Monday, September 26, 2011

Friday, September 23, 2011

Timeline is Now

F8 (the Facebook developers conf.) was cool last night. We had a bit of a Skype geek-fest while we watched it live and squeed unmanfully over all the new features.

One big deal is Timeline, which has gone into beta today and it's already enabled for mobile. This is a chronological layout for stuff. In the words of the Zuck: "It's how you can tell the whole story of your life on a single page."

OpenGraph (imagine a kind of a map of all a user's connections, the big one for data gathering) and Ticker (a way to express 'lightweight' actions) will be rolled out a lot more slowly, giving devs time to build some apps for Timeline. Apps will be big. REALLY big. Media content discovery stuff like music, movies, TV, and news will (allegedly) be available right away.

So, I enabled OpenGraph in one of my Facebook applications to have a look, and I've apparently got Timeline on my profile today.

No time for a review or anything, work to do, but (despite me not wanting to like it) I gotta say (after a couple of hours wasting time playing with it) it's pretty damn sweet.

If you want to enable Timeline today, here's a quick how-to. That Cover Image at the top is around 850x315, and I'm sure you'll agree has some serious potential for adding some cool individual graphical style to your FB profile.

Wednesday, September 21, 2011

A Note on Facebook Updates

That wasted 10 minutes in Photoshop, but it has made me feel marginally better.

I'm seeing a lot of negativity in status's of friends and relatives. I gotta say, I can't believe Facebook totally alienated their user-base on the same day Google Plus opened it's doors to everyone. Not a strategy I'd have recommended... :-S

Friday, September 09, 2011

Social Reputation: I'm not THAT Nik Hewitt

I'm not even going to link to the problem for fear of boosting it's Page Rank, but you can see what I mean below. While I was away from the world of blogging some dirty little thieving oid has been using my name - or possibly our name, if it is indeed his name (which is pretty unlikely) - to scam people out of money for non-existent car parts.

Being in forums this is SEO gold, and so my (until now unique) name is suddenly associated with criminal doings that are slap bang in the middle of a page 1 vanity search. Annoyingly I can't even challenge the aforementioned oid about any possible identity theft, as he's currently providing special services to Mr. Big at Her Majesty pleasure.

Now the people in the forums know it's not me. Links to my assorted social profiles (invariably accompanied by comments involving sending the boys around) have turned up in the streams with other people immediately pointing them right. They've every right to be angry, but (with such a distinctive name as mine) the casual searcher doesn't know this isn't me. Online identity, especially with what I do for a living, is important. Also, frankly, it's just damn well annoying. I need to take my name back.

So, what can I do? The same thing I'd recommend to a client. I need to take control of my brand:

Step 1: This blog post. An SEO friendly statement of intent peppered with the name "Nik Hewitt" (plus a bit of constructive spamdexing using my name) and setting out the facts. It's a beginning. We'll get plenty of inbound links and social friends to spread the post (please tweet or pass this on in some way if you're reading it). At least it's out there for public record. Let's remember, Google loves fresh content. The more I update this blog, the better.

Step 2: It's time I got a Wikipedia entry for myself. Heck, I'm published enough and I've got awards and stuff coming out of my wazoo. I must be eligible. Time to provide a friend with a write-up (any offers, I'm lookin' at you Shelli Martineau - coz I bet this show's up in your Google Alerts) and get them to post it on my behalf. Wikipedia is like chocolate for Google bots an spiders.

Step 3: Write in some other places. Well, I've started doing that of late. Hubspot, Conversify, Target Marketing, etc. So getting the name in other (high profile) decent PageRank places'll hopefully help. I'm open to others, give me a shout if you'r interested. It's a good idea, if your a business, to do the same and be seen as an industry leader. Control your brand and message etc.

Step 4: Let's try and not let this happen again, or at least be aware of it when it does. From now on I need to set a Google Alert on my name. Simple, but I've never bothered. Easy to set up, and I recommend it to everyone curious about brand and reputation management. Rocket science it ain't.

Step 5: If this was a client I'd ream off a big list of social channels where they should go out and claim their brand: Facebook, Twitter, Digg, Google Plus, LinkedIn, YouTube (especially video titles), Flickr, etc. but I'm all over these like a rash or they're just not suitable. To be honest, this is slightly disconcerting bearing in mind the number of these I'm on already.

So, for now that's all I can do. It's annoying, but it's not the end of the world. Eventually the dirty little thieving oid will drop off the front page and it'll stop niggling me.

It's reminded me of an important lesson. We're brands too. Each and every one of us. What if a prospective employer saw this out of context? "We're not havin' 'im, he robs car parts" etc. Ouch. In the modern world the individual is as fragile as any on-line business, and as individuals who work in social and on-line reputation we clearly need to practice what we preach.

Thursday, September 08, 2011

Facebook and You

I found this somewhere a while ago, and it nicely sums up the motivation of channels I was recently trying to capture in my Social Media Evolution post over at Conversify. A picture paints a 1000 words and all that. Let's try and remember this after F8 shall we.

It's free. Deal with it.

Tuesday, September 06, 2011

The Ethic of Reciprocity

If I could pick an engagement maxim and 'social media mantra' to live by it's this: The Ethic of Reciprocity.

Sometimes known as the 'The Golden Rule' it translates very simply to "Do unto others as you would have them do unto you." Ignore the religious undertones, in social media following The Ethic of Reciprocity means that you (and/or your brand) should exemplify the behavior you want to see from your community. Simple as that.

Be Excellent to Each Other.

Good manners and staying on-brand count for a lot, but that's not everything. What I'm talking about works everywhere, from LinkedIn business relations to sharing cat pictures on Twitter. Have you ever noticed that if you smile at people they smile back at you? Here's what I mean:

Do you want people to spam your community? No, of course not, so don't you spam the community either. Stop selling. Advise and educate.

Do you want your community to listen to what you have to say? Of course you do. So you're going to have to listen to them first and use what you hear to watch trends, build a better community, spot the opportunities, ask questions, and identify the influencers.

You want to start conversations with the thought leaders? Naturally. So credit them for their original thought when you tweet. It takes 10 seconds to add an authors twitter handle to a tweet when you are spreading good content. It might be on Mashable, or TechCrunch, or WebWorkerDaily, or some comic review site, but it still has an original author who invariably goes uncredited and the site takes all the glory. Sure, credit the site too, but I can't count the number of times I've been thanked personally for doing a few seconds research and adding the writer into the conversation (which has then started up a dialogue). By the same token, when someone re-tweets or credits you a quick personal 'thank you' and 'did you enjoy it?' go a long way to building relations.

Want to get more readers and more comments on your blog? How about subscribing to and reading more independent blogs. When you read something you enjoy leave a comment, and (if the situation fits) replies on comments, and add to the conversation. If your like minded (or even contentious but erudite) it encourages them to investigate you and to reciprocate. Nowadays comments are immediately traceable back to a profile page. You don't have to posting links and trying to sell all the time to make an impression and drive traffic.

Want fans and other pages to like, share and comment on your Facebook Page? Credit people and other communities using object tagging, and be positive and open to discourse. Use your Page profile to Like, share and comment on posts from fans and content from other Pages. Be pro-active and ask questions and share information that's going to stimulate the conversation.

I could go on (and I usually do) but I'm sure you get the gist. Social media is about being social. It's about conversation and engagement. It's a 2 way street, and (at all levels) it's about stimulus and response.

Be excellent to each other. Think social, and remember The Ethic of Reciprocity. As a social media mantra, it works.

Party on.

Friday, September 02, 2011

Watch This Space

I did a Webinar for Target Marketing/Hubspot through my friends at Conversify a few weeks ago, on the changing face of social and how G+ has moved the goal posts (again), and it inspired me to write a few words on the Conversify blog on the necessity for evolution in social media.

Unusually for me, I rather enjoyed writing this. I write over there at least once a month, have done for a while, and I can feel the old diarist in me peaking it's head over the trench. Take a look if you get the chance.

In fact, I enjoyed this so much so it's promoted me to dust of this old blog of mine and think about a re-design (when my good friend Lightfoot is well enough to do some graphical magic for me) and re-using it as a content hub for all things work and personal. It may just be, for the first time in a while, I'm starting to feel I have something to say. Nothing with a direction you understand. This isn't going to be a diatribe on all things social or marketing. In the words of Robert A. Heinlein: "Specialization is for insects."

Watch this space.