On buying followers

Here’s a very simple test you can perform at home if you suspect someone has bought their followers on Twitter.

Step one: Read your mark’s tweets. Go back a week or two if you can be arsed.

Step two: Ask yourself ‘would X thousand people REALLY be interested in that? Really?!?’

There is no step three.

PS – read Bill Rundle’s excellent blog post on follower buying for much more reasoned thinking than this.

Update: fakers.statuspeople.com can confirm any suspicions.

Depot (and Bellota)


On paper, it’s easy to wonder if Al Brown‘s Depot is playing a Keyser Soze-magnitude trick on Auckland. No bookings, crowds to battle, wait for ages to sit outside drinking wine out of a tumbler, before being granted access to sit at the bar and eat upper-mid-range-priced food on sharing plates? Well, we did all the above, and still loved it.

We didn’t show up at Depot until after eight on Saturday night, which is quite possibly the worst time to go, but we gained entry at around half nine. The waiting-so-long-for-a-table blow is softened by Depot’s team – everyone is warm, welcoming and scarily efficient. There’s no mucking about once you’re in, drink and food orders are taken immediately, and dishes arrive magically on time as you finish the one previous. I guess the service HAS to be good – it was still absolutely heaving at almost eleven o’clock, and I can imagine Auckland’s dining public, hyped on Metro reviews and awards can be tricky to manage if things get out of shape.

As for the food – we shared the snapper tortillas (delicate and delicious), lamb ribs (melt in mouth stuff) and the Pork Hock as a main. With a crispy layer on top of some extremely tender meat, along with salsa verde and creamy mash potato, the challenge was to create little spicy, creamy, cracking perfect forkfuls every time. My only criticism of the food was the extremely generous servings of fat on the lamb and the pork, the kind you’d cut off if you were at home, but you wolf down when you’re out, ‘cos it’s a special occasion. There’s no doubt fat is tasty, and Depot is not afraid, to say the least.

We left plenty on the menu to explore (LIKE DESERT!), and we’ll be back, probably targeting a less frantic time of the week. I hear their breakfasts are very good. Depot is fantastic – and probably deserves its supreme award in the Metro. It’s a really different night out and the busyness and buzzyness are infectious. Recommended.

During our wait for a table, we snuck across to Bellotta – and had a great time. It’s a neat room, and two of the little tapas we had were sublime, the cassava chips and the dish with two types of sausages, fava beans and grapes. We’re keen to go back and try some more dishes there too, also recommended.

What did we learn?

This last couple of weeks I was lucky enough to:

Speak at the Social Media and Mobile Apps forum, with a Telecom case study; “Social and corporate values – making them play nicely”

Attend The Flying Social Network’s The Social Media Breakfast

Both were fine events, and they made me think about conferences and expectations.  If there’s one thing ‘social’ ‘media’ has been good at, it’s creating conferences. And nobody is happy about them, if you read the Twitter commentary. They’re too ‘101’. They’re just an argument about why you should do social media. The presenters just read this shit on Mashable this morning*.

I’m just wondering what people expect. In the information-diarrhoea age we live in, there is no shortage of social media how-tos, gossip, case studies and news on the internet. It’s highly unlikely that a presenter will give birth, live on stage, to a unique information snowflake that will instantly make everything crystal clear and can be readily adapted to make your own SM strategy roar like a some kind of online Harley Davidson.

It’s worth remembering that this stuff is still new to most people, especially if they’re not among the daily-Mashable-reading set. It seemed to me that at the SoMo forum in particular, many of the audience WERE there for a 101. Fair enough, and that’s pretty much what they got for their money.

Over at Air NZ’s event, Wildfire’s Jessica Gilmartin gave a fairly 101 level presentation and the twitter hashtags lit up, railing against the basic level it was pitched at, as well as a lack of local case studies. But when Randi Zuckerburg gave her top ten ‘what’s hot’ tips, which included mobile, gamification and curation, the audience gave her a considerably easier ride than Gilmartin, despite many of the hot tips having been around long enough to cool off somewhat by now. It helped that RZ was generous with the war stories about Facebook’s early days and appeared relaxed, charming and to be thoroughly enjoying herself. She’s a great presenter, so folk were willing to forgive the content, which I dare say you could have largely googled up yourself, saving yourself the early start and $75.

So what about conferences then? Should you bother? Yes, because there’s other actual humans there articulating the problems and solutions they’re working on, both on stage and over shit coffee. There’s a limited pool of both presenters and potential attendees for social media conferences in NZ, so maybe we should just decide if we can take the time to attend, and if we can, STFU and take the day on its merits and enjoy meeting new folk and catching up with old ones. Or maybe I shouldn’t read so much into the Twitter conversation.

*Incidentally, at both these events, at least one presenter advised reading Mashable. One specified ‘every day’.

Flight Of The Concords, Vector Arena


Thoroughly enjoyed the Concords. Ever since I learned Bret is a Harry Nilsson fan, I’ve been hearing little touches of Harry in his music – his tune that incorporated a bus tour guide and inter-marital affairs definitely had it. Musical comedy is hard to a) pull off and b) sustain, but Bret’s music, Jermaine’s sexually charged nerdly self assurance and their easy stage presence had me and the rest of the arena forgetting we were in an aren and laughing, whooping and cheering for the entire show. Recommended, as was warm up act Arj Barker.

Hear me say ‘um’ and ‘yinnow’ a lot

Dylan and Morgan at the @discoursenz podcast were kind enough to have me on the show, to talk @telecomnz.

My bit is from about four minutes in, and goes for about ten minutes. I hang around for some of the rest of it too.

Discourse NZ Episode 3.12: Minty Fresh

I enjoyed myself – it’s quite an experience to appear on a podcast you listen to every week, you have to keep reminding yourself you’re *on*, not just listening to an episode at your computer and that you really should say something every now and again.

If you don’t listen to Discourse, you should. It’s not easy putting together an hour’s worth of interesting, funny and well produced audio every week, and the chaps are doing it for free. Get in there, rate the show, etc.


Your blog, Twitter and LinkedIn* are your shtick. My shtick is apparently a stream of unrelated stills from films with me clumsily Photo Shopped in, probably saying ‘work shy’ and ‘limited Photo Shop skills’ to any potential employer. Here goes.

Previous edition

*probably not your LinkedIn

Alien – bonus corridor related link
Billions of stupid avatar barnacles
About to blow this thing and go home
Me and Kirky with NZ’s (other) World Cup
Teen idol
Ready for lift off
Remember caring about screensavers?
“Why does it say paper jam when there is no paper jam? I swear to God, one of these days, I just kick this piece of shit out the window.”
These days are on
Turn to the right
All work no play makes Richard a dull boy
Never change the default desktop
Ringo is a tremendously under-rated drummer

Cheating on Flickr

Once, Flickr was THE photo site, with one of great early online communities, formed around a shared love of photography.

All the proper photographers I know are on Flickr. Me, I’ve got 1450 images and videos there. I get a free Pro account though my *cough* marvellous ISP – with this, I can upload all the photos I like at full resolution – making it my online backup for photos I want to keep safe forever more.

But – I’ve been messing with something I shouldn’t have been messing with. Instagram photos ran through my Twitter stream, with a 70s-hued-glow array of cats, sunsets and food (ref: @textinstagram). Without having actually used it, I’d always scorned Instagram’s hipster filters and iOS-only elitism. Bah. Humbug, etc.

Still, when the Android app was released, I signed up (ahem) out of curiosity. And saw what all the fuss was about – the mobile app is marvellous. A never ending stream of creativity from people you know, with basic but easy to use social features is a wonderful thing to have at your fingertips.

Photography-wise, I don’t like the filters – they seem a bit knowing, self-conscious or just plain hipster-ish to me. The ‘square frame’ limitation is a pain and explains why so many Instagram photos are close ups of whatever’s to hand. I’m getting my head around the fact Instagram is MOBILE ONLY – the web presence is spartan like an Australian’s capacity to understand jandal-situation-appropriateness, but everyone seems pretty comfortable with it.

Where I’m at now is this:

  • Flickr is my home for photos (and videos) of the kids, photos taken on my ‘proper’ cameras and photos I generally want to keep and back up online in one place. That includes non-Instagram pictures taken on my phone, ‘nicer ones’ I guess
  • Instagram is my home for everyday photos, ones I care less about (if you get me), but want to share on the internet. The mobile internet, anyway. It IS fun, for sure

I’ve invested a lot of time and effort into Flickr, am proud of my little collection and the story it tells about my little family (my kids’ photos are behind a security layer, sorry!). Where Instagram has turned my head is its tremendous mobile app and associated ease of sharing. When Flickr’s own mobile app, which is sadly lacking, catches up, it may be able to compete, if it can get all those hipsters to use the same photo service their Dad does.

Update – just found this today: How Yahoo killed Flickr

Social Media Club Hamilton

Being a Waikato chap, I was pleased and honoured to be guest speaker at the first Social Media Club Hamilton event.

The crowd had that friendly / awkward vibe of people who talk all day on the internet meeting each other in real life, maybe even for the first time. That vibe is a wonderful vibe, team – online communities are stronger communities when everyone gets together for a beer and a yarn face to face every one in a while. Wellington does this really well. The SMC Hamilton committee deserve a lot of credit for making the event happen – it was well attended, and the venue really worked for them. It’s off to a great start.

I did my little spiel on Telecom and social media, looking at the who, where and why of it, the importance of *listening* and what we do when it all turns to custard. Luckily, no-one obviously fell asleep and there were some great questions. I thoroughly enjoyed telling our story, chatting to some new faces, meeting legendary fishermen and having me mum along to hear wot her eldest does over on the dark side (!).

If you are a Hamilton or Waikato resident, I highly recommend making the effort to get along – like I say, I’m sure future events will be a great success. As in the rugby, Hamilton has it all over Auckland at the moment, SMC wise. Ahem.

Doing my best Mr Burns impression at SMC Hamilton. Photo credit: Innes Fisher.