Archive for the 'Social Media' Category

One-To-Few Communication

There’s been a great deal of discussion recently about social network privacy, and in particular Facebook’s privacy settings since its F8 conference last month.

I’ve been more preoccupied with work recently and have only had the chance to keep up to date on what others have written about the subject, but there’s been a post rattling around in me for a while on this topic, and it’s gained more clarity through projects I’ve been working on. Whilst I won’t be going into any detail about the specific projects, I’m going to touch on some of the themes and trends that have been buzzing around in my day to day discussions and I hope it’s thought provoking. There are 3 trends I want to highlight:

Firstly, Mike Arauz wrote a great thought piece the other week on “One-to-Some” Communication, which I thoroughly recommend. The whole team over at Undercurrent continue to churn out some brilliant thinking and Mike’s post is just another great example.

Secondly, another theme that took off at roughly the same time was funding for a little known start-up called Diaspora over on KickStarter. Within a matter of days the 4 guys from Diaspora had been funded to the tune of $100,000 – great by anyone’s standards – It’s also worth noting (especially for the purpose of this post) that Mark Zuckerberg is one of the loudest voices for Diaspora and was one of the earliest investors. Lastly, was an interview Robert Scoble recorded with the guys from Wave Market. Here, the conversation centred around geo-fencing and location-based notifications, amongst many other topics. It’s well wroth a watch when you find the time.

What all 3 of the above trends are pointing to is a group of individuals within your social graph which naturally ebbs and flows based on the context (time & place), the topic and the interest of the content you are sharing. Such relationships can get complicated quickly, so it’s important to rationalise this thinking by starting small.

Maybe Google Me, Google’s worst kept secret is trying to solve this problem…

Some thoughts on sharing content

We’ve got a widget that needs some global share functionality added to it, so I got in touch with the company (Gigya) who’s helping us to do that. I went to their blog, which had some interesting insights and a ‘social bar’ at the bottom of the browser page. This is similar to the couple of examples I had in the deck I sent round the other day and could include any other number of social ‘connections’, such as QQ, RenRen, Orkut etc. I’ve heard rumors that Facebook will be launching their own in weeks.

In a nutshell, this and various other announcements, such as Facebook’s Social Plugins, bring into focus the idea that websites can now apply the latest open social technologies – like Facebook Connect, OAuth with Twitter, those provided by Yahoo, LinkedIn and more – to their own sites to drive traffic and highlight other social platforms where clients have a presence.

Re-dressing the balance
Most companies have learned to meet their customers on social networks, creating Facebook fan pages and Twitter pages, or integrating basic sharing, but only a few have made their own sites social in a way that truly takes advantage of the opportunity. Making the corporate site experience seamlessly connect to users’ social networks is the way things are moving. According to industry analyst Jeremiah Owyang of the Altimeter Group, “In the future, consumers will be challenged to differentiate between corporate sites and social networks” because “destinations won’t matter, social context will”.

Many prominent publishers and retailers are buying traffic only to send it away to a social network. The next generation of social technologies – like Facebook’s Open Graph – differ from their predecessors. Facebook launched the changes on Wednesday with over 75 partners and partners are applying those technologies to their own sites to enable site visitors to help drive friends to those sites.

The various different social tools that Facebook and others have enabled can be collectively described as Friendcasting – Tools such as the ‘like’ button and Twitter’s @Anywhere solution enable customers to broadcast their comments to their 150 friends (the average number of friends/followers that social network users have these days).

5 best practices
There are 5 best practices for applying this “next generation” sharing (Friendcasting):

1. Keep users on your site
2. Build sharing into the activity flow
3. Use one single system for registration and sharing
4. Offer simultaneous sharing options
5. Track sharing results

Many of our clients still don’t fully appreciate how impactful social can be – it’s not the old packaged good mentality now. Technically – it’s more that there are many agencies and people involved, so “Keep it simple stupid” is best. For many clients, making the functionality different or flashy instead of keeping it as clear and simple as it should be will be a great challenge.

The movement towards openness
Microsoft will be launching its new Windows Live platform soon and with it a raft of new social features, including the first version of Office in the Cloud. Microsoft will be placing Friendcasting at the very centre of their launch, in the same way as they have shown in their recent partnership with Facebook,

These tools increase conversion on your own site because users can register in just a couple of clicks. Often, you’re not going to capture a full conversion upfront, but that doesn’t matter because you are getting permission to have a relationship.

The data that is provided varies by the platform and the visitor’s personal security settings, but Facebook now provides an email address if they have approved sharing it. Both demographic and psychographic data is often available. More will be offered as Google and Microsoft join in with their own social services for 3rd party websites.

More things to consider soon…

Digital Democracy – some themes to look out for in UK General Election campaign

Many thanks to Albion London for putting on a cracking panel last Wednesday in Spitalfields for a discussion on Digital Democracy and the impending UK General Election. More info on the specific event can be found here, including a video with Alan Rusbridger’s insightful views on Us vs. Them and Open vs. Closed.

With the UK election getting into full swing, MPs have been scrambling over themselves to be interviewed by the MumsNet community. Both David ‘Call me Dave’ Cameron and Gordon ‘I’m Just about to Blow a Gasket’ Brown have courted the active and passionate community, but having heard from Justine Roberts, founder of MumsNet, I’m really not sure what kind of impact either of them made with that community. They’re doing what politicians have always done; look at stats/results, target a particular demographic of disenfranchised, sitting-on-the-fence voters and trying to woo them.

But is that it? Is the UK election really ‘The MumsNet Election’? The UK election isn’t going to be anything like the US Obama election, that much is clear. So far all we’ve heard are fluffy promises and the same old negative politics and fear; this time though such tactics are being amplified for all the wrong reasons by digital. It goes to prove that in this general election you have to say something meaningful.

Take for example the brilliant work of Clifford Singer’s spoof campaign posters over on
I’ve never studied economics before
We’ll airbrush anything.
Don’t worry, you won’t feel a thing.
This one’s still my favourite though (because it’s real and it’s online affecting offline ;p):
There have been 256,463 David Cameron posters created using the online poster generator courtesy of Andy Barefoot. Go and create your own.
There’s much more Clifford has to say on the experience in a blog post he’s written, Five Lessons from MyDavidCameron – Definitely worth a read.
And recently he’s announced he’s going to stop them now. The timing couldn’t be better. These spoofs have a certain shelf life and now that the Conservative’s have jumped on the bandwagon and created a nasty, bitter tasting version themselves, it’s all getting a bit ‘unappetitlich‘.
I think they have captured the public’s imagination because the posters themselves have been so devoid of anything meaningful; either in their message or in their substance.
Since Obama, what democracy has needed to be respected is meaningful action as opposed to political in-action which we’ve become used to. I wrote a couple of musings prior to the US Presidential campaign on what impact digital and social media would have on politics and yes, Obama’s campaign managed to create an incredible grassroots swelling on Facebook providing the largest donation pool in modern political campaigning – but social media isn’t just a route to raising more funds for a campaign – any brand worth their salt could tell you that by now! It also enables activism and cuts through the bullshit. Look at what’s happening right now with the threatened closure of BBC 6Music or the Robin Hood Tax campaign to give you an idea of the power social media has when it’s got a purpose.
Which brings me to my second theme of the UK General Election: Independent MPs.
Tasmin Omond, the Climate campaigner has announced she will be standing against Glenda Jackson in the newly formed borough of Hampstead &Kilburn, who Tasmin called “the laziest MP in London”.
She has now formed a political party, called The Commons, and is believed to have substantial financial backing from green campaigners.
Last week cryptic posters started appearing in the area, of a silhouette alongside the other candidates including Ms Jackson, Liberal Democrat Ed Fordham and Tory Chris Philp, proclaiming that the election race would include “not just the usual suspects”.
Ms Omond said: “Hampstead and Kilburn is a new constituency and we want to show people what a new MP can do. We’ve had enough of distant politicians droning on about broken Britain but doing very little.
“Labour and the Conservatives represent a type of politics that people are bored with. We want to remind people that politics is about choice. The other candidates are going after the dwindling older population in the area who still vote.

“We are going after the tens of thousands of young voters. If we get their vote, we will win by a landslide.”

Ms Omond said that if she wins the election, she will put a third of her salary into local projects selected by her constituents. She also vowed to do one day of community service each week and said she would ensure everyone in the constituency who is eligible to vote is registered by the end of her first period in office.

Ms Jackson, Labour MP for Hampstead and Highgate, last year repaid more than £8,000 in expenses she had wrongly claimed. Glenda Jackson has previously been shown to be one of the MPs who offers least value for money.

In 2007/2008, she claimed £136,793 in allowances despite turning up for only 27 per cent of votes and speaking in just two debates.

Ms Omond said: “The expenses scandal definitely influenced my decision to stand. People in the constituency I’ve spoken to are incredulous that Glenda Jackson would even bother standing in the election. She is the laziest MP in London.”

Ms Omond said the Climate Rush group would be “heavily involved” in her campaign: “We’re going to have people dressed as suffragettes going door-to-door offering to draught-proof houses and sort out insulation.

Should be interesting, if only as a side show…

Best Buy: A social media case study

Best Buy: A social media case study

by Robin Grant in News on 28 May 2009 at 17:10

Best Buy

Amongst the famous examples of Dell, Ford, Zappos, Skype and the like, Best Buy may not be the first company that comes to mind when thinking about which companies using are using social media well.

They’re also not the sort of company you would immediately assume would be ahead of the curve in terms of social media – they’re  the world’s largest multi-channel home electronics retailer (similar to  Currys or  Comet in the UK) who have recently made moves into Europe with the acquisition of 50% of Carphone Warehouse’s European stores (and with rumours they may go further than that).

However, in reality they’re as advanced as any of the examples I give above – let’s start with a short introduction from Best Buy’s Chief Marketing Officer, Barry Judge:

And then move onto this presentation from Gina Debogovich, Best Buy’s Community Manager:

It’s also worth finding out more about Best Buy Connect, Blue Shirt Nation (a community for Best Buy Employees), how they use customer reviews, their recently launched API and looking at how they use their own forums and Get Satisfaction to support their customers.

Let’s finish with a 4 minute video

looking at Best Buy’s internal use of social media followed by a 20 minute interview with Best Buy’s CEO Brad Anderson talking about the issues in detail:

Posted via web from rickwilliams’s posterous

URL shortening and why it’s important to brands

Links are the lifeblood of the internet.

Social media tools such as Twitter and Facebook are giving people the power to 'spread' content that they like and that they think their friends and followers will like.
Because of the 140 character constraint, links to content invariably are fed into url shortening solutions. There are over 100 such solutions online right now.

URL shorteners are very simple, they take a url such as:
and shorten it to become something like this: (this doesn't work by the way)

The benefits are huge:

It enables you to take your brand into these areas (e.g. and not – This is free advertising.
It increases trust and click-through rates. e.g. You know that clicking on it will take you to something to do with nike.
It enables you to track where and how people are finding your content by ensuring you're adding the necessary meta data and tracking info to the links you are shortening.

One way to try this out in a cost effective way is by using For $99 a year you get 10,000 unique urls a month, all tracked by Google Analytics and customisable by you.

Posted via email from rickwilliams’s posterous

Another Car, Another Social Media Marketing Campaign

Nissan has launched a marketing campaign for its Cube that incorporates Cube-themed iPhone apps, games, videos and ringtones to prove just how hip it is to be square.

The Cube Mobile Hub site gives Cube owners and enthusiasts the chance to bond over a car that Nissan says is designed for interacting, all while disengaged from the real world, poking away at a tiny cellphone screen.

It’s yet another example of automakers using social networking to sell their cars, and it comes on the heels of similar campaigns by Ford and Honda. Honda recently launched a microsite where people can virtually drive the new Insight and learn more about the dirt-cheap hybrid.

Nissan is hoping that the mobile site will convince potential buyers that the slab-sided subcompact is just as essential to the mobile lifestyle as text messages, Twitter and Facebook. “We envision owners using their Cubes as one of their essential mobile devices, connecting with friends, sharing music and sharing fun,” Nissan marketing exec Christian Meunier said in a statement.

Nissan says the Cube features a “socially oriented lounge-style interior.” At the risk of sounding like Andy Rooney, we think it might be a perfect place for five friends to text each other.

We visited the site Mobile Hub and everyone seems to be having a lot more fun than we are. Our favorite feature might be the forthcoming iPhone App called “Cube Party Roundup.” The objective of the game is to gain points doing things that we thought only happened in commercials for cars and liquor: Drive around a city picking up friends, dates, and “ice, music and other items,” all in preparation for a big party.

Posted via web from rickwilliams’s posterous

Three forms of Community Affiliation

Posted via web from rickwilliams’s posterous

Lego extending its devotees through social media

lego-sculpture.jpg (JPEG Image, 450x470 pixels)

As Jake McKee commented on my previous post, there are some excellent niche communities which, over the years, have created such an active community of members that the brand they’ve advocated has had to stand up and do something about it.

In the case of Lego, they embraced the online community activity on the Internet and created a ‘Lego Ambassador Program’ back in February 2005. This, I presume was entirely down to Jake, who at the time was a Lego employee (Jake, please correct me if any of this is incorrect…).

Initially the individuals who were nominated for the Lego Ambassador Program not only had no tangible benefits, but were also a merry band of only 15. Now, with the nominations for the 08/09 Ambassadors having been announced only a few days ago, there are not only very tangible benefits but also a much larger group of Ambassadors.

Brothers-Brick is one of the major contributing communities and blogs which have generated Ambassadors. Over the last 3yrs their blog has grown to one of thousands of subscribers, all of whom have an interest and a passion in Lego from an adult perspective and now they’re embracing Facebook.

It’s fantastic to see how Lego’s confidence and belief in their customers and fans has led to a really excellent Ambassador program which is not only aspiring to the Lego enthusiasts in the community, but offers an opportunity for Ambassadors to shape the future of their favourite bricks and be first to be asked opinions on new up and coming ranges from Lego themselves.

Lego’s 50th anniversary celebration video, released to the community:

Lego’s Social Strategy

Jake McKee, ex-Lego employee and now founder of social media consultancy Ant’s Eye View, talks about his work in developing a community for Lego. Interestingly, his target audience was the parents.

Thanks to Fresh Creation* for the scoop.

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