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paddy power

Vine – a missed opportunity for the Premier League?

Missed opportunity for the Premier League?

After a fabulous footballing summer for German Arsenal fans, the Premier League finally started up this weekend. The Gooners squeaked past Crystal Palace on a sunny Saturday. Marvellous.

And after a World Cup where Twitter really came into its own, dedicating entire sections of its service to updating users about live games, reporting on the Tweets per minute from key incidents and the usual banter, you’d think that the FA might pick up on the popularity of sharing instant reactions to games – especially when instant reactions often also mean the instant replay of that cracking goal, or that ridiculous decision, or Santi getting sprayed in the face by the ref who can’t quite get the vanishing spray to work. Continue reading “Vine – a missed opportunity for the Premier League?”

Eurovision unites Europe; McDonald’s Quality Scouts and this week’s bits and bytes

Eurovision unites Europe: Twitter reacts

I watched the Eurovision last night. Accidentally. I’d never planned on doing it. I was at a friend’s place, celebrating his birthday with some fellow Germans (yes, there was much potato salad, see point 24 for why that is) and some Aussies and suddenly the telly was tuned to BBC1.

It is the epitome of car-crash-television and we all had great fun in poking fun at the songs, get-ups and, of course, buxom ladies from Poland seductively churning butter and doing the laundry.

Continue reading “Eurovision unites Europe; McDonald’s Quality Scouts and this week’s bits and bytes”

Rock solid win for UsVSTh3m, ‘Spineless’ Yahoo! and this week’s bits and bytes

Fast flooding cement: The Victoria Line was suspended this week because, somehow, a control room was flooded with cement. Twitter reacted how it always reacts, with a barrage of quick drying puns, visual gags and other silliness. And as we know, Twitter frickin LOVES a good pun.

@tomparker81 pointed out this beautiful flowchart from @TimeOutLondon on how the engineers were most likely dealing with the situation…

… while @a_little_wine sent me this brilliant response from @JobSiteUK, who not only had the time to think up a pun, but also put up a promoted Tweet for engineering jobs on their platform.

What struck me most about the story though was that it (technically) wasn’t the traditional media that broke the news, but up-and-coming, do-it-for-the-LOLz site @UsVSTh3m (an experiment funded by Trinity Mirror).

UsVSTh3m got their hands on a number of images of the cement-covered control room and (by using their  ‘old school media’ connections?) those photos were then not only used, but also credited on The Telegraph, The Evening Standard, The Metro, HuffPo, Mail Online and The BBC to name a few.

A big win for the experiment, and if you haven’t read @MartinBelam‘s take on the who, why and what behind UsVSTh3m, I recommend you do so immediately as it provides a clever and informative take on how traditional media can adapt to t’Interwebs and why it’s so important that the UsVSTh3m team can “write for the web, use Photoshop like a boss, and code”.

Big win?

Still, you’ll be glad to know that the Victoria Line is working again. The fix? Sugar, bizarrely. And while I’d like to think it was Fairtrade sugar from Sainsbury’s that sorted out the signalling room, I cannot confirm that.

Grow a spine, Yahoo!: Gmail was down for about 20 minutes on Friday, enough time for brands and organisations to jump in with some real-time marketing.

From the cheeky

to the worthy

to the own goal (is this the only time you’d watch an episode of NCIS?)

But then there was Yahoo!, who (I thought) simply tweeted the fact that Gmail was ‘temporarily unavailable’, quoting the Error 500 page. No further judgement or commentary – just a screenshot (although I imagine, behind the scenes, the Yahoo! Mail team was high-fiving and wooping).

The Tweet was quickly deleted and replaced by a confusing, two-tweet apology. It referred to @Yahoo being used by the editorial team to inform about news and events and that the Tweet “reflected bad judgment” (I guess you think twice about dissing your CEO’s ex-employer).

But if you see yourself as a news organisation, should you then not report on the news? There wasn’t any Nelson-esque “HaHa” (albeit implicit), they were simply stating fact. I wonder if they’d have gotten away with the @YahooNews account tweeting it.

As ValleyWag puts it: “Grow a spine, Yahoo!” – a sentiment that many people share, going by the responses to the apology.

Those cheeky chaps at Paddy Power are at it again: After Man Utd lost to Chelsea, the Paddy Power deposited a life-sized wax figure of Sir Alex Ferguson inside a glass box outside Old Trafford. The instructions are simple: “In case of emergency, break glass“. I have a feeling that after the hilariously pathetic penalty shoot-out against equally inept Sunderland this week, the glass might have been shattered. Perhaps by the same distressed fan who was so dismayed by the nightmare at the Theatre of Dreams, he dialled 999, demanding to speak to Ferguson.

Bits and bytes

Videos of the week: “You have elbows and you have knees. So touch them. VERY NICE.” Arnold Schwarzenegger visits Gold’s Gym in a dodgy disguise to support after-school sports. I doubt anybody was fooled as to whom they were talking to, but Ahnuld is just one charming dude.

What if Google was just some dude behind a desk (HT @TillieSeymour).

And two wonderfully cheese public service videos from The White House this week. Making the ‘Big Block of Cheese Day’ a virtual reality. And who better to do the promo than The West Wing’s Josh Lyman and Will Bailey!

And then there’s FLOTUS dunking on Lebron James. Oh yeah.

And finally: Physics paper Rick-Roll.

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.

Breaking news vs social media, sexy data and this week’s bits and bytes

Traditional vs. social news: There’s been a lot of discussion about how traditional media and new media failed in their coverage of the Boston Marathon bombing. I agree to a degree. CNN – and other news organisations – had a shocker and spent hours spinning a story about the bombers being identified before their identities were released by the authorities – a point that Jon Stewart (who isn’t the biggest fan of the network anyway) proceeded to make fun of on ‘The Daily Show’.

There’s also been much talk about how social media – mainly Twitter and, of all sites, Reddit – got the news wrong, as if they have some sort of obligation to get it right. That’s like accusing the patrons of your local pub of reporting the story in an inaccurate way. Social media, much like banter down the pub, isn’t subject to journalistic principles. It is bizarre to me that at times such as this people point the finger at social media and blame it for purposefully spreading misinformation. As much as technology like Twitter helps breaking news, facts, rumours and misinformation spread like wildfire, it isn’t the cause of that misinformation. The power to spread misinformation – or topple governments like during the Arab Spring – is with people, not technology.

Twitter doubles account security: While we’re on the topic of misinformation spreading on social media, this week saw yet another high profile Twitter account getting hacked. The Associated Press appeared to tweet that explosions had hit the White House and President Barack Obama had been injured. The account was immediately suspended and the tweets removed, but not before the Dow dropped about 200 points. No wonder then, that people are relieved that Twitter is finally ready to roll out two-factor authentication, a second layer of security that requires a code to either be sent to an authorised mobile device or generated via some sort of app or key-fob.

Crisis management: An interesting take on crisis management – as seen from the perspective of @jameslyne, one of the top IT security bods at Sophos. Great to see that after IT colleagues, the next team he has on the list is PR.

Interactive infographics: The aptly named ThingLink allows you to post images with extra layers of information in them such as videos and links to other supporting stories to Facebook, Twitter and many other platforms (except for WordPress it seems… grrr). Youtube videos and audio clips play in the image, text links provide a short preview and open in a new window – making for a decent user experience (at least on a desktop!). Doctors Without Borders have tried the new technology to provide an interactive guide on how they respond to crisis around the world; Cnet use it to provide a review of the new Galaxy S4; and you can check out many more ways brands and people are using ThingLink on their site. So what? you cry? Well, ThinkLink generates ‘more than five times as much engagement’ on Twitter (HT @BrionyIvy).

Data porn: Wolfram Alpha’s Facebook plugin has been live for a while and this week, the computational search engine published a fascinating dissection of Facebook data. The data provides insight into how Facebook users’ circle of friends change over time (especially in age), how their interests change as they grow older, and when their relationship status shifts from single to in a relationship to engaged to married. Now, before you go off and say, pffff, that’s just Facebook. Nobody tells the truth on Facebook – Wolfram concludes that (at least for the US) the data corresponds closely to official census data.

Source: Wolfram Alpha

Environmentally friendly suicide: “Right. Guys. We’ve got this new car. 100% water emissions. Environmentally friendly. How do we get that message across in our next ad?” Here’s how Hyundai answered this challenge (I tried to embed the video, but copies are being taken down like crazy by Hyundai). The mind boggles. Twitter wasn’t impressed. Holly Brockwell, who publishes the Copybot blog, posted a withering response to the ad, talking about how her father had committed suicide as depicted by the ad. It was quickly pulled from Hyundai’s Youtube channel but of course by then, many copies had already been made and the news spread (HT @a_little_wine).

Before you die, make sure you sort your direct debit: Your father in law passes away and you receive a bill from your cable provider telling you that as the direct debit didn’t go through – after all, the payer was deceased – you’re faced with a late payment fee of £10. What do you do? Post it to Facebook and watch it be shared over 90,000 times! All ends well though, Virgin Media apologised, the late payment charge was removed and the customer wrote a poem to celebrate (HT @KristianWard29).

Feed the troll until it bursts: The general consensus on social is to not feed the trolls. They’re bored, looking for a fight, to get a rise out of you, to see if they can get you to breaking point. Well, whoever manages the @Cineworld Twitter feed is the exception that proves the rule. Seriously, worth reading the entire exchange – if you have a bit of spare time! @Lakey from econsultancy takes a closer look at the exchange and why not more companies handle customers this way.

Location based recommendation: Foursquare continues its shift from check-in to a search an discovery space. Turns out that over 50 million people have visited its homepage in the last two months.

Videos of the week: the dancing babies are back

New LG screens are just too darned realistic

And some buttery goodness from Lurpak.

And finally: After Bayern and Dortmund demolished their hapless opposition in the Champions League semifinals, Paddy Power posted this wonderful photo to their Facebook page. And yes. That is The Hoff.

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