Brands play nice. Consumers don’t

Tim Nolan over at BBH Labs, discussed this week how despite brands wanting to be more human, they seldom are mean or call bluff on consumers because “the customer is always right” cliché. From trolling or just plain dumbness, i’ve witnessed my share of idiocy directed at brands by consumers, and you just want to send them to that place.

But sometimes, brands have the courage to do something brave. Kudos to Bodyform for having the courage to answer back.

Facebook Pages: going global or staying local?

David and Goliath, a colour lithograph by Osmar Schindler (c. 1888), United States public domain
David and Goliath, by Osmar Schindler. United States public domain

There’s a silent David vs Goliath battle going on the past few months. It’s something that was given as a fact to many brand managers on local markets, and few voices have spoken about.
With Facebook reaching 1 billion, some brands took notice of the audience available when adding all the numbers from local markets , deciding it was best to migrate these local presences into one big global one. Examples include Heineken or Martini, that recently consolidated their Facebook presence.

Look at all those tab views. Too bad some people don’t know English.

Usually this process a brand representative with a large media budget negotiating with Facebook for a gradual migration of fans that previously followed the local brand Page (e.g. Heineken UK or Lâncome Brasil).
Migration is usually smooth with fans unaware of it, which if I find not very transparent and trustworthy. If someone follows a local Page, they should be allowed to know of the change and whether they would like to keep the affiliation on a global level.
Before the migration happens, local teams (clients and agencies) are usually trained on a social media management service that allows them to localize content for their countries. Popular enterprise solutions include BuddyMedia (recently acquired by Salesforce), Vitrue (recently acquired by Oracle), Syncapse, Lithium, Shoutlet or Adobe Social (formerly Context Optional).

Which bring us to the big question: is a global presence better than a local one?

Local beats global

Being from a small country, I could advocate for global presence if resources and experience actually became available going global. Which almost never happens. It often happens that local markets are much more advanced in regards to content production and community management, and even if local teams are briefed initially on social media best practices and guidelines, it’s rather superficial and condescending. Global has perhaps more resources (or deeper pockets) in analytics or social business, but that’s not what we’re really discussing here, is it?

It’s not even for debate if community management should be done globally (can you picture the cultural clash of someone who doesn’t live the culture of the country daily), as the social media management solutions at least allow wall publishing, localized per country.

These are harsh criticisms, but I’m not alone. Brian Solis previously adressed the subject, claiming that “in 2012 and over the next few years, going local will only improve engagement, resonance, and ultimately commerce in the last mile”, after looking at the data from T-Index that shows how the US will no longer be the center of the social media world, or at least English is not necessarily the language of a global presence.

The relevance of local pages is even more striking through the lens of community management. As Sarah Hansson of Dannish agency Mindjumpers states, “for international brands, tactics should include to leverage local community management in order to connect and engage local markets with authenticity.”

And it’s not only opinion, but also data showing that staying local pays off:

Disclaimer: Fullsix is a SocialBakers Trusted Agency Partner. Which actually makes it much harder to ignore the data.

Federated Or Distributed

Currently, we have two major models of managing a Facebook presences globally, which I caracterize as Federated and Distributed.
I) Federated or Global
Local markets are managed from a single global presence, using geolocated wall posts on Facebook, respecting global social media guidelines.
Global content can sometimes be reviewed by local markets, with vendor solutions providing editorial roles for local markets and corresponding publishing permissions.
Examples include Heineken or Martini.

II) Distributed
Local markets have their own presences, with access to complete set of Facebook features, respecting global social media guidelines.
Global content can be distributed to local markets with vendor solution, with local review and translation, published on scheduled date by global.
Examples include Ben&Jerry’s (disclaimer: client) and Starbucks.

From my experience of managing over 30 brand pages in Portugal, I’ve found some serious problems when using a Federated approach:
a) Reduced scope of native Facebook features: Album, notes and event creation not possible but only wall posts.
b) Rollback not possible: one cannot decouple after going global
c) Customer service hell: if someone comments in portuguese on a global post, local markets can’t reply.
d) Severe limitations regarding the use of Facebook Platform: tabs are usually limited by country (if even possible), with reduced visibility and usually confusing users
e) Economies of scale don’t work on people: Resources and setup for coordination between global and local markets actually increase

If you’re trying to convince global headquarters to stay local, if showing the problems above is not enough, there’s still Facebook. The rumours of Facebook testing the feature to keep local pages, while aggregating the fan count and insights and management on a global level, might just save brands that kept local presences.

No, Lâncome Portugal hasn’t 3.1 million fans. Or it would potentially reach almost 80% of online audience in Portugal. But Lâncome Global has, while still keeping local pages.

Lâncome was the only presence I could find that indicates this is going forward (drop a comment if you know more), showing that brands that took the risky dive of merging all the local markets, no longer have the chance to rollback. Those who were keen to see the value of local markets can now benefit the best from both worlds: globally aware but locally engaged.

Recognizing this problem is one thing, more difficult is to actually try to find a solution that solves the current situation. From loss aversion to the invested resources, there’s not much interest on changing things as they are, but we can at least could avoid doing the same mistakes on brands that haven’t decided yet to take the leap to global social media management.
For those lucky ones, there’s hope on what we learned so far:

  • Start by organizing globally but gathering feedback from the more advanced markets. They have a lot to contribute and a more tactical approach that usually provides valuable feedback on practical problems.
  • Build a global content hub. Not mandatory, but rather based on assets legally approved and with localized permissions (e.g. accessing marketing materials for products that aren’t available in local markets)
  • Keep content and creative local. It shows when you just craft global content that means nothing to local markets. This is specially relevant for sponsored posts and Facebook ads, which are the least practical thing to do globally, except for worldwide events such as the Olympics.
  • Facilitate knowledge sharing, either formally (wiki or intranet) or informally (email). Global management can audit and analyze best practices, sharing them to all markets.

This discussion should involve clients and agencies, and not so much vendors that are keen to push their solutions despite having no control over the platforms where brands are. Watching their recent rush on being acquired, I’m rather suspicious if their commercial interests are in line with what brands really need. In the end, brands and agencies should be having this discussion with Facebook, finding solutions that would benefit both parties.

One of my core beliefs in social media marketing is “making your customers feel awesome”. I see no evidence of how having a global presence managed with a social media service helps me do it better. Discuss.

It’s the Age Of Conversation !!!

For the past 3 years, dozens of leading marketeers, writers and thinkers have collaborated on a book that brings some of the best insights on modern marketing. Led by Drew McLellan and Gavin Heaton, this third book in the Age of Conversation series brings together authors from across the world, with diverse and practical insights for the changing nature of business today.

Chapters include topics like Conversational branding, Influence, Getting to work, Corporate conversations, Measurement, In the boardroom, Innovation and execution, Pitching social media and Identities (the topic I wrote a short essay for).

With cover illustration by Chris Wilson and our new publisher Channel V Books (from co-authors Gretel Going & Kate Fleming), i’m counting on you to order a copy once it’s released, specially considering the sales profits are donated to the Make-A-Wish Foundation.

Get to know the rest of the authors or follow the Twitter AOC3 list created by  Steve Ponder:

Can’t wait to read the great thinking from the “fellowship” !

The B2B Social Dilemma

When discussing social web and how it relates to marketing, the focus is mostly on consumers and the communities formed around products and services. Engagement, immediate feedback and responsibility, empowerment of fans, flexibility and having a human voice are the blueprint for companies when interacting with consumers.

Photo by Julia Manzerova, under a CC License

The discussion on how these values translate on a Business-To-Business scenario is quite recent, with companies like Dachis Corporation or recent initiatives by SAP exploring these brave new waters. But one thing is to have a 10000 feet view on social business, another is having to deal with day-to-day operations, from procurement to human resources.
We all have heard stories about greedy managers or other forms or corporate assholes, that don’t care about the latest social technologies and are usually control freaks, oblivious about our oh-so-noble concepts of social capital, long tail or crowdsourcing. And worst, they push businesses into a new form of Prisoner’s dilemma.

The prisoner’s dilemma is a fundamental problem in game theory that demonstrates why two people might not cooperate even if it is in both their best interests to do so

Even if we have the best intentions and try to collaborate with other business, the fact is that the amount of effort we put on using social technologies isn’t returned with the same level of commitment by other companies which we deal on a regular basis. Much to blame is the selfish need for maximizing shareholder value that still prevails on many companies (despite having caused the recent economic crisis), forcing stakeholders not to invest in values and technologies more supportive of innovation and social responsibility.

Unlike Business-To-Consumer markets, the reason why i find this dilemma still stands on B2B is because of low adoption of public publishing platforms. Even if we consider Yammer or Linkedin, most of business conversations are shielded by corporate guidelines with a veiled interest on lack of transparency.
When will we see the corporate equivalents of Facebook and Twitter? Where companies cooperate in their best interests, with no hidden payoffs and in a transparent market, where the conversations are regarded with the same importance as in consumer markets. It’s time to replace the traditional industrial complex of pushing goods for the markets with a more design and socially responsible model, where hidden agendas are hard to maintain under public scrutiny.

Yes, i know it’s a dream. But so was landing men on the moon.

ComScore measures Internet Audience in Portugal

Just noticed today that ComScore started measuring Internet audience in Portugal, and the numbers do look solid.

Top 15 Online Properties in Portugal
Total Portugal – Age 15+, Home & Work Locations
September 2009
Source: comScore World Metrix
Media Sep-2008 Sep-2009 % Change
Total Internet : Total Audience 3,665 3,816 4%
Google Sites 2,959 3,570 21%
Microsoft Sites 2,816 3,397 21%
Portugal Telecom 2,125 2,398 13%
Hi5.COM 1,986 2,329 17%
Yahoo! Sites 1,066 1,422 33%
UOL 971 1,254 29%
Grupo Impresa 1,086 1,215 12%
Wikimedia Foundation Sites 1,012 1,148 13%
Grupo Brasil Telecom 863 1,119 30%
WordPress 860 1,058 23%
OnLine eXchange 625 930 49% 771 914 19%
Terra – Telefonica 655 890 36% 756 852 13%
CBS Interactive 394 643 63%

The study points to more than 3.8 million people age 15 and older, spending an average 1.9 hours online per person during the month, numbers that will probably be discussed the next 26th November at CAEM i-com National Roundtable (on Twitter @icomglobal).

The last few months i’ve also noticed a renewed interest on giving solid data about Internet behavior, as the market grows bigger with droves of new users consuming more bandwidth (either broadband or mobile).

The data on social networks is finally shedding some public light (disclaimer: Fullsix Portugal has also some panel data on user behavior), with no surprises on the top place for Facebook numbers show some solid growth, but i’m still a bit far on my prediction that Hi5 would be surpassed by the end of 2009 (even if i seriously suspect that already happened in terms of active users). Twitter is a lot bigger than i expected, and something that most marketeers in my country have been ignoring.

Top 10 Social Networking Sites in Portugal
Total Portugal – Age 15+, Home & Work Locations
September 2009
Source: comScore World Metrix
Media Sep-2008 Sep-2009 % Change
Total Internet : Total Audience 3,665 3,816 4%
Social Networking 2,585 2,992 16% 1,986 2,329 17%
Windows Live Profile N/A 1,225 N/A 113 639 463%
MySpace Sites 267 289 8%
Orkut 170 256 50% 26 249 842% 204 244 19% 8 238 3,018%
Windows Live People N/A 218 N/A 94 156 67%

Source: ComScore

Shameless PromoTion: Sapo Pond

It’s been a while since my last Shamess PromoTion, where i highlight projects created by friends, mostly from Portugal. The project i’ll be describing today was developed by SAPO, where some good friends managed to deliver one of the most solid web applications i’ve seen lately, specially considering that Lisbon isn’t exactly Silicon Valley.


So, what’s Pond ?  It’s an aggregator and publishing tool for social media services, that allows anyone to manage their social graph on a single place. You can import your friend list from social web services, merge friend contacts and update your social web status on the web, mobile or desktop.


The wide range of platform support is certainly the highlighted feature:  Besides the web, Android, and Symbian mobile apps are available (iPhone soon) and desktop software (Mac, Windows and Linux) will also be released.

Currently Pond supports Twitter, Flickr, SAPO Fotos, YouTube, SAPO Vídeos, Facebook and SAPO Blogs, as well any RSS or Atom feed. It will surely be a great way to introduce the power of social web to a wider portuguese audience, since the application is sponsored by TMN — the largest mobile carrier in Portugal (disclaimer: TMN is a Fulllsix client) — PT Comunicações and Meo (it will be interesting to see a social app on a IPTV service: social TV).

With smartphones becoming more affordable, growth on the social web will be fueled by mobile web with centralizing services like Pond or Vodafone 360 taking full advantage our digital identities. I only wish i could add more metadata to my friends info, like birthdays, tags or events. Give me that, and i’ll be a happy ? Ponder ?

Great work, SAPO team!

P.S.: the service is on beta — invitation only for the moment — with early registration for TMN clients.

Upload 2.0 meeting

Taking place in Lisbon, the next November 14th, Upload 2.0 intends to discuss current web trends and their impact on Marketing and Communication strategies.


Organized by a team of active participants on Portugal’s social web, the event gathers several practitioners sharing their experiences and ideas on a series of short talks about the role of new media, consumer empowerment and new models of publishing. From marketeers, students, journalists, bloggers or just people with passion for the new social web, you’re all invited to register.


I’ll be giving a short talk on UFOs (Unidentified Flashy Objects). If you find the title unusual, then show up and listen the rest of the content.

Speakers also include Ricardo Teixeira, Rodrigo Moita de Deus, Filipe Carrera, Luís Rasquilha, Fernando Batista, Daniel Caeiro, Vasco Trigo, Paulo Querido, and Sérgio Bastos with panels moderated by Rodrigo Saraiva, João Morais and Domingos Pereira.


There’s no excuse of being at work (it’s on a Saturday) or being expensive (ticket at 28€ / 20€ for students). Find all about it at or get the updates at twitter/@UploadLisboa.

Speaking of events, today it’s Ignite Portugal, where Alt.Prt.Sc will be recording a special videocast and my colleague Tiago is giving the Ignite talk “How to manage impossible projects with agility”. See you later.

Tales from the microsite crypt: the rise of social zombies

Since 2006, Web 2.0 and the growth of accessible publishing platforms, the microsite (also called hotsite or campaign site) has been on life support, with a near death as new forms of interaction extend to multiple touchpoints. Many have declared the death of the microsite — hyperboles are good linkabait — as the social web became increasingly important, both for consumers and companies.

The age of microsite featured the usual broadcast tactics, pushing “shiny flashy objects” and applying the usual recipes of “spray-and-pray” or “build-it-and-they-will-come”. From those days, the web graveyard inherited thousands of zombie pages that became lifeless, after broadcasting their ephemeral commercial message.

FWA 2005 Site Of The Month: 4 out of 12 are no longer online

The kind of campaign websites listed above, is pretty much careless of what happens after the “campaign” ends. Not even the decency of doing a simple 301 HTTP redirect, with users stumbling upon a parked page, filled with AdWords by someone with a sense of opportunity. Don’t tell me that a company can’t spare a lousy hosting bill for an old sucessfull campaign or $10USD for a redirected or masked domain.

But enough about microsites, that i personally call “the web’s non-recyclable garbage”. Fast forward to 2009, where one would expect that some lessons from the previous days would turn companies more wiser when defining an integrated Internet presence. Well, not quite.

Zombies in San Francisco
Photo by Laughing Squid under Creative Commons

Meet the social zombies

These are the kind of corporate presences on social web platforms and services, created only to serve a temporary tactical purpose. As with microsite, they’re nurtured during a few weeks with fresh blood (regular updates, a widget, a viral wannabe), but then left dying on the same kind of web graveyard. But now with a more bloody consequence, taking with them all the community (fans, followers, viewers, etc) that they’ve built while alive.

Examples include the usual Twitter account created for the yearly event, a Facebook page activated only for a new product launch or a YouTube channel with the 500 views viral wannabe. This “social media bribery” is again leaving pieces of rotten digital flesh all over the web.

dharma-lost (An ARG for TV series Lost) has won a Primetime Creative Arts Emmy, but is now defunct (or should i say lost)

A sustainable solution could be a wiki on the same domain, highlighting the narrative and interactions.

Sometimes it’s just brands experimenting and failing, and i’m ok with that. The problem is not caring to clean the mess once finished, on a bad example of interactive sustainability (how’s that for a buzzword?).
The social web is also about brands creating a sustainable presence on conversational destinations and managing the digital footprint for the long run (Google doesn’t forget). Once a campaign ends, don’t stick only to analysis, with the follow-up also including a post-mortem curation, by informing (updating the bio or description) or reaching out to the community ( open-sourced their service). And please, don’t just limit yourself to profile euthanasia.

Nation of Go

These days we had our share of new social web services, with Mashable or Techcrunch feeding us daily with some new shiny object. Nonetheless, some brands venture into this competitive territory and create their own experiences, particular when there’s one dedicated set of consumers who share a common passion.


Such is the case with Nation of Go, a Google Maps mashup sponsored by BF Goodrich, which you can get a short video overview:

There’s also a free mobile app to track drives, trails and racetracks and automatically upload them to one’s profile, with support for geo-tagged photos.
I’m a sucker for branded content and applications, and though suspicious of branded social networks (it’s like having a private talk on a crowded bar), this one from BFG really impressed me. Shame it’s only for North America.

Source: Creativity Online