I am a London-based Digital PR/Social Media/SEO Consultant, music producer/anorak, deep sea diver, avid cyclist, worldwide traveller and football-loving technology bod! This page functions as a kind of online scrapbook/resource featuring my favourite blog posts and news items as well as my own personal reviews and recommendations in the worlds of music, sport, travel and technology!
Sunday, 25 April 2010
Sunday, 11 April 2010
As someone who blogs regularly both for work and pleasure, I am all too familiar with the issue of writer’s block. Finding sufficient inspiration to fuel a daily, weekly or even monthly post can prove a struggle – and knowing what to write about and when is something our clients often quiz us about when embarking on a new corporate blog. Choosing a subject that will also attract traffic is an even tougher call – after all, what’s the point of a putting all your efforts into a blog post that noone will read?
IBM have tackled this issue in an innovative way with their Blog Muse tool, described recently on Gigaom as:
“…a kind of social recommendation system for blog posts in which users say what they want to read about, other users then vote on those suggestions, and the most popular topics get distributed to those most likely to want to write about them…”
Sadly this tool is currently only available to IBM bloggers via an internal system, but with the wealth of analytics and trending tools available, there’s nothing to stop any company or individual blogger putting a similar process in place to inform their blogging schedule.
If you read Roger’s recent post on Informed Creativity, you’ll have seen our Social Media Planning slidedeck, which outlines C&M’s approach to content planning. And as far as blogging is concerned, it’s not a million miles away from IBM’s technique.
From my point of view, as the person who drives the creative side of content planning, it helps to pinpoint more general content themes for each client, around which to write specific blog posts. This not only gives a focus for the analytics that drive topic ideas and keywords, but helps to ensure a good balance of content on an ongoing basis.
These themes are obviously different for every client and industry, but here are some of the recurring ones as a guide:
- PRACTICAL: Deconstruct industry practices, offer advice/recommendations
- EVENTS: Identify and write about key industry events/conferences. Live tweeting from events can also be made into post-event blog posts
- CASE STUDIES: Interviews with key customers/clients – this could be via an embedded video or podcast, or a plain old-fashioned written piece
- CHALLENGES: Respond to common industry problems, encourage customers/potential customers to interact
- NEWS: Staying on the pulse of related online content and commenting on high profile news pieces/articles, adding your own thoughts on a subject via blog posts/tweets
- SURVEYS: Encourage customers and general public to participate in area/event/topic focused online surveys and use the results to create blog posts and stimulate conversation
- STAFF: Individual blog posts by employees with more personality (i.e. ‘The team recommends’, opinion pieces, fun stuff)
There are plenty more I could include, but you get the picture. Once this content framework is in place, we use our analytics and trending tools to identify the best subjects to blog about at any given time and the best keywords to focus on within those broad themes.
Our blogging guide tells you more about this content planning process, as well as lots of other useful tips on blogging in general – including what to write about and how to get your blog noticed once it’s up and running.
Remember that a good post doesn’t have to equal a long blog post, in fact short and sweet is often the best way to ensure that the whole post gets read and isn’t dismissed as ‘TLDR’ (thanks, @Jake_Doran, for that gem). Many blog posts these days simply consist of a Social embed (Flickr slideshow, YouTube video) with a little bit of an intro – and there’s nothing wrong with that, as long as it’s useful, relevant and interesting to your readership.
And whether you decide to blog daily, weekly or monthly – stick to a consistent publishing schedule so that your regular readers will know what to expect and you will know exactly how much content you need to be producing in your planning cycle.
If you follow these simple principles, you should never find yourself asking “what shall I blog about today?” or plucking random subjects out of the air.
The thumbnail that accompanies this post was adapted from a photograph by FarleyJ on Flickr."
Brands confused by choices on how to deploy social media programs I recently spoke to the global marketing team at a large technology company, and one of the questions being wrestled with was deciding if social media efforts should be setup by brand, vs product teams wanting to create their own unique pages and experiences. A specific question emerged “Should we setup our efforts by product type or by brand?” There are drawbacks and upsides to each of these, and I wanted to layout the ramifications.
[Whether companies setup their social programs by 'Brand, Lifestyle, Product, or Location' they must choose wisely. Each deployment has a different benefit and drawback --the savvy will use in combination.]
Brands who choose poorly risk community backlash -those that do not choose risk worse Companies that choose poorly will have wasted internal efforts and resources, set up false expectations for customers and may struggle with trying to redact a program in public where customers are already assembling. In particular, social failures like Wal-Mart’s branded community ‘The Hub’ have now become a case study of doing it wrong. Yet having no strategy means that product teams, regional teams, and individual regions will do whatever they want –causing clean up for corporate late.
Matrix: How To Choose Social Media Programs by Brand, Lifestyle, Product or Location
|What it is:||Benefits:||Drawbacks:||What no one tells you:|
|Brand||Companies often created their own Facebook/Twitter/Blog site focused on the company logo, brand, and corporate news. See early pioneer Direct2Dell, Sony Electronics Twitter, GM’s Fastlane Blog||On brand. One stop shop for all things related to the brand. Easy place to find company news, product announcements. Often, corporate teams can support an ongoing program||Less trusted. Will often lack engagement, personality, and as a result decreased trust. If brand doesn’t allow customers to talk to each other or self-express, it’s odd talking to a logo.||It’s important to set expectations on the type of communications that will happen, be sure to have a community policy in order to enforce. See Nestle’ case example|
|Lifestyle||Brands created lifestyle communities such as communities for Wells Fargo’s teen, Amex’s small business owners, or even by cultures like Asian Avenue or BlackPlanet||Staying power. By joining customers in the way they already self-organize you’re matching their existing needs –beyond your product push||Off message. Less control over the conversation which may extend beyond your brand and products and talk about what matters in their life. Product focused teams may not have right mindset ‘customer-first’ mindset.||First, find where they may already exist and consider joining. Create your own lifestyle deployment only to meet an unmet need. Often this is at the mouth of the marketing funnel.|
|Product||Building a Facebook, Blog or Twitter feed for a specific product or product line. See the Playstation blog, Doritos Facebook page,||Specific info. Meets the needs of the Product Marketing Manager to give tight information about a product||Granular and insular. Lack of customer focus and risk of investing in a community that could become irrelevant if the product reaches end of life. Lack of solution sell to lifestyle as consumer may want to purchase several products.||If your product has staying power and a thriving community around it (like Xbox, PS3) with sub products around it it may make sense. Consider this towards the bottom of the marketing funnel, or even customer support.|
|Location||Restaurants, hotels, and retail stores may want to create their own Facebook, MySpace, Yelp experience. Or specific regions may have different product sets and create their own communities to meet a unique culture. See Four Seasons Twitter index||Hyper targeted. Local markets may benefit from geo location marketing as location based social networks like GoWalla, FourSquare, MyTown, and Yelp grow. Provide unique local experience.||Lack of control. These individual pages may be setup by the managers daughter and lack true long term resources or ability to fend of sophisticated situations. Danger in these sites becoming abandoned over time, with no clear way to retire them without community backlash.||Likely, this is already happening. Get ahead of it and provide the right training, processes, and hotlines for these disparate groups to have autonomy –but within clear set of guardrails protecting your brand.|
How to Choose The Right Mix:
- First, be customer focused. Companies should first identify the social graphics of their customer base to understand where they are online. Secondly, they should understand their social behaviors, who influences them, and how they influence others. In most cases, customers have already assembled their own communities and analysis should be done on how to join them where they already are.
- For best results, use in combinations. Rarely is the world an ‘or’ but an ‘and’. Companies should know when to use these in an orchestrated combinations. Sophisticated social strategists are mapping all of their programs against marketing funnels to know which tool should be used during what customer phase.
- Think long term –not just by campaign. Don’t launch short term social efforts unless it’s just around a single event and the expectations are clearly set up front. Grown fans, followers, or subscribers is an investment that will cost you, so plan on doing this for the long term –not a short one-off campaign. Remember, in most cases, customer communities have been here before your brand was on the social web, and likely they will be here after your brand.
When you spend most of your career working on big brand PR you are forced to constantly question your ideas and those of your clients. The “So what?” factor applied to everything.
When you are surrounded by great, uncompromising and creative minds – the “So what?” question becomes an unforgiving tool that carves away at the “average”.
When really great brand-spanking-bowl-you-over ideas are generated, they make even asking the question “So what?” sound suddenly irrelevant. For example, with Cake’s unique screening of Titanic for Sky, re-naming of the fish Pollock to Colin for Sainsbury’s or Cold Beer Amnesty for Carling – a really great idea transcends the need to keep testing it with “So what?”.
The solution PR activity can provide brands, which differentiates it from other media routes, is that it can generate spine tingling human moments that will make individuals feel an immediate and then longer lasting affection for a brand. The feelings generated towards a brand through these moments can be comparable to what someone feels for their pet, car, family, bed, football team, favourite sporting event, most-loved film.
PR creates moments of connection – what Peter Brook calls “immediate or holy theatre“. Or should I say PR can do this. The truly creative agencies can generate these moments time and again, others may stumble upon them, others more often simply produce “deadly theatre”- in other words same old, same old.
PRs should ask themselves who they want to be, people who “answer the brief” or people who can create and envision moments that when they look back on their career they can say “some people will NEVER forget that moment” (and therefore also the brand elements at the heart of its generation).
Heineken have created a moment that simply from watching it on film I shall not forget. As for the people attending I’m sure they will be Heineken advocates for a long time to come. Wise and inventive use of Social Media can also make sure the long-tail effect of this activity is immense.
Heineken hats off to you."
Tiger Woods' first post-scandal tournament appearance is accompanied, naturally, by his first post-scandal Nike ad. Too soon?
To coincide with Tiger Woods' return to professional golf following, well, you know, Nike is running a TV commercial from Wieden + Kennedy Portland in which he is 'questioned' by the voice of his late father, Earl Woods. As Woods stares dolefully into the camera and flash bulbs light up his 'sad' face, Woods senior is heard to say 'I want to find out what your thinking was, I want to find out what your feelings are, and, did you learn anything?'
Nike has wheeled out one of its errant stars for a public apology before, of course. Remember this?
But there are distinct differences between the Woods ad and Cantona's. Despite initial outrage at Cantona's 'Kung-Fu kick' on a Crystal Palace fan who had been hurling abuse at him, public feeling quickly swung round in the Frenchman's favour. Hence his brazen non-apology.
Nike was also a very different company then. It was still riding its outsider status, purposefully backing controversial stars and not shying away from what that might entail.
But now Nike is no longer the brash new kid on the block. In Woods it chose not just the best sportsman of his generation but also one of the blandest - or so we thought. Now it has to deal with Bad Boy Woods the serial adulterer - not what it had in mind at all.
You can see the problems NIke and its agency must have wrestled with. Do they do nothing and be accused of abandoning one of their most expensive and prized assets, or do they come out and address the issue head-on?
For me, for Nike to be back running ads with Woods already just feels distasteful and plain wrong. It's too soon to start wheeling him out again as the corporate shill. Leave him be – he's got a lot of apologising to do and a commercial is probably not the best place to start doing it."
Advertising will always involve dramatisation. And it should. But if traditional, broadcast dramatisation was about ’showing’, then online dramatisation is about ‘using’. Like this: Alicia Keys using Monster.com to find a blogger.
This is a perfect example. A pedestrian product (by which I mean valuable in everyday life, rather than sensational) being used for its correct purpose but with an A-list twist. Makes total sense to me. I’m not sure this video CTA feels right though…
Part of the appeal of this campaign is the sense that the tools we use are being used for much more exciting purposes. The above video of Ms Keys will get views, but does it take something away from the core idea? I think it does a little – because the video appeal almost renders the use of Monster unnecessary. Nice stuff, amyway.
Read the full article over at Mashable."
Friday, 2 April 2010
Another week and another Facebook brand crisis. This time the brand that’s been hijacked is Tourism Australia and making matters worse, it’s been duped by arch rival Tourism New Zealand, according to Australian trade publication B&T.
Yesterday (April 1 down under) Tourism Australia launched a $150 (AUS) million advertising campaign called “There’s Nothing Like Australia” in which it aimed to tap into that whole user-generated content thing by inviting people to visit a dedicated microsite and “upload a photo of your most unique and memorable Aussie holiday experience.”
All very social I think you’ll agree, (even overlooking the fact that nearly every tourism authority does this type of campaign and no-one can upload anything until April 15). But Tourism Australia appeared to forget the first rule of social media marketing – you have to be where your social media community is rather than expect them to come to you. That left cheeky Tourism New Zealand to jump into the social void and establish a Twitter account titled “NothinglikeAus“, a similarly named Flickr account and a Facebook page called “Nothing like Australia… Welcome to New Zealand” which featured this message: “love from your friendly neighbours, New Zealand.”
Not to be outdone some other individual quickly set up a parody blog called Nothing Like Australia.net featuring spoof Tourism Australia ads, including one of the late Steve Irwin tangling with a crocodile while holding his baby accompanied by this tagline: “There’s nothing like taking your child to work.”
Within hours New Zealand’s prank was over. The Facebook page was removed, the Flickr accounts sits dormant while the Twitter account points back to Tourism Australia. On its own site Tourism New Zealand wrote: ‘‘So, April 1st is almost over… Thanks to Tourism Australia for having an great sense of humour. We’re looking forward to handing over this page to them real soon. Cheers to everyone for sharing the fun. ~ Love NZ,’’ the Sydney Morning Herald reported. The independent parody blog remains however.
Ultimately all this publicity may well be good for Tourism Australia but for the moment the war of the word of mouth seems to have been won by the Kiwis. As one Tweeter posted: “LOL-I’m actually enticed to visit New Zealand after their latest stunt.”"
There is so much going on in Search and Social Media that I thought I’d start to cherry pick stories which I find particularly interesting every month to share them with you. These are entirely my choice and I am in no way saying that others are of lesser interest! If there is a story which you think I should have included in this round-up, please let me know.
YouTube launched auto-captioning for videos
YouTube (owned by Google) launched “auto-captioning” earlier this month. Also called speech-to-text, auto-captioning “simply” makes it possible for speech in video to be transcribed into text. Auto-captioning has been trialled by Google since November 09 and has now been rolled out to everywhere.
The benefits of auto-captioning
The most obvious benefit you can think of is for the deaf and hard of hearing. Speech-to-text is a fantastic step towards making video content accessible to them.
But let’s go a bit further. As video content is more widely used every day in education and business training, auto-captioning is going to make it easier for users to search through a video for that exact footage they need to look at.
Last but not least, video captioning is going to make video content indexation by search engines possible. Since Google launched Universal Search we knew that videos were becoming very important, but with auto-captioning, videos are going to become as important as well optimised web pages!
However as auto-captioning is based on speech recognition, one can guess that it’s not a straightforward challenge to tackle. Recent experiments of auto-captioning have been posted on YouTube in the last weeks, and these are not too convincing. Some results are even plain hilarious..(check this one for example http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=l9NHag5JvrE)
Nonetheless, backed by universities such as Stanford, Berkeley and Columbia, I think the YouTube auto-captioning project is certainly one of the past month’s most exciting news items. Let’s just give it a bit more time.
Microsoft and Yahoo! given the green light to join forces
Okay, this is not exactly breaking news and was announced at the end of February, but is definitely worth mentioning in this round up.
The European Commission decided that Microsoft and Yahoo! could go ahead in joining forces to provide search services. In the same movement, the US Department of Justice approved of the deal, which it sees as good for competition in the market place. Not that we really expect this long-awaited “marriage” to switfly break Google dominance, but still Microsoft Bing and Yahoo! together represent over 10% of the search market in Europe. By this agreement Bing will now become Yahoo! search engine. As for advertising revenues, Yahoo! will keep content advertising revenues and Microsoft the pay per click ads on Bing.
Microsoft and Yahoo! should be completing their integration outside the US by the end of 2012.
Google pulls out of China
On March 23rd, Google announced it had moved its Chinese Search market operations to Hong Kong. This decision followed consistent disagreements with the Chinese authorities in the last few months over auto-censorship requirements, as well as alleged hacking into human right activists’ googlemail accounts in January. Google is still available to Chinese users, but now Google SERPS for “sensitive” searches are being censored directly (and thus openly) by Chinese firewalls.
Many find it strange, however, that it took Google over 3 years to decide that auto-censorship was no longer acceptable.
The other side of the story is that since it started its operations in China, Google has tried hard to make its mark on the Chinese search and paid search market, but not done so well. The last figures delivered by ComScore (November 2009) for the Chinese search market placed Google second with 15% market share behind the towering Chinese search engine, Baidu (71.3%). Google is also said to have been consistently operating with comparatively low margins in China.
Could there be more than ethical reasons for Google leaving China? Commercially speaking the winner will be Baidu, the Search Engine supported by the Chinese government, but politically speaking? With Google no longer practising auto-censorship, will the true nature of the Chinese democracy become absolutely obvious to at least 15% of Chinese Internet users?
Is Digg Re-inventing Social news sharing?
Digg, the social voting site launched in early 2005 is ranking content (articles, videos and images) based on the number of votes received. The site also offers selective access to content by categories (technology, business, science etc). The model worked great until mid-2007, but with the rise of new social sharing platforms such as Facebook, Youtube and Twitter, Digg lost momentum and was on the decline. But with the overhaul of the site announced on March 13th, will Digg make a strong come back whilst profoundly changing the social news sharing landscape?
The new Digg will be all about personalisation. At the moment we share content with our friends in different places. The idea behind the new Digg is to enable users to aggregate in one place all content recommended by the friends that they follow on Twitter and Facebook. Digg will also suggest content based on users’ location and interests.
Finally, the new Digg should become a major promotional platform for online publishers. The site will offer an array of posting and commenting possibilities which should potentially boost the number of users. Digg also plans to develop revenue share, analytics enabled, with online publishers.
Digg will roll out these changes in the next coming weeks and months. Content publishers keep an eye on Digg!
The other morning I was woken from my slumber by REM’s Shiny Happy People, provoking what can only be described as a Fred West style assault on the radio alarm clock.
Today the first words to enter my transom from the badly bruised and nervy alarm clock was a reminder that Chelsea had crashed out of the Champions League in front of their home fans. Slowly, but surely the alarm is working its way back into my good books.
There is nothing good about Chelsea Football Club nor its oafish fans and I should know. For most of my life I lived in Worcester Park which is a Chelsea stronghold, often tripping in the grooves in the pavement made by the years of knuckles dragging against the ground. In two pubs The Huntsman and the ghastly Tone’s, the latter decked out in memorabilia and the location for fan interviews in a feature length documentary about Chelsea, a bad word about ‘Wisey’ or Zola (Gianfranco not Emmanuel) could quite easily result in a glassing.
Yet where did they come from? They weren’t there when I was growing up in the 1980’s and Chelsea for much of that time weren’t even in the top division. Look carefully at their fat, bald or shaven sweaty heads. That isn’t dandruff you can see but filings from where they’ve emerged from the woodwork at the scent of money and success.
Chelsea weren’t even in contention before being fuelled and revved up by the billions of a Russian oligarch. Instead the Champions League has become something of an open wound that now festers with the failure of every season. With every departure from the tournament there is also recrimination usually directed at some refereeing decision and a UEFA or Sepp Blatter conspiracy. If truth be told there have even been times they have deserved to win the thing, on the cusp of doing so, only to throw it away spectacularly.
Level with Manchester Utd on penalites in Moscow, the fulfillment of that ambition and struggle seemed to come to ferment in the perfect scripted ending. Up stepped John Terry, Mr Chelsea, as he was known around Worcester Park, Cheam and the Kings Road, cut him, they say, and he bleeds blue (though that has most recently proven to be not blue but the murky green of greed, avarice and money – much of it the ‘hush’ variety) representative of all that is Chelsea and all that is ugly about football.
This was every football purists nightmare. The man Chelsea loved unquestionably was about to take the kick to win them their first ever Champions League in a moment the fans of CFC would treasure for the rest of their lives and the last thing they would see to make them smile on their mortal passing. This was about to be the defining moment of their lives.
He missed. He slipped, hit the post and fucking missed. Man Utd scored. Chelsea lost. Within seconds, without prior forethought, I was straight in the car roaring down to Tone’s in Cheam. There, as expected, were about 100 Chelsea fans sobbing into their pints and walking into walls, blue and white flags on the ground soaked in beer and spittle. I mingled. Felt their pain. Not dissimilar from when a killer joins in the search party knowing that there is no life to be found except for a grisly body. Sure enough it was only minutes before they started fighting amongst themselves and I left them to it with the sounds of howls, breaking glasware and recrimination in my wake.
Last year I caught the last minutes of the Chelsea – Barca semi-final poolside from Bellagio in Las Vegas. Having completely forgotten about the game, the heart sank at the scoreline. As the final seconds ticked away with Chelsea leading Barcelona 1-0 and having been denied in all probability two cast-iron penalities. Even in these opulent surroundings and 100 degree heat, I found myself dragged back to Cheam, to Tone’s and pictured the scene, just as I could see them signing and celebrating at Stamford Bridge. Chelsea weren’t just winning, they’d dominated and battered the best team in the world into submission. This year was, at last, going to be their year and we all had to brace ourselves.
And then up popped Andres Iniesta. Barcelona mustered one shot after 94 minutes of football. It flew into the top corner. Goal. Game over. Out Goodnight. She Who Loathed Football, sat in the sun in her bikini, glared at me disapprovingly over her mango prosecco as I pounded the bar with my fists. All I needed was a few more seconds of those uncomprehending, wounded, twisted pie-fed faces, the faces who’d been taunting and celebrating seconds before. Then I was done. Back to the pool, back to the sun and a fresh round of cocktails ordered, knowing that we can rejoice for another year.
Now they’ve not even made the semis. Not only taken apart and humbled at home in the first qualifying round, but at the hands of their own beloved ‘Special One’, Jose Mourinho and his Inter Milan side. ‘Mr Chelsea’ left the pitch, face snarling like a Rottweiler with a finger up its posterior, spewing bile and spitting feathers. Immediately followed the post-mortem, ingraciousness and high-pitched wailing of another UEFA conspiracy. The rest of the right-minded football world looked on from Shepherds Bush to the San Siro: shiny happy people."
Brandkarma is a new website that aims to 'help everyone make better brand choices and influence brand behaviour for good'...
Launched as a personal project by Publicis Mojo's Craig Davis, the website feeds in news stories about brands but essentially relies on the input of its users to rate how well brands are performing. Rankings from the perspectives of the customers of the company, employees, suppliers, investors, and of how the brand is performing environmentally are all featured.
These ratings (called 'doos' on the website) are then represented by 'karma flowers', offering a quick visual of what people are saying about each brand (Febreze's karma flower shown top). More detailed comments and news can then be read and shared with others via Facebook and Twitter etc. As users engage with the site they are also rewarded by travelling up a 'doo' ranking system.
Brandkarma needs the input of its users - if enough people engage with it, it can potentially become a powerful influence on brands' behaviour. However, the site can be a teensy bit confusing to new visitors, so the makers have created this handy guide explaining how to use it. Visit Brandkarma at brandkarma.com."
Google challenges people to ‘model their town’ using Google SketchUp, then uses the models on Google Earth. I believe this is what Adrian would call creating value streams for all parties. Smart.
Read more here"