Social Media Week Bingo - Play NOW!

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It's Social Media Week! To celebrate, we've put together this very special print-out-then-cut-out-then-keep-then-throw-away-after-a-few-days SMW bingo card. The rules are pretty simple:

1. Click to enlarge the image below.

2. Print out then cut out then... you get the idea.

3. Attend as many events as possible at your friendly neighbourhood conference.

4. When you see things, tick them off on your card. Not any old things though - just the things featured on the card. Don't tick off a pretty rainbow or a worrying mole on your forehead.

5. As soon as you've ticked off all 16 things on the card, shout "I'm a winner!"

6. Feel very good about yourself.

7. Contact us about about your prize.

8. Feel sad about there not being a prize.

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Enjoy, and we'll see you down the front, moshing to Gartner's keynote on big data.


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Sorry, Hubspot. Social media is NOTHING like sex.

Social Media Is Nothing Like Sex

I just stumbled upon an old blog post from the fine ladies and gentlemen at Hubspot, trying to convince me that Social Media Is A Lot Like Sex.

It's not. And here's 10 reasons why...

  • Social media is all about doing it in public.

  • 57% of marketers have acquired customers via blogging. Fewer than 52% of them have acquired customers via sex. Possibly significantly fewer.

  • It's okay to charge for social media.

  • And it's fine to tweet your siblings.

  • Almost eight new people come onto the internet every second. (This one doesn't really work, but it made us snigger.)

  • Social media spreads the word. Sex just spreads cooties.

  • The average UK user spends over 26 minutes on Facebook every day. If there's an equivalent stat for sex then no wonder our economy's in a mess.

  • The average Twitter user has 27 followers, but most of the ones who follow @KimKardashian have zero sexual partners.

  • 42% of employers say no to any use of social media in the workplace. Yeah, even at the office Christmas party. Prudes.

  • My wife enjoys social media.


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Social in 2014 is just like the web in 1996

If social media existed in the '90s

Take a look at your favourite brand's Facebook page. It's pretty mature, isn't it? It's well managed, it's active, those guys really know what they're doing. And it's not just Facebook - look at the way businesses use Twitter, Google Plus, Pinterest and a million other tools. Social has definitely come of age.

And then step back and put all this into context. It might seem like we've reached an end-point, like we've gone as far as we possibly can but, in truth, we've only just begun to scratch the surface of social's potential. How do we know that? Because it's happened before - with the birth of e-commerce.

Back in the early to mid '90s, the only corporates who saw a business use for the web were the marketing guys. Excited by this dynamic new platform, they were the ones who established websites for their brands. But the new tech didn't automatically deliver a new way of thinking and, consequently, these websites were little more than online versions of the print brochures and corporate resources they were already producing, coupled with some touchy-feely fun for the customers.

ASDA's website in 1996 offered everything from jobs and recipes to java games to entertain their customers. The one thing it didn't offer, though, was the ability to buy things. The UK supermark ASDA's website in 1996 offered everything from jobs and recipes to java games to entertain their customers. The one thing it didn't offer, though, was the ability to buy things.

Meanwhile, pioneers like Pegasus (who set up the world's first online travel agency, and now power giants like Ebookers, Orbitz, Lastminute and Hotwire), eBay and Amazon had identified an infinitely greater potential for the web - the ability to sell direct to customers, any time day or night, anywhere in the world, disintermediating traditional retail, shaving overheads to a bare minimum, reinventing shopping forever. These pioneers invented a whole new channel - e-commerce - and the reward for their innovation was 20+ years of dominance. Brands and traditional retailers are still paying the price for their tardiness back in the '90s, and you only have to look at what's recently happened to the likes of HMV and Jessops to see how costly that price has been.

The same thing will emphatically happen with social. We're still in the mid '90s when it comes to how brands interact with their customers via social. It's a toe in the water - something for marketers to play with. Just like the brochure sites of old, corporate social outposts collate information for their customers, they engage them with fun distractions (competitions, polls, Pinterest boards, pictures of fluffy kittens to share), they stick a flag in the sand for their brands.

But the future will only arrive when social expands beyond the social media we're playing with now, or even the social media marketing people assume is cutting edge. The inevitable, essential future is Social Commerce - shopping where we socialise, buying things with our friends, accessing offers and exclusives via viral networks, influencing the price and nature of products with our collective, social voice.

The question, though, is whether brands and retailers will make the same fatal mistake they made 20 years ago and allow someone else to corner the market before they can get so much as a foot in the door. There's still time to act, but the next six months are going to be fascinating to watch.


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Going, going, gone. What's going to happen to retail when the sales are over?

Sale Ends Today

Oh, Banksy. Always bang on the money with your witty observations (although - ironic art fact! - this oil on canvas swipe at consumerism didn't actually sell when Sotheby's tried to auction it in 2008). We are totally obsessed with sales, which is why it comes as no surprise that everyone from Buckingham Palace to the 99p Store chain is knocking off money quicker than the late Ronnie Biggs (incidentally, how do 99p Stores have sales?!).

Unsurprisingly, that's led to a slightly busier high street than usual (though not everywhere, it seems), but let's not kid ourselves here: people aren't shopping because the recession's over and they're merrily splashing the cash. They're stockpiling in preparation for the moment the sales end, making sure they have everything they need before that 80% off is actually off.

At which point, everything's likely to get rather bleak.

Traditionally, the post-sales period between leading up to Easter has been retail's time to experiment: click-and-collect, loyalty cards, even the world's first ever online store (1992's Book Stacks Unlimited) all came into being during Februaries past (as did the mobile internet and Facebook, incidentally). So now's definitely the time to plan something fresh and innovative.

The


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2014: the year social media management grows the hell up

2014: the year social media grows the hell up

This is our fourth prediction for 2014. For our other predictions, click here.

Everybody's favourite Page on Facebook is Condescending Corporate Brand Page. If you're not a fan, stop reading this (just for a second!) and go get clicky. They post things like this: More genius

Brutal genius. But C.C.B.P.'s war against meaningless 'engagement' by brands too scared to admit they're trying to sell stuff isn't just funny, it's gut-punchingly insightful. For far too long, social media managers have been chasing utterly meaningly metrics (engagement, likes, sharing) in a desperate race to the bottom. The tail isn't just wagging the dog, it's started bashing Fido violently against the nearest wall until he's had to be put down for his own good.

So, blam. Here's the humane injection, the brutal truth: if you do the social media for a brand who sell things, your job is to sell things. There is only one metric you should care about: how many sales have your posts generated? Cute kitten pictures may get liked and shared like crazy, but they've never, ever sold a bottle of multivitamins. And, trust us, your CEO will be on the warpath in 2014, looking for cold,


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