Tag Archives: Blog

Why social media is inspiring me again!

The year is hurtling by and social media continues to tumble down the hill, getting bigger and bigger like a snowball as it goes.

Some of us went through a period of social media fatigue as the shiny new toys lost their lustre, for others it was the constant changes that put them off, together with being told that everything you knew was now rubbish.

But hey ho! We’ve rolled with it and happily enough I find myself once again in a state of excitement and optimism. Why? 

As my work takes me from one sector to another I’m constantly impressed by how adaptable social media can be to the needs of very different industries.

I am currently looking at the way social media communities can be used in the world of recruitment.

Some time ago I spoke to 6th form students about how to use social media to get ahead in their chosen career. I suggested that not only should they get onto LinkedIn and participate in groups there but that they should follow people on Twitter too – listening to the people you admire and tapping into their thought leadership can be very powerful.

Now I see that this has all been taken one step further with communities like Brave New Talent which have been set up to bring together large companies with potential recruits. Instead of advertising a job and getting a flood of applications which are then wasted when the appointment is made – this encourages HR departments to stay in touch with the people who have shown an interest in them, so that they can share job news and crucially, information about what they’re looking for in a future successful candidate.

Hopefully what you get, is long-term relationships between candidates, companies and their recruiters which builds on talent instead of wasting it.  After all, how many times have you heard people moaning that young people simply don’t know what companies expect of them anymore? This is an ideal chance to stop the moaning and do something.

Brave New Talent have got an impressive rosta of companies involved including L’Oreal, Starbucks, Tesco and IBM. I really like their blog   too.

So take heart from the brilliant new innovations that continue to flow from the social media spring.

What has impressed you lately?

Feed your customers’ inner geek – examples of extra value.

I don’t know how much time you spend thinking about the psychology behind the internet – social media, blogs, forums etc, but it’s an interesting area and one that is set to be much studied.

From theories about instant gratification, to the need to form connections in an increasingly isolating world – everyone from serious social scientists to Daily Mail columnists want to have their say.

I personally would like to make a case for the way all this ‘stuff’ appeals to our inner geek.

The explosion of accessible information created by the internet, together with the means to pass that around, has meant that whatever your obsession – be it  Lord of the Rings or Getting Married, there are hundreds of places online where you can go to share your nerdiness.

I confess to being a bit of a baby nerd when my children were about to be born. You suddenly discover an insatiable desire for information – up to and including – academic level while simultaneously becoming an expert in consumer journalism with special reference to baby strollers, cots and breast pumps.

I see something similar in my daughter – now thankfully past the stroller stage, as she hunts down information about Dr Who as though she were studying for a degree.

And it’s all there waiting for her. There are extra programmes to explain the background to each episode, forums to talk about it – DVD box sets with  unseen material and now an exhibition so she can get up close to a Sylorian (sp?!)

My point is that the endless capacity of the internet to provide us with information and its amazing capacity to join up those who want to share it has given our inner geeks free rein.

And this is where smart marketers, of the kind who like their customers and want to help them, can act as information providers and connectors, setting up Facebook pages and Twitter feeds full of extra information to share.Who doesn’t want to know more about the reasons why your favourite training shoe  feels so supportive and bouncy – cue lots of extra product information for the inner geek. Want to know more about that amazing seafood restaurant in Dorset? They have a blog and by the way their special Olympic lunches next summer are already getting booked up so get in there now.

So there really is no excuse not to feed your customers’ inner geeks – they want this stuff. It is up to you to find the time to give it to them.

Read This Before You Leap Into Video

You’re not doing video? What do you mean you’re not doing video – video is the next big thing didn’t you know – the New Year batch of social media predictions left us in no doubt about that.

In fact it’s already being done pretty comprehensively all over the web with 36 hours of video uploaded to YouTube every minute and 2 billion videos viewed every day.

And if you want to get found then apparently the SEO advantages are off the scale – they say You Tube is the second largest search engine in the English-speaking world.

So what’s not to like?

Well plenty actually. Let’s look at a couple of examples of why I think you should think carefully before you rush in to video.

Quality

Video is great for forming a bond with your audience by letting them see who you are. Good looking bloggers with quality equipment who talk fluently have the upper hand as do enthusiastic “good eggs” who don’t care if it’s a bit creaky – but I don’t know how many of us have the chutzpah to get away with that. Look at this video from good egg Gini Dietrich who writes Spin Sucks and is fab – but do I really want to take time out of my life to listen to a dog bark all over what she is trying to say?

The “Fun” Video

Create video that is fun and engaging they say. Funny videos go viral and can draw attention to your brand for a fraction of the cost of a TV advert but I think this has already been overplayed. You have to be terribly witty and original to make something which is genuinely funny. Look at this video from the medical billing company NuesoftTechnologies * “hilariously” ripping off Lady Gaga.

The goal of the video was not about generating sales leads but to get noticed by thought leaders in the industry. Well it’s good to have a clear idea of what you want to achieve but to me this “jolly spoof” is pure David Brent and if I were a thought leader I’d run a  mile. Staff larking around in a “You don’t have to mad to work here bit it helps” fashion, may get you attention but what about respect, influence and kudos?

OK let’s get positive now – on the plus side “How To” videos are great. If you need to know how to do something, like a one-armed press up or how to make an icing funnel, then You Tube or I-village are full of brilliant video tutorials (if you are lucky you get a buff guy by a pool in LA as well, although there is less demand for naked cake decoration.)

I don’t mind the slightly home-made aspects of these videos because they meet a direct need – how do I do that blinking one arm press up? But I deplore shoddy work which could be avoided. Is there a cult of the amateur going on which positively welcomes the wonky vid?

Laura McBeth, senior marketing manager for Washington Green Fine Art says it’s all about knowing your audience. She produces video with a hand-held ‘home-made’ feel when she wants to promote mid priced product for a youngish audience who will comment and share. This is perfect for raising awareness and buzz but may not always lead to a landslide in sales. When it comes to selling something luxurious and top end Laura reckons the higher income crowd want something slicker and more polished and she gives it to them.

Better broadband speeds coupled with cheaper video recording devices and ever more user-friendly editing software means video can be done really well even by solopreneurs and bloggers.

PR and Social Media expert Paul Sutton from Bottle PR sent me a link to this slick social media tutorial on the Social Media Examiner which proves the point.

In conclusion, the year ahead will increase the need for all of us to be more creative and innovative. Things aren’t going to slow down and we need to keep across it. But you need to make a conscious decision about why you want to do video, whether it is to improve your rankings, appeal to a new demographic or get your stuff talked about and shared.

There is nothing wrong with choosing what works for you and there is no compulsion to jump in without a plan.

If you do decide to do video;

  • Keep it short 30 secs – 2 mins max
  • Interview others but be kind – people hate the sight of themselves even more than they hate the sound of their own voice.
  • Don’t be afraid to take your time and do several takes – no one wants the Occado man in the background.
  • Enjoy yourself – shifty and embarrassed is not a good look.

My thought to take away? Try to produce the best work you can.

* This example is taken from the HUBSPOT e-book – 11 examples of online marketing success

Thanks to all who helped with this post including mediawomenuk who helped source additional material.

My Top 5 Social Media Moments of 2010

It’s the time of year for lists! I know you’ll be disappointed if you don’t get one.

So here are 5 moments that made social media worthwhile for me in 2010. Either that or they just had my jaw dropping. Enjoy!

  1. My mate Jane Garvey joins Twitter and secures 2,000 followers in a matter of days. I like this one for a number of reasons. Firstly because it’s great to have one of my wittiest friends out there brightening my day with her observations about the follies of everyday life. Her Woman’s Hour newsletter is consistently funny and clever – I wrote about it here in A blog by any other name But her Twitter debut also reveals how different it is out there if you are even remotely well-known. Not for her the lonely hours of radio silence when nobody responds to your so-called ‘crowd sourcing’ questionnaire. People are fascinated by a celebrity’s every move and this radio presenter gets Re-Tweets for asking a server to say please in a sandwich shop. But you also realise how circumspect you have to be if you are in the public eye or represent a brand e.g. the BBC. There is so much you want to say that you just can’t risk – so no tweeting on girls’ night out, no dissing the children’s teachers and no bad-mouthing celebrities – you never know when you might be asked to interview them.
  2. The discovery of David Meerman Scott. David blogs at Web Ink Now and is a renowned social media expert in the States. I have followed such ‘gurus’ ever since I took up social media but David was something else again, namely someone who said everything I wanted to say but hadn’t got around to thinking out for myself! Reading his book Real Time Marketing and PR was a joy for me because I agreed with everything he said (which is rare.) The emphasis on real-time and having a 24 hour newsroom mindset is something I have returned to again and again and I hope he will continue to inspire me in 2011 – plus he is a really nice guy and made personal contact when he saw that I had written about his work,so thanks David!Please do read his book or indeed any of the others he’s penned.
  3. The spat at Men with Pens left me open-mouthed. We’ve all heard about flaming and trolls and other nasties associated with blogging but I had never come across it before until I  stumbled upon this almighty row at one of my favourite blogs. It blew up after James Chartrand, the chatelaine of M with P’s, called out an anonymous writer for using a personal tragic tale to pull on the heart-strings in a sales letter. I really don’t want to go into the detail but it blew up out of all proportion and the row spread across the internet like flames through stubble. The whole thing left me feeling rather sad and disillusioned – like a kid watching their favourite grown-ups pissed and brawling. (ooh—-I grew up that day!!!!)  The big lesson here is that it is almost impossible to have a civilised discussion where tone of voice is so hard to detect and if you can’t see the pain in their eyes don’t say the mean things. 
  4. I really enjoyed getting involved in a lively discussion about Bloggers and PR. In my post Should PR Leave Bloggers alone? I came close to suggesting that PR had jumped on the wrong bandwagon. I was suspicious about the motives of some PRs and felt that bloggers were being treated as dupes. However I soon came to realise that a lot of bloggers – mummy bloggers in particular – are sharp, switched on media women with journalism or PR backgrounds and they really can take care of themselves!    
  5. This was the year a friend of mine over at Making People Happy With Cake penned THE funniest story – entitled Kebab Anyone? When I had finished laughing I shared the link along with – I am guessing – several of her other readers. As a result, within days the story had been on Radio 4 twice and was being repeated at dinner parties as far away as France. It just goes to show that good material WILL be shared even if the person doing the re-telling sometimes takes the liberty of saying it happend to them. Just ask another friend of mine who spotted some great time-lapse video of the New York blizzards on Twitter yesterday which ended up on the main TV news. Who is going to get the credit for that?

So there you are – my top 5 Social media moments of the past year – what were yours?

This Much I Know

What is the sum of my knowledge from this past year – what do I know now that I didn’t before?

Truly? Get out of here – I can’t tell you that! OK I’ll tell you the bits that are relevant to the part of my life spent trying to earn a living.

  • Make Real-time Your Goal. Opportunities are there but they move pretty quickly and it’s no use responding to an appeal someone put out on Twitter last week. In travel PR requests sometimes go out for information on certain types of holiday and even when there is a generous deadline giving you time to get your information together, the prized editorial always goes to the first relevant replies. The same goes for writing jobs where it’s a first come first served world. Got some exclusive information? Don’t sit on it – get it out there now – even when you don’t have a competitor racing you for it, it just looks so much better when you act like a news operation. Real Time is still relevant! 
  • Words Still Matter Video is getting all the glory at the moment and where would we be without images? But to my mind (and I would say this) words  still can’t be topped. We can move people with words, conveying rich, complex ideas. Words work so hard for us, don’t ever give up on using them.
  • Twitter Doesn’t Work Unless You Talk to People  I’ve said it before but really, Twitter is a lonely place unless you communicate. Don’t be the bozo at the party – people want to talk. 
  • Your Blog Will Still Carry On Without You for a limited period if you have to take a break. I had some sad family news recently and had to let the blog live on without my help for a bit, which it did admirably. Past posts came to the rescue and kept the pipes warm until I could get back to it. Did you miss me? 

Why You’d Be a Fool Not to Play The Name Game.

Getting attention has never been harder.

You can dress up in a clown suit, walk a tight rope or scream your message through a megaphone but there are still 3 million and seventy other people trying to get the attention of the exact same audience that you are (and they are probably handing out free sausages).

Well I’d like to tell you one simple way to get ahead in the fight for attention.

Find out who you need to talk to and use their name. It’s very simple, but it’s  surprising how many people overlook it.

Have you ever received an e-mail which begins “Hi there?” I have and I’ve sent them as well and they do us no favours. It makes it look as though you can’t be bothered or that you just want to do a mass mail shot and then get back to something more interesting. 

Taking the trouble to find out someone’s name says a lot about how much you value the interaction you are about to engage in (or attempt to engage in).

There’s an old superstition that says, to know someone’s name is to have power over them. The fairy tale character Rumpelstiltskin knew this and so do politicians who insist on using their interviewers first names over and over again.

But we’re not talking about trying to steal somebody’s soul,rather to recognise their basic humanity. Kidnappers often try to make their victims seem less than human by giving them a number. To fight against this, as Ingrid Betancourt did when she was held hostage in Columbia, is to force them to face up to what they are really doing, which is holding human beings prisoner.

Using someone’s given name shows courtesy and suggests that you would like to interact with them. The faceless “hi there” person can be sold tosh and pitched rubbish but if we are on first name terms then we can start to build up some trust.

 Mind you I am highly sensitive to having my name inserted into mass mailing. I don’t like that at all, but at least they have taken the name part of the lesson on board. The other day, a blogger I subscribe to, somehow inserted my name into  the main part of his post, so that it felt like he was talking to me directly. I don’t know how he did it but I jumped out of my skin. Some sort of clever software I’ll be bound!

Dale Carnegie said in “How to Win Friends and Influence People” that;

 a person’s name is to that person the sweetest and most important sound in any language.

So I guess we are just hugely flattered when someone takes the trouble to address us by name. In my experience it helps you get the e-mail read which has got to be a great start.

The Social Media Shield

When something goes wrong, big companies are often forced onto the mainstream media in order to explain themselves. With any luck they express their profound regret, explain the problem and then detail exactly what they are going to do about it.

But why wait until trouble hits? Surely it’s better to get your protection in place first? 

This is where organisations which use social media have a huge advantage. They have communications channels open, which means they can talk directly to their customers the minute a problem arises; what’s more they have a bank of goodwill to draw on.

In effect they have a Social Media Shield  which can be extremely effective in fending off the worst fall-out from a pr disaster.

The concept is outlined beautifully in this post from Social Media Today which ties together Social Media and another buzz concept Corporate Social Responsibility. You no longer have to wait for the media to come to you to find out how you’ve made the world a better place, you just do it yourself via your blog, Facebook and Twitter.

Telling people openly and honestly what you are doing builds a community of supporters who will be your advocates in times of trouble.

So if you are thinking about training your employees on how to trouble shoot, face the media and deal with disasters, (always a very good idea,) do also think about training them to use Social Media as well.