Flippin’ virals

August_goviral1-600x437I have to admit this has long been coming.  I saved it when I saw it but then never actually posted it.

I have somewhat of a difficult time with virals as I alluded to here and here. But when someone posts something like this my blood does somewhat boil.

The problem is that viral is a consequence rather an action.  The best one can do is create something that has inherent value – whether through knowledge or entertainment – and if it’s good and worthy it will be shared.  It matters not if it is filmed on HD, SD or an old reel to reel tape.

And it is this basic point that annoys me about the question because it is trying to put the technology ahead of the content (again) and the viral element isn’t the technology.  The technology is merely a conduit, a facilitator to both capturing it and sharing it but it’s not what makes it a viral.

Rant over, onwards to Xmas parties!

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Is everything we know really wrong?

I came across this slide deck a few weeks back and thought it has some pretty interesting statistics about Advertising/Digital/Marketing.

It makes for some pretty interesting reading with good stats to be used and some quality quotes, none more so that a client who says

I love this work. It’s on brand and on brief. Let’s move straight to research.

Or the very true point that we often measure the wrong things (especially in digital) and therefore

Many confuse quantifiable social stats with channel effectiveness.

Anyway, have a read, digest and plagiarise!

Will Google+ bring down Facebook?

Unless you’ve been stuck in a cave over the last 48-72hrs you’ll know that Google has launched its Google+ project.  This is widely being seen as the real Facebook killer with its Circles and Huddles functionality.  If you’ve not seen or heard much about it, here is a short video explaining the project.

In ‘response’, Facebook has, only a few short hours ago, announced their joint partnership with Skype which has added video capabilities to its service.  Click here to see a video of it.

I’ve not actually tried either service but my first impressions are that Circles is a HUGE plus to the whole social interactions.  It is how people compartmentalise their friends and connections and now Google is offering that ability online.  I also think the Huddles functionality seems a lot better than Facebook’s.

Saying that though, I’m not actually sure that this will be the thing that sees the demise of Facebook.  With c. 600m there is bound to be some attrition but I think Facebook has more fundamental issues to take care of, namely:

  • Privacy – how secure is your data?  Why can’t you delete your account rather than de-activate it?
  • Boredom – people have been living with it for 4-5 yrs and the world has moved on, much like it did for MySpace
  • Displeasure – Facebook has done things slightly underhand, they’ve changed layouts, added new functionality which has changed the site from its original inception (selling rather than interacting)
The one thing it has going for it is that people are used to that ‘space’ for communicating, more so than they are for Google.  Also, more people have FB accounts than Gmail accounts, so they will need to create new profiles, learn new interfaces and ways of communicating.

I will be joining G+.  I would love to relinquish Facebook (with or without the advent of G+) but unfortunately the rest of my friends are Facebookers and use it to organise get togethers so, for my sins, I am still there.  But my activity is virtually zero.

I don’t think it will be the death of Facebook.  They will be impacted quite badly, but they will be around (and making lots of money) for years to come. However, they need to truly understand how people want to interact with others and their part in that process.

Put the effort in

There are many things I like about Social media, but this is not one of them

The top two discussion from one of my LinkedIn groups are all about ‘Let’s all swap Twitter accounts and FB company pages etc, etc’.

Maybe it’s just me but that’s just a scattergun approach.  You may get lucky with one but you’ll get a whole load of crap. It is trying to create followers and contacts for the sake of it.  It is purposeless.

Social media works because it connects people with common interests and who will mutually benefit from that connection.  It should be personal but this type of things makes it impersonal and spam.

The other issue I have is that it clogs up the discussion boards on LinkedIn which has driven me away from groups.  I want to take part in discussions but not if it take me having to trawl through 15 of these ‘discussions’ and people who merely share links without offering their perspective – again, it is spamming the discussion board.

If you want to create meaningful relationships online then put some effort in – explain why people should want to connect to you or take part in your discussion.

Otherwise you’re not part of the solution, you’re creating a problem.

Is iOS5 really a game changer for Twitter?

A lot is made of Apple‘s recent announcement that their latest mobile operating system – iOS5 – would incorporate a deep integration with Twitter. See example articles here and here.

In the battle between Facebook and Twitter as the poster child for the social world this is huge news, but will it really answer Twitter’s key issues.

I love Twitter, so I don’t want this to sound like I’m a twitter-hater, but I think we need to take a pragmatic look at what Twitter needs and what iOS brings.

Over the next couple of paragraphs I will iterate what I see as being the key things this deal will bring.  Feel free to disagree with me and pick holes in my arguments.

For full disclosure, thanks to a developer friend I have iOS5 with its Twitter integration.

  1. Brand awareness – I would hazard a guess that most people are aware of Twitter, what it is and what it does, so not sure that this deal will really accelerate or enhance that.  What it will do is increase…
  2. Registered users current numbers suggest that Twitter has around 200m users.  This deal will have a massive impact on the number of registrations because the sign-up process is so easy.  I would expect that the user base for Twitter will grow by around 50% over the 12 months after launch.  However, number of people registered to the service was never really the issue for Twitter.  Their issue is…
  3. Usage – the average Twitter still doesn’t use it very often, a massive percentage not even hitting double figures.  The Apple deal should increase that  purely because it is so easy to tweet – only 2 clicks away. This is a huge step forward because Twitter’s monetary value is directly linked to usage.
  4. Business model – Twitter (and most social networks to be fair) have struggled with this one.  Their original vision did not incorporate how to monetise their ‘invention’ should it take off. Widening the user base will help Twitter in that they will have more eyes (and wallets) to attract.  They will also have more information through which to make their intelligence and targeting better.  But, from my experiences so far there is a critical piece missing…
  5. User Experience From what I have seen and experienced the Twitter integration is only outward.  To get updates from those you follow you still need to access a Twitter client. This makes the experience very egotistical because (via the integration) the communication is only one way – and that’s not what social networking is all about.  Perhaps they could integrate Twitter into their new Messages service (whereby you could select some/all of the people you follow and get their updates on the Messages).

The lack of notification of new messages feels like the piece that is missing to make this the real game changer that Twitter and Apple want it to be. Ultimately time will tell.  I think this is a great development for Twitter but there are still some kinks to iron out.

What do you think the deal will bring to Twitter (and Apple)?

Is advertising becoming too democratic?

It was Warhol who said:

A Coke is a Coke and no amount of money can get you a better Coke than the one the bum on the corner is drinking.

When I say Democratic this is the definition I’m talking about.  Where it is accessible to everyone, irrespective of knowledge/background/education/colour/religion etc etc…

I read this article in Adage about how a small agency was gazumpted (love that word) by a corner coffee shop. It made for interesting, if scary reading.

But the truth is that it’s true.  And I think that this is a result of a few things:

  1. Low barriers to entry (technology) – The standard technology that is now used in advertising is available to all and sundry for a relatively small price (and coming down all the time) – this applies to creation as well as tracking.  Anyone with a laptop can create an ad
  2. Low barriers to entry (knowledge) –  There is no industry standard or minimum qualification like lawyers/financiers have.  Anyone can join in and do it
  3. Low barriers to entry (skills) – the above two PLUS the fact that the overall skill base of consumers with creative software is improving (‘thanks’ Adobe and Apple for making this stuff cool!)
  4. The market is ripe – clients are looking to make their money go further and small, one man shops will be much cheaper  and keener (even if they may take a little longer)
  5. Good enough is enough – everyone is covering their arse and doing something (even if wrong) is often seen as better than waiting to do the right thing
By this post, I am by no means implying that any one-man shop is going to be crap.  Only highlighting this new reality for agencies.  To be fair to clients, if I was a small company with limited budget, would I go to an agency (however small) or call up someone I knew who had an interest in this to help me? Definitely the latter.
What are your views on this new landscape for agencies?

No, thank YOU!

As part of my yearly resolutions I decided that I should try to read more – at least a book per month.  And I intend to do it.  It won’t always be a “work” related book, but it keeps me in the habit.

A couple of months ago, I heard about Gary Vaynerchuk’s new book ‘The Thank You Economy”. The book is essentially a call to arms to all businesses to join and use social networks/social media to promote and sell.  It goes through the caring & commitment needed, tips, ideas, case studies and statistics about doing so.  It’s the only way to re-humanise business.  We have moved too far from local community shops where everyone knows everyone, to a time where companies are faceless; where your relationship with your local shops only extends to a ‘Hello’ or ‘Goodbye’.

I’ve always been quite interested in SM and Gary is an infectious speaker; full of energy and passion (see this video).  I decided that I would give it a go. And I wasn’t disappointed.

Vaynerchuk defines TYE as (essentially) a throwback to the 50s, where businesses knew their customers personally, knew their needs intimately and delivered diligently. They knew that if they didn’t people would go elsewhere.  He believes social media gives us the opportunity to create that one-to-one relationship enjoyed by our elders.

He takes us through a brief history of how we have come full circle to a place where customers demand individuality, appreciation and authenticity from the people they do business with.

He goes through objections to social media (and provides arguments to counteract them) and what businesses need to be aware of/need in order to make the most of this opportunity. He also notes the biggest mistakes companies make with Social Media:

  • using tactics instead of strategy
  • using it just to put out fires
  • using it to brag
  • using it as a one way communication vehicle
  • just retweeting other people’s content
  • only pushing product
  • expecting quick results

Lastly, and this is where the book gets really interesting, he goes through several case studies where people have used social media to good effect for their business – in a variety of sizes and a variety of industries.

Do I believe in it all? Not all of it, but a large extent.  I think bigger, more established companies will always struggle more to ‘get with the times’ &  make it work simply because of the bureaucracy and hurdles involved in making things happen in such monolithic organisations.

Nevertheless, all in all, this was a really enjoyable book with many valid points, perspectives and arguments. I think anyone involved in social media would benefit from reading it – especially if only just starting their business and looking for a cheap (but time consuming) way of promoting it or companies who are just starting to dip their toes in the water.

Below are some quotes from the book (some salient to social media, others just amusing) as well as an illustrated version of the book (courtesy of Ogilvynotes).

Real business isn’t done in board meetings; it’s done over a half-eaten plate of buffalo wings at the sports bar…

In 1984, you’d get stuffed in your locker for gloating over your new Apple Macintosh; in 2007 you could score a hot date by showing off your new iPhone.

There’s only so low you can go on price. There’s only so excellent you can make your product or service.  There’s only so far you can stretch your marketing budget.  Your heart, though – that’s boundless.

Everybody counts, and gets the best I have to give.

But they’re not going to give me that chance unless the other guy slips up.  And even then they’d probably give him a second chance, because forgiveness is the hallmark of a good relationship.

..if you wait until social media is able to prove itself to you before deciding to engage with your customers one–on-one, you’ll have missed your greatest window of opportunity to move ahead of your competitors.

The customer you should be scared of is the one who has a bad experience, doesn’t say a word, and never returns.

It remembered that behind every B2B transaction, there’s a C.


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