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the big blog company | it's all about who's on top and who's on the back
“Oh wow, that's a big blog you've got there!”
Some important bloke on some important blog.
December 22, 2007
The Big blog company still around
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...but my writing has moved some time ago to Media Influencer. It is my own blog that covers much more than blogging. So below are the posts from my other blog for those interested in what I still have to say.

December 09, 2006
Too much talking?
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Last Wednesday I spent most of the day at Online Information, the world’s no.1 event for online content and information management solutions, in Olympia, London. Alright, that’s a receipe for corporate-style boredom but I got to me meet and talk to several interesting people.

In the morning, I was chairing a panel with an impressive line up of people talking about Social Software - Delivering value to 21st century organisation. Alex Bellinger, Ewan McIntosh, Rob Scoble and Ben Edwards were discussing pretty much anything related to that.

My intro was simply deconstruction the title of the panel. What does social software mean? What is a 21st century organisation? What kind of value are we talking about? And can it be ‘delivered’? Perhaps it is no longer about ‘delivering’ but about enabling, introducing, optimising, sharing, innovating and gasp, inspiring…

The main focus for me was value and the objective was to give the audience ideas of where to look for the value of social media/software within their organisations. It may be that the value they bring is not vague or hard to identify but that it is multi-dimensional. Perhaps it manifests itself in several areas which do not correspond to the silos so beloved of business structures.

How about the following framework for where to find the value social media and social software brings?

Individual empowerment - helps individual employees with their tasks and everyday job; easier information managenent via RSS, tagging, social bookmarking for example, awareness of people within the organisation via their blogs etc

Organisational empowerment - enables the organisation to do, connect, carry out functions that were not possible before; communications and information flow, exnternal engagement of markets, community, media, customers etc.

Specific level - projects that are easier and faster carried out, e.g. using a wiki to organise an event or collaboratively produce a manual, or using a blog to document a project etc.

Systemic level - processes that emerge as a result of extended use of social media/software. People making connections that speed up existing processes and/or give rise to new ones. Communication channels and networks that overlay the silos and dysfunctional processes. Innovation and creativity that would not manifest themselves otherwise.

There was another panel with the same people (plus Matt Locke who couldn’t join us in the morning), this time chaired by Phil Bradley. Phil was a lot more strict than I as the moderator, especially needed as there were two more people in the conversation. I do prefer ‘conversational’ panels to powerpoint and it was good to see people thinking on their feet. I hope to talk to them again, there seem to be more and more people around who understand what will drive the changes inside organisations.

In between the two panels at Online Information I rushed off to another conference, Click Forum 2006 (Creative Review’s 2nd Annual European Online Creative Advertising Forum). It was taking place in Parsons Green, not too far from Olympia. There I joined the panel about Blogs, online communities and interactive environments. I particularly enjoyed meeting Tim Ryan, director brand marketing at AOL. He very kindly gave me a lift back to Online Information, in the car we have frantically talked about the state of the media industry and the future of agencies and marketing. Suffice to say that we agreed, make of it what you will, dear reader. smile

After all the conferences, it was off to a London Girl Geek Dinner, where the Scobles were guests of honour.  It was a long day with social media overload but well worth it.

cross-posted from Media Influencer

October 11, 2006
How to implement social media in business
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Here is the process, step by step.

ROI for blogging
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September 23, 2006
NAB Visa Mini or marketing gone haywire
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This is what happens when marketers try to be trendy these days. The result is the most ill-considered banking product ever devised.

...a National Australia Bank (NAB) Visa Mini - confoundingly counter-intuitively, this card’s most notable feature is that it’s about half the size of a conventional credit card. Apparently this distinction alone will irresistibly and relentlessly reel in the target demographic - fashion conscious twenty-somethings (I think that might include me!) - but NAB has other slick devices in store to simultaneously deliver a KO in the coolness heavyweight championship of the banking world whilst obfuscating the somewhat steep interest rate levied on any transactions billed.

Well, perhaps all could be forgiven if the cool level was sufficient. But not when combined with plain dumb.

Why not hang your Visa Mini on your mobile phone using the purpose-built attachment, o budding sophisticate? Does it look cool, and it is also great for the person who finds your misplaced Nokia; if they exhaust your mobile credit telephoning Siberian astrologers, they’ll be thanking their lucky stars because instant replenishment is quite literally on hand! Now that is convenience.


For the truly elite - the style aristocracy - why not subtly incorporate the Visa Mini into a piece of bespoke jewellery, like so? Yes, it probably would require less effort to don a prominent sign displaying “ROB ME” painted in large flourescent letters and then wander down the darkest, dodgiest backstreet alley in an effort to discover a smackhead suffering profound withdrawal symptoms so you can shove your Visa Mini between his chattering teeth. But that’s simply not how they do it in Europe, philistine.

or it just plain don’t work!

...what if the cardholder wishes to transact via an automatic teller machine or a manual imprint device or a vertical-loading swiper unsuited to such generation-NEXT Mini cards? Oh ye of little faith, those clever folk at NAB and Visa are one step ahead of the likes of you and I. If you are one of the select fashionistas who manages to successfully obtain a Visa Mini card, you will also receive a Visa Mini Companion Card, known in-house as Visa non-Mini Mini, which financially functions identically to your Mini card as it is linked to the same credit account. Instantly, it should be obvious to all that the inclusion of this extra card represents rare value - two cards from just one application! - but do not neglect to observe that the Companion Card has also been ingeniously designed to share the exact same dimensions of a conventional bank card!

Interestingly, there is a comment by a reader on one of the product review sites, which rings a bit, well, shall we say false. I just wonder to what extent Ms Caroline Liang’s summer job is related to marketing… But let’s not dwell on the detail. Let’s go for the big picture.

This is where marketers ‘lose it’. Blinded by the number of trends and deafened by the noise of the mouse-clicking, iPod-carrying, mobile-wielding Generation XYZ, their unerring instincts tell them that combining all that with a financial product AND accessories is a sure way to grab that desirable ‘demographic’. Based on their fundamental misunderstanding of who creates and ‘provides’ for a growing number of ‘consumers’, their fate is looking less inspiring than this accesorising suggestions for the Visa Mini.

August 21, 2006
Quote to really remember
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We like conformity. Sadly, sometimes we confuse it with teamwork. Or much worse, we assume noncomformity to be anti-team and disloyal. The Road to Ruin. This, despite all superficial commitments to the valiant efforts of the Myerses and Briggses and Belbins of this world telling us that diverse balanced teams are good.

In something approaching real tragedy, many organisations go through a painful process of attracting and hiring people with a difference to make a difference; then spend forever driving the difference out of the person. Immensely frustrating for all concerned. Blogs can help prevent this.

We should stop thinking of blogs as just individual soapboxes, it may be the way we learnt about them, but it’s not the way we’re going to learn from them.

They’re very powerful conversation enablers; they help people express care and concern and dissent in non-threatening ways; they help avoid mutual-admiration-society selection bias; they build trust amongst teams; they exposes heresies and cancers; they prevent me (and people like me) from believing in our own propaganda.

Blogs are but one tool in helping us with those selections.

One tool. An important tool. One we did not have before.

Cass R. Sunstein in Why Societies Need Dissent

via JP

August 05, 2006
The Grinding reality of marketing blogs
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I came across this gem earlier today and a classic example of what Jackie and I call ‘re-inventing the bandwagon’…

Eight O’Clock Coffee Co. is energizing coffee drinkers and its brand with a new blog that invites customers to share their gripes and thoughts about life, work and coffee.

The blog, called The Grind, follows the storyline of a working mother of two who writes about her daily life, and invites visitors to share their own experiences. The first blog entry begins with a quick recap of the weekend and talks about the blogger’s boss, nicknamed "Snobicus," and asks advice on how the blogger can break the ice with the chilly boss.

The goal is to connect consumers to the brand in an interactive format, said Jeff Maloy, Eight O’Clock senior brand manager. The blog will run for six to eight weeks.

This is so bad. How shall I count the ways?

  • Working mother of two - what’s her name or is this just a target demographic that came highest? Doubt it so please, enlighten us… Hang on, I got it. Her name is Eight O’Clock Coffee, it sayz on the blog - posted by Eight O’clock Coffee.
  • Interactive format - comments are good, but no need to asnwer every crank in the comments section, especially it is the first comment on the first post and the answer is the second post on the blog. Or is it someone from the agency who set up the blog trying to ‘crank up’ (sorry) the new interactive engine of the Eight O’Clock Coffee Co? Oh way, I can download a coupon and watch two TV spots. I take it all back...
  • What’s with the used as blogging platform? It sucks. Really. The worst comments facility ever, even some more benighted users use Haloscan to get away from indigenous comments (dis)functionality. But I digress.
  • The blog will run 6-8 weeks? That’s marketing-campaign mindset talking. Sigh.

Perhaps time to be constructive? A coffee blog I want to see tells me about coffee, its history, flavours, pictures, coffee-making tips (OK, there are some on the Grind blog buried at the bottom in small print), baristas, growers, geeky facts about espresso machines etc etc  - themes and topics abound.

And then there is the Ristretto Roasters weblog, set up by Jackie Danicki and run by Nancy Rommelmann, the founder of Ristretto Roasters, an artisanal coffee roasting company with its own café in Portland, OR. I know which blog I’d rather read.

Update: Just noticed that the article in PROMO magazine says that Eight O’ Clock handles the Web site and blog in-house. I take a shot at the imaginary agency back. It still leaves plenty to gripe about… smile

cross-posted from Media Influencer

July 29, 2006
Quote to challenge
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We have to recognize the role of the consumer as creator. That’s the first time this has happened in history.

-Ajaz Ahmed, AKQA, Red Herring article

First recognise that they are not ‘consumers’

July 22, 2006
Marketing is God
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This has to be blogged…


The one and only Hugh MacLeod.

July 19, 2006
Rent an Expert
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When I was in San Francisco last month (with Adriana, who was speaking at Vloggercon on net neutrality), one of the best things that happened to me was meeting BrainJams‘ Kristie Wells and Chris Heuer. These are fiercely intelligent, open, unpretentious, generous people who are doing incredible things through the power of their own personal networks.

One such example of this is the Rent an Expert event which BrainJams is staging at CNET HQ today in San Francisco.

The format will follow the laws of open space as the ‘how to classes*’ offered will be determined by the participants. We ask that a small fee (average is $5) be given for each ‘how to class’ you sign up for, and all the money collected during the evening will be donated to a charity that will be decided by those in the room (majority rules folks).

Check out the Rent an Expert wiki if you can attend and want to share your expertise and/or learn from the expertise of others in attendance. If you go, tell them that I sent you - and thank me sooner or later, because you won’t regret the experience or getting to know Kristie and Chris.

June 29, 2006
What MySpace means
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Last week I was at an Engagement Alliance event, What My Space means, which took place at a rather cool location, the Charlotte street hotel’s screening room (as in private cinema) - from 2 to 6pm. There was an excellent and varied line up of speakers (yes, yes, I was speaking) and I thoroughly enjoyed the event. There vibe was different, somehow more intimate and relaxed. Congratulations to Jackie for organising it all.

I spoke about social networking and My Space in that context.  I have been travelling and only had a chance to post my notes now.

Social networking and concept of community, powerful enough for corporations and businesses to notice.

I define community as a network with a purpose, theme, topic and with specific motivations behind individuals participation. Not just a fuzzy notion of a collective space, this may sustain the community but not kick-start it. So we have music, dogs (Dogster), teenage angst (MySpace) dating and socialising.

The blogosphere was the original social network, open and mutating. Several times the landscape shifted – political blogging, metablogging, business, marketing, PR, academic blogs etc.

I talked about three aspects of social networks – the physical or ‘geographical’ aspect; the human aspect and the business dimension.

  1. The sheer scale of the social networking phenomenon is has taken us by surprise. Online has been bridging physical locations. Technology makes it easier to do certain things – connect & publish and communicate on an unprecedented scale. This scale may be changing certain human and social behaviour – we have increased capacity to maintain large social networks. It is said that a human mind cannot handle more than 150 people as contacts at a given time.  Social networking online may be increasing this limit or helping to reach this limit faster for more individuals. Similar to mobile phone – we are able to do more, have more meetings and conversations, managing to squeeze in more as ad hoc become a modus operandi.
  2. Human aspect – social networks are a very non-commercial and non-rational space. Emotional and oddly intimate – aspect of human psyche usually capture and catered for by families, tribes and religions. Another thing that is changing within this space is the nature of authority. Quote about checking out peoples MySpace pages to find out more about them. Teenagers are able to create their identity; they understand the discrepancy between the image and reality – learning out to filter out. Credibility and authority emerging differently, not through ‘certification’ by a third party.
  3. Business dimension – this fundamentally non-commercial space in contrast with the manner it is done (i.e. emotional and social) is fulfilling a market function when it comes to communication and information. As a place for conversations, it is where the demand side is supplying itself (Doc Searls), the media and marketing are not the sole sources of information. Also, the distinction between consumers – producers – distributors/agents/publicists is blurred. “Artists have become their own agents, musicians their own record labels, and video makers their own broadcasters. And everyone on Bebo and MySpace and Facebook has become their own publicist, shouting Me Me Me.

Finally, disruption is never expected/anticipated and cannot be prepared for in detail/specifics and using the old models to monetise social networking may be counterproductive. This is because the internet and online treats any control or censorship as damage and re-routes around it.

June 18, 2006
Social engineering via USB
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Alec Muffet has an interesting article about the clash between the human nature and the manner in which companies try ‘secure’ their networks. He says:

… the reflex I have seen in some City institutions which try to ban iPods, USB sticks and the like, from trading floors and other sensitive environments.

That won’t work - as JP [Rangaswami] approximately put it, if you want [me] to do that, you’ll need to give me the privileges to stop-search the employees and go through their briefcases, pockets, and check what their phone can do; the result will be oppressive chaos.

The proper response is one of embrace and control, that if employees are going to make use of whatever technology [USB, iPod, WWW, Instant Messenger, 802.11, ...], some facility needs to be made to filter and sanitycheck the means to which it can be put, and that you make the means and constraint transparent and well-advertised to your employees.

In short: be fair, and be wise. It might cost a little more in the short term, but will retain respect, employees and be more effective than the “ban everything” approach.

Amen to that.

June 05, 2006
Psychotic Kermit the frog
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This kind of advertising works for me!


May 22, 2006
Social media and blogs forum
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Last Wednesday came and went. I was good fun, both during the day and evening. Days before the conference were busy and Lloyd managed to do three podcasts with speakers - Euan Semple, Lee Bryant and me.

Jackie Danicki took some good notes and reproduce them in a meaningful way on her blog. Lloyd Davis has blogged on the conference blog about his impressions from Open Space session and put some pictures on Flickr. For more, there’s Technorati.

May 15, 2006
Excuse for a blog party
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When we heard that Shel Israel is coming to London to speak at the Content 2.0, Jackie and I thought of getting a few like-minded people to meet him and have a… conversation with one of the authors of Naked Conversations. And a drink or two, or three.

The party will take place on June 5th (Monday), in a private house where many a blogger bash has succesfully taken place. We do not mean to exclude but the number are limited, for obvious reasons. Jackie’s organisational genius is just the thing to make it a fun evening, so if you want to join us email her at dynamist at gmail dot com. 

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