helping brands make perfect sense of social media, from IAB UK’s social media council

Mairi Clark, senior PR and marketing manager, IAB

The Charlie Sheen saga has been both captivating and depressing at the same time. While it’s like watching a car crash, I am not the only person who has performed out of character by subscribing to his Twitter feed and hungrily absorbing every nugget of strange mutterings.

Let’s put the ethics of watching a human being having a breakdown to one side, as we approach the fifth birthday of Twitter, it’s fascinating that after treading the Hollywood line of having a publicist for his entire career, Sheen has gone down the road of doing his ‘media’ himself.

The impact for the social media industry will be interesting to watch. Until now, not very many people realised there was this growth area of promotional social media, where celebrities are paid vast amounts of money to promote products.

His rise of popularity on Twitter has been of benefit to many companies and even charities, which have made use of his #tigerblood hashtag.

It’s that kickback that’s interesting. In a month of Twitter errors – Red Cross staff drinking, Chrysler complaining about drivers  – the way brands are reacting to errant Tweets says a lot about the companies’ social media drivers. While Red Cross have been excellent, Chrysler took the corporate line. Red Cross used its Twitter faux pas to great advantage. After Tweeting a witty response, it was then endorsed by DogFish – the brand the staff drank and then Tweeted about – whose fanbase reacted by Tweeting people to donate blood, and the whole thing became a unexpected marketing  hit.

What marketers need to remember about social media is that by its very definition, it’s about people. And the problem with people is that you can’t control them. So the first thing you should do is loosen the control.

And only then, are you #winning.

By Simon Preece, Senior Consultant, RMM

If 2010 saw organisations really getting to grips with social media for marketing, 2011 might be the year we see them using social media for internal collaboration as the norm.

Successes and failures – but most importantly, experimentation – saw our awareness of what social media can do for organisations become increasingly sophisticated. Smart organisations are beginning to realise that social media can and should be a benefit for employees as well as customers.

But getting employees to be ‘more social’ isn’t just about how comfortable they are with using @ replies on Twitter – it requires a fundamental shift in how they perceive sharing knowledge in the workplace.

An oft-cited US example is IBM, which has taken the conscious decision not to have a corporate blog – instead empowering employees to drive interactions with customers and help shape the brand online. A decentralised approach has also boosted internal collaboration and knowledge sharing, with 100,000 employees making use of internal blogs to share internal expertise.

Nationwide deployed social media technologies across a number of departments, using Yammer to help redefine the way it interacts with employees. Specifically, the organisation uses Yammer to allow employees to send messages to colleagues or teams either online or via mobile. Within ten months, Nationwide had more than 8,500 employees using Yammer, ensuring knowledge and ideas are shared rather than siloed.

While not all organisations will be so technology-focused, these are good examples of getting the workforce to ‘buy into’ social media. Involving employees right at the start is key, rather than imposing rules of engagement pre-defined by those at the top of the organisation.

That isn’t to say there shouldn’t be some pre-determined guidance – rather, organisations should enable employees to feed in their own knowledge about social media best practice. Providing clear starter guidelines and specific, practical examples of how social media can help in employees’ day-to-day jobs will be helpful, but organisations should also assume these will change. Kodak prefaces its online tips for employees in social media simply with: ‘Feel free to edit to suit your needs’.

For businesses exploring this area, getting employees who are already keen to champion social media on board and enthusiastic will help reassure anyone who is feeling uncertain. This kind of grass-roots persuasion will help give employees the guidance and confidence they need to get fully involved with social media.

by Eva Keogan, Head of Social, LBi ,

News broke yesterday that Facebook is courting the creative leads of UK digital agencies including LBi and has invited them to attend its first ‘Influencer Summit’ at its Palo Alto HQ in California.  This marks an exciting shift in the stakeholder landscape as media agencies have been first at the table of the Facebook monetisation feast.

The event is essentially a brainstorm to evolve the next wave of social advertising and the shape it will take.  Chris Clarke, our Chief Creative Officer, is one of the lucky ones who will attend the Facebook Summit.

facebook invite

‘It was an impressive invite and I’m easily tempted by fine wine.’ said Chris. ‘I’ve also got huge respect for Facebook and am intrigued to see first hand what they’re up to. As a business it’s obviously a formidable force, but as a brand it suffers from a bit of an image problem. Is this the beginning of them addressing that?’ he continued.

With the recent funding announcement and an IPO in the mix, needs to demonstrate that it has the depth and breadth of revenue streams to outlast less fortunate digital spaces which have experienced the boom and bust phenomenon; think Second Life and MySpace, if you will.

So while many of us who are running communities and getting good revenue streams from this social network may be thinking ‘How long before Facebook starts charging us for this ‘free to air’ platform?’  the Influencer Summit promises an exciting agenda and endless possibilities.

At LBi, we are increasingly aware that Facebook is fast becoming the de facto lead social network in most countries around the world.  Russia, China, India and Brazil all have domestic networks which are putting up a good fight in the face of this global phenomenon but in countries like Germany and Spain, home grown social networks are shrinking in its wake.

What this means is that when global clients are making a decision about which social network to choose, Facebook is increasingly becoming the first choice.  The world leading brands stay on top due to constant innovation, reinvention and pushing boundaries, so it makes sense that Facebook would aspire to do the same to court such a lucrative audience and what better way to do it than to crowdsource from the cream of the crop in the creative industry?

By Dhiren Shingadia, Market Sentinel

Back in July I quickly punched together a blog post about earned media planning. My thoughts were originally inspired by Daniel Goodall, from Nokia, and I wanted to put together some sort of framework which outlined the key areas, or considerations, that a planner may need to take into account.

The nice chaps at MediaPro found my post quite interesting, so they asked me to expand on my thoughts at the MediaPro conference that recently passed. The entire event focused on the “the future of integrated communications” so there were some very useful seminars about content, moderation and community management.

I definitely recommend  popping down next year.

My deck can be found below:

By Amy Kean, IAB,

Thank heavens for the research release today, from YouTube, which confirms a sneaking suspicion that I – and the IAB Social Media Council – have had for a while.  If a brand enters social media… they should tell the world why they’re there in the first place.

That’s obvious, you might say. Simple common sense, some may tweet. Absolutely – I don’t think anyone actually ever claimed that social media was a form of rocket science – but it still doesn’t happen that often.  And that’s because there exists an assumption that hasn’t yet been disproved (until today) that just entering into a conversation is enough, that a ‘like’ or retweet is unequivocally fabulous, and that blogger coverage, without a rationale for why you’ve received it, is sufficient.

This research from YouTube (supported by the IAB) highlights the real need for harder messaging in social media content and advertising, showing that a really quite remarkable 60% of people are not yet existing customers of brands they share or ‘like’.  They just like them. Now I’m no Rain Man, but that’s a big number. Read more…

by , Tamar

There have been several ’stories’ in the past week or so which seem to highlight a worrying trend amongst ‘offline’ folk – that is, that bloggers are not worthy of the same respect as other forms of journalist or marketer.

Andrew Marr is probably the most vocal example, speaking at the Cheltenham Literary Festival this week. As reported by the Guardian, Marr apparently described blogging as:

“…so-called citizen journalism is the spewings and rantings of very drunk people late at night”

He went one step further, deciding that bloggers (presumably such a small group of people that they can be lumped in one single demographic) are not the sort of people he wants to be dealing with:

“A lot of bloggers seem to be socially inadequate, pimpled, single, slightly seedy, bald, cauliflower-nosed young men sitting in their mother’s basements and ranting. They are very angry people”


Thankfully, several other equally-prominent media folk have jumped to the defence of the bloggers in question – my favourite was Channel 4’s Krishnan Guru-Murthy, also writing in the Guardian:

“They might not be household names, or worthy of a slot on Radio 4, but to dismiss them out of hand seems wrong. As for bloggers being “inadequate, pimpled and single”, that’s no way to talk about Jon Snow. He isn’t single.”

Krishnan makes several very strong points in his reply (with very good humour, to boot) – but the point above really cristalises it for me. Bloggers might not be household names – though I’m sure if you surveyed a lot of households these days you’d be surprised by the result – but they are just as entitled to an opinion as every other commentator.

Worse still, to dismiss them as being not-worth-listening to simply because of the medium they choose to write on is just plain stupid. As a Marketeer, I regularly work with bloggers whose blogs get readerships of well over 100,000 unique users, some of whom none of you reading this will have heard of. But a journalist from the Financial Times – a newspaper with a readership of a little over 400,000 at last count – will be treated with respect and reverence by the journalism community. That doesn’t seem right to me.

More recently (today in fact) Twitter was abuzz with the story of Muireann Carey-Campbell, a blogger who had a nasty run in with a PR agency and a very large phone company. I won’t rehash the story here, as it’s been reported in numerous different places already today. Needless to say, it’s another example of a blogger being treated with much less respect than their more traditional peers. Despite the fact that both ‘guilty’ parties have since apologised, it’s such a shame that these situations only ever seem to get resolved when bloggers make a song-and-dance about it.

I can’t say I’m too surprised that old-media folk are on the defensive when it comes to bloggers – with pay-walls and over-hyped iPad applications supposedly forming the future of ‘real’ journalism, the winds of change are clearly blowing hard. As grown-ups and professional marketeers, it’s up to us to help bloggers prove their clout and show how influential they really are. Considering most of us are bloggers in both our spare and work time time too, I’d say the gloves are firmly off on this one…

by , Torchbox ()

The first ‘Facebook for Good’ conference was held yesterday in London, bringing together charities for a wide range of presentations and discussions about how to use Facebook to its fullest potential.

The event was kick started by a keynote speech from Randi Zuckerberg, Head of Consumer Marketing at Facebook.

What I liked about Randi’s speech was that she gave 10 tips that she believes will deliver winning Facebook pages. For some readers, it may seem like relatively common sense style info. However, that doesn’t mean to say everyone is practising what Randi preached so I thought I’d share the tips (they appear within the speech marks) along with my feelings on each as they’re relevant to all organisations not just the charitable sector. Seconds out tip one:

1. ‘Create a public page not a group.’ This is because there are lots of benefits with pages – for example you can get a personalised url, you get option of multiple logins, the posts come from the title of your page rather than an individual, you get access to the Insights data.

2. ‘Customize your Facebook page’ make it represent what your brand is all about. I think this is an interesting one as I reckon some people like entering on the wall and seeing what the page is all about before deciding whether to like. However, there is no reason why tabs can’t be used to deliver content that reflects a brand’s personality. I liked the example given by of iPlatform later in the day (who also runs the ) of the FA’s Support England tab which allowed you to put your name on the back of a virtual England shirt in run up to the World Cup. England may have faIled at the World Cup – but that was a winning campaign.

3. ‘Come up with rules of engagement’ – I guess this covers a wide range of stuff from deciding and stating what’s allowed and what isn’t, to figuring out the best time to post, to whether you’ll be using photos / vIdeo. In short, have a plan. It was interesting to hear that M&S have a meeting to discuss this week’s and next week’s wall updates. Like an editorial team in a newspaper.

4. ‘Encourage community interaction’ – if you can you might just turn from a page that people like to one that people love! I love the way Cobra uses Facebook to lead . Just the thought makes me yearn for a madras, garlic naan and bottle of Cobra – but enough of that. Tip five awaits…

5. ‘Be authentic’- my take on this is don’t try and be something you’re not. Use a tone of voice and imagery that befits the organisations you’re representing. And be polite and don’t say something you wouldn’t say in a public space.

6. ‘Get immediate feedback’ – if you have a community who are engaged, they’re defo going to want to be involved. So if you have a question you’d like feedback on, the community can be a great resource to make that happen.

7. ‘Leverage the power of video’ – I’m with Randi on this one. A little while ago I started up a for fun in my spare time and the most successful feature has been Ask A Silly Question, video interviews with community members asking stuff like ‘if you could be a comic book hero for the day who would you be and why?’ recorded and uploaded from an iPhone. Around 80% of the people that like the page watched the first video!

8. ‘Get creative!’ – effective creativity will result in compelling content that spreads. And if you’re an early adopter, the content can drive a news agenda. The one I’m pondering right now is how to use Facebook Places. Seems other folk are too, take James Blunt’s record label and how they’ve used Facebook Places to reward check ins with free downloads.

9. ‘Make it go viral!’ – tagging can help a post go viral and there’s been few better uses of tagging than ‘the most tagged photo ever at Glastonbury‘ which was highlighted. My view is that it is a combination of compelling content and effective amplification (i.e creativity and hard graft) that results in something going viral.

10. ‘Use insights to guide decisions’ – hear hear Randi. Not everyone uses the free Insights data that Facebook makes available but everybody should because the lessons you learn can help improve the way your campaigns perform. And that’s got to be a good thing…

So there you have it, Randi’s top ten tips! If you’d like to keep in touch about future Facebook for Good events, my tiny tip is head over to the page. If you want more info on best practice with your Facebook page there’s load of info here: .

Photo via audreyjm529 on Flickr

Photo via audreyjm529 on Flickr

by , Tamar

The online community has been buzzing for the past 24 hours, first in anticipation-of and now digesting the ramifications-of the ‘‘. Announced just after midnight on Tuesday (UK time), Twitter have completely revamped their website to give more space to a number of new features.

If you want the headline view, I wrote a blog early this morning on the subject – but I wanted to head over here to the IAB social blog to speculate over how these changes might affect advertisers…

The main areas of change that will probably affect brands are:

The new, all-inclusive, super-sticky site will undoubtedly encourage a lot of tweeters who previously used the service through third-party apps and sites to come back to – which in turn will obviously increase the exposure that existing advertisers receive. Recent developments like Sponsored tweets, promoted trends and the like are already making waves, but are only visible to people visiting This massive increase in page-views will surely make advertising directly with Twitter a much more attractive proposition.

The new layout also gives much greater opportunity for tweeters (and brands) to give exposure to great media content, without ever leaving the site. Partnerships with services like YouTube, Flickr and Vimeo will mean that video and image content (amongst others) will be viewable directly in your Twitter stream – as my boss and Tamar’s CEO  commented this morning, with ‘New Twitter’ it’s quite likely that the Old Spice ‘guy’ would have become a sensation on Twitter, as opposed to mainly on YouTube…

Finally, the third consideration for brands and advertisers will be how this affects third-party sites that they might currently be advertising on. As this post by Mashable points out, the New Twitter is essentially a desktop app, on the web. Services like TweetDeck, Hootsuite and the like will undoubtedly feel the pinch after New Twitter rolls out, so if you advertise with them you might be in for a drop in views. Just speculation of course, but I can’t see how this WON’T affect those apps…

With the roll-out set to continue over the next couple of weeks, many of the ramifications will only start to be felt in the next month or so, but even at this early stage it’s clear to see the ‘New Twitter’ will be a much more welcome place to advertisers, brands and users alike…

Yesterday saw our final session on the IAB’s rising voice in social media course. The installment was rounded up with presentations from Nick Stringer, director of regulatory affairs at the IAB and , senior marketing manager at Skive. Nick took the delegates through why it’s important to be ‘safe’ in social media, covering the all important ASA remit extension that comes into place in Spring 2011. Tom Ollerton, senior marketing manager at Skive spoke about his opinions on whats next for social media with some great examples.
See below to view both presentations in full…

By Daan Jansonius, Account Manager, SocialMedia8

Warner Bros’ recent influencer program faux pas has been widely publicised and critisised by many social media commentators. Recipient of the irrelevant and badly targeted outreach e-mail Adam Singer shared the incident with his readers on his Future Buzz blog, after which TechDirt and Repution Online among others chipped in their 2 cents too.

Warner Bros made matters worse with an ill thought out response, defending their efforts in a comment saying it was ‘fully WOMMA compliant’. Whilst this may be true, it’s no defense for a campaign to lack basic common sense. However, we prefer to help brands move ahead with positivity and helpfulness rather than scorn and damnation.

So let’s look at where Warner Bros went wrong and how they could avoid a similar PR nightmare next time.

1) The the outreach email

There are two issues here. Firstly, there is a lack of personalisation which is an immediate red flag for most bloggers. Warner Bros claims to have come across Singer’s blog recently which is why he was invited. This claim lacks authenticity when you fail to include the person’s name in the salutation.

Secondly, and more importantly, if they had actually read the blog they would have noticed that Singer’s posts mostly revolve around online marketing. Whilst there may have been posts about online marketing in relation to the entertainment industry, he is not known for sharing his love for the latest blockbusters.

It’s great that Warner Bros is looking to involve their biggest fans through a loyalty program – but you have to make sure you target the right people. These errors point in the direction of a shotgun approach where they fired as much hail at bloggers with a healthy level of influence without any thought about their relevance to the brand and materials.

2) Paying people for blog postings

Paid blog postings have been debated for a long time. Whilst I don’t necessarily disagree with paying for advertorials (if appropriately marked as such), there are two issues here.

Firstly, the fact they are offering bloggers remuniration in exchange for publicity means this is not a word of mouth marketing campaign or loyalty program. The fact they seem to have taken a broad strokes approach with approaching influential bloggers indicates they are more interested in getting attention, not building loyalty. And that’s fine, but it should not be ‘disguised’ as a word of mouth marketing activity.

Secondly, there is no mention of necessary disclosure of the commercial tie-up between the blogger and Warner Bros’ Word marketing team. In both the UK and the USA it is now illegal for bloggers to take payments for posting content without disclosing this financial relationship. To prevent these issues from happening Warner Bros should be completely transparant with their intention, without sending mixed messages. If you are looking to build a loyalty program you have to make sure you target the relevant audience and provide them with great content – paying for loyalty is not a long term strategy.

3) Responding to critisism

It’s great to see that Warner Bros is aware of the conversations surrounding their brand. This should be the first step for any brand to get active in social media. However, their response seemed to fuel the flames rather than turn the situation around. This can be tracked down to two main reasons; 1) many bloggers felt they were hiding behind the WOMMA compliancy rules when common sense should have prevailed and 2) they took a very combative approach, taking the blogger head on.

We have debated some of the issues with this campaign and I’m sure Warner Bros’ intent was genuine, but the blogger’s expressed some agrievances with being targeted for this campaign. And he was right to do so. Instead of digging their heels in WB could have appproached the blogger and discuss the issues he had with this campaign.

Furthermore, WOMMA guidelines are exactly that – guidelines. They provide brands with a walking stick, but this should not prevent brands from using a common sense approach to their social media campaigns and programs. They made a mistake and should have owned up to it, rather than point the finger of blame at someone else.

That’s all folks!