Friday, December 21, 2018

Social Media Predictions for 2019

Here we are again...

This year I’m going to keep this short.

In the last 12-months, the powerhouses who run our social media lives have had it rough. Digital and search are changing and video is EVERYWHERE. Social is an integral part of our society but the customer (or product, depending on how sceptical you are) is starting to see through the veneer of its usefulness. Business is still loving it and spending billions on ads and Instagram influencer campaigns - thankfully - but what those post-Brexit budgets look like is anyone's guess. Legislation and regulation. Brace y’self Mark.

In the UK, come June, we will allegedly need a passport or credit card to prove ID if we want to view online pornography. The UK is the first country to take this (massive) step and yeah, they kinda slipped that one under the radar. The UK Gov. (see Conservative Party - who already introduced surveillance laws requiring, among other things, that ISPs store a record of every citizen’s browser history) wants to bring in legislation that addresses “the Wild West elements” of the internet, especially social media. Matt Hancock (our Minister for Culture and all things Digital) has said the fresh regulations will happen in the “next couple of years” to address things from sexual exploitation to cyberbullying.

Watch out for more political PR opportunities in the form of channel mistakes (like letting people publish pictures that might randomly offend a random someone, or failing to act quickly enough to take down extreme political or religious content). Then watch out for the politicians jumping on them to further justify slapping more restrictions on the industry and, ultimately, controlling the horizontal and the vertical.


  • Stories and ephemeral content. Everywhere. Seriously, as far as the eye can see.
  • Nano-influencers.
  • Transparency.
  • Chatbots and Messenger conversations.
  • Voice recognition, AI and optimising for voice search.
  • Tik Toc.
  • Paying for things using social channels (like WeChat or Baidu).
  • Video/streaming (obvs) and channels being 'broadcasters'.
  • GDPR (in social).
  • Podcasting (yes, really).
  • TOR.
  • Conversations.
  • Gen Z.


  • Fake (uncited) news.
  • Fake influencers.
  • Traditional search engine optimisation.
  • Snapchat.
  • Internet Explorer.
  • Publishing any old bobbo.
  • Baby boomers.

Just a quick one this year. Good luck, folks, it’s going to be an interesting one.

Let’s be careful out there.

Monday, April 09, 2018

Why I’m not complaining and I'm happy for social channels to have my data.

So here we are, in the wake of the Cambridge Analytica debacle, feeling data-defiled and as though we dropped the informational soap in social media prison, poised to delete our Facebook accounts. Honestly, get over it.

Facebook has done nothing you didn’t sign up for. The media are loving it and Zuckerburg is apologising left, right and centre in a year he was hoping to crack on and fix the unwieldy behemoth that his baby has become – it’s news. Giving our data away to Facebook and Facebook apps is something you and I signed up for. Did you not read the small print? Don’t worry, no one does.

We live in the information age. Arguably, with the possible exception of the industrial revolution, one of the most exciting times for the 'civilised' world. Facebook is an unavoidable part of the connectivity of the western world. It has over 2.13 billion monthly active users and Mr. Zuckerburg is worth about £50 billion. In the UK the highest number of users is 25 to 34-year-olds, with (in this age range alone) 5.2 million lasses and 5.5 million blokes using Facebook in any given month.

We’re addicted: posting; messaging; liking etc. boosts our social capital and decreases loneliness and isolation. Sure, we have those friends who are part of some digital underclass that aren’t on Facebook, but they don’t get invited to parties (events) and (let’s face it) we think they’re a bit weird unless they work as undercover cops or they’re in a religious cult that thinks “technology is evil” (which is also weird).

There’s a deep connection between Facebook and the reward centre of the human brain. It fuels our narcissistic streak (to whatever level) by giving us social affirmation, but it also keeps us in touch with friends, family, and colleagues. It lets us promote our causes, fight injustice, coordinate disaster efforts, reach our customers, remember birthdays, rekindle old friendships, share ideas, and connect with those who live far away. It’s also free and let’s face it - is the last thing we see at night and the first thing in the morning.

So here’s the thing. What about giving away our data in exchange for free connectivity? As someone who writes ad strategy, executes a metric f**k-tonne of social ads and has built numerous apps, this is a good thing. We are, essentially, the product. Get over it, that’s always how it has been. It’s the payoff and we sign up for it. How is this a revelation? Our data is what keeps Facebook free. People like myself use the information you give Facebook to create targeted advertising, and that’s the key word here, TARGETED. If you get random ads for things you’re not interested in that’s some marketing bod doing an awful job, not Facebook’s fault.

If someone exploits that data - they’re to blame, not Facebook. It’s the user who chooses to use Facebook Login to let all kind of sites use their data – LOADS of big companies from Apple to Android use this. Again, via the permissions we gave through agreeing to the terms and conditions we probably didn’t read.

Giving our data away is powerful. It makes information semantic so that it comes to us when (or before) we need it. It offers me deals on walking boots from Millets because there’s a sale on and they know I’ll be interested. It guides me to the information I’m interested in and chooses related videos for me to watch and local gigs I care about. It fuels my hobbies. It shows me other related communities and asks me if I’m interested. It brings me news I’m passionate about. It broadens my mind. It opens my horizons to new products and services. I want that. That’s a good thing, and important for the development of search and online marketing - if it works for business we'll fund it.

So don’t delete your Facebook profile. That’s just a knee-jerk reaction to the media and taking a pair of scissors to your nose. Sure, be pissed off with those who exploit our data against the rules, but our data helps us get what we need, without looking for it, and that’s something I want to be a part of. Facebook is free and useful. It's also learned from this and it'll evolve. Let’s blame the right people and get over it.

Crack on.