Empowering the end user and those considering a career in digital media

Apple wins on quantity but Google leads with quality

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Yesterday, I wrote a tongue in cheek post about the launch of the giant iPhone – sorry, I mean iPad. I’m not going to pretend I wasn’t excited but that faded pretty fast. Aside from the stream of comedy sanitary towel analogies, the iPad left most feeling uninspired.

Yet still, it dominated the blogosphere, eclipsing a truly significant launch, Google Social Search.

At a time when we still feel the scars of a turbulent economy, trust and networks have never been so important. The ability to compare your searches with those of your friends, colleagues and business associates brings a warm feeling of reassurance.

It’s also pretty damn useful. The ability to cross-reference your search results with those in your social circle, gives more contextual and potentially accurate results.

Apple may have won the battle when you look at the buzz but Google will win the war based on a truly useful product offering.


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January 28, 2010 at 8:50 am

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Review of Apple iPad: For girls only

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If you are reading this, your legs are probably aching as much as mine. After an afternoon of jiggling in excited anticipation of the new Apple tablet, our desires have finally been quenched. The latest Apple atom bomb to explode into our lives is the Apple iPad.

A select few have been chosen to review Apple’s technological innovation. Unfortunately I am not one of them. What I can do is make my recommendations based on what we have already seen – how damn pretty it is.

Apple’s ability to transform the functional into the beautiful has excelled in the iPad. The striking lines give a nod to the nouveux modern while the siloette echos an archetectural theme. The slight glisten across the tablet gives rise to an almost camp, certainly playful, design concept, yet has a clear, autoratitive, perhaps Victoriana, presence.

The motive clearly takes inspiration from Dior, bringing light and just a hit of fun to the display, yet also nods to Balenceaga and Chloe in it’s overall form.

Next season we hope to see a broader colour pallet introduced in to the range – a must for Spring.

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January 27, 2010 at 6:42 pm

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Who owns social media? Are you in the ring?

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2010 has already become the year for social media. While 2009 was spent learning and testing, it’s only in the past month I’ve noticed clients dedicating bigger budgets to the social web.

Social networks have become slicker and more marketing savvy. Facilities such as Twitter’s new local trends have allowed us to be more sophisticated in targeting messages to the right audiences and mobile technology has given rise to a new generation of location based social networks such as Foursquare.

As the budgets increase alongside the opportunities, the fight for ownership of the social media realm has got serious.

A new specialist agency is born every day, in house teams who have been experimenting in an unstructured way are starting to form strategies, ad teams believe they own everything and even customer services wants in on the act.

While I believe there is a place for social media across an organisation, there must be someone leading the herd for strategies to be implemented coherently.

Not surprisingly, for me the responsibility has to lie with the PR team.

We’re experienced in knitting together different strands of the marketing mix to create holistic strategies. And social media is about communicating messages effectively through conversations – that’s what we do.

The question is, will we win the fight? Read an issue of PR Week from 2009 and you will see social media discussed at arms length as a new and scary entity. This year, the gloves are off and PR Week is now running a blog called Firehose specifically dedicated to discussing issues within digital media.

PR agencies small and large are honing their social media offerings – some, such as Cow PR‘s Rabbit, have created specific digital offshoots.

We may be performing well in round one but there’s still a long way to go before the bell rings.

Only results will reveal the true victors.

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January 27, 2010 at 8:53 am

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If you’re a small company, perhaps you should be making sushi

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This evening, I made the rooky mistake of thinking sushi from Tesco would be a good idea. I truly did not believe sushi could taste like cardboard but, believe me, it is possible.

My instant reaction was to tweet to complain. I’ll damn well let them know about my taste experience and they will be sorry.

I patiently waited for my east bound tube, keen to start my campaign against all that is fishy. But then it dawned on me, I’m not going to get a response and I’m not going to stop you (or me) from wasting your wages on disapointment.

So, is there a point when an organisation becomes impenetrable by social media backlash?

Tesco is the Ryanair of our lunch menu. We sign up for what we get. We don’t pay for bells and whistles, nor do we expect it. And that transends to the social web.

Tescos has a surprisingly limited social media presence. The buzz is there – many others have had the misfortune of sampling the sushi – but the impact it has on the company is minute.

We all love to roll out the stat that 93 per cent of consumers expect an organisation to have a social media presence – it’s almost become a cliche -but this does tend to depend on the size of an organisation.

We expect Tesco to have an advertising campaign. It should have a PR budget. We would be shocked if it didn’t.

It’s the smaller budgets where we can really make a difference when it comes to social media. It’s the small company case studies that stand out – and for good reason.

Inovate beyond your size and you will get noticed. Social media presents a cost effective solution to this conundrum.

Perhaps all small companies should start making sushi.

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January 26, 2010 at 8:25 pm

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Not quite twittelating enough

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Oh how times change in the fast paced world of social media. Last year, after finally getting my hands on my, now much loved, iPhone, I wrote a post based on a thorough test of the iPhone Twitter apps on the market. Looking back on my posts for 2009 I found my handset now tells a different story.

The Twitter apps on offer have evolved dramatically in the past few months but to me there’s still no one stop shop that meets all our tweeting needs. For anyone feeling unfulfilled by their current app, I recommend a combination of three to fully quench your thirst for 140 characters.

My all time favourite has to be Twittelator Pro, for the ease and scope of posting. No other app I’ve found allows you to post images, video, audio, geo tagging and even emoticons in one tweet. There are other nifty functionalities which ease use such as the ability to reply all and save messages to tweet later. The app also supports Twitter lists – useful for those who follow big numbers but like to monitor a select few more closely.

It may be damn clever but Twittelator Pro is still missing a few elements, for which I use two other apps in tandem.

Hootsuite, my all time favourite Twitter app on the desktop offers the ability to schedule tweets in advance – a must have for those managing multiple accounts.

Boxcar completes the package with push notifications – it’s mindboggling that Twittelator Pro has not caught on to this.

So months later yet still no complete offering. The market may be awash with products but there could still be a gap for an app that truly understands the extent of a Twitter addicts needs.

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January 25, 2010 at 6:39 pm

Social Media Monitoring: Meltwater Buzz vs Radian6

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Ask anyone with experience trying to build a brand’s social media presence and they will tell you, the key to success is measurement and evaluation. There are free tools on the market that can help you with this but increasingly, none quite cut the mustard compared to the paid for offerings.

The most well known three are Radian6, Meltwater Buzz and Brandwatch. As far as I can see, Brandwatch (which I’m also currently trialling) seems to present a slightly differing offering so, in this post, I’ll be comparing Radian6 to Meltwater Buzz – based on testing from an end user perspective.

Meltwater Buzz describes itself as a social media monitoring tool that ‘allows our clients to monitor blogs, social networks, Twitter, forums and other social media sites to get a complete picture of what is being said about your organization, your products, and your competitors.’

Where as Radian6, ‘gives you a complete platform to listen, measure and engage with your customers across the entire social web.’

Hmm… so far, so similar.

To ensure I understood each of the product offerings properly, I set up a telephone testing session with both companies.

Both responded swiftly through email, Twitter AND telephone. From a customer services perspective they are both superb – perhaps even a little overzealous.

On the initial calls, both answered some of my more testing questions in detail and with honesty. Neither claimed to offer a solution to the machine’s inability to distinguish between the positive and negative sentiment of all posts. Both attempted to solve a trying new business issue I’ve been battling, searching for particularly obscure references to a particularly niche company.

Once I started looking at each off the options, it was initially hard to distinguish between the two. Both allow you to monitor your client’s social media presence in depth, tracking by key words, creating reports and responding to individuals. Both allow you to rate posts in order of importance and track your responses over time. Both look cool and are blue. Both offer the core monitoring tools you would expect, plus some more thrown in for good measure.

I wont go in to the nitty gritty of the individual features here – both companies will happily schedule an hours demonstration – so you would be far better to see for yourself.

But, what are the key differences?

For me, it depends on the size of the client you’re working with. Meltwater Buzz focuses on beautiful graphs, making sense of trends and counting the big numbers. Where as Radian6 seems to be more about the individual responses – tracking individuals in the social media sphere and ensuring influencers are acknowledged and responded to.

If your client is a household name, Meltwater Buzz may be for you. It does what it says on the tin and gives a great view of buzz across the web. However, if you’re working with a smaller brand where every individual counts, Radian6 could help weed out the supporters AND cynics to ensure your message gets where it needs to go.

All going to plan, I’ll be putting both to the test monitoring actual campaigns over the coming months.

It would be great to get feedback from longstanding users who might have a view on my first impressions.

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January 11, 2010 at 8:18 pm

Are we over the iPhone

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Writing this post from my iPhone feels a little hypocritical. Being an iPhone junkie myself, I always assume others feel the same. The release of Twitter’s top trending topics for 2009 tells a different story.

Turn to the tech category and you will see a gaping hole in the list. The number one slot holds no surprises, with Google Wave stealing the show. But the shocker for me is the iPhone’s absence:

1. Google Wave
2. Snow Leopard
3. Tweetdeck
4. Windows 7
5. CES
6. Palm Pre
7. Google Latitude
8. #E3
9. #amazonfail
10. Macworld

With Palm Pre climbing to an impressive sixth place, the only conclusion I could draw is the light under the iPhone’s fire is beginning to dwindle.

The results may be a refection of the demographic of Twitter’s most prolific users. These early adopters will have been posting from their coveted Apple handsets for over a year and interest may have switched to newer models.

With Google’s Nexus One set to grace our palms in 2010, Apple may have some serious work to do to maintain its growth in iPhone sales.

Are you ready for a change of handset or will you remain loyal to the iPhone?

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December 16, 2009 at 8:13 am