Tag Archives: corporate use of social media

The Emperor’s New Wearable Tech

Just to be quite clear, this is one from the vaults – what I laughingly refer to as an ‘archive’. A back-catalogue, if you will. Which means it’s a little out of date, because normally, in these infrequent nusings, you’ll find me chuntering on about stuff that I’ve either been (metaphorically) hit over the head with, or have gleaned from rapid perusal of the news media. And news has always been quick to become ‘olds’, and doubly so in today’s age of instant-gratification citizen journalism, so it would be – I’m sure you’d agree – pretty much inevitable that anything I write on the topic of news is likely to be out of date fairly soon. (Is it just me or is this all a bit, well, prolix? Get on with it Jeremy, spit it out, man!)

However. The musing that I post below, while news related, actually centres around tech and the development of. What makes it interesting – and, I think, indicative of where we, as a society are headed, increasingly rapidly – is that it was written in October last year. October 2014. We’re now in April 2015 – six months on. In that time, Google Glass – for it is this tech that I’m writing about – has been introduced, has been the subject of a myriad failed attempts at assimilation by a myriad of businesses, large and small, has been deemed a failure by Google itself and has been pulled. Talk about a week being a long time in technology.

As an aside, I’m reading a book at present called ‘Twelve Tomorrows’ – twelve science fiction stories based on actual articles from the MIT Journal. All the stories were written in 2014, almost all contain some element of wearable tech. There’ll be another twelve published this year – and I wonder what shiny object du jour they’ll all incorporate.

So, a quick show of hands. Who here is getting involved with Google Glass, or any other bit of wearable tech, in a business context? Now, clearly, I can’t see how many of you have your hands up at this point, but when Google Glass is purported to be owned by 8% of the total population of South Korea, I am betting it’s quite a few of you.

The problem, of course, is that Google Glass – and indeed any form of wearable tech – suffers from the same issue that social media did and, despite its ubiquity and billions of users, still does. Shiny Object Syndrome or, in what I believe to be the current vernacular, FOMO.

In other words, the desperate and rather unseemly desire of brands, businesses and organisations to try and shoehorn wearable tech into their operational practices, in order to be seen to be surfing the next wave – in order that someone else doesn’t get there first.

And, much like social media, we’re starting to see the growth of an industry around wearable tech. The Google Glass Gurus will soon be here, the Smart Watch Swamis and the entire rag, tag and bobtail who will very soon be plugged in to your operational, marketing and customer service budgets, providing essential advice on how best to revolutionise your business with wearable tech.

And, as usual, the only people who will actually see an upside from incorporating wearable tech into sales, marketing or CRM will be the very same snake-oil salesmen who convinced you to do exactly that in the first place.

Recently there have been a number of examples of businesses who have succumbed to the blandishments of the tech gurus – a healthy sense of self-preservation and a desire not to incriminate myself prevents me from naming names – however, this time round, and unlike the unstoppable rise of social media as a marketing tool, the businesses involved have left themselves what you might call ‘wiggle room’.

I’m an old communicator. Like one of those clunky black plastic devices out of an early episode of Star Trek. When I started out (with nothing, and I still have most of it left) there weren’t social media. Actually, there wasn’t email. We used to communicate over distance using flags. (Just kidding. We used to shout.) What we did do a lot of, however, was spinning yarns – using research, and innovation and, let’s face it, stuff that, on a nice day, with a fair wind, might possibly come true, to create stories and generate media coverage.

In many cases, the wares that we hawked up and down Fleet Street came with clear ‘caveat emptor’ signs – we were ‘trialling’ this and ‘testing’ that – we had conducted a ‘limited roll-out’ and whatever it was became available in ‘selected outlets’. And this is what we’re seeing with wearable tech – the businesses I’ve mentioned are all very much ‘trialling’ the usage of the kit in their operations, they’re ‘evaluating’ its potential.

Which leaves me some hope that, sooner or later, our collective hive memory will recall the fate of the Bluetooth headset, once the darling of the thrusting young exec, now the accessory of choice of a certain type of minicab driver.

And recalling the fate of the Bluetooth headset, we’ll look anew at Google Glass and see it for what it is – a stepping stone. You see, I don’t dispute the potential of the tech. It’s widely agreed that smartphone design has evolved as far as it can – it cannot get much thinner, or much larger or much simpler to interact with.

But the future’s not wearable tech. Nope – in the future the bloke who was recently reported as addicted to Google Glass won’t have to take it off ever again. Because it’ll be implanted in his skull and hardwired into his brain.

And, obviously, available in selected stores, for a trial period only.

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The Social Media Marketing Miracle That Wasn’t

What a fantastic title this post has (even if I do say so myself), and all the better for having been delivered to me, on a plate, courtesy of The New York Times in this genuinely thought-provoking piece about the inherent value of social media and how it is linked to the socio-cultural phenomenon behind them and their growth. (Ooooh, get me and my socio-cultural phenomena!) (Yes, yes. Alright. I made it up. No, I don’t know what it means.)

Anyhoo, the key point (for me) is this:

“That, in fact, may be the ultimate lesson to draw from the social media marketing miracle that wasn’t. The impact of new technologies is invariably misjudged because we measure the future with yardsticks from the past.”

Now, being breathtakingly simplistic here, what this can be taken to mean is that social media are being judged (in a commercial sense) by their usefulness as marketing or communications tools – because there must be a way to monetise them. Worse, those who do not see them in this light, or judge them using these yardsticks, are seen as naysayers and luddites.

Obviously, this is wrong. Social media are not sales, marketing or communications tools in a commercial sense. This is not awkwardness, or a refusal to go into the light – this is trying to see beyond the traditional uses of ‘media’, by which all such channels are judged (at present).

I’m with the author of this article (well done, sir!) when he says:

“Social networks, like them or not, are fast laying out a new grid of personal connections. Even if this matrix of humanity sputters in advertising and marketing, it’s bound to spawn new industries in consulting, education, collaborative design, market research, media and loads of products and services yet to be imagined. Maybe, just maybe, it will even be able to sell soap.”

Not sure about the soap, mind.

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Is Social Media a Load of Rubbish?

Yes, yes it is. But don’t take my word for it – follow this link (which you can do by manipulating your mouse – and yes, I realise that by giving in to the temptation of including the childish mouse gag, I have now rendered this post NSFW, which means that it cannot be read in New South F#cking Wales, oops, there we go again) and read all about it.

Anyway. This is an article from the Metro (a free newspaper of this parish, and a barometer of whether someone is inbetween content on their kindle, as I am) which dares ask ‘Social Media! What is it good fia?’ In a sort of post-ironic Edwin Starr stylee.

As it turns out, it is good for absolutely nothing. Now, this is not me talking, or posturing – no – the posturing and styling is done for me by others. Oh, I know you’ll be poo-pooing it all the way to the Twitter feed, but I’d suggest you stop and think just for a moment.

Newspapers exist to be read. If they’re not read, they tend to stop existing. Which means that what’s in them is deemed by someone to be of interest to the readership. If the content is of interest to the readership, it implies that there is some resonance in it. If there’s some resonance in it, it’s a fair assumption that there is some agreement with it. If there’s agreement, then – de facto – there’s truth. For what is agreed with, amongst those who agree, is commonly held to be true. And what better definition of truth could you want than that of ‘something which, by common agreement, is held to be correct’?

(Apologies for the last paragraph. I’ve been reading too much Neal Stephenson.)

So – a happy 2013 to you all, dearest blog trotters. Let us hope that this is the year when the metaphorical little boy stares up at the metaphorical Emperor and shouts, metaphorically, “Oi – your Pomposity – you’ve got no clothes on!”

An’ thank you.

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Some More Thoughtful Social Media Commentary

You know me, not much of a socio-mediavelist on the whole – but, still, I bet you thought I’d gone a bit Southern (for my friends from the United States and America, ‘southern’ in this context means ‘effeminate’, not ‘toothless, hairy, armed and smelling of bourbon’) (and for my UK fans, yes, I am a southerner, so it is perfectly alright for me to use the word ‘southern’, as it is not offensive. In the same way I could use the word ‘gay’, if I wanted to) (which would be offensive) when I stopped ranting about t’social and how it represents a direct road to hell for civilsation as we know it.

Anyway, rumours of my descent into southernness have been greatly exaggerated, as demonstrated by this article from that stalwart bulwark of editorial honesty (on matters communication), Communicate Magazine. I cannot tell you how much I echo the sentiments in this article – not all of them, obviously, there is some very Southern thinking contained within – and how I am in complete agreement with the school of thought that says social media are completely irrelevant. (OK, that’s not EXACTLY what it says, but near enough as makes no difference. To my mind.)

I also admire the (again, to my mind) extremely clever way that one of the authors – the one in the right, obviously, the one on the side of truth and justice – has designated social media ‘SM’, which, of course, is simply shorthand for a very Southern practice indeed.

Yes, I am wholly in favour of one half of this article.

The one that I wrote, clearly.

 

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Filed under Communications Strategy, External Communications, Internet, Social Media, Writing

Social Media in a Crisis

More evidence, if more were needed, that we really do not have a clue what we are doing with social media (in using the word ‘we’ I am embracing the entire PR and Corporate Affairs community, even the slightly creepy ones, like one I met this morning. The one who was so engrossed in herself and her own importance she forgot the first rule – don’t believe your own hype. There’s nothing more edifying than watching someone who thinks they’re good being seven shades of awful).

Anyway, long story short, I was at something billed as a breakfast briefing on ‘The Role of Social Media In a Travel Crisis’. Which sounded fab – and there were two speakers, who definitely had had crises. Sadly, the session never really got past the ‘travel crisis’ bit with the ‘social media’ piece being relegated to some screengrabs and an admission that neither of the spokepeople’s organisations had either dedicated budget or dedicated resource to deal with the phenomenon that is social. Which is fine – but I know something about crisis management and I don’t need to be told to ‘have the facts’ and ‘be sincere’ – I really wanted to hear about others’ experience of crisis played out on social.

Got me thinking though. Thinking a couple of things. Once again – and in this context – social media is not a force for good – it is likely to carry reputational risk and will suck at your time like a Goldman Sachs(*). And, again once again, our industry is bullsh*tting and bl*stering its way through, ‘avin’ it large on topics about which it wots not. We do not understand social media, fellow communicators mine, and maybe it is time that we did. Maybe it is time – to address the specific point – that crisis management planning, training and simulation all contained dedicated social (new) media modules. Maybe it’s time we planned, rather than – as I saw this morning – leaving it to chance and doing it on the hoof.

I for one shall be taking this very much more seriously from here on in.

And finally – a general comment on people who work in PR. If you’re asked to speak on a topic – then speak on the topic. Please don’t attempt to spin it to suit you. It doesn’t work (mostly) with general audiences – what makes you think it’s going to work with your peers?

(* Vampire Squid)

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Filed under Communications Strategy, corporate reputation, Social Media

Vindicated at last!

Or I could have titled this post ‘justified’, but then someone would have accused me of being a Belieber. When, in fact, I am simply Marked. Mark Borkowskied, to be clearer.

Here you are, all of you who have sneered at my take on social media. All of you – I believe the term is – ‘haters’. All of you gurus, you charlatans, you bearers of Greek gifts, you purveyors of snake oil. You clothesless Emperors, you herd-following sheep, you shiny-object-collectors. You next-big-thingies. Yes, you. And who’s laughing now. Eh?

See!

I’d like to quote Mr Borkowski – a real PR guru, with lots of experience mind, not a pretend guru, who is using the bauble of social media to fleece gullible clients who should know better. Here you are – if you want more, clickety-linky, read fulsome!

“Twitter and social media is not a marketing platform, it’s a channel to engage with an audience. It’s not a way of actually selling more. It’s totally about visibility.

This is nothing new, this is nothing interesting.”

Nothing see here, then.

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The Dark Net – Well, How Terribly Cyberpunk Of You

Frankly, I am sometimes left rooted to the spot with my mouth hanging open at how much you couldn’t really make things up if you tried. (I’m sorry if, at first sight, this last sentence doesn’t seem to make sense. Read it again slowly.)

In my free time, when I’m not saving whales, teaching orphaned ravens to fly underwater, or re-charging battery hens, I sometimes dip into a book, and the genre of book that I enjoy a good dip into is science fiction, particularly post-apocalyptic, cyberpunk science fiction. Now, it might just be metal-tinted glasses, but it’s my vivid impression that many works of cyberpunk (particularly at the lower-rent end of the genre spectrum) contain a key common theme and that’s virtual worlds, existing on t’internet. Almost all of them have something recognisably hacker-like and most have the odd villain or two, making use of closed sections of the information superhighway upon which to perform the digital handbrake turns of mayhem. So far, so made up.

(If, at this point in time, you find your interest piqued by this sort of – can I? Should I? Call it literature? Well, you might like to have a jolly good dip into this which is, joking aside, genuinely brilliant and has that bit of virtual-worlds-(in this case virtual hells – plural, yes)-hidden-away schtick goin’ on. It’s not really cyberpunk, though. For that, you’ll need this.)

Anyway, now we come to the bit where I’m frozen to the spot with my mouth hanging open. Dearest Blog Trotters – check this out.

I’ll let the headline speak for itself – ‘users build bridge to Dark Net’. If you want to know more about it, then you’ll have to read the story – it involves something called TOR, which is apparently a ‘secret net’. Yes, people, a secret net, existing somewhere in, or behind, or in parallel with, the one we all know about. It’s a Dark Net – it’s hidden and it exists so that internetters can hide their existence and what they are doing. It is the stuff that cyberpunk is made of and – here’s the thing – it is not made up. It exists. People are using it and – more to the point – others are signing up to it, providing it with more bandwidth and, yes, protecting it.

You’ll probably notice that I got a bit hysterical during that last sentence, and this will give you a clue to where I’m coming from on this issue. Which is from the State of No Way, No How. I make no secret of my disdain for social media – mostly the empty, ego-fuelled meanderings of millions of people who can’t bear the silence in their own heads – and I’ve also made it clear that I do not think it to be harmless (that it’s harmful and has caused harm is, actually, beyond doubt). From a corporate and business perspective, it is not a sales or marketing tool, it has limited use as an active communications tool and its best function is as a reactive message delivery channel when something has gone wrong. Ironically, these days, when something corporate goes wrong, it’s most likely caused by, or spread by, social media in any case.

But a big issue is anonymity. I believe in the right to be anonymous and the right to privacy – but if you’re foolish enough to post your life on Facebook, then that’s your anonymity gone and don’t come crying to me. Sadly, privacy and anonymity on the net doesn’t just protect fine upstanding citizens like you and me – it also protects the evil bastard trolls who pick on people, who post inappropriate content, who revel in their internet Tourette’s and who  contribute to the well-publicised suicides.

Previously, on this blog, I posted about regulating the internet and how it was far too late. I suggested a way of doing it – the GAP (Global Authentication Portal) – and suggested that the nerds of the world would upheave at the mere suggestion of such a thing.

This was before I became aware of the Dark Net. Surely I am not the only person who thinks that this is just a step too far – yes, I understand that an untraceable net protects freedom of speech in oppressive regimes and allows citizen journalism to raise its voice against institutional wrongs – but I’m afraid I’d sacrifice these liberties to ensure that criminals, thieves and global scumbags can be brought to justice.

This is one type of anonymity that I do not believe to be a human right. As I’ve said – if you’re putting your stuff on the net – you’re not anonymous. Don’t complain – there’s only (relatively speaking) a few bad apples, but the barrel is rotten.

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Filed under Internet, Social Media