About Bart Termorshuizen

Bart likes to write about himself in the third person. Until very recently, he was Managing Director at QNH Interactive, an online agency focussing on social media. Before that, Bart was MD at PPGH/JWT Engage, Clockwork and various other companies - all in the area of communication, internet, consumer behavior and technology. Bart works for organizations on how to effectively use social networks and media for realizing business objectives. Not just strategy, but also creative concepts. He worked for all major financials, telecoms and retailers in the Netherlands. He enjoys working with other creative thinkers in order to create truly great ideas!

HTML5 based iPad Magazine

Working on a little project: creating a generic html5 based magazine library/reader solution for the ipad.

Basic idea is that present publishing solutions (i.e. Adobe’s stuff that Conde Nast is using) is too expensive for a broad range of (smaller) publishers. Furthermore, those publishing solutions do not leverage present web technology (html5), but are stemming from a DTP heritage.
I believe that the iPad is a great device for magazines – especially if these magazines have rich, interactive content. Makes a lot of sense to use technology that’s made for that.

Creating an app that allows you to ‘manage’ multiple issues, off-line reading and has this snappy performance is not easy.


Pic: the library view: each issue is shown with its cover, a title, a description and a download/archive button. Once an issue is downloaded, you can read it when you click on the cover. You can swipe (left – right) through all the issues in the library. The sync button on the bottom left contacts the server, checks if there are new issues and refreshes the library.

If you wanna play with it – here are the sources.

Check out the Baker framework, Laker compendium and pugpig. All code is gonna be open sourced. After this is finished, it will probably roll back into the Laker compendium on GitHub.

Just to talk you through:
- siteless magazine is the project name and it takes graphics and stuff from this site for testing purposes
- minizip for unzipping
- json for json parsing
- pugpig reader (has nice prerendering snapshots)

Viewcontrollers:
- LibraryViewController – this is where the main stuff is happening. note that covers are referenced by url in the json string and resolved afterwards. Besides the syncing functionality (button bottom left), it also takes care of the instantiation of issueviewcontroller objects and doing layout management
- IssueViewController – this is the viewcontroller of a single issue. Design (xib) is still crap and will be updated. Also takes care of downloading/unzipping of a single issue and archiving (which removes the issue from filesystem)
- ReaderViewController – takes care of the actual reader – uses the pigpug framework for now.

its a mixed storage model:
- issues are stored using core data (sqlite database). You can inspect the database using sqlite database browser. As you can see, the database is not included – it is created automatically if it does not exist.
- cover graphics are stored on the filesystem — the location of the cover on the filesystem is persisted in the database. It’s a full path – i havent run into problems with it.
- issues (dossiers) are stored on the filessystem. The ‘archive’ operation removes it, the ‘download’ downloads it, unzippes it and persists the reference to it in the database.
the datamodel is in the xcdatamodel file. The classes Issue, Cover and Content are generated from that datamodel. It puzzles me why it doesnt generate the correct typing for the references (which explains some casting in the code), i left it because then its easy to regenerate the classes after a change of the model.

to check out what’s happening, it’s easy to monitor the folder and database that sits in there. Starting over is also easy: remove everything that sits in that folder (/’user’/Application Support/iPhone Simulator/4.3.2/Applications/’applicationid’/Documents/)

the json format is easy to understand, make sure the issue numbers are unique. On my site, there are two testissue included – (issue number 1 and 2, from Laker and Pigpug). the others do not exist.

Underway
- integration of the reader. The reader does not yet allow for vertical scrolling. The double tap shows the index. And yes, the library button needs work. Does not refresh if you want to open another issue (still in progress)
- refactoring of some methods (some are too long and windy)
- generalize the code/naming and include it in the github (after testing)

all feedback / issue reports is appreciated!

Pfffffing

Yesterday, september 2, Apple launched iTunes 10 with Ping. Ping is a music-focused social network where you can follow artists and other people.

Wow, great.

What’s Ping?

It does basically work: you can post more than 140 character, comment on a post, ‘like’ and ‘share’ an album or a song from within the app store, follow an artist or someone else.

If you want to invite your friends to Ping, you need to spam them with a mail. Supposedly, the facebook integration is there, but according to this post, facebook pulled the plug on it and stated:  “We’re working with Apple to resolve this issue. We’ve worked together successfully in the past, and we look forward to doing so in the future.”. There is some FB and twitter integration: you can share songs on facebook and twitter.

Sharing a playlist would be themost logical social feature – most people are more interested in playlists than in individual artists, songs or albums. The big exceptions are the new releases and artists with a big fan base, such as Lady Gaga, who currently has almost 17M friends on Facebook. Sharing a playlist is not part of Ping.

Apple is really protective on their trademarks. Apple send a stiff letter to Mach5products.com and Tightpod.com for carrying ‘Pod’ in their product names. They battled with Cisco over the iPhone brand, which Cisco held since 2000. And now there’s Ping.

Let’s find out who is going to sue Apple.

First, it’s a well known brand of golf clubs, primarily for their putters. They make a ‘pinging’ sound, hence the name. It could be argued that Ping provides social tools and the name is sound-related. Apple is confusing prospective buyers.

Second, ping – as we all know – is a BSD licensed computer program that sits on every computer. Open op a shell/command window/terminal (or whatever) and type “ping www.apple.com”. Ping sends 32 bytes of data to apple.com and registers the round trip time. Mike Muuss created the program. Ping was named after the sound of a sonar. Mmm, ping is for testing connectivity in a network, inspired by sound. Confusing, again!

Third, PNG – a graphics format, which stands for PNG’s not Gif. PNG’s official pronunciation is ping. PNG is ‘owned’ by the Internet Engineering Steering Group. Both PNG and MP3 use hoffman coding in their compression algorithms. Confusing again!

Fourth, very popular are various messaging apps, such as Ping! – a messaging application for the iPhone, Blackberry Messenger and PingChat. Pinging is the new texting – it’s free, easy and everyone is using it. It’s very social and very confusing with Apple’s Ping.

Why is Ping Pfffffing?

Besides the upcoming legal battle (yummie!), more important is that Apple should build social functionality on top of the existing networks, not introducing yet another one. People are not going to invite their friends again to a social network.

Furthermore, the functionality offered is really limited as compared to other offerings, such as Spotify. Spotify is much better at everything and cheaper at the same time. And Spotify provides social features without building a new social infrastructure.

Lastly, Ping is not ‘outside-in’ connected. There’s no music site, artist site, forum or whatever containing a ‘ping-like’ or ‘ping-share’ button. You need to be on iTunes in order to use Ping.

This all could be resolved in the coming months. But I don’t think so. In one year, Ping is gone and forgotten.

Social media policy

Having a social media policy makes a lot of sense. A social media policy encourages social media usage as well as encourages conduct that is beneficial for the organization. What are the prime reasons for having a policy?

Productivity

Would you have a telephone policy in place if more than half of your employees would talk during business hours on their business phones to their friends overseas? Duh.

And in this telephone policy, would you consider getting rid of the telephone altogether? Mmm, probably not.

Roughly 3/4 of employees that have an account on a personal social network access it on working hours. The same holds for twitter. Al that time spent is not being spent for the benefit of the organization paying for the time. It’s really that simple. There are tons of excuses employees come up with for making their personal time really valuable for the company. Don’t fall for it. Power naps are also really good for productivity. Get a grip.

On the other hand, “People who do surf the Internet for fun at work – within a reasonable limit of less than 20% of their total time in the office – are more productive by about 9% than those who don’t,” according to Dr Brent Coker, from the Melbourne Department of Management and Marketing. Whatever you decide or believe, it makes sense to limit it.

Customer centric business objectives

Using social media and networks make a lot of sense. Your customers are spending more time on social networks than anywhere else. Even when they’re supposed to be working. They talk about your brand, organisation, services, etc. Actually, you should integrate the use of social networks and media in a lot of your business functions – just as any other communication tool. A policy should clarify in what way these tools can be used and stimulate it so that they serve the company and its objectives best.

PR nightmare

It’ scary: all those employees functioning as corporate spokespersons. That must go wrong sometime. AND IT DOES. No very different from that email with an attachment that should not be there. Or the boss-bashing on a party. Nothing new here, but only the scale and visibility has increased. And it’s not just the employees that are ‘ignorant’ – it’s also the pr-communication folks. Really funny what they come up with. Take Nestle on facebook: “… we welcome your comments, but please don’t post using an altered version of any of our logos as your profile pic – they will be deleted.“. That triggered a lot of feedback. Even the topic ‘Favorit Nestle product’ triggers posts about genetic modification, use of palm oil destroying the habitat of orang utans etc. Lot of fun stuff too: “like anything with Palm Oil in it. I don’t care about monkeys either..if they tasted good I would eat them too!”. Even a post of a loyal Nestle user complaining about his favorite product not being available anymore does not get a response. Nestle has succeeded in building a branded platform for people not liking (hating) nestle. Thank g*d, the logo’s are safe!

… and heaven

On the other side, social media have viral power built in. If I ‘Like’ something, all of my friends see what I like and may start liking it.  A retweet is informing my followers. If I digg something, I inform the world. The virility of social media is built in. You need to understand how it works in order to use it. Not just the functionality, but also the characteristics. For example, research shows that tweets that share information (e.g. contain hyperlinks to informative posts, videos, images) are creating a dense retweet network as apposed to the sparse retweet network that tweets create containing a call for action, crowdsource or attempt to make a collective group identity. Besides understanding functionality and characteristics, you need to be creative in order to use it successfully. What you do needs to be really funny, cool, worthwhile, beautiful, etc, on-brand and leading to the desired experience and behavior. Not easy being creative! The old 15/85 ratio of creative versus media is not valid – in social it’s (almost) 100/0: reaching your audience is virtually free, all the money goes to the creative. That’s good news for your clients – there’s too much advertising out there that was created after the budget was spent on media.

So, what do I like?

Brand & values. What are the brand and core values and what do they mean with respect to social media? Every interaction is a brand experience – and a communication policy should make clear what the brand and values mean in the specific case. For example: “Transparancy in every social media engagement. The Company does not condone manipulating the social media flow by creating “fake” destinations and posts designed to mislead followers and control a conversation” (taken from the Online Social Media Principles of the Coca Cola Company).

Clarity about what is exceptable and what not. About the use of personal social networks during working hours. About privacy, sensitive and proprietary information etc. About the fact that some roles in a company have a higher visibility that impact social network activity outside the working place.

Constructive tips in the policy for everyone and build competencies. Teach your B2B sales how to get going with linkedin. Or your marketing people how to monitor conversations effectively and act on it. Your product development people to involve the ‘heavy users’.

Check out these resources:

for inspiration: http://socialmediagovernance.com/policies.php?f=0

for quickly getting one if your boss read this post and wants a policy a now: http://socialmedia.policytool.net/

the top-10 things you should cover: http://blogs.techrepublic.com.com/10things/?p=875 or http://mashable.com/2009/06/02/social-media-policy-musts/

communication guidelines: http://www.brasstackthinking.com/2009/01/elements-of-web-20-communication-guidelines/

Take a swim

The first siteless post was titled: “Dumb & dumber“. It’s about the opportunity of interacting with your customers in places where they are: social networks. Now it’s time to take a closer look at the opportunity. The opportunity is twofold: you can and you’re – most of the time – alone.

Let’s elaborate on the first: you can.

Interacting with a customer in a place where this customer already is, is pretty special. A lot of the time, you need to make an effort in getting the customer to you. Internet’s real estate is filled with banners, text ads and the likes. The purpose of all this is to attract the customer to leave where he is and to come to you. Interacting with a customer in his own home is the promise of interactive TV: ‘the red button’. Although it’s around for some time, people have difficulty pressing this button. Watching TV is primarily a ‘lean back’ activity – interactive TV is a contradiction in terms. Print does not allow for interaction – other than turning a page or trashing it. Content on other platforms – such as the Kindle and the iPad – do allow for interaction. The iPad is a very interactive device, and magazines like the Wired on iPad are exploring new ways to interact with their readers and giving advertisers a platform to do the same. Very interesting.

And now there are social networks.

A social network is not just a place where a person can post all kinds of information on a profile page and share this with friends. It’s also a place where applications reside. In a way, it’s similar to the iPhone: the iPhone is not just a device where you can make calls and send text messages. It’s also an application platform where – presently – 200.000 apps run. So, applications run on social networks. Depending on the network, these applications are called apps, gadgets or widgets. These apps interface with the social network infrastructure using profile information. OpenSocial is an open standard for doing this, Facebook has a proprietary interface.

Being able to run an application in a place where your customer actually is that uses profile information of this customer opens up unparalleled interactive possibilities. It’s better than a iPhone app. It’s (much) better than interactive TV. It’s in a different league from advertising format s.a. banners, tvc’s and the likes. And, what’s even better: it’s free!

Now the second: you’re alone.

Companies are not quick in acting on changing circumstances. It goes beyond the scope of this blog to describe cases where companies fail in acting on changing consumer behavior, changing technology, changing economic realities etc. You get my drift. With a change where the growth of virtual social networks and social media is rapid and massive, the response of companies is slow and inadequate. Slow because that’s what most companies are good at. Inadequate because social media are viewed upon as just another media to put in the media mix. People buying media make a budget split between TV, radio, print and internet. Internet is divided in search engine marketing, affiliate marketing and bannering. And now, social media is added to the mix. Actually, it makes sense to do it, but if that’s all — well, that’s inadequate. The problem with viewing social media as ‘just another media type’ is that it is way too limited. The old advertising dogma ‘shout, shout harder, shout more often and they will listen’ is getting stale. And the beauty is: you don’t need to. Very few companies are actually using social networks intelligently. Just let your competition spend advertising budget in posting banners on Facebook and making really cool landing pages. Let them swim in a red ocean, while you swim in a blue ocean.  Presently, there are about 15.000 applications on facebook. Popular apps include Tripadvisor, Causes, Spotify and  Hallmark Social Calendar.

So, you can and you’re – almost – alone. That’s good news. Now, get going. Get your swimming trunks, find your blue ocean and take a swim!

Foursquare – great, but for what?

What do Agent Orange, the Mizar flying car, Crocs and Foursquare have in common? They all made it to Time’s list of ‘The 50 Worst Inventions‘. At siteless, we love flying cars, we hate Agent Orange and Crocs. Let’s find out what our relation is with Foursquare.

Foursquare is quickly becoming a force to be reckoned with in the location based social networking space: a social city guide cum friend finder delivering a platform for customer loyalty and increased traffic for real world retailers. Foursquare is growing fast: 15.000 new users every day and almost one million check-ins per day.

First, let’s find out what Foursquare is for it’s users:

You install Foursquare as an app on your iPhone, Blackberry, Android or Palm Pre. When you’re somewhere, anywhere, Foursquare is looking for registered places nearby. You select the place where you are and check in. When you check in, you can opt to tell your friends on Facebook and Foursquare.

When checking in, you collect points and may collect badges. The purpose of the points is – presently – in the competition: the person among his friends with the most points is #1 on a weekly resetted ‘leaderboard’. Pretty pointless, huh? Badges are rewards that you earn when based on specific places of interest. Earning a badge is one of those moments in your life you want to share with your friends. “Yes, I’ve received an Adventurer Badge!”.  

If you’re going to a place more than anyone else, you become the “Mayor” of that place. Being the Mayor of a place might give you benefits – such as freebies, discounts etc.  The ‘social city guide’ is handy: it is comprised of tip of other Foursquare users – not just your friends. It’s mainly focus is towards restaurants and bars and the likes. And, of course, you see where your friends are hanging out.

The big ‘dislike’ I have is that you – again – rebuild your social network. The credentials/log-in may be based on OAuth, but you still need to send friend requests all over the place. A lot of people are tired doing that all over for just this functionality. But if you strip the friends, why would you check-in? Only for earning points? Not likely.

What’s Foursquare for organizations?

One possibility is creating a reward program for your most loyal customers. Starbucks (VS, Canada) is rewarding mayors with a 1 usd discount on a frappucino in any Starbucks. Earlier, Starbucks experimented with the Barista badge, which was achieved after five check-ins – with no rewards or discount attached. Another early adopter of Foursquare, Tasti D-Lite, has a point-based reward program, also tapping in to twitter. This program not only rewards presence in a location, but also social media behavior of its customers.

Foursquare has a list of ‘out of the box’ options for a reward program – called ‘Specials’ – making it a easy to implement, maintain and analyze. The ‘Specials’ are rolled out to the Foursquare application on the mobile telephone. Foursquare offers owners of venues an analytical tool, giving insight to a.o. the most recent and frequent visitors, histogram of check-ins per day and the portion of foursquare check-ins broadcasted to Twitter and Facebook. Nice to be able to identify your most loyal and networking customers.

Facebook is adding a location based service that also relies on check-ins. Checking-in is more fun telling your friends where you are than just collecting points. Facebook has a better proposition with its 450 million users.

Back to square one: do we love it or hate it? Bit of both: Foursquare closed the loop of real-world behavior and social media behavior. Despite the impressive growth, it’s too early to tell if there’s going to be real business value. For now, it’s mostly PR. That’s not necessarily bad: it could be a very effective image building activity if your company is one of the first in your marketplace. Any takers?

How cool would a social network be?

When you control your data and share it with you friends without the need of a hub or owned-by-someone-else’s platform? When you own your own social graph? When you have full control over your online identity? When the social network provider is not making money based on your private data or browse history? When the social network software is under a GPL and developed in the best of open source development traditions. Where privacy and security are cornerstones from the ground up, not a document of 5.830 words long (like Facebook’s privacy policy)

That would be cool, wouldn’t it?

4 NYC students thought the same and, as a summer project, started Diaspora. Fuelled by the privacy debate surrounding Facebook, 5152 people are financially backing Diaspora via Kickstarter. Kickstarter is a all-or-nothing social funding startup where individuals can fund a project from as little as USD 1,=. Diaspora had a USD 10,000,= goal, but the pledges already exceeded USD 170.000,=.

From joindiaspora.com: “Diaspora is comprised of “seeds” – personal web servers that store all of your information and shares it with your friends. When you have a Diaspora seed of your own, you own your social graph, you have access to your information however you want, whenever you want, and you have full control of your online identity. Once we have built a solid foundation, we will make Diaspora easy to extend to facilitate any type of communication, and the possibilities will be endless.”

Diaspora is not the first initiative. DiSo – an an initiative to facilitate the creation of open, non-proprietary and interoperable building blocks for the decentralized social web – started out in december 2007 and has died a quiet death – or so it seems.

Diaspora is clearly riding the waves of the privacy debate. However, do the majority of people really care that much? Most people just want to be where most people are. They want to play Mafiawars and Farmville en get a free cup of coffee if they check in with FourSquare. Most people really don’t care about open, open source, installing ‘seeds’ etc. Furthermore, Diaspora doesn’t have  clue on how to get a critical mass of users. A social network is more fun with friends.

My two cents: Diaspora will fail. An initiative should have a clear advantage for user in terms of functionality, usability, interconnectivity with other social platforms etc. And yes, privacy is an important factor, but not important enough to switch.

Posterous is easy – but everything leads to Posterous

This post is a follow up on ‘How siteless is Posterous’.

With a single e-mail, I published on a FaceBook page, on Twitter, on a WordPress blog and on my personal status update on Linkedin.

Because I integrated my twitter account with my Linkedin status, the twitter post was double. Other than that, no problems.

I like the ease in which you publish. Just an email and you’re done. The setting up process was a breeze.

What I don’t like is that the links are all leading to Posterous. This is wacky. You don’t want to have another blogging platform to monitor and maintain. What you do want is an easy way to distribute whatever and links leading to a place of your choosing.

Concluding: Posterous has amazing tech, with one fatal flaw: it all leads to Posterous.

Siteless is pulling the plug on Posterous.

How siteless is Posterous?

Posterous is a service that allows you to post a single post by e-mail and distribute this post to everywhere else. It also builds a blog for you at the same time! Cool huh! It’s really simple: you just e-mail posterous and the service distributes it to the well known places in the format that suits.
Let’s find out how it works. For this experiment I opened an account for siteless and started configuring as a group profile. This is specifically important when you have multiple contributors – such as siteless. If you only have a single contributor, you may omit this.
Presently, siteless is a group on FB. Although this is what it should be, it limits the integration possibilities – not only with Posterous, but also with other applications, such as WordPress. So I also created a page on FB and configured Posterous for automatic posting to this page. In order to make this happen, I’d also need to install the posterous app on FB. This app takes care of the actual posting on the page. This also explains why external integration with groups is not possible: groups don’t allow apps to be installed.
Next, I added Twitter as an autopost service. That was easy enough.
Another important social network for siteless is Linkedin. But, as it turns out, it’s not possible to autopost to a group. Instead, it’s only on the personal status update. So that’s what I did. Not ideal.
Time to move on to this worpress blog. Only had to change settings to allow for remote publishing in order for it to work. Which is obvious enough. Other supported blogs are blogger, tumblr, livejournal, shopify, typepad, xanga, moveabletype, and drupal.
For this experiment, it’s enough integration. Time to put it to the test! This e-mail has limited complexity: a single href to posterous and a picture. The subject line is ‘How siteless is Posterous?’.
In the next post I’ll report what happened and what the findings are.

Should you have a CSO?

Should you have a CSO? Meaning a Chief Social Officer? Honestly, I don’t care. What I do care about is the underlying question: Should organizations beef up their ‘social’ competencies and make a social media strategy?

Let’s start off with the first: the social competencies.

Social media and social networks is BIG. Really big. If you have any doubts, check out this post. And it’s not just about the numbers. It’s primarily about what people do: they talk, lough, cry, date, trash, organize parties. In short: they do what do normally do, only now it’s more connected, more involved.

Another big trend is that people rather listen to their friends than the old ‘trusted’ brands. The importance of customer reviews in buying decisions is well documented. Your friends replace brands. Social media en networks is really word of mouth on steroids. One classic example from 2004 (!) is Kryptonite. This company went almost belly-up after a blogpost and a subsequent storm of posts and videos. Great story! Now, it’s 6 years later.

So, customers are ‘social’. They listen more to each other that to you. Should you care? YES. You should and build up your competencies accordingly. These competencies involve a deep understanding of the various social infrastructures, the interplay and – most important – what specifically your customers are doing there.

Next, should you develop a social media strategy?

Well, that’s a bit less obvious. Let’s first discuss – shortly, no worries – what I mean by ‘social media strategy’. A strategy is a plan of action to achieve a major business objective. A social media strategy is a strategy where social media and your customer’s behavior on those media are the inspiration in formulating the plan of action. So, a social media strategy is not limited to actions where social media play the dominant role. So, ‘social’ is the inspiration for the plan, not the plan itself! This s very different from what i.e. Peter Kim is doing on mashable.

Back to the question: should you develop a social media strategy?

It depends, but probably you should. Let me elaborate. You probably shouldn’t if what you’re doing has got nothing to do with people in general. Like when you run an oil platform in the gulf like BP. (oops – after the green rebranding of BP to Beyond Petroleum, it’s a new rebranding: Beyond Pollution). It’s almost like ten years ago, organizations were saying: ‘mmm, the internet. Interesting. For geeks.’. Another reason why social media deserves an inspirational role in your strategy is that it’s a blue ocean. Very little companies are active on social media while the opportunities are big.

To get going on social media strategy, a few tips:

tip #1: Get lots of examples. And maybe more. Not just your competitors, but also outside your industry. Focus not just on brand or image related examples, but also on service, sales and product development. It’s all about inspiration.

tip #2: Get qualitative information of your customers. Interview a good number customers and potential customers in front of a video cam. Ask them about their life. About their friends. How they play, party, chat etc. How they get inspired. How they buy. Etc. Etc. It is really amazing what an inspiration customers can be.

tip #3: Get a clear view of your assets. What can you bring on the table? Often, it is more than you think.

tip #4: Get info trends. Tech, social, fiscal, economic, fashion, music etc. All trends relevant for your business.

tip #5: Understand that strategy development is non-lineair and needs to deal with uncertainty. You need to find a way in a big forrest without roads, where your compass is a multitude  of unsure trends. As a starter, you might want to read up on strategy under uncertainty. This leads to the final tip.

tip #6: Get help. A strategy pro can provide you with a method, the tools and an information base that helps to creating your strategy. So call/mail me at any time ;-).