Tag Archives: Strategy

Giving your Social Content “LEGS”

Renowned ‘social media guru’ Gary Vaynerchuk has released a book called Jab, Jab, Jab, Hook. The basic principle is that your attempts at selling in social media will not be successful if you have not spent time ‘softening your target up’ with jabs first. A boxer who keeps going for the knock-out punch all the time will not be very successful, as it is too easy to avoid his wild swings. Similarly, if all you do is jab, then you won’t ever get the knockout punch (the hook).

I agree with his principles, I just think the analogy is too aggressive, and doesn’t really expand on what the jabs and hooks should be.

So I worked on my own version, which I called:

“Giving your social content LEGS (Listen, Engage, Give, Sell)


It’s essential that you start with listening, to understand the people with whom you want to build relationships. There are great tools available now to help with this, but really Twitter and Google search and some good old fashioned effort can get you there too.


Once you have been listening for some time and you feel ready, start by engaging with your prospects. Find common points of interest, ask questions, things that will encourage conversation and relationships and all that good stuff.


Give something. Add some real value. By now you should have worked out what your potential customers are trying to achieve. So help them achieve it, using your own social platforms or other means at our disposal. They will love your for it, and want to repay you.

(then, and only then)


It’s clear that Social Media is becoming a great place to drive sales. But remember to keep Listening, Engaging and Giving, so that you don’t become Spam.

Tagged , , , ,

The POSSE media model

It’s been a few years since I posted the original Own, Bought and Earned media model and the slightly updated version a little while later.

Although it is still a good way to think through your media options, it does feel as though the model is a bit too simple nowadays.

So I have come up with a new one, called the POSSE media model. I’ll explain it below the diagram:

The POSSE media model is built on two basic levels of activity: to produce and distribute content. The better you do these two things (and the more it is based on listening and understanding your audience) the more media exposure you will earn.

Produce content. Can be classed as Owned and/or Social

  • Owned

This is the media you have (more-or-less) complete control over, e.g. a corporate web-site, or a retail store.

  • Social

This refers to branded social media presence such as Facebook, Twitter, YouTube, Vimeo. Social platforms that give you a chance to build a presence as a brand. Note that you do not have much control over these in terms of functionality, and the terms of the service can change at any point. (Steve Sponder calls this Borrowed media, which makes sense but I think overstates the transience of these networks. Also I think Social works as a term for now at least, as it is widely understood by people).

  • Overlap of Social + Owned

This is at least two things:

1. Brand-generated platforms or communities specifically designed for customers to co-create and collaborate with brands. (e.g. Dell’s IdeaStorm and Starbuck’s MyStarbucksIdea.) (what Brian Solis calls “Shared” media)

2. Own content such as videos that are the fuel for a brand’s social channels. You do have complete control over the format of your own video (within reason) but the video ultimately boosts other media owners’ site visits. They may also place ads before or after your content without asking your permissions, for example.

Distribute content: can be classified as Paid and/or Seeded

  • Paid

Media placements that you have paid for. Think SEM, banners, sponsorships. It can also be “traditional” media placements such as TV, Print, Outdoor. Paid media is still important, especially if you want a lot of people to see a fairly consistent message about you.

  • Seeded

This is referring to seeding of content among “influencers”. PR agencies, or WOM agencies like 1000heads, can help to build these relationships, identifying who to speak to and how to persuade them to feature your content. Sometimes these will be the people with the biggest reach, but often those people are deluged with requests. So instead, the seeding often happens with brand advocates, people who are genuinely fans of your product or service, or at least people who have shown a previous interest in products like yours in the past. This helps with the credibility and authenticity of their post(s).

  • Overlap of Paid + Seeded

This is where I would put things such as sponsored stories on Facebook, or Twitter’s promoted products, both of which cost money and are based on advertising to people’s social graph. It is interesting that social-media agencies are the ones who are picking up on this, whereas traditional media agencies are struggling with it. “Paid seeding” is also possible using partners such as GoViral who have a network of video sites, or by paying YouTube to feature your video to its users to give it an initial push and get it noticed.

If you do all of the above well, you get some “Earned Media”

This is people posting and talking about your product and its advertising. If you do things well with your own media, choose and manage your social presences wisely, seed to the right people at the right time, and perhaps pay to get noticed by more people, then you should hopefully earn media too. It will give your content extra push (distribution), and you will have earned it so these will be considered the most authentic voices of all. But you cannot guaranteed the message at all, so a lot of what is distributed may be unrelated to your intended communications. Really, positive earned media is a measure of how interesting your content is and how well you distributed it.

Why “POSSE”?

Well, acronyms are always cool, aren’t they?

But in this case, it serves a second purpose. New media techniques such as these are about people, and they need skilled people to make them happen. You can’t have one person spending a load on one advert and expect it to succeed like it used to. Instead, you need to hire many people, with new and diverse skills: editorial content, community management, search engine optimization, blogger relationship management, UX experts, etc etc. In other words, you can’t fix this problem by throwing money at it; to succeed in this new media landscape, you need the right kind of POSSE.


– This thinking was hugely influenced by the original Nokia digital posse (you know who you are), plus lots of people who commented online and in person about my original post.
Brian Solis, who’s Brandsphere is very smart and taught me a lot, but maybe a little complicated for me.
Steve Sponder, who made the excellent PONBE model which clearly influenced this model.

Tagged , , , , , , ,

Create value and the profits will come.

According to the classic economic theory, the social responsibility of business is to create profits. But if making profit is your only reason to be in business and guides all your decisions then – ironically – you are not likely to create a very profitable business.

Profits are one Key Performance Indicator, which, in association with other parts of a decent balanced scorecard of measurements, show you that the approach you are taking is working. Profits are the natural by-product of a successful strategy.

But if you focus on the profit itself, then you are going to think short-term. You are going to make decisions that harm your customer relationships because they are inherently selfish. You will never build anything resembling loyalty; the goodwill that makes your business more valuable than its basic assets (ask an accountant for proof) will never grow.

Instead business is about value creation. The ultimate questions are: how can we create more value for the customer, and how much is that worth to them?

Social Media can be a useful tool in building value and relationships. But it can also just become a cost of doing business, an additional marketing channel, which doesn’t really provide any additional value to your customers.

Similarly retail environments can be just a place to close the deal, a final funnel to fulfil all that built-up demand. Or they can be places that focus on building value and relationships, where people flock to not only buy at the lowest price, but to feel informed and involved and *valued*.

So keep an eye on your profits, but make decisions based on how you can increase the tangible and intangible value you provide your customers. Your brand will thrive, your share price and profits will grow, and your customers will thank you.

Tagged , , , ,

Social Media and Competitive Advantage

I have said before that you don’t need a social media strategy, you need a strategy. Social Media is one possible way to create the value that is needed to have a competitive business.

Chris Kirubi, Chairman of Coca Cola Nairobi, agrees with me: “You don’t need a social media strategy – You need a brand strategy that leverages social media. Don’t get off the brand strategy just because there’s a new communications channel, that’s how you lose the plot as a brand. Technology is the tail, not the dog.”

Fundamentally, business still primarily exist to make profit, and they still need a strategy that defines how they intend to do that. Their strategy should essentially rest on how they create value in a difficult-to-copy way.

30 years ago, Michael Porter wrote about the three ways to achieve Competitive Advantage: cost leadership, differentiation, and focus. 11 years later, he simplified this further, saying: “Competitive advantage can be divided into two basic types: lower costs than rivals, or the ability to differentiate and command a premium price that exceeds the extra costs of doing so. Any superior performing firm has achieved one type of advantage, the other or both”

When considering a Social Media program, maybe we should analyse it in terms of these three strategic pillars:

Cost Leadership

Social Media is one way to achieve cost savings and operational excellence. Twitter can be a cheaper way to service customers. Even better would be building an army of advocates who like nothing more than to answer your questions in social spaces for you, which is a more scalable solution.

The cost of marketing can also be reduced using social media, as you can earn media. A Facebook message that reaches a million people can be a more cost-effective way to get a message out than buying media. (Although note that earning media has less guarantees than buying media, so a healthy combination is optimal.)


I think it is possible to use Social Media to augment your product offering, and actually provide a better experience for your customers. Chris Brogan calls it Guest Experience Design. Whether this be solving people’s problems via Twitter and thereby reducing churn, or providing useful well-timed info to customers so that they make the most out of the product, the key is using social media to actually increase value to your customer. This should lead to higher sales, or possibly to the ability to charge a price premium.


This is where Social Media is at its best. Here you build a community , a metaphorical bonfire, to which you can get close and serve better than anyone else; some people have defined this as Customer Intimacy.

The important thing here is that you have the right people at your bonfire i.e. the people who are likely to buy more of your product. Fiskars did this brilliantly with their scapbooking community The Fiskateers.

But, in my opinion, this is why Pepsi Refresh Everything has not increased sales: although it gathered millions of “likes”, the community it was building had no interest in soft drinks; in fact this charity-concious group may have been less likely than most to buy sugary drinks. So build a community, but make sure it is one that will want your product.

Of course, you can also focus on a community who’s only common objective is to buy your product. The special offers provided by the likes of @Delloutlet are effective: in simple terms, if you deliver good, bespoke offers via a channel such as Twitter, you will get followers, clicks, and (most importantly) sales. Just as you would if they were on an email list. Note that there is nothing particularly “social” about this use of social media!

Question to ask yourself

If your social media program is not helping you achieve one of these three competitive advantages, then perhaps it’s time to question whether you really need it.

After all, Apple is doing just fine without a Twitter channel.

Tagged , , ,

The Dandelion Approach.

At a summit last year, I heard Rory Sutherland discussing the idea that in advertising, we should act like dandelions. I’ve since seen Faris talk about it a bit, and traced it back to this article by Cory Doctorow.

The analogy does have merit here are 5 lessons we can learn from dandelions.

1. Get lots of content out there.

Cory tells us that a single dandelion may produce 2,000 seeds per year. Most will fail, but that’s not important to a dandelion; it just wants to be sure that every single opportunity for reproduction is exploited.

On the web, it is almost impossible to predict what will be have a large “earned” impact. I freely admitted that I would not have predicted the success of the T-mobile dance clip, which to me was just a copy of things already done on the web. But it is clearly a success, with over 16 million views now, and is now one of the first things you find if you search for T-mobile on Youtube (which is the default search engine for some kids nowdays btw).

Some companies have tried to release multiple things simultaneously, and just hope that one of them succeeds. See this case study about Officemax.

2. Capitalise on fertile areas

As my good friend Juuso Myllyrinne pointed out to me, if we act like dandelions, then we perhaps fail to capitalise on successes. The randomness of the approach could mean that we are oblivious to market feedback.

But I think the analogy still holds: Some dandelion seed fall on particularly fertile ground. When this happens, dandelions reproduce quickly and plentifully.

Same with creativity: when something lands on a fertile creative patch, it is possible to take advantage of this situation and capitalise. And as Ben Mason over at 101 Culture says, organisations need to listen more and then be able to react quickly.

3. You’re not in charge. (No one is.)

Just as dandelions can’t control the wind, Brands can’t expect to control the ways in which content and stories will be reproduced, altered, improved upon.

Instead, we should actively encourage reproduction and remixing: In total, the high-quality consumer-generated Cadbury’s gorilla remixes got more views than the awesome original.

4. Make things easy to spread.

Dandelions make it incredibly easy for their seeds to fly. Any wind, from any direction is enough. Don’t restrict the ways your content can be shared.

“Send-to-friend” is not really the answer either: sometimes just making it possible to link to something – and not burying it under pages of Flash – can be enough.

5. Be a valuable part of your ecosystem

Dandelions aren’t looking to win or destroy others; they are trying to survive by being a valuable part of an ever-evolving ecosystem.

Be valuable. Keep your content flowing. Get people to create it with you.

Reach places that you could never reach alone.

Be part of something bigger than just you.

Tagged , , ,

You don’t need a Social Media Strategy.

(You just need a strategy)

Right, so now I’m glad that we all agree that there is no such thing as social media.

And that we also agree that everything is social media.

So, we should move on to my next bone of contention:

There is no such thing as a “social media strategy”.

You do of course need a good strategy.

And you definitely need clear goals.

And one of the best ways for you to reach your shiny, clearly-defined goals will probably be to make use of some of the kick-ass new social tools like Twitter and Facebook.

But they don’t need their own separate strategy.

Having a social media strategy is kind of like having a paper-and-pen strategy.

And that just don’t make no sense.

Tagged , ,

Some thoughts about the PESH model

I’ve been working with my boss Arto Joensuu on what we are calling the PESH model. The idea was to find a way of mapping out the different roles that Brands need to fulfill from a digital marketing perspective.

PESH model

PESH model

It seems to cover most of what we want to do at Nokia from a digital marketing perspective:

Particpate (Twitter, blogs.nokia.com etc)

Enable (Ovi Services, Royal Artist Club)

Sell (Nokia Online Store)

Help (Nokia Support Discussions)

Here are a couple of my observations about the model now that we’ve had some time to map things against it (we’re mapping everything against it, not just the examples above):

Better balanced

The model allows you to accept that not every activity and every venue needs to do everything. For instance, it tells you that a corporate site does not need to be a community, and that a participatory experience does not need to lead to direct sales. Rather than trying to do everything on one site or with one type of social media presence, instead you can build a well-balanced set of initiatives that fit with what you are trying to achieve.

Sales/supplying is vitally important for a business, but there are times to do this and times to not. Dell has used Twitter for offers and generated a lot of sales, but that does not mean that Twitter should be used exclusively for sales. As Dan Ariely has pointed out, social behaviour and sales do not often sit well together; separating the two can help people understand what your intentions are.


In terms of fitting this approach with objectives, it is important that metrics are mapped to each segment, so that you can tell how much each is adding to your business goals.

Advocacy should absolutely be one of your goals, and one good way of measuring this is the Net Promoter Score. We’ve re-drawn the original model now with Participant and Helper on the left hand side which could be seen as representing the NPS: low-scoring Detractors at the bottom and Advocates at the top.

(One interesting side note is that Detractors can, if managed well, become your biggest Advocates: their overly negative response is often indicative of disappointment which shows them to be emotionally involved with the Brand, which is a good thing. Handle that well and you can create advocacy)

Customer Service = Marketing

“Helper” is not an obvious role for a traditional marketer, but this is one of the most important quadrants, in my opinion. As I have said before, and Faris has also said recently, helping customers is great marketing. It should not be seen as a separate activity done by the Support Team. Great customer service is the most remarkable thing you can do, it makes people happy, and causes your marketing to have Emotional Density.

Is the PESH a model only useful for “digital”?

On Arto’s blog post, you can read the typically insightful comments from Asi about how it should be tested and extended. Although the model was originally built to map a brand’s social media activities, Asi also believes that the model could perhaps be used for a broader view on what we in marketing should be doing (this is consistent with Asi’s view that essentially everything is now social media).

Anyway, we’re still working on this, so input is welcomed!

Tagged , , , ,
%d bloggers like this: