The power of social media

August 16th, 2015 at 2:00 pm by David Farrar

John Key did a video on why he thinks we should change the flag, and rebutting some of the arguments against.

He didn’t do a media release. He didn’t do a speech on it. He merely stuck the video on his facebook page.

It’s had 489,000 direct views of the video, and 1.24 million people have seen the post as it has been shared by 6,206 people to their facebook followers.

That’s a bigger audience that either of the 6 pm TV news bulletins.

A great example of the power of social media. Not only have hundreds of thousands viewed it, but this is not a 30 second soundbite. Half a million people viewed a seven minute long video because they are interested in the issue.

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Did UK Labour lose due to social media?

August 5th, 2015 at 10:00 am by David Farrar

Helen Lewis writes at the New Statesman:

Here’s my melodramatic theory: social media lost Labour the last election and it’s going to lose Labour the next one, too.

It sounds bonkers, doesn’t it? But look at it like this: “political Twitter”, the small subset of the social network that isn’t tweeting about One Direction or surfers being ­attacked by sharks, is undeniably skewed to the left. Twitter probably evolved into lefty heaven as a reaction to the right-wing dominance of the printed press, and because of the many arts and comedy bigwigs who imported their existing followings on to the platform. Most progressive commentators and columnists are on there, tweeting away several times a day, while their right-wing equivalents avoid the service altogether, or venture on very occasionally to share a link to their piece.

Then there’s Facebook, a much bigger fish, which ought to be more reflective of the wider population because it’s made of networks of schoolfriends, former colleagues, and parents and children. But news on Facebook travels through “Likes” and shares, and people won’t Like a crackdown on benefits, even if they secretly support it. A lot of what happens on Facebook, as with Twitter, is “virtue signalling” – showing off to your friends about how right on you are.

It was this “Tyranny of the Like” that had many social media users convinced that Ed Miliband could squeak the election; after all, their friends seemed to be lapping up the mansion tax and the action against non-doms. No one seemed enthused about taking £12bn off the benefit bill, or reducing the help given to disabled people.

Yes, social media has allowed people to create echo chambers where they only hear from people who agree with them.

Labour’s attention should turn to the next election and picking a leader who can beat him.

Instead, a large number of constituency parties are nominating Jeremy Corbyn, even though he doesn’t want to be leader, has never held a leadership position in the party and could never find two dozen fellow-travellers to form a shadow cabinet. Clearly, these CLPs don’t think that Corbyn is their best shot at beating Osborne, overturning his unjust policies and enacting Labour ones instead. They are doing it to signal that they are on the side of right and good.

The American writer Matt Bruenig calls this “purity leftism”. As he wrote in 2012, “When purity leftists do actions and organising, their interest is not in reducing oppression as much as it is in reducing their own participation in it. Above all else, they want to be able to say that they are not oppressing, not that oppression has ended.”

Remarkably, it looks like he may win.

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Labour’s media targets

January 15th, 2015 at 2:00 pm by David Farrar

Stuff reports:

Expect to see Labour leader Andrew Little in a good light on the 6pm television news – or questions to be asked at the top of his media unit.

Little is advertising for a new chief press secretary to head the party’s media and communications strategy, and the successful applicant is expected to ensure Little appears “in a positive story on the 6pm news at least twice a week”.

Have TVNZ and TV3 signed up to this?

Other key targets put emphasis on social media, including 100,000 “likes” for the party’s Facebook page, up from about 38,000 now, and 40,000 “likes” for Little’s Facebook page by the 2017 election. It currently boasts 10,422 “likes”.

Will buying likes and followers count?

The advertisement has already prompted senior press gallery reporters to plot creative ways to thwart another expected result – weekly meetings with key press gallery journalists.

And who is defined as key?

Little’s chief of staff, Matt McCarten, said the targets were guidelines and the reference to the 6pm news was a “throwaway comment” designed to show the aim was to be proactive, not just reactive, in the news.

A throwaway comment in a formal job description?

A source said the Facebook page was fed by the parliamentary party as well as the party’s head office, so setting targets for the new media boss, who will report to McCarten but is employed by Parliamentary Service, did not breach Parliament’s funding rules. 

I wouldn’t be so sure about that.

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Not even close

July 3rd, 2014 at 12:00 pm by David Farrar

Stuff reports:

Prime Minister John Key holds a clear advantage over his rivals on social media heading into September’s general election.

Key has almost three times the followers on his Facebook page and Twitter account than all other party leaders combined. 

His official Twitter feed has 110,000 followers; almost 10 times as many as the next most followed party leader on Twitter – Russel Norman of the Greens with 11,500. 

Labour leader David Cunliffe commands a Twitter audience of 9926. 

How does this compare to other countries? How many Twitter followers per 1,000 populations do the PMs and Opposition Leaders all have. Here’s their followers per 1,000 population:

  1. John Key (NZ) 25.0
  2. Steven Harper (Canada) 13.8
  3. Justin Trudeau (Canada) 11.2
  4. Tony Abbott (Aus) 13.0
  5. David Cameron (UK) 11.1
  6. Eed Miliband (UK) 5.1
  7. Bill Shorten (Aus) 2.8
  8. David Cunliffe (NZ) 2.2

So the NZ PM has twice as many Twitter follows per capita as the Canadian, Australian and UK PMs. And David Cunliffe has fewer followers than any of the other opposition leaders.

On Facebook, Key’s official page has 149,873 likes, while the official pages of all the other party leaders combined have 45,038 followers/likes. 

Interesting the leader with the 2nd most “likes” on Facebook is Winston Peters.

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Labour candidates spray paints wrong Facebook address on his van

June 17th, 2014 at 7:09 pm by David Farrar

Matthew Beveridge blogs:

Labour’s candidate for Botany has already been talked about in relation to his social media at least once today. Jami-Lee Ross has also talked about this. However, upon seeing this, I did a little digging to try and find Tofik’s social media accounts. When you search for him on Facebook, the first return that comes up is his personal profile, that is pretty locked down. Normally if you are going to do that, somewhere on that profile, that wasn’t locked down, you would have a link to your page, so people could find it easily. On that note, there was a photo of Tofik’s new campaign van, which had a Facebook logo and address on it.

Great I thought. That will make finding his facebook page easy. So I typed it in, But no, it redirects to my timeline. I asked a number of friends to try the link, and it redirects to their timeline as well. So the address that Tofik has printed on the side of his van is incorrect.

I did manage to find his Facebook page in the end,, which is nothing like what he has written on the side of his van. I am not sure how this could have happened. Surely it would have been checked before sign-writing it on to the side of his van?

I can’t work out how you could possibly spray paint a Facebook address on your van, and not actually have the right address.

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MPs on Twitter

May 13th, 2014 at 7:00 am by David Farrar


These social media stats for MPs were collacted by Brand Gauge, a social media metrics site and tool.

No surprise the PM has the most followers. Interesting that David Shearer still has more followers than David Cunliffe.

The top tweeters are Tau Henare, then Clare Curran and Trevor Mallard. Gareth Hughes and Kevin Haguge are also above the 10,000 mark.

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Social media tips for MPs

March 10th, 2014 at 1:00 pm by David Farrar

Matthew Beveridge blogs some social media tips for MPs:

  1. Don’t click on links you are unsure of
  2. Don’t buy followers
  3. Do two-way conversations, not broadcasts
  4. Do not link your Facebook account to also post to Twitter
  5. Update regularly
  6. Don’t be needlessly inflammatory
  7. Don’t block people unless obviously abusive
  8. Plus local events and businesses

On the blocking people issue, I agree MPs should only block as a last resort. However I am finding I am blocking more and more people (benefits of not being an MP). I’ll not block those who engage respectfully on an issue, yet disagree.  But I will block those who do nothing but have a go.

The nice thing with blocking on Twitter is that you are in no way stopping them from still criticizing you and saying what they want about you. They can still do that to their heart’s content. It just means that you won’t see them.


Australian State Supreme Court and social media

October 25th, 2013 at 4:00 pm by David Farrar

Stuff reports:

The Australian Supreme Court is joining Facebook and launching a website with live videos and retired judges’ blogs in a bid to preserve the concepts of open justice and a fair trial in the digital age.

Chief Justice Marilyn Warren said on Monday that the concept that justice must be done and seen to be done was a “fundamental tenet of Australian democracy.” …

Judges could not engage in public discussion about their decisions or controversial legal issues to maintain their independence and impartiality. But the court’s website could feature blogs from retired judges “to create greater community understanding around controversial issues.

“This will represent a historic shift away from traditional judicial reluctance to explain or defend judicial decisions that are made in accordance with the rule of law,” Chief Justice Warren said.

I really like the idea of having retired judges blog on legal issues. It is a great way to improve understanding of our legal system. The Ministry of Justice and judiciary in NZ should look at doing it here.

“Communication judges” – Justices Simon Whelan, Anne Ferguson and Jack Forrest – and the court’s communications manager, Anne Stanford, would soon meet to discuss the current website, which was “clumsy, difficult and sometimes impossible to navigate. It is contemplated that other than the judges, no-one over 30 will be allowed to participate in the meeting.”

New media forums, including on tablets and smart phones, allowed the public to access a more views about court decisions online. But it was important for the court to directly engage with the public, as newspaper circulations declined and courts faced greater scrunity than ever before, with decisions “constantly reviewed, questioned and critiqued.” …

The Supreme Court already streamed judges’ sentencing remarks in criminal trials in a bid to “fill the void left by” fewer court reporters: “When web-streaming is used the community can check for themselves what transpires in the Supreme Court and see and what the judiciary actually do when they administer the law.”

I’d love to see that here also – streaming of all sentencing decisions, along with all decisions available online.

UPDATE: Note it is a state supreme court, not the Australian High Court.

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TVNZ’s social media rules

June 14th, 2013 at 11:30 am by David Farrar

Rachel Glucina writes at the NZ Herald:

Ex-BBC consultant Michele Romaine, on contract with TVNZ’s news and current affairs department until the end of the month, has this week installed a rigid social media policy, dubbed “The Rules”, which has some journalists and presenters claiming it’s censorship gone too far.

TVNZ stars have been put on notice: follow The Rules or suffer the consequences.

So what are they?

But The Diary has obtained a leaked copy of the document in which staff are expressly forbidden from “expressing personal opinions that could compromise NCA’s [News and Current Affairs’] objectivity and independence”.

Online observations or anecdotes by reporters must be “confined to matters of intelligent insight”.

How silly. I like tweets from journalists that reveal a bit of their personality. It humanises them.

But Twitter should only be used for “newsgathering, showcasing our news and current affairs content, and promoting TVNZ and your own professional profile”. In other words: plug, plug, plug.


However, former head of news and current affairs Ross Dagan, who left TVNZ in March, was in favour of reporters and presenters showing more depth and personality by sharing personal opinions on Twitter and conversing with One News viewers.

He told The Diary that Seven Sharp journo Heather Du Plessis-Allan had found the right mix – strong reporting on the issues and fun, personal revelations on Twitter.

Yep, Heather rocks. Her tweets are great.

Ruth Wynn-Williams was told off after filing personal holiday snaps from Rarotonga on her private Instagram page.

The striking blonde posted holiday pics, including bathing in a bikini and drinking cocktails with her boyfriend Matt Gibb, host of TVNZ’s U Live.

Ruth was disciplined for that? How disgraceful. As an indirect shareholder in TVNZ I protest!

“The use of profanities,” say The Rules, “are not acceptable”.

How about when trying to get Winston to agree to an interview? :-)

UPDATE: Someone has a sense of humour at the Sunday Star-Times. The official SST twitter account tweeted (since deleted):

For clarification, the @SundayStarTimes twitter account operates outside The Rules #fucktherules



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MPs and social media

May 12th, 2013 at 10:00 am by David Farrar

An interesting story from Kate Chapman at Stuff:

The oversharers

Oversharing on social media is nothing new. Everyone has friends who insist on posting endless Facebook updates about what they ate for breakfast or daily selfies on Instagram.

MPs are no less immune. No one really wanted to know that Gilmore’s new girlfriend thought he was “96kgs of fit hot Kiwi beef”. Nor were we concerned about what National’s Tau Henare benchpressed that day or that United Future leader Peter Dunne had computer problems.

NZ First MP Asenati Lole-Taylor’s Twitter account reveals she has an opinion on everything but has failed to grasp some basic realities, particularly the background of her parliamentary colleagues after she said “few businessmen are capable of being in politics”.

Asked whether she got a tweeting lesson from leader Winston Peters, Lole-Taylor lashed out: “that is the kind of racism and discrimination that people like you wld use when you run out of anything intelligent to say”.

My highlight with Asenati is when she abuses and then blocks journalists. A great way to get good publicity.

Labour MP Clare Curran must be Parliament’s queen of tedium with more than 16,000 tweets, many of which were snipes or arguments with other politicians or media. “On #WorldPressFreedom Day in NZ there r no killings of journalists to mourn, instead insidious strangulation of the craft,” she griped recently.

Not so much a glass half empty, but more a glass never ever full.

There are of course a few MPS who’ve hit the nail on the head. Justice Minister Judith Collins joined Twitter recently and was off with a good mix of humour and scorn.

Labour MP Trevor Mallard has sent more than 10,400 tweets on just about every topic and his colleague Chris Hipkins also balances partisan politics with snippets from everyday life.

NZ First leader Winston Peters has adapted his snide remarks for social media well: “according to Treasury advice the economic return from The Hobbit tourism is, just like JRR Tolkien’s book itself, a complete work of fantasy”.

There are certainly a lot of twits on Twitter, there are several in Parliament too. The problem with sending out immediate 140-character dispatches is that there isn’t enough time for self-editing.

It has been the downfall of many a public figure and it’s only a matter of time before one of our MPs reveals themselves as a complete twit.

My favourite Twitter episode was the war between Trevor Mallard and Russel Norman. They will be such a stable Government one day.


The Australian social media battle

February 15th, 2013 at 10:00 am by David Farrar

Speculation is growing in Australia that Kevin Rudd will (again) challenge Julia Gillard for the Labor Party leadership in March.

The article linked to has some graphics and stats on their social media usage, which I have summarised below:



Kevin Rudd has an incredible number of followers. Around 1 in 20 Australians follow him (and a few Kiwis). But he doesn’t just broadcast – he engages all the time with people tweeting him. So does Tony Abbott it seems.

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The Project [R]evolution

August 21st, 2012 at 7:00 am by David Farrar

I’m heading to Auckland next week for The Project [R]evolution. It is a digital and social media conference organised by AUT, the US Embassy and Social Media NZ.

The keynote speaker is Alec Ross, Senior advisor for innovation to Secretary of State, Hillary Clinton.

One can see who is already attending. The full programme looks really good and I am looking forward to attending. I have a complimentary media ticket, but am travelling up  to Auckland just to attend.


New media regulation

April 17th, 2012 at 10:00 am by David Farrar

The Legal Research Foundation has organised a forum on media and new media regulation in Auckland on Tuesday 1 May. It will discuss the issues raised in the Law Commission paper reviewing regulatory gaps with media and new media.

My submission on the paper is here.

There is a star-studded line-up of speakers (plus me). They are:

  • Justice Raynor Asher, President of the Legal Research Foundation
  • Law Professor John Burrows and former editor Cate Brett from the Law Commission
  • Hon Barry Paterson QC, Press Council Chair
  • Claire Bradley, Mediaworks Legal Counsel
  • Martin Cocker, Netsafe Executive Director
  • Steven Price, Barrister
  • Judge David Harvey

You can register at the link above, or just send an e-mail to, and the LRF will invoice you.

The issues being discussed are very important, and could well have a significant impact on the Internet. Id encourage interested people to attend, if they can.

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Updated Social Media Details

April 15th, 2012 at 8:08 pm by David Farrar

Have updated the page listing social media details for MPs.

For those into stats, here are the percentage of MP on each social medium for the four larger parties:

  • Websites – National 86%, Labour 34%, NZ First 25%, Greens 14%
  • Facebook – Greens 100%, Labour 94%, National 83%, NZ First 63%
  • Twitter – Greens 93%, Labour 71%, National 48%, NZ First 38%
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Live at Six

April 14th, 2012 at 1:14 pm by David Farrar

Had a great time last night at “Live at Six” at Downstage. It is an invigorating mix of interactivity and technology, that wonderfully depicts how our television broadcasters differently deal with a scandal involving one of their own.

The play formally starts at 8 pm, but if you turn up early to the Downstage bar from 7.30 pm, you see the “scandal” in question. You’re even invited to record it yourself, and upload it.

This is the video I shot of a “tired and emotional” Jane Kenyon collapsing in the bar of the Qantas Media Awards. Kenyon is the lead anchor for One News. Helping her up is Nick Dunbar of 3 News, who used to work with her at One News.

Do be warned that if you do turn up early to see the incident, then you may end up featured quite prominently on the screens in the theatre itself. Yes, they use the actual footage from that night, rather than the same stock footage. This is very impressive when you consider they have just a few minutes to do it in.

Then when the play starts you see the news teams of TVNZ and TV3 at work in deciding how to report the story. Is it even a story that someone fell over in a bar? Well it is, because the video gets placed on the Internet, and is all over the blogs (they even have a line when they realise it is now up on Whale Oil).

TV3 of course is gleeful at the story. Michele Amas plays news boss Sue Austin and she is absolutely ruthless, yet endearing, in exploiting this to the hilt. A highlight is when Kenyon, played by Jessica Robinson, goes on the roof of TVNZ for some fresh air (she can’t leave the building). Sue yells for them to not just get a zoom lens on her, but to make sure they get a camera down the bottom in case there is a splat to cover.

As you get the idea, it is a very cynical, yet hilarious (and some would say accurate) depiction of the media. They also use social media very effectively in the show. You see blogs, Stuff, You Tube, Tweet Deck, Skype etc. But they manage to use them in a way which they are natural parts of the plot, not just gimmicks to show they are with it.

Tim Spite was hilarious as 3 News news reader Gordon Miller. He was happy to go along with anything his boss proposed, unlike the conflicted Nick Dunbar (played by Derek Fontaine) who is friends with Kenyon and wants her treated fairly.

On the One News side, Donogh Rees was captivating as corporate executive Karen Adams. A former news presenter herself, she was now the woman managing the crisis for TVNZ, and was a first class manipulator. Phil Vaughan played Tim McGregor, Kenyon’s immediate boss, who wanted to do the right thing, so long as it didn’t muck his day up too much. Jessica Williams was great, as usual, in the lead role.

You also had the strange competitive friendship between the two news editors, played by Eli Kent and Barnaby Fredric.

The show was pretty much flawless. The script was excellent, and the actors were superb. The running time at just under two hours was just right, and they had the interval at just the right point. While most of the focus was on the character interactions, the plot has a couple of very nice twists at the end which you don’t see coming.

Their use of technology was excellent, and it is a tribute to their support staff, that they managed to do it with no hitches.

It was my first Downstage play since they had a six month hiatus. A great production to lead off with, and an excellent night’s entertainment. Highly recommended for a fun night out.

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MPs Social Media Details

March 27th, 2012 at 11:00 am by David Farrar

I’ve compiled a table of Internet and social media contact details for the 121 New Zealand Members of Parliament. This list is intended as a public resource. MPs are welcome, and indeed encouraged, to let me know of any corrections or change, via e-mail.

The table is a permanent page on Kiwiblog.

In terms of the data:

  • The e-mail addresses come from the official parliamentary contact list.
  • The websites come from searching on Google, and my 2011 candidates list.
  • The twitter details come from the @nzparliament twitter list of MPs. Incidentially the @nzparliament account has me blocked for some reason, which is strange. So does Charles Chauvel, but I presume that is because he sulked over something I wrote.
  • The Facebook details come from searching on Facebook. Sometimes there has been more than one page to choose from. Happy to change pages linked to upon request
It great we have so many MPs who make themselves accessible via the Internet. The purpose of the page is to allow people to follow, friend, e-mail and read about MPs they have an interest in.
I considered adding in extra columns for other social media such as Foursquare and Linked In, but don’t think many MPs use them. If there is demand, I could look at adding them in future.
A screenshot of the page is below, but note the actual page with hyperlinks is here.
I don’t have the capability to add on features such as how many followers an MP has on Twitter or friends on Facebook, but someone else might be able to do that, as a few people have said that would be useful.
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Blocking on social media

March 14th, 2012 at 4:00 pm by David Farrar

Further to my post on the  intolerance of diversity of opinion in Labour, a fascinating report by Pew on online behaviour in the US. They use the terms liberals, conservatives and moderates, which broadly are left, right and centre.

They look at behaviour amongst users of social networking sites (SNS). They find:

  • blocked/unfriended/hidden someone because they posted something you disagree with – 16% of liberals, 6% moderates, 8% conservatives
  • blocked/unfriended/hidden someone because they disagreed with something you posted  – 11% of liberals, 1% moderates, 4% conservatives

So twice as many liberals as conservatives block someone because they posted something they disagree with, and almost three times as many block you if you disagree with something they have posted.

Worth pointing out that the vast majority of both liberals and conservatives don’t block people just because they disagree with what they say.

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February 22nd, 2012 at 4:00 pm by David Farrar

A very good video on the power of social media, with lots of amazing facts and figures. One example was how it would take over 110 years to read everything on Wikipedia, and if it was a book would be over one million pages in width.

Also one clip is essential reading for Mark Unsworth. He will know which :-)

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Social Media explained

February 6th, 2012 at 3:00 pm by David Farrar

Doing the rounds on Facebook. So very good.


Govt social media policy praised

December 12th, 2011 at 7:00 am by David Farrar

Computerworld reports:

A common sense approach has put the New Zealand government’s social media policy in high regard with IT research company, Gartner.

On a blog post on Gartner’s website, vice president Andrea Di Maio commends the policy for its principles based on an individual’s role, which he says are down-to-earth and provide actionable decision frameworks.

Di Maio is particularly impressed by the policy’s passive-active-engaged approach, which asks social media users in government to first listen to their community, understand what it is they are voicing, and then engage if it is appropriate.

There have been relatively few SMOGs (Social Media Own Goals) by government agencies. Most have been by politicians and corporates.

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Social Media generated stories

September 18th, 2011 at 11:40 am by David Farrar

Has the Herald on Sunday sacked all their staff and now just sit there reading social media? Probably too harsh a call, but look at just today’s stories:

I’m all for reporting on news-worthy stuff found in social media, but there is a balance.

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MPs and Social Media

February 16th, 2011 at 11:00 am by David Farrar

The Parliamentary Library have done an interesting paper on MPs use of social media. Some stats:

  • 92/121 MPs are on Facebook
  • National MPs are the MPs least likely to be on Facebook (only 60% or so are)
  • 86% of female MPs are on Facebook and only 75% of male MPs
  • John Key has 50,081 “fans” and Phil Goff has 2,334 “fans”
  • 43% of MPs are on Twitter
  • Top tweeters are Tau Henare on 3,087 and Clare Curran on 3,083
  • John Key has 15,368 followers on Twitter and Phil Goff 2,397
  • On You Tube National has had 436,522 video views, Greens 122,887 and Labour 21,530
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Social Media Junction

May 13th, 2010 at 10:11 am by David Farrar

A conference on social media is being held in at SkyCity in Auckland on 17 May next week. It is Social Media Junction and normally costs $700 to attend. The conference programme is here.

I am not attending myself (I will be in Taupo on Monday) but I do have a complimentary ticket to the conference. If you would like to attend, then the first people to e-mail me their name and contact details gets the ticket.

To introduce a tiny amount of skill into the give-away, responses need to state what year was Kiwiblog founded.

UPDATE: Well done Kate – you have won the ticket.


Social Media explained

February 15th, 2010 at 12:00 pm by David Farrar

Nat Torkington was wearing this t-shirt at Kiwi Foo Camp and I loved it. So close to reality!

You can order them from Despair.

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