Tuesday, 8 November 2011

Do you really have to be on Google+?

Sure you have heard about it: Google+ launched its long awaited brand pages. Right now hundreds, I’d fearless say thousands of pages are being created, certainly Google has put it quite easy to create them. But the easiest task is undoubtedly “to be” on Google+, more complicated is to understand why your brand should be there, or not, and how you’re going to capitalize on in business terms. My two cents on this come in question form…

What is the point of being on Google+? 

As in many cases tools come before strategies, and even worst before objectives. We just jump into the platform because everybody is doing so, over all my competitors and we don’t want to be left behind. To set up a Google+ page without a clear idea of what to do with it is a great danger, how does it fit on your social media strategy?

Is your target market on Google+? 

Sure if you want to reach new customers this might be a nice opportunity, but are they really interested on what you have to offer? More intelligent would be to perform first a quick assessment of the platform, look for your brand name, your competitors’, the main discussion topics about your category. Do you want to participate on those conversations? Are they meaningful enough for the brand? Definitely Google+ user base is growing rapidly, maybe using Google+ Statistics will give you a better idea of the type of audience you’ll have on this platform.

Who is going to maintain the page? 

One more social platform to consider for a community manager, who has to know or learn at thunderbolt speed the technical capabilities and advantages the platform offers, to better exploit them in benefit of the brand. Definitely rich media characteristics are ideal to showcase products and link to online stores. But I’d think it twice before start to repurpose Facebook content on Google+.

Don’t get me wrong; I’m not against Google+. But I’m more for a reasoned, intelligent use of social platforms. Actually one of the best advantages of putting your brand on Google+ is SEO, without a doubt Google search crawlers give preference and rank better profiles under Google’s domain. Check the Direct Connect benefit:

Many questions, not easy answers, for more see you there: Delfin Vassallo on Google+
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Sunday, 30 October 2011

B2B marketing is dead

I’ve always found a bit useless when marketing people try to limit their strategies as B2B or B2C. As persons living at the 21st century dawn we are making decisions, both personal and professional, all around the clock. Whether we are purchasing to satisfy our own needs or those of our companies, it’s always a personal choice.

I have always thought that B2B decisions are personal choices. Yes, on behalf of a company, but always personal decisions influenced by own – or peers’ – opinions and in no few cases individual emotions – or aversions. You might be analytical, rational, and even mathematical on your evaluation processes; but at the end of the day you and me are humans, social beings with bloodstreams filled of hormones.

That’s why I was really pleased when I discovered the “@ work state of mind” statement made by agency gyro. It seems to me so clear, so logical, so… human approach to our marketing communications discipline. It has never been a secret but I’ve never found someone who could say it this clear:

Strategies have less to do with marketing and much more with anthropology and behavioral science 

That's why your campaign's idea has to offer that spark that emotionally connects your brand with the persons, for business or for personal decisions. I really, really love this video, hope you too.

Check it out and let you neurons be dominated by hormones:

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Wednesday, 26 October 2011

"Ideas are the Viagra for brain" (video)

Like Minds 2011 Day 3On his participation at Like Minds Conference 2011 titled The Digital Riptide Chris Moss launched several thought provoking statements about creativity in business, disruptive thinking and innovation; including the title of this post. Today I found this video that sustains there’s no such thing as brain division when cognitive processes are held.


Most of his presentation went around how both brain hemispheres work, making interesting analogies with the usual corporate thinking. And how we need to treat our brain like a muscle, exercising it as much as possible with innovative ideas.

On his TEDTalk The Divided Brain Psychiatrist Iain McGilchrist describes the real differences between the left and right halves of the human brain. It's not simply "emotion on the right, reason on the left" but something far more complex and interesting. The phrase that most captivated me for its analogy with digital marketing was:

“We prioritize the virtual over the real”

Would you agree? Take a look (you may want to enlarge and pause at some points, to fully appreciate the fantastic drawings):

What do you think? Discussion continues on Twitter: @DJVassallo

Photo by the talented Harry Duns
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Sunday, 23 October 2011

#LikeMinds Connecting Neurons

Innovation, opportunity, creativity, digital tools for business, entrepreneurship… all buzzwords we listen quite often; but most of times the context, technical language or salesly tone blur our eyes. What do they really mean and which potential benefits they bring to me, or my business? Like Minds undertook the challenge of making it clear for anybody willing to immerse in the journey.

First time I knew about Like Minds was last year in Helsinki, and really got enchanted by the collaborative dynamics of the conference. A social learning concept that enables you to learn not by listening uncountable series of speakers, but by really interacting and discussing the topics with both speaker and the person next to you.

This year’s theme: Innovation+Opportunity: How to build brands, businesses and communities for tomorrow. My favourite bits – and learnings – came from three main topics:

The digital riptide 

Presented by Chris Moss
  • A crank is just someone who has an idea until it takes off. 
  • It’s time of business opportunity caused by disruptive technologies. We’re desperate for innovation and creativity in business – but companies just can’t find the right talent. 
  • It’s all about pulling great teams together - everything great Chris has done, has been throughout teamwork. 
  • The brain is like a muscle. We need to exercise it. Ideas are the viagra for the brain. 

Social media adoption within organisations 

Presented by Delphine Remy-Boutang, World Wide Social Media Marketing Manager at IBM.
Implementing social media has more to do with the persons, change management and corporate culture than with the social platforms themselves.
  • How do you control 17,000 internal blogs and 25,000+ employees with Twitter accounts? You don’t. Trust and training are the keys that led IBM to succeed and become a truly social company, where every employee’s voice supports the brand. All personal channels have disclaimers, but the individual, not the company, owns them. 
  • They don’t use e-mail attachments, but have a place to put all files. 
  • They have Social Business Jams, where they invite people to join and talk about a topic. The biggest one has seen 20,000 people participating, including employees, customers and partners. Massive crowdsourcing culture. 
  • They actively promote social media usage through designated experts, the Blue IQ Program, 1,200 internal evangelists - from all parts of the business - that help their colleagues to get the most of social tools. A collaborative culture. 
  • One employee, Luis Suarez considered “email as the place where knowledge dies” therefore he no longer uses it, in favour of social technologies.
Take a look at Delphine’s deck or follow @DelphineRB on Twitter.

Why You Can’t Grasp That Killer Idea 

Presented by Chris Griffiths
  • We spend the majority of our time reacting to predetermined situations. Since others influence you, you’re always one step behind. Innovation distinguishes between a leader and a follower. When most people think they’re brainstorming, they’re just reacting and analyzing. They react to one person’s suggestion. 
  • Companies are only reacting to competitor products. They’re looking at external influences. This circle is a difficult one to break.
  • Many successful individuals know the power of daydreaming (or “thought experiments”). 
  • If you restrict yourselves to your conscious minds, you limit your ability to be creative.
  • Rather than focusing on how to get new customers, look at how you lose ones. Make a list of what you can do to lose a customer – and circle the ones you do. 
  • If you don’t mindmap – do it. Bill Gates is a fan. 
  • Give yourself two hours a day to think. 
  • Sometimes it’s about knowing what not to do, not what you should do. 

That’s it, it’s all about mind mapping and creativity managing (OK OK creativity managing sounds somewhat contradictory) Follow @GriffithsThinks on Twitter

Daydreaming, creating connections between totally opposite concepts, if ideas are not teasing, disturbing, they are not worth. Let's continue discussing @DJVassallo

Photo credits: @adders & GreatBritishChefs 
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Saturday, 22 October 2011

Social Conferences

Ever had the sensation after a conference that you’ve got an extraordinary amount of information but afterwards it’s difficult to recall the important bits? Or even worst: you don’t conclude concrete outcomes? Receiving information is something totally different than learn from the information received. That’s why I like the social conference format

I read somewhere that a day after any given lesson, seminar or conference you may remember less than 50% of the information received, and after three days you barely recall 15% of what that renowned guru said, gosh what a waste of money and time! That’s the problem of unidirectional information flow at those traditional mega congresses where one single speaker talks to a 500+ overcrowded auditorium. Conclusion: you don’t actually learn anything.

If you tell me something, I may remember it. If you make me practice what you just said, I’ll learn it. If around the topic we build a dialogue where I realise how your idea benefits me, then I’ll never forget it. That’s how our learning process works, we humans are social beings, so why conferences – and education systems – haven’t been?

This is one of the many things I like from Like Minds Conferences, the social learning approach. No massive auditoriums but yes to brilliant minds as speakers with brief – no more than 20 minutes – and substantive presentations. Liked what the speaker said? Great, go and have lunch with him, share your views, discuss with table’s folks which is your take away from the presentation, the speaker for sure acknowledges the feedback.

Want to go really deep in a particular matter from conference’s topics? The Like Minds chaps have invented a formula called “Immersives”: two hours of intensive, in-depth analysis and dialogue about a concrete topic with practical applications for you.

The problem with this approach? Well, after last week’s Like Minds Conference in Exeter my neurons ended up totally fried after 3-day-non-stopping-thinking, but with the rewarding feeling of the social learning experience.
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Sunday, 9 October 2011

#Tweetcamp Conversations

Yesterday took place the Tweetcamp London 2011, as stated by the organizers – who did an awesome job by the way – this was an opportunity to take some of those things you tweet about, and have real discussions about those topics, in person. This situation triggered some theory on my mind: How different the topics discussed online might be versus the ones we actually talked? Let’s find out.


One of the initial questions posed by organizers was: What do you tweet about? And what kind of things you don’t? Clearly there’s a selection process regarding what you tweet and how you formulate your tweet, not everything we think ends up as a 140-character statement.

What if we make a comparison exercise between the ideas we have actually talked at the tables and the topics tweeted, gathered and analized by a social media monitoring tool. Could we learn something to apply to brand monitoring in the social landscape?

Based on what we all tweetcampers discussed (and after reviewing all this pics)

The most interesting topics in no particular order were:
  • Connect teams 
  • Communication tool 
  • Broadcasting 
  • Apps or tools to use Twitter 
  • Best practices to use Twitter 
  • Business vs personal use 
  • Private tweeting 
  • Role of Twitter in corporate and B2B 
  • Reciprocity 
  • Using Twitter in events 
  • Twitter ads 
  • Twitter for entrepreneur networking 
  • Impact on politics / public sector 
  • Social customer service 
  • Community management 
  • Analytics / insight measurement / influence metrics 
  • Social media and food / chocolate 
  • Internal communications 
  • Performing arts 
  • Hashtags 
  • Meeting new people 
  • Connecting with celebrities / big leads 
  • Engagement 
  • Complaints on social media 
  • Competitions

What I have been able to collect from Twitter updates exclusively, posted from the morning of Oct 8th to noon Oct 9th – 2,220 tweets circa – the summary of topics discussed at Tweetcamp looks like this:

At first sight it doesn’t seem to me that we are talking about the same event, therefore to cancel a bit of noise I eliminated the keyword tweetcamp as well as the Twitter names, this is the result:

It is evident that everybody had a fabulous day, but with the exception of “food” and “business” apparently the offline conversations weren’t reflected online.


Who would you say was the most influential person during the Tweetcamp? @benjaminellis  or @farhan perhaps? There might be several for sure, that would depend on who you were talking to, which sessions you attended, and which topics matter to you. One person can be influential for me in a specific topic, but going totally ignored by others, whose interests are different. In any case, just to give a try I pushed that button and got some names:

It has nothing to do with the quantity of tweets a person produces, we were said @GabrielleNYC tweeted the most however she doesn’t show up on the top 10.

One person’s authority can be determined by a number of factors: followers-following ratio, num of RT’s by others, num of mentions of certain keyword, num of @’s (conversations). It can be theme based authority or absolut authority in the case of celebrities, but here there wasn’t any celebrity, right? And still it can be a bit subjective, my friend @wise_marketing was test-monitoring Tweetcamp and came up with this other list of influencers:


Polemic as always I couldn’t leave sentiment out of this exercise. You wouldn’t say that someone tweeted any negative thing about Tweetcamp, wouldn’t you? Well here we go:

Of course they aren’t negative! Simply: algorithms can’t substitute neurons yet. No use to go deeper here, at least not on a Sunday afternoon when I wrote this just for the fun. Instead I leave you with the 100% sure feeling that all tweetcampers had at the end of the day:

See you in the digital village...

Photos by @AnnieMole & @GuyNesher 
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Sunday, 10 April 2011

1 Moikka Suomi, 1000 Hellos London

During the last three years I have been in Finland delighting myself with saunas and frozen lakes swimming, tons of salmon and weird black candies, techy geeks and great forward thinking minds, but over all I got an amazing experience and learned tons of things from Finns and Finnish business culture.

Greatest things come in unsuspected packages. I have lived in four countries during the past ten years and really thought Finland was going to be the definitive one, but when a rare opportunity arrives you just have to grab it as it comes.

An irresistible challenge as Account Director at one of the top ten social media marketing agencies in London: 1000heads Where I’ll be working with a bunch of brilliant heads developing ideas for the most amazing brands.

No goodbyes, no farewell parties, if you know me can confirm I don’t like them. In any case they’re kinda useless because I will be back & forward London-Helsinki quite often as part of my new role.

And anyway remember we are always close to each other, as inhabitants of this Global Village that we call Internet, despite physical or political boundaries the place where we work is still -and hope it will always continue- border-free and transparent. See you around digital villagers!

Keep in touch on Twitter: @DJVassallo
@1000heads The Word of Mouth People
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Tuesday, 22 March 2011

Tap into the Hidden Social Business in Latin America

Latin America is the second largest consumer of social media worldwide, becoming one of the regions with more digital potential for brands and agencies. According to the French social media monitoring and research firm Synthesio.
But there’s much more behind the numbers, combining them with some experiences in the area I realised how many social business opportunities are hidden in this area.

Social Media explosion in Latin America

Synthesio found out that in the area the level of social media adoption per capita ranks only second after US and Canada; it also ranks second as the highest consuming region of blogs: 61% versus a global average of 51%.

82% of Latin American web users use social media

Facebook relative dominance

With almost 100 million users in the region and 5 countries within the world top 20, Latin America’s leading country is Mexico, which also ranks 7th worldwide well ahead of countries like Canada, Spain, Italy, France or Germany. According to dosensocial, a leading social media blog in Latin America, Facebook stats as February 2011 are:

World rank:                Num users:

7          Mexico          21,560,720
12        Argentina      13,154,840
13        Brazil            13,012,220
15        Colombia      12,572,540
20        Venezuela      8,046,100

But how much influence Facebook has based on its penetration? Synthesio does this precision and the picture changes drastically:

Clearly at country level the influence one Facebook campaign can have varies widely from Chile or Puerto Rico to Brazil, which absolute population is far larger (195 millions) but with an scarce 8% on this network. On the other side 8 out of 10 Brazilians have Orkut accounts, representing over a half of this network’s users.

Twitter speaks Spanish

While in US or Europe Twitter is widely used for professional networking, Latin American twitters, equivalent to 16.1% of total Twitter users, are far younger; following mainly closer friends and celebrities and talking about a variety of topics from politics to social affairs to gossip. Since Twitter launched in 2009 its interface in Spanish, users speaking this language had multiplied by 7. By the way, the account @twitter_es has 4,298,261 followers, ranked on 14th place worldwide.

Cultural factor matters... a lot

Social Media users in Latin America show a clear cultural-driven trend. They maintain strong links with their local societies rather than following a common regional behaviour; Columbians, Argentinians, Mexicans, Ecuadorians, Venezuelans…. don’t see themselves as a part of some “Latin American Unity” as frequently seen from abroad, trying to fit all them into the same box.

Consumers are 5 times more likely to buy on a site written on their own language, and this applies equally for Spanish or Portuguese languages. I’d go further: brand messages for social networks in Latin America need an extremely high localisation, even within the same language, same copywriting may have a totally different connotation in Temperley, Buenos Aires, in Polanco, Mexico City or even in east Los Angeles.

Great opportunities for European Brands and Agencies

Mostly young web users.- With an overwhelming 85% of social networkers ranging between 13-34 years, if engaging adequately, your brand has the invaluable opportunity to cultivate the loyalty of an extremely attractive market for its future.

Western culture influence.- Both the lifestyle and the models that most influence Latin American web users come from US and Europe. Since their behaviours clearly follow western world patterns, they are most likely predisposed to buy, adopt - and adapt european brands than consumers in the Middle East or certain regions of Asia.

Don’t overlook other networks.- Sonico and Hi5 were the region's leaders before the arrival of Spanish version of Facebook. But they still have deep penetration in selected countries, consider them on your strategies.

Latin American brands still have to catch up.- 53% of big Latin American companies are mentioned constantly on Twitter conversations, but very few have an official account to interact with consumers. In Colombia for example 86% of companies are mentioned on Twitter, but only 29% have account. Managed correctly your brand could easily gain valuable steps on the positioning ladder.

Poor Internet access, but…- It is true that Internet access in Latin America reaches only 34.5% of the population, but is still well ahead of other developing regions like the Middle East 29.8%, Asia 21.5% or Africa 10.9%. The answer is on mobile Internet connection, since region’s telecommunications leader América Móvil, main business of the world’s wealthiest man - Mexican Carlos Slim, and its rival - Spanish Telefónica are already considering 4G networks introduction in later 2011.

Social Media adoption at it’s best.- According to Synthesio and Nielsen social network adoption amongst Latin American web users is one if the highest, even Brazil alone surpasses, with 86% of adoption, the UK and US, both with 74%.

My initial intention was only to feature some interesting stats, but as I kept digging it was so exciting to integrate many of my direct experiences in this fascinating market. Is your brand / agency ready to conquer Latin America? Let me know!

Twitter: @DJVassallo
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