Mark Higginson

The web is a social artifact.

This short manifesto covers what I hold to be self-evident about modern marketing practices, particularly related to online activity.

This piece about how people's attention flows on the web highlights the fundamental misunderstanding that causes almost all online marketing to be ineffective.

The blog that follows consists of a series of short posts that support my arguments.


28 April 2011

So here’s the “for example” principle of bullshit detection: If you know — in advance — the only examples an advocate for a general proposition can cite, then what he’s advocating is probably bullshit.

How To Improve Your BS Detector

‘Dell battery recall’ anyone?

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04 April 2011

Facebook Comments Epitomizes Everything I Hate About Facebook

TechCrunch have been using the Facebook Comments system and aren’t too impressed. A comment system should allow conversation, ‘replies-to-replies’, should be ‘sortable’, by date, popularity, etc. and has to be searchable.

On would expect Facebook to be making rapid improvements in a number of areas, not only technically, e.g. search functionality but with the fundamental principles of how one’s social graph is organised and accessed. However given that ‘the product’ is the users of the platform ‘innovation’ seems to be reserved for work on the advertising side of things.

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28 March 2011

We find a striking concentration of attention on Twitter - roughly 50% of tweets consumed are generated by just 20K elite users - where the media produces the most information, but celebrities are the most followed.

Who Says What to Whom on Twitter

This PDF from Yahoo! Research is well worth your time. The findings indicate that those ‘elite users’ referred to above are just 0.048% of the user-base.

It also indicates that the patterns of behaviour in the Twitter universe may obey slightly different rules to the wider web. This has implications for the perception that ‘conversations’ occur on Twitter rather than waves of re-tweets originating from discrete sources.

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25 March 2011

Pepsi Refresh was an online social media initiative in which Pepsi gave out 20 million dollars. They also spent many millions more in support of this initiative. The results are now in. It has been a disaster.

Social Media’s Massive Failure

The social media boosters in the marketing industry have been in complete denial that no-one actually wants ‘a conversation’ with a brand. I also enjoyed the skewering of the tenets of The Cluetrian Manifesto in the post. Championed by many of these same marketers there is little compelling evidence of their self-aggrandising notions.

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24 March 2011

If you just take a pile of data that shares one common element (the thing you are interested in), you will likely find some other common elements purely by chance. Until you prove otherwise, these are associations, not necessarily correlations.

Social Media Data Dredging

Well worth reading the full post. It highlights the reason I’m cautious about the general body of ‘research’ that comprises conjecture about what people are up to on the web. These facts are very much of the “and if you laid them all end-to-end they would stretch from here to the moon” type of analysis, hence not useful for formulating genuinely useful strategy.

The author rightly emphasises that ‘best practice’ is what is best for you. Unfortunately this tends to be time-consuming to discover and is based on what you can see and understand through the microscope of your own analytics and not what you might surmise from general observations.

Research is key, understanding the limits of this research is even more important and extensively testing your hypotheses is more important still.

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