Posted tagged ‘social media’

Lost, 24, heroes… and social media

February 10, 2009

I’m terrible when it comes to television series.  Without fail, I’ll get halfway through a series of Lost, only to miss an episode and be forced to either watch the remainder of the series without the whole story, or wait for the DVD box set so I can start again from episode 1.  I’ve almost got to the stage where I’ve given up, a process where I ignore all adverts and shows to buy the box set straight away.  Anyway, my point is that the wait between shows has always been far too long, and I’m sure producers know this.  Yet, they are stuck in a catch 22 situation, they need to fill out a certain number of weeks for the networks, yet also need to keep the audience entertained.  Historically, view figures always tail off after the first few episodes for these reasons, so perhaps it’s time to find ways to engage the audience during the 7 day interludes.

lostWhy don’t the networks begin a social media campaign to keep viewers interested?  Have the key roles (played by copywriters, of course) writing twitter profiles in character to release new information, chat about latest happenings, answer questions etc.  Why not hide snippets of the next episode online, providing key bloggers with the opportunity to announce new information and to get behind the show?  Millions of viewers would be directed to their blogs, encouraging them to continue to talk about the series to keep the traffic coming.   Finally, why not have a website that allows viewers to interact with the computers in 24 during the show?  So when Chloe sends Jack a GPS uplink, we can view it on our laptops.  When a key suspect is profiled, we get to view the mug shot and information.  And then finally, you can take it offline, providing GPS coordinates and mugshots for special characters hidden in various cities that when found can provide cinema tickets, boxset goodies, or more in context experiential fun.

The opportunities are endless, I’m just surprised more hasn’t been made of this already.

A very social media Christmas period

January 5, 2009

I’m not sure if it’s right or wrong, but at least I find it interesting.  I’m talking about how social media relationships work over the Christmas period, and whether it’s perceived by the majority of people as a necessary pass-time during such a family orientated holiday or, more likely, as an anti-social behavior for the socially inept.  So what comes first for social media users, offline relationships with friends and families, or online relationships?

Many “non-tech savvy” people (read as normal people who don’t spend hours online each day) would be surprised at the activity levels online over Christmas.  Out of interest, I logged onto World of Warcraft on Christmas Eve (in between meeting the mother in law, followed by the father in law, followed by the fiance’s brother and wife, followed by having a meal with said fiance… Xmas was tiring..) and was surprised to find a huge number of people were choosing to spend their time with their online friends.  As I walked around, I was wished Merry Christmas numerous times, and left feeling all warm and fuzzy inside.  Following this, I logged onto a few of my frequented forums to, again, be happy to see people chatting away with their online friends.  In many of these people’s lives, their online friends are more important than offline friends.  No, this shouldn’t be seen as them being geeks, but it SHOULD suggest that online relationships aren’t just throw-away, part time and anti-social wastes of time, but central to people’s social calendar.  As work takes up more of our day, and the cost of living

I know it’s an old concept to some people, but I just thought I’d share the importance of social media as an intrinsic part of people’s lives.  For example, a good friend of mine recently spent Christmas in New York with his girlfriend.  They met playing Scrabbulous on Facebook.  My housemate met her boyfriend playing World of Warcraft and now are part of their own guild called “Just the two of us”.  Yes, sickening, but true…  If millions of people spend Christmas Eve online with their friends rather than being with their family then perhaps it should be realised how essential these online relationships are.

World of Warcraft wedding

Two gamers marry on World of Warcraft

Two gamers marry on World of Warcraft

Innovative blogging…from the womb

December 15, 2008

This has to rank up there with the most innovative, yet also the most pointless social media ideas out there.  Kickbee is a band worn by a mother to be which is filled with sensors and wires.  No, it’s not to monitor the babies health and well-being, it’s design is purely social media.  When the baby kicks, Kickbee posts a Twitter post to inform all concerned of the occasion.


Great idea, but it needs some improvement.  Why not conduct a scientific study to learn the “language” of a babies movements in the womb.  Rather than informing us that the kid has kicked, why not INTERPRET what it’s trying to say.  “It’s dark in here..” for example, or “stop eating gherkins with custard, I hate them!”.  Either way, I’d like to see some babies express militant views or dislike for public transport etc, just to lighten the long 9 month wait.

So where do we go from here?  Sensors on your stomach to inform people when you’re hungry, Brain sensors to tell your friends when you’re bored, maybe a sensor on your car to tell all of your friends when your car gets stolen.  Ok, most would laugh but a few may help. Maybe..  Hey, why don’t we hook our pets up so we know when they sleep, go outside, chase cats etc? That would be AMAZING. In fact, I’m working on it now.  Next stop, Radio Shack..

Reliability is key to your relationships

November 11, 2008

Building relationships is key to success online.  However, it’s not about a relationship with your target market, it’s about relationships with the individuals who take an active interest in you.  It’s not just about writing blog posts, it’s about conversing with individuals, giving them the time of day and just generally making them realise that you listen and are interested in them.  With your offline relationships, with friends, partners and family, you need to be trustworthy and reliable.  If a friend calls you in need, you need to be able to be there for them and the same goes online, but with different needs.

Your audience has needs just like everybody else.  I’ve had a few ideas, but let me know if you can think of any more:

– Information:  The need to be kept in the loop.  Tell them about future posts, changes to the blog, what you are doing this week, your favourite team.

– Entertainment: The need to have a new post to read when they log on.  It’s all about content.

– Communication: The need to transfer information and opinions between them and you.  Talk to them, email them back, add them to your Twitter feed, ask them questions.

– Self gratification:  The need to feel important.  Reference individual readers in your posts, talk about how great they are, or what they have done for you.  make them feel special.

To be reliable online, you need to be there for your readers.  If you can become someone’s “go-to” blog, the first site they check each day, you are on the road to success.  But for this to happen you need to always fulfill at least one of their needs.  The easiest need to fulfill is Entertainment, by publishing plenty of content.  However, the way forward is through experimentation to find what your audience need.  Have a go, it really is worth it.

The top mistakes for business blogs

November 5, 2008

How many times have you seen it.  Some business somewhere decides it’s a good idea to write a blog (probably about their steelworks, or maybe they have a new lint remover to sell…) to generate traffic to their landing page and generally make them a squillion dollars in profit.  However, we always see the same mistakes over and over again.  They are as follows:

– Assuming we are interested in posts JUST about their products and services:  Without interesting content to draw in your audience, people will stay away.

– Spamming hundreds of links all over the blog and Twitter profile:  Viewers will jump site the second they see several links in one post.  The same goes for Twitter, but on a larger scale.  Links on Twitter must be limited, but most importantly, of interest to your readers.  If they want to see your site, they’ll look on your profile.

– Weekly updates:  If you want traffic, employ an enthusiastic English graduate to write as many interesting and thought provoking blog posts each day.  Weekly updates just don’t cut it.

– One way information stream:  You’re not providing TV adverts anymore.  Your audience needs to be engaged, conversed with, treated well, have their opinions asked and just generally made to feel like they matter.  You need to have a flow of information to and from your audience, so use Twitter, Friend Feed, Facebook, YouTube and Flickr, and any other tool to keep in touch with your readers and encourage a two way information stream.

– Formal and rigid:  Finally, it’s important that you don’t sit at your computer writing blog posts with your business hat on.  Take it off, throw it away, chill out and and have fun.  Sure, you may be representing your business, but the medium of blogging allows (nay, requires) you to take more of an informal role.  People want to be chatted with, not presented to.

Harry Enfield

A good way to annoy your audience

November 4, 2008

If you’re writing blog posts, uploading videos on video sharing sites, photos on Flickr (et al) or providing any other content within social media, you need to know the one way to drive away your audience.  It all comes down to tagging.

I was just browsing through a gallery on a popular sailing site, looking for photos of the boat I’ve just bought (it’s a racing dinghy, nothing fancy or expensive!).  So I start with a search, and tap in the class of boat (RS800).  For some reason, the owners of the site decided to tag all photos of boats built by RS (200, 300, 400, 500, 600, 700, and 800) with the same tags.  So rather than getting 20 photos returned of the subject I’m looking for, I now have 500 photos of several different boats to wade through.  Why do people do this?

Why do people do this I hear you ask (or was it me who asked)?  It’s because they think that filling the tag column with several hundred random tags will pull a large amount traffic back.  It’s the blunderbuss approach, and it doesn’t work.

key-west-2007-1763The blunderbuss aproach involves filling your wide barrelled shotgun with bird shot and blasting a wide area hoping to kill a duck.  The problem is, it’s so unspecific it drives off new audience members quicker than Ronald McDonald at a Vegan festival.  You’ll annoy your users, new members will run away, your site will choke with so many search results being returned, your wife will leave you (probably) and you will regret ever trying the blunderbuss approach.

Only ever tag your content with the correct tags.  If you want to reach more readers, then write more blog posts, upload more photos of a wider range of subjects, vary your videos, and just generally supply a wide but interesting (and by that I mean in depth) range of content, correctly tagged.  Don’t be tempted with over tagging, it is a quick fix solution that fixes nothing.

Heat mapping, and knowing where people look

November 4, 2008

Knowing what people do on your site is paramount.  Very often your mental image of your audience (intelligent and wealthy 20 somethings, eager to spend money on your must have electronic lint remover..) can be a little innaccurate (no-one is interested in an elecronic lint remover), so knowing what these people ACTUALLY look at when browsing your site is nearly impossible.  Do you have adverts and banners, or maybe an RSS feed that you want your audience to look at?  Well how do you know if it is well positioned?  Sure, we can see the links people click, but having this visualised over a period of time provides a huge amount of useful information that simple tools such as google analytics can’t provide.

confettiHave a look at  Crazy Egg is a service that provides tools such as “Confetti” click tracker and heatmaps that show the “hottest” parts of your site.  It lets you know the areas that are most effective, and the cold areas that people just don’t seem to care about.

What I really like about Crazy egg is that it’s so much more advanced than Google analytics.  I’ve worked for clients before who have just used analytics, and whilst you get to see a fair bit of information regarding traffic, you only realise how in-the-dark you are when you eventually use tools such as Crazy Egg.

With the information provided by Crazy Egg and a bit of brainstorming you can invent some fairly interesting strategies to increase your site profitabilty.  Here are a few I’ve thought of:

– Find the “hot” areas of your site and situate value adding sectors there

– Compare various site layouts over a period of time to find the most successful strategy

– Online ROI can be difficult to prove, so use heatmapping to demonstrate to your clients the interest your promotions receive

– Use heatmapping to demonstrate the ineffectiveness of banners and to promote social media marketing

– Return the favor to your audience.  Provide information on their own heatmapping, and direct them to areas they may be interested in.

I’m sure there are many more ideas out there, but the moral of the story is that Crazy Egg is a tool that could prove very, very useful.


Cursebird: New and rude tool for Twitter

October 31, 2008

I’ve just stumbled across a new tool for Twitter:  Cursebird.

Very basically, Cursebird is a Micro-blog like Twitter, that streams all Twitter posts that contain swear words.  Built by Richard Henry (, it’s a simple concept that is beginning to recieve quite a cult following.  Man’s nature of loving that which is taboo has given cursebird a cult status, providing hours of enjoyment (and a long list of new words not to be said in front of Grandma) for it’s users.

Now, I’m not one to promote profanity (quite the opposite actually), but the concept of Cursebird will have many impacts on the social media market.  Why can’t companies use similar technology to stream up-to-the-second updates for any Twitter posts that contain brand names or brand specific market conversation?  I can think of ten ideas that can use Cursebird’s technology to benefit a brand’s marketing and research campaigns.

It will be an interesting site to follow, so long as your boss (or grandma) isn’t looking over your shoulder..

Quality, not quantity

October 2, 2008

How many times have you heard this? My guess is, many. However, it’s so very true that I thought I’d reinforce it, but in the medium of social media.

Ok, lets have a look at a scenario. You’re in a pub full of people. Everybody is talking around you, but it’s difficult to listen to everyone, so your brain naturally blocks it out to avoid the annoyance. However, a respected acquaintance walks over and engages you in conversation. Your brain switches on and you listen intently, providing your own opinions on the matter and engaging the guy in conversation. This is very similar to how it works in social media.

I was on Facebook today, and a friend of mine (a keen blogger) had some HTML code that publishes all your blog posts onto your facebook feed. Every second item on my feed was a blog post from this guy, with a link. It was far too much information, so my eyes looked away and my brain ignored it.

When you’re trying to market online, don’t swamp your customers in emails, constant updates, banners, pop-ups and unit after unit of information. What you have to do is be the person who they respect, and are interested in what they have to say. Be that man in the pub that everyone likes to talk to, the one with all of the stories, the anecdotes, the quick wit and the approachable nature. But make sure you listen to what they say, help them talk to others and drive value back to them. You mustn’t always sell to them, you have to give them something back, something to make them feel comfortable with you and to prove that you aren’t always trying to take their money away. What they want is content. It’s all about the content.

Emails are like Christmas

October 2, 2008

Was is it about emails that are so exciting. Sure, I receive hundreds of emails a day, but the majority are simple status updates from staff and general low content stuff that needs to be read but are fairly similar day in, day out. However, I absolutely love getting back from a meeting to find several emails waiting to be read, and then scouting through them looking for something exciting or new.

Everybody has a need to receive regular updates, whether it’s your Mum or Dad calling from abroad (or even around the corner), finding out what your old friends are planning or even how your favourite sports team is doing, we love being connected. I think it’s this constant desire to be connected thats driven the growth of social media. We all loved recieving post back in the day, and then emails and text messages, so it’s been a natural progression that has driven our desire for more regular updates using social networking (Facebook and myspace), blogs and forums.

However, after spending a day at work, regularly checking Facebook, reading friends blogs and surfing through forums, I’ve begun to wonder if this is all going to get a little stale. If everybody continued to use status updates such as “making a sandwich”, or inane blog posts, we would all lose interest. However, social media is constantly changing and re-inventing itself. There is a reason businesses struggle to work within SM, and that is the fact that trends change in an instant, new ideas are created every second, and things are always moving on. As a business, you can’t hold it down, you have to grab your preverbial surf board, paddle for your life and then enjoy the ride (and hope like hell you don’t get bitten..)

By the way, we make surf boards…