A prefect's musings on digital and social media

Author Archives: DigitalPrefect

As the new addition to the Twelve team, I have now passed the three month milestone and I am happy to announce that they wish to keep me! So here I am, taking up the mantel of the Digital Prefect!  

Having spent the last 6 months previously as a one-man-band, all-singing all-dancing (even if I do say so myself) PR machine working for a road safety charity (a glamorous life, I know!), it can be a lonely path! So it is extremely nice to go into our glowing orange office and see other friendly faces, when beating off the Monday blues.

As well as getting into the swing of things in the office, I’ve also recently passed my CIPR Advanced Certificate.  On the whole, the certificate has been a useful exercise to a) give me a solid grounding PR-wise and b) confirmed what I always suspected, that there really is no set way of doing things in PR. Ultimately, that is what always drew me to the industry – it’s innovative and on the go.  

The CIPR course could perhaps have done with a little less emphasis on the theory and perhaps covered a few more practical elements, but it has stood me in good stead for life in an agency. I would certainly recommend to any fledgling PR bunny or bucks to get themselves some ‘official’ training from either PR body, CIPR or PRCA, it’s not only good for getting the basic skills but also for getting yourself established in the industry – once you join, you have the club pass, giving you instant access to one of the best PR networks on the planet (just ask Bernays!)


We all have our favourite video – either the cat that screams ‘no, no, no’ (Radio 2’s Chris Evans fave, by the way) …

or the twins talking in their own secret language…

Viral videos have been known to dominate pub discussions, sporned their own video genre and even increased the longevity of the stalwart TV program ‘You’ve been framed!’

Yet, it’s almost impossible to predict what videos are likely to become mass hits amongst the globes’ population.  Most can list the characteristics of the viral video – funny, short, sometimes edgy, sometimes even troubling; but even in these characteristics the viral video has no obvious winning formula.

This can make the lives of people in the media, advertising and communications field somewhat difficult as clients request a ‘viral’ to promote their latest product or service.  Just as the guys at TNR said at their latest video production workshop at the Press Association building in London, one needs a substantial budget to pay for guaranteed views in order to ensure it goes viral.

Even with all their experience, the TNR chaps were still unable to pin point the magic ingredient which would ensure a video would go viral organically. Yet, one thing we do know for definite is that video will be sticking around for some time yet.

Today we have a guest post from our wonderful intern Will, about the challenge digital marketers face in reaching him via Social Networking channels…..

The rise of facebook as one of the most popular methods of communication with friends (surpassing face to face contact time in many friendships) has not escaped marketing boards: facebook is obviously one of the best ways of reaching an audience, particularly young people; they cannot look away from the screen as they can when watching TV and most importantly they spend an inordinate amount of time on it. But just how effective is social media advertising? Do people really spend as much time on facebook as it is claimed?

I would say that my facebook consumption is fairly representative of people my age: although I go on it a handful of times per day, it is generally only for a minute or so; if there is nothing of interest (this is the case the vast majority of the time) then I will promptly log off. Admittedly there are some zombies who somehow spend hours perusing the endless streams of statuses, photos and videos, but I think that for a facebook advert to be effective, it needs to stand out quickly or risk being overlooked.

To examine how effective facebook advertising really is, I’m going to examine and review 3 facebook adverts that catch my eye.

The first is an (at first) compelling ad for studying law at Northumbria University. It claims that it is the “highest ranked mondern law school” in the UK. It’s simple, effective and the link leads to the course info page on the university website. It’s not asking me to like anything, or offering me slightly dodgy sounding rewards but simply showing me concise information about their product…Although I wouldn’t use it myself, it’s a good advert and a good product, although I feel that it should be targeted at older people as to my knowledge people of my generation don’t go in for distance learning courses. Sadly I feel it is completely ruined by the spelling mistake which calls into question their original claim…

Ad number 2 is for the film Contraband which is apparently now available on iTunes…this one strikes me as much more professional (correct spellings do help) but in terms of the link it is on a par with the previous one: it is clear, gives me all the info and further links I need to see (e.g. buy now) straight away and doesn’t come with any annoying extra pop ups. In terms of the market I’d say it is well placed: I do have a soft spot for action films and the fact that the page the ad is linked to has visible positive reviews helps the overall persuasive effect and does make me slightly want to watch the film. Finally the link to the trailer will (hopefully) close the deal for most people who have got this far, even if they decide to wait and buy the film on DVD for a more reasonable price.

Finally ad number 3: A compelling Sky package offer which offers a £100 M&S voucher if I were to join now online. The link is once again good, with additional details given to me such as exactly what SkyTV involves and how much a monthly subscription is. At the top and middle of the page are large ADD TO BASKET buttons and at the bottom are several reasons in large print why I should switch to or join Sky. Overall a very compelling deal, and with thought the market choice makes sense: the Sky channels appeal to me and the voucher to my parents: therefore household arguments over the deal are likely to be few and far between.

It would seem that (at last) advertisers have begun to learn that popups, requirements to access my information and demands to like things are bad and put me, the challenge, off. For me and for most people, clear concise information and a minimalist approach to web pages make for an attractively presented, and therefore much more compelling facebook pitch.

But the questions remains: would I ever ‘in real life’ have clicked on these adverts? The answer in this case is no, in fact I cannot remember ever clicking on random facebook ads and I confess I don’t really notice them…But it would seem that I am in a minority as this form of advertising is apparently extremely effective, and if ever I see an advert that interests me I certainly won’t avoid it out of principle.

You may already have been grappling with the Facebook timeline on your personal page for sometime.  Every one has an opinion on it – some love it, some hate it.  Personally, I love the concept of being able to see the different life events on your friends wall and scroll down through old conversations, but some of the practicalities of the layout send me a bit batty (pictures push out the layout of some text posts when placed alongside each other etc. etc….it just doesn’t look pretty)!

But that aside, timelines look like they are here to stay.  And by the end of the month all business pages will be migrated to this layout as well, so you need to get to grips with it before it creeps up on you.

Here’s some important pointers:

  • Include a cover feature – this runs across the top of your page and is a great opportunity to include an image that really represents your brand.  It can include and signpost your brand and web address etc. but try not to be overly promotional.  Go for something eye-catching that is likely to stick in your followers mind.
  • Keep a regular check on comments being posted on your page.  You can ‘hide’ any irrelevant posts (but be careful not to overly censor) – but equally it is great for page visitors to see your interaction with customers / followers.  Make sure you respond to all comments you receive in a timely and effective manner!
  • Increase the prominence of popular posts – clicking on the little star at the top right of a post and ‘highlighting it’ spread it across both columns and draws your followers eyes.  This is particularly effective with images.
  • For really key posts you can ‘pin’ these to the top left of the page for seven days.  Pick these wisely because they can decrease the dominance / impact of other new posts.
  • You can still use additional tabs / pages (e.g. through tools such as ‘page modo’) but be aware that these now feature across the top bar – the headline needs to be enticing to encourage your readers to click on it and experience the wealth of information you have included there!
  • The timeline does make the admin panel more accessible – this now appears at the very top of your page when you log in and will include all of the notifications that you need to be aware of. Make sure you review this regularly to keep on top of comments etc.

So, that is just a bit of a whistle stop tour for you – the timeline is a bit daunting at first but there are lots of benefits for your business pages so I really encourage you to stick with it, play around and learn new stuff.  And then you can come back here and tell us all about it!

A recent study has found that many people regret the things that they post on social network sites:

“Internet users were warned over the dangers of pressing the “send” button in haste as research suggested that millions of people have posted comments and messages online which they later wished they had not.” (Source: Daily Telegraph)

The study really focused on personal use of social networking, but the lessons should apply to business approaches to social media as well.

(Source: Daily Telegraph)

Social media gives you a voice to talk to a wider audience about subjects that you are passionate about and demonstrate your experitise, but it can also be easy to hide behind your digital voice and make rash / unresearched claims that you wouldn’t make in the real world.

So, whilst I would always encourage you to use online platforms to be honest and share your personal views – do think before you type and make sure that the message you are putting out there is one you are happy to live with; both for yourself and for your company.  Your online thoughts and feelings can live forever, make sure they are ones worth sharing!


With the New Year just around the corner everyone is wondering what the 2012 digital media trends will be, and one possible answer is the expansion of  neighbour networking sites in the UK.

Websites like Nextdoor.com, EveryBlock.com and HeyNeighbor.com already exist the in UK to enable neighbours the opportunity to network online:

‘There are so many ways our neighbors can help us, but these days most people dont know their neighbors or how best to contact them.’  So, the suggestion is that if you need a neighbour to help you out moving some furniture, or providing a night’s babysitting, you hop onto the social network and see who is available.  It also provide the opportunity to get to know your neighbours slightly better and hopefully carry on the interaction face-to-face.

{Source: Nextdoor.com via Daily Mail}

Now, why is this relevant to businesses you might ask?  Well, I wondered whether 2012 might see us recognise the need for this in a business environment.  Many SMEs are based on rural or urban business parks and might have little or no interaction with their neighbouring businesses.  But is if there were a social network that facilitated this, it could lead to much more collaboration and socialising.

What are your thoughts?  Do you think this could take off in the UK?  Would you use it personally?  Or professionally?  Or more importantly, do you think there is already something out there that caters for this requirement?

I have regularly extolled the virtues of blogging for business; particularly as an individual blogging to build up a profile for yourself as an expert within your field.  But blogging is daunting for many because of the time required to research, write, edit and manage a blog.

There is one particular blogging platform that makes the role of blogging shorter, sharper and slightly easier.  Tumblr.  I mentioned it in my previous entry because none other the Barack Obama has started using the site but I thought it might be helpful to extol the virtues of Tumblr for the person on the street.

Tumblr has been described by the Daily Telegraph as “the smart thing to be doing online these days [tumblelogging], which is to weblogs what text messages are to email – short, to the point and direct.”


A tumblelog does not require reams and reams of text, many people use it to just share images / videos / ‘finds’ on the internet but the content expectation not quite the same as a traditional blog so it is perfect for your CEO that wants to share quick bullet points of lessons learnt from a recent conference, or to post pictures of an event.

Tumblr is a mix between a blog and a social network (with more characters available than Twitter – but only when you need them).  I definitely encourage you to give it a go whether you want to create a personal blog for yourself with business objectives, or a unique and funky blog for your company.


Let me know how you get on!

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