Congregation Social Media Gathering 2013: Unique

Bernie Goldbach uses all the devices at Congregation 2013

I have just spent the weekend in a tiny wee place in the west or Ireland called Cong. Population 35 (apparently) and setting for The Quiet Man (famously). As mentioned in a previous post I was headed there to take part in Congregation Social Media Gathering, an unconference on the theme of social media. I would highly recommend perusing some of the blog papers submitted as entries to the unconference because you will definitely learn something new and at the very least you will get an understanding of how unique an event Congregation was.

While there was a certain amount of trepidation around the format (4 rotating huddles with 2 different speakers at each throughout the day) it actually worked splendidly. With 50 attendees I think there was only maybe one or two present that I didn’t interact with in this quasi-formal setting but tried to catch up with them during the even more social aspects of the weekend.

I heard presentations about affiliate marketing, about why the digital native/ migrant nomenclature is all wrong, about questioning Google’s omnipotence, about using social media in the classroom (my favourite in fact), about online donations and about developing content strategies. My own presentation is below which was developed from this article I wrote for Pixel Design about making the most of sponsored stories on Facebook, promoted tweets on Twitter and promoted posts on LinkedIn.

UPDATE June 2014: The organisers are now calling for Expressions of Interest for #Cong14 so get in touch with them ASAP. I reckon there will be huge interest this year after the success of last year.

None of your holiness at CongRegation

I’m still involved with the IIA in a very roundabout way: I remained a member of the Social Media Working Group. Like any voluntary group it is active in fits and starts. I was very happy recently to get a notification about an upcoming meeting. As usual I learned tonnes and hope I shared some information myself. There was a few things that are  well worth looking at if you are interested in social media so click on to read more.

  1. Eoin Kennedy, the group chair gave a presentation about Managing a Social Media Crisis, which is well worth a look at if you fear the worst. (But I was at pains to point out that your company is more likely not to get this amount of attention. As a complete aside I would love to do some research about how badly affected companies really are by Social Media Crises similar to those Eoin covered. I know didn’t seem to be… but I wonder how honest the companies themselves would be in responding to research questions.)
  2. Lisa Jackson of Leman Solicitors. gave a presentation about the legal aspects of creating Social Media Guidelines for the workplace. This includes very helpful tips and advice and is well worth a look. Also lovely use of Prezi 🙂
  3. Lastly the aforementioned Eoin Kennedy has taken it upon himself to organise a social media gathering in Cong, Co. Mayo which he is dubbing CongRegation. Here’s the deal from the website:

“CongRegation is a one day ‘un-conference’ social media gathering taking place in Cong, Co Mayo on Saturday November 30th.

This free ‘earned entry’ event focuses on peer to peer sharing of quality information and social media insights through a ‘huddle’ style collaborative structure.

Congregation also creates a fertile base for true social engagement and connection.

The un-conference takes place in the village of Cong in County Mayo with 100 speakers spread over 7 venues with 4 sessions.

With CongRegation:

  • Tickets cannot be purchased.
  • You pay with your insight.
  • You blog your way in.
  • Everyone is a speaker.
  • Open sharing of insights.
  • True social setting.
  • Inclusion in post event eBook.
  • All attendees are equal.”

I think this is going to be a very interesting, insightful event and would highly recommend that you get your thinking cap on and “blog your way in“. I hope to be there once I get my rant on…

How not to run an online business or FAIL

At the end of August I ordered just over €100 worth of schoolbooks from (I know, I know, I should have ordered them last JANUARY right?!)

The nippers started back in school on 30th August and no sign of the books. I couldn’t tell from the website whether they were to arrive imminently or not. Around this time I realised that I wasn’t the only customer whose books were missing but I took them at their word (to the media, mind, not me) that the books would arrive shortly. However at this time our (truly wonderful and sorely missed) childminder finished up with us so there was no one at home to receive our parcel. So I emailed them at and asked them could they deliver to my city centre office. 2 working days later I was worried about the lack of confirmation about this action.

Upon investigation online I realised that the situation was far worse than I initially thought. I also realised that I was dealing with people who were being a little loose with the truth claiming, for example, that they had contacted every single customer that was affected by what seems to be some sort of technical issue. Apparently I didn’t count as I have never received a single word of communication in any format from as I’m trying to be nice I will refer to this as “not best practice” especially as we are repeat customers.

I continued trying to get through by phone and tweeting about the issue in the extremely vain hope that someone might respond.

At this point I emailed to cancel my order. I still have no idea whether they read or acted upon that email. I thought that the books may still arrive.

By the end of the first full week (9 days of school) we decided we couldn’t possibly send the kids back to school the following Monday without books. I legged it to Reads of Nassau st one lunchtime and despite the assistance of a really helpful staff member Reads didn’t have a single one of the books (please note I was looking for Irish language books only for my Gaelscoláirí).

En route back to the office I rang the National Consumer Agency who made all the right noises in a non-committal sort of way. They sent contact details to me but there was nothing I hadn’t already gleaned from the website. I asked the NCA whether they would be investigating the issue further but the very nice chap I spoke with couldn’t say at that point. He also reminded me of our rights as online consumers which I was very familiar with thanks to my last job. One point he made was that should the books arrive AFTER I had bought them elsewhere I could refuse delivery and would be obliged to refund. Good luck with that, Rosie!

Since then I have written to the Visa Chargebacks department in the hope that my money might be refunded. I finally received a complete refund on October 8th.

Bodil Mimi Krogh Schmidt-Nielsen (b. 1918) with her childrenOn September 21st I spoke about this during my usual monthly technology slot on Splanc, Newstalk’s Irish language radio show. Obviously I’m dismayed that I’ve been badly treated, annoyed that I was out of pocket but what bugged me the most is that with the application of a little cop and some cheap or free technology a lot of this could have been fixed. If they wanted to be old fashioned about it a few grand to a half decent PR company could have saved their business. What galls me the most however is that the MD’s attitude to his customers has at the least cost him business and at most cost him his business. While I have as little care for him as he obviously has for me, I think in these recessionary times (sorry) it is practically criminal to play so fast and loose with his staff’s livelihoods and other people’s money. When I got home that evening, lo! the books had arrived and are still sitting on our sideboard in their packaging.

So what you might say? Well I think that are in fact a perfect anti-case study. I would generally avoid using negative examples but tick all the boxes.

It’s easier to keep old customers than find new ones (or as the grown ups call it Retention vs Acquisition). We have bought our books from for the last 4 years, spending at least €50 every year. have always been poor at maintaining contact, not reminding us at crucial points in the year about themselves in order to ensure our repeated custom.

Join the conversation or they will bitch about you and not even behind your back! I already knew that were poor communicators, having not received much by way of correspondence from them over the last four years; a blessing you might say in these times of bulging inboxes. It’s possible that Mr. John Cunningham, MD of, thinks that he is being stoical by refusing to engage with customers on Faceboolk Twitter, and blogs like this. He may be of the mind that it will all blow over but Gawd help the poor sucker who has to manage their SEO in the future. Considering the company is unlikely to exist in the future

Social media is all media. A storm in a tweecup can quickly become national news because you can no longer presume that the busy bodies on social media are not influencing the busy bodies in national media. This story quickly became a running theme for back to school week on Joe Duffy’s phone in radio show. became synonymous with bad customer service and it will be some time before the market will forget. What a waste of a perfect URL.


Ná déan olc

This is my column for the May 2010 edition of Beo! In it I write about YouTube which had recently celebrated its fifth anniversary. I write in particular about the issues around copyright, artists’ fees & privacy that YouTube has brought into focus in its short life.

Bhí íonadh orm nuair a chuala mé an tseachtain seo chaite go raibh YouTube ag comóradh cúig bliana ar an bhfód, fód an idirlín! Bhí ionadh orm toisc nach cuimhin liom, roimh YouTube,  cén áit a bhfuair mé físeanna de chait ag canadh is cailíní beaga ag déanamh aithris ar Beyoncéataispeáint de radharc as Return of the Jedi, fráma ar fráma, déanta le Lego. Is fíor dóibhsean a deir go líontar gach folús!

Cheannaigh Google an feidhmchlár gréasáin óg seo mí Dheireadh Fómhair 2006. D’íoc siad $1.65 billiún ar an gcomhlacht. Tá físeán lucht a bhunaithe le feiceáil, Chad Hurley agus Steve Chen, is iad ag fógairt na nuachta seo le comhphobal YouTube. 

D’fhoilsigh Nicolas Carr ‘The Big Switch’ sa bhliain 2008, leabhair a rinne comórtas idir stair na haibhléise agus fás an idirlín. Mar chuid den phlé ann, déanann sé cur síos ar an bhfíseán seo de Chad is Steve. Tá gangaid i bhfocail Carr nuair a scríobhann sé faoin mbealach a dtugann Chad “kings” ar YouTube is Google. Dar le Carr, ar nós rí ar bith, ba chóir do Chad is do Steve a bheith níos umhaile os rud é gurbh iad a “ndaorchlann“ a chur na corónacha ar a gcloigne beannaithe. Murach pobal YouTube, (lena bhfuil siad ag gabháil buíochais sa bhfíseán seo, déanta na fírinne), ní bheadh YouTube ar bith ann. An fhadhb atá ag Carr leis seo ná an easpa tuisceana, dar leis, a léiríonn na ríthe óga ar an gcaidreamh seo idir YouTube is a pobal. Is gráin leis go bhfuil an bheirt seo ag gáire faoi $1.65 billiún a fháil de bharr oibre is cruthaitheachta daoine eile.

B’fhéidir go bhfuil pointe aige. Ní eisean amháin a bhí buartha faoin bpósadh seo agus an spré a chuaigh leis. Bhí úinéirí cearta físe buartha toisc fonn fadseasta Google eolas uile an domhain a chur ar fáil do chách saor in aisce. Conas a chinnteofaí go bhfaigheadh siadsan gur leo cearta an ábhair íocaíocht ar na cearta céanna? Don duine aonair, don bhfógraitheoir nó do mhargaitheoir nó réalta éirítheach, b’fhéidir gur chuma, ach do na comhlachtaí ceoil, scannáin is teilifíse, ba dheacracht mhór é. Maireann ceist cóipchirt go dtí inniu féin gan aon réiteach ceart, nó i ndáiríre, réiteach sibhialta. Ar ndóigh ní YouTube amháin a chruthaigh nó a bhuanaigh an fhadhb ach, leis an tosaíocht a thugann Google do fhíseáin i dtorthaí cuardacha, is beag brabhsálaí idirlín nár bhain úsáid as YouTube.

Is Réidh le Cách Stiall den Duine Eile

Ar bealach sin ceann de na fáthanna a cheapaim go bhfuil pointe ag Nicholas Carr. Tá cultúr cruthaithe ag teicneolaíocht atá ag déanamh dochar airgid dúinn ar fad dar liom. Cultúr atá ag súil le gach rud saor in aisce ach a ghlacann le fógraí ar chuile rud faoin spéir. Tháinig an t-idirlíon céim ar chéim as tograí taighde ag gabháil siar go lár an 20ú haois. Bhí paisean, fiosrachas agus mórtas acadúil ag baint leis an obair a ghin an t-idirlíon is teicneolaíochtaí eile. Sa leabhar ‘Outliers’ le Malcolm Gladwell, cíorann sé an nós go caithfear 10,000 uair a chur isteach in aon cheird chun teacht ar an saineolas, bíodh sé sin ar an ngiotar, an piano nó i sampla amháin atá aige, ag clárú ríomhaire. Sa sampla aige, déanann sé cur síos ar an méid ama a chaith Bill Gates óg ag obair ar ríomhaire. Mar chaitheamh aimsire, istoíche, nó tráthnóna Dé hAoine. Ar luaigh mé go bhfuil duais don té a thagann aníos le focal Gaeilge ar “nerd” dom?

Ba thogra ollscoile Google a chruthaigh Larry Page is Sergey Brin mar chuid de chéim dhochtúireachta. Ní dóigh liom go raibh siad ag smaoineamh ar ghnéithe cosúil le ‘paid search’ nuair a chaith siad snab an choinnill airneáin i Stanford.  Bhí an bheirt acu paiseanta faoina n-ábhar ach ní raibh siad ag súil go nginfeadh a gcuid oibre ceann de na comhlachtaí is tábhachtaí sa 20ú haois. Éascaíonn na teicneolaíochtaí seo scaipeadh an ábhair ach níl sé soiléir go gcruthaíonn siad saol níos cóire ina bhfuil an saibhreas a thuilltear roinnte ar chách a chruthaigh an saibhreas céanna.

Ré Mheath an Phríobháideachais

Tharraing YouTube solas ar ceisteanna i leith príobháideachais freisin mar, cosúil le teicneolaíocht uile Greasán 2.0, tá gnéithe sóisialta ag baint le YouTube. Is féidir líonra a chruthú air, trácht a scríobh faoi fhíseáin agus síntiús a ghlacadh le húsáideoirí ar leith. Bí cinnte go bhfuil Google ag bailiú an eolais seo ar fad. An buntáiste ná go bhfeicfidh tú físeáin nua atá cosúil leis an ábhar a thaitin leat cheana. An míbhuntáiste ná ní fios duit an bhfanfaidh na téarmaí is na coinníollacha mar a gcéanna i gcónaí. Ach do na dúchasaigh digiteacha, is réidh a roinnfidh siad mianta agus sainroghanna pearsanta leo chun greim a fháil ar an tairiscint is nuálaí.

Ach le físeáin, tá priobháideachas de shaghas eile i gceist. Nuair a tharraingítear fís cé leis an fhíseán sin? An leis an té atá ann nó an leis an té a tharraing é an físeán? Cás amháin atá an-cháiliúil ar YouTube agus a luaigh an t-údar Daniel J Solove ina leabhar ‘The Future of Reputation: gossip,rumor & privacy on the internet’ (ar fáil ar líne) ná cás an ‘Star Wars Kid’. Rinne déagóir fís de féin ag troid le “light saber” mar dhea. Ní raibh sé ró-scafánta ar a chosa, bhí sé ramhar, rinne sé gleo aisteach. Tháinig gasúir eile sa scoil ar an téip is chuir siad ar líne é. Is é ceann de na físeanna is mó spléachadh ar YouTube é, ach níor chuardaigh sé an clú seo. D’fhág sé scoil de dheasca na maistíneachta a tharla chuile lá ann agus tá sé faoi chúram síciatrach. Shocraigh a thuismitheoirí cás dlí a troid le tuismitheoirí na ndéagóirí a chur an físeán ar líne. Cé go raibh mé ábalta teacht ar an uafás ábhair ina leith, ní raibh mé ábalta teacht ar oiread is focal amháin ó Google féin i leith an scéil seo. Bhí siad sásta an t-ardán a thabhairt dóibh siúd a bhí ag magadh faoin gceatán bocht seo, ach an dóigh leat go gcreideann seisean, nó a mhuintir atá ag tacú leis, mana Google, “Do no evil.”

Foursquare na gCearnóg

This is the article I wrote for the January edition of the Irish online magazine Beo! all about the newly arrived Foursquare. I go on to discuss the business opportunities Foursquare and other social sites offer the canny business person. I also reveal that I asked the Foursquare team to create a Fainne badge for venues where Irish can be seen or spoken.

Chuala mé faoi Foursquare ar dtús ó chara liom ar Twitter. Is Meiriceánach í a dhéanann an-chuid taistil ina cuid oibre le comhlacht mór idirnáisiúnta teicneolaíochta – nach méanar di!

Thug mé faoi deara giolc áthais uaithi lá amháin ag rá go raibh Foursquare tagtha go Baile Átha Cliath. Ba leor a háthas chun m’fhiosracht a mhúscailt agus thug mé cuairt ar an suíomh ag glacadh síntiús in aisce is ag cur tús le mo rannpháirtíocht i gcluiche idirnáisiúnta. Bhí taithí ag mo chara ar an tseirbhís seo toisc go mbíonn sí ag taisteal agus i ngeall ar chairde a bheith aici ar fud na cruinne atá ag úsáid na seirbhíse seo ina gcathracha féin.

Is líonra sóisialta atá ann go bunúsach. Scríobhtar teachtaireachtaí gairide mar théacs nó ó fheidhmchlár iPhone, Android, nó is féidir suíomh soghluaiste Foursquare a úsáid ar aon ghuthán le brabhsálaí air ( Blackberry nó Nokia.) Níl mórán idir na teachtaireachtaí seo agus stádas a thabhairt aníos cothrom le dáta ar Twitter, nó ar Facebook, le difríocht tábhachtach amháin: láithreacht an úsáideora. Tá an líonra seo locbhunaithe agus is é bunús an líonra ná nodanna a fhágáil faoi áit, bíodh an áit sin poiblí nó priobháideach. Is féidir le Foursquare láithreacht an úsáideora a aithint tríd an gcóras suite domhanda ar an bhfón, ball a bhfuil sé nó sí. Tairgíonn sé ionaid sa chóngar, nó is féidir áit nua a chur leis an mbunachar.


Cén fáth go mbacfá leis? Tá dhá shiocair mhaithe leis. Faightear pointí gach uair a dhéantar “check-in” agus faightear suaitheantais éagsúla fá choinne éachtanna ar leith (trí ionaid in aon oíche amháin, don chéad “check-in”, srl.) An dara fáth ná faigheann tú eolas faoi áiteanna gar duit ó do líonra féin (daoine a bhfuil aithne agat orthu agus muinín agat astu) agus uaireanta déanann na gnólachtaí sa timpeall in aice leat tairiscintí speisialta d’úsáideoirí Fourquare. Is féidir líonra a chothú ag úsáid líonraí seasta cosúil le Twitter nó Facebook nó teagmhálacha Gmail is do chairde ansin atá ar Foursquare a tharraingt isteach i do líonra gan stró. Is féidir le do chuid teachtaireachtaí Foursquare a roinnt ar na líonraí sin gan stró.

Mar seo é, bhí mé amuigh fá choinne dinnéir tamall ó shin i mbialann i mBaile Átha Cliath. Bialann ardnósach a bhí ann agus bhí an bia is an tseirbhís den chéad scoth ann. Thug mé cuairt ar an leithreas, áfach, agus bhí deistín orm fáil amach ar an gcead dul síos nach raibh ach doras amháin idir an leithreas agus an chuid eile den bialann, rud atá mídleathach i mbialann phoiblí in Éirinn, mar is eol dom. Ach mar a tharla, ba chuid de club príobháideach a bhí sa bhialann seo (agus sin scéal eile nach bhfuil ach baint bheag aige le teicneolaíocht!) agus b’fhéidir mar sin, nach mbainfeadh na rialacha céanna leis. Ach an rud a chur casadh aigne amach is amach orm ná go raibh an clár cáise fágtha díreach taobh amuigh den leithreas céanna. Múisc! Sin an nod a d’fhág mé ar Foursquare faoin mbialann sin: ná triail an clár cáise! Sin an saghas eolais a bheadh uaimse faoi bhialann. Mar gheall ar Foursquare, tá neart nodanna agam i mo phóca ó mo chairde faoi na háiteanna is fearr fá choinne radhairc, itheadh le páistí, tairiscintí speisialta, pionta, caife agus ar ndóigh na háiteanna nó na seirbhísí gur chóir dom a sheachaint!

Gradam a Bhaint Amach

Luaigh mé go mbíonn gach úsáideoir in ann suaitheantas ar leith a bhuachaint agus ceann díobh is ea ‘Méaracht’. Má thugann tú cuairt níos mó ná aon duine eile taobh istigh de dhá mhí ar an áit chéanna, déanfar Méara asat. Is Méara mé den chaife is gaire do m’oifig, fágaim. Bíonn iomaíocht idir imreoirí méaracht a fháil ar áiteanna ar leith ar ndóigh. Faoi láthair, níl ann ach iomaíocht ar son stádais ar leith, ach tharla rud domsa le déanaí a d’oscail mo shúile i leith feidhm ghnó Foursquare. Bhí mé in Ukiyo, bialann seapáineach i lár na cathrach agus tharraing mé amach Foursquare chun nod a fhágáil i leith a “Nojito”, leagan de dheoch ghlan de Mojito a bhí an-bhlasta go deo. Nuair a bhí an obair bheag seo ar siúl agam, mhol Foursquare dom cuairt a thabhairt ar theach tabhairne sa chomharsain, áit a bhfaigheadh an méara is cara, leis nó léi, deoch saor in aisce!

Tá bealach le gabháil ag gnólachtaí Éireannacha i leith na féidearachtaí a thairgíonn an t-idirlíon dóibh, na líonraí sóisialta go háirithe, ach mholfainn d’aon chomhlacht súil a choinneáil ar leithéid Foursquare,,, nó ar, nó ar aon suíomh eile a ligean d’úsáideoirí ábhar a scríobh faoina seirbhísí nó faoina gcuid tairgí. Glac leis na léirmheasanna mar aiseolas custaiméara agus tabhair faoin aiseolas (.i. faigh áit éigin eile fá choinne an cháis!). Más féidir, tabharfar duaisín ar son moltaí nó dílseacht cosúil leis an teach tábhairne sin i mBaile Átha Cliath.

Ar Son na Duaise

Fáiltíonn Foursquare roimh mholtaí i leith suatheantais fá choinne cathracha ar leith.

Mhol mé dóibh mar sin, suaitheantas go bhfaighfeadh úsáideoirí ‘Fáinne’ nuair a fhreastalaíonn siad ar áiteanna ina bhfuil Gaeilge infheicthe ( Tesco, Waterstones srl.) deich n-uaire nó níos mó, nó nuair a fhreastalaíonn siad ar áiteanna inar féidir Gaeilge a úsáid níos mó ná trí uaire ( Club an Chonartha, siopaí nó gnólachtaí inar féidir gnó a dhéanamh trí Ghaeilge, comhlachtaí stáit cosúil le hOifig na bPasanna srl.). Cuirfidh an suaitheantas seo i gcuimhne do dhaoine a gcuid Gaeilge a úsáid nó, ar a laghad, tarraingeoidh sé a n-aird ar an rud go bhfuil Gaeilge le feiceáil sa timpeall. Mar a tharlaíonn sé, sin é misean Foursquare: daoine a ghríosadh chun aithne a chur ar a gceantar agus ar a dtimpeallacht, rud a luíonn go dílis le misean gluaiseacht na Gaeilge.