Archbishop Pontificates On Social Networks

3 08 2009

Is the leader of the Catholic Church in England and Wales using his opposition to social networks as a way of building his own profile?  Archbishop Vincent Nichols has argued that MySpace and Facebook are the basis of “transient” friendships and can be a factor in suicide among young people as a result of relationships which have collapsed.  The truth is that young people are vulnerable to relationship issues wherever and however they occur.  

If the Archbishop, who was enthroned just two months ago as successor to the high profile Cardinal Cormac Murphy-O’Connor wanted headlines he got them.  He wouldn’t be the first Catholic cleric to capture column inches via Facebook.  Cardinal Crescenzio Sepe of Naples who openly takes a very different stance on social networks opened a Facebook site in November and within a few weeks gained  5,000 ‘friends’.  

A more useful contribution from the cloth came from Giles Fraser, the vicar of Putney who on the BBC Radio Today programme this morning, described social networks as “thin communities” which allow for freedom and social diversity where young people can “keep friendships alive”.  

I think the important issue here is the relevance and importance of the expertise.  When it comes to understanding new technologies and emerging communications channels we simply shouldn’t be turning to religious (or political) leaders for advice.






SlySpace, Fakebook and Twimposters

26 02 2009

The term cybersquatting was coined when websites first became publicy available.  People would buy domain names using company or brand names or the names of celebrities and then try to flog them back at inflated prices.  A similar thing is now happening in social networks but potentially the outcomes are far more damaging.

Individuals are signing up on facebook, twitter and across the web to the identities of celebrities, and sometimes brands too.  It costs them nothing and they are not selling the online persona back to their ‘rightful’ owners they are using them to impersonate.   For many the intentions have been harmless but not for all.  The fake Facebook account for Kate Winslett in which she apparently called her screen rival and fellow Oscar nominee Angelie  Jolie , a “fat-lipped crazy cow” amused Kate apparently but that might not always be the case.  A blog called Valebrity has taken on the task of validating celebrities on line and Jonathan Ross has appointed himself as twitter ‘star’ czar.

The act of impersonating others on twitter is also being used for political ends.  John Ransford the Chief Executive of the Local Government Association has a ‘Twimposter’ who has been actively defaming him for weeks and the leading light of the Labour new media movement Derek Draper has pointed people in the direction of a fake David Cameron.

Companies and brands should be cautious too, with the growth of the social web and the velocity at which content spreads, charlatans of  the social web may be ot there doing real harm to their business.





Who’s the Pimp?

18 02 2009

I have read a couple of posts recently by leading PR evangelists talking in disparaging terms about ‘pimping’ blogs in social networks.  It seems that it is unseemly to post too many links to your own scribblings in twitter and elsewhere.

I’m going to ‘fess up right now, I ‘tweet’ a link to pretty much every post I write on this blog and on PR Media Blog the agency blog for Staniforth\  (I also recommend blogs by my colleagues) and I think that it is a right and proper thing to do for a number of reasons.

  • One of the most important functions of the social web is to promote and share content. Links maketh the web.
  • If I don’t link to what I post I really shouldn’t expect others to do it for me.
  • It’s completely opt in.  If you don’t want to follow the link, you won’t and if it really offends you, you will vote with your feet and unfollow, delink or unbefriend.   Market forces are alive and well on the social web even if they seem to have deserted the global economy.
  • I can’t say everything I want to in 140 characters.
  • I want the people I follow to tell me when they’ve written something.  It’s more personal than an RSS feed (and I’m a bit slack when it comes to looking at my feed readers). 

This having been said there are some conventions to observe and room for a well mannered approach

  • Promote other people’s content as well as your own.
  • Maintain a healthy balance and add some thoughtful microblogs to your twitterstream.
  • Keep your friends and followers in mind whatever it is you say or link to.

There is a final argument in favour of the promoter.  This blog has a twitter presence (@SOCIALWEBPR).  It does nothing but pump out links to this blog….and it is about to overtake my personal twitter presence in terms of follower numbers, oh and it never follows it just follows back.   I can only conclude that  the simple  links are more compelling than my innumerable  assorted micro-ramblings.








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