November 2011

What a year I've had, two media 'scandals' in six months. In May I was accused of writing offensive tweets that supposedly meant I couldn't do my job and just last week I apparently cheated my way into winning a new car. Between the two 'scandals' (and I use the word lightly) I've managed to be the most read article on The Age website, the lead story on Channel 10 news and even had a joke made about me by Dave Hughes on The Project. Here are the five things I've learned about handling what is quite a daunting experience for a 22-year-old. 1) Anything can be a story What I didn't realise until recently was that anything could be a story. It doesn't matter if it's pointless or what I would deem 'a non story'. It particularly doesn't matter if it's a scandal for the sake of being a scandal. You might think the content of the story isn't newsworthy, but you have to ask yourself, "What is the headline?". Because if the situation can be condensed into a scandalous headline, the rest of the article doesn't matter. And that's why something as innocent as a tweet or a mention of the word 'BFF' three years ago can apparently be news. 2) Don't feed the trolls It's quite incredible how crazy some people can be. Despite being ill informed and unwilling to be informed, social media has allowed these people a voice. It's tempting to respond to their blatant stupidity or cruelty, but don't. Trolls don't argue with logic so you're just wasting your time, and more importantly any response can be used as fodder by journos to make things worse. Trolls are best left in silence. 3) Don't feed the journos (some of whom are also trolls) Again it's hard not to, but by doing so you're throwing fuel on the fire and potentially getting yourself into another news cycle. The quality of journalism and research in both of my 'scandals' were incredibly poor, yet the best option was to remain quiet and let the story die as quickly as it came. No one ever got in trouble for not making a comment. 4) Do the ground work to win the SEO game Articles and 'scandals' like these hurt people, especially when it comes to their Google results. One news piece could cost you and your reputation years down the track when a potential employer (or potential date) runs your name in a Google search. To avoid this as much as possible, you've got to be proactive. Thankfully I've got this blog that I've been writing for four years and a number of other platforms that help my search results. They will (hopefully) always trump a rogue journalist who decides to use my name. It's unreasonable to assume you'll never be a front page story (just ask 21-year-old Zac!). The best defence you can have to protect your page rank on Google against shoddy journalism is a quality blog or website. If you don't have one, best you get started. 5) Ride it out Once the story breaks, you can't do anything about it. If you've followed the advice above then the story should be dead within a news cycle and the damage won't be too extensive. You can't control how you're portrayed or what people say about you, so you're best to ride it out and remember that in a few days no one will remember or give a shit. It's been a crazy few experiences, certainly not something I want to repeat. Hopefully I don't have to follow these tips myself ever again. Two scandals is enough for one lifetime....

I don't pay for most of my content, and I haven't for a long time.Even my once beloved DVD collection has been replaced by torrents. My music and television shows have long been downloaded and most recently, I've even started torrenting my books and reading them on an iPad.It's fair to say, I don't pay for content. But I want to.I do realise that someone needs to pay for it, and I'd be willing to do so if it was easy and 100% of the money went to the team who produced it.I'd happy throw a few dollars to an author of a book if I knew it was going directly to them (and their editor, etc.) Likewise for a band, and it could even for movies and television shows. What I don't want to pay for is the unnecessary cost of middle men, distributors and physical production. I've just finished reading five Game of Thrones books. I didn't pay for them, but seeings how they kept me busy for the best part of two months, I'd happy give a good amount of money to George R. R. Martin and his crew if it was easy. But I can't find a donation button anywhere, and the only way to 'pay' is to give a large proportion of the money to the likes of Amazon and Angus & Robertson.At the end of an ebook, television series or album, there should be an option to donate/pay, with the proceeds going directly to those who produced it. I know then I'd pay for content instead of 'stealing' it....

I went paint balling on the weekend for the first time. Not only did I leave with a few welts across my back, but also with a feeling of how poorly the business was managed from a digital experience sense. The website was hard to find and hard to use. It wasn't intuitive and lacked a number of features that would make the process of organising 20 guys on a buck's party much easier. Everyone talks about the next generation of entrepreneurs starting up the next Facebook or Angry Birds, but I think there's a bigger opportunity; your everyday businesses, particularly services. Paint balling, plumbing, computer repairs, and car washing; everyday analogue businesses. But unlike their current-day counterparts, the next generation of business start ups will be run by digital natives. They'll have killer websites (personalised, localised and mobile optimised) and will crush their competition in SEO. I'm in half a mind to ditch this advertising nonsense and see what I could make of a paint balling business....

My post Move Fast and Break Things got a fairly good response so I decided to present it to some undergraduates last week. After the presentation I was talking to some students about Angry Birds Blog, the example I used of something they could build. And then I let them in on a secret. Angry Birds Blog wasn't the first thing I built. Nor will it be the last. Some of you may remember an online business I tried to get off the ground that failed miserably. None of you know about a number of other websites I have that get less than 100 hits a month. And as we speak I have another project in the works for people who like beer. It doesn't matter if you build something and it doesn't work. It doesn't have to be a success for you to learn from it. And if it's so bad that you need to pull the plug, then do so and go and build something else. That's the thing about the internet; you can always be building....

About a year ago, I wrote how it was possible to merge unofficial Facebook pages if you had a big enough media buy.However a recent change now means that anyone can apply to have fans migrated from an unofficial page over to an official one, even without a contact as Facebook. Although they don't promote it much, the steps are quite simple and are as follows:You will need to 'authenticate' your official page by submitting it for review here (it doesn't look legit but it is!). This may take up to a few business days to complete.Once authenticated, you can request that the fans from unofficial pages be migrated across to the official one here. Again, this may take a few days.This is not normally the type of content I post here, but I figure it's a great piece of knowledge to have and is usually an easy way to get some fan growth. And at the same time you're reducing the potential risk of your brand in someone else's hands.If it works for you, be sure to buy me a beer sometime....

'Move fast and break things' is a philosophy I've stolen from Facebook's work culture. Anyone who's seen The Social Network movie will know this ideology is at the core of everything they do, demonstrated by the regular Hackathon events they host where programmers stay up all night building for the purpose of building. The outcome isn't necessarily important. It doesn't have to be perfect, nor necessarily functional. But by moving fast and breaking things, they approach problems in a different light that creates new solutions and new ideas. Many of Facebook's features have come out of these Hackathon events. So why am I writing about it? Well, I think it lends itself to great advice for graduates looking to land themselves a gig in digital; Build something. Building something these days generally costs next to nothing. A lack of technical skills is no excuse either given Google is at your finger tips. And the only thing you'll need you should have plenty of as a student; time. Time to move fast. Time to break things. Time to learn. Time to build something. As an undergraduate I built this blog. Everyone's got one now (not to say you shouldn't build one too), but you could build a YouTube Channel. Or an online store that sells socks. Or a video that gets 1,000,000 views. Throw yourself in the deep end. If it fails, pull the plug and build something else. Six months ago I started a website called Angry Birds Blog. Like me, I realised people were searching for walkthroughs, Golden Egg locations and information about the game. The website now receives 95,000 hits and brings in $150 a month. But that's nothing compared to what I've learned over the past half year about SEO, SEM, AdSense, affiliate marketing, design, coding, ad placement and more. And I reckon if you can build something, that's probably more impressive than talking about your empty resume in a job interview. Edit: I sold Angry Birds Blog in September 2011 for a nice little sum....

So how much is an invite to a Facebook page worth? I'm sure there's various conflicting studies out there, so I thought I'd do some research of my own. I asked people how much they would charge a brand to invite all their friends to the said brand's Facebook page. Some said flat out they wouldn't do it, others said they would do it for free and quite a few people said it would depend on the brand. With a sample size of 15 of my Facebook friends, here are the results. So there you have it, conclusive research suggests on average, an invite to a brand's Facebook page is worth 13 cents per friend. If you're taking this seriously (you shouldn't be), this figure is of course from the point of the consumer, not the brand. But what this does mean is that if a brand can offer something worth more than 13 cents for each of their friends, it will be worth an invite. Also, some of my friends are sellouts. ...

Sean Cummins wrote a pretty serious piece regarding anonymous comments on the internet. Here at Pigs Don't Fly I'm a fan of the anonymous commenter. I mean, I've received everything from abuse to death threats, and just last week in a very witty comment I was called a "homo". Yet I still allow anonymous commenting. I do it because complete anonymity is a rare thing and it's one of the interesting unique features of the interwebs. Of course this has it's problems, but let's not forget the anonymous produce some of the most creative stuff on the internet (and not to mention LOLcats). They also do some pretty impressive stuff offline. Sure, some anonymous comments are shit. But you have to take them for what they are. By allowing people to comment anonymously, they're more likely to do so and more likely to express an honest point of view. Sometimes this comes at the cost of your ego or confidence, but they're certainly not going anywhere. (In before anyone, yes I'm expecting a lot of "homo" comments on this post.)...

For the whole of May, I decided to go without my iPhone. Effectively, I went without my iPod, camera, email, calender, Angry Birds, Google Maps and Facebook.It was interesting to say the least. Here's my takeout;Over the course of the month, only once did I wish I had responded to an email faster. Everything else could wait until I got home or got to work.Only a few apps were truly missed; Tram Tracker and Shazam being up there. Everything else is really good at eating up your time and making you very unproductive (mostly games).Instead of listening to music and podcasts on the tram each day, I read three books over the course of the month. Unfortunately this meant I could also hear the amount of rubbish people talk about in public.I stopped checking my phone every five minutes. However, having been involved in a 'news scandal' during the month, it would have been nice to be connected to watch it play out.I could drop my burner on the ground and it didn't even matter. That was kind of nice.And last but not least, I only had to charge my burner three times during the course of the month, and didn't once worry about running out of battery.Good fun, I'm going to try and read one book a month on the tram and it's fair to say I've become less dependent on my iPhone. If you're interested in taking part, I have a free phone you can use, all it will cost you is a beer....

A few months ago a water feature was installed on the corner of Swanston Street and Collins Street in Melbourne. For a while, the large stone wall with water cascading down one side remained untouched. But then slowly people walking passed realised that the leaves from the trees surrounding the feature could be stuck to the wall. Quickly, messages and pictures started appearing. A walk passed this wall each lunch time would have a new piece of art every day. As I've said before, people like to think they're creative. Yet not enough brands create things for people to interact with. This water feature is the perfect example, and it wasn't even intended to be. I wonder what a digital/mobile version of this would look like. ...