Candy Everybody Wants–Even Accountants

myobcandy

Let me start with a confession.

Many years ago – a time lost in the mists – my first job was as an accountant. Actually, it was as a “trainee accountant” – I studied at night at worked by day. It was a hard slog – and it wasn’t a job that I loved. Eventually I ditched that work/study combo for the much more lucrative opportunity to make theatre and write under the auspices of a degree in the Arts (ahem). But I have always had a grudging affinity with accountants.

But I will be honest – it’s a conservative profession. So when it comes to social media and branding, accounting and accounting-related professions are behind the 8-ball. After all, we trust them with our money, our taxes and what we would consider our financial future – so we rightly expect a degree of decorum. Risk aversion. Security.

So when accounting software business, MYOB comes out with a sassy promo like this, you have to sit up and take notice.

What do you think? Are you loving your job this much?

Gut Feel Wins Out – 50 Planners to Watch in 2014

Salon

When we have a question, we search the web with Google. When we want to get or share an opinion, we turn to Twitter. And when we want to learn or share, we read blogs, take a Skillshare class or watch a YouTube video.

There is no doubt that a great deal of our contemporary experiences are mediated by technology. And as the torrent of content crashes through our various streams, from email to RSS, search to social, we unwittingly give over to algorithms, analytics and charts. It’s easy. Reliable. A matter of fact.

But there is a tyranny in data that we have not yet come to grips with. There are subtleties in creativity and nuance in piecing together the strands of commonality that can be woven together to create new stories or imagined futures. We are so overwhelmed that we have fallen back on data, facts and information – not as the only source of truth, but as the most convenient. As a result, we miss that emotional twang that reminds us that amongst the raging sea of ideas, executions, plans and analyses – there are real people at either end of the things that we produce.

One of the antidotes to this is to embrace the power of subjectivity.

Now, I am not advocating wild “feelpinions” – which are always laden with prejudice and politics. But what if we were, in fact, to respect a body of work, an individual’s expertise and their peers’ recommendations? No, I’m not making a comment on the volatile nature of contemporary Australian politics. I’m tipping my hat to the hand picked list of 50 planners to watch in 2014 compiled by Julian Cole and Liane Siebenhaar. In their own words:

Rather than rating blog views, Twitter followers or other unreliable performance indicators, we picked people who produce interesting content and innovations. People we’d like to have a coffee and hangout with. The people we think we can learn from in 2014.

And that’s a good enough recommendation for me.

Ash Donaldson – Predicting Irrational Decisions

Kōan

I don’t know about you, but I am completely logical. Focused. Directed. I am completely in charge of my own decisions and behaviour.

Or so I thought.

A couple of weeks ago, I caught up with Ash Donaldson, caffeine aficionado and behavioural design guru. We got talking about mobile app design and human behaviour and within seconds, my head was swimming. He was connecting dots that once swirled around my head like stars in the night sky. With a few quick examples, he explained how – through design – we can predict someone’s decisions.

And if you are interested in understanding how this might work in practice, take a look at Ash’s webinar on Slideshare. It’s 10 minutes that may just change the way you plan your marketing. And it may just change the way you think about your own choices that you think you make.

Twitter 101: A Crash Course from Mandi Bateson

Almost every day we hear more about the growth of Twitter. We hear a lot about its growth and its promise – but also, it’s dark side. Back in 2008, I felt that social media was mainstreaming – becoming accepted by what we’d call the early and late majorities.

But as this trend continues, we see a huge gap appearing in the skills, capability and experience of marketers in their use of social media. This is compounded by low barriers to entry – the sheer fact that anyone can setup a Twitter account in seconds democratises the power that once was held tightly by publishers.

But once you are connected, what do you do? As a marketer, you’re likely to make your fair share of mistakes – social is omni-directional. It’s not broadcast. It’s not even one-to-many – but what I call one-FOR-many. And as we have trained our minds towards broadcast, we can easily find ourselves out of our depth in the sea of social chaos.

But luckily for us, Mandi Bateson has developed a Twitter guide for marketers. Her Twitter 101 is a must read. It covers the Twitter essentials, how to make an impact and introduces the Twitter media packages for when you have some budget to spend on amplification.

Here’s to Your Strange Heart

Many, many years ago – back in my early days of social media, I connected with a very strange person. His name is Mike Wagner. He was a boldly creative and generous spirit that leaped at me out of the vast sea of social media chaos. I loved his energy and his thinking.

But the thing is … he stood out. We connected. We conversed. And after many years of connecting over social media, we met – face-to-face – in Des Moines, Iowa – and I felt like we had been friends for years. I thought it was about some deeper truth related to social media. But I was wrong.

And now I know how he did it. He used his STRANGE on me.

In this great TEDxDesMoines talk, he talks about the positive power of strangeness – and how we can tap into our strangeness to connect with the people who can help us solve the problems of our world.

So how do you feel today? I’m full of Johnny Cash today, but tomorrow I expect a touch of Ray LaMontagne. Rock on with your strangeness today.

Dude to Dude – Bullying and Harassment is Not OK

The internet can be a messy, chaotic and unpredictable place. You can see some of the best and some of the worst of humanity on display … with the implicit understanding that we are all free to express our opinions.

Over time, many of us create personas through which we air our views and opinions. For example, I tweet using @servantofchaos but also use @gavinheaton – which has a different focus and audience. The ease with which we can setup these accounts often provides people with a false sense of anonymity.

But what happens when you witness bad or bullying behaviour? Do you say something, write, call it out or step back into the shadows of the social web?

I have always believed that to witness and NOT raise your voice in protest gives a silent nod to the behaviour you are witnessing. This sometimes makes for confrontation but often also leads to unimagined change. But whatever the outcome, speaking up at least gives permission for others to take your part or express their own uncertainties or fears – and that can only be a good thing.

Because the thing is … this is NOT just ONLINE. The technology is just another mask – and behind that screen is a real person.

Katie Chatfield shares a great video that provides some leadership. Jay Smooth’s Ill Doctrine blog is a treasure trove of in-your-face commentary on the nature of politics and masculinity. Here he talks about the appalling situation that confronted Anita Sarkeesian while running a Kickstarter project – finding herself the subject of a concerted and vitriolic sexist attack.

What I love about the video is that he addresses men specifically. One of my favourite lines (towards the end) is:

“No matter what scene on the internet is your scene, if you are a dude on the internet and you see other dudes in your scene harassing women or transgender people or anyone else who is outside of our little privileged corner of the gender spectrum, we need to speak up. We need to treat this like it matters. We need to add humanity into our scene to counteract their detachment from their humanity.”

I couldn’t have said it better myself. Take a few minutes to watch this clip – and then think about your scene – work, home, politics, sport, online and off. Find ONE way to add humanity into your scene and you will make this world a better place.

Your First Week of Blogging

When I first started blogging, I felt like I was living a divided life. There was “real life” – colleagues, friends and family – and then there was my “blogging life” – these great new people that I was connecting with all over the world.

Back then the “real life” people couldn’t understand my interest in my “pretend friends”. They could not understand the hours that I would spend on my computer. Of course, the real mis-understanding was that I was focused on the machine in the corner of my study – for in reality I was in deep relationship building with people on the other side of the world. The computer was almost invisible to me.

These days things have changed. Now I am often setting up blogs for friends and family – and watching them pick up, stumble and even sometimes power along with their online efforts.

With most businesses I recommend the development of a continuous digital strategy, and while the same approach can be applied at an individual level, most people aren’t ready for that kind of commitment. YET, almost everyone needs a framework within which they can understand what they are doing. They need something practical.

And for that, I always recommend connecting in with Darren Rowse. Australia’s very own ProBlogger knows his stuff – and his Guide to Your First Week of Blogging really helps you to get started. Of course, you could just trawl through the archives on Darren’s site, but most people are impatient to get started. So download the book and send me a link to your new site! What are you waiting for?

Even in B2B You Have to Think Like a Rockstar

Business-to-business marketing can often appear dull and boring. The messaging is subdued, the social media is lacklustre and personality? What personality, right?

Now, there are always excuses here – government regulation, brand guidelines, tone of voice or particular assumed audience needs. But these are merely excuses – not reasons. We should instead see them as challenges – for to succeed in B2B marketing, I believe we need to think like rockstars.

How does this work? Mack Collier has put together a great deck on the subject of rockstar thinking. He calls out four key points – but let’s think about these in a B2B framework:

  1. Rockstars are fans too: remember, rockstars don’t necessarily love their own music. But they do have inspirations, musicians and artists they respect. Pay homage to your inspirations – learn from what they do and bring their work and focus into the work that you do.
  2. Rockstars shift control to fans: if you are a rockstar what do you like to do? Yep – hang out with other rockstars. Think about ways that you can elevate your advocates – and empower them in unexpected ways.
  3. Rockstars find the bigger idea: what mission are you on? How are you improving the lives of people. How are you changing the planet? What is the difference you are making. Sure you can throw money at a problem, but what can you DO to change the game. Think about it, then DO IT.
  4. Rockstars embrace their fans: in the B2B world there are many stakeholders. How do you celebrate them? What can you do to recognise their help and their efforts? How can you answer their questions faster? Think about stepping out from behind the shadow of your brand to provide unexpected value.

B2B can be exceptionally funky – and can prove a fertile opportunity for out-of-the-box thinking. Do you have examples? I’d love to hear of them!

A Special Something

One of my colleagues, Ingeborg van Beusekom is something akin to a social media whirlwind. At one moment she is blogging, the next she’s sharing a link, an idea or a point of view. And then, before you know it, there is email, a piece of advice or a recommendation. She is certainly something. Perhaps that is what lies behind her Twitter handle. But up until now, her efforts have been locked behind a firewall.

Now Ingeborg is sharing her energy, insight and creativity with the world via her blog and Twitter account. The infographic below was shared earlier this week, but as you can see Ingeborg’s tweetstream is chock full of value – and her blog promises more of the same. Be sure to subscribe – especially if you have an interest or particular focus on B2B marketing. You certainly won’t be disappointed.

socmedAnalytics

Don’t Target Your Fans, Target their Friends

sap-esmeDuring a presentation recently by Steve Sammartino, I was reminded of one of the most simple human behaviours – the short cut. Put simply, Steve told us, with no inducement humans will seek a short cut, a loophole, or way around a roadblock. We’ll look to “game” the system.

I think this is, in part, why we sometimes struggle with social media.

You see, social media is a great complex beast. It appears easy on the surface – setup one or more free accounts and go! But we all soon learn that growing a Twitter following is hard graft. We learn that our customers don’t always want to be our Fans. And that “being social” as a person doesn’t always translate to “being social” as a brand.

But I think this is largely due to our narrow focus – to our desire to take a short cut. Think about Facebook. We think – in our marketing world view – that the best approach to grow a community or fan base is to target our customers. BUT that isn’t social – that’s broadcast. That is assumption writ large. The underlying assumption is “I’ve got something for you”.

Perhaps, instead, we need to think about giving, pushing or delivering. We need to think about SERVING. How do we serve our customers needs?

And taking a purely social mindset, clearly the answer is to serve our customers friends.

Facebook and ComScore have teamed up to provide a new service called Social Essentials. If only 16% of branded messages reach Facebook users in a given week, we clearly need a different approach – and Social Essentials aims to bring the network scale to bear on this problem. For example, Starbucks has 23 million Facebook fans. Sounds big, right? But those 23 million fans have 670 million friends. Now that is what I call reach! But more importantly, it explains and commoditises what we too often call “influence” (and no, influence isn’t your Klout score). 

For the moment, Social Essentials seems to be about the measurement of campaigns, but there are big plans afoot. As FastCompany reports:

The service will, in the future, be able to track what kinds of products users are purchasing, what they were doing before and after seeing messages, and even what type of credit card was used–making it easier to conjure up savvy promotions that scintillate the particular pressure points of Facebook users.

Nike has called Facebook the “new TV” – and this new service sounds like it may just start delivering the digitally-verifiable reach that TV has claimed for decades. But it will become really interesting when this data is turned inside out and becomes available for real time targeting. I bet that’s what Google will be doing with Google+.