1000heads: Delight and Surprise

This is one of my favourite GapingVoid images of recent times. It’s printed and stuck on the wall next to my desk.

Hugging your client, it’s a good thing. How does it work?

I’ll give you a real world example. If I am your client and you make me feel special by delivering something personal or delightful or simply make me smile and laugh, then hurrah – you’ve hugged me.

You could, of course, actually hug me – that’d be cool also – but you get the idea.

Last week, I was out at lunch buying a couple of boxes of noodles to take back to the office –  c/o those lovely folk at Wok to Walk. The woman behind the counter told me as I was leaving – “I’ll mark it so you know which one is yours.”

I said thank you and headed back to the office. This is what I found when I got back…

"Yours"

Brilliant.

Look. I know this isn’t rocket science. I know this isn’t ground breaking. And I know that this isn’t part of some mastermind strategy that Wok to Walk have and adhere to.

That’s the point.

Just because you’re a brand/company/ship/purveyor of noodles, doesn’t mean you automatically forget how to be a human being. The title of this post is “Delight and Surprise”. What happened with my lunch last week made me smile and laugh….  and I shared it with everyone (including you).

So simple, so easy.. yet so many forget to do it.

Ask yourself – Have you hugged your client today?

1000heads: If it's broken, fix it!

“This is the story of four people named Everybody, Somebody, Anybody and Nobody. There was an important job to be done and Everybody was asked to do it. Anybody could have done it, but Nobody did it. Somebody got angry about that, because it was Everybody’s job. Everybody thought Anybody could do it, but Nobody realized that Everybody wouldn’t do it. Consequently, it wound up that Nobody told Anybody, so Everybody blamed Somebody.”

Recently, in a piece for Reputation Online, Steve Waddington from Speed Communications said that “corporate blogging is broken.”

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While admitting this is indeed an over-statement, he still goes on to make some valid points as to why in the UK at least, corporate blogging has yet to take off.

Citing ownership, authenticity and human vs corporate communication as the three main reasons as to why, @wadds goes on to say that while these issues continue to throttle bloggging on a corporate level, there are some excellent examples out there of people doing it well.

I agree with Steve, there are some great examples of corporate blogs out there – you’re reading one right now 😉 – but what his post doesn’t do is explain how to address the issues that he raises.

Let’s try and do that shall we?

1) Ownership

Steve says:

“Should a blog be the pet project of a senior executive or fall within the communications or PR team, product marketing, customer relations or human resources? And legal will almost certainly want to get involved and pass judgement on blog posts and comments.”

We say:

It depends on your objective.

Time and time again when it comes to corporate blogging, brands just throw a single blog post up and expect it to change the world. I once actually had a conversation with someone (who shall remain nameless) where they said: “Well we had a MySpace, but it didn’t do anything. So we closed it.” – Amazing. This rule doesn’t just apply to corporate blogging, obviously. The same can be said for any business activity.

What is your goal? Paint a target, then go for it.

In this instance if your blog is to just put a human face onto some of your PR messages then this falls to your PR department. If you want to address a few customer service issues, then liaise with your customer service department. If it’s a combination of both, then speak to both.

As a side note, if it comes to your legal department, keep them in the loop the whole time. Work with them to develop a set of guidelines that you both agree on and stick to them.

It really isn’t rocket science.

2) Human communication vs corporate communication

Steve says:

“There are fundamental differences between how people communicate and how companies communicate – and very few corporate organisations have managed to bridge that gap.”

We say:

Agreed! Totally!

But how do we address this?

Once you’ve been through point 1 (setting your objectives and appointing ownership), your next step is to find the right voice. Seeking out and finding your very own brand evangelist/community manager might not be easy, but if you close your eyes and think hard you could probably come up with one maybe two people in your company that truly live and breathe your brand or product. If you can’t, then the chances are that it’s you.

You are a human being.

Guess what? So is the person you’re thinking of. Admittedly this is a very simple way of looking at things, but by truly embracing and trusting in your community manager, you will find your voice. Talk to each other, compare notes. Embrace social communications and don’t be afraid of people.

3) Authenticity

Steve says:

“Finally there is the issue of the generation of authentic content. It’s the only way to attract and stimulate an audience yet organisations see it as time consuming and requiring the constant input of senior management.”

We say:

If you stick to the points above, this third and final point should not be an issue. At 1000heads we talk about the anthropomorphism of brands and the importance of PEOPLE being able to talk to PEOPLE. There are people behind the brand, just like there are brands behind products.

Trust in your people, trust in yourself and most of all, remember that you are a human being.

Keep it real.
Keep it simple.
Keep it honest.


In summary; know your objective, be a human being and ultimately, use your corporate blog to delight and excite the people that matter most to your business. With any problem the first half of the battle is identifying what needs fixing. The next step is the how.

Hopefully we’ve gone some way to help out in that respect.

Please, leave a comment if you have any questions or opinions.
We’d love to help.

Madrid: Being Human

Sitting on the plane to Spain, listening to Frightened Rabbit, a colleague sleeping to my left and, what can only be described as some kind of Spanish martial arts ninja of the old world, (and yet barely 17) to my right…

I ponder.

See this is another work trip… I’ve been all over the place this year, and now I’m in Madrid to meet with Journalists and Bloggers to discuss the future; Where is blogging going and what Web 2.0 learnings am I able to share with the local geeks etc.

There’s been a massive explosion in Europe within the blogging scene of late with over 2million Spaniards creating blogs, getting online and consuming content etc..

Reading the ‘Briefing Document’ …(all of this is still so new and alien to me y’know, I mean – ‘Briefing Documents’ – What?! Really?! It’s like an actual episode of Mission Impossible)… Anyway, reading the ‘Briefing Document’ just now there was a great quote from a well known Spanish Blogger called ‘Enrique Dans’ that goes as follows:

Companies are basically divided into two types, those that have had a problem with their image as a result of blogs and those that will encounter this problem in the future…

I chuckled when I read this.

It’s pretty much spot on.. for 95% of all companies.

The remaining 5% (and some may argue this number may be larger or smaller with equal vigor) have a presence in this space because they genuinely want to engage with their users and customers in a meaningful way. This doesn’t have to be some kind of ‘preemptive strike’ to head off any untoward conversation/posts that may happen online, it can really manifest itself from a deep yearning to truly understand your consumer.

Zappos are a fantastic a fantastic example of this. Yes, we’re a brand. Yes, we’re a company but also, and ultimately, we’re Human too.
Their strapline being “Powered by Service”… and their Wikipedia entry pointing out their use of ‘Relationship Marketing‘.

I’m a passionate believer in Social Media and all of that which comes along with it (I’ve wrtten about it before) but something that I will always ALWAYS come back to is:

This stuff ain’t rocket science. It’s merely about doing things right.

Recently, when I spoke at Nokia Open Lab, I talked around how the internet (and with that, Social Media), is the great amplifier. So the kind of person that you are, once expressed digitally in the online space, is magnified tenfold, depending on the platform you use and the strength of voice you have/pertain to use..

I think the exact wordage was:

To me, that’s what Social Media does, it amplifies the good things. There are alot of good people in the room and if you’re a nice person and it amplifies, amplifies out onto the internet, you’ll meet other people like yourself, other nice people…

So following that thought through further – but tying it back to the lack of rocket scientists required for this ideology – You could feasibly propose that those who would/will do best in this space are… Good People.

Humans are, by nature, social creatures…

What is Social Media then, if not an extension of this primitive need to connect?

Offline and/or online you’ll always find those who are more social than others; the party people, the polite people the rude people and the rankling people…

S’funny, at this point I’m reminded of an old school friend who, without fail, every Christmas and Birthday would send a thank you note to all that sent her a gift or a card. I’ve never had the patience, time or inclination to place such a high priority on this level of communication, (but I’ll always try and call or something, I’m not that bad).

But that’s not the point.

The point is, this friend, I think she’d be great at implementing Social Media into her place of work. I always thought she was a good person for doing this whole thank you note thing and well…

Social Media isn’t about Technology, it isn’t about being online or offline…

It’s simply about being Human.

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Published at 17:22 Friday afternoon in Madrid.
Originially written at 10:15 Thursday morning, somewhere over Spain.