Tag Archives: community

Business in Cornwall: Networking opportunity

It struck me one morning over a breakfast meeting that all successful businesses have a community built around them. It wasn’t a huge revelation, I’ve been aware of the power of a community for a very long time, but this was a “light bulb” moment for a particular nut I was trying to crack.

So I had moved location, back to Cornwall, back to the land of legend, the land of my family, the beautiful county of childhood memories, and I had taken my business with me. Sure I had clients in “the smoke” still, but I was now actively networking locally to generate clients.

Whilst popping in and out of these networks, breakfast meetings, and what not, it struck me that what I needed to do was to create my own network. Creating my own network would yield a variety of benefits such as:

  • business friends
  • leads & potentials, referrals
  • a sales funnel
  • a place to sing loudly about my clients
  • advertising opportunities
  • MOST IMPORTANTLY a talent rich network, where skills and services can be linked.

I looked around at what others were doing in the space, who was building a network offering businesses the type of things I can offer. Who was genuinely adding value to businesses, and who was doing it well? Who was offering modern networking, with a joined up virtual service.

Nobody. – I’ve not seen it yet, so I’m building it.

It’s called the Cornwall Trade Network.

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I Don’t Miss Twitter

Sometimes I find myself taking long breaks from twitter which I must say I thoroughly enjoy. I’m one of those guys that avoids institutionalisation at all costs, any time a situation becomes repetitive I seem to find little interest in the culture.

I use the phrase institutionalisation purposefully because like many work-place cultures identical practices creep in, normalities develop and before long you can find yourself smack bang in the middle of complacency.

I don’t think I’ll be permanently out of the scene, I have too many great friends that love the world of twittington, though I’m sure I’ll continue taking extended breaks. I’ll also not be making any silly big statements of “hey that’s it I deleted my twitter account”, hmm although …

Anyway there we go that’s on my mind today.

Do you find you have feelings like this, do you get bored with spaces and cultures, what do you do to get the funk out?

Chinwag Measuring Social Media

Yesterday I attended the Chinwag.com event “measuring social media” chaired by Jim Sterne of Web Analytics Association with a panel comprising of:

Alex Burmaster – European Internet Analyst, Nielsen Online

Alex did a fair amount of pitching to begin with, and to be frank didn’t really give too much insight into what Social Media actually is. He enthused a great deal on how Nielsen has tools for measuring online conversations but lacked any real solutions for the crowd, he warmed up towards the end.

Robin Grant – Client Services Director, 1000heads

Robin started reasonably well and enthused on the power of Social Media although again didn’t really give any big insights to what it actually is and how you can use it. Little too much assuming I thought, although certainly a fan of Social Media.

Will McInnes – MD, Nixon McInnes

Will was the “gem” on the panel for me, he told it straight by stating “humans are slow and computers are dumb” (or was it the other way around?). Anyway he was basically stating that we cannot measure conversations, you cannot apply numbers to people’s emotions and cannot readily understand a conversation with a metric. I have to agree to some extent. Read more on his blog

Ankur Shah – Co-founder, Techlightenment

This guy was also enthusing well and was also “bigging up” the use of their Socialistics programme, based on collection of data for analysis.

I’ll state up front that I didn’t learn anything new from this event, ok sure it was great to network and meet new people, and some old friends, but in terms of the panel content I learnt nothing.

Why is this?

I think this is two-fold, firstly I am neck-deep in Social Media myself, much of that stems from running a virtual company for 8 years, I have had to build virtual communities and use social tools to engage with that community. Therefore I know first-hand what is needed, what talents and skills are appropriate and what works or doesn’t work. I’d say I was just as knowledgeable as anyone on the panel, certainly in terms of experience.

Secondly, the panel assumed that everyone in the audience knew what Social Media is, how it operates, what you need to do to get it to work for you. However, given that the majority of the audience were in fact PR agencies, I can tell you I am convinced that not a great deal of people do actually know what Social Media is, or more specifically how it can operate and work. I don’t mean that to sound arrogant, or expert-like, I’m just saying this is not new to mew.

One of most poignant questions of the evening was put by the Chair who asked “if you were given the job of Social Media Marketing Manager for Vauxhall, what’s the first thing you need to do?”. I immediately twittered this question and got the following answers:

@audio – Hi Chris, my first tool would be ears to listen. :)
Samantha_Grant at 18-02-2008 20:15

@audio demographics on target market and their media habits.
injenuity at 18-02-2008 20:07

@audio a thick skin?
GJD at 18-02-2008 20:02

@audio a super-high speed internet connection and great computer?
TamK at 18-02-2008 20:00

I like a lot of those tweets, and thank you for them because you proved my point. My answer to the question was simply “build a community and call them to action”.

It sounds simple when you look at it in print, but not one person mentioned that very important fact, in fact the very cornerstone of Social Media. Now regarding how to derive a metric from your community, I’m not sure about. Perhaps a call to action on a vote, an act, will in fact yield a metric. For example if 25% of my Social Media community act on a call to action, I do in fact have a metric, numbers, something for the CEO to consider. I know that’s not measuring engagement, connection, depth of experience, blah blah … but it is a number which CEOs “get”.

The dialogue went onto asking if we need an open source form of social media metrics, some kind of industry standard that we can all work towards, personally I’m not convinced of that either, but I could be persuaded.

I think to sum-up Social Media is currently a buzz-phrase, I’ve been socialising with my prospects for years, it’s not suddenly something new to me, though I understand it is for the traditional advertisers of this world. I also think that the strength of Social Media in terms of advertising will be the ability to extract highly detailed profiles of people in “the community”. Taking Facebook as an example, if the platform is sexy enough people will tell you “everything” about themselves.

Once we have highly detailed profiles of prospects we will be able to sell that data to be used to target individuals with specific information we know they will be pleased to hear about. This goes back to my argument around the Android Pocket Spy.

Of course the further we delve into asking our community to put forward detailed information about themselves the further down the privacy road we stumble.

Will you mind being profiled so deeply? Will you enjoy receiving targeted SMS notes about products in you geo area? It will come, believe me.

Open Organisations

What is an open organisation and how can you achieve it?

You can take a variety of channels and mediums and become impressed to hear various voices bubbling with enthusiasm and knowledge for change. It is most impressive when these voices have an outlet, and channel for open dialogue.

Change is a good thing, change brings goodness and change brings challenges for everyone, not least the identity (or brand) of the organisation, in this connected world.

Large organisations the world over are struggling with traditional forms of advertising, it is no surprise to find the branding and marketing conversation rampant in the online world, where daily large institutions are having to employ, consult, embrace, the currency of trust, which is of course transparency.

Marketing is now a dialogue, marketing is now a conversation, the product has to be engaged with, with the client, there is now a NEED, an absolute requirement to have interaction with the prospects.

Web 2.0 is here to stay, and those who embrace it will win, those who ignore it will fall, without a shadow of doubt.

So what’s needed?

A few things…

1. SELL TO YOUR STAFF – senior management need to engage with their staff transparently, and lead the transparent and open dialogue, effectively leading by example and encouraging feeding (fuelling the conversation). Traditional management cascades are one way, very old school, the conversation stops, immediately!

2. ENCOURAGE STAFF TOO SELL FOR YOU – here this is where you actively support and promote the soldiers to champion and engage in representing the organisation in the online space.

3. TOOLS – you need tools in place which allow the above to take place, including, blogs, podcasts, videocasts, wikis, and not only.

4. COMMUNITY DEVELOPER – you need someone full-time working in and around the community (the staff), who not only brings people together with all of this technology, but more importantly documents, showcases, makes aware of all the wonderful activities going on and spreading that externally within the important spaces. You need this person popping in board meetings, nipping into lectures, filming activity and pumping it out on an organisational channel.

I have been community developing with my online businesses for some time and relish the environment of connecting people and extended the conversation, it’s empowering for all.

The point is how to move mountains, how to mobilise a community to act and engage with the product.

Now tell me what you are doing in YOUR organisation to promote change, are you just hoping it will happen, or are you actively pushing for change, is that difficult to accomplish, if so why?

What are your thoughts and reflections on Blackboard

Some of you may recall the black day when the learning management software company Blackboard dot org decided to file for some fairly outrageous patents.

I registered the domain BoycottBlackboard.org on 2006-08-02, in direct response to the issue being raised amongst the members of the SecondLife Educators mailing list, which incidentally as of Oct 2007 had around 3.5K members… We (generally as a group) were horrified with this crass move by Blackboard, the incredulous sweeping manner of their patents, the utter disregard for prior art, the complete ignorant and falsity of their claims, and decided appropriate action was called for.

The petition itself, and the way in which it grew in force, can be seen as a classic example of how social media can move mountains, just looking at all the names and institutions on the petition is proof of that, and do go ahead and look.

Though I’d never claim sole responsibility for helping change their mind, the petition did however get heard, there is no doubt about it Blackboard took note of the academic community and changed their stance on the patents and dreamed up the “The Blackboard Patent Pledge“. Of course if your learning management software is not open source, all that has no meaning, tough luck!

In fact they changed many of the ludicrous ideas and released press releases stating so. The boycott blackboard petition has become part of the wiki entry for the history of the company, and I was personally interviewed for numerous educational publications concerning this.

But now some time has passed and I’m curious to know where you stand on this currently in terms of your feeling towards the company, and I’d appreciate it if you would post your comments up here.

Do you have any recent dealings with Blackboard, how do you feel, has it gone away now, has your anger depleted, have you forgotten the crime, are they excused??

ACHUB MediaCampBucks07 Summary

Well it has been well over a week and I’ve decided that now some time has passed I’d unload some of my thoughts into my blog, after all remember my blog is the same as you’d get from me in the pub, so join me in a drink while I mention my personal highlights.

The ACHUB MediaCampBucks07 was the first if its kind for Bucks, in fact the first of its kind for many areas in UK, the slant of this event was enabling an interface of sorts between people working in the commercial sector and academia, and you know what, we all certainly achieved that.

On the day we had three broad themes running:

• Education/Web2.0
• Audio & Music
• HR/Policy/Community

Therefore three sessions were running simultaneously in order that a variety of choice was constantly present for all the participants, it was a cracking atmosphere with everyone checking out the schedules posted-up on the session room doors, and deciding if the current topic was for them, or not.

The event started for me on Friday morning by collecting Kris Eliasson from Heathrow who was representing Sony Ericsson. This guy is an ex-student of mine who studied with Audiocourses.com the distance learning school I am CEO of. Kris started as a student and then became a Production Advisor for the school and then since those days we have become good friends, and this was the first time I got to shake his hand in real-life and move onto serious discussion about the future of mobile content distribution, was awesome.

The event also saw another ex-student of Audiocourses.com in Mike O’Hara who has gone on to make audio his main income stream having set up a thriving business around podcasting, again what a buzz to see these connections firing.

On the Friday evening many of us met up in a local venue for a couple of drinks and a chat, this was the first time most of us had met and it was a real buzz seeing the next character walk in and introduce themselves, finally putting a real face to names was amazing. Observing different groups of people with wide ranging backgrounds and jobs getting social together was a thrill.

I met some amazing people on the day too numerous to mention, you know who you are and how we interacted, and let me just say thanks so much for giving and sharing, YOU made the day a success, and I’m excited to see you again soon.

I want to personally thank a few people for making the day happen, firstly Asha Treacy for driving me to the venue first thing Saturday morning, (I had abandoned my car the evening before following 4 pints of beer). CJ for being very organised and “calling time” with 10 mins to go in the sessions, this was awesome and not planned, she just took control of that and I need to thank her for it, we needed that structure. Eaon Pritchard the talented Scott who put together the logo for MediaCampBucks07 and also came up trumps with some direction boards and banners (sponsored by Weapon7) which we placed around the campus, smart man is Eaon, though he did have me worried as he had been out on the pop the night before and was missing in action for a while. Mike for getting a serious Jam scene going on in the Glasshouse on Saturday evening, sadly I missed most of it but checked out the repeat on Ustream.tv.

ACHUB MediaCampBucks07 was a success without a doubt, we had about 60 participants throughout the day all told. I’m humbled by all of this and I feel a sense of something great, we have created a brand which has a sense of expectation attached to it, all the participants now know what to expect from an ACHUB event.

Looking to the future of the ACHUB we plan to have a virtual event take place in SecondLife before xmas, probably music heavy, and also plan to host another real-life event for some time in the new year which may be similar to MediaCamp, or may be something different completely, in fact if YOU have some ideas about that I want to hear from you, I’m keen on using the momentum we have with ACHUB to continue hosting has we have done since 06.

Just to conclude ACHUB exists in two places:

ACHUB Facebook
Wiki

Recently we have secured the domain ACHUB.ORG which will likely become the main portal before too long, and yes, with user accounts so you can participate with the content, after all it is YOURS, this is YOUR group, your brand, your dynamic to embrace and share.

As a closing statement I’d like you to continue the growth of the group by bringing someone in, a stranger someone “outside” of this web2.0, someone who needs it most.

I’m keeping this short but let me know your highlight of the weekend with a cheeky comment.

Loose The Comment Fear

Firstly, thank YOU so much for helping me out with a previous blog entitled “What stops you from making a comment on a blog”.

Having put out a call to action to you I was completely humbled, by the response and thoughtful help that came in. YOU really did help me draw some conclusions and make some important summaries, which I will now share with you.

The deliciousness woven into a lot of the comment thread was from first-time posters, people who had not made a comment before but somehow felt a need to respond and desired to reach-out, (this is the buzz phrase), and make a connection,(again a buzz word).

Reaching Out

I think in this world of social media and instant connectivity “reaching-out” is an apt phrase which does convey a message of action, a premise of holding your arms out, of opening your book to let everyone have a read. Reaching out is exactly what a blog post should do, if you do indeed desire to have feedback and converse with your readers.

Make a Connection

Now this is the key, I have come to the conclusion with your very meaningful posts that making an emotional connection is the door opener. We are emotive beings, we need emotion and feelings continuously and mostly it is important we can connect on an emotional level, blogs are perfect tools for this.

Just Because

Having considered the feedback and mulled it around in my mind for a week or more I am absolutely convinced there is more goodness in making at least a small connection (yes how ever small), regardless of your ability or skills on the actual topic in question.

What I mean here is having read comments such as:

“may not know enough about a topic to offer an insightful reply.”
“Fear that I sound stupid/uninformed.”
“I’m not sure if I have anything of worth to contribute”
“Sounding silly/stupid”

There are numerous others very similar to this… now, a BIG pat on the back to you for making the effort, that’s important to me, and also a big pat on the back for being honest.

BUT…..

Now, this is where I differ… I personally feel it is important to leave your presence felt even if you do not actively contribute to the discussion, even if you do not add what YOU perceive to be of value, even if YOU think you are not progressing the thread. All this is all of little importance, what IS important on a blog is that you converse, just as you would down the pub, it’s important to ME and YOU.

In the pub you may not engage in deep and meaningful debate on all manner of topics, but you would certainly not just ignore and not communicate something, even a nod, a wink, a smile, a hi are very important body language statements of acknowledgement.

I feel a blog is in a similar territory, it is a conversational platform, this is not a thesis for a Phd this is not a corporate document or a medical journal, this is me talking with you about my passions and thoughts, and you talking with me. This blog is an extension of me, this is what you’d get in the pub with me, but in text form minus the body language.

So here is my call to action.

Next time you feel a little of that “fear” (let’s call it comment fear) push it away and jump in, even if it is a “thanks for sharing”… this is exactly what social media is.

So, thanks for sharing.

MediaCamp BUCKS 07 – you coming?

I would like to make you aware of event which may be of interest to you.

Media Camp Bucks 07
http://mediacampbucks.com.

This is a new-media event taking place Sat Oct 20, Buckinghamshire UK, hosted by a not-for-profit organisation of which I happen to be the Founder, known as the ACHUB. The organisation has been active in putting on new-media events, concerned with sharing knowledge, practise, resources and social networking tools.

So what is Mediacampbucks07?

It is an “unconference”, a term which loosely implies that the participants themselves, i.e. YOU, run the day, YOU, interact and YOU, embrace the sessions. There is no “expert” talking to you for 40 minutes, the sessions are more like brain-storming sessions where you are encouraged to engage.

Bucks New Uni are kindly sponsoring this event to take place at the Technology Centre on the main High-Wycombe campus, and I cannot thank the University enough for this sponsorship, the facilities are great and it is a progressive move, and already the new-media community are buzzing about it,
people will be walking away back to industry having gained an awful lot.

Already many professionals have registered to attend and take part, including bloggers, web design companies, ad agencies, Internet TV people, SecondLifers, HR people and even Microsoft, and not just
Brits!

The best bit, it is GRATIS, not a penny required, well your lunch and drinks aside!

We have also secured some additional sponsorship including Chinwag (the UK’s leading community media company for the new media industry, which will help pay for some goodness.

To register simply visit the mediacampbucks07 wiki and add your name, and if you fancy running a session add yourself to that too.

If you have any questions please do get in touch with me through email, more than happy to answer, if your business/institution is interested to sponsor do get in touch.

Cheers

Chris Hambly

http://mediacampbucks.com

What stops you from making a comment on a blog

I must admit today I read a blog post concerning some feedback surrounding a recent advertising campaign taking place here in UK, and I gathered some quick thoughts, added them into the comments box, and then paused…. …. ….

I paused for a time and thought, “hmmm actually I won’t post this comment”, and I still do not know why I stopped.

My comments were around the idea of “yes, that’s a great campaign, I love it, but how about extending the conversation now?” I had tons of ideas for how this campaign could be a massive viral hit, and I mean a lot, but I didn’t post.

I wonder if it was because I am soon to be operating in some of these waters myself and not yet part of that specific community I was reading, I wondered if I should introduce myself in a slightly different way first, albeit virtually, before being the guy with shit-loads of ideas, I’m sensitive to cultures it seems?

Why do you not post comments, are you mean with your link-love, are you mean with your associations, let’s say you are considered an influencer, do you stop and not comment due to not wanting to attract attention?

Are you starting out, do you feel each and every one of your words might be jumped on, pulled apart, or do you feel shy, do you feel not worthy?

What stops you from commenting on a blog post?

Quechup And Mass Hysteria

Yesterday I had a ton of invites into a new social networking site Quechup. Some of the invites were from a variety of people I know, some were random, and one or two from people I respect to be somewhat of an authority on social media, if that is even possible.

Having so many email invites in my inbox around a similar time-frame of course meant that clearly some kind of email import facility was taking place, and let’s be up front here, pretty much ALL social media sites have this form of functionality these days, I mean hell I’m planning it into the new re-build of The Phone Cam.

Email Importing

If you are not sure what email importing is I’ll explain it. The concept is actually very simple and VERY useful for us to be able to build our network of contacts. Basically what takes place is that a script, upon your command (this is key), will go off and log-in to your email client, which can range from Gmail to Yahoo and then import your address book to the said application’s database. Now this is a very useful feature because now you have all of your contacts in the new application which you can then invite into the network. Of course some contacts you would want to invite and some you wouldn’t.

Where did Quechup go wrong?

Quechup didn’t let YOU choose who to invite, it invited everyone to the party!

So Quechup have seemingly operated in one of three ways:

1. Purposefully designed their system so new users think that address book importing is part of the mandatory sign-up, i.e. something you MUST do (which it isn’t in fact, you can skip it)
2. Unknowingly created the above environment (not likely)
3. Created the situation where they know mass e-mails will be sent and “hey, if it creates a stir we’ll get a ton of in-bound links and raise our google rank”.

However you view this, no matter what your opinion is on this the fact of the matter is that you should READ what the page says as it is very clear. In any case there is a link which says “I don’t have an address book”!

quechup

“Congratulations! Welcome to Quechup. Find out which of your friends are already members. Choose the address book with the most contacts and we’ll search for matches so you can add them to your friends network and invite non Quechup members to join you. By inviting contacts you confirm you have consent from them to send an invitation. We will not spam or sell addresses from your contacts.”

That is pretty clear in intention, and this is where I stopped during my sign-up. Why did I stop, well I didn’t want to invite anyone without knowing what the system was actually about, I never do that.

Now if you are one of the unlucky people who didn’t read that and went ahead and created the account anyway with the address import I can only say you should READ these things clearly in the future, it’s quite simple.

I would say though that Quechup could be seen as “sneaky” on this matter, as the wording could be more explicit of the outcome, it’s not overly obvious I have to say.

So what happened?

Well what happened is some of the early adopters in social media networks created accounts only to find out a ton of email invites on their behalf had been sent out from their imported address books. This ruffled quite a few feathers and what appeared to happen was a slight hyseteria took place, with many of followers of some of the “influencers” (I do not like that title) “brown-nosing” and all joining in on the Quechup “witch-hunt”.

Now right there is what I dislike most about social media, that mass hysteria, and somewhat blind following, like some kind of religious cult. I saw person after person jump on the “band wagon” of Quechup hatred without first finding the facts, and that scares me, a lot!

What should have happened is each individually should access the situation exactly and not jump to conclusions, use their own brain and not just bite the hook every time, you are not a sheep.

As a closing remark, I do not think Quechup would give a crap at all if they ruffled some feathers of some “influencers”, by now they will have more than enough momentum to build a solid network, I could be wrong, but time will tell.

The other thing is it might be worth giving them the benfit of the doubt and ok so they made a mistake, have you never made one? I’m not saying it was a mistake to be unclear, but it may have been, you know?

Now, please do comment, and give it substance and evidence please, not just excited “but they spammed but they spammed”, because they did warn you as far as I can read it.