Holy smokes! Now even the Pope’s on Twitter

I was pleased to discover today that the person who broke this story was none other than my brother Edward Pentin. Nice work bro!

So if you’re looking for some divine inspiration to break up your twitter feed, who better to follow than  Pope Benedict XVI himself.

Lady Gaga may have some competition on her hands!

Infographic: How to get more clicks on Twitter

A couple of weeks ago I posted about a great empirical study by Buddy Media which outlines ways in which to optimise the engagement of Facebook wallposts. So what about Twitter?  Well there’s an infographic for that too, courtesy of Hubspot.

via www.vincentabry.com

6 steps to building an engaged community

I’d argue the fundamental principles for building  a community are largely the same whether you’re building your fanbase on Facebook or Google+, your subscribers on YouTube or followers on Twitter. It’s clearly not enough to establish your presence on these platforms and expect the community to grow of its own accord.  It needs investment, careful nurturing and a coherent content strategy to drive sustained growth and engagement. For simplicity, I break it down to the following 6 steps.


Whilst there will be some organic growth, a community will rarely gain critical mass without promotional investment.  So it’s important to deploy a range of techniques to drive traffic to your platforms:

  • Owned media – It’s essential you leverage your existing customer touchpoints as much as possible so that your audience can easily follow you via their preferred social channels.  So make sure you create a social media hub on your branded website, include signposting on CRM templates and also promote between platforms (eg link your Facebook and Twitter platforms to your custom YouTube channel).
  • Paid media – To genuinely accelerate growth, it’s worth investing in paid media to promote your social properties such as print, TV, radio ads, OOH, paid search, pre-roll YouTube ads, facebook advertising etc
  • Earned media – If you succeed in creating an engaged community and galvanise your evangelists you will illuminate your properties through word of mouth, sharing, likes, embeds and so on.


Choosing where to host your community is the easy bit.   The challenge is coming up with a compelling reason to join. So think about the social proposition for the community and the value exchange which underpins this. For example, you may be offering one or all of the following:

  • Breaking news and exclusive content
  • Invitations to VIP events
  • Exclusive special offers
  • Customer service response
  • Connection with a passionate community of fans and customers to share stories and experiences
  • Consultation on future developments of brand

Your ‘Illuminate’ phase should really encapsulate this desire and provide a tangible reason to join, either by articulating your umbrella social proposition or perhaps some compelling content which can only be accessed by becoming a fan (eg a new Facebook app or livestreaming event). “Fan gating” techniques can also be employed on selected tabs to make it more ‘desirable’ to become a fan of this page.

The reason for visiting a custom YouTube Channel is to find all your best branded video content under one roof.  So create playlists so that visitors can immerse themselves within a particular product range, service offering, technology, campaign or storyline.  The ultimate aim is to convince all your Youtube visitors to subscribe to this channel in order to remain up to date with the latest videos as they become available.  As for Twitter, your profile description is the only opportunity where you can really exaplain why anyone should bother following you.


First impressions are key so make sure you give your fans or followers a warm welcome from the outset.  Since you don’t always have complete editorial control on your Wall, all traffic to your Facebook page should always be directed to the Welcome Page.  This allows you to creatively explain what’s so good about your Facebook page and why they should like you  (as defined in the ‘Desire’ phase above). I’ve also found a ‘What’s new’ carousel quite a useful device to signpost the latest and most compelling content/tabs.

With Twitter you have the advantage of being able to welcome your followers with an automated or personalised DM message.


We all know by now that it’s no good recruiting a large fan base if you don’t cultivate their interest and keep them engaged over the longer term.  Engagement rates as a proportion of total fans will be a key metric of success. As will ‘fan attrition rates’. So employ a range of engagement strategies and tactics which will cultivate your communities in such a way which builds positive brand opinion. A coherent content strategy should keep the community engaged and try to stimulate dialogue, participation and debate. At the end of the day, you want an active and lively community not a passive one.


But it’s not just about driving engagement. It’s about galvinising your fans to become believers and evangelists.  So set yourself KPIs which encourage advocacy and deploy engagement tactics which deliver against this. So it’s about seeding content which is worth sharing, making sure any content can easily be shared such as embedded videos, Add This plug ins, facebook opengraph etc.,   This will prove critical in ensuring the community enjoys periods of sustained organic growth without the need of having to resort to paid media all the time.


Many communities leave it at that but I think it’s also important to find ways to migrate social handraisers or fans onto your marketing databases or at least nurture them through the purchase funnel in some way.  This will involve either implicit or explicit lead generation techniques from encouraging web referrals and invitations to subscribe to your CRM programme, to even integrating e-commerce funcationality.  Some of you may dislike this approach and feel that’s inappriopriate for social channels but I think there are ways to deliver this in a tactful and sensitive way.  After all it’s only the leads or sales you generate from your social platforms which will ultimately deliver an ROI so if we don’t make a concerted effort to coax fans through the purchase funnel it’s a missed opportunity in my view.

Trick or tweet!

When I arrived at TMW offices today I discovered an unsuspecting pumpkin in the cafe rigged up to a laptop. It transpired that the pumpkin has hijacked the agency twitter account and is posting random tweets whenever you push his nose…!

We also had some other impressive entries in the pumpkin competition which you can see here.

If you know of any good campaigns which tap into Halloween feel free to share below.

10 most popular reasons for ‘unliking’ Branded Facebook Pages

There’s a tendency when setting up a branded Facebook page or Twitter account to view this as simply another advertising channel to broadcast streams of content about the brand, products and latest offers. After all, these social handraisers have actively ‘liked’ your page so they must be receptive to this kind of content, right? Well not entirely. Unlike us, the average customer on the street doesn’t live and breath your brand every day and rarely gives two hoots about that latest press release or product video, let alone those glamorous photos from that launch party they were never invited to.

In fact, a new study by ExactTarget and CoTweet (via webpronews) has identified the 10 most popular reasons why people ‘unlike’ brands on Facebook. The biggest contributory reason is because the company posted too frequently or the content becomes too repetitive and boring. Other highlights from the study include 81% of consumers have either “unliked” or removed a company’s posts from their Facebook news feed and 41% have “unfollowed” a company on Twitter.  No real surprises there but it’s a helpful reminder to all of us that we need to try harder to engage and retain social handraisers than simply broadcasting brand announcements or promotional messaging.

Fanpage attrition rates is probably quite a new concept but it’s something I predict will become increasingly important as brands invest more of their precious marketing budgets on building social databases.  The good news is that it follows exactly the same principles behind any traditional  CRM programme.  So if you send them relevant, timely and engaging content, you can expect the brand relationship to grow.  But as soon as you start focusing on what you want to say rather than what they want to hear, your social handraisers will start to lose faith in this relationship and opt out.

Customers who vent their anger in social media

[Updated 22.3.10]

We all know that the growth in web 2.0 has helped to shift power away from brands towards consumers but nothing demonstrates this more clearly than when you see customers using this platform to vent their anger and frustrations.  Whereas in the good ol’ days we’d have to brave the elements and take to the streets in order to be heard, nowadays we can protest from the comfort of our laptops whilst sipping a cup of Horlicks. Far more civilised!

Here are a few examples I’ve come across recently which I’ll try to update over time, but feel free to add more if you know any better ones.

Nestle’s Facebook fanpage

Rather than be a place to galvanise its legions of brand ambassadors, Nestle’s facebook page seems to be nothing more than a festering pit for aggrieved fanatics! You only need to look at the stream of comments on their wall to see that there’s unhealthy mix of consumers who use this forum to vent their anger against the brand’s unethical policies or else to rally support for their latest anti-Nestle Greenpeace initiative.

But what’s really gathered momentum recently is the backlash to the following provocative comment by Nestle moderators…

Not surprisingly the moderator was challenged by a ‘fan’ to try to embrace social media and have a conversation rather than preach.  Now surely the sensible thing to do here is to try to defuse the situation with a mix of charm, empathy and humility.  Unfortunately for Nestle, the ruffled moderator had other ideas and only succeeded in adding rocket fuel to the fire…

“Thanks for the lesson in manners. Consider yourself embraced. But it’s our page, we set the rules, it was ever thus.”

Needless to say, the backlash has been immense and on a global scale.  (via Brazen PR).


Twitter was bombarded by an avalanche of #saveBBC6music hash tags, after the Times reported that the BBC is to announce the closure of two digital radio stations: 6 Music and Asian Network.  They also have a fanbase on Facebook with 152,000 trying to save the station.

H & M – accused of being uncharitable

When H & M were caught dumping and shedding their ex-stock instead of giving it to charity it was first picked up by the New York Times. H & M chose not to respond until it became the 2nd highest trending topic on Twitter. It was only then that they decided to issue an apology on their Facebook page by which time the damage had already been done.   You can read more about this here by econsultancy.

Pears soap – Bring Back The Original Pears Soap Facebook Page

Woe betide any manufacturer who decides to change their much loved products without consulting their loyal fans.  When Unilever recently changed their formula for Original Pears Soap it created such a stink that their fans have started a fan page to get it changed back.

Thrifty – a disgruntled customer galvinises support on Twitter.

14-11-2009 13-13-13

South West Trains – a classic case of e-squatting where an aggrieved passenger for South West Trains registers the company name on Twitter and starts tweeting outlandish excuses as to why they provide such a shoddy service.  Makes for some amusing reading.


United Airlines – You’ve probably seen this one and bought the single already.  If not, this is what happened.

  • Musician gets guitar smashed in transit.
  • United Airlines ignore his complaints.
  • He writes song about it.
  • Result. 6 million views on YouTube.
  • Moral of the story – ignore angry musicians at your peril.

Easyjet – no frills airline easyjet is renown for two things. Cheap flights and crap service.


KFC – nearly half a million KFC fans campaigning to get finger lickin’ food delivered to your door. They’ve just got one more fan!kfc

Motrin – a spoof video in response to their controversial ad targeting Mums

Vodafone Zoozoo campaign gains cult following

This entertaining campaign by Vodafone was brought to my attention by Interactive Marketing Blog and is proving to be particularly popular in India by all accounts. It’s a series of ads created by Ogilvy & Mather (India) which aims to dramatise various service features including voicemail, cricket score alerts and musical greetings to name but a few. You can see a collection of the amusing clips here.

Some executions work better than others in conveying the service benefits but there’s no denying there’s an irresistable charm to these sketches and the rather alien-looking characters. It’s no wonder they’ve amassed a cult following already. As well as a YouTube channel which is now the second most subscribed channel in India, Vodafone have created the Zoozoo facebook fanpage which has attracted no less than 137k fans so far, generating a fair amount of engagement. You can view all the ads, vote for your favourite clips, download ringtones, screensavers or wallpapers and even partake in a quiz using their Zoozoo facebook app.

Vodafone Zoozoo facebook fanpage

Vodafone Zoozoo facebook fanpage

Is this a good example of using social media marketing to support the above the line? On the whole, a resounding yes. There’s no doubt that the social media elements of this campaign will help to build brand equity and affinity. Instead of passively watching the occasional ad on TV, consumers can now engage with the content, demonstrate their allegiance and actively voice their enthusiasm.

The two social media environments also help to aggregate content, making it easy for fans to engage with the whole campaign and consequently familiarise themselves with the wider range of product benefits. Furthermore, I’m sure the fanpage has attracted new followers through peer-to-peer recommendation who may not have otherwise come across the campaign.

However, despite its apparent popularity, the fanpage appears to be little more than a campaign showcase. For a fanpage to have longevity and remain truly active, the community really needs a reason to create content so that it builds momentum of its own accord and that’s what’s currently missing in my view. Whilst instant polls or asking viewers to talk about their favourite ad has its place, it’s hardly going to fuel discussions for the long term, let alone drive footfall to the Vodafone stores.

One way to make this fanpage work slightly harder would be to provide some additional info and advice around the actual features communicated within the ads. Whilst I admit it’s a fine line to tread, this campaign fanpage could helpt to educate the audience further on the various Vodafone service offerings being promoted in the campaign – perhaps in the form of discussion threads – provided it’s done tactfully and with a degree of restraint and humility.