Mesh Without Wires

January 28, 2010

Wireless Security and Surveillance Presentation

Filed under: Technology — kseniacoffman @ 10:37 pm
Tags: ,

Slideshare is a great tool to share presentations and documents. Here’s Firetide’s most popular one – with 500+ views already. If you’d like to listen in to the webinar that these slides were used in, here’s the link: Webinar Replay (no registration required).

Feel free to comment – anything we are missing?

Corporate Twitter for B2B: Getting Started

Filed under: Branding — kseniacoffman @ 2:18 pm
Tags: ,

For us, Twitter started relatively innocently – in August ’09, I looked up what competitors were doing on Twitter, and to my dismay found out that most of them were active on Twitter, with hundreds of followers. Afraid that we are missing the “social media boat,” we jumped in.

5 months later, @Firetide has 700+ followers and is one of the most active accounts in physical security and wireless mesh space. On 3 separate occasions, our partners commented on Firetide’s Twitter prowess, which is a bit funny since we’ve been on Twitter for only 5 months. (This goes to show that social media is not rocket science, and you don’t need a social media guru to guide your way).

But getting started from zero may seem daunting. In this post, I will give you tips and advice on how to get started, based on Firetide’s experience.

First, you need to set up your profile – which is easy, but still some accounts miss the basics.


Real-time search results for Firetide - pulled from Twitter. Also note how high our Twitter page ranks in organic search.

  • Name – pick something that is short (you’d be easy to retweet or mention) and as close as possible to the company’s name (side benefit: if someone is bashing your brand on Twitter, which will come up in Google’s real-time search, you can flood the twitterstream with your own tweets and drown out the bashing. See screen capture to the right).
  • Picture – use the company’s logo if this is a corporate profile.
  • Web – link to your web site or company blog
  • Bio – keep to the point. Tip: to make your twitter presence more ‘personable’, mention who’s tweeting, such as “Tweets by @KseniaCoffman” so that people know who is the face behind the tweets; some companies put that on twitter backgrounds.

Once you have set up your account, begin tweeting to see how it feels. But you don’t want to tweet into the void, right? So, how do you get people to follow you?

  • Start by following people/accounts you know in real life – your partners, distributors, and industry folks. Hopefully, they’ll follow you back.
  • Promote your Twitter presence through regular communications channels. Post a link to your twitter page on your web site (home page, contact page); add the link to your email signature and ask your inside sales/support team to add it to their signatures. We include the link in our email blasts and at the end of our webinars, and I see a handful of new followers after each blast or online event.
  • Ask employees to follow the corporate account. Include this request in an email to the company introducing the corporate presence on Twitter (sample letter follows). If you ask nicely and persistently, you’ll get followers – and best of all, these are “freebies”:  you don’t need to follow them back to keep their ‘follow.’ (Apart from giving you ‘free followers’, you’ve just set up a great internal communications tool, especially if you have people in the field or remote offices.)

Below is a sample email introducing your company’s presence on Twitter. Feel free to borrow and re-use.

Hello All:

Firetide is now on Twitter at! Below is more info on this effort:

About Twitter

Twitter is a ‘micro-blogging’ platform which allows users to post short text messages (up to 140 characters in length) and converse with other users via their phones or web browsers. Unlike email or text messaging on mobile phones, these conversations take place in the open. The platform is experiencing a phenomenal adoption curve in the US and being used increasingly by media, analysts, editors, as well as our integrator and distributor customers and technology partners. It is free to use with and can deliver many benefits for our communications and marketing objectives.

Key Objectives:

  • Build relationships with relevant audiences; provide leadership and credibility, increasing our visibility as the expert in the space
  • Provide a way for audiences to interact with Firetide to provide feedback, seek help and suggest ideas
  • Monitor mentions on Twitter of ‘Firetide’, ‘wireless mesh’; engage with our critics to resolve problems and correct factual inaccuracies
  • Provide live coverage of events for those who cannot attend

Types and Sources of Content:

Content will comprise a mixture of Firetide communications re-purposed for Twitter, and content produced exclusively for Twitter:

To position Firetide as a filter of business intelligence and industry information, we’ll feature links to:

  • Relevant industry events
  • Industry insights and educational materials
  • Relevant partner news (resellers, distributors, solution partners)

Why is Twitter important?

  • It’s establishing itself as the main source of live update information
  • It is increasingly used by our customers and partners, as well as embraced by industry media and analysts
  • Search engine optimization – because it is updated frequently, Twitter content ranks highly on Google, and will give us additional exposure.

To keep our followers engaged, updates will be relatively frequent, between 1 to 3 messages per work day. During special events, updates may be more frequent.

To see how well our brand is performing on Twitter, we’ll track mentions of ‘Firetide’ and tone of these messages. We’ll also track click-through on the links in our messages; ‘re-tweets’ of Firetide messages, and overall performance via tools such as Klout or Twitalyzer.

Please help spread the word following Firetide on Twitter and by adding the link to your signature.

The initial setup and steps to ”organic” follower growth may be all you need, depending on your company size and clout. But if you want to grow your followers faster than that you’ll have to proactively look for people to follow – so that they follow you back and thus grow your follower number. We’ll look at ‘following’ strategies, as well as how to get good content for Twitter, in the next installment.

January 27, 2010

Apple iPad Becomes iTampon, or When Product Names Are “Unfortunate”

Filed under: Branding — kseniacoffman @ 12:58 pm

Twittersphere was abuzz this morning around the announcement of the new Apple tablet. But the mood quickly soured when it became clear that the product was not revolutionary: “a giant iTouch.”  It also  appears that Apple did not focus group the tablet’s name with any women – because the immediate association for the 50% of the target market (i.e. “women”) is with “that time of the month.” The few women I saw commenting on the name were unanimous in finding it ‘hilarious.’ Even more embarrassing to Apple is that iTampon is trending at #3 on Twitter as of 12:30 PM | update: #2 as of 1 PM. (Twitter’s explanation of the trending topic is sympathetic to Apple’s plights and quite PC: “People are making a joke due to unfortunate word associations in the name of Apple’s new tablet, the iPad (Jan. 27).”)

Apple iTampon Trending on Twitter

Apple iTampon Trending on Twitter

I have to admit that I’m not totally in love with Firetide’s product names – the company started with the “hot upstart” image, so we have “HotPort” (wireless mesh node); “HotPoint” (Wi-Fi access point); and “HotClient” (customer premise equipment). So what? We are a small company and nobody really knows us by those names anyway, it’s mostly “Firetide” that we are promoting.

Product naming is indeed hard: the good names have already been taken, it takes months to arrive at a decision, you spend countless hours and no one can agree on anything. But Apple – with the best resources at their disposal, amazing creativity, and Steve Jobs? How could they have failed at this? Or do Apple execs simply need diversity training?

PS – What was so wrong with iSlate that Apple had to pick iPad?

PPS – Is this a gender issue? Did men get the same reaction to the name? Please comment!

See also:

Women mostly not impressed by iPad name

The newly released iTampon – sorry, I mean the iPad – from Apple

January 22, 2010

Why Some Wireless Video Surveillance Projects Fail

Filed under: Technology — kseniacoffman @ 11:58 am
Tags: , ,

After the publication of my article on what sells in wireless video surveillance, including my suggestion to wireless manufacturers to “stop selling, and start delivering”, John Honovich of – in his characteristic take-no-prisoners style – commented that Firetide was akin to “the kettle calling the pot black.” Granted, we’ve had our share of “deployments from hell,” but they’ve gotten farther and fewer between, especially since the introduction of our dual-radio product line in 2007.

It still stands true that wireless deployments have a slim margin of error, as I said in the article, and much depends on correct installation and proper selection and placement of antennas.

So why and how do some wireless video deployments fail? Here’s an example: I was copied on an interesting email exchange right before Christmas. As now the tradition, we sent out holiday greetings to our channel partners via email (yes, save the trees). One recipient responded: “These are not happy times. OUR DEPLOYMENT IS NOT WORKING!!!”

I alerted the tech support department and our local sales person. Here’s what the local guy emailed back to the tech support team:

“Just to give you all a short history, this integrator originally tried to install this deployment with omni-directional antennas from the roof of a multi-story hospital building to omni-directional antennas on each of the light poles where they had cameras. The signals were missing each other as the Fresnel zone elevations were out of line.

Per our suggestion they switched over to directional antennas. However, they cheapened out and purchased [non-Firetide approved antennas]. As a courtesy (because I live in the area) I went on site to see why they were still having problems. They had panel antennas at the poles but were trying to use 120 degree sector antennas to pick up multiple poles. I recommended purchasing more wireless mesh nodes but that was rejected. So they only other option was to use splitters to multiple panels which they accepted.  But because they did not want to spend the money or take the time to purchase LMR400 cable, they terminated some RG59 cable and it worked.

I’m not too surprised they are now having problems, but they really aren’t Firetide problems. If you cannot resolve the situation remotely, we can send them the contact information for our professional services to fix their system.”

As it turns out, the frantic email was sent out by the office manager (who was not familiar with the history of the deployment), and the GM of the company acknowledged that it was essentially their fault, and they will keep working on the issues.

So that’s [edit] one of the ways how wireless deployments can get the (occasional) black eye.

For information about how to avoid similar pitfalls, please view our presentation on wireless video surveillance on SlideShare.[Click here]

As always, comments are welcome! (Please note that if this is your first time commenting, your comment will be held for moderation. Otherwise, your comment will appear immediately.)

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