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Posts Tagged ‘social networking’

SOPA and the Wikipedia Blackout: Freedom vs. Protection

Wednesday, January 18th, 2012

Social media are all about the spread of information through networks of individuals. In other words, WOM: people talking.

But what happens when these conversations are curtailed, constricted and controlled?

There has been a fierce debate raging over the past few days – both online and offline – about the relative pros and cons of the proposed Stop Online Piracy Act (SOPA) in America, and it could have big implications for the future of the WOM industry – not to mention our everyday online lives.

The bill, originally presented to the United States House of Representatives in October 2011, is intended to pre-empt the problem of Internet piracy in the US by targeting sites that promote and enable the sharing of copyrighted material.

So far, so simple.

(Flickr: spaceninja)

But what SOPA and its sister bill PIPA (the Protect IP Act) have done is effectively turned a debate on piracy into a pitched battle between two cornerstones of Liberal ideology: free speech and free markets.

The disagreement pits Internet giants such as Google, Twitter, Facebook, YouTube and Wikipedia against businesses such as television networks, record labels, book publishers and the film industry. The latter want to be able to protect their copyrighted material from illegal distribution over the Internet, while the former wish to enshrine the right of their users to upload and consume content according to their will (within certain legal parameters, of course).

Wikipedia has today shut down its English language services as part of a 24-hour protest to the bills, which it says could “fatally damage the free and open Internet”. Many other websites have followed suit.

So why does this matter to us?

Although the vast majority of law-abiding citizens agree that Internet piracy is A Bad Thing, many equally believe that it is not the place of government – any government – to control and restrict what  they can access on the Internet.

On the other hand, companies, brands and individuals who produce copyrighted material do not want to see their goods trafficked and bandied about (either on the internet or in the so-called ‘real world’) by others who are not them.

Which puts us somewhere in the middle.

As a word of mouth company, we are committed to the spread of information and ideas around the world. Equally, we are committed to our clients and their very real need to keep their goods and services protected from those who wish to abuse them. The question here, then, is whether the proposals put forward by SOPA and PIPA will help protect both agendas. This is a question that does not as yet have a clear answer.

What is clear is that by limiting the number and type of interactions a web user can experience, the checks and controls proposed by these bills may inadvertently stifle the sort of innovation and creativity that is such an integral part of the online world.

But then again, SOPA and PIPA have got people talking – and this itself may help drive change where it is most needed.

Learning from social brands at Media Aces France

Monday, October 18th, 2010

I’ve been digesting the wealth of info from Media Aces, the Association for Corporations and European Social Media conference I attended in Paris earlier this month. The aim of this event is to gather professionals (every 3 months) from corporations and encourage them to share their social media uses and progresses. It’s been founded by two leading personalities in the digital marketing space in France: Yann Gourvennec and Hervé Kabla.

Credit photo @FrenchWeb: http://www.flickr.com/photos/frenchweb

Media Aces is an important conference for anyone wanting to have real/concrete case studies and not only the hyped ones, so I suggest you to join the Linkedin group for updates.

Loic Moisand (CEO at Synthesio) did the first presentation with a focus on the different types of brands. He selected four criteria to label them: conversation volumes, sentiment, social media presences and the [comments/post] ratio. He underlined the fact that health brands were the most talked about, as reflected by the research in Molly’s blog post last week (example: Doctissimo online forums in France).

The need for carefully strategic dialogue was also reinforced by Deborah Drai (communications manager at Kapa Santé), especially as the legal environment around this is very strict. All shared content should remain independent and as honest as possible, but also informative and clear for the audience.

Philippe Incagnoli (marketing director at Wall Street Institute) talked about their immersion into social media. They mainly use it to engage in conversations (with individuals on Facebook) and avoid “just” pushing information. They also use professional social networking site Viadeo to find HR directors and/or Training Managers, aiming to start conversations about how their service could be interesting and to follow-up. One essential rule is that they don’t go for too many tools but stay focused on their goals and priorities first.

The last (and very entertaining) talk (by Nicolas Sauvage from Reed Smith) was about the legal aspects regarding social media. It raised a couple of very important questions:

  • What if a salesperson creates a Facebook page for himself, without asking if it’s ok with the company? Interesting or to be forbidden?
  • What are the impacts of social media activities on the working hours and the contract of employment?
  • Should we exclude any uses of social media at the office?
  • How to avoid confusion between personal and professional uses?

The main take-out was that there still are many questions and few answers, so it’s essential to start experimenting and learning ourselves.

With this in mind, there’s a similar session being run by WOMMA UK in London this Thursday 21st October at 9am, when ReACTS, the leading advertising compliance team at Reed Smith, will be presenting How can companies navigate the social media minefield? – exploring the benefits and pitfalls of social media in the workplace. It’s free to attend but places are going fast so check out the WOMMA UK website for further details and how to register.

The more case studies and learnings we can all share, the more quickly we can all learn and grow…

‘Questioning what it means to be a museum’

Wednesday, July 8th, 2009

It’s been two weeks since Communicating the Museum brought institutions such as the Tate, Louvre, Prado, MET, Reykjavik Art Museum, V&A, Barbican and Finnish National Gallery to Malaga to discuss social networking in cultural organisations. Tertulia Andaluza has posted a great article in which I am interviewed along with Corinne Estrada from Agenda; Ignacio Herrera, director of the Real Maestranza in Ronda; Esther Martín from Malaga’s Art Natura; and Fabricio Chavarro from Industrias Creativas to get our take on the approach and impact of the conference, and the continuing role of social media and word of mouth in the arts.

Photos of the four-day event are now also up, so if you want to see more shots like this embarrassing little gem of me in full WOM Evanglist mode, check them out here.

'Questioning what it means to be a museum'

Wednesday, July 8th, 2009

It’s been two weeks since Communicating the Museum brought institutions such as the Tate, Louvre, Prado, MET, Reykjavik Art Museum, V&A, Barbican and Finnish National Gallery to Malaga to discuss social networking in cultural organisations. Tertulia Andaluza has posted a great article in which I am interviewed along with Corinne Estrada from Agenda; Ignacio Herrera, director of the Real Maestranza in Ronda; Esther Martín from Malaga’s Art Natura; and Fabricio Chavarro from Industrias Creativas to get our take on the approach and impact of the conference, and the continuing role of social media and word of mouth in the arts.

Photos of the four-day event are now also up, so if you want to see more shots like this embarrassing little gem of me in full WOM Evanglist mode, check them out here.

Strategise before you socialise

Thursday, May 28th, 2009

There is an increasing tension in the way companies are using social networking as an internal operations and business branding tool. Deloitte, who have announced that almost one-third of executives are in on the game, have also written at length on how business leaders are struggling to communicate with Generation Y. And as you can see from eMarketer’s new stats below, whilst brands are using social networking in a number of different ways, 74% of employees agree or strongly agree that using social media can damage a company’s reputation. No wonder, when 53% consider their online profiles none of their boss’s business, and one third give no thought to professional impact of what they post personally.

It seems incredible that so many companies are jumping into the space when 55% of executives admit that their companies do not have an official policy for social networks. Treating word of mouth as a short-term, reactive experiment is a recipe for disaster, and employees are often the ones who become the fallguys. It’s great to see brands embracing social media, but they really need to think about what they are trying to do by using these tools, and which are the most appropriate for them. I suspect that many of them just spewing out white noise and diluting their presence without adding value to either these venues or themselves – and at worst, they might be using and discarding consumers in the space, encroaching into communities they don’t know how to communicate with, failing to properly guide or protect their employees, and escalating the negative WOM around their brand.

So, a few suggestions for these eager but anxious executives. Question what your intended outcomes are. Ask whether you have anything relevant to say. Investigate where the genuinely powerful, selective synergy is between social media and your brand. Make a long-term plan, and think before you tweet.

Don’t underestimate our protean digital selves

Wednesday, April 29th, 2009

Last night I re-read Marc Prensky’s well-known 2001 treatise Digital Natives, Digital Immigrants. I’ve been noticing how many of our clients still believe that there is an unbroachable chasm between ‘real people’ – those brought up on eye contact and conversation around the dinner table – and ‘social media people’ – those whose every move and relationship is self-consciously filtered through online platforms.

Sure, there are people for whom social media seems a phony pixelated fantasy land; and there are kids weaned on the anonymity and disinhibition of the internet who are disoriented by the boundaries of real life. But I’d argue that the vast majority of fluent social media users feel no such divide. As a 26 year old who falls between the ‘real’ and the ‘digital’ – a second generation immigrant – I am as comfortable enjoying a face to face encounter at a party as I am geeking out about some new platform online. And friends ten years or so younger than me are no bunch of austistic digital obssesives; they may loose themselves in Facebook the way I used to loose myself in books, but they are also spohisticated socialisers offline (when they want to be).

There is still too much patronising scaremongering out there about social media that needs questioning. Word of mouth projects which combine offline networking and experiences with online communities are so effective because, for people who live in both worlds without any sense of existential crisis, the intermingling and transition between them is enriching and inspiring.

In one of those strange coincidences, on the train this morning I read this New Yorker article by the excellent music writer Sasha Frere-Jones, and his words absolutely hit the spot:

One way to understand social networking sites like Facebook and MySpace is to consider that younger digital natives are not necessarily being exhibitionists when they post photographs of themselves and share personal details there. Instead, these users are living a life in which consciousness is spread out evenly over two platforms: real life and the Web. Rather than feeling schizophrenic or somehow pathological, digital natives understand that these two realms divide the self as much as speech and the written word divide language, a division that human beings have lived with for a long time without going bonkers.

Don't underestimate our protean digital selves

Wednesday, April 29th, 2009

Last night I re-read Marc Prensky’s well-known 2001 treatise Digital Natives, Digital Immigrants. I’ve been noticing how many of our clients still believe that there is an unbroachable chasm between ‘real people’ – those brought up on eye contact and conversation around the dinner table – and ‘social media people’ – those whose every move and relationship is self-consciously filtered through online platforms.

Sure, there are people for whom social media seems a phony pixelated fantasy land; and there are kids weaned on the anonymity and disinhibition of the internet who are disoriented by the boundaries of real life. But I’d argue that the vast majority of fluent social media users feel no such divide. As a 26 year old who falls between the ‘real’ and the ‘digital’ – a second generation immigrant – I am as comfortable enjoying a face to face encounter at a party as I am geeking out about some new platform online. And friends ten years or so younger than me are no bunch of austistic digital obssesives; they may loose themselves in Facebook the way I used to loose myself in books, but they are also spohisticated socialisers offline (when they want to be).

There is still too much patronising scaremongering out there about social media that needs questioning. Word of mouth projects which combine offline networking and experiences with online communities are so effective because, for people who live in both worlds without any sense of existential crisis, the intermingling and transition between them is enriching and inspiring.

In one of those strange coincidences, on the train this morning I read this New Yorker article by the excellent music writer Sasha Frere-Jones, and his words absolutely hit the spot:

One way to understand social networking sites like Facebook and MySpace is to consider that younger digital natives are not necessarily being exhibitionists when they post photographs of themselves and share personal details there. Instead, these users are living a life in which consciousness is spread out evenly over two platforms: real life and the Web. Rather than feeling schizophrenic or somehow pathological, digital natives understand that these two realms divide the self as much as speech and the written word divide language, a division that human beings have lived with for a long time without going bonkers.