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why we ‘like’ October 23, 2014

Posted by nicholas gill in patrick mulford, social media, theaudience.
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I adore Patrick. We used to work together. He’s now in LA working for theAudience. I miss working with Patrick because he would tell you tales of the most amazing things, particularly his fascination with tattoos which you can explore in his book. And of course he was pretty decent as a Creative Director too. So it was a little treat to watch him perform on stage at Social Media Week in LA recently via the interwebs (you’ll need to register to watch which seems pretty anti-social and content equality but there you go). Why social media still needs a week is still beyond me. Direct mail never got a week. I still miss chromalin proofs. Anyway, Patrick’s argument is that social media just reflects what we do as humans. What we’ve always done. It’s just a new way of doing it.

He argues that social media is the new bedroom wall and given that we’re fond of sharing our associations and passions across social, he’s pretty spot on. And that we edit our own social content to project the ‘me that I want people to see.’ That memes and hashtags mitigate the risk of us normal people exposing ourselves and reduce the risk of sharing.

At theAudience, they break down social media into 4 things. Yes, only 4 –  a refreshing change versus the bollocks of the social world I shared yesterday.

1. It’s about communication.

2. It helps you create social identity through affiliation (to groups, people, stars, brands etc.)

3. It enables you to share life moments.

4. It helps you express mutual values and passions.

Common sense at last. No world-changing rhetoric, just a clear perspective on what social media does.

But put that aside because the real magic is the first 25 minutes or so of Patrick telling stories (and trying to hide in the shadows and wander around the stage). The story about Hemingway being challenged to tell a story in 6 words is beautiful. And one that every community manager charged with 140 characters should heed.

For sale: baby shoes, never worn.

The history and evolution of emotions explored by Robert Plutchick is staggeringly simple but also inspiring and helps the storyteller to shape stories to move between emotions seemingly at will.


And of course he references one of his tattoo journeys. Do buy the book, it’s not really about tattoos. It’s about human experiences and a very personal take on life. Although it was nice to see Patrick’s tattoos finally on display. And the neck scarf too.

Thank you Patrick. One day my friend, one day…

social media is bullshit October 21, 2014

Posted by nicholas gill in social media.

social photo 1

We’ve all wondered this at some stage surely? Probably when we’re sat in meetings and hear the word ‘engagement’ used so often you start imaging doing horrible things to the person using that word. Or to yourself if you’re the one saying it (I have). I borrowed this book from my copywriter, Ian. The first half seeks to debunk the entire mythology surrounding social media and in effect portrays it as something that has been created purely to create revenue for the people who talk social media up. The author takes down the ‘cyber hipsters’ and the glossy social campaigns that have been touted before us in the style of the second coming and venting much furious anger particularly at the likes of Chris Brogan who styled themselves as some form of social demi-god and challenged everyone who wasn’t getting returns in social that they just weren’t doing it right (i.e. come to me, pay me a truck load of dollar bills and I will help you). It’s fascinating. And makes you re-think the language we all use when talking about social media. The book then loses its way a little and goes off on some kind of road trip example of how social just doesn’t work. I think the author could have stopped half way and saved me another train journey reading it but hey. I’ll forgive him this though because who doesn’t like an Arnie quote as a chapter heading?

social photo 2

The author is clearly tapping into the unease people feel about social media and how people make it seem so complicated and that actually it’s so completely different from other media that we shouldn’t worry too much about how it contributes to sales. Well, what is the point then? People glibly say that they have moved on from the ‘vanity metric’ of Likes and follower counts but they haven’t really. When challenged to run a survey to draw out brand advocacy, purchase frequency and to re-run this activity every quarter to track impact of the activity, some brands (and agencies) shy away from this. Why? Will it expose the fact that social may not be working? Tracked well – and of course with some tight content that is core to the brand – social can contribute to direct sales or lead generation. Not tracked, you’re just contributing to the vagueness of social and the beigeness of the platforms.

It’s interesting to listen to this radio broadcast (or podcast) directly after reading this book. I struggled with a lot of the ‘social’ese’ being talked about but particularly that the ‘old way’ is to pay for attention on a media channel. With social media, you can create your own audience. Erm… Facebook and Twitter and the likes are essentially media platforms. Hungrily sucking your media dollars to get your shiny social content in front of your followers. You don’t play by their rules, you don’t win. They are advertising platforms. They are not free. You have to pay to be seen. And pay people to create that content that gets seen. And you have to determine if the investment you’re making is worth the 4,500 people who participated in a competition to choose the Asda Christmas tea towel campaign. Or whether £20,000 you paid to a You Tube vlogger to make a video baking cupcakes using Asda ingredients is good value. It probably was when he says it attracted 500,000 views (4p per view) but how many went on to buy? Did the loop get closed? You can bet when they spend £500,000 on Michael Owen for a TV commercial that the media impact gets analysed to death and that you see an impact in sales when the campaign is running.

Social media is also rife with play books, tips, tricks and formulas for success. One talked about in this radio show was that you have to create 10 posts of ‘engaging’ content, which Asda chap described as “it can sound like nonsense” in order to get across your 1 post that you want to ‘sell’ with or ‘get them to do what we want them to do.’ While on the one hand that explains the proliferation of posts telling us that it’s Friday, on the other, it contributes to the attack of the beige. Think about it. In what other media do you produce 10 pieces of nonsense and then one ad that tries to elicit a response?

I don’t think social media is bullshit but I do think we need to be very careful about how it is used and how we talk about it. We need to show it can be effective in helping a brand deliver it’s objectives. I like the way this Lego social person sums up how they measure social:

We measure ROI in four different ways: direct Sales, brand affinity building, marketing efficiency and our ability to mitigate risk/damage control.

tiny explosive ideas with tiny explosive coffee October 16, 2014

Posted by nicholas gill in book review, growth hacking, marketing.
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Stop thinking about the “big” idea. The big idea that marketing searches for elusively. We’ve all sat in meetings searching for the big idea. Written briefs that demand a big idea. Followed a path of big media that will fuel a big idea. And moaned that either the agency can’t come up with the big idea or that the client isn’t brave enough to go with the big idea.

Well, forget the big idea. Because the growth hackers don’t need them, They focus on the tiny ideas that have an explosive, catalytic quality. Ideas that have propelled Airbnb, dropbox and even hotmail from start up to brands of hugeness seemingly overnight. The tiny ideas that as marketeers, we seem to have forgotten – or skip over because they’re not big enough. And tiny ideas that exclude marketing completely and re-focus energy into the product itself. Get the product fit first.

You don’t have to be a start up either to start re-thinking your approach to gaining customers and growing revenue – something all of us in marketing are guilty of when we are in the pursuit of ‘the launch’ of new products. The book challenges us to think again and get out of the formulaic box that we’ve allowed ourselves to crawl into.

This book is packed with examples and inspiration. And it’s also tiny in size. Easily consumed on a tiny plane doing a tiny European short haul hop.

Tiny is good. I’ll be thinking tiny and explosive from now on.

Thanks to Georgie at Profile Books for providing the book to review. I have not been paid for this review but obviously wouldn’t mind if it were on offer.


agency fuel September 15, 2014

Posted by nicholas gill in agency life, coffee, honest coffees.
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I do like a bit of coffee as my tweets will show. So a surprise package in the post from Honest Coffees was always going to go down well. Free coffee in the post. What’s not to like? Honest Coffees supply agencies and what-not with coffee subscriptions – proof that you can subscribe to anything these days. But given that agencies are fuelled by such substances to maintain the energy levels against the blank sheet of paper at the start of the day and the ebb and flow of internal and client rejection and adoration, this mailing seems a super-smart idea to me. I also noticed the close to sell-by date on the sample itself but I also think this is another smart idea to make sure your stock doesn’t go to waste. Mind you, coffee lasts forever right?

Now onto the tasting. The coffee is a dark roast called Smooth Operator. It’s a little too dark and bitter for me. Maybe I just haven’t got the levels right in the cafetiere?

say hello to your little friend – travel light August 11, 2014

Posted by nicholas gill in business travel, gadgets, nomad, nomadkey, technology, Uncategorized.
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photo 2 photo 1

I’ve been doing a lot of business travel recently and one of the major pains is carrying all the leads and power cables for your various devices. So it was pretty timely that the guys at Nomad asked me to try out their new Nomadkey – a USB cable that’s well, key sized.

It’s small (yes, key sized), rubberised material and bendy and flexible. It fits snugly on your key ring or just in the many pockets of your bag. And it’s nowhere near as bulky as your phone charger. I travelled with both for a couple of trips because without phone power, you become paranoid but I left it at home the last couple of times. I seem to take my laptop with me so it’s easy just to plug it into that or the TV USB in the hotel room that I discovered on this.

It’s great. I use it all the time at my desk too rather than fiddling around with many wires and sockets.

I haven’t yet used the credit card version but I’m off again soon so will give it a whirl and update.

photo 3

Thanks to Olivia at Nomad. I have not been paid for this post.

this is what excellence in integrated digital communications looks like August 2, 2014

Posted by nicholas gill in advertising, align technology, award, communique awards 2014, digital, Doner, integration, invisalign, social media.
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WINNERSme winner

We won an award recently and I can’t tell you how thrilled I am. It was for the work we’ve been doing for Align Technology to generate awareness and lead generation for Invisalign across Europe.

The award was for the 2013 consumer campaign, “Smile and the Whole World Smiles With You” received the Excellence in Integrated Digital Communication award at the 2014 Communique Awards on July 3.

The Invisalign Smile campaign ran across key markets in Europe, where a mix of appointment-to-view television programming on digital channels was sponsored with integrated digital direct response, social media paid advertising, social media community activation programs, Pay Per Click, and digital innovations such as Zeebox in the UK and use of the new Twitter Card lead generation functionality. This strategic approach was designed to get more target consumers to ask for Invisalign treatment at dental practitioners and leveraged an integrated consumer marketing campaign that engaged and motivated people with problem teeth to start Invisalign treatment.

The award judges summed it up nicely:

“The beauty of this campaign is its demonstration of what could be achieved outside standard pharma practice. It was a paradigm in terms of its integration of carefully chosen, appropriate channels and had digital at its heart. It’s also very in-sync with where the industry is going to have to go in terms of the breadth and connectivity of different communications channels.”




And it also worked, here’s what Raph, the VP International at Align had to say:

“The Invisalign Smile campaign had a significant impact including driving prompted brand awareness for Invisalign and achieving 30% growth for Invisalign lnfo Kit downloads and Find an Invisalign Provider searches. Our social media community grew a phenomenal 140% (2.5X) year on year and the Smile campaign helped to impact our total business objective by increasing Invisalign case submissions.”


Really terrific stuff. I’m really proud of this work. It shows what can happen when a client and agency work together in a proper relationship to deliver great things.


From The New Integration to The Newest Integration May 30, 2014

Posted by nicholas gill in integration, thought leadership.
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The New Integration

On August 10, 2010, I posted an article on my blog entitled, “The New Integration.

At the time, there was a lot of talk about integration being dead. Integration was old, lumpy, slow and no longer sexy. It wasn’t suited to the new socially aware age.

Back then, the stand-out campaign of the year – and it still endures today as a case study of legend – was Old Spice’s “Smell Like a Man, Man.” Of course, it was an integrated campaign.

Since then, technology has moved on apace making a mockery of the simplicity of the Mad Men era and the vintage approach and lifestyle that some still seem intent to aspire to. The classic lead generation funnel is similarly viewed by misty-eyed marketers for no more use today than charting conversions in a spreadsheet. It does not provide a representation of what actually happens outside of the boardroom.

The Current State of Integration

Today, the funnel constantly shifts. The marketing landscape consists of attention-grabbing event moments in appointment to watch television that spark conversations and actions to quick-minded reactions.

The landscape continues to change too. Facebook seemingly changes weekly, while only showing interest in numbers that are in the billions. Instagram was the anti-Facebook. Then Facebook bought it. WhatsApp was the anti-Facebook – the place where the tricky to pin down youth demographic hung out. Then Facebook bought it. Snapchat launched and was much better than Facebook’s Messenger app. And then… well, not yet.

Facebook said it changed itself from a utility to a mobile company because 65% of all social activity takes place on a mobile device, according to ComScore. Mobile devices are where we’re spending more of our time. Marketers instinctively look to target this audience. Which is why you hear “mobile first” as a mantra.

We instinctively gravitate to mobile because it’s shiny. In the same way that social was shiny before Zuckerburg started sucking the dollars out of the marketing budget with diminishing returns. The mobile device is always with the consumer, so clearly we can target them exactly when and where we want. But sadly, this is mainly where broadcast media went wrong. The 30-second spot became so popular that it became wallpaper, forcing consumers to fast-forward the ad break and agencies to dial up the creativity to stand out.

Digital banners are ten a penny. Most of us have banner blindness and an odd acceptance that a 0.1% response rate is amazing. That’s 99.9% irrelevant. Mobile is heading the same way. Inventory is cheap. Reach is high. Bang ‘em out, right? Wrong.

The Newest Integration

In a recent study from Adobe entitled “Digital Roadblock: Marketers Struggle to Reinvent Themselves” personalization was the most important priority on marketer’s lists. That’s right – it out ranked mobile.

Now, we need to understand the role of mobile in a customer’s relationship/journey with a brand and the points where you can intervene and helpfully add value.

Integration has never been more relevant. Today’s integration is nimble, without boundaries, creative and impactful. Today’s integration understands the multiple and complex client and brand issues and the unstructured, unbound customer and prospect relationships with your brand and each other. Today’s integration understands how to use and blend the many, many tools – including mobile – at our disposal and how you can leverage them to work together.

The newest integration could be a responsive website, a useful app, a near-time response to a customer complaint in social media, an experiential stunt to surprise and delight or even a telly ad to stamp your brand and what you stand for right between the eyes.

For your brand to be successful in The Newest Integration, consider the following:

1. Think about the bigger decision making journey

Don’t get bogged down in the details by creating a banner ad. There are so many things that influence a decision. Identify the key experiences that consumers will resonate with to make a decision. Then, activate against an approach rather than just an idea.

2. Don’t be biased to one particular channel

If the environment is not right, then fix the environment. Don’t try to polish the turd with pretty creative. That will just be a waste of time, money and resources.

3. Avoid the temptation to attain the social status of another brand

Brands and consumers both want to be authentic. Create your own trends and establish your own voice to increase engagement and overall business results. Don’t be another me-too brand in our me-first world. It simply won’t work.

Distraction and the Internet April 17, 2014

Posted by nicholas gill in distraction, internet, productivity, social media, Uncategorized, website, webtrate.
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65% of us get distracted by the Internet. Distracted form doing stuff by doing more stuff like emails, general web surfing and of course, social media. 53% also admitted that the reduction in productivity caused them dissatisfaction and unhappiness.

I can empathise. I’m far too easily distracted at present. I need to switch off. And now you can with Webtrate. Despite the site looking like it’s come from the 90s – deliberate given the context of what they’re trying t do I hope – you sign up and get a number of options to turn off all these distractions and focus. Anything from a simple timer to a complete lock down. Splendid.

Image source.

Soundbites from MediaPost OMMA London Panel: Channels, channels and more channels. April 12, 2014

Posted by nicholas gill in Uncategorized.
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I was invited to be a panellist at Mediapost’s OMMA London conference on 2 April. The panel was Channels, Channels and More Channels with a large focus on mobile and video content. Although you’re welcome to watch the 45 minutes in full here, I’ve done a little deck of the soundbites from me just for fun.



small data March 26, 2014

Posted by nicholas gill in big data, small data.
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I’ve been travelling a lot lately for work and the simplicity of the Dutch train system as a foreign traveller always impresses me. Not only is it incredibly simple to buy a ticket and found out which platform your train is going from at Schipol airport but once you’re on the train, the large TV style display makes it easy for you to track your journey to the minute. I’m sure there’s a gazillion data bits that sit under this but the outcome is that in a country where I can barely understand any word of the language (Dutch is hard), I can get myself around incredibly easily and it works pretty much all of the time. Compare this to the on-train service in the UK (specifically South West Trains) where the announcements are largely impenetrable and inaudible. The on-screen dot matrix horizontal scrolling is not permanently on so if you glance up to see where you’re at after you’ve dozed off, you really have no clue.

So I’m avoiding big data and becoming a fan of small data. The small things that make a big difference.




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