futurON brings a guest blog this Friday by Jorn Lyseggen, founder and CEO of Meltwater Group, on a very interesting and relevant topic of the day…

About the author

Jorn Lyseggen is the founder and CEO of Meltwater Group. He is a Norwegian serial entrepreneur and Meltwater is his 4th start-up. He has two prior industrial exits and one IPO. He currently lives in Palo Alto,California. Follow him on twitter: @jorn_lyseggen.

UK ruling makes internet browsing a copyright risk, rendering innocent acts of millions illegal

Browsing is the digital equivalent of reading. When you consume the content of a book, you read it. When you consume content online, you browse it.

The wide ramifications of the ruling by the Court of Appeal two days ago on July 27th in the case NLA v Meltwater & PRCA is that the temporary digital copies a browser creates when opening a website will be a breach of copyright unless a license is granted by the rights holder. The ruling does address a lot of other copyright related issues specifically to the dispute between NLA and Meltwater &PRCA as well, but for the broader audience this aspect of the ruling is the most interesting to fully understand.

Why does this have wide ramifications?

The significance of this ruling is that if you live in UK, every time you click on an internet link you must have a license for every page you open. This is the case for every link you follow on the internet, any link people send to you by email, or any link you find on Twitter or Facebook.

This ruling is strikingly different from general practice that consider temporary digital copies from browsing as transient copies facilitating the transmission of a work and therefore part of the explicit exception in the Copyright law.

How do you know if you have the license from the right holder to open their page?

In many cases it is impossible to know ahead of time simply because you don’t know where a link will lead you and what page will be opened in your browser. Once you have opened the page, digital copies are created by your browser, one in the temporary internal computer memory and one on your screen, and by this point you are twice in breach of copyright according to the CoA ruling unless you have been granted a license to make copies of this page.

Many web sites do have a link to terms and conditions at the bottom of their page. Examples from the Guardian and the Telegraph, both NLA owners. Both are tedious and long, but in general they grant you a “personal non-commercial use”licence.

The problem with terms and conditions of web pages

There are several fundamental problems with terms and conditions like those of the Guardian and the Telegraph.

Firstly, you don’t see them before you open the page and by this time the browser has already made a copy of the page.

Secondly, such terms are likely to change at any point in time without you being notified. Since you don’t see the terms before opening a page and the burden of finding and reading the t&c’s for every page you open is too big of a burden to put on a user, can the right holder really hold you to these terms in the first place? If you haven’t been presented with them and you haven’t accepted them, are the terms binding at all?

Thirdly, the common terminology of a “personal non-commercial use” is very vague and poorly suited to give sufficient guidance to a user what one can or cannot do.

Why the ruling creates millions of UK copyright offenders

The consequence of the CoA ruling is that if you at work or in a work context open a web page with a “personal and non-commercial use only” license, you are in breach of copyright.

Should you be a journalist researching a story you are about to write, you are in breach of copyright. If you are you an employee reading up on the latest news in your industry in the business section of an online newspaper like the Telegraph, you are in breach of copyright.

In the UK there are millions of employees every day that browse the internet to read news and other content online inadvertently becoming copyright offenders.

Why the UK is not served by this ruling

The UK society cannot be served by a copyright law that so fundamentally clashes with how millions of its citizens are using the internet every day. The ability to browse the internet without fear of infringing copyright is a fundamental internet principle. This principle has been one of the cornerstones for the successful development of the internet and all its associated business models. As job creation and economic prosperity is becoming increasingly created by digital services and ecosystems, it would be devastating for UK and stifling for UK companies if such a fundamental principle is questioned.

Why Meltwater fights this cause

Meltwater is a Norwegian privately held software company offering online news and social media analytics to more than 20,000 clients globally. In late 2009, Meltwater brought a new licensing scheme aggressively pushed by the National Licensing Association, the NLA, to the Copyright Tribunal to rule on its reasonableness.

Meltwater has agreed to take a license with NLA for its own practice, but questioned the reasonableness of NLA to request an additional license from each of our clients, collecting copyright fees for every article Meltwater’s service is pointing them to. Such licenses would apply to the clients of all players in our industry, and across UK thousands of companies would have to pay additional copyright fees if NLA got it their way.

Surprisingly, Meltwater was the only one to challenge NLA. The easiest for us would have been to roll over and pass the NLA fees on to our clients like all our competitors did, but we took this fight because we think what NLA is trying to do is WRONG. PRCA intervened in support of Meltwater and together we are doing everything we can to avoid that the clients of Meltwater will have to pay copyright licenses for articles that they themselves can read freely on the internet or, if license fees do have to be paid, to keep the cost to a reasonable level.

Last word is not said

This issue continues in two parallel tracks:

The wider principle CoA ruling classifying millions of Brits as copyright offenders will be appealed to the Supreme Court. It is an open question if they will look at it, but Meltwater will do everything it can to make it happen.

The specifics of the NLA license are scheduled to come up in the Copyright Tribunal in September later this year. Meltwater is confident that the Copyright Tribunal will rule the NLA licensing scheme over-reaching and unreasonable.

Final reflection

It is my personal opinion that the CoA ruling is a parenthesis in the history of UK copyright law. Regardless of whether the Supreme Court is accepting our appeal or not, it is inconceivable that the CoA ruling will withstand the scrutiny of time. We will at some point shake our heads in disbelief by the thoughts of its absurdity and the strange and slightly entertaining copyright rulings of the early days of the internet.

Professor Lionel Bently, Herchel Smith Professor of Intellectual Property, Cambridge University, comments on the ruling as follows:

“…hereafter web-users surf the internet at their peril”

“…there is something fundamentally wrong with a legal regime which renders the innocent acts of many millions of citizens illegal.”

For more analysis of the case we recommend: Professor Bently’s full commentary; “Bently slams very disappointing ruling in Meltwater (http://ipkitten.blogspot.com/2011/07/bently-slams-very-disappointing-ruling.html) and “Clippings ruling could derail much online publishing, says expert” (http://www.out-law.com/page-12116) by Outlaw.


Tags : , , Marketing | 9 comments »

Thinking about privacy and looking around me I found that it might be good to have a little tutorial on a few of the settings available in the most common of social networks (to date). It also, despite a lot of flak, does have fairly advanced privacy controls.

I like the Google+ way of doing this, and it’s easier to explain:
You have circles. When you post about your drunken antics on the weekend, you choose to share this with your “Closest Friends” circle. When you make a general statement, you choose to make it public and when you create a limited, non shareable post, well that’s a private message, not that dissimilar to an email…

On facebook you can have circles as well, but it’s more difficult:

  • First, get to the core of your privacy settings:
    This is how you get to the privacy settings page.

    This is how you get to the privacy settings page.

    Still getting to your privacy settings

    Nearly got there, just one more step!

    a bit more control over how your information is shared.

    next step


  • Here is where you can get into the privacy settings for each individual type of information

    penultimate step

    penultimate step

    at this point, very little information is available externally

    at this point, very little information is available externally

    So, by following these steps, what we’ve done is created an online locker to store digital data about ourselves, where very little information is available from the outside. This is the way we live in everyday life, so no different than what we already do anyway.


  • Now lets go to our friends list

    get to friends

    get to friends

  • You next have to assign each person to a “list”, the Facebook equivalent of a Google+ Circle. Much like you would think of everyone in your life.

    here is where you can classify your facebook friends

    here is where you can classify your facebook friends


  • Now you can go back to the Privacy settings piece and “only show” every type of information to a specific set of lists. For instance, only your close friends can have access to your phone number and home address, but all your acquaintances and colleagues can know your University and date of birth

  • Finally, when making a new post or a creating a new album, use the privacy control and decide who you will be showing it to.

    new post privacy controls

    new post privacy controls

There, hope that helped :)

Tags : , , , Marketing, Social Media | 3 comments »

The Science of Listening.

Posted by karthik on Tuesday Jul 26, 2011

A colleague from the media industry mentioned the other day over lunch – ‘the difference between search and social is that search is now a science. Social isn’t yet’. I couldn’t possibly agree more. But this triggered a completely different question in my mind – How scientific can social really get? The answer to this is short. Very.

Fortunately or unfortunately, social media has become a bedrock for entrepreneurial activity in the past decade and the result is an amazing variety of tools and methods to measure and monitor ‘consumer generated media’. ‘Fortunate’, because this has brought about great innovation, more visibility and wonderful talent into the market. ‘Unfortunate’, because it has brought out half-baked products that are trying to set standards in an industry that thrives from destroying all standards. But the common thread to all of them is that they are scientific, quantitative methods to measure fluid, qualitative data.

Take listening tools for instance. There are tried & tested tools like Nielsen BuzzMetrics, which has literally been around almost as long as social media has been, in many parts of the World. Then there are other very robust tools like Radian6, Meltwater, SM2, etc. And then there are the ambitious ones. Almost all of them can tell you the exact number of times your brand has been mentioned or how the volumes trended on each day of a month. However, they will struggle when it comes to analyzing sentiment. Industry experts will probably put the accuracy levels of tools to measure sentiment automatically, at around 70-80%. However, I feel it could be even lower. And it does not surprise me, because things like ‘passion’ and ‘sarcasm’ are extremely difficult to interpret through an algorithm. Which is why most of them play it safe and use categories like ‘neutral’ and ‘mixed’, quite liberally.

Let us do this through an example. I searched for ‘Harry Potter review’ on Google, under ‘forums’ and landed at an interesting review of the film. One of the comments on the post was that “The reviewer himself is bitter about HP7”. Now, if a listening tool were to pick this up automatically, analyze it using Natural Language Processing (NLP) techniques and slot it into a pigeon hole, that hole would likely be ‘Negative’. This is because the word ‘bitter’ has been used in close proximity with the brand and there are no other words in the sentence to justify any other sentiment. However in reality, the person who posted this message could have actually loved this film and may have been just showing displeasure at the reviewer himself. Quite possible.

Take the ‘social influence’ tracking tools like Klout or PeerIndex. Their methodologies seem to be reasonable and they do give you some clarity in this space, which is otherwise largely grey at this point. But the question is, as you go forward, will you be able to manipulate your Klout and PeerIndex scores? If you were to follow every other person you come across on Twitter (with the hope that some of them will automatically follow you back) or if you were to take a week off from work, cherry pick the most interesting links on the web and tweet them (with the hope that you will get a lot of retweets), will you be able to move your score up? Quite possible. A Quora post by the PeerIndex CEO recently said that “our ranks are ranks which follow a log distribution…. So it would be wrong to say that some with a score of 50 has double the impact of someone with a score of 25. The right way to use the data is to apply a threshold and some commonsense.”.
The point is that social media – related tools, by the nature of the beast, have to be in Beta permanently – just like your social media strategy itself. It is definitely not an option to ‘not use’ them, because your competition has moved on from relying purely on traditional, ‘asking’ techniques. At the same time, it will also not make sense to rely entirely on them. The sweet spot lies somewhere in between, where you are relying on them for larger trends, by setting thresholds and not taking them to be absolute measures. After all, you don’t want to be deciding KPI’s for your marketing team, based on how a tool interprets ‘This product is bad ass!’.

Tags : , , , Marketing, Social Media | 1 comment »

Note: All views expressed here are my own and not of my employer

Smartphone users spend a lot of time accessing social media from their smarpthones.  A recent J.D. Power and Associates report (March 2011) found that two-thirds of smartphone owners have downloaded games and social networking applications to their devices. ExactTarget (June 2011) found that 50% of smartphone users used Facebook at least once a day, making facebook usage one of the top 5 frequently performed activities on mobile phones. Only more established activities such as texting, calling, and emailing were performed more frequently. comScore reported similar findings in July 2011 – 28.6% of mobile subscribers accessed social networking sites or blogs, making it the second most used communications feature on smartphones.

Additionally, the J.D. Power and Associates report found that social media use leads to higher satisfaction among owners of smartphones and traditional mobile phones. The report suggests that smartphone owners who use their device to access social media sites such as Twitter, Facebook and LinkedIn, have satisfaction averages of 783 on a 1,000-point scale, nearly 22 points higher than smartphone who rarely access social media sites on their device.

And some people even check Facebook before brushing their teeth in the morning…

Maybe findings like these are causing the major phone operating system developers to increase the level of social integration available out of the box. Apple recently announced Twitter integration into the upcoming iOS 5. Microsoft announced in May that their upcoming Windows Phone release (codenamed “Mango”) will feature Facebook, Twitter, and Linkedin as core experiences in the People Hub. Google is likely to include Google+ in a future Android release.

Its pretty clear from the communications focus in Google+ (hangouts, huddles, sparks), the recent partnership of Facebook with Skype, and integrated messaging capabilities described above, that communicating with friends and family is a key element of the social experience.

However, the top reasons driving purchase of a smartphone don’t yet include the integration of social features into the core smartphone experience . A recent Deloitte study found that the main criteria for buying a smartphone were quality, camera, size, keyboard and price.

With social networking growing in popularity and importance, and smartphones increasingly making these experiences available out of the box, will social networking integration become a top 5 smartphone purchase criteria?

We’d love to hear your thoughts.

Disclaimer: All links/image posted are on third party websites. Copyrights as applicable.

Tags : , , , Marketing, Social Media, Technology | 2 comments »

Mac OS X – The King of Cats!

Posted by barathshankar on Thursday Jul 21, 2011

I have been running Mac OS X Lion for a while now (Developer Preview and Gold Master) and have been waiting for the official launch of the OS to provide a review (without being pulled up for violating the NDA).

My Mac: Intel Core 2 Duo 2.0 Ghz with 8 GB RAM and 1 TB 5400 rpm HDD (2008 unibody version). And for the record – I am not a fan boy! I use a Nexus S and a Nook Color running Honeycomb. I also have a laptop that runs Windows 7 and Ubuntu 11.04.

I got on-board the Apple Mac OS bandwagon with Leopard and this is the third version of Mac OS X that I’d be using.  The first thing that struck me with the OS was the speed improvements. Unlike its rival from Seattle, Apple has been fairly successful in making significant under-the-hood improvements to its OS.

With time at a premium, I’m going to provide a quick walk through of some of the top features and thoughts on the latest entrant to the cat family!

Mission Control

The most touted feature of Lion is the mission control feature – a one-stop shop to view all open applications, windows and switch between them. For those who use expose, mission control just cranks it up a notch!

I can’t imagine going back to something without mission control now. It makes navigation so much easier and quicker that you don’t feel like a 3 year old kid lost in a local county fair. You can access mission control with the four finger swipe – lo and behold appears all the windows with icons neatly splattered all over the screen.

Auto Save & Versions

This is a feature that is extremely useful and is designed to avoid those ‘Oh I wish I had saved my file’ moments. However, one of the limitations (at least for now) is the compatibility with third-party applications. I still use Microsoft Office as the primary office tool on my Mac and I couldn’t versions to work on Office.

The idea is that Lion will continuously save files, track them for changes and provide you with a time-machine like format to chose from – this makes editing and tracking changes to documents a literal breeze.

Full Screen Apps

This is by-far my most favourite feature of the OS – hands down! You can enable full-screen (by full screen I mean full screen without any interruption) on native apps like Mail, iTunes,  Safari, iPhoto etc., and work on them without any distraction. If you have multiple full-screen apps open, then you all you got to do is a four-finger swipe to switch windows – the switching is smoother than butter!

Full screen apps is a feature that must be a mandatory all applications (mandatory with the option of using it of course!). It makes focussed work a reality in this era of constant facebook/twitter (and G+) distractions.


I was hoping for something better in my head and am quite disappointed with launchpad. What was supposed to usher in the era of iOS and Mac OS X integration is actually the least used feature in Lion (least used by me in the last 2 months).

While conceptually it lives up to its features, it somehow isn’t very effective when those fingers and touch screen are replaced by keyboard and mouse. I still prefer using the good ol’ mouse to navigate to applications and open the app or even better – stick those apps on my dock!

Other Features

One of the things about Apple is the attention it pays to subtle, minute things that normally wouldn’t catch the attention of our eyes. By making those improvements, Apple has been constantly refining and polishing its OS in a way that other companies do not.

Windows XP -> Vista -> 7 have all been major changes visually as well as architecturally. Same with Ubuntu. However, with Mac OS X – Apple has been offering ‘almost’ the same visual interface while making those minute changes everywhere.

The scroll bar for example, is something that we take for granted. If you notice closely in Lion, it is there when you need it and poof! – gone when you don’t.

The two fingers scrolling in Lion is the exact opposite of how it has been in Leopard and Snow Leopard but it feels so much more fluid and best of all – natural! I wonder why they didn’t do it in the first place.

Other  features such as Mail, Calendar and Address Book have also gotten upgrades and definitely go a long way in making Lion a rock solid OS!

Kudos to Apple for making sure that the Lion lives up to its name and is not just another stray cat!


Disclaimer: All links and images are owned by third-parties. Copyrights as applicable.

Tags : , , , , Innovation, Marketing | 1 comment »

Picking up where I left off last week, the first question I want to tackle is – “What social media strategy is right for my company/organization/department”?

The answer depends on what business goal or objective you have, the most common use cases being:

  • Branding/advertising
  • Customer insights/intelligence
  • Lead generation
  • Sales conversion
  • Loyalty
  • Customer service/support
  • Customer engagement/collaboration
  • Employee engagement/collaboration

The best practice is to not look at these use cases in a siloed manner, rather look at them as interconnected parts of your customer relationship management function. The industry has coined a term for this approach – ‘Social CRM’, to represent the continuum of customer relationships in social media.

Here are some more examples of Social CRM use cases, Source: Altimeter Group.


I personally prefer not to use the ‘CRM’ term too much with social media, at least not in upper-case letters. To most businesses, that usually means spending an arm and a leg on expensive consultants, software and services. There is an implied sense of urgency with social media initiatives, given the exponential growth we are seeing in social media content and customer interactions. Companies cannot afford to spend too much time trying to develop a perfect social media strategy at the expense of timely action – or else you will simply miss the boat. You need to be agile and flexible going in, accepting there will be several unknowns, and able to implement changes and improvements rapidly, based on results.

At the same time, I would not recommend blindly jumping on the social media bandwagon, or going “all-in” with every conceivable social media channel. You need to select your channels carefully, or else you could be setting yourself up for more harm than good. Also, you are better off committing to fewer channels and doing them well than committing to too many channels and spreading yourself too thin.

The main take-away here is taking the “middle path”, finding that healthy medium between planning and implementation, and between the breadth and depth of social media engagements.

I hope to touch on some interesting case studies and examples of successful and not-so-successful social media initiatives by companies in my next Blog.

Disclaimer: All links posted are on third party websites. Copyrights as applicable.

Tags : , , , Marketing, Social Media, Technology | 3 comments »

Part 2 of online privacy musings

Posted by jonathan on Monday Jul 18, 2011

So this time last week I asked myself why I should care whether a site tracked my behaviour?

Of course, there is still nothing preventing a site using my IP address to track my movements server-side. And let us not forget that Cookies in general are extremely useful for various purposes on many sites – it’s where your shopping basket and site-specific preferences are stored more often than not! Old style “physical” shops (hah! What a throwback!) look at where people walk and put their most popular/highest margin products where the biggest foot fall is. Companies would often pay shops to promote their products by putting them in popular locations. The move from physical to digital shopping is where cookies come in – a small text file remembering every page I’ve been, what I looked at and so on. The behavioural targeting cookies are a way for large ad networks spanning many sites to follow people about and provide them with advertising “relevant” to their interests. If I look at audiophile articles on sites served by a certain ad network, I will start seeing “relevant” ads on other sites served by the same ad network.

The problem is that advertising networks can start really building a profile of who I am and what I look at, what my interests are… profiling me as a consumer. This is a much more “qualitative” advertising profile, worth more to the advertisers and far more personal. I wouldn’t really like it if I had a marketing agent following me every time I left the house, taking notes about what isles I passed in supermarkets, what shop windows I looked at, what products I lingered next to… especially if I could not turn around and make this person leave. And this is exactly what happens when tracking cookies are “installed”. The problem here is that of regulation – what are those networks allowed to do with my data? Who said they were allowed to collect this data?

Here’s an experiment for you: On windows current version (4 or 5) Firefox users, go to Tools – Options and look under privacy


where are my cookies

You can even just go to the address bar and type about:cache look at your Disk cache device. How many cookies do you have there? How many of these did you ask for? How many are essential for you to be able to use sites?

Now you know quite how many sites put a permanent marker on your computer whenever you visit them and without being requested. Sometimes it’s useful – site preferences are stored in this way very often; sometimes it’s worrying – ad networks will look at your overall behaviour and feed the information back to the sites that you visit, as well as their customers – companies and governments.

Why should you worry about tracking cookies?

Well, according to rather official research this accounts for a relatively small percentage of online ad revenue (http://democrats.energycommerce.house.gov/documents/20101201/Briefing.Memo.12.01.2010.pdf) and although it is more effective, it is also proportionately more expensive… whether or not that makes a difference to the advertisers is really a question outside the scope of this post.

Why you should worry is because this is unregulated at the moment. Credit card information is heavily regulated and even this is often breached, with vast amounts of data harvested in many recent attacks. Consumer data is not regulated. Imagine how powerful spearphishing can get if an attacker knows every site you’ve visited over the past month? Forget the invasion of privacy. Intimate details can be used against users much more effectively than guess work based on response to spam emails. I don’t want to be a naysayer – the reason so much information is free online is due to advertising revenue and behavioural targeting (through rose-tinted glasses) being a highly effective tool to improve conversion ratios (http://www.networkadvertising.org/pdfs/NAI_Beales_Release.pdf). 6.8% when compared to 2.8% is not a statistic to be sniffed at after all.

I simply want to ensure that a. I am consulted on whether an ad network is allowed to use my details and b. I want there to be regulation as to who is allowed to use my information and how they must ensure that this is secured. The PCI Security Standards Council has done a tremendous job of ensuring credit card details are stored securely. So should advertising agencies ensure that behavioural targeting tools are secured against abuse.

Disclaimer: All links/image posted are on third party websites. Copyrights as applicable.

Tags : Marketing, Social Media, Technology | 1 comment »

Twitter is the Morse Code of this war

Posted by Arshya on Friday Jul 15, 2011

We like our space, demand our ‘me time’ and are proud that we mind our own business – or do we?

For all those who remember years before social networks, did you ever know which restaurant Joe Blogs ‘checked-into’ and what his colleague looks like during the drunken night-out while you have access to zoom into his pictures enough to see his tiny new pimple at the age of 40.

The point I am making is pretty obvious – as much as we respect and demand our space, we LOVE other’s information.

Who hasn’t gotten bored and spent five minutes “checking out” their friend’s photos or commenting on status updates. We are hit with information on people’s happiness, misery, holidays and emotions. It’s great, but let’s face it, we WANT to be more connected.

Now, why am I writing about this? So we play this ‘space-info’ game. What’s the big deal?

This thought struck me while watching a documentary on World War 1 the other day. “Morse code is like twitter” they said. What an utterly beautiful comparison! World War 1 demanded information to be brought as soon as possible, it was needed to shrink the world and that’s when Samuel Morse impressed president Lincoln with his special invention that made information so quick and so easy that it literally helped strategize war tactics. This invention of war, not limited to 140 characters but definitely limited to dots & dashes, created a future that demanded ‘Quick Info’.

Isn’t this exactly what social networks are doing? As much as we want our space, we are increasingly closer and closer to each other. But why? This time is it for the war of Egypt, Libya, recession or business? What is this strange, almost compulsive, need to have information on-the-go.

I think it’s because we really, deep down, want a smaller radius for our circle of space. We want to be connected and want people to see us like we want to be seen – with a cool photo, a funky bio and a kick-ass number of ‘likes’ on our status messages. This is a war of for un-space.

Disclaimer: All links/image posted are on third party websites. Copyrights as applicable.


Tags : , , , Marketing, Social Media | 5 comments »

Social media is a cultural phenomenon, second in influence perhaps only to the internet itself on our lifestyle. Why should companies care? Consider this – it took the radio 38 years, the television 13 years, the internet 4 years, and facebook 3 years – to reach an audience of 50 million. 3 years later, facebook has over 500 million users! The sheer volume of social media content and interactions is growing exponentially, across the world.

It begs the question – Should I be doing something about this in my company? The short answer is “I’d be damned not to”. The real questions however are – ‘what, why, when, and how’, for which there are no easy answers.

In this series of blogs, I’m going to try to put things in a simple way – think of it as a ‘101 on social media for businesses’. There’s a lot going on in the social media sphere – be that online gaming, networking, dating, etc. Unfortunately :) , I’m not going to talk about any of that. I’m going to strictly talk about what is relevant for companies and businesses.

First, let’s start by looking at what business functions, departments is social media relevant to in your company. The main one are:
• Marketing
• Sales
• Customer Service
• Public Relations, Corporate Communications
• HR
• Other departments, as it relates to internal and external use

Who all does it touch/influence in your company?
• Customers
• Employees
• Shareholders
• Partners
• Suppliers

It takes a few minutes to reaffirm the point I made earlier – “I’d be damned not to do anything about this in my company”.

Assuming we are past that hurdle, let’s take a look at various social media sites and channels at your disposal. This list is not meant to be comprehensive, but it’s fairly representative of the variety of social media channels out there:
• Facebook
• Twitter
• YouTube
• Google+, the latest entrant
• Myspace
• LinkedIn
• Blogger, WordPress, and similar blogging platforms
• Wikis
• Photo sharing platforms
• Branded internal customer forums and communities
• External customer forums and communities
• and many more…

At this point, I’ve probably raised a number of questions:
• What social media strategy is right for my company/organization/department?
• What social media channels are relevant for my company/organization/department?
• Who else in my company should I be talking to, or collaborating with, over this?
• What are other companies in my industry doing, about social media?
• What social media products and tools are out there?
• How much will it cost? Is there a business case to be made?
• What are the risks of not doing this right, or not doing anything at all? What should be my risk mitigation strategy?
• and many more…

Over my next few Blogs, I’ll be touching on a number of these issues, which I hope will offer some good perspectives and tips on social media strategies for your business.

Tags : , , , , Marketing, Social Media, Technology | 1 comment »

Part 1 of online privacy musings

Posted by jonathan on Wednesday Jul 13, 2011
Google has put paid to the idea that any free provider of anything won’t follow you about and snoop on you, so far only to sell you “stuff”, as well as to sell your data on as a statistic to everyone under the sun.
Now Yahoo! are under fire for stating they will do the same (as a side note they have the gall to suggest that it is your responsibility to let your correspondents know that “this conversation may be recorded for training and quality purposes” much like every conversation with service providers you have had since tape recorders were invented).What is surprising to me is that this is news-worthy. In a recent privacy move under EU law, websites are obliged to give people the choice whether or not to be tracked. You know the sort – when you come back to $your_favourite_shopping_site you get suggestions and it tells you what you have looked at. Amazon lets you know that 52% of the people looking at this camera ended up getting a different camera. Yup, any company with an online presence will have a tool like Google Analytics (or many more much more complex holistic online marketing tools) that lets them know who has visited their site, what they’ve looked at, where they came from and where they went. It helps web designers “story board” your experience on their sites and make popular information readily available for you. If you have registered to get free access to certain information, these tools can then use this information to let every other site owner that uses them who you are including, potentially, any further information – If you have not checked/unchecked the appropriate boxes. I wonder how many times I have personally forgotten to use this privacy functionality, let alone other people who are not total saddos like myself and don’t think about it all the time. 

I guess the question I have asked myself today, and I’m no closer to the answer than I ever was, how do I protect my privacy? Some people use multiple identities, some use privacy tools, most simply don’t know. Another question, is whether it matters? Well, much like the only thing distinguishing White Hat hackers from others is their morality, I don’t honestly mind that Amazon knows that I like checking out cameras, speakers and Aqua’s latest album (it’s for a joke present, honest!) and even sharing my bluetooth headset fascination with bluetooth headset manufacturers across the globe. At what point would I mind? Well, if I was in a totalitarian regime I guess I’d work a hell of a lot harder and have multiple online identities, to the point of maybe using the Tor network or other similar anonymising tools to hide who I am and disseminate information. What is important is transparency: Tell me that you want to monitor what I do and look at in order to optimise my browsing experience, make sure that your security is set up correctly (LulzSec has pointed out how crappy security is out there, but that’s a blog post for another time…) and I won’t mind that you track me in your shop.

I guess I’m pretty happy to live in a fairly liberal society where I’m unlikely to disappear for expressing my opinion. I don’t enjoy that I am seen as a statistic for gigantic corporations that utterly annihilate any chance for a small-time business to succeed (lets see you open an independent book shop!), but that’s a blog post for another time.

PS: Protip of the day – Update your favourite browser today, look about in the preferences for something about telling websites that you do not wish to be tracked, if any of these issues affect you.

firefox privacy settings

how to do it properly

Disclaimer: All links/image posted are on third party websites. Copyrights as applicable.


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