One Man and His Blog: Social Networks Archives

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April 18, 2014

US Airways: that tweet explained

An excellent explanation of how US Airways ended up tweeting the pornographic plan - which explains why the social media guy didn't get fired.

I'm pleasantly surprised about how maturely this has all worked out. Is the social media business finally growing up?

April 15, 2014

Verify social media content - or look like an idiot

Declan Curry

The above photo was circulating Twitter yesterday, and at least two media outlets - Romenesko and FishbowlNY - ran it as an example of a BBC captioner having a bad day.

They found the image and they ran with it. They didn't contact Declan or the BBC. And today, they're both apologising.

As it happens, I was at university with Declan - we worked on Imperial College's student newspaper Felix together. I'd seen the photo before - when he posted it to Facebook, sharing a joke he'd written himself. Yup, the caption was by him - and was the best part of a year old:

click on the comments link to see the discussion

And there we have it. Two media outlets turned their journalistic instincts off when presented with something fun on social media, and made fools of themselves.

You don't get to stop applying the basic techniques of journalism just because you found something on social media. Verify, check, double-source. Or you'll be apologising to your readers - or your editor - pretty quickly.

April 3, 2014

Productive Social Business and the Post*Shift launch

Livio and Lee at Post*Shift

When some of the social media gurus of the world started proclaiming that "social business was dead" a while back, my immediate thought was "this is where it gets interesting".


Well, when the shiny suited bandwagon jumpers move on it's pretty much a sign that the peak of inflated expectations is over, and that we're passing through the trough of disillusionment towards a plateau of productivity. And yes, gentle reader, I am alluding to the Gartner Hype Cycle here:


Once the flash and dash of the early hype is over, the serious work gets done. We're seeing some interesting new businesses emerging in the space, like my friends Agile Elephant and now a post Headshift/Dachis Lee Bryant and Livio Hughes with Post*Shift.

They held their launch part last night, and while I can't claim to completely understand what the company is right now - some hybrid of an incubator, an investor and a strategic consultant as far as I could tell - I'm certainly interested to see what they do over the next couple of years.

A few interesting notes from the introduction talks

  • Existing companies are prone to "innovation tourism" - where they go visit innovators and startups, and then go back to doing exactly what they did before.
  • Existing companies tend to become entities whose purpose is protecting their business model. They're disruption-adverse.
  • Startups may be more professional than many businesses, as they run lean and with zero waste - they just can't afford it.
  • There are many company structures which have existed conceptually for decades - but which social technology is finally making practical
  • The management consultancy model hasn't significantly changed in a century. It needs rethinking.

Right at the end of the talks, Lee touched on a small obsession of mine, when he started talking about how the disruption that the internet can bring could interface with more physical businesses - industry, manufacturing and the like (I've written about this for NEXT Berlin). I'm desperate to see startup thinking and social business start to spread beyond the obvious confines of knowledge workers and mobile apps. Looks like Post*Shift could be planning on making some inroads into a much wider discussion about the future of work - and that could be worth watching.

March 26, 2014

Oculus joins the Facebook flotilla

Is Facebook becoming a good old fashioned conglomerate? Felix Salmon thinks so:

Zuckerberg knows how short-lived products can be, on the internet: he knows that if he wants to build a company which will last decades, it's going to have to outlast Facebook as we currently conceive it. The trick is to use Facebook's current awesome profitability and size to acquire a portfolio of companies; as one becomes passé, the next will take over. Probably none of them will ever be as big and dominant as Facebook is today, but that's OK: together, they can be huge.

Facebook is no longer a one trick pony company. That's a survival strategy.

March 22, 2014

Facebook: pay for eyeballs or get social

The Facebook game has changed, and anyone who is surprised hasn't been paying attention. Social@Ogilvy published research showing that the reach of posts from brand pages on Facebook has been plummeting, something borne out by the couple of pages I have a hand in running. Here's a graph they used to prove it:


Ewan Spence sums up the core message:

The research goes into more details, but the implication is clear. The free ride for brands on Facebook is coming to an end, and Mark Zuckerberg's network should now be moved into the 'paid channel' in the marketing budget. The end game here is that a message posted on a brand page will not be shown to anyone unless it gathers a notable number of likes from a user's friends. If their friends like a post, if there is a visible adoption of the post by the community, only then the post has earned the right to be shown organically.

Edged out of the algorithm

I am surprised that anyone is surprised by this. Two things suggested that this was the likely endgame:

  1. Facebook has been aggressively algorithmically managing your news feed to keep it relevant for a long time now. Switch from "Top Stories" to "Most Recent" in your settings, and you'll probably see quite a different news feed. Why do they do this? As the volume of content shared into Facebook goes up, the relevance to you tends to go down. It's the classic signal/noise ratio problem. Their solution is to try and filter out the noise for you.

Facebook preferences

  1. Facebook is an ad-funded service. It doesn't care how much time and money you've spent on a social media agency to build page Likes, because that's bringing it precisely zero revenue. Up until now, Facebook has been giving you free advertising, even if you've been paying someone else to access it. A commercial business giving away its core product for free is not a sustainable solution.

So, where does that leave you? Well, you have two choices. The first, and most obvious, is to pay. Hello, paid marketing That's OK - you're essentially just paying to have an advert for your content drop into people's news feeds. Advertising like any other.

Putting the Social in Social Media

Your other option is harder - but the one that's probably the most sustainable for journalism and content businesses. It's something you can't just throw money at, or hire somebody to do easily. It's about creating content that people want to share - and then making it easy for them to do so. The best way to get traffic right from Facebook right now isn't through brand pages - it's through getting people to Like and share you content - and that means creating things they want to Like and share. That's the hard bit. And you're up against people like Buzzfeed who are really good at that. Here're their traffic from search versus their traffic from Facebook:


So, in effect, we're in a situation that almost exactly parallels search. For something to rank in search, people have to "share" it by linking to it. Then a whole bunch of other factors come into play to determine whether it'll appear on your search result page. For you to get significant Facebook traffic, people will have to freely share your content into Facebook, and then a whole host of other factors (based on potential viewers' prior actions and how people react to that content) kick into play to determine how widely it's shared.

The Search/Social Divide

The difference is that people tend to search for answers to questions. Any published pages that's ore complex in its execution and ideas than that is probably going to be better served by social sharing - and Facebook is still the 800lb gorilla on that front.

If you weren't taking SMO (Social Media Optimisation) seriously already, you really have to be doing so now. That means sorting out technical stuff like Open Graph markup on your pages, but also the softer side of understanding how to write in way that are sharable. It also means understanding how to use your own staff to "seed" the process.

Ready for all that? If not, you better get the credit card out...

February 28, 2014

Meet the new social media hierarchy, same as the old one

Why social media feels so much less exciting when it's established:

Open systems start with no hierarchy, so they look like meritocracies at first, but network effects mean newcomers create a hierarchy, often without even meaning to. We will never return to a Twitter where there's little difference between newcomers and the old guard.

The form of the piece is an good old fashioned "it's not fair" - but it captures why the excitement and potential many find in the early days of a new tool often fails to come to fruition, as new hierarchies start to establish themselves.

January 8, 2014

Food photos on Twitter: visual small talk


Fascinating exploration of the motivation and results of sharing things like photos of food on Twitter:

There is a wealth of information out there for the interested. Knowledge opens doors. Never underestimate the power of small talk. Rapport is how humans sync with one another. The foundation of effective communication.

And small talk leads to big talk.

Why do we tweet what we eat?

See Also: Today's XKCD.

On social media in movie trailers

Nailed it. 

January 7, 2014

Time to start paying attention to Vine

I read this:

This kerfuffle at the Smáralind shopping centre near Reykjavík, Iceland, last weekend isn't because One Direction are in town. It's because of two stars from Vine, the six-second video-blogging site.

Then I did this:

Vine has been through its maturing period and is rapidly making its way into the "interesting" category...

My top 10 tweets of 2013

What can we learn from this?

  1. Mocking social media gurus is really popular
  2. Humour generally goes a long way
  3. People like shared pain - like the treatment of freelancers
  4. Liveblogging and exclusive interviews still carry value.

That's all good news, I think.

Are you ready for your corporate approved social interaction experience?

Cliff Watson:

You see, we’ve come to define “social” in unintentional Orwellian double-speak. “Social” has come to mean the exact opposite of what it’s meant for centuries. Instead of actual interaction and communication, we define “social” as once- or twice-removed ego validation through button-clicking.

When we've come to understand "social" as meaning "corporate-mediated communications, within defined parameters, interruptible by branded messages", one is rather tempted to despair about humanity…

However, it makes it rather plain that the clock is ticking on "social" as we know it right now, and that's a good thing. I've just seen a community I'm a member of almost wiped out by a single troll and some automatic button-pushing at Facebook. That's no way to build a sustainable set of relationships.

December 21, 2013

Nostalgia meets satire in pre-social media

undocumented_feature.png That's a rather pretentious title to sum up a rather excellent XKCD cartoon that manages to both make me nostaligic for the chatrooms that made up some of my first experiences of community interaction on the web - and satirise the worst excesses of what passes for social these days. Fine, fine work.


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This page is an archive of recent entries in the Social Networks category.

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