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Archive for September, 2007

Social network profiles for sale – progress or pillaging?

September 13th, 2007

Facebook announced that it is opening users’ profiles to search engines earlier this month, and while this move was hardly a surprise, it does signify the end of the age of corporate innocence for social networks, or at least for Facebook.

Facebook is no longer just the place where people find you, it’s the new mechanism for advertisers to find you as well. And yes, it’s even trying to make money.

So is selling Facebook’s 40 million users a betrayal or just Facebook’s spoils of war?

In truth the only data that will be accessible is your profile picture and your name, if you agreed to make those available, but it shows that social networks are pushing towards that holy grail of the digital age – monetisation.

Facebook say this move will make advertising more compelling and relevant, which is true, but that’s assuming we, as users, are open to advertising.

In truth if I was looking at this purely from a user’s point of view I would be against it, saying Facebook has sold out, and it’ll lose users as part of a massive Facebook backlash. However, I don’t believe that will be the case and I’d like to consider this issue in the wider context of social media and how brands communicate within that environment.

From that point of view, I don’t think Facebook will lose users infact I think it’ll stay on target to meet its recently increased 07 target of 60 million users. Furthermore, if this move is successful it will help to discourage, or filter out, those advertisers that try to push a simple message to the mass market. In other words those advertisers that we love to hate. By filtering ads it should make the experience less intrusive and more relevant…or so the theory goes, and in doing so change the way we view advertising online, by allowing selected brands to engage with an increasingly sophisticated consumer.

Perhaps that’s a ‘rose-tinted’ vision of what Facebook is trying to do.  Don’t get me wrong, I am sure that money is the overriding motivator here, but if online advertising techniques do take a massive leap forward as a side-effect of a bunch of very rich people getting richer, then I think it’s worth it.

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General Motors trials social media newsroom

September 11th, 2007

Drew B has just drawn my attention to the latest social media initiative by GM Europe – a brand that is known for its forward thinking approach to online communications.

The car manufacturer has launched a social media newsroom, which is targeted at journalists and bloggers alike. A wealth of linkable content is available under a Creative Commons license (as being trialed by Blu-ray also), including photos on Flickr and a collection of video content on YouTube.

In addition,each press release has links for easy sharing and tagging with popular social media sites such as Technorati, Digg, and Facebook and each includes a comments area to encourage commentary and opinion from readers.

Read more about it here.

An interview with Keith Childs,the man behind GM Europe’s social media newsroom, is also available on PR blogger. It’s an educational read and definitely worth a look.

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Blogger relations continued…

September 6th, 2007

Following my post a week or so ago defending blogger relations (in response to the Tom Coates debacle)…my attention this morning has been drawn to an incident that turns this conversation on its head.

To date, the million dollar question has been should PRs be contacting bloggers with client news? My take on this issue is discussed here, and I won’t go into that now…

But Ewan MacLeod over at mobile blog SMS Text News, has been drawn into a situation that has ironically led him to defend the use of intelligent PR in the blogosphere.

He was accused by a reader of being paid by 3UK, as a lot of his posts have been about the company recently.

The comment asked: “How much does 3 pay you for bigging them up? (apart from your free contract three handset, inc bills)”

Ewan’s response gives hope to PRs wishing to keep pace with social media.

“But, no one talks to me from Vodafone. No one picks up the phone from o2 to challenge my ‘el Chumpo’ labelling of them….3UK do pick up the phone to me. Their PR (external and internal) are very responsive. They called last week and asked if I’d like to talk to Marc. They called three weeks ago and asked if I’d like to talk to Fergal, their Director of Handsets.”

So there we have it. A blogger who sees the value in focused PR contact. Ewan’s honesty is refreshing, and it’s great to hear about a PR who ‘gets it’! 


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Web trend mapping at its finest

September 5th, 2007


This is simply a brilliant example of web trend mapping. I saw it on Jemima Kiss’ Digital Digest on MediaGuardian yesterday, but just had to share it.

It was originally developed by Oliver Reichenstein at Information Architects (iA), a strategic design agency in Tokyo, and this is the second version (here’s the original).

If the set up isn’t immediately obvious allow me to offer a very brief introduction; the trend map overviews the 200 most successful websites on the web, ordered by category, proximity, success, popularity and perspective, according to iA. The map itself is based on the Tokyo underground, using the different underground lines to represent trend lines, e.g. Technology line for tech sites, news lines for news sites, etc.

It’s a simple idea, but I very much doubt it was simple to execute. iA have even linked the characteristics of the web organisations to the characteristics of Tokyo’s regions. E.g. Yahoo is in Ueno – a nice place, but nothing going on there. Genius!

Oliver offers a full overview of the map on his post. Although it was originally posted at the end of June, the comments are still pouring in.

Mr Reichenstein – I salute you. 

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Blu-ray campaign claims distributed assets first

September 4th, 2007

The Sony Bravia adverts have provided some of the most useful social media case studies to date, and the Sony Blu-ray campaign seems no exception.

Digital comms planners Ryan Morrison & MacMillan are claiming a world first with the strategy that they’ve taken for distributing the social media assets of the campaign.

The video ad content, along with shareable assets such as a Blu-ray themed embeddable Flash Player, have all been released under a Creative Commons license.

To quote directly from their blog, this approach is to encourage consumers to link to the assets and repurpose them in any way they like. “As far as I can tell this is a world first – if you want to take that is some indicator of innovation. The license is basically giving comsumers explicit permission to do what we hope they are going to do the content anyway; share it and remix it.”

RMM is taking a truly strategic approach towards the Blu-ray campaign, and it will be interesting to track the results.

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