Monthly Archives: June 2011

BeKnown: will it fail to change BeHaviour?

Since this weekend, my various social media channels have been ‘buzzing’ (pun very much intended) with ‘BeKnown’, a new Facebook app from Monster, one of the UK’s largest job boards.

The premise of the BeKnown app is simple: provide a professional networking platform within the most popular social network platform in the world, making professional use of your ‘friends’ and their connections.  Put simply, Monster is attempting to recreate LinkedIn within Facebook.

The accompanying promotional material claims that being able to use Facebook for both personal AND professional networking provides users with the convenience of having one place in which to conduct all their digital networking – and I can certainly see this.

Those who fear mixing their personal, private selves with a professional persona need not worry; BeKnown only allows connections to see the information contained within the actual application, thus avoiding exposing your professional contacts to photos of your boozy stag do in Blackpool.

So in theory, a comprehensive professional app within Facebook’s walls sounds like a great way to network with professionals and utilise your friends’ networks too, right?  I have my reservations.

As a digital marketer, I know from first-hand experience how challenging it is to change customer behaviour and pertinently, I believe that BeKnown is attempting to do just that.  Despite Facebook’s position as THE poster boy for social media, LinkedIn is by no means a small player, with over 150m members.  LinkedIn has grown organically over the last few years to become the de facto place for job seekers, networkers and recruiters to engage in professional activity.

Which leads me onto my second point: if we are to successfully change consumer behaviour, then we need to offer compelling reasons to do so – and as yet, BeKnown offers nothing different to LinkedIn.  I understand that these are very early days, but everything appears to be a carbon copy of LinkedIn, for example ‘Endorsements’ instead of ‘Recommendations’; ‘connections’, ‘experience’ etc. – there’s no dynamic unique selling point that makes me think, ‘wow, I NEED to be on BeKnown!’

Finally, BeKnown offers a ‘gamification’ element, with the issue of badges for certain tasks.  Gamification has become prevalent in social media society – apps such as Foursquare and GetGlue allow users to ‘compete’ with each other for points and badge unlocks, conveying social prestige and social currency.  But in professional terms, this aspect has been relatively untested.  One could argue that issuing users with ‘stickers’ for various professional achievements could in fact ‘cheapen’ those feats.

It’s very early days yet, and Monster seems to have invested a lot of work into a slick, well-functioning app.  However, asking users to completely change their behaviour and switch their allegiance from a very established professional platform in LinkedIn to Facebook, which has traditionally been focused on the personal rather than the professional, could be tricky indeed.

Only time will tell…


What Portishead can teach us about Foursquare

Back in 1995, cult English ‘trip hop’ act Portishead released the single ‘Glory Box’, a song in which lead singer Beth Gibbons continually begged the question:

“Give me a reason, to love you.”

This is a beautiful song on a seminal album, especially to someone of my generation.  But what does this melody have to do with social media, and more pertinently, check-in apps such as Foursquare?

Well, just like Beth Gibbons, social media users also need ‘a reason’ to check-in; yet so few businesses and brands are giving anyone that elusive reason.

Since I’ve been using Foursquare, I’ve amassed a whopping 929 check-ins, held down plenty of mayorships (currently 10) and earned 15 ‘badges’:

Yet despite all of this fervent checking-in, I’ve received no tangible ‘value’ whatsoever.


I read with interest today that Foursquare has just signed a deal with American Express that will offer users discounts when they check into places and use their Amex card – BINGO!!!  Here we have actual motivation to check-in!!

Since the accounts will be synched with the users’ Amex accounts, marketers will also be able to see how many people are checking-in and where, what they are purchasing and how much they are spending, providing some tangible ROI and insightful analytics.

Hopefully this is just the start.  Mobile is THE future, yet remains very much entrenched in the present, when there is so much that could be achieved:

  • Greater in-store interaction through the use of QR codes to further research products?
  • Check-in to receive exclusive vouchers?
  • Review a product / store on Foursquare to receive an exclusive product?
  • Affiliate deals for local communities, e.g. ‘since you’ve checked in at Bob’s Boutique, you can get a £1 coffee at Sheila’s Slurps next door’?

I’m truly excited about the mobile space, especially the potential it has to make shopping a more social experience.  But just as Portishead sang all those years ago, for mobile check-ins to be a marketing success, applications have to offer consumers ‘a reason’ – and good ones at that.

Here’s Portishead’s classic ‘Glory Box’ – enjoy!


Why were my days at HMV like social media?

When I graduated back in 2004, I took a job in the local HMV so that I could continue living in London.  Back then, HMV still held a considerable amount of subcultural capital: it was a great music shop that stocked great swathes of albums rather than simply selling piles of £3 DVDs as it does today.

For my interview, I had to sit down and discuss my musical, film and gaming passions, before taking a mini exam that asked questions on everything from The Beatles to Alfred Hitchcock.  As you can clearly see, HMV invested in its people: it wanted its workforce to be knowledgeable, passionate advocates who could talk authoritatively to customers about the entertainment world.

When working on the shop floor or behind the till, I would enjoy chatting to customers about their purchases and suggesting similar albums or films that I thought they would like.  One of the best things in that job (apart from great colleagues and a heft discount!) was when a customer would come in and thank you personally for the recommendation you had made for them, because they enjoyed it so much.

These customers would often become familiar with me – we’d chat about their plans for the weekend, what they were up to and always take the conversation back to shared musical and cinematic passions.

So how does this come back to social media?

Well, a great many people are continuing to peddle tired marketing messages out through dynamic new social media channels.  A great many people believe that talking about your brands is the only thing you should be talking about on your social media channels.  And in my humble opinion, this is wrong.

Take the following quote from an excellent AdAge article this week:

“As it turns out, many people in social networks don’t want to talk about your product, they just want to talk.”

Social media is fundamentally about building relationships with customers – plain and simple.  Just like old-school HMV staff, marketers should be tapping into customers’ passions, talking to them about their lives and making themselves relevant.

The entire ethos of social media is in its name – ‘social’.  If people wanted to listen to you go on and on incessantly about your products, they’d probably subscribe to your mailing list…

Of course, marketers are on social channels to increase brand exposure, increase sales and provide a customer service function.  But just like my chats with customers in store all those years ago, remember that you’re dealing with real people and we need to take an interest in their passions AND the fact that they are real people.

Social Media: the playing field leveller.

I read this on Eric Qualman’s (Socialnomics) blog this morning:

“In the past, big brands held the advantage with traditional media: bigger budgets, esteemed ad agencies, impressive websites, and large sweepstakes.  Now in the social era, even the smallest of businesses can find success and achieve incredible gains without a single ad spend.”

And you know what?  He’s absolutely right.

We think of social media as a ‘game changer’, when in fact, the game is exactly the same.  It’s the playing field that’s changed, or, to be more precise, has been levelled.

Game on.

Sony Rips off Honda to Promote New Tablet?

I’ve long been a fan of Sony’s advertising, especially when the Playstation 2 was launched, ushering in a fantastic series of eerie and creative adverts.

In creating some buzz around the forthcoming Sony tablets, the electronics giant has produced a teaser that is typically nebulous, ethereal and creative.

It’s clearly a fantastic short video, and I’ve no doubt that the tablet will sell hundreds of thousands of units.  But am I the only one who thinks that the brand has completely ripped off Honda’s award-winning creative?

Simplicity that Packs a Punch

I’m a copywriter by trade, which means ads with clever copy, simple slogans and pertinent puns are normally the kind of ads that pique my interest.

However, this fantastic ad for Everlast Boxing equipment, produced by Euro RSCG in Germany to promote boxing / the brand’s health benefits, shows just how powerful a simple idea can be.  It certainly packs a punch.

NEW Socialnomics Video: Social Media Revolution 2011!

The ‘socialnomics’ videos from Erik Qualman have now become something of social media lore.

Erik has produced an updated yet totally new video for 2011 – as always, wow.