Becoming a dispenser

Tokyo, Tokyodome Baseball If you have been to a festival, rugby match, football game, or in some cases even the odd school fete, you will have no doubt come across a strange looking fellow or lass with a large barrel beer or pint of "The Black Stuff" strapped to their back, holding a spout, ready to fill your cup with their hoppy beverage. These things are not a bad idea at all. The beer comes to you and it often turns up again when the glass is empty. Someone one day thought about using the technology of portable cooling, filtration and storage, saw the problem of people cramming up to heavily packed bars in stadiums, and fixed one of the truly annoying parts of live events - just simply getting a drink.

I think this little innovation paints a brilliant picture of what is going on around us now. We can all be dispensers. We all have the potential to use a little bit of technology and share what we have with the world, in a way that is truly useful. So how do you go about being a dispenser?

What's in your barrel?

Working out what kind of brand you have in your barrel is often more difficult that getting out there and sharing it (after all, twitter and Facebook aren't all that difficult really...  I mean if 500 Million people can do it...). Each of us has been packed with a truly UNIQUE set of giftings, skills and a past that makes us full of great stuff. We had the potential to be a dispenser of that uniqueness - and the first step to dispensing it, is know what you have. So take stock of it? What do you have that you can give away?

  • What knowledge? What Experience?
  • What connections? What Network?
  • What assetts? What information?
  • Work out what is in your barrel...

Learn to pour it out

Learning to dispense what you have I think is a two part deal, one if a attitudinal, one is a technical.

First - the technical.

This bit is easy. Just get on with it. Can you write a blog about your experience? Can you create a great presentation and share it on Scribd? Can you create a great set of infographics and get them up on Flickr?

Or can you just meet up with someone to share an experience over a latte? (Above all the twittering and blogging I do - this remains my single favorite way of sharing with people).

Second - The attitudinal

Being a dispenser however requires openess. Openess to be opposed, rejected, applauded, revered, belittled and in many cases ignored. This is a matter of the heart as much as it is of the head. If you are ready to share what you have, then be ready to face up to what people may have to say about it - and if you are really ready to be a dispenser, then be ready to share and encourage that constructive critisism. This is something I have learned and love about some of the best dispensers I know.

Tear up the bar tab

What I have found the most rewarding about being a dispenser, is the one thing that the beer dispensers at a Rugby ground cannot do - a dispenser creates new dispensers. You see - when we begin to pour out what we have into others, we see it well up in them, and sooner or later like when a beer glass overflows people become so full of what we and pour into them, they cannot help but dispense it themselves. now that's exciting...

Your 2pence worth...

  • How do you choose to give away what you have?
  • What are the barriers that get in the way of you living the life of a dispenser?

*I felt compelled to share this thought after a talk at our church @stmaryslondon, by our senior pastor Barry Kissell. Barry spoke on how we can share the Holy Spirit because we each have him in us, and therefore we can be dispensers of the spirit to others. I think this is a reality for many Christians, but something that applies to all people, no matter what your faith (or absence of it).*

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Monday Musings: The Gutenberg Effect

Morning All. Welcome to your Monday. Here are some digital nuggets to sink your little nashers into for the week of March 8th. Kicking off with a video spotlight: How The Interenet is Changing Advertising.

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This cracking little "epipheo" presents captures very succinctley something which as been nagging at my brain for a while. Something I like to call "The Gutenberg Effect". For me the technological shifts that have truely rocked the world have always brought about a new way of thinking and with that new way, an outburst of creativity has spread like wildfire.

Looking back to creation of the printing press, what Gutenberg achieved was not only a technological shift, but a cultural one that allowed people for the first time to hold the printed word in their hands and read it for themselves. A technology that was a key driver in the cultural shift that ultimately ended up becoming The Reformation.

We have seen this process repeat throughout recent history with the creation of commercial radio springing up from the creativity of HAM radio set users in the early 20th century, and then far more recently in the boom of satellite television. Each has created a shift in the way we communicate with one another. Each has demanded something new of the sender and recipient of communication. With print it was undivided attention. With radio it became a background medium, with TV a shared collective experience.

The internet in general, but increasingly the social web provides a different form of communication. A new kind of shared experience, that is not media specific, time specific or geography specific. An experience that is neither broadcast nor narrowcast. Yet is still a shared experience, but that experience is fundamentally different, as for the first time the way in which that experience is consumed lies in the hands of the recipient, NOT the sender.

This means big things for the advertising and marketing industries. It means a change of mindset, a different thinking is required, as we can no longer control or stipulate that a communication has to be consumer OUR way. But be open to the fact that our communication will be consumed, when, where and how the recipient wants. The sooner that marketers get that this shared experience is a movable typing twittering tubing experience, not a media experience, the better.

More on that in the coming weeks...

in other news...

A fantastic dissection of HootSuite for the unitiated from my chum Gemma Went

10 Great Newbie Twitter Mistakes Made By Businesses from Mike Johansson on Social Media Today

And a great presentation from Coca-Cola on Social Media care of Robin Grant @ wearesocial

Google's Social Circle & The Trust Network

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Social search... interesting development. Or is it.  Google have been including social web results in search results for a number of months now. Google's next development seems (as explained in the above slightly creepy and uber conservative video - count the amount of mentions of security related words) is to use the content from the social sites that you have added to your Google profile into your main web search results.

This creates some level of helpfulness in cross referencing friends, comments and answers to questions across social platforms.  Meaning that if I look up details about where to go on honeymoon I will get trip advisor, expedia and the gang, but also results from my friend Tim's blog about where he went on holiday last week - a result that would never usually hit page 1 of a search result list. All of this is nice enough and interesting in a slightly geeky, if you're into that stuff, kind of way.

However what is interesting is the greater trend that has prompted this technology from Google - personal networks of trust. We have known for a long time now that word-of-mouth from friends and contacts is the most trusted source of information to us. The entire public relations industry thrives on this single fact, we trust those who we know more than those who we don't. Therefore it is logical that when I want honeymoon ideas, or where to rent a Tux for my wedding (which is in June by the way - presents welcome, gift list link to come!) I can use Social Search to check what my contacts and friends across my social circles (the Google terminology for our networks of trust) think about the topics I am searching for.

Of course this has significant ramifications for brands who interact in the social web. The default of most web users when looking for information is to jump into the lap of Google, whether looking for a good deal on a TV or life insurance, and according to HitWise "The proportion of traffic that online retailers receive from social networking websites - such as Facebook, Twitter, MySpace and YouTube - increased from 5.2% in March 2008 to 7.1% in March 2009."

Brands who don't currently interact in the social web, or have poor SEO of the content that they currently produce are going to come a-cropper if Social Search moves towards a default. Clearly, if we begin to see the opinions of our contacts displayed right alongside carefully SEO'd content and Paid Search, competition for our attention heightens, and our default will be to go with what we trust - our contacts.

Bloggers, BNP and the BBC

Frankly it was hardly suprising that most of last nights Question Time became a bit of slangging match. From the panel, to the audience to the twitterati. Nick Griffin still shocking as ever but not surprising in any way. It meandered its way in and out of homophobia (Stephen Gately), immigration (Winston Churchill) and racism (the KKK) - (all of whom will be starring in my script for a new west end musical - so watch this space!) - but what was most interesting, that of course wasn't mentioned in the show as it was recorded a couple of hours previously - was the reaction on twitter. As I mentioned during the show last night watching TV has changed dramatically when you add twitter into the mix. Some of the biggest televised events in recent months have taken on a whole new dimension when you add the live commentary of the twitterati to the mix, and the result is very interesting. From Jackson's funeral, Obama's inauguration to last nights BNP debacle (who co-incidental feature in part two of my musical), these events have been amplified dramatically through the help of real-time media - of which twitter has been central.

This is interesting from a number of points, firstly that of people using multiple media sources simultaneously is slowly moving into the mainstream as Alan from Broadsight's Broadstuff blog pointed out today:

The dream of people interacting around TV programming via social networks, a key plank of Joost's original pitch, has been shown to be valid - its just that people are using a microblogging service on standard terrestrial TV rather than herding sheeplike into the Web TV players' own social networks

The way in which these media are now complimenting each other and providing additional functionality, as opposed to driving one or the other to the brink of extinction goes one step further to prove that we really are becoming a convergent culture, and are able to cope and adopt many different types of media, without sacrificing our time to another.

Uses of the #bbcqt tag on twitter in the run up to last night's Question Time on BBC where Nick Griffin head of the BNP was a panelist

What is truly interesting however was the way in which twitter influenced the viewing of the programme in the first place. Last night's programme received over 8 million viewers, more than doubling the last highest audience of 3.7 million. According to my research using Radian6 (our social media monitoring partner which we use here at Ogilvy) - the hashtag for question time - #bbcqt was used over 5000 times in the past 3 days (although the BBC reportedly say it was used 75,000 times), over half of which took place before the programme had started. The reach of these 2000+ tweets is phenomenal.

The Top 10 Tweeters who used the #bbcqt tag

Looking at just the top 10 most followed twitter users who used the #tag in the past 3 days (even if they only used it once) would amount to a potential reach of nearly 250,000 followers - if you start adding up Mr Anderson's "long tail" you begin to see the bigger picture, and how this could have some clear influence on reaching new audiences that would never usually watch the show.

The question is now, how will the BBC capitalise this in other areas? Tweeting Songs of Praise? Guess the price on Antique's Roadshow? GPS tagged tweets during Location Location Location?

The possibilities are endless...

London Twestival Sells Out... Twits, Texts and Tequila

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amiando - LONDON TWESTIVAL - London - Shoreditch Studios - @twestival.

So this week the first 500 tickets for the second London Twestival went on sale, and you guessed it Sold Out. (Kind of give away in the title of the post I Know but come on, you wouldn't be reading otherwise).

Twestival London is described thus:

On 12 February 2009 100+ cities around the world will be hosting Twestivals which bring together Twitter communities for an evening of fun and to raise money and awareness for charity: water.

Join us by hosting a Twestival in your city, attending an event, or participating online.

The Twestival is organized 100% by volunteers in cities around the world and 100% of the money rais

ed from these events will go directly to supportcharity: water projects.

In September 2008, a group of Twitterers based in London UK decided to organise an event where the local Twitter community could socialize offline; meet the faces behind the avatars, enjoy some entertainment, have a few drinks and tie this in with a food drive and fundraising effort for a local homeless charity.

The bulk of the event was organized in under two weeks, via Twitter and utilized the talents and financial support of the local Twittersphere to make this happen.

Around the world similar stories started appearing of local Twitter communities coming together and taking action for a great cause. Twestival was born out of the idea that if cities were able to collaborate on an international scale, but working from a local level, it could have a spectacular impact.

By rallying together globally, under short timescales, for a single aim on the same day, the Twestival hopes to bring awareness to this global crisis.

Great stuff... All well and good. People who like a thing, get together and chat about that thing and raise some money for a great charity along the way.

However... (and please don't come down too hard on me for this because, I personally don't have a problem with it) Why would an online community, one that is largely made up of lots of people connected purely via the internet (at least is my @jamespoulter follow list is anything to go by) want to meet up offline and discuss... what? Exactly. Of course, a networking opportunity. Or a dating chance, or just an option for twitterholics to get out of the house. Either way. Just still seems all a little odd that the unknown little app of a year ago, a truely niché product-come-mainstream is bringing people truely together. I leave that debate to you.

As a way of closing, let me also direct your attention to the ticket facility that twestival are using - namely - amiando .

 

A great online ticket management/event management tool, allowing you to set up an event, sell tickets, post your purchase to Facebook using FacebookConnect. Great tool, easy to use.  So well done. Let me know if you are going. If they release more slots, then I'll see you there, work out what all the fuss is about...