagine."
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Monday, 22 November 2010

Validity Checking


Jeff Goldblum NOT dead on Colbert

This is a humorous reminder of what can happen when one does not check a source.
It is also important to check that the original media release has not been corrupted in the course of re-telling; a vital word missed, singular become plural etc.
Wherever possible a variety of media sources should be checked - not just on Twitter.  Is the story featuring on more traditional media such as radio or television?
The good advice of pausing, before you send a snappy email response to someone, also applies with re tweeting.
If you pass on false rumours or information the consequences can be dire as a Washington Post sports columnist Mike Wise discovered when he passed on a hoax tweet.
In his statement Wise said:
"I made a horrendous mistake, using my Twitter account, which identifies me as a Washington Post columnist, to come up with an unsourced sentence about the length of Ben Roethlisberger's suspension. I didn't put "kidding" in that sentence. I didn't put "Just joking."

I could even say I thought I corrected it within five minutes and didn't realize my Twitter server was busy 30-40 minutes later. But the truth is, if I waited one second to make my intentions and sourcing clear, I waited too long."

Cory Bergman is even more succinct when he states that there’s one golden rule of social media for journalists - if you wouldn’t write it in the newspaper or say it on TV, don’t send it out on Twitter.

This rule is equally applicable to citizen journalists.

Consider also the case of a Chinese woman who has just been sentenced to a year in a labour camp for "disrupting social order" by re tweeting a satirical message urging Chinese protesters to smash the Japan pavilion at the Shanghai Expo.  Another case of misplaced satire?

While the validity of what we tweet can be problematic others are worried that the use of Twitter will actually corrupt customer service as we currently know it.

David Bowen of Bowen Craggs recounts how a presenter at a Danish conference has tweeted her dissatisfaction with her bank, and had been contacted by the bank’s customer service people “within minutes”.

Such immediate contact may now becoming the norm in the USA but perplexed the Scandinavians.  Bowen has deeper concerns:

"If companies are brilliantly geared up to monitor and respond to Twitter, why are they incapable of responding to e-mail (or phoned or written) complaints. Is the threat of blackmail (Twitter’s viral power is impressively scary ) any basis for a customer service policy?

Also, what happens if we all (Danes included) discover that the only way to get a complaint sorted is to tweet about it? There will be so many complaints that companies will be unable to respond to them all, and the whole system will become less and less effective. It works while Twitter is still a bit of a novelty; if it becomes a mainstream communications medium, it will not."

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Sunday, 21 November 2010

McRibbing or McRoasting

Sometimes it just doesn't  pay to pay, for a Twitter Promoted Trend campaign.

McDonalds decided to use this method of promotion to re-launch its McRibs product but were clearly unaware of the inherent risk in so doing.

The majority of the tweets have been negative rather than positive.  Here is a  small sample of them:
  • The McRib is back. We get it. What's the big deal? Doesn't it come back every few months, like a Herpes outbreak?
  • The rib sandwich is back and guess who aint gettin one...
  • McRib is back. Everyone was in line for McRibs.
  • The McRib is back...and undoubtedly not palatable.
  • Ppl really eat mcribs?........THE MCRIB IS BACK!!!!!!
  • Eww they look so nasty!
  • I'm very worried about the direction this country is heading politically..." "Who cares! The McRib is back!
  • The McRib is back!? I thought the animal they made it from was extinct? - Simpons reference.
  • The McRib is a pressed out, flattened MEATBALL!!!! 
  • McRib is back? That seems a little anatomically incorrect. Shouldn't it be McRib is torso?
  • McRib is back!? When was it ever in?? Gross

The history of the sometimes maligned meat product is an interesting one.

According to Tufts University professor Dr. Parke Wilde, it was a little-known federal agency that thirty years ago were tasked with promoting American pork.  They developed a gimmicky ground pork sandwich containing a patty shaped like a miniature rack of ribs.

They then approached McDonald's, one of the country's largest purchasers of beef, and convinced them to sell it and the company introduced the McRib sandwich in 1981.

Consisting of a patty on a roll with a sweet barbecue sauce, pickles, and onions, the sandwich was developed by the federal government's National Pork Board, set up to aid farmers in marketing pork in the United States.

A month ago, Rick Wion, the  director of social media for McDonald’s Corp., was quoted as saying that social media such as Twitter, allows big corporations the opportunity to make the restaurant experience warmer and more intimate.

“It’s really not about how many people are following you. It’s about the level of engagement, really the strong connections you are making with customers.”

McDonald’s staffs its Twitter account with four or five executives from its communications department and three people from the customer satisfaction department, Wion said.

"They help McDonald’s take the “restaurant experience beyond [the] doors."

“You can really get out there and build these relationships," he said.

"What you need to do is look at [social media followers] as your customers, because they are. You need to give them all that same warm hospitality and all the great care you would if they were inside your restaurants..."

In a later interiew with ClickZ he has attempted to dismiss the negative connotations of the McRibs Twitter campaign.

His contention is that anecdotal evidence isn't adequate to judge the effort as being more negative than positive. He also asserts that sentiment data will, on balance, bear healthy results but if the ongoing tweets are anything to go by, he is being rather optimistic.

Wion also infers that many of the negative tweets are based on ignorance of the product, especially the meat used:

"What I can tell you is that it is a quality sandwich,"

"It is U.S.D.A. grade A pork - pork loin and pork shoulder chopped and made into a patty. The fact that it is shaped like ribs probably throws some people off. Often there are some critics who jump on that."


Ron Callari of ClickZ asks a key question; does Twitter provide enough demographic analysis "or targeted user information for a brand to make an informed decision before spending the ad dollars".

The current results of the McRibs campaign suggest that either it doesn't, or McDonalds failed to pre test its campaign with its own twitter follower base.

Carri Bugbee, president of Big Deal PR, says:

"I don't know if the folks on Twitter are really their target audience.  I don’t know who the target audience is for the McRib. But I am going to guess it's probably younger and less affluent, and that's not really where Twitter is probably going to work [as a marketing channel]."

As for the digital debate on the success or failure of this $80,000 campaign - I'm lovin' it!
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Thursday, 18 November 2010

A Partnership With Fizz - Facebook and Coke


If you are on the look out for other creative winners in digital media also take a look at the Bees Award finalists and winners.
Categories included:
Best 140 Characters Message (SMS, Tweet)
  • Best 140 Characters Message (SMS, Tweet) 
  • Best Use of Micro-Blogging Platform
  • Best Use of Social Media Platform
  • Best Use of Mobile
  • Best Relationship with Blogs
  • Best Conversation with Customers / Engagement
  • Best Use of Alternative Tools
  • Best Use of Media Press Room
  • Best Social CRM / Analytics
  • Best Copywriting
  • Best Art Direction
  • Best Innovation
  • Best Student Work
  • Best Campaign
  • Agency of the Year
  • Client of the Year
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'Nuff Churp In Your Tweets?

Putting bloggers and advertising in contact with each other and making money in the process of so doing is not a new occurrence.

EBuzzing does this quite successfully and now there is a Asia-Pacific equivalent, Nuffnang; the brainchild of a London School of Economics graduate, Cheo Ming Shen.

Mr Cheo has expanded his operation still further to promote similar advertising relationships using Twitter and Facebook.

Enter Churp Churp  which at this stage is only open to Singaporean and Malaysian residents.





In both cases the power of social media Influencers is being harnessed to deliver product information.

Not content with these two online platforms the entrepreneur and his company has also built Jipaban which claims to be South East Asia's largest online mall with 86 stalls and more than 3,000 products.

In a BBC Interview he says "he is fortunate to be able to do this and is wary of Singapore's attempts to create more self-starting entrepreneurs through government grants. He believes they could deter genuine business models with scope for development.

Instead, he fears that the schemes have the potential to "cultivate a group of people who just come up with ideas…for funding and they think: with this funding I can run off my crazy 're-invent the wheel' kind of ideas."

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