Whilst I’ve been away – obviously I’ve not actually been away; I just haven’t had time to do this – SO MUCH HAS HAPPENED (again). Nonetheless, plus ça change, plus c’est la même chose; Homs is still a mess, NHS reforms are still a mess, our media continues pulling soiled underwear from its own trousers in some sort of hideous parody of Paul Daniels, another social media week passed, as full of insight as ever, another round of identikit portable distraction devices were announced in Barcelona, another famous is allowed to get away with behaviour many other people would find abhorrent (and then subsequently deletes the evidence), Keith Harris and Orville are still lighting up our lives, and Russian politics continues to lead the way when it comes to showing us how it SHOULD be done…maybe we’re moving into the future so fast that everything looks like it’s standing still. Maybe. I don’t really get physics, truth be told.
Of course, the internet has found near-endless ways to distract itself, whether through RAGE, frankly creepy limb-fetishising, laughing at the disappointment of others, and the creation of HILARIOUS PARODY TWITTER ACCOUNTS!!! Can we all please agree that we have reached the very apogee of satirical humour and that therefore all further ‘comedy’ twitter accounts should be foregone? Yes? Good.
Oh, and there was some stuff announced about Facebook and stuff. I suppose I ought to mention that too. Best crack on, then (you can sense my enthusiasm for the Facebook bits, can’t you?).
So, that Facebook Stuff. Wednesday saw the inaugural Facebook Marketing Conference held in NYC’s Natural History Museum (which is an awesome place, fyi). One thing that the internet really doesn’t need is someone outlining all the changes AGAIN somewhere else. So I won’t. You can find all you need here (list of all changes), here (Q&A from FB), here (the now-obligatory slightly creepy accompanying video) and here (stuff about the somewhat underreported ‘offers’ announcement. As a SPECIAL BONUS, here are a few thoughts (whether you want them or not – feel free to skip:
- Timeline Pages: Good for some, bad for others. If you have loads of visual assets, great. If you have a product/service that you can make work with your timeline through Open Graph, better. If don’t have either of those, then it’s not great news. There are doubtless HUGE opportunities for certain people to do very cool, very clever things with this – let me be the nth person to point out quite how awesome the New York Times’ page is (seriously, have a play, it’s glorious) – but for others it will mean a slightly bare, unattractive looking page (particularly with the removal of landing tabs – though pinned posts can fulfil a similar function, so quit your whining). Look, though, let’s not overstate this – most people on Facebook stick to their feed. Hence…
- ADVERTISING EVERYWHERE!!!!!: Oh yes, my children you cannot ignore paid-for messaging. No, really, you literally can’t. In your feed, on your mobile, even when you log out…This shouldn’t be surprising – what I did find entertaining whilst watching the aforementioned marketing conference (I did it so you didn’t have to), though, was the almost childlike insistence on referring to this as ‘narrative’ and ’stories’. What’s in a name? To quote someone more incisive than me, “convincing the world a sales pitch is actually a conversation and an advertisement is a narrative? Philip K. Dick couldn’t have written it better“.
- AGENCY BUNFIGHT AHOY! Hey you! Yes, you! You in your swanky Soho/Shoreditch/Hammersmith offices! Bored of having to fight with a whole bunch of other generic agency folk over whose job it is to persuade people to comment on your ‘funny’ picture of chocolate bars? Tough, it’s only going to get worse. All of us footsoldiers in the GREAT LEGION OF SALES are going to find ourselves squabbling even harder over who writes the ‘most engaging’ content (“What’s your favourite colour grape – red or white LOL!!!!”) and thus gets to do the advertising. Suck it up.
- Worth noting: So, the guaranteed reach stuff was brought in because Facebook posts reach on average 16% of your fans. Note that that doesn’t mean that 16% of your fans see that post – it’s that they could potentially see it. Guaranteed reach boosts that to 50% per week/75% per month. Hm. If you work in PR you will know exactly how much value should be ascribed to ‘opportunities to see’. Just saying.
Some Other Workish Stuff:
- Obligatory Pinterest Thing: It’s the BIGGEST THING EVER!!!! Oh no it’s not, not in the UK at least!!!! Oh, who knows. Look, some people like it. I can see lots of reasons why it would be useful, some of them even from a brand/marketing point of view. It’s great for making fun of people, for example. But maybe take a breath before jumping on the bandwagon just for the sake of it, eh? Oh, and is this REALLY necessary?
- Google Privacy – How To (sort-of) circumvent it: I’m not going to lie, this issue is VERY COMPLICATED. That said, it’s not that surprising and I’m slightly confused as to why people are getting so het up about it. Targeted advertising, after all, is how these guys make money – SHOCK HORROR! Anyhow, the link back there will let you take steps to minimise how your search data’s used to flog you things on Gmail (very basically).
- [A Google-based aside - I went for a meeting this week in Google's swanky new(ish) central London offices - they have flatscreen TVs EMBEDDED IN THE FLOOR, and whole supermarkets' worth of fresh fruit and bread for breakfast (including miniature kiwi fruit, which frankly I didn't even know existed until Wednesday morning - they are lovely, by the way). If nothing screams WE ARE THE FUTURE like that, then I have no idea what does (I am possibly a little overexcited)]
- Work With Words In Any Way? READ THIS
- This look at social media and the Oscars is interesting in terms of showing how you can make better use of televised events through clever use of social platforms. The red carpet stuff is simple but works.
- Speaking of TV and Social and stuff…: This piece on the online campaign for The Hunger Games (have you read these yet? If not, GO AND DO SO NOW. No, really, they are amazing) is a good overview of a masterclass in marketing and (sort-of) ‘transmedia’ (I know, I know) storytelling. Great content, lots of platforms, and it all fits together. Obviously cost MILLIONS, but, you know, still.
- A Few Decent Bits Of Brand Work:
- This one, for Telefonica in Colombia
- This one, for Andes beer in (I think) Peru
- This one, for Nike in Germany, Austria & Switzerland
- This one, for IKEA everywhere (simple and obvious, but no less good for that)
- QR Codes: Next time someone in a meeting starts wanging on about QR codes (or indeed AR, for that matter) see how many of these examples spring to mind.
- What PR is getting wrong: Old but unstupid piece from Forbes. Worth a look.
Other Things I Have Recently Seen And Enjoyed That I Hope You Might Also Enjoy, Though Who Can Really Tell At The End Of The Day?:
- Typography Nerd Motherlode: Look, I know that there are some of you who are into this stuff. Don’t be ashamed.
- Love Letter – The Game: This will take 5 minutes of your time and will leave you feeling awesome, I promise.
- 10 Bullets – The Game: This may well take up the rest of your natural life. You have been warned.
- Broke Up With Someone? Confused As To Why?: Why not ask them, on this frankly baffling website which appears to be designed solely to make people feel really, really insecure. Were I more cynical I’d say it’s the work of a beauty brand.
- Photographs of South Bronx addicts: Sad but beautiful pictures.
- The Best ‘Choose Your Own Adventure’ Youtube: …that I’ve seen in ages. Bonus points for actually being funny.
- Google To Launch Debate Series: They can certainly pull in heavyweight guests; could be an interesting set of talks.
- Every Single World Press Photo Winner Since ‘55: There are some beautiful images in here, but also some sad/graphic ones (just so you know). This could be quite easily subtitled ‘56 years of really awful stuff happening’, in fact.
- A Map Made of Locations From Song Lyrics: Simply gorgeous. Hey, H+K boss people! Can we get this for the bar, please? What’s that? You never read this far down? Oh.
Some Long-form Stuff That Probably Won’t Get Read But Just In Case:
- What it feels like to lose a spouse: As you might expect, this is very very sad indeed. It’s also an excellent piece of writing, though.
- I Love Photography: Actually this is mainly pictures – reading-phobes, you might like it too! Wonderful collection of images and commentary on why the author likes them, and by extension the medium.
- China Mieville on London: China Mieville is an amazing writer. Sadly he gets pigeonholed into scifi, which means that lots of people don’t read him. Ignore the labelling and try ‘The City and The City’; you’ll like it, I promise. The essay linked to above is a piece for the New York Times on London – you may not agree with the (left-wing) politics, but the writing is stellar. BONUS MIEVILLE: this piece right here is all about the recent row in Belgium over the SPECTACULARLY RACIST ‘Tintin in the Congo’, and is worth reading as a) he again writes brilliantly and b) it’s a very good example of how to structure an argument.
- On Memes: The Financial Times, of all papers, does a piece on meme culture, and very good it is too.
- The Cult Of TED: Interesting piece from New York Magazine on the growth of the TED empire, and what that says about the manner in which we value information and ideas as commodities – and whether that’s a good thing.
- What It’s Like Working In A Shipping Warehouse: This is VERY long, but if you have any interest in labour politics (or indeed if you’ve ever read Barbara Ehrenreich’s Nickle & Dimed – or Polly Toynbee’s UK equivalent) then it’s worth a look.
- Teller Reveals His Secrets: Finally, Teller (of Penn & Teller fame) talks about the art of misdirection and the secrets to successful magic. Take a look, it’s better than it sounds.
VIDEOS! Christ this has been a long one – sorry about that. Hope these make up for it. The one song that I wanted to include, but haven’t as it doesn’t include a video, is this one. It makes GOTYE’s insufferably ubiquitous N.1 halfway palatable, and features Mikill Pane who is awesome. Anyway, ONWARDS!
1) I know, I know, I go on about THE FUTURE an awful lot. But just you watch this video and then see if you don’t get properly excited / freaked out about the fact that we will soon effectively be living in Blade Runner (ok, so minor hyperbole there, but still). FLYING ROBOTS PLAY JAMES BOND THEME!!!:
2) Who are Mr Heavenly? They’re a pseudo-supergroup, apparently, and everyone’s favourite uni-performing non-actor (and George Watsky impersonator) Michael Cera once performed with them. In any case, this video for their (very good) single Bronx Sniper which is…erm…odd:
3) Phew! After that, take 5 minutes from your day and watch this STUNNING Wild West-themed animation called Little Tombstone. These people will go far:
4) And while we’re in the vein of animation, this is BEAUTIFUL. Probably my favourite thing on here this week, take 7 minutes and watch Friendsheep. YOU WILL FALL IN LOVE:
5) This song is called Divorce; the band is called Horseheads; if you can manage to watch this for the full duration you deserve some sort of a prize (it doesn’t count with the sound off):
6) This, on the other hand, is just gorgeous. The music’s odd-but-compelling (mainly the slightly seasick-making off-kilter percussion), but the video is all kinds of wonderful. Deserves to be seen fullscreen – this is Niki & The Dove with The Fox:
7) Ifan Dafydd has been compared to James Blake a lot. I don’t really care for James Blake, but this is rather good. Particular the panda head:
We’ve done iamamiwhoami on here before (I can’t be bothered to dig out the link; you can just take my word for it). Since then, the performance art/music thingy (no idea how to really describe it) has gone from strength to strength in the Nordics, winning the sort of plaudits reserved for Gaga here in the more mainstream world. Take a look – the video and the sound is compelling:
9) Finally, I’ve been loving this song for weeks and I think you should too. MMOTHS – Heart (feat. Keep Shelly In Athens). Beautiful. Bye: