Caught in a web of social media

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The best made plans…

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Well, it’s been a rollercoaster ride over the past few weeks – with everything going according to plan and not according to plan at the same time!

As you may, by now, know, I have decided to leave the law and now have to say ‘non-practising solicitor’ a lot more than I ever had to say ‘solicitor’.  It may seem like an odd decision but to me, it wasn’t.  Before I entered law, I worked in politics (as distinct from being a politician) and did a lot of media, PR and marketing work.  Also, I have, since my parents bought our first computer (a Sinclair ZX81) and hooked it up to a small black and white telly may years ago, had a great interest in tech too.

Over the past few years, I’ve had more and more involvement in various campaigns including, more recently, ones like #sHamleys and behind the scenes during the General Election, have spent more and more time giving talks and training on social media and then, a few weeks ago, Klout added me to their list of Top UK social media influencers.  So, it felt a bit as if things had gone full circle and I was loving being back involved in PR.

I have been lucky enough to work with some brilliant clients and some brilliant lawyers in my time as a solicitor.  And I hope to work with them some more in the future on new projects.

But now is the time for a new challenge.

As well as heading up PR and Social Media at A D Holmes & Co in Topsham, I have also set up a PR and Digital Comms agency called Social:haus (actually it’s Social:haus Limited – just to keep the compliance fiends happy!).  The last few weeks have been a whirlwind of activity, putting into place everything from tech kit to strategies to plans to advertising to working with a great developer and a million and one other things as well as getting out and talking to new clients.

Oh and there’s a big online event coming up – details on the Social:haus site and follow @socialhaus over on the Twitter.

I had hoped to blog about this before now but it just hasn’t happened!  As soon as I come up for air, I will tell you more – and I’m also looking forward to getting my camera out as spring breaks across the Exe estuary. And there will be more audio too…

In the meantime, if you’re feeling the Comic Relief love, feel free to take a look at my #TwitRelief page over on eBay – ask a question, make a bid, spread the word, whatever you fancy! :)

Written by James

March 16th, 2011 at 10:44 am

>Like Minds – Controversy and Misunderstanding

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There seems to be a bit of controversy following the Like Minds Conference in Exeter last Friday. I should, from the start, point out that I was one of the people on the stage as part of the panel discussion on building community.
During the event, one delegate questioned whether it had answered the key questions regarding measuring ROI derived from social media. There are, clearly, those who want a ‘formula’ approach to give some numerical answer.
The first and most effective answer had to be what was happening around us on Friday. Like Minds was promoted and advertised solely using social media. On Friday, 200 people turned up to Exeter from across the country and another 600 tuned in online to watch the live feed. Now, maybe I am missing something but surely those people who were in the room or online were proof of concept. They provide us with measurable numbers.
But they do not tell us the whole story. Lots of people joined us via Twitter – we could not measure them. My co-host on PhotoLegal, Phill Price, was one of them – he was waiting for a haircut at the time but got involved and gave us a tweet. He interacted – which was the point of the day. Also, uber-tweeter, Stephen Fry sent us a tweet with his good wishes for the event. People talked about the event before, during and answer. We can’t measure them. We reached people through coverage online and offline – we can’t measure them.
Amongst the ‘unanswered’ questions, so we are told, are:
• How to carry out online campaigns to compliment offline marketing mix
• How to target online audiences, and best engage current customers and new customers
• How to turn customers into brand advocates through social media
Now, we discussed a number of things, one of which was my own subject of the PhotoLegal social media phenomenon. Our online campaign led to offline coverage within industry publications. We indentified, engaged with and nurtured our online audience – actually, we have also showed them the ‘L’ word which Daren Forsyth used and was so derided by some. They are our customers and brand advocates and they have become not only evangalists for the podcast but some have recommended me and my firm to their friends and contacts. They also go to my cohosts, Darren Hector and Phill Price for advice on photography issues. How would you measure the ‘feeling’ that they have towards us and that we have towards them? What would the answer be? 75.3? 26.1? What would it mean? What would it matter?
As someone who has also worked in the PR industry, I know that there are some things that cannot be empirically measured. Print adverts are one of them – you will never know how many people have seen your ad no matter what people say. Brand awareness is also incredibly difficult to measure as people sometimes guess as to whether they know a brand when asked – do you want to be the idiot that hasn’t heard of the latest website No? Then you answer ‘yes’ to the nice lady with the clipboard.
In my opinion, the desire to have ‘numbers’ to justify campaigns is lazy thinking – brand and issue campaigns can take months or even years to come to fruition – and attempting to measure them will prove pretty much impossible (although we could all find a polling agency that could come up with some questions for a fee!).
Sometimes, you need to step back and see and feel what is around you. Sometimes there are no numbers.
From a standing start, we put together a podcast and an ecosystem that has proved massively popular in its particular industry area. What are the percentages? No idea. Nor do I want to rely on numbers. Sure I know how many downloads we have had but it is much more interesting to know the influence we have when we go live and see people sit with us, online, listening, interacting, talking and promoting us without us even asking. It feels right. We have a relationship with our listeners – the best listeners in the world, by the way! When it doesn’t feel right any more, we will know and we will do something about it. We do not need numbers to tell us what is working and what does not.
Now, I know all this sounds a bit defensive and maybe it is. The Like Minds crew put together an amazing conference that proved the importance of social media. The speakers, especially Trey Pennington, Daren Forsyth and Olivier Branchard, did address the ROI questions including why it is difficult to measure, why it may not be right to measure it in ‘traditional’ ways and what other indicators of success there may be.
The conference is now available online via the Like Minds website, so you can decide for yourself. Go and watch it. See what this social media thing is all about and why using traditional methods to measure new media is about as relevant as putting petrol into a horse and cart.

Written by Socialholic

October 19th, 2009 at 8:21 pm

>A Thousand Thanks!

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>Just a quick personal thank you to the thousand and more of you who have downloaded the PhotoLegal podcast. When Darren, Phill and I started recording the podcast just two weeks ago, we had no idea how popular it would be and we certainly wouldn’t have thought that it would have attracted the attention it has.

The current edition of the podcast covers photography in public (and another blog post on that beckons!) and features special guest, Olivier Laurent, News Editor of the British Journal of Photography. The next one will feature Kate Day of the Daily Telegraph and we will be discussing social networks.

Thanks for all your support – and if you haven’t heard it yet, take a look at

Written by Socialholic

May 12th, 2009 at 7:38 am

>Oh the Excitement!

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>After years of blogging on other people’s sites, ghosting articles and the like, I have decided to ‘come out’ (in the blogging sense) and so, henceforth, reviews, comment and the rest of it will be here and on Twitter.

And, I’ll be guesting, as me, on Darren Hector’s excellent Wildlife Photographer podcast talking about legal things (and anything else he wants me to talk about). That’s going to be fab and I am very much looking forward to it.

And (you lucky people), I’m also trying to get together a merry band to do some sort of live blog or nearly live podcast from the Social Networking World Forum.

That live blog will happen in some form of another on here and on Twitter on Tuesday 10 March – so check back here or subscribe to my Twitter feed.

It is difficult to fully express the excitement that this is generating but imagine Christmas when you were about 5 and realised that you might be getting the garage set that you really wanted!

Written by Socialholic

March 2nd, 2009 at 12:55 pm

>An apology – and a call for ideas!

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>Yes, I know! I’ve been a little slack on the blog posting stuff. It’s bad but there is light at the end of the tunnel… hopefully not another train!

The long and the short of it is that I’ve been massively busy with work and family and study and … working on the podcast! It will happen! The hardware is sorted (by that I mean that I got a mic for Christmas – thanks Santa!) and the ideas are forming.

I may be asking for your help too. If you have any cracking ideas, feel free to add comments to the blog and we’ll see what can be included on the podcast. It’s going to be fun, not about anything in particular, just fun. So, if you’re an unknown band that wants some exposure, you’ve got any ideas for new sports or have met a celeb in a chip shop – this is the time to get it off your chest.

I’m also thinking of doing one ‘out’ somewhere at some stage – so you could be there too! I feel that taking over a Starbucks and recording a podcast would be fun! But that’s something for another day!

Onwards and upwards!!

Written by Socialholic

January 10th, 2009 at 10:58 am

Posted in podcast