Social media offsetting

According to Ofcom, people in the UK spend nearly half of their waking hours consuming media (45%). During that time, almost a quarter of it is spent using social media (23%). That means, on average, people are spending just over 10% of their waking lives using Facebook, Twitter, YouTube and their ilk.

10% of your life! That’s nuts right?

Not when you consider that 6.5% of your life is spent waiting.

Why not offset your waiting time against your social media usage and win some hours back in your day to go white water rafting or to write that novel?

That’s the real power of mobile computing.

I’m off to order my iPhone HTC Desire.


More stuff NOT to do on Twitter

A few months ago I blogged about What NOT to do on Twitter. It listed a handful of things that annoy me when using the service. It was good to get them off my chest, but still I’m not satisfied.

So, in great grumpy Monday tradition, here are some more gripes about using Twitter in a fashion likely to wind your followers up:

“Good morning”

Don’t get me wrong. I am pleased if you are in a sufficiently good mood to wish a good morning to the entire twitterverse. The problem is that it’s not just you. It’s you and hundreds of others. When I open Twitter in the morning I have to wade through a host of pointless tweets about said time of day. I ignore them, so does everyone else. So stop doing it. Please. Seriously. Just stop.

Retweeting mentions

So, someone has said something nice about you or your business. That’s great, it’s out there for their followers to see. You’re doing it right. Just leave it there. When you hit that RT button to tell all your own followers about it you are stripping away all the authenticity. I want to hear it independently from someone I trust, not from you, you big show-off. (OK, you can do it verrrry occasionally, if you get a cracking mention, otherwise I’m not listening LALALALA!)

The weather

I can look that up, thanks.

Me, me, me

OK, so we’re all guilty of this at some point but I’m tired of following people who talk about nothing but themselves. I want you to talk about what other people are doing too. Contextualize what you do and say with some relevant information from other people. Give me links to go and read good stuff. In fact, I want to see you tell me more about other people than you do about yourself. Then I’m going to pay you more attention because you are enriching my stream.

That’s it for now. Come back in 3 months for the next exciting installment.

Social media millstone

The term social media is like a millstone around the neck of modern digital marketing. Digital professionals and geeks who are sm savvy pour scorn on it. Other sm professionals go out of their way to explain how little it has to do with the obvious online channels of Twitter, Facebook and the rest.

And while all of this sniping and positioning goes on, the brands and businesses who really could benefit from a little advice here, don’t have a clue what you’re talking about. Mention social media to 90% of people and they’ll either stare at you blankly or ask “so, you post stuff on Facebook then?”

It’s such a hard sell, and we don’t make it any easier for ourselves by constantly talking about it.  I try hard not to, outside of my blog. Imagine you only spoke about cardboard boxes all day? Obviously some people would be into it but it’s really not that inclusive.

So I’d like to propose 2 things:

1/ Can we stop referring to social media please? I’m going to call what I do “helping businesses make the most of positive brand associations and customer produced content and twitter and Facebook and sites like that…” or “Just online marketing really, only with a focus on the conversations that people are having on social networks and stuff…” If all of my contemporaries do the same then we can make this whole thing a bit more transparent.

2/ Can we also stop talking about it? Let’s talk about what was on TV last night or what streets are going to be closed when the pope comes to town. That way we can communicate like real humans and not talking textbooks.

Now. Obviously these are rules, and as this is social media “helping businesses make the most of positive brand associations and customer produced content and twitter and Facebook and sites like that…” then they exists simply to be broken. And, yes, I know that by the very act of publishing this I am still talking about it. But small steps…

Guest blogging – a social media win

A few weeks ago I was lucky enough to take up a slot as a guest blogger on The Social Penguin Blog. Being the smartarse that I am I decided it’d be funny to guest blog about guest blogging. And here is the result:

Guest blogging is basically social media in a nutshell.

Firstly, you are creating content, a vital part of the process.

Secondly, you have proved that you are listening. You have answered the call for guest
bloggers and paid attention to what that particular forum is looking for.

Finally, you have only gone and engaged as well. You’ve connected and this brings with it
a whole host of rewards. Not only do you get your content viewed by a wider audience, you
also actively help out a fellow social media pioneer. You both win, as does the audience in
general because they get to read your insightful musings.

There are a few tips that you should consider though, should you want to guest blog:

Firstly, think about yourself. Bear in mind that social media, and usually blogging, is about
building your personal brand. Make sure that whatever you write highlights your skills.
Wherever possible, link back to your own blog. You don’t get many better opportunities for
good anchor text than in a post you write yourself.

Secondly, think about your host. Do your research and refer readers to relevant content on
the very blog that you are writing for. Also, be clear in your mind that you are addressing the
audience that follows this blog. Don’t write about your love for peanuts on a site about nut

Think hard about your byline (this is the little bio at the bottom of this post). Include an
optimised link with crafted anchor text. Make it short and informative but not too salesy. It
should probably take you as long as it does to write the post in the first place.

It doesn’t stop there

Once your opus has been published (providing it gets the green light), you will hopefully
generate some comments. This is where it gets social. Make sure you sign up to your own
post for updates when someone comments. Respond where you can, this is very often what
separates a good blogger from a great one. How often have you discovered that the comments
on a blog post are far for interesting than the blog itself? Good example from my own blog

After a respectful amount of time has passed you can also include the post on your own blog.
Be sure that you credit it’s source (that’s not you). Make sure that you talk up the blog it
appeared on and nurture any connections that this has thrown up. Social media is all about
engagement so don’t let any lead from this go cold. Bring willing participants into your
own network at the same time as you are encouraging your own readers to engage with the
blogger who had you on-board.

Finding guest blogging opportunities

It’s not all that hard to find the opportunities to supply guest content, here’s a handful of
avenues to explore:

  • Your own network. Open your RSS reader and scan through it for a) blogs in a similar
    field to your own and b) blogs that already have guest contributions
  • Your blog comments. If your own blog is successful you will have comments. Follow
    the links from your commenters to their blogs. 9 times out of 10 this will be a good fit
    with what you are trying to do, given that they took the time to engage with you.
  • Twitter search is a mighty powerful tool. Try keying in some searches in your niche.
    Very quickly you’ll start to find links to blogs that are useful.
  • Finally, don’t discount Google. You can tackle it from 2 angles, firstly look for blogs
    in your world by using keywords related to it. Alternatively, why not tray searching
    for “Guest bloggers wanted” or similar. It depends how specific you want to get with
    the topics.

And finally. You might want to consider closing the loop and inviting guests to blog on your
site. It’s a great way of broadening your audience and opening up new opportunities to listen
and engage.

social media guidelines

[tweetmeme source=”barrydewar” alias=”” only_single=false style=”compact”]For many large organisations the thought of dipping their toes in the sea of social media fills them with terror. These companies have spent years managing their communications output with an iron fist. They have developed long-winded yet robust processes for getting content out to the world. There are layers of beaurocracy and approvals to be navigated before even a single leaflet hits the public domain.

The thought of opening themselves up to their customers on social media is, frankly, terrifying. How can they safely respond to their network in a timely manner when all of their processes are designed for safety rather than speed?

It’s not easy. And it can’t happen overnight.

Sure, they can bite the bullet and hire themselves a community manager to cover their bases on Facebook and Twitter, but that staff member will still be unable to say a single thing due to all the red tape.

What is required is an organisational change.

A move towards a set of guidelines surrounding communication rather than a set of rules and processes. Give communications staff plenty of guidance around what they can and can’t say, make sure they know the safe-zones and the no-go areas, then tell them to go away and do what they do best.

This will allow those involved in the social media side of things to respond immediately to questions and step into networks where their brand is being discussed. With a simple set of rules there is very little that requires to be escalated. What’s important is that your network is not left hanging. If things get sticky, the guidelines will feature a procedure for escalating things and the stock responses which can be used.

It doesn’t have to be an epic. Just a few pages of easy to follow steps should be enough, and then you can set sail.

If you think that your organisation might need some guidelines, let me know. I’m sure I can help.

Image credit Lars Sundstrom

Tweeting 9-5

[tweetmeme source=”barrydewar” alias=”” only_single=false style=”compact”]If you’re a company with a visible presence in the world of social media, you need to be careful to manage people’s expectations.

I’ve spoken in the past about how you converse, the language you use and the etiquette surrounding social media engagement. What I’ve never really covered is WHEN you do it.

This is important, particularly if there is only 1 member of staff providing your voice online. You need to establish some parameters within which people can expect to engage with you.

Be honest with yourself, you might feel like you’re “on” all the time but really you’re not. Apart from the fact that you sleep all night, there are also the times when you are in the pub, on holiday, or just enjoying some leisure time. Really, the only time when you can be sure that you’re available is during your working hours (whatever they may be).

This is not a bad thing. People will be willing to wait until 9.00am tomorrow for their responses but only if you’ve been clear that this is the deal. Make sure that you flag on all your social media outposts what your hours of online business are

It may not sound like the epitome of the brave new social world but it’ll keep your followers happy and that is the name of the game.

Cut down social media noise

[tweetmeme source=”barrydewar” alias=”” only_single=false style=”compact”]You’re following too many people. I’m certain of it.

Your social media experience is determined by the quality of content generated or shared by those you follow. The problem is that you don’t choose these people based on what you think they’re going to come up with, not all the time. Instead, you choose people to follow based on a combination of real life friendships, other people’s recommendations and chance glimpses of what they might be capable of. In many cases these people just don’t live up to your expectations but you’re too attached to them to cut them loose.

It’s fair enough if for you social media is purely social. But if you’re using it for business reasons then too much time is wasted filtering through the stream of detritus that you have created for yourself. I do it too. I have an a-list of people whose tweets I actually read. I use this to streamline my experience so I don’t waste too much time. But I have to ask myself, why am I bothering to keep following all the rest? I do look at the stream but only very occasionally does someone make me notice them enough to graduate to the a-list.

So why do we do it?

Well, if I’m honest, for me it’s partly down to follower numbers. I want followers because it means a bigger audience for my content. I know from experience that when you prune judiciously, you lose a lot of people. I want to keep people so I keep following them but not reading their stuff. It’s a bit daft.

But you’re not me. You’re probably not a social media consultant trying to grow their footprint. You’re probably a business with a brand on the web which you are tying to make best use of. If that’s the case you should try clearing out people who aren’t providing any value to you. It’ll save you time. Don’t worry about the follower numbers, if your content is good your list will keep on growing anyway.

Just don’t start with me.