Highlights from day 1 of #iStrategy London

I’m spending a couple of days this week at the iStrategy digital media conference. Whilst my current role is not strictly concerned with marketing, elements of it have led me to describe myself as a “geek marketeer” in the past and I hope that I’ll be able to do so again in the future. Either way, I live and breathe “digital” and we all need to be something of a marketeer these days…

iStrategy attracts a broad range of marketing professionals and executives from all sectors (a quick glance at a few badges shows a wide range of brands that we would all recognise) and, equally, features some high calibre speakers. Its multi-stream approach is both a blessing (allowing delegates to attend the sessions that mean most to them) and a curse (inevitably some sessions run up against one another but this post gives a rundown of some of the highlights from the sessions I attended yesterday.

The social media brandsphere

Kicking off the event, Adam Burns (@AdamRobertBurns) welcomed us to Stamford Bridge, home of the newly-crowned European Champions, Chelsea FC, before international speaker and author Brian Solis (@BrianSolis) spoke about what he calls “frictionless sharing”. I’ve heard Brian speak before and he is certainly entertaining and engaging but the subtext to his talk is “buy my book”, giving just enough to whet the appetite but not enough to make anything real (some might say that’s smart).

I’ll probably write a more complete blog post over the next few days but, in short, Brian suggests that:

  • We have lost our way in digital media, confusing brand engagement metrics with likes/comments/shares whilst missing the true metrics which are about how people feel and engage.
  • The challenge for digital marketers is to design a form of engagement which provides a worthwhile interaction, to make today’s more discerning “connected consumers” come back and to get them talking/sharing your content.
  • Context is now king: mobile and web, online and offline need to work together seamlessly because, whether we like it or not, customers contribute to the state of our brands simply by sharing their experiences.
  • Great content is consumable; and great social content is sharable – alwyas think about relevance, resonance and significance. What we say is far less important than what we do.

Mobile first, exploiting the potential of the mobile economy

The next session was a panel discussion about the use of mobile technology in marketing. I’m not a fan of these panel discussions and I’m sure I wasn’t the only one in the audience checking his email etc. as five people sat on the stage chatting amongst themselves with very little audience interaction…

The most useful points (for me) can be pretty much summed up with a tweet:

Yes! Apps vs. HTML5: not an either/or; make mobile site work (concentrate on UX); mobile accessible; apps about rich experience #iStrategy
@markwilsonit
Mark Wilson

(I’m not sure, but I think most of that was based on comments from Mastercard’s James Davlouros (@james_davlouros).

The (real) value of social media

Introduced by Alistair Beattie (@bicameralman) from Tribal DDB, this break-out session was a workshop looking aiming to ”look beyond the value of media in social media.” and to reconnect with the importance of the social graph, and with marketing as a whole.

Re-enforcing some of the messages from Brian Solis’ keynote, Alistair highlighted:

  • Interaction: the 200 top brands only get 1.3% interaction on Facebook and other social platforms – and that’s likes, commenting is even lower.
  • Reach: fans are only a small portion of the available market – and pages naturally reach just 5-20% of those fans.
  • Loyalty and advocacy: purchasing frequency doesn’t increase after becoming a fan – and, because of a phenomenon known as edgerank, likes aren’t actually seen by 250 friends – the real number is closer to 16 as not all friends will see that status update.

Regardless of the above, social media is still a powerful medium. When considered with the “Four Ps” of promotion, product, price and place we can use the social graph to improve connections and the session broke out into groups looking at how to apply this principle to a second tier shoe brand looking to retain and attract 16-24 year-olds to its brand.

Open innovation: how EMI learned to love APIs

Betrand Bodson (@bbod)’s case study session was another one that warrants a more complete examination in a separate blog post – and I found it very interesting to hear how EMI Music has managed to create an environment for open innovation (OpenEMI) in a market sector that is traditionally considered slow to adopt new business models.

By creating a secure, managed environment (a “sandbox”) for developers who have signed up to OpenEMI, the company provides a brief and content to for the creation of commercial apps for iOS, Android and the web.

The system is based on a partnership approach with regular reviews and a 60/40 revenue split between EMI and the developer/platform owner:

  • Developers are responsible for the apps, engineering, product development, upgrades and maintenance.
  • EMI provides content, manages the clearance with rights holders, and markets the app
  • The EchoNest provides a technical platform and tools, intelligence on app trends, and facilitates the creation of a network of developers.

Incidentally, one of the other case studies in the same slot examined at how Macdonalds used crowdsourcing in Germany for its Make Your Own Burger campaign – and the challenges that presents to the business if adopted more widely. I would have liked to have heard that talk, but there’s only one of me so I can only be in one place at one time! Nevertheless everyone I spoke to who attended seemed to find it interesting.

Social unleashed: unlocking the transformative power of social media

After a pitch-side lunch, the afternoon keynote was probably the biggest disappointment of the day and, based on the RTs I received, I was not alone in my view that hijacking a keynote to promote your product is unacceptable – even if you have paid a lot of money to sponsor an event.

In fairness to Wildfire’s Doug Laird (@dougbytes) he was a substitute speaker but instead of using the keynote as an opportunity to be a thought leader he simply marketed Wildfire’s social media marketing platform and, ultimately, put me off any future engagement.

If “earned media” is the holy grail of social media marketing – exposure via word of mouth marketing – maybe 13,000 brands can’t be wrong but it all felt a little “me, me, me”:

Adaptive brands: delivering contextual value in a shifting world

In what was probably the best session I attended at the first day of iStrategy, Neil Clemmons (@neilclemmons) from Critical Mass got me on board right from the start when he said that everyone has a list with two columns: urgent (those things you need to do to hit your numbers) and important (those things that will become urgent if you ignore them).

Neil’s presentation was about the “important” things and examined how the 4Ps (used in the morning session on the value of social media) no longer apply – how brands need to adopt new attributes to adapt to a changing market as the emphasis moves from product to service to serving.

Much better than any synopsis from me, Neil’s team had his slides on Slideshare soon after he finished – and I recommend you take a look:

(It struck me as a little odd that fewer speakers are sharing their decks this way – after all this is a digital marketing conference…)

[At this point I missed Didier Drogba being interviewed an photographed on the pitch about his impending departure from Stamford Bridge!]

#istrategy Drogba on the pitch. Might be the last time we see him here. Id like £250k a week! http://t.co/ooOfGvax
@RobertArwel
Robert Arwel Hughes

Data and creativity: the near future of display advertising

Micheal Steckler’s session was full of insight into the future of display advertising as the data held on each of us allows for more personal approach.

Michaels own final thoughts make a good summary in that:

  • The data you own is still the most powerful.
  • Consider that most activity is talking to existing users online.
  • Differentiate creative, offer and pricing by user group (this is the future of display ads).
  • Use sophistication to marry data insight and creativity.

The social club

Hosted by Adam Burns, the final session of the day actually made the panel discussion format work (more chat-show style than discussion around the table). Some of the highlights from Gillian Muessig (@SEOmom), Kerry Bridge (@KerryatDell) and Azeem Azhar (@Azeem) were:

  • Corporate values have to match brand values – we can tie employees up with social media guidelines but not their friends, family – or our customers… and they will talk about their experiences.
  • When people come to your “place” to discuss something (your website, your blog, etc.) then you are the centre of the conversation… be that place for your industry or topic…
  • Dell trains employes in social media just as they do for presentations…
  • For proof that word of mouth is real – Telenord found that if someone has a frind with an iPhone, they are twice as likely to buy one themselves within the next 90 days. If they have two iPhone-toting friends, they are five time more likely – and that’s based on real world conversation (not social), together with Telenord’s insight nto phone data (i.e. who calls who).
  • We are putting more online… expect to see more companies seamlessly segment users – not as rough as influence engines but in same way might by, for example, postcode, today…
  • We often compare influence scores with credit scores but Experian would never disclose your credit score – that’s a key difference with influence engines (and credit is due to Azeem for his transparency and honesty in highlighting this!)

End of day 1

At the end of day 1, I have mixed feelings about iStrategy. As an event it has a lot of potential, but I’m not convinced the mix is quite right (maybe, given the early start, providing some breakfast might have put me in a better mood!) – and I’ve already given my views on Wildfire’s abuse of the afternoon keynote. Even so, I got a lot of value from some of the other sessions, so it can’t have been all bad – and I am writing this on my way back to London for day 2 after all! Watch this space for highlights from day 2 (and some more of the detail from day 1 too).

Short takes: tl;dr; online influence (#digitalsurrey); and the Internet of things (#cloudcamp)

It’s been another crazy week without any time for blogging so here are some quick highlights from the stuff I would like to have written about (and still might, time permitting!)

tl;dr

I was reading one of Matthew Baxter-Reynold’s articles on the Guardian website a few days ago and he gave a summary of the key points under the heading tl;dr.  I hadn’t seen that before but it turns out it’s an Internet meme – tl;dr is an abbreviation for “too long; didn’t read” – something that I suspect many of my blog posts suffer from. Maybe I’ll start including a tl;dr section in future…

Return on Influence

On Tuesday evening, Mark W Schaefer (@MarkWSchaefer) spoke at Digital Surrey about the use of influence marketing on the web. It was an enlightening talk and certainly something to consider as organisations increasingly judge our online influence in deciding how to (or whether to) react to and interact with us. My personal view is that Klout and its ilk are over-rated (Klout in particular is very much led by volume of online activity – if I go on holiday for a few days, my Klout takes a hit) but, if I were to give a “tl;dr” view on Mark’s talk it would probably include this diagram:

  1. Surround yourself with people who care about you (and your views) and have a pre-disposition to “move” (i.e. like, retweet, advertise, etc.) your content.
  2. Create unique and interesting content – have something to say (in order to make it “move”) – make it relevant, interesting, timely and entertaining.
  3. Be consistent in engagement – not just broadcasting but being authentically helpful and looking for opportunities to interact.

Common sense? Perhaps – but it’s how Mark suggests we build influence.  Read more in Mark’s book – Return On Influence: The Revolutionary Power of Klout, Social Scoring, and Influence Marketing.

(Jas Dhariwal has made a recording of Mark’s talk available.)

The Internet of things

The Internet of what? Well, depending on your source of technology reading material, you might have head that we’re increasingly connecting lots of “things” to the Internet – sensors, for example – and Wednesday saw a CloudCamp Special in London on The Internet of things. As usual, the evening was introduced by Simon Wardley (@swardley) with his well-practiced (but still interesting) talk on the cycle of innovation leading up to his vision of “augmented intelligence” supported by utility computing (cloud), big data, and intelligent mobile applications.

Then, onto the lightning talks with: Andy Bennet (@databasescaling)’s introduction to the Internet of things (it’s not new!); Raphael Cohn’s fascinating recital of how Smith Electric Vehicles overcame a major business issue in that “electric trucks rule, but batteries suck, and mobiles die”; Kuan Hon (@kuan0)’s rundown on cookie laws (which have a much broader impact than just websites); Paul Downey intruducing us to the wonderful world of open source hardware (which is far more extensive than I ever imagined); and Chris Swan (@cpswan)’s review of the Internet of Things in some of his favourite science fiction novels. Oh yes, a a couple of guys from Betfair stood up and tried to plug their new application cloud, which I’m sure is very good but seemed a little too like a vendor pitch to me…

Wrapping up with a panel discussion, before beer and pizza, it was a thoroughly agreeable way to spend the evening and I learned loads about the Internet of things… hopefully I’ll write some more on the topic over the coming weeks.

Using LinkedIn as a B2B social media platform (#smwmecsocial #smwldn)

Yesterday, I wrote about an event I’d attended as part of Social Media Week London, hosted by MEC Global, looking at thought leadership and B2B social media. For reasons of brevity, I skipped over much of LinkedIn‘s presentation in my original post but it provided a lot of insights that I would like to share… so here’s the follow-up!

LinkedIn’s Colin Smith was talking about the role of social in a digital ecosystem and he started out by saying that social media in 2011 was a bit of a knee-jerk reaction to an emerging audience, with organisations testing campaigns and activity, predicting that 2012 will be the year when social gets down to business.

Brands are now what people say they are, and:

“The impact of social media is far-reaching,well beyond how we connect with our friends.It has changed how we work. It is changing how we make markets. It has, critically, re-leveled the playing field.”

[George Gallate, Global Chairman, Euro RSCG 4D]

Citing various statistics from a recent CIM/Ipsos ASI study (Social Media Benchmark), Colin Smith highlighted that:

  • Consumers want to be engaged in a conversation – not sold to.
  • Brands are now what people say they are.
  • Business is evolving – moving from transactional to relational. This affects the speed to close deals, the size of those deals and the length of the relationship.
  • Liking, sharing and commenting are all emotions – we need to build an emotional relationship with our customers [I agree: people buy from people – not brands, although there are some brands that will always be considered “safe bets”].
  • Decision cycles in B2B take longer than in B2C – longevity makes a difference in the relationship.
  • People will, on average, follow just 2.8 companies in a given sector, but 50% will follow a company in perpetuity – so you want to your brand to be in that 2.8!
  • Don’t forget that your staff  have profiles, engage with, and are probably connected to competitors and customers – people will check what your staff profiles look like.
  • Sometimes you’ll know that someone is talking about you, sometimes you don’t – some reactions will be negative and some positive.

It’s important to consider that customers have [LinkedIn – and other social network] profiles too. Before they come to meetings they will check out yours, your staff, your company page, what people are saying and come armed – you need to do the same. They follow, like, share, comment – and expect engagement. They connect to your staff and communicate with them. And they will trust you if communicate and share useful information.

  • Social hygiene is about the ways in which people [your audience: customers; staff; business partners] expect you to engage. It’s about having an authentic voice and sharing. Businesses have a challenge to be open, authentic, honest, engaging.
  • Don’t just ask an agency to do this – it needs to go to the core of the business – the CEO, or others who are senior enough and have the credibility [and charisma] to speak on behalf of a brand.
  • Think about social media in the context of employment – it reflects your brand (even if you don’t employ someone they may make buying decisions elsewhere).

Colin gave some advice for engaging on LinkedIn:

  • Engagement starts with creating a presence, for example, a company page built out on LinkedIn. Many of these are generated through algorithms so claim yours and make it say what you need it to.
  • Once you have the presence right, think about who want to attract (think about a specific audience – CEOs, CIOs, procurement advisors, etc.) – LinkedIn can target specific audiences. Samsung ran a LinkedIn campaign and gained 20000 followers in 3 days. Mercedes were looking at just the C-suite and gained 12000 followers in 5 weeks. These are not just big numbers, they are highly targetted and therefore the reach is potentially significant.
  • Continue to engage through company status updates – provide value at scale. LinkedIn has found that 45% would like weekly updates.
  • Amplify – as with engagement, think who followers are connected to (LinkedIn average is 151 connections per person).
  • The only cost is building a content strategy, the hard bit is acquiring followers.
  • Groups can be used to position a company as a thought leader in an existing conversation or a topic that’s important. For example, Statoil is facilitating a conversation for people to talk about energy innovation. A strategy for content will be required when the group is first started (initial 3-6 months) after which it should take on a life of its own.

Involving your brand in a social conversation

Finally, Colin gave some tips for better use of LinkedIn [although many of these could equally be applied to other channels]:

  1. Improve your company page to attract a more relevant audience.
  2. Consider engagement with followers – questions and topics to seed into a group.
  3. Members expect insights and news from companies they follow: 66% expect industry insight; 65% expect upcoming company news (advance information before it hits the press); 45% expect the opportunity to join a group; 45% expect sneak peeks of upcoming products and services; and 43% desire inclusion in a community with similar interests.
  4. Interrogate the social hygiene of your company.
  5. Work across departments so that all customer-facing departments have profiles that are relevant to your company – make sure your brand is represented across the board with links to company pages, blogs, etc. Think about whether modifying a LinkedIn profile is part of the induction process for new employees – and, equally, what people say when they leave.

As an individual, I don’t use LinkedIn as a daily destination – it’s still about professional networking for me. For daily conversations, I prefer the immediacy of Twitter (besides, some of my tweets are more suitable for that audience – and the frequency would  just be too high for LinkedIn) but I took a lot away from this presentation about how brands might better engage on the platform.

One thing’s for sure, as MEC’s Shane O’Byrne highlighted at yesterday’s event, B2B social media requires effort on the part of the company, and cannot just be left to an agency. That means applying resource, possibly dedicated, but certainly as part of their work (not as an add-on to do “in their spare time”) to generate content that makes an audience want to engage.  That’s been the challenge that I’ve struggled with in my own work on corporate blogs and other B2B social media activities over the last couple of years – and making a B2B brand become “social” is a lot more work than simply setting up a few accounts on major platforms…

Thought leadership and B2B social media (#smwmecsocial #smwldn)

This week is Social Media Week in London and there are a lot of events taking place at a variety of locations. I’m not London-based, but I do work there for a couple of days each week and I booked onto some that look particularly relevant to my role – the first of which was hosted by the social media team at MEC Global (@MECsocial), looking at thought leadership and the role of social media in B2B communications.

To be honest, it was a bit light in places on the “thought leadership” angle (MEC covered this, the invited guests less so) but I was pleased to see someone taking a serious look at B2B social media. In my experience most of the “advice” given at events like this is very B2C (or even C2C)-focused and when asking about specific challenges for B2B it’s often brushed under the carpet.

With presentations from MEC Global, LinkedIn and the Telegraph Media Group, followed by a panel discussion, there was a lot of information provided but I’d like to concentrate on just a few highlights.

Organisational considerations for social media

MEC’s Shane O’Byrne (@shaneysean) opened up the event with some organisational considerations for B2B social media. Taking the view that, in stark contrast to B2C (which is 80% agency, 20% client), B2B social media requires more client input (the 80:20 split is reversed), with the agency helping organisations to deliver thought leadership externally. Considerations include:

  • Hard vs. soft approach.
  • Thought leadership.
  • Lead generation.
  • C-suite.
  • Sales.
  • Credibility.
  • Prospect.

And, whilst Shane didn’t go into detail (after all, he’s showing just an insight – let’s call it thought leadership – maybe I should engage with MEC for more detail), in general, it’s about bringing people into a community, thinking about when to approach and move them down the pipeline, and shaping conversations with potential clients rather than selling.

Thought leadership may include advice about the marketplace, culture, political landscape, and even some “crystal ball” gazing; and Shane has seen success in organisations who have found the right seniority of stakeholders using a social media council – working as experts to nurture talent and expertise, turning that into rich content for digital ecosystem.

That digital ecosystem was a topic of conversation for LinkedIn’s Colin Smith and, I’ll hold back on that for a future blog post but Richard Fitzgerald, also from MEC (@fitzyrichard) spoke about the need to avoid treating social media in isolation – integrating with other channels.

Richard recommends setting a mission statement – whether that is a philosophy, a brand campaign, a goal, or a business objective, and building on top of that.  In terms of time allocation, a rough split might be:

  • 70% resource planning, data and insights, content audits, market analysis, futures studies (what are people expecting to hear about?).
  • 20% community management – engagement strategy, moderation guidelines, escalation documents, editorial guidelines, content calendars.
  • 10% for the unpredictable – breaking news, crisis management, reactive content, real time engagement and tactical campaigns.

Social is another means of communication, to be ignored at your peril

Matthew Margetts and Jonathan Davies spoke about the Telegraph Media Group’s experiences of social media, which they regard as another means of communicating and not as superseding a web presence or any other form of communication.

I was particularly interested to hear about their experience of digital media consumption. The Telegraph Media Group is a brand, a content provider and it has commercial solutions (with declining newspaper sales but new markets including competition applications, social video, bespoke applications and Twitter). And, on that last point – Twitter as a channel:

1.6m people consume @ content every day - a further million on Twitter (not monetised: http://t.co/DVDc7z9V) #smwmecsocial #smwldn
@markwilsonit
Mark Wilson

That shows that Twitter should not be ignored and, although monetising the output might be a challenge, there are opportunities to establish presence, create a groundswell of opinion, establish oneself as a thought leader, and become a recognised (and respected) brand – all of which have positive effects later – even if they don’t lead to direct sales.

Pick your channels with care; and who owns that social profile?

The event finished up with a panel discussion and there were two main areas of interest for me here.

Firstly, there’s a lot of talk about relative sizes of social networks (Facebook is huge, Twitter is pretty big too, Google+ may be significant too, and LinkedIn is relatively small) but then think about the audience that you are targetting.

Think about context for B2B socmed. LinkedIn connects professionals but only 640m professionals in world, 12.5m in UK #smwmecsocial #smwldn
@markwilsonit
Mark Wilson

This tweet is based on information given by Colin Smith from LinkedIn and, whilst it clearly plays into LinkedIn’s market position (connecting professional people), I think it makes a powerful point: perhaps the majority of those 800m people on Facebook are not actually your target audience?  Perhaps Saleforce.com Chatter might serve an organisation well, in a B2B context?

Finally, who owns your social profiles? Well, I’m pretty determined that I own my LinkedIn presence, this blog, my Twitter stream, etc., many of which predate my employment, but a communications director might take a different view, said the panel!  One argument is that you learned the points that you communicated whilst you were working for the company (but do we? Some might argue that we build personal brands, based on experience with a variety of roles and employments). There may be cultural differences between personal and company accounts and Matthew Margetts highlighted that The Telegraph has guidelines but, equally, it employs “contrarian thinkers who are encouraged to give their opinions”. Maybe some brands are threatened by the rise of the “personal brand” – that will depend on the company and the market. One thing’s for sure – this particular issue is far from clear cut and looks set to become more and more significant, most likely to be settled in the courts…

Is this how to handle customer complaints on social media? Really?

There’s an old adage about how

“a happy customer tells one friend, and unhappy customer tells everybody”

I have a bad habit of telling the world (well, 1500-odd people on Twitter and a few thousand more via my blog) when something doesn’t work out for me and, over the weekend, it was Three UK (3) whose inability to supply me with a password to access my account online resulted in this tweet:

Ineptitude just cost @ a customer. Can't view bill except over 3G on iPad; can't set password for web access without visiting store
@markwilsonit
Mark Wilson

I’m certainly no celebrity and I don’t expect every company to roll over when I act like a petulant teenager, but they could at least try to address my issue. Couldn’t they?

To be fair to Three, their online team @ThreeUK (which is clear about its online hours: Monday-Friday, 9am to 5.30pm) responded but their response simply bounced me to another Twitter account operated by the company:

@ We have a CS team on Twitter too, @ - it may be worth a tweet.
@ThreeUK
ThreeUK

They also responded to another tweet of mine arising from a discussion about the issue with one of my Twitter contacts:

@ We do care! I hope are CS tweeters can assist you.
@ThreeUK
ThreeUK

Ignoring the grammar, if you care about customer service, what happened to owning the customer’s problem and managing it to resolution?

Clearly Three have (at least) two Twitter accounts operated by two teams: marketing and customer service. That’s OK, but they don’t seem to be able to take a problem inside the organisation to work out the best approach – they simply bounce me from one to the other. Oh dear.

So I got in touch with @ThreeUKSupport

.@ Would be interesting to see your comments on http://t.co/22WmvbWe (@ seem to be marketing-focused)
@markwilsonit
Mark Wilson

and a reply came back soon enough but it merely repeated what I already know – that their process is broken…

@ I'm afraid currently you can either view My3 via your iPad or you need to put your sim in a phone that takes a micro-sim to...
@ThreeUKSupport
ThreeUKSupport
@ ...be able to receive the text message
@ThreeUKSupport
ThreeUKSupport

…absolutely no response to my issues:

“My issues here are: having to pay to speak to a customer service agent and being kept on hold for a while; getting poor advice from the agent (unless Three can tell me how to drag and drop my bill from their portal to my email, on an iPad); and not getting an answer to my problem. Visiting a store is simply not worth the effort (20-odd mile drive, pay for parking, an hour of my time) – but could well lose Three a customer.”

I even threw them a lifeline:

@ Thank you for responding... even if both you and @ have failed on the customer service front...
@markwilsonit
Mark Wilson

Nothing from @ThreeUK, and a “yeah, whatever” (I paraphrase) from @ThreeUKSupport:

@ You're welcome. I'm sorry you feel we've failed you.
@ThreeUKSupport
ThreeUKSupport

Now, I know that implementing social media for large corporates is bloody hard. I tried – and there is a lot that we can do better where I work too… people in glass houses and all that… but this is me, responding as an individual, not as an employee, so hear me out, please.

  • Firstly, if you want to operate a corporate Twitter account (or any other “social” account), be ready to deal with complaints. For support, be ready to direct people to official channels but for customer service issues, then a little more tact and diplomacy might be required.
  • Secondly, if a customer outlines multiple issues to which they would like a response, it’s OK to ask them to supply some contact details so that you can get in touch and investigate further.
  • Finally, if all you do is provide stock answers then you’ll annoy a customer who is already unhappy with your company’s service.

For whomever is responsible for social media at Three, there’s a really good book I can recommend: it’s called “Empowered” and it’s written by Forrester analysts Josh Bernoff (@jbernoff) and Ted Schadler (@TedSchadler). The book talks about groundswell customer service and provides real-world examples of how innovative leaders and their teams use technology to solve customer problems… it’s definitely worth a read. And Forrester released a report yesterday entitled “Twitter: the public forum for your brand”. If you don’t have access to the report, it’s author, Melissa Parrish (@melissarparrish) has some great blog posts about the use of Twitter too.

Incidentally, Sainsbury’s, another company that recently incurred my wrath on Twitter after failing to follow up on a customer service email about the quality of the groceries they had delivered a few days previously deserves mention for fixing my issue. Their social media team took action to get my enquiry dealt with and compensated me for the problems I had experienced. Arguably, that is how to respond… Three’s example is how not to…

I started this post with a quote, so I’ll finish with another:

“Customers don’t expect you to be perfect. They do expect you to fix things when they go wrong.”

[Donald Porter, British Airways]

[Update 16 January 2012: Three have been in touch and would like to make it clear that they do care about their customers on Twitter. I’m still disappointed about how my calls and social media follow-up were handled, but it is good to know that they are at least attempting to improve the experience that their customers receive via social media.]

12 tips for digital marketers (@allisterf at #digitalsurrey)

In yesterday’s post about marketing in a digital world, I mentioned Allister Frost’s 12 tips for marketers but didn’t go into the details. You can find them at the back of his deck on SlideShare but I took some notes too so I’ve added them here:

  1. Invest in social leadership and social players – it may be you, or it may be somebody else who sets the strategic direction but find people with energy and enthusiasm to make it happen. Do not confuse the two roles: if you’re the social leader don’t play as you’ll lose sight of the strategy.
  2. Invest in tools and expertise – ask tough questions of vendors selling tools.
  3. Develop your social recommendation optimisation (SRO) strategy – optimise everything so it become recommended through social channels. Not to be confused with social media optimisation (SMO) which is short-sighted (too focused on channels).
  4. Listen, then engage – don’t assume you know the answers – understand the channel first.
  5. Answer the social telephone – if a phone was ringing, you would pick it up so treat social in the same way to avoid losing opportunities.
  6. Moderate wisely – if you don’t, your brand can become associated with spam.
  7. Create social objects – think about how they get to customers. May be a video, a white paper, or something else…
  8. Make it better when shared – thank, reward and encourage.
  9. Handpick your interfaces – go and find the channels where your audience is.
  10. Be remarkable – do things that people remark upon.
  11. Show some personality – there is a balance between appearing as the juvenile delinquent or the company robot and you can move – just don’t stay at the extremes.
  12. Fail fast, learn faster – continuously pilot-test (again and again…)

Marketing in a digital world (@allisterf at #digitalsurrey)

Last Thursday was Digital Surrey night and this month’s speaker was Allister Frost, Head of Digital Marketing Strategy at Microsoft.  Allister gave an engaging talk on “doing marketing in a digital world” and, whilst there might have been a couple of things I wasn’t entirely convinced of, I’m not a marketing professional (even if I spend a good chunk of my day in what could be described as marketing) so I’ll defer to those with more experience.

Allister has kindly shared his slides, along with some supporting materials – which makes my task of blogging about the evening a lot easier, but I decided to have a play with Storify for this one:

I’m in two minds about this approach to curating the information from the evening… it took just as long as writing a blog post and all of Google’s (sorry, Bing’s) link love goes to another site… but it was worth a try (and it’s definitely a great tool when most of the content is already spread around the web). If you have any content from the evening that I missed, please get in touch and I’ll add it to the story.

Computer Weekly Social Media Awards 2011

This time last year I was pestering blog readers and Twitter followers to vote for markwilson.it in the Computer Weekly IT Blog awards and I was surprised (and absolutely stoked) to win the Individual IT Professional (Male) category.  This time around I haven’t entered as an individual but I do have a favour to ask…

As part of my day job last year, I launched Fujitsu’s blog platform for the UK and Ireland. Although I handed the platform over to our marketing teams following incubation, the CTO Blog is still my baby and I edit most of the content (although I do try to ensure it’s written by others).

One year on, I’m pleased to say that our CTO Blog has been shortlisted for what is now known as the Computer Weekly Social Media Awards and I’d like to ask for your support again:

  1. If you don’t currently read the blog, please check it out.
  2. And if you like what you see, please consider voting for “David Smith/Fujitsu CTO Blog” in the CIO/IT Director Category.

It’d be pretty cool to win an award again, and a great finish to the year for me at work…

The 2011 Computer Weekly Social Media Awards

Just over a year ago, we launched the Fujitsu UK and Ireland CTO Blog – written by our Chief Innovation and Technology Officer, David Smith. It’s always been our intention to draw on a combination of external go-to-market and internal IT capability knowledge to produce content that translates IT trends into potential business value but one thing I’m particularly proud of is that we do not use external writers – what you read here is written by David or by one of his team.

QR code for Computer Weekly Social Media AwardsNow I’m pleased to say that we’ve been shortlisted for the 2011 Computer Weekly Social Media Awards so I’d like to ask for your support.  If you appreciate what we’re doing, please vote for David Smith/Fujitsu CTO Blog in the CIO/IT Director category (either by clicking on the link or by scanning the QR code on this post).

Whilst I’m sure that there will be many people supporting us, I’m equally convinced that there are some things we could do better. With that in mind, if you have feedback that might help us provide better insights and add more value through this blog, then please do leave a comment – we really would like to know what you think.

Thank you for all of your support.

[This post originally appeared on the Fujitsu UK and Ireland CTO Blog.]

From snapshots to social media – the changing picture of photography (@davidfrohlich at #digitalsurrey)

My visits to Surrey seem to be getting more frequent… earlier tonight I was in Reigate, at Canon‘s UK headquarters for another great Digital Surrey talk.

The guest speaker was Professor David Frohlich (@davidfrohlich) from the University of Surrey Digital World Research Centre, who spoke about the changing picture of photography and the relationship between snapshots and social media, three eras of domestic photography, the birth and death of the album and lessons for social media innovation.

I often comment that I have little time for photography these days and all I do is “take snapshots of the kids” but my wife disagrees – she’s far less critical of my work and says I take some good pictures. It was interesting to see a definition of a snapshot though, with it’s origins in 1860’s hunting and “shooting from the hip” (without careful aim!). Later it became “an amateur photograph” so I guess yes, I do mainly take snapshots of the kids!

Professor Frohlich spoke of three values of snapshots (from research by Richard Chalfen in 1987 and Christopher Musello in 1979):

  • Identity.
  • Memory (triggers – not necessarily of when the photograph was taken but of events around that time).
  • Communication.

He then looked at a definition of social media (i.e. it’s a media for social interaction) and suggested that photographs were an early form of social media (since integrated into newer forms)!

Another element to consider is that of innovation and, using Philip Anderson and Michael L Tushman’s 1990 theory as an example, he described how old technological paths hit disruption, there’s then an era of fermentation (i.e. discontinuous development) before a dominant design appears and things stabilise again.  In Geoff Mulgan’s 2007 Process of Social Innovation it’s simply described as new ideas that work, or changing practice (i.e. everyday behaviour).

This led to the discussion of three eras of domestic photography. Following the invention of photography (1830-1840) we saw:

  1. The portrait path [plate images] (1839-1888) including cartes-de-visite (1854-1870)
  2. The Kodak path [roll film] (1888-1990) from the Kodak No. 1 camera in 1888, through the first Polaroid camera (1947), colour film cartridges (1963) which was disrupted with the birth of electronic still video photography (1980-1990)
  3. The digital path (from 1990)

What we find is that the three values of snapshots overlay this perfectly (although the digital era also has elements of identity it is mainly about communication):

Whilst the inventor of the photograph is known (actually Fox-Talbot’s Calotype/Talbottype and Daguerre’s Daguerrotype were both patented in 1839), it’s less well-known who invented the album.

Professor Frohlich explained that the album came into being after people swapped cartes-de-visite (just like today’s photographic business cards!) which became popular around 1850 as a standard portrait sized at 2.5″ x 4″.  These cards could be of individuals, or even famous people (Abraham Lincoln, or Queen Victoria) and in 1854, Disderi’s camera allowed mass production of images with several on a single sheet of paper.  By 1860 albums had been created to store these cards – a development from an earlier past-time of collecting autographs and these albums were effectively filled with images of family, people who visited and famous people – just as Facebook is today!

The Kodak era commenced after George Eastman‘s patent was awarded on 4 September 1888 for a personalised camera which was more accessible, less complex than portrait cameras, and marketed to women around the concept of the Kodak family album.  Filled with images of “high days and holidays” – achievements, celebrations and vacations – these were the albums that most of us know (some of us still maintain) and the concept lasted for the next century (arguably it’s still in existence today, although increasingly marginalised).

Whilst there were some threats (like Polaroid images) they never quite changed the dominant path of photography. Later, as people became more affluent, there were more prints and people built up private archives with many albums and loose photographs (stored in cupboards – just as my many of my family’s are in our loft!).

As photography met ICT infrastructure, the things that we could do with photography expanded but things also became more complex, with a complex mesh involving PCs, printers and digital camera. Whilst some manufacturers cut out the requirement for a computer (with cameras communicating directly to printers), there were two inventions that really changed things: the camera phone and the Internet:

  • Camera phones were already communications-centric (from the phone element), creating a new type of content, that was more about communications than storing memories. In 2002, Turo-Kimmo Lehtonen, Ilpo Koskinen and Esko Kurvine studied the use of mobile digital pictures, not as images for an album but images to say “look where I am”. Whilst technologies such as MMS were not used as much as companies like Nokia expected [largely due to transmission costs imposed by networks] we did see an explosion in online sharing of images.
  • Now we have semi-public sharing, with our friends on Facebook (Google+, etc.) and even wider distribution on Flickr. In addition, photographs have become multimedia objects and Professor Frohlich experimented with adding several types of audio to still images in 2004 as digital story telling.

By 2008, Abigail Durrant was researching photographic displays and intergenerational relationships at home. She looked at a variety of display devices but, critically, found that there was a requirement for some kind of agreement as to what could be displayed where (some kind of meta rules for display).

Looking to the future there are many developments taking place that move beyond the album and on to the archive. Nowadays we have home media collections – could we end up browsing beautiful ePaper books that access our libraries?Could we even see the day where photographic images have a “birthday” and prompt us to remember things (e.g. do you remember when this image was taken, 3 years ago today?)

Professor Frohlich finished up with some lessons for social media innovation:

  • Innovation results from the interaction of four factors: practice; technology; business; and design.
  • Business positioning and social shaping are as important to innovation as technology and it’s design.
  • Social media evolve over long periods of time (so don’t give up if something doesn’t happen quickly).
  • Features change faster than practices and values (social networking is a partial return to identity – e.g. tagging oneself – and not just about communications).
  • Some ideas come around again (like the stereograph developing into 3D cinema).
  • Infrastructure and standards are increasingly key to success (for example, a standard image size).

I do admit to being in admiration of the Digital Surrey team for organising these events – in my three visits I’ve seen some great speakers. Hopefully, I’ve covered the main points from this event but Andy Piper (@andypiper) sums it up for me in a single tweet: