Jamie Oliver: Britain’s best marketing case study?

Jame Oliver by Vic on Flickr (CC licence)

Jame Oliver by Vic on Flickr (CC licence)

As I’ve said before, I don’t watch much broadcast television these days, but I made an effort to catch Jamie’s Ministry of Food after seeing some of the trailers and the fact it was flagged by Mark Earls.

And I’m glad I did, because it’s probably the first time the principles of community marketing (See also Word of Mouth marketing etc), have been played out on national television! If you’ve been looking for an effective case study, this is definitely one to watch.

The premise is simple. To try and get the people of Rotherham to start cooking helthy food rather than living on takeaways. But rather than an advertising campaign, the plan was to teach 8 people how to cook on the understanding they’d pass the recipes to 2 more people. And in 15 steps, they’d reach the 260,000 population of Rotherham.

As Mark says, it’s a template for HERD marketing:

1. focus on what you can do not what you can say
2. …on what you can give folk out there to do…
3. …that they can do with each other
4. …oh, and make it highly visible and oh, yes fun

But there’s even more that I picked up on. One of the things Jamie started by saying was that he had to listen to start with. Sound familiar?

He also picked a woman who had undermined his School Dinners campaign by taking chip shop orders through the school fence, and picked her out as a key influencer . Time will tell whether he picked the right influencer!

And he’s already worrying about the speed and scalability of the approach (Shel Isreal on scalability). He can see the positive effect he’s had on the 8 people he’s engaged, and the fact they’ve already ahd improvements to the way they live and act. But he’s got three months to transform a whole town. Sounds like the dilemma of showing a Return on Investment!

And finally there’s the fact he’s attempting to do something positive with this approach. Something that various people within the social media wrld have worried isn’t happening because most people are aiming for fame within the media/marketing/online sphere – and outside of it, things aren’t being affected by the new ways of marketing, communicating and conversing. (I’m struggling to find the appropriate link right now, so will add it later!)

If nothing else, it prompted me to exorcise some blog guilt. I’ve been tackling reports, budgets and plans, and I’m up to my neck in data and Excel spreadsheets, hence the slight lack of posts. But hopefully things should be more consistent again now.

Using Twitter in a live setting.

Apologies for a slight lack of posting due to other commitments. But on the bright side, there’s a good post on Event Manager Blog about ‘How to embed twitter in your event’

Admittedly it’s written by someone who was going to be my original collaborator here, but didn’t have time to blog, or write about Twitter! But we’ll forgive him for making a practical guide to starting to use microblogging tools for more…

Do job titles matter any more?

This really is an open question, because I understand that outside my network, and even within it, my job title can influence how I’m perceived. And within large companies there can be a need for infrastructure.

Do titles matter?

Do job titles matter any more? (Pic: Russell Davies on Flickr)

But at the same time, in my formal paid career I’ve been a: Freelance writer, Editorial Assistant, Reporter, Products Editor, Web Producer, Webcast Presenter, Community Marketing Manager. In my informal career I’ve been a: Freelance Journalist, Contributor, Writer, DJ, Blogger, Publisher, Editor.

Does my role as Editor for an online magazine with a small readership mean more on face value than Web Producer on the leading title within a global marketplace? What about the period as Web Producer that I essentially ran the site, compared to the times as Editor when I was pretty much absent?

You could actually sum up all those roles in two lines:

  • I create content: text, audio, video.
  • I distribute content, mainly socially, but with some knowledge of SEO and traditional marketing.

But then you have the other things I contribute. I’m hugely interested in not only looking at emerging technology, but spreading that knowledge throughout my network, and spotting where there are opportunities to use it within whichever company I’m working for. And I seem to have developed an enjoyment and small skill at building networks of people who are incredibly knowledgeable and talented in various areas related to my work and interests.

  • Maven/Connector (Not keen on those terms, but two words for four lines!)

So how much do any of those titles on my CV matter then three lines, links to my work, and knowledge of me via my network can tell you a lot more? Does Community Marketing Manager (Strategy,Technology,Tactics across 9 brands) get confused with the now more common term of Community Manager (focused on managing one community)

So does someone’s title affect the way you look at them? Do they still have a place in small companies, or in larger infrastructures? Or is this a time when structures like Gore (makers of Gore-Tex etc) make sense? From the link:

‘There are no traditional organizational charts, no chains of command, nor predetermined channels of communication.

Instead, we communicate directly with each other and are accountable to fellow members of our multi-disciplined teams. We encourage hands-on innovation, involving those closest to a project in decision making. Teams organize around opportunities and leaders emerge. This unique kind of corporate structure has proven to be a significant contributor to associate satisfaction and retention.

Associates (not employees) are hired for general work areas. With the guidance of their sponsors (not bosses) and a growing understanding of opportunities and team objectives, associates commit to projects that match their skills. All of this takes place in an environment that combines freedom with cooperation and autonomy with synergy.”

Is that what all companies should be modeling themselves on?

A Twitter round-up….

Forgive the round-up format, but sometimes there just isn’t enough time in the day!

  • Al Gore is coming to Twitter (Mashable). Whether or not you want Al Gore microblogging, more prominent figures means more mainstream coverage and members. Which increases the reach and opportunities in microblogging, even as it might dilute some of the things that initially appealed.
  • Twestival write-up (TechcrunchUK). Sadly, and despite some farily strong persuasion by one of the organisers, I couldn’t make Twestival, the London Twitter meet to be social for charity. But by all accounts it was a huge success (I will definitely make the next one). Mike Butcher’s write-up and comparison with another event the previous night highlights why it was so good. The Twitter account for the event appears to be dormant now, but I’m guessing the website might remain active for the possibility of another one.
  • Social Actions + Twitter mash-up (Mashable). Are auto-tweets bearable if they’re in a good cause? Pick the cause which resonates with you from a drop down list, and the system will auto-tweet once a day on your behalf to all the postings on that cause.
  • The U.S Senate can officially resume Tweeting: (Venturebeat).  A new protocol rule change means members of the U.S. Senate can now share with the public more easily via public websites, including microblogs. There are some rules about disclosure, and what data politicians can collect about users of their own websites.
  • Executive Twittering: Blogging without the time suck: (Pistachio). Businessweek profiled 10 CEOs who Twitter, and Laura Fitton goes on to explain why it can be such a benefit.
  • How did personal video eclipse entertainment video (Chris Brogan). Interesting piece looking at the rise of personal video, and related tools like Seesmic and 12seconds.tv

That should keep everyone going for a bit…

Worth repeating?

Writing about how the election coverage on Twitter and C-Span points to the future of media coverage, I came up with a little gem that I thought might be worth repeating for any of you who don’t crossover to my microblogging blog, 140char.com:

‘aggregation of sources of information provides a starting point for a media company to add its own expertise and reason to provide something of value.‘

That’s it really. A mainstream media source can’t just aggregate content. Anyone can do that and the winners are decided by those who obtain a reasonable community and audience. And there’s already plenty of people out there, from Yahoo Buzz to Digg, to Mixx, to Sphinn, to microblogging.com.

But by aggregating and adding interpretation, it not only creates dynamic changing content, but actually opens up and highlights the expertise that a good journalist can bring on top of raw information. One of the mistakes we’ve continued to make in mainstream media is to underplay how good many journalists are at going beyond raw data, and the myraid ways in which they add value to it.

I’ve long believed it, but not managed to sum it up quite so succinctly before. And it’s not a new idea for plenty of notable people, e.g. Scott Karp, Jay Rosen, Pat Thornton (still no relation!), Howard Owens, Jeff Jarvis, David Cushman. And there are many, many more people I could name, and I’m sure that’s just a small proportion of a collective wisdom which suggests numbers and expertise big enough to hopefully break out of the social media echo chamber. And we can see it with the adoption in growing ways by a small number of titles (I mentioned the LA Times and The Guardian, here). Now we’re adding C-Span to the list.

Seeing as it’s Friday afternoon

And as a cat owner who converted from only ever wanted dogs as a pet, I couldn’t help myself from sharing this before I leave work.

The Twitter election and a glimpse of the future

As an Englishman (albeit one with a degree in American Studies), I’ve followed the U.S presidential nominations with a fairly casual interest, and with a slight leaning towards one candidate, but not enough that I’m going to talk about it.

Instead, I’m going to proclaim this the ‘Twitter Election’, and the sign of how news and reporting is changing for the better. First up is Twitter’s own Election 2008. It’s fascinating to watch the opinions and messages appearing every second, although the fact that it seems to be based around the keywords of candidates names means I’m tempted to tweet about McCain oven chips and see if it appears!

What’s interesting is how public service broadcaster C-Span has integrated Twitter, Blog coverage, Video, a Debate timeline and a keyword list into the ‘Debate Hub‘. It’s a great example of how ‘aggregation of sources of information provides a starting point for a media company to add it’s own expertise and reason to provide something of value.‘ Sorry, thought that sentence was worth highlighting, although other people have been saying the same thing for a while.

I’ve talked in the past about Twitter providing a news mechanism that trumps mainstream media for events like earthquakes. And I’ve taken a look at what mainstream media needed to do to utilise the new tools available or become increasing irrelevant.

But events like the death of Heath Ledger, or the various earthquakes around the world had a much more striking effect for those that were on Twitter at the time than for the majority of non-microbloggers waking up hours later and being perfectly happy with the coverage they were broadcast – because they weren’t up at 2am to witness how radically different it could be.

This time, it’s an event which has been flagged up in advance, allowing the word to spread – and it’s increasingly being adopted by various mainstream media sources to a greater or lesser extent, allowing far more people to see the benefits of microblogging over traditional coverage.

And I predict we’ll see more and more of this in the coming months, even with controversies like the decision from an U.S. newspaper and website to Twitter live from a child’s funeral. Whether or not it was the correct way to treat that particular situation at the current time, it’s a sign that the boundaries are shifting, and going past simply acknowledging Twitter coverage. And for microblogging to hit the mainstream, the boundaries need to be a long way further down the road than the mass adopters.

I think it’s also the reason for Twitter moving towards grouping, as much as for users. It’s why I was interested in the previously posted quote by Ev Williams, saying that groups are coming. I don’t think it’s necessarily about just Twitter for enterprise as an inward facing tool. I think in Twitter’s case it will also be about groups and tools for outward facing use by companies, which is why they’ve been seemingly slow to respond to Yammer, Present.ly etc.

It’s about raising routes to monetise from enterprise, but also providing the tools to grow the userbase to drive significant revenue. Facebook does OK at 100 million active users per month – Twitter has about 2.5 million registered used. And that mainstream exposure could be the push it needs.

Losing reasons to watch television…

I’ve previously blogged about how you can watch PayPerView TV via streaming sites without having to download any software, or fiddling about with P2P software and accidentally making your bank account details available.

But my time watching broadcast TV has shrunk to nothing. It seems I’m discovering new shows every week which are actually relevant and interesting for me, rather than being the ‘least worst’ of what the channels are broadcasting. Plus the Freeview reception where I live is worse than waiting for an online video to buffer!

Suddenly I’m discovering more and more ‘quality’ content on Youtube. (And I share any good Tech stuff, here)

And it makes my life much, much easier. Take the example of BBC tech show Click, which is mainly shown at 04.30 on a Sunday. Since I now have a baby son, I’ve actually caught the show at 06.45 on a Saturday – but it’s a short version. Presumably because of the 7am rush to see generic news. Online, I can watch the full version any time I bally well like.

Between Youtube, BBC’s iPLayer, and the likes of Qik, is there much of a point to broadcast television? And if you’re about to blame the BBC for being the most popular old media convert to aid the decline – my guess is they’re the best placed to survive successfully for a variety of reasons (including the TV licence fee in the UK), but mainly because they’ve done the best job of making their content available.

And that’s before we look at the likes of Joost, Hulu, Vimeo, etc. Let alone Seesmic and 12seconds.tv. Or Ustream. Or justin.tv.

It’s why I’m glad my broadband account with Zen Broadband actually has a sensible data limit even if it’s the same speed and slightly more expensive than rivals (the customer service is also ace – can I get a discount now?). And one cable to connect my laptop to my HD TV means broadcast TV really is in trouble. A percentage of geeks already spend their entire entertainment time in front of a laptop for text, music and video. Make that work on a 32″ widescreen TV and suddenly it’s a lot more mainstream.

Twitter to provide for internal company use….

A really useful article by Laura Fitton (@pistachio) on Mashable comparing 15 microblogging tools for enterprises also reveals an important and interesting quote on Twitter from Ev Williams. ( Laura has kindly clarified in the comments that she referenced the list of tools maintained by Jeremiah Owyang)

‘Private networks that do private or company-internal sharing via Twitter are on the horizon,’

This is big news considering the size of Twitter relative to all other microblogging platforms. I’d suggest their advantage is to create the private areas within the larger Twittersphere, as one of the problems of tools such as Yammer is that for normal businesses (i.e. non early-adopter tech firms), there simply isn’t critical mass.

Allow early adopters to connect within a company, and frame that within the larger Twittersphere, and it keeps the interest up while allowing the company users to grow.

(Then again, if it’s coming at the same speed as restoring IM functionality etc, it may be some way off!)

What would YOU like from this site

Well, 140char.com has been running for a while now. We’ve had some great articles written by various people, some interviews with some very interesting people, and some nice comments and links from other sites and people.

But I want to keep 140char evolving, and you’re the best people to give me advice on what we should be doing next!

We’ve already got some things underway, including some new contributors, and some new interview subjects. But what are you looking to read? News on the latest Twitter apps? Examples of businesses using microblogging, or how to monetise your microblogging account?

Are there pages we should add on new topics, or any that you think are utterly pointless?

And what do you think of the overall design?

Please do leave a comment below, whether it’s positive, negative or even expressing indifference! You’re allowed to go over 140characters this time!