Tag: Michelle Prak

Facebook’s Changes: Good News For Users, Twitter

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It’s been a few weeks now since Facebook announced a slew of new changes. If you’re reading this blog, you’ve probably already read thousands of words far more eloquent than mine about the ins and outs of the changes. Suffice to say, like Prakky, it has rekindled my love of Facebook.

Why you ask? Because Facebook has made it all about me again. The ability to curate old posts, add new milestones and generally better tell the story of my life via Timeline has put us – the users – right back at the centre of social networking. And that’s a good thing.

I also remember a time when Facebook used to be lived in your friend’s profiles, but the introduction of the newsfeed changed this dynamic (for the better) but also meant that as you people became more active on Facebook your timeline could quickly fill up with crap. The introduction of the ticker and lightweight status updates has also meant that newsfeeds are more interesting and relevant. Likes, pokes, check-ins, etc. are now relegated to the ticker, freeing up the newsfeed for real updates and making it easier to surface the important stuff.

But, like I said, this post isn’t about recapping the changes, it’s about what this means for how businesses use Facebook.

Where did everyone go?

If you manage a Facebook page, the first thing you would’ve noticed with the changes to ticker and timeline was the arse falling out of your impression numbers. Suddenly Facebook page posts were far less visible and while impressions are never the best metric to measure Facebook success, it is still the best number available as to how many people you could be reaching and how visible your are in general.

Facebook Impressions

Now if you don’t know much about Facebook’s EdgeRank algorithm, I’d recommend you read this and then come back. I’ll wait.

….

Done? Ok, let’s continue.

Pages that have a low EdgeRank on their posts are going to find it even harder to reach their followers. So if you get low engagement, or your followers have very little affinity with you, you’re pretty much screwed. Even though everything still goes into ticker, you really want your posts to be surfaced in the newsfeed.

Now from a user perspective, this isn’t such a bad thing. The whole idea behind EdgeRank is to ensure your newsfeed is populated with posts that are most important (in terms of affinity, relevance and time) to you. What this means for Facebook pages though is that they need to be doing more to engage their followers and posting content that elicits a response – no easy task as any page owner will tell you!

My prediction from all this is that as it gets harder to reach your audience on Facebook, many brands will shift their efforts to Twitter where reciprocity – e.g. we have to follow each other to interact – isn’t mandatory.

More bang for your buck

With most businesses struggling to appropriately resource social media, it often comes down to where you can have the most impact – and fast. Especially as it is doubtful they are adequately measuring, optimising and enhancing their social programs to find what works on Facebook, Twitter may start to look much more attractive.

Twitter’s ability to reach out and connect with any other public profile is a huge selling point for the platform. In terms of acquisition, it holds far more potential for identifying and reaching out to partially qualified prospects than Facebook. To open the door for a conversation to begin, all someone needs to do is mention they are in the market for your product and BAM! you’ve got an opportunity to talk with them. At the University of Adelaide, we not only monitor Twitter for our brand keywords but also keywords and phrases relating to studying in Australia. This has opened up countless opportunities for us to be helpful and provide information about living in Adelaide, the Uni and the degrees we offer to people who are actively searching for it, many of whom have gone on to apply to study here.

Now Facebook does a lot of things amazingly well and can genuinely be an online hub for your brand, but it doesn’t easily facilitate conversations with people who aren’t already connected to your brand in some way. While Facebook is too big to ignore and you would never ditch your presence entirely, the decreased visibility of brands on the platform may ultimately see more of them focusing their efforts on Twitter where the interactions can be more personal and immediate.

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Life Without Twitter

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It’s easy to forget how blessed we are to be living in the digital era. Technology is now so ubiquitous and an integral part of our lives that it has become, as Clay Shirky says, virtually invisible.

We take for granted our relatively new found ability to quickly and easily communicate with others across the world; the ability to like, poke, tweet, instagram and +1 becoming more trivialised with each passing day. Simply put, we have never been more connected with each other at any pother point in history.

Imagine that suddenly, all that changes: you could still see what was happening but you could no longer reach and connect with your friends and loved ones. How would you feel?

Now imagine, that you’re ability to speak was taken away: you can no longer express an opinion, or tell someone you love them. That’s what happens to some victims of stroke.

Every 10 minutes, someone in Australia suffers a stroke and while they don’t always impair your ability to speak, most lead to some form of physical disability.

Currently there is no cure for stroke, but but the Peter Couche Foundation (and Don’t Speak) and the scientists at the Robinson Institute are pioneering adult stem cell (non-embryonic) research designed to regenerate and repair damage to the brain caused by stroke.

On Friday 16th November from 10-11am, Michelle Prak and I are maintaining an hour of Twitter silence (I’m doing all social media including email, but Twitter is going to be hard enough for Michelle!) to help raise money for them and need your support. Can you help?

Michelle’s fundraising page

My fundraising page

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Social Media is Beautiful

Social Media4 Comments

It seems that every few weeks social media takes a battering in the news. If it’s not Governments threatening to shut it down, it’s big business not knowing when they’ve crossed the line.

But every now and then, something happens that reinvigorates my passion for social media (not that it ever went away) and why I couldn’t imagine living anywhere else than in this crazy, hyper-connected world.

Through a few tweets and a couple of Foursquare check-ins a happenstance first meeting between two friends that I doubt would have been possible in a pre-social world.

It’s a timely reminder of the serendipitous nature of social media and that it is not about how we monetise it, but how it builds stronger, more meaningful connections between participants. In short, it reminds me how social media is indeed beautiful.

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Does the iPad = 1960?

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A friend recently asked me whether they thought an iPad or a laptop was better for their child.

If you thought I would have said “iPad” straight away – you’re right. After all, seeing a child interact with a tablet makes you marvel at how intuitive and accessible it really is compared to a laptop which seems ancient in comparison. Besides, I love my iPad but the more I thought about it, the more my answer started shifting towards a laptop.

Escaping technology bias

apple devices are multiplying

They're multiplying

With minimal start-up time, convenient size and beautiful screen, it is clear that tablets are biased towards consumption over creation.  However, since reading Douglas Rushkoff’s book Program or be Programmed I’ve become far more aware of the importance of recognising and not giving in to the natural bias of technology.

In a media environment that is becoming increasingly participatory, stories and mythology are no longer told but co-created. As the rise of social networks, blogs, podcasts and online video has shown, digital media is biased towards creation by enabling everyone to write and publish. We are no longer resigned to being passive consumers of media – as was the case when traditional mass media was the only player in town – but active participants with real influence and the power to shape communications.

When you look at it through this lens, tablets are almost a throwback to the past as it discourages longer, meaningful creation. It’s well suited for short bursts of content creation such as a tweet or a status update, but not so flash at long emails or blog posts (as Prakky opines).

Learning to create

The long and short of it is that although there are apps for creating – word processing, spreadsheets, photo editing, etc. – they are shallow compared to the same thing on a laptop. At this point in time, touchscreens are yet to offer a depth of interaction that a keyboard and mouse offers.

Much like the argument that Google bypasses critical thinking, so too have tablets removed the need to understand how software and hardware works, offering up instant solutions. For this reason, while I think there’s a place for both, for children who are just starting out, it is vital that they explore, question and test the limits of technology without restriction.

What do you think? Are iPad’s and tablets better learning devices for children or is there still a place for laptops?

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Getting a job as a digital marketer

Digital Strategy12 Comments

When it comes to hiring digital marketers, it’s a jungle out there.

Even with the number of digital marketing positions on the rise as businesses scramble to avoid being left behind, the growing pool of new digital talent and traditional marketers looking to reposition themselves means that competition in this space is fierce. The emergence of social media, in particular, has altered the landscape yet again making it harder than ever to distinguish genuine talent from the proverbial snake oil salesmen.

With the playing field leveled and everyone now being able to publish and spruik their wares online, what do you need to do to get noticed and ultimately hired?

Over the past few weeks, I have received a number of emails and DMs from people looking for career advice which has prompted me to write this post. However, instead of just hearing from me, I thought it would be even more useful to ask some of the most respected digital marketers in Australia and around the world (including two who have had a profound influence on my career to date),for one piece of advice that they could offer digital job seekers:

Mitch Joel (President, Twist Image; Author, Six Pixels of Separation): Use these channels to become a known voice for whatever it is you’re pursuing. How could someone not hire someone who is regarded in their industry?

Avinash Kaushik (Author, Web Analytics 2.0; Analytics Evangelist, Google): Learn to try new things and play in the real world. There is no better medium in the world for you to try anything you want, all by yourself without the need to rely on your employer to empower you. Tools are free or cheap. Platforms are free or cheap. All you need is a pinch of effort and a dash of desire to learn in the real world. If you do that no one will refuse to hire you because you’ll actually know what the heck you are talking about. If you don’t do that… well…. life will be tougher.

Jason Neave (Managing Director, Via Media): Be visible in the space. If I’m hiring you for a digital marketing role (versus a creative or development one – and even then your online presence plays a huge part), I’ll spend 30 seconds looking at your CV and 30 minutes browsing your social network profiles, blog posts, twitter accounts, flickr galleries, and LinkedIn info. Have an opinion and don’t be afraid to share it. Oh, and if you’re applying, please make the effort to find out who to address your emails/letters to. We get a lot of ‘To Whom it May Concern’ notes. There’s no-one here by that name.

Michelle Prak (Digital Communications Expert, Hughes PR): In whatever you say about yourself online, use keywords. If you’re looking for a job in the digital industry, say so. Don’t just mention the fact that you like cheesecakes and you have a pet dog. Consider how a stranger (and potential employer) would read your profile.

Nic Hodges (Head of Innovation and Technology, Mediacom): Where I see the challenge with talent now is in social and data. Most agencies are still grappling with how they execute and resource social, and that throws up the obvious issue of assessing skillsets and leveraging experience. Add in the plethora of ‘social media gurus’ crowding up the talent pool and there’s a lot of chaff to sort through to get to the wheat. People who can talk social media in real world terms, deliver real business results, and integrate with an overall communications strategy will be highly sought after in the coming years. And whether they go to media, PR, or creative agencies is still up for grabs.

Sarah Thomas (Owner, Carve Consulting): Whilst it is imperative you demonstrate your digital skills and knowledge online, don’t forget about the importance of the real world too. Take your online contacts offline; attend tweetups, industry events, catch up with people for a coffee.

Damien Mair (Principal, Fusion): Be open and willing to try and fail, so you can learn, as following what someone else has done will not provide innovation. There isn’t rules, the people failing will be the ones who leave a path of rules for the followers…to well follow…while you keep evolving….and that is what will make you valuable to whoever you are applying you mind, talents and focus to at the time.

And lastly, my advice: Don’t rely on Twitter to build your reputation. There’s a limit to how insightful you can be in 140 characters. Make the commitment to blog and demonstrate that you not only know your stuff and have some smart things to say but are also up-to-date with emerging trends and have an opinion about the way things are headed.

Did you find this advice useful? What did you think? Is there any other advice you would give to digital job seekers?

Thanks to Mitch Joel, Avinash Kaushik, Jason Neave, Michelle Prak, Nic Hodges, Sarah Thomas and Damien Mair for their generous contributions. If you like what you read, please take the time to check out their blogs/websites, most of which are in my blogroll.

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