2,318 Cubicles around me

April 7, 2011

TrainingYesterday morning I was doing some research on entrepreneurship. While doing my research, I quickly put out a message on Twitter: “Who is your fav entrepreneur in the world?” This is very common on Twitter. People ask questions. Make statements. Share their feelings. Post links to websites. Rant. Twitter has it all. There’s never a dull moment. Seriously.

When sending out a message on Twitter, you can never be sure who reads it. Some people might only read it later. Someone that you don’t know might even pick up your message later in a search. You can never be certain. That’s part of the beauty of it though, for me at least.

So yesterday morning there were only two responses to my question. One person said Richard Branson. The other said Brian Tracy. I knew who Branson was (who doesn’t), but Tracy was unfamiliar to me. So I did the natural thing. I Googled him! I found his Wikipedia page, and I scrolled down the page rather quickly. Interesting. But Branson would be the focus of my research though. My initial inclination was to focus on Branson anyway, but the response from my friend of over 20 years, Razeen Carelse, removed all hesitation.

This is one of the reasons I love Twitter and Social Media so much. Because of the value one can get from these platforms. Many people think it’s a waste of time. Many people think we’re all fools when we use these platforms. But I respect those people. They simply don’t understand the value – yet.

Last night, after a long day of work, I thought about this little research I had done on Twitter. This is nothing new or special though. We do this all the time. But I was just thinking. And it dawned on me, that Twitter is like sitting in an open plan office, and every time you have a thought or idea or question, you simply shout it out. Some people will respond. Some won’t. Some will hear. Some won’t. After shouting you’d simply go on with your work. Few might respond. Many might respond. Then you’d hear someone else shouting. If it was something that concerned you, or something you had an answer to, you’d answer. If not, you’d ignore it and go on working.

Then I thought about writing this post. I have 2,318 Twitter followers at the moment. This is like having 2,318 cubicles around me. Someone’s always there. People come online and go off. Some stay offline for days. Some never go off, really. There’s always someone there.

It’s important to note here that the metaphor that sprung to mind was work-related. We sit in a cubicle to work. I don’t know of any type of cubicle that you play in. There is a message there. This is serious stuff. This is work. People think we goof off on Twitter all day. Not true. Yes we have a ton of fun. Yes there’s laughter. Yes we might even procrastinate a little. Some might procrastinate a lot. But how is that different to any other work environment. In the morning people actually greet each other on Twitter. As you would expect to see in a “real life” office environment. And it’s real funny when people in the West say good morning when it’s our afternoon. We have a lot of fun with that.

Then, this afternoon, I noticed a tweet from my friend Amanda. It’s the image at the top of this post. She said, “Open plan office. Constant risk of inadvertent over sharing.” Amanda, although she was talking on Twitter, was actually talking about a real open plan office situation. But that’s exactly how Twitter is. And people definitely do over share on Twitter as well. But still, there’s value.

I originally named this post “2,318 Cubicles behind me” – but that had some leadership connotation to it. It was as if I was at the front, and everyone was behind me, following me if you like. I changed “behind” to “around” because on Twitter there’s no hierarchy. Everyone is equal. I have spoken to all sorts of people on Twitter, even popular folks like Gary Vaynerchuk (with 871,091 Twitter followers) and Guy Kawasaki (with 331,982 Twitter followers). It’s really something.

I think this is a lot I’ve written due to one thought last night. I hope you found value in it though.

Don’t shove your message down my throat

April 6, 2011

UnsubscribeThe tweet to the left shows that my friend Nur was clearly frustrated. I saw it and thought about my own frustrations with spam. I could relate. I’m sure you can too. We are constantly being flooded with marketing messages from brands which we know and even don’t know. These come in at us from all directions: email, text messages, calls, pop-up web ads, etc. The one I think people are most annoyed about is email spam. This is one of the easiest and cheapest methods of reaching vast audiences. Certain emails which we have subscribed to are a joy to receive. Yet most newsletter-type emails are unsolicited and unwanted. We don’t know where these people get our email addresses from, but they come in daily.

Upon receiving a spam email yesterday, and I clicked the “Report spam” button which I do regularly. But something happened which has never happened before. This message popped up:


Google has now added the feature to unsubscribe from the company’s database automatically once you report the message as spam. This is a step in the right direction. And I’m not surprised that Google has taken this initiative.

Marketers need to realise that permission marketing and inbound marketing is the way of the future. Read up on them at those links. Wrap your head around these concepts. And then act. Change your strategy. Think about your customers. Think about their time. Value their time. Perchance they will value you.

Sidenote 1: When I saw the tweet from Nur, I did not interact with him. Before this blog post was published, he had no way of knowing whether I had even seen his tweet or not. Remember this! Please do not always engage with you online. But they’re reading, or “listening” to what is going on around them. I have experienced this many, many times. People have met up with me and mentioned things I said online weeks prior. People are listening. Some folks say little on Facebook and Twitter, but they log on simply to listen to the expressions of others. Have you ever done that? I know you have. I have.

Sidenote 2: The benefit of using “cloud” services like Google Apps is that they are improved on a very consistent basis. I don’t have to buy a new version of the software. I don’t have to pay for new features. The next time I log in, the features are there. And take note of this: Google does not email it’s users each time an update is deployed. Doing this would certainly be easy for them. But they don’t. They allow us to “discover” these new features. Isn’t that a wonderful word? Discovery. We love that word. Google Apps and Gmail also have a neat help interface which I have just “discovered” – but I think this has been around for a while. After I found it, I immediately shared it on Twitter with this simple message:

googlehelp 300x99 Dont shove your message down my throat

Let your users find you. Then let them discover your awesomeness. Don’t force yourself and your message on them. Be patient.

Social Media Revolution

June 17, 2010

Have you seen this video? It was published on 30 July 2009, and has been viewed 2,015,452 times to date. It reveals some interesting statistics, and I think it’s worth spending a few minutes to watch.

Soccer World Cup with Google Maps and Street View

June 9, 2010

Google Street View
Google has launched Street View in South Africa, so you can now see your favourite World Cup stadiums and city hotspots online. The image above is from Google Maps, and shows Green Point’s Main Road, with the Cape Town Stadium in the background. Truly magnificent! Of course, license plates and people’s faces are blurred to avoid privacy issues. What is interesting though, is that I’ve seen company signage on cars and this of course cannot be hidden. Try Street View for yourself, but I warn you, it’s addictive. Images are not live, and they’re not current, they can be up to a few months old. So there’s no need to worry about stalkers and the like. This is simply an archive of street imagery that Google has been collecting for a very long time. The launch of Street View is a real big shift for us in South Africa – and I’m very excited about it.

This Google video explains Street View adequately, and towards the end of it you’ll see imagery from Cape Town, which feels nice, I must say.

Are you a mobile user? This video explains Street View for mobile:

If you want to be creative during the World Cup season – or really at any other time – Google allows you to create your own Google Map with a tool called MyMaps. It’s really very simple to do, and it can be done in just minutes. Look at this short video to see how it’s done:

CleverPete has made his MyMaps public. He’s done the Waterfront bus route in Cape Town. Check it out here. This map was created a while ago, but it’s now very interesting because Street View has been activated.

Try Street View by clicking this link.

Google Chrome Speed Tests

May 5, 2010

Yesterday Mashable reported that Google’s web browser, Chrome, was increasing it’s market share while Microsoft’s Internet Explorer was losing ground. Chrome holds 6.73% of the market, while IE holds 59.95% – but the downward trend should still be concerning for the big M. You can read the complete story here.

This is actually just a quick post to share with you the new YouTube video released by Google today, emphasizing the speed of Chrome. Very creative. Very innovative.

Google’s Buzzing, again

February 10, 2010

Google BuzzIn case you missed Google’s Press Conference last night, Google launched a new social platform called Google Buzz. The Web has shifted to becoming extremely social and interactive in recent years, and this is going to continue without a doubt. Twitter and Facebook have been dominating the “conversations” on the Web, and now Google Buzz appears that it might change things – perhaps totally, but definitely in some or other way.

According to Google, Google Buzz is “a new way to start conversations about the things you find interesting and share updates, photos, videos and more. Buzz is built right into Gmail, so there’s nothing to set up — you’re automatically following the people you email and chat with the most.”

Before I continue, I want to say this: In my talks and writings over the past 2 years I have been emphasizing the importance of principles, not technical intricacies. The technologies are ever-changing – these websites that we know now were not around a few years ago, and they will be drastically improved and changed, or even replaced, in the coming years. My focus is on the underlying principles and fundamentals about why Web 2.0 and Social Media is so powerful. Once you have a grasp of them, the technology changes will not affect your ability to harness the full potentials of the online tools available.

Back to Google Buzz…

We’re not sure about the affect that this new platform will have on Twitter and Facebook. Firstly, it allows for status updates, commenting, liking, and also integrates with blogs, Flickr, and YouTube. It has a “Friendfeed” feeling to it as well. The only thing that stumps me at present is that it sits within Gmail, and on a “Google Profile” page. Personally, I use my Gmail account very rarely – my business emails are all in Google Apps accounts. Buzz will be integrated, but only in a few months time. There has been no talk of an API – but I don’t see Buzz surviving without it. Due to the API of the other social networks, I manage Twitter, Facebook, and even LinkedIn via TweetDeck. This simplifies my life a whole lot, and makes my social interaction much more valuable.

I agree with Augie Ray from Forrester Research:

“While bringing relevance filtering to the noisy social media world could prove a significant advantage, this doesn’t (yet) seem to be enough to pull people away from the networks they’ve already created elsewhere. Buzz doesn’t update user’s Twitter or Facebook feeds, so I expect experimentation but not wholesale switching in the foreseeable future. Buzz could end up supplementing rather than replacing users’ other social networks for now.”

What does get me excited about Buzz is the mobile access – available at buzz.google.com – and the extremely advanced integration with Google Maps.

Google Buzz Google Buzz

Google says:

With Buzz for mobile, we hope you can start interesting conversations about places and be more spontaneous when you are out and about. How many times have you missed a fun event, even though it was nearby? Or a better choice of dessert, just because you didn’t know about it? How often have you wondered “Where are you?” when reading a text message from a friend? Now, you can use Buzz to learn that there is going to be a movie night at your favorite park, share with the world that there is an awesome ice cream place right around the corner, or tell your friends about that delicious homemade lasagna.

The Google Buzz for mobile video explains it all:

The mobile component of Google Buzz is believed to impact Foursquare, and I think that will prove true, at least to some extent.

Mashable’s article “Google Goes Social with Google Buzz” gives a very nice overview of Google Buzz – read it here.

Also, read these very useful Mashable articles (all posted only hours after the release of Google Buzz):

What Google Buzz Means for Mobile
The Location Implications of Google Buzz
target=”_blank”Google Buzz: What It Means for Twitter and Facebook
Google Buzz: Competitors and Experts React
Google Buzz: Will You Use It? [POLL]

I was surprised to receive access to Google Buzz immediately, I assumed US users would be linked up first. You can connect to me at http://www.google.com/profiles/jamaal786. I’ve been following the conversations on Twitter, and many folks can connect to Buzz via their mobiles, but not yet via their Gmail accounts on the Web.

Of course, if you want to avoid the Buzz altogether, this article might be of use to you: Banish Google Buzz Updates from Your Gmail Inbox.

At the time of writing this post, about 7 hours after the Google announcement, the topic is still very hot online, with blog posts being written, podcasts been produced, and thousands of tweets flooding Twitter. I’ve estimated about 2, 500 new tweets with the words “Google Buzz” every 3 minutes. You do the math.

Breaking the rules

November 7, 2009

Malcolm GladwellBeing a conformist rarely spirals into greatness. It is those who have challenged common thinking and practices, that have become legends. Google and Apple had done brilliantly along these lines.

With the ability to add as many links and ads on a web page as you want, Google chose to design an ultra simple home page, with a logo, a text box, and not much else. That was the Google homepage. That’s how Google became a household name. While everyone was jumping at banner ads and flashy animated ads, Google stuck with simple text ads. There is the rise of PPC and Google AdWords, raking in $21 billion in revenue for Google in 2008.

With MP3 players flooding all over the world, their capabilities expanded. They had fm radio, recording capabilities, etc. Then the iPod was launched, and it was the most simple of devices, and it could just play music. It took the world by storm. The new iPod Nano can record video yes, but the product has been established, the entrance into the marketplace was simplicity.

Henry Ford said: “If I had asked people what they wanted, they would have said faster horses.”

Malcolm Gladwell wrote a very interesting piece for The New Yorker (May 11, 2009), and it’s all about breaking the rules and the rise of the underdog.

Gladwell says:

David’s victory over Goliath, in the Biblical account, is held to be an anomaly. It was not. Davids win all the time. The political scientist Ivan Arreguín-Toft recently looked at every war fought in the past two hundred years between strong and weak combatants. The Goliaths, he found, won in 71.5 per cent of the cases. That is a remarkable fact. Arreguín-Toft was analyzing conflicts in which one side was at least ten times as powerful—in terms of armed might and population—as its opponent, and even in those lopsided contests the underdog won almost a third of the time.

You can read the complete article here.

Image source

Google Maps Navigation

October 31, 2009

Google Maps NavigationEarlier this week Google announced Google Maps Navigation (Beta), and this is a real game changer. This is a turn-by-turn GPS navigation system, with voice guidance. It will first be available for Android 2.0 devices, and then the iPhone version will be released.

Google says, “When you use Google Maps Navigation, your phone automatically gets the most up-to-date maps and business listings from Google Maps — you never need to buy map upgrades or update your device. And this data is continuously improving, thanks to users who report maps issues and businesses who activate their listings with Google Local Business Center.”

This is an advancement in the cloud computing arena. This system depends completely on information located on the Internet, and is therefore always updated and always accurate.

Some features include:

  • Search in plain English (really!)
  • Search by voice (really x 2!)
  • Traffic view (with alternate route options)
  • Search along route
  • Satellite view
  • Street view
  • Car dock mode
  • This short little video explains the Google Maps Navigation system accurately and simply:

    Will this free GPS system put the likes of TomTom and Garmin out of business? Not necessarily. And not immediately anyway. It does change the industry though, drastically. And the markets have reacted already. TomTom’s shares fell by 20.8%, and Garmin’s fell by 16.4%.

    For more information on Google Maps Navigation, including screenshots go to google.com/navigation.

    Update 1 Nov 2009: NYTimes article: Hurting Rivals, Google Unveils Free Phone GPS