Social Web continue to grow – the companies follows – without beeing social?


Check out the new stats and infographic from Search Enginge Journal. The web is getting more and more social. Rapidly. No wonder… after all we’re human beings who are pretty much social, right? Numbers of users and contributors are just booming. And companies are following.

But what’s their socializing status? Really? God knows.

71% of the companies (which?) are using Facebook, 59% are using Twitter, and 39% are using blogs in their “marketing”.

My experience though is that many of the companies are still using social media as another channel for their content. Take a look at their Facebook pages for an example. Some of the companies are just pushing their stories out, without listen, and then they’re counting the numbers of “likes” without answer the questions: Am I really committed to my audience? Am I engaged? Who is really engaged? If the likers never comment the companies updates or never contribute with anything to the wall. And vice versa… what’s left of the social part?

Let me refer to what Kevin Roberts, CEO World wide, Saatchi & Saatchi, says in his book “Lovemarks“:

“Forget the information Economy. Human attention has become our principal currency. Job number one for any marketer these days is competing for attention. Whoever you are. Wherever you are. But once you’ve captured that attention, you’ve got to show you deserve it.

The process really only has two steps – so why does everyone find it so hard? I think I’ts all because we obsess over the attention part and forget about why we need that attention in the first place…. We need the relationships.

Emotional connections with consumers have to be att the foundation of all our cool marketing moves and innovative tactics.So it’s time to stop racing after every new fad and focus on making consistent, emotional connections with customer and stakeholders. If you stand for nothing, you fall for everything.

The great journey from products to trademarks and from trademarks to brands is over. Trademarks are tablestakes. Brand are tablestakes. Both are useful in the quest for differentation and vital to survival, BUT they’re not winning game-breakers.

Today the stakes have reached a new high. The social fabric is spread more thinly than ever. People are looking for new, emotional connections. They’re looking for what they can love.”

The company’s social graph – and how to benefit from it


I had a inspiring session during the Sweden Social Web Camp (SSWC) at Tjärö a few weeks ago. We were ca 50 social media evangelists that did discuss what ever a company has a social graph or not? And if it does exist; how does it look like, and how can the company use it?

At least my conclusion was that I don’t think the company itself nor the brand itself has a social graph. Because a brand is not a human being. Anyone may be connected to, and even have relations with brands but not social relations. Because you got to be human to socialize. But your brand is a social object and your products as well. Because people are talking about them. Some are more engaged than others, and some more angry than others. But people are sharing their thoughts about your brand. And I guess the sum of these people, that have your company (and/or your brand) as a social object, are the same thing as the company’s social graph, or at least the sum of the parts of their social graphs that are related or relevant to the company and/or their brand. We’re talking about the company’s employees, customers, stakeholders, and others.

Further on – if that’s the case – I do think the company can use and cultivate that kind of a social graph – with an extreme outcome. I’ll tell you why and how further down in this post. But first – let’s take it from the beginning:

We’re all human beings, right? We’re people. And people are social. We group ourselves into social networks, and talking to each other about different kind of social objects, and engage ourselves in communities.

It doesn’t matter if we’re consumers, suppliers, communicators or journalists. We all got to understand how we socialize, which is “the process of inheriting and disseminating norms, customs and ideologies through conversations, behaviors, practices, rituals and education”…. that “provide the individual with the skills and habits necessary for participating within their own society”.

A network is just elements connected to each other. But social network is individuals connected to each other.

And the Social Object is “the node” in these social networks. The Social Object is the reason why two people are talking to each other, as opposed to talking to somebody else.

And a group of individuals that have these social objects in common and share these interests with each other – are members of a community. Everyone on this planet is a member of a community, I guess?

Then Mark Zuckerberg took a part of this social environment to the web, and more or less invented the term “Social Graph” which describes the relationships between individuals online. Frankly it’s the global mapping of everybody and how they’re related.

My experiences are that companies and their marketing staff intellectually do understand the situation, and are in some sort of consideration phase, but that they are truly stressed about this “social graph” and the relationship-humbo-jumbo talk.

But if we do agree that “the sum of the people, that have your company (and/or your brand) as a social object, are the same thing as the company’s social graph, or at least the sum of the parts of their social graphs that are related or relevant to the company and/or their brand”. Then it wouldn’t be to hard for the company to benefit from this social environment. Let me give you a few examples what you as a communicator can do:

  1. Identify who’s connected to your brand.
  2. Find out if your brand is a social object (with sub subjects), and if that might have resulted in different kind of communities.
  3. Find out how these communities look like.
    1. Who are members.
    2. What exactly are they talking about.
  4. Become a member by yourself and serve the other members in these communities.
  5. Inspire those who are only connected to your brand but not talking about it, to become members and engage, the company’s employees in particular.
  6. Help these communities to grow and flourish as a whole.

I think for an example these guys (and organizations) might be connected to your brand, among many others:

  • Employees (and former employees)
  • Members of the Board
  • Owners
  • Customers (and former customers)
  • Supppliers
  • Retailers
  • Partners
  • Industry spokesmen and thought leaders
  • Industry colleagues
  • Competitors
  • Ambassadors
  • Journalists

They know your company. And they are all connected. And they all are important to you. But that doesn’t mean they are talking to each other nor with you or your staff about your brand. They might only be connected. They might be connected to your brand and talking to each other about it, but not with you and your staff. They might be connected to your brand, yourself and your staff as well, but not talking about it with anyone. Or they might be both connected to your brand, yourself and your staff, and talking about it with everyone.

These ones who are talking about your brand, have for sure different kind of needs and wants. And they probably talking about that specific angle of your brand in different kind of forum, in different sub communities.

No matter what group they belong, they all can be a member of these communities that talking about your brand.

Can your company own a such communities? Probably not. You can’t own a social object. You can’t even own your brand as a social object. They all are parts of the social environment!

But you can help an existing community to grow and flourish. Especially the ones who are connected to your brand.

You can be a proud member of the existing ones. You can invite other peoples to the existing ones. You can also set up “your own” (another) forum for an existing community to help it grow. And you can call that “your community” if you like. Just because that’s the community you’re involved in, or created a new forum for (as the owner / administrator).

But a community is boundless. Some of the members can easily pop up somewhere else, and the rest of the members will follow.

If you’re interested in this topic, please read “Your company has a social graph” as well.

When did you pitch a friend lately?


I really dislike the word “pitch” in the context of PR. To such a degree that I might soon escape from the the entire PR business. And I’ve got almost the same feeling for the phrase “target group”. But – still – this is precisely the phrases that are some of the most frequently used in this business. And I’m truly shocked about that.


According to Wikipedia – the pitch is a part of “selling technique”; it is “a line of talk that attempts to persuade someone or something, with a planned sales presentation strategy of a product or service designed to initiate and close a sale of the product or service.” In the PR business we’re seldom dealing with products and services but the more information.

Oh, yes, I do understand we all would like to tell boastful stories that’s important for us, to the people that are valuable for us as influential people. Therefore we’re trying to “pitch” our story to these people we use to call “target group”.

But – hey – PR’s is all about relations, because excellent relations will give us great outcome, right? And I thought we’ve learned that it’s quite impossible to establish good relations with your audience by persuading? I thought PR was all about listening, understanding and serving? Focus shouldn’t be what we would like to say, but what we think they would like to hear.

And, from my point of view, it doesn’t matter if your audience is your customers or journalists. They need more or less the same approach in this matter. Everybody does.

I had a small chat with a marketer recently. She asked me: “What would you do with these new people that recently started to follow us (our business, news stream) as followers?

I said: “I think you should treat them in the same way in the virtual space as you would do in the physical space: Get to know them better! Try to figure out their needs and wants. Imagine you have a breakfast seminar and a guy showed up as a registered participant. What would you say to this guy? I would say: “Welcome! I’m so glad you could come. You’re journalist, right? (Listen to his answer) Interesting… What can I do for you? (Listen to his answer)… And so on. When you come to know him better, treat him as a friend. Serve him. Because I don’t think you look at your friends as “target groups” and I don’t think you’re trying to pitch them either?”

It makes me think of when I use to ask communicators who did visit their newsrooms. Guess what? They don’t know! They don’t even know how many they are. Think about that for awhile. If your newsroom was your breakfast seminar, you might would have a great breakfast, excellent speakers, informative whitepapers, etc – but you wouldn’t know who’s been there, and how many they were. You was not even there yourself!

But – as mentioned – pitching and target groups talk, is still hot topic in many discussions in different kind of PR groups in various of social networks. Within a couple of PR professional groups on LinkedIn, there are questions like:

“E-MAIL PITCHING: Given journalists’ overcrowded inboxes, does e-mail pitching work anymore? What are your secrets to achieving success with e-mail pitches?” and “Age-old PR dilemma … contact media by phone first or by email first….”

These discussions is all about how to pitch, not if you should pitch at all.

As an answer on the second question above; most of the members did say they use to pitch journalist by phone, or at least follow up their email pitches by phone. Only one of the answers came from a journalist, who said: “Email please…And don’t call to see if the writer got the email. If every pr person called to followup on every news release we would never have time to write a story!”

A couple of days after I’ve been following these discussions, I read an article (in swedish) by a journalist and friend of mine, who said:

“I have come to hate the phone. Not its functions, but it’s ringing and disturbing features.”

Jerry Silfwer, a PR consultant, but also a blogger, just wrote a post: “How not to pitch”. He says:

“Don’t be afraid to pitch me. Please do, I don’t mind. But make sure you email me as an individual and make sure that you’re not blasting me as a part of some obscure list somewhere.”

He gives us some examples what a pitcher forgot regarding av really bad pitch he got earlier:

  • What’s in it for me as a PR blogger? I need to be told that clearly.
  • Browsing your case studies is not a reward for anyone but your company.
  • Clarity. Why pitch me to participate (note: the pitch was regarding a survey) but not to blog about it?
  • How did you get hold of my address? In what email list am I in right now?
  • I have hundreds of other emails calling out for my attention. Why should I bother about this, when it isn’t even a personal email?
  • Don’t be so sure that 5-10 minutes is short for me and don’t thank me for participating before I’ve participated (note: the pitch said: “It only takes about 5-10 minutes to complete…”)

Honestly – I don’t think Jerry would like pitches as he says; I think he would like to be understood, treated with respect and served with great ideas for stories, but not as one of the target group. And from my point of view – that’s not a pitch.

Before you plan to start a community – think twice.


Funny. Or tragic? It happens all the time. Still. People is asking me to explain for them how to build a community.
Guess what? I use to answer like Mark Zuckerberg did when Rupert Murdoch asked: “How can we build such a great community like Facebook?” And Mark said: “You can’t.”

Ever since I’ve been inspired of Marks remarkable statements (and of course his work in particular). And in this case – he’s spot on. Of course you can’t.

Yesterday I got following mail from a friend – a smart guy that I do respect a lot:

“Hello!
Hope you’re doing well. I wonder if you can point me “right direction”.
I’m looking for a white paper, or person who can explain “how to think” of Facebook as a community. It’s simply about an idea involving XXX (which has a fairly significant facebook presence) and a twist on the community that I intend to try to YYY.
Any thoughts / ideas?”

I did answer:

“Hmm … sounds a bit vague to me. And I’m not sure what you mean, but I do believe that a “community” has nothing to do with the platform. A community is people who share a common cause. Who’s interested in or otherwise engaged in a common subject. Facebook is only a platform that might get communities to germinate and grow. Certainly a damn good platform. Try to catch and understand the engagement first.”

And after I’ve sent the reply, I was reminded of the blog post “Who owns community?” by Nick Tadd, that I read a year ago. I found it, and where he wrote among others things:

“You see, what I have learned from founding the Property Tribes forum, is that you cannot build a community.  Why?  Because it’s already there – you can’t build anything that was not yours in the first place. What you can do, however, is provide a platform and facilitate people using the site to have an enjoyable and rewarding experience. You can help them feel connected, you can help them feel valued, you can help them learn, you can help them feel that they “belong”, you can provide a space where they feel comfortable and among friends. Then let them run with it.  Let them make the community what they want it to be, not what you want it to be.”

He concludes his post with an conclusion:

“You cannot buy community and you cannot sell community.  If you are creating all the content yourself, and asking people to subscribe to that content, then that is a completely different business model and will not create community.  It’s also very hard work and time-consuming.”

And give us a few tips how to help people to organize themselves:

  1. Engage.
  2. Contribute.
  3. Pay attention.
  4. Let the community know they are valued.
  5. Connect people to each other.
  6. It’s about them, not you.
  7. Share.
  8. Don’t try and compete with your members.
  9. Be social.
  10. Be a friend.  Care.
  11. Don’t police or “moderate” the forum unless absolutely necessary.  The community will do that in their own way.
  12. Facilitate trust within the community.
  13. Understand that a community cannot be all things to all people.
  14. Celebrate the heroes in the community.
  15. Try and lead by example.
  16. Show respect.
  17. Believe in,  and encourage,  the wisdom of crowds.
  18. Enjoy it.
  19. Never stop trying to make it a better place for a community to organise itself – what ever your niche

So before you plan to start a community – think twice.

Communication a huge and confusing melting pot


Everybody in communication business talks about it everywhere! The new and ever-changing communication landscape has turned the media industry on its head. The confusion is now complete. Much of what we have learned and become accustomed to is no longer valid. This applies particularly to media, journalism, public relations, marketing, and sales. The professionals within each of these fields are either desperately holding on to their old identities, or are groping around for new ones.

The role of journalists is questioned. Previously clear concepts such as “journalist” and “journalism” have become blurred. The same goes for “media”. What is a media today? And “PR” … what is PR? It’s obviously something else today than it was yesterday. And what about “marketing”…

“Markets (and marketing) are conversations” as the Cluetrain Manifesto puts it. Conversations are based on relationships. Just like PR. Because PR’s is all about relationships, right? It’s all about relationships with both the market and those who influence it, including journalists. However, since all consumers now have access to almost exactly the same “tools” and methods as traditional journalists, it seems like the market has in some way also become the journalists. The market represents a long tail of new journalism and new media that perhaps has the greatest influence on a company’s market and might perhaps be their key opinion leaders. “Put the public back to public relations!” as Brian Solis put it long ago.

People have started to talk to each other in social media at the expense of, or sometimes in tune with, traditional media. They’re no longer writing letters to editors. They would rather publish their news ideas directly on the Web. Media consumption, and production, publishing, packaging and distribution in particular, have rapidly moved in to the social web. And both the PR and Marketing communicators are following, or are at least gradually beginning to do so.

As the market moved to the web, and the web has become social, marketing communication has become “social” too. Companies have started to talk directly with their market. And I mean “talk”, not pushing out information. Campaigns with no social component become fewer and fewer. “Monologue” ad banners, with decreasing CTR and increasing CPC, are becoming less acceptable. Google revolutionized with Adwords, Adsense and PPC. Press releases written by former journalists synchronized with Adwords and presented as text ads, turned things upside down.

Aftonbladet has been very successful with advertorials where only a small ad-mark distinguishes the ad from an article produced by journalists. This method is about as successful – and deceptive – as “product placement” in TV and film. That method has gone from small product elements in parts of a program to a complete sellout of the entire series or film. (In Sweden, think Channel 5’s Room Service and TV4’s Sick Sack.) But what can the television business do when the consumer just fast-forwards past the commercials, or worse still, prefers looking at user-generated TV like YouTube?

What will newspapers do when consumers ignore their banners? They will convert advertising into editorials. Or vice versa: they will charge for editorial features and charge companies to publish content on their platform, without involving any “investigative” journalism.

IDG calls their version of this “Vendor’s Voice”, a medium where companies publish their “editorial material” (it used to be called press information) directly on IDG.se and its related websites. The service is conceived and hosted by Mynewsdesk. It works pretty much like the Apple App Store; it is possible for any media to set up their “channel” (the media) on Mynewsdesk, promote it, and put a price on its use.

Essentially, when companies publish their information in their own newsrooms via Mynewsdesk, they can also easily select any relevant channels for the information in question. The service still has the internal working title “Sponsored Stories”, which today may seem a little funny when that is the exact same name Facebook uses for its new advertising program, where a company pays for people in its network to share information about that company with their own friends.

Isn’t that pretty much what PR communicators strive for? It’s in the form of an ad, but this type of advertising is simply bought communication – just like some PR seems to be – with the purpose to “create attention around ideas, goods and services, as well as affect and change people’s opinions, values or actions…”

But the press release… That’s information for the press, right? Or is it information that is now a commodity, often published in the media, directly and unabridged, much like the “sponsored stories”? Maybe it is information that can reach anyone that might find this information relevant. They might not be the press, but they are at least some kind of journalist, in the sense that they publish their own stories, often in same media as “real” journalists, in platforms created for user-generated content.

Everything goes round and round: side by side are readers, companies and journalists. All collaborate and compete for space and reach.

The causal relationship is as simple as it is complicated. People are social. People are using the Web. The Web has become social. People meet online. The exchange is rich and extensive. The crowd has forced the creation of great services for production, packaging, processing and distribution. These are exactly the same building blocks that have always been the foundation for traditional journalists and the media’s right to exist. Strong competition has emerged, but there is also some  interaction and collaboration.

People have opted in to social media at the expense of the traditional media. They rely on their own networks more and more, which has forced advertisers to find a place in social media too. Traditional ads are replaced by social and editorial versions that are designed to engage or become “friends” with your audience, talking to them as you would talk to friends.

The media are in the same boat and are becoming more social and advertorial. Users are invited to become part of both the ads and the editorials. UGC (user-generated content) is melded with CGC (company-generated content) and even JGC (journalist-generated content). Journalism goes from being a product to being a process characterized by “crowd-sourcing”, before ringing up the curtain on a particular report or story. As the newspaper Accent writes on their site:

“This is a collection of automated news monitoring that we use as editors. The idea is that even you, the reader, will see and have access to the unsorted stream of news that passes us on the editorial board. Please let us know if you find something important or interesting that you think we should pick up in our reporting. ”

This is similar to how companies today present their increasingly transparent and authentic communication in their own social media newsrooms, where the audience is invited to contribute their own experiences and opinions, and partly acts as a source of story ideas for journalists.

All in all, it’s a wonderful, fruitful, but oh-so-confusing melting pot.

36% använder social media inför köp av resa


Webben med alla dess tjänster har helt och hållet förändrat många konsumenters köpprocess. Nu får vi löpande indikationer på att det förändrade beteendet successivt börjar nå “massan”.

Av rapporten “World Travel Market 2010 Industry Report” framgår det bl a att 36% av alla engelska resenärer använde social media för att planera sin semester resa sommaren 2010.

Och att över hälften av dem kommer, eller troligtvis kommer, att använda social media vid nästa års planering.

Av rapporten framgår även att industrin inte heller låter sig vänta. 40% av turistnäringen ser social media som en stor möjlighet att möta sin marknad på under nästkommande fem år. 20% anser att social media är den enskilt bästa möjligheten under samma tidsperiod.

Jag kom ihåg att Patrik von Bergen från konsultfirman Streamson alltid talade vitt och brett om hur han ansåg sig ha “svart bälte i försäljning”, som han uttryckte det. Men en dag för några år sen kom han till mig, blek om nosen, med en bedrövad min. Han sa: “Inget av det jag lärt mig fungerar längre. Från att ha varit bäst på försäljning, är jag nu nybörjare igen.” Vi snackade om web 2.0, om de nya konsumenterna och den nya köpprocessen. En tid senare kom han tillbaka mer entusiastisk, starkare och med bättre självförtroende än någonsin. Han hade tagit fram “Von Bergens 5 lagar om Sälj 2.0“.

Patrik menar bl a att processen att förstå ett problem och hitta en lösning sällan börjar där säljaren börjar sin process att sälja. Och uppmanar företagen och dess säljare att inte försöka kontrollera köpprocessen, utan istället stödja den. Patrik anser att “säljarens informationsövertag från tiden före 2005 är borta. Köparen letar på nätet för att hitta information på alla tänkbara lösningar, inklusive dina konkurrenters”. Där Google sök ledde det första paradigmskiftet.

1997 ville jag och ett par kollegor på Spray göra det möjligt för resenärer att enkelt kunna söka och boka sina resor på webben. Alltid till lägst pris. Det låter inte så märkvärdigt idag. Men då var det sensationellt. Tyska “Travel Information Software Systems” lade grunden till bokningsmotorn och Mrjet.com lanserades.

Gissa om det blev succé?! NOT.

Efter ett halvår av idog marknadsföring hade vi inte sålt en ända resa (bortsett från alla de resor Spray “stödköpte” för eget bruk). Men efter några år av konstgjord andning lossnade det äntligen. Och paradigmskiftet för reseindustrin blev ett faktum. Sen dess har ett batteri av innovationer förändrat branschen. Idag ser köpprocessen ut som Patrik beskriver den, med tillägget att konsumenternas egna och andra relevanta nätverk får allt större betydelse för köpbesluten.

Av de 36% som använde social media när de planerade sin sommarresa valde 58% att ändra något köpbeslut knutet till den som ett direkt resultat av att ha använt social media. Hela 74% av kvinnorna fick sina intryck av Tripadvisor – världens största resetjänster som till stor del bygger på tips och idéer från användarna själva, d v s andra resenärer.

“Social Media is getting serious. In 2011, you need to be finding opportunities to promote your brand in this new arena”, säger Paul Richer, Senior Partner, Genesys (travel technology consultancy), i rapporten.

Men ingen bransch slipper undan. Kolla in på det sätt den här killen köper en hårddisk (tips från @hyttfors:

Bli lika (a)social som Telia på 20 min


Huruvida ett företag har en blogg, finns på twitter och Facebook säger inte ett mycket om hur bra de är på att bygga goda relationer med sin marknad och målgrupp. Det ger möjligtvis en indikation på att ambitioner finns men inte mer än så. Det är snarare hur väl företagen och dess målgrupp lyckas kommunicera via dessa tjänster, som kan ge indikationer hur bra de är på PR. Därför blir jag återigen så förvånad när jag ser tendenser på att folk i branschen fortfarande tror man plötsligt blir social bara för att man “finns på” Twitter.

Jag syftar på Episervers undersökning av sammanlagt 40 svenska företags hemsidor där de flesta företagen inte kunde svara “ja” på fler än max fyra av nedanstående 13 frågor. En av “vinnarna” var Telia som kunde “ticka av” (som Telias kommunikationschef uttryckte det) nio av ovan nämnda 13 kriterier.

  1. Finns blogg?
  2. Finns forum/community?
  3. Finns ”Följ oss på twitter”?
  4. Finns ”Detta sägs om oss på twitter”?
  5. Finns ”Följ oss på Facebook”?
  6. Finns ”Detta sägs om oss på Facebook”?
  7. Kan man dela innehåll via flera kanaler?
  8. Kan man betygsätta innehåll?
  9. Kan man ange favorit (gilla)?
  10. Finns film/webb-tv?
  11. Finns chat/automatiserad chat/webbrobot?
  12. Kan man maila via mailformulär alternativt mailadress/er?
  13. Finns telefonnummer

Kommunikationschef, LG Wallmark, var därefter snabb att utse Telia som vinnare i kundrelation på sin egen blogg med rubriken “Telia bäst i Sverige att använda sociala medier för kundmötet på webb”. Om jag inte hade känt LG en smula, och vetat att Telia faktiskt är rätt bra på att hålla en hyfsad kontakt med sin målgrupp på några av webbens mer sociala plattformar, så hade jag bara fnyst åt uttalandet. Men jag tycker trots allt att rubriceringen är en smula förhastad. För – som sagt – inget av ovan nämnda kriterier säger hur bra ett företag är på “att använda sociala medier för kundmötet på webben”.

Värt att nämna är att MyNewsdesk i dagarna har skapat förutsättningar för vilket företag som helst att inom loppet av 20 minuter bygga upp ett “social media newsroom” som uppfyller majoriteten av ovan nämnda kriterier, till en mycket blygsam kostnad.

Och – nej – det gör dem inte heller särskilt sociala – hux flux. Därför är rubriken på detta inlägg lika förhastat fel som LG’s. Men förutsättningarna att bli duktig på att skapa relation med sin målgrupp har aldrig varit så bra som nu. Upp till bevis.