Welcome to a slightly tweaked version to my bits and bytes. I realised that my weekly rant – while therapeutic for me – isn’t particularly good for finding things. Ideally, the little segments in here should be posts in and of themselves. But that would mean taking up blogging full time and, well, I love my day job a bit too much to do that. So, from now on, expect a summary at the top of each post and links to the sections in the post below to make it easier to browse.
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.
FLOWCHART: So You've Just Flooded A Control Room With Quick Set Concrete pic.twitter.com/JQSfWSfsbt
— Time Out London (@TimeOutLondon) January 23, 2014
— Jobsite UK (@JobsiteUK) January 23, 2014
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”.
Concrete data: Having that amazing exclusive on the Victoria Line pics has added exactly one Google+ follower for @UsVsTh3m
— Martin Belam (@MartinBelam) January 23, 2014
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
— Museum of Modern Art (@MuseumModernArt) January 24, 2014
— Museum of Modern Art (@MuseumModernArt) January 24, 2014
to the worthy
to the own goal (is this the only time you’d watch an episode of NCIS?)
— NCIS (@NCIS_CBS) January 24, 2014
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).
The @Yahoo Twitter handle is used by our editorial team to inform about news and events.
— Yahoo (@Yahoo) January 24, 2014
— Yahoo (@Yahoo) January 24, 2014
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.
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
- Businessweek looks at why retailers are increasingly crowdsource their product shots – curating photos photos from social platforms and blogs. Not only is there top quality imagery out there, this imagery is far more authentic than the highly styled marketing imagery produced by brands. Case in point, this mouthwatering list of sandwich ideas on Sainsbury’s Live Well For Less site, sourced from food bloggers
- Want your post to go viral? Forget about producing helpful, amusing or informative content. Social proof/blackmail is the trigger you should be going for (note: irony)
- A great case study of how US DIY retailer Lowe’s goes about creating meaningful social media content on Vine, Pinterest and Facebook
- Check out the BBC’s Instafax, a new short-form video news service on Instagram. Each post consists of three short clips with a caption, quickly summarising a story. An interesting attempt to reach readers on social media platforms as Creative Review finds
- Updating your social media policy? I doubt you’ll be able to do better than Waterloo Council in Canada with this fantastic poster (available for download on their Preventing Crime site)
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.
KitKat Android: The clever bods over at Google have launched an update to their Android mobile operating system. And as with previous versions (Cupcake, Donut, Eclair, Froyo, Ice Cream Sandwich and Jelly Bean), the new OS is named after a desert: KitKat 4.4.
The entire campaign is a no holds barred parody of Apple – not in itself a new idea, Samsung have done it in the past and Nokia have even parodied the spat between Samsung and Apple – but with this one you can really see that they’ve committed completely to not only shooting their ad in the same style…
… but the copy and product descriptions on the über-slick site built to showcase the future of confectionery is a pitch-perfect piss-take of Apple’s tone of voice and dictionary.
My favourite features of the new KitKat:
- Works perfectly in portrait or landscape for a panoramic taste experience
- Maximum breakability is guaranteed due to the refined praline software, crisp waferware and its unique chocolate unibody
- It comes in 2 mega-bites, 4 mega-bites or a chunky-bite option
and, my favourite
- Compatible with all liquid accessories
How much does this kind of a perfect partnership cost?
“This is not a money-changing-hands kind of deal,” John Lagerling, director of Android global partnerships, told the BBC. “The idea was to do something fun and unexpected.”
You’ll be able to buy special packs of KitKat Four-Finger and KitKat Chunky multipacks at Sainsbury’s.
Man buys promoted Tweet to troll British Airways: I’ve been flying regularly all my life and I’m lucky to say that I’ve never had my luggage go missing (writing this, I realise that my next trip is bound to be a disaster). I have however had many a ‘mare with Airline customer service. I’ve tweeted to complain but that tends to result in silence, stock responses or requests to call customer service numbers.
This week, British Airways passenger @HVSVN bought a promoted tweet after the airline had lost his baggage and hadn’t responded to his tweets for seven hours. After some rather snarky, nasty messages – borderline tolling, basically – the first ever promoted customer complaint made its way into the Twitter history books. Also, BA finally responded…
@HVSVN Sorry for the delay in responding, our twitter feed is open 0900-1700 GMT. Please DM your baggage ref and we'll look into this.
— British Airways (@British_Airways) September 3, 2013
It doesn’t get better.
@HVSVN We can't DM you as you aren't following us. If you'd like assistance we will need your baggage reference.
— British Airways (@British_Airways) September 3, 2013
@HVSVN bought the tweet in the New York City and UK markets Monday night using Twitter’s self-serve ad platform. While he at first didn’t confirm the cost in media interviews, he has since tweeted the final cost and reach of the promoted tweet: 76,000 impressions for $1,000. Time has a bit more info on how @HVSVN went about targeting the tweets to make sure that it reached all the existing followers of British Airways.
Was it worth it?
I got what I wanted. I win.
— º¿º (@HVSVN) September 4, 2013
That’s sooo 2006: The Guardian published their Media 100 list this week, a ranking of the most powerful people in the UK’s media landscape today.
Who came in at No.1?
Well, technically, so did you. All of us really.
An unbelievably unoriginal idea – after all, I’d already made it onto the cover of Time magazine as Person of the Year way back in 2006.
Communicating CR: With people demanding greater transparency, authenticity and accountability from companies than ever before, @SimonMainwaring writes that brands are increasingly taking three steps to respond:
- Sharing their purpose, core values and mission
- Moving sustainability marketing to corporate communications to tell the story of the good work companies are doing in ways that build their business
- Working with customers to fulfill the brand’s mission because they understand that “the future of profit is purpose, authentically executed”
New Yahoo logo: Yahoo updated their logo this week, after 30 days of changing the logo on their homepage to a different version. The familiar purple colour and famous exclamation mark remain – the later has been rotated to the right by exactly 9 degrees, which according to Marissa Mayer adds a bit of “whimsy”.
I’m no typography expert so I don’t know if this is a good or a bad logo. But if you’re into that sort of thing, you should definitely give Mayer’s post about the relaunch a go where she ‘geeks’ about all the wee features and ideas behind the new logo. Quite frankly, I would never have picked up on any of them. I’m sure that a hell of a lot of work went into it and I think it looks good. But is it going to make Yahoo relevant to today’s web audience? For Flickr’s sake, I hope so…
Way To Safety: Mobile apps have become a part of life for many people. They help us organise our lives, check our email, find our way around town, figure out when the next tube is due, post updates to our friends, hurl birds at naughty piggies. Increasingly, augmented reality and layers of data are added to make apps even more powerful and helpful – possibly even to a such a degree that they could literally save your life.
Way To Safety is an app currently in development that would help civilians steer clear of gunfire in urban warfare environments:
“Within 30 seconds after a shot is fired, the application will determine the source location of the shooter, the direction he was aiming at, the type and caliber of the weapon used and the number of bullets fired. This data will be sent to the nearby residents for free and we will also send it to the army, paramedics, press.”
Terrifying and brilliant at the very same time (HT to Simon French for this one).
Fish finger sarnie challenge: Sainsbury’s new ad featuring by Sainsbury’s Fish Fingers kicked off a bit of a discussion on Twitter this week. Turns out that not everyone would stack the fish fingers like we did!
So, we decided to open it up to the weird and wonderful people of Twitter and asked them to show us how they make a fish finger sandwich. Our favourite photo, video or Vine stands to win a £25 Sainsbury’s voucher.
Video of the week: LG uses their ultra-realistic TVs to scare the wits out of poor job applicants. Brutal really – after all, they’re all leaving that room no closer to a job.
And finally: What Bale Earns
Print your own food: A chap called Anjan Contractor received a $125,000, 6-month NASA grant to build a prototype 3D printer that prints food. Meant for space travel, you don’t have to be a Star Trek fan to understand that it could also be used to provide food in the future when the population is higher and presumably natural food sources become scarce (HT @stangreenan and @a_little_wine).
Rather than pots, fresh ingredients, and a stove – the 3D printer creates food from basic powdered ingredients loaded in cartridges. Even better, because these cartridges contain simply the building blocks of various different kinds of food and have a massively increased shelf-life compared to fresh food, the amount of food waste would be greatly reduced.
It gets better. What’s the first dish Contractor is looking to print?
Yahumblr: Yahoo bought Tumblr this week for $1.1bn. Yahoo’s CEO Marissa Mayer set up her own Tumblr to announce the news – how else, but with an animated gif, the currency of the blogging platform (although, the Keep Calm meme? That’s sooo 2011). From the opening lines of her post, she is keen on making hard core Tumblrs know that Yahoo “promise not to screw it up.”
But why purchase a collection of blogs made up of cat images, animated gifs, porn (seriously, 1 in every 6 pages is NSFW) and sites dedicated to ‘Fuck yeah…’? They’re after a younger demographic and they’re hoping to sell access to it. Mayer did emphasise on an investor call that Yahoo would let Tumblr be Tumblr – but it’ll be interesting to see how Yahoo reconciles Tumblr’s naughty bits with the family friendly environment Yahoo has built up. The Harvard Business Review believes that it can work, but only if Yahoo listens closely to the Tumblr community.
Twitter security: Twitter has finally rolled out two-factor security. You link your Twitter account with your mobile phone and set it up so that you’re sent a verification message to your phone that you have to then input together with your password when you log in. That way you need the account password and your phone to log in – making it more difficult for accounts to get hacked.
The problem is that for corporate accounts that are managed by more than one person, this system won’t work because an account can only be linked to one phone number. Hopefully then, Twitter will add support for the Google Authenticator app.
Xbox One: Want to know what you’ll be getting your kids/yourself for Christmas this year? Microsoft’s new gaming console, the Xbox One.
Free McDonald’s for kidnap hero: A great bit of opportunistic PR from McDonald’s, which has decided to give the man who famously put down his Big Mac to help rescue three women held captive for years in a Cleveland house free McD’s for a year (HT @tomparker81).
A few hazelnuts short of a full spread: Imagine you’re the brand manager for Nutella. Over years, you’ve nurtured a relationship with a 40,000 strong fan community on Facebook. Every year, the page admin runs a Nutella appreciation day. A day where people share their Nutella inspired recipes and other odes to the Greatest Chocolate Spread The World Has Ever Seen (well, after Saino’s popping candy chocolate spread of course).
Then, unbeknownst to you, your legal department issues a cease and desist order to shut down the Nutella fan page. Obviously the fans went apoplectic, but through quick work, Nutella quickly reversed their position, wiping the chocolate from their face.
Sharenting: My social streams are full of people posting photos of their offspring. From the first ultrasound, to live tweeting the birth, Instagrammed photos of all early-life stages to jumpy six second home-video-vines of first steps and/or utterances. It bores the crap out of me. At least there’s ‘Unbaby Me‘, a handy browser extension that removes photos of babies in your Facebook and Twitter feeds and replaces them with whatever you’d rather see. I’ve gone for Imgur’s most viral RSS feed.
The Guardian looks at the pros (really?!) and cons of sharenting – the growing trend of young parents documenting their offspring’s development through social media.
20 social insights: A thought provoking deck by @paulbromford about the top 20 things he learnt about social media last year. I LOVED slide #12: “Wifi is like electricity – people need it to do their jobs properly“. Then there’s #10: Trust. And #7: Relationships. Check it out for yourself – and do make sure you also visit Paul’s blog to see his notes on each slide (HT @AllThingsIC).
Tech and food: Two things I love and am ridiculously fortunate to combine in my job at Saino’s. So I was intrigued by a post from @nealunger about how similar tech and food blogging is. After all, both audiences form part of my target audience every day. Neal writes:
Both fields depend on producing large amounts of content for an obsessive and mostly financially comfortable user base. There’s a reason for the glut of well-funded tech and food web sites these days; a shitload of people read them, and advertisers want to reach that audience. To put it bluntly—tech and food publications both reach monomaniacs with money to throw around.
Tweet your afterlife away: According to the Beeb, Saudi Arabia’s religious police are employing an interesting (futile?) tactic to stop its population from using increasingly popular social media platforms to voice their political and religious views. They’re warning that anyone doing so “has lost this world and his afterlife“. They’ve obviously not heard of the Arab spring…
Social teens: Research from Pew Research Centre about teens, social media and privacy has found that teenage social media users aren’t too concerned about business or advertisers accessing their data. Do also have a look at some of the focus group quotes, as they provide an interesting snapshot of just how savvy teens are when using social media and how different platforms are used for different purposes.
Insight: Excellent advice from XKCD on adopting every new tech
Grid: Excel is a really useful program for calculations, recurring formulas and financial information. We also use it for many other purposes like content plans, weekly reports and contact lists. I’d argue that most of the things we use Excel are better done in other ways, yet it remains the go-to platform for organising information. Not much longer I hope, as this video for a new collaborative planning tool called Grid shows.
Video of the week: Clever stuff from – again! – McDonald’s with their Chalkboard versions of their menus. Such a simple idea to bring that down-to-earth, homemade and wholesome feel to a global brand.