SMWLDN kicks off with FTSE 100 social media report

It’s that time of year again, when modern communicators and digital dynamos come together to celebrate the world festival of social media right here in London town.

It’s been a pretty full on few months for All about the Idea, what with the move to brand new offices, the launch of our new website, awards ceremonies a-plenty and, y’know, generally living the good life.  So AATI is taking a back seat this year (not literally, some of us have poor eyesight and – at any rate – we generally enjoy heckling from the front row) and attending rather than hosting events around the capital throughout the week.

This morning, I was at Battenhall’s #SMWwhatsnext event at The Soho Hotel. After a breakfast of pastries and (copious cups of) coffee, some 30 or so (maybe more) professionals headed in to hear the findings of their just-this-morning-released report on social media use by the FTSE 100, commentary from experts in their fields (private messaging, video and even Gen Z by Battenhall’s 18 year old resident ‘screenager’ Charlie Sharpe) and trend predictions for 2015.

Since most people in the room work with brands and businesses in the digital and social space already, the presentation itself covered ground with which the majority of us – myself included – were very familiar. However, the value of having your own professional insight validated by your peers should never be underestimated, and there was some interesting data to accompany the team’s conclusions.

Of the FTSE 100, 20 companies have fewer than 1000 Twitter followers. This is a pitiful statistic given the power and scale of these businesses. It’s worth mentioning, for instance, that BHP Billiton has got one follower (this is a huge increase from last year, in fairness, when it had zilch). Dunce’s corner is occupied by social media novices Serco, Prudential, Glencore, Travis Perkins (which is now investing in this area and has seen growth of around 500% over the past year) and Croda.

Now, what we at All about the Idea always say is that social media is not an add-on, it’s not to be done by the intern and it’s certainly not a case of ‘everyone is talking about social media, can I buy some of that please’, which are common pitfalls in the arena of B2B communications. However, you do not have to be a consumer brand to do social media really well.

Reset your ‘we don’t do consumer so we don’t need social’ mindset. Social media is a hugely powerful toolbox, comprised of individual components, each a complex and evolving thing in itself. Think social networks, and you must resist the temptation to think in terms of Facebook and Twitter; think conversation, dial down the urge to consider only text, images or video; think consumption and engagement, forget wearable tech and what comes after that at your peril; think audience, think communities.

The traditional definitions and parameters of communications between individuals, between individuals and businesses, and even between brands, are forever in flux. Businesses, particularly the big ones, need to shake off complacence, think like entrepreneurs and most of all, take advice. This is the world that we live in whether you like it or not. Lead the way! Don’t be afraid – see the opportunities, not the threats. Get some help. It’s an exciting landscape to navigate.

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