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Jam with JC and Vasco da Gama

Back from the sun of Portugal to the ceaseless rain of London and Glasgow. Daniela and I flew to Porto to attend the MSKE conference at Universidade Lusíada de Famalicão where we had been asked to chair some streams and present a case study on some pro bono work that we had undertaken, and talk generally on generating value for organisations through the use of the intangible asset that is their social media presence.

A fascinating conference with more than 20 nationalities represented and all led by the enigmatic presence of Eduardo Tomé of the Universidade Lusíada de Famalicão. Eduardo paces restlessly throughout the days of the conference, navigating his way through the sometimes turbulent conference timetabling arrangements with nervous energy and off beat humour. As he pushes the conference ship in search of new worlds he seems to increasingly take on the look of a later day Vasco Da Gama and there were times I fully expected to see him turn up in 15th Century garb to fully embrace the look!

The university is delightful and unlike many a conference at academic institutions in the UK the staff have such pride in the event that nothing is too much trouble and they do go the extra mile to make one welcome. They love to demonstrate how the institute is bound into the local culture and life. This was exemplified by the brief but charming show by a student tuna band who serenaded the port laced reception to close the final session, rocking and swaying through a 12 man vocal rendition of some traditional songs, accompanying themselves with an assortment of guitars and mandolins and a couple of them demonstrating some pretty impressive flag waving as well (a short video captured on the day is available here).

It is always good to attend events like this, hear some of the fascinating research that is being done, and catch up with some old friends and acquaintances. It’s good for both the brain and solar cells.

Have to confess though that it was a very tiring trip as we had to squeeze it into the ever increasing commitments that take our time in curating Social Media Week in Glasgow, so the schedule was pretty hectic.

Nevertheless there was a good deal of opportunity for reflection with Spanish and Portuguese colleagues on the situation in Europe right now and the challenges they face in their economies. Some of the opinions and concerns expressed were illuminating, surprising but largely fatalistic about what can – or perhaps more truly – what can’t be done to turn round a parlous situation.

One person I am always pleased to see is JC Spender, who provided the key note on day one and riveting contributions through the other days of the conference. He is a man of immense intellect and formidably well read, and time with him is always challenging, stimulating and a great pleasure. He is one of the people who’s arrival in the audience of your own presentation slot is something to be greeted with both delight and an element of trepidation. Trepidation because you know the curve ball is coming – or should I say googly ( yes I should) – but delight because you will get the most excellent and valuable forensic critique of your work. Always insightful, ever willing to buck the trend and ever willing to challenge conventional or lazy thinking, he remains one of the best conference speakers around. Of course Daniela is able to stop anyone in their tracks with a pithy insightful comment in a debate, however this time she stopped JC dead when she suggested the main local industry was jam! On this occasion it was in fact a mistranslation but sensationally effective, and became the best in joke between us for the next couple of days.

So after braving some Portuguese cabbies, the perils of bridges being welded at 5am (that’s a story for another day, as is the discovery that my business partner is in fact a serial killer with a few ideas for virtual murder weapons) and being caught in the first monsoon of the season in London on the way to the British Library, the twintangibles caravan has returned to Glasgow. Lots of new ideas, new friends made and just a hint of colour on the face. Good result all round.

The Existential Threat of Social Media

The Existential Threat of Social Media

I have had a number of conversations recently with people in organisations that assert they do not need to worry about or are not interested in Social Media as it is not “relevant” to them or their sector. Their organisation is doing fine, they are leaders in their field and as it will take time and resource they see no need to extend their “marketing campaign” which is doing fine thank you very much. Also lot of talk about the ROI of their “doing” social media.

Apart from letting them into the secret that Social Media is only in very small part about marketing and that “doing” social media is in most cases a matter of getting to grips with implications of a changed mindset entering every part of their value chain,  I also get to talk about the existential threat that SM may well pose to their perceived sectoral dominance.

By that I mean that disruptive new business models that may threaten them are growing up as the social media mindset and the concepts like the long tail are increasingly pervasive and understood. Current dominance is no guarantee of future dominance and so by all means place your head firmly in the sand and ignore social media mindset for your own organisation but be sure that others will take a different view and you may well be staring down the barrel of new, agile and efficient competitor who is eating your sector, and you with it. So in many cases it is not a case of considering “doing” social media but often it’s what social media will “do” to you. The ROI is that in 5 years you will still be in business.

Inbound Marketing

Inbound Marketing

Visited the Scottish Enterprise funded Inbound Marketing event at Radisson Blu Glasgow on Friday and enjoyed what I had time to stay for. Now we take time to explain that Social Media is much much more than marketing whilst recognising that a great deal of the debate is stuck in that rut. By the same token inbound marketing is about much more than social media, nevertheless the event was well worth the visit.

Gordon MacIntyre-Kemp did a good job as MC and made some interesting comment about the historical aspect of networks which chimed well with what we say with regard to the re-emergence of engagement. The importance of social knowledge, whilst not directly referred to, is clearly beginning to take hold with the marketing community.

There were no revelatory moments but the information shared was sound and well communicated and Kirsten Knipp of Hubspot was engaging and informative – although it’s the first time I have seen a slide that actually used the word “gotten” without a hint of irony for some time.

One of the nice aspects of this type of event is that it does represent a good networking opportunity, making new connections and catching with old friends and, with such a well attended event, it was worth the time for that alone. As I had to leave before it was all over, I wondered if my half time review would get me the promised copy of the Halligan and Shah book Inbound Marketing, but it did – huzzah. Haven’t read it yet of course but intrigued by the statement on the front which says “get found using Google, social media and blogs” – hmmm? Interesting idea that blogs aren’t social media, lets see how the rest of it shapes up.

Worth going and should it come up again soon then I would recommend you take the time – well done chaps. In the meantime you can see a good deal of it using the link below

Inbound Marketing event at Radisson Blu

Horns and Crowds

Horns and Crowds

Mucho BassOver the weekend the West End festival in Glasgow really got underway and Kelvingrove Park was packed with carnivals, funfairs, people and music.
On the main stage was one of my favourite bands Captain Slackships Mezzanine Allstars a sensational reggae band with the best horn section in Scotland. Now, as I once earned my living as  a singer in a reggae band I love to revisit my misspent youth by following the Captain and his crew, and whenever a top class reggae band visits Glasgow it is almost invariably this jolly piratical group that fills the support slot. So seeing them on Sunday reminded me of a discussion I had at one of those gigs a few months back when, as is often the case, the main act had horns provided by keyboards and the Captains team frankly blew them away. The reasons a lot of touring bands don’t bring horn sections is cost. If you were Southside Johnny and the Asbury Jukes – probably the best horn section in the world (no universe) – then it would be unthinkable, but too many reggae bands (IMHO) seem to think that it is an optional extra. So, in the spirit of endeavouring to find a solution, somewhere mid set of The Wailers at The Arches we hit upon a plan – why not crowdsource the horns. Seriously! Now hear me out on this!  What you do is tell your fans you are touring, that you want a horn section, put the pieces on You Tube and ask for a horn section to come together in each location to do the honours. You could even audition them by SKYPE or during the soundcheck or something. The horns get the kudos of being – well in the case of the Wailers – honorary Wailers for the night – job done.

Now – don’t tell me it’s not possible. If you don’t believe it then check this out …..yes I know I have tweeted it before but it is just well…uplifting.

If you want to know a bit more about crowdsourcing – there are still a few places left at Social Media Unleashed 2 on Thursday night where you can hear how Dell do it. No horn section though.

In the meantime why not buy a Captain Slackships CD or download a track – and no, I don’t get royalties.

The revolution will not be televised, but it might be tweeted!

The revolution will not be televised, but it might be tweeted!

One of the most profound and significant aspects of the impact of social media is its democratising power. Whilst that typically has political connotations, it is meant here in the broader sense of empowerment and engagement. The current furore surrounding super injunctions and the role of social media in challenging them is one of the more celebrated manifestations of that and, regardless of the rights and wrongs of the particular case, it stands as testament to the fact that traditional gate keeping institutions, structures and individuals are finding their position challenged by the coming together of the engaged social media mind set and technical tools that empower it.

The fact that an impromptu summit is being gathered by President Sarkozy is perhaps an indication of how concerned the institutional classes are becoming, and perhaps also indicative of how little they understand the social media mind set. Whilst it might be understandable for the traditional reaction is to pull together the apparent leaders of the revolution in form of representatives of some of the more visible applications, Facebook, Google et al. to bring about some top down negotiated settlement it actually demonstrates a misunderstanding of what is happening. This is very much a bottom up revolution and the applications will come and go, but the engaged and liberated mindset will remain.

It is ironic that the institutions most discomfited by the turbulence arriving on their shores will be the same ones that applaud the unifying and anti-establishment power of social media in the Arab Spring and rail against the attempted restriction and censorship of powers like China who still are sufficiently closed to bring about an element of control.

Democratising power is not just a political issue, it is about engagement of tribes in many arenas that have traditionally had constrained access either by design or intent. This is why the social media mindset is having impact in economy, society and culture. Traditional approaches in such a globalised and connected world are increasingly redundant, just as Taylorist top down management structures are crumbling.

To realise value and benefit from social media one must first understand the mindset that underpins it and to recognise this as an opportunity. To grasp that opportunity requires both understanding and action to change and evolve with it.

twintangibles helps organisations understand social media and manage the change needed to generate value from the social media mindset.

Social Media Week Glasgow in September of this year will be an opportunity to demonstrate just how wide and deep those changes go and just how engaged Glasgow and Scotland is with the advent of the crowd.

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