Category Archives: Social media marketing

My Most Popular Blogs of 2015

Which of my blogs and articles grabbed your attention last year?

Here is the summary:

January

In January I wrote a lot of articles for my own blog, The Guardian and CMO.com. 

Social media, innovation and the digital dragon. The ‘digital confusion’ is something we all have in common and I think that many people liked the dragon metaphor I used. I was on my to China when I write the article, to teach a masterclass in digital strategy and digital leadership.

 

I shared six tips for event organisers about how to create diverse events in The Guardian Women in Leadership section. How to create a diverse event: tips for the World Economic Forum organisers 

On CMO.com I wrote about creativity in organisations, I use to say that I can smell if a company is creative in a short ten-minute visit. Check out the articlehere.

February

One of the BIG topics at the moment is personal branding and its impact on us. I like this sentence: ‘Just because you don’t believe in having a personal brand doesn’t mean you don’t have one.’ Be Remembered; Get Promoted – Personal Branding Tips For Digital Marketers

March 

I think it would be amazing if we could use the internet to improve democracy in the world. Here are some reflections I did earlier this year. Digital democracy? Yes please!

This post also got a lot of attention, it’s connecting with why you have to understand humans and personal branding better. Fans, loyalty, social media and the role of true engagement.

April

I wrote a piece about how social responsibility is connected with business success for CMO.com. A brand that’s not seen as taking responsibility for it’s own action and mistakes is not very popular: Why Businesses Should Focus More On Social Responsibility

I was interviewed about the anonymous web and why it attacks us and I wrote this article after that.

May 

In May I got familiar with Marie Kondo and her tips for tidying up. I used her method to sort out my books. For it was amazing, there are so many different books that I’ve read that I will never read again. My big spring book clean – with a touch of Japanese philosophy

June

I wrote about the smell of a brand in January, and in June I shared some thoughts about sound on CMO.com. The Sound of Your Brand

July 

This article, Digital leadership, innovation and collaboration, was featured in Big ideas and innovation in LinkedIn Pulse and got over 7,500 views in a few days. I think it’s one of my top three articles on LinkedIn if you look at reach.

One of my friends who is a DJ and songwriter told be she writes songs so she would be remembered when she is gone. That made me write this blog post:Having an impact, being daring and self-leadership

August

In August I was accepted to blog for Huffington Post and I’ve built up a nice collection of posts there.

My first post was a poem: A Poem About the ‘All-Male Panels Tumblr’

I got inspired from a Swedish author to write about modern sins: ‘The 7 Modern Deadly Sins of Digital Leadership’.

September

This post got shared all over the web and on Twitter. Arianna Huffington, editor-in-chief of Huffington Post tweeted the article and then lots of more people shared it. Thank you Arianna! What Is the Connection Between Leadership and Digital Stress?

October 

In October I had to kill the myth about the 6-hour workweek in Sweden, it’s not true at all… It’s a Myth: The Swedish Six-Hour Workday

I also wrote an article about the Death Cafe for the Guardian: ‘I’d never been able to talk to Mum about mortality. A death cafe changed that‘. It was shared a lot and there were some people who contacted me! Thank you for your feedback, me like a lot.

November 

I started a social media question and answer on my website in 2015 and some of them have got a lot of attention.

Social Media Q&A: Starting Out And Planning The Digital Strategy For a Small Business

December 

I get a lot of questions about how to handle your life online and in December two people asked me about if it’s ok to remove friends on Facebook, here is my answer. Q&A: I regret removing friends from Facebook during a random Facebook cleanse

Thank you very much for reading.

I read every email, comment and tweet that you send me, so please do reach out.

Have a good start of 2016!

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My website is www.sofiesandell.com

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Twitter’s branding dilemma – a letter to Twitter’s new CEO Jack Dorsey

Dear Jack,

I’ve been following the debate about Twitter’s future with great interest lately, and now that you are the CEO and thus at the helm of Twitter I thought I would share some thoughts.

Over the years I’ve discussed social media and the use of Twitter with people at my masterclasses. Many find Twitter very complex. The growth of Twitter is slow if you compare it with some of the other social networks available, and here are some dilemmas that I often hear about.

Twitter has a troll problem = branding issues. For a long time there was complete silence from Twitter about trolls and the harassment that takes place on the platform. If you are hesitating about signing up and read about the haters all the time, then you won’t be keen to join the community. Twitter is the Wild West for haters, and that stops people from getting involved.

An other branding problem has to do with the platform’s users, and the perception of who they are. For many it feels as if the people who traditionally have had power, politicians, journalists and academics, are Twitter’s most frequent users. There are a lot of people who don’t feel that they belong in that mix and therefore don’t bother.

Then we have the length of the message and writer’s block. The 140-character limit awakens the inner critic in people’s heads. Yes, I know that you can link to a website and write a longer message there, or take a screen grab of a message, or add a video, but the whole point of the platform is that it gives you the ability to share thoughts that matter to you right now and the way you want.

When you sign up to Twitter there is no introduction to the service. It takes less than a minute to set up an account (this entry barrier is very low) and then there’s silence.

There is no customer service. Or if there is it’s invisible. When someone has a problem with their account it would be useful to have support from human beings, not just forms to fill in and automatic email replies.

Changing one of the most important functions from a star to a heart was a brave move in making Twitter feel more human. Let’s see what the users think about it and if they ‘heart’ more tweets than they starred.

What you really need to ask yourself is who would miss Twitter if it wasn’t there any longer (I would) and what kind of information wouldn’t be shared if you couldn’t tweet?

Good luck rebranding Twitter. It’s needed!

Sofie Sandell

twitter-147793_640

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Digital Storytelling and the Creativity Behind It

One way to stand out on the very busy web is to master digital storytelling. Why? Because since the first time human beings were able to speak to each other we have shared stories and experiences and have chatted about all kinds of random things.

Digital storytelling is the fusion of stories and digital technology. By combining text, images, music, videos and voice together with a story you create a digital story. The outcome can be a blog post, a video, a slideshow, a gif, or a blog post with a mix of different elements in it.

Word cloud digital storytelling

Anyone with a story and access to a digital device can do it. It’s about trying out new combinations of what’s available and incorporating them into your story.

Good stories make us watch, read or listen when we are online, they light a fire in the mind and make you consider what you stand for yourself. Organisations that are good at getting us to do that are the new stars of marketing and digital engagement.

Imagine you are on a weekend trip with friends. You chat, hang out and have fun. When someone tells a good story everyone listens and then you say things such as, ‘love that story’, ‘wow’, ‘what a surprise’. When we are in groups we share stories without even thinking about it, and a good story always has a point.

Every post that you share online is part of your digital story. This is true for both brands and people. It’s the collection of stories you share that together create the full picture.

A large organisation with a big web presence will carry out say 70 website and social media updates per day. All of these updates are part of the organisation’s digital story.

Once upon a time

Being fluent in digital storytelling

Having an innovative approach to branding and marketing helps hugely when creating stories. We have apps, smart digital tools and software that can help us to create and combine sound, video, images and text.

Digital storytelling is an ongoing process that starts with ideas and next moves into the research stage when you start writing down the story. Then you create the content and edit it. In the last step the story is shared publicity and then you evaluate the results, and here you learn what worked and didn’t work and start again. When you take creativity to the next level you are moving through this loop and listening to the feedback you get every time.

Stories work like an engine for our imaginations. Brands that help people to imagine what they want, build closer relationships with them.

One secret behind great storytelling is people. People who are engaged and enjoy their job create better stories than people who are uncommitted. To create content that stands out online you need to have a devoted team.

Something else that makes your stories stand out is continuity. You need continuity in your workflow with new stories of all sizes appearing every day.

Behind a great storytelling team lies commitment to the brand, great leadership, a clear branding message and a sense of common direction.

When you have a dysfunctional digital team that doesn’t share information or understand the branding and the mission you will find it incredibly hard to create good stories.

People and passion are connected. People with passion will create content that leads to engagement, and that will (hopefully) lead to higher profit.

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If you think your network would enjoy reading the post please share it with them on social media.

Thank you! Sofie

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Seven Ways to Look Really Unprofessional and Senseless on LinkedIn

On Monday morning this week I saw that one of my connections on LinkedIn had shared a sexist image in his feed with a message on it saying: ‘A stranger is just a friend you haven’t met yet’.

I thought that his account had been hacked and someone else had shared the image without him knowing. I went to his page, clicked on ‘View recent activity’ and I scrolled down and saw that he had a few similar updates in his feed. So, I’m pretty sure it was him sharing the image. I was tempted to comment, and I started to write that I thought it was unprofessional to share this kind of content on LinkedIn and that he is destroying his personal brand, but instead I shared my thoughts in my own status.

Here is what I wrote: ‘If you want to display an unprofessional profile on LinkedIn share sexist images with your network. Just saw one of these in my feed. Will disconnect!’

What gives the story extra edge is that this man is a headhunter. Who would want to be hunted down by him? I then removed him from my LinkedIn network.

There are over 300 million people using LinkedIn, it’s an amazing way to stay connected and build a global network.

Behaving well online and presenting yourself as a decent human being with good values and ideas isn’t that hard. But still I see quite a few people using the network in a way that just makes you want to disconnect from them.

To sustain a strong online profile you need to have an idea about dos and don’ts. LinkedIn is a community, and as anywhere you need to show respect to your fellow community members.

Here are some examples of LinkedIn personas you shouldn’t copy:

1) The over-sharer
Oversharing irrelevant content that would fit better on Facebook or Twitter is a great way to disengage your network. Your connections want to see things that are relevant to their professional careers.

2) The random messenger
The random messenger sends their network odd messages without context. Many people will appreciate a message every now and then from their connections about what they are up to. But messages without any story or context will only annoy the reader.

3) The sales desperado
Hundreds of sales pitches are sent over LinkedIn every day, often from people you have only been connected with for a day. You will be seen as a creepy creep if you do this.

4) The blogger of drivel
Posting badly written blog posts on LinkedIn almost every day is a great way to be unfollowed and disengage your community. Phew! All of your connections will get a notification when you add a new blog post, some will look at it and if it’s badly written they will never look again. Make an effort with every blog post if you want people to share and like your posts.

5) The over-liker
If you like everything you see in your feed the rest of your network will in their turn see that in their feed. You are decluttering your connections feed.

6) The exaggerator
To lie about yourself and your achievements make you like a con artist. Share your own personal story and who you are. People love to be connected people who are honest.

7) The passive account holder
The opposite of over-sharing is doing nothing. If you never do any maintenance on your LinkedIn profile it won’t do much good for you. It needs some love and care every now and then to be found and featured.

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If you think your network would enjoy reading the post please share it with them on social media.

Thank you! Sofie

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Read more about my 30-day online challenge: Prevent Digital Stress and Organisational Mess.

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International marketing trend spotting in Sweden

Last week I spent four days at Dialogkonferansen, an international marketing conference in beautiful Strömstad, Sweden. Probably one of the biggest marketing conferences in Scandinavia. We had typical Swedish summer weather with both sunshine and heavy rain. 

On Monday I delivered my talk ‘Digital Leadership’ and shared some facts, stats and ideas about leadership in the digital age. The world is full of opportunities and threats, and as a leader you need to listen to both critical and positive sources.

I think that making decisions based on over-hyped, exaggerated facts is not good for anyone. In marketing and business analysis this is quite common – and mangers are making up their mind about what to do next by reading a random article in a magazine about a new shiny digital tool. What are your thoughts about that? Maybe it has happened where you work?

At every big marketing event there is a lot to discover. Businesses shares their success stories, and the brave brands are also sharing what didn’t work out according to plan.

If I would summaries the conference in one sentence it would be:

Right now in marketing m ulti- and omni-channels are big and complex machines that take a lot of collaborative brain power to understand.

How many different touch points does your organisation have with your customers? 10, 25 or 50? To figure out how many you have is one of the many interesting tasks in digital marketing right now.

Brands need to have a good organisational structure set up to manage all this new data and knowledge to turn it into wisdom and action.

Every organisation who enters the omni-channel labyrinth needs to be quick learners to manage the new information well. There is a big risk that all these complex systems are causing digital stress.

Brands that makes it easier to find information and data that relates to them; both internally and externally, show that they respect their employees and customers.

An other insight:

Teams that are exploring digital collaboration and creativity are better learners and they are also quicker at picking up trends.

A speaker I’ve only ever heard of before who also spoke at the conference was the legendary Ken Schmidt. He was the branding and strategy director who helped turn Harley Davidson around and take it from a failing business to where it is today.

What a brand story to listen to. The company makes every Harley Davidson owner feel special with every bike built uniquely for them. Ken said: ‘The biggest enemy of HD is people who play golf. They spend all their free time and money on a sport that makes them feel frustrated.

All Harley Davidson fans please feel free to feel jealous that I got the chance to meet Ken Schmidt 🙂

Another speaker I enjoyed listening to was Amit Shah, Vice President of Mobile and Social Media for 1800 Flowers in the US. He said: ‘Using mobile and social media is all about better experiences.’ In other words, being online is about trying to understand the moment and subsequent moments where you will find your customers. ‘To succeed you need to increase the creativity you have in the business culture.’ Of course, I loved that he emphasised that we need to explore creativity on all levels.

I was up early on Wednesday morning to listen to Julia Hoffmann, Executive Director of Digital and Consumer Experience at MGM Resorts, USA. It’s a huge hotel and conference chain in the US.

She shared her philosophy about user experience and said: ‘We want to give time back to our customers. Our life is full of memories and the more positive memories a brand can give to their customers the better.’ This is something to think about for the kind of brand that doesn’t seem to care at all about their customers.

Under Hoffmann’s leadership, MGM Resorts is working on being a test data-led organisation instead of an opinion-based organisation. Many organisations are struggling with this today.

I’ve been in jobs where we had big arguments about facts vs opinions. I don’t think these arguments will ever disappear, but it can be good to remember that we need to be humble and learn about the new digital world by being good listeners and alert students.

In total there were over 50 speakers at the event, some of them were:

  • Geir Lippestad, the defender for the perpetrator of the 2011 Norway attacks, Anders Behring Breivik
  • David Wild CEO, Domino’s Pizza Group Ltd
  • James Keady Head of Digital, Samsung,
  • Melanie Spring, branding speaker & Chief Inspiration Officer, Sisarina
  • Dan Germain, Head of Creative, Innocent Drinks.


Next year they are running the event for the 20th time. I can recommend you tocheck it out. It’s a lovely event that includes boat trips, golf tournaments, seminars, comedy and parties. 

Have a lovely day whatever you are up to.

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Thank you! Sofie

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Virgin media’s inconsistency in their customer service using Twitter

The digital world and social media have certainly changed a lot of things when it comes to customer service. I’ve used Twitter anVirgin media green box brokend Facebook many times to directly send a request for help or complain to a business and most of them have been quick to pick it up and redirected me into the right direction.

When I walk to the gym I’m passing several green boxes on the way, these have wires in them and are the basis for our broadband, phone and TV infrastructure. On a few occasions the door to these boxes have been left wide open because it’s broken, and it doesn’t look safe at all. Imagine a child sticking in his or her hand in it.

One day there were an engineer repairing one of them and I told him that there is another green box that is broken further down the road.

He asked me: ‘Is it a box like this one or smaller?’

I said: ‘It’s a smaller one.’

‘Ok, then it belongs to Virgin media, I’m from BT, but will make sure I send them a request to fix it.’

Weeks passed on and nothing happened with the broken green box. I decided to tweet Virgin Media. I took a picture of the green box on the street and tweeted it to Virgin media. They replied and the next day they fixed the green box. #ThankYouTwitterForThat

I’m not a Virgin media customer any longer, but I could see the damage the broken box could do to the infrastructure and wanted them to fix it for the public good.

Then a few weeks later I discover a new broken green box on the same street. I do the same thing again, I tweet to Virgin media. The reply I get from them is that they can’t fix it over Twitter, and that I have to call them. For me calling Virgin media feels like hell. I used to be a Virgin media green box fixedVirgin media customer and my experience with them wasn’t that positive. Tweeting feels much better compared to calling them.

After tweeting back and forth with the new person managing Virgin media’s Twitter account I give up. Now one week has gone and the other green Virgin media broadband box is still not fixed.

Shall I call them tomorrow? What do you think I should do?

Some people I know who lives in the area use Virgin’s broadband, and I know they have problems with the speed and connectivity. Maybe the damaged green boxes have anything to do with that?

The British society is obsessed with health and safety and I’m surprised that my second tweet was not taken seriously as the first time.

Big difference in consistency in customer service.

When I’m looking at the Virgin media reviews on Trustpilot I get a bit worried. An average of one star. Not good Virgin Media. I think you need to improve your game.

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UPDATE 12th August

I made an effort to connect with Virgin Media over phone as they suggested about two weeks ago. It was all an automated voice mail connection where you left your details and address about the damaged green box. I passed the box yesterday and it’s still not fixed.

This is not great Virgin Media. A safe and secure broadband connection is a matter of necessity for people using it.

If you are thinking of changing to BT in the UK here is the link.

Virgin media green box not fixed

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Here is the twitter history:

Virgin media Twitter conversation when they are not able to repair the box

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11 difficult & time-consuming ways to boost your social media strategy

I’m tired of posts that share ‘10 easy ways to boost your social media strategy’. Being great at communication is never easy. Sorry, but it isn’t, never ever. It takes effort, engagement and a big dose of endurance to be great at any kind of communication.

I’ve listed some of the headlines that most annoy me below. I found them by randomly searching on Google for ‘easy ways’ to boost your social media strategy.

‘7 Easy Ways To Boost Social Engagement Today’

‘5 Easy Ways to Improve Your Social Media Marketing’

‘8 Guaranteed Ways to Increase Social Media Reach’

‘11 Incredibly Easy Ways to Improve Social Media Results’

The formula: no effort = great results. This is very rarely true in any context.

I teach large organisations how to manage their social media strategy. Not a single person has ever said it’s easy, quick or simple to do. Nope, not a single one, and I’ve met hundreds of social media managers, digital marketers, and brand managers.

Here are my difficult, time-consuming but dynamic tips to boost your social media strategy:

1) Learn about your values and what you stand for. Get your organisation to agree what these values are and what they mean to you as a group. Being a great communicator always starts with knowing yourself.

2) Get to know who your stakeholders are whether they be online, offline, internal, external or previous or future partners. Have a clear picture of who you are trying to communicate with; this will help you and your team to visualize what you are trying to say.

3) Build a rapport with all teams in your organisation so they will want to get involved. A great social media strategy is about having everyone in an organisation take an active role by being present in social media networks, participating in discussions, sharing content and making sure content is reaching the right people.

4) Attract (and keep) some amazing writers and storytellers to your team. Your words and messages matter in social media. Creating online messages that people want to share is not easy. There is plenty of content online and every word you share must be special.

5) Follow the news. Find an interesting twist on relevant news stories and share your opinion about it on your social media channels (great social media managers are the first to do this). In social media we like to follow people/organisations that have an opinion. Pale, vanilla, boring comments never make an impact online. In situations like this it comes in handy to know your values, and which side you are on.

6) Always keep an eye out for new trends. The day you lose sights of what’s happening in the world you will be behind. Also, follow the changes in how your online communities behave. People’s online behaviour is constantly shifting.

7) Ensure your team are great at image creation and photo management so your online images always look impressive. Some team members need to be fluent in Photoshop and similar design programmes.

8) Know the online privacy laws of every country you are present in, and keep everyone in your team updated about them. Build report and trust with the legal team so they feel contented about your online communication.

9) Create social media guidelines that people can, and will read and understand.

10) Become a big data ninja and learn how to interpret the numbers that all our social media networks spit out. Measure only the KPIs that matter so that you are not spending too much time interpreting numbers that won’t help you improve your online activities.

11) Convince leadership and the finance department that they should invest more money and resources in digital strategy next year, the year after and every year after that. Plan to recruit more team members and get leadership to support the idea that reaching out and staying involved in social media is the right way to go.

Conclusion

The web reflects a complex society that is hard to navigate. In large organisations you have multiple social media accounts in different languages and operating in different time zones. Never trust anyone who says it’s easy to mange your social media strategy, or that a few quick fixes will do it. It isn’t, and quick fixes won’t help.

If you want to stick out in the mega-busy world of the web you need to work on your organisation’s social media skills and inspire other people around your to do the same.

Dig deep and do things that are challenging and time-consuming if you are serious about boosting your social media strategy.

When you are comfortable and don’t feel that working with the web and social media is perplex and confusing you are probably not learning, expanding and reaching as far as you could.

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Social Media Doodle Concept

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My day in Oxford at ‘Connected Life 2015: Our Digital Society’

Last week I visited the Oxford Internet Institute and attended the Connected Life 2015 conference.

It was a great day and we experienced the sunny side of Oxford and Balliol College thanks to the lovely weather. I’ve not been to many academic social media and Web conferences before, the whole thing was new to me and I had that ‘first timer’ feeling of excitement.

Oxford Balliol College

Oxford Balliol College

My first observation as a ‘social media geek’ is that my social media reality and the academic social media reality feel like two different worlds.

Where I come from people are mostly concerned about:
1) their online communication issues and multi-channel approach
2) the humongous amount of big data and connections and
3) how to integrate social media into their marketing strategy.

The academics shared research about the Web on a much deeper level and sometimes it all felt a bit dreamlike to me.

The insights I got during the day were both inspiring and enlightening, and some of my observations even scared me. One example is how easy it is to draw conclusions too quickly when analysing big data, something that some presenters pointed out.

The multi-faceted approach to the Web

Research about the Internet is done in a plethora of academic disciplines all over the world. During the day I met people studying life online in a multi-institutional way, cross pollinating all kinds of themes: sociology, psychology, economics, politics, medicine, linguistics, anthropology, computer science, law, international relations, geography, leadership, infrastructure, architecture, mathematics and journalism. There was a great mix of subjects and refreshing approaches to how to use the Web.

In 2008 Chris Anderson, the editor of magazine Wired, published an article which ended: ‘It’s time to ask: What can science learn from Google?’

The answer to this question is: a lot. Numerous academic studies use data from Google and Twitter in their research and it will be interesting to see if we can learn more about trends in the world by using these tools better.

Let me share some of the insights I gained during the day.

Happy maps

Daniele Quercia was the morning keynote speaker. He shared his research data about ‘happy maps’ and why people like some buildings and streets and not others. The project has turned into a game testing people’s knowledge about cities, play it here.

You can watch Quercia TED talk here for more background information about happy maps.

Using Google Trends for research

One session I went to presented research in eHealth and how to use the Web to improve health in different ways.

One study was about tracking mental illness and suicide searches online in the United Kingdom with the help of Google Trends.

I’m sure that people working with health policies in the UK will find this study helpful. People who are searching these topics in their darkest moments are probably not talking about their problems with their friends and family. Maybe this research can lead to better suicide prevention in the future?

[Tracking Suicide-related Search Engine Queries in the United Kingdom, 2004-2013 Vishal Arora, London School of Hygiene and Tropical Medicine]

Creating active activists

Another interesting talk was about environmental NGOs and activism and how people today are engaged online and offline. Social media without engagement is pretty meaningless if you’re an activist, isn’t it?

There are hundreds of examples where social media has helped people to connect in real life, and Anna Hushlak told us more about the ingredients that the most impactful campaigns have to get people to meet up and work together for a cause.

Technology is changing the way we see the world, it opens up new perspectives and people will be drawn to certain campaigns because of the clarity of the message. I think it’s clarity that many NGOs are struggling to find.

[Survival of the Fittest? The Changing Roles of Non-Governmental Organisations, Citizens, and Engagement in a Climate of Digital Activism. Anna Hushlak, University of Oxford]

Social media in Russia

There was also a very interesting study shared about social media memes in Russia. Russian politicians don’t understand funny political cartoons. Imagine if that were the case in the UK where it’s everyday business to share jokes about politicians.

Anastasia Denisova said that memes serve a very important function in Russia and often hold deeper messages. You can’t trace who created a meme, so it feels safe to share them and people do so in large numbers.

Memes in Online Social Protest Movement in Contemporary Russia

russia social media meme[Russian Digital Protest: Online Memes as the Means of Carnivalesque Resistance in Social Networks, Anastasia Denisova, University of Westminster]

Wine communities online

The final talk of the day was about the online wine community CellarTracker and how quality and hype are affecting buyers’ decisions.

If a wine gets hyped up in our community we are more likely to buy it, something that makes sense from my experience. Consumer dynamics and reviews are important for anyone selling products and services. Many factors play a part: quality perception, reputation and prices are some of them.

In a world where people don’t trust big institutions such as government any longer reviews by peers will have more power to influence decision-making.

One interesting fact that researcher Alex Albright shared was there are no online trolls commenting on threads in wine communities.

Here you can read a blog post about the study.

[Using an Online Wine Community to Investigate the Roles of Quality and Hype in the Market for Wine Alex Albright, Stanford University]

The founder of Oxford internet institute

At the end of the day the founder of the Oxford Internet Institute Andrew Graham told the story about how he set up the OII in 1995, a brave decision.

Back in 1995 nobody could guess how big the effect of the Internet would be in the future. I would like to say thank you to Andrew and all the people who were involved for being brave and planting a seed for what is now a flourishing place for research about our digital world.

I wrote a blog post about the Web in 1995 a few weeks ago, check it out to see how things have changed.

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The Internet is like water and electricity in our society. We wouldn’t want to live without it for too long.

The Connected Life 2015 conference was a brilliant experience, I got a deeper understanding of the impact that digital technology and social media have on our society. The history of the Web and all its applications should never be forgotten and we need to understand the past to be able to predict the future.

Sofie Sandell at the Oxford Internet Institute

Sofie Sandell, Alex Albright and a delegate at the conference.


I love the Internet because of its many positive inventions and its facilitation of knowledge sharing. But there are many areas that worry me: privacy and trolling to name two. You can read my post ‘The Web I Want’  for more ideas on how to make the Internet a better place.

Ethical development of the Web

As information- and online consumers we are in the hands of the developers and their ethical decisions. Without understanding the impact of privacy and security issues we might end up being totally exposed.

Researcher Bendert Zevenbergen said that most engineers, developers, and programmers really do want to do good with their work, but there are some who don’t care about ethical issues and some who want to abuse their power.

The ‘tick, click and hope for the best’ strategy is not ideal in a complex world where we share our private information with new networks all the time.

There are many issues surrounding the Internet to explore and learn about, and these will keep the world busy for many years to come.

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I hope you enjoyed my summary of the event.

Thank you, Sofie

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Q&A: The anonymous web. Why does it attract us?

The web and all its applications and inventions mirror what’s going on in the world. One thing I’ve been looking into lately is the anonymous web. I’m talking about confession websites and apps where you don’t share your identity – why do we use them? They are increasing in popularity, but why?

It’s not surprising that there are dedicated websites where you can share your thoughts anonymously.

Many of us are used to living a relative anonymous life as more people live in big cities. Our great grandparents were more likely to live in smaller places where everyone knew everything about each other. Today, if you want, you can spend days without actually talking to anyone. Social media, when you are using your real name and identity, has similarities to village gossip where people talk about what’s happening in other people’s lives. It can be good and bad, and your online and offline networks can be both strong and weak.

We live in a busy world and maybe your relationships are not deep enough for you to talk about what’s really bothering you, so, you might turn to an anonymous confession website such as Pencourage.

Writing is a way of healing, and collecting all your thoughts in writing can help you to feel better and make up your mind about what you must do about a problem. It can guide you to work out a plan for yourself.

The people you have in your life might want to listen, but for some reason they can’t – they may not have time or they have too many problems themselves to be able to listen.

Some subjects are too taboo to talk about in different contexts. One example of an online confession I read on Pencourage is about a man who is secretly gay and whose family is Jehovah’s Witnesses. He had no one in his life to talk to so he wrote a confession online.

I recently heard about an anonymous SMS message service called Crisis Line Textin the US where teenagers can text about their problems. They don’t have to give their name or any personal details and it’s turned out to be very successful. Many young people use the SMS service.

Sharing your thoughts with a stranger is much better than keeping them inside yourself. When you are in a crisis you need a compassionate listener who will be there without judging you. When you are talking to someone they often come up with a simple solution and then change the topic. We live in a quick fix world.

Getting things off your chest knowing that someone will listen to you without judging you helps you get the energy you need to feel at least a little bit better.

One big problem with the web is its privacy issues. We all know that governments world wide are spying on us and collect data about what we are doing when online. All of the websites we have ever visited are stored somewhere and what will happen if that information goes public? Big and complex questions…

One man who got his Snapchat messages outed was the now former Royal Bank of Scotland chairman Rory Cullinan. He thought it was safe sending it using Snapchat.

His daughter saved his Snapchat messages as screen grabs on her smartphone and posted them on her Instagram account. Not such a smart thing to do as he wrote about how bored he was at work.

The daughter needs to take a course in basic digital manners. The story was not enjoyable for any of them. By the way, being anonymous online doesn’t involve using apps such as Snapchat.

With these thoughts about life online, I wish you a good day.

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Fans, loyalty, social media and the role of true engagement

Nowadays, your fans are more important than ever as they have huge power over your brand. How can you get them to live, love and breathe your brand? This is one of the big questions for the future of media and advertising; I’m sure that many people are researching ‘the magic of being shareable’. Likes, followers, hashtags and shares from people who care about your brand are worth a small fortune in today’s social media currency.

Digital Leadership talk by Sofie Sandell

The other day I was passing a sports shop in West London called Sweaty Betty (it’s a a chain in the UK). In there they were having some kind of aerobic class. It was in the evening and was dark outside, and I thought, ‘How interesting to invite your customers to live and breath your brand during the evening.’

It’s a genius way to create a connection with your brand advocates. I’m pretty sure that some of the people who did the aerobic class will mention this on social media, and when they need new sports clothes they will more than likely go back to where they have been exercising in the store.

To be honest, I’m not much for hard-selling and I get tired of too many sales messages in general. I think I will start calling it mental fatigue, caused by too much information. But when someone in my social media network is talking about a product or experience, I get curious. One example of a product I bought upon recommendation on Facebook was my Urbanear headset. That I could then pick the colour I wanted made it even better.

Brands doing good things are also more likely to have loyal fans. What we buy and do is reflecting on our own personal brand, and if a brand makes you feel healthy you are more likely to share with your friends. Brands that are actively giving back to society and their community are also more likely to be shared by their fans online.

If you want to communicate in a great way with your fans you need to know yourself and your values. Social media makes many things more transparent than ever, and if your brand is bullshitting about what it stands for, you will be revealed as lying sooner or later.

Connect and collaborate with loyal fans and they will go out and serve you as brand advocates. Final tip: the more sharable content that your brand can create, the better.

If you like the image you can get it as print on Red Bubble.

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Social Media Q&A

Do you have any questions about life in relation to social media?

Send an email with your question to Sofie Sandell for a chance to get it published here.
Email: sofie@sofiesandell.com

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12 practical tips for how to use social media to build your reputation and share your key messages

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Digital Leadership with Sofie Sandell