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Connecting HR – The Tweet Smell of Success…

Aside from several lesions to my shoulder courtesy of lugging stands and promo materials halfway across London through rush-hour (thanks @garelaos!), there’s plenty that I took away from last night’s inaugural ‘Connecting HR’ event.

The Square Pig in Holborn played host to a noisy cacophony of HR and social media enthusiasts, all casting avatars aside and emerging in the flesh (they live!) to network and solidify relationships that until now, have been nurtured online. Hats certainly need to be doffed in the direction of Jon Ingham and Gareth Jones, organisers of the event, as well as sponsors Courtenay HR, who put on a terrific evening.

From various conversations, I’m sure that the Twitterverse and Blogosphere will both be saturated with talk from last night, all of which I look forward to reading immensely. But for meantime, here are a few of my thoughts on the event.

First off, I’m not an HR professional, which is somewhat ironic considering the theme of the event! Nevertheless, I attended in a social media / marketing capacity, which is how I support the Courtenay HR brand and wider Stopgap Group and earn my crust. Nevertheless, after three hours chewing the fat (and consuming various imported beers!), I came away from the event with a thousand fresh perspectives and ideas buzzing around in my head. Here are a few of my findings:

i) Social Media is NOTHING without people

Forgive me for stating the bleedin’ obvious, but ‘social’ media really is all about human beings. I am a huge technology geek and make no secret of my love for social media. However, Twitter, Facebook, LinkedIn – every one of these revolutionary platforms is absolutely nothing without people driving it. We love Twitter – which is why we ran ‘Connecting HR’ – but it’s easy to forget that the reason we love it, is because real people are behind it. Social Media is simply the channel – people are the content and the reason to keep engaging with the platforms.

ii) HR and Marketing are intrinsically linked

I started the night (rather foolishly) thinking that marketers and HR professionals are very different creatures, however as the night and various conversations progressed, I realised in a true moment of epiphany, that HR and marketing are natural bedfellows. Marketing is about connecting with people. HR is about connecting with people. Social Media can be employed by either industry to build credible and lasting relationships with people. As Forrest Gump would say, ‘that’s all I have to say about that’.

iii) Marketers and HR functions need to be FOUND

When in Rome, do as the Romans do, and although this sounds highly anachronistic, the Romans are all using social media. Employees are people too (yes, it’s true!) and the majority of people now use some form of social media in their daily lives. One of the most effective ways of reaching people is to connect in a way that’s familiar to them. People are comfortable operating within LinkedIn, using Facebook, talking on Twitter, so why take them out of this environment? The advent of social media has meant that we as marketers / HR practioners no longer find people, they find us. Social media is one of the ways you can ensure that your business can – and will – be found by the right people, at the right time.

So as I wrap up (from a personal perspective) last night’s inaugural Connecting HR event, these are simply three key points that really shone out for me. Feel free to agree – feel free to disagree! But if you’re all as talkative as you were last night, I hope you’ll leave some interesting and insightful comments, here, on Twitter, on LinkedIn – hopefully I practice what I preach and you’ll all be able to find me in the way that suits you best.

Callum

@callumsaunders
@courtenayhr
Connect with me on LinkedIn
The HR Professionals’ Network
The Stopgap Group Blog

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Aviation Advertising: Benefiting from BA’s Balls-Up

Although two years does not qualify as a long and illustrious marketing career, I’ve been around enough senior marketers to know that referencing your competitors in campaigns is an issue that splits hairs and divides opinion across the board.

I, for one, believe that each marketing campaign has its own set of rules, whilst many companies in certain sectors employ ‘comparative marketing’ as the de facto practice (supermarkets being the worst, and most repeat, offenders).

Although British Airways has now had its proposed Christmas strike deemed illegal in a High Court ruling, the past few days has seen a glut of aviation advertising, all of which has very cleverly referenced the farcical goings on at BA.

Here’s my favourite piece of press advertising from this week; a simple strapline from BMI. When commercial opportunity knocks, referencing the competition can be a clever and effective strategy – especially with copy this good.

Breathtakingly Simple…

Following on in a similar vein from the previous post, I have stumbled across yet another example of simple copy that results in a big impact. This American advert for Wonderbra, by Saatchi and Saatchi, simply uses the brand name, inserting an extra ‘d’ to connote the effects of the product in question.

Quite simply, breathtakingly simple.

Copy Doesn’t Have to be Long…

Some of the most effective marketing communications are successful due to their simplicity. This stunning new anti-smoking advert uses only three words, but the impact is undeniable. Click on the picture to enlarge it…

The New Meerkat?

It is only extremely rare and isolated incidents when I become a man of very little words – and this is one such time. Drench, a bottled water brand in the UK, has launched a stunning new campaign featuring hamsters which can only be described as an assault on Compare the Meerkat’s ‘cutesy’ throne. Enjoy…

Social Media: It Extends Beyond Twitter You Know…

There’s no denying the fact that Twitter holds staggering sway over digital marketers and society at large. Mention ‘social media’ to anyone and Twitter is likely to be an automatic response. Whilst such a successful social media channel is a fantastic advocate for Web 3.0, digital marketers working in this channel need to remember that social media extends far beyond updating tweets of 140 characters.

Facebook may well have been the first social network to genuinely permeate society; however it’s Twitter that has gone that step further and integrated itself into our everyday lives, validating its position as the ‘poster boy’ of social media. But that’s exactly the point; just because Twitter is the David Beckham of the social media world doesn’t mean that there aren’t other players on that scene.

Take LinkedIn for example. The social network for professionals now has over 50 million members in over 200 countries and territories around the world. Executives from all Fortune 500 companies are LinkedIn members, which serves as a glowing reference for the power, and importance, social media now holds over all levels of society.

Whereas Twitter has become as valid a communications platform as email, playing host to conversations, breaking news and interesting links, LinkedIn allows users to develop much deeper relationships through its array of forums, groups and networks. Twitter may be getting all the press, but social media has an array of uses and consumers are using different channels for different purposes – and this is something digital marketers should not forget.

Pretty much every brand, company and organisation is now eager to ‘do’ social media. For the uneducated, this involves leaping on the Twitter bandwagon without due consideration, which results in a pointless offering that adds no real value to your customers. Whereas Twitter can greatly enhance your digital brand offering, this is only the case when it’s managed properly.

What the majority of companies need to remember is that social media extends far beyond Twitter. Careful thought and planning needs to be behind every digital marketing strategy – social media is no different. Get your brand on social media by all means, but consider the array of options available to you – your social media strategy cannot survive on Twitter alone.

We were all Social Media sceptics a year ago…

Social media sceptics are undeniably decreasing in number – the success of SM this year has generated enough proof to convert those that remain…

A year ago (and this is certainly true for British readers of this blog) Twitter was relatively unheard of. Whilst this statement is undeniable true, the fact that the social network is now so firmly entrenched in our daily lives and routines makes it difficult to imagine a time when we were sceptical about social media.

Nevertheless, as little as twelve months ago, many members of the marketing community claimed that social media was a fad and had little relevance for business, branding and networking. How wrong they were.

As 2009, undeniably the ‘Year of Twitter’, draws to a close, the digital marketing landscape is irrevocably different. Social media now dominates the digital marketing landscape for a number of reasons. For one, social media marketers now have a year’s further experience under their belt. Secondly, the channel is an excellent remedy to marketing budgets that have been constricted by the recession. Finally – and perhaps most importantly – it works.

Brands are now more connected and close to their consumers before – or rather, consumers are now more empowered. Brand relationships have become more intimate, purely due to the role social media has played.

To list an example from personal experience, I was looking for a particular book from Waterstones. Rather than go down the traditional route of looking at FAQs on the website, trying vainly to find an appropriate contact, emailing a ‘customer services’ address and then waiting days for a human response after an automated one had informed me my query would be ‘dealt with as soon as possible’, I looked to Twitter.

I found the Waterstones Twitter page in fifteen seconds, asked them a question and had a response (the one I was looking for) within ten minutes. Great customer service and a much more personal relationship between brand and consumer.

I agree with social media sceptics on one issue – you cannot build an entire marketing strategy around social media. However, when done right, social media is an essential value-add for your business that builds intimate relationships and strengthens your offering tenfold. We’ve come a long way in a year – and the ensuing twelve months will surely turn any remaining sceptics into social media converts.