Asian mobile’s next wave – Marketers need to stay ahead of social commerce

Henry Adams

Crowds of commuters work on their smartphone or tablet, browsing popular social media sites, shopping for products online and streaming music or video services straight to their devices. Mobile apps are now ubiquitous in daily life. CA Technologies recently published its APJ Application Economy Index 2016, studying the current and future strength of app economies across 10 Asian markets. The …

Crowds of commuters work on their smartphone or tablet, browsing popular social media sites, shopping for products online and streaming music or video services straight to their devices. Mobile apps are now ubiquitous in daily life. CA Technologies recently published its APJ Application Economy Index 2016, studying the current and future strength of app economies across 10 Asian markets. The study, carried out by consulting firm TRPC, found that even if individual businesses embrace e-commerce and take a proactive approach to evolve and grow within the market, competition across the region over the next year will need to be fierce. Those looking to ride the wave of new e-commerce opportunities will undoubtedly be focusing on the monetisation of their social commerce platforms. Alibaba’s $200 million investment in Snapchat in 2015 was a smart business decision to both broaden the Chinese company’s reach across the globe and monopolise the potential of existing social commerce strategies. Rival Tencent has focused efforts on WeChat’s own mobile payments business, WeChat Pay. If there was any doubt of the platform’s success, Tencent recently announced that their user base has increased to 697 million per month, representing a year-over-year growth rate of 39 percent. The impact of social commerce success is far-reaching, and there’s a growing demand for innovative solutions to connect consumers with services they never knew they needed. While leading tech giants Twitter, Facebook, Google and Instagram are at varying stages of Buy button integration for ads and branded pages, many lesser-known startups are focusing on the connection of customers with valuable services in their local area, from grocery deliveries to beauty appointments. This market is expanding as well as diversifying, with more traditional marketplace apps like Carousell and Kleora targeting specific demographics across Southeast Asia. The spread of influence is growing exponentially each year, with consumers across Southeast Asia demonstrating varying online habits. For example, daily smartphone usage in Indonesia is higher on average than usage in Malaysia, the Philippines and Thailand. As of January 2016, three of the five most popular mobile apps in Indonesia were messaging services. LINE (the free call and messaging app from South Korea) have not wasted time in capitalising on this monopoly over the market, offering everything from taxi services to food delivery through their mobile app. Ericsson ConsumerLab reported the untapped potential of mobile commerce in emerging APAC as far back as 2014, and the development of the market in Indonesia and Malaysia has led to predictions of a boom over the coming months. Here are our top three recommendations as to how smart marketers can make the most of it:
  • Hyper precise marketing: For marketers, the challenge and the opportunity of social and mobile commerce is to appear in the right channel, on the right platform and in the right feed to the right person, with the right product, all at the right time. Marketers need to be able to predict what each customer is going to find interesting, then target these predictions at them. With Big Data, we can now create really small segments of customers, and discover what matters to them.
  • Local targeting; The marketing opportunity offered by mobile is full of potential due to the simple fact that it’s such an intimately personal device. Many mobile users remain glued to their device all day and check it over 100 times from morning to night. Furthermore, they are searching for services or products near them, and 70 percent are happy to share their location information to get something valuable in return, like locally targeted offers.
  • Investment in creative and visual content: Instagram opening its platform up to brands of all shapes and sizes is yet another sign that visual content is hugely important to mobile consumers. People are expressing themselves in visual ways through a mixture of photos, video, stickers and emojis, and brands need to quickly up their creative game with eyes firmly focused on upcoming social commerce. Some brands, like Australian retail brand Myer, are already investing in a photo shoot to create a suite of custom-fit imagery for a particular platform.
To sum up, connecting users with products and services through their mobile devices is intrinsically linked with a consumer culture of engagement, convenience and immediacy. And with no end in sight to the continuing growth of mobile and social, the challenge for marketers is not merely to keep up, but to keep ahead of the curve.


Henry Adams

How the internet’s feline superstars are breaking fresh economic ground.

How the internet’s feline superstars are breaking fresh economic ground.

As another year of cat videos winning the internet draws to a close, it occurs to me that when cats rule the world — as they surely will, if only because they are just so damn cool and deserve to be in charge — and we become their pets, they may well get their own back by making us the stars of similar “human videos”. Oh, the horror, you might think. Oh, the horror of being forced to appear in content  that so thoroughly diminishes all concerned. However, please rest assured. As the cats will be the first to say, ‘But our humans absolutely love it!’

But I digress.

In truth, the cat film genre is much, much older than the internet itself. Its creation can be traced to a one-minute silent movie called The Boxing Cats, made by Edison Films in 1894. Unsurprisingly given the title, it shows two cats boxing (as Thomas Edison himself no doubt commented at the time, roflmao #LOLcats). And now, 121 years later and thanks to the internet, cat clips have become a phenomenon. In an exponential, sustainable  example of techno-evolution, the metamorphosis of cats into cultural and economic icons is powered by – and in turn powers – the growth of the internet itself. Indeed, according to 2011 research conducted at the Massachusetts Institute of Technology, cat videos account for 15% of internet traffic (in case you were wondering, the other 85% consists of 80% pornography, 4% “poorly written comments from assholes” and 1% “we have trouble identifying what this constitutes”). Just a couple of years later, in 2013, 30 million Google searches used just the word "cats".

All of which begs the question; will cats be content to rest on their internet laurels or will the offline world also become their oyster, Ocean Fish Platter and Seafood Feast? 

The Rise of a Purr-Powered Memeconomy

In a paper published last year, The Alchian-Allen Theorem and the Economics of Internet Animals, Jason Potts, Professor of Economics at RMIT, explored what he termed "the economics of cute". "Cute, in conjunction with the internet, affects the trade-offs involved in choices people make," he wrote. "Let me put that more starkly: cute shapes the economy."

It’s certainly an economic truth that cats, their online memes and videos, are big business. My personal favourite, the feline Foucault Henri Le Chat Noir has been viewed on YouTube over 15 million times. In a stroke of branded content marketing genius, cat food brand Friskies recognised Henri’s popularity and potential early on and have sponsored him as their “cat-vocate” since 2013. No figures have been released but on the back of Henri’s success, the man behind the videos, Will Braden, gave up his full-time job to concentrate on managing Henri’s interests - which now include Henri books and a whole line of Henri-branded products. However, popular though he is, Henri is but a minnow in jelly compared to Grumpy Cat and the mighty Maru.

Grumpy Cat, the squishy-squashy face of whom has launched a thousand mugs, T-shirts and “Grumppuccino” bottles, now has her own meme agent, Ben Lashes. He told the Wall Street Journal that she netted in “the low six-figures” as of last spring (not including his cut and her movie deal - more of that later) through public appearances, a best-selling book, a beverage line and a seemingly inexhaustible range of iPhone cases, mouse pads and wrapping paper, amongst other merchandise.

The most viewed cat of all with 224 million+ hits on YouTube, Maru’s weirdly well-reviewed book has already been translated into two languages. What’s more, a Washington Post analysis estimated that he could earn up to $181,000 a year (more, incidentally, than a U.S. Senator on $174,000) from YouTube ad revenue alone - that’s without any profits from sponsorship (Friskies, again), books, stuffed toy sales and DVD deals.

So lucrative, in fact, has the feline memeconomy become that now there’s even a book on the subject. Called “How to Make Your Cat an Internet Celebrity: A Guide to Financial Freedom,” it’s written in  tongue-in-cheek style (“Someday, many years from now, your grandchildren will ask about your webchat fortune…will you be forced to admit that - despite owning both a cat and a computer during this legendary Golden Age of Cat Videos - you were the only cretin in the world who failed to cash in?”) although one can’t help but suspect that the author, Patricia Carlin, secretly means every single word.

Moving Fur-ward*

Last year, a panel session at the SXSW conference touched on some of the business aspects around this phenomenon. The panel included Grace Suriel, director of social media for TV channel Animal Planet, which has been happily surfing the cat video popularity wave in recent years. She predicted that evolution of the genre would see more television brands getting involved. “Will there be a cat video channel someday? I can definitely see that happening,” she said. “It’s just going to keep moving.”

Suriel has already been proved at least half-way right: TV programmes are being replaced with cat videos. This August, Australia’s Channel Seven hit the headlines when it decided to cancel fledgling cooking show Restaurant Revolution in favour of a programme consisting entirely of funny YouTube cat videos. Despite the channel’s spending millions on Restaurant Revolution, cats proved to be twice as successful with nearly one million Australians tuning in to watch Cats Make You Laugh Out Loud and many famous Australians calling for more cats on television, including the ABC's Q&A and Media Watch programmes.

Which brings us neatly back to Grumpy Cat. Last year the permanently unimpressed one starred as “a pet-store cat that is perpetually overlooked” in Grumpy Cat’s Worst Christmas Ever, a Lifetime movie  (which should come as no surprise to anyone who’s ever actually seen a Lifetime movie). It may sound even less enthralling than Lifetime’s usual tableaux of true-life and/or murder tales, but it also sounds pretty profitable for an aesthetically-challenged little cat, her owner and her sponsors.

In short, the message for content marketers and brands alike is clear. If you want to get ahead, get a cat.

(Incidentally, the cat in the photograph illustrating this article is our very own Dorothy Perkins. Perfect casting for the newly invented - by us - Cheese Vampire genre of cat videos, she’ll happily work for Cheddar, Stilton and Red Leicester, but remains spectacularly unmotivated by Edam.)

* So many terrible puns, so little time.
Robocalypse Now

Robocalypse Now

Henry Adams

Can writers be replaced by robots? It is the World Series of something or other, somewhere or other. In the press box…

Can writers be replaced by robots?   It is the World Series of something or other, somewhere or other. In the press box, at the grimy sports desk of a certain newspaper, a solitary sports writer is hard at work filing a report. Is it perhaps Damon Runyon with, in the heat of the sporting moment, his professional habiliments of jaunty Homburg and chic wire frame spectacles knocked passionately askew? Or is it possibly Ring Lardner, noble brow furrowed, patrician lip chewed with effort as he searches for words to document the titanic battle raging right under his very eyes?   It is not. It is a robot. And not even a cool robot like MechaGodzilla. It is a computer, running auto-generation software.   This may well sound like some stark Orwellian vision of the future, but it is already an actuality: many of the articles you have read over the last few years will have been written by software. Some of the world’s most respected news institutions - Forbes magazine, the AP and the L.A. Times, for example - have turned to robots to generate data-rich stories such as sports reports, financial stories, weather reports and breaking news.   So, should we old-school mortal writers let our inkhorns run dry and hang up our quills in despair? The knee-jerk response would be ‘no’. Machines cannot replicate human passions, human truths, human humour, we would argue. They cannot play with words, love them, tickle them, jiggle them around until they hit exactly the right nuance, we would continue.   Danger, Will Robinson   It seems, however, that we would be wrong. Narrative Science, one of the big players in auto-generation software, use an algorithm leveraging NLG (natural language generation) to generate a story every 30 seconds. These articles run on the websites of Forbes, as well as other internet media powerhouses. In addition, niche news services hire Narrative Science to write subscriber updates.   And according to Kristian Hammond, Narrative Science’s CTO and co-founder, their algorithm is growing in complexity. He believes that human nuances can be set by software parameters. So, for example, a devastating loss for a sports team can be written in a sympathetic style for the team's home audience, while financial articles can be as comprehensive and data-orientated as required. To rub salt in the wound, Hammond also believes that a computer will win a Pulitzer Prize within 5 years.   Another heavy hitter, Automated Insights, use their Wordsmith platform to generate millions of articles per week (their public relations manager, James Kotecki, estimates that the system can produce 2,000 articles per second if need be) for partners including the AP, Allstate, Comcast, and Yahoo, whose fantasy football reports are automated. In fact, a study published in the 2014 issue of Journalism Practice seems to prove that not only is Automated Insights’ machine-generated content indistinguishable from that created by journalists, but that it is viewed as more informative and more credible.   No danger, Will Shakespeare   Moving away from robo-journalism (or, as some might dub it, robo-churnalism) into the world of books proves no more comforting. Economist and author Professor Philip Parker does not actually write the majority of his books; he uses complex algorithms that can produce an entire tome in just a few minutes. Using his software, his company, ICON Group International, has written well over a million titles. Professor Parker’s software also writes poetry. In iambic pentameter, the metre of Shakespeare no less:   Can truth be told it’s clear my work’s not Zen? Levenshtein, your magic will clear the haze Iambic verse has rules and guides my pen It seems to me your spelling drives my daze.   In truth, I’d love to build some verse for you To churn such verse a billion times a day So type a new concept for me to chew I keep all waiting long, I hope you stay.   But basic truths are easily clear for all My sonnets suffer now from you, my foe Until my program sees ol’ Bill, I stall You test, you prod, and I do feel your blow.   Okay, the truth is harsh, I horse you not, I render now the fact, I’m just a bot!   Here, at last, is a palely flickering ray of hope. Whilst none of us can claim to reach the heights of the Immortal Bard, as the machine itself would appear to acknowledge, its efforts cannot replicate the lyrical power and complex wordplay of truly great writing. Yet.


Henry Adams

Just to clarify, ladies: men, in case you are unsure, are those bumbling creatures generally portrayed in advertising these days as:

Just to clarify, ladies: men, in case you are unsure, are those bumbling creatures generally portrayed in advertising these days as: ‘Things who are meant to be useful for car maintenance, moving heavy objects and assembling Ikea furniture, but very rarely are.’ Be that as it may, a beloved member of Contented is (although he has been known to sport a tartan skirt on occasion), a chap and so I felt it incumbent upon me to mount a vigorous defence of the male species. Therefore I’d like to make the case that they’re not 100% useless. They’re not even 97.4% useless. In fact, there are many things that they’re really, really good at. And as proof, here are ten of them:
  1. Hiding behind the sofa, softly weeping, when they see an Ikea flatpack coming at them
  2. Understanding who killed who and why, in action films
  3. Burping with unashamed - nay, boasftul! – delight
  4. Imagining they are in significantly better shape than they actually are and are only four bench-presses away from a hot date with Megan Fox
  5. Flatly resisting any of the ways we want to change them, even though it's so obviously for their own good
  6. Sleeping deeply on the sofa in front of the TV yet, if you change channels, opening one eye and saying, 'Oi, I was watching that!'
  7. Pacing up and down the street whilst pointedly looking at their watches - and sighing dramatically - just because you've popped into a shoe shop for several hours
  8. Saying 'But you've got so many shoes already. Why would anyone need more than one pair?
  9. Leaving the dishes to ‘soak’ in the sink and then never returning to do them, because the ‘dish fairy’ will take care of all that
  10. Buying their significant other a can of Castrol GTX for her birthday because the petrol station was on their way home and they’d tried one shop already
So, as you can see, men are not completely rubbish. Plus, in some instances, hanging round with them can be profoundly educational. Indeed, who else would take the time to explain the offside rule to you for hours and hours and hours on end?

Great apps for digital nomads

Kaye Blum

Last year I met deadlines in Phnom Penh,  Byron Bay, Melbourne, Ubud, Singapore, Paris, Berlin, Copenhagen…

Last year I met deadlines in Phnom Penh,  Byron Bay, Melbourne, Ubud, Singapore, Paris, Berlin, Copenhagen, Stockholm, Gothenburg, Oslo, London, and Chiang Mai. That's the digital nomad life - working from anywhere there's an internet connection.
But it's not all excitement and jetsetting - it has its down-side too. Sometimes it's an utter relief simply not to have to re-pack your bag for three whole weeks!  And I had to repeatedly explain to friends and family that yes, I AM actually working. But providing evidence sometimes wasn't so easy, as a few publications took their time to publish my work - for various reasons that technology likes to baffle us with.
So here's an article I submitted for publication last July, which has finally just gone live (sometimes the writer's journey can be a slow one, in several ways). It features an insight to the apps I found most useful while working on the road.
Given the speed of tech developments, particularly with apps, a few of the finer details may have changed but it's still relevant and informative for those who travel often or even those who just like useful apps.
We'd love to hear what apps you can't live without when you're travelling - let us know in the comments.


Henry Adams

“Go, tell the Spartans, stranger passing by, That here, obedient to their laws, we lie.” – Simonides of Ceos

“Go, tell the Spartans, stranger passing by, That here, obedient to their laws, we lie.” Simonides of Ceos

Many years ago (possibly before the Peloponnesian War), when embarking on a Classics MA, I chose to specialise in Sparta. “But why?” enquired the bemused Head of Department, “Athens is a much richer field of study…it was a centre for the arts and learning; it’s the birthplace of democracy, the cradle of Western Civilisation and just look at all that lovely philosophy.”

My answer then remains the same today. From a purely modern-day standpoint, the Ancient Greeks were, quite frankly, oddballs. And yet these self-same fruitcakes thought the Spartans were really, really, really weird. As indeed they were, wonderfully so. Which made them utterly irresistible, and not just in an academic sense. It was their very ‘weirdnesses’ that, between the 6th and 4th centuries BCE, led to Sparta becoming the undisputed major military power among the Greek city states. In short, there was method in their madness and, as a result, there is still much we can learn from them.

1. Do one thing and do it terribly, terribly well.

In Athens and other Greek city states, citizens were brought up to be farmers, fisherman, blacksmiths, butchers, bakers (and, who knows, maybe even candlestick makers). In times of war, they just left their day jobs and mobilised, much as the British Territorial Army do today. Not so Spartans, who were debarred by law from trade or manufacture. Subject to intense and rigorous military training from the age of 7 when they left home to enter the agoge (military school), they were brought up solely as professional soldiers and their primary obligation was to be killing machines, to be a ‘wall of men, instead of bricks.” The result was that the Spartans became one of the most efficient and feared military forces in world history. Indeed, at the height of their power it was commonly accepted that, “One Spartan was worth several men of any other state.”

2. Never, ever, give up.

Surrender simply wasn’t an option. Spartan mothers or wives gave a departing warrior his shield with the words: Ἢ τὰν ἢ ἐπὶ τᾶς!” (“With it or on it!”) meaning he should either return victorious with his shield, or with his dead body on it having died with honour, but never after discarding his heavy shield and fleeing, the mark of a deserter. The most famous example of this came in 480 BCE when King Leonidas I of Sparta was guarding the narrow mountain pass at Thermopylae with just 300 Spartans and 7,000 other Greeks in order to delay the invading Persian army (alleged by the ancient sources to have numbered over one million but probably ranging between about 100,000 and 150,000). When King Xerxes offered to spare the vastly outnumbered Greeks if they gave up their arms, Leonidas responded “Μολών λαβέ” - "Come and take them". At dawn on the 3rd day of battle, realising the Greeks had been betrayed, Leonidas ordered the rest of the Greeks to leave. The Spartans, however, fought on until the last - literally with tooth and nail when their weapons were destroyed. -

3. K.I.S.S (Keep It Simple, Spartan).

The Spartans were famous for their dislike of long winded speeches. Unlike other Greek city states, most notably Athens, they had no patience with the orotund rhetoric flourishing at the time. Instead, choosing to save time, effort and cut through useless babble, they became known for the brevity and simplicity of their speech. Known as laconic speech (Laconia being the region of Greece of which Sparta was - and still is - the capital), their communications were short and straight to the point and very often sharpened by an acerbic wit. Notable examples include:

* When told by an Athenian that speech was the most powerful of all, King Agis replied:”Then when you are silent, you are worthless."

* On receiving a threatening note from Philip of Macedon: “You are advised to submit without further delay, for if I bring my army into your land, I will destroy your farms, slay your people, and raze your city.” the Spartans sent back a one word reply: "If".

* In an account from Herodotus: "When the banished Samians reached Sparta, they had audience of the magistrates, before whom they made a long speech, as was natural with persons greatly in want of aid." When it was over, the Spartans averred that they could no longer remember the first half of their speech, and thus "...could make nothing of the remainder. Afterwards the Samians had another audience, whereat they simply said, showing a bag which they had brought with them, 'The bag wants flour.' The Spartans answered that they did not need to have said 'the bag.’ “

4. Excess is for wimps.

The practice of Spartan austerity, of course, didn’t stop at speech. The Spartans recognised that the rich lifestyle is almost always in conflict with the good life. For example, you would never find a Spartan admiring the craftsmanship of anything without utility. By law, roof beams in Sparta could not be finished with anything but an axe. When a Spartan was visiting Athens and his host was showing off his luxurious mansion, complete with finely detailed, square roof beams, the Spartan asked the Athenian if trees grew square in Athens. “No, of course not,” said the Athenian, “but round, as trees grow everywhere.” “And if they grew square,” asked the Spartan, “would you make them round?”

In another instance, when the Spartans and their allies overcame the Persians at Plataea in 479 BCE, the spoils included the opulent pavilions of King Xerxes, along with his cooks, wine stewards and kitchen servants. Pausanius, the Regent of Sparta, ordered the Persian chefs to prepare a typical dinner, the sort they would normally make for Xerxes. Meanwhile, he had his own cooks whip up some standard Spartan fare. The Persian chefs produced a lavish banquet of many courses, served on golden plates and topped off by the most sumptuous cakes and delicacies. The Spartans’ grub was barley bread and μέλας ζωμός (pig’s-blood and vinegar soup). When the Spartans saw the two meals side by side, they burst out laughing. “How far the Persians have travelled,” proclaimed Pausanias, “to rob us of our poverty!”

5. Take one for the team.

From the age of 7, Spartan boys lived in communal messes and continued to live communally well into adulthood, At the age of 20, the Spartan citizen began his membership in one of the συσσίτια (dining messes or clubs), composed of about fifteen members each, of which every citizen was required to be a member. Here each group learned how to bond and rely on one another. They called themselves "ομοιοι”, (“equals”), pointing to their common lifestyle and the rigorous discipline of the infantry line, which demanded that no one soldier was superior to another and that his ultimate responsibility was to his comrades in arms – messmates and friends. The Spartan Dienekes perhaps said it best when he instructed his comrades to: “Fight for this alone: the man who stands at your shoulder. He is everything, and everything is contained within him.”

To sum up, I leave it to someone far more qualified than I. As the world’s greatest expert on Sparta, Paul Cartledge, A.G. Leventis Professor of Greek Culture Emeritus, University of Cambridge, says:

“How could we be 'spartan' without the Spartans? In these days of global economic austerity perhaps that's a thought that's all too close to the bone or near the knuckle. But think of Leonidas and his 300 at Thermopylae - the classic example of heroic self-sacrifice. The Spartans remain very good to think with."

N.B. If you’d like to embrace the wonderful weirdness of Sparta and learn more, the best book to start with is probably ‘The Spartans: An Epic History’ by Paul Cartledge. You can find it here.
Mature woman relaxing with her cat while working at home


Henry Adams

I’m missing my weekly dates with the television show Big Bang Theory, mostly because I miss Sheldon, with whom I am truly, madly, deeply in love..

I’m missing my weekly dates with the television show Big Bang Theory, mostly because I miss Sheldon, with whom I am truly, madly, deeply in love, (just as I am in love with Niles, the ultra-butch brother in Frasier - if forced to choose between them, it would be hard, but I think you know what I’m saying when I cry: “Bazinga!”) but at least the promise of a new series next year is something to celebrate. Or is it? Wasn’t the comedic structure of many of this year’s episodes based on tensions and misunderstandings caused by the women having jobs and wanting to progress their careers, the ambitious little minxes? Honestly, will us ladies never learn? Probably not, so here’s my own particular guide to striking the right work-life balance... * There’s a nifty little app called Awesome Note. It lets you create a list of things you need to do throughout the day, the week, or even the month (please note that unfortunately, it doesn’t do them for you). Set an alarm to remind you when you have a meeting or an appointment coming up or, equally important, when it’s wine o’clock. * Forget multi-tasking. Although we gals can generally juggle with one hand tied behind our backs, it’s not actually in our interest to focus on many things at the same time. Instead, devote your full attention to the task at hand. When you’re working, work. When you’re spending time with your family, friends and cats, focus solely on them. * Social media means everyone is around, around the clock but it is, in fact, perfectly possible to walk away from Facebook for a few days and find, on your return, everything is still exactly as it was before. That is, your friends and colleagues are still posting pictures of their respective pets, dinners and children. You’ll have missed nothing. * Firmly diarise important family events, like your Goddaughter’s school play, for example, as  you wouldn’t want to miss the excellent entertainment provided by the one child who spends the entire performance picking their nose, forgetting their lines and having a volcanic tantrum as a finale . * Always draw a line between your home and your job, although, if you’re a certain sort of working girl, there can’t be any harm in bringing a little work home, and it probably makes more economic sense than renting a room in Hotel 81. * To reward yourself for good work, make time to do one thing you look forward to each day. Have lunch or coffee with a friend or colleague, go to an exhibition, or go for reflexology. It doesn't have to be time-consuming, complicated, or expensive. Just put aside time on your work schedule to read a book, take a walk, or just have some quiet time. * If the chap in your life isn’t as helpful with the chores as you’d like, there are three main solutions: 1) Wear a large badge saying, "If you think pixies empty the washing machine in the middle of the night, you’re very much mistaken, matey.” You may even want to write it on your forehead. Better still, write it on his. 2) Undetectable poisons. 3) Tampering with his car brakes. However, according to the University of Washington’s Adrienne Fairhall, you should try to be understanding. His brain is most likely to blame. She pithily posits that men’s inability to do stuff around the house is “not universally but statistically significantly gender-characteristic and is not to be attributed to personal failings.” So there you have it. * If you feel you’re losing your work-life balance, quickly hold on to something to steady yourself. (I once felt my work-life balance going while I was in Cold Storage, and hung on to an individual pot of raspberry yoghurt until the dizziness had passed. Imagine, though, if I’d been riding a WaveBoard? I shudder to think.) * Keep track of your lifestyle. Lack of sleep, too much grab ’n’go food and not enough wine can mean you feel a lack of balance in your life, and can also counteract any of the handy tips above.

Dealing with negative comments on social media

Henry Adams

These days, practically the first question on a client’s lips is about how they can stop internet trolls posting negative comments.

These days, practically the first question on a client’s lips is about how they can stop internet trolls posting negative comments or unwarranted attacks on their brand’s social media forums.

The simple answer is that you can’t.

At one time or another, every brand will find itself in a social media maelstrom with the reputations of the brand and those associated with it under attack from competitors (whose motive is to make their rivals look bad) or ticked off customers. Of course, sometimes the criticism is justified, but in many cases, it’s proudly self-proclaimed ‘haterz’ trolling the internet and spreading poison for the sheer joy of it.

In the case of justified customer criticism, the solution is simple: sort it. Whatever you do, don’t remove the post. Publicly acknowledge the issue, apologise and solve it speedily, with grace and generosity. It’s an opportunity to put a positive spin on the situation and show your brand in a good light to prospective customers.

In the case of trolls, social media experts generally agree on a couple of key fundamentals:

DNFTT (Do Not Feed The Trolls)

Whilst a natural (and very human) reaction is to tell trolls to stick their posts where the sun don’t shine, it’s a huge mistake to fight bile with bile, fire with fire. It not only feeds the trolls the oxygen of attention they crave, but also allows them to dictate the conversation and take your brand down to their level.

Channel Aretha: Show R E S P E C T

Just like the legendary Ms Franklin, most social media communities demand respect. They have no time for egotism and lack of respect from anyone in an online war of words. In fact, posting incendiary comments most often results in the community self-regulating the conversation by turning against the poster. Let the trolls play in the sewer. It’s better to say nothing than to join them there. However, if a reply is absolutely, positively, necessary, keep it short and respectful, along the lines of: “Thank you for your feedback.”

As mentioned, both these pieces of advice are widely accepted as excellent approaches to dealing with negative and/or inflammatory comments. However, I also thought it might also be constructive to try and understand those who leave them…

Know Your Enemy

…so with their minds in mind, here’s How To Join the Online Haterz or, if you’d rather, How to Become A Troll or, even, How To Be A Complete Ass On The Internet.

Your very first step is to pick your user name. Names like Xturmin8or1 are highly sought after amongst the males of the species, whilst the likes of malicia_666 seem popular with the (ahem) ladies. Next, demonstrate the spelling and grammar skills of a mentally-challenged chicken that does not speak English as a native language and suffers from frequent fits. Furthermore, you must sincerely believe you can come up with a much better product or service than the brand you’re attacking as in: "u pay’d $$$’s 4 this stuffs seriosly U R all rettardz!!!1!".

Also, please bear in mind that if you ever use a semi colon, say, or proper plurals instead of simply adding a "z", you will be ostracised by the entire worldwide troll community (who would meet regularly if only they had the courage to turn their caps-locks off and come out from behind the anonymity of computers).

Other requirements include seething rage, desperate and unfulfilled attention-seeking, inbuilt idiocy, complete irrationality, 19 words for “gay” and, if you are Xturmin8or1, teeny tiny boy’s bits.

Given these criteria, maybe the next time your brand’s attacked, the best reaction would be to take example from the wise words of Mr. T and simply “Pity the fools,” then happily continue making your brand - and your life - a success.