Tag Archives: social media

The Great Smartphone Blackout Challenge

I’m going to try challenging myself again. The last time I signed up for a challenge it was to do the Rapha Women’s 100 but due to circumstances beyond my control (weather and sickness) I wasn’t really up to it. I’m up to it now though – I’ve had a great time cycling for the last couple of months. I’m going to do a big ride before the summer is over – thinking of doing Arran in September, and I am going to cycle every day in Ardnamurchan when I am on holiday – but I’m going to give myself another challenge.

The new challenge is this. I’ve been tidying up recently and I came across a bunch of old diaries and notebooks and while it was funny and a bit sad reading about things from the past it also made me think of how much I don’t read, think or write any more.

At work I do loads of the above and it’s a relief to know that my brain hasn’t completely atrophied, but I don’t do it for myself anymore. I could say that motherhood is to blame, but it’s not. It’s a much older problem than that. Since I abandoned my academic ambitions about 5 years ago I gradually stopped reading as much. When I was doing my masters and PhD I read all the time, and not just the books I needed to read as part of my research. I read at least one novel a week, I read the London Review of Books, the Guardian, the New Statesman, The New Yorker, heck, I also read Grazia religiously.

Now I hardly read anything.

Actually, I probably read as many words but it’s all soundbites on my phone. I am a compulsive smartphone user.

There. I said it. I’ve come out. I’ve come clean.

I have to see what everyone is saying on Twitter. I have to see what pints people are drinking on Instagram. I have to know what time people’s kids went to bed on Facebook. I have to know what the latest Mumsnet controversy is.

Social media and smartphones are amazing. In a sense, the fact that I love them so much is great because I know how they work inside out and it makes me quite good at my job and, (tenuously) therefore, social media and smartphones pay my mortgage.

Far from wanting to bite the hand that feeds me, I don’t want to ditch my phone and my online friends completely. But I am thinking of imposing some rules on myself to try and free my brain before it’s too late. But I am afraid I am pretty bad at the whole willpower thing.

I was thinking I needed to actually go back to university and do a part time MA just so the discipline was there to get things done but a quick review of suitable courses reveals that in the 8 years since I did my MA fees have gone crazy mad! It’s somewhere between 5 and 12 grand to do a master’s these days. Mental!

So I need some willpower. Here are my rules.

  1. I am allowed on the social media apps between waking up and 8.30 in the morning, and again at night between 6.30 and 8pm.
  2. The only use outside of these times permitted is to share something relevant to work or to use Strava when I am out cycling. Or to use Instagram where appropriate. Or if I am waiting for something and I don’t have anything better to do/more interesting to read. But in that case I should read a newspaper app or articles I have favourited but not read on Twitter.
  3. The other rule is that I have to read a book at least every fortnight and write about it here.

That’s a scary rule. But it’s cheaper than doing another master’s.

So, you heard it here first. If I haven’t posted a book review here by Saturday 24 August then you have the right to have a go at me.



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What is a weavr?

Yesterday I got retweeted by a weavr.

(I’m actually quite amused by this sentence.  Four years or so ago that would have been nonsense.)

‘My’ weavr, SpectatorLDN, seems human at first, but a bit weird. She’s ‘anxious’ and blogs about things she ‘sees’ in London. But weavrs aren’t human, they’re robots with ‘human personalities’.

Weavrs explore the web and document what they find. As they interact, they become more and more like real personas, becoming difficult to distinguish from a human.  Using the vast amount of public data available, they blog about ‘themselves’: how they feel, where they go and what they experience, sharing ‘slippy’ content from around social media.

According to Canvas8, by 2015, 10% of our online ‘friends’ will be non-human.  We will follow entities like weavrs because they will offer us a targeted, personal seeming stream of relevant information.  They will provide us with useful stuff, without going on about their pets or their kids or what they’re having for lunch.

The implications for online marketing are quite large.  Remember Ananova?  This is the real deal.  If people like dealing with online robots like weavrs because they become useful informers – and even regular companions, they they will be an enormous success.

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Speculation about location based status

I saw the infographic below earlier today on Griffin Farley’s blog and it’s been stuck in my head ever since.

It’s new stats about how Twitter and other social media is being used.

The thing that really stands out is the high proportion of location based Facebook statuses and tweets coming from airports.  I think there is an insight here that could be built upon.

Why do people want to tell people they’re at the airport so much?

Is it because they want to show people how important they are, they have to travel for work?

Is it because they are a wee bit (or a big bit) scared of flying and they want to ‘mark’ their tracks in the sand so to speak?

Or is it just that they are bored and want everyone to know they are bored, is it just something to do before they get to where they are going?

I wonder if people are more likely to write their status or tweet about airports when they’re coming home, or when they’re going away?

I wonder what use airlines – or other brands – could do with the answers to these questions.

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Check out Sneakerpedia

I’ve just been checking out Sneakerpedia by Footlocker which did well at Cannes.  It only recently came to my attention via Twitter and I am glad it did.

Here’s some chat about it…

It’s really cool.  Not just because there’s lots of trainers on it.  But because it shows how powerful something like that is.  Harness the power of fans and you have true participation online.

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10 things creatives complain about (and how to turn them into better briefings)

While I was preparing my Social Media Week presentation last month I wanted to demonstrate the importance of creativity and creative strategy in social media.  In order to do this I had to question whether we needed a new briefing method for social media in particular.

So I did a wee survey of a load of creatives I know, and they pretty much all came up with the same complaints about briefs and briefings.  I found that the complaints encompassed all channels, and that ideas are ideas and the process is pretty much the same.

Here are those complaints, and some thoughts on how we can harness them to make better briefs and run better briefings, whatever you’re briefing for.

1. Why are we doing this?

A lot of the creatives I spoke to said they weren’t told what the point, the objective, of the exercise was, or where it fit into the bigger strategic picture.  In digital we are often asked to implement Above The Line work online, and this hardly ever works out well if we have to lift it straight across.  Online display advertising has to do something, in fact ‘display’ is a bit of a misnomer. It needs its own strategic thinking and infrastructure.

It has to lead to something; it has to engage, encourage/irresistibly invite participation.  Setting up a Facebook page or building an app works on the same principle.  This piecemeal/bandwagonesque approach to digital and social media still happens in some places, so I am told.  We have to think about what the brief is for, what success looks like.  Talk about the objective before you talk about the channel.  Is what we have been asked to do the right thing?  Involve your creatives in this discussion (with the client if possible,) and don’t be afraid to challenge your client.

2. What does the client expect?

Assuming that you’re happy with your client’s brief, you still need to communicate to your creative/designer what is in your client’s head.  This might be that they really liked Brand X’s campaign, and want something like that, or it might be that they hated it and want to make sure they get the antithesis of that.

It could be more subtle than this, of course.  It could be based on what ROI they are expecting, what conversion rate, in which case you really have to test, test and test your usability and make sure it’s going to tick all the right boxes…  Communicating this to your designer will save you headaches later on, anyway.  It’s not the same as doing what your client thinks they want (see point 1.)

3. What does the user get from this?

In the olden days the planner was the voice of the consumer in the agency.  They should still perform this role and look at a client’s brief – and concepts developed from them – with the same hat on.  They should help designers/creatives see things from the consumer’s point of view when design is taking place (as well as the client/account manager.)  Helps to reinforce point 1 as well.

4. You gave me too much/too little/confusing/irrelevant information

Creatives need information, but they need it sorted out for them.  They need to know what the 1, 2, 3, most important things are, whether that’s about the market, the consumer, the product, whatever.  They don’t need pages and pages of stuff.  The more time you spend thinking about what your designer needs to do his or her thing without being confused, the better.  Then you get the best out of their time.

5. This brief is just a copy of the client brief

I hate this.  It makes me swear and stamp my feet when I hear about it.  Sometimes a wee client brief for a banner or something like that comes in and it’s not thought of as important enough for its own thinking, so the brief is just copied and pasted across.

The thing is, a well executed, witty and effective little banner is a Thing of Great Beauty and deserves love and attention just like anything else.  Give it the thinking time it deserves.  I guarantee you will get better results.

The little things are the big things, as the wise man said.

6. I’ve been given too many directions

Creatives get really upset if everyone tries to get involved in their project.  Protect them from committees and their opinions.  Decide at the beginning who can give your designer feedback, and agree amongst everyone what direction you’re going to take things in. Then no one’s feelings are going to get hurt and you’ll get better work.

7. This isn’t the right briefing team

The schedule is a tyrant and sometimes the person who knows the brand best just isn’t free to do all the work on it.  However, they should have time to sit in on the briefing and share their knowledge and thoughts on the brief.  This helps a lot.  They might know wee foibles in the brand guidelines or something about what the client likes/doesn’t like.  Remember to involve them!

8. Are these the right details?

Apparently some people don’t get told what format the work is to be in, PSD or Flash number X or whatever.  It’s not my field of expertise but it’s a big deal to designers and can save a whole load of hassle.

9. What requirements will restrict me?

Brand guidelines, templates, links to landing pages, use of language or whatever.  They can all restrict what a designer can do, where the idea can come from.

10. Where is my creative freedom?

Finally, this question comes up.  It’s funny that it comes last.  In many ways it is the most important question.  Issues 1-9 above often seem to restrict that freedom quite a lot, but with a good creative strategy – a good base of ideas – to work from, there should still be a lot of creative freedom.

I hope this helps.  Some of it seems quite obvious but I know it can get a bit pushed to one side when people are under pressure.  I’ve turned them into a quick checklist for the briefings I am involved in.  It’s important to remember just how much a tiny bit of thinking time can save you in the long run.

If you liked this my whole presentation is available to see on video here or you can have a look at the slides here:

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The simplest ideas are the best

A big thank you to Iain Tait for bringing this genius but simple Facebook promotion to my attention.

So simple, so clever.  I am jealous.  That’s all I have to say.

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More about Twitter and customer service

An interesting post from RMM this week – they had a similar, but even better, experience to mine regarding making a complaint about a brand on Twitter…

They raise an interesting point though – if people think that they will get something for nothing if they complain publically on Twitter, then will people start making bogus complaints?  Will companies only do nice things for Tweeters with lots of followers?  How powerful is a complaint on Twitter?  Pretty powerful if you are Stephen Fry, but what about those with modest followings?

I don’t have the answers, but it will be something I’ll be keeping an eye on and perhaps arguing about in the pub.

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