Monday, 17 May 2010

Diaspora: A Newer, Friendlier, More Open Facebook?

I'm really excited about Diaspora.

After the massive (mostly justified) hoo-ha over privacy settings on Facebook over the past few days, hearing about this new, *free* (i.e you keep your private data private) open source social network is a real breath of fresh air, and could potentially be bad news for Facebook, which has yet again been rocked by new privacy allegations, after some cheeky scamps made a site that exposed just how public your data is.

(as a sidenote, it's interesting to see the 'I'm not racist but...' status update/misinformation is spreading very quickly. Looking at the way racists use social media looks like a bit of a dissertation-in-the-making).

The way I see it, Facebook is essentially a very old company posing as a new, cutting edge company. It is a glorified mall for you to hang out in, and whilst you can have fun with your friends in it, you get the sense that, well, it isn't really yours. This counts for brands as well. The whole experience seems to be run like a lease, and the landlords aren't very responsible with your information, farming it out to every site on the web in an attempt to seem open and honest - although not with you, the user. You want to leave? Fine, but we'll keep your information forever. Hey, you should have read the small print.

You may not be able to get your information back (yet), but you can pack your bags and go elsewhere. And if you are a brand? Well, then you can build a neat, bespoke social page that will really stand out.

Until then? Well, my advice is to basically share less if you don't feel comfortable.

Sunday, 16 May 2010

Why Social Media Experts Make Me Vomit!

I wish that I could say that I don't know, or haven't met anybody like this in my line of work before. It's part of the reason that I set up this blog (apart from showing off, obviously).

Social Media coverage, interest and chatter is reaching saturation point at the moment, and a lot of former 'SEO/Viral Consulants/Experts' (read: chancers) are hopping on the bandwagon, trying to lure you in with a lot of touchy-feely Innocent Smoothy-style marketing guff, basically telling you how fun it is to talk to your mates, and buy stuff, and keep in touch, on the internet. Really, you don't say.

So, to get back to the reason I set this blog up: I believe that everybody, whether they are a business or a normal person like you or me, can master the art of business on Facebook and Twitter. It's not rocket science, and you don't need to pay a company like this thousands of pounds to make your online presence nauseating. It's a sham. You can learn these skills. It just takes a bit of time, and a bit of reading. I will share as much as I know with you as I can. I'll tell you what I think is cool, and how to do it. I'll tell you what I think is shit. I'll be a bullshit filter for you if you want.


Hope so.

Friday, 14 May 2010

Tweeting: Don't be a Dalek, just be yourself!

 I was having a good chat with my mate Sam this afternoon about the role of Social Media in eCommerce and the music industry. Sounds like a hoot (no pun intended), doesn't it?

Obviously, I won't bore you with the finer details, but the conversation started after a discussion started by at the way we Twitter, and how some companies and invividuals within them just refuse to understand Twitter, and just insist on shouting prices and information at people like a modern day sales gestapo.

This should never be the case. I mean, nobody really wants to shop with somebody who is just going to tell you to buy their product, or just fuck off? Unfortunately, that's how some businesses operate online, just barking offers at people and broadcasting prices at them whilst saying 'out now!' or 'buy now!' Real stores are, for the most part, not ran by Daleks. So why operate like this online? Why replicate the products you can find in a shop, but not the good customer service and product knowledge?

Be The Local Guitar Shop, Not The Music Superstore

One of my favourite places to hang out when I was younger was a guitar shop in Southampton. It wasn't the biggest, or cheapest guitar shop in town, but you could get a good deal if you paid in cash. The coolest thing about this place though wasn't it's products, or prices - it was the fact that you could go in there, hang out, play guitars and talk to people about music (which in the late 90s was pretty shit - remember Gay Dad? Space? Catatonia? You get the idea). The staff were friendly and knowledgeable - they clearly loved hanging out and playing music all day too. And you could spend a few hours there, only leaving with a 50p plectrum or some strings. But you had a good experience, and you'd definitely get all of your guitars, strings and things from that store. Not because it was the cheapest, but because you had a relationship and a loyalty to that store.

So, in short, in the online world, where you don't get the benefit of face to face contact, you need the next best thing - a friendly, helpful online presence. One that helps, and respects people rather than pissing on their goodwill by shouting prices at them. We can see what the price is. And you have to sell a lot more of them if you don't help out and be yourself around them.

My Picks Of The Week:

Nice Pair of free Moby Downloads from his last album (disclaimer - I work for Ministry of Sound!):

Nice bit of dirty Dutch house from Silvio Ecomo & Chuckie - Moombah (Afrojack Remix)

A Classic from The New York Dolls

 Another cracker from Burns

And finally, this wicked free download from Disappears - Gone Completely - pure Iggy-esque carnage!

Have a great weekend!

Thursday, 13 May 2010

Carpet Right Customer Services FAIL - A Warning from Facebook

Just a quick note to any companies and customer service reps out there who happen to be reading this blog - these days, you can't put the phone down on a customer and expect the feedback to go away.

Facebook and Twitter haven't created negative feedback - they've merely given people a wider platform. If this issue would have been nipped in the bud with an apology, a bit of empathy, and some reassuringly good customer service (you are, after all, talking to a human), then this message probably wouldn't have gone out!

Wednesday, 12 May 2010

Social Networking: It's Your Privacy, It's Not Free!

Just a quick follow up post to my earlier one about the problems with Facebook hiding our updates from the newsfeed.

One recurring theme that I have come across in many forums and blogs is that Facebook, Twitter etc., are all free services, as we do not pay a flat monthly fee, or get charged a pound or a dollar whenever we sign in. Therefore, when it goes wrong, we should shut up and take it.

In one sense, that is true. In another, it is so wrong it's laughable.

Social media is inherently and potentially costly. We are providing these massive companies with a wealth of personal information in exchange for using their services. Although this is something that I have no real problems with. What I also don't take issue with is that Facebook then make money out of our personal data by charging marketers to target their advertising towards us. That's part of the deal - read the terms and conditions.

What I do have a problem with, however, is the assumption on some of our parts and their part that we have no say in any changes to privacy, or mistakes in their service, as we are not paying customers. WE ARE PAYING FACEBOOK - we have paid them with our name, location (just wait until they unleash their Foursquare-killing geo-tagging service at the end of this month), email address, likes and dislikes (spread even wider now with their new open graph 'like' buttons), and we have invited our friends to get involved too.

So, next time you have a problem with Facebook, don't be afraid to be a nag. Shout loudly, complain, blog, Twitter. Because you are a paying customer, and you deserve a better level of customer service! Don't be afraid to rock the boat to get postive results.

And before I retreat to my Threads-esque underground paranoia bunker, can I just say that I can guarantee: if a major record label tried this kind of sh*t, they'd be nailed to a cross.

Monday, 10 May 2010

Facebook Newsfeed Down For Some, World Waits For Answer (Well, Geeks Like Me At Least)

*UPDATE: Problem appears to be sorted, although stay tuned for more updates.*

Just to give you all a quick update - logged onto Facebook This morning, only to find that the previous healthy chat and posting and response rates on Facebook had all but died.

The reason? Our updates are not showing up in our fans newsfeeds! Why?

After searching the FAQ's, the 'help' centre, all of the possible sources, Facebook haven't dignified us with a blog posting or a response, as they clearly think because they have a free service, we should just put up with the bad customer (that is what we are - we have paid them by providing them with our personal information).

According to this page, Facebook will have the problem (with the servers) fixed by this Friday (the 14th). For users (and brands), who, like me, who like to keep their fans updated of the latest info, this is not good enough.

We'd like this fixed now Facebook, so please pull your finger out and get back to us. You owe us all an explanation.

Just remember that you are well within your rights to complain - it is not a free service, you are paying them with your personal information, which they are making money from.


Friday, 7 May 2010

4 Reasons To Not Leave Social Media To Your Intern

Facebook? Check.
Twitter? Check.
Myspace? Check.

Ok, you've got all of the social media bases covered if you are in the music industry. But the important question besides 'What do you do with it' is 'Who will do it?'. It's s difficult question to answer, and sadly, one that many labels have not quite figured out yet. Here are a few tips.

Don't Broadcast: To some labels, Social Media is seen as a broadcasting system for their latest releases - so they send out several messages about releases, tours and events an hour, often saying the same thing, to an increasingly pissed-off audience who are not beholden or as financially invested in the label as you. So, in short, they will leave. This can be fixed with proper social media training and implementation.

Don't leave it to the intern: To a lot of labels, social media is seen as secondary to all other forms of communication, and is often palmed off to an intern. THIS SHOULD NOT BE THE CASE. Social networks are your main point of communication with your biggest fans - they like you. They want to be given more reasons to like you. They want value. They want cool music. They are your core audience, and core demographic. Surely they deserve a bit more than a few spammy status updates and some broadcasts dictated by an intern. Give your fans value (communication + exclusive content), and they will love you even more.

Listen and learn: Just remember that it's good to talk to your fans, and involve them in your decision-making process. I mean that - don't just pretend to listen - that's possibly the most annoying thing you can do, and you will shed savvy fans quicker than you can say 'BUY THA NEW BIEBER SINGLE ITS DA BEZZT LOLZZZZZZ'.

But most importantly, be yourself: If you are a balls-out rock and roll label, ACT UP! If you are a serious minimal techno label, APPEAL TO THE TRAINSPOTTERS! You have a lot more in common with your cans than you think - so don't be afraid to chat to them as your equals. Chances are, they'll think you're pretty cool, so don't be afraid to recommend other bands and other labels. It's a conversation starter, and a way to gauge what your fans are in to apart from you. Using your fans as A&R? That's the true power of social media my friend.

Ben's music picks of the week (favourites old and new):

The Chemical Brothers - Swoon (Parlophone):

The brothers back on form? You'd better believe it. Loving this delicious slice of electro house with a bit of a classic Beloved-esque vocal refrain thrown in for good measure. HAPPY FUN TIMES!

Burns - Technique EP:

burns- teknique from Thomas Bachellier on Vimeo.

Can't find any clips of his upcoming mix album 'This Is Burns - European Sex Music Vol.1', but it's out June 7th. This is pretty damn hot, and we're going to be hearing a lot from him this year.

Rad Omen - Rad Anthem

RAD OMEN - "Rad Anthem" from Nicholaus Goossen on Vimeo.

You can download this bad boy for free from their bandcamp site. It's brilliant, but the video is even better. Genuinely unsettling, but in a good way.

Wednesday, 5 May 2010

5 Tips for Social Media Productivity

It's hard to stay focused on your work in the busy environment of the music industry at the best of times. There's always a song to be heard, an artist to interview, or a new deadline that you already needed to have out of the way by yesterday. Chuck social media into the mix, with the multiple Twitter/Facebook/LinkedIn/Myspace interactions that are needed to work effectively, and you are already in for one hefty dose of screen time. And that's not even taking into account your Smart Phone.  

It's tough, but sadly that's the way that work is. As some people say, you don't go to work to do work, you go there to get interrupted. But that doesn’t mean that you can't get your work done promptly, effectively and without the minimum of fuss. You have the right to join the online conversation with your brand, and you also have the right to do it without interruptions. After all, it's how you get the best results. Here are a few steps to achieving the best social media environment. 

  1. Go Mobile: Can't concentrate at your desk? Too much conversation, or too little conversation? Then why not move? Hop on a laptop, or head to another part of the office where you know that you won't be disturbed. Make sure you take a to-do list though, to keep on track, AND to marvel at how much more you can get done if you are sat somewhere interesting, without the world and their mum staring down your neck.  

  1. You don't need email/chat when you are social networking: Let's face it, we've all been in that situation where we're working away on a project/talking to users/writing a blog posting, when the little blue box in the bottom right of your screen appears with another 'high priority' email from the office worrier about a project due in two months time. But we still read it. And then respond to it. And then another. And another. Before you know it you're updating Twitter, Facebook, Myspace, your HR department, your manager and your partner's best mate on your various goings on. FOCUS! Get rid of the interruptions - shut outlook, shut MSN, focus on one browser window. You can either do one job well, or several to a competent level. Choose the former. 

  1. Still can't think? Go for a drink. Chained to your desk? Need to think of an idea to boost a Social Media campaign for one of your artists? Sat under some striplights  staring at an empty desk and some toilets? Nice one, that's possibly the least inspiring place to sit and try and come up with an idea that will get fans and artists excited and connected. How can you correct that? Well, it's a lovely day outside, why not go for a walk around the block? Why not go and chat to a colleague about their day? Grab a drink of water (not coffee), and go and sit somewhere quiet with a pen and a pencil. Don't 'think outside of the box' - leave the bloody thing! 

  1. Explain: Explain to staff members what you are doing. Some might get a bit annoyed that you initially take a bit longer to respond to their  emails, but stick to it if it works for you, keep calm, and explain what you are doing. Or maybe even set up an away message saying that you will respond to their email in a pre-defined time window.  If you're half the dude I think you are, then you'll come back with a wicked answer to their query that required a lot more than the usual two seconds thought you give to an email. 

  1. Listen to something cool: Whether it's a podcast of your favorite music (my current favorite is the Hospital Records Podcast), or maybe one of the wicked interviews over at Big Think,  listen to something that will get you thinking, and listen to something you enjoy. Who knows, the idea for your next campaign or blog posting could be hiding away there, so keep your ears open. 

Got any more for me? Then chuck a few words my way in the box below...