Thursday, 26 February 2009

YouTube, Facebook, BBC, Reuters discuss social media

The top bods from these four media brands talked social media at yesterday's TFM&A conference in London's Earls Court. I've paraphrased some sound bites from each of them.

Keynote title: Getting Social Media Marketing to Deliver Real Business Results
Watch entire thing online: Seminar Streams (needs free login), Digital Training (nothing there yet).

Four employees from YouTube, Facebook, BBC and Reuters

The individuals were, from left to right:
  • The host, Danny Meadows-Klue (standing)
  • Bruce Daisley, Google’s Head of Agencies, YouTube
  • Stephen Haynes, UK Sales Director, Facebook
  • Tim Faircliff, General Manager, Reuters.
  • Pete Clifton, Head of Editorial Development, BBC
How does social media marketing deliver real business results?

If it’s not helpful & interesting to the user, a blog or whatever is pointless. You need to ensure frequency and content.

You must maintain focus with UGC [user generated content]. Innovation will happen so we can’t avoid the use of UGC and all its associated technologies. We must therefore control the risk while riding with it.

"I report to a 24 year old!"
We rely on simplicity. Our marketing / product page that people can become fans of are just simple templates given away for free.

The best social media has a purpose i.e. Flickr (images), YouTube (videos). It’s not about control – you can’t have that – it’s about engaging in dialogue.

The brand and social media

Your customers own the brand not you. You must understand this to engage in UGC. Once you accept this you can enter into meaningful dialogue

Future plans and Twitter

We have to reach as many people in the UK as possible as we are funded by licence payer’s money. We realise that to reach them we must let more content go. This includes allowing embedding and downloading of videos so they can be used elsewhere.

Twitter opens up the conversation – I don’t just mean ‘Twitter’ but this form of interaction. It’s about engaging with customers first and foremost, not just being cool and trendy.

Twitter is a really good feedback tool for us. It’s often used by bloggers writing a post to ask their followers, for example, ‘what do you think about this new software’.

What's the next big thing in 2009 for social media?

In 2009 there will be more ideas and companies using the social space in different ways. There will be a huge increase in Facebook users.
Ad formats are changing and they will start to recognise what users are doing.
[I mentioned that ad's need to change over a year ago]

I agree, ad formats will change. The AOP [which he is a part of] is also looking at this. There will become more business models in social media – for example Spotify – check it out if you haven’t already.

"I’ll be dead."
And I agree with ad formats. The BBC will embrace more facebook style functionality. We’ll try and join up users and preserve the time they spend on the site. Get users to suggest other areas of the site, improve areas, etc.
[This explains the recent increase in "most popular stories now" from 5 to 10]

There will be an on location explosion. Mobile use is already showing the importance of location based stuff such as Google Latitude knowing where you are by using GPS. You will be able to track your friend’s whereabouts. iPhoto is already making use of the inbuilt GPS that some phone cameras have and embed in photos.

Related posts
Stop poking me, I'm bored of Facebook (Aug 07)
Can social networking sites afford to bank on future success? (Dec 07)
Everyone's bored of social networking (Jan 08)
16 weird but amusing Twitterer accounts (Feb 09)
Monitor the online buzz around your brand (May 09)

Tuesday, 24 February 2009

Thursday, 19 February 2009

Search images by the colours within them

My colleague showed me a really fascinating image search by colour that indexes 10 million Flickr images and allows search based on colour.

For example here are the results for the colour blue:
Image search results for the colour blue

And I can break down these results even more by adding the colour red:

Image search results for the colour blue and red
The people who made this Flickr image search are "developers of advanced image recognition and visual search software" and i've also discovered another search engine they have called TinEye which searches for copies of an image you give it. Handy for copyright checking.

Image search is a fascinating subject and one that hasn't really grown up as much as text search. Things like Google Image Search are very much based on titles of images, related text, alt tags and link anchor text because of course search engine spiders traditionally only read text and can't 'view' images like a human can. STOP PRESS - Update: Google have just launched search by colour on Google Image Search.

Google Image Labeler is one method of getting round this problem - using humans to tell the computer what things are through the use of a simple game. Using humans to categorise images is a simple way to better search - Wikimedia Commons has a nice tidy pile of multimedia all categorised and named up as appropriate.

However I do like the idea of trying to search images in different ways - by using colours like the above example is one way - perhaps by the angles contained within the picture? Perhaps a search could be created that 'recognises' commonly seen shapes - such as buildings, cars, people, animals, hair, pornography!

Related posts
Is structured data the future of search? (Mar 2010)
Don't just have alt tags on images, include height and width too (Nov 2007)
Give images rounded edges using Photoshop (Nov 2007)

Tuesday, 17 February 2009

BBC increase most read stories to top 10

Shock horror! The BBC has changed it's top 5 most read to a top 10. OK, really it's not that exciting despite the fact that many SEOers and usability people tend to hang on the BBC website's every move.

I can understand why, they have the space, it encourages click-through, increases average page depth per visit. An easy decision really, wonder why they took this long?

Not quite sure why they haven't changed the most emailed to a top 10 yet though, maybe they're worried about people manipulating it, like me!

The "most popular stories now" as of 3.20pm 17th February 2009*
BBC's top 5 most emailed
The top 5 most emailed
BBC's top 10 most read
The top 10 most read

*And in the time it's taken me to write this post it's gone back to a top 5 again, how very strange, maybe it was a glitch? They really should make it a top 10 though, take this fumble as fate.

*And it's back to top 10 again as i write the following morning (18th Feb). Email still top 5.

Update: A few days after writing this post I heard the BBC's head of editorial development, Pete Clifton, speak at a conference and he stated the BBC's current aim of trying to increase time on site through user involvement and related stories - which explains this.

Related posts
Online popularity culture is killing good journalism - writing content for the benefit of most read and most emailed widgets
Feedjit widget provides your site's most popular pages

16 weird but amusing Twitterer accounts

There are loads of weird Twitterers on Twitter that aren't 'real people'. Here are my top 16 weird, strange but interesting and occasionally amusing Twitterers.

1. NASA - Many of NASA's projects, robots and spaceships are twittering. My favourites being the Mars Rovers. Unfortunately it's not written from the rover's point of view but via the team on earth, still interesting though.
"Better news from Spirit: She found the sun, just not where she expected. I'm sure it happens to all of us :) Diagnosis continues."
The Twitterzoo of animals are in the main particularly boring, probably as they're relying on the wit of their owners as opposed to the animal's own sense of humour. Something i feel would be hilarious but obviously restricted by the difficulty cats find typing. A selection of the better include:

2. Ghost of Peter, ghostofpeter - a deceased cat
"Having a cat icon/avatar does not make you a cat. Peeps with cat pics need to self-identify as NON-CATS, cause it's confusing. Really."
Rudy the Parrot in suitcase3. Rudy the Parrot, RudyTheParrot - does some good twitpicing
"i found another cave! THIS ONE HAS WHEELS"
4. Sockington the Cat, sockington - one of the better tweeting 'alive' cats
"waiting waiting waiting waiting waiting ah here you are JUMPING UP THE STAIRCASE AWAY FROM YOU wasn't that awesome"
5. Ridley the Dog, ridley - Not as good as the cat, plus seems more like a dog obsessed owner than somebody really understanding the mind of a canine, i prefer his twittering tongue.

6. Gallacher the Horse, Gallacher_Horse - do i need explain?
"I had to chase a big duck out my field today. It looked like it was up to no good. It should stay on the pond. Fields aren't for swimming in"
Whale at Museum of National History, New York 7. Whale at the Museum of Natural History in New York, nathistorywhale - the deadest of all the animals has the most character.
"Just saw a boy put his gum in his sister's hair and she didn't notice! Kinda wish I could follow them out of this room to see what happens."
8. A guys liver - iamgordonsliver
"I can't feel my fingers!!! Oh wait, I don't have any."
There's also a lot of film and TV characters on Twitter, the 'official' ones tend to peddle DVDs and cinema releases and in the whole don't provide the real character you'd hope twitter could expose. The fake ones on the other hand have no boundaries, which is nice.

9. Indiana Jones, IndianaJones - official (i think)
"At a midnight showing of my new documentery... there are alot of people here dressded like me so no one has recognized me yet!"
10. Darth Vader, darthvader - fake?
"Come to the Dark Side: We have Cake -"
11. Borat, Borat
"wtf my cat turned into christian bale and knocked over my lamp."
You can go wild on this line of Twitter thinking with this post on more fictional characters and another on fake twitterers, characters and people.

Now onto automated Twitterers, these are not people pretending to be animals, characters or robots but non-human Twitterers that run themselves, as if by magic.

12. Plants that Tweet - The plant twitter phenomenon was started by New York University’s Interactive Telecommunications Program Botanicalls group. They sell a Botanicalls Kit that lets your plant tell you when it needs watering based on moisture levels. See the original, pothos, in action.
"You didn't water me enough."
Tower Bridge 13. Tower Bridge, London, towerbridge - An automated Twitter-bridge that muses on the comings and goings of ships.
"I am opening for the SB Will, which is passing upstream."
Update: 13.5! London Bridge, London, ImLondonBridge - A piss taking bridge that directs a lot of abuse at TowerBridge.
"Yaaaaawn. That was a good sleep. What did I miss? Did @towerbridge do something interesting? No, I expect not."
14. Retweeters - There's a few twitter accounts set up purely to retweet other users based on the content. A funny and admittedly childish one is farted, the tweets on the page should explain which word it's retweeting.
"Someone, not me, just farted in at Leon. It stinks a lot."
15. Turn your lights off - Not a twitterer as such but a method to turn off your house lights using twitter.

16. Bizarre news, offbeat - An honourable mention goes to Offbeat News, a Twitterer providing a whole host of links to middle of newspaper, cat up a tree style news.
"Thousands of shoes tie up Miami freeway"
More posts that i raided for this blog post:

Friday, 6 February 2009

Growing strange cacti

This is just a quick post with a few resources on growing cacti, especially weird ones!

This post is also a test post to prove the effectiveness of title tags and keyword optimisation on getting to number one in Google for a fairly obscure keyword phrase.

By ensuring the exact phrase (and variations) is in the title tag and is in the page copy you can reach the top of Google.*

*Obviously in the case of the keyword term I've chosen there's a danger that Google may see me as trying to spam their search engine unless the page actually contains content focused towards it.

Therefore i will actually provide some resources on rare cacti and their cultivation. Hopefully anyone actually looking for growing information or a Google employee won't think i'm a complete d*ckhead trying to do some dodgy black hat SEO as the page is also the most relevant to that term (i've checked, no other page or post covers cactus growth like this one, honest!).
Also, if like me you want to know what a 'succulent' is here's the Wikipedia definition:
"Succulent plants store water in their leaves, stems and/or roots. The storage of water often gives succulent plants a more swollen or fleshy appearance than other plants, also known as succulence."
As of 16th Feb this post was the first result in Google for the term "Growing strange cacti" (in quotations).

Related posts
Finding keywords for Google Adwords (Jul 2007)
How to optimise your PDFs for SEO (Oct 2008)
Is the Google Keyword Tool any use for SEO? (Nov 2010)