A prefect's musings on digital and social media

Category Archives: Digital Developments


Views, likes, shares and tweets – If your campaign is going to succeed these near sacred words are going to define it.  In a media climate in which everyone competes to carve out a digital presence, ‘going viral’ has become the foundation of many marketing strategies.

The essence of creating a viral campaign is the ability to make something shareable. This necessity for the content to be organically shared from person to person usually means it has to be amusing or shocking in some way.

Although this may sound obvious this simple fact has completely changed the style of mainstream advertising. Traditionally adverts were often based around a sense of aspiration, whether its scantily dressed supermodels parading around or coffee being served in the house of your dreams, products sat upon this glossy pedestal. Although this element of aspiration still underpins the messages of modern campaigns, increasingly adverts are tailored for virality by being controversial, funny and most importantly raw.

A good example to illustrate this change in style is delivered by the evolution of Pepsi adverts:



Here you can see the clear difference the Internet has made. Video hosting platforms, such as Youtube, are at the heart of this change not only in terms of how the advert can be shared but also the aesthetic style of the advert. Very often viral campaigns are centred around a first person or fly on the wall style, tapping into real life experience and ultimately allowing a much more intimate relationship to be made between the brand and the consumer.

As well as Youtube, social media platforms, such as Twitter, act as important catalysts in the modern viral process due to the hash tagging function. This is used to great effect by Pepsi as they deliver their homemade style advert coupled with the hash tag #gordontestdrive. Creating this allows your content to ‘trend’ which essentially means the content becomes popular within twitter, with the activity accumulating under this particular hash tag category. This functionality can be seen below where the ‘Trends’ column shows live updates of the most popular hashtags, whilst the search for #gordontestdrive shows how Twitter users have interacted and shared the content:

Screen Shot 2014-02-20 at 10.26.42

Aside from the advantage of having your message and product rapidly shared across the world, viral PR campaigns are comparatively cheap to make whilst being far more engaging.

To summarise, the most important way to make your material viral is to make it engaging. We all share videos with our friends and family, think of the style of content this is usually comprised of; whether it’s a cute dog doing a trick or someone hilariously falling over, the content is usually relatable, shocking or believable. When it comes to creating your own promotional material the most important thing to remember is to be innovative and imaginative, the sheer scale of platforms such as Youtube means that material quickly becomes copied and indistinguishable, how are you going to make your message stand out?


Bloglovin-vs-FeedlyJuly this year saw the well-loved Google Reader shut down, leaving many people bereft of a way to read all their favourite blogs in one place. So I decided to compare two alternatives: Bloglovin’ and Feedly. Both have free iOS and Android apps available.


How Bloglovin' looks on the computer

How Bloglovin’ looks on the computer

With Bloglovin’, you create an account and add the blogs you want to follow, getting all their new posts in a feed. Through the site, you’re able to search for new blogs and see what’s popular in different categories. The Bloglovin’ interface is clean, minimalist and incredibly easy to navigate.

Use Bloglovin’ if you:

  • Use Tumblr and/or Twitter and like their similar layouts
  • Want a reader that is well-known and popular
  • Primarily view your content on iOS or Android devices (the iOS app is wonderfully simple & looks great on the iPad)
  • Aren’t interested in customisation options
  • Don’t mind receiving a daily email with previews of unread posts
  • Like to share posts across the most popular social media platforms
photo (3)

How Bloglovin’ looks on IOS


How Feedly looks on the computer

How Feedly looks on the computer

Like Bloglovin, you create an account & then add content by searching for your favourite sites in different categories. Upon login, you’ll see a Pinterest-like preview of all unread posts, as well as options in the left sidebar such as “Saved for Later” and “Themes”. Feedly offers more layout customisation, such as changing the background colour & viewing style. Feedly also has more sharing options, to sites such as Buffer, Evernote, Pocket and Instapaper.

Use Feedly if you:

  • Want lots of customisation options
  • Want to be able to read full posts in the reader itself
  • Want to move between posts quickly (this is great on the iPad app as you just swipe upwards)
  • Like posting comments to blogs – the “preview” option is great for this
  • Want to be able to share posts to a wider range of different sites aside from Facebook, Twitter etc

photo (2)Personally, I think I’ll stick with Bloglovin’ – it’s really easy to use, looks great on my iPad and – maybe this makes me lazy! – but it’s just the one I’ve always used. Feedly looks great, but the customisation is really the only main difference between the two. I don’t see any need to change over to Feedly from Bloglovin’ unless customisation is a must. 

What are your thoughts on Bloglovin’ and Feedly?

This week, guest blogging for us, is Will Glover, who has returned to the Twelve team for a few weeks as an intern. Here he considers LinkedIn’s announcement that the social network will be lowering the sign up age to 13 and what impact this might have on the platform.  You can also read Will’s previous entry ‘I am the challenge Marketers face’ if you have time to kill! 

As many of you probably know, LinkedIn, the global professional networking site, has recently opened its doors to teenagers aged 13 and upwards, sparking a great deal of online commentating. Some praise the scheme, most condemn it and the rest, myself included, simply wonder: ‘why?’

At first, their justification for lowering the minimum age required to join the site: encouraging soon-to-be university students to network, seems sensible. Although, having said this, those at a university age are 18 anyway. What I can’t understand is a) how LinkedIn made the leap from undergraduates to 13 year olds and b) why they think said 13 year olds care the slightest bit about networking.

…As Alec Baldwin’s Jack in 30 Rock puts it. Does LinkedIn have the cool factor for 13 year olds?

Unfortunately, the scheme looks to be just another digital gimmick. LinkedIn are not the first to be guilty of this and certainly won’t be the last, but certainly are part of a frustrating trend in the information age to be slightly obsessive about finding new ways of ‘connecting’ and ’sharing’. At the risk of sounding out-of-touch, I wonder how many people get genuinely excited at the latest minor ‘innovation’ in social media.

Don’t get me wrong, sharing information has its place, and Facebook and countless other sites certainly have revolutionised the way we interact with each other. Perhaps we just need to slow down a bit and ask ourselves if the latest bright idea actually has a purpose, or if it is simply another example of social media sites doing something just because it can be.

My catchphrase is ‘they have an algorithm!’ How does Twitter work out its top tweets? – an algorithm. How does Google know what results to show? – an algorithm.

I thought we should take a look at the history of this elusive tech formulae.

Sometime circa 1990 early search engines began cataloging the web. To register, all web people had to do was submit their URL address to the engine which would release a ‘search spider’, like something out the Matrix, to extract links to other pages and return the information to be indexed.

SEO Spiders

A large part of the search formulae relied on meta tags, labelling your webpages with keywords, and your site would slowly work its way up the listings. But this lead to keyword dumping or to a ‘high key word density’ and pages that read like this:

 “We have a variety of inflatable palm trees in stock and these inflatable palm trees are for sale at $14.99. Be sure to pick up your inflatable palm tree today before all the inflatable palm trees are gone. Our inflatable palm trees are flying out the door”

Annoying. And Google thought so to.

It also meant search rank listings were easily manipulated, causing search terms to throw up completely irrelevant pages. Key word dumpling is a technique belonging to ‘black hat’ SEO. (Tactics search engines disapprove of, as opposed to ‘white hat’ methods, like web design, which will cause higher rankings long term.)

So the search engine giant evolved its elusive algorithm to include a trust and credibility measure – that is how many third party sites linked back to content on your webpage.  In the ever-waging battle between SEO manipulators and Google, ‘link farms’, which manufactured backlinks, littered the web to boost rankings.

Now this is where it gets clever, in April 2012, Google released Penguin (named after the black and white hat SEO techniques). The latest algorithm, which not only includes meta tags, backlinks but now social influence. Essentially how many social networking sites you’re linked to, how many people engage and organically spread your content.

Inflatable Palm Trees

Google’s algorithm is now so well-tuned it can provide you with personalised search results which means if we were to both Google ‘Inflatable palm trees’ I can guarantee our top 10 would be different.  Google computes your location, what browser you use, age, other sites you visit to help you find the information you need. Knowledge is now more accessible than ever before.

Is SEO Dead?

SEO Graphics by SEO Book

They say a picture says a thousand words… which explains the infographic trend. That boring climate change report most people would never bother to read is suddenly a pictorial sensation.  Infographics are not simply a tool to jazz up yawn-material but they provide a unique way to disseminate information to a wide audience quickly.

According to Visual.ly‘s definition of the term, infographics must have flow; they are meant to be visualisations of data that present complex information quickly and clearly.

In this post I thought I’d take a look at the top three things which makes an infographic more than a coating of sugary frosting and where they go from here:

1.       We should be content rich…

It’s all about the content!  You can have an absolutely amazing graph, but if the information is pointless, there’s nothing more likely to lose your audience.  Content needs to be relevant and well cited, like this infographic on University Admissions Officer report. Just as stats in a press release should always be referenced. Ultimately, if there’s nothing news worthy about your data, an infograph is not going to grab headlines for you.

Borrowed from terribleinfographics.tumblr.com, this infographic shows us nothing.

C’est la vie!

‘This was in Newsweek with the caption “The majority believe Japan is an innovative country”. Yes, colored circles on graph paper screams innovation.’ Terrible Infographics.

2.       …but our audience is time-poor.

As Freddie Ossburg, in his Guardian piece earlier this year describes, the best examples of infographics are ‘set out to solve or comprehend a problem for time-poor audiences. Companies and brands are moving with the trend of how consumers are digesting information and this movement shows no signs of slowing down.’

In 2012, it was estimated that between 75 to 85 per cent of TV viewers use another screen, whether that be smart phone, tablet or laptop, whilst watching the box[1]. We received five times the amount of information now than we did in 1986 (see final infographic – obviously works!) An infographic needs to cut through all of that and deliver its content almost instantaneously. We know exactly what this baby is talking about instantly…


3.       The future moves

So we’re visual creatures at heart, it takes us 15 milliseconds to digest a symbol.  Yet as infographics grow in popularity, kinaesthetic aspects will become increasingly important to cut through the crowd.  The internet, Web 2.0, has become more interactive with social media, it’s only logical that infographics will incorporate more HTML5, engaging the audience for longer.

To end on a suitable note… a moving infographic about why we love infographics!

13 reasons your brain craves infographics

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.

There have been lots of changes afoot with our most loved social networks recently so here is a quick summary of some of these, and how they might affect you as a user:

{source: mdjensen.com}


Facebook seems to be developing at a rate of knots at the moment, with several changes occurring, some more significant than others.  But most recently:

–                      The Facebook toolbar (which appears across the top of your Facebook news feed) has become locked, so that it continues to appear when you scroll down the page – whether you are on your personal profile or your Facebook business page.  The benefits?  Well it is easier navigation of course….but it is a feature already used by Twitter.

–                      The Facebook subscribe button was launched this week, which allows users to follow the public updates of others, regardless of whether they are facebook ‘friends’ with them.  This can mean a whole host of things, for the celebs amongst us (oh wait, that’s not me really) it can mean that rather than having a personal profile and a fan page, you can have both and just chose which of your updates are public and which are private.  But it could also be a great feature for the average Joe on the street, such as teachers, for example.  Mashable describes it far more succinctly than I could: “Users can subscribe to others without enabling others to subscribe to them. This means teachers can allow their students to follow their public updates about school and classes without actually friending them (and accessing more personal information). That way, students can continue to update friends about their lives without worrying what might pop up in their teachers’ News Feeds.” Useful, huh?  A bit like Twitter (noticing a pattern here) but going that stage further because you can choose for some of your updates to be private whilst others are public for all those that may follow you to consume….



Twitter has also made some interesting advancements:


–                      Twitter announced that it is now available in five additional languages (making the total 17).  The additional languages are simplified and traditional Chinese, Hindi, Tagalog and Malay.  This might not be a move that  effects all of you, but is a necessary one none-the-less….[worth noting that Facebook is available in 70 languages, so Twitter still has a way to go].

–                      A new analytics package has been launched by Twitter to help users understand “How much of their content is being shared on Twitter, how much traffic Twitter is sending their way and how well Tweet Buttons are performing.” I have yet to try out the analytics but this could be a great tool for agencies and in-house PRs that need to provide statistics on their social media activities, watch this space….


Google +

Google + has introduced a map sharing feature that allows you to share directions (and other information) from Google maps, though your Google + accounts – potentially useful for businesses with difficult to find offices…



These are of course just a few of the changes happening, but it is great to see that the big players are not resting on their laurels and continue to develop and improve.  That said, it does feel a little like Facebook and Twitter are in a bit of a war to catch-up and outdo each other, whereas it feels slightly like Google + is actually breaking new ground…..(and let’s not forget that David Cameron, Ed Milliband and Nick Clegg have all ventured into the Google + world).


Do you agree? Or do you feel that Twitter and Facebook are still streets ahead?

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