Fully Clothed Social Networking in Baker Street

Training can be fun

Tish Mousell

First, before I explain why there’s a photo of Tish Mousell to the left of this page, and why we felt like a spot of social networking in Baker Street today, I have some apologies to make.

To Estela41 and to Reicks4166, I apologise for my delay in approving your generous comments. In my defence, I have been in Spain with my lovely but deaf step-grandmother. She is 86, and is not online.

Secondly, I am now ghost writing Computer Precision’s blog. This devours time.

And, thirdly, the trainers at The EACA School, are busy writing new course work for the next year, which includes me.

To John Klawitter, yes! I have listened to the infomercial, which is good fun and has surprisingly high production values. Well done.

Finally, to Em Watts, enjoy your place in the digital sun. I’ll ring shortly.

Anyway, Tish and I were in a meeting room in Baker Street with ten other trainers debating the future of social networking. Richard Stacy led the meeting.

All of us think its effect will more profoundly affect some fundamental things than anyone has yet predicted.

At its heart, social networking gives power to the people. Deference to established icons of power will inevitably wane if people start getting their information from Facebook rather than the Government, the Police, Nestle, P&G, GSK and so on. Ian Tomlinson, the newsagent who died on 15 April 2009 when hit by a policeman during the G20 protest, was clearly unlawfully killed. We all saw it on television, because ordinary people recorded it on their mobile phones. The complete mess made of the autopsy was as disgraceful as the blow that killed Tomlinson. All the videos showed that he was simply walking home.

So, what are the opportunities for marketers?

The first step is to stop trying to ram information down people’s throats. An easier way to sell is to have a compelling story to tell. Ben & Jerry’s had this until they sold to Unilever. Aussie Haircare had it before it was sold to P&G. Innocent, now it’s in the hands of Coke, is also probably doomed. Other producers, with better stories to tell, will come along.

Apple is in this tricky spot right now.

Everything was going splendidly. The iPhone has been a smash hit. The iPad is forecast to sell over 27m units next year. The charismatic Steve Jobs is back on his feet. And then came along iPhone4.

I was sitting outside The Albion a week ago with Geoff Stickler, attempting to have lunch. The Albion is in Islington, London N1, so it’s not exactly out in the bush. Some sort of family drama was unfolding in France, but Geoff’s iPhone4 couldn’t hold the signal. He used my almost functionally useless BlackBerry Storm instead. It worked fine.

Unsurprisingly, Jobs has fired his new Director of Technology, but the net is still full of discontent, muttering and rumours.

The next blog will look at how to cope with protest on Facebook.

And, if you’re the ones doing the protesting, get in touch. I might be able to help.