All posts by Daryl Pereira

Experimenting with Piktochart for Infographics

We’re at that stage with the Nustory Project where we’re exploring the creation of deeper, richer content.

We’ve seen infographics grow in popularity in the last couple of years, and with that has come a number of great tools to help with the creation of these informative assets.

One of these tools is Piktochart, which came recommended by a colleague. I decided to give this tool a trial and over an hour or so was able to generate this infographic pulling together content marketing stats:

What do you think? 

The tool really is very easy to use and comes with some great features to add images and your own data.

Go ahead and give Piktochart a try yourself!

The Need for Integrated Business Applications: Chris Heuer, Alynd

I recently had the good fortune to run into Chris Heuer, CEO and Founder, Alynd, at the Launch Festival. Chris is a true thought leader when it comes to thinking about the social enterprise and the future of work.

In this interview, he explains the problem his startup Alynd solves and why, given the consumerization of IT, it is increasingly important to offer employees the most engaging and integrated tools to get the job done.

He also explains key challenges for startups and the importance of the cloud for young companies that need to get to market and scale rapidly.

He is a great speaker so I encourage you to listen to Chris:

More on Alynd

More on the IBM Global Entrepreneur Program for Cloud Startups

Looking for startups for content marketing projects with USC and SJSU

content marketing - business image

Are you interested in building your social presence while helping students understand how customer engagement is being transformed?

We are looking for startups interested in being part of an exciting content marketing project we are kicking off with the University of Southern California and San Jose State University business students.

nustory logo dec 2014 v1 smallStarting in February and continuing until April, a team of students will work with each startup to first build an understanding of the industry and business environment. They will then embark on a series of content experiments using Twitter initially, and progressing to the development of deeper content such as blogs and infographics. Using insights from the Hootsuite social media management platform and collaborative knowledge from IBM Connections, the students will provide a final actionable report based on their experiments.

Key points:

Duration: February – April 2015   
Student team: 4 undergrad business communications students
Student deliverables: Initial content marketing plan, ongoing network building and content curation (Twitter), one piece of deeper  content (eg. blog, infographic), final data-driven content marketing plan
Business requirements: One point of contact (eg. marketing lead) with minimum engagement time of 5 hours, access to Twitter  account (all content can be reviewed before posting) 
Faculty sponsors: Dr Peter Cardon (USC), Larry Gee (SJSU)
Industry sponsor: Daryl Pereira (IBM)

Sound interesting? More information on the project:

Also feel free to comment below or reach out to me @cagedether.

The power of social analytics: an example from IBM and Twitter

Wondering exactly what social analytics can do for you? Check out this example based on the partnership between IBM and Twitter:

A tweet on a single bike doesn’t tell you much… but look at tweets from all cyclists and you can decide what kind of bike to build, where it should be sold and who is your target market.

Now, obviously this has an inherent bias towards those who use Twitter (not a massive chunk of the population), but what a contrast to the days of yore where only the biggest organizations would have access to market research, which could take years to complete.

More on the IBM partnership with Twitter

Ten years a blogger

So, although all milestones are arbitrary, something has been floating around my mind for the last few weeks: it’s been 10 years since I first started blogging. 

10 years a blogger

Like any milestone, this raises some thoughts, mainly around the whole notion of what blogging means to me today. 

Whilst writing this, my four-year-old popped up and asked what I’m doing. ‘Writing about my ten years as a blogger’. I then realized he has no idea of what ‘blogging’ is, even though he’s definitely a digital native (his first brand affinity was with Netflix, which, I know, says little for my parenting skills). This made me think it’s not necessarily given that blogging will form part of the lexicon of new generation digital naturals. Is the blog doomed to the same fate as the fax machine and CD as a quaint old technology that has had its time? 

I don’t think so. 

‘Blogging’ as a term may fall by the wayside but the act of self-publishing is alive and well. Back in 2004, I didn’t have access to Twitter, Tumblr, Medium, Facebook, Instagram or any other content-based social network. Blogging was just about it. WordPress and Blogger ruled this world. That’s hardly the case now. As each of the new pretenders arrived, a recurrent trope along the lines of ‘blogging is dead’ would rise up. 

But I’m with Mitch Joel (in this post from last year) in that even though the new generation may rarely use the term blogging, at its core the way the new generation shares content bears striking similarities. The power of publishing is now in the hands of all of us. Whether we call it blogging or not is largely a matter of semantics. 

But getting back to me, when I say I’ve been blogging for 10 years, what exactly does that mean? 

Have I been a diarist?

The chronological nature of blogs leaves them well-suited for diarists. I’m a lousy diarist. Sure, early in my career I made a living by publishing diary entries of my life in Goa. But (with very few exceptions) I’ve only ever kept diaries when I was compelled to do so. When I knew there was a platform for me and my ego. Even though one of my most popular posts covered one of the most profound moments in my life, I’m definitely no Samuel Pepys, if for no other reason than a lot of life passes me by without me documenting it.

Have I been an opinion leader? 

Has my blog been my very own digital soapbox. Not exactly: I’m someone that either feels like they don’t have enough intimate knowledge of a subject or knows it so well that can readily see both sides of an argument. That never makes for the best opinion pieces ;) 

Is my blog a news center?

I do share new and noteworthy tidbits that come my way, especially as I work in marketing and fair chunk of my career is tied up with launching stuff. Having said that, I’m rarely the first off the presses with new news so this is largely me sharing my (vaguely educated) spin on a story. 

Is my blog a hub/portal into a topic?

It has been in the past. Around 2007 I was really looking at the idea of blogs as curation points, gathering relevant information on a topic and dishing it up in a single portal. Then along came Twitter and pretty much stole that mantle. 

Have I built a solid community?

Some blogs are incredibly effective at uniting a tribe; linking a community. Fred Wilson does a sterling job for the startup world. Could I take up this space? Hmm, I tend to float around on topics of interest and where I want to put my attention. I’m afraid I can easily confuse the hell out of you if you elect to follow me constantly. As I have tended to move through different communities and interests, so has my blog.  (A lot of my early posts were on SEO, something I rarely talk about now).  

Does my blog link all my social sharing?

It should, given I’ve found myself recently professing the benefits of using blogs as a central repository for YouTube videos, Slideshares, SoundCloud podcasts etc. Also, Sandy Carter, who I work with closely, does a great job of this. I’ve been errant on this over the last 10 years but it’s definitely an area I want to focus on. 

Does my blog offer support and tips?

Blogging is great for support. The great James Taylor (not the music guy, but this one) talks about how he first started blogging as a way to send general information to a sales team, saving himself a bunch of emails in the process. I’ve definitely done this in the past – particularly when coming across a solution that wasn’t readily available via a Google search. Something it still makes sense to continue as we march into brave new worlds like video production.  

So, what is my blog and why should I keep it?

This gets back to my original thesis: a blog is a slippery chameleon of a platform that needn’t be confined in its objectives, or what’s shared on it. Sure, sometimes a blog will have a real set objective, but that’s a loose rule and one you have to decide on for yourself. 

I think as a business tool, the blog will continue to grow in importance. Just look at the growth right now in Content Marketing (as reported by Google Trends): 

Content Marketing Growth Dec 2014

Whilst content can take many forms (from landing pages to ebooks to Instagram videos, for example) a blog remains a great tool as companies become media houses.

Whether we continue to call a blog a blog remains to be seen, but I’m glad for the last 10 years I’ve had with Caged Ether and the doors it has opened up for me. I doubt I’d be doing what I do today if it wasn’t for this blog. It’s also been an outlet for me to express myself in a way I can’t do on any other social network, with a stronger sense of ownership to boot. I’m fascinated to see where this will lead me in the next 10 years ;) 

Postcript: Why Caged Ether?

I have been asked a lot over the years to what ‘Caged Ether’ refers. Just as my blog has morphed over time, so has the meaning of its name.

The origin of Caged Ether is tied with a word we rarely use now. Back in 2004 we used to talk of the internet as the Information Superhighway, and had the notion of information travelling through the ‘ether’ (whether down ethernet cables or over wifi connections). 

So the original definition referred to the blog as my little corner of the internet.

However, over time other connotations came into play. An idea that runs through both Buddhism and nuclear physics (and has been popularized by Deepak Chopra) is that all matter is mere illusion. The universe is all about the flow of energy. That’s all we are: bundles of flowing energy. Caged ether. 

IBM partners with digital agencies to target the new IT buyer: the CMO!

In case you needed more evidence that the CMO is becoming an increasingly important purchaser of IT (driven largely by SaaS applications),  check out this new offering from IBM tailored for Digital Marketing Agencies.

To bring this to light, we put together this Storify of the coonversations surrounding the launch:

The internet of toilets is coming for you

I didn’t know what I was walking into tonight heading to the Galvanize SF space in downtown SF. Quite literally. I thought the memo said I’d be attending a Blumix Girls’ Night

I guess I’ll never know what that would have been. But hell, I got to hear Donnie Berkholz from the mighty RedMonk treat us to a view of the not-too-distant future of the Internet of Things (IoT) during a special Bluemix Garage event.

A future in which our toilets tell us when they need cleaning.

You’ve got ‘people as things’ on the web (to organizations like LinkedIn we’re just data blobs) and ‘things as people’ (fridges getting all conversational).

A great takeaway: real-time data is useless without real-time action. So beware the hype!

Another great takeaway: JavaScript is the language that really enables developers to work at speed. No new skills required. Just stick node.js into your app.

One thing struck me: how IoT is really a story of what we can do if we can effortlessly process info from sensors. Technological/development and societal forces are converging to a point where it makes more sense than not to offer this capability to the greatest number of people at the lowest price (as the pundits say, data does work like oil). What kind of impact could this have? Well, for starters what if all employers do the same thing the sports industry does and optimize the workforce for maximum  performance using data and patterns.

Things could get very odd very fast. We’re talking digital disruption. Or are we?

bluemix garage donnie berkolz dec 2014 copy

[Yay! Donnie posted the slides]

the top hashtags on twitter for startups and entrepreneurs

So where exactly do startups congregate on Twitter? How can you follow along with the broad conversation? If you are looking to get in front of the startup crowd, which hashtag should you use?

Take a look at this ranking report for the last 90 days:

startup hashtags nov 2014

Source: Sysomos

I was surprised to see #entrepreneur outrank #startup. I somehow thought the shorter anglo-saxon term would win out.  Also surprising to see #podcast on the list (although ‘Serial’ may have something to do with that).

So, what are you waiting for? Go ahead and plug into these convos now!