Category Archives: Opinion

Dan meets Kate in The Circle - screenshot from All 4

When the catfish wins, everyone loses

I’m so gutted for Dan! He seemed like the one straight-up, trustworthy guy on Channel 4’s new reality show, The Circle (screenshot above). But Dan got nothing but public humiliation while his fellow contestant, Alex (aka “Kate”) walked off with the £75,000 prize.

In case you missed the show, which ended last night on Channel 4, here’s a summary: 8 contestants are holed up in an apartment block for 3 weeks, only able to communicate with each other via social media (using a specially made platform called The Circle). Every day they “rate” each other: the highest rated contestants become “influencers” and choose another contestant to “block” – or expel.

Fatal attraction

Dan and Kate quickly became friends, but Dan is being fooled. Kate is a catfish: she’s not a girl with a sweet face at all, she’s a “social media comedian” called Alex. At the end of 3 weeks, the highest-rated person wins. That person ended up being “Kate” (in part thanks to Dan’s consistently high ratings).

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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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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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Resistance is fertile. Especially on social media

Last week, a single tweet from the Antarctic gained 9 thousand retweets in just a few days. Data scientist Linda Zunas organised an Antarctica march on Saturday 21 January as part of the global Women’s March.

Zunas’ tweet shows a photo of her colleagues on board their expedition ship, preparing for the march.  Each of them holds a placard with a message: “Men for the earth”, “Save the planet”, “Seals for science” or “Penguins for peace”.

Zunas’ photo neatly sums up the diversity of voices that the Women’s March came to represent. It was a phenomenal protest, spreading across 7 continents and attracting more than 2 million people (some estimates say 4.8 million). And it was all started by an Hawaiian grandmother who posted an idea on Facebook back in November 2016.
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free hugs by ken green

A tech manifesto for love and peace

If you’ve read many blog posts, either here or at interactiveknowhow, you’ll know I’ve always liked to see social media as a force for good: a means of helping us become more transparent, open, collaborative and connected.

Of course, social media is also a marketing tool. And it’s interesting that angry, divisive, polarised messaging is doing so brilliantly at present. In terms of truth and openness, November 2016 will go down in history as a seminal month: the month no-holds-barred emotion officially became ‘better’ than actual facts.

In November, ‘post-truth’ became Oxford Dictionaries’ word of the year as we saw our world go full ‘Black Mirror’.  Donald Trump credited Facebook and Twitter with winning the US election, social networks struggled to control fake news, Silicon Valley witnessed the Tech CEOs’ nightmare – a president totally at odds with their values, and, oh yes, Tila Tequila was suspended from Twitter. I’m quoting that last one not so much for the absurdity of a forgotten celebrity making headlines again but because someone suddenly thinks it’s ok to be neo-nazi.
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Are brands ready for Instagram Stories

Are brands ready for Instagram Stories?

Social media consultants used to talk about the difference between “broadcasting” and “listening”. You don’t hear that so much any more. One of the reasons Twitter isn’t the fun it used to be is the reversion to broadcast across so many profiles. (Combined with the rise of trolling – which makes Twitter like a party full of bores and bullies. And who wants that?)

One reason brands broadcast is because they can’t actually “listen”. Not in the true sense of the word. You can have all the monitoring systems you want, all the data gathering, all the analytics, but you can still completely miss the point.

Like puzzled parents trying to chime in with their kids’ conversations, or the proverbial dad on the dancefloor, many brands may need to face up to the harsh reality that they can never really be cool. At least, not that cool.  Not achingly hip, blink and it’s over, cool.

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Jacqueline Gold on Twitter

The Top 100 UK CEOs on Twitter

However faddy influencer marketing might have become, the concept of influence is a useful one – anything that gets us away from vanity metrics (Get me 1m followers now – I don’t care who they are!) and onto something more meaningful has to be a bonus.

Influence is a metric social media marketers can actually work with – and something non-experts can easily understand. Well, hooray for that.

This week Brandwatch soft-launched Audiences, a product that trawls data from user bios and content on Twitter to bring you instant, real-time insights into who’s leading the conversations that matter to your brand.
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Burberry's Christmas 2015 campaign on YouTube has been viewed 12.3m times

Less is more: the social media strategy of luxury brands

Christmas is coming – and luxury brands’ coffers are getting fat. We’re feeling festive so we’re happy to wallow in nostalgia and fantasy. And what’s wrong with that?

Luxury brands do their marketing very differently from everyone else. Whereas for most, social media is a matter of engagement, luxury brands have a different type of relationship with their audience: it’s all about aspiration.

So while an inexpensive fashion brand like (say) George at Asda might be super-chatty and responsive to its audience, Burberry will remain aloof, letting fans and followers do the talking. This is the “velvet rope” approach – discussed in detail in a panel I blogged at London Social Media Week.

This strategy of exclusivity is well-illustrated in a recent report from Brandwatch: Social Insights on the Luxury Fashion Industry. The report analysed more than 200,000 Twitter conversations around luxury fashion brands and found 99.63% of mentions (tweets, replies and retweets) came from consumers, with posts from luxury brands’ Twitter accounts making up just 0.37% of the conversation.

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Lemn Sissay at TDCMCR

If marketing’s a conversation, why is everyone shouting?

Just back from Thinking Digital Manchester. And the over-riding message was for us to all turn off our devices and go and do something more interesting instead.

Yes! From a digital conference!! You don’t go to digital events expecting to be told to go off-grid and head for the hills, but the most awe inspiring speakers in Manchester seemed to do just that.

Whether it was “digital obesity” from Eddie Obeng, Stephen Waddington talking about the Internet being full of sh*t or Tom Chatfield warning that all our time risks becoming the “same”, the loud and clear message throughout was that the digital (marketing) industry needs to take a proper look at itself in the mirror – because it’s getting kind of ugly.

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Vacancy by Lauren Mitchell

5 things I learnt as an Airbnb Host

For the last six years, we’ve used Airbnb regularly for holiday accommodation. This summer, we decided to take the plunge and put our own property up on Airbnb for rent.

I like the idea of the sharing economy. And I like any organisation that supposedly puts community and social connections at the heart of its business model. So, was the Airbnb hosting experience all it’s cracked up to be? Here’s what I learnt:

1. It’s surprisingly easy

Airbnb has a lovely website. The images are beautiful, the navigation’s clean, and the interface is refreshingly simple and (third party) advertising-free. It costs nothing to “list your space” – and you can do it at the click of a button. Airbnb will even send round a free professional photographer to make your home look extra nice.

It all feels relatively safe and easy – if you’re anything like me, you might give it a try, just to see what happens…
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