22 It started with a tweet… #artcups

20140501.1 LC artcupEver since a random tweet led to CubeSocial’s first breakthrough, I have encouraged start-ups and professionals to embrace the serendipity of social media.

What do I mean by this? Having just translated the Russian headline “Работник лондонского Starbucks стал знаменитостью благодаря рисункам на стаканчиках” into English (London Starbucks employee becomes a celebrity thanks to cup drawings), let me explain by reference to Gabriel Nkweti Lafitte’s amazing #artcups

A couple of weeks ago, a friend that I’ve been encouraging to tweet more often let me know that that she was back on the case:image

… then shared her first photo on Twitter:image

A couple of tweets later, I was being introduced to the artist:image

When I clicked through to Gabriel’s Twitter account, I couldn’t see a bio:image

… but did notice this older tweet on his timeline, which led to a conversation about how social media could help: image

As we chatted I learned that Gabriel had “been doing this for years. Can’t help myself. I NEED to draw or write” and that his intricate cups could “take around 12 to 40 hours”…
I HAD to let others know:image   image

Seconds later, I received a number of replies in rapid succession, including:imageimageimage

Richard kept that promise Smile 

Over the next couple of days, Richard widened the conversation to include Simon Redfern, Director of Communications at Starbucks (some tweets, mostly offline).

Less than two weeks after those first tweets, Gabriel’s first piece of press:image

… which trended above Banksy on the day (and is currently at 3.4k shares):20140508 Metro

Gabriel’s #artcups have since caught the attention of BuzzFeed, the Ellen Degeneres Show, Epicurious, GizmoDiva, Starbucks Newsroom… the list just keeps on growing…

Of course, none of this would be possible without Gabriel’s talent – but it’s nonetheless amazing to think that all this coverage can be traced back to a single tweet!

#joiningthedots: you can tweet with Gabriel @_nkweti and via #artcup and #artcups. To see more of Gabriel’s work take a peek at his Facebook page 
… and I’ve just received a tweet about his new website going live today Smile

Now go, and embrace the serendipity of social media for yourself!

Update

In the last few days, #artcups have appeared on the Huffington Post, in Canada, Malaysia, Peru, MexicoFrench, Italian, Spanish, Dutch… but still no news about Gabriel’s work appearing on ceramics. If you would like see ceramic #artcups, please add your support below. If we can get all your comments in one place, hopefully powers that be will recognise and respond to the demand soon!image

How social media helps you do more with less

Are you a small business thinking about using social media? Are you apprehensive about how and where to start?

Vodafone Your Better Business asked me what advice I would give to small businesses wanting to use social media for customer services, and summarised my answers into this two minute video:

When I refer to “query at three”, I’m referring to the fact that customers may now get in touch at three in the morning, because social media provides an option for them to get in touch at their convenience. This does not mean that customers expect you to respond at 3am, just as they wouldn’t have called you at that time in the days before social media… shame that my comments about customers not expecting small businesses to be online 24/7 didn’t make it through the editing process!

The video was filmed and originally shared last year, but I recently learned that it was getting another airing when a friend posted the link onto my Facebook page, and Natasha Davies joined the conversation via Comments to explain why… how appropriate that I should be notified via social media Smile

For the full report from The Perspective series, see Customer Service Beyond Today

10 Publishing on LinkedIn – Privilege or Pain?

20140415 LI invite to pubishBack in February, LinkedIn announced that it was opening up access to its publishing platform to all 277 million users. Before then, LinkedIn had only allowed a small group of selected influencers, such as Richard Branson, Bill Gates and Jack Welch, to write and share long-form blog posts.

20140416 LI Publish.1LinkedIn said that the rollout would be staged, starting with 25,000 English language users. Those with publishing power see a small pencil icon to the right of their Share Box when they are signed into LinkedIn.

The first time you click on the pencil, you will be taken through a Publishing on LinkedIn tutorial… what you should write about, what happens when you publish and “A few things to keep in mind” – reminding you to get permissions and give credit.

20140416 LI Publish.5

If you’re keen to get started and don’t yet see a pencil, you can apply for early access here: http://specialedition.linkedin.com/publishing/

Of course, the official line from LinkedIn is that it’s “a great opportunity” (to strengthen your professional reputation by sharing your perspectives with your network) and when I was granted publishing rights, the email I received from LinkedIn was headed up as “Congrats Linda! You’re invited to publish on LinkedIn”.

Congrats? Perhaps I felt a flicker of flattery, but mostly I pondered:

  • What I would write on LinkedIn… in addition, or instead of, to this blog;
  • If in addition to, how I would find the time (#needmorethan24hoursaday now!); and
  • Having just said goodbye to CubeSocial’s LinkedIn Products & Services tab, what if LinkedIn similarly changes its mind about this feature and “retires” everything that I publish – all LinkedIn publishers need to be mindful that the platform, and therefore the content, is not under their control.

What do you think? Are you one of the first to publish on LinkedIn? How are you finding it? A privilege, or a pain?

CubeSocial and the OpenSSL HeartBleed bug

You have probably heard a lot in the last few days about the so called HeartBleed bug in the OpenSSL routine that is used by many web applications to secure communications. As a CubeSocial user you may be wondering if CubeSocial is impacted by this.

The good news is that CubeSocial does not use OpenSSL to terminate SSL connections. CubeSocial uses a different SSL library which is not susceptible to the HeartBleed vulnerability.

What this means

There should be no need to reset your CubeSocial password, unless you have used the same password on another website that is vulnerable to the HeartBleed bug.  In this case you should reset your CubeSocial password to a unique one that is not used anywhere else.

LinkedIn Company Pages – how to say goodbye to your Products & Services tab

20140409 LinkedIn P&GWith less than a week to go until LinkedIn “retires” Products & Services, I have followed LinkedIn’s suggestions to copy and save CubeSocial recommendations, and request a copy from LinkedIn.

If you’re planning to do the same, you have five days until your Products & Service tab will be removed on 14  April, and until the end of next month to get in touch with LinkedIn Customer Services. LinkedIn have committed to have recommendation data as of 4 March, available until 30 May – but if you want complete data, you will need to act now…  

I couldn’t find any details of what LinkedIn’s copy would include or look like before submitting my request. While I can’t fault LinkedIn’s response time (just under an hour), I was disappointed to receive an Excel file – see extract below:

LinkedIn P&S.1

It seems that approximately 150 words / 1,000 characters (with spaces) have been allowed for the Description field, which has been populated from Product/Service Overviews. For most of our offerings, the end of our descriptions are missing from the LinkedIn file.

And because LinkedIn is restricting their scope to recommendations, despite retiring Products & Services, if you have any offerings that have not received recommendations, not only will the end of your descriptions be missing, but the beginning and middle will be missing too!

Names and contact details of the individuals who took the time to recommend CubeSocial’s Products & Services are not provided. Instead, LinkedIn provides a “Reviewer_Profile_URL” field, e.g. http://www.linkedin.com/profile/view?id=82977862 is Freelancer Journalist and Editor Alison Coleman. It would have been much more helpful to see public profile URLs, e.g. http://uk.linkedin.com/in/alisoncolemanfreelance rather than have to click through an unfamiliar ID number.

Previously uploaded images for each Product/Service are not attached.

Don’t be lulled into a false sense of security by LinkedIn’s seemingly generous deadline. Reduce the potential pain of saying goodbye to your Products & Services tab by getting in touch with LinkedIn as soon as possible. Not only will you receive a record of your recommendations, you will see what’s missing and needs to be copied before your Product & Services tab disappears.

I’m sad to say goodbye… we’ve really appreciated all the time and thought that you have taken to recommend our Products & Services, and, of course, all the B2B leads that your positive words have generated Smile THANK YOU and trust that we have a record of your comments saved to treasure! 

2 #startup your social media

2012-12-28 23.54.10In one of my first interviews about my start-up journey, I mentioned how much I have to thank social media for. After an intense and inspiring day mentoring dotforge start-ups this week, here are my top tips for increasing your profile and serendipity on social media – whether you’re building a start-up or advancing your corporate career.

1. Social media is just another way to talk: I often hear people refer to social media as “marketing”, “something that brands use”, “irrelevant”… but at its heart, business is about relationships, and relationships are built on conversations. Conversations first became virtual via letters, then telephones and faxes, then emails. Social media is fast becoming a hygiene factor in business. Can you imagine telling an important contact that you don’t have email? Can you visualise their reaction? Many will now look at you in the same way if you don’t have a Twitter account!

2. Speak where your contacts want to listen and engage: You don’t need to be everywhere. Discover where your contacts hang out on social media and prioritise those platforms. As a social CRM and social media consultancy, some think it is unusual that we don’t have much of a Facebook presence – but many of our contacts, who are predominately from professional services firms, simply don’t want to talk about work there.

3. Think – old rules, new tools: Traditional best practices still apply, but you can reach a larger, yet more targeted, audience. Social media accelerates the know-like-trust-buy-advocate cycle. The real-time and searchable nature of social media means that you can find contacts and conversations of interest. By demonstrating your expertise and personality, you can become the host of the virtual parties that matter to you – with prospects/investors/employers approaching you, rather than you needing to find and pitch to them Smile

4. LinkedIn is your virtual shop front, Twitter the virtual cocktail party, and Facebook the virtual house party: Dress/speak appropriately! Make sure that your virtual shop front has a great address and would encourage your ideal client/employer to walk through the door. Twitter is incredibly powerful for building your profile and network because who you follow is not connected to who follows you… as with real-life networking events, you can join any conversation uninvited, as long as you have something interesting, insightful and/or amusing to add. Many of our professional services contacts demonstrate their expertise by hosting events. Twitter is a great way to build interest, conversation and engagement before an event, which in turn increases attendance, and social sharing during and after; whereas the same contacts/firms may use Facebook for charity events, summer parties, etc. once relationships have been firmly established.

5. Be social via and on social media: Social media is a wonderful research resource. I now routinely read the websites, blogs and profiles of contacts before speaking with them for the first time – whether in person, or online. Time can be saved and conversations made more relevant when you already know someone’s areas of interest and mutual connections. Relationships that might have taken years to build can now be formed in a matter of months, sometimes even weeks. Don’t join conversations and meetings without this easily available intelligence. And whenever possible, help to #jointhedots / in #joiningthedots – if you take a peek now, you’ll find all the fantastic entrepreneurs and start-ups I met this week Smile

Continuous Discovery

imageWhen Apple launched the iPod in 2002 it took a little over 22 months to ship the first 100 million units. The iPhone hit the same mark after a mere 16 months. The iPad did it in ten. In fact, within only 15 months of the tablet’s arrival, Apple was selling more iPads than any PC maker’s sales of desktop, laptop and netbook models combined.

Imagine creating a 3 or 5-year financial plan for a PC manufacturer just before the iPad launched in 2010 – you couldn’t have possibly predicted what was about to happen.

What’s clear is that disruptions are getting more disruptive and that the pace of change, and more importantly, the pace of adoption is getting quicker.

If we can’t predict such market changes, what we can do is get better at reacting to them.

Continuous Discovery is an agile management technique in which rather than have a dedicated research or discovery phase in a project, discovery happens in parallel with product development.

This is a concept we have embraced at CubeSocial as we continually review the market, assess users’ feature requests and evaluate feedback from product support to create prioritised product backlog items.

Traditionally in the software world you would have a “Product Discovery Phase” where you would come up with several weeks of validated product backlog items and deliver them to engineering. For CubeSocial, and our most recent product, HonestyBoxx, we are constantly identifying, validating and describing new product backlog items. Some discovery work takes a few hours and other things can take longer, but it is an on-going process of ideation, validation and description.

In fact the HonestyBoxx concept of a “micro-consulting” platform where the buyer gets to choose how much they pay came about through listening carefully to CubeSocial users’ requests and tracking services sector trends towards smaller, more targeted pieces of work.

The result of this is that we have products that are a good fit for both our customers’ requirements and the current market situation. And just as importantly, in the case of HonestyBoxx, because we we’ve been so laser focussed on getting discovery right, we were able to build and ship the entire product in just seven weeks.

One final point to note – continuous discovery isn’t only applicable to product development. It can be applied equally well to other business functions, such as sales or marketing. It’s just that in these cases the “product” being developed might be a new pitch deck, financial model or marketing campaign.


Entrepreneur Roadshow 2013

pic4There’s another chance to catch our CEO, Linda Cheung, give one of her acclaimed social media talks at next week’s Entrepreneur Roadshow.  Linda will be talking about her start-up journey, how that lead to the launch of CubeSocial, and what inspired her to launch our latest product, HonestyBoxx.

The event takes place on Thursday May 16, at ViewPoint building on Basing View, Basingsgtoke.  More details here: http://yesyoucanevents.com/.