Tuesday, 27 January 2009

Spokeo social media search engine

One of my knowledgeable and helpful colleagues, catherinewr, told me about spokeo.com, a social media search engine that finds people across 40+ social networks and communities. Apparently, you type in your email address and password and it reads your address book and finds all your friends updates and other actions. It sounds very useful.

But, I must admit, I haven't actually used it. Mainly because:
  1. It doesn't work with .mac accounts
  2. I'm not sure I want to give someone access to all my friends contact details, as I'm not sure I have the right to give out other people's details [which is probably the subject for another post]
  3. Frankly, I find it a bit stalker-y to track someone across all social media, but maybe I'm just being old fashioned.
Now, if it was a tool that allowed you to track brand mentions or other search terms over all social media, that would be extremely useful. [I don't mean the way addictomatic or howsociable aggregate free search engines].

Monday, 26 January 2009

Album sleeve art blog/directory

I came across this fantastic blog, called Sleevage, that is basically a directory of album artwork. You can search by band or sleeve work artist or record label and the blog brings up details on the history of the artwork. 

I think this is going to become my favourite Friday afternoon activity [as well as working really hard, obviously].

Sunday, 25 January 2009

PR the conscience of corporations?

During a recent interview on FIR, Jack O'Dwyer, [PR guru] stated more than once that PR is the 'conscience of corporations'. That it is up to PR to be the voice of reason and to ensure that the company it represents is doing the right thing. 

I think this is a great thing for us PR types to remember, especially during a recession. That, even though the corporation pays our wages and that a lot of the time we are supposed to just do what marketing tells us, it's our job to have have a strong sense of right and wrong and to check our communications against a set of principles that supports the company's commercial objectives and is open, honest and transparent.

That may all sound a bit high faluting, but in the next 12-18 months, there will be increasing pressure on communicators and, IMHO, those that will be most successful are the ones that remember that 'PR is the conscience of corporations'. By successful, I mean successful for the corporations and brands they represent. 

Social media is making all communications transparent and company motives and actions viewable by everyone. So sticking to a strong set of principles and ethics and 'doing the right thing' will earn more respect and trust from the people the companies are communicating with. 

Wednesday, 21 January 2009

Wiki for social media examples

A great resource for anyone wanting for find examples of social media in action is beingpeterkim.com. It lists the company, how it is using social media, links to it and even states the country where it is being used. Which is nice.

Peter Kim, I don't know who you are, but I thank you for making my life a tiny bit easier.

Sunday, 18 January 2009

Genius Durex video

This brilliant video that Durex produced in the states was pointed out to me by Chris Reed. I know it's bad form to post about your client, but I hope you'll forgive this small indulgence [I didn't have anything to do with the video, it was created by an agency in the US, called Superfad, and was covered in the Guardian online here, so I'm not trying to push it, honest.]

The things I love about it are:
  1. The brand is at the core of the video but it is not overtly shoved down your throat. You don't mind being shown the brand at the end, in fact it feels right [if that make sense]
  2. Its simplicity - it's not overly produced and uses a very simple concept to cover a sensitive and personal issue i.e. sex
  3. Humour - without stating the obvious, it is very funny and makes you want to pass it on.
I just wish I'd thought of it.

Friday, 16 January 2009

Social Media Manchester Jan 2009

Enjoyed my first Social Media Manchester event on Wednesday. Being new to the area and not knowing what to expect, I was really impressed with the organisation and turn out. There must have been about 40 plus people there, ranging from software engineers, to PR and marketing types, and a chap who labelled himself 'treehugger'. 

At the event, there were three 'zones', each with a speaker who did an informal talk on a social media type subject. After 30 mins, the speakers changed so you got to attend two talks if you wanted. 

My fav, was the chap talking about GPS technology. He introduced us to cool stuff being done by Blinn, Loki, Loopt and Gypsi.  

Blinn looked great - a location based social network, where once signed in, you can see where you friends are via GPS mapping, leave photos and talk to them. I haven't had chance to check it out properly, but it does look very cool.

The event was covered far better than i could by the Manchester Evening News here. And you can follow updates via twitter here

Tuesday, 13 January 2009

social media map

Catherinewr sent me this great little map of all the different types of social media and the brands and tools in each type. A nifty little reference tool. I've only included a small section of it, but I'm sure you get the idea.

It was produced by an Interactive Agency in Boston, US, called Overdrive - thanks very much guys.

I must confess, there was some stuff I'd never heard of. For example, dogpile, a search engine that allows you to search the web and help animals in need. A portion of the revenue generated from searches goes to an animal rescue charity - the ASPCA. How cool is that!

Monday, 12 January 2009

Does PR now have less in common with journalism?

I had a reasonably heated, but friendly, debate with a friend of mine in PR, who comes from more of a journalist background than me [mine is Chemistry], about how social media means that PR types now have less in common with journalists. 

In simple terms [cos that's all I can do], my argument went:
  • "The future of PR is about taking the lead in social media
  • Social media is creating conversations and engaging with people, not writing releases and doing sell-ins  
  • Ergo, to be good at PR you need to be good at engaging with people and having authentic conversations, which isn't typically journalism skills."
His argument went:
  • "Stop being such a geek and go the damn bar
  • Brands still need to tell their stories in interesting and informative ways, even with Facebook and all that malarky
  • Journalism is still the best profession for telling stories that inform, entertain and educate.
  • Ergo, PR needs similar skills to journalists"
We agreed to disagree. I went to the bar and then showed him my iPhone light saber application.

A few days later and something happened to make me think the old 'press-o-saurus' might have a point. Ironically, it was during a run through for a pitch to build an online community. We were talking through all the whizzy social media functionality that the community was going to have and showing very cool designs of the site and everyone was reasonably excited. 

But it was when we got onto the content ideas that people really got into it. Talking about the stories the community bloggers would post and the conversations that people were likely to have, really brought the community to life. The people in the room really started to relate to what the community site was going to be about and got very carried away. 

All this led me to the conclusion that, Social Media and the future of PR will still be all about content that is interesting, appealing and have water cooler value. i.e content that informs, educates and entertains.

OK, so it's not exactly writing corporate press releases about the 'revolutionary end to end solution V2.0', but it is about creating content that people want to read. Which is pretty close to what journalists are trained to do.

Sunday, 11 January 2009

What's your game face like?

Very funny and interesting photography project that looks at the facial expressing of game players and how the facial expressions reflect the huge amount of focus they put into playing.

I think it's an interesting project as it shows how concentration is reflected in different people. I wonder if it will go any further and compare the facial expressions of people doing different activities.

I wonder if people in PR have a 'press release writing' face? I reckon I definitely have a mountain biking downhill face that involves tongue sticking out and a small amount of weeping in terror.

Monday, 5 January 2009

Measuring twitter authority: twitority

I heard about a new tool via the FIR podcast that ranks tweets by authority called twitority. It sounded pretty good and thought it would be really useful. However, when I tried it, it was a bit duff - or maybe I'm using it wrong.

You put in a search term and it brings up all the tweets and ranks them by authority. I believe the authority is based on how many followers the twitterer has [which IMHO isn't a measure of authority, just popularity - a completely different criteria].

I did a search for me [not surprisingly] and it just brings up one page of tweets from the second half of today. [I have tweeted more than that, honest]. When I filter by 'a lot of authority' nothing comes up. When I filter by 'a little authority' nothing comes up, leading me to deduce twitory reckons you need 500+ followers to be seen as authoritative. [Chris Reed with 495 followers doesn't come up even under a little authority]. 

I normally find most social media tools useful to some degree, but I just can't with this one. I don't believe the number of followers is a measure of authority and I don't believe it accurately finds tweets. 

If I am using this incorrectly, please someone tell me. Or if someone has found it useful and I'm missing something, please let me know.

Sunday, 4 January 2009

Social media / Web 2.0 directory

Go2web2.0 is a very useful directory of loads of web 2.0 and social media tools - as the name cunningly suggests. The page displays the tool/software's logo; you click on it and it brings up a short description that's pretty accurate and a link to the social media tool.

It has tonnes of stuff on here including several neat little tools I'd never heard of. For example, Twitzu lets you create events in twitter and tell everyone about them.

You can also filter by type. You go to the filter drop down box, click on social media type and it brings up a tag cloud of different social media tools. Then you click on the one you want and it gives you a page of related social media tools.

This is one I did for twitter:

I think this directory will come in very handy for finding new things to try out and coming up with new ways of making the most of social tools you already know about.

Friday, 2 January 2009

North Face Mountain Parka review

Santa [aka my mum] brought me a lovely North Face Mountain Parka for Xmas. I didn't really know how good it was until I went walking in the Peak District at the weekend. It was fantastic! It kept me warm and dry in minus 5C and high winds on top of the moors and didn't make me all sweaty from the walking. A truly great coat - light, breathable, pretty damn tough and loads of pockets for storing snacks within easy reach. Would definitely recommend it.

Hopefully, I'm going to give it a more thorough test later this year if I can persuade my other half to go trekking in the Himalayas [and get myself a lot fitter].