Posts Tagged ‘Twitter


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

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


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….


Social media is bollocks

It’s a truth universally acknowledged that people in marketing will exaggerate, obfuscate and complicate to make basic services that rely on creative force sound far more complex than they really are. It’s the ‘Witch Doctor’s’ pretext that sold plague “cures” 500 years ago, and the sad truth is, there’s more people out there doing it today than ever before.

A day doesn’t go by without some utterly fatuous piece of research proclaiming social media as the only way that anyone is ever going to get any message across in the 21st century, but really, we’ve heard this before.

In the 80s it was FM and aspirational TV adverts that moved away from ‘buy this now because…’ prevalent through advertising since the first recognisable adverts. In the early 90s it was quirky adverts on TV with magazine-spread teasers mixed with a new mode of public relations. It’s modus operandi was to make an advert so odd it’ll get press coverage but won’t necessarily have anything to do with the product (a la Tango et al). And finally as the millennium passed and we moved into the naughties it was first ‘the internet’ and then ‘social media’ that became the words advertising, marketing and public relations agencies flourished around.

Every second graduate is now claiming they’re a social media executive, while all they’re really doing is taking press releases and cutting them down to 140 characters for Twitter, missing the point of interaction altogether. The vast majority of these practitioners are simply rehashing their Media Studies training, putting out the same old ideas on a new platform hoping it’s the platform that’ll make the difference.

This is of course only compounded media willing to publish anything with a buzz word in; the result? Dodgy article after dodgy article heralding ‘new ways’ of talking to consumers using social media as the messiah platform.

It’s not. The platform is irrelevant, it’s the message and the audience that matter.

While undoubtedly social media has changed the way that brands talk to consumers, and will continue to change the way people talk about brands, services, companies and their advertising, it’s just another platform. TV changed the way people interacted, so did the telephone, so did the Web1.0 internet, to think that Web2.0 social media is going to be any more or less influential is silly.

Concentrate on the message, listen to the feedback, and if they’re good, thorough, and appropriate for the audience you’ll win every time. So the next time you see a percentage thrown randomly into an article about social media, consider where that might have come from, think hard about why it might be there, and always read the small print; because often it’s not saying quite what you think it might be saying on first glance… because after all; that’s what witch doctors do.


Social Media is more than a ‘buzzword’

‘Buzzwords’, ‘all the rage’ and ‘in vogue’ – all fashionable terms that strive to describe a new trend. Their deeper meanings remain obscure for most of us, but anyway, we like using buzzwords because they make us feel really cool when we say them!

Social media, like Facebook and Twitter, is a good example of what a buzzword can be. It’s new, maybe a little bit foggy, but oh so trendy.

The most surprising thing about buzzword phenomena, and especially social media, is the speed with which they spread. Like a virus that spares no-one, it has succeeded in seducing all but the most resistant people in a very short time. Even our parents, who are hardly recovering from sending their first text message now have their own Facebook profiles.

But we all know that fashionable trends tend to have quite a short half life, so should we be waiting for the moment when the pandemic will end? Obviously, it won’t. Then why are we still treating ‘social media’ like a buzzword?

Malcolm Gladwell can give us part of the answer in ‘The Tipping Point’. This is the magic moment when a social behaviour crosses a threshold and begin to spread irreversibly. Because almost everyone now belongs to a social network, the opportunity cost of not being part of the phenomenon is rising.

Just like other new technologies before them (remember the fax machine?), these things gain credibility because of their early adoption rate. This real utility, due to the amount of people interacting with each other, has made social networks invaluable.

Social media’s ‘Tipping Point’ came about when people stopped subconsciously seeing it as a fashionable trend and started using it for intimate communication. Facebook’s own ‘Tipping Point’ came with the development social gaming.

It’s clear that ‘social media’ is no longer a foggy, fashionable buzzword. It’s about business: integrated marketing and communication strategies now need to reach out on these platforms to reach their objectives.

Social media has definitely overtaken the ‘buzzword level’, it helps advertisers to understand customer behaviour like never before. Advertising messages can now be targeted on a much more personal level, making the brand message tailored and relevant for each consumer.

‘Social media’ is ready for the ultimate recognition: an entry in the dictionary.

Camille le Goff


Banning your spokespeople from direct engagement: What football needs to learn

Manchester United, the world’s largest and most financially successful football club, has come under fire in recent weeks for tightening its public relations policy, particularly in regard to direct player/media relations. In real-world terms, this basically means that as a club, Manchester United are restricting, or completely eradicating their players’ social media activity.

Wayne Rooney, Ryan Giggs and Darren Fletcher all had high profile and regularly active Twitter accounts, and whilst nothing particularly revelatory was gleaned from these by the worlds media, they were nevertheless shut down.

Manchester United even went as far as drafting a statement that simply read:

 “The club wishes to make it clear that no Manchester United players maintain personal profiles on social networking websites. Fans encountering any web pages purporting to be written by United players should treat them with extreme scepticism.”

This only added to the suspicion that the club itself had acted to restrict its own players freewill. Of course, at this point it must be asked – What spooked Manchester United enough to carry out this rather extreme action?

The answer to that lies with Sunderland United and England Striker, Darren Bent. In July 2009, Bent was negotiating a transfer from his then-club Tottenham Hotspur to Sunderland United. During these negotiations, Bent used his Twitter account to criticise Tottenham’s chairman. Daniel Levy for delaying the process, as well as openly tweeting to his followers the exact details of the negotiations. Bent eventually signed for £10million.

Larger clubs, however, took note. Manchester United’s management chose to take the action of effectively gagging all of its players, by insisting that they delete their various official Twitter and Facebook profiles so that it could handle effectively control its PR message.

But maybe they’ve missed a trick here. From a business perspective the club may have done the right thing, rather than let an individual potentially (even unwittingly) reveal the clubs inner workings and secrets. They have taken the matter into their own hands. To the outside world, this move appears like an overreaction and seems intrusive, as it is taking away an individuals’ right to express their opinion by denying them access to that platform. The club should have instead taken over and maintained these accounts, or simply vetted them. That way to, the outside world, their presence is maintained, but it is managed internally.

Some would say that this could be seen as misleading, but I would say that it is simply good business. If anything, the recent events surrounding Chelsea and England defender John Terry have shown that football and indeed all high profile sports teams now more than ever need to manage the PR presence of their stars, because letting them manage their own affairs, could seriously damage their own reputation.


Why should I care what you think?

I’m angry, no, really – I’m furious, livid, apoplectically incandescent and foaming at the mouth. Why? Because the black cab firm I called to get me into work this morning were 30 minutes late. But they weren’t just late, they were lying about being late – ‘it’s-800-yards away-and-just-around-the-corner-stuck-in-traffic’ suddenly turned into ‘it’s-not-been-dispatched – at all”, so I’m rushing; like a mad thing I’m on the warpath for another ‘for hire’ light. When it happened… I tweeted.

Oh yes, I tweeted. While hot under the collar, I was boiling, stirred up, hopping mad, and I tweeted about the dishonesty and incompetence of a named company, and I know I’m not alone. It’s becoming a regular occurrence: I don’t think you can log onto Twitter or Facebook or any other social media site without seeing some update or another from an irate contact venting their spleen about one corporation or another in a very public forum.

While I’m the first to admit that this morning’s tweet isn’t going to bring down the PLC in question, and it probably did nothing to affect their reputation with 98% of all of my online contacts, it has left a permanent black mark online against their brand. An unhappy customer – never the easiest beast to tame – has found a new pedestal to bellow from. Unlike the newspaper letter columns and occasional consumer interest programmes these articles online, however short, last forever and are completely searchable.

The important question here is how brands are going to deal with this real time online assessment of their work and services? As part of my on-going series looking at crisis management I’d like you to think about social networking and why you should care what your customers think and say about your brand online.

The first thing to consider is immediacy. Brands no longer have the cushion of time to soften the blow of criticism. If you upset, offend, or let someone down in the digital age, you’re likely to be hearing about it sometimes before they’ve even left your building or your website. They’ll be on their mobile device, or tweet platform online, leaving real time feedback.

The second is that even if there are only a few negative comments, these will be archived, mashed-up, searched through, aggregated onto other social media sites and tagged on, for days, months and years to come. And there’s probably nothing you can do to get rid of even the most misleading or over-inflated grievance.

So what do you do? If the answer you’d like to hear is run away and bury your head in the sand, you’re about to be awfully disappointed… The simple fact is that you can’t. You’ve got to engage, which doesn’t mean arguing with nutters, nor does it mean answering every query ever aimed at you online (although if you could do the latter you might find you do your brand the world of good). Instead get your brand online and start to answer questions, follow up on complaints, and link up with people that advocate you and evangelise your brand. This means that you’re able to be part of the conversation – remember, you can’t control it, but being part of it is the first step in starting up an open dialogue. In the end this will keep your customers informed, show that you’re open for feedback and most importantly make them feel loved.


Social relationships on Twitter

Social relationships on the internet are peculiar things – because so much of our interaction is based on being able to hear and see people the sort of social interactions when all you can read is text is very much an evolving medium, and one which is surprisingly fragile. One of the great tricks of working on the net – and this is true whether it’s email, websites or through social media like Facebook or Twitter, is tone and approach.

Here’s a handle on how to play this:

Instigating conversations versus stalking

Social media is based on trust, and surprising as it seems an understanding of a form of “personal space”. People get very sensitive about being approached on a commercial basis unless there is an established relationship first. So there’s a clear difference about responding to someone who asks for a recommendation in your field of expertise (which is instigating a conversation) versus tweeting someone out of the blue based on content in, for instance a blog post (which comes quite close to stalking).

It’s important that you don’t stalk; firstly, because people won’t like it, but almost equally as important because that’s what spambots do, and you want to be seen to be a human being, rather than a machine who wanders round the web looking for keywords to spam people with.


This is exactly what social media is about – an incentivised contact taking something of value to them and spreading it round their circle of known (and therefore hopefully friendly) contacts. We do not need to retweet their retweet because it is both wasteful (their friends are not our friends, so there is no real value achieved; if their friends are our friends, they get the message twice) and again feels a bit bot-like.

Syntax and grammar

Force majeure, Twitter enforces a clarity of thought and expression, simply because it confines people to a very few characters. That means you shouldn’t waste characters on things like your brand’s website address. You can certainly drop the “.com” element; it may even be preferable simple to shorten the whole thing to a link and not mention the name at all, especially since your brandname is usually your username.

Taking time to learn all this

Social media is essentially an attempt to turn a face to face conversation (which we are evolutionarily adapted for) onto a very rapid, wide broadcast, text and visuals only medium which we has only been around for a few years. It is in constant transition and takes time to learn.

Jonathan Blanchard Smith
A strategic marketer with a range and depth of international experience, Jonathan is Managing Partner at Vivid London. He coaches at executive level and lectures on cultural integration with specific reference to cross-border mergers and acquisitions. Past chairman of a national patient advocacy charity, he also chairs the board of a technology company and a number of committees.

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