Category Archives: Meaningful Marketing

Social Tech, Working Smarter and the Power of the Collective

A few weeks ago, I decided to set up Social Souls. A private group specifically for people who have questions around social media or digital marketing.

social media tips
Social Technologies helping us to harness the power of the collective and work smarter.

Why set up a group? Well, pretty much, on a weekly basis, I get an email or a message asking me a question. Largely, the message goes something along the lines of…

‘Hi Michelle – in your capacity as social media ‘queen’, ‘guru’, ‘expert’ … (of which I am none by the way), … what do you suggest…, how do I do…, do you know how I…? Etc, etc.

You get the picture.

Don’t get me wrong, I love helping and supporting, I’m a natural educator – and where I can, I do. But the reality is, that … I don’t know everything. Yep, very comfortable putting that out there.

And really, honestly, who does?

I love the saying, ‘If you’re the smartest person in the room, then you’re in the wrong room’ – and I couldn’t agree more as in this ever-changing world of social and digital – we’re all continuously learning. It’s part of keeping up.

So, it got me thinking about the best way to facilitate a useful solution and voila – a group, titled, Social Souls was created.

I toyed with putting the group on LinkedIn – but then in reality, I asked myself the question, when did I last visit a LinkedIn Group? For some reason, Groups on LinkedIn seem to have significantly lost their momentum over recent years. Personally, I’m hoping there’s a resurgence because gathering a collective of like-minded individuals all with the purpose of sharing knowledge, asking questions and encouraging everyone to learn more and get smarter – can only be a good thing. Right?

For now, the group is on Facebook. After all – who isn’t part of Zuckerberg’s empire?

It’s early days – but so far so good. There’s a mix of industry professionals, educators, business owners, individuals, marketers, social media managers, PR and comms people. And the conversations and support are a plenty. In fact, this week, I received a telephone call, on my landline, (I know, unheard of), from one of the Social Souls – simply calling to say how much value they were gaining from the group and thanking me for pulling it together and curating content and questions. The main takeaway – people enjoy the group, are learning and finding it really useful.

As an avid reader, in fact, total bookaholic – when writing my latest book, ‘Get Social – Social Media Strategy and Tactics for Leaders’, (shameless plug pre-order if you wish ;), I was recommended to follow and connect with a few people. And a few of them had published books, so of course, as an author in the space, I’m always keen to learn from others. I was introduced to John Stepper, and his book, Working out Loud, which discusses real world examples of how working and workplaces are being transformed by ‘working out loud’. At the same time, (I often read in tandem), I started to read, Isabel De Clercq’s book, Social Technologies in Business. Isabel’s book, brings together 13 influencers in the social technologies space, each penning their own chapter and sharing their professional viewpoint. In fact, in many ways, her book is a perfect example of ‘working out loud’.

This also got me thinking about Social Souls – and the great things that were starting to happen just by simply bringing together a collection of people, with a shared purpose of supporting one another – with no other intention than to share knowledge and learn.

No selling, no pitching, no advertorials and certainly NO EGOs.

A safe place where people can feel free to ask ‘stupid questions’, in the knowledge, that no question is a stupid question – it’s purely an opportunity to learn, one to many.

Social Souls is also a great example of ‘working out loud’ – we’re all learning so much from one another. We share our views, our work, our experiences, our challenges – and the wisdom of the crowd provides practical real world, fast learning and support.

In fact, in a recent ‘live stream’ I did into the group, I called us a ‘smart organisation’. We are rworking smarter. Gleaning information from one another, cutting out unnecessary strife, hassle and time by learning methodologies and short cuts from others.

Someone else may have already tested and measured a specific tactic. And instead of one test going on at a time – perhaps 4 or 5 are being conducted – all individually doing their own work, yet bringing their work and findings back to the group – to glean insights collectively. Brilliant. We’re like a human algorithm.

If we were a true organisation we would be working really smart. No silos, no departments – just knowledge, learning, shortcuts and transparency. My kind of organisation.

This way of working is starting to happen. Yet it’s very much fertile territory. Social technologies in organisations are starting to break down silos allowing information to flow more freely. But what about bringing other organisations into the conversation? In Social Souls there are other ‘consultants’ in the social media space, a few of us, do exactly the same work. And that’s the real wonder. The fact that – it doesn’t even matter. We’re all learning from each other. Instead of keeping everything close to our chest for FEAR of someone stealing our ideas – we’re sharing our ideas and helping to generate more creativity, insight and know-how. We’re all learning smarter… faster.

So, here’s my big thanks to Social Souls, and everyone participating so openly and transparently. And teaching me a thing or two about the benefits of ‘working out loud’.

Meantime, would love to hear your views about the future of work, collaborative working, and not only breaking down silos within organisation, but breaking down silos within industries and sectors.

Over to you…

Michelle Carvill – Helping leaders and organisations to ‘Get Social’. Making a difference one leader at a time. Founder of digital marketing and social media agency Carvill Creative, Curator of Social Souls. Author of Get Social.

The Gift of Experience – Knowing where to tap

The Gift of Experience – Knowing where to tap

In a time strapped world – where time is precious and a rare Screen Shot 2017-05-21 at 07.48.33commodity, it’s no surprise that when valuing our services – we focus on the time it takes to do something, rather than the time we’ve invested to know how to do something. And the impact we’ve created.

Just this week I was reminded of the value of experience.

Heading on a train to a client ‘inter-agency’ meeting, I had arranged to travel with the person who heads up the client’s PR agency.

As you would expect, we spent the first part of the journey chatting about work, busy lives etc etc.

During our chat – she happened to mention that she was getting some push back from another client on fees. Their view was that, even though she’d solved their problem and saved the day, because she’d been able to deliver something so quickly for them, then it can’t have taken up so much of her time – and how was she justifying the rate.

Were they 100% happy with what she’d provided – YES

Had she 100% met their brief – on time / meeting objectives – YES (and some – she’d saved the day).

What was interesting is that during the conversation she herself started to justify their view – ‘Well, I guess it didn’t take me that long to pull the pieces together for them’.


My question to her:

1)   How long have you been doing what you’ve been doing? The training, the honing of your skill, the years building experience?

Her response… ‘Over twenty five years’.

So, what value then do we give to experience? Colleagues with less experience may have struggled to come up with the goods to fully satisfy the client need in so short a time.

It reminded me of the wonderful anecdote about the cruise ship…

Just as the giant cruise ship was about to depart, fully laden with passengers, the engine failed.

Panic quickly ensued as various teams of engineers failed to restart the engine and the passengers became ever more irate.

A retired ship engineer who lived locally was summoned.

He embarked with his small bag of tools and inspected the engine very carefully. Having completed his inspection, he reached into his bag and pulled out a hammer and gently tapped something.

Instantly, the engine lurched into life. It was fixed.

A week later the owners received a bill from the old man of $10000.

“What?!” the owners exclaimed. “He hardly did anything.” The owners wrote to the old man and asked him to submit an itemized invoice, which he duly did:

The invoice read:

Tapping with a hammer…….. $2.00

Knowing where to tap…….. $9998.00

Love that.

Your Key Takeaway:

Don’t underestimate the value of your experience. Both in honing your art and learning how to overcome challenges.

I’m not saying that experience counts for everything, it doesn’t. You have to have a growth mindset and have been willing and eager to continuously learn over the years too. But experience certainly gives you the learning and growing that can only come through the passage of time and of experiencing a broad range of scenarios.

It gives you the networks you’ve contributed to to draw upon, the relationships you’ve developed.  And the knowledge that comes from experience.

Sometimes, if I can’t make a meeting with a client and I offer to send one of my less experienced members of the team – it’s not unusual that the client is adamant it’s me they want to see.

Now that’s not because they prefer me personally than any of my team – it’s down to the fact that I’m the one with the most experience in our team. I’m the one with the grey hair – so to speak, I’ve been around the block, learned way more than I was ever taught in business school – I’ve put in the 10,000+ hours – and have always been committed to honing (and continue to be committed to hone) my skills.

So the next time you’re being challenged on fees – just ponder the fact that you know exactly where to tap – and rather than value yourself on time to action, value yourself on impact of your action.

Would love to hear your views – tweet me, comment, and share if you too have someone you need to remind about just how ‘valuable’ they really are.

As always – any questions tweet me @michellecarvill or email 

Michelle Carvill, best selling business author, speaker, founder and Director at Carvill – the social media agency focused on creating authentic engagement. Currently penning her second book: Get Social – Practical Strategies and Tactics for Leaders – to be published by Kogan Page in  Spring 2018. For information about how team Carvill can help you or your team with  social media marketing – either strategy, training or day to day management – simply get in touch.

Facebook ‘Festive Fun’ – or December Depression? 5 Ways to Beat Negativity

This morning I was delighted to be asked to join Alfie Joey and Anna Foster for their Breakfast program (BBC Newcastle) to discuss a recent BBC report showcasing that Facebook use has been proven

Enjoy the joy this christmas
Enjoy the joy this christmas

to cause depression.

Of course, this isn’t the first study in this arena.

Back in 2014, I recall writing a piece following research on how computers were impacting human behaviour – in that study, it showed that browsing Facebook was associated with ‘lower life satisfaction’ and a decline in mood – but interestingly, browsing the internet generally, didn’t have the same negative impact.

The negative impact was found to be unique to Facebook use.

Whilst Facebook is still the most popular social network – with more than 1 billion people logging in daily – people aren’t actually using Facebook to be ‘social’. Only around 9% of Facebook users’ activities involve communicating with others. The ‘social’ aspect is therefore really low – with the majority of people either posting random pieces of content or passively consuming content by spending the majority of time browsing and scrolling through feeds.

Two key aspects associated with decline in mood and lower life satisfaction were identified in all three studies:

1)    When presented with looking in at other people’s perceived perfect lives – photos of fabulous holidays, friends having a fun, date nights, weddings, achievements – rather than feeling good for your friends, you can start to become envious – you and your life may start to feel inadequate, and this in turn leads to a decline in your mood.

2)    Then there’s the other aspect – the time that you spend. You start to feel bad about being under productive; remorse sets in about wasting your time looking at what’s going on in others’ lives. You question why you do it – how sad must you be to spend so much time looking at other peoples’ lives. No life of your own… etc etc – and so the self-fulfilling negative cycle continues.

But… here’s the good news:

Simply being aware of the above two points can make all the difference to how you let your Facebook activity impact you. Knowing that your time on the channel may have a negative impact helps to eradicate those negative feelings.

So to take action and to keep that negativity at bay…

1)    Be aware. Understand that too much browsing is going to potentially decline your mood. Catch yourself if you start to feel inadequate, dull or sad – and get off the channel quickly. Phone a friend, speak to your family – do something nourishing and truly social.

2)    Limit the mindless browsing. Give yourself a limited time to check up on your social activity – this way, if you invite a bit of discipline into how much time you spend on the channels, you won’t give yourself a hard time for spending an hour being unproductive. Instead, limit your time to a 10 minute catch up – and pat yourself on the back when you log out and get back to other things.

3)    Don’t make social comparisons with others on your Facebook feed. The majority of posts made are ‘hero’ posts – people sharing the best moments, celebrations, happy times. It’s rare people post about their fears or insecurities – so stay realistic and see it for what it is.

4)    Be truly social on social – social channels aren’t all bad, they can be brilliant for networking, for business and for support. There are loads of Facebook Groups that are really useful, that are fabulous communities for people to come together to be supportive of one another. They’re not just a platform where people post the best times of their lives – but really useful social networks. Check out local groups in your area – and tune into ones that you’re interested in – there are mum’s groups, craft groups, support groups – you name it, there’s a community.

5)    Get social offline. And of course – make the majority of your social activity, truly social. Get offline and get personable. Pick up your phone and don’t head for the keyboard to text – but instead make a call, have a giggle with friends, or just chat about how you’re doing – how they’re doing. Just be social. We’re social animals, we need that connectivity.

So if your social activity is making you ‘low’ – remember these 5 simple points, understand that it’s normal to feel bad and why – and remember all the great stuff that’s good about your life.

Just because you’re not publishing it on Facebook doesn’t mean it’s not a beautiful, worthy, nourishing and fulfilling moment. Enjoy…the joy this Christmas.

As always – any questions tweet me @michellecarvill or email 

Michelle Carvill, best selling business author, speaker, founder and Director at Carvill – the social media marketing agency. For information about how the team at Carvill can help you – simply get in touch or visit our website for more information.


Bamboozled by oodles of data? Time to measure what really matters.

little data latestThe challenge we have as marketers and data analysts is that there’s now just so much stuff we can measure.

With more marketing channels than ever before – the role of the marketer is far from simple.

When deciding which channels to focus on and optimise – none of us can escape the necessary  relationship with, and in some cases, dependence upon,  data.

We’ve got mass reports, analytics coming out of our analytics, the opportunity to explore different aspects of analysis.  All this data is giving us fundamental insights. Right? But this is where our ‘let’s get real’ heads need to kick in.

For me, my simple and pragmatic thinking brings me back to reality and helps me to focus on what really matters. And that’s the challenge I have with big or mass data – just because we can measure everything – is it actually useful and beneficial to do so?

Here we are, spending so much time trying to keep up with the data, running round in circles measuring everything and spending a significant amount of time monitoring and keeping on top of dashboards and stats – that potentially we’re taking our attention away from key fundamentals that really matter?

If we’re honest – there’s definitely a big ‘SO WHAT’ factor with many of the insights and stats that we as marketers rigidly spend time measuring and monitoring. Analytics – mass data – big data – programmatic data – call it what you will – the real question is – does what we are measuring actually  matter.

Yes, it may be telling us stuff – but is the stuff it’s telling us actually important and does it fundamentally impact achieving key objectives?

Little Data – my hero of the day

Just as there are potentially different descriptions about mass data – I’m sure there are too about what I refer to as ‘little data’. From a very basic perspective – for me, ‘little data’ is about getting down to the nitty gritty of measuring what really matters. The key word here is ‘relevance’.  Objectively driven metrics. I have a very simple ‘let’s clarify objectives’ model:

  • What does success look like? What objectives / outcomes are we looking to achieve?
  • What metrics / evidence do we need so that we can measure success or progress?
  • What simple discipline are we going to apply to ensure we are continuously capturing, monitoring and learning from these absolutely fundamental necessary metrics?

For me, what’s key is the development of a simple set of key metrics that help you to identify that the activities you are undertaking are actually delivering on your objectives.  There’s real progress.

Of course, in order to deliver on your objectives – you’ve got to have very clear objectives in place. And in my humble opinion, this is where many businesses and campaigns fall down.

Having absolute clarity in what needs to be achieved and drilling down to the necessary metrics to monitor effective progress is often missing.

Measuring everything we can no doubt uncovers some interesting insights – but those insights are not necessarily going to keep our eye on the ball and keep us focused on delivering  key objectives that ultimately make all the difference.

Little data, or objectively driven data, for me is all about ‘relevance’– they may be ‘little’ and few but it’s this ‘little data’  that focuses attention for BIG impact.


As always – any questions tweet me @michellecarvill or email 

Michelle Carvill, best selling business author, speaker, founder and Director at Carvill – the social media marketing agency. For information about how the team at Carvill can help you – simply get in touch or visit our website for more information.

Meaningful marketing – right message, right person, right time

It was back in 2009 (blimey almost 7 years ago now) when I blogged about right person, right message and right time.

The post largely focused on direct mail – and the fact that many of our clients were challenged by the fact that they were getting low response rates to their one hit wonder marketing attempts.

Of course, in the past 7 years – everything has changed and yet nothing has changed.  The sentiment in the blog post I wrote almost 7 years ago remains the same – it’s just that tools, channels and technologies enable us even more with our endeavours to get the right message to the right person at the right time.


However, whilst the tactics haven’t changed, the playing field has. There’s now more content delivered to consumers daily than ever before.

As Eric Schmidt famously said in 2010 ‘Every 2 days we create as much content as we did up to 2003!

With an abundance of content around – and technology at our 24/7 fingertips making whatever we need accessible to us – then there’s real skill required to get into the hearts and minds of your audience.

However, the practical tactics I talked about in 2009 remain:

1) A clear understanding of the purpose of the mailing (what need is it fulfilling).

2) Accurate and relevant targeting (the benefits may be great but if they’re not relevant to your audience – you’ve missed the point).

3) A way to compel and involve the reader to take action and respond.

So let’s take a look at the winning combination: Right message, right person and the right time.

Right Person

Targeting is the first step in any campaign.  Question your logic: who are you trying to attract?  Who do you want to reach?  Targeting is easier these days, but you still have to have systems in place to learn as much as possible.  You need to have some knowledge of your audience, in order to be able to target effectively.

A great start to targeting is utilising existing customer information, their user behaviours, the journey they’ve taken to reach you and where possible, ask questions during your purchase processes where relevant to find out more about them. Such information should enable you to identify with them – understand what motivates them.  The more you have the more you are able to profile them into segments that focus on them as real people rather than ‘batches of behaviour’. The more your know, the closer you can get, the more personalised you can be – the more authentic the relationship you can build.

Right Message

There are many tactics and ideas for making your communications ‘stand out’.   And indeed some businesses spend enormous amounts of money on gimmicks, creative and incentives both online and offline.

It’s worth remembering that what customers (aka people) are really looking for is relevance – they are far more likely to respond to a mailing which has an offer they are interested in, than to one which has a great design or gimmick, but is of no relevance to them.

Indeed, it’s easy to get carried away with the ‘attention grabbing gimmicks’ – this is the fun stuff.   And whilst the ‘whacky’ designs may catch attention – what all communication experts agree on is the importance of ‘relevance of message’.  In a time strapped world, if you’re going to ‘show up’ and be useful, then you need to be as relevant as possible.

Experts agree that the creation of the ‘message’ needs research and planning.

The focus of the message is to win attention and encourage your readers to take action.  Some key tips to consider when crafting your message:

  • Be yourself – personalise communications as much as you can and demonstrate a sound knowledge of your audience’s business dynamics (if relevant) and a clear understanding of the obstacles they face.  If the reader believes you have empathy with their situation – they are far more likely to engage with your message.
  • Don’t talk too much about yourself – readers are interested in what you can do for them – not what you do.  Focus on the opportunities your products and services present for them. A good mantra is to uncover the ‘benefits of the benefits’.  If you’re too ‘feature’ focused – you’re missing the critical element of what’s in it for them.
  • Use the words ‘you’ and ‘your’ as much as possible and minimise the ‘we’s’.  This will warm up your messaging considerably.
  • If there is an offer in your message – then be direct about it – and get the value proposition or the offer in early on in the communication.   If you can save them £500 immediately (and if that’s a relevant message to them) – then tell them this in the headline.  And of course, repeat the offer again at other points – don’t let them miss the opportunity.
  • Make it easy for people to buy/engage/take action.  So often I read communications where I’m thinking – ‘what do they want me to do’.  Be sure you have clear instruction of how to take action.
  • Be sure to keep any response mechanisms (in order for people to engage and take action) as simple as possible and where relevant provide a few response options.  Don’t stipulate that orders must be done ‘online’ – as that may present an obstruction to buy.

Right Time

A key aspect to all effective communication is  ‘timing’.  It’s very difficult to know exactly when your target customer is ‘ready to buy / engage or take action’.  Of course, there may be some seasonal opportunities which determine an opportune time – and so consider this when planning.  But remind yourself, that it still doesn’t provide any guarantees.

Timing is exactly why ‘one hit wonders’ are extremely rare – if evident at all.  More often than not – deciding when to communicate, email, target – is more of a case of what you can internally manage and resource.

And that’s fine – provided that you don’t plan on doing communications or campaigns in ‘isolation’.  By this I mean – that you do not attempt to attain the elusive ‘one hit wonder’ – but instead plan an integrated marketing campaign of which direct messaging is one component.

Regular communication is the only solution to the ‘right time’ problem.  Even with sophisticated consumer behaviourial profiling, knowing just ‘when’ a customer is ready to buy – requires skills beyond the realms of our 5 senses.  Of course, marketing automation helps us to keep moving those interested in what we’ve shared forward – but again, be sure all communications are as ‘human’ and personable as possible. Often – automated communications are obvious. I know I’m being marched through a funnel – albeit a sophisticated one. So make the experience as personable and personalised as possible.

Having continuous conversations with your audience is key as even if your offer is amazingly compelling – for many of the people you target, it may simply be a case that now is just not the right time for them.  However, 6 months down the line – it may be the perfect time for them.  And so – regular communication, providing genuine value with each message, allows you to build ‘share of mind’, loyalty, and eventually ‘hit the mark’.

Let’s think about it this way.  Research in ‘sales activity’ tells us that the optimum number of times you need to ask the customer to buy in order to gain a positive result is 7.   This tells us that regular communication is necessary to achieve the end objective.

So – right time, right person, right message, six simple words – yet a whole load of complexity in getting it right.

In a sea of sameness and overload of marketing messages, consumer offers and choice – making your marketing activity authentically personable and meaningful has never been more important. So taken on the challenge of complexity, commit to getting close to your audience so you genuinely understand their needs – and you’ve got a whole lot more chance of getting the right message, to the right person at the right time.

My message to you is that if you’re not investing time in learning – then you’re just ‘churning’.  And my guess is, that’s not proving to be very effective.

As always – any questions tweet me @michellecarvill or email 

Michelle Carvill, best selling business author, speaker, founder and Director at Carvill – the social media marketing agency. For information about how the team at Carvill can help you – simply get in touch or visit our website for more information.