Apparently it is here. The summer of 2012. Not that the weather seems to have taken notice, but I refuse to have that spoil my summer. I thought I would leave a couple of lines here as it has been quiet on my blog lately. Not because I do not have things to write about, or because I am taking it easy. On the contrary, it has been busier than the last couple of months. I have been mentoring startups, having had great conversations with two startups at LeWeb London and coaching others to Startupbootcamp’s Demo Day in Amsterdam. I have gone over a large site for a government organisation to help them improve their content. And I am working with Logos Hope on a proposal for a completely new online extension of their ship.
Next week me and my family will join TeenStreet in Germany where I will do the English to Dutch translations. And where I will generally be hanging out. My wife Linda will be working with teens there, so whe will have enough on her hands. In the meantime that will give me the opportunity to gather my thoughts for after the summer. I still have two great initiatives that I have started on, but that are not launch-ready yet. Check out 48 Hours to Code and Techpastors for a little information on those. If you want to participate, or want to know more, let me know.
For now, I wish that the summer will be awesome for you. I wish that the things you do and see will trigger you to start the new season afresh with an urge to explore the world, the net and the people around you. And regardless of the weather, I wish that you will come back rested, fuelled up and full of enthusiasm to build something awesome, something that can fully captivate your attention, fuel your passions and build up our world for good.
To be honest, after my last post, I really wanted to like Google Chrome for iOS. I really, really did. Yes, I rely heavily on Google’s products. I use gmail and have three apps accounts with all the assorted documents. I use both Chrome and Chrome Canary on my Mac and Chrome on my Nexus S. So, when Google announced Chrome for iOS, that sounded great.
Some of Chrome’s functions sounded like someone finally got it. Especially sharing open tabs across devices. I have that often. I have been browsing the web in the evening on the couch, then come across something I really want to continue on the Mac the next day. And all there was to do with Safari, was copy the link and send it. Or type it on the Mac the next morning. All very annoying.
And yes, that feature works. I can now see the tabs from my Mac on my iPad, on my Phone and all the other ways around. However, Chrome has one major problem for me. And it is something that always happens with Google. I don’t know why, but it always does. Google Chrome does not play well with its own products. And I mean gmail specifically. To be honest, there are only two tabs that remain open on my iPad at all times. One is Gmail. And it works fine on the Safari browser on the iPad where it will show the mobile version. However, on Chrome, it tries to load the desktop version and fails miserably. When I leave it to load the page completely, it crashes. When I want to select messages before it finishes loading, it opens them, then crashes. In all honesty, whatever I do, in the end, when the page finishes loading, it crashes.
I know. It is probably just me. Who in their right minds still possesses the Original iPad, right? And still uses it. I mean, Apple has more or less stated that when they decided not to bring iOS6 to the iPad one, though the technology can still take it. Maybe that is the trouble with Chrome as well. I don’t know.
But in reality, there might be something that is flawed in the basics of Google Chrome. Sharing the tabs is great. However, some of the sites just need to be viewed in mobile instead of the full version you use on your computer. And there seems to be no intelligence filtering that out. That, even though I love Gmail’s desktop interface, it is unusable on the iPad where fingers are bigger than mouse pointers. So, that needs the mobile interface. However, others like Facebook, I want to use in their desktop guise. Oh, and there is the minor issue that I don’t like to have the browser I use crash every five minutes.
Get that sorted though, and Chrome might be worth using for me.
Yes, I watched (part of) the Google I/O keynote today. And I loved it. There are reasons why I have an Android phone, and Google I/O is one of those reasons. I have to be careful not to write yet another Google versus Apple piece, but lets face it, there is something about Google.
Just to get this out of the way, yes I have an Android phone. But I also have a MacBook and an iPad. Oh, and three Windows machines. So, how partial am I? I don’t know. After WWDC I decided that when the iPhone 5 would be released, I would get it. Now I am watching the Google I/O I want to stay with the Nexus series. The reason? Everything around it.
The way I see it, if we look at Google and Apple, we have two very different companies here. If you buy an Apple, you know you are getting great quality. It will work great and fluently and will keep on doing so for years to come. But more and more Apple has become the ‘safe bet’. The one to go for, because you know it will boost your productivity. The stuff you use will be integrated and the new features are cool enough and designed well enough to make you want one.
And then Sergei Brin walks on stage, completely messes up a reasonable Google+ presentation to have four people jump out of a blimp about a mile above the conference center to have a Google Glass brought in. With the live jump on Google Hangout, the stunting mountainbikers, the climber abseiling from the building. So much could go wrong. But they do it live. Why? Because that is their passion.
The Google I/O is not as slick as the Apple WWDC. To be honest the two people presenting the background for Google Glass should never have been on that stage. They were not very good presenters in the first place. But unlike Apple, Google bares it all. You see the people behind it, you see that sometimes little things go wrong and the whole world can watch it happen. And that is what attracts me to Google products. They bare it all. They show you the gears, the nuts and bolts if you will, and they are not afraid to show you that it is greasy inside.
Is my Nexus S perfect? Nope. Far from it. After a year of using it, I could really do with a new Nexus. It has that problem more than my iPhone did. But it is a love and hate relationship because of that same reason. After Google released Ice Cream Sandwich, it uploaded to my phone automatically a little later. It makes you feel like you are part of the progress. It gives it something of a tech cool. I cannot put my finger on it, but it does.
Well done Google. Well done for taking the risk, well done for pushing it forward. And I am sorry I wasn’t at the Moscone Center today. (If nothing else, because now I do not get that free Galaxy Nexus phone, Nexus Q, a Nexus 7 tablet and the Jelly Bean preview.)
This was a conversation with Roberto Kusabbi from the British Heart Foundation and Euan Semple from Voice. Really, this is an overview of a number of things that have been discussed. And it includes a number of suggestions and experiences that will be very beneficial to you if you are looking to use social media for a non profit organization.
At the British Heart Foundation (BHF), they put social first. They do not consider it as a bolt on at the end, but everything needs to be centered around being social. That makes a huge difference in how you create the things you share, but also your ad campaigns for instance.
One of the biggest challenges Voice has found with their clients who are non profits is that it is hard to sell the idea into the organization. Even though as a charity you have a unique audience that is looking to connect to you, it is sometimes quite difficult to help the organization to get a vision to engage with people outside. And to be honest, it can be a quite daunting situation if you are a 14 year old that they have asked to tweet on behalf of a charity. Mainly because you were the only one they knew who was using social media tools in the first place. And if something goes wrong, people can jump on you from great height. These are the issues that need to be addressed.
You cannot just add a brand name, you need to add value to the community. That is the main thing for BHF to gain traction in their recent campaigns. And for them the promoted tweets were great value for money. Six months later they are still going over the data. And as a result of their campaign they have found 60 people that have said that after seeing the video on Facebook and Twitter, they have saved people’s lives. That for them has been absolutely incredible.
For Voice, another challenge that exists is that the level of experience of their client groups have is very basic. And their clients are very cautious about getting involved. Another reason for that is because it is harder to get budget allotted to online engagement. And then there are lots of questions to be answered. What to do, who to talk to, how does it work etc. Most of the people have not used social media on a personal level, so that creates a whole new situation. They get into new relationships that they have not been in before.
Roberto says that the biggest challenge is the culture within the organization. To be successful you need belief. Non profits are not built to be social internally. We are lucky at BHF, but that is what we see. You need to have clear leadership on the inside, so you can be social to the outside. If you use it well, you can do a lot more work through social media, but it is a cultural shift. Social is by definition quick and spontaneous. You can plan campaigns and other things, but it is important to be quick and spontaneous.
Euan shares that his dream is that everyone within a non profit can blog. There are many things that are intriguing to the outside that you take for granted on the inside. And it is the mundane that is interesting for the outside world. Luckily we see that more and more non profits realize that they have been hiring media companies to thick boxes, but that they need to more than that to be successful. Roberto jumps in and says that even though the content strategy is not sexy to talk about, it is vital to have good content. Once you are on the way with that you can create new content together with the people around you.
Euan reminds of statement Halley Suitt wrote which said “content is a pimp word”. Having a content strategy often sets off a bell for him as it can also mean you are feeding content into a machine. And that is the antithesis of personal contact.
Both agree that it is easier for newer organizations to integrate social. It is a lot harder to make that cultural shift for organizations that have been around for longer. And that is probably the biggest problem for non profits. A great bonus for charities, is that commercial organizations need to look for an ideal to sell, but charities have that ideal ready. That does give them an advantage.
The last question asked is whether they will be using Kickstarter for fundraising? But that is a route that is not new and other have done that already. Kiva is also a very good platform to raise funds on as that makes it easier to see where your money goes.
As a last addition Roberto adds that gaming companies are interesting to non profits as well. Not to just use the fashionable term gamification, but it can be very beneficial to apply game techniques to what non profits are doing.
The most important two words by Jan Rezab for his presentation were “socially devoted”. In all honesty, social media marketing so far has been mostly broadcasting. Companies are sending out their messages proactively, but they are still just sending out their messages. The interaction also needs to be social reactive. A conversation has two sides that means that both speak and listen. That part has been missing in many cases. Right now Emarketer says 80 or 90% of the companies are active in social media. But only a very small percentage of them is doing it well. At LeWeb Socialbakers presents a study that they have done for Facebook, but they intend to gather similar figures for other networks as well. From the figures they have gathered, they have deducted three main points that you can use as guidelines to becoming more socially devoted as a company.
They have put those three points into a very basic manifest:
1. Opening yourselves. Do not close your Facebook wall, or close your profile be open.
2. Responding to fan questions. At least 75% of questions needs to be answered
3. Communicating in a timely fashion. The industry standard is 28 hours to give an answer, which is much too long. You will not wait in a store for an answer for 28 hours.
Then Jan Rezab shows a couple of examples. Claro answers 90% of its question within 19 minutes. They are doing well. But If we look at car companies, that are effectively social companies, they answer just 17% of their customers’ questions.
Shockingly, Disney, American Express, Xbox, Skype, British Airways, McDonalds all have their walls on Facebook closed. What are they afraid of? Why do they not dare to answer the questions of their customers?
Through quick response and being socially devoted, Vodafone UK didn’t just cut the amount of questions through the regular channels, but they made 1 million Pounds in upsales. That can be completely assigned to being socially devoted to their customers.
Having a personal touch in social media is important. There are companies that are trying to automate the process like they have automated the phone services but really, do not automate it. You cannot automate real human interaction and the result comes from real human interaction.
Interestingly enough, with gains at close reach, we still see that 70% of all fan questions are not responded to. Which is strange if we factor in the efforts we make in marketing. We spend a lot of money to get people interested. But once we have them interested or once they have become a client, they are socially ignored. In 70% of the cases they do not receive answers to their questions. And that is a great challenge for companies.
If you want to read up on Socialbakers manifest, read up on it on http://www.socially-devoted.com. And if you want to, you can help to extend the manifest.
Over today I have seen a number of startup presentations and I have two startups come to me to pitch. Naturally, I love that. I love startups. However, there are times when you had better think your story over again. There are multiple questions that people will ask you over and over again. And if you are smart, you include them in your pitch.
I know this has been written about hundreds of times. But there are so many things that you can improve on your pitch.
Tell everyone your unique selling point. If you are not original and you are not able to communicate that to me. I will not use you. And neither will others.
Be confident in your product. Half of your presentation is how you present your pitch to me. If you are confident, I will be more confident in your product.
Check who is doing the same thing. Really, if you have not found them, you probably have not been looking hard enough.
Be social. Two startups I talked to today said that social network integration was on their roadmap for the future. That tells me that I cannot share it with my friends, nor will that bring my friends into your app. Bad thing. This is not a point on your horizon. This is something to do NOW before your startup dies.
Get your business model right. If your business model is completely based on advertising, think again. If you believe that your users are not willing to pay for your product, that means it is not worth anything to them. Rethink it.
Be original. Both in presentation as well as the way in which you present it. If you are passionate about your product, how on earth can your presentation be boring?
Don’t overcomplicate things. Both in technology as well as in wording. Yes, I want to know what it does. But no, I do not want to know the scripting language of your engine explained to me in seven syllable words.
Be clear. Of course you have a unique new technology that will able to beat your competition. But by all means, tell me how. Just saying that it exists is not enough. If it is defines what will become the user experience or if it defines your future value, name it. In simple terms, but name it.
Don’t kill your own story. Wordings like “we are completely unique”, “nobody else does it this way” or even statements like “Google and Facebook have not discovered this kind of” or “we can do this better than Google and Facebook because they are too big” will kill your story. People will shake their heads or even laugh and discard you as a dreamer that cannot be taken seriously as you don’t know what you are talking about.
Practice your pitch. You need to be able to tell me in 30 seconds what you are doing and I need to be able to understand in the same time. If you cannot tell me in 30 seconds, there is a fair chance you don’t have it clear yourself. So, practice. And not just to your friends or your mirror, but find your local Ikea. Why? Go stand next to the elevator and ask people if you can explain your business to them and that you just want to hear from them whether they have understood it. Don’t sell anything to them. Just have them listen and tell you whether they understand it. Because if they can, you do.
Focus on your strong points. Even if you only have two, that might just be your unique and minimum viable product. Twitter only had 140 character sharing and Instagram did a slightly different cut out for mobile pictures that got hit by a filter. That is not much, but it was enough. And they went from there.
By all means, go. Have ideas. Turn them into quick concepts and build them. And as that is a passionate period for you, please keep that passion alive for your presentation.
Picture from LeWeb London by Jamie Oliver on Instagram
Kevin Systrom, co-founder and CEO of Instagram and Jamie Oliver, cook, telivision personality and avid social media user took the stage together this morning. And the whole story of the way in which they know each other started when Kevin found a sneaky way of putting the Instagram app on Jamie Oliver’s phone about a year ago. And the next day he started to use it in his daily life.
Through the pictures he shares, Jamie sees that some things work better than others and some work more easy than others. And that is the way in which he uses it. He shares from his passion and then it is good to see when the things work and when they don’t. He took a picture of him being eaten by zombies one day, and that definitely didn’t work, so he immediately took it off. That is the reason why he likes Instagram. Like he says, when you have a 6 year old nephew who is using it and a dad who is in his sixties and he is using it, then you know it is good.
For Jamie the success of pictures can be seen in the comments and the likes. Apparently nobody in his audience seems to be interested in LeWeb as that only 400 people liked it in 20 minutes. He uses Instagram as a vehicle to share his story and to share moments in his live. And the good part is that he can use it to update his twitter and his Facebook.
A while ago Jamie had to do a speech at Harvard and he just posted a written message on Instagram and he got lots of response. He did the same with a job opening he had and he looks at the 10 hours after it was posted. And he got 300 applications.
The good thing is that it takes him about 15 minutes a day to scan all his responses. So, that is not that bad. His attitude on it is that we are all novices at this stuff and what really seems to work is emotion and recipes. The recipes obviously are due to the audience that follows Jamie. And lots of people are getting his recipes for free. Just before coming on stage, he talked to a women doing makeup and she never bought a book, but she got the recipes from the internet for free. He laughs about it. “It is not good news as I am about publishing, but we need to find out how that works.”
Right now they have a team of 40 people who run JamieOliver.com. And he is an avid user of Instagram, Twitter and Facebook. Obviously if you have lots of followers and lots of people commenting, you always have jerks there. The good thing about Facebook is that you can just get rid of the comments that are just crap, not true etc. A form of curation is possible. At Twitter this is not possible. And there is a trouble in that, because people will say stuff that isn’t true and other people will pick up on it and quote it as the truth at some later point. And then you will need to get into defending that.
Another reason why Jamie loves Instagram is that when people express themselves through pictures, they share more beautiful things. And when people share in words, it will usually be less beautiful. It can get ugly.
A great example of what online did for Jamie Oliver is that at some point, the FDA in the USA allowed food that was supposed to be processed into dog food, to re-enter the food industry and to be processed for consumers as long as it has 25% of something in there. Obviously that makes it very low quality. So Jamie started to run stories about it online, and the attitude of the American people changed. That had an impact that was so big that in the end, McDonalds pulled out and after they went, everyone else stepped out as well. Jamie has an attitude towards sharing things. If you give the public good information, they usually make good decisions. And this shows.
Jamie really things the future is digital. “I really, really do.” A great example is the way in which the Food Revolution went from a small office to all over the planet just through digital. We have been talking about the fact that TV is going to be changing a lot in the future and then nothing happened. But his idea is that a lot will change in that respect in the coming three years.
When Loïc asked Jamie what his advice was for the entrepreneurs in the audience, Jamie laughs. He points to the popular page at Instagram. “If you want to be successful, just look at the popular page. It is boobs, pretty girls and dogs. So if you want to be big, do something about boobs, pretty girls and dogs.” But then he goes on saying that it is more important to do genuine sharing. It has to be genuine. That means it is about sharing your passion. For him personally, he does not give a success story on how he set up his business. “Genuinely, everything I do is purely driven by creative ideas. If they are good enough they will be successful and it will make money, if they aren’t, they don’t.” He does note the difference between San Francisco and London where when you walk into a coffee bar in SF, you will always hear new ideas buzzing around you. It is a melting pot of ideas. and that is just not as present in London.
Signing off, Jamie shares that if you want to talk to him, you are much more likely to get in touch with him through Instagram than through any other medium. “And thanks for invading LeWeb with an army of French. But for heavens sake, please make the croissants a bit better next time.”
Yes, we are on our way. LeWeb has just kicked off at its new London location. Over 1400 people from 50 countries have gathered. If you weren’t able to make it to London, don’t worry, you can follow everything from the comfort of your home. Check out the new live stream at YouTube.com/LeWeb.
I talk to a lot of startups about various subjects. I like those talks. Most startup owners are passionate about their ideas. They all believe theirs is the best idea in the world. And they all go for world domination. Unfortunately, many of them are living in a dream world. A world where everyone flocks to their app, service or product. Just because it is so incredibly brilliant. But lets face it, it rarely works like that.
The biggest trigger for people to use an app or a service is when they get invited by their friends. Or if they see their friends use it. This should not come as a suprise to you. So, really, if you are building a service or an app, make sure that you include a way to have your users share it with their friends. Through Facebook, Twitter, Pinterest or other serivces. Integrate Facebook’s Open Graph to give live updates on your users’ timeline. But whatever you build, make sure your users can use it with their friends. Your apps’ life depends on it.
As I returned to IRC today for the first time in at least six years, it struck me. Back in 1994 I was on a unix terminal and I used the internet for at least six to eight hours a day. My phone bills were astronomical. But everything was new. Everything was exciting. The internet, though in black and white and text only in Lynx, was this huge new universe that spanned the earth and had an unsaturable urge to grow into all possible directions. Back in 1995 I blagged my way into one of the Netherlands biggest mail order furniture retailers and sat across their marketing director explaining him why they needed to take their business online. Needless to say that he thought I was a lunatic and that people would never buy their couch online. They went bankrupt last year.
Five years ago I joined Twitter. I found that same kind of people. They were enthusiastic, eager to break the barriers. They saw opportunity everywhere. Nothing was too crazy. They were looking for the edge. The next direction of growth. New things were started daily.
And today? Today the internet has become a common good. And we notice. Everything seems to be smothered in marketing. Money and opportunities to make money seem to rule the sentiments online. Where are the modern day explorers? It is not like the internet has stopped expanding. It is not like there is nothing new on the horizon. And I strongly believe that there are many things beyond the horizon that will change our world forever.
As a kid, I read about the great explorers. And now it is time to get on that horse again. There is more out there. Way more. The only thing that is keeping us from progressing further is the comfort of the city that we have built around us. And it is time we find our way back to where we can enter the jungle from our paved roads and mirror glass buildings. It is time to go.
Amazing. It used to be that the motto for the Olympics was: “Participating is more important than winning”. But now that all seems to be changed. An article on photography website PetaPixel pointed me to the conditions on which you are buying your Olympic tickets. Amazingly, amongst a list of other things you are obliged to agree to or promise you won’t do, there is a rule about social networks.
19.6.3 Images, video and sound recordings of the Games taken by a Ticket Holder cannot be used for any purpose other than for private and domestic purposes and a Ticket Holder may not license, broadcast or publish video and/or sound recordings, including on social networking websites and the internet more generally, and may not exploit images, video and/or sound recordings for commercial purposes under any circumstances, whether on the internet or otherwise, or make them available to third parties for commercial purposes.
Yes, you have read that right, you are not allowed to post video, images or even sounds of the Olympic Games to social networks. Or to the internet in general.
Honestly? I knew the Olympic Games originated in ancient Greece. However, I did not know they still adhered to their standards of sharing the experience. Back in the day, drawings and word to mouth would have been the only ways to share what you have seen or heard. And it seems we are back there.
Sharing is dangerous. Especially if you have a high cost event. People might not want to buy tickets anymore. Or the television rights to your spectacle. And that is what it is about, isn’t it? Cashing is more important than allowing people to share their experience. So where is the new social business model for the Olympics? Where is the thought that sharing makes the event bigger? Makes it reach more people. Makes it the event even more worth it for sponsoring campaigns? Where are Olympic Games premium models? Buy a basic ticket and you have got access. But then the fun really starts.
Encourage sharing. And then offer extra’s through social networks. Allow others to experience the Olympics through official online offerings that can be shared with friends. After all, there are more seats outside the stadium than inside. Which means more potential. But a potential that you can only reach through the power of the visitors inside your stadiums. And for them, participating to reach their friends to share their experience is going to be much more fun than people tracking whether they have mistakenly done what they do in every day life. Sharing what they see and hear.
No, I am not an Ikea man. Even though we do own a remarkably uncluttered Ikea TV unit. But I have got to hand it to them, this is a cool step for Ikea to take. They are integrating the smart TV into their furniture. Remember how television producers from the early days did the same thing? They had to repackage TV’s because they were huge, unpractical and they took up a lot of space in your living room. So they created cupboards around them. The TV really became a TV unit. I bet you remember one of your great grandparents had one of those. And now it is back. But the other way around. Technology is becoming so small, that it is becoming unobtrusive in your living room. So, you can now integrate media into your furniture because you want the furniture. Not necessarily the TV.
Naturally, I wonder why they included a remote with it. Why can’t I just control it with my smartphone or tablet. And I wonder why they included a blue ray player like they did. Surely they must have been able to fit that into the TV as well. On the other hand, I like the fabrik that the remote control commands go straight through. And most of all, it leaves me to wonder what is going to be next. Will Ikea supplement the Uppleva with cupboards with speakers so you can create a 5.1 or even 7.1 wireless surround system? Just to hide speakers and still give you the experience and the storage in your living room. Or are they going to integrate juice bars for your phones and tablets into couches and coffee tables? There are endless possibilities now that technology is so easily available and cheap to include.
So, good start. Now go on Ikea, be more disruptive than your flat pack furniture made you before. 😉