Bandwidth » Boyd Neil http://blogs.hillandknowlton.com/bandwidth Insights from H&K Canada's social media strategy team Fri, 07 Jan 2011 21:05:56 +0000 http://wordpress.org/?v=2.9.2 en hourly 1 Info-Images + One Cartoon 2010 http://blogs.hillandknowlton.com/bandwidth/2010/12/29/info-images-one-cartoon-2010/ http://blogs.hillandknowlton.com/bandwidth/2010/12/29/info-images-one-cartoon-2010/#comments Wed, 29 Dec 2010 22:27:31 +0000 Boyd Neil 417677:4590288:9859144 The images and infographics below struck a cord with me for a variety of reasons throughout the year. And be patient with the scrolling. There are six images in all . .  . and the best one is the last.

Where dweeb, nerd and geek meet. (I sure hope I fit the geek category and not the others.)

The death this year (one hopes) of the self-described social media guru. (And not a moment too soon.)

Facebook rules

Paul Butler, an engineering intern at Facebook, made this image from a sample of 10 million Facebook friendship pairs. The map was created organically from the pairs, and the lines represent human relationships.

Okay, maybe mobile browsers rule (Although personally I find my mobile brower frustrating to use, slow and with insufficient screen clarity. But I guess that’s just me.)

Facebook Places versus Foursquare (Some research on what people think about whether Facebook Places will overtake Foursquare, and some who don’t care. And apologies to the creator of this graph and academics who have to identify sources in their papers — I can’t find the source for this anymore. If someone would like to point me to the owner, I would be more than happy to give approprate attribution.)

The social demographics of Facebook and Twitter. (Too bad the creators couldn’t measure login by the hour: I wonder what the stats would look like then.)

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Blogging is Dead: Long Live Blogging http://blogs.hillandknowlton.com/bandwidth/2010/12/23/blogging-is-dead-long-live-blogging/ http://blogs.hillandknowlton.com/bandwidth/2010/12/23/blogging-is-dead-long-live-blogging/#comments Thu, 23 Dec 2010 19:35:42 +0000 Boyd Neil 417677:4590288:9812503 I was going to post my own comments on the false notion that blogging is dead based on this piece from a week or so ago at Mashable, as have dozens of others.

But Kimberly Turner writing at The Regator Blog (that’s not her in the pic) has taken up the cause with more effect than I could. Here is the Coles Notes version of her well-argued comeback(my emphasis):

“The Mashable article’s (current) headline states: “Everyone Uses E-mail, But Blogging Is On the Decline.” According the study Schroeder based the post on, this is false. As the handy-dandy chart below (from the same Pew study) shows, blogging is on the decline in Millennials (18-33) and G.I. Generation (74+) but on the increase in all other age groups with an overall increase from 11 percent of internet users in December 2008 to 14 percent in May 2010.”

“The Mashable post turns its nose up at blogging but makes no mention of stats from the same report indicating that even after blogging’s decline with teens, there are still more teen bloggers than tweeters.

“The blogosphere has become the realm for things that cannot be expressed in 140 characters, a place where significant conversations, debates, and information exchange can occur. This shift means the blogging is maturing and evolving—not dying.”

“The evolution of blogs has made the very definition of a blog ambiguous. Millions access blogs such as Mashable, The Huffington Post, TMZ, Gawker, and Boing Boing every month. Because the line between blogs and other websites has blurred with blogs’ maturation, visitors may or may not consider themselves to be blog readers…even when they are.”

I guess I’ll keep at it.

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Blocking Social Networks at Work – A Dying Practice? http://blogs.hillandknowlton.com/bandwidth/2010/11/16/blocking-social-networks-at-work-a-dying-practice/ http://blogs.hillandknowlton.com/bandwidth/2010/11/16/blocking-social-networks-at-work-a-dying-practice/#comments Tue, 16 Nov 2010 15:49:09 +0000 Boyd Neil 417677:4590288:9472308  

(Once again I’ve enriched a post with a Rob Cottingham cartoon since no one captures the social web zeitgeist better. I don’t think he’ll mind.)

I hope the title of this post is true. But based on my experience with some organizations over the past six months there are fewer offering this “benefit” than I thought would be the case given where we are in the social web’s six or seven year history.

The resistance is still coming from senior management teams and human resource departments (a) concerned about the impact on productivity (b) afraid that organizational intellectual property will be compromised.

Others can desconstruct the problems with these quarrels. Instead, let me suggest five arguments in favour of making Rob’s cartoon redundant:

  1. The signal sent by blocking Facebook, other social networks and micro-blogging platforms like Twitter is that you think your employees are children . . . if not idiots. That feeling is likely to be a greater draw down on productivity than a few minutes checking a social network feed.
  2. With smart phones and mobile apps employees can simply duck their hands below their desks and check Facebook and Twitter anyway.
  3. As Rob says in a post accompanying the cartoon above blocking these platforms may mean missing an opportunity for “companies and organizations (to create platforms – my addition) for productive, collaborative work.”
  4. The social web isn’t going away. Many businesses are trying to find a way to make it relevant for them. By shutting off desktop access to the social web you are slamming the door on creative business scenarios or better customer service strategies.
  5. You will delay learning what kind of specialized content might make users of the social web pay attention to your products and services, because your employees won’t help you find out.

Senior managers can be stubborn, especially when backed by IT departments mumbling about non-business driven server overload. So don’t bet these ideas will tip the scales among the hold outs . . . though it’s worth a try.

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Twitter Helping Politicians Use Itself http://blogs.hillandknowlton.com/bandwidth/2010/11/07/twitter-helping-politicians-use-itself/ http://blogs.hillandknowlton.com/bandwidth/2010/11/07/twitter-helping-politicians-use-itself/#comments Sun, 07 Nov 2010 15:50:16 +0000 Boyd Neil 417677:4590288:9399299

According to ClickZ (via KStreet Café) Twitter has hired Adam Sharp to provide advice to DC politicians and bureaucrats on how to use the micro-blogging platform for the pubic good. Why?

“A Twitter spokesperson told ClickZ in June: ‘We are seeing strong growth of government, policy, and political usage of Twitter, and we want to help officials get the most out of our service to better communicate with constituents.’ “

(Given Facebook’s capacity and usage as a hub for political campaigns, maybe it should be thinking of doing something similar, if it hasn’t already.)

Not a bad idea at all . . . social web platforms providing strategies to specific target user groups for getting the most out of them. It should make government relations consultants a bit nervous that platforms are  stepping into their advisory role.

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A Random Social Web Walk . . . With Voting http://blogs.hillandknowlton.com/bandwidth/2010/10/07/a-random-social-web-walk-with-voting/ http://blogs.hillandknowlton.com/bandwidth/2010/10/07/a-random-social-web-walk-with-voting/#comments Thu, 07 Oct 2010 17:52:35 +0000 Boyd Neil 417677:4590288:9086283 Some random social web information and ideas:

From Mashable, a tongue-firmly-in-cheek campaign from the marketing firm Proximity will see the person who checks in most frequently on Foursquare at the City of Chicago Mayoral HQ become the new ‘mayor’ of the city. The current front runner is Rob Mowry who looks strangely like Rob Ford a real candidate for mayor in Toronto. Just showing up, rather than making change, seems to work for mayors in Toronto so why not a Foursquare mayor?

My Vote . . .

The title of this article by Robyn Urback in Canada’s National Post newspaper says it all: ” Facebook’s ‘I like it’ campaign pointlessly sexualizing tragedy”. The idea is that for breast cancer awareness month, women are supposed to say where they like to leave their purse. (I know: I don’t understand the connection either.) The result is such comments as ‘I like it on the floor’. Get it? Unfortunately, the article doesn’t tell you who thought up this offensive campaign.

My Vote . . .

According to a study sponsored by StephensGouldPincus in the US, “the total percentage of work devoted by communications consulting firms to social media as opposed to traditional media is 30% overall. Next year, the percentage will increase to an average of 42%, with firms over $3 million in revenue increasing to 46%.”

My Vote . . .

In post about a Gallup poll which shows that distrust in the media continues to edge up, Valeria Maltoni says something that people like me who blog about current affairs should remember:

Especially if you are creating content, you should do your homework, look to diverse sources. A greater share of voice comes with greater accountability.

My Vote . . .

It’s a good day. I liked three out of the four things I read.

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Gladwell on the Sidelines http://blogs.hillandknowlton.com/bandwidth/2010/09/28/gladwell-on-the-sidelines/ http://blogs.hillandknowlton.com/bandwidth/2010/09/28/gladwell-on-the-sidelines/#comments Tue, 28 Sep 2010 10:57:36 +0000 Boyd Neil 417677:4590288:9023240 Malcolm Gladwell tends to write about what exists and why, not what is coming into existence and what it means or how to advance it.

In an article in the October 4th issue of The New Yorker called Small Change: Why the revolution will not be tweeted, he does it again with social media activism:

. . . it is a form of organizing which favors weak-tie connections that give us access to information over the strong-tie connections that help us persevere in the face of danger. It shifts our energies from organizations that promote strategic and disciplined activity and toward those which promote resilience and adaptability. It makes it easier for activists to express themselves, and harder for that expression to have an impact.

He is talking, of course, about ’slacktivism’ which is the pundit’s dismissive term for the way many people leave their militancy on the walls of Facebook pages:

Facebook activism succeeds not by motivating people to make real sacrifice but by motivating them to do the things that people do when they are not motivated enough to make real sacrifice.

Contrasted to this is “high-risk activism” which is at the core of disruptive social change like that which started the civil rights movement in the US in the late 50s and early 60s . . . “Activism that challenges the status quo – that attacks deeply rooted problems – is not for the faint of heart.” It requires, as Vladimir Ilyich Lenin (rendered in the picture above) and Gladwell agree, strategy, discipline and hierarchy. (That’s why the Bolsheviks led a revolution and anarchists could not.)

No argument there. But to say this is not Facebook, Twitter and other social networks is short-sighted and something of a straw-man line of reasoning. Yes Facebook and Twitter are weak-tie networks and will never in themselves be platforms for sweeping systemic change. But they do a couple of things well: they create ties where there were none before; and they are a source of ideas. People making connections and debating ideas are fertile ground for social activism, just like the late night chats of the freshmen in Greensboro who courageously challenged racism at the Woolworth’s lunch counter in 1960, Gladwell’s apocryphal story (not in the facts, which are true, but in the significance Gladwell affords it) starting point for his article.

I wish Gladwell had spent his awesome intellectual gifts thinking about what use of the social web could move weak-tie connections to the strong-tie relationships that are midwives to strategic and disciplined social activism. He should take a close look at successful online political and community organizing (such as the Obama election campaign about which he says nothing) and see how it converts loose networks into a campaign force. Or he should imagine a Facebook campaign which, at its inception, builds in mechanisms for organizing action, for gathering and unleashing committed high-risk activists.

Instead, Gladwell plays to the myopic crowd who find it easier to talk about limits than about opportunties.

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Howard Rheingold’s Social Media Literacies http://blogs.hillandknowlton.com/bandwidth/2010/09/25/howard-rheingolds-social-media-literacies/ http://blogs.hillandknowlton.com/bandwidth/2010/09/25/howard-rheingolds-social-media-literacies/#comments Sat, 25 Sep 2010 17:54:08 +0000 Boyd Neil 417677:4590288:8983194

Howard Rheingold, author of Smart Mobs among other writings on technology and culture, spoke (inspirationally) last Thursday at Toronto’s Ryerson University about the use of social media in education. That’s him below . . .

One of his themes is the need for educational institutions, instructional designers and teachers to recognize the new ‘literacies’ required of graduates, and the implications of them on how and what is taught.

The ‘literacies’ in Rheingold’s lexicon are attention, participation, collaboration and critical consumption, all of which make sense given the ubiquity of information, ease of search and value of networks in invention and ideation. Critical consumption – or crap detection – is especially important in a culture in which even barely educated Hollywood celebrities and 16-year-old pop singers have political and social opinions they think worthy of tweeting. And I would also add visual mindfulness to the list given the increasingly dominant place of images in online narratives.

I did wonder, though, about how much Rheingold values what he called ‘alphabetic’ literacy and the role it plays in his collaborative model of learning. As the final assignment in his course at Stanford, Rheingold asks his students, reluctantly I sense, to create (not ‘write’) an essay drawing together the words or concepts defined throughout the course. But the chronicle seems secondary to the process of connecting and interacting to develop the understanding, which now that I think of it is true . . . to a point.

My experience teaching at two urban Canadian universities and as a communications consultant in a large firm, makes me sensitive to any devaluation of the act of writing and what it requires in logical structuring and presentation of ideas. I see a lot of sloppy writing, from essays to news releases. And by sloppy I don’t mean the creative manipulation of language to make a point or give birth to a feeling, which can be artful.

Writing in Wired a few months ago, Clive Thomson reported that:

In interviews, they (students) defined good prose as something that had an effect on the world. For them, writing is about persuading and organizing and debating, even if it’s over something as quotidian as what movie to go see.
Nothing wrong with that. But persuading, organizing and debating, especially persuading and debating, without the rigor of expression is ineffective and usually boring. Not that I think Rheingold undervalues rhetoric. He is too much the master of language and reasoned argument himself. But I do think he and others should be careful not to turn a blind eye to how untutored many people are these days, and the fault is only ours when we don’t ask for high standards in expression even if people are attentive, participatory, and collaborative and exhibit effective bullshit detection.
Critic and scholar Jacques Barzun justifies why in the preface to his 1986 book A Word or Two Before You Go:

The fact is that great ideas and deep feelings cannot be fully known or enjoyed, rightly valued or reported, unless they are closely scanned in the only way open to us – matching the experience with the right words.

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Augmented Reality News Release http://blogs.hillandknowlton.com/bandwidth/2010/06/04/augmented-reality-news-release/ http://blogs.hillandknowlton.com/bandwidth/2010/06/04/augmented-reality-news-release/#comments Fri, 04 Jun 2010 14:11:22 +0000 Boyd Neil 417677:4590288:7857989 Forgive the fact that this is about an initiative of my employer, but it is too cool to ignore.

Yesterday, we launched what we are claiming to be the world’s first augmented reality news release to highlight our promotional activities around the Cannes Lions advertising festival.

As described by our CMO, Tony Burgess-Webb, “The concept is simple: recipients receive a document with a special marker printed on it, go to our website and hold up the document to their webcam. Our promotional video (featuring our esteemed CEO without trousers) then appears to play directly on the piece of paper.”

If you have a printer and a webcam, you can try it out here. Or if you just want to see it in action see the video at http://vimeo.com/12260607.

Is there a future in augmented reality news releases? If fun is a criteria for news release success, then I think so.

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Does ‘Brand’ Mean Anything? http://blogs.hillandknowlton.com/bandwidth/2010/06/03/does-brand-mean-anything/ http://blogs.hillandknowlton.com/bandwidth/2010/06/03/does-brand-mean-anything/#comments Thu, 03 Jun 2010 19:40:05 +0000 Boyd Neil 417677:4590288:7748417 I have had a post in mind  for a while now talking about what ‘brand’ and ‘reputation’ mean today.

This isn’t that post. I’ll get around to it at some point over the summer.

But over the past two weeks, I’ve come across two posts (with a hat tip to a colleague for pointing me to Leroy’s) which make strong and similar statements about brands that are certainly worth throwing into the idea mix:

Leroy Stick (not his real name), the person behind the satiric Twitter account @BPGlobalPR, says performance – not brand – is everything:

So what is the point of all this?  The point is, FORGET YOUR BRAND.  You don’t own it because it is literally nothing.  You can spend all sorts of time and money trying to manufacture public opinion, but ultimately, that’s up to the public, now isn’t it?

You know the best way to get the public to respect your brand?  Have a respectable brand.  Offer a great, innovative product and make responsible, ethical business decisions.  Lead the pack!  Evolve!  Don’t send hundreds of temp workers to the gulf to put on a show for the President.  Hire those workers to actually work!  Don’t dump toxic dispersant into the ocean just so the surface looks better.  Collect the oil and get it out of the water!  Don’t tell your employees that they can’t wear respirators while they work because it makes for a bad picture.  Take a picture of those employees working safely to fix the problem.  Lastly, don’t keep the press and the people trying to help you away from the disaster, open it up so people can see it and help fix it.  This isn’t just your disaster, this is a human tragedy.  Allow us to mourn so that we can stop being angry.

And here is what the inimitable Doc Searls posted not too long ago on his blog about reputation and branding:

That’s because brands are nothing but statements. At best they are a well-known and trusted badge, name or both. At worst they’re a paint job, a claim, a rationalization or an aspiration. Branding can help a reputation, but it can’t make one. Real work does that. Accomplishment over time does that.

Bit of a wake up call to communications professionals isn’t it?

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ICCO Says Social Web Consulting Growing http://blogs.hillandknowlton.com/bandwidth/2010/05/19/icco-says-social-web-consulting-growing/ http://blogs.hillandknowlton.com/bandwidth/2010/05/19/icco-says-social-web-consulting-growing/#comments Wed, 19 May 2010 21:14:17 +0000 Boyd Neil 417677:4590288:7729200  

Nothing in the ICCO's World Report 2010 is surprising including that "As interest in the exploitation of digital channels grows, public relations consultancies are increasingly positioning themselves as experts in the field, especially when it comes to managing an organisation's reputation online." (The ICCO is the umbrella organization for communications agency trade associations in 28 countries)

But here's a tip: If you are thinking of expanding your agency business internationally, forget Sweden where most consultants find that "companies perfer to mee their digital needs entirely in-house or via specialist sub-contractors". Instead head for Norway where "communication via new technologies is the domain of external providers, and 100% of consultancies offer these services". Demand and supply are growing.

The opportunities are in Portugal, Slovakia, Slovenia, Czech Republic, India, and Turkey where communications consultancies are apparently slower to add social web expertise to their range of services.

Since we have so many social web experts in North America, maybe some should think of setting up shop in these under-served countries.

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Nothing in the ICCO’s World Report 2010 is surprising including that “As interest in the exploitation of digital channels grows, public relations consultancies are increasingly positioning themselves as experts in the field, especially when it comes to managing an organisation’s reputation online.” (The ICCO is the umbrella organization for communications agency trade associations in 28 countries)

But here’s a tip: If you are thinking of expanding your agency business internationally, forget Sweden where most consultants find that “companies perfer to mee their digital needs entirely in-house or via specialist sub-contractors”. Instead head for Norway where “communication via new technologies is the domain of external providers, and 100% of consultancies offer these services”. Demand and supply are growing.

The opportunities are in Portugal, Slovakia, Slovenia, Czech Republic, India, and Turkey where communications consultancies are apparently slower to add social web expertise to their range of services.

Since we have so many social web experts in North America, maybe some should think of setting up shop in these under-served countries.

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