Livin' in a Social Media World…

Sharing the Love for Social Media, Online Marketing, and Beyond. Insight from Emer Lawn.

BlogTalk 2010 – Day Two – Streams, Facebook vs. Everyone Again, and Location based Social Networks August 30, 2010

Filed under: Uncategorized — EmerLawn @ 11:58 am

The second day of the conference proved just as valuable as the first, starting with Stowe Boyd talking us through his Web of Flow theory and how it’s all about the streams. Followed on by Ruairi McKiernan inspiring the crowd with, Fergus Hurley talking on Silicon Valley, Laurent Walter Goix bringing it back to Context from a telecoms perspective, and Ronan Skehill outlining how Apps are bad, leading us into lunch after a healthily debate. Perhaps one of my favourite sessions from the conference was Deanna Lee‘s talking about engagement and The New York Public Library. Various other presentations filled the afternoon; but again highlight of the day was the Panel discussion on location based social networks.

Location Based Social Networking Panel Discussion

The panel discussion was one of great interest to most people in the audience, particularly for those of us in Ireland (since we’re the only ones in the country using them so far) but also because of the impact such technology has on our behaviour. Mark Cahill led the discussion, walking us through the various location based networks: Foursquare of course,, Google Latitude, Gowalla, Plancast and now Facebook Places. Mark put it very simply: it’s about relevance and if you’re in the right place, right time…that’s relevant. Fergus Hurley outlined that despite the launch of Facebook Places, Foursquare still has potential due to it’s gaming elements. I’d have to agree, considering this is the appeal that it has for me also at the moment. But I think what we needed to contemplate was what would be the motivation for “checking in”? Hurley also touched on this when he said that he thought people would check in somewhere that they wanted other people to know about. Say for example, me checking in in Spain when I was on holidays to remind everyone that I was somewhere sunny and when they were probably stuck in the Irish rain! A debate ensued about the behaviour from one generation to another (and how “generations” may not mean years now but months) and that younger generations will adapt to sharing where they are at all times. Only question left to answer is which one of the networks will be king. It seemed Facebook was the popular, but very unpopular, choice for most.

I also managed to get a good chunk of the panel discussion, with loads of feedback from the audience. I’ve uploaded to Vimeo and shared below:

BlogTalk 2010 – Location Based Social Networks Panel Discussion – Led by Mark Cahill from Emer Lawn on Vimeo.

We should all Support

Ruairi McKiernan spoke about in one of the morning slots and I think most of the BlogTalk crowd learned a thing or two about social media for non-profit organisations. The organisation is using social media to activate the young people in Ireland, across a number of different issues or challenges they may face. What we can learn from their case study? Always involve your target audience. want to engage young people, so they have young people on the board and involved in making key decisions for the organisation. And remember to learn from one market to another. Use social media to share ideas and learnings but remember to bring it back to your local audience.

Clixtr presented by Fergus Hurley

I managed to catch the intro to Fergus Hurley’s presentation on video, and have included this snippet below. He walked us through what it takes to go from Galway to Silicon Valley. His network, Clixtr, is one that I admit to not hearing about before the conference and will certainly use now in the future. His presentation had a lot of great resources so looking forward to getting the slides. He also gave us a sneak peak at PicBounce which appears to be a faster version of uploading your pictures to sites like Twitter.

Engagement is Key from NYPL

Deanna Lee of the New York Public Library gave us a great presentation on how she has seen success in the social space. The title of her presentation “Communications 2.0” is something that stuck with me, because she made the point that while the rest of us have moved on to Web 3.0 and beyond, for institutions and corportations, many of them are still stuck in 2.0. I’d agree that this is the challenge from a marketing perspective that we face all the time, where consumers have advanced their behaviour; but organisations are still fearful of diving head first into this space.  The key point from the presentation was that we have to think about ways for our Content to stand out. We cannot live by the “build it and they will come” motto, as social media is about being proactive. We have to create new ways to be noticed in the sea of content.  She refers us back to the Basics of Storytelling and in that to always be relevant.  She gave us a lot of great examples of what makes content stand out, take the Ghostbusters in the NYPL or the Skateboarding dog. As someone who has always been a fan of the library, she was able to draw from this emotion by making the NYPL’s campaign, not a brand’s campaign; but a people’s campaign.

She’s much better at explaining her own points than I am, so I managed to catch a good chunk of her presentation with some references to the videos I speak about above. I’ve shared this video on Vimeo and below:

BlogTalk 2010 – Deanna Lee of New York Public Library and “Communications 2.0” from Emer Lawn on Vimeo.

Additional points worth noting?

In addition to the highlights featured above, there were several presentation that sparked intrigue and got me thinking about all of the things I now have to follow up on! Some of them have been noted here below; but would love for others to add some of their highlights!

  • Consider the Six Degrees of Collaboration; and apply to your LinkedIn strategy. Ted Vickey presented his thoughts on the power of LinkedIn and outlined several ways he has used the network to build his own network and others. Reach out to your network on LinkedIn and source contacts that can help you provide solutions to problems. His example outlined Hank Von Ess’ iPhone battery problem, which was posted as a question on LinkedIn, and then resulted in six different collaborators able to help provide a product that is now able to extend the battery life for our iPhones.
  • How often do we ask ourselves “Who Am I?” when thinking about how we are presented in our social profiles online. Gabriela Avran (University of Limerick) and Brian O’Donovan (IBM) presented their academic observations about social identity construction. They outlined IBM’s internal social network, BluePages, as an example for their research. They pointed out that internal social networks are used with promotion in mind. Their slides definately provided some food for thought.
  • A really interesting perspective was provided by Dr. Werner Breitfuss of Hypios, who presented his company’s Problem Solving platform that really shows the power of social media for our future. In my basic understanding of his product, Hypios helps people Find Experts with Social Media. If you have a problem that needs a solution, source the people that know the answers best. Take his Kraft example, where a small restaurant in Italy ended up providing the answer to something that Kraft was trying to solve on their own. The small restaurant was found using social media.
  • I haven’t commented on Ronan Skehill’s argument for why “Apps are Bad” because I’m afraid I’d need to do a bit of research before I would be able to participate in that debate! 🙂 His presentation did prove valuable in providing us with key stats about the future of Native Apps vs. Web Apps; and really drilled down the growth in this area. I had heard about Android’s growth, but didn’t realise that they had increased market share from 2% to 10% from Q1 2009 to Q1 2010.
  • And lastly, Laurent Walter Goix of Telecom Italia was able to give us insight into our changing social behaviour from a mobile network’s perspective. His presentation was all about Context. He outlined that we must always be Context Aware, considering the Where, When, How, By What, and By which network? WIth this context awareness, there will a new role for telcos; whereby they may become the “Context sensors” for the data we share and consume across the mobile social web. He also pointed out the importance of being filtering or sensoring content on your Mobile due to the small display screens on mobile devices.

All in all, the conference was really valuable for a social media marketer/enthusiast due to its fresh perspective in speakers, as mentioned in my post about BlogTalk 2010 Day One! From someone looking at social media with my Brand and Organisation hat on, it was useful to think about the Technology behind what makes social networks work. And the debates about the future of social media left us all buzzing. I look forward to staying in touch with those that myself and Aoife Murphy (of Radical) met along the way; as well as keeping up to speed on the blogs, videos and opinions shared from the speakers on the day. Thanks to John Breslin and other event organisers.

Please do share more feedback on the event here or view more Highlights from the event over at


BlogTalk2010: Day One – Social Identity, Facebook vs. Everyone, and Credibility August 27, 2010

Filed under: Uncategorized — EmerLawn @ 7:43 pm

Arriving to Galway yesterday with little expectation for what Thursday and Friday would bring at BlogTalk2010, I was delighted with day one…compelled me to write a blog at least, despite the conference having little or nothing to do with “blogging.” The day started for me (missed the first few) with considerations for our identity online, whether we should have one ID for all properties across the web. Facebook were then bravely represented and I’d comfortably stand by them for a while. They are not going anywhere just yet! And then Credibility is the third thing that stuck out; which of course stems from being relevant and interesting.

Highlight of day one for me was the Panel on Social vs. Conversational Networks, led by Ade Oshineye of Google. To start the panel off, he walked us through his perspective on the social networking spectrum: social networks (Facebook, Fanbit and Picasa) on one side and conversational networks (Twitter, Flickr) on the other. Social is more private and Conversational is more open, in his opinion. He stated that when a network is more conversational, it inspires more creativity. His perspective was interesting; but I was glad to hear the perspective of the other panel speakers who were able to look at it from different angles. Darragh Doyle, of, Blaine Cook from Webfinger and Charles Dowd of Facebook joined Ade on the panel.

I managed to capture a good chunk of the panel discussion on video, so thought I would share it here:

BlogTalk2010 – Social/Conversational Networks Panel from Emer Lawn on Vimeo.

Interesting points from the discussion?

Always remember how a network was engineered. That might provide us with insight behind what the creators of that social network had in mind and which part of the social spectrum a network falls under.

Cow Clicker is cool.

Consider the identity of someone using Twitter for a business, brand: the people behind the account matter . Blaine Cook’s example was to think of it like the local coffee shop. You might not go in if that really annoying employee is working that day; but similarly if that pleasant employee is working, you might feel more enclined. This point is interesting to me, considering my work is looking after Twitter and Facebook for brands. The same way you get hired to work for a company because you seem like a good fit, any of the the social media profiles and accounts I manage are a good fit for me. Further to that, the future is certainly not having just one Twitter account for a company; but several accounts with individuals named; which is where we need to head to bring a more human touch to the brand. This is particularly important for customer service in social media.

– When posed the question: “What impact will mobile have on the future of social media?” the panelists agreed that the Internet PLUS anything else is still the internet. Perhaps that just means that mobile will contribute to the social world we already live in.

Aside from the panel, there were several other great presentations worth referencing.

John Conroy’s Use of Twitter for Business Intelligence

The presentation from John Conroy sparked interest in something we have pondered about the power of the social media before: how data (on Twitter) can be used to predict external activity. Examples of using Twitter for business intelligence that John used included measuring buzz around a holiday destination; and mapping the number of actual tourists to that destination. The correlation proved his point. Additionally, he used new movie releases as another xample when we consider the amount of buzz before a movie on Twitter directly correlated with the success of opening weekend. This means we might be able to predict the outcome of things to come, based on the amount of buzz built up around it online.

Interesting to see the academic approach to Twitter data; but this also reminded me of the success of two young students, Ben McRedmond (17) and Patrick O’Doherty (16), who created We Predict, demonstrated at the BT Youn Scientists Competition. Their tool allowed them to use Twitter to predict the winners of Britain’s Got Talent and the X-Factor (Good thing I only caught wind of it after Olly Murs lost, would have ruined it for me). 🙂

Dan Gillmor’s Credibility Scale

Outside of that, I’d say another highlight of Day One was Dan Gillmor‘s Keynote presentation – “Using Media in a Networked Age” which was a really great outlook on the democratisation of media; and the principles of Journalism. This is the side that fascinates me (aka I’m not technical!). Gillmor said that committing an act of journalism doesn’t make you a journalist, referencing how bloggers are not journalists and vice versa. Probably the most important thing that I took from his talk was the Credibility Scale, or what could be called the bullsh*t meter. Some things are so far below zero on the credibility scale that they’d need to improve before even being called “not credible.” Credibility is so important; but we must think about how our credibility is specific to our interest, subject or expertise. Some people at BlogTalk were credible in Developing Apps, others in Marketing Brands in social media; so when finding out where we belong on the Credibility Scale, it would have to judged in context.

I also managed to get a snippet from Dan’s presentation, which I’ve also shared below. Sound quality not great!

Bill Liao’s Reminder to be Wise, Interesting and Satisfying

Liao’s presentation was also something I’m glad I didn’t miss. Managed to catch a bit of his introduction for us here below. He left us with this: Please ALWAYS be Wise, Interesting, and Satisfying.

I haven’t even brushed the surface with the above, as my pages of notes would prove; but was delighted to see fresh perspectives being shared in a space where change happens so quickly. Day Two proved just as valuable, and I’ll be sure to follow up this post with more from the conference. Head will be buzzing for days I’d say!


Social Media Measurement – Analytics is Key! February 4, 2010

So…people get that social media is important, even here in Ireland. They say, ok…let’s talk to someone and sort out how to do this. We tell them that strategy is key and that measurement and reporting will be essential throughout a social media project. We all agree that there’s great opportunityfor us both when we do things right from the start. But then, we’re regretfully informed that the social media ideas are not going to go ahead because the business is afraid that it won’t lead to sales and the marketing manager will look bad to the people that control his/her budgets. Ok…we understand, social media is powerful for engagement; and we can show you how that will happen; but the real challenge is to prove that it works to directly achieve business goals (and that means sales!).

Good news…it can be done! And luckily, Amber Naslund of Altitude Branding has told us exactly how. She stresses the importance of using your web analytics package to meaasure sales and conversions. This article was a great find, so I thought I’d share it quickly here, as a quick answer to a lot of questions clients are rightfully asking.

“Practical Social Media Measurement: Leads, Conversions, Sales”

She outlines a very practical strategy for Direct Response sales that can be attributed to social media; some of which I’ve snatched here:

Direct Response Sales

The key to this is very simple: you have to provide a unique mechanism for people to buy from you that is exclusive to either all of your social media channels, or specific ones if you’re targeting individual communities. This is what Dell did, with specific deals that were only available to Twitter.

That can be a promotional code you distribute only inside your online community, a specific and unique landing page you create only for your Twitter followers, or a coupon only available to your Facebook fans (and that they can share with their friends, perhaps). Then, you have to deliberately and carefully track the sales that are generated through those initiatives.

This is one place you can calculate true ROI, or the monetary return on your investment in something. You’d have to:

  • Account for the time and expenses you put into a specific social media effort, such as your Facebook fan page. That means people hours, costs for infrastructure, and a percentage of overhead that’s relative to the time and human capital investment.
  • Account for the direct sales that come from that effort, by tracking them as specifically as possible.
  • Take the sales, subtract the cost, divide the resulting number (the net profit) by the cost figure again, and get a decimal figure. Multiply it by 100 to get a percentage. A positive percentage means that you made more than you spent, or a positive ROI.

Keep something in mind though: information on the internet is rarely without bleed into other avenues. I can get a code on Facebook, email it to 10 of my friends, and they can use it too. I can share a specific Twitter link off Twitter, and instead to my friends on Yammer at work.  Or I can retweet it, and therefore it’s not just sales via your Twitter followers, but the Twitter community overall.

The point here is to evaluate the sales not as only initiating (or caused) from the specific social network, but as a result of your presence on that network (because people will see it there first, and if they share, you have extended reach). See the difference?

We’ve applied some of these tools to our campaigns; and have found it difficult to attribute sales directly to social media without the investment from the brand or business. But we have seen that social media works to achieve sales objectives. Consider the 19% increase in sales achieved from the Ireland Deserves Sun case study by Crown Paints.

In my opinion, direct response social media sales is where we are headed, but currently, social media in Ireland will best be measured by showing the increased value of a customer who is engaged in social media versus those that are not.


TV and Social Media Engagement Changing Media Consumption: Showcased by the BreffMeister and Simon Cowell. November 16, 2009

So, you’re huddled up on the couch and ready for your night’s television entertainment…remote control in one hand…and your mobile phone or laptop in the other. The way we consume media has changed drastically; and people are feeling more compelled to not only share their feelings about what they watch on TV with the person sitting beside them; but also with their entire online community of friends and followers on Facebook and Twitter. The integration of our engagement with the television and social networks is highly overlooked; and there are many ways we are missing opportunities to create high impact with our customers.

I speak from experience as a die hard fan of the XFactor and (shamefully) the Irish Apprentice; and it is now just as important for me to have my community handy while watching these programs should I feel the need to complain about Danni Minogue’s hair style or Bill Cullen’s overuse of the word “liathroidi.” By the looks of things, Twitter is the network where most conversation is taking place; but several friends also express their thoughts on Facebook come the end of a program.

So how do I find other people talking about XFactor, the Apprentice, or other TV programs?

Well, everyone’s talking about them…so that’s easy enough; but when it comes to Twitter, the use of Hashtags is extremely important if we want our “tweets” to appear to a wider audience of people, who may or may not already follow you.

Simply visit and search for #apprentice or #xfactor. (Or search these Hashtags in your mobile phone application). Searching for a Television program using one of the hashtag allows you to find every other person that has added this tag to their Post and easily view a live stream of comments and a world of commentary that enhances your television viewing experience.

Create your own Hashtag for topics that you feel strongly about. Consider the amount of people who love “the Breffmeister” on the Apprentice. His silly comments that have made him famous now have a number of Twitter users also using Hashtags such as #breffmania and #breffnywatch to encourage other users to share their thoughts on him. Similarly, you’ll find plenty of people tweeting about #Jedward or even #JedwardtoGo during the Xfactor.

Follow those users that have interesting or funny things to say. You’ll also find that you meet the same people tweeting during the programs as you did the week before; and your ongoing interaction is likely to lead you to become followers of one another. Here’s where I feel there is a place for brands in this engagement. Consider how ( were tweeting live during last week’s Apprentice, where there was any reference to their brand. Any program sponsors or those with ads during the breaks should find an opportunity to make a relevant comment about the program that their target audience values.

So what does this mean for marketers going forward?

Well we must not ignore how our offline media plans must be closely integrated with our online activity. A lot of us are doing this already; but perhaps there is room for further integration when you consider how your social media Content should align with the content of a particular television program or ad appearing during a program.

Additionally, I think we need to encourage our client’s brands to start engaging with content that may not be directly relevant to our product; but rather is extremely relevant to our target audience. Hey, I really like the XFactor so if I meet a brand in Facebook or Twitter that also takes the time to discuss this program; this will only strengthen my relationship with the brand.

Overall, we need to think outside the box…and that means thinking outside our TV boxes; and considering the engagement our audience is having with a television program online or on their mobile phone. I hope to see more brands having the “liathroidi” to tell me what they think of Mr. Bill; or at least engaging with the things that are relevant to their target audience.


Facebook to Double Workforce at International HQ in Dublin October 30, 2009

Filed under: Uncategorized — EmerLawn @ 10:59 am

Facebook HeadQuarters Dublin Just over a year ago, it was announced that Facebook would be launching its international headquarters here in Dublin; and just this week, we found that it’s just a short hop, skip and a jump away from us across the Liffey. Mary Coughlan, Tanáiste and Minister for Enterprise Trade & Employment, was there to bring us all the good word that not only has Facebook now arrived; but that they are planning on doubling the size of their workforce in the coming year.

The original announcement of this news highlights that the Dublin headquarters will be the centre for Facebook’s international operations, providing services ranging from technical, sales and operations support to Facebook’s users (and us, the advertisers!) across Europe, the Middle East and Africa.

In attendance with managing director of Radical, Martin Murray, Facebook treated us to a lovely lunch that went on longer than expected as we awaited the arrival of the Donegal women herself. Looking around the room, there seemed to a large variety of people there, including media agency representatives like ourselves, several journalists, and many representatives from IDA Ireland who were responsible for bring Facebook to the country.

Following the announcement of Facebook bringing more jobs to Ireland (ahem…and making it clear why all Irish brands need to adopt Social Media into their marketing plans); we attended a roundtable discussion with representatives from the marketing and advertising perspective on the future of Facebook and its capabilities.

While there was a lot of insight gathered, the ones that got me most excited had to be those that discussed the possible targeting options were some of the following…
•    Imagine being able to target your Page wall posts to a specific group of your fans. For example, some day we hope to be able to upload a wall post that only our Male fans will see, or perhaps only those fans in Dublin (as opposed to all of Ireland).  Targeted publishing options…so exciting!
•    Soon we’ll see a more sophisticated geographical targeting, so that we don’t have to select “Ireland” and can choose more specific locations in the country, with offers that may only be relevant to people in more local regions.
•    Facebook also mentioned they were hard at work to implement a way where we can see Conversion tracking once users are taken offsite.

Ah there were several more as well, but those wet our appetites for what’s to come with Facebook; and after having set up shop in Ireland, I’m wondering why more Irish brands aren’t embracing it for all that it is.


The Importance of Relevance in Social Media: Ireland Deserves Sun Success September 30, 2009

Reflecting on how I spent my summer months, I discovered that I became even more Irish than I already was; because of my obsession with the weather for the Ireland Deserves Sun campaign for Sandtex exterior paint. As part of the marketing team for the campaign, it was extremely insightful to learn the value of providing not only creative (and sometimes funny) content within social media; but also content that is already relevant…and for the Irish, that means talking about the weather.

While this seems obvious, you’d be surprised to learn just how much faith we have in our ideas; where we almost believe that they are so good that we can make them relevant. This is true in those rare moments where we fall in love with social media once again; but when working on Social media for brands, we must minimise the risk involved and shape our activity around content and ideas that are already buzzworthy, already relevant, and that people will most certainly be talking about.

Hopped over to the company blog and grabbed the snapshot of the Irish social media campaign we were a part of this summer, so you might have a read of it over there, or read a snippet here below:

“…perhaps you’re one of the 10,400 fans on Facebook, one of 290 followers on Twitter or one of close to 700 registered users on the campaign microsite. Most recently, the Irish Independent covered the case study, outlining the reverse of a 40% plunge in sales.

As the campaign was driven primarily by online activity, Radical was responsible for the day to day management of the Facebook, Twitter and YouTube profiles and pages. Additional online elements that helped launch the campaign included Image Ads running in Google’s content network, the distribution of an online press release and an email campaign to further develop the relationship building in social media. The campaign was reactive; with a social media strategy that was dynamically changing to reflect the response of the community.”

child-of-prague-199x300The campaign was a great example of how important developing a social media strategy for your Brand or business is, rather than jumping into communities that we no longer hold control of. Keeping in mind that we will never again have complete control over our brand’s reputation because of online channels, the best thing we can do is steer people in the right direction. And often times means giving people a place to talk about something other than your brand…and once you’ve made them feel comfortable in the community, you can push a commercial brand message. It worked for Sandtex (they saw an 19% increase in sales)!

Ahh, well another summer gone. I guess I’ll be dreaming of days when I’m capable of getting a tan in Ireland; but until then, I probably won’t resist a trip to Spain…!


Microsoft and Yahoo Deal to Battle Google Search: MicroHooOoo! August 1, 2009

Microsoft Yahoo Search DealSo what’s all this nonsense about Microsoft and Yahoo joining forces? Haven’t we heard this before? Well, yes. But this time Microsoft and Yahoo have come together; and we don’t just mean in a meeting that goes nowhere; but they’ve made it official, Yahoo search will now be powered by Microsoft’s Bing.

So, what does the Microsoft Yahoo deal mean for us? Well, for those of us in Ireland…we know that Google is king, especially when it comes to search. According to figures from search engine marketing research carried out for Search Marketing World 2009, 95% of those Irish internet users surveyed use Google. Yahoo came next, followed by Microsoft. Basically, the dominance of Google in Ireland is not going to falter anytime soon; but we must consider the steps Microsoft are taking in order to become a bigger player in the global market.

So first Google becomes king, then Microsoft gets mad, Google gets bigger and better, people start saying “Google it” and Microsoft continues to become an after thought for search.  So Microsoft unveiled Bing; and while we haven’t started saying that we’re going to “bing” anything just yet; it is starting to grow on me.

So the user might not recognise the change; Yahoo will look like Yahoo and Bing will look like Bing. But for those of us running search engine marketing campaigns in other markets, it will be more and more important to consider the gradual adaptation of Bing into the user’s lives, powered by the steps they are taking to improve their offering. Our paid search campaign will be affected a year after the initial changes take place, around 2011.

Danny Sullivan gives us the Microhoo low down over at Search Engine Land, and helps us understand the “why” behind the Microsoft and Yahoo! Deal.  We’ll keep you posted on any changes we see here in Ireland, and in the meantime, if you have any questions…try “binging” it.