Friday, 29 August 2008

What a social media consultant's job really is

Often, it's not that there's no-one in a client organisation who knows what a wiki is, or what YouTube can do, etc.

It's that their department is usually IT, which is neither marketing nor executive, unless that organisation is particularly nimble and agile, or small.

[Social media consultants are organisational wall-demolishers]

So when we come in as social media consultants, it's often as connectors - connecting different parts of the organisation together, in order to connect the organisation to its markets/publics/audiences.

Which is why, as well as learning the technology, I'm pouring a lot of time and effort into understanding organisational psychology.

Thursday, 28 August 2008

Why blog?

Just had a really good insight on why it's good for business to blog ... from a 49-year-old self-identified "dinosaur" whose job involves a whole lot of networking:

When you're talking with someone and the conversation goes beyond business, you know the relationship is going to last.

Voila. Blogging - and all other forms of social media - are simply that, online.

Jump In #35: Regan Cunliffe from

( more info: ... ) Throng is a social network for TV watchers, producers and broadcasters. It's been very successful in four countries, and it's run from NZ! We talk with Throng founder Regan Cunliffe about online community.

Wednesday, 27 August 2008

Do you perform? Are you an introvert?

JJProjects posted a pretty thought-provoking piece on Twitter yesterday:

People always talk about community and conversation, but hardly ever about performance. People don't like to speak of this in those terms

He then said it on 12Seconds:

Community, Conversation and Performance on

(Check out the following conversation)

Once I'd sorted out that he meant performance as in "Broadway" as opposed to "Performance Management", JJ's thoughts tapped into my own latent thinking about this area.

When you perform, life is fun. That's what the people in the book Fish! A Remarkable Way to Boost Morale and Improve Results found out, that having a performance mentality can make even mundane tasks into a game.

Performance could also be called acting. Some people think of acting as being fake, as being something else. But anyone who's done a drama course, or studied the Robert deNiros and Dustin Hoffmans of this world, knows that can't be true. Acting is a way of letting the real you out!

And so is social media. Yesterday I got a review copy of Against the Machine: Being Human in the Age of the Electronic Mob, written on the premise that "the internet's widespread anonymity eliminates boundaries and encourages otherwise polite people to be downright abusive."

That may be so for some, but I've seen the other side of the coin - real people, exploring and discovering themselves, learning how to become "micro-famous" ... not necessarily for the esteem of others but out of sheer curiosity about what makes us tick.

So... back to performance ... how about this statement:

The self-publishing tools of the internet give people like me (particularly introverts) a playground to explore, discover what I have that is unique to the world.

It's like an incubator for self-branding.

There's a lot in this. Thankfully this is a blog post, not an article or a book, so it's okay that these are fragmentary, half-formed thoughts. There's something to the performance aspect, and there's something to the game aspect that I haven't even touched on it.

And there's also something to the introvert side of it. I find that self-expressing through blogging and Twitter has made me generally more confident in physical-world (I despise the term "real-world", as if what we do on the internet isn't real) situations.

What do you think? Love to hear your thoughts.

Possibly related:
Courage and Cameras
Virtual, or Fake?

Tuesday, 26 August 2008

The benefits of commuting

Worked from home yesterday, which was a welcome relief from the treadmill (literally, as I didn't go to the gym, and metaphorically).

But today I'm back on the treadmill (the metaphorical one, anyway) and already I've consumed a whole heap of information before hitting the work day. Whether I can turn that knowledge into useful action is another thing! :)

But here's what I consumed this morning:

1) A fantastic interview with Erich Joachimsthaler, co-author of Brand Leadership, about how to hardwire innovation into an organisation.

2) The always salubrious For Immediate Release, where I learned about the SEC's IDEA, and that Brits call PR professionals, PR's. My next question, why do the British call marketers marketeers? Is it something to do with musketeers or privateers?

3) Chapter 5 of Groundswell, listening to the groundswell. It's such a well-written introductory text!

4) Paul Dunay's interview with Dotster's Catherine Brown - which, ironically, echoed much of the same info from this morning's Groundswell chapter.

5) Marketing Over Coffee, where I learned about 80s music and Filipino cover bands, among the useful stuff

and I had to stop listening because I'd arrived at work, but am looking forward to:

6)'s Pre-Cast for this year's ESOMAR conference, where among other things they'll be discussing brands as collective constructs. I can't wait!

Monday, 25 August 2008

Jump In #34: TVNZ's Jason Paris

(more info: ) We interview Marketer of the Year, TVNZ's Jason Paris, about how TVNZ has transformed itself in the last few years, and how this large, historical organisation is experimenting with new media while maintaining the old.

Jump In #34: TVNZ's Jason Paris

(more info: ) We interview Marketer of the Year, TVNZ's Jason Paris, about how TVNZ has transformed itself in the last few years, and how this large, historical organisation is experimenting with new media while maintaining the old.


I finally caught Signs (2002) last night. What a refreshing take on the War of the Worlds scenario!

I remember hearing some criticism of it because it didn't fit comfortably in the box of horror or sci-fi, but I felt that was it's strength!

I particularly liked the movie's take on faith - something I've often thought about in horror/sci-fi/thriller situations when people are pressed beyond their limits.

This central bit of dialogue is brilliantly written, and brilliantly acted by Mel Gibson and Joaquin Phoenix:

People break down into two groups when the experience something lucky.

Group number one sees it as more than luck, more than coincidence. They see it as a sign, evidence, that there is someone up there, watching out for them.

Group number two sees it as just pure luck. Just a happy turn of chance. I'm sure the people in Group number two are looking at those fourteen lights in a very suspicious way.

For them, the situation isn't fifty-fifty. Could be bad, could be good. But deep down, they feel that whatever happens, they're on their own. And that fills them with fear. Yeah, there are those people.

But there's a whole lot of people in the Group number one. When they see those fourteen lights, they're looking at a miracle. And deep down, they feel that whatever's going to happen, there will be someone there to help them. And that fills them with hope.

See what you have to ask yourself is what kind of person are you? Are you the kind that sees signs, sees miracles?

Or do you believe that people just get lucky? Or, look at the question this way: Is it possible that there are no coincidences?

Phoenix's character then puts himself into group 1, a believer. Then - to our great surprise - Gibson's character puts himself into group 2:

There is no one looking out for us. We are all alone.

Not to give away any spoilers, but Signs is less about an alien invasion than it is about Gibson's character working his way through what he believes.

It made me think about life in general, and how my faith in God has often been borne out of an awareness of the otherwise overwhelming complexity of life.

Not that I've never disbelieved there is a God. In fact, sometimes, that thought can be kind of comforting. This world is all there is, and it's up to me what I make of it. But that thought only lasts for a brief while, and is only comforting when things are generally hunky dorey! :)

Major kudos to M Knight Shyamalan for tackling this most contemporary of issues in a genre (or genres!) that often ignores faith.

Having said all that, it was also a very human and funny movie, with great one-liners like "Everybody in this family needs to just calm down and eat some fruit or something."

In other movie news, Marie and I saw Tropic Thunder on Friday. Three-word review: best. laugh. ever!

Friday, 22 August 2008

Creativity gives you life!

We had dinner with a couple we really get on with the other night. She's a designer, and a little bit mad as well.

After doing some work talk and some social talk, my head was swimming with creative possibilities.

It reminded me how good it is to play sometimes. Play music, play with ideas, draw, whatever.

But watch out, I had some pretty weird dreams two nights running. Maybe I'll blog about those some other time :)

Thursday, 21 August 2008

Wednesday, 20 August 2008

When big is too big

SimonYoungWriters is doing a couple of jobs for large organisations at the moment, and I feel a real sympathy for anyone involved in corporate comms.

Marketing has it slightly easier - they get to be all strategic most of the time, while comms have to know both strategy and detailed tactics.

Comms people have to keep in tension three big factors: the overall business goals, each department's competing goals, and finally the needs of the reader/viewer/consumer of the content they're producing!

That last one can be quite tricky. Not tricky to understand - just spend a day in your customer's shoes - but tricky to translate into strategy that all the competing elements in your organisation understand.

I'm not sure I have an answer. One could be to think small - I used that phrase when talking about advertising, but perhaps that thinking applies to other areas as well. Think entrepreneurial, while leveraging the scale of your organisation. That's what Air New Zealand and TVNZ are trying to do, and they seem to be doing pretty well with that. (By the way, check out our interview with TVNZ's Jason Paris on Jump In, where he goes into that aspect of TVNZ in some detail)

And then there's what Deloitte calls "Services Thinking", which I heard a podcast about this morning. Similar in concept to Service-Dominant Logic, but with an operational focus instead of marketing. Worth a listen.

Tuesday, 19 August 2008

Podcasts: Blogging marketers, bad lawyers, spiritual entrepreneurs and smart airlines

Great podcast listening this morning. Good to hear Joseph Jaffe back after just a week since his last one! And better still to hear of a groundswell (not to be confused with the Groundswell) of blogs written by actual marketers and agency folks, not just consultants like us who recommend people write blogs.

Then there was chapter 17 of David Maister's podcast/book Strategy and the Fat Smoker, What's wrong with Lawyers. Not being a lawyer, I didn't have to listen to this and found it interesting. Particularly since most politicians are former lawyers. Almost as harmful to innovation and collaboration as journalism!

Then there was Mitch Joel's excellent interview with E-Myth author Michael Gerber. Absolutely inspiring. My gem of the day: "Being an Entrepreneur is a truly spiritual thing. Spirituality is more pragmatic than we thought, and pragmatism is more spiritual than we thought."

Finally, HBR's Ideacast looked at how Singapore Airlines is zagging when everyone else is zigging in the airline industry. Very good bits and pieces!

Some random thoughts:
  • It is sooo good to get some exercise in today, not just for the exercise but also because I get to listen to podcasts
  • It will be so weird when I finally meet the likes of Mitch Joel and Joseph Jaffe, because my mind mixes up where I am when I hear them, and makes those into shared experiences. Eg I associate the opening music of Foreword Thinking with walking around my street in Titirangi, yet Mitch himself has never been there. It's different from video, where you see the face behind the voice, in their setting, not yours.

Monday, 18 August 2008

Update from the front

The speaking season, part 1, has passed. Four speaking engagements in the last two weeks. I should get used to it!

Over the next few days (touch wood) I'll be updating this blog as well as iJump's blog with some of the goodies from those speaking engagements.

Meantime, work continues apace with SimonYoungWriters. A couple of people have asked if that is still going, now that iJump is grabbing the spotlight. It definitely is, and we have big plans for it - but they remain behind the curtain at the moment.

Matter of fact, we have big plans for iJump as well. Big plans all around! But for today, a small plan - tick off all the to-do items on my list! :)

Wednesday, 6 August 2008

Jump In #33: Broadband "debate"

(more info: ) We're joined by Bernard Hickey from, Ernie Newman, head of, and Rob O'Neill, editor of magazine. The topic is broadband, and it's just a taste of the Digital Future Now summit in Auckland next week: Thanks to Bullet PR for their help!