A wonderful article from the Economist appeared earlier this month http://www.economist.com/node/21559894) highlighting the fact that – for all the dynamism and entrepreneurial spirit being unleashed across so-called growth markets – only four emerging-market brands make Interbrand’s list of the world’s 100 most valuable: Samsung and Hyundai of South Korea, Mexico’s Corona beer and Taiwan’s HTC . . .

The piece pointed out how complicated it is to establish and rolling out a brand globally; ensuring that it has resonance and genuine meaning across multiple markets.  And now, having spent six months working in India, I would like to add my humble insight to the debate!  I believe that there are some principles that apply to brand globalisation regardless of from where they emerge, but that they are particularly relevant to BRIC and other emerging market brands.  The challenge is that these principles are far from intuitive, in fact, they may at first sight appear the opposite . . . . .  Here goes:

1. Forget about your legacy and heritage; everything that went into establishing your brand identity in your home country.  That will mean nothing abroad and may even act as a barrier to generating traction in new markets which are at other stages of the development cycle.

  • Huawei was founded by Chinese People’s Army officer Ren Zhengfei, following the introduction of then Chinese premier Deng Xiaoping’s “open-door policy” encouraging entrepreneurial activity.  It maintains strong links at board level with the Chinese Communist Party, whose patronage explains much of its success to date, but hardly the type of credential on which to take the brand global http://www.economist.com/node/21559929
  • Acer started life as the ‘Australian Educational Research Council’ in 1930 thanks to a Carnegie Foundation grant designed to promote ‘the advancement and diffusion of knowledge and understanding’.  The first research undertaken was: the standardisation of scholastic and mental testing for Australia; a study of the number of children aged 10 to 18 in each school grade or type of occupation; and the fundamental problems of the primary school curriculum. http://www.acer.edu.au/about/history  A far cry from sleek laptops or mini PCs!
  • Nintendo was originally founded to produce handmade hanafuda playing cards (http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Hanafuda), before becoming one of the most prominent figures in today’s video game industry
  • Mitsubishi started in 1870, as a shipping line before diversifying into coal-mining,  shipbuilding, and marine insurance.  It did not enter the automobile business until 1970, when an automotive division of Mitsubishi Heavy Industries was launched as a separate entity.

This is the toughest and most counter-intuitive principle; established (national) brands are rightly proud of their roots.  The problem is that these legacies are not necessarily transferable (or always relevant)  beyond the home country.\

2. Global brands should not always focus on targeting customers . . . . .  Again, this may appear counter intuitive, but it’s particularly true within the B2B and services space.  One emerging market IT services company I’m familiar with is recruiting at a rate of 70,000+ employees per year; its principal concern is to identify and hire the best and brightest from which ever country they can be found.

This means competing – literally – with the likes of Apple and Google for top talent.  A global brand in this context is about meaning something to business and technology graduates, demonstrating a track record in innovation and a genuinely meritocratic hierarchical working environment.   The idea being that – even if the company does not manage to recruit all the brightest talent – when these people assume positions of power and responsibility later in their careers, the company’s global brand values will still have meaning then selecting vendors or partners.

In this context, the sole focus of the global brand is on potential employees and future contacts; nothing to do with current sales which are ticking along nicely under the current legacy brand.  These types of choices are essential given the time and expense involved in globalising a brand; identify exactly who your primary audience is . . . . it may not be the obvious target.

3. Globalisation is not about geography; they are much more about communities, wherever they are based.  Market segmentation has well and truly given way to community engagement  . . . . . there is absolutely no reason for this to be restricted by the confines of geography.  Manchester United claims to be football’s most valuable brand with more fans in Asia than in the UK (one could argue that there are more Manchester United fans in Essex than in Manchester, but that’s the subject for another post!).  http://production.investis.com/manutd/findata/respres/annrep03/annrep03.pdf

Global TV enables the club to appeal and have genuine meaning to fans whether they are based in Clayton (http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Clayton,_Greater_Manchester) or Kuala Lumpur (http://www.facebook.com/mymanutd).  Geography is completely irrelevant.

4. The most important ‘C’ for global brands is not for ‘creativity’ but ‘compliance; and that means process, process, process . . . . .

All the above will count for nothing in the absence of clear structures and processes to ensure brand compliance across all geographies and all platforms.  And this also includes within the home market.  As the brand guardians of companies such as Shell (http://www.associatedpetroleum.com/pdf/ShellBrandCIGuide.pdf) , Apple (http://suite101.com/article/apple-brand-marketing-a184516)or  (on an extreme scale) the recent Olympic Games (http://www.salon.com/2012/07/27/the_force_of_olympic_branding_salpart/) attest, a fundamental feature of global brand management is compliance.  ‘Rogue’ campaigns are much easier to implement and harder to police when implemented across far flung geographies; irrespective of their short term gain, ‘off brand’ campaigns will ultimately undermine the global message and value of the same.

To quote again from the Economist piece:

Emerging-market firms are evolving in much the same way as Japanese firms did in the 1960s and 1970s, from humble stitchers to master tailors. In 1985 Philip Kotler of Northwestern University’s Kellogg School of Management observed that Japanese companies had shifted from “injuring the corners” of their Western competitors to attacking them head-on. The same pattern is beginning to repeat itself, but on a much larger scale.

The same could be said for Korean and Taiwanese brands such as Samsung, LG Electronics, Asus; each demonstrating the level of counter-intuition required to make their brands genuinely global.

Post by: Roger Darashah

  1. This past week, I attended the 2-day Social Media World Forum Europe conference. It was absolutely impossible to attend every relevant and interesting session across the two days. Try as I might, I missed some of the highlights from the conference but captured some great sound bites on Social Business strategy and community management from the Social Business and Social Media Marketing tracks on Day 2. Tweeting from my own account (@jacqui_flemimg) and @TweetLevel, here are my “notes” from Olympia from day 2.

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  3. Before we get into the day’s session, I have to share the #BuzzBear from Meltwater. How cute?! He is now hanging out with an Intel space man on my desk… riding a camel. 
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    Just had a lovely chat with @DanPurvis from @mBuzzUK at #SMWF and he’s handed me a #BuzzBear… how cute!
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  6. I spent much of day 2 in the Social Business track. This isn’t particularly relevant to my work with @TweetLevel, but is more of a personal interest of mine (and the topic of my husband’s Masters’ dissertation). I took A LOT of notes on Wednesday, so here are just some of the highlights. 
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    ‘Creating a social business’ panel at #SMWF #SocialBiz talking about the journey from social media strategy to social biz strategy. Yes!
  8. There’s me on the left at the ‘Creating a social business’ panel with Kyle Thorne (Social Media Relationships Manager, Virgin Atlantic), Peter Parkes (Head of Social Media, EMEA, Expedia), Karina Buch (COO, Crowdengineering), Pieter van Nuenen (Director of Corporate Communications, NXP Semiconductors) and
    Ben Padley (Global Digital Engagement Director, Barclaycard). 
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    #SMWF #SocialBiz @BenPadley ‘s biggest piece of advice “Get everyone much closer to it” with content creation and executive buy-in.
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    Rules of engagement for #socialbiz? No – empowering employees needs training and coaching, not command and control “rules”. #smwf
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    Great sound bites coming out of #SMWF Day 2. I’m at the #SocialBiz track today, follow #SMWF for snippets on brand measurement & mobile.
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    Biggest mistakes in #SocialBiz? “Endless debate in social ownership” says Kyle Thorne @VirginAtlantic >> Completely agree.
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    #SMWF @peterparkes, It’s easy to think #SocialBiz is about Policy (HR), Process (Mkting/ PR) and Platforms (Geeks)… Don’t forget PEOPLE.
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    Asked #SocialBiz panel about social support. @VirginAtlantic aims to make it part of cust experience, @BenPadley humanising responses #smwf
  16. I think it is important to note here that I’ve omitted some notes I took in relation to Kyle’s answer about social support at Virgin Atlantic. Kyle and I continued the conversation after the session and I don’t think he meant what he said about “queue jumping” to come across quite as it did.
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    Couple of great questions about how to engage with C-suite #digitalmuppets. @BenPadley brought teens in for reverse mentoring. #smwf
  18. I’ve heard that Edelman (my employer) has done reverse mentoring as well – what a great idea!
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    Next #SocialBiz panel, internal communications & employee engagement. @j_flem would love this! (I’ll take notes for you) #smwf
  20. (@j-flem: Here are the notes)
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    I have yet to hear anyone at #smwf #SocialBiz mention ’empowering’ employees. It’s not all just about education and support. Not top-down.
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    Education, support, process. These are all words reflecting command and control biz culture, #SocialBiz is about letting go, I think. #smwf
  23. Empowered: Unleash Your Employees, Energize Your Customers, and Transform Your Business is a great book by Josh Bernoff and Ted Schadler that I would urge anyone interested in Social Business to read. 
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    I think this is what @andreasmav1 from Aviva is trying to say… #SocialBiz is a learning exercise & sharing internally is important. #smwf
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    Aviva’s @adreasmav1 talking up importance of conversational tone/ style in comms, driven internally by younger employees #SocialBiz #smwf
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    Panel agreeing that #SocialBiz internal collaboration is not ‘Facebook for the enterprise.’ When have you uploaded a doc to Facebook? #smwf
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    #SMWF @abarendrecht @ApacheCorp does not do ROI analysis on their social investments because #socbiz just makes sense [to mgt/the org] #sm
  29. Now I must admit that I almost didn’t stay for enterprise social media case study presented by Jennifer Dixon (Head of Internal Communication) and Nick Crawford (Social Media Strategist) at BUPA, and that would have been a huge mistake! What a great and inspirational case study. One of the most important points I took away from this session; by slowly engaging top executives in internal social media, BUPA were able to earn buy-in for their external social media strategies and influence cultural change within the business. 

    I am not sure Nick Crawford meant to say this in so many words — and it does contradict the core message of Jenny’s presentation — but this is too funny not to share:
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    BUPA’s @nick_crawford presenting a #SocialBiz case study: “This is coming from the CEO, so you might not want to get in our way”. #smwf LOL
  31. BUPA Live is the internal social network/ collaboration tool BUPA brought in to replace their ageing Intranet. Here are some sound bites from @Jennidixon on the project: 
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    “I sent [MD] to go talk to his kids about Facebook” – BUPA’s @jennydixon on getting her MD comfortable with blogging #SocialBiz #smwf
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    Internal communication tools/ strategies help execs appreciate how external social strategies work/ meet biz needs. #SocialBiz #smwf
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  36. How did you get BUPA’s top execs comfortable with writing a blog for the first time?
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    Coaching, not rewriting and not ghost writing. Write as you speak or video blog. @jennidixon ‘s tips for how to get execs onboard. #smwf
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    How did BUPA choose @jivesoftware? Long list of requirements, outcomes, Gartner/ Forrester research and a 6-month pilot. #SocialBiz #smwf
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    Employees who use internal social network are demonstrably more productive and satisfied with work, says Bupa. #SMWF
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    How to justify budget for internal network tool? Link it to business outcomes. @jennidixon gave 30 execs back time, ROI. #SocialBiz #smwf
  42. So the next panel session was not my favourite, sorry. Nick Stringer (Director of Regulatory Affairs, IAB UK), Andrew Gerrad (Head of Social Business,Like Minds), James Firth (CEO, Open Digital Policy Org), Guy Stephens (Strategy Consultant, Capgemini & Chair of the Social Media Governance Forum) debated social media governance. The panel was supposed to address the importance of governance in developing a successful strategy for social media, however they talked more about governance and less about actual strategy. Here are a couple of sound bites:
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    How do you prevent yourself from over governing/ under governing? Great Qu to #SocialBiz #smwf panel. Important to get the balance right.
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    “If you get the philosophy right the plumbing will follow.” Great quote from #SocialBiz #smwf audience. Bit oversimplified, but good idea!!
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    Who owns the Twitter account? The company or the person? We need more than 10 minutes to debate this! #SocialBiz #smwf Depends on brand?
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    @JimAnning Like it. Most companies are struggling with the philosophy and over complicating it. Sometimes you just have to get stuck in.
  47. Next, I attended a fabulous afternoon keynote on the ‘Socialisation of Business’ by Joshua Graff (Marekting Solutions Director EMEA, LinkedIn). Disclaimer: LinkedIn is a client. 
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    #SocialBiz requires business culture that is open to feedback and open to customers… Social media is not about control. @joshgraff #smwf
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    . @joshgraff @LinkedInUK now showing a video case study about how HP PSG uses the platform. (Client, DM for case study!) #SocialBiz #smwf
  51. Here is the case study video shown during the keynote:
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    HP LinkedIn case study.mov
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    “You don’t want your Saturday night to meet your Monday morning, it can get messy.” @JoshGraff on why context matters. #SocialBiz #smwf
  54. I’m going to stop there with notes on the Social Business track. It was a great track with some pretty good speakers and a packed audience. The best thing about the Social Business track, no doubt:
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    Best thing about the Social Business track has definitely been the Chair. Bit of a Clive Anderson with hair. #Smwf
  56. Finally, I’d like to leave you with some of my favourite sound bites and insights from day 2 – these are from Social Media marketing and Social Biz tracks:

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    “Culture eats strategy for breakfast.” #SocialBiz #smwf Worth tweeting @thomaspower but what’s for lunch? Platform tech, metrics, people?
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    Pinterest works great in a B2B channel, you have to be creative and think about the medium before creating content #buttloadoftraffic #smwf
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    Reach out to your audience, don’t expect them to come // #SMWF Strategies on developing online communities
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    “It’s not about klout. It’s about their social capital. It’s about their social influence.” #socialcrm @SocialMediaWF #SMWF
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    Blogs/ posts that don’t “go up at the end” don’t get engagement — no call to action! Great point from the #SMWF panel moderator.
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    “Don’t be afraid of being niche. If you have scientists, let them be scientists.. don’t try to be 2 things at once.” @nickreynoldsatw #SMWF
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    @ScottMonty says: consumers trust less, peer recommendation key when we buy big-ticket items. Interesting pres by #Ford. #SMWF
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    LEGO at #SMWF: “Time to penis” is how long it takes before somebody comes up with something obscene with new LEGOs.
  65. That’s all folks!
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  1. This past week, I attended the 2-day Social Media World Forum Europe conference. It was absolutely impossible to attend every relevant and interesting session across the two days. Try as I might, I missed some of the highlights from the conference but captured some great sound bites on influence and measurement from the Social Media Marketing track on Day 1 and the Social Business track on Day 2. Tweeting from my own account (@jacqui_flemimg) and @TweetLevel, here are my “notes” from Olympia from Day 1.
  2. Chris Brogan, of Human Business Works, kicked-off Day 1 and I must admit I was a little gutted I missed this as it turns out he is regarded as a social media rock star who says stuff like this:
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    ‘We don’t make trends, they just happen’ @chrisbrogan #smwf
  4. The first session I attended was a panel discussion on the evolution of conversation. The panel lacked a solid narrative, but I was impressed with Benjamin Ellis (blogger/author), Delphine Remy-Boutang (WW Social Media Director, IBM Software Group) and Kerry Bridge (Social Media Manager, Global MB , Dell) and their insights on conversation and social media strategy. 
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    Listening to @DelphineRB and @KerryatDell on ‘the evolution of the conversation’ panel at #smwf currently on the role of internal training
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    .@DelphineRB: A tweet only last 8 seconds. We have to convert that conversation into a transaction’ for sticky marketing.
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    An old saying, but still very true: “Think global but act locally.” @DelphineRB on global strategies, and use best practice #smwf
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    Social media is becoming “less about platforms, more about how companies adapt internally” and organisesays, @benjaminellis #smwf
  10. Benjamin brought up a very good point here — social media isn’t just about platforms and “engagement” but rather how a business adapts to the era of the social customer. This supports the idea that most brands are looking at social media and influence backwards, replying on scores and fan numbers rather than business goals and objectives. More on that later.
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    Qu. to the panel, will visual content change anything? Simplicity, agility, stay true to tone of voice, curation… #smwf
  12. The raging popularity of visual content is really no different when it comes to strategies for bringing relevant content to communities. This point was emphasised by Delphine who felt that it was most important for brands to say true to their established tone of voice through visual elements. 

    Instagram, Pintrest… What does the panel think will be the killer technology for 2012 for social media marketing? A lacklustre question, but it yielded perhaps the best quote and tip of the two days:
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    “Who has studied storytelling…?! The killer tech for 2012 is storytelling” @benjaminellis #smwf Find the story >> best tip yet today
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  15. Second panel of the day now on Social media engagement measurement and metrics with Allister Frost (Head of Digital Marketing Strategy, Microsoft), Reggie Bradford (CEO, Vitrue), Jonathan Bean (COO, Mynewsdesk) and Patrick Salyer (CEO, Gigya); there were just a few too many vendors on this panel for my taste. The panel skirted around the role of business objectives in social media measurement, perhaps due to the fact that the vendors wanted to talk about real-time analytics and data science? 
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    Social media engagement measurement and metrics panel now at #smwf; what are the killer metrics? KPI – how about business objectives?
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    CMO dashboard is becoming more important for the industry… Err, not just CMO function, #socialbiz is everyone’s responsibility, no? #smwf
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    “What do you do with that data and how do you execute against that?” very relevant point at #smwf by measurement panel
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    Human beings want to engage with other human beings… real engagement is about listening & responding no matter the channel. #smwf
  20. Fair enough, but how do you measure “real engagement” and what do you measure? How do you engage with “hyper social customers” and translate this into sales/ ROI? 
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    “Not sure I buy into hyper social customers” driving sharing says @AllisterF, it’s about the useful value exchange, if not we reject #smwf
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    Measurement and metrics #smwf panel talking about SEO, search, ROI and optimised websites. Still no mention of business objective metrics.
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    ‘Behavioural modelling with real rigger and science is the future’ of social media ROI, says @AllisterF #smwf
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    Is engagement is the thing we should be measuring? Should we be looking at biz objectives to drive metrics? Great ?@vikkichowney #smwf
  25. Finally, eConsultancy’s Vikki Chowney asked the killer question! Business objectives are as unique as your business and should drive metrics and KPIs, said Allister, however we still need to look at engagement metrics, though he agreed we need to move beyond this. Some wise advice:
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    From @AllisterF “As unique as your business. We should be measuring engagement metrics… but we need to move beyond this.” #smwf
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    .@AllisterF urges us to ‘step away from the screens and use this data in a way that will make our business stronger.’ #smwf #smmeasure
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    . @allisterf says DO measure engagement, it’s easy, but real value is when you get business people to apply econometric data modelling #smwf
  29. Given that we are in an age where every company is a media company, I find it interesting that #SMWF Europe invited a publishing company to present a case study on measurement, but I can’t fault Cathy’s presentation. She was perhaps one of the best speakers of the two days. 
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    Next up in the engagement and measurement session, a case study from @cathyma from IPC Media #smwf
  31. Here is a link to Cathy’s slides:
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    @cathyma #SMWF Social strategy and measuring success presentation slides dl.dropbox.com/u/67488/IPC…
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    The holy grail of social media success… how does your business make money? Business objectives, user needs, tech drives everything. #smwf
  34. Yes! Now we are getting somewhere. Start at the beginning – what do you want to achieve?
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    Three core metrics from @CathyMa, acquisition, retention and monetisation. Very basic, but core before you begin the tracking journey #smwf
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    #SMWF love it, keep in mind: ” Not everything that can be counted counts, & not everything that counts can be counted” Einstein #socialmedia
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    IPC connect social brand experiences with their print publications (product). #smwf
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    Final points from @CathyMa, IPC; getting the right people is a starting point. Tools like #TweetLevel help w/ metrics 😉 #smwf
  39. This is a VERY important point from Cathy and a cheeky plug from me. Altimeter’s recent report on The Rise of Digital Influence dives into this further. I strongly recommend ; -) 
  40. After a networking break (read: quick snooze in one of the event’s FatBoy beanbag chairs) Twitter’s 
    Bruce Daisley (UK Sales Director) took to the stage for the afternoon keynote. I believe it’s fair to say that we were all expecting something a little different from the keynote. 
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    #SMWF Afternoon keynote now from @brucedaisley, UK sales director at Twitter.
  42. The view from the back of the room…
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    “When we talk about Twitter at Twitter, we talk about it as an information network, not a social network.” @brucedaisley #smwf
  45. (This comment sparked an uproar on Twitter.)
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    2/5 of people on Twitter don’t tweet. @brucedaisley #smwf
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    .@brucedaisley Hashtags are the new URL, the glue holding the community and information together. #smwf
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    People are interested in some sort of reciprocation online. @brucedaisley #smwf If you can’t give something free, offer something of value.
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    Twitter’s @brucedaisley showing paid for and earned media via Twitter and ROI. Twitter is just one channel, not used in isolation?! #smwf
  51. I mentioned earlier that the audience seemed to expect something a little different from Bruce Daisley. Speaking with those sitting around me (and on Twitter) there was a palatable sense his keynote was bit too “salesy” and that he was preaching to the choir. 
  52. The final session in ‘Engagement and Measurement’ included Lee Griffin (Commercial Director, TBG Digital), Dr Simone Kurtzke (Social Media Manager, Visitscotland), Henry Juszkiewicz (Chairman and CEO, Gibson Guitar Corporation) and Azeem Azhar (CEO, Peer Index) talking about monitoring and measurement. It would be impossible to sum up this panel discussion… it was very odd. The two practitioners, Henry and Simone, appeared to agree that it is impossible to pay attention to all social media data, but you do the best you can. Lee and Azeem meanwhile had their own agenda. 
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    Monitoring and measurement panel now discussing the value of data and insights to inform strategy and spend #smwf
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    “Not all data is equal, you can ignore some stuff… It’s important to evaluate qualitative data” and insight. @socialscotland #smwf
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    Gibson Guitar’s @heneryej explains that data is bad and confusing, screen out data and get to the meat of things, that one idea! #smwf
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    #smwf @henryej “social media for Gibson is about long term engagement, so we monitor that, not more”
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    Crunching data in a sensible way is about looking for the signal in the noise says Lee Griffin, TBG Digital (via the data geek) #smwf
  58. So I think we’ll leave it there for day 1. To be continued… (on day 2, that is). 

santa ipadThe hotly anticipated 2011 Christmas shopping season saw a rush of retailers for clambering to offer better door-buster and free shipping deals than the next. So, as a nation of consumers, did we live up to our end of the bargain?  John Lewis Group and Next are among the retailers to have already published their data. With numbers still expected from others – for high street and online – it may be another week until we have a full picture of economic data that will make a concise story. In the meantime, eConsultancy ran a nice round-up of Christmas 2011 ecommerce stats published thus far. Of interest:

· Online sales in December were up 30% year-on-year, and the last week before Christmas saw almost double the sales compared with last year, according to stats from MetaPack

· 640,000 tablets were given as gifts to adults, with the iPad dominating the market with 72% of sales

· 4.2m iOS devices were activated on Christmas Eve and Christmas Day

· Christmas Day was the busiest day of the year for mobile clicks, with volumes 36% higher than the early month peak on 11 December 2011 and 50% higher than the average for December

Now here is an interesting stat:

· Boxing Day 2011 was the biggest ever day for online retail in the UK, according to Experian Hitwise, and represents a 19.5% increase from last year.

This is a measure of visits, not sales, however. Consider another stat to come out last week – More smartphone and tablet owners are researching products that purchasing them – 80.8% compared to 41.4% – it will be interesting to see how the e-commerce sales numbers stack up for Boxing Day and whether all this traffic converted into sales, or disappointed shoppers perusing the clearance sales with a Turkey hangover. My money is on the stuffing.


Recently I have been updating my twitter account adding relevant followers to be list of people I want to regularly hear from.

The process is pretty simply, I have several columns setup on topics ranging from #influencechat, #ARchat to #measurepr. After a while, i recognise that there are some people whose tweets are interesting that I would like to keep track of regardless.

However, and this is where the twitterquette bit comes in, after I follow them, I frequently get a DM from them. At first i thought it was quite a nice thing to do but now I can’t stand it.

More often than not, they direct me to a link asking me to ACT. I have only just followed you – surely we haven’t built up the relationship for me to start clicking on the links you send me. Other times, its a tweet (un)sincerely thanking me for following them. Should I be flattered that they have setup tweetlater as a way of being sincere with there new followers. In my case, no. Auto-DMs should be first against the wall when the revolution comes (followed by real estate agents and bankers).

The simple rule, which everyone inherently knows is engagement. Why is this forgotten so much? A DM is more intrusive than an @reply so please limit your usage of it to when it is right.

Rant over. You may now eat (but use the cutlery from the outside in).

Image courtesy of nickmack.net

In Richard Edelman’s new blog post, he discuses that that in order to achieve resonance, a brand has to allow open conversations around a topic of societal interest. Brands have to be willing to risk losing control in exchange for gaining credibility. The three step process behind this has been defined by the Tuck Business School as ‘meaning management’.

TuckIn summary, a brand must first create awareness, followed by someone achieving association with the concept and only then can resonance be achieved.

This approach works exceptionally well when complemented by what we have been developing at the company for some time through the Topology of Influence.

Whereas the Tuck approach is bottom up, the topology methodology relies on targeting the smallest group first. The raison d’être behind this is that in order for a message to truly flow throughout the web/world then the most effective method is to engage firstly with the idea starters. Of course the approach should not be limited to this group but we should also actively target selected amplifiers and curators too.


We are currently at a tipping point whereby sociology and technology are colliding enabling us to identify and engage with different kinds of influential people according to their behavioural characteristics.

It drives me mad how some brands are pushing the same marketing message at every ‘influencer’. My view is that we should adapt the strategy dependent upon the kind role that someone has in the topology.

For example, for idea starters you should have an argument. This kind of person does not want to be spammed with content but enjoy the rigour of a discussion that promotes or debates their theory. I tested this out personally by seeing if I could engage with someone whose time is in high demand. Instead of requesting a meeting, I sent them an email that referred to a premise they had championed and disagreed with it via a structured argument. The result – I was invited to meet with this ‘idea starter’ in person.

Conversely, this approach would be less successful with amplifiers. To engage with with this group, who do not have the time to get into deep discussion as they have numerous deadlines to manage to feed their high volume audiences, you need to send them pre-packaged content. This shouldn’t be a shock as it was the premise behind a press release. Of course there are other rules to apply (such as relevance, already having a relationship with the amplifier and appropriateness of delivered content).

There is a perfectly valid reason why we need to understand influence. Brands and marketers have limited time and money so we must engage with the people that count in the right manner. Only of we do this can we hope to have our message spread.


It could be said Ed Keller and Jon Berry in writing The Influentials, discovered or at least articulated the importance of word of mouth.  They identified how one of humanity’s first forms of social influence—has become even more important and influential today for people making sense of the world.

The thing about highly influential people is they actively cultivate their influence. They view their influence as an asset and they invest in it and work on it. One of the best ways to get their attention is essentially to curate them and actively magnify their reach. – Michael Troiano

Keller and Berry thesis’ stated that one in every 10 Americans is what they call an “influential.” These people had a tremendous impact on the rest of society because their ideas and opinions are sought out by the friends, family and community members around them. The authors explain that the conversations they hold and the examples they set have the power to shape the community’s behaviours and attitudes.

The currency in influencer relations is ego. That’s the magic formula. How do you appeal to an ego in a way that you’re adding value without appearing like you’re appealing to that ego? – Joe Chernov

Social media has revolutionised many things but we believe that one biggest impacts has been on the nature of influence and the role of influentials.  Through the process of democratisation of authority the influential has been empowered and grown.  It seems hard to believe that as long ago as 2006 David Brain outlined the impact of this on the marketing world.

“So in communications and in the way brands and companies deport themselves to their customers and to their stakeholders the game is changing fast. The new model citizen who is increasingly participating and demanding a say and respect and, even a relationship, is not the person we used to know. They don’t believe us in the way the way they used to it is fundamental for most companies, brands, PR people and communicators.”

If marketers think social strategies and influencer strategies are the same thing, they are not getting it. Influencer strategies are most like traditional marketing. But social is so much more than just getting influencers and other third parties to carry your message into the marketplace. The whole influential chain is about understanding how the messages percolate and get transferred to multiple people. You need to understand your influencer heat map. Otherwise, you’ll focus on the big targets and miss where influence really takes place. –  Jonathan Yarmis

Essentially authority has seeped from the 10% that previously orchestrated the process of influence to everyone taking part in the conversation.  Today everyone in an online conversation can be a New Influential.  This is not to say that all these New influentials are born equal.  One of the defining features of online conversation is that it is visible – word of mouth made trackable.  This has enabled us to track influence and the interaction between influentials.

Our insight from this was dramatic as we found a small group certainly less than 1% who start new memes within a conversation we called these influentials idea starters.  These influentials had great authority but often relied on a bigger group around 10% of the conversation who we called amplifiers.  These are people who amplify ideas and circulate them within conversational communities.  Amplifiers often had professional or commercial motivations such as journalists, analysts but were also more often than not self created experts and avid sharers of information.  The third group of new influential we called curators these are those who look to put context around the conversation bring strands together and take it in new directions through adaption yet falling short of starting an entirely new meme.  The next group that we identified were commentators those who had a need to comment and add without giving deeply to the conversation often less influential their influence should not be ignored as when negative as in trolls a commentator can serious skew a conversation and opinion.  While we find very often commentators will often intervene to correct inaccuracies or a unfounded negative view.

Social and influencer strategies are two pieces of the same larger whole, which is outreach strategy. Anytime you’re trying to engage someone, you’re trying to accomplish four things. You want to engage them by letting them know you know who they are. You want to inform them of something that is of interest to them. You want to persuade them there’s more where that came from. And then you want to invite them into some kind of action-interaction world relationship. And then you want to lather, rinse, repeat, and replicate in scale. – Michael Dortch

Perhaps the controversial point about New Influentials is that everyone who takes part can everyone be influential.  But today taking part can simply be searching and reading in the conversation this group who we call viewers don’t leave a foot print except through Google.  Indeed it is through Google and the impact of viewers on search results that these other groups become influential and evolve their role within a conversation.  Authority rests with the search patterns of those who simply observe in a democratic world.

All quotes sourced from Ramp Up Your ROI with Strong Influencer Strategies

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