Category Archives: News

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

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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Vizia 2 featured content

Beautiful data visualisation – the way to employees’ hearts?

I did a 5 minute talk the other day as part of a Show and Tell. The talk was on the Twitter account I’d just re-launched, why I was doing it, and what I hoped to get out of it. After the talk one of the internal communications team came over and asked if he could put some of my slides up on the digital screens around the building.

That was great – a result – some engagement! And someone was actually listening to my talk. But of course I started thinking about how relatively unexciting the slides were and wishing I could put be putting something really eye-catching up on those screens.

It’s increasingly common for businesses and organisations to have display screens in their reception areas, lifts and other high-footfall parts of the building. This internal network (aka digital signage) needs content. And not bland corporate videos or 1984 style maxims either. These screens need something that grabs the attention, engages and entertains.

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Fajer Qasem - project manager at GDS

A career in tech is for everyone

The Government Digital Service (GDS) turned five years old this week. As part of their birthday celebrations, the team tweeted a series of one minute videos. I love these birthday videos so much, I wanted to keep a log of them here.

I’m presenting to my local school’s Code Club next term – it’s a really diverse group and I want to talk about careers in technology and help them believe that these types of jobs are for everyone. Women and people from black or minority ethnic (BME) backgrounds are still under-represented in STEM roles. These videos will make perfect little demos.

Code Club is a brilliant way of teaching children to code, and giving them that empowering idea that they can build anything they want. But it’s also an introduction to the concept of a UK digital industry.
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Me with Sue (left)

Collaborative, fun and deceptively simple – that’s the power of #techmums

I’ve had a nice time over the past few weeks delivering not one but two #techmums programmes. The #techmums course is made up of five modules: Google Apps (Gmail, Google Drive and Google Docs), app design, web design, social media and coding (Python). The ethos and approach is simple: have a go, enjoy yourself, don’t worry if you don’t know everything (none of us do).

I first met #techmums founder Dr Sue Black (above left) ten years ago at a Google Women in Tech event – we got chatting and became friends. Since then, Sue has saved Bletchley Park, written a bestselling book and become an OBE. But she still remains the same warm, funny, down-to-earth person – now committed to doing whatever she can to share her success with others and open up technology to everyone – especially women who may lack confidence because they’ve taken time out of work to raise children.
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Royal Holloway - Founder's Building

Social media – the art of digital storytelling

On 3 December I gave a lunchtime seminar at Royal Holloway University of London. The brief was to give an overview of social media marketing and also talk about how social tools are being used in other aspects of business, such as CRM and project management. Here are the slides: Social media – the art of digital storytelling.

Royal Holloway was originally a university for women – men weren’t admitted until 1965! The Founder’s Building – in all its Victorian gothic glory – is quite amazing. It wasn’t snowing, as in this beautiful pic, but it was cold enough. I hope to get the chance to visit again soon.

Photo: S Tore

Spying on your kids online is not the answer – my piece for Vodafone’s Digital Parenting Guide

Vodafone Digital Parenting No3 p9Big thanks to Alison McClintock and Sunday Publishing for asking me to write a piece on kids using social media for Vodafone Digital Parenting – my article’s on p.9 of the latest edition (download full PDF). There’s loads of other useful stuff covering everything from online bullying and stranger danger to interviews with Jamal Edwards and six digital media moguls under the age of 21. So, this guide is inspirational and practical at the same time. If you’ve any friends worried about the effects of digital media on their kids (and mainstream media does its best to hype up the issue), please help spread the word and pass this link on.

From shorthand to live-blogging: my Liebster Award (part I)

That's shorthand for...
Thanks so much to the fabulous Events Northern for nominating me for a Liebster Award. The Liebster award is a peer-to-peer award passed around the blogging community. And there’s nothing like a bit of appreciation from your peers – Events Northern, you rock!

Here’s how the Liebster Award works:

Thank the person that nominated you and link back to their blog
– Display the award “badge” on your blog
– Answer the 11 questions asked by the person who nominated you
– List 11 random facts about yourself
– Nominate up to 11 bloggers and let them know you have nominated them
– Set 11 questions for the bloggers you have nominated
– Post a comment on the blog post of the person that nominated you so they can read the post

So, first off, here are my answers to Events Northern’s questions:

1. When and why did you start blogging? I started blogging in 2005 when I was commissioned to write Monkeys with Typewriters. The thought of writing 80,000 words terrified me so I had the idea of interviewing people and writing up each one in a blog post. The blog posts became the first draft of my book.
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