My Crazy Prediction?

In September 2008 I made a prediction, that email as we know it today will no longer exist in 10 years time.

Read The Death Of Email by 2018

Will I be proved to be a:
or Fool?

Time Remaining:


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Disclaimer: The views expressed on stopthinksocial are my own and do not necessarily reflect the views of Oracle.
Strategic advice and experience on making the most of  being social in the workplace

Entries in marketing (4)


The Older Generation Just Don't Get Social Media

Last weeks Social Workplace Twitter Chat (#SWChat) was on Social Project Management, with guest Liz Pearce of Liquid Planner.

The event was going great, lots of contribution and engagement from 130+ people until I asked what I thought at the time was an innocuous question:

Q5) Social Project Management promotes transparency and engagement. But who embraces and who resists? which Larry Torres responded:

Like moths to a flame, this prompted a barrage of tweets from participants defending Generation X (primarily from Generation X people of course). The hypothesis was then posed that maybe this generalisation was too simplistic.

But is it?

Let's take a look again at the question that was asked - "...who resists and who embraces". No one is saying that the older generation are not able to adopt social media just that they are more likely to resist initially and therefore adoption may be slower.

It stands to reason that if email has been your prime communication channel for 20 years, you are more likely to resist the transition to a social communication platform than someone who has never used email. But with the right argument and justification, adoption should be fairly straight forward.

It's not age that's the cause here, it's change from what we are used to. After all we are creatures of habit.

But it is clear age is a touchy subject when we talk about social media.

Take a look at these figures that were used in a marketing campaign some time ago to show someone socially connected (the lady on the left) and someone that was not (the man on the right):

Why do you think the poster campaign containing these figures was removed from the public domain after a series of complaints?

Was it racial stereotyping? Was it considered sexist - that women get social media but men don't?

No - it was thought to be ageist...

The people in this poster are animated characters. The business women may look to be in her mid 30's but can you be sure? The man however was generalised to be "old" and therefore the insinuation of the poster was that old people do not get social media.

The man has his head in his hands. You cannot see his face. So how do you know if he is old? Is it just because he has little hair? I have virtually no hair, yet I don't think I'm old.

The point is, social media is not age specific for adoption, but are the older generation more likely to resist than the younger generation? Absolutely.

(please note the use of the words "more likely" here - it's not always the case)

However this tweet from Terence Coughlin is not only good advice but made me chuckle:


#SWChat 50 Million impressions - 12 Top Tips To Creating a Successful Twitter Chat

The Social Workplace Twitter Chat (#SWChat) has reached the milestone of 50,000,000 (yes, 50 million !!!) impressions in only 20 weeks since it's birth.

I started #SWChat back in November 2011 after attending a number of other Twitter Chats, particularly #LeadershipChat hosted by Lisa Petrilli and Steve Woodruff. Both Lisa and Steve inspired me to do something that I was passionate about just as they had, and creating The Social Workplace (i.e. creating the next generation workplace for businesses where communication and collaboration become truly social) is my passion.

With my subject matter now defined, I set some clear goals of what I wanted to achieve:

  • to encourage thought provoking discussions
  • to be informative & educational
  • to allow passionate people to engage and build new social relationships

The first #SWChat I hosted was titled The Barriers Of The Social Workplace and I can honestly say that the 30 mins before the event started was the most nervous I have ever been in my life. The thought of no-one turning up and just talking to myself was very very scary. But a few people did, and it was an engaging discussion. An encouraging start.

Since then each week #SWChat it has grown from strength to strength where now, from the beginning of February 2011, we achieve an average of 114 people per event providing 1000+ tweets with over 3.5 million impressions.

This has exceeded even my expectations.

Some BIG Thank You's

Creating a Twitter Chat from scratch is definitely not easy. An incredible amount of time and effort goes into planning each chat every week to try to provide interesting and engaging topics, supported by thought provoking questions. You also need to have a good marketing strategy to attract the right audience.

But most of all you need the right people behind you providing direction and support and I am so grateful to have met and worked with some of the most amazing people on #SWChat (...apologies if this sounds like a BAFTA acceptance speech):

  • Lisa Petrilli (@lisapetrilli) and Steve Woodruff (@swoodruff) for their continual support and inspiration
  • Christy Confetti Higgins (@confetti) and Brandie McCallum (@lttlewys) who have been amazing co-hosts and so supportive week after week
  • The #SWChat advisors whom have been great sounding boards when I needed it - Brandie McCallum (@lttlewys); Steve Cassady (@SteveCassady); David A Lee (@DavidALee); Warren Wooden (@PLRNetMarketing); and Meghan M Biro (@MeghanMBiro)
  • #TChat and #bizforum for the marketing partnership we seemed to have stumbled into but very glad we did
  • Liz Christopher (@LizCpher) for help with the topics and questions
  • and finally a big thank you to all the 467 participants who have made the discussions to-date so interesting and engaging

20 weeks is not very long to be thinking if sharing next practices, but I have picked up some good advice and made some mistakes, which i hope others can benefit from who are thinking of starting their own Twitter Chat.

12 Top Tips to Creating a Successful Twitter Chat

1. Select A Subject Matter You Are Passionate About

If you are going to be hosting a Twitter Chat every week, you'd better choose a subject matter that really interests you and are knowledgeable about. Coming up with great topics and questions week after week is a challenge in itself without the burden of disliking the subject.

Your audience will begin to drop off very quickly and never to return, if they sense you are not interested in the subject matter.

2. Participate In Other Twitter Chats

There is no substitution for experience. Therefore take part in a number of different Twitter Chats to get a flavour of what's involved and how the participants respond. Utilise that knowledge and experience to develop your own style.

Don't be afraid to try something different to see how your own audience responds.

3. Build A Knowledge Base

Having a knowledge base or reference point, is essential for informing people what your Twitter Chat is all about, which will help generate a buzz (see example).

It's also important to have a group of people you can turn to as a sounding board to help provide direction.

4. Send In The Co-hosts

This is one of the first (and best) pieces of advice i was ever given.

Having co-hosts allows you to share the responsibilities of hosting thereby relieving some of the pressure off your own shoulders. They can also be great support aids if you run into technical difficulties and are unable to host.

5. Advance Planning

"He who fails to plan, is planning to fail...." - never a truer word spoken when it comes to Twitter Chats.

Some specific areas you need to plan for:

  • Define your topics and questions as early as possible and avoid last minute panics
  • Prepare your introductory tweets in advance
  • Have between 6-8 questions readily available
  • Make all your questions available from in the cloud so your co-host(s) can take over if you run into difficulties (I use
  • Schedule tweets throughout the week to generate awareness and interest (I use Hootsuite)

6. Define Your Marketing Strategy

Sending out a tweet or two is not going to generate that much buzz about your event. Instead, engage in conversation with the people in your stream and ask them to help you raise awareness.

Joint marketing strategies with other related Twitter Chats can be mutually beneficial.

7. Stay On Topic & Keep It Interesting

If your Twitter Chat is about cars, then don't choose a topic about boats. Choosing topics each week that are not related to your subject matter is going to confuse and lose your audience.

The topics also need to be interesting and the questions thought-provoking, to challenge people's perspectives and encourage discussion.

8. Always Welcome Newcomers

I have in the past attended a few Twitter Chats where I said "Hi" and introduced myself and nobody responded. I shortly left never to return.

For this reason I make it a point of saying hi to newcomers and encourage others participating to do the same.

9. React To The Conversation

If the discussion seems to be drying up on a question, throw another one out to keep the conversation flowing. However, if your audience is heavily engaged in a discussion then let it play out before you change the conversation with a new topic. 

Having lots of questions readily available is smart planning but remember you don't need to use them all.

10. Show Respect

If someone tweets something interesting, profound or useful, don't be afraid to retweet it and prefix it with a short comment or a "+10". It's a sign of acknowledgement and respect by the host.

11. Provide Transcripts

Not everyone will be able to make your Twitter Chat every week, and those that can't really do appreciate having a transcript available to read afterwards at a more convenient time.

12. Analyze & Report

Understanding who attends your Twitter Chats each week and what topics appear to be the most popular, will help you plan for future topics.

I use who not only have an incredible tool for analyzing and providing a complete transcript, but also provide fantastic support. Highly recommend them.


Email is losing ground to Social Communications

I recently delivered a Social Enterprise marketing campaign titled "Being Social...More Than Just Talking" where the purpose was to raise awareness inside the enterprise that Being Social is not just about tools, it's about a work style change.

The campaign followed Steve, a Sales Communications Specialist, who was a bit of a social sceptic but was open minded to listen. He went on a social journey of discovery and soon realised that by being better socially connected with his colleagues he could be more collaborative AND more productive. Though he didn't managed to reduce his caffeine intake too much ;-)

The campaign was delivered on 3 fronts:

  • An introductory email to 25,000 employees
  • A poster campaign
  • A set of 5 Diary Entry videos (done in the style of Bridget Jones) - one released each day for a week

The campaign has been received very favourably (average marks 9/10 by the employees) and I have had numerous requests to do a follow up Diary Series. BUT what was interesting was the statistics on the initial email that went out.

The email introducing the marketing campaign went out on a Monday morning. Of those 25,000 employees who received it only 5,569 actually opened the email (22%) on the Monday. By the end of the week this figure had increased marginally to 6,310 (25%).

Just let me reiterate that:

three quarters of the workforce had not even bothered to open the email before deciding to discard or delete it

Now there are other factors that have to be taken into consideration here like:

  • was it holiday season?
  • was the subject heading interesting?
  • does the sender have influence and respect of the employees?

The answers to these questions are no, subjective, and again subjective respectively (though the name of the programme was used rather than a senders name here to provide more credibility).

The conclusion I draw from this is that if you want to communicate a message to the masses you can no longer rely only on traditional communication channels but you must use a combination of both traditional and social communication platforms. This is true inside and outside the enterprise.

The days of email blast campaigns are coming to an end.

Welcome to the Social Communication Revolution!


Sponsored conversations - good or bad?

I recently listened to one of the most fascinating podcasts I have heard in a long time.

The podcast was from The Social Mediasphere where they had a great illustrious panel consisting of Sean Corcoran from Forrester Research, Marshall Kirkpatrick of Read Write Web and Ted Murphy of IZEA and Wendy Piersall of Sparkplugging, all talking about whether 'sponsored conversations' should be allowed or not. This is an old podcast, but is still a relevant and hot topic even today.

For those that have not heard the term 'sponsored conversations' before, Forrester Research defines it as:

"a marketing technique in which marketers provide financial or material compensation to bloggers in exchange for them posting blog content about a brand."

Click to download the entire independent report by Forrester Research.

The podcast is 90mins long, but I highly recommend you pour yourself a glass of wine and sit back and listen to the whole show, but for those that cannot spare the time, let me provide the highlights for you with a little flavouring of me added in.

Marshall’s standpoint was he didn’t agree with "paying people to put words in someone’s mouth", and I have to say I can understand where he is coming from. If we take an A-list blogger who has a loyal following, and Apple approach them to write a review on the new iPad and tell them that they can be as honest as they like in their post and once finished they can keep the iPad, surely this 'payment' is going to influence their review? If a poor review is written, Apple are unlikely to use them again.

There was also a lot of talk that providing 'full disclosure' to your readers when a post is a true post or a 'sponsored conversation' is acceptable behaviour, but I do wonder where this full disclosure takes place – at the bottom in small print maybe?

However a good point was made by Sean, "how is this any different from a resort paying someone to fly over to write a review on their hotel?"

I very rarely sit on the fence, but this debate had some very good and compelling arguments on both sides. However, in the current climate it is hard to argue against anyone wanting to be paid for doing something they are good at, but it will ultimately be down to the readers to determine the authenticity of their posts and whether they will remain loyal followers.

I came across this video on YouTube from IZEA called The Caveman's Guide to Sponsored Conversations and whilst informative it is also a little humourous. Had to share it.