Seven Lions – Days To Come #NowPlaying

Mostly listening to this right now…

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Redcross use Charlie Sheen and #tigerblood to draw attention to their cause

Remember this a while back?

Widely heralded as the worst, most insensitive use of a Twitter #hashtag in the history of the service…

Well @RedCross got it right…

True genius use of a #hashtag storm to get more exposure to a NFP.

Bravo. Kenneth, take note, this is how you do it properly.


Charlie Sheen Interview

Meme fall-out



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Golden Voice…Updated

I used to think of myself as the kind of guy who has his ear to the ground, doesn’t miss a trick (at least when social media and digital shizniz happens), but I clearly missed the boat on this one. When I saw the video for the first time it was at just over 4 MILLION views in 2 DAYS. From the time I left work to the time I showed my girlfriend the video had over 5.3 Million views. This morning the number hovers just under 10 million.

3 Days.

10 Million.

That’s just nuts.

Whats more is this video has a touching story attached to it, with an awesome resolution. Makes you smile from the inside kinda thing.

If you want proof of the success story, check the CNN site:here

Happy New Year and all that, promise to get this back on the road soon!


…albeit a very belated one (I’ve been busy, and this is the first thing to get de-prioritised when that happens)

I guess this is more for posterity than anything ground breaking, but there were a few developments that happened after the Golden Voice video went viral…

Columbus Dispatch, the people who recorded the original video, got all butthurt jealous that they hadn’t got a slice of the viral action, and so decided to file a copyright infringement claim to get the original video removed (notice how the above video no longer exists…you can read the official Dispatch statement here)

By the time the video got culled, it had gained 13,828,995 views, over 56,000 comments and over 100,000 ‘likes’. The Genii at the Columbus Dispatch then started their own youtube channel and re-uploaded the video probably thinking ‘Yeh we’re so clever, now that viral stuff is going to happen to us!’

How wrong they were.

The channel and the video BOMBED. Hard. With only 17,000 hits or so and more dislikes than likes, they were bombarded with people flaming them for issuing the copyright infringement claim.

This was followed by people picking up the story and being equally critical on their actions across the blogosphere. In particular the articles at post advertising and prTini are good summaries of how it all went down, so go check them out if you want to read more.

The story, of course, involves more than the cretins stupid people at Columbus Dispatch. The human element remains, and I’m afraid it isn’t the happiest of endings to the happy ending. Turns out Ted is off to rehab after a whirlwind of events that even the least cynical people would have suspected might happen. Read the Jezebel post entitled: 10 Days In The Breakneck Rise & Fall Of “Golden Voice” Ted Williams. I, for one, wish him all the best.

I guess at the end of all this we can say two things:

  • One, The Columbus Dispatch, like a lot of ‘old media’, really haven’t been reading their social media bible, and acted irrationally and instinctively in removing the original video. They turned what could have been GOLDEN PR into what was fundamentally damaging to their brand. They should have stepped back, looked at the bigger picture, heck even consulted a social media agency, but they didn’t. Epic. Fail

  • Two. Sensational video and a touching story don’t hide the ugly truth behind drug addiction. Ted was a recovering addict, but an addict all the same. It’s not Ted’s fault that he relapsed, and given the circumstances it’s really not that surprising that he did. Was he given the protection he needed from his past? Would he have accepted it had be been offered it? who knows.

    At the end of the day it’s a story of new beginnings, but with a heavy dose of reality. At the same time, it’s a PR /social media (case study) dream. This is a perfect example of how bad things can go for you, and how quickly, if you underestimate the medium and method with which a story is being delivered. Social media is social, the paradigm of ‘news’ is shifting. Ignoring this fact and continuing regardless with litigious and old-hat ideology is what sets the dinosaurs from the…er…(what came after dinosaurs)…crocodiles? (that’ll do). It’s effectively social-web suicide.

    The problem, now, is that social web blunders reverberate to the core of a brand’s identity. The Columbus Dispatch shall be known for a long time as the idiots that took down Golden Voice.

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    Disruption and Social Media Campaign Planning

    A packed out room was the audience to the first Techmap Monday in London, with a keynote presentation by Mike Williams from Isobar.

    One of the most interesting things that came out of the talk was the concept of Disruption. What Mike was suggesting was that the really successful campaigns build on the ideas of DNA (our physiological ability to perceive phenomena), schema (our expectations of the world), and then attempt to disrupt these expectations to stand out.

    As a concept it seems to have grated with a few of the attendees, although I’m not entirely certain they were on the same wave length as Mike. Disruption as a stand alone word or concept is admittedly not something you’d want to do to an audience, it has aggressive and dubious connotation. When put into the context of schema, however, it holds a whole new meaning, and is indeed something that any marketing campaign should aim to do.

    One of Mike’s key examples was a campaign he was involved with for Nokia. The campaign essentially involved rigging up a huge signpost in London and handing the control over to the passing public. People were able to text things to the signpost and get temporary control over where it pointed and what it read.

    Disruption on a big scale. Signposts are things that are concrete and unchangeable. No one really knows how they are made, who makes them, who decides what goes on them and how many get put up. However, the potential to suddenly take control over the linguistic landscape, and not on just a normal sign but on a HUGE SIGN. This gave people control over a huge temporary landmark. It temporarily removed power from the controlling bourgeoisie and gave it to the people.

    Aside from sounding revolutionary, and perhaps guilty of a tinge of hyperbole, it is a true example of how disruption works. The huge sign disrupted the idea of a normal sign, the control over its contents disrupted the idea that we have nothing to do with these things.

    The Old Spice Guy, for example, disrupted the relationship between the YouTube format and time. Instead of every video being old and heavily edited, it was as live as it could be, it was candid, it was really interactive.

    It would be imprudent to say that this is the holy grail of marketing – disruption tactics would not work for every campaign, and if they were used uniformly across the industry they would inevitably be less effective, but it is fair to say that a large proportion of the ‘viral’ content that comes and goes does violate these ‘norms’ that we hold about the world.

    With social media marketing and campaigns there are undoubtedly elements that cannot be violated, but even in this domain (which is arguably a removed form the digital marketing spectrum regardless if whether it is used in the marketing mix or not) the cases which are earmarked as very effective or most creative are probably utilising disruption at some level to make the message salient to the target audience.

    An excellent presentation by Seth Godin on TED has this underlying message also. It’s about standing out – no one notices a cow, because a cow is mundane and banal. A purple cow, though?

    It is important sometimes to step back and look at why things work, and to try to evaluate the processes involved in developing the concept for a campaign, right through to its completion and evaluation. It makes it easier to focus the essential creative energy needed for successful social media campaign design, and it gives us better insight at an earlier stage into whether an idea will work or not. It’s not just about

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    What Is Viral: My Thoughts

    This was going to be called ‘The War On Viral – AKA stop using that bloody word’, but I refrained because a.) I’ve become a little more SEO conscious recently and b.) the apparent negative slant to the afore mentioned title does not give precedence to genuine viral content, and runs the risk of detracting from it.

    And please don’t get me wrong – I LOVE viral content. For one thing it truly epitomises what is awesome about online culture and perfectly exemplifies, in a way, how much we love weird shit.

    Excuse my french.

    My problem lies in the intention behind viral content.

    Let me explain.

    As I have used this example before, I see no reason to not use it again. Although it might be considered bad practice to re-use examples, this perfectly makes my point. Video in the break (pretty sure you’ll recognise it)

    The old classic. For many this was the beginning of online marketing (or at least it was a wake up to brands that online activity could seriously damage their brand). While other videos have gone more viral in its stead, it still set the precedent – and for me at least is an example of the pure form.

    United breaks guitars was not created for hits. It was simply the response from a pissed off customer to a complete lack of customer service and care from a huge airline (they subsequently got fu**ed I believe, although this was only one of the reasons – don’t quote me on this)

    And that is my problem – now days people are spouting BS, promising viral content, providing viral video as a service and generally completely missing the point.

    Viral is a description of a state, not a service.

    I’ve seen a fair few blogs that have echoed this point – You cannot make a viral video, you can only make a shareable video. Whether it goes viral or not it completely and utterly down to the audience which consumes it.

    This is certainly worth thinking about. There is probably a loose formula which can make a video more shareable than others, and therefore more likely to go viral, but there is not a magic formula for viral content.

    for example, a recent Techmap event saw Mike Williams from Isobar talk about digital planning. He talked about the concept of disruption; that campaigns needed to disrupt a persons view of the world to make a lasting impact. I will talk more about this idea in a subsequent blog post, but the point I am trying to make it that Mike was looking at how to navigate human psychology to make digital campaigns more effective. Unlocking the code to Viral behavior/exposure.

    Perhaps a more salient example of this is the famous CVIV from the ‘comms anarchist’ himself, Mr Graeme Anthony. Graeme was completing a move from Manchester, where he had been a successful PR professional, to London, where he hadn’t. Wrestling with a changing world and difficult job market, Graeme thought outside the box to get employment. But he didn’t stop there…

    He thought outside the stratosphere.

    Graeme took a tired format, and added new media. He combined new tech with old ideas and came up with a fresh and exciting permutation on how to sell yourself.

    If I had more to my CV than intern experience I would have followed suit.

    You can read over at Graeme’s blog about the aftermath of this incredible spark of genius, but if you don’t have the time to click (I appreciate this is already quite a long piece) then I shall pick out the most important bit in the context of the viral discussion. The @wearesocial crew asked Graeme if they could publish the CVIV to the world. 2 hours later and after a flurry of Twitter and email activity, Graeme emailed Robin Grant to see what the hell was up.

    A simple response was received: ‘you’re going viral’

    And this is my point. Graeme never intended for his video to even be shared, let alone hit the viral mark. Now you can ask anyone in PR or digital media who has half a head screwed on and mention the CVIV and they will glow in recognition of this incredible effort by Graeme, and how it really gave a breath of fresh air to a tired concept.

    Viral video cannot be enforced. Viral video can only be created through mass consumption. A video maker cannot produce mass consumption, and so must rely on making the video as consumable as possible.

    Quite often viral video is unexpected. It is borne of creative professionals who like to think outside the box, and who know the idea will resonate, but don’t see the degree to which this will happen before it does.

    So next time someone pitches you the creation of a viral product, be it a video, an app, or a game, just stop them in their tracks and ask them how.

    Because as they say, the pudding is in the eating…

    And if you have made it this far, I shall treat you with one of the greatest viral hits of them all, starring Will Farrel no less in… The Landlord.

    I think over 70 MILLION views pretty much equals viral…

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    How ‘Like’ Has Been Semantically Neutered by Facebook

    Until (very) recently, I consistently resisted the practice of ‘liking’ events on facebook which had a negative tangent. The number of times I have seen people ‘liking’ a breakup or ‘liking’ a ominous event has far surpassed any number I could keep a count of, and every time I found this happening I questioned the sanity of the people who clicked the button.

    But this all changed recently when a favourite hip-hop artist of mine, Brother Ali, began to post up on his page memories of an immensely talented rapper (also on the Rhymesayers label), Michael ‘Eyedea’ Larson (of Eyedea & Abilities), who had recently (and tragically) passed in his sleep. Cue a torrent of comments and ‘likes’ – mine included.

    What I realised is that the ‘like’ button has either separated from the semantic loading of the lexeme (word) ‘like’, or that the word its self has been ‘neutered’ by the Facebook platform. My clicking ‘like’ did not, as I had felt previously, signal my joy at this event. While Eyedea wasn’t my favourite artist, I did really (and will continue to) love his music. My like was signaling my agreement in the feelings of a lot of the respondents.

    The semantic content of ‘like’ has been dragged, kicking and screaming, into a different meaning. Devoid of polarity, ‘like’ has simply (or not) come to signal involvement, recognition, affiliation etc. While people like me will struggle with this for some time, the Gen Z kids will come to see this as normal.

    But it isn’t organic language change – the digital revolution has put a death to that. Common usage no longer dictates how words evolve over time. The frameworks which we interact with online are now having a significant effect on the way our language is shaped and moulded. This is a fascinating development, and while it is not a revelation, it is the most salient example of this phenomenon that I have yet come across.

    This would of course not be complete without a tribute to the late Eyedea. Brother Ali chose an awesome video with which to showcase the man’s incredible and unfathomable lexical creativity. RIP Eyedea, you were one of the best.

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    Digital Complaints and How Brands Can Deal With Them

    I recently came across the following video, which is a satirical take on some of the complaint-style youtube videos which have gone by in the past. The video in question was produced by some of the people over at Radian6, a company that produce an eponymous social media and engagement listening tool. Before I show you the Radian6 version, maybe you should take a look at the truly viral United Airlines complaint video:

    At the time of writing, the video has had just over 9.22 million views… For the full story behind the video, check the report on how this came about.

    The Radian6 guys have done a pretty funny tongue-in-cheek response to this kind of video – clearly more affiliated with the original United Breaks Guitars piece than any others that have been and gone. video in the jump:

    It’s a clever take on the genre which while its not actual laugh out lout material, still made me chuckle inside. A hearty private chuckle! Radian6, of course, provide software which would technically allow a brand to respond in this way should anything deflamatory crop up in the social space.

    Whether or not intensive monitoring of these social channels is a good idea remains to be seen. Sometime ago @mattrhodes wrote a blog post @ FreshNetworks on the dangers of brands over responding on Twitter, citing a podcast example from Lucy Kellaway (link on the freshnetworks blog ^) as an example of when it’s best to keep schtum when people criticise your brand. I think this is an important consideration…

    As a brand, managing your online reputation is important, but you should never go over the top. A guy with 3 followers can flame your brand into submission, but is unlikely to create any ripples (this is of course aside from the fact that they had something to flame you for in the first place). Responding to such a complaint gives the message more leverage than if you just leave it be.

    Of course, every complaint is an opportunity to improve your brand/service, and each should be given equal precedent at an internal level, but before you start addressing each and every complaint in the social space, you should probably make sure that its worth your time and money to do so.

    I’m not advocating tolerance with mediocrity – if there are things you should be doing better then you should endeavour to do so, but your energy may well be better served in addressing these issues than it would be monitoring the social web with a fine toothed comb.

    **update** An excellent post on what Social CRM is can be found here – great quote at the end:

    Simply responding to as many comments or tweets as possible is senseless and not scalable”

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    #superswarmLDN : a retrospective

    The anticipation was so great that I should have seen it coming, but alas I did not, and when I failed to get my superswarm badge I will admit I was a bit annoyed.

    And it is frustrating, especially because I was pretty ill that day, and I forced myself to make the trip to London in anticipation of the superswarm badge. Not only that but I tweeted my little heart off to promote the event too.

    However, the fact of the matter is that in general, everyone that attended did get their badges (even those that gamed it and checked in from home, you know who you are!). It was a perfect example of how a community can come together for the common good – obtaining a coveted achievement and doing a bit of networking at the same time. From a commercial side of things, the Jewel Bar @ Piccadilly has picked up a fair few followers on Twitter, and is now the official home of the first superswarm event in the UK. Not a bad bit of publicity really, especially as it was mentioned in numerous posts and news items before and after the event. It’s a good example of how a venue can leverage social media networks, particularly niche or young communities, to gain positive exposure and build their brand.

    Passers by may well have laughed at the ‘swarm’ of smartphone users all standing outside a bar staring at their phones. And I have to admit it was an amusing sight as we approached, whereby we joined them and did exactly the same thing.

    Foursquare is still a pretty young platform, both in its years, and perhaps too in its direction. There still isn’t really a clear focus on where the line between social networking, geolocation and game falls. My Town, the massively popular game on the iOS platform at least has a very clear distinction, but Foursquare has yet to define its self properly.

    As I’ve mentioned in a previous post, Foursquare is easy to game, and this is perhaps its biggest downside. Foursquare maintain support for phones without 3G, allowing users to check in using their browsers on the website. I wonder how much point there is to this – I know that  I would definitely not bother if it wasn’t for my smartphone. There are no available stats on how many users use this method, but I’d be surprised if it stays for good.

    On a final note, I did get the swarm badge – something I’ve been after for a long time too, and I was introduced to the awesome De Hems that night too. Good company, good beer. Still felt terrible the next day, though, and I’m only just getting better now. Worst cold so far this year. #win

    Head over here for Paul Clarke’s photos of the event

    **update** The awesome @Superswarm (Chris Pearson) has been fighting the corner of the people who remained badgeless after the event, and has come up top trumps. The badgeless are now appropriately decorated. Thanks, Chris!

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    The Evolution of Twitter as an Information Service

    Twitter recently announced that they were NOT a social media service, and with the release of Twitter 2.0 (I still haven’t got it yet!) it is clear that they mean it. The new permutation is more focused on being a news and content service than a social media platform, and while I initially rejected the distinction, it came to grow on me.

    I know it’s old news, the conference when this was announced was a few weeks ago now, but it has taken me some time to think about this revelation, and what it means for the social space.

    I’ve blogged before about how much I love Twitter, and for me there are definitely some solid social media aspects as to why this is the case. After reflection, however, I also realised that the information network part of Twitter played an equally large role in this perception.

    There is no denying the fact that Twitter is so much more than a social network. It’s social news, news without spin, news you cannot see (more on that in a bit), it’s interaction, discussion, collaboration, customer service, argument, controversy, TRENDING, fun… the list goes on.

    Part of my ‘awakening’ to the idea of Twitter as more than a social media service happened the other day when I was stuck on a train trying to get past a ‘major incident’ at Clapham Junction (this part is the news you cannot see). We were repeatedly told by the guard that this ‘major incident’ had caused a bottleneck and that we were queuing up to get past. Seemed to most of us that what was actually happening was the halting of our train while numerous others zoomed past. I decided that I wanted to know what had really happened, so I turned to twitter to see if Clapham was trending.

    It was.

    The one tweet that stuck out as being both enlightening and devoid of any editorial party line was by Emma and James Firth.
    George Cathcart Retweets

    I don’t know why getting this extra information made me feel more involved or connected to the incident, but getting drip-fed the same line over and over while your backside gets progressively more numb makes you thirsty for something of substance. Twitter provided that for me, and apparently countless others, too. I also felt connected to the hundreds of tired and pi**ed off commuters who just wanted to get home and have their tea. As Twitter-folk, we are at once the editors, distributors, promoters and moderators of the news we consume- that makes us pretty powerful. Perhaps it is this consumer power which is a key catalyst for brands investing in and developing social CRM strategies. A cynical motivation, perhaps – it would be nice to think that this shift in consciousness was for holistic reasons and not just businesses reacting to changing market conditions. (It’s really not all like that, so please excuse my cynicism!)

    As a closing comment, I’d like to turn your attention to this story, and in particular the third page. Work done by Neuroeconomist, Paul Zak, has suggested that social networking produces the same hormone response as face-to-face interaction. Oxytocin is the hormone responsible for the bond formed between a mother and her new-born baby, as well as being vitally important for the feelings of empathy, generosity, trust, and more. In an isolated experiment, Paul got Adam Penenberg, a writer for Fast Company, to interact online with people for 10 minutes. Blood tests were taken before and immediately after the task.Those 10 minutes saw an oxytocin spike of 13.2%, as well as marked reduction in stress hormones. This spike of oxytocin was similar to the spire that a friend of Dr Zak’s experienced when he got married.

    Obviously this is not a clinical study, and there is only one participant. Combine that with the fact that Adam is a regular user of social networks, and we have no grounds what so ever for generalising these results across any kind of population. It’s interesting food for thought, though. Dr Zak says that electronic connection is processed much the same way as face to face connection, and there are certainly similarities from what I’ve observed.

    The implications for this, if it were proved to be accurate, are fairly huge. From companies having an open policy on letting their employees tweet during the day, to brands really focusing on engaging with their customers using these channels. This in the hope that the warm fuzzy feeling they get when they develop a relationship with their brand creates brand affinity, and maximises advocacy and buzz.

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    New Twitter!

    Twitter released their new & updated platform today, to be rolled out across the twittersphere over the next few weeks. They announced it with an awesome video, which not only is an awesome edit job, but it epitomises what twitter is, what its for, and the ethos that twitter has come to hold.

    I’m a glutton for HD, professionally edited video in any case, but this really turns my buttons. I’ve been a die-hard Tweetdeck user for some time now due to the terrible UI twitter has had in the past, but the new one looks much more usable.

    I love Twitter, and the direction its going in. For me Twitter is more than a social media platform – when you use twitter and it becomes integrated into your general musings on life, it starts to reflect who you are as a person. This isn’t digital personality management, its a personality mirror.

    I’m going on a bit here, but perhaps you should look in your twitter mirror and see who you are.  I’m probably just a crazed enavgelist, and I know there are carefully monitored and considered profiles out there, but when you use Twitter for what it is supposed to be used for, its a voyage of self discovery and enjoyment, and is one of the very reasons that it is my favourite social media service.

    Of course, Twitter say they aren’t a social network, but what ever they are, I love em!

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