Saturday, May 30, 2009

More about my Grandad

My grandfather (Dad's dad) died when I was only six (and my grandmother - his wife - not long afterwards), and I don't really have many memories of him other than one walking trip we went on to the Hooker Glacier at Aoraki/Mount Cook in New Zealand (where I'm from).

In later life his name (James Brown) has often been a source of mirth ... but it's also the source of my middle name. I remember him as being both a great player of cards and a kind man, which I guess are good memories to have. It must be where our good luck run at the Casinos came from a few years ago when back in NZ on holidays!

It really made me smile when Dad managed to get hold of more details about him as part of his genealogy research (including some on his war service record), as it enabled me to learn more about him, and I've uploaded it to Google Sites if anyone's interested (click on the below to open the full PDF document):

Friday, May 8, 2009

#ladders update

A couple of days ago I blogged about how we were hijacking Twitter for a bit of a laugh, and I thought I'd post an update on what else happened on the day - which was great fun and got us into the top 10 on Twitter Trends.

The blog post about it got a bit of readership going by the Google Analytics tags:

The best part about the coverage at the latter end of the day though was getting it discussed by Richard Bacon on his BBC Radio 5 Live show on Wednesday night (listen again here, only available for a few days!), as a result of one of our team - Jason from our Access Networks division - asking him about the subject.

Richard liked Jason's suggestion and it then became the question of the day from a 'texter' on the show, which was an unexpected consequence.

Speaking of radio hosts (well, a tenuous segue), we got accused of doing the whole thing as part of a celebrity game:

Clearly, DJ's @alexbrown1972 and @mozzapp are in da house! We even have our own video to show for it!

<a href="http://www.grapheine.com">Agence communication Paris Graphéine</a>


And now the hilarious comedian Dave Gorman is following our lead with his #tendingtropics campaign - and in his case he's got as high as second in Twitter's Trending Topics - well done Dave! He started off his campaign with this tweet:

The topic (or is that tropic?) has since dropped out of the top 10 though. I think this might become quite a game in days, weeks and months to come :-)

Wednesday, May 6, 2009

How we Rickrolled Twitter

Rickrolling is a simple idea – using an online community of one sort or another to push traffic to a link (usually a Rick Astley video of Never Gonna Give You Up, hence the name) by using the classic technique of reeling someone in with the bait of claiming it’s something else.


What we did today is slightly different, but our meme is slightly different – it’s all about #ladders.


We have quite an active community of Virgin Media staff members on Twitter – well over 300 that we know of, and plenty more others that we don’t. It’s great as a support group - as one of our team often says, she feels reassured when she’s travelling alone at night by herself that everyone is looking out for her to ensure she’s OK, and I’ve also found it great myself when my dad had a recent skin cancer scare.


It’s brilliant as a resource for me in my job as a product manager, if I need to get help to fix a particular problem or for information I invariably know another ‘#VMTwit’ who is in a position to help straight away, and it doesn’t require any complex process to engage them – an e-mail, a phone call or a tweet will do the trick.


Given that I also manage the @virginmedia account along with our PR team, the wider Virgin Media community is no end of help in dealing with customer enquiries that I might not necessarily know the immediate answer to.


We’ve had some great reaction from our customers on Twitter, who are finding it a great way to keep in touch with the latest news from us and to talk about our products and services – including 2 recent converts to our 50Mb service, Stephen Fry and Rob Brydon.


One of my colleagues, Paul from our customer experience team, tweeted over the weekend that he had fallen through his ladder, breaking it and hurting his foot in the process.


This led to a bit of discussion about ladders internally as Paul started looking for a replacement, but the real fun kicked off today when Tony (one of our customer care project team based in Liverpool) tweeted early this afternoon that a man had come to fix a buzzing light in the office … and that he had a ladder with him.


I pointed this out to the aforementioned Paul (who has been working from our Covent Garden offices today with me) and we came up with an idea – could we get conversations about ladders to become a trending topic on Twitter?


And of course there was only one way to do this, to call on the #VMTwits to see if they could help us do it.


One e-mail and a few tweets later the community were on the case, and in about 2 hours we’d managed about 300 tweets using the hashtag #ladders from staff members, customers and others who had picked up on the joke:

By no means are those all staff members, and some are actually generally discussing ladders of course – but it did the job with us (at time of writing) being sandwiched between ‘Star Trek’ and ‘H1N1’ as the 6th most trending topic on Twitter:

And hopefully we can even get to number one by the time we’re done!


While it’s been a bit of Wednesday afternoon fun as many of us have been on conference calls, it did surprise me at how easy it was to hit the trending topics on Twitter with about 300 tweets in a little over two hours.


Highlights from this social media experiment have undoubtedly been the puns, the random pics from around the web and even the pictures of their own ladders that members of our Twitter community have uploaded (in this case from the Managing Director of our business division).


Personally, as a user of TwitterFox myself it’s been very hard to keep up so I must look at some other clients when I get a spare minute. And stop talking about #ladders.


@alexbrown1972