Tuesday, 24 May 2011

AOP Social Media Event - Building Smart Communities

A recent census by the Association of Online Publishers found 63% of members see social media as a key area of growth/investment. Which begs the question, where do the other 37% see the opportunities for growth and investments? And the question which I think the recent AOP event: Building Smarter Communities was trying to answer: what are the opportunities within social media?

I like AOP events, I like the tea and biscuits and cakes and free beer. I also like the way they set up their panels, with a mixture of thought leaders from within the industry; usually an agency evangelist and then someone slightly left of field to give the "outsiders perspective."

So what were some of the key take-homes from the event? Well, that's what is so fascinating about social media, there often isn't a list of key messages at the end of a social media event, because if you ask four different people you'll get four different opinions! I liken it to Doctor Who explaining something to his companion using a simple analogy (a bubble on the outside of a bubble) and then once they get the concept saying quietly: "well it's nothing like that." Oh I am pleased to have got a Doctor Who reference into my blog, first of many?!

Actually there were some key take-homes: some fantastic analogies and case studies. And being a journalist I like a good story.

Amy Kean, from Havas Media gave us such a great analogy about social media, so great I've already used it about 10 times since! A brand that is properly engaged in social media is like the glow stick seller at a festival or a gig. Dancing amongst the crowd, adding to the atmosphere and the experience, enjoying the music, and if someone wants a glow stick they’ll sell them one. A brand that’s not engaged is the member of staff hired to sell programmes, stood on the sidelines shouting to attract people’s attention.

Justine Roberts, CEO of Mumsnet gave the example of a Mum who commented on one of the Mumsnet forums that she had used Waitrose baby bottom butter on her face (I assume when she ran out of moisturiser…?!) and she had noticed a visible reduction in her wrinkles. Women were commenting and liking and tweeting and telling their friends… and sales doubled!

On the flip-side, Justine gave an example of Haliborange who felt the wrath of angry mumsnetters, when they decided the company had paid people to comment about the benefits of their products.

Justine also introduced me to this great quote from Avinash Kaushik, an Analytics Evangelist for Google: “The greatest gift you can be given from the Internet is to be proven wrong fast”

And in a stroke of excellent timing all of these quotes and stories provided brilliant fodder for my speech at the Big Social Media Debate at County Hall organised by the LinkedIn ecommerce UK group, which will have to form the basis of my next blog post.

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