ebookers fail

I got up at 5 this morning to go to the airport;
We had a day flight from cape town via London to Amsterdam, booked a hotel and schipol and then a flight first thing tomorrow with easyjet to geneva for snowboarding. Unfortunately there was no plane waiting for me this morning. Ebookers had neglected to send me an email to say that they were rescheduling the flight to this evening. Which means that my hotel and flight to geneva are currently wasted expenses. Apparently they mailed me four times in july and once in august (i checked to see if maybe i had a delusional month and didn’t remember this important detail), but they didn’t (and i’m sure ebookers ensures they’re on every email whitelist possible)

So this is an exercise in seeing how closely ebookers pays attention to social media. I’ve twittered about it, and asked my colleagues to retweet it, and this post is to compound that….
I’ll keep you updated if anyone contacts me to sort it out.

UPDATE So today i have spent 2 hours and 4 phonecalls with ebookers. They said they sent the mails informing me of the change and as such couldn’t do anything to help (even though they never rescheduled our connecting flights). Someone has got a hold of me from on twitter but hasnt got back to me yet.

christmas number 1

an ex-boss of mine once called me a “business hippy”. but i’ve always believed in the idea of social media as a force for change, and i wear a beard- so maybe i am a bit of a hippy.

for these reasons i love the fact that rage against the machine is winning the race to be the uk’s christmas number 1. a couple of people get irate about simon cowell, create a facebook group and orchestrate the mechanics around how to create a number one (when and where to buy), and mobilise a sufficient force/tap into a zeitgest.
and now the uk has the potential christmas number one with the most christmassy of all sentiments; “fuck you, i won’t do what you tell me”.

Putting your brand into the wild

Zynga is one of the top social games developers out there with revenues of $100MM annually (or so they say). They’re as web 2.0 as you can get (their games are developed for social networks) so it would stand to reason that they’re active on twitter and the other networks. Only problem being that their customer service is not supposed to be that great, and people do complain about it. I was on their site the other day and they have a live link of what people are saying about them on Twitter. 3 out of the 9 newest comments were complaining about their customer service and lack of attention to this.

This is something that they need to address. I understand; a buggy game with vast amounts of users that don’t monetize well =customer service nightmare (you can’t afford to get everyone the love they expect). But that’s why twitter and the web are such great tools. they could set up a specific twitter account for customer service/bugs, and aggregate the information to inform how to better improve their product. They can inform from there how they understand things are buggy and will work on making it better. It’s a tough job, but a necessary one to stop alienating their users

top brands on twitter

Nobility / NoblezaImage by . SantiMB . via Flickr

I saw a list of brands, mentions and their followers on twitter, and i found it pretty shocking.
starbucks at the top is quite impressive, 3.37MM mentions and Google with 307,342 followers is also OK.
But if you think about them in a little more detail I’d expect that half the Starbucks mentions are along the lines of “waiting in line at…”, so its not huge brand coversions by brand ambassadors that are happening. Similarly for Google 300,000 people following them isn’t that huge. Lots of people should be keen to have the pearls of wisdom from Google’s lips (or at least more than a third of those who want to hear what Ashton had for breakfast)

Simialrly after the top 5 you’re looking at 245,000 brand mentions and 1,000 followers for Amazon. This would lead me to believe that there isn’t a huge market for brands to be present on Twitter. Within 140 characters its perhaps too challenging to fit in descriptions of brand interactions, or else this is the kind of information that people dont share on Twitter.

This leads me to think that focussing on Twitter as a channel to be on your media plan may be somewhat premature. I think the things that Federated Media are doing with Twitter are pretty cool (having top CEO’s twitter through a specific sponsored channel), perhaps we’ll see more innovations like thisRelated articles by Zemanta

Twitter- the case study end

Twitter with Oprah 1209 tweetsImage by adria.richards via Flickr

I started on my refound Twitter adventure before Oprah kicked in with her first Tweet (though my experiment was arguably a more momentous occasion). I was determined to either discount Twitter completely or being a rabid twitaholic in my 6 week trial. Through this process I got swamped by spammers, got bored by the lack of tangible application, and have slowly started getting swayed.

I actually quite like Twitter after I weeded all the wheat from the chaff. I get to hang out with some family (@bridgetmcnulty) some old friends I don’t see often enough (@luapk ; @astepney ), some old colleagues (@nomonkeys, pebblebug ) and get to get some quick updates from people I respect within the industry (including some smart people I didn’t know existed)

In short, I use it and post once/twice a day, and give it a quick scan to see if there’s anything interesting going on. I think it becomes more useful when you post photos or updates from your phone as well, so I intend to do this (as I always enjoy looking at other people’s photos.)

At the beginning of putting some effort into twitter I didn’t think I’d enjoy it, but I enjoy it for the real time/small touch aspect of it. In addition I like the @ function, like Im- but not as disruptive. Like I said before, add your twitter below and I’ll follow you. I know Twitter is a divisive point, what do you think?Related articles by Zemanta

Change your life, create your personal brand

There is a lot of talk about your personal brand, but the reason for it is that it makes sense. A personal brand is an essential way to differentiate yourself from the crowd.
This is unfortunately not something that you can do overnight, but there is no time like the present to do it. In order to develop your brand you need a positioning statement, a short précis of who you are and what you do. Concentrate on your skills and what you’re good at, and make sure that your career for a viable niche (writing for the newspaper is maybe not a good idea, but online publishing is). For example at the top of this blog I’ve summarized my areas of interest as search, social media and online trends.

The first channel that someone is going to use to find you is Google. So make sure you own your page for your name (or at least ensure that the content that is found about you is what you want to be found about you). This is the example for my name;

The listings are as follows
1.The first thing people see is my Google Adwords link (you can own what you say here- I try and show that I know/understand the web, as well as being a little irreverent/fun).
2. My profile on Linkedin.
3. This blog
4. One of the most read posts on this blog
5. A presentation that I did
6. My Facebook page

I’m pretty lucky as my name isn’t Brad Pitt, so it isn’t too difficult to get found, but if you persevere you will rank better. For your blog it’s a matter of SEO, good linking (even from comments) creates better ranking, and eventually you will achieve decent rankings.

This is how to create your personal brand;
1) set up a blog using your name as a domain. This is a key method, you can manage the entire relationship with your site; look & feel, content and tone. Google loves the exact term in the domain, so your name will drive search from people looking for your site (see andrew chen, peter kim, chris brogan etc). Also be consistent, try and blog as regularly as possible (I aim for three times a week, but daily is preferable). If it’s less than that make it impactful.
2) communicate with other people in your field; comment on blogs, follow them on twitter, be “part of the conversation”. This will drive traffic back to your site, but it will ultimately have you become smarter in your field. You’ll be participating in discussions about pertinent areas of interest for you.
3) make sure you have a Linkedin (one of the first natural search listings for your name). take some care in creating your profile, potential employers/associates will see this first, so you want to showcase yourself as well as you can. Add everyone you meet to your network. Ask people you’ve worked with to recommend you. this is kinda tough because reciprocal recommendations don’t mean a hell of a lot to me, and most people kinda expect it.
4) make those embarrassing photos of you drinking tequila on the weekend on Facebook private
5) buy the Google terms for your name and redirect them to your blog
6) Crosspromote from service to service (put your blog on Facebook, twitter, Linkedin etc) this will do good things for your search rankings, as well as giving you an easy opportunity for people to find out more about you..
7) Try and speak at industry functions about your speciality, showcase yourself and your knowledge.
8) Network offline (crazy concept I know ), go to dinners, industry meetings and conferences. I’m less good at this, but its imperative to actually make the connection and get to know people personally.
9) Track your blog on mybloglog and Google Analytics. What are your most popular posts, what are people returning, what organic search terms are important for Google for you. Write more posts about these, people are interested.

Building your personal brand isn’t about being a braggart, its about showcasing your strengths and finding a way to leverage them. Its more about having your CV ready before you need it, and at the same time becoming better at what you do. Chris Brogan has a lot more great tips about this.

iPhone apps- Marketing 101

The new Apple iPhoneImage by Victor Svensson via Flickr

Since two people I know are now professional iPhone developers, I’ve taken a bit of a closer look at the app store, the iPhone and the marketing of your app. There are a few things which I find interesting;
1) Its essentially a walled garden, distribution is exclusively through the app store, so Apple owns the customer contact.
2) First mover advantage was important. If you could get there first with an OK app in front of many rabid Mac fans you were guaranteed of making some money.
3) There is a real problem with the pricing model (if you’re a developer). in order to get into the top sellers bracket people try to get as many sales as possible, so developers keep their prices real low ($0.99). This is a doubled edged sword that you need to decrease your price to make sales, but then the revenues don’t actually mean much. Unfortunately you have to sell a lot of content in order to keep yourself happy with that.
4) It’s a groundbreaking device; it can tell where you are, connect to the internet, do crazy things associated with motion. This opens up the scope considerably wrt development.
5) The barriers to entry are so low (the SDK is available and most tech literate ish people could build something). With this low barrier to entry many people are putting their content up there, so its hard to cut through the clutter. If you look at how many apps are on the store its heading towards a hockeystick curve; end of December there were 10,000 apps, mid-March 25,000 and a week ago 33,000.

So how do you cut through the clutter. In order of importance;
1) it seems lame to even say it, but have differentiated content. Don’t have the same knockoff app that everyone else has- create some new exciting IP. Without a good product you’re sunk.
2) PR and reviews are key. Most developers don’t have a lot of money to advertise what they’re doing, so get the word out there and get people to review your content. Make up a good story about yourself to put in your bio (everybody loves the scrappy underdog, and the iPhone is pretty sexy at the moment) use these to make a character out of yourself and your dream of creating. Leverage these stories to push your app not only to the usual game and app websites, but also reach out to other avenues. If your game is about football, contact football sites or send it to the Sports pages. The more you can communicate about your game the better it is. Here is a list of possible reviewers

3) Google. Use Adwords to get out there and get traffic to your site. Start off small (your studio name & game name), build up your negative keywords and carry on adding new terms. This is a great case study of how it can work.
4) Have a trial/Lite version. This is classic coming from the casual gaming world, where the “try before you buy” model is an established way of getting people hooked on your content. Your timing in launching your Lite model has to be good (you don’t want to cannibalize full version sales), but it can definitely boost your sales.
5) Have a website that showcases your app (buy the domain name, so that it will assist you with natural search). Don’t mess up the basics; have well written copy, good screenshots, a video, and any 3rd party reviews/recommendations well displayed on your page, with a prominent BUY ME call to action.
6) Crosspromote your new app from your current app. If you already have a pool of users who are using your app, use them to promote your new app. I don’t see anyone selling these spaces to other app developers, but there must be an ad business in this.
7) Localise what you’re doing. The app store is big in Germany and other non-English countries too. Localised content always works better than English for a local market.
8) White label your app. I put this one last because people may not want to “prostitute” their development. Putting a skin on something (e.g. Coca-Cola on the loading screen) can have Coke sponsor your development so they can distribute it.

There were some interesting comments on this post about how you could better promote your app;
1) LOLerApps is having a competition around creating Youtube videos around their content. This should create some interesting buzz
2)MattJDrake came up with a failsafe method of ensuring that you get frequent promotion. The only part of the app store that you can control is the new releases. So if you release often, you will get pushed up the rankings and get more eyeballs on you. Easy and effective

Using these tips will get ensure that you differentiate yourself from the mass of people who are selling a ripped off version of BejeweledRelated articles by Zemanta

Twitter spam

In my ongoing attempt to become a memeber of the Twitterati, i have been approving all the people that are following me. there are a lot of random people with like 30,000 followers and not much to share. (aside from guy kawasaki who has almost too much good stuff to share).

i was interested to see how spam has come on to twitter, if you look at the below example it ticks a couple of spam blocks;
1) hot girl (fake picture)
2) not much interest in it (bad follower to following ratio)
3) a couple of post only
4) trying to bump up stock prices

needless to say this is the only one i’m not followingRelated articles by Zemanta