Archive for January, 2010
January 29th, 2010
Welcome to another installment of the â€˜Weekly Social Media sites, tools and posts round-upâ€™.
1. Tangler Live is a superb tool that allows you to have group conversation in real time. Create your room and then embed it into your post about the same event/issue – works great for live events when you want to speak to people interested in the same theme.
2. Web 2.0 Suicide Machine. Here is what the Guardian says: “”The Dutch website created by your unfriendly neighbourhood medialab moddr_ is designed to end users’ social lives on Facebook, Twitter, MySpace and LinkedIn in a spectacular way.”
3. Avatara. Most people have seen the film Avatar, well now you can create your own avatar usable in over 30 online destinations including Facebook.
4. Sprout Pitch. Simply pitch your start-ups, projects and ideas to the world via video – “think elevator pitch”
5. Collecta Widget Builder lets you build customisable widgets for your website very easily. Just grab the code and embed it into your site!
Social Media post of the week: 50 Twitter Tools and Tutorials For Designers and Developers – Smashing Magazine
SEO post of the week: 7 Places to Learn About SEO
More of the same social media sites and tools next week!
January 29th, 2010
Following ‘iPad‘ week I decided to look at the differing strategies of the world’s two biggest technology competitors to promote their new approaches/products.
Steve Jobs and Bill Gates are the traditional hero and villain of the computer world, and of course it depends on your point of view on which is which. They have been at it for some time, as the heads of their respective super brands (Microsoft and Apple), but Bill has taken a back seat at Microsoft, although he is still Chairman and of course the world’s richest man.
As you may or may not know, Bill Gates made an interesting move to open up his communications last week, by joining Twitter on January 19th, kicking off with ‘Hello World.’ Hard at work on my foundation letter – publishing on 1/25′, in reference to the Bill & Melinda Gates Foundation, the world’s largest non-profit hard at work giving Bill’s billions away to worthy causes. This has pretty much been over looked thanks to the anticipation and launch of Apple’s new best seller.
Since Bill joined, he’s been collecting followers like the Pied Piper of Twitterland. To be precise, according to figures from 20 decibels recent blog post on Wednesday (nice job guys): ‘Bill Gates has 365,000+ followers (now 376,000 +) and counting and has been added to 13,056 lists (now (13,600+) His following grew rapidly after sending his first tweet. He has a whopping 14,600 followers per tweet sent.’
Here’s Bill’s latest tweet: â€˜At Davos G8/G20 panel – Spain Pres. Zapatero says meeting MDGs just as important as global financial reform…‘ (When you have $50 billion in the bank you rub shoulders with some pretty important people).
Here’s some more interesting data from the guys at 20 decibels: ‘Bill’s tweets generate a very high click through rate. He has tweeted 12 links to 6 unique sites with a total of 160,161 clicks.
‘Engagement: In additional to high click through rates, Bill Gates audience engages with his content frequently. For example, his recent Tweet promoting the Gates Foundation annual letter garnered 818 Retweets on top of 13,500+ clicks.’
Pretty impressive, but then you would expect it to be. The question is why has Bill waited so long to join Twitter when his influence and understanding is so high? Could it be just that? In a scale of normal to Bill, the influence of Twitter can only offer so much more in comparison to what he already has? I hope not, as the figures above prove Twitter can be very valuable, and more importantly it has already helped him to engage directly with more people in his first week alone.
Although the iPad wasn’t officially advertised, the buzz and leaks around the story did much of the work for Steve and Apple. Apple doesn’t really need to PR its new launches anymore, well not in the traditional sense. A few strategic mentions, and the odd review leak, and the community will do the job for them. That’s not to say it wasn’t planned though.
So how was the iPad launch received? According to Trendrr there were 177,000 tweets in the first hour after the announcement, and Crimson Hexagon revealed that the content of more than half a million tweets following the iPad announcement sentiment was split down the middle with 48% percent of tweeters reacting positively, while the remaining 52% were less impressed.
Of the 48% positivity, 29% of people wanted to buy an iPad and of the 52% of tweets that were less impressed, the majority (21% of all tweets) had a bad reaction to the name, 19% weren’t impressed and 11% were critical of all the build-up and/or just sick of hearing about it.
But this is just a small proportion of the results Apple generated from a very tightly developed and seemingly secretive launch. You only need to look at the BBC, Guardian or FT yesterday to see Steve holding his iPad, with a nice big smile, to appreciate the scale of the hype surrounding the launch.
But was the hype as positive as he might have hoped? The reaction to the iPad has been 50/50, speaking personally the functionality of the iPad is disappointing and as a product it’s not something I’ll be investing in yet. The idea itself is probably the most revolutionary element, together with the new opportunities it presents for content and publishing. However, the hype may have in fact put the final product in the shade and made it seem a little disappointing in comparison. That said, it will obviously be a success and the next iterations will, as usual, be much more interesting and capable.
So what can we learn from Bill’s low level approach and the higher profile launch from Steve over the last week? Firstly, i’ll hold my hands up and say it’s not really fair to compare the two directly. The obvious issue is that one is a consumer product and the other a campaign of philanthropy. You could also say that both Bill and Steve are super brands in themselves, and nothing helps to build interest like a bit of fame, which is true, but it is an interesting look into the different approaches that two formally old-school technology giants are employing in a world of communications opportunities.
Apple’s old school cloak and dagger approach to product launches, although successful, potentially undermined the final product by not being upfront about its potential uses, elements and focuses. By leaving the community to build the buzz and furore to such an extent they may have in fact ended up being disappointed by the false expectancy. Would a little more engagement and actual product detail have helped to communicate the real benefits of the product and avoided disappointment?
In comparison, Bill has started to take an open approach by communicating with his audience and sharing his day-to-day activity, removing this false picture of the world’s richest man sitting on piles of cash and handing it out to those that he deems fit. This is a very different approach to the path he took at Microsoft and although he has to be more open as he is the brand now, it shows evolution in thinking and perhaps something that Steve could take notice of for his next major launch.
January 28th, 2010
- Edit film
- Edit images
- Create 3D models
- Create vector illustrations
- Create/edit mocap
- Compose/notate/edit music
- Create animated cartoons
- Design/edit publications
- Create and file corporate accounts
- Create/execute strategic PR plan for new â€œmagicalâ€ device.
Thereâ€™s plenty you canâ€™t do professionally with an iPad â€“ as detractors have been pointing out since its launch. But thatâ€™s maybe missing the point of its creation.
Steve Jobs made no apologies for declaring Apple as the company at the â€œintersection between technology and the liberal artsâ€. Heâ€™s right â€“ no other company has done as much and with the best intentions in the generalised intellectual field.
Thatâ€™s why the list emphasises â€œprofessionalâ€. Of course, Apple does provide elegant solutions for all those expert tasks and itâ€™s exactly why the iPad does not. It is not competing in the professional desktop or laptop markets. It’s competing in a newer space. It did not invent the pad/slate/tablet market. But it sure as hell has taken that market out of Death Niche Valley.
Other companies, like Hewlett Packard, will be launching their versions this year â€“ Iâ€™d bet that none will be as desirable as the iPad. Why? Because Apple not only understands the power of good design, it also understands “market” for liberal arts/education better than anyone else.
The debate on whether the launch of the iPad was handled successfully goes on and Clark Turner, editor of UTalkMarketing has been helping to focus that (disclosure â€“ thereâ€™s a contribution from me!) What is beyond serious debate is that Steve Jobs and his team have created a product that will sell in multiples of millions into a new group of customers, as well as Apple die-hards and iPhone/iPod converts.
The iPad is about three things: connectivity, distribution, exchange. It wi-fi is lightning fast (3G is a wait-and-see) so users are up, online and networking without so much as a single slow handclap.
This easy connectivity is a boon for publishers of newspapers, magazines, books, film and music. The digital distribution network just got very large indeed.
Online, iPad users can exchange, share and learn. Education, in its generalised, liberal sense, has also expanded its horizons and my colleague Lorraine Warren nails the reasons elegantly on her blog.
The iPad will appeal to a wide demographic – I canâ€™t wait for the ads (toddlers, grannies, teens, mums and dads, mums and mums, dads and dads, singles, in-betweenies, grumpy old menâ€¦)
I know itâ€™s an old Apple term but the iPad is â€œinsanely greatâ€, as much for what it does not do, as for what it does.
January 26th, 2010
In a few hoursâ€™ time (10.am PST â€“ 6pm GMT) Steve Jobs will unveil the new Apple iSlate (iPad, iPlank, iWant1) at the Yerba Buena Centre for the Arts Theatre in San Francisco and change everything, again – except the global network his new baby will join.
Guess what, heâ€™s not alone. Hewlett-Packard CTO Phil McKinney took Steveâ€™s cue and boosted his companyâ€™s Slate â€“ announced first at the CES show- again on video this week. Phil has been raving about the potential for these devices for the past year and might feel more than a little miffed by the Apple landgrab. HP is due to market their slate later this year. Itâ€™s the consolidated concept made real – the all-in-one device (based on Windows 7, naturally).
For now, though, Apple has the stage. No company creates desire better than Apple â€“ and nobody does it better than Steve Jobs. We donâ€™t know the details (desire), the Apple website is very slow and anyway is ignoring the future of computing – so we put dreams and nods and winks together. Hereâ€™s mine: 10-inch multitouch screen, aluminium or rough surface body, webcam, MacOS 10.7, wi-fi/3G access, Apple-crafted ARM-based chip, App Store enabled, games and widgetsâ€¦
Its one weak spot â€“ no keyboard. Touchscreen boards suck â€“ ergonomic hell and we will want to communicate. Itâ€™s the iPhoneâ€™s major failing and I donâ€™t know how Apple is going to address this flaw.
What it will do is to outshine all the beautiful design and tech specs. Appleâ€™s timing is, again, spot-on as the traditional media push back against the embedded culture of â€œfreeâ€ and look for a means to make paying for content a pleasure. With the iSlate, newspapers and magazines have just been given a new lease of life.
It will be cool again to pay for trad media content because Apple will make it desirable and flexible. No need for an annual subscription, Apple will provide the payment platform that gives you options. Micropayments suddenly make economic sense to publishers, including the New York Times and the Washington Post.
Who else wins? Education â€“ facing unacceptable cuts in funding from nursery to post-grad. In the US, Apple has a sizable share of the education dollar and institutions have already bought into the eBook as a means of reducing library costs. The iSlate will extend that market selling point globally and will tough it out against HP and the other PC Slate builders.
Book publishers will benefit not only from academic sales and reduced costs of production/distribution. Tie-ins with the big supermarkets should enable them and the Slate makers to make a killing at the expense of the traditional booksellers and the first generation e-reader manufacturers. Amazon must be working on a game plan for Kindle 2 (a Slate?) or talking hard with HP and Apple.
I bet weâ€™ll have to wait in Europe for our version of the iSlate â€“ maybe until the Summer, although that wonâ€™t stop the publishing giants from knocking hard on Appleâ€™s door. Or us, for that matter.
January 25th, 2010
Would you turn the clock back? To a more simple, one-way age without the Internet? Not many hands showing thereâ€¦
For all its faults, catalogued by Aleks Krotoski in her illuminating Observer article this week, the Internet has become the defining cultural force, with a power dwarfing the traditional means of communication.
Aleks, whose long-term research into online culture has given birth to a four-part series â€“ The Virtual Revolution (starting Saturday 30th, BBC 2 8.30pm) â€“ recognises the flaws while celebrating the benefits of our connected present. I, for one, canâ€™t wait to see the series.
Her fears around issues of online privacy and the commercially-driven narrowing of personal horizons are matched by her ambivalence towards a technology that can be appropriated both for progressive ends and at the same time by repressive governments and extremist propaganda.
Her telling point that the Web â€“ although we can extend that to the global meshwork â€“ is â€œsimply a reflection of who we already are offlineâ€ gives us pause. We do things differently now because the means are available to communicate in different ways â€“ changing ourselves is a little more complex.
Aleksâ€™ words found a resonant echo in another incisive weekend article by Naomi Klein. From her vantage point on No Logo hill, Naomi surveys the rebranded United States and urges us to be vigilant in our online and offline lives.
Her passionate dissection of the Obama brand in The Guardian Review â€“ and what that means for our political future â€“ reveals the excruciating tension at the heart of the culture of governance. Weâ€™re in danger of accepting the superficial glamour of personal political branding at the expense of challenging and debating the complex underlying systems.
This political rebranding is still in its infancy in the UK and weâ€™re unlikely to see the country morphed in a similar way before the election â€“ or indeed to witness an online-engineered transformation of the party leaders Gordon Brown, David Cameron or Nick Clegg.
But Naomi shows how the moonling Bush was dissolved by the extraordinary marketing machine that Obama engineered and, because we have embraced the American way of political campaigning, there is no reason to assume that rebranding of leaders and country is impossible.
As Aleks suggests, we are all in the process of recreating the world and this is reflected online. What each of us thinks and does has a profound effect on how the future is shaped â€“ the meshwork functions at our command. Right now, by investigating beyond the distractions and distortions of brand culture, we can engage and change.
We can also believe more in the power of the meshwork to be an honest reflection of our true needs and desires. What both Aleks and Naomi intimate is that we can define the discourse and put pressure on every brand to engage more honestly with us – the dusting of glamour is wearing thinner – we naturally want substance that matches our dreams.
January 22nd, 2010
A journalist-style Big Brother has today been announced, whereby five journalists will lock themselves away in a French farmhouse for five days, with access to only Facebook and Twitter as their news sources. The experiment will test the quality of news from the social networking and micro-blogging sites as access to all other areas of the Internet will be banned, along with smartphones, TV, radio and newspapers.
The journalists from Canadian, French, Belgian and Swiss radio stations will be expected to go on the air on their channels to comment on news they have found. But without being able to corroborate their news through usual sources and channels, it remains to be seen whether they will have any news to report!
The RFP French-language public broadcasters association has organised the event, and claims: “Our aim is to show that there are different sources of information and to look at the legitimacy of each of these sources.”
The stakes are high – the experiment is likely to attract a lot of media attention and so the journalists will be under pressure to deliver ‘news’…but at what cost? Will they take the risk of reporting news that has not been properly corroborated by multiple sources? Surely that would be highly irresponsible behaviour for a news organisation.
As I previously documented in a post last year entitled: “Mzinga backlash: Is Twitter a reliable journalist/blogger source?“, Twitter can be an unreliable and liabellous source of news, and hoaxes are commonplace. While it will be interesting to follow the journalists’ findings and experience, I’m not sure I even agree with the point of the experiment as it completely contradicts with the principles of quality journalism.
I imagine it will be very time consuming for the journalists to try and validate stories, and so in particular I will be watching to see whether they are able to deliver ‘breaking news’, or whether it will just be commentary after the event. It will be interesting if the journalists share the criteria they used for corroborating stories i.e. volume of Tweets on the subject.
I’m sure there will be a follow-up post from me when the experiment concludes!
January 22nd, 2010
Welcome to another installment of the â€˜Weekly Social Media sites, tools and posts round-upâ€™
1. Create your own iPhone or Android app for $25.00Â – you have got be kidding right? That’s what iSites offers: “Create an iPhone app almost instantly! We take care of the app store submission in less than 24 hours”.
2. NutShell Mail has an interesting free Email Newsletter application for Facebook that enables your fans to keep track of new activity on your page.
3. Buzzom has a nice Twitter tool that give you a person’s Twitter score based on different criteria. These include influence, RT ratio, Tweet efficiency, RT rank and Following rank.
4. Vidinotes is a nice solution for getting video ‘How To’s’ down on paper. Simply upload your Flash video, capture a slide and add the notes to go with it. Finally download the PDF with the screenshot and accompanying note or print.
5. Twitcaps allows you to view real time images in Twitter as they are Tweeted. It also allows you to search for an image via keywords, locations or # then capture the image if you like it.
Social Media post of the week: 100 Ways To Measure Social Media
SEO post of the week: 15 SEO Tools from Google Essential for Publishers and Webmasters
More of the same social media sites and tools next week!
January 22nd, 2010
Back in April 2007, when Liberate Media was just a year old, and the social media question was still very much â€˜if’ and not â€˜when’, Forrester’s Charlene Li and Josh Bernhoff wrote a paper called Social Technographics
The executive summary for which is overviewed below:
‘Many companies approach Social Computing as a list of technologies to be deployed as needed – a blog here, a podcast there – to achieve a marketing goal. But a more coherent approach is to start with your target audience and determine what kind of relationship you want to build with them, based on what they are ready for. Forrester categorizes Social Computing behaviours into a ladder with six levels of participation; we use the term Social TechnographicsÂ® to describe a population according to its participation in these levels. Brands, Web sites, and any other companies pursuing social technologies should analyze their customers’ Social Technographics first and then create a social strategy based on this profile.’
If you are a digital marketer, you’re no doubt familiar with Social Technographics, as many of the related models and thinking from agencies all over the world were either based on, or used parts of, this profile to develop their own thinking. However, the all encompassing rungs and often simplified definitions have also been criticised as they are not specific or far reaching enough. I think that although these criticisms make a good point in terms of accuracy, the model is very useful to help communicate strategies and considering it’s based on Forrester’s own primary research.
Furthermore, the primary data that Forrester used to develop Social Technographics took into consideration how consumers approach social technologies, going beyond simple adoption figures that don’t necessarily tell the whole story as people try out technologies and leave them before settling on a group of favoured tools or methods.
So here’s the original profile:
As you can see the Social Technographics ladder was divided into six different categories of participation. It’s important to note that participation at one level may or may not overlap with participation at other levels, which is why the model was developed as a ladder, with the rungs at the higher end of the ladder indicating a higher level of participation. This is also why the figures don’t add up to 100%.
The model has worked well, but as we know social media moves quickly and an update was required, which came this week via Josh Bernhoff (Charlene Li has since left Forrester and founded Altimeter Group)Â and as overviewed in Advertising Age.
So what has changed? Well, as Josh has explained:
â€˜As you can see from the graphic, we added a new rung, “Conversationalists”. Conversationalists reflects two changes. First, it includes not just Twitter members, but also people who update social network status to converse (since this activity in Facebook is actually more prevalent than tweeting). And second, we include only people who update at least weekly, since anything less than this isn’t much of a conversation.’
Who are Conversationalists? Josh confirms that â€˜they’re 56% female, more than any other group in the ladder. While they’re among the youngest of the groups, 70% are still 30 and up.’
It’s also interesting to note that the data from the new survey continues the trends from the last two and a half years, showing Spectators are up to 70%, Joiners are still growing rapidly, and Creators are growing slowly.
We can also see the number of online consumers not yet using social media is down to 17%, showing room for further growth although it could also be argued there is plenty of room for growth within the 70 % of joiners too.
Josh also highlighted three potential uses for the profile, although there are many more:
1. Convince your boss this stuff is for real, and that if you haven’t jumped on it, you’re late.
2. Profile your customer base, and see what they’re ready for, before planning a project to reach out to them. (After all, People is the first step in the POST process.)
3. Segment your audience; build different strategies for different segments. (Social is so prevalent now that a single approach for your company is probably too broad.)
I wonder what will the next rung on the ladder will represent and how long will it take to appear? Or will the ladder format be rejected for a more complex graphic representing the connected and complex nature of the community as a whole.
January 19th, 2010
After the recent Earthquake in Haiti, I wanted to share with you a brief post on some of the widgets and banners available on the web that you can place in your own website or blog to encourage others to give and help a worthy cause.
- Widgets Lab have covered most of them off.
- Person Finder: Haiti Earthquake widget can be found here
- The ‘Help for Haiti’ widget can be found here
- Banners from Save the Children can be found here
- Oxfam Ireland have a selection of banners here
- hcjb global has a selection here
- Food for the Hungry has a selection here
- Plan has banners you can download here
- World Food Programme has a Facebook banner you can use: http://www.facebook.com/sharer.php?appid=2309869772&u=https://www.wfp.org/haiti
Thanks for spreading the word!
January 15th, 2010
It’s been a heavy week in politics, particularly from a PR standpoint. I thought it might be interesting to summarise my observations…
1. The Government’s apology to thalidomide survivors was delivered yesterday by Health Minister Mike O’Brien. It marked a big moment for victims of the 1950′s drug disaster in which pregnant women were severely affected as a result of having taken the drug for medical conditions such as morning sickness. It caused severe abnormalities in their babies, many of whom died within months of being born.
It’s taken 50 years for the Government to publicly take the blame, taking crisis management to a whole new level. Some however have questioned why the statement was delivered by a junior government minister – surely a British regulatory failure should be handled by no other than the most senior of spokespeople?
2. DUP leader Peter Robinson stepped down as Northern Ireland’s First Minister for six weeks to allow for an official investigation into his conduct surrounding his wife’s private life and finances. Robinson has completely rejected allegations that he knew about the Â£50,000 that his wife obtained from two developers for her teenage lover but did not tell the proper authorities.
Stepping aside can be a useful, temporary PR tactic, but opinion remains divided over whether an ‘innocent’ verdict will restore public confidence. Six weeks is a long time in politics, particularly amid a political crisis over devolution of policing and justice powers.
The DUP’s decision to publicly support Robinson is a brave one, and one they may live to regret. Jim Allister, the leader of Traditional Unionist Voice, commented: “The damage done to the Robinson brand is transferred to the DUP brand by such unequivocal support.”
3. Alastair Campbellâ€™s appearance at the Iraq Inquiry once again begged the quesion why a communications man became so heavily involved in British Intelligence, including being involved in the writing of the WMD dossier. Don’t ever underestimate the power of a PR man (or woman!).
It’s been Campbell’s word against the former head of MI6, Sir John Scarlett, demonstrating the power a few words can hold. James Kirkup’s posts on the subject over at the Telegraph blog are well worth a read.