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If you are serious about measuring social media (and if you are an agency, you need to back up your BS with some foundation), then you could do much worse than watch this broadcast from masters of analytics Post Rank.

I’ve been using Post Rank for my blogs for several years now, as a means to not only set targets whilst others guess, but also to measure the effectiveness of our content, and set future targets…although it’s amazing to see how so much of these blogs is taken over by Twitter these days.

Anyway, enjoy the video.

Using PostRank Analytics to Improve Your Blogging from PostRank Inc. on Vimeo.

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<p>In January, hugely respected author and blogging/social media guru, Debbie Weil asked the question whether or not the blog has a rightful place at the heart of a social media strategy. It;s something that I have long believed and long defended as a means to communicate with customers and suppliers alike.</p>
<p>Not surprisingly, Debbie got plenty of responses, including myself which is included along with many others’ thoughts in her <a href=”http://debbieweil.com/books/free-ebooks”>recently released ebook</a> answering the question.<!–more–></p>
<p><img title=”Screen shot 2011-02-02 at 17.47.34″ src=”http://blendingthemix.com/wp-content/uploads/2011/02/Screen-shot-2011-02-02-at-17.47.34-e1296666541539.png” alt=”” width=”600″ height=”277″ /></p>
<p>If you haven’t already seen the ebook, I have embedded it below, or you can get it and other great books from Debbie.</p>
<p><a style=”margin: 12px auto 6px auto; font-family: Helvetica,Arial,Sans-serif; font-style: normal; font-variant: normal; font-weight: normal; font-size: 14px; line-height: normal; font-size-adjust: none; font-stretch: normal; -x-system-font: none; display: block; text-decoration: underline;” title=”View Debbie Weil – Why Your Blog is Your Social Media Hub on Scribd” href=”http://www.scribd.com/doc/48045259/Debbie-Weil-Why-Your-Blog-is-Your-Social-Media-Hub”>Debbie Weil – Why Your Blog is Your Social Media Hub</a> <object id=”doc_698669453078195″ style=”outline: none;” classid=”clsid:d27cdb6e-ae6d-11cf-96b8-444553540000″ width=”100%” height=”600″ codebase=”http://download.macromedia.com/pub/shockwave/cabs/flash/swflash.cab#version=6,0,40,0″><param name=”name” value=”doc_698669453078195″ /><param name=”data” value=”http://d1.scribdassets.com/ScribdViewer.swf” /><param name=”wmode” value=”opaque” /><param name=”bgcolor” value=”#ffffff” /><param name=”allowFullScreen” value=”true” /><param name=”allowScriptAccess” value=”always” /><param name=”FlashVars” value=”document_id=48045259&amp;access_key=key-101z16hranq745binmch&amp;page=1&amp;viewMode=slideshow” /><param name=”src” value=”http://d1.scribdassets.com/ScribdViewer.swf” /><param name=”allowfullscreen” value=”true” /><param name=”flashvars” value=”document_id=48045259&amp;access_key=key-101z16hranq745binmch&amp;page=1&amp;viewMode=slideshow” /><embed id=”doc_698669453078195″ style=”outline: none;” type=”application/x-shockwave-flash” width=”100%” height=”600″ src=”http://d1.scribdassets.com/ScribdViewer.swf” flashvars=”document_id=48045259&amp;access_key=key-101z16hranq745binmch&amp;page=1&amp;viewMode=slideshow” allowscriptaccess=”always” allowfullscreen=”true” bgcolor=”#ffffff” wmode=”opaque” data=”http://d1.scribdassets.com/ScribdViewer.swf” name=”doc_698669453078195″></embed></object></p>
<p>In short, whilst there has been a rush (nay, even trend) to give blogging a hard time, have you ever tried networking in 140 characters? Nope, doesn’t work does it. ever explained to a customer why their package was late or how you were changing your processes to ensure that a package will never be late again – in 140 characters? Exactly.</p>

<p>In January, hugely respected author and blogging/social media guru, Debbie Weil asked the question whether or not the blog has a rightful place at the heart of a social media strategy. It;s something that I have long believed and long defended as a means to communicate with customers and suppliers alike.</p><p>Not surprisingly, Debbie got plenty of responses, including myself which is included along with many others’ thoughts in her <a href=”http://debbieweil.com/books/free-ebooks”>recently released ebook</a> answering the question.<!–more–></p><p><img title=”Screen shot 2011-02-02 at 17.47.34″ src=”http://blendingthemix.com/wp-content/uploads/2011/02/Screen-shot-2011-02-02-at-17.47.34-e1296666541539.png” alt=”” width=”600″ height=”277″ /></p><p>If you haven’t already seen the ebook, I have embedded it below, or you can get it and other great books from Debbie.</p><p><a style=”margin: 12px auto 6px auto; font-family: Helvetica,Arial,Sans-serif; font-style: normal; font-variant: normal; font-weight: normal; font-size: 14px; line-height: normal; font-size-adjust: none; font-stretch: normal; -x-system-font: none; display: block; text-decoration: underline;” title=”View Debbie Weil – Why Your Blog is Your Social Media Hub on Scribd” href=”http://www.scribd.com/doc/48045259/Debbie-Weil-Why-Your-Blog-is-Your-Social-Media-Hub”>Debbie Weil – Why Your Blog is Your Social Media Hub</a> <object id=”doc_698669453078195″ style=”outline: none;” classid=”clsid:d27cdb6e-ae6d-11cf-96b8-444553540000″ width=”100%” height=”600″ codebase=”http://download.macromedia.com/pub/shockwave/cabs/flash/swflash.cab#version=6,0,40,0″><param name=”name” value=”doc_698669453078195″ /><param name=”data” value=”http://d1.scribdassets.com/ScribdViewer.swf” /><param name=”wmode” value=”opaque” /><param name=”bgcolor” value=”#ffffff” /><param name=”allowFullScreen” value=”true” /><param name=”allowScriptAccess” value=”always” /><param name=”FlashVars” value=”document_id=48045259&amp;access_key=key-101z16hranq745binmch&amp;page=1&amp;viewMode=slideshow” /><param name=”src” value=”http://d1.scribdassets.com/ScribdViewer.swf” /><param name=”allowfullscreen” value=”true” /><param name=”flashvars” value=”document_id=48045259&amp;access_key=key-101z16hranq745binmch&amp;page=1&amp;viewMode=slideshow” /><embed id=”doc_698669453078195″ style=”outline: none;” type=”application/x-shockwave-flash” width=”100%” height=”600″ src=”http://d1.scribdassets.com/ScribdViewer.swf” flashvars=”document_id=48045259&amp;access_key=key-101z16hranq745binmch&amp;page=1&amp;viewMode=slideshow” allowscriptaccess=”always” allowfullscreen=”true” bgcolor=”#ffffff” wmode=”opaque” data=”http://d1.scribdassets.com/ScribdViewer.swf” name=”doc_698669453078195″></embed></object></p><p>In short, whilst there has been a rush (nay, even trend) to give blogging a hard time, have you ever tried networking in 140 characters? Nope, doesn’t work does it. ever explained to a customer why their package was late or how you were changing your processes to ensure that a package will never be late again – in 140 characters? Exactly.</p>

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I’ve always felt that one of the biggest challenges around social media was not how an agency (or brand) could find something of value to bring to consumer’s (there’s never any shortage of ideas), but rather how the agency or client brand itself can bring these very same practices to deliver something of real value for the business itself.

I’ve worked in both very small and very large agencies where I’ve seen people either too frantically busy to be able to contribute frequently to internal (or even external) social media activities, or they just don’t see it as part of their job: “Yeah, thansk for that run through of the services…I’ll get right back on with my job now though” was often a common complaint.

The reality is that whilst some people within a business may never be the “maven” or champion of social media, there are unquestionably activities that they CAN do which help the business. Whilst the list below isn’t exhaustive, if at the very least you aren’t keeping an eye on your client’s reputation (even as an account manager in a digital agency), you are failing them at best, missing an opportunity at worst.

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Debbie Weil (if you don’t know who she is, I haven’t got enough time to tell you but go here and here to find out more!) posted the following question which has really resonated with me:

Is Corporate Blogging the Hub of Social Media Marketing?

Debbie’s question is a really pertinent one as we see more and more casual, almost meaningless social gestures creeping into our online world. Friending, poking, liking, rating, status updates and even Twitter with its 140 characters are all quick and simple ways for us to communicate but do any of them add any real value to interactions with customers?

Whilst many firms set out with the very best of intentions of engaging customers with their social media strategy, where is the real “meat” in the conversation.

As I often do, ask yourself, how would you interact with someone if they only spoke in 140 characters or sentences with limited meaning, or who simply gave you a thumbs up or down in response to a question you may ask?

Out of principle, we in “the profession” are obliged (and 99% of the time are correct) to say that no social media strategy should proceed without beforehand, monitoring the landscape. That seems to be the “proper” and sometimes obvious way to get things moving. We then move to discuss the idea that no channel has the right to be used without evidence that there is a need for the brand to communicate in that way to customers.

The reality is though (and this is through a lot of experience!) that at the heart of any good social media strategy DOES lie a blog – whether with a corporate hat on or a marketing-led branding/engagement one.

The blog, for me, is the way to get to the heart of what social media is all about – people. It is the only way of giving the brand a voice, a means to communicate in a way that the stuffy website or social channels will not let them and a way to to show consumers that the brand really does give a sh1t.

Many have postulated that blogging is dead with the growth of the status update and twitter, but I’m utterly unconvinced.

What are your thoughts? Can you think of other ways that brands can engage in meaningful conversations with customers yet still make it a quick and easy thing to do?


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Three things got me annoyed yesterday:

1) Not being at Web2expo – i’ll get over that, i’m trying to get to Berlin 😉
2) Preparing for a practical workshop on blogging only to realise that 75% of the time is going to be spent explaining what tags are and rss is rather than discussing how they can be of benefit to a business.
3) Control freaks – people who think that a little bit of knowledge think they know it all (won’t go into that one!)

In particular, number two got me thinking that as a country, we are woefully under-educated when it comes to social media. Why are we still having conversations about what these tools are rather than what they can do for you?

I’d like to throw a few thoughts into the hat and see what people like Neville, Stephen, Steve, Becky, Will, Dave, Robin, Hugh, Jas, Stuart and maybe even Chris, Brian, Geoff and Pete have to say:

Concept
Is online social interaction (the principle of people/customers meeting online to share things and meet each other) SO far beyond people’s grasp they just do not get what happens and what people do?

Prejudice
The idea that without your work hat on, “I don’t use the internet like that , so why would my customers?”

Growth/Choice
Does the rate of change/growth of new social media tools scare IT departments or marketing/pr teams that anything they may decide to adopt may be obsolete in a few months? What about the sheer number of tools they could use? Is it realistic to expect a marketeer to keep track of everything that goes on?

Technology

Are we  our own worst enemies? Do we like to talk XML, php, css and other jargon too much that we actually alienate the very people we are hoping to adopt the tools we talk about?

Control

This relates nicely in fact, to point number three. People who have traditionally been in total control of their customers (when their customers didn’t know any better) are now petrified that they can’t control what their customers are saying. Burying their heads in the sand won’t work.

Previous tools such as websites, direct mail, press ads and email were great at telling customers what the brand wanted them to hear but now marketeers have to get their heads around the fact that those same recipients are talking back – just that they are telling other customers not them!

Tone of Voice

After decades of talking AT customers, brands are now having to talk TO WITH (thanks Gregory) customers. How do you talk to people you have spent years ignoring what they say? How should you speak to them? Learning THAT takes either a lot of listening, training or plenty of both.

Social Media Tools are “a phase” of internet growth

Several years ago (early 90’s), when working for a large mail order company, the whole business began gearing up for this "internet" thing that was coming.

HR were booking training sessions for people like there was no tomorrow , business-wide email was starting to roll-out and you could sense that people knew something big and important was going to happen. 15 years and 1 billion online users later – they were right.

The impression I get of what many of us might call the proverbial “sea-change” in the internet is that social media and its associated tools are nothing more than evolution rather than revolution.

I’ll end with some links to a couple of great posts, (from Suw who is organising the blogger outreach for the Berlin Web2 Expo and the legendary BL Ochman)all around exactly what I am talking about above as well as the Chris’s 12 reasons why he thinks the UK isn’t blogging or adopting social media tools:

1 – You don’t understand why you’d want a business blog. Neither does your CEO.

2 – You are the CEO. And you’re not going to allow your minions to blog.

3 – You think it is too risky to allow your colleagues to write blog posts.

4 – Your PR agency thinks blogging is a bad move.

5 – You mentioned something to the techies. It is in their development schedule.

6 – You haven’t figured out who will contribute to the blog, or what you will write about.

7 – You can’t see any benefits whatsoever. It would be a waste of time.

8 – You don’t see any return on investment. It would be a loss leader. We don’t do loss leaders.

9 – You have no clue about how to set up a blog.

10 – You think blogging is all hype / a passing fad / for kids.

11 – You are happy to ignore blog activity in the US. The US is a totally different environment for this sort of thing.

12 – You think blogging isn’t right for your business.

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Kathy Sierra created (when she was blogging), what I believe to be an essential bit of reading for any wannabe Web 2.0 marketer and sums it up very nicely in just one illustration below:

As a new-age or social media marketeer, you want to let the community guide you. You want to earn your community’s trust and respect by (at least!) look as if you are listening to them.

But then you realise that there are 10,000 opinions and suggestions about what to do with your product, how to improve it, what colour to make it etc., you suddenly realise why conventional marketing dictated to the customer!

Kathy suggests some great ways of handling these comments by categorising as many groups as possible and suggesting ways in which they could be treated.

Essential reading for anyone pondering letting go of your brand to your customers.

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I’ve been into the whole “PR people just don’t get it” thing ever since we launched PressRoom a few weeks ago.

We spoke to a room full of PR people who looked (on the whole) utterly confused about things like Twitter, blogging and social media.

“My colleague send press releases out as part of his job, will this social media release tool put him out of a job” was one such comment and typical of the lack of understanding of social media.

On this evidence, the suggestion is that indeed, as per Vero’s post, the PR Industry doesn’t get IT (IT being “it” the object, emphasised for dramatic effect rather than I.T. – that dodgy-looking tech department with long-haired geeks in).

But is it fair to say (frequently) that the PR industry as a whole just doesn’t get it? Look at esteemed luminaries such as Becky, Stephen and Stuart, not forgetting Brian and Geoff – there’s no doubt THEY get it! Why can’t others?

On the flip side, is it fair to suggest that the tech industry (ok, the early adopters) are trying to frighten the PR industry into needing their tech/building services by suggesting that social media requires NASA-affiliated qualifications? Then again we all have a responsibility to ensure that we keep up to date with thing going on in our industry – why should PR be any different?

Take the BIMA and Paul Walsh – no, please do 😉 when looking for a new PR agency, Paul advertised it on Twitter only. If you had to ask why, you were clearly not the people for him.

Is there an element of arrogance from the tech industry that they understand something that they know people need? Let’s not forget, many of these early adopters were the nerdy types at school who got bullied for being nerds, whilst the pretty, popular flirty girlies were the ones who went into PR and Marketing (yes, I know – stereotypes are bad, but sometimes funny!).

Ourman wades in with one of the few negative comments about the piece and makes a good point. Do bloggers have the right to demand more careful treatment just because they have a free-will-powered publishing tool (blog) at their disposal? The suggestion is that bloggers deserve more respect and care taken over their approach than a journalist in getting pitched to. But do they? Yes and No.

No, because they are no different to anybody else writing for an audience. Many bloggers want the exclusive, they need the latest breaking news ahead of anyone else just, like journalists. Why should bloggers take any different exception to a crap pitch than a journo?

Yes, because most blogs (and bloggers) are free from the constraints of corporate policy and can respond vociferously to the lazy pr pitches and can quickly slate the poor approaches for being exactly that – poor. Many hacks would no doubt LOVE the chance to respond in the way bloggers can so PR peeps take note.

And let’s not forget what Chris Anderson did (and he is/was on both sides of the fence!)

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As you can see to the above (soon to be the top left when the post moves down the blog!) I have in fact, made it onto the shortlist for Computer Weekly’s “Best Web 2.0 and Business” blog awards.

I have to admit to not knowing any of the other blogs in the same category when the shortlist came out other than Mike’s Techcrunch. That alone makes me think I have some bloody stiff opposition, let alone now that I have seen the other nominees:

* Brian Kelly’s UK Web Focus: Reflections on the Web and Web 2.0
* Roo Reynolds – What’s Next?, “UK-based Metaverse Evangelist, blogger and geek”
* Eightbar from Hursley Park
* DRM blog by CapGemini’s Jude Umeh, from BCS
* Middledigit.net, by Jonathan Hopkins and covers Web 2.0, technology and marketing
* Broadstuff.com from Broadsight
* TechCrunch UK
* Blending the Mix: A look at the new world and new marketing and all it means…
* Paul Downey: Whatfettle, marras?
* User Pathways by James Kelway
* Ian White and Michael Pincher’s blog on collaborative technologies,

And I can’t go without encouraging you to vote for one of my two pals below (who unfortunately reside in the same category):

Steve from Microsoft and Stephen from Rainier PR. Both are really, really good blogs written by two very smart (and successful) guys to boot! If you have to vote – give each of these guys a vote!

Oh…and don’t forget to give the guys at Outside Line a vote too. IMHO, the LG Blog is the benchmark for blogger outreach (and that is no slight on the wonderful work that David et al. do either!).

Don’t get me wrong, these blogs are all good, but if you DON’T vote for me, I’ll get Viacom’s lawyers to force your ISP to give me your IP address…and I’ll come round with some little friends!

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There’s an element of the below to my Qik interview with Neville (below). There’s a definite “rabbit caught between the headlights” nature to my responses – don’t worry, I am not always like that:

There are a couple of snippets of useful information in it though:

UPDATE: It has also been brought to my attention by my wonderful colleagues Gez and Dave, that the content of my short interview may in fact lend itself more to the below. Nuff said.

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Thanks to Nikki for the image.

In my online world, there are two types of evil:

I am looking for work. simple as that. If you think there may be an opening in the Manchester area for a marketer of all trades/digital marketer, or know of someone who knows someone (you get the picture!) please do get in touch! Yes, the CV is a bit stuffy, but skip through it – get the overall picture. If you are looking for someone who has practiced a lot of what he preaches and is creative and reliable, do please get in touch.

To be honest, I am terrified about the response. Several recruitment companies suggested I don’t even put my blog on my CV so to put it online is tantamount to suicide in conventional books!

But, you know, I figured what have I got to lose. Pride doesn’t pay the mortgage and you never know:

Twenty years from now you will be more disappointed by the things that you didn’t do than by the ones you did do. So throw off the bowlines. Sail away from the safe harbor. Catch the trade winds in your sails. Explore. Dream. Discover.
Mark Twain

(hat-tip to Alex Barnett for the quote!)

Maybe I’ll get some interest, maybe I’ll get some offers, but you know, as someone who likes to think of himself as a Web 2.0 practitioner, there is nothing like putting yourself out there to test the waters.

Check out bighippo.co.uk, read the rest of the blog, check out any gaps that my linkedIn or myragan profile might have – or just email me.

Finally…thank you for reading this far!

UPDATE: I was recently made redundant on the 11th May from the company I helped set-up – except no-one else there know what I do and the position is still open as far as I know! Work that one out!

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