Eleven random facts about me: my Leibster Award (part II)

A couple of weeks ago I got nominated for a Leibster Award.

Cue fireworks – although the picture above has nothing at all to do with me receiving the Leibster Award; it’s just a nice one I found going back through my Flickr – which by the way is a good thing to do as a starting point if you ever get asked to do this!

The award requires that you list eleven random facts about yourself. This is a lot harder than it sounds. In fact, it took me so long to psych myself up to write these facts that I’m afraid you’ll have to come back next week for my 11 blog nominations.

Sorry about that – in the meantime, here’s those facts:

1. I managed to go to Glastonbury and have the photo (above) taken without getting any mud on me. I also ironed my cardigans before going. For some reason my friend Laura thought that was funny.
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The revolution will not be televised…but it will be brought to you by #Techmums

Techmums T3[This post was originally published on the Techmums blog.]

I just got back from two amazing days at Google Campus – training to be a #Techmums trainer.

In case you haven’t heard or read about it yet, #Techmums is a new initiative from Dr Sue Black (the mum of 4, computer scientist and self-proclaimed “cheeky geek” who’s become a bit of a household name after saving Bletchley Park from demolition a couple of years ago).

Sue wanted to do something to help change the image of computer science in the UK, and she decided to start with mums – because they’re key to children’s safe and savvy use of technology, but all too often know little about computing.

After running a successful pilot in Tower Hamlets last summer, Sue and her team raised enough funding to roll out the #Techmums programme to other schools in the South East.

To deliver the programme – which consists of five x two hour modules taught over five weeks – at schools around Greater London and beyond, Techmums has recruited a new team of trainers: this week’s training course was the first opportunity for us all to get together.
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From shorthand to live-blogging: my Leibster Award (part I)

That's shorthand for...
Thanks so much to the fabulous Events Northern for nominating me for a Leibster Award. The Leibster award is a peer-to-peer award passed around the blogging community. And there’s nothing like a bit of appreciation from your peers – Events Northern, you rock!

Here’s how the Liebster Award works:

Thank the person that nominated you and link back to their blog
- Display the award “badge” on your blog
- Answer the 11 questions asked by the person who nominated you
- List 11 random facts about yourself
- Nominate up to 11 bloggers and let them know you have nominated them
- Set 11 questions for the bloggers you have nominated
- Post a comment on the blog post of the person that nominated you so they can read the post

So, first off, here are my answers to Events Northern’s questions:

1. When and why did you start blogging? I started blogging in 2005 when I was commissioned to write Monkeys with Typewriters. The thought of writing 80,000 words terrified me so I had the idea of interviewing people and writing up each one in a blog post. The blog posts became the first draft of my book.
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Mad dogs and teleworkers

Walking my dogs
A policeman took my name and address last Wednesday – my dog was barking at his horse, and I was on the phone. Usually I avoid calls when I’m walking the dog, precisely because you can’t concentrate on two things at once, but this was a work-related call, and I’d been trying to get hold of the person concerned, and I just thought I’d take two minutes “out” to deal with it.

So I was sat on a bench, engrossed in my call. I didn’t notice the crowd that had gathered round my formerly “cute” dog. An old lady, a couple of mums with buggies, a few toddlers and children – and the policeman on his horse. My small dog was in the middle, terrified – barking blue murder at the lot of them.

A few years ago I saw a woman in a business suit crossing a tricky road while talking loudly on the phone. She had two small children with her, on scooters – also trying to cross the road. The combination of work + busy road + toddlers wasn’t good – but then she probably didn’t plan it that way.

We have the technology to work where we like – and that flexibility makes work a lot easier. But work and the “real” world don’t necessarily mix – all too often, unconsciously, we rely on strangers to look out for us.

After a while, my policeman softened. There’s been an increase in complaints about the behaviour of dogs in this area, he said – and a lot of dog owners are constantly on their phones. The situation is “out of control”, he said. He seemed genuinely despairing.

As businesses downsize and remote working becomes the norm, who’s really picking up the tab?

Photo: This Year’s Love

Britain’s popular culture goes posh – can social stop the rot?

Working class hero
Apparently, our popular culture is in danger of gentrification.

The most shocking stat in Sean O’Hagan’s recent article, A working class hero is something to be…but not in Britain’s posh culture, was that 60% of current successful rock and pop acts were former public school pupils, compared with just 1% 20 years ago.

The article goes on to state that the paths taken by the many British cultural icons with working class roots – like Julie Walters, Tracey Emin, Dizzee Rascal or Alexander McQueen – simply aren’t available today.

The introduction of university fees, the end of grammar schools and prohibitive inner city rents means it’s tougher than ever for bright children from poorer families to find opportunities to work and develop alongside like-minded people.

Can social media to anything to help level the playing field? Of course, I’m an evangelist, so I’d like to think so. Lauren Luke and Jamal Edwards are just two examples of working class kids who’ve found fame and fortune through talent, hard work and YouTube.

But nothing’s going to happen until they start teaching social media properly in schools, and by the look of things that’s a long way off.

Photo: Dominic Campbell

Wishing you a fabulous Christmas & ultra-social 2014!

Christmas Ampersand by James Stopforth
How has your year been? For me, 2013 was the year of exciting developments with social media & social business becoming increasingly mainstream. It was the year that social advertising gained traction with LinkedIn launching sponsored updates & Twitter offering promoted ads to SMEs; Instagram launched its video feature & YouTube hosted its first annual Music Awards; Twitter went public for $2bn & Snapchat turned down a reputed $3bn from Facebook; TechCity proved itself as more than a just a pretty concept with Pinterest setting up shop in London & New York’s Mayor championing London over Silicon Valley; “Selfie” entered the Oxford English Dictionary with Miley Cyrus and Rhianna leading the celebrity Selfie circus; and business at last began to look beyond pure money metrics with sustainability and business purpose coming to the fore. What were your 2013 highlights? What do you hope for in 2014? Whatever you’re doing, I hope it’s as exciting & eclectic a year as 2013 turned out to be.

Photo: Christmas Ampersand by James Stopforth

All I want for Christmas is…a digital high street

London Christmas lights
Last time I visited Lush in Westfield, there was a jug of Moscow Mules by the door and a bowlful of M&Ms to help yourself to. A few shops down, Rigby & Peller were handing out glasses of Prosecco to anyone who fancied a browse.

Now that’s my definition of “social” shopping. But a good few more can be found in From UK High Street to Networked High Street – Eva Pascoe and Niki Gomez’s 2013 response to the Portas Review of 2011. It’s a well-written vision of how technology can improve (save?) our high streets. Here are my takeaways (no pun intended):

1. We’re lucky in the UK to have rich diversity in our high streets: “Each of our High Streets is a mix of different patterns of retail, leisure and services,” write Pascoe and Gomez. “These patterns are like multicolour mosaics, they are very unique, steeped in the history and diverse in demographics.”

Talking to friends who live in smaller, newer cities like Sydney or Tel Aviv, this complex tapestry does not exist everywhere. Things that Londoners take for granted – having access to hundreds of cultural and networking events every week, for example – simply aren’t possible in many other cities. We should make the most of it, and build on that diversity – rather than moaning (as we Brits love to do).

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Live blog: 7 tips for great social video #SMM13


I’m live blogging key talks from Social Media Marketing 2013. Finally today, it’s Barney Worfolk-Smith from Unruly Media, talking about social video. Hoping for some great insights. Keep refreshing this page for updates.

Unruly Media have produced the viral video chart since 2006 and Barney kicks off by talking about what they’ve learnt. The bottom line is, you can buy a view, you can’t buy a share. We don’t tend to use the word viral because that suggests randomness, which is pretty pointless if you’re a marketer. We prefer the term “social” video. Shares are currency in the social economy.

Unruly Media is founded by academics and we thought it important to have some scientific data-driven research to back up the findings of our chart, so we took six years of data and used it to publish Viral Marketing: The Science of Sharing. The book’s seven tips for success:

1. Make it emotional. Videos that elicit a strong emotional response are twice as likely to be shared.

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Live blog: Yorkshire Tea’s “Tea on the Train” campaign #SMM13

Yorkshire Tea - Tea on the Train
Next up, Dom Dwight, Head of Communications Development for Yorkshire Tea (pictured above with cricketer Michael Vaughan), talking about Yorkshire Tea’s fabulous campaign from April this year: Tea on the Train. Keep refreshing the page for updates.

Dom: The everyday black tea market is shrinking. Lack of pro-active interest in tea…but huge “latent” loyalty. Young people aren’t drinking too much tea, they drink some “normal” tea, and a lot of other stuff. The only way we can grow is by looking at people drinking Tetleys or PG Tips and convince them they’re drinking the wrong thing.

People tend to be fiercely loyal to their tea brand without knowing why. Often it’s because it’s what their mum drank. In this age of fragmented media, there’s not one way to reach everybody. We’re not a big multinational like Unilever, so from our perspective, the fragmented media side is an amazing advantage.

Earlier this year, we wanted to look at a way to disrupt what we call the “tea trance” – this latent loyalty. We came up with a party on a train. Not just any train – the Orient Express – and not just any party. We wanted to captivate the

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Live blog: Doug Kessler on “cutting the crap” from content marketing #SMM13

I’ll be live bloggging some of the key talks from The Social Media Marketing Conference in London today. Please keep refreshing the page for updates.

Doug Kessler is a B2B marketer, and he starts of by reminding us that content marketing started off as a business to business thing – then the consumer marketers got hold of it. Now everybody’s doing it. And as content marketing goes mainstream it stops conferring advantage.

Content marketing is becoming increasingly about “home run pieces” – the stuff that really resonates with your target audience. You want to give your audience goodies over time. And you want to throw a few “home runs” in there. You want to get onto a home run path. Building a great content brand.

Why hit home runs?

1. They earn disproportionate goodies.
2. They improve the performance of all other content
3. They create engagement through shares
4. They give you shot at overcoming the biggest obstacle: inertia

Clearly there’s no formula for producing home runs – but you can create the right conditions to produce it. Here are some tips:

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