Archive for November, 2008
November 28th, 2008
This week has been a bit mental, but as always I fail to disappoint with my favourite 5 web 2.0 tools and sites of the week.
2. This next one is something I have not actually tried! But the description got me buzzing. It’s a new web browser called Lunascape. It claims to be the fastest start up browser, here are some of the features:
- Crash protection functionality
- Mouse gestures
- Tab browsing
- Abundant plug-ins
- Smart favourites
4. Microbloging is all the rage at the moment, if your a fan then this next web 2.0 tool might be right up you street. It is called ShoutEm. ShoutEm is simply a very customisable way or creating your own microblogging community, some of the features include links and photo sharing, geo location sharing and mobile browser support. There is also a paid for service which gives you a few more options such as private domains instead of *.shoutem.com domain. View the ShoutEm deom video.
5. Finally today is a review site called Trustpilot. Trustpilot collects the information about the company that you would have taken hours to find, and informs you automatically about positive or negative conditions you should know about.
Here are some of the company’s Trust pilot have reviewed (click to see the bigger picture)
November 26th, 2008
Don’t worry, this isn’t a post about the economic slow down, I think we’ve had quite enough of that for now. No, this post comes as a result of Jon Henley’s article on Guardian.co.uk today titled: ‘The bloggers who take it one post at a time’. It’s a great piece, based in turn on a recent article from the New York Times titled: Blogging at a snail’s pace.
As you can probably gather, both pieces overview a more relaxed approach to blogging, quality over quantity if you like, where the object is not the first to get a post published on a breaking issue, but the one that can add most value.
Both of these pieces refer to Todd Sieling’s ‘A slow blog manifesto’ written in 2006 by the technology consultant from British Columbia, who formulated a structure for the slow blogging movement, saying: “Slow blogging is a rejection of immediacy, it is an affirmation that not all things are worth reading are written quickly.”
Having digested these articles, I felt it was worth pointing out that they have a lot of relevancy in the communications industry, and would be good advice to take on board for any blogger. In fact it’s something that I recommend to my clients: don’t try to be the first on the scene, try to add to the conversation.
It’s still true that blogging, and the wider circle of social media, moves quickly. The last few years have seen a constant push to get more information out in as short a time frame as possible. Twitter is an example of the success of quick fire candid comment, but blogging gives us the opportunity to add more than just news or speed to an issue. It gives us the opportunity to put our opinion across and delve deeper into the discussion, or at least look at a different angle.
It’s too easy to forget that blogging isn’t a race; we need to listen to our community and understand what would be most useful, to be relevant in a conversation. If that’s speed and constant availability, Twitter is probably a much better outlet for you.
If your subscribers read your posts because they appreciate your knowledge or like your take on issues, then that’s what they want to hear, whether that’s an hour or two days after the issue has broken. I myself often like to sit back and see how an issue develops before posting or commenting, it makes sense to get the whole picture before joining in, and simply joining in shouldn’t be a key motivator.
So, what have I taken from the slow blog theory? Well, affirmation of a belief that time isn’t the key factor in blogging, it is important, but it isn’t the issue we should focus on. Offering something to the debate should be the focus.
This isn’t an excuse for those that like to post every few months to say that they are using their time to think – we know that isn’t the case, and it isn’t supposed to be a mantra that every post should be an epic, short posts are very useful and relevant, it’s just confirmation that slowing down and adding value is something that will be appreciated by your subscribers and wider community.
November 25th, 2008
So farewell, then, Google Lively. Six months into development and soon (December 31) the virtual world is to be no more.
A deluge of news and opinion, and not a few blogs, have followed the announcement this week and from my scattered reading focussed on the economics and cultural reasons for the search company’s decision.
Google has made so many good calls in its 10 years that it’s weird to think it could make a bad one. But in the case of Lively, it does appear to have burnt considerable cash and resources on the construction of a useless product.
In the few times I ventured into Lively, there was an overpowering sense of pointlessness, which I’m pretty sure wasn’t a manifestation of mid-life crisis because my mood lifted as soon as I exited the virtual world.
Maybe at the root of this is an indication of what virtual worlds must have to thrive – a sense of belonging, of purpose, of achievement and, whisper it quietly, a sense of fun. I don’t think that these are easy elements to conjure up in a virtual world (and I did try to build one commercially some time ago) but without them, there really is no point in construction.
The knives are out now for Second Life but at least that environment does offer some of these key elements, albeit in a clunky, steam-punk style (without the Gothic class). We can watch SL fight for survival and keep an eye out for Sony’s Home - and gaze with mild disenchantment at the XBox Experience… but also remember that virtual worlds are still very little to do with state-of-the-art 3D and much more about a gentle ecstasy, joy or something close to that.
November 21st, 2008
Back again, Fridays come around so quickly!
Anyway here’s the usual my round up of five of the best web 2.0 tools and sites of the week.
This week it’s all about Twitter!
1, Want to know how much your Twitter profile is worth? Check out Tweet Value which gives you a value in dollars. Then it gives you an option of promoting the amount via a badge you can put on your site.
2, This is the best site of the week so far and it only costs $150 to create. It’s called Twollow. Add key words within Twollow, then when someone tweets the keywords that you have specified you follow that account. – Neat!
3, Twinfluene is a Twitter API to measure the combined influence of Twitterers and their followers, with a few social network statistics thrown in as a bonus.
4, Next Twitter tool of the week is Tweet Scribe. Tweet Scribe is a new service that gives you a Twitter feed by topic or search term, instead of by who you know.
5,Twitter Lights is the final twitter tool of the day. You have to down load an application for this, but it looks worth it. Use i-lighter to highlight specific sentences on web pages then Tweet via your Twitter account.
Here is a video of how to use i-lighter:
Thats all folks!
November 20th, 2008
After reading an excellent post by Learn to Duck, titled SEO is dead, I started to wonder, where does that leave SEO? And, who now owns the majority slice of the social media mix, if not SEO?
To recap, the main points of the ‘SEO Is dead’ post were:
- There was a time when SEO consultants could charge a fortune for services, but now everyone is a so called SEO expert.
- Web designers are designing websites with SEO in mind.
- Platforms such as WordPress have SEO principals in their framework.
- SEO organisations need to re-position themselves within the next three years.
So where does this leave the SEO specialists, if in three years time SEO is dead and buried?
I think there will always be a need for SEO expertise, but not in the traditional stand alone sense. We have to develop a more joined up sense of how online PR, or any other element of the social media mix, links with SEO tactics. The joined up approach is the way Liberate Media likes to operate, meaning in an ideal scenario our client’s online services will be streamlined and focused on the same overall strategy, like a well-oiled machine. So, SEO expertise is still a very valued service but in the wider context of a digital strategy. In the future, I don’t think SEO will be seen as a standalone service.
Therefore, if we remove the channel approach, who will own the future SEO slice of the social media pie if not search agencies? - Online PR, marketers, digital agencys, freelance consultants, something completely new, or all of the above? Will our skills need to encompass the entire digital range to become truly proficient social media marketeers?
November 19th, 2008
Three months ago I wrote a post about the importance of standing fast and explaining the reasons that we cannot always provide traditional measurements, such as ROI, as part of a social media campaign when questioned by our clients and peers. I still stand by this.
On Monday, Todd Defren wrote an excellent post, titled: ROI for social media marketing: it’s complicated, which summed up many theories and quotes from around the community, and has since received comments from even more influencers - great job Todd!
Reading Todd’s post, and looking back at Liberate Media’s own experiences, I thought it would be useful to share our thinking and progress, which has informed our position on the subject.
First of all, in reference to the big question of ROI for social media – Todd hit the nail on the head, it is complicated! In a traditional sense of: a rate of return used to evaluate the efficiency of a financial investment, ROI is specifically complicated by trying to apply numeric quantities to human interactions and conversations – as highlighted by Jason Falls.
So we fight the good fight and educate our clients – right? Right. But when speaking to metrics-dominated sectors such as retail and travel, as we have been recently, education is one thing, but in a harsh economic climate clients are far more likely to be swayed when they are told what they want to hear; that they can spend X on social media marketing and get X back.
Now don’t get me wrong, i’m not advocating that we just tell clients what they want to hear because the economy is tough, or in fact that we lost out on those clients as they went for alternative providers, neither are true. But, what I am saying is that while there are so many differing opinions on the subject, and therefore options, educating our clients on the issue is made even tougher.
This was a point of frustration, but over the same time period we’ve been busy continuing to develop our own metrics and frameworks to help clients to measure the tangible elements, while also communicating and evidencing that social media contains many points of human interaction that require a different approach.
As we developed our frameworks, and looked at the options of how social media relates to search marketing and other elements of the digital marketing mix, it became clear that as social media influences the function of digital marketing as a whole, the metrics that we use don’t need to be reflected through a single metric or score, so why make it so?
Furthermore, as has been mentioned previously on this blog and on many others, each campaign is unique, so a static metric framework, while undoubtedly useful, does not tell the whole story. In reality, the measurement points need to relate to core business objectives which will change from campaign to campaign.
This leaves us with an assortment of measurement points, including traditional metrics, all of which are useful, but need to be presented with a large dose of translation from the consultants involved, not by a single metric. So why try to distill the information down to a score when the power is in the detail?
I hope this brief overview has been a useful exercise, and helped in some way to move the conversation on, if not for many of the afore mentioned bloggers as they’ve undoubtedly considered this already, but from an education point of view.
The development of our own framework continues on an almost daily basis, different campaigns add new angles and considerations, and we will share more thinking as we continue to build.
Let me know your thoughts.
November 17th, 2008
I was trolling around a couple of old-fashioned virtual reality worlds over the weekend – the print versions of Guardian and Observer newspapers. Sometimes I really enjoy the different pace and mindset of reading print. I’ll be careful not to stretch the virtual world simile too far with these newspapers, though it did feel a little like that, wandering through editorial constructions of the worlds we live in.
Anyway, virtuality has surfaced again in press agendas with the Second Life divorce story that Mark Lawson commented on in Saturday’s Guardian. and Victor Keegan’s full-page Observer Focus on the “virtual revolution” the next day. Lawson warned about the emotional damage that could be caused in the real world from actions taken in a fantasy environment. Keegan wrote on the explosion of virtual worlds and the potential impact on real economies.
It was good to have the views of these two significant commentators so close together, with Lawson’s edgy assertion that popular culture needed to come to terms with the fact that fantasy actions have real emotional consequences balanced with Keegan’s economic perspective. Keegan warned that developing economies, particularly China, were building truly massive online 3D environments with the aim of luring customers in the developed economies to try then buy goods cheaply at source – collapse of middleman markets. A scary prospect but one that still has to wrestle with the realities of sub-prime service delivery, leading to lag, crashes and “unforeseen effects” (hardly conducive to making a sale, or for that matter, a “positive brand experience”) .
While Lawson confined his view to Second Life and reality TV, hooked around the suicide of an X Factor contestant in the US, Keegan named the usual suspects (SL, Entropia, Runescape) in his top picks, along with newcomers Twinity and Football Superstars. Keegan also made much of the European innovation and entrepreneurial spirit embodied in all the above, with the exception of SL and also doffed his cap to the Euro brilliance of Habbo, even stretching the Eurozone to include World of Warcraft (owned by French company Vivendi!)
At the risk of being unpatriotic, I could also mention Metaplace. I think this virtual space has everything – except an opening for me as a beta tester! It’s an open platform (world first?) that people can use to build their own virtual environments. The vision is to build a network of worlds, an ecosystem of business, education and pleasure. And the visionaries are Raph Koster, who you may know as former Sony Online Chief Creative Officer and author of one of my favourite manuals, “A Theory of Fun for Games”. He has easily completed his 10,000 hours required to become a Master in a given discipline (Malcolm Gladwell). Co-founder John Donham (also qualifying as a 10,000-hours Master) has helped to bring to fruition, among others, Everquest and Star Wars Galaxies. And investors include Mark Andreesson – another of my heroes. To cap it all, one of the advisors is Dr Richard Bartle, one of the most astute commentators on virtuality I’ve met.
I just begin to sense that the virtual universe has expanded again and moved out of the darker side that saw SL sign-ups fade away and investors lose their taste for these types of projects. And that is going to be good news for brands who want to find more routes to engaging with customers – and great news for those of us who love the sheer joy of a virtual world that connects and clicks.
November 17th, 2008
Just going over some of my old bookmarks and I found one that rather amused me entitled @ Replys for Twitter – by The social networking weblog.
Very relevant at the time but now seems incredible considering the massive success of Twitter. The post is dated December 26, 2007, so less than a year old, which seems remarkable given the fact that Twitter seems to have been around for years and the endless number of applications that have been made for it over the past 12 months or so.
The post goes on to talk about how to set up your @ replies on Twitter which is now obviously one of the main everyday reasons for using the tool – personally I think this post should go into the archive for social media and web 2.0 classic blog posts!
November 14th, 2008
Catching up with an old mobile games colleague today made me think again about potential for different genres on the infernal device. When we were busy at the codeface, the complexities of Java game development for different handset ranges were mind-numbing, even without the costs involved. Now, the focus seems to be on the iPhone and G1 on the one side, and Symbian smartphone, Windows Mobile on the other.
Whatever platform, the build and port costs have been contained, with coding dollars now used more productively in the complexity of the games themselves, rather than the on addressing the idiosyncrasies of Java implementation on different devices. That’s great news for the gamer, who has collectively suffered from poor quality games and for the producer, who has seen the majority of game revenues siphoned away by intermediaries. It’s quite an experience to see, for example, Metal Gear Solid running flicker-free on the N95.
I’d guess that the next big battle will be around distribution as third-party providers face a squeeze from the AppStore and clones that will spring up around the handset manufacturers. We might well see the vast majority of games and other apps distributed by five or six companies, including device manufacturers and network operators.
On the social media side, it’s still pretty clear that unless there is a rapid roll-out of high-speed, robust networks with always-on capability, the multiplayer environments will remain experimental and niche for the next five years at least, maybe double that.
Meanwhile, companies like Nokia continue to believe in group play and do embrace user generated content with a passion. As that matures, the sharing-community aesthetic should open new doors for brands seeking to engage in conversations with with their customers.
November 14th, 2008
The Five on Friday webmaster is on holiday this week, so I’m filling in. I hope this week’s five are of interest, all themed around tools for your blog.
Normal service will be resumed next week:
1. iSpeech is first up today. It’s a useful tool that can convert your favourite websites, RSS, Blogs and documents into speech with any PC or mobile device, allowing you to easily podcast your favourite blogs and feeds.
3. Feel like getting a bit more interactive with your blog subscribers? Then try Askablogr – an integrated blog question and answer service that allows readers to submit questions to bloggers who in turn can answer directly. Askablogr also creates an index of all the participating bloggers, readers and Q&A sessions, which opens you up to a world of new potential subscribers!
4 Zemanta is a useful tool that helps your browser to recognise what you are blogging about and then suggests pictures, links articles and tags to help you improve your post.
5. And finally for this week, if you enjoy commenting in the blogosphere, this one is for you: BackType is a service that lets you find, follow and share comments. Whenever you update the website field in a comment form of related site, BackType attributes it to you and adds it to a database profile featuring all the comments that you have published – lovely!
Until next week!