Three Things Cycling Taught Me About Social Media

IMG_0064 I must admit to being a reluctant cyclist. Sure, I like the benefits and I even like getting out in the weather – but it can be hard to overcome the initial inertia. There is one thing, however, that fascinates me about cycling – and that is the way that your mind begins to make the most wonderful connections as your body starts to get “into the zone”.

As I start to feel my body warm up and my heart rate hit a comfortable cadence, there is always a collision of thought and experience. Here are five things that I learned as a cyclist that I value in social media:

  1. It’s harder to build momentum than to maintain it. As you approach a hill on your bike, it can appear insurmountable. But on the flat you have momentum – it is easier to build your pace down low and to carry that up the hill. If save your effort until you lose momentum halfway up, it takes much more effort achieve a much smaller outcome. When it comes to social media, keep a steady pace. You’ll find it much harder to re-start if you stop, pause or suspend your efforts.
  2. It’s no point being in the right and being in the hospital. Cycling can be dangerous. There are potholes, glass and plenty of cars around you. And while taking five seconds off your personal best time is an achievement, if you put yourself at risk in the process, it’s not worth it. Ease off, suck up the 5 seconds and finish in one piece. In social media, you are bound to come up against people with opinions that rub you the wrong way. Are they the audience you are seeking? Are they provoking a response from you? Maybe they are just trolls.
  3. Five minutes of planning and preparation can change your day. It’s easy just to jump on your bike and head off for a ride. But have you got water? What about a spare tyre? A pump? If something goes wrong and you get a flat, it’s great to know that you can fix it and keep going in a matter of minutes. But realising that you left your repair kit on the bench and walking your bike home can be demoralising. The same applies to social – when you step out online, make sure you know where you are going and that you have what you need to enjoy your efforts. Don’t be caught short.

Five Must-Read Posts from Last Week

5MustReads We all want our communications to “cut through” – to reach the people who matter and have an impact (no matter how small) in their lives. But in our push to make this happen, we often contribute to the noise rather than strengthening the signal. This is where strategy and tactics combine. But which comes first? Last week’s articles provide some suggestions. Enjoy!

  1. There is no doubt that we are overwhelmed by information. And yet, at the same time, we consume it at ever increasing rates. One of the challenges we face as marketers is sorting the wheat from the chaff. Valeria Maltoni explains why listening is hard and how to think critically.
  2. Are you driving change in your marketplace or just responding to it? Greg Verdino thinks it’s time for marketing leaders to place some bets and start by working from what we know is true.
  3. We hear a lot about businesses and not-for-profit organisations – but the growing rise of “social enterprises” represents a way between the two. What are they and how are social entrepreneurial organisations different? Jen Stumbles shares a personal view.
  4. Many small businesses baulk at the idea of investing in a website. Yet many of those same business owners regularly purchase online. What is the disconnect? Craig Wilson shares the results of a recent survey that shows those business who go online are generating almost half of their sales this way.
  5. A great article from Faris Yakob showcasing the 7 habits of highly effective communication. Read and act on it!

B2B Marketing Benchmarks and Trends + Two Insights for Content Marketers

The Content Marketing Institute (CMI) and MarketingProfs today launched the 2013 edition of their B2B marketing benchmarks and trends report.

Based on a survey of over 1400 marketers in North America, the report reveals the trends impacting corporate marketers across the full spectrum of business size:

  • Content marketing remains a priority: With 90% of marketers using content marketing in some form, using up to 12 tactics to deliver on their programs
  • Social media leads the way for content marketing: With an 87% adoption rate, social media has become the #1 tactic for content marketers
  • Budgets will grow in 2013: Content marketing accounts for 33% of marketing budgets, and more than half of those surveyed indicate that budgets will increase in 2013.

While the trends are good news for content marketers, there are TWO revealing insights based on this report:

  1. Marketers will demand content performance analytics. While content marketing has the CONFIDENCE of marketers, there seems to be a gap between that confidence and hard figures around effectiveness. As budgets increase, so too will accountability. Marketers will demand performance-oriented analytics to justify budgets, prove channel and content effectiveness and optimize campaign performance
  2. Brands will turn to agile content producers. The survey indicates that the #1 challenge is producing ENOUGH content. While there has been a trend towards in-sourcing content (56%), we are also seeing the rise of agile content production agencies and sole traders (which is part of the Constellation Research business theme the Future of Work). Faced with increasing demand for content and supported by content performance analytics, content marketers will turn to agile content producers to fill the gap in their content marketing schedules


Report – CMOs: Time to Re-Cast the Marketing Funnel

It is often said that companies only have two functions – marketing and innovation. Despite this, most corporate marketing practices are based on century old theories and frameworks that no longer adequately accommodate the complexities faced by today's CMO. Rather than the inside-out view offered by the traditional marketing funnel, marketers need to develop a view of the customer journey that takes into account the challenges and opportunities presented by digital and social technologies.

To be released tomorrow this "big picture" report provides an outside-in view of the “connected customer” and key stages in next generation customer experience. The report provides a vital framework for marketing leaders seeking to move from a transactional relationship with their customers to one based on what I am calling the “5 Ds of Customer Engagement”.

But wait! There’s more!

You can go beyond the report and join me for a webinar on this topic to understand:

1. Six trends driving change in digital marketing
2. How the 5 Ds of customer engagement reflect the new realities in customer engagement and marketing
3. Key recommendations for marketers seeking strategic approaches rather than simply digitizing "business as usual"

And the best thing to remember about a webinar is that they are recorded. If you can’t join live, register and watch in your own time and tweet me with any questions.

A Palpable Dis-Ease – Graham Brown’s Mobile Youth

We don’t have to look far to see that we are living in a digital world. On my desk sits half a dozen connected devices, wifi enabled, flashing, beeping, spewing updates from sites, friends and acquaintances thousands of miles away. But for me, this is a world that I have chosen to participate. For many in the Gen X and Baby Boomer demographics, adoption of technology has been a conscious choice. We grapple with this changing world for work or for pleasure – sometimes for both … but always with the knowledge that the off button is only a short distance away.

But for succeeding generations – the always connected Gen Y and Gen Z groups, there has never been a time of “non-connection”. A battery or wifi failure is not just a technical issue. It’s an existential crisis.

In May 2012, when young Chinese student, Xiao Zheng, sold his kidney in order to buy an iPad2, the headlines around the world amplified the outrage. From the outside it’s easy to point a finger and call out the insatiable materialistic desires of a morally bankrupt generation. But surely there is something deeper going on.

Graham Brown’s new book The Mobile Youth digs below the surface to reveal a compelling story of dis-ease. Peppered with statistics, insight – and most importantly – an anthropologist-cum-storytellers eye for observation, Graham reveals a hard truth that we all share in:

The rise of technology isn’t undermining the social fabric of society. Technology’s rise is a response to our loss of a meaningful social world.

As a reader of a lot of business communication (books, blogs, papers, presentations), I am often disappointed that the power of the writing doesn’t match the power of the ideas. This book is the opposite. It’s a business book written in the style of a page-turning blockbuster. For anyone interested in the changes taking place in our society and the collision of generations, culture and communication, it makes for compelling reading.

But most importantly, it provides an insight into the seemingly disconnected nature of our ever-more connected lives. Download your copy of The Mobile Youth and let me know what you think. I found it fascinating.

Five Must-Read Posts from Last Week

5MustReadsThe profusion of digital media – not just in terms of technology but also in terms of content – can be overwhelming. Brands, businesses and bloggers are all working to create a toehold in your imagination – creating content aimed to attract, entice and engage. But sometimes we don’t need something new, we just need a guide to what is already available. Here are five posts from last week that might just do the trick for you.

  1. “Can we make the logo bigger”. Ever heard that from a client? Ever asked it to a designer? Too often we confuse a brand with a logo. Drew McLellan reminds us that your brand is more than a logo – it’s an experience.
  2. Recent changes to Facebook will be felt by all brands using pages as part of a social media strategy (here’s hoping your entire strategy isn’t Facebook). It’s not JUST that your reach figures are down – but that you’ll have to rethink your content and engagement approach. This is likely to be costly and challenging says Mandi Bateson.
  3. A man called Thomas Cook, called out travel company Thomas Cook on their Facebook page, asking for compensation for years of ridicule. He cheekily suggested a weekend in Paris ought to cover it. Rival stepped in and gazumped Thomas Cook UK right there on their “own” Facebook page. The DailyMail has the full story.
  4. Olivier Blanchard steps us through the five stages of a crisis and how to manage one through your digital channels
  5. While not really a “post” – this call out for interns from Graham Brown is a great opportunity for an aspiring digital anthropologist. If you are ready to go deep into the world of youth culture and behaviour, drop Graham a line.

Men … How Dense Are You?

While osteoporosis more frequently affects women than men, men with hip fractures have a mortality rate two-to-three times higher than women.

And as 30-to-40 per cent of fractures due to osteoporosis occur in men, it’s clearly an issue that men should be (cough) seeing their doctors about. The only way men can find out if they are at risk of osteoporosis is to have a bone density scan – which, yes, sounds like a visit to the doctor.

Rather than searching Dr Google, Osteoporosis Australia have created a simple test to help you find out whether you are at risk. You can take the test at

Just do it –> remember early detection of low bone density can prevent osteoporosis.


What Your Purchases Reveal About You

The promise of big data is that it produces a win-win outcome for the customer and the business. As consumers, we relinquish our fears over (and some rights to) privacy, and in return receive a range of benefits – free access to networking tools, file and photo sharing, email and so on. It’s a well-worn path created by technology companies like Google and Facebook.

But who really wins in this big data exchange? For example, Dominos Pizza found that by analysing data, more pizza is ordered when it rains. This simple insight allows them to target offers to people in locations where it is inclement – using, of course, big data to do so. There could be a win-win here in that rainy weather may prompt us to seek warm, convenient food such as pizza – but we may also ask which comes first, the pizza craving or the suggestive sell?

This infographic from CamCode reveals some surprising statistics about the big data that is already out there and available to your favourite retailers. And while the advertising may suggest that you are important to retailers, it seems they don’t really want YOU. They want your data.

customer-profiling-infographic (1)

Why a Facebook Only Strategy is Doomed to Fail

strategicprinciples Facebook’s recent decision to shut down The Cool Hunter’s Facebook page should have sent shivers down the spine of every marketer. For years the vast scale of Facebook has attracted brands like a moth to the social media flame. Promising TVC-like reach with the added benefits of interactivity, community building and interest-graph targeting, it seemed that Facebook was the answer to the prayers of digital marketers the world over.

But a Facebook only strategy is doomed to fail:

  • Facebook is well-known for changing their terms and conditions without consultation. If you are not on top of those changes you can find yourself in breach and at risk of being shut down
  • Many brands run competitions on their Facebook pages without understanding the restrictive rules for doing so – see particularly Item E (iv) about the use of the Facebook “Like” button as a competition entry mechanism. Again, transgression could see your page shut down
  • Facebook is a walled garden designed to keep interaction and activity firmly on the inside. If you are going to the trouble of engaging your connected consumers, building your community and deepening the brand relationship, you run the risk of being “Cool Hunted” and losing that entire investment if you are shut down
  • Facebook, while large in scale, is only one social network. Digital marketers should be aiming for quality of engagement and deep next gen customer experience over “reach”

Three steps to reclaim your digital strategy

Facebook can still be a useful (and powerful) platform – but it should be part of your strategy to drive marketing and business outcomes. For example, it should not BE your strategy. There are three steps you can take to reclaim your digital strategy:

  • Use a continuous digital strategy. In a digital world, strategy is not “set and forget”. Following a proven approach to set, refine and extend your digital strategy provides deep resilience in the planning and execution of your strategy
  • Strategy drives decisions. You must have a clearly articulated and documented strategy. It should provide a guiding principle. “Share the Message, Own the Destination” will not only drive the content and conversational approach, but will also inform your technology choices
  • Use technology to scale. While social media offers one-to-one communications, this cannot scale in a business context. There are a range of technologies that can assist you to scale the execution of your strategy. This topic is the focus of my future research, be sure to subscribe for updates.

Five Must-Read Posts from Last Week

5MustReads Some of the articles from last week took my breath away. They are artfully written and deliver a slap to the face and a jolt to the brain. Some are by local writers – but as usual I source the best writing from all parts of the world.

I trust that these five posts will help kick start your working week in the best possible way.

  1. My earliest experience of the internet was before the “world wide web” existed. Or certainly before I knew of things such as “web browsers”. Back then I would dial-in and manually connect to a BBS to check or write email, play games and find answers to questions. It was primitive in many ways, but it was inherently social. This kind of interaction is what Alexis C Madrigal calls Dark Social and he thinks we have the whole history of the web wrong.
  2. A brilliant post by John Hagel on the paradox of preparing for change. It comes down to focusing on three things. Read the post to learn what they are. You’ll be glad you did.
  3. Umair Haque can turn the world on its edge – delivering insight with poetry. Last week he served up a challenge. His article wanting meaningful work is not a first world problem. And as I viewed my family tree stretching back to the workhouses of 1850s London, it made me hope there was an occasional break in the cloud cover.
  4. If you are interested in the concept of online influence, do yourself a favour and check out Danny Brown’s social influence and the shift of the Carnegie Principle. Then you’ll understand why I’m less than ecstatic about my Klout score.
  5. Francis McCarthy has a great summary of the recent Social Media Club, Sydney event that goes beyond the ordinary level of description. It’s a post so descriptive you can almost smell the perfume in the audience.