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Grandma DJOnce upon a time, as testified by the mighty Kevin and Perry’s Go large, rave was all the rage. Glow sticks and whistles were actually very cool, and if you whoop-whoop’ed in a club, that was just ‘wicked’. Now, such behaviour is not wicked at all, it’s not even cosmic. Doing running man and saying ‘Mad for it’ in anything but jest and you can expect a swifty backhander.

You can still find a genuine, old school rave scene in certain more isolated pockets of the UK, for example those regions where the mullet is still fairly commonly seen in a phoenix nights style, local pub accommodating a few sheltered but very serious old school ravers with nowhere else to go. Think, Ayai Napa, Blackpool, most of Slough .. However if you are part of the new school cool which rightfully we all feel we are, you would rather eat your own head then be seen in such a place.

Here in the capital, newly launched, trendy nightclubs and cocktail bars probably have a lifespan of less than 6 months of celebrity spotlight before the heat reader crowd descend, complete with the tank top and chino wearer’s in tow, meaning you are compelled to move on if you want to be on the pulse of the next great thing and disassociate yourself from all those other ‘mainstream losers’. Heaven forbid you get caught in the same club as your grandma, no one wants to see your Grandma do the robot – your reputation would be ruined.

These bars and clubs generally tend to disappear in time, upstaged by better, trendier places or copy cats who rip off the edge our club once had to cannibalise your crowds. The length of their existence correlating with the gravity of their deviation from the boring, mainstream norm at their point of launch. This is what I like to call the nightclub effect. Something I heard on Jason Calacanis TWIST show on the episode featuring Gabriel Weinberg of DuckDuckGo.com, in specific reference to social media and email.

In his guest Tyler Crowley’s view, echoed by myself, Facebook has become no more than a platform for commenting on status updates. Using the nightclub analogy, Tyler feels social media has reached the point where the Grandmas (or in my case mother in laws) are now in the Facebook club. Recent research from Pew Internet found that between April 2009 and May 2010 social networking grew in the 65 and older group by 100%! Read more about this on mashable.com. Personally I love Facebook, but I haven’t checked it for months because it has lost the appeal it once had for regular visits. So we’ve travelled past the bell curve where early adopters are those buzzing around the channel and now we have technology laggards aplenty diluting its appeal. So what club is beyond social media? It’s hard to conceive there will be another layer of communication more far reaching than social media, so you want to head back to where there is a higher quality interaction, which interestingly in Tyler’s view was email. Although, if we’ve been in the email club before then how can this retro view resonate? Perhaps the edge the email club has is that it isn’t what it used to be. The bouncers are bigger than before and have been specifically tasked to only let the very coolest, charismatic people in. We’ve even removed the sawdust from the floor and replaced rusty speakers with a vodka luge. You’re welcome of course, just don’t bring your break dancing Grandma.

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FlowersMy sister recently got married.  It was a gorgeous day: sunny, beautiful venue, stunning bride, dashing Naval Officer husband and groomsmen, verrrrry stylish bridesmaids (well, apart from me who was 6 months pregnant at the time and ever so slightly rotund in a very snug dress!) and the champagne flowed.  The photographers snapped away in the background, and – as all good wedding photographers should be – we didn’t even notice that they were there!

However it was the process of sharing the stunning snaps after the big day that impressed me so much.  I only got married 5 years ago, but I was struck how much things had moved on in terms of showing off the proofs and circulating the photos, post-wedding.  In ‘my day’ (circa 2005), we met the photographer (word of mouth), he took the snaps on the day, we met him afterwards and showed us the proofs, we chose which ones we wanted, he gave us a set of colour and black and white prints, plus a CD of the set, and off we trotted to choose which ones would adorn our fireplace/mantelpiece/sent to the family.  Job done.

My sister’s wedding photo experience was entirely different!

Firstly they found their photographers through a long and extensive search online, checking recommendations and web reviews, reading their blog, checking out their portfolio online and basically doing thorough research.  The photographers were booked, then turned up at the bride-to-be’s house as we were all getting ready in the morning, spent the entire day snapping away discreetly, and off they went well into the evening festivities.

The new Mr and Mrs Phillips were then – in less than a week! – sent a sneaky peak of some of the better shots from the day, via email, as a little teaser. The photographers told Hannah specifically that these were the shots to put on Facebook before too many amateur shots are tagged of them to ensure the newlyweds were able to showcase some amazing photos to their friends and family.  Of course the shots were subsequently forwarded via email to close friends and family to enjoy, shared on Facebook and generally admired by all their internet-savvy mates.  (And WOW were they worth sharing!)

The following week (and we’re talking less than two weeks after the wedding day), the photographers had put a simply stunning montage of ‘part one’ of the wedding onto their blog site (I know I’m biased but I have to say they are some of the best wedding photos I’ve ever seen).  The link was duly emailed around between friends and family and – again – shared on Facebook for all and sundry to enjoy.  The blog received loads of hits and comments from proud rellies and friends, and the photographers were able to gather a huge amount of glowing testimonials for the fabulous piccies.  An invaluable way of the photographers gathering feedback from both clients and their friends.

Blog posts ‘part two’ and ‘part three’ were shared in the following week, and less than 6 weeks after the wedding took place, all of the photos were posted onto a secure part of their website, password protected of course, and the bride and groom were able to share the link – via email of course  – with their guests.  In turn, the guests could send a link, again via email, of any of the shots to their own friends and family to encourage them to buy the photos.  Amazing!  So amazing that another sister of mine has booked them for her wedding later this year.  How’s that for a recommendation?

This is such a far cry from the process my photographer went through for our wedding just 5 short years ago.  I can’t imagine how much things will have developed in the next 5 years, exciting times indeed.

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influence projectA Study by agency 360i indicates that the majority of Twitter conversation is between consumers and that Corporate Twitter seems to be directed at the Consumer rather than with the Consumer.

According to the study, only 12% of consumer tweets mention a brand by name. When they do refer to a brand, consumers are sharing news or information about the brand (43%) or reporting use of or interaction with the brand (35%). Hold on..what do you mean ONLY 12% of consumer Tweets mention a brand name? Are you telling me that  brands would be unhappy if in the physical world over 1 in 10 conversations mentioned a product?

But of course the real failing is in the idea that again Brands are not engaging in a dialogue but in a monologue – ‘’Most conversations are simply monologues delivered in the presence of a witness’’….Margaret Millar. This does seem to hark back to an era when TV and Print indulged in ‘Interruption Marketing’, talked about in great detail over a decade ago by Seth Godin in his book Permission Marketing. And of course even the early days of email marketing followed a dose of ‘Spray and Pray’ communications.

We all know these days its much more about the conversation and the idea of spreading influence through peers and contacts. I came across a very interesting form of this influence spreading by the Fast Company. They essentially wanted to created a viral campaign to find the person with the most Online Influence in 2010 – The Influence Project. They do this by a very crude method of making you feel more of a mover and shaker by getting people to click on your personal url . And yes that was mine. And they have effectively used this to get a degree of awareness out there about their magazine.

Perhaps more importantly, as I type, they have acquired something in the region of 25,000 email addresses. Hopefully they won’t abuse that privilege, and so have used a very ‘social’ need of many people ( i.e. to perhaps to have their 15 minutes of fame) to potentially start a conversation with them in the future and indeed have already created millions of google searches ,tweets, emails, facebook mentions. 100% of which have mentioned the Brand.

Oh, now that I can think about it, 1 in 12 does seem low.

Ps…I am currently ranked 422..please make me famous

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Face book dislike buttonIs the hype over? Obviously it will not be over that fast and Facebook will very likely continue to face growth rates but these new stats tell me that they might be losing a key target group to build up into a lifelong customer.  Another new study shows that customers are becoming increasing dissatisfied with the social network due to their recent privacy issues,   click here to read more from Meghan Keane on the Econsultancy blog.

If Facebook loses a key audience how will they recover? Is it likely that us as grandparents will be telling each other via Facebook who passed away and who got new grand children? Personally I doubt that but there is silver surfer potential.  Maybe Facebook will need new features that our tech savvy youth will pick up again?  Or they will look to concentrate on a new target audience with features focused at higher income brackets?

We’re all well aware that they are still flying, as more than ever log into Facebook on a daily basis and membership is now exceeding 500million.  But the Facebook Executives can’t fail to notice that something needs to be done – and fast – if they’re to get themselves out of the bottom 5% in the customer satisfaction survey.

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Hand coming out of the computer with mail.I’m a massive advocate of Linkedin. What a great way to connect with relevant communities, self promote and check out the merits of potential clients, recruits and colleagues. As a ‘social media’ platform, it’s by far my favourite. Want to gauge the health of a competitor or industry? You can find out by checking employee turnover on Linkedin. Need someone who knows about printing? Up pop two or three colleagues of old who now work in printing. Need a professional network but too shy to invest in a £60k MBA or 5 years at Oxbridge? Join Linkedin. The list goes on, and I haven’t even got started on the nosey factor! Matt Owen from Econsultancy looks at businesses attempting to drive engagement across social networks like Linkedin in this blog post Who owns your social media?

Embracing this amazing new business tool, like many I duly signed up, filled in my profile (100% no less) and even got a few ‘would recommend him in a heartbeat’ recommendations, in exchange for a few ‘what an amazing guy’ recommendations from myself. “No you’re the best, No you are …!”

Believing my latest recommendation to be entirely true, and not being the type to feel like he’s missing out I also signed up to a few of those ‘must connect’ groups, calculating that anything with ‘email’ or ‘lead generation’ in the title is probably a good place to start, and for investigative purposes only selected the top ten busiest looking groups relevant to me. I ascertained that this way I will be better informed who the industry movers and shakers are, what the topics of conversation are and best of all forever be seen as on the pulse of my industry. Ergo, I am therefore a progressive, game changing industry mover and shaker and will have to request more recommendations from my new found industry connections first thing tomorrow.

It did seem a bit too good to be true, and somewhat unsurprisingly, I arrived the following morning to an overloaded Linkedin group folder in my outlook. That’s ok (tolerance threshold mildly irritated), I signed up to a few after all. But to my dismay (tolerance now blown), following 20 minutes of spam sifting in that oh-so-familiar way seen with the establishment of email, Linkedin has become a haven for unsolicited trash being sent without proper control or respect for recipients. The vast majority of email alerts I checked within groups took the form of;

  • I’m selling some product or service
  • I’m spamming you in an indirect effort to sell some product or service
  • I’m writing to enter discussion whilst thinly disguising my product or service, which I’m actually selling in an unsolicited, spammy way

None of these were what I signed up for, which led to a sinking feeling of déjà vous. This then led to the dejected conclusion that it was highly unlikely that anyone was actually engaging in discussion for the benefit of the groups as I’d hoped. In fact, silly me, with the inevitability that night follows day, this form of communication has followed much the same path we’ve seen with many online media channels. The gold rush of an exciting new media platform created by a few early winners, snowballs into the subsequent come-one-come-all mushroom of exuberance, leading to the eventual incessant dilution of any value to all save the most spam tolerant. A new channel is a fertile ground for all players and what follows is the painful process of learning how to harness healthy practises fuelled by diminishing protagonist value and the backlash of the brow-beaten exploited.

So although I still remain a fan of social media platforms like Linkedin, this exercise re-emphasised the cyclical effects seen in all media channels, the extremes of which are no better illustrated than in digital media. Just as in the email industry, natural selection hastens the removal of poor contributors either through legislation/cultural rejection (also seen recently in Twitter where self promoters are increasingly snubbed) allowing for the emergence of better practices which are more palatable to the consumer. As we have seen within email, consumer acceptance re-emerges when the trust is rebuilt and the unscrupulous are shackled.  This is what we should all be focusing on take Stephanie Miller tips on how to connect email, social and eCRM. So email marketing can be the template for Social media platforms like Linkedin to follow. Ben and Jerry’s take note.

Stephanie Miller highlights how to connect Email, Social and eCRM

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Email working with social.I’ve written recently on a variety of sites about the life that is still left in email marketing – (see for example Social Penguin). With the variety of marketing channels that marketers have to contend with to reach the customer’s ear, are we missing a trick with the importance of the email address?

J-P De Clerk talks about email being his ‘interaction hub’. ”Skype sends me a mail when I missed a call or when someone left a message. Twitter does when someone sent me a DM. Facebook sends me emails when I received an invitation to be “friends” or a mail. LinkedIn friendship requests and group updates: it’s all in the inbox. FriendFeed connections: inbox. StumbleUpon messages, Digg friends, YouTube subscribers, Delicious, comments on my blogs, statistics, social media engagement data: it’s all coming via email. No wonder my email client is my RSS reader as well.”

A Clickz article talks about how the inbox is destined to become the personal dashboard of many

”The integration of social, mobile and e-mail has already begun to settle inside the inbox. Gmail lets me update my status on Facebook, send a tweet, update my blog, and write an e-mail to my mom – all from the same interface. Yahoo integrates with IM and its “What’s New” tab shows status updates from a wide variety of services. Even a beta version of Outlook 2010 integrates social networking. Facebook and MySpace have announced plans to provide primary inboxes as part of their communities. All of this is now accessible everywhere from PCs to iPads to smartphones.”

Even my own blog and Twitter accounts supply me with news about individuals interested in my thoughts.

Jonathan Macdonald of This Fluid World spoke with great engagement at the eCircle conference in Munich about the focus on the individual or citizen as he put it and that focus does need to include an understanding how they lives around using the technology of today

It seems that we are witnessing a real opportunity for the email address to be the key to the many disparate and yet connected channels that today’s consumer (for want of a better word because being a consumer is just one of the mind sets individuals can be in at any one time) logs in and out of repeatedly and frequently during their day (and indeed night).

Client marketers or their communications agencies can create a master key to each of these channels, and use that in conjunction of a better understanding of a ‘consumer’s’ mind set and the channel they are using at that point to ensure that not only the right message is sent at the right time, but also though the right medium.

Of course there are many challenges on the way – such as multiple email addresses, privacy issue and obviously understanding our customers or potential customers better.

But then Rome wasn’t built in a day

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I was lucky enough to attend the Email Experience Council’s Email Evolution Conference in Miami last week (it rained) and was extremely interested to see what our friends Stateside had to say about this industry we all know and love.  I’m not sure what I was expecting to be honest, but one thing was glaringly clear: us Brits are most definitely holding our own and it was extremely comforting to see that, actually, we’re doing OK. 

I attended a presentation entitled ‘Social Relationship Marketing: New Building Blocks for 21st Century Brands’ with a panel from RAPP North America, Publicis Modem and Bank of America. And as you’d expect from the title, the session was all about understanding where dialogues (or should I say dialogs?) are happening, how companies are reacting and interacting with our brands and the provision of tools which will enable our clients and prospects to engage with us.  In short, it was about providing relevance and value.  All very interesting of course.  But one phrase kept on cropping up: Tribes.

I am, like most marketing bloggers, an avid reader of Seth Godin’s blog and was of course aware of his Tribes book and free Tribes Ebook, but I wasn’t aware that the phrase had entered into our marketing vocabulary quite so prolifically, at least in the USA. I acknowledge that it’s highly possible that I might have just been sitting in my own little bubble, but somehow this phrase (in this context at least) has basically passed me by.  So I decided to do a little research into the definition and reassuringly most of the stuff I found was a) generated from the USA and b) only written in 2009. When I asked my colleagues whether they had heard of the word used in this way, they looked as baffled as me.  Phew.  So, as the saying goes, we’re divided by a common language from our lovely American cousins.

What does it mean?  Basically according to Mr Godin (see video below), the internet has ended mass marketing (which obviously isn’t a new idea in itself) and has revived a human social unit from the distant past: tribes. We’re supposed to nurture and grow our own tribes, creating products and services that will continually delight said ‘tribes’.  In a nutshell, from what I can understand, tribe marketing is highly targeted marketing to specific social groups.  A tribe is a group of people, connected to each other AND a vision or an idea.

For millions of years, humans have joined tribes, be it religious, cultural, political, ethnic… the list goes on.   Before the internet, leading a tribe was practically impossible but nowadays, communication is free, easy and global.  With email, Twitter, Facebook, blogs and all the other tools at our fingertips, all it takes is a shared interest for us all to become part of a movement…a tribe. 

Shhh don’t tell anyone but a small part of me just thinks why use the word ‘tribe’ when ‘group’ works just as well?  However, whilst I can’t see us Europeans adopting this phrase as quickly as our friends over the pond, it has really made me think. What are your thoughts?  Can you see us talking about our ‘tribes’ in the near future?

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