Tuesday, 13 December 2011

Thanks for the Memories. See you in 2012.

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Thursday, 27 October 2011

Online Reputation Management – How Important Is It?

The term “online reputation management” has been thrown around a lot recently, especially in relation to public relations nightmares some companies have experienced. It seems that rogue PR professionals are posting inflammatory Tweets or blogs, or maybe a company’s website was hacked and damaging information was released. On the other hand, you’ve probably also heard of companies with a great online reputation who are known to interact meaningfully and positively with their customers. Online reputation management is an essential part of public relations in the 21st century.
You may have never thought much about online reputation management. You may have been taught that the best reaction is no reaction, and that if you ignore a pest it usually goes away. While that may be true, taking no action to a cyber-assault on your good name is definitely a bad idea. Negative opinions and misrepresented fact can tarnish your clean reputation immediately and ruin an otherwise trustworthy name, especially in the times we live in today, with technology and the online world growing at a rapid rate. Online Reputation Management is now essential to any company or service wanting to maintain a clean and untainted online image.
Let’s first define ORM. Online Reputation Management can be defined as “the process by which a company can build positive feedback, respond to negative sentiments about their brand in online conversations and minimise the effect of negative publicity by suppressing damaging web pages in Google search results.” (http://www.targetinternet.com/, 2008. A practical guide to online reputation management).
As online discussions on forums, Twitter, Facebook and product review sites become more popular and customers turn to these channels as part of their buying decisions, companies need to be aware of where and how their business is being discussed. Every day, lies and rumours fill these forums. Search engines looking for fresh content place these postings at the top of their results. There's no “undo” button, and defensive posts may make matters worse.
By continuously updating and adding new and fresh content, this situation can be prevented. Strict adherence and close attention to content and responding effectively and courteously on all platforms is one of your best weapons in the arsenal of ORM. If your customers like your content, they’ll tell their friends about it via email or social media. This means you have to produce the best content possible to manage your online reputation.
However, if there is a lack of attention to posts and complaints, or if the content is managed badly, the consequences can have far reaching effects .One example of this is the horrendous way Nestle handled their Facebook interaction with its customers and clients. Nestle, in all their glory, decided to place their interns (and the “less experienced” personal) in charge of their Facebook group. Nestle told their fans and customers that if they used an altered Nestle logo as their profile picture they would be removed from the group. The following image depicts the interaction between Nestle and the users:
The problem, obviously, is Nestlé’s response to people who didn’t like the initial statement. It’s PR 101: Don’t insult your customers. And in PR 2010, mind your manners in public forums — especially those expressly created for fans of your company. Nestle ultimately alienated and angered many of its customers and in turn, took many months to recover successfully.
Your online reputation can be seen in a number of ways. Whether you’re seeking employment, selling a product, looking for an investor or trying to score a date, someone is going to turn to a search engine to learn more about you, and when they do, only flattering and complementary information should be seen.
There are many companies offering the service of ORM today. The key is to find the right one for you. Due to the sensitive and volatile nature of the online world, highly skilled expertise is needed when managing and monitoring your online image. So be careful when deciding who you want in the hot seat.

Thursday, 6 October 2011

Google+ and stuff

It’s been a couple of weeks since I've been given a chance to post and a lot has happened in the world since then: Tons of Facebook changes, Google plus being opened to the world, Typhoons in South Africa, a crashing South African Rand. And most recently today the death of an icon: Mr Steve Jobs himself.
While this is not a post dedicated to the great man himself I would like to take this opportunity to pay homage and thank him. As Barack Obama put so succinctly, “There may be no greater tribute to Steve’s success than the fact that much of the world learned of his passing on a device he invented”.
On a more personal note there has also been a lot of interesting and exciting news here at Firewater. We’re busy working on a lot of internal upgrades and a couple of exciting mystery projects!
Back to Business™!
Since Google plus opened to the public it has seen a HUGE increase in registrations. Current figures put the number of Google+ users at over 50 million! That’s 50 million users in just 3 months! In comparison, it took Facebook 3 years and 8 months to reach the 50 million mark.

(handy graph courtesy of Leon Håland).
Almost every website that has any sort of share links now includes a +1 amongst the more “traditional” Facebook and Twitter links.
Possibly my favourite thing about Google+ is that even with Google’s inclusion of the social games they have kept our feeds clean from the general spam that these games produce. Their innovation of having a completely separate feed for games which I never have to see makes it a clear winner in my opinion.
3 months down the line and Google+ is well poised. As things stand they already have the major players in the social media space reacting to their innovations. We’re looking forward to what Google will do with this new found social power!

Friday, 30 September 2011

Hacky time lapse experiment

End of month-week-day hacky sack playing in the parking lot. Filmed on an iPhone with iMotion HD. Anyways - we clearly need a lot more practice!! 

Have a great weekend and we will see you in October!

Thursday, 29 September 2011

African Sales >> Fragrance Sale

It is our duty to let everyone know that our up-the-road-neighbour African Sales is having their bi-annual fragrance sale. (Our hidden agenda is that the queue is so long our spouse's don't make it in!!!) It starts from Fri 30th Sep 2011 until Sun 2nd October 2011.
They supply most of the famous brands to all the big retailers - great pre-xmas shopping at dirt cheap prices!! Get there early or late as lunch time is pure chaos! Take snacks, drinks and sun protection & an umbrella!
PS: Don't squat in our parking bays - and if you do - come in and say hi!!
  • Fri 08:00 - 19:00
  • Sat 08:00 - 16:00
  • Sun 08:00 - 12:00
  • 25 Commerce Cres East (across from Sandton Action Cricket)
  • Eastgate Extension 12 (NOT BEDFORVIEW - By Krammerville)
  • Sandton
  • Tel: +27 118094000
  • http://maps.google.com/

Thursday, 8 September 2011

Facebook Places and Check-in deals

Facebook is notoriously bad at communication around their new initiatives and labelling the products clearly and concisely. The average man in the street will easily get lost when trying to setup an advertising campaign or check-in deal for their business. The money wasted daily must be mind-blowing.
A couple of weeks ago I came across a certain article that put me in a flat spin. The headline read: “Facebook Deals shuts down”. My heart fell through the floor. How can they do this to us? I had just sent a brand spanking new business strategy which hinged on Facebook Deals at its core.
I continued to read and found that as is all things Facebook the association with the word deals seemed to have been extended in America and in fact the part of Facebook Deals they were shutting down mirrored the concept that Groupon was built on.

This did not have an effect on the strategy I had just sent off. Heart = firmly back in my chest where it belongs. So what did it really mean?
The original article posted here: http://bit.ly/mVqItU on memeburn explains the whole thing in a lot more detail. But basically it means Groupon type deals died a premature yet probably well timed death and Facebook Places Check-in deals are still alive and kicking.
With the recent kick-off of Facebook check-in deals in South Africa I feel Firewater Interactive is well positioned to pioneer this exciting new development from Facebook.
Facebook Check-in deals come in 4 different types. These are Individual deals, Friend Deals, Loyalty Deals and charity deals. Each has been tailored to a specific use.
  • Individual deals are great for offering specials on specific products, free gifts or a launch of a product or service. This one is great for anyone from Spa’s to Supermarkets.
  • Friend Deals are great for group specials and deals when a specified number of people check-in as a group to receive the deal. This would also work for any business but would be especially suited to restaurants and bars.
  • Loyalty deals are great for business owners looking to reward their regulars. By checking in a specified amount of times the person may receive a gift or discount at your business.
  • And lastly Charity Deals are used to raise money for a chosen charity. By customers Checking-in they are donating via your business to the chosen charity.
In essence Facebook Check-in Deals are an amazing concept that needs to be fully explored and played with in order to really understand the full power.
Take a look at AVIS South Africa who is one of our newest clients. They are forging ahead with Facebook Places and Check-in deals with a great discount on weekend rentals. You may find their Facebook Fan page at the following link: http://www.facebook.com/AvisSouthAfrica

If your business is looking for a great Facebook solution with or without Facebook Check-in deals give us a call and we will tailor make your strategy hand in hand with your specific needs while remaining within your budget.

Thursday, 1 September 2011

What do Facebook and Spring Day have in common?

Facebook changed over to the new OAuth 2.0 protocol today and have given us just one more month to ensure that we change all our apps and fan pages from HTTP to HTTPS.
What difference will this make for a general user? And what does this mean for us as developers? How will this change how we develop for Facebook?
The major benefit for the end user will be secure browsing. Currently if you have turned on secure browsing in your settings if you navigate to a fan page which wasn’t secure Facebook would prompt you with the following.
If you click continue your entire session will be conducted under a regular HTTP session and will no longer be browsing securely. Not just on that page but wherever you go on Facebook. Closing your browser doesn’t help (if you are like me and stay logged in). The next time you open Facebook you will still be browsing un-securely.
Previously, the only way to browse securely again was by going into your account settings and changing your settings again. Now, by logging out and logging back in, it will restore the secure browsing settings in your browser. Once the change to HTTPS hits on the 1st of October you will no longer have to worry about this issue. All browsing on Facebook will be available through secure HTTPS connections.
As far as development goes: Developers won’t actually have to change anything about the way they develop for Facebook. The Facebook Graph Toolkit is already using OAuth 2.0 to authorize its users, as well as using the signed_request parameter (a parameter used by Facebook to pass information to iFrame applications).
Unfortunately anyone who wants to create an application in a Facebook fan page now has to acquire a SSL certificate for their domain in order to host their application. This will increase the cost of your hosting as well as possibly causing some (slight) performance (speed) issues.
All in all, in my humble opinion, I believe this to be a very positive change for Facebook; cutting down quite dramatically on the number of users who get their accounts hacked and making Facebook more secure in general.
And what does any of this have to do with Spring Day? Well, nothing really, but in honour of Spring Day we had our very own Squirrel (SQUIRREL!!) create an awesome Spring Day background for your PC. Download your own Firewater Interactive background and feel the awesome!

Thursday, 25 August 2011

Random office musings and musings of office

I was looking around the office the other day and realised something. Our offices are awesome. I may have become slightly jaded after seeing the same things every day but I still feel we’re lucky to work in such an awesome environment. We might not be the Google offices (yet!) but we’ve certainly got a comfy thing going for us: Foosball, Air Hockey, Guitar Hero and one of the coolest and comfiest boardrooms ever.

When you can nap on your boardroom couch (after hours of course) you know it’s comfy.

Most of the art in the office is the creation of our very own Kyle, who in some quiet patches (sure he wishes he had some of those at the moment) a couple years back started doodling on our walls. Over the years we’ve added more and more until we have the awesome artwork you see below.

Air hockey table (about to be put to good use in our latest air hockey double’s championship):

The Fishbowl (Our 2nd boardroom /lunch room when not in use):

We also have a showroom for our sister company Firewater Light which pictures really don’t do justice. Come and visit us and we’ll show you all our cool toys (including the homebuilt canon – we blew a tennis ball almost over the river once).

Oh and let’s not forget the developers’ best friend: the cappuccino machine! One can’t be a brogrammer (no, that isn’t a typo http://b.qr.ae/nn0WqM) without a great cup of really strong coffee.

All of this along with the awesome people mean I still wake up most mornings excited to come to work. Watch out Google, Firewater's on your tail!

Thursday, 18 August 2011

An Ode to Kettle

An Ode to Kettle.

Alas poor kettle I knew you well.

4 Years of dedicated service. Constantly being pushed to boiling point by all who work with you but never exploding. Over the years you have serviced hundreds of clients and employees alike, never wavering in your duty. We know we put you on a pedestal but you never failed to live up to the faith that we put in you.

Over the years of dutiful service you have gotten weary. You have endured much abuse. You have spent many a day working overtime with the team, often the only companion to a poor team member working late into the night.

You may often have felt neglected or ignored. We brought in shiny, flashy new replacements: coffee machines, espresso machines, water coolers but, in the end, we always returned to you.

You will be missed dear friend.

Your parting was sudden and left us all bereft.


The Firewater Team

Thursday, 11 August 2011

What do you love? An initiative by Google

The Google team wanted to be able to show people more of what they do in a fun and engaging way. They posed the question: How could they connect people with products they may not know of but might find very useful?

Trying to find a solution to the challenge the Google team produced a website which we at Firewater find very interesting and thought we should share.

The website is called: What do you love? And you may access it through the URL: http://www.wdyl.com

Try it out, input the subject you are most passionate about and click on the heart button to start the search. Basically it aggregates the products and tools that you may find useful. We believe “applications” like these have an excellent future in the ever changing landscape of the online space.

What do you love?

Thursday, 4 August 2011

Initial views on Google +

Last month Google launched their new social media platform Google+. Not being a fan of social media in general I was sceptical at first about the NEED for another “Facebook”. Surely one such platform was enough? But nevertheless I finally gave in and accepted one of the many invites I received. After playing around with it for several weeks I finally feel confident enough to give it a decent and fair review.

First Impressions:

Google+ is quiet. Not quiet in a bad way mind you, just quiet. It’s fantastic to see my user page and not be bombarded by millions of apps and adverts. It has a nice, clean and simple UI. One of my big issues with Facebook is the sheer amount of clutter that has built up over the years. Maybe it’s just my specific OCD coming into play but the clean layout that Google+ presents me with allows me to focus more on what the people I follow are actually saying.

Another new innovation is the idea of circles. Google lets you add people to different circles. It has preset circles in place: Friends, Family, Acquaintances and Follow. However it also allows you the ability to create your own circles. On Facebook everything I share is available to everybody on my friends list. On Google+ I could create a new circle, add those people I want to that circle and then only send messages to them.

There are a number of ways to add people to circles. You can click on their name which will give you a list or, and this is one of my favourite features, you can just drag and drop their portraits into the circle you want to add them to.

Here is a cool little vid exploring circles on Google+

Something which has always bothered me about social media is there is no way to retrieve all your information once it’s on the site. There is no way to download all your photos off of Facebook or all your tweets off of twitter. In fact anything you post on Facebook is partially owned by them too! Google+ allows you to download all your data. Want to download just the images from your albums? Just your comments or statuses? You can do it in a bulk download or as separate smaller pieces.

Google+ Mobile App

Both Android and iPhone have come out with mobile apps for Google+. While I haven’t unfortunately had the opportunity to download one myself I’ve had several report backs. A friend of mine stated: “Simple and elegant - no clutter or confusion. I found it to be much more intuitive than Facebook apps for android. Sharing photos and locations is smooth, no bewildering ‘eek, where am I now?’ moments.”

Here is a simple intro vid for the mobile app.

Some Interesting statistics

Google has mostly throttled access to Google+ and still they have reached 20 million + users within than a month of its extremely premature release.

As one would expect the majority of Google+ users so far are based in technical occupations such as Engineers and Developers

1. Engineer 28,886 (24.56%) (24.56)

2. Developer 15,962 (13.57%) (13.57)

3. Designer 12,669 (10.77%) (10.77)

4. Software Engineer 11,818 (10.05%) (10.05)

5. Writer 5,734 (4.88%) (4.88)

6. Web Developer 4,972 (4.23%) (4.23)

7. Software Developer 4,317 (3.67%) (3.67)

8. Programmer 4,095 (3.48%) (3.48)

9. Photographer 3,586 (3.05%) (3.05)

10. Artist 3,276 (2.79%) (2.79)

11. TOTAL 117,620 (100%)

As such due to these professions being mainly dominated by males the current gender split of users on Google+ is not evenly distributed at all.

Male 3,143,433 (71%)

Female 1,226,716 (28%)

Other 42,077 (20%)

TOTAL 4,412,226 (100%)

Latest statistics put the male female split at around 66% male/33% female.

Top 10 Countries

United States 433,545 (55%)

India 142,339 (18%)

Brazil 41,605 (5%)

United Kingdom 38,917 (5%)

Canada 29,490 (4%)

Germany 26,494 (3%)

France 22,613 (3%)

China 20,766 (3%)

Spain 19,370 (3%)

Taiwan 19,280 (2%)

TOTAL 794,419 (100%)

It would also seem as if most Google+ users are loyal to the brand with 59% of people accessing Google + through Google chrome.

We here at Firewater are looking forward to seeing how this new environment develops. I personally believe that I have found my new social media home.

All the above statistics are courtesy of http://www.findpeopleonplus.com/statistics and http://www.pcmag.com