Monthly Archives: December 2009

How to get out of your Twitter rut.

Have you noticed how your twitter stream sometimes gets stuck in a rut ? Are you bored with people fixating on the same bit of new technology ? Is Google Wave really worth all those characters bashed out on Twitter ?

Well here’s a simple solution. Tweak your stream. Put the techies into a list of their own and close the lid for a while or sign up a few fresh faces.

I like to have a sprinkling of comedians in my stream because they make me smile and invariably British comedy writers have a great eye for a story, I guess that is where they get their material from. @Mitch Benn, @quantick, @Alannucci, for example.

Thinking more widely and bringing in some unexpected voices can really freshen things up and stop you thinking that Twitter is just a bunch of social media experts talking to themselves.

When the brand lets you down.

The point about a trusted brand is that we expect it to be consistent and not  let us down. That is why we trust it.

This Dec 26th, my family and I became stranded by the side of the M1, arguably the most famous motorway in Britain. When I called the AA I can only imagine that the girl on the other end of the line was doing community service.

Her ‘Where exactly are you ?’

Me ‘I am on the M1 northbound.’

Her ‘Is that clockwise or anti-clockwise ?’

Me ‘It’s the M ONE it only goes north and south.’

Her ‘But is that clockwise or anti-clockwise ?’

Needless to say she dispatched the breakdown van to the wrong place and we were two hours late to visit my elderly father in his old people’s home.

I no longer trust the AA an organisation I have been a member of for 20 years .

I know this sounds like a rant, but brand trust, well it’s important isn’t it ?

How I found inspiration in Alan Bennett and a bruised bum.

A few days ago I went sledding with my family.

We don’t get much snow usually but this was perfect. The sun was shining and there was a blueish sheen over everything.

The kids asked me if I was going to have a go and I paused for a moment. Do I want to be the kind of mum who never joins in, or do I want to be someone who is always up for it and willing to have a go ?

It was great fun while it lasted. But I ended up in hospital with seven stitches to a rather inconveniently placed gash. The lump of rock definitely came off best.

Yes I am in agony and yes I am cheesed off that I am not at my best for Christmas but do you know what ? I don’t regret it.

You’ve got to be in it, you’ve got to take part. I am not prepared to let my life pass me by. That’s why I write my blog and get involved in twitter and immerse myself in the life that I want to live.

I saw a programme on TV with the fantastic writer Alan Bennett last night in which he said you have to turn off the voice inside your head that says ‘you ? you can’t do that.’

So I will write and I will share it  and I may well fall on my butt again. But so what ?Happy Christmas!

Do you make this twitter mistake ?

When I log onto Twitter I spend most of my time clicking through to articles and blogs suggested by people in my stream. It’s a great way to access content that I might not spot and has the added bonus of a personal recommendation.

Or does it ?

I am worried about the trend towards automating links. I understand why people do it. You have a business to run and actual real live clients to see, but when I click on a link I like to think it is because you said it was good.

Twitter for me is about building authentic relationships, whether that is a business connection or a new friendship or something in between. I think   you risk forfeiting authenticity if you’re not across what you are passing on and for me, well I just feel cheated if I’m not getting the real deal.

We need to earn a position of trust in the Twitter community by consistently passing on stuff which is interesting useful or funny and then sticking around to talk about it.

I know automated tweeting is a hotly debated topic so please tell me what you think, especially if you disagree !

Whatever we feel about politics in Iran, what are the implications for social media ?

I was just working out my response to social media being hi-jacked by campaigners when I got news that Twitter had come under cyber attack.

It appears that a group claiming to be the Iranian Cyber Army managed to redirect Twitter users to its own site displaying a political message. The hi-jack seems to be in response to people using Twitter to discuss democracy in Iran and to link up with other campaigners.

Whatever we feel about politics in Iran, what are the implications for social media ?

In the bad old days news and opinions were published in the newspapers and were obviously subject to the control and political opinions of their owners. Those with other ideas could either start their own publications or campaign in a more direct way, taking their views to the streets.

Now with the arrival of social media anyone can have a blog, Facebook page or Twitter account and everyone can have their say (subject of course to restrictions placed on them by their home government.)

In general  it is a profoundly democratic step forward.

Which brings me to the issue I was pondering in the first place.

There is a campaign, started on Facebook, to make the band Rage Against the Machine the Christmas number one single rather than Geordie Joe who won the X Factor. Can I complain if little Joe loses out ?  Nope I don’t think I can, although he seems like a really nice bloke and I think he deserves his five minutes of fame.

We have to accept that social media are just pathways, like  roads or phone lines. They are neutral, enabing things to happen. We can’t choose what.

Can we police social media though ? Clearly hi-jacking Twitter is not legitimate use. But what about hateful politics like racism ? Should accounts be denied to racists and what about spam ? After all that is just selling and there are plenty of people using Twitter to sell stuff even if it is very subtle and comes under the umbrella of ‘marketing’.

These are questions I would really like answers to. If you have any thoughts it would be great to share them.

Susan Boyle and the Disney Factor

’There is happiness out there for everyone who dares to dream’

In 11 words, sensation of the decade, Susan Boyle summed up why she has been so successful in such a short time. With sales of her album topping  three million  around the world, picking apart that success has got to be of interest not just to her fans but to marketeers, PRs and anyone who ever hoped to sell us anything.

I want to argue that it’s not the elusive ‘ X’ Factor that put  Susan Boyle on top, but the Disney Factor, that’s where her story gets it power.

A few days ago I went to see a preview of the new Disney feature film ‘The Princess and the frog.’ It’s about a hard-working black waitress from a poor district of New Orleans. She has big plans for success but she has forgotten how to dream. Sure she works hard but when it comes to wishing on that star, she can’t bring herself to do it. The film teaches her that man can not live by hard work alone and eventually she comes to realise the value of ‘wishing on a star’ and her dreams do come true.

If as a world we have forgotten about the magic of our wishes Susan Boyle never did and she has been rewarded with success and riches beyond her wildest dreams. Now she has the adoration of a world that wants to believe. Her child-like qualities make me think of Peter Pan, another day dream-believer who never wanted to grow up.

All the time we are able to dream our dreams we are open to the message of those who might be able to fulfill them. Dreamers make great customers and Susan Boyle is great product.

Work hard she seems to say, but don’t forget it is never too late to dream the dream.

Now that’s a comforting thought. Or is it ?

Jargon to make you smile.

We were talking last time about jargon and the way it clutters up your writing, getting in the way of the message. But sometimes jargon is just very very funny.

I have to confess a weakness for daft language, although you do have to be careful. People might just take you seriously. Here’s my top ten :

  1. Multi-slacking. Multi-skilling and multi- tasking’s lazy brother.
  2. Wet signature. Strangely off-putting way of referring to a hand fashioned signature.
  3. Strategic staircase. A plan for the future as opposed to some  fortuitously placed steps.
  4. Alpha geek. Head of tech support.
  5. Blame Storm. Trying to work out who’s going to get it.
  6. Power Loser. The person chosen in number 5.
  7. Idea hamster. Person least likely to be fired in a blame storm due to their constant stream of ideas.
  8. Long pole item. Pivotal, like the pole in an old-fashioned tent.
  9. Glasgow salad. Chips (one for UK readers I think.)
  10. Going postal. Losing it big style.

Once again many thanks to and of MBA Jargonwatch  for some of their ideas.