Friday, 23 January 2009

Was the Evening Standard out of touch?

I've always found it hard to reconcile the Standard's political agenda (particularly over the Mayoral campaign) to my personal beliefs, and so wasn't sure whether my view that the paper was doomed was led by personal bias. I do think the paper has been out of touch with the popular view in London for some time now, and a much more features-led style has become preachy at best, dictatorial at worst. Its sale to Alexander Lebedev for the price of two copies is a real shame for a paper that, whatever your political views, used to be a symbol of London life. It'll be interesting to see whether the London Paper will be able to take over while the Standard's future is uncertain.

What happens when a product doesn't live up to its messaging?

I was going through some old photos and came across one that made me laugh. A great example of a product not living up to its hype:

Great links on social media and comms

Two great blog articles that should be required reading for all PR teams involved in social media. One from Jon Clements and one from Mat Morrison . A great basis for educating clients on how to approach social media.

Tuesday, 13 January 2009

Do we need to define social media?

I think we’re all starting to over-complicate how to define social media, what it includes and what it doesn’t. We need to understand where people are talking to each other, recommending or slating stuff, but I think the terminology we use is largely irrelevant. It's like 3G - when that term was first lobbed around, consumers didn't care (or even know) what 3G was – it was an industry definition. What people cared about was “I can get video on my phone”, or “my Internet's really quick". (And while I think of it – do most people know what ‘media’ includes? Most people I know outside of media / marketing industries say ‘I saw it on TV’ or ‘I heard it on the radio’ or ‘I watched it on YouTube’.)

Maybe we should apply the same approach to social media. If you work for Top Shop, then your customers are all over MySpace, but not Facebook. If you’re iPhone, you probably want nice things said about you on the zillions of iPhanatic forums. And so on. So whether social media is media or not probably won’t matter in the long term.

I know that we need to advise clients, and clients use these terms – but I don’t think we need to worry too much about tight definitions. Social media to me is anywhere that people gather to talk about stuff, where they run the environment. Any marketing definitions we apply now will change in five minutes, anyway.

iPhone and social media

Although this video’s been knocking around since August (here analysed in a piece by Bernhard Warner and Matthew Yeomans - always worth reading on social media issues), it is a great demonstration of how a brand’s service should live up to its advertising claims - in this case the iPhone’s usability speed on 3G.

Just to be clear - I’m sure it won’t stop people wanting an iPhone. But that’s because it’s beautifully designed, lovely to use and has so many features. So it does seem odd that Apple has focused so heavily on the one thing that doesn’t stand up to scrutiny – speed. Network speed is so reliant on outside factors that surely this is setting up customer expectations to be disappointed?

Social media and word of mouth marketing - a huge part of iPhone’s promotional mix –are by their nature only successful if the service lives up to the claim. Why waste time focusing on promoting the one message that is pretty much guaranteed to let people down?