Archive for the 'Social Media' Category

27
Sep
10

Whose space?

Over the last two years myspace.com has gone from 43 billion page views to 12 billion, and from 125 million unique visitors to 95 million. These numbers are a reflection of many different factors; but this coming October we will see a new and improved myspace. Or so one would hope, but things aren’t looking good. This week we hear the news that Vice President of Communications Tracy Akselrud has jumped ship less than a month before the anticipated re-launch. She isn’t the first high ranking myspace executive to have left during recent months – and I dare say she won’t be the last.

It seems that as the users drop away and abandon the site, so do the people who run it. This re-launch will either bring new life to the site and revive it or kill it off completely. The reason that I left myspace was that there was too much choice, too much variation from page to page, some profiles were difficult for my computer to load and it became an all round chore. It seemed even more arduous when you had Facebook’s simple and clear uniform style to compare it to. That’s where it seems to fall down: their product simply isn’t as good as that of their competitors’, it became too complicated and too much like hard work. That’s why myspace went from being the dominating force in the social media landscape to falling down a steep decline in popularity.

With the re-launch I hope that myspace will lean towards what it’s good at and not try to be all things to all men. Where I think myspace does a good job and always has, is providing a good platform for bands and unsigned musicians to promote themselves. If myspace has a future, I think it’s there.

The relaunch is set for October, so we don’t have long to wait and see what they plan to do; but it can’t be a good sign that another top myspace exec has left the company less than a month beforehand.

15
Sep
10

New Twitter is here…

New Twitter has arrived, and it’s said by it’s creators to be “An easier, faster and richer experience”. The new format will be rolled out over the coming weeks, so many of us will have to wait before finding out if any of that is true. We can however certainly form a fair idea based on the information readily available on www.twitter.com/newtwitter.

The new Twitter will consist of a split page. On the left will be the usual stream of tweets that we’re all used to and on the right your profile is laid out in detail, as are trends, lists and favorites. The most noticeable and useful thing about the new layout is that accessing the information in a tweet is apparently even easier than before. Say for instance somebody tweets a picture, you’ll be able to click the tweet, and the image will appear in the panel on the right hand side, along with any other comments. You’ll also be able to watch video in the same way.

The reason for these changes seems to be keeping the user in one place; instead of having to navigate away from the page or open a new window, you’ll be able to view all pictures and videos on your Twitter homepage. This certainly does sound far easier to use and you would imagine it to be quicker than loading a new page every time you want to view some tweeted information. However it also seems like an awful lot of information to have readily available on one page and I wouldn’t be surprised to see a lot of browsers and computers struggle with it.

Technical worries aside, as for as I’m concerned the new Twitter seems to be a great improvement: it’s taking a step from being a portal through which you can navigate to information, to being a more complete social networking site that you can quite simply do more with. It seems to me to be a natural progression; there might be technical hiccups along the way, but I for one am excited to see how this pans out and where the site goes in future.

Alex McDowall

10
Sep
10

Has Mr Murdoch scored a spectacular own goal?

MacBook Pro displaying The Times website.I’m an avid Times reader, from the headlines to the Cricket, and I’m especially rabid if there’s a new restaurant revue, or an opinion leader from Giles Coren, A.A.Gill, Jeremy Clarkson or Alpha Mummy.

It’s been almost five years since I had a regular subscription to a newspaper delivered to my house and, if I’m honest, quite a lot of that had something to do with The Times moving to the horrific tabloid layout that’s plagued its paper version ever since. I’m now a digital reader – I rarely buy a newspaper in print form, unless I’m travelling or fancying an idyllic weekend curled up with tea, papers and good books; something my iPhone and my obsessive e-mail checking syndrome almost always curtails.

As a digital reader I enjoyed Times Online, it wasn’t quite as pretty as the Guardian, or quite as interactive as the FT, but when it was redesigned I started to get excited. The layout was clean, easy to navigate and retained a certain sense that you’re reading news rather than just seeing news between a hundred flashing adverts, social media side bars and endless inane comments; but then along came Paywall Day.

Some predicted it would be like all the lights going out (you won’t be able to survive without it), others (sneakily calling themselves the majority) thought otherwise, but a month and a bit in, the Paywall hasn’t destroyed The Times, at least not yet.

The most obvious change was that the amount of articles, carrying significant amounts of user generated comment, dropped dramatically; the blame americans/europeans/arabs/the left (delete as applicable) ramblers and loons have been silenced, replaced instead by people that understand the importance of an argument and capital letters. Threaded comment system has also made it possible to engage users directly, resulting in branch topics and a real ability to pull up those who haven’t thought their comments through or are, in your opinion, just plain wrong.

The quality of the articles has also increased – almost all feature pieces have video, photo galleries and associated stories surrounding them; something that the previous incarnation of the site used to struggle with, So it’s here that I’m seeing the real value of the subscription; The Times is now regularly rivalling the BBC on the integrated nature of its copy, and that can only be an improvement to the often trivialised articles that appear as fillers on other news sites.

So it’s all good? Well not quite. There’s no denying, it’s a quieter site than it used to be – there’s still a significant amount of similar content available free elsewhere, and it’s clear that The Times is going to have to work hard to get people into its site. What is interesting is that with the exception of the initial trial period when the website launched there’s now no sample, no tasters, no giveaways – nothing, nadda, zip. If you want the Times, great, if you’re not sure they give no reasons to reassure. It’s this lack of a reason to buy that I think is their main barrier to increased subscription sales; only time will tell if Murdoch’s real conviction that content should be paid for acts as a limiter or an enabler for The Times. What is for certain is that other than rumours that other News International publications might follow, The Times is currently standing alone on the shoreline, and only time will tell if the tide washes over them or they change it’s direction.

01
Jul
10

Social media is taking the fashion world by storm

Social Media is changing the fashion worldNothing is sacred on the internet. In the past five years, social media has quickly changed the way we consume our news, run our businesses and interact with our friends. Fashion, once the least ‘techy’ of industries, has quickly adapted and evolved to take full advantage of ‘smart’ social media.

Style Rookie

Tavi is internationally recognised as one of the most powerful young people in the fashion industry. Starting her own blog at age eleven led to a quick rise to fame, which in turn has led to commissions for pieces with Vogue and Pop. She’s also worked alongside respected designers, like Rodarte.

Starting with a basic blogger account, this little girl has taken huge strides to capitalise upon everything that new media has to offer.

D.I.Y.

Many of the biggest shoe brands are now listening to their customers and giving them control over the design process. Interactive features from shoe companies like Nike and Converse let users create their own truly personalised shoes from a collection of white base models. Your own creation then arrives at your door a few days later. This simply would not have been logistically possible but a few years ago, and highlights the democratising nature of the internet.

Chictopia

“What are you wearing today?” is a question many of the fashion conscious hear a lot. Now you can share your own creations and combinations with the world, thanks to Chictopia. The concept is simple: Upload a picture of your clothing choices and share them with others. It’s also a neigh-infinite source of inspiration; much more so than you could possibly take in at a club or on the street. Users can filter by age, style, events, locations and body types – making sure that the content you see is what you asked for. The site is starting to be recognised beyond the digital world; a trend we expect to carry on.

ASOS

ASOS, an online only brand, is now a real rival to bricks-and-mortar Topshop and River Island. How? Though competitive pricing, extraordinary customer service, and by capitalising on the lunch-hour push. ASOS is thriving in a competitive market from a web-only base.

ShowStudio

An experimental group that has been utilising the crossover between fashion and the internet since the late 1990’s, ShowStudio is a success story that regularly falls between the gaps in fashion, art and technology. Masterminded by the photographer Nick Knight, the experiment has embraced the internet since its inception. Recently, the website ran a live, online interview that featured a transcript simultaneously alongside.

Burberry

As part of Burberry’s new Spring/Summer 2010 campaign, the haute couture brand has been paving the way with their online output. Recently showing their catwalk show online, in full 3-D, photographer Mario Testino has also shot an interactive catalogue of the new collection. Featuring models that seemingly step out of the screen upon a mouse click, the campaign is regarded as being the future of online fashion advertising.

Social media may have taken the fashion world by storm – but it’s a storm that fashion world has fully embraced. It makes sense: Fashion magazines have now been replaced by their new media cousins, democratising and personalising fashion and bringing it closer to customers.


Andrew Beedle and Anisha Chandarana are Junior Design Staffers at Vivid London.

Image credit: Andrew, Anisha and Conal Kelly, who is on work experience with Vivid London from the John Fisher School, Sutton.

17
Jun
10

Did you leave Facebook?

“Sick of Facebook’s lack of respect for you data? Then ‘Quit Facebook’ on May 31st!”


Of a worldwide user base of about 400m, roughly 36,000 felt strongly enough to sign a petition asking Facebook to change its policies, or face a drop in membership.

The furore about Facebook’s privacy was widely covered in new and mainstream media. It brought about a rare submission from the company – who have faced complaints from users about everything from changes in site appearance to missing ‘dislike’ buttons – into simplifying its privacy options.

Why? Because Facebook gets it – its active users make its business viable. The larger the user base, the more valuable the platform, the more targeted advertising can be sold, the larger the audience for brands to interact with. With each new genuine user, Facebook increases in value for its investors, advertisers, marketers and its users.

Which is why you probably clicked a link on Facebook to get to this post. You’re still there.

The platform adds value to your life by connecting you with far flung friends, old classmates and ex-romantic interests in a social setting that has never quite been captured elsewhere.

If you did leave Facebook, how would you keep up with what your friends were doing? Do you think they’d remember to create an ‘e-vite’ for their (massively oversubscribed but otherwise very fun) party? How about the pictures from said party – are they going to email around a link to their Flickr account? Send a round robin email to let you know which news story they liked the morning after? Probably not.

Facebook has changed the way that we as consumers interact with the internet. One-way communication was replaced by email; two-way communication was replaced by social media. The world’s a buzz, and you want to stay part of it. Social media has taken the social out of our email inboxes, personal homepages (remember those?) and instant messengers, and collated it in one place.

Who gets to see this data remains a sensitive topic – you don’t want to end up losing your job or flat because of a social network – but just how much super-private data are you sharing on the internet? Would you share the same information around the water cooler, in class or over a PA? If the answer is ‘no’, then you might want to rethink sharing it online.

Facebook’s overcomplicated, default ‘social’ privacy settings and its decision to switch all users to these settings can’t be excused. The company’s move to simplify privacy across the site is a significant waypoint in the development of social media – throngs of users are seeing the value of sites like Facebook each day, but platforms are now seeing the true value of an engaged and positive user base.

“Quit Facebook Day” may have been a flop – Facebook actually grew by 5.5m users in May 2010, and social media as a whole overtook search engines as the main destination for UK web users – but the concessions made by the company will have massive repercussions. Social media offers a real opportunity for brands to interact with their consumers, something platforms have encouraged as a means of monetising their services. This ‘democratisation’ of business has now made its first major impact on the platforms themselves.

Adam James Morecroft is PR & Social Media Associate at Vivid London

Image by Anisha Chandarana, Junior Design Staff at Vivid London.

29
Apr
10

Expecting fireworks?

The United Kingdom is currently in the grip of what is arguably its most important election for 25 years. The main three parties are a divided bunch. The Labour party, the UK’s current leaders, led by Gordon Brown are currently languishing 3rd in the polls. Then theres the Conservatives the official opposition, led by David Cameron. And finally, last but certainly not least are the dark horse’s of this election, the Liberal Democrats, led by Nick Clegg, and currently leading Labour in the polls, seemingly to the entire countries surprise. 


Now, I could go on about policies, but that is not the aim of this piece. I want to talk about how each party is utilising social media to further the message of their campaigns. Over the past week, I have been following each of the political parties, via their official Twitter feeds and Facebook pages, as well as through the general wider media channels, and it has to be said….nothing has happened.


Im disappointed by this, after all this is the 21st century and what easier way to communicate with the populace at large than by using the power of the 21st centuries greatest tool, the internet. I was expecting vast online debates, political mudslinging and smear campaigns from all sides. But nothing has occurred, at least nothing controversial. Even in the face of Gordon Browns “Bigotgate” not a derogatory word has been uttered from the official party Twitter feeds and Facebook pages.


The televised political debates have overshadowed the web, as all the ‘dirty laundry‘ of the campaigns appears to have been aired live on air, so why bother repeating it online? The public are much more hungry to see a fierce, visceral, verbal and live debate between the party leaders, than just an idle, sniping tweet or comment.

The sad truth of the matter is we were expecting fireworks and have been given a sparkler. The main reason for this is that the election race is currently so close that the main parties are unwilling to compromise the overall scope of their campaigns for the sake of scoring some cheap political points. The risk, and margin for error are just far too high at this late stage.


That said with the final debate due to be broadcast tonight, it will be interesting to see if in the week between the broadcast, and election day, any final shots are hurled online. The internet may yet have a role to play, only time will tell….


23
Apr
10

Should news websites be free of charge?

Picking up a newspaper each morning gives you the most essential bits of information about what is happening in the world around you – keeping up with changes in economics, politics, society and culture. But the UK press is changing. With the evolvement of social media and the rising power of the internet it is getting harder for the newspapers to maintain their readership.

Nearly 80% of the UK population now have internet access and use it regularly. Of those, 16 million people use the internet through mobile devices – to update statuses on various social networks or to catch up with the latest news. Twitter and co. make it easy to see what’s happening throughout the world right now – how are the newspapers supposed to keep up?

Over the last decade the newspapers have been engaged in a price war. The Times is a case in point as it has been constantly battling with The Guardian for both price and readership. However, recently The Times bucked this trend by putting its cover price up to £1.00 during the week, £1.50 on saturdays and £2.00 for the Sunday Times.

Furthermore, The Times and its complementary Sunday paper have decided to be the first published papers to charge for their online services with a £2 fee per week from June. This may come as a shock to their readers, and questions are already being raised as to how this will affect readership and if the website will yield a profit.

So, increasing the price for the paper and announcing a pay-per-view arrangement on their website, all within a few months – the stakes are high for The Times. However, they might not have made the worst decision according to a study by Baba Shiv, a marketing professor at Stanford Graduate School of Business. He argues that prices are changing people’s experiences of a product and therefore the outcomes from consuming this product. Research has shown that people are mentally influenced by the price of a product. For example, Shiv has shown that ‘people who had paid a higher price for an energy drink, such as Red Bull, were able to solve more brain teasers than those who paid a discounted price for the same product.’ Are consumers being psychologically deceived by pricing? If so, how will it affect The Times?


It is well known that people are curious. It’s human nature. But users will ask what is so different about the website, what does it offer that others don’t? This curiosity will drive traffic to both sites during the first few days of launch. After they have experienced the digital presence they will be more likely to consider a repetitive purchase of that service.

One thing that will happen is that the changes will reposition the newspaper in the marketplace. The Times has been known as qualitative paper and it will continue to create qualitative content. It promises to increase the engagement of its online users by offering the opportunity to talk to staff, writers and experts to create deep and intelligent conversation.

Should others follow in The Times footsteps? Only time will tell, the battle of gaining and maintaining both paper and digital readership will continue to change the landscape of the UK press as we have known it.


Lisa Beck




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