Tag: blogs

Stop Reading, Start Doing

Marketing, Social Media6 Comments

My buddy and fellow higher ed digital dude, Nick Leigh, recently shared with me his motto for 2012: “Stop Reading, Start Doing.”

Which is funny, because as new media practitioners we spend so much time researching and absorbing as much new information as possible because we know how quickly this space moves. One change to Facebook or Google’s algorithm can force you to rethink your entire strategy.

So we convince ourselves that we need to read every blog post that catches our eye and keep drinking  from the social media firehose, all in the name of ‘research’.

But the reality is that we don’t need to always be consuming content left, right and centre. The voracious near-obsessive consumption of content, while beneficial to a point, is asymptotic as the knowledge you gain becomes incrementally smaller and smaller and never ending as the landscape continues to evolve. This ultimately can have a paralysing effect as you wait for more information to validate your approach, often to the detriment of doing any meaningful work.

I am, by very definition, an infovore. While I’m fortunate that this also happens to be my passion, the very nature of my job means that I need to stay relatively current with my knowledge yet I no longer feel compelled to read, listen or watch everything. In fact, my Google Reader – which would always be cleared out at the end of the week – now routinely sits at 100+ unread blog posts. Instead, I focus on staying up-to-date on a few blogs by thought leaders that deliver me the most value on a consistent basis (think Mitch Joel, Avinash Kaushik, Christopher S. Penn), a single industry e-newsletter that curates the best posts from around the web, and when I have a spare moment, I trawl through a Twitter list of industry leaders for links and commentary. In a relatively short amount of time, I’m able to get a read on what’s happening and hopefully come across something valuable that I can put into action with the rest of time I have left.

Do you think there’s too much information out there? What tips do you have for managing your time and the flow of information?

 

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Why I Became a Podcaster

Social Media0 Comments

A few weeks ago Sarah Thomas, Jason Neave and I got together over a few beers and gave life to the Communication Junction podcast. While it’s fair to say that the marketing podcast space is pretty crowded, we felt that there was still room for a uniquely (South) Australian voice to debate the issues important to marketing and comms professionals in the City of Churches.

While we still have some work to do to get it to a point where we will be truly happy, the response to the first episode has been reassuringly positive.

There was one bit of feedback I received, however, that took me by surprise. That was the number of people (over half I’d spoken to) who were perplexed at why I would (a) record a podcast; that was (b) specifically on marketing. After all, didn’t I already work, blog, speak and raise a young family? And why marketing? If it were sports or music, sure. But marketing? WTF?

It comes naturally to me

I love creating and content and have always wanted to record a podcast. Part of the reason why was eager to do it is probably because I spent over 10 years in radio. While most people are terrified at the thought of public speaking let alone someone downloading and playing back their voice, it really doesn’t faze me. I don’t have the best voice, but I speak passionately and earnestly on the things I love.

Having said that, I think I would be less comfortable if I were to do a video or photo blog. I’m a pretty average photographer at the best of times and don’t tend to take too many photos. In contrast, if I’m really interested in something, I tend to talk about it. A lot.

I’m compelled to do it

What’s the point in doing something if you don’t also love it. That’s how I felt when I realised I wanted to be a marketer – a digital marketer, to be precise.

Since then I’ve dedicated my professional (and large chunks of my personal) life to finding out everything I can about how technology has transformed the way brands communicate and engage with their customers. I’ve got a voracious appetite for knowledge and constantly read books, blogs and listen to podcasts, not to mention trawl Twitter for interesting links.

In addition to a varied background that has taken from the music industry, to the arts and not for profit sector, to media, marketing agency and now big client-side, I’ve been able to develop my thinking around issues related to digital marketing and business that I felt compelled to share with other people. I started this blog to do precisely that, but the opportunity to record a regular podcast with two people who I love debating the issues with was just too good to resist but also to take the great conversations we’ve had and put them online so that hopefully others can get some benefit from it.

So that’s my story.

What content are you compelled to create and why? Let me know in the comments.

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9 Characteristics of Great Blogs

Social Media5 Comments

With over 156 million blogs in existence, it’s safe to say a fair whack of those are rubbish. Of the remainder, most are ok, some are good and a rare few could be considered great.

I was recently invited by The University of Adelaide, Discipline of Media to talk to first year students about what makes a great blog. This is what I came up with:

Great blogs…

  1. Have a voice
    They are not anonymous. They reflect the profile, personality and passion of the author.
  2. Are focused
    What they are about is clear. There is no confusion from readers what they are going to get when they read this blog.
  3. Use compelling headlines
    Time is precious. Although I subscribe to a few dozen blogs, I only have time to read a handful of posts a day. Most of the time, I make a judgment call if I’m going to read something based on the headline and if it excites me or I can instantly see the value from reading it. There’s a reason ‘Top 10…’ posts make great link bait.
  4. Use paragraphs and lists
    The old adage that the web is for scanning and skipping holds true. It’s a lot easier for me to skim through an article and extract something meaningful if it’s broken up into bite-sized chunks than a impenetrable  slab of text. If I quick scan reveals it to be worthy, I might even read the whole thing.
  5. Make good use of video, audio, images
    Depending on the type of blog (and in this case, I’m going to assume it’s an ordinary text blog not a fancy vlog) you don’t want to overdo it. But selective use of interesting videos and images that complement the copy can really add a lot to a post. Having said that, it should never come at the expense of the writing. And if you’re simply not good at sourcing images (like me), don’t break your back trying to do it and focus on the words.
  6. Can be subscribed to
    If I like what you’ve got to say and want to know when you’ve posted something new, don’t force me to visit your blog in the vain hope that there’s something new. Let me subscribe to and RSS feed or a newsletter to be notified when you’ve got some new content.
  7. Can be shared
    By that same token, if I like something make it easy for me to share with my network. Provide easy links to at the very least ‘Like’ and ‘Retweet’
  8. Have a unique POV
    If you want to stand out, you’ve got to be different and unique. Don’t regurgitate someone else’s thinking and link back, bring your viewpoint to the table and tell me why that is. If all you’re reporting is news then how are you telling me something I couldn’t find somewhere else?
  9. Are polarising
    If you’re not making someone mad then you’re not doing it right. You need to have an opinion. Matter of fact with 156 million blogs, you better have an opinion. To be anything but is to be vanilla.

    And despite the title, here’s one more for good measure…

  10. Are consistent
    There are regular posts on a consistent cycle. Whether it’s several times a day, daily or weekly, you know when to expect the next one, thus creating a sense of expectation.

So there you have it. I’d love to know your thoughts in the comments. And if you’re looking for an example of great blogs, look no further than the blog roll.

 

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Get Outside the Social Media Echo Chamber

Social Media0 Comments

If you spend much time on social media, you know how easy it is to connect and share with people you identify with.

It has unmistakably revolutionised how we interact and ultimately build relationships with each other.

One of the most significant changes is that we now have the ability to filter the content we are exposed whether by carefuly curating who we are following or searching for a hashtag (or topic, prefixed by a # such as #ausvotes) on Twitter.

While this increases the relevance of the news that we see, it is often the case that the views expressed in our Twitter feeds, blogs and podcasts echo our own, which is the reason we follow them in the first place.

Take for example the recent Federal election. My Twitter stream was filled with tweets supporting the National Broadband Network and decrying the Internet filter – two views I passionately support. If I wanted to know the other side of the argument, I wasn’t going to get it without stepping outside my circle on Twitter.

If you want to truly understand, you need the complete picture. You need to consciously get outside your personal social media echo chamber and follow someone whose views challenge our own and force us to answer the tough questions.

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How digital channels have changed the value of news

Digital Strategy4 Comments

The different ways in which we access media has changed the relative importance that we place on different types of news. The news that we find through traditional delivery mechanisms is no longer as relevant as the news that we actively seek out or that finds us on social media.

Traditional media is losing relevance

In the dark ages pre-internet, there was only really one way to consume news – passively. You either read it  (in hard copy), watched it or heard it, and were (generally) at the mercy of your local publisher.

I remember staying up late most nights just to catch a glimpse of the NBA highlights on Sports Tonight which – if you remember Ten’s programming in the late 90s – meant that I had a better chance of finding a chupacabra.

Thankfully, that is no longer the case and we are surrounded by more media and information than we could ever hope to consume. We can now find endless amounts of information about the things that interest us no matter how esoteric our tastes.

We are  no longer passive but active consumers of news.

It matters where it’s from

With so much news content already vying for our attention and our interest, what this means is that where we heard it determines if we are really paying attention to it.

Search, RSS and email, in particular, have flipped news on it’s head. Instead of going to a single or a few sources and hoping to find something of interest, we simply subscribe to the blogs, podcasts, etc. that interest us. That we actively and deliberately subscribe means that we assign it a higher value than something we happen to see in the paper.

This gets taken a little further when social media gets thrown into the mix. The ability to share and recommend means that we are now also exposed to what others in our network think is interesting. Assuming you actually like and respect that person, you are more likely to click on a link that they are sharing than if it were put to you by an anonymous corporation.

In summary, we are gradually paying less and less attention to news that comes to us pre-packaged. While the morning paper or the 6 o’clock news will still be part of our media consumption, it is becoming increasingly irrelevant in the face of more relevant sources such as social media and RSS feeds that directly interest us.

Have new technologies changed the way you find out news? Do you still rely on traditional sources or is the bulk of the news you consume now found online?

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