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Could regionalism in Spain be the secret to Tuenti’s success?

1 Apr

by Ben Miller

@ben_at_city

The social make-up of Spain is not dissimilar to that of the UK. We are both comprised of forcedly united peoples who have still not completely managed to gel (ideologically) into one national identity – despite the unification of both nations’ kingdoms and authoritarian counties centuries ago.

Fast-forward to 2005. The distinct ‘native’ ethnic groups of the British Isles are largely content enclosed in one main political border. Sure, there are still a few in the extreme west of Wales and Cornwall and the North of Scotland (as well as the Isle of Man) who are intent on fighting to the death to prevent Saxon infringement on their Celtic way of life, but nothing like what goes on in Spain every day.

Over there, fervent regionalism is still going strong, governing everyday life in the ‘provincias’.

Regionalistic pride is, in my opinion, the main contributing factor to the ongoing success of social media site Tuenti in Spain.

I set myself a mission to find out if this is true:

Xavier – Catalunya

Sofia – Pais Vasco

Joy – Galicia

http://blog.baquido.com/2010/09/badoo-y-tuenti.html

Tellingly, the mighty Facebook is so dismayed by the fact that Spanish under-21’s prefer Tuenti, that they’ve launched a “young Facebook ambassadors” initiative, paying youngsters to promote Facebook to their peers as THE alternative to Tuenti. Unbelievable!:

http://www.trecebits.com/2010/09/18/facebook-va-a-por-tuenti-y-busca-embajadores-jovenes-que-atraigan-mas-usuarios-en-espana/

Facebook does indeed offer translated pages in virtually every language these days, including all the Spanish minority ones, but it’s the feeling of unity that attracts young Spaniards to favour Tuenti.

http://www.meneame.net/story/no-estar-tuenti-ser-paria-social

Blogger Laura Parkinson suggests different reasons for Tuenti’s resounding success (don’t worry, this one’s in English!): http://www.pbs.org/mediashift/2011/03/how-tuenti-held-off-facebook-in-spain-with-better-privacy068.html

Though her reasoning may well be valid in its own right, it must be noted that her judgement has been formed in one part of Castilian-speaking Spain. As for the comScore figures, Spain’s enormous immigrant and population, both permanent and temporary (the figure of which stands between 7% and 13% depending on the season) contributes enormously, as they are those of an internet-navigable age are far more likely to belong to Facebook than Tuenti.

Social media in hyperlocal online journalism

1 Apr

Caroline James @CarolineJames1

Hyperlocal online journalism: the local journo has much to learn if they’re to exploit social media the way their national counterparts do.  Check out The Guardian who have a whole subsection dedicated to social networking and the peripheral issues, like the article on U.S. spy software that manipulates social media.

I was granted an exclusive interview with Hannah Keep, who has experienced firsthand how they use social media in the news gathering process on a hyperlocal level, at The Bedfordshire on Sunday. She gives us a fascinating insight into the way the hyperlocal news outfits are catching up with their national siblings.

As Hannah says, the local press have been slow to catch up with the social media trend.  My local paper, The Surrey Advertiser has only been tweeting since July 2009.  Compare that with The Times who’ve been actively tweeting since May 2007 and you see the scale of the catch up they’re facing.

And if they don’t, they’re missing a trick.  City journos will tell you the value of: #islington when on the hunt for a story in their patch.  The story of the Islington vigilantes who warn motorists of speed cameras was broken by two of my colleagues: Katie Satchell and Livvy Bolton.  And then two days later it hit the Islington Gazette.  And ask Katie and Livvy where their lead came from? You guessed it: a Sunday morning #islington on Twitter.  Well, maybe you didn’t guess the Sunday morning part.  But the hashtag delivered the goods, nonetheless.

That’s not to say the local press aren’t writing about social media.  The Surrey Ad. reported on a 14-hour tweeting event which took place at the University of Surrey in February.  But that’s their most recent article on the matter.  Let’s look again at The Guardian and their most recent social media themed article is from today: an interview discussing how the internet has altered the face of journalism.

And let’s think smaller: I’m talking really hyperlocal journalism, here.  Step forward: The Horsley Magazine. What, no hyperlink? We’re old school here, readers: no website, no hyperlink.  But the potential is there: there’s a Horsley Network profile on Twitter and we just need some aspiring journo to connect the dots.

Hyperlocal is the platform where there exists the most room for rapid and broad expansion in journalism, whether on- or offline.  And I’m not alone in thinking so – the Editors Weblog agree!

I think I’ve just found my next project…


Use social networks for your business communication!

31 Mar

by Ben Miller

@ben_at_city

According to a study by BNP Paribas, 30% of internet users in Western Europe use social networks for professional means, chiefly to expand their professional reputation. This is a figure that cannot be taken lightly, especially when one looks at the rise of social networks, in particular ‘vocational’ ones like LinkedIn. Social communication within business is often seen as an unmanageable risk – you never know who’s gonna let something slip. This might, however, not be something to fear…

The business model has changed

The business model has changed! Today, the tight and traditional business model is fading in favour of greater openness.  Businesses in general must now deal with infinitely more complex systems. Interactions and combinations are multiple, and the set of the interdependence is confusing.

Business is no longer a closed entity. The boundaries between internal and external communication are increasingly fine, and it is difficult to contain information exclusively within your company, whether or not you yourself are an executive. Outgoing e-mails, facebook status updates, Twitter reactions, MSN, Skype… the list goes on. There are so many doors open to the outside that are not necessarily harmful to your business structure, provided that use of social platforms is monitored. A policy concerning what can and cannot be said on social networking sites should be developed.

Proaction in your day-to-day business activities

Many businesses have virtual doors which are communication channels, allowing informative flow both internally and externally. In 2011, it’s definitely impossible to close these doors, given the wealth of cyber communication available to employees. But the flow can indeed be controlled. Over 80% of business leaders don’t include their professional actions on social networks, and this is a shame. Social platforms are the perfect way to advertise and even show off your company in a particular circle, and it’s absolutely free! Andy Beal has defined a list of 12 key of e-reputation points that each company should monitor:

1. Your Personal Name

Whether you’re an independent consultant, or a very small cog on a big corporate wheel, you should absolutely monitor any media mentions of your own name. An extra tip, monitor your user names too: monitoring “andy beal” would likely not include mentions of “andybeal.”

2. Your Company Name

Another “no brainer.” Monitor your company name, but also monitor any likely misspellings or legacy company names. For example, GlaxoSmithKline should also monitor “GSK,” “Glaxo,” and “Glaxo Wellcome.”

3. Your Product Brands

If you’re Google, you should monitor the reputation of your key product brands. What’s being said about “Android” or “Gmail.” The same goes for your product brands. You may not be able to keep track of all your products, but you should track the ones that are the most vital to your business.

4. Your CEO (and other execs)

I’ll make you this promise. At some point in his tenure, your CEO will put his foot squarely in his mouth. You should monitor all possible iterations of his name, so you can be the first to know–or at least know before the WSJ finds out.

5. Your Media Spokesperson

Even if CEO might is a recluse, I’m sure someone in your company is in the public spotlight a lot. If I were Lenovo, I’d monitor mentions of David Churbuck–after all he’s likely discussing Lenovo on his blog and Twitter. (Knowing David, this post made his radar within 2 minutes of being published…hi David!)

6. Your Marketing Message

“So easy even a caveman can do it?” “Just do it!” What if those campaign slogans were accompanied by “sucks” or “I’ll never buy from them again?” Monitoring your marketing campaigns will help you understand if your message is getting across, and what your customers have to say about it.

7. Your Competition

Surely you’d find value in knowing your biggest competitor just got the jump on you. Reports suggest that inside Lenovo, execs knew about the launch of Apple’s Mac Air within minutes–important for Lenovo, as it was planning it’s own ultra-light notebook.

As we explain in the book, Pepsi found itself in troubled-waters over the revelation its Aquafina was nothing but purified tap water from New York. If Coca Cola monitored the buzz for Pepsi’s products, they would see how consumers reacted to the news–and prepared for the questions about its own “tap water,” Dasani.

8. Your Industry

If you keep a watchful eye on industry trends, you can spot opportunities and potential disasters. Everyone’s raving about the iPhone, but some hate the touchscreen keypad? Maybe BlackBerry should offer a handset that offers both a touchscreen and its highly-praised keyboard.

9. Your Known Weaknesses

Your brand has a weakness. If that’s a shock to you, I apologize for being the bearer of bad news. Still, it’s better I tell you now, than a customer tell the New York Times.

Take an honest look at your products and services and ask yourself, what are our weaknesses. If Dell has admitted to itself that it’s customer support sucked, maybe it would have been in a better position to discover–and respond–to Jeff Jarvis sooner.

10. Your Business Partners

If you’re Boeing wouldn’t you want to know if one of your airline customers just declared bankruptcy? How does that effect your quarterly sales numbers? For you, maybe the CEO of a company you did that “co-branded” campaign with, was just snapped leaving a brothel–how would that reflect on your own reputation.

Identify your key business partners and make sure you know what’s happening to their business.

11. Your Clients’ News

OK, for all of your internet marketing agencies–and anyone else that knows the value of keeping clients happy–here’s a tip for you. Monitor the news for your clients and then send them a note to congratulate them on their accomplishments–or maybe “get their back” if you see trouble brewing. Your retention rate will go way up!

12. Your Intellectual Property

If you invested the time–and expense–to register a trademark or copyright your work, shouldn’t you make sure it’s not being infringed upon? Apart from enforcing trademark infringements, you should also make sure there aren’t any cases of mistaken identity. Did someone just complain about how much their Google iPhone sucks? You might want to suggest a correction–or maybe not, if you’re Apple.

Simple!

Are we entering the age of the Social Media Election?

28 Mar

Caroline James @CarolineJames1

While we’re all excited about the Royal Wedding on the 29th April, it’s the 5th May I’m looking forward to.  While there’s perhaps a little less anticipation in the lead up to the AV referendum in comparison to the hysteria surrounding Kate Middleton’s dress, it marks an exciting moment for anyone looking at how journalists turn to social media to cover news stories these days.

In fact, Paul Waugh from PoliticsHome even makes a nifty comparison between past elections and the upcoming nuptials on Charlie Beckett’s POLIS blog: “It’s going to be a very social media Royal Wedding. Like the election debates, it will be TV that gets the big audiences but it will be the online networks that feel the buzz…Everyone will get a chance to have their say, regardless of the official or mass media coverage.”

So, how will coverage of the voting on the 5th May differ to what we saw last May in the General Election? We’ve already seen the BBC live blogging its election coverage and The Telegraph had an interactive election map, to name just two tools journalists have used in their past coverage.

With the arrival of the latest app – an iPhone canvassing app – this election will be what Peter Murrell, chief executive of the SNP, calls in a Caledonian Mercury article: “the first social media election”.  He claims: “the Tories spent a lot of money on social media last year but the country wasn’t quite ready. This year it is.”

And if MPs are using iPhone apps to canvas and Twitter and Facebook to connect with the electorate, you can bet your bottom dollar, the journalists won’t be far behind.  Take for example, how much discussion’s been stimulated by the referendum and, more to the point, the platforms being used on which to discuss the issues: there’s a Google groups AV debate and even a Facebook app that lets you try out AV, using polls and trivial examples:

Fun examples help the young (and typically apathetic) engage with what the referendum’s all about!

And for the journalists? Well the struggle to engage young people with politics is a subject about which the journalist typically finds much to write – even the BBC’s at it! So FB apps like this one get their own fair share of news coverage, for instance on this LSE blog post.  Social media is increasing the demographic who can follow, participate in and enjoy the upcoming election (referendum).  And the journalists have picked up on that: it’s not just straight results coverage with statistics and analysis anymore.

Integrating TV and social networks.

26 Mar

by Georgina Leggate @GeorginaLeggate

Multi tasking, multi media, multiple screens…..No longer does our generation sit down and watch a program from start to finish without tweeting our friends, or updating our Facebook status’. We actively switch our eyes from one screen to another, whenever we sit down to ‘watch’ a television program ! A recent study from marketing agency Digital Clarity found that 80% of under-25s used a second screen to communicate with friends while watching the TV and 72% used Twitter, Facebook or a mobile app to comment on shows. It’s just the norm. Facebooking and Tweeting whilst watching the telly is something we all do. It is how we communicate our ideas and it gives the viewers a chance to give their opinion on something, or let the organisers or broadcasters know what their audiences are thinking. More importantly than that though is social media enables TV executives to engage with their existing audience.

Some would argue (me included) that the resposes from these sites are sources of journalism in themselves. However informal they may seem to a person sitting at home, they are confirmed reports on an issue, a person, a program and they shape the way broadcasters consider output. It also enables the broadcasters to act on what their viewers’ responses are. These comments and the feedback which is collected  is data journalism in its rawest form.

So let’s say it’s a parallel; social networks working along side television. Our generation of TV watchers have been the first to see social networks intergrated into TV. Regularly now, we are asked to tweet about a program or to send our responses to the program in via Twitter. Texting or calling chat shows, is most defintely old news. What we’re watching out for now is not only social networking in TV,(we see that regularly on ‘@Question Time, @BBC Breakfast, @Daybreak, @Channel4news or Sky’s famous @AdamBoulton &co!) but how the likes of Facebook and Twitter can be integrated to create an interactive show. However this is something very big and it has its complications. On 28th Febraury 2011 the ban on TV product placement, in the UK, was lifted. Thus allowing advertiserers to pay for their goods to be seen on British TV for the first time ever..but what happens if social media complicates matters more?!

Say, for example, Colgate toothpaste is used in a popular soap opera such as Coronation Street (strange example I know, but bare with me!) Given that products can’t be given undue prominence during the show, and may only be given a fleeting moment on screen to avoid programmes becoming ‘brand vehicles’, could the association be further highlighted through social media? Could Colgate use social media in a way that utilises its connection with Coronation Street to help increase consumer recall?

It’s an issue which both concerns and exites me. On the one hand I think that it is an exciting development in the world of social networking! On the other it hasn’t yet been proved to be a success. In America NBC (The National Broadcasting Company) has created a brand new network loyalty program in which social media plays a starring role. ‘Fan It’ is a social media platform that rewards users who promote and discuss NBC shows. (on Facebook, Twitter, MySpace etc.) The endeavour is a network-wide initiative designed to leverage the presence of show fans on social networks and incentivise them with points for engaging with content eg. watching and ‘liking’ shows, chatting and recruiting friends. All in a bid to get their viewers interacting with the TV networks and subsequently getting more publicity and becoming more popular.

The Wonderful World of Web Widgets

23 Mar

by Ben Miller

The word “widget” is probably quite unfamiliar to most. The tech-savvy amongst you may well be chortling away at the very thought of it, but in reality it joins a myriad of other additions to the cyber vocabulary that are simply alien to the masses, even in the 21st Century.

As with all things under the sun, from Aachen to Zzap!64, Wikipedia faithfully provides a stunning explanation and introduction to the actually-quite-humble widget:

“In computing a web widget is a software widget for the web. It’s a small application that can be installed and executed within a web page by an end user. They are derived from the idea of code reuse. Other terms used to describe web widgets include: portlet, gadget, badge, module, webjit, capsule, snippet, mini and flake. Widgets are typically created in DHTML, JavaScript, or Adobe Flash.”

In short, it’s a share-aider whose aim is to increase traffic and hits, the execution of which comes under marketing strategy.

But firstly, where did the word “widget” even come from? It is considered that the word widget comes from the combination of the words window-gadget (which would be interpreted as an apparatus, contrivance or device window), although it is known that in 1924 the work entitled Beggar on Horseback by George S. Kaufman and Marc Connelly, the hero of the piece works in a factory that makes “widgets” that are supposed to items or commodities.

In the UK, the word “widget” has an additional meaning – a device used in beer production which helps keep down the temperature of the fermenting hops for long periods without refrigeration.

An interactive widget  (or mini-software) is a tool available on an operating system , a web page or blog . Widgets typically provide interactive information and entertainment. For example, some display stock quotes or weather information, while others can play video games (usually fairly basic as Pong or Space Invaders – all very retro !) .

Widgets, therefore, have an important role in social media. Site widgets are elements that allow webmasters to add “modules” to their websites. Used primarily on blogs, they allow for example to include in the “sidebar” (column on the side) internal information (eg, the last comment) or external (eg, the last notes of other site ). When they appear on the pages of intranet and they satisfy certain safety regulations, the widgets are called “intradget” .

Because you can create a widget according to needs “ordinary or special,” there is an infinity of use widgets. Here are some examples:

  • displays flow RSS that display the latest news on a site
  • post-its
  • weather reports
  • clocks
  • calendars
  • Train schedules
  • mini-games
  • the surveillance system
  • Application Controllers ( XMMS and Gaim)
  • research
  • games

 Widgets are all about sharing content. Here is a very specific breakdown of the Social Media Widget.

Technology and Social Media commentator Corvida Raven has also written a great blog on attention-gathering widgets.

Social media and fake stories: how the journalist is reasserting control

22 Mar

Caroline James @CarolineJames1

One of the most significant aspects of using social media to generate online journalistic content is the speed with which stories break, spread and go viral.

But citizen journalists, unlike their official counterparts, don’t have the need to go to quite the same lengths to verify their sources and corroborate their stories. And the anonymity of the Internet makes it all that much harder.  The result? Hoaxes and false stories become trends faster than the mainstream media can pick up the phone to check the facts.

How do you trace a story you’ve heard from someone else, when that person heard it from someone else before and so on? Paul Bradshaw discusses a three-pronged approach to the issue: through content, context and code, he argues we can verify how true those unbelievable stories being disseminated over the Internet really are.  The chances are, they’re just that: unbelievable.

But, I would argue the non-story BECOMES a story by virtue of the speed at which it spreads and the reaction it engenders.  Doesn’t it say something of the nature of people consuming the news that the stories that get the biggest reader reaction – that is, the ones that make you go: “How funny/interesting/ridiculous! I best send that link on to X,Y and Z” – are rarely the big movers and shakers in terms of international importance.

Examples of these hoaxes can be found in their hundreds.  Take the latest story to do the rounds on FB: that Marck Zuckerberg would be shutting down FB on 15th March because of “stress”.

The one that sticks in my mind is the World Cup hysteria surrounding the alleged ban by the police on the St. George’s flag.  Now if ever there was a subject more perfectly poised to engender reaction it was this one.  Friends of mine, outraged, changed their FB statuses ad infinitum and we all decried the PC brigade for their anti-nationalist feeling.

Except it was a hoax.

FB posts like this one capitalised on World Cup fever and spread faster than England left the tournament

So while the outrage spread within minutes on social media, the traditional journalists didn’t see it.  Take the above post from one of my FB network; he posted this on 19th May 2010.  It was two days later that the BBC covered the story, revealing it to be a hoax.  It does not take two days to ring the police and confirm the story, an intern can do it in 10 minutes!

And when we had Charlie Sheen’s death announced on Twitter just weeks ago – twice – NowPublic began reporting it was more than just an innocuous, false story: it was a virus.  Hoaxes spread quickly and viruses are masquerading as them for this very reason.

So where do they come from? Scambusters.org argue that the rise in hoax stories is symptomatic of our obsession with celebrity culture.  And these false stories are self-perpetuating because many celebrities who crave publicity are happy to profit from the attention.

These stories are false.  Reporting a false story is not journalism, reporting ON a false story is.  A case in point is the excellent Starsuckers documentary from 2009 – check out the YouTube video of it:

Once again, social media is helping to forge new inroads into online journalism – and the hoax stories are providing the raw materials to do this.