#AcWri resource: How to cite social media sources

With social media becoming such an ubiquitous source of information the opportunities to use social media content are increasing, including in academic writing. For instance, I have personally used social media to conduct interviews, as well as in netnography.


But how to cite those sources?


This table, produced by teachbites, summarises guidance from the MLA and from the APA on how to cite blog posts, youtube videos and so on. Bookmark it!

The other side of free apps

Human is an iPhone app (no affiliate link) that monitors movement. It tracks physical activity throughout the day with the objective of encouraging an active (and, thus, healthy) lifestyle. And it is free.


While we are eagerly tracking how many minutes we have walked or cycled, grateful for this boost to our health from a free app, the company behind the app is amassing the data. Through a process detailed here, the company produced and released visualisations of the activity of its users.


The visualisations are truly stunning. The visualisations are also a reminder that, when the product is free, we become the product.


June round-up

June was a very weird month. Following some health problems, I had to take time off at the start of the month. Really off –the  ‘not-even-reading-a-book-kind-of- being-off’ off.


That means that I failed to achieve most of the things on my To Do list. Still, there were some highlights during the month.



Frustratingly, I had to pause work on the co-creation paper, and missed the kick off meetings for a new project looking at Digital Marketing in SMEs. I only managed a couple of days at the end of the month to catch up with what is happening in the services industry and reflect on the implications of these for services marketing research.



Again, I had to pause work in the co-creation paper and other writing projects. I only managed to work on a conference paper.


On the positive side, I received the great news that a paper had been accepted for publication on the journal “Qualitative Research”. Yay.



I am still involved with the Company Projects module, and looking forward to the students’ presentations next month.



MasterclassMy learning highlight has to be the Digital Marketing master class with Mark Schaefer and Ana Silva O’Reilly. It was a great lesson not just in terms of content – particularly about online influence – but also in terms of running this type of event. I also had the pleasure of catching up with Mark and Ana the evening before the class, when we put the world to rights and watched the world cup match between USA and Portugal.


Oh, and I had the immense pleasure of meeting computing legend NormanNorman Sanders 2014 012 Sanders, at Oxford Brookes’s graduation ceremonies. We talked about our shared love for Bletchley Park, and about early computing technology. And I learned about ‘mercury memory’, a very early form of computing memory.



But the main highlight of this month has got to be the graduation ceremonies at Brookes. When the students join our MSc Marketing programme they are fuGraduation 2014ll of hope and dreams, but also anxiety and doubt. So, it is always great to realise how much they have developed as professionals and individuals, and hear about the role of our degree in that transformation.

What were June’s highlights for you?

What cat food says about the cat owner

When I teach about positioning, I often refer to the market for cat food, using an example unashamedly stolen from my fabulous former colleague, David James.


There are 2 key aspects to positioning. One is to find an angle for the product that is unique and, hence, differentiates it from the competitors. Otherwise, you enter a “me-too” scenario where the only reason why someone might buy A instead of B is because one is cheaper than the other. The other aspect is to communicate that difference, through all your marketing initiatives, to reinforce the positioning.


David James used to illustrate this concept by comparing two brands of cat food, Whiskas and Sheba. Both products perform the same basic function: feed your pet cat. But while Whiskas’s positioning emphasises the nutritional benefits of the product, Sheeba’s emphasises the pleasure of owning a cat. Accordingly, Whiskas’s adverts showcase the cat exploring their environment, growing up, etc. By contrast, Sheba’s show the interaction between the cat and its owner – usually, a single woman of refined tastes, as in this advert featuring Eva Longoria:


And that’s not all. The packaging is very different, too. The Whiskas packaging displayed in the adverts can be easily opened – even with your teeth, while putting down your groceries shopping. Sheba’s, however, requires both hands, maybe even a fork, to transfer it to an elegant plate our saucer.


How the products are described varies, too. When you buy Whiskas, you get ‘tasty textures of chicken’, whereas when you buy Sheba you get a ‘terrine of poultry’. The choice of words makes the latter sound more like cuisine than pet food.


And the differences continue. The point being that positioning is, essentially, a mental construct. Cat food is cat food – but the choice of words, colours, packaging, etc make each product appeal to completely different buyers.


At this point, David would open a package of Whiskas and a package of Sheba, pick up a couple of forks, and invite his audience to try both to see if they could spot the difference. The volunteer, when there was one (usually, David would do the ‘taste test’ himself), would generally conclude that the 2 products were pretty much the same, as far as taste was concerned.


The bottom line of this example is that people do not buy product features. People buy feelings and emotions – be it the feeling of confidence, or the feeling of sophistication.


I remembered this example today, when I read a post by Seth Godin entitled ‘Cat food is for people’. Seth says that what’s important in cat food (or other products, really) is how they make us feel. To take the point further he asks:

“(I)f you think cat food is for cats, how come it doesn’t come in mouse flavour?



There you go. Mice would do. Cats might even prefer it?! But how many cat owners would wince at the thought of handling a pouch of minced mice?


Do you want to work with me?

At Oxford Brookes University, we are looking for 4 amazing people to join the Department of Marketing of the Faculty of Business. The deadline for applications is June, 20th 2014 and we have the following positions open:


We are a great bunch of people to work with.

We also have a lively research community doing work in the areas of Branding, Customer Relationship Management and Digital Marketing.

If you have any questions about working at Brookes, I am very happy to answer them.

May round-up

At the start of the month, I wrote in my research journal: “May must be very, very productive”. By productive I meant researching and writing a lot. And I really meant it. But…

… my good intentions went down hill very, very, very quickly.


As I look at the square in my diary that shows me that May is ending, I can not help thinking “Where did the month go?”.


These were the highlights of the month for me. Let me know yours.



tablet1I have been mostly reading about, and refreshing my knowledge of, co-creation. I put together a visual summary of the literature here.



Here, too, I have been mostly focused on the topic of co-creation, as I am drafting a paper using co-creation as the guiding framework. It has been a very slow, almost painful, process, however.


In addition to that, I reviewed and resubmitted a paper about social media crises, and I started working on the website materials for the Research Methods books.



At the beginning of the month, I wrapped up teaching Digital Marketing Strategies to our MSc Marketing students. Later in the month, I started facilitating Company Projects – this is a module where the MSc Marketing students work on live marketing consultancy projects. This summer we have projects with an art gallery, a hotel and a software developer.



CAQDASI went to a conference on CAQDAS and learned a lot about the latest developments in technological tools to analyse qualitative data, including visual data (pictures and videos). I picked up a couple of demos and I am looking forward to checking how good they are to analyse Twitter conversations.


In addition, I finally read the book Mindset by Carol Dweck. I found the idea of the book extremely powerful. Dweck argues that, when approaching a problem, we can adopt one of two mindsets: the fixed mindset (where we assume that our talents are fixed and success is determined by having, or not, particular skills) and the growth mindset (where we assume that talents can be developed and, hence, success is enabled by hard work and perseverance). I could clearly see how, sometimes, I got get trapped in a fixed mindset.


I really enjoyed the numerous examples provided in the book, showing the application of the concepts to various areas of life, from personal relationships to teaching / learning, and including the author’s own life. Having said that, I did find the book a bit frustrating because it is very repetitive. I think the book could either be cut down by one-third or so; or, alternatively, the author could go beyond the anecdotes and add detail and deeper insight into how the mindsets are developed and, in particular, changed.


On a very different note, thanks to Arjan Tupan’s European Portraits series, I have also been learning about what various European citizens think about the EU. And I was very honoured to be featured in this series, too (here).



In June, I am looking forward to…
The Digital Marketing Masterclass with Mark Schaefer and Ana Silva O’Reilly (aka, Mrs O Around the World), which is taking place on June 23rd.


Oh, and I am also looking forward to turning into the mother of a teenager.


What exciting challenges is the next month bringing you?

Co-Creation mind map

I am working on a paper using co-creation, which required me to survey the related literature. To help me capture the key themes discussed in the various papers that I read, I created a mind map. This is still work in progress but, as this is such a relevant topic in marketing (and management, in general), I thought that I would share this simplified version with you.



I hope it is useful. Do let me know if you use it, and how.