Target the swingers, Not the followers.

All election campaign managers know the importance of targeting the swing voters. The theory is that in any campaign, there’s a group of voters who will support one political party or another no matter what…
All election campaign managers know the importance of targeting the swing voters. The theory is that in any campaign, there’s a group of voters who will support one political party or another no matter what, so you shouldn’t waste time on them, other than trying to encourage the voters to turn out – there really isn’t much point. It’s where the swing voters swing to that actually makes a difference.

Think about it. Many diehard ANC supporters would never consider voting for the DA, and vice versa. In fact, when we map political discussions, we see very clear and distinct party groupings, even when they are talking about the same issues. DA supporters speak to DA supporters and ANC supporters speak to ANC supporters. The interesting thing is that EFF supporters may not be as tightly held, and they manage to engage in conversations across the spectrum. EFF supporters actually do speak to ANC supporters and DA supporters. Strategically, the EFF needs to recognise this, as they may be holding mostly swing voters whose support could evaporate quickly.`

The community around "#PaybacktheMoney

The community around “#PaybacktheMoney
















That’s not very different to brand advertising and marketing, is it?

The importance of the swing vote in brand advertising and marketing

How much effort should we place on them, seeing as consumers will buy anyway? We merely need to remind them to buy. Although they may be loyal, they are not necessarily knowledgeable. They no longer need to do research as they’re happy and no longer searching. This type of brand loyalist would have done some searching when first making the decision to invest in the category. Often after that, the purchasing decision is made without much thought and they continue to buy your brand, whatever happens.

Only a few of them with be raving fans, but many may not be great advocates because they don’t have the tools to convince others.

Marketers who use social media to build their followers and their fan base may have missed this point. It’s easy to get ROI by only targeting those who would buy your product anyway. It’s a retention strategy, not a growth strategy.

Where social network analysis 2.0 comes in…

The question is, how do we find the swing voters/buyers and how do we influence them?

They are still on social media, but instead of being interested about how they group around the brand, we need to be interested in how they are grouped around the category. The community they belong to is interested in the product/service, and there may be brand awareness.

This is where social network analysis 2.0 takes us forward from ORM through More than sentiment, we need to understand who is talking about us and about our stuff, but we need a little more to go on than just the fact that they are doing so. We need to understand the dynamics that exist in that community, we need to understand the roles the different players have and how influential they actually are.

We need to do so based on the following aspects:

    • What is the coordinating element of the conversation in the category? I call this the social object. Think of it as the campfire around which the conversation happens.
    • We need to know the groupings in the community because a social media community is not an audience. It consists of different sub groups who group around ideas and people in the community.
    • We need to know the key players in those groups and the roles they play.
    • We need to identify the people in those roles and they type of influence they wield.
    • We need to understand what they are talking about, the issues in the overall group and each subgroup.
    • We need to be constantly watching what’s going on, how the dynamics are changing.
    • We need to know when a key event occurs in the community.

Then we take our own role in the conversation – we become the facilitator of the conversation, we start the conversations and we empower the influencers to influence.

If we do that, we’ll be focusing our social media efforts on the market, not just on our loyal groupies.

To grow we need to focus on the swingers, and to do that we need to know who they are and what they care about.

Posted on December 11, 2014 at 12:37 pm by Walter Pike · Permalink · Leave a comment
In: Advertising, Marketing, social media · Tagged with: , , ,

How to do Directed Activism

The Community Discussing Eskom Load-shedding


What is directed activism?

We are in the business of spreadings ideas. Ideas that you should like my brand, ideas that you you should vote for my candidate or ideas that you should change what you are doing and do something else.

We also all understand broadcast media and how it works:

I think that we all get interactive online media as well:

But do you really get Social Media?

You know who your audience is but do you know your audience’s audience’s audience?

So how do you set up a directed activism campaign?

  1. You understand what the community is about. Mostly it’s not about you its about them. The community on your brand page maybe your audience but its not the community. You need to find what the campfire is, what attracted them – why they are there in the first place.
    Your brand group is a cluster in the market community, not the community
  2. You need to understand the shape of the community and the roles different people play.
  3. You need to identify the activists.
  4. You need to help build their clusters and audiences and you need to empower them to reach your collective goal.
  5. You need to create a brand role in the community.
  6. You need to use big data, tech, social science and traditional and marketing techniques to nudge the conversations in the community.


Directed Activism has been developed by PiKE as a methodology to operate in the post broadcast or social era. Pike builds and manages Directed Activism © programmes for brands, political campaigns and social change initiatives.

We also do social network analysis. Can you read and understand the graph in the picture? If not you need us.

Posted on December 1, 2014 at 1:52 pm by Walter Pike · Permalink · One Comment
In: Advertising, internet, Marketing, social media, viral

Node XL Maps for #standardbank and #FNB on twitter during the ASA firestorm

These network diagrams have been uploaded to illustrate my interview on SAFM on the media show at 9:20am Sunday March 4, 2012. Live streaming here (obviously this link will be no use unless you are listening live)

The first map describes the conversation for #FNB.

To help you understand it the size of the pictures is in proportion to followers, The green line are “followers” and the blue lines “retweets

NodeXL graph for FNB

#FNB 16/2/ to 24/2/2012


This is the same methodology but a picture of the #standardbank over the same period.


#standardbank 16/2 -24/2/2012


I work with Marc Smith who does these maps and we can do them for you – you need merely to contact me by clicking on this link and filling in the contact form 




Posted on March 4, 2012 at 8:49 am by Walter Pike · Permalink · Leave a comment
In: Customer Service, Marketing, social media, Uncategorized

The ORM riddle: When is an Apple not an apple?

Tim Shier announcing the new Brandseye

When I started the Digital Academy a few years back it was because I realised that technology does not always save on labour. In fact effectively marketing on the internet will probably require even more people. You will require crowds to analyse and interpret the wealth of data that is available.

One of the huge issues with online reputation management  (ORM) is how to judge sentiment because it requires an intelligent response. What does the description “sick” mean as in “wow that’s really sick” are we talking about amazing or putrid. In the same way is an apple a fruit or a tech company. This confusion in interpretation, which is often regional, makes for incredible complexity in judging the sentiment of comments made online.

Local business Brandseye have come up with an elegant solution; they have crowdsourced it.

Crowdsourcing is a simply asking the crowd (anyone in the world), usually in an open call to solve a problem. The crowd is massively scalable and can be accessed regionally.

In this case in addition to the algorithm built into Brandseye, the system allocates members of the Brandseye crowd real-time mentions, the rater gauges if each mention is relevant and judges the sentiment, the location of the person that made the mention and the media type. Local context and local language subtleties are critical – along with the intuitive sense humans have for what other humans are trying to say. Computers are not great at picking up irony, sarcasm, humour… or rage. People are. Based on their peer-reviewed accuracy, the BrandsEye Crowd are paid for their effort.

The benefits for Brandseye and Brandseye clients is greater accuracy, for the raters a source of income in the form of micro employment which they can access anywhere where they have an internet enable device and an internet connection.

I think that this is a really clever and an elegant solution and although I have not experienced it in real life I can’t see any reason why this won’t work. Well done Tim Shier and the Brandseye team.

Declaration: Tim is a member of a think tank I have organised called ideaorgy, a place where ideas come to meet and mate. But we have never discussed any of this I regret to say.

Posted on February 22, 2012 at 8:50 am by Walter Pike · Permalink · 2 Comments
In: internet, Marketing, social media · Tagged with: , , ,

Come on – That’s not Social Media

A profound lack of understanding of social media is being used to support the reluctance of agencies and marketing companies to fully embrace it.

I was passed along a link to a post on the brandgym blog titled “Social media yet to show me the money”  and I felt the need to comment.

The argument calls social media a fad which is sexy but yet to deliver. The argument is based around the following 5 points.

  1. Engagement is not new.
  2. Engagement is a means to and end not an end in itself.
  3. That the thought that interruption marketing is dead is an oversimplification.
  4. That it is penetration not loyalty that drives growth.
  5. The point the writer regards is a killer is that people have no appetite for participation.

Without addressing each one of the points I must point out that the argument is a straw man, although probably an unwitting one. It confuses social media with using social media platforms as a media channel to carry advertising messages.

To briefly clarify then, we need to understand that all marketing is about spreading ideas.  My brand is an idea and that choosing my brand is a better choice than choosing your brand is also an idea. Brands and ideas only exist in the minds of people.

Interruption marketing is the process of interrupting people doing stuff with a message which if repeated often enough is expected to change attitudes. The people interrupted could be people driving down a road interrupted with a billboard, people catching up on the racing results on the newspaper interrupted by an ad or people watching football being interrupted by a banner or a branding message.

This works when people are prepared to be interrupted, when they trust the source of the message and when the message is unchallenged as the only real source of information on that particular idea (product, service, brand, category etc). None of these conditions hold true any longer.

The emphasis in social is connections. Its how ideas spread through massive networks of connections that needs to be understood.

When you run an ad on facebook you are doing interruption marketing, tightly targeted mind you, but interruption none the less, Google Adwords are also interruption but they make up by being incredibly relevant based on keywords. If you run a “viral” youtube ad once again you are attempting to interrupt. The Old Spice man is an example of using digital media to extend an interruption marketing campaign.

When you are operating in the social realm you are doing something completely different, you are engaging in the conversation between people who are talking about your stuff or things like your stuff. You are providing them with the tools to help them talk about it and you are facilitating that conversation.

Your objective is to engineer some kind of new discourse around the idea, not to get gather meaningless hoards of facebook fans or “loyalty,” as the point is correctly in the blog post, loyalty is more a personality characteristic than a brand one.

Interruption marketing is certainly not dead and will continue to play a role in social campaigns, the growth in social is slow to begin with and can be helped with traditional announcement awareness provided by broadcast communications.  But interruption is extremely expensive and pretty ineffective for the reasons mentioned above, we can compensate but make it even more expensive by buying bigger and bigger audiences so that the we can successfully interrupt more albeit at still a low percentage.

Contrary to the view stated by the brandgym blog, social is not a “nice to have” add on to the media plan – its the core element for the simple reason that people trust people they “trust” and act on the recommendations and the opinion of their peers and less on the self interst of brand messages. In this world the media plan now becomes the “add on” to support the launch and facilitation of that conversation. Its likely to stay a huge budget item not because of its effectiveness but the opposite.

It’s kind of obvious that the bulk of people in any social network will not generate content. People fulfill differing roles in society, some are discussion starters, some are question people, some are answer people some are bridges or connections but most are followers, but that does not minimise the impact of the people they are following, they form tribes around ideas and the conversation is between people as it moves between online to face to face and back again.

The final reposte to the claim that social media has yet to show the writer the money is to suggest that he ask ex Egyptian President Mubarak what he thinks. Time magazine names the protester its person of the year 2011. The movements it referred to, the Arab spring, the Occupy movement, the Russian unrest, slutwalk and many others beside are all social media enabled movements. None would have happened in 2011 without social media and some like the Occupy movement which spread around the world in a few weeks would never have happened at all.

Advertising agencies and marketers need to start facing the overwhelming evidence, instead of doing the ostrich thing.  To remain relevant they need to start trying to understand how ideas spread in a world where media is no longer only a source of information but a site of coordination.

Picture by Roads Less Travelled Photography

Posted on February 15, 2012 at 2:52 pm by Walter Pike · Permalink · One Comment
In: Advertising, Marketing, social media · Tagged with: , , , ,

Changing my posterous blog

I have decided to change my posterous blog at to be more of a personal blog my personal musings – If you are following the Pike’s thinking (marketing and such like) type posts here – please find them on


For some reason Ive ended up duplicating content.


Sorry for the inconvenience.

Posted via email from Organic Marketing…

Posted on February 13, 2012 at 12:27 pm by Walter Pike · Permalink · Leave a comment
In: Uncategorized

How Woolies Lost its Mojo

There was a time, those of us of a certain age will remember, when Woolworths was held up in marketing classes as a brand that had been built entirely on word of mouth.

But, on Wednesday, 1 February 2012, the Advertising Standards Authority (ASA) upheld a complaint by Frankie’s regarding Woolworths plagiarism of its slogan and Woolworths, feeling that consumer sentiment was against it, announced that it would remove the product from its shelves.

The word of mouth has changed.

The way you build a word-of-mouth brand is to deliver a remarkable customer experience and hope that people would tell their friends and, if they had a similar experience, they would tell their friends in turn and so on until the market all agreed.

Used to take a lot of time

In those days, this took a lot of time because people could only maintain a relatively small network of connections and would only tell two or three or five or a dozen friends. Now, when the marginal cost of publishing is zero, in an instant the average connected consumer can publish to thousands of readers and reach millions in a few seconds. The word soon spreads

I was the client service and strategy director for Woolworths’ early advertising agency when it crossed to “the dark side” and became an advertiser.

It did so because of the market’s perception that quality, certainly in its clothing section, had declined. This was also the time when the Woolworths’ food stores were still being set up. Advertising was the price Woolworths was paying for the reduction in standards and quality and the strap line “adding quality to life” was designed to turn that perception around.


When the Frankie’s story broke on Talk Radio 702 end of last year and spread like wildfire through the social networks, I could not help thinking how far from the word-of-mouth brand Woolworths had moved. Apart from the absolutely appalling manner in which it handled the social media firestorm, it was revealing in how it was defended by some.

In essence, the argument ran that, because all the big retailers behave this way, it should be expected. But in a connected world, a social world, you don’t want to be like everyone else; you want to be remarkable, you want to be spoken about, you want people to share their experience with their friends. It’s about the buzz you generate by the special experiences you deliver that grows your brand.

In the absence of any research to prove it, I suggest that the reaction on the internet and then in the market was so vocal, not only because this was the powerful corporate bully riding roughshod over an entrepreneur, but because Woolworths has taken a position of quality, integrity and doing good and its customers and fans felt cheated and let down when suddenly they could see a new truth.

Trust has already gone

Woolworths can paper this over and things will go on as they were but, as with the wife who was cheated upon and forgave, the trust has already gone and when something like this happens again, all hell will break loose.

A more savvy Woolworths would not have waited for days before even responding to the accusations and then would not have done so in the defensive manner it did and, what is worse, would never have waited for the ASA ruling to force its hand before it would announce that it would remove the product from its shelves and do the right thing by Frankies.

I think that many people would have wanted to believe Woolworths and it would have been easy to see Frankies as an opportunistic startup with nothing to lose. Not now, though.


The irony is that Woolworths were once one of the best in the world at generating the buzz it needed to be a standout brand. What happened with Frankies and how it handled the incident demonstrates something completely different. It demonstrates that it has lost the set of skills and attitudes it needs to be amazing and get buzz. It has joined the pack with the rest of the retailers.

If the price of a poor product and a poor customer experience is advertising, this is really good news for broadcast media owners – you should be getting a boost to your turnover.

Woolworths, you seriously need to look at how you curate your brand in the future; all the clues are in how you used to do it. The lesson is that you are no longer in control – your customers are.

Comment; This article was first appeared on Bizcommunity 
Posted on February 3, 2012 at 10:00 am by Walter Pike · Permalink · Leave a comment
In: Advertising, Marketing, social media · Tagged with: , , ,

@RBJacobs showing understanding of ORM

I happen to think that FNB do a pretty good marketing job, I have been a fan of the manner in which the @RBJacobs twitter persona handles queries. But its interesting the way people think about brands – this morning @PerrynMeyer commented on FNB as below.

I retweeted but copied @RBJacobs into the tweet saying it was over to him to sort out – sure enough he responded and invited @PerrynMeyer to to contact him. Out of left field another fellow @Nicholas_Duncan appears and expresses his opinion that @PerrynMeyer should not have commented in public as she has tarnished the brand and then criticised me for having retweeted it as I did.

I am sorry @Nicholas_Duncan but brands are not tarnished by what people say about them, brands are tarnished by what brands do. People saying what they feel and expressing their opinions is what enlightened brands would hope for, they understand that they don’t control brand that belongs to the customer/consumer.


You see you can’t control the conversation – nor would you want to. What you want is to be part of it and to be seen to care because your brand is not what you say it is – its how your customers experience it and what they tell their friends


What @PerrynMeyer and I did was not tarnish the brand, on the contrary we gave @RBJacobs the opportunity to burnish it.


What better outcome for FNB than this (their response retweeted) – unless its a thank you from @PerrynMeyer as well.


Posted via email from Organic Marketing…

Posted on December 8, 2011 at 1:48 pm by Walter Pike · Permalink · 4 Comments
In: Uncategorized

Digital Promotions are not the same as Social Media marketing.

The Nando’s Dictators campaign see TV ad here and its accompanying promotion using digital channels (although I don’t know how the customer gets from the TV ad to the digital promo) is very different to social marketing.

Sarah Britten in her article Is Nando’s ‘Last Dictator Standing’ the new ‘Old Spice Guy’? probably inadvertently, draws the correct comparison because in spite of the hoopla the jury is still out on the Old Spice Man’s effectiveness. Both are old style push campaigns and at best interactive.
I find it frustrating when I hear the discussions online and elsewhere referring to this campaign as a social media campaign, its an oxymoron – when you start understanding social media you realise that social media is not about campaigns – it’s not about push – it’s about facilitating communities it’s about ideas spreading.

But people also uses it for marketing purposes among other strategies like using personalized bottles for this that they can get from sites as

A #hashtag does not a social strategy make.

Posted via email from Organic Marketing…

Posted on December 1, 2011 at 10:32 pm by Walter Pike · Permalink · 9 Comments
In: Uncategorized

Takumi Sushi – I am sorry but you lose.

People do such ridiculous things when they find their brand under attack and here is a good example. 

This is what happened; 

A twitter user buys R399 take away sushi from a place called Takumi Sushi, When she opens up the container she finds a dead bug, she thinks it’s a cockroach – so she does like every normal twitter person would – she posts a tweet with a pic referring to how she had found something extra in her starter.





When she goes back she shows the management and apparently the chef responds in anger by throwing the container at her general direction.






Only after this started spreading through twitter did the establishment respond followed up by a threat of legal action obviously intended to intimidate the customer. Read the whole story here 


Eventually a voucher was offered to the young ladies, which they turned down (kind of obviously) and now Takumi Sushi has offered to give the R1000 voucher to the person who makes the best response on the story.






The fact that the bug wasn’t a cockroach at all but a beetle is not the issue, its not even an issue that the clumsy bug could have flown into the sauce at the customer’s dining room. Nobody will really know.


The issue is that this business instead of apologising and fixing the problem acted with violence and then decided to intimidate its dissatisfied customers in the public domain and then to make the folly worse is now using the R1000 of vouchers to induce people to say nice things about them.


In this new world customer service is the new marketing – you have to give people a great experience – and if you do they will tell their friends. You behave badly they will do so as well.


If the management at Takumi Sushi had accepted responsibility the incident would have died away in seconds – instead its been floating through the interwebs and here I am sitting a good 12 hour drive from wherever in Cape Town this place is and writing about it, and some people will even read this – maybe even a lot.


I can’t possibly judge what is the the real truth but like any normal person I did a few searches on twitter and using Google and on the whole the Desmarais sisters come across a reasonable – Takumi on the other hand come across as defensive and their behaviour as aggressive and completely unacceptable.


Sorry Takumi that not the way to do it. You lose.


Posted via email from Organic Marketing…

Posted on November 16, 2011 at 5:10 pm by Walter Pike · Permalink · One Comment
In: Advertising, Customer Service, internet, Marketing, social media, Uncategorized