Category Archives: the future

Facebook users decline in 14 of top 20 markets over last 3 months

Facebook has been in the news a lot this week, Facebook home is certainly an interesting development but that’s not what I want to write about today, its this:

Social bakers

That data is taken from Social Bakers for Q1 2013, it shows that Facebook users have declined in a whole load of markets. Europe and the USA are most numerous in the list of markets but the biggest % declines are in Indonesia and Malaysia.

This is a concern for Facebook, when combined with other recent surveys about Facebook losing their younger user base this could become a real problem.

Now the real question is does this mean that Facebook only continues to show paper growth as older users and lagards get into it and due to a few developing markets (Brazil etc.) but it’s not as important as it was 12-24 months ago as sites like Tumblr, Twitter etc. grow?

What do you think?

Taking on a new challenge

I know, I don’t blog often enough. This isn’t because I don’t have enough to say, as anyone who knows me will testify, it’s mostly because I have been very busy with work, moving house, and training for the Brighton Marathon (sponsor me!)

This blog post is about the first of those things that generally keep me from blogging, work. I love my job, I get to do amazing things like this:

And work with some awesome people. Nokia’s been through one hell of a transition in the last couple of years, it’s something I am proud I am part of and am sure the experience will serve me very well in the future.

Old Nokia logo

Now a new challenge has presented itself within Nokia and from the 2nd of April I will move out of the global social media team and start as Head of Digital Marketing and Advocacy for Nokia Europe. I’m excited, very excited, its a big and exciting job, in a new team with new challenges and responsibilities.

I am proud to have done such great work with some great people as global Editor in Chief, hopefully this is the start of something else I can be proud of.

But first: I have a marathon to run, will blog more after that, promise.

Is it time to unfollow EVERYTHING?

This week has been social media week and I have been busy. Partly because Nokia were the headline sponsor, doing lots of amazing things and partly because I have been talking on various panels about the future of social media and such things. here I am with guys from Ogilvy and Yorkshire tea talking about “the battle for attention” (I am on the panel, starting at about 30 mins, but listen to the Yorkshire Tea guy, he gives a good presentation.)

One point I have been raising all week is a trend beginning to unfold among my peers over the last 6-12 months, that of “unfollowing”: Initially this trend seemed to focus on younger females, I noticed a lot of people I went to uni with and people I knew from school begin to reduce their number of friends on Facebook dramatically, independently and from different social groups I noticed a lot of friends reduce from several hundred Facebook connections down to 50-100. – That was early to mid last year. Since then limited profiles have come up a lot more and, in short, people are being more picky about who they connect and share with. This has also been reflected in our industry: In September 2011 Chris Brogan unfollowed, well, everyone, in a “great unfollow experiment” several others did the same.

2 parallel but interlinked trends have driven this in my opinion: Firstly a greater desire for privacy and tales from across the world of people making asses of themselves, losing jobs or even getting stalked or robbed (!) due to a careless use of social networks, in short: People are now more picky about who they share with and what. The second is that as social networking matures people are more picky about what they want to see, do I really care what a guy I used to know in primary school is now doing for a living or that his cat is sick? – No, unfollow / unfriend… We all have too much info about everything anyway, why do I need more?

Now here is my question: When will this spread to brands… If I don’t care what a lot of real people are doing in social, why would I want to hear about a brand? Particularly a brand I don’t really care about, but I have “followed” or “liked” to enter a competition or get a store discount! – Will we begin to see more people clean house in the brands they follow and engage with? How can brands stop this or counter it?

Well, there are 3 approaches in my opinion:

1) stay relevant with content people want: People want discounts? OK, give them more! But wait… Then Facebook just becomes one giant coupon mail list, is that what you want? Is that what the promised land of social media has become?

2) Become a hub of amazing created and curated content: This has to be fun, it has to be emotionally resonant (make me laugh, cry or smile or feel something, so I share it!) and it has to be consistent, a lot of it. – This is nice but it’s a real brand play, how does this drive business value?

3) People: Forget garnering attention for yourselves, focus on your core fans and those people you want to make core fans and use personal relationships, engagements and offline events to build them into powerful advocates – People listen to people and buy from people so make people advocate your brand and you will thrive!

The Answer: At this stage it’s hard to say, but as with so many things a little of each, you drive direct business value with #1, brand value and engagement with #2 and you drive NPS, peer recommendation and all the above with the all important #3…

But most importantly: Ground everything you do (including your social strategy, if you have one) in this: “Does this activity add value to the community?” – Simple, but easy to forget…

As things get saturated it’s going to get tough out there, good luck!

New opportunities

Friday was my last day as “Senior Presences Manager” at 1000heads, it has been great working with the ‘heads and we have achieved a lot.

That said opportunities like the one I have been offered recently do not come along very often, so on Monday I start at Nokia as their “Global Editor in chief” for social media. I am under no illusions about the challenges that lie ahead, both for the company and for me personally, but I have worked with Nokia for about 2 years now, as a ‘head and before, and I know the amazing underlying strengths the organisation has, I’m excited about what the social team at Nokia can achieve and looking forward to working with some very bright minds who really “get it”.

Nokia HQ courtesy of Slashgear

For those of you who are wondering: I will still be based in London, for now at least, so no Helsinki or Espoo bound relocation just yet…

Oh and if you are planning to attend Nokia World 2011 I will be there, so come and say hello!

Onwards! 

Awesome street Cinema AR app

This is really cool, no more needs to be said!

A day things changed…

That was today.

This evening I planned to write a post about my Dad, as it’s fathers day and all, that would have been easy, my Dad has taught me a lot and I use those lessons in my job every day, from how to sell, how to act, how to manage I could write quite a few actually…

Then today I was thinking about what I want my blog to be, I have been writing a lot recently having planned to write one post a day from the start of this month, but almost everything has come back to work, business, marketing and social media. These are all things that I am passionate about but not things that define me, today I considered renaming my blog, I considered writing more about computer games and reviews of them, maybe more about my challenges with my health (few know I am a type 1 diabetic with 1 kidney) but ultimately these were all just vague thoughts that come back to a greater issue in my life at the moment:

Recently I have been way too focussed on work

Not a really bad thing, I am young and I like my job, but I have no external focus or goal, what I mean is I have focussed on work to the detriment of other areas of my life, my physical health mostly – I have been eating badly, sleeping badly and lacking in exercise, which for a diabetic is not a good thing at all. I want to stress This is not my employers fault it is mine, I was doing a similar job last year and I ran 2 marathons…

But today that all changed: Dad called

As so often in life it takes a shock to the system, to really drive a personal change, it did for me today, this evening Dad called me and told me my oldest cousin has seen a return of the cancer that has affected her in earlier years, not good. I didn’t really react at first, I don’t know how in those kinds of situations, I think I just said “shit, OK” and that was it.

I carried on with my evening and it was only much later that everything fell together, my cousins misfortune placed my minor concerns about my life firmly in perspective and drove me to take action, I need a challenge, I always do, and I need to feel like I am doing something, so I have rolled all this together and come up with a crazy plan and to get there I had to go…

…Back to the moleskin:

In late 2008 my then girlfriend broke up with me, I reacted in typical fashion by taking some time out and climbing Kilimanjaro.  While up there I wrote down a series of plans and thoughts and kept a diary, I have  never written any of it up or even revisited it seriously since, until now.

One of the ideas was to cycle across Europe from North to South, from Hammerfest in Norway (the most Northern town in continental Europe to Tarifa in Spain, at the other end, a total of about 3350 miles!

So next year I am going to do that!

I’m putting it in writing now, Next year I will cycle from North to South across Europe to raise money for a cancer charity of my cousin’s choice. And as a warm up this year I just went online and signed up to the London – Paris cycle in September:

Again I will be raising money for a cancer charity, more details to come.

I have decided, I am not going to sit here and mope about getting out of shape or spend any more time with too much of a focus on work, I am not going to take my current health for granted, I am going to use it while I have it to do some crazy stuff and raise some money for a good cause. Something good might even come of it, and this blog will be telling you the story, I haven’t cycled for about 2 years, so this will be fun!

My challenge is nothing compared to that my cousin has to face, getting over something like cancer and it is almost shameful that it took something like that to spur me into action…

You see: today was a day that things changed.

And I do have to mention my Dad here, he is the one who has, from a young age, instilled me with the positive attitude that gives me the confidence, mental strength and desire to take on these challenges, he is also the one who keeps me involved in all the family stuff and who has taught me that deep down I do need to put family first, even though I sometimes don’t do my fare share and am admittedly not the best cousin, brother, son or anything, often too distant or focussed on myself.

Thanks Dad, you’re the best.

And good luck Sarah, you will get through this, I know you will. 

Personal brands and the observer effect

So this is something people talk about a lot online, particularly those guys who work in SM, Chris Brogan wrote on the subject back in 2007 and again in 2008 so I guess I am a little behind the curve then… Well no, I am not going to talk about how to build a personal brand as, to be honest, I am still figuring that out for myself and I am certainly no expert, however this is a trend I have noticed emerging: a lot of people are starting to see the value of their personal brands and this is beginning to affect the way they use social media and as such it will affect the way that brands monitor and engage with people online…

Firstly: we have all heard the horror stories, Virgin Atlantic sacking staff for comments made on Facebook but Tesco and DSGi have had similar issues, and this story went viral brilliantly back in 2008, so, today most people are not so stupid, most change their Facebook profile to private and carefully edit their friend lists and are well aware of what a potential employer (or current employer) may see online.

However 2010 is ushering in a whole new era of personal brand engagement across the social web: some people I know have already christened this year as “the year of engagement” (although many also christened 2009 in the same way!) So as consumers become increasingly aware that brands and corporations are monitoring social media and as they increasingly come into contact with brands in this space then we have to ask a serious question: with increasing awareness of how our personal brand can be affected by what we say online and an increasing awareness of brand presences in the digital space is the very act of brands monitoring social media going to effect the conversation?

Let us think back for a moment to that well-known scientific principle: the observer effect – the simple principle being that whether looking at sub atomic structures or human behaviour the very act of watching (or in the case of social media, listening) will affect the very thing you are watching (or conversation you are listening to)…

To give a real life example: I received some very poor service in a retail store recently, I wanted to flame that brand online to punish them and warn others, however I knew they were monitoring SM and I also knew that a large part of my role is business developement focused and that I would like to work with that brand, so I bit my proverbial tongue We could all imagine how some negative comments online picked up by a social media monitoring tool could seriously torpedo someones prospects in a sales pitch, or job interview! The impact of the observer effect will change dependant on the situation but the point is this, we change what we say when we know we are being watched, so this is going to present an interesting challenge for brands going forward, how do we overcome this effect?

The Election, Flickr, Change We See and feedback loops.

I have just read a great blog post on the telegraph website written by Kate Day on the Labour Party’s recent Flickr campaign and the debacle that followed… Essentially Labour’s idea was simple, they feel they have made great changes to this country since 1997 and they were going to ask their supporters to upload pictures (or twitpic them with the tag #changewesee) that visually represent that positive change.

However, as Kate states, the problem with crowdsourcing is that the crowds do not always think in the same way, the problem here was obvious: the visual medium of photography is an area of real contention for Labour at the moment, some photographers would argue that the government abuses terror laws and stop and search powers when dealing with innocent public photography, indeed there is even a stong campaign group: I’m a photographer not a terrorist who organised against government laws last weekend.  So we can see where the problem is coming from…

Photographers (who are obviously going to be key users of Flickr and associated sites) began to upload a variety of posts into the photo pool outlining pictures of stop and search warrants issued to photographers, not so positive! That’s not good, however what came next is a real failure of Labour’s community management: Labour employees quickly went through and removed the images from the Flickr Pool and locked down the discussion group pages of the site to prevent new discussions being started, they also removed negative posts (not offensive, just negative) from the discussion pages.

This is a big challenge for the community editors and managers involved with this group, how do you deal with negative discussion, but social media is all about listening and learning, the Labour Party needs to understand that these people have a legitimate grievance with party policy that they want to air in a public and open discussion, if their content is gratuitous or violent then remove it, however if they are simply airing their legitimate grievance with your policy in the run up to an election then why not listen, engage and learn? Instead of removing their comments from the site and locking it down to oppress them why not talk to them? Why not be social? OK, so it is hard to hear negative comments about your organisation, it is even harder to see them on your own website or in response to your own campaign but that feedback is essential, after all these people are voters, they are part of that large group of people who will decide if you will run the country after the upcoming election so don’t shut them out!

This is important for all organisations engaging in the social web, listen and learn, however it is particularly important for political party’s! the Liberal Democracy that is supposed to exist in this country is all about people having the freedom to express themselves as they choose and have their opinions heard and acted upon by the politicians who represent them, in recent years there has been a growing level of concern from various sections of society on the power of our government to curtail our freedoms and limit our freedom of speech, right to protest etc. If the governing party of this country decides to stifle free and open debate on its policy by censoring pages as it has done then what does that do to the publics confidence in that party? If they will not listen to us or let us speak, on our terms, then why should we listen to them? Never mind vote for them!

In my opinion Labour missed a valuable opportunity to engage with  the community here, to open a real debate and understand an issue that is becoming an increasing concern to a lot of people, instead of fostering free and open debate and taking that valuable feedback on board and growing from it they stifled the debate and now they have to deal with the fallout, there is already a parody group on Flickr and more are sure to spring up…

Aside

Following my last post about the evolution of television I am going to look to tackle the wider issue of ownership in an increasingly open and digitized world, this is not going to be a long diatribe on the ownership … Continue reading

Aside

On the 30th September 2009 Guy Pearson was quoted in Campaign Live as saying “this is a significant milestone. This is the first major market where online has overtaken television to become the biggest single medium” (http://www.brandrepublic.com/News/942046/UK-online-advertising-spending-overtakes-TV/?DCMP=ILC-SEARCH). He was talking, of … Continue reading