1000heads: How do you use yours?

We’ve just changed our Twitter background like so:

Why? Well…

We think, when it comes to talking to brands, it’s important to know exactly who you are talking to. Putting a human face to the oft-faceless corporations is something we believe in and, fortunately also specialise in.

Obviously the above method isn’t for everyone – I still have artichokes as my personal background (it’s a long story). But by updating your contact info using this under-used medium is just one way of maximising the impact of your company’s Twitter presence.

If you’re using twitter from a brand perspective, as we are above, how do you use your background?

^JW ๐Ÿ˜‰

Whatley Wednesday at AAS

mobileways.de ยป Gravity - The S60 Twitter ClientWhile the back-room monkeys get The Really Mobile Project fit to wheel out and unveil to the unsuspecting world, our man Whatley guested on friends-of-the-show ‘All About Symbian‘ covering the new S60 Twitter client Gravity.ย  He makes specific criticism of the price (but not the product, which is ‘by far and away the best native S60 application for Twitter currently available’) which caused some hot debate in the comments.

Take a look here.ย  What do you think?

“What Wii did on Sunday…”

First official ‘proper’ post of the new blog site, AHOY!

How to make a Minority Report-esque interface using your Nintendo Wii!
(by yours truly and geekyouup aka Richie Hyndman of Mippin fame)

๐Ÿ™‚

Now, this all happened thanks to the awesome social media world of the internet, how?

Well the thing is, I (along with a few others) like to organise Mario Kart Wii competitions over Twitter.
So far so Nintendo Geek…

But ‘Wadds‘ – aka Stephen Waddington, Managing Director of Rainer PR – spotted this regular occurrence and decided to share that he’d given up playing games on his Wii and how he now is all about creating something like this.

“Wow, cool!”

I took that link, threw it at Richie and he came straight back to me and said:

“Come over Sunday, let’s do it!”

ROCK. ON.

So – Big love to Johnny Chung Lee for showing us the way – and also bonus props to Stephen for giving us some blog love first thing this morning!

Nice work all round,
Cheers.

๐Ÿ™‚

MIR: A tech evangelist’s perspective on the o2/CPW saga

Please note: It must be pointed out for reasons that will soon become clear that the following is my own personal opinion and not necessarily those of my employer, SpinVox.

Hello folks,

If you haven?t read Ben Jennings? excellent post on his view of how to deal with the iPhone debacle, then go and do that now.

This post is related.

How?

…I’ll tell you.

It was with great interest that I read Ben?s three step proposal for dealing with said horrifying iPhone badness. All three steps were interesting but for me, it was step two that really made me sit up and pay attention?

For those of you that missed yesterday’s piece ? here?s the part I?m referring to:
?Step 2: Hire an Evangelist.

Ben writes:
This only needs to be one person. Heck, they could even be a student, as long as they have the right information. Maybe they could run the information page [in step 1] too. This person?s role would be to engage with the customers on the O2 forums. Wouldn?t it be fantastic if CPW had forums too? Are CPW even aware that they are being talked about on O2?s forums just because there is nowhere else for this conversation to take place? The evangelist would be an invaluable tool to act as a barometer of what are the specific hot issues. The evangelist would also make the customers feel like they were being listened to, rather than ignored. They could even Twitter updates to gain that Web 2.0 cool.?

Why am I interested in this?

Well this actually makes up a part of what I do for SpinVox and, hand on heart, I honestly have NO IDEA why other companies/brands, big and small aren?t following suit.

There really is NO EXCUSE for not at least listening to the web to find out what people are saying about you, your products, you level of customer service, your shops… Basically, if anyone out there is saying ANYTHING about you, you can bet your bottom dollar they’re saying it online.

“Well that’s lovely James, well done. But CPW is everso slightly different from SpinVox…” I hear you cry.

Yes… and no.

Admittedly, not every company is like SpinVox and I do not pretend for one second to have a single clue about the inner workings of Carphone Warehouse, however what I do have is a certain amount of knowledge about being a Product Evangelist.

And rule number one? LISTEN!

OK, so it would seem that someone out there at O2/CPW is obviously ?listening? to the web, (or maybe just to Ewan), or else I doubt very much Dan Lane would have his iPhone activated right now, (which he does by the way ? in case you were worried).

But knowing how to engage with your community once the listening period has begun can be a fantastic way to circumnavigate these kinds of troubles and tribulations.

I cannot imagine for a second that someone, somewhere along the line at O2 and/or CPW didn?t put their hand up in THAT meeting and say:

?Err? But what if it all goes wrong??

What IF it all goes wrong? It DID all go wrong!

Fair enough, it?s going to take some balls for someone to say:
?Well it?s alright, we?ve got an Evangelist, it’ll be fine!?

But by having one as part of an over-arching customer service team (aligned with the PR and the Tech Teams) can and will make all the difference. Hell, why not make it part and parcel of the lead up to launch?

At least those savvy enough to know about said person/representative will know they have someone to turn to who isn?t bound by a single ?Failed Security Check? message.

Like Ben says, an evangelist can help the customers feel like they are being listened to rather than be ignored.

Having sales folk in-store? Standard.

What about on the end of your customer service line? Yep. Got that.

Ok, so how about ONLINE?

….Anyone? Hello?!

Having a reputation manager, product evangelist, community manager, customer champion, social media manager or just ANY kind of digital representative that can talk to your customers for you can and WILL make SO MUCH difference to your online reputation!

If CPW had their own forums then they could?ve redirected their complaints to the static info page that Ben laid out in Step 1, (see post referenced at the beginning of this one). If they had their own representatives on those forums then they could feed back live information.

Hell, it doesn?t even to be their forums. They could trawl the o2 ones!

Also, being an evangelist isn?t just about talking up your stuff all over the place (online and off), it?s about being a trusted face and a trusted place. The first port of call not just should anything go wrong, but also for potential customers, partners or even just for those who are looking for information about you.

(A recent SV example from a day or so ago can be found here, on Twitter).

Sticking with the point – if the CPW website is broken? Get to X.

Oh, not happy with the CPW customer service? You should drop a note to X.

Having trouble with that thing you bought from CPW? You should follow X, (s)he’ll help.

These are all examples where an evangelist would help your brand reputation.

Something, ANYTHING to calm those folk down who think they?ve been misled, cheated, defrauded, messed around, screwed over? (do I need to go on?) ?by CPW (and/or O2).

This isn’t rocket science folks and I am most certainly not revealing nuclear codes here –
A simple Google Alert will tell you who?s talking about you RIGHT NOW.

“It can’t be that simple James!” – No really.

It is THAT SIMPLE.

I just set one up for Carphone Warehouse, (set to ‘as-it-happens’) and within minutes I got a ping?

The first link points to the second link, the second link look something like this:

Familiar story huh?

Well how about hiring an evangelist to monitor this stuff?

To reach out to these disgruntled bloggers and say something like:
?Hi Tom
Look, we messed up. Big. We are REALLY sorry. In equal measure we also REALLY want you to get your iPhone. I honestly do not know when we will be shipping your iPhone 3G out to you, but if you?d like to email me your details I will do my best to find out what the current state of play is regarding your account.
Yours,

John Smith
CPW Evangelist?

Reasonably simple; make it personal, reach out to your critics and let them know they are being heard.

Help them understand that you are here to help and yes, even humans mess up sometimes.
Fingers crossed, Tom?s account details would be passed back, a rapport would build, information would be shared and the next thing you know you might even have a fan who?s happy to tell the world that actually, yeah CPW got it wrong.. but y’know what, they ARE trying to get things done.

CPW, if you’re listneing, engage your online community and ignore them at your peril.

And if you want to tack a bit of science on the end of that just to really hammer it home:
Recent studies show that the internet is the most influential medium when it comes to consumers purchasing decisions; twice as strong as that of Television and almost eight times the influence of traditional printed media.

Source – http://pov.fleishman.com/blogs/fhsocialnetwork/2008/06/new_research_reveals_the_impac.php

Here endeth the lesson.

So Jaiku went down…

…for like 24hrs!

To my knowledge, the longest ‘unscheduled’ downtime to date.

So what happened? Well.. on the Jaiku ‘back-end’ side of things, two servers died – See pic ———>

And it was all hands on pumps until she got back up and running again.

On the user side of things the loyal, and some may say fanatical, Jaiku-ers de-camped themselves off to Twitter for the day. Much to the amusement of the Twitterati; here were all these Jaiku-folk trying to emulate their Jaiku conversations over the Twitterverse.

It was hard going – but we needed to go somewhere…! For those of you that don’t know there is a, shall we say, friendly rivalry that goes between Twitter and Jaiku, I’ve blogged before how the two can co-exist but, in this instance, that argument is irrelevant. Yes of course they can co-exist. It’s the users themselves that poke fun at one another…

This is of course, by definition, a bit of fun. There are benefits to both of these micro-blogging platforms, I have always been a Jaiku person at heart but recently have found myself more and more on Twitter contributing to farther reaching conversations as the audience/scope is so much larger. Again, there is no problem in this whatsoever. The problem lies in the Jaiku user base not really knowing what the owners (since being bought by Google) intend to do with it.

All of my thoughts on that I’ll save for another post – I sense a few more Jaiku-themed posts in the future you see… However, if you can’t wait for that then you could do lot worse than read this post by Jonathan Mulholland, fellow Jaiku evangelist and all round intelligent fellow.

Going back to the ‘de-camping’ as I refer to it.. This resulted in a lot things. Twitter’s ‘landscape’ changed for a short while and that in itself resulted in this post, (again – a bit of fun), by a dear friend of mine, Vero Pepperrell – aka thatcanadiangirl.

Vero is cool. I like her. She’s got her head screwed on…

However in her post (I’ll re-publish, save you clicking through) she says:

This evening, looking at the activity on Twitter, I was fascinated to see how quickly the usual Jaiku crowd had migrated. For those who haven’t noticed, Jaiku was showing a big fat 502 Bad Gateway error for a number of hours before it was replaced by the Jaiku birdie telling us that busted hard drives were to blame for the downtime.

Now, Twitter is notoriously flaky and known for going up and down more than a kid’s see-saw in a busy park in midsummer. Yet, everyone flocked over as the default alternative to Jaiku. If it wasn’t Twitter, it would have been something else. Pownce? Facebook? Seesmic?

In a magpie-like fashion, the web 2.0 crowd will look for the next shiny thing. I know. I’m one of them, and I sure as hell am guilty for chronically creating accounts on every new service, just to promptly ditch it and move on.

So what makes a service people come back to? A site that makes it past the 12-18 months best before date? Or are all new web 2.0?ish services destined to peak quickly then die just as fast? Lots more thoughts to add on this, but first, I’m interested to see what everyone else thinks.

As I said, head screwed on. Knows her stuff etc… But… I can only agree in part.

Yes, us early adopters are always looking out for the next new shiny thing to try. Of course we are. That’s what defines us as early adopters. And yet I cannot see the correlation between this and Jaiku’s downtime resulting in Twitter’s ‘uptime’.

The response I put to Vero was as follows:

Dude,

We’re not fickle. We’ve just become accustomed to having our own Micro-blogging service to hand. Fickle we are not. In deed of a quick messaging community we are. If Jaiku, the service of (my) choice, is down. Then of course to Twitter I will head.

Not magpie like, not in search of new shiny things just trying to find a replacement implement that will serve for now while the social tool I prefer is down and out of action.

If this was Jaiku, I’d just post this as a reply. THE FULL POST.

I can’t even reply to your tweet, so I’m forced to reply to this post. I can’t share this response nor can I fit it within 140 characters.

Jaiku is a comfy sofa where the odd spring has sprung. We’re only sitting on the bench of Twitter because we need somewhere to sit. When the sofa’s sorted, we’ll be out of your way.

Each to their own you see. It’s not about chasing shiny things, not when you have something you use every day.
If this was the case then none of us would be using Google… Heaven forbid that would ever go down.. But I’m pretty sure if it did we’d all bugger off to Yahoo pronto.

Anywhoo – my point is – Jaiku went down, so the userbase went to Twitter. Jaiku came up, the userbase went back.

I just wonder how many were left behind…

Balls to it! (a Whatley rant-a-thon) Part 3: What the hell is Facebook for anyway?

Well – a few things come to mind and it’s probably a mixture of these things… (and this is good that I’m writing this down actually because I’ve been meaning to shoehorn this into a project at work for bloody ages now) …right so:

Facebook – and I loathe that I’m dedicating blogspace to the ubiquitous behemoth that it is – but I need to:

There’s the facebook fiends that go round collecting friends like I collect socks (and I do – H&M is my best friend when it comes to socks). Like those people I know from school who I never spoke to, who in fact probably wouldn’t actually spit on me if I was on fire back then… They have NO PROBLEM with hitting the ‘add friend’ button on my profile! WTF?!

WHY?!

Were we friends at school? No – scrap that – ARE we friends NOW?! No.
(on this – have any of you hit the ‘ignore’ button on a friend request yet? Do it. It is SO empowering)

Maybe facebook needs to bring in hidden ‘layered’ friends:

  • Friends who I know and love and see/speak to regularly
  • People I work with
  • Some bloke I met down the pub last night
  • You who’s name I don’t actually remember who sat four tables away from me in Science class.

And YES I know that facebook has just introduced that stupid friend grouping thing etc but that’s not the point.
Maybe it’s my definition of the word ‘friend’ which – between you and me – I don’t bandy about lightly…

Right so yeah – Facebook fiends. Adding friends like it’s some kind of race. Well it ain’t. So you lose.

Then there’s the facebook address bookers. Now these people I don’t really mind that much. Having read about them online a fair bit of late… these folk actually use the ‘social tool’ (that’s right – it’s a TOOL not a NETWORK, but we’ll come back to that) for a single purpose and that is: As a very active contacts list.

What do I mean?

Well – instead of searching my contacts in outlook or in my N95 et al – I can search my ‘friends list’ on facebook and immediately glean a whole bunch of info about that person.

Email (do people still use this medium socially? I think I read somewhere that in 2007 email usage went down by about 80%. I think that figure could be wank rubbish. But still, food for thought) addresses, phone numbers, current status etc… ie: “Steve is planning beers tonight..” that there is a reason for me to call him.
Plus it gives you reminders about upcoming birthdays and events and such like as a personal contacts/diary would do so… but oh look.. We’ve come back to the walled garden thing again.
Grrr…

Ok – moving on from them – there’s folk like me. The sharers. I’ve built my social network up around me using facebook and now I use this tool for one function (as I am growing to dislike the site somewhat of late) and that is to share cool things I find online with my non-geeky friends.

I mean – I can share links through my Google reader to the 10 or so people that care to read or I can send a TinyURL out to the 50 or so people who are following me on Twitter… OR I can use my Jaiku to do something similar but ultimately – by using the social tool of choice (facebook) – I can share anything cool I find with over 400 of my friends/acquaintances/business contacts/etc… so of late, that’s all I’ve been doing. Sharing.

Incidentally –

‘Share’ is going to be THE theme of 2008.

In every sense of the word. That’s what I think anyway.
This is based a whole bunch of shit great stuff I’ve seen happening in ‘007 and in the first ten days of ‘008.
I’ll prolly expand upon this another time – already I feel like I’ve written bloody loads. But who cares… it’s my first proper post of the year – allow me a little self indulgence already!

Ok – coming back to the thing about facebook…

Conc in Part 4

Balls to it! (a Whatley rant-a-thon) Part 2: Facebook Events

WHY OH WHY can I not just hit ONE BUTTON and sync my events on Facebook with every other sodding calendar I have to keep?
See Plaxo/Yahoo/Google/iCal/And any bloody S60 calendar app I tend to be running on my N95 right now…

WHY?!

Talk about a blinkin’ walled garden. Apparently the walls are coming down. Well blow me if that’s not about time. I wrote a piece (that I never published here but hacked it to pieces, updated it and edited the mobile parts of it together here for smstextnews) wayback in September detailing what a pain in the ass backside this was/is.

The piece (entitled ‘Think of the Children’) talked (well – the unpublished parts did anyway) about Jaiku and Twitter and how they can happily ‘co-exist’ within the industry… Hang on – Let me go get the quote:

I’m sorry if this is out of context – but you’ll get the idea:

The walled garden appproach that these services offer mean that interoperability between the competition* (*my definition of competition is anything that competes for my spare time – my Nintendo DS is competition for the book that I’m currently reading for example) is impossible.
Imagine if you will Yahoo Mail refusing to send your emails to a Hotmail (sorry – Windows Live) account and/or a Gmail account.. Ridiculous huh? But this is what is happening currently with MySpace/facebook.

.

The Operators/Carriers of this world have finally come round to the idea that interoperability is the way forward. A quick glance at any website proves this as I would imagine you’d be hard pushed to find a tariff that doesn’t include Xnetwork minutes. Of course, this has not always been the case… but, eventually they (the operators) sat up and listened.
This is what the social networking sites of today should be working towards..

.

I’m a big fan of the micro-blogging service known as Jaiku. But more so am I a fan of one of the co-founders – Jyri Engelstrom.
He believes [or at least I think he does] in complete and open syncronosity across such services..
This is evident not just through recurring themes on his blog but also whenever he is asked the question:

.

‘Which is better; Twitter or Jaiku?’

.

You would think that, if pressed, he would of course say ‘Jaiku’. He would have to! Right? Wrong.
No. Jyri is an evangelist of co-existence… What do I mean?
Twitter works. Jaiku works. Why shouldn’t they work together?
Why insist that the user must choose one or the other and not both?

.

Taking this theme and expanding on it… – Why can’t I send a message from my facebook to my friend’s myspace?
If I tag a photo on flickr why aren’t my bebo friends notified?
One day, I hope, this will be the case… much like, as mentioned, how Xnetwork minutes are now ‘as standard’…

So yeah – interoperability (or lack thereof) really hacks me off..

But hey – while we’re still on the subject of facebook (ish)…

Cont in Part 3