Tagged: advanced social media training

Social media mentoring

What many organisations need is actually a hybrid between consultancy and training.  This is because they understand the need to assume a much greater responsibility for managing social media in-house and re-configuring their usage of agency services, but need guidance on how best to do this (guidance they are unlikely to get from their existing agencies).  In part this involves a process of education (or re-education), but also very practical implementation advice which they can call upon as and when they need it.

I call this social media mentoring – a process of guiding an organisation through a period of change.

I can be such a mentor, providing advice on how to implement social media as a business process and also how to understand the new trends and pressures that may start to affect a business as this thing called the social digital revolution starts to play out.

Implementation support

The training and workshop sessions that I provide are designed to help an organisation re-calibrate its thinking about social media and identify new opportunities.  Sometimes this can be enough of a catalyst to stimulate all the necessary actions, but often there is a need to add more fuel or direction to a process of change.  This can be in the form of detailed implementation advice, assisting in spreading knowledge further through an organisation or  curating an assessment process to check on progress, review ROI and objectives and generally keep the ship on-course.

I can provide this on an ad-hoc basis, or an organisation can buy a chunk of my time which it can then deploy as it sees fit.

Understanding the future

I dislike the term ‘futurology’ or ‘futurologist’.  None-the-less, we are now living in time where the future is not what it used to be.  This is a real problem because it means that businesses not only have to manage the day-to-day, they also have to keep a heads-up because there may be something around the corner that can either propel them to a new level of success, or put them out of business.

This creates something I call platform anxiety: it is a bit like being at a station, believing you need to go somewhere, but not knowing either where this is exactly or what platform the train is leaving from.  And also not being completely sure that you either need to take a train or even leave the city in the first place.  It is pretty stressful.

No-one can pretend to know the future, but one of the things I am very good at is getting beneath the ‘froth’ that can often accompany the latest big thing and identifying the important processes and trends that are driving what is going on.  This can help you make your own decisions about where you need to go and, crucially understand why you need to go there, so that you can work out the best way of doing this.

There are many ways I can do this for you: formal reports and analysis sessions, provocative and/or entertaining presentations at meetings, events or conferences, or in more informal discussions.

Note to marketing department: there are no audiences in social media

audience(Here is my column for publication in this month’s Digital Age).

Organisations only start to create measurable value from the usage of social media when the senior management of those organisations really understand what social media is all about.  Unfortunately, the journey towards this understanding is often a long and difficult one.

The first mistake senior management usually make is to assume that social media must fall somewhere within the remit of the marketing or communications department.  This is an easy mistake to make because this thing is called social ‘media’ and media is something that marketing people are paid to understand.  Marketing people themselves are usually keen to assume responsibility because it seems to present opportunities to create this thing called engagement with their customers which sounds good.  They will also find that the agencies they deal with are already knocking on their doors trying to sell them social media solutions and they are not knocking on the doors of any other departments.  Therefore having the marketing department take responsibility for social media seems such a logical decision that it barely generates any consideration at all.

However, there is a fatal flaw in setting off in this direction.

Marketing depends for its success on the identification or creation of an audience. Continue reading

What is the E=MC² of social media?

To continue the theme of simplicity.  I like analogies and stories.  Here is one about simplicity and the need to shift from observation to explanation.  Before Einstein, physics appeared to be a complicated business and there were lots of people running around describing this complexity.  Then Einstein came along and said “you may see complexity, but what I see is E=MC²”.  This is probably the greatest piece of simplicity the world has ever seen.  Even I can understand that formula and yet it has the power to the explain the way universe works.

It didn’t necessarily make physics itself easier, but it provided a framework for understanding it and building practical applications.  We need something similar in social media.  We have plenty of people running around describing what is happening, but not enough people trying to explain why it is happening.  We need to find the E=MC² of social media.

My attempt at it is this.  The social media revolution is all about the liberation of information from restrictive means of distribution.

That is it.  The medium is no longer the message, the message can be itself, freed from the requirement to shape itself to the channels (networks, platforms etc) it has to sit within.  The implication of this for communications is the we are likewise liberated from the need to talk to audiences.  The implications of this for society in general is that trust has been liberated from institutions and can now live within transparent processes.  Information can be trusted on its own account, rather than via trust vested in the channel or institution from which comes.  After all, what is Twitter?  It is not an institution, it is a process, Wikipedia likewise.

Unfortunately, we all remain channel or institution fixated, because that is the way we have always done things, or because we have a commercial interest in a particular channel or institution.  Or because to embrace the implications of this shift is to accept that the world is going to change.

The latest croissant of absurdity from the SocialBakers

Every month I receive an email from measurement / metrics company SocialBakers alerting me to the latest  league table of performance for UK Facebook pages.  I usually avoid opening this email because it depresses me, perpetuating as it does, the view that Facebook activity and social media in general is a numbers game that is all about creating the maximum number of fans and this thing called engagement.  However, this month I took a look, just to see if things were changing.  They were not.  The part of the report that always depresses me the most, remained depressing.  I have shown it below. Continue reading

Brian Solis and his new conversation prism. Useful or just confusing?

JESS3_BrianSolis_ConversationPrism4_WEB_1280x1024Brian Solis has just published a new version of his conversation prism.  You have probably used one of the previous versions as the title graphic for your presentation on social media – it has almost become the default here.  I used to use it as such, but then I stopped.  I did this after someone attending a workshop said “whoa – stop right there.  That’s the problem.”  I asked what she meant and she explained that this picture simply illustrated why she was intimidated by social media – multiple segments, hundreds of bright shiny tools you need to be familiar with.

I think she was right.  Diagrams such as this perpetuate a way of thinking which, increasingly, I try and lead people away from, which is the idea that social media is both complicated and defined by a dazzling array of tools.  Continue reading

Econsultancy’s code for confusion

Antony Mayfield of Brilliant Noise recently drew my attention to this piece by Peter Abraham of Econsultancy.  Antony is one of the relatively few people in my Thinkers Twitter list because he is one of the relatively few thinkers in the social digital space that are any good.  However, in this instance I have to disagree with his thinking because Antony called this a great piece.

I actually think it is just another piece of blah blah from a marketing or digital agency that is struggling to maintain relevance in a space they either do not really understand or do not want to understand.  Harsh words indeed – but hear me out. Continue reading

Why social media is made for people with mild personality disorders

FireShot Screen Capture #237 - 'Idea Storm' - www_ideastorm_comOne of the great things about the social digital space is that it allows people to cultivate their obsessions while benefiting society as a result.  Before going any further, I should stress that there are, of course ways in which obsessions can also be cultivated in this space that do great damage to society, but I don’t think this fact should be used to obscure the positive advantages of obsessional behaviour – for they exist.

Here is an example, which features prominently in the e.book  (Social Media and The Three Per Cent Rule) I have just published.  There is a chap out there called Kachi Wachi Continue reading

Social media: why P&G, Coca-Cola and Facebook might have got it wrong

Book cover 6x4Is it possible that organisations such as Procter & Gamble and Coca-Cola (and even Facebook) are headed in the wrong direction when it comes to working out social media?  Instead, could the very fact that such organisations are so accomplished in the practices of traditional marketing, mean that they are inhibited from developing an effective response in this new social media space?  Could it be that this new space is not really a media space at all?  Could it be that the idea of ‘reaching out’ and creating ‘engagement’ with consumers is a total waste of money and that value in the social digital space is created in an altogether different way?

These ideas and many others are explored in an e.book I have just published called ‘Social Media and The Three Per Cent Rule: how to succeed by not talking to 97 per cent of your audience‘.  Central to the book is the idea that traditional marketing is an activity designed for audiences because the media it has always worked with is an audience-based media.  The reason media is audience-based (mass media) is because it is expensive.  Social media is free.  It has liberated information (content) from an expensive means of distribution and this has also liberated marketing from the need to talk to audiences.  In fact it has created a requirement for all organisations to understand how to create cost effective relationships by talking to individuals or small groups.  However, very few organisations have grasped this, preferring to see the challenge as that of building audiences within the social digital space, so that audience-based approaches can continue to work.  This is because they have become wedded to audience-based relationships and are supported in this marriage by an entire industry which therefore has an interest it wants to preserve.

There are now two worlds: the world of the audience and the world of the individual.  One world is not going to replace the other; rather organisations have to work out how to operate in both worlds at the same time, because consumers, customers and citizens have no problem doing this.  And organisations cannot operate in the world of the individual by treating individuals as very small audiences, serving them up a diet of ‘engaging content’ or any other activity that comes from the world of mass marketing and communications.

The world of the individual is a very different space.  It is a world where people put trust in transparent processes more than they trust opaque institutions (including brands) and trust individuals with strange pseudonyms more than they trust their own friends.    It is a world where ideas benefit from the oxygen of probability, rather than the oxygen of publicity.  It is also a world where the belief that a platform such as Facebook can be worth $80 billion is not sustainable in the long-term.

Despite its strangeness, this is not a world which it is difficult to operate within, as I hope I spell out in the book. But it does involve letting go of comfortably familiar approaches and embracing new ideas: something many organisations and institutions (the big ones especially) are often reluctant to do.

Advanced social media training: Forget Facebook 2

A quick post to say that there are a few places left for the latest in my series of advanced social media training courses for local government, NGOs and third sector organisations.  It is taking place at the Hilton next to Wembley Stadium on May 30.  Details here http://forgetfacebook2.eventbrite.co.uk/#

The three per cent rule: why social media is no good for reaching 97 per cent of your audience

3 per centAt the end of last year I was teaching a session on social media in a masters of communication course at the London campus of the European Communication School.  In total I was lecturing to 30 students in two groups.  Most of the students were French or Belgian and in their early twenties.  At the start of the course I conducted an exercise designed to define how  people actually use Facebook, based on the students’ own experiences.   What this exercise revealed was that everyone used Facebook to keep in contact with their friends and that this activity constituted the vast majority of the time spent on Facebook.  No real surprise there.

I then looked at engagement with brands.  Of the 30, only three confessed that they used Facebook to have any sort of contact with brands and of these three, two only did this in response to some form of incentive – getting freebies, entering competitions etc.  And only one person said that they used Facebook to follow brands in any proactive way – albeit time spent doing this was very small, compared to time spent keeping in contact with friends.

I also suspect I am being generous here.  The group I was talking to (early twenties graduates) comprised people who are probably the most engaged with social media generally.  If we were talking an audience more typical for most consumer products we would more likely find that one in 30 (i.e. three per cent) coming in at somewhere closer to one per cent.  This is, of course, just one sample – but I expect that the numbers I was generating hear are not wildly out of line with a more general case.  In fact, I am tempted to do a bit of work to try and bear this out.

These are not especially surprising results – I suspect they would resonate with almost everyone’s personal usage of Facebook (possibly with social media in general).  However, another way of looking at these results is to say that while 100 per cent of your consumers may be on Facebook, you could only ever use Facebook to reach 3 per cent of them.  Or to put it another way, a Facebook page is a way of not reaching 97 per cent of your audience.  Just imagine creating a new campaign and your media agency then coming to you with a plan which didn’t reach 97 per cent of your audience.

There is, of course, nothing wrong with reaching less that three per cent of your audience – provided what you do with this three per cent generates significantly more value per contact, that the type of value we are accustomed to generating when we are seeking to reach 100 per cent of our audience.  In fact all effective social media strategies are defined by the fact that they are focused, at any one time, on individuals or very small groups and fractions of a total audience.

This is all obvious stuff – but it is not apparently obvious.  Most organisations are still approaching Facebook, and social media generally, with approaches that are designed for audiences, rather than individuals.  They still believe, for example, that the name of the game is content – forgetting that content is a concept that only works with an audience.   They still believe that it is a good idea to run competitions in Facebook, because this activity is proven to create the most Facebook engagement, forgetting that there is no point in running a competition that more than 97 per cent of your audience will never see.  But perhaps if brands are so keen to export traditional marketing approaches into social media, if we also export traditional media planning approaches into this space (i.e. advocating the design of campaigns that reach basically no-one) – this is a way of highlighting the errors of this thinking in a way which people can understand.

P.S. I first published this, in error as a page – which I will keep (but remove from navigation) in order to preserve its link, which several people RT’d

 

The above is what I think. This is what I do

http://richardstacy.com/advanced-social-media-training