For all you marketers out there who haven’t heard of

March 29, 2010 by

Here’s a thought. You know Chatroulette[1], right? Well if you don’t, you should. It’s fun. In a Big Brother-meets-Speed dating kind of way.[2]

Being fun is good (as it lowers the participation-threshold for users). Being Big Brother-like is deliciously voyeuristic. Speed dating is exciting and sexy.

Fun. A low threshold. A hint of voyeurism. A touch of vavavoom. You will have to agree with me: these features are just about everything that any SNS with plans of being successful dreams of.

To make it even better, has proven to be a capable tool for some serious viral activity. The phenomenon of the Chatroulette Piano Guy is all the (brilliant!) evidence you need to prove that point.

Well then, companies in the world, take my advice. Get your brands on there. Do it fast. Make it fun. Be one of the first to claim Chatroulette-grounds, and, I’m telling you, buzz just might be yours.


[2] Still, there are certain late-night hours when “normal” people have left and you really don’t want to be there. Trust me, you don’t.



March 29, 2010 by

All you who are tired of their online life can now find eternal rest with a push on the button of the Web 2.0 Suicide Machine, a collaboration of artists in the Netherlands. Endless status updates about your friends eating jelly sandwiches and pictures of dogs and babies can belong to the past soon, since committing suicide with the Machine will put an end to your entire virtual misery.

How does it work? The Web 2.0 Suicide Machine removes all private content from your Facebook, Twitter, Myspace or LinkedIn account and breaks off your online relationships.

The makers of the site warn you for an empty feeling right after your euthanasia. However, they reassure future suiciders that this is a normal reaction which will slowly fade away within the first 24-72 hours.

Tell me, would you take the step?

Facebook IRL

March 29, 2010 by

Try to picture yourself on a warm day in spring. You’re just taking a stroll down town. Maybe you’ll call a friend to grab a coffee together, maybe you’ll just read your newspaper on a bench in the park. You don’t know yet, you’ll see what comes along… Waiting for a traffic light to change to green, you close your eyes to enjoy a pleasant spring breeze. Then, all of the sudden, you’re startled by something tapping on your shoulder. When you open your eyes and turn around to see where this tapping is coming from, you see a man standing in front of you. He has a sheepish smile on his face. It’s like he knows you. You, however, have absolutely no idea who he… Wait a second… It’s that guy… He was in your fencing classes back in high school… Oh God, that’s like ages ago… But what was his name again? A-Aaron? Andrew?… Anthony!

Anthony, still smiling, opens his mouth and asks you:

“Do you want to be my friend?”

Would Facebook be like this in real life? London-based comedy sketch-group Idiot of Ants asked themselves some similiar questions. You can watch their hilarious video right here.

Swop’er for a Whopper.

March 29, 2010 by


Burger King much-discussed Facebook action dates back one year, but seemed interesting in the light of our social network blogging. In January 2009, the global chain of hamburger fast food restaurants launched an application they baptized “The Whopper Sacrifice.” Back then, people could get a burger for free if they “de-friended” 10 of their Facebook-friends.

In the end, Burger King had to pull the plug on its campaign. Why? Because deleted friends were not informed personally, but, instead, an update was posted on both the defriender and defriended’s Facebook timelines. It was this timeline-feature which constituted the viral mechanism of Burger King’s ad campaign, however, it conflicted with Facebook’s policy. The American fast food chain decided not to conform to Facebook’s protocol, but deactivated its application instead.

Since the love for a Whopper was stronger than 233,906 friendships, an interesting characteristic of social networking sites was unveiled: most friendships are not even worth 1/10 of a burger.

Get Connected

March 29, 2010 by

Stating the obvious: Social networks are hot! More and more people put the internet to their advantage to quickly move up in their professional life. So why not reach for the opportunity to get the maximum out of your online network?

Network sites can really help lift a your professional career. Now, I am not talking about Facebook or Hyves. No, to underwrite your cv with success, you should resort to more professional social network sites like LinkedIn. With a network of more than 42 million users worldwide, LinkedIn has established itself as the largest one of its kind.

But, how do you ensure this online success? Easy, connections. The power of online networks does not lie within your personal contacts but, in those of your network. Call it second-degree networks if you prefer. Considering that there are only one or two persons between you and the one you want to reach, the threshold is rather low. In addition, people tend to be more open if someone they know introduces you.

Once you have updated your profile and set up a considerable network, the ‘real work’ of sustaining your contacts begins. It is important to keep people updated about your activities, send them useful websites and introduce them to other contacts from your own network.

As we are now at the threshold of our professional lives, I would say: Let the networking begin!

Marketing revelations, or: be a social butterfly, sting like a bee

March 29, 2010 by

This year, I have found two marketing inspirations. The first epiphany came in November 2009, when Cédric Donck, Tagora’s CEO, introduced his company and its mantra – “It’s all about dialogues”[1] – to my fellow students and myself. The second one, was listening to an interview on[2] with the successful startup’s co-founder, Marcus Nelson. Both of these insights have helped me tremendously when I was figuring out how to tackle Eat ‘n Meet’s marketing strategy.

Before the Nelson-interview, we, the Eat ‘n Meet-team, had been frantically examining every possible element of the more traditional marketing mix. Why? Because we didn’t realize what other options were out there. Undeniably, Eat ‘n Meet was about to pay heaps of money to put those prehistoric flyers in “Guido” student welcoming packs and to rent genuine Eat ‘n Meet “stands” on student-events. We were going to invest in advertising space on other, related websites. Heck, we were even going to throw our own multi-thousand-euro events.

And then, UserVoice’s Nelson came along. Can you feel the “eureka”? I sure could.

What Mister Nelson made me realize, is that what Mister Donck had taught me (“it’s all about dialogues”) should not just remain an inspiring yet theoretical thought. On the contrary: it is totally applicable on the marketing of Eat ‘n Meet!

The best part of this kind of dialogue-marketing is: it’s for free. Twitter, Facebook, blogs… All you have to do is be out there, join in on the conversation, be interesting, be unobtrusive, be nice. Also: make sure that people know you, talk to them face-to-face, gain their trust. Listen to your users – even if they have something a bit less positive to say. Use their feedback – it will give you ideas that you and your team wouldn’t have come up with in a million years. An open dialogue, ladies and gentlemen, is everything. Especially because it’s free.

Oh, and another good one: don’t worry, be crappy.

Yes. Not a typo. Sheer genius.

What it means? It means that, as soon as you have your million dollar-idea, you throw it online – even if that means having to use the beta-est website mankind has ever seen. All you have to do is: get some critical (and I mean critical) people to comment on what you’ve got. Adapt it as you go. After a few months, leave the beta behind. Stay focused on the product. Be passionate. And, whatever you do, however crappy your website (not the idea, though, never the idea!), make sure that “feedback” is the most-used button on your site.



Lessons in Sociology

March 29, 2010 by

A fragment of my first lesson of sociology five years ago:

People’s behaviour is driven by the experience of social roles. Social roles are a part of relations. As humans are social creatures, we all find ourselves connected to others by all kinds of relationships. What is more, every relationship implies a permitted form of behaviour, guided by social norms which determine expectations for appropriate behaviour in those relationships. This way, it can be stated that every relationship is at the basis of a new social role.

With the advent of the internet and social media, we have become able to engage in virtual relationships as well. The questions this raises in my sociological mind, are: to what extent do online and offline relationships differ? Do they actually differ? Are online and offline roles formed on the same basis? Do they imply the same consequences? Do we experience the same kind of expectations in online and offline relationships?

Food for thought for a next master thesis in sociology, right?

Thus, the emergence of a virtual world provides people with a new setting in which they can engage in relationships. As mentioned before; more relationships = more expectations = more social roles.

Peggy Thoits, sociologist of course, stated that the greater the number of roles, the stronger ones sense of meaningful and guided existence. Sounds like good news.

Second lesson in sociology:

Role conflict occurs when someone is forced to take on two different and incompatible roles. The consequence is stress. Stress and wellbeing are negatively correlated.



Venture capital? No thanks, my pocket money will do.

March 29, 2010 by

For the past months, my Eat ‘n Meet team members and I have been working hard – most of the time pondering on one question.

“Of course!” you might say, “You were figuring out a way to make your SNS-service as perfect, attractive, unique, customer-friendly and what-have-you as possible!”

Sadly, dear readers and/or Eat ‘n Meet-prospects, the answer to this bold statement has got to be “no.” The truth is that, as time went by, we somewhat lost track of our core-concept in favor of another sword of Damocles which was dangling over our heads.

“But how is this possible!” you then (justly!) exclaim in horror. Well, I have to say that we were musing (and panicking) over the thing that all too many entrepreneurs tend to muse (and panic) about – that is to say:


A hard nut to crack, indeed.

Programmer, venture capitalist and essayist Paul Graham agrees, when he says[2]:

“Raising money is the second hardest part of starting a startup. The hardest part is making something people want[3]: most startups that die, die because they didn’t do that. But the second biggest cause of death is probably the difficulty of raising money. Fundraising is brutal.”

The whole set-up of the MTB SNS-project is just that: come up with a great business plan for a startup, so that you can convince investors to pump oodles of money into it.



Why would we need oodles? Think about it – you really don’t need that much to get a startup going. If you succeed in figuring out a way how to get your company ramen profitable[4] right from the beginning, a firm basis to back you up during your business’ childhood years is all you need. Heaps of investors’ money will make you hire too much people, give things out of your hands and they will change your initial entrepreneurial ethos. That’s a nono.

And why on earth would you beg perfect strangers to provide you with their money? Why can’t you just do what you’ve been doing on a daily basis since the day you said your first word: ask mummy and daddy. And gran and gramps. And friends. Whoever you know and trust and who trusts you back.

Do that, live your life as lean and mean as you possibly can and, if your idea is great enough, after a few years, you will make it. Without venture capital.


[1] To be translated as: “how on earth are we going to make enough money to refund our investors plus an ROI of at least 20%, whilst feeding ourselves and our loved ones, and not going to prison for being, well, totally and utterly bankrupt.”


[3] Obviously, this is a problem which Eat ’n Meet is not at all facing.


Must. Have. More.

March 29, 2010 by

When it comes to adding friends on Facebook, these three words seem to have become the overall mantra. But can one person really have thousands of friends?

Apparently not. At least, that’s what British anthropology professor Robin Dunbar discovered. According to Dunbar, the number of individuals someone can have a personal relationship with, is limited to 150. Our brain is just not capable of handling more friends. From Neolithic villages to modern office environments, when social groupings contain more than 150 individuals they’re too crowded and relationships start to deteriorate. 

Now, let’s get back to Facebook. Dunbar has the following to say about social networking sites: “The interesting thing is that you can have 1,500 friends but when you actually look at traffic on sites, you see people maintain the same inner circle of around 150 people that we observe in the real world.”

Conclusion? Technology is rushing forward at an ever increasing pace, but it seems like our brains aren’t keeping up.

Our ability to keep up with all those friends has been discussed in a programme at BBC two I saw a few weeks ago. It was the final episode of a series of documentaries called “The Virtual Revolution”. If you want to find out how twenty years of the web has changed our lives, you can visit the BBC site right here.

To follow or not to follow?

March 29, 2010 by

According to trend watchers, the online and offline world will become more interwoven and experiences of augmented reality will become increasingly important.

Social network sites can respond to this trend by offering an online platform on which offline activities can play a major role. Whether or not this is just a hype, responding to it seems like a fruitful strategy.

However, hypes ARE temporary. In addition, the temporary character is what makes a hype a hype. As a consequence, some may have doubts whether putting in on building bridges between the online and the offline is actually such a good idea.

In my opinion: follow the hype!

But, maybe keep two things in mind:

First of all, follow the hype before it is a true hype. Make sure you are one of the innovators. This way, you can outweigh the early adaptors and the early majority, which will probably become your competitors.

Secondly, be aware that hypes are a temporary phenomenon. So make sure you keep a long term vision in responding to the hype. Do not get stuck in blindly adapting your SNS to just any hype. In my opinion, one of the most valuable parts of a beginning SNS is space for growth, adjustment and improvement. Being proud and convinced of your idea and concept is not the same as being reluctant to allow any change or improvement.