Ok, so anyone who knows me knows my love for comics. So it should come as no surprise that this trailer excites me more than any other trailer I’ve seen in years.
Seriously people. Cannot. Wait.
Ok, so anyone who knows me knows my love for comics. So it should come as no surprise that this trailer excites me more than any other trailer I’ve seen in years.
Seriously people. Cannot. Wait.
Yesterday was an important day for me, with the launch of my new venture, Conversation Media. I thought I might as well give a bit more background to how this affects me and my current job, as a lot of people seem to be drawing conclusions that aren’t all that correct.
I’m currently employed full-time as an SEO Executive for a fairly large online travel group. This is an in-house position, and from Monday – Friday, 8am – 5pm, I’m there. That’s my focus, and that hasn’t changed.
I feel that there’s a lot more that I can offer to SMBs though, and I’m really keen to share my knowledge with businesses looking to engage and communicate with their customers online. Which is where Conversation Media comes into it.
Conversation Media was really just a name that popped into my head one day. I’d been feeling slightly… well, unsettled. I knew that there was something more out there for me, something more that I could offer. I’ve been through this once before, when I launched Elite SEO.
The problem with Elite SEO, as I see it, is that SEO is changing.
While there will always be a need for good search engine optimisation, I feel that straight SEO as a standalone service is on its way out. Simply put, a lot of what most people would call “SEO” is now becoming a process that can mostly be automated. And I’m watching that happen, right in front of my eyes.
So I took a step back, and took another look at exactly what had got me interested in SEO in the first place. And from that objective distance, I managed to realise that it wasn’t strictly “SEO” that I’d fallen for, back in the day… it was the marketing side of things. Online Marketing. I mean, it’s right there in the name, isn’t it?
And the bit about marketing that I love? Communicating. Establishing that connection between a brand and its customers. Helping them grow closer together, and form a relationship.
Entering into conversations.
And there it was. Conversation Media.
So Conversation Media is now my freelance venture, where I offer my SEO copywriting and social media marketing services to SMBs, or – quite frankly – anyone who needs help engaging their customers online. And while I’d one day love for this to be my sole employment, for now it’s an additional source of income supplementing my current in-house SEO position. After all, there’s 24 hours in a day. I intend to use each and every one.
So, if this sounds like something you’d be interested in… why not get in touch?
Ok, enough is enough. Over the last few months, I’ve noticed this trend getting worse, and even – unthinkably – worse from there. Everyone on twitter these days seems to be a “social media expert” in their own heads. And I’m not only talking about the people that actually label themselves as “social media gurus” (hell, that’s such an easy target it’s not even fun anymore), but the average Joe Blow on twitter who now feels they know more about how companies should behave in this “new, social, community world” than the marketing managers’ of the companies themselves.
Now, don’t get me wrong. I’m as big a believer as the next guy that the world has changed, and that marketing has to change with it. And yes, communities are more important than ever. I get that. Hell, I’ll stand by your side when you say it.
But, while that may be true, that does NOT make you an expert on how businesses should conduct themselves.
Because twitter limits you to 140 characters, it’s easy to throw out sound bites that sound catchy and insightful, but then conveniently never have to elaborate on those sound bites. It’s nice to hide behind that character limit, isn’t it?
Yeah, you can ask a business, “Hey, why aren’t you building a community? Why aren’t you taking an active interest in what people out there are saying?”. It’s easy to ask those questions, without having to actually wait around to answer them.
Here’s a tip: if you haven’t been involved in marketing a particular business, don’t presume to know how they should get involved. Or if they should even get involved in the first place. The truth of the matter is that – while it would be nice if every business could communicate more, in an open forum – for some businesses, there simply might not be enough return for them to justify that outreach.
That’s the thing that gets to me. A lot of people think it costs nothing to be open, interactive and “transparent” . Let’s be clear here kids: it does. Whether you want to accept it or not, it does.
So here’s what I have to say: Cut it out.
Unless you have actively been involved in putting together, and – more importantly, in my eyes – actually implementing a “social media plan” for a brand, AND unless you’ve pulled it off successfully, your word counts diddly squat.
Plenty of the people I’m speaking to in this post seem to have developed huge followings. And what worries me is that all they have to do is keep talking loudly until people believe them, without looking into what they have actually done. I’ll repeat this again, because it bears repeating: If you haven’t actually done anything, your word counts diddly squat. Talking does not equate doing.
So, in the end: sure, there’s no harm in putting your suggestions out there. If it makes sense to the business, they just might use it, and you can feel happy knowing that you’ve made the world a better place.
But please don’t harp on about how this company or that company “doesn’t get it”. How do you know they don’t get it? Are you employed by the company? Do you know the inner workings of how decisions are made in the company? Do you have access to their financial records? Do you know their main sources of revenue? Do you know exactly and unequivocally, down to the cent, that your suggestion would make them more money than would be spent to implement it?
I doubt it.
Cut it out.
Just watched the trailer for the “Lemonade” movie, and damned if the things doesn’t look inspiring. According to the official site:
“More than 130,000 advertising professionals have lost their jobs in this Great Recession. Lemonade is about what happens when people who were once paid to be creative in advertising are forced to be creative with their own lives.”
Yeah. It doesn’t read like much until you watch the trailer. Which is, as I say, totally inspiring. Oh, that, and there’s some seriously “Explosions in the Sky”-influenced music in the background. Which pretty much equals cool for me.
Trailer embedded below…
First 3 people who leave a comment on this post requesting one get ‘em… I have more than I know what to do with!
So unless you’ve been living underneath a rock for the last few days, you’ll have heard that Twitter is rolling out its new retweet settings. If not, I really encourage you to read Ev’s post, as it gives a great rundown on the reasons behind the change, and some hints at what will come in the future.
However, one of the things that I personally found most interesting from the post was Ev’s discussion of the “redundancy of tweets”, and how this new format will tackle the problem. Ev states that:
And because they’re trackable, we can take care of the redundancy problem: You will only get the first copy of something retweeted multiple times by people you follow.
Now, I think this will have more of an effect on promotions run through Twitter than most people realise. A bog-standard competition “format” that you often see floating around Twitter is the “Retweet this to go into the draw/win this fantastic prize”. Hardly original, it’s true, but I’d say 80% of the competitions I see run through Twitter have this in their requirements in some form.
With the new retweet format being rolled out, those competitions will hardly be as effective… the brand will get less exposure (instead of being broadcast multiple times, the tweet will only be broadcast once, with attribution to those who have retweeted it below) and it makes me wonder how the virality of certain tweets will be affected.
What do you think?
So Razorfish have just released their FEED ’09 Report, and all I will say is: you should be reading it. If you’re at all interested in how consumers are engaging with brands in the new digital world, then this is for you.
The report has some great outtakes, but one I would like to highlight is this:
But, according to our study, consumers don’t want a conversation with brands—they want deals. Of those who follow a brand on Twitter, 44% say access to exclusive deals is the main reason. The same holds true for those who “friended” a brand on Facebook or MySpace, where 37% cite access to exclusive deals or offers as their main reason.
I think this is something that a lot of so-called “social media gurus” should pay attention to. It’s fine to say “It’s all about engagement. It’s all about conversations. It’s not about selling“, because often, it isn’t. But don’t repeat that mantra on blind rotation. Because sometimes, just sometimes, people are after deals. And that’s nothing to be ashamed of.
I’ve said this before in an unrelated discussion, but while we (people interested in social media) often harp on about how “this promotion” or “that promotion” misses “the point of social media”, I’ll say it again: generally speaking, we are not the average audience, people. We need to step back and see things from the eyes of the average consumer. Because, ultimately, that’s who the brand is going to be targeting.
Other points to take home from the FEED 09 Report? It’s all about the experience. But we always knew that, didn’t we? The technologies may come and go, but keep it about the experience, let consumers associate you with a positive mindframe… and everything just falls into place from there.
Anyway, go read it.
… to Oswald, aka Ozzie… the best dog in the world. Somewhere up in heaven tonight, a little sausage dog is chasing a large squeaky bone up and down endless fields.
You’ll be missed Oz.
Thanks to Run Level Media, you and I can watch Chris Brogan’s recent presentation at New Media Atlanta. It’s just over an hour long, but well worth a watch if you’re working in-house and at all interested in “selling social media to the higher-ups”. Below, the video embedded…
Some of the highlights, for me? (times are approximate, blip doesn’t exactly cater to those looking to jump to a certain time point in a video)
– 7m30: Chris mentions a brand who “dedicates” “50% of one person, and 3 interns to managing their social media presence”. This situation just resonates with me. I’m glad to hear others are in the same boat. The cost of the fallout of only allocating a makeshift resource could be far more than paying a full time wage. Just sayin’ is all.
- 16m30: “We’ve all been in the bullhorn business. It’s time for the telephone”.
- 19m20: “Not every company has to blog. Not every company has to be on Facebook or Twitter. Stop saying that”.
- 21m35: Don’t get too caught up in these “games” (facebook, twitter, blogging etc). “It’s all chips. When you get a win in these games, pick up the chips and bring them to the next table. Stop playing the little game”.
- 26m30: “Be at the elbow of every deal… You know who gets a lot of business opportunities? The person who is known for connecting people”.
- 30m30: “Give your ideas handles… make it easy for other people to pick your ideas up, and make the their own ideas” (something I’ve discussed before)
- 45m00: Bring ROI back to a $ amount. Don’t fall into the “shiny sword” syndrome.
Q & A Section
- 49m00: “How do you stand out when everyone is shouting ‘Look at me, look at me!’? Don’t be the same. Say, ‘Look at them’ (connect people) or ‘Look at this cool thing I made that is going to benefit you’.”
Those are just a few of many highlights, but I’d really suggest watching the whole thing of you have the hour to spare. You won’t regret it. While there were a few points (particularly how to demonstrate ROI) that I wish had been devoted more time, but you take what you can get, y’know?
So, recently I was looking through my Google Webmaster Tools account (which you really should be using you know, if you want to learn more about how Google views your site), and came across an interesting URL in my “404s” list. I’ve blanked out the name of my domain, but the URL that threw up the 404 was as follows:
Now, this concerned me… because I had never, never heard of this URL on my site before. Where the heck would that have come from? So I went and started doing some searches… and this is what I found:
So, to me, there are some warning flags being thrown up here. There are over 15,000 indexed pages showing up with that URL string. And something about that simply doesn’t sound right.
I threw this out on Twitter last night, and the always helpful Angie (@AngsCopywriting) pointed out to me that if you looked at the Google cache of the site “SpeedTV.com” (one of the sites effected) and scroll to the bottom, you can see a link containing the offending anomaly (click to see larger image)…
Also, if you go to the site mentioned in the URL (Atoall.com), you can see that it looks… well, less than savoury. Actually, you know, I was going to just nofollow the link to it, but I’d rather not even go that far… I’ll just paste the address here in plain text: http://atoall.com/New.html… up to you whether you visit or not. That page is SFW, but I can’t guarantee the same for the rest of the site, especially with links like “Hot Girls Pics” and “Hot Cute Boy Images” linked off of that page. Use your own discretion.
So, here’s my question: Have you checked into your Google Webmaster Tools account recently? Seen anything suspicious like this showing up? I know of at least one other friend who has had the same 404 show up on his site, so I’m thinking there’s a good chance if you’re reading this, you might have found it looking for answers to the strange “Atoall.com” query. If you have had experience with it, please share your insights below. All I know is… something doesn’t smell right here.
This probably won’t make sense to anyone else reading this. While blogging is all about sharing, if we’re honest, it’s also often a selfish act… recording thoughts to reaffirm our own existence and own memories to ourselves, if not others.
This is probably one of those posts. Like I say, it’s not likely that it will make sense to anyone else. But, to me, I want to put this down in case I ever forget it again. Because this memory, for whatever reason, popped into my head the other day, and it’s making me smile like I haven’t in quite some time.
A good few years back… ooh, I guess we’d be saying at least 6 or so… Rita Marley and the I-Threes came out to tour South Africa. At the time, things in South Africa were changing. If I’m right when I say this was 6 years ago, that would make it 2003, which would have been 9 years after the ANC, and with it, South Africa’s first black president, Nelson Mandela, came into power. While it had nearly been a decade, South Africa was still struggling with integration.
All this is a preamble to saying that when my mother, her partner, my sister, myself and my girlfriend at the time went to the Bat Centre at Durban Harbour to watch Rita and the I-Threes, we were the only white faces there.
Now, to set the scene… the Bat Centre at the harbour was one of my favourite places. You wouldn’t know it, going by the surroundings. The harbour was dirty as hell, rubbish littered the parking lots, used condoms and mountains of cigarette butts were everywhere, there was the pungent stench of urine from pretty much every corner where a human body could sleep the night away… and then there was the Bat Centre. Amidst all the squalor, was this Centre where the arts thrived. There were art workshops every weekend, and throughout the week you could see artists like Syd Kitchen (whom I’ve mentioned here and here before) expanding your mind.
In short, I loved the place. But it wasn’t exactly a place where you could forget the issues in your country’s past.
The Bat Centre in Durban
So, we’ve gone along to watch Rita. She was performing an outside show for National Woman’s Day, and the car parking lot for the Bat Centre was chock-full with patrons coming along to watch.
Now, at that time in my life, I was slightly unsure of myself. Not so my girlfriend at the time. It seems, looking back throughout my life, I’ve always been attracted to strong, confident women. Perhaps that says something, but that’s for another post. Getting back to the point, my girlfriend at the time was a swedish girl called Teddie. The typical Swedish stereotype… aryan looks, long blonde hair, crystal blue eyes and tanned year round, no matter what. And as Rita and the I-Threes kicked into their first tune, Teddie jumped right into it, and dragged me along into the whirling masses of bodies. Within a few seconds, we were jiving around hundreds of rastas to the sounds of some of Bob’s best tunes.
And soon, Teddie and I were separated. And there I was, this slightly uncomfortable white kid, dancing in amongst a sea of black faces. And I don’t say that for any kind of shock value (gasp! mentioning race?!), I mention it to give some context to the time. It might be hard to understand for those of you who weren’t in South Africa at the tail end of Apartheid, but the fact is that even if you yourself weren’t a “racist”, the history of racism had bred an uncomfortable “difference” between South Africans.
But music, man… music was different. Exceptions could be made for music.
At that time, Teddie had been carried away, and I was slightly worried. Would she be ok? And then this rasta came over to me, and said, “You’re doing it wrong man”. To which I shyly asked, “What are you talking about bru?”. The rasta smiled at me and said, “Your dancing. You’re doing it wrong. You’re thinking. Stop it mlungu” (side note: mlungu is the zulu word for “white person”). “Stop thinking. Don’t care. Just move”.
And for the first time in my life, I managed to. I stopped thinking, and just bounced. I was a madman, limbs flying everywhere, grabbing hands with random strangers and we whirled around in ecstasy, losing ourselves in the music. And throughout it all, this random rasta who had come out of nowhere was laughing. And not laughing at me – although there was some teasing at first – rather he was laughing with me.
It was one of the happiest times in my life, and I’m still not sure why… but it was some of the purest, most unfettered joy I’d ever felt.
The next thing I knew, these arms wrapped around me, and I looked back into Teddie’s eyes. “All ok?”, she asked, with that accent of hers.
“Fine,” I replied. “I think I’m going to be just fine.”
This isn’t a story about Teddie. In fact, looking back at it now, I think that day was the last day Teddie and I were truly happy together… or the last happy memory I can remember sharing with her, at any rate. It’s not a story about racism. In fact, I’m not even sure this is a story at all. But it is a memory, of me being happy. And it means a lot to me.
I said it wouldn’t make sense to you.