The Importance of Being Earnest, v2.0

The Importance of Being Earnest, v2.0

It might have came to your attention that some YouTubers have landed themselves in rather hot water lately. The row essentially boils down to two top gaming personalities, “TmarTn“, and “Syndicate“, misleading their multi-million subscriber communities. We know that gaming isn’t for everyone, but there’s something we’re interested in here – and that’s the importance of sincerity when producing content. To provide context for those who don’t follow these circles, here’s a quick and easy to follow summary about what’s happened.

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TmarTn and Syndicate have been high-profile YouTubers, famed for their gaming videos, and making several million dollars from their work. Not a bad pay for video games, and the most recent  game of choice is Counter-Strike:Global Offensive (hereafter known as CS:GO). CS:GO is a first person shooter, playable online with millions of others, and has a highly engaged, publicized, and lucrative competitive scene – winners at the top of the game can make a great deal of cash in tournaments and sponsorship. While TmarTn and Syndicate aren’t top competitive gamers, together, they founded a website called CSGOLotto, a site that allows users to enter their in-game items in a lottery, with the winner taking home all the items. The more valuable the item, the more tickets it buys you in the lottery. The issue arises, because these items aren’t cheap. In fact, many can be sold for several hundred dollars per item. Both YouTubers ran videos that generated millions of views promoting the site, with them playing and winning big – but with them owning the site, the validity and fairness of the results are now under scrutiny. After all, if you run the website and can access the back-end – how random are the results really going to be? However, the point of this article isn’t to do with why someone would spend a large sum of cash for pixels in a particular formation and colour that has no benefit or extra powers. It is to do with two things – authenticity from content generators, and a snapshot at what social media actually “is”.
To quote the great Oscar Wilde, author of our article’s slightly butchered title;

“The truth is rarely pure, and never simple”.

Social media, and the ways in which we can share information, continues to grow each day. The sheer volume of information exchanged per day, if burned to a Blu-Ray disc and stacked high, is greater than four Eiffel Towers. That’s a lot of cat pictures. But it’s also a lot of opinion and perspective. What’s been incredibly interesting while watching this story unfold, is the interpretation of “the truth”, both from the individuals involved, and members of their respective loyal community. While the videos have been much criticized, TmarTn has taken the approach of YouTube apology videos in a bid to explain his actions. By contrast, Syndicate has taken a more self-deprecating stance, and poked fun at it in video descriptions. Both users have found themselves being targeted with a severe backlash from their following on social media, and have fought to get fans on their side. In all likelihood, had both contributors made videos that clearly outlined they were playing on a site that they owned from day one, nobody would bat an eye-lid. But through pretending to have no affiliation, they have deceived millions of viewers – and in all likelihood, several thousand players as a direct result of the videos. To some degree, had they been transparent, they would likely have experienced the same volume of traffic from the same adoring fans. Alas, we all have 20/20 vision when it comes to hindsight. In an article for Forbes, Nick Morgan highlighted the importance of authenticity and charisma in leadership communication. In an extension of this, we believe it shares equal value when considering our social voice.

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YouTube is a much forgotten part of the social networking scene. Not because you don’t know what YouTube is (how did you make it here and not!?), but because it doesn’t fit what would now be considered the traditional social network. However YouTube remains the most efficient vehicle for sharing a message on video. Yes, Snapchat is wonderful. But we don’t mean a quick advert of promotion from an individual. We mean a “message”, a cause, a point for the world to know or share. YouTube is about the community, whereas Snapchat is about the individual. If we talk to social communities without sincerity and authenticity, then very quickly we’ll see that audience turn into enemies, or worse still, feel nothing towards our voice or brand. We want to communicate clearly, effectively, and above all, honestly. This, in our humble opinion, is the greatest failing of these two YouTubers. Not the result of what they’ve done, but the actions which created the result. To again quote Mr Wilde;

“The good ended happily, and the bad unhappily. That is what Fiction means.”

“Fiction”, is the key point here. While we all hope that a villain will get their comeuppance, it’s sadly not often the case. However, a quick glimpse at social media in it’s current form would highlight a change. Through the ability for live and public broadcast, from video to text, we’re able to expose lies, deceit and tyranny across the world – from the Arab Spring, to police shootings. Social media is rapidly becoming the enforcer of our modern lives, and the ever present watchdog. Often playful, always vigilant. In many regards as a social media software company, one of our key roles must always be in helping this communication, and not standing in the way of it. With this in mind, you can count on us for two things – Transparency and Ease. Transparency about how we operate. Ease for people to use. Our latest mission, is in helping people find their audience on social media.

Transparency: We’d like you to give it a try, and have made it really easy to cancel if it’s not for you.
Ease: You can click the big button below.

– The SoGrow Team

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Of Silicon and Unicorns

Of Silicon and Unicorns

Edinburgh Castle was built on a volcano. An inactive one. But still, quite why anyone thought this was a good idea is up for debate – one can only assume that planning permission and building control wasn’t quite as big a deal back in the Iron Age. Fortunately, given that we haven’t seen trails of molten kilts and ginger wigs flowing through the streets of the city, there’s not been an eruption. While there were of course great tactical reasons for building the castle at the top of a volcano, it’s also reflective of the inherently romantic and “live for the day” nature of Scottish innovation – if it goes wrong, we’ll fix it tomorrow.

Success Stories

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This never say die thread of thought has found itself at the heart of Edinburgh start-ups, and nowhere more so than in the technology sector – where only the bravest dare venture against the behemoths of Google, Facebook, Twitter, Apple, and all other branded electronic goods. And yet, Edinburgh has become the home of our own technology giants, including some of the most disruptive, prominent and valuable companies. Booked a holiday through Skyscanner lately? Played Grand Theft Auto? Watched Sky? Maybe you did all three on a Dell computer? If you did, chances are, someone in Edinburgh played a part in your experience.

The Unicorns

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There’s a term to describe many of these companies. And somewhat aptly, considering they’re the national animal of Scotland – it’s the Unicorn (No really, it is. Pinky promise.). A Unicorn, is regarded as a private company valued at $1bn or more. In Edinburgh, there’s a number of businesses who have either achieved this status, or have the potential to join them – and the spotlight is shining brighter than ever. From companies like SoDash, providing highly advanced social media analytics, to brands like FanDuel leading the charge for Fantasy Sports, Edinburgh is the place to be. Indeed, the technological volcano hasn’t only erupted across Edinburgh – it’s booming across Scotland. Across in Glasgow, companies like Zapcoder lead the way in social games. Head further north, and healthcare technology is booming in Dundee, as VFT recently secured £10million funding for it’s medical device innovations. Indeed, Dundee University received a £2.2 million grant for it’s dialysis research. Clearly, the “City of Discovery” continues to live up to it’s name.

The Future

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In many ways, we shouldn’t be surprised that the country that gave us the telephone and the TV continues to innovate. Yet, when more and more businesses head to Palo Alto instead of Peterhead, we have to wonder why? With so much technological innovation in the Scottish economy, aren’t we set to become the first future-proof economy? Given that Moore’s law is increasingly set to expire, the next set of advancements in technology are increasingly unlikely to come from power – it will come from precision. The scalpel, instead of the sledgehammer. And with the finely-tuned innovative companies that continue to blossom across our landscape, we’re excited for what comes next. Home is where the heart is, and technology’s heart is in Edinburgh.

Twitter Changes – 3 Things You Might Have Missed

Twitter Changes – 3 Things You Might Have Missed

It’s absolutely no secret that Twitter’s a social platform with a lot to prove. Growth has slowed, leadership has been questioned, and there’s a feeling that the forthcoming big changes to character limits is the last roll of the dice. However, there’s been some more subtle tweaks that we reckon not everyone knows about. So here’s 3 quick points;

1) Connecting Contacts

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Last Month, Twitter realised that without following the people you know, it’s not particularly “social” media at all. After all, if we wanted 24hr news, there’s no shortage of places to get it. To combat this, Twitter introduced the Connect tab, allowing you to search through your contacts for people to follow. Not only this, you can also receive recommendations based on location and the types of people you already follow. To get there, follow Twitter’s helpful guide below;


2) Go Live

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It feels like everyone has seen “that” Chewbacca Mom video, and it goes to show the value of live video. Indeed, even Facebook prioritises live streams in the newsfeed, making it a great way to get the message out quick. If we look across to Snapchat, we see the value of video even more pronounced, with videos gaining 8-10x more engagement than traditional text or picture driven copy. If you’re lucky enough as not be tied to an Apple device, some users will see a “go live” button which connects you to Periscope, and lets you show a live feed on Twitter. Gone is the 140 character Q&A.

 

3) Images, Polls, Videos

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We’re not quite there with this yet, but one big change to keep an eye on – especially if you’re a fan of visual content – is the coming removal of media counting towards your character count. This will also apply when you’ve used any @handles to reply. Not the biggest change in the world, but one that opens up a world of possibility. Considering that a link and a photo consumes 48 of your 140 character, you’re now going to open up around 20% more Tweet space. Don’t waste it.

Any other big changes that we’ve missed? Comment below!

 

3 Reasons Nobody Likes You

3 Reasons Nobody Likes You

Much has been said about the “Buzzfeedification” of news and content. If you’ve been on any social media platform in the last few years, you have inevitably encountered examples of some of these types of juicy SEO and marketing articles;

“37 reasons why asparagus will save your life.”
“The ONE reason nobody asked you to prom.”
“This guy makes $500,000 a year using these three easy tricks!”

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There are a number of phrases to describe this. “Lying”, “misleading”, “fraudulent”, and above all, complete and utter *insert best swear word here*. But above all, articles like this are wonderful examples of clickbait. Or #clickbait. How about @clickbait? Whichever works better for your SEO, you decide. People see articles like this, and can’t help but click – why wouldn’t you want to know? It won’t take long to find out, people might like you better, and as selfie-culture dictates, you’re nothing without a few thousand social likes. This is concrete fact, the panacea of 21st century living. Argue with me, I dare you. You can’t. You think you have a point, get ready to argue, have your Bernie Sanders finger in the air, and then nope, you realise I’m right. Not that you know it – because as further dictated by selfie-culture, your own opinion is the only one worth listening to.

This article’s turning into something quite horrible, isn’t it?

Fortunately, and one of the few things I’ll say in defence of Buzzfeed style news, is that you can always change the subject half-way through. So instead, I’m not going to do 3 reasons why nobody likes you. Frankly, because that’s horrible, and there’s enough pressure from social media, TV and magazines to make us hate ourselves anyway. So let’s use social media as a power for good, as it always should be.

Here’s 3 reasons why people should love you on social media…

1) You post regular and fresh content

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The phrase of “Content Is King” is certainly up there in my best marketing cliches, and with good reason. It’s what you become known for, and it’s what decides whether your opinion actually adds value to the community. Posting regular, fresh and engaging content is a genuine challenge, especially if not a lot of people ever see it. But at least this voice is yours. And as long as you’re using it to add to the community, and involving your audience as best you can, it will always have value to someone – ultimately, building your position as an expert in your field.

2) You don’t just talk about yourself

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Seen something you liked on social media, and told them you liked it? Shared someone else’s content? Praised the work of a competitor? If not, why not? There are very few industries out there that have only one or two customers, and friendly competition is certainly the best kind. So let’s start the ball-rolling. Narrow.io, your interface is lovely and reports brilliantly. Archie.co, involving Soundcloud could be a stroke of genius. SoGro.co, cool product and an even better name. We do prefer having the “w” on the end though, no hard feelings. Of course, we think we bring something new and different of our own through our audience targeting and content sharing – but that doesn’t mean we can’t celebrate what’s good in our industry. I’d encourage any and all others to do the same.

3) You communicate in different ways, equally as well

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You might enjoy writing 5000 word novel-style blog posts. You might like a quick “how are you?” e-mail.  A Facebook status. A tweet. Snapchat. Instagram photo (#nofilter, obvs!). All of these are good and great ways to communicate. The person who really succeeds, is the person who can communicate in all these ways and more. Unfortunately, your preferred channel will very rarely be the same as everybody elses, so diversify and prepare content that works on each platform. I know this will fit in with our blog. I hope it might do ok on medium. I think it has a half-chance on LinkedIn, could be ok on Twitter, but on Facebook it’ll struggle. If I e-mailed it, people would tune out by now – but they might have our RSS feed, who knows!? The point is, to be honest with your own content, and adapt it for your audience.

So there you go. Short, sweet, and without the depressing feeling that comes when you only identified 39 of these 46 one-off Simpsons characters. Maybe there is a place for Buzzfeed style content – as long as it adds to the conversation, instead of leaving readers to grind there way mindlessly through it. In short, start conversations, not life guides.