Archive for October, 2009

Be Wrong

WrongI’m going to take a guess and say that around 5-10% of what I write on this site misses the mark. Maybe I’m wrong about something, or I write something to which people don’t relate, or I write badly.

I know when this happens because on those posts I’m deafened by the silence in the comments. When I get it really wrong, people will tell me but for more things it usually just gets really quiet.

For many of us, especially those thinking from a corporate perspective the fear of the consequences being wrong online is a little greater than that associated with a personal blog. The fear of critics; of trolls; of brand damage; of financial or legal consequences in severe situations can be great. It requires a bit of a shift in thinking to realize that, in conversational channels, it’s ok to be wrong occasionally.

Why should you be ok with being wrong occasionally online?

  • Admitting you’re wrong is, in its own way, a powerful way to connect with people. It brings you down from your pedestal.
  • You can learn from the comments you’ll receive from your readers.
  • No-one is perfect. If you’re never wrong, it likely means you’re not breaking out into new territory. That gets boring pretty quickly. Few people really want to be boring.

Of course, we’re talking about opinions here. When it comes to financial, competitive or IR information you can’t mess around. However, if you’re using social media to connect with people, many times we’re going to find ourselves giving opinions.

It’s ok to be wrong.

What do you think? Are you ok with being wrong occasionally?

(Image credit: gundolf)

When Search Can Make Or Break You

It’s hard to argue nowadays that search isn’t important. It’s not often, though, that you see a real-world product completely base its advertising around it.

Check out these ads for the movie 2012, being launched on November 13:

Transit ad for 2012 movie

Billboard ad for 2012 movie

No website on either of them – just an instruction to “Search: 2012.”

If the website for this movie didn’t make it onto the top few pages of search results, through either organic or paid search. The movie would be in trouble, as the URL isn’t obvious either (

Fortunately for the studio, the movie tops the organic results (especially fortunate given there’s no sign of paid search):

2012 search results

Would you be confident enough in your website’s SEO to leave your URL out of your ads?

Where The Personal Brand Falls Short

ScreamingThe concept of the “personal brand” is still quite controversial. Not in whether it’s possible to build a significant personal brand (it clearly is), but in whether it’s the right thing to do.

Over the past few years we’ve seen lots of people develop strong personal brands through social media, and levered those brands to develop their careers.

Recently, I’ve noticed what seems like an increasing use of auto-reply emails by many people with strong personal brands.

They usually read something like this (but far more eloquent):

“Thanks for your email. Please note that it may take me a while to get back to you, as I get a large volume of email.”

I got to thinking about a fundamental problem with big personal brands (this isn’t a shot at people with them – just exploring the issue):

*You* aren’t scaleable

The problem with building a strong personal brand through social media is that you are the brand – not your product, service or company. That means that as it grows, you get additional attention. Unfortunately, your time can’t scale to go along with the additional attention.

Something has to give. You have to either lengthen your work day even more, find efficiencies somewhere, sacrifice some other element of your day to handle the flow or start to lose the connection that likely helped to build your brand in the first place.

*You* can’t be delegated

Can you offload some of this work to someone else? You can, but you are the brand, not them. That means people want to connect with you – they want to work with you; they want your input.

Over time, in my own small way, I’ve wrestled with jamming 28 hours of activities into a 24 hour day. Meanwhile, I’ve watched as much higher-profile people have wrestled publicly with this problem. Almost uniformly, they’ve been forced to cut back on the interaction that built their brands in the first place.

Can personal brands be a liability? Is it acceptable for people who’ve built their careers around connection to disconnect slightly? Or is it an understandable side-effect of success?

What do *you* think?

(Image credit: ralaenin)

Think Media, Not Medium

HeadphonesI just downloaded the audiobook version of Mitch Joel‘s book “Six Pixels of Separation: Everyone Is Connected. Connect Your Business to Everyone.

I bought the hard copy of the book two months ago when it was first released. So why get the audio version too?

Books just don’t work for me any more.

I love books. I have a stack of books in my office and a full bookcase in my home office. I love being able to hold, see, wave-around and annotate the hard copy of something as I consume it. However, I’ve had this book for two months now and am only half-way through.

On the flip side, as I make a concerted effort to live up to my commitment to myself to get back into running I’m finding myself consuming more and more audio content via my iPod Nano.

On the way home from work yesterday, I got through more of the audiobook than I’d consumed in the last two weeks via the hard copy, despite being on vacation.

Communicators: Think beyond one medium

It’s all too easy for us to think in terms of individual communications channels. PR folks do their thing; advertising folks do their thing; maybe the social media folks do theirs too.

That kind of thinking isn’t as effective nowadays, where people are used to consuming information in the way that they want. A ‘book’ doesn’t work for me, but the same content in a different medium is perfect.

As communicators, I think we need to move towards what I think of as a medium-agnostic approach to communications. Part of that is reaching your target audience wherever they inhabit, so each person can consume information in the way in which they choose. So think – are you re-purposing your content wherever you can?

It’s all about making your customers’ lives easier. How are you achieving that?

Image source:, via d-s-n

Corporate Social Media Policies Ebook

Earlier this year I published a short series of posts on how to go about creating social media policies for your organization.

I’ve now pulled the essence of these posts into an ebook on corporate social media policies, to make the content even easier to reference when you’re working on these documents for your organization. You can download the Social Media Policies Ebook here, or check it out on SlideShare.

View more documents from Dave Fleet.

Thornley Fallis Is Hiring

Want to join the Thornley Fallis team? We’re hiring a senior Consultant to join our Social Media practice.

We’re growing. Over the last while, we’ve added four new members to our team at Thornley Fallis/76Design. We’ve welcomed a new Creative Director, a new Executive Producer of our Video practice (which is itself a new entity), a new Lead Designer and a new Account Coordinator.

Thornley Fallis Communications is hiringWe’re also growing from within – last week, I also had the pleasure of promoting an existing team member (yaaa Kerri!).

As the social media side of our business continues to grow, we are continuing to build our team.

What you’ll do

The successful applicant will play a key role as we continue to develop the Social Media practice. You will:

  • Play a key role in new business pitches
  • Lead client projects from start to finish
  • Manage relationships directly with clients
  • Help to mentor other staff
  • Represent the company at industry events and gatherings

Who we’re after

We’re looking for a senior-level consultant, based in our Toronto office, to take a key role in our Social Media practice.

The ideal candidate:

  • Has 3-5 years of marketing/communications experience, ideally with some or all of that in an agency setting
  • Has experience managing client projects and budgets
  • Closely follows, and is excited by, developments in online communications for businesses
  • Is willing to go above and beyond for a team that will do the same for them
  • Obsesses over achieving measurable results

Want to work with a wide variety of clients of all shapes and sizes? Want the opportunity to have a big impact on a fast-growing area of our business? Want to be challenged by those around you – and to challenge them – every day?
Send your resume to fleet [at] thornleyfallis [dot] com.

Note: this position is available immediately.

Mainstream Media Still Matters

It’s easy to jump on the “mainstream media is dead” bandwagon. Journalists are jumping ship, outlets are fragmenting and readership is, in many cases, down. What’s more, it’s what a lot of the “cool kids” are saying so it must be right… right?

But here’s the thing – your local newspaper still probably has higher readership than your corporate blog… and as for tier one outlets, well, you’re probably not even close to their audience size.

Their audience is still bigger than yours

Mitch Joel recently wrote about the conundrum facing newspapers – more and more people say they will go elsewhere if their favourite news site suddenly introduced fees. Beneath the surface though, there’s a useful point for PR folks. As Todd Defren wrote in a separate post yesterday, “Though the news media still struggles to figure out how to make $$$ from journalism, the audience is present and accounted for.”

You catch that? The audience is present. It’s not as targeted as niche communities, but the reach is there (the reach/niche debate is one for another day).

Long term/short term

Social media is at its best long-term. I believe that; you probably do too. Yes, you might get lucky and get immediate attention but let’s face it, that’s not so likely.

As Dave Jones noted on a recent Inside PR podcast, agencies are fond of telling companies not to worry about social media results now; that in a few years they will – without necessarily having any evidence to back that up. See how your CFO or client reacts when you tell him he needs to wait for a couple of years to see the result from the budget he carved out from other marketing programs to give you.

How will you reach people?

You may have the best social media program possible, but if that’s all you have, how will people find out about it? Devoid of an audience, you run the risk of standing alone in a forest and shouting at the trees.

Depending on your company, you may already have an established visitor base for your corporate website. If so, the weight is off slightly but you’re still not off the hook. Search engine optimization is obviously key, but vaulting up to page one of important search terms isn’t usually a short-term endeavour.

Where does that leave us? With the established audiences of mainstream media – whether you’re buying placement through ads or earning it through media relations.

The definition of mainstream media has broadened (we can now count sites like TechCrunch, Mashable, Daily Kos, HuffPo etc as mainstream) but the old channels still matter.

What do you think?

A New Look For

I’m re-launching today with a new, sleeker look and feel and a whole load of new functionality.

The big changes include:

  • Professional: The old site was built from a template when one man (me) and his dog read my posts. The new design was created by my colleagues at 76design. I hope you’ll agree it’s a big improvement.
  • Focus on conversation: I write this blog for the conversation. I learn more from you than you possibly can from me. The new design is based on conversation, and the layout is focused on making that easier – from featuring my latest tweets to the Facebook Connect integration (update: teething problems with this one; disabled for now) to threaded commenting.
  • Connection: Making it easier for you to connect with me – whether you want to subscribe to this site via RSS or connect through any of the other social networks I inhabit.

What do you think of the new site?


Old homepage


New homepage