Five Must-Read Posts from Last Week

5MustReads The last week has been a bit of a blur – and I was just not able to finish off the five must-read posts last week … so I’m jamming two weeks together now. Slightly early … and maybe you’ll find this an antidote for insomnia on Sunday evening – or an inspiring way to start your Monday. Either way – I trust you will enjoy these five great reads.

  1. Trevor Young hits it out of the ballpark with his great post I’ve Seen Marketing’s Future and its Name is Amanda Palmer. Superb thinking and connecting of the dots
  2. Kate Carruthers looks at the big shifts between the 19th, 20th and 21st centuries – focusing on the digital economy and the digital revolution
  3. Any marketing practitioner will know – often through bitter experience – that our jobs are infinitely harder than they used to be. But Bill Lee says the evidence is clear – Marketing is Dead
  4. The climate change deniers can deny all they like. But Bill McKibben says you just need to follow the figures to realise just who the real enemy is – Global Warming’s Terrifying New Math
  5. I’ve been saying it for years – share the message but OWN the destination. But Ray Wang pulls no punches –> Brands are dumb if they drive traffic to Facebook. Read it and weep suckers!

How to Listen with Free and Paid Social Media Monitoring Tools – Pharma and Healthcare

Yesterday I spoke at the 2012 Digital Pharma Seminar hosted by Princeton Digital and VIVA!Communications. The topic was “building a digital roadmap” … or more precisely, where to start with digital strategy for pharmaceutical companies.

In highly regulated and competitive industries like pharmaceuticals, there is, however, a greater level of attention paid to the area of “listening and monitoring”. And the Medicines Australia code of conduct, edition 16, explicitly addresses social media in section 12.9 as follows:

Information provided to the general public via any form of social media must comply with the provisions of Section 12.3, 12.4, 12.5, 12.6 and 12.7 of the Code.

The focus, essentially, is on the provision of accurate and scientifically reliable information – not promotion. So I thought it may be useful to modify my How to Listen Infographic specifically for pharma. It also includes a small selection of tools that can be used to support your monitoring efforts – including free sites like and Google Alerts – as well as “for fee” and “freemium” platforms like Radian6, NetBase and HootSuite.

Be sure to let me know if you have improvements or other suggestions!

The @MarsCuriosity Rover Has More Personality Than Most Brands

When NASA’s Curiosity Rover hit the ground on Mars, it was minutes before we knew its fate (see infographic below). It takes some time for light and data to travel the 35 million miles between Earth and Mars. And yet we sat glued to the streamcast of dozens of people sitting at desks at Mission Control – hanging on every disembodied word from the flight controller – effectively living moments that had already happened.

Meanwhile, across the twitterstream, the @MarsCuriosity account was brimming with enthusiasm and pithy one-liners. One of my favourites is below.

It makes me wonder … why can’t brands adopt social media with such passion and interest? Why can’t they embrace an attitude that engages their audiences?

But it’s not just Twitter that NASA has mastered. They have open sourced their imagery and data – allowing anyone to design their own NASA-focused infographics (aka the social media expert’s tool of choice). After you have created your own infographic, you can then upload it to be shared with the NASA audience – giving you more than just a touch of space nerd celebrity.

At a guess, NASA have followed this path for a strategic reason – to drive a powerful emotional connection with a global, passionate and technically-literate audience. And at some point – around budget time – that audience will be called upon to help sway the thinking of penny-pinching politicians.

And if NASA – can orchestrate this type of sophisticated global engagement program – why can’t brands?


When Your Brand Tells My Story – P&O’s 175th Anniversary

About four years ago I started looking at the future of brands. I wanted to explore in a series of articles what I felt was coming down the track – and to think through the implications from a branding point of view. I decided back then, that there were five key aspects that marketers would need to address:

  1. Play – how do we bring a sense of playfulness and engagement to brands – particularly in the “digital” space
  2. Micro – understanding the power of small interactions and the way these customer interactions crush the slow moving “big idea”
  3. Performance – what does it mean for a brand to “live” in a digitally-connected, always-on world
  4. Content – how content is at the heart of your brand (whether you know it or like it – or not)
  5. You – the personal dimension of branding – and what I now call “the social way”

Interestingly, I still hold these elements in my mind when I look through various campaigns and digital programs that flash across my various screens. And for better or worse, most advertising or the digital equivalent leaves me cold, detached, emotionally vacant. Every now and then I do, however, see cause for hope.

The P&O microsite celebrating 175 years of cruising history is one such ray of hope. There’s a touch of playfulness (and even some elements of the P-L-A-Y content model), micro interactions in the form of passenger stories and images, the potential for commentary and interaction, and a nice easy-to-use microsite.

Edge_P&OCruises_175 Years_Image3 copy

But this is still seems to be a brand under management rather than a truly “social brand”. Surely there are thousands of stories of P&O passengers that have already been shared on social sites like Flickr, Facebook, Tumblr or YouTube – could it have been possible to tap into what already exists? Perhaps orchestrating the permissions etc was beyond scope or budget … and yet, I wonder how a more open platform might have seen the number of submissions leap ahead – or generate more buzz around what is a great storytelling idea.


Contrast this, for example, to vibrant immediacy of the visual storytelling offered by This is Sydney Now. Drawing on the Instagram API, it shows in real time what is being tagged and shared on that photography-inspired platform. It’s voyeuristic, messy and highly addictive. To have your photo appear, all you need to do is to take a photo on a smartphone and include the geo-tag location information (a simple on/off option in the Instagram app).

Now imagine if there was 175 years of that sort of storytelling available? Now that would be a story to blow your mind.

With Mobile Commerce, We Are All Retailers Now

Closing DownThe early days of eCommerce were a hard slog. The technology was cumbersome and unreliable, the gateways were expensive and the business community was sceptical. And the shoppers … well even the early adopters were hesitant – concerned about credit card numbers, identity theft and having to pay for goods in advance that may never arrive.

But over time most of those issues have been overcome. And even those that still concern us – like identity theft, security and so on – are traded for convenience. After all, we are generally happy to share our credit card information when a deal is ready to be done.

Mobile commerce – or mCommerce – however, has been able to ride the shirt tails of eCommerce. In many ways, the success of sites like Apple’s iTunes and Amazon have not only changed our sense of trust – they have changed our consumer behaviour. Just think, for example … when was the last time you bought a DVD or a music CD from a shop? For many of us, digital experience is at the core of our understanding and acceptance of so many brands.

And as we follow the bridge of convenience through our mobile devices, we will find ourselves using what businesses call mComerce (though we will just view it as convenience). And this makes me think again – that for the future of our brands, we need to think mobile first but with a social heart.

But our businesses challenges do not stop at the mobile gateway. In fact, they are just the start of a business trend that is going to transform our industries. A couple of years ago, well respected content marketing evangelist, Joe Pulizzi  urged us to think about EVERY business as a “publishing business” – but now in the same way – we have no choice but to consider ourselves RETAILERS too. We are always on, always connected and always SELLING as the infographic from BigCommerce, below, shows. The question is … are you ready?


Listening, Watching, Analysing with Jugnoo

jugnoo-vibewire Danny Brown, VP of social CRM vendor, Jugnoo, writes one of the most useful social media focused blogs on the planet. He regularly takes on the hard topics and delves deep into the underlying behaviours to reveal the context in ways that we mere mortals can understand. So when he starts talking about visualising social media, my ears prick up.

Releasing their Tweet Visualyzer into free beta, it allows you to impose visual order on the chaos of Tweetstream. You can divide up your reporting across seven functions:

  • What – is everyone talking about
  • When – did they say it
  • Who – is involved and who started it all
  • Word – how did they say it
  • How – did they send their message (client, web, platform)
  • Group – are there self-forming conversations and who is in them
  • Tag cloud – what are the keywords around your topic or brand

I thought I’d take it for a quick spin – and run the #fastBREAK hashtag through. fastBREAK is the regular monthly innovators event run by Vibewire and the Powerhouse Museum in Sydney – and we get quite a strong tweetstream running thanks to a connected and passionate audience. Last month’s topic was “lies” (read a review here) which clustered a lot of conversation according to the graph above.

Recommendation But my favourite view of the data comes with the Group tab. Here you get to see the people/accounts who are conversing on the same topic. It lets you see some of the social dimension of the conversation – to see what is common, what is retweeted and from this, what is resonating.

Of course, this is just a reporting tool – it lets you listen and watch. The analysis and thinking you will have to do yourself. But just wait until it’s integrated into Jugnoo’s social CRM platform. That’s when it could all get interesting.

What do you think? Something you’d use?

Retail Innovation? Try Embracing Showrooming

2005Mar-AustinTypeTour-137 - Roadhouse Relics - Visit Our ShowroomYou know what it is like … you see an item online. It’s a great deal – a special price and a coupon code. That credit card is burning a hole in your desk. But in the back of your mind is that one lingering doubt … will it fit.

So what do you do? You “showroom” – you go in-store to check the item for size, fit, colour or texture. You do your “shopping” in-store and you make your purchase online. This practice is known as “showrooming” and a recent article suggests that retailers have some work to do to avoid falling victim to this new shopping trend. Retail software vendor, CrossView, suggest that cross-channel retailing is the answer.

And there is big business at stake – with more than one in two Australian shoppers aged over 15 now shopping online. PwC and Frost & Sullivan predict that 2012 online spending levels will hit $16 billion – and will grow at a compounded growth rate of 14.1% through 2016. But these figures don’t include travel, events, financial services or media downloads.

This is backed up not only by spending but by brand awareness and customer engagement via social media. According to, Australians love online shopping – with Fashion, eCommerce and FMCG industries ranking the top three Australian Facebook pages in the year up to July 2012.

And it is this convergence of eCommerce and social media – in what we can loosely call “social commerce” – that is potentially a game changer for retail. For decades we have seen an entrenched refusal of Australian retailers to invest in the kind of digital experimentation required to lead to breakthrough innovation. This, in turn, left gaping holes in the market – which benefited companies like Apple and Amazon.

But if we look to emerging consumer behaviour we can see not only threat but opportunity. What if retailers were to embrace showrooming? What if, rather than discouraging it through restrictive in-store policies and management – retailers owned, encouraged and transformed the customer experience so that it was EASY for shoppers to showroom.

After all, if the social web has taught us anything in the last decade it is that consumerisation crushes all obstacles.

Going Social: CEOs Leading By Example

In most businesses, social media starts its life in marketing. Tucked away in the corner, a Facebook page here or a Twitter account there, staffed during the lunch hour when your brand manager gets a moment, these efforts are truly grass roots.

But the levels of consumer use (and dare I say it, “love”) of social networks have dragged social media out of the corner desk into the corner office. These days, social isn’t so much about media as about business – and this shift has put social on the CEO radar.

But it is one thing to be “on the radar” and quite another to put “social business” into a context that works for your brand and for your organisation’s broader goals. Not only are CEOs exceptionally busy, so too are their direct reports – so making time for social media training, executive support or active participation can be a challenge.

All executives, however, understand the principle that CEOs set the culture that drives business results. And in an increasingly connected world, “social” is moving from a “nice to have” to a “game changer”. A recent study from IBM indicated that high performing companies are 30% more likely to identify “openness” (as characterised by social media) as a cultural driver.

Furthermore, with a vast pool of ready-to-harvest customer data available within enterprise systems – when coupled with the unstructured sea of social network information, 73% of CEOs are making significant investments in the area of analytics and customer insight.

SocialCEOsBut at the end of the day – how many CEOs are making a shift towards social at a personal or practical level? The 2012 Fortune 500 Social CEO Index indicates that 70% of CEOs have NO PRESENCE on social networks.

So it seems – that despite entrenched consumer and customer behaviour – businesses are lagging behind. And yet, CEOs like Rupert Murdoch and Meg Whitman are embracing – albeit experimentally – and building large personal audiences and direct connections to their business stakeholders. Are they anomalies or the very beginning of a trend? For while 70% of CEOs have no presence, 30% do. And that means, according to the theory of diffusion of innovations we are already into the “early majority” audience.

And that to me is the key.

We don’t need to see the volume now – we just need to see the trend. And it smells like disruption to me.