Friday, October 29, 2010

Twitter Revolution

Here is a link to an interesting article by Malcolm Gladwell in The New Yorker on the passivity of the Twitter Revolution.

As usual Gladwell illustrates his opinion with colourful examples. I've always been a fan of Gladwell, but I don't agree with him on this one.

Socialising your CEO

Weber Shandwick recently released research about socialising your CEO, which found that 64% of CEO's are not engaging with stakeholders online. Obviously, online engagement is not for everyone, but in an online world, we should see the number of social CEO's increase over the next few years.

Below is the announcement for your reading pleasure - one section definately worth reading is the 'How to socialise your CEO' section.

64 Percent of the World’s Largest Company CEOs are Not Social Online, According to New Weber Shandwick Study

Social CEOs Have Higher Reputational Status, Use Multi-Channels, Are More U.S.-Based and Are Longer-Tenured

In a new study released today, global public relations firm Weber Shandwick found that the majority of CEOs from the world’s largest companies—64 percent—are not social, that is, they are not engaging online with external stakeholders. “Socializing Your CEO: From (Un)Social to Social” examines the publicly visible communications activities of CEOs in the world’s top 50 companies.

“Strong evidence exists that CEOs are not silent in these turbulent times. They are extensively quoted in the business press, frequently deliver keynote speeches at conferences and participate in business school forums. But when it comes to digital engagement externally, CEOs are not yet fully socialized, often with good reason,” said Leslie Gaines-Ross, Weber Shandwick’s chief reputation strategist and online reputation expert. “As we continue to track the rise of the Social CEO and chief executives become more comfortable with the new media, we expect that this will change and change fast.”

Limited Pool of Social CEOs
Over nine out of 10 CEOs in the world’s top 50 companies (93 percent) communicated externally in traditional fashion: 93 percent were quoted in the major global news and business publications and 40 percent participated in speaking engagements to an external, non-investor, audience.

Online communications did not fare as well among this executive set. Most CEO online visibility is limited to what is said about them on Wikipedia, the web-based collaborative encyclopedia which CEOs and their communications teams are not responsible for. Removing Wikipedia leaves the online CEO space rather barren—only 36 percent are engaged through their company websites or in social media channels in any way (e.g., CEO messages on company websites, video/podcasts on company websites or company YouTube channels, Twitter, Facebook, LinkedIn, MySpace, company-affiliated blogs).

[Note: The analysis did not examine how CEOs are engaging internally using social media. It should be noted that this is a critical form of communications to align employees and distribute news and information.]

Who Is a Social CEO?
The research identified the following characteristics of Social CEOs:
· Social CEOs lead companies with higher reputational status. Most admired company CEOs in our study had greater online visibility profiles than less admired company CEOs (41 percent vs. 28 percent, respectively).
· Social CEOs are multi-users. When they engage online, social CEOs employ more than one channel, with 72 percent using more than one channel (on average, social CEOs use 1.8 channels).
· Social CEOs are more likely to represent American companies. CEOs of companies with headquarters in the U.S. are more likely to engage online than those in EMEA (60 percent vs. 12 percent, respectively). Although the sample sizes of CEOs in Asia Pacific and Latin America are too small to allow for reliable comparison, indications are that they too are at low levels.
· Social CEOs are more tenured. Newer CEOs (3 years or less) are less likely than those in their middle (3 to 5 years) or later period of their tenures (more than 5 years) to engage online—30 percent vs. 38 percent vs. 43 percent, respectively.

Which Online Channels are Social CEOs Using?
When CEOs go Social, they are most likely to post non-shareholder letters or messages on their company websites (28 percent). This content is primarily focused on corporate and CEO leadership news. Social CEOs are next most likely to be featured in video or podcasts on their corporate websites or company YouTube channels (18 percent). Less than 10 percent of the CEOs analyzed used Twitter, Facebook, MySpace, LinkedIn or participated in external blogs. "It’s not surprising that CEOs are less inclined to participate in social media given the perceived risk and time commitment required to engage in two-way conversations," said Chris Perry, president of Weber Shandwick Digital Communications. "What's surprising, however, is how few CEOs are using social technologies as mediums to share information and company perspective. These are potentially powerful tools for real-time communication."

Why are CEOs Not More Social?
According to Gaines-Ross, “There are several reasons why CEOs are not more Social. Time is better spent with customers and employees, their reputations are at an all-time low among the general public, the return on investment has not yet been proven, legal counsel tends to caution against it and anything that smacks of ‘celebrity CEO’ is a no-win.”

Why Socialize Your CEO?
There are also solid reasons why CEOs should engage online. ”In this increasingly digital age, CEOs should embrace the value of connectivity with customers, talent and other important stakeholders online. With 1.96 billion Internet users around the world, CEOs should be where people are watching, reading, chatting and listening,” said Gaines-Ross.

“Our analysis of leading CEOs around the globe revealed that traditional media still remains the preferred outlet for CEO external communications. What is changing is how CEOs are slowly coupling their traditional media communications with social networks and channels where they can reach more stakeholders and give their companies a much needed human face or connection,” says Gaines-Ross. “The nearly four in 10 Social CEOs in Weber Shandwick’s comprehensive analysis may be trailblazers now but in short order, will be expected from leaders who want to portray their companies as transparent, accessible and trustworthy. The Social CEO will one day be commonplace.”

How to Socialize Your CEO
Weber Shandwick recommends “six rules of the road” for CEOs to enhance their social reputation and interactivity:

1. Identify best online practices of your peers and best-in-class social CEO communicators. Then establish and stretch your own comfort zone.
2. Start with the fundamentals (e.g., online videos or photos). Inventory and aggregate existing executive communications for repurposing online.
3. Simulate or test-drive social media participation. Understand what you’re getting into before you go live. Start internally although recognize that internal employee communications spreads externally seamlessly.
4. Decide upfront how much time you can commit to being Social. It can range from once a week to once a month to once a quarter or less often. Be your own best judge of what feels right.
5. Craft a narrative that captures the attention of audiences that matter and humanizes your company’s reputation.
6. Accept the fact that Getting Social needs to be part of your corporate reputation management program. Purposefully manage your social reputation as well as your corporate reputation.

Weber Shandwick provides counsel on how CEO and corporate reputations are best built in today’s shifting business landscape. Included in that counsel and research-backed advice are recommendations on building Social CEO reputations both internally and externally. For more information on how to communicate in ways that keep customers and other audiences buying your products and hearing your messages, please visit Weber Shandwick at or download the executive summary here.

Monday, March 22, 2010

Foursquare – the game that has everyone all a twitter

Adaline Lau, reporter at Marketing Interaactive Magazine, examines the potential benefits of FourSquare as a business tool. See whether you agree with the experts' opinion:

Foursquare – the game that has everyone all a twitter
If you are at an industry party filled with digital gurus, but not sure how to break the ice, try this one liner: "Will you be my stalker? I mean foursquare friend!"

A recent Mindshare report exploring the foursquare phenomenon, predicted that if 2009 was the year of Twitter, 2010 may be the year of foursquare.

In January this year, foursquare went global, introducing the ability to add places and check in from anywhere in the world.

Tech blogger Scobleizer, says foursquare has some 300,000 users, while its rival Gowalla has more than 100,000 and MyTown at more than 600,000. So do marketers need to start taking notice of this new web fad? The answer, says Mindshare, is a definite maybe.

Its report states foursquare itself may not end up being a world beater on the scale of Twitter, let alone Facebook or Google, but the cultural and behavioural trends it showcases could have a lasting impact on how we interact with each other and with brands.

What's worth noting is foursquare has announced a number of partnership deals with major players in a wide range of sectors, including Bravo TV, restaurant-rating service, Zagat, film producers Warner Brothers, TV channel HBO and The New York Times. In the UK, it has partnered with Debenhams and Domino's Pizza.

The partnership will see the pizza chain offer free pizza to the "mayor" of its branches every week. Those who check in at Debenham on its Oxford Street store on Fridays will get free coffee.
Three digitally savvy agency professionals using foursquare in Hong Kong argue the "stickiness" or foursquare is hard to ignore, but the benefits to marketers is still emerging.

Brandon Cheung, strategic planning director for wwwins Counsulting, describes the tool as a location-based game that introduces the concept of "check-ins" to real- life locations. It uses the GPS in your phone to locate you and the people and places around you. The key difference here is that location tagging is controlled by the users as opposed to auto-tagging such as Google Latitude.

"The user opt-in approach is preferred to the follow-me-everywhere-like-a-stalker method of location tagging," Cheung says.

By inviting players to check in to their favourite locations, Cheung says a crowd-sourced list of businesses is created in each city where foursquare is played. The location-based list creates a new opportunity for local businesses to reach out and seek consumers actively.

Nic Tinworth, digital director at Fluid, which is implementing the tool to its sister company Graze Cafe, adds that foursquare is a "sticky" mobile social network as it gives you bragging rights to become "mayor" at a venue and gets you invested after the initial "fun" aspect of gaining points.

But what are the benefits? Yeelim Lee, account supervisor at Weber Shandwick, says the location-based service allows you to monitor where people are visiting. If you're the marketing director for a chain of restaurants, bars or tourist attractions, you can monitor the footfall and who your customers are.

He says it is very useful intelligence as it allows you to offer promotions directly to users or reward loyal customers. With foursquare, the action of internet search has moved beyond the local search engine. Cheung explains that as consumers roam the streets with mobile phones, foursquare can deliver a relevant list of friends and places in their location.

Given the nature of local businesses, he says foursquare provides more benefit as a sales driver. Listing yourself in foursquare is similar to placing a promoter in front of your store or restaurant to capture nearby foot traffic. Besides, the success metrics is measured by how many people have checked in or recommended your location on foursquare - a direct link between digital interaction and physical action.

Other benefits as Tinworth points out include the ability to gather behaviourial data such as who is going where, when and for how long. Some third-party developers are creating new sites to introduce behaviour-based offers and this holds expansion promises for foursquare as developers will increase buzz via their APIs.

Another key benefit is to enable hyper target messaging and offers. For example, Starbucks can send you a special offer-notice for a free drink if you check into a bookstore nearby, via the "special nearby" alerts.

Challenges ahead
Cheung says getting listed takes a few seconds, but what needs to be planned out is your business approach to creating incentives around the game.

"Some marketers may not be ready for this yet, but those that move first will gain an advantage from the passionate first-mover audience," he says.

Tinworth is more concerned that people might not be ready for a location-based application as a lot of people are private and those on Twitter and Facebook might get annoyed by the constant "I am here, doing this" status check-in messages.

He says if foursquare is to succeed, it will need an explosion of users to make it worthwhile for the average internet user to feel compelled to register and see what the fuss is about. He adds that foursquare must address safety concerns raised after a Dutch website provided minute-by-minute updates on people who had left their house.

In Hong Kong, Starstreet has listed all of its tenant locations in foursquare, but the promotional angle is still being co-ordinated.

At Graze Cafe located in Sheung Wan, it hopes to convert the virtual community into real customers by incorporating foursquare in its marketing initiatives.

While the mobile marketing potential is obvious, whether or not marketers see value in another fad in the fast-moving online world is yet to be seen.

Wednesday, February 24, 2010

Corporates Using Social Media

This article in Marketing Magazine regarding research conducted by Burson-Marsteller on corporate enterprises using social media across US, EMEA and Asia Pacific makes for some good reading:

Key points include:

- Almost 80% of the Fortune Global 100 companies are using at least one of the top social media platforms
- About 65% of the Fortune Global 100 have active accounts on Twitter, 54% have a Facebook fan page, 50% a YouTube channel, and 33% employ corporate blogs
- Corporate Twitter accounts averaged 1,489 followers, while each Facebook fan page averaged 40,884 fans

So, it's plain to see that many corporates are fully on the bandwagon and using social media tactics. The question now is, how many have a strategy?

Friday, January 29, 2010

5 Ways Apple’s iPad Will Impact B2B Marketing

I really liked this take on the Apple iPad launch which comes from blog. It looks at the impact of the device for maketers and sales from a B2B perspective, rather than the much preferred consumer perspective. I really didn't have too much to add, so have reposted the article in full. Hope you enjoy it too:

5 Ways Apple’s iPad Will Impact B2B Marketing
Posted: 27 Jan 2010 04:57 PM PST

Before you come through the computer and smack me, yes, I am adding to the endless amount of blog posts all dedicated to Apple’s newly released iPad. With this tablet device Apple is trying to create a new category of portable computing device. How will this device impact your planning as a B2B marketer?

Initially this device won’t be a major factor to B2B marketers, because even if it is very successful, it will take 6 to 12 months to have enough devices in use to warrant attention. The device, which won’t even be out for a couple of months, offers users the ability to consum all types of media on the go using a software interface that many people are accustomed to due to their use of iPhones and iPod touches. Starting this summer B2B marketers need to begin looking at their web analytics to determine how many people visiting online sites are using this device, as well as the iPhone.

5 Potential Impacts Of The iPad On B2B MarketingNew device and adoption aside, in the future this device, or one similar, could have several important impacts on digital B2B marketing. Now is the time to think ahead and position for these possible changes in your business.

1. Improve Product Demos – The iPad will likely be most utilized in the business world for demonstrations. If you are a B2B company, especially a software company, this will be a great device to show off products and demonstrate new features. The iPad’s ability to display keynote presentations will also make it easy to shift from up-close demos or product sheets to slide presentations. I could see sales teams using this type of device to go over pricing and calculating business impacts of a product in real-time.

2. Trade Show Info Capture – Speaking of sale people, I would imagine that we will see iPads in the hands of savvy B2B sales people at a variety of industry tradeshows. A device like this removes the need to get people into a booth and have them in front of a computer to get their contact information into a CRM tool. I can see companies developing internal applications for the iPad that can easily add people into remote CRM systems and enter them into giveaway contests at the booth.

3. Less Flash Ads – An issue that some people have about this device is that it does not support Adobe Flash, a software that enables us to view many of the videos and advertisements on the web today. If devices without Flash like the iPad increase in popularity, it could motivate B2B marketers to produce less flash advertising, as it would be invisible to iPad and iPhone users.

4. More Multimedia Content – Regardless of its success, the iPad reinforces a trend that shows the way people consume media is changing. People are becoming more accustomed to a multimedia experience. For example the New York Times on the iPad includes video clips in articles that are viewed on the device. As B2B marketers strive to remain effective story tellers, becoming multimedia focused will be key.

5. Need For Customized Customer Experiences – With this new category of device, Apple has create yet another user experience to go along with the iPhone and traditional personal computers. The ways in which people interact with information on this type of device is different. Subsequently, B2B marketers need to plan digital experiences that are different for each device.

Cool new gadgets don’t replace boring online content. Take time to ensure you are telling a compelling story online now, because as digital information consumption changes, so will your marketing executions.

What do you think about the role of tablet computers in B2B companies?

Tuesday, January 26, 2010

Is PR giving ‘Social Media’ a bad name?

Here is my article that was published in the December / January issue of Marketing Magazine.

I'd be interested to hear your thoughts!

The bell has rung: social media play time is over.
Digital media is now a way of life for most, becoming a fundamental element of brand reputation management, yet the PR industry is still having trouble getting to grips with some of the fundamental basics. Play time is over and the industry needs to recognize the importance of digital communications.

Given that PR people have always been experts at building advocates, much more so than other disciplines, this creates a huge opportunity for PR agencies. However, agencies must upgrade their staff skill sets if they are to capitalize and survive in the future. Agency bosses must take digital communications seriously by investing in the right staff and training existing staff so that social media is ingrained into the fabric of the agency.

The social media pie is still relatively small in terms of revenue, but the pie is growing and clients are seeing it as a priority. A recent Forrester study, entitled ‘Global Social Media Planning Survey’, found that 53 per cent of marketing managers globally plan to increase their investment in social media. Bear in mind this was during a recession year! Furthermore, research conducted by Weber Shandwick across six major European markets, entitled ‘INLINE Communications’, found that online advocacy – defined as online user reviews and recommendations – has replaced recommendations from friends and family as the most influential source of information. Anectodal research confirms that Asian audiences are also relying more and more on internet dialogue for their information(while this isn’t Asian focused research, Weber Shandwick is working on this!). Therefore, creating an environment where conversations about your brand is encouraged and rewarded can play a key role in building your brand reputations.

Social media smoke and mirrors?
There is a great deal of hype without any real social media proof points within the industry. Part of the blame lies with those agencies that have no expertise but pretend they do. Sadly, social media expertise is increasingly being ridiculed coming a bit of a joke as so- called ‘experts’ do not understand the relationship between social media and a brand’s business outcome. The ‘fakers’ are making money consulting brands about engaging customers and brandishing buzzwords like ‘transparency’, ‘authenticity’ and ‘blogger engagement’. But they are failing to demonstrate how social media channels can really help businesses achieve theirits goals, and as a result, causeing serious damage to the reputation of our industry.

In addition, advertising, digital, media purchasing and PR agencies are all vying for ownership of the space. Of course, different disciplines will approach social media from different angles, but we need to consider which tactic/tool/platform/application in our toolbox will best help the client achieve its objectives. Agencies from different disciplines need to work better together to clearly define the use of social media for different objectives – whether it is to drive brand awareness, build communities of advocates, internal communications or to drive sales. By ceasing the bombardment of noise about social media and better aligning it to the overall strategy, clients will be clearer about how it will benefit them.

Digital communications should not be about campaigns or projects, but an approach that requires long- term planning and commitment. The real benefit of digital communications is that you can build communities of advocates that genuinely like a brand. These advocates have their own network of communities that in turn learn about a brand in an organic way, which may influence them to become customers and advocates themselves. Most importantly, as advocates for a brand, they are engaged and are not just viewers.

Social media in PR
From a PR standpoint, social media should not be considered in a silo, but rather an additional weapon tool in our PR arsenalkit. We should not be talking about an online or offline approach, but rather an inline approach; a strategy that utilizes tools and tactics that best helps a business achieve its goals, whether it is online or offline. By adopting a response-oriented and lead generation approach to social media, we can help brands build communities of advocates, increase their customer/follower database, increase search traffic and, thus create more brand awareness, thought leadership, and all those things that help make brands exceptional.

However, to do this, the PR industry as a whole, needs to build its own credibility to convincingly own its share of the pie. Agencies must develop expertise in PR and Digital – they are not mutually exclusive.! This year saw PR agencies taking the first step on the ladder by recruiting digital specialists. But this is just the first step. Agency bosses must continue to embed digital communication skills into the fabric of the agency, ensuring PR consultants are sufficiently trained in the new skills available to them and helping them to consider integrating digital channels as part of the work they are already doing. For example, let’s say a team is working on crisis communications on behalf of a client. Rather than just using traditional methods, they should also be thinking about the impact of online media and how social media channels can be used strategically.

To all those PR agency heads, here are three suggestions you may wish to adopt as your New Year’s Resolutions:
- Eat more pie: Build the agency’s digital communications expertise to better consult clients
- Be more truthful to clients: Don’t be a social media faker. It harms the credibility of the industry as a whole, not just your agency
- Invest in staffHelp my staff more: PR as it was will be no longer.! Arm employees with the knowledge and skill- sets they need to consult clients in this ever evolvinge new world of communication

Tuesday, January 5, 2010

Happy New Year

This is my first blog post in five months, and for this I am both ashamed and apologetic. I won’t be making any excuses, but rather will say that this year I will try much much harder.

The second half of 2009 was very interesting, wasn’t it? Social media related enquiries continued to soar from all sectors and some were even spending some marketing dollars on it. Traditional PR programmes started to embrace digital communications, with many organizations now incorporating an element of social media tactics into activities. On the other side of the fence, bloggers and social media platforms became more savvy and better understood the potential influence they have for brands and as such changed the way they work.

I won’t try and pretend I know what will happen in 2010, but a few things are clear in the world of PR. Below are my top three observations on the way things are moving:

1. Any agency or PR consultant who still does not want to, or cannot, embrace social media to some degree will be out of the job within 5 years (probably less). PR is about creating, communicating with and influencing advocates and more than ever this is moving towards digital.

2. Any journalist who does not, or cannot, embrace social media to some degree will be out of the job within 5 years (probably less). Most of them already have done, using social media platforms for research, networking, raising their profiles etc.

3. Any media outlet that does not, or cannot, embrace digital communications will cease to exist within 5 years (probably less). Most publications now have some sort of online presence whether it be a standard website or a fully fledged online only version, but some smaller publications are still in the dark ages, and for them I fear.

On a final note, I just wanted to say that my background is in traditional PR and I hoped my blog would reflect this. But more and more, I write about digital communications. This is due to the way my role has been evolving, but I have not forgotten my roots!

Till next time….