Social branding: building my online personality

Not so long ago I wrote a blog called ‘ Social branding; who am I? Since then I have been working on creating and developing my online personality by sharing information, images that interest me and may possibly interest others. Along the way I’m making a few discoveries about myself, realising I know a bit more about digital marketing than I thought which is a boost for my self confidence. I’ve been working on my Twitter and LinkedIn profiles with a mixed bag of success, I’ll go into more detail below.

Twitter

I’m not embarrassed to say that in the past I wasn’t a Twitter person, since using it for work and attending some communication conferences I have got an insight to how I could effectively use this social network without sharing every aspect of life, nothing wrong in being selective.

  • Less is definitely more
  • Don’t go nuts with the hashtags
  • Be genuine and not so self centered.
  • Put some thought into the content I’m sharing, is it something my followers would be interested in.
  •  Don’t forget to have fun with it.
All sounds simple enough when you think about it
  • Put some effort into building your online persona,
  • Look for articles on your topic of interest
  • Like and share other people’s posts
  • Write and share your own words of wisdom, this part I sometimes struggle with, but something I am slowly but surely getting to grips with.
Sometimes it works and sometimes it doesn’t

I’ll admit that I don’t always know what I’m doing, there is a lot of information online some of it can be conflicting and down right confusing. Eventually I will have a much more structured approach  but at the moment the mixture of structure and ‘winging it’ is paying off.

My number followers are increasing which is good though the numbers do tend to fluctuate.

Followers April-May

I noticed in one day my number of followers had fallen by 10, but by the end of the day I had regained the number of followers originally lost. As you can see I have been posting a lot of message related to technology. It’s linked to my new found interest of artificial intelligence, it’s something that both worries and fascinates me at the same time.

LinkedIn

I use this social network differently to Twitter. With Twitter I feel I have more freedom to post a mixture of posts that show my different interests from a digital communications point of view to baking and about the exercise classes I attend. LinkedIn has a more professional air and not really a place to post how I profusely glowed during a weekly Zumba class.

LinkedIn is a work in progress

I have updated my profile, even went as far as filling in the summary section about myself. If I keep going in the direction that I am it is only a matter of time that I too will be confidently sharing my own words of wisdom. No I just need to be a bit more active and get involved, comment on posts and join some of the groups.

The one things I have learnt and I would say is one of the most important pieces of advice given on this journey is that no matter what your topic of interest is, it is important to find your own voice, be yourself. Just because you can’t be seen doesn’t mean your followers won’t be able to see through the fakeness.

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Baby showers; love or hate them?

Baby showers are like marmite, you either love them or you hate them, not sure if there is a middle ground. I attended such an event over the weekend to keep my sister company, though not as painful as I had expected it to be it still wasn’t enough to sway me into the ‘love’ camp.

After a bit of research, ok Wikipedia baby showers though under different names take place across the globe. In the case of the UK we have been influenced by America especially with the games, gender reveal cakes / events and lets not forget there is a baby gift lists where the expectant parent/s will have a list of things they would like bought for their unborn offspring. A list could be seen as being sensible approach so the prospective parent/s don’t get too many baby grows but then it’s also room to take advantage by adding items they would like but know they can’t afford.

Then there are the games;

  •  Pin the dummy on the baby
  •  Whilst blindfolded guess the flavour of the baby food
  • Charades with baby related words
  • Guests bring a picture of themselves as a baby and the pregnant woman has to guess who the adults are

All the while those attending and can / do drink get drunk as a skunk, must be their way of getting through these things.

These things can be expensive not only for the guests but also those organising the event.

  • Food & drink
  • Decorations
  • Things required for the games
  • Yes there are even gift bags to take home which can contain small bottles of bubbles (not alcohol) with blue and pink lids, sweets & popcorn, you get the idea.

I shouldn’t knock these things too much as I have been to some baby showers than have been somewhat bearable but they are not something I would miss. Plus when I was making cakes / cupcakes more regularly I have made baby shower themed ones.

If I am ever fortunate to be blessed with a child I have already told my sister I am not interested in a baby shower. I know, the social butterfly that I am (that was sarcasm) however I would much prefer something like a spa day and food that could be lunch, dinner though at the moment I swaying towards afternoon tea. The idea of being surrounded by hoards of people trying to guess the sex and weight of the baby whilst you are thinking I may need to pee again as this baby is crushing on my bladder. Then there are those who may feel compelled to come and rub my pregnant belly… personal space best to keep out of mine unless invited in.

Apologies to anyone I may have offended and you absolutely love these type of events but in my case if it’s possible I’ll decline the invite to the next baby shower, will just need a good excuse!

How far would you go for the perfect, memorable selfie?

How far are you willing to go to get that perf6ect, memorable selfie? Are you willing to risk your life for a kilfie? A kilfie is self explanatory, a selfie that results in the person in the photo being killed, this could be falling down stairs, falling of a cliff, getting hit by a train etc.

We live in a self-obsessed time where the number of likes a photograph get can determine if it remains online or gets relegated to the reject pile. Another snap of you drinking a latte in different coffee shop just doesn’t make the cut, you need a more daring, more creative, take that next selfie like your life literally depended on it. Yes I am being sarcastic because I can’t

Though other social media networks play a role Instagram was recently named as the most narcissistic social media platform by 64% of millennials. Is this social media platform spearheading a generation of self-obsessed image crazed individuals that feel the worth of an image and themselves is determined by the number of likes and post shares it receives?

Social media plays an active role in many people’s lives it’s the first thing they check when they wake up. This crazed approach to living your life through an online status is resulting in people competing to get the most likes, shares and followers. Recently a Russian model leant backwards on the rooftop ledge of Cayan Tower in Dubai Marina 1000ft above the ground with only another human being holding her arm for safety with a camera held in his mouth to get that perfect shot. That’s dedication right there for you, the tough decisions some people have to make; your life or a memorable photograph?

In India last year two teenager died taking selfies on an active train track. India has many beautiful places to take a selfie why pick train tracks?

What is driving people to behave so recklessly? Is it more than just an obsession to have your life mapped out through photographs, the more dangerous the better or does it go deeper psychologically, that face to face communication is being replaced by a series of images? We thought written post updating the world about babies, food, television programmes was bad enough but to see the last photo taken just before the person/s in the photo dies is disturbing.

If you like your statistics, men are more likely to take dangerous selfies than women, most of the people who took a kilfie were under the age of 24, and in a study conducted out of 124 selfie deaths reported worldwide India was at the top with 76. (http://wapo.st/2oQlWiM)

Suffering from FOMO?

Who doesn’t like another acronym finding its way into the language as clearly there just aren’t enough? FOMO isn’t new it has been doing the rounds for a while, I just didn’t know what it meant. Though it may sound like it could be a swear word, it isn’t, FOMO is Fear Of Missing Out. So much so that people develop an even more so unhealthy relationship with social media that can lead to anxiety, overstretching yourself to try and go to every event going whether you want to or not just in case you miss out on something interesting. The constant updating of status’s; how babies are able to use the toilet from birth, holiday pictures, going to a high profile, exclusive events is creating a feeling of inadequacy in others the feeling that their lives aren’t exciting or as fulfilling, even though we know that logic dictates that just because those pictures may look great they don’t really tell the whole story.

With easier access to our online profiles through a range of media outlets, you don’t have to wait until you can get onto a computer to post a message, you can tell all your followers what you are doing in real time through an app on your phone. Trying to maintain that kind of image and keep up with others sounds exhausting, it’s no wonder that the constant checking and updating of is creating obsessed, burnt out individuals aka FOMO. Sounds dramatic but think about it, before technology if you felt the green eyed monster rearing its ugly head when a friend shared details of their excellent holiday to the Carribbean you could walk away and forget about it, avoid seeing their holiday snaps. Now it’s smack bang in your face all over your Facebook, Instagram, Snapchat etc. There is no escape.

It doesn’t stop with your social circle FOMO is infiltrating the workplace, with the fear of missing out on an important meeting or not being involved in a project even if it isn’t relevant to you. Let’s not forget LinkedIn, got to keep that profile up to date, have people endorse your skills, updating your status etc. Instead of encouraging, supporting, empowering each other indirectly we’re tapping into people insecurities and making them feel low.

I’m bashing FOMO a bit here but I wonder how much of this behaviour is age related with people establishing themselves and figuring out who they are. I’m nearly 40 and am still developing as a person with opinions, interests changing constantly but my relationship with Facebook and LinkedIn is no longer as consistent. Twitter is another story. Even with the social networks shares are going down its popularity slowly waning I am working on boosting my profile and have found myself updating daily and checking to see if my number of followers has increased / fallen. FOMO is like a disease it gets hold of you little by little until you are hooked, its ok I only have this problem with Twitter there is still hope I can wean myself back to a healthy relationship with the network without compromising my own sanity.

Amongst the sea of negativity surrounding FOMO there was a positive response to a question that was posted on Quora and shared on Huffington Post about dealing with FOMO. Don’t let it control you, you control it but taking the positives from other people’s interests and experiences that you wouldn’t have considered before. Take part in things that would have otherwise bypassed you and not just because others are doing it. Use FOMO to develop and create a happier, confident you.
With that outlook who wouldn’t want a bit of FOMO in their life?

Social side of the NHS

Like it or love it social media is all around us. It has changed the way we engage and communicate with our peers, market our businesses and market ourselves. , every industry utilises social media to their advantage whether it is networking, marketing, selling; it has advanced the way a company publicises itself even the NHS.

When you think of social media you wouldn’t necessarily think how the NHS would be able to effectively use social media to their advantage, how will they engage, what content will they share, where will this content come from? To answer some of these questions and help NHS Trusts create a successful social media presence NHS Employers launched a helpful social media toolkit to help trust’s create their own social media policy and to have clear social media objectives in place.

 ‘Social media allows local NHS and care providers to connect and engage directly with thousands of people and organisations, be seen to understand and take on board their viewpoints and involve them in local solutions.’ – The Guardian; How NHS organisations should use social media

Social media doesn’t have to this big scary monster, there are people who will take the opportunity to public vilify the NHS but for every negative comment there are many positive ones. Others may use these networks to get the attention of the health trust because they don’t feel they are getting the correct treatment, in these situations it is important to remain professional especially if the messages are public, how you respond and handle the situation will be seen by a lot of people who could have been a potential networking opportunity.

I think it’s a positive that the NHS and the in particular the Health Trust I work for are embracing social media, for one it keeps me in a job. It’s important for the NHS to be seen to engage with other collaborators and communicate with their followers, considering the negative media attention it receives this was the NHS has the chance to build trust with its followers and create a positive image that is also in line with the trusts own objectives. Though ploughing forward with its own health campaigns social media isn’t for everyone or every NHS trust.

Promoting the NHS as a whole is one thing but what if you work for the NHS, should you have more than one account; a professional and a personal one that you could make private? This question was raised at a social media conference hosted by NHS Employers last year as some people were concerned about their patients trying to follow them or join their network. Take Twitter for example, many of the speakers chose to have one account that they used for both professional and personal purposes.  No matter what you use social media for there is always an element of common sense that should be used, don’t post anything you wouldn’t say to someone’s face or would be harmful to yourself or others. There is no need to be rude, just because you can’t be seen visually doesn’t mean you have to behave like a troll, the only person whose image will be damaged is your own.
I only have one Twitter account which is used for both professional and personal purposes sharing industry related articles and those that are of interest to me such as baking.

In some circumstances it is important to keep your personal accounts hidden but on the whole having one account allows you to show your non business side as well, there are many things that make you the person you are and it doesn’t hurt to show this side of you once in a while.

We’re all misfits

I came across this blog piece from seventhvoice; People with Autism want real friends too. The blogger talks about how her daughter has to make extra effort to fit in with her friends but would like friends who would fit in with her or even just accept her for the way she is. This child has autism, situations many of us may find ‘normal’ can be exhausting and boring for her. Her current friends see the character she plays to fit in with this group, being herself could risk no longer having these friendships which are important to her.

The way the child in the article plays a character in order to fit in doesn’t akways change as we get older. Think about the different characters you play depending on the environment. An article published on HBR.org; Do You Really Want to Be Yourself at Work? discusses being yourself vs playing a work version of yourself. How many of us are truly comfortable enough to be ourselves at work and believe our true personalities are strong enough to forge a successful career?

I want people at work to think I’m better than I am; I don’t want them to see how I really am!

Depending on the situation, with age many people can eventually become tired with having to play a role finally deciding, good or bad, to let their true self shine through.

Through experiences and society we’re taught about the importance of trying to fit in, fit in with people at school, at social gatherings, at work. If you don’t fit the mould then either you keep searching for where you do fit or fear being ignored.

‘Fitting in’ is not only exhausting but overrated. Society is so focused with trying to fit in, don’t rock the boat, don’t do anything that is considered a deviant from what is considered the norm is frowned upon with suspicion or disgust. It is almost like we’ve become programmed to not be accepting of others and to not see how the differences could actually make us better people.

It is not just as people we could improve with embracing a bit of ‘different’. How would a business grow if they kept hiring the same people with the same views and opinions? Having someone with a different perspective could bring a new lease of live a business and take it to the next level.

Through campaigns and the media we are being made more aware about mental illnesses and how suffers are affected by it. The importance to not ostracise or look at them as if they have some kind of disease but to show support and kindness. Whether we like it or not we all have some kind of defect, some just need a little bit of extra help now and then.

Those who do feel socially awkward doesn’t mean they don’t want to have others to talk to in those rare moments where they feel comfortable around others / situation. It’s about taking the time to understand others instead of just thinking they are a bit weird and keeping your distance. I know people who some would consider weird  (and/or even think the same about me!) but think it’s a part of their personality that also makes them that bit more interesting. If you were a biscuit would you rather keep it safe and simple with a Rich Tea or be a bit different and go for a Bourbon or a Jammy Dodger? Personally I’d got for a cookie, maybe a chocolate chip or a cherry and chocolate.

Let’s face it there is no picture perfect image of what is ‘normal’, we’re all a bunch of misfits who have the illusion we’re normal because we’re mixing with similar misfits. Break out of the cookie cutter mould and find out what biscuit you are.

What does blogging mean to you?

Many of us blog for different reasons;

–          A platform to vent our frustrations

–          A place to share emotions as the writer goes through a difficult time

–          Share knowledge

–          Generate an income

–          Would look good on a resume; depending on the type of blog

There are many more reasons that I have most likely missed off but this was all I could think of for now.

For me,I had recently started looking after the company I work for; JobServe’s, social media pages. I barely used my own LinkedIn and Facebook pages, didn’t use Twitter and vaguely knew about other social media platforms available let alone be able to effectively update the company pages. Nevertheless, with the whole ‘build your brand via social media’ was kicking off so thought it, would be another string to learn and add to my expanding bow. After a while Social Media in its traditional sense (Facebook, Twitter etc) itself was not enough for me. I had noticed that JobServe needed to write and share articles written by them. The site is a jobs board and not a recruitment agency but this didn’t mean that we shouldn’t engage with both our paying customers and candidates a like.

What initially began with me writing articles for JobServe developed into me creating a blog. If I can learn and try to build a company brand, then why not try and build a brand that is a bit closer to home, myself.

I know it may sound a bit strange calling myself a brand but welcome to the marketing world. One way or another we are all brands – remember that the next time you apply for a job and have left that incriminating photo on your public Facebook profile.

Initially my blog was going to about Social Media, Employment until my manager suggested I break it up by including things that are more specific to me. After all how can I build my personal brand without talking about me?

As I continue to blog it is no longer simply about building a brand or trying to increase traffic to the company pages. I blog because it is something I enjoy doing, as place where I can be myself without being judged. I enjoy reading all the diverse blogs, opinions out there and engaging with people from across the globe. With the up and coming authors starting out with blog chapters, I get to read a book as if it was a television series. I’m enticed to keep reading and waiting for the next blog segment and having the option to engage with the author.

Like any other online there are those who will be cruel with their words. But then again there are also bloggers who choose to write pieces that they know some readers will find controversial, guess it’s one way to increase traffic to your blog.

I believe it is true to say the pen is mightier than the sword, no matter what your choice of medium is the written word is a powerful and influential communication tool. There are many who regularly update a hand written diary, others have chose to write it in a digital format via a blog.

Whatever our reason, whether it be fact or fiction, the one thing we all have in common is that we enjoy writing, sharing, being as social or as anti social as we like. 🙂

What were your reasons for starting your blog and have they stayed the same?

Just how private are our private lives?

BeingWatched

I have my Facebook privacy settings on, I have a public WordPress and LinkedIn profile. I have chosen these settings for my various social profiles because there are some things I am happy to share with everyone, other pieces of information I want only a select few to see.

However if you are a US citizen, try all you like to keep your private life private but be warned you are being watched.

Recently news broke about PRISM, a surveillance program run by the US government intelligence organisation NSA (National Security Agency). It was brought to the public attention by whistle blower Edward Snowden that NSA were secretly tracking and storing US citizens online activity, conversations etc.

Before we get all panicky about this, we could try and look at this from a different perspective.

From a marketing angle our online activities from our shopping habits to the movies we download and webpages we view are monitored. Then we are targeted with offers and similar adverts that may interest us based on our online behaviour.  Facebook try to target specific users with adverts they think are of interest to them based on their Facebook activity.

This brings us onto our social media accounts, where do we think all our data is stored and who else has access to them? As secure as we try and make ourselves online somewhere our private information, information we have willingly parted with, is stored on a giant server.

Every time we sign an agreement with companies we are allowing them access to personal information such as bank account details, date of birth, address, all of which is stored and despite all the high level security in the world is still susceptible to being accessed by those with less than savoury intentions.

Even down to the good old store loyalty cards. Stores are tracking the way we shop, things we are most likely to frequently buy so they can target us with money off coupons making us think we are getting a good deal, but are we really?

Some of the examples used are harmless marketing traits to target us the consumer, most of the time we have knowingly parted with personal details. Problems arise when we are being tracked / watched unknowingly, as in the case of the PRISM scandal. Tracking telephone conversations is usually associated with criminals, not those who are considered to law abiding citizens.

Despite being painted in a negative light the PRISM program does not believe they have done anything wrong, that their tracking is safe and they have not endangered anyone. That a PRISM report states they have followed the three simple rules of safe tracking.

  1. Safe tracking is anonymous.
  2. Safe tracking is transparent, informing users of what is and isn’t private.
  3. Safe tracking respects your privacy, protecting your personal content, connections and conversations.

Safe or not, it is the fact that this type of surveillance was taking place without the US public knowing. This isn’t the same as a mobile company tracking your phone usage, this is the government monitoring the average Joe’s conversation.

It could be argued that the government surveillance program is to protect the country’s citizens and preventing any future terrorist attacks. But has it reached a point that even its own government no longer have trust in its own people that they have taken such measures?

If this type of program exists in USA, how long before news emerges of similar programs existing in other countries, say the UK?

Mobile Advertising; 2013 so far

I wrote an article on Mobile Advertising back in February 2013.

I still believe that mobile advertising is a love hate thing. I personally am not a fan of it; I don’t appreciate the various adverts appearing at the top of my screen whilst I’m trying to play a game of angry birds. However I’m also not a fan of adverts disrupting my television programme, but like television I can understand the need for them, as with the need for mobile advertising.

This form of advertising is picking up pace with many companies realising the need to embrace this new method of marketing their products be it through smartphones or tablets.  Despite its popularity with the advertising world does it still need to prove its worth? If the statistics are anything to go by, compared to 2012 UK mobile advertising grew by 148% to £526m. The popularity of technology; smartphones and tablets have contributed to the growth of the industry.  So much so that companies are increasing their mobile advertising budgets.

Where Facebook initially struggled they are steadily succeeding, but are they generating the kind of income they had hoped for? Facebook has proven again that it can target adverts to smartphones and tablets, but questions remain regarding how effective those marketing messages are according to Forrester analyst Nate Elliott.

Facebook are managing to retain their number of users despite not all of those users being as active as they once were. This no doubt will affect the success of their mobile advertising ventures. Facebook could be doing too much too soon instead of focusing on one thing and making it a success. This year Facebook launched “Facebook Home” software which according to Google play has not received good reviews. Wanting to further expand, Facebook have purchased Parse, a start-up in paid tools and services for developing mobile apps.

For some jumping onto the mobile advertising train too quickly has resulted in some miscalculations. Remember the phrase, ‘You have to spend money to make money’.  Some mobile advertising start-ups maybe should have kept some of that money aside for a rainy day.  Though figures are showing the growth of mobile advertising this success has not been carried throughout the industry, with some mobile ad companies ‘restructuring’ resulting in layoffs.

As with anything technological it will be exploited to make a profit of some kind, in this case mobile advertising. As seen some companies will succeed, others have struggled with consequences whilst others keep on trying to break into the mobile advertising world. Until then I am going to have to put up with the adverts stalking my Facebook news feed and more importantly  the adverts over shadowing my game of angry birds.

You can also view this article on www.jobserve.com

Will blogging become a dinosaur?


Text5

I know I should be more clued up with this social media lark, but there is so much out there, past, present and future that I seem to uncover something new all the time.

My latest discovery is whether blogging is being taken over by the black hole known as social media. Simply based on my own experience and usage of blogs I would say no. I like reading books, a reason why the Kindle though popular and in some cases handy device to have, for me it will not ever replace a good ‘old fashioned’ physical book, hardback or paperback I’m not fussy. My joy of reading encourages my imagination and interest in writing with a twist of ‘Foz’ thrown into the mix.

I was intrigued to discover the world of microblogging.  This involves the use of Twitter, Facebook status updates, Google+ etc where users say what they want to say a fewer amount of words. I came across this blog ‘Where Have All The Bloggers Gone?’.  Here the user compares writing a blog to a Twitter message and how they have gone from being an avid blogger to preferring to condense their blog into 140 characters via Twitter.  I believe that the likes of Twitter are beneficial for promoting and generating traffic to a blog, but not overly convinced it could replace or at best reduce the number of bloggers out there.

I am all for blogging, it generates a following that is specific to you and your blog, and encourages interaction between the blogger and its followers. Yet as we move deeper into the world of wanting everything yesterday will this also apply to blogs? To get information out there quicker and through an easily accessible, mobile platform will we gradually sway towards condensing an event that in its entirety deserves in depth attention and time, down to 140 characters? Will our need to take in as much information in the shortest amount of time with the least amount of effort inhibit our ability to sit back, read a well written article and think about what we have read before moving onto the next topic? This article ‘Why Blogging Is Dead – And What’s Next’ discusses the need to not only obtain information quickly and easily but be able to just as easily create meaningful content. The article discusses how people will slowly move towards completing tasks that were once completed using a PC/laptop will be carried out on a mobile and how this will impact the art of traditional blogging.

Blog_094People blog for a variety of reasons, place to vent their frustrations, brand themselves / company, share information on a topic of interest. Whilst many of us have something to say and are willing to publicly share our thoughts, blogging in itself is not likely to die out. Like with many other things blogging platforms will evolve to become more accessible to those on the go or with a short attention span. Social media updates do not constitute a ‘blog’, they will contain the barest of details due to character limitations without any real substance

I enjoy reading the written word but this is not to say that a blog couldn’t be an image. Bloggers are already blogging photographs; video’s, which are proving to be just as popular as a written blog. Last week Twitter announced the launch of the video sharing app Vine, enabling the social website to share a story through a 6 second video. The introduction of Vine does add another string to Twitter’s bow, a video, even a 6 second one can be a powerful tool to convey a message. Movies created through Vine are not solely for the use of Twitter, users can upload video’s onto their Vine accounts and share their creations.

It could be argued that blogging is a form of social media, status updates are written in the form of a blog. There are trolls willing to voice their scathing and at times offensive opinions, cybergedeon_dont_feed_trollswriters still have to be careful about the information in their articles and who may read them. Yet which are you more likely to read a gain, a Twitter update or a blog piece? Social media such as the likes of Twitter and Facebook have their place, trying to integrate them into every nook, corner and cranny reduces the uniqueness of a platform, in this case blogging, don’t you think?

References

http://www.linkedin.com/today/post/article/20130122171822-2298009-where-have-all-the-bloggers-gone

http://www.fastcompany.com/3003658/why-blogging-dead-and-whats-next

http://deadmachinery.wordpress.com/2013/01/24/is-blogging-really-that-powerful/