How To Manage Your Digital Afterlife

Manage Your Digital AfterlifeIf the psychologist Carl Jung was alive today, he may have said, your digital world is your shadow. In many ways it’s the best representation of your personality and your aspirations because of its interactive nature. When you misrepresent yourself, you’re bound to receive feedback pointing this out.

Twitter streams are like a public journals of your daily activities, for others it’s a place to share inspiration quotes or topics you are passionate about. With the large-scale adoption of Smartphones many pieces of information about your life are automatically added to your digital persona.

In 2011, Adam Ostrow delivered a TED Talk about how to manage your digital afterlife. He posits that our lives will live on indefinitely in the Cloud. There is an increasing number of services to manage your profiles after you die. Google is one of the leaders because of the sheer scope of their reach from email to Youtube, to the forthcoming Google Glass project.

In the final solution we determine what memories we leave behind are important, because those are the ones we’ve chosen to share. Videos and photos may leave a bigger legacy than your blog because. It is through pictures our senses leap into action, remembering the sound of a voice, how they smelled or how it felt when they gave you a hug.

In April 2013, my friend, Andre August, passed away. Just last year I helped him setup his Gmail and Facebook accounts, so he can get in touch with old friends. When I received the devastating news of his heart attack, I resolved to turn his Facebook profile into a tribute. First I posted an announcement of his death and messages flooded in. A few days later I posted the funeral information and people responded. In all the years I used social media, nothing was as gratifying as when printed messages posted on his Facebook, and gave it to his 81-year-old mother.

When we die, we leave behind people, we leave behind memories. People rarely print out photos like they used to because everyone just keeps them on digital devices. Cloud storage of these digital memories will become more valuable as people are afraid to lose them. In a world filled with smart technologies where your data is automatically synced between phone, tablet, laptop or the Cloud, you have nothing to worry about; except maybe a little bit of your privacy.

In the future there will be the equivalent of the digital undertaker whose job is to clean up your profiles and preserve it for posterity. Holograms of the late rapper Tupac “resurrected” in 2012 leads to interesting alternatives to reincarnation. It is conceivable with the sophisticated artificial intelligence emerging, that can process the billions of tweets, status updates, blog posts, accurate psycho-graphic profiles of people may be developed. Using well established techniques of psychological profiling to identifying serial killers and other groups, your digital personality may one day amuse your great-great-grandchildren like Harry Seldon in the Isaac Asimov novel, Foundation.




Google plus is a minus

Google+ book by Guy Kawasaki
Most people in my workshops have either not heard of Google+ or do nothing after signing up. They feel this way because like 850 million other people, they invested heavily in Facebook profiles Google’s new social network arrived. They lament, not another social network, another profile to update. Does anyone even remember Orkut?

Google+ launched in June 2011, 7 years after Facebook, and 8 years after LinkedIn opened their doors. What many South Africans may not know is that it’s the big G’s second attempt at social networking after the failure of Orkut launched in 2004. For me Google+ is not valuable because nobody cares enough to spend real time on it. When I post an update, I do not even look at who comments.

The value of a social network is proportional to the engagement from you and your network. So when you post and nobody responds, the value is low to almost nothing – there is no engagement without feedback or sharing. After listening to investor Roger McNamee during a Bloomberg (DStv channel 411) interviewed, it confirmed my original scepticism.

Before it launched to the public, you required a Google+ invitation to join. This was the same way Gmail launched, and it was a form of permission marketing (thanks Seth Godin) that worked for the email product. For Google+ it’s become more of a form of spamming people into creating profiles.

Bruce Mubayiwa, a LinkedIn consultant, thinks Google+ prospects could get more interesting as Google increases integration. He believes there are plans to weave in Google Analytics and this could increase usage of Google+ overall.

The key realisation is that managing multiple social networks is unproductive. In the 21st century time or attention is the most valuable resource, not gold or silver. Microsoft and Google face substantial challenges as global usage of the Web moves away from the Desktop to apps on smartphones and tablets. That means more and more Internet users bypass search engines because they engage from their Twitter or Facebook apps directly.

Google must do whatever it takes to catch-up with Facebook. People have agreed to give enormous amounts of personal information to Facebook. In return Facebook gives them an online social experience like no other. In contrast Google is not where you go to connect with your family or friends. You use it mostly to search for information, maybe send emails and get on with the favourite social network or shopping site.


Links and Link Anchor Text… Vital Info

Another gem from SEO guru Tony Roocroft, a mentor and friend.

Critical to SEO Success: Link Popularity and Link Relevancy.

  • Links: You need them.
  • Links: You need lots of them.
  • Links: You need lots of RELEVANT or RELATED links

Links on a web page enable the visitor to move around within and without a website easily.

A significant proportion of any website’s visitors will probably arrive at the site or page from a direct search query. By this I mean if a searcher types in good cheddar cheese he will be taken directly to a page about good cheddar cheese. On the other hand the searcher may have come from a link elsewhere maybe the searcher had been looking at a completely different site about English cheeses and saw a link to the site about good cheddar cheese.

When I review my own websites logs I find that about 60% of all page views come from search engines. The rest from other links or bookmarks.

Continue reading “Links and Link Anchor Text… Vital Info”

Incoming search terms:


Google Real Time Search Comes to Town

Once again without too much of a fanfare Google announced another significant change that will have a serious impact upon free SEO ranking as time roles out. Announcement made on Dec 7th. The new way of representing search results is to place up to date news content above the free results and just below the paid results.

For example I did a search for Julius Malema and the number 1 result was a news post as follows:

News results for Julius Malema…
Malema’s power diminishes? – 13 hours ago
Justice Malala: The booing of Julius Malema by the SA Communist Party and the … However, the truth is that the political death of Julius Malema has been …
Times LIVE – 230 related articles »
Nationalisation not fatal: Malema? – Times LIVE – 20 related articles »
We are not afraid of the IFP: Malema? – Independent Online – 10 related articles »

Notice how fresh the result was (13 hours ago)

I know it is not fashionable to point out that SEO is going to become more and more difficult but here is yet another example of how the optimised results (especially those optimised to get rankings without due consideration to great and outstanding content… ie vast majority of SEO’d sites)

I strongly suggest you read Google’s announcement on this important change

Here’s what was said on Webpro News…

Will Real-Time Search Results Drive PPC?

“Much like with Google‘s recently launched (for everyone) personalized search results, or any other universal search results for that matter, the addition of real-time results is just one more element that can add to the challenge of getting organic results to show up high on the page. As iEntry CEO and WebProNews Publisher Rich Ord noted when talking about personalized search, this could give marketers more cause to focus on PPC, where they have more control over their campaign. This notion seems to be becoming a more common theme.”

“I certainly think this will have a more profound impact on results sitting below the Twitter feed and those above,” says Peter Young of Holistic Search, as quoted by MediaPost. “The scramble for the top positions will become fiercer. That may mean more people invest in PPC to gain more control of their presence.”

Not yet completed the survey?

Here’s that bit of a bribe again to encourage you to complete the simple survey.
The Bribe is…

Every website with a need to achieve an outcome must measure the conversion rate to the outcome. Conversion rate is defined as Number of Conversions divided by Number of Times the offer or web page was seen. In the case of a PPC campaign conversion rate is number of conversions divided by the number of clicks. A conversion can be anything you like… the 2 most common are sales and web form (lead) completion.

I am often asked 3 questions about running an Adwords PPC campaign:

  1. What is a good conversion rate?
  2. What is amount I can spend on a click?
  3. What should my daily budget be?

There are no simple answers to these questions and all are interrelated anyway. BUT and this is important…

Click here to take short survey… thank you for your time

Tony Roocroft
Tel +27114540105 or


Q&A about the Future of Social Networking

Future of Social NetworkingUsing Microsoft’s recent acquisition of a $240 million stake in Facebook as the point of departure:

1. What does Microsoft’s stake in Facebook practically translate into for the company? And for the site’s users?

Facebook now has a partner who can fund further expansion and growth as the need arises. Microsoft gains a very strong foothold into the Social Networking industry, which it has been lacking for a long time. Most user activity is now taking place online and not on the PC Desktop so this was crucial for Microsoft. For Facebook users it does not mean much because its only an advertising relationship which has been confirmed and solidified by the investment from Microsoft. Most people, and especially Facebook users, have become very savy in avoiding online advertising.

2. Why the interest in social networking sites like Facebook and MySpace by internet giants like Microsoft and Google? What is the motivation behind buying/attempting to buy stakes in these sites? Is it straight access to a demographically-specific marketing database?

Yes, part of the reason is the detailed demographics available so advertising can be customised in a very specific way. The bigger reason is that next to search engines, social networking is where the majority of Internet users are starting there online journey. Google already owns Orkut, which is very popular social networking website in Asian countries like India. And that also explains why its not well known in South Africa.

3. One of the views I’ve come across suggests that the social networking space will tend to move towards a monopoly because people need to communicate with each other in the same “language”. Basically, if most of your friends are on Facebook, then it makes sense for you to join that as opposed to MySpace to communicate with them. Others argue that users of social networking sites are non-specific. If you have a Facebook profile, you probably have a MySpace profile and you use both. What do you make of the debate?

Social networking sites can either be specialised on generalised. The roots are always in a niche community. For example MySpace started out among independent music scene in San Fransisco to allow their fans to connect with the bands, sample music and get a full gig guide. So MySpace has and will continue to have a strong foothold in the music and entertainment industry. Most of my MySpace friends in South Africa have moved to Facebook. Facebook started among university students and has spread from there. MySpace is a behemoth with over 207 million registered profiles while Facebook only has about 45 million users. LinkedIn on the other hand is the #1 social networking website for business people with over 15 million users worldwide and almost 40,000 users in South Africa.

There is a trend towards websites that allow you to tap into all your social networking profiles from one place.

4. Do you think fears of a monopoly within the social networking space drive the market price?

Yes, there is a vicious competition between Microsoft, Google and Yahoo for control of the Web. They are the biggest online publishers by a far margin because they control 3 biggest search engines. Microsoft in particular is paranoid as more and more user activities takes place online and not on the Desktop.

5. Why has Facebook taken off in a way that MySpace never did? What are the key differences?

As I said before it’s a myth in South Africa that MySpace is not important. You may consider that MySpace has been around since August 2003 and Facebook launched in February 2004. And until late last year Facebook was limited to university students only. It does seem like MySpace’s growth is slowing down.

6. What is the future of social networking? A Datamonitor report estimates social networking sites will enlist 230 million active users by the end of the year, continue attracting new users until 2009 and then plateau in 2012. What do you make of this?

That Datamonitor report is wrong because MySpace is over 207 million and Facebook is over 45 million alone. That is excluding Orkut with about 67 million users and LinkedIn with over 15 million users. Even with some overlap of users the is at least 300 million active users worldwide. We currently have 1.1 billion Internet users and almost 3 billion cellphones users. My view is that by 2010 the grow in the Web will come from people using cellphones to access search engines and social networking websites. Most social networking sites already support access via a customised mobile interface.

7. The same report suggests social networking services revenues will reach $965 million this year and $2.4 billion by 2012. Is this income generated purely through targeted advertising on these sites?

Yes, most of the revenue is from advertising. Some websites like LinkedIn is generating 1/3rd of its revenue from paid members. Most of the rest do not have any paid subscription options – just yet. Google struck a deal in 2006 that guarantees MySpace $900 million over the next 3 years for exclusive search and online advertising rights. Remember Rupert Murdoch’s Newscorp bought MySpace in 2005 for $580 million and everyone thought he was crazy.

8. Google’s own social networking site, Orkut, hasn’t gained as much popularity as MySpace or Facebook. Do you think Google’s launch of OpenSocial is aimed to popularise it so it can join the big social networking players?

OpenSocial is a application programming interface (API). What that means its an easy way for programmers to develop applications on social networking websites. Google wants to be the interface to all the social networking websites. Most users still do not know how to get directly to websites. What they typically do is Google words like “Facebook” or even “Yahoo” to find these websites. So Google will remain influential. They are appealing to the technorati, the early adopters, to built loyalty to Google, not necessarily to Orkut.


How to take control of your online profile

Have ever searched your own name on Google? I do it all the time and the results have become very familiar to me. When you search for “Ramon Thomas” on this is what you will see:

My own blog and my profile shows up twice making the 10 results displayed at a time on search engine results page (SERP). Why is this important? It wasn’t always like this. Up until about a year ago there were a few other “Ramon Thomas” characters who shared the first page of results with me.

The first thing I do these days when I engage with a new person is I Google them. I want to see how much they have taken control of their online profile. In most cases its none at all or maybe one page. Now what is the value of controlling your online profile? I will be exploring this in a series of articles on this blog where I delve deeper into each one of the above mentioned services.

What I want to stress at this point it that you must remember that the Internet is a one-to-one communication medium. Yes, thousands or even millions of people can be reading your blog or your website but they are doing it one at a time. In this sense you have to cater for that individual when you are writing. And each time someone is search for your name – that is one person at a time