Tag Archives: social media

That easyJet tweet–questions arising about how businesses protect their reputation

This morning I noticed (because others were retweeting) a tweet from Mark Leiser who claimed that he was threatened with denied boarding by easyJet after making a negative tweet about the company at the gate.


It was a remarkable claim and hard to believe. There are two things to ponder here. One was why a company would be so foolish as to try to prevent a ticketed passenger from boarding a flight merely because of a tweet it disliked. The other was the mechanism by which easyJet saw the tweet, connected it to the passenger, and took immediate action. Is easyJet really monitoring all our tweets and cross-referencing against passenger lists? Further, if such a mechanism existed, it would presumably be for the sake of improved customer service.

I asked easyJet for comment and received this statement:

easyJet has never denied boarding due to comments on social media. On the rare occasion that we consider denying boarding it is on the basis of disruptive behaviour.

Now, you need to read this statement carefully; it is not quite as bland as it first appears. Note that the company will not comment publicly on any individual passenger. However, my understanding is that the tweets were part of a wider altercation. The passenger’s original complaint, incidentally, related to easyJet’s alleged refusal to compensate another passenger who would miss his connection (train?) because of a 90 minute flight delay.


No doubt easyJet has strict policies on what it will and will not do to compensate passengers after delays and regulations also apply. I have no idea of the rights and wrongs here, but it would not be unreasonable to assume that a vocal discussion ensued and that easyJet’s knowledge of what was being tweeted arose out of it.

In the era of social media companies have nowhere to hide, we are often told. For example, Scott Monty, social media manager at Ford, says:

The reality is that the brand is what your customers say it is, not what you say it is

Does that mean that businesses are at the mercy of customers who are on social media? In the balance of power between customers and big business, a shift towards the customer is in my view an excellent thing; but it is still important to hear both sides of the story. It is unfortunate, perhaps, that in this case a policy of “no comment” on individual cases means (at the time of writing) silence from which readers may well assume the worst.


How then do businesses ensure that at least a balanced view of incidents like this are heard on social media? I am not sure that I have the answer, except to give some credit to the wider audience to use common sense and their existing knowledge of a company (easyJet actually has a good reputation among the no-frills budget airlines) to conclude that 140 characters is unlikely to tell the whole story.

Update: for a fuller account from Mark Leiser see here.

Another update: Leiser has told me that he told easyJet he was tweeting, in order to further the cause of the potentially stranded passenger:


PHP Developer survey shows dominance of mobile, social media and cloud

Zend, a company which specialises in PHP frameworks and tools, has released the results of a developer survey from November 2011.

The survey attracted 3,335 respondents drawn, it says, from “enterprise, SMB and independent developers worldwide.” I have a quibble with this, since I believe the survey should state that these were PHP developers. Why? Because I have an email from November which asked me to participate and said:

Zend is taking the pulse of PHP developers. What’s hot and what matters most in your view of PHP?

There is a difference between “developers” and “PHP developers”, and much though I love PHP the survey should make this clear. Nevertheless, If you participated, but mainly use Java or some other language, your input is still included. Later the survey states that “more than 50% of enterprise developers and more than 65% of SMB developers surveyed report spending more than half of their time working in PHP.” But if they are already identified as PHP developers, that is not a valuable statistic.

Caveat aside, the results make good reading. Some highlights:

  • 66% of those surveyed are working on mobile development.
  • 45% are integrating with social media
  • 41% are doing cloud-based development

Those are huge figures, and demonstrate how far in the past was the era when mobile was some little niche compared to mainstream development. It is the mainstream now – though you would get a less mobile-oriented picture if you surveyed enterprise developers alone. Similar thoughts apply to social media and cloud deployment.

The next figures that caught my eye relate to cloud deployment specifically.

  • 30% plan to use Amazon
  • 28% will use cloud but are undecided which to use
  • 10% plan to use Rackspace
  • 6% plan to use Microsoft Azure
  • 5% have another public cloud in mind (Google? Heroku?)
  • 3% plan to use IBM Smart Cloud

The main message here is: look how much business Amazon is getting, and how little is going to giants like Microsoft, IBM and Google. Then again, these are PHP developers, in which light 6% for Microsoft Azure is not bad – or are these PHP developer who also work in .NET?

I was also interested in the “other languages used” section. 82% use JavaScript, which is no surprise given that PHP is a web technology, but more striking is that 24% also use Java, well ahead of C/C++ at 17%, C# at 15% and Python at 11%.

Finally, the really important stuff. 86% of developers listen to music while coding, and the most popular artists are:

  1. Metallica
  2. = Pink Floyd and Linkin Park


BBC iPlayer goes a little social – but what can it learn from YouTube?

BBC’s iPlayer, which offers but live TV and radio and an on demand catch-up service, has gone live with a new version that adds personalisation as well as links to Facebook and Twitter for limited interaction with your social media contacts.

Presenting a personalised iPlayer web page is more demanding, as every visitor sees a slightly different page. Technical Architect Simon Frost explains that the BBC adopted PHP and the Zend framework in order to enable sharing of components and modules – previously the site was built with Perl and server side includes.

It has been interesting to see the reaction in user comments to the announcement by James Hewines, which are more negative than positive. The gist of the complaints is that many users want the site to get out of the way rather than be a more interactive web destination, and find that the new version adds clutter rather than speeding navigation:

This site should not be fun to use. It should be … a very brief stop between powering the computer up and watching or listening a programme.

This does not necessarily mean the BBC is getting it wrong. It is not really hard to find items, and linking BBC content to social networks does have a certain inevitability. It is a shame though that the most interesting feature described by Anthony Rose back in May seems to be missing – integration with Live Messenger so that you can see your contacts comment on the live content. This is what it was meant to look like:


That said, does it make sense to hook into Live Messenger when Facebook is more at the centre of today’s social networks on the Web? Still, this may appear at some future date.

As it is, we get only limited social interaction through recommendations. No ratings, no public comments or reviews attached to items, nothing that might add real interest to the site.

Contrast this with YouTube. It is a different kind of broadcasting of course, much of it amateur, quantity not quality, no live broadcasts as such, and content that persists (whereas BBC content disappears after a few days). Perhaps because it was born as a social media site, rather than being a traditional broadcaster trying to grok the Web, YouTube does community to a far greater extent than the BBC. Individuals can even create their own “channels” of content, becoming a destination within a destination that appeals to friends or those with the same niche interests.

The BBC’s exploration of social media is just too timid to make an impact. I interviewed Rose back in 2008 and he made a telling comment about how the BBC would remain a place safe from the unpleasantness of one-star ratings and nasty comments:

Rose says that upcoming iPlayer features, such as ratings and discussions, will be restricted to networks of friends, rather than made public. "Rating works really well in YouTube where you’ve got a million videos. In iPlayer, if you rate Parliament channel as zero stars, are you saying that Parliament is rubbish, or that you just don’t want to watch Parliament? Rating in the context of the BBC is very useful, but only when you’ve got a friends network."

Unfortunately safe also means dull, and I doubt the social aspect of iPlayer will make much impact as currently implemented.

I still love iPlayer. I have less time to watch than I would like; but I clicked the HD channel and was soon watching a stunning programme about scaling ancient buildings, in this case Durham Cathedral. Played full-screen, the photography was beautiful and the content both entertaining and educational, the BBC at its best.



Note that there was no need to involve the desktop player to enjoy this; it worked fine from the web; and I suspect that the download player gets relatively little use compared to the iPlayer site – the BBC won’t discuss this, saying “We cannot report on playback of downloads due to technical and data privacy restrictions”, which makes little sense to me.

Perhaps the comments are right – the BBC should concentrate on its content, and leave the social stuff to others who do it better.

Buzz buzz – Google profile nonsense

Google has launched a new social media service called Buzz (as if you did not know) and I’m on it – here’s my profile.

You had better follow that link too; because whenever I visit the profile when signed into Google I see this not-too-subtle banner:


“Your profile is not yet eligible to be featured in Google search results”. This statement with its bold yellow highlighting seems intended to make me anxious, though I’m not sure why I should care about this deliberate defect in Google’s search algorithms. Having said which, it is not actually true, as a quick search verifies:


Still, let’s presume that I believe it and want to fix it. I click the link to learn more. Does it tell me how to make my profile “eligible”? Not as such. Without making any promises, Google suggests that I should add more details,

For example, include details such as the name of your hometown, your job title, where you work or go to school.

It also wants a little link exchange:

Link to your profile on another website (for instance, your blog or online photo album)

and finally

Verify your name, and get a "Verified" badge on your profile.

I’ve been round the verify circus before; if you try to do it, you wander round the near-abandoned Knol for a while before discovering that it only works, some of the time, for USA residents.

Frankly, it all seems a bit desperate. My Google profile is just as I want it already, as it happens, though I could do without the big deceitful banner.

That said, this profile nonsense does nothing to allay my sense that Google has designs on me and wants more of my personal data and internet identity than I am inclined to give.

Buzz is a hard sell for me. I like Twitter, because it is single-purpose, works well – in conjunction with one of the many desktop add-ons such as Twhirl – and I never feel that it wants to take over my life.

Still, I am buzzing now, especially since I’ve linked it to Twitter so all my tweets arrive there too. We’ll see.