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Instagram, Finally

Books & Comics, Social Media, Tech

I’ve held off starting my own Instagram channel for a while.

Firstly, as a person, I’m far more interested in words than pictures, meaning I just don’t take that many (and I can’t bring myself to either photograph food or take selfies seriously).

Secondly, I just wasn’t sure what to do with it. I use Pinterest as though it’s a visually-oriented version of Delicious, capturing images rather than just links from around the web. But I only upload the occasional picture that I’ve taken to the web.

So, I finally settled on using Instagram as a microblog around a single theme – mini book reviews. This will be interesting as I haven’t used any of the social channels around a single theme as yet, so I’ll be watchng to see if it’s regarded any differently to those channels where the theme is more general.

I’m reading around a book a week at present, so I’ve just posted a few to start for now. Take a look here.

Talking Nonsense Since …

Nonsense, Social Media, Tech

Another month, another WordPress theme. This time however I’ve spent some time going through all of this blog’s content – this is post number 94, apparently – creating a range of new categories, tagging each post according to subject matter and integrating the categories as a means of navigation, both to the right in the category cloud and above, as a site-wide, horizontal navigation bar. I’ve also taken a bunch of the HTML snippets that were on the right and integrated them along the top as points of contact and refreshed some of the copy in various places.

So, I’ve had a bit of a play and am quite happy with the end result – I hope you agree (and if not, please tell me below). I’ve also finally managed to get around to moving the site across to, admittedly with a little help from a friend (thank you).

Whilst I’m under no illusion about the modest readership figures of this blog, it is a great playground to get to fiddle with WordPress in a meaningful way. I have had a fiddle with Tumblr recently too, out of both professional and personal curiosity, and whilst I love some of the more contemporary themes, I’m not wild about the interface and the servers keep dropping out. So, I’l stick with what I know.

On the subject of facelifts, I saw that Delicious – a service that I still use daily – has just relaunched, with some aesthetic tweaks and a little new functionality (Stacks, which seems like a cross between G+’s sparks and the categories that are used here). The new page design tells me that I set up my delicious feed on 27th March 2006 (when I recall, I also set up my Digg profile at the same time – a service that I no longer use and never really fell in love with, hence no link here).

So, I thought I’d do some investigation, to see exactly when I joined a couple of services – and was surprised by quite a few of the findings:

Twitter – 5th March, 2008 (found via this service)

WordPress – 22nd August, 2008

Facebook – 11th June, 2007 (found via Facebook’s new timeline functionality)

Delicious (& Digg) – 27th March 2006

LinkedIn – 14th May, 2004 and… – 21st July, 2003

So, there you have it. At some point I might investigate Friends Reunited, Bibsonomy, Magnolia, Bibsonomy, Posterous, Xing, Plaxo and the many others that have come and gone, in terms of my usage – but as a broad chronology, those services above, along with Instapaper, my current favourite for reading on the go, are a pretty good representation of my personal affair with social media to date.

It’s unsettling that I’m starting to think I looked quite young in the first Facebook photos that were posted – which says it all really.

An Appendix & The Rapid Rise of G+

PR, SEO, Social Media

It’s the end of my first week back after a bit of a shock a few weeks ago when I found late one Sunday night that all was not as it should have been with my appendix.

Whilst it was fairly dramatic at the time, what with morphine, paramedics, ambulances, late night hospital visits for my family etc, it was taken out the next day and that was that.

We had the op Monday afternoon at about 4pm, I came around briefly that night but then promptly passed out again until about 4am the next morning, at which point I jumped out of bed, pulled the tubes out of my nose and wandered down the hospital ward with my drip, much to the bemusement of the sisters that were on hand. Despite clearly not knowing where I was, what with more drugs in my system than Hunter S Thomson on a stag weekend and having had nil by mouth for 36 hours, I still managed to argue my case with the nurse for wanting a shower, who eventually caved. Fortunately for all concerned, I didn’t collapse in the shower and, moreover, felt instantly better as a result of washing away the leavings of a brief stay in a hospital bed.

From that point it has all been fairly plain sailing – I particularly enjoyed listening to The Orb and The Chemical Brothers whilst clearly still feeling much of the effects of the general anaesthetic, which was humorous, even at the time. Then I was kicked out of hospital, presumably because I was bouncing off the walls by that point, later that morning – and the only subsequent hangover has been my heightened ability to fall asleep given minimal prompting for the subsequent three weeks. Still, every cloud…

So, I’m now back and have had a full week at work, albeit in the office throughout and with no travel.

In the intervening three weeks G+ seems to have set out its stall and looks like it has the potential to really shake up the status quo within Social Media – which itself is something of a constant of course. What appeals most to me about the service, based on what time I have had to play with it to date, is that it seems to take the best of services such as Instagram (one touch photo upload), Twitter (follow rather than befriend), Delicious (the sparks social bookmarking tool), Skype (hangouts for multiple video calls) and of course the design and layout owes much to Facebook. This feels both considered and appropriate – and what’s more, the fact that G+ links are denoted ‘do follow’ rather than the typical ‘no follow’ links of social networks (although some, like Digg, started out with the former and switched to the latter, presumably to avoid the service being used for SEO spam), coupled with the obvious association to the benefits of ranking in Google’s search results, is likely to incentivise users such as myself to frequent the service more than they otherwise would.

There are already some great third party services – I’ve used to create a ‘vanity url’ (which is really a redirect) to be used in email footers etc and allows users to import additional fans and followers from Facebook and Twitter.

What is most interesting is that unlike many other services – including GoogleWave – there is a genuine and palpable excitement about the potential of G+, which might well move the social media sector in an entirely new direction.

If nothing else, one thing is clear, social media and search are becoming ever closer and, if one agrees with the general premise that PR skills are the ideal basis for any external communication, then our integrated PR, Search and Social Media approach looks to be a good bet for the future.

Here’s my Google+ profile.

UPDATE: Please see a post on the Punch site about the rapid rise of G+.

Social PR

PR, SEO, Social Media

It’s been a monster of a week – spent monday with a bunch of social media agencies, PRs and brands at the excellent Social PR event, arranged by Luke at Influence People, where I both co-presented a great case study of our work with Sony Ericsson over the last year and then a panel.

Also this week, We’ve won a couple of new pieces of business since, have hired two new team members and now have a couple of other speaking opportunities lined up over the next few weeks and months.

Whilst I don’t mind speaking at all, it’s not something we’ve ever done as a company, preferring instead to keep our heads down and focus on client work, rather than self promotion. Nevertheless, I guess I recognise that the time has come to start this kind of activity a little more – and it’s great to be invited of course.

Anyway, if you want a good laugh, the above event was filmed and is live here.


PR, SEO, Social Media, Travel

I had a great night last night – visited Restaurant Cavos in Munich – which is apparently famous for Bayern Munich WAG wannabees, particularly on Thursdays (for some reason, best known to people locally). The greek food was great and then they crank the music up. It took a little while for them to decide to turn of the NOW 45 compilation and play something half-decent, but then it kicked off.

Weirdly, the general age was a fair bit older than I’d expected – lots of grey hair on show (including my own). Still, everyone was having a good time.

Despite having nothing harder than orange juice, I still thought it best to bail by about 1am. Nevertheless, it was still a school night – and I’m not as young as I was…

Was The Times’ App Really Ready?

PR, Social Media, Tech

Whilst I’ve been playing with The Times’ ipad app since its launch, I think I’ve now reached the conclusion that it’s simply not the best way to read the paper.

On the one hand there’s the lack of choice and personal flexibility. Clearly from News International’s perspective, that’s the point –
indeed I’m currently subscribing to the website and the ipad app – but on a daily basis, whilst I would certainly read the Times some days, I wouldn’t ever do so at the permanent expense of the other papers. To be honest, I see this as a fatal flaw in the ‘one fee per month’ model – as it relies entirely upon reader loyalty, which fundamentally cuts down on the potential target audience. Moreover, given the demographic of web and ipad users, surely they are the most likely candidates to be ‘floating’ readers?

Conceptually, the app makes sense – it’s just that I’ve now come to the conclusion that it’s not the best implementation of the idea.

I’m delighted that they took the decision to offer a couple of months of additional free subscription for the first adopters – but this was clearly admitted to be in return for effectively being beta testers for a product that really wasn’t even ready to be in beta, never mind widely available. I realised that I haven’t even fired it up for a few weeks now, which is probably based on my frustration at the experience up to that point.

Ultimately, I think there’s a lesson here – which is that the ‘ready, fire, aim’ approach is not necessarily always better than ‘ready, aim, fire’. Whilst this has no reflection on the publication’s output, despite being a fan of the technology, it simply doesn’t stack up again other projects which have, quite simply, been better implemented.

And given the Times has so much to lose in terms of brand equity, I’m not sure what has been gained in terms of being perceived as innovative was worth what is potentially lost through treating customers as guinea pigs.


Nonsense, PR, SEO, Social Media

I’m taking perverse pleasure in withholding information this week about our forthcoming team day out. Current guesses range from white water rafting to working at a soup kitchen. None are close.

The process of disinformation is particularly satisfying – I’ve casually asked how people feel heights a few times, which has resulted in lots of scurrying and debate.

So, my current story is that we’re going badger hunting with pitchforks – and that’s how it’s staying until five minutes beforehand…

Hit Pause

Health, PR, SEO, Social Media, Tech, Travel

The last week or so before holiday is always berserk – and this week has been no different. With three new joiners in the last few weeks, a leaver today and a couple of major new projects onboarding right now, the adage that ‘it’s never a good time’ is perhaps more applicable than normal at present.

Still, for all the passion and effort that gets poured in the rest of the year, most people are really good about recognising that we all need to take a week or so at some point, even when timings aren’t ideal.

So, I’m leaving my laptop at home, turning off the wifi and roaming on my phone (although I suspect if I find wifi I may be looking at weather reports, as March is a little early to guarantee good weather on the Med) and bracing myself for the 4am arrival of the cab tomorrow morning.

If I get to wear flip-flops, play with my kids and just catch up on my sleep for a couple of weeks, that’ll be just fine…

Shooting Up

Parenting, PR, SEO, Social Media

The first two months of the year have shot past – baby Goold is now steaming around everywhere causing trouble, mini Goold is halfway through her second term at school (as a result of which I’ve had to endure the emotionally-charged prospect of her first two school discos) and once again, England are being hopleless in the six nations.

Work-wise, we’re flying. In the last two weeks we’ve hired an unbelievable three times, part of which compensates for a couple of recent departures but also it’s partly new growth, which is genuinely exciting. Indeed despite having hired a new account director and two new members of the digital team, we’re still looking for another account manager or director.

Morover, recent finance and HR additions mean that Punch is now a fundamentally different entity than it was even a few months back – and hopefully much more robust as a result.

Yesterday (Friday) morning, the team and I seized the opportunity to make some physical changes around the office, effectively to make better use of space but also to do a bit of a spring clean and ensure that the new joiners move into their new roles in the most welcoming environment possible. Having done so, I think the physical changes made a real impression on the team – myself very much included -as it’s a tangible result of the changes that we can all see happening within the company but at times may seem a bit remote from each of us as individuals.

I’m shortly taking the girls on holiday – which is much needed – but which I’m sure will be an interesting marker when coming back, to see us as we now stand, rather than what I’m used to.

Still, I can’t forsee any delusions of grandeur just yet.

Besides, baby and mini G got me up at 5am this morning – and as a result I have some very important business to attend to regarding pink horsey Lego and dressing up as a princess.