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Facebook, the future and us

Facebook has 2.2 billion users. It owns Instagram, WhatsApp and Messenger. Four out of 2017’s most-downloaded iOS apps are owned by Facebook. It’s controversial Open Graph (an API that gave advertisers unfettered access to to user data) was shuttered in 2015 but replaced by the even more powerful Facebook Audience Network.

There’s Facebook Connect, which allows users easy log-in to third party websites. Facebook even has profiles on people who don’t use Facebook. To many people (as has been said many times), Facebook is the Internet.

If this last week has taught us anything, it’s that our data – the data we put into Facebook (and other social networks) has real, tangible value. Corporations and politicians are buying and selling it. And sometimes it gets into the hands of people we don’t particularly like.

How do we make this stop? I don’t know, but I do know it’s not as simple as #deleteFacebook. That seems all too much like putting your fingers in your ears and singing loudly.

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Techmums TV on Facebook Live

This week on #techmums TV: using LinkedIn to get a job

Yesterday was one of the most fun working days I’ve had in a while: I got to spend the morning with a group of brilliant, funny and talented women, putting together a live TV show at Facebook HQ. Thanks so much Sue Black and Isabel Chapman of #techmums for having me :)

The topic was “how to find work online”. I was on there to talk about using LinkedIn, understanding your digital footprint and building a personal brand. My fellow guest was the amazing Charlotte Pearce who runs a marketing company called Inkpact which sends handwritten notes at scale. Inkpact employs around 400 “scribes”, many of whom are mums working from home.

In the photo you can see me (second left), sharing a giggle with Sue (far left), Charlotte (second right) and Isabel (far right). One of the main aims of the show is to talk about technology in a way that is positive and accessible.

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Design Jam at Facebook London

Big Brother is watching us – he wants to play nicely

Andy Warhol said that in the future we will all be famous for 15 minutes. George Orwell predicted constant surveillance. Maybe it’s only with hindsight that we see these two things as inextricably linked: our “fame” always comes at a price.

Online social networks offer us free connectivity and the ability to broadcast edited versions of our lives. In exchange, we give them our data. Trouble is, the details of this contract have never been clearly articulated or explained, much less negotiated.

Last week I went to Facebook’s new office in London for a Design Jam. The Design Jams are open innovation – a series of hackathons to help Facebook users better understand, improve and navigate the legal complexities of its website.

Facebook is understandably concerned that it may be losing younger users and that hours spent on the platform are declining. Last week’s event focused on data transparency for young people.

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The BBC Breakfast studio in Manchester

Did Kylie Jenner kill Snapchat?

Last Wednesday evening celebrity Kylie Jenner tweeted that she wasn’t really using Snapchat any more. By Friday, Snap Inc’s share price had dropped $1.3billion and the popular news websites were screaming that Jenner had caused it all:

…and so on.

Around midday Friday I got an email from BBC Breakfast asking if I’d be prepared to come on and talk about celebrity and social media. Well, of course I would. So that’s how I came to be sitting in a studio in Manchester’s Media City at the sort of time most Saturdays I’d still be in bed, chatting to presenters Jon Kay and Rachel Burden, and showbiz reporter Lucy J Ford.

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Snapchat growing up

Is Snapchat growing up?

Snap Inc has posted better than expected quarterly results. With its share price up 20 percent on the previous quarter, and daily users of its social platform Snapchat now at 187 million, the company seems to be defying critics who said it couldn’t coexist with Instagram.

Revenue is also up: the company took $286 million in advertising income in the year to December 2017. Snapchat recently simplified its advertising platform, making it easier for brands to access the network. These changes appear to be paying off.

Snapchat seems to be bucking the trend which has seen daily use fall at arch rival Facebook (owner of Instagram). At a time when social networks in general are coming under attack for failing to deal effectively with fake news and trolling, Snapchat’s focus on entertainment and ephemerality has clearly helped to shield it.

Snap Inc has been criticised in the past for aspects of its corporate culture. Its apparent lack of diversity and refusal to publish breakdowns of gender and ethnicity among its employees have led to the company being accused of arrogance, sexism and racism.

In 2014 Snap CEO Evan Spiegel came under attack when a series of offensive emails sent while he was at college were leaked online. He made a public apology. Last year, he married supermodel Miranda Kerr in a quiet ceremony. The couple are now expecting their first child. Maybe Snapchat, like its CEO, is finally growing up.

NB: If you were up bright and early on 7 February you might have caught me discussing these points in a live interview on BBC World Service Newsday.

Photo: Annie Spratt via Unsplash

Wordpress - audience

How to be famous on social media

On Tuesday I went to a school careers fair to talk about working in social media. Nearly all the pupils I met (aged 13 – 16) were already active on social networks like Facebook, Snapchat and Instagram; a couple had their own YouTube channels.

Some of them asked me how to become an influencer. They were keen to monetize their presence like Zoella or KSI. One of them wanted to know how to ‘be famous”. Most had questions about how to make the jump from using social media for personal social networking to using it for work.

Here’s the advice I gave:

1. Yes, there are YouTubers and celebrities who’ve become famous and made millions from their social media profiles. They probably make up less than 1 percent of people who earn a living through social media. Many of these (like Paris Hilton or Kylie Jenner) already had money and networks of privilege to help them. Others (like PewDiePie or Jenna Marbles) have become leading influencers through their own unique style and delivery – and sheer hard work. It’s not impossible but the odds will be stacked against you.

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Sparkler by Morgan Sessions

Health, clarity and purpose: my resolutions for 2018

We’re about to enter the Year of the Earth Dog.

Even if you’re not into Chinese astrology, you might be vaguely interested to know that 2016 was the year of the Monkey (trickery) and 2017 the Rooster (wake up call). Now it’s time to be true to yourself with the loyal, dependable dog.

The Earth Dog is about honesty, fairness, integrity, healing and stability. And who’d say no to a bit of that?

This is good, because I’m starting 2018 with a two month sabbatical. After 18 months solid client work, I’m finally free to pause and take stock. Reflection is important: it’s a great time to acknowledge and celebrate the good stuff while also learning from the bad.

So I’ll start by shining a light on the things that really matter.

Here are my five New Year resolutions for 2018 (if you see me, hold me to them).

1. Appreciate more

Take time to do more for the ones closest to me. Especially my family and those that have loved and looked after me in recent months. My mum turns 80 in February so we’re taking to her to Tromsø to see the Northern Lights. The past two years have not been easy for my sisters so I’m going to spend more time with them. And my daughter has got used to her mum not being available, so I’m looking forward to doing more with her. First stop is Alice in Winterland. And we’ll be hopping on the District Line to our fave free museum, the Victoria & Albert, for Balenciaga and of course, Winnie-the-Pooh.

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Laura Ockel

You’ve made an influencer list, now what?

Getting influencers to talk about your brand isn’t easy. You need to be part of the online conversation to make an impact, and it’s tougher than ever for mainstream advertising to be the watercooler topic it used to be.

Because of this, global brands are relying on paid influencers more than ever. This relatively new market means a star like Kim Kardashian can command up to $500,000 for one Instagram post. Even celebrity pets are getting in on the action.

Back in the real world

But how do things work for the rest of us? With most businesses now using social media in one form or another, it’s important to amplify messages and engage with customers, users and stakeholders. Influencers are a great way to do that. But for financial, strategic or ethical reasons you might not want to pay.

Putting together an influencer list is relatively easy. From compiling a simple wishlist of people you’d like to see talking about your product or service (if you know your market well, you can probably do this off the top of your head) to using a paid social listening tool like Brandwatch or Affinio to take a deep dive into audience habits.
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My Tweetdeck home page with search columns added

How to track brand mentions using TweetDeck

If you run marketing campaigns, manage a product or service, or develop policy, you’d probably like to know what people are saying about the thing you work on in real time.

There are many ways to do this but my preferred tool is TweetDeck (above). I like TweetDeck because it’s free, it focuses purely on Twitter (still the go-to channel for breaking news) and its desktop alerts enable you to keep on top of what’s happening – with minimum disruption to your workflow.

In this blog post I’ll show you how to track brand mentions by setting up a simple keyword alert using TweetDeck. The whole process shouldn’t take you more than five minutes.

1. Go to Tweetdeck and log in with your Twitter account. It does’t matter how regularly you use Twitter, or how many people you follow – TweetDeck simply needs your log-in to access the Twitter firehose. (If you don’t already have a Twitter account, you can set one up here).
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Pepsi image wall in Brandwatch

Image search: the next generation of social listening

As video and images come to dominate social media, social listening tools need to adapt. It’s a sign of the visual times that Brandwatch is introducing logo recognition to its monitoring dashboard.

The new “Image Insights” tool (see this guide for info) allows users to find images shared on Twitter that contain their brand’s logo – or those of their competitors.

For big brands, this is exciting stuff.

If you’re Pepsi, for example, you’d be able to see that your logo has featured in more than 8 thousand images posted on Twitter in the last 28 days. The screenshot above shows a selection – this is exactly what Pepsi’s marketing team would see on their new Brandwatch dashboard.
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