Tag Archives: Twitter

9 Out of 10 Cats With Opposable Thumbs Prefer Facebook!

I caught this advert at the weekend, I thought it was wonderful… although it didn’t make me want to rush out to buy some Cravendale milk! Also worth noting is Cravendale have created an online campaign around this advert, encouraging viewers to follow them on Twitter or like their Facebook page, buts what’s telling is that they have 33,ooo Facebook fans but only 3,500 Twitter followers, or another way of saying it, is that 9 out of 10 cats with opposable thumbs prefer Facebook! (maybe I’m getting my advertising messages confused!)

you should follow me on twitter here

Linked In or Locked Out?

I’m not a regular user of Linked in, but I decided to update my profile a couple of days ago and use the service to see if I could find some old contacts I’ve not been in touch with for ages by importing my various address books, 5 minutes later I had 300 plus recommendations, but a large chunk of these were people I’m never likely to interactive with again, so I opted to filter out the noise and only chose those I’m likely to contact in the future.

While trawling through the list and clicking on various contacts I was intrigued how some unlikely connections started to appear between friends, work colleagues and business associates that I would have never thought likely, crossing business sectors, industries and even continents. But when I clicked on some contacts I found their contacts were hidden from view… this is something I can’t fathom, why hide your contacts? the name of the service is a bit of a give away, doesn’t it tell you something, it’s all about being “linked in”… is there some sort of competitive advantage to hiding your contacts? unlikely, as personally I think it could work against you, as by not seeing your contacts I’m less likely to build a good picture of who you really are and who your business associates are… as they say, you can a tell a person by the company they keep. Is it a privacy thing? are you trying to stop me getting spam and requests from unwanted contacts? If so, why bother, I’m more than capable of ignoring requests and filtering linked in emails.

Actually I think it’s a more fundamental than that, I don’t wish to offend anyone by saying this, but I believe it’s something to do with age, (I’m no spring chicken myself I should add), let me explain.

First I’ll use Facebook and my own family as an example, choosing 4 of my relatives at random, ranging in age from 13-25, they have friend and tagged photo totals of
13yr 625 friends, 667 photos
22yr 490 friends, 287 photos
23yr  768 friends, 1,052 photos
25yr 825 friends, 3,61 photos

averaging 677 friends and 1,419 photos, but it’s not just the number of ‘friends’ and photos they have, they also display their dates of birth, their email addresses etc

If I take a look family and friends in the age range of 35-50, myself included, I get averages of 190 friends and 163 photos, quite a marked difference. And this isn’t just a Facebook phenomenon, it’s happens across all social networks, is it because the younger generation are more social, or that they’re using and relying on these systems more, partly yes, but it’s also a markedly different take on privacy, they’ve accepted and in some way embraced the fact that privacy isn’t something you have or something they should concern themselves with in this digital age, it’s not their problem. The more places they have their name, email, age, location, likes, dislikes plastered across the digital domain, the easier life become, choices and recommendations are made for them, friends and families have no problem finding them (they never lose touch in the first place), searching and finding things becomes easier, there’s so much on tap that they spend most of their time filtering what’s pushed at them rather than looking for new things, but again that filtering is done for them the more personal information they put out there, the better the filters work. Firefox announced a few days ago how it’s hoping websites will honour it’s users wishes who switch on their new “Don’t track me” feature in their preferences, hoping to avoid advertisers and online retailers from targeting them and building personalised demographics. This is unlikely to work as it requires the retailers to opt in to the users that opt out, most won’t.

To an older demographic this may sound horrific, they’re giving away too much freedom, we have to stop this happening, it’s as if 1984 is coming to fruition! but hang on a minute, these guys weren’t even born in 1984!

I read all the time bloggers bemoaning the loss of privacy, how we have information overload with too many choices, so we graze snippets of information, rather than sit down for a big meal, that transient use of social networks aren’t an adequate replacement for deeper more substantial real world interactions. I’ve been known to say that a measure of a real vs virtual friend is someone you know you can ask for £50 and they have no problem dipping into their pocket to help you out, try doing that with a 1,000 Facebook friends or Twitter followers, although not impossible.

But what about identity theft? The onus is shifting, it’s down to the banks to come up with more secure ways to protect our money and assets, as they’re liable, using a password, my date of birth or my mothers maiden name is no longer an adequate way to identify me, this information can be easily tapped online, often in the one place, take Facebook as a perfect example, your birthday is likely displayed, if not references and pictures of your birthday will be there… mothers maiden name? again you if you’re linked to your mother, she will likely use her married name, but your uncle (her brother) will be linked to her, plus if she divorced or wants old school friends to track her down, she likely has her maiden name displayed on her profile.

As the recent Wikileaks scandal has highlighted, privacy is dead, once you transpose something digitally, no matter how personal, off the record or secret you think it is, it’s public. Upload something to a website or a blog, then have second thoughts and delete it, you need to accept it’s not really gone, it’s still sitting on a server somewhere and Google is likely caching it too (and yes it will still appear in a search).

The next generation isn’t giving up it’s liberty, they’re not ignorant to it’s importance, they accept this flow of personal information isn’t something to worry about, or a hinderance, it’s quite the opposite, it has it’s advantages, being open and transparent works

Practise What You Tweet

I read this article yesterday about Evan Williams, co-founder of Twitter, and how he rarely tweets, sure enough he only has 128 tweets! which was a little surprising, especially as he’s now head of product development… but as he says he uses Twitter for consumption not broadcasting… although he follows just 1,284 users, while he has 1,257,315 followers (that’s almost a 1,000 to 1 ratio).

As the post highlights, a lack of engagement or passion in another of Evan’s earlier startups Odeo, doomed it from day 1, even though he was able to source funding, he just didn’t appear compelled or interested enough in it to keep it going. I have no doubt Twitter will continue to thrive with or without Evan’s tweets, but it is interesting nonetheless.

To build a company you really have to believe in it and use it’s services. The same is true when building your brand, you have to live and breath your ethos. I posted a few days ago, that you have to be authentic, if you’re not, and you can’t convince yourself, how will you ever convince those you connect with or your customers!

I’m in the early stages of building and launching a new company named no paper onto the world, as the name implies, we don’t use paper. I live and breath this ideology, I only purchase eBooks, no paper books, I have Kindles, Sony eReaders, iPads, iPhones, laptops all choc full of eBooks. Our iPads and iPhones are our daily notebooks (FYI there’s a no paper iApp coming soon). We have a no paper office policy, no printer, no fax machines, no paper notepads in meetings or on people’s desks. Paper invoices are ignored and go unpaid until we receive an electronic version, we do not accept cheques only bank transfers for payment, most if not all business is handled electronically. That may sound draconian at first, but when you adhere to the rules not because you have to, but because you want to, you realise they weren’t rules, they were advice. Then a wonderful thing starts to happen, you become emotionally engaged in the ethos, it becomes visceral (more on that by Anne), you start putting forward your own suggestions, it’s no longer just part of your life, you become part of it. This harks back to the definition of leadership

At home I don’t send letters, birthday or xmas cards and my family and friends know not to send them to me either (I’d rather a phone call or text, costs less and I find it’s more engaging and personal), all my utilities, bills and bank statements are electronic or online, I’m converting all my old paper bank statements, utility bills, insurance records etc into electronic versions (and experimenting in the best way to reference and store them, again something we’re working on at no paper), I refuse to have junk mail and freebie newspapers pushed through my letterbox… I could go on, but you get the idea, I live and breath the brand values of my business… as the saying goes, “If you truly want to understand something, try changing it” but that also works in reverse, “If you truly want to change something, try understanding it!” the only way I can truly understand a life with no paper is to live one… if I can do it, then hopefully I can encourage others to do the same, then in turn they will encourage others.

Associated Media vs Social Media

I don’t think the term “Social Media” is applicable anymore, fair enough it evolved from the early online community sites, but the term now encompasses virtually all manner of web 2.0, blogs, data aggregation services etc, most of which have nothing to do with being social, so it’s much more than a way to connect and send messages and hence be social with your friends.

Plus there’s the so called “Social Media Expert”, but ask yourself, how can someone say they’re an expert in something that is so vast and is evolving and changing so rapidly that it’s almost impossible to keep up. To be a SME is a paradox “The more I know, the more I realise I know nothing”

So I prefer to talk around associated media, or associated connections, as I see the real future of the “Social Media Revolution” will be the leveraging of connections, and not merely connecting you to your friends and what they’re saying but to your “combined” wealth of information, utilising smart connections, connections that are associated to you and what you’re looking for… so rather than you looking for information, it finds you, now that’s a revolution worth talking about!

Comic Strip of a Social Media Expert

The Social Media Revolution Fad

As I’ve re-quoted before “Statistics are like bikinis. What they reveal is suggestive, but what they conceal is vital“ Aaron Levenstein

This video makes compelling reading/watching, but read between the lines, there’s more to this than meets the eye, major changes are unfolding in the social media environment, information/data/ID aggregation is becoming the new hot potato, the shift is about linking you to the stuff you want to know in a transparent & convenient way.

For more info & a list of quotes & stats go to the socialnomics blog

Also check out a brilliant and ballsy presentation by Marta Kagan entitled What the F**K is Social Media: One Year Later

Also note Marta doesn’t use the that annoying Social Media Expert moniker, she calls herself a Bonafide Marketing Genius, now that’s a great job title! (as long as you live up to it of course, although reading her blog, it looks like she does)

Wave Goodbye to Closed Networks

Google said they’d have something interesting to demo at the Google IO Dev Conference, oh boy they weren’t kidding… Hello to Google Waves!

The Video below is 1.5hrs long, but it’s worth a look, as this will change everything. I’ve been harping on for ages about data aggregation & building open platforms without walls, with API’s for developers & third parties to leverage & integrate with (just like our plans for no paper & ID Gator), well Google have just stepped up to the plate with all their might and done just that… it all works in standard HTML5 & it’s all Open Source Code!!!!

Email, wiki’s, instant messaging, realtime inline document collaboration & creation, blogs, image & rich media sharing, polling, mobile and other stuff I’ve forgotten to mention can all be handled & integrated by Waves.

The way you use Twitter, Facebook, MSN, Skype, Blogs etc is about to change forever, no more proprietary software, no having to log into a specific system to access & update your data, connect & interact with colleagues etc Waves passes all that and allows you to do it from whatever system you want.

Want to connect with everyone you know on Facebook, Twitter, MySpace, AOL, Google, MSN etc without logging into Facebook, Twitter, MySpace, AOL, Google, MSN etc, with Waves you’ll be able to do that.

Why is this so powerful & something that the likes of Facebook should be concerned about? Well you’ll be able to get all the interation of Facebook & connect to all your friends, without ever logging directly into Facebook again! So you never look at their main revenue stream, their adverts! I was writing a blog a few days ago (didn’t get round to fininshing it), where I was saying that Facebook’s biggest threat isn’t from someone like Myspace, Twitter or Google… it will be from the parasites, the small third parties that feed off & leverage it’s systems, these guys can easily create revenue streams that Facebook can’t (or is missing), Google has just made that job easier with Google Waves.

So why would Facebook (or those like Facebook) integrate Waves? Simply put, they will have no choice, the users will want it (see an old post for what I mean)… already Facebook has opened it’s walled garden with Facebook Connect, if Waves could take hold & it’s protocol become the de facto way to collaborate, they’d have no choice but to open up & integrate it… it will be interesting to see if Google actually push this, or like so many of their ideas, invest loads of time in developing the initial idea, then let it stagnate and die… which is a great shame, as it’s only the likes of a giant like Google that could take on the likes of Facebook… which is something they should be bear in mind in reverse, as Facebook continues to amass it’s user base, it will become a force to be reckoned with in Google’s market space, “Search”, for as Amazon has proven, it’s personal recommendations that lead us in purchasing decisions, if Facebook taps into our friends recommendations and “likes”, then we’ll start our searching in Facebook, not Google. A possible future with a Facebook and Bing alliance could cause Google reasons to be concerned.

more info from
wave.google.com
code.google.com/apis/wave (very techie!)
waveprotocol.org

Welcome To The Party

We all use social networks in different ways, some for work, some for play, some for play while at work!? No matter how you use them, you’re going to meet someone that uses the same network differently. The two networks getting most press coverage currently are Twitter & Facebook, both of which have very different ways of connecting you to others on their networks, both having advantages & disadvantages, so you need to use them in very different ways.

Facebook’s greatest advantage is only letting those you know hear what you’re saying, while Twitter’s greatest advantage is allowing anyone to eavesdrop your conversation, so Facebook is connecting you with people you already know, Twitter is connecting you with people you want to know.

One way of looking at it is, Twitter is a night club, Facebook is a house party, so be careful who you let in

What if Facebook was real?

Twitter to charge commercial accounts, is this a good idea?

Where did I hear about this first, on twitter of course! thanks to Matt Ryan

In this piece in Marketing Magazine, it would appear Twitter is working out ways to monetize it’s service.

Co-founder Biz Stone told Marketing: ‘We are noticing more companies using Twitter and individuals following them. We can identify ways to make this experience even more valuable and charge for commercial accounts.’

I appreciate Twitter needs a revenue stream, adverts certainly wouldn’t work, they’d drive people away, so charging corporations is a good approach, if they’re using twitter for commercial gain, why shouldn’t Twitter benefit? But how do you distinguish between an individual or a company or brand. Celebrities are brands, but they’re individuals, CEO’s may be the voice for a corporate, but they too are individuals! What about non-profits or high profile bloggers etc, simply setting a threshold on follower numbers wouldn’t help either.

For Twitter to make this work simply, they should add an opt in premium account version that sits within Twitter, then anyone can have the premium version if they want, be it corporate, celeb or individual. Add extra features for the premium version, such as filtering, allowing you to use key words to filter incoming tweets, or ways to group your followers or those you’re following, or ways to delve into the demographics of your followers, their locations, their amount of activity, their gender etc. All useful stuff for a corporate’s marketing department and something they’d happily pay for!

The Dalai Lama on Twitter… Nope, just a case of Brand Jacking

Within 24hrs of announcing his Twitter account, the Dalai Lama has amassed 13,450 followers… Surely that must have set a new Twitter record!

Why choose Twitter: “His Holiness thought it was prudent to make his office open and assessable to a more youth and technologically advancing audience.” So now there really is no excuses for anyone saying they can’t be bothered or don’t get Twitter!

BUT AU CONTRAIRE: This is a fake profile that was pulled by Twitter yesterday, click here for more info. Reminds me of the Exxon Mobil Corp Branding Jacking case I wrote about in my You Don’t Know Jack post. All the more reason for the Dalia Lama to have an ID Gator account!

Twitter vs Facebook

defacebook

Here‘s an terrific post asking the question, “Twitter vs Facebook: Should you choose one?”

I recommend reading the whole post, plus some of the comments make interesting reading as well, here’s the posts conclusion: In the end, both Twitter and Facebook are simply communication tools; both will continue to evolve and morph as users find new ways to extract value and either network may or may become a long term winner in the rapidly evolving social networking space. Ultimately, the fact remains to be seen whether either application has a profitable, scalable and sustainable business model or whether the exit strategy is simply to be acquired.

As we learned in the search space, consolidation will eventually prevail. Unless they can find a way to turn all those eyeballs into profits, social networks will lose relevance. It does seem obvious that the venture capitalists are betting they will not only continue to enjoy tremendous growth but will also successfully monetize all that traffic.

But, will either Twitter or Facebook become the next Google or will they fade into the rear view mirror of technological and social evolution?

Trust Me, I’m a Blogger

While taking a break from my hectic morning schedule of making myself a cup of tea & finding some clean socks to wear I thought I’d check in and see what little bread crumbs my fellow Twits had left for me. Sure enough there were plenty, but one from Jaculynn stood out more than most “For big hearts. Please help. http://is.gd/eKbo Please retweet.” so I followed the link.

Glad I did, here’s a quick synopsis, a guy named David Armano, was asking for help, not for himself, but for a friend, a young woman named Daniela & her three children, whom were staying at his house, as she was going through a separation from her abusive husband. He was asking for $5,000, so Daniela could get her own place for her family and didn’t have to worry about a deposit or rent for a little while. David wasn’t asking for big donations, just whatever you could spare during these hard times, any amount would help & if you couldn’t donate directly then at least pass on the message.

Within 4hrs of posting the request on his blog & Twitter, he’d not only reached his target, he’d doubled it!! I think it’s safe to say that he was blown away by this, but what it shows is how much his followers & readers respect him.

So is this amazing success all down to blogs, twitter & social networks? absolutely not… it’s entirely down to David, and his skill in utilising the technologies to gain trust. He’s been writing his blog for 3 years & he’s amassed 8,000 followers on Twitter, but it’s taken him a long time & a lot of effort, but the payback has been worthwhile, as I’m sure 2009 is looking a much better place for Daniela & her family right now.

And this is all because David decided to make a difference and channel the trust he’s built to good use, or as Amie eloquently puts it in her comment to David’s thank you video “Absolutely incredible – not only have you helped a family in need, but you’ve proven again how powerful it is when just one person stands up to say, I will make a difference. You have. Imagine what else is possible”

exactly!

UPDATE:
Here’s a great blog article by Scott Drummond that expands upon what I said above, so get working on your Relationship Bank Balance! (that’s such a great analogy)

Your Identity Matters!

There are those that label a personal domain name as a vanity domain, but I disagree… having a personalised number plate is vanity, owning a personalised URL is foresight… what’s the difference? I’ll give you an example. In an interview, a young woman of 16 said, I want to more famous than Persil Automatic, that young woman was Victoria “Posh Spice” Beckham. There’s no doubting that she’s accomplished her goal… but what’s interesting is that she could have compared herself to “Madonna” or another well known musician, but she didn’t, she chose a washing detergent!?! I could go into this more, but I won’t as Jeremy Bullmore does such a brilliant job at explaining why here.

So coming back to my point, Victoria Beckham knew from a pretty young age how important her image, identity & brand were to her, and she set out to establish it. Now take a look at your own online fingerprint, are you really in control of it. You’re spread across the net on Facebook, Myspace, Flickr, Twitter, Google, Blogger, Plaxo, YouTube, TypePad, Hi5, Yahoo, Bebo, Slideshare, Vimeo, EyeJot, WordPress… I could go on, but you get the picture. Isn’t it about time you consolidated all of your online identity, isn’t it time you made sure no one was pretending to be you!? Yeah it happens everyday, normally to someone famous, but it can happen to you just as easily,  a jilted ex, mates having a bit of a laugh etc

I registered my own name as a domain about 10 years ago, as things change, but my name won’t, my online identity is about me not the company(s) I work at or own, over the years I’ve owned 10 companies, merged & sold 5, each time my emails, contact numbers etc have changed, but my own personal website has always been a constant. But there’s more to it than that, I’ve been helping companies build & protect their digital brands for years, but it’s time individuals wake up to the fact that they need to protect & build their online Brand too. What does your Facebook profile say about you, photos of you with a permanent marker pen moustache drawn on you face as you lay drunk in a heap on New Years Eve? Or your boyfriend posts a video of you in your underwear while you work out on your “Wii Fit.” These may all appear as harmless bits of fun now, but they could be very embarrassing in the future when job interviews or promotions come up.

If you’re in the business of dealing with your clients Brand, Marketing, PR etc then what happens when they type your name into Google, if you can’t demonstrate that you can get yourself to the top of search engines, or more importantly, protect your own identity online, then how do you expect your client to trust you to do the same for them?

So coming back to personalised domains, for an individual Web 2.0 is all about making connections, creating relationships & building trust, and I see the next shift (call it web 2.5 / 3.0 if you want) will be centred around the “individual” aggregating their numerous networks, thus allowing them to leverage the trusted connections they’ve invested so much effort in building. So how better to do that, than to put your own name to it!

Think about it, Your Identity Matters!

Time for Facebook to Face the Facts

Nick Burcher added a post on his blog about Facebook Usage Statistics for 2008 which made me think about something I mentioned a few weeks ago, as I noticed within Facebook’s top 21 only India & Hong Kong appear for the whole of Asia! Where’s China, Japan, Indonesia etc?

Nick’s stats are interesting, but they’re bikini statistics, nice to look at but they’re not revealing everything you may want to see!? So let’s add some population data & look at these figures a little closer, 32.7% of Canadians use Facebook, the largest country population % worldwide, closely followed by Denmark, but look at the other end of spectrum, only 1.3% of Mexicans use it, while 0.1% of Indians!!! Also, you hear all the time about how big Facebook is, and that everyone’s using it? Well actually no, as only 2.1% of the world’s population are on Facebook, so there’s still a pretty big slice of the pie out there for the taking. NB: it’s worth noting that Facebook ranks very low in Asia with other social networks being far more popular (I don’t have the stats to hand but I shall post them in the next day or so).

So why the disparity, is it to do with a technology divide, certainly not, we’re talking the likes of Japan & Korea here, who are light years ahead when it comes to technology uptake. No I think it’s something a bit simpler than that, language. I’ve asked Japanese friends before about Facebook and they’ve told me that it’s translation & implementation of Japanese sucks. I don’t know about India, but I’m sure the same is true for there. But in India there’s another issue, access to Facebook… the number of PC users is dwarfed by the number of Mobile phone users and Facebook’s mobile phone implementation isn’t great, so it’s not being used. So while Facebook’s position in the social network scene may appear dominant in the west, in the east it’s non-existent!

facebook-statistics

Now here’s another interesting set of statistics courtesy of Twitterlocal which shows how Tokyo dominates the Twitter leader board when it comes to city statistics, with a 25% lead over second place New York! No real surprise, as this is what you probably expect from the technology mecca of the world, but why Twitter & not Facebook? Well it comes back to my point earlier, Twitter’s Kanji implementation is good, but equally important, there’s no issue with ease of use, it works simply via SMS or smart phone. So once Twitter takes hold in India and they work out a way for users to register without needing an email address or access to the web, they’ll be no stopping it! Look and learn Facebook!

twitter-local-stats

How many SMS messages will be sent on New Years Eve 2008/9

On New Years Eve 2008, an estimated 43 billion SMS messages where sent globally! Which was up 30% on 2007, but the rise wasn’t evenly spread… Portugal tripled and The Netherlands doubled. Developing nations are by far the fastest expanding mobile markets, India’s 220 million mobile subscribers sent over a billion, a 300% rise on daily norms, but the Phllippines outshone everyone, with 1.4 billion SMS’s from a subscriber base of only 50 million!

When it comes to SMS messaging the USA ranks very low, when mobile users were asked whether they have or would send a “Happy New Year” text message, all countries except the USA showed an increase:
U.S.A. 35%; France 85%; Germany 88%; Spain 90%; Italy 92%

For an example of how amazing all this electronic communication can look, have a look at this gorgeous visualisation of the SMS messages sent on New Years Eve in Amsterdam

By Aaron Koblin (check out his site there’s some cool stuff on there!)
and his vimeo page

As our time has become very precious and much more of a commodity to be valued, more & more of us are moving away from paper based communication during the festive season, brevity is king, but even voice calls only showed a moderate increase (guess they take too long and you can only speak to one person at  a time), electronic communication via email, SMS & the likes of Twitter have increased dramatically, so it will be interesting to see how the mobile networks & Twitter cope in the next few hours… I hope Twitter have their fail whale primed and ready to go : )

So just in case I thought I’d get in early and wish you all a fantastic 2009!

Stephen Fry on Twitter

stephen-fry-twitterI happened to drop by Stephen Fry’s Twitter stream last night and it really made me chuckle, I could just imagine him sitting there cursing the damned Sony Vaio in front of him. I understand his contempt for the thing, I keep well away from the things (I’ve probably only racked up around 10hrs of my life trying to use Windows and on each occasion I’ve been pulling my hair out or cursing through gritted teeth!)

Anyway, I captured the screen so you can see what I’m on about (click it to view larger)
Do we expect Sony Vaio sales to now drop?

Got Something to Say?

I got your press release, 
I wouldn’t change a single word… 
and that single word is on page 5!

Ouch! but in today’s fast paced attention grabbing media frenzy, you really have to get to the point in seconds or your reader is gone, there’s too many choices, yet too little time. Sticking your press release on your website hoping your audience will drop by & pick it up, is a waste of your time, as they won’t be dropping by, they’ll be reading what someone else has sent them directly. Plus writing a book every time is wasting their time, if they actually bother to read it that is!

Brevity is the way ahead, if the gist of your release doesn’t fit within the header of an RSS feed, you’ll get skipped over. Twitter limits you to 140 characters, but if that’s where your audience is then that’s what they want. The mobile platform is happening right now, if you’re not on it, you’re not being read.

So sending out press releases the old way isn’t cutting it anymore, you have to be pro-active to survive, you need to be opening up dialogue, and when someone does contact you, you need to respond to them directly.  You need to focus on producing something they’ll want to discuss with others, and build a platform so they can!

Can Stephen Fry kill a gadget?

For one answer click this link to the BBC dot.life article by Rory Cellan-Jones

It’s a good question to ask and anyone in a marketing or branding department should take note, as it’s not just gadgets that can be made or broken in this way, but services, reputations or even your brand!

There’s been a lot of press about the Obama Campaign utilising web 2.0 in the run up to the election, although it will be interesting to see if they continue to use Twitter & the likes as much after the campaign, odd’s on they don’t, but that’s a another conversation!

Social networks & web 2.0 services such as Twitter make the individual very powerful, and it doesn’t take long for an opinion or rumour to ripple out across a network, as per the Korean proverb “Whether it be a grain of sand or a rock, in water they both sink alike.” So size doesn’t matter as much anymore, what matters now is who’s talking & more crucially who’s listening. It’s important that businesses listen in on what is being said, plus essential they are actively in there themselves. Blanket marketing & advertising doesn’t work as effectively as it used to, we all place a recommendation from a colleague far higher than an anonymous advert, when the likes of Stephen Fry, whom is held in great esteem & is loved by his fans & followers (I’m one of them), gives an opinion on a product, we listen, because we trust him.

And there in lies the rub people, you have to be trusted, but trust takes time, you have to put in the effort and you have to be open & transparent in your opinions and take a genuine interest in what people are saying. You can’t fake it, Stephen Fry is no fake, he’s honest & open, plus he’s probably mortified that he has the power to make or break a gadget, but as “with great power comes great responsibility”, and I for one would trust Mr Fry with this power.

Here’s a link to Stephen Fry

How’s My Driveling?

Blogs are great, everyone should have one, certainly every company, but most of all they hsould be using it… but blogs have a serious drawback, they’re reactive, not proactive, your user has to come to you for updates. Which unless you have something worthwhile reading, they won’t bother doing. But just in case you do say something worth listening to from time to time, they link to you via RSS, just in case. And that my friends is the really important part to make note of. Blogs in general are too wordy, internet users are scanners, they don’t have time to read all the blogs out there, let alone read your long winded blog, so many choices, so little time, there’s a lot of noise to sift through.

So in steps twitter, messages that are only 140 characters in length total. May seem pointless at first, but think about what I’ve just outlined above, the messages are short, to the point and it’s proactive, your visitors link to you, they receive every tweet you send out. If all you’re doing is saying, “making my self a nice cup of coffee” or “off to the gym to pump those weights” then people will eventually stop following you around, you’re just adding to the noise & they already have a lot of that in their busy lives. Say something worth listening to and they’re continue to follow, keep it short and they’re actually read it!

Networking or Not Working

In today’s 24/7 wired world of social networks, web 2.0 & mobile platforms, if you’re business is not networking then you’re not working!

Do you have a group or page on a social network such as Facebook?
Do you have a Twitter account?
Do you have a Blog?
Do you have a YouTube Channel?
Do you have an account on Get Satisfaction?
Do you run a Forum?
Do you have a mobile strategy?

Answer no to any or all of the above, then ask yourself why not? If you say it’s because you can’t afford the time or the resources, then find the time & the resources, as the cost to your business of not utilising these platforms will outweight your investment of time.

Answer yes to any of the above, great stuff… answer yes to all of them, that’s amazing! But remember simply registering in these places won’t mean anything if you’re not participating & engaging your audience on a one to one basis, plus it’s not just about getting large numbers. Having 5,000 people in your Facebook group won’t mean a thing if you’re not having direct two way communication with them.

It’s easier now more than ever for you to open dialogue & interface with your audience directly, but it’s also easier than ever for your audience to talk about you to others, you need to ensure what they’re saying showers you in a positive light. If you ignore the conversations going on, soon you won’t be in them anymore, as your audience will be talking about, and to, your competitors, and it will be very difficult to get them back!

You Don’t Know Jack!

fakebook

The bigger they are, the harder they fall… plus they’re likely to move a lot slower too
Large name brands face a dilemma, the bigger they become the harder it is to protect their brands, gone is the time when they simply bought every URL iteration of their name to protect themselves online. With the advent of Web 2.0 & social networking, intrinsically built around two way communication, a whole new range of problems has opened up for the “brand police”, plus, with the speed of their development, they’re having a hard time keeping up… so how do they protect their brands?

ExxonMobil had a rude awaking recently when a new profile named Janet identified herself as ExxonMobilCorp on Twitter. Janet proceeded to discuss the corporate affairs of ExxonMobil and had a following of over 300 users. Often Brand-Jacking is carried out by someone with monetary gain in mind or with a grudge against the brand they’re jacking. Thankfully for ExxonMobil, Janet appeared to be a loyal employee, trying to represent them as best she could, or was she? Her identity & goal is still unknown at present, if she was an employee trying her best, then ExxonMobil were lucky, but if she were someone that was subtly giving misinformation about ExxonMobil and it’s policies then the Brand-Jacking may have had a far more damaging effect had it gone unnoticed.

Another case to hit the headlines recently was when artist Nadia Piesner created an image of a starving child holding a small dog in one hand with an Louis Vuitton bag hung over the other. This was her take on how the media glorifies the likes of Paris Hilton with massive coverage & air time, while the starving of Darfur hardly get a mention. LV were not best pleased, they immediately sent a Cease & Desist letter to the artist, to which she returned a letter stating, that this would be a violation of her right to free speech & her artwork was not a direct attack on LV or infringed their identity, to which LV returned a lawsuit claiming $20,000 a day damages. Whether LV’s course of action was correct or not is up for debate, but this case highlights the seriousness of brand-jacking and it’s impact on the business.

Another form of Brand-Jacking is linked with “phishing”, were the user is duped into thinking the message or communication is official. Spam is an obvious method, but more & more social networks are becoming targets. As explained in this Wired posting, Facebook users were duped into entering their details into a fake website. OK you think, so they can see my photos and my friends photos, no biggie, but as the post highlights, many users use the same log in & passwords for social networking sites as they do to access their bank accounts. Those that use different log in details shouldn’t be complacent though, as once the hackers compromise the facebook account, they can install Trojan Horses that track key strokes and thus bank & credit card details.

So Brand-Jacking doesn’t just steal the identity of the company & it’s brand, it can steal our identities too.

UPDATE: 9 Dec 2008
A new phishing virus named Koobface has been playing havoc on Facebook, more details here.

For further information:
Save Darfur Campaign

Brand Protection:
MarkMonitor
Net Enforcers

Brand Intelligence