Thursday, June 10, 2010



Yes, ‘tis true – I have succumbed to peer pressure and made the switch from Blogger to Wordpress. If you’d like to continue following my Social Media adventures, please follow:

Thursday, May 20, 2010

Hang Up Your Hang-Ups: The ROI Myth Dispelled

That’s it – I’ve HAD it. For years now, I’ve paid one telecoms service provider after another for my mobile phone, month in, month out. And you know what? In all these years, I’ve never ONCE received any return on investment for this!! Can you believe it??!! I’ve been a good customer, paid on time, and have never once received a single penny back from these communications charlatans. I’m cancelling my contract – there’s simply no ROI to be had from my mobile phone.

Ludicrous? Yes. Absurd? Yes. Why? Because, quite simply, the value of a mobile phone comes from the service it provides. The fact that it doesn’t generate revenue for me is irrelevant – it’s a communications tool that makes everyday communications infinitely easier and more convenient – that’s its value.

And you know what? I’m sure more astute readers of this post will already have twigged where I’m leading with this (you’re a smart bunch) – the same can be said for Social Media.

I’ve been having an interesting discussion this week with a senior marketer in the Marketing Professionals’ Network on LinkedIn. He claims that he often has difficulties ‘selling’ Social Media to his clients because they want to see demonstrable transactional ROI before they commit to using this channel.

But, just like the humble mobile telephone, Social Media is a COMMUNICATIONS tool. @smashadv, an American copywriter / ad man I regularly converse with on Twitter, sums this up succinctly: ‘Comm-Unity’. Enough said. So why do so many people remain hung up on ROI? Is it because they, blindly, still consider Social Media as a marketing device, rather than a communications channel? I really think it is.

Sure, an e-commerce platform delivers verifiable sales – visible, accountable ROI that keeps the bean-counters happy to invest. But what drives consumers to that platform in the first place? A special offer announced on Twitter? A coupon posted on Facebook? Discounts offered to people checking-in on Foursquare? An email voucher? All of these and more?

As marketers and advertisers, we are in the communication business – plain and simple. It is our job to convey the right messages, to the right people, at the right time. And how do we do this? Through communications channels, plain and simple.

So if you still have clients hung up on ROI, take a few moments to ask them if they use a mobile phone. I guarantee that none of them could live without it, despite its lack of ‘measurable’ ROI.


Wednesday, May 12, 2010

Social Media Revolution - 2

You may remember that I posted a video on the Social Media revolution a few months ago. Well, such is the speed with which SM progresses, Socialnomics, the company that produced that first video, has had to create an updated one.

Even if you've watched the first one, this is vital viewing - plenty of new stats that are of considerable interest.


Monday, April 26, 2010

This. Is. Powerful. Stuff.

When Labour MP Kerry McCarthy was named Labour’s ‘Twitter Tsar’ back in August last year, several commentators rightly predicted that this year would see the UK’s very first ‘Social Media’ election.

Indeed, we now have a glut of MPs and parliamentary candidates tweeting about their campaign trail; the electorate can ‘like’ or become a fan of a political party on Facebook; the Liberal Democrats released an iPhone app to coincide with their manifesto launch – Social Media really has become the playground in which we, the general public, are being wooed.

But whilst this spate of activity highlights the possibilities of branding, marketing and mass communication, it has been another element of the forthcoming election that has really highlighted the incredible importance of Social Media as a real-time communications platform – the much-publicised Leaders’ Debates.

In similar vein to BBC Question Time (Twitter users regular tweet their opinions on the show as it is aired using the hashtag #BBCqt), the Leaders’ Debates have drawn a staggering amount of real-time comment, debate and interaction, using the hashtag ‘#leadersdebate’. Similar communities of people do exactly the same for Match of the Day, Doctor Who – the list really is limitless. But the Leaders’ Debates have drawn such a level of engagement that really is difficult to ignore.

People are once again engaging with politics in the UK – this fact is impossible to deny. There has been a huge surge in people registering to vote, which although most likely fuelled by a desire for change, once again shows how involving this election campaign is turning out to be.

But what this Social Media interaction really shows is how online channels such as Twitter really are providing people a ‘voice’ like never before. Although in no way comparable to the liberating role Twitter played during the Iran election protests, the huge interest in this election is highlighted by the fact that people are using Social Media to talk about it – and Social Media affords everyone a voice – one of the most fundamental principles of democracy.

As a marketer, I don’t need to be told of the possibilities that Social Media holds for brands and businesses. But in our rush to create dynamic, commercially viable SM campaigns that deliver lashings of ROI, perhaps we should start every campaign looking at the core element highlighted by the Leaders’ Debates.

Social Media is a communications tool - where the user has the power.

As Social Media marketers, we do not dictate the conversation and no longer direct a one-way flow of communication. The consumer audience now has power like never before – they have a voice – and it is our job to ensure our voice is part of their conversations.

Tuesday, March 30, 2010

Current. Concise. Creative.

A picture tells a thousand words. Quite simply, this is a supreme example of advertising. Hats off to The Guardian; great marketing.

Connecting HR - The Tweet Smell of Success...

Aside from several lesions to my shoulder courtesy of lugging stands and promo materials halfway across London through rush-hour (thanks @garelaos!), there’s plenty that I took away from last night’s inaugural ‘Connecting HR’ event.

The Square Pig in Holborn played host to a noisy cacophony of HR and social media enthusiasts, all casting avatars aside and emerging in the flesh (they live!) to network and solidify relationships that until now, have been nurtured online. Hats certainly need to be doffed in the direction of Jon Ingham and Gareth Jones, organisers of the event, as well as sponsors Courtenay HR, who put on a terrific evening.

From various conversations, I’m sure that the Twitterverse and Blogosphere will both be saturated with talk from last night, all of which I look forward to reading immensely. But for meantime, here are a few of my thoughts on the event.

First off, I’m not an HR professional, which is somewhat ironic considering the theme of the event! Nevertheless, I attended in a social media / marketing capacity, which is how I support the Courtenay HR brand and wider Stopgap Group and earn my crust. Nevertheless, after three hours chewing the fat (and consuming various imported beers!), I came away from the event with a thousand fresh perspectives and ideas buzzing around in my head. Here are a few of my findings:

i) Social Media is NOTHING without people

Forgive me for stating the bleedin’ obvious, but ‘social’ media really is all about human beings. I am a huge technology geek and make no secret of my love for social media. However, Twitter, Facebook, LinkedIn – every one of these revolutionary platforms is absolutely nothing without people driving it. We love Twitter – which is why we ran ‘Connecting HR’ – but it’s easy to forget that the reason we love it, is because real people are behind it. Social Media is simply the channel – people are the content and the reason to keep engaging with the platforms.

ii) HR and Marketing are intrinsically linked

I started the night (rather foolishly) thinking that marketers and HR professionals are very different creatures, however as the night and various conversations progressed, I realised in a true moment of epiphany, that HR and marketing are natural bedfellows. Marketing is about connecting with people. HR is about connecting with people. Social Media can be employed by either industry to build credible and lasting relationships with people. As Forrest Gump would say, ‘that’s all I have to say about that’.

iii) Marketers and HR functions need to be FOUND

When in Rome, do as the Romans do, and although this sounds highly anachronistic, the Romans are all using social media. Employees are people too (yes, it’s true!) and the majority of people now use some form of social media in their daily lives. One of the most effective ways of reaching people is to connect in a way that’s familiar to them. People are comfortable operating within LinkedIn, using Facebook, talking on Twitter, so why take them out of this environment? The advent of social media has meant that we as marketers / HR practioners no longer find people, they find us. Social media is one of the ways you can ensure that your business can – and will – be found by the right people, at the right time.

So as I wrap up (from a personal perspective) last night’s inaugural Connecting HR event, these are simply three key points that really shone out for me. Feel free to agree – feel free to disagree! But if you’re all as talkative as you were last night, I hope you’ll leave some interesting and insightful comments, here, on Twitter, on LinkedIn – hopefully I practice what I preach and you’ll all be able to find me in the way that suits you best.


Connect with me on LinkedIn
The HR Professionals' Network
The Stopgap Group Blog

Wednesday, February 10, 2010

The Parable of Social Media

Once upon a time, there was a small classroom in a local school. The teacher used to come in every day, ordered his pupils to sit down and began talking at them, using methods he had crafted over many years. The children were docile – they didn't know any different. One pupil put his hand up to ask a question. The teacher told him to be quiet. The boy was.

Then Social Media came along. The classroom grew exponentially, until pupils from all over the world were all in the same classroom. They started talking to each other. They started to make small groups for those with similar interests. They stopped listening to what the teacher was saying.

Frantically, the teacher tried to shout louder. He tried direct mail, one-way e-newsletters, telephone marketing, print adverts, even giant posters! But nothing caught the children's attention. They didn't want to be spoken to. They wanted to speak to each other.

The teacher was in a frightful state! All of his methods were no longer working – what was he to do? Concerned, he went to visit the head-teacher, Sat in her office, he quietly explained what had happened. “Whatever am I to do?” he enquired. The head-teacher, a wry smile on her face, turned to him and calmly assured him..

“Be part of the conversation.” She said.

Getting up, the teacher returned to his global classroom, where children from all over the world were now having thousands of conversations with each other, sharing news, swapping stories and getting together with others that held similar interests.

Walking up to one of the groups, the teacher listened to what the pupils were talking about. Slowly, he realised that it was something he knew lots about. Waiting for a pause, he then proceeded to talk with the pupils. They listened to him. They liked the fact that he was talking with them about the things they liked. The teacher grew happy again. He used this new method to go round the global classroom and teach the pupils the things he wanted to teach them.

They started to listen to him again.

And everyone was happy.


It amazes me how many marketers are still stood in front of the chalkboard, using traditional methods to engage a global room of consumers. Like it or not, Social Media has changed the world, and marketers need to change with it. Consumers no longer sit in rows like docile sponges, soaking up direct marketing that is thrown their way.

Put down the chalk. Walk amongst your audience and listen to what they are talking about. What they want. What makes them tick.


And then engage.

Thursday, January 7, 2010

Real-Time Marketing

Being 'reactive' in the days of Web 1.0:

See / hear demand for particular product or service. Discuss with Marketing Team. Agree to run a print advert in a leading magazine that will be published in three weeks time. Three weeks passes, print ad runs, target audience no longer has need for product / service required three weeks ago.

Being 'reactive' in the days of Web 2.0:

See / hear demand for particular product or service. Act upon it:

The deluge of snowy weather currently causing chaos around the UK may be keeping many marketers from their offices, but has this stopped the flow of marketing communications? Far, far from it.

Several outdoor brands (as well as supermarkets) are turning the winter weather to their advantage, pushing out marketing communications through – you guessed it – social media.

'But there's no ROI!' the doubters continue to scream. 'We can't measure anything!'

That's right – we can't measure the value of being instantly reactive and being able to offer real-time marketing to our customers. Why?

Because it's priceless.

Monday, January 4, 2010

Time to Wave Goodbye to Google?

Google, a company with omnipotent brand powers and an unrivalled status in the digital sphere, has been positioned as a ‘leader’ for so long, its foray into the social media scene was inevitable, not to mention anticipated. But am I the only one who is, well, rather disappointed?

It seems that only a few months ago, the digital universe was filled with a cacophony of virtual shrieks, as digital geeks (myself included) announced that they had received their prestigious Google Wave invites. Come January 2010 however, and it seems that the fanfare surrounding ‘the Wave’ has declined almost as quickly as a certain golfer’s career.

Let’s not beat around the bush – Google’s social media venture, so far, has failed.

Google has previously built its incredible success on creating unrivalled solutions to people’s needs: search, analytics, online advertising. What the company didn’t bargain for with Google Wave however, is the fact that people’s social media needs are already extremely well-met by the plethora of platforms currently out there.

Sure, Wave is a nice concept – a real-time communications platform that ties up emails, instant messaging, file sharing, collaborative working and networking. But many of these needs are already provided for through other channels such as Skype, LinkedIn and, contrary to early doubters, Twitter.

Another problem faced by Google Wave is that social media is by its inherent name, social. We may have enjoyed a feeling of superiority and prestige upon receipt of that longed-for Wave invite; however this soon dissipated upon realisation that we arrived in a vast empty chasm with no-one to talk to!

Don’t get me wrong – it’s still early days for Google Wave, and the company no doubt has a wealth of further digital talent it can throw at the platform, but will they have an audience left to market to? Social media is only just beginning, but if Google is to have its slice of the market, its time would be better spent focusing on needs that aren’t currently met yet.

Am I alone in this sentiment? Can anyone dismiss this argument and champion Google Wave?