Tuesday, July 28, 2009

My responses to private twitter DMs go public

I got a series of texts yesterday from a number I didn't recognise but a name I did.
So I responded. And among my responses I included my gmail address.

It was at this point colleagues started asking why I was posting such odd tweets. "Sure". Was one.

Friends then started sending me direct messages asking if I realised I was tweeting my email address.
These too arrived as text messages.

It was then the penny dropped.

The texts contained private DMs to me. When I replied to the text it created and published a tweet open for all to see.


Luckily I'm open with my gmail address (it is shown at the top of this blog) but what if I'd texted something in response I had planned to keep private? The mind boggles.

I had received no warning that any condition on my account, re alerts, had changed. Zip.

When I checked on Twitter the relevant devices page said only Vodafone customers got text alerts (a UK speciality).

News stories I was subsequently pointed at suggested the O2 text/Twitter plan wasn't meant to start until August.

Wrong, wrong and wrong.

O2 and Twitter; I await your response with my trust in you somewhat compromised in the mean time.

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Monday, July 27, 2009

Everything you ever wanted to know about social media but were afraid to ask...

I'm running a seminar 'Everything you ever wanted to know about social media but were afraid to ask' in my home town, Huntingdon, Cambs on October 2, 2009.
If you know someone who may benefit; please pass it on.
You can book a ticket below.

Here's the blurb:
Social media unlocks new efficiencies for every form of business and organisation, from new product development to new forms of marketing.
And with 50% of people's time spent with media now spent participating in social media - from text to Twitter and email to Facebook, no business can afford to ignore its impact.
This short seminar is designed to fit in the lives of busy people and provide a rapid and clear explanation of what social media is and how its arrival and widespread use is creating powerful new disruptive forces your organisation can choose to be part of and benefit from.
Led by David Cushman, blogger, author of The Power of the Network, 20-year media veteran, Director of Social Media at London-based social media agency Brando Social, and independant consultant, the seminar will equip you to act and includes ample time for Q&A to help you towards specific solutions for your needs.
David is widely respected for his thinking on social media and in demand to speak about the impact of social media at conferences across the world, from New York to San Francisco and Cork to Cannes.
To attend those kinds of conferences you'd usually have to travel and expect to pay hundreds, sometimes thousands of pounds for a ticket.
This then is a rare opportunity to learn from a global authority in your own backyard and at a low cost - and all delivered in one short morning.
David Cushman has worked with and advised organisations including media companies emap/Bauer Media, advertising agencies Grey (London) and RIOT/180 (Amsterdam) MCBD and Digitas, start-ups including ThirdeyeT, retail organisations including Anglia Regional Co-op, brands such as Honda, Sony-Ericsson, and Gatwick Airport and governmental organisations including CWDC and the UKBA.
He is a Trustee of national charity CitizensOnline.org

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Thursday, July 23, 2009

Where did those 5000 people come from?

Somewhat surprised to find the follower number on my twitter account has leaped by around 5000 over night.
I asked around to see if it's a general 'glitch'. Those who responded, reported no big leap for themselves.
And there isn't a huge dump of notification emails in my inbox.
So, I'm a little confused. Has to be a glitch doesn't it?
Anyone seen the same?
In the mean time, a screen-shot just to prove it did actually happen... (count was on 2600ish last night...)

UPDATE NOON: Normal service resumed, the 5000 odd have disappeared just as rapidly as they appeared.

While I'm on: The 'other' big over-night news, for me, was Amazon acquiring Zappos. Congrats Tony @Zappos
Open as ever, Tony has shared the letter he sent to all employees about the news.
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Wednesday, July 22, 2009

You're twice as likely to learn new stuff on Twitter

Via Silicon Valley insider comes this marvellous chart which reveals people do more sharing of links via Facebook than they do via email. Just ignore the headline on the graph.

What's particularly interesting to me is the volume generated by Twitter - which has approximately (and likely less than) one fifth as many active users as Facebook right now (roughly 45m to roughly 250m).

Which means the adhoc fuzzy-edged communities of purpose who populate twitter are around twice as likely to share as those of us (often the same people) restrained by the private-data-heavy silos of friends on Facebook. Nutshell: You're potentially twice as likely to learn something new on Twitter as you are on Facebook.

Open beats closed when it comes to learning and sharing new stuff. Case, ah hem, closed.

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Tuesday, July 21, 2009

Euan tells his own story

The people at Guruonline.com have interviewed Euan Semple (who I'm pleased to say I've worked with in the past and will be happy to work with in the future).

Watch the clips here.

He answers in his own laid back,clear, jargon-free, very human way:
  • Why should businesses get involved with social media?
  • How should businesses get involved with social media?
  • What common elements are there to social media?
  • How practical is social media to business?
  • How does social media effect business culture?
  • What attributes in business make people more likely to succeed with social media?
  • How do I justify social media in terms of ROI?
  • What difference does social media make to business effectiveness?
  • What are the changing expectations of staff regarding social media?
  • How do I get the right mix of tools to help people be productive?
  • Does social media work for everybody?
  • What are the perceived risks to using social media?
  • Is social media just a passing fad?
  • How are the tools changing the marketing message?
  • How do I start on the social media journey?
Shame I can't embed any of the videos to share here...

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Monday, July 20, 2009

Open (White)house

As we tucked into fish and chips on the beach in Aldeburgh, Suffolk, UK, a good friend of mine told me excitedly about what had recently happened to his 11-year-old niece. We'll call her Bea.

His sister had moved to the US more than a decade earlier. Which is why, like thousands of other American school children, Bea had received a letter from the President of the United States; Barack Obama. (image courtesy)

That letter included what may have been construed as a bit of a throwaway line: Something to the effect of 'if you're ever in Washington, do drop by to say Hi at the Whitehouse'.

Well Bea's mum and dad thought they'd chance their arm. They don't live sooo far from DC.

And they rocked up at The Whitehouse, handed over the letter and were ushered into a room. Just them. Not a crowd. No appointment. No allotted time.

And after a few minutes?

Barack Obama strode into the room. Chatted, relaxed and unhurried.

Signed autographs. Had his picture taken with Bea (steadfastly NOT with parents, this was all about Bea) and eventually, with no sign of rush, left them in a puff of awe.



Oh yes. And, I'd hazard a guess, life changing too.

You see my first (self-obsessed?) reaction was to think 'I got invited to No10. Twice. Once by Blair. Second time by Brown.

But the invites weren't random with the seeming generosity of spirit of Obama's.

No, my invitations came because of who I was and the mass media influence-from-the-centre I apparently had at my disposal as a member of the British Society of Magazine Editors.

A broadcast approach to meet-the-people.

Obama's open door policy is different - but arguably more effective in a networked world.

Rather than heap privilege on yet another journalist or broadcaster, Obama has time in his diary to connect with people, any people.

In a networked world, in most parts of the US at least, all nodes are pretty much connected with all nodes. All people with all people.

Obama meets Bea: Not to win her vote (she'll only be 16 the only time he'd need it) but to win the votes of those their meeting will influence.

The Obama/Bea summit becomes a huge social object in Bea's life, and therefore in the lives of all those around her.

Bea will update Facebook (etc), she will share her story where-ever life takes her. Her parents will tell everyone they know and love.

Blown away by their enthusiasm for the story, their friends and family will tell their friends and family.

Some of them will share online, some offline. But share and share they will.
This story has already travelled from Washington to a beach on the easy coast of England.

From DC to DC :-)

And now it has reached you. I hope it still has value for you. The kind you'll want to pass on.

Imagine instead Obama had spent the same amount of time with yet another grumpy journalist. He'd have got some column inches. He'd have had his thoughts edited, packaged, span. And there wouldn't have been a lot of love going round.

No lives would have been changed.

This story puts me in the room with Obama in a way no media interview can touch.

Of course, the old guard will say Obama is wasting his time with 11-year-olds while the NYT is on hold.

But Obama knows, in a networked world, winning one heart beats stealing a million eyeballs.

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Thursday, July 16, 2009

Overheard: Everything

Listening always beats asking. Asking questions demands and shapes response.

And people, good, kind, back-scratching people, will often tell you what you want to hear.

Taken to extremes you get your LinkedIn recommendations. (Compare that to what your colleagues may say if you're out of the room...)

Less dramatically, ask people and you guide their thoughts.

Market Research companies are painfully aware of this skew. No question is entirely without motive. None comes without an agenda - an agenda proposed by the questioner.

But listening, passive listening, can teach you much.

Wise orgs and brands are doing more of this. It's often a bit of a revelation for them that they can do it relatively easily online.

But anything I publish on any open forum, blog, tweet, is recorded, is searchable, is discoverable. As is anything you say. Or your friends. And their friends ad infinitum.

Right now and for the mid-term (I'm assuming) we feel what we hear is pure, unsullied, honest, unskewed people saying what they really mean to their peers. With caveats around axe grinders and power relationships, of course.

But could it be we will begin to change what we say on the assumption that brands are listening? Will it lead to a layer of artifice?

I guess it's a little like CCTV surveillance. Britains 'know' they are the most filmed people on Earth. The emergence of hoodie culture - hiding your face from the prying eyes - is the most visible change to behaviour.

For the most part we act as if the cameras aren't there. (image courtesy)

But perhaps this is because the implications haven't sunk in yet?

And with the notion that brands and orgs can pick up on our every digital utterance still very new, who knows how this fact will end up modifying our online behaviour as we become more familiar with it.

Will we update our notions of privacy and private space as we embrace the digital?

Will we find greater value in expressing ourselves freely because that expression can connect us with others trying to solve the same problems we are (communities of purpose)?

Or will silos around our private lives remain strictly maintained?

Will we feel the need for them in a world in which you can be overheard by anyone else.

And what happens when those doing the surveillance speak back - in real time. I recall the experiment in which CCTV operators added a speaker to their cameras and started berating people they spotted dropping litter. Out loud and in public. That shocked.

So if a representative of a brand responds to your complaint in real time on Twitter (for example) are you shocked? Angered? Or pleased?

I'm guessing pleased? You aren't being told off. You are being helped at just the point at which you expressed the need for help.

Generally we are so starved of human contact with large orgs that we're left beaming by an encounter that takes us beyond the corporate artifice to the humans inside.

Does knowing they are there (lurking/ready to help depending on your pov) make a difference? Do we change if they start openly responding?

Are we thinking outloud to impress the infinite unknown audience?

What I publish is not only shared right now with those who directly choose to receive it, it is here for all time, for all people. Ever.

Dr Mike Wesch talks about the moment of context collapse we face when staring into a webcam to share on the web - that we know not to whom we are speaking.

The same must be true of any kind of utterance which can for ever be discoverable.

When you realise just how long and loud your voice may echo through the ages does it make you want to shout a little louder. Or clam up?

The dilemma is one that has always faced publishers. We're all publishers now - with greater reach than ever before - it faces us all.

It has the potential to change the meaning and value of everything we share online.
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Tuesday, July 14, 2009

Care less what the 15 year old intern does: Ask what his mum is doing.

I've really enjoyed the righteous abandon with which some sections of the traditional media have crowed about one 15-year-olds insight that his friends don't use Twitter.

Among the other details of his note for Morgen Stanley are that online advertising is 'pointless' (I'm pretty sure he means interruptive traditional style advertising of the kind that sustains traditional media) and that no kids are reading newspapers.

That teenagers aren't using Twitter (much) comes as no surprise to anyone whose been watching the regular stats that role out of Nielsen, Comscore and the like. That it took an 'intern' to tell Morgen Stanley is perhaps the greater surprise - but that's by the by.

What is of more concern to me is the considerable amount of barking going on up wrong trees around this.

First, why does it take one intern's paper to get media owners jumping up and down? Kids are available to speak to every day of the week everywhere. Take them seriously and they will speak to you. Ask Ruby Pseudo. Same message goes to Morgen Stanley. Publishing the bleeding obvious as 'insight' doesn't do you many favours.

Second. Please, please, please don't think that the behaviour (particularly what they say they do compared with what they actually do) of teenagers is an indicator for how the world is changing and a guide to how you should respond.

As Clay Shirky put it if you want to know what technologies will succeed don't ask what teenage boys are doing - ask what their mums are doing.

Mums are busy. And if the tech doesn't make a material difference to their lives they don't use it.
How many mums are on Facebook, how many on Twitter? How many using email? Text?

You can be sure there are many. They are organising their lives and the things they care about with these tools.

They are showing these tools matter for very many, now. Enough to change the world? Not yet. When we stop using terms like social media and just get on with organising ourselves - then we'll know the world has changed because enough of us find it everyday ordinary enough.

Follow the teenage boys if you wish - I'll be watching the mums.
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Monday, July 13, 2009

Who needs a fourth plinth when we have the internet?

The fourth plinth project on London's Trafalgar Square offers everyone (well, one an hour for 100 days) the chance to occupy the empty plinth and express themselves to the world.

You have to wonder where those who came up with the idea have been these last 20 years.

The Internet is the fourth plinth. The place where anyone (with none of the physical one-at-time restrictions of the plinth) can express as much of their meta data as they wish for as long as they wish.

And they can connect with other people - not just broadcast at them.

The 4th plinth seems little more than the X Factor outdoors.

If they must have a statue, make it of Sir Tim Berners-Lee. But better still, just make it a free Internet connection available 24/7.

Hat-tip to Ivan Pope.
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Thursday, July 09, 2009

Work with me at Brando Social?

If you like the look of the place where I work (BrandoSocial.com) you might like to know we have another vacancy.

Thanks to an ever-expanding client base we now need a senior account manager to start well, you know, pretty much soon as :-)

We're based minutes from the tube in Camden Town, London, and are really quite nice people.

If you're interested drop me an email, attach all the relevant experience/cv type stuff and off we go.

Wednesday, July 08, 2009

Brands are failing the social media response test

Neil Perkin has just announced his short-list for post of the month and among them is my little project to test the social media response times of a handful of leading brands.

You may recall we set them a little test in the post What Does It Take To Get Some Service Around Here?
Would be wonderful if you popped over to see the other posts Neil has assembled on that short list.

Of course it would be very cool of you if you happened to vote for What Does It Take To Get Some Service Round Here? while you are there, but I'd recommend a visit in any event - because Neil's assembled a whole heap of blogging wonderfulness to dine on. Tuck in.

By way of an update; Qik won the race to be fastest re social media response. Ford was our honourable runner-up and taking the third place on the podium... well, we're still waiting.

It appears that in social media, the majority of brands, at least, can't hear you scream.

Shame for them that everyone else can....

(image courtesy)

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Tuesday, July 07, 2009

Social media by the numbers

FasterFuture nestles at number 33 in the latest top 116(?) of UK Marketing Blogs as derived from the Adage Power 150

So yaboo sucks for me? Nah, seriously, this is a very literal example of being made greater by the sum of my connections (the more of you who visit, link here, follow me, talk to me... the higher we rise) so are my connections.

And while speaking of charts (terrible link...) here's Mark Earls on what the death of Michael Jackson tells us about ourselves (in the Spectator).

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Monday, July 06, 2009

Welcome to the Futerati

Gerd LeonhardImage via Wikipedia

I'm liking Gerd Leonhard's Futerati initiative. Inspired by the value he feels he gets from shared wisdom; he's aggregated all his favourite twitter people and their posts (which you can then sort into types such as 'thought leader', 'author', 'activist', 'startups' and 'other').

Delighted to find myself under 'other'. That's about the most apt tag I've seen for me really... a kind of 'bits of all of the above'. As Dave Weinberger put it: "Everything is Miscellaneous"

Here's Gerd explaining why he's done it - and benefiting right away from the 'we are what we share, we are found via what we share' mantra.

Yep - totally agree. Our ever broader expression of metadata brings us together with ever more people we didn't know we needed to know.

Or as Stowe Bowd puts it "I am made greater than the sum of my connections, so are my connections".
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Opening up the enterprise - powered by purpose

Here's a monumental post from change management consultant Si Alhir synthesising many great and powerful concepts including Seth's Tribes and my own Communities of Purpose, among others.

The Purposeful Enterprise also includes links to a great deal of valuable background reading.
The diagram here gives you a taste. It's from si's original post. Click to enlarge it.

Worth a read for anyone contemplating the role, form and function of organisations in the networked world.
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Thursday, July 02, 2009

What if everyone on twitter followed everyone on twitter?

Image representing Twitter as depicted in Crun...Image via CrunchBase
Having lots of followers on Twitter is a good thing. No really, it is. Don't knock it. I won't say no to more (but please don't assume that means I'd like regular spamming from those who promise they can find me 100, 1000 new followers a day... I'll stick to the organic and relevant, thanks...)

Managing real time relevance is the only issue: how do I find what matters to me, right now, among the deluge of human thought.

Imagine if everyone on Twitter followed everyone on Twitter (except for the spammers, obviously). That's around 40m people following everyone else. The number of peer-to-peer connections are calculator boggling.

Apart from giving @ev and @biz heart attacks, the result would be a very close match with the real-
time expression of meta data required to bring together communities of purpose on a global almost-out-of-the-silo; people who care enough about an issue and are available right now to collaborate to do something about it.

If all you do is read your own tweet stream this will prove difficult. Picking the relevant out of a 40m strong stream would be all but impossible.

But that's where improving Twitter search comes in.

The follow mechanism is a great way of lassooing a pool of people who are very likely to share your any- given-purpose. And through open conversation, this group is always fuzzy edged. In this way Twitter helps us find people we didn't know we needed to know.

But our focus on the followed/follower means we may miss out on the bigger win.

It is perfectly possible to go looking across the whole of Twitter for people sharing your purpose right now. That's search and automated alerts.

But how many of us are ready to try this in reverse? To understand that each tweet is to everyone and a can be a call for people like you to come together with them, to act?

That requires us to actively use search to search for people calling out for people like us to help them on something we collectively care about.

That's a search engine with some new and heavily human (and likely semantic) fields; such as -
  • is like me; 
  • is trustworthy;
  • is helpful; 
  • collaborates well 
  • etc
Currently the followed/follower mechanism is our best human-powered version of just such a search engine. I'm sure it and our other recorded social interactions could and should be included in that future engine.

But what I'm also fairly sure about is that the followers/following model is not robust enough and can't, alone, scale to deliver the real time connections we need to access the greatest value enabled by global, real time communities of purpose.

Can it connect me with anyone anywhere who, like me, wants to solve problem x right now?

That's where our future lies.

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The rate of change is so rapid it's difficult for one person to keep up to speed. Let's pool our thoughts, share our reactions and, who knows, even reach some shared conclusions worth arriving at?