Happy Social Media Week!

You could be missing more than just great talks if you weren't aware of Social Media Week…  It is Social Media Week this week. If you knew that, great. If you are attending one of the free or paid for events, even better. But, if you are in a marketing role and this is news to you then consider this a wake up call.

Every marketing team in every industry needs to be actively monitoring social media, even if they are not themselves proactive in social channels. This is because your customers, whoever that might include, use social media and have the potential to post about you. It is not just for protection though that you should pay attention. Opportunities can occur via social media. I gain something new almost everyday from someone in my network. It might just be a good pub fact or an unexpected smile at a great photo that snaps me out of a grump, but it just as easily might be a new business lead or some insight that helps me be better at my job.

That's why Social Media Week should not be passing you by. Just search for #SMW14 or #SMWLDN on Twitter and you will pick out something helpful, I'm sure.

I want to share a recent example to reinforce my point, and I do have a point I promise.

We started working with a niche broker recently to generate content and distribute it across Twitter and LinkedIn. While researching and developing the strategy for them, we discovered that a Tweet had been published about them back in 2010 saying how great they were. This Tweet went unnoticed for four years until we ran a simple search on the platform for brand mentions.

Now, it has obviously not caused any harm to their brand having this post floating around the World Wide Web, but there were a number of opportunities missed because this wasn't picked up.

1. Make them feel special - if someone compliments you, it is courteous to return the sentiment. When Ryan in the OC told Marisa he loved her and she replied with "Um, thanks" how do you think that made him feel? Rubbish, that's what! (Yes I did just reference the that bad?!) So our client missed out on the chance to appreciate their customer's comments and further strengthen their relationship.

2. Share the love - a public thumbs up can be retweeted and shared so other customers and prospects can see it. It can also be sent around employees to show they are doing a good job. Any extra benefit was lost by this tweet not being picked up.

3. Ambassadors are hard to come by - to have a customer actively praise you is rare, especially for a financial services brand. Therefore, you need to grasp these moments with both hands and shout it from the rooftops. Many of your 'fans' on social media are passive. Once you find an ambassador, it is essential that they are nurtured to maintain the relationship. A recommendation from them costs nothing. Advertising, marketing, PR and sales activity, however, definitely cost more than nothing.

Yesterday, I attended Five Ways to Drive Social Value Across the Customer Journey, a Social Media Week event run by Rob Blackie, Director of Social at OgilvyOne. I found it reassuring that much of Rob's content confirmed the theories and processes that my team and I already apply on a daily basis. However, this notion of the fan to ambassador ratio within followers was something that got me thinking. With 22% of fans being ambassadors and 55% of ambassadors not even following your social media, the time to start thinking about the importance of these relationships is now.

So my point is...if you work in marketing, you simply have to be more active on social media even if you do not want to post content. Become one of the +300 million active LinkedIn users,  +270 million monthly active Twitter users and +200 million Instagram users. That’s quite a lot of people…they must be onto something! It is only by taking more of an active interest in social media that you will get more comfortable with the channels, spot opportunities and protect the reputation of your brand.

If you have totally missed Social Media Week, don't worry - every week is social media week for us and we'd be happy to meet up for a coffee to talk about how your business could make use of the various channels.

Marketing your company through social media

Lamb CMC's essential tips to consider when thinking about building a social media presence for your company.  Probably the fastest growing area of our business, both in interest and actual work has been communication services involving social media. We have written a number of times here about how Linkedin and Twitter need to be considered as a key element of your external brand positioning, so we won’t preach here, but rather assume that if you are reading this then you have made that leap of faith to give it some serious consideration.


So what should be in your mind when thinking about how it should be delivered within your organisation?

Well the very first thing is to realise is that this is a strategy that will by its nature spread across the whole your organisation. It cannot nor ever will be delivered as a single thread that will not influence all else. It is a public broadcasting medium, therefore you need to appreciate that what is said here could extend many times beyond your direct following or networks. People sharing or retweeting could potentially give it a huge outreach that will overlap all your other communication channels. So think organisation-wide and develop a concerted strategy before pressing send.


Know your goals

Most think that it is the size of your community that is the key aim. Of course that is important, but knowing what you want to achieve with that community is of much greater importance; is it to drive brand awareness, traffic back to your website or is it perhaps sales? Your social communications strategies must accord to these goals and always have them in mind.


What is your ROI?

Whether managed internally or externally there will be a cost and with that you need to have the measurements to know that the campaign is meeting your goals. Whether short, medium or ultimate aims, be clear about how it will be measured.


Should I worry about Follower numbers?

In a word, no! It is more about having influencers – people that are trusted and have engaged followers themselves. Look out for bloggers, acknowledged experts, interesting “celebrities” in your sector and active tweeters; all of whom can help spread and evangelise your messages.


Look out for other communities to be active within

There are some obvious channels to use, Twitter & LinkedIn being two here, plus Facebook, as with its new Timeline platform it finally makes some sense for businesses to profile on it. But there are equally many other communities that have been created to be shared amongst like-minded people. Look them out and get involved as you never know who might be on them.


Klout score analysis

Understand the data

There are a plethora of tools on the internet that can help you delve into the effectiveness of your social media presence. Everyone has their favourites; here at Lamb we use HootSuite  as the dashboard for monitoring the various accounts we have. Aside of the usual timelines, mentions, messages, etc it has a great search tool for looking at Twitter trends as well as being able to tell you when and how many times a tweet posted has been retweeted, thereby showing the outreach of it. We use Klout and its inbuilt scoring matrix to gauge how effective our accounts are. Its algorithms assess amongst other things, your activity, the quality of your followers and the outreach of your tweets to build a number score. Very simply the higher the number the greater your perceived Twitter clout or Klout is considered. It also shows how it goes up and down, which can be a great indicator of any specific messaging done. SocialBro is great for lifting the bonnet of your Twitter account and seeing who’s following you, who they really are, how active they are and how influential they are for you.


Make everything social

Ultimately one of the prime motivations of all this is to raise awareness. A big part of which is to drive traffic to your site and likewise raise its profile in the Google search rankings. This is now almost entirely driven by how active and contemporary your site is, therefore it pays huge attention to the social media content within it. Don’t miss that trick then and make sure your site captures and displays that content where Google will find it.

Don't fear the cookie monsters

There’s been a lot of panic around recently due to a change in the UK online cookie privacy law that became compulsory in May 2012. This has got a lot of people worried and confused as to whether their website is complying or not within this new law. So what is all this cookie stuff about?  

What's the beef?

In a nutshell, a new law now requires all websites to ask visitors for permission to store and access cookies on their computers.

There was an EU ePrivacy directive passed back in 2009 which in itself isn't a law but from which each EU country is required to make their own enforceable laws. The UK brought its new cookie law into action in 2011 but gave a years grace period which ended in May 2012, which is probably why you've recently noticed more messages on various websites asking you to accept cookies on to your machine. Prior to this websites were allowed to automatically place cookies on your computer as long as your browser preferences were set to accept them.


Cookie Cookie Cookie

What the hell is a cookie anyway?

A cookie is a small file that allows information to be sent back and forth between a website and a user’s browser so that websites work smoother and the user gets a better, uninterupted web experience. This can contain information that helps with things like remembering login passwords so that you are automatically logged in next time you visit a site. Other uses of cookies are storing a user's preferences, google analytics details, access/authentication, identification of a session, remembering shopping cart contents, etc.

Your cookies can also pass on information from one site that you visit to another, for example, if you are logged into a social network like facebook and you visit a news website your browser will realise you are logged into facebook and allow you to share a news story to your facebook friends directly from the news site without asking you to log in again.

This same method can be used for targeted advertising which allows websites to see what sort of sites you have been visiting previously and tailor the adverts displayed to you according to what you are interested in.


What's this new law trying to achieve?

The principle purpose of this law is to protect privacy even when the information collected via a cookie is not necessarily personally identifiable. The issue around consent is about transparency and helping the user know what information is being collected and by whom.


ico Cookie Law Guidance

What does the law say?

Regulations already existed dating back to 2003 which stated that you had an obligation to tell users how your site uses any cookies and give them information on how they can opt out if they objected. This was usually contained within a privacy policy page typically placed in the footer of a website.

However as of 26 May 2011* new regulations state that:

1) All websites must provide clear and comprehensive information about the purposes of the storage of or access of information via any cookies they are using; and

2) Website owners must obtain consent to store a cookie on a user or subscribers device when they visit a website.

Essentially the law is very similar to the 2003 regulation with the main difference being that whereas previously you just had to provide an option to opt out, the new law now requires every visitor to a website to actively ‘consent’ i.e. opt in or opt out of cookies being set for their web session.

It is this active step of flagging up a message or a pop-up box that has got the web industry annoyed as it is disruptive to the user's experience on most websites they will visit. Considering that 92% of websites use cookies to varying degrees you can see why developers might feel this is annoying but the fact is that this is the law now and unless they are going to stop using cookies then they will need to comply or ignore the law.

* The regulations were enacted in May 2011, however a year’s grace was granted for implementation meaning the deadline for compliance was 26 May 2012.


What could this mean for you?

Generally we would say that there is no great cause for panic for many B2B websites like those of our clients as they tend to not rely on cookies too much past the analytics use. It is something that should be implemented into your site alongside any other updates you are performing. Most sites can be amended quite simply to display a message asking for permission to store cookies with a simple accept or refuse button for customers to click on.

If your site is selling anything or storing details of users then you should definitely be looking to comply as a matter of urgency as the ico (Information Commissioner's Office) has the power of fining up to £500,000 (though there is suggestion that this would only be for when serious fraud has been committed causing substantial damage or loss to the user).


So, simple isn't it

We've tried to give you the edited version and keep it fairly simple and in layman's terms here. Obviously there is a lot of information surrounding anything like this and ico are the official body responsible for handling this new regulation. They have prepared a PDF containing the full details regarding the cookie law and this can be downloaded here.

There is also a FAQs video presented by Dave Evans from ico explaining what companies should be doing in order to comply with the new regulations which you can view here.


As a final note, if any of our Lamb client's out there are reading this and want to discuss any potential changes that may need to be implemented on their website then please contact Carl on 020 7247 2233.

Twitter in action

As regular readers of our blog will know, we are social media enthusiasts and have made it a key part of our work to try and show why every brand should at least contemplate its use. I think it would be fair to say that most people see the benefits of LinkedIn as a 21st century addition to the old fashioned networking, but not so many see the benefits of something as eclectic as Twitter, with its fast moving, up to second micro-blogging. It really is a medium where the art is to be in constant touch with it and to actively participate, rather than sit on the sidelines as a watcher. Part of our social media service delivery is to manage the Twitter accounts for some of our clients that use them and we were recently involved in an event that we believe shows the real worth of Twitter.

One of our clients, Howe & Co is probably the best regarded human rights law firm in the UK, if not internationally. They have represented in many high profile cases, not least of which the settlement rights of the Ghurkas, publicly led by Joanna Lumley. With their status, their Twitter account (which only started a month or so back), whilst small in number, counts some highly influential people, one of which is the MP Peter Carroll, himself vocal on all manner of human rights issues.

At around 9.30pm one evening a week or so ago, Mr Carroll posted the following tweet:

"@relresuk @realmissfiona I would think that the lawyers @HoweAndCo could help with this. They fought for the Gurkhas & they are brilliant"

Because we use some of the many social media monitoring tools, we were immediately alerted and responded to the tweet in the name of Howe & Co, inviting some direct follow up. We also forwarded the tweet on to Howe & Co, who similarly responded immediately.

Cutting what could be a long story of the next few hours, the plea for help was on behalf of Jane Worroll, the daughter that had exposed the abuse of her mother Maria at the Ash Court Care Home. As part of an employment tribunal by an ex-employee she was being summonsed to provide her videos in defence of the ex-employee. For obvious reasons, she found this whole idea horribly distressing, especially as the summons had been delivered earlier that evening for her to present them the next morning.

With social networks and Twitter especially sharing the news, it had come to the attention of The Relatives & Residents Association, who support, inform and campaign on behalf of older people in care & who had worked closely upon this case, TV Presenter Fiona Philips, who was involved in the original Panorama programme as well as the subsequent news coverage and as already said, MP Peter Carroll. Adding Howe & Co into the equation it meant that some solid advice was given as well as some much needed moral support. With this in place, Jane Worroll received the help she needed and with the support given, Howe & Co made a firm connection with the charity.

Pleasingly this episode was recognised by Fiona Philips and she reported it and the support given by Howe & Co in her regular newspaper column in the Daily Mirror.

I will leave you to ponder the respective merits here, but for a simple act, well executed and some intelligent thinking by Howe & Co about social media, their whole worth of their business has been lifted into a hugely positive place of its own.


If you'd like to follow either us or Howe and Co. on Twitter then our links are below:

Lamb CMC

Howe and Co.

10 Tips for effective brand guidelines

Lamb CMC's list of their top 10 tips for creating effective brand guidelines.

We get asked a lot about brand development and guidelines. So rather than posting again about how to create an engaging brand (which Mark touched upon briefly in a previous post), this post is a quick guide to 10 of our top tips to producing brand guidelines.

A well considered document will ensure the guidelines are effective at communicating your brand and describing how to produce it consistently without killing the ability to be creative with it.


1. Who are the guidelines for?

Consider who is going to be receiving, reading and using these guidelines and tailor the content accordingly. Write with language to engage that audience. Steer clear of jargon and try not to assume technical knowledge if it is going out to all levels within the company. Consider the benefits of multiple versions of guidelines; a technical production reference, a quick guide one sheet for logo and colour use, more indepth guidelines including brand personality, tone of voice, etc.


2. Keep it simple

We appreciate that this is easier said than done but if you want your guidelines to be embraced by all then you need to ensure that what you are explaining is easily understood. The extra time it takes to consider how to simplify the use of your brand now will save a lot more time in future; time that would be spent amending the guidelines retrospectively to verify what you meant originally.


3. Design the guidelines in your brand style

Make sure the document you are producing is truely representative of your business and embracing your brand. If your brand identity is a quirky, young, energetic feeling then make sure your guidelines aren't stuffy and dictorial.


4. Show clear examples of your brand in use

This tip is often surprisingly overlooked in many brand guidelines documents we see. How better to explain how to use your brand than to show it in various real-life examples as you intended.


5. Consistency

Make sure when explaining your brand that it is consistent in how it recommends use of your company's brand. If you are contradicting yourself every other page then what hope will the reader have of understanding how they are supposed to use your brand.


6. Keep tracks of where your brand is used

This tip is more specific to the visual identity aspect of your brand but worth including in your brand guidelines. If there are ever any changes to your logo, colours, font, etc. you need to be able to track back wherever the previous version has been used so that you can replace with the updated version. Examples could include stationery, website, intranet, aggregator sites, affiliate marketing, social networks, email footers, presentations, document templates, signage, etc.


7. Make your materials available

The number one reason we see for inconsistent use of a brand identity is down to staff hoarding out-of-date materials and not having access to a library of correct files. Eliminate this issue by setting up a download section on your website where all logos, current guidelines, imagery, etc. are stored and are easily available to all. Make it password protected if you must but trust us, it's a lot easier to update one set of logos online compared to replying to hundreds of individual emails requesting these marketing materials from various people in your company.


8. Involve your staff

If you want your staff to embrace your new brand then they need to truly feel like it is theirs. They need to understand why and how you have developed their brand and they need to understand how to use it going forward. Form a project team consisting of staff from all levels within your company who might encounter the guidelines and get regular feedback from them during guidelines development. Do they understand the document? What improvements do they suggest would help with the guidelines? What can you do as a company that will make it easier for your staff to use the brand? Involving your people on the ground and getting their feedback can throw up some great issues that would never have been appreciated within the marketing department alone.


9. Have a sign-off process

Assign a brand manager within the company who has been involved with the brand development process and understands your brand inside out. Stipulate that all new creative should be approved by this person and give them a 48 hour turn around period to allow this. This is especially important in the early days of a new brand while staff and external agencies are still getting to grips with any new styles. By doing this you will be able to ensure that you are delivering a consistent and correctly applied brand message to all communications leaving your company.


10. Review your guidelines regularly

The aim of guidelines are to explain, advise and guide use and reproduction of your brand. That doesn't mean that your brand is set in stone from now to eternity. Your brand will continue to evolve and guidelines must be revisited and updated continually and then made available to all again. And to this end, make sure you include version numbers and not just on the front page. Ensure you include the document version number on every page incase the document ends up getting split and passed around internally which invariably it does.


 So to recap:

  1. Who are the guidelines for? Write them accordingly
  2. Keep it simple to understand
  3. Design the guidelines in your brand style
  4. Show clear examples of your brand in use
  5. Keep your instructions consistent
  6. Keep tracks of where your brand is used
  7. Make your materials available
  8. Involve your staff
  9. Have a sign off process
  10. Review your guidelines regularly


There is just one more thing... Involve the professionals early on

We really recommend consulting a professional branding service to help you with any brand creation, development or guidelines. The same issues come up again and again and we know what to look out for and how to avoid certain pitfalls with preemptive planning and briefing which will ensure your branding project runs smoothly and successfully.

Twitter - Can you afford to not be part of the conversation

We've all heard about the benefits of getting your business represented on Twitter and connecting to your network of customers but have you considered what the consequences of ignoring this social network might be? Potentially there could be a P.R. storm brewing around your company reputation while you are oblivious to it. We had a bit of bother here this week, when one of our clients, became the victim of some spurious tweeting as they had been erroneously identified as a company that has been making unsolicited calls about pursuing mis-sold PPI policies. I think we all know about these calls, texts & emails that are unwanted and intrusive. The details of this episode are of no more importance so we will spare names, etc. But it raised a very serious issue about reputation management if you have a Twitter/social media presence, as our client does or if you do not, which we feel is worthy of a few mentions here.

Shockingly, given that the company had been mis-identified, they became the victim of some brief but quite spiteful tweeting, which had it gone unnoticed, could have caused a nasty bump in their reputation. By its nature Twitter is at its best when breaking news and the story spreads fast and wide. As it was both we and they got on top of it and wrote a suitably worded email to the person that posted it, pointing out the error and demanding an apology. Which for the record was willingly given, the tweet deleted and an apology posted.

However it raises point number one. Twitter is a written medium in the public domain and as such is bound by all the same libel laws and protections as anything else similar, like a Facebook post, a comment on Linkedin or an email (where there is now strong legal precedent). It is therefore incumbent upon anybody posting anything that they remember this fact and think twice before submitting anything controversial.

On the flip side I think our client handled their own situation perfectly and responded straight away, made direct contact, politely pointed out the error and demanded the withdrawal which is point 2. In an environment like Twitter, necessary responses really must be thought through but as far as possible, immediate, time can quickly become an enemy.

What has really got me thinking though, is point 3. What had happened had our client not had a Twitter account and were blissfully unaware that a reputation fire was burning around them. The simple truth of social networks is that in reality there is no opt in or opt out, the only difference is if you are not active then you have zero control over the conversation, but if you are then you have the opportunity to be proactive and shape what is being said.

The statistics of what is posted on Twitter are staggering; 250 million tweets per day, over 100 million active Twitter users and if like me you are part of that community then you will see first hand how breaking news spreads instantaneously across it. Perhaps the most famous example being the posting of the amateur film when the plane came down in the Hudson River, or the death of Amy Winehouse beating the BBC to spread the sad news.

This subject is particularly relevant at the moment due to the news this week regarding the jailing of a student who made racially offensive comments about footballer Fabrice Muamba on Twitter. This is another example of how comments made online can be treated every bit as seriously and are governed by the same laws of libel as comments made in the press or elsewhere.

So I am pleased that our client has escaped the clutches of a bad press day this week but I am now just a wee bit more worried, nay paranoid about whatever else may have been missed. My advice, join the conversation and of course, make sure you use an expert to help you. As you know the Lamb door is always open for a cup of tea and a chat...