Apps beat tasks, but not taste

Smartphone apps – mainly free ones, bless them – continue to change my everyday routines, enhancing once mundane duties into short, fun tasks.

For instance, I can find and launch apps to change channel on my TV and adjust my stereo quicker than I can locate the remotes needed to do both.

I use an app to record wine labels and tag how enjoyable they were much more easily than I can recall them.

And with nifty little Instagram I can enhance photos and share them much quicker than I could ever launch Photoshop and email pictures of my coffee to a bunch of strangers.

But I am running out of worthwhile things to share. And I am asking myself more and more, why are we all sharing photos of our coffees? Sure you might be excited by the smell and the unique design doodle in the latte froth, but all we see is a coffee. Like a meal, it’s a multi-sensory experience, not a visible moment. You’ve dumbed it down and crowded my feed – pardon the pun.

An occasional, extraordinary meal, sure… Tell me all about it so I might cook it or visit that restaurant. But snack food? A good espresso?

Then comes new app EVERNOTE FOOD. (link: http://blog.evernote.com/2012/06/07/everyone-to-the-table-evernote-food-for-android-has-arrived/)

“With Evernote Food we’ve created an absolutely beautiful way to preserve every dish, every table, and every bite you’ve ever had.”

Now you can capture the time, location, menu and photos of your favourite culinary experiences.

This app will even link your meal with other items you have saved in generally awesome notebook app, Evernote.

(It’s free and seriously good. Get it.)

“For example, if you used Evernote Hello at a lunch meeting, the faces of the attendees may be associated with the Meal.”

What a hideous thought.

And as you will find if you put all this effort in with Evernote Food, your meals are now shareable. So not only can you record every meal in detail, the menu, service, location and attendees, you can also tell everyone who wasn’t there!

Here’s an idea. Don’t.

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Best Questions asked of Mr Abbott on #AskTony

When Tony Abbott made himself available via Twitter this afternoon to answer questions, the social network let loose like a classroom left alone with a casual teacher.

That’s not to say it wasn’t enjoyable but real questions were few and far between.

I, for one, support the idea of such real accessibility. Let’s hope we see more of it from our politicians – because as long as it’s a rarity, it’s only good for entertainment value….

@kinnasurprise “What is love?” #asktony

@BiancaSteman why do you have to be so mean #asktony

@GeorgeBludger: does my black hole look big in this? #asktony

@benpobjie: Why so grumpy, Grumpybum? #askTony

@HelenRazer: Have You Ever Seen The Rain? #asktony

@albericie: When will you accept our invitation to do an interview on #lateline? #asktony

@Chriswhitewrite How many roads must a man walk down? @TonyAbbottMHR #AskTony

@Chrys_Stevenson Are you a folder or a scruncher?#toiletpaperquestion #asktony

@Gwillotine: #asktony How’s Malcom?

@ana_au_: Do you really want to hurt me? #asktony

@AndyofSuburbia Butter or Margarine? #asktony

@maevegobash: Which douchebag staffer told you that doing an #AskTony thing on twitter would make you seem hip and approachable?

@RupertMurdochPRHow @TonyAbbottMHR is it possible for Australia to have the “worst prime minister ever” and yet you are less popular than her? #AskTony

And this piece of platinum Twitter as Mr Abbott signed off…
@RobJamesBoN My planet needs me. RT @TonyAbbottMHR: Sorry. I have to go now but thanks to everyone who responded #asktony

Commbank says ‘A Man Is Not a Financial Plan’, but…

Blog.Commbank is a company blog by the Commonwealth Bank. And good on them for trying to make finance a bit more palatable.

While looking around, I was a bit surprised to see a post titled A man is not a financial plan…

Sharing

But I was a bit more surprised than when I clicked back to their homepage and saw who writes all their blogs…

All men…

Wo, man.

This is on the blog’s homepage. So, they’re not trying to hide it.

Getting a woman on staff could be a good plan

Also to the CommBank’s credit, they respond to comments left on their blog posts. Like the response to the woman complaining the above post about relying on men was patronising to women. Their response says, “This is actually a true story, based on the real life experience of a woman who should have known better…”

For a blog that seems to be targeting women (other posts include High tea With Maggie Beer, and Know an Incredible Business Woman? [sic]) they should probably know better.

Addendum

When you click ‘See all‘ just below the pictures of seven male authors, it reveals two women are in the full list of 13 employees asked to write blogs. So there’ s that.

Filtering, favourites, lists and real clout on social media

Filtering

Social networks need filtering. If this issue is not sorted soon, places like Twitter, Facebook and Pinterest could eventually become ghost-towns. (It could happen. Do you really think you’ll be posting this often in the same places in five or ten years?)

Imagine if 80% of posts in your feed were the gold you want to respond to, the ones you’ll laugh at, the posts you actually want to read. Of course, we still need at least 20% to be slightly irrelevant so distract/potentially inspire us.

That’s the well-filtered world we could be living in now, if we could just figure out who to follow, who to prioritise and how to manage it all.

Currently, networks like Facebook present us with more options than a food court.

Friends, Photos, Events, Apps, Lists, Subscriptions, Groups, Pages and soon Timeline Advertisements… It’s an untameable beast.

We require simple, effective filtering to
lessen the burden of just maintaining what was once so enjoyable to engage with.

Clout

To this end, the idea of measuring clout – to show who are the most influential people on a social network – could be endlessly useful.

I’ve seen many stories about why Klout.com is feted as a measure of social capital. And it does seem a vaguely accurate marker – however easily manipulated.

But I have read other claims it’s based on a misnomer. After all, say the critics, “how do you define influence?”

Here’s how… Lists. Twitter Lists.

Lists

Do you add anyone to your Twitter lists who you don’t respect? It takes longer than to follow someone, and you only look at it for a specific purpose, not while window-shopping on your general twitter feed.

I am on about 60 people’s lists, because I have little influence. (It’s ok. I don’t feel bad.)

Barack Obama is listed 170,271 times. And rightly so.

Secondary to how many times you are listed, is who has you listed. Do they have many followers? Are they listed many times? This could also form a way for Twitter to select top posts. Currently, that algorithm seems hooked on a user’s number of retweets and follower numbers.

Mashable says that there’s a need to quantify someone’s ‘reach, relevance and resonance’ to measure their social influence accurately. (Read more of this dubious claim.) However, influence is dependent on subjective reasons too, like likeability – for example, Barack Obama is of much less influence to you if you are a Republican, or if you live in Iceland.

Favourites

Just a quick note on this much ignored feature of Twitter. I love them as a bookmark, as something to retweet or reply to later… They have many uses. But… they’re UNPROTECTED.

I can look at your favourites, you can look at mine. This astounds me. Can you see my browser bookmarks? No. Yet, without even logging into Twitter , I can see that;

  • Demi Moore has added to her favourites a string of tweets about cheating and moving on from mistakes
  • TV Newsreader Pete Overton likes to add a favourite star to compliments of himself (admittedly, something many of us probably do).
  • PM Julia Gillard used to save criticisms of her staff
  • Singer Rihanna favourites 140-character profane mantras (to turn into songs?)
  • Broadcaster Mark Colvin (@Colvinius) stars what are probably research for future stories
  • Model and TV personality Sarah Murdoch has two favourites – and one is just creepy.
  • ABC Managing Director Mark Scott saves stories related to the changing face of journalism
  • Opposition Leader Tony Abbott has saved just one tweet to his favourites – and it is one of his own. “@ozleaks Didn’t see the programme but, yes, humans have evolved”

That awkward moment when Social Media appears on TV

If the addition of social media to a broadcast is not intended as a distraction to the main game, why is that so often the outcome?

This is something I have wondered as I look at Australia’s attempts and those by networks around the world.

I thought it was self-evident that viewer opinions, when integrated into a television programme, are there to enhance the primary content. But perhaps the pendulum has already swung too far.

Why is it that many shows that have tried out social media on-air are not using innovative techniques, not conjuring up their own clever use adaption of this new community, but instead throw up some clunky graphics or even use the frustrating ‘stop/read a tweet/continue with show’ method.

Exactly who benefits from that?

Poor implementation risks offending both sides. It shows those on social networks that you don’t understand how the stream flows relentlessly on, while those who’ve never signed up for Facebook or Twitter are peeved that their show has new awkward, trendy interruptions.

Good implementation can keep viewers hooked and boost ratings – The Voice in the US is seeing a great response from their use hosts and judges live-tweeting and responding personally to viewers.

One reason TV shows should and are trying to bring social media into the foreground is fear. It’s the fear of any switched on executive producer that the social media stream will become more entertaining than the show itself. People will watch their second screen (mobile devices) more than their first (TV).

Certainly, there’s no better influence for you to switch channels than if all your friends and those you follow are tweeting about #TheVoice.

Hence, broadcasters all over the world are battling with how to bring the social stream into the live TV event. They need to show viewers they are listening to their views, but some integrations of Twitter, especially, are wearing very thin.

I like the UFC‘s approach – use social media to build up hype for the event a week out. Have your main talent interacting with viewers on various platforms throughout the day and then following the event. They understand that owning the conversation is more about taking people in behind the wall of the TV screen than it is the chance to display a highlight reel of the sharpest or fastest tweeters.

Sadly, I think Australia’s one-time leader in this area is now dragging the chain.

QandA is making a mockery of what has become known as Social TV. The show, which can still command large audiences, has long held the torch for social media integration in our country.

Several programs still limit their social network integration to a back-announce of their hashtag as the show ends. (Bit late guys!)

(Lateline is the main offender there, but, I should say, I like the show’s latest idea to give a political or topical personality the reigns as ‘Guest Tweeter’. If you’re going to tell people to “join the conversation”, it makes sense to lead it. This limits carping and provides a loose thread people can join if they wish. If not, your hashtag is just an invitation for everyone to ‘Shout! Now!’)

But back to our beloved QandA.

Each week, an increasingly silly list of tweets are flipped up on the screen.

These days, it’s hard to spot any comment that adds to the discussion. Intelligent questions? Fact-checking? It’s more a procession of punch-lines that would never be appropriate to be read out loud on the show.

It’s more a ticker of sniping, witty retorts and clever word plays that often denigrate a guest. Cardinal Pell was a good example. As was John Howard…

It’s a technique that’s not showing the best side of Twitter, nor is it helping boost engagement for the audience watching at home.

Viewers, as a result, must now tolerate these tweets interrupting the actual debate, on top of Tony Jones’s regular interruptions of panelists (something he’s long been known for). Who benefits? No one but the wise guys who – no doubt – congratulate each other on their televised tweets the next day over the ad agency water cooler.

Imagine the real-life equivalent; You’re in a pub trying to enjoy the footy but you can’t hear the commentary because all the biggest smart-arses in the room have lined up to whisper their witty interjections in your ear.

Tweets that flash up and then disappear only adds to the distraction. (It’s very hard not to look at them. I tried hard and only skipped two. Tell me how you go.)

How about a ticker that continues scrolling in the bottom third – that way I can dip-in if I wish?

But how about some more creative uses of social media?

Get your hosts to tweet LIVE on air and ask for responses.

Give characters in a drama series real-life accounts, updated mid-week, to add to the storyline – and intrigue. (Packed to the Rafters recently started a character blogging – an interesting move.)

Contests can be easily managed via social media. Tweet your trivia answer to this hashtag… Find and LIKE our hidden Facebook page for the next clue… Start a Pinterest and name a Board after our show (Microsoft and Harrods have each tried something similar)

Philosopher Alain de Botton said that the main challenge of smartphones is for us to be more interesting than they are – to stop people’s eyes drifting back to their tiny screen.

The same goes for TV.

There are many ways we can take this Australia. Let’s not leave it as it is. Please?

Pretty soon, my second screen will be much more interesting than my first.

Why bosses should use social media to earn your trust

I have just been reading an article that suggests everyone’s boss should be on social media. If your manager is not using social media, the report suggests that you’ll trust them less and can’t buy anything from their brand (that is, your employer).

This strikes me as a very intriguing idea because my bosses have always used social media since the concept emerged. But I am around people elsewhere in my life who are yet to understand it, try it, or have their own workplace embrace social media.

Many bosses still consider social media something for early adopters, gen-y or simply a time-waster.

Of course, if you don’t use social media, you won’t respect a leader more because they do. However, to the extent that social media is a valuable tool and a major player in reputation management these days, an organisation which includes communication and isn’t engaging with social media is opening up numerous areas for it to unravel.

The head of the ABC, Mark Scott, is an excellent example of a leader who shows how it’s done. Anyone employed at the ABC can see from Mark’s tweets that it’s safe to share comments, joke, converse with all number of people… within reason.

Why is it that in any new job you are given an e-mail address expected to use it yet no employer is, as far as I know, asking people to use a Twitter account or encouraged to post publicly via their Facebook URL.

It’s not too early if you work at a design company to start asking employees to join Pinterest or if you’re in business to sign up for a Linked In account.

If your employees are happy, why would you be concerned about offering the public an extra point of contact for your organisation. We all know that social media is a perfect way to extend the reach of your publicity strategy and employees are probably your greatest supporters when it comes to sharing positive messages about your brand products or service.

As for trusting your boss more because he or she uses social media; I think that most of us acknowledge that transparency works and builds relationships. Your family, friends and employees know this and acknowledge it by their honesty online – so why should management be any different?

Related links

Mediafunnel: How to persuade your boss to use social media
Linked In: Social media – Trust is everything

AFR: Business commits to social despite false starts

Original BrandFOG report

Why I don’t bother with Tweetdeck

I cannot fathom what is going on at Twitter.

Millions of dollars flowing their way, adulation, sponsorships and the chance to recruit masters of user interface design and HTML5.

Yet the app they bought, Tweetdeck, is floundering terribly.

In my job, I train TV staff and recommend to a range of journalists and TV producers on what apps they hsould use for navigating Twitter.

My first comments are;

1) Don’t use the Twitter website if you can help it.

2) Don’t download the latest version of Tweetdeck.

Yet, as a social media manager, I have no great option with which to use Twitter on a PC desktop machine.

Yes, Hootsuite.com is getting ne by – and saves anyone who can’t install an app on their work PC – but my point is that Twitter, by purchasing Tweetdeck, was supposed to improve it into the killer app it should be. Instead it is has faltered at nearly every turn.

Oh how I despise it. Let me count the ways…

1) I can’t trust the schedule function, It regularly posts tweets immediately, not at prescribed times.

2) I cannot add someone to a list (this was available in a previous version)

3) I must add an entire column/feed of an user in order to access an individual tweet’s details.

4) The black background is not everyone’s cup of tea. It was cool for a while but now the contrast makes me squint and my OHS advisor agrees. So there.

5) The Chrome version fails to link to it’s own extension in the left-click option ‘Share this via Tweetdeck’

6) I cannot remove some accounts I no longer use. They reappear every time I reopen the app in some kind of mystical syncing debacle I am not privy to.

7) I cannot choose from which account I am favouriting a tweet or following a user.

8) The iPhone app has always been intolerable and the latest iteration does little to help it comete with stable, speedy options like @tweetbot

9) All these people agree with me

10) No threaded conversations? Or, only when it wants to show them. Pfft

11) I’m given a set number of columns or to get to the adjacent column I have to switch to a new three? No.

12) Adobe Air. It’s a daft idea to think I should keep approving updates to a secondary program I don’t really need. And its adds substantially to Tweetdeck’s reputation as a ‘memory hog’ slowing down your whole computer.

But like in the Bible and in all good Harry Potter books, there is hope….

You can download the old Tweetdeck!

Or, as I mentioned, try Hootsuite, a web-based version that actually does a lot more – perhaps too much – and it does it efficiently. There are many reasons to switch, but as I tell staff who are new to Twitter, don’t even try Tweetdeck out to begin with.

Is it salvageable? Of course. If they stripped it back to what it could do well to begin with – multiple feeds that are searchable – and add on features that other top apps now include, Tweetdeck could bounce back.

Is this likely? I don’t think so. Have you seen the latest range of changes Twitter brought to its own website? Connect/Discover/Whatever…

Gripes of wrath – My first look at The Global Mail

I was up late so I switched on the new Australian bastion of Independent Journalism, The Global Mail (TGM).

The website only went live last night but after twenty minutes or so I felt I had a good enough grasp of their plans to share my thoughts. And all my thoughts were about sharing. Because that’s what we do.

During the next day, today, I have seen some nastier reviews of TGM. This kind of spontaneous chatter, the fleeting engagement that social media elevates into conversation is still worthwhile and I am confident the editors won’t see the negatives as carping but as people wanting to be proud of a standout moment in our media culture, to make a good thing great.

My email to the editor went something like this.

Hello,
Thanks for launching your new venture – it has already kept me up past midnight so that can’t be a bad thing.

Having read a few articles, each of which I appreciated, I found myself wanting more, more links to topics raised, more options for looking at the source material and a chance to delve further into the life of the author. Sadly, none of these options are present on your site. My hopes were that TGM would bring a fresh new look to independent storytelling – which it does, I am enjoying the interface and typesetting – but also that it would nail the sharing mentality that is now spearheaded by social media. As for me and my generation, this is how we consume media; it is second nature to ping our friends as we read a story, to tweet a thought, to grab a quote (preferably out of context) or to drag a photo to show our followers.

I hope that your site is already aware of these trends and plans to roll out such solutions in coming weeks. It is, after all, our first night together and I realise it’s unfair expecting everything to be just right.

So, how about it? How about a Google+ button, hyperlinked issues within stories, article tags and photos that link to more photos from that event or photographer. Right now TGM feels to me like a broadsheet copied onto a website.

I look forward to seeing where else you take it – and where I can take it.

Cheers, Luke.

ARIAs cement their irrelevance by ignoring social media

Last night’s entire event played out like one of those prolonged montages – a chance to pay our respects and remember the late Australian Music industry.

The Arias are traditionally lame. It’s just the Logies with more tattoos, isn’t it?

I was especially appalled by its use as a vehicle for music acts with new albums coming out. I used to have a crush on Missy Higgins, but she has been completely off the musical radar for about four years so her appearance was largely based on nostalgia and because she has a new album pending. The nostalgia continued with extended Billy Thorpe tributes, The Wiggles reaching the Hall of Fame, and then it got truly bizarre when Delta serenaded every music artist who has ever died – right back to Dame Joan Sutherland!

WHAT WAS THAT?

Dame Joan Sutherland - a posterchild for the forward-thinking ARIAs

Twitter had no presence on the night, and so, with the broadcast failing to lead the conversation, the #Arias feed became an entertaining sideline of barbs and witticisms. It becomes a real problem when tweets taking the piss are undeniably more entertaining than the actual on-air event.

The ARIAs facebook page also failed to make a real dent. It has just 17,000 fans and most comments (85) came for a pic of Altiyan Childs.

How unsurprising that the producers didn’t care about social media. The night has always been a few years behind whatever is cool.

The Telegraph painted an even uglier picture back in October, saying

“The dwindling ARIAs are a microcosm of Australian music as a whole. The glitter has gone. Once, the charismatic superstar power of a key group of stellar artists kept the whole industry revolving – but today, there is a distinct staleness at the top of the charts and a general malaise across the genres, from pop to hip-hop.” Read more…

In the same article, Sarah ‘Superjesus’ McLeod says

“We are definitely in a pickle, it sucks being a musician right now.”

Indeed, the Arias’ national irrelevance is confirmed each year in the following day’s ratings report.

@MJGAL: #ARIAs ratings are in. 369,000 tuned in. (almost half last years audience)

The industry is in a different kind of pickle. Record sales continue to plummet. The labels keep dumping staff…

So, where did it all go wrong?

    • Was it the moment Guy Sebastian shaved his afro? (Does anyone like his head better how it is now?)
    • Was it the removal of the A4-size ARIA charts from record store counters? (What gives? No one starts up iTunes just to check the charts, guys.)
    • Was it the astronomic rise of concert ticket prices thanks to a few large promoters running an oligopoly? (I paid $100 for U2 to bring me a spaceship. I shouldn’t pay that for Roxette at the Entertainment Centre.)
    • Was it the disappearance of our most lovable music presenter, Jabba, from Channel V? (It’s not too late to go back, Jabba.)
    • Was it Australian Idol? (You can’t beat the emptiness of realising all those singers you thought would make it are now back on the scrapheap… )

Anyone have any other ideas?

Instagram – Brands and big names worth following

Instagram – the only social network which rewards creativity with more followers – is my latest iPhone app addiction and may soon become essential for news junkies.

Where else could you get a photographic insight into presidential debate just minutes before it went LIVE to air.

Twitter, you say? Ah, but Instagram makes the photos the medium, not the caption, and you can search by tags, places or even GPS.

This enables me to instantly see who else and what else is being posted at a certain location, be in the Vatican City as the pope appears, an earthquake in Indonesia or at a protest in Time Square. Of course, it works locally too as more people join up and tag posts with your favourite cafe, park or club.

As I write this, #OccupyWallStreet has 6612 photos under that tag. Even #occupysydney has 130 (not including those added by me)

It’s also becoming a nice way to tap into the US presidential campaign.

Check out what @CNNSITROOM (Wolf Blitzer’s weekly political – The Situation Room forum on CNN) posted this morning….

There is quality content here, and the feed keeps getting bigger, especially from US TV networks hitching a ride on this new photo-sharing app.

@TodayShow is leading the way starting hashtags for each musical act to join their concert series.

@Starbucks is offering deals if you follow their posted pics.

And despite a few big-name signups, Instagram is still largely under the radar.

Perhaps it’s because the media hasn’t been mentioning it on air. There have been no security breaches, and no epic milestones of users signed up (although it is pushing 7million users – not bad for just 4 employees) and that’d always a good time to join.

You know, before it was popular.

Part of the app’s appeal is that it makes real people the most popular when their skill has wide appeal. Meet the Top 15 Photographers – most of whom are relative nobodies until Instagram.

That said, here are a few familiar names and faces you will know if you sign up…

News
@nbcnews
@npr
@abcworldnews
@decision2012
@Time_magazine
@washingtonpost

Real Time Reporting
@cnnireiport
@breakingnews (AWOL? just a handful of posts)
@CNNPR

TV Shows
@sunriseon7 (of course)
@todayshow (NBC)
@GoodMorningAmerica
@MTV
@NatGeo
@MeetThePress
@BackStory

Tech news/views
@LeoLaporte
@Mashable
@Zuck (Mark Zuckerberg – only 3 photos)
@Jack – creator of Twitter Jack Dorsey
@evanwilliams – entrepreneur behind blogger & twitter
@bizstone – co-founder of twitter

Other Brands
@wikileaks
@YouTube
@RedBull
@Starbucks
@YouTube
@WeatherChannel
@BillboardDotCom
@generalElectric
@SXSW
@NASAgoddard
@VH1
@Burberry
@Gucci

Screen-shot-2011-05-16-at-21.15.22.png

Aussies
@maddogsullo – Eamon Sullivan
@adamboland

Celebs
@SnoopDogg
@jamieoliver
@TonyHawk
@justinbieber
@selenagomez

me tweeting

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