May 21

OMG..they changed Flickr!

If you want to protest against the Flickr changes, it appears the best way to do so is to KEEP PAYING THE SUBSCRIPTION!

Somewhere in Yahoo!, there’s a spreadsheet. On it, there’s a financial model for Flickr. Bought by Yahoo all those years ago, left in a corner with only the occasional bit of love, Flickr was one of the originals, one of the few where you could pay for a service. But it was never really upgraded. Until now.

Now, someone has tweaked the model, looked at the projected lines and decided something. They’ve decided the subscription service is costing them money. That it is not worth keeping it. BUT, they must have concluded..BUT…if we can just get some MORE people putting MORE photos on there we should make MORE money from displaying ads against those photos to MORE people (and with less people who are Pros, that gives us MORE people). But they couldn’t get more people using the free service. They couldn’t attract all the new generation used to Facebook and Instagram and all these places where they weren’t restricted to the last 200 photos only and where it was more about the person than the photo.

So the business objectives were set:

  • get rid of these pesky kids pros, who want to pay money for a decent service. They cost us in processing the money, in providing customer service support, for maintaining additional code to not service them ads
  • Encourage more people to put more photos up on the service, grabbing the younger demographic by making the site look ‘cool’ and more like the photo services they are all using without restrictions.

So change they did. A redesign to make it look more like other services and that they know the old pros will HATE. And a clear message to everyone to stop paying us money and go to the free service. Because given the messaging and the changes in account, that’s surely what they want us all to do!

The message in the email:

As a Pro Member, your subscription remains the same. You’ll enjoy unlimited space for your photos and videos, detailed stats and an ad-free experience. However, you can switch to a Free account before August 20, 2013

The message on the screen:

Flickr doing its best to make you go away

Flickr doing its best to make you go away

there are changes to the accounts. You can no longer buy a Pro-account (although the people who have them get to keep them as long as they keep paying). You can buy an ‘ad free’ account at double the current cost. Mashable has a good summary of the changes in Flickr account types:

Type Free Old Pro New Subscription
Cost Nothing $44.95 for two years if you have it set up already $49.99 for 1 year
Storage 1 TB Unlimited. Although different sections say different things 1 TB
Image Upload size 200MB 50MB 200MB
Video upload size 1GB 500MB 1GB
Ads? Yes No No
Stats No Yes No
Replacing images No Yes No
Archive Hi Res No Yes No

Those are the changes – some make the free account a better option – but buying a subscription does not seem worth it.

The biggest outcry has been about the redesign. On my Twitter feed, it was mixed. Searching for immediate reactions last night showed a mainly positive reaction to the designs first impact, but reading the comments on the Flickr forum is about 99.5% negative. The people commenting here are the old pros, the ones that have been around a while. They typically don’t react well to change, but this is bigger than usual and the anger is far more than usual.

I also don’t like the redesign – I liked the clean nature of the old version. But what I hate most is how half-cocked it is. It’s a ‘Minimally Viable BIG redesign’. They’ve changed the home page to be a photostream. They’ve changed your profile page with header image and photo stream.. But everything else they’ve just slapped on a header and left it. it’s as though they were told they HAD to have it ready for yesterday and just get it out there. So it’s not been thought through. Now they have the home page looking the right to attract the new people who are used to more recent photo services, but it’s creaky and slow and seems to fail at times. My guess it we’ll get more changes as they role it out to the other parts. But in the meantime, it’s doing its job. Attracting new people, putting off the longer-term users.

Whenever there’s been a major change, there have people who have protested by leaving the service, stopping their subscription. However, given what appears to be a major push in focus, it seems the best way to protest is to KEEP paying them money as a Pro account, stay ad free and prevent them serving ads to you.

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

Mar 21

2013 Week 10

2 Mar to 8th Mar

After the quiet of last week, this week was a little more exciting.

Reading

Doing

  • Went shopping! Yes, not that much of a strange activity for most, but for me to volunteer to go shopping with friends is very, very unusual. It was all to do with getting out and trying on some new sized clothes, as I appear to have lost about 2 dress sizes so far this year. (well, at least in some stores). Bought one top, but had a great time trying things on, then drinking fizzy stuff, which is the only sensible way to finish off a shopping trip
  • Work dinner at BAFTA, A chance for the senior team to get together and let our hair down a little, even if it was a Monday night. A lovely full service dinner was pulled together plus a few drinks. A few of us even ended up in the Ritz, some place I’ve always wanted to have a cocktail in, even given the slightly large price! I was sensible and went home relatively early, others were not so and ended up not very well the next day!

    Cocktails at the Ritz

The rest of the week was the usual round of work, a bit of gym, and that’s about it! I was saving myself up for the next few buys weeks I think.

Mar 20

2013 Week 9

Sat 23rd Feb – Fri 1 Mar

You’d think i could do this, wouldn’t you. One post a week, that’s all I need. But no, I end up doing other things over the weekend and then at work time and the one post gets left behind until major catch up sessions like this one! So what did I do way back at the end of Feb?

Reading

Not a lot. I have no saved links for this period, so it must have been quiet!

Doing

  • The weekend was spent washing, tidying and sorting things out after a week away. And sorting out all my photos to organise the F1 ones into teams. One of those non-exciting housework weekends.
  • The rest of the week was fairly quiet too. Well, except for being a person down in the team,, so we were covering that work. And I was finalising a slight re-organisation of the team. And I was reviewing the interview results from the previous week, where the first round interviews for my replacement person had been taking place. We decided who to invite back and set them a brief to respond to, concious that by doing so, we probably compromised their next weekend!
  • On the Friday, I went along to ‘An Evening with Joe Saward‘ who’s an F1 journalist. It was set up as a Q&A session where the audience just threw out questions and Joe answered and told stories based on his long experience with the sport. It was interesting how different the crowd was to the other regular F1 event I go to (#badgerbash, more on this later in the year) with the audience being primarily mature men with very few women. I think that’s a result of who the journalist is.

Well, that was a quiet week (outside of work!).

Mar 19

Red Dawn Screening

Last week I went to a preview screening for Red Dawn (the 2012 version, not the one that was released in 1984). It was a blogger screening (or at least a blog readers screening) that I had won from Mel at Miss Geeky. I’ve been lucky this year with Mel – I’d previously won a great Les Miserables prize pack.

So how was the film? In generally, pretty enjoyable! I have fond recollections of the first one (I wonder how many people watching remembered that) and was interested to see how they would update it. First of all, it’s North Korea who does the invading instead of the Russians – although apparently it was originally China, but they changed it in post. But the rest of it seems to be pretty similar. A group of teens fight it out against the invading force, somehow managing to be an effective guerilla force. It could have been a little less soppy in places, but I had a good time watching.

As someone who has run screenings before, I was also interested in how it was put together. Unfortunately, one of the poorer ones. Pre-film nibbles were crisps and water/juice/pop (the reason being is that <18 may have been watching the film). But I thought they could have at least done a ‘thank you for coming, here’s some info for you’ speech at some point instead of just saying nothing and letting the film run!

Feb 26

2013 Week 8

A quick follow up to catch up the weeks.

Reading

  • Fitbit talks about tracking and privacy. I’m using a Fitbit and I love it. Just wearing it makes me think about being more active, to climb the stairs instead of the escalator. As mentioned in the article, the ecosystem is great and I hope increased competition does not restrict this.
  • A comment on whether Silicon Valley really is a meritocracy or if that’s just the white male view. The concept of privilege is not going away, nor is the vastly different perceptions of it.
  • Moshi Monsters and why kids love them. Yep, building a new kids property is hard. Moshi pretty much nails it
  • Why Americans are WEIRD. A challenge to the accepted wisdom that people’s behaviours and perceptions are fundamentally the same, based on biology, so using western (and primarily US) people for studies would apply worldwide. this research shows that is not the case and Americans are often one of the most outlying of groups

Doing

  • HOLIDAY! yes my first holiday of the year. Now, most people would not call what I did as a holiday, but I enjoyed it. It was a trip to Barcelona to watch the F1 testing. So every day, travel up to the circuit and sit and watch cars go round for 7 hours. In the freezing cold and occasional rain. Then back to the city for tapas and red wine. A lovely week and one that is planned for next year too!

    2013 Barcelona F1 Testing Day 3

  • Forgot to add this for the last week entry, but I have completed a further 2 stages of the LOOP walk. Over the two weekends, I have travelled from Bexley to West Wickham Common. Three sections done, 21 to go!

    Walk the LOOP 3  -Petts Wood to West Wickham Common

Feb 26

2013 Week 7

Nearly the end of Feb and I’ve managed to miss a week. Didn’t last too long then! That’s what going on holiday does, trying to rush to get everything sorted. So let’s catch up forstly with week 7.

Reading

  • American Express launch ‘Pay with a tweet hashtag‘. The ability for people who have linked their twitter account with their Amex card to order good with a tweet. Tweet the appropriate hashtag for one of the available products, retweet the Amex confirmation tweet and the item is yours. Hope people remember to lock phones and desktops then – to avoid helpful ‘friends’ ordering for you!
  • The ultimate in responsive design – using the camera to change how big the font is, from Marko Dugonjić
  • A lovely short story, Four Million Followers, about the life of a brand Tweeter. If there is a secret network, we’ve not been invited yet at work :-(
  • Mailbox is getting a lot of hype, with the queuing mechanism. Wired looks at whether it will make a difference. I see lots of articles about email being broken, but have not yet seen a decent idea of a replacement. And social media does not replace email in many settings!
  • Are the best days of community management behind us?. A great piece from emoderation about how community management has been taken over the suits – it’s about business more than relationships. I’m someone who, at the core, believes the best community managers are those who represent the community back to the brand and work to better the brand. It’s not always possible, but that’s my starting point.

Doing (looks back in diary to see what I did 2 weeks ago)

  • Work has been interesting. I’ve been looking at some speculative projects to see where we can grow the business – not direct pitches, but pulling together Point of View documents in a few areas around ‘Social Media and…’. With the ‘and’ being varied.
  • Had a little trip to Paris with work for a client innovation work shop. A lovely trip on the Eurostar, some good food in Paris and then a day spent working on new ideas. It was interesting that the workshop format, structured to drive the formation of ideas, is something that I rarely see in agencies but I used to do a fair bit of client side. The agency world is often in thrall to the ‘lock the creatives in a room and let them come up with something’ model. Here we had brand, legal, PR, global, local teams all working together.
  • It’s annual review time and I’m still busy doing them. We have a new model this year, competency based, and it’s taking a little longer for everyone to complete them. But seems like we’re setting good plans for the year around development and training. At the same time, one of the team decided it was time to move on this week, so CVs being gathered and interviews planned.
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 21

Linked In Best Practice Guide

Duncan Chapple’s post brought to my attention that the LinkedIn guide that I contributed to last year (in fact, last May) is now online. The B2B Marketing Linked In Best Practice Guide is available for purchase now. I’ve started looking through the rest of the book (I contributed the section on Brand Building) and so far loving the contribution of the others. As well as Duncan, there are sections from Andy Bargery, Mark Fones and Maya Grinberg

Jan 18

2013 Week 3

  • The week after CES means reading about CES. Not just the immediate responses, the announcements and the press releases, but the posts from those who have taken time to think about what they have seen. the Verge went through what they though was the best of CES. Of a far more reflective nature is the piece from Stephen Sinofsky, who is ex-Microsoft Windows. (via Ewan Spence)
  • Social Media Today has a list of the best social media conferences to attend in 2013. I’ve never been to any of them! Probably because the conferences I do tend to go to are slightly more on the tech side (Le Web, SXSW) or completely different things like TEDx events. However, if your after some of the beast thinking then last list is a good one. You should also look out for Social Media Week which is coming up soon.
  • This is brilliant – Nicole Cooke’s retirement speech. An insight into the chalelgnes of women’s sport, the impact of doping on the overall health of women’s cycling
  • The Friday pitch went well – at least from our side. After pitches, it’s always about the wait. It’s a rare thing that clients get back to you when they think they can get back to you. There’s always something, a person not around, a further piece of information they need. It’s a waiting game.
  • Friday night was supposed to be a birthday party – so I was expecting a wee bit of a sore head on Saturday. But an evening phone call put paid to that, with a request to go onto Sky News Sunrise show on the Saturday morning. The topic was the use of social media to promote positive activity in Belfast, supporting businesses during the current protests. I always enjoy these opportunities, and this time I got to sit on a Breakfast sofa for the first time ;-)
  • Saw Les Miserables – the film. One thing that struck me is that on a stage, all the action is constrained, you need to use imagination to paint the scenes, you can all the parties singing, you can see the whole thing. You would think that the film would take advantage of the ability to show a much wider scope. But i found that lacking – and it seemed that most of the film was close-ups of the actors, emoting, showing that they were real ‘actors’ that could sing rather than stage actors who need to project. I love the stage show, the film left me feeling a little short changed.
Jan 11

2013 Week 2

Week 2 is done. I’ve decided I don’t like the sign outside Southwark Tube station, which provides the date. It’s a reminder every morning that another day has been ticked off and it’s mutely asking me what have I done to change the world. Or something like that! So what have I wrestled out of this week?

  • Via Terrence Eden, i read this great report from Vanity fair on the making of the Blues Brothers. Fascinating insight into the minds of Aykroyd and Belushi.
  • A last minute request to go to Switzerland for a client meeting meant I was able to go early for the weekend to meet up with Geoff to discuss the social media marketing for a film being made this year in Switzerland. Called Murkwood, it’s due to start shooting in the autumn. But at the moment, the team behind it are shooting a short called True Dark. Geoff and I went up into the mountains for look at what was happening as they shot one of the key action sequences for the short. (full set of pictures here)

    True Dark Shoot

  • The meeting was with a long-standing client and focused on the partnership we are building with them over the next few years. I was there to discuss how social and digital can be used for their primarily B2B work but how it can also be used to create a pull from the end customer
  • Back in the office for the rest of the week, straight into a pitch prep. The pitch is today, for a second strand of work with a client we won in the latter part of last year. Again B2B work, my focus is on strategy and process for this one.
  • The gym visits are going well. Caroline is great at getting me to the gym and once there, I’m the one who makes us do things! We’ve created our own programme to start off with, a lot of core strength work to get us started. Next week we’ll be off to our first class!
  • I wrote about my brother-in-law and Mont Ventoux yesterday and that is going to be a focus this year. Getting him back up that mountain!

And that is that. A fairly quiet week all told, no world changing things yet.

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)

Jan 04

2013 Week 1

A challenge to set myself! A defined weekly blog post. But the question I ask myself, is it about progress, the job, my life, or is it about things I’ve found you may enjoy. The latter inspired in particular by James Whatley’s Five Things on Friday series of posts which I’ve really enjoyed reading over the year. But as he says in the last post, the series evolved, so I’ll start with something and see where it goes!

  1. First up, a great round up from Grégory Pouy of what he sees as the best digital campaigns of 2012. A series of case studies to be borrowed across the following year! But don’t just read the examples, think about the why. Do you agree with Grégory’s reasons why they are good? Do you think there are other reasons?
  2. Looking forward, Deep Focus have produced as excellent piece of work about trends in 2013. Everything is bang on in that list, things I’ve been talking about internally for years. What’s most relevant in my agency is point 9: “The changing demands of demographics and devices will make experiential a key part of digital marketing“. That’s exactly why I joined Momentum in 2010, because of the opportunity about social around experiential and events, because it’s not just engaging with people with Facebook, but INVOLVING them through experiences. And this leads to Henriette’s constant refrain about Return on INVOLVEMENT being a key metric, which made it onto Mashable’s list of 2013 buzzwords. I’m looking forward to being able to read Henriette’s book in English :-)
  3. Finally, a connected piece about the type of thinking that you need to do around planning for an brand event – this time when a brand is sponsoring something. Great piece from Leo Ryan about sponsorship social planning, the process and the tactics that you can use. There are other things that you need to think about when the sponsorship runs over a series of events – what’s the connecting story and how do you keep things fresh without feeling repetitive, but that’s another post!

That’s what I’ve been reading..what else has been happening?

  • came back to work to find out we’d won a nice little pitch, international, but with plenty of London involvement. Another sport we’re going to be involved in
  • started the year supporting a pitch, straight back into thinking.
  • Moved my gym membership closer to work, so less excuses not to go. Got a gym buddy. Will be working hard at the measuring and monitoring and taking advantage of the trend of apps for the quantified self!
  • finally, had a quiet Old Year’s Night, then a long walk on New Year’s day to take advantage of what felt like the first dry day for ages!
Jan 03

2013: Change, Connect, Challenge

So yesterday, I took a look back on the mixed bag of 2012. But am I going to do something different in the upcoming year, or just let the world drift on as it is and see what happens. As you may guess from the title, the answer to that is no. 2013 HAS to be a year of difference, where work is put in and I don’t just enjoy what life brings.

I’ve decided to think about #themewords for the year. Many of the people I admire have been using this for a few years, whether it’s just the one like Tara Hunt or 3 words, like CC Chapman or Chris Brogan. Thinking of themes and words makes you contemplate the year, what you want to get out of it and clarify your mind. And writing them down, sharing them with the world, makes it more likely that you will follow them through (or so said the psychologist on BBC Breakfast this week :-) )

The words are straightforward, but what do they mean for me?

  • Change: Looking back over last year, there are many things that need to change. far easier to say, so my focus has been on methods to drive the change, through small, easily adopted methods. This is not the rip it all up and throw it away kind of changes I am looking at, but ways to take behaviours and techniques from areas of my life that work and apply them to others.
  • Connect: As I said yesterday, my default mode is hermit. I’d rather be home reading than out partying. But that means I am losing connections with family, friends, colleagues and acquaintances. I need to bring that back together and maintain those connections, or reconnect where they have been lost.
  • Challenge: Or this can also be challenges! I need to change what I’m doing. I need to get others to challenge (positively) what I am doing. And I need challenges to motivate me to do things.

Change, Connect, Challenge. The theme and underlying philosophy for what I will do this year, across the focus aspects of my life. But what does that mean in some practical terms?

Physical

Measure, measure and measure again. I’m no stranger to the idea of the quantified self, but the reality has mainly been location check-ins rather than physical measurements. I’m very good at location check-ins, it is a habit that is now ingrained – my 569th check-in at the office this morning definitely proves that. Knowing what I am doing by measuring makes me think more about the actions and allows me to change things. if you don’t know, then there is little you can do to change. When I’ve tracked activities and calories in the past, it works to change things, but the practice stops and then the behaviours drift away. I know that measurement is a key driver for me to permanently changing exercise and eating habits… so to make the bigger changes, I’m going to be focusing on a smaller change of extending my tracking behaviour.

This starts with the purchase of a Fitbit (partly funded by the Christmas voucher I got from work) to track the everyday activity. Add to that Runkeeper (for runs and walks) plus MyFitnessPal (for food/calories) that is giving me enough tracking – and more importantly reminders to phone and email – to keep me focused.

It’s not quite enough though. I’ve switched gyms, so it is now about 2 minutes from work (instead of the 15mins it was before). But more importantly, I have a gym buddy who has also signed up and we will be encouraging each other. That is a big change and should work to keep things going and help change habits.

Relationships

This is all about driving the connections. Picking up the phone more – so simple things like putting in reminders if all I’m only connecting over social media!! Getting out and about more when there are things going on. And I’m trying internet dating; I’ve had mixed reports from colleagues about this, but I may as well give it a go.

Career

I’m in my 3rd year in this role, with the 4th one heading rapidly towards me. it’s time for a change I think. Not a massive change, but I’m looking to try a few new things this year and have been talking to the management about opportunities. I’m going to be actively looking for speaking opportunities as well, to get back into that and build up a wider reputation. I know I’m good at what I do, I will be looking for occasions to get external recognition for it.

This year, I’m also going to be a mentor. I’ve been informally doing this with a friend over the last few months and now will be adding a formal mentor relationship through a group company initiative. Through a ‘Women’s Leadership Network’, they’re bringing women together across the wider group of IPG companies to support us in our careers. This brings in challenge – part of mentoring is challenging your own expectations and assumptions as well as the mentee’s, so that will be fun.

Experiences

There’s no Olympics this year – so what am I going to do! I’m already working on this. I’m going to be visiting Japan for the F1 and I can’t go all the way there without doing other things as well. I’ve set myself the challenge of completing the London Outer Orbital Path (or LOOP). Another challenge is to visit all of Wren’s churches in London. There’ll be more, I’m sure.

2013 ahead

So that’s it. Again, no resolutions, but this time a different way of documenting my ambitions and about how I frame my thinking for the year. Change. Connect. Challenge. It’s all about that.

Jan 02

2012 Review

How was 2012 for you? For me, it was pretty good – although not so good for some of the people around me who faced their own set of hard challenges.

But taking a look back at what my ambitions for the year were, they were not as successful as they should have been. For some of them, I over achieved…but for others, didn’t really even scratch the surface. I’m not going to go through each point, but going to take a larger view, ready for this year’s ambitions – splitting up my aspects of life into Physical, Relationships, Career and Experiences.

Physical

This started to so well, with consistent training to get myself ready for the Sports Relief 3 Mile run. I gathered the sponsors and prepped the body and ran up and down the Mall for 3 miles. That’s probably the longest I have run since cross-country at school. But then, it stopped. No goal, no driver, so back to bad habits. The occasional gym session, the occasional long walk, but not consistent, so no sustained change made. It’s not as though I don’t know how it all works, just not got the motivation!

Relationships

Reflecting on this over the holidays, it was definitely a poor year. And not just on the dating front (dating, what’s that?). I let family and friend relationships wane at times without putting enough energy into them. Because I was too busy at times doing other things – see the experience section! Also because my default at times is to be hermit like.

Career

A holding year. Carried on as usual, although some team members changed in my direct team, the peer group stayed pretty much the same. On a wider front, there was an occasional TV or press appearance, but again, quiet and low-key.

Experiences

Lots and lots and lots. Mainly Olympics! Think I’ll do another post with a full review of the activities I did get up to this year. I did not get a volunteer role, despite being on the reserve list all the way to the Games but made up for it by buying lots of tickets for Olympics and Paralympics.

The 2012 Ambitions

This is what I said I was going to do over the past year. Some worked, other’s didn’t.

  1. Consistently do exercise. This needs to be built into my daily activity. I’ve reactivated my gym membership – a work benefit – and am getting support through Twitter. This used to be easy…now too many things get in the way.
  2. Do 6 planned walks over the year. There’s a great book about walks around London, with the Capital Ring also looking good. A few more of these to be added this year.
  3. Visit 5 new UK places. I’m running out of close Cathedrals, but still got Bath on the list to do.
  4. Do 5 new experiences. No idea what this will involve. Hopefully it will include volunteering at the Olympics. I’ve had my first interview, just waiting to hear if I get accepted.
  5. Blog more. I’m in my 6th year of blogging and I don’t do nearly enough!
Dec 09

Guinness Glasses and Cravendale Straws

Social media and word of mouth is the new advertising and nothing else is needed – well, according to some social media’gurus’. As Ramon De Leon said at Le Web, advertising (the old version) is the tax on being boring. He may be right to an extent, but there’s no doubt that his Domino’s franchises will still benefit from the the national advertising spend that the parent company provide. I wouldn’t call Ramon a social media guru, given I reserve that term for those who talk more than they act and the key thing that he does is act – and continue to deliver on his commitments.

However, social media – on its own – does not replace other means of marketing. It complements it, adds to the mix and is undoubtably one of the key ways to develop relationships with brand fans and advocates. Working with ‘influencers’ – meaning people with a strong online presence that may have an influence on a potential customer – is now extremely common with markets. But the problem has been how can you determine who is an influencer. Peer Index is one of the services that have grown over the last few years to help answer that question. By bringing together a person’s social media profiles and activities they provide a ‘influence ranking’ that brands and agencies can then use to find people who may talk about their brand.

But how good is the ranking? Does it replace the more manual method of reviewing blogs and working with them to develop a relationship? On the one hand, it’s quicker and cheaper to ask for a list of a few 1000 people that may meet the criteria set then spending day and weeks working, reading, understanding the audience you are trying to reach and finding the right people to talk to. But the success rate is probably harder to forecast.

Over the last few months, I’ve been targeted with 3 different Peer Perks which demonstrate that its not always that easy to use the services to generate online activity – it all depends on how you create the filters.

The first, the least successful for me was for the launch of a new lottery. The brand’s marketing plan obviously included a lot of space for social media and WOM, given it also partnered with Klout as well as Peer Index. But I wonder what the target audience was and why I was targeted? Trying to find blog posts that mention that lottery, the campaign did not appear to be that successful!

Guinness Glasses

The second was with Guinness, as part of their campaign this autumn. Influencers who opted-in received 6 half-pint Guinness Glasses as well as an entry into a draw to win a ‘Guinness Class’ trip to Dublin. They were also out in the pubs, offering sampling and more chances to win at pubs around the country for 2 months. As well as using Peer Index, Guinness also appeared to do targeted outreach, providing additional content and placing sponsored posts across specific blogs (eg this one with Tiki Chris). The third level was the more usual PR, ie this AOL piece. There’s a lot more to this integrated campaign, but you can see here how Guinness have used different types of influencers to provide widespread coverage. Although I’d hazard a guess that these 3 elements were managed by 3 different agencies :-)

The third perk was for Cravendale Milk. Again as part of a larger set of outreach activities, Cravendale sent out sets of Epic Straws (that link will probably die at some point, as it’s campaign related) along with vouchers for their milk. I’ve loved playing with the straws but I’ve not cashed in the milk vouchers for myself as its unusual if I get through more than a pint in a week! They did the more regular PR and also worked with Britmums to target what I would say is a better audience than I – Moms! This was combined with all sorts of other promotions, such as on-pack vouchers to get your own set of straws. All of this generated a lot of coverage, from what I can see the most out of the 3 I was offered.

A mixed bunch then. The first, not for me at all. The second, definitely right for me, giving me both a physical object to remind me all about Guinness and the opportunity to win a greater prizes. The 3rd I like as a campaign and I LOVE the straws, but it probably better targeted at parents than someone like me. I’ll be passing on the straws and milk vouchers to my family as they’ll make far more use of both.

Dec 06

LeWeb 12: Matt Mullenweg and Word Press

Liveblogged – so mistakes

Matt Mullenweg, Founder, Automattic & Om Malik, Founder & Senior Writer, GigaOM

Le Web Paris Dec 2012

WordPress powers 17% of top million sites. it’s fun but also a responsibility, wanted to create open source publishing but also wanted to create sustainable business. So Automattic – those are the services that pay. Growing it to be large, sustainable and independent. Some of the things that are going on with the platforms are ‘troubling’. Instagram has been a user focused company; with twitter and facebook, the primary users are advertisers. The person is just the product. You then have a conflict. And that leads to lack of user focus. Matt has always tried to set up business model that is aligned with the person, the end user, not advertisers. Does not approve of what happens with Instagram and Twitter. WordPress is kind of Swiss – works with all of the various platforms. That’s what users want, you can comment with any of the accounts. You can always come home to your blog. have used everything. But you always need that digital home, No matter what, I come back. So for my blog to incorporate some of the third party, then that’s fine. A lot of people use it to post to and then push to Twitter etc. Social networks provide distribution channels for blogs and blogs explode in popularity.

WP is open, so people can start to connect things to the blog. make their own plugins. (Om: what i see is these platforms trying to sell us ‘their’ web. But it will get to the point (again) when it is our web again. There is going to be a fight back)

Matt thinks that WP is interesting on its own, but what is more interesting is the connection between them. looking for them to help shape habits and behaviours. When there are multiple digital inputs, what intelligence can be brought into WP…it’s probably not going to be something that Matt will come up with. There are 20k plugins. They solve problems

Mobile is becoming more important for Om, so he’s asking what mobile does for Matt. Mobile makes them re-evaluate WordPress from ground up. The WP dashboard allows you to do a lot of things, but for new people,it can be intimidating. For mobile, you reduce, you get it down to key elements, and it can be beautiful. Automattic has more people on mobile apps that the core wordpress. Get about 80m uniques on mobile, and tend to generate more page views (eg with ipads), Expect a slow growth for mobile to be the main interface.

Om asks if WP wants to get into the devices (eg cameras etc). Matt is start seeing the first round of smart cameras. The Nikon one, you can run WP on it. You can get devices that autopost, but not into that. The ration between creation and consumption needs to be right.

Dec 06

LeWeb 12: Brian Solis and changing behaviours

liveblogged – with mistakes

Brian Solis, Principal, Altimeter Group

Le Web Paris Dec 2012

Two years ago, discussed the Human API, where you body is open to connections. The internet of things is not just devices and data. I like the concept of superheroes and experiences. You have an opportunity to define what we are going to do as consumers. Give an app to do something better than you did before or give great experiences. I want to talk to you about opportunities around the IoT. Data and devices are everywhere. How many of us are doing things because you can. But I want to challenge you to not just do something there is a problem..but how can you change my behaviour. That is the real opp, because otherwise it’s just data and tech

We are building an incredible human network, where people, info and experiences are coming together. People talk and worry about big data, but what are we doing with it that counts, to make something that matters. We are not even seizing the opps that we have today. Altimeter refer to this as the sentient world..it’s all coming together. But what about what we don’t see. The IoT connects devices and people…but what else. It is getting better…but it’s going to be generic. Labels that don’t mean a thing, that don’t inspire you.

What are we going to do with all of this in a way that matters. When thinking back to conversations about human API, we have the opp to make tech do something, to change things. But there has to be something more. We have devices that allow us to do things – open a door, change the temp. They are utilities. But what else can the do. It’s not just controlling things, it’s about surroundings and experiences. If the medium is the message, how can the medium influence how the message is perceived. It is the interpretation of the data that allows us to do something different. here,. we have the opp to find what that it is. Some of you will develop amazing utilities. But can you deliver amazing experiences.

THe Human ALgorithm – people are at the centre – are you making things easier, to do something, to have something. I want you to give me something that I didn’t know I want. I want you to know where I’m going when in the car…to advise and communicate. That idea and dreams are what I want you to do. It is that vision that takes you beyond the idea. It is about making the idea better in the first place. We have not tapped that human algorithm enough, it is you and me and the possible.

Jobs wanted to create an experience. He could take ideas and make them better. believe that he had cracked the code for the Human algorithm, He thought differently. The idea is to deliver experiences that ties together all of this information. All of the digital breadcrumbs we lay out are powerful, how do we connect them. So how about a fridge that knows when you are running out, to get things into your cart and have it done automatically. That is a utility, that is cool. But is that good enough? YOu have tech that is tracking you, connecting with doctors etc. But it’s still just the beginning. Fitbit helps you think about living a healthier lifestyle. But it connects you with other people to encourage you. So thinking about the experience about how it brings you closer to friends and family., You are designing an experience with the sole job of making you a better human being.

These life hacks are now just becoming part of life. As designers and investors we should look for more opps to change lives. We are getting re-wired with all this tech but who is the architect.Who thinks through the experiences. We should not be surprised when people do different things with products. It is about designing an experience to change behaviour -0 ie how babies interact with ipads and then magazines.

Experience architecture is brand new, it is something that we all get to decide. How do you make it better and change things. If you make a new experience, a life hack, that helps me become something I wanted to be or do something I could not before, then that is good. Experiences that trigger the changes…because of your designs. To change behaviour, to force new trends, to make people want to follow you.

To design the future of IoT, we need to think about filtering out the noise, There is not enough innovation and vision. How you can add social hooks that get people together, to get people to talk about it. To buy a lifestyle not a product. How we predict who people will react. Anticipate needs and inspirations.

It comes down to this. Life is about creating and living experiences that are worth sharing. It is about how people interact with the IoT. It comes down to you, as the EA. You are going to help me change my behaviour and have new experiences. You are not just developing products, services and solutions, you can be a Experience Architect to help me change the way I live my life.