What we share online in 60 seconds

60 Seconds - Things That Happen On Internet Every Sixty Seconds

For online communications in a world where information can be shared in an instant, does blogging still matter? Choose the shortest format to tell your story and work back from there to cover the different platforms where your audience resides

Neville Hobson, also known as @jangles, has posted a recent presentation to Slideshare: Is there any point in blogging? The slides are a great walkthrough the different formats now popular for communicating online and how organisations can use the channels effectvely. Also included in the slides is the infographic above. Published in June 2011 by GO-Gulf.com, it gives a real feel for the massive volume of opinions flowing across the Internet and why ‘big data’ matters. Imagine being able to mine those insights in real-time to influence decisions.

Here’s Jangles slidedeck:

And back to the question that forms the title. Is there any point in blogging? Well here I am, writing a blog post… ūüôā But the answer, in true consulting style is ‘it depends’. The overall value is definitely lower than 5 years ago due to the sheer number of blogs out there. Thanks to power laws and long tails, discoverability now has little correlation with quality of the content. Industries that benefit from visuals and location-awareness may find short format alternatives like Instagram and Pinterest of more benefit than the longer format of traditional text-y blog posts.

Two tips to get the most value out of blogging/online communications:

  • If you have to pick one medium, choose the shortest format that tells the story. Work back from there.
  • Make the content available on the platforms that your target audience inhabits.

Microsoft introduces Outlook.com

Today Microsoft has announced a major overhaul to their online email service, Hotmail.

Pointless sidenote: Somebody told me about Hotmail back in 1997 and I originally had the address snr@hotmail.com but lost it when I forgot about the account. When I next logged in, after Microsoft had acquired it (around 1999 I think), the nearest I could get to snr included a 4-digit number tagged on the end….

Anyways, back to the subject of this post. Microsoft have announced a new updated version of the service that will use the domain Outlook.com named after their popular email client. However, the interface is not Outlook as we know it but instead adopts the new Metro user interface being introduced with Windows 8 and also being applied to just about all of Microsoft’s online services.

Here’s a screenshot (click on it to view larger):

Screenshot from Outlook.com inbox

Should enjoy an empty inbox while it lasts…

Note the sidebar down the right side of the screen. Lots of emphasis on social networks and sharing contacts and content.

Here’s a preview video from Microsoft

[ba-youtubeflex videoid=”uDI6Itn7soQ”]

Interesting to see Skype integration highlighted. Lots more details and screenshots included in the Verge article, link below.

Source: The Verge, 31 July 2012

Networks need individuals who care

A news story did the social media rounds earlier this year – Why we’re renaming Tiger Bread to Giraffe Bread by J Sainsbury plc.

Pop over and read the story. A three-year-old called Lily, with the help of her mother, wrote to Sainsbury’s supermarket suggesting that the markings on their Tiger Bread look more like a giraffe than a tiger.¬† The response got blogged, liked 150,000 times on Facebook and Tweeted 48,000 times. People started contacting the supermarket supporting the suggestion and…

In response to overwhelming customer feedback that our Tiger Bread has more resemblance to a giraffe, from today we will be changing our Tiger Bread to Giraffe Bread and seeing how that goes.

Full marks for using such human language in the announcement above instead of the corporate speak we all too often still see. But at the core of this story is the individual nature of the response written to Lily. Had it been a bland statement, I doubt it would have gone viral.

The image below contains the response that Sainsbury’s sent to Lily

From the letter:

I think renaming tiger bread giraffe bread is a brilliant idea – it looks much more like the blotches on a giraffe than the stripes on a tiger, doesn’t it?

It is called tiger bread because the the first baker who made it a looong time ago thought that it looked like stripey like a tiger. Maybe they were a bit silly.

I really liked reading your letter so I thought I would send you a little present. I’ve put a ¬£3 gift card in with this letter. If you ask your mum or dad to take you to Sainsbury’s you could use it to buy some of your own tiger bread (and maybe if mum and dad say its OK you can get some sweeties too).

What a lovely response. And written directly to Lily, not her parents. You can see why her mom decided to blog about it. I wonder if this was a one off from an excellent customer manager or the approach encouraged by Sainsbury’s? It’s not the only example. Recently, somebody complained about one of¬†Sainsbury’s sandwiches on Twitter:

Another Sainsbury’s Twitter account replied with a phone number to call and an apology

[sorry] you had to wrestle your way through the sandwich.

Much of the debate about social media is focused on the shift in speed and spread of communications thanks to Internet and mobile technologies. A good or bad story can spread virally and the organisation impacted by that story can do little to control it. Enter the corporate social media handbook and analytics tools.

What is rarely acknowledged is that all memorable stories involve individuals who cared enough to do something different. Being able to provide a quick, tailored outcome appropriate to the situation requires a skill. A skill that isn’t sufficiently recognised.¬† Would I be writing about tiger giraffe bread if Lily had received a standard scripted corporate response?

For social media efforts to be truly valuable for business, you need people who care and enjoy what they are doing. How organisations train and treat their employees matters more than ever. The focus is too often on investing in technology rather than in recruiting the right people.


Video interview about Olympic IT

BCS interview image

The British Computer Society/Chartered Institute for IT has posted an interview with the Metropolitan Police’s Director of IT, Stephen Whatson, who’s been tasked with the IT infrastructure for the Olympics this year.¬† Includes some interesting comments about the preparation and decisions made. Video embedded below (Flash player required).


Source: BCS – Video interview: Olympic IT, Apr 2012

Friday fun: TED talk from 2023

TED Talk 2023

Ridley Scott and Damon Lindelof have created a TED Talk of the future, featuring a character from their upcoming movie Prometheus (that may or may not be a prequel to Alien, sure looks like a prequel from the trailer).¬† You could argue it’s nothing more than advertising to help promote the movie, it could be equally fitting as a promo for The Terminator. But it does demonstrate the power, for good or ill intent, in delivering a strong and well-prepared speech.

Damon Lindelof also did a Q&A blog post discussing the thinking behind the idea

In really, really good science fiction the line between the science and the fiction is blurry.

Prometheus takes place in the future, but it’s a movie about ideas, and I just felt like it would be really cool to have one of the characters from the movie give a TEDTalk.

I can also highly recommend his favourite TED Talks in the article, I think Ken Robinson’s was the first I watched many years ago.

Here’s the TED Talk from the future:

Peter Weyland at TED2023: I will change the world

Link to the related blog post: Writing a TED Talk from the future – Q&A with Damon Lindelof

And link to my favourite TED talk: Ken Robinson ‘Schools kill creativity’ <- quite apt reminder given a new report just out in the UK stressing the need to encourage arts as much as maths and science in schools.

Growing thicker skins

Shut Up!

At the start of the month came the news that a teacher was suspended over comments made on Facebook:

in which she said she felt like a “warden” overseeing “future criminals.”

Now, if you were the parent of a child attending her school, you might not be impressed with the comment. But before storming the school gates, perhaps pause for thought first. Did it warrant a suspension versus a warning about talking shop on Facebook and looking into what caused the comment?

Organisations continue to struggle with social media tools like Facebook and Twitter, whether it is using them as part of work or coping with their use outside of work.

And so do individuals. We are all going to have to develop thicker skins as our lives become increasingly transparent to others and our foibles get exposed to a much bigger audience than ever happened in the past.  But it goes both ways. More fool the HR department that bins a candidate because they did something stupid and posted it online in their youth. They should worry more about those with an opaque history.