Make Your Own Way

Whilst working at Edelman, Marshall was always expressing how he (and please excuse the paraphrasing Marshall) ‘made up the job as he went along’.

It’s a sentiment I have focused on increasingly over the past year or so.

Last week we welcomed Don Baer from the US team to the London Burson-Marsteller offices. In a great session, he regaled us with stories from his time in politics, law and PR.

It struck a chord with me then, when he said that to succeed, we must ‘make our own way’.

That’s two people with vast experience sharing the same message. Works for me.

The social media landscape is always changing and It’s one of the reasons I enjoy working in this space. In one moment, a new tool or service can explode out of nowhere and create it’s own industry: Vineographers anyone?

Maybe it’s because I’m very much in the Millennial camp, but I don’t believe in workplace rigidity. I want to have new opportunities outside of what my job description says; I want to be able to work where I want, when I want (within reason) and for who I want.

The great opportunity for Millennials and Gen C is that we can make our own way. Technology allows us to work anywhere there’s wifi and a decent cup of coffee.

A job description just tells me what I need to do as a minimum requirement to be able to do my job effectively. This is good because it sets parameters, but it can also have a negative effect in so much that subconsciously I might put myself in a position of not learning anything other than how to do a set of tasks well, repeatedly.

I like breaking things, especially job descriptions – it means you can learn more skills, try new things and become a better professional and a better person.

I don’t want to be effective; I want to be constantly evolving. Maybe I’m an idealist, but I hope it is a notion we all strive for.

What Is There To Like About Not Being at South By South West?

As a serial #SXSW non-attendee, I often think that I’m missing out.

The new tech that’s going to be used; the developments in social networking behaviours; the parties; I miss out on them all.

I think it’s a good thing.

Setting up filters
The joy about not being at South By South West is that you can filter the useful from the not so much.

Watching from afar you have an opportunity to see the wider landscape of what is being talked about and who is making an impression. You can see which companies most people are talking about and which products are having an impact.

I get the sense that on the ground you can lose that perspective amongst the press-fleshing and tech-testing.

Watching paid media
It’s always pretty fun to see which companies are trying to be disruptive around the #SXSW hashtag or using promoted tweets to flaunt their wares.

From big companies to startups, each wants to grab your attention and get you to ‘check out’ their website. Nobody visits a site anymore, they just check it out. Remember to include a proper CTA ;)

Finding new people to follow
It’s a great way of widening your online network. New people crop up in searches or retweets who you might not have heard of before.

A non-presence at SXSW can introduce you to lots of new potential digital buddies and help you to identify the emerging faces of the tech scene. Sounds great to me!

Maybe, after some justification, you can say you’re making the most of the opportunity to follow SXSW from the comfort of your sofa rather than missing out.

I’d still quite like to meet Grumpy Cat though.

Expanding Your Network

People in communications like connecting with other people, I guess that’s one of the reasons we end up doing it.

As much as having great video conferencing facilities is an economical way of talking with current or existing clients, nothing beats having a face to face discussion.

Social media allows us to connect in real-time with people all over the world around a shared interest, news story or meme. Making those connections can instantly transform your online experience and introduce you to new ideas, creativity and people you never knew existed.

We’re very fortunate to be living through this time of great change and the exposure to new ways of thinking can only benefit society as a whole. We need to learn to make the most of it.

If you find something on Twitter and you retweet it to your followers, keep an eye on who retweets it and look to see who else they’re following. It’s a great way of expanding your network and learning more about the people you follow.

It’s incredibly fun when you pick up a new follower and it turns out they are from outside of your network and then look at who else they follow.

It’s the same way we tend to find new bands – if you like one band, once you’ve consumed everything they have to offer, you find out who inspires them and check those artists out. Once you’ve looked at those, you’ll go back to their influencers and so on, until you’ve developed your own musical family tree.

So, don’t settle with the 100, 2,000 or 10,000 people you already follow, you’re just limiting the possibilities that the technology has given you.

Five Examples of Beautiful Deck Design

I’m a big fan of a clean looking deck. I like simple presentations that allow the presenter’s personality to come through so I’m always looking for inspiring designs to emulate.

To that end, here’s five of my favourites from trawling Slideshare recently. Indeed, if you’re a regular to the Popular pages, these probably won’t be new to you.

Beautiful flat design

Very clean, very shiny

Awesome use of Lichtenstein (Roy, not the country)

Big pictures, minimal text

Another flat design with few words

What are your favourite looking decks? Share them in the comments below!

Re-visiting Landscape Audits

Landscape audits are one of the most important digital marketing tools we have at our disposal.

Listening to conversation online is the most useful activity we can do as digital marketers.

More so than engaging, creating great content or coming up with astonishing creative, listening is the fundamental skill anyone working in social media must be proficient in.

Without an understanding of what people are saying online, it is incredibly difficult to know how to connect with them in an effective way.

I’m a great believer in using data and analysis to inform strategy. Without that evidence, observation and evaluation, you simply can’t rationalise any plan you want to pitch to your client.

To do this, you need a landscape audit: research of online conversation around a particular topic, company or community.

I believe that the use of landscape audits is often under appreciated and that they are a vital skill to have as a digital marketer.

And, if you’re like me, you needn’t be brilliant at maths or statistics to start getting tangible results.

Categorise your question
Landscape audits can be incredibly powerful ways to begin solving a problem, addressing an issue or learning more about the general behaviours of your audience.

You can categorise the types of question you might be looking to answer; you can then start to work out which types of data are going to be most useful:

  • What does a community think about my company?
  • What does a community talk about that’s relevant to my company?
  • Who are the main voices engaging around my company?
  • Which conversation topics are most associated with my company?
  • How does a community behave online?

Know your tools
Once you’ve used one or two tools, you can easily navigate your way around pretty much any. Yes the UI will differ, but the output is often very similar.

Become best friends with the likes of Sysomos, Netbase, Radian6 or Pulsar (other monitoring tools are available).

  • Sign up for trials with different vendors
  • Learn their capabilities
  • Find out how they can help answer your client’s questions

Become familiar with standard data outputs
Most tools kick out the same sorts of data, it’s usually just their presentation that will vary.

This means that once you’ve used one tool you can apply your knowledge to any new service you end up using. It’s incredibly helpful (and impressive!) to be able to switch between tools seamlessly.

You’ll find variances of:

  • Platform distribution
  • Conversation volumes
  • Linguistic analysis
  • Sentiment analysis
  • Influencer analysis

Data is just the start
Your clients don’t just pay you for your data. They’d go straight to the vendors if that’s what they wanted. They’re paying you for your analysis skills.

You need to learn how to interpret the data and look to identify trends, erroneous behaviours and odd occurrences that stand out:

  • Find out the catalyst for conversation spikes
  • Understand how word clouds reflect actual conversation
  • Investigate the platforms where content is being created

Use your understanding of people
if you’re working in marketing, one skill you’ll have, whether you realise or not, is that you can build relationships based on how people behave.

You should look to nurture this innate expertise and use it to analyse what you’re seeing people do online; think about what would make you do what they’re doing, for example:

  • Are they sharing content?
  • How are they sharing content?
  • What content are they sharing?

Look for personality types
Analysing networks of users, and the clusters they form, help us to work out who’s influential and who is listening to who.

There are essentially three types of person you should be interested in looking at – they’ll help you to understand the make up of any community you’re analysing:

  • People who generate
  • People who curate
  • People who amplify

Treat each audit as if it’s your first
When you’ve done a few audits and picked up experience of how people interact or engage, it can be very easy to end up repeating your findings.

You’ve got to put everything you know to one side when you’re conducting a new audit because each situation has a unique set of circumstances.

After you’ve conducted your research and established your findings, dug though the data and evaluated behaviours, then you apply the stuff you already know.

Keep your eyes open and your mind receptive:

  • It keeps the data from being misinterpreted
  • It won’t prejudice your insight formulation
  • It ensures you find a unique answer that will benefit your client

And, after all of that, what should be the main output?

It depends on your need but it’ll be a report of some sort. How you should construct that report is something I’ll address another time.

What are your experiences of using landscape audits and how have you found them useful for your clients?

Be More Narcissistic

Social Media has led to an increase in narcissism, and that’s a good thing.

Or, so says some new research, neatly animated by Brain Craft in the video below.

The theory is that as we look at ourselves, it makes us better people. Using social media to do that can actually re-define our personality, behaviour and future actions.

Who hasn’t Googled their own name to see the search results, or looked back over a previous nights tweets and Facebook status updates and decided that actually they weren’t that appropriate after all.

If social media helps us to reflect who we are, or how we want to be perceived, that means self censorship/correction and that can lead to behaviour change.

We all want to be better people, right?

Via Explore

A New Blogging Adventure

I’ve been blogging about music and technology since about 2005. Now I’m branching out in to Whisky, coffee and cheese.

I love blogging because it helps me to stay sharp in terms of writing and thinking critically about something that has been created, whether it’s a piece of music, a social media service or a gadget.

I realised a short time ago that I missed blogging for fun. Music reviewing was always a release after I stopped doing it full time, but it can be a real drain when there are other things to be getting on with, like work.

There are so many music blogs which have stepped away from the essence of what they were when they started, or got bought out, that trying to start again and walk into that particular minefield was always going to be tough.

Indeed, just getting a review with them can be a pain in the arse. Hours sending emails to hundreds of folks who claim to be into ‘new music’ or of a ‘DIY aesthetic’ but never even acknowledge you, are hours wasted.

The music blogging community has become so entrenched with it’s own perceived importance that it bears no resemblance to the community I was part of at all.

If I can’t devote time to music blogging, there’s no point; music is so important to me that If I can’t dedicate myself fully to it, then I’d be doing the artists a disservice.

That’s why I’ve decided to try something a bit different.

Malts Beans and Cheese will be a blog that documents my interests in whisky/whiskey, coffee and cheese.

It’ll be a fun distraction which I hope will complement the more serious digital culture compositions on Seldom Seen Kid.

I hope you’ll consider joining me!