Following on from F8 in September, Zuckerberg’s empowered speech may have left you wondering exactly what Zuckerberg meant when he claimed that he would “expand the notion of a more social web?”

The web has for some time been hailed as a global force empowering democracy and freedom of speech, with the social media being placed at the forefront of this battle. Yet the current rivalry between Facebook and Google could almost be interpreted as an archaic war for cyber control of web users. Indeed at a glance, Facebook’s challenge to Google seems like a challenge to the dominance of the worldwide web at large (after all, Google is the site that offers the most comprehensive analysis of the relationship between websites).

The decision to integrate apps into Facebook means that users may never have to venture outside the site. Zuckerberg himself recently stated that ‘Facebook is a collaborative tool’. Facebook currently has over 800 million active users who visit the site more than once a day, although this figure still isn’t as high as the 1.5 billion hits Google receives daily. Yet the ease with which Facebook membership is rising posits a potential sea change in the way in which we use the internet. With the integration of Spotify, Guardian, and even Twitter onto Facebook you may be wondering why you would ever need to open your internet explorer browser again.

Google’s attempts to encroach on Facebook’s territory in the last few years have not exactly epitomized success. Google+ is the fourth in a series of attempts by Google to enter the social networking sphere (remember Google Friend Connect, Google Buzz and Google Wave?) and membership on the site is believed to be little above 40 million members worldwide. In fact, Google has refused to comment on how many members are on the site inciting Forbes to publish an article entitled Eulogy for Google+.

However it remains to be seen whether the rise of Facebook will lead to the demise of the web at large. Facebook has, recently been in trouble for data sharing and the site is increasingly being viewed as ‘creepy’ by members.  Just like Google, Facebook stores a myriad of user’s personal information including private messages, the use of the like button and apps- but more interestingly also stores information about user’s friends, family and educational background. The site even detects subtle changes to a member’s lifestyle, enabling advertisers to target mothers-to-be for instance with baby products. This all sounds eerily similar to the decision by Google to remember your search information. So internet users might see the expansion of a more social web, but will this mean anything more than a transition of power between key magnates online?

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There’s a PR storm kicking off on Twitter. Briefly, an angry video game PR had threatened to blacklist gaming journos and websites that gave bad reviews to one of its client’s games.

Rightly, hacks and flacks have piled in to condemn this approach, and indeed the PR behind the Tweet has eaten ‘umble pie and apologized. But apart from highlighting yet again how Twitter is becoming THE channel for mainstream audience communications  – both good and bad – it also raises an interesting question, ‘can public relations prove the old adage wrong that you can’t polish a turd’?

For the uninitiated, the turd in this question is the game Duke Nukem. A legendary franchise that started life 20 years ago on the PC. After a 15 year hiatus – during which time the game’s title became a by-word for anything that was promised but never delivered – the latest installment was launched to much fanfare and pretty average (read poor) reviews. Put simply, the game seems like a bit of a dud.

I’ll admit straight away that I haven’t played it, and that’s sort of fundamental to this post. Games cost upwards of £35 so they’re hardly an impulse purchase…which is why game reviews websites, blogs and magazines retain a level of respect and importance in an otherwise fragmented media landscape. Aside from the hardcore franchise fans, most gamers want to know if they should invest their hard earned cash (or pocket money) in a title. The integrity of gaming reviews therefore is of paramount importance, hence the outcry at the PR’s attitude in this case.

I speak from experience. As a former video game journalist, my first ‘taste’ of PR was being given a fair amount of booze and assorted video game tat to ‘ahem’ help me review products. Being honest, the free stuff was secondary to the relationship myself and my magazine had with the PRs . The ones that came to see us and helped us with exclusives, tips and other useful stuff definitely benefited from lenient scoring on bad games. I also appreciated honesty on behalf of the PR…if they knew a game was shit and they didn’t try and polish a turd then we, in turn, tried to look for the positives rather than focus on the negatives. This approach is arguably universally true regardless of what PR discipline you focus on.

But my time served on the mags was nearly 20 years ago. Times have most definitely changed. There was no Internet back then, word of mouth or magazines were the only real channels to get an opinion on whether a video game (though it could have been any piece of consumer tech) was worth purchasing. In an age where peer recommendation is available at the click of a mouse (or swipe of a finger) I’m starting to wonder whether PRs should be focusing on polishing turds themselves, rather than trying to give influencers and media their own candy-coated dusters and  gold-clad cans of Mr Sheen.

By that I mean, accept that a bad product or service is a bad product or service but also accept that there are ways to move people to purchase outside the channels of media reviews. I’m not advocating bypassing the media and bloggers (you can’t anyway) rather I’m talking about creating compelling content and messaging, written and curated by the publishers and placed directly into the target audiences by the PRs themselves.

I’m sure many PRs will say that they are already doing this, but I doubt many of them have the sanction to honestly appraise the product they are promoting and adjust their approach accordingly.

Some might even say it’s not the PR’s role to make a value judgment on the quality of what they are selling-in to the media and influencers. I can sympathize with that view, but going on my own experiences of being a consumer tech hack, that approach doesn’t work in the long run. I’d also argue that it restricts creative thinking because the focus will most likely be on messaging and elements of the product or service that just won’t wash with the target audience. Far better – I would have thought – to know what the limitations of your product are and work around them?

So I guess I have some sympathy for @TheRednerGroup because I’m sure they knew they were pushing a product that wasn’t as good as the hype yet couldn’t find a way to communicate that understanding to their media and influencers without harming the client/agency relationship.  Perhaps they were in a no-win situation, their own kobayashi maru from which there was no escape, hence the ill-judged, frustrated and angry Tweet?

Perhaps. But I genuinely believe that if the PR industry as a whole gave itself a greater license to be honest about the output of its clients, then we’d all find that we can indeed polish a turd.

@pazman1973

*I apologize for the amount of times the word turd has appeared in the piece. ‘Silk purse’ and ‘sows ear’ just didn’t seem to have the same impact

For the uninitiated, Wes Brown is Manchester United´s much maligned defender; even for Man United aficionados, he is hardly likely to set the pulse racing. The mere mention of his name on the team sheet is more likely to strike fear amongst his own team than the opposition; Wes Brown has scored more goals against Manchester United (5) than for them (3) – a net deficit you may say. There is even a Facebook dedicated to Wes Brown’s unusual prowess, entitled “Wes Brown is the most boring and rubbish footballer EVER”.

Probably not a good idea to associate with him you may think. Well, to date, most companies appear to agree . . . .Brown currently enjoys only one personal endorsement contract, with the sports footwear manufacturer Concave. A deal which he shares with John O’Shea strangely enough; or “O Shit” as one Facebook group would prefer to call him. A far cry from the $7 million worth of endorsements enjoyed by team mates Wayne Rooney (Nike, Nokia, Ford, Asda, and (until recently) Coca-Cola), or the $6 million man and ex-England captain Rio Ferdinand (complete with his 688,000 Twitter followers and 430,000 Facebook fans).

Well, here’s a thought . . . . given Manchester United’s training, playing and travelling schedule Wes Brown probably spends more time with Rio Ferdinand, Wayne Rooney, Ryan Giggs etc. than with his own wife. Wes joined Manchester United in 1999 and has played for them all his life; I think it is fair to say that he and his teammates know each other inside out, the good, the bad and the ugly.

But here’s the point. Take a look at who global icon Rio Ferdinand sits next to in the dressing room. Yes, it´s our hero, the “most boring and rubbish footballer EVER” Wesley Michael “Wes” Brown!

Twice a week + training and travel, Wes Brown sits and chews the fat with one of the most influential people in the UK, and (judging by the recent media coverage surrounding his loss of the England captaincy), Europe and even the World.

And here is the other thing . . . . Wes Brown is not very good at football, he does not command celebrity endorsement fees, but he is more accessible and approachable than those more famous (i.e. “better”) players who do.

As a means to reach those key influencers – who themselves will be inaccessible and beyond the means of most organizations, who will be difficult to work with and – ultimately – will steal the limelight for themselves – Wes Brown could be a great option.

Endorsers are unlikely to be queuing up to sign up a “one club” Manchester United player who has scored more goals against them than for them, and this means that Brown’s endorsement would be more exclusive (as opposed to simply another brand name on a retainer) and, potentially, more powerful.

Particularly given his proximity to Rio Ferdinand at least twice a week. Most importantly – with all due respect – he is no Rio Ferdinand and unlikely to steal the limelight for himself either. In fact, he’d probably be flattered to be approached in the first place!

Beyond the world of football, these are the types of relationships and influences that organizations should consider when recruiting endorsers to start ideas and amplify their messages. The most popular blogger or most visible online community may not be the most effective place to start; there may be an even smarter way to reach them in a way that generates real benefit for both the organization and the influencer being approached.

Back to the football analogy . . . do players still share hotel rooms? If so, taking the Wes Brown dressing room logic to its natural conclusion, who shares with Wayne Rooney, that would be powerful information to have . . .

@RogerDara

Lets talk DERTy

Another week, another round of DERTy Talk, a day later but who’s counting.

So what has been happening in the Digital Entertainment, Rights and Technology space this week? Well…

Digital Entertainment

clip_image002Dirty Derty

If any of you have stumbled across this week’s edition of DERTy talk and are somewhat disappointed by the lack of actual dirt, then this one might be for you. And if you are just interested in regular digital entertainment this might be one of interest too. This week has seen the release of the world’s first 3D porn film. The film apparently cost £2m to make and has caused Chinese fans to flock to Hong Kong in the hope of seeing the uncut version. The first of many eye popping films? Who knows, as long as it doesn’t become 4D…

Cats own the interwebclip_image003?

Worried about how many people currently follow you on Twitter? Perhaps a lowly cat could help, or perhaps just add some amusement to your day. According to a recent list compiled by Shortlist, the animal with the most amount of followers is @sockington (not an Edelman client), with 1,482,735 followers. Sockington is owned by tech-historian Jason Scott. The domestic cat turned twitter legend was originally found as a stray but has since received fame on Twitter and has even had a spread in People Magazine. Others on the list include the Bronx Zoo Cobra which we featured last week and an array of animals ranging from ducks to parrots.

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Pirates on the high seas of Web Connected TV

YouTube’s senior director of content partnerships for EMEA has said that an increase in web connected TV’s will not result in “random ads running across the screen” and a lack of quality control. Piracy has been identified as the biggest threat as more people will be tempted to watch pirated material. BBC.com and global iPlayer MD Luke Bradley-Jones has said that video is the single most exciting area in terms of traction with 50-100% growth in use of video across BBC worldwide per month.

Rights

Do you know your data rights?

We wrote ages ago about the new dicdataship and how Data Brokers and the profit being made from digital data. This is a lovely infomercial video explaining how data brokers gather personal information and how they are using your information – whether you know it or not. Brought to you by the organisation Reputation.com – its thought provoking stuff.

 

 

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A working group headed by Ed Vaizey has suggested creating a body that will resemble website watchdog the Internet Watch Foundation (IWF), however this has been slammed by digital rights campaigners, the Open Rights Group. In part the group has been proposed to find an alternative to website blocking, compromised ISPs and rights holders. Currently there are problems with clauses within the Digital Economy Act around how web site blocking would occur and who would be held responsible if illegal content were downloaded on free public Wi-Fi. The full article is published here and it is set to be an issue that will run and run. After all currently if your website gets blocked there is no one to complain to.

Technologies

Minority Shopping Report

A very impressive customer service/ technology initiative from the clever people at 3 (though almost certainly an April Fool). Basically Minority Report meets online shopping WITH customer service. In terms of how businesses offer content, software and technology as a service – this is an interesting hypothesis of how customer support *might* look in the future, practical joke or not.

Watch it here – http://vimeo.com/21968394

Tweets from the team

@LukeMackay: I might go to Legoland California JUST to see thesehttp://bzfd.it/g0fvA3 #starwars

@GLeney: All I want to do is check the weather! #bbcwebsiteisdown

@AJGriffiths: V nicely done video from Desperados RT @becksr: Wow – this is very cool. http://bit.ly/dJW7cf

@LukeMackay: The Governator. Utterly inspired RT @_mip_ Arnold#Schwarzenegger launches The Governator at #MIPTVhttp://bit.ly/hsluJ8

@AJGriffiths: The @FT refuses to give up subscriber data to Apple. A fair stake in the groundhttp://on.mash.to/h6vfvL

Lets talk DERTy

Another week, another round of DERTy Talk. If you have clicked through from Google expecting a lewd and suggestive game of Chatroulette you may be disappointed. Apologies for that. We wouldn’t want you to think you’d wasted your time (it’s all traffic to us) so here is a song especially for you.

So what has been happening in the Digital Entertainment, Rights and Technology space this week? Well…

Digital Entertainment

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The Dicdataship takes hold

OK. So not technically entertainment, but a couple of useful, and beautifully stylised, data pieces. First, from the Guardian, an interactive “Europe in Numbers” to co-incide with #CMS. Secondly, from Google the first of their Think series. This one is dedicated to data – so enjoy the feast. We talk a lot about every company is a media company. Google here proves, once again, that some media companies are better than others.


clip_image004Disney like you’ve never seen it before

A couple of wonderful Disney videos this week. A day in the life of Disneyland Paris, filmed with a Tilt-shift camera, is possibly one of my favourite things ever. As I said at the time “like a Slinkachu playground of awesomeness. The second film, is almost certainly Disney as you’ve never seen it before. A satirical take on the life of a modern day Princess.

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An Epic music video:

Russ Chimes a DJ/Artist created a 3 part track called “Midnight Club” accompanied by a trilogy of music videos each telling a different part of the story. They are shot beautifully and each stands alone as a great piece of video. They are unlike most other music videos and at the same time unlike most other story telling videos online. Take a break and watch this amazing story and marvel at the production.

http://www.vimeo.com/15224524

clip_image008From an epic music video to a not so epic one:
Rebecca Black has been vilified in the press for being cheesy and having a terrible music video. Fair enough, but it was made on a £1,200 budget and she has made upwards of £15,000 so far and sold 37,000 digital copies of the song and had over 45 million YT views. In comparison the epic 3 part video above which is infinitely better, has had a paltry 2 hundred thousand views.

http://bit.ly/hAiTgH

clip_image010And a final piece of beautifulness…

It’s all gone a bit ‘entertainment’ this week, but we had to share this video made on behalf of airline network, Star Alliance. The lovely paper animations were commissioned to highlight the work they’re doing to preserve the destinations they’re flying to (by giving free tickets to scientists and field workers). The video shows 5 very impressive commissions. Lovely stuff.

Rights

IS Pleasing to see

Interesting report from Rob Andrews, following a panel at Changing Media Summit regarding ISPs bundling existing and white-labelled music services.

Technologies

WINtendo

This week the Nintendo 3DS beat all previous records to become Amazon UK’s most pre-ordered console to date. The number of pre-ordered consoles is double that of the Wii in 2006. Going on sale tomorrow (25th) the glasses-less 3D games console has had mixed reviews, with questions over whether 3D really adds anything to the experience but this clearly hasn’t put people off. The question is, once the novelty of 3D gaming has worn off, will the momentum continue.

Tweets from the team

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@AJGriffiths: Interesting on fashion brands & ‘gamification’, awful word but a hot topic – http://nyti.ms/fvkFvg via @rachel_arthur http://bit.ly/g45BZ7

@AJGriffiths: Adidas joins the 3D Projection band wagon, nice but no Ralph Lauren http://bit.ly/eAjxuo

@LukeMackay: Stylised movie posters http://bit.ly/fQoBG5 LOVE Wall-E http://bit.ly/hqWkqa Jaws http://bit.ly/fNB5HV Back 2t Futurehttp://bit.ly/gYvi93

@LukeMackay: Coca-cola and Maroon 5 and an interactive wall. I don’t really get this but I’m intrigued at least http://bzfd.it/fUA4y3

@GLeney: Amaze RT @wonky_donky: retro heaven…. RT @Matt_Muir remember Game & Watch? play every single one, ever, online: http://bit.ly/glgT2A

@GLeney: Immense #tron RT @Sally52N2W: Daft Punk/Tron music R3C0NF1GUR3D http://goo.gl/ZKyJH

When you haven’t seen something fast growing for several weeks such as a child or Russian vine the temptation to say, ‘my haven’t you grown!’ is very great.

This urge should be avoided as it annoys those concerned, by patronising kids or rebuking gardeners. Yet returning from a short tweet break this morning I muttered these very words on reading about the fifth anniversary of twitter so breaking this rule of the blindingly obvious.

Yet leaping to my own defence it is not just the speed of growth with twitter that is dramatic. It is the manner of its growth and what it has done to the way internet-based opinion and influence has developed that is very interesting, and weirdly so. A really interesting post on Elise’s Review prompted this thought with the question ‘Is social media becoming more about mass broadcasting than conversation?’

Twitter’s growth has been about amplification of opinions, influence and conversations. At times this has made it appear more like broadcasting and certainly it has made the conversation louder, shorter and less genteel. Yet in interacting with media and blogs I would argue that twitter is amplifying and sharing ideas that often start in long form in other media platforms. This is different from broadcasting although it does make the conversation less sophisticated in many cases. I would describe it as a broader conversation rather than a broadcast.

Indeed as twitter grows its ability to amplify grows too so amplifying the amplifier. Some bloggers who began as highly focused ‘Influentials’ talking to only niche groups have become stars and engaged in very broad conversations. They often start to post less frequently but when they do they reach bigger, much bigger numbers.

The post pointed out that now more people get news from the Internet than traditional newspapers. This too is a part of the amplification process with e-zines merging with communities and a more dialogue driven view of the news.  The key dynamic here is the way twitter helps ideas and stories leapfrog between niche communities.  Again this seems to be of the great strengths of twitter it takes news from niches and can make them part of a broad community.

As it grows this does not mean twitter is all about these broader conversations. Clearly there a niche areas such as middle aged cycling that have drawn together quite large but discrete groups who don’t make it as trending topics. But even these conversations have become broader. So back to the blindingly obvious not always being easy to adopt I quote one point in the Elise’s Review below:

If Your Blog Doesn’t Have A “Tweet This” Or “Like This” Button On It, It Means That You Are Not Cool.

And yes – we know ours doesn’t. yet.

@Naked_Pheasant