Friday, November 29, 2013

Where to Start With Blogger Outreach

Bloggers are awesome. Though I suppose I would say that…

They're a rich pool of passionate content creators with their own followers across a plethora of topics, from fly-fishing to post-natal stress. If you want it from the horse's mouth, and an impartial opinion based on experience, blogs are the place to go. 81% of Internet users trust bloggers, and 61% of the online population claim to have made a purchase decision based on a recommendation from something they’ve read that was posted by a blogger. That's serious fried gold.

Bloggers also drive those precious links, so beloved by SEO’s everywhere, and have an AuthorRank of their own to boost Google credibility. They have a social media audience, and their sites are peppered with distribution tools (or should be). Needless to say, bloggers are the influencers you want in your corner.

Modern PR agencies need to court bloggers for the future, and need to form relationships in the same way we do with journalists.

Here’s a few general guidelines to get you started:

Go to bloggers' conferences and say hi. Making a personal connection with the folks who publish in your niche is fantastic for future relationships - plus, it’s great to learn more about what the folks who are passionate about your niche really want and how they behave (in a cool supportive way, not a creepy stalker way). Try casting an eye over BloggerEdge for Blogger Events that might be on topic for you and in your area. There’s a lot of good stuff over at PRNewswire for Bloggers as well. There’s tonnes of conferences and meet-up’s around, from food bloggers to mummy bloggers and from automotive blogs to travel blogs. Do a bit of research, and pop along with a smile and a decent sized bag of high-quality freebies to an event that’s suitable for your industry.

top bloggers have a big damn audience

If you want to know who the top bloggers are in your field give Technorati a go. This is a big blog search engine and ‘authority index’ that lets you mooch around by keyword, to find article and topic info on the sort of blogs with the sort of following that’s going to help you spread the word.

There’s also ProfNet, which is packed with regularly updated story leads from jornos and bloggers (and there’s a free trial version available at time of writing). Google’s blog search tool is worth a punt and AllTop’s worth a good look (if a little tricky to search). I also like using Pinterest search to find relevant boards, clicking through to the blogs by topic, and then using 'Page Rank Status' in Chrome to quickly see if they have any SEO kahunas.

Go and have a read of some of these results pages, then (if you like what you see) make contact with the writers and owners via email or through Twitter and strike up a conversation. Hopefully, there’s space for future collaboration by the very virtue that you share a common interest and ongoing experience in the subject matter. Introduce yourself and form relationships - but don’t be a pushy gimp. Play nice. Make genuine relationships. No one likes a pushy gimp.

not well liked

Think about how relationships can be mutually beneficial. You have to put in to get back, that’s how life works. Why should a blogger give you valuable column inches in their ongoing labour of love?

Can you offer their readers a discount code? Do you have exclusive info you could release to them first, maybe in a high-quality branded Infographic? Are you going to pay them (though do bear in mind the recent ASA (Advertising Standards Authority) memo reiterating its policy on using blogs for advertising)? Have you got some cool freebies you could throw to them to use as prizes? Are you going to invite a group along to test drive your new prototype or for a look behind the scenes at your innovative new whatever's being made? If you’ve already build a good relationship, are you going to send them a bottle of festive vino and wish them joy of the season to keep them thinking about you? Can you post them a gift card with a view to getting an impartial review? If the blog you are looking at has already reviewed a competitor's products or services then this is a great place to start.

Yes, this is time consuming. Yes, you’ll get a lot of rejections or sometimes ignored. When you do build relationships a topical contact list will be beneficial for the future. Start collating now. List people by subject and make copious notes on contact methods etc.

These folks are assets. It’s important to treat them as such.

Tuesday, November 05, 2013

I Can Haz Job: The Social/PR Fit

It's my belief that digital, as an industry, doesn't truly understand social media. I realise this is something of a sweeping statement, and that there's obvious tie-ins to SEO and the digital side of content marketing, but on the whole it's a practice more akin to branding, traditional marketing, brand journalism, and public relations.

Social is about people, and the tools they use to communicate. It's about strategy, and agile growth. It's about sharing, caring, and giving. Yes, it's about numbers too, but above all it's about listening and making sure the right people get to hear what you have to say in the most open and sympathetic way possible. It opened my eyes when I was working with PRNewswire's Fuel Team in Denver, on the Agility platform, as to how close a match both disciplines truly are.

Over the past few weeks I've been to a crop of interesting interview with brands in markets as diverse as international banking, food retail, SEO agencies, online gambling, high-street outdoor wear, and mobile communications. None of them felt like a good fit, and then my efforts in social channels paid off big time. I met up with my good friend Trevor Palmer for lunch, and he made me an offer I couldn't refuse.

how could I say no?

Now Trev and I have been friends for a long time, since my days at the Associated Press, and he's the Director of Tank PR in Nottingham. He's just as addicted to Skyrim as I am, and he's a gentlemen of values not often found in our industry. In short, a good solid chap. His company, Tank, has been established in Nottingham's Lace Market district since he went out on his own back in January 2010. Their clients include such well-known faces as Hilay Devey (of Pallex and Dragons Den fame), Red Bull Events, the NSPCC, Holiday Inn, the list goes on.

With all the things that have been going on of late at Chez Hewitt - my dad being ill etc. - I've come to realise a few things. Quality of life is really key to where I am in my life. I want to work in an environment sympathetic to my skills, without 2 hours of travel each way, and where I have time and space to develop my craft. I want to work somewhere that it's easy to sell in my skills - because it makes sense for the clients - and where there's good content begging for distribution. Somewhere campaign focused, where I can add real creative input and be of real value to the communities I'll be creating strategy for.

Plus, I want some cool clients and it's been ages since I've been up for any awards ;)

Trev and I have been talking about working together again for over 10 years. When he offered me a place in the agency, I didn't have to think twice. If you'd like to know any more please give us a follow on LinkedIn, Facebook, Twitter, etc. I've gotta say, this couldn't have worked out better. His team are a really friendly and savvy bunch - MartinLouiseMax, Marie-Anne, Helen, Glen, etc. - and I know I'll learn a lot from them, and how PR really works, in the months to come. As an added bonus, someone makes a cuppa pretty much on the hour and there's a killer bacon butty shop just around the corner.

big damn 12' tank poster, next to my desk

I'll be speaking on behalf of Tank at the East Midlands High Growth Business Summit this month. It's a great line-up, and if you're in the Uk it'll be well worth coming along. Exciting times. I can't smile wide enough :)

Tuesday, October 08, 2013

Job Hunting Again. Any Takers?

So, I'm job hunting again. Let me explain:

2 months ago my dad had a couple of nasty strokes. Paralysed down one side and learning to walk again type of nasty. As far as original Hewitt's go there's only 2 of us left, and he needed my help. Consequently, and a massive thanks to Just Search here for being so cool about this, I've had to leave the agency and I've been helping my dad run his epoxy resin business and to get back on his feet.

Thankfully, being the original source of the Hewitt bloody-mindedness, he's well on his way up the path of recovery and I can now start job hunting again.

giz a job?

So, who needs a strategy level Social Media and Digital Marketing specialist? If you hear of anything interesting, gimme a shout and feel free to connect via my LinkedIn.

I'll be using a lot of social tools (I ended up working for 3 years in the US with Monique and the guys at Conversify thanks to Twitter) and a LinkedIn pro account has always seen me right in the past. I'll report back with anything interesting, and if anyones's got any suggestion please gimme a shout.

Wednesday, August 21, 2013

5 Punctuation and Grammar Rules all Marketers Should Know

Yes, I know this is filler because I haven't written anything in an age, but this is important.

As a content marketing bod, writer, p/t sub-editor and full-time anal retentive, I need to know this stuff. If you're in the same industry you should too. So pay attention and be told. I get things wrong all the time - nobody is perfect (except possibly Uma Thurman in Pulp Fiction) which is why as a team we check each others stuff. Here's a few things that come up a lot - especially when clients or tech folks are writing the content and we're converting them into English afterwards:

Punctuation Marks: Inside or Outside of Quotation Marks?

Good question, and here's the definitive answer according to Miss. Jackson (my high school English teacher). The comma and the full stop (that's a "period", for you colonials) should always be inside any quotation marks. The exclamation mark, question mark, semicolon, hyphen, interrobang (or whatever) all go inside the quotation marks but only if they apply to the thing you are quoting (and not the whole sentence). If they apply to the entire sentence then they get relegated to outside the quotation marks. Rocket science it ain't.

As an aside: quotation marks are for quoting speech, words, or sentences. Also, on occasion, to show irony. They are not, however, for emphasis (that's why God invented bold type).

Multiple Punctuation Marks

This is one of the (admittedly many) things in the world that genuinely annoys me. Unless you're writing in a brand voice and your brand is an annoying, illiterate, prepubescent ass-hat, this is always a no-no.

One exclamation mark at a time. Not 3. 1 mark good. 3 marks bad. "Oh my god, Becky. Her butt is so big!" not "Oh my god, Becky. Her butt is so big!!!"

Three dots at the end of a sentence for ellipsis. No more. Just 3. 3 shall be the number of the dotting. Not 5, or 6, or 7...

WTF is Title Case, and why Should I Care?

Now here's a "rule" that's not quite so cut and dried. Every blog or collection of articles has a style and you should ultimately establish and stick to that house style. That said, here's what I was taught in the 80's back in Miss. Jackson's class and it's stood me in good stead. This is also how they did it when I worked for Associated Press.

Basically, capitalise any words (including conjunctions and prepositions) that have four or more letters. If the title starts or ends with a word with less than 4 characters, make that a capital too. On top of that, all the usual abbreviation and capitalisation rules (like the capital letter "I") still apply.

Doing this saves those of us who are going to embed your article in Facebook from cursing your name as we have to alter the title to look literate before pressing "post".

Effect and Affect, and others.

"Affect" is (pretty much always) a doing word. It means to cause change or emotion. It can also mean to feign a false character trait (like "affectation").

"Effect" is a thing (noun) and a doing word (verb). We get "an effect", and something can "be effected" (i.e., "cause and effect").

'irregardless' is my killing word.

While we're on the indirect topic, "should of" should be "should have". "That" and "which" are not transferable, and the same is true of "less" and "fewer". Irony and Coincidence mean two completely different things - please look them up. Let's not even get started on "who" and "whom".

How the Hell do Apostrophes Work?

Don't worry, any non English major gets this messed up. Apostrophes are there to indicate possession for naming words, like "The Doctor's fez," but not with a personal pronoun such as: your, their, whose, and its. To indicate a plural possession you make the noun a plural and then use the apostrophe, like "the Timelords' robes."

Apostrophes are also used to replace letters in contractions ("has not" being "hasn't", "is not" being "isn't" etc.). Most of the time they're not there to show plurals. Very handy for brand voices where you want to be a bit more casual and friendly and have a younger tone.

The Basics of Using Semi Colons (and Colons).

Most of us have no clue how semi colons work, but we use them anyway because they look pretty. To be fair, I'm guilty of this myself.

It's actually pretty simple. just use a colon (like the vid above) when you want to list or clarify something. It can also be used to start (and to introduce the latter part of) a sentence. Eg. “The role of the colon is easy: to introduce.”

Semi colons are used when you get two clauses that can also work separately as two separate sentences, but they also work well together. In the rhythm of the sentence it's like a little pause, but not a comma. Eg. “His wife calls it socialising; Nik calls it anthropology.” Very often you can replace a semi colon with a full stop or a hyphen. Again, big thanks to Miss. Jackson (and for insisting I read Hitchhikers Guide).

So there you go. As a content creator, social gnu, and marketing bod these are the big ones that I find people ask about or have problems with. If you have any more please share, and feel free to point out any punctuation or grammar errors in the above.

Oh, and on a personal level, "like" is not a conjunction. Thank you.

Sunday, June 30, 2013

Setting Standards: A few Possible Ways to use Facebook Hashtags?

So Facebook now has hashtags.

I like them. No really, I do. They're great for passive outreach and sharing. They're awesome for research - you just follow the tag to riff on a topic. I am, however, starting to feel #spammed by the way some people are using them.

#rug #persianrugs #tiestheroomtogether

Sceptically, I do wonder what Facebook has further up their sleeve. They never do a damn thing without a financial reason, and rumours of them working on 'a reader' (thought I've been told it's not the RSS kind, and not a Google Reader replacement) have me curious as to how hashtags might fit into the equation for topical monitoring.

It's fair to say that uptake is slow amongst the average users, especially on personal accounts where security settings seem to make this all somewhat moot, but a lot of Facebook Page admins have charged into this with a degree of relish worthy of Heinz. So much so, many posts look ridiculous and there's a real chance of them alienating their community. I thought I'd throw my tuppence-worth in, for the record.

Don't use Them for Every Word

Stop it. Just, stop it. I've seen posts where almost every word had a hashtag in front of it, making the whole sentence just tags. It looks bloody stupid and your audience know they are being marketed to and that you no longer give a shit what your actually saying, just so long as someone sees it. It's not funny, or ironic, it's just bad practice. Bad Page admin, go to your box.

Keep Them Simple

It's not a game. You want to capitalize on others using your hashtag, so keep it as simple as possible.

Say your a crafts author like the good lady wife - tags like #jewellery (you might even want to try #jewelry), #steampunk, #crafts (maybe), or something like #beading or #cooking are going to be tags other people are going to use as well - and so the outreach on them (and chance of them being seen by genuinely interested parties) is going to be better. This isn't Twitter, so hashtags shouldn't have more than 2 words in them. Something like #steampunk is great, and #steampunkcooking might have it's place (if others are also using it), but #steampunkcookingonanengineblock is very likely a hanging offence.

#beer #carlsburg #couplesdatinginalex

There's one possible exception to this. Getting everyone to remember one tag (like #ourevent2013, or whatever) is sometimes easier. I you're trying to get people to submit photographs from an event, for example, using one tag across Google Plus, Twitter, Instagram, and now on Facebook, will always be the right way to go.

Cap at 3 or 4 of Value

Once again, don't spam your audience. Personally I've found 3 hashtags just about right, especially if you're still object tagging, location tagging, and all the other tactics. There's nothing written in stone here, but if you do any more it starts looking really obvious. If necessary add them at the end of what you're saying, though personally I don't mind them being part of the sentence so long as it looks natural. Also, bear in mind that hashtags don't act as links through the mobile interface so this can get shoddy pretty quickly on smartphones if it's tagged to bits but not linking anywhere - I'm reliably told this will, however, be coming on line in the next few days.

Find What's Appropriate

Take a look at what's popular by taking a look at a hashtag you think might work, and see what others are using as well (around the same subject). Right now topics and communities are still finding out what works and experimenting. You can poke around a stream and get to the content of a topic by using the URL structure like, where #bacon is the hashtag for the stream you want to look at. If you search on a hashtag through search (just type in #wordofyourchoice) you now also get a list of similar tags that other people are using, which I presume they'll be rolling out more functionality on soon. Do a bit of research to get the most bang-for-your-buck, and for gods sake think about it properly and what it's look like on the Page (no one wants another #susanalbumparty).

Don't be Flighty

If you have a core topic, try and stick with one core tag (the most appropriate that fits what you do) based on that topic. Play with the others, great, but tags are generating 'communities' around topics, and other admins (I've found) are sharing my tagged content more when I mention core topics (because they are using these tags to source topical content for their pages). If you're a digital artist and have a Page about your work, be sure to always use #digitalart (or whatever your peers are using) no matter what else you're doing. Rocket science it ain't. I fully anticipate different communities developing their own crowdsourced hashtags of choice as people become more confident with their use.

#harmless  #campwaconda  #ohmygodwereallgonnadie

So there you go. Facebook hashtags are still in their infancy, and we don't know where Facebook is going to go with this - or how they'll cleverly monetize it. It would be great if we could set some standards and best practices that are good for our communities and outreach instead of just using these for spam. When, after all, does spam ever work?

Thursday, May 23, 2013

Social Media Keyboard Shortcuts for Twitter, Facebook, Youtube, etc.

These lists of keyboard shortcuts (key combinations, like special moves in Tekken but not as much fun, that do stuff (allegedly) quicker than you can by clicking) are hidden around the Internet and I couldn’t find the useful ones all in one place when I needed them. So here they are, the big 4, Twitter, Facebook, Youtube, & Google Plus, all in one place. Hope they’re of use to folks (other than my interns). I use some of them all the time, others you forget about because the interfaces are clean enough to let you do what you want quick enough by mouse.

Flawless Victory?!

Twitter Keyboard Shortcuts

Some of these can be a bugger to find via the ‘new’ interface, especially Lists and Direct Messages, so I find I use some of these a lot (when I’m actually in the interface, which I’m not much as I mostly use Hootsuite for Twitter, but hey).

List of Shortcuts = ?

Next Tweet = J
Previous Tweet = K
Search = /
Refresh Fresh Tweets List = .
Page Down = Space

Home = G+H
Connect = G+C
Activity = G+A
Mentions = G+R
Discover = G+D
Profile = G+P
Favorites = G+F
Lists = G+L
Messages = G+M 
Settings = G+S
Go to User = G+U

Favorite = F
Reply = R
Retweet = T
Direct Message = M
New Tweet = N
Close All Open Tweets = L
Open Tweet Details = Enter

On Facebook it can get a bit fiddly in places, with some stuff working in some browsers and not others, but here’s a list to give you the skinny. Facebook being fiddly and awkward? Who knew.

General Facebook Keyboard Shortcuts

Next Post in Newsfeed = J
Previous Post in Newsfeed = K
Like/Unlike Photos = L

Facebook Keyboard Shortcuts: on Mac OS

3 keys to do anything sucks, but at least they have the common decency to put 2 of the keys next to each other. I don’t use as lot of these, but quick access to ‘Account Settings’ has become a regular, and ‘New Message’ is an obvious one.

New Message = Ctrl + Alt + M
Help Centre = Ctrl + Alt + 0
Home Page = Ctrl + Alt + 1
Profile Page = Ctrl + Alt + 2
Friend Request = Ctrl + Alt + 3
Messages = Ctrl + Alt + 4
Notification Centre = Ctrl + Alt + 5
Account Settings = Ctrl + Alt + 6
Privacy Settings = Ctrl + Alt + 7
Official Facebook Page = Ctrl + Alt + 8
Service Agreement = Ctrl + Alt + 9

Facebook Keyboard Shortcuts: on a Windows OS

Basically, these are the same as those for Mac, just ditch the ‘Ctrl’. Just for extra bonus points, if you’re using Firefox on a Windows machine you’ll have to add ‘Shift’ into the mix, plus the stuff below. This is probably some modern day ‘Mr. Miyagi’ trick to turn the youth of today into a secret ninja army. Go Bill. If I had your money I’d try and develop super powers in people too. Anyway...

New Message = Alt + M
Help Centre = Alt + 0
Home Page = Alt + 1
Profile Page = Alt + 2
Friend Request = Alt + 3
Messages = Alt + 4
Notification Centre = Alt + 5
Account Settings = Alt + 6
Privacy Settings = Alt + 7
Official Facebook Page = Alt + 8
Service Agreement = Alt + 9

Youtube Keyboard Shortcuts

Dead simple.

Remember, be kind.

Play/Pause = Space
Rewind = ◀
Fast Forwards = ▶
Volume Up = ▲
Volume Down = ▼
Full Screen = F
Exit Full Screen = Esc
Mute = M
Finding a place in the video by percentage is just 1 = 10% to 9 = 90%.

Google Plus Keyboard Shortcuts

Now I use these quite a bit, especially for scrolling in the timeline, though the new layout confused the b’jesus out of me for a bit.

Key Board Shortcuts Menu = ?

Next Post = J
Previous Post = K
Open/Close Current Post = O
Next Comment on Current Post = N
Previous Comment on Current Post = P
Comment on Current Post = R
Load Fresh Posts = L

Search = /
Send Feedback = @
List of Pages = ◀ (then ‘Enter’ to open the page)
Page Content = ▶

Also try, for shits and giggles if you're bored, try this in chat:

/ponies - OMG!, a small horse runs through chat... also try /ponystream
/pitchforks - an angry mob, AKA Frankenstein charges across chat.
/bikeshed - will swap out the background color for everyone in the chat.
/shydino - a small coy dinosaur lumbers in.

So there y’go. Hope that’s of use to someone :)

Friday, April 19, 2013

Why you Should Consider Adding Google Plus Comments

Sharing is important. Interaction is our business. Commentary is a big part of this.

As such I've always rather liked the concept of Disqus (though it never really seemed to catch on) and the likes of JetPack that extended the experience and attempted to tie commentary and the social world together.

Recently, since Facebook produced Facebook Comments (all be it a bit fiddly to set-up - here's a decent FB Comments Wordpress plugin if you need it), the landscape of commentary has become irrevocably skewed towards social integration. For community management, this is great news.

Yesterday, somewhat inevitably, Google+ flopped out Google+ Comments.

Put simply, when folks comment on your content it's also shared on Google Plus. This works both ways, and if a visitor shares your stuff on G+ it'll also appear on your content, and if a dialogue then ensues it's there on G+ and your site/blog for all to see. Pretty simple, right?

This is a piece of cake to turn on in Blogger - in fact, next time you log in you'll probably be promoted to do so - and flawlessly connects your blog (or website) to the wider Google+ platform.

While it's not official, there's already a Google+ Comments plugin for Wordpress that seems to do the job for this - I've no doubt there'll be more to follow.

So why do you want this?

Cos this is some serious gourmet shit.

Social Signals - essentially, the human component in modern SEO. The more shares, +1's, and activity within Google Plus, the more Google is likely to favour you in it's 'organic' search results. Every comment now has the potential to be a share in G+. Every share in G+ is a social signal, and (if you're all set-up properly) a boost to your AuthorRank as well.

The jury is still out on just HOW effective this will be, but with Google doing more and more to integrate G+ and the likes of AurthorRank into the SEO mix, this can't be ignored. Getting closer to giving us a self contained web experience within the G+ walled garden, Google Plus Comments is just yet another string to SEO's bow in the pursuit of preferential rankings.

Add it today. It's early days, but it seriously can't hurt.

Tuesday, April 16, 2013

How to Automatically Post Content to LinkedIn and Google+

Sometimes clients ask for things that you recommend they don't do, and still want it done anyway. One of the big things I come across is auto-posting of blog content.

Posting like this to Facebook, due to EdgeRank, is totally pointless - your content will never get seen as Mr. Zuckerberg and co. will see any third party app. (an external tool or internal Facebook Page add-on) as spammy (like the Poker apps of old) and devalue your posts accordingly. Automation in Facebook means your content is 80% less likely to be seen by your audience. Don't do it.

For some channels (like LinkedIn and Google Plus) it can be done, but the channels themselves don't offer it as a service and (certainly in Googles case) they seem to actively discorage it.

Personally I think all social media posts should be individually crafted for the best results. This should be done 'by the channel', with sympathy to the audience and client goals, and should offer your followers the best experience possible. Yes this is time consuming, but results always are.

Automation for business rarely works well.

Sometimes, however, the client just wants it posted when they publish and to the devil with the consequences. It's not rocket science to fudge this using an RSS feed, but to me this feels almost like grey-hat tactics. In reality, the client pays the mortgage and you can only preach about best practices for so long. This had to be done, so I had to find a simple way to make it happen. If you ever need to do this, here goes.

First set-up a new Hootsuite account for your client. I'm a big fan of Hootsuite. I've written before about creating custom search code for Twitter etc., and once you delve under the hood there's a wealth of good stuff we can turn to our advantage.

Next, on the start screen, click on the option in text at the bottom that says 'Add A Different Social Network'. If you're already logged into an existing account click the button that says '+ Add Social Network', under your list of streams. You'll then get the pop-up, below.

On the left you'll see a list of options - including Google+ and LinkedIn (this process works the same for both, so let's do LinkedIn as an example).

Click on the LinkedIn option, and you'll see the 'Connect to LinkedIn' dialogue.

You'll need to be logged in to your LinkedIn or Google+ accounts already to save any messing about. If you are, Hootsuite will sift through the Pages you belong to and those you Admin. It'll then give you the option to pick one.

Just select the Page you want to post to and click 'Finish Importing' down there on the bottom right.

The next step is to connect an RSS feed. If you have trouble finding the feed there's a good little 'how to', here. If you want to get an RSS feed from your Twitter, I wrote a post about that recently (and that has a whole extra level of potential).

Anyway, just nip back to the main interface (the 'dashboard') in Hootsuite and click on the cog symbol ('settings') over on the left. Then choose 'RSS/Atom'.

Next click on the '+' icon next to the 'My RSS/Atom Feeds' drop down (when you roll over it it says 'Add New Feed').

A box will pop-up with all the fields you need to import your feed and set up protocols. It's pretty self explanatory. Just add the RSS URL at the top, then click in the box that says 'Network to send feed items to' and attach your channel (double check it's the right one, those social channel icons are tiny).

You can leave the scheduling stuff, unless you have specific requirements, but it's good to put something in the 'Prepend text to each message' box to say it's yours and from your blog or whatever. Above I'm just using our agency as an example, I'd NEVER do this for channels I personally manage.

Press 'Save Feed' (bottom right), and Bob's your Uncle.

Remarkably painless, once you figure it out. I still maintain there's no substitute for manually crafting posts, as many of these will be truncated and won't have any call to action or other useful stuff, but if you have to do this I can testify it works.

I feel slightly dirty. I'm going for a shower...

Tuesday, April 02, 2013

4 Pieces of Advice for Starting out in Digital Marketing

My Dad gave me 4 pieces of advice when I was young. If you know my Dad you'd know he's a bit 'special', all be it in an awesome way. They were as follows:
  • Never fall in love from behind.
  • Don't set fire to yourself.
  • Never play cards with a man who has the same first name as a city.
  • Never drop a baby boy on his head...
I rest my case.

I was thinking about this the other day, having just narrowly avoided setting fire to myself, and I thought about applying this to what I do and wondered what 4 pieces of trite advice I'd give to younger folks setting out into the work in on-line marketing. I have no offspring of my own, which is a plus for humanity, so here we go:

“The more difficult something is, the more rewarding it is in the end.”

1) Go Back to Basics
The brand is the core of everything... 90% of the old pillars of marketing still work in the digital realm, though admittedly with a twist or two. Simple branding is the core of all businesses. B2B, B2C, big, small, whatever. Just because we work in digital doesn't mean this is something we can ignore. If you want the edge in what's now a growing and competitive area, you need a proper brand strategy (more than you need air).

Your brand is your promise to your customer, and your internal and external guidelines for communication. It's what sets you apart from the competition, and it's what tells your clients what they can expect from your and why they should trust you to provide the goods and services they need in exchange for their hard earned dollars.

Every damn thing you do comes from your brand strategy. Without it you can't even identify the key messages you'll be communicating about the product or service. Your voice, your distribution channels, what images you use, your motivations, where you concentrate your efforts, how you word your content, the lot. Frankly, you can't do an effective job without having a strong foundation to build on, and that means being comfortable with how we do the basics.

2) Remember you Know Jack, and Shit (and Jack left town).
Marketing is an agile process, or should be. Looking at the figures will give you insight.

Never presume you know how the target demographic will react. Make sure everything is measurable, and keep measuring it to see if it works. If it works, why? If it doesn't work, fiddle with it or scrap it.

Don't be afraid to make mistakes, but learn from them when you do. Get a bit nerdy about numbers, but don't let it stifle your creativity.

3) Be Bloody Amazing
Boring is, well, boring.

The best people I know (at what we do) have a drive to learn all the time. They are a little bit obsessed, at the exclusion of a lot of other things, about using what they know and about leaning more.

They are polymaths. They have a myriad of interests, skills, and obsessions. They suck up information like a Dyson does dust bunnies. They read industry blogs and feeds. They tweet, and listen to industry influencers. They write, and force themselves to learn as they do. They experience life by going to conferences and talking to other like-minded peeps. They travel, or go to the theatre, they go on courses or to conferences, or love cinema, or create in virtual worlds. They produce video, or audio, or write, or mentor. They seek the opinion of others and amalgamate ideas into something greater than the sum of it's parts.

Truly dynamic people, who stimulate debate, and action, and put IN to the Internet (we still spell that with a capital 'I', right?) have the ideas - and for many of us this doesn't come naturally. These are the people who are more than just consumers of other peoples data. They pro-actively contribute, and learn in the process. You have to work at it at first, but once you start the ball carries on rolling.

4) Get Sign-off From the Client
I've worked in agencies, or for organisations with multiple stakeholders, for most of my working life. I've learnt this one from my own folly and from watching the folly of others. I'm serious here.

Get them to sign the initial contract. The design doc. The brand messaging doc. The keyword research. The marketing plan. Every damn thing where a decision is involved that will impact the final result. Most importantly, get them to sign to say the work is finished (based on the original brief they signed to commit to a pre-defined conclusion). No surprises, for all parties.

If it's all signed off it doesn't come back and bite you in the ass, and also avoids feature creep. Remember: If it's signed-off, feature creep turns into up-sell.

Trust me on this last one. In fact, get it as a tattoo.

So there you go. I've been working with a few bright sparks from Agency Life at Manchester Uni. recently, who might find this amusing. Yes, it's all pretty obvious and pretty basic, but so was my dads original advice (which has always stood me in good stead).

Oh, and find a really bloody good accountant...

Saturday, March 23, 2013

3 Tools for Creative Social Media Images

A picture paints a thousand words, if you believe Frederick R. Barnard or Telly Savalas, and images certainly help boost EdgeRank in Facebook, stand out in G+ (which has a few built in tools of it's own), and make for something to populate the profile with (over on the left of your main page) in Twitter.

There's a tonne of photo manipulation tools out there that link to your profile, from Instergram to Hipstermatic, and all the tools like them that FourSquare and the others have crow-barred into their mobile interfaces - which are fun to play with though really social media channels (or channel supports) in their own right. This is not what I want to highlight. What I want to share is a few tools for making custom images, because sometimes you need something a bit special and it's these that get the likes and get passed around. Yes, it takes some effort, but effort is invariably rewarded with community support. What we're looking for, to be blunt, is the more 'pinable' kind of stuff without needing the skills to do all this in Photoshop.


Ok, I love this tool. I use it a lot for more fan based channels where I want to highlight quotes or whatever, but sometimes for clients too. If you need a simple sign or graphic, this is fried gold.

here's one I made earlier

As with all these tools it's not the tool but how you use it that counts. Think about how to get the best out of this and make sure it's of value.

Let's say you're my good lady wife, with a new Steampunk cooking book coming out this year. How about using it for seeding recipe ideas or quoting Victorian literature about food? Say you're an accountancy firm like my buddies over at Sedulo (who rock all over social by the way). How about picking out a 2013 Budget quote that's going to affect business? Posting topical quotes, inspiring messages, home-made haiku, tips, hints, whatever suits the channel or brand and will be fun for the community, will help spread the good word and show you care enough to make something just for them.

I've got some deep admiration for this as an online app. It's apps like this that really give you an insight into where the web is heading in the future, when tools like this will be in the cloud instead of locally on your machine. PicMonkey, even the free version, does pretty much everything (and does it very stylishly) that you need to edit imagery for your communities. Stickers, textures, adding text (with a decent font bank), some decent touch-up tools, etc. The 'Themes' area has some nice groups of tools to help you make a start. You can see a features list on the site. You can also edit screen grabs and stuff with the Chome add-on. Nice.

The opportunities are fairly obvious, but I find I use it mostly for making easy collages of images and for adding text.

Animated GIFs

When I make a GIF (on the Mac) I use GIF Brewery, which goes for a song at £2.99 in the app store. It's pretty no-frills, but it lets you crop and save presets and that's really all you need.

Animated GIFs are pretty hot right now, and have been getting a resurgence since the advent of Tumblr. I've always had a massive soft spot for them and used to do them the old fashioned way with stills in Fireworks. They work great in G+, and for blogging obviously, but Facebook and Pinterest (while they recognise them) don't animate them. Google Image search also has an animated image search now, so it's a nice little nod for SEO moving forwards. I also like them (if subtle) for Twitter profile images, where appropriate.

Animated images give a special kind of impact, offer a slice of life, attract the eye, get passed around, and often use imagery taken out of context to make a point or (with text) to highlight a message. Choosing what clips you use, and where and how you use them, is the difficult and creative part. Big corps. are now using them for movie trailer previews, the possibilities are a lot of fun.

a special kind of impact

I'm told that GIF Animator is good on the PC, and Gickr and GIFSoup (which also has a big collection of pre-made stuff) are a couple of the better ones on-line - but to be honest I've not tried them. For smartphones there's GifBoom for the iPhone and Android, which let's you do the necessary live and for free - I've tried this but couldn't really find a use for it at the time. If you find anything good let me know, I'd love to add them if you've got recommendations.

So there you go. Something a bit different. Social channels are catering for images and the web is getting more visual. Making something unique, putting into the web (and not regurgitating the same old drok) is where the shares are. Go make something cool.

Thursday, March 21, 2013

Leveson Policy Needs to be Reviewed for Bloggers

As Chairman of Enquiry of the ongoing investigation into the practices, culture and ethics of the press, Lord Leveson wants to regulate the print media. He has suggested that judges should have the power to award full costs and ‘exemplary damages’ against any unregulated publishers.

Having worked in publishing in the past, for the DMGT and Associated Press for 7 years, I’ve been keeping a casual eye on this. What he's proposing are fairly strict measures, and the press need them (not Associated I must add, to my knowledge) but this policy is steeped in ambiguity. It's very possible Lord L only ever saw this new legislation applying to the large and unwieldy print publishers and not to websites (unless they belonged to these publishers), but that’s not something that’s made it into the small print.

incredible naivety

What I’m seeing now, in the current proposal before the House of Lords on Monday, is that these regulations apply to any size of publishers and are going to apply to all UK websites. This is totally bonkers. They also appear to apply to anyone who generates content for (and publishes) a blog. This could have extreme repercussions, with ordinary blog publishes and small businesses potentially falling foul of crippling regulation and forcing many to stop the publishing that is an essential part of their SEO, community support, and content marketing. If there's more than one author of the blog, it looks like they'll also be forced to join a 'self regulator'. You can see a list of the current rulings, and their wording, here.

It seems to me that this policy needs to be seriously reviewed. There's serious lack of clarity in the current proposal, and wording and delivery like this is frankly naive in relation to the developing digital landscape of UK business.

As stand alone entities, websites where never a part of the phone hacking scandal. They shouldn't be required to be crow-barred into self-regulation in this way. It’s frankly crazy, and this needs to be reviewed before going before the House of Lords on Monday.

If you feel as I do, please take a look at the facts and consider adding your signature to the Open Rights Group campaign on this matter.

Every signature helps, and even if it doesn't it'll make us feel like we tried.

Sunday, March 10, 2013

How to Identify Your Brand Evangelists

In social media, brand evangelists are worth their own weight in gold. These are the fine folks who are behind your product or service enough to pro-actively tell the rest of the world about it with little provocation and with maximum gusto. These are the folks who 'share', 'plus', 'like', 'comment', contribute, and are truly passionate about spreading what you do out there in the world.

identifying those who'll spread your message

As a percentage of your overall community it's difficult to say how many you will have, but you will have them (to varying degrees). Initially they will probably be staff or family members, but if you keep a community active and engaged you'll soon start to see more - from experience I'd say it's probably around 1 in 300. Without going to the trouble of paying for software to identify these people for you (you'll want to be considering this when a social channel goes over around 5000ish, as that seems to be the 'confusion tipping point' (for me anyway)) just create a decentralized (Google Docs) spreadsheet of any individual comments, the name of the person doing the commenting, and the name of the forum, blog, review site (like Yelp or Review Centre), or social media channels (Tumblr, Twitter, Facebook, YouTube, etc.) where the comment appears. Comments tend to stand out better then simple button clicks ('likes', yada, yada) or shares, and commentary is a stronger mark of evangelism. If you find an individual (or firm) chatting about you across multiple channels they're definitely what you're looking for, but people can be passionate in just one channel too (especially social) so that's not a dominating indicator. What they are saying, and the frequency they are saying it, are usually the big clue.

NB: Just a quick note, a Brand Evangelist is not necessarily an Influencer. Influencers are the peeps with the big networks and followings, but they may not give a pair of fettered dingos kidneys about you or your brand. If you can get a Brand Evangelist who IS an Influencer then that's great, but for this exercise they're two different things - as a casual observer I like to use the Klout tracker Chrome extension for Twitter to keep an eye on Influencers who might be passing stuff to their followers, and I run down my list of recent engagements in the 'connect tab' to see if anyone stands out. I'm not a massive fan of the likes of Klout, Trackr, or Peer Index as (if the truth be known) I don't honestly trust the accuracy of their figures - but they are a handy first indicator.

Fostering NEW Evangelists

creating people who'll sing your praises

To make new evangelists in social media you need to find new opportunities to make conversations. This means going out there and talking, giving things away, soliciting reviews, all the usual stuff. Reach out and partner up with suppliers, people who share similar ethics (like green recycling policies, or those who are involved in the same charity work as you, etc.). Be the 'real deal' and join conversations about things you or your brand are interesting in - don't just flog your widgets. You need to help people, talk to people, and give them practical solutions. Try using social to run simple competitions, even just for small fun prizes - basically, stimulate people to talk about you.

The obvious method is to just push the boat out a bit and to give good service - for example, my break light went out and I was passing the dealership I bought my car from so I popped in for a bulb. They insisted on fitting it for me, and not charging me for the bulb. I'll be an evangelist for Smart of Derby now forever. It cost them 10 minutes, a bulb, and a smile, and now they have my good will across my entire network of friends, fans, and followers.

Tools You Can Use

If communities get too unwieldy for manual comment collation, or you want to examine trends by individuals in 'likes', 'shares' etc., you're going to have cough up some pennies. Tools can be well worth it as part of a short-term out reach campaign, or for larger communities over longer periods. There's plenty out there for Influencers, but not that many for Brand Evangelists (i.e. filtering out the Kool Aid drinkers in specific communities).

ViralHeat is pretty simple, probably the best for this, and has a 14 day free trial then only $9.99 a month. There's also Twesier, which has has a Pro package that let's you sort your friends and followers by popularity, influence, activity levels, etc. with 7 days free trial and then £9.99 a month.

What To Do With Evangelists

Once you know who these people are it's time to get creative. How about inviting them to events or to come and take a look behind the scenes? How about sending them new products or asking them about new services? How about just sending them a bottle of wine when they've just a special occasion, and saying congratulations? How about giving them some money off codes to spread around amongst their friends. There's lots of options, and they all foster sign-up, inbound links, good will, word-of-mouth, and eventually sales. It's really down to what suits the brand personality and to what suits your wallet.

Hope that's of use, and if you know any more tools for specifically identifying a Brand Evangelist (over influencers) please let me know, I'd love to add them.

Tuesday, March 05, 2013

The Pros, Cons, and Alternatives to Buying Friends, Fans, and Followers

There are services out there who will sell you YouTube 'views', 'likes' and 'subscribes', Vimeo plays, Tumblr likes, Facebook follows and 'likes', Twitter followers, Instagram followers, even SoundCloud plays, in fact pretty much anything you need to boost the ranks of your social channels if numbers are all you care about.

Whether I think this is right or not - I often have to explain the benefits and the downfalls of this for clients because, put simply, most of them ask. Most people see these services and think "Why shouldn't I throw fifty quid at this to get the ball rolling and get the Pages hopping - can you do this for us Nik?" Let's assume community growth is part of the strategy, here's the impartial answer I give them:

The Pros

Having a healthy number of followers boosts credibility, meaning others are (psychologically) more likely to sign-up and join the community, watch the video, eat the Soylent Green, whatever, because they believe it is of value because of the perception of worth indicated by the 'likes', 'plays', 'friends', 'followers', etc.

It's probably cheaper than social ads.

The Cons

Most of these services are compleatly untargeted and/or fake accounts, even if they claim to be otherwise. As a consequence people don't care about the Page or account they are following, and their interaction stops here. If you could get blood out of a stone Mount Everest would be covered in black pudding factories, it's not, and it's the same thing trying to squeeze interaction out of bought friends, fans, and followers.

Friends might not be as reliable as you think...

There is an ongoing drop off to followers and subscribers that will continue indefinitely. A percentage of these accounts are real people, and eventually these real people will realize you are clogging up their stream with news and stuff they don't care about (probably because your chatting away in a different language or not about Justin Bieber). Eventually they will unsubscribe, and user numbers will start to fall almost immediately - this is especially true with Twitter where many of these are opt-in-bulk-follow-back arrangements.

Channels, notably Facebook, are cracking down on this. Back in August they announced a new automated system to weed out fake accounts and followers, and said they'd penalise numbers accordingly. There's not much point paying for followers if they are going to be removed automatically. If they take this further and penalise EdgeRank, for example, you're in a world of pain. Technically it's against most sites terms and conditions, so you also run the risk for getting your whole profile wiped - which I doubt makes for shits and giggles.

The Alternatives

So I'm going to look at this simply. How would I spend that £50 (or less) to get better results?
  • Targeted Facebook social ads (or Promoted Posts if you've got something good to say). At least this 50 quids worth of targeted accounts will care about what you do and you might actually get some shares or sales out of it. How about some LinkedIn ads to target companies that need your services? If you need a bit more money signed of for this, how about creating your own and ploughing anything you make on blogs AdSence back into your social marketing? If you go for tight local targeting that £50 will be much better spent.
  • Contests, sweepstakes, giveaways. I've always liked WildFire apps for this, they keep everything under correct terms and conditions and they're cheap as chips.
  • Fan-specific (you gotta be a 'liker') coupons and discounts (see WildFire apps again)
  • A reveal page. If they don't click 'like', they don't get the good stuff. Here's a simple how to.
  • Do some outreach. Here's a trick I use for Hootsuite to find Twitter peeps. The rest is chatting in groups on LinkedIn and being happy to answer some questions on the likes of at QuoraYahoo Answers, and commenting on blogs and Tumblr etc. It'll cost you nothing but time.
  • Posting awesome content - take some time to create some white-paper quality stuff, and to spread it around creatively. With a bit more time build an Editorial Calendar and some user personas, and get your colleagues in sync to produce some serious stuff that people will actually want to read.
  • Using viral apps like Questions and Offers. It's all there in Facebook's interface, ready to rock.
  • Asking f/f/f's to tell their buddies (which is free, but you gottta give them a reason to do so).
  • Embed video everywhere. Videos on YouTube are great for long tail search, but embedding Facebook vids in your blog content is a greater reason for people to click-through to your community.
  • Check your literature and website. Are your social channels EVERYWHERE? Have people got the URL and links in front of them so that they can easily find your Pinterest, LinkedIn, Twitter, G+, Flickr, whatever?
I could add a lot more alternatives, but I'm starting to bore myself. Weighing up the pros and cons seems to have obvious results. Personal biased aside, that's a lot you can do with just a tiny bit more effort that will be a lot more effective than paying for numbers. There's no substitute for effort, and that's where you should place your £50. If you don't want the hassle yourself, imagine that money is going towards an hours work and to someones wages within your company, it's often a lot easier to justify to the powers-that-be.

Monday, February 25, 2013

How to Support SEO With Social Media and Content Marketing

I've worked, on and off, in SEO for over 16 years. It's far from my speciality these days, but I do work for an agency where the core business product is search and I'm often asked what social can do to help. Here's a few suggestions I give the folks in the SEO department when they ask.

NB: Tweeting used to help in getting content indexed. Re-tweets helped it to get indexed quicker. Alas, since Google stopped paying for the full fire hose of Twitters data this no longer appears so (especially if you only get small numbers of RT's). It's still worth doing, but don't hold your breath.

Link Bait

If you create shareable content it'll get passed around, and (more importantly) linked to. Putting the time in to creating video, infographics, audio, a bit of creative meme riding, finding and crafting the right images - content like this is fried gold if you want people to organically link to your posts or site. There's no substitute for the well researched and nicely presented content that pushes your audiences buttons. Embedding that into blog post and into other services promotes sharing and linking.

Link bait
Linking to Channels

For SEO, forget fancy embed codes from the likes of Facebook on your main site (yes, this goes against all the best community building practice, I know. Saying this feels like playing Tie-Fighter after a month of playing X-Wing, just dirty). The Facebook embed code, even if it does promote sign-up by showing your friends who already like a Page, slows a site down so much it's like watching stoned turtles stampede through peanut butter. Go with direct links, above the fold, and a clear 'trawlable' line of access to the social channels. Also, tag them. Putting alt text in place that says the likes of "Follow [blah] on Twitter" is another way to get the brand name in there, and is great accessibility practice.

Get on G+, and Develop Your AuthorRank

Google Plus is getting better. No, really. Not only is it getting more and more usable but Google is making it valuable for search rankings. Posting your blog content here, and actively going about redistributing it by promoting +1's and developing a community is 'where it's at.' How you do that is a whole book in it'self, but starting now with basic set-up and posting is a positive way forwards. Google Plus also seems to promote rapid indexing and trawling, with any 'shares' and '1+s' meaning it's trawled and indexed even quicker.

In the next few years AuthorRank has the potential to become the backbone of credibility. Get your G+ profile linked to your blog content. Now. Start building your reputation. Now. For more on this check my 'Why You Can't Ignore AuthorRank' post from back in January. AuthorRank is like PageRank for individuals, and it's all about 'social signals'. Once you've got your profile linked to your blog you can start to generate credit for the content you create - the 'scoring criteria' runs on factors like 'likes', 'shares', 'retweets', 'comments', '+1s' and the influence of the folks (your followers) doing the sharing. Get this sorted now, you'll thank me for it in 2014. Rel=Author tags are important, and the more you write on a given subject and the more 'love' it gets, the more Auntie Google will pimp your stuff.


In general, Pinterest seems to be good for inbound links. General good practices on Pinterest (adding prices, linking across platforms, filling out the whole profile, fresh content, linking to individual products, categorising boards, adding keywords to descriptions, etc.) seem to be a real boon, and we've got clients that pick up PageRank from being connected to their higher PageRank Pinterest accounts. Every little helps, right?

Write Some Original Quality Content

Not average run-of-the-mill content. Good original content, just like the link bait above. 2-3 fresh posts a week and Google will love you for it - though bigger brands will need to do this a lot more often (probably as much as 2-3 times a daily). Create posts people want to share and link to. Share what you know - remember, you're not giving away information your spreading your knowledge and enhancing your credibility. One blog post that gets shared is worth the time it takes to write 6 blog posts that just sit there gathering social dust. People like to share good useful information from sources they trust that's helped them or they believe will help other people. Often this will be about those common interests and the answer questions they didn't even know they needed an answer to - go take a look at Quora or Yahoo Answers and have a search to see what folks want to know. If it's new, funny, topical, or bordering on the obscure, people love it. Think about working in those compelling (and actionable) calls-to-action and tantalising headlines, and don't cram articles with keywords (those days are gone). Keep your content relevant and accurate, and grow your credibility as an authority. Stimulate debate. Be awesome. Rock your peers. Get writing, but make sure it's decent stuff.

Promote Sharing

If sharing is good for content distribution and you want to up your 'social signals', make sure it's easy for the reader to share (yeah, I know, the theory's hardly rocket science). There's a few good services for this that add all the relevant (the key word here is 'relevant', no one wants to wade through a bazillion icons) social shearing features - try AddThis, ShareThis, or Lockerz - they all do the same thing in different ways.

Also, just as a point, if you spend a few pennies to promote your social posts and get them under the nose of folks who will share it, well that's just good 'white hat' tactics ;)

sharing is good

All this is just scratching the surface. If you want to boost your SEO through distributing content via social media this is a good start. How you get people to do that is another story, but putting the back-bone in place so that they can is an excellent start. Quality and access, that's all it takes.

Tuesday, February 19, 2013

The Online Marketing Pyramid

I work with a lot of different brands. One of the first things I ask a client when creating an online marketing plan is to see any branding documents, and it's amazing the amount of companies who have nothing in place at all. No written guidelines to say who or what they are. Nothing to document their core brand traits. No written statement that details their key values.

Without this we can't create a brand personality. We have no clear rules to begin creating even the most basic voice for them on the world wide web, nor anything to reflect in design work or creating copy. I've even heard a client say "Well the logo is red..." thinking this was what I meant. This isn't a bad thing usually, and most small (one-man) brands have values so clear and personal they never reply need to be carved in stone - but for many this a great help in highlighting their core foundations and what their brand represents. That is, after all, the core of branding - identifying what differentiates you from others in your field and what your business or service represents to your customers. Online, a brand isn't something you can measure with quality control like you can with a physical product. Plus, logos and packaging can come and go, but the essence of a brand stays the same. Where's your frame of reference?

When this happens I run through a very simple exercise with them, and I'm going to document that here. I'm going to go back to a very basic technique, The Brand Pyramid, shown to me in a hotel room in Monterey by my good friend Monique Elwell some 4 or 5 years ago. This is an invaluable first step and one of the classic and core principals of branding - ta Monique. Added to this is the nuancing for digital marketing that I've learned from practice and added over the years.

stay on brand

The Traditional Brand Pyramid has 4 steps, and so does ours. There's a lot of different version and books on this, but this is the basic skinny without all the complicated fluff.

First, at the base, you identify your Brand Essence. This is the foundation of what's going to be your companies long-term positioning. A reason for doing. A mantra for success. This is the root of the evolution of a product and how you'll communicate with the world and how you'll support your customers. For Crayola, their brand essence is to strive to 'free the “What If?” questions in kids’ minds'. For Hallmark Cards they use the memorable words 'Enriching Lives'. The BBC has an ongoing remit to 'enrich people's lives with programmes and services that inform, educate and entertain.'

Next step up the pyramid is your core Values. These are verbs, not nouns, and should never change. They should represent your intrinsic culture, your belief, and your companies spirit. There are 1000's of potentials, from 'respect' to 'competency', from 'harmony' to 'humility' and from 'spontaneity' to 'wonder'. There's a great list here if you need some options to get you thinking - there's no point me replicating other peoples hard work. Pick 4 or 5, no more. Keep referring back to them, this IS who you are.

The next layer up is your Attributes. They can be viewed as adjectives that describe your brand both to other company members and to the wider world. I wrote a post on this over on the Just Search blog, and (once again) there's no point me duplicating another list. Again, choose just 4 or 5 (it's easyer to start with 8 or so, then trim them back). Take a look here, you'll see what I mean.

Finally we get to your Brand Personality. In most cases these are seen as a list of human characteristics which you assign to your brand, however, in social and content marketing we take a step further and craft these into an actual character. I do this a lot. 3 or 4 of them a month. It's one of the few benefits of being a table-top role-player since the age of 8 (except for maths and mapping skills). This is an invaluable 'hat' a client can wear when talking in social (and and content creation) that has the voice they need to represent them online. A wrote another article on this, as part of the general process, over on the work blog - see: Finding Your Voice in Social Media Pt.3: Strategic Character Creation. This is a 'character sheet' and those important standards that can be passed on to whoever's doing the brand messaging and communicating in the social channels, plus acts as a voice for blogging, newsletters, everything external really, and as commonality across all ares of communication. Every element of this should reflect your brand attributes. It also helps to find an image to represent this too, a person or individual (human or otherwise) that sums up the brand personality - and this can often be the hardest part of the exercise.

This process is simple, and more useful than you might think. Even the images you use should reflect the key elements of your brand. Your logo, your voice, your video content, your blog posts, the way you speak to customers, your drives, your motivations. It should be a constant point of referral for everyone and the very foundation of your marketing.

Give it a go. It's invaluable, trust me, and if you find it useful give this a plug somewhere and spread the good practices. Just because we work in digital, doesn't mean we should be cutting corners.