What do the Biennale and social media have in common?

05 July 2011

Last week I talked about the pearls of wisdom from Sir Terry Leahy at the Venice ITT conference. I also managed to slip away to see the Venice Biennale exhibition which is on until late November 2011 and well worth a visit. It consists of about 80 halls hosted over two sites by different countries which have an artist create an “installation” for their space. These were extremely different in more ways than one. From the eclectic mixture of Barbie dolls, magazine shrines and harrowing photos of homocides in the Swiss Hall to supersize dummy figures in the Korea hall, a stunning video show from Japan and an upturned US army tank.
There was an unnerving element of surprise in many halls. I entered a room of mirrors and suddenly heard the deafening sound of breaking glass and saw a bullet coming through the mirror behind me just as each side mirror displayed breaking glass - unsettling and intriguing in equal measure. I found images of famous people such as the Queen and Obama superimposed on colourful child and baby cartoons in the Venezuela Hall and I struggled to make sense of it all.
I am drawn to compare the Biennale experience to the impact of social media on so many industries. Social media enables us to share our multicultural experiences so seamlessly with each other from anywhere and yet it also throws the world upside down and leaves the advertising industry reeling from the fallout as the Fast Company article “Mayhem on Madison Avenue” so aptly captures.[1]
 I’d like to share some new recent social media experiences which were not as unsettling as the Biennale halls but gave me plenty of food for thought as to how social media is changing how we communicate. As Wired testifies this month[2] the key internet players such as Amazon, Facebook, Groupon, Zynga and Apple and are using psychology insights to make us stay longer and buy more.
I went to my first #travtweetup event where I met a bunch of other bloggers. Aswell as catching up with some old clients and meeting some new faces I was also meant to be sharing what was going on via Twitter. The thread of real life conversations on Twitter were then displayed up on a projector screen on one side of the bar.  It was an interesting experience albeit rather strange as I thought it took multi tasking to a new level.  I can see the benefits of the instant feedback and post event questionnaires disappearing to be usurped by real time Twitter hashtags, Facebook polls, Foursquare ratings and other third party review sites.
I also managed to survive delivering my first webinar experience last week which demonstrated the truly global nature of the web as we took registrations from as far afield as Buenas Aires, Caracas, Egypt and across Europe. There was also a keen interest in social media especially the newest tools and how to roll out a social media plan. Key learning for me was that you can never have enough practice sessions and you have to test all your equipment and technology religiously. 
What’s new in Social Media?
Twitter Follow[3]
I promised this week to share some new tools that have just come out such as the new Twitter Follow button which now enables you to put a sign up to your Twitter page on your website which enables people to follow you without having to click away to their Twitter page. 
Facebook Send
Facebook has also recently launched its new Send button which now enables you to share something with a chosen group of your friends.
Other new tools which I’ve tried are Topsy which enables you to run real time searches on trending topics which may help if you are wanting to drive more traffic to your blog by choosing a trending topic for your title. You can see which posts are generating in real time the most responses for the topic you are interested in.
This useful tool enables you to see a graph of all your twitter stats such as frequency of your tweets, who you retweet, platforms used and percentage of replies to your name, your twitter cloud, and it will graph any changes in your followers.
Google+ Project
A beta version of Google’s social networking site has been launched to a small group of users. Feedback from early users[4] suggests that it may catch on as it integrates Gmail and Android contacts. Their Circles feature also enables you to group your friends into different categories which we are used to doing with our other contact data.
Facebook needs a new attitude
It is probably no coincidence that Facebook recently launched its Send button as it sees the future threat from Google. Facebook will need to keep innovating to stay ahead and take some hard earned lessons from Google when it comes to treating their business partners with more respect. I’ve heard some rumours to suggest that Facebook are not treating them well and think it’s OK to cancel their speakers at very short notice and not respond to communications.  
Your comments please – what new tools have you found and do you think Facebook needs a better attitude?

[1] Fast Company Dec 2010- Jan 2011 page 110
[2] Wired August 2011 edition page 121 - 125
[4] Digital Marketing Works Blog with feedback on Google+ Project
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