Tuesday, 8 December 2009

CSR awards

Good news! Our corporate website has just come 3rd in a survey published in PR Week by consultancy Lundquist in the last week, where they looked at the FTSE100 here in the UK. Each website was assessed using a set of 76 evaluation criteria, drawn up on the basis of a survey conducted by Lundquist of 184 CSR professionals and sector experts from 30 different countries.

Wednesday, 28 October 2009

The end of micro celeb?

Apparently, according to the press Lily Allen has given up all social media, and even given away her PC and Blackberry. Well, assuming this isn't just a publicity stunt by our Lil, what does it all mean to the future of social media as we know it?

Well, I'd suggest not a lot. The twitterverse is well served by random minor celebs posting what they had for lunch, or in Liz Taylor's case gushing uncontrollably about what shock awful film she's just been to see. Having one drop out really isn't going change that.

In fact, if anything it's a sign of maturity. I doubt Lil would have been so quick to drop social media if it had been giving her a decent return (trans. significant publicity) on her (trans. her publicist's) investment (trans. time keeping up to date with 17 year olds bombarding her with crap online).

So thanks Lily, you've just started to make my life a little easier. I can now point at you when I'm having discussions at work about "why are you using something like Twitter for something serious" and say "Well, that's great. They're leaving us to it, maybe it's a bit too serious to take lightly. Remember how that happened with websites? Remember how that happened with mobile phones??"

Tuesday, 6 October 2009

More about our use of social media

I gave an interview to Q4 about our use of Twitter and other social media in investor relations activities



Tuesday, 11 August 2009

Friday, 17 July 2009

Twitter, the new presswire

We've been having some issues in Shangai recently, and naturally our media relations and corporate comms teams have been carefully monitoring the situation through a variety of channels - most notably the more tradition media monitoring services provided by some of our agencies.

Most interesting in all of this, was how much quicker breaking news came through on Twitter. I use Tweetdeck here, and I've set up a number of searches on it - that means I was getting updates in realtime as I keep Tweetdeck running in background on my PC.

This really pays off, as you pick up the auto-tweet postings from many of the major newswires quicker than our media monitoring services were picking up the emails.

Not that I gloated, but to get breaking news from CNN or BBC news before our press team did made my day.

Twitter - coming to a ticker tape machine near you!

Tuesday, 23 June 2009

Habi-tweet. How not to use twitter.com

Poor Habitat. They've been caught spamming using hash tags in their tweets.

http://www.socialmediatoday.com/SMC/103334 have the story in it's full glory from SMT's website.

Quite what they (or their agency) thought they were doing is really anyone's guess. It's just one step short of trying to embed Google-friendly keywords in the HTML code on your site and hope that it comes up in a search....

And to just then delete your tweets and hope they get swept under the marketing rug isn't really quite good enough. Particularly when people have been so kind as to screenshot them.

I think my biggest concern on this whole story is the rather cavalier way that Habitat has treated a social media platform, and for a consumer facing brand these days that's a fairly major issue.

Wednesday, 1 April 2009

@guardian. Funny, no really, very funny

Apparently the Guardian newspaper is now only going to be available by Twitter.

And I quote...

Consolidating its position at the cutting edge of new media technology, the Guardian today announces that it will become the first newspaper in the world to be published exclusively via Twitter, the sensationally popular social networking service that has transformed online communication.

Fantastic story. And what a great day to publish it. Time to sit back and see how many social media consultants fall for it.

Tuesday, 31 March 2009

MA in social media, new course offered by Birmingham Uni

The Guardian reported on a new course being offered by Birmingham University - a Masters in social media.

I'm not sure quite how I feel about this to be honest. It's a £4,000, one year full time course. In social media. How on earth are you going to spend a whole academic year studying this stuff? And why are you going to spend £4K doing so? Add on your loss of earnings, and it comes out at a pretty expensive way to play with Twitter.

And you really need to ask what the real benefits of this course are going to be? They struggle even on the Birmingham Uni website, with the first thing they suggest you can do is "become a social media consultant". Which is just what the world needs, natch. Other suggestions include
"develop innovative and alternative media projects", or how about "contribute to the development of the social media industry". You can hear the straws being clutched...

And I'd like to see the field visits that they intend to make ("oh look everyone, here's someone updating their Facebook status in their bedroom").

Having said that, compared to some of the other (rather weird) courses on offer by other academic institutions, this seems almost mainstream. And who am I to tell someone how to spend their time and money.

So good luck to Birmingham for jumping on the gravy train as quickly as they did. Hope it works out for you.

Thursday, 5 March 2009


For those of us in the UK, undoubtedly one of the most irritating ads on telly at the moment is one for a car insurance comparison website, called CompareTheMarket.com It's fronted by a meerkat with a Russian accent, who complains about people getting confused with his site, CompareTheMeerkat.com.

"Meerkat, market, they are different things, no? Simples."

But it's a really clever use of social media tools - now our little Russian meerkat front man (who is called Aleksandr Orlov) now has his own Facebook page, (with >250K fans!) and is happily Twittering away. In broken English. To 6,880 followers, all of whom get a personal message when they join, and who appear to be in avid conversation with him on a fairly constant basis...

"Have a very happy birthday! Maybe celebrate with a piece of cake or a new cravat?"

...is a good example of his work - the tone and engagement with his followers is really spot on, and a good learning experience for anyone who want's to really get involved in this space, particularly on a b2c brand like this.

The agency behind this is VCCP, digital strategy by Amelia Torode, and details of their campaign can be found on their site here.


  1. use appropriate channels. Facebook and Twitter are great in a situation like this - they create an interaction that invites people into the brand and creates loyalty (not easy in the overcrammed somewhat scuzzy world of car insurance comparison sites!)
  2. use appropriate tone of voice. Anthropomorphosising car insurance into a Russian meerkat (now there's a sentence I'd never thought I would write!) allows soft selling of the product into a warm, receptive audience. Compare that with the Churchill or Admiral insurance products in the UK where they have tried something similar and just ended up being irritating!
  3. update your content as appropriate. There are only 2 TV ads at the moment - yet the Twitter channel gets attention daily, as does the Facebook page, to keep the audience engaged. Facebook seems to be updating itself at the moment, with fan videos and over 700 photos uploaded.
  4. don't be afraid to be a bit weird, and take risks. Facebook and Twitter can be risky, but your audience is much more forgiving - as with many social media environments they appreciate that it's a bit more informal, and you can get away with a lot more than you might otherwise do on your product/corporate website.


Wednesday, 4 March 2009

More on Ryanair and social media reputation comes from this post by Joanna Higgins on bnet.com.

As well as her take on the whole blogging response from the world's rudest airline, she reports on the Kaizo Advocacy Index, latest version released for Winter. They review online reputation, and measure 20 brands across 4 sectors - food, airline, software and mobile - against how they fair in social media platforms. Lots of talk here of the influence of both Twitter and Facebook (although I'm pretty sceptical about both to be honest).

There's an overview presentation below:

Useful reading before you buy a phone or travel on an airline. Or buy ERP software for millions (I wish our IS&T teams had read this....!)

This is similar to the work we do here at Rio Tinto on a monthly basis (service provided by the guys at Market Sentinel), and it's a useful weathervane on how the world is perceiving your communications efforts.

Monday, 2 March 2009

Ryanair and social media

Ah, Ryanair... donchya lovem?

First of all last week, there was the story about charging a pound to use their inflight toilets. Next, I came across this posting, from a web developer called Jason Roe. He posted on his blog about a bug he'd found in the Ryanair booking system. He then had the joy and pleasure of someone calling themselves "Ryanair staff" posting comments:

"...You didn’t actually discover a bug on bookryanair.You changed some numbers on your own screen tricking yourself into thinking that you could get a free flight, without actually succeeding.

Well known for years, and many others have tried it, ending up paying the full price for the flights after all.All good income for Ryanair..."

and my personal favorite:

"...If you would work in your pathetic life on a such big project in a such busy environment with so little resources, you would know that the most important is to have usual user behavior scenarios working rather than spending time on improbable and harmless things.

We very well know about these anomalies and unless it is not critical we are not going to sacrifice time to this.If you would be a serious programmer you would know these things and would not post any of this on the web if you would think it can cause us troubles, but you would report to us directly.Even you did not discover anything major you are still trying to benefit from this.

If I would be you I would think of consequences this can have..."

Now, apart from the really obvious things that are wrong (threatening a potential customer, being personal and vindictive etc etc), all of this pails into insignificance when it comes their official response to the issue:


"Stephen McNamara from Ryanair said:"Ryanair can confirm that a Ryanair staff member did engage in a blog discussion."It is Ryanair policy not to waste time and energy corresponding with idiot bloggers and Ryanair can confirm that it won't be happening again."Lunatic bloggers can have the blog sphere all to themselves as our people are far too busy driving down the cost of air travel".

I think those prophetic words of wisdom will come back to haunt, both Mr McNamara, and Ryanair's infamous cavalier attitude to the flying public.

Tuesday, 17 February 2009

Sorry, not been posting here for a while (family reasons).

Anyway, back again now.... and for everyone who believes the user generated content is a good thing, here's a great product review from Amazon.com - the Bic pen!


Remember, it's not always a good thing to take what complete strangers say as truthful or serious.