blellow – twitter for freelancers

Just signed up to blellow today. I saw it on techcrunch a few months ago, but I’ve been procrastinating hard all day and decided to do this instead of what I was meant to do!

blellow looks interesting – like twitter meets yammer. users are organised into groups like for joomla, ruby on rails, accounting & finance, entrepreneurs, etc…

So people with common interests or need help with a certain topic can speak to each other. I’ve joined a couple of groups, so will let you know how that progresses. In the meantime, check out the video below:

btw i couldn’t find anyone from Australia on it. if you are us, holla!

I’m out like blellow,

Matt Ho

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Will the real Stephen Conroy please stand up?

I came across the article today – its pretty funny.

Twitter impersonations are a problem on Twitter, but at least this one was obvious and very witty. It’s a fake twitter account of Stephen Conroy, Communications Minister.

Read about it here and on mumbrella.

Fake Stephen Conroy = Leslie Nassar

I’m out like the fake Stephen Conroy,

Matthew Ho.

Ad:tech – Day 2 by pictures

I visited ad:tech sydney again on day 2 (Wednesday, 11 March 2009). This time I arrived later in the afternoon at 2.30pm. 

I was there to help out with the exhibit. I was at the Next Digital stand from 2.30 – 4.30pm. I also took a bunch of pics and posted them on Flickr and below as well.

It’s interesting being an exhibitor as opposed to a visitor walking around on Day 1. Some people walk up to you just to chat and find out what it is about, others have an interest or something they want to pitch at us. I think the most important thing is to be nice and have a casual chat. Not everyone is interested in hearing the marketing spiel and you have to be ready for all types of questions.

There’s a lot of people at ad:tech that are very tech savvy, and you have others there for the 1st time who looked like they just walked off the street. Overall though, it seemed pretty quite and there was not a lot of people walking around. It look like ad:tech was winding down on Wednesday afternoon.

Next year, I’d like to go to some more of the seminars, possibly even the paid ones. I hear the chatter on twitter from following the hashtags (#atsyd, #atsyd1, etc…) and there seems to be a lot going on.

When I look back, I realise that I have progressed in this industry and it is a humbling experience that a year ago, I wasn’t even working in digital. Now, I had the priviliege and the opportunity to talk to people at ad:tech as an exhibitor about online marketing regarding email marketing, analytics, etc… They say that 1 year in online is equivalent to 7 dog years. I believe that’s so true. Online just moves so fast, new things are emerging all the time. As I’ve heard people say, it may be changing but the fundamentals haven’t changed.

Overall, ad:tech was very good for checking out some new things. One of the most important things I was exposed to was affiliate marketing and traffic marketing, and different companies in this area. These aspects about online marketing I would never had learnt about sitting at my desk at work.

I’m out like ad:tech,

Matthew Ho.

Ad:Tech Sydney – First Day Impressions: talking to myspace.com, netpartners, post click, girls.com.au

adtech_sydney

Ad:tech started in Sydney today. It’s a 2 day expo, with similar events held in San Francisco, Paris, London, Chicago, New York, Singapore. It’s basically for online marketing companies, for those involved in advertising technology. The official line is:

“ad:tech is an interactive advertising and technology conference and exhibition. Worldwide shows blend keynote speakers, topic driven panels and workshops to provide attendees with the tools and techniques they need to compete in a changing world”

I arrived there around lunch time.  I had my express check in pass (thanks ad:tech!), so got buzzed in pretty quick. The first stand lo and behold was Next Digital/Commquest! Which is my company – more on this later.

I was in a rush because I was supposed to go to the Yahoo search masterclass. In the corner of my eye, I saw a guy from my media buying class who’s a dedicated search guy. However, when I got there, the seminar was over. Disappointed, I trudged back and went to the Yahoo search stand and asked them what it was about. I also asked them for notes of the presentation and hopefully they can email it to me. Hit me up if you would like a copy of the notes.

Overall, ad:tech didn’t actually look that full. Maybe its because I expected it be at full capacity. Or perhaps, there were seminars going on. There’s paid seminars, with 3 different tracks but to go to them you need to have a conference pass which costs $1k. I’m just going to the free stuff =) You can check out the different stands, talk to people, and listen to the free seminars. It reminds me of a big careers fair!

Next Digital has got prime position, near the front door and we’ve decked it out in a hospital theme with hospital bed, flasks of weird liquids, IV drip, and doctors walking around with stethoscopes. The theme its “Digital Health Check”, and we’re offering free audits of digital marketing strategy, websites, etc.. We are taking appointments and doing followups. Kate Kendall, editor of marketing mag called it  best stand at expo. Have a look here:

nd-stand-ad-tech

Next Digital was giving a talk after the Yahoo one, so I briefly saw my director Mark Edwards, speaking about digital strategy.  Its a small seated area with about 30 seats and people were standing in the back, 3 rows deep! He had some really good content, however the sound quality was quite poor.The mic and the speakers weren’t loud enough. For the guys standing in the back like me, you couldn’t hear him clearly. As the stands are right next to auditorium area,  there’s so much background noise. It’s a shame and it something the organiser’s will have to look at for next year. Perhaps move the speaking stage a little bit further into a quieter area and turn up the mics!!!!!!!!

I spoke to a couple of interesting people /companies at the stands. Vincent and I walked around and spoke to the following stands. I’ve provided a short commentary on each one:

Fox Interactive 

Websites : Myspace.com, Rottentomatoes.com (movie review site), ign.com (similar to gamespot.com), Askmen.com.

We were talking to Sharon May-Tanous, Group Sales Manager, and she showed us a new feature on myspace.com. There’s this function called “Myspace recharge” where u can recharge your phone by buying credits / topups. Very cool. I’ve always advocated that social networks should do more in the transactional & ecommerce space, given that we spend so much time on there. According to Nielsen research, time spent on social networking has overtaken personal email. Myspace are also releasing a new visa credit card as well, targeted towards younger people. Its going to work like a prepaid debit card. It will be an interesting move for them.

They had a very cool stand with lots of monitors. If you look at the above sites I’ve listed in the heading and click through, you’ll realise that their are Australian versions with localised content. That’s something that they are trying to push, localisation. Rottentomatoes.com is mostly made up of American movies and reviews, so its good a move to have some Aussie content in there too. 

I told her I didn’t use Myspace anymore and she got a bit grouchy LOL. I’ll stick with Facebook, but I’ll check Myspace.com for music related stuff. FYI, I’m name dropping here, but I met Brett Brewer, one of the co-founders of Myspace at the Digital Tipping Point a few weeks ago. He’s sold off myspace to Rupert Murdoch and is now CEO of a social networking advertising company called AdKnowledge. He’s a very cool guy, down to earth, and I guess I’ll have to hit him up on myspace?  

Netpartners – Content network advertising / traffic broking

This area is new to me. I’m still new to search marketing and online advertising, but I understand the basics like clicks, CPM, CPA, conversions and al that jargon. But there’s this whole new area regarding content network / affiliate marketing, etc.. It’s to do with advertising on 3rd party sites, publishers, etc… I spoke to Alan Wan, Affiliate Manager, he explained to me what it was about and I think I got the gist of it. Netpartners is a Hong Kong outfit, mainly targetting US and UK markets. I have to do a bit more research in to this area regarding affiliate marketing. At ad:tech, there were a number of stands, I would say 1/3 selling these services. It was pretty funny, because he was talking English to us and as we were winding down our conversation he asked if we spoke Chinese! Vincent and him started talking, and then I joined in, but I don’t think he understood me very well since my Cantonese is pretty bad and heavily accented. 

Post Click – affiliate marketing

We spoke to the BD manager there. I’ve actually heard of them. Post click specialises in niche affiliate marketing. I’m still getting the hang of this term – its advertising on a network of sites. e.g. you would like to advertise to websites in Indonesia targeting students coming to Australia. They would go represent you and negotiate, and source sites for you to advertise on. They must have relationships with traffic brokers (a new term I learnt) and work out how much you have to pay for CPA, cost per action which is for lead or conversion generation if someone clicks on an ad. Post Click most likely takes a set up fee and a slice of the action e.g. CPC of 1 cent (cost per click of $0.01). 

Girls.com.au / Femail.com.au

I’m not sure why but we wondered over to this stand. We were just curious, and it was right next to ours. They’ve got 2 websites which are online magazines targeted towards females. Girls.com.au has a demo of 18 – 35, skewed towards younger females. Femail.com.au has a demo of 25+. These mags have been running for about 10 years online and has similar content to Vogue, Cleo, etc.. The opportunities are for advertising towards a very specific demographic. 

They also own female.com.au and redirect all the traffic to femail.com.au. however, they are not going to switch over to female.com.au because of the search engine rankings – its already been optimised (SEO baby!!).

CABO Networks – Pay for performance marketing

I spoke to Jurgen Cautreels, who’s over here from Miami. These guys have offices in Miami and Sydney, that’s TWO awesome beach places. They do stuff related to traffic marketing, lists, and email marketing. 

iAD & Pureprofile

I’ve lumped them together even though they are two very distinct companies. Only because they have both presented at our offices. I like iAD, but I feel that their technology is way ahead of its time. When they came into our office and explained their product, they left a lot of us dumbfounded, including me. If you can’t explain to a bunch of people that are pretty technology savvy, your going to struggle with other people as well. Even their blurb in ad:tech is hard to understand – something about a multi-function device, etc…

Ad:Tech on Twitter & Blog

If you are keen to follow with the latest adtech updates, check out twitter. People are twittering using the following hashtags:

#adtechsyd

#atsyd

For the 3 different seminar tracks, there’s also:

#atsyd1 

#atsyd2 

#atsyd3

There’s heaps of ad:tech tweeting going on, and I’ve been following the conversations via twitter and tweetdeck (i’ve got my search groups on for each hashtag!).

You can also check out ad:tech brain blog, I’ve been reading and commenting on it over the past month or so. 

See you there

If you are going to be there, look for me at the Next Digital /Commquest stand in the late afternoon. I’m going to be there in a white coat, and also checking some of the other stands and seminars. 

I’m out like day 1 of ad:tech, 

Matthew Ho aka inspiredworlds

Yammer updates, interview and Yammer clothing line!

Quick post on yammer:

Yammer released some new updates on highly requested features.

I found out about this update via the Yammer fanpage on facebook. Some of these are no brainers such as private DM ala Twitter. I really like the import RSS feed as well. I’ve already posted the link to the new features in our work yammer group and will discuss them during the week. I like to discuss  features on yammer one a day – as it gives people a chance to try them out.

Yammer CEO interview on social networking watch

This is a pretty good interview and gives you an insight to how Yammer works and where it is positioned against Twitter. I also left the following comment on the page:

“its interesting how Yammer has no insight into how companies are using Yammer because of their privacy guarantee, other than via blogs / twitter. Not every co. on yammer will blog or twitter.

Perhaps they should look into creating some Yammer user groups. identify who is the key yammer person in each organisation, and do a test pilot with 30 or so people providing feedback via yammer. they could eventually scale to hundreds of people. that way they would get greater insight. create subgroups for large organisations, IT organisations, FMCG, educational, etc… Why not use yammer to get feedback on itself?

the problem i’ve found is that even though we have yammer in our organisation, people still send out mass emails if they really need to get a message across, and we need to change that culture.

I’ve been appointed as the Yammer Evangelist in my company and i’d be happy to give feedback whether via a usergroup or directly. i’ve also written about how my company uses yammer here: https://inspiredworlds.wordpress.com/2009/01/29/mc-yammer-cant-touch-this/”

Yammer basketball singlet

Check out my new Next Digital basketball singlet. I decided to get a yammer inspired nickname, combined with my favourite retro rap star/dance star phenomenon/twitter superstar, MC Hammer:

MC Yammer - basketball singlet

MC Yammer: Can’t Touch This

At work, I’ve been given a new responsibility – Yammer Evangelist. Yes, I know you are thinking, what is Yammer? And what the heck is an evangelist.

In short, Yammer is a text messaging application similar to Twitter or Facebook status updates. I’ve spoken about Yammer previously on this blog. It is geared more towards organisations / corporates because it allows for closed networks. Whereas Twitter is open to the world.

Much like Twitter, it allows you to write a short message and have a profile page. But the advantages of Yammer is that it is a closed group only open to those you invite or on your company’s email domain. For example, our Yammer is only open to Sydney employees of Next Digital. The advantage of Yammer is that you can broadcast to the group and get responses immediately. You can obviously do this over email as well but often there are too many emails flying around and some people are included and some are not. Also, its hard to keep track of conversations. Yammer groups the conversations together, and you can see the replies in a threaded view.

You can call me MC Yammer

You can call me MC Yammer

Yammer kicks ass because it reduces email clutter. It enables conversations to develop and it keeps responses short (KISS principle in full effect). While twitter only allows for 140 characters, Yammer has no limitation. You can also add attachments to Yammer posts, using browse function or you can drag and drop.

Other cool advantages of Yammer:

  • Ability to create subgroups: We have a group for basketball team, and this is where the real action happens. We discuss practice discussions, admin, jerseys, who’s playing, etc..It allows for collaboration and dynamic discussion.
  • Follow and unfollow people: Yammer actually will suggest to you who you should follow. You don’t have to follow everyone in your company’s network. By following certain people, those conversations will be prominent and reduces all the clutter/  spam out there in the Yammesphere. The suggestions from Yammer will get smarter over time, but they are supposedly based on the organisational hierarchy and reporting relationships, and who your colleagues are following.
  • Create a profile: similar to a company intranet, you can fill out your bio like education, career history, who you report to and who you work with. Not many people in my company have filled it out, but hopefully that will change.
  • Desktop app: Yammer is web service (like Twitter or facebook you can login). But those cool cats out there like myself have downloaded the desktop app and I keep it open all day. I guess its similar to Tweetdeck for Twitter or MSN browser. It uses Adobe Air, which is very slick.
  • The conversations are searchable and taggable. If you use a hashtag before a word e.g. #basketball , it will recognise that as a keyword and will tag that conversation. I can choose to follow all conversations that have #basketball. This is quite useful if you have a bunch of people talking about a specific client or an activity. Conversations are easily searchable using Yammer’s search engine.
  • Sync it with google chat in gmail. So if I’m using gmail, and I want to post something, I open the Yammer chat box and post from there.
  • Send posts & recieve posts via SMS – I have set it up but I don’t want to pay for it and I’m not sure if I want work stuff sent to my phone. But the option is there.
  • Creating a more open and collaborative culture within the workplace. People are posting one to many conversation points, and getting more opinions. I think its less inhibiting than sending out a group email. A lot of times, if I’m sending out an email to the whole office, I ‘ll look at it several times, edit and think will this be ok? Whereas a post on Yammer is a microblogging service, 140 characters is not going to kill me. I’m going to get a lot more useful suggestions asking an office of 30 people in the open then a small select group of people.
The Yammer Formula

The Yammer Formula

I believe that Yammer has taken Twitter’s model and corporatised it. It could be one of the few Twitter type services that actually can make money. I don’t see how Twitter itself can make money off the service it provides. But Yammer charges for customisation, secure domain access using https (hypertext transfer protocol over secure socket layer) thus encrypting it like a bank website, full admin access, etc…. It charges something like $1 per user, but larger groups are offered as a discount.

I think Yammer will work effectively in our office because its not that big. We have roughly 25-30 employees and only a 1/3 are active users. Once more people start getting more active, it will be even better. It will be interesting to see how it run in a much larger environment like say our Melbourne office which as 150 people. In general, experiments like this work better on a smaller scale and there is inherently less clutter to begin with and you know everyone on the network relatively well.

The role of the Yammer Evangelist

I’m still yet to get a really good definition of an evangelist that sticks in my mind. But I believe the purpose as described to me, is to encourage adoption of Yammer, become the guru/troubleshooter and answer people’s question, and lead in it use. I also have started sending out posts on how to optimise its use as well and to stay up to date with what’s happening by reading the blog/website/other sources and participating in external discussions.

Bringing the balloon pants into fashion

Bringing the balloon pants into fashion

I’ve actually read everything on the Yammer website as well as all the blog posts, so that part shouldn’t be hard. I’ve also commented on TechCrunch’s article on Yammer’s $5m capital raising as well as an article in the NY Times blog. You get a lot of interesting feedback from other users in external companies. For example, someone said you should encourage staff to post 2-3 times a day, and its a good way to see what everyone is up to. I might see someone working on a particular project which I read about last week, and then if I have a question I will shoot them a yammer post or IM (instant message them).

I’ll post another update in a month or so and discuss further developments.

I’m out like email clutter,

Matthew Ho.

p.s. Yammer also won TechCrunch top prize in 2008