Norton Anti Virus – Getting it right on Social media

A while ago I laughed at O2 for trying to get down wiv da kids and getting it horribly wrong. What they did was try to speak in the voice of their audience rather than in the voice of their brand .

Norton, on the other hand have stuck to their script and still intervened with one of their customers. This is a far cleverer way of handling it and shows a great choice of strategy for social media. Nice one Norton.

Norton Anti Virus getting down wiv da kids

The hierarchy of like

It’s quite easy to say you like something these days. All you need to do is press ‘like’ on facebook and everyone can see you like it. But it’s quite meaningless and hollow isn’t it?

Of course I don’t like cancer, and of course i’m against racism, but clicking ‘like’ does absolutely nothing but give the person who started the chain of public pointlessness a warm glow and a stirring in their pants at their ability to move social media mountains. It doesn’t save lives and it doesn’t raise any money for the causes we are liking.

Does it mean a little more when you retweet, or favourite some else’s tweet? Probably. But not much more. Single button support is all too simple.

Next for me on the hierarchy is a text. it’s pretty easy and painless and doesn’t commit you to anything much really. It gives you a glow and them a vague feeling you’re there for them.

But if it really mattered or you wanted them to know it was important to them, you’d ring them wouldn’t you and tell them? With a mobile in every pocket, that’s ever so easy and ever so fast. It’s over and done with in a flash.

But at the top of my new social hierarchy is a letter.

If it matters, then write. By hand. The old fashioned way. Craft it a little and show people that what you think of them and that you care enough to put pen to paper.

Go on, see what happens.

Internet Usability and the $300m button

Please will you be my new online best friend?

A little while ago, I read this article called the $300m button. Whilst I took some of it with a pinch of salt, it made me think and change the way I advise clients on their Internet and social media behaviour.

But I’ve now discovered that I am living it myself. I have stopped wanting to become friends with organisations online, unless they are amongst my very few special online friends.

So there is a very simple lesson for all of us involved with brands, websites and social media strategies. Stand in your own shoes and see how you behave.

I probably don’t want to be your mate. if I do, I want it to build slowly and get to know you first, before I commit long term.

Ooh, that sounds rather like building a normal relationship doesn’t it?

So, the new lesson i’m sharing everywhere is that you mustn’t expect people to create a unique user name and password to buy, comment or login to your site. keep it simple, keep it slow and let them log in with their Facebook, Twitter or Google identity and you will make far more friends and build a far more active community. When they show they want to get to know you, that’s when you think about moving the relationship up a gear.

Kids and social media

I thought I was pretty handy at understanding social media, its uses and its relevance to brands, but compared to my own kids, I officially know nothing.

I was watching my daughter the other day and she was tapping away at her phone. I asked what she was doing and it turned out that she was negotiating via Twitter with the CEO of to get him to supply her a t-shirt for her to use in another of her projects.

The other project is promoting my son’s music career that he is building slowly via YouTube. Between them, it turns out they have been seeding the links to the videos on Justin Bieber fan sites, Robert Pattinson fan sites. She has also been asking cast members from Coronation Street to retweet the links and stories she has been placing.

It’s this total lack of fear and ability to build connections that makes social media exciting, interesting and relevant to any brand, big or small.

I’m not going on any training courses again, i’m just going to watch the kids.

How to use Twitter in ten easy lessons

Twitter_Bird_logoI’ve been asked about this a lot in the last few weeks, so thought it was worth sharing my thoughts on how to best use Twitter. Ten things you really need to know about Twitter and how to make it work for you and your brand.

1. Decide whether you are a person or a business
Twitter is used by three distinct groups: Celebrities, who like to talk about themselves and the everyday trivia of their lives; Businesses, who are talking to their customers and trying to build rapport with a younger audience and by Individuals who often use it to share gossip and news amongst their own group – like Facebook but without the pictures. An on line version of texting between each other on their mobile/cellphones.

2. Choose a good name to work with
Like creating a brand for yourself, you need to start with a good name. If you’re a business, it makes sense to choose the business name and if you’re an individual, use your own name. I simply can’t understand why someone would want to try and build another brand with a random name. It’s exactly like splitting your spend and your time across two different brands and halving its effectiveness.

3. Personalise it with an icon and all your info
When you sign up to Twitter, you have the ability to personalise your information in the Profile panel. There is lots of talk on the Twitter forums (fora?) about not following people who don’t bother with an icon for themselves as they’re probably spammers. If you’re going to do it at all, do it right and that means adding in your own URL, your own or your brand’s icon and by being as interesting and engaging as possible with your 160 character introduction.

4. Choose your tone of voice
If your brand has tone of voice guidelines, STICK TO THEM! Just because you’re speaking in a different medium, doesn’t mean you need to start being all chatty and inappropriate. If you’re an individual, decide whether you want to be friendly and engaging, cold, useful but clinically efficient or some combination. But whatever you decide, write it down as your agreed tone and stick to it in every tweet.

5. Choose your area of expertise
It’s the same for what you say as to how you say it. If your expertise is in mortgages, then why would you have any credibility talking about advertising? Decide what you are going to speak about, again, write this down and agree it with yourself or fellow contributors and then stick to it. If you are shouting about any old subject, you’ll get seen as a loudmouth rather than an expert and people will lose interest in what you’re saying all too fast.

6. Follow back
The reason I follow no celebrities at all is that none of them ever follow you back and I care very little about their trivia. Why should I care about what they’re saying if they don’t care about my thoughts? This has been escalated recently by Twitter introducing ‘lists’. Organise your favourite tweeters into lists, so you can see what they’re saying even if you’re not constantly monitoring their every tweet. This can be by subject, area of interest or even geography.

7. Tweet things that you like and that others can learn from
“Waiting for a train to Nottingham“. “On a train to Nottingham“. “Arrived in Nottingham“. And so on and on he went. The most dull set of tweets I‘ve ever seen. There were nine in total all involved this boring man’s journey to and from Nottingham. Another person, in my own industry, I used to follow said “I have to stand up from the table to let my colleague go to the toilet.” Who cares? Why should I waste my life looking at his pointless tweets? Think about what you’re saying. How will your audience learn more about you and what you do by reading what you’re writing? Would you ring someone and tell them what you’re tweeting? If so, go with it.

8. Twitter is a conversation
It’s all about dialogue, not diatribe. If you speak loudly at people, no-one benefits. Think of Twitter as a conversation and allow others to speak, retweet the things they say that you find interesting and do them the service of acknowledging when they have been kind enough to retweet your thoughts. Just because it’s online doesn’t mean you can behave impolitely. If someone serves you, you would normally say thankyou. Behave online as you or your brand would offline.

9. Build a like minded community
If you’re interested in branding and marketing, then don’t follow someone in California who is interested in real Estate or Madcap MLM schemes. When I follow someone, it’s because I think we can learn from each other. I always turn down people who are talking about things I don’t care about. It does mean I have limited myself to around 3,000 followers, but it also means that they have something to say that will be worth me hearing and that they may benefit from my own thoughts and ideas.

10. Keep listening, keep talking, keep tweeting
Stick with it. It’s a frustrating time when you’re trying to build a community. It doesn’t happen overnight unless you are a porn spammer or someone using a ‘foolproof system’ that follow millions of people and bombard them with irrelevance. But if you’re working to a plan and set aside a little time most days to work on your Twitter account, it will grow, it will be useful and it will be fun doing it.

See you in the Twittersphere.

The X Factor effect and how brands need to recognise the changes in youth behaviour

The X Factor effect and how brands need to recognise the changes in youth behaviour
The X Factor effect and how brands need to recognise the changes in youth behaviour

I’m 44 years old and grew up in a village outside Plymouth in Devon. Having moved there from Oxford, it never felt like to most cosmopolitan place but I don’t think my childhood years were that different to millions of others of my age.

But young people today are totally different in some of the things they think are normal.

When I was on holiday recently I was talking to a good friend of ours Chris Bentley who lives in Kent.

What we noticed was that when we were kids, if you wanted to speak out loud in a language lesson (only French and German in those days) and try to put on the best accent you could, then you were seriously weird.

But now kids seem to love languages. Listening to my 12 year old son taking care of all the ordering for us on holiday and priding himself on the Spanish accent would never have happened when we were kids. Just use English louder was far more normal behaviour.

And then there’s singing and dancing.

I recently went to an School X Factor event where 13 finalists, who had been whittled down from many more entrants, were prepared to stand in front of all their peers and sing their hearts out. The standard was amazing.

Again, if you danced at a school disco as a lad, you would have been lynched.

But any brand needs to address these changes. Staying cool is tricky at the best of times, as tastes and norms change so completely over long periods. Even Google is being pegged back by the US investment market as it is not showing the growth it once was and is being overwhelmed by Twitter and Facebook in many areas.

Apple are now the most valuable brand according to the same Fortune article, but can even they keep it up for another generation?

So whilst looking at how your brand presents itself, sometimes it’s not just a design change that’s needed, it’s a cultural, brand definition change.

And that’s far more scary.

Social media is really antisocial for B2B

Edith Boundy - 95 years old on Tuesday and better at listening than 95% of all businesses that use social media as marketing tool
Edith Boundy - 95 years old on Tuesday and better at listening than 95% of all businesses that use social media as marketing tool

I’m a big fan of social media, it’s great fun and quite sociable really. But is it right for most brands or is it just a great big distraction?

Having given this lots and lots of thought, I’m becoming more convinced that a social media strategy for many B2B businesses is nothing more than a total waste of time that will ultimately serve to undermine their business.

A big statement, but lets look at the facts.

Email marketing
Sending lots of emails to your clients keeps them abreast of what you do.
If you’re doing well, as a B2B business you may have a 40% open rate. This is a 60% NOT open rate so more of your customers are choosing to not even look at the information you are sending them.

Lets say this takes 4 hours per month

I blog loads and loads that build links and web presence
But how many people read it and how is this adding to the SEO of your own company? It is far better to use all of your hard work blogging to populate your business’ site with lovely searchable words that Google can crawl all over and rank you more highly for than build an external blog presence.

You have to be incredibly committed to build an external blog with a Page Rank that will make the link back to your business site worth the effort. Realistically, one link from Linkedin to your business site will do more good.

To do this well will take 15 hours per month

I’m always Twittering
Unless you make the effort to build an engaged audience, you may as well not bother. How many people are actually listening to what you say. Most (over 80%) of twitter accounts are effectively dormant, so who cares? Are you shouting your thoughts in an empty room.

To do this well will take 6 hours per month

It’s nice to see your business down their with the kids and yes it’s a huge fast growing audience base. But for B2B. Hmm, not really.

Will you sell more widgets, buns or B2B services by having a Facebook fan page? I doubt it. At least once it’s up, maintaining it is pretty simple, so lets say we allow 2 hours per month.

For consumer brands it can be completely different, they try to build religious fervour where people seek them out and want to know more and more. Their reputation can grow like wildfire with consumers looking for information in every available channel. So yes, I can see why you just have to have it here.

But if you’re a B2B supplier, wouldn’t the TWENTY SEVEN hours every single month, you’ve just saved be better spent hanging out with your clients and giving them a really good listening too?

The etiquette of Twitter – That would be Twittiquette then!

I tweet therefore I am, but I listen too.
I tweet therefore I am, but I listen too.

Twitter isn’t that new to many people, but its scarily new to others and as such, the etiquette of how to use it is only now beginning to emerge.

But to understand the etiquette, I think you first need to understand its purpose – or at least what I believe to be it purpose.

I believe Twitter is for building likeminded communities. Groups of people from around the world who share some form of common interests. Those communities can be in many or any different areas.

1. In its most high profile form, this can be for celebrity watching. The likes of Britney and Ashton Kutcher, send out inane insights into their daily lives, that few but the most committed fans could possibly care about. The fact that these two have millions of fans between them, that hang off their every tweet, shows that some people must care. I’m not one of them.

2. For campaigning it works amazingly well. Barak Obama famously built his campaign and campaign coffers on the back of his connections he built through Twitter. No election anywhere in the world will ever be the same again. The people of Iran displayed their dissatisfaction with the voting system and twitter stayed open for them to give them a voice to the outside world.

When anyone first saw Twitter, I would suspect that there were VERY few people who would have believed that it could have such a huge impact on the workings of world politics.

3. Finding and learning from likeminded peers has to me, proved the most valuable way to engage with Twitter. My work is based on the subject of branding, innovation, marketing and business psychology, so I am actively looking for people who talk about these subjects anywhere in the world on the Twitter network.

I have open searches on Tweetdeck for these words (as well as Nottingham and Margate for other reasons) and can refer to anything that is written in these areas. It beeps at me every minute and can be hugely distracting, but eqally informative.

If I see something that I think is valuable or leads me towards an article I find useful, then I will follow the person who posted it and begin to build some dialogue with them, by Retweeting their good bits and trying to read as many of their thoughts as they care to share.

But what if they don’t follow me back?

Well, for me, this is the wrong way to use the system.

It isn’t saying you want to build a community, it’s saying ‘I am very wise and you must listen to me. I don’t actually care what you have to say though, as I am far too important and time poor to waste my time with your worthless tweets

Maybe everyone isn’t saying this, but certainly those who choose deliberately to not follow you back, are.

It’s like big business sending out emails from ‘donotreply email addresses’ They are effectively saying that they don’t care what you say, but are asking you to click through and buy from them. I covered this in more detail in the piece last week about Social media.

So, if after a week or two, people are still choosing to not follow me back, I stop following them. If they don’t care what I am saying, why should I care about what they are saying? Are they really so wise, that they have nothing to learn at all?

Not following is probably okay, or at least understandable for celebrities. I do think that it is a bit arrogant for them to only follow their fellow celebs, just to show how well connected they are, and to reinforce the fact that we are not in their ‘A’ list of friends.

So it comes back to the purpose of Twitter for the masses. Is it to build communities or relationships or just to shout about the fact you are on a train or eating your lunch?

If it is about relationships, then speaking without listening won’t keep you in a relationship for long. See how you get along for a day at work ignoring everything your colleagues say to you.

As Innocent Smoothies taught me in their book. If you’re talking you’re not listening.

So, do the right thing. Listen as well as speak.

Speaking on Radio Nottingham about the rise of Twitter

My Twitter page
My Twitter page

I did an interview with Tarah Welsh of radio Nottingham yesterday that went out this morning at about 07.45 to all the lovely people of Nottingham waking up to me talking at them about Twitter.

You can hear the interview here My bit starts at 1.44.40 into the programme so you don’t have to listen to the whole thing. Its only live on BBC iPlayer for seven days though.

I am already have the mickey taken out of me for mentioning Philip Schofield, so  i’d like to go on the record and say once and for all that I do not follow him, stalk him or know him!

The interesting thing for me is how I came to hear of the programme doing a feature on the subject. I actually picked it up on Tweetdeck where I have an open search on the word Nottingham to see if anyone is saying anything about our fair city and someone else was saying they had just been interviewed by Tarah. So I rang her up and pretty much talked her into interviewing me.

Twitter has the potential to be an amazing resource for business and I did a talk last week to a firm of licensing solicitors all about the subject called ‘Welcome to online Hell’ which was very well received.

To quote Jeremy Allen of Poppleston Allen who I did the talk for “Your seminar on “Welcome to On-line Hell” was absolutely riveting as well as being very informative. We thought we were actually quite good at utilising the internet but after hearing your talk we realised that we are a long way from where we ought to be. I was particularly interested in the reaction of some of the younger members who always thought themselves more up to date than others. They were riveted during your talk and still discussing it now.”

If you’d like me to bring that talk to your own business or conference, give me a call.

My New T Shirt from Threadless

I have to say, I love Twitter, I may even be a Twitterholic.

Okay, my name is John and i’m a Twitterholic.

I also love Threadless. The community based T shirt company that is run as a profitable democracy where the best designs rise to the top and almost anyone can contribute their work if they fancy themselves as a bit of a design guru in the making. Teepay is also making a play for the democratic design space and our good friend Will from Nzime was the second one to get his shirt produced. Its reached the end of its life cycle so is now officially a limited edition item. You can see it here though.

I am also a rather big fan of graphic design, but have run into many of them over the years who, to coin a phrase, are full of shit.

So, imagine my absolute delight when I saw a link from Twitter, to Threadless with a ‘branded’ range of Twitter based T Shirts. There’s a few that play to your ego, but this on eis my absolute favourite and I just have to have it. When it arrives, i’ll model it (in a chubby bald model sort of way) for you all to see.

A lovely new shirt from Threadless
A lovely new shirt from Threadless

If you like it too, you can buy it here, just let me know when you are going to wear it so we don’t have some embarrassing ‘wearing the same T Shirt’ moment.