Archive for February, 2009
February 27th, 2009
This month has gone so quickly, but as per normal here is your weekly instalment of my 5 favourite web 2.0 tools and sites of the week.
1. Twitter Pearch. Add a keyword to the interface and when someone uses that keyword you automatically follow them. It only allows you to follow a maximum of 20 people a day.
2. Twibs. A tool that lists all companies and business on Twitter in alphabetical order. Browse through 5,116 current Twitter businesses.
3. Link extender is a Firefox only add-on. It gives you loads of information on websites, website safety information, site traffic, ratings, and demographics. Recommended.
4. Breaking Tweets. This tool offers a brief overview of a breaking news story, and then uses Twitter posts as quotes within the story, with links to other sources for those wanting more information on the breaking news.
5. This week’s Five on Friday is a little Twitter heavy, so we might as well finish it with a Twitter clone called Flokio – start your own microblogging group. Just pick a group name and URL and off you go!
February 27th, 2009
It can’t have escaped anyone’s notice that Ryanair has been busy creating a lovely new social media case study for us all to use when extolling the pitfalls of not embracing social media.
If you have missed it, there are great write ups on Travolution, The Times, Guardian, Economist and Telegraph, plus probably the best of the bunch at datadial. That little bunch of headlines should tell you in an instant how dramatically this story has backfired on Ryanair.
However, if you have missed the story, here’s my attempt to shorthand it: Blogger notices glitch on Ryanair website and makes issue public, Ryanair staff respond calling the blogger an idiot among other things, not once, twice but three times, and then Ryanair release a statement confirming, and I quote:
“Ryanair can confirm that a Ryanair staff member did engage in a blog discussion. It is Ryanair policy not to waste time and energy in corresponding with idiotÂ bloggers and Ryanair can confirm that it won’t be happening again.
“Lunatic bloggers can have the blogosphere all to themselves as our people are far too busy driving down the cost of air travel.”
Wow, that is so wrong on so many levels that I don’t know where to begin. Not only does Ryanair obviously not have any type of social media policy, which is odd considering how closely the social web is linked to travel and specifically air travel, but when they had the chance to correct the initial mistake(s) instead they decide to continue to abuse the individual and blogosphere as a whole.
Now, obviously, i’m coming to this debate late, and with good reason. When this story broke everywhere on Tuesday/Wednesday I knew I had a presentation booked in at a major airline on Thursday afternoon. I hoped to pick their brains about the possible reasons for this seemingly suicidal course of action.
Unfortunately, I didn’t get to discuss the issue in as much depth as I had wanted, due to unforeseen timing issues, but the general points from the team here and in the meeting seemed to be:
1. Astonishment, plain and simple, how could Ryanair react this way?
2. Was this reaction related to a fear of getting involved in social media?
3. Was it a stunt?
Now, I think we can rule out the third option, as if this was a stunt; now would be a very good time to reveal the reasons as the damage is increasing by the hour. I’d love to think this was an elaborate ploy, but history and common sense tells us not.
Point one, the ‘astonishment’ is fairly obvious, but i’m going to spell out the first five failings in my mind, there are many more.
1.) complete failure to understand the basics of communicating on the socially connected web
2.) complete failure to consider bloggers as an authority that can drive positive and/or negative experiences of your brand
3.) complete failure to deal with what is a customer relationship issue – whether online or offline.
4.) complete failure to listen, engage and react positively to what could have been a small issue, but is now a beast
5.) complete failure to apologise once the issue had been raised, staff had reacted poorly to the point of being rude, and instead back up the failings that had gone before it
So that leaves us with fear. Now i’m not suggesting that fear of getting involved in social media caused this issue directly. But i am saying a potential fear to embrace social media, probably because of the favoured excuse of ‘losing control’ and ‘speaking with one voice’ has ultimately led to ignoring social media as a route to customers, which has in turn led to not training the individuals involved, not making whoever prepared the statement aware of the ramifications, and ultimately leaving the brand to be used as an example of ‘how not to do it’ on some of the UK’s leading media outlets. Let alone the discussion it has caused on Twitter.
The simple truth is it’s not possible to yet quantify the true scale of the problems this can cause for Ryanair, unless they turn it around quickly. We can already see the reaction, the search results that lead any online interest to this story when trying to book flights, and the backlash from customers. These reasons alone should be enough to see a change at Ryanair in terms of embracing, or at least understanding, social media.
But what’s this, a new story has just popped up from the BBC: Ryanair considers toilet charge not the reaction we were looking for.
February 24th, 2009
As the BarcelonaÂ Mobile World Congress chatter echoes into silence for another year, and the winner of the MOFILM grand prize celebrates her short-film success, thoughts turn to other conversations more local and urgent.
In just over three weeksâ€™ time, Tom Watson MP, UK Cabinet Minister for Transformational Government will join leading thinkers in education, gaming, social media and consumer electronics for an extended conversation on game based learning.
Graham Brown-Martin, director of the Game Based Learning Conference could not have chosen a more appropriate time to extend the remit of his event organisation from the widely respected Handheld Learning conferences. For there are dark mutterings from the House of Horrors in Westminster concerning the effects of social networking on the nationâ€™s youth.
Baroness Greenfield, a scientist, this week waded into the debate on the potential psychological and physical outcomes from â€œtoo much SMâ€. From the reports Iâ€™ve read so far, there was little in the way of objective research data to back up the argument to the Lords but I will keep searching. It does make you wonder whether too much Lordism is damaging for older people’s minds – but I’m sure that is more than likely a line of thought sparked by a moral panic and nothing more.
Meanwhile, we can look forward to a different type of debate and conversations in three weeks at the educational London conference, where I believe the beneficial, even mildly revolutionary, effects of Social Media in extending the boundaries of learning will be more fully explored.
February 20th, 2009
As always my favourite web 2.0 sites and tools of the week.
1. At long last I have waited for a service to step up and do this:
Twe2 offers Free Twitter SMS alerts in Europe and beyond. We don’t charge you to receive an SMS, Twe2 is Totally Free and we mean it…
Check out Twe2
2. URL rate gives a website a mark out of ten based on a number of factors including age ,domain, page rank check, inbound links, traffic ranks and site value.
Here is how Google got on:
3. This has to be my favourite site of the week, it’s so unbelievably simple: TinyChat lets you create your own chatroom and invite people through one simple link.
4. Got an iPhone, use Twitter, want people to know where you are?
Try Schmap, the banner below sums it up better than I can describe it.
5. Finally today we have a simple and easy to use ‘free’ to-do list, application and productivity tool that focuses on your organisation by putting your content first. Supports Twitter. URL: Listflock.
February 19th, 2009
This may seem like an advert for Liberate Media but I promise you it’s not supposed to be. This post began life as a discussion between Liberate and a business prospect that we had a meeting with yesterday.
The digital brand, that shall remain nameless for the purposes of this discussion, started off the meeting confirming that they had spoken to many PR agencies in the past that have promised much in terms of social media understanding and services but delivered very little. They had obviously become frustrated by this process as usually the extent of services on offer boiled down to posting press releases online and utilisation of keywords.
To be honest this shocked us. Not just because we know there are other agencies out there doing a great job, but more because we thought that the PR industry had started to move away from this rather depressing problem. You may be reading this thinking – â€˜err no, we come up against this every day’, and with hindsight it was far too early for me to write off this issue. However, in the end this approach helped us to quantify exactly why we were the agency for the job and developed into a discussion on why and how agencies with different focuses have developed in this sector.
This got us thinking: wouldn’t it be interesting to find out where we all came from originally? Not just PR agencies, but all those involved in social media communications? I know the sector is still very young, but the different approaches and back stories to the various agencies helps everyone to understand who we are.
So, in the interest of sharing, I wanted to offer an insight into the original thinking behind Liberate Media and how that has developed into the agency we are today. If it proves to be of interest, it might be good to start a meme on â€˜how you became a social media agency’ which could become a great reference for all.
Therefore, to kick things off, a bit of a Liberate Media history lesson: feel free to add your own story as a comment, or send me a link to your story via Twitter or email.
At Liberate Media we came at the social media challenge not through necessity to exploit a new area, and not as a result of playing catch up, but because we believed PR needed to evolve and social media would be a real instigator of this change.
We were founded in 2006, and at the beginning of our journey social media communications were still very much experimental. The Dell Hell campaign was the most recognisable example of how brand conversations were ongoing, with or without the brand’s participation, but more examples of brand success and failure in social media quickly followed.
We realised that it was the theory of open conversation that would take the lead in social media PR, not the medium through which it is delivered. After all, it is this theory, the re-emergence of conversation and its importance in brand communications that is the key. Not the tools and tactics used to achieve it.
We had an advantage in this respect, as Liberate Media was founded by a PR consultant and a journalist, each with an intimate understanding of communications, but from different perspectives. Both brought valuable insight to the development of the agency, but both were aware that somewhere inbetween their specialisms lay the essence of social media communicators.
To help us on our way, we hired a digital native, someone who understands the web and its networked nature from a development perspective, with a pure research remit. We asked him to go out and absorb the socially connected web, to play with the tools, to communicate with authorities and look for openings to join in and be useful.
As this research grew and our experimentation turned into strategy, Liberate Media’s work became more focused on building online campaigns and tools, learning first hand that the best way to get involved is to listen first and then join in with useful content and conversation.
This knowledge and our varied skills allowed us to develop our own tools, and partner with a network of like-minded digital experts to offer a range of campaigns.
We’ve hired more journalists, more PRs and more net natives, their one common trait being an understanding of the theory of community, conversation and how to consult within this environment.
February 16th, 2009
Iâ€™m feeling more confident right now about the creative future of mobile than I have for a long time. I thought that while there was no shortage of talent, the industry seemed challenged to move ahead and open up to new forms of expression.
This week at the Mobile World Congress in Barcelona, there will be no shortage of innovation on the technical side (music DJ handsets, touch screens, platform developments â€¦) as well as some breathtaking creativity.
And at the end of the week, Kevin Spacey will be announcing the winners of this yearâ€™s global mobile short film festival awards – MOFILMS â€“ people attending the congress can download the 12 finalistsâ€™ films to their mobiles before the winners are announced on Friday.
Delegates will also have a chance to win a Chevrolet Cruze by recording a 30-second MOFILM about how they have broken the rules to achieve something great. The winning UGC (User Generated Content) Film will be announced on Friday as well.
Also shouting out loud in Barcelona this week is m.LOVE Â a movement with a passion for mobile from around the world. It aims to work in small format conferences, local meet-ups and by-annual gatherings, uniting mobile passionistas through communication, learning and understanding. Itâ€™s making strident early calls for debates about the future of mobile and how little things can make the world a better place.
Maybe Sony CEO Howard Stringer was onto something last month when he said that mobile devices would be a focus for dealing with the poor economic conditions around the world. His upbeat Tokyo message was: â€œWe will tap our unique strengths in gaming, entertainment, digital imaging and telephony to fast track a line-up of next-generation mobile devices.â€
I wonder if PR can pick up on this creativity in the next year and not only join the conversation but also lead the development of mobile PR creative services.Â
February 13th, 2009
Here we go with this week’s exciting array of 5 web 2.0 tools and sites.
1. First off is a simple to use graphs and charts maker called Chart Tool.
Simply choose your chart, add the data, labels,fonts, then preview and finally download your graph in a number of formats to your desktop. Easy.
2. SEO rush is a one touch resource which provides you a FREE SEO report for your URL, or a competitors URL.
The report will return On-Page SEO and Off-Page SEO as well as social presence, indexed pages, validation, meta information, various ranks and standard domain information.
4. Sputtr is next, with Sputtr you can save valuable time by having all the right searches on just one page!
5. BloggersBase provides a discovery platform for bloggers, user-generated-content and readers alike. This platform takes the form of an online magazine spanning various topics, each implemented as a multi-authored blog, and moderated by algorithm-enhanced crowd wisdom.
February 13th, 2009
I blogged last week on the mobile phone as the Fourth Screen (after cinema, TV and computer) and as a powerful capture device with potential for PR, given its immediacy and acceptance as a narrative form, borrowing from documentary theory.
In advertising, mobile companies have experimented with the form, particularly Nokia late last year. And this week, LG stamped its creative credentials with ad campaign filmed entirely on mobile and in ‘mobimentary’ style byÂ fashion photographer Carli HermesÂ for the launch of its new Renoir handset.
The campaign is Europe-wide, and will run online, on television and in print throughout this month. You can see footage on the making of the ad here. To me, it’s a pretty clear signal that, in context, mobile footage can be a very powerful communicator and I hope this moves it further into the mainstream.
February 12th, 2009
Stories of journalist and newspaper cut-backs are rife, and over the past few days the UK marketing trade press has been the latest casualty.
Centaur has made the decision to close its magazines Precision Marketing and Brand Strategy, while Marketing Week is undergoing a major staff reshuffle. New journalists to be joining the Marketing Week team are rumoured to be Ruth Mortimer, formerly editor of Brand Strategy and Branwell Johnson, former editor of Mad.co.uk,Â while some existing staff will be leaving.
According to the Precision Marketing website, Centaur is avoiding placing any blame on the current economic situation. The announcement reads:
“Centaur Media is to shift the coverage of direct marketing from Precision Marketing to Marketing Week, reflecting the transformation of direct marketing from a niche function to a mainstream operation…Precision Marketing, which had a circulation of 12,000, is therefore to cease publishing from the February editon onwards.”
Arguably Centaur is paying the price for not evolving its marketing titles quickly enough. A re-design for Marketing Week is on the cards, but this is long overdue. Interesting that little mention has been made of it increasing its digital marketing coverage, or delivery of news through social media. While NMA and Marketing Week are both placing increasing editorial focus on features, I question whether this is really what readers want or need. Subscription-only content is going to have to work harder to keep its reader-base in my opinion…
February 11th, 2009
Just in case you haven’t noticed, Twitter is now officially everywhere and everyone is Tweeting, well okay not exactly, but it seems that way. Over the last few weeks we’ve seen mainstream coverage of Twitter explode, as more and more celebs get involved. In fact, it seemed nearly every TV programme or paper contained a Twitter story last week. Obviously the web had been alive with Twitter-related stories and rumours for much longer, but when we begin to see and hear stories in the Sun and on Radio 1, we know a new level has been reached.
So, it shouldn’t have been a surprise that discussion reached such heights yesterday as various reports came through that Twitter would be charging brands to use the service, which many put down to quotes by Twitter co-founder Biz stone in: Marketing, which has resulted in further debate on Brand Republic, and a whole host of additional stories on the likes of The Telegraph and TechCrunch and many more.
The Marketing quote from Biz Stone was: ‘We are noticing more companies using Twitter and individuals following them. We can identify ways to make this experience even more valuable and charge for commercial accounts.’
Biz went on to confirm Twitter could also create revenue-generating features to tap into the way brands use Twitter as a hybrid marketing and customer-service tool.
As soon as that went out, the stories and debate kicked-off, Twitter was alive with conversation, but today it seems we are no closer to a paid service for brands, as Biz set the record straight on the Twitter blog with a headline that I’ve borrowed for this post of: nothing to report yet.
In fact, as it turns out, Biz has been discussing this issue for over a year, and probably figured most people were aware, thanks to the coverage at the time. In his post, Stone confirmed:“We’ve been thinking out loud for more than a year about the growing use of Twitter by companies, brands and other commercial organisations. It’s great that both individuals and organisations are finding value in Twitter and there may be ways we can enrich the experience. In fact, we hope to begin iterating on revenue products this year.
“However, it’s important to note that whatever we come up with, Twitter will remain free to use by everyone – individuals, companies, celebrities, etc.”
So where does that leave us? Well, look back a few years, remember the mass coverage around Facebook, and non-stop rumours about what and how it will make money. This seems to be a very similar situation. The one interesting thing that has come out of the story is further debate on how Twitter should make money, which i’m sure Biz Stone and his team will be monitoring. Jemima Kiss did an excellent round up on this issue in the Guardian’s PDA blog.
So, as far as the big question; What is Twitter’s next step? is concerned, keep an eye out, but maybe tryÂ Twitter’s blog first, they’ve been pretty open with developments thus far.