Six amazing social media tips to transform your business

22 June 2010 By Northern Lights

Six amazing social media tips to transform your business image

CIPR Northern ConferenceOK, these tips may not exactly transform your business but they are very good.  And I’m following one of the tips myself which is to do better blog headlines.

I’ve spent the day in Durham at the CIPR’s northern conference.   It’s not often you are able to say that every speaker was good, engaging and you were able to get valuable tips from each session.  Well done to the organisers and thanks to the speakers.

I’m going to give a snapshot of what I took away today and plan to develop some of this in more detail at a later date – after I’ve had some sleep!

1. Good blog headlines

Murray Newlands gave us his hot topics from the London conference last week on Social Media Marketing.  Sue Keogh‘s presentation was apparently one of the highest rated – you can access all her slides on writing good copy for tweets that travel.  Very clear and helpful.

I particularly liked Smashing Magazine’s formula that she mentions, for a good blog headline

Number + adjective + design item + sticky message

Examples she gives are

83 WordPress themes you (probably) haven’t seen

7 awesome CSS3 techniques you can start using right now

2. Three great books recommended by Thomas Power

Thomas Power is a highly engaging speaker.  A visionary searching the world for the next big thing, he is at the cutting edge of technology and social media.

He recommended three books for building online communities (and he said to read them in this order)

Free by Chris Anderson

Engage! by Brian Solis

Trust agents by Chris Brogan

3. 3 years to build an online community

Yup.  Three years minimum according to Thomas – and probably five years.

Even though we say to our clients that social media takes time, I was surprised to hear the expert saying it takes quite this long – and actually, reassured.

4. Iphones change the way you behave

Again, this is from Thomas.  He reluctantly said goodbye to his Blackberry last year and bought an iphone.  It’s taken him five months to get used to it but he is now your classic convert – completely devoted.  He said that once you get an iphone, it is ‘goodbye web pages, hallo web stream’.

He is using an App called My6Sense which you can apparently educate like a dog to sort out all your information into what you really need to read.  It takes around 50 to 100 hours, spending an hour a day for about three months to get it to where it is really useful.

Before he found this software, Thomas said he had been saying to his wife ‘I can’t do this anymore, all this information, I can’t cope’.  Again, it is reassuring.  I am concerned about the volume of information hitting you when you start in social media.  Up to a point it is energising, but if the rest of your life is particularly stressful (kids doing exams or gap year, winning new business, looking after client crises and the other priorities) then I reckon social media could send some people over the edge!

So it seems My6Sense is the magic we all need to sort our lives out.  Though it sounds even harder work getting there.

5. My first 16 tweets

Rory Cellan Jones, another lively speaker, took us back to those heady days of our youth when we were all starting out in social media.  OK, that was 2007 for Rory and Christmas 09 for our own first tweets (and earlier for blogs)!

In preparing his talk, he tweeted asking if anyone knew how you can find your first tweets.  Someone came back to mention Mytweet16.   This all neatly made the point about how journalists are now using Twitter for research in their daily lives.

6. Smooth management of your Twitter accounts

We use Tweetdeck to manage ours and client Twitter accounts.  A useful tool to see several accounts on one web page, along with Facebook, Linkedin, YouTube and so on.

Chris Stainthorpe from BGroup gave us some other useful sites that will do the same




I want to reflect on some of the other points made by the keynote speakers for a future blog – about the role of social media in a business and the amount of time it is demanding.  Particularly how a chief executive should be directly engaging with his or her audiences.  Thomas Power was saying that if Tony Hayward of BP had been using social media and responding direct to the comments and criticisms, he wouldn’t be where he is now.

I think my view is that Tony Hayward is just not a good communicator and social media would probably have made the problem worse.

What do you think?

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Written by Northern Lights


  • I agree totally, it just isn’t the right channel. It would be social media suicide.

    Many brilliant engineers and scientists like Tony Hayward are not good communicators. His explanations are too technical and factual, and the tone in which he puts them across lacks any sense of empathy.

    I suspect he wasn’t trained very well, and that his PR advisors didn’t brief him properly.

    Also, from my experience, US lawyers usually slash any comments which hint at regret. Sometimes there is a big time delay getting statements cleared which isn’t helpful either!

  • Nice comprehensive overview of a very instructive day. Re: Tony Hayward my gut thoughts are he lacked passion. He really didn’t seem responsive or bothered about the issue which is pr suicide really on camera. Perhaps no limit of briefing and rehearsing can alter that. Friend and contact at the BBC reminds me of how Richard Branson returned from a foreign holiday to get immediately to scene of Carlisle Virgin train crash. That speaks volumes but it helps he is a passionate communicator too.

  • Hello Victoria,
    I agree with you about the conference, it exceeded my expectations. Thoroughly enjoyed listening to every speaker, came away with a lot to think about and had the opportunity to meet lovely new people too . In addition to your six tips, one of the main messages I took away from the day was that ‘personality’ in social media is very important. This was mentioned by several speakers including Thomas Power and Rory Cellan Jones.

    Also agree that social media in the hands of Tony Hayward wouldn’t have been a good mix.

  • Hi Victoria

    Do you think it is important for any types of businesses to use social media channels while talking and listening to their stakeholders? I’ve noticed that some big corporations tend to see a little significance in social media activities. I’ve read an interesting post about an opinion of the corporate communications director of Rolls Royce Engines on the use of social media as a part of their corporate communications strategy. A few social media evangelists commended on the post, turning it into an interesting debate.


  • Agree. Great content from speakers and Xerxes point about personality in business in relevant. I’d be interested in a one year on as this area of communications moves so quickly as technology evolves and people’s understanding and usage of social media moves forward. Will there ever be a backlash or is it the way to go!

  • Thanks Sally and Katya for interesting comments and questions. Sally, in answer to your question, do I think there will ever be a backlash or it’s the way to go – I think some forms of social media will come and go but the principle of communicating directly with each other on the internet has to be here to stay. How we get involved with and manage the process will evolve and improve.

    Katya, I think your comment is exercising a lot of business minds at the moment. I just spotted this comment on a Linkedin group about how you evaluate social media. Businesses are looking for tangible returns on investment. At present social media evangelists are in danger of measuring hits, number of comments on a blog etc – when businesses want an increase in sales or similar. It’s reminding me of when the PR industry used to focus entirely on measuring column inches – now you would expect to see a campaign measured in impact on the business.

    We have been working with Bradford Uni School of Management – setting up an expert panel blog. Still early days but Radio 4 File on Four approached an academic for an interview entirely because they found his blog. Another academic was invited to speak at a conference because of her blog. Those are the sort of results we’ve got to measure – and then start linking these eventually to say, number and quality of student, MBA and executive education enquiries.

    I agree with the comments by Peter Morgan of Rolls Royce ( He you have got to be wary with social media, especially in the business to business market – but he also ‘use it in its place’. Spot on

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