God Loves Facebook

Proof, if any were needed, that the world is no longer a suitable place for right-thinking people like you and me, blog snorkellers mine, in light of the fact that it has gone completely and utterly hatstand.

Here’s some numbers for you. $500m. $50bn. $2m minimum. Can you tell what it is yet? How about $850m and $10m (or less)?

Well, the first set of figures is what the workers of God (the lovely people at Goldman Sachs) have invested in Facebook (in conjunction with some Russian oligarch), the apparent valuation this puts on Facebook’s business and the amount of liquid lolly you would have to ante up to participate in God’s social media investment vehicle. The second set of figures is what the founder of Bebo sold his company for in 2008, and the amount of money that was paid for it by a venture capitalist in June last year.

Now Bebo, according to Google Trends (March 2010), had around 1.5m unique visitors. Facebook, according to the same Google Trends in the same period, had roughly 210m. At which point, if Bebo is to be valued at $10m (or less), then Facebook would have been worth a maximum $1.5bn. And now it’s worth $50bn.

Absolutely amazing growth. If only one could invest in it. But – hold on – now you can! And all thanks to those super and – by common acknowledgement of the very clever people on Wall Street – very clever people at Goldman Sachs. Fact is, of course, through the miracle of trading stuff of which I wot not, that one has been able to trade in social media ‘shares’ for some time – an option that will no longer be available to one if one throws one’s lot in with God. Along with the option of pulling one’s money out if it all goes tits up before 2013.

So, what is wrong with this picture, people? OK, I know you’re all embarrassed to put your hand up in front of so many people, so I’ll tell you. 

  • Facebook is not worth $50bn. It isn’t. End of. ( In the same way that tulip bulbs were never worth 50 gold coins, Skype and Friends Reunited were never worth billions and millions respectively and a one-bedroom flat overlooking Dublin’s M50 was never worth half a million euro)
  • Goldman Sachs are obviously angling for the right to handle the flotation of Facebook and the fees that would accrue from said flotation
  • The Busy Bees of God have shaped an investment vehicle that may well carry a bunch of high net worth individuals to their doom. As it crashes on the rocks of fiscal prudence, they will look to God’s Worker who should be in the driving seat. He (or indeed she) will probably, and conveniently, be somewhere else
  • Fabrice Tourre, Abacus 2007-AC1. ‘Nuff said

I think it is highly likely that Les Travailleurs de Dieu will get this one away. I think it is highly likely that many many investors will put their money into the phenomenon that is social. I think it highly likely that this headlong rush to make money out of the shiny thing will contage (hey, looky here! I made up a new word) and social media that exist on the very boundaries of understanding will become enormously valuable and a new generation of uber-geeks will become – if they sell at the right time – hideously wealthy. I think it highly likely that, despute the recent opportunity to learn from our mistakes, another bubble will expand and burst, leaving far more losers than winners. God – through his Workers – will be, most likely, a winner.

As someone who has some knowledge of these things said to me: “if they float, short them. Short the shit out of them.” Sounds sensible to me.

Anyway – as evidence that you can always find someone to support any argument – here’s a piece that’s probably more rational than my post. Enjoy!

Social Media In The Workplace – Medieval Thinking

Morning snorkellers.

Yesterday, you may recall, I stuck up a much-viewed and widely-discussed (I am almost certain that it probably was) post – Social Media In The Workplace – The Debate Rageth On – in which I set out my (by now pretty ragged from overuse) stall of arguments as to why allowing employees access to social media during working hours is not, on the whole, a Good Thing.

This was in response to a post on stopblocking.org (do the clickety-doo here) which – unfortunately – I found (and still find) a little too glib and easy for my taste. Anyway, long story short – as I guess was to be expected – the author of the post (one Shel Holtz) has reacted in kind (see, here!) in which he has, quite kindly, actually, put me straight on a number of my points. Again, right-thinking blog snorkellers mine, you may wish to don the mental equivalent of a welding mask before viewing his (lengthy) sounding off, but it does highlight at least one thing. You’re social, or you’re not. The whole debate over its usefulness has become so widespread and heated that there is no choice but to choose sides. Choose wisely, young padawan.

Anyway, Shel also had a bit of a twat about my post. He described it as thinking from the medieval era. Which, in turn, got me thinking. Would it not be fair to say that today’s many-too-many of social media strategists and specialists and gurus and advisers are, in reality, little different from the mendicant monks that would trudge the filthy by-ways and low roads of the 16th century, looking for the gullible and lazy, to whom to sell their fake and worthless relics? ‘Look here, lumpen peasant with your interesting diseases, shiny thing make it all better.’ ‘Be certain of your passage to heaven with this splinter from the one, true media – sorry – cross!’

Wasn’t that time one of mountebanks and charlatans, dissimulation and deceit? Rather than being medieval myself, I rather think I’m trying to prevent those who wish to get all medieval on our asses.

So, Did You Bury The Bad News?

Ah well, so I don’t seem completely curmudgeonly, and before I go any further, congratulations from all here at The Wordmonger (that’ll be me then, and the tumbleweed, and the wind, moaning softly through the broken shutters) to Kate and William. Who knew? (And, for the record, I’m with Mrs Middleton on toilet and pardon. ‘Excuse me, I must rush off to the lavatory’? Puh-lease.)

Anyway, blog snorkellers mine, it was (and still is, get in quickly) a good day to bury some bad news. I look forward to the City pages of the Evening Standard this evening. However, if you’re Ireland, I think it may not be a good enough day to bury the sizeable tranche of horrid tidings concerning your wrecked economy and starving population. Clearly, I don’t actually know that they’re starving, but it seems a fair assumption, based on the reportage to date. (I’m going to Ireland for Christmas – do hope it’s picked up by then.)

So, and back to the wholly unlikely and unexpected Royal union – did anyone else clock the similarity between that famous piccy of a young Diana in a (wholly appropriately enough) diaphanous skirt, and a young Catherine Middleton in her undies and a diaphanous dress? (Only there’s something of the grubby about Kate – in a good way, obviously.) If one were cynical enough, and of a conspiracy theory bent, one might almost say it is too serendipitous. Non? Or is just me?

I’m losing track. I don’t often (ever, actually) post links to social media, but I found this on Twitter this morning and it resonated. Enjoy!

Snakes and Ladders

Hey, blog snorkellers – whassup?

Just a quick one – yesterday’s rant about a certain global PR concern and its lack of control over its own blog (social media + no control = the chocolate cupcake of cock-up) – well, two things.

First – they’ve not taken the offending post down. They must have seen me linking to it, they probably read my comments – a bit of action here, people, please. Actually – bugger off – don’t take it down, it wasn’t a bad post. Just edit bits of it. And you know which bits I mean. Go on – do it now.

Second – a further post on the same blog. Now this is genuine genius. Brilliant. Honestly.

Tell me – would it be too difficult to hook up Author 1 with Author 2? My feeling is that everyone would benefit.

So Many Pitfalls, So Little Time…

And, as I’m not exactly overburdened with spare time myself right this instant, I’ll get straight to the point, dearest blog snorkellers.

Regular snorkellers of this blog will know where I stand. (What’s that? ‘Just to the right of Genghis Khan’? See me afterwards, Blog Snorkeller Minor.) Social media, while not exactly evil (in themselves), are much overrated and are certainly no great shakes in the big MacDonald’s Happy Meal that is marketing and communications. But they are potentially dangerous – which is why I have always advocated tight controls on, and careful monitoring of, their use in a corporate context. There is, sweet reader, massive potential for you and your brand to be sitting, waiting, at home for Mr Fuckup to call.

My other pet bugbear (I breed domesticated bugbears – small, furry, friendly and – if you keep them well fed – they won’t eat your children) is the lack of real talent in PR. Enthusiasm maybe, talent, not so much. And the appalling lack of basic skills. This has always been the case mind, but, for god’s sake, if you can’t write, what are you doing here?

So imagine my delight when I come across this.

Oh yes, people, a blog on behalf of a big PR agency. And they’ve let some hapless staffer loose ‘as part of the foodie contingent of the H&K blogging bunch’. And she can’t write – “Although the initial instinct is that there can be nothing less festive than a pot noodle, it begs to differ that the mere intrigue of such a flavour will generate sales on its own.”

So – it’s a twofer! I’ve got a PR person who – while undoubtedly enthusiastic – is in need of some training, and I’ve found it through the medium of social! (Well, a blog is social media, isn’t it?)  

Serious questions, mind. Who’s moderating the H&K blog, why didn’t they spot this and why doesn’t the company have a more stringent policy in place? Far, far worse – this is a global communications company. They’re supposed to be good at this shit. Much reputational damage on the wold, I’d say.

(I really do hope I’ve haven’t left any typos in this. Now really would not be the time.)

Defining Content

Content is the new strategy, blog snorkellers mine.  By which I mean, of course, that it is the latest concept to have a achieved a truly global misunderstanding of what it means, what it stands for and what it does.

For my entire working life – and I’ve posted about this before – I have marvelled at the business world’s complete inability to agree on a common definition of strategy and thus, as a consequence, its complete failure to produce anything of any value to anyone. I’m sure I am not alone when I say that I cannot remember the amount of times I have been confronted with the mantra – objectives, strategy, tactics – and the amount of times that the three terms have been interpreted in different ways. As I understand it, the concept of ‘strategy’ is what business is predicated on – how, therefore and for the love of god, has anyone ever managed to get anything done, given that strategy turns out to be a meaningless construct, created, I can only surmise, to give consultants something with which to justify their enormous fees. (Mind, I shouldn’t really complain as I, too, have had my share of enormous fees generated on the back of fuck all.)

Anyhoo, dear followers, I digress. Content, you see, in this age of digitalisticity, has become the new strategy. Everyone’s talking about ‘content’ – by which they mean (broadly speaking) the holy grail of nebulous shite which, once posted on t’interweb will, miraculously provoke the ‘big conversation’ and, equally miraculously, sell some branded nonsense. The problem, however, is that no-one knows what ‘content’ actually is – and, trust me, spending too much time thinking about it will result in a ‘Zen and The Art of Motorcycle Maintenance’ moment, because it doesn’t really exist. Content is really (and very simply) all the stuff you probably had before – video, brochures, boilerplates, messages, Q&A, position statements – all the stuff that you needed to communicate effectively, and which simply needs to be re-packaged (or not) for the medium.

Problem is that somewhere along the line, as the hysteria around social media built, it was decided that ‘content’ was something that was more than the sum, or the essence, of what already existed and was, in fact a completely new thing. (The closest I can get to it is Unobtainium in ‘Avatar’ and we know what a distasteful pile of greying, unwashed y-fronts that was.) It’s a new medium, said the snake-oil salesmen, corporate hippies and purveyors of digital voodoo, and therefore it needs a new type of ‘content’. And so the concept of ‘content’ passed into modern folklore – and became something that everyone had heard about and no-one understood. Special delivery – another set of undergarments for the Emperor!

(Of course, I’m actually behind the curve with this diatribe because, just as the smarter amongst us are finally beginning to realise that social media are not new media, but simply the old media delivered differently, and that the rules by which we played with old media are the same rules by which we must play with new media, and that Twitter is not, in actual fact, a good message delivery system, so those same smarter amongst us are also realising that social media cannot be leveraged as sales and marketing tools. And thus the concept of miracle ‘content’ is redundant before it even got on the job.)

Anyway – here is some content. This is the sort of content that makes the internet go round. Or square. Or long and thin and squiggly. Whatever shape the internet is. This is the sort of content that defines content. Some may find it funny. Others stupid. But I think we can all agree that it is ‘content’.

And no, I do not now wish to rush out and buy a cat. No matter what brand of cat.

Throwing a History Fit

Once upon a time, when I was young and stupid (‘as opposed to old and stupid’ – oh yes, how droll), I worked in what I can only describe as a hangar.

It was, in fact, a massive industrial space that, as the manufacturing equipment for this particular industry had become, through advances in technology, much smaller than it once was, had become empty and thus had been allocated to the, conversely, much larger sales, marketing and PR functions that served this particular industry player.

When I say ‘hangar’, I’m not really joking. It was huge, and filled with a warren of partitions, containing around 150 drone workers like me, all trying to keep themselves to themselves, whispering into their ‘phones, and trying to stamp their individuality on their cubes with the addition of amusing signs and magnets and pictures of their dogs.

On the other side of the hangar from me, sat a girl who we shall call Sharon. (Before you accuse me of being a lazy bastard, I’m calling her Sharon not because I can’t think of anything else – Beelzmeralda, for example – but because it’s very close to her actual name.) And Sharon was from Essex. (There you go again. I’m not being lazy – the girl who was not really called Sharon, but close, was not really from Essex, but somewhere quite nearby and equally maligned.) (And indeed, malignant.) And every now and then, on average three times a day, Sharon would go off like an air raid siren.

It would start with a staccato ‘Naow!’ (Which is ‘no’ – but phonetically. That’s how she pronounced it.) It was loud enough to carry to the farthest reaches of the hangar. You could sense everyone stopping what they were doing – pausing in anticipation.

A couple of moments later, you’d begin to sense  a sound building at a level below hearing. It was a feral rumbling, which all too quickly built into a vibrato squeal – ‘Yorr!’ You’ve got to work with me on this. If you’re doing this at home, bear in mind that while the sound was ‘Yorr!’ – it built and built like this – ‘Yyyyyyyyyyyyy-orrrrrrrrrrRRRRRR!’

As soon as it had come, it was gone. Silence, while Sharon drew breath and then, stronger, more tremulous, deeper and louder- ‘Avin’!’ Again, remember, if you’re doing this at home, it was more ‘Aaa-vvinnnnNNNNNN!’ Another minsicule pause and then a bellowed ‘Ay!’ (‘Aaaa-yyyy!)

(By this time, everyone on the floor was willing Sharon on. We knew where she was going with this, and we wished her well. We admired her lung capacity and we understood the sentiment. Sometimes, if she’d not gone off for a while, one of us would volunteer to go and relieve the pressure by walking over to her cube and complimenting her hair or her dress sense.)

The final act – after the briefest of pauses, into which the silence rushed like water into the lungs of a drowning man – Sharon let rip with a barrage of sound of a depth and intensity that those who heard it for the first time were barely able to comprehend – ‘Larf!’ (Only, again, it was more ‘Laaaaaa-rrfffffffFFFFFFFFF!’

I hadn’t thought about Sharon for years, until I came across this mockery.

‘PR-Historiography, A Functional-Integrative Strata Model And Periods of German PR History’.

You’re having a laugh.

Chilean Miner PR Stunt

Hi all, glad you could make it. I guess you’re wondering why I called you all here today – well, it’s just a brief update on my last post in which I questioned the whole Chilean miner deal, and whether, or not (like the moon landing) it was faked for someone or something’s own ends. (And I’m not the only one, before you start hurling digital rotten fruit, I’m not the bloke who coined the phrase ‘Dig Brother’. ) (Although I wish, of course, that I was.)

The papers (inna UK at least), on Saturday, provided the answer to my plaintive question ‘why’? Who did this? Who stood to benefit?

And it was the Chilean government, who, on the back of the ‘miraculous’ ‘rescue’ of 33 miners – why didn’t they eat anyone, answer me that – are not only going to make a fortune off of the movie of the rescue, which should help them bail out a few banks (which is what most governments seem to spend most money on these days), but are also going to get some high level talks with Her Maj’s government on how spiffing Chile is. Cue rehabilitation.

There is some PR guru behind this. Mark my words. (Not necessarily anyone called Mark, mind. Or indeed Matthew.)

Obviously a stunt – but promoting what?

Hey, hey, blog snorkellers mine, I’m back.

But no time to shoot the breeze, busy-busy, things to do, places to be, people to obey – you know how it is. Apologies for having been away, mind – but I’m afraid I got bored with social media, or it became somehow less important, and there really hasn’t been the motivation to put finger to keypad. I guess there actually IS a post right there – is it true that social media has lost its edge? I’m feeling that, somehow, it’s become less of a burning platform (oooh, look at me and the big management-speak vocabulary) and has somehow blended into the landscape. This could be a good thing – in that a few, otherwise perfectly sane, people will stop spinning around, flapping their hands and spewing resource into the void and will pick up their lives where they left off, to the greater good of their, and their functions, productivity – or it’s a bad thing in that the crass, lemming-like stupidity has actually become a social norm.

I should ponder the issue for a while.

Anyhoo – that ain’t what this is about. Some of my regular snorkellers (mwah-ha-ha-ha) will know that I’m not just a social media debunker, but also a sage and profound commentator on issues relating to the profession that we fondly call spin, some call a black art and others simply refer to as – PR.

And today’s reflection is on something that has been bothering me for – ooooh – all of 12 hours. What is it – I hear you pant breathlessly – and it is this. Chilean miners is what it is. What follows here may, I am afeard, be perceived to be of a rather dubious taste, so I’d advise those of a sensitive disposition to look away now.

Is it just me, right, or are there some questions to be answered around the – on the face of it – miraculous survival and rescue of the 33 hapless miners, stuck for 69 days, half a mile underground and brought back to the surface yesterday and the day before? Questions like:

  • They’ve been in a hole for over two months. Why have they all got decent haircuts?
  • Why didn’t they eat each other? (This isn’t – terribly – serious. Obviously.)
  • How did they get all that stuff down to them – when the only communication/access, apparently, was through a sausage-sized hole?
  • All the world’s bits were contained in this, weren’t they? One of the miners becomes a father, one is greeted by his mistress, another’s mistress and wife have a fight – this isn’t a real-life drama, this is a cross between Big Brother and Hollyoaks
  • How come a video camera was STILL RUNNING as the last rescue worker left?

See where I’m going with this? There was no mining disaster. There were no miners trapped in a hole. There was no dramatic rescue attempt. It was a PR stunt – a fake for TV.

The only thing I’ve yet to work out is this – who, or what, stood to benefit? One of the politicians who was centre stage at the ‘rescue’? The Chilean Tourist Board?

Or was this the result of collusion between governments around the world to take our minds over the global economic hell that is about to engulf most of us?

Could be worse you know – you could be a Chilean miner stuck half a mile underground.