The one thing you can do today to properly understand social media

If you want to understand how social media works, listen to the Facebook earnings calls. I tell people this.They don’t listen to me. 

That’s why I’m happy to tell you my little secret here, because you probably would rather pay two thousand dollars to go to a half day workshop and listen to people who aren’t Mark Zuckerberg and Sheryl Sandberg talk about social media. That’s up to you. 

Facebook has the family lunchbox users and Twitter wants them
And then Sheryl would have explained to you that social media is still a very small part of most brand’s marketing mix and that there is still a big job to do with marketers getting them to understand how to use and measure the ad products to demonstrate ROI. That would have explained to you the Twitter Australia/ Nielsen TV presentation last night and also the overly sorry apology from Twitter CEO Dick Costolo for not zapping enough trolls because they need to reposition Twitter as family friendly. The proactive communications machine roared into life well before the Twitter earnings results this morning which showed that, other than the Google deal, there wasn't much to say. 

Tony-hater of keyboard warriors, the Internet, coffee and the future of the free world
Apparently the Twitterati trolling politicians like former Prime Minister of Australia Tone Abetz for calling social media ‘electronic graffiti’ is not good content for top media buyer Woolworths selling 85 cent loaves of bread to working families so everyone needs to be a bit nicer so Twitter can attract newer, more gentle, kid’s lunchbox users and take some TV ad revenue. You would have heard Mark Zuckerberg explain very clearly to you that social media updates started as text and then went to photos- where Facebook got the big mainstream growth surge from- and that the next wave is mobile video. So if you want to make your posts to rank well on Facebook, perhaps you could post a video? Just a thought… 

If you are the one person that heeds my advice, then the Twitter earnings call this morning is a walk in the park to understand. You would have heard Sheryl talk about the growth of video on mobile and instantly understood why Twitter have incorporated video into their mobile app this week. 

You would have heard Mark talk about search and providing a search experience that ‘nobody else on the internet can provide’. By that he means Google. So then you would understand why Twitter has restarted their deal with Google to index data for search because everyone seems to go through the process of figuring out that a walled garden always seems like a good idea for ad revenue but it’s a big fail for content and discovery. 

Next gen products-mobile, visual, hyper social friend networks
You would have heard Sheryl talk about ‘next generation’ products like Facebook Messenger and WhatsApp and understand why Twitter launched group direct message functionality.You would have heard the Facebook CFO chappie Dave say (at great speed) that ad prices went up 300%, mainly due to growth in mobile video ads and because they can measure stuff better now. Um what? Yes the prices are going up. 

It’s brilliant, Facebook tells you everything. You have to be a bit more Turing code-breaker to pick the winners in the Google call because it’s basically everything they aren’t talking about that’s interesting. Analysts are spooned up some token numbers about ad network rates that don’t really mean much and then there’s a dismissive hand waggle to ‘emerging non-ad business’ and Google for Work’s plans to take over the world with their operating systems and work tools …look at the self-driving magic Noddy cars everyone!

Today, Facebook is setting the pace in social, definitely in a commercial sense and arguably in an innovation sense and they are worth listening to to give you clarity about the big chunky things that matter in the industry whether you personally like Facebook as a platform or not. 

But that’s up to you. 

I got hit by a taxi - let's see what they did to me

I’ve got a plastic surgery clinic on Thursday and I’m going to pack a few things because the last time I went in for a clinic I got readmitted to hospital for two weeks.

When they took the plaster off from the first surgery, there was a big hematoma which is a big swollen blood clot that was from the impact of the taxi bonnet, or the brick wall maybe but that was where it took the biggest bash anyway. 

The first four days after the accident were a lifetimes worth of hospital for me so being told I had to go back in for two weeks felt like I was being sucked out to sea.  Then I decided to be like the chill-ass orangutan and surrender to the whole process so Christmas and New Year's in hospital for me it was. There are starving children in Africa and people in the ward with lifetime, genetic muscle-wasting illness and stuff like that who needed four people to move them in bed. My leg seemed very minor and temporary in comparison. I've been pretty healthy for the last three years or so. I stopped drinking booze altogether and got a lot more active and tuned into managing stress and just generally realising that I wasn't bulletproof and had to listen to my body more. It made a big difference to my physical healing and just being able to push your body to relearn things. It also meant that I was thumped by all the medicines being pumped into me so I was pretty quick to start refusing pain meds and wanting all the chemicals to stop. I took my last antibiotic tablet yesterday and I'm not on any medication now- fingers crossed that's the end of it. 

Of course, you can't just sprinkle some Chia seeds over your leg and have some fish oil tablets when you're having open surgery on your leg. They have to knock you out which involves wheeling you into a cupboard and putting a rubber mask on your face and shoving a pipe down your throat which triggered a reptilian 'do not want' response from me apparently- I don't remember any of that but a traumatic frightened cat hit by a car response seemed pretty understandable. Well done me. 

I've finally read the discharge letter and can see what they did now: 

Surgery one

Tibial nail insertion and open reduction internal fixation of left medial malleolus 11/12/2014

Titanium rod thing from knee to ankle, inner ankle screws and something to my knee that isn’t a knee replacement but when people say they are having their knees done that’s what I had. Washout is cleaning up all the mess. 

Surgery two
Washout left leg wound 23/12/14
Then I had to go in for a second surgery which is a Washout to clean up all the hematoma blood clot stuff and get it back to a point where it could be stitched up. 

Surgery three
Washout and application of vac dressing to left leg wound 25/12/14 <<< Christmas Day

plastic surgeon checking the donor muscle -hole left from the hematoma- yes the white part is bone
Turns out the skin had all died above the hematoma so I had to go for surgery number three to have all the skin cut off. Then you get a left with a big hole in the front of your leg. Having a huge hole is a totally bad idea at the best of times but when you’ve just had a metal rod put in your munted leg it’s an even worse idea because you can get a bone infection and if that gets into the metal work then you can’t get it out so you have to amputate the leg.  Yes amputate. So as much as everyone reassured me that wasn’t going to happen my brief stint in public health was enough to make me know that there are all sort sorts of ebola-cousins lurking in hospitals and the only places more germy than hospitals are those floating petri dishes called Cruise Ships (seriously: Google cruise ships + norovirus, it’s not just an evening show you’re catching on the Emerald Princess). 

vac dressing sucking out all the bad stuff and circulating air and moisture to fast track healing
Then I had a vac dressing put on to prepare for the fourth surgery which means you have a plastic pipe stuck in your leg-hole to suck all the bad stuff out and speed up healing. It also means that you are plumbed to the bed and if you want to go to the toilet, you have to take a big tube and wrap gauze around it with medical tape so you get to do some craft. Then you go to the toilet and hold the pipe that is attached to your leg and are quite convinced that salmonella is setting up shop in your leg and pouring down the pipe like a bacteria hydroslide at Wet n Wild. 

Surgery four
Local flap reconstruction of left lower leg wound + skin graft repair

Covering up the hole required plastic surgery and some skin grafts. It’s called Local Flap so they cut a piece of good skin off the side of your leg where it’s just muscle and tissue, and move it around the front to cover the exposed bone. I also had some skin taken from my upper thigh and used to patch up the parts that weren’t covered by the Local Flap. Skin is the most amazing thing in the universe I think (name a man-made thing that can self-heal? exactly…) so the side of my leg skin has covered up the bone and no more Oscar Pistorious for me. OK, technically there is still a risk because when you get a crushing injury, stuff can get left behind and it could go feral but I got doused with IV antibiotics for a week or so to blast all the Cruise Ship germs. 

Skin grafts have to be untouched for about five days so you have to lie in the bed and do the worst thing in the world —nothing. You would think that lying in bed watching TV all day and being brought food would be like an awesome long-haul flight but it’s actually terrible because you have to pee in a bed pan which is the most revolting thing I have ever experienced because you are horizontal and you marinade your butt in your pee and have to balance until the nurse comes to take it out or it spills everywhere. After two goes I refused any further bedpan action and opted for the high-tech toilet seat chair option although the nurses would get a bit angry with me because it’s more work for them getting you up and down but the bedpan decision was final.

mobile sanitation device connect to your regular toilet and minimises ebola in your leg

One especially tricky nurse tried to convince me that she had to ‘measure my urine volume’ but I was on to her and her tricky schemes and I had to get my terse voice out, and then she threatened to put a catheter into me, nurses really do have a strong escalation game. So I got the doctors to put on my notes that it was infection control issue and i had to be taken to the toilet, i.e. no bedpans. Touche. 

During this time, a lot of attention is paid to your plumbing actually and you soon surrender to the morning ‘have you opened your bowels today’ questioning and it’s all recorded and charted and they give you potions to ensure the question is answered in the affirmative. I was provided with ‘treats for my bowels’ aka Coloxyl and sometimes they just wheel you to the bathroom and leave you there for a while to see if anything happens so you feel like a puppy being left on the lawn to go number twos. When you do go, you get a big pat on the head and tick in your chart so it’s a great shared achievement. The old guy in the room next to me was on Day 15 and refusing treats for his bowels which you’d have to think was a seriously bad life decision. Protip: take the treats. 

Local flap 'dusky' due to blood vessels venous congestion -wiring not all connected up yet
The skin is your skin so that part is happy but all the blood vessels have to reconnect. Blood goes in but doesn't come back out so that's when the leeches were brought in to try and save the bottom part of the Local Flap that was looking a bit -according to the discharge letter- Dusky. 

Harvard Medical School highly trained specialist surgical leech- likes blood and warm places

The leeches are proper medical ones and you prick the skin like a diabetes person does and get it to attach. The leech has natural anti-coagulant in its saliva so a good one can sit there for a couple of hours and hoover away at the wound. The leech created much excitement- it feels like a normal garden worm on your leg and doesn't hurt. 

Leech doing his/her thing on the Local Flap

The only thing is when they bloat up and are full, they wander off really quickly and head for the warm parts of your body so I had one full bloated one travelling at speed up toward my warm parts which was suboptimal so I decided to stop the overnight treatment because nightmares. 

The good news is the fracture is all zipped up now. There is a big wound on the side of my leg where the surgeon took the Local Flap from and it looks bad but people in the know assure me that it's all muscle and tissue so meh.


I couldn't care less about scars and how it looks as long as my leg works I'll be beyond happy. A quick journey through disability has been a huge eye-opener for me and I'm beyond blessed that my journey has been relatively short and successful -some people have to live everyday with chronic pain, unhappy outcomes and far worse limitations. 

The wound specialist came and visited me yesterday and we put this cool hydrogel stuff on the wound and it soaked up all the bacteria and it's all looking nice and pink and healthy now. 

So yes, Plastics clinic on Thursday so I can remove the big dressing on my upper thigh from the skin graft donor site hopefully, and then the big date is Monday 19 January with an orthopaedic clinic and x-ray to see if my leg can bear weight so I don't have to ski around on crutches. Then I can test-drive my new titanium leg- good times :)

7-10 How beautiful on the mountains
    are the feet of the messenger bringing good news,
Breaking the news that all’s well,
    proclaiming good times, announcing salvation

Related: See how the accident happened - I got in the paper and everything

Structuring enterprise social content teams

Choirs of angels. Buzzfeed have come up with a simple, ‘three content bucket’ structure for differentiating between types of social content: Buzz, Buzzfeed News, and Buzzfeed Life. 

When you talk about ‘social media’ in a company remember that everyone usually defaults to thinking about apps and short snacky type content like Facebook updates and tweets.  Buzzfeed call this Buzz or BuzzTeam for ‘socially-oriented, experimental content’. The thing about this type of content is that everyone enjoys working on it and massively overestimates both how good they are at it and the value it brings to the organisation. It’s important to have it in the mix for attraction and content distribution, but is also the most difficult to measure and can result in a lot of junk that doesn’t really do a lot. 

For most organisations, the Buzzfeed News part will form the earned (media relations, PR) arm of your content strategy. Things like live event or conference coverage, industry news, business results, new appointments, store openings and product announcements. Your blog or blog network should be the home base for this type of content on a company-owned online space.

Your Buzz social team will work with the news team to make the content more digestible and interesting to audiences through engaging headlines, attractive photos and updates through various social media channels like LinkedIn, YouTube, Twitter, Pinterest and Facebook. Skills like writing, video production, editorial and researching skills, as well as media relations and strategy are needed in the News area. 

Buzzfeed Life is the really new area where organisations need to pay more attention and resource up for client-side, branded media production. Buzzfeed say that their Life team has mainly grown out of success with Pinterest for ‘lifestyle content like parenting tips, recipes, or how-to guide’. You can adapt this to your organisation by thinking about how to better equip and help customers with case studies, maps, how-to videos, whitepapers, playbooks, recipes, budget advice, online calculators, restaurant reviews and inspiring photos.  People developing this type of content will be working more like a traditional ad agency. Depending on the size and structure of the organisation, you might also be making paid media decisions in here about placing Google ads, buying Twitter Cards, making and placing Facebook ads and YouTube sponsored content. 

The three all work together.  So if you are doing a new store opening you might have the Buzz team giving away branded vouchers and T-shirts that the Life team produced. The News team publish blog and vlog posts about some brand ambassadors who might be at the store getting photos with customers.  Paid ads produced by the Life team run on Instagram, Twitter and Facebook to promote the new store opening specials.  I know you're thinking 'that's cool for them but we are a boring government agency' but if you work backwards from how a customer or stakeholder might come across and consume your content you'll find it does make sense and the real challenge is getting teams of people who have flexible skills to work across different formats such as blogs, videos and social channels. Buzzfeed are also known for testing and measuring everything so there is also an analytics component to factor in. Most is done at an individual, content producer level and the teams are benchmarked with dashboards to deliver the most effective and shareable formats. 

Start small. Even getting teams that haven't worked together to agree on one hashtag can be a challenge at the start but take the tiny triumphs and try to keep the focus on News at the start as everyone will want to talk about and work on Buzz. Also, try and be realistic with Life content. You probably won't be able to produce a $5 million Samsung TVC in three hours on a $300 Go Pro. Learn to develop formats that you can make with your existing tools and that are sustainable. One simple how-to video per week is a lot more useful than one masterpiece that takes 12 weeks and soaks up hours and hours of time with meetings and sign-off because everyone wants to play movie director. LOL OMG CUTE.  Buzzfeed are awesome at this stuff and it works so learn from them and your content teams will probably enjoy working on projects a lot more too. 

Leading change -take me to your leader

I once had a very plain-speaking Australian operations manager call me into his office. 

He had overheard a conversation I had with the CEO about killing the Intranet and moving to a new, more collaborative enterprise social system. After the initial mocking about my accent, weird shoes, the number of empty coffee cups on my desk and a quick update on the performance of his racehorse, he got to the point. 

“I think you should know that…you know…he’s a manager, not a leader. He won’t make that decision. The real boss is in Singapore so either go and knock on his door or just get IT to put your new system in and cross your fingers they’ll do what you say and not ask too many questions.”

He was right. 

I’ve just been re-reading John P Kotter’s seminal article Leading Change: Why Transformation Efforts Fail:

“A paralyzed senior management often comes from having too many managers and not enough leaders. Management’s mandate is to minimize risk and to keep the current system operating. Change, by definition, requires creating a new system, which in turn always demands leadership. Phase one in a renewal process typically goes nowhere until enough real leaders are promoted or hired into senior-level jobs.”

If you read the full article you’ll see there are many other factors to consider (pretty sure I’ve ticked the fail box on all seven at some stage) but the manager’s response is always to protect the current system. I think it’s an important thing to think about because it might enable you to change tack and start throwing down some quick-wins like I got with the new system that went live by the end of the day. I would have wasted so much time writing reports and re-scoping and testing all sorts of other options that the CEO would never have said yes to.

Like you, I’m sure you can think of many times when you’ve tried to get people to make decisions and wondered why nothing was happening. You get responses like ‘write a report’, ‘show me some KPIs’, ‘who else is doing this- I need to see a working system’, ‘we’ll move towards it over the next 18 months’, ‘there is another project that covers this’, ‘we already looked at doing this last year’. 

You might be better to return to your coffee cup island wasteland in your weird shoes and come up with a new path over the mountain. 


Why reinventing the same social media applications is a very good idea

I just had a read of Paul Ford’s Medium article on email and while I agree, I think he’s highlighted one of the main things people get hooked up on with communication software.

What a product does is not the same as how it is used. 

It’s one of the big challenges I face with social media or collaboration software- trying to explain to people that there are many different ways to use a product and the importance of looking past the app as an individual consumer, to the social network behaviour and what it could do for you. It's the thing that most people missed with Instagram and their crappy little mobile app with hipster filters ugh who needs that? 

"A recent study by Forrester Research found that Instagram users were 58 times more likely to like, comment, or share a brand’s post than Facebook users and 120 times more likely than Twitter users. All data indicates that users are moving away from Twitter and Facebook and shifting their time to Instagram. This absolutely proves that Instagram is the best social and mobile platform for brands to reach audiences that are willing to engage. If you’re not marketing on Instagram, you’re missing out." 

200 million monthly actives apparently. 

About five years ago I presented to a local government organisation that a lot of their consultation and community-level activities could be done on this thing called Facebook with the functionality of Pages. 

At that time they were running about 60-70 static micro-sites (nobody really knew the exact number) and each was given between $5,000 and $20,000 per annum as a ‘web budget’. Centralised page admins could help the community groups and use Facebook product features to connect with people in real conversations and reduce the need for front end developers and designers. Long story short I was laughed at but now that same place has about 10 full-time social media employees and their main job is to manage Facebook Pages for community boards and groups. I spoke with one of the managers there recently and she said the main problem now is getting customers off Facebook,

“we have people who think the Internet is Facebook. We try and get them to click through to our website and get complaints for not making stuff available. Now we just put everything on Facebook”. 

Whatever your personal preferences, Facebook has excellent functionality for ease of use and community building and just using this part of the functionality is a big improvement for the organisation. How a large FMCG or retail brand uses Facebook is not how a 14 year old high school girl uses Facebook. How you use Twitter as a single end-user is not how a large government emergency operations centre uses Twitter in a natural disaster.  How Denny's uses Tumblr is just amazing and one of the best things in the world. 

Most social network software works best when you have real individuals having peer to peer communications. When you add multiple users to an account like community managers or brand marketers, it gets harder to create the individual experience for your customers. When you add timezone variations and brand names and product categories and languages, it gets even more complicated. So you need software and systems to hide the complexity from the customer. A single user in your organisation firing up an account and using it the same as a consumer is not a good, scaleable solution for your company.  You can’t measure anything or lead score or translate the data into real sales. People get frustrated with this idea because they don’t see why you can’t just use individual, consumer tools the same way for enterprise tasks. In most cases you sort of can. Take the common one of salespeople using their personal Outlook email accounts to send mass emails to their customers.  Open the email, BCC a message to your territory list and fire away. 

Meanwhile back at head office, the marketing team has an enterprise email system that schedules, tracks, optimises, and delivers the company email programme. Analysts run lead scoring software and test email headers and click rates and unsubscribes. Meetings are held with swizzy coloured graphs and pointy laser beams to try and generate a 1-2% increase in customer response.  See the difference?

Yes, it’s all email and in its purest form, it doing the same thing but trying to communicate one to many in a sales environment is different from a peer to peer consumer chat with your friend about holidays. 

A small change in interface design or metrics or API might be the difference between and organisation seeing the light on something and being able to use the tools to do something a lot better.  In some ways we probably are circling around the same things of email or lists or social but improving the way the products are communicated (the way that Mailbox did so successfully with their marketing launch and UX) hopefully will turn into smarter use and wider adoption of better tools.

Won't personal branding make our people vain little egotistical divas?

One of the  objections people have about personal branding and employee advocacy work in companies is a concern about creating superstars or divas. In its simplest form this is a practical ‘what if they leave’ thing which you can work on by building out a team and having good systems.

However, I find the idea the you will create a star culture ridiculous. Just look at the World Cup Final. I don’t really follow football so I sort of know about Argentina’s Messi and then there was the young German guy who scored the winning goal….what was his name again?As for the rest of the players in all the teams that participated across the tournament ¯\_(ツ)_/¯

Football players are superstars with endorsements and TV rights deals and PR and marketing machines thumping away at their personal branding and image. Still we may only know a handful of people in high interest areas such as our own country or individual players that we follow.  Do you seriously think that putting one of your sales support people on a blog post is going to create a star? Just because everyone in your company notices, it doesn't mean that customers will. Hang on, isn't that the real issue? Internal company face time and attention?

The real reason companies resist personal branding and advocacy is because it changes the rules of engagement inside the company and some people might feel that they have earned their place in the company or their right to speak as the Head of Digital at a marketing conference or to be featured in a management article. Another version of this is the manager who feels self conscious about appearing on a YouTube video or at an industry event so they project their own fears on to the project. 

Decentralising and democratising the public exchange of ideas in and outside a company presents risk for people who might not think they can compete at blogging, vlogging, LinkedIn network building or user group hosting. The rules of reward also change and a ‘nobody’ in a lower-level role in a small town sales office can start a Yammer thread that might solve a management problem. The smoke and mirrors of middle management sign-offs and who is actually doing what get cleared away and the grad can write three bullet points that solve why the paywall isn’t working.  The boring guy from accounts might know heaps about model airplanes and have an online community that also happens to use your products. That’s the main thing you want to listen for in an employee advocacy discussion: the person who doesn’t want to participate because ‘it’s not really me’ but they also don’t want to put any of their own team members forward because…. exactly, what’s the real reason? 

I also don’t buy the introvert versus extrovert thing because we all have natural strengths and development areas we have to work on. One of the top media relations people I know has spent years going to ToastMasters and public speaking and presenting courses just to be able to present to her own team in small meetings.  It’s an area she struggles with and she has to work a little harder than other people. In the same way you don’t get to say ‘oh look, I’m an extrovert so I don’t think I should have to do expense claims- that’s introverted behaviour’. Of course some people are going to be naturally better at it than others but don’t assume that it’s all gift, some people work really hard and put in a lot of hours in and outside of work learning new skills. If you start from the place that everyone is special and useful and has something to contribute but also, there is skill involved and people might have to do things outside their comfort zone for their own development then the discussion can stay more honest and grounded. 

Star culture or concerns about creating divas is not a real objection so throw that one out and focus on the benefits of a company that is open, connected, trusted and customer-centric. 

How do you make people feel culturally comfortable?

I heard an idea last week that I really liked and now I’m going to share it with you: culturally comfortable
Isn’t that great? Culturally comfortable. 

Father David (that's him in the photo) mentioned it in the context of Maori and Pakeha (non-Maori) in churches and how we should always try to create communities where different groups are welcome and celebrated. So it’s not about Maori churches or Pakeha churches (he speaks Maori and ministers in a lot of Maori communities) but making sure everyone feels comfortable in each other’s environments. 

Cultures and environments fascinate me in both a workplace and a wider society context. I can’t help but think we put a lot of emphasis on physical workplace environments nowadays and can kind of miss the pull that culture has. Anyone can go and buy some cool furniture and throw some toys around the place but are people actually using the stuff? I did a project for a very fancy investment firm once and they had beautiful harbour-view offices with architecturally designed coffee station perch things where people were meant to hang out and cross-pollinate and synergy with each other or something. After a few trips to the coffee stations I realised that 1. they were always super clean with no rubbish or spoons. 2.every time I walked to the coffee station I could feel hundreds of eyes watching me. 3. I was the only one using the coffee stations. The culture was competitive and clock-watchey. Any movement away from your cubicle was seen as slacking. People who took lunch breaks were weaker humans and it was duly noted by the hundreds of open plan office eyes that had me under surveillance. 

Physical environmental design had not conquered a paranoid culture and I was not culturally comfortable

How do people react when someone makes a mistake?

How do people react when someone has success?

Do people hang out and you know, actually like each other?

How do we make people feel that work is like home but also appreciate that they aren’t everyone and people are going to have different ideas about what ‘fun’ is and what ‘expensive’ is and what ‘Christmas party’ looks like?

Do the people who have been with the company for 25 years welcome the people who started this morning? What does ‘welcome’ look like? What does ‘welcome’ feel like?

I like this idea of ‘culturally comfortable’ because it recognises that not everyone is the same but everyone needs to be included and that there is a feeling to culture. 

How do you improve the cultural comfort of your home? 
How do you improve the cultural comfort of your workplace and communities?

How to make your landing page videos work on mobile

I’ve been trying to pay more attention to page speed and figuring out how things load on and that sort of thing lately. Generally, I haven’t bothered too much because I like simple things and work a lot on mobile so I just figured if I can upload something on a 3G connection, then someone else can probably download it. The more I've started learning, the more I realise that's not true and there's a bit more to it but there's one fashionable marketing technique that I would like to see killed with fire and possibly bees so long as the bees don't get burned in the fire because we need them to pollinate things. 

What gets me with a lot of brand work though (UX and marketing designers I’m looking at you) is that the high temple of page load fastness seems to go out the window when it comes to video. While the designers wail at me wanting to put an analytics tracking code into the page, dumping a hipster Vimeo player with a giant HD video file in there is no problem at all because… pretty. Look we all love Jony Ive and the Apple things but group-think generic stripping and bleaching out of everything doesn't make you a better designer. The genius of Apple design is understanding the user in context which is generally not a giant white room with mega screens and super fast internet connections.

Jony RU OK M8?
For example, a typical call to action from an email or social media lead generation card will send the user to a landing page with a snappy campaign headline and a button to start a free trial. All the elements are super well designed and fast and that’s all lovely. Then, a massive video player gets dumped in the middle of the page. 

As much as this Dropbox landing page looks nice there are three things you might want to thing about:

1. I have to play the video to find out what your new app or feature does. If I’m on mobile, I may not want to play the video yet or at all because I’m on a slow connection or just tapping away on a train. Please just explain to me in a couple of text bullet points what your new feature or app does. Note I said text, not a massive image to hold your text. Most people have never heard of your app or service. 

2. It’s the attention economy and you haven’t earned enough of my attention yet to justify a 90-second walk through video or customer story. I see this with a lot of smaller apps where they might get a shout out at a conference or a startup demo. You might want me to download or trial your product and I’m OK with giving you an email address for that. Getting my email address should be the priority and not video plays. I’m more likely to see you app mentioned again in my email and then you can use my lead for follow up emails and conversion. Send me the video link then if you want. 

3. If your video is cranked up to ridiculous-HD and I can’t turn it down this makes me sad. I generally run video on the lowest setting available because I want it to go fast. Sometimes I just want to hear the audio running and tab away until you say something interesting I need to see. For example, if I’m watching a Google Hangout, I turn it to the lowest quality (fastest speed) and leave it playing like a podcast and tab back. I do the same with livestreams and webcasts so I can do other things while the stream is running. In this scenario, when you app gets mentioned, directing me to a landing page with another video doesn’t really work. If your video keeps stuttering and buffering then obviously I’m going to click away, the same as for a slow web page. Make sure your player has quality settings that can be adjusted and remember that not everyone is sitting on a giant screen plugged into a satellite dish. 

I would much rather go for something like Dollar Shave Club as it contains more information. Even if I don’t watch the video, I can see what the product or service does, benefits and key features, pricing indication and customer testimonial. The Do It button provides a call to action and turns me from a window shopper into a paying customer or in a very least, a warm lead. 

Also, have a look at Facebook and Twitter lead generation cards and how much faster they can do the same job with simple elements on mobile

Designers probably spill their organic tea with horror at the thought but the landing page has a job to do, it’s not just there to look pretty and provide a backdrop for a cool video that I'll never watch on mobile. 

Why marketers need to learn about cloud computing

Once a man with a fat stomach and impressive beard told me that one day, the Microsoft Word application I was using to write my uni essay with would be delivered as a hosted application over the internet. 

“The application won’t be installed on your computer. It will run on a big server somewhere and you will be able to do all the same things through Netscape Navigator.” Wow. 

That was hard to imagine in a dial-up world and while the streaming comets of Netscape Navigator may no longer be with us, 15 years on we’re still trying to get our head around this cloud computing business. 

I’ve spent a lot of time in conferences and reading whitepapers about this stuff in recent times and while my level of bamboozlement is going down slowly- there is still bamboozlement. As soon as you think 'yes I am very smart and I'm all over it' you'll wander into a nerd analyst corner and realise you have no idea what any of them are saying. 

It’s super important that marketers learn as much as they can about cloud computing because, as we’ve discussed before, many of the practical applications of big data require new tools and processes, so you’ll need to make informed choices about the best way to approach things.  I’ve found the best way is just to let things wash over you as much as possible and don’t worry too much about what you don’t know. 

For example, you’ll see reports talking about SaaS and PaaS and IaaS and be all:

But just scribble that down to go and find out later and you’ll figure it out. For me, making the comparison with electricity really helps. So when I think about IaaS (Infrastructure as a Service) I think about big power grids delivering electricity to my house. Those are the data centres that you’ll hear people talking about.  My blog Posthaven is hosted on Amazon Web Services so the developer Garry Tan at Y Combinator, pays Amazon Web Services a monthly amount for the infrastructure of hosting the Posthaven application in a data centre. I pay for the software (Software as a Service) $5 a month to Posthaven. It starts to make sense. 

Facebook is currently trying to convince everyone that their web-based application (SaaS) is actually a PaaS (platform as a service) so that more people will build applications that run on Facebook like payments and games apps. The new Facebook tagline has changed from ‘move fast and break things’ to ‘move fast with stable infra’ - a clear nod to the IaaS big power grids part of the equation. A lot of other companies like Salesforce are pushing hard on this ‘we are a platform’ message so you’ll hear a lot more about that with sensors and connected devices that ‘talk’ to the platform. 

Discussions often switch around between SaaS and PaaS and IaaS which can make it confusing. For example, in the Gartner 'Magic Quadrant for Cloud Computing" doc I’ve just been reading it says:

“When people think about "cloud computing," cloud IaaS is often one of the first things that comes to mind. It's the "computing" in cloud computing — on-demand compute, storage and network resources, delivered on-demand, in near-real-time, as a service.”

I think from a marketing and communications point of view, we probably think about SaaS first -I can access as a web-hosted application through the browser or I can install a client on my computer or mobile phone like TweetBot. Just me?  So when you go to a cloud computing presentation from a retail bank the CTO might stand up and talk about private, public and hybrid cloud with a focus on security. Then, you go to a startup session and people are talking about users moving to the cloud and being able to access information in realtime.  It’s quite a different thing so try and get that clear in your head at the start—what are they talking about and how are they approaching this? Are they talking about me paying a monthly fee to turn on the switch and get electricity to my house or are they talking about what type of pylons are the best to deliver the electricity to the houses?

If that’s still a bit confusing the main question I often have to stop and ask people is “hang on, are we talking about hardware or software?” (which sounds like a really simple question but you’ll be surprised how many people can’t actually answer that very well-especially when you're talking about hybrid cloud) and try and strip it back to basics. Is this an application that runs on Facebook? Can it run as a stand-alone? What's the difference between the web-based app and the mobile app? You’ll get answers like ‘we offer a complete, end-to-end solution’ which is nice but doesn’t help your understanding so don’t be afraid to ask derp questions because there’s a lot of new things happening all the time. Whatever you do, don’t think that cloud computing is an IT thing and ‘we have men with impressive beards who do that' because the more you can understand the better. It would also help if said nerds took the time to learn more about marketing and then you would all win the future in a spirit of understanding and mutual smartyness but that’s probably another post ;)

image credit Allie Brosh

Why can I not find anything on Facebook?

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What Twitter is really good at: Pope stalking

The ability for users and advertisers to find things on social networks is pretty important and Facebook is terrible at it. I can never find things on Facebook which makes me question their advertising models and limits how I use them as part of brand communication. Let me show you an example. 

Last night, I saw a mainstream media org tweet this photo of Pope Francis at the separation wall dividing Israel from the West Bank and I thought 'wow something historically significant and awesome is happening and I want to see more'. 

Straight away I could go to Pope Francis' official page on Twitter and see what other organisations covering the visit were saying, plus the hashtag to follow. 

I wanted to share one of these images on my Facebook so I went to search for 'Pope Francis' and 'Pope Francis news'. 

Which one was his official page? None of them looked legit and I couldn’t see any up to date photos either from news orgs or private users. So I went to Google Plus. I could search for hashtag #PopeFrancis and find details of his tour from official news orgs like Al Jazeera. No images of the Pope at the wall there, or in Google News yet. No images from private users that I could find. 

So then I went to Tumblr. I could search for #PopeFrancis and find images taken earlier in the day I hadn’t seen yet of him at the River Jordan where Jesus was baptised. 

That’s pretty great, none of the wall images I was looking for yet but he did the river thing before the wall thing so I figured those were coming. I went to Instagram and couldn’t search on the desktop app so that was the end of that because I couldn’t be bothered looking for my phone.

Back to Twitter and then more images started streaming from the wall and the Bethlehem Mass. I wondered what Pope Francis was talking about to the large crowd? Again, Twitter had the answer Luke 2 1-14 children and the family live tweeted by news orgs and people in the crowd on the hashtag. Plus this great image with Jesus looking all 'listen to this guy about the peace and the unity please I've been talking about this for 2000 years... hey Jorge your hat is coming off' in the background. 

By then, the wall images that originally triggered my search were coming through on Tumblr. Still nothing I could find up to date or useable on Facebook.

Twitter is really, really good at news and real-time stalking of people whether they are Popes or Pope watchers in the crowd. The search has greatly improved and Facebook just can't keep up with this functionality for some reason (although in theory, it should be able to?). Tumblr search has improved a lot in the last 12 months even if the desktop page load lag is starting to get ridiculous- the mobile search is great. Every time I go through this little trying to follow news events on Facebook trick, it comes up really short (the royal baby name announcement was another one I couldn't seem to follow) and it makes me question how they are curating and measuring audiences for paid placement. I've said it before that both Google and Microsoft should never be underestimated in enterprise social, due to Microsoft's past (and arguably current) enterprise dominance, and Google's superior search skills. I can't ever seem to find anything on Facebook and if they want to compete on brand and news, they really need this part to work with Bing or whatever else they use. Twitter still wins at real-time.