Posts Tagged ‘social’

The End of the Gag?

October 21, 2009 Leave a comment

My very first post on this blog proclaimed – “The day new media overtook traditional media”. I saw the Iran Election as the clearest example of how, in today’s world, using the technology available, it is nearly impossible to (easily) control the spread of news or incidents if people care enough.

Last week, the Trafigura – Guardian fiasco broke …not in the traditional press, they had already been gagged from reporting it, but via journalist Alan Rusbridger’s tweet . The result was the Twitterverse went into overdrive and soon, Trafigura was one of the top search terms throughout Europe. The company realized they couldn’t control the spread of the message, pulled their ridiculous gagging order and everyone was free to report the facts.

One conculsion and one question.

Conclusion – Social media is not a joke or fad anymore. Those familiar with the space have known this for a long time, but the sneers and jokes regarding Twitter persist. Alan Rusbridger summed it up best himself,

“Twitter’s detractors are used to sneering that nothing of value can be said in 140 characters. My 104 characters did just fine” .

As with the Iran Election, the Sichaun Earthquake, Obama’s election campaign and now Trafigura we are seeing examples of the power of social media and how cumbersome it can make  traditional media look.

Question – Will companies keep issuing gagging orders against traditional media now they know that there are plently of ways to get the message out using social media? Will cases like this nudge us towards greater freedom for the press and old school journalism?

Sorry, that was two questions!


The young aren’t using Twitter?! Who is surprised?

August 11, 2009 Leave a comment

There were quite a few posts flying around last week about this, for example this from the and ‘why teens don’t tweet’ from Mashable. Surely, people aren’t surprised about this.

(I am going to generalize about young people a bit in this post) Most young people don’t see the need for some digital social networks because they have their physical ones in full operation. Everyday at school they are seeing, pretty much, ALL their network of friends. They all have mobiles so are using them to chat, text and exchange lurid images. There is nothing that a social network can offer that will drastically improve their social life…so why bother? The real-time engagement that they get from physical and mobile contact means they don’t need to do it on the social web. When you were at school, how many friends were you in regular contact that you didn’t actually see at least every week? Not too many.

As soon as they start to leave school or their social circle becomes more disparate, ie when they go to college or enter the job world, the value of a Facebook becomes much greater. Also, as you get older your social circle increases and you need a repository for that data. Young people should maintain their real social interactions as long as possible but as we all know, eventually your connections and friends start to spread out.

Twitter is becoming a breaking news and social search platform. It is aiming to let users “discover what is going on in the world, right now”, which again, the young don’t really care that much about. The social platforms are maturing and finding their own identities and purpose, so its unrealistic to think all demographic of user is going to adopt every social network available.

Young people are no different to any other age group. They use the communication and connectivity tools which give them the most social value at that point in time.

How social customer service can create a $900m company

July 24, 2009 Leave a comment


Big, big things. Amazon buy Zappos for around $900m . I am fan of both companies for different reasons. AmazonI like, because I buy stuff there and have always had a good online experience doing so.  I have never bought anything from Zappos but still love them. Why? Because how they conduct their customer service and social engagement is the benchmark for how all brands should ‘be’ online. However, $900m is some serious coin and I think highlights that Amazon are buying something a lot more valuable than Zappos’ annual revenues. They are buying a blueprint of how to win using social media.

A good article here from Eric von Coelln  (thanks to @lebrun for the link) shows that Amazon has the far larger, and more talked about brand in the social web, so they weren’t buying numbers of followers or fans – they already have that. What they needed was Zappos’ ethos to social engagement to leverage that opportunity as much as possible.

Amazon won’t dream of diluting Zappos’ brand into Amazon’s and they have kept (I think) all the management and staff so I think they will be spending some solid time looking at the company in action and replicating it as closely as possible within their current structure. A combo of Amazon’s product line and reviews/purchase history data coupled with Zappos’ customer service ethic = if I had any money I would be buying Amazon stock!

Its getting harder to control the message

Clay Shirky did a great talk at  just prior to the election in Iran, have a watch here . Plus a follow up Q & A article on the connectivity of people on the web today. In his talk, he uses an example of the Sichuan earthquake in China in 2008. Twitter had real time updates and broke the story before the mainstream media. Amazingly,  he points out that, “the last quake they had prior to that, took 3 months for them to admit they had even had one!” China have filtered the web for over ten years but the great firewall wasn’t built to stop information being sent out of China to the rest of the world. If you have a message to get out – you can, wherever you are in the world.

A key change in the media landscape is summed up by Clay Shirky’s comment of “media is global, social and cheap”.  In a business context, this presents a huge opportunity for brands and companies but a potential disaster if they ignore it. They will have to accept that the customer and communities will influence what information is circulated. With a limited number of media channels, companies used to be able to tell their customers what their brand was and what it stood for, now the customers define what a brand is.

Individuals within groups are more connected than ever before and consumers are relying on their connections and consumer reviews to make key purchasing decisions.  Whatever type of experience they have or read about will be spread throughout their communities and companies need to get a handle on this so they can use it to their advantage – they really have no other choice.

I think there are 4 main components (but I have no doubt these will change!)

Digitally optimize their company online. This covers the corporate website and how that should look and feel, the purpose of the company blog (if necessary), social media profiles which can be maintained and add value.

Listening to the conversations online about their company, competition, industry. They can then work out how to position themselves, how to market to the customers, what the market sentiment is, measure the trends. There are more and more tools for this cropping up each day and I will list the ones I have been looking at in a future post.

Talking to their customers and in a way that will add value to the community and individual. This needs to involve the whole company from marketing, PR, customer service, research and internal communications.

Engaging the community and the individual. A repeatedly good user experience will eventually lead to advocacy. The lateral communication which is now possible within any web community means that a few, loyal customers can help spread your messages wider than traditional push campaigns ever could.

The week the web overtook ‘old’ media?

June 17, 2009 1 comment

iran The last few days have been historic in  Iran. It has been amazing to watch, and  more amazing is the fact we have been  able to watch! I think we have witnessed  not only a major point in history for Iran  as a nation, but also a watershed moment  for the web vs traditional media.

As soon as protesters started taking to the  streets after Thursday’s election results,  the media channels were quickly stifled. Foreign journalists were sent packing and the state run media channels went into propaganda mode. Ten years ago, that would have been that in terms of information flow. However, in the last few days we have seen a generation of people who have grown up with the web, use it for exactly what I think it was invented for – communication and interaction with the rest of the world. Using Twitter, Facebook, Flickr and various blogs, some via proxy IP’s as the government tried in vain to stem the flow of information, the people of Iran with the help of Iranian exiles have let the rest of the world, and the traditional media, see what is actually happening in Tehran.

The youth of Iran, which make up 60% of the population, will for the rest of their lives see the web, and the websites and tools they have used over the last few days,  as their way to communicate and source information to and from the outside world. Having had state controlled media for so long, I would be very surprised if they ever see TV, Radio or press as their primary source of information in the future. They will rely on the collective wisdom of real people exchanging information on the web.

There have been many articles and an uprising on Twitter, criticising the traditional media’s coverage and Brian Solis writes an excellent post on Techcrunch , reporting on the 140 Characters Conference (#140conf) in New York. I think Ann Curry’s comment is particularly telling, “…we have to look at whether or not mainstream media is covering the world fast enough and the answer is no.” She then concluded, “Should we be? Yes. But, right now, we can’t keep pace.”

Traditional media will not be dying out anytime soon, which is a good thing but the gauntlet has certainly been thrown down for speed of delivery of breaking news. We still need to filter out the unwanted noise and the bullshit which inevitably finds its way into any online conversation and many have been quick to question how much we should rely on social media as a ‘trusted source of information’ and to an extent I agree. I think the difference here is that the posts on the social media sites are being used by the traditional media. So, I am guessing the professional journalists and broadcasters have done their usual checks and deemed the content worthy.

The social web has democratized information meaning traditional media channels are not the only gate keepers to trusted content anymore.

Hopefully future posts will be more business, brand, PR, marketing, research, future of social media-esque and I think all of the issues above can be related to businesses and how they need to operate in the online world. The balance of power in a marketing and branding sense is shifting (and quickly) from the company to the consumer. It is no use shouting at or interrupting customers with traditional advertising and marketing techniques as future consumers will see right through all the bullshit…and then tell their mates about it! Brands need to be more human in their approach.

Listening to the conversations of customers, talking in the correct way to those that want to talk and energizing the ones who really give a shit will create so much more value.