Reckitt’s strategic approach to Facebook marketing

Reckitt Benckheiser is taking social media seriously enough to start joint business planning with Facebook, according to AdAge:

Reckitt Benckiser, like other packaged-goods players, has long done business planning with major retailers such as Walmart and Target, where it maps out long-term promotional products and marketing programs. Now, RB is applying the concept to Facebook. (more…)

Six brilliant things social businesses and brands do

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Image: an excerpt from Strories, Numbers & Conversations. 

So, this week my company, Brilliant Noise, published its first paper: Stories, Numbers & Conversations: Nokia’s principles for social media.

It may sound strange to say about a strategy paper, but it was a labour of love, and Endless Studios did a great job on making it look beautiful too.

During our work with Nokia, we had the opportunity to revisit some of our favourite case studies of businesses that were using social media, as well as taking a look at some new ones. (more…)

Brands should think like talent, not publishers

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Brands publishers” is a very useful metaphor: it’s helped us explore the possibilities of inbound media, weaning marketing off the idea that attention is something you just pay for. But is it the right metaphor, or can it be limiting, at the very moment that we need to be thinking in a more open way?

Publishers may not be the best role models

In the excitement and head-nodding that discussion of “brand publishers” has stirred up we have not often enough paused to question the role model we are taking on. You know that all is not very rosy in the publishing garden, right? This is an industry being ravaged by web-based disruption as much, if not more, than any other.  (more…)

Cisco still all about the networks

Cisco is a company that I find very interesting indeed, as it has completely understood the importance of online networks not at just a technical level (its machines are what makes up much of what the internet is built on) but at a strategic business level.

That means much more than effusive but impractical “this changes everything” sentiment in the boardroom. Cisco, led by John Chambers’ born-again zeal for the potential of the hyper-connected world, has put its brains and brawn to work on building a networked company.

I blogged about the Cisco approach two years ago in a post called “Command and Control is Dead”. As I said, that means things like:

  • Accepting that the social network sum of its people is smarter than its C-level team
  • Embracing complexity and uncertainty about where technology, business and the whole world are headed
  • Designing business processes and growing a culture that takes both of the previous two points as its context
  • Being able to work in upwards of 25 major initiatives at once, where previously two at most were possible

Anyway, do read that original post and watch the video of John Chambers at MIT for more information.

Two years on, Cisco hasn’t deviated from pursuing the vision it laid out there. I was really interested to read an account by Andrew Sharrock of another Chambers keynote, this time last week in London, talking about how Cisco was doing and where its strategy was taking it next.

It seems that Cisco’s vision has deepened with experience, and the concept of Networked Economy taking over from the Information Economy is being discussed.

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Adapting to the age of networks is an imperative not just for technology companies, but whole nation states, for most of the West, Chambers says. When we’re seeing R&D jobs leaving the UK for emerging markets, this view really rings true.

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I was also interested to see the slide on Cisco’s Vision, Strategy and Execution, which shows global councils (see my previous post) still at the heart of being able to move on several fronts at once, seemingly producing the effect of allowing a big company to be agile, freeing itself from 20th century structures and accessing the latent power of its own human networks.

if you’re interested in reading more about Cisco’s Global Council approach, Andrew’s post also links to another by Raph D’Amico, which includes a diagram showing how Cisco prioritises opportunities.

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Causes and contexts: Arab Twitter revolutions and the origins of the First World War


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Image: A troop train in the First World War (cc) drakegoodman

@avschlieffen: Is anyone srsly suggesting trains caused the biggest war of all time? WTF!?! Get over it, you trainspotters. Rail isn’t everything.

@billthekaiser: LOL It wasn’t me it was the 11.24 to Gdansk that made me do it. ;)

Train timetables caused the biggest conflict the world had ever seen. 16 million dead, 21 million wounded. Mechanised destruction and suffering, literally on an industrial scale.

That was the argument of AJP Taylor, one of the most influential British historians of the latter part of the 20th century (and the godfather of TV dons). What he said was that the plans for troop movements a large scale war against both France and Russia simultaneously by German military planners depended on a sequence of trains deploying troops quickly to both fronts. Once you pressed the button, as it were, there was no turning back. If you paused you would lose the advantage and then the war.

So when they thought they had to go to war, the logic of the technology, the context created by the communications technology of the time (trains and telegraphs, to put it simply) meant that Germany had to commit completely.

It was a startling insight. Tragic and disorientating when you thought it through – this apocalypse was brought about by a human’s decision, but one which was warped by the technology, the systems they had created about themselves.

The web reveals the complexity of the world about us. It speeds things up. This much we know.

One effect of this is a flight to simplicity, it seems. People see the complexity and can’t accept – they want to know cause and effect: thing x causes thing y. Yes or no. You agree or disagree. Win or WTF.

It’s hard in 140 characters to include caveats and disclaimers, maybe that’s part of it.

Take the uprisings in Egypt and Tunisia over the past few weeks. Communications technology and social networks have been present, both on the streets, among the protagonists.

Did Facebook cause the revolution? Is it a Twitter revolution? These are partly silly questions, partly interesting ideas to follow through. Historians will soon enough, why shouldn’t we?

One thing is perspective, another is evidence, and then there’s time to reflect, think over hypotheses for and against. As events occur, it is hard to get a lot of any of these things.

Which is why a lot of the Twitter updates I’ve seen on this subject are likely to be filed/filtered as less useful noise, less likely to follow the links if they are saying something binary and self-evidently unconsidered “It’s a Twitter revolution!” or “social networks play no part in it – get over yourselves you technocrat Western narcissists.”

It is not unimaginable that the presence of web technologies have enabled people to communicate and coordinate street actions – there seems to be evidence that is the case. Twitter’s not the sole cause of the uprisings, just as train timetables were not the sole cause of the Great War.

Social networking technology and mobile phones are important part of the context, not of the causes of these events.

On a different, related note: corporations and Governments will behave differently about diplomacy because of the logic, the context of a hyper-connected world. Transparency will be assumed, knowledge will be assumed, the inevitability or high likelihood of disclosure will colour decision-making.

Twitter and Facebook and Google aren’t going to be the root causes of these things, but they will be the context, why things are able to happen in certain ways, why people choose to do certain things, for good and ill.

Coming back to the main point of this post, though – we shouldn’t waste energy on black and white debates about technology and current affairs. Acknowledge the fuzziness, embrace complexity – it’s the only useful way to make sense of the world.

: : For a useful analysis of the arguments around this issue (and links to some of the most interesting points of view) I recommend reading Matthew Ingram’s post on GigaOm It’s Not Twitter or Facebook, It’s the Power of the Network

: : And before any scholars jump in about the Twitter joke, yes I know Alfred von Schlieffen was dead by the time the First World War broke out. :)

Content & Social – what we learned at iCrossing: slides and notes from the International Content Summit


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I had a great time yesterday presenting at the first International Content Summit 2010, although I wish I could have spoken for longer as I had more to say than the fifteen minutes that were available. The brief was to talk about how to use social media with content. I prepared by speaking with some of iCrossing‘s senior content experts, Tamsin Hemingray, Charlie Peverett and Trisha Brandon. I founded the team four and half years ago but have not been involved directly for some time and they have evolved their approach brilliantly, with journalists now taking on parts of the research and analysis process from the social media analysts and developing more and more sophisticated and ambitious strategies for content. In order to make up for the slightly shorter than was comfortable talk yesterday, I am going to create some audio to go with this presentation in the next few days. In the meantime, these are some of the themes and, of course, below are the slides from my talk.

Everything in marketing and media is up for grabs
Rory Sutherland of Ogilvy had earlier mentioned that content was often the first thing to be cut when a downturn came around. There is a lot of opportunity for content specialists, I believe. Like their community manager cousins, the social web is disrupting media and marketing to such a degree that the industry is being re-shaped.

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Image: Viva Rory Sutherland!
Rather than being on the edge of the marketing mix, bold content strategists and teams can make a case to be at the top table. Like Blaise Grimes-Viort makes such a great, ambitious case for organisations to have a Chief Community Officer, there should be people ambitious to be the Chief Content Officer in their company (in fact, Julia Hobsbawm, founder of Editorial Intelligence, said that was precisely how she thought of herself).
iCrossing has always come from a networks perspective
Being a search firm originally, iCrossing’s perspective is informed by understanding the web as a medium that is comprised of and defined by networks. To understand how to be successful, we have to understand how networks (both human and machine, as I told Reputation Online yesterday) work.
This means that we think of branded content as being something that exists across networks rather than in one place and that success is achieved by how far and how fast content travels. Networks decide what is successful based on what is most useful to them.
Stories and numbers are key
This is what Dan McQuillan called “data storytelling” in a Twitter conversation with me today: it’s the ability to turn data into stories quickly so that people can understand and act on it. in content terms at iCrossing it means that measurement isn’t something that is an after-thought to the editorial/creative process, it fuels it, by providing insights about what people in the network are interested in, what sorts of content might want more of.
Keep your data and content people close to each other
Further to the last point, keeping the people who are researching and listening to the networks (the social media analysts in our case) close to the people creating the content (journalists) has paid off so many times.
There is a useful tension between the two about who knows their communities best, about what content will work. We have tried to preserve that tension and value it in the same way as the tension between the editorial and advertising teams at a traditional publisher. Journalists and social media experts sitting near to each other stumble across great ideas that might not come up in a formal meeting.
Default to social
Being social in the way that you create and distribute content is not an add-on or a tweak to the process. The social network should be in mind when coming up with ideas, and technically when building platforms (is the content findable, portable and shareable?).
Sharing and wanting to share, should be the default position. Even licencing can play a role in this. Organisations default to protecting intellectual property with copyright, when in fact copyright should be the exception.
Creative commons-attribution licences on your content means more people can use it more easily, in ways you have not thought of. I cited the Chinese translation of the iCrossing What is Social Media? e-book (more news on this later), but even the way you source and share images for a company blog can create new and unexpected connections with a network.
Digital literacy should be promoted across your organisation
Naturally, I didn’t waste the opportunity to put across the case digital literacy. The point is that if you want your content to be successful in social media, you need to be encouraging everyone in your teams, in the wider organisation to experience social media. Naturally, I think the best way to learn how social media and networks work is to start with number one, and look after your own personal reputation.
Nano-webshadows!
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Thanks to some nifty work between the APA, iCrossing and my publisher A&C Black there were hard copy versions of the first 25 pages of my book Me and My Web Shadow for every delegate.
I was chuffed to say the least to see the pamphlet-sized versions of the book – it was the first time we had done something like this. Hopefully people liked them, and maybe some will go on to buy the book. If you want your own electronic version, of course, they are available over here

Twenty Commandments

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Curtis points to some TED commandments, that sounds like not only good rules for conferences, but a lot more in life besides… The guy who posted them recounts:

After you’re asked to be a speaker at the TED conference, a number of things happen to you, some of them by mail. The most dramatic so far would have to be a freaking slab of rock with the TED speakers’ guidelines printed on it.

They are:

  1. Thou Shalt Dream a Great Dream, or Show Forth a Wondrous New Thing, Or Share Something Thou Hast Never Shared Before
  2. Thou Shalt Not Simply Trot Out thy Usual Shtick
  3. Thou Shalt Reveal thy Curiosity and Thy Passion
  4. Thou Shalt Tell a Story
  5. Thou Shalt Freely Comment on the Utterances of Other Speakers for the Skae of Blessed Connection and Exquisite Controversy
  6. Thou Shalt Not Flaunt thine Ego. Be Thou Vulnerable. Speak of thy Failure as well as thy Success.
  7. Thou Shalt Not Sell from the Stage: Neither thy Company, thy Goods, thy Writings, nor thy Desparate need for Funding; Lest Thou be Cast Aside into Outer Darkness.
  8. Thou Shalt Remember all the while: Laughter is Good.
  9. Thou Shalt Not Read thy Speech.
  10. Thou Shalt Not Steal the Time of Them that Follow The

Euan loves Umair’s Twitter commandments, which, as Mr Semple says “I reckon are spot on for how to be successful in whatever you do in the future”.

As expected, set my brain sizzling. Like Euan, I will leave them as headings and encourage you to read the whole of Umair’s post.

  1. Ideals beat strategies.
  2. Open beats closed.
  3. Connection beats transaction.
  4. Simplicity beats complexity.
  5. Neighborhoods beat networks.
  6. Circuits beat channels.
  7. Laziness beats business.
  8. Public beats private.
  9. Messy beats clean.
  10. Good beats evil.

Twenty Commandments

freedom

Curtis points to some TED commandments, that sounds like not only good rules for conferences, but a lot more in life besides… The guy who posted them recounts:

After you’re asked to be a speaker at the TED conference, a number of things happen to you, some of them by mail. The most dramatic so far would have to be a freaking slab of rock with the TED speakers’ guidelines printed on it.

They are:

  1. Thou Shalt Dream a Great Dream, or Show Forth a Wondrous New Thing, Or Share Something Thou Hast Never Shared Before
  2. Thou Shalt Not Simply Trot Out thy Usual Shtick
  3. Thou Shalt Reveal thy Curiosity and Thy Passion
  4. Thou Shalt Tell a Story
  5. Thou Shalt Freely Comment on the Utterances of Other Speakers for the Skae of Blessed Connection and Exquisite Controversy
  6. Thou Shalt Not Flaunt thine Ego. Be Thou Vulnerable. Speak of thy Failure as well as thy Success.
  7. Thou Shalt Not Sell from the Stage: Neither thy Company, thy Goods, thy Writings, nor thy Desparate need for Funding; Lest Thou be Cast Aside into Outer Darkness.
  8. Thou Shalt Remember all the while: Laughter is Good.
  9. Thou Shalt Not Read thy Speech.
  10. Thou Shalt Not Steal the Time of Them that Follow The

Euan loves Umair’s Twitter commandments, which, as Mr Semple says “I reckon are spot on for how to be successful in whatever you do in the future”.

As expected, set my brain sizzling. Like Euan, I will leave them as headings and encourage you to read the whole of Umair’s post.

  1. Ideals beat strategies.
  2. Open beats closed.
  3. Connection beats transaction.
  4. Simplicity beats complexity.
  5. Neighborhoods beat networks.
  6. Circuits beat channels.
  7. Laziness beats business.
  8. Public beats private.
  9. Messy beats clean.
  10. Good beats evil.