Archive for the ‘Digital’ Category . What do new top level domains mean to you?

Got london
Did you know that every 2 letter .com is now taken? With this in mind, ICANN are releasing a whole swathe of new TLDs (Top Level Domains), such as .london, .rugby and even .beer! There are rules and regulations around owning domains like, so here’s what you should know.

You won’t be owning your own .yourname

Unless you’ve got around £200 000 to do so, that is. Domain Venture Partners for instance raised around $400m to get it’s piece of the top level domain pie, so you’ll be competing with them.

There are rules around what you can own

.london, for instance will require your business to be registered in London. This could be a good time to trade under the name you want to secure, to get your hands on You’d need to check with each registrar as to the specific rules (view the list of domains).

They’re released in batches

.london, for instance is open to registration on 29th April. The project in general is a huge undertaking, possibly one of the biggest organisation overhauls the internet has ever seen (or maybe it’s IP V6, but that’s a bit more personal geekery). Check with your registrar as to when you can register your specific interest in a domain. If you’ve a particular domain in mind, Google for the domain you should find registrars to register your interest.

They may not be that useful to many

Especially in the public sector, if you’re bound to a .gov domain. If you’re able to use a .london or .photography domain for a single project, or don’t sit under the .gov umbrella, then it’s wise to think about if it does make you stand out from the crowd, or not. It’s more of a rental property, in the way that the amount you pay each year could vary, and will depend on which domain you go for. I expect .london to sell for around £50 a year.

You could pick up a .diamonds domain though, with them being a girls best friend and all. At £30 a year, a .diamond domain could be your best friend too.

Are you going to be securing your own domain when they become available? I’ve got my eyes on a couple for myself.

Strategy and being punched in the mouth

The end of the financial year is almost here so quite possibly you’re working on a 2014-15 strategy. Good luck to you!

We know strategy is important. Everyone likes to talk about it, especially candidates on the Apprentice.

But for a more considered perspective we could look instead to Sir Lawrence Freedman, author of Strategy: A History and professor at Kings College, London.

It’s almost an hour long and you may not be sat comfortably enough for that right now, so here are my highlights:

Digital marketing problems

With this in mind, what should you be considering for your marketing strategy? Of course every organisation is different, but here’s a few suggestions from me that probably apply to your digital efforts.

1. Attention is moving faster than ever

This chart is from, a link shortener with tons of data about the sharing of online content. You can read the full post, but in short it shows that most content shared online only gets a few hours’ attention.


How can your organisation produce enough content, of enough interest, to sustain people’s attention? How can you produce the right combination of stock and flow content to both provide value and capture attention?

And beyond that, why do you need the attention? How much do you need? What will you do if you get it?

2. Your organisation is vertical, but real people are horizontal

Real people don’t care about your org chart and silos. They just care about the bits of your organisation that help them do what they need to do. And they get frustrated when they have to navigate your verticals. (Think what it’s like when you have to keep repeating your problem to different people on a help line).

Digital has exaggerated this. In marketing terms, people now move in one fluid experience between your owned, earned and paid channels; from website, to banner ad, to email, to what people say about you on Twitter. Any inconsistencies will jar and could affect your credibility and reputation.

So, how can your organisation get more horizontal? Which verticals need to collaborate to create a brilliant horizontal experience for real people? How can you create a bias to horizontal action, rather than vertical bureaucracy? (Much more on this in Joel Bailey’s fabulous A Horizontal Manifesto. I particular like the idea of a switch to people having to make a business case for why something shouldn’t be done.)

3. Digital will punch you in the mouth

As Mike Tyson (almost) said, everyone has a plan until they get punched in the mouth. The complexity and speed of the Internet is like a billion digital fists, so how will you react when one of them takes a swing at your jaw?

Marketing is still stuck in the language of campaigns and plans, predict and control. Humans are notoriously bad planners though so what if it turns out your plans have a glass jaw? Digital marketing needs to be a reactive, ongoing, always-on activity done in collaboration with people rather than to people, and the good news is that digital makes this more possible than ever before.

How will you build adaptability into your strategy? How will you take advantage of the opportunity you can’t foresee now? Perhaps you should adopt the 70:20:10 rule for budgeting? Maybe it’s time to adopt some of the ideas of lean marketing?

Why I’ve quit Twitter



#GoodbyeTwitter.  We’re over.  It’s not you, it’s me.  Well, mostly me.

I still administer the @claremontcomms account, which is thriving.  But since 3rd October @bencaspersz has been languishing alongside 300 million other Twitter accounts in the ‘inactive’ pile.

And, I have to say, it feels good.  Emancipating even.

Years ago I rejected Facebook for personal use.  This has been a bone of contention among certain friends and colleagues, but my reasons are well documented .

Twitter remains a valuable tool for Claremont and many of our clients, but for me personally I have concluded that it is time to say goodbye.  Here are my reasons:

1.  Twitter drains time.  As a new father, this is something I have precious little of.

2.  I was using Twitter for a bloody good rant.  Question Time.  Ed Miliband.  Greedy baby boomers.  EDL meat heads.  Brian Solis.  The list went on and on.  This felt good at the time and would sometimes prompt an amusing exchange with a brother/sister in arms.  But on balance it is a waste of energy.  No one wants to hear my rants, they change nothing and instead of reaching for my phone and composing something suitably acidic, I’ve concluded it is better for everyone if I just take a deep breath and button it.  And relax.

3.  Twitter is great for keeping track of the hot topics of the day, but I don’t feel the need to engage.  Twitter is unbeatable for gleaning insights and quirky angles straight from the horses’ mouths, or simply gauging viewers’ responses to Gogglebox hilarity.  But I don’t need an account for that.  Occasional lurking suits me fine.

4.  Too much information.  For some time now Twitter has been drifting in to Facebook territory; a slurry of inane cack about gym workouts, restaurant starters and countdowns to the weekend/holidays.  Sorry, but no.

5.   Too much public information.  I’m uncomfortable putting so much of my life in the public domain.  If that makes me seem prehistoric, so be it, but I reckon I’ll get the last laugh in the long run.

6.  Twitter destroys day dreaming.  I love day dreaming and people watching.  Before I got my iphone, being a passenger on the bus was an opportunity to let my mind drift, be consumed by my surroundings, free-wheel through the personalities, sights and sounds of London.  But the iphone and Twitter changed all that.  Twitter, I want my downtime back.








What makes a good hashtag?

Hashtag button (Photo by Eclecticlibrarian)

Hashtag Button (Photo by Eclecticlibrarian)

The launch of a new campaign would no longer be complete without giving some thought to the hashtag.

Sometimes the wording of the hashtag is immediately obvious, but for other campaigns it needs a bit more thought.

So what makes a ‘good’ hashtag?

First up, some important rules of thumb…

1. Think action. What is the very essence of what you are trying to achieve with the campaign and what action do you want people to take.  Perhaps you want people to #savebees or help others to #beatcancer. If your campaign’s elevator pitch could have its own elevator pitch, the hashtag is what it would be.

2. Humour works. Adding a little humour will help to engage people with the campaign, making them more likely to discuss the issue and hopefully spread the word. Rather than lamenting the potential pitfalls of using #fracking to release shale gas, perhaps what you’re really wanting supporters to do is to tell the government to #frackoff.

3. Keep it snappy. With only 140 characters to play with per tweet, you don’t want to be using half of those up with the hashtag so the shorter the better.

4. Be unique. Check that your chosen hashtag is not so similar to an existing hashtag that they could accidentally be mixed up. This will make tracking and evaluating your campaign a lot easier.

But what about for those trickier behaviour change campaigns that are at too early a stage to have a crisp, emotive call to action?

1. Focus groups. While you are still in the early insights-gathering stages of the campaign, consider adding possible hashtags as a topic for discussion.

2. Widen you creative net. Rather than brainstorming hashtags with your campaign team, work with a few very small groups of people with different levels of involvement with the campaign issue and see what they come up with.

3. Test out a few possible options in the planning stages of the campaign and see which resonate before settling on one.

Digital Diplomacy – how FCO in Cambodia got 50,000 Facebook fans in a year

Screen Shot 2013-04-09 at 18.08.50FCO recently ran a digital diplomacy campaign in Cambodia to boost awareness of the UK amongst young Cambodians and future decision-makers and grew its Facebook fan base by 24,000%.

Digital Diplomacy

This campaign (though not one of ours!) was a particularly well-executed, and I have pulled out the most relevant themes for organisations looking to use digital in a similar way.

1 – Get the timing right

2012 was a great year to be British. The Diamond Jubilee and the London Olympics and Paralympics showed Britain at its best – diverse, welcoming and outward-looking. From Peter Kay dressed as a beefeater to the Red Arrows’ fly-past and from the Queen skydiving from a helicopter to Jess Ennis, Britain was guaranteed fantastic exposure – piquing interest among expats and Cambodians alike.

2 – Research your audience

Social networks such as Facebook and email marketing tools such as MailChimp provide marketers with more information on target audiences than ever before – but why stop there? FCO in Cambodia made effective use of social media listening and monitoring techniques to research the interests of their target audience (15-35-year-old Cambodians) and adapt content to their interests.

3 – Iterate, iterate, iterate

Launch, learn, adapt, rinse, repeat. FCO in Cambodia posted content to Facebook, promoted it using Facebook advertising and used the data to inform their campaign. Using Facebook in a “lean” way like this drives down costs and means your content gets better and more targeted over time. You should be learning something with every update.

4 – Content first, not gimmicks

Marketing on Facebook does not have to involve creating the next FarmVille. In fact, it’s often better if it doesn’t. FCO in Cambodia found that regular, relevant content that linked British and Cambodian interests in creative ways was the single most important factor in boosting the Facebook page from 200 to 50,000.

5 – But not at the expense of interactive content

People love a giveaway, and Facebook provides a “low-friction” way of entering competitions. FCO in Cambodia cleverly timed giveaways and interactive competitions on Facebook around key events such as London 2012. Timed correctly, your audience won’t see your post as an interruption, but as you “getting involved”. Intuition is key here.

6 – Be a touchstone

If you look at FCO in Cambodia’s Facebook page today, the latest post announces the opening of a Condolence Book in Phnom Penh for Baroness Thatcher. A post like this can act as a “digital water cooler” – an opportunity for people to gather and connect around a certain issue. And that’s exactly how people are using it – to discuss Thatcher’s legacy. Be the glue that holds your community together. Be the water cooler.

Don’t be intimidated by the scale of the challenge

FCO Cambodia has done a fantastic job of punching above its weight with this campaign. Even if it is one of the smallest FCO posts, its page has already become one of the most popular in the FCO network.

It’s a big lesson for any organisation that pitches up on Facebook and sees the digital tumbleweed blowing past. Regular, engaged content – backed by intelligent advertisement spending – can rapidly grow your audience. Nearly everyone on Facebook starts from a low base.

Have you done any marketing on Facebook? What have you learnt? What would you do differently next time?

3 ways that pictures reach places words cannot

Long before the written word even existed, and long long before we communicated by text, tweet and status updates, cave-dwelling humans across the globe used pictures to communicate.

In the last century, images of war atrocities and natural disasters, as well as moments of joy and celebration, helped the rest of the world empathise with happenings on the other side of the globe.

The 21st century may have introduced more methods and channels of communication than ever before, but one thing remains constant: the power of pictures remains engrained in the human psyche making images as important as ever in getting your message across.

But it can’t be just any picture. Here are three different examples of how images can take communications to a different level.

1. Shock

On a recent scan through my Facebook feed, among the many Instagram-enhanced pictures of friends’ children playing in the snow, one image couldn’t fail to jump out:

Foie Gras1

PETA UK are proving that tried-and-tested shock tactics to raise awareness about the process used to make foie gras are just as useful in today’s social media campaigns as they were in the public health campaigns of the 1990s.

2.    Simplification

If the old adage that a picture tells a thousand words is true, any way we can simplify our message will surely be welcomed, especially in the age of information overload. The right image can help our audience to digest information in a fraction of the time.

Alzheimer's Society UK map

With a bit of help from the team at Claremont, the Alzheimer’s Society achieved widespread national coverage by using data visualisation to “map the dementia gap” and bring to life data about dementia diagnoses.

3.    Sillyness

It’s pretty safe to assume that even middle aged men in suits probably find pictures of middle aged men in suits fairly boring.

And so it’s perhaps unsurprising that even the more serious journals are always on the look out for unusual pictures. This includes the BMJ who recently revealed that one of its most popular articles included pictures not of GPs or even skin lesions but…reindeers.

Why is Rudolf's nose red (courtesy of BMJ: BMJ 2012;345:e8311)

From tabloids to serious medical journals, there is a time and a place for a more light-hearted approach and a quirky or unusual picture can help secure coverage.

As these examples show, effective use of visuals is as important as it has ever been in communication. But as communicators we need to remember that a picture isn’t just there to illustrate a story or make it look pretty.

A good image should grab your audience by the lapels and then deliver your message concisely and effectively, reaching people in a way that words alone cannot.

How will you replace Google Reader?

Google’s announcement that they will be retiring their Google Reader will have been met with cries of dismay from newsrooms and PR teams across the country. Although Google cites declining users as the main reason, the simple, free RSS reader was a mainstay for journalist and PRs. The New Yorker’s Joshua Rothman described it as “the first Web site I saw in the morning and the last I saw before bed”.

Even if you don’t use Reader yourself there’s every chance that what you read online is influenced by it – Techcrunch compares Google Reader users to bees who pollinate the social web.

But all is not lost. Although Google Reader will be shut down on July 1st there are other RSS readers that you can start using today – and even migrate your current Google Reader lists and folders too so you can pick up where you left off.

The Verge have a great summary of the best Google Reader alternatives, many of which are better than the real thing.

Top of their list is Feedly, a great looking RSS reader that works in the browser in the same way that Google Reader did. I’ve been using it for the last week and I love it. It’s much more modern looking than Google Reader’s cramped lists. The two things I love about it are mobile apps that are always in synch (so you can catch up on stories on the bus) and lots of ways to share stories I find interesting. 500,000 people made the switch within days.

For power users with hundreds of feeds The Verge also recommend Newsblur, because it allows nesting folders and it’s superduper fast.

Also, Google Reader shutting down might be a good thing in the long run, because it will bring back the competition and innovation that we saw between different RSS readers before it came along. As Instapaper’s Marco Lament says “We’re finally likely to see substantial innovation and competition in RSS desktop apps and sync platforms for the first time in almost a decade.” The first signs of this are emerging as social news website Digg announced a plan to build it’s own Reader.

Are you a grieving Google Reader fan? How will you replace it?

Busting the myths of viral and influence

Hallelujah! The clocks go forward this weekend and maybe, just maybe, we can come out of our long winter hibernation. On Sunday morning the nation will perform the ritual of dial turning and button pressing, and hopefully this year many of us will add the smoke alarm to that ritual having watched this video from safety campaign Fire Kills.

The video has hit The Drum Viral Video Chart (no. 10 spot at time of writing) and shows how hard-hitting, well-timed content can cut through the usual force field people put up to safety messages.

Every day marketers around the world engage in coffee-fuelled brainstorming sessions trying to find some way to fit a skateboarding dog into their message, in the hope that the skateboard of massive people-powered social sharing will carry their dog of a video to Gangnam levels of popularity.

We like to think that if we can just hit upon one genius idea that “influential” people will love then we can achieve the dream and “go viral” as our content is passed from person to person to person.

A new viral research tool from Microsoft suggests they’re (mostly) wasting their time. Jake Hofman and his team used the tool to analyse 1.4 billion tweets. Unsurprisingly the tool shows that most content dies pretty quickly – maybe being passed on once or twice at best – and this applies to Stephen Fry and Justin Bieber as much as anyone else.

Of course Twitter celebrities have huge initial reach so shouldn’t be discounted all together but, as previous research has also shown, it can be equally cost-effective to focus on a large number of ordinary people. This means you then need to think much more about designing content for social effects, such as our tendency to copy others and seek out what’s popular as a shortcut to decision-making. It also means giving serious thought to how to achieve scale by combining paid media with social media (h/t Brilliant Noise).

What is a marketer to do then? My advice is to think less like the Old Spice guy and more like Pete Sampras.

The Old Spice guy was a huge viral hit, fun, and a great campaign. But it was a hole-in-one, a trick shot that came off and looks great in the highlights film. You would never aim for a hole-in-one with every shot. Now Pete Sampras wasn’t the most extravagant tennis player, but he was a consistent winner. He played the numbers, getting first and second serves in consistently whilst hitting the winners when the chance arose.

So by all means keep the great ideas coming, but make sure you know your numbers too, for example:

  • What content gets most engagement on your Facebook Page?
  • Who mentions you most and who shares your content most?
  • What source drives the most sign-ups to your newsletter?
  • What is the cost of reaching enough “ordinary influencers” to achieve the reach you need?

What are the most important numbers for your communications effort?

The new old fashioned way: how digital is going physical


Startups like Stickygram, Stichtagram and Newspaper Club are making digital go physical, reconnecting us with physical artifacts.

Three years ago, a trip to Tokyo brought into sharp focus the profound impact converging smartphone and cloud technology is having on our lives – and made me question how much it is costing us.

As soon as I got back to the UK, I pulled out my iPhone. Each and every one of my photographs from the trip was stockpiled in the phone’s memory, tagged by GPS and plotted on a map.

The strange thing about the trip was that, to this day, I still don’t have ny physical photos of it. It’s all on Google+ (previously on Picasa).

Every day, more than 300m photos are uploaded to Facebook. From party snaps to wedding photos, that’s one photo every three days per person on Facebook. And that makes me feel a little icky.

evernote-app-book-computer_pan_14578 Phil Libin, CEO of Evernote, recently said in a BBC interview that he wanted “Evernote to be the place where you capture all your important memories.” Evernote is, he argues, the “secret to eternal youth.”

But browsing through old photos on Facebook, opening up a note on Evernote or clicking through 2009′s New York Times will never match their offline equivalents for emotional resonance.

And what if, one day, Evernote or Facebook is no longer profitable? Many people woke up last week to find that Google Reader was heading into the sunset, hot on the heels of Posterous. Oh sorry, did you have a blog here?

Thankfully, it doesn’t have to be like this. Digital technology is increasingly enabling us to move our memories between the physical and the digital – and back again.

hi-res-2 Products like Stickygram and Stitchtagram are merge the physical and digital by enabling people to to turn their Instagram feed into personalised fridge magnets and cushions respectively.

For those that like inky fingers, Glasgow startup Newspaper Club uses the downtime on large news presses to allow anyone to design their own short run newspaper. One for enterprising job candidates perhaps?

Even Evernote, the doyen of digital notepaper, has got in on the act. The design of Evernote’s Smart Notebook is a modified Moleskine diary that enables smartphones to capture sketches and handwritten notes in a way that can be subsequently be uploaded back to Evernote.

Soon, the boundaries between the digital and the physical world will break down entirely – creating fantastic opportunities to delight and engage for organisations that can move seamlessly between the two.

If a lot of your service users value is locked away in bits and bytes – it might be time to think about giving some of it back. Even if it means being a bit old fashioned.

The future of marketing? Look no further than JOHNNY CUPCAKES – the upstart fashion brand showing the big boys how its done.




Have you ever heard of Johnny Cupcakes?  Well if you are a marketeer, then it would be a good idea to get up to speed.

Johnny Cupcakes is an upstart fashion brand originating in the USA, specialising in skater-rock-punk imagery splashed across t-shirts.  Famous for its gloriously detailed packaging (t shirts are sold in black and silver muffin boxes) and shop fittings that resemble working bakeries, the brand has cult status among its fans that is matched only by the likes of Nike Air Jordan and Hello Kitty.

What’s special about Johnny Cupcakes is the way in which the brand has developed a super loyal community of customers. Meetups are frequent. Special edition clobber is happily traded at crazy prices. The internet is awash with pictures of customers adorned with Johnny Cupcakes tattoos.

Driven by social media, the company’s shop openings draw crowds thousands strong. Product is only sold directly to consumers via the website and their own shops, never via third parties, which enables the company to completely control the brand experience and maximise margins. Advertising budgets are nil; PR and social media drive awareness and pique customer loyalty.


The company has come a long way since 2001 when t-shirts were sold at concerts out of suitcases.  With high profile retail outlets in New York, LA and Boston, the brand has recently made a move in to London’s Carnaby Street. But it’s clearly the website that sees the most action. A recent collaboration with Hello Kitty generated $250,000 of sales in a single weekend before crashing the servers through the sheer weight of traffic.

The founder Johnny Earle is a hyperactive brand ambassador. On his first visit to London his first move was to tweet to his 75,000 followers that he is heading to Primrose Hill to hang out with his customers. Several hundred showed up. This week he staged a two-hour lecture for 400 customers/fans in the West End (sold out at £10 a ticket), telling his life story and evangelising on how to make it in business. At one point he asked the crowd to raise their hands whether they’d ever had a conversation with a stranger purely because they were both wearing Johnny Cupcakes gear. The whole room indicated that they had. Johnny Cupcakes manages to make customers feel that they are not just buying a t-shirt, but that they are gaining access to a like-minded community.


At the moment Johnny Cupcakes remains a truly authentic homespun brand with all garments made in America and the firm employing most of Johnny Earle’s friends and family. This may not last. The brand has global ambitions, which may eventually strain the core offer of ‘grassroots authenticity’.

But for now Johnny Cupcakes is a trailblazer brand, showing how its done with community-based marketing, direct retailing and truly innovative branding. This is the future.


Listening and Monitoring for CommsCamp


Last week we sponsored and attended CommsCamp, an unconference for public sector communicators. We had a great time and you can read plenty about what other people had to say about it in this round-up of CommsCamp.

We ran a session on Listening and Monitoring in Social Media that was pretty well received so here are the slides and notes for you and anyone who was there.

  1. This is a taster class from our Social Media School. It’s all about how to listen and monitor in social media using cheap tools and a few simple techniques
  2. And a lot of those techniques we can learn from internet dating
  3. Except we’re going to be very promiscuos, we’re trying to meet a lot of people in order to find our true loves
  4. So here’s the structure for the class
  5. Let’s start with a bit of planning first; although many of the tools are free your time isn’t so we need to have a plan so we’re making good use of our time
  6. Here’s the suggested elements of a strategy. A key point to remember is the optimisation – this will be an iterative process; you won’t get it right first time. So plan to review and improve as you go
  7. There are a whole bunch of reasons you might want to listen and monitor. If your organisation is just getting started with social media then it’s a great low-risk way of dipping your toe in the water because you can just listen without having to say anything
  8. I love lonely hearts ads and here’s a fine example. With such a small space to express your desires the writer has to really think carefully about the signals they’re putting out and who they’re trying to attract. We can take inspiration when it comes to finding our true love in listening and monitoring
  9. So, write your lonely hearts advert for the people you’re trying to find in social media. Think about:
    1. Who are they, how can we identify them in the crowd?
    2. What are their passions and interests? What do they talk about and how do they talk about it? This is critical – we don’t want to end up with nothing to say on that first date
    3. What are your passions and interests? What do you want to talk to them about?
  10. This is all really a way to think about the building blocks of your listening and monitoring: keywords. The lonely hearts advert exercise was quite quick but in reality you may spend a whole day coming up with a long list of possible keywords to start with. To speed that process up, and to find better keywords, we can borrow some techniques from search engine marketing
  11. Google Trends is a free tool that gives us access to all the data that Google has on what we search for and, therefore, what we’re interested in. It’s real strength is comparing the interest in different topics and seeing how that interest changes over time. Here’s an example showing the relative interest in Eastenders and Coronation Street over the last 12 months. We can use Google Trends to test our keywords to see if there is any interest in them or whether there are alternative keywords we should be using instead
  12. This is Google AdWords keyword tool. It can do similar things to Google Insights except it can also give us an absolute number of searches, e.g. 800,000 searches for Coronation Street last month. The aim of using these tools is to come up with a shortlist of keywords that you think is a good match for the kind of language used by your target audience in social media
  13. Now we’ve done our keywords it’s time to head out on some first dates. We need to think speed dating here; we need to get through a lot of people and quickly decide whether they’re worth a second date
  14. The most useful tool for our speed dating is search engines. Everyone is familiar with Google but not everyone knows that you can filter results to focus on social media such as Blogs and Discussions (e.g. Mumsnet, Money Saving Expert)
  15. We can also use social search engines like Topsy and Social Mention that focus solely on social content. These are useful because they help us find out where conversations are happening, for example it may be clustered around a particular news story that people are sharing. Remember, we need to work fast so scan results quickly in order to:
    1. Validate your keywords. Are you finding the kind of conversations and people you hoped to find?
    2. Learn where the conversations happen
    3. Get a quick sense of sentiment around your chosen topic
  16. Remember to check out the advanced search options as this can really save time
  17. If things go well you should be starting to build up a shortlist of people who regularly talk about the things that are of interest to you. If you’re not finding what you hoped for you may need to revise your lonely hearts advert. A particular challenge can be finding local conversations so you may need to think laterally e.g. local places, famous local people
  18. Now it’s time to do a bit of background research on your shortlist. Influence is a hot topic in social media as we may want to save time by only listening to influential people, however the methods for measuring this are still in their infancy
  19. Part of the problem is how do we define influence in a way that computers can understand
  20. Services like Klout are trying to crack this by giving people an influence score out of 100 based on their use of social media. Klout divides opinion so give it a go but be aware of the various downsides
  21. And here’s PeerIndex, which does a similar thing
  22. If you’re trying to do a background check on a blog then take a look at Alexa instead
  23. Remember though that your best tool remains your brain, which has been developed over millennia to ascertain who’s influential. Ernest Hemingway once said that “every man needs to have an internal crap detector” – all the more vital today
  24. Hopefully things go well and you’ve built up a list of keywords and people who are just what you’re looking for. Now we need to turn this into a resource that you can get value from every day
  25. If your keywords worked really well you might want to use Google Alerts to receive regular email updates every time Google finds new content that matches the keywords you give it
  26. If you want to monitor lots of different sources you may want to consider a dashboard such as Netvibes. Simply enter your keywords, select your sources and you can create a single page that pulls it all together rather than having to go from place to place
  27. If you’re a Twitter fan then Tweetdeck might be for you. Tweetdeck is very good at helping you focus on particular relevant Twitter content. For example, you can create a stream of people related to a particular topic or a stream of results based on a keyword or hashtag
  28. Hootsuite does a similar job and also allows you to create multiple tabs, so really useful if you need to keep an eye on lots of different topics and people
  29. Lastly, it’s worth thinking about a process for deciding when you’ll engage with all these people you’re listening to. It will save you a lot of time and help make things consistent if you’re working in a team
  30. Thanks very much. This was just a taster so please go take a look at the full Social Media School

Boost your PR in 2013 with content marketing and SEO


Content marketing is enjoying a renaissance as the likes of Edelman, Smart Insights and Econsultancy pick it out as one of the trends of 2013. If you’re serious about being a credible source of expertise in your sector, the ability to create high-quality, shareable content is critical.

It’s also critical to visibility. Recent changes to Google’s search rules take social shares into account and reward natural, engaging content for humans over the keyword-stuffed blogspam for computers that some “search gurus” recommend.

Generating highly creative, shareable content is time consuming though – so how do you find the time, get the message right and stay within the law?

Having decided that I need to pull myself up by my Bloggerstraps, I sought some advice from Paul Wilkinson’s webinar, Powerful Blogs on the CIPR website (you may have to pay to view if you are not a CIPR member).

And where better to start than sharing with you what I learned.

  1. Think long-term – decide what outcomes or reactions you want. Is it to become an opinion leader and create media opportunities, to create a discussion forum or to drive people to relevant sources of advice or information? This will help you to decide content.
  2. Stay relevant to your audience – by staying on topic and posting useful information and opinion regularly, you will build an audience that engages with you; word of your blog as a source of expertise or information will spread.
  3. Be real – blog posts need to express the genuine opinion of the author or describe an authentic event or situation the author encountered.
  4. Concentrate on good content – keep posts lively with a mix of media if possible. Photos, film, graphs and links to other sites make for more interesting and popular posts.  Remember to acknowledge external sources of your content.
  5. Find a friend – make it a team effort to post stories and content – create clear internal protocols and sign-off procedures, but encourage people in your organisation to share their work-related stories and activities online. Invite guest bloggers.
  6. Keep it short and to the point – setting a word limit for each blog post often helps get you started – a blog post of 100-250 words is fine.
  7. Post regularly – getting started can be hard and maintaining momentum can be harder but if you build an ‘ideas list’ and plan ahead, the job becomes an awful lot easier.
  8. Be responsive – if people take the trouble to comment, you should reply in a timely way.  If a conversation or debate gets started, let people talk to each other, don’t feel you have to comment on every post or referee. This could be the start of an important discussion forum, so let it develop. Monitor your feedback.
  9. Drive traffic –share your content with a link on Facebook and Twitter, put the photos on Flickr and Pinterest, film on You Tube, add a link to your email sign-off and e-news, put it on your business cards, re-post to other relevant blogs and online communities. Link to other sites and set up a ‘blogroll’ – other bloggers will link back to you.
  10. Stay out of trouble – act within the law and with honesty and integrity, avoid conflicts of interests, don’t get personal and consider a disclaimer.  The CIPR Social Media Best Practice Guide is a useful source of information.


Social media photos: 4 inspiring examples and 8 tips

300 million. 300 million a day? Yep, 300 million photos are shared on Facebook every single day. Printed at a standard 6×4 inches and laid end-to-end that’s enough to circle the Earth and still have 3.7m left over. Social media photos are big.

There’s little doubt that social media has gone all visual. The 140-character tweet has recently been joined by the 6-second video; Facebook has released its own camera app; and image-collecting service Pinterest grew 1,047% in 2012.

This is partly a response to massive changes in people’s photo-taking behaviour. One in three UK consumers say the camera they use most often is their mobile phone. Smartphones now account for just over half of UK mobile phones, with 78% of users taking photos with them.

So any social media content plan that doesn’t including images is really only getting half the picture (sorry!). Here’s some inspiration to get you thinking visually.

Obama campaign has timing and heart


This image of the Obamas celebrating election victory last November is the most shared photo in history with half a million retweets in under 8 hours and 3.1m Facebook Likes in 12 hours. What can we learn?

  • Timing is key – the election result was the biggest news on the planet and this was the first public acknowledgement of victory from the Obama team.
  • Emotion trumps logic – this is a romantic image that focuses on the Obama’s marriage. Barack Obama’s closes his eyes as he embraces his wife, and the plain background creates an iconic image and a total focus on the couple.

Oreo creates expectation and share-ability


Oreo’s Daily Twist campaign drove a 110% increase in engagement with their Facebook content. The campaign, which ran for five months, featured a new image every day inspired by current events or anniversaries. The lessons are:

  • Have a project – rather than sharing random individual images, develop a theme from a core idea and see where it takes you. It will challenge you to be more creative and it will create expectation from followers.
  • People want to share, so give them something fun – not once did Oreo ask people what they thought of Oreos, or ask them to buy Oreos. The focus was 100% on making images that were fun and shareable.

London Fire Brigade plays the system


Young men are the main audience for the London Fire Brigade’s Facebook page, so how do you keep them interested? One of the ways is a weekly “What caused this fire?” photo that creates lots of comments and Likes. Why does this work?

  • It passes the “bus stop” test – often people are on Facebook to pass the time, maybe while they’re waiting for a bus to turn up. In this way LFB’s photo is in the same bracket as Sudoku or Words with Friends – a bit of fun to pass the time.
  • It increases the reach of the safety message – this is the clever bit. Because it’s just not possible for everyone to see all of the content shared with them on Facebook, a system called Edgerank is used to decide which content you’re most likely to want to see based (partly) on past interactions. By engaging people in this photo it makes it more likely that they (and their friends) will see the subsequent safety messages.

Walsall Council create social photo opp


This is the Walsall group on Flickr, where people who take photos of Walsall share them with each other. Walsall Council approached the group with a proposal: free use of the images for the council in exchange for access to restricted sites for the photographers. So what’s the deal?

  • Build on your community – chances are that your fans and followers are already taking photos and they’ll be happy to join in if approached with respect and a genuine wish to create something together.
  • Create social photo opps – it’s no longer about a photo opp just for the pros from the media. Think about how you can create photo opportunities for fans, followers, people who attend your event, people who use your service. People want to share what they’re up to so give them that chance and you’ll be rewarded with free, authentic publicity.