Social Media ’09

Yesterday in a warm Thistle Hotel in the West End of rainy London, team mashup* presented the Social Media ’09 conference.

With a kick-off at 2pm, SM09 featured four hours of case studies and presentations from around 20 people, all from different backgrounds, with something to share about how their company uses Social Media. In the audience were 200 of London’s leading social media strategists and communications specialists are gathering to share and debate their experiences, lessons and trends in social media. Amongst them were Sarah Beeny and Robin Wight (the ‘Celebrity’ keynote speakers).

Speakers included:
Marshall Manson (Edelman), Giles Rhys Jones (Ogivly), Mat Morisson (Porter Novelli), Katy Lindemann (Naked), Dan Klein (Detica), Tony Gunton (Altogether Digital), Penelope Lipsham (Altogether Digital), Emma Cowan (COI), Heather Hampson (COI), Amanda Rose (Twestival), Paul Borge (Consolidated), Mark Pack (Mandate), Nic Ray (Quirk/IdeaBounty), Andrew Gerrard (D-Marketing), Giles Palmer (Magpie), Andrew Grill (, Chris Thorpe (Jaggeree), Jonathan Akwue (Digital Public), Josh Feldberg (Digital Public)

This wasn’t another event full of people claiming to be “Social Media Experts” (although there were a few of those about), this was one of those rare occasions where a lot of the bright minds of the industry meet together, gel some ideas and chat about what’s working for them, and what’s not. As well as looking forward to 2010 and predicting what’s going to be big in SM.

There were so many interesting talks, I thought I’d just give a run down of the ones that caught my attention;

This is a great system for ranting. Whenever you’re annoyed about a company, product or event, something commonplace, you can either write about it on the QuietRiots website, or tweet your stresses with the #quietriot hashtag. These then get collected by the system, and are available for companies to monitor (and/or act upon). This is different from regular brand management, because the user is coming to you. This is crowd sourced moaning if you will. I quite like it. The only downside is that all the comments are negative by nature – but that’s what works.

Mat Morrison gave a rather funny talk about the emerging clash between Market Norms and Social Norms. Mentioning Aleksandr_Orlov from the recent Compare the Meerkat campaign, stating we all know fluffy meerkats don’t run companies. It’s all about the business relationship.

First Direct

Deborah Copeland & Amanda Brown of First Direct claimed that customers are their greatest advocates. The First Direct website uses some pretty interesting flash widgets on their website. They have a tag cloud generated by words used to describe FD, and tag clouds of words used to describe their competitors. Of course there’s a bias here, but it’s interesting to see none the less. They have bubbles with either + or – signs to denote positive or negative comments, which are pulled in through RSS feeds via blogs/facebook/twitter etc. They claim to farm over 8 million websites for comments.

First Direct seem to be using Social Media to show their transparency and proove that they’re listening. The problem is, do they act upon the feedback – if so, how?

They have build brand monitoring tools, the results of which are then published with live commentary, so the public can see the current sentiment about the brand. This is one instance of brand monitoring tools being used to build trust.

Paul Borge is the man behind MTV’s Safe Sex Campaign. This is an HIV/Aids charity, raising awareness of safe sex. The idea was to get young people taking the bat and advocating safe sex. And of course they wanted to raise money for campaigns in Africa.

The problem was that young people are not traditional media followers, as we know, young people are more into Social Media. That’s why Paul’s team used Spotify. That’s right, they are the guys behinds the overly annoying safe sex advert on Spotify! Yes, yes, the one that always happens to play when you’re introducing a family member to Spotify.

Not only did they use advertising campaigns, but they shared 10 playlists over Spotify, under the guise of “music you can make love to”. Basically something for bloggers to get a hold of. They worked with some high profile bloggers like girlwithaonetrackmind to spread the word. In fact that’s one thing to take note of from this campaign: blogger relations. Don’t send bloggers stupid regurgitated press released, nobody wants to read them, or silly competitions that bring no benefit to the blogger. Instead, offer something of interest.

“Don’t treat Social Media as a magic bullet or something to wrap around at the end, get all the digital team together early”.

Mark Pack of the Liberal Democrats offered some common sense advice. If you’re worried about integrating all of your online presences into one place, use a life stream. He also quoted “The only way to control your content is to be the best provider of it” and mentioned that companies shouldn’t send out cease & desists, this isn’t best way to control comments, the solution is to be the best provider. Make sure people are coming to you for the information.

Mark also made an interesting comment that 75% of people prefer ‘blog’ to ‘news’, it might be worth changing the name of that button on your website and monitoring the result.

Controversy (Detica)

I think I’ll wrap-up my round-up with the most controversial talk of the day. Dan Klein of Detica. I think their company strapline says it all really: “Detica specialises in collecting, managing and exploiting information to reveal actionable intelligence”.

Let me give you an example of what they do;

They wrote an app to farm the data of all eBay transactions since 2001. By this I mean they held a record of every single transaction that took place over eBay. That alone is creepy enough, but then they went “looking for criminals”. Specifically looking for users purchasing ammonium nitrate. After finding 50 people, they then reported them to the US government as suspected bomb makers.

Excuse me? I must’ve missed the point when the International Governments granted Detica a warrant for all data on the Internet and asked them to police the web.

Dan kept emphasising that what they do is entirely legal. Well yes, there are wholes in the current laws that make data farming legal, but that doesn’t make it morally acceptable.

There were a few other examples of how Detica dig deep to track down your data, and use it against you. Not only in policing cases, but for selling your information on, or using it to target you for other purposes. I couldn’t help thinking these guys made Phorm look unimportant. I think more than anything this proves that we need to keep laws up to date with technology.

Andrew Grill and Chris Thrope also gave two very good talks. I recommend you look into all the speakers I’ve mentioned in this post, there’s some really good material out there.

I’d like to congratulate the mashup* team for putting on such a great conference. They venue was packed-out with interesting people. The only problem throughout the event as far as I know was flaky WiFi access (as is always the case with BTOpenZone), but Emma from mashup* solved that problem by providing everyone with access cards. Well played guys!

Here’s a PDF log of of the #SM09 hashtag tweets over the last two days.

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