Stay hungry. Stay foolish

If you haven’t read Steve Jobs’ biography by Walter Isaacson, I highly recommend the book to anyone wanting to understand the digital ear in which we live.. Whether you are an Apple fanatic or not,

I think everyone would agree that he was a one of a kind perfectionist and visionary. I am totally appreciative of the man, his business achievements and his impact on consumer technology. However lunatic or hero? I can’t quite decide. Please help me form an opinion…

For those who haven’t read the book, this speech (Stanford commencement speech 2005) is a good summary of his life & business philosophy… highly inspiring

Stay Hungry, stay foolish



Social marketing advice for small business

Here are some of thoughts for small business owners who are looking at social media like the next gold rush that could turn their activity into a multi million dollar companies…

Website or blog?



If your website is going to be a “brochure on the web” with static content, then I say: Go for the blog.

A blog can look as professional as a website (can be customized, directed to a domain name…) and has a lot more benefits than only displaying your services contact details. Because constantly updated a blog will (should) help you appear on higher positions in organic search results. Posts about your products, activity and point of view about your industry are much more interesting and differentiating than a list of services. And finally, by giving your opinion you will build personality and familiarity for your company.

Get over it, blogging platforms are very user friendly. If you are looking at setting up an account I would recommend: Bloggerwordpressposterous

How can I produce enough content?
My advice here is: consistency and authenticity.
Very simple, don’t launch into a social strategy if you don’t know what you want to say or if you can’t sustain it.
Define a perimeter for what you want to talk about and make time in your diary to produce and publish content.
It doesn’t have to be complicated: expand on your products, experience, partners; production ethics…
Get your partners (why not clients) on board to diversify your sources of content. Be interactive: mix your words with images and video (carry a digital camera or video recorder to capture interesting moments and you are done!).

Also think that you are trying to get a reaction from your readers (comments, pass along etc), so engage them, don’t go for your sales pitch, be snappy and to the point, and always, always, tell the truth!

Test various topics and publication times to benchmark what works best for you.

How do I get people to my blog?




That is where we get to the heart of leveraging social networking.
Once you have a good base of engaging content, set up your own social channels: depending on who your audience is, look at a Facebook page- Twitter account- LinkedIn profile or group, YouTube user channel, Flickr account.

To start growing your community you will need to reach out to your primary circle of connections to follow/like your pages. With quality and consumer centric content, your snowball effect should start right here! Remember that the primary reason for users to like a page is because they haveseen in their friend’s feed. On Facebook for example, a like or a comment from one user can be seen by an average of 130 of their friends!

 Use technology to spread your content: Link your accounts to social dashboards such as tweetdeck or hootsuite. They are free and enable you to post content to several destinations, schedule publication, measure feedback, go mobile, get alerts… invest a bit of time to try them out; it will pay back in the long run!

It is also very important that you participate in the community: Identify who are the other players in your field and participate in their conversations. Comment on blogs and forums. You need to build your authority around the topics covered on your blog.

And finally to harvest the full benefits of blogging, you must build a strong linking policy! The more links pointing to and from your content the more visible your blog will be. It is therefore extremely important that you nurture your link building. Once again, leverage partners, suppliers, contributors, staff, friends…

This post is directly inspired by conversations with entrepreneurs leading “Le petit producteur”, “Cate’s cooking creations”, “Bags with a story”, “Mizuno Europe”… who all see a fantastic potential from social media for their business but question how to go about it. I hope my advice clarify some of your questions.

Get in touch for some more tips!

Marie Sornin

 Inspiration credits to:

Bags with a Story: Hats down to Ariane, a self taught blogger, entrepreneur and aspiring bag maker
187com: Congrats to Elodie who is embracing the change that social media has brought to her occupation and services her clients way beyond PR expertise!
Le petit producteur: Inspiration award to Babeth, and her guts for turning a clever idea into a growing player in the French food retail industry
Cate’s cooking creation: Good luck to Cate who is building an online community to support her Thermomix sales


What are the three words that will guarantee social media success?

Surely, you will agree with me when I say that social media is a mini revolution in the way people use the Internet. Actually, I feel more accurate in saying a “mega evolution”. In this field marketers can’t assume that users will engage with their brands thanks to high awareness or because they are launching a promotion. Power to the users is more relevant than ever before and this is what makes social media such a complex discipline to master.

Once you’re in, your audience will get in the game (you might not be sure how but they will!). You must lead this game by pushing users to create positive feedback through engagement/ endorsement/ advocacy and eventually purchase intent.
OK pretty obvious, but how? Of course, training, strategic thinking, pro activity and reactivity are all actions that you will need but what is the magic factor that will make it happen?
To me, without a doubt success in social media is linked to three simple words: utility/ value/ entertainment

There are a lot of great campaign examples, such as Burger King Whooper Sacrifice, Tourism Queensland Best Job in the world, Virgin LA-4321, Old Spice, Cannon EOS Photo chain, Best Buys Twelpforce, Ikea Facebook catalogue, Gap Groupon promotion, etc…
Look no further, one way or another all those campaigns are based on one or more of these three magic words! The marketers at the origin of those activations brought to life a strong element of utility and/or value and/or entertainment. On top of that, they have leveraged the fundamentals of social media by letting people own their campaigns.

Firstly, they perfectly analyzed and understood their audience’s social media usage. Accurate insight is the very basic requirement for building engagement. You must know what users do in order to infiltrate and add, improve or influence their behaviors.
They were also ahead of the curve and came up with unique and ground breaking ideas. This is a must in social media: average doesn’t take off.
Finally, because they believed in the power of their strategies, they went ahead without compromising and focused their efforts and resources in developing best in class executions. Unfortunately, diminishing initial creative ideas is a mistake that still happens too often due to the difficulties in evaluating return on investment in social media.

Over the last couple of years a handful of campaigns stood out for me. I have briefly summarized some of them below. As you will see the results and awards speak for themselves.


Burger King Whooper Sacrifice


– The insight: the majority of your social network connections do not belong to your close circle of friends and family. Only 9% of your Facebook connections are friends you would call to go out for a beer. This percentage goes down to 3% on Linkedin and 0.3% on Twitter*.

– The business problem: sell more burgers!

– The campaign: trade each of your unwanted Facebook friends for $0.37 worth of fast food.

– The results**: even though Facebook considered the Burger King application to breach the privacy regulations (“de-friending” notification messages) and eventually pushed Burger King to discontinue the campaign, it was a major success.  In about 2 weeks nearly 234,000 Facebookers were “de-friended” for the sake of a hamburger and Burger King capped Whooper coupons to 25,000.


This is an old campaign but still one of my favorite! Burger King brilliantly turned the consumer insight into a useful, fun and valuable application, no surprise that users jumped on it and we still talk about it years later…


Best Buys Twelpforce:


– The insight: customers want to access help service the way that suits them best. 

– The business problem: how to deliver “dream support”? Ultimately the goal was to increase business and customer loyalty.

– The campaign: use the strength of the Best Buys sales specialists and customer service representatives and enlist a legion of them to respond to questions and concerns about Best Buys products and services that arise in the Twitter stream.

– The results***: after three months of activity (supported by a TV launch) the Twelpforce had grown from 400 to 2,200 Best Buys employees. They had responded to over 13,000 public questions, concerns, and opinions. The Twitter feed @twelpforce now counts over 29,000 followers and the number of questions averages 100-125 per day. This campaign won the 2010 Bronze Cyber Lion award in Cannes.

The great thing about this campaign is that Best Buys did encourage their employees to actively take part in the program. They provided training and guidelines and gave them a voice to express their passion and knowledge. Spontaneity, involvement was all it took to get this project to fly… What a useful and valuable tool for the customers, and for the employees!

Gap & Groupon back to school promotion:





– The insight: break back to school sales record

– The business problem: break through in the midst of back to school offers and drive more customers to Gap stores nationally.

– The campaign: 50% discount exclusively available through Groupon: get $50 worth of Gap apparel and accessories for $25 only.

– The results****: the volume of takers was immediate and massive: nearly 300,000 purchases on the first day. This is Groupon’s best seller ever! (about 10 Groupons per second).

 Gap is clearly heading into social and geo localization and is putting its marketing powerhouse behind it. It was the first retailer to launch a massive 25% discount on Foursqaure earlier in September and then moved on to this partnership with Groupon. One might argue that such discounts are not necessary and have a huge cost to Gap but I think that the buzz and learnings generated by the campaign will be very valuable for the future of the business.


Canon EOS photo chain



– The insight: the photographers community is made of various levels: from total beginners to professionals.

– The business problem: how to position Canon DSLR products at the heart of the photographers’ community?

– The campaign:  photo chain is an online platform where each shot taken by an individual inspires the next. It’s about a community of photographers working together and contributing their photos to keep the chains alive and growing.

– The results: throughout the campaign 18,709 images were uploaded, while photo chains images have been viewed almost 2 million times and 19,271 people signed up as members of the Canon EOS website.
This campaign won the 2010 IAB Australia social media award.

This is a beautiful creation from which emerged an active community. It is a fantastic way to produce earned content and build advocacy naturally. Definitely worth checking out, some of the images are stunning!


To finish off, I would say that when implementing a social media campaign, think of yourself as a user. As simple as that: evaluate your idea by asking yourself if you would engage with it? If the answer is yes: define your measurement metrics, set up organization processes within your team, a listening platform and go for it. Test and experiment…. and remember the 3 words, the 3 magic words: utility/ value/ entertainment


*Publicis worldwide research 2009
** Adweek
*** Quotes from John Bernier, a Social Media Manager at Best Buys**** Quotes from Julie Mossler a spokeswoman for Groupon