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Top 10 with a twist

When talking business and social media the question of time efficiency and cost versus ROI (Return on Investment) inevitably elbows its way in to the conversation. I think good practice is key to working habits and rituals far deeper than how much time social media eats up. So my Top 10 with a twist...

What do you use your first 10 mouse clicks of the day to do?

NLab's Social Network adventure

On Thursday June 19 2008 the Axis braves bundled ourselves in to the good ship Bongo and headed off to Leicester for the Nlabs Social Networking conference hosted at De Montfort University. JonnyBjorn, Mark, Joyce and me ventured not a million miles down the road but the Bongo road trips are becoming a staple part of being a full on axis community member. As an advocate of Social Media commissioned to deliver Social Media and Second Life workshops for Axis Centre in the Autumn I was thrilled to be going with a group from Axis to see what they made of this mad mash up Internet frenzy I have been preaching since I began as a student on their Enterprise Webmaster course last October.

The thing I was most interested in was listening to business people and web practitioners define Social Networking. I have been immersed in "Web 2.0", "Social Media" and "Social Networking"  long before hearing those terms. As concepts I have come to define them from experience and try to explain them without using the buzz words themselves. A techy form of the family naming game Taboo!

I first discovered Badges and Widget. They opened a world of active content I could offer clients without ramping up the cost of a website. But if you search generically for badges and widgets you get a multitude of stuff. I began to see that the stuff I was interested in on my quest for websites with content I could embed in my websites talked about Web 2 and Social Media and so I found those concepts. It was in Web Designer Magazine issue 134 that I saw it first in print. The main article named "Web 2.0 is history..."

During consultations I talk to my clients about their web habits. I asked them what sites they liked, what sites they use or benefit from and delved in to why. Reviewing their answers later I would find site they used providing embeddable badges and incorporated their most productive habits in to the new site. Maximum benefit with little additional effort!

This also started the conversation about what they want their website to do apart from attract visitors and increase turn over. Because surely thats essentially why the conversation is taking place in the first place? I need to know how a businesses activity translates in to content then select from the myriad of Social Media sites which ones will be worth investing in. The investment being time and as we all know time is money.

I ask:

  • Is it a buzz around the workplace, more ways to communicate?
  • Is it to join together a branch network, fan base or create an enthusiast community?
  • Do you want to effortlessly include pictures or video clips on your website from an event or product launch?
  • Do you want to relay live images taken out on-site back to a colleague in the office or to a meeting?
  • Do you want to increase the ways customers can contact you?

Social Media can provide these services for free. It takes time to perform the action to make the content. Do you incorporate that in your marketing strategy of get a professional to create it?

The Nlab conference gave me the opportunity to listen to experts talking about the academic theory's behind the phenomenon and helped me understand the big business approach to Social Networking.

From reflections in Nature -

Ken Thompson's

Bioteams: what can we learn from nature's social networks?

to parallels with the modern urban sprawl

Roland Harwood's

"Are Online Social Networks the New Cities?"

I still struggle with the justification argument as I have found most clients already use services covered by the buzz words they just don't know it's Social Media or Web 2.0. It is such a wide range of applications and services I find it difficult to provide answers on the spot for "What can it do for my business?" I need to sit down and find out what they want then offer platforms that can do it. There isn't much it can't do.

In the final panel discussion I asked the panel - If they could keep only two Social Networking services what would they be and why? I find clients new to social media platforms have a threshold of 2 or 3.

I did find the term Social Networking as a blanket phrase to cover the entire Web 2.0, Social Media, Social Networking gamut slightly misleading. Its like saying humans, chimps, gorillas and orangutans are monkeys.

More on how I define the world another time!

But I would be interested to know your 2 top "wouldn't want to give them up" social media, web 2, social networking, how ever you define them services you use today and why. Over to you.

Yawn! Beware it's contagious.

After my last post "The most boring blog post ever" it was in preparation for this. The boring things in life are often the most essential. Water is probably the most obvious. We add flavour, fruit juice, cordial,  add milk, mash a flimsy paper bag with leaves in to it, heat it up or add ice to cool it down. Its the h2o that our bodies need. Without it we overheat, dry up, wither and die.

So in essence boring things are often quite important for our fundamental well being!

On Saturday when the mail landed on my door mat there it was, the summer edition of the Equity Journal. For many Equity Members it's instant recycling fodder and this one contained a double whammy, an envelop containing the voting papers and candidate statements for the Equity Council and President. (You may now Yawn!)

CouncilElectionsGraphic Every two years Equity members elect the Equity Council — the governing body of the union. Candidates for the Equity Council standing in this election are active members of Equity keen to give that little bit more. They are the voice of members in the union and they make crucial decisions about what the union does — for example the contracts Equity agrees with employers and the campaigns that run on behalf of members are discussed by the Council before any action is taken.

I confess that in previous years (I've been an equity member since 1995) I have not voted. I did vote in the last round of elections. I just found it all too confusing and with so much to read through I'd get to the end thinking "I don't know who any of these people are, why should I care who sits on the council". Admitting that bureaucracy bores the pants of us is no shameful thing but in Equity I am starting to feel the mood changing.

Equity is in great shape - working for better pay in the West End, negotiating payments for the use of members work on new media platforms and campaigning for better funding from the Government. Their confronting of the Arts Council was inspired.

With more candidates than ever standing for the Equity Council, your vote is even more important. Perhaps it is a sign of how much Equity has been doing in recent years that so many members want to get involved in steering the union's future.

There is a 25 per cent increased in the number of members standing for election to the Equity Council in 2008 compared with two years ago and an unprecedented 50 members standing for just 17 seats.

The funky wave of interactive Social Media specially Facebook is giving active Equity members new voices. Equity now has a Facebook profile, the West End fair Pay campaign has a Facebook group, The Bristol and West area branch has entered the Social Web arena and members in Hants and Dorset who don't have thier own area branch have begun a campaign to get one using a Facebook group to raise awareness and gather supporters. Council Election candidate Esther Ruth Ellis has created a Facebook group to gather her supporters around her.

If you have a vote. Consider using it. Your selection will make a difference. This time more than ever.

The most boring blog post ever.

Is PR the art of making boring subjects interesting or at least creating the illusion they are?

I guess some subjects are easier to promote than others.


Is the art of PR about finding audiences and presenting information to the people who will be interested in the information being PRed? Is that even a word? Well its a concept and you know what I'm getting at.

The trade union for the entertainment industry, Equity is gearing up for Council Elections. The American presidential campaign is nothing compared to this.

Is this the most boring blog post ever? Its going to get worse!

It's who you know. Not what you know.

Working in the Entertainment Industry, specifically theatre can be a solitary pursuit. The building of fast, intense working relationships is essential. Some of those contracts are the best times of your life or the most lonely and isolating. 13 weeks to work and collaborate giving your heart and soul to a production can be invigorating and exhausting. Reaching the end, the ordeal is over no matter how elating or how depressing. Concluding with the ever familiar farewells and of course,"We must stay in touch".

With the greatest of intentions a time comes when your best friends are mobile phone numbers of people you connected with yet never see because life has carried you down river and the ebb and flow of your career drives you ever forward. This is why "It's who you know, not what you know" proliferates the industry. When the time comes and a new team member is needed that list of phone numbers becomes the way to reach out and return to those friends you thought you might never see again. One chance to revisit a friendship, "Come work for me". At any other time you travel down life's river unable to fight the current but working together you can share the boat for just a little while.

Here we are at the dawn of Social Networking and many other iconic terms floating in the electronic ether like Web 2, Social Media, Social Web. Enterprise 2.0 was new one on me today. But what this means for me is I can live a consistent life, hold on to the valuable people I want in my life. It is tempting to take and hand of friendship when it is offered by a familiar face but ask yourself, Why did I loose contact with this person. Why am I going to connect? The potential for continuance? For learning, business, companionship or life fulfillment?

I see this now and I see what is before me. Since leaving the world of live performance I have immersed myself in a passionate quest to find a new direction. The expanse of the super information highway I find intoxicating, fascinating, tangible and new. Real life, the life of the corporeal self with its five senses is a gift. The new technological age, the digital road is one to be walked with caution, commitment and vigor. These are exciting times. A way to augment real life. A way to reconnect. A way to solidify business, reinforce relationships.

Those of you who know me I hope you are instilled by my wonder and awe for the digital domain and see how it has enriched my real life on an emotional, personal, business and philosophical level. Opportunities have opened up to me I never would have imagined and digital friends, some I have now met in real life are inspiring me to grow and learn. The human condition ultimately drives us to look upon the face of a friends and shake the hand of the business contact.