Social Media Elementals by @FellowCreative

Written for The National Consortium of University Entrepreneurs (NACUE)
Published 15/09/2010. Last updated 9/1/2011.

The Introduction

Hello. I’m Carl @FellowCreative *~)  Accepting NACUE’s invitation to supportinspireconnect, and become an advocate for over 65 university enterprise societies across the UK, representing in excess of 35,000 entrepreneurial students is both a great honour and a great responsibility.

As I sit down to write this I’m acutely aware that the NACUE Learning Programme provides a critical knowledge base for ever-changing Student and Academic Society Presidents and Committee Members. It aims to deliver you a thorough collection of guidance documents to cover all aspects of establishing, running and developing a successful University Enterprise Society. However, in some specialist and complex areas, delivering such complete, comprehensive, failsafe documentation can prove challenging and sometimes impossible – ‘Social Media’ is one such topic. I hope to cultivate your food for thought…

Agriculture - Elementals and Food for Thought

Plate XLVII from the Yearbook of Agriculture 1901
Original illustration licensed under creative commons by PerpetualPlum

Searching today (7th August 2010) for the term ‘Social Media’ puts ‘About 276,000,000 Results’ at your instant disposal. An abundance of blog posts and video tutorials, from tips on Search Engine Optimisation (SEO) strategies to marketing techniques to ‘build a brand on’ and ‘increase your number of followers’, etc – some results are very worthy of investigation, others are not.

This document will cover what I believe to be the important stuff, with a short list of recommended reading and resources at the end.

This ‘How To Use Social Media’ guide doesn’t promise you a one-size-fits-all step-by-step manual of Social Media techniques and strategies. Instead, without Technobabble (mostly), it will explore the values inherent in NACUE and the words: University, Enterprise and Society from the heart of my intuition and experiences, from between the lines of all I’ve read, done and learnt. I underline one fact: ‘communication channels, technologies, social norms and the digital landscape evolve globally, by the second – this means what exists today, may change tomorrow’. I really hope to inspire you to question your perception of Social Media and its potential value to you and others, thus empowering you to ‘work beyond What Is to deliver What Can Be™’. As the quote reads: “We can identify trends for the future but accurate predictions are impossible”.

In the realms of the World Wide Web (commonly called the Internet) and its related technologies, my most important advice is: place strategic bets but always retain your ability to pivot – prepare to fail forward!

The Social Web
Info-graphic by
Original image uploaded and licensed under creative commons by Evitc

What is the Social Web?

The Internet now provides an increasingly diverse and innovative set of tools that allows people to connect with others, share information, socialise and collaborate together. The term ‘Web 2.0’ is commonly used to refer to specific websites and applications (Apps) that help facilitate such interactive information sharing, interoperability and collaborations across the Internet as a whole (and I mean across multiple platforms and online spaces, not just within so-called social networks like that are in fact silos of information where lots goes in but very little can be shared with people outside its walls).

New websites, platforms, applications and features launch daily if not hourly. Information Architects Inc. created the diagram ‘Web Trend Map 3’ ( It is a brilliant example of information design and does an extremely good job of visualising the connected and distributed ecosystems of Web 2.0. The diagram shows a complex and interrelated version of an Underground Tube Map, with different zones and layers. Each tube line represents a different Web Trend (e.g. Gaming, Technology, Photos, News, Video, Social Network, Politics, Innovation, Music, File Storage, Blogging), and travelling along each tube line you find community stations at every stop (e.g.,,,,,,,,,

The term ‘Social Web’ loosely describes how people socialise or interact with each other throughout and across this interconnected map and World Wide Web. It is also important to note that these connections and interactions aren’t limited to computer screens – many of the latest devices, phone handsets, iPads and games consoles now provide both Internet and App integration and connectivity. And remember, this connectivity isn’t just stationary, it’s now ‘mobile’ and on the move.

The ‘Web Trend Map 3’ mentioned above, was in fact released in January 2008; much has evolved since. The Web Trend Map 4 (’09) and Web Trend Map 5 published in 2010 demonstrate just how quickly the Internet evolves and how the ecosystems and connecting structures of today will undoubtedly adapt and develop to suit the trends and technologies of tomorrow.

Until recently most people formed their online connections and social networks through friends, contacts or shared interests. However, today a growing number of connections are being made through a geographic location, a point of interest (POI), or other forms of location (GPS) data. The fields of Augmented Reality and Social Gaming are growing, and applications like are gaining traction and investment.

Increasingly, our Social Media activities and assets can be searched and identified not just by the Username(s), Publisher(s), Title(s) or Tag(s) but also by their context in time and space – e.g. a Digital Photograph taken on an iPhone or Nokia device already equipped with a global positioning system (GPS) receiver, will now likely contain (encoded into the digital file metadata) the actual mappable location (latitude, longitude, and altitude; plus the time) the photo was taken. In real-time and real-space.

The term ‘Semantic Web’ describes the methods and technologies that allow machines and devices to understand the meaning (and metadata) – or “semantics” – of information on the World Wide Web.

Only a few years ago online communication and audience engagement would have focused on a single location, your website. Broadcast monologues and advertising would have been used solely to drive customers to it. Today, we recognise that people increasingly hang out and socialise across multiple locations, different online spaces and social networks, they frequent multiple groups and tribes, and what’s more they’re now used to home delivery and on-demand. If you wish to engage them it must be within their territories, where they choose to hangout, on their terms, not yours. You must respect and value them as individuals, not as a number or mass-market. Respect has to be earned, and value(s) must be shared beyond price point.

Understanding Social Media Engagement
Engagement 1.0
Photograph licensed under creative commons by Mark Berry

What is Social Media?

It is safe to suggest that you, fellow academics, students, entrepreneurs, business leaders, marketers and technologists perceive, describe and wish to use Social Media in different ways. Most focus on ‘Social Media for PR’ or ‘Social Media for Marketing’ – hence the now somewhat throw-away terms ‘Social Media Marketing’ and ‘Social Media Consultancy’.

It seems that attitudes to the term ‘Social Media’ differ greatly and its definition seems increasingly meaningless – perhaps the inevitable result and downside of any buzz-terminology.

However, I presume: A) your University Society’s primary aim is to communicate your people-focused benefits and value(s), and B) you actually wish to engage and inspire conversations, to connect and share in activities with fellow academics, students and members. This document should help you focus on the inherent value(s) of using ‘Social Media for Audience Engagement’ – and not the questionable hijacking of Social Media channels and platforms for one-directional broadcasting of monologues or self-interested-selling as is so often the case with monetised minds and quick-win business ventures, sadly.

Christian Payne @Documentally, the man I personally recognise as the UK’s #1 Social Media Journalist says: “Social media is about communication, and community building. In the modern world with millions of people vying for attention, it’s not your presentation; it’s your connection to your community that’s important. To people bombarded every day with ‘brand’ and ‘monologue’, it’s the human touch that develops interest and loyalty. Put more simply, social media tools aren’t about you; they’re about the people you want to speak with.”

With article references and citations to Yale University Press and Penguin, (the worlds largest encyclopaedia, which is both freely available and user generated) defines Social Media as “media for social interaction, using highly accessible and scalable publishing techniques”. It goes on to say: “Social Media use web-based technologies to transform and broadcast media monologues into social media dialogues”. Now, assuming you’ve already heard some webby-speak banded about by your University ICT Department, and without wanting to get you technically lost or turn all geeky, Professor’s Andreas Kaplan and Michael Haenlein’s definition serves as a good introduction to some of the tech-terminology often associated with the realms of Social Media: “a group of Internet-based applications built on the ideological and technological foundations of Web 2.0, and that allow the creation and exchange of user-generated content.”

Parking the reference to ‘ideological foundations’ aside for later discussion I will attempt to demystify the different types of media and user-generated content that might be created or exchanged through Social Media. The acronym used by the threaded-conversation platform serves to suggest most people converse, connect and share through V.I.T.A.L: Video, Images, Text, Audio and Links (such Links may be to an online news article or website, a particular map location or point of interest (POI), a digital artefact of sorts. The possibilities grow daily…).

Thinking about Social Media in terms of socially VITAL exchanges and interactions makes it perhaps a little easier to understand the difference between Broadcast Media and Social Media. I use the acronym V.I.T.A.L with great emphasis on the essential definition of the word ‘vital’. Social Media is not about tools, technologies, websites or even the medium. It is about understanding the accepted social norms and enablers of human behaviour. It’s about retaining the core values of society, social engagement, inspirational conversation and participation, not eroding such norms or values with self-interested monologues or promotion. Being social is VITAL to inspiring, connecting, and engaging advocates, like-minds and people, truly supporting the development of an audience, tribe, society and community of inspirational friends and connectors.

In the introduction to his book ‘Life Inc’, Douglas Rushkoff writes:
“Sometimes it feels as if there’s just not enough air in the room – as if there were a corporate agenda guiding all human activity. At a moment’s notice any dinner party can slide invisibly into a stock promotion, a networking event, or an impromptu consultation – let me pick your brain. Is this why I was invited in the first place? Through sponsored word-of-mouth known as ‘buzz-marketing’, our personal social interactions become the promotional opportunities through which brands strive to be cults and religions strive to be brands”.

I constantly wonder to myself, and now I question you: Does the term ‘Social Media’ deserve a rethink?

Human Behaviour, Social-Norms and Elementals
Super Human Powers
Photograph licensed under creative commons by Esparta Palma

Social Media, Social Norms and ‘Elementals’

The theory of ‘Elementals’ is my own, it’s not an industry-recognised term or philosophy. I introduce it here not to confuse you, but to convey my continually developing thinking and ideology. Many of my concepts build upon already recognised principles: ‘Media Richness Theory’, ‘Media Naturalness Theory’ and Brian Solis’ ‘Hybrid Theory Manifesto’; and I remain inspired by the works of Sir Ken Robinson and motivations of Dan Pink.

Written by Sir Ken Robinson ‘The Element. How Finding Your Passion Changes Everything’ is an amazing book which I highly recommend to everyone – it’s certainly a must-read for anyone involved or interested in improving Education, Entrepreneurship, Creativity, Social Enterprise, Community Development or Civics and Society.

The book explores real people, as individuals, from the perspective of empowering passionate creativity, engagement, conversation and sharing, by firing up imaginations and motivations. Robinson suggests that when collections of people engage to create something much greater than any of them could create individually, they become more than the sum of their parts – he defines this as ‘the alchemy of synergy’. ‘The Element’ is the point at which natural talent meets personal passion.

I firmly believe that technology should be used to inspire and empower us to be better people – the Web’s potential to connect natural talents with passion and inspiration, provides you, us, our Universities, Enterprises and Societies, with a true catalyst for brilliance and value creation.

According to Wikipedia the term ‘Elemental’ refers to “a Mythological being” and “the ancient idea of elements as fundamental building blocks of nature”. The Oxford English Dictionary defines “a supernatural entity or force thought to be physically manifested”.

Through exploring the differences between the so-called Social Media and Social Networks online, in comparison to the super fundamental, super natural, ‘Elementals’ of social norms and human behaviour offline, you can begin to understand the valuable building blocks between the social and the media.

I define these ‘Elementals’ as: fun, authenticity, kindness, usefulness, challenge and inspiration – expressed and experienced through art, story-telling, memes and the wider human sense of friendship.

“Great teachers have always understood that their role is not to teach subjects but to teach students. Mentoring and coaching is the vital pulse of the living system…” ~ Sir Ken Robinson.

Measurement, Return On Investment (ROI) and Value
“Not everything that counts can be counted…”
Photograph licensed under creative commons by Beth Kanter

The Value and ROI of Social Media and its ‘Elementals’

There’s constant discussion and debate about the measurement and return on investment (ROI) of Social Media. Traditional industrialists, broadcasters and marketer minds are analytical, linear and strategic. They define measurement through a set of processes and numbers, numbers of followers, numbers of visitors and viewers, the number of potential customers, the number of sales – these minds simply don’t get the Web’s potential to create value (long-term and beyond profit) and develop long-standing relationships with and respect for people, education, entrepreneurship, society, and dare I say it ‘brand’.

For me, and hopefully you, the Value and ROI of Social Media can be found through focusing on ‘retention’, not recruitment. It’s not about the great numbers in Facebook groups. It’s in forming true communities of people and participants who engage to become more than the sum of their parts – through contacts, conversations and ideas, VITAL to inspiring, connecting, and engaging advocates – Social Return On Investment (SROI).

Through conversation with and listening to your societies and members as individuals, you can learn to answer all their questions and needs, empowering your forging of long-term relationships and friendships. Inevitably leading to improved ‘people-centred’ services and societies, and better understanding of future trends and values, and hopefully resulting in some additionally VITAL and much appreciated word of mouth.

Practical & Actionable Advice
Practical Pieces of Advice!
Photograph licensed under creative commons by Munir Squires

Practical & Actionable Social Media Advice:

In the realms of the World Wide Web (commonly called the Internet) and its related technologies, my most important advice to you is as follows:

  • Focus on ‘retention’ not recruitment! Cater to your existing community’s needs while placing strategic bets for the future, but always retain your ability to pivot – prepare to fail forward!
  • Think long-term flexibility, short-term scalability – Deliver today but plan for tomorrow!
  • Logic makes people think, emotions make people act! Organizational charts can show your Societies hierarchy and structure but sadly they don’t capture how your organization or Society really works. Social communities are not like mechanisms; they are more like organisms – each is different, each requires a different approach, and all continue to evolve.
  • Is your audience worthy of investment? Social Media is often viewed as an inexpensive tool for audience engagement. Many of the applications and media services are indeed free to use and simple to setup but Social Media is far from inexpensive if your time is valuable – be prepared to dedicate plenty of time and enthusiasm. Free tools and services are usually sustained by intrusive third-party advertising packages, be mindful that if something seems too good to be true, it usually is.
  • Great Products sell companies but Great People sell Services and Societies!
  • It’s about behaviour not tools!
  • People and participants who truly engage can become more than the sum of their parts. Supporting them is VITAL to inspiring, connecting, and engaging advocates!
  • Lead through example and education! Students, colleagues and potential advocates aren’t born knowing how to use Web tools and technologies, or how to navigate Legal Requirements, Copyright or Facebook Privacy Settings – explore your organizational policy towards Age Of Majority (legal terms of Understanding and Agreement) regarding student consent (to appear in content, photos or film), and explore Data Protection and Social Media Policy.
  • Investigate your ‘Audience Persona(s)’ (hypothetical archetypes)Understand your people!
  • Understand your own (personal and organisations) value(s) and identity – Adopt a relaxed but appropriate conversational tone and find your accent!
  • You have two ears and one mouth so listen twice as much as you talk – Talk with people, not at them!
  • Make VITAL content for individuals’ sensibilities! Effective conversation and engagement requires different media for, and understandings of, natural human sense(s) and ability (Visual, Auditory and Kinaesthetic learning and communications).
  • Attention to detail delivers 30% more engagement! Good Design, Copywriting, and Content Editing matters. *
  • Is it useful or is it compelling? And is it easily sharable or embeddable elsewhere? Social interaction encourages dialogue not monologue. Engaging conversation and content means ‘compelling, fun, authentic, useful, challenging and inspirational’ – often expressed and experienced through art, story-telling, memes and the wider human sense of friendship.
  • Share other peoples’ insights and timely goodness! Useful means contextual and relevant – not everything has to be written by you. Develop a network of relevance but always remember to credit your sources. It’s their content – respect it, and them!
  • Create the Theatre not the Play, but don’t be afraid to provide Props! Community Management means facilitation of multiple personas, tribes and belief systems across multiple places. Inspire participation and crucial debate, don’t dictate or control it.
  • Communicate organizational change quickly, simply, as it happens!
  • Admit your mistakes and lessons learnt! Expect and encourage constant dialogue, engagement and comments. The web is a conversation, so join in with clear and frequent feedback!
  • Test tools, features and viewer devices with users – accessibility is not an optional extra!
  • Make sure your content can be searched and linked to, forever! Optimize your content with continuity and useful Account Names, Usernames, Filenames, Categories, Permalinks, Tags (metadata), RSS, Trackbacks, Pingbacks and Hashtags (#Tag).
  • Google Yourself! Monitor value and success every day. Search your visibility metrics with services like ‘’, ‘’ and install ‘’ on your website(s) so you can measure progress, success and failure (find out if your existing website already has measurement tools and reporting to help guide your planning).

Thumbs Up! Recommended Tools & Apps
Thumbs Up!
Photograph licensed under creative commons by ChicagoGeek

Recommended Tools and Applications:

If your University, Enterprise or Society doesn’t already have a website (and even if you do), a good starting point is to sit down with 4-6 people (these should be actual students, potential users and members; not people in the organizational chain) and discuss what actually works and what doesn’t. Focus on needs, wants and values. Focus on retention not recruitment. Research what others are doing successfully and poorly; and if applicable explore your pre-existing websites, communication channels and legal policies. Go through the full list of highlighted points in the ‘Practical and Actionable Social Media Advice’ section of this document.

Once complete you should have a good understanding of your existing User Personas and your potential ambassadors. You should also understand your values, voice and tone. You should have a basic understanding of your VITAL media requirements and constraints – What media and application features do you need?

The following list outlines a host of my recommended tools and applications. Please make sure you examine your own internal policies and data-protection guidelines, and all the applications terms of service and subscription contracts, before you make any decisions – the responsibility to make the right choice for you and your Society is yours alone, not mine. Many of these services are privately owned and free-to-use (funded by advertising, most of which isn’t too intrusive) – but please remember, what exists today may change tomorrow: – is a free to use, semantic publishing platform with a focus on aesthetics, web standards, and usability. Often used for personal weblogs (blogs), it provides social media support through embeddable media, widgets and content aggregations; along with basic design/theme customization and community features like commenting, search engine optimization (SEO) and content sharing goodness such as RSS and Analytical Stats. The WP platform is also available as a free open-source product via; increasingly used by self-hosted bloggers and organisations (both personal and commercial websites), with a constantly developing array of community features and Plugins. is fully customisable, reliable and secure (as now used by – undoubtedly the UKs biggest social network; a free-to-use social utility that connects people with friends and others who work, study and live around them. Currently home to 500 million active users globally. Developments like Facebook Connect, Facebook Social Plugin, Mobile App, Facebook Questions, Social Gaming Apps and GEO location features (Facebook Places), mean it’s here to stay and an extremely valuable channel for audience engagement. Keep up to speed with Privacy Settings and remember, Facebook is currently a silo of information – place strategic bets but always retain your ability to pivot! – a free-to-use micro-blogging platform with a limit of 140 characters per post or update (commonly known as a tweet). Defined as ‘the best way to share and discover what is happening right now’, much of its success has been built upon dedicated mobile apps and third party services. Increasingly being used by Students, Enterprises and Societies it is likely to prove a valuable part of your conversational and personal connection toolkit. Daily content and conversation can be searched, shared and aggregated across the Web in the form of RSS Feeds (and increasingly JSON), and embedded into websites and blogs (as well as such things as auto-updating your Facebook and LinkedIn status). Hashtags (#Tag) and Twitter Lists are two ways in which you can organize information, people, members and groups but Twitter continues to make deals with the likes of Google Realtime and DataSift so expect frequent change and new features relating to real-time and real-space. – a free-to-use image and video hosting website, web services suite, and online community. In addition to being a popular website for users to share and embed personal photographs, the service is widely used by bloggers to host images that they embed in blogs and social media. Free accounts provide some extremely useful but limited features (low quality image hosting and sharing, creative commons licensing, etc.). A subscription fee (approximately £16 per year) provides ad-free browsing and sharing features, archiving and search facilities, high-definition imagery and HD video hosting, accessible viewer counts and statistics and unlimited uploads, storage and bandwidth. (Also worth checking out Google’s option: – a free-to-use interactive online video platform for uploading, sharing, enhancing, tagging, commenting on, and forming groups around videos. Competing against the more popular (and services like, and, Viddler provides an ad-free subscription account and some additional business specific services. is likely to remain the Web’s largest community library of searchable video content so I’d certainly recommend Optimising, Tagging and Uploading your content to it but I’d recommend investigating Viddler as your core video sharing service. Equipped with video analytics, HTML5, brand-able and customizable video players and an impressive feature-set of embeddable Viddgets. – because sound is social and real voices are personable. AudioBoo provides a free-to-use mobile and web platform that effortlessly allows you to record and upload audio for your friends, family or the rest of the world to hear. With a diverse community of users, from Journalists to Independent Podcasters, Musicians to people having everyday conversations. It might just spark your imagination for the potential uses of sound and provide you with a simple insight into the more complicated world of Podcasting, iTunes, non-streamed webcasts and digital media syndication (as well as a host of other audio services:,,,,, and, etc.). – is a free-to-use business-oriented social networking site. It is mainly used for professional networking. With 75 million registered users, spanning more than 200 countries and territories worldwide, it provides a continually developing set of features that allow you to share your career development, contacts, life, blog posts, tweets, upcoming events etc. with a growing network of professionals and industry groups. – start with a free account, upgrade at anytime. MailChimp provides an email marketing service to design, send, and track HTML email campaigns with a simple set of tools. An ad-supported but fully functional account provides the capacity to send 3,000 emails per month to up to 500 subscribers. A Pay-As-You-Go account removes any third-party advertising, and a range of monthly subscription packages can cater for an unlimited number of emails (approximately £20 per month if your mailing list is no bigger than 2,500 members). – is a free online survey software and questionnaire tool. Create and publish online surveys in minutes, and view results graphically and in real time. A free account allows up to 10 questions per survey and a maximum of 100 responses, while a monthly subscription (approximately £20) provides customisable and branded survey tools with unlimited questions and responses, and downloadable results and analytics. – a free-to-setup online event registration tool, everything you need to bring people together for an event and sell tickets. Creating an event page and adding it to your blog or website takes about 5 minutes, define your ticket types and price, track sales and attendees with an event summary – simple. Eventbrite takes a small commission on the tickets you actually sell. Additional features include event/conference Name Badge design, etc. – allows you to shorten, share, and track links (URLs). Reducing the URL length makes sharing easier, especially if you’re using services like that limit your updates (tweets) to 140 characters in length. also provides management and analytics for your shortened links so you can track popular links and traffic locations. is still a relatively new service, free-to-use and currently free from ads. It is certainly useful and I recommend it, but make sure any links you use within your own website content don’t reference because if doesn’t exist tomorrow neither do all your shortened links. – Live video streaming from your mobile phone or webcam (other live-streaming services include and ‘now Skype owned’ Bambuser lets you instantly share your experiences with friends, family and followers all over the globe, whilst at the same time interacting with your audience through web-to-mobile chat. Bambuser also integrates with a wide range of global platforms and social networks, such as Facebook, Twitter and Myspace, as well as your blog or website – you decide where you want to share your real-time broadcasting experiences. Commercial packages are available; otherwise ad-support is likely. – is a desktop and web program for managing and sharing research papers, discovering research data and collaborating online. For a University or student Society, Mendeley’s growing popularity and social sharing features make it a potential gold-mine for inspirational content, connections and advocates – certainly one to look into! – creates an online newspaper built from all the articles, blog posts, videos and photos shared on Twitter – Newspapers can be created for any Twitter user, list or Hashtag (#tag). is an interesting example of how content, people and advocates from different places might be brought together (aggregated) to provide something greater than the sum of their parts. Other *filtering by collective trend* services like help demonstrate what is both technically possible and increasingly popular. – is a social micropayment platform (somewhat similar to the more widely known Developed to help support you and the organizations and Societies people like. Adding a Flattr-Button to your website content might well help you fund future activities. Flattr is the newest and least proven service on my recommendations list; but if you’ve got some worthy content and Society activities planned it might be worth further investigation. – is a location-based social networking service that gives people around the world a new way to communicate and express. Users ‘check-in’ at Spots in their local vicinity, either through a dedicated mobile application or through the mobile website. As a reward users will sometimes receive virtual items from check-ins. With 150,000 active users in April 2010, this is certain to increase into 2011. As crazy as the concept may sound, if you want to explore the potential of social gaming and GEO location for community building and Society engagement this is my recommended place to start. – is a free web analytics solution that gives you rich insights into your website traffic and marketing effectiveness. Powerful, flexible and easy-to-use features let you see and analyze your traffic data – enabling you to write better-targeted content and strengthen your marketing initiatives. Google also provide Email services and a suite of Google Apps (document, presentation, spreadsheet and collaboration tools). If you are looking for more specific business performance monitoring it might be worth investigating and – is a free service that checks your society/group/business/brand ‘name’ against a global registry of website domain names and social media account status’, to indicate their availability or current use. Ud’s is not the only online service providing such ‘name research and analysis’. NameCheckList is also worthy of investigation, it provides ‘goodness’ analysis on search engine results for ‘names’ on Google, YouTube, Yahoo! and Flickr. If you do decide to purchase a domain name I recommend checking (sure you can buy domain names cheap elsewhere but for customer service and useful/scalable features they’re a solid point of call for small organisations, SME’s and NGO’s). – helps you understand and potentially leverage your influence, audience reach and engagement online. The industry of social media measurement and influence analysis is still in its infancy. Alongside Google Analytics, NameCheckList and other free services like, Klout provide a somewhat solid foundation for exploration. Klout Labs are working on additional paid services: Social Search, Media Management, Customer Relationship Management (CRM) and Lead Generation. Other social metric services are also very worthy of investigation:,, – is far from perfect, but does provide you the ideal introduction to an important topic – Social Media Policy. PolicyTool helps streamline the process of policy development. Answering a brief questionnaire provides you with a customized document upon which to build. Social Media Policy is not yet a legal requirement but there are certain aspects of it that you really should be aware of. Please make sure you examine your own internal policies and data-protection guidelines, and all the applications terms of service and subscription contracts, before you make any decisions – the responsibility to make the right choice for you and your Society is yours alone, not mine. – is a non-profit corporation dedicated to making it easier for people to share and build upon the work of others, consistent with the rules of copyright. Free licenses and other legal tools mark creative work with the freedom the creator wants it to carry, so others can share, remix, use commercially, or any combination thereof. Providing a flexible range of protections and freedoms for authors, artists, and educators. – is a digital storage service that syncs your files online for backup and sharing. Put your files into your Dropbox on one computer, and they’ll be instantly but securely available to you (and those you choose/invite) via any other computers (or mobile devices) with Dropbox installed (its even cross-compatible with Windows, Mac, and Linux). A basic 2GB Dropbox account is free, with additional Pro storage available from £6.50 per 50GB (approximately). – is a free, web-based, collaborative, multilingual encyclopaedia project supported by the non-profit Wikimedia Foundation. If you require additional information or further explanation of the concepts explored in this document Wikipedia is a good place to start your research, but please be advised that it is often not seen as an acceptable academic source for reference or citation.

[A few additional things to watch out for include:,,,,,,,,,,,,,,,,,,,,,,,,]


Quite simply, I really do hope that my insights inspire you to question your perception of Social Media and its potential value to you and others, thus empowering you to ‘work beyond What Is to deliver What Can Be™’. As the quote reads: “We can identify trends for the future but accurate predictions are impossible”. I wish you good luck!

I’m off to develop some real-space dialogue, research the information ecology and realms of social cultivation, joining dots with an emphasis on discovery not theory (more info here if you’re at all interested).
Positive thoughts, Carl. *~)

In March 2010, as part of the National Student Enterprise Conference, NACUE invited Carl Jeffrey of to share his experiences, insights and beliefs surrounding Social Media and the ever-changing digital landscape. Although Carl insists he’s neither a Social Media Consultant nor an academically qualified Marketer, in recent years his reputation as a design innovator, educator, trend spotter, commentator and facilitator has grown rapidly through involvement in social media communications and the wider social web – his clients include UK Universities, the Worlds #1 Sustainable Technology Company and the UK’s #1 Specialist Social Media Agency – his bio reads ‘Creative Midwife™ & Joiner-of-Dots… attracted to inspiration & shiny things…’

Recommended Reading and Resources:

Social Media for Audience Development and Community Building:
Engaging Through Social Media (a PDF Guide aimed at Civil Servants)
Brain Solis: Hybrid Theory Manifesto (broken into three parts)
Information Architects Inc. created the diagram ‘Web Trend Map 3’
13 Qualities of a good Social Media Voice
The Impact of a good Editor on Content*
Helen Keegan: Social Media, Education, Industry – and motivation
RSA Video – Daniel Pink on intrinsic motivation
The 15 Web Principles as published by the BBC
Sound-bites about social-media usage and strategy – some are worth your attention, others are not
Habbo Hotel ( – understanding and developing your user Personas
How to manage a Sustainable Online Community
Seth Godin: Tribe Management
Where does responsibility for digital communications sit within a large organisation?
Should publishers be running towards or away from Facebook
A Guide to Facebook Social Plugins
A Collection of Social Networking Statistics for 2010
Information Age vs Attention Age
Please be very mindful of Information Gluttony
Ken Robinson: the moving case for creating an education system that nurtures
Matt Ridley: When ideas have sex
Seven Lessons from games for transforming engagement
57 Social Media Policy Examples and Resources
Teaching Digital Literacy and Citizenship
How to Get More Privacy From Facebook’s New Privacy Controls
The Internet Identity Workgroup for Identity Commons
Douglas Rushkoff – Life Inc.
(ISBN 978-0-141-04525-2. Book available at
Ken Robinson – The Element, how finding your passion changes everything
(ISBN 978-0-224-08203-7. Book available at

Support Notes for #NSEC Presentation
Social Media Marketing for Entrepreneurs

Yesterday (28/03/2010) I took part in a Social Media Marketing panel at the National Student Enterprise Conference hosted by @nacue

I was honored to accept the invitation to share my experiences of the Social Web but before I said yes to anything I did make it very clear that I am neither a Social Media Consultant nor a qualified marketeer – it was only later that I discovered whom else was on the panel – I was humbled to be in the presence of Penny Power, Ryan Pinnick and Hermione Way! ;-)

I’d also like to thank all the enthusiastic folk I met yesterday – your energy, tweets and blog posts were/are greatly appreciated =)

Social Media Marketing Panel

Here’s a written summary of my somewhat non-linear Slideshare presentation (below). Please also note I’ve adapted my original post to include some thoughts that stem from the panel session – the trend lists at the end are my thoughts alone.

Zig Ziglar
(the sales guru) suggests every sale has Five Basic Obstacles:

No need
No money
No hurry
No desire
No trust

I believe: traditional marketing and advertising place a focus on the first two (they present a market need and provide an affordable price-point) but Social Media and Conversation can help tackle the last three by developing/empowering long-term relationships and personable trust/transparency between people/individuals through passion/enthusiasm and understanding – I paraphrase @PennyPower when I say ‘Social Networks (online and off) are built upon friendship’ – helping, listening and inspiring – not through traditional marketing, advertising, selling or preaching!

I believe: modeling/building/funding/supporting Social Media platforms and Social Interactions through unsocial behaviors such as selling, ego, marketing and advertising present much pause for concern and contemplation – its not sustainable, it only devalues the words ‘Social’ and ‘Friend’!

Zig Ziglar suggests “People don’t buy for logical reasons, they buy for emotional reasons” and these are 9 points from Zig’s 11 point list for establishing a sale:

1. Establish value before you quote a price
2. Involve your customer with your product as quickly as possible
4. Focus on relationships not transcription
5. Ask high gain and high impact questions
6. Accept the fact that some prospects really don’t want to think it over
7. Logic makes people think, emotions make people act
8. Make it easy for the buyer to buy
9. Interpret your benefits not your features
10. Listen first, then explain

I believe: many ‘short-sighted and traditional’ Marketeers and Brands see the above behaviors through traditional lenses and sadly they are manipulating them for short term financial gain – this is not sustainable! I urge anyone venturing into the Social Web to buy a pair of binoculars and look at the bigger picture! >its growing by the day!<

I believe that being Social (online and off) can empower everything on the above list – please realize that there are no quick wins in regards to a financial return and it should not be the number one driving force – being ‘Social’ and being a ‘Friend’ is unlikely to make you a millionaire but it will develop you as a person and it’ll certainly make you opportunity rich! its truly amazing how many people want to help a friend who’s helped them!

I believe Great Products sell companies but Great People sell services!

I believe you’re not defined by your job title or brand positioning statement. You’re defined (perceived and valued) by ‘what you actually do’, the way you spend your time, the conversations you have and the authenticity of your voice when married with your actions – why not help others by tweeting or blogging about your inspirations and experiences (photos, relevant links, audioBoo’s etc)? If you are passionate about what you do as an entrepreneur, surely it can only be a good thing to build connections, learn how to do things better and to develop yourself and others as people? accept criticism and sign-posts along the way, make them constructive! remember, its about the journey, not the destination! sincerity will shine through, such things are impossible to fake long term, as some marketers and brands are already finding out! ‘-)

What do you think folks?


Re. Student Questions: these are my trending observations and predictions, hopefully they’ll provide food for thought ‘-)…

Industry Trends

  1. Crowd sourcing ideas/products (E.g. ChatRoulette’s remove perverts prize, and services like Groupon)
  2. Social Media Policy (E.g. Policy Guidance & PolicyEspresso)
  3. Geo-location & Augmented reality (mapping data in locational context – QR & RFID tags vs Gowalla and Foursquare – earn points/prizes through loyalty interactions)
  4. New scaling/working models: co-working and freelance collaboration
  5. Recommendation Engines and ROI Measurement (collecting, analyzing and measuring data, conversation, networks, purchases etc)
  6. Real-time (including mobile video/content streaming and data search)
  7. Mobile Payment Systems (square, PayPal, Bump and NFC’s N-Mark)
  8. Open Data – government and service APIs

    {*My prediction and tipped field to watch*}
    Multi-dimensional narrative (authenticity, story-telling and play within/across conversation, Facebook Games, Online Marketing and iPad Apps – including new ‘add value’ dimensions to publishing, promotion and engagement – this is where my long-term money is on services like Gowalla over the likes of Foursquare, in my mind they have two very different social narrative values)

Industry/User Challenges

  1. Up-to-speed Education (online identity, ethics,tools) – Related topics: Chat Roulette, OpenID, OAuth & TwitterAuth to reduce identity phishing scams and spam, services like SocialSentry now offer businesses the ability to track employees via social networks and conversations on twitter/Facebook/etc.
  2. Proprietary/Open-Source, Monetization & Measurement (Subscriptions/Freemium/Advertising/Free)
  3. Accessibility & Compatibility for multiple devices and navigation types (muti-touch vs browser, desktop vs mobile, Surface vs iPad etc. – including the evolution towards gesture based interaction like Jonny Lee’s genius, SeaDragon and technologies like Canesta – expect to see interface evolve towards more physical interactions like BumpTop and SixthSense)
  4. Law & Legislation – Related topics: Digital Economy Bill, Google in China, Social Media Policy and Facebook T&Cs
  5. Understanding transparency vs engagement – we don’t consume, we filter and question (government, business, advertising) – large businesses need to find/develop passionate and inspiring staff, entrepreneurs should be naturals!
  6. Data-legacy & Sustainable Hosting (Eg. dead short-url links, backup and
  7. Data Publishing & Distribution – Related Topics: Publishing Industry vs Apple/Google/Facebook… iPad – Flash vs HTML5 video…

Summary Insights:

  1. Traditional marketing is not a ‘social’ activity so don’t apply its mindset to Social Media or Social Networks – Related topics: Top down vs bottom up, one directional vs multi-directional, multi-channel multi-media/um)
  2. Facebook, Twitter and LinkedIn are all very different – please recognize/realize this!
  3. If you’re starting a website I suggest ‘self-hosting it for a minimal fee’ and host its content where possible (but make sure its shareable and embeddable elsewhere) and build in measurement tools (I recommend WordPress and Google Analytics – then SEO and Google Adwords can come later – at least build the foundations with a sensible database format like MySQL/XML)
  4. Social Media is the playground of Individuals, agile business’s and entrepreneurs
  5. Social Media’s real strength is in its possibilities, ideas and connections to inspiring minds and challenging opinions
  6. If you choose to use Social Media then be prepared to participate (build identity/trust/respect/transparency/connections through participation in conversations and inspiring/useful/unique content) – listen and learn, apply the 2 ears 1 mouth philosophy of a BarCamp – be prepared for criticism and address it, don’t brush it under the carpet – focus on quality not quantity, long ‘unique’ blog posts are worth much more to your community than short posts of information they can already find elsewhere ‘don’t create noise, create gems!’ – build your content into a story, narrative is often engaging if it has a plot!
  7. Please be aware that 3rd party services can and will change their business models – I personally believe services like Twitter will start charging businesses and providing limited data (API) access to individuals very soon (its likely other services will start advertising in your content feed), don’t put all your eggs in one basket in terms of YouTube for video, check great services like (its equipped with widgets and analytics) and be aware of using short url services ( is my current preference but even I’ve got a long list of improvements to make to my blog)
  8. Social Media Communication is not a replacement for traditional marketing, attending events or real-world face-to-face meetups or conversations over coffee/beer, it is simply a supporting channel – get out and meet people! put your twitter address on your business card and use #hashtags! > when social online meets social offline true value is realized (both ROI and SROI FTW!) see >, Tuttle.101 and many more!

Please do checkout these resources – click the links below:

This is a better introduction to me >my @fellowcreative padawan blog-post<
Do you have a Facebook?
BBCs Virtual Revolution series (you should find all 4 episodes on YouTube)
TED Video on Creative Commons
Online Ethics and Digital Legacy
The UK Digital Economy Bill
Entrepreneurship Advice from the founders of Air B&B (4 episodes in total)
The future of Game & Play
(watch the embeded video!)
Seth Godin’s post entitled ‘The Ubiquity of Competition’
(check all his blog content!)

The Social Web for SMEs & NGOs

Dear SME and NGO’s: The text below was published in October 2009. A newer 2010 article may provide yet further insight: Social Media Elementals.

The following information is not supplied as legal advice or consultancy, it’s quite simply a small offering of my continually developing experience and thought process. If you are a small business owner or third sector employee I hope it proves useful by delivering food for thought.

I am not a Computer Programmer or Web Developer, nor am I a Social Media Consultant, but I do pay them to work alongside me.

I designed and launched this very website 6 months ago but due to time limitations and cashflow its never had all the features I’d ideally like. However, during the past 6 months it has still received over 11,000 visits, equating to over 20,000 page views. In terms of well known blogs or online content resources these statistics are minuscule but I think they may prove to be of interest given some key facts: at no point have I spent any money on marketing or print promotion, nor have I paid for services like Google Adwords or Search Engine Optimization (SEO); but perhaps even more interestingly ‘I deliver services based on experience and ideas, I don’t actually sell any online products’ and I’ve written no more than 22 blog posts (this one now being the 23rd).

I decided to write this blog post for five key reasons:
1) a new client asked me my thoughts on evolving their existing website and content to make it more engaging, measurable and profitable. 2) over recent years many organizations and individuals have approached me to ask similar questions. 3) increasingly I meet traditional marketing folk who now call themselves ‘Social Media Marketeers & Consultants‘ because they’ve recently got a blog and started promoting their clients using Facebook, YouTube and Twitter. 4) on a daily basis I see utterly useless blog posts with titles like: ’20 ways to make money from your website’, ’50 ways to get your website noticed’, ‘Social Media is the new sales model’ and ‘Top 10 Twitter Tips’… but the 5th and most important reason I decided to publish this post is because I’ve seen very few consultancies or marketeers actually practicing and demonstrating what they preach by making public their very own statistics, mistakes and experiences (separate from the rarely released client case study).

Surely people and organizations are defined by what they actually do, not by what they tell others to do.

Social Media is now a trend, and sadly many individuals and organizations have a tendency to follow the crowd without really questioning or understanding if its actually the right direction or medium for them.

Before you read any further I must make it clear that this very site was not cheap to setup, I spent a lot of my own billable time designing the brand aesthetic and planning the scalable site functionality that sits somewhat behind the scenes, and even though I have long-term partnerships with trusted developers it still cost me over £3000 of my own physical cash to implement at the standard I’d expect (I even used a FREE open-source platform called WordPress) – if I’d delivered the same specification and man hours to a client I would have charged them £6,500 minimum.

Now with the above said, and given my day to day experience of clients, its likely you’ll be sat on one side of a dividing line, one side will be of the opinion that £6,500 is far too expensive for ‘a simple website with no payment facilities’, and the others will be sat enthusiastically amongst some large competitors, but still telling themselves and others that they haven’t got enough budget to create the ‘shiniest website with all the trendy features’. I will now attempt to navigate the pro’s and con’s of such a dividing line, but first I offer some context and much needed background:

I was introduced to The Internet and World Wide Web in 1997 (aged 17), by which time I’d already become the family help-desk for programming central heating systems, repairing Microsoft Office macro viruses and fixing Microsoft Windows 3.11 / 95 issues. I was also the sales assistant at Staples who sold ‘the right product, not the most expensive business machine’ to the clueless parent customers who wanted a computer for young Jimmy to do his home-work on. I used plain English and simple explanations instead of jargon terms like Mhz, RAM and Macro Virus.

Before Google was founded in 1998 I’d already designed and hand-coded my first commercial client website compliant with HTML 3.2 and I’d become truly inspired by the potential of digital technologies and shiny things. By early 1999 I’d purchased my first domain name and done enough commercial work to fund my first mobile phone. I purchased my first Apple in 2001 but I’d been using Apple Macintosh’s and Photoshop since Art College in 1996.

I think its safe for me to call myself an early adopter (some might say Geek), but its also clear that I didn’t and couldn’t envisage the Digital World in which we live today, nor could I imagine that I’d now be recognized by the leading technology brand that built my first mobile handset or be facilitating thinking at the UK’s largest specialist Social Media Agency.

With the above outlined I will say again: I am not a Computer Programmer or Web Developer, nor am I a Social Media Consultant. I am a Creative Midwife™ and Joiner-of-Dots; I deliver ‘What Can Be’ by joining dots between ideas, people and technologies.

I must also make clear that my mind and enthusiasm for technology has never been driven by consumerism or the latest materialistic fashion. I am driven by possibility and I believe: 1) if something is not broken then there is no need to fix it. 2) form follows function. 3) if you plan and choose well you buy few. 4) if you opt for the cheapest option it will undoubtedly prove to be the most expensive in the long-term. 5) an author can’t engage everyone by telling a single inspirational story, but if they choose to release a range of short stories amongst a group, at least one is likely to be shared (amongst or beyond the group) to inspire more engagement with their works.

As an insight to belief number three: the 1st Generation iPhone (2G) I purchased in 2007 is still my chosen mobile phone handset today (its only my third mobile phone in over ten years). Sure I use almost every feature it has to offer but I see no real ‘sustainable’ benefit in upgrading it to the latest iPhone 3GS (or any other device currently on the market). My first mobile phone was a Nokia 6110 purchased in 1999, in 2003 I purchased a Sony CMD Z7 which I used for four years until my iPhone purchase (its also worth noting that I gave my Sony CMD Z7 to my dad and although he doesn’t use the Email or Mobile Internet functionality for which I bought it, he does still use it today).

Likewise to my iPhone, neither of the early devices were the cheapest but because I understood exactly what I needed them to do and how my requirements for them might evolve I managed to make each investment last 4 years (which in terms of technology is a very long time indeed). Yes there is now a newer version of the iPhone available but its not that much quicker than the one I bought two years ago, and even though the new release has video capability, the camera quality still isn’t good enough for me to do with it what I’d like. Even now, probably a year before such a device is released, I can say that my next handset will allow me to create both low and high-quality image/video content at different resolutions at the flick of a switch, the camera lens will swivel 360° and have zoom functionality, it will allow me to live-stream video to the internet without a need for a permanent WiFi connection, as well as be equipped with the existing Mac compatible syncing and web-based feature-set I require for my work (including all the online conversation and application integration I already use on a daily basis). You might also be interested to know that I did in fact type-up, upload and edit parts of this blog post via an iPhone WordPress application; I also have an iPhone application that enables me to view the real-time Google Analytics for this very site.

During recent years my career and enthusiasm has left me privileged enough to play with the latest gadgets and Nokia prototypes, I’ve embraced social networking head-on (I started using on 16 December 2007, at least a year after I’d joined Facebook), and before most people had even heard the term ‘Social Media’ I was employing the talents of ‘now widely recognized professionals’ such as Social Media Journalist Christian Payne (@Documentally) and Social & Learning Technologist Josie Fraser (@JosieFraser). More recently I find myself pioneering video conversation platforms like Phreadz and exploring the potential of live-streamed video direct to (and from) a mobile device.

When I purchased my first mobile phone in 1999 I perceived its function as being ‘a central point of contact for me to make and receive phonecalls and txts whilst mobile, so I could keep in touch with and be contacted by others’. In hindsight I now believe the role of the mobile device has evolved to be much broader (some might say its always needed a broader description).

I now suggest it is a device to ‘manage and enhance communication, connection, expression, education and inspiration’ that helps deliver ‘mobile conversation, interaction and content to not only my fingertips and senses but those of my community, wherever we are’ – thus making engaging media increasingly accessible and more ‘digitally social’.

And being bold I suggest that such a description should be the leading thought amongst anyone building or commissioning websites or online marketing from this day forward.

Please note I use the term ‘digitally social’ as a precautionary phrase because I don’t want anyone to think that I see digital ‘virtual-world’ communication as a superior replacement to actual face-to-face ‘real-world’ interaction when in fact I don’t believe anything will ever be better than a conversation in a ‘real-world’ café over coffee or a Guinness.

The main point I’m trying to make here is that ‘socially engaging communication’ does not take the form of a traditionally published press release or one-directional article on a static website or homepage. It does in fact arrive in various distributable *multi-directional* shapes and sizes which can be shared across and added to all manner of other websites, devices and applications, and accessed everywhere and anywhere, through monitor, touchscreen, keypad or API, and more often than not without any need for a user login. Most importantly, because different people communicate in different ways and like to be communicated to in different ways, conversational and engaging content is multi-channel, it takes the form of videos, images, text, audio, links and any other expressive medium you care to think up.

Back in 1997, whilst I was hand-coding my first websites, I watched businesses discover the Internet trend, they very quickly went from spending £6,500 on the design and print of 8,000 brochures, to having expectations of ‘spending less’ but instantly having more than 8,000 potential customers on their website. Just like many others at the time, I perceived a business website as an online version of a business brochure (with a few interactive bits thrown in to enhance engagement) but for at least the past four years I’ve understood, created and interacted with websites, brands and online content in a completely different way. But I suggest that many key folk still haven’t noticed this fundamental evolutionary shift.

It appears that a difference in perception now forms a fundamental barrier in brand communication, social engagement and most importantly ‘positive social change’ – and I can’t help but feel that many businesses and NGOs (who are potentially key ‘content producers’ and ‘citizen journalists’ for social good) haven’t yet grasped a simple related fact:

Online communication is no longer about having a web-based brochure containing one-directional promotional spiel supported by some retouched photos, a list of positive testimonials and a contact form; nor is it about setting up your own ‘walled and branded’ social network or forum. It is actually about *being ready and prepared* to connect with people on their terms, where they like to hangout, without giving them a sales pitch or trying to distract them with an advertising banner, but by providing them with some useful, thought provoking and inspirational content of actual substance (something that they want to share or engage with). Having a website is in fact only a small part of a much larger network of communication activity (both online and offline), where engaging content, personal inspiration and useful community connection actually rises above the noise – to an inter-connected and open domain; a platform for people to promote your message, support your values and inspire others to engage with you directly – welcome to the social web!

The Web Trend Map below may help put your business website into perspective (please remember that this image is only a small section of a much bigger picture).


Image: : Web Trend Map 3 Original image uploaded and licensed under creative commons by Evitc

Now I’ll try to explain how I followed my outlined principles to float above the noise and deliver over 20,000 page views within 6 months; only publishing 22 blog posts and without spending anything on marketing or promotion (or generating any SPAM or eNewsletters).
I’ll also explain what I believe to be my return on investment [ROI], plus the additional social return on investment [SROI].

I intend to explore how I implemented WordPress.Org as both a Content Management System (CMS) and Blogging Platform to develop a scalable and adaptable website with a life expectancy of at least two years (hopefully four years). I’ll cover both my WordPress Statistics, Google Analytics, URL Monitoring, Comments and Trackbacks. I’ll cover my use of Social Media and what value and time I give to it (in addition to my continuous client deliverables, real-world networking, event attending and presentation commitments). I will also cover the value a well executed design instantly added to my site in regards to Google Rankings and FREE Third Party Promotion. I’ll explain why I haven’t yet paid for Google Adwords or Search Engine Optimization (SEO). I’ll close by trying to explain my current Google Ranking and so called ‘strategy’ for the next 6 months.

To be continued… this document is constantly evolving, now replaced by this.