Dear Directors – a social media letter

Dear Directors,

You are ignoring social media at your peril. People are talking about your company right now and it’s not all good. Some of your staff are seeing this but they’re afraid to step in because you don’t have a policy which protects them if they do.

Do a search on your company name, it only takes a second. Try a service like Social Mention. It couldn’t be easier.

See what’s out there? Can you imagine what it would be like if you could get involved there and start to influence how your brand is perceived?

Why haven’t you done it yet? Are you:

If you don’t fix this situation right now your competitors will be tearing past you quicker than you can imagine. In many industries the social media space is virgin territory. Stake your claim now to get a head start.

That’s what I’d do.

Yours Faithfully,
Barry Dewar (Social Media Strategist)


Basic proposal template

I moved client side about 8 months ago. One of the things to most surprised me is how I miss writing proposals.


I even dug out my old proposal template to make myself feel better.

Then I thought, maybe people might find it useful . Maybe you have been asked to write a proposal. Maybe you write proposals all the time and you’re nosy to see what I put in mine. Maybe you are just wondering what a proposal is.

For whatever reason. Here you go. My proposal template:

An outline of the overall aims for the project and a description of what the end product will be and how it will function.

We will deliver:

  • Summary of Key Deliverables
  • Broken down into Bullet Points
  • e.g. a redeveloped website in line with new brand guidelines
  • e.g. A user friendly CMS
  • e.g. Social media sharing tools
  • e.g. Effective Search Engine performance and improved traffic

Introduction to Mystery Co.

Project Description

Project Plan
Roles and responsibilities

Project Details
Front end
Additional Requirements
Site Marketing
Social Media


Development Tools




Appendix A – Hosting
Appendix B – Risks and Constraints
Appendix C –  Credentials

The power of bread and butter.

What do you do when you don’t have time to do whatever it is that you do?

It’s not easy. Things change, that’s inevitable. That roadmap that you had, it’s kind of pointless. You may well reach your destination but the actual route is ALWAYS going to change.

When change comes, you have to devote a lot more time to the fallout. You have to make new plans, deal with consequences, and pick some new routes.

It doesn’t leave you much time to do the stuff that used to make you tick. But you have to have a plan. It’s important that you set yourself a base level of activity and stick to it.

When it comes to social media, there are some stark choices to make. Work out where you can maintain the highest profile with the least effort. If your audience are funky young things who hang out at the Google+ party, then make sure that you are keeping them entertained there. If they are gobshite Tweetheads, then don’t drop out of their stream entirely. Or if they’re on Facebook, you might want to consider a bit of advertising.

Look for maximum interaction. Use the limited time you have to focus on plans which promote sharing. Don’t pontificate about yourself, give them something that makes them use a bit of their own self to spread the love. Now is the time to be rolling out your polls, competitions, offers. The sharable stuff.

It’s not the big picture. It’s not following all the smashing advice that I’ve been laying out here. It’s almost crass. But it’s bread and butter promotion and it works.

Then, when the dust settles. You can get return your social media hatchback, and get back on the road.

4 flavours of social media

See when you’re reading blogs that tell you about how you should be using social media? First thing you should do is think about whether they are really talking to you or not.

See, there are a lot of different uses for SM and they require fundamentally different approaches to the medium. They each have their own flavour, blended from vastly differing sets of ingredients.

Are you, for example, a well known brand?

If you are then you are duty bound to protect the reputation of that brand by  communicating with your followers. You need to listen to what they are saying and act on what you hear. Tailor your content to be interesting and interactive. Don’t just feed it your offline stuff.

Maybe you’re a celebrity?

Ah. Now. That’s a bit different. Your social media content if you are a public figure is entirely based on your character. Maybe you are fiery and controversial. Maybe you’re all knowing and smug. Maybe you’re an expert at something.

If you’re a well known face then people are following YOU and simply want to hear what you think. Be honest with them and don’t try to water yourself down. If you do deign to actually speak to any of them, they will faint.

Or are you a social media beast?

There’s lots of them about. If your following has been grown by a series of purposeful iniatives. If your existence in people’s timelines is simply so they get to hear what you’ve got to say about types of differing  social media user. Well then you’ve made a rod for your own back.

You have to keep dreaming up new ways to say the same thing. Y0u have to keep in with other experts in your field. And you have to keep reading and thinking so that you can filter the industry news through a knowledgeable lens.

You might be none of the above

I know it sounds crazy, but you might just be an ordinary person. Just someone with a Twitter account and a Facebook page. If that’s the case then don’t bother reading this. Don’t waste your time with blogs about how you should be using social media. Just go on posting your updates and chatting to your friends.

You may well find that your stream is the best of all.

Image credit: Piotr Bizior

Google minus

Infrequency is the new black.


3 months is a long time between updates. Much longer than I had intended but I have been busy.


Today, however, fuelled by good coffee and free wifi, Imma post something.
Since my last post there has been one very significant change to the social media landscape: Google+. It’s long been predicted, denied and debated and finally it’s here. But is it any good?


Well, frankly. No. It’s not.


It does bring some nice video-conferencing tools to the table, and makes photo sharing much easier (maybe too easy?). But I was really hoping for more from Google.


I know that it’s all about the marketing but the first thing that bugs me is the terminology. Circles? Really? Just as the world had got the hang of following, friends, groups and lists Google wades in and crowbars a new term in there. And you can have different types of circles. And those circles can intersect.


Sorry Google but in trying to simplify a complex issue, you’ve made the problem worse. The reason for Twitter’s early success was it’s simplicity. Ditto with Facebook. They both loaded up on users because their initial offerings were very easy to use. Google+ looks user friendly with it’s big icons but it’s trying to to do much.


I can’t help thinking they would have done better to conentrate on the bits where they can gain a competitive advantage. The Google+ button is one of those. Maybe if they’d started with a kind of virtual bookmark sharing system which is easy to use then people would understand it better. The reason this is important is because the main issue, in my experience, is with getting people to sign-up in the first place. Why would anyone want to sign up to Google, requiring yet another password to be committed to memory when they are being offered the same thing as they get already from Facebook? Would it not be better to encourage people to sign-up to a service that is genuinely new and useful. Then, when they are on-board, start to add the tools that they get elsewhere and try and keep them there for longer.


That’s what I would have done.


I really am barely using Google+. And I do this for a living.


Would love to hear your thoughts.

The flowers of your labour

I’m still here by the way. Just haven’t been blogging.

I’ve had a big change of clients recently which has caused some changes in my work patterns but I think it’s safe to say I’m back. I made it to #EdCM last week for the first time this year (I KNOW!) and I’m finding time for Twitter again after putting it on the back burner.

It’s been a long time since I was actively building my network, creating content and engaging with people.

But you know what?

It didn’t matter.

When I re-inserted myself into the social media matrix it was as if I’d never left. The foundations that I’d spent so long building actually held the whole thing up. This blog is still getting good traffic, people still email me with enquiries, my friends are all still there on Twitter and the burritos are still good at @illegaljacks.

So there’s a lesson for you. The work that you put in at the beginning of digging your digital plot, the strategy work and planning. That’s never going to be wasted. It’s what roots the whole thing. After that you have a very fertile foundation on which to grow your digital garden.

I’m off to water the flowers.

Image credit: Robert Michie

Twitter building blocks

 The most common mistake I find people making when they want to get started with Twitter is the assumption that it’s “quick and easy.”  The truth is that this is just not the case.

While it may well be quick and easy to set yourself up with a Twitter account and start tweeting, this does not mean that your presence will be a success. In fact it probably won’t because there’s a hell of a lot of planning that needs to go into setting out your stall.

So if you want to do it right, here’s some building blocks. If you like, it’s my own 10 Commandments of Twitter.

  1. Get your name right.
    Make sure that your Twitter name tells people who you are. Acronyms don’t work because they are impenetrable outside of your own circle.

    You may not be able to fit your organisation’s name into the amount of letters available. If that’s the case, go for something which best represents you and give a full description in the profile.

  2. Assign responsibilities.
    Who will be tweeting on behalf of your organisation?
    Who will source the content?
    Who will monitor your stream?
    Who will respond to questions?
    Who will cover for holidays/sickness?

    If there are multiple owners of the account, list them by name in the profile. This openness takes away one of the most difficult barriers in government communications.

  3. Set goals.
    What are you trying to achieve? Is this just to push your news items onto Twitter? Or are you trying to engage your audience? Are you trying to raise awareness?

    Whatever the goal is will affect how and what you say and how you react. Record your goal and evaluate your activity against it in 6 months – 1 year.

  4. Timetable activity.
    Social media can give people the impression that you are available 24/7. In reality this is not always the case.

    Work out when you can realistically be available on Twitter and stick to those hours. You may not want to publish this but any deviation from your core hours will affect expectations.

  5. Set up your dashboard (Hootsuite)
    Visit and add your Twitter account.
    Spend some time learning what Hootsuite will allow you to do. The key things are extra columns to track your @mentions, DMs, keyword searches and peer lists.

    Use Hootsuite to manage your presence at a glance and save time.

  6. Build search queries.
    Think carefully about what information you want to keep up with on Twitter. Ideally you want to be finding comments from people relating to your field along with content from similar organisations.

    Add these searches as columns in Hootsuite.

  7. Find similar accounts.
    Do some research into other organisations who’s content you find useful. This is inevitably going to be useful for followers of yours.

    Make a Twitter list of these similar accounts and add them as a column in Hootsuite. Monitor this stream and try to retweet any content which is likely to be of benefit to you and your followers.

  8. Content strategy.
    So you will be tweeting interesting stuff from people you follow and content that you have uncovered. You also have your own content to promote.

    Outside of this, what else do you have to say? Will you be generating content in order to engage with your audience, like a blog with comments enabled? Will you be highlighting content which colleagues are creating?

    Work out a plan of what content you will be pushing and how you are going to keep on getting it.

  9. Monitoring.
    Monitoring may not be done by the same person who tweets the content. Just make sure that the team talk to each other and that anything which is picked up in monitoring is fed into a process for tweeting and/or engagement.
  10. Evaluation.
    After 6 months – 1 year, look at your performance in relation to the goals you set out at the beginning.

Twitter planning

Things to consider when you are thinking of using Twitter for your organisation:

Commit to engagement. Draw up your service level agreement which outlines who will be looking after the account and when. Followers expectations should be managed if you can’t commit to replying to people who ask legitimate questions.

Plan any sign-off processes that you envisage. For instance, what do you do if someone tweets you with something positive. How do you respond? More importantly, how do you respond to negative coverage?

Make a plan to monitor Twitter and the social web in general so that you can respond to any coverage that you are getting which is not under your control. Develop your strategy for dealing with such coverage.

Evaluate your efforts. Before you start, work out what your goals are; awareness, media relations, resonance… From there you can plan how best to achieve them and you can measure the success of your presence after 6 months.

Don’t tweet drunk.