So I'm at it again.
This time I'm at 33k feet just over Hudson Bay on my way to San Francisco. It's taken me 4.5 hours to get this far and 4.5 hours to fire up the MacBook Pro to write something. Truth is, Virgin have some good movies on at the moment!
Writing came second.
Click here to enlarge
It always has, that's because I'm not very good at it. Or at least I thought I wasn't, maybe I'm not, but now I enjoy it. The truth is saying your bad at writing is a cop out - we all have a good story to tell, a lesson to teach or a thought to share, let alone a shoulder to offer - and sharing should be an enjoyment.
Writing has never been my strong point, it's not that I didn't want to it's just that English, in the written word, does not come naturally to me. At school I devoured English literature, being forced to read the classics such as Chaucer, Milton and of course Shakespeare was not a chore. Writing about them was.
Most of the time I was chastised for "getting it wrong" (public school can sometimes be a poor teacher). Therefore, I carried the "scar" of writing chastity into adulthood - and I'm not sure I'm alone there.
In this world of online, being able to write is very important, if you don't then no-one will know you or your thoughts. No one will be able to benefit from your expertise. No one will benefit from you.
And we need to. We need you to lead us.
Being chastised by the thoughts of "I have bad English" or "I don't know what to write about'' is silly - really. Spell check and grammar check will take care of the former (even if it is Microsoft English), but it's the latter that I want to talk about.
Don't get me wrong story telling is not easy, but then again anything creative is not easy. There are many ways of writing styles and many different ways of getting your message, question, or information across. However, I always favoured getting my message across using something around me that most of us will know and see/undersatand and "weave" it into a story.
Take for example "The Whitby Goth Festival". Last year Vanessa and I spent the day in Whitby (North Yorkshire) and managed to "blunder" our way into The Goth festival (well it was Halloween). What a brilliant day, Victoriana in it's finest.
My point is this. The Whitby Goth Festival has been running for 18 years now and is one of the finest examples of a "social network" you could ever find. So all I did was take the "whim and Fancy" of the festival and turn it into a story about the importance of a social network. More importantly why we all need them and use them all the time every time.
We all herd, we all like to be part of a group, whether that be "Goth", "LinkedIn", Ecademy" or a social forum - it could even be the local pub, but we all do it. The Goth festival, to me, was an opportunity to express that need to exist in a social group.
Here's another example: I wanted to express my views on how to use, and not, the social web. So I chose Peter Andre and Katie Price (Jordan). Quite easy really she was me, me, me and he was share, share, share, it was obvious by their twitter pages.
So by taking a contemporary story I managed to "weave" another message about my views on the social web.
But don't get me wrong, I don't know if what I'm doing is right, I just know it helps me get over the barrier of "I don't know what to write" or in what manner.
I think all of us know what we want to write, I think some of the problems lay in not knowing how to express ourselves.
OK so try this one on then.
My background is in Art. I trained in it for 5 years, being qualified in fashion design at the end (OK so I didn't want to be a fashion designer, it was the design aspect that got me - ironically enough I ended up designing racing cars for quite a few years and the discipline/s between the two are very close) I digress.
Part of my training was in "life drawing" and, for this discipline, "still life drawing". I had a fantastic teacher, Philip Graves-Morris, and one of his methods was to take something like a red cabbage, wrap it in newspaper and "throw it against a wall". Paint that, as it lay, as it tumbled.
In other words what we we're painting was not contrived, it was unexpected and you had no pre conceived idea how to do it or what the outcome might be.
For me, in writing, this training has been invaluable. No, I don't throw cabbages around, but metaphorically I do. Both the Goth festival and the twitter story were "red cabbages".
I could have chosen to write about "social groups" or "the social web" in a formal manner. But formal has no "purple cow" as Seth Godin would say.
The correct structure of the written word still eludes me, I have no skill in that department (praise be to speel chock:)). What I do know is, whilst dealing with the social web what and how we write dictate who we are. Some people get anxious, some people panic - you don't need to, not all of us we're born Oscar Wilde. Some people have to write in a formal manner (dissertation) and that's OK, but for those of you out there who do get anxious, try a different way.
I can write but I'll never be Hemingway, I can paint but I'll never be Warhol - but I will never stop trying, I will never stop testing - and you shouldn't either. For those of you who feel chastised when blogging, and in the immortal words of Monty Python, "stop that it's silly".
Writing is like painting, we can all use a pen or a keyboard or even a brush, but good writing takes practise, no different to painting.
Try taking your idea wrapping it up, throwing it against a wall and write about it as it lay. Guess what, some of what you do will end up being a "dogs dinner", but hey you should have seen my paintings! Who cares every now and again something great will come out, and that something great will gain you experience.
I know some of what I say goes against the "plan, plan, plan" method of writing and I'm sure there are better skilled people out there that can advise on writing way better than me and you should listen to them. Structure and planning is good, it works - but sometimes that little maverick streak that we all have should shine.
After all we all have something we believe in and I want to read it.
In this, the fifth blog in my series on Social Media Misconceptions, I deal with the misconception that social media is all about you.
I would like to dedicate this blog to Thomas and Penny Power. Last night, several hundred of us celebrated ecademy's 12th birthday in London. Thomas and Penny would have been well within their rights to talk about all their achievements. However, they chose to celebrate *us*, the ecademy community. They played a wonderful slide show of pictures of all the people who make this such a great place to be part of. Thomas and Penny lead by example. Congratulations to the whole ecademy team for 12 fantastic years!
On with the blog:
It seems that many people struggle to understand the difference between self-promotion and self-publication. To my mind, the former is Web 1.0 mentality, while the latter is Web 2.0 mentality.
In a recent ecademy blog, Steve Holmes wrote: "I think we all appreciate that the explosion of what used to be called "vanity publishing" that has been unleashed by the internet has now reached the proportions of a flood with some people relentlessly releasing essentially meaningless and unnecessary Google fodder at their cute little "blog" sites day in day out like clockwork."
I think Steve is referring to those people who self-promote, and he has a valid point.
However, self-publication is a different beast and it is important to understand the distinction.
Self-publication shouldn't always be "me, me, me"!
In a recent article, "There's no "you" in Twitter", in the Times On-line, reporter Murad Ahmed, suggested that to get ahead with social media, you need to stop talking about yourself:
"This logic, to which many already adhere in the real world, is also becoming a rule when it comes to social networking on the web. Twitter seems like a medium dominated by narcissists and self-promoters, informing the public about their every waking thought. But research shows that the most popular "tweeters" are those who rarely speak about themselves.
A study undertaken by Dan Zarrella, a social media analyst and consultant based in Boston in the US, examined the language used by more than 60,000 Twitter users. He has developed a computer system called Tweetpsych, which can analyse the types of words used by people on social networking sites.
In his most recent study, Mr Zarrella looked at all the instances that Twitter users wrote self-referential words, such as "I", as well as more "inclusive" words such as "you" or "we". He found that the most self-referential Twitter users tended to have the fewest followers. Conversely, people who used more inclusive language tended to have more followers.
"No one wants to go to a cocktail party and hang out with the guy who's talking about themselves all night," Mr Zarrella said."
In his recent ecademy blog, "In social media, size matters", Nic Oliver wrote: "I took the blogs of 8 of the top Social Media Bloggers and looked at their percentage use of "I", "We", "You" and "They". In each case, I collected at least 5,000 words, which for most equates to between 6 and 8 articles. I know it's not a very large sample of writers or words, but I wanted to see if any patterns emerged. And they did!".
Nic concluded that that the top bloggers use the word "you" more often than "me" or "We/Our".
In my blog: "Twitter Wars: Katie Price vs. Peter Andre", I had a look at how the battling couple used their twitter accounts and how they were a reflection of their personalities. Ms. Price's account was all "me, me, me", while Mr. Andre's was all about the fans, including him replying to individual questions. I think I know which method will gain the most traction and create more loyalty.
This takes me back to the pub analogy I used in my previous blog. In a social situation, people prefer to interact with the person who is engaged with the group, who listens, and who shows an interest in others. The person who talks about themselves all the time (like Katie Price) is about as popular as a rattlesnake in a lucky dip!
On my training day, "How to implement a social media strategy for your business", I have a whole module devoted to how to listen first on-line, before jumping in. This module explains how to use different tools to monitor on-line conversations and therefore understand what matters to people, the sentiment of the group, and where you can offer support to others.
I explain why big numbers alone will not achieve success, but why having large numbers of people who choose to listen is the way to leverage this new technology.
The key word here is influence.. Become an influencer "through the killer app of friendship" to quote Thomas Power.
My tips for taking your first steps on-line are all geared around supporting others, and not trumpeting about yourself. These include:
- commenting on other people's blogs
- offering to connect people who may be able to help each other
- performing random acts of kindness on-line to help others
- answering people's questions
- being social and supportive and interested in what others are doing/saying.
Thank you for reading this blog. I hope you have got value from it. If so, you may be interested in attending some of my upcoming events:
On Friday 12th March, I'm running another of my ground-breaking "How to implement a social media strategy for your business" training days. This training will help you kick-start your social media engagement in 2010, and save you a huge amount of time from doing non-productive activities. Full details >>> here.
On 20th March, due to the previous event now being fully booked, I am running an additional "How to create great web video content" training day. This does what it says on the tin, but each delegate will walk away with a professionally shot video for their own use. Details >>>> here.
However you decide to leverage the social web, make sure that you follow the three golden rules of leadership, authenticity, and consistency, as advocated by Seth Godin.
If you have any misconceptions about using social media, then please have a look at my series of blogs:
I don't have time
I have profiles on all the main sites/platforms, so I'm using social media
Social media is a fad.
All businesses can benefit from social media marketing.
This is my fourth in a series of blogs about Social Media misconceptions.
I think it is true to say that not all businesses can benefit from social media especially if they think of it as just another marketing channel.
Neither is social media a panacea for businesses who are struggling with their marketing or a poor brand awareness or image.
A poor social media strategy implemented without any thought as to how to align it to your business goals could actually have a negative impact on your business.
So it is important to understand the social aspect of the web and think about how your business can be part of the on-line conversations. By their very nature, conversations are two-way dialogues, and involve a level of engagement.
Traditionally, marketing has been a one-way broadcast where companies bought attention with big budgets. Now it has to be adapted to fit a new model where attention cannot be paid for (SEO, PPC, Google Ad Words), it has to be earned.
And the secret to earning attention? Simple: great content is a big factor. But it is not the be all and end all.
You have to be in the conversation. You have to be "present".
Co-Chairman Alex Bogusky of Crispin Porter & Bogusky summed it up when he stated: "You can't buy attention anymore. Having a huge budget doesn't mean anything in social media…The old media paradigm was PAY to play. Now you get back what you authentically put in. You've got to be willing to PLAY to play."
Attention is a scarce commodity in this on-line world where we are literally deluged with information from all quarters - text, video, audio, pictures - the torrent of information is mind-blowing. How do companies overcome this?
I like to draw an analogy with a pub to explain this.
Imagine a local pub as a metaphor for the social web. There are a group of people who all know each other all chatting away and sharing information.
An unknown person walks in with a bullhorn and shouts "Hey there, I've got the latest product you need".
I think you can imagine the reaction and it would not be a favourable one!
However, if someone walked into the pub, introduced themselves, and got to know the people in the community, then, after a time, they would be accepted as part of the community. If they then listened to the community, they would get to know what products and services the community actually wanted. They would then empowered to influence the community and help them find their way to their products and services.
Successful social media engagement by companies exchanges marketing for find-ability and influence. Enhanced business transactions will be a by-product of that, but should not be the primary focus. All companies must learn to listen first before presenting their business message. That is why blasting out your latest PR release is a complete waste of time. A one-way twitter stream of your marketing messages is also pretty pointless. Your influence on the conversation will be minimal at best and derogatory at worst as people will associate your business with "spamming". Hit and run posting on forums is another common mistake. I call it "chum and run" as it is so obviously a marketing exercise with no interest in listening to the customer or engaging with the community.
If someone has commented on your blog or replied to your tweet, they are paying with their attention. Whilst not being a monetary transaction, that attention must be acknowledged and the relationship built on in order to convert the attention to an action - whether that be clicking through to your website or buying your product or talking about your product/service with someone else (advocacy).
Software company Genius.com reports that 24% of its social media leads convert to sales opportunities.
Socialnomics blogger, Eric Qualman, said: "The good companies know that social media has to be integrated into everything that they do - it is a part of their overall strategy since it touches every facet of the business."
So, unless you are committed to joining the conversation and buying a round of drinks at the bar, then The Social Media is probably not your kind of pub.
Thank you for reading my blog. If you have got value from it, then I hope you will consider joining me at one of my upcoming events:
Our next property/social media networking event is taking place at the Holiday Inn, Guildford, on 23rd February. I will be presenting a new talk entitled "Business blogging mistakes and how to avoid them". You can find the full details >>> here.
On 6th March, I will be running a brand new training day called "How to create great web video content". Each delegate will walk away with a professionally shot video to use on their website, blog, or wherever they choose.
On the 12th March, I will be running my ground-breaking course "How to implement a social media strategy for your business" which was sold out this past weekend. Full details >>>> here.
You can read my previous Social Media Misconceptions blogs >>> here.
It is no secret that we live in an age of “information overload”. With more material being loaded onto the web in one day than someone would have been exposed to in an entire lifetime 500 years ago, there can be no doubt that we are entering the era of the “attention economy”.
The explosion of new types of information online can be seen as a blessing and a curse. We both enjoy and drown in news, blogs, tweets, podcasts, photos, videos and interesting FaceBook pages. And the problem is only going to get worse, as more and more people discover the social web and start adding to it.
Therefore, human attention is now a scarce commodity, and, as business owners, we need to understand how to earn it. This involves being in the “attention marketplace”, being relevant, being up-to-date, and providing consumers with something valuable in exchange for their attention. This will keep them coming back for more.
Self-publication on the web allows us to create visibility and credibility, but this will only lead to profitability if our content stands out from the “noise”.
This training day is all about empowering you to create compelling web content, using the medium of video.
As a former BBC cameraman, this is a subject close to my heart and I have a lot of specialist insights to share with you.
This training day will show you how your compelling video content can help you become a thought provoker, communicator, and connector on the web so that you stand out from the crowd.
As this training course is all about content, I will also be including the filming of a professional video blog or website introduction included in the price of the course. This will include coaching from a former TV presenter on how to present yourself on-camera to the best of your ability.
Most people charge a minimum of £300.00 for a professionally shot video (when taking into account a professional set up, equipment, editing, and being hosted on a professional platform).
Therefore, at £399, including the training AND your video to take away with you, this training day represents excellent value for money.
As I will be focussing a lot of individual attention on delegates, there are only eight places on this course.
Please book early to avoid disappointment.
Next course date: Friday 6th March
Our next property/social media networking event is scheduled for Tuesday 23rd February 2010 from 6.30pm – 9.30pm
Venue: Onslow suite, The Holiday Inn, Egerton Rd, Guildford, Surrey, GU2 7XU - MAP
£10 in advance (if you signal your attendance here). £15.00 on the door.
This month's presentation is titled: "Business blogging mistakes and how to avoid them".
This month, I will be helping you increase your knowledge of how to create a compelling and content rich blog that stands out from the crowd and helps you become known as an expert in your industry.
It is widely believed that, in order to be considered an authority in whatever you do, it is vital to have a long running and popular blog.
I will show you how tonight and give you some pointers as to thinking laterally to create compelling content that earns reader’s continued attention.
Our event is attended by committed property and business professionals who all believe in networking for success, sharing information, and being supportive of others. We are a friendly bunch and everyone is welcome!
18.30 Registration and early bird networking
19.00 Start of presentation.
21.00 Q and A session and networking to end.
I look forward to welcoming you to the event and supporting you in your business endeavours.
Nick Tadd is a web brand auditor, strategist, thought provoker, communicator and connector.
Social media misconceptions 3 : Social media is a fad
In this, the third blog in my series on Social Media Misconceptions, I deal with the misconception that social media is a fad.
Let's understand the definition of the word "fad": A fashion that is taken up with great enthusiasm for a brief period of time; a craze.
On that basis alone, the misconception is blown out of the water. Because social media has been around for at least 15,000 years - from when the first cave man painted some drawings on a cave wall to explain which animals were important to his life!
You see, social media is simply the social sharing of information through media! People have been doing that for centuries. The media might have changed over the years - from cave paintings, to papyrus, to stone tablets, to books, to radio, to newspapers, to TV and now we have the web. Instead of using your vocal cords, a chisel, a paintbrush, or a pen to share information, you now have the ability to share it via your keyboard by self-publication on-line.
However, unlike these previous media, the web allows you to leverage and aggregate on-line technologies to spread your messages like never before in the history of man! Most of these on-line tools are free to use, meaning you don't have to have a budget of £thousands, like you would need to produce and air a TV commercial for instance.
There are 31 billion searches on google each month and the web is impacting on every aspect of our lives. We currently know that 25% of all web user-generated content is in respect of products and services, and this is growing.
~ Informal conversation is probably the oldest mechanism by which opinions on products and brands are developed, expressed, and spread. ~ Johan Arndt
When I bought my new Audi, I searched on the web for "Audi A5 reviews". The first two or three listings were Audi, which I ignored. The rest were peer review and these are the ones I took notice of. There is a whole new business exposure channel opening up. It's called Customer to Customer, or Community to Community. If you are not visible in these networks, then you simply won't have relevance to the people searching for your product and/or service.
We've discussed the "media", now let's focus on the "social" part.
~ More business decisions occur over lunch and dinner than at any other time, yet no MBA courses are given on the subject. ~ Peter Drucker
In other words, if you think about it, people have always done business in a social environment with people they know, like, and, most importantly, trust. Where there is trust, business happens.
If you are still in any doubt as to whether social media is something you should be engaged with, then have a look at these statistics from the excellent Socialnomics Social Media Blog:
1. By 2010 Gen Y will outnumber Baby Boomers….96% of them have joined a social network
2. Social Media has overtaken porn as the #1 activity on the Web
3. 1 out of 8 couples married in the U.S. last year met via social media
4. Years to Reach 50 millions Users: Radio (38 Years), TV (13 Years), Internet (4 Years), iPod (3 Years)…Facebook added 100 million users in less than 9 months…iPhone applications hit 1 billion in 9 months.
5. If Facebook were a country it would be the world's 4th largest between the United States and Indonesia (note that Facebook is now creeping up - recently announced 300 million users)
6. Yet, some sources say China's QZone is larger with over 300 million using their services (Facebook's ban in China plays into this)
7. comScore indicates that Russia has the most engage social media audience with visitors spending 6.6 hours and viewing 1,307 pages per visitor per month - Vkontakte.ru is the #1 social network
8. 2009 US Department of Education study revealed that on average, online students out performed those receiving face-to-face instruction
9. 1 in 6 higher education students are enrolled in online curriculum
10. % of companies using LinkedIn as a primary tool to find employees….80%
11. The fastest growing segment on Facebook is 55-65 year-old females
12. Ashton Kutcher and Ellen Degeneres (combined) have more Twitter followers than the population of Ireland, Norway, or Panama. Note I have adjusted the language here after someone pointed out the way it is phrased in the video was difficult to determine if it was combined.
13. 80% of Twitter usage is outside of Twitter…people update anywhere, anytime…imagine what that means for bad customer experiences?
14. Generation Y and Z consider e-mail passé…In 2009 Boston College stopped distributing e-mail addresses to incoming freshmen
15. What happens in Vegas stays on YouTube, Flickr, Twitter, Facebook…
16. The #2 largest search engine in the world is YouTube
17. Wikipedia has over 13 million articles…some studies show it's more accurate than Encyclopedia Britannica…78% of these articles are non-English
18. There are over 200,000,000 Blogs
19. 54% = Number of bloggers who post content or tweet daily
20. Because of the speed in which social media enables communication, word of mouth now becomes world of mouth
21. If you were paid a $1 for every time an article was posted on Wikipedia you would earn $156.23 per hour
22. Facebook USERS translated the site from English to Spanish via a Wiki in less than 4 weeks and cost Facebook $0
23. 25% of search results for the World's Top 20 largest brands are links to user-generated content
24. 34% of bloggers post opinions about products & brands
25. People care more about how their social graph ranks products and services than how Google ranks them
26. 78% of consumers trust peer recommendations
27. Only 14% trust advertisements
28. Only 18% of traditional TV campaigns generate a positive ROI
29. 90% of people that can TiVo ads do
30. Hulu has grown from 63 million total streams in April 2008 to 373 million in April 2009
31. 25% of Americans in the past month said they watched a short video…on their phone
32. According to Jeff Bezos 35% of book sales on Amazon are for the Kindle when available
33. 24 of the 25 largest newspapers are experiencing record declines in circulation because we no longer search for the news, the news finds us.
34. In the near future we will no longer search for products and services they will find us via social media
35. More than 1.5 million pieces of content (web links, news stories, blog posts, notes, photos, etc.) are shared on Facebook…daily.
36. Successful companies in social media act more like Dale Carnegie and less like David Ogilvy Listening first, selling second
37. Successful companies in social media act more like party planners, aggregators, and content providers than traditional advertiser.
On-line social media will never take the place of meeting face to face, or picking up the phone, or attending a networking event. However, it does allow people to get to know you and trust you through your consistent content ... and, if they do, it will be them picking up the phone to speak to you!
If you have found this blog of interest, then you may like to have a look at my training day, taking place this Saturday in Guildford. It is titled "How to implement a social media strategy for your business". Please click >>> here.
I would like to take this opportunity to thank Michael Oon for his wonderful and generous testimonial about by training days: Why do I keep attending courses led by Nick Tadd? This is social media in action!