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… 






20:20 vision

So, Google Glass was released in the UK this week. Somebody should write a blog about it. Wait, somebody did!

Click here to read more.

Social media integrity

Another day, another corporate social media gaffe. Another individual not associated with the organisation, or another account hacked. And apologies to anyone who was offended.

Really? Do you buy that?

Last night Liverpool probably threw away the Barclays Premier League title by blowing a 3 goal lead away to Crystal Palace. Shortly afterwards, the below Vine appeared on the official Tottenham Hotspur account, apparently mocking Liverpool. 


Naturally this was not the fault of the club who are now looking into security issues with their Vine account, adding that it was not tweeted by anyone affiliated to Tottenham Hotspur. 

TH denial

Whether this is true or not, it is very damaging to Tottenham Hotspur, not just because they have effectively admitted they have security issues, but whomever uploaded this in the first place, is hardly in a position to mock in the first place. 

When it comes to crisis management in social media, being honest and displaying integrity is the key to success. It may be true that the Vine account was hacked but it seems too well timed and planned to have been the work of a rogue hacker. I would presume that Spurs have a robust social media policy, strategy and reporting in place, which will surely be able to detect the exact time and ip address of the ‘poster’, which should confirm that the apparent hack was external. If this is not the case, and there is no further statement, and possibly even a restructure of the social media team, then questions will need to be asked of Tottenham Hotspur themselves.

If you do not post with honesty and integrity, and admit mistakes, you leave your brand exposed and lose a lot of trust and confidence within your market place. Is it worth the risk? 


Ask the audience?

Everton football club? Dear oh dear?

If it wasn’t bad enough losing your manager of 11 years to Manchester United, they’ve managed to round off the month with an online petition, signed by 23,000 fans, informing the club that they won’t buy any more merchandise until they change the newly launched badge.

Now, regardless of what you think of football fans, you cannot deny that they are a vocal organised bunch. And they are fully engaged with social media. Everton themselves have nearly 330,000 likes on Facebook alone – about 10 times their average home support!

So why on earth did Everton’s marketing team not think to ask the fans what they’d like? It would have been easy and cheap to run a campaign asking fans to select the new club logo, and if there was any disquiet following the verdict, the club could easily say that the fans made the decision.

Now, Everton, the self proclaimed ‘peoples club’ will be running with the new logo for one season, before changing logo again, at greater cost.

Fortunately for the club, football fans are a fairly loyal bunch and will forgive and forget but this is a valuable lesson for any firm looking to make a dramatic change to your product – ask the audience.


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.