social media

This film is worth a watch to show how WeChat-which started as a messaging app- is evolving into a one stop killer app for search,social and shopping. (And you thought Google and Facebook were too powerful.). It’s success is due not to Chinese govt support but innovation to make the user experience a) very easy b)integrated c) time saving.

You can be sure that Facebook and other are eyeing WeChat with envy and trying to emulate it

I expect the anti-trust authorities in Europe and USA to have a say on this trend

The Ofcom annual report on the UK communication market  2014_UK_CMR 2 is a treasure trove of data

These data on the rapid growth of Tablet ownership – even among the over 55s- set me thinking about how it might change culture-rapid mass behaviour change normally makes waves





Some thoughts

Tablets-At last a device for pleasurable browsing

Smartphones are great for more functional transactions and checking Facebook- but not really for browsing. Laptops are seen by many as work tools. You wouldn’t really want to sit up in bed and browse YouTube on it. But tablets make the whole web experience more like the promise. Fast broadband means an end to irritating buffering and slow downloads at home. 4G, increasingly, delivers broadband on the move.

Multimedia online magazines- video with everything

You can see the signs of this future now. Online media brands (which may still betray their origins in print) are becoming multimedia brands for all ages. MailOnline is a good barometer of change: it has always understood that its audience is attracted by images and personalities rather than text and now most stories feature video too. Check out all their celeb stories on any given day and the team at MailOnline will lever in a video even if the relevance to the story is a tad tendentious. I reckon they fancy some of that pre-roll advertising that has done so well for Youtube (In fact Youtube call this trueview and argue that it is superior to pre roll as you choose to watch).

Youtube embraces all ages

Most videos on YouTube are still pitched at the young. But now Jamie Oliver is committed to developing his you tube channel – and he appeals to all ages from grannies to kids. If you want to know how to do something – from mending a washing machine to doing your hair in the style of Game of Thrones to making lasagna- then there is probably a video about it. Young people know this already but older people are learning fast.

Prediction:senior Zoellas soon

In just a few year mums and dads learnt to Facebook like their kids. I expect the oldsters like myself to start vlogging like their kids. Who will these mature vloggers be? The mums and dads of the new young generation of vloggers are candidates as are a whole host of well-known faces “off the telly” who are hungry for a boost to their career and profiles. Or it might be oldsters we have never heard of before – after all, 3 years ago Zoella was an unknown. Or all three.



is the title of an enlightening and helpful little book by BJ Mendelson.


It helps you sort out the crap from the hype. Some things that rang bells

Beware cyber hipster’s thought leadership

A whole class of cyber hipsters is busy creating and spreading hype because it helps their own business/raises their fees as public speakers. Heard of web 2.0? Yup. Tim O’Reilly – an uber cyber hipster -came up with it (probably) and has built a consulting business and a regular expensive conference on the back of it. He can stand for a whole class of cyber hipsters who swim around in the same pool and scratch each others backs- no different them from other walks of life then.


There are very few pure social media successes

Many so called social media success stories – Think Old Spice man – are not really that. They also had big ad spend and top quality media production behind them.

Cui Bono ? is always a good question

Who benefits from the idea that social media are powerful in building brands?It’s the big platforms themselves- like Facebook and Twitter-who are trying to grab their share of the advertising pie.You’re a dinosaur if you are not using social media aren’t you? well, arent you?

Cue all sorts of “innovations” from these platforms to win more adspend – sponsored tweets/native ads-all of which will be boosted as the next big thing

Talent alone rarely wins out


Beware the Justin Beiber myth- this is idea that someone with talent (yes he has got some painful to admit) can come from nowhere and break through big time. It is very rare. Mostly when you lift the lid on successes there are big media partners and/or adspend and various other (paid for) boosters behind it.

BJ Mendelson book is useful in helping you develop your bullshit detectors.

The Internet is so young that it is bound to be teaming with hucksters and charlatans- he calls them out.

But he overstates the case.

It may be naive to think that talent alone or great content will win through. Yet yet yet.. access is greatly increased.Everyone can now be a publisher/creator/filmaker/Writer now. You can build a following if you do it well – i.e. you are relevant and/or interesting. Bear in mind though if you have any success you will have to trade with big media and other big beasts of the Internet to get to the next level.

One other good reason to read this book is he has a whole section on how to “game the system” – i.e. get seen as an expert and win profile and followers.

Which rather proves the point that the system is much more open than before

There are emerging trends and then there are fully emerged trends

If you take the  Cannes 2013 awards as a guide  then the idea that brands should take on public spirited causes is now a fully emerged trend

I mean by this not just a commitment to being responsible  in the way they do business. No this is something altogether more high profile.

In this years  awards many of the award winners- a majority perhaps- were companies communicating how they are working on behalf of citizens and championing public spirited causes

Such as these campaigns

  • IBM making billboards into seats and shelters for weary travellers.
  • Dela Dela Funeral Insurance encouraging us to be nice to relatives, before they die.
  • Channel 4 saluting Paralympic athletes.
  • Smart Communications providing textbooks for poor schoolchildren using old mobile phones.
  • Dove encouraging women to value their own beauty.
  • Oreo cookies celebrating diversity.
  • Recife Football Club encouraging organ donation.
  • P&G has become the worlds proud sponsor of mums ( that last one is quite a turnaround- when i started in the biz they were an anonymous chemical company)

What is the thinking behind this? It is  based on the belief that people don’t just buy what you do, they also buy why you do it.

Put another way the model is this-

“Love my values,

Love my brand,

Buy my product or service ( at a premium)”

Is it working ? Well Nielsen have just published some research that suggests that it does –

The proportion of consumers willing to pay more for goods and services from companies engaged in corporate social responsibility has increased to 50% globally, according to new research.
The study from market researchers Nielsen also found that 43% of global respondents have actually spent more on products and services from companies that have implemented programmes to give back to society.
That represents just 7% fewer than those expressing willingness to do so and comes amidst signs of a rising trend of goodwill towards socially responsible brands.
Credit should go to Unilever with their 5 levers of change and to the Dove team- the big players who were at in the start of this recent trend .
But i don’t think they invented it – “Love my values love my brand” marketing is really a classic challenger brand strategy as explained by Adam Morgan in Eating the Big Fish. People who pioneered this trend go further back like the late and highly visionary Anita Roddick with The Body Shop. It is just that the rest of the marketing world has taken a long time to catch up with Anita
Roddick was well ahead of her time - a true pioneer

Roddick was well ahead of her time – a true pioneer

But why this trend now ? Like a lot of emerged trends, There is not just one factor but a combination
– Follow my leader: when Unilever and P&G do something big time, others follow
– Marketing and business theory. John Kay in Obliquity and Jim Stengel in Grow have made the business performance case ; Companies that purely pursue profits ( aka The Shareholder Value School)  do less well than those who try to do the right thing. And sometimes doing the right thing means championing causes.
-Staff motivation: people are not just motivated by money. They prefer to work at and perform better at places ( private or public sector) that pursue a higher purpose.
-Customer service: Staff who are believers (and not just mercenaries) deliver better service. Companies like John Lewis for example.
– Premium pricing – if Mintel is right we pay more to companies that give back to society
– Communications effectiveness; It gives a company or brand a true story to tell – one that is worth telling in film (still the most moving of media) and a story to  pass on through networks and through social media. Stories worth talking about and participating in.

Just listened to another rather vague interview with Jeremy Hunt about the NHS

( make sure you get that “H” right J.Naughtie)

Lots of vague talk about about the need for culture change without any specifics of what might be the vectors of change.

Sure culture change is not easy and the NHS is a huge organisation but this is no excuse for being so vague and platitudinous.

One area that has not been mentioned ( by Hunt anyway) is a very obvious one – technology and social media platforms in particular  can be harnessed to blow cleansing fresh air through an organisation….they can empower employees and whistle blowers.

But maybe the caution is that this is the equivalent of taking the lid of pandoras box …all manner of (uncontrollable) ghastliness will fly out

To the RSA for an excellent talk by Jeremy Heimans of Purpose 

He is one of a new breed of “Movement Entrepreneurs” – who brings practical knowledge and insight about how the radical democratisation of the web is changing politics and campaigning. Now more than ever you can start a popular movement – not just locally but globally-enabled by tech.

Lots of good examples such as avaaz and getup

His top tips worth noting on how to start a movement

-Dont rely too much on The Charismatic Leader ( it can go wrong- think Lance Armstrong) – what you need is the right purpose

-Use institutional power but don’t get institutionalised

( David Milliband made the excellent point that if you want to have influence you have to map power structures. Sometimes these are not very visible or even widely known but they are very powerful – such as pension funds and mutual funds)

– a movement is not an internet meme

– Be online and especially be hyper local

-Soundbites do not engage any longer ( Forget Alistair Campbell) think storytelling

-Go transnational

-To get new members make it very easy for them to act ( remove barriers to action)

-Use the mainstream tech – don’t get over excited by the leading edge stuff – text or even fax may be better that a hip new app

-Fund well at the start and then get funding by the people

-Deeply embed participation ( great danger here is to message at people and think “gosh I have got a huge database must do some CRM”. Obama was highly participative in 2008 and then people started to feel targeted with messages

-Action leads to hope, not hope leads to action ( Supported by the idea of The endowment effect from Behavioral psychology -we  are more committed to something we have a hand in creating). Change minds by getting people to do things. The attitude change follows the behaviour change – not the other way round

The big question though is how does it work when it is not a single issue or the challenge is necessarily complex- such the ungoverned part of the oceans – being raped and pillaged according to David Milliband- or climate change). That is still a tough one . Watch this space. Certainly watch what Purpose do