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.
The whole project looks like a great metaphor for organisations doing “social” badly: by externally “rebranding” Africa, L’Uomo Vogue manages to demean a whole continent while also continuing to assert a kind of outdated colonialism in proposing its own ill-informed solutions to complex issues such as Nigerian economic inequality (build a Rodeo Drive, apparently) and devoting full-page spreads to people like Diezani Alison-Madueke, Nigeria’s oil minister, widely considered to be one of Africa’s most corrupt politicians.
The “Rebranding Africa” issue of L’Uomo Vogue has not surprisingly upset a whole load of people. The irony is that the editors can’t see what all the fuss is about: they are “listening”, right? They are “paying attention”, surely? They are even “engaging” (see the response of Franca Sozzani, Vogue Italia’s editor-in-chief, to a blog comment, below).
The great thing about Pinterest is that it’s not only useful on a personal level, it has great applications for business – as Chris Brogan discusses in the clip above.
More than anything else, Pinterest is a search engine that will drive traffic to your site when used in the right way.
Kate Spade and Wholefoods are good examples of brands using the platform effectively. And you don’t have to be a manufacturer or retailer: Pinterest works equally well for spreading ideas, as organisations like The Guardian and Enough Project are showing.
Despite being a social media consultant, I’m a bit of a luddite when it comes to trying new stuff: not enough time or patience. But Pinterest grabbed me right away – mainly because we’d recently moved and I needed home furnishing ideas. Boom! An online moodboard that can be instantly added to and shared – how damn convenient.
Clearly a lot of other people think so too, because Pinterest is growing at a phenomenal rate – currently more than four million users worldwide. Eighty per cent of those are women (although uptake skews towards men in the UK).
First came blogging, then micro-blogging, now photo-blogging. We’re increasingly busy in terms of the daily information we need to process: if a picture paints a thousand words, ideas can be communicated in an instant. It’s no wonder applications like Instagram and Pinterest are of the moment.
It’s quite amazing the amount of vitriol 25 year old filmmaker Lena Dunham has attracted on YouTube. From “over-rated, self-indulgent [and] un-funny” through “Lena should wear shoes she knows how to walk in” to “I’ve dated this type..batshit crazy – RUN!”.
But Lena is into self-parody, so this stuff must be perfect fodder for her filmmaking, and for her upcoming HBO series, Girls (billed as a grittier, more stroppy Sex and The City so surely only a matter of time before it hits the UK).
Lena’s first feature, Tiny Furniture (trailer above), stars herself, her mum and her sister and is mostly shot in her family’s New York apartment on a Canon 7D. It won the audience award at SXSW two years ago and has been praised for its realism and honesty.
The film will be in cinemas across the UK from tonight (Friday). Believe me, if I had a babysitter, I’d be watching it!
I’m still trying to come to terms with the fact that fish and chips, our well-loved and former national dish (now displaced by chicken tikka masala) may eventually become a novelty due to rapidly depleting fish stocks.
So it was good to read about one small solution to over-fishing in Annalisa Barbieri’s piece in today’s Guardian. The solution involves, yes, wait for it, listening to fishermen.
While Annalisa decries the woeful inadequacies of the common fisheries policy and berates the EU for failing to do anything to change things, she praises the efforts of one local fishery in Devon that has succeeded in reducing the amount of discarded fish by 50%.
The fishery did this by talking to fishermen and actually involving them in the design of new nets. It did this through Project 50%, Defra-funded project which also used social marketing to get the word out. As one fisherman is quoted as saying:
“It was the first time that I’ve known a government organisation to work with the local fishermen and ask us how we could help.”
It sounds obvious, but it’s amazing how little of this listening we see – not just in government, but in our institutions generally.
My 4 year old daughter started school last week and there have been tears most mornings. My daughter’s teacher has told me we needed to do something about her “disruptive” behaviour. As we leave Lila forlornly in the classroom, screaming, it’s set me thinking about the whole “This is society, get used to it” thing.
I liked Fin Fahey’s Flickr picture because it sums up how I feel about the school: a gate sweetly inscribed “Girls & infants”, with graffiti and barbed wire all over it. The gate is padlocked and although it looks like this should be the entrance, it’s not at all clear how to navigate it.
It’s what business coach and facilitator Johnnie Moore refers to as the “come here now fuck off” approach. How many companies operate like this? Instead of making employees feel loved and cosy, they do just the opposite!
I’ve only browsed a few pages of the book but already I’m hooked. The basic underlying philosophy is that if you give children love and support and they will thrive; focus on results alone and you will alienate them.
I guess what Michael Parmly was pointing out is this: a little bit of love and freedom works wonders for all of us.