It’s time for change.

There are many reasons why unconscious bias needs to be discussed and addressed within the IT industry.  One of those is that there will be more STEM jobs in the future, and if fewer women study those subjects and work in that industry now, they are even futher likely to be impacted.

And there’s plenty of evidence about why gender diversity is so important, and companies with greater gender diversity at the board level perform better and have better reputations.

But 70% of women who graduate with a STEM degree do not stay in STEM post 5 years.  One of the reasons for that is that we need to feel like we belong.  I’ve experienced folks from Catalyst who talk about the importance of belonging.  In fact, they have a rather handy page on why diversity and inclusion matter, with links to relevant research.

And we *all* have a role to play in inequality.  Conscious bias clearly does still exist, and is dangerous.  But unconscious bias goes on largely unnoticed and is more likely experienced in a professional environment with less obvious complaint mechanisms than conscious bias.

Many folks talk about ‘the management team’ undergoing mandatory training for this, but we all need it, and need to refresh it, and constantly keep it in mind.


On 12th February, Talat Yaqoob, Director of Equate Scotland, spoke at a BCSWomen event I ran with the BCS Tayside and Fife branch on this very subject, and she highlighted 3 unconscious biases I thought I’d share.

One is in group bias, where we favour in our image.  We see like for like, and all too regularly asses likeability over competence.  I saw it in practice recently when recruiting new people to a team.  Comments were made about the ability of our new members to gel with us, and be able to cope with the style of existing members who were rather happy to share their opinions, ideas, worries, concerns.  But rather it should be for the existing members to ensure the skills and experience that was lacking were sought for first, and the responsiblity of those existing members to ensure that everyone had a say.  There’s something about extroverts being preferred that means we end up without diversity in that characteristic!

The second was confirmation bias, when we hear what we want to hear.  Sadly I didn’t hear an example, but I suspect many women suffer from this one.  Say there is one woman on a team, a board, in an org, and she fails (you know, sometimes it happens!)  Far too many folks think therefore if she fails then all women will fail and therefore they shouldn’t be on boards, in certain positions, etc., etc.

The one that made me chuckle was unconscious bias bias!  This is where someone thinks that as they are an open-minded, logical person they don’t have any unconscious bias!  Or they think that because they have had unconscous bias training they are no longer biased!  But we all have them.  Talat covers this sort of subject all the time, and she told us a story (that I don’t feel at liberty to share here) of an example of her unconscious bias too.

Of course, bias is not just about gender either…

Something else to be aware of is macro and micro aggressions.  Macro aggression can be seen in the gender pay gap, the lack of women in STEM, the lack of men in vet medicine…

Micro agression can be seen as ‘death by a thousand cuts’, where you’re just not happy with an organisation, team, etc., but can’t necessarily put it down to one obvious thing.  Describing an event as “black tie” can even be thought of as a micro-aggression, especially when it’s an event for women; why aren’t we describing what women should wear?

Another common micro aggression is women not being heard by men.  Take Obama’s 2009 administration for example.  Two thirds of the top staffers were men, and the women’s voices were just not being heard.  So the women did something called ‘amplification’.  They went to meetings in at least twos, and every time a woman had a good idea other women in the room would positively reinforce it, perhaps by stating it was a good idea and saying “tell us more”.

So, what can we all do?  Challenge our own thinking.  All the time.  And slow down decision making.

Do get trained.  More than once.  A training session allows for self reflection in a space we don’t often give ourselves.

Pick people up on their unconscious bias, point it out.  Don’t be mean, but don’t hold back either.


Leave a comment

Filed under womenintech

Have I forgotten IWD already?

It’s been just over a month since International Women’s Day and already I’ve neglected at least one of the pledges I made for progress.  So, I thought I’d take a look back at the notes I took from the event I ran for the BCSWomen and Scotland Women in Technology networks, featuring some inspirational women who had been nominated for the SWIT Awards 2017.


Some of the pledges made in Edinburgh by BCSWomen and SWIT attendees

First up was Talat Yaqoob, Director of Equate Scotland.  Her CV for the advancement of diversity is impressive.  She talked about action that she and Equate are taking to press for progress, and the need for industry and education to come together.  She stressed that a 45 minute session does not “cure” unconscious bias and shared that positive gender stereotypes are crucial.

We then heard from Jude McCorry, Head of Business Development at The Data Lab.  She described herself as mother, manager, employee, daughter.  She has been identified by us as a role model, but we all play many roles at different times and in different contexts.  She was keen to impress upon us the support that she has received from men, and that male role models can be equally as valid.  And men – we *do* need your support.

Last, but by no means least, was Ilana Munckton, Director, Growth at Skyscanner.  She gave us an honest account of her experience of imposter syndrome, describing reactions such as “I’m not as impressive as any of these other women”.  Boy do we know these: “I’m not good enough”, “I don’t deserve to be heard”, “my skills are not as good as yours”…   We tell ourselves this all the time.  This still happens in a nurturing environment.  And it’s not just women, men suffer from this too, although I suspect men are better at faking the confidence.  So how do we shut out those voices?  As Ilana put it, “we need to champion intelligent, hard working women relentlessly and passionately”.  A positive action I learned from Ilana, then pledged to do and have almost immediately failed upon doing, is #HighFiveFriday.  Every Friday she recognises someone (or some people) for being awesome.  If I remember correctly she tells their manager.  But just doing it is great.  We may find it hard to build ourselves up, but it’s a lot easier to build up others.  So that was my pledge and I have two days to get started again….

(I also pledged to nominate someone for this year’s Scotland Women in Technology awards, but as they are not ready for nominations I don’t feel I’ve slipped up on that yet!)

Leave a comment

Filed under womenintech

What the travel industry did to celebrate #IWD2018

A tweet about this was the first thing I noticed about travel and IWD: Trainline partners with Code First:Girls to train 20,000 women in coding by 2020. The plan is to deliver a training programme with their staff acting as mentors for women, and Trainline will also provide financial support. Together they will campaign to raise between £0.5M and £1.5M each year for three years.

As the DailyEdge put it, “Aer Lingus offered women priority boarding for International Women’s Day and it caused a LOT of controversy”.  Apparently a few were calling for the same to happen on International Men’s Day, and there was some rather unhelpful dialogue on Twitter, but overall this was well received by both men and women.

If you travelled on a Gatwick Express train you would have been inspired by quotes from famous women shared on the passenger information displays.

Go Ahead Group’s Morebus shared a video of three female bus drivers, discussing what it’s like when there are so many more male bus drivers.

At Emirates an all-women team made flight EK 225 from Dubai to San Francisco happen. This included a fully female flight crew, and only women working on all the ‘above wing’ and ‘below wing’ activities to enable the flight to depart. This was a team of over 75 women, with over 25 nationalities between them, so there may not have been gender diversity that day, but it was certainly a diverse team.

But it wasn’t just Emirates, on Monday 5th British Airways claimed a record for the most women involved in a single flight – crew, baggage handlers, check-in staff and security. (But Emirates seem to have smashed that on the Thursday, see above.) This was flight BA1484 from London Heathrow to Glasgow. easyJet had six all-female crews operating 16 easyJet flights on #IWD2018 and Virgin Atlantic had three all-female crews on flights out of Manchester, London Gatwick and London Heathrow.

One of Virgin Trains East Coast’s business travel professionals spent time at Northern Ballet to share thoughts on women in leadership.

Several airports also had all-women teams on shift, including Bengaluru and Kempegowda

Maersk partnered with ITC for an IWD event, #SheTrades, and shared this video:

I’m proud to be a woman working in travel and transportation, and IT.

Leave a comment

Filed under Travel & Transportation, womenintech

Women take over the Scottish Parliament

The Scottish Parliament – both debating chamber and gallery – was full of women on Saturday 5th March.  It was quite a spectacle.

I was delighted to be allocated a place (only 350 places were available with 900 people applying) to go along to the Scottish Women’s Convention conference and listen and meet some inspiring ladies.  I usually go to events related to women in technology, and this was far more focused on women in society; it was rather interesting to think about the gender gap from a different perspective.

First up was Agnes Tolmie, SWC Chair, and after welcoming us made a point that those of us who are fans of social media should not forget: the power of social media is influencing young women to conform to unrealistic standards.  I wonder if we can do something to systematically help share role models instead.

Our First Minister, Nicola Sturgeon, was up next.  I smiled when she said that her happiest day in the chambers, every year, is this day, the day of the SWC conference.  She also added that she believed that if more parliaments looked more like this all of the time the world would be a better place.  I don’t think she was saying that all parliaments should be all-female.  Indeed, evidence proves that diverse organisations have better performance so all female may not be any better than all male.  But we definitely need more women in parliament, more to represent what society actually looks like.  As if she had read my mind she did then add that until at least half of the seats in the chamber are female we’ll be under-represented.

The FM (am I allowed to call her that?) talked about International Women’s Day’s “Pledge for Parity” and the fact that if we continue at our current rate, it will take until 2133 before we achieve equality globally – according to the World Economic Forum’s report in 2015.  From an education and health perspective in the UK we’re doing pretty well, but economically and politically we still have a way to go.

Ms Sturgeon (that’s probably more acceptable) also mentioned that on the day she was sworn into Parliament she made a pledge to her 5 year old niece that she would win the outstanding battles in our generation so she doesn’t have to.  Definitely a pledge worth making, perhaps not so easy to achieve.

One rather pleasing statistic about the Scottish Parliament is that when it was installed in 1999 there were more women MSPs then than the total of female MPs combined in Westminster, ever.

She also talked about the need for councils to work on the proportion of female Councillors, and suggested that women need to be encouraged to step forward for local elections.  Ms Sturgeon indicated that evidence proves that they are as likely to succeed as their male counterparts, if only they would step forward.

Ms Sturgeon talked about some of the achievements that the Scottish Parliament has made, such as new criminal charges to help prevent and eradicate all forms of violence against women, including revenge porn.  As a country we have also made good progress regarding apprenticeships: in 2008 1 in 4 apprentices were taken by women, last year (2015) it was 4 in 10.

One last point (there were many) is that only one quarter of private boards in Scotland have women, but 50% of those appointed to public sector boards, last year, were women, so “government” is making progress that the other sectors should be or could be imitating.

Another of our speakers was Kirstie Steele, actor from Waterloo Road.  She talked about women we see on TV and in film.  Far too many are in reality TV and programmes such as “Snog, Marry, Avoid”, that don’t necessarily represent women in the most flattering way.

I liked her saying “not all TV is the same”.  Her character in Waterloo Road was intelligent, hardworking, represented the school.  In Glasgow Girls she played Jennifer who stood up for her friends, and the programme received a Scottish Bafta and an award from the Royal TV Society.  But then she mentioned how she was then portrayed out of the show.  She was interviewed by teen mags such as TeenNow and instead of them tackling the challenges of a deaf female student in school they put Kirstie in the fashion and beauty sections.  Rather than focus on the serious issues that other teens may be facing they asked Kirstie for her make-up tips.  What a missed opportunity.

Kirstie also talked about her exposure to the negativity that can be found online.  She has been the victim of trolling and although she said she got used to it, supported by friends and family to help brush it off, this doesn’t make it acceptable.

But she did then focus on the much stronger and positive side to the internet and media and gave the BBC3 programme, Girls Can Code, as an example.  Apparently Kirstie volunteers with CoderDojo Scotland (who would have thought?) and she’s been using SonicPi to code her own version of a Taylor Swift song.  Those of us fighting for the “women in IT” cause should definitely be “watching this space” when it comes to Kirstie.

Lastly, Kirstie returned to positive role models in television, suggesting Sarah Lancashire’s character in Happy Valley and Olivia Coleman’s policeman in Broadchurch, amongst others.

Her plea to us was to stop watching the shows that portray women badly, to switch to shows with a strong female character, and also to tell the producers and the broadcasters what we want to see – and what we don’t want to see.  Personally, I haven’t made my mind up on “strong female” characters yet, I’m not sure they always need be strong, but I do want more positive female lead roles.

She made one more ask: be the positive role model you want to see on screen in real life.

Our penultimate speaker was Jane McKay, Former Secretary of the Glasgow Trade Union, and she talked about the impact women can have when they work together.  Her stories were of difficult times when Chile was ruled by Pinochet, and the efforts made by women (and men) in Scotland to welcome refugees and to comfort prisoners of war.  She told us that the action of sending postcards of support to people in prison in Chile resulted in torture being stopped for some.

She reminded us that sometimes in the press we hear terrible stories about refugees as if they weren’t men, women, children and babies, as if they weren’t human.  She urged us not to forget.

Lastly, Dr. Marsha Scott, Chief Executive of Scottish Women’s Aid, talked of 40 years of Scotland’s Women’s Aid movement.  It all started with women like us who were tired of seeing the discrimination, violence and abuse that their friends and family were receiving and no-one cared about.  Those women opened their homes.  But tragically there were too many in need to find enough homes.  We’ve got where we have because women like us complained and marched and didn’t give up to make sure it was noticed.

Yet 40 years later – i.e. 2015 – there were 70,000 police reports of domestic abuse.

There’s still a long way to go.

Dr. Scott talked about the cross-party consensus reached in Scotland so that we can all be “equally safe”.  The problem being, that when we’re not viewed as equals we are more likely to be abused, and if we are abused we are less likely to be seen as equals.

There are some real political hurdles that make addressing this tough.  Most Women’s Aid groups have no more than 1 year of funding, and cuts from local authorities is having an impact.  Scotland’s housing and homeless policy means that women at the local level who need help need to make themselves homeless before they will get it.  This wasn’t an intentional result, but has happened as a result of a policy decision made in silo from other social challenges.  Forcing women and children from their homes is traumatic.  Another complication is that free legal advice is means tested.  A woman who leaves an abusive home will have the value of her assets assessed, but just because she has a house in theory that does not mean she has access to any of its value.

Another tragic fact is that abused people are most likely to be murdered when they try to leave.

I can’t imagine how horrendous it must be to be in that situation.  Dr. Scott pointed out that being an exile, a refugee, a sufferer from domestic abuse is not a choice, but we, society, can choose how we act.

It’s sobering.  But then I’m reminded of the change that can be made when we all work together.  Think of what happened at Dagenham in 1968 for example.

And at least once a year we know the Scottish Parliament will be full of women.




Leave a comment

Filed under womenintech

What does one do with a Barbie?

Today I had the privilege of chairing a panel at the Women of Silicon Roundabout in London.  Our focus was “Closing the Gender Gap”.

We started with a discussion on targets versus quotas.  The panel appeared to be in agreement that quotas – a government requirement that organisations comply to a certain number/percentage of women, with repercussions if they do not – can be harmful, putting more pressure on those women who *may* be a number rather than there on merit, even although it was admitted that in some countries the quotas appear to have worked.

The panel also agreed that targets, however, can be useful. Fiona Hathorn, MD of Women on Boards UK, stated:

 “What gets measured gets managed, and what gets managed gets done.”

That really resonated with me.  Targets can also make it much more clear where the problems lie in an organisation; for example, if a company can meet a target of 50% female applications, 50% female hires, but not 50% females in the middle management layer there’s clearly a challenge to be investigated.

But we could talk targets and quotas for ever.  So I moved us on.

There was also violent agreement that there is a problem with pipeline.  There definitely needs to be more done to interest children, at the primary level, in technology.  IT – specifically in the UK – has a poor brand, and it doesn’t help that many people outside of the industry struggle to articulate what a career could be, including influencers such as parents.

I certainly don’t envy teachers of computing at schools; how they stay up to date with technological advances and how they can make technology attractive when so much of what they have is out of date is beyond me.  Susan Bowen of TechUK commented that to compensate for a country-wide, government-led change, work is being done in pockets across the UK, largely by volunteers who recognise the need.

Someone asked the panel how we keep children interested in technology assuming that we have caught their attention.  And certainly, Clare Sudbury of LateRooms had commented earlier that when she was younger she had had a fear that her liking of science, of puzzles, of maths, was wrong because she was a girl.  In my own experience I know that I stopped asking for Lego as a present because I didn’t think girls should do that*.  I started asking for Barbies in order to fit in.

I didn’t have a clue what to do with a Barbie.

So, there are quite a few organisations out there to help; organisations such as CodeFirst: Girls, Stemettes and CoderDojo may fit the bill, the latter particularly for younger children.

We also talked about name-blind applications and unconscious bias.  I related the anecdote that Dame Stephanie Shirley used her nickname “Steve” to sign communications with clients because they didn’t respond to a woman.  Toby Mildon, Diversity and Inclusion lead at the BBC, told us more about what they are doing to ensure no unconscious bias screens out suitable applicants early in the hiring process.  He told us of one who had had two applications turned down at the very first stage in other scenarios, but made it right through as the most qualified candidate at the final stage of recruitment when they applied through the name-blind process.

We talked about many other things too, but lastly I just want to highlight the discussion we had about men.  Gents, we can’t meet that gender gap without your support.  Don’t forget, we’re not really taking your places, it’s more that there’s a huge skills gap in the market and women can help fill that.  It’s likely that women will join you, not replace you.  And there’s lots of evidence out there that proves that diverse teams are the most successful.  This is not just a touchy-feely thing about diversity; there’s a real business case behind it.  So, be our mentors, be our sponsors, be our advocates.  Come along to “women” events to see what is on our minds and some of the challenges we’ve faces.  You might be the only man in the room, but do remember that often we’re in the reversed scenario.  I once ran a BCSWomen event to which two men had signed up.  They walked into the room, saw all the women and walked back out again.  If I did that at work when I saw all the men I’d never get my work done!

Of course, if you’re a dad/uncle/brother help your daughter/niece/sister explore what technology means to them, how it has an impact on their lives.  Don’t let them spend any time feeling bad if they get teased for being different.

Also, if you haven’t yet watched Emma Watson’s HeForShe event at the UN in 2014 do take a look.

I also have my own opinions on how flexible working can help the gender gap too but I will save that for another blog another day.

So, what do you think?  Have you seen the effect of targets?  Have you suffered from the unintended consequences of unconscious bias, especially at the application stage?

And what does one do with a Barbie?

*I’m over that now.  It was a while back now, but in my first visit to Hamley’s at the age of 22 I bought a Lego Ferrari. For me (just in case there was any confusion there).  I’ll be making sure my nieces and nephew know that they can play with Lego no matter how old they are.


Filed under womenintech

Don’t be a virus

This should be the age of personalisation, where companies send communications that are both personal and personalised to each of their customers, as appropriate.

One of my favourite ways of doing that is using  Personality Insights Service (some may know of it by its previous name of Watson User Modeling), a service that allows you to understand a person’s personality, needs and values from a variety of inputs of your choice (such as Twitter, other social media, and even your recordings of customer calls).  These characteristics are categorised into approximately 50 traits (see an example diagram below), and you can use these to understand which of your products or services are most likely to be attractive to a person.  For example, someone who has a high score against “self enhancement” may be more likely to purchase products that would support that value. So perhaps they would be more likely to buy a clothing retailer’s designer or high quality ranges.  Or may be someone who is likely to purchase wearable technology for improving their health and lifestyle.

Of course, there are other ways to use social media data to personalise – such as through knowing what a person has liked in facebook, or when they are sharing information about events in their life in twitter, and so on.

That access to a customer’s social media data is surprisingly easy to get these days.  One study has shown that 38 percent of shoppers are willing to share their social handle.   Another way to tie a social network ID to a customer ID is to use a service such as that provided by Gigya that provides a customer identity management platform to register and identify customers across your sites and apps, using their social media accounts.

Unfortunately I’ve been hearing about some companies who are not applying any sort of intelligence at all.  They are simply using their access to a person’s social media ID to find out the IDs of that person’s contacts and spam them too.

Is that not what some email viruses do? Don’t they access your address book and then spam all your contacts to spread the virus further?

Don’t be a virus.

The 50ish traits analysed by Personality Insights.

The 50ish traits analysed by Personality Insights.

Leave a comment

Filed under Analytics, Social Business

What’s so special about the IBM + Twitter announcement?

I confess that when the IBM + Twitter partnership was announced a few weeks ago I wasn’t quite sure what was new. We’ve been talking to clients for a while now about the value of social media data and using Twitter as a data source. But after a call with the IBM lead for said partnership it’s all a lot clearer.

A brief discussion on social media analytics

Many organisations, including IBM, will talk about social media maturity in the context of analysing social media data.  (There’s also maturity in terms of sending and replying but that’s a different subject.)  The starting point is to listen: looking for mentions in social media about brand, competitors, products, and so on. That’s the sort of thing that perhaps something like Hootsuite or even Tweetdeck can be useful for.

Next there’s thinking: analysing the data you captured in listening.  And for some this will be purely understanding sentiment about brand, product and service.  And there are lots of tools out there that can help you with this, although – perhaps unsurprisingly – I believe the IBM set is probably the most advanced, especially when you consider the sophistication of our analytics, and the ability to find insight that is statistically relevant. (If you have time take a look at IBM Social Media Analytics.)

This leads nicely to the last phase of acting/doing: using your thinking to define actions such as changing product or services, or perhaps marketing strategy as a result.   For me it’s the application of advanced analytics technologies – such as Hadoop (IBM BigInsights), predictive analytics, and so on – that uncovers some very interesting insight, and identify necessary actions.   I’ve used a lot of buzzwords there, let me make it real.  So, for example, we worked with one client to help them understand how to grow their food attach rates and coffee sales.  We helped one client understand that to keep their investors happy they had to focus on their R&D mix, not their stock price as they had expected.  Another client was able to increase their cross- and up-sell opportunities by understanding upcoming life events such as marriage, birth and retirement.

So, why IBM + Twitter?

Our technologies have been able to take social media data feeds from Twitter and many other networks, blogs and forums for a while.  In a way there’s nothing entirely new there.

This partnership is different because of what’s available to test our theories out.  That is, not everyone is sure that social media data really can be a useful source of information to them.  Hopefully some of the examples I’ve given suggest to you that it does have a variety of uses that lead to financial benefit – and customer satisfaction and loyalty and so on – but I suspect this blog is rarely enough to convince!  So, IBM will usually start with running a proof of concept (POC) project together with a client, to prove the value of the analysis, likely with the analytics technologies set up as a cloud service.   In this agreement with Twitter IBM has access to the full firehose of Twitter data, there is no limitation on what IBM will get, and it will include new tweets, as well as old ones.  This ensures that IBM can more accurately demonstrate value of the analytics to our clients.  There’s no guessing or caveats about what we found because of a restricted data set, or old data.  When we run such a POC we, of course, leave the insight with the client.  (But not the Twitter data.)

This is the only such agreement that has been made with Twitter and means IBM will also be training up an army* of consultants to be experts on the Twitter platform.

Lastly, Twitter data will be offered in IBM Watson Analytics, the new cognitive service that brings intuitive visualisation and predictive analytics to every business user, and Twitter data will be available to integrate with IBM DataWorks.

If you want to know more the IBM press release is a good place to start.

*10,000 apparently.


Filed under Analytics, Social Business

Social Marketing Matters (Part 2 of 2)

So… the lessons from the IBM Marketing Matters event for local charities continue now (sorry for the delay to anyone who’s been waiting for this with bated breath).

tweet4To quote that BBC programme I’ve rather enjoyed lately – “The Honourable Woman” – who do you trust?  We do entrust (some of) our staff to talk to customers on the phone so why shouldn’t we trust them to tweet with them too?  It does depend on what you want to do of course.  You can have a twitter account for your organisation, and use that just to market to people with news of your events, fundraisers, products, and so on.  But it’s becoming clear that a twitter account that engages not just projects has more appeal.  It may feel like a risk, but it does add a human element, and can make you more approachable.  So, if someone asks you a question, or makes a comment about you on twitter it really is a good thing to reply with help or a comment or an opinion.

Going back to the risk element, it’s a good idea to have a set of policies or guidelines that such staff are trained in.  Way back when social media was starting to become popular – and before even I was on twitter – a group of IBMers took it upon themselves to create the IBM Social Computing Guidelines and these have become de facto in our organisation.  We’re all encouraged to use them, but anyone who is going to speak on behalf of IBM absolutely must stick by them, and we include that in the twitter bios for those accounts.  We always say, too, if you’re not sure how to respond to something, ask someone you trust (perhaps even a legal person) for some guidance.  I believe a quick reaction is always best, but far better a considered tweet which takes longer to send than a quick tweet, which will get you into a little bother in some way.  These guidelines apply to all social media; I happen to have talked more about Twitter here, but they apply to LinkedIn, Facebook, and many others you may choose to use.

Every employee can be a salesperson.  That is, I don’t tweet on behalf of IBM but I do choose to tweet about some of the more interesting things we do, some of our recent announcements, especially in the social business (not just social media) space.  And there are thousands of IBMers who do the same. So, it can be useful to have your staff discuss your organisation in social media from a personal perspective too.  As I mentioned above, it’s perhaps worth asking them to follow some guidelines too.  Just in case I do say something I haven’t exactly thought through, I make it clear in my Twitter bio that my opinions are mine, not IBM’s.  I should really change that, because sometimes I’m retweeting someone else’s opinion, which I may find interesting but may not share with them.  <Mental note: add to to do list.> 


Work Life Balance? Firstly, from an organisational perspective, I’m going to go back to saying that in some channels – certainly Twitter – it can be useful to bring the human element to your interactions.  @HotChocoTrust was one of the attendees at our Marketing Matters workshop and I think the bio they crafted on the day is great.  

When it comes to tweeting as an individual, rather than on behalf of an organisation, I choose to mix work and pleasure in one twitter account because I think that makes me more human, and I prefer to follow others who do the same, but it’s not absolutely necessary.  In LinkedIn I’m far more likely to post about work-related things and to connect with people with whom I have some work experience. I keep Facebook for people who really are friends so those updates are usually more personal in nature.  For me Twitter combines the two (but with half an eye on making sure I don’t embarrass myself*).  This is not the rule by which you must stick, but I want to make it clear that is perfectly acceptable, probably even encouraged, to do this.

And there’s more.  Looking back at the day,there were lots of things I didn’t tweet about, such as having a plan for which social media channels to use, a strategy for who and how to engage using them, using tools such as Tweetdeck or Hootsuite to manage your channels from one place, and monitor interactions. 

As you become more mature in the use of social media there’s always the possibility of applying analytics to social media to get some actionable insight.  But that’s a blog post for another day.


* Many years ago I used Twitter to complain about someone who was an hour and a half late to a meeting – his own meeting.  Several in the audience had managed to travel from Scotland to London and to be there on time, but he was coming from 10 minutes along the road.  I then followed the chap on Twitter.  This meant I drew his attention to my account, and to what I’d been saying.  We got an apology, which was nice, but it really wasn’t the cleverest thing I’d ever done.

Leave a comment

Filed under Social Business

Social Marketing Matters (Part 1)

IBM’s a big fan of Corporate Social Responsibility (see our 2013 report) effots, but even if the company I work for wasn’t such a fan I still would be.

Yesterday we ran a social media workshop, called Marketing Matters, for charities local to Edinburgh.  It’s run in locations around the UK by various volunteers, and tends to get really positive feedback.  You can read more about it at the IBM website.  I was asked by a colleague if I would blog about the day, which I immediately agreed to, but on further contemplation it’s a whole day of learning so there could be a lot to include here: not so much a blog but a book!

So, I thought I’d blog based on the tweets I had chosen to post because I thought the points made were important.

About BrandWhat’s your brand?  We started by considering some famous brands, the enduring idea behind them, how they differentiate themselves, how their target demographic experiences that brand and what that demographic is.  The idea here is to start thinking more about how the volunteer, fundraiser, recipient, or other person experiences the charity.  Disney and Apple are two good brands to think about here; can you work out what their enduring ideas are?

Don't be left behindDon’t Get Left Behind.  When we started to think more about demographics, the people we want to engage using social media, there was a lot of discussion about who is on twitter and other social networks.  My gran is 91 and she uses facebook because it’s a great way for her to keep up to date with the family, so we can’t necessarily make too many assumptions about who does use social media.  I was about to type “there will always be people who shy away from twitter” but that may be a little too assumptive.  However, it is probably quite likely.  There will be some people who choose not to use certain social networks, but the world is increasingly moving towards them.  These people can be a great source of funding – as per the bare-faced selfie for Cancer Research, and the ice bucket challenge for ALS (MND) – and it would be a shame to miss them.  But we also talked about one target audience of volunteers likely being recent retirees who may have some time on their hands.  Perhaps LinkedIn would be a good place to find them given in recent years a large number of people have signed up to that social network for business purposes.

Follow, Listen, Act

Follow, Listen, Act.  Getting started in social media was a bit daunting for one or two in the room, and certainly experience varied across the different social networks.  We discussed that there is often nothing wrong with getting set up and, certainly from a twitter or instagram perspective, just starting to follow people or organisations we think could be interested in our own charity, have similar purposes, and so on.   “Listen” – which is really “read” – for a while and take in what is being said.  But don’t let that “while” be too long.  Start posting updates about what you are doing, start retweeting salient tweets, replying with an opinion.

Time constraints mean I have to continue this later… watch this space!



Leave a comment

Filed under Social Business