brands Archives — Carrington Malin

April 6, 2024

It’s 20 years now since I signed up for LinkedIn, so here are 20 things I’ve learned from the B2B social networking platform.

To mark my 20 years on LinkedIn, here are 20 things I’ve learned from LinkedIn, since I joined the B2B social networking platform on April 6th, 2004. Of course, my experience does extend beyond LinkedIn, and the lessons I’ve learned are also not exclusive to LinkedIn either.

  1. LinkedIn is hands-down the best social network for B2B. I’ve lost count of the number of customers I’ve signed as a result of LinkedIn outreach, inbound connections, referrals from my connections, let alone paid-for LinkedIn marketing campaigns. Although it’s critical important to respect the people that you target.
  2. Everyone has their own motivations for using LinkedIn. For some, its simply where they look for their next job. For some, it’s their way of staying up-to-date on business news and trends. Some want to sell. Some want to network. Some don’t actually know!
  3. Networking is great, but trust wins business and that doesn’t come quickly. I love connecting with interesting people on LinkedIn and I’m happy to try to help people that connect with me. However, any meaningful business involves a commitment on both sides and that requires trust. Just because someone accepts your invite to connect, doesn’t mean that they have any reason to trust you.
  4. Different people can help you in different ways. A connection’s value to me often has nothing to do with their job title or where they work. Sure, it’s great to be connected with leaders in exciting roles around the world, but these are generally the connections that I have the least frequent contact with. When I’m asking for help, they are often too busy, or simply not online.
  5. When someone likes your post, it doesn’t mean that they’ve read it! People like LinkedIn posts for different reasons. They could be reciprocating your Likes on their posts, they might have the intention to read it later or it could be just a random impulse to like something whilst scrolling! The people that actually read your posts are the minority.
  6. Success isn’t related to how successful people say they are. Or the number of likes someone gets! Some company’s seem to develop cultures where liking your boss’s post is something you do, even if you disagree with everything he’s ever done! Likewise, someone who has just achieved a success that others may only dream of, may not even mention it on LinkedIn.
  7. Opinions are like – well, you know! Everyone is entitled to their opinion. Some like to share it widely, some only share their opinion when prompted by someone else’s content, some seem to bestow it on their followers like it is a rare gift to mankind! I often end up learning things from opinions that I completely disagree with.
  8. Some people just don’t Like or comment. However, some of them do read. Many times I’ve assumed, wrongly, that someone hasn’t read my article, blog or seen my LinkedIn post. Then, when I mention it to them later, they say “yes, of course, I read it”. That’s actually more valuable to me than a Like.
  9. LinkedIn’s algorithm favours mass media. I can’t count the number of times, I’ve casually shared a new story from the mass media and seen it get ten, twenty or even thirty times the Likes than when I’ve shared original content that I’ve spent the whole day on. And this doesn’t seem to depend on the quality of the mass media story either!
  10. Don’t assume that connections actually read your profile! I receive messages virtually every day requesting calls and meetings to discuss potential projects, opportunities or collaboration ideas. Every week at least one of those people has asked for the meeting, because they’ve assumed they know something about me without reading my profile.
  11. LinkedIn profiles are two-dimensional, people are not. I’ve worked hard on my Linkedin to ensure that it represents me well, appears in the right searches and highlights what I offer to followers, connections and business contacts. However, whilst profiles are a great tool to help you learn more about someone, there’s much that you cannot learn about someone from their LinkedIn profile. Don’t assume too much!
  12. Your story is your story. Your brand is your brand. Still, it may take you a while to fogure out how to tell your story via LinkedIn. Do seek advice and listen to feedback or suggestions for your LinkedIn activities. However, remember that what works great for someone else on LinkedIn, may not suit you. Don’t adopt someone else’s tactics or content ideas, unless you think they will resonate with your most valuable audiences.
  13. Automating poorly harms your brand. There are many tools that promise to make your life easier on LinkedIn, notably GenAI content tools, message automation tools and LinkedIn marketing tools themselves. You have to ask yourself, what you would feel when seeing such content or receiving such messages. If you don’t actually know, because you don’t pay that much attention to your own automated content, then you’re likely doing yourself and/or your brand more harm than good.
  14. Yes, there are fakes and frauds on LinkedIn. As with all social platforms, LinkedIn gets its fair share of fakes and frauds. Sometimes these are easy to spot, sometimes not so easy. A new profile with few details, few connections and a professionally take photo of a pretty woman is one of the easiest fakes to spot! When in doubt, there is always the option to decline the invite to connect, or even delete the connection!
  15. Connection without conversation is pointless. I always start a conversation with new connections via a brief intro message. I want them to know what my focus is in case there is an opportunity to cooperate with them in the future, and I want to understand what they do for the same reason. At the very least, I’ll be able to go back to that conversation later to remind myself why we connected in the first place.
  16. Referrals have more value than cold approaches. Any 2nd level LinkedIn connection is connected to one of your existing connections. That means that its possible you could get introduced by one of your existing connections. When you actually have an opportunity to talk to a 2nd level connection about, a referral from one of your 1st level connections will help you build trust faster.
  17. A little empathy and respect cost you nothing! Everyone is is at a different point in their own journey. LinkedIn has members that are students through to retirees. There are over 200 nationalities on LinkedIn and so many users that dont’ have English as their first language. It’s easy to be dismissive of posts, messages or comments because they don’t fit your own world-view. It’s just as easy to be kind.
  18. Most people will say nothing. Regardless of whether they agree or disagree, or approve or disapprove, most people won’t comment on your posts. Just like most people won’t comment on that new “visionary leader” title that you’ve just given yourself. Nor tell you how impressed they were by something you shared last week. So, don’t read too much into people’s feedback on LinkedIn, or lack of it.
  19. Persistence, resilience and balance! Everyone needs to pick their own comfort level with LinkedIn. However, if you expect to get business results from LinkedIn, it pays to be persistent. Big followings and engaged connections can take years to build – this includes periods of time when your efforts may not be rewarded. How much effort you put in, needs to align with your ultimate goals. There’s nothing wrong with just spending an hour on LinkedIn each week, just don’t expect to become a shooting star.
  20. You reap what you sow. What value you get out of LinkedIn, depends heavily on what you value you put in. Be interesting, people will be interested. Be helpful, people will be helpful in return. Post frequently and even LinkedIn algorithm will be more supportive of your efforts.

I hope that you enjoyed my list of  ‘ 20 things I’ve learned from LinkedIn’ . If you haven’t yet found me on LinkedIn, click here.

Read my last article about LinkedIn:

November 5, 2020

Legendary marketing pioneer and author Philip Kotler defines brand positioning as ‘the act of designing the company’s offering and image to occupy a distinctive place in the mind of the target market’. Positioning is a critical component in the promotion of any venture, from advertising and public relations, to sales and customer relationship management (CRM), even having an impact on the structure and policies of growing companies. Founders tend to work hard on positioning their ventures, but a chain is only as strong as its weakest link.

In these days of Internet learning, it’s easy to read about the role of positioning, see examples of what it looks like and find out how to go about developing your own positioning statement. It’s something that’s top of mind for all founders, whether they realise that it’s positioning or not. Finding a process that works for you can help you crystalise your value proposition and create a clear positioning statement.

Nevertheless, developing strong positioning that differentiates your brand from competitors and aligns exactly with your business strategy, is easier said than done. Our end result in developing brand positioning is defining how we could like our customers to think and feel about our brand, but for this actually to be the case, positioning must work well across every aspect of our brand, marketing and communications.

If your business proposition is not receiving the recognition that it deserves, internally or externally, this could be due to a weak point in your positioning strategy. Here are five reasons why your brand positioning may not be working for you.

Continue reading this story on

August 11, 2020

Will AI replace human creativity? Or help them take creativity to the next level? It could simply depend on how we choose to use it.

Those that know me well will know that I have become obsessed with how artificial intelligence will impact brands, communications and consumers. Last week, I was inspired by an article by The Drum‘s Brands Editor Jen Faull, which explored the current state of AI in creative work and asks the question “Will artificial intelligence replace human creatives?”

It’s a great question to ask, because no one really knows the answer. Rephrase the question slightly and ask “could artificial intelligence replace human creatives?’ and I’d argue that the answer is, most definitely, yes (obviously, leaving aside the question of “when?”). Is AI destined to take over the creative brief entirely and replace human creatives and creative processes? I’d say that, at the end of the day, this is largely going to be up to us to decide.

The meteoric rise of so called artificial intelligence – which, these days, is used synonymously with the many applications, systems and devices powered by machine learning – is as impressive as it is scary. And, as with most up and coming technologies, it’s often very difficult to differentiate the reality from the hype.

Will AI replace creatives?

By all accounts, AI is by no means ready to fill our creative boots. We can train AI systems to learn things from data sets, analyse trends, make recommendations and actually create outputs of different kinds, including “creative work”. However, AI hasn’t yet been able to even convincingly mimic the complexities of human thought and creativity. Some would argue that it is only a matter of time before that data too is assimilated. Imagine an AI system trained on the experiences, thoughts and dreams of the planet’s top 100 advertising creative professionals? It could happen, just not quite yet.

Today, AI systems have been used to produce original creative advertising work with, at best, moderate success. However, AI is much better at targeting, deploying and optimising advertising assets. There are also an increasingly wide range of tools becoming available to inform, analyse, optimise and fast-track creative projects. As AI voice becomes ubiquitous, using those tools is going to become more intuitive and seamless – and so better to assist creative development.

Inspired by the article on The Drum, I posted some further questions on Linkedin last week – “Will AI fast-track the training and development of creative professionals? Or will AI’s efficiency strangle that essential pipeline of new creative talent that would have traditionally developed up through the ranks?”

‘You can’t box creativity’

A variety of advertising, marketing and technology professionals responded in comments and via messaging. You can read all the comments in full on my post from last week here. Meanwhile, it could be useful to summarise some key points here. Although there was consensus that AI is nowhere near ready to take over human creative work, I was interested to find that there were also some quite divergent opinions.

From some, there was certainty that AI could not and will not replace human creatives. Sherif El Ghamrawy at Photovision Plus believes that “there will always be certain things that remain uniquely human that no machine will ever be able to truly replicate”, citing emotion and imagination as key differentiators. Ramesh Naidu Garikamokkala at PAGO Analytics agrees that AI is not going to replace the role of our emotions.

Ibrahim Lahoud of Brand Lounge also seems to be in agreement with this, sharing that AI could fast-track training and development of creatives, but that’s where he draws the line. “AI can create a logo where human creatives will create a brand. AI can analyze shapes and colors where humans can read emotions.”

Jad Hindy at MRM/McCann noted (via messaging) that you can’t box creativity or confine it within a standard process. He says “ideation can’t be AI-ed, but the creation of assets can.”

Some of the futurists out there, do believe that AI could replace human creativity sometime in the future. Although, as Steven Gare of AI Blockchain Service puts it “defining AI in this context is pure speculation at this time”.

Most professionals agree that AI does promise to both empower and change the creative process, including career development. Lahoud’s take is that “AI will not replace creatives, but will rather be an incredibly powerful assistive tool that will act as an extension to their boiling minds”. Kassem Nasser, American University of Beirut, agrees and says that AI “is a technology that will open new challenges and opportunities to our minds not replace them.”

Meanwhile, Robert McGovern at Horizontal Digital notes that new AI tools could help with brainstorming, idea generation and connecting different concepts together, plus fast-tracking research work.

‘Think of AI as an exoskeleton for brains!’

In my mind, how creative professions – and creative industries as a whole – adapt to the arrival of AI and other new technologies is going to play the deciding role in determining whether we are empowered to create greater things or get used to accepting what AI creates for us. A point well made by Gowri Selka from Volantsys Analytics Inc., “it is critical for humans from all backgrounds of career to gain new skills and leverage these technologies to their benefit.”

For sure, the clock is ticking. AI and related technologies are developing at a pace that we’ve never experienced before. Like it or not, change is absolutely the only constant that we can look forward to. As Jürn-Christian Hocke at Select World urges, “we have to think about the new dealt cards NOW.” And says, creatives must learn what creativity and creative careers will look like in the future.

“Think of AI as an exoskeleton for brains!” is Lahoud’s advice for creatives. And, I think, he’s hit the nail on the head here.

As the capabilities of AI continue to grow, the creative process may look less and less like the process of old. However, whether this process remains human centric, is going to depend on how we frame AI’s future role. If AI is to super-charge human creativity, it’s up to creative professionals to take firm hold of the controls and remain at the very centre of the creative process. Time to suit up!

This story was originally published on Linkedin

Read the Arabic language version here: نظرة على مستقبل الإبداع

November 2, 2019

Do brands need AI avatars of themselves? Last week at London’s One Young World Summit, Biz Stone co-founder of Twitter and Lars Buttler, CEO of San Francisco-based The AI Foundation, announced a new concept they called ‘personal media’ and claimed that artificial intelligence is the future of social change. The Foundation is working on new technology that Buttler says will allow anyone to create an AI avatar of themselves, which would look like them, talk like them and act like them. Empowered by AI avatars, people will then be able to, potentially, have billions of conversations at the same time.

So, what does this new kind of AI communications mean for brands?

Continue reading this story on Linkedin

September 25, 2019

Despite the proclamations of enhanced customer experience, much of the interest and deployment of chatbots today is driven by cost savings. Customer service departments and the CFOs that approve their budgets have an opportunity to significantly reduce HR costs and add a new service that also has the prospect of being a revenue generator.

However, there are good reasons why large companies replacing human customer service with an automated customer service agent should consider chatbot projects as brand and customer experience initiatives first, and not simply a software roll-out.

Continue reading this story on Linkedin.

September 10, 2019

More than half of employers don’t have a written policy on the ethical use of AI or bots, whilst AI chatbots and how they interact with customers play a growing role in shaping brand perceptions.

If you’ve implemented a new AI chatbot platform, then your brand’s chatbot can be made available to customers 24/7, respond instantly to queries and resolve up to 80 percent of questions without the need to involve a human customer service agent. However, customer service agents are generally bound by contracts, employee codes of conduct and operating procedures. Do the same rules apply for your chatbot?

Continue reading this story on Linkedin

August 29, 2019

Many companies have discussions about their brand’s personality, whether brought on by a brand development exercise, or the question of how their brand comes across in TV advertising or, perhaps, how it is seen and heard on social media. Is the brand playful or serious? Traditional or nonconformist? Conservative or outrageous? Does it have a sense of humour?

Often these personality attributes remain somewhat latent. Companies that see their brands as risk takers or eccentric, often find that they don’t particularly want to broadcast the fact for fear of upsetting their conservative customers. Likewise, marketers who feel that their brands can have a little bit of fun on social media, because it is expected of them by other social media users, often don’t use the same sort of fun persona for other communications.

So, where does this all leave us when it comes to conversational marketing?

Continue reading this story on Linkedin

January 15, 2018

After a decade of brands being tried and tested by social media, another new medium is set to challenge brand integrity: AI-powered voice technology. This new voice-controlled world will not only test brand differentiation, but also how enduring a brand’s relationship is with its consumers.

A new medium is set to challenge brand integrity. A disruptive force that could wreak havoc on carefully crafted communications guidelines and brand management methodologies: voice technology. The rise of voice assistants, voice-controlled devices and 24-hour a day, on-demand voice content is going to stretch even the most agile marketing organisations as they are forced to re-examine what their brand’s tone-of-voice really means to them.

This is a new world where your computer, mobile, home electronics, home automation, security and even your car are going to be voice-controlled. From a consumer point of view, this means that , in the near future, product discovery, pre-purchase research, second opinions, price comparison, buying transactions, user manuals and after-sales service will all be enabled by voice automation, voice content and AI-powered voice.

Continue reading this story on the Spot On blog.

November 28, 2017

Donald Trump’s habit of repeatedly ‘crying wolf’ over media stories has played a big part in pushing ‘fake news’ into the public consciousness this year. However, fake news is a real problem. In fact, fake content of all kinds is a problem: and one that is going to reach enormous proportions over the next few years, misleading consumers, journalists, students, voters and other seekers of truth in the process. A content war is coming and fake content is already starting to carry the big guns.

Global research and advisory firm Garter predicts that by 2020, “most people in mature economies will consume more false information than true information”. This onslaught of fake content is being enabled by artificial intelligence (AI).

Continue reading this story on the Spot On blog.

November 28, 2017

Much is being made of Amazon’s Alexa voice recognition technology and the voice platform’s ability to recognise speech and respond to voice requests. Early adopters of Alexa assistants seem to be delighted with the ease at which they can discover new content, control other devices. participate in interactive content and make onlin purchases. However, the best is probably still to come. As artificial intelligence (AI) develops further and leverages other technologies, digital assistants are likely to begin anticipating your needs rather than simply serving them efficiently.

Could artificial intelligence powered digital assistants, such as Alexa, take de facto control of your daily routine? And, if so, how much influence could they wield over your brand choices?

Continue reading this story on the Spot On blog.