March 16, 2009 in Marketing, Videos

I found this video today (via MJ). It’s one of the nicest short films I’ve seen in a long time, and is well worth the 12mins of your time. (click if you can’t view the video below).

One of my first thoughts for the video was “this should be an ad for Twitter”. Is it wrong that my first thought about such a lovely short film was business related? Probably. But I still think it was an important one.

In the marketing world, as the transition is being made from TV ads to online videos, the trend has been to make snappier, shorter, “more viral” videos. While this has worked well in many instances, I don’t think it’s the only way that online video can be best used.

If you have a product as good as Twitter, something that is unique and enriches peoples lives, then I see no reason why you couldn’t use an artistic short film similar to the one above to convey the value your service can bring to people.

There’s a lot of talented filmmakers and film school students out there thirsty for projects to work on (and for budgets!) and it would probably work out much cheaper than a TV campaign. It’s just a thought.

Finger on the Pulse

January 19, 2009 in Marketing, Technology & Science

I just watched another one of Niall’s great videos in which he shares a great tip on how to increase sales on Twitter. I want to expand on his tip with a few handy pointers on how I use Twitter search to do business and find and interact with customers.

In his video, Niall uses the example of Pat Phelan searching for potential Max Roam customers talking about cheap roaming. This is simple enough to manage as there tends to be about one tweet per day. But what if Pat wants to have a look at all people complaining about their phones? That search has a new tweet every second (and has 5 new results in the time it took me to write that sentence!).

Here’s what I do to keep my ear to the twitter ground more effectively:

Location, Location, Location

A very handy thing you can do with twitter searches is append a location to the end of them. So for me, because all my customers are in Ireland I add “&geocode=53.344104,-6.2674937,100mi” to the end of a search it will show me only the results within 100 miles of that location (which is Dublin, but maybe I should change it to Athlone). Using the same example as above, that search for phones becomes much more managable with about 10 tweets per day.

For an easy way to do this for the coordinates and distance (e.g. within 2km of your shop/business) use the search bar at the top of


Feed Me

Now that you’ve narrowed down your location you can easily manage more keywords that are relevant to your business. This leads to the problem of remembering all these key words and constantly checking them all, which is where RSS steps in. On the right side of the results you should see a link to the feed.


If you have a feed reader (I use Google reader) you can add this feed and the search results will pop straight into your reader. I have all mine organised in a Twitter folder and check on it a few times per day. There is a slight delay of an hour or two between when a tweet is posted and when it appears in my reader. I use it for work and personal – e.g. I have a “leaving cert” alert set up for




One evening a new entry appeared in the feed for the term Leaving Cert:


(bonus: I’m now even more “hip” with the youth of today after learning that WDF stands for What Da Fuck?)

From the Zulunotes twitter account I offered some help


And I had one happy user in less than 5 mins effort.


Other uses

Of course this isn’t only useful for businesses finding and engaging with customers or prospects; It can be used to find people tweeting about things you’re interested in, or for journalists keeping an ear out for discussion on certain topics or breaking stories.

Cheat Sheet

For a search for a word being mentioned in Ireland:,-6.2674937,100mi

Or for a two word term (e.g. “Social Media” = social+media),-6.2674937,100mi

Or the link directly to the feed:,-6.2674937,100mi

A Real-Time-Micro-Social-Forum Application

January 2, 2009 in The Journey of a Facebook Application

This is part of a series of posts on the Journey of a Facebook Application.

I think that title bears repeating, I’m almost proud of it – A Real-Time-Micro-Social-Forum Application. That – expressed in the most buzzword filled description I could think of – is the application I’m going to build!

My Inspiration
I’ll be the first to admit that I’m not overly creative. If this does slightly lack in originality (although I don’t think it does!) then I hope I’ll make up for it in hard work, tenacity…. yadda yadda so on and so forth. I’m not sure where the idea came from, but I know there have been a few services that have inspired my thinking on how I should go about implementing it:

1. Twitter – I like twitter. It’s the inspiration for the micro element. It’s great for connections, for sharing good links for discovering new things. One thing I’ve found it doesn’t do well is group chats. For every time I see an event being live tweeted, I see countless people complain about reams of commentary in their feed about an event that they’re not at, or a match that they’re not watching, or a TV show they’re not interested in etc.

2. Live Blogging – The answer to that twitter problem seems to be live blogging. But for the life of me, I just don’t get it! Admittedly, that’s probably just me. What I gather so far is that it’s one person posting updates of an event, with time stamps etc. If that’s the case, then I can definitely see it’s uses, e.g. I love reading the engadget or wired live updates from each Macworld event. But they’re a one way flow of information, usually from a journalist/blogger in an event. I can’t see how they work in a social/group discussion way. Again, maybe it’s just me missing a trick here.

3. Discussion Forums – Speaking of discussing Macworld, I found the best place to do this (live) last year was on That was my inspiration for the forum element of the application.

Put your hands together…
So with all this in mind I thought it would be really handy to have a place to chat about an event as it was happening, with twitter-esque sized comments. Twitter is great for what it does, but it’s centred around people and connections. This application will be centred around events.

If I’m being ambitious, which I guess I am, I would hope this application could be to discussion forums what twitter is to blogging. Don’t get me wrong, I’ll still use forums for debates, discussions, analysis etc., but I think this application could be great for quick discussion and live commentary on events as they happen. A thread on a forum takes too long to trawl through when you want the conversation to be quick and free flowing (and half the conversation is taken up by witty and image filled signatures!)

The Use Case
I’m building this as a Facebook application (at first), for many reasons which I’ll explain in a late blog post, so the initial user experience will be something like this:

  1. I log into Facebook and go to this application
  2. I’m going to watch Barack Obama’s inauguration that night, but no one’s free to come over and watch it with me.
  3. So I set up a new event (micro-thread?), and call it “Barry’s Inauguration” and set the date – “19th Jan 2009”.
  4. I invite a few friends. Some more people browse to it (e.g. under the category “politics”) and maybe invite some of their friends.
  5. The event starts
  6. I say “So what do you think of this Rick Warren guy, a bit too bigoted for my liking”.
  7. People agree
  8. And the real-time-micro-social-forum is born!

So….. What do you think? Would you use it!?


August 26, 2008 in Technology & Science

I’m sure plenty of people who are heavier twitter users than I have already heard of this site, but I thought monitter was still worth a mention for others, like me, who hadn’t. For those of you familiar with twitter (which I’m assuming is most people by now!), it shouldn’t require much explanation. You can type a word or a phrase into one of three columns, and watch as it updates in real-time with tweets from the twitter-sphere relating to the word(s) you enter.

Some terms just whizz by with tweet after tweet, try Obama as a good example. Others are slow and steady (try McCain for example 😛 ).

It’s still not perfect, some very old and out of date tweets appear, but it’s pretty cool if you have a website/blog and you’d like to see if people are noticing it and tweeting about it.

Through monitter I also discovered the very handy feature of Twitter itself – being able to subscribe to an RSS feed of certain terms as they’re mentioned on Twitter. ( I’ve already added a few rss subscriptions to my reader (e.g. for my website “zulunotes” being mentioned on twitter), very handy indeed. Now if only my Google Alerts picked up comments on twitter…. then we’d be suckin’ deisel!