Social Media

Social Media news and trends

How To Stop Facebook From Using Your Browsing History For Targeted Advertising

Last week Facebook announced plans to target advertising to all of its users by utilising information gained by your browsing history. Basically Facebook will act as intermediary and deliver the targeted ads from advertiser to user, but stressed that it won’t share an individual user’s web-browsing information with advertisers directly.

There are two ways of looking at this latest change, you could take the liberal approach of “if this means I get adverts of products or services that directly interest me rather than random garbage then what’s the problem?” or the slightly pessimistic view of “how dare they use my personal browsing history to benefit advertisers

This has sparked an interesting debate on how our browsing data is used, but there is a surprising number of websites already doing this anyway, how else do you think that shortly after booking flights to New York, it seems that every website you visit has adverts for New York Hotels.

However the Digital Advertising Alliance has come to the rescue to prevent your browsing habits outside of Zuckerberg’s behemoth from being used to help deliver custom Facebook ads, this service will also raise a few raised eyebrows at just how many companies are utilising your browsing history.

So if you would like to take a look at what’s under the hood of your browser, simply disable any pop up blockers you may have installed and follow these simple steps on how to stop Facebook from using your browsing history for targeted ads.

Visit the Digital Advertising Allowance here and the scanning against your browser will begin.

Stop Facebook Targetting Ads

You might be a little surprised at just how many companies are using your browsing history so tick  the box for Facebook and any other cheeky sites you don’t feel comfortable following you and simply press “Submit your choices”

Stop Facebook Targetting Ad 2

After a short wait, you should be greeted with a message saying “Opt Out Complete” and you can smile smugly safe in the knowledge that you just secured a tiny victory against Mark Zuckerberg and maybe even watch the scene from the movie “Social Network” that states Ads aren’t cool, Facebook is Cool.


Eduardo Saverin: “You know what, settle an argument for us. I’d say its time to start making money from theFacebook but Mark Zuckerberg doesn’t want advertising. Who’s right?”

Sean Parker: “Neither of you, yet. TheFacebook is cool. That’s what it’s got going for it.”

Mark Zuckerberg: “Yeah.”

Sean Parker: “You don’t want to ruin it with ads because ads aren’t cool.”

Mark Zuckerberg: “Exactly.”

How times have changed and ironically, maybe this is the reason that Facebook is no longer cool.

3 Reasons Consumers Turn to Social Media for Customer Service

As consumers we all know exactly how we want to be treated, we are all unique individuals who expect human interaction in this digital world of endless communication possibilities. I believe it’s fair to say that as digital natives we all understand how engaging customers, building an authentic community with strong relationships with your audience and obeying the golden rule of befriending your customers rather than bombarding them with selling messages is becoming paramount.

However, for many years businesses have made it increasingly difficult for their own customers to reach them, which goes against all of these basic modern principles, so it should be of no surprise that there has been a dramatic shift of frustrated users turning to social media channels to voice their concerns knowing that a public facing forum is their only chance of being heard. How did this happen?

Call Centre Hell

The infamous ‘helpline’ in loathed by most and although businesses have put in place a process to ensure that calls are routed to the right department in order to cut down on call waiting times, the customer experience is not one that anyone would want to repeat any-time soon. (more…)

Twitter Hidden Cash Arrives In The UK

A social experiment has gone viral over the last few days here in the UK, where a mysterious mystery benefactor is using the Twitter account @hiddencash_UK and tweeting clues to help their followers find envelopes filled with a £50 prize in cash.

@hiddencash_UK simply tweets photos of the locations where the envelopes are posted along with the clue and the first to reach the hiding place wins. The winners are then encouraged to tweet a picture of themselves with their loot.

As the Twitter hunt for hidden cash reaches the UK, the response has been phenomenal with over 33,000 followers on Saturday afternoon but as media coverage increased a new influx of followers seemed to cause the Twitter spam filters to suspend the account.


This can be filed under the ‘lessons learned’ section of the social experiment, but it should also leave the people at Twitter with red faces but at around 18:20 the account was reinstated with over 36,000 followers and an increased curiosity about this stranger hiding envelopes of cash.

I wonder how long it will be before you see that cringe worthy advert on a newspaper saying “Do you know the identity of @hiddencash_UK? Call us now” Before others try and spoil the magic behind this pay it forward style treasure hunt, maybe we should all just soak up people performing selfless acts to help others all over the world.

The idea started in San Francisco last week  but quickly spread across other states in America before going global only a few later and there are other accounts performing the same treasure hunt in Nigeria, India, Hong Kong, the Netherlands and now the UK.

The first £50 drop began in Leeds but it wasn’t long before Twitter followers in Manchester, Sheffield and Brighton enjoyed a piece of the act prompting BBC 5 Live, Sky News and UK newspapers to spread the word, so its only a matter of time before the inevitable media frenzy ensues.

twitter cash

The anonymous creator has told the media, that his cash giveaways are a “social experiment for good” and the only details are that the person behind @hiddencash_UK is a 25-year-old male, who made his money though several e-commerce businesses, and added that up to £200 could be stashed in the capital’s drop on Sunday according to the Daily Telegraph.

He also told the Daily Telegraph the following:

“I had seen the version in the US and thought it was a really great idea. I thought why not bring that over here and the reaction has been really good.

“I’m in a fortunate position to be able to give away money on a daily basis at the moment. I have had a few businesses in e-commerce that have done really well for me.

“It got to a point where there is only so much stuff that money can buy and for myself – as well as for the people finding the money – I find it quite fun. (more…)

News Reader Apps: How Do You Consume Your News?

The noise of the internet can be a little overwhelming sometimes with the endless online feeds of information to check such as Facebook and Twitter. How do we find time to catch up on good old-fashioned news? The traditional newspaper is rapidly becoming an outdated concept now that the world is moving at such a rapid pace, leaving the familiar narrative cycle of build them up, knock them down, redemption and comeback stories to be completed by the time the humble newspaper ends up in your hands.

This has led to online magazine-style news reading apps such as Flipboard, Pulse, Zite and News360 to change the way we consume news and information. We now connect all of our social networks, add topics that we are interested in and enjoy our own fully customised online publication that is constantly updated to ensure that we know about any story as it breaks.

With this constant stream of content, why would anyone find the need to subscribe to a Rupert Murdoch owned online newspaper that locks its information behind a paywall? Sadly for this reason alone, Newspapers sales are on the decline but many of the reasons can be attributed to the failure to adapt to the brave new digital world.

With a growing number of Newsreader apps, which one is the best to adopt as a user? And which is best to market your website on? It is probably not too much of a surprise to see that this is a 4 horse race between Flipboard, Pulse, News360 and Zite.


As Zite has now been sold to Flipboard, I would expect it to be integrated and then retired leaving only three top news reader apps.

Flipboards strength is giving users the ability to add your favourite social networks, publications and blogs, but also create your own magazines that can be shared with other like-minded users on niche subjects which ultimately turns the user into a content curator themselves.

For example, at the height of Breaking Bad’s popularity I created a magazine for fans that contained all the information about the show in one place. Even now, this simple magazine has over 1,400 subscribers, which illustrates the way in which we consume content has changed so much. Whatever your interest might be, there will be a niche feed or for you to enjoy.

As someone who helps run a gaming website called Expansive, having the ability to showcase our work in a magazine format is a no brainer and one of the first things that I had to set up and bring our content to an even bigger audience.


Interestingly, Pulse dominates the technology category and its strengths lie in the updates that are condensed into rows with a visual mosaic of pictures rather than organizing stories under headlines or pages making it ideal to digest content very quickly.

News360 is the app you probably haven’t heard of but don’t let that put you off, although very similar to their competition, where you can subscribe a wide range of niche news categories, you can also add your own website too, which allows you bring more traffic to your website. I was able to add our feed for Expansive with a few emails to the site admin team.

My favourite aspect of News360 is that allows you to view multiple news sources for the same article which essential if performing any research on a particular subject.


Anyone working in digital will tell you how meaningless it can be chasing meaningless numbers of followers when engagement is the key to almost everything online now. Interestingly Pulse has a much higher rate of engagement than its competitors; much of this can be attributed to its strong integration with LinkedIn.

All of these apps bring something slightly different to the table and personally I love Flipboard for browsing through your social networks, adding Twitter Lists, online content and having the ability to be active in content curation.

Pulse and News360 are particular good for discovering the latest trends but ultimately I would strongly recommend that anyone interested in news should try dipping their toes in all three of these apps to see what works for you.

If you have any online tips surrounding online newsreaders, please let me know as I would love to hear how you access and manage/promote online news.

Can Social Media and Live Music be the Perfect Mix?

I am often fascinated at music gigs by how many people watch the performance through a screen on their phone, rather than savouring every last minute of the band they have paid to see. We all know that by the time you get home, the photos will be blurred and the video barely audible but it doesn’t stop many in the audience doing their upmost to freeze this moment in time, which begs the question ‘Are we spending too long trying to record the moment than actually enjoying it?

Social media and music are the perfect cocktail as fans do their best to secure bragging rights and be the envy of their friends by posting selfies on Instagram, checking into Facebook at the venue. Social Media Is all about sharing and there isn’t many things more powerful than live music so it feels natural to want to share that special moment.

As we all attempt to make sense of this new digital world and how we can use Social Media to make live events interactive there are some that are leading the way such as Eddie Izzard who has Twitter screens displayed either side of the stage to interact with the audience where as some venues and bands are learning the benefits of using hashtags to track live events.

Despite some acts encouraging their fans to Tweet and take photographs during a performance as they understand the power of sharing on Social Media, there are some artists that seem frozen in the past at a time where their security could demand that all cameras are taken off their fans for them to collect after the show. The rise of the smartphone has thankfully left unreasonable behaviour like this in the past, or has it?

Anyone that had chance to see Prince this year will tell you surreal stories of the moment when one of the women of 3RDEYEGIRL come onto the stage to welcome the audience, and announce they were about to put on “the best show you’ve ever seen”, followed by a reminder about the no photo/video/cell phone policy.

The average Tweeter is somewhat of a rebellious breed and no singer is ever going to stop the masses snapping pics but the Prince management are not going to give up either so there were also extra staff on the floor prepared to eject anyone who violated this request, which seemed to consist of “delete it now or leave”.


However in the defence of Prince, there is an argument that for him, the show is not about photos, selfies or tweeting, but about having his fans undivided attention. Enjoying a show without looking at your phone once and leaving without a single image to remind you of the night feels a little strange but is that a bad thing?

Prince who famously does not even own a mobile phone said at a show in California “Thank you to each and every one of you for leaving your cellphones in your pocket, I can’t see your face when you’ve got technology in front of it.”

Thankfully artists who charge their fans £130 a ticket and demand they do not take any photographs or Tweet are few and far between and the big bands of tomorrow are embracing start-ups like Rabbl, which asks, “Should this BAND play this TOWN during this WEEK, at this ticket PRICE?” The band also sets the GOAL, the number of tickets it needs to play the show.

For example Clap Your Hands Say Yeah who were all to familiar with the high risks involved in booking a small venue and making financial commitments in advance but without knowing if anyone would actually show up. Social booking site Rabbl enabled them were to approach a small venue with 92 reserved tickets for a show that wild never have been scheduled if it wasn’t for the this website.

Another interesting start-up called Living Indie for music fans tackles the issue of not being able to attend a gig due to it being sold out. What if you could go home, turn on your big smart TV and turn your couch into a Concert Hall so you could watch the gig without queuing at the bar or toilet?

Living Indie wants to become the Netflix of live concerts and gives you the ability to share the concert with friends, with the added bonus of being completely free at the moment too.

Facebook, Twitter, You Tube and Linkedin might be the first Social Networks that you can name but the future is pointing to a tidal wave of niche social networks that will lead the way and fill all of the holes left by the behemoth that is Facebook.

Zeebox Rebranded As Beamly & Recruits Online Influencers In Bid To Become Social Network for Television

Physical media is dead right? The days of browsing through TV listings in newspapers and magazines have gone, all you need is to do is simply fire up the Zeebox website or app and you can see instantly what is on the old TellyBox, along with what people are saying on Twitter, which is very often more entertaining than the TV show itself.

However, I discovered today that the former start-up realised that their user base were mostly young women, so have now repackaged Zeebox and relaunched as “Beamly” and begin to market this new brand to women aged under 35, in a bid to become the ultimate social network for TV viewers. This prompts my cynical side to think that this is quite simply one last shot at trying to get brought out by Sky or Twitter, which will finally allow the venture to make some money.

Rather than concentrating on speculation, I hand you over to the CEO and co-founder, Ernesto Schmitt, who simply points out.“The initial phase of social television and second screen was limited to apps providing a companion experience for audiences while watching TV,” 

“However, people’s emotional engagement with TV spans the whole day: they want to read up on stories about the shows and stars they love in the morning, discuss plotlines over the watercooler in the afternoon, and carefully plan what to watch in the evening – long before ever switching on the TV itself. While they watch, they want a great interactive experience that synchs with what’s on screen. And after the show is over, they want to chat and share socially with other fans. Beamly for the first time brings together all of these touchpoints with TV in a single app, all day long.”

So in a nutshell, here is the simple recipe for the big rebrand.

Simply remove the name Zeebox and the orange-look of the brand, replace with fluffy pinks and purples and a new name of “Beamly” but keep all of the original features only with a stronger emphasis on following shows and celebrities to appeal to the targeted “female under 35” demographic.

Most interestingly, Beamly has signed up more than 100 ‘influencers’ from social media sites such as YouTube to engage with users within the app before sending out the all-important press release. It’s this announcement that has made me sit up and take notice. Especially considering that Social Media reach now eclipses the reach of your traditional TV, so seeing these two mediums working together is interesting to say the least.


The growing importance of social media reach and online influence.

More and more companies seem to be realising that to make something a success, they need to spread the word fast, and the only way of achieving this, is by recruiting trusted people with a large online following and social media influence.

Although there remains a great deal of scepticism about the metrics used to measure the dark art of online influence used by sites such as Klout, Kred  and Peerindex, this is a fascinating subject and its benefits if mastered are undeniable.

The main reason for the rebranding was to lose its male geeky image, so ultimately it looks like I will now need to get my online Social TV experience fix elsewhere. I cannot help but feel the problem that held Zeebox back will also continue to hinder Beamly too, and that’s the fact that our TV habits have changed and the traditional method of watching TV is on the decline, as we binge view our way through boxsets of House of Cards and Breaking Bad on services such as Netflix.

However, I remain fascinated by the increasing high importance of online influence, so for this reason alone, I will continue to monitor the growth of this digital success story.

Why Businesses Need To Listen To Customers On Social Media

The age old questions surrounding Social Media continue to be heard in boardrooms frequented by grey suits who have been repeating “but what’s the ROI?” on practically every strategy for the last 50 years and although you can attempt to explain this through measuring engagement, click rate, page impressions, online influence and analytical software with social media, there are still people running businesses who think that Facebook is for kids and say things like “I don’t get Twitter, I would never use it and no intention of using it”

Possibly the hardest lesson for many to learn is that the brand is no longer the marketer, but the customer is. Even if you manage to tackle this wall of negativity, you often quickly run into the “What if people say negative things about us?” These are just a few examples of everyday 20th century thinking and how it has no place in the modern world if you want to run a successful business.

Prepare for a wake-up call, no matter how much you bury your head in the sand, there are hundreds, maybe even thousands of conversations taking place online right now about your brand. You have a simple choice of either embracing this as an opportunity to understand your customers or carry on ignoring what is happening.


Social Media and E-Commerce Qualification – A Digital Project

After getting increasingly suspicious of certain individuals who proudly display the self-proclaimed title of “Social Media Guru” I thought it would be a good time to look into obtaining an officially recognised and respected qualification in Social Media, E-Commerce and Digital Communication.

I must confess to initially being somewhat surprised at the distinct lack of qualifications available in this area, which seems to be dominated by like-minded individuals with a strong digital footprint and social reach/influence.

How could something that dominates our modern world and employment landscape, be so dangerously unregulated? The penny then finally dropped, and I realised that no certificate or qualification could ever teach you how to build online relationships.

No exam could ever replace a respected and trusted strong following across a multitude of networks where you can quite literally influence thousands of people; this is where digital natives earn their stripes on the social battlefield.

The days of showing  a piece of paper that says you passed an exam will soon disappear in some circles as the proof of what you can actually deliver and offer to any potential employer should already be out there. There are no short-cuts to achieving this but hard work and a passion for everything you do will ensure you shine brightly.


I then spoke to my fellow digital native Robin Buxton who confirmed this when he pointed out

“As with many things in the digital world and IT in general, it’s about what you know, not what pieces of paper you hold. 

The world of digital marketing, which includes social media and e-commerce moves so fast that any course produced would be out of date as soon as it was written”.

Although the internet receives more than its fair share of criticism, in many ways Social Media is one of the few remaining areas of our world where only those that are a genuine good citizen can succeed.

You can’t lie, broadcast to your audience and there is nowhere to hide. You have to add value to the network otherwise it doesn’t need you. You have to give to get and for me personally, this represents the human condition in its purest and undiluted form.

So with this is mind, I thought I would create my own project and tell my own story and experience with Social Media Marketing and E-Commerce. My story will start right at the beginning and tackle the basics and hopefully we can learn a few things together along the way.

I will try and complete 2 posts a week, so please contact me directly or post a comment on any of the future posts and share your thoughts and we can make this mini digital project a success.

Facebook Buys Oculus Rift For $2 Billion and The Internet is Not Happy

Facebook has just announced that it’s buying Oculus Rift for $2 billion, no you are not reading some clever political satire here, the Zuckerberg behemoth has struck again!

Initial thoughts of a nightmarish future that feature the worlds population plugged into games like Farmville and Candy Crush Saga as targeted adverts are sent directly to your brain in rapid succession spring to mind but Facebook isn’t that creepy is it? I cannot help but feel a little suspicious of their motives, when they say that they want to promote a device for social purposes, anyone who has ever seen a photo of it Oculus Rift in action can see that you cannot get much more anti social than strapping a computer to your face.

The full statement from Mark Zuckerberg states the following.

“I’m excited to announce that we’ve agreed to acquire Oculus VR, the leader in virtual reality technology.

Our mission is to make the world more open and connected. For the past few years, this has mostly meant building mobile apps that help you share with the people you care about. We have a lot more to do on mobile, but at this point we feel we’re in a position where we can start focusing on what platforms will come next to enable even more useful, entertaining and personal experiences.


How to Create Viral Content?

Recently I have become increasingly fascinated by how quickly stories can spread on the internet via social media and after 2 posts on my humble blog unexpectedly gave me over 28,000 hits in one month, I found myself asking the infamous question “What makes content go viral?” I think this is something, that everybody is searching for, but I’m not sure there is a black and white answer and let’s face it, if it really was that simple, everybody would be doing it.

The only person that I can think of who has the whole viral thing under control is Neetzan Zimmerman. When he was writing for one of the world’s biggest blogs Gawker, he generated more traffic than all of Gawker’s other writers combined, before leaving to become the Editor in Chief at Whisper.

With no background or training in journalism, I found his story fascinating and also inspirational, but anyone looking for a key that will unlock all of his secrets will be disappointed because the key to his success is down to good old fashioned hard work and elbow grease.

A 12 hour shift from 7 a.m. to 7 p.m. that consists of posting 10-15 items a day where most of them do not go viral would be soul destroying for those wanting a fast track to success, but nothing in life comes easily and this is all part of the fun.

Everywhere you look, we are bombarded with constant adverts telling us that we can lose weight quickly in only a few weeks or make large sums of money for doing very little in the comfort of your home, but life simply doesn’t work this way and maybe I was brainwashed by being raised on a diet of 80’s TV shows that always ended with a moral at the end of every episode and that you really can achieve anything you want, if you work hard enough, but this kind of work ethic has stuck with me over the years.

We are all guilty of sneering at that certain someone who has achieved more in their life as simply lucky, but I remain convinced that behind any success story is someone who has worked tirelessly for countless hours without reward before their moment of glory arrived.