clever UI

i was looking at my Linkedin inbox recently and i saw this great pop-up menu over people who have asked to connect to me. previously it used to give you the option to connect to someone or not, now it gives you a whole host of options;
1) don’t show me this person
2) i don’t know them
3) i don’t know them well enough
4) i prefer not to connect
5) other reason

this gives you the ability to nuance how you don’t know someone, as opposed to the general brushoff (i’m not sure if this sis communicated back to the other person, i’d say not). i think it would also allow you to not link to more people which should make the links that you do have more effective, and therefore linkedin more effective (or is that too tenuous an assumption?)

the benefit for linkedin is that you have more data about people’s linking behaviour, more to analyse…


This post is more for the benefit of my non-South African readers, South Africans would be aware of the phenomena.

I had a meeting with some guys from Mxit yesterday. Mxit is a very interesting product. Its a social network/instant messaging platform for your mobile phone that has 14MM users in South Africa (around 1/3 of the population). How it works is that you’ll install Mxit on your phone and add your friends mobile numbers, Google Talk, MSN etc and be able to chat to them for free on your phone IM style.

They have a micropayment system called Mxit Moolah which then allows you to purchase games, wallpapers, song downloads, access to news and video and other paid content. One of the struggles is that they have to have initial payments come through the handset operators who take a 50% rev share immediately (however there are no further transaction costs when they’re purchasing on their own ecosystem). The costs are extremely low, if you want to have a chatroom style chat, its about R0.05 (about eur0.004) compared with an SMS of R0.80.

They’re an interesting case from a marketing perspective too, they’ve spent nothing on marketing to get them where they are, its all been viral. They’re expanding to other developing markets too, very interesting company.

Twitter overload

As part of my Twitter refresh I had a chat over lunch to 2 people who I know (in meatspace) and communicate with on Twitter about how I wasn’t getting as much joy from Twitter as I would like to.

@no_monkeys had the following to share;
1) follow people you actually know
2) follow people who’s bio appeals to you (he’s an iPhone developer)
3) unfollow people who update 80 times a day
4) follow people who post in English

I think these are pretty relevant pointers, however I have exceptions to the rule already;
1) I’m interested in following marketing/web people, however every web geek worth their salt is on twitter, so there is a huge volume of crap if I use the rule of following anyone who has social media in their bio
2) unfollow people who update 80 times a day is a good rule. I will do it, except with people like guy Kawasaki (when does he find the time to continue tweeting relevant stuff)

That’s about it, I’ve added my cousin to my list, and removed a lot of other random people. Let’s see how this tweets me (sorry, I couldn’t resist)
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Book marketing 101

My sister’s book is being launched in the US in May (buy it). We were discussing innovative methods of marketing her book (mostly online). It is a fairly nascent industry, but there are a few people writing some interesting stuff. One of the things about her book is that it’s set in Durban South Africa, and all of the reference points (places, products, names) have a very Durban flavour. This was one of the challenges we discussed in terms of how to make this very real to an American audience.

Here are some key pointers from our work in progress discussions about how to best harness the power of the internet to sell a book;

Understand your audience
Its marketing 101, but don’t try and communicate with people who cant read by using the internet. Similarly if you’re selling a magical realism book with a focus on love, its probably not the best route to go to people through a car website, because your audience is women 25+ and men read car sites.

Use bloggers.
This takes a number of different forms, you can;
1. Do a virtual book tour I would advise finding people that fit within your audience and find the blogs that communicate with them. Send through a review copy to them with a handwritten note and something to differentiate yourself (some small kind of gift). From there you can have them review you; write a guest post, have a profile or offer a podcast or excerpt from your book.
2. give away tastes.I’m very keen on the Seth Godin free approach. He has proved that if by giving his book away as a free pdf it promotes the sale of his other titles (I haven’t as yet been able to convince my sister to read her entire book and give it away, but giving away excerpts is under discussion)
3. Use your Facebook community to generate buzz, inform people about book signings and launches and run a competition to stimulate virality with other people. One of the cooler things that she did with her South African launch was to have people take photos of a kiss for a competition. This builds on the viral aspect of it and makes people more involved with the product because they’ve taken the time to get involved.
4. Create context. The book is set in Durban which most Americans have no idea exists. Use online tools to showcase specific spots from the book. Have a Flickr stream which shows places which are talked about. Have a Youtube channel and tour of Durban (or even interview yourself and detail why you’re motivated to write this book, how you feel about touring; it adds some personality to the author and thus interest)
5. Use bloggers to mobilize efforts around a specific offline event; she’s thinking of a picnic in Central Park this time. Ask bloggers to get the word out about events or book launches. These are great for PR if you can get a few people present.
6. Create a book trailer. She’s thinking of a stop-motion video about a cupcake to showcase to drive people back to the site. This could also be used with the “showcase the local” in number 4 above. Very important don’t forget to include a call to action message in the movie, e.g. join our FB, enter our competition, download the excerpt etc.

Update: and of course don’t forget to be part of the conversation. Make sure you’ve got a “vanity” search active on Google for your name and the name of your book. If you have some more budget use one of the tools that I detailed here. Once you know people are talking about you, reach out and get involved in the conversation. You can communicate with the blogger, ask them to profile you, contribute to the forum or anything else to get your message out there

I’ll report back with links and performance as things proceed.Related articles by Zemanta

social networking as a force for change

I get a lump in my throat and a tear in my eye when I see people working together on the internet to make a change. I’m not sure if that’s some kind of hippy notion (I do have a beard) ,a joy in the power of the internet or a desire to become a politician, nevertheless I saw two stories recently that pressed these buttons (similar to the Digg story I blogged about previously). In the Uk Cadbury’s has been convinced to bring back the Wispa bar after social networking groups were created in favour of the chocolate bar. Similarly HSBC has been convinced to stop charging interest on student loans after a Facebook group was set up to complain about this new practice. Both of these occurred as a result of newspapers picking up on the phenomenon and then making it part of the discussion, so i don’t think it’s the power of the social networking to actually spread the word virally, but it does showcase that there is some interest in the story and that people feel sufficiently motivated to do something about it. it does show the power of social networking to galvanise some like minded people and then provide the platform to link them together. from there your challenge is to publicise the support that you have, which so far hasn’t proved to be too challenging.
either way, it works, i think there is opportunity for a number of initiatives within it for mobilising things on a grassroots level, politically, socially or even some canny brand to come up with an issue that fits with their attributes.