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Thursday 20 December 2012

2012 Marketing Year in Review

As 2012 is fast drawing to a close, it’s time to reflect on the big changes this year has brought us. For a more comprehensive and professional review of the year you can check out the very entertaining YouTube Rewind 2012, Google Zeitgeist 2012 (top searches) or Facebook year in review. If you’d like to do your own personal Facebook review, you can add it to your timeline here.

In terms of milestones, it was a year of Olympics
, PSY’s Gangnam Style, Samsung Galaxy S3 and The Avengers making the leap from Marvel’s comic books to the blockbuster movie screen. For me personally, I had the huge milestones of getting married to the love of my life Rachel, and starting an awesome new job at Samsung.

From a marketing perspective, I felt there were some amazing highlights that are worth revisiting:

And of course, a few big fails too. Nokia faking product features, Belvedere Vodka seemingly promoting sexual assault and a few other dumb zingers. You can see more #fails here and here
Have a Merry Christmas and a Happy New Year!

Thursday 6 December 2012

7 steps to build a social media-enabled employee brand ambassador program

Note: This blog post first appeared on, and is currently available at Firebrand Talent's marketing blog.

Have you ever had a customer track you down via Facebook, LinkedIn or Twitter to resolve a problem for them? What about a friend asking you for advice about a product that’s made by the brand you work for? If that’s happened to you, like it or not that makes you a brand ambassador.
Social media has rewritten the rules for engaging with customers. No longer can you be a faceless organisation that only relies on a small PR team to “spin”news, a marketing team to craft promotional messages, a customer service hotline to answer customer complaints or the field sales force to deal with everything else. Almost all of your employees can be tracked down and identified either via LinkedIn, Facebook, Twitter, Blogs and Forums. So what does this mean for your customer engagement plans? There are two options:
  •  Hope customers won’t ask questions via Facebook or Twitter, and that your current customer service/marketing/PR/sales force will cope with the diverse demands placed on them. Clearly, this isn’t realist or smart.
  • Embrace social media, train up all employees and build a strong network of brand ambassadors.
So what’s a “brand ambassador”? A brand ambassador is a passionate advocate of your products and company. They are someone, in any part of the organisation (from frontline staff to the CEO) who is proud to work there and to recommend your products to customers. There’s one other requirement that’s important: they must not be afraid of using social media to engage customers.
Here’s the 7 step guide on how you build a robust social media-enabled brand ambassador program:
  1. It all starts with a social media customer engagement policy. Here’s are 3 great examples from Intel, Coca-Cola and Dell.
  2. Define who you want to approach as the first generation of brand ambassadors. Is it the marketing team? Customer service team? Sales force? Or perhaps employees from any part of the organisation that are social media savvy? Ask for volunteers first, and then draft the right people as needed.
  3. Add customer/social engagement KPIs into each brand ambassador’s performance plan. Importantly, make sure this is also a KPI of the executive team. If the CEO has these KPIs in his/her plan, then it will be clear organisational priority.
  4. Training. This is so important. The training program should cover the basics like media training (how to respond to external enquiries, what to say, what not to say, etc.), your company’s code of conduct, your policy on confidentiality and sharing information as well as understanding social media (Facebook, Twitter, LinkedIn, Blogs, Forums, etc.). More advanced modules should focus on tone of voice, how to correctly identify yourself as a company employee, the blurred line between personal and professional social media, and so on.
  5. Provide tiers of engagement. Not all brand ambassadors are equal. Consider providing more intense training for employees that are already customer-facing, or who have high profile roles (the CEO, Marketing Director, Sales Director, head of product design, etc.).
  6. Ensure you have strong links back to the rest of the organisation, such as HR (for job enquiries), Customer Care (for customer service issues) or Sales. For example, studies have shown that 47% of people want customer service through social media, so it’s important your brand ambassadors know how to respond to service-related issues.
  7. Once you’ve got it right with the brand ambassadors, consider rolling it out for all employees. Dell is doing it and already has over 10,000 employees trained. Not only does this reduce the risk of things going wrong with employees using social media, it’s also 10,000 brand ambassadors who are actively engaging customers!
Finally, get help. This isn’t easy otherwise all companies would be doing it. There are specialists who understand this space and who you can outsource this to, such as Obviam ( and Third Space (

Tuesday 9 October 2012

Another Social Media #Fail: Why Every Company Needs Social Media Training

Another day, another social media #fail.

This time it was in Singapore and the furore was ignited by a (now former) employee of NTUC, Singapore's largest member-based organised, Amy Cheong. She posted racial remarks on her personal Facebook page that managed to offend almost everyone. There's a screenshot of the comments below. Here are a couple of great links to Phatfreemiguel's Blog and Marketing Magazine for more background info.

One of the problems (outside of the offensive remarks) was that it was on her personal Facebook page. So does this mean that it's ok to vent, swear and make offensive comments on your own private Facebook or other social media page? The answer is no. There is no such thing as privacy in social media, and the idea that the page or platform is private is a lie.

Everything you do on social media is public, even if on a supposedly private page. 

Comments can be copied, pasted and spread easily over the Internet. And the worst thing for someone when it goes wrong is that it never, ever goes away. It will be there forever, easily searchable on Google or Bing.
Today every employee is using social media, whether it be Facebook, Twitter, Linkedin or posting comments to forums and blogs. The real problem is that few organizations have yet caught up with use of social media, whether employees are using it in the workplace or not. The fact is that it doesn't matter whether bad social media behavior is on personal or company time, there's an expectation of a minimum standard of professional behavior in a public forum. Every organization must have a social media policy, in the same way they have a use of IT equipment policy, an ethics policy or a code of conduct. It's absolutely essential. Even more importantly, after an organization implements a policy they have a responsibility to train all employees in what's expected of them, their rights and their responsibilities both at work and in personal time. Social media is here to stay. Ignoring it is not an option. 

The best thing any organization can do is quickly get up-to-speed on this, otherwise issues like the Amy Cheong incident in Singapore could happen to one of your employees or to your brand. The consequences of getting it wrong can be damaging and long lasting if you get it wrong.

Sunday 23 September 2012

Business development #fail on Twitter: How NOT to pitch to me.

I believe passionately in the power of professional networking. Specifically, reaching out either in-person (usually at networking events or professional seminars) or via wonderful tools like email, LinkedIn or Twitter to cement a solid business relationship. Almost every day I receive an approach from an advertising/marketing agency, media owner, technology provider (particularly around mobile apps right now) or people looking to work for or with me (job opportunities).

I can’t speak for every brand/client-side marketer but I assume that I’m not alone or particularly unique in receiving these requests. I strongly suspect that marketers’ at most big brands are facing the same issue. Why wouldn’t you want to approach a Marketing Director, Digital leader or key decision-maker at a great brand like adidas, Chanel, Coca-Cola, Johnson & Johnson, NestlĂ© or (in my case) Samsung?

When done right it opens you, and the company you work for, to wonderful opportunities, better media and marketing and of course, great new partners. The problem is that very often, it is done so poorly or with such little consideration it often comes across as rude or ignorant. That’s why your calls or emails are not returned.

I recently wrote a guest blog post for Firebrand Talent, which goes into detail on how best to approach client-side marketers like me. I've written a commonsense set of 6 guidelines that I hope more people will take to heart. If followed, you're guaranteed to improve your sales success and build better relationships. The article, titled Agencies, media & digital companies: Your sales pitch sucks can be found here:

So with this in mind, I recently had a very strange encounter on Twitter that's left be frustrated and bewildered. I was asked by a supposed expert in social media and digital reputation management in the Philippines Tony Ahn if he could pitch for Samsung work, and get an introduction to the local marketing team. I say supposed, because the Twitter exchange ended in him insulting me personally - isn't that something a digital reputation expert hoping to win new business should try to avoid?

Here's what happened: 

If you are not familiar with the terms MAYABANG or YABANG, they roughly translate into arrogant or conceited in English.

Now sure, I might have come across as harsh but I hope the criticism would have been taken in the spirit of improving the communication or finding common ground. After all, my time is limited and I could simply ignore the conversation right? That may be a fair call. But to then take it to a personal level and get to insults, well that's not cool at all. What I find so bewildering about this exchange is how this is coming from an expert in digital reputation management and social media, who is clearly interested in winning new business.

So what do you think? Was I too harsh and deserve the insult? Or is this a case of a senior PR/social media person forgetting where they are (Twitter) and not practicing what they preach? Please let me know in the comments section below.

Update 1: There's a little more fuel that's been thrown onto the fire. This really doesn't seem like the best way to manage a relationship online...

Saturday 18 August 2012

Social data helps CMOs drive key decisions: New research & infographic from Bazaarvoice.

New research from Bazaarvoice & The CMO club: Today's top brands put consumers at the center of the business. 

CMOs can lead the consumer-focused revolution by harnessing first-person data created by online consumer conversations. But smart CMOs don't keep this data to themselves. They elevate to Chief Consumer Advocate when they share these insights across the entire organization.
In "Chief customer advocate: How social data elevates CMOs" top CMOs share: 

- Social data impacts decisions for nearly all CMOs
- CMOs use data to drive smarter decisions beyond marketing
- CMOs believe social reveals consumer sentiment and improves brand awareness

The full research report is available here on the Bazaarvoice website.

Wednesday 1 August 2012

It’s time to move on: Farewell Dell, hello Samsung

Samsung logoI write this blog post with some regret, as I’ve really enjoyed my time at Dell, but also with a lot of excitement as I’m moving onto to work at the number 1 brand in Asia, at a time of massive growth.

I have made mistakes in my career, particularly during my early career in Australia. Sure, nothing major – more missed opportunities, paths not taken and the pettiness of office politics as you climb the corporate ladder. But sometimes I think back and wonder “what was I doing?”. I have been given some amazing opportunities to work on some of the best brands in the world (such as Coca-Cola, Citibank and Australia’s own NRMA) but I either I feel that I hadn’t worked there long enough to really do more (I’d love to spend many years really building out great digital initiatives), or that I didn’t have the authority to make lasting, positive change.

Because of this, I made a very deliberate decision to work my arse off, be more than just an employee and do my absolute best to bring a lot of value above and beyond the job description to my next employer. I then made the best decision of my life – I moved to Singapore. This is where it has all started to pay off.

I believe my last 5 years in Singapore have been the best of my life and my career. When I moved to Singapore to join Ogilvy & Mather, I loved it! The country, my role(s) and the brands I had the privilege to work with. At Ogilvy, I was encouraged to network, discuss the cutting edge of what’s possible in digital, and actively promote Ogilvy’s work through social media. This later became the foundation of my industry thought leadership work (that I’ve continued through my role at Dell and now at Samsung). During my time at Ogilvy, I was honoured to be the first leader of Neo@Ogilvy in Singapore, and I founded Ogilvy’s digital and CRM conflict agency, Soho Square.

Then came my time at Dell. Wow! I have sincerely enjoyed working at Dell as their Online Director – Asia Pacific & Japan and Global Social Media Director. I love Dell’s products - sure, there have been some misfires but I believe Dell is on the right track. In my opinion Alienware is the best laptop or PC you can buy (I own 2 of them). Dell is also doing very well its transformation to become a B2B software, services and technology solutions provider. As far as job scope, I managed their online sales and marketing in Asia. Of course, Dell is the pioneer of e-commerce (the first company to hit $1m/day in e-commerce revenue, one of the first to launch eSupport and online discussion forums) and across, eTail partners (Taobao, 360Buy, Suning, Amazon, eBay, etc.), mobile and social commerce Dell makes well over US $1 billion in online sales in Asia. It was my job to manage and grow this revenue. As far as I know, it’s the biggest e-commerce job in Asia (well, except for the guys running Amazon, eBay or Tencent of course). And it’s been an amazing experience. In addition, I’ve had the pleasure of leading or being involved in many of Dell’s social media sales & marketing initiatives. Dell is the number 1 social business and has been a pioneer with initiatives like IdeaStorm, DellSwarm, monetising Twitter, Dell TechCenter, socialising the purchase path and the launch of Dell’s Social Media Listening Command Centre (to listen and respond to over 25,000 social media conversations every day about the Dell brand).

Now I’m moving onto Samsung Asia. I’m starting on Monday 6th August. My new role is Regional Marketing Director, Digital & Social Media. This is a newly created role that comes with both a lot of expectations and a fair degree of aspiration. I aim to help transform Samsung into a digital powerhouse. My ambition is that Samsung will be recognised as the leader in social media and that the digital marketing bar will be raised well and truly to global best practice level. It’s a tough ask but I’ve got a huge advantage because Samsung is already the number 1 brand in Asia, and one of the top 10 in the world. They also have top notch talent and great agency partners.

If you have any ideas, are already working at Samsung or at one of Samsung’s agencies, please reach out – I’d love to hear from you on how we can make Samsung the digital leader. It’s a really exciting time in my life and I look forward to working with you.

Tuesday 24 July 2012

Be a thought leader: Get on the speaking circuit & deliver awesome presentations

This is the second in my series on how to be a thought leader in digital. My first topic was about finding great content to share on social networks like Twitter and LinkedIn. This blog post looks at what really builds your credibility as a digital thought leader: public speaking.

Speaking at leading industry events, being involved in panel discussions or doing webcasts/webinars are critical in establishing your reputation with your peers and the industry. It’s certainly not easy though – if you get it wrong it can be extremely career-limiting. But if you get it right you’ll receive ongoing invitations to speak again or to share your knowledge. Getting it right can catapult you into the elite of the digital industry.

What to present? “What vs. How”

If you want to be a digital thought leader, you need to talk about digital! Anything in digital marketing, e-commerce, social media, mobile, website development or emerging technology is in hot demand. The difficulty is finding the right topic and content that’s going to resonate and engage the audience.  The biggest mistake I see most presenters make is focusing on only the “what”. It’s easy to do and the default setting for most presenters. When speakers talk about the “what” they usually discuss things like online platforms (e.g. Creating a Facebook brand page, the microsites/websites they’ve built or the fact that they’ve used search marketing to drive leads). For most of the audience, even those who are just starting out as marketing or technology professionals, already intuitively understand the “what”. The “what” quickly becomes “so what?”

Truly engaging presentations focus on the “how”. The “how” may start off discussing the “what” (the platform used, the marketing channels, etc.) but then digs a few levels deeper into the business problem. They then discuss the specific steps taken to address that problem, talks about the strategy and tactics used and then systematically deconstructs the campaign/initiative/plan for the audience. The best-of-the-best presentations are honest, open and transparent about the risks, pros and cons of what they did. “How” presentations are most often case studies from brands that have either wildly succeeded or failed badly, so it’s not always easy to be totally transparent. My advice on this is to try to be as open and honest as you can be without giving away confidential information. You may feel uneasy presenting your plans and case studies - “they will steal my ideas!” and “my competitors will copy my strategy” are common concerns. The reality is that this just doesn’t happen. So be bold, discuss your projects openly and transparently, and have the courage to stand by your ideas (and your brand). You will definitely inspire others, attract the best talent to your brand and build yourself as a thought leader this way.

Here are some tips on developing a great case study or “how” presentation:
  1. Set the context. Introduce yourself and explain why you’re presenting this, and why this project was important. Try to do this quickly in the first few minutes. Don’t waste too much time here and certainly don’t use this to do a long and boring sales pitch - everyone hates that and you lose credibility.
  2. Tell a story and get emotional. Setting the context and discussing the plan shouldn’t be dry or boring. You’re not presenting a sales report or the quarter’s revenue, you’re presenting something cutting edge and exciting. Act that way! Bring passion and emotion to the discussion and tell your story with heart.
  3. Present insights and data. Sure, you need to offer your opinion and your own analysis but what really makes a spectacular presentation is powerful data and customer insights. Examples include: Who are your customers? What is the state of the market? What’s the internet penetration rate? How many people are buying via mobile on your e-commerce website? How are 18 – 25 year old women using mobile to help make purchase decisions when at a fashion store, etc.? Wow the audience with data but don’t drown them in it.
  4. Discuss the clear business goals you had. If you wanted to drive more sales, state how much and by when. If you wanted to drive more marketing leads, be specific and present the actual number. If you wanted to engage your customers, don’t refer to them as “users”, present them as real people and talk about the effect your campaign/project had on their lives.
  5. Show the audience the framework and plan you used. Use one slide to present the specific steps you used. Use this as the set up for the bulk of your presentation.
  6. Breakdown the steps and explain how you achieved each step. This should be the majority of your presentation, as you take the audience through each stage of the project/campaign and how you achieved your win.
  7. Present tips, advice and talk about who helped you. Give credit where it’s due – mention the agencies and partners that made your project happen by name. The name of the company, and the names of the team. They will definitely appreciate the pat on the back and your thanks. Also, specifically mention each software program, free tool or platform you used. Importantly, tell people how much it cost. I don’t mean that you should give exact figures or give away confidential information, but present a ball park figure (did it cost hundreds of dollars, or hundreds of thousands of dollars?).
  8. Talk about your success and the results. This is straightforward. Just talk about how much revenue you made, how many leads you generated or the other specific measure of your success. If you failed, talk about the lessons learned and how you’re now applying them.

Where do I find interesting and relevant data and content?

In my previous blog post I mentioned a lot of different digital, tech and marketing resources you can use to find great content. That’s a great place to start for getting broad information and industry trends (with a specific focus on Asia). Here are other information sources that I find incredibly useful:
ADMA Yearbook 2012
  • ADMA Digital Marketing Yearbook – This has all the digital facts, figures and statistics for all countries in Asia. If you ever wanted to know the internet or mobile penetration rates, top e-commerce sites and how each country engages in social media, it’s all here. It’s an amazing resource.
  • SocialBakers have a lot of useful reports on social media and Facebook.
  • Slideshare is a wonderful resource where you can browse a huge library of PowerPoint presentations. Search by any topic to get inspiration and case studies for your next presentation.
  • is a great eNewsletter service filled with valuable information. In particular, I love the IAB’s SmartBrief.
  • The Asia Digital Map is a collaborative group blog authored by all parts of Ogilvy Group across the Asia-Pacific region
  • If you’re looking for great charts and statistics, eMarketer has everything you need.
Where should I present?

There are many big digital marketing, e-commerce, tech and social media events in the Asia Pacific region. Here are my personal favourites:

You can also talk to the great people at,,,, (and others) for more digital, tech and marketing events.

Good luck with your presentations and I look forward to seeing you speak at one of these events soon.

Monday 23 July 2012

Be a thought leader: Creating, finding and sharing great content

One of the most common questions I’m asked is where do I find all my content that I publish on Twitter, LinkedIn and other social networks? It’s a great question that can make or break you as a thought leader. If you’re consistently posting low quality or poor information this will hurt your reputation and quickly drive Followers and Connections away. On the other hand, having a focused stream of excellent content is one of the paths to being a respected thought leader. I usually publish between 5 and 20 posts per day, every day. So where do I find all this relevant (and hopefully useful) information?

Here are a few tips and information sources that I find useful when talking about marketing, digital, social media and technology:

The best content is your own.
This might seem like a pretty simple idea but with the millions of people tweeting, retweeting and reposting other peoples content it’s often overlooked. The best content, always, is the unique content that you create yourself. Not everyone has deep industry knowledge and many years of experience but everyone has a perspective. It’s simple – write down what you think.  This could be anything from a long, comprehensive article on an aspect of digital like Search Marketing or Mobile Advertising, or could be a short opinion piece you’ve written in response to someone else’s content or events/news in the industry. The important thing is to add your own flavor, in your own voice.

If you’re not sure where to start, there are 3 great blogging platforms I recommend. Google’s is what I use for my blog. You might also want to consider or – they’re all great. They’re also free and easy to set up.

Tips for creating your own unique content.

Not every blog post needs to be the length of a novel, nor does it have to be Shakespeare. It doesn’t have to be written text either – an image, infographic or a video are great for conveying your thoughts and ideas. Here are 5 tips for getting started on your own blog content:
  1. If you want to be a thought leader in digital, you need to stand for something. There are a lot of different areas of digital including social media, online advertising, creative, web development, video, mobile and search marketing. Pick the ones you’re most comfortable with, or are most experienced in, and simply write. Staying on topic and focus is good. It lets your ideas flow more freely.
  2. Short is great. A few simple lines or a couple of paragraphs is all you need.
  3. Longer is better. Sometimes you need to dive deeper into an issue, or feel particularly strongly about a topic. Break your content into sections (similar to this article) and write it down. In-depth articles are more likely to be shared, so when you get some spare time and the passion to write, go do it!
  4. 4Critique other peoples work. Look at articles on professional publications such as Mashable, Tech in Asia, TechCrunch, Forbes, Marketing Magazine, Ad Age, link to them via your blog and comment on them. Add your own insight or thoughts. Strongly agree or vehemently disagree. It’s your opinion that counts.
  5. Move beyond the written word. Some of the best and most sharable content is visual. If you have the time and inclination (and don’t feel like writing), get a video camera out and talk through your ideas. Publish it on your blog and make sure you create a YouTube channel. Images and infographics are also fantastic. Either share other people’s images and infographics (but please make sure you acknowledge the owner/source and are not infringing copyright), or better yet create your own.
Twitter (as well China’s QQ Weibo and Sina Weibo) are the best content aggregators in the world.

Twitter and Weibo are social services that allow you to Follow “interests”. This is fundamentally different from services like Facebook, which encourage you to connect to friends, family and colleagues in more of a social or fun context. The difference is that often you don’t share the same interests as the people you connect with on Facebook. It’s extremely rare that all of your family and friends work in the same job, share the same taste in music or like the same things. But you like them anyway and want to stay in touch. This is your “social network”. Twitter on the other hand is an “interest network” – it encourages you to follow acquaintances, strangers (and sometimes friends) who have the same job, work in the same industry or generally like the same things you do. This means that Twitter is fantastic for finding like-minded people in digital marketing, social media, e-commerce, technology, etc.

The best source of content sharing is Twitter. Follow as many people as possible who you feel are thought leaders or inspire you in what you do. Digital marketing experts have flocked to Twitter and are posting interesting stuff all the time. Take advantage of the unrestricted rules that allow you to follow up to 2,000 other people (note: you can go well beyond 2,000 people but you need to have about the same number, give or take 10%, following you back).

Be a little shameless as you cut and paste other people’s Tweets, or repost content you’ve been directed to. Its good etiquette to list the person you found the content through though, so keep this in mind before blatantly stealing without appropriate recognition. Or you can simply Retweet (RT) other great Tweets you find. Just remember 5 things:
  1. Focus is good – talk about areas where you want to be a thought leader or seen as an expert.
  2. Throw in a bit of personal info now and again, but be aware that the vast majority of people don’t want to know what you had for breakfast or intimate details of your last visit to the doctor.
  3. Interact with others, particularly the experts. Try to thank those that RT your Tweets, or simply comment on great Tweets you come across. Twitter might be focused on building your interest graph but it’s still social.
  4. Follow and Follow-back is the etiquette, but not the rule. You don’t want your Twitter feed filled with “How to make money online” scams, pointless quotes or irrelevant information. Be nice and follow most people back but carefully read the persons bio and previous Tweets to ensure their content is relevant.
  5. Be considerate and acknowledge others – it is great when others RT you or share the same content you do. But if you don’t bother occasionally thanking them or acknowledging where the original Tweet came from, people get tired pretty quickly of freeloaders (or even worse plagiarists). It’s just not cool.
Some of the key digital marketing leaders I recommend you follow on Twitter include: @Econsultancy @eskimon, ‏@hannahlaw, @JamshedWadia, @jeffbullas, @ladyxtel, @MargeryLyle, @Mashable, @rachelyyhuang, @ruhanirabin and of course me! @DamienCummings

Professional tech & digital-focused publications I recommend.

If you’re new to sharing content or just starting out, you’ll quickly realize that there are a few very influential publications that most people are sharing information from. Here are the leading blogs and publications I find useful:

There are many advertising and marketing publications worldwide. I focus my reading on Asia, specifically Singapore, Southeast Asia, Australia and China so my list is influenced by this. There are many great publications around the world, so I encourage you to find others in your country. Here’s my reading list:

Other excellent reading.

It’s not just the big players that make an impact on me. I regularly read through some of the industry thought leader’s blogs, as well as interesting content from other industries. These include:

And of course my own blog “Digital Future”:

Best of luck in your content creation and sharing, I look forward to seeing you on your Blog, Twitter, LinkedIn and other social media!