Exhausted and happy…

There are times when running your own business or freelancing can appear to be the toughest thing in the world, and times when it can be the most amazing experience. And last night was definitely one of the better times for a number of reasons, to the extent that I was still smiling when a London driver managed to head the wrong way around a junction and almost run me over as he went across a red light from the wrong side. It’s that feeling you get when you’ve been exercising or working out for ages and feel tired, but also that you could keep going forever, and there’s three key reasons that gave me a high that’s continued as I’ve been sat here working on my businesses today.

Helping others helps you immensely:

I’ve been extremely honoured to become a tutor with the PMA Group, having benefitted from one of their intensive in-house training courses early in my career. They’re incredibly focused on providing the right tools to make sure course graduates get into employment or can utilise what they’ve learnt immediately, and as a result, all their tutors are working in the areas they teach. I remember how hard I had to work on the course I took, and really did enable me to start producing work which met the high standards of the sub-editors and editors I’ve gone on to work with.

It’s very intensive because they don’t want anyone wasting time or money en route to completing the course, which meant covering online news, blogging, social media, analytics and mobile in two long and productive days, but the talent and enthusiasm of everyone on the course not only impressed and inspired me, but also meant we covered everything to the point that everyone had a solid grounding and framework on which to build in their careers, and which areas they might wish to research further in the future (and where to get that information).

What was really great was to be in a room with 10 people who were incredibly hungry to get everything they could out of me in the time we had, constantly asking interesting questions and pushing to learn as much as they could, which can sometimes be lacking in some in-house environments, and is certainly not something you often find when you present at conferences etc. It really isn’t surprising that their post-graduate candidates achieve an incredible success rate in finding employment after the course.

Friends help you immensely:

Spending so much time working via a computer has helped me keep in regular contact with a huge amount of great people, but I have to admit that recently I’ve been finding it hard to organise to meet up in the real world. The trip to London enabled me to not only meet up with a very cool friend and have a great catch-up, but she also picked an amazing pub which I can highly recommend if you’re in the same area (It’s been voted London Pub of the Year by various places and deservedly so). Only two words of warning – The Southampton Arms only does Ale and Cider, so has an incredibly range of beers from small breweries, which is not good when you’re trying to only have one or two beers to be able to tutor effectively the next day, and it only accepts cash. Luckily the prices are very reasonable, and I was able to exercise enough willpower to leave early with the plan to return one day when I can follow it with a day off.

Inspirational People help you immensely:

I was lucky enough to not only catch the fact the amazing Hugh McLeod and Mark Earls were hosting a small ‘social object soiree’ last night, but also to be one of the fortunate people to get an invite. It was great to see Hugh and Mark talk about the social object concept, but also to finally meet them in person after various levels on online interaction. To complete a hattrick, I also managed to finally meet  Lloyd Davis in the real world as well.  Llloyd did the job of recording the talk for posterity whilst Paul Clarke did a great job of the photography. Annoyingly I forgot to remind him of a deal I once made to him (I think at a Twestival) of bribery if he could take event shots without accidentally capturing my hideous visage.

And I also met some really cool attendees, which reinforced the idea of social objects both as something to talk about, but also as a social filter and the signal of a social club. If you were at the event, the odds are you were likely to be a pretty interesting person (with myself as the exception proving the rule), and the people I met proved that. Strangest moment of the evening was meeting a Swedish-speaking Irishman, and his Irish-accented Swedish wife, to whom I can only apologise for inflicting my pigeon Svengelska hybrid on.

And as a bonus:

If that wasn’t enough good things, when I started getting back up to speed this morning I found out that not only have Brand Republic been kind enough to include this blog in their BR200 list of ‘The Web’s Most Influential Bloggers‘ but somehow I’ve ended up as high as 85th out of a list of 200 blogs which I’m honoured to even share the list with.

After all that you’d think I might need to sit down for a bit…

Instead I’m feeling pretty fired up, which is handy with two proposals to finish this week, student articles to feedback on, existing client work to finish, my own sites to upgrade, and preparations to hold a one day course on various elements of digital marketing and social media to some very senior media people.

Bloody hell.


New musical solutions to social humans

I’ve been reading a bit about the discussions happening at the MIDEM event taking place in Cannes at the moment, which is a big business 2 business event for the music industry.

Highlights include the fact that the bags for the event have been sponsored by Napster (as captured by Mr Herdmeister, Mark Earls).

The other highlight I’ve enjoyed is the presentation by Gerd Leonard, who is moderating the panel at which the Herdmeister is speaking.

And in the meantime, I’ve also been having my stab at the future of music, thanks to the People’s Music Store (Found via Springwise).

I’ve always been a closet librarian when it comes to collecting music in physical form, and always had a soft spot for the idea of owning my own record shop (Even before I read High Fidelity!)

It’s not completely revolutionary – basically you can set up your store, share recommendations and reviews, and anything sold through your store earns you 10% as reward points to spend on new music via the store.

Interestingly, I’ve just spotted Amazon has released an MP3 widget for affiliates, which helps you to earn a 10% fee for anyone buying someone from the store.

But the next step is also to include user-generated audio for sale.

It will be interesting to see if the People’s Music Store can emulate the feel of ‘your favourite local independent record store’ enough to differentiate itself and offer more than an affiliate mechanism.  In the meantime, I spent five minutes on the site and came up with the start of my own music store.

And there are plenty of other interesting music services out there for buying or even investing in music:

I’m not sure I can conclude with more than starting to wonder about the filter and recommendation mechanisms, and how mainstream media might better fit the future. But the evolution of media and entertainment seems to becoming more like Moore’s Law every week, and not just in terms of technology.

Thoughts on the Online Community Building Manifesto

Despite a very kind email from the author, Rich Millington, I’ve been a bit remiss in not posting about his Online Community Building Manifesto (link to the PDF). (As a bonus, he’s also on Twitter).

It’s a call to change the way we think about online communities, and one that’s shared by a few people, myself included, but Rich has expressed it with a nice clarity.

We know about technology and we love the internet, but we (in general) don’t know half as much about the people forming communities and about ways to get a better understanding of what they’re doing and what their needs are.

He also raises good points about balancing what we learn about technology with other disciplines including psychology and sociology (with some helpful links to some interesting sources) – I won’t say any more in an effort to encourage you to go read it and leave him some comments.

He’s not alone in his thinking, but the benefit of the manifesto will come if it helps to join some of the minds in this space.  I’d include people like Dave Cushman, Mark Earls, Neil Perkin, and others who regularly appear in my RSS feeds but whose names have deserted me for the moment…which I shall rectify with a bit of an overhaul of my link lists shortly. It’s something that has been implemented in Seth Godin’s private Triiibes group (somewhere I need to spend more time if I can).

And there’s a real tangible personal benefit to social media/community/tribes people – technology is constantly shifting, and being an expert in Facebook or Twitter will start as an asset, become normal and then be old-fashioned and replaced by something new – but the lessons learnt about people will transfer to every network and device. They’ll evolve, but the changes with each evolution will work across platforms and devices and won’t rely on php, flash or javascript!

That’s why I posted on ‘Why Belief Matters‘ back in November, and used football and motorsport as examples. It’s the ‘why’ and the ‘what for’ of any community, and it comes from the people, not from the technology!

Jamie Oliver: Britain’s best marketing case study?

Jame Oliver by Vic on Flickr (CC licence)

Jame Oliver by Vic on Flickr (CC licence)

As I’ve said before, I don’t watch much broadcast television these days, but I made an effort to catch Jamie’s Ministry of Food after seeing some of the trailers and the fact it was flagged by Mark Earls.

And I’m glad I did, because it’s probably the first time the principles of community marketing (See also Word of Mouth marketing etc), have been played out on national television! If you’ve been looking for an effective case study, this is definitely one to watch.

The premise is simple. To try and get the people of Rotherham to start cooking healthy food rather than living on takeaways. But rather than an advertising campaign, the plan was to teach 8 people how to cook on the understanding they’d pass the recipes to 2 more people. And in 15 steps, they’d reach the 260,000 population of Rotherham.

As Mark says, it’s a template for HERD marketing:

1. focus on what you can do not what you can say
2. …on what you can give folk out there to do…
3. …that they can do with each other
4. …oh, and make it highly visible and oh, yes fun

But there’s even more that I picked up on. One of the things Jamie started by saying was that he had to listen to start with. Sound familiar?

He also picked a woman who had undermined his School Dinners campaign by taking chip shop orders through the school fence, and picked her out as a key influencer . Time will tell whether he picked the right influencer!

And he’s already worrying about the speed and scaleability of the approach (Shel Isreal on scalability). He can see the positive effect he’s had on the 8 people he’s engaged, and the fact they’ve already ahd improvements to the way they live and act. But he’s got three months to transform a whole town. Sounds like the dilemma of showing a Return on Investment!

And finally there’s the fact he’s attempting to do something positive with this approach. Something that various people within the social media wrld have worried isn’t happening because most people are aiming for fame within the media/marketing/online sphere – and outside of it, things aren’t being affected by the new ways of marketing, communicating and conversing. (I’m struggling to find the appropriate link right now, so will add it later!)

If nothing else, it prompted me to exorcise some blog guilt. I’ve been tackling reports, budgets and plans, and I’m up to my neck in data and Excel spreadsheets, hence the slight lack of posts. But hopefully things should be more consistent again now.