Archive for the ‘Social Network’ Category

Social media cafe Manchester – smc_mcr – logging out

Tuesday, July 30th, 2013 by Jon Clements

Social Media Cafe Manchester – or smc-mcr as it morphed into – came along at the right time to meet a ravenous appetite for digital communications.

But now, it’s no more.

I’m grateful to Tom Mason for bringing the news to my attention and for his affectionate “eulogy” to this rather modest and yet highly influential fixture in Manchester’s calendar of digital creativity. For the definitive insight into why smc_mcr is logging out, check out co-founder, Martin Bryant’s post on the smc_mcr website itself.

So, what made it special?

In the digital sector – one that has now become big business for learning seminars, training courses, day-long conferences, etc – smc_mcr offered collective insight from real-life practitioners (often early adopters of digital technologies and communications platforms) at no cost to the participants whatsoever. All those great brains in one room, willing to pass on their knowledge because, well, they were passionate about their subject and the sharing ethos seemed to meld well with the social media milieu.

At times, smc_mcr was unapologetically and hilariously shambolic in its structure and organisation. But that was more than compensated for by the wealth of interesting people and topics you could expect to encounter over a couple of hours on a Tuesday night, once a month.

On a simplistic level, it was networking with people you also had a relationship with online; but it was really so much more than that.

And, it supplied a regular flow of great material for PR Media Blog which, at the time, was itself trying to make sense of the ever-quickening revolution in digital communications.

Normally, an institution coming to an end is a sad affair. But smc_mcr has done its job, if ever it had a “job description”. It wasn’t its style to have some sort of “manifesto”; that would be far too bloody organised.


About Jon Clements

Jon Clements is a Chartered PR consultant specialising in B2B PR, corporate and marketing communications and is the founder of Metamorphic PR. Connect at: JonClements ''

The Paradox of Facebook’s New Ad Campaign

Thursday, October 4th, 2012 by Rob Brown

Facebook has launched a multi channel, multi message communications campaign today, presumably in response to the poor share performance since the IPO in May.

In the US users can now pay to show people their holiday snaps with the introduction of ‘promoted posts’ for individual users.

Another part of the campaign features the announcement that Facebook has passed the billion user mark, a good PR hook if ever I saw one. However Facebook’s real PR issue is one of trust. To address that they have turned to advertising with a classic commercial; Facebook’s first-ever, agency created ad. “The Things That Connect Us” is a beautifully shot 90 second emotive film that compares Facebook to doorbells, airplanes, bridges, dancefloors but most of all chairs.

What I find amazing about the film is that it uses the outmoded idea that if you draw parallels with trusted concepts and ideas, then you can imbue a brand with qualities that it might not possess. It is essentially using an advert to ‘spin’. The arrival of social networks like Facebook has heralded an era when we are no longer persuaded by this kind of commercial. Paradoxically Facebook is communicating using a method that it has helped to undermine.

The choice of chairs as an emblem is also open to question since recent reports that show that too much time spent sitting could be deadly.

About Rob Brown

Rob Brown has worked in PR for over 20 years and for over fifteen years held senior PR positions within three major global advertising networks; Euro RSCG, McCann and TBWA. He launched his own business ‘Rule 5’ in MediaCityUK, Manchester in November 2012. Rob is the author of ‘Public Relations and the Social Web’ (2009), blogs for The Huffington Post and is joint editor of 'Share This Too' (2013).

It’s good to talk

Thursday, July 19th, 2012 by Gemma Ellis

HELLO?! The days of inadvertently overhearing your neighbours’ shouty mobile chatter – famously epitomised by Trigger Happy TV’s Dom Joly and his giant novelty telephone – may soon be over if new research from Ofcom is anything to go by.

Evaluating the habits of UK consumers over the past year, the report reveals that more and more people are now using text as their primary form of communication; in 2011, 58% communicated daily via text messages, compared with 47% who made calls.

The revolution is being led by the young, with 96% of 16 to 24-year-olds using some form of text-based application on a daily basis, be that texting or social networking sites.

The fact that communication is changing is hard to dispute. The wide availability and uptake of smart phones will have played a huge role in this. Consumers now have the world at their fingertips and messaging is quick, easy and convenient.

Text can cross continents and time zones without difficulty and even language barriers to a certain extent, with a quick click on Google Translate and similar service providers telling you almost all you need to know.

But I do hope that as we move away from verbal communication the art of conversation isn’t completely lost. Whether you’re thrashing things out or catching up on mindless gossip, sometimes there’s nothing better than the spoken word.


Social media lifted from the sandbox

Wednesday, June 27th, 2012 by Jon Clements

The days of social media activity residing alone in an organisation – enshrined in mystery like some sort of digital Pandora’s Box – should be numbered if not over altogether.

As John Gordon of New York’s Fenton Communications put it memorably in yesterday’s Social Media Today webinar: What are the metrics that matter in social media, “Social media should not be playing in its own sandbox”.

Gordon emphasised that any social media activity should fall in line with overall organisational goals. In other words, mixing the “yellow” of social media goals and blue of organisational goals should make the “green” of integrated goals; any other colour signifies potential chaos.

This is helpful especially when an unexpected event arises and an organisation’s response needs to be centred, consistent, coherent and in keeping with its corporate purpose. Such an event put the US organisation, Planned Parenthood’s social media approach to the test.

The provider of reproductive healthcare was faced with the withdrawal of breast screening funds from the Susan G.Koman for the Cure cancer foundation, following pressure from anti-abortion groups.

Heather Holdridge , director of digital strategy at Planned Parenthood, described the ensuing campaign, using Twitter and Facebook to inform its audiences of the cancer charity’s decision. The story went, literally, viral through social media channels, resulting in a user-generated Tumblr blog featuring women’s stories of how Planned Parenthood had helped them. Social media drove the debate for two days – during which time Planned Parenthood’s messages were consistent – and ended with Komen reversing its decision to cut funding.

John Gordon added: “Komen thought it could direct messages downwards but didn’t recognise people were going to respond in the way they did and didn’t have the channels or the relationships to respond.”

Fenton neatly sums up Planned Parenthood’s social media strategy as “See, Say, Feel, Do”:


Who is your audience?

Where are they?

What do you want them to do?

What do they want from you?


Messages, stories and insights that can be shared online quickly.


User comments, Twitter re-tweets personalised – described as the “gold dust  created when people have internalised and endorsed your message through their own voice. It needs the right content to elicit that effect, such as the Tumblr blog in the Planned Parenthood example.


The actions your users take as a result of the above.

Such a (deceptively) simple approach is worth adding to the overall debate around meaningful social media measurement, not least the work done recently by AMEC.

Ultimately, the artificial line that may have existed between digital communications activity and everything else in an organisation can’t be allowed to persist. Never mind playing in its own sandbox; digital needs lifting from the sandbox to play with everyone else.

About Jon Clements

Jon Clements is a Chartered PR consultant specialising in B2B PR, corporate and marketing communications and is the founder of Metamorphic PR. Connect at: JonClements ''

Some football clubs more social than others

Tuesday, November 1st, 2011 by Rob Brown

I saw two turf-braking stories today about football clubs putting the social into soccer.  The first was about Manchester United appointing an agency to design and build a digital platform to provide a social network for fans around the world.   The club has identified a target of more than 500 million fans – more than double the number of registered twitter users – so why not have a network just for reds.  FlickedIn anyone, InOfftheBlogPost, OnMeHeadBook perhaps?

The slight problem is United’s reputation for real engagement.  The club has looked at Facebook and Twitter bans for its players more than once. What is United”s motivation?  “Social network? I think they mean fan club or more accurately, sales database” quipped Nigel Sarbutts of BrandAlert.

Step up to the spot then Jaguares de Chiapas, a club in the Primera División de México.   They’ve registered all of the players on twitter and they’ve added their twitter handles onto the back of the players shirts.  In social media terms and as a PR story in general; “back of the net”.

It doesn’t always take big names or big budgets to reach your goal.  Innovative ideas and real creativity have no substitute.  As they say in the in the Estadio Victor Manuel Reyna in Chiapas “in football as in life, 140 characters are enough to decide which side you’re on”.


About Rob Brown

Rob Brown has worked in PR for over 20 years and for over fifteen years held senior PR positions within three major global advertising networks; Euro RSCG, McCann and TBWA. He launched his own business ‘Rule 5’ in MediaCityUK, Manchester in November 2012. Rob is the author of ‘Public Relations and the Social Web’ (2009), blogs for The Huffington Post and is joint editor of 'Share This Too' (2013).

Facebook befriends Spotify

Tuesday, October 4th, 2011 by Gemma Ellis

Another week, and another Facebook update that’s caused a racket in the media. This time it’s the social network’s partnership with digital music service Spotify that’s got punters in a spin.

Facebook will now offer free music streaming through Spotify whereby users can share their listening habits with friends, get personal recommendations and see what’s trending. To complete the union, it will also be compulsory for new Spotify customers to sign up with a Facebook account.

So, thumbs up from the social media giant in terms of user engagement – Facebook has access to a whole new audience who are being engaged on the site for longer and in more diverse activities.

But – surprise, surprise – privacy is once again an issue.

Subscribers are up in arms that their music choices should be made public while many feel alienated that Spotify would ‘sell out’ by enforcing Facebook membership on its customers.

I can understand why people are irked but personally I’m excited about having access to an eclectic music library based on what my friends are enjoying, rather than what the critics tell me to. Besides, the option exists to privatise listening activities, so if you do want to hide those guilty pleasure records, you can.


Social media is a wiz for Wicked

Tuesday, September 27th, 2011 by Jon Clements

When a piece of culture is panned by the mainstream media, nobody would be surprised if the public took the experts’ opinion to heart and stayed away in their droves.

But word of mouth and social media are potent forces, suggesting that the traditional media aren’t always the kingmakers they would perhaps aspire to be.

Case in point is the musical, Wicked, which today celebrates five years in London’s West End theatre district – with UK box office takings totalling £145m.

Despite its lukewarm, or downright hostile, reviews back in 2006, the show continues merrily down the yellow brick road.  As well as examining the range of possible reasons for what the Guardian’s theatre critic, Michael Billington, calls “its mysterious popularity”, this piece cites social media as the source of the “extraordinary community” and “positive word of mouth” surrounding Wicked.

The Facebook page and Twitter feed supporting the UK production boast nearly 58,000 users between them, though they’re dwarfed by the Broadway show’s 625,000 Facebook friends.  Currently, “fifth birthday facts” (e.g., the London crew having consumed 12,600 pints of tea) are posted on Facebook and shared further via Twitter much, it seems, to the delight of fans.

Not unlike the “sleeper hit” at the cinema that was The Shawshank Redemption, Wicked seems to have hit a nerve with the public and been sustained through the fervency of its fans  and the collective cult obsession that social media can help perpetuate. Which, nowadays, leads neatly to mainstream media attention…

And for those, like me, who knew nothing about it until now, here’s the latest London show in all its wickedness.

About Jon Clements

Jon Clements is a Chartered PR consultant specialising in B2B PR, corporate and marketing communications and is the founder of Metamorphic PR. Connect at: JonClements ''

The social media world of football

Tuesday, August 9th, 2011 by Jo Rosenberg


90% of football fans have decided who their favourite football club is by the age of 10.

No question then that football fans are fiercely loyal and, unlike the average consumer in most other walks of life, they want to know everything about the club’s supply chain and voice opinions about decisions, whether it’s an on or off the pitch matter.

Yet despite the fact that social media provides a global forum in which a club can engage with every single fan and as a result, improve and develop club fan relationships, it is still, in many cases, practised with caution, and rightly so.

Fans don’t want to be talked at via social media channels, or fed useless, second hand information. They want exclusives, they want debate and interaction with the club and its players and if there’s an opportunity to win money-can’t-buy, club-related prizes then all the better.

To design and host an effective social media platform requires time and effort; yet once a resource is in place and a strategy agreed, the benefits to both the fans and the club can be considerable.

Content is king, relevance is critical and the tone must be friendly and engaging and appear to be opening the door of the club to its fans. It must also provide a two-way conversation, hence a designated role should be created to ensure the content is well-managed and well-timed.

Like many industries, the use of social media in football goes way beyond being simply a communication vehicle; it can also provide revenue driving opportunities. Big sponsorship deals can only be justified if the club reaches a bigger audience and this means international markets which are not easily reached by traditional media.

And when social media is well established, there are potential opportunities via affiliate marketing by adding value to sponsorship deals, cross promotional activity with sponsors, or through direct sales of official kit or unsold tickets.

And let’s not forget how instrumental social media can be in a crisis situation by providing the club with the opportunity to set the record straight.  It might be a player scandal or a controversial boardroom decision. Either way it’s an instantaneous channel to fans which can’t be obscured by journalists.

Manchester City FC is one of the most proactive clubs when it comes to social networking, utilising the obvious Facebook and Twitter networks along with Flickr, in which they encourage fans to share photography, which the club admits has helped inspire new PR and retail campaigns.

But a football club can’t just dip in and out of social media. Fans will feel cheated and will quickly retort. A key and critical point to including social media within a marcomms strategy is to build virtual relationships with fans which must then be maintained. New fans must feel welcome and existing fans must feel valued.



United In Grief, Divided By Opinion

Tuesday, July 26th, 2011 by Julie Wilson


This weekend saw the world rocked by the tragic events in Oslo, the shock news of Amy Winehouse’s death and sadness surrounding the Chinese rail disaster.  These incidents combined with the on-going plight in Somalia saw the nation united in grief.

A world united in sadness was not, however, one united in opinion as anyone monitoring Facebook and Twitter during the unfolding of the events would have seen.

Within just minutes of news of the passing of one of the UK’s most talented musicians breaking, users of social media platforms became embroiled in debate as to the significance of one event over that of another.

The comments which emerged, including distasteful jokes (which I will not repeat), did not surprise me.  What did, however, was the response of the authors of such comments, whom appeared genuinely surprised by the disapproving and angry response of fellow users.

“My profile, my opinion, I’m entitled to it” was one such response.

The answer is of course yes, that is true, but it is naive to think that posts of such a sensitive matter will not provoke a response and users should be reminded that social media platforms are a public place.  In the same way that you would not expect to walk into a crowded bar and loudly voice a potentially provocative opinion without being challenged, the same is true online.

Whilst it is a free world, social etiquette does, I was warmed to read, still exist online.  The overarching opinion of most users this weekend being that “there is no ranking of tragedy.”

I couldn’t agree more.

Should you wish to support the work of those in Somalia visit or text 70000 to donate £5 to the Disasters Emergency Committee.


Think Before You…

Friday, June 24th, 2011 by Julie Wilson

It’s good to talk, but not online is the message from the Ministry of Defence.

In a drive to protect its service men and women and prevent the leaking of sensitive information, the MoD has launched a campaign highlighting the dangers of service personnel engaging on social media sites.

The campaign, a revival of the 1940’s ‘Careless Talk Costs Lives’ poster campaign, is entitled ‘Think Before You…’ and demonstrates the potentially devastating repercussions of service men and women sharing too much information online through a series of short films.

In the first of the films, two sailors are seen heading out for the night, casually messaging friends to confirm the evening’s meeting point and checking-in along the way.  The film cuts to the sailors laughing on the dance floor before panning to two armed men in balaclavas.  “Is it just your mates who know where you have checked in?” the film asks.

A second film sees a soldier’s mum enjoying tea with an armed terrorist.
The films, the first in a series, close with the message “think before you tweet, blog, update, tag, comment, check-in, upload, text, share.”

Commenting in a Defence Policy and Business News article, Major General John Lorimer, the Chief of the Defence Staff’s Strategic Communications Officer, said:

“Social media has enabled our personnel to stay in touch with their families and their friends no matter where they are in the world. We want our men and women to embrace the use of sites like Twitter, Facebook, LinkedIn and YouTube, but also want them to be aware of the risks that sharing too much information may pose. You don’t always know who else is watching in cyberspace.

“The MOD Headquarters has its own Facebook, YouTube and Twitter feeds and we see no reason to stop our personnel from tweeting or posting on their own walls. But the MOD has a responsibility to warn personnel of the risks they could be exposing themselves to, hence the launch of this new campaign.

“‘Think Before You…’ is a reminder that personal and operational security should be a primary concern and that social media merely provides a different context where sensitive details can be found.”

With over 50% of the UK population registered Facebook users and Twitter amassing over 145 million users worldwide, the MoD campaign is a stark reminder as to the potential risks of sharing personal information on social networking sites.

Online conversation may not carry such potentially devastating results for the majority of social media users, but for servicemen and women, careless talk can cost lives.