Tuesday, 22 January 2013

How not to promote a sponsor on Facebook

Bad Status Update

Do I really need to say more about the picture above?

I think that this is pretty cheap on so many levels.

We all know that radio stations have a number of responsibilities towards their commercial sponsors, and rely on them to keep the station financially viable and on the air.

It's not arms trading; it's how the stations stay on air and remain profitable, keeping people in work. I think we can all accept advertising in one shape or another. We're grown ups.

I handle commercial posting for the radio stations that I work for, and the number one reason I turn down requests for social postings from a commercial client is if there is ZERO benefit to the listener on a social platform.

What benefit does this have to the user? What response did they expect to illicit? 'Oh, look, Belvita have breakfast biscuits that come in five different flavours! Quick, honey, get my coat! I might be able to get down to the store in time to get some.'

Show me the person who says that and I'll get a marker pen and draw the word IDIOT on their heads in capital letters.

This doesn't have any benefit to the end user. It looks like it's been 'pushed' (a term that I hate, as social media marketing is not akin to drug dealing or pimping) on the user, it jars with the rest of the content of what is an otherwise fine radio show.

I don't 'Like' a page on Facebook to be talked at about a product that has nothing to do with the show that I tune into.

And I'm sure that most people don't for that matter.

Thursday, 17 January 2013

Facebook Graph Search: Not a giant-killer, nor should it be

Facebook Thing

Earlier this week, Facebook launched a service that was (apparently) bound to raise a few eyebrows. It’s latest product, being touted as a future ‘pillar’ of the community by good old Zuck, is a search engine that plugs into and uses the full power of your social graph. It’s called Graph Search.

You can search for content, and find content that is relevant to you and your circle of friends. If you like rock-climbing and your partner doesn’t, then why not type ‘Friends who like rock climbing’ into the Facebook, and then go climb some rocks with them.

Lots of people are saying how this either isn’t the big giant-killing app that they were all looking for from the announcement, or that Google need to be worried about the development of this.

I disagree with both points.

Firstly, what would you rather have had Facebook annnouce? A phone that would probably be universally derided? A set of new photo filters? A missile programme?

I think that Graph Search is a neat little idea. It helps you connect to people that like the same things as you. You can find your mates in Manchester that love Morrissey (hint: ME), people that like horror fiction in the UK (hint: ME).

The biggest downside for me is that I don’t think that a like or a recommendation is as strong as a signal as Facebook seems to think it is. We are told over and over again by Facebook that a like is not tantamount to an opt-in on

Secondly, I don’t think Google will be as worried about Graph Search as many pundits think.

Why? Because Google is a repository for (nearly, nearly) ALL information on the internet. A student isn’t going to look for their research paper on Facebook. I’m not going to search for an book a holiday on the basis of a Facebook like.

Facebook may own the social graph on the internet, but Google are slowly stitching together a social layer over their search property - which I think is far more valuable than a simple social search graph.

Graph Search is a neat idea. I really like it, and I look forward to using it when it finally becomes available to me.

But let’s not kid ourselves: This is not going to unseat Google, or majorly change the way we use the platform. It’s just an incredibly useful upgrade of a ‘pillar’ of Facebook’s service that didn’t work too well.

You want to see the real disruptive story coming from Facebook this week? How about Messenger allowing you to make voice calls. Now that’s something for phone networks to get concerned about - Facebook turning your phone into a zombie Facebook phone via it’s app.

Looks like they didn’t need to launch a phone after all.

Friday, 11 January 2013

Twitter and Television - Report

I thought you'd all like this - it's Twitter's overview of second-screen habits, and how people engage with television events. Developed in association with it's advertising partners, it throws up quite a few interesting tid-bits, which I thought I'd share with you here.

- It's interesting to see that the more engagement a show requires (Homeland, Downton Abbey, a good movie), the less people tweet during it.

- Current affairs programmes promote debate that runs for quite some time after the event (Panorama's Jimmy Savile special).

- Shows that may require lower levels of attention (The Only Way is Chelsea) generate more tweets during the show. 1 in 4 viewers of the show actively tweet. Most users are using the mobile platform.

- Generally, 15 - 24 year olds are more likely to be tweeting from a desktop computer than 25+ year olds, who are mostly mobile. This is due to the cost of second screen tech, such as tablets and smartphones, and the proportion of that segment of the population using Pay-As-You go internet access for their mobiles. That, combined with low-to-no income, means that the most cheap and convenient way of accessing the internet is either a laptop or desktop computer.

- The X Factor generated 14 million tweets in 2012 - driven by the generation of dynamic, integrated hashtags during the broadcast of the show.

Just a few quick insights from what looks like a vert interesting report.

Download the full report here (registration required).

Tuesday, 8 January 2013

Fake Facebook Promotion - Skillens.com

This promotion made me laugh for a couple of reasons. Talk about getting caught in the act!

Firstly, that's a great winners picture. I get that social media is about spontaneity and being 'in the moment', but that doesn't mean you can't retake the picture! Smile for crying our loud.

Secondly - the competition is a 'share and repost' competition. Not only is it against Facebook's promotional guidelines - it's the sort of competition that people with no ideas seem to just sling up on Facebook thinking that it will work. It doesn't. The people that you attract with these competitions aren't necessarily the sort of people who want to buy a diamond ring, or want to have diamond rings in their newsfeed on Facebook. They just want to win a big-ticket prize with little to no effort.

Companies and businesses may complain that the Facebook guidelines are too strict, and that there are a lack of free ways of marketing your business on there, but it's just not true. Yes, there is a premium on reach, but that's in place mostly to protect your customers from having the shit spammed out of them when they log on to see what their friends are up to.

In short: The guidelines aren't there to prevent or penalise legitimate marketing - they're there to prevent irrelevant, shitty marketing. If I see one more person doing a 'share and repost' competition on Facebook, I'm going full Dexter on them.

Dexter morgan picture

Finally - the competition was fake!

WHOOPS! Busted!

They got caught in the act, not only breaking the guidelines, but eliminating any credibility they had with the fans they hoped to attract with the promotion. Bogus on so many levels, if I may say so myself (in my finest Bill & Ted accent).

Community Managers: Tattoo the image of this competition onto the backs of your eyelids, lest you take leave of your senses in the same way.

Businesses: You have been warned. No more share and repost competitions. There are plenty of other, smarter ways to market your business without having to pay for promoted posts etc. You can do it entirely organically if you are smart. Avoid these tactics like the plague to retain any credibility that you have.

(Hat tip to Tristan Welch for the heads up)

Friday, 4 January 2013

A Facebook Redesign? Well, it looks nice, but does it work?

I don’t think that anybody would argue that when it comes to appearances, Facebook is looking pretty tired.

However, what it lacks in style, it more than makes up for in simplicity. Yes, it does run a bit slow at times, but at it’s very core lies a simplicity which ensures that people of all ages get a consistent experience. One that we are so accustomed to that whenever Facebook tries to make a change to it (Timeline), we throw our arms up in fury.

Facebook is built on simplicity.

However - it could do with a polish, so bravo to Fred Nerby for having a very detailed stab at making a more responsive, dynamic version of the site...

Facebook Prototype - Conceptional Approach from Fred Nerby on Vimeo.

What do I think?

Nice, but sadly unworkable.

It would require the site to be rebuilt from the ground up in it's current form.

I do love the metro look, it's really refreshing on the eyes, but some parts of it are a little bit too fiddly for me. This news feed example below is far too busy in my opinion.

New Facebook Design concept

I'm not trying to piss on Fred's bonfire, or belittle his work - but it looks a lot like the new Myspace, or Pinterest. In fact, it’s incredibly similar to the NewMyspace. I’ve posted a video below so you can make your own comparisons.

The new Myspace from Myspace on Vimeo.

What do you think?

Also, from a usability perspective, we need to take it down to the bare bones. Facebook is successful because it is accessible to people from most browsers, phones and tablets. I'd take a stab in the dark, but I'd have to say a design of this kind is far too complex for a casual user (which is most of us).

I know that we are looking to new social platforms for interesting designs and iterations on familiar gestures and sensations (well, the geeks amongst us are), but I think that this one, whilst showing what a fantastic designer Fred is, falls a little short of the scale, and proves that every good designer needs a bit of digital savvy.

Still, like a concept car, I hope that this idea helps stimulate some ideas and some debate at Facebook Towers...

Tuesday, 1 January 2013

10 Things I'd like to achieve in 2013

As 2012 drew to a close, for many people it had been a year smattered with achievements, fantastic feats, and inspirational stories. The Olympics came to Britain, and gave a dream to thousands of young athletes. A jubilee happened.

But for many, 2012 has been a difficult year. Lax gun control laws in the US leading to tragedy after tragedy, and wars being fought without rhyme or reason in far-flung places in the world, often in our name, without our consent, and a struggling global economy.

Professionally, 2012 was a bit of an up and down year for me. And the biggest mistake that I made was realising about half way through the year that one of the reasons I’d got myself into the pickle that I was in was because I didn’t have a plan.

We all need a plan. Preparation is everything.

'Give me six hours to chop down a tree and I will spend the first four sharpening the axe.' Abraham Lincoln

How can you hope to find your way in life, in your career, if you do not have a plan?

One of the things one of my business mentors made me realise during the planning and launch of seven (SE-VEN) websites over the course of a couple of months was the importance of planning. The importance of knowing where you are going, even when you are knee-deep in bugs and amendments.

This year, I am not going to make the same mistake again. With careful planning and preparation I am going to achieve as many of my goals as possible.

To that end, in the next year, I plan to achieve the following things:

  1. A new challenge: This year, I feel like I really need a new challenge. I’ve really enjoyed my time at Real and Smooth Radio, but I’m getting restless. So I need a change, and I need to keep working towards that change.

    In my time there, I’ve built social media from the ground up, with the help of a fantastic group of people. I’ve travelled the country, made friends, might have made a couple of enemies, but overall I feel that my time at Real and Smooth has been incredibly exciting.

    But I have itchy feet, and it’s time to try something new. What's it going to be? Watch this space!
  2. Ensure the happiness of people around me: Happiness for yourself is great, but it’s also important to ensure that your loved ones are happy. I’m going to make time for my loved ones this year more than ever. More time with Ana, more time with my friends, more time with my family.
  3. Read less, learn more, do more: The amount of time that I spend reading about social media, greatly outweighs the amount I learn or do.

    I aim to redress that balance in 2013 for good. Prismatic has helped with that massively already. It’s a great app for sifiting through the dreck in my news feed, and giving me the most relevant news. My Google Reader is too bloated and ugly for purpose now!
  4. Look after my health: There’s no point being the most successful social media man in the cemetery. I know I need to lose weight - I’m a bit of a fatty at the moment. So this is the year that I’m actually going to change my eating habits and stop eating like such a pig.
  5. Instinct + thought = Decision: Listen to your gut, and then listen to your head. If they are both in agreement, then ACT.
  6. Review and improve: Constantly review and improve upon what I am doing.
  7. Worry less: Because worrying gets in the way of effective DOING.
  8. Win something: I haven’t won anything in a while. I’d like to change that. I don’t mind what it is - employee of the month, a football match, a prize in a newspaper, the Social Media Examiner blog of the year - as long as it’s a victory, then I’ll take it.
  9. Spend my time more productively: I have a few hobbies, but I don’t take enough time to actually do them. Because I’m always reading about social media, whilst not learning anything!
  10. Make time for fun: Have more fun.

Will I achieve this? Yes. I hope to, at any rate. I hope that you will stick with me whilst I go on this adventure. You’ll get plenty of social media news and updates from me along the way - useful advice that you’ll want to keep handy.
Happy New Year - I hope that you all have a fantastic 2013.

+Ben Stroud 

+The What Noise?