Digital pebbles

Clarke Mulder Purdie on PR, media and other random topics

Archive for the ‘facebook’ Category

Why innovation matters…

Posted by Will Connolly on March 2, 2009

Innovation is defined by the Oxford dictionary as “1 the action or process of innovating.  2 a new method, idea, or product. ” So what is the process of innovating, and what can we achieve?   Innovation is then, creating new ways of thinking to enable the practice of a new method, or design of a new idea, service or product. 

Whether we are talking about the global economic downturn, scarcities of knowledge and resources in developing countries, or thinking about new ways to learn and educate; innovation is essential in the way we work. 

How can innovation be envisaged?

Methods of creative thinking such as brainstorms, collaborative working, and exposure to new experiences shape our innovative success.  Working in a creative environment, the use of social media and web 2.0 are ways to engage with others both in and out of our physical vicinity.    Working in these ways inspire new thoughts and avenues of discovery.  Web 2.0 and social media are an ever-increasing phenomenon, but what is the point to all these usernames and passwords?  How much social media can we take? Among the young no doubt, social media is a popular topic; people are using websites such as Facebook and MySpace to connect with their peers.  How many professionals today are using these ways of communicating fully to their advantage?  The increase in contact through these channels surely leads to learning new information and inspiring ideas.  Twitter has proved a popular business tool, to communicate with journalists, PRs, and add a personal touch to the way we communicate in business.  This is an example of how we can manipulate the media to our advantage.

Best practices and examples of success

Context is important when thinking about innovation.  What are the social, environmental, political, economic, and media factors that will influence the way we communicate and design?  Can the way we look at and forecast the future also define what we should be doing now?  Knowing what issues of the day affect our businesses and policies will put us in better positions to be successful in the future and aid the evolution of innovation.

Business Week asked futurologists, to describe what they’d like to see arise from the current downturn.  “What are the most important inventions of the next 10 years?”.  The futurologists suggest innovations in energy such as bio-fuels and thermal and kinetic energy generation for electronic devices, smarter applications for mobile devices, medical breakthroughs, such as a cure for cancer, and social media literacy to name a few.

Financial rewards and other results of innovative thinking

Can innovation be measured?  The innovative successes of the BBC iPlayer, iPhone3G, Twitter and Facebook, show how innovative thinking can lead to record breaking corporate transformation.  The network operator O2 sells 1m Apple iPhones in 2009 showing how this innovative product helped initially gain the deal with O2 and subsequently increase its sales.

Are there flaws in innovation?

Some people may be wary about changing traditional practices.  Whilst some ways of working will be productive, innovation of our methods and the way we communicate can result in higher levels of productivity and success. But does success stifle innovation?.  Another interesting topic discussed on Business Week; success identified here as breeding a spotlight on efficiency – which can be an obstruction in creative innovative thought.   Companies and organisations should then have a balance between what is measurable by success and what can be measured by our ideas.  Innovation is more an investment in the long term.

Innovative thinking should be used by all and nurtured into our best practices.  Striving for new and exciting prospects and ideas will lead to richer experiences and the ability of communicate with more people.  Innovation and communication should go hand in hand. 

Posted in B2B, business, clarkemulderpurdie, comms, facebook, PR, socialmedia | Tagged: | Leave a Comment »

On the internet, does anyone, like, care who you are?

Posted by Helen on January 28, 2009

Freud does Twitter

Freud does Twitter

The BBC is showing a number of shows on Darwin to celebrate the 150th anniversary of The Origin of the Species. The ever-brilliant David Attenborough is hosting a programme on the tree of life, and the Open University and the Guardian seem to be getting in on the act with poster giveaways of the mighty tree itself.

The idea of illustrating the evolution of life got me thinking about illustrating the evolution of social networking technology – would it be a similar shape to the tree of life, with an ordered progression; or more like the London Underground tube map (strands of lurid, angular spaghetti designed to put the wind up tourists)? And then I started thinking about how social networking ties in with some of those concepts you always hear discussed by the tame psychologist de jour on BBC documentaries – the notion that the twentieth century was the Century of the Self, when Freud and Jung roamed free and everyone was egocentric and possibly harbouring some quiet thoughts about their mothers. So now that we’re egomaniacs, the logical progression is to share our delusions of grandeur with the world, and conveniently enough, the nice people at YouTube, MySpace and Facebook are only too happy to aid and abet the process. To steal Carrie Bradshaw’s favourite (and possibly only) format, here’s my hypothetical question: are we evolving into a species of exhibitionists?

Perhaps the evolution of our obsession with public display has mated with the internet’s gift of anonymity. Wikipedia has a rather bizarre article (I know! Who’d have thought it) titled ‘on the Internet, nobody knows you’re a dog’, which sums up the whole anonymity debate in typical Wikipedia fashion (one of the best things about Wikipedia is the convoluted language born of attempts to discuss topics like X-Men comics, Craigslist and Britney Spears with a suitably academic veneer). And so the logical progression continued, breeding incidents like LonelyGirl15 and Fake Steve Jobs, until we get to my second Carrie Bradshawism of the day: in an era of anonymous exhibitionists, how do you pin down the value of a tweet?

Answers to be sent to my anonymous Twitter page please.

Posted in facebook, myspace, socialmedia, web2.0 | Tagged: , , | Leave a Comment »

The Peter Andre Effect

Posted by Emily on April 28, 2008

I wonder if there is a formula that can work out the exact length of time between simply losing interest in something and the point where the nostalgia kicks in. In order to work out this complex formula I’m sure one will have to take into account your age, the level of interest you had in whatever it may be and probably some fractions.

If there is such a formula, Cadbury knows it and isn’t telling us. If you are going to aim to market something based on nostalgia, you have to get the timing just right. If you don’t leave it long enough you just appear to be flogging a dead horse, leave it too long and anyone who remembers it will be too old to care anymore. Nostalgia, when harvested intelligently can rally even the most conscientious shopper, evoking in them a warm fuzzy feeling, reminding them of a time when they were younger, firmer and therefore happier.

Remember the Wispa? This chocolate bar was discontinued 5 years ago owing to plummeting sales, yet last autumn someone at Cadbury cracked the formula and realised the time was ripe for a revival. Well, that and the fact that there was a huge Facebook campaign about it. I would like to point out though, that not everything people campaign for on Facebook is worth pursuing, just in case you were wondering.

The limited edition was a phenomenal success and it is coming back permanently. The interesting thing is that Cadbury replaced Wispa with the same bar in 2003, just with a different name. No one wants that, they all want the original (identical) bar. It is clearly not about the chocolate then, nor is it about the branding (that has not changed). The only thing that has changed is the dewy-eyed look from the consumer.

The lack of interest that damaged sales in the first place has somehow transformed into spend-encouraging nostalgia and the latter is far more powerful than the former. The ability to turn apathy into public campaign is surely a marketing ability exclusive to those in brightly coloured tights and capes.

This is my warning then, be aware that nostalgia can make us all do crazy, irrational things by making us think that we enjoyed them the first time round. Do you remember a time, before a certain celebrity jungle show, that Peter Andre was just a distant memory? Look what your nostalgia has done. I hope you are happy.

Posted in facebook, marketing | Tagged: , | 2 Comments »

Data, Britney and Jeremy Clarkson

Posted by Emily on January 25, 2008

You don’t need to look very hard to find an example of a major data security breach in recent weeks. The subject has crashed into the news with an air of scandal that rivals that of Ms Spears herself.

Mike Howse (the EMEA MD of a company called Protegrity) articulates the root of the problem beautifully in a Computing column:

“Far too often companies and government agencies establish good data security policies, everyone signs off on those policies, and then does exactly what they want.”

In other words, the weakest link in the security chain is always your staff.

So here we are in the middle of a storm, but what should we do now? Should I panic and change my pin number? Should I write a strongly worded letter to the government? Should I start a campaign on Facebook?

Actually, I’m not going to do anything. Of course companies – and the government itself – need to comply with the law. Data security has to be taken very seriously indeed.

However my calmness comes from the belief that if someone really wants to steal from me, be it my money or my identity, they will do so regardless of the woeful incompetence of whatever organisation has left my address on a roundabout somewhere. This is an age when millions upon millions of people willingly give up their personal data to the likes of Facebook without checking out how secure it will be in their hands. This is an age when millions upon millions of people put documents such as bank statements and gas bills into the recycling bin without shreading them first.

But I warn you of the pitfalls of my blasé attitude. Jeremy Clarkson had a similar attitude to mine and arrogantly said that data strategy breaches were a “storm in a tea cup” in one of his newspaper columns. He was so confident that his money would be safe that he published his personal details in a national newspaper and threw down the gauntlet.

But in a beautifully poetic turn of events a benign hacker transferred £500 of Clarkson’s money to charity. The moral of the story? Lapses in data security are unacceptable, but they are not the only way to get stung. Apparently your mum was right when she told you to keep an eye on your purse.

Posted in facebook | Tagged: , , | 1 Comment »

Get distributed, or get out

Posted by Graham Hayday on January 18, 2008

An old colleague of mine once spoke to an IT vendor who had this recipe for business success: ‘Get big, get niche or get out.’

It is of course a massive cliché, and one we repeated ad infinitum in the office for some reason. But it still rings true in IT, and also in media.

Or at least it used to. These days, you perhaps need to add another ‘get’ to the equation – ‘get distributed’.

Jeff Jarvis (et al) has been going on about this for the internet equivalent of donkeys’ years. Using Google’s business model for inspiration, he insists that media organisations today have to enable their content to be distributed around the web, just as Google-driven ads appear all over the place. Google doesn’t care if you never visit the Google.com homepage; it can still make money.

How many media organisations can say the same of their websites? More and more are moving in this direction, and rightly so. A survey flagged up today by Roy Greenslade on his Media Guardian blog shows why. It reveals some interesting trends about American teenagers’ media consumption.

One of the study’s authors is quoted by Roy as saying:

“We found teens are unlikely to follow serious news online, but that they will click on news stories that appeal to them when they find them on other sites… Teen after teen told researchers that they’ll view news stories ‘if something catches my eye.'”

They may well take that approach into adulthood, so it’s crucial even for B2B sites to optimise their content for a web 2.0 world. I noticed today that the CNET-owned silicon.com now has a branded Facebook page. It may only have two ‘fans’ right now (both CNET employees…) but it is another example of a media brand distributing itself online. (They should have news headlines appearing there perhaps – or at the very least a link to the site! – but I’m sure that sort of thing will come. The Facebook presence of the consumer-focused CNET.co.uk site is much busier).

The report also found that teens are “drawn to news stories if they are presented with stimulating video or pictures, or if the topic is humorous or bizarre”. Maybe we need to add another ‘get’ to the equation then – ‘get multimedia’.

So… ‘Get big, get niche, get distributed, get multimedia or get out’. It’s not quite as catchy as the original, but it works for me.

Posted in B2B, facebook, MSM, socialnetworks | Tagged: , , | Leave a Comment »

Facebook: more popular with women than men?

Posted by Graham Hayday on November 22, 2007

A blogger by the name of Paul Francis is getting a lot of virtual love today for this – a breakdown of Facebook users by country and by gender.

He used the Facebook ad platform to garner the data, and admits that the stats are open to debate. Nevertheless, if you happen to be preparing a presentation on social networking and the like for a client and were struggling to find decent material for your PowerPoint slides, this sort of thing is like manna from heaven…  Thanks Paul.

If you’re after such information yourself, these stats from Comscore about European usage of Facebook (with a focus on the UK) may also be of interest. 

Posted in facebook, socialmedia, socialnetworks | Tagged: | Leave a Comment »

Can you plan to go viral? Why sex doesn’t sell as well as a drumming gorilla

Posted by Graham Hayday on September 25, 2007

I attended a briefing organised by law firm Fox Williams last week about web 2.0.

One of the presenters was Colin Donald of FutureScape (which is a company that advises on brand marketing via video social networking sites).

Colin made an interesting observation during his presentation, namely that you can’t really plan for a piece of video to go viral.

He gave three examples of companies that had attempted to use the likes of YouTube to spread their brand message – Dove, Levi’s and Agent Provocateur.

Dove got it spectacularly right with a video exposing the tricks of the beauty trade.

Levi’s got it horribly wrong. This video’s a fake, which is a big “no no” in the world of social media.

Agent Provocateur was somewhere in the middle – it filmed Kate Moss in a series of scenes (and in a state of considerable undress) which (susprisingly) didn’t really tap into the online zeitgeist. It didn’t reach that many people, and some of the comments suggested the clip wasn’t quite the titillating visual feast the director Mike Figgis was aiming for. One YouTube user described it as “creepy”.

The most recent example of a video that certainly did hit the sweet spot of social networking is Cadbury’s drumming gorilla. And that wasn’t even created for the web – it’s just a TV ad that was made available online and has gone viral in a spectacular way.

For evidence, look no further than Facebook – there are now over 5,000 members of gorilla-related groups there.

So is Colin right? Can you plan for something to go viral? My initial instinct was that he was wrong, and that you can plan for something to go viral.

On reflection, I think he’s right, and these examples prove it.

I’d have put money on a video featuring Kate Moss in her skimpies causing more of a stir than a man in a gorilla suit playing drums or a woman being photoshopped to perfection.

The online success of the Phil Collins-obsessed primate feels like a happy accident. Did Cadbury’s know this TV spot would go viral? Unlikely.

This isn’t just a matter of luck though. Obviously you have to make the content as strong (and, Levi’s take note, as authentic) as possible. Then – crucially – you need to give people the tools to make whatever they will of your video.

Let them comment on it, share it, mash it up – whatever. Then the great internet-using public will decide whether it goes viral or not. Giving up control like this is anathema to many CEOs and marketing bosses, as it is a risk. But it’s a risk worth taking. Just ask Dove.

Posted in facebook, socialmedia, web2.0 | Tagged: , , , , , , , , | 1 Comment »

UK ad body bans Facebook for its ‘formal business’ (no, this isn’t a joke)

Posted by Graham Hayday on September 14, 2007

The Insititute of Practitioners in Advertising (IPA) has banned its staff from using Facebook and any other social networking sites for business purposes.

The press release is here.

So that’s the trade body that is paid to represent the interests of the UK’s biggest advertising and media agencies (who are in the business of communications) banning what could prove to be the most significant communications tool to appear since the telephone. (OK, I’m exaggerating a teeny bit, but I’m still in a state of shock at the IPA’s decision). 

The rationale?

“The IPA believes that the lack of confidentiality and privacy involved in using social networking sites, rules them out as a means of carrying out IPA business.”

My favourite comment in the release is this:

“The IPA will however continue to communicate with its members and wider audience via e-mail, telephone calls, letters, e-newsletters…”

And carrier pigeon, presumably.

Posted in facebook, socialmedia, web2.0 | 1 Comment »

ITV hits corner flag while aiming for web 2.0 goal

Posted by Graham Hayday on September 13, 2007

“We can’t afford things not to be taken up en masse so we launch safe new features. We have a very practical approach to innovation. I wouldn’t say we’re not innovative, but that we’re only innovative in areas that we know will work.”

So said Jon Clark, the head of the ITV-owned Friends Reunited. And it’s an odd thing to say.

“We’re only innovative in areas that we know will work…”

That doesn’t sound all that innovative to me. Whatever happened to suck it and see?

I doubt Mark Zuckenberg thought along those lines when he launched Facebook. I doubt he knew it would work. It was simply an experiment conducted by a budding entrepreneur with no one to answer to other than himself. Success came by accident.

I heard Carolyn McCall, the chief executive of the Guardian Media Group, give the keynote address at an AOP event last year. She said that only one in 10 of the online experiments her company conducts pays off.

That’s a luxury the Guardian can afford, thanks to its ownership structure. No shareholders you see. And it works – the Telegraph’s beginning to catch up, but the Guardian leads the pack in the online newspaper space.

So is ITV prevented from experimenting in new media because it’s a listed company? Could be. The same could be said of Emap, which has pretty much missed the web 2.0 boat.

Then again Rupert Murdoch’s publicly listed media empire has done a better job of riding the zeitgeist, even if that has been achieved largely by acquisition (it bought MySpace in 2005). So maybe it’s just that ITV doesn’t ‘get’ this stuff. And looking at FriendsReunited these days, it’s clear that it doesn’t.

You want me to pay nearly £8 to get in touch with my old friends? No thanks. I’m off to Facebook.

Posted in facebook, itv, newmedia, newspapers, socialmedia, web2.0 | Leave a Comment »

Facebook ‘could be costing companies £130m a day’

Posted by Graham Hayday on September 11, 2007

Compare and contrast

Spooky.

Posted in facebook | 2 Comments »