Challenge by design an Interview with Mark Wadsley and Stephen Cranston

Marta Rosa Spiga

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Mark Wadsley is a successful blogger and an ex British Army Officer. He has spent the subsequent 18 years in Consulting services, with over 15 years living internationally based in multiple regions, delivering services to the HR community in EMEA, APAC, LATAM and NA.Mark ran his own business, for a decade delivering HR services to the IT, Banking & Media industries, in particular to companies inclusive of but not limited to; Google, SAP, Oracle, SFDC, JPMorgan, Accenture, Cigna Insurance in Asia Pacific & EMEA.

The Circular spoke with him of giving his personal view – not the opinions of his employers- about blogging.

Business
Credit Photo of Dennis Skley

 

You started your blog. How did you come up with this idea?

Social networks are a paradox. If everyone is connected then they are not required: so a blog is risk management. That means as social networks continue for commercial reasons, they may reduce connectivity opportunities indeed they limit the size of your network for business reasons, so having your own blog means you take control of your audience and are not at the mercy of social networks, I think being socially connected is vital to somebody wants to live in the contemporary business world. For me in my childhood we grew up without the internet, democracy seemed more about marches and paying for adverts, so now I am fascinated by the idea that everybody may have the opportunity to have a voice shared with a vast range of people globally to create change; I am fascinated by this strong borderless, voice and I feel privileged to be a part of it. What is missing for me though is just one more click, I would love a button that allows us to say “I do or don’t like” your point of view, but I am still interested in your point of view, having only one button limits the expression and engagement and I think is inherently a mistake for social media today so in the worst case you live in a bubble based on the power of the likes that you make, and you end up reinforcing the same message to yourself, your point of view as you often based on the social platforms you use end up with only similar content.

How can you become an influencer?

You need to grow a community of focus it does not have to be large, although large help, as it depends on what you are trying to influence. Try to talk to people in your community and make the blog relevant to them by creating conversations and inviting their opinion don’t just be about your own soap box point of view. Controversy, especially questioning helps.

Do you an Italian audience?

My wife is Italian. I have a multinational audience from India to Milan.

Any tricks improving your social brand?
You have to be authentic. People want to know you genuine, but hey, it ’s okay sometimes you can change your mind. You need to create frequency around your engagement. Otherwise, your audience forgets that you exist. Be original, have some diversity of contributions and shares, else your just beige paint or green grass growing, nice, but so what, what I mean is have a splash of red paint, and say something out loud..!!

Your blog is called challenge by design. Why did you choose this name?

Because the challenge for the sake of it is, from my point of view, more of an immature reaction to the world, if you are going to challenge then do so with structure thought and above all balance, hence challenge by design

Why do you think it is now important to create a personal brand?

A personal brand is a future CV, today, for those who get it, it represents us and gives an instant message to our community on who we are. But like all brands it’s okay to change, just do so by, yes design

Mark Wadsley
Mark Wadsley

 

Stephen Cranston, Social and Content Marketing Consultant, accepted to answer some questions- this is his view not from his employer-

Can you tell me more about your role?

My primary role is to counsel and coach executives in the use of social media. This has been the most interesting period of my 25 years in communications.  To make the best use of social media I have had to draw on my experience in politics, PR, influencer-marketing, advertising, buzz marketing and social networks. I am not a social media guru as many of those are newly minted – I have been in circulation for a long time. Social is an extension, perhaps even a culmination, of years of work in communications and marketing. There are many aspects of working with executives on social media but perhaps the most enjoyable is helping them to become content creators. Of course, the aim is helping them in their careers but the act of content creation sometimes has a profound effect on their thinking.

Why are companies encouraging their employees to use Social Media?

Because their customers have moved to social media. If you look at the old method – cold calls, I am not sure if that is working anymore. Most people use mobile phones, and they don’t pick up the phone if they don’t recognize the number. There is a cultural change in communication. The sales method has to be contemporary with the form of communication that people are using. Customers moved to the social networks, so the customer took the lead, not the companies.

If you consider a small and medium company, which social media would you suggest to use?

If I was an SME, the big one at the moment is Facebook. They offer a lot of support, even for offline business activities. However if your customer is a corporation and you are selling business to business, you should consider LinkedIn.

Do you think running a blog could be good for your personal brand?

I do. It is a form of educational marketing and a way to build a community around your business. Your blog is connected to but independent of social media platforms, and that is a good reason to keep your content on a blog.If someone is in a corporate career, I think it is useful in developing yourself as a subject matter expert. Hopefully getting to the point where the people connected with you trust and accept your advice.

You live in Asia. Do you think they are different in the use of social media?

I have lived in Asia so long that I can only answer by saying if I think Europeans are different in their use of social media. They are less different than I expected. I think social media is global. Trends pick up globally as well as locally, and you are often best to segment by interest groups than by geographic groups.

Is the increase in the use of social media in companies connected with their Millennial employees?

Well, they are digital natives but I wouldn’t overplay it as studies show Generation X uses social media more than millennials. I think the fact millennials grew up on social media should make it more of a natural process for them than conversing on the phone. They can be shyer picking up the phone and cold calling – it wasn’t easy even for people who grew up with phone calls as the default communication. In organizations, there should be two-way mentoring to address generational knowledge gaps. However, the move to social media by companies is a response to customers, not employees.

Stephen Cranston
Stephen Cranston

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Marta Rosa Spiga