Archive for the ‘Blogs’ Category

When we decided to road trip to Detroit and Chicago this summer, I had a great idea: get the kids to blog the trip. I had visions of the boys eagerly using my digital camera and Flip video camera to capture sights and sounds of our trip. After all, my 9-yr-old had really gotten in to using the Flip cam to make videos of hockey moves that he uploaded to YouTube and my younger one always got huge kicks making funny faces for the still camera.

So I created a blog on Blogger in five minutes, sent the link to friends and family to follow along and waited for the magic to happen…

Here’s what I learned:

What worked:

Creating the blog using Blogger – Google owns Blogger so you can create a blog in seconds using your existing Google account. (If you don’t have a Google account it takes seconds to create one.) Blogger let’s you create a private blog that only friends and family can see – something that was important because the kids were taking pictures and videos of themselves that we didn’t want on the open internet.

Letting the kids take as many pictures as they want – Digital pics and cheap memory cards that hold lots of gigabytes mean you can let the kids go nuts and pick the best for posting.

Typing out the words for the kids – While they dictate – the point is to enjoy the blogging and they won’t if they’re struggling with the typing.

What didn’t work:

* The quality of the video captured by the digital camera was terrible. Use a real video camera.

* Getting no comments on the blog so the boys had no sense anyone was reading or cared about it but them and us.

* Posting irregularly instead of, say, every morning or evening.

What to do differently next time:

* Let them try it at home first.

* Post something every day, even if small.

* Get family to leave comments!

* Let them be like MTV vee jays – People like to be taken on video tours with guides (like Rick Mercer) and this is what I’ll let the kids do next time.

If you’ve had success with getting kids to blog please share your secrets.

One of the simplest ways to get started with social media has always been to comment on blogs. This is because it has always had two main benefits:

  • It doesn’t require the large investment of starting your own blog; and
  • you get free publicity by leaving your name and a link to your own web site or blog, which can be substantial if you’re commenting on very popular blogs.

Getting students to comment on blogs, whether within a secure school network or on the open net, is an easy way to give them a taste of the power of creating content that becomes instantly shareable by the world (or the network).

With millions of blogs competing for attention, intelligent comments have always been sumptuous meals to attention starved bloggers. However, Twitter has turned them into diamonds in the rough because many people have apparently given up commenting in favour of retweeting. And since retweeting is a de facto agreement with what ever is being retweeted, thoughtful comments that disagree with thoughtful posts are the ultimate prize.

So how about giving your students the task to leave a comment on a post with which they disagree?

They’ll improve their critical thinking skills, get the thrill of publishing – and make some blogger very happy.

Why it’s important to always look past “survey” story headlines

Last Friday, the Toronto Star online ran a story about a new Angus Reid survey titled, “Newspapers among most trusted media, survey finds.” This headline did what it was supposed to do: got my attention. It did so because it suggested a result contrary to the conventional wisdom that newspapers are dying a fast and richly deserved death. However, upon closer inspection, that contrary result is not so clear. Here’s what the Star quoted from the survey:

Among consumers of all ages surveyed, family and friends were the most trusted source of information, at 78 per cent and 68 per cent respectively, followed by radio at 45 per cent, print newspapers at 41 per cent, online news sites at 39 per cent, television at 31 per cent, print magazines at 28 per cent and finally online social networks and blogs, at 13 per cent and 8 per cent respectively, Reid said.

The problem is that the results confuse “sources” like family and friends with “channels” like blogs and social networks. So the survey tells us lots of people trust their family and friends as sources but ignores the fact they use multiple channels – blogs, social networks, face-to-face –  to communicate with them. If the surveyors are confusing channels and sources then chances are good respondents are too and that makes the results questionable. The other thing that makes them questionable is the respondents are paid. The article says, “Vision Critical [who Angus Reid works with] has developed hundreds of “panels” of people willing to participate in multiple surveys, for which they are paid $1 to $4 per survey”. Last time I checked “random” samples weren’t drawn exclusively from people paid to answer questions.

Look closely before you quote surveys or, more importantly, base marketing and communications decisions on them.

ps. There was no link to the actual survey in the article.

Test post using Ecto for the Mac

Author: Robin Browne

Just tweeted for recommendations for a good Mac-based blog offline editor to replace Windows LiveWriter that I used, and loved, on Windows. Well, @stephenharris replied almost immediately that Ecto was great. So, here goes….

Being Buff goes mobile

Author: Robin Browne

Sometimes I can’t decide what blows me away more, my iPhone or the blogging platform WordPress. Well I just installed a WordPress plugin WPtouch iPhone Theme that makes my blog mobile friendly when viewed on an iPhone or Blackberry Storm and the answer is clear: both are amazing. The iPhone version shows each post in nice, big, clear text with links at the bottom to comment on the post, email it, tweet it, or post it to a news sharing site like Digg or Reddit. I can view posts by category and search by keyword. Everything works fine except the tweeting which only works with certain Twitter apps like Twitterific and didn’t even work with them. Still it’s pretty smooth.
Please check it out and tell me what you think – especially if you have a Blackberry Storm.

Ist post via WordPress iPhone app

Author: Robin Browne

I’m back and focussed on two things: mobile and measurement.
Accordingly, this is my first post written on my iPhone using the WordPress iPhone app (Search App Store for “WordPress2”).
Great to be able to post from anywhere, anytime but I won’t be doing it much because the iPhone keyboard still drive me nuts!
The app is very user-friendly like 99% of the iPhone apps I’ve tried. I can moderate posts (including flagging spam), write new posts and view and edit pages. And it downloaded faster than other apps which already drop at lightning speed.

I’m focussed on measurement because as social media explodes in popularity there will be more and more pressure to use tools without strategy.  Organisations that ensure their social media campaigns are linked to their business goals, have clear objectives and ways to measure those objectives have been met will win.

A few days ago I left a comment on a blog after clicking the blog’s Join The Discussion button and got the common message that my comment was awaiting moderation (waiting for the blog owner to OK it). Then I waited. One day. Two days. Three days.  Nothing. My comment has not been accepted or rejected and I have not gotten any message telling me why. And, without naming names, I’ll just say this is on a blog run by someone very 2.0 savvy and who frankly should know better. On the same page with the button inviting me to Join the Discussion there is a button inviting people to Follow Us On Twitter so I sent the guy a Tweet (a message via Twitter) politely asking him to approve my comment  – and still got no answer. 

The last comment he approved was April 7 so it seems he’s stopped the discussion and this would be OK – if he put a note up saying that, but he hasn’t.

This is one of the top social media worst practices because it makes a promise of conversation that is immediately broken. This turns off experienced social media types but would especially alienate first-timers who have been convinced to try joining the conversation only to find out there isn’t one.

The lesson is simple: think hard before you invite people to join a conversation and, if you do, be prepared to keep it going – or provide a good reason why you’re not. 

Wow. About a year ago I searched Google for “marketing + “social economy”” and my blog wasn’t anywhere to be found. I just did the same search and got this result:

being-buff-google-1-scrnshot

Why is this? Well, it’s the result of a few things that are worth noting if you want to improve your results.

1) I use WordPress for my blog and WordPress automatically optimizes blogs for search engines.

2) WordPress lets you enter a title tag where you can put the key words (and keywords) that people use to search for your stuff. Titles are very important to Google and they are the title that’s used when people bookmark your site. My title contains “Marketing the Social Economy” for that reason.

3) WordPress also lets you enter a description which Google also loves. This is the text that appears just under the link in the Google results.

being-buff-google-1-descriptionscrnshot

4)I blog regularly and Google loves fresh content.

5) I have a niche. I don’t know anyone else focused on marketing the social economy.

The lesson? Consider adding a blog to your site. Yes it’s work – a hell of a lot of work but the cost is minimal and the potential gains in terms of traffic and customer engagement are huge.

As communicators in a global world it’s important to expand our world view by searching out alternative views on the issues of the day. Well, GlobalVoices has some on the issue of this day: Barack Obama’s inauguration. The website is a collection of reports from citizen journalists from around the world and offers perspectives reflecting that diversity.

A case in point is Jillian York out Boston blogging that, "While Arab support of Obama has been waning over the past few months following the selection of his cabinet and his silence over Israel’s attacks on Gaza"…Not something you hear everyday about the new pres…

The site gives you access to the content of bloggers around the world on a variety of topics including, cyber-activism, business, media, internet & telecom, politics, war & conflict, humour and much more.

Always good to get out of the intellectual comfort zone…..

I got paid for this post…

Author: Robin Browne

Ok, no I didn’t but the title is catchy and perfect for the subject of this post: pay-for-post. That’s where someone gets paid to write a blog post and fully discloses that they were paid.

This topic blew up in the social media space after uberblogger Chris Brogan, did a fully disclosed, sponsored post for Kmart on his Dad-O-Matic blog. Lots of people attacked him for taking money to blog. Mitch Joel interviewed Chris on episode #134 his Six Pixels of Separation podcast and asked lots of tough questions making it clear Mitch thought pay-for-post was a bad, failed idea in general – and a bad choice for Chris in particular. I got in to the act with an audio comment, that Mitch played on episode #135, where I defended Chris because he fully disclosed that he was paid for the post. However, I was just listening to #135 where Mitch talked more about this and now I have a more nuanced view.

Mitch’s point was that pay-for-post erodes the credibility of the social media space because you don’t know who’s been bought. If some people aren’t disclosing that’s true but this conversation is about those who do disclose – and that is a really grey area. Here are some questions emerging from the greyness:

1) If a company pays someone to post, the person writes something balanced or even critical, and the company keeps paying them to post – doesn’t that raise the credibility of social media?

2) Does the fact that someone isn’t doing disclosed pay-for-post necessarily mean they aren’t biased? They may have clients that affect what they write that they don’t disclose.

3) Is pay-for-post inherently bad because it means those who can pay can buy exposure whereas everyone else has to earn it?

A great conversation…