Tuesday, 30 August 2011

MCR Pride 2011

With the #ILoveMCR campaign, Manchester Pride, Jenson Button driving down Deansgate and it being a bank holiday on top of all that, there was a lorra lorra love going around Manchester this weekend. One of my personal highlights was watching the Manchester Pride parade. *SO* much fun and a lot of smiling faces. Great to see a lot of big organisations and companies from Manchester getting involved. A big well done to everyone involved!

Tuesday, 9 August 2011

London Riots – Social Media to the Rescue!

After all the blame social media (wrongly) got in the press for the London riots, it’s fantastic to see that social media is now helping to bring communities together to clean up the mess caused by a few idiotic and selfish thugs.

At the time of writing this blog post, @Riotcleanup has over 61,000 followers and the hastag #riotcleanup is trending. Following the tweets, shared pictures and videos of all of these people coming together to put their communities right again is extremely heart-warming and a reminder that most of us are decent and caring human beings.

Well done and thank you to all involved in the #riotcleanup – the rest of your country salutes you.

Getting down and dirty

Local heroes

Monday, 8 August 2011

Barneys Vintage Photo Shoot

One of the last projects I managed while at my old PR agency was the Barneys Vintage photo shoot. From using the power of Twitter to find creative and upcoming photographers to mooching around the Northern Quarter to source suitable venues, there was lots to do but the hard work was well worth it. Take a look for yourself:

Twitter Trouble in Tottenham

Just a few days after I wrote a blog post about how social media was being blamed for gangs of youth descending on to Beech Road Festival in Chorlton, social media is now being blamed for fuelling the riots across London this weekend.

Headlines have included “Thugs use Twitter to call for copy cat riots across the UK” (Daily Express) and “How Technology fuelled Britain’s firsts 21st century riot” (Daily Telegraph).

The Sun wrote about how “thugs used social network Twitter to orchestrate the Tottenham violence and incite others to join in”, while the Daily Mail described how “as the rioting escalated, trouble makers on Twitter seemed keen to orchestrate the violence bringing scores more people into the area”.

Social media is now the scapegoat for anything and everything. Do people honestly think that social media is to blame for these horrific events though? If Twitter and Facebook weren’t around, these people would still find a way of rounding up the troops and causing havoc, whether via text message or carrier pigeon.

Thugs use carrier pigeons to fuel naughtiness

Thursday, 4 August 2011

Social Media: Respect the Beast

We’ve all heard a story or two about a teenager who, after being left home alone by their parents, has decided to hold a bit of a shindig and invite their friends via Facebook, leading to word of an adult-free party zone with booze and members of the opposite sex spreading across a ten mile radius.

The result? Swarms of revellers stampeding on the house and destroying it like a plague of locusts, causing much trauma and telling off for the naïve teenager who decided to announce the gathering on one of the most public mediums there is.

Now, social media is being blamed for Beech Road Festival, which is held annually in Chorlton, being “overrun by gangs of youths”. After the festival saw an unprecedented 20,000 people attend, who were blamed for littering and “urinating in gardens”, the organisers have decided not to run the event again next year.

An article in the MEN on the matter stated: “The organisers blamed publicity of the event on social networking websites like Facebook and Twitter for the overcrowding.”

Poor social media, always getting the blame.

The problem with social media seems to be that although everyone wants to use it to promote their event, product, service, company or self, many users aren’t prepared or equipped for when their online efforts actually work. When social media comes into its own and spreads a message further and wider than any other unpaid or traditional method could, what the hell are you supposed to do??

I’ve used social media in the past to promote events and campaigns on behalf of clients. My efforts have usually ended up with modest results and there has always been something in hindsight that I could have done to make a bigger and better impact. But then again, maybe it was better that I didn’t? I mean, I don’t know how on earth I would have coped if 20,000 uninvited people had turned up to a product launch, which we held down in London with a flavour-of-the-month celeb. The dozen or so paps were enough of a handful!

So should we blame social media when things get out of hand? No. Should we treat the beast with caution? Yes. Social media can be a very valuable tool, but users need to appreciate the potential strength of it. When social media is good, it’s very very good, but when it’s bad, it can be wicked.

Wednesday, 3 August 2011

Social media: The modern day Chinese whispers

These days, news spreads quicker than a bout of Chlamydia in Freshers’ Week. Unfortunately for some, it also means that rumours and inaccuracies spread just as quickly.

Only last week, Channel 4 news presenter Jon Snow was forced to apologise for regurgitating what appeared to be ‘news’ on Twitter that Piers Morgan had been suspended from his CNN show. It transpired that the tweet had been sent from a fake Twitter account and wasn’t actually true.

But this wasn’t the first, nor will it be the last, case of online Chinese whispers.

A few months ago, a tweet about a photo shoot taking place in central London raised the alarm that there was an actual gun man on the loose.

Stylist and fashion writer @candicebailey tweeted: “Street style shooting in Oxford Circus for ASOS and Diet Coke. Let me know if you’re around!!” Within a matter of minutes, Twitter was in a whirlwind of panic of this ‘shooting’ and people were reportedly told to stay indoors. And to make matters worse, all of this Twitter action was taking place at the same time a police training email, looking at a hypothetical gunman situation, was accidently leaked.

You can see how easy it is for gossip and rumours to spread on Twitter. I’ve got to admit that I once had my wrists slapped for tweeting something about someone which wasn’t technically quite correct…luckily there were no hard feelings though (after I grovelled for forgiveness , that is).

It’s just that the ‘retweet’ button is so easy to press! And then if you quote someone else talking about a story, it’s easy to edit it down so that it’s not revealing the whole story (we've only got 140 characters!!).

What’s more, there is a real feeling on Twitter and other social media channels that you’ve got to be the first person to know when something happens. Were you the first person in the world ever to find out that NOTW had shut down? Of course you were...you and a few thousand other Twitter users. There is an urge on social media to pass ‘news’ on as quickly as possible, to get it while it’s hot, a real life game of hot potato.

But where does the responsibility lie? Should people tweeting take more care to check their facts are straight before broadcasting them to the world? Or should it be up to the people reading tweets to take everything with a pinch of salt and not take every tweet as gospel?

I think this Reuters blog by Felix Salmon sums up the whole issue very well:

 “Twitter is more like a newsroom than a newspaper: it’s where you see news take shape. Rumors appear and die; stories come into focul people talk about what’s true and what’s false.”

What do you think? Should we all practise more caution when our curser hovers over that retweet button in the future?