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August 2010
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March 2011

Punctuating my workload - Tom's Barn - Parwich

In recent years I have tried to take a small reflective break round about this time of year. After the intensity and disruption of Christmas followed by my birthday 2 weeks after new year the year tends to unfold and unfurl more controlled with a punctuation point just before spring. I tend not to go far so the Derbyshire Peak District is a favourite retreat. So meeting Marion and John Fuller-Sessions when they approached me to ask questions and express their interest in making sense of social media for their holiday cottages business at an eBusiness talk I delivered in Chesterfield turned out to be quite fortuitous.

I don't do stuff for free anymore though on occasion the time I put in means I practically do. I like to help out friends and organisations I'm involved with out side of my business work. I'm not averse to skill exchanges but I'd never taken a part payment as time in a holiday cottage. It sounded worth considering.

Marion and John own Tom's Barn and Douglas's Barn, luxury converted barns each sleeping 2. I'd been talking to BAFA (British Arts Festival Association) about social media for festivals so I was curious to explore the potential of social media for the tourism industry and how the industry is embracing or rejecting it. Marion and John came on to the PCM 7 Roads consultation programme and the payment for phase one was partly paid for with a weekend in one of their cottages and it is from Douglas's Barn that I am writing this post.

In the 6 month I have worked with Tom's Barn which is their website for both cottages a combination of a reworked and redeveloped website with Jeremy Brough and the social media profiling and guidence from PCM took the Tom's Barn site from this to this. Digital footprint profiling with the PCM 7 Roads analysis focused the content, social media platforms, tool and services that Marion and John use to and polish, shine and purpose to their already stunning business offering.

The guest's experience is a fundemental drive for Tom's Barn and staying here I can certainly confirm its a 5 star experience. On arrival we discovered freshly baked ginger and walnut cake, 6 fresh eggs, a pint of milk, butter, a loaf of bread and home made marmalade. We had fresh flowers, the fire was glowing, there were tea bags, ground coffee and a cupbaord of staples making us practicly self sustaining for the weekend. The page on the website "Little Extras at Tom's Barn" is a superb example of how selling your strengths in one place is essential.

Aplifying your strengths is what social media does best. Marion has been blogging, John is a keen photographer, his photos feature in a gallery on the website's homepage. Thier curiosity, passion and persiut of offering digital technology integrating into thier vistors experience is where thier jouney has bought them to. Both Tom's and Douglas's Barn has WiFi and the nice touch of a sony notebook PC. Subtle touches that make the retreat here for Dan and I complete. Oh yes their is a Jacuzzi bath too.

So what's next? A guest activity hub. The website sells the experience the vistors digital hub will provide a one stop shop for all the information, Torist Information, cottage handbook, local connections, local history, walks and much more. QR codes on Tourist brochures that have online PDF versions are going to be hunted down, Geo-location adventures and loyalty too. I have had ideas since being here for other social media connections.

I'm going to be giving a social media introduction presentation to the local Premier Cottages members and various Peak District and Derbyshire tourism associates. A case study is always valuable. One I can deliver and develop is very tangible for those attending. Social Media is about conversation, advocacy and amplification. What do you do best?


Marion Fuller-Sessions tweets as @Tomsbarn

Brouchure in ISSUU

Social Media in practice

As I adventure and explore the web new tools, services and web 2.0 platforms emerge, evolve and disappear. Some platforms become firm favorites while others get superseded. It may be that new services provide better features, new features or more aesthetically pleasing environments to work within. User experience is as important as an audiences. It may be the discovery of a new medium is easier to update or enhances the reach and distribution of content. Take this blog for example. I love the Typepad platform. It is contained and very stable, it is also well established. Since creating my first post back in 2007 it has had a purpose, to document my practice and journey. I want it to be about my practice, a place to share my findings and a place to evaluate my progress. This also means I intend it to be read by a certain audience, those who are interested in what I am doing or want to know what I'm up to as a practitioner. I've never wanted it to be a news feed or a revenue generator. I do however want it to reflect my activity across the entire landscape of social media. I want to aggregate my highs and lows, my challenges and celebrations. This is my showcase. But currently it is rather neglected. This is my reflection.

This blog should

  • Report my activities
  • Review my progress
  • Regale my milestones
  • Renew my thinking

This blog should aggregate my activity. As my last post was in August it is at present and resounding failure! Failure is not to be reviled but learnt from and resolved through self discovery. I know I need to formally blog more but I enjoy the adventure, I enjoy the exploration, I love to share.

Where is CJ on the web? The side columns collate some of that activity.

I love AudioBoo. Since getting my iPhone 4 this audio blogging service has released me for my terror of typing text. It has an embeddable widget and can be seen in the column on the right. I can also embed individual 'Boos' in to posts. This is my latest at the time of writing this post.

Audioboo produces excellent quality audio recordings with out having to worry about bad hair days! After recording hit the publish button, take a photo to accompany the post, add a title, some contextual tags even a twitter hashtag before finishing with the save & upload button. AudioBoo autoposts to Twitter so I can share my interviews and personal musings immediately with my Twitter followers. Adding an event hashtag pushes the media to the hashtag stream too. Brilliant. I hope you can see why I love this platform.

AudioBoo also autoposts to Posterous.

I love Posterous. Blogging with nothing more than an email address. It also has a neat iPhone app. The email subject line is the post's title, the body text in the email becomes the blog post content and audio, video and image files can be attached just as you would into an email. Hit send and hey presto you are published. I tend to post event audio and photos there. No great insights just a record of the event for friends who were unable to attend to listen to. Its quick and simple. Posterous content does not feed in to this blog.

Gregg Fraley talks to January's Second Wednesday crowd

The link above is my Posterous post of Photos, Audio captured with LiveScribe and an intoductory sentance to the Second Wednesday event I attended. Posterous has autoposting abilities but I select to cross post manually to Twitter preventing AudioBoo and Posterous making identicle posts. Social Media echos are just so annoying!