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.


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.

Dont say anything…

My maxim for posting anything using social media channels used to be:

Don’t say anything online that you wouldn’t be comfortable shouting in the middle of a crowded room.

Recent stories, in particular the Ryan Babel/Howard Webb furore have led me to revise this. While I’m pretty sure that it would be OK to make a joke about Howard Webb being a Man Utd supporter as a result of the penalty decision, it’s clearly dependant on the subtleties of context which are all too absent when a tweet like this is taken in isolation.

You have to think about each individual message which you post online as a stand alone entity. If people stumble across it they will be unlikely to check up on anything else you have said, instead they will take that line verbatim. There is no place for subtlety, irony, sarcasm, double meaning or any other language modifiers.

My new rule is.

Don’t say anything that you wouldn’t be comfortable being repeated out of context by a scandal hungry media.

I may not stick to it though.

Mashable are doing it wrong

When I started to take an interest in social media a couple of years ago, the concern most often voiced was that marketeers would get their grubby hands on it and spoil it for everyone else. I never really felt that would happen because of the permission based nature of the thing. You only see the updates of people or brands that you have chosen to follow. For me that was an important distinction between social media and all traditional media up until that point.

What I hadn’t banked on was the pervasive nature of underhand marketing tactics. There have been a few things recently which have annoyed me. I already ranted briefly about marketing types making recommendations based on nothing but loyalty to their own clients.  This time my hackles have been raised by The Mashable Awards

I have nothing against the awards in principle, or awards in general.

What gets my goat is the requirement that any vote in the awards is automatically retweeted or posted to your Facebook account. It can’t be turned off. So if you want to vote for a few things then you are actively spamming your own followers on behalf of Mashable.

It’s most annoying because Mashable are the ubiquitous social media follow. Everyone with any interest in the arena is reading what they say and this begins to look like an acceptable approach to viral marketing. 

It’s not. 

It’s insidious. Any vote I might make on the site is purely an endorsement for that brand, it is in no way an implicit endorsement of Mashable, yet if I vote I am promoting their content without consultation. The status updates that it generates are junk mail and should be treated as such.

It may not seem like a big deal. If we are all following Mashable anyway then we do kind of endorse them right? Maybe, but that’s not the problem.

Rather, if other hooked up organisations begin to adopt the same approach, our Facebook feeds or Twitter streams will quickly fill up with this crap.

Just as we do with spam we will learn to ignore it and software will be developed to automatically remove it from our lives. 

Our carefully selected, permission based social media networks will cease to be of value and we will move on to something else.

Marketeers who use social media. Don’t take a leaf out of Mashable’s book. If you truly value your customers and have respect for whatever they CHOOSE to say using social media channels, trust them to work out whether they want to tell the world that they have just clicked on your call to action.

Just splashing about

My son (who’s 4) went along to his first swimming class yesterday.

He’s been to the swimming pool with my wife and I since he was a few weeks old and, as far as I knew, he couldn’t swim. He enjoyed being in the water, splashing and playing, but he couldn’t actually travel from A-B without assistance.

Then yesterday I come home to find him excitedly waving a badge at me. Turns out he’d swum a length! On his own!

See, I thought I had him pegged. But I didn’t. He was way better than I ever knew and all he needed was a bit of encouragement.

You’re way older than 4, are you just splashing about?

Image credit: Timothy Smith

Your job as a creator of content

People access the internet because they want information.

They use that information to help them make decisions. It might be small decision like “what should I watch on telly tonight?”, or it might be a big one like “should I move to Dunfermline?”*

It’s your job, as a creator of content, to make those decisions as easy as possible by providing all of the relevant information. It’s NOT your job to steer those people to make a decision that you may prefer by only providing some of the relevant information.

If your offering is good enough then you should have no worries. If it’s not, then you’re going to be found out sooner rather than later.

* for the record, the answers are “QI” and “No!”

Honest recommendations

One of the best uses of social media is for trusted reviews and recommendations. This works because, in theory, you build up a network of people who you know share your viewpoint. When they tell you that they have tried something and it was good, you listen and there’s a good chance you will try it too.

Marketeers are spoiling this.

More and more now I am seeing people making recommendations and bigging things up simply because someone has a vested interest in it. Maybe they are a client, maybe a friend. Maybe they are offering you some other incentive to post about them. There are 101 reasons.

This is all too prevalent in other places. It’s the reason why Googling product or service reviews is no longer of any use. It’s been the nature of the world offline for as long as any of us can remember.

Try and make the social media world a better place, think twice before you come out of a client meeting and shoehorn their product into your next tweet.