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Successful digital strategy in two words July 4, 2008

Posted by James Warren in marketing, pr, social media.

I’ve been thinking a lot recently about digital strategy and I keep coming back to one very simple universal truth: the key to success in digital communications, whether you’re an individual or a business, can be distilled down to two words: BE NICE.  If you don’t have it within your DNA to be nice then don’t even think about trying to do anything digital, because you will fail.  If you’re generous with your time, are courteous, listen, don’t interrupt, help people do what they want to do and make people smile – in short, if you’re nice – then people will want to hang out with you and introduce you to their mates. Simple.

It’s not not called antisocial media for nothing.


1. Jenny Orr - July 4, 2008

Yes good point I think you do have to be nice. Everyone wants to feel valued having had someone else take their views onboard. Marketers should have these good basic social skills. Listening is an important element. If you’re seen to be listening and take action as a result if you were a company for example reacting to feedback then consumers are more likely to sympathise with your efforts and think more highly of the company and additionally be more likely to engage in dialogue in the future.


2. Paul Mackender - July 4, 2008

James – I couldn’t agree more. I think a lot of people see this as being old fashioned, after all you can’t be nice and succeed surely Shirley? (who’s Shirley?). And I also agree that listening is a skill that is hugely underated.

Have I ever told you how nice you are James? ahhhh, lovely.

3. Matt Ravden - July 5, 2008

Have you been on the ecstacy again jimbob?

4. Simon Marks - July 7, 2008


Is that as in the biscuits or the town in the South of France? Because I can’t imagine that you actually mean us to be pleasant to each other online?

What will happen to flame wars? Calling each other Hitler? Posting anonymously so no-one knows it’s you?

Maybe you meant ‘diplomatic’? As in “Diplomacy is the art of saying “Nice doggie!” till you can find a rock.”

5. Mark - July 8, 2008

It’s a life strategy, not just a digital one.

Funnily enough, a youngster starting out on a career in PR asked me last week what my key pieces of advice would be. I said, “work hard, learn as much as you can and be nice.”

If everyone did that, wouldn’t it be great?

6. grantie - July 9, 2008

But being nice is such an EFFORT chap… oh yeah, I see your point…

7. James Warren - July 10, 2008

Hi Jenny – thanks for your comment. Love your blog name!

Paul – you’re lovely too.

They don’t call it email for nothing Matt.

Yes, Simon – nice. Not diplomatic. There’s a world of difference, don’t you think?

Mark, you’re absolutely right, of course. While it’s undoubtedly true for individuals, my post was aimed more at businesses. For some reason they tend not to think of ‘nice’ as being a key business attribute.

Enjoy Stockholm Grantie!

8. Mark - July 11, 2008

Your original post points to the central issue: businesses don’t have niceness in their DNA. Businesses are designed to do one thing, which is to make money. They’re pathological.

But that’s not to say that the people in them can’t be nice though.

9. James Warren - July 14, 2008

Mark, so true (funny how it seems…). I do think though there are some businesses that have hard-wired ‘niceness’ into their DNA and use it (non-cynically, they would have us believe) as a marketing device (Innocent is an obvious example). Effective digital marketing comes more naturally to these companies, I believe.

But ultimately, it’s taking on some of the attributes of ‘niceness’ that are key: listening, wanting to help, being respectful, using humour etc etc…

10. Matt Ravden - July 14, 2008

I am really only posting this so you get to ten posts, cos that is truly impressive.

But niceness … isn’t it more about acting with integrity? Niceness as an asset is a bit dangerous because you can’t always be nice. You may need to fire someone, and you can’t really do that nicely. It isn’t, by definition, nice. But you can do it with integrity.

Nice and Tidy
Tidy and Nice
That’s the Way that
We Leave your House

(jingle of well-known, very posh, cleaning service)

11. James Warren - July 14, 2008

B-b-b-b-but nice people can be ‘hard’ when required. Being nice doesn’t mean being a push-over. Does it? You’ve got to be cruel to be nice. Or something.

Aren’t Nice and Tidy from Mr Messy?

12. Matt Ravden - July 14, 2008

Vivian Stanshall, Sir Henry at Rawlinson End. Classic stuff.
It’s impossible to be nice all the time. But you can act with integrity at all times. And, I guess, you can treat people with respect at all times, which isn’t necessarily about being nice.

But I think we’re all fundamentally agreeing with your original thought, really, which means I am listening happily to the sound of my own voice for no apparent reason. And that happens a lot in social media, too, doesn’t it?

Digital masturbation. Now that can’t be social …

13. James Warren - July 14, 2008

Whackety whackety whack. FYI Mr Messy was Neat and Tidy – my mistake: http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Mr._Messy#List_of_characters

14. Becks - July 20, 2008

Ace point, well made. For the first time in my career, social media has meant people are really reaping what they sow and those willing to go the extra mile to help out colleagues, ex-colleagues, mates, frenemies or even total strangers are really seeing the benefits. Long may it continue.

15. Bookmarks about Strategy - August 6, 2008

[…] – bookmarked by 2 members originally found by hersoveela on 2008-07-19 Successful digital strategy in two words https://jameswarren.wordpress.com/2008/07/04/successful-digital-strategy-in-two-words/ – bookmarked […]

16. Jonathan Hopkins - August 29, 2008

be human, I think. and part of being a decent human is being nice . . .

17. True to the name of his blog… « PR 2.0 - October 1, 2008

[…] in marketing, pr, social media. trackback The very fine Faris Yakob has ’stolen’ my Be Nice idea.  Not that there’s a great deal of rocket science to it – it’s common sense, like […]

18. Illiya - October 9, 2008

Hey James,

Great post, I think you absolutely right. I like being nice all the time, clients appreciate honest, friendly and all together nice people.

If you keep on being nice throughout your career it will pay off. Shame everyone isn’t a clear thinking as yourself.

19. Norton's Notes - October 10, 2008

Warning blogger relations mustn…

Yesterday, I was speaking to a friend who works in the public sector and they asked me if I would explain the blogger outreach process and how to target bloggers properly without getting burnt. We have been busy at work…

20. Learning to speak human / we are social - February 5, 2009

[…] Jonathan Hopkins reminds me that similar things have been said recently by our friends James Warren, Faris Yakob and James […]

21. ted at innocent - February 22, 2009

Really like this thought, have had similar thoughts myself in the past.

Nice nice.



And being helpful, helpful’s good as well.

And saying thank you.

Sorry, shameless back linking. Thank you for the opportunity though.

22. James Warren - February 26, 2009

back link away, tedward. that’s what these bloggy commenty things are for, after all. i enjoyed your posts, thanks for sharing. stay happy

23. renaissance chambara | Ged Carroll - Be useful - April 17, 2009

[…] Warren talked about the golden rule for online PR / social media  strategy as be nice. Being nice however will only get you so far. Lots of us know people who are annoying because they […]

24. zia - July 14, 2009

Love this post…think there’s so much truth in it..and it really does work!

25. Remarketables 09.15 | Blog | design mind - September 16, 2009

[…] Is Your Marketing Too Nice? Yes – No […]

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