Month: August 2013

Tick tock, tick tock

Time and social media

I haven’t been so hot on the blogging recently (half finished drafts sat in my WordPress app I realise don’t count!) but I vow to get back on the wagon. And the reason for my lack of published posts? Social media! Ironic you may say.

I’m having a pretty exciting time at work – social media has now taken over all that I do, and I couldn’t be more pleased, I LOVE it. But, it has meant a lot of long days and no time for blogging, tweeting or finding the twenty-or-so new social networks that have probably come out since my last post.

And with that, I get to the point of this post (and begin to contradict myself…) – time and its relationship with our online behaviour.

More often than not, we face objections to actually doing social (from our peers, clients, and even that voice inside our head) in the form of one of the following:

  • I don’t have enough time in my day to do social
  • Social media is too instantaneous and real-time; it scares me
  • I won’t be able to respond or engage with the community in the real-time manner that is required by social media
  • I can’t see the ROI on the necessary time I’ll need to invest to make social a success

I could write a blog post on each of these alone, exploring the reasons why, in fact, none of these are valid reasons to not do social (duly noted that I used the first one in my opening paragraph…) However, I think when faced with these oppositions, the best thing to do is flip it on its head. Let’s not think of reasons why we can’t do it; let’s think of reasons why we can’t NOT do it. And that of course is just a confusing way of saying, you have to do it.

It was a few months back now, but something I saw that really said to me who was leading the way in terms of understanding and integratng social into their business, was (perhaps surprisingly) the recruitment initiative run by Pizza Hut, ‘Because I’m Great’. This was a complete 180 on the traditional interview – a live LinkedIn review was conducted right before a 140 second interview took place. No paper CV, no half an hour presentation, just 140 short seconds to demonstrate why you have what it takes to be the head of digital. And the reason? To demonstrate an understanding of the short amount of time we now have to grab people’s attention and convince them to take action. And of course using Twitter’s 140 character limit as a rule of thumb for the time constraint. I personally think it’s brilliant.

So back to my original point. If Pizza Hut get the importance of doing social to such an extent that it even impacts their recruitment process, then so should the rest of us. This initiative also goes to show how time doesn’t have to be a barrier to doing social – if we can now recruit our most senior staff in 140 seconds, we can certainly put out a few tweets.

On to the next point about the instantaneous nature of social and the potential risks involved. I again urge anyway quoting this as a reason, to flip it on its head and understand the value of a instantaneous communications tool. The best way to rationalise this is thinking back a few weeks to the birth of Prince George. If my office were to be used as a representation of the British population as a whole, then all 65 million of us  were glued to @ClarenceHouse awaiting the announcement with baited breath. As soon as they knew, we knew. As soon as we knew, all of our followers knew. And so went the spiral until everyone knew about the arrival of the next King.

This demonstrates how important social media can be from a business perspective – using it as a word of mouth marketing tool, but on steroids. Of course, we have to think of the flip-side of this, when things can go horribly wrong and spread like wildfire through the social space. But that’s where you get a good PR agency, a good social media team and a robust issues management plan (get in touch if you’re interested…!).

So to end, I think this quote from Aaron Lee really sums up both the necessity for using social media, and also the need for consideration of time in all its various meanings:

“These days, social media waits for no one. If you’re late for the party, you’ll probably be covered by all the noise and you might not be able to get your voice across. It could only mean that if you want to be heard by the crowd, you have to be fast; and on social media, that means you have to be REALLY fast.”

So hurry up, the clock’s ticking…

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Ever heard of social petworking?

boo the dog

Social petworking – believe it or not it’s a real thing. Not only is it real, it’s growing at a phenomenal rate.

If this is as new a topic as it was to me a few months ago, then let me introduce you to some of the sites leading the way.

First of all we have My Social Petwork – the Instagram of the animal world if you like. This network is based on our love for those cute doggy snaps and the videos of kittens doing crazy things that we just can’t take our eyes off of. Users rate photos and videos of people’s pets (and there really is a whole array – giant snails feature on the home page…) with the aim to become the highest rated photo or video of the day. If we look at the activity all over our Facebook feeds, it is quite clear there’s an audience for this type of community. And I’m just talking about the owners – thats not including the 1 in 10 social profiles that are actually for pets themselves. If you’re not familiar with it, take a look at Boo’s profile – the most popular dog on the planet, or so the 7.3 million likes would suggest.

Then we have the interestingly named Yummy Pets – the self proclaimed Facebook for pets. This takes it up a level – owners are no longer owners but indeed ‘pet parents’. I think there’s a lot to be improved on the branding (‘click here to discover yummy pets’ seems a somewhat strange invitation), but with 150,000 members, there’s no arguing its popularity. The community is very much built around what we are used to seeing on the ‘human side’ of social – profiles, status updates, photos, and lists of friends and fans. Having started life in France and launching this year in the UK, it’s certainly a booming business.

Now I’m no huge animal lover, but I do love social media, and I get where this adds value. There’s clearly a lot of pet owners with a whole lot of time on their hands, and that’s no bad thing for the petworking community, but where the value is really added is when these communities can be used as a resource for improving pet care. As examples, the sponsored ads within Yummy Pets take people to practical pet services, the blog provides helpful updates on keeping your pet healthy and of course the VIPets section – it’s always vital to keep up to date with celeb pets…

So my conclusion on the trend that I was initially pretty skeptical about is that it makes complete sense. As a generation we love social media, as a global population we love our pets, ergo we love social petworking. And if you’re still not sold – take a look at this infographic on the top social networking stars (the numbers are a little outdated, but they are still very much stars). Engagement numbers we could only ever dream of!

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