Tag Archives: Facebook

The Social Network/Travelling Light

This weekend I saw a play about film and a film about social networks, which seemed to fit together nicely.

Travelling Light is a new play by Nicholas Wright, directed by Nicholas Hytner. As this is the team behind His Dark Materials, my feeling was that it couldn’t really go wrong. And it didn’t. There’s something quite intellectually satisfying about examining one medium through another, requiring you as it does to think about the characteristics of each in relation to the other. The set was, once again at the National, absolutely stunning: its 3D representation of the shtetl in which the play was set only seemed to exaggerate the 2D nature of the films that we saw. The presence of live actors reacting with joy and wonder to what were very old fashioned cinemactic images reminded us just how exciting and magical cinema must have been to its early viewers. The friend I went with commented at the end that there didn’t seem to be much energy emanating from the audience to the actors – not words you would ever utter exiting a film theatre. My (well-documented!) love of theatre does come from that immediacy – a performance once given is lost forever, and each is unique, depending on the mix on the night of the cast, crew and audience. This was all made very much more obvious by watching a depiction of early pioneers of film producing such a staged (haha) experience.

And then on Sunday I watched The Social Network, about the creation of Facebook, which was a lot better than a) I thought it would be and b) it could have been. Again, a strong script and strong director at the helm are fundamental, and a film by the writer of the West Wing and the director of Seven is likely to be a good bet. I have seen other films about computing or in which computing is a main element that handle much less well the fact that watching people type things on a screen doesn’t make great cinema. Music seems to matter a lot in film, more than in theatre, maybe because there are fewer ways to create an atmosphere in film – lighting, set etc are going to be less immediate for a film audience, who might be watching it at home with all the lights on, in a film theatre in the dark, or nowadays, on their phone on a train. So music becomes a much more important tool. And Trent Reznor’s soundtrack was amazing – atmospheric but not intrusive (I only just realised it got an Oscar, so clearly it’s not just me that thinks so). A central point for me about the film was Zuckerberg’s certainty that what he had was going to change the way we thought about a whole range of things. Eduardo trawling Madison Avenue for a few hundred thousand of old-style ad money while Mark was signing venture capital deals for half a billion chimes with the truism that Facebook isn’t free, we just don’t pay money for it. Coming as it does in a week when Google do seem to have jumped the privacy shark, it was useful to have that message reinforced.

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Filed under Culture, Digital/social media, Living in London

My take on social media in the Commission

I was asked to write an article for our intranet about the use of social media in London. Thought I would reprint it here, as I would be grateful for comments.

There’s no doubt that social media is the latest thing in communication terms. If I had an extra 10 minutes in the day for every unsolicited email I get marketing new ways to “optimise my social media presence” or “enhance my social media ROI” I’d be able to get a lot more done. But it’s not clear to everyone what social media is and how it can be used effectively. The London rep has built up some experience in the field that Well’Comm has asked me to share with you.

 1. What makes media social?

 The predominant principle of social media is that it’s two way. If you post on your Facebook page, people will comment, and will expect a response. If you have a Twitter account, you will get the most out of it if you follow and interact with other people. If you write a blog, you will need to respond to (sensible…) comments. Your success in these media will depend on how much you do so – broadcast only is not an option. This direct contact is why we in London started working with social media in the first place – it allows people to hear our side of the story, to question us about it and to get replies to their own questions, all of which helps breakdown our remote “ivory tower” image in this country.

 2. Who uses social media?

 Effective communication relies on getting the right medium for a particular message and audience. With social media, this is not only true, it is easy to measure. Platforms such as Hootsuite have integrated analytical tools that let you see how your tweets are being viewed and from where. New Twitter analysis tools such as Tweetreach and Twitalyzer are being developed all the time. Facebook insights give a demographic breakdown and show your most popular posts. Different groups use social media in different ways and on different platforms, so it’s really worth doing your research. Know who your audience are, choose the best tools to reach them and be clear about what you trying to say or do. Calls to action (“register here for…”, “send us your…” “tell us your…”) usually work better than general information messages Check out what your target community is doing and where they are talking to each other. Use the site analytics for your existing digital work to find out where they come from and what information they consume and use this to choose the best social media channel. Find examples in your field that you would like to emulate and work out what makes them successful and how you can translate that to your activity. 31 million people in the UK have internet, 89% have a mobile phone and 42% of those are smartphones. Therefore digital communication has to be a core element of our communication here at the London rep. Our Facebook insights show that our major demographic (65% of our users) is the 18-34 age-group, so we tend to orient what we do to this group. Our most popular items tend to be those focussing on careers and specific issues for students and young people.

 3. There’s more to social media than Twitter and Facebook

 All the talk at the moment is of Twitter and Facebook, but there’s more to social media than those two platforms, important though they are. Social media is at its heart about connecting people and this can be done in many ways. Having a Flickr account for your photos (preferably with a Creative Commons license so people can actually use them!) and YouTube/DailyMotion for your videos is one thing. You can make collaborative maps using Google Maps. You can highlight your expertise on a particular issue in Quora. You can make your presentations public and invite people to comment on them. You can use LinkedIn to find professionals interested in your issue. Of course all of these feed into and off each other – you can tweet your answers to Quora questions, repost your blog entry on Facebook and so on.

 So, if you want to stick your toe in the social media pond, you could do worse than consider Jim Benson’s 10 principles of social media. I’m off to tweet the link to his blogpost…!

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Filed under Digital/social media, EC in UK

Onward and upward in 2011

First off, a Happy New Year to all my readers (both of you…)

I was looking back through the blog today looking for a specific post, and it’s obvious that I write much less than I did when I first arrived. Some of that might be personal – less enthusiasm, more of other stuff that gets in the way. But I think to some extent it’s because we’ve developed other digital media channels which do (much better) what this blog was trying to do. The “in the press” section of our Rep website addresses the Euromyths that were a lot of what I did at the beginning. The Facebook page does the more fun stories. The EU and me site has the info about what’s going on, and links to practical sources of information. And I can interact with people via Twitter. So that doesn’t leave me a lot to talk about  here :) I will of course keep writing, and certainly will try to keep up with the Coming Week information about events of specific UK interest. And I will take a particular interest in the European Year of Volunteering and hope to write quite a bit about that.

Have a great 2011!

Update, 17.15 Nice irony that today’s WordPress announcement was about their challenge to blog more often in 2011

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Filed under Coming Week, Digital/social media, EC in UK, European Year of Volunteering

Talking it over

There’s been a lot of discussion about how this hasn’t been the “social media” election everyone thought it was. But, like some others, I believe that those writing about it are viewing it the wrong way down the telescope. No, social media may not have replaced the role of newpapers, or even TV. But as I tweeted “#ukvote SE7″ this morning to help log turnout and clicked “Yes I voted” on the Democracy UK page on Facebook, it seemed very clear to me that things were different to how they had ever been before. Social media aren’t about replacing the old media, thaty’re about doing things differently and doing different things. The New Statesman yesterday said more or less the same thing, highlighting the role of Twitter and Facebook in creating cohesion among supporters and activists. Not to mention the mydavidcameron poster site (other poster sites exist…!). Maybe it won’t be Twitter wot won it this time, or maybe ever, but I believe that the advent of tools making it easier for people who focus on a particular issue to find each other and talk about it is a complete game-changer. As a psephology junkie, it’ll be really interesting to see whether there is any evidence that first-time voter turn-out is up on past elections. If it is that will be a vindication of social media’s role, I believe. Either way, if we *are* on the brink of a new era in British politics, our new leaders will have to take all of this into account.

[Update 12.12] And as if to prove my point, The Sun front page parodies have started…

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Driving away from home

Great article by Philip Stephens in today’s FT on the euro. There’s been a lot of hysteria in the press, particularly the bits that don’t like the EU much, but this was a good balanced piece. I don’t think anyone wants the UK to join tomorrow (frankly, it doesn’t meet the criteria), but surely ruling out membership for ever on principle, even when it is right, is just as damaging as wanting the UK to join on principle, even when it isn’t right? Some of that famed British pragmatism would be useful round about now.

Finally, FINALLY, my car is in the garage getting the dented wing replaced and I have an immense Audi A6 as a replacement car (reminds me of the – probably apocryphal – story of the GPS system that told a woman in Belgium to “suivre l’A6″ so she followed the Audi that had been in front of her at the lights…).  It’s only taken over 3 months for them to get around to it…absolutely incredible.

I’ve had a great flurry of people from my past getting in touch with me on Facebook – what a great invention that is! Jennifer Sinclair, who was a good friend of mine at university, just signed me up as a friend, and it was great hearing about her new life in New York with her husband and kids. And then today Kim, who I met doing my Erasmus term in Leiden, and who I shared a flat with in London for about 6 months, got in touch. Weird that all this happens as I come back to london – the place I knew lots of these people. It’s as if Brussels was a bubble that I’ve now burst. How different would life have been if I hadn’t gone? But then, I wouldn’t have done all the amazing things I did and met all the brilliant people I met, personally and professionally.

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Filed under Media, Personal