Oi! Facebook! No!

It is hard to type, blog snorkellers mine, with your head in your hands and your eyes clouded by roiling waves of despair.

What gives, the more solicitous of you (I am sure) will want to know. Well, since you asked, it’s this. ‘This’, for those of you who have an issue wid da clickety-boo and don’t want their screen cluttered up with too many windows (oooo – we might lose track of what’s open and be surprised later and that would NEVER do), is a link to Metro, a UK-based free morning paper. A bit gossipy, a bit sensational, maybe even a little lightweight – but influential, no doubt. I don’t know what the circulation is (and if you’re that interested, you can go find out for yourselves) but it’s a lot. No-one turns down a free paper.

(Apart from fusty old codgers who insist on paying for The Thunderer. Oh, and social workers who couldn’t live without their morning lean-to-the-left from The Guardian. And, of course, Middle England, which wouldn’t be Middle England without being constantly whipped into a frenzy of mindless bigotry, casual racism and general outrage by the super, soaraway Daily Mail. Apart from them.)

Anyway – and the link to Metro’s website doesn’t do any sort of justice to the full horror of this – this morning’s front page feature was all about Facebook reaching 500m users. And lots of little ‘factoids’ (26m users in Britain – that’s a third of the population!) and some mealy-mouthed motherhood statements from the boy-demon, Mark Zuckerberg.

C’mon, bloggy people – what’s wrong with this picture?

  • It’s not news – it merely provides a seal of approval for people’s grubby obsession wid da ‘book
  • OK, it could be argued that it IS news – populist, describing a global phenomenon, huge numbers, societal step-change etc etc – but I always thought there had to be two sides to news. Where’s the counter-argument? The nearest we get to it is a nod to the fact that Facebook doesn’t make a profit, and that Azrael Zuckerberg may have to give a slice of his horrible action to some guy he had a contract with some time ago. (And you wouldnae want to read the small print on THAT contract, mark my words)
  • Where does the data come from? Oooooh, ooooh, oooooh! Let me guess! Facebook?
  • Not even a nod to the fact that only a proportion of those registered Facebookians are actually active
  • No nod to the trend for people to create Facebook accounts for their pets
  • No nod to the exceptionally poor nature of the bulk of the content
  • And certainly no recognition of the possibility that serious Facebookists (most likely, I wouldn’t want to be quoted on this) have serious issues of a rather disturbing nature

If you don’t believe me – or if you simply want to marvel at the random fuckwittery that is the bulk of Facebook, have a quick shufti at this. This is Failbook. Mostly shit, occasionally jaw-droppingly, buttock-clenchingly awful.

Anyway, the good news is that this undoubtedly heralds the start of the silly season. Yes, dear communications specialists everywhere, it is time to kick back, dust off the really stupid ideas that wouldn’t stand a chance at any other time of the year, and get filling those empty column inches!

Good luck to you all!

Googly I

 Been a while, blog snorkellers mine, been a while.

Frankly, this blog has turned into my foamy-mouthed rantings about the eville that is social media and, d’you know what, it’s becoming difficult to find anything new to write.

Why? Because I’m not a geeky techy, I’m a communicator. I do not hang around in the kitchen of the internet’s big social media party, discussing the tiny changes that social media keep making to themselves, nor the wholly spurious increases in fans and clicks, nor the fact that 52.673% of businesses run by hippies believe that social media will, eventually, replace God.

And unless you choose to rummage through this morass of soiled underwear, you have to accept the truth that nothing has actually changed in the year or so that I’ve been gracing the web with my musings. The evangelists are still evangelising, the fools are still fooling around, the inappropriateness is still inappropriate, the naysayers are still naysaying – but nothing has actually changed.

Social media are still what they are – and the communications and marketing community are still trying to work out how to leverage them. Anyway, today I come across this – which is a post from the Digital Brand Expressions Blog (thank you) musing on the possibility that Google may be planning to have another foray into the social media space with something that may, or may not, be called ‘Google Me’. Obviously, I think they’ve missed a trick here – ‘Googly I’ would be so much better, or Google U, which could then become Googlez Vous in French and Et Tu Google for the small Swiss community that still insists on speaking Latin.

Anyway (again), just a couple of thoughts on the back of this article:

1) It’s probably too late for choice. You’re either on Facebook, or you’re not. And if you are – well, you are (obviously) and if you’re not, I think it’s unlikely that you’ll suddenly throw your privacy away and embrace the sharing of drunken photographs simply because that nice Mr Google has provided a new medium for you to use.

2) If Facebook was going to launch a search engine, it would have done it by now. Let’s face it, a share of Google’s $23bn annual profit (revenue? not sure) is not to be sneered at. I can only think that either they can’t, or that they’ve decided it’s not worth the effort. And, simply because Facebook doesn’t make any money currently, I’m forced to believe that they haven’t the capability to create an algorithm that would approximate Google’s. (If indeed algorithm is the right expression for the magic mushroom of code that allows Google to hallucinate all the stuff that people want to view.)

So. I’d hazard that Google won’t be able to invade Facebook’s space and vice-versa. So, once again, nothing has changed.

See you in another couple of months – supposing anything actually moves on.

Kirk out.

Talking Sense About Social Media

Today, lovely blog snorkellers mine, I’m going to get all volte face on your asses.

Today, I would like to say that I am prepared to accept that social media can be a force for good – in a commercial communications, sales and marketing context. I am prepared to go as far as to say that interacting with them might even add measurable value to the bottom line of a company, brand or organisation. In short, I am ready to say that such a company, brand or organisation should have a social media strategy in place to capitalise on the opportunities that social media present.

The one thing that I am waiting for, in order to make my conversion complete, is some proof that all of this is – in fact – correct. Suffice it to say that in the course of a recent conversation, I was given hope that at least one organisation is actually measuring and evaluating the ROI of its social media strategy. If this is the case, and the results speak for themselves, then I will be a convert. I look forward to sharing more with you.

In the meantime – if anyone already has concrete examples of tangible ROI delivered by social media activity, then I would be genuinely fascinated to hear them.

In the meantime (2), I would like to draw your attention to this. It is a collection of ‘insights from a lively morning panel discussion’ entitled ‘Social Media For Corporates – essential channel or unecessary distraction’, which was held by CorpComms magazine and was a Precise.exchange.

Please, lazy, lazy blog snorkellers, do clickery on the link, and read the comments of Peter Morgan, Director of Communications, Rolls Royce. A case of genuine insght, cutting through the quagmire with the laser scalpel of clarity, or one of old dogs not being able to get their heads around new tricks? I leave it to you to decide.

(Personally, I agree with him wholeheartedly.)

PR’s Groundhog Day

Here’s a piece from PR Week. (What do you mean you don’t read it, blog snorkellers mine? Go out and buy a copy immediately. This week’s cover price is – for the sake of argument – a highly reasonable £32.57.)

It’s about integration – and lest anyone be unclear – that’s the integration of communications disciplines through the creation of what used to be called ‘one-stop shops’.  PR Week see fit to grace the front page of their organ with this story, so they obviously regard it as ‘news’.

But – hold on, and correct me if I’m wrong, hasn’t this happened before (twice, as far as I can remember) – and then sort of un-happened, sort of dis-integrated, if you like? (And I do.)

Doesn’t it prove that the old adage ‘PR – it’s a young person’s game’ is fundamentally wrong? It’s not a young person’s game because young people can’t remember the hideous fuck-ups of the past and thus cannot learn from them.

Mind, as long as the clients are young as well, I suppose it doesn’t matter. They can all repeat the same errors together. Again and again and again. It’s like Groundhog Day, but it will never sort itself out and it’s somewhat less amusing without Bill Murray in it.

And the final bit of the ‘story’ just underlines what cack it actually is. “It’s not as simple as being in the same office” – no, you’re right, sunshine, it’s not – “there has to be a willingness…..to work together to understand…….” Yes, nail, head.

There has to be a mutual respect, an acceptance that the ‘idea’ can come from anywhere, and an innate ability to recognise what makes a good idea. These three things do not come from making the poor, hapless drones sit together and share the same canteen. Didn’t work in the late eighties, didn’t work in the early noughties, won’t work now.

Oh, and for the record, PR Week has been around for much, much longer than a lot of agencies and most account execs. Why, then, is PR Week slavishly reporting this, rather than working from its years of experience and pointing out that ‘integration’ is not new, not big and definitely not clever.

May 31 – Quit Facebook Day

Does exactly what it says on the tin – no explanation necessary.

Here. A piece from mashable.com.

Also see my previous post – You’re Zucked!

A small step, I would say, in the right direction.

Embrace Social Media Or Die!

Well, that’s the only conclusion I can draw from this set of statistics collated and published on socialnomics.net by Erik Qualman, an evangelist.

I cannot argue with them or dispute them. They seem to come from a variety of reliable sources. The only conclusion I can draw is that the world and the bulk of people in it live for their social media. When social media becomes more popular than porn (which, as any fule kno, is what the interweb was invented for), then you know that momentum has grown into an unstoppable tsunami of Big Conversation.

And yet. I STILL don’t know of any company that’s making money through social media marketing. Mr Qualman includes this point – “the ROI of social media is that your business will still exist in 5 years” – which sounds like a bit of a bullying threat to me. Try telling that to Rolls-Royce, Marks & Spencer, Garrards and Cheney the Bootmaker. I’m in no way involved in the social media ‘phenomenon’, yet somehow I still seem to be able to function perfectly well in today’s society. Apparently products and services and news are now going to find me – well, if it’s OK with them, I’ll stick with the old way of doing things and choose which ones I want, in my own time, on my own terms.

Finally, apparently, if Facebook were a country, it would be the world’s third largest, after China and India.

Better than that, I wouldn’t have to live there. Or even visit. And I would no longer have to put up with the endless wittering about social media being my future.

How good would that be?

How Language Devolves

Yes, yes. Before you start – I know that devolution is not the opposite of evolution and that devolving language is not the black to evolving language’s white. However, as we saw in a previous post, when the American nation attempted to convince me that ‘bulletize’ and ‘big-businessification’ were words, language does appear to be quietly decaying, and this is because we have devoluted its care to those who are, quite obviously, not up to it. (See n. American.)

(Yes, yes (again). Devolved. I know.)

Anyway, today, in the course of my day job, I was sense-checking a quite technical document. One to do with measurement and encryption. One in which a – I assume – normally quite sane person had used the not-word ‘zeroise’. As in ‘after generating the result, zeroise your machinery’. I think it is probably intended to mean ‘reset’ or ‘return to zero’.

Three points, if, dear blog snorkellers, you can be bothered.

1) Zeroise is not and never will be a word. If it used, however, it will pass into language. Use it and it will be spoken

2) The person who used it was not an American. So maybe I’m being a bit harsh on Americans. Or maybe it’s that they’re trying to idiotize the rest of the world

3) It was used in a PowerPoint presentation so, yes, it was bulletized

Let’s try and hold out against the nonsense, people.

How Language Evolves

This is a special post for one of my loyal blog snorkellers – you know who you are – who was kind enough to point out ot me that the word ‘equivalenting’ didn’t really exist. (I used it in a previous post – do keep up, Blog Snorkeller Minor!)

I, of course, pointed out that it did exist, and provided an example – which I found on the internet and, frankly, do not have a scooby as to its authenticity. But the point (which I didn’t actually make) was that – in reality – this is how language evolves and becomes the multi-syllabic mystery that has fascinated me practically for as long as I can remember.

But – he brooded, darkly – some things are beyond the pale. This morning, after having fought off the waiter who wanted to bring me some home fries and a ‘breakfast salad’ (whatever, in the name of all that’s holy, that is), I picked up a copy of the New York Times, in an attempt to wring some news from it.

Apparently, the American Army is losing the war against PowerPoint. There are, apparently, people employed simply to prepare update presentations and they are being called the PowerPoint Rangers. Also, it appears, the top brass are not terribly happy with it. All this led to the following quotation: “There are some issues you cannot bulletize.”

Bulletize?

Then the story about the college somewhere in the US which has had two deaths from heroin overdoses in two years. The college is now being patrolled – probably rightly – by US Federal Agents, who are concerned about the “big-businessification of the drug trade”.

Big-businessification?

These are made up words. They have no place in the evolution of language.

Makes ‘equivalenting’ seem almost erudite, do you not think?

Serving Mammon In His Communications Department

Yesterday I praised Lucas van Praag, Spinmeister-General at the Vampire Squid, for his audacious strategy of actually instigating an FSA investigation to shift the focus from the bank’s nausea-inducing profits and bonuses.

I was wrong – according to this piece by Jason Karpf (a four-time champion on the game show ‘Jeopardy!’) (which is, I can only presume, where the hapless contestants have to escape from a cage full of hungry jeopards? No?), this truly epoch-making piece of lateral communications thinking comes from Texas-based PR firm, Public Strategies.

So well done to them.

Mind, lest Mr van Praag be diminished in our eyes, here’s a piece from something called New York Magazine which compiled a list of the Praagster’s best rebuttals. I will leave the last word to @manic_impressive, who commented on the article:

“Dude, Goldman is just so much better than all of us.”

Doing God’s Work – And Serving Mammon

Goldman Sachs, after a bit of a PR disaster last year (‘doing God’s work’, they were, apparently, according to that nice, humble and eminently charming Mr Blankfein) has taken what I consider to be the correct course of communications action – kept its head down, kept schtum and got on with its raison d’etre, which is the making of frankly obscene amounts of wonga. I’m not going to talk about its first quarter results – do the light clickdango here – but suffice it to say that amongst other little frissons was the figure of $5.5bn that they’ve given to their staff. Equivalenting to some $100k per employee, including the blokes who clean the loos. (No of course they didn’t – you figure it out.)

One of the recipients of some of the Goldman’s cash fallout – quite a lot, I am told by unreliable sources – is one Lucas van Praag (apologies to Mr vaan Prag if I got his name wrong), Director of Corporate Communications of the Sachs Parish. It should be said that, following last year’s PR shambles, some did wonder whether he’d actually earned his money.

So did I – until I read this. It takes a genuinely skilled exponent of the spinmeister’s art to come up with the idea of leaking the suspicion of fraud in order not only to initiate an investigation by the FSA, but also get none other than Gordon ‘Wingnut’ Brown lobbying for it.

It’s a stroke of genius. So Goldman Sachs gets investigated – worse, it’s found guilty of misleading investors in the area of toxic stocks. It gets fined. It has to lose the middle-ranking member of staff that (apparently) landed it in the mess in the first place.

But – but. The fine will be but a fraction of its profits. One gets the feeling that the middle-ranking member of staff is persona non grata anyway and is already washed and in the laundry basket waiting to be hung out to dry. The loser in the whole toxic stocks issue was RBS – hardly the most popular or stainless of financial institutions.

No. On balance, all this investigation will succeed in doing is making people see that nice Goldman Sachs as the underdog, unfairly pursued – nay, scapegoated – for something that could have happenend to anyone. And while people are thinking this, they won’t be thinking about the telephone number profits and fat bonuses that have never stopped being a part of the Goldman’s culture.

Mr van Praag – there’s another big sack of money waiting in your office for you. Enjoy.