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We empower YOU to be great.

We empower YOU to be great.

by Adam Gray | @AGSocialMedia | LinkedIn

We speak to lots of organisations that “help” their clients embrace social media. I use the word “help” in quotes because if you help someone (or a business) what you do is make a difference and so often that isn’t the case.

The two types of organisations we see are: Agencies and Digital Transformation Consultancies.

Agencies do he work for the client. Perhaps this is based on managing their client’s social presence, or writing content fo the client or creating adverts but all of these things work in the same basic way. The client outsources part (or all) of the work to the agency.

I get why this is attractive. It’s a quick fix. The client doesn’t have to spend time either learning or doing so the agency can simply sweep-in and make the pain disappear. 

There are however, a couple of things to consider with this approach.

  1. the client pays quite a lot of money for relatively little. If I were running the agency I would buy-in the staff and sell their services out at a profit, therefore typically the client gets a junior person for a senior price.
  2. When the client stops paying the agency, the benefit ends. It is a very tactical approach and not one that we at Digital Leadership Associates favour. Our clients do on occasion say to us “can you do this for us” and we always say “no because we would rather teach you how to do it for yourselves” as this leaves a permanent benefit rather than creating an ongoing cost.

Digital Transformation Consultancies, or Management Consultancies. All of the large consultancies like to offer social media as part of their “digital transformation” programmes as they acknowledge that this is a crucial part of how people communicate these days. However, deploying social media within a business has little to do with knowledge transfer and education but has everything to do with changing people’s behaviour. Everyone’s behaviour.

That cannot be accomplished by putting in an appendix which says that ‘people will be encouraged to use social media by sharing company approved articles” because this is not social…this is spamming. 

The process of success in social media comes from a combination of:

  1. a clear process. eg. when an important prospect posts an article like/comment/share that article. Always.


  1. empowerment. Everyone needs to recognise that they have a crucial role to play and that the value that they add is THEIR voice (rather than the company’s voice).

In my experience the “social media experts” within Management Consultancies are not experts. A quick glance at their own social media presences will underline that they are not experts because they are not exhibiting the sort of behaviours that experts do. Drinking the Cool Aid is the perfect metaphor. I (personally) and everyone at Digital Leadership Associates (and our resellers) is an experts because you need only look at our profiles and you will see that we are all demonstrating Best Practice.

If your advisor doesn’t lead by example they simply cannot understand what you are grappling with because they clearly have not grappled with (and solved) it themselves.

LinkedIn has nearly 600,000,000 members. Facebook has nearly 2.5bn users. For every major social media platform the number of users is simply mind boggling and if you want access to those people you will have to work hard to achieve that.

What I mean is YOU will have to work HARD.

For example Kylie Jenner (to pick a celebrity at random) has made $900m from her social media presence, at a smaller level, Zoe Sugg aka “Zoella” (a young British YouTuber) makes seven figures per year. At a smaller level still, my co-founder Tim Hughes is generally regarded (well by pretty much all of the influencer measuring tools) as the world’s top Social Selling expert – Tim hasn’t made $900m or seven figures per year…but like the others he has built a large following that listens to what he says. So when he says the steps are A – B – C then you know that he has experience of what’s required to achieve this fame and to be frank it’s hard work. Tim is ALWAYS on Twitter answering questions and posting interesting content, Zoella is forever making videos (yes she has a small team to help her now, but the is still the subject of a video or more per day) and Kylie Jenner has a (larger) team sporting her but she is still the person shooting the photos and in the clips.

The one thing that they have in common is that they are all working hard to achieve their fame and if you want [appropriate] fame you will need to work hard too.

But one thing is for certain, it’s a great flea easier to post a few videos per week and tweet some interesting articles than it is to make 200 cold-calls per day or live on the “hope” that your campaign might solve your pipeline problems.

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Sales and Marketing Is it Time to Merge?

Sales and Marketing Is it Time to Merge?

by Tim Hughes | @Timothy_Hughes | LinkedIn

When, Adam, Hugo and I started writing our new book “SMarketing” which is available from Amazon the 3rd October we spent time re-looking at the marketing and sales process.

Classic process is that marketing create leads and then hand them to sales, who then say they are rubbish. So sales go off and create their own. Then if you are lucky, some sort of qualification process is put in place in the marketing handoff.

Either way there is a handoff or often worse there is a massive gap between the two departments.

The thing is, that with the advent of the internet sales and marketing is changing. And it has to as people are buying differently.

Traditionally marketing was involved in brand and lead generation, now with the advent of social selling and employee advocacy sales and HR are in control of the brand and sales is control of the lead generation. Which is why we are advocating a merger of the two departments.

That’s all very well but there are too many books that talk about a “why” but not a “How”. In my book “Social Selling – techniques to influence buyers and changemakers” I wrote a handbook on how to social sell. With Smarketing, we have done the same and written a book on how to create a Smarketing environment within your business.

The Book Structure

The book opens with an Introduction to the current state of sales and marketing as we see it. From the macro issues that are driving digital transformation to the micro issues in the way that the internet has totally changed the way we buy.

We then embark on two chapters that look at why sales and marketing isn’t currently working, building up to the main meat of the book which explains how to implement a Smarketing program

When we say implement this is real “nuts and bolts” stuff and we take you through the actual steps if you are a leader or a person on the “shop floor” that will be doing the work.

We include, diagrams, questions to ask yourself and your colleagues (as you travel on your Smarketing journey) as well as creating an on-line community for you to ask questions of. We couldn’t write a book without social media being involved, could we? 

It wouldn’t be right not to set out a chapter on where things can go wrong. You are going to be part of a change program and people won’t want to change. You need to be equipped with what issues you will face and how to deal with them.

There is a chapter on the tools you might like to look at to support your program and we look at intent data as well as other supporting tools.

The final chapter before the conclusion is on how to start your own Account Based Marketing (ABM) program. Pretty much a whistle stop tour, but it will equip you with the processes to make your ABM program a success.

In the conclusion we take you through where we see Smarketing and Marketing will be in the future.

All written in a work book style that you will want to get “off the shelf” time and time again. Note there is a Kindle version, as there is any electronic version you might want, it’s just it’s easier to get a book off the shelf. In my humble opinion.

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Smarketing: How to Achieve Competitive Advantage through Blended Sales and Marketing” is available on all Amazon platforms click here


Marketers need to wake up and smell the coffee.

Marketers need to wake up and smell the coffee.

by Adam Gray | @AGSocialMedia | LinkedIn

This week we kicked-off a programme with a new client and we ran a strategy day with them. During this we delved in to what their aspirations were and how committed they were to make these aspirations a reality and what the challenges might be in bringing this vision to life. During this day we had lunch with the head of marketing and they said something that most marketers know but are simply too terrified to acknowledge.

“Marketing simply down’t work any more – email, events, advertising…none of it.”

For someone who’s job it was to market the organisation’s products and services this might seem like a rather negative outburst, but not at all. They had taken this message to the CEO and the Head of Sales and had their total support. Support to set-out on a new course. A course which might just work…well certainly the old stuff wasn’t working so what could there possibly be to lose?

Before I continue, those of you in marketing are probably sitting smugly thinking “my email marketing [or whatever other campaign] always gets exceptional results”…I doubt that’s true, but even if it is, this is not sustainable. YOU know that YOU do not like cold emails (or cold calls, or being interrupted) from anyone you don’t know, trust and like. You simply don’t. And, despite the fact that you think that your product is different and that people actually want to hear about it. It isn’t and they don’t. And if your email marketing/advertising is working at the moment you are very lucky (and it is just luck) but it won’t for much longer because people have had enough of receiving 100+ emails per day from people/companies that they don’t know offering to solve a problem that they don’t have and making suggestions based on little or know knowledge/understanding of my problems/issues/challenges.

The net is closing in.

I digress.

This client had acknowledged all of this as was positively doing something about it. Their thinking was very progressive:

“If I don’t like receiving emails from your company, you probably won’t like receiving emails from my company.”

“I never notice advertisements on TV, in the press, on bus shelters…so you probably won’t either.”

“I find events a total waste of my time as I spend hours walking around trying to avoid being sold to…so you probably won’t like them either.”

Many organisations have acknowledged that this is the case…but very few have allowed this to drive their actions. This client has said “generating leads from outbound campaigns is not and efficient way of building relationships and selling our products…so we won’t do that any more and further more the sales and marketing teams who have been measured on – leads, calls meetings – will no longer have targets for any of those things.”


No, not really because if you are doing something and not getting the results that you want why should you keep on doing it!

The interesting thing is that this Head of Marketing (who has been a massively successful and influential marketer for 25+ years) is prepared to “dump” all of that experience and rather than think about how things used to be and what used to work…is thinking about how things are and how they will work in the future.

You too need to think about this. You need to consider how YOUR behaviour at home relates to what you do at work (or perhaps doesn’t) and take a leap of faith. Marketing needs to transform and it need to do it now.

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Why a programmatic approach to social selling?


Programatic or programmatic

Programatic or programmatic

by Adam Gray | @AGSocialMedia | LinkedIn

Let me begin by saying I am not an SEO expert. I understand the basics of SEO and I understand that it’s a science the requires a lot of study to master. I also understand that there are ways of sidestepping this study and ongoing work by using social media…

The premise of being found on Google (or any other search engine for that matter) is that you need to make the search engine think that your page is the most relevant page to the query that the person searching has just entered. How that relevance is calculated has a number of drivers (and an algorithm which is usually a closely guarded secret) based on (amongst other things):

Keyword density: The number of times the keyword (or phrase) being searched is present on the page.

How important the page/URL is: This is sort of “pagerank” in Google’s terms and this is a measure of whether the page is important (has lots of links pointing to it) or is hosted on a major URL (a page on the BBC website for example will sadly for us usually score more highly than a page on this website ).

The URL: Does the URL contain the search term – “” is more likely to create greater favour than “″ if you are trying to be seen for widgets.

Meta Data: does the structure of the page support what the search engine thinks the page is about?

Age: How old is the page? Older pages are usually less valuable than recent pages (but more so than brand new ones).

It’s a bit of a minefield really isn’t it, and regular updates to algorithms mean that the perfect balance of what works today might not work tomorrow. 

There is another challenge facing you too. If you are trying to optimise a page for something that might be profitable for you, you’re probably not the only one trying to optimise for this. So that makes it very competitive.

We all know the importance of being at the top of the first page of results. But there’s more than one way to skin a cat as they say…so where can you go to be relevant where people are looking…but your competitors aren’t?

I have a friend that runs a PPC (pay per click) agency and it’s interesting that she has a very pragmatic view on this. It’s all about the clicks, the competition and the price. They create some of the best PPC campaigns there are and optimise these do deliver the maximum clicks and conversions they can. As you know, we don’t engage in any paid media so the price isn’t an issue for us, but the clicks and the competition most definitely is and we can take a leaf out of their book.

One of their clients is a jeweller, and she jokes that they sell more products to people who cannot spell “jewellery” than to those that can. Now although this comment is slightly tongue in cheek the rational behind it is very serious indeed.

If the purpose is to get as many visitors as possible then why just pick the ones who can spell (or type) well? For us at Digital Leadership Associates these visitors come for our content and from our social presence. At the moment we are having a drive towards “programmatic social selling” (because it’s what we do) and we don’t mind whether our clients can spell “programatic” or not! So think about how you create content, how you distribute if and how you drive traffic and ask yourself next time you hurriedly type something in and misspell it whether you are the only person in the world who does this…and if you’re not there could be an opportunity for yoo [sic].

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The saturation of social media marketplace and a question for you to answer

The saturation of social media marketplace and a question for you to answer

by Adam Gray | @AGSocialMedia | LinkedIn

This week our good friend Simon Kemp came out with his “state of the nation” report – 2018 Q4 Global Digital Statshot which for us is a fantastic tool to see how the macro shifts in behaviour influence what we and our clients do at a more micro level. (you can see the report here)

One of the things that I notice straight off the bat is that the indications are that social media has reached saturation level. Facebook and Google identified that this was starting to happen 3 years ago that there was a ceiling of the number of social media users and that the only meaningful chance they have of increasing their reach is to increase the number of people with internet access. This makes the growth of social channels both slower (which we are seeing) and far more costly as it becomes an infrastructure project.

So, in the last quarter the percentage of internet users who are active on social media has actually decreased slightly, but the number of social media users has [again] increased.

However, as common sense tells you, as the percentage of people on social media increases there are fewer and fewer people left to convert to social media users and therefore growth is bound to slow.

So, as of this month there are 4,176,000,000 internet users and of those 3,397,000,000 are ACTIVE social media users. That means just over 81.3% of people with an internet connection are active on social media. Now consider this. People over 75 generally aren’t active on social channels, and children under the age of 8 aren’t either so that means that those portions of society (all of whom have internet connections) are counted in the 18.7% that aren’t active on social.

So this means that pretty much everyone (certainly everyone we want to talk to from a business perspective) is there now.

Another interesting fact is this (millions):

  • Facebook 2,234
  • YouTube 1,900
  • China 1,415
  • India 1,354
  • Instagram 1,000
  • QZone 548
  • Douyin 500
  • Sina Weibo 431
  • Twitter 335
  • US 326

Of the top 10 most populous places on earth only 3 of them are now countries, the rest are social media networks (if we chose to include messenger apps in this list then there would only be 2 – China and India – ranking 4 & 5).

So where once you might say that “my customers aren’t on social media” or perhaps “my customers’ aren’t influenced by social media” this isn’t true. Now, EVERYONE is on social media and we are all influenced by it..

Given that all of the evidence seems to suggest this position, I would pose the following question to YOU.

As adoption of social media continues to increase, as dwell time on social networks keeps rising, as the influence that these networks has on people both micro (clothing purchasing) and macro (democratically electing leaders/referendums) continues to rise… Why would you make social media and how you and your company are perceived and act on an adjunct to your company, sales and communications strategies rather than central to them?

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The greatest challenge of marketing beyond 2018

The greatest challenge of marketing beyond 2018

by Adam Gray | @AGSocialMedia | LinkedIn

As Eric Schmidt once announced “now there is more data created in two days than there was from the beginning of human history through to 2003”…as it turns out the quote may or may not be accurate, but one thing we know is that there is no shortage of data…or specifically, content.

So one of the biggest challenges for you as the consumer of this content is sifting through mountains of stuff that is out there. One of the biggest challenges of being a content creator is trying to determine whether your content is going to be attractive to the recipient.

Whether you are an individual or an organisation your view of the world and of adding value is very different than the people that you’re talking to. You genuinely believe that your [insert product or service here] is beneficial to the recipient and the best “product or service” available and you craft your piece of content on this basis. Many of the USPs that you think your product or service has are in fact not USPs at all and are in fact just what the recipient expects of you.

I worked for a large software company, and in fairness to them they did produce some great cloud products. Were they better than the competition though? Well the competition thought not because they were making all the same claims, and they too believed these claims. The problem is that from the customer’s perspective all good products look the same. Are Adidas shoes superior to Nike? is a Ferrari superior to a Lamborghini? Is an iPhone better than a Google Pixel? The answer of course to all of these things is “no” they are both good, different, but good.

However, when we write about our own products we talk about ‘market leading reliability” or “exceptional customer care” or “ outstanding performance” and the reader neither believes it…nor cares. They don’t care that you have 99% uptime (in fact when you say that they might be horrified because the had assumed you would have 100% uptime) or when you say you are a “top 5 ranked provider” they may read that as saying there are 4 providers better than you!

So often the things that we say even when well intentioned are about our product rather than about the recipient – saying “this is how our product overcomes your problems” is not the same as saying “this is how you need to overcome your problems”…there is a big difference.

But above all else, we need to put ourselves ruthlessly in the shoes of our audience. This is hard, but is vital.

Take your next piece of content and replace your product or service with another product or service totally unrelated to yours and ask yourself whether this piece of content resonates with you…

A thermoplastic polyurethane polyester based bush in our trademark orange. These bushes are renowned for their high tensile strength compression memory set and abrasion resistance.

(random product information from the internet)

…if it doesn’t you need to think again about what you’re saying and how you’re saying it.

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