Monday, February 22, 2010

Socially inept social marketing

As enablers of communications, I don't think it's too much to expect of communications companies to be able to communicate. However, it seems to be almost an alien concept, and when it goes wrong, their efforts can smack of ineptitude, if not outright desperation. A friend received the following from a PR agency, which shall remain nameless to save them embarrassment, though I don't know why I'm being so charitable:

Hi there,

We work for BT and would like to offer you the opportunity to trial the new BT Infinity Superfast Broadband. The service is being rolled out across the UK over the coming months and as a prominent xxx blogger, we'll like your influence to help tell people about it. Here’s the deal – we’ll give you FREEbroadband in exchange for running a competition about BT Infinity on your blog.

BT Infinity is basically a fibre optic broadband service that allows download speeds up to 40MB and upload speeds of up to 10MB so you'll be able to do so much more at the same time - and in an instant.

Here’s some more info on BT Infinity:

Sound a good deal? Just let us know if it's something you'd be interest taking part and we’ll arrange for full installation and send you a media pack about the competition details right away!

Please let us know.

Best wishes

So it looks like said PR shop is scatter gun spamming bloggers in a cack handed effort to tap some illusory "social buzz" surrounding BT Infinity (interesting name choice, by the way - you can't go beyond infinity, now defined as 40/10Mbps). No personal salutation, so not particularly social, and in line two my friend is described as a "prominent xxx blogger." Triple X? Really? I'm also baffled as to exactly what sort of "competition about BT Infinity" he is meant to "run" on his blog. Perhaps some sort of xxx download speed contest?

Bizarre from start to finish, and it's reminiscent of the kind of anonymous nonsense I occasionally receive from Sani Abacha's widow. Socially inept, and, methinks, highly unlikely to inspire a warm and fuzzy feeling in any "prominent xxx blogger," but fantastic comedic value. So here comes the punchline: the "prominent xxx blogger" recipient mothballed his blog quite some time ago, just so you know.

BT, if you are intent on doing social marketing, I am available to advise you.

Saturday, February 20, 2010

Digital Dales Colloquium Number 1

In direct contravention of my own new year's resolution, I have not, in fact, posted more frequently, which is a source of ongoing embarrassment to me. Life has brought many changes over the past six months, and most of them have not been great. I've been trying to focus my energy on things which have a more positive direct impact on my life, or on issues I care about, and less on things like pontificating about the iPad (though if I did want to pontificate on it, I would probably take a different tack).

For this reason, I would really love to be at the Digital Dales Colloquium Number 1, next Friday the 26th of February, but unfortunately, I am moving house that day. I had the pleasure of finally meeting Lindsey Annison recently, and her enthusiasm and commitment to getting true connectivity to people who need and will benefit from it is truly inspiring. It probably helps that she has experienced life on the broadband margins personally - as she said to me, try running a business out of your home with a DSL line that delivers 256kbps, on a good day.

Anyway, try to get there if you can, because I'm sure it's going to be a great event. Sorry I have to take a rain check.

Wednesday, February 10, 2010

Googlebit to the home

Here I am in Amsterdam spending the day with people involved in the FTTH open network space, and lo and behold, the big G weighs in with a helpful bit of ammo to throw at the asymmetric services Taliban.

"We want to see what developers and users can do with ultra high-speeds, whether it's creating new bandwidth-intensive "killer apps" and services, or other uses we can't yet imagine."

The emphasis on the last bit is mine, and for obvious reasons. This is something which we were trying to stress here, in drawing a parallel with the decision to extend the power grid to all. That decision wasn't taken with perfect knowledge of what the benefits or ripple effects would be, and I suspect we have no greater insight into where developments like this will lead.

But rest assured that, with Google now wading in, telco paranoia readings will rise to DEFCON 1, which should provide great comedy value for months to come. Just when I thought broadband was getting dull...