Andrew Breese

Infrequent thoughts of a professional geek

Category Archives: Social Media

Well folks seem to like (bad) PM haiku

I tweeted* a project management haiku recently and my twitter traffic went through the roof – well as through the roof as a change from zero tweets to one tweet can create. I think this is part of the reason why social media carries so much weight – it pays into the stimulation response we get from having something seen and quasi-appreciated.

Like a good doggie, I’ll do it again shortly and see if I get another biscuit**.

Lets not plan for giving up the project manager day job, as it would mean no more snarky tweets about being a PM and I’m under no illusion as to the amount of banter and wind already through into the digital wind

* I really dislike that word as a verb relating to posting content online. Birds should keep this word to themselves, and rise up in feathery rebellion against the human’s technology. Like a Planet of the Apes spoof where all they do is poop on our tablets and eat the phone lines. Rebellion! It is what it is, and the word won’t be changed till twitter dies.

** Yup, it’s Friday down here and I’m feeling tired and strange. Back to the geeky blog posts shortly.


Which reader post Google? Feedly wins

I’ve done the digging and reading (previous post), and I think it is darn hard to find a better offering than Feedly to replace Google’s Reader. It has a few niggling interface drawbacks, but I have not had he service miss a step since starting, and the others that I’ve tried have all had issues on up-time, or do not offer a comparable feature-set. Feedly wins.


Current Google Reader users have till end of June, then their world ends (cue dramatic thunderclap)

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Aus Gov Loses Online Privacy Alert Data in Snailmail

45,000 Facebook passwords stolen by Ramnit wor...

A package of user data which included usernames and passwords for the Stay Smart Online website was lost sometime after 11 April, due to a package being lost in the post.

Just a thought: News like this can hurt the folks involved, please be aware the screw-ups happen. I’d say after a health does of “what in hell” the people involved might learn a huge amount about how the simplest mistakes can bring down all the best intentions. AusCert is a not-for-profit group that (very likely) has the interests of the internet community at its heart.

However, a sane person could not make up this screw-up…

You see, the DBCDE was in the process of switching contractors that handled the alert system and needed the information transferred from the one to the other. Someone, somewhere, made the brilliant decision to burn usernames, email addresses, hashed passwords, and password reminders to a DVD for easy transport. Can’t trust the tubes of the web, after all, as there be hackers out yonder. The contractor, AusCERT (information security experts), then sent it via the Australia Post.

Pardon me while I pick up my jaw. Beyond the worry is not a small amount of irony, not so much because of Stay Smart’s tagline but because AusCert should know better.

Stay Smart Online — The Australian Government’s cybersecurity website provides information for Australian internet users on the simple steps they can take to protect their personal and financial information online.

AusCert — is the premier Computer Emergency Response Team (CERT) in Australia and a leading CERT in the Asia/Pacific region. AusCERT operates within a worldwide network of information security experts to provide computer incident prevention, response and mitigation strategies for members and assistance to affected parties in Australia.

I mean no disrespect when I say I hope the damn DVD was encrypted. The list of users were those who wished to be subscribed to the government’s privacy breach alert system. Ahem. Read more of this post

What to do if SOPA Passes?

The online piracy act is one of a few sets of legislation being worked out in the USA at the moment. If you’ve come across sites blacked out with SOPA written on them, they are protesting against it.

Fundamentally the proposals are seeking to inhibit distribution of copyrighted material, using a really vague set of criteria which will have the flow on effect of blacklisting many sites which are totally legit.

Satire, critical review, freedom of speech, poorly conceived internet memes,  and happy snaps with brands in the background will all be open for turn down. Worse – the companies which host the material (Facebook, youTube, WordPress, etc…) will face legal challenges. You as the user will suffer.

Its a cluster-fuck of an idea. Sorry for the language, but – that is how impressively stupid this concept is.

I think the idea of censoring the internet is a joke as it will irritate everyone, have major impacts on businesses and individuals, and not protect against piracy. Oh, what, wait – you think it will help? Really?

Then shut up and read.

How to ignore the legislation once passed:

Step One – find a country with far more free ideas for information distribution. There are heaps. China rings a bell, but they’ve got their own Internet firewall issues, and we all know that China is Un-American. Instead try any country in Europe, perhaps Sweden, or some such. Anywhere that thinks Wikileaks is OK will probably be fine.

Don’t even bother trying Australia, our media ownership rules are so borked that we’re likely to just turn the internet off instead of apply some common sense. And we’re 10,000 miles away from anything fun too.

Actually try somewhere that also offers private bank accounts – they’re bound to be dodgy enough to stick it to the USA’s new laws.

Step Two – purchase a dedicated VPN service to a provider in that country. Its anywhere from $10 to $5 per month. And when the entire population of the USA can’t watch YouTube the prices will drop due to massive competition. In 6 months you’ll pay $25 to US$30 for a Year subscription.

How do I know the price will drop? Look at the pricing of Internet bandwidth in the USA. Actually don’t, keep concentrating on this.

Step Three – reconnect to the new Internet, and all your traffic cannot be traced back to you via your ISP, and the countries which thought you were American or whatever, now only know that you come from some tin-pot country where the Internet is still free.

Thats it. Re-open what ever you were doing, and keep sharing. I’m sure a new will be started shortly, and we’ll all be posting junk there in no time.

Net effect = lots of irritation. Loss of revenue. Loss of jobs. Less freedom. More lawsuits. Same allowance for piracy. Same downloads from dodgy places.


Now go type “SOPA” into Google and learn how to make your voice heard. Soon you may not be able to.

Looking forward to the end of social

I’m really looking forward to the end of social everything. Gluing a social tag to everything is gradually killing my desire to engage with this movement anymore. It is getting tired very quickly. Social might finally be nudged out by the cloud* shortly, or perhaps by the next buzz word. I hope it is soon.

Now don’t get me wrong – I’m pro-social, I really like what social awareness and open dialogs can do for businesses, there is a definite reason to get involved, and value that can be returned in both satisfaction and money. It is worth doing well, especially if it can be well resourced. It just feels like the ground swell of understanding is at that sickly sweet spot where we all understand the basic idea, the complex aspects are gaining ground, but our terminology has not evolved enough to create effective new terms. We’re in hype and I’m not a fan of hype.

To me it seemed to all start with the “x“, that frustrating butchering of English to give us X-treme products (graphics cards, motherboards, and wind surfers). Branding and marketing hell. Then somebody discovered that “e” was under utilised. e-phone, e-pc, … all rolled forward through the brightly coloured infomercials. The end of the “e” product was too shortly followed by the “i” products. The iphone led the charge, and we were swimming in a much wider array of offerings which sought to hook in to the hype. I barely got my hands on a laptop before the next generation added a different leading character of the alphabet, and a new swirl and lens flare affect which made my older unit seem rather outdated.

We saw digital become web 2.0, which then created and then smashed expectations for some businesses. The DotCom (why on earth is it spelt out?) era trained the public to be skeptical, but I think some folks have forgotten the pain of the past.

I cannot help but feel that the first tech bubble will be a doddle to what happens when the stock market actually realises what value Facebook can actually offer to investors – some values floating around are in the $84 to $100 billion. That is just too much money for an application which can be devalued by changes in public perception (like the anti Facebook folks), a few service delivery or privacy issues, or some strong competition from the likes of Google+ (or should that be written as GooglePlus). Think about that figure – more than the GDP of 22 countries akin to Vanuatu as one company. Really? No hype at all?

It has gotten to the point where the tag social is added to almost everything in an attempt to prove that somehow the offerings are current and valid. If you have a media company these days you have to be shunting social into your tags to get the right rankings. That in turn provides a positive feedback loop where attention goes where the money is spent, and we feed the banter as much as the organisations who have capacity to deliver. However having social debunked as a buzzword will mean that when it is used it will be useful. It is like when the term integration replaced innovation many years ago. A snazzy tech start-up would have to include these terms in their website so that they were perceived as competent. In those days it was just required, but after a while it said very little. Who would own up as not being innovative? Now we look for the specific methods, forms, and technologies used in the integration before deciding if the organisation is useful.

Lets get back to talking about what can be done, what has been done, and talk through the actual value. This blog might have a bloody tiny readership but I do not think I am alone as a professional working in around social and the other popularist buzzwords, who are sick of trying to deconstruct or interpret what an offer might be because a buzzword has been applied.

  • Is it a social campaign, or a campaign which uses a range of technology and media? And why?
  • Is it actually a cloud solution, or a distributed scalable hosting solution? And why?

Look at actual capacity to deliver a return, stability and breadth of experience, and knowledge and passion for continuing to effect change. If anything the term I think has most resonance for me in recent years is disruption.

The desire to disrupt the way we were doing business or talking to customers & consumers. The acceptance of the disruption as a normal part of the flow; and the planning around how we deal with that ongoing flow in the short to long term. When you embrace an level of disruption you are accepting that change will occur outside your normal comfort areas. It changes the way we think, as planning becomes tactically adaptive as well as projected strategically (yes, more buzzwords).

There is value in what social is both forcing and bringing to us as a culture – and I think that value has always been present but rather hidden, somewhat low key. But we now have a way (via new apps, bandwidth, and awareness) to expand our reach and potential influence, and with that organisations are changing to suit too. It is mostly positive, and hopefully we have some other diverse terms to share with each other, so that the events can be classified and understood as more than just social.

I just need to get to one of these groovy breakfast/brunch catch-ups more regularly; perhaps the project budget will extend a little…sideways.

Happy socialising folks, may all your launch events be catered.

*Cloud is another great tech term that means a slight change in technology, but is more a change in perception of delivery, rather than a revolution or true innovation…perhaps for another time.

Web Video Content Stats

Clickers YouTube Nation image

Found via LifeHacker, some stats on the percentages of what is uploaded as video to the internet. I’d say this is typical, but probably needs to be more granular in the categories, but I can see how adding more category types might make the distribution more open to speculation. That said, the demographic breakdown is actually darn good, and I can see this being very useful in marketing and communications circles.

Best thing I like here is the tagline – YouTube Nation. Indeed we are, and who doesn’t like some graphics?

The source article is by Killian from Clicker, with a great selection of breakdown information.

CEO highlights the use of Personas in Online Marketing

I was really pleased to read the Grays Online CEO blog about the use of Personas in helping to guide and direct their marketing strategy. After many years of getting funny looks from business people about why an imaginary person is useful for determining who the audience is, and what strategies will resonate within the target customers – this is wonderful to see.

Yes folks – you create an imaginary set of people who represent the audiences you wish to both capture and avoid, so that you can test ideas and strategies against how those personas might react. It is simple and effective.

“personas” look to be a very effective component of marketing strategy and used by 40% of major US e-commerce companies. Personas are representatives of your buyer database that you use to develop strategies to market to. Most companies develop 3 or 4 personas that represent their major buyer segments. I’m looking forward to developing the Grays personas. I’ll put them up here to see if anyone recognises themselves! – Cameron Poolman.

I think a website the scale and complexity of Grays Online would need more than 3-4 personas in total, and 4 is a good starting number which will probably become more specialised as the team get into the concepts and drill further into who and why folks are buying. A counter point to having many different personas is the trap of creating too many, where you end up with such a diverse field of needs that no single action can be gauged as good or bad. In that scenario just scale it back, make them more general, or develop sub-groups within the broad personas for specific different areas.

For example there might be a personas which is a typical corporate wine buyer (Jamie, 38, office-desk bound finance officer, married with one child, living in Glen Waverly), but the team know that the wine buyer is actually up to four different personas, each with subtly different needs. Four different wine personas is useful when talking through the wine sales strategies, but poor when considering the Cars & Tractor market. So keep “Jamie” as the generic wine person who sits at the high level, and let him nudge overall views, but not really factor into the Car and Tractor discussions too much.

As an aside the style of communication on the CEO blog is nicely toned. It comes across as if it really was written by Cameron himself, and that he is personally invested in the goals of the business and also his customers. Now I’m willing to bet that this is because he is actually passionate and doing it himself, but that is really a side from the point: Grays have nailed the tone of a CEO blog for a website like theirs.

Kudos to Cameron Poolman for speaking so openly in a blog, and he’s been doing that for longer than some companies have had CEO blogs (since June 2009). Go read, it is refreshing and he makes far more points openly about what/why Grays is up to.

By way of disclosure: to make it clear I am not in any way associated with Grays professionally, but I am a quasi-regular customer; if this blog post reads like an ad then it is just because I think they are doing a good job over there.

Guest blog at Areeba – End of Social media?

Recently posted another guest post upon Areeba’s blog; this time talking about what will happen when the social media buzz ends, we’ve all accepted the learning, and social media is just like anything else in our activity.

A touch of foreshadowing, liberally mashed up with memes, and then mixed with a dash of humour.

The blog post is called “What will happen when social media is just like every other media?” unsurprisingly.

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