21 February 2013
Once again, Twitter is in the news, and this time, it's because
of hacking. Both Burger King and Jeep have seen their accounts
targeted in the last couple of days, with hackers claiming the
brands have been bought out by respective rivals McDonalds and
Cadillac. A social media disaster in many ways, but there has been
a bright side - Burger King gained 30,000 followers as a
We can only assume that this is what MTV had in mind when they
decided to fake a hacking last night. Their Marketing Director
tweeted "Everyone watch @mtv right now... #MTVHACK" four minutes
before the first "hacked" @MTV post.
Putting aside how ridiculous this is - if my client got hacked, I
certainly wouldn't be directing people to it, I'd be sorting it out
- it's just not a good idea, on any level. Brands who successfully
interact with consumers through social media do so because they are
bright, engaging, interesting and, crucially, because they have
integrity. No-one likes to feel that they've been duped.
My overwhelming thought on this is that it's just very naїve.
You don't need to have been working in PR for even a decade to
remember the ruckus around "astroturfing", where brands were faking
grassroots PR online by posting reviews and blog comments under
pseudonyms. This is exactly the same, just using a different
channel. The internet is no longer a new and mysterious channel,
and we all know consumers are getting increasingly savvy - there's
no getting away with this type of behaviour. I'd have hoped that as
an industry, we'd have all grown up a bit.
If you want to read more, it's also worth checking out
Forbes' views for a slightly different take on the
Twitter | 1 comment
11 February 2013
As soon as something newsworthy (or not in some cases) takes
place, Twitter will have covered it. One of its
200 million users will have tweeted about it. And then it
begins. The retweets, the unanswered questions, the conversations,
the hash tags and the arguments over opinion. It doesn't take long
before the item is trending. But just as quickly as it all started,
the trend can be gone. New events will have taken place and
something else will be the topic for discussion.
Where am I going with this you might ask?
Well, Twitter recently announced improvements to its search
capabilities that could have a huge impact on breaking news.
Twitter knows what terms and topics are popular but it hasn't
previously known what they mean - this is something its algorithms
alone can't answer and so Twitter has come up with a solution. It's
built in a 'real-time human computation' engine to help identify
search queries as soon as they're trending and make sense of
Twitter firstly monitors what search queries are currently most
popular. This could be anything -
we've all seen the ridiculous things that can trend on Twitter (NO
JOKE: Justin Bieber
is trending as I type. Give me strength). Then when a new popular
search query is identified it is sent to Twitter's human evaluators
who are asked a number of questions about the query - their job is
to make the trending topic more relevant to readers. After an
evaluator responds to the query with additional insight,
information is pushed out so that the next time a user searches the
query this information is utilised with relevant ads, tweets and
topical news. This will help piece the query together and provide a
more relevant and up-to-date story of the trending subject.
What does this mean?
It means that Twitter could potentially have the upper hand on
breaking news stories. I am increasingly turning to Twitter to find
out the latest on celebrity
gossip. The items that appear from a Google search can be outdated;
whereas I know I'll find the most up to date information on
Twitter. The only issue I have with Twitter is if the insight is
trustworthy. I know if I read an article on The Times or
The Telegraph I can take the information and know that it's
come from a trustworthy source. However, Twitter's new search
capabilities will make search queries more relevant and easier to
determine how truthful the information is.
What are your thoughts? Do you turn to Twitter to search for
Google, Search Engine, Twitter, news, newspapers, search, The Times, The Telegraph, followers, hashtag, conversation, retweet, tweet | 1 comment
07 January 2013
It shouldn't *really* be a surprise that people
tweeting ad infinitum about social media techniques and tips should
describe themselves as 'social media gurus', but the
report from What's Next Blog shows how ridiculous this
self-aggrandising chest thumping has got.
Over 180 thousand twitter users describe themselves as 'social
media gurus' in some shape or form, with some of the worst
perpetrators being those who modestly dub themselves 'warriors',
'mavens', and (strangely, given the industry's relatively nascency)
What would be interesting would be to assess the
*actual* guru-ness of these people. In my
experience, accounts who boast such a title are often the worst
culprits for spamming linkbait blogs repeating the same old
nonsense - let's be honest, there is a genuinely finite amount you
can write about how to run a good social media programme or
engaging twitter account. It doesn't need a dozen posts a day to
explain it. Furthermore, they often have tens of thousands of
followers, but rarely a RT - they're not practising what they
preach by means of engagement.
What really annoys me though is that these accounts follow
people, then, within 24 hours, unfollow if they're not followed
back, or unfollow you the moment you do so to them (when you get
bored of being spammed crap blogs).
Twitter isn't about reciprocal follows, it's about following
people you find interesting, funny, or informative; 'follow me if I
follow you' is the wrong approach, yet so many self-styled 'social
media gurus' do just that - harvesting followers to increase their
We're all, individually and as an industry, constantly learning
about the opportunities social media brings and finding new (and
not always perfect) ways of using platforms in the best way
possible. However, calling yourself a guru is perhaps arrogant at
best and when you fail to grasp the basics, downright annoying.
Social media, Twitter, facebook, social media guru, annoying, LinkedIn, follow, unfollow, spam | 3 comments
01 October 2012
X Factor for Tech is an insult
Not content with bombarding the music industry with asinine,
flash-in-the-pan acts through the X Factor franchise, Simon Cowell has today decided that there is another sector
in need of his own anti-Midas touch: namely 'Tech'. He wants to
unearth the next Bill Gates, Mark
Zuckerberg, or Steve Jobs, apparently.
This is a man who has chauffeured the music industry toward some
of its darkest times where up and coming independent bands have
little chance of breaking through, and instead thousands of punters
across the globe queue for his anointed blessing, '1,000% yes', and
lascivious wink. This aside from the fact that only the tiniest
minority can actually hold a note; most are plucked from Lucky
Voice on a Saturday night, and some are genuinely mentally unwell
and in need of support rather than public ridicule.
He's now unleashing this genius toward the tech industry,
because clearly it's doing badly, happily growing and creating jobs
all on its own. It clearly needs his talent to help us continue,
along with trusty sidekick Will.i.am who brings a long legacy in tech,
having whacked his brand on a laptop or two.
The more I think of it, the more I think it's just insulting to
those driving the tech industry, and a tragic, slightly vile sign
of the times. What does Cowell think he knows about tech that
others don't? Why does he think this vibrant industry
*needs* him? What does he bring that the East
London scene doesn't already?
Start-ups are volatile enough as it is and the majority don't
last - surely, the last thing the scene needs is a naïve,
cash-hungry, industry-ignorant celebrity trying to solve its ills.
It's an insult to those currently helping nurture start-ups that
Cowell thinks he can walk in and make the Next Big Thing happen
through reality TV. It's not saved the music industry, it just
drove it closer to the cliff edge - let's pray he doesn't do the
same with the start-up world…
, tech city | Leave comment
13 September 2012
Having worked in several different sectors of PR I think I'm
justified in saying I've paid my dues. From dancing with a rapping
cow all day in a field, to nights in the office late enough to
justify ordering breakfast… I've been there; written the pitch. But
working on more taxing campaigns just makes it all the
sweeter when such great projects comes along. Cue Cisco's BIG Awards.
When we began work on the British Innovation Gateway
(BIG) campaign - Cisco's legacy piece as the Official Network
Infrastructure Supporter of the London 2012 Olympic and Paralympic
Games - we were clear on one point: we wanted to use Cisco's
position as an industry leader to inspire, discover and nurture
tech talent in the UK.
We live in a time of extraordinary technological advancement and
outstanding innovation. But there have been grumbles about how few
of the big ticket ideas come from the UK compared to our American
pals across the pond. We're a clever bunch, and Britain's
technology legacy is rich - the phone, the television, the WORLD
WIDE WEB - but there seems to be a limit sometimes to the level we
push ourselves to achieve. Tweetdeck, yes; Twitter, no. So what do
we do to bridge this gap?
We set out to find the unsung heroes of the UK tech scene by
launching a five year awards programme which tied into the wider
BIG campaign. The Cisco team was clear on one point when we began
planning the Cisco BIG Awards: a cash prize alone was not enough.
Feedback from SMEs over the years indicated that money is all well
and good, but without expert advice, mentoring and resources it
will only carry you so far. So Cisco lined up some tremendous
partners to help make the Cisco BIG Awards as beneficial to the
winner as possible - Bird & Bird, DNX and even us here at
Octopus will join Cisco to deliver legal, PR, digital and industry
mentoring, in addition to the cash prize.
The level of entry - as clichéd as it may sound - was
exceptional. This was compounded by Dragons' Den style
presentations by the six finalists last night at Cisco House. There
were some real 'oh I wish I'd thought of that' moments and the
judging panel - which included our very own Octopus MD, Jon Lonsdale - had a hard
task it must be said, but in the end three really stood out.
The winner in particular is AMAZING. Snap Fashion allows
users to search for clothing items via a visual search engine -
simply take a photograph of something you've seen or an item you
own and the app will scan more than 110 UK fashion retailers to
find a match. Impressive stuff. Runners up included Digital Shadows, a
clever cyber protection tool, and Six3, a very slick video
It's been a pleasure to work on this campaign and to meet all
the entrants - and we're excited to start working with Snap Fashion
very soon! With more projects like this, with more corporate buy in
and support, I'm sure the UK will be back on top of the tech map in
cisco, Technology, Innovation, London 2012, Olympics, Cisco BIG awards, SME, start-ups, Paralympics, Britain, UK, mentoring, fashion, Dragons' Den | 3 comments
12 July 2012
At the beginning of this year, Disruptive Analysis
Bubley set out on a novel approach to monetising his opinions
and research via twitter by establishing @DAPremium, a paid for
subscription model for his insight into the mobile industry. This
sits alongside his standard (free) feed @disruptivedean,
where he publishes other findings which will, he hopes, drive
traffic to the premium service.
To access the premium feed, users have to pay online and then
get accepted by Dean to follow him - it's a simple development of
Tweets" privacy setting.
It's such a brilliant model; I'm amazed more people /
organisations aren't doing it, (a Swedish charity, Stockholms
Stadsmission, which looks to address homelessness in the capital,
successfully trialled such a premium service last year
I spoke to Dean about his approach and he explained that he puts
more company-specific material behind the paywall as well as some
elements of his research, and for the subscription price
($100/quarter or $300/year), his premium followers have access to
pithier insight than on the free platform. Dean also uses the
platform to add value to people buying consulting services or
coming to his/Martin Geddes' workshops, and he protects the premium
tweets through terms and conditions banning any RTing or
forwarding, and also (where feasible) promises subscriber replies
to questions posed on the DAPremium feed.
Dean says the operation can be "clunky" to run and administer so
such a model would not work for those with thousands of followers,
(he takes the payments himself through PayPal, so authorisations
and ensuring the right people have access to the feed can be time
However, with over 50 people already signed up, even if they're
paying by the quarter, Dean is generating a healthy dollar return
per year in subscriptions. This is certainly nothing to be sniffed
at, given the reasons behind DAPremium being set up; (to quote Dean
from his blog) "Twitter is like tax - as an analyst, you have
to grit your teeth and do it, painful, time-consuming and
distasteful as it is. I end up spending time on Twitter that could
be more profitably spent writing posts on this blog, advising
clients or taking briefings. It adds cost, but brings little in the
way of value or revenue".
So what next for the feed? Dean says he'd like to turn it into a
community, although is mindful of the time that might take to
manage, but he's hopeful of it becoming more a forum than
I think it's a great way of protecting - and monetising - his IP
as an analyst, and is already proving successful. Despite a few
people speculating on the idea for a couple of years, no-one other
than Dean, from what I can see, has put it into practice, and it's
good to see it a success.
Others may want to sit up and take notice - this could catch
Chris Owen / @wonky_donky
, Twitter, premium feed | 2 comments
02 July 2012
This time last week I was at home, recovering from the
Isle of Wight
Festival and basking at the sheer joy of being home, and clean,
and on a proper bed, and clean, and having had more than three
hours sleep, and importantly…being clean.
The idea to go the Festival was first seeded over a bottle of
wine, when I asked my friend whether being the tender age of 32 and
13 months made me too old to go to a festival. A gentle 'No babe'
was given in reply and a plan was hatched. Yes it might rain a bit,
yes it would involve camping and I'd be cold, but we'd have each
other and booze, which would make it all okay, right?
Our plan first seemed at risk when the weather report in the
week ahead looked shoddy at best. 'No fear', I said. 'I have a
Kagool and Jack Daniels, it will be ace.' The closer it got to the
event, the more it rained and the more nervous I became about it
being a mud-fest. So, I put my hope into modern communications to
aide me. After all, knowledge is power.
I became obsessed with weather reports and following anyone
vaguely useful on Twitter,
from official festival organisers and ferry operators through to
anyone tweeting about their journey. Come Thursday afternoon, day 1
of the festival, tales of woe were literally flooding in and there
was a Twitter frenzy with people complaining of being trapped in
their cars and on ferries in the Solent. No one could get
into the festival site due to mud and social media was awash with
panic. Rumours were spreading that thousands were trapped, the main
stage was sinking and the whole thing had been called off.
People wanted answers. What they got were two tweets. One at 2pm
in the afternoon saying that there were some difficulties getting
people on site. The next one six hours later saying 'Cerys Matthews
is opening the Big Top' which was understandably met with a torrent
of expletives from people who were still stuck on the road and
hadn't moved in eight hours.
It comes down to this. If you have a Twitter presence, use it.
If people have questions, answer them. If you have nothing to say
or update people on, tell them. Just keep in touch. The organisers
said that they were busy helping people get on site which is why
they were unable to talk to media or put updates on Twitter. This
sounds noble enough but just doesn't cut it in an age where
everyone is online. Knowledge is power but if you opt for radio
silence, you lose that power and the online world will make up
their own reality.
In the end, after purchasing an extra groundsheet and an extra
bottle of Jack Daniels to see me though, we had a surprisingly easy
journey to the festival. Yes we renamed it 'Mudfest 2012', yes the
mud will haunt me for years to come and yes it was a brilliant
weekend in the end, but poor social media management meant that we
could have called it off altogether.
So, my two 'take-aways' from the weekend are as follows. Silence
isn't always golden, and white isn't always a sensible choice for
festival attire - evidence below.
, Social media, Twitter, Isle of White Festival | 4 comments
15 June 2012
I have a love / hate relationship with Twitter. Once an
avid fan, regular Tweeter (borderline overshare at times), I
embraced making friends, sharing news, and following celebrity
gossip for a good couple of years. But lately, that special bond
between me and Twitter has gone. I question my Tweets, "is this
relevant?" "is this boring" "who cares?", but mainly I'm finding
that Twitter has got a bit of a superiority complex.
Recently everyone has an opinion, and what was once a place for
'did you hear…" it has become a jury of know-it-alls, everyone has
an opinion. Take for example the
Argyll and Bute Council story today about them preventing a
young girl taking photos in the school canteen for her blog because
it was attracting too much attention. An OTT reaction on their
part? Perhaps. Worthy of a torrent of Tweets from anyone and
everyone, continually offering opinions, advice, criticism? Not
really. I've even seen a petition doing the rounds. I think it's
all about a little perspective.
Once a playground for raising awareness in a good way, remember
Alice's Bucket List?
Where we managed to get #alicebucketlist trending, and grant wishes
to a young girl suffering from terminal cancer. That's when Twitter
comes into its own and moves from a sounding board, to having a
real point and making a real difference.
Twitter is brilliant for creating opportunities for
everyone. From meeting new people, sharing ideas, asking
for advice, there always seems to be someone 'there'. I think at
the moment it just seems to have lost its way.
Twitter | Leave comment
01 June 2012
Driving to work this week enjoying the sunshine with my
window down and music turned up I was not best pleased when a stone
bounced off of a passing lorry straight towards my
windscreen. I closed my eyes but knew from the sound of the
stone hitting the glass that it had chipped. I decided to
take the mature route of cursing at the chip and at the lorry which
had now long gone and continued my drive to work. What a crap start
to the day.
When I got to work I vented my frustration on Twitter as most people do (we all
know that's what it's really for).
Within an hour I was surprised to see a reply from @Autoglass - especially
since I hadn't tweeted them directly or hash tagged them. My first
reaction was that it'd be a sales punt that would've caused my
frustration and annoyance to spiral. But I was pleased and shocked
to see it was a charming, friendly personal note. It cheered me
I replied, thanking them for the tweet, and said that I'd speak
to my insurers and give them a call if I needed any further help.
Turns out my insurers work with Autoglass anyway. So I gave
them a call, booked an appointment and they repaired it.
But what makes this even more remarkable is that it has very
little value for Autoglass (it only cost me £10 to have it fixed).
I was so impressed with how personal and effective they had been
that I've been telling everyone about it (as will this blog!). My
experience shows that using Twitter correctly can really help to
engage customers and help shape brand perceptions.
I later found out that Autoglass are using Radian6 which is how they came
across my tweet. They simply monitor tweets that contain
words like 'chip' and 'cracked' together with 'windscreen' and
'car'. Specific searches are set up so that irrelevant tweets
such as those that include the words 'chip' and 'fish' are ignored.
People tweeting about their dinner obviously won't need to be
I think this is a fantastic example of a brand engaging with
consumers through Twitter successfully. Autoglass listened and
understood my tweet before responding, were helpful without being
pushy and made an effort.
Social media, Twitter | 1 comment
21 February 2012
It's that time of the year again where we sit in awe of
all the beautiful celebrities as they make their way down the red
carpet wearing the dresses we'll never have; it's the month of
guilty pleasures, it's award season.
In the space of two weeks, the biggest award ceremonies on earth
happen; The Grammys, The BRIT Awards (ok, that one's maybe not the
biggest on earth, but definitely in the UK) and The Oscars. The
Grammys have been and gone and the Oscars are happening at the end
of the week, which leaves us with The BRITS taking place tonight. I
particularly enjoy The BRIT Awards because the UK has some
incredible talent and the winners are voted for by the public, not
a set of judges.
There has been a huge amount of hype on Twitter and other social
media platforms on who should win a BRIT Award, so it was only
right to use our client's social media monitoring tool, Meltwater Buzz, to look at
which artists dominated online conversations and generated the most
We looked at the following four categories to analyse online
conversations across Twitter, Facebook, blogs, forums and other
social media sites to see how much talk each artist had created
since the nominees were announced at the beginning of January; Best
British Group, British Breakthrough Artist, British Female Solo
Artist and British Male Solo Artist.
In relation to Best British Group, Coldplay was a clear winner
generating 43% of the online buzz in relation to the BRIT Awards,
unlike Chase & Status who only accumulated 7%. I quite like
Chase & Status and was surprised at the lack of chatter around
them, what with them being a band with a considerable fan base. It
just goes to show that with awards like this, where it's up to the
public to decide the winners, your vote really does count.
Online conversations on the Best British Breakthrough Act showed
no clear favourite; Jessie J, The Vaccines and Anna Calvi were all
being talked about a lot in relation to winning the BRIT award,
with Jessie J just ahead of The Vaccines with 29%. Jessie J again
generated a lot of online buzz for the Best British Female Solo
Artist nomination, dominating conversations with 35% of the
Surprisingly Adele, with her recent success in winning six
Grammy Awards, generated the least amount of online buzz with only
6% of the public talking about her. Is this due to it being no
surprise that she's been nominated or is it just that her talent
speaks for itself?
What has surprised me is the lack of buzz around Emeli Sandé...
As the winner of the Critics Choice Award and with her album
release this week, I thought she would generate a lot more talk
being such a fresh talent.
Ed Sheeran is shown to be dominating the online buzz in relation
to the Best British Male Solo Artist category, with 35%, followed
by James Blake with 29%. Who is James Blake? I'm clearly out of
Although social media gives us insight into the buzz that is
generated around each artist, it cannot determine the winner. What
it does do is generate a storm of speculation on who will be
favourite to win tonight.
Watch this space.
, The Brits, The BRIT awards, Meltwater Buzz, Meltwater Group | Leave comment
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