more real people on twitter #followfriday

Here’s some more real people that I follow on Twitter:

@jeffsonstein
– teaches IT, supports causes, knows his geekery & I often enjoy interesting chats with him on Twitter

@neerav – blogger, geek, librarian, chocolate lover who’s always got an interesting perspective on things

@mkrigsman – writes about IT project failures, knows lots of stuff about making projects successful & shares ideas readily

@dekrazee1 – car & tech geek, always good for late night chats while she’s catching up on F1

@hollingsworth – lovely chap who’s always up on good food & geekery (indefatigable patron of #nscm)

Can brands control their message using social media?

An email for a conference arrived the other day, and it enticed me with the tag line:

Learning how to leverage Web 2.0 and Social Media sites to market your brand and control your message

This got me wondering can brands really control their message using social media?

One thing I know from experience with social media is that it is like quicksilver, easily slipping around barriers and constraints. The behaviour of people in social computing situations is mercurial and whimsical.  Sudden memes arise, become active and then die off as quickly as they came.

Social computing environments enable highly reactive and emotionally driven behaviour.  For example, often a rumour will circulate, followed by a wave of anger and reaction.  Then as facts filter through a more reasoned response develops.

However, these platforms also enable groups to mobilise quickly to address concerns and to take action on issues that galvanise them. In short, a bunch of people on a social network can sometimes behave just like a mob in real life.

This can work against brands very easily. Two great examples of this are the ‘Cotton On Kids saga‘ and ‘Motrin Moms mess’.

On the hand social media has enabled some true success stories, like Zappos and Comcast.

People who’ve been used to ‘controlling‘ their brands never had much opportunity for direct contact with their customers (apart from behind the glass at the odd focus group).  This seems to have reinforced the illusion that they were really in control of their brands. However, it is questionable if they really had control at any stage. Perhaps the absence of feedback simply provided an illusion of control?

But how can brands get their message out effectively using social media? Paradoxically, it seems that this can be achieved by letting go of attempts to control the brand in relation to social media.

This paradox of relaxation of control is exemplified by Zappos’ CEO Tony Hsieh. By letting go and allowing customers interact with staff the brand was built up to such a degree that it was recently sold to Amazon for mega bucks. But this kind of approach requires a strong and confident CEO and a corporate culture that supports and nurtures the dialogue, openness and interaction.

The problem for brands is that navigating this hyperconnected and networked world requires a paradoxical relaxation of control. And not everyone has nerves strong enough to let go and to let people be free to interact.

some real people on twitter for #followfriday

Here’s some more real people that I follow on Twitter:

@firstdogonmoon
– Mr Onthemoon cartoons at http://www.crikey.com.au & is one of the kindest people I know; IMHO he’s also a comic genius

@Mediamum – start-up entrepreneur, mother of a small tribe, intrepid breastfeeding campaigner, journalist, educator – there is nothing this woman can’t do

@catrionapollard – is an excellent PR person who really gets social & digital, all round nice person too (she’s helped me a lot)

@pamelafox – another one of my geek heroines, she knows a lot of stuff & her mashups for the Victorian bushfires were amazing

@nwjerseyliz – her anthropological explorations of the Twitterverse are fascinating & she’s always good for a late night (for me)/early morning (for her) discussion

A taste for travel: dinner at Universal

Had dinner at Universal restaurant the other night at the instigation of the lovely @frombecca & joined by the ebullient @CarmR and some other friends. 

Dinner was cooked by four of Australia’s most renowned chefs – Christine Manfield (Universal), Frank Camorra (Movida, Melbourne), Kylie Kwong (billy kwong, Sydney), and London-based David Thompson (Nahm).  The food was excellent – fresh produce prepared with style and extreme yumminess.

The wines to accompany the meal were from Cape Mentelle – my favourites were the sauvignon blanc & the zinfandel.

Apart from cooking the chefs shared some stories that had inspired their cooking; while Travel + Leisure’s deputy editor, Sally Webb hosted the evening, proving her skills as a barrel girl.

Will share some pictures soon.  But there will be even more photos of the food over at Becca’s blog Inside Cuisine.

Posted via web from thoughtstream

real people for #followfriday

Here’s some more real people that I follow on Twitter:

@salisburydowns
& @susiecameron – I put these together as they’re partners in crime most of the time, if you’re interested in entertaining your kids or getting them active these tweeps are it

@PeterBlackQUT – lectures in law at QUT, total current affairs & political junky, all round nice guy (relentlessly logical though)

@cameronreilly – one of my fave people, a somewhat rabelaisian expert on Napoleon who gets me thinking

@ozdj – loves his coffee and chocolate, always good for a debate or discussion

@StorySeeker – lovely chap (but hates it when you’re not real) who’s always up for some fun word play

Blog action day 2009: What can one person do? #BAD09

Today is Blog Action Day 2009 & the topic is climate change.

“Climate change affects us all and it threatens more than the environment. It threatens to cause famine, flooding, war, and millions of refugees.

Given the urgency of the issue of climate change and the upcoming international climate negotiations in Copenhagen this December, we think the blogosphere has the unique opportunity to mobilize millions of people around expressing support for finding a sustainable solution to the climate crisis.”

 

blog-action-day-2009-300x250
As a somewhat sceptical individual I’m not bought into the idea of global warming nor of a coming ice age.  But as a rational thinker it seems prudent to be a good steward of the place where we live & which sustains us.

While I do not want us all to return to hunter-gatherer times and eschew modern conveniences, it does seem like a good time to direct our substantial collective intelligence towards find better ways of doing things.

In Australia we are already seeing the effects of climate change.  The recent devastating bushfires in Victoria appear to be a mere harbinger of what is to come.  We can expect to inhabit a much dryer and more fire-prone environment in some parts of the country.  While in other parts of the country we are seeing increasingly bad storms and cyclones.

To me this seems like a very big problem.  But all very big problems seem daunting unless they are chunked up.  This is a great case to apply the old maxim

Think global! Act local!

Here are some simple things some friends & I have done:

http://www.blogactionday.org/

5 sins – social networking for business

kanye-interupts-taylor-zoom-70a71533-889a-49c2-a8a9-4645cf0775c5As a humble member of various social networks including Twitter it never fails to amaze me how lame some businesses are in their approach.

I don’t know what is happening inside the brains of the people behind this behaviour on behalf of companies. But it is like they’ve forgotten what it is like to be a real person.

Here are five sins that I’ve seen businesses commit in social networks:

1) No foreplay

Social networking is precisely that ‘social’, that means it works just like real life.  How many times in real life do you just walk up to someone and say: “Hi I’m X, do you want to buy my product?” without saying “hi”, making some eye contact & introducing yourself?

In real life, apart from outbound telemarketers, we typically shoot the breeze for a while before launching into the hard sell.

2) Not being real & not letting staff be real

One of the reasons that @comcastcares and @zappos have worked on Twitter is that there were real people behind those accounts & they backed it up with consistently having real people there. Some companies forget that the social nature of these networks means that they need to be more transparent and open up to the outside world. It’s time to personalise the experience in the social world. This also means letting your staff be real people too.

3) Not being interesting

Are you interesting? What have you got to offer? Besides your products why would anyone bother interacting with you socially? Many companies seem to assume that their products are fascinating – but let me assure you, apart from a few special brands like Apple, most people don’t give a toss about your product especially in a social context. That means you will need to be interesting on a personal level. Being helpful & friendly can go a long way on this front.

4) Not getting the culture

Each social network has its own culture and mores of behaviour. Woe betide a company that messes with these. Important questions to ask about your social network presence: Are you interesting? What have you got to offer? Does your brand make sense within the social network context? There is nothing worse than being in the wrong place in the wrong outfit – it’s like walking into a biker bar in your best preppie outfit.

5) Lack of consistency

Are you consistently friendly, helpful and real? If not it jars with the human beings that you’re interacting with in a social context.

One thing that characterises all the problems listed above is that they reflect a lack of understanding of the social contract inherent in social network participation. Social networks mean that the traditional marketing context & the social contract that goes with it are absent.

For example, in the traditional marketing context there is social contract – you try to sell stuff to me & I consume your media, potentially taking up your offer. But in social networks the social contract is more like you’ve joined me in my living room. The social contract here is about being sociable and making human-like contact with other people.

The essence of the social web is that it enables humans to be human.  Where in the past we had to conform ourselves to the constraints of the technology and participate within a pure business or marketing context now we are free to be human.  The people in businesses need to reimagine how to interact with customers on a human to human level.

In  a similar vein check out Louis Gray’s post: The Era of the Faceless Giant Corporation Is Over

Review: Flip Mino HD

Flip Mino HDOver the past few weeks I’ve been able to *try out one of the new Flip Mino HD™ digital camcorders. It is the most convenient (literally pocket sized) & high quality video camera I’ve seen. Easy is the key term that comes to mind with this gadget.

Connecting the Flip to a computer is easy with the built in USB – no more losing the cable when it’s time to upload.

On a Mac uploading is very simple, just plug into the USB port & the movies are imported into iMovie with ease. Even on a PC the Flip is easy to use. For PCs the Flip software requests an install first time and connects automatically thereafter. And uploading from either Mac or PC to YouTube is a snap.

Another nifty feature is the ability to save a snapshot from the video stream easily. The snapshots can also be uploaded easily to online sites like Facebook or Flickr. The Flip software also has the cheesy capability to send an e-card with your video embedded (some of you already received your Hannukah card).

It’s not the right gear for lovingly shooting nature and scenery & must admit that there were times when I longed for zoom. But for capturing moments with people – family & friends – it is ideal (check out the #GelatoTUB clips on YouTube). So easy to whip out the Flip and capture a moment & easily share it online with other folks.

Apologies for my novice video skills – but you can check out some of my videos on YouTube to get an idea of what the Flip is like. Iggy Pintado is also doing a series called #RealTweeple using his new Flip Mino™.

Pricing & technical specifications on each model:

Flip Mino HD™ RRP $299.95 AUD
Recording Time: 1 Hour
Memory: 4GB
Screen: 1.5” Transflective
Video Resolution: High Definition, 1280×720
Frame Rate: 30fps Progressive Scan
Video Format: H.264, MP4
Average Bitrate: 9.0Mbps
Battery:Internal Li-Ion Rechargeable
Battery Life: Up to 2 Hours
TV Output: SD Composite Video
Zoom: 2 x Digital

Flip Mino™ RRP $229.95 AUD
Records: 1 Hour
Memory: 2GB
Screen: 1.5” Transflective
Video Resolution: 640×480
Frame Rate: 30fps Progressive Scan
Video Format: MPEG-4 AVI
Average Bitrate: 4.0Mbps (auto-adaptive)
Battery: Internal Li-Ion Rechargeable
Battery Life: Up to 4 Hours of Recording Time
TV Output: SD Composite Video
Zoom: 2 x Digital (interpolated)

* Note – I have to give the Flip back soon as it was a loaner, but it is on my wishlist for real 😉