Sunday, 26 January 2014

I'm a bit naive. But I like that about me.

On Friday I was unceremoniously ditched. By email. Not to my face. Not even to my ear. By email.

It came out of the blue. Arriving in my inbox like a hammer to my heart. A tremor of shock rippling through my very being as I stood dumfounded in the midst of a busy bustling pub surrounded by the din and revelry of a colleague's leaving do.

Ironically I'd only just met said colleague who was leaving and we'd hit it off immediately and were having great fun exchanging anecdotes in full knowledge that our paths may not cross again. Investing in each other a degree of friendship and trust.

I'm naive. It is a fact of my life.

I place my faith in people and assume as a result they will be true to their word.

When they're not I feel silly. Very silly.

It is embarrassing. And wallowing in my foolishness it is hard to control my emotions. The temptation to hit back. To send them the email that you've redrafted dozens of times.

But when that initial anger passes, when you allow the deep breaths to regain your composure, you realise that naievity has its benefits too.

Imagine wandering through life as a cynic. Riddled with suspicion. Fueled by mistrust. And driven by deceit.

I choose a different path. 

I will always assume the best. Even if at times that means I'm taken for a ride.

Last night I lost my cap. It blew away in a gust of wind. The calamity that followed is worthy of a separate blog post. Suffice to say it involved four strangers and an umbrella. My hat remains at large. 

This morning I spotted these spectacles (pictured below) lying lonely on the street. They stopped me in my tracks. And got me thinking. They gave me a new perspective.

I slowly realised I recognised them. They looked familiar. 

They were in fact my wife's glasses. Undamaged despite a night alone on the street outside. 

For some reason I find that oddly comforting. As if the tide has turned in my favour once more. 

The business deal I lost on Friday, the cap I dispensed of last night are but two blips on an otherwise wondrous voyage. 

I am a better man as a result. I can raise my head higher. And you can't take that away from me.

Deep thoughts for a Sunday morning. But I feel better for sharing them.

Wednesday, 15 January 2014

Dom's dirty dozen for 2014

A bit late to the big predictions for 2014 party I grant you. But these twelve were compiled last week by colleagues at my agency IMP Media for a planning day we held.

They are a combination of 23 pages worth of blogs, articles and tweets that they've poured over in recent weeks and we've been collectively mulling since.

So we make no claims to be the originators of any of these trends, they simply stood out and resonated with us.

Some of them overlap, and each one probably deserves a fuller description or explanation. Tough! Make of them what you will. The 23 pages are avaliable on special request.

So, in no particular order Dom's dirty dozen are:

1. The resurgence of the advertorial
2. Employee advocacy is now key
3. Engaging content will still be rewarded
4. The age of advocacy is upon us
5. Pay to play (Facebook etc now charging brands for 'organic' reach)
6. Millennials will fuel even more video sharing
7. The death of the social media manager (slightly worrying that one)
8. Social organisations will be the real winners
9. Customers expect instant responses on social channels
10. Growth of gamification on social - including within the workplace
11. Key influencers / content creators can now monetise their position
12. Stronger interplay between social and TV

So there you have it.

Feel free to put me straight or add your own to the list.

You will have gathered by now the title of this blog is somewhat misleading given they're not really mine and they're not very dirty. There are a dozen though.

Tuesday, 14 January 2014

Playing around with Jelly

Trying to predict the next big thing is about as easy as pinning jelly to a wall. But the latest addition to the social media landscape Jelly ( aka @askjelly on twitter) is probably worth a look.

Less than a week old it is already eating up hours of my attention each day.

It is far too early to draw any meaningful conclusions at this stage.

But as someone that spends a lot of time engaging with Asda customers on Facebook, Twitter and Instagram - using lots of fun images, and often posing questions that are quick and easy to engage with, Jelly is simply an extension of that approach.

So far we've tried five different posts. Most of which have also appeared elsewhere in our social news streams, so it's not a lot of effort for us to be trialling similar content on this new platform.

We've asked the big questions on the nation's mind, such as which is best for a mid-morning tea break - chocolate or plain digestives. We've asked people to choose between three different shampoos, one of which we will stock. And posted a fun spot the snowman competition which enabled Jelly users to annotate the answers on the image itself.

We will obviously continue to experiment with different types of questions and formats.

If and when Jelly becomes more mainstream (the reality at present is that it is mainly full of early adopter social media types, not core Asda shoppers) then it could be a fun, engaging way to interact with customers.

It is really easy to get going. All you need to do is download the app, login via Twitter or Facebook. Upload or take a pic and pose a question.

According @Azeem at Peer Index the posts have a 24 hour shelf life (he posed the question on Jelly, got 124 answers including one from the co-founder of Jelly @Biz himself), and at present you can't delete them or search for Jelly questions.

No doubt the subsequent releases of Jelly will have a very different user experience than the one we're 'wasting' hours of our life on at the moment.

Either way, I will do my best not to be too distracted by it. Fifty per cent of Asda customers (9m people) are on Facebook each day, around ten per cent are on Twitter and YouTube, so that's where most of our effort will continue to go for now.

Btw, did you see Mark Zuckerberg on there yesterday!

He's got issues with an unidentified spider in his shower don't you know.

In the meantime spare a thought for a chap who is actually called Jelly and has had the twitter name @jelly since 2008. He's getting a lot of misdirected tweets poor chap. Reminds me of @theashes and @johnlewis. I've told him to embrace it. Either that or sell his profile name to @biz. What would you do? 

Perhaps I should ask that on Jelly. Right must dash. Questions to ask. People to see. 

Wednesday, 1 January 2014

Resolutions 11-20

Three years ago I set off on a journey to devise 37 resolutions with the intention of completing them all in my 37th year.

I made them up as I went along and deliberately had a good mix of fun and serious ones.

This is an update on resolutions 11-20:

Resolution 11: 
Make contact with a friend of the family who was going through a tough time at the time. 

I made a bit of an effort and it paid off in spades. He's been a great help to me too. 

Resolution 12: 
Being more spur of the moment, and talking to people you meet for the first time as if it is the last time you'll ever speak to them. 

I've tried my best to do this and had some interesting conversations as a result.

It's fascinating when you lose your inhibitions a bit and allow yourself to be yourself at every opportunity rather than flexing your personality to try and fit in. It's easy to spend too much time worrying about what people think of you. If you're talking to someone for the first, and quite possibly the last time, why bother caring what they think?

Resolution 13: 
Help get Rich Gillen a job in PR. I had a spurt of activity around two years ago. But to be frank didn't have much impact. Thankfully Rich git himself a job in marketing with no help from anyone. Fair play.

Resolution 14: 
Keep chickens, get a composter and a water butt for the garden etc. In other words try and recreate a bit of the Good Life in Saltaire. 

Still on the list.

Resolution 15: 
Bring my potter's wheel out of retirement. 

I signed up to a pottery class in January 2012 at a local art workshop. But going back to work following my career break got in the way. I also volunteer at BCB Radio every other Friday afternoon so felt like I was taking the piss a bit if I took every Wednesday morning off too. 

Resolution 16: 
Stop being lazy. Put more in and get more out. 

Hard to do in practice all of the time, but a good prompt every now and then. 

That said I do think it is possible to choose your attitude.

You can choose to get up and do something or simply stop saying no all the time particularly when it comes to the kids. I've started to say yes as often as I can and the results have been far more pleasant as a result.

Resolution 17: 
Watch one hour less each day of TV, and read a book instead. Not sure I've cracked this yet. However the introduction of a real fire a year or two ago has made a big difference as it is in a room without a TV. As a result we tune into 6 Music instead and watch and listen to the fire.

I've also got out of the habit of watching X Factor, I'm a Celebrity and Britain's Got Talent.

Resolution 18: 
Appear on a daytime television game show in order to earn a bit of money i.e. Come Dine With Me or Deal Or No Deal. 

Filled in my application and was invited to an audition. Then thought better of it.

Resolution 19: 
Overcome a fear or phobia (this one was suggested via twitter by @broadfordbrewer). 

I jumped off the highest bungee bridge in the world. Didn't cure my fear of edges/heights, but it was A M A Z I N G ! 

Resolution 20: 
Become a bone marrow doner.

Bit of a cheat this one, as I did it, then set it as a resolution. Good cause tho, so forgive me.

17 more resolutions to go...