Tag Archives: twitter

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.


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.

Oversharing in social media

6 Sep

A shaky line in the sand

I was thinking over the weekend about oversharing in social media.

I’ve always personally said I use Twitter primarily for sharing professional or interesting articles, blogs, pictures and events that I’ve found that might be relevant to other people interested in social media and the media industry. I try and connect with other people in my industry or in similar industries that have interests that match mine.

But my ‘purist’ view of how I use this medium was broken a few weeks ago, when I received a direct message from a person I had chated with a few times which ended with “How are your various health woes?” While the person had written that in honest concern (I think), I knew as soon as I saw it that I had started to become guilty of the affliction that seems to continuously overtake people who interact in social media. That of oversharing.

Throughout my university degree, the main social network was definitely Facebook. Almost all of my social group spent hours and hours every day interacting (and oversharing) on Facebook, posting status updates about exactly how we were feeling or what we were doing at that moment, a lot of the time with the underlying knowledge that that update might be seen by a certain somebody. Who can deny that they haven’t at some point updated their status with “… is feeling so sad right now” without the express intention of it being seen by that somebody you were feeling sad about. In part it relates back to the research that was presented at the last SMCSYD, which found that generation Y are extremely image conscious and consistently update to a set group of their social peers (using social media) in order to maintain that image. Some of the research can be found here, and Tiphereth’s presentation from the evening is up on her blog here.

Since university, I’ve dropped off the Facebook radar, and rarely update my status. In its place came Twitter, which ostentatiously I was using for ‘professional’ updates. And for over a year I was mainly using it for sharing professional/industry related links, with a few personal comments thrown in to convey (I hope) a little of my personality.

But as my workload has increased, due in part to changes at work and the additional (slightly crazy) decision to start MBA studies, I’ve found that the amount of time I’ve had to devote to the professional areas of the medium has dropped, and instead all my updates are personal. It does actually take free time to be on Twitter, to keep even slightly on top of the myriad of updates and links shared, and to interact with those shared links. And time is what I’m running short of.

Mostly this is a time management issue, and one that I’m sure I’ll get better with as I become more experienced. But it does bring up some interesting questions… if all I can realistically update Twitter with at the moment is personal updates on how stressed or sick I am, do I risk alienating my followers, of whom the majority I have to assume only follow me because they are interested in the links I share? I’m interested in how other people balance out this issue between personal/professional, as I haven’t seen it discussed anywhere else.

But the next question would be, does it matter? Through Twitter and social media I’ve met some lovely people, and also had some fantastic opportunities come my way – so considering that, Twitter also is a personal medium.

I’m not sure what I was trying to say with this blog post, other than that I’m finding it hard to not overshare and tip towards too much personal information at the moment (it has become my new Facebook), and I wonder what other people think about this or how they deal with it personally.

And on a completely personal note which no one needs to read:

As I’ve already missed one class after failing to leave on time from work on my first day ‘officially’ in my new role, I’m dropping of the radar for the next two weeks until after my mid-semester exams. If I have even a hope in hell of passing, I’m going to need to become a hermit for the next two weeks. My 2nd exam (Accounting) is on the 24th of September, which also happens to be my birthday, so I’ll be having a ‘welcome back social life’ and birthday celebration that night, and will be back on Twitter/blogs/online in general shortly after.


18 Jun

This blog has been a while coming. Last month I went to SMCSYD (Social Media Club Sydney) and couldn’t sleep that night because of all the ideas bouncing around in my head. I should have known at that point that I should just give up on sleep and write while I was inspired – but I didn’t, and as a consequence this has languished at the back of my head, while even better and more inspiring blogs have flown past.

The main reason I found the SMCSYD event on the 24th of June so inspiring was because I caught up with one of the founders of Tippingpoint Labs, Andrew Davis (@TPLDrew) at the end of the event. Their clients include Breville and Tom Tom, and Andrew was over here exploring the possibility of partnering with an Australian agency to launch a Tipplingpoint Labs office in Sydney. What I found most interesting about our conversation was that Andrew (and Tippingpoint Lab’s) approach to social media was all based around content. While a main part of the challenge of social media is developing communication between a company and their customer, Andrew and I had a long talk about how if a good strategy isn’t backed up by good and sustainable content, the communication won’t be ongoing.

I think this really hits home for me the difference between why I might choose to implement an ongoing connection with the brand… or not. I want communication with a brand that will give me more than just a tool to voice my complaints or issues with their service. I want a brand that will ask me questions, share interesting and relevant stories with me and more. That will give me value for the time I’ve invested in them. For some brands this won’t be a problem – a friend of mine works with VB and is constantly amazed at the amount of comments and likes one update from VB gets from their very passionate fans. For others, a lot more research and basic groundwork needs to be done before they move into the online space – but the time invested will be very much worth it when the conversation doesn’t die out 3 months down the track.

More recently, the same view was expressed by Glen Fuller (@eventmechanics) who works for the fantastic local bookstore (and events venue) Gleebooks (@gleebooks). Speaking at the latest Digital Citizens event, he espoused on the value of good content – but with a background in books why wouldn’t he!

Digital Citizens on Tuesday was another a fantastic event – but yet again the best parts of the night for me were the conversations I had. I went with a family friend, and also ended up chatting to the lovely Hannah Law (@hannahlaw). This family friend, who was a few years above me at school, now works for a large Australian bank and is in charge of their Twitter account. Having dinner with him after the event (all about how to implement organizational change when it comes to social media), it was interesting to hear his perspective on how his company are both embracing yet stalling their outreach into social media, and the challenges associated with trying to convince senior management that it was a worthwhile investment of their money.

Teasing him about a conversation we’d had while at home over Christmas about how much he disliked Twitter, he summed up perfectly for me what I love about social media.

He isn’t passionate about Twitter. But he’s passionate about social – and the possibilities that it holds for connecting with the everyday customer.


Law firms & social media – hand in hand or claw to throat?

15 Apr

The agency I work for does quite a lot of marketing for law firms in NSW and Victoria. In the six months I’ve been here I’ve learned a lot about what you can and can’t do when marketing or advertising for a law firm – and let me tell you, it is very complicated!

This is why I read with a certain amount of interest Laurel Papworth’s blog on a law firm called CG Lawyers, who are running a ‘social media campaign’. Since my passion is in social media, I’ve been looking for a way to utilize this medium with some of our law firm clients – and struggling because of the complexities of the law combined with the inherently uncontrollable nature of the medium.

But this competition by CG Lawyers is an outright and blatant example of a law firm trying boost their profile and SEO (your website will rank higher in Google if there are more places that link back to you) through social media.

Here is an excerpt from their newsletter where they announce the competition:

I really like the way online social networking is gaining strength in the business world. We’ve all realised that something as simple as regular blogging on relevant topics can attract more traffic to our websites – and also build exposure for our brands.

So, we’re looking for a great online social networking effort from you. Something that links our two businesses using social networking as the medium.

It should be part of your own attempt at using social networking for business purposes.

Do you write regular blogs and articles online? Are Facebook, Twitter and LinkedIn working for you as a business tool? Do you know of a website where people in your profession discuss issues and problems? Have you been exposed to creative online methods that provide information flow and initiate conversation?

Find creative ways to include CG Lawyers in your regular online networking, then enter your efforts in our competition. You will be in the running for a 2 night escape at Bundle Hill Cottages at Bawley Point. (www.bundlehill.com.au)

Fundamentally I disagree with this campaign – in my eyes (and I know there will be many who disagree with this) it goes back to the issue of paying for coverage in blogs, where ignorant PR and marketing agencies offer to pay an influential blogger to write positive things about their product/company. While in a competition format I suppose it isn’t so bad, but something in me just doesn’t like it.

But as Laurel said on her blog, it is also very smart on the part of CG Lawyers. The essential idea behind a lot of work that happens in digital and social areas on the internet, is to create a web of interlinked and connected sites (but not so many that you can’t maintain) and drive all the people who are your fans on Facebook to also read your blog posts and follow you on Twitter. It’s something I advised Taronga Zoo to do while I interned there last year, and it was extremely successful in driving up their overall views of Flickr photos, driving up followers on Twitter and building a solid community on Facebook for their Chimpanzee family.

Now that I’ve seen another law firm be brave enough to enter into social media I think it is an area something I can now realistically and practically explore for our clients. And this is really exciting.

Inching down that horrible ‘Unread’ number

16 Sep

I’m now sitting down in the evenings and dedicating an hour to slowly inching down the ‘unread’ number that always mounts so quickly on Google Reader. Mashable is the biggest offender, and when I started reading blogs using Google Reader, I would always avoid reading Mashable because the number was so daunting! I’ve realised now that this was a huge mistake, as the majority of the posts that I find interesting come from the amazing dedicated team at Mashable, who consistently bring an intelligent mix of social media news and humour. A perfect example is the Top 10 Kanye West Interruption Parodies – of which my absolute favourite has to be the video embedded below. Update – the video has since been made private – go to the Mashable link above to find other genius versions).

On a more serious note, David Meerman Scott (who I was lucky enough to hear speak at the last Social Media Club in Sydney) has posted a very interesting blog – Social Media and the Cotton On baby T-Shirt Crisis – about how essential it is for companies to maintain an active as well as interactive presence on social media sites. The outrage about inappropriate baby T-Shirts started off on social media sites like Twitter, but quickly made traditional media papers such as the Sydney Morning Herald. In situations like this, I have always believed that it is important for the companies involved to respond to the criticisms in the same medium, and to do this effectively you need to have an existing and ongoing communication in these mediums. While Cotton On does have a Twitter account (@CottonOn), as David pointed out it is mainly used to convey marketing and advertising messages. I made this point myself a few months ago in a presentation about Online PR, using the example of Domino’s pizza’s crisis ‘Disgusting Domino’s People’. While they had the right idea, and responded using YouTube, the same medium that the the original video was posted in, they didn’t have an existing presence and conversation on social networking sites, and it took a long time for their responding message to get through and calm the crisis down.

Finally, I was drawn to a conversation/debate on Twitter this afternoon between two people that I follow and respect, @trib & @sammutimer, centered around the video embedded below.

If you work in digital, or just even have an interest in social media, you have probably seen that video. When I watched it, my thoughts were “Wow! That is an amazing video that I will show to anyone who believes my passion for social media is silly.” Truth be told I haven’t shown it to anyone yet (because I forgot about it… oops) but now I’ve had it brought to my attention again I can definitely think of a few people who have said “Ohhh Tash, you’re not on Twitter are you?” in a very condescending tone 😛 they’d definitely benefit from watching it – I think. That is the issue that was the core of the discussion on Twitter today, and @trib brought to my attention some very interesting points. Firstly, in his blog post Right Revolution, Wrong Revolutionary he points out that the focus of the video is very much about how much money all these mediums can be worth to companies – and I agree with him that the focus should be more about who we can connect with using these mediums, and the relationships that we can create, rather than just the profit. Yes there are opportunities to make some hard, fast cash, but I fully believe that social media should, and eventually will, be about long term goals and relationships (even in instant mediums like Twitter). Secondly, he points out that the video is very much geared towards people who are already interested in social media – see his Tweet. So maybe I won’t be showing it to those doubting friends after all!

Phew, that took me a while to put together. Meanwhile, an essay about the Federal Lobbying Register is still unwritten – why oh why can’t I be this passionate about Lobbying!