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Contagion’s Bacterial Billboard Goes Viral

14 09 2011

For years agencies have offered and clients have demanded advertising campaigns that will “go viral”.  Roughly translated as we have money for a creative execution but no budget for media.   Agencies and clients don’t decide if videos go viral, audiences do that. Here however is a real ‘viral’ clip or more accurately ‘bacterial’.  It was created to promote the film Contagion.

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Did foam plate #hackgate attacker tweet his plan?

19 07 2011

Self styled comedian and UK Uncut supporter Jonnie Marbles (pictured here) was tweeting live from the culture media and sport select committee session immediately before the bizarre attack on Rupert Murdoch with a foam filled paper plate having enquired about the order of appearance he tweeted at 15.01 “I’m actually in this committee and can confirm: Murdoch is Mr. Burns.”

At 10 to 5 just seconds before the incident he tweeted; “It is a far better thing that I do now than I have ever done before #splat”.  He hasn’t tweeted since.   I think that’s a bit suspect.





Gaga Pips Bieber to the 10 Million Twitter Post

15 05 2011

Lady Gaga is the first entity to gain 10 million followers on Twitter.  Although teen idol Justin Bieber is gaining followers at a faster rate, 23,000 a day against Gaga’s measly 22,000, he still has around 300k to go before he crosses the line.

It’s only two years since the biggest account on twitter had just a million people hanging on to actor Ashton Kutcher’s ever 140 character missive. His @aplusk account narrowly beat CNN breaking news @cnnbrk.  Before that @BarackObama had been the number one account.  Gaga’s milestone confirms a number of observations:

  • On-line and off-line popularity are pretty much the same thing.
  • Twitter is a broadcast channel.  It is not the only thing it does but 10 million is pretty broad (even if they’re not all following every utterance).
  • Twitter is also a highly effective news feed – lots of traditional news media have large follower numbers. Create a list and you have a customisable news channnel.
  • Twitter is now firmly part of the celebrity PR portfolio.

@JustinBieber is gaining on @LadyGaga but her twitter account was the first to hit 10 million followers and at the current rate it may be several months before the teenage Canadian crooner captures the twitter topspot.





The Curious Case of Connect.Me

9 03 2011

Earlier today San Francisco web developer Joe Johnston launched his contribution to the social web with a small post via his twitter account @simple10.  It said simply “connect.me beta sign-up launched http://cxt.me/cn2Wfw“.

He doesn’t have a huge following but within hours the twittersphere was buzzing and some high-profile people were registering connect.me profiles without actually knowing what was on offer.  Secrecy seemed to be at the heart of the launch strategy; “We’d love to share more” said the site “but we’re in ninja stealth mode and would regrettably have to kill you.”  Part of the sign-up process seems to have involved (personally I wouldn’t touch it without knowing more) granting access to your social networks with the promise “We’re a better way to manage your connections and a better way for online communities to discover and connect”.

I don’t know about you but it seems pretty asymmetric to me to grant access to your social graph with zero information on offer as to why or what for.  However the desire to register your user name seems to be a big driver as many people did just that.

It looks like connect.me has found ways to get various types of data, particularly from Facebook once the user has provided a one-off authentication.  It will also call on data from Twitter and LinkedIn.   That might provide an exciting way of linking your social networks but equally it seems pretty scary granting that kind of access without knowing why.





5 Reasons Why Quora Will Miss the Mainstream

25 01 2011

Robert Scoble; American blogger at Scobleizer, technical evangelist, and author, wrote on Boxing Day a post entitled ‘Is Quora the biggest blogging innovation in 10 years?’

PC Magazine, Techcrunch, TNW and FastCompany echoed the sentiment and the UK’s conservative ‘Daily Telegraph’ brought in the new year with an article entitled ‘Quora will be Bigger than Twitter’.  I think they may be wide of the mark and here are 5 reasons why:

1.  It lacks ‘new-ness’ There isn’t anything in the content that is radically new.  Yahoo Answers provides a Q&A format with voting up and down.  Twitter provides interaction and Wikipedia provides information.

2. It’s Not a Network You don’t really have a community around Quora.  The Follower/Following numbers on your profile lack any real relevance.  Because usually they are built around pre-existing networks on Facebook or Twitter the follower totals aren’t evidence of an authentic Quora based network.

3. There Aren’t Many Girls In fact the demographic so far is very, very narrow.  It’s skews male, 25-34 and educated to graduate level.  It’s also high income and exceptionally white.  You can’t be mainstream if you don’t appeal to everyone.  At the moment it is geeky and the audience is pretty much the same as Slashdot.

4.  It lacks Serendipity With Twitter and Facebook you see a lot of things that you don’t expect to.  The structure whereby you follow topics means that you see on Quora pretty much what you expect to see and it’s a bit dull. There I’ve said it.

5. It’s Really, Really Hard to be Mainstream How many mainstream social networks are there versus the number that tried and failed?  If Google struggles then it’s clearly a tough task.





Quora and How to Become the ‘Next Big Thing’

5 01 2011

A brief glance at my twitter feed at any point of the day yesterday and someone, somewhere was signing up for Quora.

Anxious not to be left behind in the social stampede, I followed the herd.  What I found was a nicely designed if fairly unremarkable social utility that feels like the love-child of Twitter and Yahoo Answers, with a bit of Digg DNA thrown in for good measure.  I actually quite like it, but so far I’m waiting to be convinced that the information I can get from posting questions on Quora isn’t available from a combination of Google and a bit of social search on Twitter.

What did stand out was the sudden surge in interest.  It isn’t simply that I move in geeky social circles, a quick look at Google search numbers shows that searches for Quora have increased ten fold since Christmas.  I know that no two social sites are the same but it has taken me over three years to amass a meagre 99 Facebook friends. My band of brothers and sisters on Quora hit three digits in a few hours.  Something had to be going on.

A quick trawl suggests that third-party recommendation from a trusted source is as powerful as it ever was and perhaps more so amongst those eager to discover the ‘next big thing’ in the social sphere.  Step forward one Robert Scoble; American blogger at Scobleizer, technical evangelist, author, former technology evangelist and oracle to 156,775 followers on twitter.  On Boxing Day he blogged ‘Is Quora the biggest blogging innovation in 10 years?’ effectively endorsing the site as the next big thing.  PC Magazine, Techcrunch, TNW and FastCompany were amongst the many media outlets that piled in.  Even the UK’s conservative ‘Daily Telegraph’ opined that ‘Quora will be Bigger than Twitter’.   Searches for Quora bear out the hypothesis that it all kicked off on Boxing Day.

Time will tell as to whether the early adopters stick with Quora and if the current flood of  interest is enough for the site  to break through in to the social network stratosphere.

Bear in mind also that Quora only went public in June.   For now it’s all about the hype and proof if proof were needed that if you have something to launch, the right kind of endorsement is still an crucial part of the mix.





Jaffa Cakes and the New PR

4 01 2011

As I type Jaffa Cakes is a trending topic in the UK on Twitter. Why? Well mainly because as ‘cakes’ rather than enhanced biscuits they are exempt from the UK 20% VAT rate that comes into force today.

The manufacturer McVities classed its Jaffa Cakes as cakes, but in 1991 this was challenged by UK Customs and Excise and the case ended up in court.  McVities argued that Jaffa Cakes were miniature cakes showing that biscuits would normally be expected to go soft when stale, whereas cakes would be expected to go hard, something that an out of date Jaffa is inclined to do.   The court ruled that the Jaffa Cake is a cake and therefore VAT free.

What has that got to do with PR (new or old) I hear you cry.  Well PR has always used news hooks and the VAT hike to 20% is a on of today’s headlines.  The social web picks up on quirky stories particularly where there is a contentious debate at the core e.g. Jaffa; cake or biscuit?  There is no doubt that if a product trends on twitter it will shift a few packs from the shelves, particularly if there is a price advantage central to the news story.

So have McVities done anything to fuel the social media debate?  Actually although there is a well followed Facebook page, the biscuit, sorry cake, manufacturer has been surprisingly quiet on the subject.   I think they’ve missed a trick.  There was plenty that they could have done; they could published details of their 1991 legal arguments on Facebook,  engaged in debate using the (apparently dormant) twitter account or simply issued a press release that would have fueled the debate both off and on-line.

The PR industry has always known how to make the most of a news story.  The new PR means that you need to be ready to do that not just through conventional media but through social channels.  That you way you can have your cake…








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