Is social media good? This is possibly one of the most interesting questions I've been asked in my consultants' capacity in recent times. Of course almost all media is now social, or has a social component. Take the BBC's Question Time? Sure, its live audience participation is social, but for the rest of us it's simply broadcast TV. But things have only got more interesting for the programme's fans as the Twitter backchannel has allowed us all to join the debate.

But is social media "good"?

I hadn't seen Stephen Waddington's post this week about the police effort to capture a killer-at-large in Northumberland when I was asked this question, but his description of "digital rubber necking" makes one pause for thought. For those unfamiliar with the phrase, rubber necking most often refers to those motorists who slow down to see some vehicular carnage, and it appears that Stephen isn't too enamoured of the social media equivalent. Indeed, I felt most uneasy reading that the killer's facebook page now has 17,000 members.

So, my answer?

Well, first up, I qualified that no such technological or societal movement can be entirely good or entirely bad, and perhaps we should focus on the net impact, accepting that regardless of the net outcome significant attention must be paid to any extreme negatives.

Whilst my response could take many forms and take up many volumes I focused on the rebalancing of power between corporate and consumer, and government and citizen. The size and power of corporates and governments towards the end of the 20th Century massively overwhelmed the consumer / citizen. It's not for nothing that the metaphor "little cog in a big wheel" occurred so frequently in 20th Century lexicon and social media facilitates a rebalancing of power here.

For the first time, consumers and citizens have been able to coalesce and join forces independent of geography or time or wealth or status, and share stories and opinions about the best and worst products and services, and their experiences with government, for-profits and non-profits.

This exerts a new force on these large organisations, an additional force in the process of Darwinian survival of the fittest. Governments and corporates have to respond else find their support at the ballot box or in the shops wither, and this hard light of accountability can only serve to kill the weaker organisations faster and drive the better ones to innovate and improve more quickly.

And from my point of view, that is overwhelmingly a net benefit, and the sooner we can bring the digitally-excluded into the fold the better.

Best regards, Philip and the MarCom Professional team.

Finding Your Rock Stars: Why a Community Outreach Program is Important

by Kari Rippetoe of Tuvel Communications

How do you use PR to reach your buyers? Do you issue press releases and pitch to your media list of journalists, hoping to get a write-up or some sort of media exposure? Or do you reach out directly to the people who are actively buying and evangelizing your products or services and influencing hundreds or thousands (hundreds of thousands, even) other buyers via blogs, forums, social networks, news sites, podcasts, and other consumer communities – your rock stars?

Let me ask you another question: More...

The 2010 World Cup Inspires Creativity in Social Media

by Brian Solis of PR 2.0

World Cup Fever is certainly a pandemic with champions spreading enthusiasm and passion around the world. It’s not only circulating from country to country and person to personal, World Cup Fever is also propagating through the social graphs of fans in social networks around the world.

On Twitter, for instance, it is because of the World Cup that a new Tweet record was established. On Thursday June 24th during the Japan vs. Denmark match, 3,282 Tweets flew across the stream every second beating the previous record by almost 200. More...

McKinsey: B2B customers prefer fewer, more meaningful interactions

by Walter Adamson of NewLeaseG2M

In the recent McKinsey article The basics of business-to-business sales success the  B2B customers surveyed said "they care most about product and price, but what they really want is a great sales experience".

And in particular they want sales reps with "adequate product knowledge" and "fewer, more meaningful interactions" (only 3 percent said they weren't contacted enough).

McKinsey goes on to say:

"Striking the right balance between contacting customers too much and too little requires understanding their stated and actual needs. More...

Are Your Ears Burning? In Social Networks, One-Third of Consumers Talk Brands Every Week

by Brian Solis of PR 2.0

Social media didn’t invent conversations, it provided us with tools to surface and organize them. Conversations about brands predates the mediums used to connect messages and aspirations with consumers.

The motivation for brands to engage in social networks varies based on the culture and agility of each company, but what is constant is the aspiration to connect with customers and prospects to earn awareness, attention and connections. On the other hand, B2B and B2C consumers have also expressed desire to connect with those brands whose intent is genuine and beneficial to the each engagement and the overall relationship. More...

Social Media Marketing: Lead with Talent, not Policies

by David H Deans of Digital Lifescapes

Who should lead our social media marketing activity? It's a question being asked frequently, but the answer can vary greatly from one organization to another. Initially, it's wise to focus on the skilled people within your qualified talent pool -- or, talent puddle, as the case may be -- rather than choosing a functional group.

Meaning, the possession of proven experience should be a key deciding factor in leader selection.

eMarketer reports that it's quickly becoming common wisdom among marketers that a meaningful strategy is required to apply social media tools effectively. More...

(Via comScore) The iPhone Reality in Europe: Low Overall Penetration, Enormous Impact

by Michael Litman of Dare Digital

comScore, Inc. (NASDAQ: SCOR), a leader in measuring the digital world, today outlined the impact the first three generations of Apple’s iPhone have had on the European mobile market, in light of record pre-sales and extraordinary consumer demand for the iPhone 4, which launches tomorrow. The iPhone currently represents just 4 percent of the EU5 (U.K., France, Germany, Spain, Italy) mobile market, but 18 percent of the overall EU5 smartphone market. However, the iPhone has facilitated fundamental change in mobile user behaviour and ignited fierce competition among device and operating system (OS) providers. More...

The number 1 question for lead generation

by Rebecca Caroe of Creative Agency Secrets

if you are part of a business development team trying to build new enquiries and new clients some of your time will be spent on lead generation. That’s starting conversations with new organisations who haven’t done work with your company before. But, unless you are very lucky, few will respond to your first approach or your first request for a meeting.

The reason is that in order to get that first meeting with a new prospect, you have to answer one question

Why should I invest my time to meet with you?

Put yourself into the shoes of your prospective marketing director – More...

Media monitoring beyond the paywall

by Stephen Waddington of Speed Communications

PR agencies and brands needing to see what has been written about them on national newspaper web sites face a quieter couple of months given the new News International paywall and The Financial Times (FT) digital archive. Content from News International titles has been withdrawn from media monitoring agencies and aggregator services and won’t be available until the launch of the Newspaper Licensing Authority’s (NLA) eClips platform, expected sometime in September.

NLA channel partners such as Cision, Durrants and Precise will provide their clients with News International content via the eClips platform as part of their monitoring services. More...

Earned media as a distinct form of media

by Walter Adamson of NewLeaseG2M

I'm a bit late to the party and wasn't really on top of exactly what "earned media" is - so I have to admit to dragging my heels. I'd read the Nielsen/Facebook report which showed that earned media significantly increased ad and brand awareness and intent to purchase. That was back in April.

Wikipedia gives a definition, although it is surprisingly sparse. And Brian Shin CEO of Invisible Measures gives a good account in "How 'Earned Media' is Providing Value to Brand Marketers" More...

One Web. Many social networks. Facebook's Achille's heel.

by Philip Sheldrake of Influence Crowd LLP

Facebook will die.

Bridging the gap between our online and offline social network

View more presentations from Paul Adams.

When it comes to asserting my regard for Facebook's prospects I feel a bit like the guys over at This website was set up by friends with a mutual interest in the UK property market in 2003 and, as the name of the site subtly betrays, they predicted a bit of a tumble in house prices. And of course they were proved right. Eventually!

But social networks aren't subject to the same dynamics as the 'irrational exuberance' More...

Reporting from Rothbury: social media goes feral

by Stephen Waddington of Speed Communications

Two years ago my family moved from Ealing, London, to a tiny village in Northumberland on the edge of Rothbury. I continue to work in London and travel back and forth splitting my time between the two locations. It’s a hellish commute but the benefits of raising a young family in a tranquil rural location with a strong community and extended family nearby are immeasurable.

But since Tuesday that tranquillity has been destroyed and Rothbury has become the focus of a massive media story as the police search for Raoul Moat. More...