Hi. I’m Nick McGivney, and I’m a blogger. I write two blogs of my own, one about traditional advertising and how it’s getting on – or not getting on - with digital advertising, and one relating to special needs, particularly Down Syndrome. I’m also a freelance advertising copywriter, I’ve been working with ad agencies for 20 years on an endless number of brands from The National Lottery to Vodafone, Ford, Guinness, Glaxo Smithkline, SuperValu, Centra, eircom, Seat and on and on. I love the power and potential of digital media, advertising is what I do, so I like to work where the two overlap.It’s a growth area right now because digital communication is an absolute part of life for the newest two generations of humans, not just here in Europe and the US, but even more so in the huge populations of China, India, Indonesia, Japan, Korea… the entire Far East. It’s a very important area for pretty much every business to be aware of and participating in. Blogging and microblogging – aka Twitter – are at this moment an integral part of that communication. I don’t know if they still will be in two years’ time, that’s the pace of change with the internet, but right now they are an important and growing tool for business. Not sure how up to speed you all are on exactly what blogs are – hands up who has a blog… who reads blogs… who knows what a blog is… I’ll give a general overview for those who are new to the whole area, and then hone in on the specifics of why they matter for businesses.
Blogging is one more way for people to communicate. From cave paintings to the telephone to television to the internet, it’s just another way to talk.Horrible word. It stems from web log. But really it means website. It can be about Seamus from Sligo’s poetry, it can be about fashion trends, motor bikes, Christmas trees, photography, it can be about absolutely anything in the field of human interest or endeavour. But there is one difference between a blog and a more traditional website.TV was revolutionary in the 50s and 60s, but its impact was all one way. You sat and watched, and next day you talked about it at school or at work.It’s hard to overstate how much bigger the internet is, and the effect that this way of communicating has on how we conduct our lives.If you’re in business, that becomes hugely important. So much so that a blog and what one person writes can launch – or sink - a company’s worldwide reputation in a matter of hours.
You can be up and started in five minutes with your personal blog. You can put video on it, pictures, text, any content you want. You can link to other blogs, they can link to you, you can build a vibrant, knowledgeable community within a matter of weeks, and you can use that community to get your message out there, whatever it is.And that’s why you hear about blogging so much. You don’t need to know any coding language, you don’t need an intensive course in html or CSS or Java or any other gobbledygook. You just set up an account and you can publish your thoughts for the world to see. Instantly. And then you too will be a blogger.
Engagement. It means that unlike a traditional website, that just houses information and expects you to visit, read and go away, now wondrously enlightened with your newfound knowledge, a blog wants you to hang around, come back every time there’s something new to see, tell your network, your friends and co-workers all about it and, most important of all, actually talk to the blog owners in a visible conversation.So if you’re a business you’ll want those visitors to say nice things about you. After all, you’re fairly sure that you’re nice people.
But.Engagement always has more than one side to it.
If, as a business, you’re going to engage with your consumers in the blogosphere (terrible word, forgive me), you had better be prepared to be honest, reliable and ready to respond to people not just when they’re happy, but more importantly when they’re not. If they blog about your bad service or product, are you prepared to take that on the chin?I mean, you could just roll with it. Suppose you’re a famous continental car manufacturer, but housewife Mary with the twins and the blog down in Killaloe thinks that your new family car has certain… issues she just doesn’t like. Who cares? Really? You’ve got big brand advertising that says five million French housewives think that your family car is fantastique. You’re in all the glossy mags. You know what your brand is. You bloody well better, because you spent several hundred thousand euro to be told by consultants who know these things. They gave you a big document with graphs.But on that point of knowing thy own business, a warning.
David Armano is a bit of a genius in the realm of social media for businesses. Check him out.
Some figures from Technorati, the search engine and blog database. Each year it provides a detailed breakdown of blogs and bloggers. These from 2008.
Figures for last year. By far the biggest piece of the chart belongs to personal bloggers. Businesses add to the number year on year, and there is crossover, but mostly it’s just ordinary people writing their blogs and talking to each other.
Last night on Wordpress alone, 9.30 Irish time:156,000 new posts were written (articles)Bloggers made 223,956 comments on other blogs.They wrote over37 million words.Just one day, yesterday, on just one blogging platform. Before many Americans had their second cup of coffee.So make no mistake, the little people are now tooled up, armed to the teeth and ready to voice an opinion.
The recent laptop theft for Bord Gais Energy highlights the damage that can be done if you’re not out there engaging with your customers when the shit is hitting the fan. After running an excellent promotion with The Big Switch campaign, including a lot of positive interaction with Irish bloggers, they lost ground overnight with the revelation that people’s details had been on the stolen laptops. Not because the details had been stolen, although that wasn’t helpful, but more so because they went underground and released no information whatsoever, even though the campaign had been promoted on other people’s blogs and they’d also run a very successful Twitter promo as well. This sudden unwillingness or inability to engage with customers cost them. All it took was a little understanding that people didn’t want them to say it hadn’t happened, just be honest with them and keep engaging. But they just lost the ability to talk to customers and lost the high ground at the same moment. Meanwhile online the boards were lit up with indignation.
Some are getting it, some are trying, some are stuck with their heads so far in the sand that they’ll never understand it.
This puts an Irish context on business blogging, from a report commissioned by the IIA’s Social Media Working Group.
Small and medium sized entrepreneurs who don’t have a monster marketing budget, well known brand names and some unexpected surprises – Sandtex outdoor masonry paint anyone? These are some medium and high profile brands. There’s also a huge amount of entrepreneurs out there whose entire marketing and networking happens through blogging and microblogging, and they’re making it work very well because they understand that golden rule of blogging: engagement.
Twitter in brief: an online facility where you keep in touch with your network of contacts (friends, companies, celebs etc) through 140-character tweets that can also be links to anything else on the web. You have a private direct message (DM) facility but otherwise your information is open for all to see.
What it looks like. The ‘What are you doing’ is already somewhat redundant in some aspects, being more social than businesslike.
233, but not because I’m terribly sad, honest! I keep a tight rein on the number of accounts I follow, because I want my traffic to be relevant to my work. I don’t want mass distraction, and there’s plenty enough with 233, believe me. For me, Twitter is a marketing contact hub for writers, designers, production companies, a few clued-in agencies and endless web geeks. I get updates from Silicon Republic, the techie online publication, The Guardian, the Irish Times and The Anglo Celt, from my home county of Cavan. During the election it was fun watching the politicians fumble around with the medium too. Some actually used it quite well, like Joe Higgins .
Yes, thanks to Twitter unfollow is now a word.
An exit strategy that won’t piss people off once they’ve decided to engage with you? Think Deirdre de Burca. Eircom Dongle Day.
If you work with brands, get a handle on Twitter’s relevant strengths and weaknesses. It is not the exclusive domain of social gossip nerds, and if you’re still dismissing it out of hand, you are doing your brand a disservice. Not to say that it should necessarily be part of your communications mix, but you should understand it either way.
Will Twitter stay the course? I don’t know. I do know that a lot more brands are jumping on the bandwagon. They may well collapse the entire edifice. I know I love it, but when I start getting followed by Barber Shops – and I have very little to offer barber shops – then I start to wonder. But whatever about Twitter, especially now that Facebook seems determined to be more Twitter than Twitter, I have no doubt that social media will continue to be a place that brands will need to be in if they want to reach their target audiences.
“But if it’s such a minefield for my brand, why would I blog at all?”<br />Abe Isnessman<br />
Two reasons:<br />Your customers will talk anyway:<br />good, bad or indifferent.<br />
Two reasons:<br />Your customers will talk anyway:<br />good, bad or indifferent.<br />So will your competitors.<br />
So what are the reasons that<br />Irish businesses give for blogging?<br />
1 To present a more human face: 79%<br />2 To build a community around a brand: 75%<br />3 To provide expert advice in their sector: 75%<br />4 To improve visibility in search engines: 73%<br />5 To provide regular news from the business:64%<br />6 To manage reputation online:61%<br />7 To enable customers to provide feedback on products and services:46%<br />8 To manage content: 14%<br />Source: Irish Internet Association<br />
“But I don’t have the time for that nonsense.”<br />Mark Ettingman Ager<br />
Well, it does require time, a minimum of ten hours a week just to engage effectively with customers and potential customers.<br />If you really think that this blogging is for the birds maybe you need something less strenuous…<br />
Twitter. The little blue bird of happiness.<br />An online network of followers<br />Similar to SMS but only 140 characters long<br />Can link to external websites, photos etc<br />Messages (tweets) are visible to all unless you DM (direct message) a follower.<br />
Some statwitstics<br />1382%The monthly growth rate of Twitter users from January to February 2009<br />3,000,000 The average number of Tweets per day on Twitter.com<br />754,203 The number of Stephen Fry followers<br />3m + The number of Ashton Kutcher followers<br />233 The number of people I follow<br />
Yes there is a lot of idle nonsense on Twitter.<br /> Nonetheless more and more brands are coming to the space because it seems to be a quick way to communicate with others.<br /> But does it work? <br />
The Pros:<br />It is free<br />It is more time-effective than blogging<br />You can streamline the people and accounts you wish to follow<br />It works well as a promo tool, a news conduit, a CRM enabler and brand reinforcement tool<br />It’s very easy to unfollowpeople<br />
The Cons:<br />A lot of white noise<br />It needs a dedicated staffer to make it work<br />It’s easy to delegate the responsibility to the wrong person/someone too junior<br />You need to decide what your presence on Twitter actually means. Is it a short promotional activity, or a permanent presence?<br />Do you have an exit strategy? <br />
The Verdict:<br />As a business tool it’s largely unproven<br />8% of advertisers think it’s ‘very effective’<br />34% think it is not<br />83% of advertisers are aware of Twitter, but only 31% of web users are<br />Source: Harris Interactive poll with LinkedIn, conducted among 1,015 US advertisers June 09.<br />
Source:David McCandlessInformationIsBeautiful.net Aug 09 <br />