Archive for November, 2008

Brandwatch: Ford

Switched on brands are using blogging and social media in creative ways. None more so than Ford, which having spotted the potential went out and hired social media blogger Scott Monty to manage its marketing in this area.

Monty got to work right away. The brand now has a offering cash back for student buyers, along with competitions and cash prizes. Also a page on with around 600 followers, and a Wiki presence on the online comedy Where Are the Joneses?

Monty also got the company to sponsor a test drive event for women bloggers. Smart move, says Melanie Notkin on Savvy Auntie.

Notkin says:

Sure, automotive reporters will tell Ford’s new story. And auto bloggers will too. But are they reaching women? Specifically, are they reaching women without kids? Women who don’t worry about juice-boxes spilling on the new leather seats? Women who need cars that make them feel sexy when they go out with their significant other? … Probably not.

Why is reaching women so important? Well women make 65% of the car buying decisions for the household. Reaching us is critical. Reaching those of us who don’t have children, and therefore may be more likely to buy a luxury vehicle, is pretty important too.

These women visit And as Founder and Editor, I can reach them directly. And so I will. Right now.

Enough said!


Motrin falls foul of social media

Motrin put an on its web site. It was incorrect and suggested that if wearing your baby hurts your back or neck, you need Motrin. Whereas you in fact need positioning help.

This sparked a storm of from Mums on Twitter.

It also generated lots of .

The ad was removed but damage has been done.

Companies need to create communities around their brand – private or public so that they can test out how these kinds of ads will be received.
Furthermore companies need Twitter accounts and/or a blog so they can respond swiftly when these things happen.  It could happen to you.  You need to be able to have a voice.

Show your PR/Marketing team this example. Maybe they would like to come on one of our social media executive briefing sessions to learn about how they can better engage with social media and help protect the reputation of your brands.

Google Search becomes more social

Next time you go searching on Google you are going to notice some new features. You can vote on the search results and make comments on them.  This is a big change as Google used to rely on computer algorithms to rank search results.

Watch this from Google to hear from them about the changes.

Young employees want the communications tools they’re used to

Employers aren’t keeping up with their younger employees when it comes to communication channels, according to Accenture.

In a survey of 400 ‘Millennial generation’ students and workers – those aged 14 to 27 – many said they prefer to use their own consumer tech, social networking and open source software. More than half said that state-of-the-art technology is an important consideration when choosing an employer.

A fifth of respondents said the technology at their workplace wasn’t up to scratch. Many not only wanted to use the computer of their choice, but also access applications they are used to without having to get permission.

At work they often miss the communications channels they’re accustomed to using at home, such as online chat, instant messaging, mobile text messaging and RSS feeds, which they say they need to have to communicate with customers and clients. Only 6 percent say their organization provides online chat and instant messaging, while 5 percent have the use of RSS feeds.

To make up for the lack they regularly download non-standard technology from free public websites such as open source communities, “mashup” and “widget” providers.

Of particular interest is that fewer than half said their employees appear to have a policy on posting work or client information on public websites.

Gary Curtis, managing director of Accenture Technology Consulting, says: “The message from Millennials is clear:  to lure them into the workplace, prospective employers must provide state-of-the-art technologies. And if their employers don’t support their preferred technologies, Millennials will acquire and use them anyway.”

Of course in the current economic climate recruiters may find there is less need for ‘luring’ – young people will be glad to find work anywhere. But if communications with customers and prospects is a priority it makes sense to provide staff with the tools they need.

Click here for full details.


Obama launches new social media site

Through his campaign Barack Obama used social media tools to engage with and energise supporters. Through and sites like , and

Now he has launched a new site called, which is to accompany his time in office. Already Obama’s site is asking for feedback from supporters, but it is not clear yet how the new administration will use this information or how it could evolve to incorporate the views of the electorate into decision-making and policy-making initiatives. There is no reason why Obama cannot use social media tools in the same way as for example Starbucks which is sourcing ideas from customers in order to help improve their services. In fact it would be good if Governments did use social media more to liaise with people. What we need to see though is publication of ideas submitted, comments on them and updates on how they are being used or acted upon.


Interview with Peter Bradwell, Demos

Demos, the ‘think tank for everyday democracy’, recently produced a report that charts the rise of the ‘Video Republic’, its term for a new space for debate and expression dominated by young people.  Peter Bradwell, one of the report’s co-authors, talks to Its Open.

What is your definition of the Video Republic?

We talk about the Video Republic as a new public realm created through the explosion in audio-visual expression. Video and film is a powerful medium – from the Zapruder film of Kennedy’s assasination to the fall of Saddam, it has captured the defining moments of the recent history.

Now, facilitated by wider access to technology and internet access, more people can make video and share their ideas and experiences with people across the world. The Video Republic is a way of thinking about this new space – as a realm of debate, citizenship, and space for influencing other people. It’s a new way to be part of the public realm.

What challenges does the Video Republic present to Government and business?

First, there’s the ability to operate in the Video Republic. Just because
video cameras are cheaper, and just because more people have access to the internet, doesn’t mean inequalities have disappeared. We need to think about who has access to the space, who is listened to, and who regulates the rules and norms of behaviour there.

Secondly, there’s the challenge for business and government of communication. It can be a less controllable and predictable space than traditional media, and it’s more amenable to conversational, two-way communication.

Thirdly, there’s the issue of intellectual property. The currency of the Video Republic is, of course, video. Ownership of that video and the rights of those making and using it are not clear cut. It’s important that we keep our eyes on what will facilitate a healthy realm of cultural exchange and participative debate – rather than simply complaining that online video might be violating intellectual property rules.

How can business leaders and Governments tap into the Video Republic in constructive ways?

Government needs to support this space as a public realm – a place that needs to remain open and guided by the kind of rules we want other public realms to follow. That means thinking of the skills people have to operate in this space. It means thinking about how people are equipped to manage their ‘digital’ selves and their profile online. And it means regulation that foregrounds the protection of freedom of expression and healthy cultural exchange.

Do you see online video as mainly incoherent and entertainment-led?

Not at  all. It might seem incoherent, but trying to look for shape and meaning in online video as a whole is like trying to watch all television and radio channels at the same time. It becomes noise, and it seems

Firstly, we need to understand who is making what and how – the really significant change is in how video is made, and by whom. Secondly, there are countless examples – many of which we talk about in our report – from the Video Republic of content focused on politics, social change, or corruption, through to commentaries on people’s everyday thoughts and experiences. It’s not blanket coverage of parliamentary politics, but it’s not just sneezing animals either.

Isn’t video a form of broadcasting? So how could it be used in a
participative way in order to evolve new policies and consult with people  over issues?

It’s more communication than broadcast. Video can be used to help
politicians communicate with people more openly – there are plenty of
examples of this. But, important as these are, the possibilities of the Video Republic cut much deeper than the workings of formal democracy.

Broadcasting plays, and has played, a huge role in helping people learn about the world, and in framing how we understand it. It has huge power in this respect. The potential of the Video Republic comes in part through the possibility that more people will be able to access this power. It’s more a crucible of deliberation than a decision making mechanism.

Do you see it having a wider impact?

There’s nothing inevitable about the development of the Video Republic, or the effect this and similar things will have on our society. However, this is a key moment to think about how we want. This involves thinking of our rights as citizens, commentators and members of the public realm – and it involves making sure we begin our thinking with what this space can do for the principles of free speech and of a healthy democracy.

The Video Republic is part of a potential ‘expressive democracy’. This should and can look and work the way we want it to. But it needs our understanding and support for that to happen.

You can download the report from the Demos website


Virgin hit by online indiscretions

Social media isn’t just a big opportunity for brands, it’s also something that can trip them up. Many of the experiences that people like to share on social networking sites are work-related. Companies will hope that their employees say only nice things about them, but they can’t be sure of this. A staff member who gets browned off with a supervisor or customer can let off steam on his or her Facebook profile, with disastrous results for everybody concerned.

Virgin Atlantic says it is investigating a ‘small group’ of employees who criticised flying safety standards and made ‘malicious’ comments about passengers on Facebook. Chances are, most of us would never have heard about this if it hadn’t acted so publicly. But the brand had no choice. It knows well that this sort of negative comment can easily get picked up on the Internet and spread like wildfire. So taking pre-emptive action was probably a wise move.

As these sorts of incidents multiply employers will need to create policy guidelines that stop staff trashing their good name online. In some cases this could turn out to be a sackable offence.  But brands shouldn’t take a purely defensive view of social media. Far from being a menace, it offers the chance to engage in conversation and develop relationships with consumers in a neutral space, and as such is something they should cherish.


Forrester announces social media awards

Forrester has announced its ‘Groundswell awards’ for those companies who have made best use of social technologies.

The list of winners with their case studies provides interesting insights into how leading companies are using social media tools to improve the way they interact with customers and stakeholders; and also how these tools can be used to promote better team-working and knowledge-sharing internally.