Tagged: Richard Stacy

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

I am an anti-social-media expert

I am an anti-social-media expert according to Steve Henry (one of the founding ‘H’s in HHCL – voted Campaign magazine’s ‘Agency of the Decade’ in 2000).  I quite like this.  I think the key lies in the punctuation (as in eats, shoots and leaves) in that the hyphens imply that I am anti social media experts as distinct from an antisocial expert.  Although Steve’s description of me as someone who – mentally – is a drinker in flat-roofed pubs that welcome Rotweiler owners, leaves room for plenty of ambiguity.  (Key in that one is the word ‘mentally’ I believe).

But I guess you only have to look at some of my recent posts to see plenty of push-back against the establishment of social media folk who – mentally – drink in the child-friendly gastro pubs.  Socially, of course, I go for child-friendly gastro so perhaps Brian Solis has a Rotweiller and a pair of Doc Martens in the cupboard.

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.

Article on Big Data in Sunday Telegraph’s Business Technology supplement

FireShot Screen Capture #242 - 'Richard Stacy_ The algorithm is the most powerful tool of social control since the sword - Business Technology' - biztechreport_co_uk_2013_07_richard-stacy-the-algorithm-is-most-powerfHere is a small article on Big Data I wrote as the opening shot in the Business Technology supplement published yesterday in the Sunday Telegraph.

Big Data is certainly a big buzzword, but there are those out there who say Big Data is nothing really new.  As a rule I find these people have careers based on what we can now call small data (or perhaps that should be Small Data).  Big Data certainly is something new, and there are two reasons why it is aptly named.

First, Big Data is really big.  It is not just a bit larger than the data we had before, nor is it just lots more of small data.  Big Data is defined by the fact that it is so large, it cannot be handled by the tools or techniques conventionally associated with data analysis (one of the reasons its rubs small data people up the wrong way) and this also means we can use it to do things which were not possible when all we had was small data. Continue reading

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

Social media: the simplicity manifesto

Social media is not complicated.  There may be people who want to make it look that way because it helps them make money.  Or there may be people who make it look that way, because they themselves are looking at it the wrong way (Brian Solis, Jeremiah Owyang).

I have been in the communications business for 25 years and I have always seen my job as creating simplicity: to take a complicated thing and reduce it to its essence, be that an essence expressed in a few words or a definition of basic principles.  So here is my simplicity manifesto for social media: a reduction of seven years of thinking into 10 core principles or statements.

1. It is a Big Thing – just look at history

Social media is a big thing, 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.