Say hello to social – or wave goodbye to your top talent

Freedom by Thorsten Becker
Does your boss ban Facebook? Is YouTube access blocked from your office? Do colleagues look nervous when you mention Twitter? If so, chances are your employer is a large corporate or public sector organisation with deeply-ingrained concerns about productivity and time-wasting. Many large companies (and the more traditional smaller enterprises) have a myriad of communications restrictions in place.

IT departments nearly always cite security and legal issues as justification for this draconian behaviour. A few years back I heard a talk by the head of social media at a leading US retail bank. He referred to legal, compliance, fraud and security as the “four horsemen of the apocalypse”. It’s difficult for ordinary employees to argue, he said, when confronted with effective corporate death as an alternative.

So what about startups – are they cool with social and other new technologies? Well, yes, they generally are. They’re digital natives, aren’t they? It’s hardly surprising that a recent survey by online recruitment platform Tyba found 68 per cent of people working in big companies said they’d move to a smaller startup if they had the chance…and bad IT was cited as a key reason by 27 per cent of respondents.
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Aspiration nation – why we all want a piece of Pinterest

Pinboards by Shannon Lamden on Flickr

Twitter is for now and Facebook’s for yesterday – but you can see the future on Pinterest. From recipes, wishlists and wedding plans to visualisations of new husbands and dream homes, Pinterest has it all.

In a neurotic, self-obsessed, keeping up with the Joneses world, what could be better than a social network that defines not so much who you are, but who you want to be?

Pinterest’s 70 million users (“pinners”) share what they want, not what they own. For a generation where identity is built around shared ideas and experiences, Pinterest could be the de facto social network.

“Pinterest is a search engine, first and foremost” says Sarah Bush, Pinterest’s UK country lead. Pinterest wants to take on Google – by being a social discovery engine where images are curated by other people. A Google search for “red dress” (for example) will serve up a selection of sponsored links under the “shopping” tab – Pinterest gives you a range of styles selected and commented on by fellow users.

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My top 10 events for London Social Media Week 2014 #SMWLDN

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Next week is London Social Media Week. The fifth sixth time the event has taken place in London, and the first time founder Toby Daniels’ company, Crowdcentric, has been running the show directly. For previous events, Sam Michel’s Chinwag was in charge. I’ve live-blogged pretty much every time, and it’s been interesting to see the event grown in size and stature year on year.

Inevitably, the event has become more focused and commercial over the years. Like social media itself, it’s growing up. There are good and bad sides to that. People may gripe about inflated ticket prices and a monochrome agenda – but it’s more just the sheer size of the event that’s off-putting. If you look through this year’s agenda, there are plenty of gems to be found.

Here’s my top ten:

1. The Psychology of Persuasive Marketing Videos And How To Get People To Watch Them, 23 September, 10.30am: the fabulous Nathalie Nahai (The Web Psychologist) is always informative and entertaining.

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Passion trumps content strategy


What’s your content strategy?

If you Google it, you’ll find a million articles telling you about optimisation, engagement and discipline. You’ll read how content strategy is as important to social media as UX is to design, or how it makes sense to manage content as an asset, with a quantifiable ROI.

You can look at where your customers are hanging out online and what they’re reading and viewing. You can look at what your competitors were doing and what type of content is working (or not) for them. You can look at trending conversations and upcoming campaigns. You can data scrape everything, set yourself up with monitoring tools and apply your KPIs.

But at the end of all that, if you don’t feel you “own” your tweets, updates, videos and blog posts – if they’re not coming from the heart – you might as well go back to the drawing board…
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The positive network effect of truly great friends

Ring around the beach by Patrick
I’m talking to some Year 12 pupils on Monday and I’m thinking of using this as my main point: the world is your oyster – it’s down to you. But the number one most important thing in your life is to make the right friends.

What do you think? Will I sound too much like their mother?
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Live blog: Coffee with Chi Onwurah MP #TDC14

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I’m live blogging Thinking Digital’s early morning coffee with Chi Onwurah (left) – the Labour MP for Newcastle currently leading the Digital Government Review. The session is chaired by Dr Joanna Berry (right), Director of Engagement at Newcastle University Business School. We’re about to start – please keep refreshing the page for updates. [And please also note: the conversation is paraphrased not direct verbatim].

7.50am: Thinking Digital founder Herb Kim kicks off: thank you everyone for coming despite the rain and early start, and possibly a few beverages after lunch yesterday […] Let me start by introducing Dr Joanna Berry, director of Engagement at Newcastle business school. Great to welcome her on stage for the first time.
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Live blog: How Github Makes Working Remotely Not Suck #Devslovebacon

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I’m live blogging one of the morning keynotes at this year’s Devs Love Bacon conference. Coby Chapple of online developers’ forum, Github, is talking about Remote by Default: How Github Makes Working Remotely Not Suck.

As you may well know, I’m not a developer. I don’t even come near being one. But Mint CEO Cameron Price told me about Github a few years ago, and I’m interested in the way it works as a remote platform for its community: it’s a flexible working thing, and that all feeds into my interest in how technology enables us to work differently, the way we want to (see the Beach with Wifi blog for some examples).
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5 ways to use social media for crisis management

So maybe it’s no surprise that call centres in Spain have a better reputation than ours when it comes to customer service. Cheer and good humour? The Spanish do it naturally (unlike in the UK where training seems to be needed). Local cultural nuances are important in customer services – especially now that social tools are increasingly being employed.
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Spying on your kids online is not the answer – my piece for Vodafone’s Digital Parenting Guide

Vodafone Digital Parenting No3 p9Big thanks to Alison McClintock and Sunday Publishing for asking me to write a piece on kids using social media for Vodafone Digital Parenting – my article’s on p.9 of the latest edition (download full PDF). There’s loads of other useful stuff covering everything from online bullying and stranger danger to interviews with Jamal Edwards and six digital media moguls under the age of 21. So, this guide is inspirational and practical at the same time. If you’ve any friends worried about the effects of digital media on their kids (and mainstream media does its best to hype up the issue), please help spread the word and pass this link on.

Swearing as a PR strategy: how big and clever is it?

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So BrewDog, the craft beer brewery, has responded to latest criticism from the Portman Group in typical form: “I would like to issue a formal apology to the Portman Group for not giving a shit about today’s ruling”, said James Watt, BrewDog’s co-founder. “Indeed, we are sorry for never giving a shit about anything the Portman Group has to say.”

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