Social media: Are we doing it right? #socialconvo

I went to an unusual event yesterday. Unusual because it felt like the start of a conversation. I didn’t even tweet much on the day (I know!), I was thinking…


What the hell is going on with Facebook?

In a room of around 12 people, at an event about social media, there was no love for Facebook. There was a lot of positive talk about Twitter but, for Facebook, just disdain.


Facebook is an incredibly powerful tool but it got no traction in the room. Because it is too reciprocal. Too filtered. Too, well, too Facebook.

I don’t suppose I disagree with any of that. I don’t use Facebook as me. But as the brands I have worked for I have used it a lot and I’ve seen Facebook used to build a sense of community and deliver “value” where before there was none. For example, using Facebook groups to build a team/community for several 100 marathon runners who are spread across the country.

Are we dismissing Facebook as a tool simply because our annoying cousin is too heavy with the selfies and complement fishing?

Are marketing and communications teams getting it all wrong?

The language and culture of marketing, and the media focus of communications teams, are largely unhelpful. They bring to the table pre-set ways of thinking and doing things that are not right for the brave new social world. Marketers are too shouty and needy, storming onto twitter and screaming “like my crap, like my crap”. And their colleagues in comms are just as bad. They just want to post links to their latest press releases when they should be having a conversation!

Or do they? I think you can easily encounter this sort of behaviour but you can also encounter the opposite. Perhaps though, we can agree on what poor marketing and comms looks like on Twitter; Too corporate, not human.

What’s wrong with all our organisations?

The room felt that social media (if we must call it that) was of huge significance for any organisation that wants (or needs) to reach/engage/consult a public audience. But no one thought any organisation was good at that really. Not one. Local government was thought to be especially poor.

I felt organisations where painted the enemy of progress. The bastions of mediocrity where control, risk aversion and dull content live. Part of the problem.

But the problem is hard to define. It might be that “there is no  punishment for mediocrity”, that the culture is wrong. That the powers that be have the tools to change the world but not the digital leadership, or will, to make that change happen.

There was a sense, or hope, that the diverse voices found on the twittersphere could collaborate is some way to challenge “the old way” of doing things. But also a sense we need help to do this. We need more people to collaborate with. Too many legends of life on land are not online. We need to get them involved, to improve the quality of the democracy people are finding on Twitter and to enrich it. But how?


Pork marketing – does this QR code experience bring home the bacon?

I was cooking some sausages the other day and I spotted a QR code on the packet, but I’m not sure the experience lived up to my expectations. So the question is, when using a QR code, what tactics bring home the bacon?


This quirky QR code on my sausages caught my eye, so I scanned it

This important thing about a QR code I think, is that it appears interesting and enticing enough in the first place to scan. Much like direct mail hitting the doormat, it needs to make an immediate impact and grab your interest. I think there are a few things from the pork marketing that worked.

Why I scanned this code

To entice me to scan your QR code, you would need some of the following.

1. Location, location, location

This code stood out. I don’t see so many QR codes on food and, when I do, it tends to be on the back of the packaging surrounded by other copy and images. This was on the front on its own, so it stood out and got my attention.

2. Design

Essentially QR codes are meaningless nonsense to the human eye. They don’t have a face or any kind of meaning on their own, so how they are positioned and what surrounds them makes a big impact. This code was nicely designed, the pig was saying several things to me – rare bread, farming, sauges, bacon, nom-nom-nom!

3. Call to action

So I noticed your sticker and like the design of your pig. Now what? A nice simple call to action – “scan me” –  sealed the deal and got me to fire up the app on my smart phone and see where I ended up.

You’re only half way there

So far so good but getting me onto your website is only half the battle – what are you going to do with me now I’m on your website? As it turns out, not so much:

Landing page

This is the page I landed on once I scanned the code

That’s right – not a sausage!

Although it is optimised for mobile (albeit only in portrait), I think this page is a let down because it doesn’t have that much to do with the product I purchased. Now I know that is more work – a different code for each product type – but Waitrose is a premium brand and I was expecting a premium digital experience. I didn’t get that.

Also, the mechanics of the page are geared only to mobiles. So if share this page with a desktop user they will be hampered. As I write this post I’m struggling to navigate to the sausage content I’m after because I can’t switch to a desktop version. (Grrr!)

Here’s what I could have won

I wanted sausage content beause I’d scanned a code on a packet of sausages. They had sausage content! Including a picture of some lovely bangers and an “interesting fact”,

“The world’s longest sausage weighed 15.5 tonne and was 35 miles long.”

Although, they are not quite right as the world’s longest sausage was 36.75 miles long.


They are good at getting my attention but Waitrose let themselves down with their landing page – It lacked relevance to what I scanned, wasn’t very well optimised, didn’t utilise call to actions (not even social sharing) and they hadn’t checked their facts. For me, a premium product with a value range digital experience.

What do you think?

Have you seen a QR code that brings home the bacon?

Could your website ruin my weekend?

So a website ruined my weekend on Saturday. Well actually, a lack of integration between shopping in the real world, online customer service and product delivery ruined my weekend. Perhaps I could have been more forgiving if I really wanted the product, but the order was for my honorary father-in-law, so all I got were the problems and none of the product benefits. Here’s why:

I was babysitting my honorary niece (honorary because I’m not married but she still calls me Uncle Dave)) and was planning to find a local fair or something to take her to. She likes bouncy castles and balloons. Unfortunately these plans were scuppered by a broken dishwasher and a poor customer experience courtesy of Currys. My father in law purchased in store on Friday and was told to check that evening after 9pm for his delivery slot the next day. Putting aside the fact he doesn’t own a PC, can’t use one and doesn’t have broadband this wasn’t a problem because I’m happy to do it for him. But when I went online that evening, this happened:

Customer service fail!

At this stage it is clear that what is going on in real world at Currys carries on regardless of what is going on their fulfilment site, knowhow. I could get quite annoyed that they were not ‘at the end of the phone 24/7 or online with loads of useful hints, tips and guides.’ But instead I’m determined to learn something from a wasted Saturday.

One thing I learnt is that the pages you don’t want people to see on your website, the 404s or ‘we screwed up, sorry’ pages are pretty important. Because they are what represents you when you let someone down. So, on the knowhow ‘sorry’ page I could attempt to access their live support and I was told ‘Live representatives are online and standing by!’ but they weren’t! It wouldn’t work.

All of this could have been dramatically improved by a more integrated approach in store, if the person selling could have known what was going to happen and managed expectations appropriately. Also, this was real face to face contact so why just instruct people to go online, why not get personal? Capture some extra data about the delivery – could the courier have augmented their service to account for the fact that the product purchaser was not going to be at home and I was going to have to travel to meet the washing machine? In these circumstances, can a delivery ‘slot’ be improved beyond between one and five pm?

I think it could. I think your website should be part of a real world experience and information should flow both ways.

I’m not just pointing the finger at Currys/knowhow though, I’m pointing it at myself too. I think there’s a lot I could do to improve the integration between the real world experience and the online where I work (and wheels are in motion). There is an opportunity there though for charities; to deliver what big retail is failing to, a truly good experience.

‘Integration is a consumer expectation’

Well it’s certainly one of mine. Actually I should have used the word ‘supporter’ rather than ‘consumer’ to be true to the quote, as this was an outcome from a marketing and fundraising workshop that I ran earlier this year with colleagues at the Muscular Dystrophy Campaign, but it seemed apt to a recent experience I consumed.

Along with most of twitter and the waking world, I was reading a lot about hackgate at the weekend and was interested to read Rupert Murdoch’s apology on page eight of my Guardian on Saturday (the fee was donated to charity by Guardian News and Media). At the bottom of the ad it said ‘for more information please visit’. Which I did. But the landing page did not live up to my expectations.

This did not match my expectations

Nothing about the apology, nothing about the ads in rival papers and nothing dated that day. For a website with news in the name, it was three days behind the news.

A topical reminder that when someone reads your print ad, they develop expectations about their online experience. If you don’t deliver on those expectations, you could be letting people down and your organisation could be missing out.