Happy spring and happy birthday grandpa! RIP NMD1

Today would have marked my grandfather’s 103rd birthday. Three years ago, we celebrated what would have been his 100th birthday with a magical 24-hour global social experiment!  Here was the result by the way…

Nothing quite as grand today. However, in a case of multiple things to celebrate, it’s also time to celebrate Spring and Twitter’s 8th birthday. Looking back at my very first tweet in April 2007, I was quite surprised to find:

Minter Dial @mdial first tweet NMD1

Glad to know that my first tweet was meaningful (at least to me!). It starts with purpose, I should say. In the realm of lessons learned along the way, I was missing a hashtag (e.g. #WWII) and a link! I can now add the right link! Here’s my grandfather’s story in case you haven’t read about it — in the Smithsonian magazine.

As a sign of appreciation, please do go like my grandfather’s page in honor of the greatest generation!

P.S. if you want to discover your first tweet, go here.

Birthday greetings – How might they evolve?

Last year, August 2012, I recorded all the birthday greetings I received via the various channels and posted the details in this article on TheMyndset. This was not an exercise in self-aggrandisement and/or auto-flattery*. It was to see what and how people are communicating on what is, quite appropriately, a personal and nominative affair!  So, this year, I was curious to evaluate the changes, thinking that it might be a way to capture how things have evolved online.  Between this year and last year, the number of people in my network has grown a bit, but other than on Twitter (+500 or so), the growth is not going to be more than 5% for any one network.

Birthday channels

Below is a table that charts the different birthday greetings year/year on a purely numerical basis.  The numbers below include a few of the belated wishes that trickled in the day after (and thanks to everyone for the kind and wonderful wishes!).

Wishes for Birthday, Birthday wishes, Myndset digital marketing

Facebook domination

Facebook birhday, The Myndset digital marketingFacebook remains the prefered channel for birthday greetings by a highway mile.  What you will observe is that, overall, the major difference year over year is down to Facebook: 183 in 2013 versus 86 last year.  And, no, it has nothing to do with having a banner year or being more loved.  Moreover, the 49th versus 48th year celebrations are both rather innocuous, so that neutralizes another potential reason for any differences.

2013 versus 2012

So, what happened?  Essentially, this year, I changed the settings on Facebook to allow people to write directly on my wall.  Last year, all wishes were automatically transformed into personal FB messages. So, this year, the messages were generally dropped onto my wall.  As we all know, Facebook vets what appears on your wall.  Over the summer, they again made changes, introducing new variables and flexibility in their algorithm, all with an intent to promote engagement.  For the birthday wishes that are posted on the wall, Facebook keeps only the posts with attachments (photos) visible (here is my favorite from my friends at Yopps!).  To read the remainder of the individual wall posts you need to find the last of the day’s posts and on the drop-down, View Individual Stories (as below) specifically linked to Birthday Wishes (courtesy of a parsing by Facebook).  The good news is that neither your own timeline nor your close family are besieged by the friendly barrage of messages.

Facebook birthday wishes, The Myndset digital marketing

Final considerations

If Facebook is the dominant and easiest way to send birthday wishes across all communication platforms, it is not the only way.  The remarkable aspect of the FB network (I have just under 2000 “friends”) is the disparate nature of the people that take the time to say hi and send along wishes.  The FB birthday “system” is presumably more indicative of those who are regular users rather than necessarily your nearest and dearest friends.  All the same, the messages were rather varied and, at times, enjoyably surprising.

As for other nuances on the two year’s “campaigns”:

  • Despite a bigger Twitter base, there was no increase in the personal tweets
  • The SMS continues to be the most personal space, although I received far fewer this year, possibly because I now have two mobile numbers?
  • Skype again surprised me with the number and content of messages
  • Snail Mail is completely AWOL (I received an email from a friend saying that a card was in fact on its way!)
  • Business “social CRM” messages remain rather tame and ineffective (and basically unchanged for those that did it both years).

So, in sum, it seems that Facebook is the place to go for birthday greetings.  If you want to create a more personal message, try SMS or snail mail!  And, otherwise, if you want your message to have a lasting effect on Facebook, add a (preferably funny or meaningful) photo.

If there were one birthday wish I might ask for, it would simply be for you to go by the Facebook page in honor of my grandfather and other members of the Greatest Generation, after whom I was named, and like it, if you feel it merits your click.

Funny Video: Have Glass, Will Squash. Remi Gaillard the prankster

Mario Kart a la Remi Gaillard

Not heard of Rémi Gaillard? If so, the chances are that is because you still only believe in mainstream media (MSM), i.e. you watch television, read newspapers and surf only the established sources on line.

Rémi happens to be the most watched humorist in the world — and that is ONLY on line. A comedian-hooligan-prankster from Montpellier, France, Rémi is a rampantly anti-mainstream media comedian.   But, he definitely has the internet working for him. Continue reading

What’s the Best Automatic Signature?

I was not able to find a ‘best practices’ site or space on the ‘net listing the best “personalised” automatic signatures (which one can add on to the end of emails). Recently, I have noticed a couple of novel signatures tacked on to messages sent from smart phones — if not smart friends! I thought I would share them with you, as well as suggest a few others to start a possible best practices meme on the topic of automatic signatures… (if only Facebook would allow the same, don’t you think?)

1/ “Sent from small keyboard – pls excuse the brevity” (from Brad C)
2/ “Sent via Blackberry Handheld – Please excuse typos” (from Charlie H)

My own suggestions, trying to look at a more positive spin:

3/ “Think before you print (even if it’s a stretch to think to print from your iPhone”
4/ “Sent from my iPhone. In virtual heaven.”
5/ “Sent from my blackberry, while in a boring meeting.”
6/ “Typed in the toilet.”

Lastly, in total disclosure, here is the one I am currently using on my iPhone:

7/ “Sent from my iPhone… so, please excuse the virtual typos, merely a figment of the imagination.”

Automatic Signature Message

Would be very glad to hear of other suggestions out there!

More Spam Scams on Facebook – goldbase.be

Aside from Iran’s attempts to block Facebook in the run-up to the election (they just lifted the ban, according to this LA Times piece), I have also noticed that there is an increasing number of spam scams on Facebook. In the most recent hack attack, you receive a mail from a friend or even some stranger (as is the case below) inviting you to “Look at this goldbase.net” or goldbase.be some other .be addresses which are obviously bogus. Don’t do it! Delete immediately, without passing go.

Goldbase Scam

And here is another one that is circulating “growerd.ru” from our friends in Russia:

Growerd.ru Scam

If you receive this type of FB mail, it is only your “friend” that is infected, not you. If you find, however, that mail is being sent from your account (someone needs to alert you!), here is the advice from Mashable:

1. As a precaution, go to your browser settings and clear your cookies.
2. Change your Facebook password
3. Make sure your antivirus software is up to date and run a full system

Twitter: Global Village or Recessionista?

Twitter, it seems, is making mainstream headlines daily these days. Yesterday, the IHT featured on page 2, an article “A truth renewed online: It still takes a village,” which begins: “Twitter and Facebook are, OMG, so last millennium”. The article, written by Anand Giridharadas, actually suggests that today’s social media are a modern representation of the old-fashioned [Indian] village, providing “ambient love.” Giridharadas writes that social media “maintain not your 10 key relationships, but your hundred semi-key mini-relationships. They are not about understanding or soul-baring, but about being simply, ambiently present…”. It is a well expressed point of view. In today’s ice cold economic climate, the ambient warmth of a Twitter or Facebook poke or birthday wishes are a welcome reprieve.

And, on another level, speaking of the economy, I read yesterday how Mr. Martin Schmeldon, a Harvard professor, correlated the rise in twittering to the fall in the stock market and, in a case of brazen marketing, said that Twitter was at fault for the current economic crisis. Read here: http://www.gaebler.com/Economist-Blames-Twitter-for-Down-Economy.htm.

As the article goes on later to say, however, the validity of Schmeldon’s research is a little curious. Pat Sooshisif, an associate professor of public policy at the Yale School of Management is quoted as saying, “I think an informed reader of this research paper should be able to determine that Schmeldon wasn’t engaging in serious statistical analysis of this data.” [From March 2009 issue of The Journal of Economic Perspective and Analysis.]

If you listen to MSM (mainstream media not to be mixed up with MSN!), you might be excused for concluding that the global village — via Twitter’s 7 million unique visitors a month — is running, if not ruining the world.

I maintain that Twitter’s ascension is reflective of a society that is in search of itself: a community that is communicating, without having found a greater meaning or sense of purpose (akin to the general chatter one can hear in the Indian village). It is certainly not a society that is creating value. However, even if 65% of twittering is happening at the workplace, Schmeldon may yet find a better field of research in measuring the twitterers and the performance of the companies for which they work. He might potentially be surprised to find these companies doing rather well, for being more online, more open minded and, potentially more plugged in to social trends. That is a mere supposition, but likely more plausible than pointing to Twitter as the fallguy for the current recession.

Twitter – Sweeping Growth as Business Tool

Twitter Logo

Twitter update – 7+ million users and growing… fast

Twitter has grown by a staggering 1382% in the span of one year, to have over 7 million monthly unique visitors, according to data from market research firm Nielsen. The research suggested that Twitter was becoming ingrained as a marketing and business tool, above its personal application.


The Nielsen research on the February traffic showed that I am plum in the middle of its most regular users: almost 42% of its users are 35 to 49 year olds, with a further 20% between 25-34. Interestingly, 62% of Twitter users visit the site while at work versus 35% from home.

Twitter on Apple iPhone

One of the primary success factors for Twitter is the mobility and ease of use (i.e. text messaging). In January this year, 735,000 unique visitors Twittered via their mobile. According to Nielsen, “The average unique visitor went to Twitter.com 14 times during the month and spent an average of seven minutes on the site.”

The Nielsen research had the other big growth winners: 240% for Zimbio the interactive magazine (that claims 15 million readers in its header but which Nielsen pegged at 2.8 million unique users) and +228% for Facebook (66 million). Multiply (+192%) was logged at 2.4 million and Wikia (+172%) at 3.8 million.

Aside from the traffic, proof of Twitter’s success is the entirely new vocabulary that has sprouted: tweet (n. a twitter entry), to Tweet (verb), Tweeps (n. twitter friends), Twirt (v. to flirt on twitter), Chirp Storm (n. popular twitter subject), Twatter (n. nonsense chatter on Twitter)… And there are a number of accessory sites, my favourite of which is twitturly which tracks the most tweeted URLs. Here you can find widgets and gadgets for Twitter (on Mac or PC)…

Debatable Blog

At a dinner party this weekend, I had quite the discussion as to the usefulness of twittering (see a complementary raging debate group, “Debatable,” on Facebook launched by Justin Kirby, UK). For myself, I see the interest in micro-journalism, a more personalised social bookmarking and a way to propagate good content or branded content (business use). Whatever the reasons, though, Twitter has definitively accelerated past the tipping point. Are you a fan of Twittering? What do you think? How should brands be taking advantage of this phenomenon?

Convergence – In search of the Uber Consolidation

Convergence logoAre you like me, Seeking the Consolidation & Convergence of all Applications, Tools and Electrical Wires?

I enjoyed this article from Engadget “What Apple could learn from Palm Web OS” and it spurred me to consider my state of un-convergence, with the multiplicity of electronics that I lug around, different coloured USB keys to swap files, portable disk drives for backups, Apples and Dells, iPod and Blackberry, camera and video, work and home, Freebox and AppleTV, avi and wmv… The list of interdependent yet not connected items continues to gall me. When can we have the uber-converged mother-of-all tool?

Specifically, I dream of consolidating all my address book information whereby all my snail mail and email addresses and telephone numbers are simultaneously updated and accessible across every platform — think Plaxo on drugs. I think of centralizing all my digital communications so that, instead of jumping from Facebook to LinkedIn to twine to twitter to Hotmail and gmail, etc., I just have one email site to open and one preferred functionality to use — think universal netvibes. I wonder if it is time for me to abandon a fixed line at home (like 1 in 5 US households apparently) to concentrate on one mobile phone (nix one for work and one for personal use) so that I have just one telephone number to give out and have one less bill to pay (albeit the fixed home telephone is embedded in an internet and television subscription here in France). I am confounded by the number of different electric chargers that I must carry with me to support my blackberry, my iPod, laptop and earphone, etc. — much less when I travel abroad with all the different plug adaptors. I puzzle at the stash of USB connector chords that I have by my computer to connect the various apparatus with non-standard fixtures to my main computer (thank goodness for the USB hubs). And, if all that were not enough, I just want my laptop, desktop, television, iPod and mobile phone all to be the same. On this latter point, aside from the large keyboard, one can sniff that an economically viable answer is around the corner.

Convergence Mobility Telephone & Computers

Somehow, despite my fast typing and reading skills, I still feel like I am near to being submerged by the burgeoning number of sites and applications to which I have signed up. Is my webiquity catching up with me? On the application front, among the solutions that are out there and that are truly helping, there is hellotxt that creates“what am I doing” microblog messages for a wide variety of twittery applications — and can be updated now via the mobile. There is the aforementioned netvibes (est 8 million users) or pageflakes for storing a good portion of different applications such as Facebook, gmail and/or hotmail (albeit you still need to switch to the individual applications to read and write). Still, there is no full coverage system. Proprietary applications and stonewalling is clearly stopping the creation of the mega-consolidator. One thing is for sure; I am not alone in my desire, even in France. There was a study done by Accenture in France about the desire for telephonic convergence in France (no longer available on line).

Palm Pre TelephoneI gather that Palm has come up with a new palm PRE (coming soon, pictured right) all-in-one product. See here at Engadget and here on Mobiledia for more details. A friend at Nokia has reliably told me that the Nokia E71 “connected freedom” is a good alternative with the bonus of being available already. And, there’s the Touch screen qwerty Nokia N97 coming soon. Could it be that a hardware company can come up with the wherewithal to centralize all the different applications?

But, as urgent and (de-)pressing as the need for convergence is, the world of the web is expanding like the universe…to appear and operate on many different media…well beyond phones… on buses, tables, buildings, all electronic appliances… And newer still appliances and applications are sprouting up like mushroom so that, just when you think you have it all together and think you can converge onto one new glorious, unifying ubermetaplatform, you are going to be faced with the mobile book reader (Sony’s PRS-700BC or Amazon’s Kindle); the to do list consolidator that wirelessly feeds the “shopping list” on the kitchen fridge into your uber-PDA todo list; or a digital pen that magically transforms letters on a page into a typed document.

Just think about it. There are a billion people connected to the net now via their computers. The next billion internet connections will come on mobile platforms… Ready for mobile phone banking and mobi-creditcards (try wizzit which won the top prize at the NetExplorateur 2009)? On-demand shopping assistance, advice and ratings on your uber personal mobile device (try Big In Japan – Biggu – T-Mobile G1 on YouTube coming soon to Europe)? The third billion one has to imagine will have internet literally at, if not, in our fingertips. Everything will be wired.

Of course, there’s another topic brewing here regarding the convergence of branding, entertainment, advertising and consumption and how best to tackle the convergence from a marketing standpoint. But, better save that for another post.

What are your thoughts about convergence? What are your favourite tools? Or do you feel that it is just an interminable rat race and a way to get us to spend more money (think Vinyl-DAT-CD-mp3-mp4…)?

OBAMA inspires Pepsi, Ben & Jerry and more…

Obama Presidential 2008 LogoAs we prepare for the January 20, 2009 inauguration of President-elect Obama (which you can follow with live streaming on Facebook/CNN) there are several organisations that have come up with marketing initiatives showing the speed and conviction of certain brands and people.  Obama Yes We CanWith the momentum, tremendous popularity and hype surrounding Obama’s arrival, brands that have seen fit to align themselves with the President-elect have clearly shown entrepreneurial spirit for being able (a) to create a concrete link and (b) to mix politics and business so overtly. 

I have done a quick list of the three best cross-promotions around his campaign and upcoming presidency.  

New Pepsi Can Obama LogoIn reverse order, coming in third, I look at the new Pepsi logo — which was launched in  autumn 2008, and see a subtle resemblance (Advertising Age talks here about the evolution in the logo) to the Obama ’08 logo. Touching the cornerstone brand’s logo under the influence of the Obama campaign is fairly bold move.
Yes Pecan - Obama, Ben & JerryComing in second, is Ben & Jerry who have launched a new flavour: YES PECAN.  Per the site, Ben & Jerry says, this new flavour has “Amber Waves of Buttery Ice Cream with Roasted Non-Partisan Pecans…”  And, if you buy Yes Pecan, they donate the proceeds to the Education Fund of The Common Cause, “…a nonpartisan, nonprofit advocacy organization founded as a vehicle for citizens to make their voices heard in the political process.”  B&J have a full social media package, with a page on Facebook too.

Sarkozy Yes We CanAnd, coming in first, Greenpeace France who, in early December 2008, surreptiously plastered Paris with a poster of France’s President Nicolas Sarkozy, emblazoned with YES WE CAN, and imitating the (outspoken street artist) Shepard Fairey campaign HOPE poster of Obama (below left).  It took a while for the owner of the poster to come to light, helping to create a good amount of buzz.  Nominally allying France with the USA, the Greenpeace SarkObama campaign was in an effort to convince Sarkozy to reduce greenhouse gases by 30%.  Here is the story from the Windsor Star (Ontario, Canada) as well as, en français, on the Greenpeace blog.  

Obama Hope Poster

Having just completed this post, I did a last minute review online about this topic and, to my amusement, found that NPR had run exactly the same type of article on Jan 16, with the difference that they found the IKEA “Embrace Change
’09
” campaign too.

Value of a Facebook Friend placed at 37 cents – What a Whopper.

How much is your friendship worth? Just 37 cents!

Burger King Whopper SacrificeI love this. Burger King is up to its notorious self, finding all sorts of ways to gain rebellious publicity. In this most recent activity, Burger King announced that it would give any person that drops 10 Facebook friends a coupon to buy a Whopper. With a Whopper priced at $43.69, that would effectively put the price tag of a friend on Facebook at 37 cents. The campaign, called Whopper Sacrifice, is now closed as some 24,000 people quickly sacrificed 10 of their friends to reap the Whopper coupon. Here is the story from the New York Times. If you want to check out the Whopper Sacrifice application, it’s here. And, if you are one of the people on the losing end, who got dropped by a now “ex-friend,” the Burger King team were sufficiently foreseeing, to provide the angry-gram application directly on their site (photo top right), with the ability to write to your ex-friend a nasty letter (replete with an angry hamburger). Here below s a neat little artistic rendering of the program from a Kenyan, Joe Ngari.

Facebook Friends versus Burger King Whopper Sacrifice

Frankly, it’s a wonderful piece of marketing, (a) getting at the notion of those who have oversubscribed their Friends, (b) giving out a free burger during the difficult economic times, and all this (c) with an application on Facebook, the second most visited site, after Google, over the Christmas period. Kudos to the BK marketing team and the Crispin Porter & Bogusky ad agency that came up with this counter intuitive program. And the cost? Ok, let’s say $10,000 for the FB app. Add $20,000 for the 2 light websites (angry-gram and Sacrifice Whopper) including the hosting for the sake of argument. And, let’s say there’s a whopping 30% uptake on the coupons (30% of $88,560) meaning $26,568 worth of redemption of the coupons sent out electronically, of course, taken at a reasonable cost of goods of perhaps 15% (I have no idea of the fast food COGS), adds less than $4,000. Of course, there are the agency fees to add. So the total cost would be $35K plus agency fees. Not bad from where I sit, even if I don’t like fast food.

Somehow, I managed not to get dropped, but I’d love to hear your reactions!