Five key takeaways from Social Media World Forum 2013 #SMWF

Looking for ways to get social media traction at your place of work? Read on -

This past week, the 2013 European Social Media World Forum (#SMWF) conference took place in London and yours truly was lucky enough to not only attend, but also appear on one of the panels.

More on that last part shortly but first, my remit for the event was simple:

How did I get on? That remains to be seen, but here are five key takeaways that are definitely worth paying attention to.

1. Zero budget does not mean zero spend.

‘We got our social media up running internally with zero budget!’
‘Social media was a cost-free way to get our message out!’
‘We had no extra budget from our stakeholders, yet we still managed to get it launched!’ 

These statements are all fundamentally not true.

All meaningful efforts in social media need that most valuable of any company asset: hours. Without time, none of it would happen and without effort, none of it would happen properly. This seems like an obvious statement but you’d be surprised how many times it is said, heard, and believed within corporate circles. Next time someone tells you social media is cheap and easy, tell them: you’re wrong!

2. ‘If it doesn’t work on mobile, go home!’

The above statement was said by Dominic Burch (pictured above), head of social media for UK supermarket chain, Asda (part of the Wal-Mart group). This is huge. Why is this huge? Asda’s target market is Mums.

Back in 2010, Google Chief Exec Eric Schmidt took to the stage at Mobile World Congress and said his new motto was ‘mobile first‘.  Three years later and big corporations are catching on. Not only to this future-proofing concept, but also to the fact that their audiences have moved. Mums are mobile first, which means you have to be too.

Also: 56 RTs and counting.

3. Pirate Ships work.

Many of the speakers at #SMWF spoke today about ‘working outside of the rules’ and ‘circumnavigating process'; this is typical pirate ship behaviour. What am I talking about? Let me explain.

Back in days of old, pirates were able to out-manoeuvre large naval ships by being low in number, agile in their approach, and surprisingly daring in their gold-gaining strategies. Many social media teams started out in the exact same way. The lead social media head spots the opportunity to make revenue, breaks away from the pack, shoots, scores; and then – and this is key – begins to recruit more pirates to his/her cause (additional takeaway: if you can’t find another pirate internally, ‘network your face off’ within the business – Nissan’s head of social did this for years until he had the support he needed to launch the dept. formally).

From global finance companies, through to every day supermarkets – the pirate ship methodology works. If they can do it, you can too.

4. Know what you are, but also know what you’re not.

Cordell Lawrence from Jack Daniel’s gave a superb presentation in their ‘Telling, not Selling‘ session on what and how authenticity drives their social media output. All of their efforts stem from a clear brand ethos and strategy that informs everything they do both above the line and below the line, throughout social media.

The key take out (for me at least) was the ‘What Jack is’ and ‘What Jack is not’ slide. This is textbook brand strategy; strong brands know what they are, but stronger brands know what they are not. e.g.:

  • Jack is traditional.
  • Jack is not trendy.
  • Jack is whiskey as a craft.
  • Jack is not whiskey as a product.
  • Jack is friendly.
  • Jack is not silly or cute.

I’m from a branding background and seeing this kind of strategy warms the cockles of my heart. On top of that, and coming from an experienced community management perspective, these kind of guidelines are essential for delivering an on brand and on target social media tone of voice.

5. Help others to help yourself.

This last one really does read like some kind of meaningless platitude that wouldn’t go a miss out of a nursery book at bedtime. HOWEVER. When it comes to selling social media usage upwards in the chain of command, this could never be more true.

To provide context, and please forgive me – this really isn’t rocket science, the question and answer ran as follows:

Q: ‘How do I convince my manager that we need to use social media?’

A: Simple. Find out what their objectives are; find out what their KPIs are; find out exactly what that person needs to do to do in order to attain their bonus at the end of the year and then show them how social media can help them achieve those goals.’

You’d be amazed at what making your boss look good in front of his boss will do for your efforts in social.

 

 

 

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Facebook Hashtags. Wait, what?

That’s right: According to sources, Hashtags are coming to Facebook.

YEAH?

AND?

WHY IS THIS IMPORTANT? 

I’ll tell you -

1. Ownership
Let’s get one thing clear: Hashtags are not owned by Twitter. They’re used heavily throughout the platform, of course they are, they help track conversation topics. In fact, Twitter is so entrenched in the hashtag that they’ve now taken to describing themselves as ‘The shortest distance between you and what interests you’.

The ‘you’ in that equation is the @name. The ‘what interests you’ part of it? The hashtag. Hashtags really are great for connecting users to the information that they’re looking (on Twitter at least). You know what else they’re good for?  Ad sales. But we’ll come back to that one…

Hashtags are used across other (mostly lesser known) social networks but when your average consumer sees them today, it’s fair to say they immediately associate them with Twitter.

Not for much longer.

Ps. Y’know where else Hashtags are used? Instagram. And you remember who owns Instagram, right? Right. 

2. Graph Search
With the advent of Facebook Graph Search, Facebook really needs to start to getting to grips with meaningful conversation data. What do I mean by that? On a panel recently about Facebook’s latest search product, one of the issues that we discussed was the potentially huge disparity between the two elements of data that will be mined via Graph Search; behavioural and surrendered.

I might Like something, but that might just be to gain access to an app or a game or whatever. That’s behavioural and that’s sketchy at best. Surrendered is even worse; Facebook is trusting its users to enter their personal information fully and honestly – this simply does not happen.  These two issues combined do not an accurate search engine make.

However.

Using hashtags to badge up Facebook posts suddenly creates anchors within user conversations. First, these anchors are searchable and second, you can sell ads against them.

‘Oh hey Twitter, nice ad model you got there. We’ll take it. ‘

You get the idea.

3. Discovery  
Last month, Dan Rose, VP of Partnerships at Facebook, made it very clear that television and the second screen was definitely an area that Facebook was going to move in to. Perhaps not immediately, but soon.

Being able to tag your Facebook post against say, the TV show that you’re watching? That’ll be one major step towards that paradigm.

Earlier this week I wrote about what Twitter’s new Ad API meant for social media ad-planning. With Facebook now introducing (their own version of?) the hashtag, this same model applies: choose your TV show, pick your audience, choose your time slot, go buy ads…

OK, so obviously this won’t happen overnight; Facebook has a billion users and it needs to shepherd them in slowly, v-e-r-y  s-l-o-w-l-y…

But with the new News Feed inbound, Facebook hashtags (and their ads) could soon be just but a click away…

 

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Google Reader is shutting down on July 1st, 2013

Planning on updating this post as new GReader options start to appear and I get to play with each of them according.

This is not a drill.
(last updated 20:10, March 14th).

Goodbye GReader

AGAIN: Google is closing down Google Reader on July 1st.

Take a moment to process that… then read on.

Marketing Land, where I first read the news (before The Verge got it up, before Techcrunch nailed it too), is building up a list of replacements (all of which I am yet to try). So far they have:

Other notables are

Edit 1: LifeHacker has a good transfer guide too. 

Edit 2: Feedly is swiftly becoming the new Reader of choice. Here’s why:

‘Google announced today that they will be shutting down Google Reader. This is something we have been expecting for some time: We have been working on a project called Normandy which is a feedly clone of the Google Reader API – running on Google App Engine. When Google Reader shuts down, feedly will seamlessly transition to the Normandy back end. So if you are a Google Reader user and using feedly, you are covered: the transition will be seamless.’

Thanks to GigaOm and JMac (comments) for the tip.

Edit 3: RussB’s Magnet.io is now open for sign ups

Outside of those, go follow Russell Beattie. He’s been working on a Google Reader replacement for a while – aka Magnet.io – and if we all go give him our support, it might just make it out before Google hit the shutdown button.

Edit 4: Former Google Reader Product Manager, Brian Shih, explains what he thinks what happened over on Quora

I’m just sad. So sad. Google Reader is where I get my news. It’s where I find my random. It’s what drove my Five things on Friday last year, and it’s what drives my weekend link blasts over Twitter.

It sounds dramatic but, I genuinely am distraught. Anyone who knows my blogging habits knows that I am a news hound. I search for the new, the unknown, the esoteric.. and I share it. Google Reader has been my weapon of choice for as long as I can remember and now, quite literally, its days are numbered.

No good can come of this.

 — – — 

Right now, I don’t know which service to switch to. To be perfectly honest a lot of it will depend on whether a) the next platform can take the weird-ass download file Google gave me, and b) if Reeder App will support it too.

Google Reader was great. Then it was good. Soon it will be gone. 

For now, we mourn. 

 

 

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Targeting Twitter’s audience by the TV that they watch

The future, I sees it –

Back in September last year, I put together a few ideas about what evolutions we might see in the social media industry during 2013. Snappily entitled ‘2013 Social Media Predictions‘, one of the areas focused on was how Social TV and advertising would need to work closer together if they planned to meaningfully speak to their audiences across multiple different platforms.

Quote:

“…Soon smart media-planners will force Twitter to allow time-sensitive promoted tweets, with time-focused twitter ads designed to populate at specific times – down to the very minute. Whereas the traditional consumer used to put the kettle on, today’s viewers are now turning to Twitter (and away from the ads), the industry won’t put up with this for long.”

Makes sense, right? Of course it does. So it came as no surprise at all to read that, thanks to the advent of Twitter’s new Ad API, the smart folk at TBG Digital have done just that.

Introducing Calendar Live, a new platform that  allows buyers to purchase Promoted Tweets in sync with television programmes. It’s that simple. While it’s true that marketers could kind of do this already, this new system makes it supremely easier and brings in additional features such as trend monitoring and more granular time-targeting.

Calendar Live

Bonus simplicity: it looks just like your TV guide — 

While this isn’t the kind of ad-based scheduling I was initially talking about, it is a step towards a more connected approach to social media ad-planning. Good work Twitter, and well done TBG. We’ve been looking at a number of solutions to manage our approach to social media and TV of late, and Calendar Live looks like it might actually have something useful to both brands and agencies alike.

Three final points:

  1. With similar fantastic work taking place right now in the form of Three’s #DancePonyDance, this kind of integration really is the at the forefront of where social media, and thus social TV, is headed during 2013.
     -
  2. SXSW is on right now which, to me at least, means big news like this gets swept away under the mess of it all. Rule one: don’t launch during SXSW.
     -
  3. I love it when I’m right.
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5 things brands can learn from the Bieber debacle

Come on, you all knew this was coming.

It has not been a good few days for the global superstar. Where do we begin?

The #BieberBacklash (yes, that’s actually a hashtag) began when he had the ‘worst birthday‘ after being ejected from a London club for allegedly smuggling underage fans/guests through the door.

It’s a tough life, right? #BieberProblems.

Then, over the weekend, a seemingly innocuous tweet kicked off a fracas after Beiber RT’d a (SHOCK HORROR) a non-fan for saying she liked his new album.

The  Drum reports:

‘A succession of embittered fans jealous that their idol had deigned to retweet someone other than themselves who wasn’t a ‘real’ fan duly emerged with a series of hate filled tweets; including @julietesqueda who wrote: ‘Not really a fan of Justin Bieber but his acoustic album is really good!’’

Finally, last night, the Biebs was not one but two hours late arriving on stage on the opening night of his four day stint at the O2 . On a schoool night too? Never. Never say never. 

But OK, let’s look at this properly – what can brands learn from this?

1. Think before you Tweet
A few years ago, an agency head got into trouble after being somewhat unkind about the city where his main client was based. A silly error and, looking back through the mist of social media evolution, it seems like it’s a mistake of days gone by. But still, the lesson stands true: think before you tweet and never, ever tweet angry.

2. Reward existing fans, as well as new ones
Advocacy is everything. And, as innocent as it is to celebrate the acquisition of a new fan, treating all others in the same way will reap the benefits in the long term. In short: existing customers matter. Many service providers have got into the habit of offering their latest and best promotions (or at least deals of equal value) to both sets of customers. In future, Bieber might do too.

Sidenote: see also the death of ‘Our 2000th follower wins X!’ competitions. If you see this in action, call it out!  Why would anyone want to reward this brand new person when the 1999 have been supporting your growth along the way? It doesn’t make sense.

3. Know your audience
Whenever you kick off ANY kind of social media activity it is essential you understake a number of listening exercises to not only understand the current landscape of the market you’re working in but to also understand your audience. If Bieber had any insight – or had done any research – he would’ve known the following:

  • Monday night is a school night yo!
  • Travelling in (and out of) London late at night isn’t a fantastic experience (especially for young kids)
  • If he didn’t hear the boos from his dressing room then he certainly should/could have read about their disappointment online

4. Under-promise, over-deliver
Keeping your brand promises my seem like an easy and obvious one but it’s amazing how often many different brands forget this (at the expense of their fans and consumers). If you’re going to promise an AMAZING concert to all of your LOVING fans at a specific time, then you better make sure it happens.

And if you don’t – if you over-promise and under-deliver -well, then you really need to –

5. Invest in a Crisis Comms plan
Plan for the worst. Know what to do when things go wrong. At the time of writing, the Biebmeister is still yet to address the wealth of disappointed fans that had to leave the O2 early last night. A good crisis comms plan would know what to do in this situation: be that have the man(?) himself apologise on stage or even consider refund the ticket money – there are many different ways he could make this situation better. 12hrs later: none are yet to appear.

Irrespective of your opinion on Bieber-mania, there are a many, many unhappy fans sitting down at school today who feel let down by their beloved idol.

Read over the above again and just think: could it happen to you?

 

 Image via Adam Sundana on Flickr

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