Facebook, Twitter, blogging, forums, and online networking are continuing to spread like wild fire throughout every aspect of our lives. This has made an astounding impact on the environmental campaigning world by linking like-minded groups and individuals across the globe that would have never even known existed until the world of social networking fell upon us. Social media’s input is evident on various levels, from international actions right the way through to bringing people together in person to deal with issues big and small.
International impacts – A major event that stirred up a social media cauldron was over the BP oil spill in the Gulf of Mexico, 2010. BP’s image initially suffered at the hands of a network of environmental organisations that collaborated and exploited the disaster throughout their social outlets. In a bid to further destroy BP’s image, their official Twitter feed became sabotaged by a more popular parody version, @BPGlobalPR, in which they were taunted with sarcastic comments on a regular basis. Further damage using Twitter was done with #oilspill becoming a trending topic in rapid response to the disaster. BP also saw a quick decline in Facebook fans, and its now ghost-like page simply presents several hate messages with “boycott BP” a popular phrase. This particular social media war has had economic consequences for BP.
Local impacts and benefits – Social media is not just a way to gang up on the bigger boys; it is also a way of bringing individuals together in person and in that sense can have a great local community impact. This is particularly evident with a UK based NGO, known as Surfers Against Sewage (SAS) who are an environmental campaign pressure group that have been going strong for over 20 years.
In 2010/11 SAS witnessed one of their most active years to date by launching a campaign titled ‘Motivocean.’ The project targeted 16-25 year olds, considered the hidden volunteering age group, in which they were encouraged to take part in environmental volunteering around their local area. SAS enticed participants to get involved in a very simple, yet effective way by advertising free surfing lessons for anyone in the age bracket that first took part in an educational beach clean.
With the aid of an entirely bespoke volunteering social media website volunteers could set up their own page, add details, interests, photos, videos and log volunteering hours, which allowed them to launch themselves into the environmental world and be known to the key organizations in the UK. This proved extremely beneficial for SAS as they recruited over 1,000 volunteers to take part across 20 events in the summer of 2010 and the same again in 2011.
With the help of social media, serious momentum can be built around organisations, events and its way of connecting to the public. It’s no secret that social media has opened up the internet to everybody, allowing anybody to interact, comment and voice their opinions. This includes activists, both new and old school, both large and small, from environmentalists to political; everybody can now get involved to some degree and make a difference.
Can you remember the last time you left your mobile phone at home? You might have said it was a relief not feeling you were a slave to it for a day. You may have thought how nice it was not to be bothered all the time. But I bet you made a beeline for the dinky device as soon as you got back – to check your texts, missed calls and who had poked you on Facebook.
Mobiles have become like an extra limb. They’re portable powerhouses that deliver more and more with each upgrade you receive. It’s not so much about talking, but it is about communicating – through texts, messenger, social media. You name it, they facilitate it. They’re now an essential rather than an accessory, and I for one wouldn’t be without one.
Why, then, do I struggle to find a single mobile operator whose brand really resonates with me?
It’s difficult to find one which feels relevant and charming; more often they seem faceless and sometimes even smug. I know I’m just one small part of an incredibly wide and diverse target audience, but surely the same would be true for superbrands like Apple: yet such brands consistently appeal and are championed by consumers worldwide.
I wouldn’t include everything the brands do here – for example I like the clever O2 music partnerships and sponsorships, and admire the Orange film tie-ups. I’ve also seen some good charity initiatives. It’s more the way they come across as entities. I’d find it almost impossible to characterise each of the main companies and their differences in a couple of lines.
The reputation of mobile phone companies in general isn’t great – they’ve all been tarred with the same ‘poor customer service’ brush. I understand that competiveness on price remains the all-important factor. But the same must be true of the fickle world of supermarkets, and all of the big names in that sector deliver good, clear messaging.
Maybe the level of communication phone companies need to deliver and the speed at which they need to deliver means it’s difficult to keep the brand consistent. Or possibly they rely on international campaigns that lose some of their impact with a UK audience. But with flimsy slogans such as ‘life’s for sharing’ or ‘make the most of now’ at the heart of the brands, I feel that they’re trying to be all things to all people. And in doing that, they actually fail to do the one thing a phone brand, above all, should do: connect.
Here at Pumpkin we like to keep the Twitter Tweetdeck open for the prospect that something interesting or amusing will pop up over the course of the day. We also like to participate ourselves, commenting on client news or office activity, but I wouldn’t say we we’re slaves to Twitter.
It almost seems that some people tweet every action of every day. In some cases it’s been used as a creative tool; take for instance comedian Peter Serafinowicz, a serial tweeter. He used his tweets as the basis for a last minute stand up gig. There are stats for this too, the ‘active’ and ‘inactive’ tweeter.
It’s a fair assumption to say the younger generation is considered social media savvy. Constantly updating Facebook statuses or BBM’ing, it’s turning unfashionable not to display half of your daily emotions or activities over the internet. As a result of this it may appear surprising when I tell you I A) own neither an iPhone nor Blackberry and B) only joined Twitter when I began at Pumpkin.
To be fair, I’m not alone. I don’t really know anyone my age (22) who uses Twitter. So why not? Enter ‘Generation Y’, the 18-24 year old category.
Twitter describes its network as: “The best way to discover what’s new in your world.” And from a work point of view I am completely onboard with this. Working at Pumpkin has highlighted quite how useful Twitter can be; it allows you to reach an audience far wider spread then Myspace or Facebook ever could. Perhaps Twitter’s one of the most useful social media tools of the moment.
The thing with Twitter is that it encourages users to think of a moment, poignant phrase or important piece of news they want to share with the world and log it in a meagre 140 characters.
When I do think about tweeting from my personal account it takes countless attempts and rewrites before I am happy with my tweet. Perhaps this is why it doesn’t appeal to ‘Generation Y’…too much hard work, too time consuming? Of course that’s not true, but what is true is that Twitter encourages us to use communication in a different way. It does not allow for quick self-assured statuses like Facebook, it commands a certain degree of precision and forward thinking.
Whatever it is that doesn’t appeal to ‘Generation Y’ at the moment, sooner or later they will come round and if not, I doubt statistically Twitter will ever worry too much.
The newest edition to ITV’s morning line up, Daybreak, launched last week, to much fanfare. Fizzing with Adrian Chiles and Christine Bleakley’s chemistry (apparently), we were promised something different and exciting that would kick the tired old GMTV format into obscurity. The reviews that followed were mixed – to put it kindly.
But whether or not Daybreak is the perfect accompaniment to your cornflakes, it’s difficult to spot how it’s significant different, over and above the purple sofas and new backdrop.
It was actually the 10.30am slot in ITV’s schedule that caught my eye. On the same day, This Morning launched its new interactive ‘Hub’. No more drab phone-in rooms hidden away but a buzzy extension of the main studio hosted by dedicated presenter. Holly and Phil even pop in on a daily basis.
Viewers can now email, Facebook and tweet the show and their instant reactions and comments are regularly aired with frequent visits to the Hub. As it’s a part of the main studio, filmed webchats with celebrity guests can take place as soon as they get up from the famous sofa. And as it’s been designed to have more of a backstage vibe, the guests seem to be more relaxed and, hopefully, more themselves.
OK, so This Morning isn’t the first show to encourage viewers to get in touch and they’re not breaking any new ground with the channels used. But what they have done is shown the audience what an important role they play – by using simple mechanics to virtually bring them onto the studio floor. Online allows them almost the same level of contact with guests as the presenters. And this forms part of an overall well-worked social strategy.
The show tweets snippets from the hub, videos of behind the scenes footage quickly posted on their site, Facebook comments and of course Holly and Phil’s own twitpics from the set. All of which help viewers get closer to the action from the comfort of their own home and by using channels that are a regular part of their media mix. Interactive and integrated might be much-used and abused buzzwords but I think they really are apt here.