‘Social Media for Business’ lecture @ The University of Leeds

Slides from the 1hr ‘Social Media for Business‘ lecture I gave to around 50 students at The University of Leeds yesterday (21st February 2012).

Topics include:

  • how technology has changed in the 14yrs since I graduated from Leeds in 1998
  • how these developments have affected my career and personal life
  • how I use a wide range of free Social Media tools in business, with a particular focus on the Shell LiveWIRE programme
  • how people can use Social Media in their personal life to take control of their career and create opportunities for themselves

Please feel free to share this presentation with anyone you feel would be interested. If you’d like me to deliver a similar presentation for your business, organisation or event give me a call on +44(0)7734 722716 or email [email protected]

Thinking Digital Conference 2011 - Summary of Gerd Leonhard Presentation

“Everything is moving online into ‘The Cloud’ but we still need to work out how to monetise products and services that can’t be replicated digitally.”

Read below for my summary (and personal comments) of the fantastic presentation delivered by Gerd Leonhard (www.mediafuturist.com) on Day 1 of the Thinking Digital Conference @ Sage Gateshead on 25th May 2011.

‘The People of the Cloud’ / ‘People of the Screen’ expect things to be digital first, physical next.

You can no longer ‘force’ people to buy - you now need to ‘attract’ people to buy/upgrade from the free version once they’ve used and grown to love/need it (a classic Freemium model like LinkedIn).

“When copies are free, you need to sell things that can’t be copied”, Kewing Kelly (Better Than Free).

If people expect digital copies to be free (or very low cost), it’s down to you the ‘content creator’ to work out how to sell things that can’t be replicated or copied digitally. For example, although video footage can be streamed live or broadcast after an event, you can’t digitally recreate the actual physical experience (sights, sounds, smell and touch) of being at a live music gig, conference or training session and all the feelings of excitement and interactions before, during and after which take place.

‘360o Deals’ in the Music Industry

As physical record sales continue to fall, they are increasingly seen as merely a ‘calling card’ or marketing tool for artists and bands. At the same time, live music gigs and festivals are on the up. Therefore, record labels now seek to sign new artists and bands up to ‘360o Deals’ which means that they make money on live performance fees, merchandise, advertising endorsements, mobile ringtones, tv and movie deals , not just physical and digital download record sales. People can now even pay for a recording of a live gig immediately after a gig has ended.

Authors like Seth Godin understand this. They realise that some people want exclusive, advance copies of the latest titles sent directly to their Kindle or other eReader device (either for free in return for writing reviews, helping to spread the word and creating a buzz, or for a fee which ensures they get it quicker than all ‘normal people’ (see my earlier post about ‘The Domino Project’ and ‘Rise of the Information Jockey (IJ)‘.

Meanwhile, others will still prefer the look and feel of a physical book (hardcover or paperback which both have a different cost and speed at which they can be obtained/delivered. Further still, ‘superfans’ will happily pay much higher prices for limited editions which offer something unique and special. It’s all about offering choice and giving the user/consumer what they want.

Can you divide your products or services into digital, hardcover, paperback or limited edition-type versions?

Locking stuff behind a paywall or asking them to pay upfront is a deathwish online. It doesn’t work or make any money (or as much as you want). Sharing is the default mindset of the digital generation and if you don’t share you will be toast! Spotify rocks but their latest move (limiting the number of times people can listen to music for free) could signal the end.

“Data is the New Oil”

“Data is the new Oil” says Gerd  - a more succinct version of the original quote by Meglena Kuneva (EU Consumer Affairs Commissioner) in Brussels on 31st March 2009 in which she said “Personal data is the new oil of the Internet and the new currency of the digital world”

Both are great quotes which perfectly sum up the way things are heading (or have already headed) in the digital world. However, just like oil, the true value (and money) only comes from the myriad of products and services that can be derived from the raw material!

Social networks are broadcasters spreading news and information faster than traditional media channels. For example, “It takes roughly 41 seconds for ‘old media’ (i.e. tv) to report a breaking news story but just 28 seconds on Twitter!” New media then has the added bonus of being instantly ‘shareable’ - passing along far wider and more random patterns around the world.

We are moving away from providing digital copies which people can download and keep (MP3s, PDFs) to content they can stream so long as they continue to use the service (like the aforementioned Spotify).

The Future?

The future is all about;

• Bundling (content provided pre-loaded onto hardware devices like mobile phones)
• Freemium
• Up-selling
• Streaming

3 ways for creatives (or creators) to get paid;

• I pay (as a creator, you can get others to write a blog entry about you in return for payment)
• They pay (consumers are forced to watch adverts before accessing the content, i.e. at the beginning of a music video or computer game)
• You pay (consumers pay a subscription to access premium content & unlock additional features - classic Freemium model)

Find Out More / Discuss Further

If you’d like to read more from Gerd Leonhard (@gleonhard), visit www.mediafuturist.com where you can download free ebooks (the hope being that you will appreciate his work so much that you will go on to pay for a physical copy).

How To Use Social Media To Promote Your Business / Yourself

Handy beginners’ guide to Social Media tools to promote your business.

Social Media is the term used to describe the 2nd generation of websites (or Web 2.0) which enable greater interaction with their users. Traditional websites required passive consumption of information by the reader in a top-down approach, while the new wave of Social Media sites encourage the reader to contribute their own content and ideas.

Examples of popular Social Media that can be useful for business include;


Twitter is a micro-blogging tool which enables users to post 140 character messages online about themselves and their business. By searching for topics that interest you and are relevant to your business you can quickly build up a network of people to ‘Follow’ and recruit your own tribe of ‘Followers’. Individual posts or ‘Tweets’ can be posted online via the website or sent as an SMS text message from your mobile phone. Unlike normal text messages or emails, a single Tweet not only appears on your own profile page, but on those belonging to each of your Followers, making it a highly effective tool for spreading the world quickly about your latest news and ideas.

For help getting started, check out Twitter’s own ‘Twitter for Business website‘ or Follow Me @plandigitaluk and @lordlancaster.


With over 200 million users worldwide in 2009 (70% outside of the US), Facebook is one of the biggest social media success stories of recent years. Originally a way for college students to stay in touch with their friends, Facebook has since evolved into an easy and user-friendly way for individuals, businesses and groups of like-minded people to communicate with people around the world. With so many people using Facebook on a day to day basis it’s worthwhile having some kind of presence for your business on there, and it can be another useful way to market and launch a new product or service.

To start a Facebook Page where people can ‘Become a Fan’ of your business, comment on your products or services, interact with you and share content with their friends visit: www.facebook.com/advertising/?pages

To see how this works, take a look at the Shell LiveWIRE Facebook Page.

Shell LiveWIRE Social Network

A bit like Facebook for business, the Shell LiveWIRE Social Network is a great way to promote yourself and your business and should be seen as your ‘shop window to the world’. All users are provided with a free profile in which they can add photos, videos, classified ads, events diary and blog, providing the perfect place to network and do business with other Shell LiveWIRE members.

The Shell LiveWIRE Social Network is extremely well indexed by all the major search engines so regularly posting something on your blog will ensure high rankings in search results. (See our ‘Top Tips on using the Shell LiveWIRE Social Network).


The moving image is one of the most powerful ways to get your message across to people quickly. Businesses can use YouTube to post individual videos about their product or service, or create their own YouTube Channel containing a collection of videos related to what they do. Even with a basic video camera or mobile phone and a little bit of imagination, videos can quickly become viral and there are numerous examples of people who have had their clips viewed by over 50million users! Even if just a small number of people view your videos, YouTube is a useful and compelling medium for marketing and promoting your business that should not be ignored.


Boasting over 41 millions users worldwide, LinkedIn is a useful place for business professionals to host an online CV which can be used to find work or networking opportunities with other users. See my LinkedIn Public Profile at: http://uk.linkedin.com/in/lordlancaster


If your business is in the creative industries, particularly music, art and fashion, then MySpace is somewhere that you should definitely maintain a presence as it’s a great way to highlight your latest news and releases and reach out direct to your target audience. The Arctic Monkeys, Lily Allen and Little Boots famously built up huge armies of devoted fans through MySpace before signing their first record deals and so it has become an essential place for new businesses, record labels and artists to break new markets.


With a target audience of 13-19yr olds (mostly teenage girls), Bebo obviously isn’t for everyone. However, if your business provides products or services for this particular demographic then it’s the perfect place to get yourself known.


With over 1.3 million Ning social networks created and more than 30 million registered members around the world, Ning ‘enables artists, brands and organizations to simplify and control their online presence with their own unique Ning Network that integrates with other social media services while providing a direct relationship with fans, consumers and members.’ Take a look at my wife’s Ning network ‘Baby Friendly North East’ at: http://babyfriendlynortheast.ning.com


Flickr describes itself as ‘the best online photo management and sharing application in the world’ and provides an easy to use online system for uploading and sharing your pictures with anyone you like. Businesses can use Flickr to share photos of events or products they have available to buy which can be linked to from their emails, website, blogs or any other Social Media.


Blogs (an abbreviation of the word ‘weblog’) are a type of website that allow an individual or business to write a running commentary or diary of their activities which can be made available for anyone to see. Blogs can be purely text-based, but really come to life when enriched with other Social Media tools like YouTube videos, Twitter feeds, photos, audio and links to other external sites of interest.

There are a number of free blogging tools available, including WordPress and Blogger which provide users with a simple way to establish an online presence without having to pay for a website, and all Shell LiveWIRE members are provided with a free blog in their Social Network profile. Meanwhile, Technorati was founded as the worlds first blog search engine and has since evolved into a content provider for blogs around the world.