What’s Next for Rubio?

Can you claim momentum if you only finished third?

Most people would say no, but it’s the big question facing Marco Rubio following the Iowa caucus.

Why does it matter? Because it defines whether Rubio continues to play it safe or if he decides to go for the jugular.

The safe option is to carry on as he has done. Allow Trump and Cruz to keep whacking each other and focus on getting his ground game in place and continuing to build a steady stream of delegates, hopefully pulling off a few wins.

This strategy relies on a belief in his long-term sticking power and a confidence in Cruz and Trump getting weaker not stronger over time. It’s the safe option and one which would be hard to fault the Rubio campaign for.

But, it cedes control of the story to the other men. There’s nothing wrong with being the tortoise in a marathon, but it does mean the campaign narrative will continue to be dictated by his opponents.

Under this approach Rubio just carries on what he’s doing and hopes that New Hampshire result is either the same or better for him. He doesn’t do anything flashy or suddenly ratchet up spending, but instead bides his time.

This can’t last for ever. At some point Rubio needs to set out why he should win — the longer he plays the long game, the more important, but also more difficult this becomes.

The Big ‘Mo’

Or, the Rubio campaign can decide this is our moment. We’ve exceeded expectations, Trump has fallen short and Cruz can’t carry the country.

To do this, the Rubio camp effectively has to decide to go all-in. They need to trumpet their success at every opportunity and gamble on the GOP establishment swinging all their weight behind his campaign.

Why do this? Because it could win you the race before it even gets going.

Trump’s support has proven to be brittle and the party are crying out for someone who isn’t Cruz to be the candidate. If Rubio plays his cards right he can eliminate the rest of the field and make this a straight shoot out between him and Cruz — a shootout he has to be considered favourite in.

This approach involves a sudden flurry of activity — big media spend on positive adverts about why Rubio is the only sensible choice, along with a touting of his credentials. Negative attacks will support this, but should focus on making Cruz and Trump two badpeas in a pod.

This would be complemented by a media stampede — primarily through surrogates. Rubio’s credentials will be shouted about from every street corner, with as many different GOP faces as possible describing him as the best shot for winning back the White House.

If Rubio does this right and the GOP is willing to back him, it will force the second and third tier candidates out of the race. They’ll have no momentum, no backing and won’t even be considered worthy of a mention.

What’s next?

So what will he do? I suspect we’ll see bets hedged until after New Hampshire. If he can come first or second there it confirms he has the momentum and it’s time to switch to all gun’s blazing. Another third place will likely lead to him settling in for the long game and a strong focus on accumulating delegates.

Why Twitter should sell itself to Google

The future of Twitter is everyone’s favourite discussion topic at the moment. Jack Dorsey’s brutal summary of the problems facing the company has encouraged speculation around who might want to buy the company.

Mathew Ingram‘s covered exactly why Google should want to buy Twitter, but should Twitter look to sell?

In a word yes – for 3 main reasons:

1) Ad know how

Twitter has struggled to monetise its offering. Google is better than anyone else at making digital advertising pay.

Whether it’s topic based or linked to content – Twitter needs the expertise and reach that Google’s existing network brings.

Advertisers would love this too – a single point of contact to cover search, YouTube pre-roll and Twitter would make running integrated campaigns a doddle.

2) Security

Google’s commitment to Google+ showed they’re willing to invest time and money in making a social platform work. Twitter has shown it can create an engaged audience – it’s challenge right now is growing what it already has, rather than attempting to create a Facebook competitor from scratch. Google will provide the time and security Twitter needs to experiment and figure out how exactly it can crack the mainstream.

3) Access to talent

Twitter has a problem retaining staff. That’s the media narrative anyway. It’s not entirely true, but it’s becoming seen to be a problem. Google on the other hand has no problem attracting talent. If Google own Twitter, Twitter get access to all Google’s existing talent at a single stroke. But best of all, they become a very attractive proposition in their own right – go to Twitter , make it into a genuine Facebook rival and then explore your options with Google. What’s not to like#?

What about investors?

And why should the shareholders sell? Simple – Google will pay a good price and they’ll be free of an investment which looks set to get worse before it gets better.

As Ingram points out – there may never be a better time to buy Twitter. But, there’s also never been a better time for Twitter to sell itself.

Je suis Charlie? Maybe. Nous sommes tous Charlie? Non

Je Suis Charlie

Am I? If I was put in that situation would I be as brave as they were? I’d like to think so, but the simple answer is I don’t know.

I’ve been yelled at in person and down the phone about stories I’ve been researching or written; called a fascist for defending Tony Blair.

But threatened with physical violence? Never, and until we’re put in that situation, I don’t think any of us can be truly certain how we’d respond.

We can and should stand with Charlie Hebdo in spirit. Hashtags and sharing the cartoons make it easier than ever before to take a stand and show we support ideals.

But would we die for them? That’s a question that’s a lot harder to answer.

Nous sommes tous Charlie

We’re all Charlie? No chance. The reaction of the British media put paid to the notion of that. Just look at our front pages, compared to those of the rest of Europe.

Or listen to Martin Rowson explain the cartoon he wanted to share with the world, one no UK newspaper would print.

At times like this it’s tempting to think we all come together to defend liberal ideas, like free speech and tolerance. But the reality is we don’t. Our internal thoughts become magnified.

For some of us, that’s defending freedom of expression more than ever. For others, it’s fear that shines through and from this calls for retribution.

The best way we can respond to yesterday’s horrific assault is by carrying on as before and do our best to honour the lost lives.

By toning down our satire, failing to criticise extremism, whatever form it takes, or by demanding retribution against a whole culture, we’re letting down those who died.

#CameronMustGo – Why trending on Twitter doesn’t make your campaign newsworthy

Another weekend, another Twitter storm. This time the focus has been on people venting their anti-Cameron feelings with #CameronMustGo.

So far so normal. The difference this time has come with the expectation that these tweets amount to something more than people blowing off steam.

Since Sunday morning, there’s also been a frankly ridiculous number of tweets asking why the BBC and other media aren’t covering the hashtag or like the tweet below arguing that they never will.

Trying to shame the BBC into covering a topic is nothing new. Just look at hashtags like #bbcbias or almost any discussion around protests. But normally this anger is directed at the supposed lack of coverage of  physical protests or demonstrations.

Most of the time, this anger is misplaced with the BBC or whichever media organisation is under the cosh having already covered the story.

Frustration over the lack of coverage of a hashtag is a whole new world of anger.

Naturally, the last couple of hours have seen tweets mocking this frustration. And they’re right to. A trending topic on Twitter does not equal a news story – well unless you’re Alex from Target.

What exactly is newsworthy about this latest hashtag? Lots of people disagree with or even hate Cameron? We already know that from opinion polls.

It’s nothing new and  I wonder why people demand media coverage.

Probably because they want Cameron to go and feel news coverage would justify their cause. For all the bleating about social media replacing the mainstream media, it’s amazing how much digital crusaders still want to be validated by coverage in the dailies or 6 o’clock news.

We have a free press and it’s up to reporters and editors to decide on the stories that are worth covering. If mob outrage starts defining what editors to cover then we’re going down a very slippery slope and entering a world of social/traditional media that I want no part of.

The media in 2014

On Tuesday I spoke about the media and innovation in 2014 as part of Hotwire’s Revisiting The Digital Trends Report event – some notes from my talk are below.

2014’s been a year of experimentation and change for the media. From the NYT embracing native advertising to The Guardian unveiling plans for a private members club, everyone is looking at ways to monetise their brand and its offering.

Native advertising has led the charge here, but as the year’s gone on there’s been a mini backlash as people question how clearly the distinctions between editorial and advertorial are signposted.

This spirit of experimentation has been driven by the need to respond to the gauntlet thrown down by Buzzfeed and co. We predicted that the battleground would switch from search to social and that’s been vindicated by the actions of publishers. The Mirror has led the way- launching Ampp3d at the back end of last year and following it up with MirrorRow Z. The Telegraph with Project Babb and the Independent with i100 are more recent converts, but it’s clear that as time goes on more and more orgs will adopt this approach

This is true for micro approaches to content too – we’ve seen the media experiment with different ways of telling stories, from Vine and Instagram Video right through to indepth immersive narratives (shameless plug – we developed one for Microsoft, it was a lot of fun)

At the start of the year we said everyone was big media now. Looking to 2015 we’d amend this to say we’re all publishers now. A subtle change, but an important one. We need to think like publishers in the way we approach creating and sharing content.

Having embraced content in 2014, the next challenge is distribution. Like it or not, paid is only going to be more critical, with services like Outbrain due to become a central part of any content marketers toolkit. A large part of this will be identifying the kinds of content that work for your audience and the channels which work best for sharing them.

How can we do this? Well at the simplest level, let’s do what publishers do, see where people are sharing the content we publish and then tailor our own social content for these channels.

Paid can then be used to amplify the best performing channels – giving that added boost.

Again, the media is showcasing the way for publishers here. The oft- cited Quartz curve is a perfect example of this – based on their data and instinct they realised articles between 5-800 words simply weren’t being shared. So they stopped writing them. That coupled with their ability to market effectively via both live social – Twitter, Facebook etc and so called dark social – email newsletters and the like  has been crucial to their success.

In years to come we’ll look back at 2014 as the year the media regained its confidence, finding new ways to create and share content, while also experimenting with new revenue models. Looking to 2015, we’ll see more of the same, but also consolidation around the areas which work.