Thursday, October 15, 2009

Will SuperFan make it into the top ranks?

SuperFan is the name of the social media site It's a very interactive site that allows users (called Fans) to register their favourites (faves) from a variety of sectors like celebrities, schools, movies, gadgets etc. Users can become fans or even superfans of the already registered items, organisations, groups or personalities. Joining is very easy as one can use the Facebook profile and an own profile in SuperFan is created within a minute or two.

Everything is based on a points and credits system. Fans have to spend credits to become fans or superfans. On the other side they can earn points when their faves are picked up by others. It is also possible to set up battles between faves and let the other users vote on who's better or worse. An interesting feature is writing or taking quizzes on the faves. Finally, as here, one can write blogs on the faves or any other subject. Status updates can be sent also to Facebook and Twitter.

Sounds very interesting, doesn't it? You learn more about other fans or friends likes and dislikes and you can see the ranking of your faves based on the battles. In quizzes you test what you know about your faves and learn more about them through the feedback on correct or wrong answers. This should be something everyone is interested in.

SuperFan grew it's user base very quickly over the last few months. From virtually zero in 01/2009 to over 51k unique monthly visitors in 09/2009 measuerd by It more than doubled the unique visitors over the last month. As in all social media sites everything depends on how enthusiastic the users will be in spreading word of mouth to their friends and contacts and to invite them into SuperFan. Therefore the next few months will be decisive about whether the site makes it to the big names league. Will SuperFan be able to cross the chasm (I explained in another blog)? And what will the business model look like? Will it be based on ads or on user paid premium content? Tune in. And stay tuned.

Monday, October 12, 2009

Silicon Valley everywhere?

Why are almost all of the great websites and internet applications created in the Silicon Valley? Think of Google, Amazon, PayPal, Digg, eBay, Facebook etc.

Is it the proximity of the universities, Stanford and Berkeley? The venture capital powerhouses residing there? The inspiring environment? The multiple founder phenomenon (founders starting their 2nd or 3rd website)?

Probably it's a combimnation of all these. Certainly the universities have contributed a lot by fostering an entrepreneurial and creative climate. And the money was there to make the entrepreneurs think big. As well as the trial and error approach to founding companies. Many successful websites are the consequence of ideas taken from others that were not so successful or even went bust. Serial founders like Marc Andreessen, Max Levchin, Kevin Rose contributed a lot by being the living examples of entrepreneurs making dozens or hundreds of millions out of multiple companies founded by them. Very attractive and inspiring for other young talent to join their firms, found their own, having the ambition to make it there, too.

Will this climate also emerge elsewhere on the planet? Will the next big thing come from the Valley again? Or from Russia, India, China, Bresil, South Africa? Anyone could do it, anywhere. Web 2.0 makes it easy. Little investment is needed. So, let's see what comes next. Hot spots are the Web 2.0, the iPhone, the social networks, ...

Friday, July 31, 2009

Response to 'Time for a Twitter Reality Check'

In response to a question around 'Time for a Twitter Reality Check' asked in LinkedIn I wrote the following (you may want to have a look at the original article first):

I look at Twitter as a startup with huge potential, like Google or Facebook were a few years ago. Personally I use Twitter as a marketing channel to bring people to my website and blog. Some make direct money of this by generating enough traffic to their blogs to be attractive for AdSense to place ads. Others are looking for jobs and find offerings, or they can attract recruiters to their CV / LinkedIn / Xing / Viadeo / Hi5 webpage. Still others get user feedback and support requests (like Dell). Or they distribute coupons, 'secret passwords', promotions like Starbucks and generate massive physical traffic to their outlets. Some use it to attract people to their Craigslist ad extending reach. CNN and many other media bring traffic to their websites and news channels. The British and Swiss Government use it to distribute information about events, politics and legislation. Churches distribute bible verses. etc. etc. So there are many faces and uses of Twitter.

You can't really say that users are only interesting if they're active. It is the normal business model for broadcasters to have passive users and still they make money out of the business model (news or entertainment against suffering commercials). Similar for 'gurus' and celebrities who give some little stuff or nice words to their fans. The user activity lies in consuming the information, just like reading a newspaper. Listening to the global chat. And sometimes this becomes very active like during the Iran elections, where even the White House asked Twitter not to interrupt the service, as it gave voice to the Iranian opposition (and channels to CIA and NSA, probably).

Is no one 'using' (what do you mean by 'using') it? Have a look at Alexa stats: yesterday 3.45% of Internet visitors (most from US) used Twitter (Google: 34.35%; MSN: 11.69% sinking; Facebook: 21.93%; AOL: 2.34%). With this Twitter is on rank 15 of the top sites accoring to Alexa. Not bad. No one??

'Using' for evil? NO. Most 'users' are listeners, spectators, consumers. Personally I've found huge value and insights from using Twitter. I found stuff and made connections with interesting people I didn't know about 5 months ago, and I'm a rather senior guy.

Numbers lie? You trust Nielsen? Have a look here . 3712 pc year on year growth in the top 10 social networking and blog sites list.

And just thin of the combination potential if Twitter did join forces with Amazon, Goole, CNN, Facebook or whatever. Does Twitter as a company have a value? Yes? Well, the founders already founded Blogger and sold it to Google. Why would anyone want to buy it? Think.

Ok, nuf 4 now. Sure, I do agree with some of what you say, BUT, I'd advise not to underestimate the power of Twitter. I think it will become or already is a major force on the web. And the potential is by far not exploited. Creative firms and users have found and will find ways to build new businesses, marketing approaches, distribution models based on Twitter.

What do you think?

Monday, July 20, 2009

We choose THE MOON

'We choose THE MOON'. I heard these words from John F. Kennedy over 40 years ago. And it was unbelievable. Except, that it was the President of the United States saying this. And we'd better believe him. He set the agenda, and, as we all know, on this very day forty years ago 'the Eagle has landed' on the moon.

It is one of the dates in my life I can remember exactly. I was actually meant to be on a small airfield near La Chaux-de-Fonds attending flight school. But, due to some strange reasons, all of my three colleagues had decided to leave the course and therefore it was stopped. I would go back to another course in August only for the rest of the flight training leading to the private pilot's licence.

Thus I was at home in my summer college vacation with plenty of time. This allowed me to follow the full TV coverage of the Apollo 11 mission's approach to the lunar orbit and the moon landing, which can now be followed again on the web. There were a lot of explanations by our Swiss commentator Bruno Stanek. Everything was very thrilling as in the ex-ante situation it was not for sure, that things would work out so well. The characteristic noises of the communication between Houston and the astronauts were the messengers of superiority of American technology, of the American 'can do' mentality, of the ingenious achievement of this huge project team.

Finally, the Apollo 11 crew succeeded, Buzz Aldrin landed the Eagle, and the names of the astronauts Neil Armstrong, Buzz Aldrin and Michael Collins would become unforgettable for my generation and immortal for the memory of mankind. We admired their courage, their perseverance, their will to go to the limits. Many young guys like me were fascinated by the technology and we re-planned our career objectives. I choose to become an engineer and an airforce pilot.

In the middle of the night CET the whole family got up to watch the first steps of a man on the moon. And Neil Armstrong's words while stepping down from the lunar module as the first human being on the surface of the moon were imprinted into our minds forever: 'One small step for man, one giant leap for mankind'. Today and tomorrow we commemorate this awesome event with its effects far beyond technology. Still fascinating to look at the pictures again and a lot of memories, like this little story of a kid saving the mission, about a very exciting and remarkable day of our life.

Monday, July 13, 2009

Links zu Stellenausschreibungen und -portalen

Fach- & Führungskräfte

Here I publish a number of links to HR recruiters and job portals in Switzerland. The list will be enhanced from time to time (comments are in German).

Die nachstehende Liste soll Stellensuchenden in der Schweiz den Zugang zu Personalberatern für mittlere Fach- und Führungspositionen und Job Portalen erleichtern.
Experteer (Basel) (Executive Search only) (HR Associates AG, Zürich) (für Wiedereinsteigerinnen) (Langenthal) (Ost-CH) (TG, Winterthur) (Frauen)

More information on Twitter for starters

As many before me have already published useful information on getting started in Twitter I would just like to give you a link to a website of Mashable here, a rich source for additional information on Twitter.

Monday, May 25, 2009

How to get the right followers on Twitter (2)

Now after my blog on the general strategies for your Twitter usage and some insights on how to connect your blog, website, Twitter account and other social network presences, here are some simple points for getting followers:
- make sure that you mention your Twitter account name in everyone of you other social networks and invite your friends to follow you on Twitter, or invite them to open a Twitter account (most of them will then follow you);
- celebrities have it easy to get followers: as soon as they are on Twitter, word of mouth will spread (or their manager / agent will make sure this happens) and they will get their fans following them in masses (you can observe this with Ashton Kutcher, Demi Moore, Oprah and the like). Normally they will only follow a few of their personal contacts. If you make it on their list, big advantage.
- for the rest of us following brings followers. Start with a few people who have many followers and just follow them (like Guy Kawasaki, Pete Cashmore aka Mashable etc.). Some of them use auto follow services and will automatically become your followers. They also will publish a lot of insights on Twitter to help you for next steps.
- you can also use auto follow websites and the system will make sure that you follow anyone who follows you. I recommend to use TweetLater for this. They also allow you to send your tweets at the time you wish them to go out (ideally when many users on Twitter are online).
- now you should start to use a more convenient interface than the standard Twitter one. I recommend to use TweetDeck or Seesmic, in which you can build groups and have a more selctive view on your followers. These interfaces also allow you to follow others in just a click.
- this is also the time to start tweeting and re-tweeting (RT). Many of those you RT will become followers. What to RT? Up to you, this can be news, interesting insights from others, tweets with interesting links etc. Showing what interests you will make it easier for others to decide whether they want to follow you. Be aware that at the same time you also become more transparent to all kinds of people in the online world by showing your preferences.
- you can also use link shortening services like Adjix which allow at the same time to multiply your tweets by sending them out several times (ie for Asia, Europe, US morning, midday and evening)
- your tweets should be attractive, interesting, unique, vivd, special, in order to attract followers. Otherwise you would just be one of many contributing to the information overload.
- the next thing is to be interactive, asking specific questions via @replies or DMs, thus building closer connections.
- also, you need to be generous by re-tweeting interesting tweets from others. Some will thank you by following.
- if you find especially cool twitters you can help them, by nominating them for #followfriday on Fridays (format: #followfriday @top007, that's me), again, often they will follow you.
- and then, of course, as mentioned before, the interaction of your witter acoount, blog and website will start to pay off.

When starting up you can't follow more than 2000 twitters, as twitter has built in limits to avoid spam. Once you have reached 2000 followings you need to weed out a bit and develop you follower base to come near to 2000. This is a major hurdle with which I'm currently struggling.

In my next blog I will publish a few selected links to additional information and videos.

How to get the right followers on Twitter (1)

The question I get asked most often since I joined Twitter is: how do I get more followers on Twitter? Obviously it was my first question, too, when I started in Twitter. Probably most of us go through a first phase just trying out the possibilities and some reactions of other Twitterati (power users of Twitter). In this phase we normally are unfocused and we start to 'collect' followers in some kind of a numbers game: get as many as possible. But soon everyone will realise that they should have some kind of a strategy.

A few questions to be asked are then:
* what do you want to achieve with Twitter?
* do you already have significant numbers of selected or mass followers on other platforms or social networks (your Blogs, websites, in Facebook, LinkedIn, Xing)?
* are you a celebrity and do you want to allow your fans to follow you and to have an easy way of broadcasting to or interacting with them?
* are you an expert and do you want to build and promote your profile as an industry or subject matter expert?
* are you a marketeer and making money online through click dependant ad payments or through selling electronic or print content, so do you want to generate traffic to your blog or website?
* do you want to create more group interaction and use Twitter to network with others who share your interests in a niche?
* do you want to be a multiplier of broadcast messages (on industry, economic, professional, political, social, commercial or whatever issues) which are authored by others (news channels, firms, NGOs, opinion leaders, academics)?

You will get the best out of your Twitter presence and your tweets if you are pretty clear about what you want to achieve. Depending on how you answer the above questions you will
* either be very selective and only try to get a few followers of importance for you (but remember that anyone can follow you unless you block them, which is considered not to be very cool in Twitter)
* or go for the mass follower scheme, which is typically a good strategy for the mass marketeers, MLM and click advertisors
* or finally go the middle way of having a substantial amount of followers but rather those interested in your specific subject matter expertise.

I would like to kill one misconception on Twitter right now. Twitter will not make you money. Yet, should you wish to build an online presence helping to earn some or even very substantial money, you will have to go a more elaborated path. Not difficult, but you have to do a few things more than just tweet. It's just like with the birds: tweeting is not the ultimate goal, but it helps to attract (or keep away) 'followers' who could then contribute to work towards the goals (like keeping away predators, finding more food, building a nest, and you can certainly imagine some other things). You need to consider at least three elements fora succesful money making presence in the web:
- you need a blog in which you build, grow, maintain and distribute some insights, thoughts, intellectual capital over the time. It's like writing your book, after a few weeks or months you will find some substantial assets in your blog which can be interesting for others. In this rather short term communication platform you will publish pretty frequently, daily or weekly / monthly. You will add links to your website, your Twitter timeline, to favourite videos on Youtube or elsewhere, to your pictures, videos, white papers etc.
- you need a website over which you build your brand and offer your goods or services, in electronic, print or material form. This is the stable, long term platform (the 'mothership' of your online presence, especially if you are online professionally) which you maintain and update in the medium term, every few weeks or months and to which you can add prospectus, white papers, leaflets etc.
- and finally you can and should use Twitter for driving traffic to both your blog and your website. I recommend to show your blog address in Twitter and to announce your new blogs in Twitter.

Obviously you will make sure that your blog, website and Twitter account as well as your other social network memberships are interconnected by publishing corresponding links.

Think about this but be aware that your intentions may change over time and as you get more insight into Twitter. In my next blog I will show you how to get more and the right followers.

Wednesday, May 06, 2009

Crossing the Chasm

The book 'Crossing the Chasm' was written by Geoffrey A. Moore in 1991. It explains market behaviour for high tech product. How are innovations diffused over the time. Moore explains that you can normally observe 5 phases:
- firstly, people who always buy and use the new stuff (called 'Innovators', although they are not really innovating themselves but rather using innovative products) will start to try out the product;
- the message about the innovation spreads out and a larger group of 'Early Adaptors' will jump on the moving wave.

So far this is the more or less easy part of the marketing game, once you really have made an innovation. It's not yet the place where you make substantial money, but an innovator can take pride in having been able to convince 'Innovators' and 'Early Adaptors' to buy in. Yet, the innovator must be aware that these two groups of users are pretty illoyal as the 'Innovators' will very soon hop off to follow the next new gadget. Here is the point where a chasm has to be crossed in order to reach a larger group of customers. Only when the innovation can be placed in broader markets really substantial money can be earned. The 'Early Adaptors' must be and sometimes are motivated to bring the message across to a mass audinece of potential clients. They are the multipliers who must be persuaded to 'fight for the good cause'.

In the next phases, after crossing the chasm, the following groups will have to be targeted:
- the 'Early Majority' is really most important to be found and convinced. They will buy in masses and this will bring the innovative product to it's peak performance in the marketplace. The curve will go up from a tipping point to a peak as members of this group of customers are convinced by the functionality and price / performance arguments of the product. After reaching a top performance the curve will go down again as
- the 'Late Majority' will join in, customers who will only buy once the product has become almost a commodity and a 'must'. Still a very interesting segment of customers and obviously meanwhile the product has paid off it's R&D cost.
- finally the 'Skeptics' will also buy as very late followers.

For all of these phases different marketing and sales approaches have to be applied. Most importantly the innovators (the real developers or producers of the product) have to make sure that the chasm is quickly crossed using momentum and word of mouth recommendations by the 'Early Adaptors'. Many innovations fail as they get stuck in the chasm.

The cycles in which innovative products must be placed in the markets and can be harvested have decerased considerably in time for new products. Therefore mastering the strategies and tactics of a diffusion model become ever more important. The iPod , launched before Christmas 2001 was sold 20 million times by mid 2005. After crossing the chasm it took just two years to sell it 100 million times by mid 2007. And a year later sales figures where up in the 150 million range.

The book 'Crossing the Chasm' explains the mechanism and marketing instruments to be used with innovative tech products. It still is and will be one of the most important text books for entrepreneurial marketing.

Monday, May 04, 2009

Be on top of things

Have you heard of PopURLs? If not, I think you're missing some very interesting information, fabulous pictures, videos and more. On PopURLs you will find aggregated information on many topics, searched through permanently digging through the Web. It's a great source for finding some extraordinary nuggets of articles, photos and videos on the Web. I post some of the information I read there to Twitter or will use it as a reference for future blogs. Enjoy.

Friday, April 24, 2009

My Twitter ranking


TwitRank: 3/10

starting new user

Get TwitRank Badge

Tuesday, April 21, 2009

We will have a nice summer 2009

Yesterday the Zurich Sechselaeuten took place. A big parade in historic costumes along the Bahnhofstrasse and the Limmatquai. The many Zunfte (guilds) come all in different costumes and are greeted by big crowds of people. Most of the guilds invite Swiss politicians, members of public authorities or company executives to join their group. Women and children (and sometimes men) bring their favourites flowers.

Then, and that is the most impressive part, a huge snowman called Böögg (Boogg) sitting on a large pile of wood gets set to fire starting at 6pm. The guilds horsemen ride around the scene. Everyone sees how the snowman starts to catch fire. Explosives hidden in it's inside detonate until finally the snowman's head crashes. The time until the head explodes indicates what the summer will be like. This year it took 12 minutes and 55 seconds, quite an average time. This should result in quite good summer wheather.

See pictures of the Sechselaeuten (some statistics on the duration of the snowman's fire in the German version Wiki) and visit in one of the coming years.

Monday, April 20, 2009

US house prices approaching fair values

Should the US house prices now find realistic, fair levels? The Business Insider thinks so in it's news post. Should this really be the case, this signal would be most important as it would mean that banks can model realistic values again. Based on this there would be much more trust into their balance sheets. This is of greatest importance for the economies and for valuation of banks, too. At the same time house prices could in the medium term develop again from this new baseline. Let's keep fingers crossed that the authors are right.

Alltop is on top of things

Have you already come across Alltop? It's a very interesting way for looking at the top stories in many different areas. Have a look at my selection of Alltop stories focused on HR matters. You can build your own selection of interests and individualize your content very quickly. Just follow these three steps:
- open an account on Alltop at the top of the website,
- select your areas of interest and add them to your Alltop account by clicking on the plus (+) sign
- go to the Manage tab and rearrange the areas your following

After this you will always see the most recent stories in your MyAlltop area.

GM disposing of Opel

GM has to get rid of Opel as quickly as possible. And this will also be the best option for Opel as it's parent company is struggling and might go into Chapter 11. This could also clear the road for investments or support by the German government, industrial investors or private banking turnaround financing. It will be very interesting to see what's going to happen. See today's post by Financial Times.

My public profiles

You can have a look at my public profiles on

Language of my blogs

My blogs will be in a mix of languages depending on sources. Generally I will use English for my comments, but links can lead to sources in German, French, Italian or Spanish language, as these are languages I speak or understand. This broadens the scope of media I'm following, at the same time a cross cultural content will be created.

My Tweets

Please also have a look at my miniblogs on Twitter

Largest companies

Here it is the 2009 list of the largest companies published by Forbes. The biggest three are
- GE
- Royal Dutch Shell
- Toyota Motor

The biggest Swiss company is Nestlé in position 32.
In terms of market valu the top dogs are
- Exxon
- Petro China
- Wal Mart
with Nestlé in rank 16.

The top companies in Switzerland are
- Nestlé
- Roche
- Novartis.

Full list at