Archive | March, 2010

Spam, Spam, Spam

9 Mar

Not too long ago, spam was mostly email: viagra, pr0n, get rich quick schemes.  Nowadays tho, it’s all over: blog comment spam, twitter spam, facebook spam. Irritating, annoying, but effective: the spammers only need a fraction of a percentage of people to convert (i.e. click a link, make a transaction, get duped by a phishing scam etc) to make it worth their while. So they carry on.

There’s another type of spam though, and it’s a  particular pet peeve of mine: when an otherwise decent product or application uses deceptive or shady tactics to get me to promote that product. It’s happened to me a couple of times lately, and it drives me up the wall. Most often the promotion is in the form of a tweet that gets fired out to your network (“I just did xxx, followed by link”).  The really shady ones don’t tell you they’re going to do it, but there are plenty of others that don’t  make it super obvious that a tweet is going to go out, or are not fully transparent about what the content of that tweet is going to be.

So to app developers, I say this: if you make a good app or product, give me the tools to promote it, make it easy for me to do so, and I will. But trick me into doing it, and I’ll think negatively of you and most likely won’t use your app again.

If what if have is worthwhile, you shouldn’t need to resort to black or grey hat tactics to promote it, so don’t. Of course I get that a small business needs to promote their product, but do it legitimately, don’t trick me. The burden rests with you to be fully transparent, not on the end user to work out whether something is going to happen or not.  If there is ANY doubt in your mind as to whether it’s 100% clear as to what’s going to happen when your end user takes the desired action, you should reconsider. Please don’t be that guy (or gal).


I’m Leaving Ogilvy!

8 Mar

As most of you know, I’ve been part of the 360 Digital Influence practice at Ogilvy (the Word-of-Mouth/Social Media team), here in New York. I’ve been lucky enough to work with an incredible team, on some of the highest profile and best clients you could possibly wish for, on some really amazing programs. But it’s time for me to move on.

Since my Kintera days (Kintera is a set of online tools for non-profits, subsequently acquired by Black Baud), I’ve wanted to work more with non-profits. After Kintera I had the good fortune to work with the awesome folks at Invisible Children, and that experience only reinforced my desire to do more in the non-profit space. Now I have that opportunity: as of late March I’ll be  at Autism Speaks, here in the city. It’s an incredible opportunity: we’ve really only scratched the surface in the non-profit space… the possibilities therein are endless, and I’m incredibly excited to get going.

That said, I’m also sad to be leaving one of the smartest group of folks I’ve ever had the good fortune to work with. The Ogilvy 360 Digital Influence folks do word-of-mouth and social media right, and more than that they’re damn good people. I feel privileged to have worked alongside them.

If you’re their client, you’re damn lucky to have them: you won’t find better counsel, a sharper approach to word-of-mouth marketing, or smarter folks anywhere in the space, no question.

So see ya later Team Ogilvy 360 Digital Influence, and thanks for everything. Hit me up if you feel like donating some money to autism at any point this year, or even if you’re in New York and you just fancy a beer. A proper one tho @iansohn, none of that American rubbish.



Jack Dorsey’s @square is going to change the world. Here’s why.

1 Mar

On saturday I went to a #tweetup in New York organized by the New York Knicks.  One of the panelists was Jack Dorsey, of Twitter fame, and after the event I got the chance to test drive his new venture: @square.  Square is a mobile payment system that allows anyone with an account and an iPhone to take credit card payments . I tried it by donating to the Red Cross, and its elegance and ease of use is absolutely mind blowing. Jack plugged the little dongle in to his iPhone, opened the app and processed my payment in seconds.  I signed with my finger to confirm my donation and it was done: email receipt in my inbox, my (rather miserly, sorry) donation winging its way to the Red Cross.

My @Square donation

My @square donation

Think about that for a second…when this thing launches anyone with an iPhone will be able to take credit card payments. Anyone. Your buddy that owes you money but claims he doesn’t have any cash can @square it to you.  Your daughter’s lemonade stand will be able to take credit card payments.  Every pop-warner football game in the country, every club, every single business that was predominantly cash or cheque based will be able to do the same.  How big do you think that market is or could be? Big? More like scary big.

And what sort of impact could it have on the non-profit world?  Well, ignoring the (not insignificant) fact that square will be donating 1c from every transaction to the non profit of your choice, suddenly every fundraiser of any kind that takes place offline will be able to take card payments.  Breast cancer walks, bake sales, the fundraiser at your kid’s school, political fundraisers… it’s huge, and the revenue it could generate for good causes and @square alike is mind boggling.

Me donating to the Red Cross using @square

Me using @jack's @square

It won’t be without issues, of course. Payment and card transactions are complicated, but if they handle those pieces (particularly the security side of things), they’ll have an absolutely amazing product on their hands.  The version I used didn’t have the picture verification system they talk about on their site (let the images on the homepage scroll to see), but I can’t imagine that they’ll launch without some sort of added security layer. In any case, many of  the transactions they’ll be processing will be less prone to credit card fraud as they’ll be taking place between people who have some sort of existing relationship. Either way, as long as the vendor takes the necessary steps to verify that their customer is legit, @square will be just as secure as a regular credit card payment in a store. The bigger danger for them will be the other way round: dodgy vendors trying to rack up fraudulent charges on stolen cards. To that end, I’m sure you’ll have to jump through hoops to get an account, just as you do with paypal, to which it has often been compared.

@kaimac ()Kai MacMahon) using @jack's (Jack Dorsey) @square system

Donating money to the red cross using @square

After seeing it in action, I’m even more convinced than I was before that @square will be bigger than Twitter. It’s super quick and so simple and elegant that my mom could use it (no disrespect intended, mom! xoxo). The potential market is enormous, and it solves a very real problem.  I love that people are doing stuff like this. Brilliant.

I think Square is genius, and that it’s going to change the world. What do you think? Will you use it?