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Why Social Isn’t Another Chocolate With a Different Wrapper

Why Social Isn’t Another Chocolate With a Different Wrapper

by Tim Hughes | @Timothy_Hughes | LinkedIn

Often we talk to people about social media, Twitter, Facebook, LinkedIn, Instagram and internal social such as Slack, Chatter, Yammer etc. People talk about them tactically, it’s all about arranging for your mates to meet at the pub, cat photos or taking photos of your lunch. Has anything changed? I had a comment on a LinkedIn post post today that mentioned that social was “Another Chocolate With a Different Wrapper”.

More than 4.1 billion people are now online, meaning that 54 percent of the world’s total population is using the internet in July 2018. The number of internet users around the world grew by eight percent over the past year, with growth boosted by accelerating adoption across Africa and South Asia.

The number of people using social media continues to grow at an impressive rate too, with the latest data showing that global users increased by 11 percent in the year to July 2018.

Roughly 300 million people came online in the twelve months to July 2018, equating to an average of almost 10 new users every second. With 328 million new users adopting social media in the past 12 months, we’re still seeing additions of almost one million new social media users every day, Well over 3.3 billion people now use social media each month, with at least 92 percent of them accessing social media via mobile devices. With 562 Million on the professional business network LinkedIn. This for a business is a massive network in which to target with your message.

We work with companies creating a social media strategy. This is often assumed to be something to do with marketing and about how much, what and what time they post. And there is the first mistake people often make, that Social is purely a tactic that marketing use, they post stuff and hope something happens.

If you start probing then companies will admit that social is in marketing, sales, customer service, human resources, procurement, Finance, I could go on. But the only department that people really “see” is marketing.

It’s watching the “penny drop” when you explain to people that social isn’t about, “sales” or about “marketing” in facts it’s about the whole of the business. Then when you explain how bringing all of these departments together under one strategy, that people start to see the power.

Humans are after all a naturally social bunch, ever since we started to make ourselves known on the Serengeti in Africa, we realised two things. 1. We need to keep moving and 2. We formed a team. And we have been forming tribes, unions, committees ever since. To be social to be human. Social media is just a natural extension of our natural need to communicate.

In my recent conversation I had on Digital Transformations when I asked why digital transformations failed the response was “siloed thinking”. So often I was told that IT did IT stuff, Marketing did Marketing stuff, Sales did Sales stuff, etc and it was the Board (C-Suite in the US) that needed to bring it all together.

So Where Do We Go From Here?

C-Level and Boards need to understand the power of social media. This is not about getting CFOs to Tweet, it is getting them to understand the business case and power of using social across the business. Increasing revenue and sales to increasing competitive advantage.

All Revolutions Start Through Small Changes

Getting your board (C-Suite) together for a day to take then through a number of exercises so they understand how the world has changed and how social media now powers businesses across the globe.

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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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How to fix the problem

How to fix the problem

by Adam Gray | @AGSocialMedia | LinkedIn

So, if you have clicked through from my previous “rant” about my book parody then hello and welcome back, if you haven’t, you might want to read it here.

So, how can this be an easy problem to solve.

Well, the theory goes like this…

People buy from people. People (generally) don’t trust corporates as much as people, so an audience is never going to be as engaged by the company as by the people within. If you doubt that this is true as yourself this. Do you have a friend that works for a large company? If the answer is yes, do you believe him/her more or less than the company they work for?

See what I mean? You trust them because they are your friend.

When your friend posts something on one of the social networks are you more likely to read it is it is something they have written or something that they have shared?

See again? The important thing is that THEY are the reason you’re engaging.

Now think about this. Let’s assume that a reasonably smart person you know works for a large company, perhaps EY, or Accenture, or IBM or one of those kind of businesses and that they are on Twitter and have 500 followers. That’s a reasonable assumption because they have some smart opinions and have won the trust of their audience because of who they are. Let’s also assume that half of the employees of this company are in a similar position.

So the number of followers is:

employee count / 2 x 500 = 91,500,000

(Based on an “average number of employees for these three companies of 366,000)

By comparison these organisations’ headline Twitter account has an average of 397,000 followers.

I’m sure that even the most cynical amongst us can agree that 397k is a long way away from 91.5m even if the basis of the calculation is floored (which it isn’t). In fact taking the message to market through the staff gives a 230x greater reach should be pretty compelling in itself.

Now think back to a couple of paragraphs ago where we (sort of) agreed that people buy from people and therefore the individuals are more likely to be read, believed and trusted than the organisations…then the 230x actually represents a far larger value than that in terms of getting the message out there.

This is all, let’s be honest, pretty obvious stuff.

The arguments are not based on fiction but based on human behaviour and simple maths.

SAP as an example have only really dipped their toe in the social selling water and are already publicly saying that the can attribute €1bn of pipeline to social. We see organisation that we work with absolutely flabbergasted by the difference that going to market through social channels makes for them.

So, with 2019 approaching my suggestion is that you should try something new. Put in place a social programme across the organisation and see if you can empower and mobilise your staff to be better in this respect. Now is the time to do it because the general standard of social presences for both companies and individuals is woeful so there’s a great opportunity for you to appear head-and-shoulders above all your competition.

We are NOT an agency. We do not take your money and do your work for you. We teach you how to do this for yourselves. we empower your staff to go-out and advocate for you r company and be seen as the go-to person in their respective industries/sectors/regions.

In reality this is the only way forward.

Someone once said “this is a lesson that everyone needs to learn – you can learn it the easy way or you can learn it the hard way…but you will learn it!” That sounds like a perfect quote for this situation!

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How my favourite business book inspires me to this day.

How my favourite business book inspires me to this day.

by Adam Gray | @AGSocialMedia | LinkedIn

My favourite business book ever is Funky Business. Published over a decade ago it talks about how the internet has enabled people (and businesses) to mine niches much more effectively because we are all selling to a global market.

The same is true of social media, you can be famous…you can be world famous…but you need to pick your niche and you need to remember that the narrower the niche the more likely you are to be number one. This book (which I should read again) was a bestseller and made an indelible impression on my thinking around marketing and social media and I’m sure it made a similar impression on countless other people.

I can’ help thinking that as I look around me today watching the last few weeks of 2018 I might write a spoof tribute to Funky Business about how I see so many organisations market themselves…and I should call it…

Lazy Business.

Why such a damning title?

Well, because it seems to me that many organisations have become lazy in how their two most fundamental business functions, sales and marketing, operate. 

In many cases marketing is still operating in the 1980s – ads, newsletters, events, sampling…and their processes for doing these things are based on trying to do the bare minimum and they pay little attention to two major things that seem to have become quite fashionable.

The Internet and Social Media.

These two technologies have totally changed the way that YOU and I research and buy everything. They shape our belief systems, our understanding of the world and the future, our expectations and our relationships. Now 54% of the people on earth have an internet connection (so that means most people in the developed world, which means pretty much everyone that you and I want to have a conversation with) and 82% of those people are active social media users. This means that of the 54% in the world with an internet connection 4 out of 5 use social and the 1 out of 5 that don’t will largely be represented as the very young or the very old. So everyone we want to engage is there.

However, many companies don’t see this revelation as a catalyst to change from sending out monthly despatches or running events. But that’s not lazy is it?

Well, I think it is. It’s lazy thinking. As things currently stands there are thousands of companies selling the same products and the buyer rarely cares about the difference. You’re “exceptional customer care” is not a USP any more, it is what the customer expects. The incredible functionality your product has makes little or no difference to the user unless they are incredibly sophisticated…which they’re probably not. Your marketing brochure or advert or email looks, to your customer, just the same as all of your competitors.

Yet, despite know this, companies persist in doing the same old stuff, even when they know it isn’t effective.

Here are two excerpts from actual conversations we had:

Company 1

  • Marketing Director: Our email marketing doesn’t seem work any more, neither does our advertising.
  • Tim: Why not just stop doing them and do something else?
  • Marketing Director: Well, the thing is you have to do the basics don’t you.

Company 2

  • Sales Director: Let me run through our plan for creating pipeline
  • Adam: Okay
  • Sales Director: We’re going to do…[and they list the activities]. What do you think.
  • Adam: To me it smacks of…
  • Sales Director interrupts: PANIC
  • Adam: Erm yes

In both cases there was a terrible sinking feeling (from us as well as them) that the company would still keep doing these things because they had always done them. They were comfortable with the “investment” in these activities because they had long since given up trying to prove any value and now just saw pointless advertising (and other activities) as a “cost of sale.”

Each year they hand millions of dollars to their agencies because they i) believe what they agency says about “brand building” being crucial and impossible to measure, and ii) because they don’t want to grasp the nettle of actually trying to solve the problem…which is surprisingly easy if you know how. (you can see more about that here).

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The Digital Leadership Associates (DLA) – Marketing Flywheel


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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Marketers need to wake up and smell the coffee.

Have you been social selling for longer than you thought?







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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TV is being disrupted. Or it is progressing through an evolution, reacting to our viewing habits.

Go, go, go! You don’t want to be left behind on the social selling highway.

Why a programmatic approach to social selling?