Category Archives: musings

Mashable are doing it wrong

When I started to take an interest in social media a couple of years ago, the concern most often voiced was that marketeers would get their grubby hands on it and spoil it for everyone else. I never really felt that would happen because of the permission based nature of the thing. You only see the updates of people or brands that you have chosen to follow. For me that was an important distinction between social media and all traditional media up until that point.

What I hadn’t banked on was the pervasive nature of underhand marketing tactics. There have been a few things recently which have annoyed me. I already ranted briefly about marketing types making recommendations based on nothing but loyalty to their own clients.  This time my hackles have been raised by The Mashable Awards

I have nothing against the awards in principle, or awards in general.

What gets my goat is the requirement that any vote in the awards is automatically retweeted or posted to your Facebook account. It can’t be turned off. So if you want to vote for a few things then you are actively spamming your own followers on behalf of Mashable.

It’s most annoying because Mashable are the ubiquitous social media follow. Everyone with any interest in the arena is reading what they say and this begins to look like an acceptable approach to viral marketing. 

It’s not. 

It’s insidious. Any vote I might make on the site is purely an endorsement for that brand, it is in no way an implicit endorsement of Mashable, yet if I vote I am promoting their content without consultation. The status updates that it generates are junk mail and should be treated as such.

It may not seem like a big deal. If we are all following Mashable anyway then we do kind of endorse them right? Maybe, but that’s not the problem.

Rather, if other hooked up organisations begin to adopt the same approach, our Facebook feeds or Twitter streams will quickly fill up with this crap.

Just as we do with spam we will learn to ignore it and software will be developed to automatically remove it from our lives. 

Our carefully selected, permission based social media networks will cease to be of value and we will move on to something else.

Marketeers who use social media. Don’t take a leaf out of Mashable’s book. If you truly value your customers and have respect for whatever they CHOOSE to say using social media channels, trust them to work out whether they want to tell the world that they have just clicked on your call to action.

#EdCM, remembering the first time

Tomorrow is Friday and I’m already looking forward to #EdCM. It’s the perfect way to start a Friday with some gentle networking with relaxed and friendly fellow geeks.

#EdCM stands for Edinburgh Coffee Morning and it’s held every Friday morning from 8 – 9 am at Centotre on George Street. It was started by the legend that is Mike Coulter waaay back in 2007  and was initially attended by a handful of local meedja and creative types. From day one the atmosphere, venue and company clicked and it has grown from that day, taking up just a few chairs, to what now occupies almost the entire venue for that fabled hour.

I wasn’t there that day, although I do know half the people who were. No, my first time was in March this year. I had already attempted to go once before but bottled out because I was just too nervous, I generally don’t like networking you see.

When I did make it, I vividly remember walking in and being confronted by a room full of people, all highly engaged, chatting to one another. The atmosphere was great but I couldn’t see a way in. There were no seats at the top table and I kind of stood around for a few seconds feeling like a plum. I spotted a table of 2 and took a deep breath before pulling up a chair with them. I was so nervous. What if they could see right through me and realise that I don’t know what I’m talking about? What if they don’t like me?

Worse. They ignored me. Neither of them looked up, locked as they were in conversation. I was lost, I very nearly walked out right then. Seconds passed which felt like minutes. I looked around the room again. Another half-hearted scan to see if anyone looked more receptive.

And there she was @BigEars had seen me come in. She could see my network-shy distress and she smiled. A beacon of hope, she made room for me and invited me over. I was saved! We talked about social media, about smart telephone systems, about nursery runs and who know what else. She introduced me to some other people and when I left I was hooked.

I’ve not missed many since then, just one or 2 and I really do miss it when I’m not there. I’ve spoken to @BigEars a couple of times since then but generally I meet someone new every week (along with an established bunch of regular faces). There’s always geek chat about the latest developments, there’s usually nonsense chat about pretty much anything else and occasionally there are cakes (awesome cakes, thanks @MacFack).

So, I got to wondering about other people’s first times. I idly tweeted about it and here are the responses:

First visit was a bit of a strange one as it was the quiz. I ended up on a team with Jon Mountjoy and a couple others (memory is a bit hazy). Was on the top table so in amongst the main crowd. Plenty of banter. I actually spoke to more people through the day on twitter than at the coffee morning. I think that’s probably the day I first experienced firsthand the collaborative potential of twitter. Mike carried on the quiz throughout the day, plenty banter, discussion, cheating and arguments ensued! :-)
Geoff Kennedy (@idle_bull)

My first visit to EdCM was the Social Media Quiz way back in March. First impressions were slightly intimidating, the place was packed to the rafters with people who I didn’t know and they were all be fairly rowdy with some competitive banter being bandied about. I introduced myself to the Big Man himself (Mike) said I’d never been before and didn’t have a team and was promptly chucked together with some other people who were also team less. I know @D_ward, @geoffballinger and @miss_wordsmith  on my team though I have no idea what the team was called.

I wanted to come back because I had a good time and it was good to meet new people but I’d felt that I hadn’t had the full experience with it being a quiz.
Kelly Forbes (@Macfack)

I remember my first time. It was the stop motion video day. My arrival is recorded LOL! I remember meeting lovely Mike Coulter.
@BigEars

Had to be really brave walking in, but one of 1st people I met was @queens_hall who was so kind and chatty, the rest is history.
Danielle Ellis (@Ellisdanielle)

 #EdCM memories. Just how many times I thought of going before finally pitching up…and then…never looking back. Every week, no problems.
Tim Barlow (@timbarlow)

For me I was a little nervous, but left feeling inspired and desperate for the next one.
Mike McGrail (@mike_mcgrail)

So all were broadly similar to mine. Like all events like this, it’s not easy to step over the threshold but #EdCM is almost unique in that it actually proves to be worth the effort. Not only is it a very worthwhile exercise in building a network of like-minded people but it is also nourishing in many other ways, not just because their bacon rolls are divine.

Specialise and prosper

When I was 15 I won a medal. It was for playing rugby, we won the Scottish championship, it was very exciting.

The very next day I was playing in a football tournament. I’d been coerced into it, I hated football and was rubbish at it. I had been dreading it but when I woke up that morning and saw my medal, proudly adorning my bedside table, I felt empowered. I could do this, I’d be great. We’d be great!

I was rubbish.

What does that tell me? Well, it tells me that life isn’t like in the movies. Don’t expect it to be and you won’t end up disappointed.

It also shows me that you can’t be good at everything. Don’t expect to be. Specialise and prosper. Generalise and you won’t know what way is up, one day good, next day bad.

Also, don’t let people down by leading them to believe that you can deliver when you know that you probably can’t.

Always check credentials.

(I don’t hate football any more, but I am still rubbish at it)

*Image credit Bartek Ambrozik

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