Shift Happens Revisted, Again and Again

Web 2.0 or social media is predicated on the use and re-use of information, data, creative output and ideas in ever new versions – Baudrillard would be proud!. True to form, then, a newer, cleaner and probably more aesthetically coherent version of Karl Fisch's Shift Happens presentation is now available.

For those who have not seen this, it is a jaw-droppingly powerful presentation of raw facts placed within a context which is knowable (or at least more familiar) to us. It is, at once, a story that we know and one that we struggle to comprehend. And once you have seen it, your concept of "globalisation" is never quite the same again.

Are You Going to Blogger Social 09?

BS09 - blog badge Attending Blogger Social last year was certainly one of my personal highlights. It was a weekend of great activity and excitement set in New York with exclusive access to some of the most interesting (and friendly) bloggers from around the world – and it is a fantastic opportunity to meet face-to-face with people who you normally only converse with online.

This year, Blogger Social is being held in Boston, and Drew McLellan and Lori Magno are putting together a weekend of knock-out socialising – lasting from April 3 through to April 5. BUT just like last year, places are limited to 100. So, if you want to go, make sure you get over to the Blogger Social site and register. The price is $350 for all activities across the weekend – and Drew and Lori have organised some great accommodation discounts.

Facebook Turns the Other Cheek

Yesterday, after writing this post suggesting that Facebook’s changes to the terms of service would adversely impact bloggers and agencies, I joined the People Against the News Terms of Service (TOS) Facebook group. This group, created by Anne Petteroe, gained the ear of the Facebook management, and submitted “Three big questions for Facebook”. These were canvassed from the rapidly growing group membership – which at this point stands at over 60,000 members (and continues to grow).

This group, along with the many blog posts and a burgeoning Twitter stream convinced the Facebook management team to revert to their previous terms of use. The above announcement will appear when you next login to Facebook – giving you the option of joining the Facebook Bill of Rights and Responsibilities group – and contributing to the discussion. Interestingly, it has taken a large scale backlash (again) for Facebook to actually listen, notify and begin to engage with the members who are the foundations on which their success is based. There are clear lessons for any business here.

So, what were the three big questions for Facebook? Anne put the following forward to the Facebook management team:

3 Big Questions for Facebook:
To Mr. Zuckerberg and the Facebook Legal Team,
After reviewing and categorizing the responses from the protest group members, please see the following 3 major issues that we would like to see addressed, by you, and resolved through modification of Facebook’s Terms of Service:
1. Advertising and Commercial Rights:
“If the TOS doesn’t mean I give Facebook the rights to use pictures of my family/friends/kids why does it give so many people that impression? Will I wind up seeing pictures of my niece staring at me from a bus stop at some point and be told I shoulda read the fine print?”
~ Rich Griffith
“Let’s say that 10 years down the road, I become famous. Let’s also say that, despite Mark Zuckerberg’s well-intentioned promise, a large multinational corporation buys out Facebook…per these new TOS, my likeness, photographs, etc, could then be used, for all eternity, to hock Sony products in any way they want.”
~ Brian (Coast Guard Academy)
2. Bands, Artists, Photographers, Writers, Filmmakers etc:
“For a [band \ artist \ photographer \ writer \ filmmaker] with a page on Facebook, there may be no privacy settings (i.e., everyone can see your page). What stops Facebook from distributing the [artistic works] posted on Facebook band pages for profit?”
~ Matteo
3. “Share” on Facebook:
“Many bloggers submit their blog content to their profiles via RSS or by third party applications – or even using Notes. In many instances, blog content is licensed under Creative Commons, however, it appears that this content would also fall under the terms of service.”
~ Gavin (Australia)
“[One could argue] in a credible sounding way that your Terms of … lay claim to content provided on a third party site if that site uses a ‘Share on Facebook’ link. Is this true? If so, how do you intend to remedy it?”
~ Jim (Raleigh / Durham, NC)
We are aware that Facebook’s CEO and its other representatives have clarified the company’s intent on the use and ownership of User Content. However, these assurances aside, Mr. Zuckerberg himself has called the legal language in the TOS “overly formal and protective.” Sasha Frere-Jones of The New Yorker has characterized his reply as “the modern version of ‘Ignore the fine print, ma’am, just sign here.’”
Regardless of Facebook’s current intent, the legal language in the Terms of Service must be changed in order to address the above issues. As Facebook is a leader in Social Media, doing so well help to set an industry-wide standard for user content use for other online services providers. Consumers cannot be expected to rest on the assurances of the good intentions of companies without having any kind of enforceable legal recourse. As we all know, corporate strategies adjust, CEO’s change, Boards of Directors shuffle and companies get bought out. We’re just looking for some legal assurances in writing that if and when that happens, we won’t be left in the cold.
~ Facebook Users Against the New Terms of Service – 02/16/2009

Connect! Countind Down for the Project 100

Some time back, Jeff Caswell put a call out for contributions to an Age of Conversation collaborative book. The topic? Marketing in the Social Media Era.

This new book, Connect! challenges 100 marketers from around the world, to keep their chapters to 400 words – and still challenge, provoke and inspire readers. The aim of the whole project is to raise funds for research into breast cancer.

I must admit really enjoying being just a contributor to this book and savoured the moment of emailing my contribution through to Jeff, knowing that the hard work was now just beginning. The book itself will launch on April 6.

Opinion or Hate Mongering?

Further to my post on the atrocious piece by Miranda Devine and the Reason I Unsubscribed from the Sydney Morning Herald, the folks over at ABC TV's Media Watch weighed into the debate asking whether this type of article is opinion or hate mongering. 

I noticed a number of comments on Twitter as the program aired. But the video is now available on the ABC TV website, so you can see the segment for yourself here.

The article itself, the illustration used in the original piece and the editorial decision to place the article on the front page of the Sydney Morning Herald website were discussed. Note that the image in question has now been removed from the website. Calling out the noted "hanging from lamp-posts" quote, Jonathan Holmes suggests:

That's not opinion-writing, Miranda. That's hate-mongering.
You and your paper, which saw fit to blazon your ugly piece across the front page of its website, should both be ashamed of yourselves.

Now, if only the ABC would allow their media player to be embeddable … 

Facebook Strategy? Bloggers, Agencies Beware!

If you have ever been in a meeting about digital media, at some point you will have heard the words "Facebook strategy". It probably came after my other two favourite words “viral vieo”.

Now, the reason that these words are so needlessly bandied about is that marketers understand one thing – the need to reach an audience. So with any number of reports indicating that people are switching off their TVs and turning on their PCs, there is little wonder that social networks hold us all in their thrall.

As a result, we are seeing individuals, businesses and agencies developing campaigns designed to do deep-dive into the socially-networked world (check out Julian Cole’s very handy list of Facebook campaigns). These executions bring brands up-close-and-personal – often employing the mechanisms (such as “friending and un-friending”) used by Facebook as part of the engagement strategy – see the Sacrifice 10 Friends for a Whopper campaign by Burger King.

A core component of these campaigns is the concept of “co-creation”. That means that content is produced by the participant (ie the holder of the Facebook profile) and the brand and/or Facebook. But a recent change in the Facebook Terms of Service sounds a potential death knell to such projects.

As Chris Walters explains:

Now, anything you upload to Facebook can be used by Facebook in any way they deem fit, forever, no matter what you do later. Want to close your account? Good for you, but Facebook still has the right to do whatever it wants with your old content. They can even sublicense it if they want.

Split.This has huge ramifications for individuals who regularly upload photos, personal movies and so on to Facebook – after all, you will no longer be able to OWN your content. How would you feel about seeing your newborn child’s face on some advertising for Facebook? How would you like your wedding photo being used to promote a Dating application? I am sure you can see where I am going with this …

Now flip it over. How will marketers react when told by their agency that the content from a recent campaign is being used in unsanctioned ways? What happens if there is a retraction required (after all, the content remains the property of Facebook in perpetuity)? How will your brand and reputation be managed well into the future?

And what about bloggers who use a variety of applications to post their RSS feeds? Sure, like me, you may license your content under Creative Commons – but this changes everything.

This change in the Facebook Terms of Service is a significant about face in the way in which Facebook treats its members. It may be too late for the content that I ALREADY have on my profile, but I will clearly be more SELECTIVE about the content I upload in the future. Because I won’t just be uploading, I will be GIVING it away.

UPDATE: You can join the People Against the New Terms of Service Facebook Group and join the discussion with the Facebook spokesman, Barry Schnitt.

Some Big Moves in Australian Social Media

Here in Australia, there has been a noticeable change in the velocity of conversation around digital and social media in the last six to twelve months. I no longer have the explain “blogging” to every person that I meet. When I speak or do guest lectures, the majority of the audience acknowledge their use of “Web 2.0” in the shape of Flickr, YouTube or even Delicious accounts. And Twitter – well, even the Australian Prime Minister, Kevin Rudd (or his minders) tweet from time to time.

Late last year I suggested that social media was showing signs of “mainstreaming”, but there was little to show by way of corporate marketing adoption. Certainly, the folks at Telstra were leading the way, but there were few others following in their wake.

LikeOMG-ianAnnouncement But in the last 24 hours we have seen some interesting announcements that will impact the local agency space quite considerably. During the Sydney Twestival –a global charity event promoted exclusively via Twitter networks (and organised in Sydney by the good folks at – Amnesia Razorfish announced that Ian Lyons had been appointed Social Media Director. This announcement brings additional depth to an already impressive social media team.

LikeOMG-jyeAnnouncement But the good news doesn’t end there. This morning, another of our coffee morning crew, Jye Smith, unveiled his new direction. On Monday, Jye takes on social media for Switched On Media. Again, this announcement was made via Twitter.

It is great to see agencies selecting some top line talent to lead their social media efforts. Now, it’s over to the corporates. Wonder who will be first. Oh, and in case you had not realised – the revolution will not be televised, but it will be tweeted. Get your shirt from Mark Hancock.

Miranda Divine is the Reason I Unsubscribed from the Sydney Morning Herald

change is inevitableThere are many places where the “future of newspapers” is debated. It happens in the New York Times, on Twitter, on and on blogs, broadsheets and in back rooms. For the most part, I stay out of these conversations – clearly the publishing industry is under pressure and undergoing significant structural change (as it has been for well over 20 years), and we all have vested interests somewhere here.

My media consumption these days is mostly digital. This includes a large variety of online sources of news and information – but it also includes the Sydney Morning Herald’s website – where today, I stumbled upon this piece from Miranda Devine.

I was surprised at the tone and at the argument. At a time where the forest fires are still burning in Victoria, and containment lines being threatened, it not only seems too early to begin pointing fingers, it seems astounding that anyone would absolve any arsonist from responsibility. Miranda Devine begins her article, Green ideas must take blame for deaths as follows:

It wasn't climate change which killed as many as 300 people in Victoria last weekend. It wasn't arsonists …

And continues:

So many people need not have died so horribly. The warnings have been there for a decade. If politicians are intent on whipping up a lynch mob to divert attention from their own culpability, it is not arsonists who should be hanging from lamp-posts but greenies.

Kieran Bennett has written a response, that is well worth reading.

Over the years I have enjoyed reading the Sydney Morning Herald, but have watched it become increasingly focused on lifestyle and opinion over the news and reportage that most interests me. I still have the weekend papers delivered to my door but find that I am leaving large sections wholly untouched every weekend. But after this article, I am cancelling my subscription. If this is where the future of newspapers is going, then they can go there without my interest or patronage.

Of course, I may end up being scornfully quoted on the Herald site in response. But by then, I will have been long disconnected from the Sydney Morning Herald and all who write for it.

UPDATE: Frank Sting writes an open letter to the Sydney Morning Herald Editor. You can read it here.

Why the Social Media Edge Will Transform Marketing

Often when I tell people the name of my blog, Servant of Chaos, they take a step back. It seems that the word “chaos” carries with it connotations of danger or disruption. And yet, this is not the case – the “chaos” of which I speak is not anarchy. It is more aligned to chaos theory which is, in reality,  about “finding the underlying order in apparently random data”.

Chaos Theory socks finished!By recognising the patterns within data – whether that data is demographic, technological, individual or corporate – we are able to bring sense to what we see. We can do so, because the interconnected patterns of data provide direction – allowing us to anticipate trends and potential outcomes. And this approach can be applied to understanding changes in individual or group behaviour, society or even global economies undergoing significant change or crisis.

In this fascinating article, How to Bring the Edge to the Core, John Hagel, John Seely Brown and Lang Davison, explain how this works:

We believe there is a sense-making pattern that can help us understand how change takes place in the economy. This pattern is "edge transforms the core."

Applying this thinking to marketing and social media, there are clear parallels. When we look across the marketing landscape, we can see disruption occurring on a number of levels:

  • Content production – user generated content is challenging the might of established publishers for relevance
  • Content filtering – with trust evaporating, populations are exercising social judgement, turning to networks of loosely connected individuals for trust-based decisionmaking (eg purchasing, recommendation, trial etc)
  • Distribution – peer-to-peer, digital and a plethora of user instigated distribution channels have invalidated the modes of distribution that have held sway over the last 50 years
  • Context – our view of the world is increasingly framed and reframed by the networks and communities in which we have invested trust and social capital.

These changes are occurring most profoundly in areas that can be loosely called “social media” – right on the edge of marketing practice. And what we understand instinctively, but are yet to adequately process, is that this social media edge offers a transformative opportunity for brands. Edges really are important:

They represent fertile seedbeds for innovation as unmet needs and unexploited capabilities tend to surface first on the edge. Edges also tend to be filled with people who are risk takers. Edge participants tend to connect more readily with each other because they all confront significant challenges in addressing the growth opportunities. Since there is so much growth potential for everyone, they are more willing to share insights and learning. Edges also have limited inertia since most of the large institutions, installed base and current sources of profitability are in the core.

The opportunity on the edge is, however, what attracts the core. Those established, core brands see the volatile and seemingly chaotic communities building via social networks as marketing’s holy grail. However, not ALL of these edges offer growth – they have uneven potential for growth. What is the difference between a “promising edge and a dead-end fringe” – and how do you tell? Apparently there are tell-tale characteristics:

… significant headroom for performance improvement and a large potential user base. Ideally, they also require modest investment for participation at the outset and offer the prospect of significant short-term returns …

In practical terms, this means that an INTEGRATED strategy is required. It means bringing “the core to the edge” – taking 10-20% of your MEDIA budget and investing it in “edge” activities. It means participating – not just with money, but with time, creativity and enthusiasm (or as Todd Defren suggests – holding an extended block party).

Social media will transform marketing, because we are seeing these shifts now (think of the recent announcements that advertising spend will drop in 2009, but digital/social related investments will rise). We are seeing new ways of producing, filtering, distributing and contextualising content. We are seeing real maturity in practices accelerating from the edge towards the core with the daily emergence of case studies, practical suggestions, innovation and leadership. (And if you are in any doubt, take a look at Todd Defren’s new eBook which goes a long way towards explaining exactly what is social media and how it can be used effectively – all in about 40 pages.)

The emerging patterns are no longer unclear. It is the edges that will deliver the innovation craved by markets – but perhaps most importantly – it may change the very nature of “marketing”. For the edge takes on new meaning:

Not only in their ability to help us recognize new ideas but, perhaps more importantly, in the power they give us to escape the old ones.