I am a London-based Digital PR/Social Media/SEO Consultant, music producer/anorak, deep sea diver, avid cyclist, worldwide traveller and football-loving technology bod! This page functions as a kind of online scrapbook/resource featuring my favourite blog posts and news items as well as my own personal reviews and recommendations in the worlds of music, sport, travel and technology!

Saturday, 4 September 2010

Expansion on “should social media be handled in-house or outsourced to agencies”

Expansion on “should social media be handled in-house or outsourced to agencies”: "

There’s a piece in today’s campaign that asks the question “should social media be handled in-house or outsourced to agencies” which I’ve been interviewed for and as it usually happens with these cases people are looking for conclusive black n’ white answers where there’s none so I just wanted to expand on a very narrow statement I am quoted for.

First, there is no such one thing as social media to relate to so any categorical question/answer/statement related to social media is very problematic. This point applies to the question “should social media be handled in-house or outsourced to agencies”. There are so many aspects to social media so there simply cannot be a black or white yes or no answer to this question.

Generally speaking still, you can narrow down ‘social media’ to three key areas for which you can ask the outsource vs. in-house question:

Community management:

This is the most relevant area for the question above. Managing your permanent presence online (your company blog, facebook page, Twitter account etc). There are 3 possible solutions here:

a) Done completely in-house – this is personally my preferred solution and there are enough examples out there from the awesome innocent people, Yorkshire Tea, Zappos and Dell, when a business takes the digital and social culture seriously and invest in internal resources it is much more cost effective but more importantly it says something about your brand. Being hands-on is always a good thing.

b) But sometimes internal processes, knowledge, structure and personnel simply wouldn’t allow for an in-house team. In this case a dedicated community manager(s) work along side the brand team but with ongoing guidance and direction from the agency that helped recruit and train this person. so it’s a 50-50 ownership and direction. I’ve done it with few clients and in many cases this is the only feasible solution and as close as you get to in-house.

c) In some cases brands are simply either too busy or too lazy to even care about social and for all they care as long as the job is done it can be a cleaning company that handle their spaces. They are happy with an intern in a social media agency to be their voice online. The results of this solution are usually (but not always) lame. Not my cuppa.

Creative development

This is the area that brand will need the help of their agencies just as they need them for any other creative direction whether it’s ATL, BTL or digital. For your social media oriented campaigns and so called ‘conversation starters’ clients with no in-house creative team definitely need a great creative agency to help them in this area.

And BTW on this point the Lean Mean Fighting / Coke case comes under this category and was just an unfortunate incident. It was a super awesome campaign that very very few brands could pull out in-house. Coke and others reaction was completely out of proportion IMHO

Monitoring, measurement and reporting

Again, no black and white answer. Some clients prefer to be hands-on, trained on the ongoing monitoring dashboard while some will want to pay for this service like they pay for any other research brief – both are completely reasonable and legitimate. Similarly campaign tracking and reporting will normally be done by the agency but can be shared by the client.

Any thoughts?


Friday, 3 September 2010

Why do 95.769% of Social Media Projects Fail? PLANNING!

Why do 95.769% of Social Media Projects Fail? PLANNING!: "

This question’s been doing the rounds this week, fuelled by this presentation by Brand Science Institute.

It could use a transcript, but the pictures are nice. And so are the majority of the statements it makes. Have a read.

For more on the same theme, see here, here and here.

Lots of Social Media projects fail. Here’s my opinion on the subject.

In C&M’s experience, failure to deliver value on Social Media projects is 95.769% down to the lack of an initial plan. (In other words, lots of things don’t succeed just because people haven’t thought ahead to what success ought to (or might) look like.)

Why? Because 95.6579% of the time Social Media is seen as free (as in free beer). Free to implement (on Facebook, Twitter, etc) and ostensibly free to run (Dave in marketing, Stephanie in PR, and John in Customer Services… they’ve all been twiddling for six months now but, heck, we’re struggling to make an ROI statement).

(NB: this is the basis of a common brief for us and one that we love – ‘We’ve been experimenting – with and without agency help, can you please help us fix it with an integrated plan…?’)

Plans usually happen because something costs money. If the boss needs persuading, then a list of objectives (aka a ‘business case’) is probably going to get created early on in the piece. And some research. And a plan. And perhaps some management meetings in-between.

Web sites, PR campaigns and lead generation activities succeed when they are well planned, budgeted and executed. If it cost £50,000 to create a Facebook page, most Facebook campaigns would also succeed …because they would need to come with a plan and a rough idea of cost and returns – and all of these things would be held to close scrutiny and consistent measurement by the right people.

So, create some objectives, produce a budget and then an accompanying brief (or – better – a plan). This way you’ll be 95.87645% more likely to succeed.

(NB: things may be a bit more nuanced than this but, hey, it’s a good start.)



The Obligatory Facebook Places Post

The Obligatory Facebook Places Post: "Last week saw the long rumoured launch of Facebook Places, the social giant’s entry into the much-hyped world of location [...]"

canadian convection

canadian convection: "

To get Americans to consider ‘vacationing’ in Canada, a digital installation was created in New York, surfacing comments/tweets and photography from travellers in real-time.

As a promotional concept, it’s almost very good. But has clear flaws. There are, though, lots of juicy ingredients to the thought and its execution that I feel compelled to discuss. Here’s the video:

The thing I like about it is not its use of ‘social media’. That would be a fairly meaningless statement. What I like is that it is trying to reduce the gap between the audience and the product’s actual value – the product being Canada. A lot of what I talk about in my Free Energy presentation concerns using existing forces (in this case, genuine vacation commentary) and bringing people closer to this authentic energy, rather than create new things (like an ad) that in some ways keeps people distanced from the actual thing itself.

If you buy into my heat transfer metaphor, this concept represents both ‘convection’ and ‘radiation’ value transfer. Convection, because it’s exploiting the currents of real conversation to transmit the value of Canada to others. But radiation, because the installation also needs to act as an ad, broadcasting conversations to people that would otherwise never be seen.

[You could also argue that by reducing the amount of mediation, it's also an attempt to get as close to 'conduction' value transfer as possible, without bringing actual physical chunks of Canada to the streets of New York. Although, not really.]

The execution falls down most – for me – in two places:

1. Too much faith has been put in ‘convection’. Passers by still need to be excited and seduced. The installation still has to act as an ad, ‘radiating’ the value/pleasure of Canada to people across the vacuum that sits between busy commuters and the wall of the installation. But no real effort has been put into aggregating and presenting the data in a really compelling way. It’s just… there. So as an ad, it’s not a good one.

2. Linked to point one, the second flaw is that even if a passer-by takes notice and interacts, will reading what a complete stranger thinks of the salad they’re having in Saskatoon really inspire them to visit? Personally, I don’t have any faith in a stranger’s recommendation of anything. I want to know what ‘people like me’ think of places.

I applaud the effort to bring people closer to the actual value of the thing being sold. But just because we can scrape live data really easily doesn’t mean there isn’t still work to do to make that engaging.

If the creators of this happen across this blog post, please don’t take offence. There are plenty of things I’ve done that I would criticise too. If nothing else, I think it’s a really interesting example that can fuel very useful conversations. Oh – and I’m a dick too ;)