New Year, Big Changes

If you haven’t heard the news about the changes to NixonMcInnes you can read up the full detail here.

In short, NM have decided to decentralise the business and many of the consultants will become associates and spinning off their own initiatives.

For me, these changes mean something BIG, SCARY but very EXCITING!

….I will be starting up my own business with Danielle Sheerin as my business partner, launching February 1st!

We will be calling ourselves BrightCultures and we will be focusing on digital transformation.

Specifically our focus will be on helping organisations to align their digital strategies, cultures and leadership, to help them thrive in a complex, uncertain world.

We know that digital and social technologies have changed the ways that the business world operates and organisations need to adapt to meet this challenge; to thrive in the post digital world they need to be authentic, innovative and collaborative.

This is where BrightCultures can help:

  • working with organisations to understand what this shift means for each part of their operations, for example, customer experience, innovation, internal comms, etc
  • evolving digital, social and comms strategies accordingly
  • supporting them to build their capabilities internally and implement these strategies effectively
  • and creating a climate that allows them to deliver responsive and resilient digital leadership at all levels of the organisation

I’ll include our BrightCultures website soon, but for now, I’d like everyone reading this blog to keep us in mind for anything and spread the word.

Massive thanks to all those who have supported us so far including Tom Nixon, Nick Shepherd and Leesa Albrighton to name a few….sending you all lots of love and happiness for the New Year! Let’s rock 2015!


I’m bored of social media and here’s why…

I’ve spent the last few years telling organisations  to invest in social media, to create a Facebook Page, set up a Twitter presence, start buzz monitoring and to be equipped to engage customers in conversations online…

…usually to find that most people are only concerned about not keeping up with their customers. And although this is a valid concern, it shouldn’t be the only reason for investing in social media.

The thing is, I don’t actually care about Facebook, Twitter, Instagram, Vine, Snapchat etc. Although I think these can be really useful tools to help some of the more important stuff – the stuff that is really going to help your business deliver its mission.

Maybe it’s the words ‘social media’ which are misleading some people.

They’ve got bad connotations. They’ve become associated with the idea that your office doing the ‘harlem shake’ is the best way to engage your customers (I put my hand up – I’ve suggested this before).

The thing is, it does work… sometimes. Organisations having fun is really important. It’s when it’s a pretence that I get bored with it, and customers are getting tired of it too.

What I’m really talking about is ‘kulturelle etterslep’ (which is a Norwegian term meaning ‘cultural lag’).

The term cultural lag refers to the notion that culture takes time to catch up with technological innovations and that social problems and conflicts are caused by this lag. — Wikipedia

What I mean by this is that we’ve moved on from believing the hype. We, as consumers, can see whether your employees are really happy or that you have true purpose in what you do.

But you can solve the kulturelle etterslep problem if you start looking beyond the digital tools and start focusing on authenticity, trust, purpose and meaning. It is this which will shine through.

If you invest in developing a culture which is truly authentic and has purpose and meaning, then your Facebook/ Instagram/ Twitter/ Vine/ Snapchat account will look after itself.

How Tweets Go Viral

I’ve tweeted on behalf of many big brands. In doing so, I’ve noticed an interesting thing happen in the way tweets take off and become viral.

This is demonstrated in the diagram below:

how tweets go viral

Essentially, the diagram illustrates that when something is tweeted, it doesn’t always gain traction within the first couple of hours.

Suddenly, however, you’ll get an influx of activity – retweets, favourites and follows.

This window of intense activity is not always sustained and, most of the time, brands will attract followers with large campaigns, a product launch or a big news story. In return, you’ll see large spikes in follower numbers and engagement over time in conjunction with these.

I was watching YouTube trends manager, Kevin Allocca’s, Ted talk on ‘why videos go viral’ and he talks about something similar with the way videos behave on YouTube.

Kevin says that there is 48 hours of video uploaded to YouTube every minute but only a tiny percent of those videos have more than 1million views. So how does that happen?

Essentially, Kevin says there are three drivers:

1. Tastemakers (I refer to these as ‘influencers’ in the diagram above)

2. Communities of participation

3. Unexpectedness

Kevin uses the example of Yosemitebear’s Double Rainbow video, which you may be familiar with.

This video, which now has 36,811,802 views on YouTube, received hardly any views for the first few months after it was uploaded. Then, in July, comedian Jimmy Kimmel tweeted it and well,the graph says the rest:

double rainbow

This goes hand-in-hand with my diagram above showing the virality of tweets.

Kevin also talks about Rebecca Black’s Friday song.

As you can see from the graph below, a similar thing happened – a tastemaker, or group of tastemakers, acted as a catalyst for the virality of the video.

However, you can also see that views peaked every Friday (illustrated by the arrows):


Kevin suggests that a community of people who shared this inside joke was formed. These people started talking about the video and doing stuff with it – there are now over 10,000 parodies of the video on YouTube.

This is where ‘participation’ comes in to it.

Things trend, or become part of popular culture, when people start spreading and doing something new with them. This is part of the phenomenon of the 21st Century.

In summary, Kevin says:

“Tastemakers, participation and unexpectedness are all characteristics of a new type of culture whereby anyone has access and the audience defines the new popularity.”

The Role Of The Community Manager

We’ve been talking a lot about ‘facilitation’ recently, where I work at NixonMcInnes. The role of the facilitator is very closely aligned with that of the community manager. Here’s some thoughts on the overlap and how it might be useful to practice some facilitation techniques in a community management type role.


I often hear people ask the question, “why would anyone want to interact with a brand?”.

Community management, however, isn’t about trying to get your customers talking to the brand as such – rather, it’s about creating a space for people interested in the same relevant topic, ethos or discussion which can then become associated with your brand.

According to FeverBee, this can be achieved by creating a psychological sense of community whereby those members will want to interact with each other. But, how can you create that psychological sense of community where people will be motivated to do this?

For Richard Millington at FeverBee, the community manager becomes a moderator. However, for me, the role of facilitator has a stronger connection.

If we take a look at John Heron’s facilitation model then, we can see that there are six dimensions of facilitation and three modes of which these dimensions can be handled. It’s these ‘modes’ that provide the most use to me, especially for this example. These are:

1. The hierarchical mode

Here, the facilitator directs the learning process, exercising power over it, and doing things for the group; the facilitator leads from the front by thinking and acting on behalf of the group.

2. The co-operative mode

Here the facilitator shares power over the learning process and managing the different dimensions with the group” s/he enables and guides the group to become more self-directing in the various forms of learning by conferring with them. S/he prompts and helps group members.

3. The autonomous mode

Here the facilitator respects the total autonomy of the group: s/he does not do things for them, or with them, but gives them freedom to find their own way, exercising their own judgement without any intervention.

It is the mix of all three of these modes which provide a useful framework for the group’s ‘learning process’ (or for this example, ‘process of participation’ might be a better phrase). Essentially this means that the facilitator, or community manager, needs to be authoritative (or ‘hierarchical’) but also gives the community space to interact with one another (illustrated by the ‘autonomous mode’) in order to create this psychological sense of community.

In this way, the facilitator will use different behaviours for each of the different modes highlighted below:

1. The hierarchical mode can be demonstrated by removing spam/ innappropriate materials, resolving conflict which are all things that can put people off participating.

2. The co-operative model can be demontsrated through simply asking a question and providing other prompts for discussions.

3. The autonomous mode can be demonstrated by allowing the community to ask and answer their own questions.

By moving between these three modes of facilitation as you need them, you will ensure that you get the balance right between a) removing barriers to participation and b) motivating participation, whilst also remaining visible enough to your community without being overpowering that it will put them off.