As recommended by Twitter.

Mike Coulter
Aug 13, 2014 · 6 min read

Last year, I left the planning team at Blonde Digital in Edinburgh and moved back to Cornwall with my missus. (I had to choose between a digital Blonde and an analogue Blonde: No contest.)

I think/hope the agency were as sad to see me go as they were happy to see me arrive.

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(As you can see, and in order to make sense of my headline, I’m illustrating this post with tweets. Featuring some of the nice things that have been said about me on Twitter, by people I’ve worked with.)

My digital experience and enthusiasms are in strategy, content creation and innovative distribution techniques.

I’ve also done quite a bit of senior exec mentoring and evangelism client-side. Developing collaborative, mutually beneficial, ‘social solar systems’.

In recent months I’ve worked on a plethora of digital campaigns from soft drinks to law firms, global sporting events to financial services, software development to architectural hardware, Japanese tech companies to online gaming.

The strategic and creative work I’ve done with these companies, and perhaps more pertinently, with the people in these organisations, has reinforced in me, what I think is becoming increasingly obvious to all of us committed to the cause of social:

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But how did I get here? What led me to write this post? (Apart from the fact that I’m hoping to use it as a bridge to a job. Or at least some interesting/challenging, fee-based project work.)

Well, I am, I suppose, what you’d call a ‘classically trained’ ad man.

By calling, a copywriter, schooled in London and Amsterdam, playing a minor role promoting major brands.

A career, (or love-affair really) where I was lucky enough to get into D&AD a bunch of times, and was also considered good enough to be asked to sit as a judge on the D&AD copy jury.

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However, even though I was what you’d call a traditional adman, I also ‘got’ the importance of digital very early on. (I promised myself wouldn’t use the term ‘early adopter’ in this post. Whoops.)

I spotted the impending importance of digital to agencies in the very earliest days of the web. And backed my hunch by registering the domain; in 1997. (I figured ad agencies moving into digital was a no-brainer, and wanted to stake my land-grab early.) As it transpired, there was no rush. It would be almost 10 years later before most other agencies spotted the importance of digital.

Moreover, I thought Twitter was going to be a big deal from day one, and started using it actively in 2006. (According to my Twitter i.d. number, I was 11,700th person to sign up for the service. 269,988,300 users later I think I spotted a winner.)

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Something else I latched onto early was Google+.

I loved it from its inception and have spent a good chunk of the last 3 years encouraging colleagues and clients to get more out of it. For example demonstrating how G+ can revolutionise internal comms.

I’ve been no less passionate about the benefits of Linkedin. In fact I’m totally loved up with it: The platform improvements of late, SSI, new messaging, improved Groups functionality and the impending launch of Project Voyager, make me think Linkedin is now; The. New. Big. Deal.)

In hindsight, no surprises perhaps about the platforms that took my fancy, however I’m still amazed today that too few agencies, and indeed brands, seem to have cracked social’s code effectively. Which in my book should be demanding a bigger share of client budget and commitment of agency resource.

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So what else floats my boat, or gets my goat?

Other areas I’ve explored recently are responsive web design, as it pertains to CMOs, the Government’s ‘Year of Code’ initiative, and the ‘Facebookisation’ of Twitter. I’m also interested in the concept of long-form brand journalism, employee empowerment via social channels, telling brand stories by way of key staff interviews, and seeing how far we can push photography & design (e.g. Guy Kawasaki’s latest squeeze; Canva) in our brand storytelling ambitions.

Expanding a bit on employee empowerment and brand storytelling; we keep hearing of course about ‘The Year of the Social CEO’.

I first heard this prediction in 2008. For the most part, we’re still waiting. And it’s not just more CEOs who need to step up to the social plate:

Any modern executive who isn’t active in social media, isn’t a modern executive.

I think here too, agencies could take a lead in working more closely with senior execs client side. Who are, in effect, becoming social ‘sub-brands’ in their own right.

And I think there are going to be more sleepless nights perhaps for advertising agencies, as the trend for clients to establish in-house creative teams gains momentum. A growing concern. (Or should be.) The best way to respond? Be better at social (both the creation of, and possibly the distribution of content) than clients are.

My history, affinity and affection for the institution of ad agencies says that the best creative work has invariably come from our side of the fence. (Not always, but nine-times-out-of-ten.) It would be sad to see this change, with the ominously named, impending threat, of the ‘insourcing’ movement taking top spot, simply because the agency didn’t/don’t take digital opportunities, responsibilities and ability to supply social solutions as seriously as they should.

If only to counter the growing trend of social content that is piss-poor, sub-par, Buzzfed, Listicled, cookie-cuttered, click-baiting, clap-trap.

What I think we also need to see is a reduction, (rather than elimination, I hasten to add), of the Cmd+C Cmd+V copy/paste recidivism of over-sharing other people’s content. (Did somebody say ‘backlash waiting to happen’?)

What we need is more original, brilliant, funny, powerful content.

Produced by equally original, brilliant, funny, committed creative people.

In the service of the brands we service, and the agencies we (hopefully) love and work for.

Many decree that ‘Content is King’. Maybe, but; ‘Creativity is the Almighty’.

If you agree, or indeed disagree, with anything I’ve written here, I’d love to have a chat.

Or if we are already on the same page, and you need an extra pair of hands, an extra brain and extra insights into social media please give me a shout.

Here’s where you can find out more about what’s rocking my world right now; Twitter, Linkedin, and Instagram. Or call me: o787 294 3883

I hope it leads to a meeting, you might feel like tweeting.

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