Following on from the last podcast with Randle Stonier from Three Blind Mice where we tackled disruption, this podcast looks at the use of social media before, during and after events.

We covered making Social come to life for our listeners, whether that’s the social in social media, social sharing, social selling or social business in general.

We talk Linkedin, the ‘sanity versus vanity’ of Instagram, your digital first impression, how to rise above that noise, quality content and Sir Tim Berners-Lee. His practical and actionable insights are well worth a bit of ear-time.

Quotable Quotes

“Sanity vs Vanity on Instagram”

“Brands are buying reach not real influence.”

“Be aware of your digital first impressions”


Show Timecode

03:12 – Sanity vs Vanity on Instagram
03:42 – Social scoring
04:04 – Brands are buying reach not real influence
04:56 – Digital first impressions
05:27 – Social has gone beyond just a way to communicate
08:12 – Event bots providing on demand content
12:50 – Personal brand
13:45 – Rise above the noise – getting more from Linkedin
15:27 – Creating content that is worth sharing, content that resonates…
17:17 – You want to be owning the front page of Google
18:44 – Thought leadership is earned just as influence is earned
21:32 – ‘But what will you do differently?’
23:46 – Current hot topics and how to contact Andrew


Episode Transcript

Three Blind MICE.

Randle Stonier: 
Hello and welcome to the Three Blind MICE podcast from Radio.Events. I’m your host and the MICE maister-in-cheese, the honorary doc.

Welcome to Radio.Events and the Three Blind MICE podcast. Thanks for tuning in. We bring you what’s hip and happening behind the scenes of meetings, incentives, conferences, and events. Three Blind MICE, the little pod with a cast of thousands from Radio.Events.

Randle Stonier:
Welcome back to part two of digitalising events. In this episode we will cover the power of Social in the world of events. I’m delighted to be joined again by my special guest Andrew Grill, and just in case you haven’t yet caught up with the last episode. Andrew is a seasoned digital guru. He’s an ex-IBMer where he was a global managing partner. Andrew has also launched and run a number of digital businesses around the world and worked with the likes of Telstra, Vodafone, Thomson Reuters, Nestle, Nike and the BBC. And having spent decades at the sharp end of technology, he’s now much in demand as one of the foremost thought leaders on the subject of digital disruption and what he calls the social business. As a Actionable Futurist, Andrew is very grounded, and he’s chalked up a number of TEDx engagements as well as speaking engagements around the world.

Prepare yourself. Okay. Let’s go

Randle Stonier:
Andrew. Welcome back to Three Blind MICE and thank-you for joining me. I want to get your help making Social come to life for our listeners, whether that’s the social in social media, social sharing, social selling or social business in general. We’ve seen Russian and Chinese political interference, allegedly. Trump, Trump, Trump. Top rated restaurants that turn out to be sheds on TripAdvisor. We’ve got the Instagram vanity versus sanity argument. The abuse of Linkedin profiles by sales prospecting ‘outreachers’. Is it all beyond redemption? Are we back to really trusting people only in real life and face to face or is there still a place for first impressions and influences in the digital world. Andrew, what should we think? And where’s it all going?

Andrew Grill: 
Randle, thanks for having me back again. You’ve just touched on pretty much every one of my soapboxes when it comes to Social. I have been a socially active person online for, I don’t know how long. I was online in 1983. My first computer was a ZX80 in 1980. I joined Linkedin in 2004 when I thought it was a pyramid selling scheme. So I’ve been playing with all these different technologies for years now and because I’m an extrovert and I like people I have been using these different networks. So it’s funny. In 2018 I go to conferences that have a social element or people talk about social media and I have to watch through my hands because I was talking about this in 2005 and 2006. This isn’t, this is not new, but I think what’s happened is we’ve seen a number of iterations and so if we take one of your topics there, ‘the sanity versus vanity’ on Instagram. Back in 2011, I ran an influencer company called Cred competes with a company or that used to compete with a company called Klout where we basically gave everyone on Twitter a score out of a thousand depending on their influence. Now ironically, if you’re a fan of Black Mirror and you watch, I think it’s Series 3, Episode 1, Nosedive. It talks about a world where everyone has a score and your score can go up and down and there have been reports that the Chinese government are giving all of their citizens a social score. So we’re now seeing the value of social interaction having not just a vanity impact, but also a monetary impact. And these Instagram influencers that say I want £50k to wear your sunglasses or handbag or lipstick or whatever are really not moving the needle. Brands are buying reach, not real influence. And I was at an event yesterday where I was asked to talk about thought-leadership in the B2B space and reflected on what’s happening in the influencer space. So there are so many things there to unpack, but I think also we are overusing the word social. I mean we don’t talk about the television department or an email department. We talk about social media. I think it will be back very soon to just being media that it is normal to have different ways of communicating. What has become true is that the media landscape is completely fragmented. The fact that Netflix can survive is because people don’t watch ‘appointment television’ as much anymore. They want to watch what they want when they want. The fact that we get recommendations for buying things on social media rather than the mainstream press more often is because of the prevalence of social media. And to your point, who do we believe? I’m a firm believer in your digital first impression, especially in the business realm. Those listening to the podcasts that heard my name will hopefully by now have typed the words Andrew and Grill into Google and what they see is my first digital impression that they have of me. And I want that to be a good digital first impression. And I trained people. Google yourself, find out what your clients are seeing when they put your name or your company into Google or into Linkedin and you can work on that to make sure that what you’re showing the world is what you want to see. So Social has gone beyond just a way to communicate it now is a way to do business in a way to decide whether I want to do business with this person or this firm or another. And it’s also, I’m sure we’ll talk about this also impacting the events industry for before, during, and after events.

Randle Stonier: 
Well, thank you. Let’s take that as our next theme. You talk back in time, what was going on in 2006, 2007. I remember probably it was only three years ago, I was working on a global project with a client and they thought it was a great idea to bring in a couple of PR specialists who were at university to make sure all of their social activity was being captured and shared out there. And you know, that was seen as sort of still reasonably revolutionary. So, what should we be doing in 2018, 2019 pre, during and post event?

Andrew Grill: 
Oh, can we please stop the Twitter walls? Twitter walls are so, 2007. If I go on another conference and see a Twitter Wall…. I was a bit naughty at an event probably five years ago. And as the Twitter wall went up the screen, I tweeted ‘this is distracting from the presenter’ in separate tweets. And so behind the presenter was probably a little bit rude and a little bit naughty. But I wanted to make a point that I was there to watch the presenter. The particular person was very eloquent, had a lot of information to give, but we were being distracted by this ‘noise’ behind them. So yes, there are three distinct elements. Before, during and after. I was actually at an event in Austria. I think probably about 2008-2009. And I was tweeting about the event and the organizer asked me to stop and I said, why? ‘Oh people won’t attend the event if you’re tweeting about it.’ But we’re in Austria and we’re actually at the event and there’s no one else that’s going to come. And to prove the point, what I was tweeting about, a friend of mine in Australia was up late and at the time she was working for Vodafone and she was providing insights on the back of my tweets that as I was then chairing the event, I was then providing back into the room. So, we were getting market research and feedback from the other side of the world in real time. And I think slowly this organiser realised that maybe social media at events was a good thing. And then we started using hashtags and so the first time we started using hashtags at conferences, people going, what’s going on at that conference? That’s amazing. We need to make sure we’re there next time. And a lot of people will live tweet, I’m one of them, things that are happening in events. So, before the event, obviously you can use it to promote what’s going on and people can find out and that’s demand generation and get people there. You know, during the event I think you want to encourage people to broadcast what’s going on and give them things that they can share. And so for example, best practice would be, rather than having me take a photograph of the slides on the screen, on a previous podcast we talked about the use of bots. Why don’t I ask the Bot, can I please have the current screen sent to my phone as a pdf or as a picture and I can use it in my tweet. And then after the event, the challenge for most event organisers is these 365 days involvement. You might be involved for a month or two before the event, the day of the event, maybe the day after as a thank you. But then for 360 days of the year, there’s no real contact. How do we maintain people having a relationship? And I think people have tried event apps and you know, you delete them after a while. If I get an email six months after an event, it’s probably a bit too late. But if I think it’s down to content. I’m a bit of an unusual speaker in that I video all of my public talks. I get permission. I take a high-quality camera with me up at the back of the room, and I often have a second camera, off to the side and I record everything I present. Sometimes I put the full talk up online. Sometimes I chop it up into vignettes, but often people will say, I missed your talk, is it online somewhere? And I wish more organisers would be able to do this and have it on demand. Maybe it’s a part of the ticket price. You get a special code and you can then go and do that or share it. But there is so much great content that is produced during the event that is evergreen and can be used later on. But often the organizers say, no, we can’t afford to have the video crew there. Well, muggles Andrew here packs a tripod and a camera and literally travels around the world with it to video my own talks. The difference there is as a speaker, I own the rights to that, so I can do whatever I want with it. It can go into a show reel, can go into a vignette… all those sorts of things. Back on the last podcast, we used the mantra ‘to get digital, you’ve got to be digital’, so I taught myself how to do video editing to green screen, to do multi-camera shoots and it means now as a presenter, as a small business, I can now use that content to promote things and I also give the content to the organiser. They go, ‘oh, thanks for that’. And ironically at a couple of events where they’ve had professional videographers, we’ve actually shared footage, so they’ve got three camera angles to choose from and they go, we’ve never spoken to a representative who has their own footage. I think there are so many things that can be done, but the focus for events is there is some amazing content that comes out of that and things that are longer than a tweet and I think organisers can use that to help promote the great work they’ve done getting people there to talk about the issues at hand.

Randle Stonier: 
I have to say, Andrew, when you and I were first planning these podcast interviews and I started diving in more detail into your background and your resources, I was completely blown away. I’d never encountered a professional like you in, with your grasp of technology and the fact that you also turn up with all the gear and you have every idea as to what it’s going to be used for and where it fits into the place. And I thought it was a salutary lesson going back to your earlier comment about, if you want to get digital you have to be digital, you’ve got to play with digital. You’ve got to own it, act, understand it, etc. And I thought to myself, you know, first of all, far too few in my opinion, event professionals use social media beyond Linkedin and Linkedin is often about trying to get a job or making sure you’re there in order to get the next job, but they don’t see the power of the rest of the social media portfolio and how it gives them an opportunity to build their own personal brand as an event professional. But by the same token, I would go to lots of industry armchair meetings and little panels. There’s some really great content there, but other than the people in the room, that stuff is invariably lost. And as you said, if, if you just got. So if you just understood the very basics, it very simply you can have a rig that allows you to share that far and wide and, and take your message beyond those four walls. A very inexpensive Lee. And I think the challenge for event professionals per se is how the hell do you use a camera? If I haven’t got a cameraman, how the hell do I use a microphone? If I haven’t got a sound engineer, how do I actually do editing if I haven’t got an editor and I just think that, you know, with, with the stuff that’s out there today, it’s not beyond the wit of a little bit of application to suddenly extend the capability of you, your brand and, and the information that you’ve got. But going back to this question of the personal brand, what should we be doing or should we just leave the whole business of personal branding around social and, and what it could mean to the professionals and not try and do it.

Andrew Grill: 
My favourite subject, personal brand. So again, I practice what I preach and so I try things to see what works. The challenge is, and I’m Australian, but I’m also a British citizen now, so I understand from the British side, the British people aren’t really great at blowing their own trumpet. If I was an American it might be easy because stereotypically, they are a little bit more open to self-promotion. So, the challenge is always, how do I not be a jerk, but how do I tell people what I’m doing and it comes down to content. I’m very fortunate. I taught myself how to use all this equipment. I have a technical background, I’m inquisitive, and I learned how to do this. In fact, I’m even live streaming. I’ve got myself a live streaming box that sits on top of my camera and some of my talks and in fact an event I’m going to tonight at my church, I’m going to live stream it. Why? I want to say how hard it is to do it. And if ‘buggalugs Andrew’ can do it, then anyone can do it. But the personal brand is so important in this day and age. You have to be able to rise above the noise. Linkedin used to just be a directory of people looking to find new jobs since the acquisition by Microsoft, they really stepped it up a notch and their content team and the science behind what they’re doing has really evolved. Linkedin is now the place to play for business professionals who have something to say. There were challenges. There is so much content produced on Linkedin every day. It becomes very, very noisy and I gave this tip yesterday at a thought-leadership master class. If you want to do a Linkedin status update, like a tweet, it allows you to do 1,300 characters. It’s about six or seven paragraphs of fairly short sentences so you can get your point of view across fairly quickly and when you look at someone’s Linkedin posts, you might see the first few lines and it says ‘…more’. You can also add a video or a photograph to that post. I guess what I do, I take a video of me presenting or a photograph of me presenting. I put it against my 1300 characters and I send it out there and I test what works with the people like this particular post, how many people liked it or commented or viewed it and those sorts of things. And that increases my personal brand and I’ve been playing with this for a while. I mentioned before I used to run an influencer company, so I understand what happens when your level of influence over other rises and it’s about experiences that money cannot buy, so if you’re an event organizer, you have an event where only 200-300 people are there and you have all this amazing content and you’re there and so if you tweet a picture of the event that you’re involved with, people go, ‘oh, I didn’t know Randle’s doing that. How come he keeps going to all these great events? How come he keeps being invited to these things? I’ve got to follow him because he says some things that are really interesting.’ And so it’s down to be able to create content that is worth sharing, content that resonates and content that’s interesting to get yourself out there and have a name for what you’re doing. You can’t just keep saying, I’m wonderful, or I’m an event organiser I’m doing this event. That becomes very boring. Think about that as the noise floor. That is the noise of everything out there. If you sit in a room quietly and there’s an air conditioner in the background, that’s the what we call the noise floor. How do you rise above that noise and stand out? And it’s by having thoughtful, relevant content that’s helpful and yes, it might mean, and I’m often asked, ‘well, if someone’s got a great personal brand, does that mean they’re going to be poached?’ Absolutely. Everyone will leave your company at some stage, but if you can work with them and use their brand to enhance your brand and vice versa, that can be very, very powerful. When I was at IBM, I was there for about four years as an executive. I was on stage 50-100 times a year, both with IBM and with other organizations and they were thrilled because they realised, they were getting to places where they couldn’t get and they knew that my personal brand would increase by my association with my employer and it worked. It was a very symbiotic relationship. The challenge then is how do you measure that? In the break, we were talking off air about how you and I met and the reason I asked you was not because I’m vain, I want to know what is it that I did that caught your attention because I think you’ve got a great podcast. You’ve got a great community and people that have been on your show before are the sort of people that I aspire to and I look up to. So if I’m doing something right with my content, what was it that made you notice me? And then do more of that. It’s not simple. It’s something you have to work on all the time and you have to measure it. But going back to my point before about Googling yourself, your personal brand and your digital footprint. What you see today is what other people are saying. And you want to be owning that front page of Google. If you type my name into Google, there are 16 other Andrew Grill’s around the world. ‘Hi there. If you’re listening everyone, but I own the front page and that’s every single one of the first 10 (in fact onto the next page) entries are about me and ironically, all the photographs are of me presenting, which is brilliant. So ‘personal brand’ is so important. It differentiates you. It is a transferable skill and I’ve actually been able to qualify it both when I joined IBM and more recently, I can put a pound value figure on what my personal brand is worth, and I wish I could insure it because it’s relatively valuable.

Randle Stonier: 
So at the end of the day what we’re saying is that you’re stupid if you don’t because it brings so much more to your marketability, to what people might pay you to the kind of jobs that they might see you for, because you are a known player in this space who’s got a view, who’s well known, who’s well regarded and has quite a bunch of followers. So it is a commercially viable adjunct to your offering?

Andrew Grill: 
I wouldn’t say you’re stupid if you don’t do it. If you don’t do it you’re the same. You’re the same as everyone else. You’re in the noise and how do you rise above that? But yes, there is a real value to it, but it is hard to start doing it because it feels unnatural promoting yourself. And like I said before, there’s a fine line between aren’t I wonderful… what you really want… It’s a bit like this whole notion of thought leadership. I can’t call myself a thought leader. Thought leadership is earned just as influence is earned. So if someone thinks they read something I’ve written, I said, and they say ‘that’s thought leadership’, I’m flattered, but it is about being a bit humble but being useful. Be where there are ‘money can’t buy experiences’. So on the last podcast I mentioned that I met, Sir Tim Berners-Lee in an event at Parliament a few weeks ago. There were 40 people in the room. What he said was amazing and I was tweeting about it and I know that other people were going, ‘ how did you get to go to that?’ My friend, Andy Lopata who is another speaker and gave me a ticket to go, and I’m very thankful that he did. So it’s about having those connections and networks and then when you’re at these events basically tweeting money can’t buy experiences and that will encourage people to follow you because you have something of value to say. It comes back to what’s the value exchange? What do you have of value that I can I can trade with you?

Randle Stonier: 
As you’ve highlighted. It’s not necessarily easy, it’s not necessarily naturally comfortable for people to immerse themselves in Social from the outset, but little bite sized chunks. I think fundamentally thinking and attitudes have to change, both professionally and personally and there’s good ways of doing things and there are bad ways of doing things and holding all that together is important. But technology and using technology for social engagement is one thing, but it has a massive impact on our culture. And I think we’re all struggling to reconcile that. What are the issues? What needs to be done to bridge that gap to make it acceptable do you think Andrew?

Andrew Grill: 
It comes back to being useful. So if someone’s just tweeting all the time, ‘I’m fantastic. Look at me. Look at the clothes I’m wearing. Look at where I’m speaking. I’m amazing. I’m amazing.’ In real life, people are finding it a bit annoying. I’m not going to. I’m going to unfollow you whether it be technically or in person. So I think measuring the impact of what you’re doing. So on Linkedin for example, you share a post, there’s a view counter which is nice, but if people actually stop to engage, not just click the ‘like’ button, but click the comment button and write a few paragraphs, I know that what I’ve said has been useful. I actually did a post the other day about something. It was about digital agents and someone who works for Nasdaq disagreed with me and I was thrilled. I respectfully disagreed with his disagreement and I put that back in a very constructive way on the Linkedin post. But I was thrilled that he disagreed with my point of view. It meant that it made him think. As a speaker, here’s a good example. I think I’m an okay speaker and those of you can watch me and make your own assessment and when I come off stage people go, ‘that was fantastic’ and I’ve learnt to absorb the flattery because it will go to my head otherwise. And I say thank you very much. Very kind. What are then say some very important words, ‘thank you, but what will you do differently?’ And they stop, and they think, and they rub their chin. They go, hum, you’ve made me think about that. And so, for me, what I’m doing, the content I’m producing, is it making you think? And if it makes you think you’ll want to come back for more. And so you can do it in a very, a very surreptitious way to not be always out there, ‘I’m wonderful. I’m amazing’. But I’m giving you great content. There’s no charge for this. I want to share my wisdom and my points of view. And people will keep coming back for more and you will build a following. Some of my favourite bloggers are now friends, Brian Solis and Mark Schaefer who have been blogging for years. They’re now personal friends of mine, because they’re good people and they don’t always blow their own trumpet. They let other people blow for them, but they produce quality content on a regular basis that stimulates and challenges people. I think that’s the challenge. Can you say things that will make people think?

Randle Stonier: 
I think that absolutely sums it up beautifully. So I think that as a challenge back to events professionals is what, having listened to these last two podcasts, what will you do differently as an event professional, as an events leader? And if you’re not having a go at some of these things, if you’re not grabbing hold of some of these digital tools, then you haven’t really got an opportunity to express an opinion based on hard facts and evidence. Andrew, thank you for all of that. I think we’ve touched on a number of great points across the last two episodes covering disruption and obviously the social dimensions of digital. For people who want to explore things further, to get in touch with you personally, to keep abreast of your thought leadership. Where can people find you?

Andrew Grill: 
Yeah. Everything in the one place, Futurist.London. Think of me being a futurist, the Actionable Futurist. I live in London, Futurist.London. Everything is there. All of my blog posts, my videos, contact details, those sorts of things. That’s the one place to go to, to find out more.

Randle Stonier: 
Thank you. And as we’re largely talking to communications and events professionals and you are a practical thought leader, a Actionable Futurist in terms of the whole area of digital, whether as a keynote speaker, or as panelist, what are the hot topics that are around today? What do you find yourself most in demand for Andrew? And where can people find out more about those aspects? Do you have videos that people can watch?

Andrew Grill: 
The three things that really are challenging people at the moment, one is disruption. Just generally we’re being disrupted. What does it mean? What do we do? I spent a lot of my time doing bespoke talks for different industries on that I’m in a keynote or a workshop session. The notion of the future of work, what work will be like when the robots take over, where we will work, the gig economy, those sorts of things. And then general technology. I was asked to demystify what Blockchain, bitcoin and Fintech means to a bunch of finance directors a few weeks ago and I can be that translator. So again, Futurist.London will give you a sense of the things I talk about. They are replays of examples of each one of those talks and my longer talks. I’ve also done TEDx talks on four of those which challenged me, but I’m always looking to share my knowledge with an audience of any size and I would welcome people to get in touch.

Randle Stonier: 
Andrew, that’s brilliant. Thank you so very much. For more information, if you didn’t catch any of those links than go to Radio.Events and we’ll have all the information on the website there. For now, Andrew Grill thank you very much indeed.

Andrew Grill: 
Thanks Randle. It’s been a pleasure.

Randle Stonier: 
It’s been great having Andrew Grill as a guest over the last couple of episodes. As a bit of a geek myself I love talking all things digital. Also, having had the privilege of working with Deloitte over the last year on a series of projects around digital transformation in the tax and legal professions, I find it a fascinating subject. As both a technology practitioner and Actionable Futurist, Andrew Grill is a seasoned professional who’s also very actionable, so there were some great insights and useful things to consider there. So what will our working lives look like in the future? We’ll certainly be managing data better, we’ll harness its power to act faster, provide richer insights, and create business value to the organisations we serve and that will change the way we work. Increasingly, algorithms will be used to apply our knowledge and expertise. Our skills will evolve. Sure, we will need to be more tech savvy, but also work with business teams in new ways and that will put more emphasis on empathy and communication, creativity and design. Our daily lives will be very different. What we do will be tied less to email through a keyboard, and experienced more through virtual agents, video, voice, mixed reality and crowd platforms. Those global companies who’ve embraced the potential of our digital world have the confidence to lead it, and as event professionals, each and every one of us must embrace digital. All of us can do better. Or we will be left behind. We can’t be certain what the future will be, but as Abraham Lincoln once said, ‘the best way to predict your future is to create it’.

Three Blind MICE.

Randle Stonier: 
To get in touch with Andrew Grill directly, or if you’re looking for inspiration for possible speakers on digital disruption, technology, or social, for the links and for the transcripts from this podcast, they can all be found ‘Down the mouse-hole on this episode’s page at www.Radio.Events. Don’t forget to message me and tell me what you think of this episode and to suggest topics you’d like me to cover over the future episodes. Thank you for listening to this episode of Three Blind MICE from Radio.Events. Until next time, go well.

Three Blind MICE is edited and mixed by Sam Williams at Right Royal Audio – be heard, loud and clear.

Thank you so much for listening to this episode of Three Blind MICE here on Radio.Events. If you’ve enjoyed the show, please share it with your friends. Do head over to iTunes, give us a rating and leave a review and don’t forget you can send us a voice message directly through our voice pipe at www.Radio.Events. Until next time.