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11 posts from April 2010

April 29, 2010

"What would Google do?" Quick book review.

Quick review. I've just finished reading (or listening to) "What would Google do" by Jeff Jarvis. (HarperCollins, on January 27, 2009).

It's been on my reading list for a year now and I've only just got around to getting it read.

I'm glad I did. 


He give a very concise image of where Google has come from and, more importantly, what we can learn from it.

Google has taught us that they are good at organising searches. This, in turn, tells of a different method that we and/or businesses can be indexed and found. It also delivers a different method of use for our businesses.

In the book Jeff explains how he has and would "Googlefy" businesses. This is well worth knowing as it gets your head thinking in the different way of how you may "Googlefy" your business.

Being as though the "social web" is not going away and it delivers a completely different method to bring yourself and/or your business to market, this book is well worth the read.

Theses are Jeff's words on the book:

"My book, What Would Google Do?, will be released by Collins Business, a division of HarperCollins, on January 27, 2009. The idea: I try to reverse-engineer the success of the fastest growing company in the history of the world, the one company that truly understands how to succeed in the internet age, and then take those lessons and apply them to a number of industries, companies, and institutions, from carmakers to restaurants to universities to government."

You can buy the book from Amazon here.

Or get the audiobook here or simply search on iTunes..

Regards N  


April 28, 2010

Africa gathering - Washington 23-24th April 2010 #agdc #omidyar

_MG_1744, originally uploaded by ralston smith.

Just a quick line to point out the photo pool from the Africa Gathering in Washington this weekend just gone.

Well worth the visit and well worth the effort of getting involved.

Click here to see more pics.


April 24, 2010

Social media metrics for the Africa Gathering, Washington - #agdc #omidyar

The Africa Gathering - Washington DC 23-4-10

OK so here's some metrics from last night 23-4-10 between 6pm-9.30pm (Washington DC).

There are some very "deep" metrics I can draw from, but to keep it simple the pics below should illustrate the good effort from all the participant/s last night.

At one point we we're approaching 200k media impressions - that's brilliant. Now those impressions are there in perpetuity, they can be found and that, in turn, will give connected-ness - the vital link in all this.

We're seeing connections coming from Africa and around the world joining in the conversation, but we need to see more.

The reason we're seeing this increase is due to your effort/s last night - your voice is being heard, your message is been engaged - connections now have a chance of happening.

Lets have another good day today.

And for all of you reading this that are not part of The Africa Gathering, you can help. You can help us raise the bar by sharing all the tweets and blogs and v-logs coming out of Washington today.

Thank you.


Map overlay 23-4-10

Demographics 23-4-10

Share of voice 23-4-10

Share of voice 2 23-4-10

Regards N          

April 23, 2010

Why am I at the @AfricaGathering in Washington, DC ... and why I need your help - #agdc #omidyar

OK, so this time I'm flying at 35K feet, and despite the ash cloud, I'm over the Atlantic on my way to Washington, DC to be part of the team at The Africa Gathering.

Why am I doing this … ?  Let me explain, but ...

Firstly, let me tell you about AG (Africa Gathering).  It was started 1 year ago (with its first anniversary this Saturday 24th April) by Edward Scotcher (@chiefmoamba).   His intention was to bring people together who have a passion to help Africa, at all levels.  He saw the benefits of giving them a place to share, grow and develop their ideas.

Quite a simple idea, but most of the best ones always are.

The first "gathering" was in London (Birkbeck College, Uni of London) a year ago and Ed was expecting the turn out to be 10 or 20 people max.  However what happened was quite amazing:  over 120 people turned out!

What Ed realised is that there was no singularity for people to share their ideas about celebrating African ingenuity.  Moreover, bearing in mind most of the best ideas to help Africa come from Africa, there was no on-line community that could support this need as well.

What Ed spotted, and what clearly was needed, was one place where people could go to share their ideas.
Africa Gathering was born.

Since then, Ed formed a partnership with Marieme Jamme (@mjamme).  They both have the same hopes for Africa and Africans.

The first event was a "proof of concept" and so now onto the second.

October 2009 was my first outing for AG.  It was a two day event, the first day bringing in businesses to network and see opportunity in the fold. The second day provided a "showcase" for some amazing people who are making brilliant and significant positive changes in Africa.

The day was "topped off" by a visit from Emmanuel Jal who told us of his story from being a boy soldier to the quite incredible man he is today and his struggle to bring quality education to the youth of Africa. Something that he himself never had.

His story had a profound effect on me personally and inspired me more than just about anything I have ever heard before.   The stories I listened to that day … well, let’s say I was proud, very humbled to be able to "do my bit" for all these people that are making a difference and who show such incredible leadership.

And it's still going.  December 09 saw AG in Nairobi, May 10 - Paris, July  - London - but here, right now Washington DC.

The billing for this event is as strong as ever.  The speakers will be none the less as inspiring and AG is on a roll.  Even at one year old AG is making a difference to Africa.

A baby making big steps!

And this is why I need your help to help them - all the people involved in AG need your help.
You see, we need all this effort to get "passed around" the web. We need the "noise level" to be turned up to "11".  Without this the journey will take longer.

My role in AG is to monitor what is happening on the web, and so far what I've seen is great.  Presently,  I can see very little "noise" coming out of Africa, but it's growing, and I can see some prominent people in Africa starting to flex their muscles on the web.

And there is a reason for this - it's YOU.   Because you are "sharing" and writing, they are beginning to see this - and because of this, they're getting more enthusiastic about the web and its potential to facilitate positive change in Africa.

The best ideas about Africa are born in Africa.  Ed had the idea to give those ideas a voice through AG.   Both the on-line and off-line events will make these ideas happen - and they will …. because they already are.

We could do so much more if you could help us. This weekend we will be sharing a whole host of media to the web, from Twitter to YouTube.   Can you help me/us/Africa by sharing this media out?

You never know, there could be someone somewhere with the key to a great idea.   There could be a connection - but without you delivering the connected(ness) some of them may never know.  You really can make a difference.  A small ripple can amplify into a tidal wave on the social web.  Can you play your part in creating a digital swell?

Thank you for taking the time to read this.  It’s a privilege to be here this weekend and I'm going to enjoy myself and share it all.   You can follow Africa Gathering on Twitter @africagathering and the #agdc hashtag.

African proverb:  Your success is my success.

Regards N

April 19, 2010

Who owns Community?

This blog, about building community, has been inspired by two scenarios:
  1. Today I received an email inviting me to an event where I would learn how to earn £millions by creating great marketing copy to get people to “subscribe” to things.  A case study used was a new property forum, where people were marketed to via a free webinar where the up-sell was to a new membership forum.
  2. Rupert Murdoch apparently asked Mark Zuckerberg (founder of FaceBook) how to build a great community like FB, and Mark Zuckerberg replied “You can’t”.

You see, what I have learned from founding the Property Tribes forum, is that you cannot build a community.  Why?  Because it’s already there - you can't build anything that was not yours in the first place.

Photo courtesy of officailpsds.com

What you can do, however, is provide a platform and facilitate people using the site to have an enjoyable and rewarding experience.  You can help them feel connected, you can help them feel valued, you can help them learn, you can help them feel that they “belong”, you can provide a space where they feel comfortable and among friends.  Then let them run with it.  Let them make the community what they want it to be, not what you want it to be.

What you can do is enable a community to organise itself.
Getting people to pay to join a site will not build a sustainable community - you will have tumbleweed blowing through it in no time at all. However, they may want to pay to have a method to organise themselves.
A membership/subscription site means that no one can look at the site without paying to join - barriers to entry will not help build community.  In fact, I believe they will stifle it.
A subscription/membership site also excludes a lot of people.  I think it is fundamental to build a platform for others to play in. Not just your users, but for people who want to reach your users.  Open, random, and supportive encourages community.  Closed, selective, and controlling will suffocate it.
I do not believe that anyone can “own” a community.  I don't think you ever could, but today in the land of the web you most definitely can't.
As Property Tribes has grown, we have taken a step back from it.  Yes, we set the tone, stimulated the initial discussions to help get the ball rolling, and drop in every now and then to support and encourage our members and let them know we value their contributions, but that is where it stops.

Now I'm more focussed on giving them what they want.
In his recent blog, “The tribe of normal”, Seth Godin shared this insight:

“People don't coalesce into active and committed tribes around the status quo.
The only vibrant tribes in our communities are the ones closer the edges, or those trying to make change. The center is large, but it's not connected.

Heretical thoughts, delivered in a way that capture the attention of the minority--that's the path that works”.

What Vanessa and I have tried to do is make Property Tribes stand for ethical and transparent business practices and treating property investment as a business, not a “get rich quick” scheme.  This is definitely a minority view, but it has gradually gained traction and now it has become one of the busiest property forums in the U.K

If a site has a huge amount of new members joining, but they do not feel like they “care” about the site, or “own” it, or do not engage with it, then all it has become is a database of people who have no loyalty to the site.  It’s just another profile on another forum.  It’s akin to replying to a party invite but not turning up to the party.

A forum designed to aggregate audiences to that you can sell to them is also destined to fail.  “The end result of spam (email spam, blog spam, Twitter spam, comment spam, phone spam, politician spam) is that it eats away at your brand. If you don't have a brand, you might make some short term cash but it gets tiresome creating annoyance everywhere you go. If you do have a brand, you don't notice the brand erosion... until it's too late”. ~ Seth Godin

What will work, however, is a community where people are supported in being more successful in what they are doing.  If they become more successful as a result of their contributions to the community, then the founders of the community will become more successful as a by-product of that.  Allowing people to leverage the network for their own visibility and credibility is key to their success and our success!

One of the by-products of the success of the Property Tribes community is that I have been able to watch and learn from the community, therefore, now I can see what they want.

There is the short-term way and the sustainable way to build community.  One erodes your brand, the other empowers it.

We formed the Property Tribes forum as a resource for the community, not ourselves.  We recognised that none of us is as smart as all of us.  We recognise that we are nothing without the people who “fuel” the forum hourly with their contributions and content.  Without the community, it’s just another one of a thousand sites with no activity on it.

Conclusion:  You cannot buy community and you cannot sell community.  If you are creating all the content yourself, and asking people to subscribe to that content, then that is a completely different business model and will not create community.  It’s also very hard work and time-consuming.

There is community there, it's always been there and you will never own it.

What you can create is a great venue for people to congregate and get to know each other.  Then leave the rest up to them.  User generated content is the secret to a successful community.  How you monetise that is another matter.  Community comes first.  Without it, you have nothing more than an expensive echo-chamber for your own opinions - this is self evident from the lack of "action" on certain forums.

Google is successful because it allowed us to organise our searches. LinkedIn is good because it allowed us to organise our business contacts and shuffle CV's. Facebook is good because it allows us to organise our friends. Twitter works because it allows us to organise our conversations. Amazon organises our purchasing, YouTube our Video and Flickr our pictures.

Question: How are you helping people organise themselves - or are you?

My top tips for building community:
  1. Engage.
  2. Contribute.
  3. Pay attention.
  4. Let the community know they are valued.
  5. Connect people to each other.
  6. It's about them, not you.
  7. Share.
  8. Don’t try and compete with your members.
  9. Be social.
  10. Be a friend.  Care.
  11. Don’t police or “moderate” the forum unless absolutely necessary.  The community will do that in their own way.
  12. Facilitate trust within the community.
  13. Understand that a community cannot be all things to all people.
  14. Celebrate the heroes in the community.
  15. Try and lead by example.
  16. Show respect.
  17. Believe in,  and encourage,  the wisdom of crowds.
  18. Enjoy it.
  19. Never stop trying to make it a better place for a community to organise itself - what ever your niche

What tips might you have?

Regards N  


April 15, 2010

Why some social networks may fail.


If you own a forum or a social networking site, is it prudent to give it a free rein, rather than trying to “run” it?

I co-founded the Property Tribes forum in April 2009 and we have just celebrated out 1,000th member joining.  It is an extremely active community, up-dating hourly. 

In my case, I have used the model "it's not mine, it belongs to the community”.    All I have to done is give them what they want, not what I wanted them to have. 

My reason for asking is I see forum and network owners around me that seem to be interfering, controlling, or policing all the time. 

Is this an ego thing?


You don't see the owners of twitter interfering , nor do you see the owners of LinkedIn  getting involved.  Facebook have had their moments but again that was due to interfering.

So, on one hand, starting a social network or forum needs your attention at the beginning to “drive” it.  But on the other it would appear prudent to leave it alone when it gains traction and just focus on making your users have a good interaction with what you have built, and each other.

I have learned by watching and partaking that any site which is owned by me cannot be run by me.  In fact, I feel uncomfortable with even using the word “owned” because, without the community, I own nothing, and I cannot own them.

However, the one thing I can do is lead by example and support my community members in being successful at what they do.  I can also make them feel valued for their contributions, because, without their contributions, I have nothing.

Trying to control a social network is a very dated view IMHO (closed, controlling and selective).   Being an ego on a network is of equal silliness, not only does it paint the owner as an idiot, it destroys any form of "loyalty" the forum had in the first place.

I was looking at Quantcast the other day and put in the search term for a "popular" social network - in fact I put in a few - and the results were quite clear. Some of them are in decline and I would argue that it's because the owners interfere and control the site users!Anyone can own or start a network/forum.  There are a myriad of free sites to choose from. 

However, it’s another matter to facilitate a vibrant community that generates itself.  Ego should definitely be left out of the mix.

What do you think?


April 12, 2010

99% of your competitors are not aware this capability exists ... yet ... (@foursquare)

I have a confession to make.

I've become rather addicted to
FourSquare lately.

FourSquare is a recent addition to a number of social sites that facilitate "life streaming", or, as I like to call it, "lifestyle web impressions".


Wiki describes it as thus: "Foursquare is a location-based social networking website, software for mobile devices, and game. Users "check-in" at venues using text messaging or a device specific application.  They are then awarded points and sometimes "badges."

However, having played around with FourSquare I see it as much more than just a game. It has the potential to become a serious business tool.

Mark Krynsky, in his
recent LifeStream blog, shared this important insight:

"The act of performing a "checkin" is an important gesture that is a universal action that will we be applied to many services over the next few years. Location is a piece of data that when applied to other objects has become a very valuable way to add context and other functionality to a piece of media.

By providing location data to photographs we added great value to that media. We can now visit sites like Google Maps and Flickr and other services that use location as a data point to search and view photos. The act of the checkin now ads the gesture of saying "I'm here" paired up with location and time. This will also offer a similar valuable piece of context across many platforms in the future".


Vanessa and I have already seen a business application for FourSquare with regards to our holiday lets.

We've tagged them on FourSquare so that they will be visible to anyone who "checks in" to the area. FourSquare allows you to comment on the location (or share a tip) and I have therefore added a brief description to the tag, describing the cottage, number it sleeps, and phone number to call to book it etc.

I will also encourage our guests to write testimonials on FourSquare, which can be viewed by anyone in the area.

FourSquare shows you everyone who has been in the area, and you can connect with them via Twitter and FaceBook (if they have shared that data). This is a free and quick way to connect with people who have visited, and therefore have an interest in the location. A targeted database that you can leverage and use to make some powerful and relevant connections.

Thinking laterally:

If you are a restaurant owner, you can see who has visited your restaurant and connect with them via Twitter/Facebook (if the customer has shared this information on their profile). Foursquare can tell you how many times a customer has been to your venue or the frequency of their visits. Many venues are now using this data to reward their most loyal customers with freebies or discounts and drive more traffic to their business.


If a Foursquare user is at your bar/restaurant, FS offer a JV programme allowing you tell them what they have to do to unlock a free snack or discounted drink. If they happen to be across the street or two blocks away from your venue, FS will let them know that your business gives special treatment to foursquare users and that they should swing by for a visit, again driving more traffic to your business.

FourSquare are currently developing some analytic tools to help businesses get the most out of the application.

Another example:

If you are an interior designer, how about writing a short appraisal on FS of the interior design of the premises you visit? The business owner may well see it, but so will everyone else in the area. A simple way to get visibility for the service you provide.

Or you may be a business coach. How about writing a short summary of the business experience you encountered during your visit to that business? Again, the business owner may see it, not to mention all the people using FS in the area.

Every time you check-in or create a FourSquare comment/tip, you can tweet this out on Twitter and FB, thereby providing easy content generation to keep your feeds fresh and share your experience of that venue/business. Another "lifestyle web impression" that is as individual as you are.

I see so many opportunities with this tool in the leisure, travel, hotel, entertainment, and services industries. It's a global site with highly localised relevance.

It's all about leaving a "lifestyle" imprint on the web that will give you enhanced visibility and facilitate deeper insights and greater context to what you (and/or your business) are all about. It's another way of making easy and targeted connections. It's another way to leverage those all-important user generated media impressions.

Your customers will generate your social media for you. You and/or your business can generate more lifestyle imprints to enhance your own visibility.

It will tell your customers what they want to know, when they want to know it, sometimes it might even be so targetted, that it tells them before they even realise they want to know it!

A bit like you didn't know you wanted a Versace tie until you came across it while searching for something else on E-Bay!

99% of your competitors are not even aware of this capability ... yet.

Do you see opportunity here?

I do. I see this site becoming the user-generated "Yellow Pages" of the social web.

Having the right knowledge at the right time determines how successfully you play the business game.

Might this be another way of leveraging FREE web tools to build a highly successful business by pre-empting your customers' needs, without resorting to pushy sales techniques or needing a large marketing budget?

Certainly seems that way to me.

I hope you have found this blog thought-provoking?

These are the kind of insights we share and discuss at our
Surrey Social Media Tribes networking events.

None of us is as smart as all of us ... so come and join us at THIS month's event.

Date: Thursday, 15th April 2010

Venue: Club Suite, The Holiday Inn, Egerton Road, Guildford.

Time: 18.30 to 21.30.

Parking: Ample and free

This month's subject: How to use free web tools and new highly sophisticated software to "listen" on the social web.

Price: £10.00 in advance or £15.00 on the door on the night.

Please click >>>
here to register and pay....

And don't forget to log-in via FourSquare when you arrive!

However, if you have already seen the light with regards to social media and you're ready to get going with it, then check out my "
How to implement a social media strategy for your business" training day, taking place near Milton Keynes on the 17th April. There are a few places left on this ground-breaking course and your first customer generated by social media engagement will pay back the £149.00 including VAT course fee.

We are so confident in the quality and value of our training that we happily offer a 100% money back guarantee that your course fee will be refunded in full if you do not feel it was value for money or that social media is not for you. So you have no risk and nothing whatsoever to lose ... but everything to gain.

Please click >>>
here for full details.

Regards N     

April 04, 2010

beach huts at Portland Bill

Beach huts at Portland Bill, there's many of them and, surprisingly, sell for around £30k!

Still beach huts seem to be ingrained into the English phycology as "fish and chips" and "tat shops" by the seaside.

They can come in many shapes and colours, sizes and "add ons" - but the feel of them remains the same no matter where you are in the country.

These ones are by the lighthouse "Portland Bill" (red and white stripes, the other one is now a bird sanctuary, museum, and information centre). You can find the "isle of Portland" near Weymouth in Dorset located towards the end of "Chesil Beach".

Google Map - http://maps.google.co.uk/maps?hl=en&client=firefox-a&hs=bZo&rls=org.mozilla:en-US:official&q=phycology&um=1&ie=UTF-8&sa=N&tab=wl -

Well worth a visit.


April 03, 2010

Camber Sands at low tide.

DSC_0070, originally uploaded by badgerproductions.

Well worth a visit to Camber (East Sussex, UK).

Stunning beaches and good weather. Follow @beside_the_sea for more details or go to their web site besidetheseaholidays


April 02, 2010

Surrey Social Media Tribes – Social media Monitoring


Social Media Monitoring.

We are at the cusp of a change in society. As we speak, we are moving away from the "Industrial age" and into "The Information age".

The method of "communication" is moving towards "web systems" and with the advent of web 2.0 (i.e you and me being able to up-load words, video, audio and pictures) there is an ever growing database of information, opinion and action on the web.

Consumers are influencing consumers.  Consumers are influencing the web!

So with the volume of noise there is, how do we get to understand it? Listen to it? Deal with it? Use it?

There are answers coming.

One of them is here.  It's called social media monitoring, and in particular some software from a company called Alterian.

At April's Surrey Social Media Tribes meeting we will discussing this software and I'll be showcasing it for you.

Social Media Monitoring can:

  • Improve Your SEO
  • Increase Your Sales
  • Customer Service & Support
  • New Markets & Product Development
  • Industry/Competitive Insight
  • Social Media Campaigns
  • Building Brand Visibility
  • Brand Audits & General Listening
  • Public Relations & Crisis Management
  • Human Resources

See you there!

Date: 15th April 2010

Venue: Club Suite, Holiday Inn, Egerton Road, Guildford, Surrey.  GU2 7XZ

18.30 to 19.00   Registration/networking

19.00 to 20.00   Social Media Monitoring Presentation: Nick Tadd

20.00 to 21.00   Business Challenge and networking

21.00                   End.
Parking: Ample and free

Refreshments: Available to buy in the hotel.

Entry:  £10.00 in advance.  Please click the button below to pay.

            £15.00 on the door on the night.



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