Category Archives: Social Media

Jekyll & Hyde: the Curse of Multi-Personalities on Twitter…

Now that Twitter has cemented itself as a valid tool for individuals to use in a ‘professional’ capacity, many users of the ‘micro-blogging’ site are choosing to create separate accounts for personal and professional use – and why not?  After all, a ‘professional account’ allows one to convey a ‘professional persona’, and reduces the risks of alienating business contacts with inane chatter about last night’s football, right?

On the surface, it seems that this is, indeed, the correct modus operandi.  Harking back once more to the old ‘Facebook = personal, LinkedIn = professional debate’, separate Twitter accounts seem to be a viable practice in order to ensure you communicate with the appropriate people through the appropriate ‘channel’.  But this, in my opinion, is where potential issues start to arise.

People’s increasing use of Facebook in a professional capacity has undoubtedly started to blur the boundaries between the ‘personal’ networking site and its professional competitor, LinkedIn.  Nevertheless, this willingness to embrace the former as a professional tool is still very much academic; the fact remains that these are two, very separate, Social Media sites – but the ‘identity’ of the user remains the same – Callum on Facebook and Callum on LinkedIn.

Which brings me on to my Twitter conundrum.

I have no doubt that the opines contained within this post will split opinion and cause a great deal of constructive criticism – however the fact remains that Twitter is one channel, just as Facebook and LinkedIn are both unique channels.  If you use Facebook for personal use and LinkedIn for professional use, the fact remains that you are on each individual channel ‘as an individual’.

Now, I’m not talking about managing a corporate account – after all, I manage three, comprising accounts for Stopgap, Fitzroy and Courtenay HR. This is not the issue in question: after all, I am Callum and Stopgap is Stopgap – two separate entities.  I refer instead, to ‘individuals’ (the clue’s in that label folks) who have a ‘John Smith’ account along with a ‘John Smith {company name}’ account.

I recently set up a ‘professional account’ (@Stopgap_Callum) in order to establish a professional presence in order to differentiate my professional followers from my personal followers.  But after a few weeks of operating in this Jekyll and Hyde fashion, I’ve come to the conclusion that this simply does not work.  Why?  There are numerous reasons.

•    Many, if not all, of my ‘professional followers’ are also following ‘personal Callum’.
•    People are sending @replies to both @callumsaunders and @Stopgap_Callum, in order to gain my attention, and thus a response, through the quickest channel.  Twitter, after all, is a communications tool.
•    You know what?  I actually want to share many of my interesting ‘professional tweets’ with people I know only follow my personal account.  Why should they be subject purely to tweets concerning Tottenham’s latest signing, when I have knowledge to share and real value to offer?

We live in an age of digital transparency – all of us have a substantial digital footprint, which means people can build a picture of us through Social Media channels whether we like it or not.  So why the need to create split personalities on Twitter, when this is just one channel in which we make up our overall personal brand?

Studies have shown that users tweet about different topics at different times of the day, which makes sense really.  When at work, I have my ‘professional hat’ on.  In the evenings, I’m just plain old Cal.  And since Twitter is an online extension of our personalities, it naturally follows that online behaviour follows this pattern.

Now, I’d be foolish to sit here and say that you should tweet professional messages during the day, then regress to a drunken yob in the evening, tweeting everything from offensive swearwords to sexist comments and derogatory remarks about your workplace.  Common sense should surely prevail, since Twitter remains a publishing tool through which you are publishing accessible content – one should feel free to be oneself, but individuals need to be aware that people can access your messages if they look hard enough.

The point I wish to make is that I am not a Victorian doctor who is able to drink varying Social Media potions and become different personalities.  I am one individual.  I may chose to keep my Facebook account separate from my LinkedIn account, but these are two channels in which I have one identity each – not two.

Twitter may have great use as both a personal and a professional tool, but the fact remains that it is one channel.  For better or worse, we only have one identity as individual people, and this is why Twitter should reflect this: unless of course, you are indeed Dr Jekyll or Mr Hyde.

Connecting HR 2 – Fresh Anticipation

I’m not going to beat around the bush.  At the last Connecting HR, I was flying into an event blind; my supportive role in a marketing / Social Media capacity not affording me the same levels of excitement as my Courtenay HR colleagues.

After all, this was an HR event in which HR Twitter contacts and HR professionals were coming together to solidify virtual relationships.  Me?  I was badge monitor, brand representative and apparently, a Social Media ‘guru’ – thanks for the David Brent-esque moniker Gareth…  Either way, I was attending in a supportive capacity; a square-pegged marketer trying to fit into an HR-round hole – which meant I didn’t share the same excitement as my peers.

But now?  How things change.  With the second Connecting HR now only one week away, I am relishing the forthcoming event and the opportunities it brings.  Why?  Here’s why things, for me, have changed exponentially since March:

i)    First and foremost, I now know people. Since the last event, I have started engaging with many of the attendees on Twitter, LinkedIn, blogs and even through email (how very old fashioned / Web 1.0 of me)!
ii)    I’m looking forward to conversing in person. I had many insightful conversations last time, which I’m looking forward to following up; however I’m also looking forward to discussing new conversations that have so far been limited to 140 characters on Twitter.
iii)    I’m excited by the opportunity to learn. Whilst I feel I have plenty of Social Media information and learnings to share, I’m also excited by the prospect of learning from other people.  I genuinely believe that the lines between Marketing and HR have blurred, due in no small part to the advent of Social Media.  And I’m looking forward to learning from HR professionals and taking some new knowledge away from the evening.

I could go on: these are simply three of the many reasons that I am eagerly anticipating next week’s gathering.  But another key point lays simply in the fact that this event really is a superb opportunity for people to network.  I’ve enjoyed a daily glut of personal conversations with members of the #ConnectingHR tribe on Twitter, ranging from football to vintage paperback books.  However, I have also built a valuable network that has helped me professionally over the past couple of months:

•    Thanks to Abi Signorelli for technical advice on Facebook pages – we seem to be forming a good team that can muddle through together!
•    Anna Birtwistle – provided a fascinating article on employment law under the new coalition government, as featured on the Courtenay HR blog.
•    Michael Carty – provider of an unending stream of useful HR news, blogs, articles and opinions.
•    The enigmatic and elusive HRD – a valued (albeit anonymous) contact who has provided me with no end of information on the virtues of different blogging platforms.
•    Charlie Duff – a fantastic HR publishing contact and author of a very well received Connecting HR review
•    And of course, Gary Franklin – provider of some fantastic classic rock tracks that have been played in the office!

So many people still question the value of Social Media, claiming that it doesn’t deliver a measurable ROI.  Well, drawing upon the illustrations detailed above, I’d boldly purport that for those seeking monetary ROI, they’re missing the true value of Social Media.

My own mini Connecting HR network has already reaped fantastic value and it’s this – along with the opportunities to meet ‘social friends’ once again – that has got me so fired up about next week’s Connecting HR.

Marketing & HR – In Bed Together At Last?

Despite the (unfortunately all-too-common) perception amongst my peers that all I do is ‘play around on Twitter and Facebook all day’, my day-to-day role at the Stopgap Group is in fact rather diverse and indeed, unique.

For those of you that are still unsure as to what I actually do (including my other half!), I look after the marketing and Social Media functions for Stopgap, Fitzroy and Courtenay; marketing, executive and HR recruitment firms respectively.  Whilst this variety in brands affords me an enjoyable amount of diversity in my day-to-day role, it has also allowed me to look at both marketing and HR from a holistic viewpoint.

If I look back to when I started in the Marketing department here in late 2007, I wouldn’t be alone in claiming that HR and marketing were separate entities requiring different methods of thinking, marketing and strategy.  Move the clock forward to 2010 however, and Social Media has been a huge catalyst, I believe, in bringing these two functions closer together.

I first gained my first real glimpse of this at the well-received Connecting HR event in March.  I attended the event in a professional capacity representing the marketing function of Courtenay HR, but soon found I had more in common with the HR community than I had previously thought.

Several insightful conversations with various HR practitioners caused something of an epiphany for me.  Listening to these HR professionals discussing the role of Social Media from a human resources perspective, I found that this new medium has blurred the lines between marketing and HR exponentially.

Employees are now much more accountable in terms of ‘employer branding’ than ever before.  Traditionally, it has been marketing departments that have set the agenda for controlled communications.  ‘Digital Democracy’ however, has given all workplace denizens a voice – and thus an opinion that audiences listen to.

Similarly, ‘brand advocates’ within an organisation are being increasingly used to market the company.  In our own organisation, we have several prominent Social Media users whose primary function within the organisation is not marketing.  Nevertheless, their blogs, tweets and LinkedIn interactions have all combined to create an additional Social Media marketing / branding function that has undoubtedly complimented the more ‘established’ marketing efforts coming from my direction.

HR and marketing have so many similarities.  Both aim to engage groups of people.  Both functions wish to market an organisation in the best possible light.  Both look at new ways of communicating and engaging – the list is endless.

Now these similarities are not ‘new’ – these principles have been fundamental to these two disciplines for a long, long time.  However, the way we as humans communicate is shifting dramatically – and this can be ascribed almost wholly to the advent of Social Media.

As long as HR and marketing remain intrinsically about connecting and communicating with people, I have no doubt that Social Media will be the catalyst that draws these functions even closer together – and why not?  Marketing and HR are natural bedfellows and I believe it’s crucial for early adopters of this way of thinking to champion this union and achieve some very big things.

Sussed Social Media? That Don’t Make You a Marketer Mate…

Operating in the Social Media sphere in both a professional and a personal capacity, I’m coming across an increasingly prevalent number of ‘instant gurus’.  Twitter, and LinkedIn especially, seem to provide a natural home for these evangelists, all of whom purport to able to advise on Social Media marketing strategy, just because they’ve got to grips with Twitter and LinkedIn.

Well, reader beware.

At its core, Social Media is a communications channel and, naturally, different people use it to communicate in different ways.  Digital marketing is also a communications practice – but this does not mean that a ‘Social Media guru’ can advise you on productive marketing strategies for use in Social Media channels.

There’s no denying the fact that digital marketing and Social Media are becoming ever-more interrelated – they are, after all, natural bedfellows and operate within the same space.  But marketing is marketing – and no matter how many tweets you’ve sent, blog posts you’ve written, or LinkedIn groups joined, using Social Media personally doth not a marketer make.

I’m constantly shocked by the ill-informed and generic advice being banded around the Social Media sphere.  Whilst I’m nowhere near arrogant enough to claim that I’m a definitive authority on the topic, my professional use of Social Media has evolved as part of an integrated digital strategy – and it’s the digital marketing discipline that informs the Social Media strategy – not the other way round.

If you’re looking for Social Media marketing tips, some fundamental truths should serve you well.  If the advice does not have these values at its core, the chances are, you’ve come across a fly-by-night ‘guru’.  Here are my basic pointers for using Social Media as part of digital marketing strategies:

i)    Social Media is not a standalone strategy.  It’s a stunning, dynamic, exciting channel, but needs to support a wider business dynamic.  You should only use Social Media for marketing purposes if it is part of a wider, integrated digital marketing strategy.
ii)    Social Media is a communications tool.  New rules apply folks.  If you’re spreading your brand around in various channels and using different sites to promote one-way messages, you’re destined to fail.  Social Media plays by new rules – you are not in charge of a two-way conversation – you just need to engage.
iii)    You cannot control Social Media marketing.  End of.  A transparent strategy still divides opinion, but even negative conversations can be turned into positive outcomes.  If someone wants to say something bad about your brand, chances are, they’ll do it.  Be part of the conversation and ensure that you resolve these issues with your customers.

These are three very basic pieces of advice – but I hope they will help individuals looking for specific SM marketing advice to understand the difference between genuine Social Media marketing strategy and community cowboys who’ve never worked in marketing before.

Hang Up Your Hang-Ups: The ROI Myth Dispelled

That’s it – I’ve HAD it. For years now, I’ve paid one telecoms service provider after another for my mobile phone, month in, month out. And you know what? In all these years, I’ve never ONCE received any return on investment for this!! Can you believe it??!! I’ve been a good customer, paid on time, and have never once received a single penny back from these communications charlatans. I’m cancelling my contract – there’s simply no ROI to be had from my mobile phone.

Ludicrous? Yes. Absurd? Yes. Why? Because, quite simply, the value of a mobile phone comes from the service it provides. The fact that it doesn’t generate revenue for me is irrelevant – it’s a communications tool that makes everyday communications infinitely easier and more convenient – that’s its value.

And you know what? I’m sure more astute readers of this post will already have twigged where I’m leading with this (you’re a smart bunch) – the same can be said for Social Media.

I’ve been having an interesting discussion this week with a senior marketer in the Marketing Professionals’ Network on LinkedIn. He claims that he often has difficulties ‘selling’ Social Media to his clients because they want to see demonstrable transactional ROI before they commit to using this channel.

But, just like the humble mobile telephone, Social Media is a COMMUNICATIONS tool. @smashadv, an American copywriter / ad man I regularly converse with on Twitter, sums this up succinctly: ‘Comm-Unity’. Enough said. So why do so many people remain hung up on ROI? Is it because they, blindly, still consider Social Media as a marketing device, rather than a communications channel? I really think it is.

Sure, an e-commerce platform delivers verifiable sales – visible, accountable ROI that keeps the bean-counters happy to invest. But what drives consumers to that platform in the first place? A special offer announced on Twitter? A coupon posted on Facebook? Discounts offered to people checking-in on Foursquare? An email voucher? All of these and more?

As marketers and advertisers, we are in the communication business – plain and simple. It is our job to convey the right messages, to the right people, at the right time. And how do we do this? Through communications channels, plain and simple.

So if you still have clients hung up on ROI, take a few moments to ask them if they use a mobile phone. I guarantee that none of them could live without it, despite its lack of ‘measurable’ ROI.

JUST LIKE SOCIAL MEDIA.

Social Media Revolution – 2

You may remember that I posted a video on the Social Media revolution a few months ago. Well, such is the speed with which SM progresses, Socialnomics, the company that produced that first video, has had to create an updated one.

Even if you’ve watched the first one, this is vital viewing – plenty of new stats that are of considerable interest.

Enjoy.

This. Is. Powerful. Stuff.

When Labour MP Kerry McCarthy was named Labour’s ‘Twitter Tsar’ back in August last year, several commentators rightly predicted that this year would see the UK’s very first ‘Social Media’ election.

Indeed, we now have a glut of MPs and parliamentary candidates tweeting about their campaign trail; the electorate can ‘like’ or become a fan of a political party on Facebook; the Liberal Democrats released an iPhone app to coincide with their manifesto launch – Social Media really has become the playground in which we, the general public, are being wooed.

But whilst this spate of activity highlights the possibilities of branding, marketing and mass communication, it has been another element of the forthcoming election that has really highlighted the incredible importance of Social Media as a real-time communications platform – the much-publicised Leaders’ Debates.

In similar vein to BBC Question Time (Twitter users regular tweet their opinions on the show as it is aired using the hashtag #BBCqt), the Leaders’ Debates have drawn a staggering amount of real-time comment, debate and interaction, using the hashtag ‘#leadersdebate’. Similar communities of people do exactly the same for Match of the Day, Doctor Who – the list really is limitless. But the Leaders’ Debates have drawn such a level of engagement that really is difficult to ignore.

People are once again engaging with politics in the UK – this fact is impossible to deny. There has been a huge surge in people registering to vote, which although most likely fuelled by a desire for change, once again shows how involving this election campaign is turning out to be.

But what this Social Media interaction really shows is how online channels such as Twitter really are providing people a ‘voice’ like never before. Although in no way comparable to the liberating role Twitter played during the Iran election protests, the huge interest in this election is highlighted by the fact that people are using Social Media to talk about it – and Social Media affords everyone a voice – one of the most fundamental principles of democracy.

As a marketer, I don’t need to be told of the possibilities that Social Media holds for brands and businesses. But in our rush to create dynamic, commercially viable SM campaigns that deliver lashings of ROI, perhaps we should start every campaign looking at the core element highlighted by the Leaders’ Debates.

Social Media is a communications tool – where the user has the power.

As Social Media marketers, we do not dictate the conversation and no longer direct a one-way flow of communication. The consumer audience now has power like never before – they have a voice – and it is our job to ensure our voice is part of their conversations.