Meet The Social Traveler & help him help small charities
16May12

Bjorn Troch is The Social Traveler

Bjorn Troch is The Social Traveler

Last year I met a Belgian guy who made me insanely jealous. He was traveling the world indefinitely using social media to connect, find places, set his itinerary and generally have a great time.

Along the way he was tackling crazy challenges suggested by the online community he has fostered. Right now he is riding alone on a tandem bike from Kuala Lumpur all the way to Hong Kong. He’s trying to do the ride of more than 5000 km in 3 months.

His name is Bjorn Troch and he calls himself The Social Traveler.

Turns out Bjorn is a really nice guy, which probably explains why his adventure is still progressing smoothly after a few years of non-stop country hopping.
Beyond having a great time and making us office workers jealous, Bjorn is also trying to make a difference to the communities he visits along the way by helping small local charities in each area.

And that’s where you can help. I have chipped in to sponsor a few kilometers of Bjorn’s travels knowing he will help small charities along the way….and I encourage you to do the same. It doesn’t take much to make a difference in some of these communities so help Bjorn help other and then follow his adventures from the comfort of your laptop.

Here is Bjorn’s full story….

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The Evolution of SXSW [Infographic]
15May12

by [me]

Recently I have been championing a move to hold a large innovation and tech festival in Newcastle, Australia. We’re calling it DiG. So far it has a group of people working on the concept, a website and Twitter handle. We’ve still got a long way to go.

The encouraging thing is that “from little things big things grow”. Look at this infographic from the team at Rock Sauce Studios on the rise and rise of SXSW in Austin, Texas. They only expected 150 to show up to the first year, they got 700. This year the Interactive Festival at SXSW drew over 19,000 visitors.

SXSW has been amazing for the Austin economy and a fantastic event for launching new products and services. Maybe one day DiG could have a similar effect here in Australia.

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The truth about banner ads [Infographic]
9May12

by [me]

Since the down of the commercial internet in the early 1990′s banner ads have been the default form of advertising. Google shook things up massively with their Adwords program but most media sites still rely heavily on banner ads for revenue.

Banner ads have always stuck me as old media imposing their old models on new technology. However, measurement is different as advertisers were encouraged to look at clicks rather than exposure, as they would have done with press display ads. Branding became less important and click-through became the goal.

The question is do banner ads really work? Are they effective? This nice infographic from the team at Prestige Marketing explains who’s clicking, who’s not clicking and why.

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Australia’s Top Media & Marketing Blogs (according to AdAge)
2May12

By [me]

A few years back Advertising Age in the USA launched the Power 150 international ranking of media and marketing blogs. It caused quite a fuss. I thought it would be worthwhile revisiting the Power 150 to see how much has changed. There have been a lot of commercial entries in the last few year compared to the pure blogs that first appeared.

Here is the latest list of Australia’s Top Media & Marketing Blogs according to AdAge Magazine. The rankings take into account a range of factors, some more US-centric, but it gives an good indication of which sites are making an impact. Check them out and support Australian bloggers.

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Newcastle radio: AM stations fall in Survey 1, 2012
20Apr12

by [me]

The latest Newcastle radio ratings delivered bad news for those stations on the AM dial with both 2HD and ABC1233 recording significant falls.

NXFM topped the ratings again with a share of 18.9%, holding out stablemate KOFM on 17.6%. NEWFM recorded a rise of 1.1 for a share of 8.8% whilst NXFM was the only other station to increase their share.

The real damage was on the AM dial where both 2HD and ABC1233 dropped 2.8%.

For 2HD it was their lowest ratings in the last few decades and signals a significant loss of support. The station lost share in every demographic including a massive loss of 7.2% with the 65+ audience who had previously been their main supporters. 2HD also went down in every shift except Drive, including a drop of 5.3 in Mornings with John Laws.

The cumulative audience figures were even more revealing. 2HD now has a cumulative audience of just 65,000 for the week, while ABC1233 who also took a big hit still has 19,000 more listeners across the 7 days.

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The price of bad advice
11Apr12

by [me]

I came across three pieces of mind-numbingly bad advice today, all from experts in their respective fields, all to prominent organizations. Each of them have caused me to question:
A) the quality of expert advice
B) the lack of digital knowledge in the business world
C) how organizations can determine which advice they can trust.

But let’s start with the bad advice. These are clangers.

The first company, a prominent industry leader, wants to get more search traffic for a new service they offer. Whilst weighing up an organic search engine optimisation strategy they’ve received advice from an Adwords specialist. The response: spend the budget on an Adwords campaign because the clicks from the traffic will increase your organic search results.

WRONG. There is no relationship between paid results and organic search results. Organic search results come from a combination of inbound links (indicator of popularity) and on-page optimisation for targeted terms.

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Newcastle near back of queue for NBN. What should we do?
29Mar12

As expected, the National Broadband Network won’t be coming to Newcastle any time soon. Gosford gets it. Coffs Harbour gets it. Newcastle doesn’t for some time yet.

This was a topic of vigorous discussion at the last Lunaticks Society meeting, where it was suggested by people in regular contact with NBNCo and their suppliers that Newcastle wasn’t on the short term list.

Today the NBNCo announced their Three Year Roll-out Plan. The Prime Minister proudly trumpeted that areas like Campbelltown, Gosford and Coffs Harbour were next on the list but no mention of Newcastle and the Hunter.

The rather ambiguous roll-out plans on the NBNCo site suggests that work will “commence” in Newcastle and Charlestown areas some time before June 2015, with it being operational within 12 months of that. So maybe we will have NBN broadband by June 2016….over 4 years from now. And that commitment is only to 25% of the households in suburbs listed.

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4 years and 34000 tweets later….
28Mar12

by [me]

I joined Twitter 4 years ago today. At first it was mainly to help co-promote the launch of the Age of Conversation. Like many business owners I was skeptical about this new messaging system and didn’t use it much to begin with.

I remember going to a PubCamp in Sydney hosted by Jed White (who later became a good friend) and being somewhat bemused by a team of people from Happener led by Markus Hafner (who later became a friend) all furiously tweeting from their laptops while speakers did their presentations. It all seemed a bit silly.

But inevitably I began using Twitter more and more. I remember Gavin Heaton (who has become a good friend) telling Gordon and me that it won’t be until you have at least 50 followers and are following at least that many that we’ll see the value in Twitter.

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A perfect storm is changing retail forever
26Mar12

by [me]

We are experiencing a permanent shift in shopping habits from which many brick and mortar retailers will never recover.

After the initial hysteria and over-hyped promise of online shopping in the late ’90s dot-com boom, most retailers shrugged off the threat of online and continued with their traditional business models. The prosperity of the new millennium in Australia meant that retailers were profitable and the apparent need for change was unnecessary.

But as the decade continued online was becoming much more sophisticated. Social networks sprang up to increase connectivity and word-of-mouth, and e-commerce became an easier function to execute. Online giants like Amazon, e-Bay and Apple introduced millions of consumers to simple electronic transactions, steadily decreasing the fear of credit card fraud.

The storm clouds for retailers were on the horizon but only a few paid them any attention.

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How Austin – home to SXSW – stays vibrant with tech and innovation
19Mar12

A growing theme on this blog has been about how to grow a smart and innovative city. Its something we’ve been tackling here in Newcastle as we evolve from our old industrial base to something more vibrant and sustainable.

One model we’ve been looking at is Austin, Texas. Over the last decade Austin was the 3rd fastest growing city in the USA, booming to its current population of 790,000.

Its no coincidence that Austin is home to the famous SXSW festival, part of which is one of the biggest tech industry events in the world. This has led to Austin becoming home to around 3900 tech companies employing over 100,000 people.

Here is a 30 second video from Susan Davenport, senior vice president of the Austin Chamber of Commerce explaining how technology and innovation have helped build a great city.

Other posts on this topic:

My plan for creating an innovative city

How to build a smart city