#FutureComms14 has what you’re looking for

#FutureComms14

Just one day to go until #FutureComms14 takes place in London, on Wednesday June 18.

If you’re looking for answers to questions like:

  • Where is PR, communications and social media heading?
  • What does your brand need to do to adapt?
  • Content marketing versus the Big Idea?
  • Do brands need to think like media companies?
  • How can brands tell more compelling stories?
  • Which skills, technologies and platforms are critical for success?
  • How can we measure more smartly?

…then this one-day conference is the event for you.

“FutureComms14 brings together some of the world’s leading speakers and practitioners to inspire us to rise to the communications challenges of today and the near future,” declare Mynewsdesk, organisers of this event, who expect more than 200 people to be there.

To get a good sense of what you can expect on the day, check out this recording of a Google+ Hangout on Air panel discussion last month with some of the speakers – Deirdre Breakenridge, Danny Whatmough, Paul Sutton and me, Neville Hobson.

And check the tweetchat from last week. Fast and furious! Still time to get your ticket

Hashtag: #FutureComms14

It’s still about connecting people

The Web 2.0 song

A serendipitous moment last evening on Twitter when Charlotte Beckett tweeted “Do you remember that great video explaining Web 2.0?”

I knew immediately what video she was asking about as I’d referenced it recently in a client presentation – it was “the Web 2.0 song” created by Nokia in 2007 when the term “Web 2.0” was at the height of widespread use as an effective method of explaining the rapidly-evolving online landscape of connected services that enabled people to talk and share things in new and interesting ways.

It was a landscape that was nowhere near mainstream. It was still the time of early adopters and experimenters.

How different we are today when everything to be known about the social tools and channels that form a big part of what we now call “social media” seems to be known by everyone (which is not the same thing as knowing how to be really effective in using them).

So for old times’ sake, here is that video from Nokia, “the Web 2.0 song“:


La chanson du web 2.0 par NOKIA by buzzynote

Tools and channels may change but one thing is constant – it’s still about connecting people.

How up-to-speed are you about mobile?

If you use social web services like Instagram, Vine or Snapchat, you’re probably aware that these particular services are very much designed for use on mobile devices. By 98 percent, 99 percent and 100 percent of users, respectively, to be precise.

How clear are you on other popular services? Twitter, for instance? Facebook, Pinterest, Tumblr or LinkedIn? What’s the primary way in which people use those?

A handy chart by Statista offers some clarity.

Mobile first

86 percent of Twitter users are mobile-first in their use of the platform. I’d say one reason the percentage isn’t higher still is because many people (like me, for instance) use the service on multiple platforms depending on where they are, what they’re doing and what device they happen to be using. The “Twitter experience” is pretty good across all devices.

In contrast, LinkedIn is still largely a fixed-location-first type of usage, with only 26 percent on mobile. Maybe that reflects its user demographic (business people) as well as its less-than-stellar experience via mobile devices.

This snapshot view from December 2013 illustrating how most social networks are now mobile-first in their usage is yet another pointer to the bigger picture on what’s happening across the online world. It’s a picture of the US but it is a credible indicator of much of the global online world.

That’s borne out in a detailed sharing of metrics from Forrester Research in 2014 Mobile Trends, a 43-slide deck posted on Slideshare in February that offers credible perspectives in three key areas:

  1. How will mobile transform business?
  2. What will happen in 2014?
  3. What won’t happen in 2014?

The “What will happen…” section includes a really interesting prediction:

  • New mobile-centric ad formats will emerge
  • More mobile ad network will shift to the exchanges
  • Short videos (5 to 10 seconds) will make a greater impact on consumers, taking advantage of higher engagement levels with video on mobile

Look at that Statista chart, above, again.

In the “What won’t happen…” section, Forrester says wearable technology won’t move past a niche market: it’s still experiment time. (I’m looking forward to seeing what the 2014 hype cycle on emerging technologies from Gartner, due within the next month or so, shows about wearable tech.)

2014 Mobile Trends from Forrester Research

Insights worth understanding.

(Statista chart via Paul Fabretti)

#Socialnomics 2014: A lot happened in five years

Hello 4 Cs of Digital...

A popular video in corporate presentations, seminars, webinars and other events aimed at educating business people about social media is Social Media Revolution, published in 2009 by author Erik Qualman to support his best-selling book, Socialnomics.

Since 2009, the video has been updated a few times to take into account how social media is evolving along with what people do with social media and how they use it. I’ve used them all myself, quite a lot, in business workshops and meetings.

I was reminded of the original video just this week when I heard the catchy Right Here, Right Now” soundtrack by Fatboy Slim during a marketing presentation at a company I was visiting. While the video is indeed a compelling audio-visual experience, the content isn’t wholly up-to-date any longer and misses quite a bit of what’s happening today. A lot has evolved and changed in five years.

If you are still using it, or any of the subsequent updates to it up to 2013, stop and get hold of the latest version, published this month. It’s called #Socialnomics 2014. (There’s a good indicator of changes over five years – the title itself is a hashtag now.)

#Socialnomics 2014 Video from Erik Qualman on Vimeo.

As with the previous versions, #Socialnomics 2014 has its own share of memorable metrics, like these that are pretty contemporary:

  • In ten years, 40 percent of the Fortune 500 will no longer be here.
  • More people own a mobile device than a toothbrush.
  • One in five divorces involves social media.
  • “What happens in Vegas stays in…” now reflects newer social channels such as Instagram, Pinterest, Weibo and Snapchat, to add to a steadily-growing list.
  • Each day, 20 percent of the terms typed into Google have never been searched before.
  • “Selfie” is  now a word in Webster’s dictionary.
  • Every second, two new members join LinkedIn.
  • Grandparents are the fastest-growing demographic on Twitter.
  • 53 percent of people on Twitter recommend products in their tweets.
  • 93 percent of shoppers’ buying decisions are influenced by social media.
  • 90 percent of consumers trust peer recommendations (only 14 percent trusts ads).
  • The average person has a seven-second attention span – that of the average goldfish is eight seconds.
  • Goodbye 4 Ps of marketing (product, place, price, promotion), and hello 4 Cs of digital (creating, curating, connecting, culture).

The focus of everything is American so bear that in mind in terms of how many of the metrics may or may not be credible when applied to different countries.

Still, it’s a highly useful and practical look at a constantly-evolving landscape where tools like this offer an entertaining way to get up to speed with what’s happening.

Incidentally, the soundtrack is Around the World by Daft Punk. As good as the Fatboy Slim one? You’ll have to watch and listen to decide.

Definitely worth your time.

Don’t let your #heartbleed over web security

HeartbleedOne word that’s been all over the web this past week is ‘Heartbleed.”

Together with a highly-visible image, it has been the focus of much commentary and opinion, some of it contradictory, some of it confusing.

Heartbleed is a major security vulnerability on the internet, one that I’ve seen described as “11 on a a scale of 1 to 10” where 10 equals ‘catastrophe.’

All of the focus has led to widespread public awareness on an international level of what Heartbleed is,  and why people need to give it their attention. What is hasn’t yet done is lead to widespread public understanding on what is a sensible course of action that individuals and organizations can take to address it.

Some people say you should change all your online passwords to ensure that your access to websites you use that require passwords isn’t compromised. Others disagree.

Heartbleed in RSS feed

With so much FUD out there – you should see the quantity of varied content about Heartbleed in my RSS reader – it’s hard to know in lay terms what you should actually do that will give you confidence that you’ve done the right thing.

Well, there are some simple and rapid first steps you can take.

Regarding places online that you use and that are essential services from your point of view – that might include social networking sites like Twitter, Facebook and LinkedIn; and services like online banking, email and shopping – your first step should be to check with the services concerned to see what they say about Heartbleed.

For instance, LinkedIn – when I visited the website in recent days, I saw a prominent message in a top-of-screen banner that says, in essence, that LinkedIn hasn’t been affected at all by Heartbleed.

LinkedIn Heartbleed banner

I didn’t see any such message in accessing LinkedIn via its Android app, though.

I was reassured to see a clear message about Heartbleed from Lloyds Bank when I logged in to the online banking site on Saturday, saying “we would like to reassure our customers that our online banking systems are not exposed to this vulnerability.”

Lloyds Bank Heartbleed message

That’s precisely the kind of message you want to look for from any service you use online. And proactively so – just like LinkedIn and Lloyds Bank – rather than not knowing and having to ask.

If you use the Google Chrome browser on a Windows computer, you can install the Chromebleed Checker extension that runs in the background checking every website you visit. It displays a warning if a site you’re visiting might be affected by the Heartbleed bug.

Chromebleed Checker alert

Quite disconcerting when an alert does pop up! But it offers no information on what to do or where to get more details or help. Note the “could be vulnerable…” text. And see the mixed reviews.

Still, it may serve a good purpose in bringing the broad issue of security to the closer attention of website users and owners.

As for changing passwords, I think you need to be a bit circumspect. It seems to me that there’s little point in doing a wholesale change-every-password activity unless:

  • you know or feel concerned that you can no longer trust a particular online place,
  • you know for sure that it’s compromised and therefore not safe, or
  • a particular site has told you to change your password.

And consider this – there is no point in changing your password for a site you think might be affected by Heartbleed but you don’t really know for sure as your new password will be just as much at risk as the old one if the site actually is vulnerable but hasn’t fixed the vulnerability yet.

A good start would be listing every service you use online that’s important to you, asking those services about Heartbleed (and searching online for what’s being said about that service in this context), and then making a decision about passwords.

Mashable published a useful list of many social networks and other companies’ sites with information that helped Mashable recommend whether to change your password or not.

mashablelistheartbleed

Mashable’s recommendation for most of the social networks in the list is “change your password!”

Those sites are Facebook, Instagram, Pinterest and Tumblr. Keep an eye on the sites of the services you use to look for news about patches or fixes, as well as their Twitter handles and other social places they also use. And email.

But there’s more.

CNN reports that Heartbleed doesn’t just affect websites, it also has shown up in the devices we use to connect to the internet.

[...] Tech giants Cisco and Juniper have identified about two dozen networking devices affected by Heartbleed, including servers, routers, switches, phones and video cameras used by small and large businesses everywhere. The companies are also reviewing dozens more devices to determine whether they’re impacted by the bug as well.

ZDNet reports that iOS and OS X  - Apple’s operating systems for its mobile devices and computers respectively – don’t have the Heartbleed bug but Blackberry’s BBM for iOS and Android do.

[...] BlackBerry has now confirmed that several of its products, including BBM for iOS and Android were affected by the Heartbleed. BBM has about 80 million users. Other BlackBerry products affected include its rival to Samsung’s Knox, Secure Work Space for iOS and Android, and BlackBerry Link for Windows and Mac OS.

BlackBerry doesn’t have a patch for any of the products yet, but worse yet there are “no mitigations” for the vulnerability in BBM or Secure Work Spaces.

According to ZDNet, Google said that Android 4.1.1, Jelly Bean, was affected by the bug and it was developing a patch and distributing it to Android partners. 

A complex and alarming landscape we find ourselves navigating today with a huge amount of information swirling out there but not enough clarity yet.

Don’t be caught out through not taking some common-sense steps to protect your information (and identity). Make sure you install any software updates or patches for your mobile devices as they become available.

Above all, make sure you have strong and unique passwords for all the important-to-you places you use. Yes, it’s a pain to have to make separate and unique hard-to-remember passwords for every place you use rather than one or a few passwords, named after your cat or your first date, for everything.

Just say to yourself: “Prudence is a virtue.”

And while you’re at it, I strongly suggest you use two-factor authentication wherever it’s available (here’s why).

Additional reading about Heartbleed:

  • The Heartbleed Bug: “The Heartbleed Bug is a serious vulnerability in the popular OpenSSL cryptographic software library. This weakness allows stealing the information protected, under normal conditions, by the SSL/TLS encryption used to secure the Internet. SSL/TLS provides communication security and privacy over the Internet for applications such as web, email, instant messaging (IM) and some virtual private networks (VPNs)…”
  • Here’s everything you need to know about the Heartbleed web security flaw by Mathew Ingram in GigaOm: “Researchers have discovered a serious flaw known as Heartbleed that affects the security software that runs on about two-thirds of the servers on the internet and could expose user data, including passwords…”
  • The Heartbleed Hit List: The Passwords You Need to Change Right Now by the Mashable Team: “An encryption flaw called the Heartbleed bug is already being called one of the biggest security threats the Internet has ever seen. The bug has affected many popular websites and services – ones you might use every day, like Gmail and Facebook – and could have quietly exposed your sensitive account information (such as passwords and credit card numbers) over the past two years…”
  • PR pros: Comms response to Heartbleed must be proactive and quick by PR Week US edition: “The Heartbleed computer bug that has left many websites vulnerable and open to data theft this week could affect more than Internet Web servers, according to security experts. Since the encryption flaw surfaced on [April 7], it has affected companies including Amazon.com, Google, and Yahoo…
  • Here’s why it took 2 years for anyone to notice the Heartbleed bug by Timothy B. Lee in Vox: “What caused the Heartbleed Bug that endangered the privacy of millions of web users this week? On one level, it looks like a simple case of human error. A software developer from Germany contributed code to the popular OpenSSL software that made a basic, but easy-to-overlook mistake. The OpenSSL developer who approved the change didn’t notice the issue either, and (if the NSA is telling the truth) neither did anyone else for more than 2 years…”

The evolving conversation ecosystem

Social share

One of the prime reasons to start and maintain a blog, especially for business purposes, is the conversation that might happen when you publish a post.

You have something to say that others might have some views on, in agreement or disagreement, perhaps branching out in a related topic direction. Enabling others to add their perspectives to your post in the form of a comment is the foundation point for making a conversation happen, and connecting all the points of view in one place so you can, well, follow the conversation and add your views if you wish to.

The advent of third-party commenting systems like Disqus, Intense Debate or Livefyre – and more recently, with Facebook and Google+ – has offered bloggers myriad features and levels of service to manage commenting way beyond the native commenting features of a particular blog platform. (I’ve tried all of these at one time or another, but have reverted back always to native WordPress commenting features enhanced by Jetpack, the uber-plugin for WordPress blogs.)

What’s been an interesting development in the past few years is how the means of conversation is changing from comments made directly in the place where a particular post is published, to almost anywhere else on the social web and linked to the place where the post is published.

The nature of a comment has changed, too. In the past, you’d write a paragraph, perhaps, certainly a line or two with your perspective. Now, a tweet will often do. Or a Facebook like and a Google +1.

Today, comments happen anywhere and everywhere, all connected in a searchable, discoverable and shareable ecosystem.

As an example, take a look at one of my posts last year that has 120 comments.

120 comments

If you look closely, you’ll see that there are 42 actual comments, ie, responses to the post made directly on the post via the commenting facility offered by the blog.

The rest comprises a mixture of tweets, retweets, Facebook likes, Google +1s or shares, and trackbacks. Jetpack treats all of it simply as ‘comments.’

While you should treat the precise numbers with a slight pinch of salt – I always see discrepancies reported in the adding-up – the important point is that all of the comments made, wherever they take place, are linked and connected to the blog post that prompted someone to comment somewhere.

What’s equally interesting is seeing how comments elsewhere now usually are greater in numbers than comments made directly on a blog post. There are multiple reasons for this trend, including shifts in behaviours about commenting – a ‘like’ is a good as a thousand words – more places where you can make a comment, in tune with your own preferences; and less time these days for lengthy discourse.

So I found it most interesting when I read of the plans by CopyBlogger to do away with native commenting and, instead, encourage comments elsewhere that would be linked to a blog post on the highly-trafficked CopyBlogger blog.

Here’s the rationale:

[...] If you’re going to put the work in to articulate your thoughts, to make an intelligent argument, and to bring something fresh to the conversation … you should be putting that work into your site, not ours.

Not that we haven’t loved having you! We absolutely have. But now I want to challenge you to take that great thinking and writing and use it to build your audience rather than ours.

Something in one of our posts strike a chord? Something you disagree with, or think is powerful, or could be amplified? Make those points … on your site.

Now if you want to link back to us, of course we would love that. But the main goal here is to make the ideas your own — to create your own expression, your own take. (Which we can’t wait to see.)

It’s an interesting idea, and Copyblogger’s push is admirable. They also say that managing spam comments has become a major issue, which was a factor in their decision.

What’s key, I believe, is that comments, wherever they’re made, connect with the subject of the comment, in this case, blog posts. That way, you get to see the entirety of the conversation, the discussion, the exchange of views.

I remember in 2008 when Twitter in particular started becoming a tool that people started using for commenting about content published on blogs and other places. Then, there was no easy way to connect the dots, as it were, until a pioneer like Shannon Whitley created a brilliant WordPress plugin called Chat Catcher that captured those tweets and added them to a post as comments.

In one stroke, Shannon’s workaround solved the disconnect problem that was beginning to be a concern. Sadly, Chat Catcher finally met its sunset in late 2010.

Today, though, there are many ways to ensure that a blog post and subsequent comments – be they replies on a post, tweets, Likes, +1s, whatever – are connected automatically and more or less seamlessly, such as tools I’ve mentioned earlier, if not (yet) wholly accurately in terms of numbers.

I won’t follow Copyblogger’s example and disable commenting here as I believe it’s part of your choice as a reader and would-be commenter where you want to join the conversation. Commenting directly here is just one of your choices.

As long as all the dots connect, the freedom of choice in the method of commenting is entirely up to you.