Resistance is Futile: 3 Reasons Why Social Media Should Be Embraced at Work

Andrew Keen @ CNN wrote a great article on social media bans at work. I wholeheartedly  agree with Vivek Wadhwa (@wadhwa) who was quoted in the article: “banning social media at work is brain dead”.

Here’s my 3 simple reasons for why you (yes you Mr/Mrs Manager/CEO) should stop being a stubborn relics and just embrace the change social media represents for your company culture.

1. You can’t stop it.

By imposing strict rules on “not wasting time on Facebook” you just show how out of touch you are and strengthen the disconnect between management and your workforce.

And no matter what you do – in the end they’ll always find a way. You haven’t hired a bunch of idiots now have you? And even if you have any modern idiot knows how to jump off the corporate WiFi and use 3G on their phones to catch up on all the essential #some gossip.

2. Transparency is the new black

NDA’s and secrecy are as important as ever when it comes to business critical information but at the same time it’s critical for businesses to step down from the ivory tower and start speaking with their audience instead of “communicating” using fabricated semi-truths (ie. traditional marketing).

Believe it or not your staff plays a key role in this.

3. Get them to work for you

Instead of fighting the change and outsourcing your social media activities to agencies you should embrace your work force’s interest and turn it in to one of your biggest assets. Educate them, guide them, empower them and unleash them.

I guarantee that in no time you’ll be encouraging your staff to spend more time on Facebook, Twitter, Pinterest, Instagram, Vine and Google+ – talking about your company / brand / product. Amidst the occasional #cutecatvideo new school watercooler moment of course.

Go ahead. Click it. Take a break. We all need to once in a while :)

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Shareability Matters

Everybody wants to see their content go “viral”. Too see it spread like wildfire in the Interwebs with virtually no cost. Enabled simply by new human behaviour and the mighty social networks.

To make this happen you obviously need to start with some seriously Epic Content but you also need to make it shareable on a level that your fans/customers/users don’t almost notice they are spreading your message.

Pretty straightforward and simple. As professional marketers we know this and got it nailed, right?

Enter Amazon.

I think it’s safe to say Amazon’s got the Epic Content part of the equation nailed and you could also easily think they would be the masters of optimizing visibility and WOM for that killer content.

Think again.


The Amazon Store on the Android Kindle app (and the Kindle app as a whole) supports sharing of books only when you have finished reading them. There’s no built in way to tell your friends about the cool new book you’ve found. It’s virtually impossible to share any content from within the app unless you flip to the end of a book and Tweet about it. Android is known for it’s built in share feature but for some reason Amazon has decided not to include it in their app. Or missed it. Or… Beats me. As far as I know the situation is the same on iOS and Kindle.

It serves as a good wake up call to realize that even Amazon has failed to make it’s content shareable in one of the most crucial touch points they have.

So go back and recheck your site/service/product and make sure you have identified and optimized the shareability factor of your content to the max. Take your time, get to know your users and their habits and you might just identify a new sharing point that unleashes your wildfire.

P.S. It also baffles me that Amazon has yet to introduce more advanced features that would turn reading into a more social and gamelike experience: Checking in to a book, sharing insights / comments with your friends and other readers, earning Amazon credits for reading more and recommending a book to friends etc. Features that would not only drive more sales for Amazon but would help fans support their favorite authors – by easily sharing the content they love. 

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When virality becomes spam

BranchOut is making waves in the professional networking services space by utilizing Facebook to help you network faster and easier. LinkedIn should be worried as the “Facebook Utility” approach seems like the way of the future vs. stand-alone services.

One thing bugs me though.

I like the simplicity of the BranchOut sign-up process and the way you have your profile set up in a matter of minutes. All great – exactly the way I want it. But then I start hitting the well hidden social landmines.

Before I even realize it I’ve spammed most of my friends Facebook walls with invites. Ok…hold on a sec – I want to connect with these guys but not like this.

Don’t get me wrong I’m all for integrating your service with Facebook but this is to me a clear example of an execution that crosses the “from viral to spam” line.

I’m sure BranchOut got a lot of buzz and new users by creating the spam attack most of us were subjected to when they launched but at the same time I’m willing to bet they lost of lot of potential users and harmed their brand by doing it. I for one (and I know I’m not alone) blocked the application from posting to my Wall – and thus am effectively not getting ANY networking requests from my friends that use the service. For me BranchOut is no longer an option.

In my opinion the same effect could have been achieved with direct user-to-user messages on Facebook. It may not have caused such a “bang” for launch but would have created a more sustained viral effect (and would not have shut anyone out in the process) and also kept the brand / service from getting the “annoying spammer” classification.

All in all the lesson here is this: Tread carefully when integrating your service to Facebook. The line between clever viral expansion and spam is crucial to spot and not to cross.

How to do it? It is simple really (if you just take your “marketer” hat off for a sec): Don’t exploit your users, respect their privacy and create a killer service that they want to share out of their free will. Just think how you would react when your service starts to spam your wall / inbox…and don’t piss off yourself.

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Sports Tracking!

I’ve been helping the guys at Sports Tracker with their social media strategy and the launch of their fabulous mobile application and online service.

It’s incredible fun and motivating to work with a bunch of talented and passionate individuals who are willing to take risks and throw themselves out there. The way you have to if you want to really engage with your audience and earn their trust and get them to “like” you :)

Check out the unconventional launch press release we (props to Jari Salo) put created and the intro video (props to Jari, Aleksi Koskinen and Kristiina Wheeler) to the service.

Find out more about Sports Tracker at, Like them on Facebook and follow them on Twitter.

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Find your Life Hackers

Fact #1:
Social media has radically changed and continues to change the way people behave and consume.

Fact #2:
This fundamentally changes not just how companies approach marketing but how they need to restructure their organization and operate to be relevant in this “Facebook Era”.

The Big Question:
How can you drive and accelerate that change?

My answer:
Find your Life Hackers.

Who, what?

Life Hackers are the passionate open minded individuals hiding in various parts of your organization that are always questioning the norm and trying to do things differently. They are the ones who just won’t do things the way things have always been done. They optimistically embrace new technology and apply those advances to make their work more productive, efficient and god forbid a lot more fun.

To enable true change you have to go out and identify these people. You have to listen to them and take that scary leap of fate by trusting them and giving them the power and means to be the agents of change in your organization even if all your senses are screaming against it.

And if you are really brave bring them together for added effect and enjoy the ride.

P.s. Really looking forward to Charlene Li’s new book Open Leadership that should touch on this thought as well. Recommended!

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Conversational Marketing

This almost brings a tear to my eye :)

Check out this really nice recap presentation of the thinking that has been happening in and around the Nokia Digital Marketing team during the past few years. I’ve been fortunate enough to work closely with this brilliant group of thinkers and advocates of change and I gotta say I miss those days. Not to say that this is the end of the collaboration – maybe more an end of an era.

Anyhow…check it out and let me know what you think!

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Crowdsourcing growth?

The Finnish Government (or to be precise the Prime Minister’s Office) just hopped on the crowdsourcing bandwagon with their -site that aims to crowdsource ideas for sustainable economic growth. Cool, right? Wrong. Unfortunately. - Government crowdsourcing

It’s a nice step to the right direction I’ll give them that but why won’t you go all the way and do it right? Why have a two month submission window with a very strict step-by-step Q&A structure that will put most people off at the start? And if you want to start a dialogue like you claim why force visitors to submit their answers to your questions before letting them view the thoughts other people have submitted?

While you are at it why not create something more open and inviting that would get us non-academics hyped and excited as well about helping our dear country take the next step beyond Nokia-land? An environment that would facilitate an ongoing open and inspiring dialogue between the people running the country and the folks down in the trenches. From now ’til we reach that great new future and beyond.

Don’t get me wrong. I’m not saying this is not a great step to the right direction. I just hate it when the opportunity for something ground-braking is wasted because of the paralyzing fear that dramatic change inflicts in people. The fear of leaving your comfort zone and just boldly going where no man has been before.

Bottom line: They are looking for game changing ideas but are afraid to lead the way. I just feel sad for all the crazy interesting ideas we could have shared that will now never see the light of day.

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The Long Tail of Charity?

A friend of mine (props to Misko Iho) created a small Christmas miracle during his surfing trip to Africa. By using just Facebook, email and SMS’s he rallied his friends (and their friends) to donate a small amount each to help get backbags, pens, rulers and other basic school equipment for the kids of the local school. Result: 8384 items packed into 470 backpacks ready for school = 470 lives changed.

What Misko and his friends did got me thinking. Why aren’t the big charities more active in social media?

I’ve worked with some of the biggest charity organizations on the planet. We’ve talked about social media and it’s impact on what they do and tried to figure out ways for them to embrace this clearly potent new way of sharing information more efficiently and also recruiting more people to their “cause”.

The interesting thing is that they do see the obvious potential but are for some reason unable to embrace it.

Let’s take Unicef for example. They are the biggest and the most powerful. They do a lot of good BUT admit that they are having trouble convincing their beneficiaries that their money is indeed used in the most efficient and beneficial way all around the globe.

How to do this then when armed with Social Media? Should be pretty self-evident: Let your audience choose where their money is spent and show the concrete results of the work (like Misko did by posting pictures on Facebook) = Give them a social object that they can share with their friends (“this is the village I’m supporting”) and the tools to share the message easily all throughout the web.

Simple, eh? Not for Unicef.

Their argument is that they need to be able to direct the flow of support / funds themselves as they know best where the help is needed. I see the point but I’d argue it will also be a fundamental issue for them in the future if they indeed want to engage a broader more internet-savvy audience that is used to being actively involved and is not content by buying the Unicef desk calendar for Xmas.

The change needed will not be easy as it means rethinking some of the fundamentals of how the big charities work but it is inevitable as people want more control and will therefore flock to smaller grass-roots charities that operate more transparently, are more agile and thrive on user involvement.

They will flock to look for alternatives in the Long Tail of Charity. That’s where I found Misko’s project. And I have yet to buy a Unicef desk calendar.

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Social Media Detox

Week 3 of my Social Media Detox. No Facebook status updates, no Twitter, no Flickr, no Dopplr, no Delicious, no social media of any sorts.

And I feel great. The fact that my 500+ friends don’t know what I’m doing 24h day is actually a huge relief. Interesting.

My analysis: I think we might be overdoing this crazy social sharing frenzy and at some point soon we’ll see a backlash of people disconnecting and longing for the days when fixed phone lines ruled. To a time when leaving the office actually meant you really did leave the office.

At the moment I have to say I’m all for hopping in the DeLorean.

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Learnings & buzz from Web 2.0 Expo 2009

This is long overdue but I finally got the collected learnings from Web 2.0 Expo 2009 on to Slideshare. Lot of great thoughts and buzz. I especially loved the way Twitter was used in the conference by the speakers and the attendees and tried to collect some of the best Tweets that I came across to the preso as well.

Thanks to @DaGood @r2r0 @anssimakela @Jussipekka for inspiration, notes, RT’s and obvously great company!

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