Monthly Archives: February 2011

The Imperial War Museum’s Social Media Artillery

It’s always nice to see brands executing social media strategies fantastically.  The fact that we notice ‘good’ examples is perhaps testament to the fact that so many brands are still struggling with social strategy.  Nevertheless, much can be learnt from those performing well, of which the Imperial War Museum is most definitely one.

I recently started following the IWM on Twitter. I did so after a friend re-tweeted some content of theirs, which I found interesting, pursued and subsequently visited their website, YouTube channel and Facebook page.  This example clearly pays testament to the brand marketing power of Twitter, but alas; I digress.

In those social channels, I found some brilliant examples of great social media marketing.  The reasons these were so impressive can be attributed to the fact that all of these platforms adhered to the following cornerstones of social media:

i) Adding value – giving consumers / brand advocates a reason to engage with your social presence through exclusive content
ii) Facilitating UGC (user-generated content) and allowing consumers to contribute to the ‘brand’

The brand’s YouTube channel is featuring four videos for LGBT month, ‘Military Pride’, highlighting the personal experiences of four gay servicemen.  This clearly ties into a topical national event (LGBT month) whilst relating back to the museum’s raison d’être.

The content is engaging, eye-opening and of real interest and of course, offers ‘fans’, advocates and enthusiasts access to exclusive, relevant content.

The second piece of social media activity that caught my eye was the museum’s ‘Beauty and the Belfast’ competition.  Users are encouraged to ‘find beauty’ on London’s iconic HMS Belfast and submit their photographs to the brand’s Flickr page, with the winner receiving a private guided tour on the 67th anniversary of D-Day this June.

Again, this utilises social media channels (Flickr) in an innovative fashion, all the while encouraging audience participation and relating the whole project back to relevant, on-brand topics.

Finally, the museum’s excellent Twitter feed manages to highlight useful pieces of historical information, publish news about attractions and deal with customer queries in an unobtrusive, informative and engaging fashion – Twitter nirvana.

So what can we learn from the Imperial War Museum’s social media artillery?

•    Genuine social media kudos is leveraged through authentic interaction, engagement and participation
•    Your customers are your fans – social media should be a platform for advocates to engage with, not a channel for one-way communications
•    Social media should always be relevant, on-brand and topical – anything else is just noise

If we all followed the Imperial War Museum’s example, how refreshing – and engaging – would social media be?  This iconic museum is taking audience interaction and engagement to a new, unprecedented level of authenticity.

I, for one, look forward to seeing more brands do the same.

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Oreo – taking the biscuit?

If like me, you enjoy social media AND cookies, last week’s Oreo story can’t have escaped your attention.  Oreo, the world’s ‘favourite’ cookie attempted a world record on its Facebook page.

The premise was simple: amass the most number of ‘likes’ for a Facebook post within 24 hours, creating a huge raft of PR and thousands of new ‘fans’ in the process.

Needless to say, the weight of marketing and PR behind this stunt ensured that Oreo secured a record breaking 114,619 ‘likes’ within 24 hours (although this figure was hugely usurped by rapper ‘Lil Wayne’ the same week, amassing a staggering 588,243 likes from amongst his 20 million fans).

Whilst the brevity of this record is perhaps a tad embarrassing, Oreo is rightly milking (forgive the cookie analogy) the PR for all it’s worth.  But while many are lauding this as a great piece of social media marketing, is this in fact simply a PR stunt?

The very concept of social media is around the concept of engagement – connecting with customers and building deeper, more meaningful relationships.  Whilst the record attempt has driven huge volumes of ‘fans’ to the brand’s Facebook page, how valuable will these ‘numbers’ be in the long-term?

Brands using social media have to realise that consumers want to engage and be involved with your brand in a way that adds value to them as consumers.  Whether this is an opportunity to be rewarded as a loyal customer and receive discounts, or an opportunity to help shape the brand direction or new products, social media is NOT a large ‘mailing list’.

All social media should offer value, engagement and the chance to be part of a community.  The word ‘social’ is SO fundamental to social media, but incredibly, a concept that is so often overlooked.

From a PR perspective, Oreo deserve HUGE kudos.  They’ve tapped into an innovative way to create buzz around the brand and do something newsworthy.  But many social media specialists are arguing that this exercise has been nothing more than a public fishing for ‘fans’, focusing on record-breaking numbers as opposed to genuine consumer engagement.

And THAT is what ‘social’ media is all about.

Raising a Glass to Jim Beam’s Social Media Strategy

I’m no more ‘qualified’ to critique an ad than the next marketer, but I am a consumer – and it being Valentine’s Day, have fallen firmly in love with this new spot for Jim Beam, ‘Bold Choice’:

If you’re like me, the moody black and white film, emotive acting and poignant message can’t fail to impress.  Big advertising has always sold people a lifestyle rather than a product and this is no different (although Jim Beam does happen to be my favourite bourbon).

But take a look at Jim Beam’s social media sites – Facebook, Twitter – they all continue the conversation that the ad started.

On Facebook we are encouraged to click ‘like’ and ‘make a bold bhoice’.  There’s a bespoke tab that encourages us to get involved and chart ‘bold choices’ we’ve made to put our towns on the map.

The brand’s Twitter feed is engaging with its community asking for ‘bold decisions’, the best of which will be re-tweeted and shared with the community.

Let’s look past the marketing psychology here – we all know that Jim Beam is a whiskey plain and simple.  As consumers, we all suspend disbelief in order to make sense of the capitalist society we operate in.

But this superb digital integration shows how social media is not simply ‘a’ thing that sits somewhere on Facebook or Twitter and pumps out one-way marketing spiel: it’s a living, breathing marketing tool that is a vital part of a healthy integrated marketing strategy.

Sure, social media has its own unique modus operandi, challenges and conventions.  But aligning your social media strategy to overall digital – and offline – marketing strategy is vital to marketing success.

Jim Beam seems to have got this spot-on – is it too much of a pun to say I’ll raise a glass to that?

Tweeting as a Brand? Get it RIGHT.

Trawl the Twittersphere and you’ll come across a plethora of branded Twitter accounts, from players as big as Marks and Spencer, Waitrose and The Body Shop to small local businesses, boutique shops and niche agencies.

However, despite the exponential marketing and branding opportunities presented by Twitter, it can also damage your brand if handled incorrectly.

Yes, social media is a dynamic, evolving entity – but if using social media channels for marketing purposes, one still has to adhere to effective marketing practices.  Here three of my very simple ‘dos and don’ts’ when tweeting as a brand:

i) ‘You’ is no longer ‘you’ – ‘you’ is the brand

Sounds obvious, but many people overlook this fundamental point.  Yes, we are all adult and understand that there is ‘a person’ constructing these tweets, but the content needs to be written from the brand’s perspective.

As a lover of literature, I follow many publishers on Twitter.  One of the brands with a rich heritage consistently tweets what ‘they’ are looking forward to cake that afternoon, that ‘they’ are reading a current book.

People are following the brand because they have an affinity with that brand, its products and its offerings – not because they want to know what the Marketing Executive is up to that evening.

ii) Txt spk is lk, SO nt kool.

Again, sounds obvious, but colloquial ‘text’ speak is not acceptable.  As a social media marketer, I fully acknowledge the difficulty in conveying lots of information in 140 characters – including a link!

However, shortening a sentence or rethinking your copy is worth the effort.  Sortening every word ‘2 mak it al ft in’ looks unprofessional, shoddy and as if it’s been texted in by a teenager.

Remember to convey your business in the best possible light – and professional language is very much a part of this.  The channel may be different – but your message is not.  Stay on-brand.

iii) Are you following me?

I could write a whole blog post on this – and probably will!  But the true beauty of social media is its transparency, honesty and credibility.  Of course, you want a large following immediately, but trawling through potential ‘followees’ and following them in the hope of a follow is simply not ‘cool’.

There are many programmes that allow Twitter users to ‘auto follow’ people who tweet certain words – for example, if I ran a biscuit business, I could choose to follow the next 100 people who tweeted the word ‘cookie’.  But what does this achieve?

Many brands going down this route end up following 8,000 people, while only 300 people are following them.  This smacks of desperation and loses credibility in the eyes of savvy social media users – the people you are trying to attract.  Try and focus on engaging and connecting with people organically.  Yes, it may take a while to build up a loyal following, but the patience will be rewarded tenfold by engaged customers and authentic conversations.

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You can see my tweets (as brand ‘me’!) over @callumsaunders

A bad day for Kenneth Cole, NOT social media.

Here we go again – someone at Kenneth Cole exercises extremely poor judgement and decides to promote a new fashion collection using the concerning events in Egypt as a topical hook:

Now you don’t really need me to wade in on the whole Kenneth Cole debate: the Internet is awash with angry reactions to this highly insensitive tweet.  However, I do feel that it’s important to point out that this whole episode is NOT an example of how social media is ‘bad’.

A large number of people have already jumped on the anti-social media bandwagon, saying that this exemplifies how ‘dangerous’ social media can be; how a bad tweet can royally mess up your PR for the next 12 months.

However, social media is NOT to blame.

The real danger here is allowing uneducated people access to your brand communications.  Yes, social media is about transparency and authenticity, but it’s also a form of marketing and requires the same discipline, thought and care as any other form of PR.

Social media is unique, but those of us in social media marketing have to be aware that we are also brand guardians.

A bad day for Kenneth Cole and the intern / marketer that is no doubt updating their LinkedIn profile and CV as we speak.  But NOT a bad day for social media.

Hire Me. Seriously. (The Yorkshire Chapter.)

For those new to me and my social job search, please take a moment to read ‘Hire Me. Seriously.’

At the time of writing, it’s been 2 months since I first sat down and penned my ‘hire me’ post.  8 weeks down the line and it feels like so much has happened – including what I’m looking for.

After much introspective thought and discussion with the fiancé, I’ve decided to focus my job search up north, with Leeds / York  / Harrogate the preferred destinations.

Despite the fact that this long-considered option is intended to bring about a much better quality of life, the fact remains that I am still very much looking for a career move, not simply ‘a new job to facilitate a move up north’.

So to recap, this is what I am looking for:

* A social media / digital marketing / copywriting role that allows me the chance to work for / exposure to big brands.
* A business that is based in or around Leeds / York / Harrogate.

My dream, dream job (aside from playing up front for Spurs) would look something like this:

* Social media / digital marketing role within a great consumer brand OR as part of a friendly agency
* The opportunity to build, implement and maintain a diverse SM presence
* The opportunity to learn from experienced digital marketers as part of a friendly and passionate team
* Scope to take on other bits of digital marketing e.g. blogging, e-marketing, SEO etc.
* As much free coffee as I can drink.
* An eccentric dress code – military, spaceman, cowboys etc.

OK, so I might be pushing it with towards the end, but I really am all about branding, marketing and communication through digital channels – I love nothing more than engaging and connecting with people and growing business.

And if you’re reading this wondering what I can bring to the table, you could always check out my LinkedIn profile, but here’s a snapshot:

* Social Media – setting up branded presences on Facebook, LinkedIn, Twitter, Blogger, WordPress, YouTube, iTunes, Delicious.  Community management and engagement
* Strong copywriting background (online & offline) including SEO
* External agency management
* Contract management / supplier negotiation
* Marketing planning
* E–marketing experience – building and sending emails to c. 30,000
* Web analytics (Google)
* Garageband / iMovie editing on Mac OS

I would like to think that I’m a nice gentleman to boot – I make good cups of tea and coffee, contribute a bit of fun to an office and have impeccable taste in music…

So calling all Yorkshire-based brands, agencies and businesses – I’m here, I’m motivated and I’m eager to take on a new challenge within your business – come and get me through one of the following…

LinkedIn: http://www.linkedin.com/in/callumsaunders
Twitter: http://www.twitter.com/callumsaunders
Email: callumsaunders @ yahoo.co.uk