Sorry, I can’t help

I have deliberated for a few months if I should write this blog post or not. It is difficult for me. It is in my nature to accept any task that I find tantalising for the taste buds. Over the last couple of years I have had great fun being involved with many different social media projects.

In many ways the experience of being publically available online has extended my business network further than the average student in the past could have ever dreamed of. I haven’t even passed my degree and I am getting involved with projects which I would never have dreamed of touching.

I must get to the point… I can’t help with your social media campaign. Sorry.

If only you could see my inbox. It is quite literally screaming at times. My parents and friends find it astounding just how full it is. Whilst this is a common dilemma in the modern world, I must add that it is my personal inbox screaming.

People send me messages on my social networks, through this blog and to my public email address asking for social media advice or larger commitments. I just don’t have the time though. Most of the time I would love to help but my workload is far too great.

Of course I am flattered that people are messaging me asking for help. I don’t wish to sound ungrateful. I have been very fortunate and lucky with how everything has worked out.

If you do have a question about social media the best thing to do would be to message me requesting a blog post on the subject.

A Critique of Apple

Please welcome the newly erected ‘He would say that…’ tag as I tread the highly competitive waters of technological alliances. You only have to read the book ‘No Logo’ by Naomi Klein to know how dangerous brand alliance can be. Indeed how false branding is; especially in a technological world where many companies have various contractual agreements to construct the newest gadget.

This post isn’t about fruity Apples (I like those) but the American Apple. The multinational corporation that has, admittedly, revolutionised the relationship we have with our technology.

I have owned iPods. One of the mobiles I use is an iPhone 3GS. During my studies I have had to use eMacs and iMacs. Despite these mostly wholly positive experiences concerning my consumer relationship with Apple this post tackles a deeper problem. That I believe Apple has as a company in the technological world.

Like everybody else today I wait with baited breath for the new iOS4 release for my iPhone. As I am an iPhone 3GS owner I receive all of the benefits this software comes with. However, unlike everybody else I can’t say that I am willing to generate hype about the software. Apple seems to have the power to delude people so much into their products that people cease to recognise the obvious flaws.

Over the years I have owned a number of mobiles; Nokia, Sony Ericson, Siemens. All of these phones have had the capability to multitask, have folders, change wallpapers and a couple even allowed multiple email accounts to show as a single account.

I am simply not impressed. As if my opinion is worth anything but Apple, in my view, relies on a consumer market that is absolutely delirious, ignorant and uneducated about other gadgets.

The hype that surrounds each product release can only be likened to a mass cult following. There is one simple reason for this; Apple has a brilliant Public Relations team.

Apple’s Digital Public Relations

Other software companies like Microsoft (sorry Microsoft), HP, IBM, Acer, Asus, etc, just release their products into the market. There is very little ‘baited breath’, more of a traditional press release and the reliance that nerds will be seduced by high flying specifications. What we have seen in recent years is that technology is no longer about the specifications. I would hazard a guess that the majority of people who own mobile phones and computers know very little about the inner workings of each device. Instead they care about the device’s aesthetics, how it will enrich their life and the price.

Apple understands this and instead works to release products through a series of controlled leaks. They might act as an individual to say that they claim to have found the new iPhone’s accessories in China which suggests the general layout of the device. A prototype might be left in a bar somewhere. Various rumours will be circulated.

The trick Apple play to sell a product is to create a sense of desire in the consumer. This desire (in my opinion) is mostly irrelevant on the actual merits of the piece of hardware. Each time Apple release a product its hardware specifications are never very high, unlike the price but still people buy.

For those of us who don’t worship Apple we can clearly see this. There are many pieces of technology in the world. Apple is but one company, an interesting one but just another technological multinational.

They have some problems…

As much as Apple is prosperous now I believe the multinational will, in a few years, suffer massive problems regarding its consumer relationships. Whilst controlled leaks are now effective, eventually people will stop caring about the hype generated by this. The only reason controlled leaks currently work is because thousands of people are prepared to be vocally opinionated.

This will coincide with the fact that Apple products largely sell themselves off their design. Make no mistake. When Jonathon Ives joined Apple he designed revolutionary ergonomic aesthetically pleasing designs. Like all designs though eventually Apple products will look extremely dated. Their designs have already changed over time but there will be a summit and a drop.

The support for Apple products varies quite a lot. iMacs are typically known to be good for graphic design. Little do many realise that it isn’t actually Apple software used for graphic design, Adobe produce the software. Oh wait. Isn’t Adobe the company that Apple has fallen out with over flash? Oh yes! Can’t Adobe products also be found on Microsoft Windows? Yes! Then why do graphic designers bother buying Apple? I still can’t work this out. You save money by not buying Apple, end up with quicker hardware and an operating system (Windows 7) that has far more support from software companies compared to Leopard.

Conclusion

I’m sure people at Apple are already fully aware of these points and are mind mapping their way out for the future. Apple is a great company but they are not perfect. Their Digital Public Relations strategies are clever, not revolutionary but some flaws still exist. It will be interesting to see how the market continues to change as time goes on.

With HTC products on the rise, Android continually gaining market share and the Windows Mobile 7 launch later this year – competition has never been higher. I just have a feeling that iPhone 4 is below-par this time and the company will lose valuable market share because of this.

A module for teaching Digital Public Relations?

There is no doubt that social media has a hype attached to it. Such hype leads one to question how effective social media really is beyond all the noise. The effectiveness of a social media campaign can only lie in the abilities of the Social Media Consultant. Over the last few weeks my online scouring activities have shown me that the world is full of social media consultants and social media experts.

The issue is a clear one; which people can be trusted? Currently there are only two methods to postulate the talents of each consultant: the position at the company they work for and through viewing recommendations from others. I strongly believe the size of a public social network does not provide an adequate indication of talent.

It is clear to see that social media is clearly not a fad in passing. As our society becomes increasingly technologically advanced our means to communicate is changing. The relationships we now have with each other are very different compared to the relationships we had at the dawn of the 20th Century. Industries are continuously keeping up with our ever-changing communication lifestyle. I must add that the development of communication is not due to technological advancements but instead necessary steps in our own development as a society.

For this foundational reason it seems clear that because the internet is here to stay, social media is here to stay (but through changing forms) and that the digital world will become the largest communications platform. It is time that we saw people who call themselves ‘Social Media Experts’ or ‘Social Media Consultants’ to actually have a form of relevant education to back up and support their titles. To mean that Universities should keep up-to-date and run modules on Digital Public Relations. In my view when Marketing becomes digital it treads upon the toes of Public Relations.

Perhaps controversially I am at a position where I strongly believe that social media has a more prosperous future compared to the advertising industry. Isn’t it about time that education institutions prepare graduates for the future and teach social media strategies and tactics?

Repudiation of a Gentleman

People rarely stare. They just walk on. Occasionally there will be a purpose for haste but for the most part it is the denial of affirmation that a man will wander head high. If you stand straight, look ahead and walk with vigour then the gentleman may decide not to bother you. Although it is with optimism that I assume people even notice in the first place. Most have become so used to walking past the homeless gentleman perching on the side of the bank that little matters.

Shouldn’t it be disgusting that the wealth within the vaults of the bank could change this man’s life and bring him closer to something known as eudemonia? I suppose it doesn’t matter. We can slip our credit cards into the chip and pin device, drain our finances in order to step closer to our own personal eudemonia. Carry our bags past the spot where the homeless gentlemen sits, little knowing that the material weight should instead be a weight on our moral conscience.

Each man should use life to further ourselves but do we ever consider the gentleman to instead be a victim of the cards life dealt. He could have shot himself with smack, drank until he couldn’t stand or commit a deed upon another so vicious to render him without a home. Alternatively he could have lost his job, woken without a pay check and found himself without hope. Strange how those who don’t have a home must be broken in some way, whereas the gluttonous banker can live a life of affirmation, financial security and selfishness.

Days pass, weeks roll on and that homeless gentleman clenches his empty soup cup waiting for coins to find that next meal. Only a handful of people care but for the most part the gentleman’s gaze duly looks through a forest of different designer trousers and shoes.

The reason for this article?

That homeless gentleman from Cheltenham died.

The worst part?

At first I didn’t notice.

The soup cup is still there along with a single card of loving comments and a few flowers. Only a few people bother to look but most walk past as if the gentleman was still alive. That poor gentleman, the shameless public. The repudiation of a gentleman.