The ‘Cappuccino Froth’ of Social Media

Chris Farrance

Chris Farrance

15 January 2015

30% Froth

I’m told that an ideal cappuccino is typically 30% froth although I’ve never actually measured it. My hypothesis for this conversation is that social media at best represents just 30% of what digital technology can do to improve business performance.

Social Democratisation

Social democratisation has been facilitated by social media tools such as Facebook, Google, Pinterest, Instagram et al which I’m sure you’re suffciently familiar with. The comfortable and reasonably predictable old P’s of marketing Product/Price/Promotion and Place, which informed my approach to marketing, have been ‘Googalised’ so we now have Penguin/Panda & Phantom to deal with – still P’s I notice!

The current state is an increasingly noisy and disruptive world where nothing stands still and where the pace of disruption is arguably accelerated by the behaviour of the business owners of these major ecosystems as well.

So, now we have the connected world – multiple cobwebs of communities that defy simple categorisation. From this comes the notion of ‘Six degrees of Separation’ although I’m sure there must be a more recent figure than this?

And the perpetrators?

Generation Y, the born digital, the digital natives. They don’t think technology, they just do it! These people are allergic to command and control. They’re not starry eyed either. Recent research suggests they don’t have much time for the institutional shibboleths of the NHS or the Welfare State.

I Changed my Mind

I used to view acceptance of social media and the digital world as a sort of marmite test – you either love it or you hate it. But, quite frankly that just won’t do, it’s just an easy way out for a lazy mind.

As John Maynard Keynes famously said:

‘When the facts change, I change my mind. What do you do, sir?’

So, I’ve recognised that Social and Digital are not going to go away. People (the so-called Digital Immigrants) and businesses cannot afford to be disenfranchised in this way if they want to understand and be part of the communities and global marketplace that we are all now in.

There’s a lot of data that supports the view that businesses that embrace digital and social technology grow exponentially. The performance gap is widening and accelerating. Businesses that don’t adopt social media and digital technology will flat line and will end up in the elephant’s graveyard.

So, now there’s ample evidence of the voracious appetite of the digital monster. Look at how established industries and businesses have been eviscerated – Jessops, HMV and Clinton Cards to name but a few. Consultants call this process ‘disintermediation’ because they can charge more for it!

Put simply it means cutting out the middleman.

Have you or your clients thought about where they sit in the supply chain of value delivery, whether it’s B2B or B2C and the associated risks of ignoring the digital and social revolution?

A Different Business Mindset

Let’s be absolutely clear. It’s not about technology. Technology is a servant not a master. It’s merely a means to and end and has to meet the needs of the business.

The real challenge is more fundamental. My belief is that at the root of this is the need for a changed mindset.

From Corporate Trust to the Personal Trust

It’s always been true that people buy from people. This perspective has been sharpened by the decline of authority institutions and authority figures – for some real data see look at Edelman’s Trust Barometer. It’s fascinating reading.

For example:

65% of people are likely to trust a person like yourself

50% of people are likely to trust a regular employee

The comparative trust figures for a CEO are 33% and Government 29%.

Unlocking Potential

I see my personal core purpose as ‘unlocking potential’ which why in my more energised moments I describe myself as a ‘digital tribalist’ helping businesses and people transition in to the Digital Age.


Because I  passionately believe that going ‘Digital’ can unlock:

  • Productivity – faster to market, shortened sales funnel, easier ‘one stop solutions;
  • Revenue – improving margins and sales volumes;
  • Potential – unleashing the full potential of your business assets – people, customers, suppliers and as importantly today social responsibility.

The outcome is a new form of business capital – which includes knowledge, money, of course and communities.

Boiling Frogs

After all of this you may decide you don’t want to do anything. well fine,  be a boiling frog.