Bin Laden – Twitter Comes Of Age

Like many I woke up to the great news of the death of Osama Bin Laden this morning.

And as soon as I watched the pictures on the BBC, I turned to Twitter for the more information and insight from around the world.

An everyone was playing their part:

Danny Sullivan from Search Engine Land was commenting on how re story was trending, Monte Lutz believed that Twitter was outscoring Facebook on the story by around 10:1, but the most authentic coverage was coming from a tweeter in Abbotabad. The tweets from @reallyvirtual are to be preserved for future generations.

Here was a guy, the owner of a coffee shop in downtown Abbottabad who heard a helicopter overhead which he thought as unusual. ” I need to swat it” he said, clearly annoyed at the late night disturbance. But as time moved on, he clearly became aware that something major was happening. “I’m told it’s not one of ours” “could be a drone”.

Until finally this amazing realisation, “Uh oh, now I’m the guy who liveblogged the Osama raid without knowing it.”

In addition @storify provided a consolidated picture of events as they unfolded.

So I think this; that Twitter today had a great day. It found it’s place and as the growth of Twitter that follows this story inevitably happens, more and more people will call on it for news and updates from people on the ground as a natural reaction.

@reallyvirtual later tweets included this “wondering what music to play in the coffee shop today”.

Life goes on.

Sony Drop The Ball

Oh dear. Oh dear oh dear. Oh my.

Imagine having to send over 70 million emails to your customers, not just to say that their personal details my have become the recent property of a hacker, but the real sting in the tail being you couldn’t entirely rule out the fact that their credit card details may also have slipped under the fence.

Now I would number myself as being one who, clearly naively, has bind faith in leaving my personal information and credit card details online. I accept that any company trading online has complied with PCI regulations without even ever checking for the SSL encryption certificate.

I’d happily pay a one man band for a product I really wanted and trust that the parcel would arrive any day soon.

But if the prospect of a hacker picking on such a small enterprise is the equivalent of stealing a packet of sweets from the cornershop, the Sony episode must be the equivalent of breaking into Fort Knox.

Aside from the specifics of this case, the biggest issue it throws up in my mind is the future of cloud computing.

I’ve been discussing the topic of going to the cloud with several business owners recently. And their conclusion bar none, is that it’s really a no brainer.

The prospect of hosting all a company’s data off the premises, no need for server rooms demanding temperature controls and an IT team on call 24/7 in case of loose cables and power outages is a temptation that has seemed to hard to resist.

And I’m sure this bump in the road may only be just that. But it must be a wake up call to those like me trusted that systems were water tight and that the hackers had been outflanked.

They haven’t, but just as with other acts of terrorism, we mustn’t let them derail progress.

We’ll Be Good, Really We Will..

I had to laugh really.

“We don’t want to be bad, we want to be good” the man said. His almost pathetic appeal to the TV cameras sounded more like a naughty boy who’d been told that if he wasn’t a good, he wouldn’t be allowed out to play. As Peter Rabbit said, “Why do it do it? What can it be? There’s naughtiness in everyone, but twice as much in me”.

But this wasn’t a child, this was Philip Clarke, the newly appointed head of Tesco, Britain’s most successful retail brand of the last ten years.

He carried on, “we need to..create more engagement”. This almost simpering message felt like a slap around the face acting as a wake up call.

More engagement? Sharpen customer communications (sounds dodgy!), sort out the details…we’ll soon see if these are merely platitudes, but let’s be generous for now and say well done, you’ve woken up to the rise of humanised business that social media is leading.

But Tesco will need to change beyond belief. For every tweet they might send in the future (they’re not big on Twitter!) someone will show you a farmer having his livlihood threatened by Tesco’s buying culture, for every ‘little bit’ that counts on Facebook, we’ll see protests outside a recently closed pub or business that Tesco want to tun into a Metro within a mile of one of their superstores.

I guess the retailer that bares comparison in the US is naturally Walmart, owners of UK supermarket chain Asda, whose sustainability initiatives are the biggest sign that big brands, huge brands, need to respond to customer’s concerns in a very real way. But Tesco have a mountain to climb.

I recall an article in Marketing Week by Professor Mark Ritson, which was totally negative to the potential benefit to businesses of social media tools. In fact he cited the success of Tesco, who at that time were silent when it came to social media, as the biggest success story in recent British economic history and that therefore they should be the model for aspiring businesses. Facebook and Twitter are purely for celebrities he said. I guess Ritson would see’s purchase of Radian6 a few weeks ago for $340m as a huge mistake.

He may prove to be right of course, but Tesco – the case study central to his argument, appear for now to have left him behind and to have bought into the fact that what businesses need in 2011 and beyond is to be real, human, authentic and yes – sociable.

In hard times, the pressure on retailers to keep prices low is immense. But if a retailer makes my time spent with them either in store online or on the phone, a pleasant one, respond to me when I ask them to and show me individual attention I will remember that more than my milk costing 2p more.

And I’ll tell everyone all about them.

PS – Just checked Philip Clarke’s Twitter page. He’s doing well. Has over 3,000 followers….but he’s following just 2! And one of them is Tesco!!!!

The Pursuit of Happiness and Tea

During my time in the US, I spent some time reflecting on the genius that is the opening to the Declaration of Independence, “We hold these truths to be self-evident, that all men are created equal, that they are endowed by their Creator with certain unalienable Rights, that among these are Life, Liberty and the pursuit of Happiness.”

The right to pursue happiness is surely the most liberating goal man can have and for the first time, a nation was enshrining this right in its very own DNA.

And so yesterday, when the website for a new group. Action for Happiness, based in the UK, actually crashed under the volume of traffic it was attracting, it said to me that people are longing to realise this same natural instinct that the Founding Fathers laid down over 200 years ago.

Action for Happiness is apparently the work of The Young Foundation who employ 60 staff in New York, London and Birmingham to encourage “entrepreneurship to meet social needs”.

Music to my ears. I can’t claim that The Young Foundation isn’t a front for a clandestine political organisiation, but I doubt that they are. They just seem like good people and Action for Happiness is a natural offshoot.

One of the principles that they ascribe to happiness is resiliance – learning how to bounce back. This is a fantastic responce to those who say “England is mine it owes me a living” (although I still love Morrissey!) No the state won’t bail you out if you fail.

Seth Godin wrote a marvellous piece on failure in business this week, and J.K. Rowling’s speech on the subject to Harvard is still one of the most inspirational clips you will ever see.

What’s this to do with social media? Well here are people coming together socially, online to generate ideas and spread opinion. What’s the ROI on that?

I hope that the popularity of the Action for Happiness is maintained, that people really look to themselves to do simple things to achieve happiness, not other people, not the state but the one under valued resource they have at their fingertips – themselves.

Now I’m off to make a pot of tea for everyone, not a cup for myself.

Want one?

Radian6 Sold for $340m

This may have passed you by last week, but a bomb fell in the world of social media monitoring., the business services company snapped up Radian6, a leader in the world of SMM tools, for a mere $340m.

The deal is reportedly structured as a combination of cash and stock, with $4m earmarked for the owners of the Canadian based company.

In 2009, Alterian purchased SM2 from Techrigy for a reported $5m. Sm2 itself was only created in 2006 and this illustrates to me just how fast things are moving in this world.

Now I’ve researched SMM tools at length over the last year and whilst here are differences between the leader players, essentially the technologies and reporting systems are pretty similar – just that one was worth $5m in 2009 and just two years later, another is worth around $335m more.

So why has this happened? Whay did Alterian get such a bargain and could they now be tempted to look for a buyer of SM2 and pocket a huge profit?

The sheer power that these tools offer to brands in intelligently listening to just what its customers and prospects are saying about them, their products and competitors is awe inspiring and have obviously woken up to this – I’m sure they knew already…

I’ve been talking to many UK businesses about SMM technologies and the power that they have. Most people are taken aback that these tools could possibly exist in the first place, I have to prove their very existence in some cases, but when that doubt is overcome and people have seen real examples of their uses, a light bulb lights up above their heads.

Are you using these listening tools? Do you want to?

Let’s talk…

How Much Does a First Class Stamp Cost?

As from today it’s 46p in the UK.


But does it even matter? The voxpop from the BBC shows a number of people of all ages trying to answer the question and the thing that struck me most was the sight of two young men, who clearly had no idea, guessing at either £4 or £3!!!

The simple fact is for this generation it’s a irrelevant cost. They live their lives online and are mobile, texting, emailing and Facebook messaging friends. The thought of popping down to the the post office to post a letter is uttely alien to them.

But even the older members of the public quizzed seemed to be miles away when trying to guess the cost. The simple fact is the world has changed irrevocably and that snail mail is becoming a thing of the past other than for delivering the parcels that were originally ordered online.

The fact that so many printers are now struggling (or worse) indicates that there is simply not the demand from publishers and mail order companies as there was in the past to publish their content offline.

Keep your 46p in your pocket!




Sold Out – Iggy Pop’s Wish is Granted. He is a Poodle.

Not been blogging for a few weeks due to being incredibly busy. Bad I know, but when you fall off a horse, you should just get straight back on again. So, with a revitalised blogging mojo, I wanted to vent some anger about those who shoud be heroes but are now ruining their reputation in my eyes.

Yes, I’m talking about Iggy Pop and John Lydon.

My current journey into London takes me past an advertising hoarding with images of the baddest boy in rock, sitting in a silly purple car, smiling stupidly back at me encouraging me to buy Swift Insurance. So the man, the icon who sang “I wanna be your dog” is now the an insurance company’s poodle (I’ll avoid the obvious canine reference, butcha know what I mean right?)

And then there was John Lydon Rotten himself who spent much of last year on TV telling people to buy Country Life butter. God save us!

If Alice Cooper in bed with Ronnie Corbett and Ozzy selling computer games wasn’t bad enough.

Sorry for the rant on my return. But perlease! I want my rock stars to be monsters!


Social Commerce and The People’s Republic of Facebook

One in eleven human beings are now on Facebook.

In fact if Facebook were a country it would be the world’s third largest with a population of 585m (it grew by 248m in 12 months by the way!)

Now consider that the entire population of Facebook by definition has access to the internet and therefore has more economic power than possibly any other country.

So when people claim that China is the world’s fastest growing economy – in fact it has officially just taken over from Japan as the world’s second largest – just think about the power of People’s Republic of Facebook.

Of course a Venn diagram would show a huge overlap with the other physical economic giants on the planet – the USA of course would take the biggest slice (147m Americans are registered on Facebook), but surprisingly, the UK comes in at number three (28.4m) – Indonesia is second (32.1m)

Given these numbers, it’s no wonder that more and more brands are looking to monetise their presence on the planets largest social network and so over the last few months we are seeing a rise in the phenomenon of social commerce, but recently renamed ‘f commerce’ for obvious reasons.

There appear to be two distinct ways in which people are directly trading from their Facebook page. One is to show merchandise with ‘click’ to buy buttons, but that simply then take you to the normal online store.  This is simply a shop window for the main store. Coca Cola and Barneys New York have taken this tack, by simply adding a ‘shop’ tab on their page.

The other approach is to drop in a store that pretty well replicates the brands online store, but is housed within the Facebook page, allowing fans to shop and checkout, all without leaving Facebook. An API can manage stock levels and make the whole process seamless.

How this will evolve is to be seen. My third party applications allow brands to drop ‘shoplets’ into their Facebook page and the technology behind these will no doubt develop rapidly over the next few months.

But the rush to F Commerce is most certainly on.

A word of warning however. F commerce makes your focus on customer care even more critical. If this rush to push products to the potential market of 585m consumers gets in the way of listening to them and understanding what their immediate needs and wants are, then they will find themselves not even a click away from telling their friends and other fans of the brand just what they think!