Bits and Bytes

Thoughts on digital, running rambles and photos



Loving Edeka’s Supergeil, the Ellen Oscar selfie fallout and this week’s bits and bytes

Supergeil: Germany’s largest supermarket Edeka has a history of going for a more cheeky tone in advertising its claim to “Love Food” (Wir Lieben Lebensmittel), especially when promoting their own brand label “Good and Cheap” (Gut und Günstig).

They’ve had some fun in the past with a clip of two stoners out to fight the munchies in an Edeka, playing on the double meanings of words such as ‘Tüte’ (German for ‘bag’, but also for ‘joint’) and ‘Bon’ (German, weirdly, for ‘receipt’; funny, because when this French word is pronounced in German, it sounds awfully like ‘bong’).

Continue reading “Loving Edeka’s Supergeil, the Ellen Oscar selfie fallout and this week’s bits and bytes”

#SochiProblems, Facebook looks back at 10 years and this week’s bits and bytes

SochiProblems: To say that the Sochi Winter Olympics have a bit of a repetitional problem would probably get you on the podium at the understatement of the year award. Adding to the allegations of corruption and the ridiculous anti LGBT laws, and an Olympic Snowflake that was too afraid to come out, organisers also have to contend with athletes and journalists tweeting bizarre evidence of how ramshackle, unfinished and bonkers Sochi 2014 looks to be for visitors.

Of course everything is beautifully curated by spoof accounts on Twitter, with @SochiProblems the clear winner, by far eclipsing the official @Sochi2014 account. Meanwhile, @SochiGamesPR provides the spin in an attempt to deflect attention. Make sure you keep an eye on the #SochiProblems hashtag. Gold.

The Chive has pulled together a more comprehensive summary of the #SochiProblems.

And yes, you can also get your t-shirt

Facebook is 10: Happy 10th birthday to the social network that in the last decade made it socially acceptable to poke a complete stranger. It brought us the like button and an avalanche of baby photos from people that you didn’t speak to or care about in high school, but don’t have the heart to decline their friend request. Brands jumped in, some doing great work to help create a place for a community to come together around their products, many others providing fodder for the Condescending Brand Page.

How to celebrate their 10th birthday?

A clever viral (yes, this was actually viral) film based on the personal history of each and every Facebook user. Accessible via the click of a button, Facebook pulls together a collection of your early posts, popular posts and top photos starting from when you joined the network, right up to the present day, and assembles a version of your life on top of some twee twinkly folky music, images popping up in time with the saccharine tune.

Called ‘A Look Back‘, @stangreenan probably summed it up best: “it’s so lovely, it makes me wonder what parts of my soul Zuckerberg stole to give it to me”.

So we learn that if you want something to go viral, you make it about the person who is sharing it.

But there is another, equally powerful motivator for something to be shared: the spoof look back film. As many were generating the Facebook version of their personal history, the Internet got to work to create spoofs of the look back film from the perspective of Prince Harry, the Bible, and, of course, President Putin.

My favourite has to be the Breaking Bad version (warning: spoilers)

Bits and bytes

Videos of the week

GoPro released their beyond epic film of Felix Baumgartner Spacejump from 2012. Watch this on full screen HD if you know what’s good for you.

Jerry Seinfeld’s reunion with George was TiVo’s most re-watched Super Bowl commercial – and it’s actually quite funny.

And finally‘Tainted Love’ played by floppy disk drives.

Chipotle’s ‘Farmed and Dangerous’, Facebook Paper, Google Lego and this week’s bits and bytes

Farmed and Dangerous: Last year, Chipotle’s quest for “wholesome, sustainable food” saw them develop the Scarecrow Game. The game puts you in the shoes of a scarecrow fighting to foil the evil “Crow Foods” and break its hold on food production and supply.

The game was promoted by a beautifully animated short film, aptly titled ‘The Scarecrow’:

In a dystopian fantasy world, all food production is controlled by fictional industrial giant Crow Foods. Scarecrows have been displaced from their traditional role of protecting food, and are now servants to the crows and their evil plans to dominate the food system. Dreaming of something better, a lone scarecrow sets out to provide an alternative to the unsustainable processed food from the factory.

The Scarecrow raised eyebrows, gained accolades and cemented the chain’s commitment to sustainable sourcing. It achieved wall-to-wall, worldwide coverage, with The Guardian positing that the campaign would set the bar for sustainable advertising and Venture Beat calling it the creation of ‘advergaming‘. Not everyone was impressed though, some critics thought the campaign to be manipulative and others felt the film was just too darn depressing and that it had put them off of eating at Chipotle.

Scarecrow looks to have had the desired effect though, as Chipotle are doubling down on original content with a four-part mini-series on Hulu (the on demand platform that brings together shows from some of the main TV networks in the US).

Called “Farmed and Dangerous“, the series explores “the outrageously twisted and utterly unsustainable world of industrial agriculture” (HT @stanm).

Farmed and Dangerous

The show premieres on Hulu on February 17 and going by the trailer, they’re not kidding when they say ‘outrageously twisted’: the story centres around a fictional industrial agriculture company ‘Animoil’ that has developed a way to feed cows petroleum-based pellets, called PetroPellets. Cheaper than conventional animal feed, these pellets are completely “organic”, and they’re even available for a number of different livestock (aqua pellets are still in the R&D phase).

They do, however, have one nasty side-effect.

They make the cows explode.

Craziness ensues as the security footage of exploding cattle goes viral and Animoil end up in the midst of a massive PR disaster. Animoil’s CEO Mick Mitcherson is forced into action and tries to regain control over his company’s reputation – while at the same, the audience learns about the dangers of industrial agriculture.

It doesn’t stop there though. Chipotle have created a corporate website for Animoil, where you’ll find the CEO of Animoil Global responding to criticism about the safety of his PetroPellet product (yes, he is also on Twitter @BuckMarshall), as well as some fantastic greenwash in the corporate responsibility section. The site even includes a careers section with some fantastic job opportunities as ‘Astroturf fluffer’ and ‘Interpretive Health and Safety Manager’. Sadly, all the links take you through to a 404 page, but even that is beautifully made.

Chipotle are also connecting their ‘real world’ Twitter account with that of the imaginary CEO Buck Marshall – tweeting a link to an open letter by the CEO ‘to everyone with a mouths‘ in the New York Times.

While I really think the assets created on the back of this campaign are fantastic, I just can’t get the basic premise of exploding cows out of my head: if some people were put off from going to Chipotle after seeing a dystopian, albeit beautifully animated version of the food chain, I wonder how they’re going to react after seeing life-like cows disintegrate in Tarrantino-esque PetroPellet explosions on screen?

I suspect Chipotle is also worried about that effect, because even as it’s had a big hand in Farmed and Dangerous’ development, according to Time Magazine, Chipotle is only referenced once in four episodes, and the chain isn’t mentioned in the opening or closing credits of the show at all.

Also, going by this response to Chipotle’s tweet above, some people might actually think Animoil is real!?

Facebook Paper: It seems Flipboard, Pulse and Medium have had a remarkable effect on Facebook’s thinking as they borrow a lot of the look and feel of those platforms to create what looks like a dramatic and completely beautiful re-imagining of the Facebook mobile interface.

Facebook Paper is all about story telling and about making content look good – while at the same time keeping the features we’re so used to from Facebook in the foreground. Also, going by the intro film, Facebook has fully committed to mobile:

  • Paper uses the entire screen, with only “like”, “share” and “reply” buttons appearing in the bottom left corner,
  • it also makes full use of the accelerometer, where you’ll need to tilt your phone to see the whole image (as groovy as this is, I do hope there’s a way to switch it off as it could get annoying),
  • and there’s not a flippin desktop, laptop or tablet in sight. Every person in the film is glued to their phone, ignoring their friends. Dystopian future klaxon!

But more than just looks, Facebook Paper is about an entirely new concept that so far hasn’t really applied to the platform: discovering content. As Re/code notes:

The site has a wealth of public content on its network, posted openly by users so that any other Facebook users can see it. But until now, there hasn’t been an easy way for people to find it. Thus, if Facebook can organize that stuff by topic and make it more easily discoverable, it’ll inspire you to comb through it all — and perhaps to pen your own stuff that much more.

Facebook Paper is set to launch in the US app store on Monday, February 3 – I couldn’t find a release date for the UK.

Google Lego: Two years ago Google unveiled an experiment called ‘Build with Chrome’, a virtual Lego tool that let you play with tiny plastic bricks in your browser – that project is now finally open to everyone and it looks amazing. It only works in Chrome, so yore going to have to download that. Then you can happily spend hours building anything your imagination can muster, anywhere in the world, without having to worry about stepping on a brick in your bare feet, discarding two of those flat pieces because they’ve become inseparable over time, or about running out of pieces in a particular colour.

Bits and bytes

  • Coca-Cola were in trouble this week for treating the word ‘gay’ as a swear word on their Facebook page’s “share a Coke” function. Can’t tell if they’ve fixed it or if they’ve taken the whole thing down – I can’t seem to find the virtual personalised can generator app anywhere, so I assume it’s the latter (HT @a_little_wine)
  • A bizarre and terrifying post by Naoki Hiroshima about how he had his Paypal, Domain and  Facebook profile hacked – all in order to get to his extremely valuable Twitter handle @N (HT @a_little_wine)
  • Love Instagram? Love marshmallows? Why not combine the two with boomf, a service that prints your photos onto a marshmallow (HT @a_little_wine)

Videos of the week

The trailer for an inspiring film by Green Lions called Project Wild Thing. The film follows filmmaker and father David Bond as he goes up against the marketing departments of Apple, Disney and Mattel to convince children that nature is so much better than iPads, TV and plastic toys (Disclaimer: @Green_Lions is the production company that, together with @SAS_Creative, have helped us create Sainsbury’s Little Stories, Big Difference films).

Cycling Scotland’s road safety ad – banned because the cyclists featured in the ad don’t wear helmets and ride along in the middle of the flipping’ road. Outrageous. Five people complained to the ASA about this shocking revelation, however they had no problem (or any discernible sense of humour it seems) with cyclists being compared to a horse (HT @a_little_wine).

Super Bowl XLVIII is this Sunday, which means we have a good couple of hours worth of insanely expensive, over the top ads interrupted by footage of strangely padded, HUGE dudes crashing into each other as they chase an egg around a patch of grass for a few seconds at a time to look forward to (not even kidding: an average NFL has more than 100 commercials and just 11 minutes of play). Anyway. Here is Bud Light’s insanely expensive and over the top Super Bowl effort.

And finallyThe ticket barrier on the London Underground that sings along to Blur (HT @VictoriaDove for sharing this and to @RitchAmes for creating this masterpiece)

Amazon Prime Air vs. Waterstones’ OWLS, Christmas Tinner, SpaghettiOMG and this week’s bits and bytes

Amazon Prime Air: The perfect PR stunt timed to coincide with the craziness that is Black Friday and Cyber Monday. It gets people to think less about naughty Amazon (workers’ rights, working conditions in fulfilment centres and tax) and more about innovative Amazon. As Bloomberg notes: “The aerial drone is actually the perfect vehicle—not for delivering packages, but for evoking Amazon’s indomitable spirit of innovation.”

The goal of this new delivery system is to get packages into customers’ hands in 30 minutes or less using radio controlled drones. However, Amazon are quick to point out that putting Prime Air into commercial use will take time – mainly for the tech to mature and for FAA regulations on unmanned aerial devices to change – so don’t expect any drone deliveries anytime soon. The Guardian was quick to add their long list of problems with the idea.

The Internet, as ever, was quick to respond:

The best response however has to be from Waterstones, who reacted brilliantly to announce their Ornithological Waterstones Landing Service, or O.W.L.S. for short. As with Amazon Prime Air, this service will take years to get off the ground, as it takes a long time to teach Owls anything and, well, as appropriately named Waterstones spokesperson Jon Owls confirms, the retailer only just came up with the idea.

Christmas dinner in a can: The clever bods at Game have launched an ingenious product for dedicated gamers this holiday season: all your Christmas Day meals layered into one tin, from your scrambled eggs for breakfast, a couple of mince pies, the turkey dinner (there’s even a version that substitutes broccoli for sprouts), to, of course, the Christmas pudding. This spectacular culinary innovation comes after Game found that 43% of gamers in the UK intend to spend the majority of the holidays on their consoles.

Predictably, this £1.99 tinned temptation has caused outrage with The Mail calling it ‘stomach churning‘, while over at the The Metro, the Christmas Tinner has inspired a Buzzfeed-esque listicle of 10 foods that should never come in a can – after first reporting on the story without finding any offence a mere 24 hours earlier.

The Telegraph so liked the taste of this story, they must have dug into the habits of gamers at Christmas and found some ‘research’ by Dominos claiming that gamers will do almost anything to carry on playing: “almost half of male gamers admitted they have turned down sex to continue playing, while a fifth of female gamers said they had missed weddings and hen dos.”


According to The Mail, the product was trialled in Game’s Basingstoke store, and the gaming retailer plans to sell it in stores across the country if there is enough demand. Den of Geek meanwhile reported that the meal is available online. I am investigating – no response from Game yet.

SpaghettiOMG you said WHAT? It can’t be easy doing social for “a brand of canned spaghetti featuring circular pasta shapes in a cheese and tomato sauce and marketed to parents as ‘less messy’ than regular spaghetti.” But, the brave marketing bods at SpaghettiOs have managed to gain over 10,000 followers on Twitter, half a million Facebook likes.

Looking at their recent posts, the excel at creating tenuous links between their brand and favourite board games from the past, Thanksgiving and even Movember. These posts generate on average a couple of dozen interactions with their fans on Twitter and a few hundred on Facebook.

Having shown that they are a brand with their finger on the pulse, they thought they’d commemorate the bombing of Pearl Harbour on 7 December 1941 by the Japanese with this spectacular image of their brand mascot TheO holding aloft the Stars and Strips as it flutters in a patriotic breeze (HT @tomparker81).

Screen Shot 2013-12-07 at 09.09.50

This post got a few more retweets and favourites than some of their earlier posts – and from the looks of it has already been removed from Facebook.

Worry not, the helpful denizens of Twitter are on the case though, suggesting some more historic events that @SpaghettiOs and TheO could commemorate:


The Tweet has finally been removed and @SpaghettiOs have apologised

Facebook ups post quality: Facebook is tweaking its news feed algorithm to deliver “high-quality” content to people based on what their past behaviour on the platform. According to The Verge, Facebook wants to promote better content such as news articles instead of memes and over-shared viral content.

It’s all a bit shady as to what Facebook deems high quality content to be – to me it sounds like they’re looking to get more of a news driven feed à la Twitter and not just the viral crap (and baby photos? Please tell me baby photos will be filtered out?).

How to know when a post will go viral: While we’re on quality posts, the WSJ this week wrote up a feature on a chap they call the world’s most influential blogger. Neetzan Zimmerman writes for Gawker, posts a dozen times a day and almost every one of his articles goes viral. The piece looks at his system and thought process when picking stories to focus on, likening it to a biological algorithm:

The whole process happens very quickly. “Within 15 seconds, I know whether an item is going to work,” Mr. Zimmerman says. He usually has a headline ready to go a few seconds after that. “It’s a biological algorithm,” he says. “I’ve put myself into the system—I’ve sort of become the system—so that when I see something I’m instantly thinking of how well it it’s going to do.” Indeed, Mr. Zimmerman says he can no longer tell the difference between stories he finds interesting and stories that will be popular. “If it’s not worth posting then I’m not interested,” he says.

The secret then? Looking the story that plugs into the Zeitgeist of that particular day and elicits and emotional response that cannot be denied and competes people to share a story. Also, with Zimmerman’s post generating around 30 million page views a month – this article may also be the best CV ever posted.

Oh, and if Gawker isn’t your thing, The Evening Standard visited Buzzfeed UK for a lengthy feature on what you need to know about the social news site.

Instaforce: Star Wars this week joined Instagram with an image of Darth Vader taking a selfie (know your audience!). Since then they’ve posted a mix of behind the scenes photos from the original trilogy and the distinct lack of Jar Jar or material from the new trilogy does lift the spirits that the upcoming Disneyfication of the franchise might not be as crap as Episodes I-III.

The Force is strong in this one.

Videos of the week: To show that customers get quality advice and top value for money at camera retailer Jessops, Peter Jones dons a dodgy disguise to play a bumbling sales assistant. It shouldn’t work, but it does (although, as @a_little_wine pointed out when she sent this to me, the daily giveaway of a camera will have helped the #beardeddragon hashtag to trend on Twitter).

You may have seen what’s been billed as the most realistic finger painting in the world – a portrait of Morgan Freeman by Kyle Lambert. This clip of the painting taking shape is a mesmerising look at 200 hours of work in three minutes.

The film ‘Anchorman’ was so bad, I stopped watching after 10 minutes. Which is why I’m dumbfounded by how there is such excitement about the sequel coming to cinemas soon. You have to give it their PRs though, who organised for Ron Burgundy to co-presented the Sunday evening news show on KXMB in Bismarck, North Dakota alongside regular news anchor Amber Schatz.

And finally: Social Santa (HT @a_little_wine).

Blogger relations, changes at Twitter and Facebook and this week’s bits and bytes

Tasty blogger relations: At Sainsbury’s, we cultivate a tasty relationship with around 100 food bloggers. Our delicious community is full of food obsessed people who love nothing more than rising to culinary challenges ranging from creating something with our by Sainsbury’s ready rolled puff pastry or sharing their kitchen hero recipes with us.

More often than not, @a_little_wine and I will sit there going through coverage alerts and fight the urge to lick our screens, so scrumptious are the creations from the community.

We refer to them as our food blogger community – but you could also refer to them as brand advocates. Which is why I thought this post about the power of brand ambassadors was a great summary of what these kinds of communities can do for a brand: generate trust, credibility, engagement and impressions – and I’d add a fifth to the mix and that would be high quality content. We regularly share creations from the community with our Twitter followers to inspire them to try a new product or recipe they might otherwise not have come across.

#TwitterIPO: Twitter’s share price went from the initial public offering price of $26 to $45 within minutes after shares were finally made available on the New York Stock Exchange. That means the company went from being worth $18bn to a wee bit over $30bn. CNBC reckons it’s worth exploring Twitter’s business model and prospects and whether “a community of ephemeral messaging” can morph into a serious, profitable venture.

Storify + Twitter: My favourite development of the week (besides Arsenal beating both Liverpool and Dortmund) comes from Storify. The go-to-tool when it comes to curating the web in just a few clicks has just made it easier to then share your digital collages with your followers by allowing a sort of slide show to embedded into Twitter. Extremely nifty and an excellent way to take advantage of Twitter embeds as it effectively allows you to go waaaaay over the 140 character limit in one tweet.

Who better to demonstrate than President Obama himself.

Is Facebook’s walled garden coming down? Facebook and Twitter are coming ever closer in functionality, freely copying features from each other. Facebook adopted Twitter’s hashtags, Twitter adopted Facebook’s way of displaying links. Twitter copied the share button with its retweet button. Twitter also copied the idea of the favourite button from Facebook’s like button. Twitter even copied the idea of an IPO. Sheesh.

The one big remaining difference between the two networks though is that they are at different ends of the public vs private scale: On Facebook users tend to share a lot of personal information with a smaller group of friends, while on Twitter users share very little personal information with pretty much anyone.

That big difference might be changing with Facebook’s announcement this week that it is removing an old setting called “Who can look up your Timeline by name.” This will mean that anyone will be able to look up your Facebook profile using your name and see what they already have permission to see. Facebook explicitly states that “removing this setting doesn’t change who can see your photos, status updates or other things you’ve shared.”

I do hope they keep that point of difference alive – I know I will be keeping my eye on Facebook’s privacy settings quite closely when this feature rolls out soon. Inside Facebook has a 5 step guide to protect your Facebook privacy (for what its worth).

The thumbs up gets the axe: Say goodbye to the Facebook thumbs up – the iconic symbol for digital approval is getting the chop, in favour of a more corporate and cold Facebook F. The change will happen over the next few weeks, according to the Facebook developer blog.

Source: Facebook

Books still relevant to youth shock: In my final year of high school, I received a pager for Christmas. I was well chuffed. No my friends could call my pager and I would see the number and I could call them back. We developed codes. 999 meant call me back immediately. 143 meant I love you. Yes, we spelt out boobs. It was the first portable digital screen in my live and it was awesome.

Fast forward to today and 17% of children in the US under the age 8 use a mobile device at least once a day. This stat comes from a recent Common Sense media study. If anything, I’m surprised (and relieved?) it isn’t higher and that books still play such a big part.

Hang on, I’ll get you some ice for that burn: Pepsi celebrated Halloween last week with some creative depicting a can of Pepsi dressed up as a can of Coke. The line reads: “We wish you a scary Halloween”.

In response, Coke quite brilliantly used exactly the same image, but changed the tagline to “Everyone wants to be a hero”.


While we’re on burns: Betty Productions ask musician Whitey if they can use his music in a new TV show for free as there is ‘no budget for music’. He, um, declines (HT @tomparker81).

Video of the week: Meet the Footbonaut, a 360-degree-ball machine that fires footballs at players from all angles, requiring them to control and dispatch the balls into the appropriate square. Cutting edge technology currently in use at Borussia Dortmund – but still not as good as having an on-fire Aaron Ramsey in your team.

And finally: Hats off to @TescoMobile for the masterclass in Twitter sass (it’s OK. They only made it into Buzzfeed. We made it onto Time Magazine, thanks to @tomparker81).

Teens on social, the myth of the digital native, how we shop and this week’s bits and bytes

Facebook had a mixed week: While it beat analysts expectations by reporting $2 billion in revenue, the news that led coverage was the fact that young teens are using the site less. The following slide from The Huffington Post makes for worrying reading for Facebook. The amount of teens rating the social network as important has dropped from 42% to 23% – but not to worry too much: Instagram is up from 12% to 23%. Also, it’d really be interesting to know what that ‘Other’ category is made up of.

Mind you – if the Giraffe profile pic game is so popular on Facebook that it merits an article in the Telegraph, I’m not surprised teens aren’t too impressed anymore (HT @a_little_wine).

I jest – but while Instagram is growing in importance for teens, it still isn’t as important as Facebook. Perhaps then, there are different forces at play here?

Generation Analog and the Myth of the Digital Native: An fascinating article on Mobile Youth takes an ethnographic look at human interaction, arguing that an online interaction will never be able to pass on as much unspoken or unwritten information as a face-to-face interaction.

“Offline is the moment of truth. When it comes to the jugular issues of trust and emotion, you can’t cheat the offline world.”

The piece goes on to talk about how our mobiles are the perfect link between our online and offline lives – perhaps an explanation of why platforms such as Instagram, Vine or Snapseed are growing in importance. They provide a quick, simple and always on method of capturing our experiences with friends.

“Mobile phones are a proxy, a surrogate for our times; mobile phones are the tools that can help maintain but not improve our social networks. What youth really want from technology is emotion and connectivity to support the offline world.”

Or, to put that differently:

“Take offline out of the equation and all that online stuff becomes meaningless.”

A top read that I do encourage you to spend some time on!

What’s Google+ up to then? Well, according to this recent blog post it looks like they’re no longer going after the social networking market. Instead, the play seems to be one of media management and enhancement with some nifty new image editing tools.

They’ve integrated the excellent Snapseed mobile platform, which in turn has just added an excellent HDR photo filter that will bring much more depth to your shots and the ‘Auto Awesome’ features look like they will allow you to pull of very impressive photo manipulations in just a few clicks.

For example – going from this…

… to this – all on Google+

Twitter overloads on images: Twitter too, has updated their platform and mobile apps in an attempt to make it more image (read: marketer) friendly – providing you use Twitter’s image platform. Flickr doesn’t seem to display automatically nor does Instagram (but that’s no surprise) – it’s supposed to pull in Vines automatically, but I haven’t seen any yet. What it means: more space in feeds to get your message across (after all, an image is worth a little more than seven Tweets), but probably also more time waiting for images to load, likely for images they don’t care about.

Also new with the update are permanent shortcuts to reply, retweet, fave and to the Twitter menu – giving the feed and even more cluttered look. And on the mobile app, you do end up seeing less content on the screen, which is annoying.

How We Shop, Live and Look: According to research commissioned by John Lewis, Brits shop all day long via the web and what they buy is increasingly influenced by news and entertainment events they see on screen. Some interesting facts that caught my eye:

  • Sales of food mixers jumped 62% during the Great British Bake Off
  • Online searches for trainers spiked during Andy Murray’s triumphant run at Wimbledon
  • Prime-time for online shopping is in the evening, 5-11pm
  • Board games are set to be a hit this Christmas, with sales already up 17% on last year

Think you’ve got your finger on the pulse? Try The Telegraph’s quiz based on John Lewis research (also: kudos to the PR bods at John Lewis for wall-to-wall coverage this week on this story).

Videos of the week: A gory clip by – oh, you know what, I won’t say – featuring a lot guts, blood, a healthy dose of eyeballs. Perfectly timed to launch on Halloween (HT @CharlieJHSmith.

Starbucks’ Tweet-a-coffee let’s you buy a friend on Twitter a coffee.

Want to live in Berlin for free for a year? No worries. All Lufthansa needs you to do is change your name to Klaus-Heidi (the Berliner accent in the clip is atrocious, but it’s a clever campaign idea).

And finallyTim Minchin’s nine brilliant life lessons.

Social media 101, digital trends, Computerphile and this week’s bits and bytes

Social media 101: The Guardian is really getting into this social media marketing thing. They’ve launched a dedicated section on their website dedicated to the topic. A great resource if you’re starting out in social or just want to stay abreast of the latest developments without things getting too geeky.

As a brief selection, there’s a piece on how Twitter has become the marketing platform where people answer back, why you should think mobile when thinking social media and tips on how to manage reputation on social media.

And while we’re on the basics of social – an actually useful ‘how to do social media‘ post by @mycleveragency.

Twitter history: Quartz have published a great timeline of how Twitter has been described by the New York Times since it was launched in 2007 to present day. A nifty way of looking at how Twitter, but also the NYT’s understanding of Twitter has evolved over time from

“This short-messaging service allows you to ‘micro-blog’ your life in 140 character bursts.”


“…which started out as a way to post short bursts of text, is slowly but surely evolving into a media-rich and never-ending stream of information and entertainment that includes short videos, photographs and advertisements”

More proof that Facebook has lost its cool: The news that Facebook is losing younger members and no longer cool is nothing new. These claims have been backed up with data and analysis and I’ve written about them here before. If you still don’t believe it or want further proof then you should check out this splendid post on HuffPo about why the kids don’t like Facebook anymore.

Predictive search: Google Now does it, many other search engines, apps and companies are working on it. A clever set of algorithms look at a whole host of data about your likes and dislikes, behaviours and habits, personal information and what ever else they can get their hands on to give you something that you’ll only realise you wanted afterwards.

The New York Times looks at why some people see this is as the holy grail of marketing and others see it as the death of serendipity and privacy. 

Social media trends: This top notch presentation by @kpcb about social media in 2013 has been online for a few months now and in that time has been viewed over 2.4 million times. It explains brilliantly how mobile plays such a huge part in social and provides gratuitous amounts of stats on social for the next few years (US centric, yes, but still useful).

Some key bits:

  • Facebook and Snapchat are best for sharing photos. Instagram and Flickr are very far away behind
  • Video is still huge and only getting bigger: 100 hours of video are uploaded to Youtube every minute
  • Sound is catching up though: More than 11 hours of music are uploaded on Soundcloud every minute. The next big thing after sound: data
  • Despite all its reported trouble, the big blue social network Facebook is the biggest player, followed by Youtube, Twitter and Google+
  • The countries with the most prolific sharers: Saudi Arabia, India and Indonesia. Those more guarded about sharing their lives online: Japan, Germany and Hungary

Computerphile: I’m not sure how I’ve missed this before but let me introduce you to my new favourite Youtube channel. Übergeeks coming together and explaining in simple English some incredibly complex things that we all use every day but don’t really understand. Like browser cookies, email, the world wide web or the clip that got me onto this channel in the first place: How intelligent is artificial intelligence? Proper geekgasm stuff. Love it.

Branded accounts are people too: The wonderful @usvsth3m posted an enjoyable listicle about the woes of managing a branded social media account. Definitely one where other community managers and social media bods will empathise.

For me, my pet peeve is the usual reaction I get when I speak to people outside of marketing/comms about my job: “Hang on. You just browse Facebook and Twitter all day long. Can I have your job?”

Oh. And poorly executed user journeys based on QR codes. But that’s more than a pet peeve. That’s more like a deep rooted hatred.

Videos of the week: Based on the Cannes award winning public service announcement campaign ‘Dumb Ways to Die‘, a version featuring dumb ways to die while playing GTA V (and yes, they are very dumb, but they are so much fun. The GTA V ones. Not the real ones) has popped up on Youtube.

And two related clips, the first of a woman who quits her job with an interpretive dance to Kanye West’s ‘Gone’…

… and the response from the company she left.

And finally: How much does the The Daily Mail hate you

Market like it’s 2013, social ‘blunders’, Facebook competitions and this week’s bits and bytes

Market like it’s 2013: Motormouth, wine merchant and social media superstar @garyvee spoke at the Elevate conference in New York City about how marketers are behaving in 2013 as if it were still 2004. It’s a thought provoking, 20-minute talk that really hammers home the point that just blasting out messages to your subscribers, Adwords, MPUs and direct mail campaigns are about a decade out of date because they no longer earn the attention of people in today’s saturated media landscape.

This really shouldn’t be new to anyone in marketing, PR or social media, but it’ll serve as a good reminder because I am sure we all still tend to err on the broadcast side of how we use social, rather than spending the energy to really listen to what people are saying.

Some bits that stuck with me:

  • Don’t treat social media like another push marketing channel – it is a two-way conversation. Treating it like another broadcast channel doesn’t bring any value what so ever to the end user
  • Twitter should be more about listening and less about talking. It should be about responding to people, about looking for specific keywords that will allow you to tell your story to someone that is interested in your product or industry and bring value to them
  • Make it your mission to “natively storytell” on social platforms
  • Spend your time figuring out how to tell stories on platforms that you don’t think you’re going to use – keep your ears pricked for what Gary says about how Snapchat could be used as a real-time promotional tool that rewards only your most die hard fans
  • Only if you understand why people are on a social platform, will you be able to understand how to bring value to the user, raise awareness for your brand
Understand why people are on a social media platform

Netflix FTW: While we’re on the topic of paradigm shifts (I know, I said it wasn’t news, but I needed a segway), Kevin Spacey convincingly argues that releasing films in cinemas, on-demand and on DVDs at the same time would take a huge bite out of piracy. Queue many overjoyed Game of Thrones fans (the most pirated TV show on the planet because you can’t get it fast enough) who have had to resort to all sorts of shady methods to get their next fix. And no, I’m not over the red wedding.

Twerk beats F Bombing – special guest post by @A_Little_Wine: It was the MTV Video Music Awards 2013 on Sunday and as usual, it failed to disappoint. Miley Cyrus’ performance with Robin Thicke dominated Twitter overshadowing Lady Gaga’s opening performance of her new single, Katy Perry’s closing rendition of her latest hit, Kanye West’s auto-tuned selfie and even Taylor Swift dropping an F bomb live on camera. Miley’s performance beat even Justin Timberlake’s 15 minute epic montage including a reunion with ‘N Sync! Cyrus performed the infamous Twerk complete with giant gyrating teddies and a rather X-rated performance with man-of-the-moment Mr Thicke. You know it’s shocking when even Rhi Rhi looks a bit embarrassed. The ‘most shared’ reaction to Miley’s twerking however, would be that of the Smith family.

According to Nielsen’s SocialGuide the cringe worthy show generated 18.5 million Tweets on the night alone with the show being tweeted about 28 times more than the second most popular televised show across the globe.

Many tweets don’t (necessarily) make a trend: Cision have looked at a number of Twitter trending topics and come to the conclusion that just because something is trending on Twitter that doesn’t mean that many people are talking about it. A number of examples show that there seem to be some other factors in play, that sometimes topics trend long after the peak in mentions was achieved, or that topics trend with only a few hundred mentions (HT @MindyB_).

Traditional media doesn’t get social media shocker: The Daily Telegraph posted an article titled “Five biggest social media blunders of 2013“. Now, I’ve talked to you about my love of a good listicle, and given my day job, I clicked. Spectacularly, The Daily Telegraph goes on to list six social media ‘blunders’, only one of which (Tesco’s “hit the hay” tweet) can really be considered a ‘blunder’.

The other five ‘blunders’ – including the frickin news hook the entire piece was based on – were not blunders (ie. a stupid or careless mistakes), but rather the result of hackers gaining access to Twitter accounts.

I’m surprised they didn’t include the Syrian Electronic Army hacking the New York Times and Twitter this week. After all, they’re literally making up new meanings of words to suit the way they’re abusing. Oh, wait…

So, what is a social media blunder? Liverpool FC have the answer (HT @tomparker81 and @a_little_wine).

Painful Facebook competitions are coming: In a dramatic u-turn, Facebook have announced that you can now run promotions and competitions right there on your brand page. This means that you no longer need to build a special app that houses the competition (that cry of pain you hear is by app developers going out of business), instead you can ask your fans to simply like or comment on a post to join a competition.

There’s no mention of cost to the page owner in the Facebook promotion guidelines, which I find hard to believe as this simple mechanic will be something that brands will want to get into. I suspect it will lead to many branded competitions popping up in your newsfeed (after all, Facebook treats much liked and much commented content within your social graph as being particularly newsworthy) and – who knows – the unfollowing of brands who post too many inane competitions like this one from Condescending Corporate Brand (yes, I know this isn’t a real competition, but if you’re familiar with their collection of painfully poor posts you just know it isn’t far from the truth).

The thin blue Twitter line: Twitter has also decided to update its service – if you’re using their mobile app, you’ll now see that there’s a blue line that connects tweets in a conversation, displaying them immediately after the other.

The majority of Twitter users seem to be OK with this (going by my feed at least), saying that it helps make sense of Twitter’s confusing conversations. But then there’s those that believe by making conversations easier to follow, Twitter is encouraging people to use the service for something other than its essential function, that is following the news rather than conversations between people that may have concluded hours previously.

Videos of the week: The guys at GoPro posted this great clip from Man City’s pre-season tour of the US. What do we learn? Footballers are all about the garishly coloured shoes, it’s all about angles, Hart was pants even in pre-season (but is rather good at baseball), and in the States, a pre-season friendly between Chelsea and Man City is sold out, so dire is the quality of football there.

Climate Name Change propose a new naming system for extreme storms caused by climate change after the policy makers who deny climate change and obstruct climate policy.

And finally: A triple dose of Internet awesomeness, because I couldn’t pick just one. I present you Dubstep cat, Daily Express Bingo and What Rhymes With Hug Me.

Batfleck, #SaintsFC, Sugarpova and this week’s bits and bytes

Batfleck: As usual, the Internet exploded overnight as the news broke that Ben Affleck will play the new Batman (oh yes, all the hard-hitting news here my friends). Outrage is the best word that describes the reaction, with many people suggesting better caped crusaders on the #BetterBatmanThanBenAffleck hashtag. As is often the case with curating the best of the Internet silliness, Mashable compiled their favourite suggestions for a better Batman than Ben Affleck (HT @stangreenan).

Of course, the obligatory fake Ben ‘Batman’ Affleck account already has 13,000 followers – and 1 tweet.

Brands getting in on the real-time marketing bandwagon included Pizza Express and Vue Cinemas but it’s really the less politically correct reactions from the fans that are worth a browse.

#SaintsFC: Gotta hand it to Southampton FC. Not only do they have Rickie ‘I create spikes in Saino’s Beetroot sales‘ Lambert, they ‘get’ social. After they successful campaign to thank fans for getting them across the 100,000 follower mark they’ve now become the first British football club to permanently display its official hashtag within its stadium seating (HT @tomparker81).

Trolls are here to stay: In a tremendous guest post on Wired, @JamieJBartlett argues that trolling and cyber-bullying have always played a part in web culture, a consequence of anonymity and the freedom to say anything – no matter how offensive. The only difference is that while trolls used to be confined to the dark underbelly of t’Interwebs, the proliferation of social media, ubiquitous broadband access and smart phones have brought world’s morons out from their hidden communities and into the mainstream and public consciousness.

A wonderful excursion into the history of trolling, flame wars, and the explanation for why you should never, ever, read The Comments – Godwins Law: “as an online discussion grows longer, the probability of a comparison involving the Nazis or Hitler approaches one” – this is a wonderful post that calls for people, especially young people and women, to be better prepared when they ‘go online’.

Social media wins customer support: 80% of customer complaints on social media receive a response within 12 hours, while only 37% of customer complaints on email received a response in the same amount of time. Now, there are a number of questions that I’d like to put to the guys at eDigitalResearch who studied 2,000 consumers, but what should also be pointed out is that the amount of customer complaints coming in via email is likely to be far larger than the amount of social media contacts. Still, it is indicative of the fact that companies are biased towards social media complaints due to their potential to becoming larger and possibly reputationally damaging issues.

Advantage Sharapova: Earlier this week, Russian tennis ace Maria Sharapova announced she might change her surname during the US Open to ‘Sugarpova’ to promote her own confectionary range. In the end, the name change would have meant too much paperwork and hassle so it was dropped – ESPN seemed quite miffed at the whole thing, noting Sharapova should concentrate on Tennis, not gimmicks.

Source: Sugarpova

That however, would be missing the point of what I think was a clever way to spread the Sugarpova brand. After all, the story achieved world wide coverage – without Sharapova ever actually doing anything! The number of Tweets mentioning the word “Sugarpova” jumped from 50 to 9,000 in a day – and I’d argue, with all the coverage achieved and me telling you about it now, you have to conclude that the stunt most definitely worked.

Unfortunately for Sharapova: she’s had to pull out of the US Open due to injury.

Brands on Vine: See what brands are up to with Twitter’s 6 second video platform Vine – and keep your eyes peeled for Sainsbury’s latest effort celebrating being the no.1 for British apples and pears.

Hats off also to Aussie Bank NatWest for their superb use of Vine for customer service – quick, six second how-to clips to either explain how to change the settings in online banking, how to recycle an 4 pint milk container into a dust pale or how you can use an empty glass to amplify the sound from your mobile phone.

Embedded posts: Both Twitter and now Facebook are going big on embedded posts. The feature was already available on Twitter for a long time, but they are now displaying related news items alongside the Tweet you chose to embed. For example, @Eunner’s Tweet about the Asiana Airlines crash landing in San Francisco.

The Tweet should shows headlines that are related to the 140-character-message – although it doesn’t seem to like WordPress). As Twitter puts it: “We think this will help more people discover the larger story behind the Tweet, drive clicks to your articles, and help grow your audience on Twitter.”

Never too far behind in copying Twitter, Facebook has also rolled out their embedded post option to all users (something that you’ve been able to do on Twitter for a few years now).

Content marketing vs. content strategy: A great summary of the difference between two entirely different concepts that are often – and incorrectly – use synonymously. 

And while I’m rocking the marketing buzzword bingo – another thought provoking read via the Wall Blog about the rise of the ‘Always on Consumer‘ (this article also contains the beautiful ‘cross-channel’. Oh yes!). The fact that these people are permanently connected across multiple devices means that they require a communications approach that delivers a consistent and seamless narrative which they can enjoy no matter which of their many devices they happen to be brandishing at any particular point in time.

Videos of the week: I admit I cried when I watched this beautiful clip from British Airways from their ‘Visit Mum’ campaign. I can’t say that I have had a similarly long time away from my mum, but I do know what it feels like to come home to her amazing cooking and embrace after a year or so away. Love you, mum!

Clever stuff from Publicis in the Netherlands who installed a barrier in the carpark of one of the country’s most famous clubs that would only let guests leave if they passed a breathalyser test.

And finally: Hot Dog Legs.

Create a free website or blog at

Up ↑

%d bloggers like this: