What I’ve been reading

I find this stuff so that you don’t have to.

You can find all my bookmarks on Pinboard.

FREE listening online webinar

Following up on my post about the importance of listening to what people are saying about you and your organisation online, we’re delighted to be running a free webinar on the subject along with our friends at RepKnight.

It’s taking place on Wednesday 16th March between 10:30am and 11:30am.

The webinar will include some general thoughts on why listening online is so vital, as well as a demonstration of RepKnight and what it can do.

You can sign up using this link.

Sign up soon, as places on these webinars go pretty quickly!

Pulling, Not Pushing: How To Make Me Pay Attention

In my previous post about online listening, I mentioned RepKnight, a soon to launch lightweight tool for tracking keywords across social media services. In this guest post, RepKnight’s Lyra McKee talks about getting people’s attention online without irritating them.

RepknightSocial media is like the Internet in 1999; no one’s quite sure how best to use it or what exactly it should be used for. This tends to lead to a lot of bad behaviour, mainly by those trying to engage or market to citizens. At times, it verges on spam, with scheduled marketing messages and PR copy blasted in your ear like a trumpet.

The marketing spin gets our attention but it doesn’t make us “pay” attention; like the man being scolded by his wife to clean the living room while watching the Arsenal match, we’re listening but tuning the noise out so that the message doesn’t get through anyways. So how does someone make us “pay” attention on social media? And how can you get those you want to engage with to pay attention to you?

In the Web 2.0 world, marketing and adverts no longer impact us. We’re no longer wowed by the glossy billboard or TV ad. The only messages getting through are those that contain value. They are the ones that make us “pay” attention.

I separate the value providers in my Twitter and Facebook streams into 3 categories:

  • The Influencers: These people are like the parents of teenagers who actually do as their told. In our eyes, they have credibility so we listen to their every word. Generally, they’re either celebrities or industry thought leaders.
  • Friends: Our peers bring us value by satisfying our need for social approval (and sometimes making us laugh).
  • Founts of Knowledge: These are the folks who tweet links the rest of us find useful, like marketers who Tweet links about how to use Facebook and Twitter properly. We visit their social network profiles again and again to see if they’ve tweeted any news or info we’ve missed.

If you’re not the first or second one, you need to be the third one.

The important thing when pushing links and information is to be aware of who your audience is and question if it’s relevant enough to them. Try to add an element of engagement to the information; ask a question, like “What’s everyone think of the latest news *insert link*”. Use a tracking tool such as Bit.ly that lets you monitor how many people click the link.

Most of all, add to the conversation – not with your opinion (unless asked for it) but with useful tips and hints. You must constantly be bringing gifts to the table. This will get you noticed and make your target Tweeters and Facebookers pay attention.

If you have any questions, please don’t hesitate to Tweet or Facebook me at @RepKnight; alternatively, follow me on my personal Twitter account @LyraMcKee or email me at lyra@repknight.com.


Communities & Local Government engaging with bloggers

The Department for Communities & Local Government did some great work in engaging people with the Empowerment White Paper entitled Communities in Control. Some of the activity included a blog, forum, Twitter feed, online video and photos hosted on Flickr. What was originally going to be a very short term programme has been extended, which is also great news.

One of the aspects of the white paper that I, and others, found particularly interesting was that around Digital Mentors, people working in deprived communities to help give them a voice by providing them with the skills and tools to tell their stories using online means. Quite a few posts and comments were written, showing the appetite amongst the social web community for this kind of role.

Well, it seems like things are moving on and developing within the department, and what is really exciting is that those working on the Digital Mentor idea are starting to engage with the bloggers. I’m particularly chuffed that Georgia Klein chose my blog to leave this comment on:

Thanks for the blogging about Digital Mentors. I’m at CLG tasked with consulting informally with stakeholders to help me shape the document to go out to tender so that pilots can start April 09. I’d be really keen to recieve your wish list / views on what you think a mentor should look like based on your experiences and how one builds sustainability into these models. I’ll be watching out for your comments here but you can also contact me at [email removed to reduce spamming a little bit, you can find it on the original comment]. Be warned, the timetable for this initial consultation round is tight – mid-Oct (there may be more opportunities through the formal procurement process).

Quite a few readers of this blog have already commented, so do please add your views on the subject – as the department is listening!

This is a great example, though, of government finding where the conversations are happening and getting involved with them, making the most of the enthusiastic amateurs who are generating ideas and solutions online for no reason other than that they are interested. Let’s hope we see more of it in the future!