Caught in a web of social media

Archive for the ‘social media’ Category

Crumbs! The #KingOfBiscuits Twitter Poll and CTRs

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Honesty moment here – when I set up the #KingOfBiscuits poll, I did it purely to try to prove that Custard Creams were great and Rich Tea biscuits deserve to be banned. It all came about because of a discussion with the people at my favourite deli, Oliva’s in Topsham (you should go there, it’s lovely!).

Anyway, in an online poll that was open for around 30 hours, I asked “Which biscuit would you crown King of Biscuits?” and the results were as follows:

Chocolate Digestive (Milk) 15%

Custard Cream 14%

Hobnob 11%

Bourbon 10%

Hobnob (chocolate) 7%

Ginger Nut 6%

Jaffa Cake 6%

Rich Tea 5%

Other 5%

Chocolate Digestive (Plain) 4%

Shortbread 4%

Garibaldi 3%

Jammy Dodger 3%

Party Ring 3%

Oreo 2%

Digestive 1%

Nice 1%

Shortcake 1%

Viennese Whirl 1%

Cookie (any) 0%

I think you can see that this proves, if nothing else, that that Rich Teas are much more rubbish than Custard Creams. That’s scientific fact now.

But I give you the King of Biscuits 2011 – The Milk Chocolate Digestive!


Except it isn’t.

I couldn’t help but take a look through the stats surrounding the #KingOfBiscuits poll. So, here are some stats (forgive the rounding):

Approximately 70,000 tweet impressions were created containing the #KingOfBiscuits tag.

Tweets including #KingOfBiscuits reached approximately 21,000 people (during the poll – not including post poll discussion).

Votes cast were 102.

This gives us a click thru rate (CTR)* in excess of 4.85%. Average CTRs on tweets tend to peak around the 2.5% mark for a good tweet (I’m not talking about my tweets here but an industry standard). Of course, there are anomalies for particularly targetted campaigns but, as a rule, CTRs over 2.5% are rare.

So, what have we learnt? We have learnt that a carefully crafted campaign using good hashtags can spur people into action. Or maybe that people care a lot about biscuits.

Most of all, we have learnt that Rich Tea are rubbish and Custard Creams are fab.

All Hail The Custard Cream!


*Although we are talking about CTRs here, our 4.85% is actually a tweet-to-action rate. This is normally much lower than the CTR as people do often click links without ‘doing’ the thing they are asked to do.



Written by James

October 28th, 2011 at 10:19 am

Posted in social media

Missing the point about social media

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Firstly, thanks to everyone who posted this morning when I tweeted for recommendations for an electrician/gas person.

To those of you who tweeted links to directory services that show ‘recommended’ tradesmen, you miss the point. The flaw in such directories is that the ‘recommendations’ come from people I do not know or trust. Actually, if I’m being honest, I tend to assume that recommendations on such sites are at least 50% from ‘mates’ to improve the chances of their friends.

The joy of social media is that I can ask for recommendations and then judge them by the people giving me the information. A ‘recommendation directory’ has little more value to me than a phone directory (actually, the phone directory is useful to me because Google, my rabbit, likes ripping them apart).

So, next time someone asks for a recommendation, give a real one. Don’t try to promote your directory sites – that’s just not what social media is about.

It’s a trust thing.

Written by James

October 17th, 2011 at 10:15 am

Social Media, talks, training, Russia, Mongolia, Exeter and places in between

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It is too long since I was last here. In fact, so engulfed have I been doing things all over the place that I’ve only had time to move servers on this blog.

Mongolian Flag

Mongolian Flag by Nick Farnhill

Social Media around the country and beyond

I seem to have been doing things everywhere – at one point, it felt as if I was living on trains to or from London or around the south east. If I can have one slightly unconventional highlight, it will be seeing the Mongolian flag at the University of Hertfordshire where I was doing a talk on libraries using social media at CILIP’s annual conference, Umbrella. The flag was up because the University has a walkway above which is a flag for each different nationality student they have studying there at any particular time. How nice is that?

Anyway, Mongolia’s a stunning place with wonderful people – you should visit it. Seriously!

My only regret when going to Mongolia was that I was not able to spend more time in Russia during my stopover in Moscow. As it was, the stopover was only a few hours. I would have liked to have been there for days not hours!

Which links nicely to an interview that I did with Vitaly Alexandrov, a Russian journalist, when I was in London doing another talk. It is a long time since I have done an interview like Vitaly’s – which is a worry! Vitaly put me at ease far too easily and we talked for hours about social media and culture – the interview should be out soon – I hope I didn’t say anything too controversial!

Exeter’s where it’s at… and Birmingham

But I’m now back in Topsham ploughing through a mountain of things, working out plans for world domination, putting together proposals, working on websites, working on training courses, running social media campaigns, doing PR and more.

Then I’m speaking at LikeMinds in Exeter on 19-21 October and CILIP’s Marketing Excellence event in Birmingham on 11 November. Oh and there’s a course on Social Media for South West businesses to fit in on 4 November too.

So, that’s what I’ve been up to. What about you?

Written by James

September 27th, 2011 at 11:43 am

The best made plans…

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Well, it’s been a rollercoaster ride over the past few weeks – with everything going according to plan and not according to plan at the same time!

As you may, by now, know, I have decided to leave the law and now have to say ‘non-practising solicitor’ a lot more than I ever had to say ‘solicitor’.  It may seem like an odd decision but to me, it wasn’t.  Before I entered law, I worked in politics (as distinct from being a politician) and did a lot of media, PR and marketing work.  Also, I have, since my parents bought our first computer (a Sinclair ZX81) and hooked it up to a small black and white telly may years ago, had a great interest in tech too.

Over the past few years, I’ve had more and more involvement in various campaigns including, more recently, ones like #sHamleys and behind the scenes during the General Election, have spent more and more time giving talks and training on social media and then, a few weeks ago, Klout added me to their list of Top UK social media influencers.  So, it felt a bit as if things had gone full circle and I was loving being back involved in PR.

I have been lucky enough to work with some brilliant clients and some brilliant lawyers in my time as a solicitor.  And I hope to work with them some more in the future on new projects.

But now is the time for a new challenge.

As well as heading up PR and Social Media at A D Holmes & Co in Topsham, I have also set up a PR and Digital Comms agency called Social:haus (actually it’s Social:haus Limited – just to keep the compliance fiends happy!).  The last few weeks have been a whirlwind of activity, putting into place everything from tech kit to strategies to plans to advertising to working with a great developer and a million and one other things as well as getting out and talking to new clients.

Oh and there’s a big online event coming up – details on the Social:haus site and follow @socialhaus over on the Twitter.

I had hoped to blog about this before now but it just hasn’t happened!  As soon as I come up for air, I will tell you more – and I’m also looking forward to getting my camera out as spring breaks across the Exe estuary. And there will be more audio too…

In the meantime, if you’re feeling the Comic Relief love, feel free to take a look at my #TwitRelief page over on eBay – ask a question, make a bid, spread the word, whatever you fancy! :)

Written by James

March 16th, 2011 at 10:44 am

Techtastic 2011? Please let it get better than Pushnote!

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Hasn’t it been an exciting few weeks in the land of tech?  First Quora hits a PR perfect storm despite being nothing more than a dreadfully self important Twitter wiki without the message length constraint (everybody wants to be first with something big because they missed Twitter – folks, Quora isn’t it!!) and now Twitter Lord, Stephen Fry, launches Pushnote (a start-up he has invested in).

Pushnote is the latest in the deluge of disappointment which is engulfing the web.  Pishnote is described as an extra ‘layer’ on the web where you can leave comments.  And other Pishnote users can comment on your comments.  Imagine the possibilities! *yawn*

I could literally go on Twitter, bring up Pishnote and comment on someone’s Tweet and then someone could comment on my comment to the Tweet and then… oh, wait a minute, I could just do that on Twitter!  Ok, how about on Facebook, someone could leave a comment and I could leave a Pishnote comment… no, that doesn’t work, I could just do that on Facebook. How about a blog? Nope – you can do that either directly or with a dozen other tools.

One idea that has been touted about is to use it to comment on news stories – notwithstanding that news pages are often dynamic and, in any case, many have their own comment apps already.

Other ‘great’ things about Pishnote are that the Twitter integration is flakey and the comments do not thread or add themselves in any sort of logical order (unless you have a sufficiently bad case of OCD that you think that comments should be arranged in alphabetical order by the first letter of the commenter’s name – rather than say, in the order they are posted!).

Pishnote is bad. Let’s make no mistake about it.  Stephen Fry has put some money in it and he was due to launch it today (although that hasn’t happened by the looks of it) – so it is is getting a great reaction from people who are trying to ingratiate themselves with the lovely cuddly polymath.  But a few hundred people wittering about how clever Stephen Fry not only does him no favours, it also does not guarantee the success of something that is quite this awful.

Possibly on some level it was a good idea.  Let’s give it that.  But the reality is that it is awful – bad UI, bad browser integration, bad comment organisation, just bad.

…actually, it’s a bad idea too.

Google Buzz looks like the mutt’s nuts next to this.

Written by James

January 13th, 2011 at 5:00 pm