A brainstorm

One blog, four students. Just met, studying Multilingual business communication at the Ghent University.

Brainstorming on this blog, about business communication and network sites. And most of all: in search of a genius internet start-up.


It’s a crisis, let’s go on a holiday!

A crisis might seem the perfect timing to go on a holiday, it appears. Prices for hotel rooms have declined with 14% over the last year, says hotels.com. In relation to the business segment, the leisure segment has increased, a trend that has been around for a while now. Kirk Kinsell from Intercontinental Hotels Group remarked we might think of travelling as a basic right. These two trends are a positive sign for the Brainstorm start-up.

This means more exotic destinations can now also attract the middle class, next to low-budget backpackers and luxe travellers. The latter don’t make up a part of our target audience, but middle class travellers may also be interested in authentic restaurants. On top of that: these are people even more likely to plan some things ahead, which may be an advantage in more deserted areas without mobile internet available. So: travellers happy, EatOut.com happy.

Facebook: The T in CNN’s SWOT

According to an article in The Guardian, CNN president Jon Klein fears Facebook. At a Q&A with Businessweek editor Josh Tyrangiel, he expressed his concern with the popular social network site: “We want to be the most trusted source. But on Facebook, people are depending on their friends as news sources. “

Joseph Tarkatoff offers interesting figures illustrating Klein’s point. The following graph, for example,  shows how Facebook stands up to Google News as a source of traffic to news sites:

 “I’m more worried about the 500 million or so people on Facebook versus the 2 million on Fox,” says Klein. Looking at how people seem to rely a lot more on Facebook than on sites as Google News, CNN should better watch out.

Internet, everywhere

Many internet operators are working on mobile internet, as is Telenet. They will be testing broadband mobile internet (4G) in Mechelen, Belgium. This internet enables up to 100 bits per second, that is ten times as fast as mobile internet now. This makes applications possible like online gaming, watchinf television and video conferencing on the move. This proves the trend everything goes mobile and that is something to think about when you own a site. Especially for the Brainstorm site, recommending you authentic small restaurants all around the world, we need to make sure a mobile version of the site is available. Whenever fast mobile intenet arrives, a more daring version will be possible, maybe even the original site with streaming and interactive applications.

Source: ‘Telenet test supersnel mobiel internet’, De Standaard, March 4 2010, p. 21.

Security on web 2.0?

By now, everyone understands social networks sites are here to stay for quite a while, and will only become more important in the next few years. Ad by everyone, we don’t just mean your mother on Facebook, but also spammers. A security record by Sophos showed cyber attacks on social network sites have increased by 70% since March 2009. Those attacks may appear as spamming (icreased by 70,6%) or malware (increased by 69,8%). The reason why these sites are that interesting is that computer users spend more time on them and share personal information about themselves, friends and their employers. Sophos is of the opinion that too many web 2.0 sites are to much focussed on their market share and thus spend too little attention on security measures.

So there may lie a warning for social network sites starting up or even for new ones: one should make sure the security budget is sufficient. On top of that, one should keep an eye on the trends in cyber (crime) country. Because a warned man is worth two.

Source: ‘Spammers veroveren Facebook’, De Standaard, March 2nd 2010, p. 20.

The 11 commandments of corporate tweeting

Twitter and I will never be friends. I made an account a couple of years ago. I followed (a bunch of corporate Twitters and celebrities). I got followed (by friends and spambots). I even tweeted (4 times, at the least!). Then I got bored of it and forgot about my account. Last year I gave it another go, but alas: I never got convinced of Twitter’s appeal. I guess it’s not my cup of tea.

Maybe it’s just me not being able to express myself in 140 characters, or not feeling the urge to share what I had for dinner last night. But I can’t shake the feeling that 99% of tweets are unnecessary and don’t bring anything new to the table. A lot of its users only seem to tweet links to interesting blogposts (which I believe proves that blogging is a better platform to share relevant insights), or retweet other peoples tweets. 

I also have a problem with certain corporate Twitter-accounts who shall remain anonymous. A lot of them just ‘exist’ and never, or rarely, tweet. Others don’t really seem to know how to make proper use of its possibilities. It seems that most of these accounts only got created to jump on the social media bandwagon, without further thought. Bernard Warner, editorial director of Social Media Influence, shares the same sentiment. As and aid to executives pondering a Twitter strategy he formulated the following 11 commandments of corporate tweeting. I couldn’t agree more with them. 

 Should the company be tweeting? Only if it can live up to these 10 (um, now 11) Commandments:

  • We can articulate the company vision in 140 characters or less, minus PR puffery and cliché.
  • We are willing to give credit to cool, innovative, or thought-provoking ideas, even if coined by someone else.
  • We are willing to challenge a potentially destructive position even if our position generates criticism.
  • We are willing to listen to and engage with others, even if “others” = employees, customers, or activists.
  • We will not get carried away, never tweeting about a fresh “cuppa,” or worse, some banal corporate achievement.
  • We will dedicate time each week to reading what others have to say and promise to retweet (“RT”) the most clever, valuable, and even humorous.
  • We will never include in a press release, speech, or annual report our “Twitter followers” figure, no matter how tempting.
  • We actually have something meaningful to say.
  • If we don’t have something to say, we’ll find the person in the organization best suited for speaking/tweeting on behalf of the company.
  • If we cannot live up to these commandments we will reflect on whether corporate marketing is the right role for us.
  • We will use our Twitter channel not just to bump out cheery news, but to keep customers informed in the event of bad news (i.e., a product recall, a hostile take-over, a PR crisis), too.

    Looking at the comment-section of Warner’s post it seems that the link to these commandments already have been retweeted multiple times. I can’t decide if this is a good thing or just illustrates why I don’t really like Twitter.

    Chatroulette and online dating: a match made in cyberspace heaven?

    Last weekend, a high school friend of mine who I hadn’t seen in a while, told me she had a new man in her life. His name is Anders. He is 25. And he lives in Esbjerg, Denmark. Since I knew she hadn’t been abroad for months, I was surprised to find out how she met this Danish guy. Turns out the answer to that question was rather obvious: she met him online. Not on the typical online dating or social networking sites, but on Omegle. This website randomly pairs up users online into one-to-one chat windows. There they can chat anonymously using the handles ‘you’ and ‘stranger’. I remember visiting that particular website last year when it got hyped on several blogs.  But unlike my friend who seemingly met her Danish knight in shining armour on there, the only people I got connected to were crazy Koreans who refused to type in anything different than their own language. So far my Omegle adventures.

    The last weeks however, I noticed some buzz surrounding a similar website: Chatroulette. This site also connects random strangers for conversations, but unlike those on Omegle, these are webcam-based. Visitors to the website can randomly begin an online chat (via video and audio or text) with another visitor. As the picture and video below illustrate, this person can be anybody…










    Users who do not like what they see when they get connected to a random stranger can click the ‘next’ button, an option that is much appreciated since the site seems to be a paradise for exhibitionists who like to ‘share’ a lot more than their chat partners ask for. The story of my friend in mind, and the fact that Chatroulette gets most of its revenue through advertising for online dating services, I believe this site could be the ideal platform for people who are looking for love online, making it an online version of speeddating. Unlike real-life speeddating where it’s not socially acceptable to run away when you don’t like your date, Chatroulette offers you the possibility to make that person disappear by just one ‘click’, an option I’m sure a lot of people would sign up for in the offline dating world.

    Please rob me! Think before you tweet

    This week, a new website was launched that illustrates just how easy it is to rob people on the basis of the information they post online. Please Rob Me uses streams of data from Foursquare, a popular social networking site that allows registered users to connect with friends and update their current location on a map for friends using the service to see.  Because a lot users also post these locations to Twitter, the information becomes publicly available, making it theoretically possible for burglars to check if you’re home or not.

    Please Rob Me throws this issue into the spotlight in a humorous way. The site automatically scans Twitter feeds to find location check-ins that are being tweeted. It then shows them on its website and leaves the person who posted the location the following message:  

    Hi @Someone, did you know the whole world can see your location through Twitter? #pleaserobme.com

    Although the chances that you’ll get robbed when you tweet your location are little. Please Rob Me still succeeds in pointing out the dangers of oversharing on the web.