Category Archives: Uncategorized

2015 in review

I only wrote one blog post in 2015. But I still enjoyed reading this personalized annual summary from the WordPress team. Makes me want to write more this year!


Here’s an excerpt:

A New York City subway train holds 1,200 people. This blog was viewed about 5,500 times in 2015. If it were a NYC subway train, it would take about 5 trips to carry that many people.

Click here to see the complete report.

A tip for people interviewing for jobs.

I recently got a new job as Head of Digital and CRM at Fiskars! \o/

Getting a new job meant going through some interviews..

When interviewing for jobs, there is a question that I never seemed to answer very well:

It’s always a tough one to answer, as most factual information is available before the interview via the web, or it has been covered during the interview already. Often, people say “not really thanks, everything I wanted to know has been covered”, which leaves the end of the interview on a bit of a flat note.

Here’s my new go-to answer to that question:

It works no matter what topics you have covered in the interview.

It is good because you are asking for a personal opinion, so you don’t come across as under-prepared having not  researched the company fully.

It makes the interviewer think, and to some extent he or she has to sell the job to you. It is quite easy to think of the best thing, but when thinking of the worst thing many interviewers try to minimize how bad it seems. This seems to turn the tables and turns you into attractive prospect who the interviewer is now persuading to join their company.

And, who knows, the answer the interviewer gives might help you decide if you really do want the job after all..

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Social engagement improves search results.

I work on a team called “Search and Social” at Nokia, so this report is important to us as it supports our view that the two are inherently linked.

GroupM Search, comScore Announce Study “The Influenced: Social Media, Search and the Interplay of Consideration and Consumption”

– consumers exposed to a brand’s influenced social media and paid search programs are 2.8 times more likely to search for that brand’s products compared to users who only saw paid search.

– 50% lift in click-through rates across the board when consumers had been exposed to social media and paid search.

– Specific keywords that found information about a generic product “went through the roof after being exposed to social media programs,”

– “The biggest challenge becomes understanding how to allocate budgets between the two media, social and paid search. It’s also about understanding when consumers are ready to invite brands into their social space”

ie perhaps it’s not (just) about affiliates and selling *within* social media, but rather using social media for listening and persuasion, then search and owned media for conversion?

Short-term thinking is to blame. For everything.

To avoid Marketing Myopia, we need to balance short-term quantitative metrics with qualitative metrics to get a full understanding of what we are doing. That way, hopefully we can’t be blamed for creating the next Jonas Brothers…

Katy has posted this awesome clip on her Seemingly Unconnected blog.

It’s a great monologue, explaining how marketing is to blame for the stupidification of culture, by encouraging us to worship youthfulness and ignorance.

However, I’m not sure about his logic of selling to younger people “so that they buy stuff for their whole life”; actually, marketing is much more myopic than that. This quarter’s targets are usually too important to worry about a customer’s lifetime value.

Instead, I would say that it’s actually the malleability of young minds that has always made them attractive to the Ad Men hungry for quick wins.

Part of the problem is that nearly everything we measure (sales; visits; click-through rates) is short-term. If we are to move beyond making a quick buck and start building value, then marketing and social media metrics needs a Balanced Scorecard, which is what our PESH model is aiming to do. Measuring participation and advocacy scores is then as (or more) important than measuring direct clicks and sales.

Everything seems to be moving at breakneck twitter-speed nowadays, but building genuine value and relationships still takes time.

The alternative is more viral videos… of the Jonas Brothers… wearing Crocs. And nobody in their right mind wants much of that.

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Best cover songs of all time?

People sometimes think you have to pluck something out of thin air to be creative, but that’s not true.

For example, you don’t have to write your own songs to have cultural relevance and to be real. Some of the greatest moments in music have been when someone has taken a song and re-interpreted it, remixing it into something that even the original songwriter never intended.

Taking what’s currently available and making something new is at the heart of digital culture, and is just as legitimate an artform as writing original words and melodies.

So, as a bit of a departure from work-related posts, I wanted to put together a list of my personal favourite cover songs. I got some great suggestions from friends on Facebook and Twitter, so where relevant I’ll mention people who helped me out. Here we go…


15. Chris Cornell – “Billie Jean”

I don’t know anyone else who has done a great cover of a Micheal Jackson song, but this one is fantastic.


14. Michael Andrews and Gary Jules – “Mad world”

The original is a great song too, but this is much more interesting, especially when used as the touching soundtrack to a cartoon of a kiwi suicide (really!) as below.


13. Nina Gordon – “Straight outta Compton”

A few different bands have taken Gangsta rap lyrics and added melody: Dynamite hack did a funny version of Boyz n the hood (props to Anne for the suggestion), and Milow is doing well with his version of Ayo Technology. But this one by the singer from Veruca Salt is the best in my opinion: she takes the harsh lyrics to a place that makes you feel stupid for listening to them, makes them seem powerless compared to her beautiful melody.


12. Mark Ronson – “God put a smile on your face”

All his Versions are interesting, and his take on Toxic is great (thanks Bish for pointing it out). But I just love how he took a fairly boring indie song by Chris Martin and made it sound so full of life with his trademark horns. Love this video too as it’s just a high-school project but it is full of innocent charm.


11. Jose Gonzalez – “Heatbeats”

As heard in the brilliant Bravia bouncing balls advert. Originally by The Knife, this ad would not have been as good if Jose had not reinterpreted this song.


10. Travis – “Hit me baby one more time”

Suggested by my friend Stu: You wouldn’t believe this to be possible until you’ve heard it. They taught us that good songs are everywhere, and sometimes they’re right in front of you but you just didn’t know it.


9. Joe Cocker – “With a little help from my friends”

Just a fantastic vocal performance from Sheffield’s own Joe Cocker. He put so much of himself into his performance at Woodstock, that I’m sure McCartney and Lennon were embarrassed that they wrote this as a silly throw-away tune for Ringo.


8. Jeff Buckley – “Hallelujah”

Leonard Cohen wrote a beautiful lyric but his version isn’t a patch on Jeff Buckley’s – I mean not even close.


7. Johnny Cash – “Hurt”

@willsh suggested a Johnny Cash cover of a Nick Cave song The Mercy Seat, and a few others (Timo, Petteri) suggested his cover of Hurt. Close call, but his version of Hurt is just that much more brilliant to my ears. Rick Rubin is a genius too, reducing this to its essentials and leaving room for Cash’s voice.


6. Michael Jackson – “Who’s loving you?”

The original Smokey Robinson version is now mostly forgotten since young Michael blew it out of the water. How an 11 year old could re-interpret a song like this, and put so much more soul than the original adult composer – well, some things are just beyond rational explanation.


5. Cat Power – “Sea of love”

One of my favourite songs from one of my favourite movies – Juno. Originally released in 1959, don’t bother listening to the version by Robert Plant as The Honeydrippers, just listen to this one. Trust me.


4. Sinead O’Conner – “Nothing compares 2 U”

Not many Prince covers have come close to the originals except this. She pared a pop song back to its emotional essence, and also created one of the most genuine music videos you’ll ever see.


3. Jimi Henrix – “All along the watchtower”

Perhaps the best example of taking a songwriter’s song and performing it in a way that blows the original out of the water. Just the definitive version of the song, with an energy Dylan never would have imagined when he wrote it. Dylan even said he preferred the Hendrix version apparently. This was the most frequently suggested by my friends:  Katy, my bro, Mike

Special mention to Dave Mathew’s Band for a pretty good version too, which I heard for the first time today (props to Noora).


2. Beck – “Everybody’s gotta learn sometimes”

When Beck came along in the 90s, I had no idea he would be capable of something like this. The original is a very good tune, but it is a bit wet; Beck gave it a remarkably haunting vocal and brought it gravitas. Anyone who has seen Eternal Sunshine of the Spotless Mind should know why I chose this.


1. Otis Redding – “Try a little tenderness”

Otis took a rather dull old Bing Crosby song, probably listened to what Aretha did with it, and then took it to a whole ‘nother level. So much more soul, so much energy. Just a remarkable cover song, and perhaps the best example of the art of re-interpretation.

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Advertising is dead? Depends on your definition.

Some clever people think that advertising isn’t working on the internet.

In a sense they’re right. Advertising is broken and needs to be re-invented. We need to create discussion. We need to add value. We need to do things that matter.

I was reminded by a tweet from @faris that advertising is an old word and has not always meant what it does now.

Originating from the Latin Ad Vert, it originally meant: “to turn one’s attention”.

Since people are increasingly ignoring traditional advertising, we have to find news ways of “turning attention” on the web. The way to get people’s attention in this most Darwinian of environments is to earn it be creating genuine value. This can be usefulness (think Google Maps and the value it brings to so many other sites) or simply great, entertaining content that stands out even in a content cesspool.

Where does it leave the media who have relied on the ad break to fund their content? Well, maybe they have to become the creators of the adverts, just as Saturday Night Live did.

When I tune in to that show, I don’t want to be interrupted by ads that are less funny, but I am interested in their take on advertising Pepsi. Would this work again? Does this constitute a “sell-out” on the part of the show? I’m not sure yet.

Another example is National Geographic. They have great content, and awesome content creators (especially their photographers). and a bunch of different ways to bring that content to life across multiple channels (print, tv, web, even now an awesome retail space). But I learnt recently that they also have a “creative services” unit, which will help harness these multiple content possibilities and media formats in association with the right brands. For a price, of course.

So are professional content creators the ad men of the future? How else do they monetise their skill-set when no one wants to see ad breaks anymore?

So ad breaks and banners may be in trouble. But Creating value including compelling content together with the true professionals, and “adverting” people’s attention in a more worthwhile way is here to stay.

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we are living in an analog world

People often pigeonhole what my team does as Digital Marketing. It’s a term that seems to cover all PC and mobile-based web marketing. In contrast, there is an ATL team, a BTL team, a retail team etc etc.

My team mates have started to refer to all these “non-digital” practices as Analog Marketing. It sounds ludicrous (which is the point) and obviously paints a picture of outdated thoughts and technologies, which suits us.

But a few days ago it dawned on me that, actually, we live in an Analog world, and that as good marketers we should remember this.

Analog data is continuous. Good marketing is now aware of the continous conversations that exist on the internet, and activities should be born to live, not born to die.

Analog has unwanted noise. With as many as 5000 advertising messages per day, good marketers have to accept noise too. In such a noisy environment, shouting louder won’t work. Instead, we have to draw people in with something of genuine value, and get people to voluntarily block out the noise and give you their undivided attention.

Also, no good marketing stays digital for long. For example, ESPN showed this great Youtube clip on TV, then did their own great remix/response, which of course ended up back on Youtube: Digital to Analog back to Digital.

Also, it’s easy to forget that 4 million unique users of Twitter in December means less than 0.1% global penetration rate. Similarly for all the talk of online buzz, 93% of word of mouth happens offline (although people who research online are more likely to have these offline discussions)

So, as much as we tend to think everything is becoming digital, it might be a good idea to remember that Life will always, actually, be lived in Analog.

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Good is the new best.

Seth says that a “good” product is the worst thing you can be given as a marketer.

As often is the case, Seth is being idealistic and antagonistic to illicit response.

Clearly, nobody who has ethics wants to market bad products. However, being given a good but apparently unexceptional product is in fact the ultimate challenge for the ethical marketer. How do you build a tribe for a product that is not obviously exceptional? How do you persuade others that there is merit in believing in this product as opposed to others, even if it is only good enough? Finding the remarkable in the apparently mundane takes skill and passion and an understanding of what turns people on.

Being given a remarkable product is far worse situation for a marketing professional: since the product basically sells itself, the most you can hope for is that you don’t mess things up too badly. And where’s the fun in that?

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5 reasons why corporate websites are not dead

There was a time when having a web presence was enough for a corporation.

Clearly that is no longer the case, and some are saying that there is little need for the brochurewear that exists currently, and that it should be replaced by social tools.

But I think that web sites as brochures are going to be here a while longer, for the following reasons:

1. Blogs are actually not the ideal way to organise information. Posts listed by date (albeit with a decent search facility) are good for the very latest news, but it is difficult to quickly find information on a range of products that have been released over a period of time on a blog. Finding such a range of information is often the primary reasons to visit a corporate blog.

2. It’s too early to dive head first into social tools for company sites. Participation is growing all the time, but we would do well to remember the 90-9-1 rule: websites designed for the Creators will marginalize the Lurkers. A corporate site has a duty to the people who do not want to participate, but want clear, well-structured information about the product.

3. Honest opinion is essential in the purchase process. Posting negative reviews to a corporate site is laudable in terms of transparency, and may even be the first stage towards accepting that every brand has a dark side (which may be essential to recognize if we are to be authentic). However, is a corporate web site really the best place for consumers to go to get the unfiltered opinion? It is my belief that corporations will always filter the information available on their web site: it would be irrational (self-harming even?) to do otherwise. Buyer beware.

4. Realistically, changes at large corporations take time. The number of stakeholders involved in maintaining corporate sites is huge. Many people “own” part of the site, and are averse to dramatic changes in the section that means most to them. Again, self-interest, and to a certain extent ignorance of the possibilities, will hinder any chances to change.

5. Corporations do not have a personal voice, and therefore most corporate blogs suck. Corporations are a collection of individuals. Individuals should want to have their own space to express their opinions, which will of course be tempered by their employment situation, but will not have to go through the rigorous legal checks – unlike everything on an official corporate site.

In essence, I am arguing that a corporate site that is just brochurewear is an important communication tool. As long as their is implicit understanding between consumer and corporation that this is the corporation’s attempt to display all the key information while making things the products and services look their best, then this is fine as it is. You shouldn’t judge a book by its cover, but you may look for user reviews of books you like the look of.

Social tools are then used by real people (including employees of that corporation) to discuss the products and services with which they are involved. It is my belief that people lead the tribe, not brands. Brands are at best social objects, i.e. socially relevant topics of conversation. People should get involved with communities, and marketing can do its best to stoke the fires of conversation. And if your corporation doesn’t have people able to connect with social media and lead a tribe, well then, perhaps you don’t have the right people any more.

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