Friday, 8 July 2011

I'm blogging at OfSpin

I hardly blog here any more, so I can spend more time blogging over at OfSpin, Carrot's blog (here). I may resurrect this blog at some point, but for now if you're interested in my ramblings and rantings, I'll be over at OfSpin.

Thanks all,

Friday, 10 December 2010

The impact of student violence

I’m deeply troubled by yesterday’s vote on tuition fees. I had the benefit of a free university education, bar £300 in my final term - the year that Thatcher introduced student loans. And so, I understand and support the students who want to protest against the vote and do so peacefully.

I absolutely do not condone violence in the protests. But it's no great surprise that what starts as a peaceful protest turns nasty. A toxic combination of various groups with an eye for trouble, high tension and emotions, and a student body that has been sold out by the Lib Dems they supported, makes it inevitable. This is a generation of young voters who are - at an age where they should be full of hope and political expectation - disillusioned with and already betrayed by our political system.

But today’s headlines make me incredibly sad. Ministers who voted for the bill are able to take the moral high ground by focusing not on the appalling implications for studentsand for a fair education, but on the violence from yesterday’s protests.

The effect of the violence has been to undermine the student’s message: that this coalition government has saddled them with a lifetime of debt, in an era when we’re told what matters above all else is to be rid of debt. 

Wednesday, 8 December 2010

Who creates social media strategy?

There’s a piece of ‘who owns social media’ research reported yesterday on PR Week, the results of which are, apparently, ‘relatively staggering’ (no, I’m not sure, either). The research, conducted by Wildfire PR, looks at who in-house marketers think should be responsible for their social media strategy.

Now I should say here that I think the report itself looks really interesting, and good on Wildfire for doing it - we all need to understand more about how in-house marketers approach (or don’t) social media strategy. It looks at the confusion over who should determine the role social media should play within the business, and the reasons marketers are adopting social media tactics (mostly because other people are, rather than for any strategic reason).  I really like the approach taken by the agency of ‘sustainable social media’, and its report that gives some sensible advice to in-house marketers on how to develop a social media strategy.

But, as ever, the response from other PROs (according to PR Week) is to ‘express shock’ at the fact that social media responsibility is spread across a number of different divisions of the company, and not all outsourced to PR agencies.

Of course it isn’t. More often than not, these days, social media strategies include sales, customer service, marketing, HR and any other bit of the business that thrives from human contact. None of these business strategies are outsourced in their entirety to PR agencies. The bits that are outsourced to PR agencies are, er, the PR strategies. And I mean PR in its widest, proper, ‘today’ sense of social communications: building relationships and conversations with an organisation’s public.

The research, I think, reflect this. In-house PR teams come out on top for creating social media (as part of marketing) strategies. About right, probably. Presumably the customer service team is responsible for social media as part of customer service, and sales for sales, etc.

As for the 20 per cent of those who think responsibility for social media lies with the IT team - well, I’m going to give them the benefit of the doubt, and hope they mis-heard the question.

Monday, 8 November 2010

If you haven't got anything to say, keep quiet.

This might be a bit of a rant, so sorry about that. But there’s some stuff being spouted by so-called social media gurus/experts/thought leaders [delete as appropriate] that’s driving me nuts.

The latest is a post I saw today by someone who shall remain nameless about the ‘optimum’ number of tweets you should send in a day (apparently it’s 22). This gem of marketing information is designed to help companies understand and plan how much resource they should throw at Twitter.

Is this really a valuable lesson in using Twitter as a marketing tool? Doesn’t it depend on what you want to say? I mean, I could fill up my weekly quota on a Saturday evening in front of the X Factor. It wouldn’t help our marketing much. And if you’re issuing company information 22 times a day, then God help you. And your dwindling band of followers.

It just smacks of the bad old days of PR, when a client brief would come in that made you want to cry, by claiming that one of the PR ‘objectives’ was to issue 48 press releases a year. No news, mind, just press releases.

I’m not pretending to be a Twitter expert (does such a thing exist?). But I think the only thing people care about on Twitter is whether you’re interesting. There are some people I follow who don’t say anything for a few days, but when they do, they really make me laugh. Or are a really useful source of information. There are others whom I’ve un-followed because they do nothing but self-promote.

If you’re a normal person, there will be some days when you just don’t have much to say. So maybe you just shouldn’t say anything. 

And now I'll take my own advice, log off and have a large glass of wine. 

Tuesday, 2 November 2010

No single discipline ‘owns’ social media.

What's with the debate about who owns social media - is it marketing, is it communications, is it sales, is it customer service?

You might as well say, who owns the phone: comms or customer service? Print media: Advertising or PR? Facebook: comms, advertising, customer service and marketing? (Or just you and your mates?)

I remember this debate about search, when it was still a fairly new marketing tool 10 years or so ago. We were involved with Overture as it launched into the UK, and there was a big issue around whether sales, web development, IT, marketing or ecommerce heads ‘owned’ search. Now, of course, it’s seen as a broad sales and marketing discipline and is integrated (or should be) to every part of the business, depending on what outcome you’re trying to achieve. Communicators use search to support campaigns; as do advertisers; as do marketing heads in launching a new product; as do customer support teams to help people looking to resolve an issue; and so on.  It fits into the overall business strategy.

The same will happen with social media. Every department in the business will ‘own’ part of it. PR / comms are becoming much more social. Advertisers are using Facebook, or highly targeted social advertising, and incorporating social media to their campaigns (is the Meerkat advertising or comms, now Orlov has his own Twitter feed?). Search is becoming social; BT Care is a great example of customer service over Twitter; and you can sell through Facebook.

The ‘who owns what’ debate is completely irrelevant. More to the point - where are your audiences, and what do they want to do over what channel? Ultimately, consumers own social media, and it’s up to businesses to respond accordingly.