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

 

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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?

 

 

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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.

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The Twitterverse..

More good stuff from Brian Solis..

 

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The History Of Advertising

with thanks to Infolinks.

 

Social Commerce 101

This is a presentation I did last year for a company I was consulting for called OWJO.
If you are thinking about starting a social commerce strategy, start with the social. Get that right first. Then add the commercial element.
If you have an actively engaged audience tools like OWJO will make you real money. Social commerce is definitely the future but it starts with social media.
View more presentations from OWJO

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