Time to start again…..

13 05 2010

Well it has been a while since I last blogged…. I know, social media mistake 101, but unfortunately somethings offline take presedence over the online world….

But I am back and will continue to post my thoughts on social media in the UK……

I am working in a new field now, Healthcare, but also FMCG as I am part of a global company.  It has been an interesting transition from small company to large multinational and one I thought would be difficult, but actually I am finding similar barriers that I found in the small company.

I know that stakeholders I meet STILLy have no idea about social media and they think that it is Facebook, LinkedIn and Twitter.  They hear buzz words and read the odd article and then deem themselves an “expert” in social media.  I meet Marketing Managers who read marketing week and think they know what social media is……   I have agencies calling me left right and centre ACTING like they know about social media…. It is honestly very frustrating, but that is what we endure being at the forefront of something that is changing the marketplace in huge advances.

I am lucky that I work for a company who is letting me put into practice what I preach and actually show what the potential of social media is.  My budget is signed off so now its GO GO GO.  So many of my peers that I talk with would love the opportunity that is before me, but face that uphill battle of trying to educate and convince stakeholders that Social media should not be ignored and it needs resource to be signed off to it.

I’ll keep you up to date with how its all tracking!


Social Media, Customer experience, online reputation and future employment

26 11 2009

I have been a marketeer for  8+ years now and have seen many changes in technology of  marketing in that time, but none with as much impact as social media.  I was there for the start of email marketing, Web Analytics/metrics and SEO.  I use to create “brochure sites” and then measure the hits to the websites…. Oh how things are moving… and moving quickly.

So why is there so much hype around social media?

Having used social media in business for the last 2 years I, like many marketeers, am still exploring the full extent of its potential.  I have worked my way through trial and ERROR to learn and understand what works for the companies who employ me and what doesn’t.  I have come up with some pretty simple, yet effective strategies that I will pass on in future posts. I am by no means an expert, yet thanks to social media we seem to have 1000’s of people who consider themselves to be just that.

Here is a a real life example of how Social media has changed the way I market, as well as the way I look at companies for future employment.

I know of a company that delivers Microsoft IT Training.  It promised that within a few weeks you could have a dream job in IT.  The target audience  was anyone unemployed, who wanted to change careers, or who wanted to work in IT (A very large consumer market).

Now before I start I want to make it clear that this can happen, and has happened…. but only to a very small few of exceptional and hard working individuals; the average person would take much longer.  This course had a drop out rate of over 80% but this was never marketed of course.

I believe this company came from the “marketing of yesteryear philosophy”.

“Let’s create collateral that looks great, has poweful messages, let’s use sales people who can sell ice to Eskimos, and lets create a NEED for it”. For this company,  a new website, SEO, ATL advertising, and  email campaigns provided warm leads for the sales team….  This company did really well.  Leads increased, sales increased, profits increased  so the owners were very happy.

However the customers were not.  They were sold a dream, but did not read all of the small print (not that there really was any)….

Imagine images of young happy people looking to the sunny blue skies and the customer is thinking “this could be me”…. That’s what was promised, but not what was delivered.

This company got the marketing and sales spot on, yet failed on delivering its product and the support of its customers. The customers cries fell on deaf ears so with no one to turn to, where do you think they went?,,, the internet and forums…..  (Twitter was just taking off, lucky for them).  The customers started posting their displeasure and lack of support on IT forums and they were heard far and wide.  What little reputation the company had was taking a slating.

Members of these forums picked up on this and when questions were asked by  new people researching “getting into IT”, members passed on what they heard or pointed them to old posts. (Social media)

I have now heard than 18 months later the company is really struggling, the sales team has halved and the regional office has now closed. I spoke to a salesmen still there and he mentioned that the leads have slowed down greatly over the past year.  This salesperson mentioned that the drop out rate from the intial lead to closing the sale had increased significantly and when speaking to these leads many were scared off by what they had read online after researching.

Has social media had anything to do with the company’s demise?

Yes – because thanks to Social Media we all have a voice and a lot of unhappy customers made their voice heard.  The Forums that these grievances landed on were some of the largest and most well respected forums in the industry and that meant that a) it was viewed by many and b) at the time it ranked high in Google (sometimes higher than the company).  All the promises on the website and advertising (brand identity) could not undo the damage that was posted on these forums.

No – because at the end of the day the company was too short sighted and just thought of profit (in the short term).  The real demise was not delivering on the promises offered and then not supporting the students when they needed it.  The owners of the company knew what was happening but chose to ignore it because profits were growing.

What have I learned from watching this company not listening?

  • Social media is a powerful communication tool and it does give the voice back to the customer.
  • Don’t use smoke and mirrors in marketing because in the long run it will be found out. – I still struggle conveying this to a lot of C level professional as they are still stuck in the marketing of yesteryear.  They don’t understand that thanks to social media, the power of the customer voice is far stronger than it ever was.  Remember the old saying we only talk about our bad experiences…. look at how big the listening audience is now.
  • Transparency is key
  • I use to only research a company’s products and services when looking for a new job.  I now research their online reputation as well.
  • I want to work for a company that delivers on the promise it markets.

Here are a few changes that I have made with the way I market for the companies who employ me.

Old Marketing Philosophy

  • Create an image, brand identity – use smoke and mirrors or whatever you can to make people aware of it
  • Create the right message and people will want it
  • We know what the customer wants, they just don’t know it yet
  • We say what the brand is

New Marketing Philosophy

  • Its all about the product and/or service, not the smoke and mirrors.
  • Listen to the customer, they know what they want.
  • Let them market the product for you. If they have a great idea, then it could be good for all
  • Use what you have learned by listening and make changes, adjustments to what you have.
  • Be Transparent and honest
  • The consumer says what the brand is

Has anyone else had similar experiences and learnt valuable lessons thanks to Social Media?

Social Media ROI

19 11 2009

From the team at Social Nomics.  It is an american clip, but still highlights how important social media is and that it can be measured.

Is Twitter right for YOU?

16 11 2009

There are so many posts from “experts” debating whether or not to use Twitter for Business.  I believe they all have valid arguments depending on how you want to read the latest report or statistics that are available.  After all we can make statistics tell any story we want to, can’t we?

These reports are all informative, but who do you believe??  They are all “big picture” stories and do not really answer the simple question that most clients want answered.  IS TWITTER RIGHT FOR ME?

Below are 3 easy steps to decide if you should invest your time in Twitter.

Before you start I want you to think of Twitter as a search engine, much like you would Google.  The only difference is that you are searching real time conversations and you are able to read what people are talking about right now!  Is your brand, competitors or industry spoken about online?  Well here is how to find out.

  1. go to http://search.twitter.com/
  2. Enter in Keywords that relate to your company, your products, your competitors and your industry.  Remember that these keywords relate to conversations.  Not many people will type in a full company name or brand in a conversation so think about how you talk about your industry and enter those keywords and acronyms. Think conversationally, not Google-ly.  (Strong brands are mentioned all the time – Search Starbucks as an example, but companies are less mentioned)
  3. View the results

It’s that simple.

Now you need to analyse the results.  What does it all mean?

If your company or products are not mentioned well then no one is talking about you.  Try searching your competitor’s brands and see if they are appearing?  Finally search your industry and industry terminology. If no results appear from these searches, then Twitter is not for you.  Look at other social media platforms (LinkedIn, Xing, FaceBook etc) and do the same type of searches.

If your keywords are appearing, then people are using this platform to discuss your interests.  Read the conversations, what are they saying?  Are they saying the right things?  Can you contribute to the conversations or answer any of the questions? – If you feel that you have something to add to these conversations, then you should definitely be in Twitter participating in them.

I know of many companies that are mentioned incorrectly in a press release or where there products are spoken about incorrectly  If they were actively involved in social media, they could have stopped this misinformation quickly and given the right information before it became “gospel” online.

So is Twitter now right for you or not?

If it is, Download Tweetdeck (www.tweetdeck.com – a Free application) or some other free Twitter application that allows you to monitor what is being said.

Enter in your keywords

Start monitoring, participating and creating these conversations….

Have fun!



An advert on Facebook is NOT social media marketing

5 11 2009

I have spoken with a few different clients and marketing agencies over the last few weeks and want to make this comment.

Paying for Adverts on Facebook and LinkedIn is NOT social media marketing.  That is Online Advertising.  It is just like creating a campaign on Adwords.  It stays within that network, much like Adwords stays within the Google Network.

I have heard so many companies say “we are involved in Social Media”.  By the end of the conversation I find that they are posting adverts onto these networks.  Take a close look at what was said…. “posting adverts”.  Adverts are NOT social media.  An advert is monologue.  There is no interaction happening between an advert and a customer, its one way.  Social Media is dialogue. It’s a two way flow of information where the customer can be the publisher, author or listener.  It is very fluid and conversational.

Social media marketing means joining in on conversations, reading what people are writing about your industry and company, actioning what needs to be done, contributing your knowledge to the conversation, giving your company a personality (taking it from the company name, to the name of the person who works for that company).  It’s about having your finger on the pulse of what is being said about your brand and doing something about it.  Social Media is real time.

If you don’t like what is being said about your brand, don’t look at the people writing the comments, look at what is being written and do something about it.  Gone are the days of marketing teams creating amazing promises and then delivering the complete opposite.  These companies will be found out and will fail.  Social Media is transparent, so if your brand promise and what you deliver are distant, then start looking for a new venture because it’s only a matter of time before you will be found out.

If your brand is not being spoke about, then start joining in conversations and giving your knowledge and expertise to these conversations.  Actively participate in industry related groups and forums.  Show peers that you do know what is happening in your industry and have an opinion.  Here is the good thing.  It costs nothing to do this.  Just your time, your knowledge, your opinion.

Here is a simple way to know if you are using social media in business.



Facebook Groups

Google Wave explained by a scene from Pulp Fiction

29 10 2009

A funny yet informative video on what Google Wave can do.

(Contains bad language)

Easyjet are you listening?

28 10 2009

I thought I would share (with the world) my experience with EasyJet in the hope that with the power of social media, EasyJet might find this story and listen.

I had booked a flight for 3 people (booked in August) to go to Italy in November.  We can no longer go so I want to cancel the flight.

Now I know I will not get my money back for the flight.  I am totally aware of that.  What I wanted to find out is can I get a refund on the luggage charge (over £50) as I will no longer be taking any bags on the flight?

This is where my distaste for EasyJet starts.

I think this is a pretty simple enquiry, dont you?  If they are not going to refund me,  I am cool with that as well, I would just like an explanation……  Well it would be a simple enquiry if you could find out where to enquire

I looked across the whole EasyJet website for a customer service phone number or email so I could at least put my case forward.  You would think it would be there for all to see…. take a look for yourself…. it isn’t.

There is no customer service phone number and no email address…… actually thats not entirely true.  There is an email address for customer services, but you can only find it if you are on the investors page.

Why does Easyjet hide its customer service email address there?

  • In the media section the email addresses are dispayed
  • In the investor section the emai addresses are displayed
  • In the customer service section…. well you now know the answer to that.

EasyJet are already rubbished across blogs and forums for their customer service and now I know why.

I got an automated response saying that “due to the high volumes of emails, my response might take longer than usual to get a response”…. hmmmm I wonder why???

There is a simple fix here.

EasyJet, learn the power of Social Media. Learn how to monitor what is being said about your brand and more importantly join in on these converations, provide assistance, give knowledge…. acknowledge that you are paying attention!

You spend 10’s of millions getting your orange brand exposed to Europe, yet you do VERY LITTLE for the customer enquiries and complaints – the people who buy your service.

So I have decided that I want to spread the word in the hope that:

a) EasyJet stumble across this story

b) they learn the power of social media

c) they take action and start LISTENING to their customers and participating in the conversation!!!

So please all, tweet, digg, post, blog, commment away and lets see if we can make one big corporate understand the real power of Social Media