The first is with Martin Harrison, Senior Planner at HUGE Inc and here he tells us why people are arseholes, why PR should own social media and why you might be more useful to your firm handing out flyers than being on Facebook.
What got you into social media?
Enthusiasm and luck. I got told early on that I'd never get anywhere if I spent all day on the internet.
Who does it well - either as an individual or company?
Individuals and companies are wildly different.
Ben Goldacre is a case study in how to use and the potential of social media. Ploughing a lonely furrow with a single column in The Guardian, social media has allowed him to become immensely influential. He is the leader of a group of people that no one really knew existed before.
As a company, I think Threadless are the ultimate social business. They crowdsource, curate and share and all activities are so tightly bound up in their model that it wouldn't be Threadless without them. And they're not afraid to sell.
Is it for every business?
Yes. Like the telephone and fax are. You need to communicate, it's a communications channel. That said, businesses which treat people as commodities (Insurance companies, which basically look at people as risk profiles) have difficult time because their culture is about dehumanisation.
Is there a lot of snake oil about over social media?
Unfortunately, it's 99% snake oil. I am delighted my title no longer has "social media" in it, because people were starting to laugh openly when I told them what it was. It's a shame, because for organisations that are culturally and strategically placed to use it, it can be a game changer.
There’s an old argument that PR/marketing/advertising should own social media - should any of them?
PR should own it. Someday, they'll wake up and realise that. Until then, we can all sup at the table. I don't buy the "it transcends all disciplines" line – you could apply that to any aspect of marketing.
Why is there such a fear over traditional ROI? Surely it’s the best metric to be using?
Why is there fear? Because the ROI is mostly shit. When you factor in how resource intensive Social Media is and then attempt to relate it back to a return it's generally horrendous. Is it "the best" metric to use? It's certainly a metric but your KPI's should be focussed on your intentions. So if your Social Media efforts are mostly about customer service it might not be as relevant.
What are your favourite social media sites?
Instagram, Twitter, Reddit, YouTube.
In your eyes, what’s the biggest barrier to adoption of social media? And how would you tell people/firms to overcome this?
Just one? Fear of looking silly. How to get over that? If I knew that, I'd be a lot more useful to humanity than I am now.
If you had to choose one platform - for you personally - what would it be and why?
Instagram. I can express the happy, positive, joyful side of me without embarrassment.
What’s the can’t live without App on your Smartphone (and what make is the phone)?
iPhone – Instagram. See above.
What’s the must-have Apps on your tablet (and, again, what make is it)?
I don't have a tablet!
What motivates you when you’re down/seeking creativity - what’s the one thing that gets the brain going when you have to dig deep?
Given that the way most social media institutions - Facebook, Google, Twitter - are making their money is through the most traditional of ways - advertising - is this a failure of thinking? Surely if social media is such a paradigm shift, we wouldn’t be relying on advertising just like we have done since 1955?
It's difficult to accuse three of the most successful companies in the world of a failure of thinking. I'd also argue that a lot of their value (if not income) comes from selling a dream about what the world might be rather than what it is, which is an impressive feat to pull off.
Is social media a paradigm shift? Really? Does the world feel that different to most people than it did ten years ago? Is showing people cute pictures radically new behaviour?
Advertising, by the way, is a good thing. We live in consumer societies, where people are free to choose what they buy based on the information available to them.
Advertising is how that information gets to them. It's of value to the advertiser so the medium can charge accordingly. If you can find other ways to make money, all well and good but there's nothing wrong with advertising.
Should the phrase “social media” be abolished as there is so much to it - it can be linkbuilding, community engagement, community building, sales, SEO, blogging, gathering and seeding visual information - should we be at a stage now where people get to specify what part of this their talents lie in?
I think that's a bit like asking if the phrase "surgery" should be abolished.
Companies seem to be concentrating their efforts on Facebook - is this a dangerous move?
Not really. If Facebook dies, something else will come along instead. It's currently the most business friendly, has the largest reach, has global scale and is actively courting businesses. I'd say it's better to do one thing well than 5 things badly. Bear in mind that most companies' investment in Facebook will be negligible in the greater scheme of things. If it isn't, that's a bit silly.
A huge element of social media seems to be based around customer satisfaction but should companies - and customers - accept that you won’t always get it your own way?
People are arseholes. Some of them run companies, some of them buy stuff from companies.
I've always thought Michael O'Leary is a magnificent brand builder. I've been reading for years now how his attitude to customer service means that he'll go out of business. Yet he nearly bought Aer Lingus. He has a strong, clear proposition that he relentlessly reinforces. People buy it.
There's more than one way to run a business. Customer service can be a differentiator but it's nowhere near as important as we like to think.
Where do you see social media being in five years time?
I have literally no idea and I wouldn't like to guess.
For those thinking of getting into social media, any tips or pointers?
Don't believe the hype. Talk to real people. Observe what people DO, not what they could do. Be immensely skeptical. Understand what your value to the organisation could be. Ask yourself if you would be better off handing out leaflets for them. Ask yourself if you could prove that.
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