Archive › October, 2011

Complete a survey on corporate social media challenges

Buoyed by the early findings from our social agility self-assessment questionnaire, we’re now working on turning this into a detailed research report on the internal and external challenges organisations are facing from social media. It will look at how organisations of different sizes and in different sectors and geographies think they are doing against different challenges, and how important these are.

You can contribute to the research by taking this survey. At the end, you can request to see your own report, benchmarking your organisation against others, and can sign up to have the report emailed to you when it goes live.

At the heart of this research is understanding the importance that organisations place on key contributors towards becoming ‘socially advanced’, and how well different types of companies and markets are performing against these. We feel that it’s critical for anyone responsible for social media initiatives in their organisation to know that they are doing the most important things well, but equally there is little point spending time on effort on things that aren’t important, as this could be better directed elsewhere.

This is where we need your help. In order to survey and benchmark the importance and performance of socially advanced organisations, we need to know how and what you think. We are interested in all different points of view, but especially want to hear from corporate social strategists and senior marketing and communications executives in medium to large companies across the globe.

You can take the survey here – it consist of just 5 questions that should take no more than 10-15 minutes.

And please spread the word too. We’d like as broad a participation as possible across different organisation sizes, sectors and geographies in order for it to be relevant and valuable to as many of you as possible.

Thanks in advance.

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Does change have to come from the top?

I’ve been reviewing the literature on change management recently for a client and Kotter still rules. His seminal 1996 book, Leading Change, and its eight-step framework is still the textbook – and it’s a fundamental amongst the change management specialists I know that, as he suggests, ‘change must come from the top’.

But is the same true for improving organisations’ social media profile and performance?

At one level, it depends whether you consider an effective response to the increasing ubiquity of social media and social networks to be a strategic issue, one requiring genuine organisational change. If you don’t, then look away now… you’re on the wrong blog.

But how to implement? While refreshing my acquaintance with Kotter, I came across two relevant connections, one from Forrester and the other via a LinkedIn discussion.

The role of the CMO

The Forrester connection (kindly flagged by my friend Marylee Sachs, author of The Changing MO of the CMO) is a July 2011 report by Chris Stutzman and colleagues for CMOs and marketing professionals. The title, Become Social, is a bit of a giveaway as to their viewpoint. The summary states:

CMOs indicate that, in the age of the customer, collaboration and influence through social networking will have the biggest impact on their organizations in the next three to five years. However, only 16% of CMOs think that it’s necessary to become proficient at social media themselves to be successful leaders.

The report goes on to say that successful CMOs use social media to:

  • inspire employees by practising what they preach;
  • sustain momentum and communications with all of their employees;
  • recruit hard-to-find talent.

Start small or top down?

The LinkedIn connection came in a discussion started recently by Kirsten Hodgson of KScope Marketing in New Zealand on whether law firms should ‘start small and grow from there or take a top down approach’. I don’t think this question applies just to law firms. It applies to all firms that consider themselves novices (the majority according to the early findings from our own survey).

Much will depend on whether, given the nature/culture of the firm, a ‘stealth’ change strategy will work or a ‘big bang’ is better. In most firms it’s probably smart to start small with willing adopters. But if any trial (central/corporate, single brand, multi-brand, or combo) is to succeed, it must also have some blessing – at least – from above, and a wider business objective, or the experiment may just be seen as a waste of time.

However, if only 1 in 6 CMOs really get hands on, as Forrester suggests, what is the figure for CEOs? And if that is the reality, change cannot be dependent on all of them becoming active social media practitioners.

 Making a start

For those seeking to make a start, three important questions keep cropping up:

1. how to find and empower individuals in the business who combine keenness to participate in social media with something valuable to say…;
2. how to define what constitutes a successful trial; and
3. how can senior management  facilitate change even if they don’t want to be hands-on personally?

Everyone will have their own view on these but here’s my take.

1. Most businesses have enough people who are social-savvy and can contribute something valuable. They are probably already active privately anyway. But not so many businesses have decided what they want from social marketing so these people are left undiscovered, directionless , maybe even fearful, when it comes to participating on behalf of their company. They need to be empowered, recognised, maybe trained and almost certainly led. It has be part of the job spec.

2. You may get a trial going but it will not lead to real change unless it can be seen, even by sceptics, to have been worth the time spent on it. What’s the objective and how will this help the organisation? It’s an obvious point but just getting stuck in without a clear purpose probably is a waste of time and you will lay yourself open to justifiable criticism. Defining your ‘return on social’ before you start is important.

3. Even though some purists will disagree, I’m not personally convinced that every CEO needs to be active on Twitter or every CMO a Facebook fan to ensure the organisation can become socially agile. It would be nice if they did engage to some degree and if they do it must be personal – nothing is sadder than the CEO blog so obviously written by his PA or a marketing junior. They do need to immerse themselves sufficiently to really understand what’s going on and the potential for their business – and ideally do some ongoing and active listening. And, for sure the CEO and his whole C-suite must treat transformation as a strategic issue and show themselves supportive of the process and its champions.

Change must come from the top but if we wait for all CEOs and CMOs to commit to becoming social adepts before anything happens, ‘social’ change will be a long time a-coming.

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You don’t think you’re very social, do you?

Most respondents don’t rate their companies very highly, according to early indications from our self-assessment survey, How Social Are You? More than half think they are social media ‘innocents’ and less than a quarter consider themselves ‘advanced’.

There is a high degree of consistency on what is important to achieving competitive advantage through an organisation’s use of social media:

  • understanding the impact of social media on marketing activity and Supporting/reflecting brand personality (for both 89% agree or strongly agree);
  • being aware of what’s being said and being able to change in response to the challenges/opportunities (86% agreed or strongly agreed to both);
  • being willing to respond and being willing to engage with what is being said, as well as creating and communicating clear policies for staff (all 82.5%)

However, there’s a big mismatch between what is thought important and how good people think their organisations are.

% agreeing or strongly agreeing that it’s important % rating themselves 6/10 or higher Delta between agreement and rating
Having clear metrics to measure the impact of social media 81.0% 19.4% 61.6%
Creating and communicating clear policies and guidelines to staff concerning their use of social media 82.5% 35.0% 47.5%
Achieving the best possible return on investment from social media 73.0% 28.3% 44.7%
Ensuring that use of social media supports/reflects the personality of the brand 88.9% 49.0% 39.9%
Being able to change in response to social media challenges/opportunities 85.7% 45.9% 39.8%


These are only early indications based on a small sample but anecdotally, fits well with what we have seen and heard from companies. What about you?

The survey continues to run, so if you are involved in social media on behalf on your organisation and have not yet completed it, please do so (it will only take 10 minutes). The more data, the better for all.

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UK University Twitter Rankings: w/c 24 October 2011

It’s time to update the only university league tables that anyone really cares about – our UK University Twitter Rankings. As always, we’re looking only at the primary Twitter accounts of the leading UK universities in the Russell and 1994 Groups (see our original post for the limitations of this approach, and why this is really a bit of informative fun).

Not much change at the very top and very bottom, with Oxford University and The University of York holding on to their top spots, whilst the Institute of Education, Newcastle University and The University of Manchester still languish at the bottom. Maybe the latter could do with a bit of Professor Brian Cox’s magic space dust…

The biggest climber in the last fortnight has been Lancaster University (up a whopping 10 places). Our prediction last time that The University of East Anglia would find themselves in the top 10 proved to be true; they climbed 6 places, as did University of Leicester.

The biggest faller has been Cardiff University, dropping a full third of the table in two weeks. What did they do wrong?

University Account PeerIndex Klout Combined
1 = Oxford University @uniofoxford 57 56 113
2 = University of York @uniofyork 61 49 110
3 +1 Cambridge University @cambridge_uni 50 56 106
-1 University College London @uclnews 52 54 106
5 +6 University of East Anglia @uniofeastanglia 43 59 102
+5 Edinburgh University @uniofedinburgh 46 56 102
7 +1 Warwick University @warwickuni 46 54 100
-2 University of Leeds @universityleeds 47 53 100
9 -1 Glasgow University @glasgowuni 43 56 99
-3 University of Bath @uniofbath 46 53 99
11 +1 University of Exeter @uniofexeter 45 52 97
-5 Sheffield University @sheffielduni 42 55 97
13 +1 Nottingham University @uniofnottingham 38 56 94
+1 University of Birmingham @unibirmingham 37 57 94
15 +10 Lancaster University @lancasteruni 42 50 92
16 -2 Imperial College London @imperialcollege 39 52 91
17 +1 Kings College London @kingscollegelon 38 52 90
+1 University of Sussex @sussexuni 35 55 90
19 +3 University of St Andrews @univofstandrews 41 47 88
+3 Goldsmiths College London @goldsmithsuol 39 49 88
-5 Queen Mary University London @qmul 36 52 88
22 -1 University of Essex @uni_of_essex 36 50 86
23 +6 University of Leicester @uniofleicsnews 37 48 85
24 = University of Southampton @southamptonnews 40 44 84
-6 University of Liverpool @livuni 31 53 84
26 -13 Cardiff University @cardiffuni 30 51 81
27 -1 London School of Economics @lsenews 29 50 79
28 = School of Oriental and African Studies London @soasnewsroom 33 45 78
-1 University of Surrey @uniofsurrey 28 50 78
30 +5 Royal Holloway London @royalholloway 30 44 74
31 -2 Bristol University @bristoluni 20 51 71
32 +3 Durham University @durham_uni 20 48 68
33 -1 Birkbeck College London @birkbecknews 14 45 59
-1 Queen’s University Belfast @queensubelfast 13 46 59
35 -3 University of Reading @unirdg_news 11 47 58
36 -5 Loughborough University @lborouniversity 12 45 57
37 = Institute of Education London @ioe_london 9 42 51
38 = University of Manchester @admissionsuom 7 37 44
39 = Newcastle University @newunipress 7 36 43


As always, if you represent any of these institutions and have any questions or comments about the rankings, please leave a comment or drop me an email at [email protected].

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Individual, practice or corporate – who is the true voice of professional service firms?

In an interesting post this week Kirsten Hodgson asks: should legal and other professional services firms have individual, practice or firm Twitter accounts? It’s a great question. It is a challenge affecting all legal firms who get involved with social media, not just Twitter but Facebook et al. Who really represents the brand – who is the true voice?

The question is not a new one – the Internet simply amplifies it. The reality is that , for professional services firms, internal (mainly structural) expressions of what they are about are seldom in synch with the way they are perceived.

Most clients care most about the people and performance related to their own need … not all the other departments, practices and offices. Yet multi-service firms are predicated on at least an element of new business through cross-referral and one-stop shopping.

But it is not necessarily ‘either/or’. It is quite possible for an individual practice to have a high profile in social media, perhaps focussed on their specific issues, and at the same time for the overall brand to have one too but focussed on more general issue and highlighting, cross-referencing and linking the different practice areas. Indeed, would it not seem odd to do anything else?

The devil as usual is in the detail – sensible guidelines, proper training,effective sharing of social media best practice, the right tone and degree of engagement and a balance that genuinely reflects the firm concerned. That’s the hard part.

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UK University Twitter Rankings: w/c 10 October

It’s a couple of weeks now since our inaugural UK University Twitter Rankings and, as both PeerIndex and Klout seem to have updated most of their scores, it’s time for the first one showing how things have changed.

As before, we’re looking only at the primary Twitter accounts of the leading UK universities in the Russell and 1994 Groups. The biggest climbers have been The University of East Anglia (up 6 places), Imperial College London (up 5) and University of Birmingham (up 8). One assumes that on the next PeerIndex update, UEA may find itself in the top 10.

Those paying the biggest price are the University of Southampton (down 5 places to 24th) and the University of St Andrews (falling a massive 10 places from 12th to joint 22nd).

University Twitter PeerIndex Klout Combined
1 = Oxford University @uniofoxford 60 55 115
2 = University College London @uclnews 57 52 109
+1 University of York @uniofyork 61 48 109
4 -1 Cambridge University @cambridge_uni 53 55 108
5 +1 University of Leeds @universityleeds 51 55 106
6 -1 University of Bath @uniofbath 50 54 104
+2 Sheffield University @sheffielduni 47 57 104
8 -2 Warwick University @warwickuni 49 53 102
+1 Glasgow University @glasgowuni 44 58 102
10 = Edinburgh University @uniofedinburgh 44 55 99
11 +6 University of East Anglia @uniofeastanglia 36 59 95
12 +1 University of Exeter @uniofexeter 41 53 94
13 -2 Cardiff University @cardiffuni 40 53 93
14 -1 Nottingham University @uniofnottingham 38 54 92
+1 Queen Mary University London @qmul 37 55 92
+5 Imperial College London @imperialcollege 41 51 92
+8 University of Birmingham @unibirmingham 33 59 92
18 -3 University of Liverpool @livuni 35 55 90
-1 Kings College London @kingscollegelon 39 51 90
+3 University of Sussex @sussexuni 35 55 90
21 +1 University of Essex @uni_of_essex 38 51 89
22 -10 University of St Andrews @univofstandrews 40 48 88
+4 Goldsmiths College London @goldsmithsuol 40 48 88
24 -5 University of Southampton @southamptonnews 41 46 87
25 -3 Lancaster University @lancasteruni 32 51 83
26 -1 London School of Economics @lsenews 30 50 80
27 = University of Surrey @uniofsurrey 27 52 79
28 -1 School of Oriental and African Studies London @soasnewsroom 32 46 78
29 = Bristol University @bristoluni 20 51 71
+1 University of Leicester @uniofleicsnews 24 47 71
31 +1 Loughborough University @lborouniversity 12 48 60
32 -2 Birkbeck College London @birkbecknews 14 44 58
= Queen’s University Belfast @queensubelfast 12 46 58
+2 University of Reading @unirdg_news 12 46 58
35 -1 Durham University @durham_uni 11 46 57
+1 Royal Holloway London @royalholloway 11 46 57
37 = Institute of Education London @ioe_london 9 40 49
38 +1 University of Manchester @admissionsuom 7 33 40
39 -1 Newcastle University @newunipress 7 32 39


As always, if you represent any of these institutions and have any questions or comments about the rankings, please leave a comment or drop me an email at [email protected].

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