Bits and Bytes

Thoughts on digital, running rambles and photos



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.

How things go viral, Bieber fury, your new Facebook and this week’s bits and bytes

Horse meat on social: The guys over at Digimind have pulled together a great little infographic of how the horse meat story has developed on social since it broke in mid January. As a Sainsbury’s colleague, I am of course proud to see that our name has rarely been connected to the issue.

Gorkana really doesn’t like AVEs: they’ve published 16 reasons why AVEs don’t measure PR. Solid stuff.

How does stuff go viral? A marvellous feature by Al Jazeera’s The Stream about how videos like Gangnam Style and Harlem Shake go viral. It’s a half hour clip, so sort out a cuppa and get comfy before you get started (as an aside: just check out how the 30 minutes brings together broadcast, Google+ and Google Hangout, Twitter, Skype… very cool).

Misogynistic algorithm screws Amazon: Last weekend, Amazon got itself in a spot of bother when it was found to be selling thoseoh-so-hip ‘Keep Calm and…’ t-shirts. Not only are they entirely naff, these particular ones were emblazoned with charming sentiments such as ‘Keep Calm and Knife Her’ or ‘Keep Calm and Rape a lot’. The shirts were being sold through Amazon by a third party company called Solid Gold Bomb and were quickly removed after the online retailer received a barrage of tweets and complaints. Solid Gold Bomb quickly apologised. How could this happen? Well, turns computer algorithms rather than people that generate different versions of the ‘Keep calm…” slogan automatically and prints them onto shirts when somebody clicks on buy on Amazon. I suspect they will be coding a misogyny filter very soon…

Belieber fury: so, like, OMG, Justin totally showed up late to his gig because he thought he’d, like, be all rock and roll and stuff. While I’m working on how I can get a refund on my TV license fee after the BBC spent two days reporting on the total non-story of Bieber pissing off little girls (and their parents), have a look at this brilliant piece of opportunistic advertising by GetTaxi who sent a cab to Bieber’s hotel to make sure he’d at least be on time for his remaining three O2 gigs (HT ‏@GoodandBadPR).

Also, the best ever photo of a dad at a Justin Bieber concert (HT @Pandamoanimum)

Murdoch blogging: well, technically, his chief of staff Natalie Ravitz, who posts updates of the media mogul’s activities. From shooting clay pigeons, to checking out CES, to shearing a sheep – running an empire is hard work.

How Search Works: Google has launched a new interactive website giving you a look at what goes on behind the scenes everytime you Google something: how it crawls the web and indexes over 30 TRILLION pages, its alogrithms and ranking strategy, and how it fights and removes spam.

New Facebook Newsfeed: Facebook have announced a new design for their newsfeed. It will be met with millions of people complaining about how crap the new design is and how much they want the old layout back. Petitions will be created. #iwantmyfacebookback will start trending. Fast forward 12 months and it will all happen all over again. But what’s new?

  • the new design will look exactly the same no matter which device they use to access their feed
  • videos and images will now be offered more space and prominence
  • the new newsfeed will allow many more options to filter content; including, just stuff from friends, close friends, or according to different media types (photos, music), and also – finally – ALL posts, regardless of their Edgerank (for those that like to believe they are in control of their feed).

Why do this? Friendly Facebook people tell you why in this video.

Videos of the week: the best celebrity interview the world has ever seen features the wonderful Mila Kunis and a star struck and underprepared yet entirely charming interviewer from BBC1;

The Onion questions if you’re dynamic enough to work in a marketing firm; and then there’s Jamie Oliver’s Food Tube interactive video where not only can you smack Jimbo, you can even make him shove a chilli down his pants (HT @susieod).

And finally: Go to Enter your Twitter handle, the URL of your favourite website, or just do a web search. I searched for Sainsbury’s. I’ve not stopped giggling (HT @TomParker81).

Create a free website or blog at

Up ↑

%d bloggers like this: