— blending the mix

April, 2009 Monthly archive

Now this is going to present a dilemma to the ROI-haters…

Ashton Kutcher advertising his Twitter profile on a billboard. POSTAR…this one’s for you!

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Neville pointed me to a post by Clay Shirky looking at the justification (or not) for the extensive lambasting that Amazon received this week.

For the uninitiated, Amazon had tagged gay and lesbian (and others) books in such a way that they dropped off Amazon sales charts and searches. They were effectively tagged as porn is the even shorter version of the story. What ensued was quite the most vociferous backlash against Amazon (tagged globally as #amazonfail) who were forced to come out and explain their actions.

What amazed me though was just how many people jumped on the bandwagon – not necessarily because they themselves had a book drop off the list, couldn’t find a specific book they had been looking for or that they were genuinely offended. They were in it to “teach” Amazon a lesson.

Before long, Tweets and blog posts were everywhere with nothing more than “amazon sucks #amazonfail” etc. Do explain your thinking dear band-waggoner.

“How DARE a company do that to books I had no interest in reading, knew existed or cared for before.”

Clay articulated this blind momentum very nicely:

there can be an enormous premium put on finding rationales for continuing to feel aggrieved, should the initial rationale disappear.

My tweet sums my feelings up very well and something we should learn from if social media is to become a truly accepted medium – and one which is respected rather than feared:


There is an arrogance that comes from some corners of the blogosphere thinking that as the owner of a moderately well-read online journal their entirely self-absorbed editorial agenda gives them the right to say what they want, when they want, however they want.

To some extent, the web is the tool that allows them to do so, but the BBC didn’t earn its reputation by shouting its mouth off and jumping on bandwagons with no justification or good cause. There are 160-odd million blogs out there – don’t think you are as special as you think. You NEED readers as much as everyone else.

Don’t get me wrong, if you hack me off, I will respond, maybe even in public, but only unless you really do offend and upset me (GMPTE for example!), but please people, can we have some discretion and standards before we unload our attacks?

UPDATE: I can’t let this post go without making reference to The Don’s post about this a year ago!

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I was really pleased a luminary such as Jeremiah decided to add his voice the topic he did yesterday. It’s long been on my agenda to write about, so I guess there’s no time like the present to do something too! Wadds, Will, Stephen, Neville, Stuart, i’d value your thoughts and opinions too. What do you, the practitioners of all this good stuff think is the state of the market?

I did some work with a colleague a few weeks back along similar lines (although with a purely UK perspective) and arrived at the following general list of company types that were offering social media services.

The list is not exhaustive and not intended to cast opinion on the value or otherwise of each business type, but I would be interested to see how you see the UK’s social media services offering. Have I missed a category? Is there anything you think should be added to the list? Let me know. Maybe in time, this could develop into a wiki…

The dedicated Social Media Agency

A collection of social media enthusiasts with a typically digital (but also pr) background and (sometimes!) good commercial heads. Know social media and know how it fits into a wider digital strategy.

The Social Media Specialist

The freelance social media fan-boy/girl who is looking to (generally) help small businesses adopt social media. Some technical skills, some pr skills.

The Digital Marketing Agency

The “traditional” digital design & build agency who is being asked about social media and who approaches social media from a platform point of view.

The Ad Agency

The traditional advertising agency who bring creativity and customer insights from their other roles.

The Dedicated Social Media Division

The aforementioned social media agency but whose parent company is a larger digital or pr agency. All the credentials/reputation/skills of the parent company with specific social media focus.

The PR Agency

The smart pr firms who have realised that pr is all about developing relationships – now with (mass) online audiences too, using different tools.

The Media Agency

The display ad agency who own online display moving into social network ads, which also covers social ads.

We then pondered what were the core “skills” of social media delivery, or rather, what skills would a client, looking to engage in social media activity need to have at their disposal to be able to deliver an end-to-end strategy (the likes of Dell for example). These are questions we are asking of ourselves/of the industry in general rather than what the client might ask (after all, many of them won’t know what questions to ask!)

We came up with these, can you add to them?:

Technical skills

Could the agency “build” stuff using social technologies?

Reputation management

Does the agency know how to monitor conversations and respond with expert advice accordingly?

Wider marketing strategy

Do they understand if/where social media fits into the wider online marketing strategy?


Do they have the size to be able to handle all the

Thinking that we could develop this into something more visual and easier to understand, we then started to look at the relative strengths and weaknesses of each type of business.

For example, as relevant as a social media agency may be, could it bring with it the level of relationship-building/development skills that the PR company might. In turn, would the PR agency be able to build the tools that the digital agency be able to?


I have long thought that social media in itself, with its varying definitions and terminology is confusing for clients – can we as an industry clarify the services we offer to help make the adoption of social media by clients an easier process?

Consider how Prince 2 has helped both agencies and clients work to a common set of principles. Admittedly, client briefs for web design/build range from scatty at best to so prescriptive one wonders why they even asked anyone for their opinion (one for your there Dave!), but the client does still have an idea of the services it needs to be asking for to develop the digital presence it wants to.

Is there a set of principles we can work to in social media to make it easier to buy from us?

Coming up in the next two Supplier-Side Social Media Services Series (wowsers, that was long!):

1) What should Mr. Client look for?

This is something that Brian and Geoff have covered in some depth…but again, ranges depending upon what type of business you speak to.

2) How do you cost for social media?

Not a “how much do you charge?” piece, but one which looks at how you manage ongoing social media activity for clients. With social media being the 24/7 it seems to be, how can you act on a client’s behalf outside of normal working hours. I refer to Mr. Whatley’s “when does Batman sleep?” piece.

I hope you’ll join me for these pieces to see if we can explore the frequently mysterious and “unspoken” side of selling social media – for the betterment of all of us!

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Cool stuff I was readingFebruary 8th toApril 7th:

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Yesterday, Friendfeed went from THIS:


To this:



and in doing so, made a huge impact on its future, nay survival, if you follow Techcrunch’s thinking. And I have to agree. As sad as it is to see something so innovative die, in aligning their interface to Twitter, the latest changes have made Friendfeed neither one thing nor the other – and that can’t be a good thing.

Friendfeed for those that don’t know is actually a pretty clever tool which allows you to track what all of your friends are doing on social networks – radar for social networks if you like and allows you to comment on your friends’ social networking activities which get posted to Friendfeed. You can “like”, comment or repost in Friendfeed and link those actions to Facebook/Twitter and the like. More recently, it created “real-time” functionality which allows Friendfeed users to see a live stream of their friend’s activities

If that hasn’t confused you, then let me put it more simply…look at the recent changes in Facebook. Notice the “like” and “comment” links below your friends’ status updates? The idea for that came from Friendfeed…which leads me nicely to why the new design poses such a problem for Friendfeed.

The speed of the new live-feed aside, as I have alluded to above, Friendfeed’s new interface is much more complicated than Twitter, yet not as clever or feature-rich as Facebook. This means it now sits somewhere in between being too complicated for Twitter users (who, from recent traffic figures seem to love the simple interface!) and not clever enough for Facebook (although you might rightly argue that Facebook is a destination site designed for content storage rather than aggregation), but nevertheless, it doesn’t meet the needs of either audiences particularly well.

Lest we forget Jaiku, which for some time was considered the “better” micro-blogging tool, yet which never really took off. It did the same thing as Twitter, had more features (it even had groups!) but never gained anything like the traction of Twitter. Pontificate you may, but it has to be to the overcomplicating of services that puts people off.

Friendfeed has long been the choice of the uber early-adopter, but I don’t see how this new look can help it’s cause.



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