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The recent Shoreditch Twitnic saw an attendance of about 25 folk who braved the overcast skies of N1 to congregate in Shoreditch Park and have a lot of food and fun for Macmillan Cancer Support. The event raised just over £100 for the charity thanks to free food from Somerfield. As a follow up, I’ve interviewed Folu Babatola, one of Macmillan’s press team who came up with the Twitnic idea and is an avid Twitter user… follow him at @FoluB.


So tell me about Macmillan Cancer…
Macmillan Cancer Support is all about improving the lives of people affected by cancer. We provide practical, medical, emotional and financial support.  So as well as providing nurses and occupational therapists, we can come to your house and help with the gardening or carry your shopping and we even offer support if you’re struggling with the financial impact of cancer.

How did you get involved with Twitter – how do you use it for Macmillan?
I got involved because a couple of friends were using it and it seemed an easy way top keep in touch with them.  Both use social media as part of their work, so I saw first hand just how useful it can be for an organisation.  It took a while to get our heads round how to use it for Macmillan, but I think we’re getting there – it’s just part and parcel of being an organisation on the web these days.  We send out updates on campaigns and fundraising events, we encourage people to join in and we try our best to respond to everyone who @’s us, especially those who are fundraising. 

What was the idea behind the Shoreditch Twitnic?
I’ve been to a couple of the Shoreditch Twits and really enjoyed them, so when they were trying to come up with a June concept, I suggested making it part of our Big Picnic event.  We encourage people around the country to raise money for Macmillan by hosting picnics and getting their guests to donate money in exchange for some food or drink.  We also have loads of sales promotions in Somerfield, so if you go into your local one, you’ll find loads of products where a percentage of the profits are donated to Macmillan.  We were lucky in that Somerfield are great supporters of ours and they provided all the food and drink for the Twitnic.  Big Picnic goes on till the 14th July, so if anyone else wants to get involved, they can log on, register their details and get lots of tips, ideas and themes.

And you’ve got something else planned for Shoreditch as well?
We do, it’s called The Brick Lane Festival and it’s happening on the 13th August 2009.  We are basically taking over some venues on Brick Lane and the surrounding area and putting a bunch of bands on.  We’ve already announced that Frank Turner, The Chapman Family, Spycatcher and Jersey Budd are playing and we’re going to be announcing loads more in the next two weeks.  I’m even tempted to get up and play myself!

We’re really excited about the event as it’s the first time we’ve done anything like this.  Tickets are only £20 and all the bands and venues are doing it for free, so all that money goes to people affected by cancer. You can buy tickets and check for more bands being added here.

Continue reading ‘Interview; Folu Babatola, Macmillan Cancer’

Well apparently it’s summer – or at least it was, for a week. Anyway, on the basis that it may get warm again, and in conjunction with Folu from Macmillan Cancer Support, Shoreditch Twit – N1 and E2’s most popular tweetup – is heading outside… and to a time slot that we’re not really used to… the weekend. That’s right, in support of Macmillan’s Big Picnic, we’re holding a Twitnic up in Shoreditch Park on Saturday, 20th June, from 1.30pm.


While we’ll be praying for good weather for the next two weeks, you can start planning buy….

1. Buying a rug
2. Selecting appropriate picnic garments
3. Practice making Pimms
4. Telling all your twitter friends to sign up here

Finally, we’re also really grateful to Big Picnic supporter Somerfield who are providing us with a selection of goodies for the picnic itself. We’ll have a bucket or something on the day to collect donations for Macmillan. Follow them on twitter at @macmillancancer.

If anyone has suggestions for entertainment that go beyond frisbee and hackey-sack, I’m all ears.

Back in March, confectionery brand Skittles changed its homepage so that visitors were taken to a Twitter search page to see what was being said about the brand. Within hours, the project had been hijacked, leading to all kinds of negative tweets appearing on the company’s homepage including “#skittles got stuck in my mouth while driving. forced me to slam into an orphanage, killing hundreds, i’ll never eat them again.” While the hijack was somewhat predictable, Skittles’ decision to continue this transparency with Facebook, YouTube and Flickr has seen them ride out the storm and launch what is perhaps the most game changing home page to hit the web.


Visitors to Skittles.comare invited to “Interweb the rainbow”, which basically means “see what’s going on in the world of Skittles all over the web”. You can see chatter on Twitter, photos and videos on Flickr and YouTube, and product information from Wikipedia. “Isn’t this cool?” say social media people everywhere… well yes, it is. But why?

1. They don’t ask you to visit the factory
In Feb 2008, at  a Chinwag discussion on measuring social media, it became clear that deciding just what to measure was one of the biggest issues, and safe to say, that’s not changed. Danielle West, then at analytics firm Nedstat, highlighted the ability to track user engagement on a company’s homepage, whereas Will McInnes, one half of Nixon McInnes spoke much more about engagement, conversation and content.

Of course Nedstat is going to say that the aim of social media marketing is to drive traffic to your own website which you can analyse later, and it seems that every online campaign must have its own microsite these days. For brands selling to consumers, I find this a very strange mindset to have. From a sales point of view, a confectionery company shouldn’t care if you buy one of their products in a supermarket, a petrol station or in a vending machine, what matters is the purchase. Continue reading ‘Why is a game changer for marketers’

The Shoreditch Twit has always seen itself as a bit of a trendsetter, but when it comes to the sartorial spectrum, we bow down to the superior knowledge and style of our friends at fashion networking company Pout.

They’ve been putting together some great events this year, including the fabulous “Fashion and the Web” which was sponsored by MAC cosmetics. So, when it came to the idea of organising a Shoreditch Twit with the Pout team, we jumped at the chance.


So I can now announce that Shoreditch Twit #8 will be renamed The Shoreditch Pout and will take place on Wednesday 27th May at DreamBagsJaguarShoes. The growing presence of the fashion industry in social media is not hard to spot, plenty of brands are getting involved in Twitter for customer service and to engage in a conversation about fashion and products with their audience. I’m personally really excitied about this one and would love to get some other companies involved in the event, so if you’d like to work with us, contact @miggyfromPOUT or @shoreditchtwit

Will be great to see usual faces and new ones coming along. Sign up here or click on the flyer to put your name down.

Call me a humbug or a killjoy, but I have to say that my reaction to the Absolut Kindness campaign (A week,  where kind gestures earn free stuff for people giving them) was one of deep cynicism. This reaction has nothing to do with the product, which I have no problem ordering, or the people running the online campaign. It has more to do with the timing, tone and legitimacy of the “kindness as currency” tagline, leading to a messy self-congratulatory mush.

absolut kindness

First off is the advert that’s being aired in cinemas: A whistlestop trip around the globe showing how lovely the world would be if only we could hug and kiss each other instead of paying for things – a sort of kindness economy if you will. Trouble is, that in a time of global recession, suggesting that everything would be better if only money didn’t exist is twee, naive and unreasonable as a central concept of a marketing campaign. What’s more, it’s not a concept that Absolut (owned by Pernod Ricard, a company making annual sales of €6.6bn) subscribes to. Absolut sold around 100m litres of Vodka in 2008, I’m sure that they’d prefer £16 for a bottle rather than a kiss on the cheek (not to mention their shareholders).

Secondly, the week long series of events and giveaways, where people could exchange acts of kindness for goods (fruit, coffee, cocktails – although I’ve seen many a girl get free drinks in exchange for their number or a discreet snog). The website proudly reported that “Early morning coffee seekers who were extra kind to the barista staff were rewarded with lattes, cappuccinos and a few healthy teas. Smiles, winks, loud ‘good mornings’, lots of compliments and laughs demonstrate just how kind Londoners can be.” Yes we can be kind, if we’re getting something for free.

What Absolut don’t tell us is how the vendors were coaxed into taking part. For example, the Berwick St market traders aren’t operating on Pernod Ricard finances. My hunch is that they were sponsored by Absolut to get involved – meaning that the pashminas and grapefruits were paid for in the first place – in essence making the “acts of  kindness” superfluous to the entire economy of it all – or, by Absolut’s logic meaning they’ve been paid for twice… odd.

Finally, visitors to the website are asked the question: In an Absolut World you could acquire whatever you desire as long as you’re prepared to pay in kindness. That puts a slight spin on value. So, how would you measure value? What would you buy and how would you pay for it? 

Unfortunately, most visitors didn’t really get the question and came up with gems such as:

Mina says:
April 17, 2009 at 5:13 pm
I wish I can live in a world of kindness. No money, no worries , no robbery just kindness. What a wonderful life…..
Esther Poyer says:
April 18, 2009 at 5:01 pm
If kindness was currency I would grow a field of red rose bushes; place a long stemmed rose on the graves of one hundred child soldiers killed in the Mozambique war. So they will sleep on in perfect beauty, in memory and that we are reminded that a baby’s breath is the sweetest scent.
Tony says:
April 18, 2009 at 5:15 pm
I would rebuild New Orleans and retire on a farm.
Willem says:
April 18, 2009 at 6:38 pm
I would go to a nice pub and pay for rounds in exchange for funny stories.
Laura says:
April 20, 2009 at 1:20 pm
I would rescue all the mistreated animals in the world, take care of them, and then make sure each one had a happy home to go to.
Leon says:
April 21, 2009 at 2:10 pm
I’d grow loads of vegetables and plants and pass them on. Makes the world greener, shares stuff around and sorts out the CO2 problem. Done!
Polly says:
April 21, 2009 at 2:27 pm
If kindness were currency I’d pay for everyone around the world to have expensive cancer drugs that they can’t currently get. I’d do anything for that. I’d even be kind to spiders by giving them flies to eat, and not screaming loudly when I see them and not dusting away their webs.
Claire says:
April 21, 2009 at 3:35 pm
I would buy enough chocolate for everyone and distribute it when it was needed
  • I wish I can live in a world of kindness. No money, no worries , no robbery just kindness. What a wonderful life…..  (Obviously not read Hobbes’ Leviathan)
  • I would rebuild New Orleans and retire on a farm. (You’ll have to be REALLY kind to rebuild a city)
  • If kindness were currency I’d pay for everyone around the world to have expensive cancer drugs that they can’t currently get. I’d do anything for that. I’d even be kind to spiders by giving them flies to eat, and not screaming loudly when I see them and not dusting away their webs. (Sure, let’s ask drugs companies to give away years of R&D in exchange for Polly being nice to spiders, “Hold please….” )
  • I would buy enough chocolate for everyone and distribute it when it was needed (You’d buy chocolate? with money? isn’t that against the rules?)

Well thanks Absolut for providing us with some amusement, but please stick to marketing campaigns that don’t patronise us or try to turn us into hippies – it doesn’t suit you.

About a year ago, I started writing this blog (first post here) and I’ve enjoyed it… mostly. Aside from the continual pressure I feel to write something interesting and new, it’s been a nice little outlet for things that catch my eye. I do try not to just exacerbate the social media echo chamber that can sometimes show itself around popular topics, but the negative result of this is the fact I’ve only managed about a post a week over the last year.


Anyway, I also do appreciate the emails I get letting me know about cool new stuff to write about – even if I’ve not posted anything yet, I’m sure I’ll get around to it when the time comes (Chris, Yuri, Alex are first in my showing love queue!)