Category Archives: Social Media

Becoming Immortal – the digital tattoo/scar!

In this blog post I want explore a theme that I have touched on before and that a lot of other people in the industry are covering as well – the idea of our own digital presence. Recently I watched a very good TED talk by Juan Enriquez, where he briefly looks at the idea that our digital presence, the information that exists about us on the internet, is like a tattoo. This is an interesting (and very relevant) idea for two reasons; firstly that the perception of tattoos is varied and in many cases negative, and secondly tattoos are largely (although not entirely) permanent and therefore the choice to have one is something that the person then has to live with.

Juan Enriquez uses an example whereby using face recognition technology it would be possible to instantly download data about that person from all manner of sites (Facebook, Twitter, Blog sites, GPS, SMS, etc. etc.) before you had so much as said hello to that person. As he says, there is an instant commercial application to this; a shop could find out all the information about a customer and alert a sales person to then promote a special offer that they know meets the persons interests and needs. You could see this approach as either negative and intrusive or positive and convenient, but there is a very interesting comparison here to the “Cookie Law” issues that arose in the last couple of years. The problem that many people will see with this is that assumptions are being made about you that are not based on getting to know you personally, and you are being treated differently because of that. But the opposite could also be argued – that they are getting to know you so that they make your experience more relevant.

The biggest issue, as Enriquez correctly identifies, is that like a tattoo our digital presence in this case is built up of data about ourselves that is fixed. It is possible to change that data over time but because it is in ‘the cloud’ whatever data they see about us is what they will use to decide how to engage with us at that moment. Unlike a tattoo though, which a person decides upon (hopefully with great thought), the data about us is more than likely to be more than just what we decide it will be. It will be made up of data from all sorts of sources, some of which will not be controlled by us and may be misleading. Take a situation where someone goes for a job interview and the company uses this same technique to perform a covert assessment of attitudes and aptitude before talking to them. Their name may have been mentioned, with or without their knowledge, on a forum involving a debate about a hot political issue. The company may then use this information to make a judgement about the candidate without knowing the context of the forum or even if that person is aware of their link to it.

Another point that Juan makes, which is very relevant, is that tattoos are permanent and when it comes to digital tattoos this is important both now and after we have gone. There are plenty of cases where people have lost their jobs because they have been foolish enough to write something derogatory, confidential or abusive on a social media site. That foolishness is in the cloud and being syndicated to potentially lots of other sites, so deleting it from the original one won’t necessarily help. This mistake may stop that person getting a similar job in the future as well. Mud sticks!

This is only going to get more and more important to bear in mind. If our digital presence is going to be used to research us then we need to be sure that what appears in their is something that we are happy with. We will never be able to completely control it, but making sure that we don’t assume anonymity because we are sat at a computer is pivotal. A couple of years ago I experienced an embryonic version of this in a job interview. I has listed on my LinkedIn profile that I am a freelance photographer, because I saw LinkedIn as a place to show my varying skills as well as my current job role. In the interview I was subjected to the Spanish Inquisition over this decision and they used it as a basis for concern about my long term viability, on the assumption that I would want to eventually become a full time photographer. Unfortunately they made this assumption without first asking my view on this, so they didn’t understand how I was using LinkedIn and what my intentions were.

So what about the good side of a digital tattoo. Well there are some very real advantages and the near future, let alone the distant future, will rely on these more and more. We already have near field communication (NFC) technology that allows us to pay for things using our phone, without taking our phone out of our pocket. And the phone we carry around now is already a portable persona for ourselves. As we store more and more information on these devices they will start to be used more and more as a way of us passing our information seamlessly to the environment around us, allowing us to suppress things we are not interested in and engage with things that we are interested in. The idea of being able to personalise not just the online world, but also the physical world, by effectively putting our digital key into the lock means that we will be able to engage with things in a whole new way. Whether this is the dashboard of our car personalising the layout to us when we get in it, or it is checking in for a flight by simply walking through the airport doors.

When I got a tattoo I surprised quite a lot of people. Some made negative comments, some were very surprised. One particularly stuck in my mind, a comment put on Facebook that said “Well, you’ve scared yourself for life now sunshine”. Whether tongue in cheek or not, that is a very interesting way of looking at it, and relevant to this subject. There is a saying in IT, “you put rubbish in, you get rubbish out”, I think it is a better way of looking at it. My tattoo, which is on my back, took a long time to design and has a lot of personal meaning to me. I am proud of it and it is anything but a scar – but it is permanent and it says a lot about me. But a lot of people have tattoos that are not very well thought through and do become scars. They also say a lot about that person, not necessarily now but certainly at the time when they got the tattoo in the first place.

We need to think about our digital presence – our record – in the same way. Will it be a permanent symbol of what you are, or will it be a scar that comes back to haunt you? The world is only going to get more complex and data more entwined. My advice is make sure you don’t do anything stupid that might mean your digital tattoo is more of a scar than a symbol.


Tweet meets – the new world is much smaller than it used to be!

My wife and I attended a wedding reception last Friday evening, for a lovely young couple.That in itself isn’t particularly unusual. Although I didn’t know either the bride or groom, my wife has been friends with the bride for about a year. Again, nothing unusual there. But what was a new experience for me is that the wedding reception was the first time that my wife and the bride actually met!

Let’s backup about a year. My wife participates in weight watchers and on achieving a particular goal she had posted a tweet. Another weight watcher participant messaged her a congratulatory tweet and they started to talk. Roll on 12 months and they are like best friends, talking daily and making another friend on the way as well. So we arrived at the wedding reception, having never met either the bride or the other twitter friend before. But the moment they met it was like they had known each other their whole lives, hugging and chatting away as only women can.

For me, working in digital and being fascinated with ‘network’ media (social media), this was a significant moment. I was experiencing the result of the world taking another step forward and become that little bit smaller. The power of sites like Facebook and Twitter to bring people together is quite amazing and these three women, meeting in person for the first time but acting like the oldest of friends, are proof that the rules of engagement have evolved. We know longer need to meet someone physically in order to start developing a friendship.

Of course, this trend is something which isn’t particularly new. My own marriage is evidence to the power of the internet to bring people together. I met my wife on an internet dating site. We got to know each other via instant messaging, text messages, emails and phone calls before finally meeting. The rest is history. And there are countless others like us who have done the same. The internet brought us together. But the key difference between then and now is that with internet dating the online piece is a lead up to the meeting but the actual relationship really starts when you meet the person. Now, with social media sites, the actual meeting doesn’t need to take place for the actual relationship to begin. In fact, the bride even said that she felt she knew these two twitter friends better than many of the other guests, which is testament to the ability of social media to not just maintain friendships but to create them as well.

For my part, I haven’t yet met anyone through these networking sites, but I do use them to maintain friendships that would otherwise have drifted away. It allows me to keep in touch with my cousin in the USA and watch her daughter grow, even though I haven’t actually seen them in 6 years. Because we can trade pictures, talk instantly and conveniently it allows us to have relationships that are the next best thing to being in the same place. In fact, in some ways it allows an even better relationship because it doesn’t require us to be in one place at a set time. In a word, it is a relationship that is more convenient.

Of course there is another side to this new world as well. The media have widely publicized the use of these sites to arrange flash mob appearances, or on the darker side, to arrange riots and gang fights. Again, this isn’t new, before Facebook and Twitter these were done via SMS. But again the social sites allow more convenient avenues to arrange these sorts of things. It brings strangers together and allows them to interact, whether their intentions are good or bad. This is the same thing that allows people the anonymity of not being face to face to be insulting or ‘troll’ others as well.

Undoubtedly the world is changing. My experience last week showed that people can become the best of friends without the need to meet each other and by and large that is a great thing. It allows people with similar interests and outlooks to meet when they would previously not have. It allows people to stay in touch and preserve relationships that would otherwise fade away, to be replaced by awkward reunions filled with small talk on the odd occasions they would actually meet. The most fascinating thing for me though is that it also closes the generation gap. The age difference between my wife, the bride and the other twitter friend is quite significant and yet you wouldn’t know it when they met. They were instantly so alike when they were together and getting on like a house on fire. Social media sites allow people to have these relationships when in the past it would probably have been harder for people from different generations to interact and relate.

The world has changed, it has evolved and online friendships are a result of this. Friendships created and maintained online are already happening and people from different walks of life are being brought together. I’m sure that there will be people soon who have best friends they have never met and possibly never will meet. The cloud does not just apply to pieces of hardware and software, clearly it applies to us and our friendships as well.

Google+, well it is all a bit anti-social really isn’t it?

Back in June 2011 Google launched their social platform Google+, to great fanfare. Typically there was immediately the usual jumping of ships and people posting hilariously scalding messages about Facebook on their profile,  proclaiming that they would be leaving for the greener pastures of Google and never coming back.

At the time, like many, I was quite dismissive about Google+ going into social media. Whether it was accurate or not, the apparent aspiration to take on Facebook at their own game seemed both foolish and unobtainable to me and I when I took a look at Google’s platform I couldn’t actually see any benefits over and above Facebook. The problem is that I couldn’t see any real attraction for most users and Google’s offering was a regression from the established Facebook functionality.

The most telling thing for these sites though is whether commercial entities try and adopt them or not. Facebook is a nut that many big companies have been trying to crack for years. And they still try, because there is undoubtedly opportunities there for those who approach it in the right way. But what of Google+, how is it fairing nearly 2 years on?

Most significantly it would appear that many of the big corporate names on Twitter, Facebook and Pinterest have fallen at the first hurdle with Google+. As eConsultancy write, there seems to be a lot less effort poured into Google+ pages by these big companies. In fact some, McDonald’s being the biggest example, haven’t done anything on their Google page since they created it! So why is this significant? Well my view would be that watching the behaviour of the corporates on these platforms tends to offer a window into the platform itself. No one has really cracked commercial return on investment on social media yet, but the fact that the big names poor effort into some but not offers does indicate which ones they see as being significant players. In the case of Google+ it would seem the consensus is that it is not.

The reality is that we, as users, only have so much time to spend on social sites. The idea that Google+ and Facebook would end up sharing the market was, to be frank, rather rediculous. Facebook’s massive hold on the social market was always going to be a telling factor and most people are simply not interested in the upheaval of moving themselves across to another site when all their friends and content are already on Facebook. The irony for Google is that if there had been a mass agreement in the user base to move then it would likely have shut the doors at Facebook, but as users we like consistency and ease of use – even if we like to moan about Facebook and their adhoc changes. This view would seem to be supported by the fact that all those people who grandly marched off to Google+ never to be seen again have all slowly slunk back, tails between their legs.

Google+ claims to have 500 million users currently, but I wonder how many of those are active on the platform. In the end, my view is that Google’s core business is about data. I don’t believe they were ever stupid enough to think they were going to takeover Facebook’s place in the market, so there must have been another behind moving into the social space. I have nothing to back up this assertion, but imagine how powerful they could be if they had the ability to use personas as yet another way of personalizing search? If they had a way of identifying the type of person you are based on in depth research, through a social media site, then they would be able to sell advertising space that targeted not just search terms and locations, but the type of person as well. Is this why Google+ was created, as a persona research method? Only Google will know the answer to that one.

Are social media features helpful or just gimmicks?

One thing that we all appear to love on social media sites is being able to get involved with something. Whether it be the ‘Like’ buttons on Facebook, the ‘Retweet’ option on Twitter or the new feature on LinkedIn that allows you to endorse skills for your connections. But as fun as these little features are, what do they actually tell us? Are they an indication of popularity or approval or are they simply misleading and really showing that users like to be involved and so click them without  thinking through what they are associating themselves with?

I will give you an example; on LinkedIn I regularly receive endorsements via the new skills feature, and most times when I log on I will issue a handful of them as well. The way I approach this is that I select the ones that I really feel apply, as if I was giving a reference, so if a good developer I have have previously worked with pops up with HTML as an option then I will happily click to endorse. On the flip side, if a mediocre designer pops up I won’t endorse their design skills. My view is that if you wouldn’t recommend them to someone else then you shouldn’t endorse their skills. But is this how other people are using this feature? Well quite simply put, no.

To give another example; also on LinkedIn recently I received a notification that I had been endorsed for my CSS skills. This came as a bit of a surprise as I am not a developer and although I can fiddle around with a bit of HTML I am certainly not someone who would be recommended for his skills in this area. On closer inspection what was even more surprising was that the person who had endorsed me was a developer I have previously worked with, who is more than well aware that I do not possess these skills. What does this tell us about how people generally use this feature? It suggests that they do not actually look at what they are endorsing and therefore the validity of endorsements on LinkedIn becomes minimal at best.

But why is this concerning? In the not too distant past I went for a job interview and it was made known that my LinkedIn profile had played a significant part in the pre-interview preparation they had done. What I found particularly galling was that at the time I listed my Freelance Photography as one of my jobs, because it is relevant to my professional skills. This became a particularly significant line of questioning as something that they saw as a risk to their business if they hired me. In that particular situation there was nothing fabricated about my profile, it merely showed that as well as my main job I do a freelance job. So if LinkedIn is becoming a tool for recruitment how will the inaccurate endorsements skew opinion for or against a candidate?

Another problem with these features is that Social Media is hard to measure in terms of success. A lot of companies measure their success based on Likes, Shares and Retweets. But if user engagement is anything like LinkedIn’s endorsements feature then this could be misleading. I regularly see on my Facebook wall that people have liked a whole myriad of random companies, some of which they probably wouldn’t ever actually buy something from but liked the pictures, or perhaps their friends liked the company first and so they followed suit.

The ‘Like’ feature on Facebook is a particularly misleading one. It is incredibly common for someone to make a comment on Facebook that provides sad news or misfortune. In that situation the last thing you would normally do is ‘Like’ the comment. If a friend told you that they had cancer you wouldn’t respond by saying “I like that” would you? And yet on Facebook dozens of people will do this and only the savvy few will actually comment and saying “I won’t click Like, because it doesn’t seem right”. It seems that we have an impulse to associate ourselves with other people and their content, in order to connect ourselves and feel a part of it.

The problem for marketeers is gleaning some sort of meaningful statistics from these sorts of engagements. Endorsements, Likes, Retweets and the vast collections of other features out there do offer us one thing, an indication of engagement with users. But this shouldn’t be confused with approval and it shouldn’t be translated into some sort of sales potential. the big problem with Social Media engagement is the common misconception that these platforms offer a direct channel for sales. They don’t! Instead what they offer is the chance to build advocates of brands. There is nothing wrong with getting 1 million followers on Twitter or 1 million likes of your page on Facebook, but this shouldn’t be translated into 1 million potential sales opportunities. A lot of those will be there because of the group mentality to follow, lemming like. What this does mean however, is that there is potential for 1 million users to see your content and be influenced by it. Giving them a reason to see that content and engage with it regularly is the first step in creating advocates of them, and that means that your brand is likely to start resonating with them when they are not viewing your content as well.

In the end Social Media is about networking, not about selling, and understanding the mentality behind this is key. People use social media sites to feel close to each other, to have conversations and to feel involved, not to be sold to. This is invasive and we, as users, don’t like our personal space to be invaded. The industry is trying shift the focus of social sites to allow selling to take place. Advertising is creeping in all over the place, but there is a lot of disapproval from users for this. The social media fad may dip or it may retain its strength, but the sites that will succeed with users will be the ones that maintain the social feel and try to hold back the sales element. Unfortunately this is at odds with the business needs of the companies who build the sites. A cold war is churning away and it will be interesting to see how it is played out. Until then, get sensible with your social media and value your users…they will value you in return.

Twitter – more network media than social media…

For a long time there has been debate as to whether ‘social media’ is the correct term for the online sites such as Facebook, Twitter and the like. I recently experienced the true power of social media and would tend to agree that it goes beyond ‘social’ media. I would describe it as ‘network’ media and this is why.

For a while now I have been mulling over an idea for a new app. I have the skills myself to plan, design and write the specifications for the app, but not being a developer I need someone who I can work with to do this. Having plenty of people I know, and have previously worked with, who are developers I thought that I would send a tweet (which will automatically then publish to my Facebook wall) asking “anyone out there in my network per chance a tame iOS developer? I have an app idea and looking for someone to dev it for me. Get in touch.” I sent this yesterday (10th January 2013) and the intention of my message had been to elicit a response from people I knew, but the key word I had used was ‘network’ and that took on a whole new meaning over the course of the following 8 hours.

Within an hour I had received tweets from 3 freelance developers, none of whom were followers of mine or people I followed. I also did not know them through Facebook. As the day continued I received further contact from people offering their company or themselves as a possible developer of my app project. This escalated to the point where by the end of the working day, only a matter of 4 or 5 hours after I had posted the tweet, I had been inundated with people offering development services and not one of them was someone I knew, followed or was following me. The power of Twitter as a networking tool was really beginning to show, whilst Facebook had shamefully failed to deliver a single response). Nonetheless, this was useful. I opened a dialogue on Twitter with a  couple of the more promising developers and passed them my private gmail account to continue the conversation.

But then things started to get a little bit uncomfortable. In logging in to my privately owned domain, where I reserve an email address for non-spam type personal things, I found an email waiting for me from another Indian based app agency, quoting my Tweet in the subject line. I try to limit the use of this email for such things so I immediately wondered where they had got this from. I responded and asked some pertinent questions about their service, experience and rates and also queried where they had got my email address from. It was beginning to feel a little bit like being stalked but as a savvy digital operator I wasn’t that concerned and as I got into the car to drive home that day I reflected on the merits of Twitter as a networking tool as well as a social tool. And then my phone rang…

The voice that greeted me on the other end of the phone was a charming and very well spoken Indian woman who said that she was one of the business development managers at an India based app development house. She asked if it would be convenient to chat with me about the requirements for the app I wanted to develop. I politely asked if she could email me through some examples of their work and their rate, expecting her to ask for my email address, but instead she thanked me for my time and hung up. By the time I got home (a 45 minute drive) an email from her was awaiting me. So she already had my email address as well, albeit my google one rather than my private one.

Today I have received further contact from other people, freelance and agency, offering to help me. They have been based in Los Angeles, New York, India and Sri Lanka and the list continues to grow. Because they have my google email I have also had a gtalk request from one of the Indian freelance developers. One of the agencies has also re-tweeted my comment, opening up the network of people who will directly see my comment even further, let alone those who will see it based on a word filter – which the original contactees must have done. The world really is networked and ready to respond.

What is quite amazing about this experience is the willingness of people to contact someone across this medium. From one comment I have received dozens of responses and none of them are people are know. What is even more amazing is the amount of people who have contacted me directly having seen the tweet, rather than via Twitter, as they have gone to the effort of searching for my email. In one case it must have been by going to one of my websites and pulling it from there. Some might find the whole experience a little intrusive, especially if they had meant the tweet to be strictly for those who know them as I had originally intended. For me, however, it highlights a whole new possibility for networking and finding people who can help me push forward a development. In the space of a couple of hours I had achieved more than a recruiter would have done for me in 2 weeks, and more importantly it was all free. Even better, I didn’t have anything lost in translation in terms of my requirements as a non-technical recruiter wasn’t the one talking to them.

Having had this experience my eyes have been opened a little more to the power and usefulness of Twitter. There are a couple of things to take from this, most importantly how easy it is for someone to find your contact details. If you don’t want them to have an email address then make sure it isn’t listed anywhere as these people are persistent. The second is that if you are going to put a message like that out there, expect to receive this kind of response. As this sort of thing develops I anticipate it will become harder to sort the wheat from the chaff and new ways will need to be found to allow people to eliminate ‘spam’ responses. But for the time being I urge people to see the power of network media, for that is what it is. Don’t forget, we are all linked by 6 people or less. Social is out…networking is in!

(P.S. It is still shocking that none of my colleagues want to earn any extra cash, as none of them have responded!)

Twitter Marketing Campaigns…do they work?

A slight break for Christmas and New Year and back today with a relatively short one today, focusing on Twitter Marketing campaigns.

Leading up to Christmas Tesco launched a Twitter campaign for people to win a voucher to claim a chocolate bar. All you had to do was Tweet #PullACracker to a friend and then Tesco would tweek you with a link to an interactive cracker pull, which would award one of you with the voucher. What a great idea with all the hallmarks of a good PR campaign. It was simple, easy to do, effective and entertaining and it wasn’t surprising that my twitter stream was a live with these hashtags within minutes. It was really pleasing to see a brand like Tesco engaging in the social media space in such an innovative, simple way and I couldn’t see any way this could backfire.

Roll on New Year’s eve and unfortunately it all went a little bit wrong for a friend of mine. She took her voucher into her local store in Sidcup to claim her chocolate treat. This is where it all went a bit awry for her because as she presented her voucher the till worker looked at her blankly. It then got worse as they accused my friend loudly, in front of other customers, of faking the voucher and that they hadn’t heard of this campaign at all. She left the store very quickly, red faced and rather angry.

To give Tesco their credit, she tweeted this and they immediately responded to her to get further details and to report the incident. The problem is that this is now all happening in the very public Twitter platform and undermining the good PR that was initially gained from the #PullACracker campaign. Unfortunately for Tesco the issue here was that the internal communications clearly failed and therefore a brilliant initial campaign was let down by the supply chain part of the process. This is a great pity as otherwise this would have been a standout example of best practice in Twitter marketing. Most people will now, however, take the negative view and highlight again the issues with using social media as a promotional platform. I disagree as this could have happened even if it was an offline campaign and in this case Tesco were let down by a particularly stupid member of their staff.

With a few tweaks Tesco would have hit the jackpot. I don’t know how other people got on with this campaign but no doubt it was generally a success. Kelloggs recently released a Twitter campaign for their new crisp line that was a masterstroke. They opened a pop up store in London as a place where people could drop in and get a free bag of the new crisps as long as they then tweeted about it (which they could do from the shop). It didn’t matter what their tweet said as long as they said something. And then they laid on the gooey fluffy top notch customer service to anyone who walked through the door. What happened? Well unsurprisingly they received a huge amount of positive and free advertising from people who came and got their free bag of crisps. What Kelloggs did perfectly, but unfortunately Tesco just feel short of the mark on, was that they made sure the whole end to end experience was top notch. This is the key to any marketing campaign…consistency of experience.

What this does show is that, unlike the perception, social media is a hot bed of opportunity if people are willing to actually think through the campaign. There are plenty of ways to make the multitude of sites pay off for you as a brand, as long as you take it seriously (both from an external and internal point of view). We just need to get out there and put some more of these campaigns together to prove that there is value to be got from these sites.

Don’t be anti-social…

I was recently at a school governors meeting and we were discussing the use of social media by teachers. Another governor made the irritating and rather naive throwaway comment of “the best use is not using it at all”, which from someone who works in IT is irritating at best. But it is interesting to examine what actually lies behind a comment like that. The media has been filled with stories recently about the negative sides of social media, whether it be insulting attacks on Olympic stars via twitter or the copyright issues around a users content on Facebook. But what the media coverage has failed to make clear is that very little of this is actually the fault of the sites themselves and that there are a huge amount of benefits that these sites provide.

One of the problems with social media is that it is faceless in nature, which means some people feel they can be insulting to others and say things that they wouldn’t dream of saying to someone’s face. It is people like this that often ruin the experience for us normal people, but it is also easy to read a comment in a completely different tone to the way it was written and intended. It is something we have to accept, in the same way that we have to accept emails can be read with the wrong tone. And that is the basis of my disagreement with my fellow governors comment.

The one thing we have to accept when we use social media, whether that be as businesses or as people, is that we are using the sites on the terms of the site and not on our own terms. This is a key point that a lot of people seem to forget when they start complaining about Facebook changing the way the site works or the way in which it uses content and data. It is ironic that people are more than happy to take advantage of the platform (which is provided to them for free) when it works for them, but as soon as Facebook decides to change something then all hell breaks lose. But it is important to remember it is Facebook’s platform, not yours or mine, and when we click that little box to accept their terms and conditions we agree that we are using their platform according to their rules, not our own. Let’s be honest, how many people have actually sat down and read any of the terms and conditions in any detail, let alone in full? Well I have had a quick skim through some of them in the past and it is quite enlightening. For example, most of these sites retain the right to use any content that is uploaded to them for promotional purposes. That includes any comments you make, videos you upload and photos you add. You cannot do anything about it because you have agreed to their terms and conditions and if you haven’t read them properly then this is your problem, not theirs. This is the type of thing I find most irritating.

So what is my point? Well the key thing we should all remember is that social media is the largest captive audience online in the world. Facebook claims to have over 800 million users, so there is a massive opportunity to tap into that. O2 recently turned a potential PR nightmare into a huge success on twitter by handling a network outage on a personal level and with humour. they actually managed to get news customers out of a network outage, now that is good social media usage. Why were they so successful with this approach? Because they accepted the platform the way it is, they engaged with it at the right level and they had a conversation directly with their customers on a one to one level. I recently attended the mobile strategies conference and Tom Grinstead (Product Manager at The Guardian) made a profound comment: “People have conversation, brands do not have conversations”. That is what O2 got so right, they spoke as individuals to individuals.

The thing we, as digital practitioners, need to bear in mind is that social media is a great opportunity if we accept the limitations of the platforms and engage with them embracing those, rather than trying to fight them. So far not many businesses have actually managed to show a quantifiable benefit to social media, but I think that is because they are not actually embracing the environments in the right way. Look at Coca-Cola on Facebook. Instead of trying to push their products they are simply about giving people an enjoyable experience. This increases brand awareness and creates a good feeling towards them and that is what social is about. Get the message out there, create ‘advocates’ of your brand and the long term benefit will be that people choose your brand over another. Have conversations directly with them, regularly and in a relevant way and you will get there in the long term.

Social media is not a quick win, it is about relationship building. The sooner businesses realise this and embrace it, the sooner we will really start to see how business benefit. There are plenty of examples of those already doing it.