The challenge of being a social media start up (SMWF pt 3)

Social media startups trying to launch new platforms aren’t just based in San Francisco, they are springing up in the UK too. Four social media startups got the opportunity to introduce themselves to the Social Media hub at SMWF, explain what they were about, what they were trying to achieve and then take questions from the floor.

Planely – Founder Nick Martin positioned his new social network which works on the assumption of making travel more interesting. Planely links ‘strangers’ thrown together with similar travel itineraries to create more stimulating and rewarding trips.

Datasift – Darren Patterson, CEO of MediaSift, the company behind the near-ubiquitous Tweetmeme which makes the sharing of internet content via Twitter much easier – announced Datasift alpha which will offer real-time social media data mining.

Likeourselves – Pardeep Kullar claimed Likeourselves brings together the online community essence of Meetup with the offline world, driving worldwide meet ups amongst likeminded people with a single broadcast message.

Memolane – Founder Eric Lagier presented a platform which pulls together all social media content into one linear, chronological package, giving greater transparency to your wide digital footprint.

To me, there are opportunities and issues with them all, but I do commend each entrepreneur for having the guts to go out on a limb. There is a great risk in this space that a small player will generate an interest in something on a shoestring budget and then be overtaken by a bigger player (like a Facebook) who inevitably has more resource.

By and large, conceiving a new social media tool, is a fraught process, with no guarantee of profit. The best, it seems, entrepreneurs can hope for is investment based on a working prototype, a merger or an acquisition.

The critical point to get to is prototype. You need to get to the point that it can be tested and assessed by your target audience for validity, relevance, attractiveness and durability. And in order for it to scale, API development and linkage with the platforms already being used is key.

Much like the development of apps, AR and other trailblazing technology, it sounds great but I think I’m going to leave it to someone else!

Image: Will O’Brien

Read part 1 here and part 2 here


The ASA and CAP Code implications on online marketing (SMWF pt 2)

Malcolm Phillips from the The ASA presented on how the changes in the CAP Code will affect social media marketing.

The ASA rules in disputes about whether a marketing campaign or activity is legal, decent, truthful and honest. Recently this remit extended online.

From a cynical perspective, does The ASA limit creativity in protecting consumers? Does this actually just create an open season where competing companies simply complain about each others claims to try and gain a moral advantage in the marketplace?

It seems that Facebook and Twitter are going to be prioritised simply because of their meteoric rise in a few years and due to the sheer numbers of users and increasing number of brands using them for promotional purposes.

But The ASA is clear that it is not interested in policing spontaneous customer interaction, engagement and customer service. Rather, it is in two areas: claims being made, and the use of user-generated content by marketers.

The ASA deal with many false claim cases, ranging from the unavailability of goods despite being advertised as such to specific product benefits that may be implied but can not be proven.

Brands have to be mindful of using user-generated content. Ministry of Sound fell foul of this when younger clubbers posted photos of themselves attending clubnights holding alcoholic drinks which gave the illusion of under-age drinking. Rules affect food claims, pharmaceuticals and other areas too.

Sponsorships and endorsements on social media also need to be clearly labelled, with a case involving Rolls Royce cited as a warning. Rolls Royce used a number of celebrities including the model Daisy Lowe as Twitter ambassadors for the brand.


The ASA argued it wasn’t citing creativity and reminded the audience that the advertising industry had asked for greater clarity to ensure a level playing field.

What do you think?

Read pt 1 here.