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Copy and Paste Culture of Social Networks July 16, 2010

Posted by billyburnettgbc in social networks, Uncategorized.
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Mashable.com confirmed today the rumour that MySpace has begun demoing a completely redesigned version of its profile pages to select users. Despite a couple of nice new features (well new to MySpace anyway) is this really enough to turn things around?

Site analytics show the site has been in steady decline for the past 12 months and recent departures from the senior management imply a lack of clear vision moving forward. Facebook continues to lure away MySpace users whilst the rumoured entrance of Google into the space should also be cause for concern.

Although the introduction of these new features may interest a few users and capture some headlines this is unlikely to change the fortunes of the company. We have already seen this exact same scenario play out in the mobile handset world, where handset manufacturers look to emulate the features of the market leader (ok then, copy) instead of innovating and differentiating their product. It’s not they are bad, it’s just their competitors do it first and often do it better.

Facebook won’t be around forever and the next “big thing” is probably being developed in a garage somewhere right now, but with this copy and paste culture it’s unlikely to be from MySpace.

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Facebook – We love you, we love you not, we love you… May 26, 2010

Posted by billyburnettgbc in Facebook, Online Reputation, social networks.
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Despite being somewhat of a media darling in 2009, where the introduction of even the most basic of features were salivated over by the press, Facebook has come under heavy criticism over the past few months. This has predominantly been around privacy settings, though the odd security scare has also hit the headlines, which has resulted in Mark Zuckerberg announcing plans to roll out simplified features from 26th May.

Although this is likely to be met with a several hurrahs and pats on the back from people stating the power of social media has once again influenced power over an organisational strategy, I must admit I don’t really care and truth be told, I doubt 90% of the people on Facebook do either. Privacy settings are rarely a concern for the man on the street and he definitely doesn’t read the terms and conditions, as demonstrated by GameStation, so why all the fuss?

The fact is that more than we love to see someone succeed, we love even more to see them fail and this is especially true when it comes to brands in the internet age. What will be interesting to see is whether Mark and the rest of his team will be able to turn up the marketing charm, something they haven’t had to do much of previously, and get the media back on side.

The elephants have arrived! May 14, 2010

Posted by kewroad in Uncategorized.
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If you are a London-dweller, they you probably would have noticed a major change in the landscape over the past week – ELEPHANTS!  We have been invaded…. by cute, brightly coloured, designer sponsored elephants, and they seem to be popping up all over London – from Green Park and Soho to the City and Southbank!

In their words the – “Elephant Parade is a conservation campaign that shines a multi-coloured spotlight on the urgent crisis faced by the endangered Asian elephant. Brought to you by www.elephantfamily.org, the event sees over 250 brightly painted life-size elephants located over central London this summer.”

As well as its imposing yet adorable presence on the London landscape, the Elephant Parade is a great example of how to use social media platforms (in particular Facebook and Twitter) to  generate consumer engagement. This campaign really demonstrates the power of building an emotive buzz around a subject and generating ‘true’ audience engagement from the outset.

 Having seen this campaign from both sides – as a consumer and a sponsor – Chang Beer has sponsored an elephant on the South Bank (pictured), it is easy to see what the campaign has managed to gather so much momentum.

 The Elephant Family’s Facebook page is a smart collaboration between ‘fun’ and ‘fact’. They provide regular updates on the campaign successfully using exclusive teaser images, sponsor and news updates to drive and maintain interest in the Parade, and interweave it with the hard hitting facts and images about the harsh reality of the plight of the Asian elephants.

 They have also used the newly created ‘Donate Now’ function on Facebook to drive revenue and created online petitions to generate support for the cause.

 On the launch date, May 3rd, when the 250 something elephants popped up across London, their Facebook page transformed itself into a community of fans sharing images of the elephants near their homes and offices, which elephants were their favourite, and shout-outs for people to help users find their favourite elephant in London.

 The entire campaign has been supported by regular updates on their Twitter feed, which drives traffic back through Facebook or to their microsite.

The Elephant Parade is a great example of how brands can create a successful, content-driven strategy through social platforms and generate ‘word of mouth’ for their campaign. 

 Definitely one to watch in the coming months!

Napster Goes Social May 7, 2010

Posted by kewroad in social networks, Uncategorized.
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Despite the news last month that social networking site Bebo was closing its doors and the continued decline of MySpace over the past year, the opportunity around social networking sites is considerable when done right. According to a recent report by Nielsen, the total time spent on social networking sites by users worldwide grew more than 100% over the past year, as Facebook and Twitter posted large gains in unique users.

Napster, the pay-to-use streaming and download web application, which has recently lost market share today to both legal and illegal alternatives, yesterday announced the integration of social media tools to give a new attraction to its online activities. Napster will now allow users to share their music interests with online friends and consume social media content from applications like Facebook, Twitter, YouTube and Flickr.

The runaway success of Facebook is indeed based on the relationship forged between Internet users who declare themselves “friends” but also on the preferences expressed by each user. This strategy of socialising existing services is likely to be adopted by many consumer facing industries in the future and these changes to the Napster service are significant and offer functionality that is likely to resonate with their intended audience.

However, with Facebook continuing to grow and looking at new ways to monetise their user base what’s to stop them doing the reverse and entering the digital content market and blowing services like Napster out of the water, or perhaps even just buying them? The digital opportunity is huge but toppling the current major players requires innovation and differentiation rather than emulation.

David vs Goliath Starring Google as David With guest appearances from Facebook and Twitter in the role of Goliath February 12, 2010

Posted by kewroad in Facebook, Google, social networks, Twitter.
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In the online world Google is undoubtedly seen as a giant among mere mortals, but in some arenas this is far from the case. I am talking about the social media scene where Facebook and Twitter are leading the way and Google is running along behind trying to keep up as best it can.

The weapon Google has chosen in place of the traditional slingshot is Google Buzz, a new add-on for Gmail that, as they put it, will ‘Go beyond status messages’. Users of this new service will be able to share all types of info from photos and videos through to websites within the existing Gmail service.

Using their existing email system may seem a strange option as platforms like Twitter and Facebook have made their mark on the world by moving away from emails and using instant messaging and other quicker forms of communication. By integrating with Gmail, Google gains instant access to 176 million existing email subscribers, some will just see this as another email add on and not a threat to the social media status quo but others may see this as a sleeping lion, waiting for Google to yank its tail and start a social media revolution.

With a host of failed attempts at social media in their past including Orkurt, Dodgeball, Jaiku, and OpenSocial some may think this latest effort is destined to failure. But I am also sure that a few years ago people would have laughed at you if you asked when they last Tweeted and who their celebrity doppelganger on Facebook was.

Google certainly doesn’t look like they are ready to give up on the social media scene just yet and even if they are the David of the piece for now I would not be surprised if a growth spurt and promotion to Goliath is not far off.

The internet now drives opinion not the print media October 18, 2009

Posted by kewroad in 2009 predictions, information technology, internet, Journalism, new media, pr, print media, social networks, Twitter, Uncategorized.
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The furore since Thursday evening over the Daily Mail’s Jan Moir’s take on the death of Stephen Gateley serves to demonstrate that communications and opinion is no longer in the hands of journalists alone.  Twitter not only ‘breaks news’ – it also provides the facilitate to quickly garner masses of public opinion around news.   In the old days, a journalist would express a view and all that might happen is a letter from Mr Angry from Bournementh in the letters page the following week.   Many of might have wanted to comment but didn’t have the inclination to write a letter.  Not only does the popularity of Facebook and Twitter  now enable people to comment instantly but these social media tools also enable us to come together collectively, quickly and forcefully to drive comment and lead opinion.

Is this new wave of influential public opinion revolutionary? Well almost.  When before could a swell of opinion be expressed so quickly and powerfully? Long-term, this must have a positive effect on the old powers of the handful of media moguls who have long domintated the printing presses. Surely, long-term, it will be public opinion that drives the news agenda.  This new power of the people can’t be underestimated. Such was the rumpus caused by the Daily Mail article that the  newspaper lost significant advertising revenue. The mail had to remove adverts from big brands like Marks and Spencer, Nestle, Visit England, Kodak and the National Express. 

As the Observer recently reported, the print media is changing beyond all recognition and will never be the same again. We are currently living in a period of incredible change in communications and social media. No one really knows what the outcome will be, all that is for sure is that it won’t be the same as before. 

Sue Grant

It’s shiny and new but the question is do you need it? October 1, 2009

Posted by andysephton in internet, new media, social networks.
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The internet is buzzing with Google’s latest invite only toy, Google Wave, an online tool for real-time communication and collaboration that, if you believe the hype, is pretty much the best thing ever to come out of the internet. The highly coveted and sort after invites to gain access to the beta version are in high demand with one apparently selling for $5,100 on eBay.

This strange fever that surrounds these new online tools got me thinking about whether new is always the way to go. One blogger I found on the web made the very valid point that: “Just because people have access to a technology doesn’t mean they will use it. We used to have real time collaboration online (they were called chat rooms), but we got over that”. When it comes to online technology the key is to find out what works for you and not what everyone is talking about.

Social media as a whole can seem a scary concept to more conservative companies who are only starting to consider if this area is right for them. What they really need to be looking at is what parts of the social media sphere are appropriate for their business. Facebook has a lot of users but for many businesses have no place in their social media strategy. Twitter is good for short, snappy updates but sometimes you have more than 140 characters to say. LinkedIn can be great for finding new business contacts and answering fellow user’s questions but is it reaching the right people for you?

Don’t get me wrong, these tools could be perfect for your business but the point I am trying to make is that you need to make sure that they are. Don’t just use them because everyone else does. If a tried and tested blog is the best way to get your message out, go for it. If you can’t dedicate the time to keep your Twitter account full of relevant Tweets there is little point in having one. Also please remember that social media is too new an area for anyone to truly be an expert on this area and we are all still learning. Also remember that just because something is not right for your business now does not mean it won’t be in the future.

Many of the new tools will be full of bugs and glitches in the early days and the one that got no hype to start with could evolve in to the communication tool of the century. Do your research, talk to as many people as you can and remember to go back and look at the tools you wrote off in the early days. They might have got their act together and become a perfect fit for your business.

When a tree falls in social media land… August 17, 2009

Posted by billyburnettgbc in Uncategorized.
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As any fan of the hit series The Wire will know, you should never say anything over the phone that could incriminate you or the crew as anyone could be listening.  But did the Barksdale family ever educate their gang about the dangers of Twitter, Facebook and MySpace?

In April, The Sun exposed a brothel advertising their services and even offering discounts to customers on Twitter.  Whilst a burglar recently decided to taunt his victims on Facebook, leaving a series of messages on their profile page and signing off “regards your night-time burglar”.  But is it only the criminal underworld that needs some education on social media guidelines?

Social Media Eavesdropping

Status updates are no longer personal

Apparently not, as one disgruntled employee learnt last week when they were fired after branding their boss a “total pervy w***er” on Facebook.  Forgetting she added her boss to her network, he subsequently responded by firing her (via Facebook of course).  So should your status remain a politically correct commentary on your daily activities?

Darren Bent would possibly disagree.  Former Tottenham Hotspur and now Sunderland striker recently caused a storm on Twitter with a foul mouthed rant against Spurs chairman Daniel Levy in response to transfer speculation.

Bent was fined £120,000 for his outburst. That’s two week’s wages by the way and he subsequently got the transfer he wanted, benefitting from a pay rise and a transfer to a team where he would be better positioned to continue his career.

Therefore, does everyone need to become social media experts and analyse the likely outcomes of a status update before broadcasting it to the masses?  Possibly not, but the above events show that anything you are willing to share with your friends online, you must be willing to share with your boss, enemies and even the police as well.