Let’s Get Social – The Social Media Song

This video is worth watching don’t be put off by the five minutes on the clock – I would love to hear your thoughts. Mary McCoy from Continuum Marketing Services sings a humor-laced theme song for this year’s Social Media Marketing World. The song was apparently a warm-up for a keynote panel led by Jay Baer on the topic of “Have We Lost the Social in Social Media?”

If you want to sing along in a kareoke style here are the lyrics:

“Let’s Get Social”
Verse 1
I’m showing you things you’ll like
Trying to get engagement
Here’s some photos from my life
My cat, my kids, some bacon

Verse 2
I’m hoping you’ll share my stuff
And tweet it to the world
If you help me grow my Klout,
I promise that I’ll share yours

So connect with me, let’s have some fun
Let’s show the world how this gets done

Let’s get social (social) with social media
Let’s get social (social) with social media
Where we can spread the word and grow our reach
And find our fans in their newsfeed
Let’s get social with social media

Verse 3
We’re searching for the story
That’ll bring us instant fame
So we shoot our “viral video”
And we post it to the Gram

Verse 4
We’re looking for the secret
Of Facebook’s Holy Grail
We try to keep from paying
That leads to hashtag #fail

(Repeat pre-chorus and chorus then to bridge)

Hey now y’all, can we just get real?
Do we care about our fans or is this just another deal?
Said another way, have we lost our way?
Social’s about the people, remember they are people
Do we really need another fan, like or share?
Do we need another post to show up everywhere?
I hope as we scatter we never forget
That our posts live forever even when we go to bed

Do you think we will see this in the UK charts any time soon? Do we think this was deliberately done to be terrible so it goes viral?


Pepsi Max make UFO’s invade in augmented reality stunt.

If like me you love some clever creative augmented reality you are going to love this stunt from Pepsi Max. The brand surprised commuters with in its own words “an unbelievable experience” at a bus stop involving giant robots and UFO abductions! Some of the people’s reactions are priceless it takes me back to a similar stunt I talked about from LG back in September.




Is procurement killing creativity?

I have been working in public relations for more than 16 years and although I love my job, and the industry finally seems to be adapting to the modern world, one thing that never seems to get better is the formality, bureaucracy and procurement processes that in my opinion stifle the creative sectors in this country.

Not a slender tender
For instance, most agency directors will have had that all-familiar sinking feeling of completing a tender document which usually consists of 35-50 pages, which asks terribly dull questions which usually have no bearing on the actual ideas of the marketing or PR campaign. In fact often they are a tick box exercise to ensure you have a particular healthy and safety certificate that bears no relation to anything. creative

Our creative sectors have been founded on a base of brilliant ideas and clever people but I believe the obligatory 50 page tender document you have dropped on your lap during this process is actually stopping a lot of our finest creative businesses and minds even entering the ideas stage of the work.

A huge tender document is a huge undertaking and can take days if not weeks of administration time. This is time which many smaller more agile creative people can ill afford. It is fine for the larger agencies to absorb this as part of the process but what about the smaller creative teams that only have 2-4 employees now they are looking at a much bigger challenge and often this turns them off. But in my mind this is wrong – we should find a way to give everyone the chance to share their thinking.

The second element of the process usually consists of some kind of formal marketing brief. This can often be anything but brief and can range from the brilliant to the truly shocking, believe me I have had them all as I am sure many of you have too.

Think Value not price
Now I understand the role procurement is supposed to play the department is there to help make the correct purchases at the very best price but is price always the best way to choose your product or service provider? It might work if you are buying a pencil but it’s not how I choose to buy a new car? It’s not how I buy a new TV? It’s certainly not how a football team would buy their new creative players – so why do they take creative briefs in this manner? Sure price is important because we can’t all afford the £50 million Messi-type players but that doesn’t mean we have to aim for the cheapest option available as that could lead to commercial suicide. There is a saying “buy cheap and pay twice” in this instance I think that is right. I also think that if the smaller more agile agencies are cut out then the process is even less competitive as the big agencies know they have it in the bag.

However, all this said budget is still a fundamental part of any creative brief, my social media agency prohibition received a brief a while back that was looking for a twelve month campaign with a budget of just £10,000 and this was to include costs as well. I truly have no idea how a freelancer could even make that account profitable. So budgets on both sides have to be realistic but if it’s not just about price – this is really about creativity and the actual ability to deliver. 

Creative campaigns are still about ideas
However, when considering all of these points surely it should still be the creative marketers that make the decision on who gets the campaign. If an agency is brilliantly creative and has stunning ideas but has missed a tick box off the sheet should it be ignored and then you just go with the same old safe agency? In my mind this is daft – give the best work to the best agency not the cheapest, not the one with a H&S certificate for hot coffee give it to the creative minds that can deliver. I have won pitches with brilliant ideas but the actual ideas were only given 20% of the overall score – that is plain nuts.

Do you agree? Do you think your creativity has ever been stifled by the procurement process?

Photo Credit: ArloMagicMan via Compfight cc


Base jumper sets his pants on fire in PR stunt – Video

An Norwegian underwear producer called Devold put its protective clothing to the test in a PR stunt and videoed the whole thing and then sent it to me. The workwear brand set fire to a base jumper and sent him over a cliff in something which did seem pretty scary and that’s why I like it.

The thing that concerns me the most is my pilot-chute (that opens the parachute). If the pilot-chute gets burned it might not work”, says stuntman Tom Erik Heiman before he is about to jump off a 1200-meter high cliff indulged in flames.

Apparently Devold manufacturers protective underwear that protects against cold, heat, flames, static electricity and metal splash. What the heck is metal splash? In this clip, it clearly demonstrates that the company was the first manufacturer to receive EU-approval for their flame retardant underwear. If you are listening guys, please do send some over to me as I want to test your pants out – they will come in handy in the PR industry as we fly by the seat of our pants all of the time.

At the time of writing the video had received 12,000 views but somehow I think that is going to increase.



Social Media ROI Explained – Presentation

Social Media ROI Presentation by Chris NortonYesterday, my social media agency Prohibition held another of our strategic social media seminars and the topic was on the much discussed issue of social media ROI. However, instead of me banging on about my thoughts on this issue for once I have decided to share the full deck on Slideshare which you can see below. Obviously, a deck without me discussing our case studies doesn’t tell the whole story but you do get a feel for what I think on the matter.

The event was sold out and attended by more than 30 senior marketers and bizarrely they even laughed at some of my jokes which is a first.

What do you think about getting an ROI from social media is it critical to keep on justifying your activities?


Wifi is now as important as a good night’s sleep

I get approached quite a lot to cover technology stories or products that aren’t particularly relevant to me but WiFi on trains, hotels and restaurants is something that I feel quite strongly about. I just have to ask myself how many times have I been on the red eye 5am train flying into London trying to use a useless connection? The answer is a lot and it is very annoying when it doesn’t work.

I like many people look to use the free WiFi wherever I can as my mobile service can often be patchy when tethering to my laptop. So earlier this week I received a story about the Hotel Chain Glh which is to launch free unlimited BT WiFi for all its guests and visitors across the country. The bumf has told me that it’s a ’one-click’ service which allows customers to log on to the Internet instantly, without the hassle of singing up and giving all of your usual details. Predictably demand for WiFi in hotels is rising, with this chain’s guests using more than one billion minutes of the stuff in 2013. As a social media strategist I have to use different platforms for all of my clients and so I need to have a connection just to do my job. Free wifi  

More interestingly though, a recent report by BDRC Continental found that guests consider free WiFi as important as a good night’s sleep. I think free WiFi is pretty important as a business tool but I am not so sure I see it as that critical as a former insomniac I can tell you that I love and need my sleep. But I am willing to find out just how good it is so I am going to test drive this service myself in Newcastle to see if it is as good as it claims to be. I will report back.

BT is actually one of my old clients from several years back and I remember when it became the first supplier of public WiFi more than 10 years ago to a huge fanfair. These days a good connection is what’s expected and I think it’s great we can work wherever we want to inside or out. I am currently sat next to a load of boxes as the Prohibition team are moving offices tomorrow and Wifi and lack thereof may be a problem over the next three days or so. You are going to have to wish me luck.

BT Wifi 22nd Jan 2014. V4 from BroadView BrandVideo on Vimeo.

Image credit to http://photos.hamariweb.com/funny/Follow-him-for-free-Wifi_pid3690


Book Review: Seth Godin’s Linchpin

I have just finished reading Linchpin by the genius artist that is Seth Godin. He of course wouldn’t claim to be a genius but that’s the point of the whole thing. A linchpin is described as:

A person or thing vital to an enterprise or organisation.

In his book Godin takes you through his thinking of why most of us are cogs in the wider system and how we are all trained to be good employees through school, university and then again in our jobs. We are trained to follow orders and make the machine work in what he describes as the “factories”. He does mean this in the actual sense of factory but he is also referring to us working in offices chained to our new machines or computers as we know them.

He talks about us being forced to conform and we shouldn’t because its the people that don’t that are successful. He offers some great examples throughout of people who have defied the rules to do things differently. Some of my favourite quotes from the book include:

  1. “Artists can’t draw. They use bravery, insight, creativity and boldness to challenge the status quo. And an artist takes it personally.”
  2. “Trying and failing is better than merely failing – it makes you an artist.”
  3. “It doesn’t matter that you are always right it matters you are always moving”

The concept of the book is that we all have to stand out and not be a cog in the system any more and do what he describes as “Art” in our day to day jobs this can anything from smiling more to engaging with your customers better. He believes it is about standing out and being counted rather than just following orders. That said he isn’t asking for everyone to be sacked and not do what they are told just to enjoy what you do more.

I particularly liked his section on people. He says why don’t you just accept some people you can’t change. So when you are driving along in your car and someone cuts you up rather than shouting and screaming about it. Try and reflect on it and think well look at that. The point is you can’t change everyone. I think this might be a challenge for me next time I am on the road but I am certainly going to think differently about people in the future and maybe that is the point. linchpin

A lot of the main concept of the book reminded me of a book I reviewed a while back called Rich Dad Poor Dad that too was a great book and was about leaving the system but for me it was more focussed on a business owner than employees too which is why I thought Seth hit the nail on the head.

He also talks about our lizard brain which is like our conscience telling us to conform and fit in. He believes we should ignore it and try and do things that broaden our horizons. There is no doubt Seth himself is an artist and if all his books are as good as this I think I am going to have to switch off my TV for the foreseeable future.

Do you have a great business book you can recommend? If you do let me know in the comments I am always looking for good recommendations on what to read.




Facebook advertising is confirmed as fraud in this video

As you know I have been struggling to understand the huge drop in engagement on my client’s Facebook pages recently and you may remember I wrote a detailed post about Facebook forcing us to buy it’s advertisements to maintain organic reach. I actually got criticised by one individual who claimed I was jumping on a bandwagon to which I thoroughly denied because I see it on our client pages by the day. I am obsessed with analytics anyway and looking at the insights it has got even worse in recent months and this is despite us using proactive interesting content and paying to promote posts.

Well this video explains it all clearly and I highly recommend you watch it. It claims Facebook’s like system is being fraudulently used by link farms and Facebook is benefiting from it. The video claims link farms around the world are creating profiles to like pages they are involved with but to combat being found out they are liking other pages non-related too. Some of the examples he uses are very compelling. I think this video may have hit the nail on the head and it should now be time to sort this out as nobody wants to pay for fake anything.


Social media and crisis management – infographic

I have been writing about online crisis management for years because as you know I do love a good crisis and helping out is one. It’s actually the topic I covered in Share This Too last year and more recently in an article for E-Consultancy. Anyways I have come across this fine infographic on the topic and although I don’t like everything I thought it was rather interesting.



Ignore Google Guest Blogging is not dead here’s why

Guest blogging was called into question recently by Google’s head of Webspam Matt Cutts, who said in his latest provocative post that “people should put a fork in it.” A lot of people have talked about this but I have my own opinion and I thought it was worth sharing. I’m going to explain why guest posting still has its place and can provide benefits as long as it’s done spam-free and to best-practice. Guest Blogging

Cutts said that guest writing for blogs has become dominated by SEO companies, using nasty links to increase exposure and in turn making the practice more and more ‘spammy’. I have to admit I don’t disagree with this statement. Bad SEOs have become a bit desperate since the death of link farms and they noticed the good work PR’s were doing in blogger relations and before you knew it Blogger Relations went from being a very personal process to help the writer with their content to a mass market, industry wide, blanket email spam tactic. I wrote about blogger relations not being rushed on here way back in 2008 and my points from that still stand.

Matt writes-off guest posting saying that the cause of its demise is the use of ‘low-quality links’, and that if guest bloggers cannot be vouched for by the person they’re writing for, there is a chance that Google could recognise it as spam and your page rank will actually be adjusted accordingly. He did later correct his statement on guest blogging being dead by clarifying that he meant this in relation to SEOs and page rank.

In Google’s quality guidelines it states that links intended to manipulate page rank or sights Google search results may be considered part of a link scheme and a violation of Webmaster guidelines.

However, while there will inevitably always be some groups who use blogging for nasty ‘black hat’ SEO techniques, in my view guest posting is still a brilliant way to gain exposure for yourself or your brand, and if done correctly it can also offer tremendous value for your readers. Links or backlinks should only really be used if they are relevant, and not to solely increase Google ranking but that’s the currency these people want to play with.

It could be argued that since guest bloggers do not even get paid for what they post, taking away a link to their own website means they are getting even less for their efforts.

No SEO technique is spam-proof and blanketing all guest posts with links as spam is unfair on real people who are genuinely working to produce high quality work although there are a lot of them out there. My good friend Neville Hobson wrote the following just after this was announced:

Every week, I receive two or three requests to publish guest posts on my blog.

The requests come by email from people I don’t know who almost always have a Gmail address, not a recognisable company domain. And there is usually nothing in the email about the person other than a name (which often doesn’t quite match the name in the email address), and no links to any presence on the social web.

They offer to be guest bloggers, writing posts for my blog on a wide variety of subjects, some of which match topics I am interested in and/or have written about myself in the blog. More recently, many of the emails that arrive offer to create or post infographics.

Are such requests worth considering, even accepting?

In a word, no.

I love that as he puts it so eloquently – I get around 10 of these approaches a week and my blog isn’t even that mainstream and let’s not get started on the amount of SEO service offers. These people aren’t fooling anyone they just want our Google juice they aren’t bothered about my readers at all. If I had met these people or engaged with them online I might be interested. However, I usually just receive an email that starts “Dear Blogger” and I immediately hit the Junk mail button. Once again – don’t rush blogger relations just be personable. The articles that are written are usually bearable but not that insightful and I just see them as clogging up the Internet with bilge.

Questions could also be asked about Matt Cutts’ opinion or knowledge of guest posting as well as his broader agenda. Even high quality sites like The New York Times and The Guardian use freelance bloggers and it seems unlikely these media outlets would come under the same scrutiny as a nastily branded blog. I run a number of online magazines for clients and ourselves and as such have to organise writers all over the world but I don’t think we are about to be penalised because we do it properly, openly and clearly.

In the past, when Google has flagged something it doesn’t agree with or believe demonstrates bad practice, it is usually followed by the obligatory algorithm update. With this in mind it will be interesting to see how the search engine tackles guest posts, and whether a one-size-fits-all model is rolled out because I think this will be a challenge to get a search bot to ascertain the difference between a real blogger like me and Neville or a spam blog.

At Prohibition my team and I still advise our clients on delivering guest blogging programmes because if you do them properly, they are great at building relationships. I still believe that guest posting can establish a client as a thought leader in their prospective industry and as a blogger I still see blogging as the main hub of content most of the other channels are the spokes.

Even though they have an SEO benefit and may carry external links, guest blogs of high quality offer genuine value to a business, and to the reader. The trick here is to always add value, think quality not quantity and stop just going looking for links.

Photo Credit: jmoneyyyyyyy via Compfight cc