The End of Bullshit….How Our Online and Offline Persona Are Converging.



It may serve to let people know how old I really am but I remember the first tranche of chat rooms. These chat rooms were the embryonic beginnings of social media; they were the first places where we could connect with others in real time. The idea was that we could all connect and chat like some Star Trekesque utopia. The reality was much more stark and illustrated that we are closer in social graces to a drunk chimp than we are to Dr. Spock and his friends.


They were horrific. Like a never ending, first day of big school. The black canvased, colour-splashed houses of lies and untruth. You entered with a brave heart and a false personality. The user names were vicious. DeViL 666KiLler was the type of thing you would meet there, asking you to chat in a private room, “Eh, no thanks.”.


These chat rooms formed the basis of the “trolls” we see today. The difference was that in 1999, Trolls ruled the social web! It was their world and ordinary decent people were not welcome in it! Troll hierarchy was easy to figure out –


King Troll – the guy who knows more than three people in the “room” and offers opinion as fact in a 6 paragraph diatribe which starts with, “Well, whenever I was in the navy……” . Invariably he is 14 years of age and socially dysfunctional.


Everyone’s Favourite Troll – ironically named because he tends to wait until someone says something vaguely controversial before eviscerating them with some acerbic commentary. 21 year old philosophy student, every time.


Fake Troll – Says “Fake” to any opinion or fact put forward. YouTube was a godsend to these people and they now all live on the Isle of Man.


Homophobic/Racist/Violent/Sexist/Criminal Troll – Writes like a protégé of Goebbels and lives of everyone venting their spleen at his hatred. Will more often than not make assumptions about your parentage or sexual orientation. Delight. Usually a Young Conservative.



Then came the rise of the social networks. People started to break through the glass wall of fake online identity and put their online views forward as their offline self. Once I put my identity online and connected it to my real friends, I could not communicate as a pseudonym. Rather than Stud BoY 89 writing his views, it was now Philip Macartney. My views had to become more honest, my profile had to be more honest too, because Philip Macartney, was connected to Philip Macartney’s real life friends who would take him to task if they caught him exaggerating online, “Eh Phil, Ford Mondeo is not spelt F-e-r-r-a-r-i”. Social media had grown up in to transparency and accountability.


Once I had profiles out there, they followed me. If I want to comment on rubbish written in The Daily Mail or Fox News sites, I am generally signed in with Facebook using a service like Gigya or Janrain. My views are held to the account of my self and my reputation. Just like in real life.


Dating sites are the exception to this rule. In a dating site we want to put forward our best foot and not give anything away. While the dating profiles have evolved from the “Troll Years”, they haven’t reached full social maturity. The dating world is human kind at it’s most animalistic, feathers are boasted, chests are puffed and rears are shaken. It’s a sexual jungle and people want to hunt or be hunted. People share the bare minimum but what is shared is designed to attract a mate. You put surfing as a past time, even though you have only done it once, in order to attract hot surfing girls/guys. It’s digital Darwinism at its best, the more honest you are, the less likely you will be to find a mate. Those poor souls who wade in with an honest profile, soon churn out with a feeling of rejection and inadequacy. Yet, the person who skillfully passes himself as a “Modern Day Don Draper”, feasts on date after date.


Citysocializer is trying to bridge the gap between online and offline. We want our community to build up a rapport online before meeting round an event or social offline. We want digital social connection to be a seamless tool in human interaction. Our platform is designed to help converge the two worlds. Our mobile apps make that convergence faster and more natural.


Trolls will always be there. I have seen some epic trolling and to be honest, I hope it continues. The guy on Youtube who trolls everyone and has about 40 different careers, “I was in the marines for 20 years..” etc is brilliant. Bu there are times when I want to communicate with someone real, someone who is not just going to scream “fake” etc. Social accountability and transparency means that I can now reach out and do that and platforms like citysocializer mean that I can reach out to someone I don’t know, make a digital friend and meet them for a pint. Wouldn’t it be funny if they turned out to be a troll in real life?




Social Discovery Made Me More Interesting


I recently spoke at Digital Shoreditch Festival in London. A brave decision by the organisers (as I told my audience) to let me speak. The last time I spoke at a digital conference I insulted the Prime Minister of Romania ….to his face… Romania. I was lucky to get out alive. A story like that might make me sound interesting, I’m not, or rather, I’ve not been until of late.

Traditionally a life experience is dictated by what, who and where we know. Social Discovery changed all that and working in this space has meant I’ve had to practice what I preach – get out there and experience new things, find new stuff, and meet new people.

First step, I needed to figure out what the deal was with Social Discovery. Why were so many people getting into it? What was their reasoning? In trying to get some ideas for some Marketing content, I stumbled across a phrase that really worked for me in terms of putting it all in to perspective. “There’s More To Life Than….”. That phrase is an attitude in itself and is for me, the core of what Social Discovery is about.

I decided to put it in to practice. “There is more to life than watching Friends on a Thursday night.”. Turns out there is. I now watch Game of Thrones religiously. Although I thought this was a good example of me really discovering new things, my boss disagreed. I then decided to go out on a few socials on citysocializer and that’s when it went nuts.

I went out on a pub social and met some new friends. Great night, good people, no problem. Then I started getting invited out on some very different experiences – roller disco, drunk-bowling, camping, fancy dress athletics, powerboat driving. My life sounded like a Bodyform ad. Because I was operating outside of what I know and what my network knows, I was having brand new experiences. The experiences were made better because I was discovering them with new friends and my new friendships were galvanized by the shared experiences.

We all have a bit of passive discovery in our lives. We get new jokes in our inbox, we get new photos on our newsfeed but real discovery comes from embracing the concept. Real discovery is easy for some people, hard for others. Its like an education of you. It fills you with what can be, who you can know and what you can like rather than what you do. The new social discovery apps, sites and platforms will help those who embrace them to lead much fuller and richer lives. The fact that we have harnessed Social Discovery digitally now means that it is attainable, it is malleable. Social Networking has successfully connected us better to what, who and where we know. Social Discovery will connect you to that which you don’t.

It has now started to become obsessive for me. I am actively discovering new music, new film (or both in the case of Searching For Sugar Man – I recommend). The walls of my network have been broken down, I want to explore what I do not know, I want to connect with new people, I want to do new things. I have become interesting…or “less boring” as my wife put it.

Tagged , ,

Stop Thinking About The Many And Think About The One


There is a one dimensional view of social media that has taken root over the last few years. Brands, Agencies, Marketeers and my pet hate “Social Gurus” have all begun to talk about social as a viral platform. All of the metrics and all of the KPI’s are about virality and reach of message. “Push it out through social” is now the common and standard go phrase for social marketing of the message. Well, I am going to go ahead and tell you there is a second way, a way that concentrates on one rather than many.

The virality of social media is astonishing. The platforms continue to innovate and create new ways of content virality into their products. The Like button, the Share button, hashtags, pin boards, search perameters – we all use them and we all get that “Christ I am funny” moment when we get 20 Likes on our witty comment about X Factor. As our friends Like our comment so their friends see my comment in their timeline and say “Christ, he is funny” and hence advocate my humour with their like and so on and so on. Its great. It is a marketers wet dream. I will put my message out and everyone will Like it and hence everyone will buy my product – job done.

The problem is, it hasn’t quite worked out like that has it. Facebook is incredibly spammy. I am unliking brands as quickly as liking them and I should be liking all of them (it’s my job honest). The messages dont feel relevant to me. They dont stand true to the reason that I connected with this brand in the first place. I connected to this airline because they were having a competition. Now they are telling me that I can fly from Singapore to Malaysia for half price in December. Ok, great. I will definitely tell all my mates in Singapore that (please note the sarcastic tone here). This brand is now giving me a negative impression because, just like pre-social media it is talking at me not to me. It is now just spamming me in an area where I just dont want to be spammed and where I can turn them off.

This is what happens when you try to control social media in order to give yourself reach. Reach is 1.0 , and yesterdays performance indicator. Ignore reach. Reach is a bloated, fake tanned bouncer used to scare you by the big media agencies or a badly informed client. Ignore it, it is hot air. Engagement is the key. Not the banal and worthless engagement of a million PR companies – “Hey Guys, We have 50% off today” – that is just awful. I mean real engagement. Real conversation. When a brand reaches out to one person, calls them by name and converses with them honestly and without fear.

In building a social media strategy you should have true engagement as your main key performance indicator. One relationship, with one customer. That’s the starting point and that’s what you build on. I can hear the air being blown through teeth of the “Gurus and Marketeers” already. When you worship at the alter of Reach, Engagement seems very much like the devil. The world has changed. The walls the a brand had to hide behind are gone. Whereas before, my opinion of a brand would be formed by careful media and PR from the brand itself, now I can see what everyone thinks about the brand. I can find good and bad experiences from real people and I can communicate with the brand itself. In the new world, I and my opinion matter. I don’t necessarily need the brand to communicate with me all the time but I need to know it is possible.

My favourite way of illustrating social strategy at work is to use the party analogy (this may say more about the author than he would like). You see an interesting conversation going on at the party and one of your friends invites you to join in. There is an interesting woman dominating the conversation. She is a famous athlete and she is telling them about her Olympic exploits. Now, if that woman talks to the group as a whole, you think “She loves the attention” . If she directs her conversation to a few of her group, ignoring the ones she does not know, you think “I might not be welcome here”. But, if she directs her story and conversation across the whole group, asking questions, bringing everyone in to the story, you MIGHT think, “Hey, she is actually pretty cool.”. Of course, there are those of us who will ignore the whole thing and head for the bar.The analogy is meant to show that, we tend to absorb information better when we are actually engaging with it.

In order to make this happen in a practical way, we need to be relevant. One brand message cant be relevant to everyone. I would instead look to break up your brand into a number of different messages with your core brand channels at the centre. Brand X the competitions channel, Brand X the sponsorship channel, Brand X the Product Channel, Brand X the B2B Channel etc etc. Build a conversation, build a relationship with one person. If I support Arsenal (I don’t before the hate mail starts) then I might engage with Nike because they are the kit supplier. I don’t want to know about Nike Golf or Nike Tennis but I do want to know about Nike Arsenal and possibly Nike Football. That’s where we have a relationship and that’s where we can engage. Let me know what else you do but don’t keep on about it. Let me take the discussion to their by discovery or when it is relevant (Arsenal players playing golf??).

In order to find out what this means to a brand, the best thing is to think about the one. That one person. Once you have that person, work on getting the next and the next.Its a sort of count the pennies mentality.When you create your social strategy and communications with the thought of speaking to everybody, you end up communicating with none. Take the brave road and focus on the one. Engage one and the rest will come.

Tagged ,

CRM v Social CRM

I found this infographic from Our Social Times illustrating the difference between CRM and Social CRM. It makes good reading and is a good 101 tool for anyone wanting to get internal buy in to the social CRM approach. I like the idea of Social CRM but I would warn strategists to approach with caution. CRM at its heart is what social is about, managing your relationship with your customers. Unfortunately, CRM’s beginnings are pre web 2.0 and as such the systems and rules on which CRM operates are designed for a 1.0 world and a 1.0 audience.

They key differential is that in today’s socially connected world, listening to the consumer is just as important as telling them what you want them to hear. To truly have a social agenda in your CRM, you need to listen and base your engagement on what you have heard and understood. Social CRM is awesome and will be the core mechanic of all brand communications going forward. The most successful iterations of this will come from the brands that communicate rather than broadcast.


Tagged ,

Engaging At Scale

Engagement strategies are like ice cream flavours….there are alot of them, everyone has their favourite and it is hard to prove which one is best. I like the approach shown in this diagram. Activating your advocates is core to a successful approach, if they dont carry and engage with your message, who will?

Tagged ,

Pintrest Explained

Great presentation from ME Consulting on Pintrest.
View more PowerPoint from ME Consulting

Planning Your Social Media Strategy…..The 7 P’s Approach.


Proper Planning and Preparation Prevent Piss Poor Performance.

The Royal Marines, you have to love them for coming out with stuff like that. I have a friend who was a Royal Marine and when I worked with him, this was the mantra he drummed in to us all. I am sure the drill sergeant who came up with that handy little phrase didn’t envision it being used by social media nerds but for me it is one of the great truths in social media strategy.

Your first day as Head of Social Media for a company will have people cry at you, “Lets do this on Facebook, lets start a hashtag campaign,lets do a viral video, lets build an app…..”. It is your moral duty to slap these people and say,”Wait, we need to have a plan in place first.” . I am serious about the slap bit by the way.

Plan everything. Plan like you are Hannibal Smith from the A-Team. Plan what, why,how, who and where.

Planning is the only way your social media strategy can move closer to the heart of your business. Without a resolute plan of attack, your efforts will always be deemed to be PR or at best digital marketing when in most cases they can be so much more.

Planning will allow you to help dictate when content gets pushed out on social channels rather than being the last to know and the last to go.

My plan tends to include but not be limited to –

* Channel overview

* Brand Plan

*Consumer Plan

* Marketing Plan

* Crisis Plan

* Integration Plan

* Product Plan

*Content Plan


I am still finding things to plan.


Get planning…or I will send the Marine round.


Tagged ,

The Twitterverse..

More good stuff from Brian Solis..



The Future Of Facebook

Nice infographic on the future of Facebook.

Tagged ,