May 17

2013 Week 11

Mar 9th through to Mar 15th

Behind, behind, behind. I do so much typing at work I get home and I do nothing but read. Input vs output. What is best. So what was I reading?

Reading

  • Social Media Sustainability Index – a look at how big companies are using their social media presence to communicate their sustainability credentials. The challenge is how you communicate a complex and intertwined set of initiatives using platforms that are, by the nature, usually a place for short attention spans
  • Engagement Rate – a metric you can count on.. An argument from Social Bakers, one of the leading social metrics companies, about how their Engagement Metric is one you should consider. The word engagement is used extensively and different people use different meanings but a RATIO is far more useful than the raw numbers from Facebook
  • The difference between strategy and tactics. by Jeremiah Owyang. For many a difficult thing to get. As I’m currently looking for a new strategist, a pertinent question.
  • Why the Comms Agency Model is Ripe for disruption by Drew Benvie. Perfectly placed as Drew launched his new agency, but valid questions to ask
  • The science of Junk Food Lovely long read in the NYT on how junk food takes a lot of science to get right.

Doing

Feb 11

2013 Week 6

Where’s it going. the diary clicks forward day by day and the year creeps forward. Week 6, that’s over 10% gone already.

Reading

  • A Primer on the US TV business. A great rundown on all the different players in the US TV market. Even if you don’t agree, what they are doing impacts the rest of the world.
  • Miller Lite, NASCAR and Brad Keselowski – how a off-hand tweet from a car led to a focus on social media for the brand and increased access for the fans.
  • Hashtags and the Superbowl. Did Twitter win the Superbowl marketing, or was it just the hashtags, which are multiplatform
  • Richard III confirmed! . The Channel 4 TV programme was depressingly light on the science, preferring to focus on the ‘personal journey’ of Philippa Langley and not painting her in the most flattering light. The Leicester Uni site fills on some of the gaps. The forums of the Richard III society also make interesting reading.
  • Microsoft Research India are running a very interesting experiment in India, using mobile to understand social platform usage, collaboration and organising processes in a country with minimal internet access
  • Applebee’s Social Media Meltdown. I have no idea what went wrong at Applebee’s, (I’m guessing they’ll blame an intern at some point), but they fundamentally forgot a few basic rules about social media and getting into pointless arguments!
  • Something that totally rings true to me – Social Media influencers are not really on Facebook. Yes, they’ll have accounts, but they’re active in ‘long-form’ as well as status updates. The article mentions how ‘brand marketers are using comScore/Nielsen to identify influencers’ which doesn’t work for niches. We do a lot of audits and detailed searches, with a few weeks of monitoring before we produce influencer lists. not as simple as going to a single ‘list’ but we make sure we understand who are are talking to.
  • Why Moshi Monsters works. Liking this look back on the Moshi Mosnter success

Doing

  • I went to see Old Times at the theatre, with Kristin Scott Thomas, Rufus Sewell and Lia Williams, Having not read up on the play before hand, just noting that there was a mystery about the interpretation, spent a lot of the time trying to work out the premise. I decided they were ghosts, in some way, but that’s not one of the ‘official’ explantions.
  • Visited the ‘London Gin Club‘ for the first time, with some colleagues. There was disappointment that there was only 1 martini on the menu, as it’s basically a Gin and Tonic bar. We tried one of their taster flights. Good gin, interesting venue, needed one more person working as service was slow.
  • Thursday night was spent at the IPG Inter-Agency quiz night. 9 rounds (there was supposed to be 10, but they couldn’t get the music to work), of all sorts of love/Valentine’s related questions. Including the final round which was all about naming positions from the Kama Sutra. Some issues over questions being wrong (due to poor search ability), but a good fun evening. Even better – we WON! Well, we got second, but we still WON…tickets to see Maroon 5 at the O2. 🙂
  • Finally, did section 2 of the LOOP – Bexley to Petts Wood. Pictures are on Flickr

Walk the LOOP 2 - Bexley to Petts Wood

Feb 03

2013 Week 5

So that’s one month down, 11 to go. January, the month of resolutions and changes; a month of waiting for payday as Christmas and a usual early December payday take their toll. How was it for you?

Reading

  • Article from the New York times on quiet coaches. Totally agree with this, that it is a last bastion of quiet. And people just don’t get it!
  • In this Forbes article, transmedia storytelling is “a larger universe of characters and settings that keep the fantasy consistent across multiple forms of media, including comic books, websites and videogames” and the work includes spendign a year writing the story behind the 30 second ad that is Coke’s Happiness Factory in order to spin it out. Nice work, but that’s transmedia storytelling is probably not the description that most practitioners would use!
  • Unilever continue to push on the sustainability front, making it far more a core part of their business rather than a thing they say. I’ve been in talks by Unilever about using social to drive recruitment – and sustainability was front and centre in their talk, so they include it everywhere. Marketing Week reports on their second phase as they start using brands in their Sustain Ability Challenge
  • I’ve seen The Hacker’s Diet getting a lot of recommendations for being a no-nonsense guide to working out the best way of dieting. I’m working my way through this and it’s pretty good.
  • We spend a lot of time explaining to clients why various Facebook posts behave the way they do…and then Facebook change the algorithm and we have to change again. This article on Edgerank changes by Thomas Baekdal is one of the more interesting I’ve seen
  • This is more of a list of things to read rather than something I’ve read yet. But a list of 102 Best Non-Fiction articles of 2012, compiled by Conor Friedersdorf is great.

Doing

  • I took the plunge and bought some new running shoes, going to a specialist shop and getting my gait assessed on a treadmill with video. Picked up a nice light pair of Brooks trainers and so far they’ve been great. My exercise programme hit a small snag at the start of the week, with a cold grabbing hold of me, but back onto it by the end. The results for month 1 have been great. My running is coming along, my diet changes have been pretty strightforward and I’ve lost 12 lbs in that time. Expecting month 2 to be slower on losses, but will continue to consolidate habit changes.
  • I was a last minute addition to a work ‘outing’, at the European Sponsorship Awards. The work with UPS over the Olympics had been nominated for both the Business to Business and the Business to Employee categories and we ended up taking home a highly recommended for the B2B work.
  • Final outing to the week was to catch up with an ex-team member, with all the rest of the team. I’d still not fully recovered from the cold so did not stay long, but brilliant to catch-up with Mona
Jan 27

2013 Week 4

Reading

  • A list of the 33 most creative women in advertising. (Why 33, no idea!). I’ve worked with one (Colleen DeCourcy) and have loved the work of the others. Women make up only 3% of creative directors in this male-dominated industry, but there are slow moves to change this
  • The US PGA enforcing bans on reporters using social media on the course – at a time when they are expanding their usage. Confusing messages for fans of a sport
  • Coke’s view of mobile. Some great learning here. Somethings I’m continuously saying to the teams at work – everything has to be considered mobile first, you can’t use the can’t use it standalone and you have to think integrated, both within a single campaign and across all your campaigns. that is, don’t build an app for every new campaign, think how you will fit them all together over the months and years.
  • Thinking about Twitter competitions and best practice for running them. Some helpful legal guidelines came up about running promotions.

Doing

  • Work wise, the week was fairly quiet. We had training for the new format in reviews and I started to prepare stuff. We had some feedback on a pitch and need to do some more stuff. (keeping it deliberately vague). I got involved in a quick turnaround project that needs some designs/content for early next week. Keeping my fingers crossed for that one!
  • We had a visit from the group CEO, who was recently appointed. He’s making his way round the various offices to see what the different companies do. Of course, this meant a quick tidy up all the office! But we didn’t do any decorating 🙂
  • Gym attendance was good this week – 4 sessions done. Had a second go at Pilates and decided that I like it and will keep going. Also had my first go at spin, but that won’t be continuing, as my legs don’t suit the pedals, it locks my feet in the wrong position, causing pain! To continue with training, I went and got some proper running shoes as well, which should minimise issues
  • Dinner out with friend this week at J Sheekey. A great meal – and we’re committed to dining out more often as part of our 2013 changes
Jan 10

Paul and the Mont Ventoux

In September 2012, my bother-in-law Paul flew out with 2 friends to tackle the challenge of Mont Ventoux – climbing the mountain 3 times on 3 different routes in 1 day. The night they arrived, off out for a ride, he got knocked off his bike by a truck. He was airlifted off out, with a blood-clot on the brain that left him in a coma for 3 days. Worse, it completely destroyed his shoulder – even after operations, nerve transplants and reconstructive surgery, he still has no use of the arm.

But he’s not letting that stop him finish his challenge. He’s planning to go back in July this year and complete it. He’s got a support for the arm and is currently tackling the problem of safely connecting the arm to the handlebars, so is looking for advice for that and he’s started back into training!

Article in this week’s Express and Star (not online for some reason)

Oct 19

Playful: Siobhan Reddy and Making New Things

Makes console games for a living. Talking about making new things. The trials and tribulations. Why do we make new things? How do we choose what we like and where does that come from. Our taste develops though life. Things that were big when younger may not be stuff you like now. But they helped form you. We make games because we get inspired, we want people to experience what we have made and be touched them. Every game made by someone who has set out a creative goal at some point.

At Molecule, we make creative games. That is our mission. But where did it come from. Not a focus test; not from predicting trends. It came from the people and their likes and needs. Little Big Planet, made because when younger the designer made things – he wanted to create things where people can create. When you make something from that personal place you can make something that can have a lot more impact, be unique. We make things because we have to.

Last year, we moved away from LBP, and started to make a new game with a second team. Called Tearaway. It’s a delivery adventure through a papercraft world. It encourages you to interact. And can build in the real world too. (Due out next year)

Learnt 3 things on the journey. When doing something new need to have personality and conviction. The project was not financially driven. It was creative. It was a personal thing to let one of the team create own world. There were many rabbit holes in the development. Took wrong turns. Too big, or did not work well etc. Started off with ideas they loved. Added to them, kept adding. Lost way slightly and therefore lost some confidence. They could have listened to lots of advice and different opinions. But they decided to strip back all of the noise, take it back to the original stuff that got them excited. They focused on the pure game design. It sounds simple, but it is so easy to get pushed off path and go down the safe route.

Second was about Finding the Jam. This was about how they behaved. In early stages, a development team acts like a band. They jam together. Tey need everyone to bring their passion and skills and share with everyone. You need to create an environment where that can happen. You need the right people – and remove the wrong ones. Bands having tension and this can be positive. Try not to freak out when there is tension, that is normal. They had all worked together, but it was a new structure with a different goal. YOu need to make sure that people are not attacked, but flipside to tension is creativity. Hardest moments as team were the moments before we stripped down the design. We now still argue, but it’s working through problems etc. Now it is all happening. Finding the jam was a journey.

Third was the Beautiful Abyss. she loves jumping into the creative abyss, starting something new. You need curiosity and excitement to do it, as you never know if it will work it or not. You need to have faith and believe what is being created will be great. There will people and companies who don’t take risks, how can you be the one who takes the risks. You need to back talented and creative people and find ways to let their creativity and personalities shine through. Main learning…We Just Have To! Don’t be afraid of audiences, of trying things.

Oct 04

SMWLDN: Social approach to engaging current and prospective employees

My second session at Social Media Week London was organised by Unilever and took a look at their work in using a social to employee engagement. There were 4 separate sections to this; a look at employee feedback mechanisms, recruitment, graduate recruitment and flexible working. Each was presented by a different set.

A social approach to employee surveys – Michael Silverman

  • Usually, providing feedback is boring. there’s too many numbers, not enough open questions. It’s a corporate black hole – where does the information go?
  • To activate the ‘wisdom of crowds’ – which is sort of what employee feedback is – then 4 conditions need to be met. Diversity. Independence. Decentralisation. Aggregation. Surveys are by their nature anti-social. This Unilever project looked at making feedback social. they used a consultancy called Silverman (run by an ex-Unilever employee)
  • When it comes to social media, with reviews etc, linear lists have problems. There is information overload, there’s high diversity, and ratings are primitive. There are linguistic techniques to extract meaning but this information is more powerful when you add structured data.
  • The projects worked to build models to allow visualisation of opinions and attitudes, mapping users by opinions about how close they were. They allowed users to rate others answers, to allow a consensus to appear. Some of the studies were anonymous, others had identified people.
  • In another project, they looked at organisational network analysis, based on social network analysis. What were the clusters of relationships. Did this inform opinions and attitudes. (they used Socilyzer). This brought together attitudinal and relationship data
  • Finally, the Social Media Garden (pdf) project to crowd-source research into barriers that prevent the organisational adoption of social media
  • The slides from the event

Looking at adoption of social media Natalie Nahai, Web Psycholgist

  • Social media satisfies the human need to connection and communications. Measuring usage can provide a measure of intimacy and influencer of relationships. More many, social media can be a key to self-esteem. In organisations, it can engender a sense of belonging; it can reflect the org culture
  • 56% of youth would refuse to work if access to social media was banned. 24% make access to social media a condition of accepting a job
  • The risks are known – controllability, the need for transparency and accountability, how it can result in power shifts.
  • To get adoption in a organisation, there needs to be a motivation, it needs to be interesting. You need to think about cultural cahnge, about reward and engagement and how it can be intrinsic to the job.
  • The Slides

In general, the quick interlude was all about social tools and happiness/games (eg see this presentation by Jane McGonigal)

Talent Acquisition. Paul Maxin. Global Resourcing Director

  • the recruiting landscape is changing. With social media, everyone is is a recruiter.. There are changes in experience, in services offered.
  • Recruitment in Unilever links back to their business objectives. Double the revenue. Halve the carbon footprint (sustainability). They don’t have a separate digital and strategy to help drive this, it’s all connected.
  • The recruitment process impacts the business. 53% of those with a bad recruitment experience are less inclined to buy good from the organisation. For a company like Unilever, that’s a lot of products that could be impacted. 75% will share their bad experience with friends (and influence them)
  • The recruitment world has moved. from Broadcast to Conversation. From Attract to Nurturing. From Corporate to Human. From Formal to Frictionless. From Careers Site to an Ecosystem.
  • You need to leverage the right channels. They have evolved to an engagement-based approach. They have 260k followers on LinkedIn, 90k on Facebook.
  • Facebook (Unilever Careers)is one page – used for all countries. They use country specific apps (Buddy Media) and have consistent content.
  • Linked In. They are building in specific calls to action, getting employees to activate as well.
  • They use lots and lots of data analysis to improve engagement.
  • The slides

A look at Graduate recruitment Klazien van Vliet

  • There is a lot of competition for Graduates amongst FMCG companies . How do Unilever differentiate?
  • They have big brands, sustainability, global reach. So do their competitors. So Unilever think their differentiator is the people and the work environment. But this is difficult to bring to life in advertising; this is where social media helps.
  • They use glassdoor.com to help this. Glassdoor approached them, with information about all the searches that are being done around Unilever., how it followed patterns looking at them and competitors. They decided to work with glassdoor around branded content, about working in the company. Added testimonials, videos etc. Most important was the reviews around the company.
  • In return, they get lots of data about what people are looking at, how they behave on the site. It’s not a volume driver, but it is a self-assessment tool. It helps people see if they really do want to work with Unilever and acts as a initial screener.
  • The slides

How social media can help with Agile Working – Jacobina Plummer

  • You used to need to be at work in order to do work. Now there is maximum flexibility, minimal constraints. You can work anytime, anywhere.
  • Agile working is critical for Unilever as it enables their global operating framework; supports the sustainability agenda; provides cost savings; helps them a #1 workplace
  • They looked at practices, workplaces and technology, They made sure their focus was on growth rather than cutting costs.
  • To support agile working, they use external Twitter – eg for snow days etc. They use internal Yammer and they have a collaboration space. It allows better collation, faster decision making; work arbitrage and a greater cultural understanding and diversity.
  • The slides

There is a video of the whole event made available from Unilver

Sep 04

London 2012: Handball

Another new sport – HANDBALL. Which is completely insane. This is like water polo on land – lots of ‘accidental’ collisions and elbows and pushes and all that. A pretty violent sport. And hard work, as they need volunteers to clean the floor every now and again, as the umpire sees a particular damp patch from sweat. Or blood!

London 2012 Handball

I got reasonable seats, pretty close to the action at one end. But they were behind the protective netting – so photos weren’t brilliant!. But plenty close enough to see all of the pushing and showing.

The handball took place in the Basketball Arena, although previously it had been in the Copper Box. As the matches got closer to the final, I’m guessing they upped the capacity. One thing about the Basketball Arena is that it’s at the other end of the Park from the main entrances. I’d followed the instructions and decided to ‘Alight at West Ham’. Which meant a 30 minute walk before I even got to the Park, which would be followed by at least another 30 minutes. But that night, I’d had a bad back, so the time I got to the gate, I was limping quite badly. And now the wonderfulness of the volunteers kicked in. my limping was commented on, I was asked if I wanted some help. I expected to get a lift on one of the buggies they were using. But no, it must have been a quiet night because next thing I knew, a wheelchair was pulled into action, I was wheeled around to the mobility station and presented with a mobility scooter. I had wheels!!!

My scooter

During the trundle up the park, i stopped at some of the Sponsor pavilions and checked out their disabled access. Had no problem getting into the couple I tried. At the Arena, it was easy. There was parking for the scooter, and after the venue just picked it up again and trundled back.

London 2012 Handball

Jul 28

London 2012: the torch relay

London 2012 Torch Relay

Our office is in Southwark and on Thursday 26th July it was perfectly placed for the torch relay. Just after 10am,t he torch was due to go right by the office. Some crowded the windows for an overhead view. Caroline and I decided that we needed a ringside seat. So 45 mins before, we headed outside with our chairs for a meeting – and, to be fair, we actually did have a meeting, before packing away and getting ready for the torch to come by. Right on time, the sponsor buses made their way past

London 2012 Torch Relay

And then finally the torch..just a brief glimpse as it ran by to the kiss point on the corner

London 2012 Torch Relay

And on Friday, we had another chance to see the flame, as it came down the Thames on the Glorianna. A slight mistiming meant we were slightly too late to see the flame go by the closest point, but a mad dash down the bank got us to London Bridge where the final (but one) stage of the relay was to happen, as the torch got passed to City hall for safe keeping before its star turn tonight.

In both instances, what was so, so apparent was everyone’s enthusiasm. This was an EVENT…something everyone wanted to be part of. They stood on balconies and in windows, on cheery pickers on on top of walls. They ran down the side of the towpath and tried desperately to get a glimpse of what was happening at London Bridge, standing on tiptoes to peer over the heads, or raising arms high to snap photos in hope of getting a shot. The buzz was palpable and excitement was high. This was not just tourists, but office workers and local families, out to take part in the biggest event they are ever likely to see in London. Let’s bring on the Games, London is ready!

Torch Relay

Torch Relay

Jul 24

London 2012: Olympic Opening Ceremony Rehearsal

I’m still on the reserve list for the Olympic volunteers. I’m not happy about it and I’d rather be taking part, but one compensation I did get was a ticket to the Opening Ceremony Technical Rehearsal the Monday before the games start. This was to be a major test event for the ceremony and for all the transport and organisation around it. So how did it go?

Transport: Travelled in from London Bridge to Stratford; returned Stratford to Waterloo. Had no real problems either way. Getting there was straightforward – although the station may not be a easy to traverse during the games. Getting out of the stadium was harder; somewhere between 40 and 50 thousand people exited the Olympic Park at 10.15 all looking to get home – with the Central Line broken. There were queues, but they kept moving and I got right onto a train and got a seat. The train was filled up completely before it started moving, so it was a pretty warm journey back. There routes to and from the station were well supplied with friendly Gamesmakers keeping everyone informed. However, I see issues arising if the trains are kept regular, because the queues and jams will quickly build.

Olympic Park

The Olympic Park: Slightly underwhelming. Lots of concrete, no where to sit around the stadium. Outside of the Stadium island, nothing was open and it looked pretty sterile – although the wild flowers were good. I was only in the bit immediately around the stadium and the rest of it is supposed to be better, but nothing brilliant there.

Olympic Park

The commercial bit: almost all the stalls were open around the stadium itself. This was the first time for all of them and they seemed to be doing Ok for the main. When I approached the bar, the servers were calling me over, so they could have their first customer. Later on it got a bit more hectic – a lot more queues were seen. This seemed to be a combination of slowness due to not quite sure what doing, slowness due to Visa restriction – and the payments, which were NOT fast – and the bars running out of soft drinks and water so people being turned away. Water IS going to be a BIG problem – there were long, long queues for the few water fountains that were available, so I think something needs to be sorted there

Olympic Park

The Gamesmakers: definitely some first day nerves for some, but overall everyone was brilliant. Bright, bubbly, keeping everyone moving. I did see a few occasions of them not quite knowing what to do and passing it along chains, but for a first day, think they did OK.

The Ceremony: Wow. Just wow. I’m still buzzing from it. But you are going to have to wait until Friday because we all promised to #SavetheSurprise – and watch the hashtag on twitter on Wednesday evening for peoples reactions. I wasn’t sure going into the evening what to expect and the first part did not fill me with confidence. The very first bit was slow and full of some of the clichés that have been talked about. But then, it took off and kept delivering. We didn’t see everything, but what we did see was absolutely amazing. Watch it!!!

Olympic Opening Ceremony Rehearsal

Mar 27

Comparing the census – 1911 vs 2011

I’ve been researching my family history for a lot of years’ starting with trips to London to look up birth, marriage and death certificates and pore over the micofiche of the various censuses (censii???).

Today, it’s a lot easier, the national records are all online and I can sit on the couch and do almost all my research. Which is ironic as I now live in walking distance of the National Archives so a trip to do research does not need an all day trip down to London. I pay for access; if you go to the archives you get the same records on computer but for free.

I’ve been able to trace family all the way through, back from 1911 to 1841, seeing how many children survived, how the jobs stayed consistent across the years, how little some people moved. In the 1911 edition, they introduced a new piece of information – how long has a couple been married. Makes it a lot easier to track down the marriage certificate. Even better, the scanned records are now the original from the household, not the summaries. So you can now see an example of your relatives’ handwriting.

1911Census-JamesHickman1845
The 1911 census from James Hickman, my great-great-great-grandfather.

I was interested in doing the 2011 census; it would be the first one I’d have the chance to complete. I was either abroad or not the householder for the previous ones. But I was so disappointed. It was not the elegant single form just after the basics. it was a long, complicated set of pages, after all sorts of information about jobs, religion and the house I lived in. I vaguely understand why they want this (although not particularly happy about who is processing the data), but it seems to have grown because it could.

But I’m also disappointed for the future family historian. The information will ONLY be available online – you can complete it fully digitally if you want, you don’t need to fill in the form. There is a strong possibility that the data won’t be there in 100 years time, that it won’t be accessible. And the historian will not have the original documents to review, something that is always recommended when investigating digital records. It’s a shame that we’re not keeping that connection – I love the fact I can research digitally but have misgivings about moving purely that way for such important records that are supposed to last a century at least.

Jan 01

Past and Future

It’s the end of one year, the start of a new one. Traditionally time to set New Year resolutions, those vague statements of things that you’re going to change. I decided a few years ago that resolutions are too woolly, too easy to get out of, so I try and set goals, or objectives if I want to put them in business speak. Measurable, achievable, and relevant. Not all are set at the start of the year, they get added to and changed. Last year, I did not publish them, but I think it is time to do that for 2011

So how did 2010 go? Not too bad, although the first half of the year was better than the second in my achievements.

1. Visit 5 new places in the UK. It’s too easy when your own country to ignore it, to not appreciate it. So a goal was to visit some new places, to get a wider understanding of the place. I tied this in with my love of cathedrals and taking photos as my ‘reason’ for some of the visits. This was achieved, with visits to Sheffield, Rochester, Salisbury, Winchester, and St Albans.

2. Go to an F1 Grand Prix. This had been a vague idea for a while, but eventually got it organised with Sofia for a trip to the Belgian GP in Spa. An absolutely brilliant trip, really enjoyable despite the rain. In 2011, we’re planning on going to 3 races 😉

3. Lose 1 stone. It’s not secret I like my food and my wine and I don’t like exercise. This combination has inevitable consequences and I carry too much weight. So I set myself a manageable target at the end of Q1 to lose some of that and over the next 4 months I managed to do that. Not through making too many changes, but by going to the gym, doing some running and just eating a little more sensibly. Due to job changes and injuries to my feet, the gym fell by the wayside in August, but having just weighed myself again, I’m glad to say the weight is still off. One little tool that helped me was the ShapeUp phone app, which allows me to track food and exercise – just tracking it means you think about what you are eating and drinking.

4. Be able to run 5k. I hate running, loathe it, far prefer to be yelled at in an aerobics class than go for a jog. The last time I ran any distance was cross country in school, so setting myself this goal was ambitious for me. But I managed it, slowly. I even did a fun run early in my training, the Sports Relief mile. Not a lot for most people, but a concrete achievement for me!

There were some other achievements and changes in 2010.

1. I finally went back to Australia. I was last there in 2005 and always said I’d go back, using airmiles that I’d accumulated flying back and forth across the Atlantic. The only problem with using these is getting them booked. I tried in 2008, but failed. In 2009, I checked on the 1 year out date and found one seat on one flight on one day in the whole of October and got that booked immediately! Three weeks travelling between Adelaide, Melbourne and Sydney was just lovely and as the first ‘holiday’ I’d had for about 4 years, greatly appreciated. (By holiday, I mean just doing touristy stuff, not rowing or conferences or family visits)

2. I got a new job. This was not in the plan at the start of the year, but with social media being one of the hot areas this year for jobs, I was receiving a lot of approaches from recruiters (via Linked In, a brilliant place to find new roles) and I took a few interviews, one of which led to my new role in Momentum, something I just could not turn down.

3. Made a whole load of new friends via Twitter. I’ve been on Twitter for 4 years, a long time in social media. That account has let me meet new people, go to some great events and have a lot of fun. This year, I started a second account focusing on F1 and through that have virtually met a lot of great people and then met them in real life at Spa. They’re now fast friends and we’ve got some good things planned for 2011.

4. I sorted out my driving licence at last. I’ve not driven a car since 2006 and not seen my original driving licence since I moved back to London in 2003. At the end of the year, I finally found my licence and got it replaced with a brand new photocard version, so now I can hire cars and be a bit more mobile in 2011 instead of relying on public transport. (interestingly, when applying for the replacement, I thought I’d have to send in a photo. Instead, they pulled out my 9 year old passport photo from a government database somewhere and just used that)

So how about in 2011? What are my goals for the next 12 months?

1. Lose 1 stone. Again, not a huge target, but it’s achievable with minimal changes. I’ve got the iphone apps all set up, with Shapeup for food tracking and Runmeter for walking/running tracking and I’m writing up my exercise plans.

2. Do 6 planned walks over the year. Last year, I did 3 group walks, which I found a good way to get some exercise and meet new people and just get out and about!. So I’m going to double that number, through a few walking groups in the areas.

3. Visit 5 new UK places. Another repeat, but just carrying on with the theme of cathedrals. I’m thinking at least Canterbury, Bath and Chichester..we’ll see about the others.

4. Do 5 new experiences. The first is getting set up, a driving experience at Silverstone. I’m looking at Burlesque dancing classes, cooking classes and a few others, but open to suggestions!

Update 12 Jan: I’m adding a new goal. Unsubscribe from all of those newsletter emails!

Jan 01

What I did this year

I’ve been looking back at this year’s Flickr photos to see what I did this year – and I did a lot. So as a summary and a reminder for myself, here’s my activity for the year. When I put it all together, I think I had a good year for just getting out and doing things. All the links are to Flickr photos.

Winter Walk Dec 26th 2010

Dec 08

Christmas Windows at LeWeb

One thing that LeWeb does is bring you to Paris in December, when there’s lots of Christmas decorations. Along Boulevard Haussman, the department stores compete for your eyeballs with their window decorations. Her’e’s the one that caught my eye – it’s dancing Teddy bears to the sound of Abba.

Dec 06

Le Web 2010

It’s December, that means it’s time for Le Web, the Parisian based tech conference. This is the 7th (I think) running of the conference by Geraldine (and Loic) La Meur, which started off focusing on blogging and has expanded to cover the whole of the tech scene, not just web but mobile connectivity as well.

This is my third time attending. I was at there in 2005, 2008 and now this year. There’s a huge difference between 05 and what I’m expecting this year, from a fairly small, tightknit event to one that has 2400 participants from much of the EU, North America and a sprinkling from the rest of the world.

So what to expect? There’s definitely some of the usual suspects providing speakers- Facebook, MySpace, Twitter, Microsoft, Google etc. Many more of the sponsors are also talking. The risk of this, at any conference, is all they do is a sales pitch which does not engage, so here’s hoping they bring soemthing interesting to the table. One thing I do know about this conference, is there’s usually something unusual and thought provoking as well, whether a visit from a potential President to a presentation on Love. I’m looking forward to talks about Thought Controlled Computing and Mobile and social gaming.

But if you aren’t making the trip to Paris, you can still catch up with all that is going on. The 2 days will be livestreamed by Ustream – on LeWeb and lewebplenary2 – and follow the action on Twitter with #leweb or #leweb10. There’s also a huge list of bloggers/tweeters in multiple languages, who’ll be covering the event with live blogging, videos, audio and images. I’m looking forward to having you along for the ride

Sep 09

Google Instant Search Results A-Z

From the UK, here’s the top results for each single letter. It’s interesting what it says about the UK (or is it just my results?). Top online retailers, internet services and TV programmes.

  • Argos
  • BBC
  • Currys
  • Debenhams
  • eBay
  • Facebook
  • Google Maps
  • Hotmail
  • ITV
  • John Lewis
  • KLM
  • Lotto
  • MSN
  • Next
  • O2
  • PayPal
  • QVC
  • Rightmove
  • Sky
  • Tesco
  • YouTube (yes, it is the top result for u)
  • Virgin Atlantic
  • BBC Weather
  • Xbox
  • YouTube
  • Zara
Jul 06

Getting the Olympics

/

The news comes through, originally uploaded by RachelC.

Five years ago, a colleague and I ran down to Trafalgar Square in our lunch break to join the crowds waiting to see if we had been awarded the Olympics. And we had! Here’s the crowd just after the announcement.

Jun 22

Watching Football online

I think STV wins on this, far fewer clicks to get to the content

STV (as recommended by Ewan)

  • Go to STV home page
  • Click on ‘live now’ in programme listing
  • Go to page, watch some ads. Start the football

The BBC

  • Go to BBC home page
  • Click on ‘what’s playing now’ in programme listing
  • Click on ‘Live on BBC one now’
  • Click to start the football (or one more click to have popup video player(my preference)

ITV

  • Go to the ITV home page
  • Click on bottom nav home page link in main banner. Go nowhere. Click on text link.
  • Stare at page trying to work out where link is
  • Click on ‘live’ link. Go to ‘live page’
  • Click on ‘Join now’ Go to a page full of texts, facts, chat topics, video replays, live stats
  • Try and work out which link to click
  • Find link. Click. Get to page with live chat. Ads start running
  • Start the football, on a page made slower by running lots of social elements and scripts that threaten to kill the browser.
Mar 14

SXSW: Extending your brand, there’s an app for that

Extending your Brand, there’s an App for that.
For many, brand extension into the digital realm means a Web site, a banner add, a viral campaign. But applications can extend conversations and perceptions of a brand, as well as add to discussions and ideas in compelling new ways. How can applications help your brand and idea be more authentic,…
Rob Girling, Adrian Ho, Shiv Singh, Brian Morrissey

SS: Social Media lead at Razorfish, we currently have reduction in form size, but no reduction in functionality, we are developing mobile solutions for almost all the clients. we are not the 3rd gen of mobiles design, where the core interface is buttons, and streaming and a pulse interface.
RG: Co-Founder of artefact. being working on apps for the last 20 years. come at this from the tech and UI perspective. thinking about how to make a grate app is what we do, which is diff to how marketing has developed things from the past. One thing recently is Seesmic Look, Twitter for neophytes. It’s a branded channel, so brands can build content on top of their tags that are happening. It’s not about building an app, it could be about reaching through an app to get to your audience.
AH: 3 yo company, founders were all ad people, we are reformed. It is around the idea you can take the same money that you spent on commas and spend it on doing things for people and have the same success. My background is strategy. We try and solve business problems by doing things, so for Nordstrom, teen girls, when they want to spend lots of money, they would take pictures and send pictures to their parents – OR would dress up and take photos for touchscreens. So we created something that could take photos, edit them and let them be sent out.

BM: we are going to be talking about the future. what do you see going on right now?
AH: the biggest change, it’s about the information, about how people use the products. Less of the brand perception is not about the imagery and commas but about what they do.
SS; I would extend that further, the biggest change in last 3 years, is trust in big brands has dropped dramatically, thanks to financial crisis and consumer empowerment. Brands are not defined by what they do (marketing, PR, launches) and more by how consumers talk and relate to them. A lot of questions about fundamentals of marketing, advertising etc

BM; so where do apps fit in there?
RG: the days of brands trying to get your attention and hold it with traditional methods are gone. if you are not trying to actively engage your customers, provide utility, you are not going to have a lasting relationship. you have to understand them, their pain, look for opps to delight the. It’s not another channel to push out the message, you have to provide them.
SS: Only partially agree. I like toothpaste, I use it everyday, but I don’t want to have a 2 way conversation with colgate. I care about that I have a memory point when I next buy it. It is important to see the type of brand and if it is high or low consideration.

BM: what can brands learn from popular apps, that are not brand apps.
AH: the lessons that brands can learn from 4sq is not the one they think they are learning. SO people want to connect with friends and they should not get away form that. there are times you can help..but they should not go through you. Typically brands would say this is fantastic it is another place we can connect but it is not a great place for brands to be playing.
SS: so how many of you consider yourself experts in social media (a quarter). (More in mobile). You can’t be into social media if you are not into mobile as well.
RG: I want to add a diff point, what we should be learning is about incentivised behaviour and social status. there is a lot of buzz about reward systems for behaviour. they get something back for checking in, for changing behaviour. that is the beginning of a massive trend, that will snowball in the next few years.

BM: so I want to go into your favourites. A lot of apps are serving the same place as microsites, they are disposable, So what is the role for the campaign like, ephemeral apps.
SS: if you have an app that is a microsiste, it is a total failure, an app coming from a brand has to be entertainment driver – without eh brand as a sponsor or it has to be utilitarian, like the food ordering apps. For it to play role of microsite is a waste of time and money
BM: Adrian are you seeing this> It was the facebook app, now the iphone app.
AH: I would agree on microsite thing, also, I think the entertainment model of using apps is flawed for brands, it does not do the behaviour change, A lot of advertising is about trickery, about changing behaviour. Apps in general, they reward change, that may be useful for brand. A utility based app is much more direct, allows you to behave in a new way. an entertainment app is different, it is about you making you feel different about eh brand, so not a great use for apps,

AudQ: is the brand manager of the future technologist or marketer?
RG: if what I said about apps is true, the technology component cannot be ignored. it’s maintenance and shipping cycle and complexity that the marketing industry is not used to yet. I still think the brand expertise to have the insights and empathy with customer will still rule the day however.
SS: Knowing customers is getting harder by the day and that is of paramount importance. With mobile apps it should get a lot quicker and easier to build and the tech should be commoditised.
AH: the debate about who controls is interesting. from tech, an app is designed to allow you to do things so there is research about making that possible, Marketers come at it about telling you things about the brand that is good to know. they often collide. It is in the middle it will come together, if you allow technologist to do anything, you get usable apps that are not differentiated, so you need the marketing that flavours it with the brand.

BM: so apps you like?
SS: Bundle helps you understand how people spend money. you can info about how other people just like you spend money, the app does not translate the website. The app is Vice Tracker is about changing the spend behaviour. allowing people to be more mindful of how they are spending, against their friends. I can track behaviour, see friends, comment on their behaviour, gives a leadership ranking, on who has the most vices. the idea is that apps can serve a strong educational purpose, in this case managing our vices in a fun game like fashion, it has a social piece, a game like interface, game mechanics, that is what makes it powerful. There are incentives, tied into cause marketing as well.
BM: are the points are what are driving people on 4sq? is it changing behaviour.
SS: there are more to life than incentives and points. it is a shortcut….it is not just about incentives, they do help, there are successful that are pure entertainment or utility, it does depend.

BM: so now into the sucky part.
SS: New York Times. I’m a big fan of the NYT. I feel the app misses things. the content is amazing and great to have it on the phone. I wish they would ask me for money for it. It has no location aware functionality, can’t understand why it doesn’t, so news has a local component. It does not have social features, cannot comment, share, cannot see top rated articles, can’t mash them up, it is a glorified news reader, take tout he content and it is nothing. It does not let me filter by my social graph. it could be better.

RG: . the zippo lighter is about what I don’t like about apps, but I’m using it as a good example. It’s very cheap/simple, and has 3m downloads. Not doing very much, but understanding the platform, early and quickly to get something there. My real good example is Shop Savvy. It is a barcode scanner. you can go into a store, and you can find the cheapest price in the web to get it, also if there is a shop nearby where you can buy it cheaper. `so incentive to get it. save money. they understood the customer, they are wanting to purchase it something, we know where they are, then sell that info to advertisers, so they can discount or offer something.
SS: you talk about shop savvy being a platform for brands? is this an pop for target etc to build their own. So AUDQ about if brands should build or sponsor?
RG: I tend to believe that the loyal Best Buy shopper, is not really a real scenario (i.e. once a month or more for this) is not real. Being part of the ecosystem is better than owning every part of it.
SS: the criteria I use, is it a passionate brand, there is a lot of passion around it. does it have great content or a lot of utilitarian use, does it change on a frequent basis. if it meets these 3, then it is a good reason to build one.
RG: the Merc AMG is an example of what I don’t like. The luxury brands are putting out the microsites as apps. They are links…a video, sound effects and some photos and that is all. There are a tonne of these, brands that have spent years building classy momentum around brand and then they offer you this. It’s is nothing. You may use this once. It is less rich than the site. it is lame. There is nothing to it.
BM: what could they do to make it useful?
RG: this is a passion brand, where the lust is high, but what I don’t see anything about social integration , no community of users, no attempt to connect them, no attempt to say Merc is listening or cares. If I was going to buy one, I may want to talk to other owners, look at second hand market, understand the brand.
AH: Apps like this are advertising – potential owners. With apps you can actually target owners as well. the biggest sales go to existing owners, so an app that makes driving Mercs even better would be good, tap into data etc. this is what happens when advertising people take on app design.

BM: Your example is different?
AH: amazon.com. they don’t run advertising, they created an app that allows you to take pictures when hopping, save it to your cart to get later. it’s a direct relation to sales, we know business impact. My bad app is the GTI driving game. as a tool for branding, it goes against an impressions based model. Of those who downloaded, the idea is that some portion will remember and then take some action and eventually test drive. It is a waste as most who use it will never do anything with it related to the brand, except maybe a good feeling.

BM: so the biggest challenge is campaign vs software development? The budgets may not change soon?

SS: it will change when it proven to have value. A single brand app gets little traction, the ROI is questionable. it is easy to slam marketers for not doing this, but it comes down to metrics, there is not enough education or decision but there are not enough metrics either.
RG: the metrics today are a lot more like PR metrics than traditional marketing etc, I do think that new metrics will be required. e.g. engagement with app in a month. and the tracking of that. When they do use it, you have an engaged user. those metrics don’t properly show up with this yet, and they need to do this.
SS: the biggest metric is not CPMS, CPC, but Cost per BUZZ, and that is not enough.
BM: is that what success looks like (refers to a flurry graph)
AH: we are measuring a lot with advertising metrics, we expect apps to delver scale that advertising does. they will not do this. the reach is limited. we need to figure out new ways to measure ha they are delivering, then you will start to see things do look better. Apps are designed to look good but offer no value, a lot of stuff on that, so if you offer something that allows someone to do business with you easier, then it has a longer lifestyle.

BM: we are talking a lot about iphone as a platform, a few years ago, it would have been facebook.
SS: it is mobility does not mean a sacrifice in functionality. the facebook app is one of the most popular on the iphone. the apps are being downplayed by facebook as well, so not getting as much traction.
RG: a lot of the apps have screwed the privacy issues, with a rogue app stealing info, left me not happy in the platform. Not the best for developers, a lot of things difficult about the facebook universe. the mobile apps universe is more mature and the idea of it being with you all the time is the most compelling thing, it’s powerful;. facebook is still one foot int he desktop experience and not with me all the time.

AUDQ: how will the iPad impact it?
SS: there will be an impact, a lot to do with your posture. you will have more space, different posture and gestures. Not used to it yet.
RG: just the larger canvas, is something.

AUDQ: What steps to increase stickiness of apps?
RG: there’s no lipstick answer, there is no small thing. you have to do your homework. What is the opportunity. It’s the user-centric design, try and figure out a way to make some utility. Charmin did one…an app to find toilets and to review them. for moms with kids, a good app. it is relevant.
SS: don’t frontload all the advertising PR push etc, that is when you see a reverse hockey stick. think different marketing and PR levers.