19 Oct 2011

TED talks ......Bunker Roy

I discovered TED Talks a couple of years ago. Every few months I check in and see what's new. TED talks are presentations from experts on different subjects all based on the concept that good ideas are worth spreading. The talks and speakers are from all walks of life so a quick search is bound to find a talk that suits your business, problem or way of thinking. I thought that I was late to this party and that most people were familiar with TED talks but it seems that some are still to find this hidden gem. 

I posed the question on Twitter & LinkedIn on Monday "What would you talk about if invited to speak at TED Talks?" The responses ranged from "The growth and impact of mobile on web surfing" to "The Importance of Dancing". (this proves that my connections are far from boring!)



You can register to join the TED community, follow the blog, the podcasts or the activity on social networks but in my opinion the best thing about Ted Talks is what you learn. Sometimes you don't learn anything knew, you just remember what you knew all along......that sometimes the solution is simple not complicated, and often the answer is right in front of you. 

The latest talk to be added to my favourites is by an inspiring man called Bunker Roy who talks about solar power, listening to the people on the ground, adapting to situations, effective communication and how competence, confidence and belief are what make a true professional.

In this current economic climate with businesses under pressure and feeling the full force of the recession I think there is a lot businesses can learn from Bunker Roy. You'll need to put the kettle on for this video, it will take up 20 minutes of your day but then, it's 20 minutes well spent if you learn something valuable.

If you've time Caroline Casey's talk on Looking past Limits is also highly recommended.

Comments welcome.

18 Oct 2011

Can you pop better than Baby Bang?



The fashion brand ASOS are currently promoting their men’s Autumn/Winter range with a competition entitled "Can you pop better than Baby Bang?" on Facebook and YouTube. Anyone who is street, urban, cool or “sick” will know what this means and that Baby Bang is a16 year old    making waves on the Urban dance scene. The prize is £500 of ASOS vouchers, the title of Urban Tour Champion and all the free publicity and opportunities that go with having your performance shared on social networks.

It’s a winning formula because ASOS are talking the same language as their target audience, the competition is imaginative, and it requires the audience to do something, to contribute in order to join this community.

The fact that people are taking time to record their best moves, posting it to YouTube and Facebook, and willingly sharing that content with ASOS demonstrates the loyalty and trust they have for the brand. They want to be part of the ASOS community; entrants are happy to be associated with the brand as they share the same values or aim to live the lifestyle. ASOS  Facebook page currently has 1,203,465 likes and maintains this volume of followers by giving them what they want:  fashion and styling tips, exclusive competitions, and special offers and behind the scenes access at events. In return ASOS get sales.

I keep banging on about how important it is to understand what customers want from connecting with a brand on social networks and Retweet to win, Read our latest blog or  “like” our Facebook page just won't cut the mustard as more and more businesses battle for customers attention.

If a social campaign isn’t delivering the results your business hoped for then it's worth reviewing your activity before you lay the blame for failure with the social network. If you think this marketing channel won’t work for your sector then think again, check out B&Q or Radio 4 for examples that aren't hip, young or sexy yet successfully use social media to connect with their target audience.
   
Content is king and if your goal is to build valuable, long term relationships with your customers I’d suggest taking a leaf out of ASOS book and find your business equivalent of "popping better than Baby Bang", possibly less painful than it sounds!

If I can help feel free to contact me.

26 Sep 2011

Observation .....Where are the women?




When I was a child I changed what I wanted to be when I grew up on a weekly basis. I was often told that it wouldn’t be possible. I couldn’t be a ballerina because I was too tall, I couldn’t be a singer because I was tone deaf, I couldn’t be an astronaut because I got travel sick just going to my Granny's on the bus. There were lots of things I couldn’t do because I was rubbish at them but no-one, absolutely no-one ever told me that I couldn’t do something because I’m a girl.

I worked for an airline for eleven years in a predominantly female environment where no-one cared about my gender. Seniority was based on rank and experience. It wasn't until I left that environment at the age of 31 that I noticed some people treated me differently because I was female. It’s rare, but it does happen.

Last year I had a phone call from a guy who was organising an event and looking for speakers. The conversation was going well until he said “we don’t have a woman so I thought of you.” Really?! “You don’t want me for my brains, my sparkling conversation or my wit; you’re only inviting me so there is a token woman on the panel?”....I could say I politely declined but to be honest, I was far from polite. Was this a one off? No, in the last year it's happened twice.

I put it down to the individuals being idiots rather than a reflection of the bigger picture as the majority of men I meet don’t live in the 1950’s. However can you remember the last time you read a feature in an industry magazine entitled “Men in Digital” or “Men in Advertising”? No, I can’t think of a time either so why do it for women?

When following large events and conferences on Twitter I frequently see other women question “Where are the female panellists?”. The answer appears to be that they are often not there or greatly outnumbered by men. Why is that? Are women backwards at coming forward? Is ratio a factor depending on industry? Are women not invited to speak at higher profile events or do we decline the offer due to a lack of confidence? I’m genuinely interested to find out.

I consider myself to be what I call an “Equalist". I believe people should be judged on their ability, not their gender, race, religion or what school they went to, and the vast majority of people I meet share the same values. We all joke about “typical man” or “typical woman” which is pretty harmless (let’s face it, if there was such a thing as “typical” the divorce rate would be a lot lower) but for future generations we need more positive role models, male and female.

I was cautious about writing this post as there’s a chance some will consider it anti-men or think that I’m going to take to burning my bra in the street. If you’ve met me you’ll know there’s no chance of that and talking to my female peers has convinced me to publish this post. I’m writing this because there are lots of seriously talented, hardworking, intelligent women who represent a whole generation of little girls who grew up believing hard work and ability were more important than gender. I’d pay to hear those women talk, sharing their knowledge with the business community and sharing the stage with their equally inspiring male counterparts. So, the next time you attend a big conference with an all-male panel please ask the organiser where the women are? I seriously doubt they are all washing their hair.

23 Sep 2011

Allergic to jargon?



Do you remember the guy on blind date who told Cilla he was a vision technician? Cilla was perplexed until he revealed that was a fancy way of saying he was a window cleaner.

The Oxford English dictionary provides the definition of jargon as:
special words or expressions used by a profession or group that are difficult for others to understand
Extensive use of jargon drives me crazy. I find that those who use a lot of unfamiliar or vague words to explain a concept often have no idea what they are talking about or are trying to elevate their own position. The person listening to them is often lost after the first few sentences but is too embarrassed to ask “What does that mean?”

I’ve been attending lots of fantastic events this week and the topic of jargon keeps cropping up, usually followed by the rolling of eyes. One girl told me her jargon allergy developed every time she heard the word “transmedia”. Other favourites amongst the group were “guru” , “buzz” and the overuse of the E word, “engagement”.

Personally the word that irks me the most is "transparency". I trip over this word on a regular basis because it’s everywhere; an example being “Businesses using social media should be transparent in their message to customers.” I think the majority of business people are honest and smart enough to know that misleading customers is damaging to any business and pointing this out is a tad insulting. If businesses haven’t figured that out then they will soon enough whether that involves social media or not. Let’s not insult people’s intelligence or alienate them with jargon and go for straight talking instead.

If I remember correctly the window cleaner still got the girl in the end.

*Image courtesy of ukgameshows.com

12 Sep 2011

blipfoto



Social Media Week is coming to Glasgow, a week of events across the city with a variety of speakers and a multitude of different insights, views and opinions. It’s a great opportunity for those who are interested in social media to learn, share experiences and network.

One of the speakers I’m most interested to hear is Edinburgh based Joe Tree, founder and CEO of blipfoto.  The concept of blipfoto is very simple, take one photo each day and post it to a journal where other members can view and comment on it.  There are no adverts on this site, no brands pushing their products or trying to sell. The site is for personal use only with the exception of charities and not for profit organisations which fits in with the overall ethos. It’s pure, it’s human and I'm finding it addictive! There are skilled photographers posting images of great beauty and then there are beginners like me, snapping away on their mobile phone when something catches their eye.

Blipfoto has created a real sense of community because everyone is sharing. There is the guy who records his skydiving activity (brave!), people capturing images of their family, pictures from and of all walks of life. There is something quite magical and inspirational about it and there is something new every time I visit.

Despite the fact that blipfoto is not for commercial use there is a lot to be learned from the concept. Mainly that unique content, sharing information and respecting others are key ingredients for creating a successful online community .

Of course ROI, measurement and strategy are extremely important but take a moment to step back. Social media isn't about numbers, it's about people, communication, and interaction.

I joined blipfoto simply because I like it and I come back for more because there is always something new to see. Any business using social media should consider these points, don’t let your sales team take over with links and promotions and the constant need to sell, sell, sell! Create a space for your target audience to enjoy and get value from and they will come back for more.

25 May 2011

Marmite



When I teach my clients Crisis Management I always wear my PR hat and remind them that every cloud has a silver lining. Marmite, love it or hate it, today are proving that point.

Marmite has been banned in Denmark due to a change in the food regulations and Marmite has been quick off the mark asking fans of the brand to take to their social networks to campaign against the ruling. A Twibbon has been created, (a badge for your profile on twitter)to show support for Marmite and the jokes are spreading thick and fast.

The whole of Marmite's marketing campaign is based around the fact that people have a strong reaction to their product. People either love it or hate it, and those who love it stick together, well, they do online anyway.

You can watch the audience grow and the social media antics unfold at Marmite's account on Facebook with it's 635,138 followers and in the last hour they have set up a new Twitter account currently with 422 followers. You can monitor the brand on Twitter with the hashtag #marmite, let's see how quickly the numbers on the accounts increase.

It will be interesting to see what unfolds, I doubt that the Danish government will change their mind about the product but will Marmite see a rise in sales in other countries as a result of all this attention?

Time will tell but one thing is for sure, the team who look after the social media have been quick off the mark, creative and are using humour and the fact their customers are loyal to the brand to turn what could have been a damaging situation into a golden opportunity.

Update - It is 6 hours since I wrote this post and the FB page for Marmite now has 654,066 likes - if I wrote the number down correctly earlier that's an increase of 18,928!!!!! Wow! Twitter has a tiny increase  in comparison with an extra 200 followers but Marmite is trending in the UK.

Feel free to contact me if I can help with your social media strategy or just to say hello.

18 May 2011

A Secret community



PostSecret is a social network with a twist. Started in 2004 by Frank Warren as a community arts project PostSecret has become a worldwide phenomenon with books, exhibitions, tours and an enormous online following, with over 350 million page views on the website that is updated every Sunday.
PostSecret offers individuals the chance to anonymously share their hopes, fears, desires, weaknesses and goals with the world. Anyone can fill out a postcard revealing their secret and post it to be published online. There is a discussion forum where people can chat and offer advice and the website also links to helplines and support networks.
PostSecret is unusual in that some of the content could be considered quite depressing, even the stiffest of upper lips would wobble at certain postcards, yet it is hugely popular and captivates the audience. There is a real sense of community here amongst the confessions of strangers.
Its success lies in the simplicity of the idea and the fact that the audience have an emotional reaction to the content. The reaction could be positive or negative but the connection is strong enough for the audience to share it with their social networks. The latest blog has been shared on Facebook 106 thousand times and the Twitter account has 385,475 followers.
Any business using social media should be aiming for the audience to care enough to share its content, to recommend their brand, promoting it to their peers, friends and family in a positive light. Marketers who run “RT to win” competitions on Twitter have a short shelf life in my opinion, it’s so boring!
Be original, focus on the customers need, provide thought provoking content, inspire people, make them laugh, make them feel something and you’ll be miles ahead of your competitors.

26 Apr 2011

Look beyond the Screen


Love is Like Life but Longer by Poppy de Villeneuve on Vimeo.


When sitting in front of a screen updating your social media accounts are you confident that the updates you post are delivering the correct message to your target audience? Are you speaking their language?

It's essential to see past the computer screen and recognise that real people, current and potential customers are reading the messages you post. These people are all individuals and vary from enthusiastic novices to experts, happy laid back souls to grumpy so and so's, all forming an impression, making assumptions and sharing their opinion with their own networks. How do you reach and engage with so many different personalities when you can't see their face, hear their tone or read their body language?

The first three minutes of this beautiful film by Poppy de Villeneuve highlight how simple it is to form the wrong impression when talking the same language. We've all been there, but when it comes to presenting your business online don't leave it to chance, have a strategy in place. If I can help please feel free to get in touch. In the meantime, click the full screen option and enjoy the film.

13 Apr 2011

Drawing traffic to your website



The story of Jack Henderson, a six year old boy who has raised an astounding £10,000 in 2 weeks for the Sick Kids Hospital, is a perfect example of how social media can be used to elevate your position, drive traffic to your website and communicate with a global audience.

Social media is all about engaging and connecting with your target audience. Taking the time to find out who your followers are and what they do for a living can be hugely beneficial in finding key influencers and champions for your cause.
Jacks Daddy, Ed Henderson, contacted me via Twitter last month with a link to a website he’d created called “Jack draws anything”. Jack wanted to raise money for the hospital which had looked after his baby brother and he came up with the idea of drawing pictures in exchange for cash. The initial target was £100 but with the support of Twitter and Facebook things grew rapidly. The website link was shared by Ed’s followers and was direct messaged to journalists for newspapers and television to ensure they were aware of the story. Ed simply posted the link and let the network do the rest.

Social media makes media personalities accessible to Joe Public, a search on Twitter for journalists or newspaper titles will produce a comprehensive list from Channel 4 newsreaders to representatives for your local paper.

As you’ll see from the statistics below the social networks didn't deliver the most traffic to the website however by connecting with the right people - key journalists, and individuals with large followings - the story was presented to a wider audience via features on BBC News24, Channel 4, The Hour and the majority of daily newspapers.

Statistics for the first 10 days starting 21st march 2011

Visits = 30,552 Unique Visitors = 27,781 Page Views = 45,895

48.28% Direct Traffic
39.40% Referring Sites
12.32% Search Engines

REFERRING SITES in descending order:
facebook.com, twitter.com, metafilter.com, linkedin.com, justgiving.com, news.stv.tv, edinburghsickkids.org, reddit.com, edinburghnews.scotsman.com

I’d imagine another factor reflected in the statistics is the benefit of having a website address that is easy to remember.

Of course the most important ingredient is having a good story. Jack Henderson is a special little boy with a heart of gold. Armed with a pen, a good idea and a creative streak he’s achieved something remarkable and taught us a thing or two about entrepreneurship at the same time.
Jack is having a rest from drawing now, he has school to go to after all, but if you’d like to donate to the Sick Kids Hospital in Edinburgh you can do so here.

Update June 2011:
Jack signs book deal http://jackdrawsanything.com/press-release-jack-draws-anything-secures-int

9 Mar 2011

Facebook - statistics video

The World Is Obsessed With Facebook from Alex Trimpe on Vimeo.


A brief post to share this video by Alex Trimpe , lots of statistics here about Facebook, I particularly like the graphic showing the activity over a 20 minute period.

I often hear businesses claim they can't afford the time to invest in social media. Watch this short video then ask the question "Can I afford NOT to invest?"

Social media for business is a commitment, there is no doubt about it. However a good strategy will be built around the individual business and take in to consideration the resources available.

One size doesn't fit all, if time is an issue then choose the platform where the majority of your customers are. If 85% of your target market use Facebook then focus your energy on the largest audience, rather than trying to juggle a presence on every social network.

It's the best way to achieve your goals and it makes engaging with your audience a pleasure, rather than just another job on the "to do" list.

Feel free to get in touch if I can be of assistance.

26 Feb 2011

Reputation Management



Many businesses are keen to use social media but hold back because of a fear of negative comments and how to manage their reputation on-line. The reality is that people will be talking about your business on social networks whether you have an official presence or not.

Customers have the right to complain and often take to Twitter as a sign of sheer frustration after their emails or phone calls have been ignored. Many large companies are improving their customer care reputation with customer service staff resolving issues in real time. Examples would be @BTCare and @Orangehelpers.

The key is to address the issue by acknowledging the complaint, apologising for the customer being unhappy and offering to investigate and find a solution. The initial contact can be made on the social network but I'd recommend taking the conversation off-line. Disgruntled customers want to explain what the issue is, they want you to listen and understand why they are unhappy, and most importantly they want a solution that they deem acceptable. If they have been frustrated with the service so far a phone call and a chat with a "real person" could turn the situation around. Meanwhile, those who have seen the exchanges on Twitter will have the impression that the business is trying it's best to offer good customer service, rather than ignoring the problem.

Social networks certainly turn up the volume on word of mouth but if you listen to your customers and approach problems in a professional manner the end result can have a positive effect on your reputation. On that note I'd like to thank Jon at @OrangeHelpers who took 5 minutes to rectify an issue I was having with broadband, fantastic customers service and very friendly too.



10 Feb 2011

Facebook: What's not to "Like"?




Every business using social media should be measuring and monitoring the activity to ensure ROI, spot trends and develop their strategy to meet the needs of the audience and reach the goals set.

There are many ways to do this but counting the number of "likes" or followers is a questionable form of measurement.

For example, I could set up a FB business page and ask 300 contacts to "like" it. If they are not the correct target market what value does this offer the business? If the FB page attracts only 50 fans, who love the product, buy from the business and recommend it to others surely that's a better reflection of success than counting "likes"?

A FB page could generate huge amounts of traffic for a company website and not receive one single "like". A teenager visiting a FB page about sexual health is unlikely to become a fan as that kind of status update may cause embarrassment amongst peers and relatives. Debt, bullying and infertility are other examples of pages which from the outside may not appear to be engaging many people but the traffic and enquiries could tell a very different story. It's the old adage about never judging books by their covers.

If I can help with your social media strategy please feel free to contact me.

7 Feb 2011

1994 - What is the internet?



Cast your mind back to 1994,the internet was a shiny new toy and email the latest accessory. Fast forward 17 years and Facebook, Twitter, Foursquare, LinkedIn are todays equivalent.
If you are considering using social media to reach an audience of potential customers, clients, journalists and peers, don't make the same mistake as NBC's "The Today Show" presenters.
Do your homework, think about the message you want to deliver and understand how the tools work before you go live.
Need help? Get in touch.

26 Jan 2011

Meet Ben - the sign man

Who will be responsible for the day to day running of your social media? Is it a role for the marketing department or the customer facing staff? You have a social media strategy, you have goals and you know how to measure the activity but how much time did you spend finding the best person/people to deliver the message?

Anyone can learn about products and services and share information online but what a business really needs is representatives who are passionate, who genuinely care, who notice the little things and who react accordingly.

Communication can be complicated, the message needs to be clear but as this short film by Oscar Sharp demonstrates, it's not just about holding up a sign.

(Click on bottom right to view full screen)

25 Jan 2011

A face or a logo?




Are you considering using Twitter to promote a business?

I was in that position three years ago and was bamboozled by the information and the expert advice. I played around with a personal account on Twitter, only once I was confident with how it worked did I set up a separate account for business. I used an image from the company website as the profile picture and the account was created as @CompanyName. It was very successful in driving traffic (40% directly from Twitter), raising brand awareness and creating a buzz which led to the sale of event tickets and memberships.

Some experts advise businesses to put a human face and name to the account as it is the "best" way to engage with an audience. “Twitter is about people, not logos” in their view. I question that advice unless you are the brand or well recognised in your field.

In general, business isn’t about one individual; it is about a product or service, the customers, their needs and requirements. I've created campaigns for different sectors and every time a logo, not a face, has been used as the Twitter handle. Does a staff member represent your business better than the logo and company name? What if that employee gets a new job with a competitor? Will your customer base move with him or stay loyal to your brand? Food for thought.

There are lots of reasons, some SEO based, why a company would encourage the use of multiple twitter accounts run by different employees. I don't disagree with that, I’m simply championing the logo as it’s getting a bad wrap – don’t write it off.

A logo can have personality …look at the Meerkat campaign, Bulldog Natural or Soap & Glory. No faces, just logos that you recognise, see on the shelves or in adverts on the television. Familiarity, association, connection, influence. Of course this can work in the negative, but with a strategy in place you’d have that covered.

An account is worth following because it is entertaining, informative, provocative or amusing. A logo is only a barrier to effective communication if you allow it to be.


Comments welcome.