Reaching 500 Twitter followers – Does it mean anything?

Update – 25.11 PM – Danny has followed up with his own response here.

I’m possibly a bit biased but when I hit 500 ‘Followers’ (people who have chosen to ‘subscribe’ to my updates on Twitter) I thought that was pretty cool. It begs the question though, what does it all mean, if anything?

It’s not really something that I presume people generally even give a moment’s thought about, but when I was gradually climbing to 500, I thought to myself, this was a milestone figure, something to be proud of, in the geekiest, self congratulatory way, there’s some people out there who value what I’m saying. It didn’t really mean anything but I wanted to say thanks to the person who clicked ‘follow’ and in turn made themselves my 500th follower.

Welcome, @dannywhatmough to the equation who works at Wildfire PR and their blog is here, and who also turns out to be a top bloke. I understand he’s been spreading the Twitter word around the company and getting a whole host of Wildfirers on board the Twitter train, welcome all. Hope you stick around.

At first I thought, I’d ask him what his favourite sweets were and send him a load of them.. Then I put a message out on Twitter, something along the lines of “How should I commemorate my 500th follower?” to which @KerryMG said “Make a cake shaped like the fail whale!”.. Brilliant I thought, that’s more like it. It got my creative juices flowing.. I can do better than a few sweets surely. I thought that the fail whale was a bit out of my creative cake making depths so for the next few days I wondered what on earth I was going to do. I’ve told him I’m going to send him something now! I’d decided it was going to be cake orientated because it has that celebratory vibe about it, a cake means a special occasion, it was perfect.

I fired off an email to Danny being as cryptic as possible yet asking a bit about him, his interests and hobbies, with a view to making a truly personalised cake..

He was a great sport throughout and I soon found out that Mr Whatmough was in to Tech (Apple) Football, Food and Tennis.. It was as if I was looking at myself in the mirror, it was bizarre!

Initially, I had visions of making a cake shaped like the Apple logo/motif type thang, in the colours of Hearts FC and with a mini man playing Tennis.. I was day dreaming about a cake, that didn’t even exist, a true sign of a genuine nutter. As time went by, I realised that it wasn’t really going to happen but soon after I ordered a cake, a cake with a champagne bottle, balloons, party poppers, brilliant I thought. Obviously I wasn’t aware of what it looked like until it arrived with Danny on Monday morning so I was quite excited myself as to how it had turned out.

So what dyu think to the finished product then guys? It wasn’t until Danny, sent me a tweet and uploaded a pic of the cake from his iPhone no less, using Twitterfon to tweet and then Twitpic to upload the pic. Danny I could tell was down with the kids, and I liked that!

PS – Here’s the original Twitpic link

It’s funnily enough proven to be a quite different kind of relationship building exercise. Who’d have thunk it? We’ll meet up for a drink in the coming weeks I’m sure and live happily ever after.

PPS – I wanted it to say @Dannywhatmough, Thanks for being my 500th follower. @LitmanLive – but character restrictions only allowed the above.. so it’s not perfect, but I think it still gets the message across ;)

Can anything be garnered from this whole thing? The world of social media does definitely bring up some utterly fantastic yet hugely bizarre scenarios that you’d never experience otherwise.

In a weird way, I think it’s great that our paths collided and I wanted to reach out and make something happen. I’m not sure I believe in fate and destiny and all that kinda stuff but then there are the odd occasions that you think, wow, right place, right time, it’s great to be alive. There wasn’t any gain from me, it was one of those genuine feelings of, I want to do something different, to reinforce the value that all these people have put in me for following me when there’s an unbelievable amount of people to follow on Twitter.

It was my way of giving something back, saying thanks.

Wishing you a MIR-y Christmas

So the guys over at Mobile Industry Review are pulling out all the stops this Christmas with an awesome feast of altruism and the causes in which it’s all in aid of are all fantastic and worthy of the press MIR will garner for this. It couldn’t be simpler to get involved..

So what have MIR got to say about it all?

“We’ve stashed away a load of handsets and accessories over the last few months and will be giving them away in a draw on the 10th December… just in time for Christmas.  So what’s going on?

This time around we won’t be picking winners from the site’s comments.  Instead we’re running a draw.  Entry to the draw is in exchange for a donation divided between Mobile Industry Review’s two chosen charities – the UK-based Childline and the UN Foundation (winners of a Mobile Industry Review award) which operates internationally.

Each donation of £5 / $10 gets you one chance to win a prize from the list – you can donate as much  as you like.  Individuals and companies can participate and we’ll publish your name if you share your details with us.

So what could you win? You could choose from:

We’ve updated the process so you can donate directly to the two funds.”

See the FAQ at the bottom of the page for further information.

The Blackberry Storm – “Embarrassingly awful”

I was thinking about collating a few of the reviews together in one central place to guage the general concensus on the Blackberry Storm and then saw what we have here to the left only cemented the opinion that it was a worthwhile posting.

A message by the one and only Stephen Fry on Twitter who managed to encapsulate all the reviews I’ve read so far, some weighing in at 5+ pages, all in 140 characters. Another win for Twitter then!

As a tech geek I’ve been watching RIM’s moves in to the consumer market with interest.. Native instant messaging, MySpace and Facebook apps for starters, these aren’t the mainstay of the enterprise user.

I can’t imagine this being the type of PR that RIM expected (especially from someone as influential and with such a wide reach like Stephen Fry) the release of the ‘Storm’ to drum up but as I see it, it’s put itself in direct comparison with the iPhone which has the touch screen experience completely down to a tee.. Obviously it’s not perfect, there are misgivings and sacrifices to be made, but there isn’t anything out there than can touch it (I’m sorry!). The BB Storm goes to show just how good it is.

Both Apple and RIM have tried to win over the different sides, the way I see it is that Apple is (Consumer) and RIM (Enterprise). Apple’s failings whilst making steps in to the enterprise have been well documented. Much of the comments from Stephen Fry above could be quite easily attributed to Apple’s Mobile Me service upon launching, with Steve Job’s admitting that it was unleashed too early and that it was “not up to Apple’s standards.” You can check out the internal mail sent round the company from Jobs here.

Most recently, Al Shipp, Apple’s Senior Vice President of Enterprise Sales left and will not be replaced. Apple’s decision not to replace Shipp may be indicative of its move away from the enterprise space..

An analyst at Forrester did however note that -

“Apple’s singular focus on user experience has resulted in some success in the enterprise – without even trying to break into the market,”

One of the things that the Blackberry does fantastically well, where it’s untouchable (I’ve got to stop with these puns) is the whole enterprise side of things, which it’s positively making steps away from with the more consumer led Blackberry Storm in a bit to get more numbers on board the Blackberry train.

For example, according to a new report, three quarters of the police force are currently using BlackBerry devices while on patrol.

This is due to their accreditation by the Communications-Electronics Security Group (CESG). “BlackBerrys were made with security in mind and not as an afterthought.” says RIM senior manager of EMEA public sector sales Graham Baker.

So with all the above in mind, the Storm was expected to be the first major competition to the iPhone. Unfortunately, the very large majority of coverage and reviews say that it’s a great first attempt but more was expected from it.

There’s a fair few (thousand) people out there who are quite happy with the Storm..

Or how about this guy who bagged himself a free Blackberry Storm for this tattoo..

A man dubbed ‘T.J’, from Ohio, opted to have a life-size copy of the Storm tattooed on his forearm in order to win a free Storm in a contest entitled “What Would You Do for a BlackBerry Storm?”

“We just wonder what he’ll think of the tattoo once Storm’s been consigned to the great phone bin in the sky and replaced with a faster, sexier and more feature-laden model.” The Register.

If you want to win one where you don’t have to go to such measures, enter here

A round up of a few BB Storm reviews..

PCMag.comI felt like I was learning to type all over again. I had to get used to the hover-then-click strategy. This slowed me down immeasurably. The other problem with the keyboard is the way the Storm lets you know that you’re over the right key. I often couldn’t see which key was highlighted behind my own thumb. Another major problem I had is that correcting your typing mistakes is hit and miss—or worse. It will often try and suggest proper spellings or words it thinks you’re trying to type. That helped me about 50 percent of the time. The rest of the time, I was typing and retying words. Clicking on the giant button of a screen felt like an unnecessary and unnatural process. If I’m the typical target corporate enterprise customer for the Storm, RIM may have a problem.

Mobile Today – Stores and customer blogs were venting their frustration over the lack of Wi-Fi on the Storm. The decision has been universally interpreted as a means for Vodafone to force customers to go online and download music through its 3G network. Vodafone customer services said: ‘[With the Storm] we’re looking at streamlining people toward the unlimited Vodafone internet package.’ In other words, if you use Wifi then we can’t get any money out of you for using the internet.

The Register – While the Storm comes with Blackberry Internet Solution support, Enterprise integration will cost an additional 16 quid a month – once it’s working. RIM has long tried to position itself as a consumer brand as well as offering the best push email service for business users. The Storm is well equipped to reinforce this perception, but many customers are buying it on the basis that it will also integrate with their Enterprise Solution and are sadly disappointed.

Admiral H – The most exhaustive review I’ve read. – If you absolutely want the best all-in-one device on the market right now, get the iPhone 3G. It’s got the best web browsing, media (photo/music/video & YouTube) experience and their e-mail solution is solid. If you want the best BlackBerry possible, pass on both BlackBerry Bold and BlackBerry Storm and wait for the next one. Both are relatively raw as of this moment. It’s better to wait for the next revision when Research In Motion’s devoted more time into polishing their software. Don’t get me wrong, Research In Motion has done the best job so far of coming up with a true iPhone contender. But it’s no definitely iPhone killer, until they address all the mentioned issues

Gizmodo – The Storm is a strong effort from RIM, but it’s not quite the killer phone that they or Verizon need it to be. It’s good— RIM clearly put a lot of thought into the design. But I think it fall short of what they were aiming for, and ultimately what all the hype is driving people to expect. Some of this is fixable: The damn thing needs to crash less often. But SurePress is not the end-all, be-all of touchscreen technologies—it’s not really an evolutionary step forward, even. The experience may be fairly refined, but more polish is still needed. Had this Storm been left to brew a bit longer, it would’ve been much more powerful

PC World – Ultimately, the Storm’s touch interface feels like a failed experiment. It’s too bad, because the Storm has some nice features and makes a great first impression. I found the Storm awkward to use for everyday data entry tasks. I worry, too, about how well the mechanics of the click screen will hold up under the pressure of continual use by heavy typers. Where touch wasn’t a major issue, the Storm functioned well. The Storm’s camera certainly outshines the iPhone’s, not only in megapixel count, but with regard to its autofocus and flash. The GPS worked well, too. People who were hoping for a credible iPhone alternative fortified with BlackBerry’s strengths as a mobile tool for corporate travelers will likely find the Storm a disappointment. When it comes to touch interfaces, Apple still has no peer.

Engadget – Going into this review, we really wanted to love this phone. The selling points are easy: the phone is gorgeous to look at and hold, it’s designed and backed by RIM (now almost a household name thanks to their prevalence in the business and entertainment markets), and it’s packed with features that, at first glance, make it seem not only as good as the iPhone, but better. The only hitch in this plan is a major one: it’s not as easy, enjoyable, or consistent to use as the iPhone, and the one place where everyone is sure they have an upper hand, that wow-inducing clickable screen.. just isn’t all that great.

On paper it sounds like the perfect antidote to our gripes about the iPhone, and in some ways it lives up to those promises, but more often than not while using the Storm, we felt let down or frustrated. For casual users, the learning curve and complexity of this phone will feel like an instant turn off, and for power users, the lack of a decent typing option and considerable lagginess in software will give them pause. RIM tried to strike some middle ground between form and function, and unfortunately came up short on both. Ultimately, this could be a great platform with a little more time in the oven, but right now, it feels undercooked — and that’s not enough for us.

TIME – After 24 hours of actually testing the new BlackBerry side by side with its main competition — Apple’s iPhone 3G and T-Mobile’s G1 (the “Google phone”) — the novelty quickly wore off. I hate the click screen, and none of the handful of people I let try it had anything nice to say about it either. That’s a shame because the Storm has a slew of handy extras that neither the iPhone nor the G1 can match. But an annoying user interface is a deal breaker. The trouble with having to push down on the entire 3.2-inch screen every time you type a letter or confirm a menu choice is that it slows you down. The idea behind the clickable screen is that it will minimize errors by getting you to think before you press. Instead, it took much of the fun out of using the device.

If, like many Americans, you’re planning to scrimp your way through the holidays, the Storm isn’t worth busting your budget for. Even die-hard BlackBerry fans would be better off with RIM’s new Bold, Pearl or Flip. All three have many of the same pluses as the Storm, minus the drawbacks of the unusual display. This is one storm you’ll want to steer clear of this winter.

Chicago Tribune – Unfortunately, the Storm is more like a flurry, failing to add much more than a trace of innovation. If you use a BlackBerry, you quickly will grasp the basics of how to work this phone. But if you’re a smart phone newbie, the kind of person RIM wants to lure, looking for a touch-screen model, there are better choices. The Storm is sleek and offers nice multimedia functions; videos look great. But navigating the phone can be cumbersome.

Let’s get right to the point: The touch controls on the Storm do not compare with the more responsive iPhone or Google phone. RIM should have included a trackball with the touch controls, like HTC did with T-Mobile’s Google phone. An example: When you want to reply to an e-mail, you hit the menu key to bring up the familiar list of messaging options. The “reply” button is between “save” and “forward,” both of which I frequently hit instead, leading to frustrating back-tracking. A trackball would have alleviated this problem. If you’re looking for a new BlackBerry, my choice would be the Bold.

So if you made it this far, there’s the take of quite a few very well respected blogs. What’s your take on the Blackberry Storm? Do you use one and love it? Interested to hear what you think, I know there’s a lot of Blackberry love out there !

UK Preeple on Twitter – League Table Updated

So I’ve got round to updating the league table, you can find it here

Check it out to find out whether Hotwire have held on to the top spot, whether there are any new challengers making it in to the Top 3 and whether any new entrants have made an impact.

Let me know what you think and whether it adds anything to the grand scheme of things. Do you find it of value to see by number order an agency ranking? I know the numbers aren’t completely true in so far that there are all kinds of permutations that can affect the numbers.. for example, a small agency of 5/6 are never going to top any tables even if they have 100% of their staff actively using Twitter. Perhaps moving forward some changes could be made, for example % of workforce using Twitter? How viable would this be?

As I’ve said before, all feedback is good feedback, am interested in hearing what you think.

M.

A case of Style over Substance? Can an agency website do both?

The inspiration for this post comes from Steve Earl at Rainier PR (who looks like he could do some damage with a bottle of champagne) where he asks an interesting question..

Why are most PR agency websites a pile of turd?

Definitely recommend a read at the link above, brings up some great ideas for further debate.. eg whether the PR industry has when it comes to web design, learnt anything in recent years.. or whether an industry at the sharp edge of comms should be doing better.

What’s my favourite agency site? It’s a toss up between Mischief and Frank. Check them out for yourself, it’s definitely a wow moment when you visit for the first time, and every subsequent visit for that matter. Other notable agency sites I admire include Bray Leino, Cow, Diffusion, Freud, Hotwire, Kazoo and Nelson Bostock.

I believe an agency’s website should be attention grabbing and captivating from the off (see above for a few agencies who I think do that) along with pushing the envelope and getting a whole lot of positive press (like this perhaps) on the back of trying something different and separating themselves out from the rest. Their website is their promotional tool. In recent times the agency that most comes to mind is Lisa P Maxwell (whether it’s seen an uplift in client interest as much as it’s seen an uplift in hits from curious types like me is a question that remains unanswered though) More noise about them here and here.

From a tech point of view I think it’s a fantastic site which allows them to be more transparent in their business practices whilst also successfully breaking down the barriers of communication in such a way which positively encourages you to engage with everyone on the homepage, from top to bottom. I don’t know whether I should admit it but I’ve been checking back at ungodly hours just to see whether there’s anyone still in the office, not for any other reason than because I could! As Lisa P Maxwell’s site goes, some critics could argue that it is perhaps a bit of a win for style over breadth of content but this begs the question..

Should an agencies homepage be a championing of quality over quantity? Stripping down to the very bare basics, LPM still answers the same questions (About, Contact and Jobs) but in a unique and more personal way (WTF, Connect and Jobs) Have LPM shown the way in which all agencies will be heading in the near future or is it merely a short term ‘gimmick’ before resuming with something more ‘conventional’ ?

It’s been introduced most similarly yet not on such a scale by 10 Yeti’s and their YetiCam (which is pretty cool and I did also just have a look on a Sunday afternoon whether there was anything going on!) It’s quite well hidden though in comparison, almost as if they think it’s a great idea but are not sure where it should go. Something like that should be a showcase piece to be proud about on the homepage, it’s a USP when asking the question, Why 10 Yeti’s? (We have nothing to hide, you can see us doing our work, that’s why!)

However, and there’s always a however isn’t there?

Let’s contrast LMP above with an agency like Weber Shandwick (left) of which I’m a great fan of due to the monstrous breadth of content on site that is all readily accessible from the homepage. Interestingly, a recent article under their ‘What We Think’ section of the site is entitled ‘Less Flash, More Substance’ Maybe I’m on to something here!

Which agency websites do you admire the most and who do you think is achieving the best balance of Style Vs Substance?

[update] UK ‘Preeple’ on Twitter

UPDATE - The below is now outdated.. I’ve created a landing page of sorts for it here but to go straight to the Wiki Wiki Wikid then click here

Stephen Davies of Prblogger is a list machine. Following on from his brilliant list of ‘Jeeple’ (Journalists) where he categorised all known UK journalists on Twitter, he brings another list flavoured installment to the Twittersphere this time following up with ‘Preeple’ (PR People)

It’s been a rampant success thus far with it surely being hard to keep up with the deluge of comments, 36 to date, from users who have been missed off the list to be added. For the purpose of the new category page and the need for it to be abbreviated I’ve now added Tweeple to the mix!

Depending on which way you look at it, there is the possibility of a negative viewpoint being attributed to lists like this, so there’s two sides to the story. For example, case in point, it’s merely providing people with a prospective list of influential journo’s / PROs to use for their own advantage or commercial gain. It has caused Stephen problems before, for example, have a look here.

However, It depends how cynical you are but for me it’s a fantastic resource of the who’s who of the PR & Journalism world’s on Twitter. It’s great to think that these lists might become a bit of a competition for agencies to establish more of a presence online, proving the power of their own internal community.

Building on the brilliant usage of the list I thought it would be just as useful to get an instant snapshot of a listed agencies presence on Twitter in numerical order complimenting Stephen’s alphabetically ordered list.. So here goes!

At the time of writing (approx 12am 11th Nov having lost the entire post and redone!) :- I’ve created a bit of a league table of ‘Preeple’ below..

1. Hotwire (16)

2. Axicom (12)

3. Rainier (11)

4. Edelman (9)

5. Lewis (9)

6. Ruder Finn (9)

7. Cow (8)

8. Berkeley (6)

9. Freelance (6)

10. Wolfstar (6)

11. Hill & Knowlton (5)

12. Porter Novelli (5)

13. Six Degrees (5)

14. Text 100 (5)

15. ITV (4)

16. Liberate Media (4)

17. Mantra (4)

18. Microsoft (4)

19. Waggener Edstrom (4)

20. Weber Shandwick (4)

21. Diffusion (3)

22. Kaizo (3)

23. O2 (3)

24. Shiny Red (3)

25. Wildfire PR (3)

26. Fishburn Hedges (2)

27. Nelson Bostock (2)

28. Punch Communications (2)

29. Racepoint Group (2)

30. Splendid Communications (2)

31. Staniforth (2)

32. University of Warwick (2)

The greatest number being in the ‘Other’ section, either unaffiliated or possibly being their company’s Twitter champion.

Something to think about, perhaps Stephen’s list and this subsequent league table will encourage them to join their colleagues in making their company more visible in the Tworld (yeah, I just made that up..)