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Sharing cool, listicles, an ode to Warsteiner and this week’s bits and bytes

Teenagers want a simple way to share cool stuff: Facebook has not been having a good time lately. An academic study from the University of Michigan has found that people tended to feel worse and less satisfied after using Facebook.

As if that weren’t enough, the article that’s popped up most in my feeds this week has been a piece on Mashable penned by 13-year-old Ruby Karp titled “I’m 13 and None of My Friends Use Facebook“.

Bored teenager is bored.

I don’t see this as the death knell for Facebook. Rather more interesting are her statements about how teenagers follow their peers, want what their friends want and prefer simple things.

If that’s true, then the need for complex social interactions and continuous ego-marketing is deemed to be unnecessary and a waste of time by teenagers. Instead, Ruby and her friends prefers to focus on platforms that are relevant to her immediate social circle and allow them to share and curate the stuff they think is cool, new – stuff that their parents aren’t already using or sharing.

Listicles: They’ve been around for ages. On Letterman, in newspapers, the Premier League table. In High Fidelity, Rob spends most of his time compiling them. In Sainsbury’s stores up and down the country, our customers use them to make sure they stick to their budget and don’t forget anything. Hell, this blog is based on the principle of the listicle!

I’m talking of course about the wonderful, powerful and entirely simple list.

We are in The Age Of The Listicle (entire articles based on the the structure of a list). Critics see them as the dumbing down of journalism, as nothing more than link bait and click fodder that generate page impressions to inflate website stats.

Hoever, when you have such perfect executions as this brilliant, entertaining and hilarious effort by Mashable about 15 dating tips from Game of Thrones – you can see why it is that listicles are changing journalism

Fired for taking a photo: Remember a while back when a disgruntled HMV employee live tweeted redundancies in the marketing team? This week saw a similarly painful example of corporate downsizing going viral. AOL CEO Tim Armstrong assembled staff from his hyper local news division Patch (which he founded and brought into AOL) to inform them of impending doom.

During the speech, Armstrong made a point of underlining his view on how leaking information about Patch to the press doesn’t affect him: “I don’t care.”

Moments later, Patch’s creative director Abel Lenz takes out his camera and moves to take a photo for Patch’s Intranet.

Armstrong stops in mid sentence, turns to Lenz and orders him to put the camera down.

Another pause, before Armstrong continues: “Abel, you’re fired. Out!”

Why has everyone from the Indie, Forbes, Daily Mail, Bloomberg to the New York Times covered this story? Because all of it was recorded and uploaded to Soundcloud where over a million people have listened to the moment a guy was fired for taking a photo for the company Intranet.

Armstrong has since issued an apology for the rather crass firing, explaining that Lenz had been warned previously not to make recordings of confidential meetings. Why the whole spiel about not caring about leaks in the first place? Bizarre.

The power of video: A great presentation by @LeslieBradshaw to show why video is the best way to get your message across in today’s time and attention poor environment.

  • With ever smarter phones and portable devices as well as faster data connections, videos are already mobile
  • The moving image grabs our attention and we’re more likely to stick to it. I love the line ‘You’re more likely to be struck by lightning than click on a banner ad’ – it rings true. When was the last time you clicked on an ad?
  • Video bypassess the ‘TL;DR mindset’ – people are scared by long texts are likely to not even attempt reading them. The fact that ‘TL;DR’ is a common web abbreviation for ‘too long; didn’t read’ speaks volumes
  • It seems to always be a video that goes viral (except, of course, if it’s Giraffe Bread…! Imagine if we’d created a video with Lily explaining why we changed the name?)

And while we’re on virulent video: Twitter has published a marvelous piece about how videos go viral, using the examples of “Ryan Gosling doesn’t like cereal”, “Dove’s Real Beauty” and Commander Hadfield’s intergalactic Space Oddity cover.

Why I’ll be drinking Warsteiner from now on: I spent my Wednesday evening watching a rubbish Germany draw 3-3 with Paraguay, and England make hard work of Scotland. Accompanying me were a large stuffed crust Pepperoni Pizza and a bottle of Warsteiner. I felt suitably bloke-ish and decided to tweet this glorious ensemble.

No long after, @Warsteiner_UK responded and retweeted me.

Now. I’ve been doing this social media lark for a good while now, and I know this isn’t hard to do for a company. I suspect that Warsteiner don’t have the biggest market share in the UK (Becks seems to be the German beer of choice here), and a quick look at Sysomos shows that in the last 30 days, 488 tweets from the UK have mentioned Warsteiner – most of those mentions coming from their own account.

Still, I found my choice of beverage validated. I am writing about it here. And you know what, I will be more inclined to keep a look out for Warsteiner the next time I’m at a bar or in the BWS aisle in my local Sainsbury’s (mind you, it also helps that it’s a mighty tasty beer, but that’s another story).

Social media creates many such opportunities for brands and businesses to listen for and respond to the people using their products. I wasn’t looking for a retweet or any other response. I didn’t @ them or # their brand name. But they are quite clearly out there, listening for these types of statements and responding to them. A quick retweet, fave and/or @ response really does go a long way in building a link between a customer and a brand.

Newswires are dead: Google has again updated their algorithm, punishing over-optimised press releases and bad content. Andy Barr from @10Yetis puts it rather splendidly: The murder of PR agencies by Google has been vastly exaggerated

Videos of the week: I’d really be interested to know what women think of the hot, heavy and holy-crap-I-really-shouldn’t-be-looking-at-this-at-work Agent Provocateur ad directed by Penelope Cruz and staring Irina Shayk and Javier Bardem.

The clever chaps at Paddy Power have decided to sponsor the greatest football team in the history of the game, Farnborough FC. Messi, Pele, Beckenbauer, Lineker… you’ll want to watch this great clip (HT @stangreenan).

And finally: Go to YouTube. Watch a video (for this exercise, may I suggest this one). Pause it during playback. Click anywhere on the page and type “1980”. Enjoy.

Marmite Neglect, fake fans, the return of Bebo and this week’s bits and bytes

Marmite – you either love it, or you hate it: In keeping with the traditional response that this horrible, vile substance elicits – this new ad for Marmite showing Marmite welfare officers visiting houses to save jars of Marmite from neglect and find them a new home has had everyone talking.

Within a day of the ad airing, the Advertising Standards Authority received 250 complaints from viewers. Can’t say if these are 250 very bored/sad people with no sense of humour what so ever – or a very eager PR team writing mock complaints.

Case in point: a comment on the Guardian article about the many hundreds of complaints: “Exactly. 250 people need to get a life. I mean how dull and meaningless is your life when you get so annoyed you make the effort to complain about yeast?” (HT @stangreenan)

Anyway – on Thursday, after the complaint count reached 330, Unilever announced that it would donate £18,000 to the RSPCA as an apology to animal rights activists for spoofing the important work they do. Still, the ASA is looking into it and will announce next week if it is to launch a formal investigation.

I don’t know if the ASA’s involvement was planned or genuine. I would argue however that it has definitely worked in Marmite’s favour. Due to the the threat of the ad being banned, it’s been widely featured in the media and it was the talk of Twitter.

Source: Marmite

There are a few more elements to the campaign that haven’t been so readily discussed:

  • a promoted Tweet is encouraging people to head to the microsite/Marmite Facebook app and either donate their own jar or nominate possible foster families
  • a real-life Marmite Neglect team is touring the land, visiting people’s homes to see if there are any jars to be saved from neglect
  • along with the TV ad, there’s also a series of snapshots of kitchen cupboards, with long-neglected Marmite jars poking out from between the more popular cupboard staples
  • and on Marmite’s Youtube channel, there is an interview with a Trainee Marmite Rescue Officer who talks about the tools of the Marmite saving trade

Iceberg rescues Titanic: Huge news this week as out of nowhere, Amazon founder Jeff Bezos surprised the worlds’ media by agreeing to buy the Washington Post for $250 million (to remind you, Instagram and Tumblr were recently acquired for $1 billion each).

Amongst the many breathless headlines, I thought Salon said it best with theirs: The iceberg just rescued the Titanic – and the rest of the piece is chock full of great info as well.

Meanwhile, @AllThingsIC pulled together a great post looking at how the news of the sale was communicated to WaPo staffers, including an all staff email that starts with ‘You’ll have heard the news’. While you can argue about the timing of the timings of the internal comms – ideally you’d want people inside the business to find out before the media – Bezos’ letter is a fantastic example of communicating change internally.

Fake fans: You may have caught the great piece on C4 Dispatches called “Celebs, Brands and Fake Fans“ about how some companies artificially inflate social media likes, fans and followers by buying them.

The doco shows how you’d go about building a fake community – one fake account at a time. Why any brand would invest money in this kind of approach instead of concentrating on listening to your customers, understanding and delivering against their needs, I do not know.

As @girllostincity puts it: “there are no short-cuts in building an audience. There is no ‘easy way’ to getting people to “like” you. It is a dangerous idea to think that by cheating people into thinking you’re popular (by recruiting fake people) that this will somehow transform into authentic popularity somewhere down the line.”

In response to the piece, @georgiahalston looks at how you should interpret the value of your social media following and – guess what! – the focus should be on quality (engagement, sentiment, sincerity of the audience) rather than quantity (likes, fans, followers, views). Over on Londoncalling, CEO of Kred @AndrewGrill provides thoughts on whether social media is in crisis.

Bebo’s back: I was at Aol when it acquired the social network Bebo. Aol didn’t really do much with it, it was sold to another Internet company who also didn’t really do much with it and finally it was sold to the original founder of Bebo, Michael Birch. Birch has just released a brilliant – and very NSFW – clip that harks back to the glory days when Bebo was the centre of the web (for you younger kids, this was after MySpace and waaay before Facebook) and arguably the single biggest repository of illustrated cock and balls ever. Yes. You read that correctly.

Shocking PR win for Apple: Fake iPhone chargers have been known to electrocute people, sometimes leading to victims falling into a coma or death. Apple have recognised that this issue could lead to considerable brand damage – not to mention questions about why their chargers are so danged expensive that there is a market for fakes in the first place, and, you know, dead people – and have announced a USB power adapter takeback program.

This will allow customers to bring their fake chargers to Apple and in receive an official Apple charger for half the price. Very, very clever stuff. Not only does it make them come off as the good guys, they’re driving sales on the back of it.

Tesco Watford: Hat’s off to the chaps at Tesco and Google Maps for producing this great walk through of the newly renovated Watford Extra. Pretty, sure, but I prefer a supermarket that understands the value of values.

Videos of the week: The Premier League is coming to US broadcaster NBC and they’ve produced a great little clip of Spurs and their new American manager’s first few days in the job

Messi wears a suit fitted with hundreds of LEDs to create some pretty trippy stuff in Adidas’ new ad for their space aged boots

You’ll watch what others tweet: Tweets about TV shows make people tune in to those TV shows, according to new data from Nielsen.

The new Facebook: If you’re super keen to try out the new Graph Search function on Facebook, all you need to do is change your language to ‘English US’.

And finally: Why it’s important to be able to tell the difference between airlines and airlanes.

Twitter trolls and this week’s bits and bytes

Don’t feed the trolls? The big news this week was regarding calls from activist Caroline Criado Perez and others to put Jane Austen on a £10 note. An honour that many agreed was deserved and appropriate. And rightfully, they have received much praise – but also a storm of the most vile and disgusting abuse, rape and death threats via Twitter.

Is it Twitter’s job to police the platform? Yes. Should the police get involved when threats are being made? Absolutely. But as @Euan argues, what about the rest of the Twitter population? More of us should take the often tough decision to stand up and say something when we see others in our circles indulging in unacceptable behaviour.” In the spirit of the age-old mantra for community managers the world over @girllostincity thinks that we’re giving trolls too much attention and should stop feeding them.

Del Harvey on Newsnight

Twitter has been criticised for their slow reaction and for the awkward and desperately defensive appearance on Newsnight of their Head of Trust and Safety, @delbius. It didn’t help that she spoke almost exclusively in corporate bingo phrases, felt it was necessary to outline how long she had been at Twitter in response to the opening question, or that she went on to admit that the “dozens or so” people in her team are essentially playing catch to the “rocket-ship” that Twitter has become.

Critics are calling for many things, one of which is a way for users to report abuse. But is a ‘report this’ button really going to help? @sharonodea argues that it’s likely to create more problems than it solves, as the trolls might treat being reported and banned as a wind-up to be ignored – and confirmation that they are getting attention.

What to do?

Twitter suggests you find the link to the form with which you can report abuse on Twitter on their website – a form that requires you to fill in 11 fields of data and that seems to be largely unknown outside of the US, at least going by the bitly stats on clickthroughs. Definitely needs some simplification here…

However, as @MartinBelam rightly puts it, this isn’t a technology problem – this is a misogyny problem: The abuse directed at woman is a representation of the level of abuse that women are expected to tolerate outside of Twitter as well. It is absolutely right that we should be standing up and saying that this is unacceptable; not just online, but in society in general. We’ll need to work both online and offline to win that battle.

Social media and business continuity: A serious heading for a serious topic – how does social media affect traditional business continuity and crisis communication plans? @stevef2412 notes that the time between an incident taking place and the first tweet about it is about 30 seconds. Depending on the nature of the incident, many more tweets are likely to follow. So what are the critical things an organisation has to get right almost immediately? Read the post to find out.

Hacking your own Twitter: Pretending your account’s been hacked in order to get people talking and increase your followers (what, you think rubbernecking only applies to crashes on the motorway? People love gawking at disasters no matter where they’re happening). Please people: focus on helping, informing and amusing your followers rather than coming up with daft ways of inflating your follower numbers.

Why PR is your best marketing weapon: Not one of the usual posts with top X ways to do Y better. Instead, a helpful and honest piece from @wadhwa about seven ways to get top PR. For those of you who want to TL;DR it – a quick summary below – the rest, I strongly recommend giving it a read.

  • Learn what makes news by – surprise, surprise – consuming news
  • Focus on the needs of the journalist and build relationships
  • Package announcements into a news hook
  • Don’t ignore the small media organisations – they will help build your credibility
  • Make time for journo requests – the first to respond generally get included in a piece
  • Be honest, be yourself and have an opinion

All you ever wanted to know about SEO: A monster deck of 101 slides on the past two decades of search engines (remember Webcrawler?). What we learn is that people figure out how to game Google rankings, they score massive traffic for a short while before Google updates their algorithms and ranking methods and everybody starts looking at ways of gaming the new system. All resulting in where were are today with inbound marketing, where by publishing the right content in the right place at the right time, your message becomes relevant and helpful to your customers, not interruptive.

Google Glass is a journalists friend: In my continuing series of possible uses for Google Glass, I’d like to point you to Vice Magazine, which has published a piece about how Google’s wearable computer has helped one of their journalists report from areas of conflict around the world.

Source: Vice

From streaming live video from Glass, accessing files on your home computer through the tiny screen placed in your field of vision while in the field, to tweeting live from rallies through a clever IFTTT recipe – it really is a fascinating look at what remote working could look like in the very near future.

Facebook content will escape the walled garden: Facebook announced this week that it is launching “embedded posts.” Does what it says on the tin: You’ll be able to take any public Facebook post and embed it in any other site that allows embed codes. It’s been rolled out to the Facebook pages of HuffPo, CNN and a handful of others – so keep an eye out for when it rolls out to more platforms and your privacy settings.

All in the same room, but not really: The living room is making a comeback, with more families watching TV at the same time – according to figures releases by Ofcom this week (I can’t embed the interview with a typical family, but it’s well worth a watch to see the difference between the generations).

Source: IBTimes

91% of us watch their main TV screen once a week – up from 88% in 2002. Unsurprisingly though, while we might all be present in the same room, with the one big screen blaring out some vacuous reality show where the latest crop of annoying attention seekers vie for the judges’ affection, we’re not really paying attention to the telly. Instead, multi-tasking is up, with almost one in two of using smartphones or tablets while watching TV and one in four sharing what they’re watching through social media.

Some really interesting stats about how the Great British public consumes the media, however, two stats really stuck with me. The first confirms that tablet devices really aren’t mobile devices (85% of tablet owners keep it at home), while the second just shows that anybody who thinks their website won’t need a touch-screen optimised device should think again (91% of parents said their children use a tablet).

Holiday season and social media: Heading out to some tropical island paradise? The Guardian looks at the pitfalls of annoying all your friends back home with smug photos of deserted beaches, pouty selfies and self-satisfied Hashtags along the lines of #lifeshardbutsomeonesgotodoit. Also, Please do us all a favour and don’t succumb to the ‘legsie’ – if you do, make them look as awesome as this one (HT @a_little_wine).

Shoshone Point, Grand Canyon

And finally: Going through a rebrand to appeal to younger, hipper audiences? Try the Hipster Logo approach

Sainsbury’s Christmas, pilot name shenanigans, how to use Hashtags and this week’s bits and bytes

Christmas in July: Yup, hottest days of the year and the @SainsburysPR team spends them in a beautifully made up basement in Covent Garden to show off Sainsbury’s gorgeous Christmas collection, from fantastic festive food and drink to classy home and clothing ranges and even floral!

Our Twitter Wall was back, encouraging the assembled press and bloggers to tweet their impressions using #SainsburysChristmas. In turn we posted photos and tasty Vines (shot and directed by our very own @a_little_wine) to show off the crimbo collection that will be coming to a store near you this Christmas.

Of course, we were all well chuffed when The Daily Telegraph’s Steve Hawkes tweeted his approval. Bring on Christmas!

Sum Ting Wong: Not long ago, an Asiana Airlines flight crash landed in San Francisco. In one of those ‘I can’t believe this actually happened’ moments, KTVU, a local news station, announced that the pilots of the Asiana flight had been named:

  • Sum Ting Wong
  • Wi Tu Lo
  • Ho Lee Fuk
  • Bang Ding Ow

I kid you not.

Soon after – and unsurprisingly – KTVU issued an on air apology, saying that the names were “not accurate, despite a National Transportation Safety Board (NTSB) spokesperson confirming them”.

Who was this spokesperson? This from the NTSB website

Earlier today, in response to an inquiry from a media outlet, a summer intern acted outside the scope of his authority when he erroneously confirmed the names of the flight crew on the aircraft.

The summer intern has since been fired, but I’d suggest the NTSB revisit their crisis comms procedures. Something is clearly not quite right there…

Above the cloud advertising: Staying with air travel for a bit longer – Ryanair has decided that sticking ads on every conceivable surface inside their planes and annoying passengers with ads blasted at full-volume on the PA system isn’t enough. After all, the whole outside area of the plane is still pretty much blank! It’ll only cost you £20,000 a year to get your creative on a Ryanair’s plane, for example the tips of the wings and the main body of the plane. Doubt BA or Easyjet will take them up on it.

Source: Business Insider

Facebook fangate: You know the bit you get on some Facebook brand pages where you have to “like” the page first before you can see the content? That’s a fangate. With Real Life Connect you can now set up a real-life fangate that uses RFID technology to identify your Facebook fans as and when they come into your stores and reward them with real life perks. The example in the clip below of showering customers with confetti and kisses is somewhat cheeseball, but you get the idea (HT @mike_mcgrail).

A nifty way then of breaking down those barriers between your Facebook and bricks and mortar stores. Although the key will be to come up with an in-store/real-life perk for the customer (discounts, free stuff, or even just the recognition) that balance with a benefit for the retailer (increased loyalty, personal connections).

The link between off and online will need to be seamless and automatic. Even with something as simple as Foursquare mayorships, which provide much the same mechanic and opportunites as Real Life Connect’s RFID approach, this approach to rewarding loyalty have found little pick up. Not once have I been rewarded for being the Mayor of a cafe or restaurant – and I’ve looked!

Combine this with existing loyalty schemes or apps however, and you might be on to something!

Tweet and thou shall be saved: In terms of rewarding fans for following a brand on Twitter, the Vatican may be on to the ultimate incentive – absolving Catholics of their sins. The Pope this week announced that anyone who follows his World Youth Day service on TV, radio or via Twitter will receive plenary indulgences.

When bylines go wrong: The heat might be getting to the subs at the Sunday Mirror. They carried a nib about a bridge funding scandal; and where you’d usually find the name of the journo that had written the piece, there was a rather colourful snippet of a sentence (HT @tabloidtroll).

https://twitter.com/tabloidtroll/status/356455793605877761

How to use hashtags on Twitter: A great little 2-minute-guide to how you should use hashtags on Twitter by @garyvee. Instead of trying to make your own hashtags trend (as Gary notes, only The Bieber has that kind of power, infuriatingly), you’ll be much better off listening to what is already popular and then adding to those conversations and trends where you have the authority/content/right to play.

Videos of the week: Johannesburg Zoo were keen to get in on the social media action, but rather than hire a social media team, they decided to promote from within. Their resident honey badger “BG” got the gig (HT Alex Crouch).

A spectacular ad for Johnnie Walker starring none other than martial arts über-legend Bruce Lee. It took nine months to produce, with every shot, every detail was painstakingly assembled, animated and rendered through CGI. As the director puts it – a sculpture in a different medium (HT @KaiFischer).

A great little clip from Arsenal Football Club from the pre-season tour through Vietnam (not signing anyone or winning any titles, don’t be silly). A fan runs alongside the team coach for a good five miles, the bus finally stops and he climbs aboard. Dream come true (HT @stangreenan).

The Superhumans are back. No pressure.

And finally: Desk safari (HT @AndrewDumont).

BVB’s PR masterclass mobbed by Puma, Guardian Coffee and this week’s bits and bytes

BerryLove: Judging by the weather today and last weekend, it looks like Summer might actually be happening after all. The @SainsburysPR team (thank you to @MindyB_ for the art direction!) decided to post our first Vine to celebrate the arrival of British strawberries into our stores. Wooo!

Sing when you’re winning: Dortmund and Bayern played out the first ever Germanic Champions League final last weekend and even though Dortmund lost the game, they clearly won the PR battle. Their Deckchair Tour of London in a big, bright yellow bus was particularly brilliant, placing the chair in strategic locations around the capital (including, of course, the obligatory beach towel).

Source: Borussia Dortmund

Before the game, The Guardian published their excellent interview with Dortmund’s coach, Jürgen Klopp. Even after Bayern were crowned champions of Europe, the indomitable spirit of Klopp shone through in his press conference and the way he summed up the game.

But then came Dortmund’s kit sponsors Puma with probably the world’s worst flash mob: Defeated by the Lederhosen-clad Teutons of Bavaria and on their way back to Germany, the Dortmund squad were greeted at Stansted Airport by a troupe of Puma clad street-stylers (is that what they’re called?), beat-boxing and break-dancing to an audience of utterly nonplussed BVB players.

Again. This was a good 12 hours after the final whistle. So I have to assume that the marketing bods at Puma knew their team had come out second best but decided to go ahead regardless. I suppose the performers had been paid and everything was ready to go. After all, it can’t be that easy to get permission to do this kind of thing at an Airport.

Unsurprisingly, the video bombed and was shared for all the wrong reasons.

But it gets better.

Two days later and in response to some rather colourful language and malicious glee on Twitter, Puma decided to put out this promoted tweet (fair play to them for engaging with the conversation and not just hiding away):

The Tweet takes you through to a poll on their Facebook page where Puma acknowledge that the best time for a celebratory flashmob is when you have something to celebrate. I suspect they deserve some brownie points for apologising – kind of – but I cannot understand why they went ahead with the flashmob in the first place.

Just to finish off on the Champions League final, here are some facts on the match from Twitter: 4.8 million Tweets with Robben the most mentioned player.

The long tail of the press release: Research from PR Newswire shows that the average life span of a press release is about four months. While findings like this from a company that distributes and hosts press releases should be taken with a pinch of salt, it does also show that good stories and releases will be found by interested readers and remain relevant long after they’ve been published (HT @CorpCommsMag).

#GuardianCoffee: Following in the footsteps of TAZNRC daily and the Winnipeg Free Press News Cafe, The Guardian launched their own coffee shop this week. No, really. Aptly named #GuardianCoffee, the café popped up in Shoreditch’s Boxpark and is meant to provide journalists a place to work. The reception’s been mixed: GQ thought it more suited to “those more interested in Instagramming their latte art rather than enjoying a conversation”, while Vice felt “the vibe was sterile and deathly”. The best summary of events though goes to Us vs Th3m (HT @stangreenan).

Still, it’s got nothing on the Czechs and their Newsroom Cafés where local newspapers are produced jointly by editorial staff and guests of the café.

Tumblr launches ads: Yahoo didn’t waste any time in getting ads onto Tumblr, rolling out sponsored posts to their entire platform (they’d already been live for about a year on Tumblr’s mobile app). Somewhat predictably, the reception has been negative with some users quick to post ways to remove the ads from their pages.

Updates to both Twitter and Facebook: Twitter updated its mobile app, refreshing the tweet composer screen, making it easier to tweet images. The new layout also makes it easier to see which account your tweeting from (useful for those people who don’t want to mix their work and private Twitter accounts).

Facebook meanwhile took a leaf out of the Twitter playbook (read: flat out copied) and launched verified pages. They’ve not even bothered to come up with their own symbol – they’ve just gone and used Twitter’s blue tick.

What’s in a ringtone? A good one for the next time you’re down the pub with your friends. Did you know that the sound that Facebook makes when you receive a video call is made up of the notes F, A, C and E (HT @stangreenan)?

Google MotoX: Google have announced plans to build a smartphone that will predict what you’re going to do before you do it. Gyroscopes and other sensors will continuously track the whereabouts and movements of the phone so it will know if you’re walking around your neighbourhood and pulling it out of your trouser pocket or if you sitting in the back of a cab on your way to the airport. Expect to be out of battery by the time you get to work (HT @TreebD).

Videos of the week: A brilliant stunt from Samsung in Zurich to promote the new Galaxy S4 and its ‘smart pause’ function.

You and nine of your mates happen to be in flat, open area and have a hankering for some 5-a-side footie action? Nike’s ‘Mi Pista’ app/campaign has got you covered (HT @stangreenan).

Aussie brewer Hahn is working to put an end to all those beer spillages on dance floors around the world.

And finally: Beardvertising. Yes. This is real.

GoPro understands social rewards, POTUS rocks and this week’s bits and bytes

Sainsbury’s: Remember when you could slap Jamie Oliver via Youtube? Well, we’ve come up with our own version of that interactive Youtube clip to accompany our Kitchen Heroes campaign. Check it out to see what you can do with a carton of by Sainsbury’s chopped tomatoes (needs some work in the juggling department though…).

Also, make sure you watch the über-tasty food pornography that is the new by Sainsbury’s ads. Probably the greatest sausage sandwich you’ll ever see.

And yup, another month has passed which makes it time for a look back at our favourite tweets from April. Highlights were the new Gok for Tu collection, the Cake and Bake Show and of course the news that Sainsbury’s is sponsoring the British Athletics Summer Series.

Twitter safety: After high profile Twitter accounts from news organisations were compromised – most recently that of AP which caused a dip in the DOW – Twitter has sent a memo directly to the newsdesks with some tips on how to keep their accounts safe. Key points to remember are to use secure passwords and change them regularly, keep your email secure and keep an eye out for suspicious activity from any apps you may have authorised to have access to your account.

So far, so sensible. But then they go on to say that you should designate one computer to use for Twitter exclusively. So no email or browsing the Web. Bizarre. Here’s hoping this is all just a temporary stop gap before Twitter rolls out two-factor-authentication.

Reward & inspire: A customer that has bought your product and created something beautiful will most likely be a fan of your product. Should they chose to share this beautiful thing they’ve created, all you need to do is share that with your community. Your customer’s creation will serve to inspire other people to do the same or inspire their own ideas.

Much like Lego, the people at GoPro are brilliant at using the things their customers create and share them through their own social media channels. GoPro sells tiny HD cameras that can be mounted on pretty much anything, from tripods/helmets/skis/skateboards, to guitars, dogs and mouthpieces. The videos that they chose to share are some of the most incredible, inspiring, awesome clips you’ll see on the web. Sure, it helps if these videos feature a host of beautiful (often scantily clad) people doing awesome things, gratuitous use of slow motion and time-lapse photography as well as a pounding electro soundtrack, but you get what I mean.

Case in point – a video of a dude solving a Rubik cube. Not interested? How about if it’s three cubes at the same time. Still nothing? OK then. How about a video of a dude solving three Rubik cubes simultaneously WHILE JUGGLING THEM (are you listening @AlexCole71?). Thought so.

Facebook fatigue: There has been much talk about Facebook fatigue and the latest numbers from SocialBakers don’t show any turnaround in fortunes for the big blue social network, especially not in developed markets such as Europe, the US and Australia. In the last six months, Facebook has lost nearly 9m monthly visitors in the US and 2m in the UK. Why is this? The Guardian asked readers why: it’s superficial, boring, gimmicky and there’s too much fighting. An interesting point from a reader: It’s no longer a place where you can keep up with what’s going on with your friends and family – it’s a place where business can farm your information from.

Facebook’s demise seems somewhat exaggerated though. Its first quarter figures show that monthly and daily active users are up to 751 million and 665 million respectively. Even though net income was less than what analysts expected, mobile revenues is what seems to have saved Zuck for now: they’ve doubled this in six months. Still, as Nikhil Kumar notes in his excellent analysis for the Evening Standard notes, there is room for caution.

SMS is dead? Well, perhaps not dead, but definitely green around gills. Turns out that in 2012, more people sent messages using chat apps such as BBM, What’s App, Skype, iMessage than using good old fashioned SMS. A study by Informa found that almost 19 billion instant messages were sent using chat apps in 2012, compared to 17.6 billion SMS texts. All of that of course means a massive whole in revenues for mobile phone carriers. Suppose we can all expect data tariffs to become more expensive!

POTUS standup: President Obama spoke at the annual White House Correspondents’ Dinner this week. Not only was he funnier than Conan (not hard), his 20 minute routine just shows how charming the man really is and how important it is to count Steven Spielberg as one of your friends. For fans of the US version of House of Cards, please make sure you check out Kevin Spacey and a host of democrats and republicans come together for an excellent “Prom of the Nerds” spoof.

Still on POTUS – the White House this week joined Tumblr and in its first post, outlined exactly what people can expect from the blog with a nifty, hand-drawn pie chart. The administration will tumble quotes from Potus, videos, behind the scenes stuff and updates from Vpotus and Flotus. So far, so good. A sign that Obama’s social media bods are very much plugged into to the Internet Zetigeist comes in the form of a stand on how to pronounce the word “gif”. Rather than go with the soft G as in ‘gist’ (which, mind you, is the way that the inventors of the gif format intended it to be pronounced), the president has decided to go with the hard G as in gift. Let the battle of the geeks begin.

Source: White House

No. 10 Twitter first: Not wanting to be left out, Downing Street plans to use Twitter to give preferred journalists a heads up on announcements before they are made in parliament. I have a feeling we’ll be getting many more The Thick Of It moments as a result.

Can you tell a story in 6 words? Hemingway allegedly penned: For sale. Baby shoes. Never worn. But what about a story in 6 seconds of stop/start footage via Twitter’s Vine? Here are the award winning 6 second vines from the Tribeca film festival.

Anticipatory computing: Imagine you’re talking to a friend about planning your weekend, talking about potential restaurants, destinations and activities. You’re using an iPad app called MindMeld that listens to what the two of you have to say, conducts Internet searches on some of the keywords you use, and displays them in real time. As someone who has been in a long distance relationship and dependent on technology like Skype and FaceTime, I cannot imagine anything worse. But make up your own mind with this video

Videos of the week: every day, more photos are taken with the iPhone than any other camera – a fact that Apple have gone and used as the idea for their new ad (and going by Flickr data, it’s actually true!).

Apple fan boys (why hello there!) and Samsung owners fight all the time on who has made the better tech choice. Have a look at this for a clever bit of advertising.

Budweiser’s ‘Buddy Cups‘ makes toasting friends instant friends on Facebook.

Ecotricity comes up with an excellent clip to promote alternative power sources.

And finally: Ed Balls breaks the Internet.

#Twitter4brands, breaking news and this week’s bits & bytes

#Twitter4Brands: Twitter’s annual update on what’s what with brands and advertising took place yesterday. Some thoughts about it below, although it is by no means an exhaustive summary. Here’s another view from Matt Chapman on Brand Republic.

The fact that Twitter is the second screen shouldn’t surprise anyone, but it should influence how brands use Twitter to talk to their followers. 80% of Twitter activity in the UK is from mobile phones and people are tweeting about what’s happening in the real world.

I’ve talked before about this trend, so I won’t go into much more except to say that the Twitter TV book has been updated with new data.

The big news was about keyword targeting in timelines. And this one is going to be HUGE. Imagine you’re in a foreign country, your flight has been cancelled, you’re stuck and you need a place to crash. You don’t know anyone. You take to Twitter and voice your anger and frustration. You might tweet something along the lines of ‘Flight cancelled. Stuck with nowhere to go and no place to sleep. I need a hotel’. Perhaps throw in a bit of colourful language to round it off. What if there’s a hotel just down the road from you that has bought a keyword targeted tweet (say to the words ‘need’ and ‘hotel’ and that their message will pop up in anybody’s Twitter stream, provided they are within 5km of their hotel and they’ve used those two words in a public message).

Serendipity as Head of Twitter UK @TonyW called it.

Tone of voice was the big topic for the second half of the conference. The key point being that people expect brands to speak in normal language on Twitter, not in some sort of stilted, formal tone. There were many excellent examples, culminating in O2 winning the first ever Flock award for the most outstanding use of Twitter – interestingly, not for how O2 used the various promotional mechanics that Twitter showcased in the first half of the day, but for how they enter into real conversations with their followers. The most famous example of which was how they dealt with enraged customers during a network outage last year. Other excellent examples came from @The_Dolphin_Pub and @Mangal2.

Still not convinced? It’s not just Twitter who are saying that brands should be human on social media.

Finally, Gary Lineker showed up and talked about England going out to Germany at Italia90 on penalties (which I enjoyed very much) as well as the infamous Poogate (which I may actually have enjoyed more)…

… but he was mainly there to talk about how he uses Twitter to promote brand Lineker, Match of the Day as well as how he deals with trolls (Piers Morgan and Joey Barton received a special mention here).

I’ll leave it to @TonyW’s to sum up #Twitter4Brands – in just 5 tweets.

Screen Shot 2013-04-18 at 19.54.55

Breaking news: There was a lot of it this week. From the Lion Air flight that skidded off the runway in Bali into the sea, to the Boston Marathon bombing, to the exploding fertiliser factory in Texas. The Boston bombing in particular horrified many. Much has been said about how news travels on social media – and that is how I found out about all of the above: from Facebook and Twitter. Interestingly though, in all three occasions my immediate reaction was to turn on the TV. An almost knee-jerk reaction to confirm these things had actually happened. The fact that the 24 hour news channels in each instance were already on the story was weirdly reassuring, yet the longer I watched them, the more facts were replaced by wild speculation and leading questions about all of our safety. It’s nothing new really, just in a week with some much bad stuff happening, I felt very increasingly angry at the media’s fear mongering.

Interesting then to read that news actually bad for you. Rolf Dobelli argues that news causes disruption, anxiety, shallow thinking – basically that it’s a waste of time. And as I’d like to join his movement of not consuming news, that would make my job pretty darn difficult to do. Dobelli doesn’t think that all journalism is useless: he does concede a special place for investigative journalism, reporting that goes deep and uncovers truth.

Now given my chosen profession, it’ll be difficult for me to just abstain from the news, but it should act as a reminder to turn off the incessant news stream every once in a while before we all lose our minds.

Or – you could immerse yourself entirely and join Guardian Witness. Similar to CNN’s iReport, The Guardian is inviting its readers to register, pick their assignment and provide images, video and copy to cover news events. As I write this, The Guardian is calling for stories about Syrian refugees, photos of sleeping pets and how budget cuts have affected you. A simple – and free – way for the paper to augment its eyes and ears and tap into a willing network of eager freelancers.

The news lifecycle: An interesting look at how mobile has not only influenced how people consume the news, but when they consume it. FT data shows quite clearly how people get up in the morning and read the FT on their phone or tablet first thing and on their commute in to work. As soon as they get to the office, desktop readers of the FT website spike and then slowly drop off during the day. Finally, mobile devices spike for a second time as people start their commute home again. On the weekends, desktop use is low, with spikes coming early in the day from mobile devices.

Why do you see the things you see in your Facebook newsfeed? It’s not as easy as just following somebody or a brand. It depends on four factors: previous engagement, the type of content your interacting with, how popular it is within your network and increasingly, how much negative feedback its received. Here’s a clever little infographic that explains what Facebook’s Edgerank algorithm is and how it works.

Facebook Home: It launched, they made an ad, then another one with Zuck in it (bad idea), and now most people are giving it a 1 out of 5 star rating. Ouch.

Geekgasm: HMV have come out of administration and are under new ownership. To celebrate, they’ve hidden Nipper in the source code of their revamped website. Kudos to HMV for this extremely nerdy Easter egg, although I cannot for the life of me understand why you’d check out the source code of a website (HT @TomParker81)?

Videos of the week: Check out this brilliant ad from K-Mart to advertise their new direct shipping service. Ship the bed!

The dove real beauty campaign continues with real sketches

and with an even better parody.

There is much Lego awesomeness in the world and this folding Buddhist temple blew my mind (HT @gin_lane).

Bringing Instagram and CSR together: FoodShareFilter is an Instagram-esque photo filter with a purpose. Download it, and the proceeds go to an agricultural program in El Salvador run by Manos Unidas, a major charity. What better way for Hipsters to Instagram the food they eat and make it worth their while?

Viral cake: If you’ve not seen the best viral cake resignation letter ever, you’ve clearly been living under some sort of rock.

And finally: Every Facebook birthday wall, ever.

#NowThatchersDead, monetising spam and this week’s bits and bytes

Twitter and the death of Baroness Thatcher: Wall to wall coverage, equal parts mourning and vitriol, and many, many tweets. The hashtag #nowthatchersdead started trending shortly after the news was announced – some people misread that as ‘now that Cher is dead’. An Oddbins manager tweeted that Taittinger was on offer for £10, down from the usual £29 – the message was quickly condemned as ‘shameless’ and ‘sick’ and the manager suspended. The Met Seargeant who tweeted that he hoped Thatcher’s death was ‘painful and degrading’ resigned a few days later. And then there’s Ding Dong, the With is Dead. There’s more and the Beeb has a great post on how the news was reported online.

Was it really such a surprise though? Nope.

Is the vitriol a neat summary of everything that’s wrong with Twitter? Absolutely not.

People have their opinions – with or without Twitter. The fact that any comments you make on the Internet without first activating your brain can (and will) come back to bite you is something that should be a part of media literacy courses in school. Perhaps that would have saved Paris Brown’s job as Yout Crime Commissioner?

Is the scoop dead? That is the question @Marcousleroux and @Steve_Hawkes discussed after a comment from Kevin Ryan, co-founder of Business Insider:

Marcous argues that market forces are driving people away from news gathering, while Steve believes Twitter and scoops, more than ever, are a must. Here’s the full thread (HT to @antsilverman).

Retail geekery: A bakery in Tokyo has implemented a new scanning system that scans food by recognising the shape and colour of each item, no need for a barcode or human assistance, while New Balance launches Its Own 3D-Printed Shoes. Still on 3D-Printing, our very own Rob Fraser recently spoke about 3D printing saying that we have to prepare for the fact that consumers may soon not want to buy pre-packaged iPhone cases, but build and design their own. This lovely little animated clip from GrafixTV shows how 3D printing is changing retail:

http://youtu.be/NiOKDOnJ3VE 

Facebook looking to monetise spam: Would you pay $15 to direct message Justin Bieber on Facebook? I wouldn’t, but that’s what Facebook are looking to do in the UK. The prices are staggered at $1, $10 and $15 (depending on how popular the person that you’re looking to message is) and Facebook say that it is an attempt to cut down on spam. Looks like a brilliant way to monetise millions of terabytes worth of Belieber spam. I wonder how long until artist management bods demand their cut.

Facebook Home: Facebook are serious about their new immersive mobile experience. They moved quickly to address the privacy concerns about having your entire private life display on your home screen on their newsroom blog (if you don’t want Home to appear as your lock screen, you have the option to turn that off) and they’ve launched their first ever TV ad. But is it going to be enough to get kids excited about Facebook again?

Social media investor relations: a great post from Edelman on what the SEC rule on disclosure in social media means for IR.

Crowdsourcing products: Nissan is using its social channels to allow fans to help customise and name a one-off version of the Juke Nismo. At Saino’s, we’ve crowdsourced feedback on our 20×20 sustainability plan with Green Mondays and our 20×20 event last year. We’ve also asked our fans what cookie flavour they’d like to see in store and put the results to a vote.

Source: Sainsbury’s Facebook page

Econsultancy looks at what other brands are crowdsourcing.

InstaAds are here: The Internet was up in arms when Facebook bought Instagram for $1bn because it though all photos would now be used in and as ads against their will. It’s been six months and the InstaAds haven’t materialised. Obviously, things aren’t moving fast enough for brands because they are advertising on Instagram – and neither Instagram nor Facebook are seeing a single dollar for it. Unilever and Pepsi have teamed up with celebs such as Beyonce and Nicole Richie (OK, ‘celebs’ might be stretching it a bit) for sponsored posts.

Video of the week: Dove hair care for men

and Samsung test their new washing machine in the extreme of conditions – with unexpected results.

And finallyVinetune.com

Facebook Home, pizza box art and this week’s bits and bytes

It’s that time of the month where I compile some of our favourite tweets of the month. This edition contains a hilarious dose of Comic Relief goodness from our colleagues around the country, featuring everything from a gorilla in a mankini to a life-size T-Rex chomping its way through the South of England.

Facebook Home: Facebook is doing exactly what they said they wouldn’t do, launch a phone. Well kind of. Only not. It’s called Facebook Home and changes your phone into one giant Facebook app (I’m most freaked out by your phone’s lock screen becomes a direct link to your Facebook profile, messages and notifications. Privacy?). Facebook Home will come pre-installed on the ‘HTC First’ or you can convert your existing Android handset into a “Facebook Phone” by downloading the new software on 12 April. Unsurprisingly, the people at Twitter weren’t impressed.

Source: Mashable

Classy Brits: Class was the big story this week (isn’t it always?) with the BBC publishing the The Great British Class Calculator. No longer are there just three classes (upper, middle and lower), we now have seven; ranging from ‘elite’ to ‘precariat’. My favourite though has to be ’emergent service workers’, possibly the best euphemism for ‘hipster’ I have ever heard.

Now that’s one pissed off journalist: There is something poetic about beautifully phrased foul language. The Indie’s Tom Peck has provided a cracker.

Social media investor relations: The US Securities and Exchange Commission (SEC) this week unveiled new rules that allow companies to to make key announcements via Facebook and Twitter – only if shareholders have been alerted beforehand about which social-media outlet they should turn to (as to how shareholders are alerted, the SEC doesn’t say – suppose I wouldn’t be surprised to see @CompanyNameIR accounts popping up soon).

Blogs more influential than Twitter: An interesting post from The Wall Blog (who I suppose would agree) that blogs drive sales more than other forms of social media. Confirmation comes in the Technocrati 2013 digital influence report, that sees blogs come out ahead of Facebook, Youtube, Google+ and Twitter.

Facebook get’s in line: Great news if you provide customer service through Facebook. The big blue social network is launching in line replies on posts, allowing community managers to respond directly to questions. This will of course also make any type of topical interaction such as live Q&A much easier to manage on Facebook, so customer service and social media managers around the world should welcome this with open arms.

Sketchy customer service: Fast food deliveries that come in a cardboard box provide a great canvas and opportunity for fulfilling the demands of your customers. A splendid gallery of pizza box art at the behest of customers from around the world in this gallery.

Source: takeaway.com

Twitter for business: Twitter launched a page chock full of case studies from companies on how they use the micro-blogging service to meet their business objectives – hoping (I suppose) that you’ll end up using their services and tools and spend more money.

Faking it on Twitter: Faking a tweet isn’t the most difficult thing to do. Take a screenshot of an existing tweet from an account you’d like to spoof, modify it in your image editing software of choice, post it to t’interwebs as ‘check out what so-and-so said’ as a screenshot, adding that they’ve since removed the tweet (t’interwebs loves a cover-up!). However, this requires a basic level of image manipulation skills and a bit of effort – until now, with a new web-based software that allows you to fake tweets in a few clicks. Brian Solis looks at why this is a dangerous situation, one that I imagine Twitter can’t be too happy with!

Video of the week: Arthur C. Clarke completely predicts the Internet. In 1974.

Some of my favourite April Fool’s stories from this past week: with its Guardian Goggles video, the Guardian showed that they not only know exactly who their readers are, but that they also have enough of a sense of humour to poke fun at themselves.Meanwhile, Google went slightly OTT with their pranks – here are just three of them: Youtube announced that after eight years, they were shutting down the site to give the 30,000 strong jury until 2023 to announce the best video ever. Google Maps got a treasure hunt upgrade to find Captain Kidd’s treasure. Finally – a way to plug in your olfactory senses into Google search and find that smell you were always looking for. Or, to put it simply: Smell-o-vision! I’d argue though, that The Metro did the best with their made up April Fool round-up. Very meta.

Workplace etiquette in poster form: a beautifully designed set of posters for today’s office population. My favourite: “Respect headphones as a sign of intentional isolation”.

Mad Men Season 6: The penultimate season starts with a double episode in the US on Sunday, coming to Sky Atlantic in the UK on April 10th. To get in the mood I am rewatching season 5 and enjoying this post on Business Insider about how SCDP’s ads compared with the actual ads that ran in the 1960s. And yes. I am hyperventilating.

And finally: three new memes popping up over the last few weeks that are looking to take on the mantle of ‘the new planking’. First, we have Pottering. The trend looks to have kicked off in Oz and there’s a Pottering Facebook page with some quality efforts. I have to admit though, I’m quite fond of Vadering – something that has already made it into The Sun and The Metro. My favourite though has got to be Hadouken. Anyone with a mispent youth playing ‘Street Fighter’ will know the move and the precise flick of the wrist required to generate that devastating fireball will recognise these poses.

Source: The Tech Journal

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