Month: February 2013

Watch and learn!

Over the last week I’ve come into contact with a few really cool examples of just how powerful social media can be. So for all you doubters out there, please, read on. And even if you aren’t a doubter, it’s always nice to have those examples in your back pocket that can stop people in their tracks.

My posts tend to have a healthcare related stance but these examples are actually totally unrelated to healthcare. For me, it’s important to look outside your day-to-day world to see just what the possibilities are, be inspired and learn how to push those boundaries.

The first example is about a tiny village in Switzerland. Their challenge? They needed people to visit their one hotel and one restaurant. Their real challenge? A mountain village of 80 inhabitants is not most people’s first choice for a dining location. I’ll let this video explain the rest…

So what’s important here? The take-away for me is that you don’t need a huge amount of money to be successful in social media. The citizens of Obermutten clearly spent a small amount filming and editing, but then they let the power of social media take Obermutten to the global stage. And in a classic online word-of-mouth scenario, the little Swiss town has made its mark on the tourism map.

My next example actually comes from a documentary that aired on channel 4 this week – you may have watched it, The Fried Chicken Shop. An odd choice you may think, but it somehow managed to captivate me even beyond the hour it aired for. Into the shop walked a guy who ‘worked in social media’ and out came his hilarious recommendations for the shops’ social media presence. ‘What would you hashtag? Spicy chicken?’ he asked the bewildered chicken server. And then came the influx of #spicychicken tweets. Within minutes, not only had the twitterverse managed to find this guys handle (only knowing him as Nick) but his followers were doubling by the second. After an hour, his followers had gone from 52 to 2600 and #spicychicken was trending. Less than a week later, he now has over 4000 followers interested in his #spicychicken tales.

A silly story you may think, but there are again some key points that can be applied to any social media campaign: be current, be emotive and be human. Thousands of people jumped on #spicychicken because it was a classic ‘he’s talking about it, so I’m going to talk about it!’ type scenario. To not be involved was to miss out.

The content itself was funny – you couldn’t help but find it entertaining. So be emotive with your content and people will naturally talk about you. And finally – and I think some companies forget this – just be human; speak to your audience as real people, and not an obtainable metric.

My final example is from the Australian transport agency, and it really goes to show how good content is really all you need. They took a pretty dry subject – train safety – developed a really cool animation and then sat back and watched social media work its magic.

A classic case of some awesome content going viral, purely because the medium was engaging, the content relatable and the vehicle popular. Anyone working in social media dreams of reaching these kind of viewing figures!

So three key learning’s about social media: invest a little (but not necessarily a lot), have good content and behave like a person talking to a person. Easy, right?!

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So where did you two meet?

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I truly believe that social media has changed how we behave as a society. ‘That’s ridiculous!’ I hear you cry. But let me explain.  Over the last ten years as social media has grown to what it has become today, the way in which we interact with people has changed. And I don’t mean that we now interact online – it actually goes beyond this. Look at our offline behaviour and how the online versions of us have become our reality.

I think a perfect example that demonstrates my point is when you look at online dating. I remember a time not so long ago when admitting to having met someone online was very much taboo. If at all possible, you’d try and quickly think of an alternative story when someone asked ‘so where did you two meet?’ But now, it’s no different to meeting someone in a bar on a Friday night. It is no longer judged, but commonly accepted as part of the dating process of the 21st century.

Even greater than this is the way that social media now adds value and credibility to our offline lives. By this I mean the way in which popularity is now the number of friends/followers/connections, and the number of likes you can get on a post. Being opinionated is triggering 50 comments on a post and evoking heated debate. Cool is now being the social media hipster (check out this video of these hipsters +50 years) who shares that awesome content that you haven’t seen yet. ‘Did you see the video Lauren posted last night?’ ‘Yeah, where does she find this cool stuff?’

Social media by its very nature gives us access to people that ordinarily we may not interact with on a daily basis. It’s changed our expectations in terms of social interaction, the opinions we form of people we are yet to meet, and our perceptions of human behaviour. It has made us more informed and taken away almost all elements of surprise. Before we meet someone – either on a professional basis or a personal one – we will almost certainly have looked at their respective LinkedIn or Twitter handle. And if they don’t have one? Well, we begin to question whether we should be meeting them at all!

I wonder if sat in his college dorm room Mark Zuckerberg ever imagined he would be shaping societal behaviour? Can we go back and find the time where our online lives began to shape our offline lives? To our offline and online selves: ‘so where did you two meet’?

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How private is private?


Anyone who has a twitter account will have heard about the security breach this week, with hackers gaining access to user data from 250,000 accounts. This has got me thinking about security and privacy with social media in general – how much of what we put online is really ours? Now I don’t mean that hacking is acceptable – it’s absolutely not – but what about the information we willingly share on our profiles? Are we forsaking our right to privacy if we choose to share our photos, our thoughts, our activities and relationships; ultimately our lives?

I think there’s privacy in a variety of senses. There’s the expected privacy that random strangers aren’t looking through the pictures of your summer holiday to Ibiza. But what about if it’s a ‘friend of a friend’ type scenario? Does that still count as a stranger? Then there’s the type of privacy that I’m sure my 15-year-old sister requires, and that’s for my mum not to have any idea what she’s up to! But I go back to my first point: you can set all the privacy settings you like, but ultimately you are posting personal content to a place that technically can be accessed, in one way or another, by 2.5 billion people. In a world of posting and sharing, how can we really control what happens to information and content that we perceive to be ‘ours’?

This, however, should not be a deterrent for social media use; it’s what should be embraced. Know it, accept it, understand it and positively exploit it. Use it the right way, and this very nature of ‘no walls’ is what we, as social media lovers, use for a whole host of reasons. The access to conversations, information and peers at the touch of a button, is what makes social media so successful. Really I think it’s just a common sense call. It’s as simple as take your ‘is this for public knowledge’ filter from your offline actions, and use it online.

Privacy is something I think we are still learning and negotiating every day both on a personal level and as part of the work we do on a daily basis. Ultimately, whether we like it or not, and indeed whether we agree or not, the whole point of social networking – as I referenced in my very first post – is about sharing. So to answer my own question, I don’t think it’s really a question of who ‘owns’ your content, it’s who has the right to share it. And the answer to that is, really, anyone who comes into contact with it.

Now, this isn’t a cautionary tale – far from it; I sort of love that nothing is secret anymore – it’s just something to bear in mind before hitting that post button. Just think, would it be ok if your (*insert scary authoritative person in your life*) sees it? If you have to ask this question, the answer is probably no.

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