The Referendum

Two years ago, I wrote a blog about the social media impact on the US Presidential Election, where I made a confident prediction on who would win based on the mobilisation of ground troops online, with a basic understanding of how to engage prospective voters – which resulted in me receiving torrents of abuse from angry Republicans, after I eloquently argued that their candidate, and the people running his campaign, were not quite up to speed digitally. In the end I was proved right, and found my blog second in the search results for ‘why Mitt Romney will lose the Election’. A small victory I feel.

Tomorrow, the people of my country, Scotland, go to the polls to decide whether they want to remain part of the UK, or whether they want to be an Independent government. Now, I’m not going to regurgitate the respective arguments or even pick a preference, rather I’m going highlight that digital disruption is kicking into the media, the government and the pollsters, which has left us in a situation where the result is not quite as cut and dried as they think.

Furthermore, and I feel I need to say this following the fallout of the Romney blog, I am expressing NO POLITICAL OPINION OR PREFERENCE WITHIN THIS POST. I AM MERELY MAKING OBSERVATIONS FROM A PROFESSIONAL POINT OF VIEW. 

Over the past two years, opinion polls have confidently predicted a No vote, the government has outlined why Scotland can’t be Independent and the media have published it. But, despite all the negativity regarding defence, Oil, health and currency, support for the Yes campaign has steadily grown. In fact, two weeks ago, opinion polls for the first time recognised that the Yes campaign might win. Which prompted panic within the establishment. Opinion polls are currently predicting a result that is only just in favour of a No vote. But what is the basis of these predictions? Street surveys? Telephone polls?

Have they not looked online?

Approximately 50% of the Scottish population have a Facebook account and with 97% of those eligible to vote registered to vote, and a predicted turnout of over 85%, the pollsters, government and the media appear to have only recently noticed what is actually going on online.

There were more than 8.5 million Facebook interactions regarding the Referendum, in Scotland, in the 5 weeks to September 8th. Of these interactions, the Yes campaign is clearly in the lead, thanks in part to their mobilisation of ground troops, engaging, discussing and debating the key issues of the debate. Within the same time frame, almost 90% of discussions regarding the referendum on Twitter, were pro Yes.

Often dismissed, by the No campaign as ‘Cyber Nats’, the Yes campaigners have managed to use digital channels to reach out to audiences that would not normally vote, and also engage with first time voters – 16 and 17 year old’s will be eligible to vote. The Yes campaign have posted 4 to 5 times more to Facebook than the No campaign, and leader of the Yes campaign, Alex Salmond even participated in a live Facebook Q&A with the electorate, that attracted over 5000 questions. Those in business know how effective it can be to talk directly to your customers. Clearly this tactic has worked for the Yes campaign. 

What is particularly interesting is that this has barely been reported by the media, until very recently. The newspaper industry has been decimated by digital disruption. Their print circulation is down and loyalty to one particular news source is rare. The public now have the choice to make informed decisions and review the opinions of multiple news sources, rather than consulting just one source. As a result, Facebook and Twitter are now news hubs, where content is aggregated, enabling people to make more informed decisions. The coordinated Yes campaign has tapped into this by displaying complete transparency and promoting a positive message, which resonates far more with digital natives, rather than the negative messages from the No campaign.

Ultimately, I hope for a high turnout tomorrow and for the people who live in Scotland to make the right choice for their future, whatever that may be.

But I believe the battle will be won or lost online… 






Instabooked or Facetagrammed?

You may recall that back in April, Facebook paid an eye watering billion dollars for photography app Instagram. At the time it seemed like an unbelievable amount of money for, what is in effect, a free app. At the time there were around 30 million active Instagram users. Since then however, this has shot up to over 100 million active users worldwide, who are in fact, far more engaged with Instagram than Twitter users are with Twitter.

Pretty cool huh?

Prior to the takeover, Instagram had a link up with Facebook and Twitter than enabled you to take a photo, manipulate it and post it to your Instagram account, with the option to post your photo to your choice of social networks. This functionality, aside from an aesthetic change here or there has been pretty much the norm for Instagram since the takeover. Until now… Smartphone users, have you been given the option to update your Facebook phone app over the past week? If you haven’t updated it, and particularly, if you’re a fan of Instagram, you might want to consider it. Why? Because they’ve only just gone and integrated Instagram functionality into Facebook photos! So, you can now crop and manipulate your photos accordingly…

And what’s more, you can also change the tint on your photos with Instagram manipulation:

So obviously this is all good for Facebook but what does this mean for the stand alone Instagram app? Hard to tell with Facebook sometimes? I think it’ll exist for the time being as a means of bringing new people into the Facebook world, but I would expect that in the long term it’ll be killed off. Whilst it’s got a long way to go before it starts delivering a return on investment for Facebook, this new functionality is only going to increase user experience satisfaction on Facebook. Zuckerberg, you’ve done it again!

Two steps forward/ one step back

What a day for Apple eh? New iPhone released, new iOS6 rolling out, killing off the original iPad and a split with Google.

What topic to address first? I’ll park the death of the original iPad and the new iPhone for another day and focus on the new iOS6 software and the split with Google.

Oh, you missed the split with Google? Funny that Apple didn’t really want to make big deal of that isn’t it?

If you upgraded your iPhone to iOS6, you’ll have noticed at least three things have happened.

Firstly, Facebook upgraded itself with a new contact sync, which, if you didn’t manually update your contact details on your Facebook page, when Facebook slyly gave you an domain back in April, which will in effect remove your Gmail as a method of contact, from your friends contact list.

Secondly, and this is a good thing, they removed the Youtube app. Let’s not beat around the bush, it was crap. Had about a third of the content of Youtube available and wasn’t really mobile optimised in terms of functionality.

Thirdly, and this is the really crap thing, they removed the maps app. Big mistake as the new Apple map is poor. It’s out of date, has poor imaging, wrong locations and inadequate search. As soon as Google launch an actual map app, I’ll be downloading it. Yes, the Apple map will improve, but it’s going to be tough to improve on something that is way ahead of it.

The real disappointing thing is how out of date it is. Just look at the below photos. On the left is the Olympic park on Apple maps and the right is Google. On the right you’ll see an all singing and all dancing Olympic park and on the left you’ll see a contruction site.

Poor show Apple. Poor show.

If something is free, it’s because you are the product

I’ve said it before and considering the number of people whining about changes to Twitter, advertising on Facebook, updates to your iPhone or any other changes to a digital platform, blah blah blah, over the past week, I feel a need to say it again…

If something is free, it’s because you are the product.

If you don’t like it, you can leave. You have the choice. Now, stop complaining please.

Why Facebook email is utterly pointless… or is it?

Remember how literally 8 people were up in arms at Facebook having the temerity to change their contact email address from gmail/hotmail/yahoo to earlier this year? How dare they? And it only takes a second or two to change your email address back. Outrageous that you could have read 2 lines of a blog post on squirrels or cyber stalked someone for 30 seconds in that time!

Anyway, for those of you whom I’m connected to on Facebook, from time to time, we do engage on the Facebook messenger system, which is essentially the framework of the Facebook email. Earlier today, I received an email which amused me and rather than email it to people directly, I decided that I’d forward it on to my ‘Facebook’ email address and circulate it amongst my Facebook friends. Except that you can’t. As I have set up my Facebook settings so that I can only accept email from people I’m connected to, my email bounced back, as my social self is obviously not connected to my work self. I appreciate that from a messenger point of view, you don’t want to be contacted by complete randoms, but having a restricted access email address just seems nuts to me. Or is it? Just think, when was the last time that you logged into your gmail/hotmail/yahoo and had to filter through spam (not as much as before), Groupon updates, Ticketmaster updates and emails from apps that you’ve already received on your phone (talking to you Songkick!) before finding that email from a friend? Instead with Facebook email you get unadulterated, filtered contact with actual people that you actually know and are connected to! Put that way, it sounds ace doesn’t it?

Email is dead, long live the Fmail!

By the way… if any of you want to see the aforementioned email, DM me with your non Facebook email address and I’ll forward it on to you…