Tim Yang’s Weblog


Get the Groupie badge on Foursquare

Filed under: Online — Tim Yang @ 12:57 pm

This was originally intended for participants for SXSW 2010. You had to collect all 6 namecards of Foursquare employees at the event. Each of the name cards had a unique badge on it.

Then you had to go to http://foursquare.com/bizcard and click on the badges of all six. And you would get the Groupie badge.

Problem is, people found out about it and passed the list around to people who didn’t attend SXSW 2010.

People like me. ROFL.

Here is the list of the six badges you need to click on to get the free Groupie badge.

  • JetSetter
  • Super Mayor
  • Pizzaiolo
  • Local
  • Player Please!
  • Newbie


Download torrents anywhere: Torrific.com bypasses security

Filed under: Online — Tim Yang @ 1:53 pm

Most offices and universities block torrenting into two very effective methods.

First, they employ a packet sniffer to detect when bittorrent packets are being downloaded and block them.

Second, they block all the usual ports that bittorrent clients use.

These methods still allow normal file exchange, as long as torrent files aren’t being delivered and received.

That’s how Torrific.com (used to be called btaccel.com) bypasses the usual security methods.

Torrific employs a web based torrent client. You tell it which torrents to download and Torrific downloads them to their own servers first. Then when the download is completed, you can download it from Torrific as a normal file.

Simple. You can download any kind of file of any size this way… as long your connection doesn’t time out. Which mine unfortunately does often.


Digital agencies in Malaysia need to stop being digital agencies

Filed under: Online — Tim Yang @ 1:26 pm

I work in an advertising agency with a client that demands integration with digital components. But we have digital agencies in this country that work too much in their own little silo.

Yes, they understand how to build websites but they don’t understand how to market them. Nor do they want to. Simply because they’re not designed for marketing.

Digital agencies here prefer to perform all their marketing online. They keep using the same media: blogs, Facebook, emails etc.

This doesn’t work for two reasons.

In many countries (including this one), we don’t have the necessary numbers of web users. Most of them are centred in the cities, yet the vast majority of the market is in rural areas.

Second, of the small size of online users, digital agencies always propose online campaigns that only sophisticated web users will respond to. We don’t have the necessary numbers. And this only targets a certain age group whereas clients need campaigns for larger markets or different markets.

The solution is for digital agencies in this country to first accept that a purely-online campaign is not feasible. All those case study books and websites they get inspiration from are from countries that have the numbers. They have to stop looking at them and believing they can make campaigns as successful as those.

Secondly, digital agencies need to start hiring expertise with experience in broader campaigns. People who have experience in creating supporting sales and marketing materials like brochures, leaflets, billboards, posters, and of course guerilla media. All the items needed to propagate a URL.

Digital agencies need to stop and ask themselves: “You’ve built a really nice website. But how the heck are people going to know about it?”

Digital agencies need to stop thinking that marketing a website is TCP (The Client’s Problem) and take some responsibility for it.

Digital agencies need to stop being purely digital agencies. And start being a bit more like communication agencies.


I now work with Joomla, finally

Filed under: Online — Tim Yang @ 3:52 pm

After such a long time, I’ve finally broken my Joomla cherry.

I’ve begun creating Joomla templates and using Joomla as my defacto CMS when making websites.

My new personal business website is at http://malaysiacopywriter.com/.


Wifi phones

Filed under: Online — Tim Yang @ 9:43 am

This news about Philly’s metropolitan wifi LAN (MOWLAN) experiment isn’t new news. They’ve been talking about it for years. I came across the story a few years ago when I was researching a new idea that has yet come into fruition.

My idea was to eradicate cellphone networks and replace cellphones with wifi phones. Phones that work using VOIP.

I was inspired by the development of MOWLANS in Kuala Lumpur, Malaysia, where there is currently the world’s largest MOWLAN. Wifi phones would allow calls to other wifi phones to become absolutely free and calls to land-line phones or cellphones anywhere in the world to be cut as much as 50%. Wifi phones use practically the same technology to communicate by voice as you do using Skype.

Wifi phones aren’t new. Currently, they work exclusively with hotspots like the ones at Starbucks or the ones being established by more and more offices. There are two things holding back the development of wifi phones.

First, there is the lack of network coverage. But with the creation of MOWLANS, this is becoming a moot point. Already, MOWLANS have been established in small towns in the US where cabling is harder to setup and maintain than an internet connection via satellite.

Second (and this was the problem with the establishment of wifi phones in Malayia), the cellphone companies are too powerful. They blocked any talk of wifi phones and the spread of MOWLANS using threats of legal action.

So far, the Philly story hasn’t spoken a single word about wifi phones. But I’m pretty sure that VOIP companies like Vonage are already on the ball.


Openomy launches

Filed under: Online — Tim Yang @ 4:44 pm

I just received an email telling me that Openomy.com has launched. Openonomy gives its users the ability to store files of up to 1 gig total on its servers. (There’s no copyright policy on the site that I found so I assume it can be used to store all kinds of video and audio files.) You can add tags to them to describe each file.

But Openonomy isn’t just a file system with tags. If it was, it would just serve as your own private online file catalog. Openonomy also allows its Ruby-savvy users to write applications to manipulate and present the tag data from your file system as well as the file systems of other users. It’s kind of like Ning.com in that sense, but only with the ability to manipulate file tag data.


Free Christmas present delivery

Filed under: Online — Tim Yang @ 1:16 pm

Research shows that most online retailers are expected to offer free delivery this Christmas. So if your online shop isn’t giving free deliver, try shopping elsewhere.

A survey by Shop.org and BizRate Research suggests 79% of online retailers will offer free shipping with conditions such as a minimum order.


Techcrunch on how to pitch your dotcom

Filed under: Online — Tim Yang @ 2:34 pm

This is a great article from Techcruch on ten things that tech companies can do to get blogged. It’s Techcrunch’s wishlist directed at all the PR reps who keep sending them stuff. But it makes a lot of sense. Most tech entrepreneurs already get most of the points. The ones that they keep missing are points 7 and 8.

7. Be descriptive. Tell me what your product does immediately in crisp and interesting prose that is FOA (Free Of Acronyms). FaceBook is a social networking site for college students. Pandora is a music recommendation engine. See? I need more details down the road, but give me something to hold on to before you jump into the cool way you’ve implemented ajax into the FAQs, or whatever.

8. Tell a Story. Bloggers want to tell a story. Help them. Pandora is different because they break down music technically – interesting! 60% of FaceBook’s users log in daily – wow! Writely is allowing people to visualize a world without thick clients – big story!

Tech entrepreneurs always fall in love with their technology. I’ve been pitched ideas revolving around Ajax and Ruby before. But when I respond with “But how is it different from this-or-that dotcom? And why will this-or-that user segment prefer it?”, I always get blank stares and stammering. The things is, tech entrepreneurs almost never think about who will be using their software or how they will use them before they start building them. The key to success always lies with focusing on the users, not on the sexiness of the technology. It’s pure commonsense.


Researching a client’s brands online

Filed under: Online — Tim Yang @ 5:49 pm

Yesterday I touched on the topic of studying a company to make it inscrutable. That’s just one of the reasons I always conduct secondary research (research through the internet and other publications) on all my clients. What I look out for is brand impressions — anything that people think is important enough about a company, its products or its employees to mention. Some of the other reasons include:

  1. Understanding their marketing history and promotion efforts — because their target audience might remember what messages they sent out before
  2. Finding out what other people make of the company, the people who work in it and their products
  3. Finding out who are the stakeholders — people who have interest in the company or its products — and why they have an interest in them

I have a basic checklist of things I do when I conduct secondary research. For dotcoms, I only do internet research and never bother with paper publications, although I do always ask clients if anyone has written anything about them. You might find this checklist of sites useful since I’m not the only one who uses these techniques. I run all the searches for the company’s name, its website, the brand names for its products and the main people behind the company and the people in the development team. (Incidentally, I also run the same searches for each one of the client’s most prominent competitors.)

  1. Google.com — I only scan up to 200 entries unless a lot as been written about the company.
  2. Bloglines.com and Technorati.com — I look out for references in user blogs as well as industry blogs and employee blogs. Regarding employee blogs, I’m not really interested in them except for getting their impressions of the products and the company they work for and how popular their blogs are.
  3. Findarticles.com — I scan for references in the more popular web versions of industry publications.
  4. Whois.sc — I look up whose name is on the domain registration. Sometimes its important to make it anonymous but have the contact details correct.
  5. Urltrends.com — I check the number of incoming links and website prominence to compare with their competitors.

I don’t build a dossier on everything or on everyone. But I do make notes. It’s not important for me to bring up everything I find. Sometimes they just aren’t relevant to my branding objectives. But I do need to know who is thinking what so that I can segment the market accurately into primary audiences and secondary audiences — groups of people to whom I need to allocate my branding budget. Everything is really all about the money and how I spend it. But that’s a topic for another day.


The role and function of marketing communications in product development teams

Filed under: Online — Tim Yang @ 1:30 am

The ideal dotcom startup team seems to be CEO, CTO and COO or CFO. Now it’s all well and good to be product and business focused, but who’s looking out for the people who can make or break a business — the users and the public stakeholders? A CEO’s function is to provide strategic vision, a CTO’s to manage the development of the product and internal technologies, a COO or CFO is to look after revenue and expenditures. All these are full-time jobs with weighty responsibilities. Just as weighty as it is the CCO’s (Chief Communications Officer) job which is to manage the outgoing as well as incoming communications of the company as well as looking after its brands. Yet most dotcom startups completely sideline this essential function.

I had drinks with the joint CEOs of Mindvalley.com last night. Both very bright and clued-in guys who have great ideas for web services and products. They both have great vision and are very experienced at producing winning products and partnerships. And while they do know what their consumers want and how to deliver the goods, neither of them has marketing communications expertise and neither does anyone on their development team. Even while their products are in development, buzz still needs to be managed as first time users try out their beta products and talk about them. And someone needs to create marketing communications plans and execute them. Currently, they’re both handling these functions themselves but chinks are starting to appear. There’s not one but two faux Wikipedia pages to promote their products; glaring spelling errors in their marketing materials; use of a free blog host (Blogspot) for their company blog; and at least one instance of evoking the cliched Google’s Law. None of which set very good impressions on the techie crowd — the quintessential first-adopters. I’m not trying to be picky, but a startup that wants to engage the larger community has to first be inscrutably “Slashdot-ready” (and those guys do way a lot more researching).

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