Twitter - the new graffiti

From my mate Andy: With the ability to freely express ourselves, almost instantaneously, through social media, does this new facility undermine one of the oldest forms of offline social media – graffiti?
Also, is social media the ultimate form of defining your urbanity – in all senses of the word? Can we measure this repercussion of the impact of social media – is there less graffiti around?
In my creativity and innovation teachings I do see graffiti and Twitter as both forms of creative expression. If you think about why do people write graffiti? I suspect it is motivated by:A need to express a response, an idea to a situation

  • An outlet for rage, boredom or despondency
  • Adding to or responding to other graffiti
  • Marking out some territorial space for you or your allegiance
  • Demonstrating your allegiance as well as your wit, humour or insight – your urbanity
  • An expression, for some, of their artistic ability
I was inspired by the topic after coming across a piece of graffiti from ancient Pompeii, which read: Wall! I wonder that you haven’t fallen down in ruin, when you have to support all the boredom of your inscribers.
My experience of graffiti falls far short of the elegance, the urbanity, of the Pompeii piece. Perhaps, it was in higher education, the loos at the library in Swansea University – I had to make some use of the building’s facilities! – whose graffiti I most recall.
A Welsh nationalists call to hit the English with: Don’t flush the toilet -  England needs the water and an answer from someone presumably from Albion with the rejoinder: Don’t flush the toilet – Wales needs the sh*t raised a smile. (In hindsight it is not particularly funny, but demonstrates the power of context and immediacy in giving cultural value to something – which doesn’t bode well for the longetivity of much social media content.)
And perhaps my all-time favourite of a plea from another student in 1980 facing the prospect of leaving the safe world of university life: But I don’t want to be an Asst. Area manager for Sainsbury’s to which another wag added: But what else is a BscEcon good for! - which you need to have been at Swansea for, to appreciate the significance.
Of course, no review of my life – and the graffiti it has witnessed – would not be complete without acknowledging the universal words scratched on the metal casing of all Durex machines in men’s bogs across the land: This chewing gum tastes awful. And next to the kite mark with its guarantee of quality, the words: So, was the Titanic!
The question remains, is there less graffiti about – whether it is the toilet cubicles of university libraries, or in everyday life?
My anecdotal evidence is yes. And we have not just witnessed a decline in volume but also, graffiti is reflecting underlying dynamics in changing trends.
It is now in two camps: premium, whether in its ultimate form is a work of art by Banksy or your neighbourhood street artist, or has become more basic and commoditised, with either just cheap or common statements of just a football team name.
The word ‘urbanity’ does not just mean being charming or considerate, but also of being of an urban area. Is graffiti and now social media an ultimate expression of ‘urbanity’- of living a life in an urban context?
What’s your view? Is there less graffiti about? And what has been the impact of social media?


Blogging for Business: Top Ten Tips

We manage a number of blogs on behalf of many clients. Indeed, for some clients we manage all their social media communications from micro-sites, to blogs, to Twitter, Facebook and Linkedin.
Too often though many companies fail to understand the purpose of a blog and how it is different from their corporate website. Many company blogs are just bland reproductions of the existing website. There is often no personality on display just a grey suit which uses and officious tone announcing the play-by-play updates of company news that invites no interaction with the reader, which is probably the customer or supplier.
With this in mind we’ve been thinking about what makes a good corporate blog. So, inevitably, here are our top ten tips for successful corporate blogs.

Set Your Guidelines
When creating a blog you must be able to define the value that it’s bringing to the reader. Your need to clearly define the focused theme that your team will follow. Choose a blog name and theme that fits well with your company’s expertise, but don’t be afraid to branch out into a larger space. Your blog should provide pertinent information for consumers interested in your area of business.
Once you’ve chosen an area to cover, create a set of editorial guidelines that your bloggers can follow. At GREEN we produce a number of guidelines on social media for a wide range of clients which clearly states the objectives of the blogs and the do’s and don’ts. This stops any abuse and helps the company avoid any potential controversy.
For instance at LINPAC Packaging they blog about, well, packaging and plastics. And not just about what they are doing internally on a new product release but offering some though leadership on the debate raging around packaging. The theme is specific enough for readers to understand what they may find, but it is such a broad topic, that almost limitless posts are possible.

Choose a Blogging Team
Not everyone can write - at least not in a manner that draws in the reader. More crucially, not everyone wants to write and many positively avoid it. So choose individuals that are knowledgeable and comfortable writing about the areas you would like to cover. Some companies prefer to elect an editor or group of editors to have a final look at all blog posts, while other companies allow their bloggers to publish directly. We prefer the later - if the guidelines are clear you should trust the people your working with.

Dress Down
If your website is the suited and booted face of your company, then your blog is your Dress Down Friday look. A blog is a place to let down your corporate hair and get to know your customers. Think of it as a conversation between people, not between a brand and one person. In order to have a conversation, you need two people - a blogger and a reader.
Give your corporate bloggers the freedom to be themselves. Encourage them to have their own personalities and writing styles. This type of diversity is more representative of your company than any monotonous tone that you could manufacture on your own.

Avoid PR and Marketing
Might seem like strange advice coming from a company that specialises in public relations and marketing but the insight, knowledge and expertise that a blog can impart is far more useful than any PR pitch that you could post. Stay away from trying to selling and marketing - you can do that on your website or in deadwood media publications.

Take it on the chin
Many organizations run scared off social media in the belief that some people (and their will be some people) will just use it as an opportunity to say bad things about you. But they would probably be mean about your anyway with its through social media or in a pub conversation.
Accept that you will have detractors but make a point of welcoming criticism and using it as an opportunity for providing feedback and improvement.

Outline Your Comment Policy
Open up your blog for full feedback, you will get a variety of comments - postivie, complimentary, hateful, and spam. Be prepared for everything and create a comment policy that your team can follow. GREEN’s comment policy is set out below:
Commenting on Greenblog
It is our policy to review all comments before publishing them, partly to reduce the possibility of spam comments and partly to ensure comments are in line with our list of blogger ethics below:

  • We will tell the truth. We will acknowledge and correct any mistakes promptly.
  • We will not delete comments unless they are spam, off-topic, or defamatory.
  • We will reply to comments when appropriate as promptly as possible.
  • We will link to online references and original source materials directly.
  • We will disagree with other opinions respectfully.

Get Social
Use share tools, such as Facebook, Twitter and Digg.  Share tools allow your users to pass along your content and that’s a great way of creating brand ambassadors. We use a simple addthis button to make sharing easier.
Also, integrate you blog into other social media platroms by creating profiles across social networks that your readers and customers are active on. Facebook and Twitter are a good start, and YouTube is a must for video-sharing. When you post on your blog, announce the new post on your social networks and ask for your readers’ opinions on the subject.

Promote Your Blog
Just as you would promote any other company initiative, get the word out about your blog.  Share the URL on your website, social networks, business cards, e-mails, and advertisements.
Without promotion, building an audience can be difficult. Get behind the quality work that your team is putting into the blog and promote away.

Monitor and Feedback
One way to get a pulse on your blog and its effects on the community is to monitor mentions and feedback. Set up Google Alerts for your brand, blog name and any keywords that might be relevant.
At GREEN we use a number of programmes to monitor what our clients are saying online and what is being said about them.

Track Everything
Make sure your web analytics tools are switched on. We generally integrate Google Analytics into any blog we are managing. This tells us how much traffic the blog is receiving, where it’s coming from, where the referral websites are and which posts are being read the most.
Armed with this data we can then tweak future posts to ensure that we are getting the tone and content right.
Are missing anything? Leave a comment and let us know...