Five prin­ci­ples of social objects

Jyri Engeström

Jyri Engeström

Jyri Engeström, co-founder of Jaiku and now Google employee, has always been an advocate of understanding social objects. Social objects are one of the key building blocks of digital content.

The social sites we visit today are not just friend networks — they’re also built around objects that connect people with shared interests.

These social objects could be anything from a photo on flickr, a video on YouTube, a track on This concept may not be new information to some of you — Jyri has been talking about “social objects” for years now.

So what are Jyri’s Five Prin­ci­ples?

  1. Define your object. This is the easy part, but perhaps most important. The social object will be the center of your network. On eBay, it’s whatever item you’re selling or buying. On Amazon, it’s a product. On Flickr, it’s a photo and so on.
  2. Display your verbs clearly.What do you want people to do with your social object? Do you want them to comment? Rate it? Share it? Watch it? Make sure whatever action they should take is clear and highly visible on the site.
  3. Make the objects shareable. This is almost a no-brainer, but you would be surprised how many sites have not made it easy (or even possible!) to share the object which their site is centered around.
  4. Turn invitations into gifts. Want your friends to join you on the network? Don’t just spam them with an invite, send them something of value. Jyri mentioned how a purchase of a Skype headset years ago also included a set for a friend. Also, PayPal had originally offered a small amount of money posted to the account of your friends who signed up for the service.
  5. Charge the publishers, not the spectators. On any network, there are those who are creating and those who are passively consuming the content. You shouldn’t charge the latter, only the former. The people who are actively using the service and are getting value from it in some way are the ones who would be willing to pay for additional features or, in some cases, just to use the service itself.What is interesting, though, is how well this information has held up over time. Or has it? Do you find this useful?

Facebook content marketing advice from Nissan, versus its dealer network (small businesses)

Sunday might be a great day to post more content on Facebook

Sunday might be a great day to post more content on Facebook


The success of Nissan’s main brand page indicates that there could be advantages for its dealers in terms of engagement if they redirect their focus.

The parent company has resource to pour into social media marketing and it may have patterns of engagement that are worth looking at.

Let’s recap our findings:

  1. Bring cohesion to your messaging. What role does your business play in the lives of the people who have “liked” you on Facebook? It’s probably more than their daily dose of cute jokes. Don’t drop those entirely — nobody wants to follow a boring stream of company sales speak.
  2. Small businesses like dealerships should aim to post content that connects their industry to human-interest topics, such as local traffic information, suggestions on the best weekend road trips or even the occasional discount offer. Think about how your audience might relate to your business in their personal lives and you are almost guaranteed to find content-worthy points of intersection.
  3. Try posting more rich media. Firstly, it’s getting the highest engagement, by far. And secondly, it’s more likely to be shared. Ask yourself, would you be more likely to share a status or a photo? For most people, I think photos have a tangible quality that induces sharing.
  4. Rich media can be expensive to produce, but there are also cost-effective alternatives. Try using content from the main brand’s assets. There’s also aggregation, or content curation. You could look for someone within the company who possesses both a decent camera (doesn’t have to be a pro) and an eye to match. You could even ask consumers to get involved. Activating the community to generate content would kill two birds with one stone.
  5. Try posting more content during non-business hours. Part of content strategy involves understanding what mindset people are in when they read your content. And someone sitting around on a Sunday afternoon might be in just the right frame of mind to read about how remarkable a new model is that just arrived. It could even get them off the couch and up for a drive to check it out.
  6. Understanding what works is an ongoing process. People’s interests can change over time and, with many product categories, even by season. Fortunately, social media has made it easier than ever to gauge what’s of interest to a target audience. And the more you know about what interests them, the more likely you are to create content that tightens the relationship they have with your brand.

Social media statistics: B2B marketing communications

There’s no doubt that social media has added a huge dimension to marketing communications. To many of us, it’s not just an add-on, it’s a sea change in the way that enterprises communicate and behave. Social media has changed many institutions and we are in the middle of a revolution in the way technology will help us plan, communicate and market goods and services

Marketeer at laptop

Marketeers and business owners need to keep a weather eye on the major B2B social media platforms

Meanwhile, we have to get on with the day job. But what are the numbers behind the most popular B2B social media platforms? In any enterprise, publishing valuable content is a given and I am an evangelist about content production and management but as well as ‘what’, we also have to plan ‘where’.

Statistics are vital when it comes to making decisions about where to publish content: it’s like using the old BRAD or PR Planner (OK, if you’re too young t remember, move on!).

It’s like the old adage about PR: you can’t not do public relations — all that can be debated is whether you manage it actively — or not!

Facebook: 800 million users. More than 75% of users are from outside of the US. Three spikes in Facebook activity tend to occur on weekdays at GMT 4 pm, 8 pm and 1 am (EST* 11 am, 3 pm and 8 pm): however, posts published in the early afternoon, GMT, seem to perform better.

Twitter: 300 million users. A majority of Twitter users are between the ages of 18 and 29. More than 50% of users are female and about 15% of users identify themselves as marketers. Minority internet users are more than twice as likely to use Twitter as are Caucasian internet users. Peak usage seems to occur between 2 pm and 6 pm EST, 7 and 11 pm GMT.

LinkedIn: 116 million users. Many of the people on LinkedIn are professionals, business owners or other talented individuals. More than half are international users. Peak activity occurs between 2 and 8 pm GMT.

Google+: 60 million users. Its user base tends to skew towards males, with most prominent occupations being in software engineering and development. They also tend to be between the ages of 25 to 34.


*The Eastern Time Zone (ET) of the United States and Canada is a time zone that falls mostly along the east coast of North America. The GMT time difference is −5 hours during standard time and −4 hours during daylight saving time.

In the United States and Canada, this time zone is generally called Eastern Time (ET). Specifically, it is Eastern Standard Time (EST) when observing standard time (winter), and Eastern Daylight Time (EDT) when observing daylight saving time (spring to autumn).

Marketing on a shoestring: inbound, outbound tactics and SOSTAC®

I orginally wrote this as a reply to Jane Hatton on another blog about her new enterprise Evenbreak, which matches employers, who value diversity, with disabled candidates.

Jane, there seems to be a lot of confusion between ‘marketing’ and ‘marketing communications’ in recent discussions online.

The difference is more obvious the bigger an enterprise gets, when responsibilities are delegated to separate departments and outside agencies but it is still an important distinction for a micro-enterprise to make.

Smaller enterprises invariably have to heap a bundle of management responsibilities onto one person. To draw a parallel in accounting, even a small firm distinguishes between book-keeping (keeping accurate financial records) and management accounts (financial information for decision-making), even if the same person is responsible for both and they can merge into the same activity. So marketing and marketing communications should be seen as distinct activities with different purposes.

Jane Hatton working lying down

Jane is herself disabled and can only work in this position

Marketing used to be functionally divided into the four ‘P’s — Product; Place; Price; Promotion. What you are talking about in your post is promotion: but before promotion begins, a true marketing approach means that you need to have ensured that your product and price are market-ready and market-acceptable. Small enterprises can rarely afford the luxury of market research or trial launches so it is normally carried out as part of day-to-day operations, using feedback from early adopters..

In any case, many pundits now advocate — in the era of Web 3.0 and social media — using the five ‘E’s — Experience (instead of Product); Everywhere (instead of Place); Exchange (instead of Price); Evangelism (instead of Promotion) and, finally, Enablement — using crowdsourcing, polls, wikis, viral effects, SEO, blogs and social media.

‘Everywhere’ indicates the universal nature of the Web but I suspect there is still a natural limit to Evenbreak’s reach — probably mainland UK? Exchange is the practice of having a pricing model which allows some initial functionality free and gradually charging as additional features are used.

What you describe in you post is Promotion — now better-labelled Evangelism and Enablement. Two commoner names for these (marketing communications) functions are Outbound Marketing Communications and Attraction Marketing Communications (or Inbound or Digital Footprint or any number of terms which online snake oil sellers are trying to make their own).

You may think I am being pedantic in continually using the term Marketing Communications (MC) — and I may be — but the division is useful if it persuades an enterprise to return to the marketing drawing board if some of the fundamentals of a service prove unacceptable to its marketplace through sensitive, two-way MC.

What you have described, very thoroughly, is an Inbound MC Programme, with the exception of the hard copy letter, passed by the Chief Executive, and events. These I would class as Outbound MC — Evangelism.

I have worked for a start-up over the last few weeks and, because he had done his market research quite carefully, I helped him plan both Inbound and Outbound MC Programmes which I am helping him to execute.

Why both? Because he need short-term results and I have facilitated acquiring data on his target individuals at 30p a shot (commercial property landlords in development mode) and using a home-based B2B telemarketer whom we can task, flexibly, at a minimum of two hours at a time.

She sets up appointments and feeds the data into an online CRM system which also links into the email marketing database for a number of follow-up emails according to landlords’ response and resulting position in the sales funnel. Plans for a webinar in the new year are in hand.

We run a modest PPC AdWords Campaign, partly to help us research and optimise our Keyword List.

We are also running an Inbound MC Programme — blog, social media, links, SEO, guest blogs, LinkedIn Q&A, digital PR — but results will take two to three months to come through and, meanwhile, the Outbound MC Programme is getting the sales funnel moving immediately.

We use Paul R Smith’s SOSTAC® Planning System [] and have created two documents — a Marketing Plan and Marketing Communications Programme — using the SOSTAC template. Rather than written in stone, they are in Google Documents and available to the whole team and continuously amended to take account of marketing intelligence and remarks from telemarketing and data from the CRM system and a Digital PR Dashboard (also in Google Docs as a spreadsheet).

The Dashboard has all the indices necessary to monitor and measure the progress of the MC Programmes and help us decide how much telemarketing or inbound activity to commission each week to meet sales targets.

When referring to your (Inbound MC) tactics, you say “most cost nothing but time and imagination”: time and imagination are in short supply, probably more so than cash. That is why my customers pay me — to supply them. They also pay for dedicated execution which is a key part of creativity. Ideas need to be delivered!

I am a great admirer of your enterprise — in both meanings of the word — and, if I can advise in any way, I would be happy to provide some of that free time you mention.