Kindled Meme

– exploring the purpose of connection


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Can BigCo be Social? Grant Thornton hope so

Grant Thornton have just done a good thing. They’ve messaged out to their staff that Social Media is something that they approve of and they have backed it up with a public video, here.

” Social Media at work is not only permitted and acceptable  – its expected and desirable”

GT are the auditors and conservers of the business world, so this is a big break-though and a shift that moves perceptions of Social Media from being time-wasting and a distracting activity to one that will grow the business.

Its no longer a thing that the MarCom guys do but one where the voice of the employees is actually a complement to the brand.

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GT are slow to have got to this point but I can imagine the journey and mind-shifting that has gone on internally to get there. Hats off to someone internally – thats effective influence and change.

Yet its not that they have pulled the cork out of a bottle of fizz and there is going to be 140-character chaos – they have given out some guidelines – they keep the guidance clear and the don’t peddle fear.

Respect confidentiality, respect copyright – “Please don’t use our logo – it implies you are our spokesman – you are probably not..”

All sensible.

They recognise that the voice of employees attracts other talent into GT.

We know “Like seeks like”. If GT is a diverse, innovative, visionary, action-focused place to be – the digital voice of the staff will show this and attract people with similar mindsets.

Will it stick?

Change is good but its always reinforced by some evidence and reflection.

I hope they blog 12 months down the road to say what they found/learnt/would-do-different – lots of their corporate clients would like to read that learning.

But will this stick? Is the risk of letting staff tweet and tumblr greater than the reward?

And will the noise of social distract from the focus and delivery that a corporate expects from its staff?

You are paying most of these guys in day rates – do you want to see Instagram pic’s of the expensive lunches they will bill you for at the end of the quarter? Or is sharing and connecting something we expect from talent – and we don’t begrudge them a meal

If you’d like to read about the impact Digital can have on a corporate career – I would recommend this from MIT Sloan and CapGemini

This is the Video from Grant Thornton on YouTube.

Thanks to @socialCube for sharing the Grant Thornton news and thanks to @sinclar300584 for sharing the CapGemini report, both via twitter.

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Twitter – the new graffiti?

This summer I headed out with the kids onto the south Oxfordshire downs and we headed to Waylands Smithy – its an old burial mound at the side of the Ridgeway – an ancient roadway that runs along the tops of the chalky downs – its been there for thousands of years – a sheep drovers way connecting rural with urban.

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At the burial mound the kids can run around the stones and in amongst the trees. They were pretty excited as I’d primed them during the 20 minute walk from the car that it was the home of Flibberty Gibbet – and talked about the giants that lived there during ancient times. Libby also found a ten pence piece inside the tomb – it was pretty exciting – she knew that Flibberty had left it there for her. I then had to hide some more money inside the stones as the boy had the hump that he hadn’t found any. I learnt that day that for around 50 pence with of 5p’s you can create magic for kids by staging a treasure hunt.

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While they played I took some pictures of the trees – specifically the way people had carved their names into them. This practice was all the rage when I was a kid – every small boy had a pocket knife and a “whitling stick”.

The Smithy is a protected ancient monument and its not right to carve the bark of the massive trees that surround it – but this had be done many years ago – often people date their graffiti and more than that the trees girth grows the letters fatten – you can see it was done years ago.

 

When we had that day out it was the same time that a guy was arrested for abusing Tom Daley on twitter (during Olympics) and a guy was arrested for threatening a terrorist attack on Robin Hood airport – both regrettable twitter events – but no doubt when the tweet was being rattled out they didn’t expect the 140 characters to have any real impact.

I dont think people or young kids have penknives in the same way these days and looking at the trees no one had gouged their name in to them for a couple of decades. I got thinking whether twitter was the new tree-graffitti – small bursts of words that capture a moment, shout out an identity and demand recognition in the world. Is there the same energy in the moment of creation?

Has the world of Victorinox Swiss Army knives been disrupted by the 140 Chars of twitter? And is a digital declaration safer than one carved out with a knife?

If you do go to south west Oxfordshire (where I live) do go to Waylands Smithy. Its a beautiful place – the downland always changes through the year – the landscape is very expansive and if you go up their on a mountain bike (without kids) you can head off deeper into the countryside – in some spots there are no roads, no pythons, no telegraph wires – it feels spookily remote. Silent, yet just north of the M4.

If you do go with your kids its a couple of mile round trip – they will be goosed on the way back. Make sure you have some treats and drinks in your backpack to bribe them to keep walking. I didn’t – it was hard work!

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Twitter feeds you need: but why?

Last week the The Observer – one the UK’s higher integrity newspapers – put out a list of the top twitter people to follow – it wasn’t based on ‘number of followers’ or klout, or any other vanity metrics – it simply asked a group of 50 notable UK twitterers who do they like following most. The list is here.

You can read it in many ways – as a source of new people to follow yourself, or as an insight into what makes the UK influencer people tick.

Looks like me –  I like him!

The first thing that is striking, is how people connect with people who are ‘like them’ – we have a tendency to ‘like the same’ – if you walk into a room of strangers we gravitate to people that feel familiar – they call it ‘homiphily’. Turns out Twiter is no different. Look how Gary Barlow follows hardworking and successful male celeb’s (‘status’ homophily), and how Diane Abbot identifies with people that are challenging the status quo and leading change for good and social justice (‘values’ homophily).

‘Like finds Like’.

The list has surprises too – did you know Alain De Boton (philosopher) sees Derren Brown as “One of the cleverest people of our time”?.

Mindgames?

But beyond this, the list also offers a view into peoples perceptions of what makes a good ‘twitterer’ – and raises questions for how business uses twitter?


What do we see?

The best way to see this is with a word cloud – bigger the word, bigger the theme – capturing the key adjectives and benefits people got from following their ‘favs’.

So what do we find?

Funny

Why did the mushroom have so many followers on twitter? …..because he was a fungi to be with.

In the UK we like funny – people being funny, people sharing humour, people ‘who crack me up’. But Funny is not just being a clown. We see ‘funny’ people are also human, inspiring, and admired. But this is the UK too – the country that is fuelled by quirky humour like the Boosh(@noelfielding11) , Milton Jones(@themiltonjones) and the Peep Show (@aroberwebb, @readdmitchell) – we can like the humour to be idiosyncratic, outrageous, and disturbing.

Have you read the tweets of @thetonypitts and @meganamram – its all so wrong! But funny.

This light hearted – yet much appreciated – side of twitter is at the core of twitter charm and way more ‘powerful’ than you’d think. In a busy life we know where to find the relief when we need it.

Wisdom

Thought Provoking, a sharp-mind with humility. As Jane Bruton says of @tonyparsonsuk “Sometimes poignant, sometimes funny, always thought-provoking. The wise man of Twitter.”

Opinionated

People like to see skin in the game. As Jay Rayner says of @marinaoloughlin “She’s endlessly bitter, cross and enthusiastic in equal measure.” Is it the passion and the willingness to stand out that people like?

Foodie-Links

This was a surprise for me – so many people enjoy info on restaurants and recipes. Are tips for the perfect night out or guidance for a dinner party the greatest gift we can give? Whether it is Boy George appreciating @katemagic as “a raw-food guru who keeps me up to date with delicious recipes and the latest super foods” or Gizzi Erskine gushing of her foodie tweeps “We bonded over our love for Jewish food”, “She’s also a big foodie and has an amazing, creative eye.”

On-A-Cause

In a world when people are questioning “the meaning of it all”,  following people with a passion and a cause is a big hit. Seeing people in the zone and self-actualised is a valued thing. David Rowan talks of @indy_johar’s “insights into changemakers that matter”, Matthew Ryder talking about Adam Wagners passion for human rights; or Mariella Frostruspps distress and appreciation of the human plight shared by @vitalvoices

Conversation

Its social media right – and so its ‘social’ – it not a broadcast channel – it’s meant to be engaging right? Derren Brown talks about “the sins of arrogance and relentless self-promotion”. Thats not good twitter behaviour. But there is a wide appreciation for people who ’embrace the medium’ – whether its gossip, banter, trying to kick off conversation or just sitting back and watching the glitterati nattering away – its all very human – way beyond the 140 character limit. A very enlightened person told me to watch @wossy – he’s the best at it.

Links-to-Information

Share great content. Links to news, events, food. Lucy Siegle depends on the practical advice from @higgledygarden “I’m a novice gardener-grower and this is my Twitter support” Peston acknowledges that its @lindayueh that he is depending on and Gaby Hinsliff and Peston both recognise the work of @faisalislam and how he creatively transforms dull economics into an engaging stream of informed knowledge.

So its a cloud its not a list

If I made it a list you could look at the top three ‘big-do’s’ and discount the rest. And that would be a mistake.

There are many insights to be drawn from the language people use to capture the value they see in twitter. Its not as simple as a top 3 best practices – there is a need for many voices and styles to make it a great place. If a list meant we discounted the importance of any one of these value-points we miss the chance to be different and stand out.

But what about Businesses on Twitter?

So did you notice the absence of any Business brands on the list. No ‘brand’ is close to our hearts – but should I expect there to be one?

Maybe its too big a challenge for a company? Can a business be funny, commmunicate its humanity, wisdom, mind-moving insights, valuable resources and sense of connection with people? Or should we always expect a gap between what is valuable to us “IRL” and what we get from a company? But a business is still a social organisation, right?

Who can we empower to be the face/voice of our business on twitter? (Everyone in the company is the face/voice of our business.) Does anyone get given the permission to be the ambassador for the brand? (Everyone we employ is the ambassador of the brand.)

But we aren’t seeing this shine through on the tweep list today – or maybe they are just under the surface. Not in our top three, but somewhere close behind.

@callyrobson tweeted this morning: “10 yrs ago many business owners didn’t “believe” in the Internet. Now I just hear same about #socialmedia #yawn”

So maybe a business is full of individual brilliance but collectively a bit lost at sea in Social Media. Businesses are not yet something worth following, and we’re still waiting for them to switch on and step up and woo us.

There are couple of exceptions that do it for me. Innocent (now owned by Coco Cola) have always had an edge. But also look out for Sonar6. Ive had the need to review a lot of companies in the HR software space in the last year and these guys are the only ones that can communicate with engagement – look at their FB page, their CEO’s videos and their cup-cake competitions on Pintrest. I don’t know what is in the Auckland water – but its refreshing, funny, intelligent and no doubt the reason behind their recent evalution and acquistion. They have a voice and its memorable.

If the principles of Dale Carnegie still stand (they do) we want to know-like-trust people. There are many of types of trust but the type businesses really needs is “affect” trustan emotional bond and care for the wellbeing of the other – customers that forgive the brand if it screws up, and customers that champion brands through referral – customers that want us to succeed.

This only comes following some kind of meaningful social tie or connection.  Maybe it can come through good Social Media dialogue? (I think so).

Can business be humorous and personable? Well @tomfishburne makes a start..

Is the Observer List useful? Yup…

The great thing about this Observer list is there is some learning to be had from it – it gets into peoples minds and then lays it out for us to understand.

Its not a ranking based on followers or K+ updates. It has real and rich subjective value and a good snap shot for someone to form a recipe – bake a cake – or mix a cocktail – called “An engaging Twitter voice”.

They say that twitter is like a big dinner party – be interested in others too – dont just shout about yourself – be engaging – be helpful – be memorable.

Companies can come to dinner parties too – invite the knitted yogurt pot of Innocent or ‘Crazy Mike’ from Sonar6 and Im sure it will be memorable. But the rest of you really should stay at home.

If you want to check out some of the great people on this Observer article have a squizz at this list. There are some very engaging, eccentric, distrurbing, inspiring, rude, funny, informative, opinionated – but also very loveable tweeps there. Voices people believe in.

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Millennial Permission

Last week Blackberry reported its quaterly earnings and it made for painful reading – revenue in Q4 of $4.2 bn, down 25 per cent from $5.6 bn in the same quarter of  2011 – and market share is now 9%, down from its peak of 21% back in 3Q 2009.

As my twitter friend @andrewarmour commented:

“Number: 1000. Approximately how many business days took for RIM’s share price to fall from its 2008 high of $140 – to today’s $14.”

Grim, but its not all bad news – the annual UK Superbrand ratings have just come out – Blackberry are still up there at number 23 in the Business brands – but clearly there is a gap between perceptions behind the brand and the actions and choices people are taking in buying the offering.

No one ‘owns’ their market but the Blackberry diversion from greatness is spectacular. That said, Nokia must be grateful to them from the diversion from their own plight as the sands shift for some handset makers.

We live in interesting times.

Lessons from the Hoff

A few years ago Reid Hoffman – the builder of LinkedIn and Paypal gave some great advice to new business grads at a talk at Stanford: Go and get yourself a job at a failing company. The lack competition for the flop business unit means you get into a position that gives you the experience you need as a leader and manager – hiring, P&L management, planning software distribution – all the experience you need.

Hoffman got his first break at Apple in the eWorld product group but later went to Fujitsu, knowing the programme he lead was screwed. Whilst the business failed Hoffman got his strips in General Management, and so could evidence to the VC’s he was safe hands for their money. Very smart move by the big guy.

Disrupt yourself before we do it to you

With Blackberrys fall from grace and dead – or aged – wood being culled, the CV’s from future leaders should be flying through the doors. Its a smart and strategic move to work there – not many other folks would want to be in a sinking ship – job competition is low – Blackberry is a great place to look for a break right now.

Anyone fancy a challenge? Would you buy a stamp – and stick your CV in the post?

Anyone fancy ignoring Blackberry’s focus on its laggard corporate sector and start flirting with the complex world of consumers whims – and potentially the huge growth in serving a youth segment. Leveraging the mass adoption of Blackberry Messenger by GenY, the millennial generation, the digital natives and call upon the loyalty and permission these users have granted you to serve the next generation of social communicators?

I would say that everyone should want what Blackberry has – but persistently fails to understand – the next wave of loyalty and more than a lifeline.

Sure you have to discount handsets – your disrupting your own business model – but isn’t thats what innovation is?

Sounds fun to me.