Andrew Burnett Social Media Scotland Mon, 03 Apr 2017 22:02:44 +0000 en-US hourly 1 Interested in Subverting Interested? Wed, 04 Nov 2015 22:40:19 +0000 ]]> Interested in Subverting Interested

So, Facebook has replaced the “maybe” button for events.

This means, very simply, that people will now have to either say “Interested” / “Going” or, “Ignore”. A lot has been made of “Interested” whilst it would seem that “Can’t go” being replaced by “Ignore” has largely, well, largely been ignored… anyway, never mind about that, or my piss poor puns. Something else intrigued me about it, so I did a little experiment with four victims willing participants:

1. Setup an event

This is superbly simple, if you don’t know how, google it. I did it with my new page although you can do it as a person too.

2. Prepare for subversion


I named the event ‘helping subvert notifications for japery’ – if someone clicks on “Interested” it will show in their friends Tickers… so, once I’d laid the (admittedly rather shallow) foundations for the experiment all that was left was to:

3. Invite people

First victim friend up was Simon Heseltine and, just as I requested, he hit the “Interested” link thus:


At this stage, I could have just gone on to invite more and more friends to this. I could have chortled myself a bellyache whilst doing it with seeing the silly Ticker notifications. But, dear reader, there’s more to be learnt by pushing the subversion somewhat further…

4. Change the event’s name

Just because I could. After Simon had already expressed interest in ‘helping subvert notifications for japery’, I changed his mind for him and made him interested in ‘clicking “interested” to help prove a point’. This required much less persuasion than you might think, clickety-click “edit event”, clackety-clack, rename the event, clickety-click save.


5. Invite more people

Simon seemed a little lonely with his new-found interest, so I invited the next friend: Tina M Sørensen to ‘clicking “interested” to help prove a point’

Tina also clicked the ‘Interested’ button as requested, thus triggering the Ticker ready for my screenshotting…


Oh what japery. And yet I needed more, could this be done repeatedly? Is it possible to rename the event again?

6. You can rename an event as often as you want

Or at least, you can twice… And, I’m feeling a little more mischievous by this point, and also grateful for the gullible forgiving friends I have. Ok, so, game on.


‘looking interested, about interested, interesting, eh?’ – I may have been mischievous, but it was also getting late, and by this time I was definitely writing this up, so didn’t want to get just too profane with it. There’s enough bollocks on here without me adding more to it.

7. Invite more people, again

Paging Mickey Gomez, would you help a buddy out with a click on ‘Interested’? Sure said Mickey, she’s a sport like that, as indeed are Simon who by now is interested in his third weird-ass thing tonight, and Tina, who’s on number 2…

The inevitable happens and I’m starting to think about the potential of this subversion, and thinking it’s time to refresh my slidedeck on ‘subverting the platform’.


How about a step further? Can this go on ad-infinitum? Nothing ventured…

8. Ya beauty! Boom! Get in! Back of the net! Etc etc.

‘finding out if this is interesting, or not’ why not indeed?
By this time Simon is on interest 3, Tina on 3, Mickey on 2 and… Amanda Quraishi is about to get her invite…

By now, dear reader you know the score, I’m getting my kicks out of seeing the Ticker tell me my dear friends are interested in the inanely (re-)named event I’ve created, but nonetheless here’s the grab:

You can keep renaming even after the event btw…

As is evidenced by the event now, I had no idea my friends were into Kermit’s innards.

Ok, Burnett, what’s the sodding point?

Well, in running this little creative test, I did have a more serious / altruistic idea in mind. And these frankly wonderful friends have all helped in that endeavour, however unwittingly.

Here’s the concept:

  • A charity sets up an event and asks people specifically only to be interested.
  • On the event page they create a post explaining it and giving a call to action.
  • Interest is spread through the Ticker telling people their friends are ‘interested in’.

It’s that simple. It really is. Please, if you’re a charity feel free to use it. I’d be truly touched.

]]> 0
Why the sugary drinks tax won’t work, and, how it could Mon, 13 Jul 2015 20:46:38 +0000 ]]> There are calls from the BMA for the UK government to raise a 20% tax on sugary drinks with an aim to tackle obesity [source: BBC]. The goal is beyond doubt an honourable one, but the goal is not the problem. This is doomed to failure and simply will not result in long term behavioural change.


The issue is that the tax will, like VAT, be a tax that the consumer doesn’t really feel in any significant way. When we in the UK buy our groceries, the vast majority of us have no idea which items we pay 20% extra for and which we don’t.

The idea is simple, by making it more expensive it requires more effort to acquire a sugary drink.

Carrots, Sticks and Other Considerations

In order to affect behavioural change we can either adopt a carrot or stick approach, generally, unsurprisingly enough, carrots work better than sticks.

The stick is what the BMA are suggesting. When ASDA sells you 8 litres (the best part of 2 gallons) of their own brand cola for £1.65 the stick of 20% actually becomes a twig. A £0.33 sized twig, or, around £0.01 per glass of carbonated obesity syrup.

Also, bear in mind, the goal here is to tackle obesity by reducing the consumption of added sugar. Sugary drinks are but one common source of added sugar.

Reframing the Goal: Toward a Solution

By reframing the goal somewhat, we can state that we want to make consuming goods with added sugar less attractive, and we want to achieve this by making them less attractive to buy.

Adding £0.01 per glass is not going to achieve that.

Adding a fixed amount per unit might go somewhat closer, say £0.10 per glass. The inherent problem with this is, of course, that it only targets sugary drinks and not added sugar which is the actual “enemy”.

Reframing the Goal II: Closer to a Solution

Remember that the idea is simple, by making it more expensive it requires more effort to acquire a sugary drink. This theory is alas flawed. The effort to earn / acquire the money has already been expended and is not closely connected to the act of buying the drink.

We need to move the extra effort closer to the purchase of the drink, or, in my suggested improvement on the scheme, the purchase of the goods containing added sugar. This associates the effort required directly with the sugar and has a greater effect on behavioural change.

A Solution

A unit tax on added sugar instead of a percentage based tax on one source of added sugars.

Collected at a separate cashpoint. In a separate transaction. Like cigarettes and lottery tickets in most supermarkets.

This makes the effort of purchase much higher, making the non-purchase more attractive. By shifting the effort required from a historic one “have to work for longer to afford it” to a present one “have to stand in line to be able to buy it” we significantly increase the effectiveness.

Solutions are usually simple.

Photo by Photina

]]> 1
The Ten Clicks of Fail* Mon, 24 Nov 2014 20:24:51 +0000 ]]> This morning Scotland got a new newspaper, The National. It’s the daily newspaper that supports an independent Scotland.


The paper is doomed to fail, which will delight some and trouble others, but boys and girls, whichever way your emotions are inclined toward this is irrelevant to the learnings that can be taken from it.

By all accounts the inaugural print edition sold out quickly today, given the sentiment in Scotland currently that’s not a huge surprise.

What is much more surprising is that the digital offering is a paid for subscription. A paid for subscription that is actually a 5 day trial to determine whether a digital offering makes sense or not.

I’ll repeat that, a newspaper trialling whether a digital offering makes sense or not, trialling it in a subscription model, in 2014.

So much for the hub and spoke models of the Telegraph, BBC, Guardian, and blatantly the NZZ was wrong in 2012 when it went digital first. Ok, that’s the last piece of sarcasm I’ll allow myself, it’d be too easy.

It goes without saying that, in 2014, it is entirely unnecessary to ask the question of whether a digital offering is needed for any publication. The real questions that need answering are around the model, launch, growth, sustainability and profitability.

For a new launch, without the benefit of an existing and loyal user base (readership), the subscription model faces an additional hurdle which the likes of the Sun doesn’t have. For me, it’s simply the wrong model.

Let’s assume for a second though that it has to be a subscription model (it doesn’t, but that’s another story all together) and look at the implementation of it. For it is as much the implementation as the concept that lead me to think this title is doomed to failure. The implementation demonstrates clearly that digital is but an afterthought.

Say you’ve been convinced to subscribe to the paper, you’ve got your £1.50 at the ready and click through to hand over your pennies.

What awaits you? A simple Paypal payment page? A contemporary payment gateway that prides itself on minimal clicks, of the kind we’re coming to expect thanks to Amazon, Google, Apple et al? No. Paying the £1.50 requires more clicks than booking a flight with easyJet.

Click one.


First is a form which requires first name, surname, email address, password, password confirmation, house name / number, street, town / city, postcode / ZIP code and country. 10 required fields. On submitting this form.

Click two.


You’re presented with a sagepay page where you’ve to click Proceed in order to get to the page where you can enter your payment details.

Click three.


You need to fill out your street address again, because, well… well, we’ll not dwell on the experience. The second form filled out.

Click four.


You’re then presented with a summary of your order to submit to Verified by Visa.

Click five.


Your password characters entered.

Click six.


Once Verified by Visa has worked its wonders, you’re presented with a thank you page…

Click seven.


Now you can select “which edition you wish to activate”.

Click eight.


Now you select today’s edition.

Click nine.


In typical “are you really sure you want to” fashion, a further action is required to access the edition…

Click ten.


At long last you’ve got the paper in front of you. In Flash. In 2014. Ten clicks.

Before you despair entirely, there is good news, when accessed from an iPhone you are presented with an html5 version. But temper your delight for a moment, the html5 version is image based, that is to say there is no reader view available, zooming doesn’t ‘snap’ to columns of text, you cannot select any text, you cannot share any of the content, other than in screenshot format… Oh, the same applies to the desktop Flash version of it.

Not being able to comment on, share, participate in stories in a world where news is discussed on Facebook, Twitter, LinkedIn and through myriad other social media is, frankly, inane.

There is massive competition for all news sources, across all media, innovation is definitely required to play a winning game. Sadly The National hasn’t innovated in its digital offering. The five day trial will be the resounding failure it is predestined to be, though I do hope that the right lessons are learned rather than a digital offering being written off.

*Apologies for the headline, I miss-counted initially and thought there were nine clicks – so Dante’s gates of hell seemed an apt, if somewhat hyperbolic analogy.

Suggested further reading: Craig McGill’s excellently titled: Scotland’s new paper is as digital as porridge which is also where the first image in this post is from.

]]> 0
Never Mind the Bollocks, Here’s the Social Content. Tue, 04 Nov 2014 13:12:59 +0000 ]]> Content

You know how content marketing and social are all you need to do these days?

How you should forget about advertising, forget about search, forget about banner advertising, forget about PR, forget about anything that isn’t content and social?

Well, it’s bollocks, obviously.

Just because hordes of content and social evangelists wax lyrical about the myriad panacean attributes of their latest buzzwords does not make it so.

Consider that, broadly speaking, people find things either by looking for them, or by serendipity. It may seem obvious, but I’ll underline it nonetheless: People looking for things is search, serendipity is more akin to social and content – but also must include advertising, marketing, PR…

So, obviously, only doing content marketing and social, only entertaining clients and prospects entirely ignores anyone who might be searching, but also ignores anyone who may read an article or a review, who may actually interact with a banner ad, Facebook ad or Twitter ad, but also ignores those people offline, who might drive past that billboard, see that TV ad, read that newspaper article, because who cares about those people, right?

Nope, it’s bollocks, cannot be justified.

Obviously, content marketing and social are valuable channels. Equally obviously they cannot, and do not, replace existing channels. The challenge then lies in making them dance beautifully together, rather than pit them against each other.

Photo credit

]]> 4
A Tale of Two Fannies Tue, 26 Jun 2012 12:01:06 +0000 ]]> What a week it has been for fannies in social media, myself included*.

The thing is there’s funny fanny, and then there’s silly fanny.

Fanny number 1:

A lighthearted advert from Irn-Bru which started off on youTube only, has graced our tellyboxes for the past few weeks. No doubt it does offend some people, Irn-Bru adverts generally speaking do get a certain amount of complaints. There would be something sorely lacking from an Irn-Bru advert that got no complaints.

In case you don’t get it, it’s funny because: There’s a play on words (“Fanny” vs. “Fanny”). Despite being a slang term for “vagina” in the UK (I know, dear US friends, you getting it wrong is a source of endless amusement for us too) the context it is put in within the clip is one that most people with a pulse will find difficult not to giggle at. It is the classic “Richard” and “Dick” joke, only more localised.

What’s Special About this Fanny in Social Media?

Well, the ad has been exceptionally well received, even for an Irn Bru ad. It has been viewed a mammoth amount of times, at time of writing over 1.3 million views. Many of these views resulted in a tweetstorm in mid May.

Still, what’s so special about the ad in social media terms?

Well, not content with having a massive viral success with a commercial advert, in itself no mean feat, Irn Bru went a step further. To keep the momentum of the video’s success, and to give a further giggle, Irn Bru brilliantly took the “Fanny” theme a step further and produced 50 fridge magnets… “Fanny magnets”

fanny magnets #imafanny
To get one of these 50 fridge magnets all you had to do was to tweet anything with the hashtag #IMAFANNY. Needless to say, it was tweeted to the point where it trended.

Fanny number 2:

“Fanny” was about the only infantile euphemism which Femfresh did not use for “vagina” in their “whatever you call it, make sure you love it” campaign.

There are many many many many comments on the idiocy of this and the (justified) outrage it has caused.

As is so often the case with poorly thought out campaigns, when the inevitable happened, Femfresh’s reaction was not well thought out either:

Just a short note to tell all recent posters that we have seen your comments and we will be getting back to you.
Whilst we welcome debate, please can we ask that you don’t post anything abusive or use bad language as this contravenes our policies and we will have to delete the posts. Thank you.

Naturally, obviously, inevitably, this led to a backlash that it was indeed Femfresh whose language was bad.

A little planning would have gone a long way, planning for a campaign that doesn’t offend its intended audience, planning for how to react if there is a negative reaction (which in this case was practically guaranteed to happen).

In summary: If you’re going to fanny about on social media, don’t be a dick about it.

*I am a fanny, because I luckily won one of the Irn-Bru fanny magnets

]]> 11
Money for Hate Wed, 04 Apr 2012 16:17:57 +0000 ]]> Something, or rather someone, has reared their, frankly, blandly mediocre head above the parapet of castle hate.

Samantha Brick, I’m sure you’ll know by now, wrote an article in the DailyMail about how tough her life is as a beautiful woman. The DailyMail, in an inspired moment, realised the potential of this hatebait article and hit the publish button.

Note, I call this hatebait and not linkbait. It will no doubt also attract a massive number of links, but that isn’t the main objective. With linkbait, as the name suggests, the objective is to attract links. With haitbait, well, the objective is just as clear.

Why Publish Hatebait?

Well, to say the article has caught the public attention would be an understatement, there is hardly a positive comment being made about the hapless Ms Brick.

This is primal, people get sucked into having an opinion, not on the marketing lessons, but on whether she actually is pretty or not. What’s also interesting is how seemingly intelligent, famous people lost objectivity and got stuck in.

The outpouring of hatred on Twitter knows no bounds, from the creative and witty to the profane and degrading, practically every tweet about her is scathing:

So, why publish something that will have this effect? Well, it brings people to your website, lots and lots and lots of people.

And what do people on your website make?

Money, Lots and Lots of Money

How much money did this generate for the Mail?

More Money Questions…

How much money would you need to be given to make everyone hate you for a day on Twitter?

How much more money would you then need to be given to write a further article which perpetuates that hate for a further day?

How much money did Ms Block receive for setting herself up, I wonder?

Hatebait is Rare, Right?

The extreme of this one is, thankfully, relatively rare, yes. It is a near daily phenomenon though.

It’s crude and obvious, blunt and blatant. It is obtuse viral.

It is to linkbait what sledgehammers are to Allen keys.

So, How is Hatebait Different to Linkbait?

Well, the purpose of linkbait is to get links to a specific URL, that’s it.

Haitbait inspires the mob mentality, and may, or may not result in links to a specific URL.

Cleverly crafted and executed linkbait will, most often, not attract such attention. It will always give its target good reason to link to it, that’s its purpose. It will often “fly under the radar”, avoid controversy and, most importantly of all, work. It will attract links.

In writing this I spoke with Lyndon Antcliff, King of the Linkbaiters, who gave great insight into, and had this to say about the Samantha Brick hatebait:

Picking though the bones of this, we can learn a lot of how to re-create a linbkaiting beast.

Carlsberg decided not to make linkbaiters when they realised that there’s already a Lyndon*. But, he does run Linkbait Coaching


]]> 13
ThinkVisibility 7: Think Harder. Tue, 06 Mar 2012 16:00:26 +0000 ]]> The 2 events I look forward to each year more than any other are ThinkVisibility March and ThinkVisibility September. They simply are the greatest conferences. This time was no exception.
Both in terms of the presentations and the attendees, it is a friendly, informative, face-hurtingly funny, utter belter of a weekend.

This being the sixth “ThinkVis” I have attended there are a lot of faces I am familiar with and it is always great to catch up with old friends. There are always a good number of new people too, mind and making new connections is just as satisfying. ThinkVis feels like a family gathering in many ways.

Friday Night

As always, the conference starts in style on Friday night. Wiebke and I were lucky enough to be included in a reprobate’s dinner party, which may or may not have been organised by Nichola, with some of the great and the good in attendance, and us, and Jackie, and Geoff, and Shaun Hobo, and Pete, and Alex, and Anna, and Kev, and Chelsea, and Tracey, and Paul, and Gareth, and Dan.

Seriously though, it was a great start to a great night, a night which will not in any way, shape or form, be documented here. Other than this very respectable photograph (courtesy of Jackie) of some of the people there, all of us sober too, honest.

Dinner Party, Friday night, thinkVis 7.

The Conference Itself, Saturday

I have said this before, and I will say it again, if you want to get all the gen from all the talks, buy a ticket and support the greatest conference. That said, if you are really desperate, I will link to posts where talks are detailed, but seriously, buy a ticket and come along, if for nothing else then to buy me a beer.

There is something that most people will learn from most of the sessions, there’s plenty for everyone to learn in between the sessions. The people who come to Thinkvis make it what it is, both speakers and attendees.

With all that said, the sessions I enjoyed the most were:

James Carson‘s Saying Stuff is Dead is Dead!
Jon Quinton‘s Link Building Lessons from Swiss Toni
Barry AdamsSEO for eCommerce

The other sessions I attended were great too, and I heard good things about those I didn’t attend too (in particular Dan McGuire‘s Outsourcing for Cheap Bastards, which, by all accounts, had many people crossing their legs whilst laughing)

The were other great sessions, of course, the above were merely my favourites!

Malcolm Slade‘s The Rise of Brands in Search [haven’t found Malcolm’s slides anywhere, yet]
Anna LewisWebsite Statistics: 60% of the time it works everytime
Kean Richmond‘s So I’m #1 in Google, but now what?
Dan Harrison‘s 25 Useful things you can do with WordPress
Carla Marshall‘s VSEO Strategies: Why YouTube is so Much More Than Kittens & Car Crashes
Pierre Far‘s Understanding Google Crawling & Indexing

Saturday Night, Bouncy Bouncy

Dinner on Saturday can be summed up by four words:

  • Dirty.
  • Space.
  • Burrito.
  • Dock.

Well you had to be there.
My face still hurts, thank you one and all.

If you’re not already convinced that Thinkvisibility is worth attending every March AND September, then, honestly, where else would you get to play on a bouncy castle, inside a casino?

Bouncy castle at thinkvis
image credit @sk8geek, who has a whole thinkvis album worth viewing on Flickr.

Plenty More ThinkVis Love

Finally, here’re a load of other write-ups of ThinkVis 7, if I have missed any, let me know in the comments:

Thinkvisibility 7 Highlights from @ismepete
60 Eureka Moments From Think Visibility 7 (#thinkvis)
Think Visibility 7 Round-Up #thinkvis
17 Actionable Takeaways From ThinkVis

Almost forgot, again

Many many thanks to Dom for a sterling time. See you in September for ThinkVis8.

]]> 4
The Unreality Of Interlinked Social Media Mon, 27 Feb 2012 17:12:33 +0000 ]]> An alternative title might be: “Would messrs Tumblr and Google+ et al kindly digitus extractus and embrace social sharing”.


As great as it is, Tumblr allows cross posting to Twitter and Facebook, which is great, right? The obvious arguments over whether cross posting should be done automatically or not aside, it is very helpful to be able to cross post, as long as it adds value to the stream you are cross posting into, right?

When cross posting to Twitter, Tumblr lets you change the default “Photo: [URL]” format to make it more clickable on Twitter, clever, huh? If you cross post to Facebook, however, you get no opportunity to change anything. Really, Tumblr, really?

A fellow Edinburgh social media type, and more frequent tumbler than me, Jen Rankine, tested it out more thoroughly than I had. She discovered there is indeed no way to edit the title of the link Tumblr posts to Facebook, it is always the title of your Tumblr blog.

Tumblr link title in Facebook is the same as the title of your Tumblr blog


Also last week, Tac Anderson, brought up the point that ifft [ifThisThenThat] don’t have support for Google+:
Tac Anderson says things would be easier if ifttt had Google+ support
Turns out, according to ifttt, Google have yet to release a full read/write API for Google+. Of course, this could be a vain attempt to curb gaming of social signals, but perhaps it is indicative of Google’s failure to launch a social success.

Perhaps it is less a case of having to exercise control, as Google are more used to, and more one of trying to find a way to filter gamed sentiment over genuine. Given that Google+ is largely used by the SEO community… just saying.

]]> 0
Rant: “Live Tweeting” Wed, 28 Sep 2011 09:36:57 +0000 ]]> RANT

With the exception of the seemingly endangered FailWhale making an appearance Tweeting is ‘LIVE’ by definition.

You are NOT doing anything other than NOT paying attention to whichever poor sod it is that is speaking / presenting / dying / shaving their pubis.

Essentially you are implying that you are somehow tweeting in even more realtime than anyone else, you egotistical introverted spudnut.

I’ve had it with this terminolowankery.


]]> 12
Unicorns, Less ‘Meme’ More ‘Me Me’…? Thu, 22 Sep 2011 15:12:09 +0000 ]]>

Yesterday a London based international digital marketing agency had a unicorn in their offices! Imagine that! A real live unicorn!

Not like an Oatmeal unicorn, no a real live unicorn, you know, like a white horse with a plastic horn sellotaped to its coupon.

An actual unicorn would make a tsunami of a splash on the internet, right? The internet loves unicorns, in fact the only thing the internet loves more than unicorns is bacon and kittehs! You can’t fail to go viral with unicorns!

Except you can. You absolutely can. You can even fail to rile PETA. It is possible to entirely miss critical mass despite spending astronomical amounts.

Believe it or not, it is even possible to get less views on your twitpic than you have global staff. Less views on your twitpic than half
of your global staff. For a unicorn!

Perhaps next time an agency tries a stunt like that they’ll have a bacon-scarf-wearing Nyan LOLcat riding a hoverboard. And do you know what? It won’t ‘go viral’ either.

No, for something to ‘go viral’ it needs a little more magic and a little less production.

Photo credit

]]> 0