Liberate Media blends online PR with offline PR expertise to form a uniquely positioned social media agency.

Archive for April, 2010

Social Media Optimization Is The New SEO With Brian Solis

April 15th, 2010

Brian Solis: Social Media Optimisation is the new SEO

Last night, I joined in the Hubspot webinar on “Social Media is the New SEO” with Brian Solis and took away enough ideas to last through the rest of this year at least.

Brian engages with diamond-like clarity and precision; and he doesn’t waste words so, likewise, I’ll keep this short.

You can see Brian’s presentation on Slideshare.

Main takeaways:

  1. Social media conversations currently are “Blah Blah Blah!”
  2. The next level for marketing/brand professionals is to cut through
  3. Do this by accepting that we are all publishers now
  4. Create and curate Social Objects that extend depth and range of your conversations
  5. Social Media Objects, managed correctly, automate your social media work
  6. This is Word of Mouth automated, not just “going viral”
  7. Social Media will have its own budget in companies next year
  8. Maybe every savvy company will have a Chief Editorial Officer
  9. That Officer will direct quality, calibre and frequency of content (Social Objects)
  10. The new “CEOs” will help to connect the dots in Search.
  11. With Social Objects you will be found and be useful, relevant, authoritative.
  12. Social Media Optimisation is more than a conversation, more than manipulation
  13. Empathy is the key.

You know, there was so much more in that hour – The buzz around the webinar and Brian’s book, Engage, is continuing through the #engage hashtag if you want to joiun the conversation.

You can also out more about Social Media Optimisation on Brian’s blogsite

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Promoted Tweets – Twitter’s sensible first step to monetisation

April 14th, 2010

So, it’s finally happened. Twitter has made its first foray into the world of advertising with ‘Promoted Tweets’. Now before you throw your toys out of the pram, this isn’t the end of Twitter as we know it…or the world, it’s Twitter’s first, and somewhat tentative, attempt to make some much needed cash, and so far, so good.

As Twitter’s Co-founder Biz Stone said: ‘They will not be traditional adverts‘ and they must ‘resonate with users‘ and be part of conversations.

The reality is, advertisers will be able to buy Promoted Tweets that will then appear on Twitter’s search results pages, as shown in the image above. Let me say that again ‘appear on Twitter’s search results pages‘ so all the fear surrounding our Twitter feeds being clogged up with irrelevant advertising have proved unfounded…for now at least.

For the official word, check out Biz Stones post from yesterday: Some of the most interesting points for me are the opening:
Over the years, we’ve resisted introducing a traditional Web advertising model because we wanted to optimize for value before profit. The open exchange of information creates opportunities for individuals, organizations, and businesses alike. We recognized value in this exchange and planned to amplify it in a meaningful and relevant manner.’

And part of the Q&A:

Q. What will users see?
You will start to see Tweets promoted by our partner advertisers called out at the top of some search results pages. We strongly believe that Promoted Tweets should be useful to you. We’ll attempt to measure whether the Tweets resonate with users and stop showing Promoted Tweets that don’t resonate.
‘Promoted Tweets will be clearly labelled as “promoted” when an advertiser is paying, but in every other respect they will first exist as regular Tweets and will be organically sent to the timelines of those who follow a brand. Promoted Tweets will also retain all the functionality of a regular Tweet including replying, Retweeting, and favouriting. Only one Promoted Tweet will be displayed on the search results page.’

Q. You said, “first phase”; what else do you have planned?

A. ‘Before we roll out more phases, we want to get a better understanding of the resonance of Promoted Tweets, user experience and advertiser value. Once this is done, we plan to allow Promoted Tweets to be shown by Twitter clients and other ecosystem partners and to expand beyond Twitter search, including displaying relevant Promoted Tweets in your timelines in a way that is useful to you.’

So, although this is a first phase, it seems a very sensible way to approach the monetisation issue. Twitter appreciates that history has shown advertising and social networks don’t mix well, and is taking a gentle approach to beginning this process.

Therefore, I was a little confused to read a Telegraph piece this afternoon, which detailed the reaction in a survey by Groupola, who polled 1,219 UK Twitter users and found that 68 per cent of those interviewed were upset about the idea of branded tweets entering their personal feeds.

I’m not questioning the sample or the survey, but I’m not sure what the 68% were so upset about? I mean as it stands this doesn’t seem to be too intrusive and has little or no affect on the service. Yes ads entering feeds would cause more of an issue, but is this a case of the hype over blowing the reality? Or as only eight per cent said that they would reserve judgement to see how the new service would play out over the coming weeks, I wonder if the others had seen promoted tweets before casting their vote?

As I see it Promoted Tweets will currently only appear at the top of some of the Twitter search results pages, which resonates with Google’s paid advertising model and is surely something we’re familiar with by now.
Yes, the second phase of advertising will surely see more direct advertising, but let’s keep some perspective;

Twitter can’t go on providing a free service without any sponsorship/advertising. The monetisation has to come. They’re certainly not rushing it (four years after launch) it’s not a bolt from the blue, and it isn’t a draconian measure that will make us all pack our bags and leave the platform.

I for one will be looking out eagerly for the next phase of advertising, and hope Twitter manages to continue this level of transparency around its plans.

BTW: The current advertising partners include Best Buy, Bravo, Red Bull, Sony Pictures, Starbucks, and Virgin America, and you can read more about Virgin America’s use of Promoted Tweets in this Mashable article.

Chris Norton has also done a great round up of opinions, and you can get more information on Promoted Tweets from this Ad Age article: Twitter Has a Business Model: ‘Promoted Tweets’.

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Twitter observations

April 14th, 2010

The guys and girls at Liberate Media, including myself, all use Twitter regularly and we actively encourage our clients, peers and anyone else that will listen to do so, spelling out the reasons why it’s an important part of any communication tool set.

As with any social network, trends and habits influence Twitter’s use, and here are a few recent Twitter observations that i’ve noticed:

  • More via’s and less RT’s
  • Early adopters do not seem to share as much as they used to
  • Twitter has become a working day tool (between the hours of 9-5, or perhaps 8-6)
  • Brands to do not monitor at weekends, and at nights, depending on the time zone
  • There are still lots of brands pushing messages out but not engaging
  • Users are like sheep they go from one big product launch to the next
  • More about self promotion, less about being helpful
  • More location based Tweets starting to filter through
  • Lots of back slapping

If I’m honest, I’m guilty of a few of the above!

This snapshot is obviously taken from the people I follow which is around the 800 mark. I’d love to know what observations you are currently making, please add yours in the comments section below.

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Creative computing-related social media video campaigns

April 13th, 2010

When it comes to promoting technology, there aren’t too many tactics that haven’t already been tried. However, there are some nice creative computing-related videos out there at the moment, that you may not be aware of.

My current favourite is the Acrobuttocks (Guy Catches Laptop With his Butt) Admittedly this would be funnier if Steve Jobs did it with an iPad, but perhaps that will come later down the line! A close second is the MEGAWOOSH a Bruno Kammerl jump, which is surely a fake!


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The best of social media infographics

April 12th, 2010

Over the last six months we have seen a huge explosion in the use of infographics.

Wikipedia calls them “Visual representations of information, data or knowledge. These graphics are used where complex information needs to be explained quickly and clearly, such as in signs, maps, journalism, technical writing, and education. They are also used extensively as tools by computer scientists, mathematicians, and statisticians to ease the process of developing and communicating conceptual information.”

Below are some of my favourites, the majority of which are focused on social media and related subjects.

Right click on each image to see the full image view:

From Website Monitoring

From Flowtown

From Six Revisions

From Appadvice


From Flowtown

From Next Generation Online

From Manolith

From ifixit

A Look at Nintendo
Via: Online MBA

From Mashable

From Mashable

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Social media agency debate: transparency

April 9th, 2010

If you want a good debate, talk about social media agencies and their skills/approach or lack thereof, you will always get some excitable and passionate responses.

I was involved in one such debate recently, sparked by an excellent post from Claire Stokoe (@killer_bunnie) called ’10 ways digital agencies f*** up social media’. You can imagine the reaction.

I’m embarrassed to say I’m talking about it far too long after the event, but The Easter holidays, proposals, etc, etc have slowed me down, so apologies for the delay.

Back to the story. My attention was first drawn to the post on Twitter, and having reviewed it I agreed with the vast majority of it and retweeted it in support. I was certainly not the only one, and Claire’s post sparked quite a response, with some in agreement and some not.

As I said to Claire, I think there is too much traditional thinking being forced into a social media environment, and none more so than in the PR industry.

Anyway, Claire contacted me and a number of others that had mentioned the post on Twitter or commented on it, to ask for our input on three key questions, you can see those that responded on the follow up post here: Smelly Money VS Social Media Purity lol (round two), I’ve added my responses in below again FYI.
The three questions being:

1. Don’t run social networks as the client – agree or disagree
2. Social media shouldn’t be billed on a monthly retainer – agree or disagree
3. Avoid working with a third party agency if possible on social media campaign – agree or disagree

To be completely transparent, at Liberate Media, we are coming at social media from a PR perspective, which means we offer an Integrated PR service, consulting with clients both online and offline as part of their communications plan.

We set up the company in 2006 to focus on integrated PR (combining traditional PR skills with social media understanding). We didn’t jump from being a traditional PR agency to social media, and nor are we a digital team trying to learn the comms skills necessary for PR. Neither are we focused on technical build and development, unless that’s building communities, so we concentrate on educating the client, working with them to deliver an agreed strategy which will of course develop day-by-day with the nature of the ongoing conversation surrounding the main issues and relevant discussion points.

Back to Claire’s post; the responses that most interested me, were the differences in opinion from those approaching social media from the strategic/comms side, and those that are approaching it from the build side. These are not new differences, in fact if you’d have asked the same people the same questions one or two years ago, the responses would have probably been similar.

However, the one element that was quite refreshing was the near total agreement that agencies should look to their strengths when working within social media and bring in partners to assist with the elements they are not as strong in.

In the past we’ve seen agencies assuring clients that they are a one stop shop for social media, even if their heritage is in digital/web design/PR/whatever, and they’ve done nothing to up skill. This might be followed by the campaign falling apart shortly afterwards. Or at least performing well in the agencies’ specialist areas, and not so well in others, and it is this that has perhaps done more damage to agency reputation than many other issues.

In other instances an agency might say they cover everything off and then throw part of the work out to partner agencies behind closed doors. See my response to Q3 (below) for more.

If these responses are anything to go by, it seems as an industry we’re being a little more transparent about how we approach campaigns, and realistic about strengths and weaknesses. We all need to up skill in areas we are not as confident in, but that doesn’t mean we all need to be uber agencies offering a one stop shop.

There is still value in providing strong consultancy in key elements of social media and working with trusted and familiar partners to facilitate the complete offering.

Thanks again to Claire for starting and building this debate – nice work.

My responses:
1. Don’t run social networks as the client – agree or disagree
Agree, but this isn’t all or nothing, the agency needs to be fully involved beginning with training the client, developing this understanding in practical terms by walking them through real-life processes and remaining involved to highlight issues/discussions/opportunities for the client to get involved in the conversation. If and when the agency needs to get involved this should be made clear either in the biography for the profile, confirming the responses are developed by the marketing team and who this includes, or with a direct sign off on the post/comment.

I agree with some of the other comments, specifically that in some cases clients just want you to take this part of the campaign away from them and deal with it, buying social media in the way that they think a commodity can be purchased – ‘just get me some of that social media’. In these cases it’s necessary to step up the education process, show the client exactly what can happen and run them through actual scenarios and consequences to bring the importance of their external communications home to them. Often this barrier is just a lack of understanding, but I admit this isn’t possible in all cases. At that point it comes down to the agency-client relationship, and whether a compromise can be found adhering to the issues of transparency/knowledge/etc.

2. Social media shouldn’t be billed on a monthly retainer – agree or disagree
I think this question very much depends on the circumstances, and the client sector. If you are saying social media shouldn’t be billed on a set monthly retainer that doesn’t evolve in-line with the requirements, then yes I agree; I don’t think it’s relevant to charge a set fee of £x amount per month to cover all elements. However, if you’re saying billing should only be done by action, that in-turn creates a whole new admin nightmare of agreeing set fee levels for potential activity and it pushes us further towards the hourly rate that a solicitor might take, which again is not where we need to be.

This is far from a simple issue, and many agencies have taken the easy route of cramming social media services into existing billing structures, which usually involves monthly retainers and changing the way services are delivered around the billing structure rather than the other way around, which isn’t right either.

The obvious exception comes with a project where objectives are set, metrics agreed and timelines roughly in place, which is increasingly popular. In terms of ongoing campaigns, I think a lower set fee to cover ongoing service, monitoring, management etc is acceptable, and the project approach can be taken to deliver more encompassing activity.

3. Avoid working with a third party agency if possible on social media campaign – agree or disagree
Disagree, but again, it depends on the issues. As I said at the beginning we are primarily a communications agency. We listen, engage on key issues, build conversation, and develop useful content…you get the picture. We have a decent technical understanding and have in-house technical team members but this isn’t our strength and it isn’t what we want to do. We work with trusted partners, and have done for many years, to deliver successful campaigns.

I think the big issue is trying to complete the social media circle in a single agency, encompassing research, strategy, build, engagement and measurement, which usually results in problems as the agency’s skill set usually falls in one or maybe two areas, meaning two pieces are done very well and the rest just fumbles along.

We also might work with a brand’s traditional PR agency, marketing agency, search agency, digital agency, etc, etc. We may not know them, and sometimes we think they don’t know what they are doing in terms of social media, but again it depends on the relationship with the client, and of course you have to stand by your beliefs, even if that means warning the client and walking away.

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RIP Guy Kewney

April 8th, 2010

This morning I heard the sad news that technology journalist Guy Kewney had passed away following a year-long battle with cancer of the liver and bowel. I remember him calling me in May last year when I’d just given birth to my daughter Isabella, to congratulate me and let me know about his diagnosis.

I’m not going to try and write an obituary as some lovely ones have already been written, and I merely wanted to write something short as a sign of respect for Guy who was a truly great journalist, who I had the priviledge to work with for a few years at Ziff Davis and ZDNet, and who remained a trusted friend.

During his illness, Guy kept a daily online journal The Hunkymouse – his honesty and bravery was an inspiration, and the number of comments that people have left through his journey is testimony to how loved and respected he was.

If you would like to read more about Guy’s life, here is a touching obituary by his great friend and colleague Manek Dubash, and another by Iain Thomson.

I will always remember Guy by his trademark sandals and branded fleeces! As Manek says, “he was an inspiration to two generations of journalists and PR flacks over the decades of his working life.”

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Quarterly review of weekly social media sites and tools

April 7th, 2010

With over 3 months of the year gone already, I have revisited the Weekly Social Media sites, tools and posts round-up to offer a full rundown of the 65 social media tools that I’ve recommended in 2010, so far. Just in case you missed any!

1. BannerSnack is a fantasic tool that lets you create Flash web banners without the need for Flash knowledge. A free version is available where a small BannerSnack watermark is visible in the banner, while a branding-free version is on offer for a few dollars. Highly recommended.

2. Twitter Alerts allows you to receive Twitter messages via mobile phone (SMS), instant messenger or email. There is a small charge to receive via SMS.

3. Your Fonts enables you to create your own fonts in a few easy steps, which can then be used in programmes like Microsoft Word and Powerpoint. There is a small charge of $9.95 for the privilege.

4. This is a compendium of useful Facebook widgets from profile badges to Live Streams – very useful!

5. Interactive Buttons with Hit Counters are all the rage at the moment, and here are some of the best.

6. HeadWay is a WordPress plug-in that enables users with no coding knowledge to create a bespoke WordPress theme via an easy drag and drop process. There is a small fee to pay for the plug-in. Highly recommended.

7. T Lists is a very visual way of searching for Twitter lists. Just add your keyword to the search bar, wait for the results and finally follow or apply to the selected lists.

8. Twendly is a great way to find and connect with people on Twitter. Results are ranked in terms of  relevancy to your given search term and the user’s level of activity over a 12-month period. Highly recommended.

9. If you like playing around with images but aren’t sure how to get some of the snazzy effects you see everywhere, Rollip might just be able to help. Upload your photo and select one of the 40 effects and add it to your image, simple.

10. TweetsQue, as the name suggests, lets you add Tweets and set time intervals for them to be Tweeted out.

11. Create your own iPhone or Android app for $25.00  – you have got be kidding right? That’s what iSites offers: “Create an iPhone app almost instantly! We take care of the app store submission in less than 24 hours”.

12. NutShell Mail has an interesting free Email Newsletter application for Facebook that enables your fans to keep track of new activity on your page.

13. Buzzom has a nice Twitter tool that give you a person’s Twitter score based on different criteria. These include influence, RT ratio, Tweet efficiency, RT rank and Following rank.

14. Vidinotes is a nice solution for getting video ‘How To’s’ down on paper. Simply upload your Flash video, capture a slide and add the notes to go with it. Finally download the PDF with the screenshot and accompanying note or print.

15. Twitcaps allows you to view real time images in Twitter as they are Tweeted. It also allows you to search for an image via keywords, locations or # then capture the image if you like it.

16. Tangler Live is a superb tool that allows you to have group conversation in real time. Create your room and then embed it into your post about the same event/issue – works great for live events when you want to speak to people interested in the same theme.

17. Web 2.0 Suicide Machine. Here is what the Guardian says: “”The Dutch website created by your unfriendly neighbourhood medialab moddr_ is designed to end users’ social lives on Facebook, Twitter, MySpace and LinkedIn in a spectacular way.”

18. Avatara. Most people have seen the film Avatar, well now you can create your own avatar usable in over 30 online destinations including Facebook.

19. Sprout Pitch. Simply pitch your start-ups, projects and ideas to the world via video – “think elevator pitch”

20. Collecta Widget Builder lets you build customisable widgets for your website very easily. Just grab the code and embed it into your site!

21. Social Media comparison is first up today. Simply type in two competing search terms and see who comes out on top. After running the report you get a whole heap of visual results to show you who is top dog. Check out Apple Vs Microsoft.

22.  Google Fight is a fun little keyword search tool. Add your two keywords and let them fight to the death, watch the fight sequence to see who wins or has the most search results. OJ Simpson vs Hommer Simpson.

23. Manage Tweets is a new tool that gives you an easily detectable way to find out who you follow, who isn’t following you back and which inactive accounts you follow. Recommended.

24. Social connector for Outlook is Microsoft’s attempt to make email more social. Currently it only supports LinkedIn but there are more to follow soon including Facebook. For a more in-depth overview and installation instruction check out the How to Geek blog.

25. is a great idea, and here’s what they say: “ allows anyone to create an elegant website using personal content from around the internet. Ideal for personal homepages, lifestreaming, splash and microsites, celebrity fan pages, commercial promotion, brand marketing – and everything in between”.

26. Google Buzz Button WordPress Plugin is first off the block today, originally designed by Mashable, now available for all you WordPress bloggers.

27. Twiclur is a highly customisable Twitter widget that can be used to Tweet results from from your TwitterUserName, #Topic or @TwitterUserNam.

28. BlogBooker allows you to create a free high-quality PDF book of your blog posts including your comments, but only if you use WordPress, Blogger or Live Journal.

29. Socialized Card is a page that has all your social/online identities. Great for something like Twitter where you can only add one link. View an example here.

30. Neat Chat is a very quick way of having a group chat – simply add a user name, click start and send the chatroom link around to the people you want in the group and off you go!

31. Type Tester is a neat tool that allows you to try out different text types, with various options such as size and spacing – great if you are a budding web designer.

32. Word It Out is a similar tool to the fantastic Wordle. You input your text into a box and it automatically creates a word cloud from your content that you can embed in your blog.

33. News Show Wizard is a Google tool that allows you to put a news widget on your site from pre-defined options including search impressions and style options.

34. Trends Buzz – what they say: “We are going to be yet another source of real time internet keyword snooping. In the first version we are going to gather hot topics from 6 different sources but there are more to come in the later stages”.

35. Sploder allows you to create you own Flash based platform or shooter game using a simple drag and drop system. Once the game is finished you can embed it into your own website.

36. Twitteronics is a Twitter analytics tool that will help you to track your brand’s presence on Twitter.

What they say: “Integrated Search, Automated Analysis, and Enhanced Reporting together with Influence Measures”.

37. Tweetbuzzer is a very visual tool. It constantly monitors Twitter for brand mentions, and shows some basic social media analytics such as daily mentions and the % of growth/decline.

38. Tweetalater is a simple Twitter site that translates your message into either:



39. Tawidget is a nice visual events widget to showcase any up and coming events in your website or blog. The widget is highly customisable and links to your Twitter account.

40. Twitter Stats is a Twitter analytics tool for particular keywords (brand, product). It shows them visually on a timeline over a period of time.

41.  Pressitt - full visability, this is a Liberate Media co-owned product. For those who don’t know Pressitt , it is a free Social Media News Release (SMNR) creation and publishing platform which has just come out of BETA with a multitude of new features.

42. The next tool is actually a WordPress plugin.  Effective Calendar Plugin for WordPress allows you to display dates of events for example on your website.

43. QUDOS is a neat tool that allows you to measure your digital status and mange how you look online.

44. looks like an interesting tool that’s currently in public BETA, and here’s what they say: “ provides bloggers, publishers and brands a way to instantly syndicate content and expand their reach on the social web and into new channels.

“Our tools make it easy to manage and measure the flow of your content everywhere your audience is. publishes your media, your blogs, all your content to your social channels, ensuring your audience sees it instantly.”

45.  Want to know when your Twitter friends sleep? When do they sleep does just that, and checks your Tweeting patterns to determine when you’re in the land of nod.

46. TwilK is a Twitter tool that allows you to put your Twitter followers on your Twitter background.

47. This next one was pointed out by my colleague @liberatelloyd. PDF my URL does what it says on the tin. It PDFs any web page, and there is also a nice bookmarklet that you can add to your browser.

48. DoesFollow is a Twitter tool that quickly finds out if you are following someone or not – handy if you don’t want to go through a huge list of all your followers to find out.

49. Techweet is an aggregator of technology news. The homepage is separated into boxes, and each has a well known tech company sitting in it with their latest news. The thing I like most is the topics page which acts as an index. Here you can find the company you want, select it and review their latest news.

50. Scribble Maps is the quick and easy way to edit and share your map creations via a widget. Scribble allows you to add images, markers, text and shapes to your maps.

51. First off this week we have the newly announced Google Apps Marketplace. The Marketplace is full of useful additions/plugins to your existing Google suite of tools.

52. Giga Tweet is a live Twitter counter of how many Tweets have been sent and the ongoing number of Tweets being sent right now – interesting stuff!

53. A lot of noise can be heard about Foursquare. FourWhere is a mashup of both FourSquare and Google maps. What they say: “FourWhere helps you find places visited by Foursquare users, and read any comments/tips they made about these places”.

54. Base Kit allows you to create hosted websites from .psd files for £10.00 per month. So if you’re hot at designing in Photoshop but not so hot at coding, this could be a good alternative.

55. What do you suggest is a visual tool that uses Google’s suggestion feature. Type in a word or phrase, and then follow it to the answer. Very cool!

56. Stickr will let you post stickers on the Web. You can leave notes all over the Internet that track your activity, or that of your friends.View the video for a further overview.

57. Collecta #trends gives you top real-time trends right off the bat. Each trend gives you the latest photo, story, comment and update.  Collecta can also be used for searching your own trends.

58. Trends is another real-time trending platform, which is more visual than Collecta and offers a good selection of topics to navigate. On clicking a trend you are presented with a wealth of information.

59. Toobla. What they say: “Get Visual. Easily collect, enjoy and share your favourite content, bookmarked websites and everything else.

50. Thumboo - simple to generate thumbnails via a submitted URL

61. First off today we have Wufoo a HTML simple form creation builder. Wufoo has a free option that includes: 1 3 Forms, 3 Reports, 10 Fields, 100 Entries / Month and a number of paid for plans for bigger sites. Check out the gallery for some examples. User,

62. Spezify is a fantastic visual search engine that produces results in the style of a mood board. It’s great for showing clients visual representation for what’s happening with your brands or products online. Recommended!

63. Strings caught my attention, here’s what they say: “Strings is a social tracking and filtering platform that allows you to share and uncover experiences that are relevant to you. Strings incorporates strong privacy controls, easy filtering, and tracking support that allows your actions on and offline to automatically identify personalised trends worth following.” It’s a free tool that’s currenly in BETA, look’s like it could be worth a trial.

64. Fliptop has two parts to it. One for publishers and one for consumers. In a nutshell it updates consumers via email when specfic content is updated to a website you enjoy reading. View the video for further details.

65. Hot blog or not? In their own words: “In one sentence, a platform specifically for bloggers to promote their  articles and blogs including the possibility to find and build a network around their niche”

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Book review: Me and my Web Shadow – how to manage your reputation online

April 1st, 2010

I’ve just finished ‘Me and my web shadow – how to manage your reputation Online’ Antony Mayfield‘s first voyage into the world of book authoring. Well, his first in terms of hard copy books, he has already written many articles and eBooks.

The first thing that strikes you about the book is its size; a handy guide-sized book that shouts ‘practical learning tool’.

This assumption proves to be correct as you begin to read, and Antony starts by stating the book’s purpose; ‘Me and My Web Shadow is intended as a guide to understanding how to look after your web presence on the web: what the web says about you and what it tells people when they come looking for you.’

He goes on to confirm that he wrote the book for his ‘friends, family and colleagues who need to know more about how the web works and how they fit in as individuals’, which I think could relate to almost anyone, although he adds a caveat of ‘if you think you’re an expert in the web already, there may not be much here for you.’

However, whoever you are and whatever level of understanding you are at in terms of the web and or Internet (see page 4) I promise you will get something out of this book.

So what of the structure? Well, the book is written for the web (no surprise considering the author and subject matter) meaning it’s separated into useful parts that you can dip in and out of as a reference or guide. I know my copy is covered in Post-its for later re-visiting.

However, a boring Haynes manual this is not, and the first few chapters showcase Antony’s easily digestible writing style and conversational narrative, which is perfectly exampled making the pages fly by. This makes the book seem more of a friendly tutor than a stuffy manual.

The book begins by charting the Internet’s journey and overviewing the web’s beginnings. This is perhaps one of the most palatable summaries I’ve seen, pulling together the back stories through to the communications revolution that we are part of and often don’t appreciate, or the ‘fog of revolution’ as Antony refers to it, as well as the theory of communications online.

Antony then moves onto managing your web shadow, with practical planning tips, before going into the business of set up and management advice for digital living, with reference sections on key social media tools and social networks, such as Facebook, LinkedIn, Twitter and blogging. These practical sections offer just enough detail to be usable without getting too dull or techie, and perhaps most importantly without scaring away the novice or uninitiated. I only wish I’d had this book when I was starting out.

My only negative would be that Antony’s informative, candid and natural writing style is broken up by the practical elements. Of course that is the purpose of the book, so this disappointment is harsh, but I enjoyed the content of the first few chapters so much, I just wanted it to continue, and I hope we’ll be seeing more of Antony’s writing and insight, evidence of which can be found in the conclusion section, bringing the connected nature of the web into clear focus.

In summary, the book is a real triumph, a practical yet informative and entertaining debut. Furthermore, this is not the end of Web Shadows, as updates will be launched online and in true social media style, conversation around the subject is only just beginning.

So, if you are looking for a book that combines real world advice with insight on the origins, theories and wonderment of the web, written by an experienced social media consultant that advises brands of all types on their online strategies, including some of the biggest multi-nationals, then this is the book for you.

Antony’s passion for the web, and practical understanding of its inner workings, combined with his appreciation of the opportunities it presents and the possibilities for the future make this an intriguing window to reputation online.

If you want to get involved, you can visit the book’s website, which includes a sample selection of pages, follow Web Shadow’s Twitter profile at @webshadows or use the #webshadows hashtag or join the Facebook group.

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Weekly Social Media sites, tools and posts round-up (01-04-2010)

April 1st, 2010

Welcome to another instalment of the ‘Weekly Social Media sites, tools and posts round-up’.

1. First off today we have Wufoo a HTML simple form creation builder. Wufoo has a free option that includes: 1 User, 3 Forms, 3 Reports, 10 Fields, 100 Entries / Month and a number of paid for plans for bigger sites. Check out the gallery for some examples.

2. Spezify is a fantastic visual search engine that produces results in the style of a mood board. It’s great for showing clients visual representation for what’s happening with your brands or products online. Recommended!

3. Strings caught my attention, here’s what they say: “Strings is a social tracking and filtering platform that allows you to share and uncover experiences that are relevant to you. Strings incorporates strong privacy controls, easy filtering, and tracking support that allows your actions on and offline to automatically identify personalised trends worth following.” It’s a free tool that’s currenly in BETA, look’s like it could be worth a trial.

4. Fliptop has two parts to it. One for publishers and one for consumers. In a nutshell it updates consumers via email when specfic content is updated to a website you enjoy reading. View the video for further details.

5. Hot blog or not? In their own words: “In one sentence, a platform specifically for bloggers to promote their  articles and blogs including the possibility to find and build a network around their niche”

Social Media post of the week: Has the Social Media News Release (SMNR) finally come of age?

SEO post of the week: How search engines are getting smarter

More of the same social media sites and tools next week!

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"I found a higher degree of contacts and enthusiasm and then something far more interesting. They listened, challenged and questioned with a focus and knowledge that I've never experienced before."