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  • The digital citizen 11:30 pm on March 13, 2010 Permalink | Reply
    Tags: Detroit, dialogue, Ford, General Motors, social media   

    Detroit is dead, long live Detroit 

    Watching “Requiem for Detroit“, a BBC documentary on the rise and fall of the city of Detroit, among the many things that attracted my attention was how the automotive industry in the 50s influenced the current culture and in a way is responsible for the materialistic way people live their lives today.

    When owning a car stopped being a privilege of the rich, Ford and General Motors made the car a need for everyone.

    Ford increased the daily wage to 5$ in a time when the average USA wage was 2.5$ in order to make his cars affordable among his employees.

    General Motors created 2 series of cars, The Cadillac, the more expensive car targeting the rich and the Chevrolet for the lower middle class. Everyone should own a car.

    Both were responsible for and the main pressure group for the creation of the  great Detroit freeways, creating the sense that further to a need for the obvious reasons, driving can also be a great experience. This way they created a need for sports cars, which, of course, they provided for.

    It is true that the automotive industry raised the standard of life among the residents of Detroit who increasingly started moving to the suburbs. GM did not fail to spot the opportunity to market cars as a need among the suburbs wives, if they were to be modern and independent.

    Detroit’s flourishing and prosperity made the city inspirational for Americans living in across the country, spreading the need for a car and the general Detroit lifestyle beyond Michigan’s borders.

    I can’t help wondering; if Detroit is the actual place when it all started, the hometown of imposed needs and material happiness, what does its collapse mean for the rest of us?

    A new beginning, I hope. Thankfully, social media have enabled global dialogue and this means that only people, and not an industry alone, can influence people.

    • Zoe Marmara 12:09 am on March 14, 2010 Permalink | Reply

      “Social media have enabled global dialogue”: Isn’t that an oxymoron? The notion of ‘global’ applies to everybody, yet, we are aware of the fact that Social Media are means accessible only to the industrialized part of the world. Anyway, I think what you describe is part of the long history of globalization, which is strongly connected to western culture. Material happiness is a long sociological process. I can’t think there’s a way back. Back where? Marketing and sales rely on human behaviour and needs. Back, was when we needed, not less, but different things. Man can’t think differently. There are social norms that drive us. People more ambitious than the rest, used common sense, ethical values and religious beliefs to start economical progress. The truth is, if the drive for ‘material happiness’ stops, we will be poor, uneducated, unethical and immoral. Comes with the territory. I guess it was a good thing I studied sociology in high school… :))

      • The digital citizen 12:21 am on March 14, 2010 Permalink | Reply

        Still it is the western world that influences modern culture. Social media have enable conversation among people, regardless of location, ethnicity, culture and we no longer need brands to tells us how to behave, we have each other to ask for advice when we need it.
        I am optimistic that Detroit will not be repeated because the people are now responsible for the social norms.

    • Zoe Marmara 10:47 pm on March 15, 2010 Permalink | Reply

      You’re right, we have each other. I like optimism in you – I think you’ve just set a nice example there. 🙂

  • The digital citizen 12:10 am on February 10, 2010 Permalink | Reply
    Tags: , myscpace, social, social media,   

    Social media and real sociability 

    When we are talking Social Media we tend to mean campaigns using the normal social media platforms, such as Facebook, MySpace, Twitter etc to connect with the public, building a strong relationship.

    It has been playing a lot lately in my mind that, as much as I love and believe in social media, that a great work, “social” is being misused or, at least, restricted to a limited amount of platforms, whose common ground is the internet. The internet is social but not just the internet is. My local coffee shop is social as is my local hospital.

    I was wondering, therefore, would it be possible to create local campaign, activated on the internet? Here is what I mean:

    During the HIV awareness week, we all see ads on the tube and red ribbons on twitter avatars. There is a number of walk in clinics in London and around the cities of the world. Wouldn’t it be more helpful to partner those clinics and launch a series of awareness lectures, where real people can talk of their experiences? Online and mobile media have now got the technology to recommend the closest clinic to where you are when you are seeing this advert. Such a campaign will result is much reduced media costs, with the rest of the budget donated to the clinics, which often struggle with their finances.

    Videos filmed within the clinics, showing real people, doctors and patients, can then become great viral material which can be distributed for next to nothing, with the power of social media, to thousands, if not hundreds of thousands to others, increasing the awareness.

    The internet is social, but human beings have been social before the internet. Could there be ways to activate the social element of the human with technology yet in environments outside it and within the society? Social media is undoubtedly a driving force for dialogue, yet has SM the power to generate the same dialogue outside the comfort of our sofa and within the real world, unmasked? This is how philosophy was born.

    • Another Day On Facebook 3:00 am on February 10, 2010 Permalink | Reply

      All I can do is clap. I have been wondering this question for some time. I even just posted a blog about how I discovered how social media really connects us through the internet but disconnects us in real life.

      I feel as if people are beginning to get lazy. It is easier to sit in front of the computer and click the like button on one of those pink ribbons for breast cancer awareness. It is harder to actually rally support in your community behind a cause.

      Another Day On Facebook

  • The digital citizen 4:28 pm on October 22, 2009 Permalink | Reply
    Tags: ROI, social media   

    ROI from socia media 

    Excellent presentation on proving the accountability of social media.


  • The digital citizen 10:08 pm on October 13, 2009 Permalink | Reply
    Tags: , social media,   

    This is social 


    Web 2.0 has caused a great cultural swift in the way people communicate. It allowed people to express themselves among their friends and in communities of like minded people that quite often are far to reach offline.

    Some fanatical opponents of social media claim that they are only here until the next big thing arrives, failing to see that the next big thing will also be a social platform. Why? Because so far new technologies and designs have been changing trends but changing a whole culture may take a long time or may just not happen at all.

    What I find amazing when it comes to social media is that they do not depend on the interests of larger corporations to boom or collapse but on the people who will either embrace or reject them. And it is not the marketing or media agencies that define their future, based on advertising solutions available but the public who will decide whether a new social platform is here to stay.

    Social media have rudely entered the media landscape to help people communicate. Facebook started as a Harvard versions of Hot or Not and Twitter as a “daylong brainstorming session” board members at Odeo express their creativity, meaning that they are here to stay because they fill a need for expression. The reasoning behind their huge success is their usefulness, being that breaking communication barriers or real time search and news.

    Social media are giving people opportunities to be part of something bigger. To be happy together and protest together. To hear the news faster and comment on them. But most of all to be heard without having to shout. More like…to be appreciated. This is social.

    • bezalel 12:06 am on October 15, 2009 Permalink | Reply

      Ok… Social media have a harmonizing effect on some people. (Including you!) I love optimism! Being optimistic by nature, I’m glad I live in the age of social media, the age of optimism! 🙂 This… digital landscape is in its greater surface, unexplored and what what we call “society of information” is still defining its scope and capacity and foundation. Social media is still new. That’s why it emerges free from prejudices of the “living” society. And its limitations. Now, social media draws people into participating, even profit-sharing harmony. Can we, should we talk about perspectives? I see a concrete wall in a near future. Life.

  • The digital citizen 10:41 am on September 23, 2009 Permalink | Reply
    Tags: Digital PR, , flickr, myspace, online advertising, social media,   

    Social Media campaigns: Whose job is it? 

    A war has started in media land. Who is going to own the digital PR space?

    By digital PR I mean social media campaigns that incorporate the creation of content, organisation of events etc on social platforms, such as Facebook, Twitter, MySpace or Flickr.

    Unlike most wars, this is a 3 way war, the parties being:

    • Traditional PR agencies
    • Digital departments of traditional media buying and planning agencies and
    • Digital creative agencies

    They all claim that this space belongs to them.

    PR agencies claim de facto rights, although they have, so far, failed to show exactly why they should be responsible for digital PR campaigns, other than they are PR agencies. Replicating offline campaign will not work with online and a better understanding of the power of social media is required, which I am not convinced that PR agencies have. Firstly an online press release will not work, it is not engaging enough, in fact it seems patronising within the social media environments, where dialogue is key. Secondly, when it comes to online, you need to be ready for the public’s reaction; this means that the responsibles for these campaign have got to be able to move swiftly towards any directions required by the users, being ready to respond to a great or a not that great public reaction. A great degree of proactiveness but a greater degree or reactiveness is requires when dealing with social media which I am not convinced the traditional PR agencies possess yet.

    Digital departments within media agencies were the first to test advertising, albeit display, on social media. They were the first to understand the importance of some sort of social media presence for their clients. There is no doubt that they have been great contributors to the growth of social media.

    However there is a clash between social media campaigns and what media agencies are employed to deliver to their clients, which is return on investment (ROI). The objective of dvertising is to sell. Social media should not and cannot be used as sales platforms. The results of advertising are scalable, social media are not.

    Also media agencies are strustured in such a way that the planning floors have got the last word on the budget splits. As it is rare to find planners with a sufficient understanding of social media, most of the money still go to TV and press.

    Finally, social media need a long term commitment, not budget coming out of a campaign PO. As long as social media is seeing as part of a campaign only, instead of a stand alone project which aims at engaging the brand with the consumers, clients will not be able to see their real potential.

    Having said that, some media agencies forsaw the growth of social media, creating relevant departments and employing passionate social media strategists. These agencies have got a good chance of winning this war, as long as their agencies understand that they cannot treat these departments the same way they treat their display planning and buying media teams.

    The last contenter in this war are digital creative agencies. Creative agencies need social media campaign ownership, as they predict that the need for display banners will decrease in the future, making digital PR a new source of income for them. However, there is a cultural clash between social media and creative agencies. Web designers tend to focus on how their creations look rather than engagement. Social media campaigns often do not require any creative at all. Creative agencies often fail to build websites that make the customer journey quicker and more pleasant; often they fail to reflect the brand’s culture with their creative executions. How can they be expected to draft social media strategies designed to listen to the consumer and to reflect the values and culture of the brand?

    If I could place a bet, I would put my money on full service digital agencies. There has been a lot of doubt on whether the niche digital agencies can survive at a time that clients consolidate their accounts to save money. Full service digital agencies can offer client teams that consist of creative, PR and media people that can work closely to each other to ensure the utmost consistency in their campaigns. They have a clearer picture of the effect of one medium on the other which puts them in a better position to draft future strategies.

    This is a great chance for the underdog to shine!

  • The digital citizen 11:09 pm on September 22, 2009 Permalink | Reply
    Tags: service, social media, strategy   

    Social media is King but it is not God 

    Have you ever thought that Dell, Whole Foods and all those great examples of social media campaign implementation have a very important thing in common: Great Customer Service?

    It takes time and patience for your social media campaign to drive the anticipated engagement with your audience, but only a moment for your bad, rude, uneducated customer service assistant to reap everything you so patiently sown.

    So before employing a social media guru or expert for your social media strategy, invest the necessary time and effort in improving your product and service. Once this is done, add a lot of honesty, proactivity and expertise and you are guaranteed that you have solid grounds to build a social profile that people will trust. And as you will learn in the process, no social media guru can engage better with your audience, as no one knows your product and your audience better than you do. People want to engage with the real you and not with a strategy.

    Here is a great presentation on why a social media strategy (alone) will not save you. Enjoy and comment.

  • The digital citizen 5:35 pm on September 12, 2009 Permalink | Reply
    Tags: Content, social media, Technorati   

    Original Content? 

    Thechnorati announced that it will start producing original content from next month.

    Technorati claims that this is a great opportunity for writers to get exposure, whilst the site is entering a new area of sharing content and of rewarding contributors for it.

    Many bloggers, new and experienced, will seize this opportunity and some great writers are soon to get the credit they deserve.

    But how original can this content realistically be? And if it is original, what impact could this move have on Technorati’s reputation?

    The answer to the first question is clear. Content cannot be fully original, because any site and especially one of the size of Technorati, has a social obligation and an obligation towards its users to respect the rules of journalism. Therefore, before published, the content will have to be checked not only for insulting or politically incorrect material but also for the the accuracy of any data given and sources quoted, for the site to preserve its credibility. Which brings me to my second questions.

    Robert Preston’s blog is my trusted source of information for business news, whereas for film reviews I choose Time Out. In the same sense, Technorati is a trusted source of information, learned opinion and analysis for its users. Their credibility was gained over the years by consistency, unbiased opinion and quality writing. Publishing original content on Technorati might have a negative impact on its credibility, with its users turning away from a site written by amateurs.

    As we are already seeing the impact of the revolution brought by social media, businesses (and Technorati is a business) should ask: where do we draw the line between quality and quantity? Between professional and amateur? Expert and having a interest?Business sustainable and unsustainable?

    But then…these are questions that only the public can answer, with its reaction to the content of the new contributors. And the public, albeit strict, is always fair.

  • The digital citizen 1:36 pm on September 6, 2009 Permalink | Reply
    Tags: Business, social media   

    Business is people. Social media is people. Social media is business. 

    The man is a social animal, Aristotle said.

    For a business to flourish you need people. People to buy your product.

    Social media boomed because they offered an easy, fun and FREE way of communication. (They also offered freedom of speech)

    Businesses should engage with social media to be heard. This is where the people go. And they should do so democratically, by way of dialogue.

    We have entered the economy of social. Let the numbers speak:

  • The digital citizen 3:24 pm on September 4, 2009 Permalink | Reply
    Tags: , social media   

    A brand can’t be younger than a teenager. Before that it was a logo. 

    We are all talking about it. We want to build it, grow it, protect it, make others love it. What is a brand then?

    A brand is a the point where customer satisfaction becomes customer loyalty. Where the promise becomes an experience. The association of the experience with a product and not its alternative: Coca Cola drinkers do not compromise for Virgin Cola.

    For a name to become a brand, it takes time, patience but most of all consistency. Consistency in providing the public with a quality product or service. Consistency in delivering on promises. And as of lately, consistency in the communications strategies, via social media.

    Here is what I mean. We all understand why a good product is key. Furthermore the constant improvement and development of the product means that it remains capable to serve the needs of the society if targets. Innovative and practical products tend to gain the consumers’ trust earlier.

    Delivering on promises is an area that advertisers often fail. Although they recognise their products’ strengths and weaknesses, they choose to promote them advertising qualities that the products do not possess. This is detrimental practive for the brand and even more so now, that consumers admit to check reviews written by consumers, when buying  a product. Social media has also made it extremely easy to give an opinion a viral effect among the public. News, opinions and reviews travel faster than ever before and are deemed to travel even faster in the future, as a fastly increasing amount of people use their mobile phones to access the internet.

    Finally, consistency in communication. As more and more advertisers integrate social media in their campaigns, especially with the launch of a new range of products, how many of these social media campaigns live on and continue to engage in conversations with the members of the public who chose to engage with the brand or brand wannabe pas the campaign period? Not that many. Go on facebook and check it your self by typing in the search box then name of a brand. You will see that the last time the brand posted something on their fanpage was when there was a new product launch or a live campaign. With the end of the campaign, many brands suddently stop interacting with their fans, although, quite often, fans continue to interact with the brand.

    Becoming a brand requires a constant effort from the advertiser, because trust cannot be gained overnight. Understanding the consumer needs requires experience, evaluation and insight that often comes in a dear price.  Delivering a great product or service whilst staying ahead of competitors is harder in the age of dialogue that everything becomes old before the see the daylight.

    A brand can’t be younger than a teenager.It takes time to become a brand, to have a social value, to be part of a daily routine. Be patient, be consistent and one day you may even enter the English Dictionary. And this will be priceless!

  • The digital citizen 11:41 am on August 24, 2009 Permalink | Reply
    Tags: social media   

    Social Media Campaigns: The good, the bad and the ugly 

    My clients are increasingly asking me if there is space for social media in their campaigns.

    Personally, I am a loud advocate of social media and their importance in getting your brand heard in the age of dialogue we live in. However, I do not think that all of my clients are ready for social media campaigns, as they are not ready to engage with their audience in the way social media require brands to engage.

    Having seen many successful and unsuccessful social media campaigns, 3 broader categories stand out:

    The good:

    This is a social media campaign that has everything you expect it to have. It is built on the foundations of dialogue. The brand listens and responds to the public.

    But the most important thing is that the brand has a clear vision, an understanding of its position among its competitors and is on a mission to monetise on what it does best, developing at the same time and with the help of the public the areas it might be lacking.

    These brands are gaining new fans purely on the basis of being demographic and honest. People like them because they are allowed to participate and contribute to a team effort. As long as the products and services are equally good, if not better than their social media engagements, these brands are on their ways to great successes.


    The bad:

    Quite often in our office, someone, often me, sends an email around about a new social media campaign that seems exciting. Usually I keep a close eye on them but soon disappointment strikes.

    Some brands use social media to brag about how great they and their products are. The use the social platforms to sell and even worst, they measure the success of their campaigns based on conversions the social media campaign drove, rather than on the buzz and brand awareness created as a result .

    Often these brands are so arrogant that they do not engage in a dialogue, unless it is to have an argument with whoever dared challenged their greatness. The outcome of their campaigns is negative buzz around their brand and unfortunately, negative buzz is not reversable.


    The ugly:

    Some brands do everything right apart from one thing; they don’t know how to keep the conversation going.

    Social media require constant engagement. Brands, apart from enterprises, are also experts in their field. A bank for example can increase its social media profile by advising people on their banking issues. A telecoms company could participate in conversations comparing handsets. A video game manufacturer can engage and challenge gamers and so on.

    But the conversation has to keep going. Because brands who have stopped it will find it very hard to regain the trust of the people who engaged with them in the first place, only to find out that this was just a campaign and not an ongoing collaboration between the brand and the consumer.


    So when my clients ask me whether we could launch a social media campaign my answer is always the same: Are you ready to dedicate the necessary time, effort and resource to make this work? Are you ready to commit to an ongoing and evolving relationship with the consumers? If the answer is yes, them I will be more than happy to help you build your social profile.

    • bezalel 1:31 pm on August 24, 2009 Permalink | Reply

      A coherent and strong view! 🙂 I tottaly agree. I believe the “bad” are glued to the details and description of the process, rather than the actual results. As for the ugly, a “give to get” mentality plays out with succesfull campaigns.

      People have to be really sure about what their purpose is. They have to be open to feedback and learning from others. Not many people are like that.

      And you should write more. 🙂

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