Basics of Blogging

BlogA friend of mine is getting started with a really cool, and hugely challenging project around mental health. As part of that she wants to start a blog, so I came up with some suggestions and some resources to help her.

1 Choose a subject

Defining the subject gives you a focus, defining what you’ll work on. You should define the topic in a way that gives you plenty to write about and a potential audience, Amylynn Andrews gives some good tips on defining the scope of a blog.

Most importantly pick a subject you care about. You will need to read about it, think about it, write about it pretty much every day. Note, you don’t need to be an expert on day one, your blog can be part of the process of learning, it needs to be something you care about. If it’s not something you care about it will be really hard to sustain the habits necessary to create good blog posts.

2 Define your audience

Who are you writing for? What are their needs? What do you want them to take from your blog?

In my friend’s case she’s trying to help those fortunate enough to have no mental health issues understand what it’s like to live with mental health issues.

3 Name (and domain name)

The naming of things is a difficult matter. Most bloggers struggle with the naming of their blog, and Google gives 49 million suggestions on how to do it.

The perfect blog name should be;

  • memorable; use real words and keep it short
  • reflect what the blog is about; people seeing the name should have their interest triggered.
  • give you room to grow; if you define the name too narrowly sooner or later your blog posts won’t fit. I started writing this blog about new technologies, now I also write about leadership, but it still fits under “Change Meme” whereas it wouldn’t have under a more technology specific name.
  • have an available domain name; unless  your audience is country specific you will be hunting for a .com domain that works.

For more specifics on choosing a name, there’s a great post on Blog Clarity.

I run three blogs now, and the first two were renamed. It’s not that difficult to rename your blog in the early stages, but once  you start building an audience it becomes more difficult.

4 Platform

I use WordPress for all three blogs and I’m a huge fan. I find it easy to use (and it’s getting better), there’s enough variety of templates available in the free option for me, and when I’ve had questions I’ve found the answer on WP for Beginners or they’ve been answered very quickly via the forums.

But there are other tools out there; Blogger (from Google), Tumblr (often used by younger audience), Medium, and Exposure (great for image based blogs). Most give you a free option or a trial option. Play with them, find the one you can use the best.

WordPress, Blogger and Tumblr are more commonly used and may already have a bigger audience for re-sharing content, and of these Tumblr seems to promote sharing the most.

5 Connect

“If you build it they will come” might work in baseball, but it won’t work for your blog. Share your blog across other social media channels. It’s often possible to automate this, this blog gets tweeted automatically for example.

You can re-share your content, either to reach different timezones or in response to a specific event. But don’t be the guy on twitter who shares old content 90% of the time. Mix it up with fresh stuff.

As you develop your content you’ll need also build your audience – you want to reach the right people.  Here are four tips to get started;

  • follow back, if someone follows your blog or your twitter handle (etc) follow them back
  • look for bloggers/tweeters writing on a similar theme – follow them
  • respond to questions and comments on  your blog
  • comment and engage with others

For more sophisticated steps Mashable gives this list of 6 Tips for Building a High Quality Blog Following, and this interview with Syed Balkhi talks about how he built an audience by focusing on helping one user at a time.

6 Content plan

Think about what you will write, what subjects you will address and what format your posts will take. Social Media Examiner lists 12 types of blog posts, some subjects dictate the format, for others you get to choose.

Blogging takes time, so think of a couple of post formats that could be easily created or created ahead of time;

“Listicles”, those posts headed “10 things you didn’t know about…” always attract readers, but a site with only this could become a bit annoying.

Responding to a relevant news subject also works if you can say something interesting on time. This is known as Newsjacking. One of my most shared posts combines listicles and newsjacking; “5 Reasons Facebook Shouldn’t Come to Work“.

Use known events relevant to your field. I like to post something on Community Managers Day for example.

When I started I created a category of “Business Cliches“, which gives definitions for terms I heard used at work. These are also good when I’m a bit low on ideas for what to write, I keep a list of potential cliches for future use.

I create a spreadsheet of my planned content, it’s a permanent draft and I often move things around, or add to it in response to events. But I find it helpful to have a structure to work to, here’s some more advice on creating a structure for your content. Make it as simple or as complex as you need.

7 Images

Adding images to your posts adds to the appeal. I use either my own images or those from flickr that are available under a creative comments licence.

Make sure your file names and your Alt tags reflect the content, this will help your blog be found more easily. I confess I am a bit lazy at doing this.

8 Plan to write

TimePlan time to write.

This is absolutely key to sustaining a good blog.

How much time you need depends on how many posts and what type of posts you need according to your content plan. I usually spend Sunday morning writing, I try to have two posts ready to go, plus work on a few “drafts” that may or may not make it to publication. I currently have 22 posts in draft form, probably a third of those will be published.

Occasionally I’ll write an additional post responding to an event during the week, but that will be shorter and something I can publish quickly.

9 The Legal Stuff

Copyright; I publish under a creative commons licence, meaning I hold the copyright but give people permission to re-use my content as long as they credit me as the source. I try really hard to follow copyright law in terms of anything I do publish, and openly state that I’ll correct anything if I get it wrong.

Your employer’s view; If your blog is close to your professional life you should check with your compliance or media relations teams on publication of your thoughts.

I’ve been blogging for almost a decade now, it’s rewarding, fun, and a reputation builder in my profession. Plus – I like to think I’ve learnt a lot about professional writing.

Image: Blog / Christian Schnettelker/ CC BY 2.0

Inspiration for time image; Time / Sean McEntee / CC BY 2.0

 

 

 

My Sixth Birthday

candlecupcakeHappy Birthday to me, it’s six years since I made my first post here.  In it I set out what I planned to write about; “ideas relating change in business, new technology and communication”.

That’s still true today, although I also write about what I am learning about leading people, which is probably the most rewarding thing I do.

I’ve published more than four hundred posts in that time, covering subjects from a twitter basics to dimensions of leadership, from employee engagement to the Apprentice. But the post that generated the most traffic was the list of resources I posted during the Iranian elections and protests in 2009. I think I was newsjacking before it was even a thing.

Writing Change Meme is fun, I really appreciate that people follow me here and on twitter, and I enjoy the interaction. Thank you all. So although finding time to write is a bit tricky right now due to work demands this is still important to me. Here’s to the next hundred posts!

Image: Cupcake / Mickey M / CC BY-NC-ND 2.0

The Marshmallow Test

marshmallowThe Marshmallow Test is series of experiments on delaying gratification in children. Researchers tested whether children could delay eating a treat when told that delay would mean an extra treat.

Researchers then followed the children’s development and found that those who had been able to delay gratification for a greater reward had been more successful by various life measures including academic achievements.

Would I have passed the marshmallow test? Easily, I’ve never liked marshmallow. I’d do less well if the temptation involved chocolate, even now.

Can the “Marshmallow Test”  be applied to companies?

There is pressure within companies to meet monthly sales targets, project deadlines, quarterly results – multiple drivers of short-term performance requirements. A company’s strategy should provide a longer arc but the relentless pace of change compresses even this.

Are there companies out there that refuse short term revenue or profit to build long term gain?

Don Pepper identified 3 “small” examples in a recent Linkedin Post which got me thinking about specific incidents where I’d deferred instant result for a better result in the future.

I came up with three;

  • delayed a high impact project, that had some urgency, until I could get a knowledgeable project manager in place. A good decision.
  • rolled a mobile deployment of an intranet tool into a larger project, thinking that it would be easier to solve the significant security challenges once and the outcome would be a better user experience. A bad decision, two years later it still wasn’t done.
  • turned down an excellent candidate, because I didn’t think it was the right role for him – and hired him a year later for the right role. A difficult, but good decision.

In all cases I feared missing out on an opportunity when I made the decision, in two cases it was a good decision, in one perhaps not.

Have you deferred short term benefit for long term gain? If so, what was the eventual outcome?

 Image: Marshmallows / Harsha K R / CC BY-SA 2.0

 

5 Reasons Facebook Shouldn’t Come to Work

According to TNW Facebook wants to come to work. They’re working on something called “Facebook at Work“. Thinking about this from the perspective of a large company this seems a bad idea for all sorts of reasons; here are five.

1. Privacy; Facebook’s CEO Mark Zuckerberg famously said “Privacy is dead”. That doesn’t inspire me to put company sensitive information on their network.

2. Privacy; EU legislation is tougher in relation to privacy than the US. For example I cannot require anyone in my team to give me their twitter handle. I cannot use personnel data to search through social media to find more about our employees. Facebook claims this will be separate, but I can see employees creating a work specific account, defeating facebook’s goal of connecting everyone.

3. Privacy; I strongly suspect that using personal accounts to login to a work system won’t fly with the Works councils in many EU countries. They are very protective of the work-life balance of the employees.

4. Privacy; doing this means facebook acquires a whole lot of data on where people work that has not been shared.

5. Privacy; this set up means facebook acquires data on what your company is working on. Even if they can’t see inside the documents the activity levels give information. During the financial crisis reporters watched the windows of banks late at night to see if the press teams were active. This is the virtual equivalent.

Would you use a “facebook at work” in your company?

 

Mashies – the winners

So Mashable announced the winners of the Mashies, but didn’t provide any links to the entrants’ content. I’ve started collecting links that at least show something of the campaign, I’ll add more as I find them – feel free to tweet me or leave a comment to suggest a link.

Best Public Service Announcement

Winner: BBDO New York and AT&T for It Can Wait Integrated Campaign

360i for #MAMMING

BBDO New York and Autism Speaks for Lifetime of Difference

Big Block Live for Save the Children – The Most Important “Sexy” Model Video Ever

Purpose for Scenes from Everytown: 4:08 pm

Best Use of Vine

Winner: Target for #unPOPtheBox

Deep Focus and Tombstone for Bites of Fright

GE for #6SecondScience

MRY and Visa for Everywhere You Want to Be Olympics Campaign

We Are Social and Evian for Amazing Baby Rescue Me

Best Use of Instagram

Winner: Wieden+Kennedy New York and Heineken for Crack the US Open

Causebrands and Cotopaxi for Questival

Havas Worldwide Chicago for Havas Chi Internship Draft

Razorfish and Mercedes-Benz for Take the Wheel

VH1 for Love & Instagram: #CheckYoSelfie

Best Viral Video

Winner: Don’t Panic London/UNIT9 and Save the Children UK for Most Shocking Second a Day

CP+B and A.1 for A.1 New Friend Requests

Creative Artists Agency and Chipotle for The Scarecrow

Deep Focus and Lay’s® for Lay’s® Do Us A Flavor

Leo Burnett Toronto and Always for Always, Like a Girl

Best Facebook Campaign

Winner: Wenderfalck and MTV for Match Machine

Attention and Dunkin’ Donuts for Global Donut Day

Colenso BBDO and Burger King for Motel Burger King

MRY and Listerine for Power to Your Mouth

McCann-Starcom and Coca-Cola Italia for #DilloConUnaCanzone & Coca-Cola Summer Festival

Best Use of Snapchat

Winner: Rethink for Memory Project

Association of Surfing Professionals for ASP Surf + Snap: Digital Autographs

GrubHub Inc. for GrubHub Snapchat

Huge and Audi for Audi Takes Snapchat by Storm on Super Bowl Sunday

Wieden + Kennedy New York and Heineken for Snapwho?

Best Branded Twitter Account

Winner: BTC Revolutions and Applebee’s for How Do You Like Them #FanApples

Cavalry and Smith and Forge for @SmithandForge: 19th Century Perspective

Delta Air Lines for Delta Presents: Prepare for Laughter

Guitar Center for Guitar Center Twitter

Publicis Kaplan Thaler and ZzzQuil for ZzzQuil Twitter

Best Interactive Ad Execution

Winner: Interlude and Sony for Like a Rolling Stone – Interactive Music Video

CP+B and Domino’s for Domino’s Live

Digitas and Motorola for Moto X Interactive Print

Rapt Media and Ogilvy for Philips Designed to Play

Razorfish Germany and Audi for The Perfect Day

Best YouTube Brand Channel

Winner: Great Works and Absolut for Absolut Drinks In Motion

Fullscreen and GE for GE Reports

PBS Digital Studios

Razorfish London and Unilever for All Things Hair

Weber Shandwick and Milk Processor Education Program for Chocolate Milk: From the Gridiron to IRONMAN

Best Twitter Campaign

Winner: DDB New Zealand and SKY New Zealand for Bring Down the King

Edelman Digital and Samsung Mobile US for Samsung Keeps the #PowerOn for Galaxy Owners at SXSW 2014

HCL Technologies for #CoolestInterviewEver

NBC and Telescope Inc. for #VoiceSave for NBC’s “The Voice”

We Are Social and Adidas for Brazuca

Best Social Media Campaign

Winner: BBDO Colenso and Burger King for Motel King

BBDO New York and AT&T for @SummerBreak

Deep Focus and Tombstone for Tombstone Bites of Fright

iProspect and Chevy for Chevy and the American Cancer Society Paint Social Media Purple

Zocalo Group and Nestle Coffee-mate for Stirring Up Love “Outside the Cup”

Best Real-Time Marketing

Winner: Allen & Gerritsen and Dietz & Watson for Laser Ham

DDB New Zealand and SKY New Zealand for Bring Down the King

Grow, Wieden+Kennedy, and Google Creative Partnerships for Nike Phenomenal Shot

MRY and Listerine for Listerine “Power to Your Mouth”

Taylor Strategy and Taco Bell for Taco Bell President’s Reddit AMA during Taco Bell Breakfast Launch

Best Interactive Audio

Winner: BBDO Colenso and Pedigree for KPFM

Edelman Digital for Call of Duty: Advanced Warfare Kevin Spacey Reveal

Epiphany and Amplifon for Amplifon: Sounds of Street View

Best Branded App

Winner: Glasses.com for Glasses.com Virtual Try-On App

2Mobile and Caixa Insurance for #transitoaovivo

Comedy Central with Isobar for Comedy Central App

Web Reservation International – Hostelworld.com for Hostelworld iPad App

WWE for The WWE App

Best Branded Facebook Page

Winner: USA Network for Chrisley Knows Best

Cookie Jar for Airtel Buzz

Iris for Team Messi

Publicis Kaplan Thaler for ZzzQuil

Resource for Sherwin-Williams

Best Native Advertising Campaign

Winner: Creative Arts Agency and Chipotle for The Scarecrow

Causebrands and Cotopaxi for Cotopaxi Questival

Kik Interactive and Funny or Die for Funny or Die Promoted Chats

M&C Saatchi for GOWEST (Become Cyber Spy for Equality)

Razorfish and Mercedes-Benz for Take the Wheel

Best Product Placement

Winner: Causebrands and Cotopaxi for Cotopaxi Questival

The Integer Group for Pringles Flavor Slam at Walmart

REVOLT Media and TV LLC for FIAT 500 REVOLT Nation

WhoSay and Canon for #BringIt

Weber Shandwick and Unilever for All Things Hair

Best International Digital Campaign

Winner: DDB New Zealand for Bring Down the King

HCL Technologies for #CoolestInterviewEver

M&C Saatchi for GOWEST (Become a Cyber Spy for Equality)

Razorfish London for All Things Hair

Rethink for Luge

Best Branded Game

Winner: The Integer Group for Pringles Flavor Slam at Walmart

Colenso BBDO for V Robbers

Creative Artists Agency for The Scarecrow

TBWA/Paris for The Most Serious Game Ever

Wieden+Kennedy and Coca-Cola for AHH

Best Use of Tumblr

Winner: Erwin Penland for Denny’s Tumblr Account

Firstborn for Keds Bravehearts

Iris Worldwide for Rimmel London – Retro Glam

McGarryBowen with Kraft for Miracle Whip Tumblr

WGSN for WGSN on Tumblr

Looking Back at the Summit

Web Summit Highlights: Day Three

Final day at the Web Summit, it’s been a blast. So much knowledge and inspiration in one place, and I only got to experience a small part of it. Great organisation, all sorts of complex logistics thought through, some fantastic speakers. And Dublin, you were a charming host. Here are some of my highlights for the day.

What Millennials Want

millennialsAccording to the panel Millennials require marketing to be authentic “you can’t bullshit them”. Which raises the question – which audience could  you bullshit?

A large percentage of millennials feel they’re not represented in the media, which begs the question who is the media representing?

I admit I get a bit irritated with the discussion of Millennials, it tends to position them as special, but when I read an analysis of what Millennials need it seems to be what workplaces should be offering everyone.

Future of Mobile

Rather than talking about mobile, we should be thinking about mobility.

Advertising remains a challenge, looking to solve it with formats with a higher impact; specifically fullscreen video or large images making messages legible, (hmmm, what happens to my data roaming allowance if I do this?).

Still see tracking across platforms/devices as difficulty, but we know mobile has leapfrogged other media and is now ahead of radio, magazines and outdoor video.

Mobile is already the primary method of communication with clients; eg in banking, where people visiting branches one or two times a year, online twice a month, but may use their banking app

Digital Marketing is Dead

This was more of an argument against creating silos in digital, something I find easier to agree with, and it contained the quote of the day

User experience is like fairy dust – sprinkle it on everything

You can see the whole presentation on slideshare.

Data of Media

A discussion with Sarah Wood (Unruly) and Rachel Schutt (data geek at Newscorp) about the need to create a culture of using data, not just bring in data for the decision moment.

Ongoing analysis by unruly shows that the key metric for sharing is the emotional intensity of a piece of content. It beats out do good, look good, funny, kudos, or status. Next challenge is connecting that emotional intensity to the ROI of a piece of content.

Not Impossible Foundation

How do you solve the world’s impossible healthcare problems? One by one.

The Not Impossible Foundation crowd sources ideas and builds sustainable solutions – like a 3D printed prosethetic arm for Daniel, a young man in Sudan. They didn’t just solve the problem for one man, they trained local technicians and left the equipment at a local clinic so more people can be helped.

I love it when technology changes lives in such incredible – but not impossible – ways.

Dharmesh Shah, Hubspot

As Hubspot grew there was a need to define how they worked, what the company values were and what that meant to the company. He began by thinking this was easy, but it became one of the hardest things he’s worked on.

Along the way he realised that culture  grows organically and it’s hard to define as he put it “the first rule of culture – you don’t talk about culture”.

Eventually the Hubspot culture code was developed, which has become one of the most read documents on organisational culture on the internet. It’s defined as “part manifesto, part employee handbook, part manifesto of dreams”, take a look – it describes a place we’d all like to work.

Why spend time on culture?

  • Culture is to recruiting as product is to marketing – an amazing culture is what you need to attract stars.
  • Peers beats perks – having great colleagues is more important than any sort of perks.
  • Product is easy to copy; culture is hard to copy and it’s therefore is a barrier to entry for competitors.

It was a great presentation, but my favourite part of the presentation and of the culture guide is the principle that you should have as few rules as possible – expect employees to use good judgement. My presentations on building social into a company includes the line “people are nice; you can trust them”.

Real Time Marketing at Coca-Cola

Coca-Cola use social media to do “real time marketing”, monitoring social media for insights and turning those insights into content to respond. They can also ramp up for campaigns around events. For example they had a team at the World Cup in Brazil made up of Coca-Cola employees and agency staff who could read social media data, create content, buy media. The team turned out 10 TV commercials, 12 infographics and 16,000 responses over the 32 days.

They see that the “always-on” marketing should ideally be done by the brand, not outsourced to an agency. It’s a big commitment from the company involving 130 people world-wide working on real time marketing. Having the right people in the team and in the room together means they can respond quickly. In fact the vast majority of content around Coca-Cola is created by fans, around 85%.

Is it “kids playing on social media”? was a question posed. The answer was a clear “no, these are graduates with expertise and the tools to do their job”. Good to hear someone busting that myth.

Ryan Smith, Qualtrics

The Qualtrics company is behind collecting all sorts of research and marketing data, including feedback on the conference. Their team was wearing T-shirts with geek slogans such as “I’ve got 99 problems but getting data ain’t one of them”.

The company started in Ryan’s Smith’s family basement, and it was a long time before they needed – or took – any capital. It’s a great “start-up to success story”, and my favourite comment from it was “Qualtrics aim to do hard things; and want their employees to emulate the competent – not the confident”.

Closing the Conference

The final session on the mainstage is a discussion about the future of music, entertainment and what technology is doing to that. It features Dana Brunetti (producer of House of Cards), Eric Wahlforss (co-founder of SoundCloud) and some guy called Bono.

The moderator cracks a joke about the new line up of U2, and the panel claim the instrument they’d play – I don’t think anyone volunteers to be the drummer.

The questions are serious and so are the answers, this is an industry mid-change, there’s room for new models. But as Bono repeats; the artist must be paid, they don’t believe in the freemium model. Turns out as rich as U2 are they didn’t give away Songs of Innocence. Apple bought it, and then gave it away.

It’s a good discussion, but a tiny part of me wishes the line up were a little different… and the band were playing.

closingAnd that’s it for another year. You can watch the day’s live streams by signing up for next year’s conference.

Massive thanks to the hundreds of people involved in the conference, you did a great job (but next year fix the wifi).

Digital | Social | Innovation

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