What I’ve Learnt from Social Media Listening

Presented at TFM&A 2014 – I uncover some of the techniques used to understand audiences through social media listening and measuring, how it can inform social, business and marketing strategy, hone social media activity and work to improve brand perception. As part of the presentation he’ll also look at various brands and case studies to identify real world examples.



I wanted to come out to Nat King Cole singing unforgettable …

This presentation is about why we all need to work harder at “unforgettable” in our marketing worlds. Hopefully this will provide tips and insights about how to be remembered in our careers and our campaigns

The presentation is a mixture of my own thoughts and stories and many others I heard or read. I’d love to say they are all my own thoughts, but I’m not that clever, and I’m still honing my skills



Ok to start with I’m going to paint a little bit of a bleak picture, but don’t worry it’s not all doom and gloom and I really hope that the start of this presentation motivates you to do some of the things at the back of this presentation

So I’d like you to cast your minds back to when you where little and your teachers asked you wanted to be when you grew up?

Your hands shot up, and the words astronaut, fireman, or ballerina may have been spoken

You had a grand vision for yourself

The famous artist, the great explorer, the hero

But then something happened …you grew up, traded in childish dreams for something a little more realistic that utilized you job “skillset”.

But you did establish yourself a solid reputation

Competent. Reliable …. Forgettable

Forgettable is the Curse of competence



It is only human nature, but you should worry about it and before I explain why this is built into us I’d like to talk to you about a study where several people were asked to pick out an food item from 2 shelves, at the same time their brain patterns were being measured.

Shelf one had lots of different foods to choose from

Shelf two had the same foods but also a favorite food that the participant had previously stated

Above their is a very active brain, and a slightly active brain

Which brain applied to the shelf that had the favorite on?

Answer: Inactive brain, why…. Because the subject did not have to think, they took the easiest route and intuitively went for what they knew and picked their favourite.



This is a discussion about system 1 and system 2 of our brains

System 1 – operates automatic and quickly, with little or know effort – system one is our default

System 2 – allocates attention to the effortful mental activities that demand it

Let me give you another example 17 x 24 even when we have to use system 2, we use then use heuristics (a method of breaking it down the task, to try and ease our cognitive load i.e. we’ll try to break down the answer down)

Answer 408

We are inherently lazy we will always default to system 1, the easy route, this is not only a problem for us trying to better ourselves but it a bigger problem when trying to connect with an audience who is lazy, if the message is too hard to understand they will probably switch off.



Lots of content

In 60secs: 700,000 messages sent via Facebook – 72 Hours of video uploaded

90% of worlds data created in the last 2 years

Speed of adoption Google+ 10million users in 16 days

If you take video uploads of the Harlem Shuffle it was in and out of fashion within about a month



The technology advantage has had it’s day

There’s no advantage anymore to being social like there would have been 5 – 6years ago

People are filtering more – 86% of viewers watching pre-recorded television always fast forward through the commercial breaks

And due to the amount of content being produced and media multitasking our attention span has dropped to 9 seconds – golf fish

Well like an explosion it leaves us with very little, hard to be competitive both in our careers and our businesses in such a noisy landscape



72% of people who buy Pepsi also drink Coca-Cola



50% of all knowledge about a brand is held by just 20% of it’s buyers

80% of brand buyers know little or nothing about that brand



The number 1 reason people follow brands on social is offers



So lets recap

We are inherently lazy

We have a serious lack of attention (especially in the digital medium) which lets face it is the way it’s all going now

There is a shit load of content (mostly crap) out there

People don’t give a shit!




Our biggest task today is over coming apathy

those people who are just indifferent about us and our products and services …

this is now the point that you’re all looking down thinking, christ! how the hell am I going become unforgettable we.

That’s is the end of the bleak picture

What follows, are some of the ways we can become unforgettable, it’s by no means all the ways, but I do hope these inspire you




3 agencies were asked by an islands tourist board to get more visitors to the island, the island was situated just off the mainland but had see a decline in visitors year on year at peak times.

2 of the agencies came back with the usual glossy above the line marketing campaigns backed up with a very detailed digital strategies and executions

The final agency sat down with tourist board, and told them to build a bridge making it so much easier for tourist to visit the island

They looked at the bigger picture

They saw the real problem (people are lazy, cannot be arsed to get out of their car, onto a ferry and then carry all their picnic gear)



84% share because it is a way to support causes or issues they care about

The photo is a friend of mine Molly Case (a relative nobody), she was account exec at an agency I used to work at, she’s now a student nurse and as long as I’ve known her been a spoken word artist

She got up and spoke about “nursing the nation”

not only did she receive a standing ovation from the Nurses Congress following the reading

but she has had close to 180,000 views in 6 days and has just been asked for an interview by the huffington post

All for speaking about cause she really believes in



And it not just the little people,

From the day Nike invented a new sole because Coach Bowerman needed better trainers for his athletes, by pouring rubber into his waffle maker.

Nike have been about making athletes better through innovation.

They also believe that everyone has the potential to be an athlete, if you have a body you can run.

They have held true to this thought in everything they do.



I don’t mean physically move people (well unless your Nike) but emotionally move people.

At this point I could talk about how establishing an emotional connection with your audience creates a more effective tie, and chemical imbalances with the brain that produce endorphins and all that psychological stuff (which I do actually find quite interesting). But as marketers we should bring it back to the ROI.

When the Institute of Practitioners in Advertising looked at nearly 900 international case studies, it that showed Emotional campaigns were almost twice as likely to generate large profit that rational ones. So there’s your ROI.



Givers, takers can— and do— achieve success.

But there’s something distinctive that happens when givers succeed: it spreads and cascades.

When takers win, there’s usually someone else who loses.

Research shows that people tend to envy successful takers and look for ways to knock them down a notch.

In contrast, when [givers] win, people are rooting for them and supporting them, rather than gunning for them.

Givers succeed in a way that creates a ripple effect, enhancing the success of people around them. You’ll see that the difference lies in how a giver’s success creates value, instead of just claiming it.

An Brand example

Apple who took the user interface from Xerox, have a closed environment with itunes, pissing off most of the music industry, which has actually delayed them being able to launch a competitor to spotify – everyone is gunning for them

Google who give away so many services for free, have a much more open policy and have a informal motto of don’t be evil – have seen great success in so many areas

A Personal Example

Being here today was down to me giving – I was with a client when I met Graham (the guy behind the Digital Doughnut) who was speaking at the same workshop the client had asked me too come along too, Graham and I both left at the same time, as I was driving I offered Graham a lift to the station and well now I’m here, so nothing to do with my ability to speak

The digital self revolution – Nike fuel band – Data for motivation



The new brands that are succeeding in todays environment are those that using the trends to their advantages

So while most companies are busy measuring the size of their knives or in the case of the picture, their swords (so to speak), you can come along with a more disruptive idea and blow them away

Loic Le Meur a serial entrepreneur and founder of LeWeb one of Europe’s best technology conference speaks about how good marketing is no marketing. He live streams the entire event and then pushes all the video out via social channels, while most conferences are still scared to let the content free.

Air B2B, have disrupted the Hotel Industry – rent your room

Lending club – have disrupted the loans industry – crowd sourced borrowing, have lent over 1.6 billion dollars to date



For the first couple of years that you start out in your careers doing things, making stuff, what you’re doing is not so good,

it’s not that your not trying to do good work and make a difference.

You know it’s not as good as it could be, and you feel that level of disappointment,

but that is good, that’s ambition to do better

But a lot of people won’t get past that phase … they become competent

The people who I look up to and admire both personally and professionally, went through a phase of years where they were not doing good things, they could tell that the things they were doing were not quite good enough

This is a phase you have to go through (it’s a phase I’m still going through now, every now I see a glimmer where work meets ambition but I’m not there yet, it’s not constant enough yet)

And the only way you can get through it is by doing lots lots more of it, put yourself on a deadline to do more of it, until you break free from it and you will finally see your work meet your ambitions

It’s not easy and quite frankly it should not be ….





References: Ira Glass on Storytelling Part 3, Psychology of Sharing NY Times, Give and Take – Adam Grant, Institute of Marketing Science, The impulse panel, Deloitte, Thinking Fast and Slow,


8 Great insights from the IDM B2B council this week









A Marketers R.E.S.O.L.U.T.I.O.N.

What are you going to aim to do next year? I have already spoken about Everything Everywhere (not the network) in my previous post, below are some of the steps we should all be taking now and in the future to start to deliver campaigns, experiences and stories with real relevance and cut through.


R is for Reading

We all need to start reading more from more varied sources, find the books from the leaders in the field and read them hell even write a book review or two. Make sure you also read from outside your field too, the more rounded your perspective the more it will help you think laterally about problems and challenges you may face. Read blogs and posts from those people who have really disrupted the marketplace, these are the guys at the forefront of the new business wave. Bill gates was once asked “Who is your greatest competition?” his answer …. “It will be a company that does not even exist yet” … in comes Google. Reading helps you gain prospective and stay on top of trends, but dont just take it in aimlessly, question everything.

E is for Engaging

Whether its engaging your audience or your peers, it’s easier than ever to create conversations. You must find reasons to engage with people and create mutual opportunities that can flourish into relationships to deliver advantages to both sides of the table. In the social space we must aim for our brands to be treated more like people, having everyday human conversations, rather than using your social presence to broadcast company messaging in the vien hope that someone might share your offer … time to think for the long term.

S is for Social

Social is everywhere, whether you’re a B2B or B2C organisation, campaigns must be always have a social element. It may be difficult at the time to look at the causation of social activity (i.e. did that link it that tweet deliver a sale) we must all start to look the the correlation of social (admittedly a harder sell to your CEO) while this may be difficult to measure, it will help you understand if you’re moving in the right direction; are you improving brand equity; increasing (overall) sales; increasing shareholder value and decreasing in overheads (through efficiencies)?

O is for Observing

Observing people, not what they say they are going to do, but actually what they will do. It’s a tricky skill that relies on historic information (ok I guess I need to use the word Data here) and intuition. Getting both right can lead to compelling ideas that can move markets and redefine brands. Observing your audience will help you define your challenges, stop paying lip service to this next year and really get into your audience.

L is for Love

It’s something that I probably go on too much about but emotion drives sharing, sharing drives a deeper understanding and action, actions drive preference, preference drives decisions. Decisions lead to sales. A recent study by LinkedIn and TNS ‘The Mindset Divide’ showed that emotional campaigns have greater effect than rational ones. We all need to start focusing on the why more and less about the what.

U is for Understanding

Reports and results are very important, tracking activity and success should be part of any campaign or experience you deliver. While the numbers are important you must understand what they mean to allow you make more informed decisions against you next activity. Understanding also means taking the time to really research things that matter most to you, with the masses of content available it’s all too easy to skim over it, get into the nitty gritty. Finally for understanding, ask WHY, why brings clarity and helps alignement of you to your audience.

T is for Technique

When it comes to digital and content marketing, we must change our techniques, we should all be thinking as “Marketing as a Service”  rather than a message. How can our messages, content and digital experiences make our audiences lives easier or better yet better! How can we give our audience the opportunity to engage with us on a daily basis and share those interactions easily with their networks.

I is for Initiative

Simply … take some of it. “Imagination & graft is more important than knowledge & talent” (A slight adaption from something Einstein once said). If you have an idea … go for it … don’t take no for an answer. The worst that will happen is you will fail and learn lots in the process, this will make your next idea that much better. We live in a high speed world that is becoming less and less about planning and more and more about testing. Start to test your ideas in the early stages more, but have the idea first, don’t wait to be told what your idea should be.

O is for Objectivity

Ok this won’t be easy to hear … but it needs to be said. NO ONE CARES ABOUT YOU OR YOUR BRAND (at least the way you do). To think someone is going to buy your product because you think it’s great is both naive and foolish, however great your latest product update. Start to think about whats stopping people from buying your product. Being objective means you’ll look at truth about you and your audience in as many different ways as you can before making a more informed decision about how to best tackle it.

N is for Never

Never stop moving forward, progressing, learning, influencing, enjoying, creating, connecting and having fun (a word not used enough as part of our working lives). Stopping is the next step to backwards. Keep going, you’ll get there!

Where all great ideas start … #problemhunting

After realising the problem, this was where I started to to solve it, on paper, and while I’ve had to let go as I’ve moved agencies. I was very proud of getting it up and running and signing up the likes of Microsoft, Adobe and BT to the service in it’s private beta phase.

The below image was the first attempt of what we need to produce to make content marketing effortless for businesses. We actually scaled it down to become a planner for content marketers but it still has much potential to go further and I hope the team take it on and drive it forward. Now I must look for the next the next app, web app or otherwise.

First find the problem .. then work out how best to solve it.

1 2 3 7  Scroll to top