Bits and Bytes

Thoughts on digital, running rambles and photos



Dickpics – it’s where we draw the line between ‘OK’ and ‘Oh no you don’t!’

An important question. Unless you’re an exhibitionist, the answer you’re hoping for is ‘no’. And of course, if you’re a women then you can substitute dick with your choice of naughty bits.


Why am I talking about naughty bits? Continue reading “Dickpics – it’s where we draw the line between ‘OK’ and ‘Oh no you don’t!’”

Heartbleed explained; Why you should never leave a journo hungry; Twitter’s new profile pages and this week’s bits and bytes

Less than 24 hours to go until the London Marathon – no better way to get my mind off the 26.2 miles that lie in wait than write my weekly bits and bytes.

This week I’m looking at the biggest threat to the Internet since the Y2K bug, how banning a journalist from a media dinner is a recipe for disaster, how Costa Coffee did a great job with engaging bloggers (but then forgot to tie that good work back into their social profiles), and the new Twitter profiles that will be coming to a screen near you.

Continue reading “Heartbleed explained; Why you should never leave a journo hungry; Twitter’s new profile pages and this week’s bits and bytes”

Twitter biogs, TV ratings, storms; and this week’s bits and bytes

Quiz time: How many Sainsbury’s basics blurbs can you match up with the product they describe? As you’d expect, Lee, Sainsbury’s basics brand manager, scored a perfect 10/10. I scored a respectable 7/10. More of a by Sainsbury’s shopper, me (HT @G3Bowden).

Not enough?

How about testing your knowledge of Ikea and black metal bands in this brilliant (and genuinely hard) ‘Ikea or Death‘ quiz (HT @a_little_wine).

The future of journalism: Katharine Viner, deputy editor of the Guardian and editor-in-chief of Guardian Australia, gave the AN Smith lecture in Melbourne this week. Her speech about journalism in the age of the open web is an absolute must read. And no, there isn’t a TL;DR version of this one.

Remember Mr Cake? You know, the chap that resigned from his job at the Stansted Border Force via a ‘resignation cake‘ in order to pursue his passion for baking and cake decorating. Well, he did go on to launch his own business and now he’s up for a Smarta 100 award for Best us of Marketing. Go on. You know you want to vote for him.

The Twitter bio – a postmodern art form: The key to Twitter is all about compressing your thought, insight or story into 140 characters. It’s a skill that – much like everything else – you learn through practice. The more you tweet, the better you get. But what many people don’t spend as much time on is their 160 character Twitter biography – along with the profile photo and background, the bit that let’s people know what you’re all about.

The New York Times takes a look at the art of the Twitter bio, from @HillaryClinton “Wife, mom, lawyer, women & kids advocate, FLOAR, FLOTUS, US Senator, SecState, author, dog owner, hair icon, pantsuit aficionado, glass ceiling cracker, TBD…” to @TomHanks‘ “I’m that actor in some of the movies you liked and some you didn’t. Sometimes I’m in pretty good shape, other times I’m not. Hey, you gotta live, you know?” – the article looks at pitfalls and cliches to avoid.

While we’re on short form content, here’s a great slideshare by @GinnyRedish about writing for the small screen. It’s well and good to think about responsive design for websites – but what does that mean for content?

Twitter is not real life (well, TV): An interesting bit of data published by Twitter and Nielsen this week shows that the most popular shows in terms of TV ratings and the amount of Tweets they generated do not correlate at all. as the Wall Street Journal points out, it shows that Twitter’s user base “has a very different makeup than the mass-market TV-viewing audience that marketers spend tens of billions of dollars each year to reach. Twitter’s 49.2 million U.S. users generally skew younger and are disproportionately in cities, for example, according to marketers and media analysts.” The full report is out on Monday.

Social is the new coffee-break: Many brands and companies have moved chunks of their budget from traditional marketing channels to digital and social channels. Nothing new there. At the same time, many corporate networks block access to the same social network. The schizophrenic relationship between a select group of individuals who have access to social and are creating beautiful content and social campaigns and with those who don’t have access from their work computer has always struck me as particularly bizarre. Why put all that effort into building a social media following around your brand if you won’t allow your own people to look at it?

Andrew Keen pulls together 5 reasons not to ban social media in the office. And what do you know – they all make sense!

  • It’s self-defeating – everyone has a smart phone, so they’re doing it anyway
  • Banning something that excels at undermining traditional hierarchies? Yeah, right.
  • It’s today’s version of the water cooler
  • Multitasking actually makes us more creative
  • Social media makes us more productive because it opens up our minds

Bullet Journal: For the past two weeks I’ve been using a note taking system devised by @rydercarroll called ‘Bullet Journal‘. Described as an analogue note taking system for a digital world, I thought the video was really well done and the system works perfectly to capture all those wee actions and events that make up my disjointed and disruptive day where I get pulled from meeting to tweet to discussion to blog post – all in the same hour.

I’ve moved away entirely from Evernote and my iPad and now only use this ‘old school’ system and I love it. There’s something to be said about that great satisfaction of ticking things off a to do list, but also for the elegance of how the Bullet Journal system also allows you to build specific pages for projects or collections, track events on a day to day or monthly basis. And all you need is a notebook.

The Twitterstorm: Hats off to BuzzFeed UK for pulling together their post on the 29 stages of a Twitterstorm – based on the recent kerfuffle around online retailer Price Hound selling a rather ill advised kids fancy dress costume.

From initial discovery, anger, confusion, boycott, petition, satire, trending on Twitter, the media catching up, politicians getting involved, social media expert analysis to the official apology – all in the space of a few hours – the post takes us through (HT @G3Bowden).

Scarlett Johansson Falling Down: A year ago, Scarlett Johansson was photographed falling down while filming in Glasgow for the sci-fic flick Under the Skin. It’s taken the Internet a year, but the resulting photoshop meme is rather worth the wait. Knowyourmeme looks at how it happened (the meme, not the fall).

Videos of the week: How do you promote a remake of the classic horror flick Carrie? By creating a telekinetic coffee shop surprise and scaring the pants off of some unsuspecting customers – all while amassing over 30 million YouTube views in four days.

Downside – the mobile app that will get you talking to your friends again.

And finally: The Penis Beaker that brought Mumsnet to its knees.

The Harlem Shake and this week’s bits and bytes

Sainsbury's Giraffe Bread
Source: Sainsbury’s

What does Sainsbury’s have in common with Apple, Zappos, Trader Joe’s, the Ritz-Carlton and Lexus? According to Business Insider, they’ve all shown examples of big businesses actually getting it right. Some really wonderful stories, all showing that going above and beyond customer expectations will generate a lot of positive sentiment towards a business.

I’ve talked about the growing trend of second screening. 80% of Twitter users in the UK us the service via their mobile – or to put that differently, they tweet from the sofa and while they’re on the move. Twitter recognised this and even published a book on the link between TV and Twitter – how people talk about what is happening on telly while it’s happening. Not a big surprise then that Twitter acquired a social analytics start-up that measures just those two things what’s happening on TV, and what’s happening on Twitter.

The Harlem Shake is the newest Internet meme to take the world by storm. The 1-minute videos have already amassed over 44 million views on YouTube in two weeks. The meme is a combination of a track by Brooklyn-based DJ Baauer that was released in 2012 and the popular dance move from the ‘80s, both called ‘Harlem Shake’. It all seems to have started with a video by DizastaMusic where a group of people wearing bizarre outfits dance to the an extract of the track. Since then, the meme has mutated slightly, with videos now following the pattern of one person dancing while the rest are either going about their business or there’s no one else in shot. Then, once the lyrics kick in, everyone goes into a frenzied dance off. Completely mental but obviously brilliant fun for those taking part – and YouTube. There have been versions from Westpoint Cadet’s, the Norwegian ArmyWestern Uni students and the British Army. My favourite has to be this one from two DJs who incorporate their entire audience.

Cheeky Valentine’s Day advertising from Ikea in Australia: a free baby cot (some assembly required, I’m sure) for babies born on 14 November 2013. All you need to do is show them the coupon and a birth corticated.


A great stunt from Nivea in Germany for the launch of their new ‘Stress Protect Deodorant’. Titled ‘The Stress test’, the stunt plays out in real time as an unsuspecting passerby is photographed and their image used to create newspaper splashes and breaking news reports showing that same person as the main target in a nationwide manhunt . It’s an idea that’s been done before in different guises but I think this execution in a German airport, bringing together a host of extras is excellent. You can really see the panic in their eyes increase, especially when the PA system announces in minute detail what they are wearing. And they say Germans don’t have a sense of humour…

Econsultancy provides a good overview of some of the common pitfalls for brands and their social media initiatives. In summary, stay away from campaigns that are only geared to gaining followers, promoting a purchase, offer a lame prize, or only serve to make something simple more difficult.

And finally: Love reading the Guardian but can’t quite come up with an appropriate comment? Try the random Guardian comment generator.

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