Category Archives: Just thinking

Social Media Strategy Optimisation Intensive Workshop Session 1

After receiving the highest rating for content and delivery of any presenter for this subject by Pacific Conferences I decided that it might be good to share some of presentation and and what I learned from the participants. I will start with a Case Study and then share two discussion points. The blog is based on this slide presentation:

Organic reach is decreasing as changes to algorithms that determine what is seen in your newsfeed is adjusted to “advertise” the social media business model. Therefore, it is critical for success to fully leverage the most out of our social media strategy and the tools available. Approximately 9 out of every 10 companies that ask me to measure their social performance score below 20% effectiveness. With salaries of skilled employees rising along with advertising rates, more companies are starting to ask the right question: Where has the other 80% effectiveness gone?

Case Study: Star Trek

The original series was delivered by Desilu Studios to NBC from 1966 – 1969. At that time TV was using demographic tracking and market share to measure success. Despite high quality demographics, it lacked market share and so was cut. In syndication it continued to be driven by loyal demographically targeted fans and is still a major hit 40 years later.
star trek combined small.

Morale to the story is to focus on your correct demographic and deliver quality content and they will deliver ROI!

Discussion Point 1:

Communications is changing less than it appears. Even though it seems that there has been a dramatic shift in the way we communicate it has really changed little. It is more that the bits have shifted about than the fundamentals have changed. We used to read on paper and talk over the phone and share stories at cocktail parties. Now we read our news online, talk using messaging apps and share our stories on social media. What decided what originally made it to print, phone or cocktail party are still the same factors that drive online, messaging apps and social media. The only way to get talked about is to either pay for it or earn it. To earn it you need to popular, trustworthy, scandalous or another factor that basically involves getting sufficient enough interest from others to get tongues wagging. And depending on how you managed this you ended up on the Washington Post/ Huffington Post, Phone/ Whatsapp or cocktail parties and social media.

Morale of the story is that the fundamentals of communication remain constant. Technology shifts how we use and execute communications, but when approaching a new app, don’t look at it is was completely foreign. Remember the basics and learn the enhancements. It is easier to move forward with confidence if you don’t forget where you have been.

Discussion Point 2:

Effective communications is not a matter of either quantity or quality (usually interpreted as creative). PRDA has conducted research for the better part of a decade and found what determines how well received a brand’s content is depends more about science and process than either quantity or quality (creative). As algorithms become more refined to better process the trillions of posts made daily on social media it is necessary for social media applications and those that look to source and share content to use more refined search techniques. Example: a few years back if you posted a picture of a cat the algorithm that chose what would appear in your news feed let most everyone see it. But now that we all have 1000+ Friends and Page Likes on several apps with businesses posting 1000’s of posts a day that in February of 2014 it was estimated that there were 3.8 million cat pictures posted each day. Clearly the algorithms can’t put 3.8 million pictures of cats in your news feed each day. The algorithms became more sophisticated taking in to account other Social Media Optimisation factors such as keywords, length of message, quality of image, performance of person posting, engagement levels, time of day and more.

Morale to the story is that to be successfully seen in Organic results (real people) quality needs to be interpreted beyond creative to include Social Media Optimization (SMO). By using this strategy you can publish more messages across more platforms and achieve greater engagement and with further refinement by monitoring results data you can start to achieve customer segmentation and much more.

Much success,



The real and dangerous consequences; Has Calvin Klein gone too far?


Calvin Klein (CK) has always built their campaigns around positive moments in our sexual cultural history and exploited them in the most negative of ways. But with rising HIV rates is it correct to promote high risk sexual behaviour? CK’s proven formula is simple but effective. Take a point in cultural history that can be supported and then twisted into something scandalous and usually sexual and plead naive innocence. There has been one exception when CK forgot to start with a culturally relevant premise. CK  used underage models scantily clothed and in highly erotic poses then realized their was no “naive” statement they could fall back too; “Oops you mean pedophilia is bad? We didn’t know.” Just didn’t cut it . But others of more lasting fame followed the same pattern of “We are just simple people making some nice pictures . . . ” This latest “same sex” campaign follows this pattern and I will explain later why it is most dangerous but first a little history.

In 1980 Brooke Shields was a very big film star and at age 15 she appeared in what seemed like an innocent enough ad for Calvin Klein jeans (see photo) but the tag line set the world ablaze. “Nothing gets between me and my Calvin’s”.  CK’s response was, more or less, “she appears on screen with less on so what exactly is wrong with the pictures?” True enough, but having Brooke tell the world that someone would, or would not get in her pants may have been naive for a 15 year old child, but was very well understood by the adult who wrote the line.

This was followed a few years later by Marky Mark’s (who at the time was a Pop star looking to move into movies as Mark Wahlberg) underwear ads which featured fresh faced Marky Mark in one of the first male underwear ads. It was again just innocent, but the effect was full on. The gay world could not buy enough boxer briefs and if it was left at that it would have been fine. However, Marky Mark (Mark Wahlberg) at the time was strongly homophobic and that created, again, huge media scandal. Mr. Wahlberg went on record for using the “F” word in a response to a congratulations letter for his success from Elton John. Again we can say that at his young age Mark was naive, but the creators of the campaign new exactly the response to expect.

We now move to the latest campaign by CK where they are featuring the first same-sex advertisement ever. This seems like a very tame premise considering we have been witness to years of CK ads seeing gender blending in so many ways. I guess those were just orgies which is more pedestrian than the more progressive same sex ads they are now featuring. But again an innocent pretext with an scandalous hook. (Video) we see that it has little to do with same-sex rights making history and more about anonymous sex and hook up apps. As a gay man I have no issue with anonymous sex in fact I am on record as saying it is how we say hello. My issue is that under the thin veil of supporting same sex rights is the much more troubling consequence of HIV rates rising at a terrifying rate and the many other issues that come from high risk behaviour.

If CK is going to use this premise they should take responsibility and acknowledge early all that goes with it. The health, physical and emotional risks that come with random anonymous sex. This is no longer about mental imagery that comes from Brooke’s jeans or Marky’s boxer briefs. This is encouraging real world high risk behaviour and that has very real and immediate consequences. And as I stated in the beginning, whereas Brooke and Marky and myself at the time where too young to fully “get it” the creators of the campaigns understand very well, and now I am old enough to care.

Much success,


4 days, 2 Countries 9 industries: Intensive Social Media Strategy Optimisation Workshop

Mary Meeker daily use of stuff 700x400

I recently put a personal challenge to myself. I took on the task of designing and delivering an intensive 2 day social media strategy optimisation workshop for senior marketing members. Most who have asked me why I took on the task asked about the money or the potential contacts. I did not do it for either. With every thought leader at some time a healthy level of doubt should creep in as to whether what you are saying is really the truth. For me, unlike many other thought leaders in this emerging and quickly evolving industry of social/ digital, I am forced to deliver daily.  What I mean is that I have never had the luxury of deep pockets or forgiving clients. My knowledge came from almost 30 years of experience of hands on practical delivery and making smart, and sometimes really stupid, decisions tested against the world and validated with repeated success. Over this series of 9 blogs I am going to summarise what I taught, and more importantly what I learned. The areas covered will include but not be limited too (as I give myself the freedom to innovate or get losts as I choose).

  • Session 1: Social Media in 2015 and Beyond
    • Link so session 1 on Slideshare:
    • What we can learn from the past that will continue into th future
    • Evolution of human behaviour
    • Evolution of technology
    • The interaction of people, content and technology
  • Session 2: Social Media Competitive Analysis and Benchmarking
    • Identifying real KPI’s
    • Determining if competitors are really competitive or just smoke and mirrors
    • Developing a strategy of success based on truths and not perceptions
  • Session 3: Optimising Your Social Media Strategy
    • All the cogs in the machine that make it run
    • Social media is more science than art but,
    • Looking good is never a bad thing or not winning the ugly contest
  • Session 4: Content Editorial and Creation
    • The true test – do you publish for yourself or for your customers
    • Can a picture truly paint a 1000 words
    • How much can you communicate in .25 seconds?
  • Session 5: Brand Publishing
    • The concept of reticular
    • Identifying the key links that make the strategy grow
    • Different platforms, different purpose, same message
  • Session 6: Social CRM and Engagement
    • The 4th most demanded KPI is customer service response
    • Reputation management
    • Take care of #1 your customer
  • Session 7: Lead Generation and Social Selling
    • All those Fans and all that data and no ROI? Let’s change that
    • Predatory marketing strategies for positive lead generation
  • Session 8: Social Data Analytics and Reporting
    • It is ALL about the numbers

I hope that over the next weeks of summarizing and elaborating on these sessions I can stimulate some good conversations  and provide some insights that may be new or at least question the current path of social/ digital strategy.

Much success,


One world two systems: Three areas of divide Culture, Technology, Internal trade

These daze it seems all that it bright and sparkly either is news from China or made in China. We not all is a shiny and bright at it may seem. And no this is not a blog on the crippling smog in China. It is about something much more subtle but equally damaging. Please note that I am not making an indictment for or against China’s position I am merely going to describe it so business persons can make informed choices about commerce in or with China.Dougs Blog great firewall of china


Last week I attended a Salon hosted by Marc and Chantall a highly respected branding agency. The topic was the phenomenon of travel of Mainland Chinese. 100 million Chinese travelled outside the country in 2014 and the numbers go up and up. What is more interesting than the huge numbers wanting to travel outside the country is there reasons. The top reasons presented at the Salon was to see and be part of different cultures. A holiday was to truly “leave China”. A few of the sights from the salon are here. This in itself is not curious as many tourists look to alternative holidays to escape the common, but none as many as in China. Now the queer bit, this same week Beijing announced that textbooks that portrayed Western lifestyle would be banned from schools as reported by the Business Insider. So the curiosity is why so many Chinese are eager to leave “China” and the government is willing to let them then what exactly is the purpose of censuring textbooks?

Summary: Chinese are crazy to leave their country and experience new things. The marketing opportunity is to capture this opportunity. The home court advantage is where you can really shine.


The great “Firewall” of China has been in place since the beginning of Internet. It had been used to provide added benefit to China apps by limiting the effectiveness of other world apps. Baidu is the best example. For 10 years it was, for all intents and purposes, the only search engine in China. And with a business plan no more complicated than copy Google they still couldn’t find their ass with both hands tied behind their back. Some search engine. But Baidu was not built to be an effective search engine, it was designed to effectively filter and manage information. Google is now blocked in China including gmail and related apps. Instagram was the first app to have a native API to Sina Weibo, now shut down. Facebook has been shut out except for some rare opening that are more for show than use. Recently VPN traffic has been closed and now China is effectively  isolated from the digital world. Many have placed hopes on WeChat to reach the mainland audience and businesses are flocking to China agencies to help them set up and run WeChat accounts. What most don’t know is that without a Mainland China Business Registration your WeChat account will NOT reach the Mainland users. It is restricted to “Rest of world”. So as RenRen, Sina Weibo and Alibaba reach out to the West with IPO’s eager for new revenue sources, the China government says “It is a one way street going out only!”

Summary: China is a world unto itself. The only way to effectively reach China is through engaging with China travellers or to develop a separate strategy in China based exclusively on its digital norms and apps.

Freedom of Trade in China:

It is often a struggle for rest of world business to compete inside Mainland China. More than ten Years ago my boss at IBM made the statement “I can buy all the market share you want, but I can not earn you a profit”.  Whereas the finality of that statement might not have been completely true its message is clear and unchanged. Rest of world brands are finding narrowing margins and sliding sales as costs in China continue to rise and local brands enjoy better treatment and acceptance. An interview on Econsultancy with Clarins Head of Digital Julien Chiavassa describes clearly the challenges faced. The limited amount of sites to promote products form an almost monopoly that force ever higher tariffs as profits rise essentially neutralizing profit and incentive. From additional regulations, to limited sources for promotion and many other barriers, China systematically removes incentives to operate in China and it is getting worse not better. The direction China is taking is to replace rest of world brands with China brands. I have interviewed and talked to many rest of world brands, luxury, hotel, clothing, you name it and when I ask how are you “your company” doing in China. I am lucky if I get an “its ok”.


If you are doing business in China for anything other than export, good luck.

Much success,



http://www.PRDA.Asia is a leading social media management agency

Scrooge’d up this years social media? Time for a New Years Resolution!

This has been a ball buster of a year for social media especially in Asia. If you are a small business then you know how discouraging it can be trying to maintain a Facebook page and wondering why you are even trying??? Well its not all your fault and much better bigger and better funded companies have failed gloriously so, if it helps any, you are in good company.

dougs blog scrooge dec 2

What the F*** happened!?

The part that is not your fault:

  • Facebook cut way back on organic reach forcing everyone to buy advertising to be seen.
  • Whatsapp became a big player and did nothing!
  • Instagram is a huge player and did nothing!
  • Sina Weibo is a huge player in China and created chaos and confusion
  • Twitter remained itself. . .

-This chart shows 4 of Hong Kong’s most visible local brands achieving terribly low scores on social media effectiveness.

Hong Kong Fav Brands on Facebook Dec 2, 2014

What is your fault:

  • You tried to do it yourself or you hired some dumbass intern because they “were young and cheap”. Ask yourself, when deciding on a CFO, Obstetrician, or who is going to fly your private jet do you say, “Give me the young cheap one”.
  • Can your social media expert, even if it is you, name three factors that affect post performance on Facebook? Well can they????

The answer:

Social media is not one thing. It is a wide network of interconnected media channels with 2 very important components that make it work: People and Technology.

  • People is the number one answer why I hear so often “we are doing a good job on social media. People really seem to like our stuff”. But, in fact, the performance is #epicfail (see the picture). PR companies specialise in the “People” part of social media. All People experts are really pretty shit at it. Otherwise we would have perfect marriages, kids, be rich and thin and want to stay longer than 4 days when visiting our relatives. But we aren’t because we really aren’t that good with “People”.
  • Technology is the equalizer. It is a streaming source of numbers that do not lie, make value judgements, tells you your ass looks fat or that your homemade pumpkin pie tastes store bought. Numbers are Zen, they just are. . . Technology drives all social media in the form of algorithms. Algorithms make determinations about “People” based on frequency of keywords, activity at different times of day, past patterns of behaviour and many other measurable actions. And you know what? Algorithms are pretty good at people. They are better at People then People are much of the time. Social media and digital experts (SEO, data analysis, database engineers), these are the social media gurus. They calculate based on past preference what needs to be posted across what channels to get maximum direct and residual effect. Residual being last search results or continued appearance in newsfeeds, downstream posting, etc.So this year be smart, run your business like a business and make the hard choices based on “What makes you money!”.

Happy Holidaze,



SME’s cooperative social marketing. The future is sharing

The statement “the sum of the parts is greater than the whole” is a well known and is usually true. About 6 years ago, my agency PRDA proposed to one of the largest hotel chains a strategy to create an immensely powerful digital network to promote their brand, manage CRM and collect consumer data at a level never before achieved with a cost that actually saved them money. Out of this comes a model to (I don’t like this word) DISRUPT the advertising landscape for SME’s in a revolutionary way.  I share the highlights of the proposal here because the hotel industries structure helped to create the framework, technology and expertise for the cooperative social media/ digital marketing model. Cooperative marketing is the next revolution for SME’s. Numbers are easiest to understand and communicate the benefit of this model quickly



  • Hotel chain has 5000 hotels around the world
  • Each hotel may have:
    • Facebook
    • Twitter
    • WeChat
    • Instagram
    • Blog
  • Each hotel has approximately 10,000 real Fans. These are carefully cultivate Fans that have opted in based on interest in content and brand, not incentives or purchased.
  • These 10,000 Fans have an average organic reach at any given time of 50,000 people.
  • One message sent out:

50,000 * 5,000 = 250,000,000 organic views


  • Intensify application designed and built by PRDA
  • Centralized team providing:
    • Content and brand control from centralized team
    • Monitoring and analytics
  • Hotels provide 8 hours per month
    • Existing skill sets no new hires


  • Largest earned “owned” media network; global
  • Brand control
  • Fast and responsive (minutes not months)
  • Loyalty, viewers of content and “opt in”

Cost per message US$13,000

  • it is important to note that whereas the cost point is unattainable through any other media release, the brand control, ownership of the network, quality of viewers, and data are the real benefit



So how does this model designed for hotels benefit SME’s? The answer is simple, “the sum of the parts is greater than the whole”. In the above model, replace each Hotel with an SME. There are currently 25,000,000 SME’s active on Facebook alone. They all face similar difficulties:

  • Lack of resources and time
  • No budget
  • Skills for marketing/ digital marketing low to none

When the marketing potential of each is maximized using PRDA’s Intensify each SME receives the benefit of being part of a large network with efficiency, low cost and high reach with minimal contribution:


  • 8 hours per month
  • approximately US$600 dollars per month
    • Cheaper than print ads and more effective

25 million SME’s + 8 hours effort + US$600 per month + Facebook + Twitter + Sina Weibo + Pinterest + Instagram + Blogs + SERP =

largest cooperative advertising network based on organic

(real people doing real things) WOW!!!


This how Social Cooperation will change SME’s.

Much success,


China salaries increase: Water finds its level I hope we don’t drown

I sit on the edge of China in Hong Kong and I see the carpet baggers lining the streets telling fortune seekers from the West of cities paved of gold. Or in modern times where people have so much money the carry it around in duffel bags and the government needs to warn them of displaying too much wealth as it may be hazardous to their health. So is any of it true? Well like all good stories there is some truth and some fiction. Let’s hope for the sake of the global economy that there is more than a little fiction. A recent report by suggests that per capita income for the majority of Chinese citizens will double to between USD16 – 34k per year. That may not WoW many jaded Westerners as far as salaries go, but it makes a very big statement none the less. For global purchasing power, the individual consumer in China can now afford most anything.

Jing Daily China money distribution July 2014


Only a few years back the wage was significantly below what is considered the U.S. poverty level. Because of the cost of living in China these people were not necessarily in poverty per se. However, being below the “poverty line” definitely meant access to many non-essential purchases were beyond reach.  Now that is changing. India about 10 – 15 years saw a rapid increase in wages due to tech companies and BPO. But in India only a small segment of the population benefited. But in China it is estimated that a huge portion of the population will see this benefit. This huge portion of 1.2 billion people doubling their standard of living and now legitimately having access to goods and services will dramatically change the global economy. First off, those beloved trips to Walmart by Americans pushing their SUV sized shopping carts are probably going to become fewer. Simple business rules dictate that costs need to be passed on and with salaries getting bigger in China,  the rest of world’s shopping carts will get smaller.

Much success,