Web

AdLab: Avatarize Yourself Until You Are Blue In the Face

Submitted by Sam Moore on Tue, 01/26/2010 - 09:36

Screen shot 2010-01-26 at 9.28.36 AM.png
AdLab has some detail about the already-old-news Avatar/McDonalds upload-my-face thingie, running in Europe.
Obviously this has been done before - from "Simpsonize Me" to M&M's to Dexter and back again - but at least this time we have some stats:

  • 4 million user sessions
  • nearly 10 minute session time
  • about 1 million shares via email/social network post

So, a great data set for explaining the concepts of "sticky" and "spreadable" to your audience.
AdLab post

Avatarize Yourself

AppMakr - easy iPhone app for your RSS feed

Submitted by Sam Moore on Wed, 01/13/2010 - 15:20
D7CFCE8D-4983-46F4-9BD3-3C49295BE4F2.jpg
Guy Kawasaki points us to AppMakr - a simple widget builder that creates an iPhone app, with your RSS feed as the content.
You distribute the resulting app through the iPhone App Store - either under AppMakr's account, or your own Apple Developer Account, if you have one.
Be sure to visit Guy's article - from now till Monday, he's got a promo code that lets you build your app for $49 instead of $199.
6F4C7022-1367-4549-A927-FFC6E3D28AF0.jpg
AppMakr site

O'Reilly on the Whitehouse.gov switch to Drupal

Submitted by Sam Moore on Tue, 10/27/2009 - 13:14

4718B4D4-50C8-4D98-B937-BDFFB97402E3.jpg
Following up on the news that whitehouse.gov has been migrated to Drupal, Tim O'Reilly comments on the O'Reilly Radar site.

Among other things, O'Reilly points out that having a high-profile target like this using OSS software validates the long-understood advantage of open source in the security arena. But there's more:

More than just security, though, the White House saw the opportunity to increase their flexibility. Drupal has a huge library of user-contributed modules that will provide functionality the White House can use to expand its social media capabilities, with everything from super-scalable live chats to multi-lingual support.
In many ways, this is the complement to the Government as Platform mantra I've been chanting in Washington. When you build a vibrant, extensible platform, others add value to the foundation you establish; when you join such a platform, you get the benefit of all those features you didn't have to develop yourself.



So is the White House actually creating a user community around their website, in the best Web 2.0 fashion? Well, not yet - right now there's no interactivity to speak of on the site, and no indication as to what the plans are.

O'Reilly post

AP news release, via Huffington Post

Drupal lead Dries Buytaert's comments

Brainloaf blog: Intelligent Marketing Technology

Submitted by Sam Moore on Fri, 10/23/2009 - 14:18

5C84C975-9D83-46F1-8910-A4040712A814.jpg
Our friends at Brainloaf, a development shop specializing in Marketing Technology, posted on the subject of integrating tactical technologies with a more comprehensive strategic view - something that is surprisingly lacking in online marketing today.

Here's a key point:

The explosion of possible channels for businesses to reach potential customers has made it difficult to know which will be most profitable. In order to manage multiple, fragmented media channels, you need to have a clear plan on how you're going to spend your money, where to place your media and how to measure your results. All too often in our new fast paced media world, the driving focus is to move and do something immediately. In Social Media, there is a low barrier to entry, that companies approach it as a low cost channel that will yield huge profits. As a result there are many poorly designed and executed ideas. You need to set goals. You need to create a strategy. Then build a plan of tactics to execute that strategy. Did I mention you should have goals and a strategy to reach them?


Not that any of this isn't quite obvious to anyone looking at online marketing today - but when was the last time you heard a programmer talk about strategy like this?

Not for nothing, the main Brain at Brainloaf, Mike Rogers, worked with Seth Godin in a past life. Now THAT makes for an interesting skillset.
Full Post

Gerry McGovern on Surviving information-seeking sickness

Submitted by Sam Moore on Fri, 10/09/2009 - 14:59

Screen shot 2009-10-09 at 2.57.59 PM.png
A cute post from Gerry McGovern, illustrating the fallacy of flooding website visitors with information when all they really want is to get something done:

It took time. Lots of counseling. I had many relapses. The doctors told me that I had spent too much time with too many web teams who didn’t live in the real world. These web teams built websites full of information without any real understanding of what their customers actually wanted. These web teams thought people came looking for information, when in fact people had specific tasks that they wanted to solve. Information was only a means to an end. It was not the end.


Full post

Social Media for B2B

Submitted by Sam Moore on Sun, 10/04/2009 - 18:43

Picture 3.png

Socialnomics has a brief but interesting piece on using social media for B2B.

While it seems many B2B companies see Social Media as only appropriate for consumer interactions, in fact the ability to hear and listen to what the market is saying is just as important for B2B companies.


Here's a snippet:

Listen First

This is a major maxim for B2C companies in social media, and it’s just as important in the B2B realm. Each B2B vertical uses social media differently, so it’s important to determine not only where the conversations are taking place, but what the conversations are about. Many tools can help a company collect this conversational data (including Radian6 and Filtrbox).

You will be able to better determine the needs of your most important clients by listening. Good B2B companies have always listened to their clients. Great B2B companies have always taken it one step further and listened to their competitors’ clients.

Full Article

B.L. Ochman's blog: Dear Corporations: Nothing Else Matters if Your Customer Service Sucks

Submitted by Sam Moore on Mon, 08/17/2009 - 16:05

Picture 1.png

B.L. Ochman has a pointed, if brief, article on why customer service is where your business will be won or lost.

When you come right down to it, it's almost always the hourly employees who have actual contact with actual customers who create your bottom line results. It makes great economic sense to empower them to solve a problem with one phone call...
In case some companies haven't noticed, we are in the midst of the worst economic downturn since the Great Depression. Customers count. Treat us like you know that. We'll all be a lot happier. And more prosperous.

Full article

I've come across a few other instances of this kind of thing in the last few days. A friend on a music site I'm part of noted that the Intellitouch tuner company cheerfully replaced his broken tuner, even though his kids had stomped it - not the company's fault at all.
As a counterpoint to Ms. Ochman's experience, you can't beat this kind of story. Intellitouch has made a customer for life - more so, an evangelist.
Here's a snippet of a similar, if more widely read, account, from BoingBoing, detailing KitchenAid's remarkable service:

The operator asked for my serial number, asked me to describe the problem, then asked if I could be at some address the next day to receive my replacement unit and ship back the defective one. I gave her my office address, and yesterday at around 2PM, a DHL guy showed up with a brand new espresso machine in its package. I lifted it out, replaced it with the defective one, watched as the DHL guy slapped a return sticker on it, and then he left, leaving me a shiny new coffee machine that I brought home in a cab (two people on the street and the cabbie all stopped me and asked me about this beautiful coffee machine and whether it worked as good as it looked and where they could get one of their own). This morning, I enjoyed a perfect cappuccino with breakfast, and ruminated on just how damned good the customer service from Kitchen Aid had been, and I figured, man, that deserves some public approbation.

Now, that was worth it for KitchenAid - BoingBoing's readership is enormous, and everyone now knows how good KitchenAid is. All because their CS team "got it". Now, what happens in the opposite case? Do you really want some widely-read blogger telling the world how atrocious your service is? Wise up, everybody.

CMSWire: Nobody Cares About Your Website

Submitted by Sam Moore on Mon, 08/17/2009 - 11:24

CD9080D6-9005-4417-B776-B97ADA691DA5.jpg

CMS Wire's Gerry McGovern has a deliciously snarky reminder of how silly it is to expect that anyone cares about your "newly-redesigned-to-serve-you-better" little web-turd.

Here's Gerry:

Your customers couldn't care less about your new look, your new design or whether your dog has just had kittens.

I love a short-and-sweet puncture to the marketing hot air balloon. Thanks, Gerry.
Full article

Information Architecture of Social Experience Design: ASIS&T Bulletin

Submitted by Sam Moore on Sat, 08/15/2009 - 00:26

ASIS&T_local.png
The American Society for Information Science and Technology has an in-depth look at user experience in social applications. While probably no one will agree with every point here, they certainly do raise some good questions. At least they've articulated many of the issues.

Their article promises "Five Principles, Five Anti-Patterns and 96 Patterns (in Three Buckets)". It's a long read, but worth it for anyone who has responsibility for - or advocates for - better UX in social media applications.
Here's the first bit - the principles:

Five Principles

Of the myriad principles we've unearthed so far, five cut across the entire experience:

  • Pave the Cowpaths
  • Talk Like a Person
  • Play Well with Others
  • Learn from Games
  • Respect the Ethical Dimension

Here's some detail on the "Pave the Cowpaths" principle, in this case touching on something I've butted heads against myself:

The second application of Pave the Cowpaths comes later in the lifecycle of your site, when you’ve got a user base and they start doing things you never anticipated. Often the impulse is to stamp out these rogue behaviors and enforce draconian rules requiring only the behaviors you had planned for. This course of action really only makes sense if the behaviors you are trying to stamp out are truly destructive or evil. There are many anecdotes about thriving social sites that killed themselves off by legislating against fun and forcing their users into exile to find the activities they had been improvising “incorrectly” in the site they had to leave.

A better plan is to support the behaviors your users are engaged in. Let your users tell you what the best and highest use of your interface may turn out to be. Don’t be so arrogant as to assume you know everything about how the social dynamics you’ve unleashed need to evolve.



I have this same beef with the owners of an educational site I'm part of - though the issues are better articulated here than in my rants on the subject.

Basically, they insisted on obscuring the ways in which their students could download their video content and watch it while offline, slow it down (it's a music education site), take it on the train, etc. The owners went so far as to delete posts offering tips to other users, and reprimand the posters.

My contention is that you're never going to stop people from doing this (hint: Video Download Helper for Firefox is your friend) - you're just going to make it more difficult for the people who are less technically adept.

Instead of fighting your user base, why not learn from them? Maybe they really are smarter about what you're building than you are - there are certainly more of them, and they use your application more than the owners typically do.

When your customers are coloring outside the lines you have two choices - yell at them for being messy and not following the rules, or re-think where your lines are.

Or, as the quote above says, "Don't be so arrogant."

Full article

Tweetmeme

Submitted by Sam Moore on Thu, 08/13/2009 - 00:05

Picture 2.pngGuy Kawasaki's blog on American Express had a piece a few days ago, about TweetMeme.

TweetMeme not only tracks popular tweets (here's Alltop's TweetMeme aggregate), it also tracks how many times a post is re-tweeted. Here's why that's interesting:

The Tweetmeme retweet button is more useful than Digg as an indicator of the quality of a link because Digg is about a small number of selected people getting stories onto the Digg home page. The assumption with Tweetmeme is that if you retweet a link, you are telling your followers that it leads to a good site, and you are putting your reputation on the line. If you digg something, you are not risking your reputation nearly as much—if at all.

Retweet_buttonI plan on adding the TweetMeme button (sample shown here) to my blog tomorrow.

Why? Well, now that I'm using Gigya Socialize for Drupal to push my blog posts out to both Twitter and Facebook, TweetMeme should help me keep track of where they go - at least on Twitter, which I frankly care more about anyway.
Guy's post

UPDATE: as I might have known, as with many things in Drupal - "There's a module for that!".

In this case, the TweetMeme module (surprise!).

Right now, all it does is add the TweetMeme badge to your posts. But it's smart enough to know the Blog posts's URL, as disctinct from the main page URL, so that's handy. You can see it in action at the top right of this post, if you're reading this on the web site.

Later, I'll dig through the project's issues etc. to see if there's plans to add the button to the RSS feed.