Tag Archives: digital mediums

Through the generations – the impact of social media

1 Dec

I always love how my parents try to interact with the world of social media that I am so interested in and now (as of Monday) work full time in. Every conversation with my dad or mum involves them telling me about the latest article that they’ve just read on social media – and emails come in with links all the time. Mum is also immensely proud that she introduced me to Twitter back in 2008.

It’s brilliant. While we (I’m led to believe that others in my team have had the same thing happen with their families) might get frustrated sometimes – yes mum, I do know about Tumbr, I don’t need to read that article – it’s their attempt to interact with and understand a media that is changing and moving so much faster than anything they had while they were growing up that is so fantastic. My dad was born in 1938 in the UK, at the start of World War Two. He remembers air raids and being sent to live in the country. He had to serve two years in the army (not during any major war) because there was still mandatory conscription. Yet he loves the idea of social media, he understands why I have a passion for it and can see the possibilities in communication that it is opening up. And sometimes they will bring to my attention things about the area that are really interesting and inspiring.

I went home for a few days last week, and when dad picked me up from the airport, one of the main things he talked about in the car on the way back down the coast was this lecture that he’d seen from the Guardian’s editor Alan Rusbridger (@arusbridger). A few days later I had the chance to watch the video on iView with dad, and I could see immediately what had grabbed his interest.

Alan was speaking at the 2010 Andrew Olle Media Lecture hosted by the ABC. As editor of the Guardian in the UK he has watched as the media landscape has changed with incredible speed over the last few years. From the point of view of a journalist, the insights he shared during the lecture were invaluable to anyone in the media industry, whether it be public relations, advertising, marketing or journalists themselves.

Facebook? It’s where teenagers post all the stuff which will make them unemployable later in life.
[But]…if that’s all we see when we look at [Facebook] then we’re missing the picture.

He finished up his lecture with fifteen reasons why (and how) Twitter is so important. These points are really relevant to social media in general:

  1. Highly effective form of distribution – spreading ideas, information and content efficiently, far and fast.
  2. Where things happen first – increasingly news happens first on Twitter because of the millions of human monitors that will pick up anything and everything – and sometimes that anything is very important. A few recent examples are the spread of the news of the A380 engine issue (where misinformation actually spread faster than the correct information could) and the Brazilian teenager who broadcast live on his Twitter account (@vozdacomunidade) a drug crackdown in his favela in Rio de Janeiro.
  3. Rivals Google as a search engine – harnessing the power of mass human intelligence to find information that is new, valuable, relevant or entertaining.
  4. Formidable aggregation tool – a personalised news feed from people you admire or respect. You can sit back and let others find the most relevant or interesting things. Very hard for a news organisation to offer the same level of personalisation.
  5. Great reporting tool – I often now see my friends from university who are working as journalists using Facebook or Twitter to source quotes or information for a story – as Alan Rusbridger said, it’s the “…so-called wisdom of crowds… the ‘they know more than we do’ theory.”
  6. A marketing tool – another platform to spread the word about your latest blog (it is probably even be how you arrived on this very post) – or in marketing speak, driving traffic and engagement.
  7. A series of common conversations and an instant reaction – not only can people read what you’ve written, they can respond, agreeing or disagreeing. “It’s not transmission, it’s communication. It’s the ability to share and discuss with scores, or hundreds, or thousands of people in real time. Twitter can be fragmented. It can be the opposite of fragmentation. It’s a parallel universe of common conversations.”
  8. It is diverse – allowing anyone and everyone to have a voice, rather than the traditional media template of one voice speaking to many.
  9. Changes the tone of writing – there is more humour, more engagement, more entertainment, more personality in Twitter because it involves listening as well as talking.
  10. A level playing field – while someone who is recognised by ‘name’ may initially attract a few followers, they communication has to be interesting. Twitter rewards people who can say things crisply and entertainingly, and ignores those that can’t.
  11. Promotes different news values – what journalists consider to be newsworthy and what the general public does can often be different – and when you have tens of thousands of people expressing those views, it is increasingly having a ripple effect back into the newsroom.
  12. Has long attention span – while not something usually associated with Twitter, the attention span of Twitterers might put the newspapers to shame if you look at the conversation happening around a keyword or issue.
  13. It creates communities – around issues, people, events, cultures, ideas, subjects – the list goes on. And whether these are short or long lived, these communities are there and recognisable.
  14. Authority is shifted – not removed per say, but changed. As well as responding to those that are ‘names’ in the Twittersphere (be it journalists, celebrities or politicians), people respond to others like them. A 32 year old mother is very likely to be drawn to other mothers who talk and have similar experiences to her.
  15. As an agent of change – “As this ability of people to combine around issues and to articulate them grows, so it will have increasing effect on people in authority. Companies are already learning to respect, even fear, the power of collaborative media. Increasingly, social media will challenge conventional politics and, for instance, the laws relating to expression and speech.”

It’s that last point that I think brilliantly summarises up the rest for me. Collaborative or open media is changing the way that everyone, including businesses, politics and journalism, operates. It’s not just Twitter. That could be dead in a years time – who knows. But it’s the implications of these new mediums on everyone one of our lives that is so revolutionary. And scary. And exciting. And daunting. And inspiring.

I can see why my dad, who embodies everything that you’d imagine of the traditionalist generation, is convinced that social media is changing the world. I’ll say it again – it’s brilliant.

The full transcript of the lecture can be found here, it can be podcasted or the video downloaded from the Big Ideas website.

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Making the world a smaller place

21 Oct

So it’s something that has been discussed over and over – how the internet breaks down international barriers and allows for instant communication between anyone, where ever they happen to be in the world. But something tiny happened the other day that really brought home for me how connecting the internet really can be.

A few months ago a friend of our family’s in Mullumbimby stumbled across a photo that a random Flickr user had taken while visiting Mullumbimby, of my dad cruising past on his motorised bicycle, complete with trailer and racing helmet from his car racing days. It really is a classic shot, and it was passed around with much laughter to our widespread friends and family (from the UK to South Africa).

Then the other day I remembered and tweeted about it. I didn’t tag anyone and I hadn’t searched for the Flickr user anywhere else on the internet. Yesterday, the previously anonymous tourist somehow saw my tweet and responded.

When he took the photo, it was just one of the weird and wonderful people that live in Mullumbimby. Now he knows that the photo was of my father, and he can read more about my family through this blog and my general interactions on the social web. All through a photo that would never normally have been seen by us – suddenly everyone is connected.

So remember – you never know if the random holiday photo you take of a ‘native’ resident might actually one day be seen by them.

Just a thought.

Goodbye Agency, Hello Agency

6 Apr

A recent video that did the rounds of the blogs and Twitter got me thinking. Firstly, watch the video:

The Last Advertising Agency On Earth from FITC on Vimeo.

The Last Advertising Agency On Earth from FITC on Vimeo.

Titled The Last Advertising Agency on Earth, it takes a satirical look at what might happen to the industry if we don’t get to grip with a much more active consumer (ironically, according to industry blog mUmbrella, the video was actually created by advertising agency Saatchi & Saatchi). Though well made and rather funny if you know anything about the media industry, it has also come under fire for being condescending and all too quick to throw the advertising agency out on its head.

The advertising industry isn’t dead, not by a long shot. Yes the consumer is now a lot more active (as explored in the first post on inqbase’s blog), but that’s definitely not to say that the old mediums will be going anywhere any time soon. What few companies seem to realise is that it is in the integration of new and old mediums that the industry will find its feet.

To start off, lets discuss the TVC (TV Commercial for those not in the ad industry). The above video suggests that in a few years it will be obsolete, but take a second to really consider this. There are exciting new steps being made to deliver the traditional TVC to nontraditional mediums, and in a way that ensures that the audience is engaging with the ad. Apple recently submitted a patent application for technology that would make viewers directly engage with an ad – the action would then unlock more of the show. As The Unofficial Apple Blog said, this would be “…something of a Holy Grail for advertisers who fear that their messaging is getting lost in the TiVo/DVR ‘just skip it’ timeshifting era.”

And then there is YouTube. This social phenomenon just hit over 24 hours of footage being uploaded every minute (via Mashable). While including ‘viral video’ in your strategy would be a mistake (you don’t create viral, it happens), it does help to consider what kind of ads would be popular in this medium because then you are really considering the audience. Social media then gives them a way to respond and share their experience with your brand, and suddenly you have what was mentioned earlier – integration of the new and the old.

It is hugely important to carefully evaluate before stepping into social media. It’s not just a matter of telling everyone that they need to be on Twitter (as suggested in the video) or Facebook – it’s looking at whether these mediums are appropriate for you or your client.

This video has been great for kicking off a conversation, but don’t throw the industry in the trash just yet.


(This was originally posted to the inqbase blog, where I currently work. You can view the original post here)