Twitter regionalising trends

Tonight twitter just lifted its commercial presence in 70 countries by regionalising their ‘trend’ category.

People can now view NZ trends by simply clicking ‘change’ in the Trends category and selecting ‘New Zealand’. It’s now possible for companies and brands in New Zealand to raise their profile on twitter to levels we didn’t anticipate.

This simple act moves twitter from a niche medium to a potential broadcast space. If a brand can get enough share of voice in NZ it’ll reach beyond niche followers and could build into quite an influential media placement.

Time to start thinking about what your #brand is and how you can get multiple repeats. In Twitter Trends volume counts and New Zealand is still an open market.

Where to swear

Last week a friend of mine tweeted that a large telecommunications company’s website was “f#&king” slow.

I didn’t think too much of it but later I went into LinkedIn and saw the tweet reappear in his updates. Suddenly swearing about a commercial entity didn’t seem so smart. LinkedIn is a professional networking service and swearing in this environment is akin to swearing in a job interview.

One click publishing is a useful advance in content management but it does pay to think about where that content will appear and what perception you’re passing on.

Hook, line and Snapper

Many moons ago I remember discussing the need for online micropayments with some smart web guys. They saw it (along with better bandwidth) as the chasm that would make the difference for successful ecommerce to really explode into the mainstream. This was the mid nineties, so we didn’t really talk about user experience then but inside the micropayment discussion really sits the need for an efficient user experience. If your process of micropayments makes things easier for people, they’ll adopt it.

iTunes is a classic example of this in action. So too is the Snapper card. The later is an interesting example and one that would solve one of my nagging issues with charity street appeals.

The issue I have with street appeals is I never have any cash on me. On Daffodil Day last week I was able to pull together a measly $0.50 from my pocket that didn’t really warrant me being offered a flower to wear.

Of course I could have walked around the corner and got some money out from an ATM and given the collector some cash, but if I’m honest, I probably wouldn’t be donating $10 or $20 and to change that would have meant another trip to the dairy. All up the process was just too hard. So I didn’t give the charity anything more than a single coin.

Now if this micropayment experience between the collector and I could be simplified, that would help. Here’s where I think the Snapper card could help.

If Snapper were able to arm each collector with a simple scanning device I’d have a simple way of giving collectors a self-nominated amount like $2 or $3 with a quick swipe of my Snapper card. There it is. Payment process complete. No nonsense.

I’d also have an online record of my donations that could be recorded for tax purposes. Perhaps something that could be quickly loaded into Xero or MYOB if I’m a business.

If this were possible, I would use it. And I think others would too.

Sometimes it pays to come second

Be the first, be the best, be different is a catchy line that floated around a few years ago as a motivator for business success. When you think of some real world examples of this line Sony and Apple do a pretty good job. The Walkman, the iPod, the iPad have all ticked the boxes of being the first, the best and different.

By being at the forefront of innovation, Sony and Apple’s brands sit nicely with the desires and demands of people who consider themselves innovators and early adopters. These people are also at the heart of social media and popular trends so it’s no surprise that when Apple and Sony release their new products it creates such a remarkable buzz.

Problem is, there are only a small number of innovators and early adopters in the world and most of them get bored really quickly.

This is where we see ‘copycat’ manufacturers like Google and Dell waltz in, take the innovators ideas that society has liked, alter them slightly and mop up the remainder of the market with similar products sold at a considerably reduced price. That’s where the real money is made.

And this is what’s going to happen with Google’s Android. The iPhone 4 is having some speed wobbles and I just can’t help feeling that Google’s gradually building some momentum underneath the glamour and will be able to use all its arsenal of services to systematically swallow Apple’s profits.

If Google do this Apple will, of course, kick into the next big thing. I do wonder though if they’d make a better profit if they repackaged some of their products to compete with copycat brands after the buzz has settled.

Perhaps be second, learn from the best, be similar might be a better line for those that don’t mind missing out on the glamour, but in doing so minimise the risks and still make a very successful business. Just ask Trade me.

Adult video said to be moving to HTML5

I got alerted to this news this morning. For most people this little bit of information means absolutely nothing. But it speaks volumes of the power of Apple.

To bring folks up to speed, when Apple recently launched their iPad they built it so it couldn’t run Flash, Adobe’s proprietary platform for animation, video and interactivity for websites. They felt Flash drew too much power from the battery to operate effectively. Instead Apple saw the future in the open code of HTML5.

At the moment millions of websites and online videos use Flash so with this massive decision by Steve Jobs at Apple, Flash sites and videos will be lost to all iPad users (and that user list is growing rapidly).

If you consider one of the core features of the iPad will be domestic use with people using it to peruse the web, video is an important feature. And now if the article I read is true to form and the adult entertainment industry do cross to HTML5, things will move superquick.

This news also makes for a bit of amusement as Steve Jobs has been quoted in a recent email exchange with Valleywag editor Ryan Tate as saying their App Store will create a “freedom from porn”.

If you think I’m being sensationalist, think back to what’s driven the development of some critical web developments that we take for granted.

Where did the willingness and capability for online payments come from?

Would we have peer-to-peer video streaming without adult video?

For things to really advance with the web, money needs to change hands. And for a large part of the web, adult entertainment is where the money comes from. Just consider Wikipedia. Where did Jimmy Wales get the capital to seed this fantastic resource? Have a look

Sorting smokers

Today’s announcement that cigarettes are going up to $17 a packet made me consider what people would save if they quit smoking and put their savings on their mortgage. Here’s what I found out by using Sorted’s calculators:

If you smoked a packet a day that’ll cost $238 per fortnight in 2012.

If you have a mortgage of $200,000 at 7% interest you’ll need fortnightly repayments of around $652 to repay it over 25 years.

The interest you’d pay over on that mortgage over 25 years is $223, 861. That’s just the interest.

If you quit smoking and put the money you spent on cigarettes into your mortgage repayments you’d make repayments of $890 per fortnight.

The result of this wee action would mean you’d pay $107,482 in interest and pay off your mortgage in just 13 years and 4 months.

That’s a saving of $116,379.

Visit Quitline now.

Bidding Bon Voyage to Bebo

This week’s announcement from AOL that they’re likely to sell or close Bebo after paying US$850 million for it early last year did not surprise me. AOL are legendary for muddling even the best of products and for the last 12 months I’ve seen Facebook really outperform Bebo on a number of levels. And for me, a core level is advertising.

In early 2007 I began running ads for some of my clients on Bebo. This new player on the local social media scene had quite simply exploded with Kiwis aged 12-24 and I was keen to get my clients’ sites noticed here.

The journey to get ads to air was very drawn out. At that stage Bebo didn’t have anyone on the ground in NZ so I had to go all the way to Jim Scheinman, the CEO in San Francisco, to get some sort of traction on who and how we could get our ads rolling.

In the end the solution was to use Google’s Placement Targeted Network. Now I was absolutely happy with that. Using Google I could easily optimise exposure and cost. After all, a site receiving hundreds of millions of page impressions was ripe for the picking and low cost high exposure advertising was underway.

Subsequently, we had a number of really successful months running ads for our clients on Bebo until it all went to pot when Bebo enlisted TVNZ’s help as their NZ media sales partner. All of sudden a complex middleman was here using a CPM model for buying ad placements on Bebo. It just didn’t work.

So we stopped advertising on Bebo. Our clients couldn’t afford it.

Fortunately at this time another social media site called Facebook was building real momentum in New Zealand.

Facebook had learnt a thing or two about surviving online and invested in creating an ad management console that enabled people to manage their own advertising just like Google. We tried it with a few of our clients and it worked. And it still works for us every month.

Now I know we’re only ‘little old New Zealand’, but I can’t help think that that very simple decision of keeping the ad logistics simple and enabling a long tail of advertisers to fill these vast voids of ad inventory was a pointer to why Bebo is melting and Facebook is solidifying its position as the global player in social media.

Boy’s going global

Great to hear Taika Waititi’s second feature film Boy has completely nailed the local competition to go straight to number 1 in NZ’s box office. I think it will also do well internationally. Here’s why:

1. “Academy Award Nominee” has a nice lead in to any promotion. (That it was for a short film a few years back is irrelevant.)
2. It’s getting great reviews. Product sells. Period.
3. He’s just like Flight of the Conchords. For international audiences this is gold. In fact, his history with both Jermaine and Bret is solid. No bollocks. That authenticity works with reviewers.
4. He’s bided his time. No ‘one hit wonder’. He’s grown through it.
5. It’s authentic. Taika grew up on the East Coast and this story is set in a place he knows.
6. Pass the dutchie. After hearing it in the trailer I watched it on YouTube. Priceless capture of musical history.  Been humming it all night.
7. Levering Michael Jackson from 1984 is failsafe.
8. The world loves New Zealand films. Peter Jackson gave us the digital brilliance but a story with Maori characters with thick East Coast accents is fresh for picking after Niki Caro’s Whale Rider opened the door.
9. They’ve taken time to create a unique online presence beyond the movie website with a dedicated site for the Crazy Horse Gang. With priceless wee vignettes hosted on YouTube this is a superb set of assets that can mix it up across social mediums. There’s a lot of mileage to unfold here.
10. He’s got a terrific one liner – calling someone an “egg”. Innocuous and strangely delightful with a thick NZ accent.

Let’s see how it pans out.

We’ll pay to hear about ourselves



/* Style Definitions */ table.MsoNormalTable {mso-style-name:”Table Normal”; mso-tstyle-rowband-size:0; mso-tstyle-colband-size:0; mso-style-noshow:yes; mso-style-parent:””; mso-padding-alt:0cm 5.4pt 0cm 5.4pt; mso-para-margin-top:0cm; mso-para-margin-right:0cm; mso-para-margin-bottom:10.0pt; mso-para-margin-left:0cm; mso-pagination:widow-orphan; font-size:12.0pt; font-family:”Times New Roman”; mso-ascii-font-family:Cambria; mso-ascii-theme-font:minor-latin; mso-fareast-font-family:”Times New Roman”; mso-fareast-theme-font:minor-fareast; mso-hansi-font-family:Cambria; mso-hansi-theme-font:minor-latin; mso-ansi-language:EN-US;}

Earlier this week a prominent NZ blogger who’d bagged NBR’s paid subscription model announced that he’d subscribed. I only know this because he tweeted it. I mentioned this to a friend and he said, “Mike, rich folk will pay to hear about themselves”.  

Made me think.

New Zealand’s piping up!

Basically every Tweet I’m following at the moment is about the announcement of Pacific Fibre. This new venture “aims to connect Australia and New Zealand to the USA with a high capacity low latency fibre cable.” And what a Twitter friendly story we’ve got here.

It’s being backed by Kiwi heavyweights Sir Stephen Tindall, Sam Morgan, Lance Wiggs, Mark Rushworth and Rod Drury and it appears they’ve timed their announcement just right to go gangbusters across a particularly useful crowd of thought leaders.

Pacific Fibre impact

Bernard Hickey from tweeted an hour ago and it’s just exploded. He just told me that his initial tweet has been retweeted over a dozen times in the last hour. Looking at Datascope I can see his name’s all over things. Chris Keall from NBR is doing nicely too.

The story has just been picked up as the lead on NZ Herald and Stuff too.

And this news is welcomed. Pacific Fibre could be something spectacular for New Zealand. As far back as I remember New Zealand’s Archilles heel with Internet business has always been our limited pipes. The opportunity is massive. It’s going to put the crawlers up Telecom – something I’m sure appeals to Sam Morgan!

I’m a little surprised that Peter Jackson and Richard Taylor aren’t in this uber-consortium too. I’d imagine large bandwidth for their large hard drives would be a real boost for their businesses.

Interesting news. And go Twitter for sharing the love so quickly.

Good luck to all involved.