Sunday, December 6, 2009

Nov 09 - Stan's rant

About eighteen months ago I wrote a column about young people using blogging and other forms of social media to break into advertising and marketing. This piece came about as a result of a couple of emails I had exchanged with Julian Cole.

At the time, I described Julian as an aspiring marketer and Monash Uni student. He now works at an agency in Sydney, still finds time to write a popular blog and is also the driving force behind the Australia’s Top Marketing Blogs list.

After thinking back on my email exchanges with Julian, I starting looking into what had become of some of the other young hopefuls I’d mentioned in that column from last year.

Back then Sam Ismail had unsuccessfully applied for an internship at Saatchi & Saatchi in London, and chronicled his struggles via social media. He’s now working as a strategist at one of London’s leading digitally focussed agencies.

Hong Kong born Gwen Yip was the other notable wannabe to appear in my column. She too has done well since I wrote about her, having had not one but two illustrated books published. She has also recently been awarded the 2009 Hong Kong DesignSmart Young Design Talent Award.

Sadly, I suspect that Julian, Sam and Gwen may go on to prove exceptions rather than the rule.

For every talented young person out there using social media to get noticed and get ahead, there are many who may not be quite as talented as they think they are.

It’s a harsh comment to make, I know. But as a veteran of both the ad industry and the world of blogging I believe my observation is far from unjust.

Advertising and marketing are difficult fields to break into. So in theory those who write blogs about it should be well placed to get noticed by prospective employers.

The problem is, as I see it, many young people think that taking pot shots at industry institutions via a blog is a viable route into the business. It’s not. Well not in my opinion anyway.

Anyone can start a blog. It requires no skill or money to do so. Yet some people think this is their first step to fame and fortune or at the very least a well paying job in marketing.

Starting a blog was not the reason Julian, Sam and Gwen got to where they are. They got there because they’re talented and smart. They used blogs as a way to help them get noticed.

Many of the wannabes writing blogs at the moment seem to think that having a blog makes them important. It doesn’t. Unless of course the blog is regularly read by important people in the industry. Which it generally isn’t.

How do I know this?

Because most senior marketers are not regular blog readers. Most senior ad agency execs don’t read a lot of blogs either. It’s a cliché I know, but they’ve generally got more important things to do.

If these people were regular readers of industry blogs, and on the lookout for someone to hire for a junior position, I suspect the following attributes would not be on their shopping list:

Someone who can’t spell despite having a spell checker built into their computer.

Someone whose grammar is so bad that many of their sentences do make sense.

Someone who claims to be an expert in an area in which they have absolutely no practical experience.

Someone who vehemently criticises the industry and the people who work in it.

Someone who rants about how employers need to bow to them rather than the other way around.

Well that’s my opinion anyway. And like the very people I have just criticised, I am prepared to use it. Perhaps I’m wrong. I’d like to hope I am. But sadly I very much doubt it.

Tuesday, November 3, 2009

Oct 09 - Mobile gets moving

Seems like only yesterday I was queuing up bleary eyed at six in the morning, out the front of my local Optus store, to get my hands on one of the very first iPhones.

I wrote about my experiences with the phone for this column about a year or so ago. Thinking back, my excitement for the device was almost childlike in its exuberance.

So how do I feel about it now?

To be brutally frank – I couldn’t live without it. Actually I probably could, but I’d really rather not!

Mobile marketing has been threatening to be the next big thing for as long as I can remember. It’s still threatening, but thanks to the clever folks from Apple, it is finally starting to become a reality.

Yes, yes, yes I know Blackberries are great too. And I know phones have been able to do stuff other than make calls for ages, but it was the iPhone that made the telecommunications providers start thinking seriously about the inclusion of a data allowance in mobile phone plans.

Which makes me think that it is the telcos themselves that have held back the mobile marketing industry, not the mobile phone manufacturers.

I had a so called smartphone before I bought the iPhone, but my mobile plan had no real data allowance. So I avoided using its email and internet browsing capabilities. Unless of course I could find a way to claim them back through my work expenses.

When I switched to the iPhone, I stayed on the same monthly call plan, but it also included a huge data allowance. Which meant I could exploit every 3G capability of the phone, without constantly worrying about how much my mobile bill was going to be at the end of the month.

I don’t know if other smartphones now have big data allowances in their plans, but they surely will soon. Because without them mobile marketing just can’t happen.

Don’t believe me? Then you should buy yourself a ticket to Japan.

Failing that, go visit the blog of Johanna, of NAKED New York, who has recently written a couple of great posts about mobile phones in Japan.

Like me, she was overwhelmed the advanced features of the average Japanese mobile. Unlike me, Johanna found out why many of the features the Japanese take for granted have been slow to take of in other markets.

“Their phones are too advanced for anyone else’s infrastructures and capabilities. I knew they were years ahead of the rest of the world, but didn’t realise just how much.”

She backed up this statement with this:

“Mobile phones set the pace in almost every industry innovation: email capabilities in 1999, camera phones in 2000, third-generation networks in 2001, full music downloads in 2002, electronic payments in 2004 and digital TV in 2005.”

Yes, you read that correctly. Japanese mobile phones had email capability ten years ago!

According to Johanna, someone has come up with a name for the differences between the Japanese mobile market and the rest of the world – Galápagos Syndrome.

“Japan’s mobile phones are like the endemic species that Darwin encountered on the Galápagos Islands. Fantastically evolved and divergent from their mainland cousins.”

This is a fascinating theory I think. For us the mobile has always been little more than a portable talking device. It’s only recently that its capabilities have begun to expand.

Whereas in Japan, the designers and engineers focused more on the device itself, rather than the desire to simply talk into to it. So they began incorporating features they considered would be helpful to consumers, like the ability to read a barcode, pay for transactions, even a built in electronic car key!

“This,” argues Johanna, “puts the focus on the entire experience within the handset itself, rather than how the hardware can be used as a tool to receive information from other places.”

Which, having used one for the best part of 18 months now, sounds a lot like the way the iPhone must have been designed. And is why, I believe, it is the catalyst for much anticipated dawning of the mobile marketing industry.



Johanna’s Blog

Saturday, October 3, 2009

Sept 09 - Let's talk

The legendary Bill Bernbach once said that word of mouth was the best form of advertising you could get. And he said it long before the internet was invented.

Bernbach’s comment remains as valid today as it was all those years ago. The main difference being that we very rarely hear the term word of mouth anymore. It’s all about ‘conversation’ these days.

Nobody knows this better than I do.

Hardly a day goes by where the topic of brand conversations or customer conversations or any one of a dozen other types of conversation is discussed.

Never before have so many people had so much to say about conversations.

One such person is Jonathan Salem Baskin, who wrote a wonderful post about the current fashionability of conversation on his blog Dim Bulb.

“Conversation is to selling what cooking is to eating,” wrote Blaskin. “Process, not ingredients, nor consumption. You wouldn't know it from the hype and confusion that surrounds the social media space, though.”

He continued, “Conversation is (seen as) an absolute good, an ideal that, once achieved, spins off numerous lesser benefits. It's a synonym for selling.”

Talk to any hard arsed marketer and I’m sure that they’d side with Blaskin. Getting people talking about your brand is great, but only if it lifts the bottom line.

One marketing campaign that derived almost all of its success from conversation is the now legendary Best job in the world campaign for Tourism Queensland.

Try typing Best job in the world into Google and see how many results it returns. I just did it and I got 488 million! It ranked highly in a Twitter search too.

Yet this huge campaign began with that most humble of advertising formats – the classified ad. The other key component was PR. Whilst the internet and social media facilitated the spreading of conversation.

The campaign won three Grand Prix at Cannes earlier this year, including one for for best website and interactive. Given the 488 million Google results I’d say it was a worthy winner of this award. Not everyone agreed.

Writing on Bannerblog, Tobie Cameron had this to say; “I love the campaign, it's by all accounts been hugely successful, it's just that for some reason a digital Grand Prix that could potentially have focused on innovation and creativity within the digital space is awarded to nothing more than a glorified video competition entry form.”


I have to say I agree with Tobie to be honest. He’s a digital creative of note, so he knows what he’s talking about. But having said that, I also strongly disagree with him.

Without the internet this campaign would never have reached as many people as it did. Nor would it have had as many people talking. And for that it deserves to be recognised.

It may not make the best use of digital technology, but it certainly makes great use of the digital medium in sparking and spreading conversation.

Which brings me to a very insightful comment left by David Bagley on the Dim Bulb blog; “Marketers,” wrote Bagley, “have become so focused on ‘having a conversation’ they have forgotten that what matters is to have an interesting conversation.”

In my column last month I argued that not all brands are suited to customer conversations or social media. After seeing that comment from David Bagley I am more convinced than ever that this is the case.

Some brands are utilitarian. Some brands are unexciting. And some brands are much loved. However we perceive them, brands are important. I just don’t think that each and every one of them is worthy of conversation. Unless they’re offering an amazing job on a tropical island of course!

Dim Bulb

Saturday, August 1, 2009

August 09 - Brands & Relationships

When Kevin Roberts coined the term Lovemarks a couple of years ago, I believed he’d stumbled onto something interesting. I still do. I just don’t think the idea can apply to each and every brand in the world.

Spend time in the company of so called social media experts however, and they’ll tell you that all brands need to have a close relationship with consumers in order to survive.

I’m just not buying it.

For me there are essentially three brand categories: There’s the brand I buy regularly but don’t particularly care about. I’d put toilet paper and petrol in this category. I do not have an emotional connection with these brands.

The second category is brands that I never waver from. I’d put my favourite brand of underwear in this category. I have no emotional bond with this brand, I buy it because no other underwear fits as comfortably. As the saying goes, when you’re onto a winner, stick with it.

My third category of brands is those that I am an advocate for. My Lovemarks. In this category I’d include Apple, Paul Smith, Adidas and Vespa. I’ve had a relationship with these brands for a long time. I know it may sound silly, but these brands help define me. And I definitely have an emotional connection with them.

What I look at my repertoire of brands, only the third category are brands that I actually buy as brands. The toilet paper, underwear etc are brand-name products, but my loyalty is, I think, to the product itself, not the brand.

Much as I love my brand of underwear, I am not interested in any kind of relationship with it as a brand. I definitely can’t see myself joining a Facebook group or talking about them on Twitter.

Yet many social media people see this as essential if brands are to survive in the age of conversation.

Luckily there are still some sensible people out there in marketing and advertising land. People who are definitely not falling for the pitch of the digital snake oil salesmen. One such person is the man behind the Grumpy Brit blog.

“If I think about brands with which I have some sort of relationship,” says Grumpy Brit, “it’s akin to the relationship I have with a good waiter. He doesn’t drone on about his kids or tipping trends, he doesn’t ask me what I think of his new apron or recite his resume. He’s there when I need him and melts into the background when I don’t.”

Spend any time in social media circles, as I often do, and you’ll come across plenty of people who claim to be experts in managing brands online. Their general spiel will always centre on how brands need to have some kind of relationship with consumers to survive and prosper.

Grumpy Brit says, “Suggesting that with a bit of social media savvy brands can create relationships with their customers is hyperbolic twaddle.”

Now don’t get me wrong. I do believe brand relationships are both possible and important. Brands couldn’t exist with them. But, in the words of Grumpy Brit, “The best thing we as communications people can do is help brands not to destroy their customer relationships with extraneous babble and generally over staying their welcome.”

This is particularly true in social media.

Yes I love Apple and Adidas. I love to engage with them and I am interested in hearing about their products and services. But to me these are Lovemarks not brands.

I couldn’t care less about my toilet paper or underwear brands. In fact when my underwear brand started laying off workers and shifting its manufacturing to China I decided to take a stand and stop buying it.

At least until I needed new underwear. Because even though I was unhappy with the brand, and its treatment of its workforce, they make undies that fit me like no other brand.

Which makes me think that not all brands are right for social media.

And social media isn’t right for all brands. And that many of the people passing themselves off as experts in social media are not experts in brands at all. Oh, and Kevin Roberts was definitely onto something when he coined the term Lovemarks.


Grumpy Brit


Saturday, July 4, 2009

July 09 - Personal PR

In my column last month, I took a look at how important social media tools and sites had become in helping people network, connect and meet with potential employers. With my underlying message being that anyone looking to become a valued contributor to an agency or marketing department needs to be familiar with the use of social media.

No sooner had I emailed my column off to the editor of this esteemed publication, than I came across a fantastic blog post along very similar lines. It was written by one of my favourite thinkers from the blogosphere, Neil Perkin, from the European magazine publisher IPC Media.

“I've written before’” said Perkin, “about the value I see in the people within organisations who blog, tweet, connect and share ideas online. I don't say that everyone should blog, just that there is value there that is easy to miss.”

Late last year the Sapient marketing services group published their Top 10 Wish List for Agencies of the Future. The Wish list was the end result of a survey to gain insight into what marketers want from their advertising and marketing agencies in the next 12 months.

And what was number one in the Wish List? Surprise, surprise - greater knowledge of the digital space.

More than a third of the marketers surveyed revealed that they are not confident that their current agency is well-positioned to take their brand through the unchartered waters of online digital marketing and interactive advertising.

I wasn’t completely surprised by the findings of the Wish List survey to be honest. Although digital expertise is becoming more commonplace these days. In fact I know it is. I guess agencies just need to do a better job in promoting their skills to clients.

One of the best ways to do this is to tap into an unseen or overlooked skill base. The people Neil Perkin wrote about. The people within an agency who blog, tweet and share ideas online.

Says Perkin, “If you work in a social media or digital agency you may well think that it is commonplace for a large proportion of company employees to be blogging or tweeting.

But in most organisations it's simply not. Which means that the people that are, are potentially adding unique value to that organisation.”

I post something to my BrandDNA blog everyday. I also post around twenty 140 character tweets on Twitter each day. Believe it or not this behaviour is actually encouraged at the agency where I work, Wunderman.

They condone me logging on and playing in social media because they can see the value in what I do. It connects me to like minded people. People who, like me, are happy to share ideas and thinking. People like Neil Perkin.

“When I talk about blogging,” says Perkin, “the number one question I get asked by non-bloggers is where do you find the time?” This, he believes, is the wrong question about the wrong thing.

“I believe it is important for me to find the time,” he writes. “And more than that, being part of a community means that the good stuff now often comes to me. I'm not saying everyone should blog - it's not right for everyone - but I am saying that bloggers get social media because they are already active participants.”

So if you have people who blog or tweet in your marketing department or at your agency why not tap into them? Rather than telling them to get off the internet and get back to work, get them to put together a presentation.

A presentation on what, you’re probably thinking. How about the future of online and social media?

Sounds like a big topic, I know, but if there’s anyone who can put together a good presentation on that subject, it’s surely someone who spends time blogging, tweeting and sharing ideas online.


Neil Perkin

Top 10 Wish List

Sunday, June 7, 2009

June 09 - Get connected

Having somehow managed to survive Paul Keating’s “recession we had to have” back at the start of the 90’s, I now find myself experiencing feelings of déjà vu.

Advertising agencies are laying off staff. Marketers are trimming budgets. And everyone seems to know someone who is either going freelance or consulting.

What makes this recession so different from the last, is that I am experiencing it in a completely different way.

Back in the 90’s all the bad news stories came to me via rumour or hallway whispers. “Did you here about such and such?” “Apparently 10 people got let go from!” You know the sort of thing.

Today I get the awful stories of so called headcount reductions, staff culls and enforced exits within minutes of them happening via Twitter, Facebook and of course good old email.

The social media channels have completely transformed the way we communicate, turning six degrees of separation into three at most.

So it stands to reason that if news of job and account losses is being spread through the industry via social media, then so too is news of business wins and employment opportunities.

Which is why, if you work in advertising, marketing or any of the communications fields, you should be taking social media very seriously.

This last week I’ve had two people looking to hire someone ask me via Twitter about potential candidates. I was also contacted through my Facebook by someone looking for a designer to help out on a project.

That’s three jobs up for grabs, none of which were advertised, in the space of a week. Yet we’re currently in a period where opportunities are pretty thin on the ground.

Now I’m not saying that things are not as bleak as the media is making them out to be, because they most certainly are. I just think that being digitally connected to peers and associates in industry is essential in the current economic climate.

So whether you feel secure in your job, you’re looking to move, or you’ve found yourself a victim of the recession, you need to get your social media connections up and running.

First up is LinkedIn.

For those of you not familiar with it, LinkedIn is a social media site that is anything but social. You won’t see people posting drunken party pics or fun snapshots of their kids on here.

LinkedIn is professional networking done digitally. Setting up an account is simple and free. It could well be the best money you never spend!

Once you have an account, go through your rolodex and business card collection and enter some names in the LinkedIn search. Before you know it you’ll be “linked in” to a network of useful industry contacts.

Where it gets really interesting, and useful, is that you can also see who your connections are connected to. Which means that people can introduce you, and vice versa, to other people and opportunities.

It’s networking without the awkward conversation and “Hi my name is” stickers.

Facebook is also great for digital networking, although it should be used with care. I’m not going to bang on about embarrassing photos, but suffice to say it may not be wise to share your binge drinking weekend with people who are looking for stable employees.

As I mentioned earlier, I have heard about several opportunities through Twitter. So too could you. In fact if you were on Twitter, and connected to me, I could have told you about them.

Last but not least, why not think about a blog?

I don’t mean a “took the dog for a walk” online diary, I mean a simple site where you share your thoughts and opinions on industry topics.

A blog is not for everyone, but done well it can help boost your profile in industry. They are great as an online CV. You can post details of yourself, samples of your work. And they give you a web presence of your own.

So as the recession rolls on, rather than just turning up each day and staying out of the way of the HR Director, why not get working on your social media profile and connections. You never know when they’re going to come in handy.






Saturday, May 2, 2009

May 09 - Play nicely

The special digital issue of this magazine a few months back would have introduced several marketers to the power of blogs and other forms social media.

In fact during the week the magazine came out I received several new followers on my Twitter feed. Many of them contacted me directly to say that my column covering Twitter had tempted them to dip a toe in the water. Which was nice!

Based on the interactions online that I have since had with these people, I’d say that they’re slowly starting to realise just how useful (and fun) Twitter can be.

Hopefully they will continue to feel that way, because I have noticed a change in the social media vibe of late and I have to say I don’t like it.

If anything, you could say that there is a definite anti-social element to social media. Which shouldn’t really come as a surprise to be honest, as there will always be some element of dissent in any gathering of people.

What I’m talking about though, is more like grandstanding than dissent. A small group of perfectly ordinary people who take on the personality traits of the schoolyard bully when they go online.

At the heart of this anti-social behaviour lies, I think, nothing more than ego. These are ordinary people who started a blog, built up an audience, then proclaimed themselves as oracles and experts.

Arbiters of what is, and isn’t, the correct way to do things (especially marketing) in the apparently mysterious world of social media.

Adland watchers and regular visitors to the blogospere will be aware, I’m sure, of the ridiculous anger and spiteful name calling that surrounded the Witchery girl-in-the-jacket video developed by the agency Naked earlier this year.

Once the dust had settled on the Witchery stunt, Adam Ferrier from Naked took the anti-socialites to task in a post on his blog;

“Some of the online social networkers I've met online appear to be extremely opinionated, hostile, judgmental, and very black and white.

If they displayed such characteristics in the offline world they would find it very difficult to form long term stable relationships with others.”

Of course regular social media users would argue that Ferrier would say that, but he is registered with the NSW Psychologists Board, and is a member of the Australian Psychological Society, so I’d like to hope he has some idea of what he’s talking about.

Recently he took part in a well attended event in Melbourne, talking with an industry journalist. I had booked tickets to this event and was very much looking forward to it. Yet I didn’t attend.


Because in the days preceding the event I saw a series of tweets talking up how Ferrier and his agency had abused social media. How they had no understanding of it.

It sounds silly, I know, but I really couldn’t be bothered watching people childishly heckle him. Especially for reasons that to me seemed kind of trivial.

Given the amount of media coverage Naked generate for themselves and their clients, this kind of antagonistic feeling may well be par for the course for Ferrier.

What really annoyed me though, was that the bigoted and blinkered opinions being voiced were coming from people with a lot more opinion than experience.

When I say experience, what I mean is experience in some form of marketing or advertising or any other brand related communication.

Now don’t get me wrong, I’m not saying these people’s opinions aren’t valid. I’m merely pointing out that self-proclaimed experts aren’t always right. Especially when their opinions are based primarily on their own lives and circumstances.

Here’s what the much maligned but actually damn smart Adam Ferrier recommends these people spreading negative vibes online do. It’s pretty good advice I think.

“Have a look at all the posts and comments you've written - what do they say about you? If you are active online - then treat each other well. Practice pro-social behavior. Be good to each other and supportive, not grumpy, judgmental, and mean spirited.


Adam Ferrier

Wednesday, April 1, 2009

April 09 - Search gets social

Spend any time with people that work primarily in the digital media and you’ll find that their focus is extraordinarily narrow.

If it ain’t digital it ain’t worth spending time with, seems to be their modus operandi.

Now don’t get me wrong, I’m a big fan of doing it digital, but it’s not the solution to everything that the digerati would have us believe it to be.

Take the Yellow Pages for example. I’ve tried the online version, several times in fact, but I still prefer the book.

I’m happy leafing through the pages, scanning the ads, till I see a couple that meet my needs. As opposed to typing in a search term and having “recommendations” served up to me.

The digital divas can present as much evidence as they want about the amazing algorithms behind search recommendations, but if I wanted a recommendation I’d ask someone I trust. Not a computer.

A great case in point was when I needed to get a service done on my air conditioners during the heatwave that hit Melbourne a few months back.

Surprisingly we didn’t have a copy of the Yellow Pages book at work. So I had to resort to the online version. Which soon had me hotter under the collar than the 43-degree day I was suffering through.

Sensing my frustration, one of my colleagues asked if he could help.

I told him about my air conditioner problem and he promptly recommended a tradesman who had installed an air-con unit for him a couple of months earlier.

He told me the name. I typed it into to Google. A few minutes later I had a service call booked. Easy!

In essence, I had used what I’d call an analogue form of social media to solve my problem.

After all, social media is all about interaction and sharing with other people. Which is what I had just done. It’s just that I didn’t use a computer to do it. Although I did when it came to finding the phone number, obviously.

Which got me thinking about a way to combine social media style personal recommendations with a powerful search engine.

So I did a bit of a search using Twitter. Yes Twitter. It’s a great way to see what people are talking about.

And it seems I wasn’t the only person who had been thinking about a social media search engine combo. Apparently all the big guns in search are looking into it.

For something like this to succeed however, brands need to be comfortable with the fact that not everyone has something positive to say about them.

An interesting example of what I imagine will ultimately come to be termed social search, is which originated here in Australia.

This new search engine allows you to comment on the links that are returned in a search. I gave it a plug on my blog a little while back, which resulted in some interesting comments:

“I'm curious to see if it’s gonna catch on,” wrote Morgan Coudray. I suspect he’s not the only one.

Nathan Bush also commented. He thought, “Google's system of a quick 'yay' or 'nay' to be more enticing.” However he also acknowledged that social search was, “Definitely a new trend.”

And that well known blog commenter, Anonymous, had this to say; “Makes me think we may see a Facebook search tool. Something that lets you search the web and share your results etc with friends.”

Now there’s a great idea, if ever I saw one. In fact I wouldn’t be surprised if a bunch of kids are sitting in their bedrooms working on it right now.

Which brings me back to my opening comment about digital not always being the answer.

A search engine that makes recommendations based on algorithms will never be able to make suggestions to you as good as those that your friends make.

But a search engine that enables human beings to comment or make recommendations is sure to be a success. At least until the next big thing comes along!

Sunday, March 1, 2009

March 09 - Tweet Tweet!

Last November I was in Sydney for the ADMA Awards. I flew up the night before the event, so that I could attend the regular Friday morning gathering of social media types at a funky little breakfast spot in Surry Hills.

One of the key topics of conversation that morning was Twitter, or more precisely why I wasn’t on it. Anyone who has ever visited my Brand DNA blog will know that it carried a badge proudly trumpeting my resistance to Twitter.

To be honest, I really couldn’t see the point of it. Who on earth would be interested in bite sized blips of mundane information about what people are up to?

How wrong could one man be?

When I got back to Melbourne I decided to take down my anti-Twitter badge and dip a toe into the waters of so called micro-blogging. Call it peer pressure. Call it professional interest. Call it curiosity. I’d call it a combination of the three!

I announced my adoption of Twitter on my blog, as well as in my Facebook status. In true social media fashion, by the end of the day my inbox was overflowing with emails notifying me about people who had started to follow my updates on Twitter.

When I got in to the office the next morning, there were even more emails. These were to alert me to new followers from the UK and USA. I’d never given time zones a second thought until that moment.

So what exactly is Twitter, I can hear you thinking. And why oh why would you want to get involved in it? To be honest, there is no definitive answer to the second question. There are quite literally hundreds of reasons to get in to Twitter.

For the answer to the first question, let’s see what Michael Stelzner, writing at Copyblogger, had to say:

“Each day 5 to 10 thousand new people join Twitter. Current estimates of total users top out around 5 million. That’s a lot of opportunity. Twitter allows you to post updates (called Tweets) as often as you want (limited to 140 characters).

When you follow other people on Twitter, you see their tweets. When they follow you, they see your tweets. It’s a constant stream of communication. The good news is you can turn it on or off as often as you like.”

Like many of the other social media tools, Twitter is proving to be invaluable for business. The great thing is, it’s still yet to attain the mainstream status that the likes of Facebook have. So you have the chance to get involved before it really takes off.”

And why would you want to do that?

According to London based digital thinker Eaon Pritchard, “Twitter is pulling away as the leading opt-in, permission based communication and listening platform.

Anytime anything is being said about your company, products, or services you can monitor it and, most importantly, respond instantly if appropriate.

In fact you can also use various freely available Twitter tools to track what’s being said about anything you fancy. Your competitors for instance.”

If the opportunities Pritchard talks about aren’t enough to get you Twittering, let’s see who else is doing it. Well me, obviously, but both Kevin Rudd and Malcolm Turnbull are onboard!

Barack Obama was a big user of Twitter during his election campaign last year. In fact a look at his use of social media in 2008 is required reading for anyone who calls themselves a marketer I think.

As you would expect, the leading minds in marketing and digital media are all Twitts. People like Guy Kawasaki, Clay Shirky and Robert Scoble are constantly posting nuggets of useful information.

Which means you can avail yourself of their much sought after opinion and thinking for absolutely nothing. Which has to be a bargain if you ask me.

And if you did ask me, I’d also tell you that I am now a Twitter convert. I have taken to it hook, line and sinker. Yet it was the way that the brand (because it is a brand, after all) positioned itself, that put me off.

Like me, you need to look past Twitter’s “What are doing?” tagline and see it for what it is. An easily accessible way to source and share valuable knowledge, 140 characters at a time.



Eaon Pritchard

Stan on Twitter

Sunday, February 1, 2009

Feb 09 - Get involved

My old friend Gerry McCusker is one of the most switched on PR guys I know. His PR Disasters blog is a must read for anyone interested in just how badly PR can be handled. He recently shared this passionate rant on his blog:

“I can’t keep it in any longer! Speaking at a conference, I was asked a question from the floor that near left me speechless.”

So what was it that got Gerry so riled?

“In a room full of PR professionals, someone basically challenged the validity of my assertion that Social Media is becoming increasingly influential in issues and crisis management campaigns.

The person asked is a blog different from a website and why would anyone in business or an organisation bother with one?”

Oh to have been a fly on the wall then that question was asked.

As Gerry himself said, “How can modern communications practitioners not know the whats, whys and hows of the blogosphere?”

Sadly I don’t think Gerry is alone in his frustrations. Many of the marketing people I come into contact with at events and conferences seem to operate like it’s still the nineties.

I wonder if it’s because they feel the need to control everything? Brand guidelines and the use of trademark and copyright marks are omnipresent in today’s marketing world.

Yet what use are these brand protection devices when people everywhere are free to not only do what they want with your brand, but also publish and share their opinion for all the world to see?

I can’t remember how many ‘brand onions’ and other brand communication devices I’ve been witness to during the course of my career. The thing is with an ‘onion’ the brand is always at the centre. I just don’t think consumers think this way.

Author of The Brand Gap, Marty Neumeier, defines a brand as a person’s gut reaction about a product, service or company. Which in essence means brands mean different things to different people.

Nowhere is this contemporary approach to brand thinking more important than in the area of social media. The old methods of broadcasting messages and pushing information are no longer valid here.

Marketers entering into social media need to completely rethink their approach. They need to let go of their compulsion to push and control information and let people discover and share information for themselves.

Neil Perkin, from IPC Media in the UK, had this to say about modern marketing on his blog, Only Dead Fish; “The principles on which the networked world are based are counterintuitive to those that govern the world of industrial era mass-marketing.

That means the opposite to what we're used to. Reinventing what we know. Which isn't easy.

And if the two worlds are co-existing right now, it doesn't mean that you can fit old established practices to a new environment based on fundamentally different logic and expect them to work.”

Marketing Strategist Hugh Macleod has a lot to say about new marketing on his widely read blog, Gaping Void. He offers the following advice;

“When you’re planning how to embrace the brave new world of Web 2.0, the first question you ask yourself should not be "What tools do I use?"

Blogs, RSS, YouTube, Twitter, Facebook- it doesn't matter. The first question you should really ask yourself is how do I want to change the way I talk to people?"

In Hugh Macleod’s eyes, if you talked to people the way that advertising generally spoke to people, you’d probably get a slap in the face. Harsh but probably quite fair, me thinks.

Hugh tipped me off to a recent paper by Mark Earls and Alex Bentley, which offers this piece of advice:

“Stop thinking about marketing as something you do to people and start thinking about what you can do to help the natural pull mechanism work better.”

Which segues, I think, nicely back to the start of my column, and that person who asked Gerry McCusker about why an organisation would need a blog.

Because it helps humanise a faceless enterprise. Which gives people something to talk about. And whether or not it is an important part of the marketer’s arsenal, it is part of social media - and so should every marketer be.


Gerry McCusker

Neil Perkin

Hugh Macleod