Tagged: social media consultant

It’s nice to be appreciated

A couple of weeks ago I did a workshop for my fellow members of the EACA School faculty, since blogged about by the much esteemed Steve Henry (the 2nd H in HHCL – which will mean something for anyone who knows anything about the UK advertising industry) in Brand Republic. Steve gives a very succinct (and flattering) summary but what is also interesting are the comments.

The workshop was great fun – especially the opportunity to be present at the moment when a group of people who have a huge amount of experience invested in what I call Gutenberg media suddenly ‘get it’ in terms of understanding that social media is not about Facebook, blogs and Twitter.  And also when they start to realise how their expertise can be re-purposed to work in the new space.

There are a lot of Cs in social media

What is it with social media and Cs.  Conversation, Collaboration, Community, Content, Context, Collective, Connection, Cooperation, Crowd-sourced.   Also Consultant – lots of them.  The prevailing climate (Climate) of opinion however seems to suggest that there should only ever be four Cs in social media (see this article by Michael Brenner and the links within it).

I, however, always prefer the number three.  Two is never enough and four is always too much.  So I say there are three Cs in social media and this is how I arrive at this conclusion.

There are actually four spaces in social media (broken the rule already):

  1. the space where people are agreeing with you
  2. the space where people are disagreeing with you
  3. the space where people are asking the question to which you are the answer
  4. the space where people are prepared to help you do it (better)

The way you Do social media is to first of all identify these four spaces.  You then have to address them.

Spaces 1 and 2 you address through participation in Conversation.

Space 3 you address by producing Content (the role of content in social media being almost exclusively about answering specific questions, remembering, as I am always fond of saying, that an ad is an answer to a question that no-one ever asked)

Space 4 you address through the creation of a Community where you can get these people together.

That’s it.  There is no-more to social media than these four spaces and these three Cs.

Actually, that is not quite true.  You need a Story.  A story allows you work out what you need to say, in your conversations, in your content and in your community.  Four spaces, three Cs and a story.  I can almost feel a movie coming on.

Using analogies to explain social media. Its a bit like…

Trying to explain social media to businesses can sometimes feel a bit like Thomas Eddison trying to explain the lightbulb at a convention of oil-lamp manufacturers.

Forgive me for indulging in an analogy at the start of this post, but to start in any other way would be a bit like Gordon Ramsey launching a new restaurant and serving boil-in-the-bag ready meals (something that surely could never happen).

Analogies can be very useful communication and explanation tools, especially when trying to explain something that is new, different and where there are few real-life examples available.  They allow you to borrow from a store of familiar experiences and export them into the unknown.  A good example is the automobile.  Cars were first presented as an analogy – i.e. a horseless carriage – combining two things which were familiar to explain something that was new.  Likewise, North American Indians described the train as an iron horse.

For this reason I find analogies very useful in helping people understand social media.  Continue reading

Its not about citizens becoming journalists – but journalists becoming citizens

Today The Times launched its new online edition, which it will effectively be closing again late June when it starts to ask people to pay for it.  Times editor, James Harding, was interviewed this morning on the Today programme desperately trying to justify how initiatives such as this represented the salvation of journalism and reporting.

Laying aside the nature of the journalism and reporting that such an initiative is expected to preserve and also the arrogance in many of the assertions that Harding made that essentially implied that news just can’t happen unless some bloke with a notebook is there to ‘make sense of it’, there is a huge flaw in the thinking that upon which the whole paid-for content approach is based.  This flaw is the unquestioned assumption that journalism and journalist are one and the same.  Or to put it another way, the only way that journalism can be achieved is through the institutional structures of one-to-many mass media. Continue reading

Content is now a raw material, not a finished product (not even a special Guardian Extra product)

The Guardian has made an entry into the paid-for content space.  Called Extra it is, as the name suggested, the on-line Guardian with a little bit extra, for which you will be expected to part with £25 annually.  It is interesting and innovative, as one might expect from the Guardian – but it won’t work as a model for how what we currently call a newspaper (even an on-line, multimedia newspaper) can operate in the social media world.

The reason for this is that its ethos and economic model is still fundamentally rooted in Gutenberg economics.  It is still all about producing content – but in a way that doffs its cap to what editor Alan Rusbridger calls web2.0 by in his words “involving the readers in what we do“.

Clang!  What “we” do is not what it is about anymore.  In the social media world, content is not a finished product it is only a raw material.  The “reader” as some still might like to call them, is the only person responsible for a finished product.  It is therefore not a case of “involving the readers in what we do” – it works the other way round. The Guardian needs to create the permission to be involved in what the readers do. Continue reading

The power of passive consent – the real lessons from the Nestle KitKat, palm oil and Greenpeace saga

Here is a good summary of the recent spat between Nestle and Greenpeace over palm oil.  However, the lesson is not really that Nestle reacted clumsily to the initial salvo from Greenpeace and thus had to back-track and cave-in to their demands: the real lesson is touched on at the end of the article where it is suggested that companies can now be bullied by tiny groups of activists who don’t represent the majority of consumers.

This suggestion is misplaced – and highlights how activism in the social media age has changed.  The people taking that action were undoubtedly a small group of activists.  However, the campaign was successful because the activists had the broad, albeit largely unexpressed, consent of the majority of consumers.

The views of the average KitKat consumer could probably be expressed thus:

Do you like the fact that your KitKat contains palm oil that comes from a company that is illegally clearing forests to create environmentally unsustainable palm oil plantations?

Not particularly.

Would you go on a March to protest about this?

No – I have a life.

Would you stop buying KitKats now that you know this?

Err – probably not.

But would you rather Nestle switched to a supplier that uses palm oil produced in a more ethical and sustainable way?


Now in the past, this broadscale, but very lukewarm, response would have been functionally useless.  There was no way to capture the energy generated by a very small change in temperature across a very large number of people – you needed quite a large number of people to get very energetic to force companies to shift.  This is no longer the case – the will of the passive majority can be imposed through the actions of an active minority.

Now it is a huge mistake to jump to the conclusion that this means that social media has handed increased power to the activists or extremists.  It hasn’t.   These activists have to secure the passive consent of the majority, probably a very large proportion of this majority, if their actions are to be successful.  They have to mobilise more people than in a traditional campaign – but they only have to mobilise them a tiny little bit.

The fact of the Nestle case is that the vast majority of KitKat consumers would rather that KitKats were made using sustainably sourced ingredients.  None of them were actually very concerned about this – they didn’t have to be.  Their will could prevail with them barely having to lift a finger, let alone raise a placard.

Journalists: the big winners from the social media revolution

The assertion that journalists have a bright future might seem rather strange  given the somewhat disparaging things I have tended to say in this blog about the institutions and processes of journalism (many of which are contained in the posts here).  However, if we separate out the skills of a journalist, from the institutions of journalism we can see that those who are able to make this separation are presented with many opportunities.  Here’s why. Continue reading

The Rise of the Story or Why Social Media may Kill P&G

whats the story2(Warning – this post is 3,000 words, you may want to get a coffee)

Stories have always been a useful medium of communication – but the rise of social media has just made them essential.  If you haven’t got a good one, you could be in trouble.  Here’s why. Continue reading

Twitter is making and then destroying history

The elections in Iran have once again shown the power of social networks and Twitter in particular.  We can say that Twitter is making history.  The content on Twitter is changing the course of events.  However, most of that history lives within tags, such as #iranelection, and these tags will die or be lost in a few weeks time as our ability to retain them and search for them slips beyond the reach of Twitter Search or other search engines.  Twitter Search doesn’t give you access to a tag beyond two or three weeks.  This is a serious problem.

The whole issue of the digital record is one that is becoming incredibly important for the future of social media – and an area that, in my opinion, isn’t receiving enough attention.  If we can’t find a way to create and preserve a relevant digital record we will find ourselves destroying history as fast as we make it.  This record has to work according to the controlling dynamics of social media – availability and accessibility.

It may well be that the individual tweets that collectively are making history in Iran at the moment will still live somewhere in the digital record – in a place.  However, Twitter more so than any other social media tool is defined by space, not place.  The power of Twitter in the Iran issue and all others of historical influence, lies in tags and the creation of tag spaces.  These spaces live only in search or other forms of aggregation.  Lose the ability to search for it and aggregate it – and essentially we lose the information.

In the old days of traditional information, one printed copy of a document or a newpaper article held within a secure archive was enough.  There was a whole institutionalised system for ensuring that this information was held within the collective memory.  Social media doesn’t work like that.  It is defined by its ubiquity, by its ease of access, by its availability.  Restrict any of these things and you kill it.  Restriction of access has almost the same effect as actual removal or erradication of the information.

If ever there is one thing we should worry about – this is it.  Forget social media doing away with cultural gatekeepers, the media and other institutionalised sources of trust and all the other arguments that have been raised against it.  This issue losing or destroying history is what we should really be worried about.

Three lessons from #LRNY

As you can see from the previous two posts (and also if you check-out the #LRNY tag) the recent Land Rover hashtag campaign has caught my attention.  Initially I thought it was a very good idea – I have been supporting the concept of what I call TagSpaces for a while – but on closer investigation the campaign turns out to be a bit of a disappointment.

I don’t want to beat-up on Wunderman, the agency responsible, or especially Land Rover because I think they deserve congratulation for having the courage to experiment with this sort of thing.  However, I think there are some very valuable lessons that can be learnt – and it is this I would like to focus on. Continue reading