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HomelessOne of the most talked about pieces of news to come out of this year’s SXSW was not shiny new tech but the “Homeless Hotspot” campaign by BBH Labs, the innovation unit of the international marketing agency BBH. According to Jenna Wortham writing for The New York Times, BBH outfitted 13 ‘volunteers’ from a homeless shelter with Wi-Fi hotspot devices and T-shirts bearing their names: “I’m Clarence, a 4G Hotspot.” They were reportedly paid $20/ day (£13) to go to the most densely packed areas of the conference and were allowed to keep whatever customers donated in exchange for the wireless service. What BBH dubbed a “charitable experiment” has undeniably backfired with industry pundits and media calling the campaign “exploitive” and “tasteless.” Wired magazine even described “Homeless Hotspots” as something which sounds like it is out of a “darkly satirical science-fiction dystopia.” But is it really all that bad?

BBH has defended its thinking framing the initiative as an attempt to “modernise the Street Newspaper (similar to the UK’s Big Issue) model employed to support the homeless populations”. This has only triggered further criticism. In the past 24 hours, an official response from BBH has been released: “Obviously, there’s an insane amount of chatter about this, which although certainly villainizes us, in many ways is very good for the homeless people we’re trying to help: homelessness is actually a subject being discussed at SXSW and these people are no longer invisible… we wanted to share a few key facts: We are not selling anything. There is no brand involved. There is no commercial benefit whatsoever.” You can read the full comment on BBH’s Homeless Hotspots website.

The campaign for SXSW has failed so spectacularly and so publically. Using Edelman’s TweetLevel tool to evaluate Twitter buzz over the past couple of days, the campaign’s hashtag "#HomelessHotspot" was itself virtually invisible until hybrid media picked up on story on Monday (12/02/2012). The most shared links for the topic, again from TweetLevel, reflect the fierce criticism and debate this campaign has triggered in social and hybrid media since the close of SXSW (interesting to note here that articles by traditional media (BBC, Telegraph, The New York Times) are not fuelling the debate but are only reporting on it.

So why has this initiative failed so spectacularly and so publically? It’s mostly a matter of perception. Countless social programmes promote jobs for the homeless and encourage (and/ or require) the benefactors to participate rather than give hand-outs; the Street Newspaper/ The Big Issue and Habitat for Humanity, for example. But this wasn’t a social programme, let’s be frank here, this was a PR campaign by a marketing agency and the agency failed on one of the most critical principles of any digital marketing campaign; context. As a result, the campaign left users and pundits feeling uncomfortable and with a negative perception of the BBH brand.

The objectives of this campaign were mostly sound and pretty good – connect the visiting SXSW technology community with the local Austin community by highlighting the social problem of an ‘invisible’ homeless population – but the context, and some of the content, was all wrong. BBH lacked a fundamental link connecting the plight of Austin’s homeless with the core audience and objective for the marketing agency.  Instead if feeling like they’ve done something for good, users said they felt awkward about the whole thing. That’s not good at all. 

You may argue that this was a CSR or even a local community support initiative (BBH does) however contextually BBH – a UK-based agency – did not have a building block of sustained social credibility local market/ community to support such a campaign. We all know that context is king. BBH failed to question; what kind of marketing message are conference goers receptive to in this context? And, is the platform (in this case the homeless participants) contextually relevant to our business and our customers. If this campaign initiative was run by a local charitable organization or local city of Austin chamber of commerce type organization, it’s quite possible we’d be talking about an ingenious campaign designed to promote the local community with the technology elite who descend on Austin once a year. But why an agency? What is the connection?

Surly, as a marketing agency BBH should have known better? Question what you will about the motivations for the campaign, the truth of the matter is that contextually, the language of the campaign was all wrong as well. The mechanics of the campaign gave observers an impression that the initiative lacked purpose and therefore the language used fell flat and communicated exploitation of the homeless participants instead of municipal support. Speaking about the criticism detailed in media reports, journalist and freelance writer Mic Wright said, “It was all in the language. [The homeless participants] WERE the hotspots.”

Behind the scenes and once you visit the BBH website, you might feel otherwise, but as digital marketers we know that the first 5 seconds is what counts. Saneel Radia, the director of innovation at BBH Labs who oversaw the project, told one reporter that the company was not taking advantage of the homeless volunteers. He said, “We saw it as a means to raise awareness by giving homeless people a way to engage with mainstream society and talk to people,” he said. “The hot spot is a way for them to tell their story.” But giving a homeless man a t-shirt that effectively says “I am a homeless hotspot” – where is the tact in that?

If BBH had employed events staff to wander around the show broadcasting wireless hotspots, we would have had no problem with this. It is that fact that they felt the need to make a point with employing the homeless and made it so visible that impacted reception of the campaign. Within the context of SXSW, this simply didn’t gel and the experience left users and pundits feeling uncomfortable. Better, BBH should have employed local community members and activists/ influencers with a message to SXSW attendees to get to know local Austin, the good and the bad. In fact, we’ve used TweetLevel to find a simple list of influencers in the Austin, TX area talking about the homeless. In terms of delivery, a cleanly designed app would have neatly connected SXSW conference goers with stories about their adopted home for the long-weekend. In the right context, with some killer content, this could have been a powerful campaign.

@jacqui_fleming

ENTER MUS-GRAMMYS 226 LAIn today’s social media driven world it seems like all companies are using social media and are trying to be the experts in the field. But as we all know creating a Facebook page or Twitter handle and frequently shouting about your brand is not likely to make you an expert in social media. 

This post comes as a result of the Twitter storm that was sparked around Adele the night of the Grammys. This suggests that personalities work better than brands with online conversations often backfiring on brands and advertising often taking over true conversations. Instead, it is about being able to create content which users can discuss, share and recommend while also supporting customer service and experience.

There is no doubt that brands must embrace social media. The fast-changing landscape means that many companies remain confused about exactly why they are on social media sites – beyond the usual talk about building a fan base there are many ways that brands can interact with customers using social media including handling customer complaints, offering discounts and listening to online conversations.

There are only a small number of brands that are using social media to really connect and interact with customers. For example Dell, has a social media ‘listening command centre’ that identifies customer service issues along with brand evangelists. KLM also is using social media to improve customer service and gleam customer insights. They have a unique 24hr customer service platform on Facebook and Twitter, employees held up large poster with individual letters and created a living alphabet that was videoed and sent to customers to spell out customer questions. Unisys also has a social knowledge sharing platform for employees to network and share information.

Another great example of a brand excelling in their use of social media is American Steak house ‘Morton’s’, who identified that a social media guru tweeted about craving a @Mortons steak after a long flight. Morton Steak House acted quickly and used this as a media opportunity organising a number of employees to greet the influencer with a juicy steak at the arrivals gate. This highlights the importance of noticing a PR opportunity and acting fast.

Looking at these brands examples gives useful insights into why these companies are succeeding in social media.The small handful that really are using social media successfully are listening and communicating with their customers by two way communication that is not overly brand biased. Improving customer service is a key theme flowing through the above examples; customers who feel like they are listened too and understood are likely to be more loyal to the brand. Successful brands are talking to customers about what they actually care about.

Brands who demonstrate understanding, creativity and innovative thinking which moves them out of their comfort zones seems to be winning ingredient. 

@T_Bloore

Social media week in London provided an excellent opportunity to analyse influence. Too often when there is a breaking story, I whish I could have turned back the clocks by a few days to see how the story originated and spread whilst focussing on who the key people were in the conversation and what they did to help propagate it.

This blog post will illustrate several key concepts that are unique to TweetLevel and Edelman.

  1. Conversation map analysis shouldn’t be conducted post event but through real time metrics allowing you to understand what time of engagement behaviour an influential person has. After all what’s the point of a static map when conversations aren’t the end result but a flow of information over time.
  2. The key players in a conversation are not just the most popular but those who start the ideas, spread and curate them. We call these people the new influentials.
  3. Timing is critical. This isn’t just about what time of the day they tweet, but when they take part in the conversation. For example many of the idea starters initiated the dialogue a few weeks before #smldn even started. As a marketer if I could know who these people were in advance, then it would have been the perfect opportunity to engage with them.

 

Dynamic conversation map

Red dots: idea starters, Yellow dots: curators, Blue and Green dots: Commentators. Some idea starters are also amplifiers (as shown by the size of the bubble) Source: University of Southampton–Web Science Team (Ramine Tinati) in collaboration with Jonny Bentwood at Edelman

What we can learn from this..

  • Idea starters engage early in the conversation (often weeks before the event)
  • A good three weeks prior to the event starting the people who would eventually be the thought leaders in social media week has initiated the conversations around the topics they were going to be pushing. Not surprisingly they were doing their own marketing.
  • From an objective point of view, they hadn’t managed to engage a large number of other people into this dialogue as they were instead waiting until the event started.
  • As a marketer I would if I was aiming to influence people, I would look to see who is engaging early and seek to interact then – if we wait till later then the conversation is too saturated to be heard.

Time jump conversation map

The following slide show takes you from 29 Jan where just a few people were discussing the event to a screen shot every few days up till the end of 17 Feb.

Slide3 Slide9

SMWLDN - RTmin set to 300

What I believe this shows you is that some of the key people in conversations are not the those who normally jump out. Namely, the person who creates the ideas or the person who has the huge audience that helps spread them. It is in fact the “yellow dots” in the above images. These influentials are curators – those who are niche experts and connected to idea starters and amplifiers. This group helps to link and grow conversations even though most tools in the market would ignore them {this is why TweetLevel puts a high focus on how information flows, its origin, connectedness and NOT just popularity]

Slide3

Taking another example from the WC3 event last year, if you look at the final map you would hardly notice some of the key individuals who make this topic travel so far.

In this instance you may think that Tim Berners-Lee and Google Research were the key folks involved.

 

Slide5Slide6

Instead what you can also find is that early in the dialogue an individual who has relatively few followers is instrumental in making the conversation spread.

Timing is everything

imageif you also analyse when people tweeted about the event, the amount conversation does closely mirror the actual main conference itself. Nevertheless, the thousand tweets in advance were as we already know populated by who we would know to be the idea starters and leaders of the event.

image

The second analysis focussed on the time in the day when the tweets were made. These also coincided with keynotes and social gatherings post event.

Quoting a favourite adage of mine, we need to fish where the fish are. If we hope to have any chance of engaging with the people that count, we need to make sure we engage at the right time.

Who is influential – link to top influencers on TweetLevel for #smwldn

image

What you can clearly see is that this list isn’t biased to the most popular but instead draws its focus on:

  • Context
  • How important they are to the flow of information
  • Timing

image

What does this mean?

As we continually look to identify and understand influence, we must instead look to understand engagement behaviours. This means looking to engage early in the conversation with the people that count knowing that they will be the idea starters as the milestone continues. We need to also build relationships with the curators, knowing that even though they have a limited audience, their connections are vital to enable a conversation to flow.

originally published on Technobabble 2.0

Being a member of the Edelman Tech Team provides a constant challenge, no two days are ever the same and you will learn to expect the unexpected.

You need to always be up to date with the latest industry news and developments. My favourite part of the day is the morning paper rounds, reminiscent of BBC Breakfast’s news round up, which helps to keep you up to date with all the latest industry news and development. Part of my daily role also includes account support, liaising with journalists, pitching media stories, proactively news jacking and reporting.

Since I have been here I have worked with a broad range of clients including HP, LinkedIn, SocialVibe and Norton. Because of the range of clients that the Edelman Technology team represents, the work is very varied. So far I have worked on social media programmes, proactively sourced product placement opportunities and helped to introduce start ups to the UK media. The diverse interests and partnerships of our clients mean that although you will be based at the centre of technology you will begin to learn about other aspects of the media industry, from mainstream consumer PR to public affairs and digital. Last week was particularly busy and part of my role included inviting press to a David Guetta event and following up on some work we had undertaken with the Prime Minister.

Edelman takes the development of their employees seriously and the company runs some great training sessions with industry experts. So far, I’ve attended session on issues as far reaching as crisis management, analyst relations and brand strategy which has helped to provide me with invaluable insight into the media industry.

@CamillaEClarke

peasantThe medium was the message in 2011, a year in which revolution and riot were ignited by social media. The persistent insistence that the internet has come to represent a force for democratisation has come under increasing scrutiny. The # is equated to a symbol of equality and freedom, but the extent to which this parallelogram marks out our personal Hyde and becomes a symbol of our own serfdom is something I have recently questioned.

The similarities between social media and feudalism resonate under closer inspection of the ideologies underpinning the two systems. In announcement prior to the announcement of Facebook’s IPO, Zuckerberg announced "we don’t build services to make money; we make money to build better…” Feudalism, a system based on social interaction, functioned on a peasants willingness to toil to maintain a space in return for protection, nourishment and submission to authority.

The reciprocity of relations in feudalism echoes the reciprocity of relations in feudalism. Social media is reminiscent of feudalism as we work to rent a segment of cyberspace (a Hyde), be it a profile page, a news feed or a channel, from a corporation (or a magnate) ie Facebook, Twitter or YouTube. Like feudal lords these sites (estates) profit through our willingness to work for free and pay for our space through site maintenance. Because we do not give capital for our segment of cyberspace, we pay for it in other ways.

Just as the serfs had no control over their regulating authorities, we too have no space to protest over site updates (for example, the introduction of Facebook timeline). When taken in this context social media appears on an oddly retrograde. It is then that the uprisings of 2011 become the doppelgängers of the Early Modern Peasants Revolution.

Both Luther and Swedenborg were inspired to action partially due to the apparent corruption in the feudal system and the arrival of new media which allowed them to disseminate a message of egalitarianism and revolution. The reformation changed the shape of Europe. However, what has become clear in the wake of the revolutions in 2011 is the difficulty which users of social media have had to impact on any lasting or meaningful change.

@camillaEclarke

bearFishing where the fish are is something that bears have known for years but many folk who use Twitter seem to have forgotten. We cannot simply think our message will be heard by tweeting ourselves which is why we try and target influential people via tools like TweetLevel and BlogLevel.

However, this isn’t the only way of doing it. What I have been doing successfully over the past year is taking part in twitter chats. These are regular conversations that take place about a specific subject on twitter normally for an hour and owned by a specific hashtag.

For example,

· if you are targeting the SME market then look no further than #smallbizchat

· If you are focussing on innovation then #Innochat on Thursdays is the one for you

· Are you a small business that uses LinkedIn (client) – why not use the chat that shares best ways for businesses to use this service on #linkedinchat

My personal favourites are #influencechat and #measurepr – but suggest you look at this larger list to see which ones can help you

Any questions, just chat with me @jonnybentwood

End note: My thanks to Judy Gombita for pointing this list out to me who also wants me to plug Windmill Networking #PR column Wed, Social Capital Byte: Institutionalizing Parity in B2B Relationships

@jonnybentwood

Not the prettiest nor most effectively designed infographic, but data rich nonetheless; Dream Systems Media launched an infographic last week illustrate numbers from the largest social media networks, based on AdAge data. Some of the more interesting highlights are below, see the infographic for full details and sources:

  • 95% of Facebook Wall posts are not answered by brands.
  • Twitter updates that include verbs have a 2% higher shareability than the average tweet.
  • 30% of B2B marketers are spending millions of dollars annually on social-marketing programs, though nearly 30% are not tracking the impact of social-media programs on lead generation and sales.
  • More smartphone and tablet owners are researching products that purchasing them – 80.8% compared to 41.4%.
  • The Mobile Marketing Association of Asia stated that our of the 6 billion people on the planet, 4.8 have a mobile phone while only 4.2 billion own a toothbrush.
  • 56% of college students said that if they encountered a company that banned access to social media, they would either not accept a job offer or they would find a way to circumvent corporate policy.
  • You can expect, on average, an extra 24 minutes of attention if you post on Facebook than if you post on Twitter.

http://econsultancy.com/uk/blog/8584-mapping-the-social-media-lands…

Via eConsultancy

@jacqui_fleming

no answer

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