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What do you think of when I say viral?

The is kinda cool

To me, “Viral” mostly conjures up bad feelings right? Computer virus, swine flu, bird flu, epidemic, pandemic.

So what is So good about a ‘viral’ social media marketing campaign? Are you trying to infect healthy people?  or just sell them crap?

Let’s look at some campaigns that worked:

Target Bullseye Gives

Choose your own charity.

Ford fiesta

Ford gave 100 people a car for a while and let them tell everyone about their experience!

Dunkin Doughnuts

Free stuff - sustenance, prizes and notoriety!


You have to think ‘What is the intention of you marketing campaign?’ Is it just to sell stuff or is there some ‘good’ in it?  Your campaigns will actually be successful if you’re:

  • Helping out
    • Target’s campaign is for charity
    • Dunkin donuts’ campaign worked as they have away stuff.
  • Providing a voice
    • Ford certainly gave their customers a voice by letting them sprout off about their cars!
  • Connecting people
  • Improving businesses

I was interested to see that Laurel Papworth’s Jan 09 list of cool social media campaigns from Australian organisations. They all ticked the boxes from my list above. It includes The Power House Museum, Aussie Defence Force, non-profits and retailers, plus they also

  • provided stimulation for people’s minds
  • raised people’s level of consciousness by making them think - educating them

If you are not aware of any useful things in your campaign, then it is probably wasting people’s time and not particularly successful or indeed sustainable. In fact under viral marketing on Wikipedia is actually states that ‘The basic form of viral marketing is not infinitely sustainable!’

What a waste!

When I was at the recent iMedia Brand Summit in the Hunter Valley (loved it!) much of the conference covered social media and the ability to access huge numbers of people relatively easily BUT

The reality is that if you are doing it purely for sales or personal gain then you have missed the point. In essence a good campaign needs to add value to people’s lives by offering them something they need, or didn’t know they need, online. In this context it is about helping your customers. Make sure you are honest, well actually authentic is a better word.

Think about the ‘core’ message for your customers. What will give them an ah ha moment. Make them realise something that they had never thought of before, never knew.

Truth is, we all know that if we help someone the rewards come back in many many ways. It’s called Karma.


I saw this on my Tweetdeck just now!

Then I looked at and entered Tsunami and watched the Twitter Stream live.

And then I found this from the Bureau of Meterology and find it is a 7.8 earthquake off the south coast of NZ.

Now I will wait for the media to catch up and hope I don’t need to pack my bags. I live at the beach in Sydney.

The power of the internet to get people into action! And perhaps create #TwitterHype!



Social interaction is one of the key areas driving the take up of the Internet in today’s society. As a result, there has been an explosion in the number of social networks that consumers can get involved in, with names like Facebook, Twitter, LinkedIn, Slideshare and YouTube all instantly recognisable commodities. While most people now know what these social networking applications are, leveraging the opportunities they offer, especially in a business or enterprise sense, is something that most are struggling with at this point in time.

This workshop will aim to explore the potential that some of these applications have in improving customer support, market research, brand management, collaboration, marketing and business development.

You will have the opportunity to hear case studies, and more importantly, set up your own profiles on these sites, or to expand on the profiles and interactions you have already established. In doing so, you will learn:

• What the tools are

• How each can be used

• What specific business processes can leverage social networks

• How to convince your boss of its value

• How to manage social networking

and you will get more than your hands dirty!

**All attendees are advised to bring your laptops. You will be required to social network during the day. Yes, I won’t be upset if you aren’t listening to me all the time! After this workshop you will ‘get it’, have the building blocks of a business strategy and be able to demonstrate the benefits of social media to other colleagues and friends.

Date 12 August
Time 8.30 for 9.00am - 5.00pm
Bureaux Sydney, 3/50 York St (one block from the QVB)
$495 plus GST

Here are some quotes from previous workshops:

Excellent presentation and a lot to take back to work”

“I have now entered the twitterverse”

“Very hands-on and lots of great ideas”

“Lots of tips and stuff to think about. Great job!”

“Practical demonstration of Web 2.0 tools”

Please register your interest by emailing jbreeze at
or pay straight away on Paypal!

About your facilitator (me):

Photo of James Breeze

James Breeze

James is a registered Organisational Psychologist and user experience evangelist who constantly seeks out better ways of doing things. His practical approaches to technology has allowed many people to finally understand the social media opportunity and start doing it for themselves and their businesses.

James has 10 years experience across a myriad of user experience, social networking, web and intranet projects having worked with small to medium businesses, all levels of government in Australia, as well as the largest enterprises. He is a seasoned professional facilitator, with over 15 years experience.

He regularly runs public workshops with the Australian Interactive Media Industry Association (AIMIA), Australian Computer Society (ACS), Australian Direct Marketing Association (ADMA), ArkGroup, IQPC and with his clients.

James is an Honorary Associate, Masters Supervisor and Guest Lecturer at Macquarie University and the University of UNSW. He has also lectured at Canberra University.

He has recently started a discussion on social networking in the User Experience group on LinkedIn. Please add your thoughts. Also, check out his new posts on social media here.


My best presentation yet!

A straight shooting slide show all about Twitter for business. You might even learn a bit about yourself too.

See if you can find all the birds ;)

Please share it around and tell me what you think in the comments!


I was reading ‘designing for the social web‘ by Joshua Porter for my UXbookclub Sydney meeting a couple of months ago. It opens with a quote from an article by Douglas Adam, circa 1999. He has has crystallized the importance of social networking for me!

“We are natural villagers. For most of mankind’s history we have lived in very small communities in which we knew everybody and everybody knew us. But gradually there grew to be far too many of us, and our communities became too large and disparate for us to be able to feel a part of them, and our technologies were unequal to the task of drawing us together. But that is changing. Interactivity. Many-to-many communications. Pervasive networking. These are cumbersome new terms for elements in our lives so fundamental that, before we lost them, we didn’t even know to have names for them.”

We are social beings

Porter rightly says,  “people use software to do all the same things they used to do without it: talk to each other, form groups, gain respect, manage their lives, have fun.” Things that humans have always done.  It’s just that years ago our friends and family were walking, driving or a short flight away. It was easy to keep in touch, as they were not far away. These days the situation is different.

As I mentioned in a previous post, I use the Internet to keep in touch with my family and most of my best friends, as they don’t live near me. I feel a need to keep in touch with these people. No! I need to feel connected.

Humans are innately social and must be surrounded by other people.  Those who are not stimulated socially can go insane. For example, the other day was watching Sean Penn’s 2007 movie “Into the Wild” **. It was inspired by the true story of Christopher McCandless who thought that freedom was about being at one, alone, with nature. As he painfully found out, you really need other people around you.

Social support

The graph below shows that psychological distress is correlated with social support.

Dalgard OS.   Association between social support and psychological distress. In: EUPHIX, EUphact. Bilthoven: RIVM,  EUphact\ Determinants of health\ Environment\ Social support, 26 May 2008.

Dalgard OS. Association between social support and psychological distress. In: EUPHIX, EUphact. Bilthoven: RIVM, <> EUphact\ Determinants of health\ Environment\ Social support, 26 May 2008.

Recent research has also suggested that Facebook ‘usage’ is not entirely related to personality. Researchers at Michigan State University showed that Facebook increases self esteem and life satisfaction. Perhaps the need for social support in a person’s life is more important to peoples’ Facebook adoption?

MySpace has been shown to have similar effects.  A short article titled Blogging as a Social Tool: A Psychosocial Examination of the Effects of Blogging by James R. Baker, Susan M. Moore, December 2008 suggested that blogging helps people feel like they have a stronger social support network, possibly because blogging helps a person gain some insight, feedback or perspective on their life and take the results with a grain of salt, however, as 57% of the original participants at the initial time of the first set of measures did not complete the measures two months later” (possibly skewing the results of the data) (John Grohol). The researchers also did not differentiate successful, frequent bloggers from those who may have started a blog and posted only one entry.’ He even writes about that fact blogging might even make you happier!  It certainly makes me happy, as I mentioned in a post last year!

Social software is a forced move. It had to happen, we have to be able to deal with the fact that, in some parts of Western culture, the family is no longer a ‘unit’. In fact, Stephen Andersen suggests that the best social media features/sites are rooted in natural human behavior.

Ambient Intimacy

Leisa Reichelt calls this type of social support Ambient Intimacy

“is about being able to keep in touch with people with a level of regularity and intimacy that you wouldn’t usually have access to, because time and space conspire to make it impossible. Flickr lets me see what friends are eating for lunch, how they’ve redecorated their bedroom, their latest haircut. Twitter tells me when they’re hungry, what technology is currently frustrating them, who they’re having drinks with tonight.”

True but it is actual intimacy for some. They have only a few social networks (friends) where they live; perhaps they work too hard or they are socially inept and don’t like seeing people face-to-face. In that context social networks provide actual intimacy. There is nothing ambient about it!

Here’s Leisa’s preso on ambient intimacy.

The globe has been turned [back] into a village by electronic media”

Some tips on getting the most out of being social online?


Save things on Delicious so you can find them later.  Here’s mine

Once you do this you will see social effects.


twitter / jamesbreeze

Do think Twitter is a waste of time? Do you “really struggle to see the value of an endless number of small thoughts being shoved into the Net” [a quote from a Facebook friend of mine]?

Is it like this 3 minute Twitter Police Video?

Should we be Protecting The World From Useless Tweets?

I was like for the first 6 months after I signed up, did nothing. Then I realised it was a way to keep track of my thoughts and interesting blog topics,without having to write an entire blog post or write in a diary, which I hate. So now I get it…

A psychologist, Elisha Goldstein, links Twitter to the practise of mindfulness.  If you have something on your mind that distracts you from your daily chores, you can use Twitter ‘to be reminded to pop out of the routine or auto-pilot [you] may be in and become more present to everyday life.’ That makes sense to me, I have written a thesis on mindfulness in mediation.

A challenge

PLEASE, do this for me for a week. Tweet about things you like, things do are doing, things that frustrate you about 5 times a day. You are essentially writing a diary. That’s useful and plenty of people have researched the value of writing a diary. Galina Pembroke discussed the value of Journalling here.  Twitter is not quite as ‘deep’ as writing your own diary, but it works for me! Once you do this for yourself, you will see how the social effects can kick in.

Once you are interacting use ‘Groups’ in Tweetdeck to manage where your attention is placed. You can put your mates in one column and your colleagues in another and people who you think are smart and worth spending the time on in another.  However, follow as many similar people as you can, so you have more opportunities to get the interactions you need. If somebody responded to a tweet you should put them in a group too, you know they care about you so care about them back.

Also, remember when you are online and ready to tweet, read what is there in the stream of Tweets at that time and forget about all the rest. If you worry about the tweets you’ve missed it will become a chore and you won’t do it.

Once you really get into Twitter read Problogger’s post abou the benefits of Twitter

He lists:

  • Research Tool
  • Reinforce (and expand) Your Personal Brand
  • Promote Content
  • Extend Audience - Find NEW Readers
  • Networking
  • Previews
  • Speedlinking
  • Story Gathering
  • ind Out What People REALLY Think


View James Breeze's profile on LinkedIn

Do you think that LinkedIn is some social network that is only relevant if you are looking for a job? No!

Think about it as a place to store your resume. I could never find the latest one of my PC! It was also a place to store my contacts for work, that wasn’t on the server at work ;) Now it is a place to keep testimonials from clients! Once I used it personally, then the social side kicked in. I now participate in group discussion, find recruits (one contacted me today), market my business and much much more.


James Breeze's Facebook Profile

Facebook pissing you off? Do you think that it should be banned and that people should be sacked if you use it when you are sick? You need to experience it first.  Use it to organise an event or think of it as an online photo album or use it to find out about what your old friends are doing. Help yourself first. Then you might just start interacting with people.

Social Networking really is valuable - Some stories

I’ve found a few examples to demonstrate that the personal value of a network must exceed the network value for you to get over the initial hump and actually start using one of these new tools. Also, by making it about YOU then your readers will view your efforts as real and they’ll actually take the time to interact with you.

This blogger shows how Twitter was helpful to her daughter when a family member passed away. She was offered support, that was short and to the point,  from 4 friends that were distributed across the US.

I did a little experiment with Twitter and Facebook.  I asked my followers how Twitter had helped their social lives! Here’s some answers:

“It compliments it, fortifies it and adds to it.  Facebook is your online answer to Crown St living: you have a view into the buzz of life but you can choose to interact with it as little or as much as you like. The people who use it as a total substitute for reality are Bad Boy Bubby internet geeks. They give online communities a bad name. Or do they? Maybe these people would absolutely have no friends otherwise?” Ilona

“When you’re parenting small babies and toddlers and find your life morphed from a flurry of work and activity to home alone (well, with the l’il ones) a great deal of the time - Facebook becomes a godsend. Yes it makes up for missing social interaction it provides you with a sense of community and continuity when all else in your life has changed so drastically…” Andrea

“It’s fabulous for those of us who live away from our home.” Dee

Of course, Twitter is in the News right now, with the Iranian elections. This speaks volumes about the value of social networking to certain groups over there.

Please share your stories in the comments

**The Penn movie has a totally awesome soundtrack by Eddie Vedder ;)


I am so sick of people saying that social networking (particularly Twitter) is a waste of time.  It provides people with all sorts of benefits.

  • Answers - I ask questions and they get answered

  • Relaxation - Other people help me sort through the plethora of information available, filtering through the crap and offering me interesting things to read

  • Social Connectedness - I can easily feel a sense of belonging with friends and family spread around the Globe. I can share photos and see what people are up to
  • Objectivity and reflection - When I type my thoughts on my blog, or in Twitter, I can be objective about then and reflect on my actions. It’s a diary and I can revisit it whenever I want, where ever I am

  • Creativity - I think about things lots more these days. When I put those ideas out there, no-one may listen, but I move one step further closer to self actualization

  • Sense of self worth - When people thank me for my posts, add their thoughts, sign up to my RSS feed or Tweet stream. I feel like I have made a difference to people’s lives.

And it is much more fun and a better way to spend my time than being forced fed bullshit on TV.


I hear of many brands trying to work out how to ‘monitor’ all this social chatter online. But they are missing the point if they do not participate. If a brand doesn’t educate itself and change it’s attitude, then it will flounder. It must generate two-way conversations, increase its value to its customers and build relationships. Just as I was saying in my last post.

In his article ‘Empower your social media users‘ Michael Burke, suggests that ‘Social media is about people, not properties or impressions or engagement or whatever else we sales people come up with next.’ He give the following tips on using social media the right way:

1. Users: Understand what users are doing before you decide what your campaign is actually going to be … then ask yourself, Can we offer anything of value?

2. Value: If you can offer value, it is important to not only know, but focus on the fact that social media is all about people.

3. Momentum: The media plan should enable users to build momentum for you, rather than be self-contained. [This is the hard bit, if you have any ideas please let me know! It's like trying to work out if a video on YouTube will go viral!]

4. Metrics: The metrics you need to understand are not about the property itself, but rather about the people with whom you may be able to connect. When you engage with people, not a property, you can actually drive sales, drive results and impact the brand.”

Many companies are afraid to tackle social media, as they are afraid that people might say bad things about them in public. I’m sorry, but people say bad things about companies, governments and people in public, all the time. Fortunately, the Internet allows you, as a company, to take a deep breath, hold on to your prejudices, and listen. But listening is not enough. Once you have done that, you need to do something about it. Proactively deal with things that people say about you or to you. Respond, be honest and authentic. This is well covered in this Smart Company article, particularly in the comments!

You have to rebuild the relationships that drove all our economies years and years ago.  Many companies have forgotten that these relationships are the key to success.


Today I saw something on ReadWriteWeb, the writer bagging out Twitter because too many people get on and do nothing. This is frustrating because, with time, many people will learn the value of Tweeting.  As with everything, some people will never get it, but that’s OK, at least millions of people are interested enough to turn away from their TV and log in!

I read a story recently that looked at social interaction and the evolution of humanity (I can’t remember where! If you know what it was, please tell me!)  Hundreds of years ago, when there were no communications ‘technology’, people interacted with one another in their spare time. They drank, made love, played games, talked, and even went to ‘interactive’ theatre and such.  Then, with the invent of Radio and TV entertainment people became passive, it was all simply push. People sat on their bums and absorbed crap… They still do!

With the invent of the Web people have started to interact again. Descartes once said “Cogito, ergo sum” (”I think, therefore I am”); but in the World of the Web this is not enough. It has been rephrased by a friend of mine, Tim Noonan, to read ‘I participate, therefore I am’.

Two-way conversations are the currency that people must ‘trade’. With Twitter, and other social networks, if you do nothing, you have nothing and more importantly, you don’t get to experience the benefits of the new media.  I also hear people say they can’t understand why their friends or colleagues are obsessed with watching conversations online! They seem to think people are wasting their time.  In many cases that is just not true. People can really leverage social media for social support, social observation, interaction, sharing, learning and entertainment. They are simply doing what humans once did all the time, what we are hard wired to do. That is, to be social.

People have always sought out social interaction of some form. In fact, if you don’t have enough social interaction in your life you will go crazy. It’s almost as important as shelter, food and water.  These days, the technology of travel has meant that family units are ‘breaking-up’. We are all moving around. Kids are moving from the country to the city, interstate, or overseas. And parents retiring and doing the same.  Hell, I’ve had a dozen houses in the last 10 years!  For me, the Internet has become a primary connection to some family members and friends.  It is cheap, easy to access and a very simple way to communicate, to connect.

This New Media is important and it will grow.


I like Word clouds. Here’s a cloud generated from the bios of my Twitter Followers using Twittersheep.


Tweeting is really easy

I do it regularly @jamesbreeze

My blog suffers.

I thought I’d summarise and extend some cool tweets here for those of you who don’t tweet or didn’t see my tweets :)

When redesigning you website don’t forget that it is more than ‘a’ URL. In many cases you should be considering your web presence across many sites.

People expect conference workshops will always turn out the same way. Expensive, five or six people, lots of info, nothing practical to take back to the office.

I turned that on its head for my workshop at the Local Government Web Network conference in August!

Start your User-Centred (re)Design now - a workshop

Join this hands on, interactive workshop to begin on the path to deploying a user centred (re)design of your web presence.  Using real-life case studies as examples, James will help you begin, or extend, your online projects.  At the end of the session you have some ‘real’ deliverables to take back to the office and share with your colleagues.

You will start preparing:

- a web strategy that is aligned with your business strategy
- a plan for integrating your website offering with social media platforms
- a research process for user needs  that leverages offline techniques, online tools and social networks
- user personas and tasks
- user requirements documentation template
- an information architecture template
- a collaborative design workshop agenda, and
- a wireframe template.

Bring your laptops! You will learn how to use some of Objective Digital’s user centred design guidelines; and then start filling out real document templates. Take these back to your web team, and deliver the web project requirements by yourselves!

I promise you will start working on real deliverables using our real templates and guides.Sign up please!

“It’s a water spout you idiot!

About 12 people responded and told me that!

This is a ‘real’ one:


Twitter is handy if you are cooking! If you are making pumpkin soup, add the following if you will!

Blue cheese?
Soy sauce

    Thanks Eva, manandre, cecilialindgren, rutgerontwerp, maadonna, bennglazier

    And the best one Nutmeg and Mace. What’s Mace you say?

    The red stuff.

    Thanks Tim!

    It works, but I wish Tweetdeck had multiple profiles! I’d use that.

    Just some morsels from Twitter. Blog feed fed. Thanks!

    Oh, and my latest Tweets are in the left column of my blog too!