Bonfires, Sid Meier, Ice Cube & The Wire

Yesterday I spoke at Measurement Camp, a multi-discipline working project which looks for people to share their thoughts and ideas about measuring social projects.

I said I’d share the deck, and I’ve gone through it today and made it better. 

It features Bonfires, fireworks, Ice Cube, The Wire & Sid Meier. 

I may try and do a version in future that includes even more rhyming things (U2’s ‘Desire’… a pair of pliers…)

Anyway, enjoy…


While I was away…

Well hello there.

I’ve been off, as you may know.  I’ve returned to 413 emails, and many more items to read in my RSS reader…

Did you know, by the way, that when you accumulate more than one thousand items in your Google reader it gives up telling you exactly how many things you’ve got to read, and just says ‘1000?+’… 



…it might as well say ‘more items than you’ll ever get through, idiot.’  Just because of that, I’m going to read every single one.

But until I get through all of those, I thought I’d just make a note of the things that are the first things I’ve got a sense of that went on…

i) Google W.A.V.E. = What A Vexing Exercise

There was obviously a huge hoopla around Google Wave’s release, and it seems that some folks out there would have (and maybe did) put their grannies on eBay for an invite…

…and on that, I’d like to thank Graham and Simon for both getting me one…

Now, I’ve not honestly had the chance to use it ‘in anger’ yet, as it were.  So I’m really only going on what a wide variety of other people have been saying…

By and large, the sense that I get is one of frustration, bemusement, annoyance… people are having a bit of a hard time coming to terms with what it is, what it can do, why it’s different etc.  Why?  Maybe two things contributed…

i) Lack of Patience – it was never going to be something that worked for everyone immediately, but maybe folk are just too used to finding ‘the next big thing’ online that you just ‘get’ in about 5 minutes.

ii) Crap Launch Strategy – dropping it in the laps of lots of people all at once isn’t helpful… instead of giving people invites to the equivalent of the first telephone (hello?  anyone there? HELLO..?), maybe it should have been an invite to a few folk join a wave that existed already…

However, everyone’s still talking about it, so maybe that was the goal… I’m going to try out some specific projects on it, and see how using it properly pans out. 

If you’re still unsure what it is, This video I found via Fiona will give you a simple overview…

ii) Foursquare comes to London

I’ve been quite excited about Foursquare for a while.  In their own words, Foursquare is “all about helping you find new ways to explore the city. We’ll help you meet up with your friends and let you earn points and unlock badges for discovering new places, doing new things and meeting new people.”



Basically, when you go to a bar/restaurant/coffee shop etc, you ‘check in’ using Foursquare.  You get points for checking in, and you can achieve different badges for checking in for all sorts of different reasons… see the list here. 

You can compete with your friends to earn points, get rare and better badges and so on.  So, on the face of it, it’s a fun local game you play with your friends…



All well and good, a simple GPS enabled game.  But where I think it gets interesting is that once they know where players are, what badges they earn, the points they collect and so on, they can serve them up special rewards and offers…



It’s this sort of thing that I think means Foursquare could have a big, big future… advertisers have spent years trying to think of different ways to encourage people to visit their shops, restaurants, venues.  This offers a way not only to find out how many people visit, but to create ways that encourage them to do so more often, and reward them for being the most frequent visitors too.  It certainly gives us an insight into how GPS might be used in future.

iii) IPA Social was… very social indeed

After spending six months working on the project, it was a bit of a shame to miss the event, but the IPA Social event on the 6th October went off very well indeed it seems… some quotes from a few things people posted afterwards…

“Every strategist and brand owner needs to understand social, and what role it should play in building their brand. A social strategy should be an integral part of a brand and comms strategy, and should sit across every discipline within an organisation – it can’t just be the responsibility of the social media manager. That’s not to say there isn’t a role for social specialists. Implementing a social strategy requires a robust understanding of how to behave in the social space, and experience in these craft skills counts for a lot. Specialist practitioners implement media planning and buying, advertising creation, packaging design, PR, POS, call centre operations, and pretty much every aspect of implementing a brand strategy you can think of. Social’s no different – specialist implementation is both valuable and necessary.”

Katy Lindemann

“It seems that the
term social media itself is counter productive – a fundamental change in how people are able to communicate with each other will naturally have knock-on effects to all businesses that deal with communications. But it will affect each differently. So ‘social media’ means something different to an ad agency than to a PR agency because it impacts what they have traditionally done in different ways. So the advice that clients get from their roster is that ‘social media’ means a range of different things.”

Graeme Wood

“In the future, I’d predict only seeing agencies getting involved in campaign activity, with the ongoing rumble of conversation being handled purely client-side. All it requires is an understanding of how to use the various platforms appropriately; no specialist skills are required to participate to the full. In the beginning, agencies will be needed to help out educating their clients on how to use the platforms with case studies and such, but that should be the extent of it.”

Barry Pace

So, what next for IPA Social?  Well, if you want to find out, and get ivolved, maybe you should join in the conversation here on the IPA Social facebook group



Meanwhile, I’ll get on with reading 1000+ articles… or maybe I’ll just hit ‘mark all as read’…  🙂


IPAsocial 03 – If advertising is a firework, social media is a bonfire

“Social Media is a conversation. That seems to be one thing that we can all agree on.

But given that Social Media is a rather noisy and opinionated conversation, what value do we think we will have by adding our voices to it?

We are not Social Media gurus. In face we are rather sceptical of people who claim they are. We are simply 10 people from across a wide range of communications disciplines in the UK and the US who would like to share some thoughts. Thoughts that have either been bugging us or inspiring us, thoughts that we believe could form some of the building blocks for successful Social campaigns. We came together to respond to and add our voices to some work that the IPA had done earlier in the year.

We have each defined a Principle which we feel is important in this Social world. You will find each principle up here but they are also on our individual blogs where we will be curating the conversation which we hope they will generate. Please do get involved, maybe you think these principles don’t apply, are there better ones? Are there changes that you would like to make? Are there examples that you could add to help illustrate them? The only thing that we ask is that as part of the advertising and communications community that you become part of the conversation. After all the more opinions that are being shared and built on, the more interesting and stronger the outcome. At least that’s what we are hoping.

Thank you in advance.

You’ll no doubt remember all the bonfires and fireworks posts from before… well, this is the project that it’s been for (which I’m delighted to be a part of)…

It’s well worth reading the brilliant summary of The Big Picture by Mark Earls first, and you can see the  list of all ten principles here.

As for the principle I’m babysitting, at the moment it’s as follows:

IPA social principle 03:  Continuous conversation, not campaigning

If advertising is a firework, social media is a bonfire; slow to start, collaborative to build, then gets bigger and brighter…

The traditional advertising approach to campaigning is like setting off fireworks. 

Great fireworks are attention grabbing beacons on steroids; they make crowds gasp in delight, and draw an audience from many miles around.  


Yet while advertising burns very brightly, it dies very quickly.  Fireworks are an expensive way to keep a crowd happy all night.

Social media isn’t like setting off a firework; it’s like building a bonfire.  


It takes time to start.  There’s careful initial construction, a gentle blow here and there, and the gradual addition of more wood.

Then a couple of other folk gather around.  Some of them will even help you build the fire; break some wood up, throw more on, poke around in the embers to make sure the fire doesn’t go out.  

As more people gather, and help the fire grow bigger, the more it will attract yet more people… with attention and dedication, as everyone fuels the bonfire it will only ever burn brighter.


A social bonfire isn’t something you can ‘campaign’.  It doesn’t fit snugly in four week bursts, it doesn’t come with a guaranteed reach & frequency, and it’s hard to know exactly what it’s going to cost from the outset.  

If you want to start a social bonfire, or want to help other people make their bonfires bigger, you’re going to have to commit some time, effort, ingenuity and resource. 

Because it’s not just about the bonfire; it’s about building it together.

“If you are going to engage, you have to have a plan and make sure that resources are available. Because you can’t gracefully exit – once you’re in, you’re in. The days of walking away from a campaign are over – once we engage, we have to commit to it.”

Denise Morrissey, Online Community Manager, Toyota



So, what’s next?

These ten principles are just a starting point; provokers of conversation, thought, ideas… an invitation to you (yes, YOU) to join in. 
Why?  Our aim with this project is to move the debate beyond simply the theoretical, and into the practical; examples of approaches that have worked, and which have not.  What does success look like?  What do you need to do first? 
We believe that by sharing information and case studies around ‘social communications’ we will all, from the largest agency to the nimblest freelancer, from the most traditional client to the youngest start-up, benefit from this open source of knowledge.
So please, join the debate below…

(NB: I may take a while to respond, given circumstances, but some of the other guys in the group are going to weigh in too…)


Social is as #ipasocial does

In the beginning, there was a report.

The report was hewn by the hands of the IPA.  It promised much.  It delivered a bit less.

There was a launch evening.  It was dark, cold and wet, for it was in January in London.


There was a presentation.  And there was a panel at the end.  And on that panel there was a Scottish fellow feeling increasingly uncomfortable as the evening progressed…

…because the report was on ‘Social Media’.  It sang the praises of social.  It claimed social would change the world.  The report would demand new thinking, new revenue models, new open approaches.

Yet it would also demand £75 per hard copy

And there was no electronic copy, no doubt because there was piracy, and sharing, and so on… things must be paid for, after all, not just shared willy nilly…

The social report was inherently unsocial.  Antisocial. 

Of course, there was an audience there too.  But it was a quiet one.  On the face of it, at least. 

A quiet audience in this day and age is no doubt quiet for one reason; they’re all talking about you.  On twitter.  There was silent, hidden uproar.


The event ended.  The audience left, to be social elsewhere no doubt; with friends, colleagues, families…

The report remained, antisocially sitting in a hypothetical cupboard somewhere.

The story could have ended there.

But then… some folk had a thought.  How do we make it social?  Or make a better version social.  Make something for people to share, spread, use, talk about, contribute to…

Those people, from across media, advertising, digital, communications, and the IPA itself, began to gather, mainly in coffee shops. 

They talked, thought, shared.  They began to build a social bonfire.  A metaphorical one, of course; coffee shops aren’t keen on bonfires.  They melt the frappuccinos.

They thought about two things;

i) what, really, is this whole social thing about, if you’re the IPA, agency or client?

ii) how do we create something based on this that’s actually social?

Then they began to write down ten principles…


…no, no, not COMMANDMENTS

PRINCIPLES; general things they believed to be true about this brave new social world.

The principles they started were as such…

1. People not consumers  –  Mark Earls

2. Social agenda not business agenda  –  Le’Nise Brothers

3. Continuous conversation not campaigning  –  John V Willshire

4. Long term impacts not quick fixes  –  Faris Yakob

5. Marketing with people not to people  –  Katy Lindemann

6. Being authentic not persuasive  –  Neil Perkin

7. Perpetual beta  –  Jamie Coomber

8. Technology changes, people don’t  –  Amelia Torode

9. Change will never be this slow again  –  Graeme Wood

10. Measurement  –  Asi Sharabi

…and now, they want your help.

Yes, you.

Next week, there will be a mass posting; each of people above will post their principle, and the initial thoughts around it, to their blogs.  Have a read, a think, and let them know what you think.

There will be one on here, linked to the others, and it’ll all be pulled together in the main IPA site too; open, social, and shared.

When the principles go up there will be debate, ideas, agreement, disagreement, revision and retraction… and you will be there, adding in interesting and provocative things to the mix.

There won’t be an easy, clean answer.  There won’t be instant harmony and dancing in the streets.

But there will be conversation, and collaboration, and it will be very social indeed…


Social Bonfires & Advertising Fireworks, pt III

The Social Bonfires & Advertising Fireworks discussions & continuations have set our little corner of the internet alight (yes, pun intended)…

…a quick recap if you’ve not seen:

It’s all helping improve and refine the analogy (which is great, as the IPA group I’m working with, for which this was originally started, meets tomorrow).

So from Daniel Goodall at Nokia, this fine build


“many people already have bonfires, and they usually want to build their own bonfires; you know, with their friends and that. They probably don’t want to come to your Corporate Bonfire.”

“…how can we help people with what they want to do at a bonfire?

1. Provide some stuff: some blankets to keep people warm, some snacks and drinks, maybe even provide some entertainment (a guitar?)

2. Go along to the bonfire and actually have a conversation or two (remember to be a good listener!)

3. Most importantly, of course, you could do something *genuinely useful* like put some extra wood on the bonfire to keep the damn thing going!”

(You’ll maybe remember that we’re big fans of being useful to people at PHD.)

Anyway, thanks Dan, great post and a hugely important point.

I shall report back on tomorrow’s meeting at the IPA with Mark, Le’Nise, Katy, Neil, Amelia, Graeme, Jamie, Nigel when I get a chance…


Yes, I know, part III in Hollywood Blockbusters is usually where things start going wrong… 

…Rocky III (Mr T?  WTF??). 

…Police Academy III (Zed’s now a Police cadet??  WTF???). 

…Return of the Jedi (Muppets?  WTF????).

Remember though, those Ewoks loved a bonfire…




Advertising Firework, Social Bonfire pt II

A couple of weeks ago I wrote this post on why if advertising was a firework, social media was a bonfire. 

A lot of people liked it (in PHD & beyond) and found it a really helpful way to think about, or explain to other people, the differences between the world of campaigning, mass media advertising, and the new social landscape.

So I’ve been improving it and have written this, so thought I’d share it here too…

(Thanks to Simon, David, Beth, Chris, Dan, Mat & Vijay for chipping in with excellent thoughts)