Social Media

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There’s a buzz in the air, or should that be a fluttering of wings? Anticipation is high for Twitter’s initial public offering (IPO) on the New York Stock Exchange. It’s got the people in finance excited, but should the people in communication also care?

The plan, as it’s currently understood, is to sell 70 million shares in order to raise over $1 billion. At this point Twitter will change, it has to change because it will have gained one new very important stakeholder to answer to, its shareholders.

Shareholders demand power and influence, and they’ve paid for it. If they’re funding a company they expect to see returns, and this could mean big changes for a company, like Twitter, which has never made a profit.

To understand what may change, let’s look at Facebook. It’s been nearly a year and a half since Facebook’s stock market launch, and in this time the company has worked on ways to make money. As a regular user you may notice your Facebook feed is no longer exclusive to your chosen people and products, but now includes a number of sponsored or suggested posts. Adverts are also an area for development, for example auto-play video adverts are in the pipeline, and mobile ads are being constantly developed.

What’s the impact for us? Twitter has been a very useful tool for many communication professionals. Many companies use Twitter to help manage their customer service, run successful campaigns, and monitor their environment. When Twitter goes public there are a number of things that may change, including the following:

  • We may be able to look forward to Twitter offering a range of new, paid tools to be used in the running of integrated communication campaigns.
  • We may have to fight harder to ensure that our message fights through promoted posts and adverts.
  • We may have to reinforce the credibility of the messages which we do promote.

From another perspective, it’s very interesting to see the monetary value of new media platforms. Twitter and Facebook are undoubtedly two of the biggest social networks, and it’s fascinating to understand how our friends in finance value them.

Update: I want to reccomend this article by Belle Beth Cooper on the Fast Company website, it introduces some of the biggest changes Twitter has made that you may not be aware, and the implications that these may have.

British Gas faced a nasty backlash when they tried to have a go at a social media Q&A. It’s debatable whether such a tactic would ever have been a particular success, but as it coincided with the announcement of a 10% price increase to hit customers this winter, the Q&A was a resounding failure.

The social media team faced around 16,000 tweets, the majority of which angry and unsupportive. The replies to the Q&A didn’t satisfy the audience either, with many replying that they were just hearing the same old corporate blah and not actually being engaged with. Essentially British Gas riled the lion, then through itself into the lion’s den.

The idea was nice, and probably based on good communications practice and previous Twitter successes. Let’s give people an opportunity to discuss an unpopular decision with the customer services director. Except it didn’t work.


In some cases engaging audiences like this would have been an excellent success, so what was the problem?

People are not able to relate to British Gas like they can with other brands, they’re a big corporate brand who supply an expensive commodity – no number of fun adverts will change that.

People are also unable to sympathise with British Gas regarding their price hikes, nor can they easily avoid the impact of the costs. And the costs will significantly hit their budgets leading to a deterioration in their lifestyle – whether it means they’re out of pocket, or a bit colder.

This isn’t just a social media issue, this is a general communications issue – you need to understand what tactics to use in what situations with which audiences. Get it right and it works. Get it wrong and it can get ugly!


I visited the Hobbit in Southampton some years ago, and while the night itself is hazy (not necessarily as a result of alcohol, rather the length of time that has since elapsed), the place made its impression on me and I was enchanted. So, when I heard that the pub was facing legal action from the Saul Zaentz Company, a Hollywood company holding the rights to many of  Tolkien’s works, I was as shocked as many of the other fans of the pub were. They were being to asked, or should I say told, to rebrand an image they have had for 20 years, an image key to the identity of the pub.

The support for the Hobbit has been remarkable, from almost 50,000 fans on their Facebook, over 6,000 on their Twitter and several celebrity supporters including Gandalf (or Sir Ian Mckellen to non-middle earthians) and Stephen Fry.

According to reports the Saul Zaentz Company is willing to offer a licensing agreement to the pub. However the campaign clearly is not over according to their own page.

It seems that this whole thing could turn out to be advantageous to the pub, as long as they are able to retain their name. With new support from huge celebrities and new UK/Worldwide coverage, they could see themselves benefit from a boost to business, particularly with the release of the Hobbit film. As a one-time customer who fell slightly in love with the place I completely support the success of this campaign and I hope that the hobbit succeeds versus the evil of Mordor! Now excuse me as I start a 12hour LOTR marathon!


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 A common theme over my blog is the importance of gaining experience while studying a degree. As important as this is, our degree would count for nothing is we were not receiving world-class education from intelligent and informed tutors. I would like to say we are quite lucky in this respect, but what is particularly great is when our university invites guest lecturers in to teach us. This semester one of our modules includes a series of brilliant guest lectures, which so far has included crisis communications and digital communications. Today it was the turn of Aakriti Kaushik, PR Manager for Global and European PR at Premier Farnell. With an impressive CV Aakriti came to lecture us on cross cultural PR, something which seemed coincidentally relevant to me after my recent article on understanding cultural sensitivities.

Key things that I brought away from this lecture included the importance of understanding what works in one region may not work in others. Aakriti brought up the example of the Ben Heck show, something which had been a huge success in the USA but did not manage to translate to other cultures.

It is important to research local cultures before designing communications schemes, she highlighted this with the examples of the Ford Pinto, meaning penis in Brazilian slang. In reference to Premier Farnell she explained how their new brand name, Element 14, did not translate into Chinese and as a result they had to find an alternative.

Finally, an interesting point was raised about social media. This platform has changed the way we communicate, and allows messages to flow instantly around the world. It is important that while using social media that we ensure our messages are suitable for all of our audiences across all cultures.

Recently I have been taking a huge interest in global communications and how we respect cultural differences, so this lecture was perfectly timed and has upped my interest in the subject.

English: Red Pinterest logo

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Every so often a website comes along and takes the world by storm, but the way Pinterest has sprung up from relative anonymity to the hottest social network feels quite unique.

I am ashamed to say when I first came across the site, six or so months ago, I simply did not get the point. Its purpose appeared to be so fashion bloggers could share shoes. Later I signed up for an account, and then finally when the site got its recent blast of interest I jumped on the bandwagon. And guess what? I frequently repin pictures of shoes!

So other than to share shoes, what is the purpose of Pinterest? I decided to share some of the best articles I have read recently about the site and its potential usages.

That is just a sample of the many useful and interesting articles which share brilliant information and ideas about making use of Pinterest. So the big question, is Pinterest here to stay? What do you think?

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I have not visited the website in years. The app on my phone has never been used. But maybe one day soon I will be logging into MySpace, and what is more I may well be logging in with Facebook!

The death of MySpace is well documented, I have even written about it myself on this blog, but while we may have assumed it is simply a ghost from the mid-noughties, MySpace is fighting back, and there is life in this machine! After Murdoch’s disastrous experience with the site it was sold to Specific Media who have been concentrating on promoting the music side of the site. It seems this approach has been paying off as they have increased their membership by one million and last month had more hits than either Google+, Tumblr and Pinterest.

The recent addition of a new music player means MySpace’s competition is no longer the Facebooks and Twitter of the social web but rather music services such as Spotify. While they may not be on the same level as Spotify yet they have the potential to make a success from this avenue.

Another sign that MySpace have moved away from its old social media role is the fact you can sign in with Facebook. While this is a common feature of many websites it does seem ironic that they are using the site that killed them to bring them back to life. It does in many ways demonstrate that they are distancing themselves from Facebook as competition, which is probably for the best as attempts to do otherwise have previously failed.

It is still difficult for MySpace, while they retain their name they will probably never shake off their reputation as the social network that died, and those of us who deleted our profiles will need a lot of persuasion to rejoin the site. I do wonder why they did not take the best of MySpace and rebrand it, or begin a new site, however there must still be power in the MySpace name for them to have kept it.

Will you be rejoining MySpace? What would it take to persuade you to get a MySpace account?

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