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Global Networks , Individual Freedoms – Notes from The Internet Freedom Fellows program 2012

On June 20th , 2012 I had the unique opportunity to present the Internet Freedom during the 20th session of the United Nations Human Rights Council. Following on from its initiating year in 2011 the 2012 Internet Freedom Fellows ( human rights activists and active practitioners of digital media ) came  from Syria, India, Burkina Faso, Cambodia, Venezuela and Azerbaijan.  Brought to Geneva they participated in a global conversation, webcast from the United Nations, on “Global Networks, Individual Freedoms” . They also met with with key UN agencies, civil society leaders , leading thinkers on the issues surrounding the maintenance of an open and free internet. As part of an overall program they  presented at the University of Geneva , spoke at international schools , met with the Office of High Commissioner for Human Rights and participated in an open forum day at the US Mission on the theme of “Global Networks, Individual Freedoms”.

This years open forum “Global Networks, Individual Freedoms” followed on the “Human Voice of Freedom” program developed by John Horniblow ( the author of this post ) in 2011 and included speakers: Rebecca MacKinnon (  Co Founder Global Voices Online, Author “Consent of  the Networked”, Boards of Directors of the Committee to Protect Journalists and the Global Network Initiative)  Salil Trepathi ( Institute of Human Rights and Business),  David Morgan  ( The Global Network Initiative), Andreas Harsono, Mathias Luefkins (Managing Director, Digital, EMEA– Burson Marstellar), Rosebell Kagumire, Paul Connelly ( Head of Communications for ITU and a former Red Cross delegate ), Brett Solomon (Executive Director Access Now), Dr. Robert Whelan (International Committee Red Cross), and Nicolas Seidler ( Internet Society – ISOC).

 John Horniblow setting the stage and presenting the 2012 Internet Freedom Fellows at the UN Human Rights Council, Geneva 2012.

John Horniblow setting the stage and presenting the 2012 Internet Freedom Fellows at the UN Human Rights Council, Geneva 2012.

My speaking Notes for the Human Rights Council session

There is an innate heritage established in articles 19 and 20 of  Universal Declaration of Human Rights that rightfully covers the global spread of internet connectivity and the use of connection technologies as a medium of  expression and human communication. It unquestionably wrong to think that the internet represents an exclusive medium where these rights are not protected or can be overtly abused.

Today we stand at a juncture point in the history of the internet and the determination of its future. Google indicates that right now 42 countries are censoring Internet, compared to just four countries a decade ago. We are seeing increases in the surveillance and filtering technologies around the world and citizens in many countries are also facing increased levels of censorship and information control. What’s very clear in this, the age of information and connection, is that countries that fear their information are the countries that potentially fear their own futures.

The Internet has transformed human communications and economies and empowered human rights movements as well as civil society. States can no longer exercise exclusive controls based on the notion of a monopoly over information and its flow and I believe that no state can legitimately deny the universal rights that belong to every one – or punish those who exercise them within this medium.

To borrow words from Vinton Cerf is his addresses to the Internet Society global conference  in April , “From the very point of inception of the internet and the development of the very TCP / IP protocols that it was built upon, freedom was the key. Freedom to build networks, freedom to interconnect them, freedom to design”…. Freedom is the fundamental key underpinning the success of the internet.

The Internet as  a global and interconnected medium, has benefitted from open and free policy of connection and information flow. Innovation, economic opportunity, education, community development, civil and rights  flourish in this domain. The Internet is really all about freedom: freedom to speak, freedom to hear, freedom to innovate and with ever more growing importance, the freedom to do so without the fear of  incrimination or harm.

It is not known to many but May 2012, an organization called the Syrian Electronic Army (SEA), a pro-government hacking group, emerged with its website hosted on computer servers belonging to the government-affiliated Syrian Computer Society. The tactics by the SEA and others used to infiltrate activists’ computers and social-media accounts have grown increasingly sophisticated. In February 2012 , reports emerged about “Trojan” viruses being spread through social media, Skype, and e-mail, which among other things capture the infected computer’s webcam, disable anti-virus notifications, record keystrokes, or capture passwords, sending them to a computer address connected to the state-run Syrian Telecommunications Establishment. A fake YouTube site hosting regime opposition videos attacked visitors’ computers with a similar virus.  Unaware or badly informed activists using unsecure methods of publishing and relaying information to the outside world as the Syrian government keep foreign press out of the country, were caught in a new type of government sponsored digital entrapment devised to indentify, and then silence dissenters and keep the news from the eyes of the outside world. To counter the Syrian government digital security resources and assistance we setup in secure networks , allowing activists to continue their online communications and advocacy freely and securely, reducing the risk of exposing their and their networks identities that as we have seen this past year resulted in activist’s  detention, torture and death.

In addition to state sponsored cyber gangs, as the world becomes more connected, top-down regulatory approach, (that often accompanies these activities in some parts of the world) also threatens silence the voice of global civil society in Freedom of Expression and Internet governance debates. Civil society, NGO’s business and government need to partner and civil society has to be more involved in these discussions as a fundamental part of  a multistakeholder dialogue. To echo the words of Vinton Cerf “Governments have a role to play but are not and cannot be the sole arbiters trust and safety.” There needs to be active participation of the world’s netizens in protecting their basic freedoms. This is also critical in the opening up of the internet to the next 3 billion people. It is the protection fundamental human rights online that will strengthen societies, empower individuals and allow economic innovation. These are the cornerstones underpinning social, economic and cultural development not only civil and political rights the proceed them. Free access to information, education, the maintenance of individuals dignities, civic participation, accountability, social and political development are supported in digital connection technologies and these need to be maintained as open and free environments.

 The internet is the echo chamber of the human voice of freedom. The freedoms we cherish and strive for in the offline world must be protected in the online world. Freedom of expression, freedom of assembly and association must be respected in our digital world and supported by human rights law.

Overview of the IFF Program

The Internet Freedom Fellows program funded by the U.S. Department of State and managed by the U.S. Mission to the United Nations in Geneva, brings human rights activists from across the globe to Geneva, Washington, and Silicon Valley to meet with fellow activists, U.S. and international government leaders, and members of civil society and the private sector engaged in technology and human rights. A key goal of the program is to share experiences and lessons learned on the importance of a free Internet to the promotion of freedom of expression and freedom of assembly as fundamental human rights.

The Internet Freedom Fellows 2012

Dlshad Othman (Syria): Over the last year of protests, new technologies have been a lifeline for many Syrians to exercise their rights in the face of government repression.  However, in using the Internet and mobile phones in their advocacy and daily communications, Syrian citizens are exposed to new dangers – from censorship, to sophisticated cyber attacks, to intense surveillance leading to offline harassment. The Syrian government has only grown more sophisticated in its tactics of online repression over the last year.  Yet too few Syrians are aware of how to protect themselves online, and are unwittingly exposing themselves and their contacts to further danger.

Recognizing this threat, Syrian activist and IT engineer Dlshad Othman has turned all of his energies to providing Syrians with digital security resources and assistance, so that they can continue their online communications and advocacy freely and securely. He is the technical mastermind behind a number of prominent activist sites, and has in essence become a one-man standing hotline and emergency resource for a range of Syrian individuals and organizations.

Mr. Othman currently resides in Beirut but also spends some of his time in Paris citing security issues in both Syria and Beirut for his temporary change in residence.

Pranesh Prakash (India): Mr. Prakash’s work is focused on promoting a free internet and online freedom of speech.  He has consistently opposed policy changes that seek to limit access to information online.  His blogs have discussed how Indian government policy has influenced the free flow of information on the internet by blocking websites, web content and online services.  He is considered an expert in cyber law and one of India’s most popular twitterers, and is frequently quoted in the press for his views on online censorship.

Mr. Prakash lives in Bangalore.

Koundjoro Gabriel Kambou (Burkina Faso): Mr. Kambou is a dynamic journalist-reporter at Lefaso.net and also an animator of blogs. He works at promoting human rights and values like democracy and the Freedom of Press. He is active working for social justice and raising his community awareness on these issues. He publishes videos and articles on the website www.droitlibre.tv to sensitize people and youth on human rights. He believes that the Internet is the appropriate way to reach young people and makes use of facebook to convey his messages. Along with many of his fellow journalists, Gabriel campaigned recently on the Burkinabe ex-minister of justice’s case who had made his guards beat a mechanic. As a result of this campaign, the minister of justice was fired. Mr. Kambou is also working for the premium electronic paper in Burkina Faso: Lefaso.net.

Mr. Kambou lives in Ouagadougou.

Sopheap Chak (Canbodia): Ms. Chak is currently the Deputy Director of the Cambodian Center for Human Rights (CCHR), a prominent local NGO, and is one of Cambodia’s leading bloggers on human rights issues. Previously she worked at CCHR as an advocacy officer, helping lead the “Black Box Campaign” to fight against corruption in Cambodia and the campaign for freedom of expression. She continues to run the Cambodian Youth Network for Change, which mobilizes young activists around the country for greater civic engagement, and is a contributing author for Global Voice Online, UPI Asia Online, and Future Challenges.  She has also worked for the Cambodian Institute for Cooperation and Peace, holding conferences and producing publications on democracy, human rights and ASEAN governance. Sopheap holds an undergraduate degree in International Relations and Economics and a master’s degree in international peace studies, which she completed from the International University of Japan. Ms. Chak has been running the Cambodian Youth Network for Change, which mobilizes young activists around the country for greater civic engagement.

Ms. Chak lives in Phnom Penh.

Andres Azpurua (Venezuela):  Mr. Azpurua’s creativity, knowledge, and commitment to civil and political rights have generated important digital tools that have empowered Venezuelans to better exercise their human rights.  In his work with Voto Joven, Mr. Azpurua has contributed to the creation of a digital platform that promotes and defends voters’ rights. He is also the founder of a digital initiative that seeks to build a volunteer base from civil society, with the main goal of strengthening and promoting the right of association in Venezuela. Mr. Azpurua has trained 300 youth on 2.0 tools in order to denounce crimes or events that violate human rights. Mr. Azpurua firmly believes that an open internet is fundamental to the continued efficacy of Human Rights and is looking to facilitate a coalition for the defense of civil and political rights on the internet in Venezuela.

Mr. Azpurua lives in Caracas.

Emin Milli (Azerbaijan):  Emin Milli is a writer and dissident living in Azerbaijan. He worked as a coordinator of the International Republican Institute in Azerbaijan (1999-2000) and as a director of the Friedrich Ebert Foundation (2002-2004). As a consultant and legal expert, he advised the Council of Europe about more than 40 cases of political prisoners in Azerbaijan (2002 -2004), many of whom have been released following pressure from the Council of Europe. He has actively used online networking tools, including YouTube, Facebook and Twitter, to spread information about human rights violations in Azerbaijan. In 2009, he was imprisoned for two and a half years for his critical views about the government of Azerbaijan. Amnesty International considered that Emin Milli was a prisoner of conscience, detained solely for the peaceful exercise of his right to freedom of expression and association and campaigned for his release. He was conditionally released in November 2010, after serving 16 months of his sentence. He is currently studying at University of London (SOAS) and writing his dissertation on “New Media and Arab Revolutions”.

Mr. Milli is now back in Baku, Azerbaijan.

Lead and Invited speaker for the UN HRC session.

Rebecca MacKinnon , who  is currently Bernard Schwartz Senior Fellow at the New America Foundation in Washington, DC, where she does research, writing and advocacy on global Internet policy, free expression, and the impact of digital technologies on human rights. Her first book, Consent of the Networked: The Worldwide Struggle for Internet Freedom, was published in January 2012.

Rebecca is also co-founder of Global Voices Online, a global citizen media network, and she serves on the Boards of Directors of the Committee to Protect Journalists and the Global Network Initiative, a multi-stakeholder initiative to advance principles of freedom of expression and privacy in the Information and Communications Technology (ICT) sector.


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The Human Voice of Freedom , Notes from the Internet Freedom Fellows program – #freedomfellows

“The Human Voice of Freedom” , Notes from the Internet Freedom Fellows Program.

John Horniblow speaking at The Human Voice of Freedom- The Internet and Human Rights at the United Nations Office at Geneva, June 9.

John Horniblow speaking at The Human Voice of Freedom- The Internet and Human Rights at the United Nations Office at Geneva, June 9.

In June 2011, I had an invitation to work with the US Mission to the UN and Institute for Media and Global Governance for the honour of organising and running the inaugral Internet Freedom Fellows Program. As you would expect I am not a new comer the understanding of connected world but have seen the internet and digital communications shift from the hands of the technically savvy and early innovators and empower rest of world digitally. With that change I believe that we have been witness to the emergence of what I would call “The Human Voice of Freedom”, a universal expression of humanity, through hyper connectivity. This is topic runs through my recent work stemming from Connections Across a Human Planet, a photographic book of documentary photography that draws upon geographical parallels to the human condition we all share globally.

The desire or need to communicate and the need to be understood has always been the pre-occupation of the human race. Communication shapes the way societies are built and progress and every person should have the right to express their ideas, their feelings and emotions as well as their hopes for the future. Providing forums, platforms and technologies for individuals to express themselves is an integral part of our free and democratic societies where freedom of expression and freedom of the press go hand in hand with human rights. In the beginning of 21st century the new challenge facing our free societies is Internet Freedom. Internet Access, as detailed by UN Special Rapporteur Report June 2011, is a basic human right. Access to an open and free internet is one of the looming  human rights challenges of our times. More importantly, in these critical times as some governments react in ways to control every aspect of digital connection and communication under the guise of security and intelligence, we need to look to Universal Declaration of Human Rights and t uphold what is  the human “Freedom to Connect”.

In the passing of the Arab Spring earlier this year the use of connection technologies or social media as tools to communicate, organise and distribute news to wider audience became well cemented in the minds of the global public as an alternate media power. While many governments, companies and even media outlets see this as new phenomena, in reality its not something new but something that has been emerging online over a period of the last five – seven years. The use of social media as an alternate source media power in the hands of skilled communicators and connectors has been exercised in many forms for a number of years, even at times involving crucially large numbers of people, either loosely organised or not, for sharing likeminded interests or precipitating political or social change.

During the 2009–2010 Iranian election protests or the Green Revolution, there was somewhat of a online media cyberwar struggling over the containment news reporting of the Iran government violent and sometimes lethal suppression the protests, not unlike what we see inside of Syria today . There was a pivotal emotionally galvanising moment that became the symbol of that failed revolution. A young Iran female student, Neda Soltani, shot by sniper fire,  dying on the streets of Tehran, was captured by mobile phone video and quickly distributed out of Iran via social media. It like may other disturbingly violent news type images and footage, circulated and were picked on on mainstream in a matter of hours. While the Iranian government was busily employing a cyber based secret service media operation to curtail the spread of its citizen’s news and to stop the world from looking and hearing what was going on, it citizen’s sort new avenues in getting their message to a global audience. While it was dubbed the “Twitter Revolution” because of the protesters’ reliance on Twitter and other social-networking Internet sites to communicate with each other many things became apparent. Secret Service cyber agents of Iran’s revolutionary guards waged an information war to mis inform (by diluting and contradicting the news), track and block the citizen journalism that was taking place, anonymous groups of cyber activists rallied against both the Iranian government running DOS attacks as well deploying proxies to aid the dissemination of media being generated on the streets of Tehran, and the persistence of a population to try and get their story heard by what ever digitally connected means they could find prevailed.The likeness to what we saw in Eygpt in February 2011 was uncannily like history repeating itself. For a time the Iranian government shut down internet access and mobile networks across the country to contain the story and to stop the world from looking in. They stopped the news, by enforcing mass arrests and detentions. However, in the case of Egypt the moment they stopped their citizens from communicating and shut down internet access and mobile networks was the moment the Mubarak regime lost its legitimacy and control of the country. At this point the Egyptian people organised further resorting to older technologies and word of mouth and took to the streets en masse, desperate to ensure their voices could be heard and not shut up or shut down.

As a follow up on Secretary Clinton’s February 15, 2011 speech on internet freedom the US Mission to UN sponsored a high profile event at the 17th Session of the Human Rights Council at the UN in Geneva and an Open Forum event for diplomats, NGO’s and International companies on the broad global issues related to Internet Freedom. Highlighting not only the importance of Internet Freedom to the promotion of Human Rights but also the social, cultural, and economic importance of maintaining a free and open internet. On 9th June 2011 seven Internet Freedom Fellows, nominated and selected for their commitment to human rights and freedom of expression online, presented at the Human Rights Council, broadly representing “The Human Voice of Freedom” from around the world.

The selected voices included Wael Abbas, Egyptian blogger and activist; Aung San Thar, video journalist in exile from Burma; Rosebell Kagumire, online and print journalist from Uganda; Andreas Harsono, Indonesian journalist and rights activist; Henda Chennaoui, journalist and blogger from Tunisia; Wen Yunchao, Chinese blogger popular under the pen name “Bei Fung”; and Kwon Eun Kyoung, editor for the online Daily North Korea. Accompanying them on the panel were leading specialists; Ben Scott – Policy Advisor for Innovation, U.S. Department of State; John Horniblow  (authorof this blog)-Digital Communication specialist and Founder of Photojournale; Rebecca MacKinnon- 
Co-Founder, Global Voices
, Board of Directors of the Committee to Protect Journalists and the Global Network Initiative; and Marcia Stepanek
-Managing Director, New Media at US and Partners.

While all the individual human voices in the world could not be invited into the Human Rights Council a virtual two-way exchange brought in outside participants and broadcast them back online. In the history of the Human Rights Council it was first. Live video feeds brought together outside participants and commentators into the audience at the UN. The subsequent impact of the connecting the conversation in the session to a global audience was significant. Inside the UN the Internet Freedom Fellows and others connected to their networks and the pivotal points raised in the session were agglomerated under the #Freedomfellows hash tag on Twitter. #Freedomfellows spread in real time quickly trending as a topic of digital conversation globally. The Human Voice of Freedom became very loud, momentarily dominating the digital conversation space of the world.

Before heading to Washington DC to participate in Blogging for Social & Political Change, the Internet Freedom Fellows, were also joined (in person and via Skype) for an Open Forum day of discussion with leading academics, media producers and practitioners of the topic of Internet Freedom; Clay Shirky, Andy Carvin, Ahmed Zaky producer of Revolution Uplo@ded, Xio Qiang and organizations including Rachel Silver of Movements.org and the Jon Vidar of The Tiziano Project, Yasmin Elayat of Groupstream.

Clay Shirky talks with Wael Abbas via skype

Clay Shirky talks with Wael Abbas via skype- photo by Rachel Silver

During the day many topics were presented and discussed pivoting around the concept of Internet Freedom and exploration of how human rights are promoted in that environment . Both Rebecca MacKinnon and Clay Shirky (via Skype) spoke about, organizing the issue around the differentiation between Freedom “of the Internet” and Freedom “on the Internet”. It is important that we acknowledge that distinction.

Shirky described freedom “OF” the Internet as freedom to the actual pipes and infrastructure of the Internet, and he explained that when there is an attack either by an organization or the government on that infrastructure, and the Internet is shut down, this violates people’s right to freedom OF the internet. The 2nd class, he explained, is freedom “ON” the internet- the right to speech.

Rebecca MacKinnon elaborated on the issue of Internet Freedom by reminding us that both government and the private sector have a role to play in keeping the Internet open and free. She pointed to the example of repressive governments in the East using monitoring software being created by technology companies in the West. She went on to argue that the Nation State is actually not a good unit of governance for the digital world. She posed the question to the room of NGOs and diplomats, “How do we more forward in a way that preserves rights?”.

In a Westphalian world that defines our sovereign states the world of the internet blurs our notion Westphalian boundaries. The concept of the the internet or connection technologies being a global village or marketplace, touching many aspects of our daily life and crossing those geographical and geo political boundaries is one of the conundrums of the free and open internet. In a world where the Human Voice of Freedom exists Henda Hendoud from Tunisia summed it up:
“The world is in the midst of a revolution, it’s not just Egypt and Tunisia. … There is a whole group of youth who only know this new world and it is a world without borders. And that is the revolution.”

Photo Gallery

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Social Intelligence – sexy or not?

Posted by John Horniblow on Apr 4, 2011 in General, marketing 2.0, Social Media Marketing

About 18 months ago I read an article about the new types of jobs the world of digital communications and transactional services had created. What stood out to me was something it named as possibly the newest, and quote, “sexiest” job in the near future and that was the role of a digital communications data analyst.  I made mention of this in a presentation I was doing to a group of fledgling digital agency people on the importance, understanding and application of analytics. Not just the platform or tools, but the action of analysis and turning raw data into decisional data for planning and execution of digital marketing and communications activities. The audience seemed surprised that I insisted that job could be called “sexy”.

So how “sexy” can data be? As a digital marketer working before and through the advent of social media I had learnt that web analytics dashboards were my decisional instruments in triangulating metrics data and measuring the effects of digital media and CRM campaigns, search optimizations, tweaking website performance. I was adjusting and actioning responses to the communications and pushing for maximum campaign successes. The dashboards were also my tools for reporting the successes, holding my agencies to account and justifying increases in digital spends and re allocation of media budgets to activities of deeper audience engagement. I was, in fact, an iterative and precision driven campaign driver, watching and measuring the actions and responses of our digital communication activities day by day and adjusting them to get the best results. If I had an end goal in mind it was not only to maximize the efficiency of our spend in digital channels or prove the ROI of digital activities but more overtly to track and digitally prove a sales conversion in the “Path to Purchase” through digital channels.

I wouldn’t call myself a “digital communications data analyst” and I don’t necessarily believe the role of the data analyst is all that “sexy “ unless it’s clearly defined as, or, contributes as a decisional role. Frankly the “platform jockeys” get boring with their “ it does this, how cool is that”; the excited bells and whistles talk. Let’s face it, collating data for the sake of collating data, is boring and makes no sense at all unless it can be turned in actionable insights. Mapping it and graphing it only collates it into readable forms. While we are also beginning to see more creative interpretations of data, like information flight paths, and geo mapping the real foundation to the role is that intelligence is “sexy”. Intelligence gained through interpretation and, sometimes, the extrapolation of data points can be very “sexy”.

The opening up of the internet through the enabling tools of web 2.0 or the social web means consumers talk about, associate with, and can experience your brands and their communications across a whole range of touch points that have you as a brand have limited or no control over  (and be careful they can interact with you). Through a shifting of digital behaviours the consumer in this environment seems to be in an ever moving target of new social media communities and technologies. The sphere of analytics in recent years has widened to accommodate the shifts and began to include  “Listening” platforms or aggregators of the conversational consumer generated content and news sources. What interesting to me is that while the technographic behaviours change, the language the consumer uses and the way they converse remains consistent. If I was just doing Listening I would have to look hard into the mirror as ask myself is the action of just Listening enough to remain “sexy”?

Social Intelligence is superseding the thinking behind the practice of Listening. Today it’s the new realm of text analysis, semantic understanding and sentiment analysis of the actual data itself. I believe in the next step, which is to really harness the intelligence in this data not only for brands but also for companies, as a whole, and taking the “Voice of the Consumer” to the next level. It will be not only informing marketing and brand business decisions with insights but applying it to innovation, business investment decisions and strategy, PR and company image in crisis and reputation management and even market management by undertaking competitive intelligence reviews. As we know in today’s world digital communication is not only effecting marketing and communication but also touching many aspects of a company’s operations. Social Intelligence and its insights might cross the entire enterprise. Now that’s what I call “sexy”.

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A Review of Social Networking / Knowledge Sharing Platforms

Posted by admin on Dec 16, 2010 in General

One of the largest growth trends in online platforms are the emulation of the large social networking platforms as internal knowledge systems and information sharing platforms that replacing intranets and some

The market is really split between the Software as a service model and the customisable application platform that ranges from the open source , to unlicenced to the large licenced platforms.

1. SAAS – software as a service
I recommend using the four leading software as a service social networking platforms. They varying from a low cost, basic entry platform to an entry level enterprise platform, Igloo. I am wary of the use of free platforms, as there are service and performance, data and user tradeoffs.

The notable exclusion to this list of SAAS social networking platforms is Ning. I founded and ran a Ning network almost from the very first day the network was setup. It was not without it problems but overall I was quite happy with it and its growth. But I am confounded by there shift in business model from being a free service to a paid service and many of the early networks setup on the platform have fled since they introduced it as a paid SAAS platform. Ning should never have changed its business model midstream.

I recently had an issue with a paid network on Ning’s basic plan that I had taken offline and was still being charged for. While the charge is a nominal monthly amount , they offer absolutely no way for you to contact their customer service, get support from them or ask to reverse the credit card payment or even contact them without paying for their premium service. Their online contact or support service is not available for their lowest plan even if its a paid service. No doubt there isn’t an effective system between the actual networks administration dashboards and the Ning accounting system that would stop these issues. I therefore must say I am appalled at Ning’s lack of service, their lack of information and contact points online to resolve the over billing issues and I do recommend against using them as a service. The network has since been migrated off Ning to Buddypress with great success and there are a number of plugins in Buddy press/ WordPress that can help you do this.

- Groupsite
- Kickapps
- Social Go
- Igloo (more enterprised based)

2. Licensed products
As far as I am concerned the five leading licensed social networking platforms to be used as both external and internal networking for companies varying from a basic entry level platform (Social Engine), to midlevel system (Webcrossing) to extensive enterprise level systems. (Mzinga, Telligent, MS, Lithium)

- Social Engine
- Mzinga
- Telligent
- Lithium
- Microsoft Sharepoint 2010


GroupSite is SAAS online social collaboration tool that you can use to create your own social network. Licensing has four tiers based on number of users and storage: Free (but ad-supported), small $29 per month, Midsized $49 , Large $99 per month. GroupSite tries to take the best out of social network applications and collaboration services while merging the best of the two worlds: customizable member profiles, group blog, discussion forum, photo galleries, videos and shared calendar are all standard features. Other core characteristics that make GroupSite stand out are: file sharing, members endorsement, analytics, permission controls, readily-available templates, email digest and more.


KickApps is an SAAS social platform that you can use to create an online group to gather your friends, to manage your employees or to collaborate with your co-workers. With prices starting at $39.95 per month, KickApps provides you with a blog, video- and photo-sharing capabilities and activity streams that help you visualize in real-time on a timeline what other group members are doing. File sharing is also permitted. The cost of a KickApp-powered social group is subject to how many people view the pages of your social network online. No forum discussion nor shared calendar are available. Kickaps is seen a leader /visionary in the social software industry.


SocialGO is SAAS that allows you to create your own social network. It has a similar interface and many Facebook-like features.
SocialGO comes in three versions: a free, ad-supported solution with standard features and an ad-free alternative priced at $29 per month. And a white labeled solution at $19.99 per month. The premium solution of SocialGO allows you to run your own ads and other advanced features like adding widgets to your website and using live audio / video chat. Personal and group blogs, each member has a wall where people can comment and post media, photo and video sharing capabilities, customizable member profiles, discussion forums and shared calendars to keep track of group events. Other features include: activity streams, file sharing, permission controls, readily-available templates, API, Facebook and Twitter integration, email notifications, and more.


Igloo is an SAAS community-building service tailored to business users. Licencing has three tiers , Basic $199 per month., Professional $599 per month , Enterprise $999 per month Standard features of Igloo business communities are: member profiles, blog, photo gallery, shared calendars and forum discussion, collaboration tools . Advanced features of Igloo-based communities are: wiki creation, rating, polling, analytics, real-time alerts, RSS, email reminders, pre-made templates, drag-and-drop interface , integrates with Sharepoint widgets, Blackberry but has no video sharing.

The leading licensed products on the market all have the core social networking elements and then are scalable range of other functional options that can include, ecommerce , event management, high end analytics and integration with CRM systems. The social networking platform is an evolving business segment in online services. It is tracked by Forresters and Gartners who produce regular quadrant based reports.
In its lastest Gartner quadrant for externaly facing social software it was noted “Externally facing social software (EFSS) products facilitate interactions beyond the firewall to create communities among employees, customers, suppliers, partners, alumni and other stakeholders.

The Social Engine social networking platform offers a good basic level licensable social networking platform. It its not clear how it can be built upon , however it does have a standard set of plugins modules that add functionality to the core engine.
Licensed product $250 per domain
Requires hosting on LAMP
Plugins – cost $40 per plugin for all social , blog , quiz etc apps
Template driven, drag and drop layout of plugin widgets
* Blogs, wikis and discussions
* Social profiles, groups,
* Video management and file sharing
* Events and calendars
* Chat , IM
* Polls
* Forums



White labeling social networking platform.
Webcrossing offers SAAS social networking platform – three levels of pricing, starter, middle and enterprise (can be licensed as a standalone as well ) – starting at $995- 19,995
It has two main products to consider.
Webcrossing core is a collaboration server engine that can be built upon to create custom social networks including a huge number of standard and customs services in the webcrossing plugin suite.
Webcrossing Community- fully fledged social networking platform with multiple service/ function based plugins
• Message Boards
• Chat & Live Events
• Mailing Lists
• Polls
• RSS Feeds
• Blogs
• Wiki
• Calendars
• Access Controls (private areas)
• Scripting
• Easy Notification of New Content
• Complete Web service, FTP and Email functionality
• Localization
• Scales to serve massive communities



Mzinga provides a platform and applications to host and manage a community through internal and external-facing communities, in sectors such as consumer goods, retail, healthcare and high technology.
Based Omnisocial suite which has all the expected functions of a working social network.
It has good reporting and analytics
Template driven, good customization features
Good application content , and user management features
Strong language support
The apps, too many to list here but a small sampling:

* Blogs, wikis and discussions
* Social profiles, comments & ratings, polls
* Video management and file sharing
* Event management
* To do lists, surveys & assessments
* Lending library, eCommerce
* Courses (for the LMS)
* Mobile
Pricing is based on SAAS Monthly subscription fee. Subscription fee varies based on whether you are choosing to deploy an internal/private site or external/public site, the monthly subscription fee applied would be based on a user model or page view model.
One time setup fee



Pricing is based on SAAS Monthly subscription fee for a hosted solutions and Licensed product – based on users numbers starting $70,000 approximately.
Telligent offers both a consuemr facing and enterprise community platform with high integration with existing IT systems , sharepoint , knowledge management systems , external applications, and social media networks, inc. LDAP, authentication. It has built itself around supporting Microsoft products so its fits quite well in corporate IT depts and intranets.
Very advanced analytics
Design can be customized.
• Enterprise blogs
• Full-featured wikis
• Rich media gallery
• Private messaging
• Customizable dashboards
• Easy, in-browser customization
• Enhanced search
• Discussion forums
• Question and answer support
• E-mail integration
• Unlimited private or public groups
• User profiles
• Activity streams
• Status updates and replies
• RSS feeds
• Dynamic widgets
• Multilingual capabilities
• External authentication systems for single sign-on



Lithium run a SAAS aimed at enterprise level social networking platforms. It offers the standard social networking features. Lithium provides a hosted community and associated applications primarily to host private-label social networks for an equal mix of business-to-business and business-to-consumer organizations.
High-end enterprise level Social CRM community platform that integrates CRM and social networking.
Full suit of social networking platform functions
Advanced analytics
Standard functions include the following features and more.
• Enterprise blogs
• Full-featured wikis
• Rich media gallery
• Private messaging
• Customizable dashboards
• Easy, in-browser customization
• Enhanced search
• Discussion forums
• User profiles
• Activity streams
• Status updates and replies
• RSS feeds



Microsoft is building a single collaboration platform for both internal users and external communities, and links that platform with Exchange, Office and Office Communications Server. SharePoint 2010 is a broad collaboration platform with which enterprises can facilitate social interactions and manage the growth of informal communities consisting primarily of people beyond the boundaries of the enterprise.
Sharepoint communities allows has most of the standard social networking and knowledge sharing applications .


• SharePoint has the broadest market penetration, in terms of the number of companies adopting it, of any product in this Magic Quadrant.
• Microsoft’s platform focus and the presence of a broad and deep ecosystem of developers and system integrators around SharePoint strengthens its position in the EFSS market.
• Many EFSS customers value the integration of SharePoint when used in the workplace and with other Microsoft products.

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Influencers – The Movie

Posted by John Horniblow on Nov 9, 2010 in General, Social Media Marketing

The INFLUENCERS movie has arrived ! – INFLUENCERS is a short documentary that explores what it means to be an influencer and “how trends & creativity become contagious” today in music and fashion, or for that matter in other industries too. In its own words “The film attempts to understand the essence of influence, what makes a person influential without taking a statistical or metric approach.”

What I find very interesting is the commentary surrounding the film and few salient points mentioned in the film. Lets start with some of the commentary. Film maker Ryan Fitzgerald poignantly writes “A very interesting film. If you read the fine print “by R+I Creative” you may realize that this is a clever advertisement for the creative agency itself. As a filmmaker I understand that media is the ultimate manipulation tool, and by making a film about what an “Influencer” is you are essentially creating yourself as the authority on how to influence people. According to this film, things that are “cool” are eventually things that spread to the mainstream. Which is how creative agencies make money; by bringing “cool” to the masses.”

The other and more pertinent fact is that is that the film about our times and how trends, trendsetters are tapped into but what’s also clever is the buzz and the very special social elements which are part and parcel of the film convergence media model. Its shareable, its available across multiple access points and on other devices ( ipad, smart phones, facebook, twitter, blogs ) people can comment on it. Over and above the veneer of New York hip and cool at the 12 and quarter minute mark as the film comes to its riveting conclusion Rob Cohen of Cornerstone starts to talk about social media effect of influence and the many touchpoints social technologies have opened and will continue to open. This leads to the one very final and relevant piece of interview with fashion editor Josh Peskowitz, where he underscores that the importance of the consumer is paramount and that they are influencing the establishment .. “who knows where that will lead, no of us do…. we got to wait and see”.

I can’t wait for the next episode!

INFLUENCERS TRAILER from R+I creative on Vimeo.

So while the film is the latest or newest thing on the social block, back in 2009 the concept or the use of the word “Influencers” began to the rear its head as a trend in the social media vernacular. In May 2009 I wrote another blog post titled Understanding the Influence Landscape and 2009 the Year of Influence based on the commentary by Ross Dawson (Trends in Living Networks). Its was no accident that this time old marketing concept had come back to the fore. This time it was not dressed up as the media attractive celebrity and brand ambassador and the concept or relational or relationship marketing, it was based on the social influence, a confluence of aggregators, networks , and mechanisms which, was best summed up as:

* The democratization of media, which gives everyone a channel to propagate theirs or others’ opinions.

* Peer trust, which places far greater faith in individuals than corporate advertising and marketing.

* The ongoing fragmentation of mass media, which takes away the power of traditional marketing channels.

* The aggregation of social media, which gives a far stronger voice to the many individual conversations.

I think these still prevail today as elements of convergence culture and Ross’ work cleverly put together the following diagram on the Influence Landscape which while only a beta v 1 still stands the test of hyperspeed in today’s networked world. Its 18 months old and was released almost at the same time as Twitter’s rise to accepted popularity and verging acceptance as mainstream media.


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The Future of Marketing

Posted by John Horniblow on Nov 9, 2010 in General, marketing 2.0, Online Media, Social Media Marketing

Reposted from http://blog.label.ch

as posted on 16th February 2010

A very interesting view from Pete Blackshaw, The Nielsen Company, on what to do and how to prepare for the future of online marketing. Responsiveness is key to success, but also being aware of what you need to respond to and planning for what the consumer might do next. Pete suggests “that there is a new accountability standard that has been put on the table by consumers and that may lead to better advertising” . He also cites the Nielsen research that suggests that “consumers trust each other more than they trust advertisers” , ” if advertisers can figure out a way of co creating with consumers, everybody might win”. Brands should be both reactive and proactive in planning for what consumers might do through better websites and better feedback loops.

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Tiziano Project wins 2010 New Media Award’s Web Site Awards Competition

Posted by John Horniblow on Nov 5, 2010 in marketing 2.0, Online Media, Social Media Marketing

At the last SM@RT event in Geneva , I presented The Tiziano Project via Jon Vidar, the Tiziano Projects Executive Director, to group of journalists, digital marketers , PR and communciations professional as a project that was breaking new ground in transmedia storytelling and social media from the humanitarian angle. The resulting piece of work the Tiziano project has produced just won an award in the New Media Awards web site awards competition.
I think its worth taking a look at. I do think that convergence media will take lots of forms in the next few years. In the realm of media and photojournalism we are already seeing some profound changes. The Tiziano Project is one of these new media empowerment projects that breaks down distance, misunderstanding and creates a vibrant local voice for Kurdistan.

The World I See | The Tiziano Project from The Tiziano Project on Vimeo.

The Tiziano Project | 360° Kurdistan presents the journalistic efforts and personal accounts of 12 Iraqi citizens living in the Kurdish north alongside the stories of their professional multimedia journalism mentors. This is a documentary effort by The Tiziano Project, which provides new media tools and training to community members in conflict, post-conflict and developing regions.

The purpose of The Tiziano Project | 360° Kurdistan is to provide you with a robust and complete understanding of life, culture and news in present-day Iraqi Kurdistan.

The 360.tizianoproject.org is a winner in the 2010 New Media Award’s Web Site Awards Competition. http://www.newmediaawards.org/websiteawards/2010/360tizianoproject.html

The Tiziano Project | 360°- http://360.tizianoproject.org

To find out more about the Tiziano organization click here: http://www.tizianoproject.org

This blog is published and maintained by John Horniblow AKA BladeDigital ™ : On the Cutting Edge

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SM@RT- The fourth social media roundtable

Posted by John Horniblow on Oct 27, 2010 in General, marketing 2.0, Social Media Marketing

SM@RT , the social media roundtable conceived and put together by John Horniblow, digital convergence and  marketing 2.0 expert, while working at LABEL in Geneva  recently hosted its fourth event in partnership with the US Mission to UN. Among the guests were a great number of Geneva-based international organizations’ representatives, some members of the Geneva Press corps as well as several participants  from the  Swiss based watch and food industries , P&G, and HP. The days preceding started with Dr Matthew Mc Dougall, CEO of Sinotech,  who explained to SM@RT’s participants the status and uptake of social media and avenues for digital marketing and ecommerce in China.

craig duncan UNISDR

The afternoon was deeply imprinted by the humanitarian touch with a talk about the use of social media for humanitarian purposes with the intervention of UNISDR (United Nations International Strategy for Disaster Reduction) Craig Duncan and UNHCR Alexandra Eurdolian, and the introduction to two humanitarian projects, one in Iraq, the other in Afghanistan. With one foot in Iraq, the Tiziano Project aims at providing “community members in conflict, post-conflict and underreported regions with the equipement, training and affiliations necessary to report their stories and improve their lives. The World I See | The Tiziano Project from Grant Slater on Vimeo. Jon Vidar, executive director of the Tiziano Project, made a live intervention from Chicago to introduce the Tiziano Project | 360° Kurdistan, which promotes « the journalistic efforts and personal accounts of Iraqi citizens living in the Kurdish north alongside the stories of their professional multimedia journalism mentors. The goal of this initiative is to enable the rest of the world to better understand and apprehend more completely the life, culture and news in present-day’s Iraki Kurdistan. This Is Iraq | The Tiziano Project from Grant Slater on Vimeo. SM@RT’s participants were deeply interested and impressed by the quality of the reports and the originality of the project. Some were then overwhelmed by the presentation of Skateistan by Oliver Percovich, the exsecutive director of this Afghanistan-based organization. John Horniblow SM@RT Skateistan is a non-governmental organization, which aims at bringing young Afghans, boys and girls, from all ethnic and socioeconomic backgrounds, new opportunities in cross-cultural interaction, education and personal empowerment through skateboard. Skateistan connects students with instructors who will help them develop their skills not only in skateboarding but also in languages, arts, information technology, civic responsibility, etc. Students choose for themselves what they wish to learn.
John Horniblow talks via video conference to Oliver Percovich in Kabul
The project attracted a lot of sympathy and a dozen schools and skateboard associations around the world (Australia, Germany, United States, UAE, Peru, UK and Switzerland) became partners. Finally SM@RT concluded with an animated discussion between the participants and Chris Hoofnagle, from the Berkeley Center for Law & Technology at UC Berkeley, on privacy in a networked world.

This blog is published and maintained by John Horniblow AKA BladeDigital ™ : On the Cutting Edge

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BORN HIV FREE campaign

Posted by hivfree on May 19, 2010 in General, marketing 2.0, Social Media Marketing, Viral Marketing

born hiv free

There is this great campaign being launched as I’m writing, and I thought you’d want to know about it.

But knowing is not enough. They need your support to be able to get governments involved. Read, sign the petition, share (on Facebook, Twitter), and ask your friends to share too. Please.

Born HIV Free

We need millions of people to make their voices heard. To reach them we will ask you to spread the message. How many online friends, fans and followers do you have? 100? 500? 10,000? Use ‘suggest to friends’ on the left of this page and invite your friends to join. Let them all know about the campaign. Who wouldn’t want to do their part to ensure a AIDS-free generation?

Campaign resources:

Twitter: www.twitter.com/bornhivfree
Facebook: www.facebook.com/bornhivfree
YouTube: www.youtube.com/bornhivfree
Causes Petition: http://apps.facebook.com/causes/petitions/466

Supporting campaign resources from RED
The Lazarus Effect – Red & HBO

The Lazarus Effect
Bono and Alek Wek on the RED carpet at the launch of the Lazarus Effect

And now, the official press release for those who want more. (Contact details at the end)

What is it?

The BORN HIV FREE campaign has been created to mobilize public support for the work of The Global Fund and for a world where no child is born with HIV (the virus that causes AIDS) by 2015. Originated and supported by Carla Bruni-Sarkozy, Global Fund Ambassador, this is the largest ever digital media campaign of its kind. At the core of the campaign is a series of entertaining films and events intended to inspire people to sign up online in support of The Global Fund’s mission.

Transmission of HIV from mothers to their children has nearly been eliminated in Europe, North America and other industrialized parts of the world. In contrast, in developing countries, 430,000 children are born with HIV every year – that is well over 1,000 every day. The campaign’s main message is that “We can put a stop to this in the next five years. A world where all children are BORN HIV FREE is now possible”.

Launched on 19 May 2010, in five languages: English, French, Spanish, German and Italian. the campaign uses a set of innovative and imaginative animated films across digital and traditional media platforms to spread awareness about the opportunity the world has to ensure a virtually HIV-free generation by 2015 and to generate support for this goal – and the Global Fund’s wider mission of fighting AIDS, tuberculosis and malaria. The campaign appeals to all viewers to show their support by signing their name on the campaign’s “virtual wall of support”.

The campaign will run until October 2010.

Why is The Global Fund promoting this?

This year the Global Fund is requesting its donors to pledge contributions for the next three years. It has estimated a financial demand for up to US$20 billion for these three years. The Global Fund currently channels nearly a quarter of all international resources to fight AIDS, but more than half of the resources to prevent transmission of HIV from mothers to children, as well as more than half of the people receiving AIDS treatment around the world. In addition, the institution channels around two thirds of the resources invested against tuberculosis and malaria.

By focusing on a world where virtually all children can be BORN HIV FREE, the campaign is drawing attention to one of the many ambitious goals the world can achieve if it continues to increase investments in global health. By signing up on the “virtual wall of support”, people can signal to their country’s government that they approve of the use of public resources to fight these global pandemics and to achieve ambitious global goals, such as a virtually HIV-free generation.

Given that The Global Fund relies predominantly on public funding for its resource needs, the campaign is not a direct fund-raising campaign and does not ask individuals to contribute money. It simply asks people – by the simple act of clicking a button – to register their support for BORN HIV FREE and for the work of The Global Fund.

The Global Fund will publicize the levels of interest, awareness and support as the campaign progresses.

How has the campaign come about?

The campaign was conceived by Julien Civange at the request of Carla Bruni-Sarkozy, and co-produced with The Global Fund. The campaign films were produced by Oscar-winning production company H5, as well as by Passion Paris, TWA/MAP and NEXUS Productions, focusing on the promise of life fulfilled for children who are protected from HIV. The animations will be distributed through various social and mass media platforms and be supplemented with a film by the award-winning Swedish animator Jonas Odell showcasing the tremendous advances made in the fight against the three diseases since the inception of The Global Fund in 2002. The campaign web site was designed and developed by red design, and the YouTube channel was developed by type3.

A number of official partners have joined together to support this cause: Google, YouTube, MSN, Orange and JC Decaux.

Why launch the campaign now?

On 5 October 2010, UN Secretary-General Ban Ki-moon will chair a meeting of donor countries in New York where they will pledge financial support to The Global Fund for the next three years (2011-2013) to fight the three diseases. Given the Global Fund’s large share of global financing for the fight against the three pandemics, the level of financing secured will largely determine whether the battle to virtually eliminate mother to child transmission of the virus by 2015 – as well as other targets, such as a end to deaths from malaria and dramatic reductions in the burden of tuberculosis – will be won or lost.

A majority of The Global Fund’s financial resources come from public sources. The United States is the single largest donor and of the top 16 government donors, twelve are from Europe. Japan, Canada and Australia are the other major donors.

Strong support from the public is needed to enable donor countries’ leaders to continue increased investments in The Global Fund so that a HIV-free generation can become a reality.

For more details on The Global Fund’s resource needs click: http://www.theglobalfund.org/en/resources/?lang=en

What is The Global Fund?

The Global Fund is a unique global public/private partnership dedicated to attracting and disbursing resources to prevent and treat HIV and AIDS, tuberculosis and malaria. Since its creation in 2002, The Global Fund has become the main source of finance for programs to fight AIDS, TB and malaria, with approved funding of US$ 19.3 billion for more than 572 programs in 144 countries. It provides a quarter of all international financing for AIDS globally, two-thirds for tuberculosis and three quarters for malaria. For more on the Global Fund see www.theglobalfund.org

What is the link between Carla Bruni-Sarkozy and the Global Fund?

Carla Bruni-Sarkozy became a Global Ambassador for the Global Fund for the Protection of Women and Children Against AIDS in December 2008. At the announcement of her ambassadorship, she declared that one of the ways she wanted to act as an ambassador was to engage the world of art, culture, fashion and entertainment for the cause of ensuring that virtually all children are BORN HIV FREE. The campaign grew out of this commitment.

For more information contact:

Andrew Hurst – Media Relations Manager
Office: +41 58 791 16 72
Mobile: +41 79 561 68 07
Email: andrew.hurst@theglobalfund.org

For more information visit: www.bornhivfree.org
Videos can be downloaded from: www.youtube.com/bornhivfree

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Facebook’s bid to rule the web as it turns more social

Posted by John Horniblow on Apr 22, 2010 in marketing 2.0, Social Media Marketing

I think this article is a must read – http://news.bbc.co.uk/2/hi/technology/8590306.stm
At the F8 conference in San Francisco, Mark Zuckerberg unveiled a number of products he says are aimed at putting users and their friends at the “centre of the web”. It will surely work on the further unseating of Google being the site or service synonymous with internet usage and the webs most used or visited service.

“One of the points Mr Zuckerberg was making was that the web has become a lot less anonymous and Facebook is definitely positioning itself as wanting to be the owner of that information,” said Maya Baratz of the Huffington Post. (Given Facebook’s growing and highly influential size the Huffington Post online publication has dedicated a whole section of its site to news surrounding Facebook which you can read by clicking here.)

Zuckerberg told developers at the f8 conference that the experience will mean a more personalized, social, smarter Web. As quoted from an another article on Huffington Post “Facebook is spreading its wings to the broader Web with new tools that will allow users to see personalized versions of websites they visit elsewhere.

The move could change the way people experience the online world, though it could come with deeper privacy implications. By accessing Facebook’s tools, websites will be able to customize the experience based on the list of friends, favorite bands and other things users have shared on their Facebook profiles.

“The Web is at a really important turning point now,” Facebook CEO Mark Zuckerberg said at the F8 conference for Web and software developers in San Francisco. “Most things aren’t social and they don’t use your real identity. This is really starting to change.”

In its first steps Facebook has changed the semantics surrounding fans “people who like this” – has replaced the former term of “fans.” Facebook has added these new features to its site,
Facebook Like Button

If you haven’t noticed these changes in the past few days take look.

In conjunction with this step it also launched the concept of what it calls Community pages. The concept of Community pages is to revamp users’ profiles to emphasize the pages for bands, books and businesses that users have become fans of. Facebook has started prompting users to essentially combine the two ( a users “Faned” page , and their profile page ) So if you listed The Clash in the “favorite music” section of your profile, Facebook will now ask you to join his page, if you haven’t become a fan of it already.

Facebook has also announced its working to eliminate the FB Connect ‘brand and replacing it with OAUTH – OAuth (Open Authorization) is an open standard that allows users to share their private resources (e.g. photos, videos, contact lists) stored on one site with another site without having to hand out their username and password.

Its also working on projects such as social plugins whch they call GDP (granular data permissions) and continuing to work on user privacy settings.
Zuckerberg said Facebook made sure that its new tools don’t intrude on their privacy. Users’ preferences won’t be logged unless they choose to press the “like” button on websites. If anything, Zuckerberg expects the “like” tools to give people more control over what they want to share with their online entourages.

If users embrace it, Facebook could gain valuable insights that could help it sell more advertising, potentially rivaling online ad leader Google Inc., which typically tailors ads based on keywords in search terms and Web content.

“If I were Google I would be really scared because Facebook might end up with a lot more intelligence than them,” said Alain Chuard, Founder of social marketing firm Wildfire. “Google is just an algorithm, but Facebook could rule the Web.”

So there’s obviously and lot more planned for the near future as the battle for social dominance increases. I wonder what Google will do now since its Buzz launch looks like a knee jerk re action to Facebook’s growing importance and it incremental loses in market share of audience time and visitation online?

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Facebook and SEO

Posted by John Horniblow on Apr 21, 2010 in marketing 2.0, search, Social Media Marketing

Reposted from http://blog.label.ch LABEL Communications

In terms of SEO Facebook has become one of, if not, the largest influencer in organic search today. This is something not to ignore for any SEO oriented marketer or communicator. Its very easy to work out what is driving this .. the sheer size of its user numbers pages and content links have driven it to prominence.

  • 400 M registered users with 200 M logging in each day
  • More than 3 billion photos uploaded to the site each month
  • More than 5 billion pieces of content (web links, news stories, blog posts, notes, photo albums, etc.) shared each week
  • More than 3.5 million events created each month

# source Facebook statistics

Here is a simple list of tactical steps on how to benefit from using Facebook’s SEO advantage (adapted from All About Facebook)

1. Start with a good URL
URLs are critical in search engine optimization. Google (and other search engines) use as much information as possible to determine the relevance of a particular page for a given search. Currently Facebook enables those pages with over 100 fans to get a vanity URL. A vanity URL is the short Facebook URL that helps people easily access your page.

2. Configure Your Default Tab or “Landing Page”
Ensure your landing page contains relevant text. You can set the default tab by clicking the “Settings” link on your Facebook Page and then selecting the tab you’d like to have displayed by default. You can create this page using Facebook’s endemic markup FBML

3. Generate Links To Your Page
If you are looking to drive traffic to your website for organic search the most important variable is incoming links. The number of links, the influence or ranking of the referer and the relevance in content. An easy way to boost your Facebook page rankings is by linking to your page from your existing website. Additionally, any way you can get links from other sites will help increase your rankings. On their own, Facebook Pages rank highly, a little additional work will improve this significantly.

4. Link To Other Relevant Pages
Linking to relevant content helps boost your ranking. Google takes into account the relevance of pages you are linking to when calculating the relevance of any given page. Try linking to a few relevant sites like your blog or website content . You’ll not only help out your readers but increase your overall Google rank.

5. Use Facebook For Inbound Links To Your Company Website
One of the most important components of search engine optimization is generating inbound links. Generating a link from your Facebook page is extremely valuable. Take advantage of landing pages and the information tab to link back to your company’s , or brand’s website.

6. Select A Good Name For Your Facebook Page
The name of your Facebook Page is extremely important. Name the title after your company or whatever phrase will be most effective for fans that are searching for you.
7. Post Keyword Rich Content in the “Info” tab in the page
The Info tab in the navigation bar on your Facebook Page is one of the few areas on your page which is accessible to search engines. It’s also relatively high up in the page HTML which means that search engines will give the text priority over text that’s further down the page. Take the opportunity to ensure that in the Information editing box for yoru fan page you use both links and relevant keyword, rich content. The detailed information can be just that, very detailed.

This blog is published and maintained by John Horniblow AKA BladeDigital ™ : On the Cutting Edge

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Monkeys with Typewriters – Myths and realities of social media at work – A Review

Posted by John Horniblow on Mar 24, 2010 in General, marketing 2.0, Social Media Marketing

Monkeys with Typewriters – Myths and realities of social media at work.

There seems to be a lot of books that are be published about social media, the new digital marketing paradigm, and they are propagating as fast that the exponential growth of social media and networking. Most are, unfortunately, the non-descript how to do, or dummies guide to social media or how to use particular tool or a book rushed to print on hype. For the most part these serve their purpose but will be outdated by the time they publish or contain nothing more that are dry set of repetitive studies presented as a mind numbing, blunt string of wide eyed testimonies that say the “times are a changing”. I must say, save the print and spare me the drudgery please. Then I also must concede, I am not the target audience or buyer of such books.

Jemima Gibbons recently published book, Monkeys with Typewriters is quite different to those aforementioned book types. Its a new and refreshing read, a sparkling gem in a field of proliferating drudgery of “read this now and it will change your life” books. It also poignantly marks the period we are experiencing. Read more…

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The worldwide status of Social Networks – Notes and Statistics on the Internationalisation of Social Media

Posted by John Horniblow on Feb 16, 2010 in General, marketing 2.0, Online Media, Social Media Marketing, User experience

written for  http://blog.label.ch

The most important reason for the meteoric growth of Social Networks is something called “The Network Effect”. This equates to a tipping point when the value of a communications network to its users rises exponentially with the number of people connected to it. In the past year, we have witnessed one such rising star, Facebook ( but it begs the question is it the only one? ). It took 5 years for Facebook to reach 150 million users and then a further 8 months to double that number. Today, according to Facebook Statistics, it has 400 million users. In 2009 we saw Facebook become almost ubiquitous in every conversation swirling around Social Media and social networks. It was the year in which Facebook exploded into a global phenomena, dominating the Social Networking market worldwide as it became an international social network giant. While its dominated the english speaking press and displaced MySpace its not the only Social Network in the world.

To believe that Facebook or english speaking social networks are the only “players in Social networks” worldwide would be nothing short of one sided owed to very narrow perspective of the hyper connected world we live in. According to Wikipedia, there are some 1.5 billion members worldwide. Across the world there a number of culturally, language, local and regionally driven social networks , that both singularly and accumulatively pose the question whether Facebook can dominate the world in Social Networking. As startling as it is, the ” Facebook Network Effect” is not only a Facebook phenomena and its also occurring across other Social Networks in the world , albeit with different speeds.

Read more…

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Whats the Buzz on Google’s Buzz?

Posted by John Horniblow on Feb 12, 2010 in General, Online Media, Social Media Marketing, User experience

Reposted from http://blog.label.ch

When in logged into my Gmail a few nights ago I got a screen that introduced me to Google’s Buzz. At a first glance I skipped over it not wanting to go to deep into a distracting setup that stopped me from doing what I had originally set out to do : check my email . In hindsight I am left questioning whether Google’s BUZZ has any buzz? Buzz will probably have impact on the digital marketing world overtime but its not that apparent at the moment. However, we should take notice of this change. Buzz is a service that aims to compete in the social networking space not unlike the services of Bebo, Orkut ( owned by Google) Facebook, Twitter to take on the likes of Facebook and Twitter, across devices like the PC and mobile phone.

What Buzz is attempting to do is add the social networking features in the burgeoning number of Google’s services, over the top of the existing number of contacts a person has in their Gmail accounts. It has 97million users at its disposal to do this but it does pale in consideration of Facebook’s 400 million users, Myspace’s 130 million user and Friendster’s 115 million users. Google’s published rationale for Buzz is to work a more centralised and sorted approach to social services, sorting out the noise and organising information into a a relevant experience for users. On its blog it says ” With more and more communication happening online, the social web has exploded as the primary way to share interesting stuff, tell the world what you’re up to in real-time and stay more connected to more people. In today’s world of status messages, tweets and update streams, it’s increasingly tough to sort through it all, much less engage in meaningful conversations. “

Read more…

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Embracing enterprise social software and social network analysis – Gartner’s near term predictions on Enterprise 2.0

Posted by John Horniblow on Feb 10, 2010 in General, Social Media Marketing, User experience

Last week Gartner released five predictions for social software for 2010 and beyond. What is interesting for me is that the fast moving, consumer driven, internet always finds itself leading the technology shifts that are ultimately or stubbornly embraced by IT departments for the remodeling of enterprise communications, information exchange, information publishing and distribution. Enterprise 2.0 while in its nascent days has had a steady stream of adoption inside a large number of companies. They have adopted certain collaborative and social technologies into or in addition to their existing intranets, team rooms etc. The emulation of the consumer web inside companies allows the speed and ease of information distribution and social communication and work collaboration inside enterprises to increase significantly . These can be enterprise to employee or employee to employee communications or working groups spread across many locations.

Gartner predicts that :

1. By 2014, social networking services will replace e-mail as the primary vehicle for interpersonal communications for 20 percent of business users.

“Greater availability of social networking services both inside and outside the firewall, coupled with changing demographics and work styles will lead 20 percent of users to make a social network the hub of their business communications. During the next several years, most companies will be building out internal social networks and/or allowing business use of personal social network accounts. Social networking will prove to be more effective than e-mail for certain business activities such as status updates and expertise location.”

Read more…

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Coke Goes Viral With the Happiness Machine

Coca-Cola has launched it first viral video , and in getting a rare success in this type of media play. There is no proven method that ensures a success in viral video marketing other than it has to be entertaining. Funny always seem to work well as a formula, shocking as well, bad taste ( but that could seen as bad for a brand) , unreal or just unbelievable also works. Coke’s Happiness Machine, while only no more than a week old , has close to 800,000 views.

In what seems to be too incredible to be true a Coke machine setup in a university or college campus delivers more than just bottles of Coke. Flowers, balloon animals, a huge sandwich, and an endless supply Coke bring delight and happiness to the students.
As reported by iMedia Connection this is Coke’s first official experiment in viral video following on from another teen connection campaign the “Happiness Factory”.

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What Brands are making the best use of Facebook?

Posted by John Horniblow on Jan 18, 2010 in Branded content, General, Social Media Marketing, User experience
written for http://blog.label.ch

The rise of the importance of the Facebook fan page has become an integral part of companies social media campaigns or presence. Its not hard to understand why. Facebook is the web’s most popular destination after Google ( it is number 1 in Indonesia, Philippines , Malaysia and Singapore ) where the average user spends in the order of 33 minutes per day and its registered user numbers are upwards of 350 million. As the use or entry to a brand’s website are in decline due to a shift in how consumers use the web this days it makes common sense to to add Facebook into the online marketing mix. With number of brand, star, cause or business fans ranging close to 5.3 billion , that means News Feeds to user’s pages are carrying a range of brand content and updates.

View a full review of Facebook’s internal statistics

Last November “The Big Money” part of Slate Magazine, ranked 50 brands that they see as making the best use of Facebook. The ranking is based on factors like number of fans, page growth, frequency of updates, creativity and fan engagement, not just numbers of fans. According to “The Big Money” Coca-Cola is ranked as the brand that makes best use of the social network thanks to its “organic fan-centric page without a corporate feel” and some extremely good apps the currently coin the phrase “Share Happiness” in a campaign to boost the diffusion , awareness and contact with the brand in social media.

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Trend map for 2010 – 2015

Posted by John Horniblow on Jan 4, 2010 in General, User experience

Written http://blog.label.ch

Richard Watson of NowandNext has released this year’s version of the Trends and Technology timeline . The evolution of trends and mapping them to a visualization is a continuing project first started in 2007 involving a collaboration with Ross Dawson of Advanced Human Technologies.

This years map sees a greater expansion of continuing trends and a longer outlook than its previous versions. Whilst open to speculation and and unforeseen events the Trends map includes 5 concentric time zones extrapolating out to 2050 with the closest concentration on the next 5 years till 2015.

The map has 16 main influence lines representing the key drivers upon which the trends occur including; society & culture, geopolitics, energy and raw materials, science and technology, healthcare and medicine, the economy, news & media, retail and leisure. There is a lot more detail on this map than in previous years and its reversion back to the intersecting subway map that shows the dense hubs (megatrends) of converging lines is an interesting metaphor for mapping linked relationships. Read more…

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Four Great Integrated Marketing Campaigns Using Facebook

Posted by John Horniblow on Dec 4, 2009 in General, Social Media Marketing

reposted from http://blog.label.ch

When it comes to using Facebook as the primary point or integrated into the marketing channels, some brand are beginning to find there feet by working with the endemic functions of the service. Lots of brands have also begun an integrated approach to engaging with their consumers to build buzz, distribution and awareness of their campaigns either through or surrounding Facebook. The reality is that Facebook has become the perfect supplement to any website and online marketing efforts and in some cases become a pivotal or primary focus. While not all efforts are excellent here are some that we think are working extremely well.

IKEA’s Facebook Propagation Planning Campaign has used the concept of tagging in an online competition to support the opening of a new store. Some call it a genius use of one of Facebook’s inherent functions. While some of the best campaign strategies in Facebook are simple, and nothing should be simpler than using the default “tagging” tool on Facebook to help create a bit of buzz for an online competition. Users were drawn to the new Facebook profile page of the store manager, who’d uploaded pictures of his new showrooms in a store Ikea was due to open.

“People were told that the first to tag their name on any item, would win it. With the way tagging works on Facebook, the moment you tagged anything, everyone in your network instantly knew what was up for grabs! Subsequently, thousands and thousands of people were flooding the Facebook page in search of freebies!”

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Social Media Pragmatists will win over the Social Media Purists

Posted by John Horniblow on Nov 24, 2009 in General, Social Media Marketing, User experience

Written for and Reposted from htttp://blog.label.ch

Amongst the daily exchange, promotion, and web of connections woven into the fabric of the online movement of social media specialists, yesterday I read a post by Jason Falls, on his blog the Social Media Explorer. It extolled that the social media pragmatist would prevail over the social media purist.

It is one of the most sensible commentaries I have seen in this space cluttered by the usual virtuous publishings – listen first, stop shouting, transparency, need for spontaneity and speed of action , or the big question on how to measure Social Media ROI. Why does it standout as a poignant comment when all we hear is the importance of engaging in conversations and building relationships ( they still are of pivotal importance ) ? For me it’s the action associated to doing and making an impact on the bottom line that Jason is highlighting. You have take notice of the old direct to consumer or relationship adage – “Call to Action “ – what do you want your consumers to do now? ( it is an interactive environment after all ) Buy, learn more, fulfill a service or need, or be entertained?

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