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Twitter giveth, and twitter taketh away: the new retweet functionality

This morning, when logging onto Twitter, I was greeted with news about the new Retweet functionality, which not only makes retweeting easier, but changes the way other people’s retweets appear in your timeline. I’d try to explain the new feature, but there’s already a better explanation of it in the Twitter blog post called ‘Project ReTweet – Phase One’. The new feature is a nice way to discover people to follow by seeing photos of them appear in your timeline, I have to admit – a photo always makes a difference.

Anyway, I prefer the web interface for Twitter over a desktop / mobile client (it has a single stream, it’s so simple) and the new functionality kinda messed it all up and made the very simple web interface suddenly seem more crowded. Maybe it’s just the Luddite in me, but it was all too much, so I tweeted the following:

Well, when I next went to to check whats been happening with all mah peeps, all retweets are back to appearing how they looked before the changes (the ReTweet button remained, but I no longer had strangers’ tweets turning up in my timeline). After conducting a quick poll among Twitterers, it turns out it’s just me that has had the new functionality turned off.

So either the good folks at Twitter got mad with me for moaning about the new features and took the new functionality away, or they switched it off  as part of good customer service. Either way, I think this is pretty neat – in the space of less than a few hours, they go live with a new feature, I dislike it and moan about it, and they disable it just for me (and not for anyone else)! That is really cool – well done Twitter. My hat is off to you.

EDIT: 20/11/09 10:48am AEDST – I think Twitter is messing with me 🙂 …. the new functionality is now enabled again.



It’s been a long time, I shouldn’t have left you….

I haven’t been blogging. Real life has taken over. But in the absence of a decent in-depth blog post, here’s a few little things to snack on.

Moving house – yeh, so it isn’t even remotely marketing related, but I’m living in Southbank, Melbourne now. In a small-arsed room in a big-arse apartment building. With a pool. And a steam room. And alot of young people. It’s a level of indulgence I’m really not accustomed to, so looking forward to learning how the other half live. That’s right – I’m an inner-city yuppie now.

Google and Microsoft going head to head with Twitter coverage – I have to give it to the marketing team at Microsoft (and also the Windows 7 product team) – they did pretty well in terms of stirring hype up around the Windows 7 launch (aswell as delivering by far the world’s best operating system). In Australia, #win7au was the most popular Twitter hashtag for a couple of days running, and Windows was the #1 trending topic for a day or two worldwide. However, props have gotta go to Google too, who I think have probably got a more winning formula – with the slow leak of Google Wave invites going out to ‘influencers’ (read: pretty much anyone who asked for an invite) who then tweeted about getting their invite, they were able to keep Google Wave in the top 10 trending topics on Twitter for a good few weeks (though they never took the #1 spot like Win7 did). I think this is a more effective type of ‘buzz’ that Google achieved – something that lasts longer than a few days and creates an ongoing conversation is more akin to ‘buzz’.

Also of interest in this regard was the release of Apple’s multi-touch mouse a few days before the release of Windows 7, which barely rated a mention on Twitter in comparison to Wave and Win7, and was also met with a general ‘SFW’ from many online commentators.

Google attacking Microsoft in general – Google is launching an all-out assault on Microsoft with their ‘Gone Google’ campaign, which is focused on winning adoption of Google products within the enterprise. Whilst I have seen a number of people pointing out how inaccurate Google’s claims are in the campaign, the campaign has the feel of the early Apple vs PC ads, which we all know were very effective (and similarly stretched the truth a little). Whilst that sort of marketing is not my kettle of fish, Google are doing a good job of planting  the seed of doubt with customers and leaving just enough ‘fertilizer’ (cough) to grow that seed.

Gen Y Marketing podcast – I recommended the Gen-Y marketing podcast in a previous post, but to be honest iTunes has been giving me nothing but headaches, so I haven’t been downloading episodes for a while. Which means I have a plethora of content to catch up on, so I’m going hard at listening to these guys to catch up… so many laughs, this is one of the best marketing podcasts around. Check it out at . My only suggestion is that they should stop slagging off Microsoft… 😀

SocialMelb – social media coffees every Friday morning at Mr Tulk, State Library on Swanston St. It’s a great way to meet like-minded fellows, and everyone’s friendly enough. There’s also surprisingly little “I’m a social media maven’ dickery. Organised (I think) by Kate Kendall, you can keep up to date with the social media coffees by following the #socialmelb hashtag or @socialmelb on Twitter. I’m going to try to attend more of these, so I’ll see you there. They also do a dinner once in a while.

Kimbo Price mixtape releasedthere’s some really cool stuff happening in music marketing, as labels start to realise they can’t bludgeon people into submission when trying to make you buy music. The Get Busy Committee’s album ‘Uzi Does It’ was a highlight, shipping the album on an uzi-shaped USB thumb drive was genius. But my fav music industry marketing from the last few months was the video of Sean P, which is decidedly un-professional, which prehaps is the major part of it’s appeal (plus P’s one of the best in the game). The vid features Sean going grocery shopping before his Kimbo Price mixtape dropped. Because Rappers Eat… video can be found at

And of course, there was Melbourne’s own ‘Bangs’, with his Internet phenomenon ‘Take U 2 Da Movies’, which despite it’s amateurish execution has been in my head all weekend. It’s also clocked up a couple of hundred thousand views since I found it last Wednesday, so Bangs is killing it.


Shonky Awards 2009

I love the Shonky Awards. The 2009 awards are over and the winners announced at (also via the video below). As a client-side marketer, your gut always turns a little back flip when the Shonky Awards video starts, in case you’ve somehow managed to mess something up 🙂

Video Link:


Crowd Sourced Marketing: A Brickie wins the CGU Rap competition

I wrote a while back about CGU’s latest crowd sourcing campaign. They challenged the general public to upload a video of themselves for the chance to be featured in the next of those awesome funny CGU Rap ads (note my sarcasm there).

Well, whilst I don’t think the competition exactly took the Internets by storm, CGU announced a winner earlier today (the site had so little inbound traffic that Google Trends doesn’t have any data on it) – the competition microsite says the winner is ‘Gary’, but the video says it’s ‘Hayden the Bricklayer’. Either way, here’s the next face of CGU… the campaign seems to have worked out OK in the end, as the below clip actually works in a way, although the polished production makes me think it may have been knocked up by someone already in the industry.

My vote still goes to Mugger, the Career Criminal (vid below). Maybe a bit too controversial for CGU, but having him as the future face of CGU would have made for a much more compelling story 🙂 Good on CGU for trying though – I hope they hit their metrics with this one.


Innovating on youtube: 3 fun examples for Marketers

To do something new and exciting and push the boundaries of social media platforms in your marketing campaigns (or in general), you have 2 options – (1) Innovate the platform itself, or (2) innovate within the platform. API’s for social networking platforms such as Facebook and Twitter mean that the power to extend and thus innovate those platforms is being put in the hands of the people. Examples can be seen in services like Twendz, which adds alot of extra functionality and value on top of Twitter’s existing offerings.

Twendz shows realtime Twitter sentiment on the topic of your choice.

However, Youtube’s API‘s are not as powerful for innovating the platform as the Facebook and Twitter API’s – they add little in the way of extra functionality that didn’t already exist on the Youtube site. Perhaps this is why people have started innovating ‘within the platform’ when posting vdieos to Youtube. Let me explain by looking at some examples (the sort of vids I’ll be posting don’t embed terribly well, so I’ll just post links):

1 – Choose Your Own Adventure style videos

There’s been a number of these popup in the last 12 months. The below is for a campaign by, which I like because it’s shot POV-style, which makes it more like the original Choose Your Own Adventure books. The vid is at

Norton also did a great job of this style of video engagement starring street brawling legend Kimbo Price –

2 – Play Streetfighter …. on youtube

This campaign built considerable buzz for State of the Art toys (6.5 million views and counting) – a Streetfighter video game featuring their own Streetfighter figurines. It took me a little while to work out that it was stop-motion animation and a case of simply getting the viewer to stop a current video and loading a new one before they video they’re watching came to it’s logical conclusion (i.e. their character getting knocked out). Genius!! You can see the game at (there’s a bit of lag in the game play due to video load times, but it’s all in the name of good fun)

3 – Live Action Interactivity

Well, it’s not exactly live, but there are a bunch of new videos out there that are combing 1 & 2 above to give viewers a better choice of exactly what content they want to see. I like this style, because it means that your videos are likely to be watched a number of times to make sure people see all possible outcomes. There’s not many times that someone will sit and watch your youtube video 5 or 6 times in one sitting, but these Parkour guys have achieved just that –

All three of the above are good examples of driving deeper customer interaction – they aren’t surfing from youtube clip to youtube clip, they are surfing from one of your videos to the next, meaning longer exposure to content you have created. Very clever stuff.

EDIT: 25/09/09 – discussing this with Marek from The Taboo Room this morning, Lynx took this concept out of youtube and across a number of sites – it’s a pretty fun concept. Start the journey at Thanks Marek for the tip.

EDIT 01/01/10: Boone Oakley have built a surrogate for their agency’s webpage on Youtube. This is really cool…


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The future of Influencer Marketing is… good old fashioned manners.

Today I caught Problogger Darren Rowse’s session at the Marketing Now conference. The session was called ‘Blogging 101 and Twitter’. The session was obviously aimed at those who are newer to Twitter / blogging (I should have picked that from the title), but it’s always good to see someone so highly regarded talk about their field of expertise. The final question at the end of Darren’s session had him a little stumped. It was actually a really good question that relates to my current area of work – Influencer Marketing.

THE QUESTION. First of all, I should explain the lead up to the question. Darren did a couple of slides during the session featuring tips on “How to Pitch to Bloggers” for companies. The discussion moved on, but then the question was asked ‘What does the future hold for companies trying to engage with influential bloggers, given that more and more companies are effectively spamming bloggers to get them to blog about their products?” (I’m paraphrasing of course, the question was much more eloquent).

 THE ANSWER TO THE QUESTION – Darren’s answer was “I just hope that PR people and companies start to get it” – I’m not sure if he realised it,  but the answer to the question as I see it already lay in the slides Darren delivered on how to build loyal followers – I think the same rules apply. My main role at Microsoft is to work with Influencers in our technical communities every day. In all modesty, I think we’ve gotten pretty darn good at it. The difference in the way we work with Influencers as opposed to others out there is that we engage  more deeply, and invest in ongoing relationships with select Influencers, instead of focusing on single transactions with whoever the latest / greatest blogger is. Emailing bloggers on a whim to try and hit your numbers for a single campaign is not a good way forward, as everyone is trying to do this more and more… what will help you succeed is investing in Influencer Relationship Management. After all, how many times have you seen bloggers flame a company for trying to use them for quick-fix marketing campaigns? Building strong, ongoing relationships with key, targeted Influencers will result in them publishing better informed, more in-depth posts about your product, greater inclination on the blogger’s behalf to engage with you, and will it help build loyalty in those people who others listen to the most. There’s a fine line to be trodden around how much you can work with bloggers before their integrity is questioned, but thats for another blog post.

THE FRAMEWORK TO THE ANSWER- I see the best way to achieve this depth of engagement with bloggers (or indeed any Influencers) as a 4 step process (Well, maybe 5).

1 – Identify Influencers – I reckon I could write a book on the subtleties of this topic, but I’ll keep it high level here. What you want are Influencers who have been active for a while (no flash-in-the-pan bloggers allowed), who have good reach, who are highly regarded, who are nice people and whose audience are likely to be interested in your product.

2 – Identify Influencer needs– Every blogger blogs for a reason. Lets take your average IT blogger. I’m completely generalizing here, but in my experience they typically blog for one or more of a small number of reasons – for fame, to share information, to build a professional profile for themselves, to help the world with their IT problems etc. Some might do it to get rich – good luck to them. But they all have a need, a need that you can try to meet with free product, exclusive information, product training, giveaways for their readers,advance notice of press releases etc. OK, so once you know what your Influencer’s need is….

3 – Assess Cost of Influencer Need vs Value created – Is helping the Influencer achieve their need going to be worth it? Forecasting social media outcomes is like trying to pedict what the Melbourne weather will be doing in 2 hours , but you should have some idea as to whether the additional reach you achieve will be worth your while. If not, you may wish to go back to step 1 and find more suitable Influencers. If after returning to Step 1, it’s still not going to deliver good ROI, it may be that Influencer Markting is not the appropriate vehicle for your company.

4 – Help Influencer Fulfill their Need (and hold that position) – a free t-shirt might be good enough motivation for some bloggers (hell, if anyone from a tshirt company is reading this, I’ll hook you up a free blog post in exchange for a free shirt. It doesn’t even have to be a men’s shirt). But a free t-shirt every week for a year – now thats a good way to build loyalty. If you sneak out on a blogger after having them publish a post for you, like a one-night stand sneaking out the bathroom window, feelings can get hurt. At the same time, if you show the blogger that you are impressed with their work and value what they do, you might just become friends with them. After all, bloggers are people too (well, most bloggers). So, (A) engage over a longer period of time, perhaps working with said blogger on a number of campaigns or initiatives and (B) be transparent. Being open about what you are both trying to achieve and finding that common ground is critical.

5 – Re-assess – this is an iterative process. We use a 12 month cycle before we assess if our relationships with our Influencers is working out for both parties.

This is a more resource intensive way to engage with bloggers than many companies and agencies are used to – I recognise this. However, a long-term, more organised approach will mean you are more likely to be get Influencers to act as advocates, you can work with them on multiple occasions rather than for single campaigns, and generally have a better working relationship, where the gives-and-takes are much more elastic.

What do you think? Have you worked with bloggers? Which approach did you use – the “hit-em-hard-and-get-out-approach” or did you work to build a longer term relationship? If you used the former, what sort of results did you get?

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TechEd Australia: What they don’t tell delegates

Microsoft Australia’s TechEd on the Gold Coast finished late last week, and it was a cracker! Whilst it served as a harsh and sudden reminder that I’ve really let my technical skills slide quite badly, the event was also a fantastic way to catch up with my customers (i.e. my beloved MVPs), aswell as a chance to talk to other delegates about Microsoft and it’s products, shoot a video interview or two, catch up with alot of colleagues I admire greatly, and do a little professional networking.

However, whilst the primary benefit (and focus) of TechEd is learning all about the latest Microsoft technologies, there is a darker, seedier side to TechEd that Microsoft fails to mention in it’s glitzy MSDN Flash newsletter. The experience of coming to Gold Coast for TechEd without proper preparation can leave many delegates feeling a little raw, a little ‘unstable’. Since TechEd is confirmed to be heading back to Gold Coast in 2010, I think it’s only fair to warn people about this. As such, I bring you my top tips and observations for surviving TechEd Australia on the Gold Coast.

1 –Geeks work hard and play hard. Really hard. As in “My-Liver-now-needs-a-good-Mr-Sheening” hard. You should be aware of that.

2 – If you’re hanging with some of the more senior techies, be prepared for talk about what their favourite mainframe programming language was back in the day. Just nod and smile… You probably won’t have heard of any of these languages. You probably will never hear of them ever again.

3 – Being a non-technical person at a technical conference can be lonely ( I know this because somewhere along the way I became a ‘marketing guy’ and lost my ‘developer guy’ nametag). So let’s all go get drunk to forget our differences.

4 –Whilst on the topic of drunk, alot of Gold Coast bars ask you to cover up your tattoos. Which is weird, considering half of Gold Coast residents have full sleeve tattoos whilst the other half have butterflies or dolphins tattooed on their lower back.

5 – Whilst (still) on the topic of drunk, Thursday night is ‘Ladies Night’ at Surfer’s Paradise, where ladies drink either for free or for half price, depending on the venue. This might sound great to some of you single fellas, right up until the all male revue begins in the bar you’ve chosen and Mr Australia starts working to pay the bills.

6 –Don’t think TechEd on the Gold Coast’s all parties, meeting people and boozing though – far from it. Be prepared for people to suggest you stay in to play board games instead of hitting the rides at the afterparty at DreamWorld. Not that there’s anything wrong with that. Here’s looking at you, @orinthomas 😉 Also, be prepared for people to bring their video gaming experience with them for nighttime entertainment. Here’s looking at you, @deepfresh.

7 –Also be prepared to wake up to find strangers sleeping in their underwear on the living room couch of the place you’ve rented. Apparently that’s what everyone does at TechEd. (My room-mate – whose identity shall remain a mystery – was, by the way, the most inspirational room mate ever – a true case study in getting the most out of TechEd).  

8 – Best way to drive online buzz during an event? Give everyone attending a free netbook so they can all tweet on a decent sized screen throughout the entire event. That was inspired. Literally thousands upon thousands of tweets over the course of the week were hashtagged with #auteched.

9 – Follow the Scout’s Motto – ‘Be Prepared’… You’ll need to build up a nice sleep surplus prior to hitting the Gold Coast to make up for the sleep debt you’re about to incur.

10 – Any special guest speakers visiting the event from American will (without exception) really love Vegemite. Trust me. You should bring plenty of Vegemite sandwiches, and load the stuff on really thick. It’ll make their day.


TechEd’s opening keynote speaker and geek favourite Sarah Ford loves the Vegemite. Someone please send her a case of the stuff.

11 –Whilst on the topic of a balanced diet, starchy / high GI foods give you a quick sugar fix, but then send you into a sugar glut (i.e. they’ll send you to sleep). So if you’re hoping to pay attention in the afternoon sessions at TechEd, try to avoid those coffee-cup-saucer-sized chocolate freckles at afternoon tea.

12 –Finally, don’t let your feelings be too hurt if someone doesn’t have time to sit down to have a good one-on-one pow-wow with you at TechEd. There’s so much going during the week that people will inevitably be a little distracted sometimes. I guess this is my way of saying sorry to all those folk who I had to say “I’ll catch you later, I’m running late for…”. I meant to catch up with every one of you, but it’s difficult, as I’m sure you know. I’ll catch you all soon.


Got any more tips for surviving TechEd on the Gold Coast? Leave them in the comments section below! 🙂

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