Twitter Conversation Archetypes and What They Mean for Your Brand

By on Mar 12, 2015 in academic studies, online community, public relations, social business, social software |

Back in the mid-to-late 1990’s, I was one of what seemed like a small handful of social scientists investigating the structures of conversation and community in online spaces. Fast-forward nearly twenty years and I’m fairly certain social media is now one of the most popular areas of study amongst sociologists. Last year, Pew Research Center, in collaboration with the Social Media Research Foundation, used Network Analysis to develop six archetypes of conversations on twitter. It strikes me that insight from the research would be particularly useful to brand managers and their social media teams as they develop a channel strategy for their brand, so I’ve posted what I hope to be a helpful guide to understanding the connection between your brand and the archetypes of twitter...

does your brand have fickle friends?

By on Mar 8, 2015 in conferences/events, online community, social business, social software, stradigal |

Would your brand be sad if suddenly, without warning, a meteor came crashing down out of the sky, wiping out all of it’s fans and followers? It’s an interesting way, I think, to begin challenging the assumption that having fans and followers for your brand is a good measure of strategic social media programmes. (All My Friends Are Dead is a book by Avery Monsen and Jory John)

internet, social and mobile usage statistics for europe

By on Jul 23, 2014 in academic studies, social software |

I’m always on the hunt for fresh, well presented, statistics on the use of the internet, mobile and social in different countries and regions. There are loads of sources, some presenting conflicting views. Regardless, it’s handy to have a single go to point when you’re in a rush and just need some top-line insight. Kudos, then, to the people at WeAreSocial who have created a treasure trove of such insight: Social, Digital & Mobile in Europe from We Are Social Singapore There’s a blog post with highlights here:...

5 key differences between b2b and b2c in digital and social media

By on Apr 3, 2013 in edelman, social software |

Over the years, I’ve worked with a wide variety of brands, both B2C and B2B. Due to my personal and professional interests, I prefer the latter and have turned it into somewhat of a speciality. I’m often asked to, because B2B is something fewer people in the industry have had exposure to, explain the difference of approach between a B2C and B2B assignment. The reality is, there isn’t much difference between strategic B2B and B2C programmes, only the tactical targeting, tone of voice, and to some extent the sourcing of content, really varies. So here are a few observations on the differences between B2C and B2B digital and social media programmes: 1. Most B2B clients realise they need to be highly targeted; B2C clients should B2B in digital and social media, at least in my experience, tends to be more strategic and highly targeted. Rather than putting content out there in the hopes it will “go viral”, most B2B brands realise – whether they manufacture construction materials, aircraft engines, or chemicals – that there is little point in reaching and engaging with a broad audience when their real target is likely to be much more specialised. Put simply, with the B2B clients I’ve worked with, there’s a much greater awareness that there’s limited value in building a collection of fans and followers – instead, it’s about building deeper relationships with the chosen few. Of course, there are some, albeit relatively rare, examples of highly targeted, strategic, outcomes focused B2C digital and social media programmes, but not as many as you might expect there to be. 2. B2B products and services often require more specialised explanation Rather than focusing solely on a relatively easy to understand consumer product, in the B2B space it’s important to help business decision makers understand the applications for, and differentiators of, potentially complex products and services. Because such products and services tend not to be bought off the shelf – to some degree requiring partnerships for their delivery and implementation – it’s also important to highlight the experience of partnership, and the expertise of those who will deliver. Due to specialisation, the customers of B2B clients tend to be subject matter experts themselves, so it’s important they be presented with content from, and opportunities to engage with, their peers. 3. Both B2B and B2C require great content This is one area where B2B and B2C are almost identical – they both require compelling content. That content will vary widely from brand to brand, as well as the tone of voice used, but there are some basic truths: it should be factual, relevant, timely and interesting to members of the target audience. Sure, the words, the images, the videos and infographics will all have a different tone of voice and visual representation, but it still has to be good, really good, to capture the attention of audiences. 4. B2B content sourcing can initially be a bit of a challenge, but it needn’t be Nearly every B2B brand I’ve worked with has asked the question, “where do we find content?”. Part of the reason they find this more challenging than B2C brands is because they tend not to have a similar level of marketing and advertising resource – no pre-existing content engine – but with the right processes for surfacing great stories, this problem can be successfully overcome. That process needs to focus on point two above – giving specialised audiences insight into, and where appropriate direct access to, business critical people and processes. A process we’re working with several clients to implement involves the use of internal collaborative platforms to run staff story-telling competitions. Other clients have internal facing magazines or newsletters that are already mining stories from within, so encouraging the people involved in those activities to share their output via digital and social media offers yet another rich vein of content. Another approach, and again one we’ve worked with clients to plan and implement, is to actually create a purpose built digital and social media newsroom to source content. Whilst B2B organisations tend not to have “creative” and “marketing collateral” they can simply repurpose for digital and social media, with a bit of looking, they can find content. 5. Follow the audience Another area where B2B and B2C are almost identical is that, in either instance, it’s important to understand where the audience chooses to participate in digital and social media, and to identify the motivational triggers – both internal and external – for initiating that participation. Tactically, this means that if you’re, for example, a leading asset management firm with pension fund trustees rather than consumers as your clients, you’ll probably want to focus on using LinkedIn, and maybe blogs, twitter, Slideshare and YouTube for marketing your services, but when it comes to Graduate Recruitment, you might need to focus on Facebook. First, find your audience, then follow them there – don’t start with a particular platform in mind. The same is true when thinking about devices – whether you’re targeting commuters, frequently traveling business people, or teenagers with busy social lives, you’ll probably want to consider mobile and tablet access, whereas other audiences might be more likely to be desktop based.   Whilst I set off hoping to highlight five key differences between the strategic delivery of B2B and B2C digital and social media programmes, I’ve ended up highlighting more similarities. And...

mckinsey study identifies benefits of networked enterprise

By on Mar 27, 2013 in social software |

McKinsey Quarterly has published the results of their survey on the Evolution of the Networked Enterprise. Buried in the results are some interesting benefits, reported by participants:

plugging the strategic void

By on Mar 21, 2013 in conferences/events, edelman, social software |

Over the past week, I’ve participated in three marketing and social media conferences, as a speaker at two and moderating a panel at the other one. Digital and social media has, of course, evolved significantly since I first started out in the industry over 13 years ago. The creativity expressed in brand activations has, over that time, lept forward significantly, just as the technologies that support them have evolved into sophisticated platforms for managing content, building participatory frameworks, and tracking behaviours. But there’s still, I feel, too often a gaping void where strategy and measurement of progress towards meeting strategic objectives should be. I’m not the only person to observe this. Back in January, Robert Philips, former EMEA CEO of Edelman and an astute observer of the PR and Marketing industries, wrote: “I suffered some sobering moments recently, while judging a clutch of industry awards. There was so much ’stuff’ (aka output) but so few genuine ideas. Worse still, the essence of PR had become badly polluted: here was a blancmange of ad campaign amplifications; phony product launches; ’news’ stories around, well, news; and a clutch of celebrity embarrassments. There was a sad but noticeable lack of original thinking – no genesis the likes of a Marks & Spencer Plan A, an Eco-Imagination, a Nike+ or a Unilever Sustainable Living Plan, conceived by PR folk – and a weird disconnect persisted between the commercial need (awareness, loyalty, sales etc) and the idea itself. We seemed to have grown ourselves into a vacuum. The PR industry – our profession – needs to think about where have all the big ideas gone and what is now closing our minds to their generation? We must re-connect the big idea with commercial need. Philips describes, in that same post, from which I’ve selectively quoted from below, what he refers to as the Four Heels of Achilles: 1. Outcomes over output: “PR needs a unified and coherent measurement system. It must be Outcomes based. This should be urgently adopted as a global standard and endorsed by all the professional bodies. The measurement must be scientific, provable and defensible. It must be delivered to scale and speak to convergence. Advertising Value Equivalence and/ or Opportunities To See should be banished forever…” 2. The truth of data: “…(readily accessible) data must now become the foundation stone for fresh insight and for the evolution of analysis for the always-on conversation; it must speak to communities and to networks and should be used in real-time in order to drive relevance and resonance…” 3. The imperative of organisational design: “…No PR campaign will therefore be complete without strong and sensible guidance from experts in organizational design – as businesses turn themselves inside out and as both states and industries begin to look at themselves, if not from the bottom-up, then certainly through a more relevant and democratic lens…” 4. The triumph of ideas: “…We have mistakenly grown to see platforms not as ownable sources of creative energy and monetisable idea flow, but either as transient technology channels or as confluence points for otherwise random tactics. Innovation has become more about a rush to market with piecemeal thinking, than about building a sustainable programme for competitive brand or corporate advantage….” Perhaps 4-5 years ago, I expected to see brands shift from rolling out tactical “activations” towards using digital and social media to make progress towards a set of defined strategic objectives – not social media objectives, but the grown up stuff coming out of the board room – and measuring progress towards meeting those. But far too often, I’m still seeing social media “strategies” that go something like “launch lots of channels and, over a period of time, increase the number of fans and followers”. That’s not a strategy. In the presentation I gave at two conferences last week, I used an analogy to try to illustrate the point. “Eating something” is a tactic. Following this tactic means that, on the way home from a boozy evening in the pub, you stop in your local takeaway and get something greasy to soak up a bit of the alchohol and alleviate your immediate hunger. It’s seems like a great idea at the time, but the next day you start to wonder if it was a great idea afterall. If you follow this tactical approach – eating something – as if it’s a strategy, so pop into that same take away with regularity, the effects will, over time, probably be negative to your health and wellbeing. “Living a long and healthy life” is a strategic objective. To meet it, you need a strategy that includes things like eating a well balanced and healthy diet, getting regular exercise, etc. Your success, attributable mostly, but not entirely, on following your strategy, is measurable in terms of your sense of physical well being, the comments of others about how well you look (your “brand reputation”?), and the length that you live. Many brands are, when it comes to social media, still merely counting their collection of a gazillion fans and followers, notching up new retweets and likes, and tracking sentiment. Creating a whole new lingo for measurement and reporting does no one any favours – and is likely to, eventually, erode the confidence that the boardroom has in the ability of these activities to drive progress towards tangible and organisationally meaningful objectives. It’s about time...