Monthly Archives: June 2011

Strong and weak ties: Why your weak ties matter

imageStrong and weak ties are both relevant and important in your social networking interactions. They perform different functions in relationships but they can extend your network far beyond your normal reach.  Using and maintaining your socially weak ties can bring far-reaching benefits outside of your normal relationships. 

Think how you use LinkedIn for example.  Are all of your relationships “strong ties?”  Do you count all of your connections as good friends?  Or are they colleagues who you occasionally interact with?  Are they important to you at all?  Should they be?

Are your Facebook relationships all strong ties, or do you stick to Dunbars number theory?  You’ll probably find several sets of weak ties in your social networks once you start to look.  Do you connect with them?  Do you watch their activity feeds?  Do they look at your feeds to keep in touch?

Mark Granovetter refers to your strong ties as your friends and your weak ties as your acquaintances in his paper “Notes on the strength of weak ties”  Mark talks about the interpersonal relationships between different, disparate groups of people  and how they hold different sections of society together.  As humans, we can have both strong and weak tie relationships in our normal networks.  We can multiplex these relationships.  We are weak ties to some of our connections and strong ties to others.  Just like a network multiplexer our weak ties can carry both types of signals around our network.

In social networking these ties are crucial.  Think about strong and weak ties in the following way:

A strong tie is someone who you know well. You’ve probably got their number on your phone.  You interact with them on social networking sites. There is good 2 way conversation, and even if you don’t know everything about them, you know them pretty well and information flows freely.  We know the same information. 

  • Think about a group of geeks talking about technology.  They all follow the same news streams and all know what’s going on in the technology world.

A weak tie is a more tenuous relationship.  Once a year, you may  send them a Christmas message promising to be in touch more often.  If you look up their number, they are surprised to hear from you. You have different interests and don’t interact much.  You might have kept their business card in case it comes in handy one day. 

  • Think about a couple of your friends who understand technology but you wouldn’t class them as geeks.  Whilst they are on the edges of your circle of influence – they don’t follow the technology news as much as you do.  They have interests in other areas and aren’t as up to date technology wise.

However, these weak ties are crucial in binding groups of strong ties together.  They bring circles of networks into contact with each other, strengthening relationships and forming new bonds between existing relationship circles.

 as Mark says:

The weak tie between Ego <sic> and his acquaintance, therefore,becomes not merely a trivial acquaintance tie but rather a crucial bridge between the two densely knit clumps of close friends

These friends might have information that is mutually beneficial to each other, but more importantly, these ties encourage sharing of information across different groups.

Lets say I lived in a socially cohesive group consisting almost entirely of red wine drinkers. (Actually that could be true!). I would never get any information from the coffee drinkers at the edges of my network, as I only communicated with the red wine drinkers.  I might miss the new brand of red wine flavoured coffee that would add to the range of red wine I drink.  Focusing entirely on red wine means I’d miss the opportunity enjoyed by all of my coffee drinking weak ties. You get the idea..

I might miss other opportunities too.  Back to Mark:

…individuals with few weak ties will be deprived of information from distant parts of the social system and will be confined to the provincial news and views of their close friends. This deprivation will not only insulate them from the latest ideas and fashions but may put them in a disadvantaged position…

Weak ties might bring you the crucial information about a new job opportunity, a new start up business or new connections into other areas of your peripheral business.  Your relationship with your weak ties should be maintained and cultivated, knitting your networks together to encourage information free flow between the different parts of your networks.  This information flow could be information you need to get ahead in your own work, or it might be recommendations and information about your skills and abilities to get you the job / contract / opportunity you’ve been looking for.

Perhaps its time to get in touch with some of your long forgotten acquaintances and see what information you’ve been missing…

Image credit: flickr

Eileen Brown is a social media consultant and author of Working The Crowd: Social Media Marketing for Business.

Contact her to find out how she can help your business extend its reach.


Extended marketing: Gaining 3rd Party reach


Now this is cool.  My publisher at the BCS has just sent me this image, snapped from his phone at the Chartered Institute of Marketing (CIM) stand at the Marketing Week Exhibition at Olympia in London.

My book, Working The Crowd got a great write up the other day on the CIM site and a positive email review went out to all of their members too.

Here’s what they said about the book:

For those still stumbling around in the dark, Working the Crowd helps shed light on the game-changing nature of social media, its tremendous opportunities and the many dangers that await those who insist nothing has changed and it is just another route to market.
Social media guru Eileen Brown provides vital information and advice on every aspect of social media marketing, including:

  • Specific sites for various types of networking and engagement.
  • Blogs and microblogs.
  • Brand perception and reputation.
  • Legal issues.
  • The global audience.
  • How different age groups interact online.
  • Viral marketing.
  • Creating brand advocates.

Make sure this highly acclaimed title is the social media marketing book you keep to hand this year.

This example of extended marketing demonstrates how a key influencer – (the BCS) can influence one of their value connections (the CIM) to spread the message on their behalf. 

The message must still have value to the 2nd tier connection otherwise the message will not be propagated. 

By extending the message across different disciplines help you reach a new and wider audience.  This concept of mapping your connections and taking advantage of the weak ties in your social graph can bring you value in your social media outreach activities. 

Utilising the power of your weak ties can bring you significant benefits 

Its good to see that the value extends beyond my traditional geeky arena and onto the broader world of marketing.  It’s nice to see the topic crossing boundaries like this.

“Highly acclaimed”,”help sheds light on the game changing nature of social media”, “the social media marketing book”  All good strong comments in their review.  It’s great to see such a positive review of my work from a large credible organisation like the CIM.  I’m delighted.

I notice that the CIM say I’m a guru too.. surely this means I can buy more shoes?  Well, I reckon any reason at all is a good enough excuse to buy shoes… Now I’m off to the shops to hunt for some high heels…Smile

Eileen Brown is a social media consultant and author of Working The Crowd: Social Media Marketing for Business.

Contact her to find out how she can help your business extend its reach.

Changing corporate culture: 1 person at a time

imageI met with an old colleague this morning who was very involved with changing the leadership and management culture at Microsoft. It’s great to catch up with colleagues from the past and I always try to keep in touch with as many folks as possible when I’m over in Seattle.

This leader has transformed the lives of many team members, and managers at Microsoft through his Management Excellence programme.  This program, in addition to growing and developing managers, also highlighted poor managers, brought up their behavioural and cultural issues that needed to be remedied by people further up the leadership chain.  In short, the programme produced some truly great managers.

He saw my post on 10 career limiting moves from yesterday and he pointed me towards this great article on the journey to values based cultures written recently by David Greenberg.

David has some really great points about culture and change.  Here’s the last paragraph from his post

Culture as a strategy, fuelled by values that are translated into tangible behaviours and embedded in the gears of a business, can create a sustained competitive advantage in the marketplace. Ethical cultures are not created overnight. But ultimately, tomorrow’s winners will be those who invest in systems inspired by values-based culture.

In order to embrace the culture of the business, you need to embed the culture right across the organisation.  That means:

No senior leaders creating cliques and exclusivity amongst their “gang”

No ‘alpha females’ behaving like aggressive, domineering men in order to get promotion or get into the clique

No side meetings, politics and behaviour designed to exclude a subsection of the group

Great leaders should be willing to step off their podium and let others step up to take the challenge, grow and develop themselves.  Great leaders should take responsibility and ownership if their chosen person fails.

Great leaders shouldn’t have to ‘re-invent’ the company culture – it should be embedded at all levels throughout the company

Culture should be allowed to organically grow – not embedded into a training program.  The culture should define the company, the company shouldn’t define the culture.

With a programmatic approach, diversity will fail.  Embracing the culture and rewarding cultural diversity not homogeny will change the way that organisations behave. 

Our challenge is to drive this across our organisations by the people who can really make it happen.  My buddy in Redmond was the man who started to change Microsoft’s culture one person at a time.

What a shame he was moved to another role before he could complete his task…

image credit: Flickr

Eileen Brown is a social media consultant and author of Working The Crowd: Social Media Marketing for Business.

Contact her to find out how she can help your business extend its reach.


10 career limiting moves

imageI caught up with some old friends today in Redmond, old buddies and co-workers.  We were chatting about life, Microsoft and careers and I noticed a definite theme appearing. 

All of them had examples of serious career limiting moves that had impacted them in the past. 

Stacey had a great few leadership tips things that you should do and things that you definitely shouldn’t do.  I’ve summed some of the conversation tips below:

  1. Don’t pass up a great career opportunity because you feel loyalty to your team
  2. Don’t miss the opportunity to get a mentor.  Get a mentor who will challenge you – not agree with you.
  3. Don’t let yourself be bullied or intimidated.  Speak out now.  Others who get the same manager after you will thank you for your action to correct this,
  4. Don’t burn yourself out.  No job is worth it.  It’s your job not your life.
  5. Don’t post inappropriate pictures on Twitter.  Twitter is far too public and screenshots of your photo are easy to do.
  6. Don’t bitch or flame anyone online.  You will come to regret posting online.
  7. Don’t use the Reply all button in haste. Set a 10 minute delay in Outlook
  8. If someone gives you a day to ‘think things over’ make sure you ask for someone’s advice.  Don’t chew it over by yourself, you’ll probably make the wrong decision the next day.
  9. Don’t try to go it alone.  We all need help and advice – even on your own pet project.
  10. Don’t try and read absolutely everything that falls into your inbox or RSS reader.  Your head will explode with all of the information you need to process. Filter the fire hose and get some time back in your life.

Good tips – I’ll be implementing them as soon as I can…

Image credit: Flickr

Eileen Brown is a social media consultant and author of Working The Crowd: Social Media Marketing for Business.

Contact her to find out how she can help your business extend its reach.


When to post your social media update

I’ve often seen data that points to repeating your social updates to catch all time zones.  Guy Kawasaki mentioned that he rebroadcasts on Twitter 3 times per day 8 hours apart to catch the correct audience around the globe.

If you’re following a large amount of people, you might miss their updates – even if they are rebroadcasted.  your messages might also get lost in the spam and other messages in your stream.

But what is the ‘right’ time to post an update like a blog?  Well it depends on the audience you want to attract.

Dan Zarella did some research – covering the US only, which indicates that 80% of your intended audience are online on Eastern and Central time (GMT – 5 and GMT – 6).  If this is your intended market, then this is when you should be broadcasting. 

But when Eastern or Central?

Well if you’re broadcasting information linking to your blog, its best to do this at mid day eastern time, or 6pm:


Spikes when people are at lunch or home from work.

There’s more data contained in this infographic from kissmetrics which has the data for other types of click through behaviour on the blog.

Some interesting information if your target audience is in the US.  Shame its not worldwide…

Eileen is a social media consultant and author of Working The Crowd: Social Media Marketing for Business.

Contact her to find out how she can help your business extend its reach.

Speaking for free

imageI receive requests to present at conferences at least once per week. I’ve got a great pedigree from speaking at conferences and large events and I work with large corporate clients on their social media strategy and online branding activities.

But most of the enquiries I receive want me to travel to the location and present for them for free.  Take these recent requests for my time for example:

One organisation wanted me to speak for them at a social media strategy event.  One of their corporate speakers had dropped out at the last minute and a week before the conference, they had no one to take their place. They had charged each delegate £495 to attend the strategy workshop, but because they sourced their speakers from Agencies and corporates, they would not pay any of their speaker fees.  They reasoned that the great networking opportunity would be worth the investment in my time

Another event in London later this year, boasts some large corporate names.  They are charging each delegate a fee of £500 for the day.  They never pay their speakers a fee and they don’t usually pay any travelling expenses.

Each of these events have costs to bear for hosting the event so it’s understandable that they would have to charge a fee.  They would have to pay the venue, the events team and the marketing team for their work around the event. For the event itself, a venue would normally charge about £50 – £100 per delegate for catering and use of the hotel room for the day.

Yes – you’ve done your sums correctly.  Take away marketing and logistics and the company has turned a  nice profit for each event they run.

And by speaking at their conference,  I would have helped them with their revenue stream.  At my own cost.

I’m happy to speak for free. I regularly talk to networking groups and non profits. I run workshops showing businesses how to use social media to their advantage. Non profit organisations will always pay a reduced fee and my travelling expenses. But I believe that this should be different for profit based organisations.

Of course, I’ve got a great opportunity to meet new businesses, and network.  I’ve got a great opportunity to showcase my knowledge outside of this blog, and I can get to meet and network with other speakers.

But does this actually turn into revenue?

Customer opportunities have to be worked on.  Relationships need to be made and built upon.  Trust needs to be gained, and credibility established, 

That’s hard to do in a 45 minute session on stage.

So when you want to hire a speaker to speak at your event, consider things from their perspective.  The speaker has to spend time preparing for the presentation.  They will have to research, and create the slide deck and interact with the organisers of the event.

They will need to spend their own money travelling to the event, and they will not be able to do any funded work whilst at the event.

If you’re planning to hold an event similar to the type of event that I’ve described above, then don’t be surprised if the ‘free’ speaker lets you down at the very last moment to deliver some funded work for a client.

A client who values their time – and is willing to pay for their knowledge and experience – which will ultimately add to the clients revenue stream and profit.

Think about that when you’re trying to get someone to do something for nothing. 

You might just get what you pay for…

What do you think?  Would you speak for free to a company that makes money out of your efforts?  I’d love to know

Eileen is a social business consultant and author of Working The Crowd: Social Media Marketing for Business.

Contact her to find out how she can help your business extend its reach.

Image credit: flickr

Time lapse social tourism

This is a visually stunning wonderful time lapse video – and its a very compelling way to get visitors to visit your location.  Have a look at this time lapse video of New York, filmed over a 6 week period.


Josh Owens from Mindrelic shot these time lapse images, staying in many different hotel rooms to get a great perspective of the city.  He credits all of the hotels that he stays in too, and lists the gear set up that he used.

Its a simple enough way of marketing his own services, but an incredibly difficult thing to do something like this well.  Josh has created something visually stunning and effective and he has created a video that really captures the essence of Manhattan.   Brands with huge budgets would struggle to create something as simple or as effective for their budget.

I hope Josh goes on to capture time lapse images of cities in the same way.  The tourism industry would get a much needed boost from visitors wanting to experience the pulse of the city for themselves.  As I look out at the lights of the Las Vegas strip, I can’t help wondering what an amazing and visually impressive project it would be if it was repeated here…

Eileen is a social media consultant and author of Working The Crowd: Social Media Marketing for Business.

Contact her to find out how she can help your business extend its reach.