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A glance at Google+

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Originally posted on cre8ivewisdom.co.uk

I’ll be honest, after the epic failure of Google Buzz, I didn’t have high hopes when I first heard about Google’s new attempt at a social networking site. However, Google have been working on the elements for Google+ for a long time – unlike the thoughtless rush to jump on the social media bandwagon which was Buzz. There are the sceptics who feel that ‘Plus’ won’t add anything new to the world of SNSs, who believe that the platforms they use are enough (or too much) already. Who needs another Facebook/Twitter/Linkedin and the rest…? Well, don’t knock it ‘til you’ve tried it! Google+ has the potential to replace all of these social networks, pulling together the much-loved news feed of Facebook, the real-time updates of Twitter, the networking approach of LinkedIn and many snazzy new features! But can we really see people ditching Facebook, especially those who have only just been tempted there.

After hearing and reading more and more about Google’s new venture into the world of SNSs I became more and more interested and almost desperate for an invite. Luckily, it wasn’t long until one of my Twitter acquaintances (Twacquaintances?) managed to share a message with me from Google+ containing that golden ticket – a link to join the back of the growing Google+ train! The ‘by invitation only’ slow roll-out approach is perhaps a bit ‘old school’, and frustrating for those who want to get stuck in straight away – I feel that it might put people off joining if they are unable to straight away, which is disappointing. A social networking site only works if there are enough people active to network socially with each other!

On the other hand, it seems to be working pretty well at creating a buzz (no pun intended) for them. People were and are asking around existing social networks in order to receive invites to join – myself included. When the tables turned and I held the key for others to join, my @mention stream & DMs were going crazy with people after a way in! As long as it isn’t too long until the doors are opened to everyone, this could work well with keeping people excited as waves of new members become active.

Because of the limitations to signing up, the word that sticks out to me is ‘potential’. Google+ has the potential to be huge. The features on it are great, and there are loads. If there’s one thing that separates this platform to anything else, it’s the ability and ease to choose which circles you share different things with different people. This means that you can easily keep your work and play separate on the same site.

The +1 button which is beginning to appear all over the web works much like an external Facebook ‘like’ button and is great for recommending webpages and articles with Google+ as a hub. By clicking the +1 next to search results, for example, it creates a list of pages you recommend on your Google+ profile (demonstrated here). This is probably the key feature that I have picked up as having potential for usefulness for brands and marketers, for the time being, anyway.

While my overall initial opinion of Google+ is positive, it’s difficult to enjoy it to its full advantage until a decent amount of people in my social circles join it…. so I can add them to my virtual Google circles and start sharing links, photos, videos – sharing the experience  with them. When Google opens the floodgates for all, I hope that many people will join and make Google+ the great network it has the potential to be!

 

You can add me to your circles & start sharing things with me at: gplus.to/lilyjay

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Facebook Obsessed?

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Just a few Facebook facts and stats, via Mashable.

So what is it about Facebook, and other social networks, that make them so popular? And in some cases, addictive?

Usability analysis: Freud Communications

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It is important that a website fulfills the need to complete tasks by the target user. There are many elements that must be considered in order to create and sustain a successful and beneficial website. Freud Communications is a large public relations company with large, world famous clients such as Nike and Pepsi.

Assuming the main purpose of their website is to provide information to potential clients, the usability and effectiveness of the site has been analysed.

The Freud Communications homepage

Searchability

  • Search Engine Optimisation (SEO) means maximising the use of key terms the target user of the website is likely to enter in a search engine.
  • Searching ‘Freud Communications’ in Google produces the website as the first result, ‘Freud public relations’ and ‘Freud London’ shows the website third. This proves successful in SEO for users searching for the particular company.
  • Similar searches with more information regarding the type of company, but without the word ‘Freud’ gathered no results on the first page.
  • SEO is only present for users already knowing the name of the company, not for potential new clients looking for public relations and marketing companies.
  • Most of the text on the website is displayed as images, meaning there is less opportunity for keywords to be picked up by search engines.

Navigation

  • Information is easy to find under a straightforward list of links: ‘Our Services’, ‘Our Clients’, ‘Our Beliefs’, ‘Our People’, ‘Contact Us’. All links work well and take the user to the anticipated section of the site.
  • Sections are colour coded which may help in increasing memorability
  • The whole website is on one page, with the links changing the text and image on that same page rather than directing to a new one. This causes problems with the way that people are used to moving around the web – the browser’s ‘back’ and ‘forward’ buttons to not function within the site.

Design

  • The Freud Communications website is attractive and looks sophisticated, mainly due to the simplicity of it. The light colours on the black background enable the site to stand out from the majority of other pages on the web.
  • Most of the text on the site is clear, although some sections contain grey, red, purple and green text on the black background which is more difficult to read.
  • A good feature of the site is that it uses a “liquid layout” where the frame and the text size changes according to the size of the window.

Content

  • Web-users aim to complete a task as quickly as possible, meaning pages are more likely to be scanned for keywords rather than read.
  • Text on the Freud site is minimal and words are sometimes highlighted using size and colour. However, it can sometimes be difficult to tell what is aimed to be highlighted when the text on a page is in three different colours.
  • There is little information about current or previous clients. The homepages of some major competitors to Freud Communications PHA Media, Splendid and Shine Communications highlight recent news and events – Freud would benefit from including this. Video and audio examples of work would also benefit the company.

Interactivity/User Generated Content (UGC)

  • The website offers no UGC or opportunities for users to interact with the company or other visitors. The only way to communicate with the company is the provided telephone number or email address (which is only found under ‘Job Opportunities’).
  • Another way companies successfully use interactivity and UGC is through social media. Freud Communications currently do not have active Twitter or Facebook accounts (the Twitter account is protected and has zero following and followers).

To read the full, essay version click here.

Timeline: General Elections 2010

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It’s official that we now have a hung parliament. I’m still not sure if that’s a good or bad thing, or even completely sure what it means, the only certainty is that we still don’t know what’s going on, and it may well be a while.

Here’s a look back at some key, and interesting, events in the run up to polling day.

6 April 2010 – The Queen agrees to the dissolution of parliament. Brown announces there is to be a general election on May 6 2010. The race begins.

8 April 2010 – Both Labour and Tory accused of infringing copyright by using a picture from Ashes to Ashes on their campaign posters.

Conservative campaign poster

Labour campaign poster

9 April 2010 – Labour candidate Stuart McLennan forced to stand down after posting offensive comments on Twitter.

12 April 2010 – Labour launch their manifesto.

Jeremy Paxman interviewed Nick Clegg (so far, unsuprisingly, neither Brown or Cameron agreed to be interviewed by Paxman).

This is when my personal interest in Clegg and Liberal Democrats began, after being impressed with his ability to give somewhat straight answers under Paxman’s interrogation – an ability that politicians usually lack.

13 April 2010 – Conservative and Liberal Democrats launch their manifestos.

The leaders battle it out on live television

Richard Hughes of Keane was unimpressed with the Tories playing their song at the launch.

15 April 2010 – The first leader’s debate makes history as the first time UK party leaders have gone head to head in front of a television audience.

It was this debate that saw the beginning of ‘Cleggmania’ – various opinion polls showed that Clegg ‘won’ the debate. ‘I agree with Nick’ (#iagreewithnick) became a popular phrase after both Cameron and Brown’s use of the phrase.

21 April 2010 – David Cameron gets an egg thrown at him by a 16-year-old in Cornwall. The yolk unfortunately stained his fresh shirt.

22 April 2010 – The people of Twitter decided to blame pretty much everything on Nick Clegg, adopting the hashtag #nickcleggsfault. This fights back at newspaper bias of stories in the Daily Mail, Telegraph, Express and the Sun.

#nickcleggsfault

The hashtag #nickcleggsfault used across the world

The second leaders’ television debate. Brown and Cameron didn’t agree with Clegg as much – perhaps recognising him as a slight threat now.

Marmite threatened to take legal action when the product is shown in a BNP broadcast.

23 April 2010 – Jeremy Paxman interviews David Cameron. Cameron states he wouldn’t join forces with Clegg in the event of a hung parliament.

27 April 2010 – Conservative candidate Philip Lardner is suspended after claiming on his website that homosexuality is ‘not normal behaviour’.

28 April 2010 – ‘BigotGate’, or ‘Gordon’s Gaffe’. The press goes crazy after a microphone was left on and recorded Brown in his car calling a bigotted woman, well, a bigot. He is later followed by a crowd of reporters to her house to apologise.

Gordon Brown talking to Mrs Duffy, who he later brands a 'bigot'

Gordon Brown talking to Mrs Duffy, who he later brands a 'bigot'

29 April 2010 – The third leaders’ debate in which, according to opinion polls, David Cameron seemed to be the favourite.

30 April 2010 – Controversially, the Guardian announces it back the Liberal Democrats. It differs, at least, from Murdoch’s famous Tory-backing empire, but again raising the issue as to whether or not newspapers should be impartial.

Jeremy Paxman interviews Gordon Brown, quizzing him about the economy, the expenses scandal, immigration and ‘BigotGate’

Voters queuing at polling station (from guardian.co.uk)

Voters queuing at local polling station

2 May 2010 – Another homophobic strike for Conservative when it comes out that Tory MP Philipa Stroud ran prayer sessions to ‘cure’ gay people.

4 May 2010 – Labour candidate Manish Sood states that “Gordon Brown has been the worst Prime Minister we have had in this country.”

6 May 2010 – Polling day – the talk of the night being that thousands of people across the country were turned away at 10pm and not allowed to vote – even after some had been queueing since 7pm.

I stayed up to watch Channel 4’s Alternative Election Night. This way I felt cultured without being bored half to death. No matter how interested in politics I’ve become over the past month – waiting for 650-odd constituencies to count some papers is never going to be that exciting! Comedy is a godsend

7 May 2010 – Results show that there is officially a hung parliament. The wait begins!

Clegg: Tweeting his way to victory?

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I’ve caught the election bug.

When I heard there was to be a general election next month, I immediately buried my head in Wikipedia, and various other web pages, teaching myself the basics of politics. I decided I wanted to grab hold of my first opportunity to vote – and make sure I used it wisely.

After finally managing to understand (well, kind of) the whole left-right-centre thing, as well as the main ideologies of the three leading parties.

'X' marks the spot.

I’ve never before been interested in politics (I’ve always shared the popular opinion: ‘it’s boring, and they’re all liars and cheats anyway, so what’s the point?’). However, I’ve suddenly grown a slight addiction to watching, reading and listening to politics news coverage, checking policies against each other and watching and reading manifestos as they come out. I wasn’t brought up with a particular political stance – my parents pretty much have the same opinion that I did, so it’s completely up to me to decide, from scratch, where I put the ‘X’ on May 6.

I think the most important thing we need is change, to get us out of this economical mess and move forward as a country. So for real change – parliamentary change for starters – many people believe that Labour should be out of power. Then there’s their main competitor, the Tories. Conservatives are all about traditionalism, and seems to favour the upper classes by ways of hierarchy. The recent proposal the Conservative Party has put forward (£150 tax break for married and civil partnered couples) to me, seems a massive step backward for our society. This favours traditional 2.4 families over single-parent families as well as modern couples who feel they don’t need or want to wed to lead a happy life. So can we really expect to move forward with Tories in power? For me, that’s them out. That leaves the Liberal Democrats, who don’t really have a chance anyway.

At least that’s what everyone thought.

Nick Clegg was adamant from the beginning that this election was not going to be a two-man race, and it seems that since the very first TV election debate between the three leaders, Lib Dems may actually have a chance. Opinion polls show closing gaps between the parties, some even placing Clegg on top. While watching the Leaders’ Debate, I was following reactions through the masses of tweets flooding with the hashtag #leadersdebate. A recurring opinion is that Clegg came across as the most genuine and calm out of the three (it seems Cameron and Brown would rather directly insult each other than discuss policies).

'Facebookers': Campaigning for the impossible?

10 Downing Tweets provides a snapshot of Twitter’s party preferences, currently showing Clegg as leading with 39% of the vote. Following the success of getting Rage Against the Machine’s Killing in the Name to Christmas No. 1, Facebook users are attempting a similar campaign attempting to win Lib Dems power this year.

Social networking and microblogging seem to be playing a big part in this year’s election. An increasing amount of political organisations, politicians and local MPs (and even Nick Clegg himself) having Twitter and Facebook accounts, ‘keeping up with the times’, communicating with many first-time voters, and fighting for the most fans and followers.

So can we expect a huge change in parliament? Or even a hung parliament? Who knows… but I do believe social networking may well be very influential in the outcome.

Tweeting?

Some suggestions of accounts to follow

in the run-up to the elections:

@tweetminster

@10DowningTweets

@BBCElection

@GdnPolitics

@UKLabourParty

@Conservatives

@libdems

@nick_clegg

Web Surfery

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Let’s start this thing off.

I’m a student, therefore I spend a lot of time aimlessly surfing the web.

The internet is huge, but I always find myself on the same sites time and time again.

I know I’m not alone when I say that my browsing history is filled by Facebook. I’m no sure I’d say it’s the most entertaining site, although it’s definitely where I spend most of my time! It’s a simple communication tool, a good way of keeping up to date with friends’ news, and great for just being nosey!

I’ve recently got myself stuck into Twitter, I feel that it’s such a good way of networking, and becoming an active part of the social media world. I have already found myself some contacts from the world of PR and social media, which may come in handy when it comes to finding a career after Uni! I also love getting real time news feeds from Twitter, mainly from Bournemouth Echo and the BBC.

Real news can be boring. When I feel the world needs spicing up a bit, I visit The Onion. A satire news site featuring articles on real and not-so-real events – never failing to produce a few laughs. I also get updates by following them on Twitter.

Currently living in a house which only receives 4 fuzzy analogue channels, TVCatchup is a little bit of a life saver! How else would I keep up to date with useless daytime TV shows and my daily dose of Deal or No Deal!? Finding this site saved me from the withdrawal symptoms I experienced when I realised there I had no e4!

Last but definitely not least – Google! I really don’t know where I’d be without it, whether it’s work related searches or just to find an answer to a random thought that pops in my head throughout the day. Now that I have myself a BlackBerry means that I’m constantly ‘Googling’ pretty much everything.