When Your Dev is the Centre of Your Universe

The NORAD of ABC in Austin

I like to think that when I ran a digital agency that my team loved me. I like to think that my demands were, for the most part, not unreasonable. Or that my scoping and project planning came close enough to achievable. But I also know that my expectations would sometimes be unreasonable. Or that “going above and beyond” really did mean going to the CEO’s house.

The thing is, marketing without IT is almost impossible now. Imagine if you had to revert to faxes (what are they?). Or hand drawn mock-ups. Or “camera ready art”.

This is why marketers and technical teams need to work on better relations. We need better ways to communicate. And even just respect some professional boundaries.

Will it happen? It can. And it needs to. Because your dev is the centre of your universe.

Don’t Tweet at Me in that Tone of Voice


Setting tone of voice in social media is a challenge. How do you balance the assertiveness and authority with a sense of engagement and approachability? How do you strike a tone that delights your customers and attracts new prospects? And what is that “distinctive” personality that can only be expressed through text and how do you create it consistently?

Tone of voice is not just a problem for social media. In a business world where communication occurs largely through the written word – in email, messaging, enterprise social networks and so on, a misplaced word or misconstrued meaning can cause much drama.

Consider the hastily worded email that you sent after a bad meeting. Or the tweets you made in response to a troll. What about the situation where you really wanted to recall an email but realised that you could not?

IBM has been experimenting with language and semantics for some time. Their Watson platform specialises in natural language processing, and with the Tone Analyzer service, you may just catch an overly aggressive email in the nick of time.

How Tone Analyzer Works

We often rely on the Myers-Briggs Type Indicator to help us profile individuals. It is still widely in use despite being largely dismissed as a scientific method – but I have always found its indicators lacking. I much prefer Sam Gosling’s OCEAN framework. It measures:

  • Openness
  • Conscientiousness
  • Extroversion
  • Agreeableness
  • Neuroticism


This framework is used by IBM to assess your social tone of voice. Watson also gives you a score on writing tone and emotional tone. You simply cut and paste your text into the field on the demo page and have Watson analyse your words. It then returns a visual assessment. This is the assessment from the first half of my last blog post. You will see, the post was:

  • 80% analytical (good for this kind of article)
  • 96% confident (I do want you to believe me)
  • 87% agreeable (please, please like and hire me).

You can also integrate this platform into your enterprise tools using the API platform. That could make for a very different form of communication within and beyond the enterprise.

But here’s a question – would you dare to run your marketing copy through this system? What would you find?

Hootsuite and the Instagram Integration You’re Still Waiting For


Instagram has been wildly successful in building an alternative and deeply connected community of users. And I say “community” for a reason. Far more than the one-to-one-to-one connection that has made Facebook so popular and adoptable, Instagram’s connection architecture provides an easy way to connect people with similar interests and passions. And it does so whether that passion lasts only an instant or a year.

And while some brands have been able to build vibrant communities around their Instagram accounts, it’s often a hit and miss affair. It’s hard to keep track of the growth of a community base, almost impossible to gather key metrics, and even the simplest publishing functionality is notably missing.

Until now.

Hootsuite has announced that Instagram will now be integrated into their social media dashboard. This means that Hootsuite users will be able to:

  • Schedule and publish Instagram content
  • Monitor and engage with conversations on Instagram
  • Create team based workflows.

With content marketing becoming an ever-more important component of marketing strategy, this new integration provides marketers with a simple and easy way to bring that content marketing strategy to life.


To get started:

  • Ensure you have the latest version of Hootsuite installed on your smartphone
  • Turn on Instagram notifications in the Hootsuite Settings
  • Start publishing.

Now, for the bad news.

While you can schedule Instagram posts, you still need to manually post to Instagram from your device. The Hootsuite integration just notifies you at the appropriate time that the post is ready to go. So, unfortunately, those wanting to seriously engage with Instagram as a brand and marketing channel will need to struggle with the lack of API integration.

This means Instagram will remain a promising but ultimately immature channel for most serious brand marketing activities. At least for now.

Selling on the Web – Landing Pages that Work


While brand websites attract the lion’s share of marketing budgets, the great, largely hidden, power of selling on the web is driven by landing pages.

How do landing pages work?

I prefer to create landing pages with a single job in mind – to help the web visitor take the next step in the buyer’s journey. That may mean:

  • I want to change our relationship so that I know who you are – a name, email address or Twitter handle will do
  • I want to help you choose my product or service – provide some useful content such as a comparison guide
  • I want you to order – you’re ready to buy and my landing page will make that easy.

This means that my landing pages will do away with unnecessary distraction. There will be:

  • Only a single call to action
  • No menus or links that will take you away
  • Laser sharp focus on delivering you value.

There are plenty of great online tools that help you quickly create landing pages, but my favourite is Instapage. And while it is a little clunky, it integrates seamlessly into WordPress (there’s a plugin), allows for A/B testing, includes analytics (plus Google Analytics) and starts at an affordable $30 / month. Oh, and you can work with existing templates to create a launch your landing page in as little as 3 minutes.

Ok, you may want to spend a bit longer on your masterpiece, but you can do it with a drag’n’drop interface – and you don’t need technical skill.

Still need more tips? Check out the infographic from Copyblogger that provides 26 tips to help improve your landing pages.

The ABCs of Landing Pages That Work [Infographic]

Like this infographic? Get landing page advice that works from Copyblogger.

How to Remember Passwords Like Sherlock Holmes


One of the greatest challenges of the internet age has nothing to do with technology and everything to do with being human. It is the act of remembering passwords.

There was a time – and yes it was a simpler time – when we really only needed to remember one or two passwords. There was a personal identification number (PIN) for our ATM cards and then a password for our email. Then along came internet banking. For all of our bank accounts. Logins for news sites. Websites. Shopping accounts. We setup profiles on sites like Kiva for charity, registered for various frequent flyer programs, free email accounts and games. On top of that are cornerstone accounts – the Apple iTunes account and your Google Account are controlled by a single ID that is linked across a variety of services – but that integration was rolled out over time.

By the time that social networks came along, we already had dozens of user IDs, a handful of email addresses and profile and accounts scattered across the web.

To make matters worse, each of these sites has its own standard for password strength. Some sites require complex passwords incorporating non-standard letters or numbers or capitalisation. Some sites require all of these. For online transactions, financial institutions require two factor authentication (but only some) – requiring two stage combinations before providing you access. This can include your standard account ID and password along with an SMS code or a picture puzzle displayed on-screen.

All of these variations have to be remembered. Or documented somewhere secure. Accordingly, our ability to remember passwords has become big business – with service and platform providers offering to help us “manage” the mess we have found ourselves in. Sure, many of our web browsers “remember” our account details for us, but what happens when you login from your phone and not your computer? What happens when you login with your home PC and not the laptop you use for work?

It doesn’t matter if someone hacks an account?!

Many people believe that it doesn’t matter if an account is hacked. For example, you could have an old email account hacked and not know it. What happens? Here are a few scenarios to consider:

  1. Your email account is quickly scanned / searched for user IDs or passwords (like account confirmations)
  2. This information is fed into the hackers computer to test out on sites across the internet. This is automated and means that hundreds of attempts / variations can be made in minutes.
  3. The process is repeated with each success – with more information gradually being built up around your profile, access etc
  4. If credit card or bank account numbers are found – then these can be quickly shared, sold on or used as currency in their own right
  5. Small charges can begin appearing on your statements without your noticing, gradually escalating in size
  6. In worst case scenarios, your accounts can have passwords changed and address details altered

There are a series of approaches that can improve your password security – and they are relatively simple to implement:

  • Create your own tiered security:
    • Tier 1: Make a list of your high risk accounts – bank accounts, email, online payments like PayPal or Amazon, social media
    • Tier 2: A list of less risky accounts where no confidential information is kept.
  • Create complex passwords for Tier 1 accounts – each account should have a UNIQUE password
  • Use password managers to store and remember your details
  • Delete the spreadsheet on your PC desktop that stores all your passwords (yes, I know you have one)
  • Reset or change passwords regularly.

Is there another way?

Fans of Benedict Cumberbatch’s Sherlock Holmes will have seen the intense visual approach that the Holmes character uses to remember complex pieces of information. Called the Mind Palace, it involves visualising a complex place in which you can “physically” store your memory. Then by embellishing the location with story, the item to be remembered is reinforced and supposedly easier to recall.

If you really want to be safe on the internet, try storing your passwords in a Mind Palace. Here’s an infographic showing how it works. Good luck!


You Are What You Endorse–Google Shared Endorsements

Google Search and Social - Shared Endorsements

Remember that old saying that “when the product is FREE, the product is YOU”? Well Google are putting their advertiser’s money where your mouth is – with shared endorsements now being incorporated into search results. This brings together two powerful web transformation engines – search and social – in the one interface.

That means that those online reviews etc that you have contributed over the years are being aggregated behind the scenes and will begin to appear in the search results that you and your friends see when using Google Search. Your friends will know it is you, because the results will show your name and photo along with the review, +1, follows or shares that you have published on the web.

As Google explains, it will look like the image below …


Over the last 12 months or so, Google has been requiring Gmail users to sign up to Google+. So even if you are not a dedicated G+ user, so long as you are signed into Gmail, your browsing habits, interests etc are being collected, analysed and tagged in preparation for this style of endorsement.

But if you are not keen to lend your personal brand, reputation or face to these businesses (and to Google), you can opt-out of Shared Endorsements here.

SuccessConnect – Where Talent and Social Collide at the SuccessFactors Conference


Passwords – One for the Money, Two for the Show


I am always going to love an Elvis quote. We don’t see enough of it in the world of business. And we should. After all, he was “The King”.

So this quick guide to unhackable passwords from McAfee and Intel caught my attention straight away.

The guide points out that you need multiple passwords:

  • One password for banking
  • A different password for email
  • Another password for social media

Unfortunately, we all have more than three needs, right?  So one idea is to add the account information into your password:

  • Facebook: your Facebook password can become my_facebook_password
  • Twitter: your Twitter password can become my_twitter_password

Or variations on that theme.


HT Lindy Asimus’ pinterest collection.

You Thought Siri Was Cool Until You Got Google Glass

Water Drop ~ Explored ~

I can remember my first bulky personal digital assistant (PDA). It was cumbersome, hard to use and ugly. Very ugly. But I loved it. It felt like a ripple in the fabric of the future.

While at university, I took notes on this PDA, scrambling to jot bullet points into the slim LED screen and save them before we moved onto the next subject. Sometimes it worked, and sometimes I lost whole lectures when the AA batteries failed. But even then I realised that there was serious value in being able to search through lecture notes on-the-fly.

And then along came the Palm Pilot. I thought the handwriting recognition was a breakthrough. As I skimmed my stylus across the plastic screen I really felt that I was experiencing another of those ripples in the fabric of the future. It was the right device at the right time – a bridge between my analog and digital worlds. But it wasn’t just a PDA, it was a phone too. And it was changing the world.

With each new innovation, the barriers between me and my device would evaporate. They became easier to use, smarter, friendlier – and dare I say it – more human. Each iteration would be less about the device and more about the experience. My experience. It was like the technology was disappearing before my eyes.

Recently, when Siri came along, we celebrated as if the world had turned on its side. Apple had somehow, again, not only innovated on top of its already innovative iPhone platform – they trumped themselves and changed our relationship with the technology. Now you didn’t even need to swipe and type, you could speak. You could ask questions.

And we all loved Siri. But, for me, Siri was a constant reminder that I was using a device. A particular device. It called out my own reliance on that device and its manufacturer – for always in the background, there was that awareness that the experience was being delivered only by Apple. In many ways, Siri wasn’t just a ripple in the fabric of the future, it was the rock that caused the splash.

But Google’s Glass project fascinates me – partly because it is literally transparent.

As you can see from this video, it’s freshly intuitive – and that’s saying something considering Google’s usually clunky interfaces. But the thing that excites me most is the way that experience – human experience – is front and centre. For decades, technology has drawn us away from the body and focused our minds on the screen. But here, we are celebrating, not the technology, but the body in action. It’s technology taking a back seat. It’s the always on Kodak moment.

And its the closest we’ve yet seen to the future.

At least until the next ripple.

Water Drop ~ Explored ~ Sergiu Bacioiu via Compfight

Waving Goodbye to Posterous

Bye Bye Posterous

Bye Bye PosterousI have long been a fan of Posterous. It was a platform that was ridiculously easy to use – and was a great introduction to social media for those who were (or remain) cautious of technology and online publishing.

But when Twitter acquired Posterous in 2012, it was only a matter of time before it was made redundant. And now we know that Posterous will be turned off on April 30, 2013. Making the announcement on the official Posterous blog, founder, Sachin Agarwal, thanked the users and supporters of Posterous and explained how to backup and download your site:

  1. Go to http://posterous.com/#backup.
  2. Click to request a backup of your Space by clicking “Request Backup” next to your Space name.
  3. When your backup is ready, you’ll receive an email.
  4. Return to http://posterous.com/#backup to download a .zip file.

I’ve started the process of moving the various Posterous sites that I have created. I will probably move them to a WordPress site of some kind – when I have the time … but I do so a little sadly.

Posterous’ ease-of-use was a phenomenal wake-up call to the rest of the web world. It will be a shame to see it disappear. Let’s hope the Posterous focus on simplicity impacts the Twitter product roadmap. After all, we don’t need more features, we need a better experience in our use of technology. And for my money, simplicity it the key.