social media

Downton Abbey: Plugged In

Downton Abbey, a period drama television series co-created by Julian Fellowes and Gareth Neame and co-produced by Carnival Films and Masterpiece. First aired on  ITV in the United Kingdom on 26 September 2010 and now showing the new season.

The series center on the lives of the aristocratic Crawleys and their servants in post-Edwardian era and take them through the major events in the British history: starting with sinking Titanic, following with World War I, Spanish influenza pandemic, Marconi scandal and the formation of the Irish Republic. Downton Abbey received a great following and critical acclaim – enough to justify its own brand. And a successful brand. Look at the Downton Abbey hold on social media universe here – it covers almost every channel and has followers everywhere: Twitter, Facebook, Instagram, Pinterest…

Today I’d like to look at their very successful and witty Facebook page and the way it is managed. The variety of content is really impressive, and goes much further than simply episode updates or interviews with the stars of the show.

Here are just a few examples:

Best quotes:

Slightly bizarre for my liking, but rather original, Guess who it is?

Audience engagement with polls (I am disappointed with the results, surely Anna & Bates should have topped the poll):









This is when the audience engagement gets really interesting: you can sign a petition to free Bates! Can’t possibly get more involved than that.














And of course, witty merchandise. Sadly, exclusive to US (to my American subscribers and friends: I like the one with Maggie Smith, please):














Downton Abbey online universe is pretty much a guide how to produce great content for social media channels. Catering for such a wide audience – almost 700,000 followers on Facebook alone – they keep churning out interesting, relevant and original pieces, ensuring the support of their audience and connecting them to the brand.

August: Major Players Month – Not So Innocent?

Welcome to August – where did the time go? First, let’s define what do we call Major Players. Well, as opposed to the New Kids on the Block – established brands, not necessarily household names, but brands that has been in existence for a while. Since we are dedicating the whole months to Major Players, there will be plenty of time to discuss challenges and opportunities for this category of clients. Today, let’s look at the brand that catapulted itself into a household name, and hasn’t lost the original values of their owners.

They seem to do everything right – their brand message is very clear throughout their products and communications. Look how they describe the beginning of Innocent:

“hello, we’re innocent

…and we’re here to make it easy for people to do themselves some good (whilst making it taste nice too).

We started innocent in 1999 after selling our smoothies at a music festival. We put up a big sign asking people if they thought we should give up our jobs to make smoothies, and put a bin saying ‘Yes’ and a bin saying ‘No” in front of the stall. Then we got people to vote with their empties. At the end of the weekend, the ‘Yes’ bin was full, so we resigned from our jobs the next day and got cracking.

Since then we’ve started making veg pots, juices and kids’ drinks, in our quest to make natural, delicious, healthy foods that help people live well and die old.”

How beautiful is that? And genuine. And sincere. As it has been pointed out endlessly on this blog, the world has moved on, fake and insincere connection to a customer is spotted immediately and spread across social media channels. Innocent maintains its presence on several social media channels, and their Facebook page is legendary. Yes, they do mention their product every now and then, but they also post very funny content – they have so many likes, because the content is lighthearted and interesting, – you wouldn’t mind having them pop on your timeline. Here are a few of my favourites:


Today is Stick Your Tongue Out Day (really). You know what to do.

Don’t see what the fuss is about

I have to stop before I copy the entire content of their Facebook page. You can find them here and decide which one is your favourite.

As far as their marketing goes, who can ever forget the Big Knit Campaign, which is, by the way is back this year:

Again, completely genuine, light-hearted, helping a good cause (in 9 years they raised over a million for Age UK). Actually…. I need to go and find my knitting needles. See you there.

New Kid on the Block: Putting “Social” Back into Social Media

Twitter stopped automatic feeds to LinkedIn recently, which caused a massive response from fans of automated social media. However, some of us sighed with relief. Finally, LinkedIn is back to what it once was – a business network. It’s not infested with endless Twitter drivel and “updates”. Wonderful. And it also shown how easy it is to fall into the “automated” trap.

So, let’s talk about social media. There are plenty of tools out there that will allow you to post the same content all over the place: LinkedIn, Facebook, Twitter, you name it. Does it make your life easier? Of course, it does. Does it have anything to do with marketing communications? Not at all. And here is why. The trends we see recently is connecting with your customer personally. People want to buy from people, not from abstract brands. You have to have dedication to use each social media channel to their best, and post the content that is appropriate for this particular channel. Let’s look at examples:

  • LinkedIn – this is the place where you do business. So here you may be posting your company’s updates, jobs, comment on certain articles and sharing something you have read with your connections. The problem with LinkedIn groups is that they are plagued with spam advertising – so don’t follow the same route! This type of forced ads would not win you any business. What will, however, is establishing yourself as an expert in your field, by providing information and timely commentary.
  • Facebook – this is a necessity if you are in the B2C environment. That is where you connect to your customers, and that is where you develop your brand personality. What about B2B? It’s a tricky one. You have to decide what do you need Facebook page for. Do you want to connect to ex-employees? Do you want to connect to business networks, whose presence is growing on Facebook? In any case it is worth doing, because, as your brand grows, you have to stake your presence on various social media channels – if you don’t, someone else will.
  • Twitter – one of the most dynamic channels. This is your place for short updates, links to your blog, your facebook page, your linkedin.
  • Pinterest – one of the fastest growing channels and a lot of fun. This is where you can establish a visual personality for your brand. It’s also great for inspiration if you are stuck in your strategic thinking or new business development.

One thing to remember with regard to social media strategy – this is not something you can take it, leave it, pick up again. It requires continuous work, adding audience-relevant content. So get disciplined. Do not neglect your blog, your facebook, LinkedIn pages, Google+ – continue growing your social media channels so your potential clients can connect to you.

And lastly, why Charlie Chaplin? The Chaplin brand stayed true to its values through the years, yet managed to connect the same character with different audience from one film to another, from silents to talkies. From conveyor belt worker, to the dictator, it very much stayed “Brand Chaplin”, but distributed different messages. Let’s get inspired by the greatest.

Pinstripe April: Accountants Are Cool. Or They Could Be

Over the last few years, top accounting firms felt the need to re-brand. Starting with Deloitte in 2003, dropping “Touche” and followed by PriceWaterhouseCoopers rebranding as pwc, with a new logo too.  The move towards “cool” is apparent, but unfortunately it hasn’t been followed by smaller firms. Too many small accounting companies do not really care about their brand enough – they accept that most accountant provide the same services, therefore differentiating is difficult and so not really done. How many times at the business networking events have I heard the introduction: “My name is ….., we are an accounting/finance company”. This will not be followed by a statement of a brand value, unique selling point, even cheesy “and we are the best in the world!”. Until I’ve met Mike Sleeman, from p2pfinance. After a quick introduction, he stated: “One thing I always tell my clients is – pay your bills, that’s how you know where you stand in business”. Of course, that was a conversation starter, but it also made him stand out from competition and be memorable. It’s not difficult to achieve or expensive to use a branding statement like this – but it does require a thought and, most of all, the desire to be a brand.

So, how to be cool if you are an accountant. Stay ahead of the game in terms of technology and internet trends. Look at Meade & Co, for example. Their site is bursting with knowledge – downloadable guides, videos, even inspirational quotes. Their social media presence is strategised and working.

So, how to stop a great opportunity for your brand to shine? For example, the tide of infographics is sweeping over the internet right now – there are some amazing works, some purely informational, but always creative. Accountants love numbers – so this is right up your street. Show your numbers in thought-provoking infographics, that would increase your brand value and yes, will make you look cool.  Just ask your teenage kids. Below are a few examples of accounting infographics, that caught our eye.

But before you marvel at them, please note that there are still a few places remaining for our webinar Branding Pinstripes on April 16th, register here.

Social Media for Accountants from Sage

Social Media: An accountants' overview


Path to Accounting as 80s Computer Game by PES:

The Path to Accounting


Guide to VAT by PracticeWeb: