Category Archives: Social Media

Social media’s an amazing connection tool. Sometimes it’s great, sometimes not, but here you’ll find my adventures in social media.


The value of a ‘like’

Today I had the uber privilege of joining some of the coolest social media people in Adelaide on stage for Marketing Week 2012 to debate some tricky topics.

Team #HelloTwakky (Michelle Prak, Tom Williamson and myself) had the tough job of taking on the formidable (CJ Podcast crew, Sarah Thomas, Jason Neave and Mal Chia). After the coin toss, it was my job to argue the negative of “Likes don’t matter” and in an effort to make a bit more sense of my ramblings on stage, here are my expanded notes on why likes mean everything.

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confession #janblogaday

My social media (confession) – I’m a little over it.

I’m over talking about social media for the sake of social media. There’s much more at play and other things that are more interesting… but let’s not rule out social media altogether.

Social media’s here. I’m pretty sure we get it. Even if we’re not really sure what it’s all about or how to get started using it from a business perspective, I’d go out on a limb and say that most people know it’s significant.

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Memory #janblogaday

Social media (memory) – how much do you share?

Social media: it’s great having that back up of flicking through your past online – just in case you’ve forgotten something. But what if it isn’t there?

Around the lunch table today, a few people started talking about a mini-series by Charlie Brooker called “Black Mirror”. I haven’t seen it, but I checked out the trailer.

From what I gather, it’s a darker look at where technology could (or maybe already has?) take us if we keep moving forward the way we are. Reality TV, media, technology – is there a side to it all we’re missing.

Here’s the trailer.

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Austin Powers

(Two) ways context in social media is abused on a daily basis

When it comes to social, context is everything; knowing who you’re posting to and where you’re posting is the key.

Have you ever seen a post or an update that could really use a bit of explanation, or a post on a social media platform that doesn’t quite look right? One example of this was an awkward hashtag used to promote Susan Boyle’s latest album – but taken in the wrong context, #susanalbumparty saw a number of tweets about a Su’s party that wasn’t really about an album at all…

But when it comes to missing context, this scene from Austin Powers always gets me…

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Ben on Myspace

How MySpace could win the social music battle

I’ve been playing with the New Myspace for a couple of days, and even as a Premium Spotify user, I’m really impressed. But does it have enough to rise from the ashes? Keep reading and see…

It wasn’t so long ago that I was revealing to the world my dirty little secret – that I was rediscovering the old Myspace , but then Spotify came along and put a quick end to that. Now, Myspace is back with a great new UI and smooth social connectivity. Here are five reasons why it may just be the next big thing in social music.

1) It’s artist focused

Right now, if you’re looking to connect with a band or an artist, you’re either hunting for them on Spotify, finding their updates on Facebook and searching for videos on YouTube. When it comes to music, the social experience is disjointed. The new Myspace continues to focus on the music industry – but unlike other online radio sites, it gives artists a way to bring their content into one place, connect with their fans and offer unique content.

What this means is social media savvy artists have a way to roll their presence into one place, giving fans direct access to what they’re doing, but also the music they’re into. Imagine listening to the stuff that your favourite musician is inspired by? Once we see artists and bands building their profile, the new Myspace will really start cooking.

2) It’s socially sensible

Tom from MySpace
Yes! Tom’s still using MySpace!

Spotify’s biggest problem is that it’s trying too hard to be a music player, going up against iTunes rather than being a social experience. While there’s a small element of social in the sidebar, they essentially outsourced the main game to Facebook – and once you’re in Facebook, you’re vying with thousands of other apps for newsfeed real estate.

Myspace’s focus is being a social platform first with a focus on music rather than a music player with a social layer tacked on the side (we know how well that worked for Apple’s Ping…).

When it comes to making connections on the new Myspace, one interesting feature is that you can see how similar your music tastes are to people/artists/bands via an ‘affinity score‘. It’s a slightly different take on how we connect socially but also drives home the message that they’ll be focusing on helping people discover new music.

3) Myspace looks GOOD.

Let’s stop for a moment and have a look…

The horizontal scroll, the large UI elements, the hover menus all make it really easy to use and to connect with people and artists. The music player and radio works as you’d expect, along with the ‘discover’ function you’d see on other sites.

I’m really looking forward to seeing more video content on the new Myspace too. Full screen videos look great and what’s even better is that you can still listen to videos while browsing around. A small video window docks to the music player in the bottom-right, allowing you to look up info on the artist or hunt down the next clip to add to the queue.

4) Extra content is decent (but needs variety)

Myspace is also continuing to add extra content to the site themselves with news articles, featured playlists and artists. Knowing that there are people actively driving the platform is good to see. It’s a useful way to showcase the platform’s features but also highlight what’s happening in the industry. The trick will be providing enough content to cover different music tastes to make it relevant.

5) Tom’s still there.

If you didn’t spot him in the photo above, Tom’s still using Myspace. He’s still there listening to music.

The not so good

But it isn’t all perfect… there are still a number of things that Myspace needs to work on to make things better

1) Get mobile

New Myspace on the HTC One X
New Myspace on the HTC One X

Right now, in its early release and the mobile experience is a little disappointing. The responsive design gives you a lot of hope, as it scales down really nicely. Unfortunately mobile browsers I’ve tried on higher-end devices (new iPad, HTC One X) still struggle a bit with the transitions and loading elements on the fly.

Dedicated mobile apps should be at the top of list for Myspace, especially if they can include AirPlay for iOS devices.

2) Teaser tracks suck

A legacy issue from their early days, a lot of artists are still using ‘teaser’ songs. When a service advertises itself as offering unlimited free music, there’s nothing more frustrating to only hearing 30 seconds of a track before it changes. Hopefully, as more artists see the value of what they’re offering, they’ll return and update their profiles with full songs and video clips.

3) It’s still buggy

The music player and radio’s still a bit buggy with some songs stopping halfway through, forcing you to refresh the page or choose another song. Not so bad for a free service, but definitely something that needs to be ironed out quickly.

4) Make it easier to find friends

Whenever I sign up for a new social site, I want to see who else is there that I know. It’s the fastest way to make a social site social. Outside of doing a generic search, I haven’t been able to add friends from email addresses or from other social sites.

5) Go premium

I really don’t mind paying for a good service. Whether it’s iTunes Match, Spotify Premium or HootSuite Pro, if it’s worth it, I’ll pay for it. I’d love to see a few premium features from MySpace, especially if it means that artists will be getting more.

Will Myspace win the social music battle?

Trending on new Myspace

Time will tell. It’s definitely lifting the bar for making music more social. Platforms such as YouTube, Pinterest, FourSquare and Instagram are showing that people are still willing to go to separate social sites for specific purposes. Music is one of the last mainstream entertainment areas that doesn’t have a really good social platform worth going to – possibly, until now.

Are you on the new MySpace? What are your thoughts on it?

[box type="info"]Here are a few other links that might be helpful:


[box type="tick"]Want to join in? Get in contact with me (via social or the contact form) with your email address and I’ll send you an invite. [/box]

Just arrived! HootKits and giveaways for the Aussies!

10 Reasons why HootSuite Rocks

Yep, HootSuite. If you’ve spent enough time around me while I’m talking social, you’ll know how much I dig it as a social tool and since I’ve recently joined their “HootSuite Envoy” program, there’s even more for me to like.

So what makes HootSuite so groovy? Here are 10 things that make HootSuite rock.

1) @HootSuite_AUS

An owl dressed as an Australian

Australia, like Canada but hotter… so Dave says. If you haven’t watched the video already, you’ll hear the great news that HootSuite_AUS is here (plus hear them try to pronounce ‘Teoh’ – it’s like the letters, T – O). The account has a number of growing lists including businesses, fans and social media influencers all in Australia using HootSuite. Plus there will be plenty of local news and HootSuite news happening but the fun doesn’t end there… keep reading :)

Follow @HootSuite_AUS

2) HootClub

I think it’s great when you see that there’s a social media company that gets community. HootSuite have a great team led by Dave and it’s evident that they really value the people who use their products.

Join the HootUp Facebook Group

3) HootUps

I strongly believe that social isn’t the same without face-to-face interactions. HootUps are the chance for HootSuite users to get together, whack some HootSuite tattoos on and awkwardly work out if you follow the person you’re talking to on Twitter. We ran the first HootUp in Australia right here in Adelaide!

There will be plenty of other HootUps happening around Australia in the next few months with plenty of goodies to give away, so stay tuned!

Just arrived! HootKits and giveaways for the Aussies!

Check out the HootUps on MeetUp

4) Envoy & Ambassador program

When it comes to social and online communities, we talk a lot about ‘champions’ and ‘ambassadors’ and again, it’s great to see HootSuite putting this into action. For enthusiastic HootSuite users, you get the chance to be rewarded and have fun.

Find out the perks of the Envoy & Ambassador Program

5) HootSuite University

If you want to get deeper with HootSuite, you can. The HootSuite University is a subscription based learning hub for the ins-and-outs of HootSuite including some advanced trickery. I wrote about it a little while back when I became a  HootSuite Certified Professional, but to add to that, the Twitter account‘s worth following for scoial media resources and if you’re ever awake, there’s a weekly #HSUChat.

Be all scholarly at HootSuite University

6) Great content

HootSuite also has a bunch of cool content on their blog that’s worth checking out. There are plenty of HootTips, HootGuides, White Papers, HootSource TV and the usual news. If you want to get the most out of HootSuite, it’s worth stopping by.

Read all the things

7) Great customer service

The @HootSuite_Help account is good. The team’s onto it and if you think how many users are on there who aren’t even paying for it, having that sort of support’s fantastic. It’s not uncommon to see tweets like this:

8) Freemium model

Freemium makes sense and I think HootSuite does it right. From a user perspective, a freemium model really needs to find that balance between quality ‘free’ features and a value-for-money upgrade. For $9.99 the Pro version of HootSuite rocks. Affordable and doesn’t skip out on the good stuff.

Check out HootSuite’s “Grab a Slice of Freemium Pie” blog post

9) Various partner models

I dig that they see value in giving others a cut for promoting their products, and they have a few different ways to do it. Great news for consultants/agencies and affiliate marketers – and for anyone wanting to dabble in their API.

Partner up with HootSuite 

10) It’s a great social media tool.

Oh, did I mention, HootSuite is a really good social media tool.


When it comes to managing Twitter, it shines but then you get all the added goodness of Facebook profiles, Pages and Groups, LinkedIn, Google+ Pages, plus a bunch of other platforms, apps, analytics, team-management and that’s scratching the surface. If you’re not already on it, you really need to go have a play.

Go over to HootSuite, I won’t feel bad if you leave my site.

Social media – an invitation to make things happen.

Walking down the street with my two year old is always an adventure in discovery because she notices things that I miss and has to tell me about them. Whether it’s the smallest teddy bear keychain on someone’s bag or a giant picture of a dog in a window that I somehow missed, she pulls at my hand saying “teddy, teddy” or “doggy, doggy” until I stop and look at what she’s pointing at.

Sometimes I have to kneel down to see things from her eye level. Other times I have to pick her up as she points with her arm stretched out. We walk around with her in my arms like a small human metal detector until I finally see the thing she’s been pointing at the whole time.

A smile breaks out on her face, she nods, she laughs and there is celebration because now I see what she sees.

More than a share.

In Australia, there are over 11 million Facebook accounts, 11 million YouTube accounts, 1.8 million Twitter accounts (the list goes on) and what gives life to this huge social machine is the simple act of sharing.

We share the things that are happening around us. It could be an article we’re reading, a moment captured in a photo, a status update about what we’re doing or how we’re feeling – we’re showing others what’s going on in our lives.

But really, it’s more than just sharing what we see. It’s really an act of invitation.

We invite others to engage in what’s happening in our lives. Likes, comments, shares – there’s conversation around each other’s lives and within that, there’s potential for real connections to be made.

Have you ever updated your Facebook status or sent out a tweet in frustration and someone else replies, “Right on”? Or maybe you’ve posted a slightly obscure video that you thought was funny and someone else actually gets it. Or maybe you’ve simply had that thing hanging around for ages and you feel that if you don’t share it with someone, so you write something like, “I wish things were different…” and someone comments,

“I know how you feel.”

And somewhere in the midst of whatever that thing is, there is celebration as you hear in those words, “I’ve seen what you see.”

More than here and now.

Faced with his own homelessness, Mark Horvath went out on the streets to help the homeless in the USA tell their story with just a video camera and a YouTube channel. Now Invisible People TV is being seen by thousands of people and lives are being changed.

In a short video where Mark introduces his story, there’s a point where you hear the anger and the frustration in his voice as he asks, “…Can’t you see this? Can’t you see what I see?

You get the sense that he’s not just talking about what he captures on video but he’s also talking about the future he sees where homelessness is no longer an issue.

There are moments of inspiration where we see something that’s been shared that actually talks about the possibility of what could be. That word “inspiration” comes from the Latin word “inspirare,” meaning  “to breathe into.” In ancient Hebrew, the word that gets translated into the English word “breath” can also be translated as “spirit.” Traditions that are thousands of years old tell of a God whose breath or ‘spirit’ is the very thing that gave form and function to the world. That same spirit was breathed into the first human beings, giving them life. 

Have you ever noticed that when people are inspired, they use phrases like, “I feel more alive”?

More often than not, what’s happening right now is what inspires us and gives us ideas of what the future could look like. Maybe you’ve found yourself sharing the things that have inspired you – makes you feel alive – in the hope that someone takes you up on your act of invitation, saying, “Me too. Let’s do this!

And there is celebration because they’ve also seen what you see.

More than a possibility.

The Internet is awesome
The Internet is awesome via teezeria

This social media thing, is all about people connecting with people and there’s a lot of good that can come from that.

There are people out there inspired by the same vision of the future and working together towards it. They’re convinced that the things they share today will shape what will be shared tomorrow.

That’s exciting.

The Internet is full of stories where lives have been changed because someone

has been inspired to do something and they share it with someone else and that person shares it, and that person’s friends share it, and it goes on and on as people start joining in and things start happening.

That’s the real potential of social media – people accepting the invitation to rally together around the things that inspire them and make things happen.

And there is much celebration because what was seen as a possibility can now be seen as a reality.

Car covered in Christmas lights

Don’t go towards the light!

There are things that you hear about when you’re growing up – things that you’re never quite sure if it’s true, but you’re willing to take it as fact because you don’t really want to test it out.

You know, things like having to wait 30 mins after eating before going swimming – or you’ll drown. Or that urinating on jellyfish stings relieves the pain (seriously, who figured that out?).

Car covered in Christmas lights
Distracting? Who, me?

But one that always got me was that when you’re driving at night, you shouldn’t look at the lights of oncoming traffic because there’s some innate human reaction to move toward the light. Instead, it’s a much better idea to focus on the road ahead.

True? I have no idea. I’m not going to test it.

If you work with social media long enough, you learn the ins and outs of how things work and it’s easy to be dazzled by the bright lights of things like reach and amplification and influence – but they’re just the lights, they’re not the road.

The lights reveal things to us and show us what’s going on, but we can’t drive on them.

What’s more important is knowing where you’re going. Why are you on the social media highway in the first place?

Image by Sterin on Flickr

Klout for Good - Is it really?

Slacktivism or good use of my ‘influence’?

I’m sitting here staring at this on my screen and faced with a call to “donate your influence” and I can’t shake the feeling that there’s something not quite right here.

Scoring influence

Firstly, when it comes to Klout, if I’m honest, I’ll check my score every so often. I’ve blogged about having a bit of fun with +k’s but it’s not one of those things I obsess over.

I’m in two minds about it. On one hand, people want to see value in what they do, and Klout offers that (and they’re not the only player on the field). At a quick glance, you can see how valuable your online presence is – albeit according to Klout. For those heavily invested in social, it now seems Klout is showing up in more places and may begin to impact job prospects.

On the other hand, my guess is that for the majority of social users, Klout doesn’t even cross their mind – and  it shouldn’t. If you’re scoring your interactions with your friends and family, it’s time for you to take a bit of time out and escape the trap.

Cheap tweets

When it comes to causes, simply asking for a tweet with a few hashtags not only cheapens your campaign but cheapens the cause. It’s cultivating an attitude that a cheap tweet is all that’s needed to change lives.

Now more than ever, people are wary of what they support – especially charities.

If anything, Kony 2012’s made us a little more wary of how we show our support. Yes, I blogged and shared the video but that’s where it stopped. I think it’s where it stopped for a lot of people. The backlash and criticism came flying in, giving many people like myself cause to stop and think about the things we support. The end result is an audience that wants a clearer idea of what they’re getting involved in.

Because that’s what this is. It’s not just a product endorsement or a shout out, it’s asking for me to join something I don’t really know about.

Before when I said that this cheapens things? There’s one simple step that’s missing.

What’s the most important thing you want me to do? Like you on Facebook?

We’re more than the sum of our tweets, likes and status updates.

The clearest call to action on this landing page is to send a tweet and invite your friends. The clearest call to action on the (RED) site is to like a Facebook page?

Be up front. If you want me to buy a (RED) product where part of that donation will go towards eradicating AIDS, that is what I want to know. Show me the products that are available, the amount that’s donated and the impact that it will have and then ask me to tweet and I’ll shout it from the rooftops.


Because I know what my contribution has been to a cause I understand and I know how it’s made a difference.

It’s as simple as that.

Ben hangs his head in shame while wearing a headset

My dirty little secret.

Ben hangs his head in shame while wearing a headset
The face of shame

I’ve had this sitting in my drafts for a while. I have a confession – and this could change the way a lot of people think of me. If you’re offended, I’m sorry. If you’re shocked, it will pass. If you stop following me on Twitter, I understand. I just need to get this off my chest.

I like MySpace. There, I said it.

Phew, what a relief. Thanks.

No, seriously – it’s not that bad. Things are different. Sure, there’s that sense of nostalgia as you remember trying not to gouge your eyes out as you scrolled through your friend’s horribly customised profile page… but there’s plenty of new stuff worth checking out too.

MySpace has undergone a huge facelift, set its sights on the social music scene and…

…oh wait, Spotify was just released in Australia. Holy crap, this thing is awesome.