A prefect's musings on digital and social media

Category Archives: Social Media – Facebook/Twitter etc.

This month, Holly, our intern and recent graduate in Psychology from Warwick University takes a look at what Facebook knows about you…


You may have recently read about Facebook’s controversial study on emotion which involved manipulating the content of nearly 700,00 users’ newsfeeds to include either more positive or more negative posts. US privacy pressure group, Epic, filed an official complaint demanding that the US Federal Trade Commission (FTC) investigate Facebook’s actions. In some ways, it was the last straw for many of us who already feel an invasion of privacy from these social media giants.

Most of us are aware of the potential pitfalls when using social media; a lack of privacy, questions over content ownership, possible damage to your career…the list is endless. It gets confusing when we happily use these networks only to later discover the true extent to which some corporations collect and store our personal data.

Research from Skandia reveals only 7per cent of Britons read the terms and conditions of a service before registering. Comforting to know I’m not the only one but shocking nonetheless! Some may argue that this lack of attention to detail should automatically waiver our right to privacy but will this jolt you into pledging to read through hundreds of conditions?

Facebook may also have contradicted themselves: for years, users have asked for a ‘dislike’ button and for years Facebook has refused. They argue that “Facebook tends to focus on positive social interactions and ways to express positive sentiment.” Surely the nature of this study falls short of their previous positivity?

Having studied Psychology at university, I’ve had all the basic Psychological ethical issues drilled into me. All participants should give informed consent for their data to be collected and analysed. Although this may bias results, a lack of it goes against all ethical standards of Psychological practice. There are also growing fears that the data collected could be used for other unethical activities such as voter manipulation during political campaigns.

Perhaps we’ll never discover just how much Facebook knows about us. Will this study stop the 1.28 billion users that currently the site almost everyday? I don’t think so. I think our love for sharing, liking and communicating is sure to triumph any feelings of betrayal.

Inevitably, the furore over this topic will peter out into murmurs of disagreement and disgust. And where exactly will all this occur? Why, on Facebook of course.

To read more on this subject, and understand just what this snapshot of metrics from Buzzfeed means-  its data they collect about you! – check out this blog post http://barker.co.uk/buzzfeediswatching

Screen Shot 2014-07-24 at 13.51.40


Are selfies the new Marmite? Some people love them and some people hate them but one thing is for sure – selfies are here to stay. There’s even been a song written in homage to them.

Warning: extremely catchy and there is a medium to high possibility of your eardrum breaking.


Don’t say I didn’t warn you.

Now, to truly understand the obsession and recent social acceptance of selfies we’ve got to rewind to where it all began…. 1839. Yes that’s right, selfies are not a 21st century discovery. In fact we actually owe our current obsession to Robert Cornelieus, an American pioneer of photography. Oh Robert, some would argue he started a surge in self-confidence whilst others would say self-obsession.

Despite the first official selfie being taken in 1839 the trend only really burst onto the viral stage in 2012. By the end of  the year, the Times Magazine had declared the term ‘selfie’ one of the top ten buzzwords.


Shocking selfies

Many people have their doubts about selfies, with some even going as far to say that they can lead to severe problems such as anorexia and depression.  How can a simple selfie be capable of such damage? Recently, news broke of a teenager, Danny Bowman, from Newcastle upon Tyne, who attempted suicide after struggling with crippling body image and anorexia. On ITV’s ‘This Morning’, Bowman said his decline into body obsession originated with selfies. Here’s a video of Danny Bowman on ‘This Morning’ explaining how his obsession with selfies had major consequences…


Statistics from the National Children’s Bureau were incredible,  with seventy per cent of adult women and forty per cent of adult men feeling pressured from television and magazines to have a perfect body. Selfies and these statistics are contribute to this pressure and desire to look ‘socially acceptable’ in this new and obsessive culture.


Impressive Impact

However, there is always a positive and selfies are no exception. These controversial photographs can be snapshots and memories just like normal pictures; selfies are just the modern 21st century update.

In fact, selfies have achieved much more than previous crazes. In March 2014, Cancer Research launched the campaign ‘No make-up selfies’ on social media sites like Facebook, Instagram and Twitter. In six days women took selfies without makeup and uploaded them to social media sites and then donated to the charity via text. These quick, easy and simple selfies raised £8 million. The campaign went viral as women uploaded their selfie nominating others to continue the chain.  All of this was achieved through the medium of selfies. A rather impressive feat for ‘just’ another viral phenomenon.

no makeup selfies

Top: Michelle Heaton, Holly Willoughby and Kym Marsh in their no-makeup selfies. Below: how they usually appear

cancer research

Cancer Research Representative

Selfies are part of our viral existence and despite negative drawbacks, selfies have achieved a lot more than other previous crazes. I mean, even Oscar winning celebrities have gotten in on the act.  This is probably the most famous and record-breaking selfie  with an incredible 3, 404, 230 million retweets!


Selfies have made it. Made it through the one-hit wonder auditions. Made it into the semi-finals of up and coming trends. Finally, selfies exploded onto the final viral stage alongside hashtags and tweeps before taking home the grand prize of social acceptance.

Congratulations selfies –  you’ve made it.



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:

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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.

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

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.

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