Kris Kullengren

Catalyst for Change

To be completely honest with you I have never been a big fan of twitter. 

In a way it is strange since I should be attracted to the minimalist format and the need for efficiency when sharing information due to the limitation in characters. On the other hand perhaps it is completely natural that I am not drawn to it considering that I already have a short attention span and it only drives my stress levels to new heights when I see snippets of information in such a non-structured way that the only real way to describe it is complete and utter chaos. I do understand that if I spend time I can probably use hash tags, lists and other things to make it readable but just the fact that I have to kind of put me off the platform for good. 

This does not mean however that it does not interest me both as a social enigma and a pretty powerful tool for attracting business and maintain contact with a customer base. It seems that just about everyone (at least in Japan) between 15-25 has a twitter account and since they are spending all their time staring at their screens anything that puts a message in front of them is interesting. 

There are now tons of tools that tie into twitter for you to make use of their network to flog any product you have just come up with in your garage to the latest meme that your talented designer thought of last night. I am currently mainly interested in the live video streaming functionality. It is clear from the way that Facebook has changed their algorithm, to promote live video 7 times higher than text posts, that the social networks that have been built up over the last 10 years are going the way of video in general and live in particular. What used to be the domain of broadcasting companies is now in the hands of the consumer, real-time, live and 24/7. For better or for worse we are now plugged in and unless you make a conscious choice not to, you will bombarded with everything from lulcatz to smiling dogs and pandas mixed with commercials for your favorite detergent.

Personally I am interested in how ideas take root, spread and get regurgitated over their lifetime to the point when they turn into institutions or what we sometimes refer to as "common knowledge" I would not go as far as saying that one platform is better than another but since I like to know how things work I decided to give promoted ads a test. 

I created a tweet like this "Testing tweet ptomtion. ツイートプロモーションをテストしています。Retweet if u 2 are a guerilla marketer. "

My spend limit was 10 dollars/day and I set the limit for 2 days since all I wanted was a test. I have no product to sell or idea to push so I decided to measure ROI based on how many click through's I had to my website. 

The Twitter interface is super clean and the analytics is good so it was easy to see the actual reach my campaign had. Remember that I have only 12 followers for this account so I was not really expecting anything amazing....

The result:

5223 impressions 
703 post engagements
63 blog views

Hm...I guess the tweet was seen in a lot of people's timeline but I am quite confused about the "engagement" part. I had only 2 likes and 63 click through's so I am not sure that this is a good matrix to measure anything. 63 blog views is pretty nice and if I was actually selling something perhaps I would have gotten 1 or 2 sales out of this. 

It was a good start however and I think that if real contents, like live video, is pushed through an active account (one with more than 12 followers) the results could be much more exciting. 



There are many thoughts on why we get so addicted to social media and the dopamine kick that we get every time someone likes one of the pictures we posted of yesterdays scrumptious dinner. One the one hand you have the gratification you get from the phone buzzing with yet another message while on the other we have the fact that you can get more or less instant feedback on any contents that you produce.

Leaving aside the discussion on whether the devious marketers out there have figured out how our brains respond to these intrusive messages (I turn all notifications off) and how to tap into our addictive personalities I have during these last 3 months thought quite a lot about the real value of a click through or a page view.

Let me start with the conclusion that i have reached which is "Not all clicks are equal"

Rewinding time a bit further this train of though actually started when I picked up the domain "". I wanted to look into how the latest Google search algorithm worked and can not say that I was not a bit surprised that this domain was available for purchase. My theory was that Google was penalizing contents aggregation farms in the rankings and that there was actually some manual work being done as to who was ranked on top. Yes, yes, I admit it, I have quite a cynic view when it comes to the honesty of large corporations.

Anyways, using Yahoo pipes and two other websites that I ran in parallel I aggregated my own contents and had the site re-post it with a new time-stamp every three seconds so that I looked as though I posted more news than Reuters, Bloomberg and CNN combined. My theory was shattered in the fact that not only did I rank top on all search engines for the search term Google play" but I had to start load balancing servers to deal with the increased traffic.

The experiment ended abruptly when Google decided to release their online platform Google Play and found out that they did not own the domain. Lawyers contacted me and I happily handed over the domain after many many e-mails both from ICANN and shady Russian domain traders giving me "tips" on why I should sell it to them.

Years later and I am now in a position where a large portion of my business is generated online. As I just mentioned increasing web traffic is a fairly simple operation but when you need to convert this into business you also need to consider the root of the traffic and not just the volume. The truth of the matter, as any online market guru will happily explain to you, is that a large number of the clicks out there are performed by robots. There are Twitter, Facebook and Instagram accounts that are set up just to click on links that people post or to follow certain accounts. I am sure you have seen advertisements for "get 5000 followers in an instant" on any given Social network. These are just some of the robots out there. You also have the search engine bots crawling the web for updates and new contents as well as bots like the one that I set up aggregating contents from just about everywhere and anywhere.

What about advertisement then?

Ask yourself this question, how many time when you search for something on your favorite search engine do you click on the advertisement at the top? For me I would say that I only do it when I am very close to making a purchase. When I am browsing for information I want blogs/articles and real user feedback rather than the company site itself which, as I explained above, I tend to trust about as far as I can throw it. Most companies know this as well which is why the cost of ranking top for google paid search on popular keywords is expensive to the point where for a small startup it might not be realistic to even use it except for with very niche search terms.

Social media is a whole other beast and many of marketeers rack their brains on getting not only likes for their page so that they can organically push contents for brand awareness but also hopefully get some sales in the process. There are multiple ways of getting people to click on advertisement in Social media and the first question we should ask ourselves is do we want volume or quality. If it is volume that we are interested in then a giveaway of product or service is by far the easiest way to get traffic. Who does not love a free sample or perhaps the opportunity of winning a fantastic prize. Quality however can be very tricky. It is said that the average attention span of generation Y,Z is about 8 seconds which means that you have time for about 1 picture and a catch phrase. Writing long beautiful stories is doomed for failure as people jump to the next cute cat video that their friend just shared for the 5th time.

Short, sweet and packing a punch that talks directly to the need of the customer seems to be the recipe for success. Always A/B test with different images/messages and when you try something new be ready to release at 80% instead of wasting time perfecting it. Should you find a hit then spend extra time perfecting it at stage 2.

Also make sure that you focus on your own conversion pages as many times you turn on the traffic tap and get tons of inquiries but they do not convert because of something that you forgot in the ordering process.

Finally test, test and test again. Get some friends or colleagues to do a blind test and order the product/service to make sure that it really gets delivered.

Good luck and feel free to contact me with any questions you might have.

My phone rang just after 5pm in the afternoon and when I looked at the screen I saw that it was a gentleman in his early 60's with whom I have had a business relationship over this last year. Staying true to the Japanese way of doing things we have of course been out for dinner and drinks on a number of occasions and I have also had the pleasure of taking said gentleman to the embassy to experience at least a taste of Swedish culture.

We politely exchanged greetings and thank you's for last time and pleasantries about the weather and such after which he in English, we always speak English, asked me "Could you please explain critical thinking to me?"

The background to this is of course that the Ministry for education in Japan has announced reforms to the Japanese curriculum from 2022 which will include not only critical thinking but also discourse, debating and presentation skills. There is quite a few of the older Japanese generation who have gone through the American University system and then more often than not a liberal arts college where the focus is on creating well rounded thinking individuals who process information critically and objectively. This sits in stark contrast to the Japanese system which is extremely uniform and fits students into existing templates which are, more or less, designed to give them an edge when they go through the black suit hell which is commonly known as "job hunting".

Excited by the idea of discussing such an interesting topic with my business partner but also slightly baffled as how to accomplish this task we set up a time and a place to meet. Then I did what I usually do when faced with a dilemma like this, I woke up early in the morning and started racking my brain for the essence of the topic.

What is critical thinking......?

The very first thing that came to mind was just to ask why?
Children, with their blank canvas inquisitive minds keep asking you why, why, why until they get to a point where they realize that you just do not have anymore information to give them. Socrates was killed for his unrelenting insistence in asking why and I know from my own experience that our western education systems tells us that "there are no stupid questions only stupid answers"

A good start perhaps but surely that can not be the whole truth. So what does a modern man do when faced with adversity and no parent to ask? Google it. Googling this kind of topic usually leads you to the other modern marvel which is Wikipedia. The whole idea of Wikipedia is fantastic in that is is shared and editable by anyone who has enough IT skills to create an account and knowledge to share.

But wait a minute, perhaps this is the second part of critical thinking. Wikipedia, even though mostly accurate, is not always as trustworthy that one might think. After all it is editable by all and I can remember a number of stories where people have manipulated information there to their own advantage. So looking at information in an objective way and from many different sources must also be an integral part to critical thinking.

To me it is second nature to check sources and to make sure to get information that looks at a situation from different angles. After all most people have a reason to say what they say and the information that they disseminate usually serves that particular purpose. The truth often lies somewhere in the middle of two extremes and if you do not look at both sides of the story chances are that you are only getting part of the truth. This was hammered into me both during my high school and University education which is probably why I consider it the most natural thing in the world. In a Confucian system however the teacher has supreme knowledge and to question him or her on the validity of their information would be considered quite rude in most situations.

There is one last part to this which I also feels is really important to critically assessing a situation or piece of information and that is the ability to stay calm and objective. A discussion on topics that are close to people's hearts can often get very heated and it is easy to bring feelings into the equation. A critical discussion or assessment however is only supposed to pit ideas against each other. When you shoot holes in an idea or plan you are actually making it stronger, ore resilient and thus also much more likely to have sticking power and thus succeed. Ask yourself the next time someone is criticizing your idea, is this person attacking me personally or is it simply an attempt to strengthen my idea. If we can stay calm and collected even when some of the values which we hold sacred like religion or sexual preference come up for discussion chances are we will be moving the whole world forward.

Sometimes agreeing to disagree is the only possible outcome but at least we were brave enough to address the topic rather than just walking around it like cats around hot porridge. This takes courage and energy but so do all things worth doing.

Dare to criticize!


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