Tag Archives: Content

Facebook’s Frictionless Sharing

It’s been a few weeks since f8, and I’ve been having a play with the new timeline functionality that Facebook is planning to  roll out, as well as getting used to the ‘frictionless sharing’ that Facebook has already rolled out with selected partners. There’s not much point in us writing about timeline – yes I’m running it, yes it’s aesthetically a great interface, yes it’s easy to use, yes there will be an inevitable ‘the sky is falling on our heads’ reaction when it finally launches – for about a week until everyone gets used to it, and yes, lots of people have already written about how great it is.

Instead, I’m interested in the ‘frictionless sharing’ that Facebook have been trumpeting and that is a result of the changes they’ve made to Open Graph.

Lots of commentators have already talked about the possibilities that Open Graph apps open up, and the effect they’re going to have on brands – how pages will become less important, how a brand’s updates will show up in feeds much less often and how therefore in order to connect with their audiences, brands need to start developing their own Open Graph apps. You can read about this elsewhere. The important thing to note about frictionless sharing is that if it heralds a new way of sharing content across the web, it means that the sharing of what we are reading, listening to or watching will increasingly become automatic – it will no longer require a manual action such as liking, tagging, or tweeting.

This is what I’m more interested in right now: the act – or rather non-act – of frictionless sharing.  Neil Perkin wrote an interesting column on frictionless sharing on NMA recently. He makes this point, which I shall quote in full:

“The fact that a piece of content is deliberately selected, judged, commented on and passed on by one of my friends or someone I follow attributes a certain significance and context to it. It’s a significance that I cherish. Social curation has come to sit alongside algorithmic and professional curation as a valuable way to distinguish signal from noise.”

I’m in full agreement with this – aside from the obvious ‘filter bubble’ issues around both social and algorithmic curation, I do get most of my daily intelligence (if you’ll forgive the pretension of the term) via social curation and this will immediately be devalued by frictionless sharing.

Why? Well, if I’m now not only being passed a ‘piece of content deliberately selected, judged, commented on’ by one of my friends, but also the stuff that one of my friends has read, listened to or watched, but thought was a bit rubbish and not worth passing on,then social curation is useless. After all, you wouldn’t necessarily buy a book just because you saw a mate reading it on the bus. You’d want to know whether it was any good first.

Facebook Graffiti

Photo (cc) Katie Sayer.

This post originally appeared on my company blog, here.


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Curious curation

I read a great blog post the other day by Neil Perkin over at Only Dead Fish on content curation.

We all know that the internet has shaped a new paradigm of content creation: no longer do we rely on traditional sources – books, newspapers, magazines – to provide our content. So far so obvious.

And Neil doesn’t talk about content generation. Rather, he talks about the way the internet is creating new paradigms of content curation. The content that is shared through social networks like twitter, or socially enabled tools like spotify mean that we no longer look exclusively to traditional ‘editors’ for curation.

Instead, we create a consistently relevant stream of interesting and personalised content for ourselves. We elect to follow people on Twitter who we trust to only share information that we will find relevant. We receive spotify links from like-minded friends who share a similar taste in music. We self-select RSS feeds. Neil calls this a mash-up of social and personal curation, both of which I like as terms.

Neil works in the advertising and media community, as do I, and he notes that Twitter and RSS are the ideal tools to ‘curate’ information in and about our industry. He’s right. And, as a strategist, I can honestly say that I have been able to quickly build a stream of content around almost any subject, industry, passtime or interest I have needed to. It took very little time, when I started working with a public sector managed facilities supplier, to plug myself into a community of public sector thinkers. Working with anAutomotive client led me to start absorbing information from dealers and car buyers and classified websites. The charity sector opened up very quickly for me when we were briefed to produce a social media campaign for Bliss. And I did it far more quickly than I might have by signing up subscriptions to industry publications or visiting a library.

Neil notes that these streams don’t necessarily replace traditional media curation (ie by a knowledgable, trained, recognised editor), rather that the best models use both sources. He sites the Guardian’s recent launch of the Guardian Science Blogs network as an example of traditional media (and by extension ‘curation’) workng with non-traditional (in this case the blogosphere). Incidentally this would have been a great plan for theUnion of Concerned Scientists, had they given it some thought and not gone for the knee-jerk ‘let’s spank a load of cash on uneccessary advertising’ option. Neil goes on to talk about the way the Guardian opened up its entire ‘process of producing, hosting, and curating great content’ to the public, rather than simply facilitating user generated content. He talks about it a whole lot better than I could, so read his post. I agree with him.

Guardian Science logo

The one thing I picked up on from Neils post that I found slightly risable was in the initial paragraph,where he quotes Christopher Bailey, CCO of Burberry, who said: “We are now as much a media-content company as we are a design company, because it’s all part of the overall experience.”

Now, I get brands creating content (although I think they should only create content where they have a real authority to talk on a subject, Burberry for instance shouldn’t start telling me how to maintain my car in winter), but being ‘as much’ a content generation company as a design company seems daft. Burberry can generate content about (clothes) design because they design clothes. If they stopped designing clothes and carried on talking about designing clothes, I’m not sure anyone would listen. So let’s not get carried away here: by all means, brands, hold forth on subjects where you have a passion and an authority and can give people genuine insight and advice. But don’t start thinking you are an independent editorial voice. That’s just forgetting what you are and what you exist to do.

This post originally appeared on my company blog, here.

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Bing it.

Interesting to see that Microsoft have turned on the advertising budget to promote their search engine Bing in its seemingly futile attempt to take on Google.

It’s David vs David, a clash of the titans. But Microsoft is so far off the pace it’s hard to watch as it scrambles to play catch-up.

The guys at Microsoft must have thought: OK, Google has first mover advantage (or something approximating that: they weren’t first, but they were first with a decent product), how do we break into the market?

And the answer? Well apart from the obvious (coming up with a whacky/meaningless name to mimic Google, copying or approximating Google’s algorithm and even appearence), they’ve gone for the tried and tested: we’ll pump loads of money into advertising the product. Yeah, that’ll work.

Trouble is, that’s not really the way things DO work any more. Standing on an overturned milk-crate in the street shouting your message into people’s faces as they pass by is more likely to irritate than engage. And a message like ‘our results are clearer and more concise than other search engines’ really isn’t going to do it – people will judge that for themselves, and most commentators still find Bing slightly lacking compared to Google.

So what SHOULD Microsoft do? Well, for a start, it could find something a bit more emotive than ‘clear and concise’. That claim is debatable, and not exciting or engaging, or even interesting. Maybe it could try actively setting itself up as the anti-Google. It would need to be VERY upfront, admitting all past sins: “yeah, we’re no tiny independent, and we know we’ve hardly been a big champion for customer choice, but that’s in the past. The world has changed and so have we. Customers deserve choice.”  Try to make it COOL to ‘Bing it’, a form of rebellion. There is of course a huge danger of getting the tone completely wrong and being crucified for hypocrisy/evil corporate behaviour/monopolistic empire building, but if Microsoft get it right, don’t take it too seriously, and try to have fun, then they could win. It’s a very risky strategy, but then ‘clarity’ carries no risk, but very little chance of success either.

Then there’s the medium: it’s all very well making ‘3 TV ads and an integrated social media campaign’, but why not cut out the TV ads and associated huge media spend and really ramp up the social media. Develop user generated content. Take the campaign to the streets using guerilla marketing. Give people a reason to talk about the brand, rather than telling them what to think, and maybe they’ll actually start to engage.

Or just carry on spending millions on mass advertising and hoping for a decent response rate. Yeah, let’s stick with that. It’s safe.

This blog was originally published on my company website here.

Bing Homepage

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