social media API war goes on unabated (reblogged from Gigaom)

eye-large_thumb.gifHere is an illustration for today’s talk at the French Association of Marketing on the future of social media and a sequel to our discussions with Dalton Caldwell in San Francisco last September.

What the Instagram fight says about Twitter as a media platform — Tech News and Analysis

Instagram says it is removing the ability for Twitter to embed photos because it wants users to go to its own website instead of Twitter’s to see that content. Other media companies should probably also be asking themselves similar questions about their relationship with Twitter.

Remember when Twitter was just a free and open conduit for whatever content its users wanted to distribute? Those days are long gone now, replaced by Twitter’s desire to control and monetize as much of its platform as possible, and as much of the content that flows through it. The latest skirmish in this ongoing battle came on Wednesday, when Instagram CEO Kevin Systrom confirmed that the service has removed support for Twitter’s “expanded tweets” feature, and therefore photos won’t be showing up in Twitter any more. While Instagram’s relationship with Twitter is complicated, its reasons for doing this should make other media companies stop and think about how they use (or are being used by) Twitter as well.

As noted by Nick Bilton in a New York Times piece and by my colleague Erica Ogg — and confirmed by a post at the official Twitter blog — what Instagram has done is to remove support for the expanded view of tweets that shows up on the Twitter website and in its official apps. These tweets have a special pane that displays excerpts from blog posts and news stories published by certain partners, or photos and videos from certain external services. Twitter originally launched this as something called “expanded tweets” but it has since become a much more ambitious platform called “Twitter Cards.”

via What the Instagram fight says about Twitter as a media platform — Tech News and Analysis.

Yossi Vardi’s top tips for start-up owners – #leweb

Israeli entrepreneur and business leader Yossi Vardi came on stage at Le Web 12 in Paris today to deliver some of his tips. Unfortunately he was a bit rushed out and didn’t have time to finish his presentation. Here are the tips I was to able to pick up as I was listening to him.

[this piece written during a blogging stint for]

Yossi Vardi What should start-ups do to succeed?

1- What it takes to succeed?

The most important factor for success is luck. People who are hard-working though are often in the best position for being able to reap the harvest of serendipity. Trying and reaching out to people increases your ability to be lucky, Vardi said.

2 – raising too much money can be toxic

Start-ups which raise too much money want to show their investors that they are using the money and they are often led to burn too much money too early and fail to make a profit

3- right size for team?

Vardi suggests that the optimal size for initiating a start-up is 3. Having only 1 is too hard and above 3 it’s too difficult to get oneself organised.

4 – a mentor is needed

A mentor is needed to help support the team and help them meet the right people Vardi went on.

5 – pivoting

Start-ups have to pivot, i.e. be able to modify the concept so that it adapts to the Market. Pivoting is important but it can also prove that the founders can’t learn from experience if they are pivoting too often. This is a double-edged sword.

6- attracting investors’ attention

Finding an introduction to the right investors is important, this is why networking is key. The is also confirming what we had witnessed in  Silicon Valley last September.

7- exits

There is a debate – in Israel and elsewhere – between experts about whether it’s better to do an early or late exit. When doing exits, one has to remember that one is not selling one’s company to another one, one is selling to an individual Vardi said.

As mentioned above, Yossi Vardi’s presentation was unfortunately interrupted. There a many other recommendations Vardi can deliver to entrepreneurs, we’ll probably have to wait until the 2013 edition of Le Web for us to hear the rest of the presentation and Vardi’s advice.

Brogan Declares Social Media Not Dead But Boring

Today’s selection is…

exclamation-smallChris Brogan’s latest piece which shows that those who were in first, had to go out first too. I remember Chris from his presentation at Like Minds 2010 in Exeter where I keynoted too: he was passionate, energetic… and warning the world that something big was happening.

with Chris Brogan after Like Minds 2010

All that is gone now! three gazillion repetitive blog pieces later, you now know everything about how to optimise your corporate Twitter account and/or how to trick (or survive) Facebook’s ever-changing edge rank algorithm. Or rather, you don’t! because possessing focus focusing on tools is useless! Take a bit of hindsight with this piece and find out why…

by Chris Brogan

Isn’t it time we started telling bigger stories than this?

When Julien Smith and I wrote The Impact Equation, we had a very specific goal in mind: help people get attention, understanding, and eventually a relationship of value. We built the book around the premise that well-defined goals were needed to craft ready-to-understand ideas, and that people could build a platform to spread those ideas to a network of people who cared enough to share those ideas with others. That’s the simplest possible summary of the book.

What people maybe thought they were getting was a book about social media and social networks, about marketing and campaigns. Some people believe that’s what Julien and I do. Social media are a set of tools. They’re not all that interesting to talk about in and of themselves. The “gee whiz” has left the station. We want to talk about action– or if you’ll pardon the self-reference, impact.

via Social Media Isn’t Dead: It’s Boring.

Google’s Page lashes out at Facebook for lack of openness

Today’s selection is…

Miguel Helft’s piece for Fortune Tech about the recent and much awaited appearance of Larry Page, the new yet not so new CEO of Google, in which many things are debated including his vocal cord problems. However, the most important passage from that story is as conclusion in which page lashes at Facebook for not being open enough and pledges openness of social data. Now you’re talking Larry! I’m almost in love with Google plus again. Let me find my old password…

[is Facebook – and other social networks – gearing towards a closed Internet?]

After long silence, Google’s Page speaks

[…] After extolling the virtues of Googles multi-year effort to develop an accurate digital representation of the real world with its mapping services, he said the company was “almost there.” In a clear reference to Apple’s embarrassing rollout of a mapping application that was riddled with errors, he added: “We are we are excited that other people have started to notice that we’ve worked hard on that for 7 years.”MORE: Facebook vs. Google: The battle for the future of the Web. He said it was “likely” that Google would try to make its maps available on Apple devices, despite its lack of control over how they would appear or be distributed.

And in a pointed criticism at Facebook refusal to open up its data to outside parties, including Googles search engine, he said the Internet worked best when essential data was shared across companies. Speaking specifically about social data, he said: “I would love to make use of that in any way we can.”

via After long silence, Googles Page speaks – Fortune Tech.

Social Media in business today : SMI conference – Marrakech

I will take part in the forthcoming Social Media Impact conference due to take place in Marrakech, Morocco on October 11-12. Here is an interview I delivered a few weeks ago in order to introduce my pitch over there. I have included a video recording of the interview as well as an embed of my presentation.

What is social media’s place in the professional world today?

It’s actually quite different from what it used to be. We’re about eight years after the introduction of social media in the enterprise so my perspective in this SMI presentation in Marrakech will be that of somebody that manages social media in the enterprise and that has been doing so for the last five years. So obviously the kind of place we are in at the moment is that of the structuring of the initiative. We shall see three major phases in the project surrounding the presentation in social media within the enterprise:

  • the triggering of the project: proving the concept and that it is really worth doing.
  • the development phase: how one ramps up and scales.
  • the structuring phase: that’s where we’re at. The structuring of the organization, the processes and everything else.

With the constant growth and reach of these social networks, can a company survive without them today?

Obviously, certain companies can survive without social media, it depends what you do. If you deal in plastic for instance, there are very few chances that you’re going to be a major player in the collaborative web. Now, if you’re in a market like the telecoms, as we are, or in any CPG market, you’ll have to be where your customers are, and customers are there, online. Northern Africa has been absolutely booming in terms of social media usage and so yes, brands have to be where customers are, to initiate or engage in the conversation.

As a company, how do you know which social media fits best to the message you wish to pass along?

There are a number of things I will dwell on in this presentation. To start, I will change that notion of message, because this is not how social media is working. We’re not working with messages but with conversations which we may not have initiated, or at least not in a traditional way. I will also go through a number of business cases taken from Orange from all over the world (Spain, France, England, Romania), and I will go through all these examples and show some of these cases and their return on investments.

What are the major threats posed by the use of social media in a company?

Well, if you don’t handle social media very well then you could face a number of threats. I think threat number one is just not being there, thinking that the conversation doesn’t happen simply because you’re not listening to it. Threat number two is, once you’re actually there and have engaged in social media, letting things get out of hand. So you have to be there nurturing, every day, and be sure to respond to, if not everything, as much as you can. So there are loads of processes and organization: it’s probably easy to do social media for yourselves, but if you’re a large organization then it is very different.

How do you see the future of social media in the corporate world in the near future?

I think the landscape is going to change dramatically in the next few months and years. We’re going to see a lot more governance thrown in to social media and the way it is organized, or rather disorganized right now. There is going to be massive endeavours in terms of how we train people and get them up to speed with regards to social media, and not just the ‘experts’, or the ones in charge, but the entirety of the enterprise.

Video Interview: interview : SMI conference

Facebook’s very traditional advertising campaign

new Facebook advertising campaign

I’m not sure about the purpose of this commercial which I tend to find very depressing and not really inspiring. Facebook is understandably under pressure from its investors for monetising after it’s disappointing IPO and a flurry of announcements were made recently in that domain, not always convincing by the way.

I am neither certain this campaign will help sell on site advertising nor that this will help improve Facebook’s image in the eyes of its disgruntled investors.

Feel free to share your feelings.

of entrepreneurship in Silicon Valley –#blogbus

eye-largeOn day 4 of our Blogger Bus Tour, we met with Carlos Diaz, the CEO and founder of Kwarter and Guillaume de Cugis, CEO and co-founder of Scoop’it, two French entrepreneurs who left their country in order to take their venture to the next level and … change the world! (this post was originally written for the Live Orange Blog)

Kwarter, how it all started

imageKwarter started off with sports. The idea is to use your mobile in order to connect and comment, hangout. There is also a gamification (see my Vlab piece on that subject) angle of using such kinds of applications while watching TV and changing the user experience: the more you engage, the more you get points and also credits and eventually, you are able to redeem your credits to get t-shirts and other freebies.

The start-up decided to tackle sports as their first topic (Fan cake, the first social game to be edited and released by Kwarter is just about that) because “just watching TV isn’t enough anymore. The trend seen in Silicon Valley is to turn each passive experience into an interactive one”. The focus is on American sports only at the moment: American Football, Hockey and Baseball … but it should be a piece of cake (sorry, I couldn’t resist it) to extend it to European preferred games such as football and handball.


[Carlos Diaz, CEO and founder of Kwarter]

Diaz, the founder of Bluekiwi Software, whom I have known for years and I was very happy to see again in San Francisco, started the company in Summer 2011 and did a quick prototype which helped him raise  seed money very quickly. All this is very classic, although many start-uppers tend to forget about it; the name of the game is: prove the concept quickly, put together the technology, build the user engagement model, and find the business model … fast. Things have to go fast in the land of the Gold Rush.

a pivot around the initial business model

“The first idea was to have our own application and build traffic based on our brand. The ten next years will be about Gamification” Carlos Diaz added. In 2011 they Kwarter’s pilot was turned into a platform for other brands because they realised that they had to do this for others, not under their own brand. A few weeks later, they signed a deal with Turner and Bud Light; just that! Turner will kick-start its operation about the Baseball playoff. And we are not talking about small business but “half million dollar deals!”.

Diaz – like many others we saw in Silicon Valley – has managed to make his company pivot around its existing business model and hit the bull’s eye. Well done!

big corporations doing their shopping

“I was really amazed at the way on how large corporations were shopping for innovation in the Valley” Diaz went on. “What we do with Turner will be very disruptive: whatever you do will be displayed on the screen. For instance, as baseball players will be displayed on the screen, an overlay bubble will be shown with comments from Kwarter such as “20% of people believe this player will do a home run!” Baseball fans won’t have to wait for too long for the launch date will be October 5th, 2012.

Twitter (but not Facebook) is paying for TV channels to use its service

“So far we see the Twitter mentions on TV. But Twitter is paying broadcasters for this” Diaz said. “This is why Facebook isn’t seen on TV because Facebook refuses to pay for that kind of display”.


setting up one’s business in the Valley

Is it easy to set up a business here when one comes from Europe? “Sometimes I feel like Silicon Valley is like Disneyland” Diaz explained facetiously. “People are very naïve and they think that building a business is easy but it’s not. Just being turned down in Europe isn’t sufficient to launch a good company in the States” the French entrepreneur added.

“in 1999, Silicon Valley was a boring place!”

De Cugis said that “in 1999 and 2001 Silicon Valley was a very boring place. It all changed with Social Media, when some tech tsars became stars. It took me two years to adapt to the way of doing business here. After six months you realise that if you want to be part of this game, you can’t be part of it because you’re not part of the ecosystem and I started getting very frustrated. Then I realised all this was for real and I adapted to the way I needed to think of this as a real business. One year isn’t enough, it takes two years at least. And partnering is one thing but you need to have a good reason to come here.

living in the Valley is expensive, taxes much higher than France

“This is a difficult move” Diaz went on. “Personal life is very expensive here, even more if you have kids. A house with 2 kids costs $6,000 per month! Taxes are a lot higher than even in France. And this is because life is so expensive that people want to get very fast. This is why people want their projects to take off in such a hurry. People are very focussed on their jobs but they sort of work round the clock and have no vacations. Here there is nothing apart from tech, everyone is in high-tech. Even the salesman from the AT&T shop wants to start his own start-up”.

Scoop’it, from Toulouse to the Valley

Scoopit also went to NYC and hesitated between NYC and Silicon Valley. In NYC, the tech scene is competing with a lot of other things though. “If you go to the local Starbuck’s there, there are few chances that you will bump into a tech entrepreneur” De Cugis explained. “Here it’s a small city, there are only 700,000 inhabitants. You could go to a meet-up every night. And all that happens in Soma, you don’t even need to drive up to Silicon Valley.

setting up your business in Paris is a mistake

Although many would disagree, Diaz declared that “founding your start-up in Paris is a mistake, unless you are into Fashion or if you want to become a leader in your own country. All successful French start-ups (e.g. Meetic, Priceminister,…) aren’t known by anybody here. In order to do something to change the world, to be a game changer, one has to have a large market to start with” Diaz contended.

changing the world is hard

Yet, changing the world is hard… even in the Silicon Valley, and if believing in one’s dreams is important, one needs to avoid pulling the wool over one’s eyes. This, in a nutshell is what I withdrew from that passionate exposé by Carlos and Guillaume.