Archive for the 'Putting your face online' Category

This may actually be the point I finally shut up about Twitter and journalism

A point, I think, has been reached. Quite where this point sites and what exactly it signifies is perhaps not quite the  issue. But it is a point that has been reached nonetheless.

That point is, as Adam Tinworth says is moving “from something that is used by the social media cognoscenti amongst journalists, to something that is rapidly spreading amongst the more web aware hack.”

Although Twitter’s use as a breaking news source isn’t exactly a new thing [1], with a growing number of users and an increasing number of both journalists and users all over the globe, it’s now reached the point where it’s the first place people are looking when something breaks.

And it’s also now become the norm that newspapers are reporting about the immediacy of breaking news on Twitter, as opposed to treating it as an interesting sideshow. Witness the Telegraph’s very good write up of yesterday’s New York plane crash.

That crash, along with the Mumbai attacks, seems to have convinced sceptical journalists to at least give the service a go. And once journalists try out something new, they’ll write about it, even if only a limited number of people are using it. That’ll then bump up the number of people who give it a go [2].

In the past few days, I’ve seen a serious rise in the number of people I personally know joining Twitter, while the number of people following me has also risen dramatically (I think they’ve nearly doubled already this month), as has our corporate accounts at work.

Having a slew of famous names join as well has also given it credibility. Never mind the sneering articles written about these (although, and I may be along in this, I thought Bryony Gordon’s piece was quite funny), the fact you have such a diverse range of celebs on there shows there’s an appeal across a range of personalities.

Stephen Fry, Robert Llewellyn, Will Carling, and Andy Murray have all helped. And then there’s Jonathan Ross, courting controversy with a few comments, but also quickly becoming the Twitterer’s favourite celebrity.

Ross, will his huge contacts book, has been verifying celebrities as they join Twitter (or don’t), and last night posted photos of him introducing the service to Danny Wallace and Eddie Izzard.

Phillip Schofield, who I think is the first ITV celeb to join, got Tweeting on Monday and has lept straight in, and is already being inundated with plenty of Twitter love. He’s already proving to be a great role model on how to use the service [3].

So, Twitter is finally moving into the mainstream now that it’s moved beyond a curiosity and into a genuinely useful communication tool (not that it wasn’t already). Quite where it goes from here, and how it goes, I have no idea. But it’s going to be fascinating to see how the site develops in the next few months.

And it also means I can probably stop banging on about how and why journalists should use it, because they’re now doing just that. Which will probably come as a relief to everybody.

[1] See the Exeter bomb blast last year.

[2] See also: The Wire. Until a few months ago, the only people I knew who’d actually watched this were Guardian journalists and people who knew Guardian journalists. That sentence hasn’t even been written for comic effect.

[3] And, about half an hour ago, gave me advice on the best organic veg box company to use in London.


Going viral

Let’s get this straight. Virals are NOT just sticking a video up on YouTube or on the internet in general and then wondering why people aren’t watching them. Chris and Tom will tesitfy to that in their respective lists.

In a buzz-filed world, any brand can chuck out the idea “we need a viral” but very few actually get it right. A standard advert is not likely to be a viral, and neither is just a small bit of arbitrary footage.

There’s no telling what makes a good viral, but a good litmus test is the pub conversation. If it’s something you want to share with your friends down the pub, or during a dull day at work, then chances are its got potential.

Last week’s Voscar awards at Curzon’s Mayfair theatre emphasised just what makes a good viral, insofar as its ever possible to say such a thing.

Nominally set up in support of Virgin Mobile’s rather cute new 30 peas campaign,  it asked several leading bloggers and social media people for their favourite viral of the year.

After sitting and watching all 30 videos, we then voted for our favourites and the results were totted up.

My favourite was, perhaps surprisingly, the TFL look out for cyclists campaign.

It’s an advert that ticks most of the boxes – it surprises you the first time you watch it, it’s clever, it’s entertaining and it’s something you may well send onto a friend.

Of course, viral doesn’t necessarily need to be something that supports a brand. Sometimes these things just take a life of their own. Or are just funny. Much like the overall winner of the night, the wonderfully titled Jizz In My Pants.

Which just goes to prove what I always thought. When in doubt, resort to knob and wanking jokes. Preferably set to dodgy europop.

Here’s the rather cute 30 peas video from Virgin Mobile. It’s quite fun, even if there are no crude knob and sex jokes in it. That’s probably a good thing.

You don’t want that social media project…

Chris Applegate posts a list of 20 familiar signs that a company really doesn’t want to get engaged in social media. It’s brilliantly funny, if not also a tad depressing (but then isn’t all the best humour) as it’s instantly familiar to anyway working in a social media sphere who’s had any of the 20 conversations.

Suw Charman-Anderson follows up with an internal version. Both are spot on. And while the web geeks amongst us giggle, they should also be compulsive reading for anybody or company thinking of getting into social media.

I’ve come across all these comments over God knows how many years in all walks of life. I’ve spoken to a few people who are so enthusiastic about social media but work for companies who take about six months to take any kind of decision on it. I’m quite thankful mine’s pretty proactive and willing to try new things.

Social media isn’t like other popular areas where you can just wade in go “hey, we’re great” and leave. What worked before offline won’t necessarily work online.

The best thing anybody can do if they want their company or client to get into social media is read and listen. Engagement also helps, but I’d honestly say just immersing yourself in blogs, wikis, pods, Twitter and forums and getting a feel for how they work will do no end of good.

If a blogger has a pop at your company, chill. Maybe it’s better to understand the reason behind the rant than panicking or getting worked up about the contents of the post. People say bad things, it happens.

Viral videos are called viral for a reason. If it’s something you’d want to send your mates at a slow day at work, then you’re onto a winner. If you struggle to watch it through, it won’t.

And while mass emailing bloggers may seem like a quick and efficient way to work, it probably won’t generate that much positive coverage. Certainly not compared to if you’ve taken the time to read, engage and see what’s relevant to this particular blog.

It’s not hard to do, but I suspect these won’t be the last conversations Chris and others have on this topic.

[I’d also quite like to add 21. Client puts something on the internet with no links in or out and wonders why nobody visits.]

Quick, probably not very well-thought out post about law and teh interweb

Putting to one side the majority of the unpleasantness surrounding the Baby P case, one of the interesting aspects – from a media point of view – has been the problem of the online world and any court orders relating to reporting.

Without having delved too far into the story, it’s obvious that there’s some form of court order in play here, otherwise we’d have had Baby P’s name by now, along with the names of two of the accused [1].

The crime led to an outpouring of rage on assorted sources on the internet – blogs, forums, and Facebook groups, among other places.

Because of the way the internet is – huge swathes of information all quite easy to retrieve – it’s not exactly hard to find out the names of those involved, hence the naming and shaming that followed in the aftermath of the court case.

It doesn’t take a genius the piece together the information in the press reports, crossed referenced with a bit of smart Googling. Some of the older articles with names are in assorted caches.

Much of the ire seems to be focused on the fact that that the media hasn’t named the couple who were jailed over Baby P’s death, but as Judith Townsend at points out, naming Baby P isn’t about any notion of justice (whatever that may be), or about the Facebook campaign. It’s about confronting the reality of an online world.

Everybody who joined the Facebook group or named them online is in contempt of court. But they’re not to know the ins and outs of contempt law. Why should they? Even journalists can be a bit fuzzy on some of the laws, unless they regularly work on court reporting or in a specific field.

Most laws relating to contempt were created to ensure a fair trial; to ensure that no matter how horrific the crime, no matter how apparent the guilt, the defendant gets a fair, unprejudiced trial.

Much of the law (I’d imagine) around the Baby P case are to protect other children involved in the case, not the accused or the guilty. The law is surprisingly clear on this.

That was fine when print and broadcast were the only ways of getting your news. The judge made the order, the journalists would sometimes contest it, but if they failed then the information didn’t get printed or broadcast. Simple.

Today, it’s never been easier to join the jots, the access cache, and to publish the names (or other relevant information online). And the orders don’t apply to non-UK websites.

As the law stands, there’s been a lot of Contempt of Court committed around the Baby P case. But who should be served with any action? Facebook? Blogger? WordPress? Google? Forum administrators? Individual bloggers? Individual posters? All of the above? None of the above?

Libel and the internet may not be perfect, but in this regard the law is streets ahead of Contempt of Court and the internet. The Baby P case has demonstrated that it’s virtually impossible to enforce Contempt laws in an online world (although I wouldn’t go as far as saying its impossible to get a fair trial).

Clearly, the laws surrounding Contempt and a fair trial need an urgent and serious overhaul. Quite what that should involve will take a far better legal brain than I, and probably about 99% of the country, have.

[1] It’s (thankfully) been a VERY long time since I’ve had to deal with child cases and courts, my immediate guess was a Section 39, although as that doesn’t apply to dead children, it might be a different court order. Section 11? I’ll have to pick up my copy of McNae’s again here as I think I need to reacquaint myself with the assorted orders to do with children and young people.

A wafer-thin slice of the future of TV

For a bunch of aging comedians, the Monty Python crew have always been a bit ahead of many of their younger contemporaries when it comes to the internet. Now they’ve gone where many other TV shows would fear to go – uploading their content for free onto YouTube.

As the Guardian reports, they’ve used the site’s Video ID system to identify their material that’s been uploaded (without their permission), replacing it with better quality footage on their own YouTube channel and attaching adverts to the clips urging watchers to buy their DVDs. That immediately appears to have paid off:

“And there is method in the Pythonesque madness of giving away valuable content for free – Monty Python’s DVD sales are up more than 1,000% following the launch of their YouTube channel, and that’s on Amazon alone. Fans must have been listening to the Python message: “We want you to click on links and buy our movies and TV shows. Only this will soften our pain and disgust at being ripped off all these years …””

As a fan, it’s a great idea – high quality clips for free, while there’s no better way to get you in the frame of mind to buy some classic Python. The quality of the clips is definitely a key hook – why trawl through poor-quality stuff when you’ve got the official stuff in all its glory?

Would this approach work for other shows? Well, the Python team are in a pretty privileged position as they’ve got an established brand and a very large fanbase – not to mention (I’d imagine) hundreds of people searching for clips on YouTube every day.

Whether it’d work for a smaller show trying to make a name for itself or a lengthy drama is an interesting one – but it certainly couldn’t hurt to try.

YouTube is a massive player in online video, so it makes sense to try and utilise it – and if the content’s officially sanctioned, it does give the show’s owner some degree of control. And, as the Python team have already shown, it can have a positive effect on sales.

It’s all part of the more social experience that viewers come to expect online today, and shows that YouTube is hear to stay and should be considered in any promotional strategy. Quite how you then drive traffic from there to your own website, and then ensure you make money from it, is another question entirely. But if you’re not engaging in some way with these sites, there’s always a risk of becoming a dead parrot.

Going south of the river…

Or look what we’ve gone and done.

For a culture, that spends a fair bit of its life working online, social media types are, well, pretty sociable in the real world. For one thing, they throw great parties and hold regular meetups. One of the nicest things about Twitter and blogging meetups, is you can turn up and not know anybody and people will still, likely as not, know who you are. Even if not, you’ll at least have a topic of conversation to get you started, which is ideal for people such as myself who aren’t natural minglers.

One of my favourite meetups is Lewis Webb’s Shoreditch Twit, an informal gathering in Shoreditch for people on Twitter. There’s nothing much to it – Twitter (geeks) meet down the pub, often with some kind of theme (the last involved free games of table football. I rule at table football). The only downside is Shoreditch is in east London and is a bit of a trek to get home, south of the river.

Via a Facebook conversation with Lolly, I mentioned I was thinking of doing a South of the River Tweet up (sorry, that sounds a bit wanky doesn’t it). A couple of Tweets and emails later, and with Rich also offering his services, the Dirty South Tweet was born, for us Southern types who don’t want to have such a long journey home. It is, if you will, the Shoreditch Twit on tour. Or something.

Of course, it’s not just South Londoners who are invited – any Twitterer, be it north, south, east or west or even, God forbid, outside of London (what do you mean there’s a world outside the capital?) are more than welcome to join us to, well, drink. And chat. And that’s about it.

We’re still in the process of sorting out there whens and wheres, but should have something concrete very very soon. In the meantime, there’s the blog and the Twitter stream – show them both some love by Tweeting or linking 🙂

Any excuse for a drink, really….

What’s really fantastic about this is the idea came from one quick musing on a Facebook post and has already started to take shape just 48 hours later – and the Dirty South Tweet blog is already doing over double the traffic this place does on a good day.

What’s even more fantastic, is just a few years ago, this bunch of people probably would have only known each other in passing, maybe meeting at the occasional event, but rarely making the effort to contact each other via email to say: “Hey, let’s get a group of us together and head out to the pub for a drink.”

Forget your marketing, PR and whatnot for a while. Twitter, Facebook and blogging have made it easier for like-minded people to get together down the pub, without having to utter the words “I’m meeting somebody from the internet,” and having to explain it’s nothing to do with sex.

It’s one of the reasons I love social media. It’s not called social for nothing.

Who’s a-tweeting

If you’re categorising Twitter users by their professions, chances are PR and journalism would come out quite high in the list (probably after social media or technology people). Chances are, though, that quite a few useful would-be contacts on both sides don’t even know that a useful PR or journalist is lurking on the microblogging site. A bit like the hopeless romantic’s belief that there’s a perfect partner out there for everybody, just not as sickly.

But one of the great things about social media is that solutions can quickly be created and then expanded on, and Stephen Davies of the excellent blog has done just that by putting together a list of UK journalists on Twitter.

It’s simple, effective and very useful indeed and he should, in the next couple of days, be producing a similar list but for UK PR People. Hopefully both will soon be expanded into a wiki.

Twitter’s a great tool for enhancing communication, especially because it’s so instantaneous. Send a quick Twitter message to me, and chances are I’ll get back to you reasonably quickly – and it certainly won’t get lost in the email inbox.

Plus, there’s a good chance that the journalist/PR will be Tweeting on what they’re currently working on or looking to work on, making it easier to target more effectively. And if somebody becomes a pain, just unfollow and block them. Simple.

If you’re a UK journalist or PR bod and on Twitter, do read as Steve’s lists could be invaluable.

UPDATE: And, as Steve promised, here’s his (ever growing) list of UK PR people on Twitter.

Hopefully he’ll follow through with his idea to expand these lists into a wiki, as it’d be interesting to know who handles what account for PR people, and which area the journalist works in, especially freelancers. Although, on second thoughts, if you’re a PR person pitching to these journalists you should probably have done your research on them in the first place…

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Yes, this is my name. And my email. Use it wisely or you're not getting a biscuit with your tea: garyllewellynandrews [at] gmail [dot] com