the grass is greener on the internet

Foursquare Moresquare
June 9, 2010, 10:48 pm
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It started off with a few tweets on my Twitter feed. Then a few more.

And suddenly, Foursquare was being predicted as not just the Next Big Thing, but THE Big Thing for social media. Also know as, The Application That Will Actually Make Money.*

Interestingly – and I could be wrong about this – foursquare seems to be the one social media tool which has taken off with a wider age base and NOT the Gen Y crowd.** If I asked a dozen of my friends, ‘are you on foursquare?’ they’d look at me:
a) like I’m crazy
b) and ask me why you’d want to share that kind of information with strangers in the first place.
But now that they’ve signed with MTV (what??) and they’ve made it into the news across the world, it looks like this is one app I can no longer avoid.
And so we come to this…

…the elusive superswarm badge.

Now, I’m told you can get one of these by having 50 people or more ‘check-in’ to a place at once. As you may know, on June 2 Ogilvy Melbourne decided to go for the world record for the number of check-ins at their office – unsuccessful, but still the first Australian location to get the yellow jersey badge.

Well, somebody at Ogilvy loves foursquare, because they’re using it to bring the blogger reward meet-up to the next level.

As part of the launch for Microsoft Office 2010 they’re getting Sydney foursquare mayors to check-in to Martin Place for the chance to win software, get some free food and do some networking.

For those playing at home, a foursquare mayor is the person with the most check-ins for a location. They get a badge too:

It looks something like this. Not embroidered of course, but the fact that you can now buy these babies is a scary concept.

The foursquare mayor concept is an interesting one in itself, encouraging more check-ins and allowing venues to see who their most loyal tech-savvy customers are. But the fact that Microsoft is specifically targeting mayors – is this a way of trying to separate the influencers from the rest of the pack?

[I wonder if any of this came out of the Microsoft Protegé competition?]

Well, if you’re in Sydney and you want to meet some other foursquarers (or is there a cooler term I’m not aware of?) here’s the details:

You only need to be one of the first 111 foursquare mayors to check-in to be in the running for free software, and the t-shirts are free game for everyone, so why not?

Now to get me a foursquare account…

* Their growth at least seems more credible than Twitter’s, as there’s less potential for robots called Britney1691 who are lonely tonight.

** Although Twitter has also seen limited success among Gen Ys I’ve talked to, it has a much higher awareness rate.


Tinyurl and Twitter take down Technorati
June 23, 2009, 3:32 pm
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Technorati used to rule the blogging world. And you’ve probably already heard the claims that since they started allowing commercial sites  – such as the Huffington Post – to register there’s been a stalemate for the top rankings. Whatever.

No, the worst problem for Technorati is that its Blog Authority figures just don’t measure what counts anymore.

It’s nice in theory. Just like academics get to compare who gets cited the most in which journal and by who, the Blog Authority figure counts how many other blogs have linked to a blog in the last 180 days. Multiple links from the same source don’t count.

Let’s leave aside the peer review debate of whether popularity equals authority (or controversiality – I had a lecturer who is the second most cited person in Australia because he wrote a paper saying corruption could be good). And let’s acknowledge off the bat that no measurement is ever going to be perfect.

But with the rise of Twitter, and link-shortening services like Tinyurl, a lot of link-sharing and referencing is going un-counted.

Retweet counters have emerged in the way that only open source can provide: haphazardly, with several services vying for attention and none yet to become the leader. However, Technorati (and Google PageRank, I suspect) are yet to take Tweets into account. It’s also harder to track Tinyurl links – is the only major URL shortener that shows up on my WordPress referral links.

The argument for the academically minded is that Twitter links don’t count for the same reason links from your networking profiles don’t count – you could put as many links as you like up. But this is also a forum where a lot of link sharing is going on. There HAS to be a way to catch those links.

And as I realised last week, Facebook is by far the best place for promoting blog posts, and more ‘referencing’ is occurring on there which is not being caught on Technorati or Google either [nicely summed up by Copyblogger]. Could Facebook aggregate the most-linked sites without compromising privacy?

Although, FINALLY… Google can index Flash content. Great news for brands with flashy websites.

The point is, rankings based on on blog-to-blog links are going to slip in relevancy as microblogging increases in popularity. It’s like judging an academic by how many citations they have in journals and ignoring their conference papers.

Super Models or Social Media
June 8, 2009, 7:18 pm
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…or both?


Look carefully, boys. These girls don’t just want to be the next supermodels, they’re also your next ‘social media experts’.

When I received an invite to the launch party for SUPERMODELME I was about to dismiss it as another Singaporean fashion event I couldn’t go to, but it turns out this is no ordinary reality TV show.

Sure, it’s another cliche concept; put 10 hot girls together in a house with the shared dream of being a supermodel and watch the inevitable catfights and gratuitous fashion shoots. But here’s what’s different…

For one thing, it’s not on TV. The show will air online twice a week (starting June 16), with a constant interactive platform for viewers to talk to contestants and each other. Each of the models already has a Youtube video and a Twitter account, with rumours that the girls will be compared on how many followers they can attract. I think my vote goes with @fiona_smm – she seems to be ruling Twitter tactics so far.

++ no fights with broadcasting producers or competing for prime spots

++ the best models need to be good at interacting with people and doing promotions

** just waiting for them to figure out twitpic and photoblogging…

The much-hyped development is the use of ‘Hyperspot’, which will allow viewers to click on the videos to find out everything from who did the models’ hair to the price of their shoes.

+- another nail in the coffin for TV advertising?

++ extra value for advertisers in finding out the products with the most clicks as well as resulting sales (it’s like having pay per view AND pay per click!)

Of course, another bonus is that an online show is accessible to everyone, and with contestants coming from across the world it looks like they’re hoping to pick up a global audience. The winner is touted to become Asia’s ‘next hottest face’ and with Singapore being a popular testing ground for models it wouldn’t be surprising to see them go beyond that.

It also goes without saying that they’re on Facebook and Twitter.

Combine this withVIP access levels on their website and exclusive parties (which will most likely be covered online shortly after) and you have a very luxe, slick social media model.

Then again, this isn’t the first super-concept by Refinery Media‘s Karen Seah…another of her brainchilds (brainchildren??) supperclub ‘Trybe’ at Mimolette uses Facebook groups to determine their guestlist. The catch? It’s secret, and you can only get an invite once you have friended their doorbitch account.

++ why refuse people at the door when you can check out their fb profile first?

SUPERMODELME might just fill the hole in my procrastination left by the Gossip Girl break.

— hello failing exams…

How far will Twitter go?
April 15, 2009, 8:49 pm
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With enough media mentions to make Apple jealous, social networking’s belle of the ball Twitter has been recruiting new users left and right who want to know, what makes Twitter so different?

That same question is still being asked by existing users in the hope that it’ll help them figure out what the next big thing in social networking will be.

But social networking ain’t just social networking. There’s different types of interaction…

Facebook, Messenger programs – they’re like having a party with your friends in a pub. Though you get a few friends of friends and the occasional random seeking attention, by and large you can keep things to just the people you know.

LinkedIn, chat rooms, message boards – they’re like a networking event. A few familiar faces but mostly you’re there to meet people who are interested in the same things as you.

But Twitter…Twitter is the equivalent of busking. There’s a lot of strangers going past; some will stop, others will just walk on by.

The thing is, you keep talking no matter how many people are listening. Except Twitter has given you the ability to listen to a lot of buskers at the same time. Everyone becomes a busker. There’s a race to get the most people watching. But what really matters at the end of the day is how many you’ve influenced enough to give you mone– I mean, attention.

[Attention, money; they become comparable in this case because everyone’s got limited amounts, some are more willing or able to give them than others.]

Can we use this to predict what the next form of socialising will be? No. If it were that logical, it would probably be out there by now – and if I had the answer I wouldn’t be telling you. 😛

But it DOES tell us a few things about how long Twitter will last.

You stay at a party longer because the people you know are there. You stay at a networking event because you’ve met interesting people or want to meet more. But a busker will stay for the money, the adoring eyes and the opportunity to make friends with a couple of people after the show.

For those not following the metaphor – retention for Twitter will most likely only require keeping a tipping point in the number of total users as opposed to having a tipping point within every user interest group or clique. That means, once users have an established crowd they’re likely to stay. Conversely, it also means there’s less pressure for them to stay if they have a smaller crowd because they’re not losing contact with friends.

On a side note, the beginnings of relationships that are built on Twitter need to go into another medium before they start to mean anything. Maybe that’s something for the next social networking site to consider…

If Twitter were a Tabloid
April 9, 2009, 7:50 pm
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If Twitter were a tabloid…this is what it might look like 😀


Nothing like a healthy dose of self-deprecation.

Dictating conversations, it’s stupid.
January 29, 2009, 10:03 am
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“You wouldn’t tell someone how to eat.

You wouldn’t tell someone how to breathe.

You wouldn’t tell someone how to walk.

You wouldn’t tell someone how to have a conversation.

Dictating how we should converse is something we already know.

Telling us something we already know pretty pointless.

Dictating conversations. It’s stupid.”

I’m sick of ‘How to/not to Twitter’ lists.

Some of the lists I’ve seen are helpful – they’re about stimulating conversation and making sure you are making conversation, not spam.

But they’re starting to get out of hand.

Marketers latch on to a topic or technique and then get so into it that we can lose perspective.

Twitter is a platform for people to talk. It started with, ‘What are you doing?’ – so why are these lists now telling me I shouldn’t write about that at all?

No, they say, instead you should be linking and RT-ing and #-tagging and giving people stuff when they follow you.

And if you don’t Tweet enough (or heaven forbid, dare to talk about what you’re doing) it’s now grounds for an ‘unfollow’.

They’re telling us how to have a conversation. But wait, we already have those skills from real life…shouldn’t we be figuring out how to apply those to social media?

Sometimes it just feels like being back in high school – if you do these things and talk about these topics then we’ll talk to you. You can be part of the crowd or be an outcast.

I know at the moment I’m outside most of the blogging community, and in some ways it’s on purpose. To me the job of a marketer is to know how everyone thinks. Not just marketers. Not just the cool kids. To do that, you need to be interacting with a variety of people every day – which is something I wouldn’t have time for if I wanted to keep up with my RSS feeds.

Maybe if you have more conversations elsewhere you won’t need guidelines for conversations on Twitter.

[EDIT: For anyone interested, my only rules are; don’t follow anyone you’re not interested in, and if you do follow them talk to them every now and then.

I also wrote this just before reading Stan Lee’s post and now realise it looks like I’ve echoed him. Bah. Great minds, et cetera.]

Is a lack of features necessarily bad?
January 16, 2009, 10:20 pm
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There’s been a few complaints about the lack of Twitter’s features.

After all, it’s kinda simple. What are you doing? Say it in 140 characters or less.

Reply with an @. Direct message with a d.

Keep your links short and tweet.

That’s it.

And yet the usage of Twitter has grown rapidly, even warranting an alltop page. The number of unofficial applications has exploded. They do everything from monitor your stats to organising your feeds into channels. Not to mention the humble RT and the hashtag, which have both been used to spread news about causes simply but effectively.

So to the critics of Twitter’s simplicity, I pose this scenario…

Think back to when you first joined Twitter. It was a completely different concept, right? What can you say in 140 characters?

Imagine that they had thrown all of these features at you – hashtags, retweets, pictures, channels, auto-follows… It’s almost enough to put you off the whole idea. And would you still have wanted to create other features or would you just take it like it is?

Like Flickr, the beauty of Twitter is its simplicity.

And it’s perhaps this simplicity which has let other developers think outside its functions, to develop ways to deliver the services they wanted.

Think about it.