Liberate Media blends online PR with offline PR expertise to form a uniquely positioned social media agency.

Archive for March, 2010

Two fantastic video/movie innovations

March 16th, 2010

While doing my daily online news round-up for clients, I often come across one or two things that really get the creative juices flowing. My two most recent finds are to do with video and  movies.

The first is a set of YouTube videos by toy company Mattel – Hot Wheels Custom Motors Cup Challenge Campaign . It’s basically a number of interactive racing movies where you are chief mechanic, and must decide at the end of each video (race) how to set up the car correctly for the next track (video). If you get the set up correct you win and go through to the next round (video). There are three tracks in total.

This is a lot of fun and gives you a fantastic digital experience – it’s had 322,025 views and a 4.5 star rating on Youtube. Well done Mattel!

The second is a movie theatre experience that brings audience participation to a whole new level. The movie is called ‘Last Call’.

“Last Call is the first interactive horror movie in the world where the audience is able to communicate with the protagonist. A film controlled by a member of the audience, thus blurring the boundaries between game and film. Language recognition software transforms the participant’s answers via mobile phone into specific instructions. A specially developed software then processes these commands and launches an appropriate follow-up scene. The dialogue between the movie’s main actress and an audience member leads to a different film – and outcome – every time: sometimes with a happy end, sometimes with a more gruesome one.”

It’s had 141,646 views and has a 5 star rating on YouTube – is this the future of movie going?

View the video for an overview.

read more

Has the PR industry reinvented itself post recession?

March 12th, 2010

In September 2008, on the day that the European Commission officially announced that the UK would fall into recession, I wrote a blog post entitled “The role of PR within a recession” offering some predictions on what I thought this would mean for the PR industry. The post sparked a fair amount of debate, and so I thought it would be interesting to follow-up this post now that we’ve come out the other side, to see how close or far off the mark I was.

1. The PR industry will reinvent itself

I made the prediction that “a recession will force PR consultancies to get their houses in order, and evolve or die”. Reading it back that sounds a bit harsh, and thankfully I don’t think too many ended up biting the dust…but a fair few have certainly been born.

I imagined PR agencies would “evolve” by quickly bringing their teams up to speed on social media, to ensure they were reaching both online and offline audiences in their consultancy. However, within the UK market there has been a growing trend for PR agencies to set up separate social media or digital PR consultancies – a few examples would be Hotwire launching 33 Digital, Next Fifteen setting up Project Metal and Fishburn Hedges opening up Brew. The list of internal social media teams at established PR agencies is also continually growing.

Moving forward, I think we will see more consolidation happening within this space as large PR agencies look to snap up smaller, specialist social media agencies, in order to accelerate their social media growth.

2. The profiles of individual PRs will become more important

The trend towards ‘Personalised Relations’ that we were seeing at the end of 2008 has undoubtedly continued. However Twitter has exploded exponentially within the social media PR sector enabling more PR folks to “become their own hubs” in the words of Jeremiah Owyang. Competition for share of voice has become fiercer, making it harder to spot the experienced social media consultants from those who are doing a good job of talking about it.

3. PR will no longer be a beauty parade

I would argue that the definition of ‘beauty’ has evolved within the UK PR industry. Today it is not so much about the company name, but much more about the agency’s online reputation and profile. We are increasingly seeing evidence of brands shortlisting and selecting agencies based on their social media assets, rather than the kudos of going with a big global agency. This is a positive trend that I hope will continue.

4. New business will be won/put to tender in less orthodox ways

From what we are seeing at Liberate Media, and hearing about among our peers, this is definitely becoming the case. There is still some nervousness around selecting a social media PR agency, and brands seem more comfortable meeting with agencies that have been recommended within their network of contacts, than taking the impersonal approach of putting a pitch out to tender. We are encountering the fierce pitch process less and less, and instead being given the change to demonstrate our knowledge and creativity within a less confined manner.

5. CEOs will need to prioritise PR more highly

This final prediction is difficult to assess, as I can only offer personal experience. It would be interesting to hear whether other agencies have found this to be the case.

At Liberate Media we did see CEOs and senior management dedicating more time to PR, and taking greater interest in social media. Our training services in particular were called on increasingly as CEOs wanted to upskill and take a more active role in their social media PR efforts.

** These are just my humble opinions. It would be great to hear back from people who commented on my original post, and others, on their experience of the above predictions.

read more

Weekly Social Media sites, tools and posts round-up (11-03-2010)

March 12th, 2010

Welcome to another instalment of the ‘Weekly Social Media sites, tools and posts round-up’.

1. First off this week we have the newly announced Google Apps Marketplace. The Marketplace is full of useful additions/plugins to your existing Google suite of tools.

2. Giga Tweet is a live Twitter counter of how many Tweets have been sent and the ongoing number of Tweets being sent right now – interesting stuff!

3. A lot of noise can be heard about Foursquare. FourWhere is a mashup of both FourSquare and Google maps. What they say: “FourWhere helps you find places visited by Foursquare users, and read any comments/tips they made about these places”.

4. Base Kit allows you to create hosted websites from .psd files for £10.00 per month. So if you’re hot at designing in Photoshop but not so hot at coding, this could be a good alternative.

5. What do you suggest is a visual tool that uses Google’s suggestion feature. Type in a word or phrase, and then follow it to the answer. Very cool!

Social Media post of the week: 35 Great Social Media Infographics

SEO post of the week: How To: Search Engine Optimize Your Facebook Fan Page

More of the same social media sites and tools next week!

read more

Twitter stats don’t tell the whole story

March 11th, 2010

As you might have seen, an interesting Twitter stat has been doing the rounds recently: ‘21% of Twitter users are active users’ ,a stat that you’re likely to see regularly from now on.

This originated from the Barracuda Labs 2009 Annual Report, which was released earlier this week, revealing data from Twitter trends and tracking, as well as Web threats and trends, and email spam and viruses. The report is also available at the company’s portal.

The study looked at around 19 million Twitter accounts, and started with one assumption: an active or “True” Twitter user has at least 10 followers, follows at least 10 people, and had tweeted at least 10 times.

Looking back, the data shows interesting usage trends and reveals that 26% of Twitter users had 10 followers or more by December 2009, while only 40% were following 10 people or more, in fact 51% of users were following less than five people.

The report also confirms that 34% of Twitter users hadn’t tweeted once, while 73% had tweeted less than 10 times. That means nearly all of the tweets on the social network were coming from about 1/4 of the user base, and it is these users that the report refers to as ‘power users’.

So, are these revealing stats going to spell the end of the myth that Twitter is going to be the new communications platform for all? Hopefully, because i doubt even the quarter of Twitter users that are using it consistently thought it was going ever to be that.

If you’re not trying to make money out of Twitter, the importance attached to the amount or frequency of Twitter’s usage should not be as important as one might first assume.

The most important element of Twitter is the conversation, not the brand, not the technology and not the potential, but the conversation. That conversation doesn’t just happen on Twitter, it happens across many social networks, messaging platforms, via SMS, even in email and person-to-person, and Twitter allows part of that conversation, bringing communities together that choose to share information with each other.

If Twitter stopped tomorrow, the conversation would still continue, and my bet is the majority of Twitter’s ‘power user’ base, that Tweet the majority of the conversation, use other platforms to continue the conversation in other ways.

So is this the end of Twitter and the Twitter success story? No, Twitter is a massive success story, but it has been blown out of proportion in some ways. It is, as the research says, a valuable tool for ‘power users’, but in the world of social media we all have freedom of choice, we all communicate in different ways and some of us will find our preferred community on Twitter while others will look elsewhere for a better fit in terms of relevance. However, the one common theme is the conversation, and the ability to share; knowledge, content, news, excitement, sorrow, whatever.

We’ve seen the ‘no-one reads blogs’ headlines before, which again i don’t believe to be the case. Of the millions of blogs only a small percentage are useful and interesting, and those blogs are well utilised, the others quite simply are not. Does that make blogs any less useful though?

What we are seeing is Twitter maturing, as the study says, Twitter recently reported it had reached approximately 50 million tweets per day.

In the beginning of 2008, Twitter was growing approximately 0.31% per month. By November 2008, that growth increased to 1.95% per month.

After December 2008, Twitter’s growth exploded from nearly 2% per month, rising to approximately 4% per month, before finally peaking at nearly 20% per month in April 2009. Growth appears to have normalised, dropping back to 0.34% in December 2009.

We can also see more evidence of Twitter users finding their feet. A full 79% of users had less than ten tweets in June 2009, but that number dropped to 73% by December. 80% of users had less than 10 followers in June 2009, but that percentage dropped to 74% by December.

So, little by little, Twitter is finding its place in the role of conversation. It’s not going to change the way we communicate radically, but it is helping us to communicate more effectively, with those in our chosen community.

read more

Weekly Social Media sites, tools and posts round-up (05-03-2010)

March 5th, 2010

Welcome to another instalment of the ‘Weekly Social Media sites, tools and posts round-up’.

1. Stickr will let you post stickers on the Web. You can leave notes all over the Internet that track your activity, or that of your friends.View the video for a further overview.

2. Collecta #trends gives you top real-time trends right off the bat. Each trend gives you the latest photo, story, comment and update.  Collecta can also be used for searching your own trends.

3. Trends is another real-time trending platform, which is more visual than Collecta and offers a good selection of topics to navigate. On clicking a trend you are presented with a wealth of information.

4. Toobla. What they say: “Get Visual. Easily collect, enjoy and share your favourite content, bookmarked websites and everything else. Toobla helps you do it.”

Here is an example.

5. Thumboo - simple to generate thumbnails via a submitted URL

Social Media post of the week: If you missed it, here’s the link to the BIG social media quiz

SEO post of the week: Anatomy of a Hands-on SEO Site Audit – Part 1 Anatomy of a Hands-on SEO Audit – Part 2

More of the same social media sites and tools next week!

read more

Developing a social strategy

March 3rd, 2010

As you may have seen, the team at Altimeter Group have been holding a series of social media-focused webinars titled:

1. Understand Your Customers’ Social behaviours

2. Developing A Social Strategy

3. Social Strategy: Getting Your Company Ready (Taking place April 14th)

The second Webinar, focused on social strategy, took place last week, and the slideshow deck is available below.

For anyone interested in social media and communicating in a social environment this is a must read. The  Altimeter Group has carried on the excellent work of the likes of Charlene Li and Jeremiah Owyang, as well as many others, who have been offering their insight on the area going back to their days at Forrester Research and earlier.

You may be thinking; ‘oh no not another social media presentation’, but as you will see by the content, it makes sense to take notice of these suggestions. Why? Well, not only because you’ll probably see these points repeated in many agency presentations in the future, but because they make sense, and aren’t focused on one particular sales pitch, other than the obvious consultancy sell.

The first point that grabbed me is a point we’ve been making to clients for many years; social media isn’t about the technology, it’s about the conversation. The technology is merely a conduit for the conversation, and to be fair a conversation starter, but too many people are hung up on this technology or that service, without fully grasping the nature of social communications.

I won’t go on, as the slides will tell their own story, but if you’re looking for a presentation that gives you a full overview of the issues that you need to consider when developing a social media strategy, this should go to the top of your list.

read more

The BIG Social Media Quiz

March 2nd, 2010

The Liberate Media team have put a Social Media quiz together for you to enjoy between meetings or when ever you get some free time. The quiz consists of a whole load of social media questions, well 50 to be  exact. Some questions are challenging, others you will answer easily.

Once you’ve completed the quiz, add your score to the comments section, and the winner will be crowned the ‘BIG Social Media Quiz expert’, which is much more meaningful than being a social media expert!

To pass you have to score 70% or more, and no cheating!


The Liberate Media BIG Social Media Quiz

read more

"I found a higher degree of contacts and enthusiasm and then something far more interesting. They listened, challenged and questioned with a focus and knowledge that I've never experienced before."