Category Archives: Social Media

Is Periscope on your radar?

There seems to have been quite a lot of noise about live video streaming services over the last week or so, since Twitter-owned Periscope launched, inviting us to “Explore the world through someone else’s eyes”.

Video streaming has been hitting the headlines since Meerkat was the talk of this year’s SXSW. I have to confess this totally passed me by, but as a Twitter user, I found out about the launch of Periscope so decided to have a look and see what it was all about.

If you’ve not had chance to download and have a play yet, here are some screen grabs from the iOS app (not available on android at time of writing). I’ve chosen an example from the folks at Mashable to help demonstrate the app’s potential for marketing and engagement.

IMG_5176 IMG_5169 (1) 2015-04-02 17.24.40

You can tell it’s in a very early stage of experimentation by many users, with ‘test’ or ‘view from [location]’ type titles of the streams, but I’ve already watched useful broadcasts from Guardian Tech and Mashable that help showcase its potential. Viewers of these live broadcasts can make comments or show their ‘love’ by tapping the screen and generating a heart which floats up the screen along with those of other viewers.

It’s clearly very early days, and I’d expect to see lots more updates over the coming weeks, but here’s my first take on the pros and cons that I can see a week or so in, along with a glimpse into what the future may hold…

Pros

Even at this early stage, I can see some pretty significant upsides to this platform, including

  • Speed to market: being able to broadcast and view live video streams pretty much ‘on demand’ will be a huge benefit to organisations and brands that want to get a live video in front of their audience fast
  • Authenticity: What you see is what you get…in real-time. No editing or polishing, broadcasters respond in real-time to the comments
  • Accessibility: Without the need to invest in any expensive kit above a decent iPhone, even the smallest of business can use the platform to engage with their target audience using the medium of video

Cons

For the time being, though, these are offset by some pretty significant cons.

  • Search: At the moment, it seems that you can search for users but not content. This seems a pretty fundamental flaw for me, as discovery of new users to follow will be driven by [for me, anyway] by an interest in certain types of content, language or even location. The home screen of the app is too random at present – a list that is crying out to be filtered into a curated list of stuff I actually might find interesting, that I can choose.
  • Bandwidth: On more than one occasion, on separate streams, I’ve seen ‘broadcast too full’ with as few as 157 [see below] live viewers of a stream. Again, I’d hope that this would be something that gets improved over time as more people adopt the platform.

Periscope bandwidth issuePeriscope bandwidth

I’m left with no doubt that the ability to video stream in real time has lots of exciting possibilities but, as with all forms of social media, the starting point has to be in how best to deliver benefits for the audience. One good example I’ve seen is from @pauljholden, a Comic Artist on Judge Dredd who I’ve seen broadcast a couple of times, answering questions whilst you can see him at work.

As with any form of social media channel, I’d always recommend to clients that they should listen, observe and learn about any platform before diving in. The focus on live video streaming (of any flavour) will only gather pace over the coming weeks and months as brands begin to experiment and find the use case best suited to their audience.

I’ll return to this in a later post, but in the meantime I’d love to hear from anyone who is thinking of incorporating Periscope (or Meerkat) into their communications plans. Where do you see the opportunities and potential pitfalls?

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34 minutes that should change the way you look at social media

I love facts, me. Hard, numbers-based evidence. As marketing professionals, it’s this objective assessment of the relevance or performance of campaigns and channels that stops us being perceived as ‘fluffy’ by our colleagues in other functions.

Which is why I loved every one of the 34 minutes of Mark Ritson’s recent speech at Melbourne Business School. The scope of his presentation was how social media is used by brands to communicate to target customers in Australia.

According to Mark, social media has been the “Greatest act of overselling in the history of marketing” – meaning that its value for brand communications has been drastically overstated for what is a primarily social (person to person) media.

I’d highly recommend investing 34 minutes to watch this video, but as a taster here are my top three facts from Mark’s presentation:

  1. If you look at the top 10 brands in Australia, the number of Facebook likes as a proportion of their total customer base was 2-3% – so 97% of customers are not engaged (have hit ‘like’ at some point) with the brands on Facebook.
  2. It gets worse. The proportion of the customer base that had recently engaged with the brands’ content on Facebook in the last 7 days was just 0.02%.
  3. Twitter is no better, with at best 0.7% of brands’ customer bases as followers on Twitter

Add to this the fact that as few as 20% of users turn to social media to research brands (meaning 80% don’t) and the picture starts to build that for all the fanfares, noise and excitement about the growth of social media, the jury is well and truly out on its use as an effective brand (b2c) communication.

Take a look for yourself – I’d love to hear your thoughts on this.

Who does Google think you are?

Name badge showing marketing and branding terms

If we’re honest, we’ve all done it.

Some call it the “vanity search” or even “ego surfing”. Whatever you call it, it makes good sense to regularly ‘Google yourself’ in order to proactively manage your Digital Personal Brand.

In an increasingly digital world, many people’s first impression of you will be formed as a result of your online profile, so putting your name into Google and seeing who it thinks you are makes sense for anyone serious about managing their online professional reputation.

So what sorts of things should you be looking out for? Here are a few things you should consider when looking at your name search results:

  • Do you have any namesakes that appear high in the rankings?
  • How visible are your personal social media profiles, and would you be happy for a prospective employer or client to see them?
  • How easy is it to find the ‘professional you’?

You wouldn’t go to a business meeting or interview without clean shoes, a freshly ironed shirt and sharp suit, so why not pay as much attention to your online appearance?

Here are three simple things you can do to boost your online search visibility and make sure the ‘professional you’ is projected in search results for your name:

1) Make sure you have a complete and search-friendly LinkedIn profile

I’m assuming that many readers of this blog will have a LinkedIn profile, but not everyone will have a custom URL containing their name, like www.linkedin.com/in/steverevill. Not only does this look more professional than the default LinkedIn profile URL, it will also help your profile to be displayed in Google searches for your name.

I’ve created this short video to show you how to do it…

2) Secure your name URL, and publish a basic website or blog

Building and hosting a professional looking website is easier than ever thanks to platforms such as WordPress. Even if you have no plans to start blogging, you can still secure your name URL, like www.steverevill.net, and build a site with a static homepage to use as a gateway into your professional online profiles. This will also help to get you up the Google results page.

You can easily check if your name URL is available and get it hosted on WordPress.com. Here’s a couple of screen grabs to show you how to check this without having to sign up.

WordPress.com homepage

  • Then enter your name into the ‘blog address’ field to see if your name URL is available. If it’s taken, you’ll see suggestions that are available. Make sure it contains your full name though- ‘steverevill71.net’ would be better than ‘stevierev.net’.
  • Clicking on the drop down tab will show the domain name extensions available along with their annual cost. This can be a very cost-effective way of establishing an online presence.

WordPress blog address finder

3) Register your name on key social media sites

As well as LinkedIn, I’d recommend that you set up accounts on both Google Plus and Twitter in order to help get you up the first page of Google search results for your name.

Google Plus is a long, long way off being the ‘Facebook killer’ some hinted it may be at launch, but you’d be crazy to ignore it as the vast majority of search traffic in the UK is via Google. It also has other advantages over Facebook through its ‘circles’ functionality, which allows you to create lots of bespoke segments for sharing your updates across different aspects of your network according to the relationship you have with them – friends, family, colleagues, people you play cricket with etc.

Although Google announced in August 2012 that ‘Custom URLs’ were being rolled out to selected brands and celebrities, they are not yet [as at Jan 2013] widely available to general Google Plus users.

Registering a real name twitter account such as www.twitter.com/steve_revill will not only help establish your presence in Google results but will be a small (140 characters at a time) glimpse into the sorts of things you’re interested in and want to share with your network. You can also tweet updates from your LinkedIn account (but not the other way round) so don’t feel you need to have an onerous publishing schedule of content.

Do you Google yourself? Have you found anything that surprised you? What tools have you used to get your name up the  search results? I’d love to hear your experiences.

If you need any help or advice in brushing up your digital personal brand, please drop me a line.

2012 blog review

The WordPress.com stats helper monkeys prepared a 2012 annual report for my blog.

Here’s an excerpt:

600 people reached the top of Mt. Everest in 2012. This blog got about 2,300 views in 2012. If every person who reached the top of Mt. Everest viewed this blog, it would have taken 4 years to get that many views.

Click here to see the complete report.

I’m happy that this represents a c. 30% increase in views from 2011, especially as I didn’t write any new posts between June and December. In total, the site’s had over 4,200 views since mid 2010 when I first started blogging.

In 2013, I’m committing to publishing posts far more frequently than in 2012, so I hope you find them useful. I’d love to hear your feedback, so feel free to leave a comment on any post or drop me a line.

In the meantime, thanks for following my blog and I wish you and your loved ones a healthy, happy and successful 2013.

What Spongebob Squarepants taught me about Social Media

SpongebobIf ever a picture told a thousand words, it’s this one, which recently appeared in my timeline on Facebook- sadly because a ‘friend’ had ‘liked’ it.

The complex relationship between God, cancer and Spongebob Squarepants must have passed me by, but it illustrates the beauty and the curse of socially referred, user-generated content- quality control is only as strong as the weakest link in your network.

It’s annoying when spam appears in your timeline from large brands, but this is no more annoying than an ad and you tolerate it because of the huge benefits that ‘free’ access to a tool like Facebook brings. Plus, you know it’s an algorithm’s ‘opinion’ rather than one of your nearest and dearest actively engaging with the content by clicking ‘like’.

I can’t help contrast this with my LinkedIn timeline. No doubt helped by the removal of automated twitter feeds into LinkedIn, the stream of updates from my professional network of over 550 contacts on LinkedIn (some of whom are also Facebook friends) doesn’t suffer the same pollution of ‘like spam’.

Accepting it’s not in any way scientific, there appears to be a clear difference in behaviour by the same people on Facebook as on LinkedIn. Hardly ‘hold the front page’ stuff, I know, but with more and more talk of the drive from “B2B” (business-to-business) to “P2P” (person-to-person) communications being fuelled by social media, there’s clear evidence to me that people do fluctuate between their “work” and “personal” self, and use separate social media platforms to power these dual personas. For this reason, I struggle to see how Facebook will ever evolve into a truly valuable social media tool for engaging B2B audiences.

Maybe 2013 will be the year Google+ really starts to take off. The segmentation possibilities that its ‘circles’ functionality give you help alleviate some of the issues I’ve touched upon above.

How do you use social media tools? Do you have different platforms for your ‘work’ and ‘personal’ self? In what ways do you manage your digital personal brand using social media?

Twitter no longer LinkedIn

There’s no doubt we live in a digitally connected world.

But, with the growing number of mobile apps and platforms, it is easy to forget exactly how it’s all connected.

So I welcome yesterday’s news that tweets will no longer be displayed on LinkedIn- as should everyone that hasn’t appreciated the impact that automated cross-posting can have on their digital personal brand.

I use LinkedIn for professional networking. I’m ‘virtually’ suited and booted whenever I’m on the platform and am certainly in ‘work mode’. Yet I’m sure I’m not the only one who’s seen a tweet appear in their LinkedIn timeline and thought, ‘why are you sharing this with me?’.

The way I look at it, most people wouldn’t dream of bursting into a business networking event in their shorts and running vest and shouting “I’VE JUST COMPLETED A THREE MILE RUN IN 26MINS 19SECS”. So either they’ve forgotten these tools are connected or they simply aren’t thinking about the impact of the updates on their audience.

Although this automatic link from twitter has now been broken, it serves as a timely reminder to take a look at the what, why and how to manage your digital personal brand using social media.

  • WHAT tools do you currently use? Make a ‘map’ of how they’re all connected and ensure you understand what automated cross-posting is happening as a result.
  • WHY are you using them? Ask yourself about your audience on each of these platforms and how your updates impact their perception of you.
  • HOW can you effectively add value to your audiences using automation tools, but only once you’ve defined your ‘digital publishing strategy’- what will you send, to whom, how often and why?

There’s a number of tools that are out there that can help you to schedule and automate updates across a number of platforms. Personally, I’m a fan of TweetDeck, but the tool to use first is the one you have between your ears to make sure your digital publishing strategy adds value to your audience and fully aligns to your digital personal brand.

What do you think about Twitter’s move? Are there any downsides for users? Do you have a digital publishing strategy or any digital personal brand guidelines?

Managing your digital personal brand

We marketers sometimes forget that we also have personal brands that need building and managing. So it was great to be able to spend a day reflecting on this last week with a range of digital marketing and personal branding gurus at Digital Empower Conference 2012. The packed agenda was too extensive to do justice in a blog post, but I’d like to share my key takeaways for those who weren’t able to make it. At the time of posting, slides from the day were still available from MMC Learning.

First off, Lesley Everett talked about how a personal brand builds over time, like a pearl, constantly adding layers with every interaction on and offline. I particularly liked the way she described the importance of finding your ‘authentic self’, built around your key beliefs and value drivers. She then made the case for personal branding by attributing the following ingredients in building a successful career:

  • 10% doing your job
  • 30% attitude and behaviour
  • 60% visibility and exposure

I’m sure the proportions might cause some debate, but I agree completely that the importance of having a visible personal brand (on and offline) has never been more vital than it is today.

Next up, Mike Berry gave his insights into the most important elements of building a personal brand:

  • Creating great content
  • Getting in front of your target audience
  • Developing a big ego and a thick skin (not everyone will like you, some will hate you!)
  • Transparency at all times
  • Working hard at self promotion

He urged us to think as we would with any brand – know who you’re targeting, offer value as well as being visible and show you’re the solution to the problem they have.

Dr Dave Chaffey needs no introduction as anyone who has studied digital marketing over the last dozen or so years will have read one of Dave’s books. It was great to meet him in person and hear his ten steps to creating digital strategy for your personal brand:

1) Commit to having a strategy and resourcing it. 62.73% of businesses don’t have a strategy. Think of yourself as a publisher- who are you competing against? Peers? Other news sources? Other consultants?

2) Know what you want...your brand goals. You can’t build a credible personal brand without developing long form content. Therefore you must have a blog to develop a personal brand online.

3) Find your audience and specialism tools such as Ubersuggest and Tweetlevel will help you to find topics on which you can develop content.

4) Create your target personas. Develop 2 or 3 personas for people you’re writing your blog for. Be more understanding of the pain points facing your users.

5) Define your personality. It’s worth investing in the template for your blog, helping you to stand out and be more credible, rather than standard WordPress themes.

6) Define your online value proposition. Define your core brand proposition first…what can you offer? What you do? Where you do it? What makes you different? Have this in a side bar visible on EVERY PAGE.

7) Create your content publishing approach. Have a contract with yourself on how often you’ll update your blog.

8) Growing your footprint through Social Media – resources such as the CIM’s Social Media Benchmark will help you keep up to date on latest trends in adoption and usage.

9) Growing your footprint through SEO

10) Define your publishing platforms – define what you’ll do on which platform. Be aware that marketers often chase the latest new thing, and be careful how much time you commit to anything other than the established networks.

Annmarie Hanlon was up next with some great LinkedIn tips and urged delegates to ensure their profile was 100% complete. Her recommendations for action for your professional online network were:

  • Fix the fundamentals (e.g. 100% profile completeness)
  • Organise your content plan
  • Schedule updates
  • Have useful, interesting conversations
  • Tag your connections on LinkedIn
  • Share knowledge, events and ideas
  • ACTIVATE your network

Following lunch, David James kicked off the afternoon session with “Marketing Me: the truth told better”. This involved eating cat food, as he used to be known as “the cat food man”.

Tweet about David James eating cat food at #DECon2012

A high impact (albeit slightly bizarre) way to kick off the afternoon but he had the audience hanging on his every word as he talked of his experience of ‘being different’ in order to stand out and build his own personal brand. He built a strong argument for standing out in a crowded market – by being different. He has talked about the management styles of drug dealers and Osama Bin Laden- making him different and enabling him to stand out. Very thought-provoking stuff. Diving into and absorbing his deck from the day will be well worth half an hour of your time.

After another session from Dave Chaffey on 21 ideas for effective blogging (check out the deck), Peter Rees called on marketers to “cull the dull” in thought leadership and innovate to be something different and better than the competition. Become a deep expert in your field- thought provoking, maybe even contentious- but not lists of ‘5 this’ or ’10 that’. Be in it for the long haul and commit to updating/maintaining on a regular basis.

Kevin Read at Bell Pottinger Business & Brand gave the PR agency perspective of having planned communications across a wide range of global clients and sectors. Reputation as an issue is now owned by the board, which wasn’t the case 10-20 years ago. Digital media has caused us to think differently about reputation management, but there’s no single, correct answer, according to Kevin. Whether or not digital and traditional communications teams would/should merge is a subject of much debate, but Kevin advocates that synergy comes from the best of both.

Finally, but by no means least, Marialena Zinopoulou discussed her 10 most inspirational online influencers. Once again, the deck is well worth a look and in many ways this session might have worked better in the morning as the content links so strongly to Lesley and Mike’s- these are the guys who have been there and done it!

Overall, I thought the day was extremely valuable and thought provoking and I’d highly recommend you look out for DECon2013…by which time I may have had chance to implement some of this best practice advice!

I’d be interested to hear any thoughts or reactions from readers, whether or not you were at the conference. How important do you feel developing your personal brand is? What are the barriers to you achieving this (real or perceived)? Do you have any examples of success stories you can share here?