Mark Higginson

How people's attention flows on the web

The web is a social artifact.
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22 March 2013

Twitter has turned seven years old.

Here’s my very first tweet. I didn’t tweet again until 2010 and have been removing doubt ever since.

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27 February 2013

Culture is about power dynamics, unspoken priorities and beliefs, mythologies, conflicts, enforcement of social norms, creation of in/out groups and distribution of wealth and control inside companies. Culture is usually ugly. It is as much about the inevitable brokenness and dysfunction of teams as it is about their accomplishments. Culture is exceedingly difficult to talk about honestly.

### What Your Culture Really Says

Wow. The above is a from a fantastic post that questions the underlying aspects of the so-called ‘company culture’, particular the type peculiar to modern internet / technology focused businesses. I’ve even heard the phrase “we need to be more like a start-up” bandied around former workplaces, the implicit assumption being that people know what this signifies.

My focus on this blog has been mainly related to the discipline in which I work and frequently how assumptions negatively affect people’s perception of what is actually going on. An off-shoot of this stuff is the idea that ‘we’ are building a new type of business ‘culture’. It is a curious form of groupthink that claims to present an alternative when in actual fact it is an evolution of existing power dynamics.

A good example of this is the ‘leaked’ Valve employee handbook that people got very excited about in April of last year. It promises a ‘flat’ management structure, self-selection of projects, etc. A couple of weeks back Valve disposed of some staff. As some wag commented presumably these people all fired themselves?

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07 February 2013

You just reviewed your own f***ing product. Absolutely ridiculous. How stupid do you think people are?

Nokia Reviews the Nokia Lumia 620 - They like it.

Here is the original post on Nokia’s own blog that is referenced on ‘Daring Fireball’.

The ‘Conversations by Nokia’ blog is typical of the kind of misguided corporate attempt to be a content destination. I am sure this site sees significantly higher traffic than most other such places due to its subject matter being the kind of thing that riles the denizens of the internet to action but it still has the hollow ring of inauthenticity about it. Other comments on the post I refer to include:

“Unfortunately, they can be pretty stupid. But yeah, this is high on the hilarity chart.”

“You do know what Nokia did for the Video recording demo of the 920 at rollout, right?”

“Woah! I also heard that Tim Cook thinks the iPhone 5 is the best smartphone yet!”

“Great idea! Eliminate the middle man entirely, this way you don’t need to send out demo phones to all the gadget sites. Ingenious.”

“Isn’t PureView that tech where you pretend to use your phone while actually using a DSLR on a steadycam in a van?”

“This is an advertisement. It should probably say clearly at the top that it’s an advertisement.”

“None. It’s idiotic to review your own product. Nobody else does it. It’s not a Nokia blog, it’s THE Nokia blog.”

“What will really take this to the next level is when they start quoting this review in their advertising.”

“Adam Fraser - curious, did you find any negatives of Lumia 620, in the extensive time you had spent ‘reviewing’ it?”

Nokia revised the title of the post subsequent to some of the reaction:

“Note: This article was first headlined as a ‘review’, obviously, it’s more of a hands-on account of Adam’s experiences and the headline has been changed to reflect that.”

What is interesting is how earlier appalling errors of judgement, such as the Lumia 920 launch video, are brought up whenever a commenter perceives a subsequent mistake to have been made. It starts to create a perception. Of course, there is a dilemma here. You are being ‘social’ be permitting comments therefore, to avoid an even worse backlash, have to permit criticism which becomes a near-permanent record of people’s reaction.

If you believe the ‘brand advocates’ rubbish being spun by marketing agencies then this is the road you end up going down. And the farther you go, the harder it gets to manage.

To be fair though the most insulting comment received 464 up-votes and only 18 down-votes so if it is pure participation you are after this counts as a win.

I did really like MeeGo though.

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06 February 2013

Natasha Khan

Bat for Lashes

I absolutely loved the design and layout of this interview with Natasha Khan on Pitchfork. Have a look and see what happens as you scroll-down the page. Simple but so effective.

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05 February 2013

Over the last year or so, we’ve been very aggressively, proactively cutting down on agency retainers not only because we have the cost pressures everybody does, but also why should we be paying agencies for them to take that knowledge? There’s no real long-term value for Nokia. The right investment is for us to have the right people internally.

How to build a social brand: The Nokia case study

The above is a quote from Tejal Patel of Nokia. She is spot on. If you are committing effort to your presence on the web and people’s perception of you as shaped by that presence then in my opinion you need a team with an implicit sense of:

This web presence can and should be the canonical source of everything about the business, encompassing the points I allude to above.

This is a very different proposition to the typical agency campaign-driven model of working. In fact, such a team can improve campaign-based work because of their long-term focus and understanding. As such I see these efficient, internal teams becoming the people who lead agency activity on the occasion that such work is required.

Businesses do not need ‘marketing managers’ whose responsibility is juggling the overlaps between multiple agencies; they need doers whose growing abilities and expertise are kept in-house, who pass on this knowledge and make it the fabric of the business.

Note: I should point out that the article I quote from refers to Nokia as a ‘social brand’ which I disagree with. Tejal Patel also refers to Nokia as a ‘challenger brand’ which I also disagree with. If you want to read a very long analysis of Nokia’s woes then try this.

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