So things have been a bit quiet around here.
A simple explanation really: I’ve gone from a long distance relationship to living together. A change that brought about a dramatic change in weekend priorities, one where geeking out over t’Interwebs and digital bits of interest slipped down behind spending time with G, long walks with the dog, doing the weekly shop, shouting at the telly because Arsenal are yet again throwing away a game.
But now, it’s the first day of 2015, I’m back from the traditional New Year’s Day run and what better way to get into this bits and bytes malarkey than looking back at 2014 and a wee peek at what could be in store.
Best of 2014
Imgur’s best posts of 2014 – Even as a lurker, a 5 minute browse through the most viral images on the image platform behind Reddit will give you a pretty good idea on what the latest Memes are and which puff piece the Metro and Daily Mail will be running with in two days. This list of the 14 best posts based on comments and upvotes will give you a pretty good idea of why it’s also my personal favourite site of the year.
Facebook celebrated it’s 10th birthday this year – annoyingly there isn’t yet a more practical way to keep in touch with friends and family. Celebrate your inevitable Facebook login with this 10 years of Facebook infographic.
While we’re on Facebook, there was a bit of controversy around its annual ‘Year in review app’, where algorithms look at that the amount of likes, comments and shares your post had during the year to then pull them together in to a cheesy summary of your year. For most of us, it’ll do the trick, as more often than not, the stuff we post is the kind of humble brag that we’d be fine with seeing again.
That changes when your daughter dies and over a period of two weeks the unfeeling Facebook algorithms keep prodding you to publish your year in review, every time reminding you of your loss.
Algorithms are essentially thoughtless. They model certain decision flows, but once you run them, no more thought occurs. To call a person “thoughtless” is usually considered a slight, or an outright insult; and yet, we unleash so many literally thoughtless processes on our users, on our lives, on ourselves.
Where the human aspect fell short, at least with Facebook, was in not providing a way to opt out. The Year in Review ad keeps coming up in my feed, rotating through different fun-and-fabulous backgrounds, as if celebrating a death, and there is no obvious way to stop it. Yes, there’s the drop-down that lets me hide it, but knowing that is practically insider knowledge. How many people don’t know about it? Way more than you think.
A death in the family is an extreme example, but this poor father wasn’t the only one. Other users too complained about the app and that there was no way to opt out.
So many social media cock-ups by brands this year – the best and most spectacular of which is of course the Let’s Get social 2014 song (above). I still haven’t managed to watch it all the way through. Econsultancy has done the hard work and pulled the ‘fail-iest’ ones together for us. Seriously. ‘Fail-iest’. I’m quoting here.
Videos of the year
The Guardian’s viral video chart does a solid job at picking out the top videos of the year with a list including the gruesome Devil Baby attack and the ubiquitous Ice Bucket Challenge – but for me, nothing beats the Mutant Giant Spider Dog which has racked up over 123 million chilling views.
A truly epic 20 minute compilation of the top 100 goals of the year 2014 from around the world – but how this beauty didn’t make it on there is beyond me.
Looking ahead at 2015
Twitter compiled the most popular New Year’s resolutions based on Tweets: personal health and wellbeing rules the top 10. While there’s nothing to controversial in there it does suggest that the average English speaking Twitter user is probably in line with the most of us. It’s no.5 and no.10 that are interesting to me: first the somewhat ironic resolution to unplug from the digital – voiced on a virtual platform – and the heartening, ‘Don’t fuck it up’ resolution which suggests that a great number of people have something they value enough to worry about losing it through their own actions in 2015.
Crystal ball time: my top three predictions for PR, marketing and digital in 2015
PR moves from blogger relations to influencer relations. Brands are quite comfortable now with working with bloggers, after all, they use a medium not unlike a newspaper or online publication. Once you get your head around the idea that relationships between brands and bloggers needs to be reciprocal you’ll have a better time of things. But influencers don’t all blog. They’re on Instagram, Vine, Twitter, YouTube, Snapchat and whatever else is out there. The idea however, will remain the same. Find people that identify with your brand and make them feel better about it. It will take time, budget and most importantly a dedicated team of PRs/community managers that understand the idea of reciprocity.
The brands will do the trolling. Forbes refers to this as Invective Marketing, or the practive where individuals start trolling other social media users to get a reaction. In terms of brands think of @TescoMobile or @PaddyPower – only slightly more aggro. Both accounts have built a reputation for not bowing down to trolls and, in Paddy Power’s case, increasingly going on the offensive. I think these two and others are going to keep pushing the boundaries and see how far they can take it.
The Apple Watch will be the first mass market wearable technology. Critics will find something to fault with it, but people will buy it anyway. And yes, I count myself to that list: I will be getting one despite knowing how exactly I will be using it or what it actually can do. It will kick off a raft of personal fitness apps as we dive headfirst into the quantified digital self where alongside our social media footprint there will be our digital biometric shadow. A mindbogglingly huge opportunity for Apple and other brands to enter into an even even more intimate relationship with people that is already possible through mobile phones. In addition to your fingerprints and location, your pulse, sleeping and movement patterns will become available. The question/challenge will be about how those incredibly personal bits of data can/should be used to make us live better and healthier and happier lives…!
My favourite Instagram account of the year: Lucas Levitan‘s photo invasion project