Building your presence organically on Twitter is hard work. It requires talent and takes time (but in our opinion it’s the best way). If, however, you need an audience now, like in tomorrow, buying media on Twitter is a viable and interesting alternative. RAAK now offers media buying on Twitter. And as a special to our newsletter subscribers, the first company to advertise through us on Twitter will not be charged any campaign management fees*.

Do you like your Likes?

If you are one of those people fretting about how to measure the value of a ‘Like’ or a ‘Follow’ in your business, perhaps we can help. This week, a post in the Harvard Business Review suggests a formula to measure that elusive Like.

Much ado about nothing?

Finally Judge Leveson pronounced on whether the UK press should be regulated – in response to numerous hacking scandals over the last few years. Incredibly, his 2000 page report contains only two pages on the ‘Relevance’ of the Internet. The Internet is an ‘ethical vacuum’ that should not be regulated like the press should be, he says. And this is because the press claims ethical standards for itself, and it is better resourced.

‘The Internet’ does have its rogues, but by and large it’s a platform that holds remarkable examples of public mindedness, Wikipedia being one of the best examples. Bloggers routinely link to the websites they reference, thereby transferring valuable PageRank. The press rarely abides by such courtesies online. But our chief gripe with Leveson is this: many of these press institutions will cease to exist in print within the next five years, and online their share of attention (and power) will continue to decline as all of us continue to become media publishers. The Leveson report would have been relevant had it been published in 1992, rather than in 2012.

Welcome to the age of post-industrial journalism

We are fans of Clay Shirky and Emily Bell, so any report that they co-author is guaranteed to be lapped up by us. This week they released a report about the future of journalism co-authored with CW Anderson. They note that the report is not about the future of the journalism industry, because the production of journalism is no longer an industry.

Dikembe Motombo to the rescue

Old Spice have done it again. This time with an 8 bit computer game where you, as Old Spice Man, can save the world. It’s fun, it’s cute. But though it’s all those things – we don’t think it will garner the same levels of attention as previous campaigns. This demonstrates how hard it is to make content marketing with impact using games, compared to a medium like video.

Is Dick a techno-utopian?

He has a reputation as a hard-nosed businessman. But in a lecture to his old alma mater this week, Twitter CEO Dick Costello claimed that Twitter is recreating the agora. The agora is a reference to ancient greek town squares, where the community came together and discussed the matters of the day. Utopians the world over long for the days of the agora. Or the digital agora. Dick says old media gave us excellent distribution, but what it didn’t offer were many voices unfiltered and interacting in real time. That’s what Twitter is. Since we at RAAK are hopelessly utopian we can’t but approve of the Dick.

Ethics in an information society

Arguably much much more significant than Leveson, the International Telecoms Union is meeting this weekend to discuss future control of the Internet. Leaks of secret position papers reveal alarming proposals to introduce possibilities to identify users and control traffic. Others point to proposed commercial regulations that would force content providers to pay for transmitting data (you, me and Google), which could also be destructive to the Internet as we know it. And then there were accounts of the ITU drafting branding and digital experts to manage the expected public outcry. In response, we explored the ITU and the ethics of marketing earlier this week.

Drone war-reporter or dronerazzi?

Chalk it up as another reason for journos to be worried. A research project for the construction and modification of “multiple drones for the specific purpose of collecting media”, is a recipient of a $25,000 grant from the University of Missouri’s Information Technology Committee. Meanwhile the Hollywood Gossip site TMZ is denying it’s acquired a drone.

Etailers focus on Pinterest and Mobile

UK retailers are pinning for Xmas, with five of the top 10 retailers (Argos, Asos, Tesco, John Lewis, New Look) having created Xmas Pinterest boards. Meanwhile the US, Paypal reports a 198% rise in mobile payments in this year’s Thanksgiving weekend compared to last year.

How do luxury brands best do Twitter?

Luxury brands famously try and create an air of exclusivity. Twitter is famously open and public. A post in the Drum this week tries to square that circle. We still think that FMCG brands are leading the way in showing how Twitter should be done, regardless of whether you’re a brand of the people or snooty: with personality.

Charities are under pressure too

Word on the streets is that the efficacy of traditional donation channels like direct mail is falling through the floor. What are charities to do? Use the power of the Internet, which is what UK charity, Leukaemia and Lymphoma Research, is doing. It has launched a crowdfunding site which allows users to create challenges and pledges.

Tumblr – a business model at last?

Tumblr might be under pressure from Pinterest but is still growing fast, having nearly broken through the 170 million monthly visitors mark, says Quantcast. This is up from 120 million in January. Tumblr has also just announced analytics, which they offer for $499.

Creative of the week – Leonardo Ulian


You know that the ‘Creative of the Week’ section is inspired by people who blend creativity with technology. This week we take that very literally.

Leonardo Ulian is an Italian visual artist who makes symmetrical patterns with electronic components. He combines transistors, microchips and wiring to create intricate structures, reminiscent of ‘mandalas’, which are ancient designs meant to prepare the mind for meditation.

Lots more detail on FastCodeDesign.

And if you’re in London, Ulian has a show coming up in the Griffin Gallery.

* We reserve the right to decline.


You know that the ‘Creative of the Week’ section is inspired by people who blend creativity with technology. And this week we take that very literally.

Leonardo Ulian is an Italian visual artist who makes symmetrical patterns with electronic components. He combines transistors, microchips and wiring to create intricate structures, reminiscent of ‘mandalas’, which are ancient designs meant to prepare the mind for mediation.

Lots more detail on FastCodeDesign.

And if you’re in London, Ulian has a show coming up in the Griffin Gallery.

A week ago a good friend of mine friend gave up on his marketing career, announcing in a status update on his Facebook page:

“I have gone and stepped off the ledge that was my advertising career.

Too many issues that I simply can’t reconcile with my values; too many viewpoints that are at odds with my own. I should have done this years ago.”

Marketeers are unloved. Survey after survey shows the public likes us less than most professions.

Why are marketeers so unloved? Is it because we trade in smoke and mirrors? We ‘position’, we create ‘story’ ‘angles’, we ‘brand’. The perception is we do all that at the expense of – authenticity.

Authenticity has become a buzzword with respect to the internet and social media. Like much net theory, this one is utopian. It goes that because social media is direct, because it cuts out the middlemen – like the mainstream media, and agents – and because everybody can and do publish – people expect others on social media to be the real deal.

But as mainstream media is being swallowed by social media, it’s bringing its ways and less than utopian values with it. Straight coding programmers play second fiddle to bamboozling wordsmiths, spartan user interfaces has long been replaced with persuasive design and manipulative gamification. Where once was non hierarchical net communities, macro (and micro) celebrities reign.

Can the Internet stick to its Utopian roots?
Because of a leak we now know that in September, Matthias Lüfkens (Twitter), Head of Digital Strategy for global public relations firm Burson-Marsteller, spoke to the International Telecoms Union (ITU) in Geneva. The ITU is a United Nations body tasked with regulating telecoms.

Many have expressed concern – quite rightly in my opinion – that the ITU will be used by nation states as one way to try to put the unruly Internet genie back in the bottle. From Hollywood to Beijing, the Internet has made enemies in powerful places in the last two years. It should watch its back.

The ITU is meeting at a conference called WCIT next week in Dubai to amend its regulations. It will meet behind closed doors and the Internet will be the main topic. Only governments have a vote.

Already there are leaks of documents that show that countries such as Russia want to use the opportunity to not only wrestle control over the Internet (away from the USA), but also to interfere in more insidious ways. For example, an ITU rule is proposed to let countries monitor Internet traffic routed through or to their countries, allowing them to eavesdrop or block access.

As the WSJ points out, the self-regulating Internet:

“…means no one has to ask for permission to launch a website, and no government can tell network operators how to do their jobs. The arrangement has made the Internet a rare place of permissionless innovation.”

Some of this innovation is not about business, of course, it includes porn, spam, and much besides. It includes innovation in the form of sedition that helped Egyptians mobilise against an oppressive government.

Which brings me back to my point about marketeers, truth and Mr Lüfkens of Burson-Marsteller. You will remember that B-M is the same firm that helped Facebook smear Google two years ago.

Mr Lüfkens was brought in by the ITU to talk about social media on an agenda about the Dubai WCIT conference which also noted that there was a high likelihood of:

“an intensive anti-ratification campaign in OECD countries, based on the so-called lack of openness of the WCIT process, resulting in a significant number of countries refusing to ratify the new ITRs (the so-called ACTA scenario).”

ACTA was a secretive treaty that was shelved last year along with SOPA and PIPA. These laws and treaties threatened the Internet’s open architecture, but through a largely grass-roots-driven campaign Internet campaigners won the day.

But, notes the September agenda hopefully, “our communication campaign can mitigate” a similar outcome. Besides Mr Lüfkens, Mr Christian Schroeder, the CEO of Lambie-Nairn, was also on the program – to talk about ‘branding’.

Now, we can only speculate as to the advice that Mr Lufkens and Schroeder gave the ITU. We can only speculate as to what agency is currently conducting the ITU’s counter communications campaign.

It does make me ashamed of the marketing profession. In an information society, where as marketeers spreading information is our bread and butter, do marketeers not have a special responsibility to guard the free flow of information?

We aren’t all like that

Some of us in marketing would like to point Mr Lufkens and Schroeder in the direction of Wael Ghonim, Google’s Marketing Manager for the Middle-East. It was on Ghonim’s Facebook page in honour of a slain young man that the Egyptian uprising’s date was first announced. A courageous act for which he was abducted.

Ghonim is not the only marketeer fighting for an open society.

Earlier this year, Swedish public relations firm Studio Total, at great risk flew across the borders of Belarus in a light aircraft and dropped hundreds of little teddy bears near the town of Ivenets and on the outskirts of the Belarusian capital Minsk.

The bears came down with little parachutes and labels calling for freedom of speech and human rights in Europe’s last remaining hard-line dictatorship.

The difference between Mr Ghonim, the pranksters of Studio Total, and Lufkens-Schroeder? That is something for us to ponder.

And in the meantime, especially if you’re a marketeer, defend the Internet and authenticity this week.

Sigh of relief. New research shows that we do prefer sex to Facebook after all.

Content is King (again) because social is the throne

As PaidContent explains (and we told you ages ago, right?), Content is where it’s at, partly because of social media: “Content publishers are fortunate now to benefit from a massive traffic hose, the social networks.”

Coca-Cola for one has taken heed, relaunching the Coca-Cola website as a content destination. Our verdict? Nice try, but the content is not distinctive enough. For a distinctive voice, our vote goes to Innocent Smoothies.

Prada meanwhile has launched a lookbook as an App. And in other news, Medium, the new publishing platform by Twitter co-founder Evan Williams, has hired a Content Director.

If everybody can publish, everybody can be sued

In times past, libel laws were made to protect individuals against large institutions with mass publishing and distribution power. But how to cope with swarms of individuals that publish and reshare libel on Twitter? Well, reports The Economist, Lord MacAlpine’s lawyers have tried a new model. They sent messages to those of the alleged offenders who had fewer than 500 Twitter followers and told them to make amends by donating to charity. While those with larger followings will face legal steps. Next, libel based on Klout scores?

Ads coming to Instagram?

Facebook recent term changes paves the way for Facebook and Instagram databases to talk to each other. This has lead to speculation that Instagram will soon get ads, while at the same time Facebook will get a deep well of location data, improving its own ad targeting. Bear in mind that very few people enable location on their Tweets, and very few users check into Facebook or Foursquare. But every Instagram pic has location data.

Liveblogs aren’t a gimmick

At last some solid data that shows that live-blogs outperform other online news formats – by up to 300%. Once again proving Emily Bell’s assertion that news is most interesting as it happens. And note, the guys behind WordPress, Automatic has released a great live-blogging plugin for their hugely popular platform.

Piggy-backing on Foursquare

Lufthansa has built a Facebook app that integrates with Foursquare, letting users check into Lufthansa venues (even flights) and earn special rewards. You can earn badges such as the “Early-Bird-badge” by checking into a flight before 6 in the morning. And you can also find out who is on the flight with you. Bonus!

You can’t keep a good simple idea down

You know the story. A plucky challenger tries his best, gets knocked down. But doesn’t give up. They come back for more, round after round. Bloodied but unbowed, the tide slowly shifts. So it is with the much maligned QR codes. Econsultancy has some great tips from the latest tactics and QR codes, and some surprising stats.

Fight for the future

Google this week threw its considerable weight behind a growing tide of concern over the International Telecoms Union (ITU) meeting in Dubai in 9 days’ time. What’s at stake? Pushed by countries like Russia, China, India and South Africa, this UN body wants to take over regulation of the Internet. Documents leaked so far reveal aspirations by some governments to curtail the open architecture of the internet. Do take a moment to watch the short video and send it around.

Creative of the week – Benjamin Redford


Digital aside – we never seem to stop craving those physical objects. Things we can smell and feel. Maybe you’re even old enough to remember slide projectors. Well then, Ben Redford from Mint Digital has combined the melancholy of the old-school projector with 3D-printing, LEDs and other modern technologies to yank it into the Instagram-era.

Projecteo is a small, beautiful projector that takes tiny rolls of 35 mm film which each contain 9 of your Instagram photos. Yes, you can now show your Instagram images on your wall.

Projecteo is still a prototype but it has reached its investment target on Kickstarter, so should be shipping early 2013. Bring on the popcorn.

Another landmark. We were wondering when SMS traffic would show signs of decline in the face of the rise of other digital channels for messaging (Facebook, Twitter, etc). In the US both SMS traffic and revenues have just declined for the first time.

War on Twitter

When the Israeli Defence Force (IDF) decided to live-tweet operations in Gaza, we caught another glimpse of Twitter’s unsettling immediacy. Zeynep Tufekci a year ago wrote about why Twitter was so much more visceral than broadcast TV with regard to the Arab Spring. But rather than inciting concern and compassion, this does something different altogether.

“There is something grotesque and disturbing about two parties with a long history of conflict live-narrating the launching of bombs that kill civilians and destroy communities. There is no empowerment or revolution here: just a dark, sinking feeling as we watch the bloodshed unfold in real time” says Jessica Roy in one of the better posts on the topic.

When gamification is in bad taste

While we think there is an important role for behavioural economics, psychology (see this post on the Obama campaign), and incentives in designing digital tools, crass gamification has it useful and ethical limits. It is instructive that games that imitated life more closely have tended in the other direction. For example the controversial Grand Theft Auto which removed obvious points, goals and badges. You could batter a woman on the street if you wanted. It was pointless. And you could get arrested (or not). And unlike other games, that ability made you feel queasy.

When turned around, when obvious game incentives are applied to real life, it does not seem pointless but if feels strange (to say the least) when applied to war. And that is illustrated by the IDF’s Gamified War blog. It awards badges with points and rewards for sharing content to social media. For example, if you visit the site 10 times, you get the “Consistent” badge. If you search the blog multiple times, you’re promoted to “Research Officer.” Yes, we have gamified war.

Much ado about the newsfeed

The natives are restless. Or rather Mark Cuban, is threatening to leave Facebook because of so-called Like Gate. You will remember we have covered exhaustively claims that through an algorithm change, Facebook is showing fewer of Pages’s updates to people that have Liked them. Some have countered that this behaviour – optimising the Newsfeed – from Facebook is justified, while others yet claim its an attack on the open web. Facebook, perhaps in response, is introducing two new features. You can now subscribe to receive *all* updates from a Page and Facebook is introducing a navigation item where a user can see only updates by Pages. But here’s the rub. One of our clients, Miista, is experiencing exactly the opposite of what everybody is claiming. Engagement rates have never been better. Another client confirmed the same to us yesterday. Stay tuned.

The revolution won’t be tweeted – Live Tweeting rights

You know the drill. An event happens and some broadcaster buys the sole broadcasting rights. Could that happen to Tweets? It already is. In the US journalists are being warned not to tweet “too much” at sports events under the threat of loosing their accreditation. But what about the attending public? Could that be enforced? Not easily. Unless you make sure there is not enough bandwidth. And in the UK that’s already the case, with many football fields not having adequate capacity for fans phones.

Livestream your gameplay

In an attempt to make their games more like spectator sports, Activision announced that it is partnering with YouTube. The game Call of Duty: Black Ops II will allow users in league games to live stream the gameplay. We hope that somewhere in the IDF somebody is not going – aha!

You are not only me, you are a part of US

Here at RAAK we’re a cynical lot. Facebook has gone ahead this week and created couples profile pages for all those listed as ‘in a relationship’ on the site. If logged in, the URL will give you a timeline of your relationship and the things that you and your special other have in common (photos, friends, events, shared Likes). The new feature, essentially Facebook auto-curating your relationship online, has not been kindly received everywhere. An auto-generated joint digital identity that you never asked for is downright none of their business.

It’s Twitter Jim, but as you know it

Twitter Big Data

One for the purists. Raffi Kikorian, Director of the Applications Services group at Twitter, recently gave a talk at GCon, detailing Twitter’s underlying architecture. We’ve lifted a few fascinating facts from the talk that you might not already know.

A test by EdgeRank Checker earlier this week demonstrated the difference between Facebook’s Most Recent Feed and an unfiltered feed. It showed, to no big surprise, that a majority of Pages’ posts don’t reach the Most Recent Feed at all. The test also indicated that the Most Recent Feed filters hides a significant amount of your friends’ activities. 

Facebook has just taken the filtering a step further. They are offering the entirely friends-free version with the new ‘Pages only’ option for your newsfeed. The new link ‘Pages feed’, located in your left hand navigation, gets you a newsfeed with recent updates only from Pages you’ve liked.

It means you can now peruse all the company news, brand or team updates that you have subscribed to, without those distracting updates from your friends. This may be a concession to brands and companies, who with the recent changes to the Facebook algorithm saw their follower reach reduced by up to 40%.

However, users still have to find the link and select that feed view, and it’s highly unlikely that many people will notice a new text link in their list of navigation items. Your friends may be popping up in your feeds for a while yet.

This fascinating talk by Raffi Krikorian, Director of the Applications Services group at Twitter, delivers massively on technical details behind the Twitter architecture. If you’re into that kind of thing, do watch it – seriously. It’s compelling beyond belief.

Twitter Big Data

We have, however, compiled a list of fun facts, to whet your appetite:

  • The Twitter Firehose (containing all Tweets and events happening on the Twitter platform), which is consumed by a select few high-paying clients of Twitter, contains between 20 and 25 megabytes of data. At any given moment, on average, Twitter maintains a million such connections. That is between 20 and 25 terabytes of data they’re sending out per second!
  • Each event on The Twitter Firehose is delivered to these clients within 100 – 150 milliseconds of it being registered
  • In this pool of all things happening on the Twitter Platform, there are ten times more follows and unfollows between users, than there are tweets. This means users in the Twittersphere are socially active, but there are way more consumers than producers.
  • 300000 distinct tweets are being delivered to distinct endpoints per second. These include SMS’s to mobile handsets, various different Twitter clients, servers receiving Twitter data.
  • Twitter runs a cloud of Amazon EC2 server instances which simulate Twitter Clients, constantly tweeting, retweeting, following, unfollowing, and reading timelines, to continuously test Twitter at the highest level.

Now, go watch that talk – it’s worth it!


Oh, how we crave physical objects. Things we can smell and feel. Maybe you’re even old enough to remember those old slide projectors. Well then, Ben Redford from the agency Mint Digital has combined the melancholy of such an old-school projector with 3D-printing, LEDs and other modern technologies to yank it into the Instagram-era.

Yes, Projecteo is a tiny, beautiful projector that takes tiny rolls of 35 mm film, which each contain 9 of your Instagram photos. Yes, you can now show your Instagram images on your wall.

Projecteo still a prototype, but it has reached its investment target on Kickstarter, so should be shipping early 2013. Bring on the popcorn.

These elections were not Televised

Barack & Michelle Obama victory photo
The US presidential elections are no doubt the most visible elections in the world, and one of the biggest events on earth. This week’s elections were not only a triumph for Barack Obama, but also for Social Media as a whole.

Foursquare adds an Algorithm, with added Viral Spice

Foursquare's new Algorithm
Foursquare pushed a seemingly small update to its iOS app this week. However, the update contains two very valuable gems, both of which has far reaching consequences.

Everyone copies Instagram, and Instagram copies Everyone

Miista Instagram
The world of filter-photos is on fire. This week it transpired that both Twitter and Facebook have been working on photo filters themselves. That’s not all: Instagram is finally working on a web presence, like everyone else.

Facebook: the brewing War between Users and Advertisers

Facebook is torn between Users and Advertisers
Facebook finds themselves increasingly torn between users who don’t pay, and users who pay, or advertisers. These two groups have two very different ideals about what content should be.

Creative of the Week – Waldek Węgrzyn

Now, that’s an e-book. Polish art student Waldek Węgrzyn created a physical book as a digital interface.

The world of filter-photos is on fire. This week it transpired that both Twitter and Facebook have been working on photo filters to help us prettify our photos.

At the same time Instagram launched Web profiles. This is the first serious step by the mobile-only app to move into Web territory and it opens up to a much bigger audience of photographers and brands on the platform. Others can now view your Instagram photos online without having an account and Web profiles will make it easier to discover new content and people to follow.

Miista's Instagram profileFor now the functionality is limited to profiles; you don’t get an aggregated photo stream of the people you follow like in the mobile version. But with Facebook owning Instagram, predictions are ripe that a closer integration between the two is on the way.

Just as Facebook launched filters in iOS 5.1 , rumours leaked that Twitter is also about to add filters on their mobile app. With photo filters directly in your Twitter app, you will be able to bypass Instagram entirely if you want to share filtered images on Twitter. The user experience will be different, though. Instagram as a native mobile app is built for mobile use and browsing images only, with the occasional commenting. On Twitter you will (still) need to click a link in a stream of text to view an image. It’s a different user experience, for an audience engaged in a different kind of use flow and mindset. Take that into account when deciding what you want to use image sharing on either platform for.

Clearly the lines are being drawn for the future of social photo platforms. Even Coca Cola wants in on the action, as they are getting ready to launch their own photo-sharing service ‘Happy Places’.

Coca-Cola's Happy Places

So what to make of this if you’re a brand toying with Instagram, or other photo-sharing ideas?

Instagram is still a unique visual social platform with a daily user activity rate that competes with Twitter stats. It’s a beautiful visual storytelling tool for brands. And it just got better. The new web feature will facilitate more user engagement as your profile gives you a landing page on the Web and makes you more discoverable. So get snapping. No doubt there is much more to come.