The President’s First Tweet

Although social media played a significant role in the election of Barack Obama, the President has admitted that he’s never actually used Twitter.

That changed this afternoon though, as Obama “pushed the button” on a tweet for the American Red Cross, whose Twitter account and use of text messaging donations to the tune of more than $20 million has been at the center of the disaster recovery efforts in Haiti.

According to the tweet, the President and the First Lady are currently visiting the organization’s disaster operation center:

While perhaps mildly disappointing for those that still thought @BarackObama was actually tweeting with his own fingers, the tweet on behalf of the Red Cross certainly seems to send the right message as rescue efforts continue in the earthquake ravaged country.

Five Things You Can Learn About Social Media From ‘Jersey Shore.’

Shared links have a longer shelf life on Facebook than Twitter, and Buzzfeed sends more traffic through re-shares than direct clicks. Those are two key learnings from the launch of a stealth social-media experiment caalled “Jersify Yourself” It is a site created to help gauge the power of spreadable content

Jerzify Yourself was created in January of this year, a week after the season one finale of the popular MTV show “Jersey Shore” that attracted an audience of 4.8 million. The site, written in a few days in Flash, allows users to upload their headshot onto a stylized body and morph themselves into a Jersey Shore “Guido” or “Guidette.” Or as New York’s Village Voice put it: “The gist is Snooki-grade simple: upload a medium-size jpg, scale the image to fit, choose your spray-tan shade, pick your pose — and holy Freckles McGee, you’re magically recast as a human meatball.”

Why did they do this? To evaluate the power of social media and spreadable content. As an experiment, Jerzify Yourself was highly successful in adding the much needed texture to the knowledge of how content gets passed along online. One obvious caveat here is that the observations below are based on a single experiment, so please treat them as such and not as some kind of immutable laws.
Here are five social-media learnings:

1. The Invisible Impact.

If you find yourself measuring the value of referral sources for your campaign, consider their total impact via re-shares in addition to the direct traffic they send your way. Counting only the direct clicks from any site is likely to underestimate the site’s total value; five out of six sites on our top referrers list sent almost as much traffic through re-shares as through direct clicks. It would make for an interesting follow-up experiment to see if this difference holds up for paid campaigns as well as for “organic” content. If it does, and this difference is measured, it would have important implications on how we plan media buys.

2. If It Doesn’t Spread, It’s Half-dead.

Dr. Henry Jenkins once made this now-famous remark about the destiny of content in the age of social media: “if it doesn’t spread, it’s dead.” Having looked at the data, we can now say with a degree of confidence that you’ll still get viewers if your link gets picked up by major online publications, but content that’s designed to be spreadable can nearly double the referred traffic through re-shares.

3. Some Sites Are Read By More Active Spreaders Than Others.

Some sites on the top ten list turned out to be a lot more spreadful (for lack of a better word) than others. Buzzfeed, in particular, sent more traffic — twice as much! — via re-shares than through direct clicks. In fact, the number one direct referrer,, will come last if we re-rank the sites by “boost.” These observations along with our understanding of the reasons behind the differences will influence the way we design online properties meant to encourage content sharing.

It would also be interesting to see if there is a difference in the length of pass-along chains between different sites. On average, the link traveled down two or three generations of users before the chain broke, and chains as long as seven users could be seen.

4. The Speed of Content Depends on the Medium Through Which It Travels.

You know how the speed of sound depends on the medium through which it passes? It’s like that with Twitter and Facebook, and probably other social networks. To repeat an observation made earlier: in our experiment, shared links had a much longer gestation period but also a longer shelf life on Facebook than on Twitter.

For the entire January-May period, Facebook has referred 12,789 visitors, 83% of them after the first week. Twitter has referred 10,549 visitors altogether, 97% of them during the first week. This difference probably has to do with how people access the news feeds on these sites.

On Twitter, the single stream of news quickly washes away older items. On Facebook, older news can still be the front-page material on the individual slower-moving walls. If you find yourself choosing between the two sites for your next campaign, be aware of this difference.

5. Don’t Reach For the Off Switch.

As the 404 errors on formerly popular viral branded destinations demonstrate, it might be tempting to kill the destination site some time after the traffic has peaked. Experts argue that abandoning old micro-sites in their Long Tail phase means leaving money on the table, and the experiment has demonstrated that not only do off-peak sites attract healthy traffic, these visitors can also be more valuable than the rush-hour crowd.

Are You Suffering from “E-mail” Stress?

When is too much e-mail too much? Try 50 or more messages a day.

I just read that according to a Harris Interactive survey, that 50 is the breaking point for employees’ daily allowance of e-mail. Anything more sets their heads spinning.

For some perspective consider a mind-blowing 90 trillion e-mails, or 247 billion a day, were sent last year, according to web-monitoring firm Pingdom.
One in five people say 50 work-related e-mail messages per day is the magic number before they feel swamped. The effect is even more pronounced for smartphone users; 37% feel “overwhelmed” by 50 or more work e-mail, says Jonathan McCormick, COO of Intermedia, a web-based e-mail provider that sponsored the survey.

Here are some of the other key findings.

Small-business users are feeling the brunt. A staggering 94% of small-business employees said 50 e-mails is their limit. Geeze what a bunch of wimps…if I on receive 50 I worry that something went wrong with the server.

Gender makes no difference. Men and women are equally stressed — 94% of men and 95% of women cited the number 50.

Intermedia advises e-mail users to organize and prioritize their digital correspondence, and read and respond to incoming messages that require quick responses. Easier said than done now with the smart phone explosion there seems no escape from the deluge of e-mail

New Rules for Visiting Tsukiji.

Tsukiji is one of the world’s largest fish markets and one of Tokyo’s bigger tourist attractions but it’s not really intended for tourists.
I often visited early in the morning with guests visiting me from overseas. If you got there early and were unobtrusive, you could watch the tuna auction, where buyers gather to bid on hundreds of giant frozen tuna. And by giant I mean some as large as 500 pounds.
This is not really true anymore.

There are very stern security guards/police who will direct you away from the tuna auction and out of the market.

Since May, the market has restricted the number of visitors who can watch the auction. There are two time periods when visitors are allowed into the area: from 5 to 5:40 a.m. and from 5:40 to 6:15 a.m. Only 70 people are allowed in during each time slot.

I could understand the new rule…I was bumped by one of the swift moving fork lifts operating there one morning. They are busy and have no time to worry about the awe struck tourists. After several visits though I began to wonder if they were trying to hit us and actually may have gotten points for taking out foreign visitors!

Registration starts at 4:30 a.m., according to the market, so get there early if you want to be one of the lucky few to attend the auction.

Tuna auction or no, the rest of the market is interesting, with every manner of fish, mollusk and possibly mammal that can be pulled from the sea, awaiting buyers (that’s wholesale buyers, not curious foreigners like me).

There are many great sushi shops at the front of the market, offering some of the freshest sushi available. I usually stop in for breakfast after checking out the market.

What Apple should learn from Tylenol—and fast

I just bought my new iPhone duct tape case…can you hear me now?

In the face of mounting criticism of the iPhone 4’s signal problems, Apple must act fast to do good by its consumers and nip this public relations disaster in the bud before it gets worse.

Apple has two relevant past examples to learn from: Johnson & Johnson, which acted fast to recall bad Tylenol products, taking responsibility and paying damages, versus Toyota, which waited ages this year to recall faulty vehicles, denying there was a serious problem until it was far too late to prevent consumer deaths and serious damage to its brand image.
My duct tape solution…
“Apple has handled reports that the iPhone 4 has a manufacturing glitch that causes dropped calls very, very poorly,” said Al Ries, chairman of focusing consultancy Ries and Ries in Atlanta. “They tried to minimize the problem when they should have done just the opposite—get ahead of the situation by ‘maximizing’ the problem.

“Steve Jobs should have held a press conference and said, ‘I’m appalled at what has happened and I’m going to recall all iPhone 4s and keep them off the market until we have a permanent fix,” he said.

Apple continues to remain at the forefront of the smartphone market with the recently launched iPhone 4, according to British online mobile phone store

With HD video capture, an enhanced 5 megapixel camera and a host of other new features including the highest resolution display screen ever seen on a mobile phone, iPhone 4 has proven to be the biggest product launch in Apple’s history, and coupled with the latest iOS 4, boasts over a hundred new features, according to the site.

Apple’s iOS 4 offers better multitasking of third party applications and an improved digital zoom when taking photos, plus a tap to focus video feature, still offering one the most powerful operating systems to rival that of Google’s Android, Research In Motion’s BlackBerry and Nokia’s Symbian operating system.

However, despite its popularity, iPhone 4 has not launched without its problems, with stock too limited to meet the demand of a booming market, and the notorious fault with the positioning of the phone’s antenna that causes a noticeable signal drop depending on the way users grip the handset.

This issue has sparked heated debate over the recent weeks since the phone’s launch and forced Apple to comment on the situation, which suggested that it was users’ fault for covering the phone antenna by holding it the wrong way.

In the iPhone 4’s case the signal problem occurs when users cover the black strip in the lower left corner of the metal band, which sees the signal bars drop as a result.

Duct tape solutions aside, as suggested by Consumer Reports magazine, this is a major blow to Apple’s image. Heck I would try it, duct tape is the miracle tool for any job. This reminds me of the astronauts on Apollo 13 trying to get back to earth.

Apple, however, continues to claim that the issue is due to an incorrect formula in the way the signal bars are displayed on screen, sometimes mistakenly displaying more signal than the area actually permits.

Whether this fully explains what many believe to be a design flaw is open to debate, but an upcoming software update is set to rectify the problem or simply buying an iPhone bumper—a protective case for the phone—can help eradicate the issue too, according to

None of this seems to have hindered the early success of iPhone 4, which the site claims is fast becoming the must-have device of 2010.

As retailers continue to sell out of the iPhone 4 as soon as it hits their stores, and low stock levels set to continue for the next couple of months at least, Apple will hope to benefit from keeping supply low and demand high.

The solution is painfully clear.
The Tylenol painkiller brand made headlines in 1982 when beginning Sept. 29 of that year seven people died after consuming cyanide-laced capsules of Extra-Strength Tylenol, J&J’s best-selling drug. Those deaths occurred a few days apart in the Chicago area.

While the case was one of sabotage, J&J went ahead and recalled 31 million bottles of Tylenol capsules from the market, offering tablet replacements for free.

More importantly, J&J chairman James Burke took charge of the situation, addressing a press conference one and a half months after the problem arose.

In addition, the company allocated more than $100 million to the 1982 recall and the relaunch of the Tylenol brand.

Tylenol accounted for 17 percent of J&J’s net income in 1981, per a New York Times report filed during the recall crisis. After the deaths, Tylenol’s share of the market dropped to 7 percent from 37 percent previously.

Indeed, many market observers were sceptical of the brand’s future. Yet, Tylenol was back on shelves two months later in tamper-proof packaging and supported by a huge marketing push.

Also, per the New York Times report, Tylenol clawed back share only one year later to 30 percent of the $1.2 billion analgesic market segment.

Watermelon as a Viagra Substitute?

There’s general agreement that natural remedies are part of making a more healthy America but will that make America ready to give up Viagra?

I heard on the Food Channel that scientists from Texas A&M’s Fruit and Vegetable Improvement Center say that the watermelon has ingredients that deliver Viagra-like effects to the body’s blood vessels and may even increase libido.

Phyto-nutrients are just part of what scientists are keeping their eyes on these days, things like lycopene, beta carotene and citrulline. Watermelon’s healthy compounds may also help the immune system, the heart, and the prostate.

Who knew? Maybe the Japanese. Look at this heart shaped watermelon in Fukuoka.

Here is an App we don’t need…Vuvuzela 2010!

Sometimes, there can’t be too much of a bad thing — which would seem to explain the unfortunate creation of the Vuvuzela 2010 app for iPhone and iPad, which celebrates and perpetuates the blood-curdling wail of the ubiquitous horn used by South African soccer fans during World Cup matches.

Just like the actual horns, which came under marked criticism during this year’s matches, use of this app around others will likely be met with outrage, threats of violence, incremental loss of critical brain function and banishment from all match viewings, all of which are well-deserved.

Brands, publishers reap rewards as mobile traffic skyrockets during World Cup

The biggest brands in the world are taking advantage of the huge surge in mobile traffic driven by soccer fanatics seeking coverage of the 2010 FIFA World Cup in South Africa.
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Across all digital platforms—online, mobile, social media, fantasy, games and digital audio—ESPN is dedicating a full month of 24/7 news, analysis, commentary and interactivity around the world’s biggest sporting event. ESPN sold out

its entire mobile inventory before the first World Cup match had even been played, with brands such as Anheuser-Busch, adidas, Sony, EA, Cisco, Hyundai and AT&T targeting soccer fans across ESPN’s mobile Web site, applications, SMS alerts and mobile television.

“You can’t overstate how big of an event the World Cup is on a global basis, and ESPN set this as a priority last June—it’s been a real focus of the company along with mobile,” said John Zehr, senior vice president and general manager of mobile at ESPN, Bristol, CT.

“If you look at the game windows, they’re early in the Western Hemisphere, so mobile becomes a great outlet for people that want to follow the matches,” he said. “There are 64 matches on ESPN’s mobile TV channel, and additional simulcast matches on AT&T’s network.

“We also have an iPhone app we launched back in December when the draw came out featuring live radiocast, alerts for all goals that are scored, scores, push notifications and SMS alerts.”

The event marks the first time that World Cup live matches will be available domestically on mobile platforms.
ESPN Mobile offers all 64 matches live from the first round to the final match on mobile platforms nationwide.

ESPN Mobile TV, available on AT&T Mobile TV, FLO TV, MobiTV, Sprint TV and Verizon VCast platforms, carries 56 matches live in the U.S.

Additionally, AT&T Mobile TV carries the eight live overlapping concurrent matches on a World Cup dedicated channel.

As of June 27, just before the quarterfinals began, ESPN’s mobile Web site, the 2010 FIFA World Cup application and the ScoreCenter application had generated 70.3 million visits and 385.5 million page views to World Cup content.