— blending the mix

August, 2008 Monthly archive

Cool stuff I was readingAugust 26th toAugust 28th:

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Guru Pitka

I’ve never really been a big fan of living your life to rules/mantras set by others for two reasons:

1) I have always felt that they came about through a set of circumstances, specific to that individual at that particular time.

2) I am just far too disorganised/naive/skitty to stop and listen to the words, take in their meaning and learn from them.

However, I came across something today, courtesy of TBWA Manchester which totally struck a chord with me and hits the nail on the head:

You cannot outperform a market if you adhere to its conventions

Rock on! Think about how to break the rules to make the new rules – disruption rules 😉

And then it got me thinking about a couple of other phrases/mantras that have made their way into my life and social media:

You were born with one mouth and two ears for a reason

Learning to listen is much more important than talking.


The only stupid question is the one that doesn’t get asked

Encourage the asking and receving of questions to learn the most from your customers.

“Mariska Hargitay” my readers!

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Despite talking about social media in my sleep, I have only recently started using reddit etc. Don’t ask me why, I just never really felt that I needed to be told what news stories were popular by other people.

I find the blogs of interest to me, evaluate the credibility of the writers and stick with them. Following their blog ensures that if there is anything likely to be of interest to me (on the wider web), these people will bring it to my attention.

Anyway…so to Reddit…this evening I logged only my second article on Reddit and got the following message:

It’s enough to click this link:


and you’re just 30 seconds away from 15 complimentary ringtones brought to you by Reddit in association with FlyCell Ringtones.

Please accept this proof of the fact that Reddit appreciates you, as you were one of our most appreciated commenters.

Our promotional offer will only be valid for a short period of time so hurry!

This is an automated message from Reddit.com. Please don’t reply.

Reddit direct mail copy circa 1996

WTF??? Did they get a Nigerian Money scammer to write this? Or is this in fact spam?

2 posted links with comments earns me “most appreciated commenters” status? Come on. Grow up Reddit, I’m not stupid. You are in the UGC business, you must be aware that we are not so cynical as to believe the old direct mail copy BS. Don’t talk to me like a 1995 piece of direct mail. There’s reason that shit died a death.

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PR Week’s 10th anniversary competition has really got my attention, not necessarily for holding a competition  (there are competitions aplenty of which my buddy Steve deservedly won!), but for the manner and tools they have used to do it.

The competition allows US readers to vote to produce the nation’s favourite PR blogs leading to one ultimate winner. This is supposed to be for the US, but the esteemed Neville Hobson has managed to creep in to the list too – and quite rightly so 😉 – good on you Neville!


I like these kinds of competitions – but they are normally carried out by the publications themselves and this is where I have got to give PR Week enormous credit here.

As a beacon to the PR industry, using the latest social media tools in this way, it does much to dispell the myth that the PR industry is “past it”,”too late” or crap but there is something so appealing about the way they have used one of the latest bunch of UGC tools to generate buzz.

So surveys in blogs or websites is nothing new, but let me shed some light onto BuzzDash which will hopefully demonstrate why using these kinds of surveys are such a good idea.

Take my little experiment below (no, please do…it is embeddable, see the small blue button at the bottom "share this buzzbite")

<a href="http://www.buzzdash.com/index.php?page=buzzbite&amp;BB_id=102386">For businesses, the hardest part about adopting social media is:</a> | <a href="http://www.buzzdash.com">BuzzDash</a>

Widgetised Survey Distribution – Not only do we have a UGC survey that I can put anywhere, but so can the users/readers too.

Community – Note the other small box "voter comments". Cool, not only can people cast their vote and see its’ impact in real time, but they can also add something of value to the survey buy leaving a comment.

Suddenly, we have moved away from a simple static survey seemingly there for the benefit of the publisher to something which users can distribute and participate in.

Don’t forget that the surveys can also be voted for on the BuzzDash site, and you have the opportunity for the survey to be seen by many more people than a conventional static one.

Website stickiness…it hasn’t gone away yet, even in the fast-moving Web 2.0 world!

Oh, BTW, my bet is that Brian will win it :-)

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I’m not going to be too gushing about David because I know he is an avid reader of this blog, but the sentiment is there, even though the words may not be 😉

David, in between running Edelman Europe, has managed to write a book called Crowdsurfing. The video below gives you a far better insight into what the book is about than I could so enjoy the video:

Crowdsurfing from David Brain on Vimeo.


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David picked this one out and I also remember Steve talking about it too. Having NOW seen it, I can totally see why it is worth watching.

Overview: Player makes video of EA Games’ Tiger Woods golf showing Tiger playing on water. Not good. EA games respond with their own video.

Result: Awesome WoM and a problem nicely brushed under the carpet. “That’s the way to do it”.

There seems to be an inherent coolness about responding to problems via social media. At this stage in its lifecycle, brands who address customers using social media show that they are prepared to do something different, go just that little bit further to get their message across. At the moment I think customers appreciate this effort much more than we think.

Why don’t you give it a go?

Thanks David, Steve.

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Cool stuff I was readingAugust 21st toAugust 22nd:

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So folks, after a ling time, I am finally going away on holiday. I’ll be back on the 21st August and be back at KMP Towers on the 26th.

In short, if you need to keep up with what’s going on you couldn’t go far wrong by giving these good folk a visit in my absence:

Steve Clayton
Neville Hobson
David Kinsella (a fellow KMP bro)
Stephen Waddington
KMP (these guys seem to know what they are doing 😉

Have a good August!

Hasta lluego, A+, see ya!

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Cool stuff I was readingAugust 4th toAugust 7th:

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cluetrain manifesto cover I see a lot of people talking about getting “it” and by “it”, they are referring to The Cluetrain Manifesto without being so explicit as to mention it by name. I see how fundamentally it has changed many modern marketeer’s perceptions of where their late 2000’s marketing activity now needs to be – or rather where their market allows it to be.

The book really did change the way I thought. I suppose, like The Blue Monster, I wanted to change the way people saw my products and the business I represented – but perhaps more importantly, how I interacted with those customers. (nb, This was 2006 and I was running my own online bathroom store www.bighippo.co.uk)

With a conventional direct marketing background I was intrigued by the ideas the book threw at me and the opportunities that social media presents in creating this “new” two-way relationship.

Back to the present day, many millions of blogs now deal with this pr and marketing front line – the next great idea and keeping their readers up to date with everything new but my experience over the last year has shown that

But in my experience of dealing with a wide range of people (clients, colleagues and other “social media luvvies”) it is obvious that there is a genuine need for people to understand WHY they need to engage with social media and to understand the fundamental shift in power from brand to customer.

So…below lies the first in a series (regular series!) which puts a personal interpretation of the 95 Cluetrain Manifesto theses which I hope help bridge the gap between olde worlde marketing and new thinking. helps achieve this. I have also added small footnotes below each item to try to put a more practical angle on each point.

In the true spirit of the new world, feel free to chip in and contribute and I hope to meet many new friends – I am at paul dot fabretti at gmail dot com or @paulfabretti (you know where!).

1) Markets are conversations: Try not to think of talking to your market as a one-way street, or a “them and us” situation. Think “market stall” mentality and you are on your way there. Customers can tell you as much useful stuff as you can tell them, so give them the chance to speak to you.

√ – Think taxi driver. Exchange of a service for money but it is civil, human and more importantly interactive.

2) Markets consist of human beings, not demographic sectors: Demographics are numbers and diagrams. They are devoid of feeling, circumstance, family situation – devoid of emotion. Don’t go any further until you realise that no demographic analysis can give you insight into human emotion – and buying is an emotional process.

√ – Think of what you FELT when you last bought a major purchase. Demographics can’t show feelings – humans can.

3) Conversations among human beings SOUND human. They are conducted in a human voice: “to whom it may concern”, “in respect of” and terms like “vis a vis” and “hithertofore” are just a few examples of corporate speak that makes people either frown or turn people off. Speak to people the way in which you would like to be spoken to.

√ – Write something then read it out. Does it sound like something you would say? If you have to pause when reading, it isn’t right for you. Alternatively, say out loud what it is you want to write and notice how smoothly it flows or even record yourself saying what you want to write. The most constructive criticism sometimes comes from hearing your own voice!

4) Whether delivering information, opinions, perspectives, dissenting arguments or humourous asides, the human voice is typically open, natural, uncontrived: Use as many short words as possible, just like you would when you talk – it makes content short, punchy and to the point. Using words like “therefore”, “in retrospect” for example are what I call “padders” – they are there wimply to fill in space until we make your point! Kept it short and sweet and you’ll get to your point quicker!

√ – Listen to politicians answer questions – and do exactly opposite. Find ways to make their answer shorter and get to the point quicker.

5) People recognise each other as such from the sound of this voice: in writing and speaking in the human voice, people will readily indentify that there is another human being on the other side – and will engage more with what you have said. Whether you use txt spk or a familiar tone of voice, it is proof that there is a human being behind the message NOT a corporation.

√ – Show a few posts or messages to non-customers, friends (and family) who have nothing to do with your business. If they can understand what it is you are trying to say (because of the way it is written) – you can be pretty sure your customer will too.

6) The internet is enabling conversations among human beings that were simply not possible in the era of mass media: email, IM, forums, tangler, wiki’s, blogs all enable people to communicate quicker than ever before. Furthermore, with no geographical boundaries stopping the worldwide communication of messages we really are making the world a smaller place.

√ – Go to places like Technorati/Google/Google blog search and enter a brand name. Note how many different languages and methods people are using to talk about that brand. These are all people who could be talking about YOUR BRAND and in ways you didn’t know.

7) Hyperlinks subvert Hierarchy: It doesn’t matter who you are, what your title is or how much you earn – linking is status-neutral. Today a school kid can link to a CEO and blow the socks off what has been written. An addition to this thesis could be “Hyperlinks subvert Hierarchy and promote Humility”.

√ – Take anything you have written and revert to points 3, 4 and 5 – does it sound like me? Would I say this? You may never be able to control some comments, but you can easily minimise those negative behaviours that result from a pompous attitude!

8) In both INTERnetworked markets and among INTRAnetworked employees, people are speaking to each other in a powerful new way: As methods of communication between people becomes quicker and more widespread, so does word of mouth grow more powerful. More people are finding new ways to reach each other and find more and more things out about each other and products. Some of those people will be your employees. What are they saying about your brand? Does their experience typify the customer experience? Are they talking to non-employee customers?

√ – Create an intranet or at the very least a forum where the business and its operations can be discussed by internal staff. Make it anonymous of needs be. Allow the voice from within to make suggestions, highlight problems and give customer feedback. If it can’t be said behind closed doors it will never be said at all. Give people the chance to speak.

9) These networked conversations are enabling powerful new forms of social organisation and knowledge exchange to take place: As a social species, it is in our nature to mix and communicate (there’s a reason we can talk and monkeys can’t!). Whether that is IM, email, forums, phones or face to face, the easier communication is the more it will happen. The more it happens, the greater the likelihood that people will be talking about your brand at some point. Taylor Woodrow (a major UK house-builder) didn’t think it could happen to them until they found snagging.org! As with all WOM, a critical mass and momentum builds which, given the ease with which people can communicate online, will snowball whether good or bad. Understanding the power and speed of online communication is essential.

√ – Become part of those networks. Participate, be a part of the very networks who can make or break you.

10) As a result, markets are getting smarter, more informed, more organised. Participation in a networked market changes people fundamentally: Networks provide an easy means for people to swap horror stories, solve problems, offer tips and advice, discuss avoidance schemes and discount offers etc. Who doesn’t want to know how they can get something for less, or get something for free or find a way of avoiding a 10-minute wait on an 0870 call to customer services? Reciprocating favours brings people together, creating communities where (in the main) people will return.

√ – Embed yourself in communities associated with your product and see what people are talking about. Don’t be fooled into thinking a self-hosted forum will work – it won’t. People will be suspicious. Join forums where the REAL community lives and see what areas of concern people are talking about. Are they complaining about call waiting times – address it by putting on extra shifts. Are instructions difficult to follow? Commission some extra photography. Communities will tell you far more about your business than outbound calling will EVER can.

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