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 Myndset. 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 preferred 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. 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 does the future hold for Twitter? Announcing the Survey Results

Over the course of the last month, 39 people replied to this poll question (posted on the blog via polldaddy):
What does the future hold for Twitter?
Ok, so the results are not statistically relevant with just 39 results, but I thought I would publish the results of my Twitter survey all the same as I am not going to wait until 60 people ante up.
15/39, or 38%, said that “Twitter will fizzle out and die an ugly death” which was actually a surprise for me considering the mid-survey news that an investment was being made in Twitter, valuing the company at $1 billion. The second most popular answer was that Twitter would be bought out by another bigger social media site… which, of course, obviously left out the idea that Twitter might be bought by a ‘nervy’ private equity company. The ‘investment’ in this case is, naturally, just a means to getting fully bought out.
A minority (11/39) believed that Twitter might thrive on its own and/or provide some value-added independently.
The story continues. If and when Twitter finds its economic model, we may get to the bottom of the end of ‘HOW DOES FREE = MONEY?’ question. We’ll be sure to watch this Twitterspace! And, while I’m on the subject, here are my two favourite Twitter resources:
  1. Tweetdeck: Sets up a dashboard to follow what’s going in your Twittersphere
  2. Friend or Folllow: Who are you following that’s not following you back? Who’s following you that you’re not following back
For a comprehensive list of all Twitter resources, go to the incomparable

Year of the Comma – An Existential Comment

2,009 versus 2009

When you need to write two thousand and nine, as in “five thousand years ago, two thousand and nine people participated in the world’s first game of Twister” (they didn’t), you might also write it as “5,000 years ago, 2,009 people participated in the world’s largest game of Twitter…” (no points, just a comma, for spotting the differenceYear 2009).

So, the question I have is why would we also write: “Today is May 9, 2009 and, 5,000 years ago, 2,009 people participated in the world’s largest game of Twitter“?

If we write 2,009 for a number, why do we drop the comma when we write 2009 for the year? When we write 10,000 B.C., moreover, we add the comma too.

My existential question du jour: When we get to the year 10,000 A.D., will we or will we not have integrated the comma? And if we do, at what point will some governing body decide to do that? Just the changes in computer programming to add the comma, much less the implications of Y10K with 5 digits, seem to boggle the mind.

I think this is a question we can safely put on the backburner. Failing that, we can hand over to some under-utilised bureaucrat in some over-run government. Your thoughts?

Google to buy Twitter?

Twitter logo with Bird

The rumour mill has it that Google is back at the negotiating table to buy Twitter. The twipping point has tipped the scales in Twitter’s favour. According to this IT PRO article (April 3) or the TechCrunch article (April 2), the deal is close. If the price is over $500 million (per the rumoured price offered by Facebook a few months ago), let’s say $700 million for rounding purposes, that would put the price at a nice round $100 per current (monthly) Twitterer (based on the Feb data that Twitter had 7 million monthly users). I remember back to the days when Dennis Leibowitz, the 1980s standout DLJ Institutional Investor (II) winning research analyst for cable and then cellular companies, would price companies on a per pop basis, before moving to a cash flow evaluation and then to a more standard EPS model. Here we must be having plenty of discussions around dollars per eye balls, per members, per twits… and all those on discounted future numbers. Having already sold Blogger to Google, the founders of Twitter are aware of what it takes to make a sale, so the Google Gates (not the Microsoft ones) are surely well open.

If the deal does get signed, I would have to believe many companies are finally going to wake up to the idea of getting involved with Twittering… Perhaps, it will be a boon for the other microblogs too. I still think there needs to be a lot of intermarrying/interconnecting between the various social media sites to take to the next level. As TechCrunch alludes to, Twitter will surely be at the heart of new functionalities and communities: or (not yet done), etc. This affair will certainly be interesting to follow.

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:

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 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?

This Crisis will bring a Paradigm Shift on the Internet

Crisis, What Crisis? Bring forth the Internet

As we spin into the depths of this worldwide economic crisis, the opportunity for companies to move to more Crisis in Chinese Charactersefficient, effective and measurable marketing activities online seems perfectly obvious, if not natural. The time has never been more appropriate for companies to ramp up online activity because their consumer will be increasingly on the other end waiting for them. I identify below five main reasons why the consumer will be more than ever present on the Internet specifically because of the economic downturn.

(1) In this period of crisis, there is a very real likelihood that people will spend even more time online in the near-term because the web will offer a cheaper alternative way to spend time (watch YouTube or Daily Motion videos) and find entertainment (on a myriad game sites) than, say, going out to dinner in a restaurant or going to the flicks. Rather than going outside to buy a newspaper, free subscriptions will bring people online (or the news will be downloaded to their mobile phone). Doing banking/finances on line (a cost benefit for the embattled banks to save on bank tellers), paying your paperless bills (save on postal costs) and other administrative tasks will bring people to their computer.

(2) The internet is the most expedient way to do networking — especially important for those people without a job (linkedin, monster, etc.). The Millennials will need to have the “older” generations on board to hire them, but in general, the custom of business networking on line is beginning to build already. This notion reinforces a tenet I have long held which is that your presence online will become your most effective CV or resumé (see here for a prior post).

(3) There are plenty of new applications and sites that now make searching for a bargain substantially easier, specifically the price comparison machines, such as Kelkoo, PriceGrabber, Shopzilla… And this point goes beyond the notion that you can get better information from internet sites (and peer-to-peer reviews, etc.)

(4) In times when travel may be too expensive, there are now many virtual ways just to stay in touch with your friends and family (skype for face to face, facebook for group hugs or twitter, jaiku for group pecks). Essentially, the internet social media networks are intrinsically designed for harder economic times. Not all of them will survive, of course, but each will be forced to carve out its niche, its purpose and the likelihood is that the economic crisis will bring much needed acuity to each social media network’s positioning.

(5) And, finally, the truth is that items sold on line will be cheaper in fact and in perception. When you add the cost of getting in your car (time is money…), consuming fuel with the risk of traffic infractions to go to the brick & mortar (only to find a less informed salesperson) the chances are that the consumer is in effect going to find the Internet a cheaper way to consume. With people and companies forced to work harder and longer hours to survive, time for personal shopping will decline ipso facto. Retirees who have already shown a propensity to hit the ‘net, will do so even more (note to self: big business in keyboards will large keys). Driving to the store hardly eases with age. And, lest we forget that, with driving, there is the added nuisance of polluting the environment. Clearly, on the supply side, more and more companies will move to e-commerce platforms (expensive as they may be initially) because they offer a higher margin business model once the critical mass is reached. Moreover, having one’s own e-commerce site is a useful counter force for the brand/company against a distribution network whose strength in the balance of power has become hard to manage.

Vortex Internet

With the backdrop of the demographic and sociological surge of online traffic, plus the terrific growth numbers in developing countries, it all makes me believe that we are truly in the vortex of the paradigm shift. Beyond the crisis, we will come out different, truly changed in our behaviour and, specifically, our relationship with the Internet. With the oft mentioned Chinese expression (pictogram above), in times of crisis, yes there is danger and great opportunities. The danger lies in the fact that the crisis may be worse than expected and certainly the Internet will not solve everything. And the Internet has its own dangers in terms of potentially dehumanizing relationships or rendering us captive to the 17″ screen…  That said, nonetheless, it is worth noting that since the Internet and the e-companies have already experienced their own bubble-bursting and crisis, they have created more durable models, filled with more substantial content and purpose.  In the process, Internet companies are (perhaps inherently less fat and) potentially more resistant to the current crisis than many brick & mortar brethren.

All the same, the economic crisis presents a golden opportunity for the Internet. How to play it? That will be the subject of another post. 

UPDATE FEB 8, 2009: I found this article written by Le Monde on Jan 30, 2009, showing that clearly this idea above is gaining traction in France:  La Recession accélère la rupture entre le virtuel et le réel.

Twitter Tweet Clouds versus Blog Clouds

Tweetcloud Twitter mdial
Thanks to Greg Verdino’s post, I was inspired to find out what my Twitter or “Tweet” cloud would look like. I attach it [above] in order to compare whether my twittering is consistent or not with my blogging. Per Greg’s comments, a lot more “doing” than being…no real surprises… The differences match the different platforms. I note the presence of “reading” and “watching” and “checking” in my tweets! All good pre-blogging activities.

Blogger Minter Dialogue Cloud Label May 2008

Compare for yourself.

And, bouncing off of Joe Jaffe’s post on Cuss-o-meter, my blog came up with a no-kidding 0%! Hum. Maybe I should be getting madder, eh, Joe?

Internet Disconnection and Missed Communications

Internet Disconnection Means No EmailsAfter a week of being disconnected from my computer and the Internet, I can truthfully say that I felt good about it. No email or blogging withdrawal symptoms, albeit a few other symptoms that come with visiting Egypt (more about the trip in another post).

Having been away for exactly seven days, I was able to assess what one-way flow of personal (i.e. not work related) communications I receive in a week.

It goes like this:

Hotmail (joint account with my wife) had 153 emails of which 13 were in the junk inbox (but I would add that the junk filter caught one legitimate mail). 30 were “forwarded” messages (jokes, chain letters, etc.); 30 were newsletters (for which I have opted in); and 20 were from the kids’ school. Eight were notifications of one or other site (just four comments on the blog). And the remainder were more or less personal communications. (Note that a 2006 ‘Yahoo Asks‘ post suggests that there are in excess of 62 billion emails per day worldwide).

Facebook Ancient VampireFacebook: 18 notifications, 9 new friend requests, 6 mails in the inbox and 6 other requests (group, new app…). I also am happy to say that my “Ancient Vampire” (left) recruited a net of 3 new accolytes (+4-1).

Linkedin: 14 messages and 1 new connection.

Twitter: just over 400 hundred of messages from my 56 followees. One new follower request. My sms notification has been switched off (not sure why).

Plaxo: 2 messages.

: 0

Marzar: 2 new connections.

This Blog: average number of site visitors dropped to 20 from 30 per day. RSS feed is holding consistently at 32.

Including the barrage of Twitter (I am not going to count Jaiku or Orkut), I received a total of 611 messages. This means that I received 87 “messages” per day or 3.6 per hour. Per my calculations, this would mean that over 3/4 of the messages were not directed personally to me. If I remove the Twitter messages from the calculation, the ratio of “personal” messages moves back to what appears to be a reasonable 47%. But, the question is whether that is a good level considering the filters and CRM capabilities that are now available?

Had I had an outgoing “long absence” message, this might have meant I received a few less messages. On the other hand, since I didn’t reply to any of the messages, this number was a little restrained (for those of you who know me, I am typically a rapid fire responder).

What strikes me is that, today, the number of sources of messages has mushroomed and, if Twitter-type communications is included, I have only 1/4 of my messages coming via traditional emails (i.e. via hotmail).

Which bright young entrepreneur will create a site to do the above communication aggregation for me?