Posts tagged ‘engagement’


Being answerable to your public (or, if you can’t engage now, can we expect you to in office?)

22.08.2013

One of my supporters Tweeted to say I was the only candidate at Vote.co.nz who has bothered to reply to citizens’ questions. It’s good for me, but sad to see my opponents so disengaged. I was also surprised to see that only three of us have bothered to register for the website this time, despite its reasonably high traffic in each election.
   We each get notifications of these questions via email. I receive over 300 emails a day, which I gather is just slightly below what the current mayor gets. I take the questions seriously because they are often about things that I have failed to cover in my manifesto in sufficient depth. I don’t wish citizens to conclude that I haven’t given them a lot of thought, too, especially since I’ve had my manifesto out for such a long time—months before anyone else decided they had policies they could share.
   Here are a few for your interest.

Mr Vasquez asks:

What will you do to ensure a racially tolerant, diverse and peaceful Wellington City?
   Recently, we saw on the news the appalling racial tirade against a Pakistani-born taxi driver. While everyone seemed to rebuke the actions of Mr Shuttleworth, I found that Ms Devoy’s response was weak and non-committal. This is the excerpt of her response that I found very disturbing: “Freedom of expression and freedom of speech allows us to be as offensive as we like without being able to do anything…” Really?? Are we now supposed to condone this type of behaviour and just shrug our shoulders? New Zealand law prohibits this type of behaviour as detailed in the Human Rights Act 1993. In the UK, Australia and US, ‘Hate speech’ is punishable by imprisonment.
   I would like to know what your views are on this issue, and how you yourself would have responded. Also, what can you offer to do as Mayor of Wellington to ensure we remain a racially tolerant, diverse and peaceful society?

My reply: As probably the only candidate who has been a victim of racism in our own city, I would have been firmer, because I can speak from the heart about such matters more sincerely. I don’t consider intoxication to be an excuse and that Mr Shuttleworth needs to get to the root cause of just why he acted in this way. I believe the incident to have been inappropriate and would have said so, assuming I had been asked for comment. I did not condone, for instance, the Paul Henry attacks on Indians on television (and was public about it). Sadly, we are faced with a great deal of casual racism where minorities have to come forth and say, ‘Hey, I heard that, and I’m not thrilled by it.’ This can only change by people seeing more from different communities serve in public roles, and this is one of the many reasons I have chosen to stand.
   However, the decision to charge Mr Shuttleworth had to come from the police or, if it was a breach of the Human Rights Act, then from the Human Rights Commission, and I do not believe I would have interfered with their decision.
   One of my policies from day one, since I announced them in April, is to promote unity. A mayor has to live by example. This means engaging with all sectors of our community, regardless of class or ethnic origin, and giving everyone the equal opportunity to have a voice and to have access to me.

Marcus asks: ‘What will you do to make Wellington a more child friendly city?’
   My reply: When I said I would reach out to all sectors of our community, I meant children as well. Too often they are ignored because politicians don’t see value in non-voters. As for me, I’ve put my hand up because at some stage, I’d like to start a family here, and I’ve retained my connections with St Mark’s and Scots College, where I was educated, running the alumni association of the former and serving on the Old Boys’ Association of the latter.
   The best way to find out how a city can be more child-friendly is not to ask an adult, but to ask children. That means allowing them access to the mayor. I’ve actually been living this through social media over the last six years, where I have been able to hear from teens. As to even younger groups, I can foresee visiting schools—which I have done regularly as well.
   One of the reasons I’ve put so much effort into innovation and creativity is that I want our city’s youngest minds to have the right stimuli. At libraries and some public sites, I would love to see small workstations that can keep children entertained with educational programs, especially as they can be acquired for low cost and help alleviate the cuts in library funding.
   I’ve seen how the Shakespeare Globe Centre here in Wellington promotes theatre, again targeting youth (albeit a slightly older group), and our city should continue providing funding to such bodies that encourage creativity.
   We need to invest in physical education with the cuts to these programmes in a lot of schools. Wellington should have set activities that lead to the physical health of our youth and that means encouraging volunteers and allowing kids easy access to community and sport centres. These programmes can be child-created online, with parental supervision, so it’s kids creating for kids.
   Essentially, if we don’t hear from children today, then how can we claim to create a city for our future? We need them to know they are being listened to, so that they don’t have the same cynicism about local government that many of us adults possess. Treat children as valuable members of society and not talk down to them, and they will step up to the mark.

Peter asks: ‘What’s your position on fluoridation of water?’
   Peter, I support ongoing fluoridation. One of my friends has a son with a congenital heart defect, so fluoride helps him for a start, to avoid dental infections that can bring on myocarditis. A few of my friends are against fluoridation, and I admire their conviction, but I have to look at what the academic research says (especially as a candidate who says we need to work with our tertiary institutions more closely). Since I contribute to academic journals myself and am on the editorial board of one, I know the processes, and I take peer review seriously.

Claire asks: ‘What’s your position on cycling as a mode of transport in Wellington, and how would you support (or not) an increase in the number of people riding for transport and the safety of the mode?’
   Thanks to my work overseas, especially in København and Stockholm, I support cycling, for the obvious health and environmental benefits. One of my policies in both elections was the idea of a market weekend, where we close off the central city to traffic in the summer, apeing what we do for the movie premières. This would allow people to enjoy Wellington in a friendly, enjoyable environment. Cyclists would be encouraged. Longer-term, this would allow us to see how we could manage greater pedestrianization for our city, in line with what is happening in western Europe, and such a setting would encourage cycling as a more acceptable mode of transport.
   Safety has to come about through road-use education and I accept it is hairy for cyclists out there. Putting money into driver education, and working with the police to target difficult motorists, would be on the agenda. In theory, I would like to get eDrive involved, too, as an excellent virtual reality simulator to help with driver observation, but as it is a company that I have an involvement with, I would have to recuse myself from taking part in that decision.

Patrick asks: ‘What are your policies on climate change?’
   I applaud the city for establishing a target for a low-carbon, eco-conscious future but we need to move toward it actively. In 2003, I began working with the United Nations Environment Programme on one of our businesses, and the same year, I was one of the authors of an early Carbon Neutral business book, Beyond Branding (back when people were asking, ‘What is carbon-neutral and why should I care?’). My policy of working with the C40 is to share best-practice ideas on managing climate change, while my policy on transparency covers our need to disclose, manage and reduce our greenhouse gas emissions and energy consumption. That way we know which areas need addressing, and set an example. By having greater engagement—something I have been doing anyway in my businesses—we will share this knowledge with others in the city, and encourage all Wellingtonians, especially businesses, to adopt these best practices. Solar energy is also another area in which I want to make real advances, and I am already working with businesses to see what solutions can be cost-effectively promoted to Wellingtonians, beyond what current energy providers can do. I believe, due to the limited size of the industry at present, there is huge growth potential here, which will be good for the environment as well as jobs—I’m already excited about what new innovations will stem from Wellington-created solutions that we can license to others and export.

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Posted in business, globalization, internet, leadership, New Zealand, politics, social responsibility, technology, Wellington | No Comments »


Instaspam: has Instagram jumped the shark?

30.03.2013


The tipping-point has been reached: on some of my photos, fake Instagram account likers outnumber human beings. In terms of comments, spam outnumbers real ones. Of my last ten likers, nine were fake accounts. And we know that when some sites get to this point, they begin dying.
   Yet it’s frightfully easy to spot the fake accounts. Many have the same description, or a mixed combination of various sentences (e.g. ‘Bacon trailblazer. Friendly pop culture ninja. Unapologetic gamer. Beer enthusiast’). Many have the same photographs—both profile and content.
   The problem has gone on for weeks, even months, but on the social networks now is the hashtag #Instaspam—something Facebook’s thousand million-dollar purchase might come to be known by, if the company doesn’t get a handle on fake accounts.
   A few of the ones I reported a fortnight ago still have active accounts, so I wonder if anyone there cares.
   Yet, if folks like us can spot a fake account a mile away, how come the real experts—the boffins whose Nginx servers are being dragged down by this—haven’t been able to target them?
   But this is Facebook, I remind myself: a company that stopped caring years ago.
   I remember the good old days when I received replies from Facebook staff, from basic issues to trade mark disputes. Those days are long gone, and Instagram is now part of the big machine.
   In the last few weeks, I’ve been losing feature after feature on Facebook, with links that can no longer be clicked on, tags that can no longer be done with a person’s first name alone, and other little glitches. But we know that Facebook is broken, and even bug reports are now considered spam.
   It’s in direct contrast to Tumblr, which reached 100,000,000 users over the last week. The company is still in the habit of replying to emails and while some of those are copy-and-paste ones, at least you know something is being looked at. Since a lot of fake Instagram accounts have fake Tumblogs tied to them, I’ve reported my fair share—and received either an automated response or a personal one from Tumblr.
   It makes you wonder if Tumblr staff use their service and understand the user experience—all of its recent changes actually work and are bug-free, and are improvements on the service—while Instagram is now in the Facebook culture of “too big to care”.
   And that’s the distinction between understanding your public and being locked up in your ivory tower, dealing with only the issues at hand.
   If I deal with a company, I’d like to know that the leaders have a good grasp of their communities, as well as the world at large. If it’s just about them and their boards, then it’s a cinch that things aren’t healthy there—and, sometimes, a clue to dropping share prices.
   Even at the city or state level, that engagement is vital—which brings me to this interview with California Lieutenant-Governor Gavin Newsom.
   It’s been fascinating reading Gavin’s views in this interview, where he mirrors some of my thoughts about bottom-up governance and citizen engagement (you know, the stuff I talked about in my 2010 campaign). Sometimes, if you elect politicians, you get politics as usual. Put in someone who has had real business experience—Gavin has 17 businesses—and you might start getting ideas for real change.
   Stop engaging, as Facebook and Instagram have, and we may be looking at another Vox: a site which, in the late 2000s, also let spam get out of hand. Splogs were being set up in an automated fashion, left, right and centre. Legitimate bloggers, as I was on that site, were locked out. Eventually, Six Apart, which owned Vox, shut the place down—despite a healthy community of real bloggers. But even toward the end, things were looking less and less viable. Instagram could well have jumped the shark—and if the issue isn’t fixed, it could be to Facebook what Myspace was to the Murdoch Press.

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Posted in business, internet, politics, technology, USA | 4 Comments »


Leaders need to be humble if co-creation is to be effective

22.08.2012

I’d been meaning to refer readers to this for a few weeks (it has appeared on my Facebook pages, including the “fan” page—a good place to go if you prefer my musings filtered, without the minutiæ and without clogging up your feeds). My friend and colleague, Dr Nicholas Ind, has been writing about leadership and the need for leaders to show humility—not divisiveness—in an age when we expect co-creation to bring out the best in organizations.
   Nicholas begins, ‘So in spite of the rise of participation in the workplace and the appreciation of emotional intelligence as a virtue, the prevailing way of leading is still more Fordist than Googleist.’ And yet, he argues, it shouldn’t be. We’ve often looked at how responsive flat start-ups are, and how larger organizations seek to capture that sort of energy—and the simple answer lies, often, in their creativity. But those leaders that try to push certain agenda, or a cult of personality, without respecting the capability or mix of their teams, suffer in the 2010s, because the organizations cease to be creative. Layers emerge, sycophants congregate, and institutionalization sets in. Much like in politics.
   Ideally, the best ideas should surface to the top, given the opportunity, and given the right sort of structure. And that the input cannot come exclusively from within the organization: co-creation must involve audiences, notably customers—in politics, it must involve citizens and voters.
   Back to Nick:

The newer argument is that innovation matters more and more. The issue has, therefore, become not only how to engage employees, but also how to get closer to customers and involve them in the development of brands … The upside of involving customers is the creativity and cognitive diversity of the very people who will be buying and using what the company produces. The downside is the threat to the certainty of leadership and the sanctity of the leader.

But, he rightly notes, good leaders should never fear that threat. The best know their weaknesses, and seek help on them through listening to the organization’s audiences—and have good systems through which they can. ‘Leaders can still exercise influence and judgement,’ he writes, ‘but the decision-making process becomes more collective.’ If one has risen to a leadership position, one should have a fairly developed sense of self-awareness. And, one would hope, a sense of dignity and decorum that ties well with humility.
   There’s more in Nicholas’s latest book, written with Clare Fuller and Charles Trevail, Brand Together: How Co-Creation Generates Innovation and Re-energizes Brands, which I’ll be getting once I finish The Organic Organisation.

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Posted in branding, business, leadership, politics, UK, Wellington | No Comments »


The fall of Facebook advertising and the rise of something else

14.07.2012

I remember when Michael Wolff was very bullish about the internet in the 1990s, so when he starts sounding warning bells, we had better take heed.
   The way Michael paints Facebook—and a belief that its advertising model will eventually collapse for being so limited—is not unfamiliar to anyone who ever wondered, during the dot-com boom, just why those companies were worth that much.
   If AltaVista, the world’s biggest website, could fall once someone (Google) figured out a better search model, then Facebook, with what Michael thinks is an ill-defined purpose, could suffer a similar fate.
   Doc Searls picked out this bit from Michael’s article:

At the heart of the Internet business is one of the great business fallacies of our time: that the Web, with all its targeting abilities, can be a more efficient, and hence more profitable, advertising medium than traditional media. Facebook, with its 900 million users, valuation of around $100 billion, and the bulk of its business in traditional display advertising, is now at the heart of the heart of the fallacy.
   The daily and stubborn reality for everybody building businesses on the strength of Web advertising is that the value of digital ads decreases every quarter, a consequence of their simultaneous ineffectiveness and efficiency. The nature of people’s behavior on the Web and of how they interact with advertising, as well as the character of those ads themselves and their inability to command real attention, has meant a marked decline in advertising’s impact.

Consequently, Facebook will face ever-decreasing advertising prices as it plateaus, and it will need to either reinvent itself or define itself more properly; or, possibly, even define itself more narrowly.
   Doc makes some further points in his piece, saying that advertising that is so personal might actually be unwanted. And he’s right.
   It all points to how brands need to engage, and that the shape of advertising, just as with branding, has changed markedly in the last 30 years. Whereas brands were top–down, they are now informed more by audiences, and strategies adjusted to match. Advertising is the same: personalization can’t work because it’s still a top–down process that disengages audiences. Facebookers have already taken exception to their own faces being used on advertisements within the social network, so personalization based on friends’ uptakes of a brand isn’t welcome by all, either, for the same reason: there was no engagement. An inhuman algorithm drove that, and one that didn’t necessarily have the consent of the parties involved. And even if advertising were still top–down, for people who advertise using the service, how many truly know what their target audiences are, to that professional degree?
   Based on this, Facebook’s contribution to advertising is providing the platform for engagement, and letting advertisers discover who their target audiences are, to set the stage for greater understanding. It’s letting go of the idea of the hard sell, one that doesn’t really build brand equity anyway. Fan pages have been helpful, based on the ones I have run, but Facebook erred earlier this year by putting member comments into a box, whereas they should have equal prominence with official company updates. Minimizing the audience’s importance in favour of top–down pronouncements goes against the way branding and marketing have developed, and the way advertising is evolving.
   If Facebook sees itself as a means of creating top–down marketing because of its sheer scale, then it is a step behind the game—and it’s a means to nowhere.

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Posted in branding, business, internet, marketing, technology, USA | 2 Comments »


Nicholas Ind’s Meaning at Work: finding fulfilment in the early 2010s

06.02.2012

Two of my friends have books coming out. I’ll discuss one for now, as it’s been a long long weekend.
   The first is my Medinge Group colleague Nicholas Ind’s Meaning at Work, which has now made it on to Amazon, and is getting wider distribution.
   You can get an idea of what Meaning at Work is about from Nicholas’s own article at the RSA’s (Royal Society for the encouragement of Arts, Manufactures and Commerce) website. But if you’ve followed Nicholas’s work over the years, it’s a logical continuation of his inquiry into making businesses more human and engaged.
   Living the Brand, for example, was an early look into organizations that had successfully implemented their brand at every level. The concepts are familiar to most branding practitioners, but Nicholas brought them to life with real-world examples and analyses of those successful organizations. Fast forward to Branding Governance, and there are useful discussions about corporate citizenship and corporate participation. Meaning at Work looks at what attitudes people need to find fulfilment in their work, with engagement and challenge being the keys.
   I’ve managed to secure chapter one from Nicholas, who in turn got it from the publisher, minus the illustrations (omitted due to copyright reasons), so you can get a better idea of what it entails. In this first chapter, Nicholas discusses what meaning is, and brings to live numerous examples from literature, art and film. If you’ve ever wondered about some of those works you have heard of but not inquired in to—Virginia Woolf’s To the Lighthouse or the real meaning behind Réné Magritte’s La trahison des images—Nicholas draws out the necessary meanings for his book in a very accessible fashion.
   It’s interesting that Nicholas discusses the depth of meaning in this first chapter, because if you take his works over the course of the 21st century, they are getting deeper and deeper into what makes us—and successful organizations—tick. Each can be read independently, of course—Nicholas isn’t out to sell us a series of books—but there is a natural progression that he has as an author. As someone who has only written one book solely—the rest were joint works—it’s a record I admire. Download chapter one of Meaning at Work here, and order it from the publisher or Amazon UK.

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Posted in business, culture, leadership, publishing | 1 Comment »


How well we engaged

12.10.2010

This was a nice souvenir of the campaign: Brenda Wallace’s summary on how well we engaged on Twitter.

Wellington mayoral candidate engagement on Twitter

I hate to think where I would have been without social media.
   Although it won’t make the slightest bit of difference to my placing, I would be interested to know where the special votes will finally place me. Did I pick up any more in the last few days? If so, I think we can credit Facebook and Twitter for some of those votes.

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Posted in internet, media, New Zealand, politics, technology, Wellington | No Comments »


Explaining to Lucire readers about my political ads

23.09.2010

Basin Reserve billboard[Cross-posted at Lucire] New Zealand readers will be seeing a few advertisements around this site relating to the local body election in Wellington. And perhaps, thanks to programming not always being precise, a few more readers outside New Zealand will notice them, too, although we have targeted them for this country alone. I think it’s time to explain them to you.
   Long-time Lucire readers will know that I’ve put my name forward to be the next Mayor of Wellington. (We have not turned away any advertising from my opponents, incidentally.) Our publications will continue (in fact, we have additional editions to announce) and I will maintain a supervisory role, but the majority of my own time, if elected, will be dedicated to the people of Wellington and to give them the same opportunities that I was given as I grew my businesses here.
   This is an important move because those of us under 45 have not had a mayor in this city who understands the importance of the role for quite some time. Turnout among younger voters is traditionally low, except for one time: when a 39-year-old, Mark Blumsky, ran, he managed to inspire more younger voters to get out. (I am 38.) He got there through citizen engagement, and people could see that here was a potential mayor who would continue being connected.
   In 2010, I have no excuse to not be connected. I’ve made a big deal of staying in touch with everyone through Twitter and Facebook all year—as we reach the first anniversary of this campaign on the 25th. And I’ve pledged at several meetings to continue doing so after I am elected in to office. All the Tweets are mine, uncensored—sometimes uncensored to the point of being politically incorrect. …
   We’ll keep our events because Wellington does better with our creative talent, and we’ll grow our economy because Wellington punches well above its weight with our technological prowess.
   But the one thing that I keep hearing, more so in the last weeks of the campaign, is the lack of transparency and the failure of politicians to engage early with people. Decisions are almost brought to Wellingtonians as faits accomplis, with citizens feeling disengaged.
   This was the theme at several sessions of Residents 2010, a conference for residents’ associations earlier this year. Coverage of the event was to have been my op–ed for an earlier New Zealand print edition of Lucire, which had to have been delayed this year due to a decline in advertising. Ironical, then, that we seem to be continuing abroad—thank goodness for export markets, so we can keep companies going here. It’s a lesson to learn.
   Beginning with a video from John Ralston Saul, of whose writings I am a huge fan, the theme was set. Cities might have lovely facilities now—if you can afford them. And somehow there is a tax shortage despite there being so much money. Saul blamed the specialization of management, because decisions were given to specialists, who failed to engage with citizens; and that he had little time for what he called ‘the efficiency dogma’.
   Whenever I hear the word efficiency, I immediately think of Slater Walker and any argument made by various corporate raiders of the 1960s through to the 1980s; but besides that, Saul is right. There is insufficient engagement in this city and in others with citizens, and politics is the one area where there hasn’t been enough democratization.
   Session after session, the same theme emerged. Attendees argued that engagement would not open the floodgates to making a city less efficient. That politicians feared losing power through engagement. That the Local Government Act does not empower local representatives to represent local people. That electronic media should be used for continued engagement, as an ongoing process to the exchange of ideas between Wellingtonians and our City Council.
   We’ve seen democratization in business. Multi-million-dollar ad campaigns can become nothing if someone makes a viral video refuting their messages. And politics needs it, because the tools are there: the web is a great way to engage; and people do indeed have their say when bad decisions are made. How about engaging so early that we don’t make those mistakes, not just with pressure groups, but with all citizens? I don’t care if it’s Facebook, Twitter or some other service—if we can do it in publishing, by talking with you through this website, then why can’t a city?
   No mayor is an island, especially when (s)he must be an advocate and a representative.
   And that, in a very long-winded way, is the reason for these ads: a reminder that you can come to me with your concerns—early. So you know where to go to if you want to see what is being discussed in your next council. So there can be early engagement, in this case, prior to my potentially taking office on October 10, 2010.
   Everything I have done in life has been as a change agent. This publication only exists because I wanted to make fashion more accessible and its coverage fairer. The print editions only exist because I wanted to prove a point: that you could go global and be based in Wellington, New Zealand. And politics now needs a change agent: Wellington can be a globally competitive city while engaging with its weakest citizens—to make sure we are all included as the 2010s take shape.—Jack Yan

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The 10 types of Twitter account I am unlikely to follow back

21.02.2010

I’m getting fussier about whom I follow back these days on Twitter, and have noticed myself removing some people I followed.
   Initially, my rule on Twitter was to follow back only people I knew in the real world. Eventually, I opened that up and even went back among the following to include people I met online. Then, I chose people to follow based on whether they were real or fake and have to admit that a few clever Tweeters suckered me in to following some bots (which I remove whenever they are in my Tweetstream).
   Today, I’m afraid that even being human doesn’t necessarily have me following back. I now consider the subject and whether it’s among my interests. Or I consider the location. In other words, I might have entered into a fourth phase of my time on Twitter, where I don’t expect contact with all and sundry, just those whose interests align, or live in places I am in or am likely to be in.
   Being more geographically specific with social media is exactly what Stanley Moss predicted would be a major 2010 trend at his Medinge and, later, Sorbonne–CELSA presentations. I never gave it much thought till I realized I had been doing that myself for several months.
   So as we begin the New Year, there are some rules to those I do not follow.
   1. If your Tweetstream has any quotations from famous people in it—even one—forget it. A year ago, I might have followed you if you had some engagement with people and there was the odd quotation from Mark Twain or some other luminary interspersed with your conversations. Today, if you’re still using automated quotation programs, then I’m no longer interested. It seems either lazy or passé, sorry.
   2. While Shelly Ryan, the spammer, has gone, anyone having as their first Tweet an invitation to their profile and hinting it could be adult will get a block from me.
   3. If the whole Tweetstream looks like a Twitter edition of my spam filter trash folder, you’re outta here. The teeth-whitening Tweet remains a dead giveaway. Also: anyone who repeats promotional Tweets can forget about getting me to follow back. And yes, I do scroll down the entire first page.
   4. There’s a grey area with any type of automated Tweet outnumbering manually written ones. I have followed some car magazine ones when they are automated, but I am not following back a Tweetstream about, say, Facebook, or a whole bunch of advice, no matter how well meaning it is. If I wanted to read self-help stuff, that is better coming from a book than in Tweet form.
   5. A huge disparity between those followed and the number following back. If you have followed 1,200 people and you have about three follow-backs, then that screams, ‘Spammer,’ to me. In borderline cases, I will see who you are following. If your list is filled with people who all seem to have the same name, then I will know you are a bot, and I will send a block request to Twitter. (Some of these bots will find humans to follow by using spidering techniques—sometimes it is obvious, and they will get a block, too.)
   6. Anyone who has more API-delivered Tweets than real ones will be far more likely to be ignored than they were in the past.
   7. Anyone whose Tweetstreams are made of re-Tweets nearly exclusively.
   8. Anyone who has plugged into a single site and is feeding their headlines out, using that method to make up their entire Twitter account. I have seen two that just take headlines from ReadWriteWeb and link to their articles. Duh, why don’t I just follow ReadWriteWeb directly? (Similarly, those who have taken a Google News feed are unlikely to get my attention.)
   9. Companies who I know have misbehaved, and this is usually personal. (I can think of one that has had a preemptive block from yours truly.)
   10. People whom I know are dicks in real life. (Fortunately, none have come knocking on my Twitter account, probably because they think I’m a dick.)
   Some of my choices sound harsh, and I don’t profess to following the above 100 per cent of the time. Very occasionally, I might see a friend who has started Tweeting, who has, in the few hours after setting up his account, filled it up with people he knew. Obviously, the following–follower disparity would not apply.
   Nor do I claim that I am more right than anyone else. Given there’s no right and wrong with how you follow back in Twitter, let’s just say, ‘It just is,’ rather than put a judgement on to it. It is each person’s decision on how they use the service and whom they’d like to follow.

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Eric Karjaluoto, speaking human

03.01.2010

I’m thoroughly enjoying Eric Karjaluoto’s Speak Human, which could well be a marketing handbook for the 2010s. Current (the references are up to date as of October 2009), Eric looks at how small businesses can do better than the big firms for numerous reasons: (a) fewer layers of decision-making; (b) the ability to engage and be one-on-one with audiences and customers; and (c) simply being nice.
   Beautifully presented (no surprise, since Eric’s SmashLab (or, rather, smashLAB) is a leading design firm), Speak Human is written in a conversational tone, with good anecdotes along the way. This isn’t a book that has to-do lists (which hardly work, anyway): it invites the reader to have a think based on the experiences collected within, and apply them for oneself. There’s good horse sense here.
   There are things that he reveals many brand consultants get wrong. I can relate to one anecdote where his firm had a bunch of law firms come to them because they did such a good job on one. Everyone wanted the same, but better. Yet, sometimes, he says, that’s not the idea, especially when the will isn’t actually there to be different or better.
   If you can imagine the image of a Canadian (or at least one that I hold, with a huge generalization): sensible, honest and full of integrity, you wouldn’t be far wrong when it comes to Eric’s style. He, too, “speaks human” and lives his book’s message in his writing.
   One of the favourite bits: that the two most damaging words to a company’s brand are company policy. Eric says they mean, ‘F*** you, we’ll do whatever we want.’ I never thought about them that way, but he’s absolutely right.

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Posted in branding, business, marketing | 3 Comments »