By our social web talents, according to their social web needs
Massive corporations have taken control of the internet. It’s time for us to take it back.
Yesterday’s internet was all about impressing computers. Today, the internet is all about impressing people. The social web makes us all the arbiters of taste. We collectively determine success. BigCorp, Inc. cannot compete with the passion and talent that we each possess.
New web, new work
The social web has brought together thousands of interested, motivated people with a desire to make the world a better place. There are loose affiliations of marketeers, designers, FaceBookists, WordPressistas and Twitter-junkies sharing ideas, inspiration and encouragement. We want to pull these people together into a new kind of new media business. A business arranged along the very same lines as the social web itself. A business that aims to wrest control of the social web from Big Corp, Inc. and tired agency models. A social web of social web experts making the social web a better place for everyone.
The web enables many of us to work flexibly but freelancers only ever see a tiny proportion of a much larger project. By combining talents, freelancers can work flexibly and collaboratively alongside people with other skills, feeding in thoughts at all stages of a project and seeing the whole thing through to completion. And that means greater job satisfaction.
And we certainly won’t be expecting to have anyone work for nothing. We all have bills to pay. But there is no need for an organisation to absorb all of the profits from your hard labours. Our new way of working will see profits split equally between all team members.
Each project is unique. Customers shouldn’t have to shoulder the overheads of retaining designers they don’t need, or change consultants they will never see. Our new way of working relies on self-forming project teams comprising only those with the required skills. Projects can be delivered quickly and cost-effectively. New ideas can flourish. Amazing things will happen.
Join the revolution
If you want to hoist the flag, get in touch. Or leave a comment below.
The irkafirka story
It has been a year since I first challenged illustrator Nick Hilditch to illustrate a tweet every day. He took to the task like a Hercullean jack russel, and now has an extraordinary portfolio of doodles to show for it. But what about me? What have I learned from the process?
Here are the top three things:
People are terrific
Since the first irkafirka, the response has been amazing. We now have 2,300 followers on twitter and 170 ‘fans’ on FaceBook and we get amazing feedback every day. For our first birthday, we chose to give back some love and blithely set ourselves the unreachable target of raising £5,000 for Comic Relief. As expected, we fell well short of our goal, but £1,140 is still a fair chunk of change. And frankly, we’d have settled for £100.
You don’t need to be original to be amazing
We didn’t realise it at the time, but there have been others that have taken tweets as inspiration for illustration. As we’ve said here before, originality is nothing new. irkafirka certainly proves that. Our ‘competitors’ include Twaggies, @BeckIntl, Museum of Modern Tweets and TweetsIllustrated. Even telecoms giant Orange had a bash. But thanks to Nick’s gaudy style and the banter we generate on twitter, we consider ourselves to be twitter’s favourite colourers-in.
No money goes a long way
Business value was the furthest thing from our minds when we started irkafirka. To be honest, it has come no closer to our minds since. But, because of our relationship with Nokia and the sale of the occasional print, we have managed to turn a small profit from our endeavours. Of course, we have very few costs to cover, which helps. And thanks to AppMakr, Layar and Hopalla, even our adventures into mobile apps and augmented reality have been extremely cheap. But if you have a bright idea, irkafirka shows that it is possible to get it off the ground without spending a fortune.
There are three basic lessons companies need to understand about social stuff:
1 – It can not and will not make your company or its products sexy or desirable
2 – It almost certainly will not have any kind of positive effect on your bottom-line
3 – It takes a huge amount of time and you’ll probably get it wrong anyway
Betfairpoker, an online gaming site, seem to understand this. As a result, their unusual twitter persona is really quite popular.
Eschewing the usual corporate social media strategies of yelling about how great you are, leaking offers, and driving clicks (which could be legally ruinous in Betfair’s line of business), their success comes from a unique and engaging brand of silliness. Here are some recent examples:
Of course, it’s not just a stream of situationist one-liners. There is a fair amount of chat and banter as well. And the occasional nod to the fact that some people like to gamble. But does it make you want to sign up for Betfair’s services and throw all your hard-earned cash against a mountain of unbeatable odds? Me neither. However, if I was in the market for an online gaming service, I know where I’d go. I’d go to the company that is clearly setting itself apart from the crowd. One that isn’t afraid of being different. One that, on the surface at least, doesn’t seem to be blinkered in its pursuit* of profit at all costs.
Betfair are clearly playing the long game* here. I’m sure that the red-tape surrounding the gaming industry is at least partly responsible for the sideways approach. But it is the only corporate account that is worth following.
A final note of caution before you remodel your tweet-stream in a like manner. The charm and guile of the Betfair account appears to come from a single voice. Quite what will happen when that voice leaves to write the first social media sitcom for BBC3 is unclear.
*Two gambling related metaphors. This stuff doesn’t just crawl from under the hall carpet, you know…
The French have a saying; “There is no such thing as a quite-good omelette”.
The French, of course, are very proud of their omelettes. It is a staple of life in a French kitchen and the first thing that cooks are taught to make. And they are ridiculously simple – a couple of eggs, a knob of butter and a searingly hot pan are all that is needed.
If the French Academy still allows the creation of new sayings, I’m sure they would also say, “There is no such thing as a quite-good PowerPoint presentation”. And I would have to agree.
The same rules apply to omelettes and PowerPoint. You need fresh ingredients. You need an awful lot of energy. You need speed and efficiency. And above all, ridiculous simplicity.