A trade journal of a still-emerging field, written by Adam Tinworth.

Archive for

Hemlock is an open-source environment for building social applications, with a gaming focus. There’s a showcase of uses on the site.

AudioBoo – a low coast, efficient way of generating audio reports. The platform collects pictures, geodata and so on at the time of recording, and pushes it into a social, connected, embeddable environment. Currently, it’s on the iPhone, with Android and web versions coming soon. And they’re adding an API which will allow others to build clients. 
Podcasting was too complicated, suggests SEO MArk Rock. The idea of AudioBoo was to make audio publishing as easy as possible. In the short term, they’ll monetise through pro services, from editing, to managing team contributions. 10 licences sold for the pro services – and it’s not built yet!

David McCandlessDavid McCandless (@mccandelish) has a book coming out. He didn’t beat around the bush about that. He showed us the UK and US editions. But he’s also interested in the growing visual literacy of the population through the growth of the web. 

If you come into the social space trying to sell something “you’re a bit of a dick, really”. What you can do is bring a gift – interestingness. If you’re interesting, you’ll get followed and you’ll get retweeted. And the most interesting gift is the revealing gift. 
(This is a really hard session to liveblog, BTW. It’s all about great, fascinating graphics.)
And I think what he’s showing, and this should be of particular note to journalists, is how limited and uninspired our graphical representation of data is right now, and how illuminating it can be when done right. Asking the real-time web the right questions, and you can find some fascinating information – but give back. Give back into the social space what you create from that data.
Wonderful talk. Go read his blog.

Last keynote of the day: Bernard Desarnauts of Glam Media and talking (in theory) about where the money is.
Media is every-fragmenting. Blogs are growing as are social networks. Traffic is fragmenting around topics, and traditional sites are drawing a small and smaller amount of people’s time. The traditional places where advertisers spent money are becoming less and less relevant. 
So, the answer is distributed media – go where the audience is. And that’s brought them 12m uniques worldwide – by focusing on mid to long tail.
Tinker – instead of following people, you follow topics. They use semantic analysis to find relevant content wherever it is. Beyond that, they create widgets that contain the conversation within them. You don’t force people to come to Tinker – you can push the conversation out to where they are. 
Has been used by many media brands. They use algorithmic and manual filtering to curate the flow of content. They have direct API access to the Twitter “firehose”. Most customers only want the Twitter data. 
[This feels a bit like a sales pitch rather than a case study]

Gordon suggests that there’s a time when you have to stop listening and start doing. People expect a quick response to problems, just because people can communicate them. Will suggested that the Twitter behaviour was chasing down towards the playground in the previous session
Drew pointed out that companies have people dealing with e-mail and letters – why should Twitter get special treatment? [Answer: not given – it’s a public channel, so that problem, if unsolved damages your reputation]
I take my last comment back – Candace just made that very point.
Will asks if we will have to deal with a world where all our employees have accounts and voices? [Yes]
Richard points out that you need a corporate account, because, if people have a problem, they don’t search for your name, they search for the brand. And that’s true, but Drew also compellingly argued that people will quite happily discuss a brand elsewhere, and companies need to accept that, and that they no longer have total control over discussion of their reputation.
Is there a danger of your employees misrepresenting your brand? Will: “Yes, but they do that every day anyway.”
Drew suggested that the way HR should approach this is just suggest that you behave as you would at a work party. Will followed up to point out that there is an HR / internal comms angle to this, and it is important that social media is the responsibility of more than one department…
Is people taking their social graph with them when the leave a problem? Candace recommends the “@” approach – Adam@RBI, for example. [This raises the issue of separate personal and business twitter accounts, which I guess won’t get discussed, as it’s all over]

Jess GreenwoodI’m uncomfortable with some of this panel’s message. There seems to be a distinct undertow of “how do we control the message through Twitter. The examples we’re being given seem to be using Twitter as just another channel, maybe to give a veneer of engagement, without a reality to it.

ASOS seems to be the notable exception right now, but let’s see how the panel develops.
Amelia Torode from VCCP suggests that it’s about the right people doing the right things…
And this panel has almost been completely hijacked by the Twitterfeed… Running jokes about the guy from Innocent, Ted Hunt.
Some suggestion that Twitter is a passing fad, and it will be replaced by something else next year, but that feels like someone who isn’t really engaged.
Look, the  real lesson of this panel was that, if a panel is insufficiently interesting, using a Twitterwall will sabotage it. Fascinated people don’t undermine sessions with jokey tweets, they tweet reaction to people’s statements – or just tweet the statements. Despite the best efforts of chair Jess Greenwood of Contagious magazine, this is actually a classic counter to the sentiment that I saw emerging at the start of the panel – about controlling the message. With so many people able to publish now, you can’t control the message – you can just join in.

Ciarán NorrisFormer colleague Ciarán Norris is going to tell us how to listen.

Use your ears?
First up: why should we listen on Twitter? Exponential growth in the last year, for one. We’ve had a growth of people at the creator end of the scale. First you had know HTML, then you had to have a blog, and now you just need Twitter, a mobile phone and maybe a cameras. 
And because of that, Google is now your company front page, and other people’s work maybe on the front page and more interesting than yours. Tools like ViralTracker allow them to follow how pieces of work spread across the web. Delicious is still a good way of seeing how people view your brand. Tweetdeck gives you the ability to understand and monitor Twitter across multiple accounts. Tweetfunnel allows multiple people to manage one account. Tweetmeme tracks how links are spread around Twitter. They’re adding analytics (which I’m testing and it’s cool). Twitterfall, great way to check what people are saying around a brand.
But: some perspective. 2% of Iranians have access to Twitter, so it’s the “liberal intelligentsia talking to the liberal intelligentsia in the west”.
Some good examples: 

The idea of brands joining in on people’s private conversations is just creepy, suggests Lloyd Davis (alloyddavis) of the Tuttle Club

  • Be honest and transparent, don’t lie or fake it.
Daren Forsyth (@darenBBC) points out that human is basically the default mode of Twitter. Think about how human and how subtle you can be. 
And the converse? Habitat. Lots of debate as to wether the rules of social media are obvious, or need thinking about. If they’re so obvious, why did Habitat get it so wrong. The answer offered is that it was “a kid”, but that seems like a cop-out. 
George Nimah (@iboy) is doing his best to kick the panel more into gear, but suggesting that a panel of advertising folks talking about evidence is up there with military intelligence as an oxymoron. We need more honesty, like being honest that Peperami was as much about saving money in a recession as about being creative. (Follow the money.)
Daljit Bhurji of Diffusion PR (@daljit_bhurji) suggests that it’s as much about how you turn things around in a crisis. Dell has recovered brilliantly from Dell Hell, and even Habitat now has a good agency behind their Twitter stream. (An agency. Not people in the company. Doesn’t sound good to me). 
Lloyd raises the issue of celebs using their entourage to tweet for them – which does their image harm. George says it’s about being clear. If you tweet under your name, make sure it’s you. If you tweet under a brand name, be clear who it is that’s tweeting on behalf of a brand. 
I like Daren’s suggestion that companies need to identify their conversationalists – and all have them already – and use them as their social media first line, as it were.
Two pieces of wisdom from Lloyd: We’re all making this up as we go along, and don’t use spam bots.

Did you know that the 19th century Oxford English Dictionary was crowd-sourced? It’s not a new concept, but technology brings new things to it, says Nic Ray, managing director of Quirk, particularly a wider reach.

The basic process is:
  • Company broadcasts problem
  • Crowd offers solution
  • Crowd vets solutions
  • Company rewards winning suggestions
And you can see it in use anywhere from Wikipedia to Threadless, to 99 Designs. And the benefits? Everything from tapping a wider range of talents, to actually building engagement with your brands. 
And yes, this is a threat to the traditional agency model. Wider range of potential talent, and lower costs? That’s attractive, and Ray seems to suggest that push-back from the traditional agency community is one of the bigger problems of the process.
You should also pick and choose where you use crowd-sourcing techniques. The more research that’s needed, or more face to face interaction, then you want to go the traditional route. 
Noam Buchalter then went on to explain why Peperami crowd-sourced ideas for future ads, as they felt the most recent peperami-charcetr-based ads weren’t as strong as they could have been. The whole process seems to have been a mix of cost-saving and engagement, as well as a source of new ideas. The filming was doen in South Africa, for example, to save costs. 
One questioner from the floor suggested that it was a missed opportunity, and that they could have gone for something genuinely “ground up”, rather than a “top down” filtering process for the final results. 

…and the panel seem to be talking around it rather than at it. And we’re on to mobile instead.
And Scott has twittered a picture of us all. The excitement. 
Nuria Garrido from BA (@ng01): Social media gives you the revenue potential. You can’t segment your audience on social media sites. So we can’t push information just to people in the UK or Europe. You need to work out what’s important to you as a brand. It may not be the revenue, it may be building relationships with users you don’t normally talk to. 
And now, a challenge from the audience: why not give some real examples. And now we have an example of a Wimbledon Google Android phone app used by IBM in their guest boxes, giving better data about what was happening. 
Robin talked about helping Skype and DirectGov, but in a lack of detail, frankly.
Mel Exon of BBH Labs (@bbhlabs): Huge shift from short-term campaigns to platforms and programmes. We’re having to rethink everything we do in a social space. 
Gareth: social media is forcing us to rethink our whole business model (see pretty much every other post on this blog for more on that. 😉 )
I’ve somewhat lost interest in this panel really – there’s too much “use social media to engage! It’s a revolutionary idea!” and not enough “Here’s what works and what doesn’t”. Baby steps stuff.

Web 2.0 Square

I rather like this little graphic from Ross Mayfield, based on ideas being discussed at this year’s Web 2.0 Expo. You can download the supporting report Web Squared: Web 2.0 Five Years On.

I think it neatly encapsulated the four issues that will effect the web, and which the publishing business needs to get its head around. I talk a lot about social on here, and the whole hyper-local journalism movement is, to some degree, predicated on the idea of geo-centric technology, even if the potential benefits of geocoding information haven’t really been discussed.

The whole mobile environment has been changed by the new breed of smart phones, led by the iPhone, which are turning users into voracious data consumers on the move, and the Real Time web is becoming, in a technological sense, a very real proposition (and, if fact, I should write a post about that).

This graphic is the sort of thing every publisher and journalist should be looking at and thinking “what does this mean for what I do?”