Bits and Bytes

Thoughts on digital, running rambles and photos


best of 2012

Facebook’s Graph Search and this week’s bits and bytes

Using the example of the horrific helicopter crash in London this week, the Guardian looks at how traditional news outlets and broadcasters now use social media and photos posted to Twitter to cover the news – and what implications that has for image copyright: In the past, such material was called user-generated content, or citizen journalism. Now it’s just Twitter and everyone should be aware of the rules of engagement.

The National Retail Federation conference took place in New York this week and Reuters has been very taken by ‘smart screens’ that (a la Minority Report) know who is looking at them and display targeted information from ads to deals or their online shopping basket. Forbes focused on what eight retail CEOs have planned for 2013. Good news: Omni-channel and mobile are here to stay.

With their Track My Macca’s app, McDonalds really hit the nail on the head this week. The app tracks the ingredients in the food you just bought through some nifty use of augmented reality, geo-location and time information – basically allowing you to plug in directly to McDonald’s supply chain data. Social media integration allows you to share the burger you just ate and tracked on Facebook. You can download it from the app store here although I doubt it works outside of Oz (HT to @TaraSThompson).

Twitter released a report this week showcasing the tweeting habits of people while they watch television in the U.K. Why is Twitter important for TV? Well, if you’ve been reading my weekly bits and bytes, you’ll have read about ‘second screening’. Here are some stats to help you understand why the two go together like fish and chips: 60% percent of the U.K.’s 10 million active users tweet while watching a television program and 40% percent of all tweets mention TV in some form. Download TV Twitter Book ‘Tune in with Twitter’. It’s free.

It was all about Facebook this week: they launched their version of Skype/Face-Time but the big news was all about the launch of the ever so creepy ‘Graph Search’ to take on Google. At first, it will allow you to search people, places, photos and interests – before spreading to every bit of information on the network. So for example, rather than search for a Chinese restaurant in London, you could now search for a Chinese restaurant in London that your Chinese friends who live in London like. Mashable has used the Graph Search and learnt, for example, that Google employees like Pink Floyd, while – slightly more seriously, USA today looked at how businesses can use Graph Search to their advantage. Me personally? I think this is yet another reason to make sure you regularly spend time learning the new Facebook privacy settings, think twice about what information you share and remember that on any free platform such as Facebook, you are the product.

Oh yeah. MySpace finally relaunched. With a little help from Justin Timberlake and his new single. Which is horrible and why I don’t have more to say about the new MySpace.

Don’t call an iPad a mobile device. Stats from comScore show that 90% of iPad use happens in your own home, 40% in public locations (most likely café’s and on trains and around 30% at work. Or as Business Insider puts it: they’re home PCs that are a little easier to carry around.

A great spot from @a_little_wine: Helen McGinn, a former Tesco wine buyer quit London to live in the New Forest and turned a weekly email to friends on wine suggestions into an award-winning blog Knackered Mothers Wine Club. Red Online spoke to her about how it happened and Helen’s tips for blogging.

An impressive/mind-boggling look back at 2012 by Pingdom: How many emails were sent during 2012? How many domains are there? What’s the most popular web browser? How many Internet users are there? Find out on their blog.

And finally: The White House responds to a petition on its website to build the Death Star (HT @tomparker81 and all of the world’s Star Wars geeks).

Weather permitting, I will be in Philly next week. I might or might not pull together these here bits and bytes. I do however, plan to eat many Cheese Steaks.

The increasing power of PR and this week’s bits and bytes

A round-up of my favourite tweets mentioning Sainsbury’s in December kicks of this week’s update. You can check out November andOctober if you missed them.

The must read article of the week comes from Management Today and their look at the increasing power and influence of PRsThere’s a perception in some quarters that PR is just about transmitting a message. It’s not. It’s first and foremost about interpreting reality, reading the Zeitgeist. […] That requires some distance from the status quo. A good PR has to be a bit of an outsider and be prepared to tell people hard truths. I could just quote the whole thing. Trust me. You need to read this.

Last week I mentioned that I was looking for the top PR stunts of 2012 – well, here are some that caught my eye:

  • The BBC put together a look back at the top memes and viral videos of 2012, and of course we were chuffed to see that Giraffe Bread made it onto the list. Interesting to see the imbalance of planned vs. reactive – clear indication that you don’t make something go viral, it just happens.
  • One of France’s leading marketing bloggers Gregory Pouy pulled together a great slideshare deck of the best digital campaigns of 2012. It’s 82 slides long and includes videos as well as a key take away for each campaign so make sure you have a cup of tea ready before you tackle this bad boy.
  • Rich Leigh over at @GoodandBadPR did a brilliant job at pulling together his top 20 PR stunts and campaigns of 2012

What’s going to happen in 2013?

  • @AndrewGirdwood  pulls together 9 observations of where digital is headed in 2013. Point 9 sums it up nicely for me: In this increasingly complex digital landscape – a landscape that is evermore intertwined with offline – people, especially the crowds, are inherently unpredictable. Good marketers will recognise and adapt.
  • Meanwhile, The HuffPo looks at predictions for retail and mobile – note the schizophrenic nature of our relationship to our smartphone. It allows loyalty programmes access to people’s pockets but at the same time gives customers the ability to ‘showroom’.
  • 7 social media trends from Luke Abbot’s excellent blog
  • Vice magazine looks at the age-old journalistic practice of using event anniversaries as story hooks. Prepare to read the 2013 headlines today.

And as ever, for every positive summary, there seems to be twice as many ‘top fails’ compilation. Adweek put together the 20 biggest brand fails of 2012 and you have to admit – from Amazon spoiling a key plot point in a book, the Bic ladypen to Nestlé using a bear that looked suspiciously like ‘paedobear’ – there are some crackers. I wouldn’t have put the AMC theatres/Oreos cookies in myself though, that was just a bit of a banter between two branded Twitter accounts. Still, this is very much a top 20 things not to do in communications.

Through sheer luck, I came across a video by Minute MBA about the top three HR mistakes companies make (no handbook, withholding criticism or praise from employees and ignoring the competition) which led me on to another of their videos about what you can learn from Valve’s Employee Handbook. If you don’t know, Valve are the people that developed probably one of the greatest and genre defining games of all time: ‘Half-Life’. They went on to develop the gaming platform Steam and another mindbendingly brilliant game ‘Portal’. In 2012, Valve’s employee handbook was leaked and caused quite a stir in the gaming and HR world. So I found myself sitting at home, on a Saturday morning, totally enthralled by a employee handbook for a company that I wasn’t working for. Not only does the handbook do a great job at outlining what their company culture is like, it is really very funny! They promote a total lack of structure to promote creativity and to empower their employees to follow and create what they believe has value. A brilliant bit of work, well worth the read and I’m sure that handbook and company ethos is a big reason why they attract some of the best game designers and engineers in the world (the handbook has a prominent place on their homepage, in high and low res pdf).

Always a relief to see when your principles of dealing with negative customer comments online is mirrored by third parties. Social Media Today provide this great 12 point checklist on how it’s done.

Do you know what the world’s most active Twitter city is? Nope. Not that one. It’s Jakarta.

And finally: feeling the January blues? Then head over to the nicest place on the Internet and get a hug:

Digital Corporate Affairs – weekly bits and bytes

Did you all have a good Christmas? Some of these victims of Christmas autocorrects didn’t (possibly NSFW).

At special request – a look at the best PR examples and campaigns from 2012 proved more difficult than I thought. Mainly because the Internet seems to like PR fails/disasters much more than PR wins. I did come across these lists from Maud Davis and My News Desk but it’d be interesting to hear from you lot what you thought were the best PR wins from 2012?

Looking ahead at what’s in store for PRs in 2013: a shift in outcomes and tactics. In a nutshell, the future will be about enhancing reputation, increasing share of mind and generating leads and website traffic through content PR and image led communication. Must read.

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A gift from the comedy gods this week that shows how little people understand about Facebook privacy settings. Randi Zuckerberg, ex-marketing director at Facebook and older sister of the sandaled CEO, this week posted a photo of the Zucks testing the new Poke app at Christmas. Unbeknownst to Randi, the photo was tweeted by a friend of a friend and went viral. Randi took offence, attacking the rogue tweeter for her lack of ‘human decency’. A delicious case of the pot calling the kettle black (which didn’t go down at all well on t’Interwebs) and spectacular proof that even the people who built Facebook don’t have a clue how the social network actually works.

The oxymoron that is ‘Facebook privacy’ is at the heart of this comical bit of ‘reporting’ of the Randi Zuckerberg story by The Today Show in the US. Not only don’t they have the slightest clue about what it is that happened, they seem to be proud of their total ignorance.

But that wasn’t the only story of social media incompetence from people who should know better. The Sale Sharks have sacked their social media bod who branded a section of the club’s supporters as “absolute f***wits” on her personal Facebook page. Ouch.

Moving on from this Facebook fail to some inspiring online ads – only that the best online ads in 2012 weren’t ads. “It’s the content that makes up the best native advertising, mostly on social channels; the non-ad, non-paid advertising that tells great stories, engages us and compels us to share these experiences with our networks.”

Slightly left field, but very interesting in terms of gaining insight on people’s behaviours through social media. A small start-up called Sickweather used data from Twitter and Facebook to declare an early start to this year’s U.S. flu season, six weeks before the Centers for Disease Control.

And finally, The Guardian has done a marvellous job in pulling together the viral videos of the year in a 5 minute clip. Warning: contains Gangnam Style.

Have a happy new year everyone – see you in 2013.

Digital Corporate Affairs – weekly bits and bytes

We start with what for me was the biggest story of the week: Instagram’s terms of service über-fail. Hipsters, cappucino and selfie photographers the world over freaked out on Tuesday, when Instagram allegedly announced it was planning to sell the crappy, filtered, rectangular photos of people’s lunches to faceless corporations the world over.

I admit, I too had one foot on the InstaBashing bandwagon. But I wasn’t the only one. Users deleted their accounts, articles about how to remove all your photos from Instagram were popping up everywhere (mainly linking to the rather useful and the Guardian made the point that: “Instagram makes you the product” – but failed to realise that this is true of most other social network/platform/app out there).

So why the InstaRage?

The BBC’s technology correspondent, Rory Cellan-Jones, put his finger on the main issue: “Real story on Instagram is incompetence (again) of Facebook in framing its privacy policies. Don’t think they’ve any plans to sell photos but they should have made that clear in the t&cs.

But I think that the second element is one that Paul Ford started writing about waaay back in 2007, when he talked about the web being a powerful platform for people to voice their discontent for then they had not been informed of changes relating to their lives. Why Wasn’t I Consulted, is the fundamental question of the web. It is the rule from which other rules are derived. Humans have a fundamental need to be consulted, engaged, to exercise their knowledge (and thus power), and no other medium that came before has been able to tap into that as effectively.”

Facebook changes settings, removes features, even redesigns their website without consulting their users. And you can understand them – they simply wouldn’t get anything done. Instagram though are a lot smaller than Facebook. They haven’t reached that point of total domination where – if you’re not on Facebook you basically do not have a social life.

So I think the combination of incomprehensible and confusing legalese and not even making it seem like they care about their users privacy led to Instagram losing even more of that loveable upstart karma they started to lose when they were acquired by Facebook.

In other news this week, The Mail Online cracked the 7 million daily unique browsers mark. comes in at just under 4 million and at just under 3 million. Meanwhile, CIPR looked at the top newspaper Twitter accounts and found that the FT had the most followers, The Telegraph tweeted the most, The Sun received by far the most retweets and The Guardian receives the most replies.

In what Marketing Week called “a shift in social strategy”, Tesco this week launched their first Twitter campaign that encouraged users to pull virtual crackers by tweeting the hashtag #pullacracker. Followers who reply using the hashtag will be sent a unique link to an animation showing a cracker being pulled and revealing their prize.

Jamaican beer Red Stripe teamed up with director Greg Brunkalla and Hirsch & Mann) to transform Best Supermarket on Kingsland High Street into an interactive music box, where products were rigged to create a plethora of instruments – a food can xylophone, jumping box drums and clinking bottle bells to name just a few. The finished clip has been viewed over 350,000 times (make sure you also check out the making of clip).

Buzzfeed have again done a great job of pulling together 5 of the best PR/advertising stunts of the year. The entirely epic Red Bull Stratos features, of course, but the other 4 aren’t to be sniffed at.

In a series of short webisodes (Fresh Meat fans will be amused) the cheeky buggers at Google look at what what bad web practices look like in real life – using the example of supermarkets. The point being: if it is annoying in real life, you can be sure that it is also annoying when shopping online.

The London Fire Brigade might actually want you to tweet about a fire before leaving the building, after it announced that it is looking to set up the world’s first 999 emergency Twitter feed. Given the amount false positives I see every week about fires at Sainsbury’s, I suspect (hope!) that it’ll be a while before this is implemented.

Starbucks are still having a rubbish time: not only was their #SpreadtheCheer Twitter campaign hijacked, the tweets were displayed on a big screen at the Natural History Museum. Ouch.

A different look back at the year: Spotifiy’s Review of the Year, with the top 100 tracks by country. Gotye’s Somebody that I used to know at no.1 in the UK. For shame.

And finally: the entirely NSFW ‘Epic Chef’, a new online cooking show from the deranged geniuses behind Epic Meal Time. This is totally and utterly mental. One of the secret challenge ingredients is a “mother-expletive-deleted case of bacon”. One of the contestants opens a jar of mayo with a chainsaw. Just watch it.

Digital Corporate Affairs – weekly bits and bytes

Poynter has pulled together the best and worst media errors, corrections and apologies of 2013. From CNN’s and Fox News’ epic failure to correctly interpret the US Supreme Court’s Affordable Care Act decision (guess who actually corrected the mistake and who just went with it) to some cracking examples from closer to home, including the apology of the year from The Sun and their coverage of the Hillsborough disaster – this is an absolute must read.

Ever since Google published their first Zeitgeist summary, there is no better way to have a quick look back at the year and see how we searched in 2012 (especially as this year’s clip is put to the wonderful track “All I Want” by Kodaline).

Not to be outdone, Twitter have pulled together their own little look back at the year 2012 in Tweets. They’ve even partnered with Vizify to allow you to create your own personalised look back at your year on Twitter. Turns out I swear about Arsenal. A lot.

Twitter however did not include my favourite tweet of 2012 (and quite possibly of all time). Robbed.

The guys at Buzzfeed have done a great job of pulling together the best print ads of 2012 and the best commercials of 2012.

A quick pitstop in the present with an entirely marvellous clip featuring a somewhat angry German dude (Martin Oetting, MD of Word of Mouth agency trnd) in conversation with a rude French Fox. Bear with me on this one: the point that word-of-mouth marketing is all about putting the customer on stage, rather than your brand of product is an interesting one and worth thinking about. Tune in from around the 9 minute mark if you want to skip the build up.

But what about next year?

David Armano, Managing Director at Edelman Digital, has again compiled his traditional look into the future at the top 6 social/digital trends for 2013. Most interesting personally, I find the co-dependency of social and mobile (Armano calls it ‘Smobile’): A smobile Web means your customers, co-workers and colleagues expect their digital experiences will be optimized for mobile/social sharing and as a result spend less time tethered to a PC or television.

And finally: it’s time to break up with the native iOS6 maps app (you won’t able to delete it, but you can now install the free Google Maps app).

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