Wednesday, May 13, 2009

Is Twitter’s way to deal with SPAM justified?

While, my last two blogs were talking about SPAM on twitter and how unwanted, interrupting and noisy messages can clutter your channels making them ineffective and undesirable to use (woops! too much negativity there!), this new update from Twitter, makes me thinking again!

Today’s notification from Twitter to stop @replies from non-friends, is seemingly twitter’s answer to SPAMMERS. I say, a pretty lame one! According to this, you will not be able to @reply to someone you does not follow you. So, here you go – another win for restriction, another kill for the freedom.

And this is a real LOL situation, because if I am a SPAMMER, I can still send “@reply ” So, what does this policy stop?

Why @reply is legitimate?

In fact, there is difference between promoting Best Practices than disciplining. I can site several instances, where I send / receive @replies to and from folks who I know exist but do not follow as I do not care as much. But, once in a while I enjoy the @replies. And I know for sure, I am not alone. From business point of view, if @replies were not allowed everyone who has comcast would be following @comcastcares and vice-versa. Today, @comcastcares guy sniffs around to see “trouble” and “comcast” spoken in one context. As soon as one is found, he sends an @reply “how can we help you” Once that transaction is over, they do not care about one another until again comcast fails for the user. So, now how does this transaction take place? In my own experience, I once refferred my previous company @strongmail to someone. I received an @reply from an email marketer suggesting another email marketing company. Which, I think was a very legitimate communication. Why stop that? It takes away the complete essence of communicating on the channel!!!

I have never liked applications to be restrictive – specially an application that is on the making of cult – just cannot afford to stop some usage / practices, just like that! To me, Twitter’s today’s step just sounds like a work-around for another problem – volume/usage. Another reason that makes me suspicious is Twitter’s scheduled maintenance downtime – On a weekday, at noon PST [We will have one hour of planned maintenance at noon Pacific on Wednesday. Read more.]? Another wrong indication.

At ObjectiveMarketer, we completely rely on the sanity of Twitter. Your health is our life line. Ask us, if we can help. Please do not give us shocks!

Friday, June 20, 2008

Making Product Decisions

Recently, I conducted product feedback and evaluation session, separately, with two customer groups. Both the groups had same Beta product to evaluate and worked in same department but on different projects [clients].

During the first feedback session, the group unanimously rejected a major feature suggestion / expressed indifference. They needed more time to understand the applicability of the feature. During the second feedback session, the other group found the same feature suggestion quite useful, or apparently so.

It was very interesting to note how opinions are emotionally driven and how group dynamics work. It was very easy to fall in the trap and accept the second (positive) feedback to be true immediately [without further considerations]. In fact, engineering actually started considering to stop some other development work to fix some issues in this new feature, based on just the feedback an accompanying developer had witnessed in this session.

I went back to writing my report and considered the following driving factors for the difference in reactions:

First Group
1. Had no emergency in their current project
2. Things were working just fine in their current product suite
3. There was no urgency to scale their current client requirements
4. Were a satisfied bunch!

Second Group
1. There was a gap of a week between the sessions and in between, there was a major outage in the same product suit for this group
2. There was a big frustration and they needed some immediate solution
3. The client was demanding / scalability was important
4. Needed much more than what they had to be satisfied!

When, the second group was shown some features that would solve their immediate problems, they were ecstatic. With the already set "happy mood", everything else shown next was considered to be a major improvement on what they currently have and with group dynamics in action, they went ahead expressing positive feedback for all features, including the one that was not quite accepted / understood by the first group.

It was also interesting to note that the second group found just one aspect of this new feature conclusively useful. However, the tempo of the room was such set that this fact was apparently ignored.

I found this exercise very enlightening! We just cannot make our decisions based on Enthusiasm. However, intuitive it may sound, but it is very important for the Product Managers and Decision Makers to understand not just what the evaluation results were, but also the process in which the evaluations were made.

As for this particular case, I will still want to keep the major feature on evaluation / beta and not invest in developing further. At least in product decisions, first impression is the last impression, does not hold true always! I need to validate the first reactions.

PS: These are my personal opinions and do not reflect the opinions or stand of my company.

Thursday, June 05, 2008

Incentive that works ...

I am reading this book called Nudge.

This book discusses about Economics of Behavior and how we Humans can be influenced to make decision by just a soft hint. Please review the book at the link mentioned above and if you get a chance, read it. It is a very well-written book where the simple decision making scenarios are discussed and how we can contribute to the process, by being, what the writers call as "Choice Architects" are explained.

The purpose of this blog is to write about an idea that I found very interesting in the book. For all of us who have used STD / ISD calls from Indian Phone Booth, know how the conversations go - depending upon how much the running meter shows. I know for sure, if I had a target of Rs 50, I would at the max let it go to Rs 55, or start cutting short my conversation, at Rs 45 if I had only 50 bucks with me. Now, if at home in absence of such a running meter, though we know that we need to control our talk time - we do not care much and make that one extra call every time. The reason is that the Phone Bill comes at the end of the month.

Yesterday, I was watching the local news and came to know of drought situation in California. Government is not doing mandatory rationing, but requesting users to reduce their water consumption. Users who have excess water usage will find a surcharge in their monthly bill. Now, will that really let users stop using water as they normally would? May be to some extent. What if there was a running meter of water consumption installed in each household?

Similarly, we all know our Power bills are at a rise and that excess use adds to the global warming. How often do we remember to turn off the room heater, if we are going out for few hours? What if the Thermostat displayed the cost of using each unit of energy? Users can set a target and as soon as they are close to the target, they can consciously reduce the consumption.

There are numerous such examples where sellers exploit this behavior and make users spend beyond their capacity. The concept of Nudge (soft hint) can be used in either way to influence the decision making.

This is a very strong concept, in retrospection looks so simple!

Thursday, April 17, 2008

I am not gone ...

Just busy elsewhere ... I will be back !!!

Wednesday, February 13, 2008

[Timely] Romance from Ralph Lauren

Have you seen the Ralph Lauren "Romance" commercial on TV? I found it to be a "beautiful" video, giving the right message and at a sub-conscious level, making the viewers want it! Couldn't be a better time to launch the campaign than during the V-fever time!

You can watch this and all the commercials of Ralph Lauren at the corporate website. Just click on "RL-TV" while you are there and you can watch this commercial.

Alternatively, you can watch this and other variations of this commercial at YouTube.

And, did i mention, it was a TV commercial? I watched it on TV.

Tuesday, February 05, 2008

A Change in Perspective

A picture can be taken from different angles. Some angles produce the best shot, some not. But nonetheless, all these angles show the same truth!

Well, the point I am trying to make is that “a change in perspective does not necessarily shifts the core”. Instead, it brings in more variety and options for us to talk, think, and argue about. In organizational context, we often tend to get caught in the “do not touch, it is working” complacency or high “self efficacy” bias of executives.

Whatever, it be, the winning organizations always like to challenge their assumptions.

For now, I will end with a simple suggestion. When you ask your folks to answer Y/N questions – just change the meanings to read as follows:

Y – Why?
N – Why Not?

See, what difference this simple exercise makes. It will charge up the room and suddenly you will see better responses to your Yes and No questions. Don’t believe me? Try it!

Friday, February 01, 2008

Microsft Bid for Yahoo!

My last month's post (Jan 14th) "Microsoft+Yahoo>Google" - the billion dollar question - where I had written about Microsoft's interest in Yahoo, seems to be getting closer to reality. With today's announcement of Microsoft's offer of $45 Bn to yahoo, where at one end Yahoo stocks rose by 60% during the day, Google's dropped. This, in spite of the fact that Google showed 17% growth in Q4, its stock price went down by 7%. As a side note: Q3 profit for Google was 46%. Wall Street is benchmarking Google against Google :)

Anyways, it will be an interesting development and many equations will change if the Microsoft-Yahoo deal gets finalized. It is worth the wait to see what happens next - I surely am watchful.

In my previous post, I had mentioned and I repeat "
But, at $45 billion, is this game worth playing?"

These are some related interesting read, that adds different perspectives to the deal:

CBS News

M&A and the Anti-trust

How it Helps Google - Information Week

80% odds that deal will be successful

India Connection