A valuable social media event

I spent an educational day yesterday at The Social Customer, a one day conference on social media – how customers are using it, and how businesses are reacting to it. The speakers were all from larger companies, or from those assisting larger organisations with their social media.  

I’ll probably dissect what I learned in more detail, later. But the key messages I took away were: 

* just get stuck in – there’s no manual for this stuff, and big or small, no amount of planning will prevent mistakes. So get on and make them

* working out your return on investment is difficult – you have to commit, and see what return you get down the line

* ignoring social media is about as sensible as thinking the internet won’t affect your business

* if you’re a small organisation, social media is easier – yes, really. Big companies may be able to put dedicated staff onto the job, BUT they have to deal with technologically ignorant bosses, bureaucracy, silo mentalities or interdepartmental infighting, and daft rules such as those that prevent staff accessing the internet at work! 

The event was well organised, the speakers disarmingly candid, and the link to Frank Eliason live from the USA worked well too (even if the sound did make my ears bleed, a bit). Well done to Luke Brynley-Jones for his hard work. 


Whatever happened to rallying?

I’m just reading a biography of Bernie Ecclestone. Whether you love him or not, the guy transformed Formula One from a rag-tag bunch of cash-strapped racing engineers, to a global sporting phenomenon.

Sure, he’s done very well out of it. But in the manner of every really successful person, he’s helped many hundreds, maybe thousands, of other people to be more successful and better off along the way; his moves have always looked to have been for the benefit of the sport first, himself second. And Formula One really is a massive global sport, with countries and cities vying to be part of it.

Which got me thinking, whatever happened to the World Rally Championship? The contrast between top level rallying’s decline, and Formula One’s increasing appeal, could not be more marked. A decade ago, I was briefly connected with it, helping the Ford rally team with weather reporting from mid-stage, to help them select the best tyres for the cars. Citroen, Ford, Peugeot, Skoda and Subaru all fielded factory-supported teams, and in the UK we had heroes in Colin McRae and Richard Burns. There were rally reports on TV, and real-time results freely accessible on the web.

Fast forward to today, and just Ford and Citroen are fielding factory-supported teams, alongside a tentative entry from Mini, muscling it out with sponsored privateers. Is it on TV, somewhere among the satellite channels? And who are the drivers? I guess rallying never found its own Bernie Ecclestone.

Have we become a nation of softies?

The collapse of footballer Fabrice Muamba during a televised soccer match on Saturday was shocking, not least because it was unusual. Very rarely do we see anyone given the kiss of life (or CPR as it is officially known) live on TV, or in front of an audience of thousands.

Thankfully, there are plenty of people around who should be able to respond positively and help anyone who collapses suddenly, as Muamba did. I was taught the lifesaving technique at school, aged 10, and recent advertisements on the TV starring Vinnie Jones should help to encourage others to find out what they need to do, to help anyone who stops breathing.

But was it right to abandon the football match? I expect some to respond that it was the only course of action, as all the fellow players and referee were “traumatised”. Come on – surely, a decade ago, the natural reaction of everyone would have been to carry on with the game, once the poor guy was in the best possible hands and safely on his way to hospital. The more we allow such incidents to interrupt our lives, the weaker as a nation we become.

It’s only human for us all to wish Muamba well, to pray he makes a full recovery and that the medics and football trainers can learn something positive from his collapse.

Heart attacks can strike at any time, and Muamba is at least fighting for his life. Australian medics could not save 34 year old Gary Cornell, who died on Saturday of an apparent heart attack, while performing on stage.