Lunchtime video from Euan Semple about social networks and business

Now and again we have a lunchtime video session at NativeHQ. Our choices of video tend to have a strong emphasis on technology, innovation and creativity. We love to absorb influences from all over the place, especially as what we do is not a ‘pure discipline’.

This video is a talk by Euan Semple at the Do Lectures in Aberteifi and is called Why social network mess can benefit your business. (Embedding doesn’t seem to be encouraged so you’ll have to visit the Do Lectures site instead.)

Semple only partly answers the title question, in my opinion, but well worth a watch for his anecdotes about getting humans communicating properly in a big organisation.

Talking about digital media at Think Digital Cardiff @tdcardiff

Next week I’m doing a talk about digital media.

I thought I’d put the emphasis on what I think of as ‘all the other important applications’ of digital media like collaboration, online communities, forming groups, user-generated content and so on. If you want an accessible introduction to some of these things then you should consider coming along.

It seems to me that sometimes people automatically associate digital media and social media with publicity, PR and marketing. I think marketing is a legitimate use of digital media, depending on how you do it, but it would be limiting to think of it exclusively as that wouldn’t it? What about all the other useful stuff people are doing online?

So hopefully the talk which I’m working on now will complement the talks by the other speakers. And I think I have a way to tie it all together.

The event is primarily aimed at business owners in south Wales who want to know more about online. It’s called Think Digital Cardiff and is organised by Big Eye Deers who specialise in creating ecommerce sites and web stores for people. Now, there are probably loads of companies who claim to offer these services. Big Eye Deers, while well established, are new to me and would be the Highest New Entry on my chart of favourite companies – if there were such a thing. What I like about them is their eye for detail and their use of open source software.

At the time of writing there are still spaces at Think Digital Cardiff for small business owners and all proceeds from the event go to charity.

The Business of Social Media – a short course with Cyfle

Cyfle have invited us to run our 2-day course, The Business of Social Media again in Caernarfon and Cardiff.

Who
Individuals working in marketing, promotion or development of small and large businesses and organisations.

When
Caernarfon (Welsh medium) 17/18 October
Cardiff (English medium) 20/21 October
Cardiff (Welsh medium) 14/15 November

Details
Many businesses are now using social media to create engaging relationships with people and markets, communicate about products, offer special deals, develop customer loyalty and respond to enquiries and conversations about their brand.

  • How can you use digital media tools to achieve these business aims?
  • How can digital media be used to bring out creativity, tackle problems, enable collaboration, develop audiences and tell stories?
  • Which tools are appropriate for your work and what can they do?
  • How do you go from registering an account with an online tool to using it well on a real project?

Participants will have an opportunity to explore these questions and gain practical experience on the platforms which have people’s attention.

Book a place
To book a place or ask questions please contact caernarfon@cyfle.co.uk or 01286 668003.

National Rural Touring Forum and the quickest way to start blogging #ruraltouring

I’m working with National Rural Touring Forum at the moment. In their words they’re:

the organisation that represents a number of mainly rural touring schemes and rural arts development agencies across England and Wales. Our touring scheme members work with local communities to promote high quality arts events and experiences in local venues.

Just wanted to say a quick word about one aspect of my work which is the new NRTF blog at nrtf.wordpress.com.

Part of my brief was to help the organisation to help its members in the use of digital media when organising gigs and events in villages and rural communities.

While already equipped with a website I thought there was a need for somewhere where we could quickly post news, videos, images and notes from the conference. We also wanted to allow comments and sharing of the posts around the web.

We had to get it online quickly in time for the beginning of the conference. So this time I opted to use wordpress.com.

The blog could have been hosted and accessible from their main domain, in the background running WordPress code from wordpress.org. I am no stranger to installing WordPress code, running completely independently, with all the customisation and design flexibility that brings.

But rather than spend time discussing and planning that and going back and forth with visual design and other issues, I just set the blog up on wordpress.com and added some team members as users so they can post.

I think far too often people agonise over all kinds of comparatively small issues (branding, design tweaks, everything under one domain, what could be possible with the technology) at the expense of the THING which just has to be DONE and available.

In the long run we can still do many things.

Maybe we want to lose ‘wordpress’ from the address to have a more branded name – but make sure any inbound links don’t break. In that case we can use WordPress’ paid service to redirect a subdomain (such as blog.nrtf.org.uk, just an example) to the blog on Automattic’s company servers. Any visitor will not know any differently, other than the neat domain name.

Alternatively, if NRTF build a new website (hopefully using an open source system such as WordPress itself or maybe Drupal) they might decide to include a blog as a section. In that case we can export the content from the posts on the existing WordPress blog and import them on to the new website. Unlike many other web services, WordPress is very good at letting you export your data and move it elsewhere. (Dear web services: if you love someone, please set them free.) We could post one final entry on the existing blog with a link to the new home and a brief explanation.

Or we can just carry on with the blog as it is.

I’m happy that the NRTF team are up and running with a blog, which is probably the quickest way to publish long-form content on the web. They also have freedom, they are not locked into this system, which is important.

The annual gathering of NRTF is about to start in Caerleon, Newport. The hashtag is #ruraltouring. I’m doing three presentations and a social media surgery. So I’ll be pretty busy – but please make sure you say hi to me if you’re attending!

The email charter

This Email Charter – prompted by a blog post from TED’s Chris Anderson (not the Wired/Long Tail author) – is becoming a discussion point around the web and it has some good advice.

We all love the power of email connecting people across continents. But… we’re drowning in it.

Every year it gets a little worse. To the point where we can get trapped spending most of our working week simply handling the contents of our in-boxes.

As a set of 10 short tips it’s a good start and very easily digestible. The first tip is:

1. Respect Recipients’ Time
This is the fundamental rule. As the message sender, the onus is on YOU to minimize the time your email will take to process. Even if it means taking more time at your end before sending.

I’m left wanting more though. I find email surprisingly relevant to discussion of social media tools in the workplace. A major cause of the email problem, as far as I can see, is unthinking and automatic use of email. Very often, email is seen as an all-purpose communication tool, even a to-do list, both of which are wrong. There are other options that work with or instead of email, e.g. a better personal to-do list (so you’re not dependent on other people to organise your time and commitments), collaboration tools such as a wiki and Google Docs, or even a phone call or face-to-face discussion.

‘I simply don’t have the time to try these alternatives’, people say. There’s an anxiety and fatigue  associated with email and sometimes the vague sense of unattended jobs lurking in the inbox.

Ultimately though, if we’re working in the knowledge economy then we’re going to have to grapple with this problem and change the way we do email (if at all), in order to do our work more effectively and win back time for the important things.

Tips on tweaking your text in order to be Google/search-friendly

Here’s a blog post with some useful tips about tweaking your text and pages in order to be found by people searching on Google.

Try running this very specific Google search – “Manhood” by Mels van Driel review – and you will not find the L.A. Times among the results – at least not within first three pages that humans would care to flip through. How come might you ask? Well the answer is simple – there is nothing whatsoever that tells Google that this post is a book review about this particular book…
from ReadWriteWeb

Substitute book reviews with whatever you’re discussing on your own site or blog. Popular tech blog ReadWriteWeb should know. Their search engine optimisation proved to be so good recently that searchers mistook an article about Facebook for Facebook itself.

And here’s another post of tips, from the blog of Google’s Matt Cutts…

Don’t just use technical terms–think about real-world terms and slang that users will type. For example, if you’re talking about a “usb drive,” some people might call it a flash drive or a thumb drive. Bear in mind the terms that people will type and think about synonyms that can fit naturally into your content. Don’t stuff an article with keywords or make it awkward, but if you can incorporate different ways of talking about a subject in a natural way, that can help users.
from Matt Cutts’ blog