Caught in a web of social media

Archive for the ‘Social Networking’ Category

Missing the point about social media

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Firstly, thanks to everyone who posted this morning when I tweeted for recommendations for an electrician/gas person.

To those of you who tweeted links to directory services that show ‘recommended’ tradesmen, you miss the point. The flaw in such directories is that the ‘recommendations’ come from people I do not know or trust. Actually, if I’m being honest, I tend to assume that recommendations on such sites are at least 50% from ‘mates’ to improve the chances of their friends.

The joy of social media is that I can ask for recommendations and then judge them by the people giving me the information. A ‘recommendation directory’ has little more value to me than a phone directory (actually, the phone directory is useful to me because Google, my rabbit, likes ripping them apart).

So, next time someone asks for a recommendation, give a real one. Don’t try to promote your directory sites – that’s just not what social media is about.

It’s a trust thing.

Written by James

October 17th, 2011 at 10:15 am

Social Media, talks, training, Russia, Mongolia, Exeter and places in between

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It is too long since I was last here. In fact, so engulfed have I been doing things all over the place that I’ve only had time to move servers on this blog.

Mongolian Flag

Mongolian Flag by Nick Farnhill

Social Media around the country and beyond

I seem to have been doing things everywhere – at one point, it felt as if I was living on trains to or from London or around the south east. If I can have one slightly unconventional highlight, it will be seeing the Mongolian flag at the University of Hertfordshire where I was doing a talk on libraries using social media at CILIP’s annual conference, Umbrella. The flag was up because the University has a walkway above which is a flag for each different nationality student they have studying there at any particular time. How nice is that?

Anyway, Mongolia’s a stunning place with wonderful people – you should visit it. Seriously!

My only regret when going to Mongolia was that I was not able to spend more time in Russia during my stopover in Moscow. As it was, the stopover was only a few hours. I would have liked to have been there for days not hours!

Which links nicely to an interview that I did with Vitaly Alexandrov, a Russian journalist, when I was in London doing another talk. It is a long time since I have done an interview like Vitaly’s – which is a worry! Vitaly put me at ease far too easily and we talked for hours about social media and culture – the interview should be out soon – I hope I didn’t say anything too controversial!

Exeter’s where it’s at… and Birmingham

But I’m now back in Topsham ploughing through a mountain of things, working out plans for world domination, putting together proposals, working on websites, working on training courses, running social media campaigns, doing PR and more.

Then I’m speaking at LikeMinds in Exeter on 19-21 October and CILIP’s Marketing Excellence event in Birmingham on 11 November. Oh and there’s a course on Social Media for South West businesses to fit in on 4 November too.

So, that’s what I’ve been up to. What about you?

Written by James

September 27th, 2011 at 11:43 am

Techtastic 2011? Please let it get better than Pushnote!

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Hasn’t it been an exciting few weeks in the land of tech?  First Quora hits a PR perfect storm despite being nothing more than a dreadfully self important Twitter wiki without the message length constraint (everybody wants to be first with something big because they missed Twitter – folks, Quora isn’t it!!) and now Twitter Lord, Stephen Fry, launches Pushnote (a start-up he has invested in).

Pushnote is the latest in the deluge of disappointment which is engulfing the web.  Pishnote is described as an extra ‘layer’ on the web where you can leave comments.  And other Pishnote users can comment on your comments.  Imagine the possibilities! *yawn*

I could literally go on Twitter, bring up Pishnote and comment on someone’s Tweet and then someone could comment on my comment to the Tweet and then… oh, wait a minute, I could just do that on Twitter!  Ok, how about on Facebook, someone could leave a comment and I could leave a Pishnote comment… no, that doesn’t work, I could just do that on Facebook. How about a blog? Nope – you can do that either directly or with a dozen other tools.

One idea that has been touted about is to use it to comment on news stories – notwithstanding that news pages are often dynamic and, in any case, many have their own comment apps already.

Other ‘great’ things about Pishnote are that the Twitter integration is flakey and the comments do not thread or add themselves in any sort of logical order (unless you have a sufficiently bad case of OCD that you think that comments should be arranged in alphabetical order by the first letter of the commenter’s name – rather than say, in the order they are posted!).

Pishnote is bad. Let’s make no mistake about it.  Stephen Fry has put some money in it and he was due to launch it today (although that hasn’t happened by the looks of it) – so it is is getting a great reaction from people who are trying to ingratiate themselves with the lovely cuddly polymath.  But a few hundred people wittering about how clever Stephen Fry not only does him no favours, it also does not guarantee the success of something that is quite this awful.

Possibly on some level it was a good idea.  Let’s give it that.  But the reality is that it is awful – bad UI, bad browser integration, bad comment organisation, just bad.

…actually, it’s a bad idea too.

Google Buzz looks like the mutt’s nuts next to this.

Written by James

January 13th, 2011 at 5:00 pm

Trickery or just Stronger Together?

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Over on another blog post, the rather fab @ellisgraphics, made an interesting couple of comments.

Do you really think that cheap flattery, mixed with even cheaper psychology (reverse or not) will get me to click your links? Sometimes I think that the whole social media world are going to disappear up an infinity loop connected to their rear orifices! – ever so slightly tongue-in-cheek, so-to-speak =)

..and a follow up of…

I feel I must follow up my last post [least it be taken in the wrong way] by saying “tell me more!” Having read your post on LinkedIn [ ], I am intrigued as to how we can use collective influence to the good…

Now, it was a fair comment because, in my original blog post (and that over on LinkedIn) I did try to get people to click on my voting link for Fast Company’s The Influence Project.  I think I made it pretty clear what was going on and, on the LinkedIn one, I also gave the vanilla URL of The Influence Project that you could click without voting for me.

The LinkedIn article read as follows:

The Influence Project and… well… combined influence!

Yesterday, I blogged about the Influence Project. For those of you who don’t know, the idea is that FastCompany is trying to measure people’s influence online.

Now, at this point, I could trick you in to supporting me but I’ll be honest instead! I’ll add two links below

1 – is the magazine that’s running the Project; and
2 – – is the link that adds to my influence. I hope to win points from you for honesty!

Feel free to click one! I can only add one link at the bottom of this article and I need to tell you that although it looks otherwise, it is my personal link (the one that supports me) and not the vanilla one! (I would have added both if I could!)

The thing that makes this interesting is that it does have the potential to measure influence. If you click my link, I’ve (to some extent) influenced you to do that. If, however, you click the other one, you hate me and must live with that burning on your conscience! ;)

I think we do not make enough of things like this as a group. We have the potential to cross support each other to show to the outside world the strength of social media in the area and the things we do well. We already have great things in and around Devon like #Tags and LikeMinds and, if we helped each other with things like the Influence Project, then we’d be able to show our combined clout better.

I spend quite a bit of my time sharing links and voting for people but, in a way, it is quite disperate and uncoordinated. I have had great support for two years in the Tweetie awards but it is the lack of coordination and shared resource that I think we could address here.

As a first step, click one of the links (mine, mine!) and join the Influence Project. And add your user name here so we can support you too!

My suggestion is that we invite those of you who are up for things that require votes or clicks to tell people here. I don’t know why it is but I have spoken with some of you before (no names) and there is some kind of … I don’t know quite what to call it but there is something holding people back from posting.

We’re a social network and we a shared resource, a support team for each other. So let’s make the most of that!

Now, there was a reason for posting that over on LinkedIn and, in particular, in the Social Media Devon and #TAGs group.  It was posted in there because, whilst I have seen, originated and participated in a number of cause and charity ‘collective influence’ groups, I have yet to see a really good business one (especially in the UK) – and I want to do something about it.

I would genuinely love to see Social Media Devon and #TAGs use its combined muscle to turn into a business ‘collective influence’ group – to the benefit of all its members and, more broadly, to show the power and widespread influence of businesses in the South West.  The first example, the one that I have used on LinkedIn, is The Influence Project.  The reason is, quite selfishly, that I’m in it and someone needs to start the idea somewhere.

I do not think that the concept is a massively difficult one.  I am doing something (The Influence Project) and need the help of others.  The South Devon Media/#TAGS group has a common interest with me, we (its members) pretty much all know each other and so, I am asking them to use their influence to help me.  Why should they?  Well, that’s a good question!

But, if social media is built on anything, it is based on sharing and helping – combining power and influence.  The very simple concept of Stronger Together.

A lot of the work that I do in social media is with charities and it is about culture. The more advice I give to businesses about this, the more I realise that it’s exactly the same issue! Different cultures (national and regional) use social media in different ways.  For example, I have seen a number of examples of such cooperation mechanisms in the US – many more than I see in the UK.  I believe a lot of that has to do with a reticence to be seen to ask for help in the UK.  Maybe it is a lack of confidence that we have in ourselves, maybe it is the idea that asking for help is a sign of weakness.

I do not believe either of those should stop us.  Having friends who work together is something special and something that should be encouraged and celebrated.  In the charity field, I am immensely proud of all those who have answer the call to arms of Team2Quid.  But why can’t we replicate that in the business field?  When my friends and acquaintances get nominated for things online, I am very happy for them and I will do my bit to help – provided I find out about them.

And there’s the rub – often I don’t find out about them until it’s too late. So, the purpose of the LinkedIn article was a call to arms and a ‘look, I’m not embarrassed to ask and nor should you be’.  Indeed, I’ll even go so far as to say that you should click and vote for me!  And sign up yourself and tell us so that we can vote for you too.

In an ideal world, we will soon have more discussion here and on the LinkedIn group with people asking for help and support for what they are doing. If we can get over the cultural reticence, it will be to our benefit and, if we can, I’ll answer the call. Will you?

Written by James

August 8th, 2010 at 8:19 pm

The Influence Project: Now I get it! Do you?

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After having confessed to not really understanding the Influence Project (yes, a split infinitive – I know, let it go!), I think I now do!

The idea put forward by FastCompany is to use your influence to measure your influence. Or to put it another way, is your tribe of followers full of passive, sausage-roll sucking, remote control hoggers or are they a glamorous, intellectual powerful, lean, mean fighting machine?

If they’re all gorgeous and clever and witty, getting them to click your link will be no problem at all. Indeed, some of them will even have the foresight to share your link – – on their social networks or even click the link and sign up themselves. This will show (I didn’t use the word ‘prove’ there on purpose) that you are engaged with your tribe and they with you and that you help each other out. ;)

Anyway, that’s the theory.

So, to those of you who have clicked the link, thank you! For those who haven’t, what are you waiting for? And for those of you who are intrigued as to where you stand in the interconnectedness of the web, click this and sign up. Now I’ve thought about it, it is actually quite clever – what better way to measure influence than to attempt to influence the result?

I should warn you, the site is a tad slow (something to consider next year, please organisers!) but it is an interesting experiement and one worth taking part in.

And, if you do sign up, don’t forget to post below and we can get a bit of mutual support going! Click on here to support me! :)

Written by Socialholic

July 26th, 2010 at 1:10 pm