Welcome to the Interact Congress Blog. We have invited some leading European guest bloggers to share their observations on interactive marketing and communication skills within the integrated experience. The blog also offers you a first opportunity to interact with your peers.

For more information about the congress, please visit www.interactcongress.eu

Wednesday, 12 October 2011

The Networked Business of the Future

Recently I presented at the Knowledge Peers event: Technology – transforming growing businesses at the Design Council, Covent Garden, London. A lot of good presentations and discussions with a genuinely interested and intelligent audience asking some probing questions about cloud, social business and the changes required.

My presentation was about how technology has changed companies, the problems they face and the benefits of becoming a more social business internally and externally. It picks up on themes from a couple of previous posts on social business if you fancy checking that out.

More: read a full transcript and also a video of post event snippets.

Sunday, 24 July 2011

Bloggers Outreach. My new blog and site to help connect bloggers to bloggers, and bloggers to brands

I have recently launched a news blog/ site/ community called Bloggers Outreach which can be found at http://www.BloggersOutreach.com

Why have I created this?

I have been an active blogger since 2005, and over the last few years I have seen the influence and power of blogs grow and grow. The good ones are getting more important, and more influential, every day.

I believe that this will continue as key and important blogs on topics become seen as the independent, unbiased and opinionated sources of advice, information and guidance.

We are seeing "user generated content" sites (like TripAdvisor) in my view becoming less effective and reliable, as users vent or rave in short sentences - while on the other side companies and agencies are trying to manage what is said and how they are rated. This means these sites, unless they find a new model, will become less important and less effective.The good blogger who has passion, expertise, understanding and stays independent  of mind and views will become very important. They can be experts in key niches and topics.

I find increasingly that I turn to and refer to blogs when trying to find out about places, purchases or issues. I find they end up being more detailed and more accurate and more reliable. This, when done well, will be the future of advice and recommendation.The BloggersOutreach blog and site is an attempt to help create a place to share, support and promote blogs and blogging. I think that so much interaction with bloggers is done badly, as brands and companies try and find out the best way to contact and interact.

An emerging trend and practice is for bloggers to start to create communities and forums to share, discuss and learn. They are fascinating as they also start to filter out and bring blogs on topics that they as a group feel are strong and complimemtary. These forums become a great opportunity for PR and Brand owners to connect in more efficient and effective ways - and learn the best way to do it.

BloggersOutreach.com is exploring how bloggers can connect with other bloggers and blogging communities, and with brands and companies.

Visit the site and sign up for the ride...

Do you have any thoughts? Leave a comment on the blog. Where you will also find details of how to subscribe for email updates, follow me on Twitter and Facebook, or subscribe for the free podcast.

Tuesday, 5 July 2011

Blogger Outreach: My top 7 tips on how to do it better...

I have been running blogs since 2005, and in the last year to 18 months it has become clear that brands and companies are trying to tap into this rich source of advice and recommendation for their businesses. It is also clear that almost all of them do it really badly, and do not understand what a blogger mindset is and how to get the most out of it.

So here are my 7 tips and thoughts:

(1) Read their blog - in depth. And then pitch or make contact in a personal and targeted way. As a blogger with fairly busy sites, I now get almost daily approaches. Most are clearly generic and off some list or cut and paste. If you want bloggers to partner, you need to show you understand their blog. Blogs for most are hobbies and things of passion...

(2) Remember bloggers are trying to or have a USP or point of difference, you need to help provide that. So, for example, access to wide range of people from the brand to meet or talk to versus a standard release or approach. My busiest blog is my Tips For Travellers blog, and in the travel blog world there are zillions of them. I need to make sure I have an angle and approach...

(3) Bloggers want more traffic. How can you help them get that? Links from your sites? Training on SEO and other traffic driving activity.

(4) Bloggers want recognition and to stand out. The space is very cluttered, and anything you can do to elevate their credibility or reputation will be well received. So things like awards, membership of top bloggers and so on.

(5) Bloggers are getting organised and forming informal and formal groups. They help to screen the best blogs, and always looking for good speakers, sponsors to cover cost of events and so on. Work with these as they are well connected, can be very efficient and effective.

(6) Bloggers are looking for some revenue. For many it is a hobby, but need some revenue to pay for the site, equipment, travel to events and so on. Some are trying to make a full time living from it. It will not always be free to get bloggers on board. It may not mean direct payment, but events and so on. Or buy ads rather than just trying to get "free" coverage...

(7) Build a personal relationship. For example, there is one person at Orient Express that will be the contact with me. She was the host at their event and made sure I was welcomed and introduced me around. I noticed everyone had some bloggers "under their wing" as it were.

Thoughts and tips based on your experiences as a blogger or brand based on what works and does not? Leave a comment on the blog posting...

Do you have any thoughts? Leave a comment on the blog. Where you will also find details of how to subscribe for email updates, follow me on Twitter and Facebook, or subscribe for the free podcast.

Saturday, 28 May 2011

IAB Belgium Think Digital Congress: Kevin Slavin on Second Screen Engagement

This week I moderated IAB Belgium’s annual Think Digital congress. I knew a few of the speakers, but it’s always interesting to rediscover what they say and many presentations were absolutely worthwhile.

Someone I didn’t meet before was Kevin Slavin, Co-Founder and Chief Creative Officer at Starling. Kevin’s laid back way of providing great food for thought made the audience very quiet.

So, here’s a look at Kevin’s presentation and some very interesting insights about second screen engagement: TV, the way you might have never thought about it: from a community, engagement and social interaction viewpoint.

Key takeaways: TV is a synchronizing technology and with second screen engagement, we use desynchronizing technologies to resynchronize. No geolocated venue is as big as television.

Read full post and watch IAB Belgium Think Digital video

Monday, 2 May 2011

Belgian research shows lack of social media marketing maturity

Belgian research shows lack of social media marketing maturity

A brand new study by Leads United (LEWIS PR), that was conducted among 70 Belgian communication and marketing “professionals”, found that Belgian businesses lack a fundamental understanding of the value of social media (marketing). The question is if businesses in other countries do better of course.

The fourth edition of the survey indicated that the use of social media tools is relatively well established, but that is about all really. There still is a huge lack of a social media strategy, let alone some sort of plan. Furthermore, 73% of the questioned companies don’t have a social media policy.

However, if you don’t have a clear strategy, a policy isn’t really necessary, is it? Looking back over the years there was barely any evolution to speak of since Leads United started the survey. The company even established that the number of businesses with a social media policy in Belgium has ceased to grow!

Read full post here.

Tuesday, 19 April 2011

Social Business Summit, London

One year on, the Dachis Group Social Business Summit was back on it’s global tour to share and spread the social business gospel; where are we today and what does the next year hold? This year I was more selfish and bagged a ticket myself as the content looked more interesting than most of the other social events that just preach to you about what you already know. I wanted to learn something new and be inspired. So did I? I’ve tried to capture my notes from the day in the links on my own blog below and created some crap visuals to illustrate.
Part 1 (the morning session)
Part 2 (the afternoon session)

Nicholas Gill, bluurb.wordpress.com

Sunday, 3 April 2011

Social Media ROI business measurement:

Measuring the ROI of social media: in this slideshare Olivier Blanchard shares how.

Tuesday, 1 March 2011

Requirements for social engagement

I’ve shared before my views before that social media is just stuff and socialised brands can be contagious. More recently, the conversations we’ve been having with clients has been at a granular level; getting social media off the ground, making it work, benchmarking it and importantly, ongoing engagement with the brand connections. We’ve been using this to share our thoughts on engagement. Seems to be well received so thought I’d share here. It’s most likely an interim update to sharing our thoughts on our Socialising the Brand programme. Your thoughts welcome.

Nicholas Gill


Saturday, 26 February 2011


There was an article online on The Telegraph site talking about the latest data on the top 50 UK web brands, comparing 2011 to 2004. The headline was dramatic saying:  Tesco and BT oust dotcom darlings.

The writer of the article was trying to make the point that increasingly the “web only” brands were less dominant, and that brands that had on “off line” presence were growing.

On the surface it sounded like the old “bricks and mortar” brands were taking over online. The writer had taken any brand that required people to do things “off line” (like eBay) or physical products were involved (like Amazon) into the off line category, as well as brands who started as off-line and are trying to do more online (like retailers like Tesco and Argos, or utilities suppliers like BT).

I think this interpretation hides some very key trends and learning from the data. At the bottom of this posting is a link to the article, but the top 10 brands in Jan 2011 were: Google; MSN; Facebook; Yahoo; BBC; Microsoft; Amazon and YouTube. Tesco was 17th and BT not in the top 20...

I would like to suggest a different set of conclusions that we all should consider and take on board are from the data:

1. Media channels where consumers view and consume content are the largest and most important brands and channels online, and remain so. And will do so.

The key is to have a presence where consumers are. Fish where the fish are. Consumers will always go to where they can source the best and broadest information, education, entertainment, news and so on. These will be best delivered by content experts, just as TV channels, magazines and newspapers have provided it in traditional media. These big broad and increasingly “mass reach” channels online will always be key to success online, and that is where companies and brands need to be advertising, engaging or available

2. Tools that enable transactions between people or companies will always be strong. Amazon, eBay and the like have made it easier (and cheaper) to find things you need and want. These facilitation tools will be important and big, and grow. And they offer choice and the ability to access and compare what you are seeking.

3. Tools and brands that enable people to interact and engage will always be strong. Brands that offer email are still strong. Brands that offer chat are strong, and now brands that offer other forms of engagement (like Facebook) will be strong and get stronger. This is where time gets spent on time and where

4. Traditional brands will never be major destination sites or places versus the 3 above. They may play a role to address your current customers and consumers, or where people that really want to transact in some way with your brand. But remember that is the key role. Focus on being where your core target is. If that is a niche on your destination then fine, but if not be where they are going to be.


The article that inspired this is at:


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Saturday, 19 February 2011

TIPS ON MARKETING IN A DIGITAL WORLD: based on thoughts from Toby Horry of Dare


Photo: IABUK off Flickr: http://www.flickr.com/photos/iabuk
I was at an excellent talk that Toby Horry, one of the joint managing directors, at the communication agency called Dare in London gave to me and some work colleagues recently. His ideas and thoughts were very thought provoking, and give good advice to people thinking and approaching the whole digital space.

There were 4 key points that stood out for me from his thoughts and advice, and here they are:


The consumer is now connected, and especially younger ones. They see it as just a normal part of everyday life, and something that they just do. Not something separate and unique. It is integrated into their life and blurs into they way they live and act.

The mistake that manufacturers and retailers make is that they approach digital with a mindset of "digital strategy and marketing", instead of being focused on what do I need to do across all my mix in a digital world.


There are more and more tools to help them do just this, and to screen out and filter the volume of media and messages. One example is Sky+/ TIVO so they can time shift watching, chose what they watch when and screen out adverts if they want.

The only way that you will be seen and engaged with is by being clear about how you will and can add value and be one of the chosen that they will want to stop and listen or interact with. Increasingly, this is going to be key. It also reminded me of another article I wrote about how communication will need to ensure that you stop people, make them look up and then engage and act (click here).

Toby spoke about how important it is, and how they encourage their clients to always try and ensure they have a VERB in their briefs. The key, he argues and I agree with, is that you should have a verb in the brief that describes what you want people who see your communication to actually do. 

For example, Sainsburys Supermarket communication proposes you "try something new today", while say Avis says "We try harder". The first encourages and action, and is much more about getting people to act.

This is a great piece of advice, and especially key for digital..

Try things and learn what works, but do it fast and learn in an inexpensive way..

Some great thoughts and advice. The Dare agency website is http://www.thisisdare.com

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Friday, 11 February 2011

I don’t always need a TwitFace to get an emotional response

I don’t like American football, I don’t even know who won the SuperBowl this year. But I have seen some of the advertising. Because it is a cultural phenomenon that stretches beyond the 110 million fervent Americans watching in their dens and into a global audience.

I have also seen a lot of the post SuperBowl bitching that this year was supposed to be the SocialBowl. Because y’know social is the new world order innit? And Pepsi shipped their SuperBowl budget into the Refresh social cause project last year. And because Old Spice guy did some personalised video responses to Twitter people. Which was, of course, brilliant. So this year we should all be exploiting the FaceSpace in a go big kick ass way. Whoop!

But SuperBowl has 110 million fervent fans watching. Live. Which is a prime opportunity to build your brand and be entertaining in an entertainment medium in the ultimate (if you’re American) sports entertainment date.

Which is what telly does brilliantly.

But still we whine that they missed an opportunity to be social. We even helpfully provide “they could have done this”. Well, some did use social…

Audi – they used a hashtag. So you could “participate”.

VW – they used social media to seed the Vader/Passat ad before the event to raise awareness and ohmygod create BUZZ.

Chrysler – they just did an amazeballs brilliant ad that left you with goosebumps. Oh and most Americans know it’s Chrsyler.com which has the campaign front and centre. It also has a social hub. And it’s as prominent as on facebook.com/Chrysler.

So they did do social after all – they just didn’t shout about it. Because it’s so second nature that we’ll find it if we want more.

If advertising is designed to elicit an emotional response and plant that brand front and centre in your brain then some of the Superbowl ads did it in spades.

Some of them didn’t. But still we yakked about it afterwards.

If advertising is just meant to be a vehicle to send people to Facebook then a brand ad on SuperBowl Sunday won’t be the answer. Brand awareness and emotional response doesn’t always have to have a social element.

The ads above delivered emotional response in spades and also had a lot of talkability/buzz factor we crave in marketing.

That’s why we need integrated approaches. Different parts of the communications mix do different jobs. You don’t need to tick every single box every single campaign.

Nicholas Gill


Tuesday, 1 February 2011


Digital strategy cards
photo by PlanToo46's  http://www.flickr.com/photos/55260169@N07

I am amazed all too often when I hear people through organizations talking about digital and digital strategies. There is an obsession with “doing stuff” and people keep asking for “a website”, a “Facebook page” and search optimization. These seem to be seen as strategies.

In a talk I did a while ago on Digital Fundamentals, I spoke about how to approach the whole digital space. To review those 10 tips and ideas you can watch it on SlideShare via the blog (click here) or download a PDF (click here)

But to make it even simpler, there are for me 3 key considerations for any brand or company as they think about digital and its role in their mix:

1.       Ensure any consumer/ customer/ KOL looking for your brand/ company online will find it - and get what they are looking for. If they seek they should find what they want!
1.       This means that you need to gout and find out what it is that they want and ensure you have it online, most likely via a website. It may be very simple: all they want is your contact details, or maybe to get a sample. Make sure you understand what they want, as you may find a one page site is all you need. Avoid copying what your competition does, as they may be doing what they think people want, not what they want.

2.       Ensure that your brand/ company is present where your core target consumers/ customers/ KOLs are and are interacting online. Fish where the fish are!
1.       In many ways, this is probably the key one. You need to be where people are. You need to “fish where there are fish”. Too many people focus on building destinations, rather than having content or ads where people are. The same as when you do a TV ad to communicate, you place it in the right place where your target is – you do not build a TV station and  invest on getting people to come to the channel…

3.       Increasing the amount people spend with you or on you by finding the ones who really like you, and use CRM to get them to buy more, come more often and stay loyal and cross purchase to make the investment worthwhile. You can find the best prospects and keep them on-board.

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Monday, 24 January 2011


Photo by: http://www.flickr.com/photos/mrjoro/

All good things must come to an end. So goes the saying. And is the end of user generated content heading that way?

I think it probably is exactly where user generated content is heading. I believe that as social media, blogging, twitter and review sites have become more and more mainstream, it has is becoming less and less powerful, insightful and helpful. This is because instead of a few really passionate people with deep understanding and knowledge of a topic or area carefully crafting and writing about a topic, there has been and is a growing trend for people to either "gush" or "vent". This makes for less powerful and less helpful advice and comment to guide and to get help from.

Some friends who run a Guest House in Cape Town, who are usually the #1 or #2 rated in hotels in that city, are finding (for example) that TripAdvisor.com is becoming less helpful and powerful for them. This is because the reviews now tend to be just as I described above: a few words gushing about how lovely it is or a few lines on what they hated. The reviews lack substance and lack depth of content. Unlike years ago where more geeky and passionate people would invest time in their commentary, reviews and try and be more helpful and informative.

I have found when trying to research a problem - or find out about an area I need some help with -be it how to chose the right Apple Mac or solve a problem that you have to wade through piles of "stuff". There is a lot of noise that has to be waded through, and much of it is not very helpful (or accurate) ideas and suggestions. Increasingly you need to find experts with history and time of doing things.

I have found that my various blogs and even my videos of travel and hotel rooms on YouTube are growing in traffic and usage. I have been running them since 2005 and so there is history and so people (I suspect) are coming as they know there is depth there.

I think that the huge explosion in social media and everyone posting and commenting is the new SPAM! Just like it ruined email, it is ruining user generated content. Increasingly it is clogging up the system, and opening ways to a new way to emerge. More likely more validated and expert screening, and emeregence of more monitored and expert content.

What do you think? Post a thought and comment in the blog.

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