Managing Reputation Online

Before a company can implement a successful social media strategy it is critical for them to analyse how they are to manage their own reputation. To represent your client online requires you to wear the mask of your client. Due to this you must accept full responsibility to act on the part of your client on the side of promotion.

Social networks are no longer a question of the scripting languages being used but instead concerned purely upon the relationships between individuals. Each social network is different as the medium changes the message. Sometimes a particularly social networking site may not be suitable for the class of client you are attempting to promote. If anything the reputation of that client might be harmed because you implemented a strategy involving the wrong mediums of social media.

Individuals online change. This is one of the most important overlooked facts which can lead to reputation errors. When communicating online we have the option to change who we are. Our writing style conveys the formality of who we are and semiotics can speak a thousand words.

Do not forget that we are talking about “SOCIAL” networks. The idea is to be social on the internet. Don’t implement a pathetic viral strategy aimed on catching people out otherwise your reputation will plummet. Work to the rules of the social networking site you have chosen, communicate with the community.

Apart from the misguided companies social networks are largely used to be social. Being social usually involves a form of casual conversation and nothing is worse than a company ruining the party by avoiding those personal pronouns.

Remember that I said each social networking site is different? The same goes for the individuals who reside within each of those networks. It is not possible to tarnish each social network with the same brush. Each network acts individually and the users within those networks are different too. They all share one thing in common though. They are on that network to be social. Even if they don’t communicate often they still shout out their messages and care what people think. Companies need to shout out their messages, communicate individually and care a lot.

Whilst there is a place on the internet for every client, there is not always a place for every PR campaign. Social media is a fantastic tool for joining people together to support a particular cause but not always the best for awareness. On the internet people don’t want awareness but instead content. Using content to spread awareness will work if done correctly.

In my experience the companies who gain the most out of social media are ones who have an online present. Promoting a website is easy if the website is interesting or provides a service. In that way you can find a gap within a social networking community for a product which people would find useful.

A few years ago I designed and built a website with a friend of mine which quickly grew in popularity. The website was aimed at programmers who wanted to create teams online so that they could build impressive computer games. The site worked very well and the success of the website was its failure. The website required heightened attention which we were unable to provide during our GCSE year.

Although this is often the mistake of social media. It cannot be used to make something look better than it actually is. This is down to the simple fact that people converse with each other online and any masking of a product is soon unfurnished. A good product online will do well. It will do even better if it fills a niche in the market.

Class of Nostalgia

There is so much worry which is inflicted upon a young person’s mind. From those early years at school when you are required to read and write efficiently but also learn basic maths. Basic maths? Does such a mathematical arena really exist? The problem with schooling is that every pupil is classified into individual categories. Ranging from those who struggle, to the pupils who have brains like sponges. Something that is always forgotten about sponges though is that they are porous and full of holes. Those who are observant will evaluate that the majority of those ‘so called’ fast learners at school just stored all that knowledge into their short term memory.

The category system at school is simply misunderstood. Those in the lowest group were not dull, dim or disinterested but instead slower learners. The brain needs some extra time to grasp a comprehensive understanding but then would retain that learnt knowledge. What I am trying to get at is that those categories at primary schools stick in the subconscious. The good old British class system even extends into our Primary Schools teaching children from an early age that we are not all equal.

It will be of no surprise to you that we are not equal which would suggest the class system to hold some validity but let’s approach life as if we are all equal. There is no harm in that. So what if somebody answered a question incorrectly? At least they had thought about the question before providing their answer. That is the only important skill which schooling requires of us. It is to think independently. To walk through life as if we are the only focus and to maintain a public image unafraid of being open and honest.

It is amazing about how many details about our childhood may influence our older years. For this I am thankful for. I have had a good childhood, although I was not fully aware of it at the time. Of course the only moments I can remember from my childhood were those times of emotional intensities. From the time I was too scared to walk down the flight of stairs in a moment of acrophobia. Ranging to a distant memory when I found myself in a narrow corridor with red floors and patterns walls. To walk towards a door to find a loved one crying on a four poster bed. To this very day I am still mystified by this memory. The intensity tells me that the memory is true but perhaps a mere creation of the childhood memory.

When we are younger most of our time dwells within the world of fantasy. As we age it is difficult to distinguish between the truth and imagination but at the same time we can understand. Children do not have an imagination because they are unhappy but because the world would be boring without it. We can choose to depart from our imagination or embrace it as part of our world. Oh, that is right, everything is relative. We can only view the world through our own eyes, only understand what is possible in our own minds.

Of course you will find similar thinking people but the only truth in this world is dependant upon the strength of our imagination. Do not think for one single moment that a certain belief is more important than another. They are all equal in the sense that they are imaginations of each other. Do not question them; imagine that a certain cause could not lead to an outcome. Remove yourself from those mathematical equations learnt at school.

Stop the social media hype

Apparently there are 15,740 social media experts on Twitter of who take the forms of gurus, consultants, stars, experts and ninjas. I am not entirely surprised and as Mashable observed this self-accredited title is just hot air. Surely the only way somebody can be truly convinced of your worth is through the voice of another?socialmediabandwagon300x242

Notice how on my Twitter profile I have avoided cliché terminology. There is nothing worse than those who big themselves up on Twitter without any experience or content to prove their worth. Just because you Re-Tweet social media posts doesn’t make you an expert; it makes you a regurgitator.

I am not an expert but instead a ‘web 2.0 enthusiast’. Even though I am only a student I have been surfing the internet since the age of five and have built similar social media websites which have received  so much hype today. I am an enthusiast, passionate about the subject and can see potential as well as flaws.

So forgive me as I walk the controversial path into what could be considered short sighted and simply wrong. Social media is experiencing a frenzy of attention at the moment. Rather than personal attributes people are being viewed by how many followers they have on Twitter and the amount of websites they have heard of. I am getting fed up with this hype.

In one breath I can name over a dozen different websites which will help share content from your website. Methods to spread a company’s word into the different sections of the heterogeneous audience in which social networking has created. I did a presentation to a client at the beginning of this month and they were more interested in a social media strategy surrounding Facebook than considering ‘old fashioned pr’.

It is in my opinion that the world has gone crazy. Of course there is value to using social media but let’s all calm down about this. Just because a PR firm has offered social media in their pitch doesn’t mean that they will do it well. It is really just basic logic. Whilst computers deal in 0’s and 1’s, humans don’t. To use social media or not use social media isn’t the focus. It is to have a campaign when social media is used well.

If social media isn’t used well then your company is running the risk of receiving bad coverage. To a certain extent using social media is a bit like a PR agency signing their own death warrant. Once your message is out there you have no control over how people react. You can’t hide details on the internet because people will join together and form a power much stronger than your company.

Not that good PR should hide messages but you can’t even be lenient with the truth either. Honesty is an open ordeal and the internet allows PR to be very honest. Using social media it is possible to interact with individuals, for companies to build personal relationships. In this way advertising has fundamentally been left behind in the 20th Century.

For example, Twitter. It is true that Twitter is a powerful marketing tool and is frequently being used to promote. However, Twitter is not always a promotional tool. For certain businesses the social networking site would work very well but in other cases it simply doesn’t. Over the summer I was working for a company who wanted to attract more people to their website and so I drew people through new blog articles. This method worked very well but I was communicating with people. Not just promoting.

Keep in mind through that whilst PR seems to be utterly delighted over the concepts of social media, we should also be very scared. We can send out our messages but then that is it. We can keep releasing statements through social networks but it is not possible to manage reputation effectively. Once communities start communicating on a large enough scale the noise simply drowns out any other messages on the medium.

PR on any social network simply stands as one insignificant individual. An agency needs to build a reputation online before anybody decides to take notice of their messages. This is why viral communication can no longer exist.

Christmas Spirit

Don’t be so surprised. Now that two blogs have become one I am forced to write mundane articles such as this. The build up to Christmas is not only readying everybody for a periodical anticlimax as Christmas day occurs and the rain fell just as it did the previous. For those of us who would rather just avoid the Christmas period altogether conversations occur with stunned strangers who cannot bear to believe that a single individual could ever not like Christmas. Personally I feel compelled to try and rethink my views each year concerning this holiday period but there is no solace. Just a winter solstice, which, by chance, started today. The Earth is on its tilt and unfortunately the Christmas decorations haven’t fallen into the dark abyss of space.

It isn’t like I don’t try. Yesterday I decided to attend the carol service at my local Church. It was good. Well… I didn’t like it when the pastor started talking about the love of Jesus. Apparently I was the only one in the Church who arrived just because I wanted to listen to the choir and sing some songs. Is this the desperate non-spiritual materialistic monster I have become?

In all honesty Christmas day is jolly good fun. Just look at me trying to dig myself out of this hole? Family, that’s right. Family is what is important about Christmas. There is a problem though. Call me lucky but I see my family quite often. I only saw them last week and now I’m going to see them again on Christmas day. Presents are good fun but saying thank you with that complacent smile makes me want to gag on my mince pie.

The most ridiculous plan was when my mother decided to hang mistletoe in the porch of our house. Not carefully thought through since the family were due to arrive the next day. Mistletoe is by far Christmas’ worst creation. I couldn’t care less about the history behind it, just please, for the love of glandular fever, get rid of it. In certain situations I can imagine when mistletoe might be useful. Perhaps there is a certain girl who you want to catch within that very old tradition. When mistletoe is in the equation social decency seems to take a step backwards.

Just what is with putting decorations on the front of our houses? In the past a mere wreath on the door would have sufficed. Now home owners have decided to hang streams of lights from each ledge of the house. The problem is progressively getting worse, even the bushes can’t get through the Christmas period without being secondary Christmas trees.

I have no idea how Santa is meant to navigate his ways to the bedrooms past the decorations in the house. Although I have always wondered why, as a child, I wasn’t more frightened of Santa.

This is my understanding of Santa:

–          A man who breaks into your house

–          Visits your bedroom whilst you sleep

–          A likely alcoholic

–          Can do magic

Santa seems like a shady kind of fellow. Still, it kept me happy as a child. Perhaps the magic of Christmas has disappeared because I am just getting too old. Ah well, I promise I will write some sort of PR post soon.

#ratm4xmas Campaign

After having read Barbara Ellen’s worryingly inaccurate article in The Observer this morning, “Why I rage on behalf of the ordinary Joes”, I have been convinced to spur into a Rage Against the Machine article of my own.

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The fog of chart war first began to form when the Facebook group “Rage Against the Machine for Christmas No.1” appeared on Facebook. The group was formed after X Factor winner Joe McElderry was predicted a Christmas number 1. Why shouldn’t he get the number 1 spot at Christmas? For the last 5 years the X Factor has been at the top of the charts at Christmas. As of writing this article the group has 948,854 members which isn’t taking into account the other numerous fan groups which have since appeared. The only group I can find in support of Joe is, “Lets Get Joe McElderry to Christmas No.1”, which boasts just over 1,100 members.

At first it was easy to become sceptical about the whole matter. Personally I am fed up with how the X Factor dominates the charts and how fame descends upon the chosen individual as some sort of divine power. The more pressing problem is how Simon Cowell was rumoured to be benefitting from the whole rebel outbreak against the X Factor. Apparently Cowell has shares in Sony but research as shown me that this is in fact untrue. Whilst Cowell did establish Syco Music, this is a division from Sony. So Sony did very well out of this debacle, the only extra profit Cowell may have made would have been through some extra sales of Joe’s single but other than that everything is OK.

The best news about the Rage Against the Machine campaign was when it was announced that the profits would go to the charity Shelter. This not only made Rage Against the Machine a rebellion choice for unhappy people to select but also the charitable one. So far Shelter has received over £60,000 of donations.

A confident HMV spokesman announced, “It’s going to be a much closer race than predicted but we remain confident Joe will do it”. This was said as a CD glitch occurred which caused distribution issues of Joe’s new CD. The chart battle has been a close one all the way through and it is difficult to say who will win.

What this has shown us is just how powerful social media can be at raising awareness for a particular cause. We must take into account that the Facebook group was spoken about in the mainstream media but this was only because of the conversations caused by the brewing chart battle online.

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It is worthwhile having a look at the Twitter hashtag #ratm4xmas. So far there are rumours that Rage Against the Machine have indeed reached the Christmas no.1. The only websites which offer any sort of overall judgement have been online betting markets. We will only know for certain around 7pm this evening who has won the chart battle.

So what did I do? I bought Rage Against the Machine. It was a song that I didn’t own, I love metal and I am fed up with how contestants are almost promised a Christmas No.1 on the X Factor. I’m not sure if it will change the way Simon Cowell runs the X Factor now that this campaign has heavily influenced the charts but it shows how powerful the people really are.

I should better stop writing now otherwise I may start uncontrollably screaming ‘revolution’.

Top 10 WordPress Plugins

As a keen user and avid supporter of WordPress I thought I would share with you my top 10 WordPress plugins. All of which are being used on this blog. Enjoy!

1. AJAXed WordPressA superb plugin which allows for the neat ajax expanding feature for posts on this blog. It also has the ability to make your whole WordPress ajaxed. In many cases it can make blogs load quicker and become more responsive.

2. WP-SpamFreeWithout this plugin I may have left the blogosphere for good. It has stopped 100% of spam messages penetrating this website and has made my life a lot easier.

3. LifestreamThis is also known as the “Social Stream” on this website. All you do is type in the URLs of your different social networking accounts and then it will list all of your activities. I find it far more effective than just choosing specialised plugins for single social networking websites.

4. WordPress PDA & iPhoneI only installed this plugin a couple of weeks ago and so far I have been very impressed with it. View this website using an iPhone or a PDA and you will see why!

5. WP Super Cache7 months ago a lot of users were sending me emails saying that the website was taking ages to load. Turns out that the pages were loading too much bulky php code. This plugin caches all of your blog’s pages and converts them to html for quick loading. There are various settings to allow caching intervals.

6. podPressA very clever and useful plugin that creates an RSS feed of all rich media content. All the podcasts on this website are managed through podPress, including the ability for the flash streaming applet.

7. NextGEN GalleryIf you have taken lots of photos and want to show them off in a stylish way then this is the plugin for you. The admin side of things takes a little bit to get used to but this is by far one of the best ways to present images on WordPress.

8. All in One SEO PackI use this plugin to highlight key words in articles so that search indexes are optimised. It isn’t essential for your blog but it might be worth having a look at it.

9. ShareThisThis is essential. There are a few different plugins which offer a similar service. This plugin will place a ‘ShareThis’ button at the end of each article to give visitors the option to share the article they just viewed within their own social networks. Can be really good for gaining more website hits.

10. WordPress Popular PostsAn interesting plugin which lists the top posts viewed on your blog with the ability to also share how many views each post has received. It also allows users to see the trending posts which can provide more traffic to your website.

Journalism in the 21st Century

In light of the Guardian news iPhone application it seems appropriate for me now to discuss my ideas with how Journalism is changing in the 21st Century. Perhaps more appropriately how we will see journalism change as we reach the end of a decade.guardianiphone

As John Stuart wrote in the second chapter of his essay ‘On Liberty’ it is necessary for journalists to have the right of free speech as long as there is not a breach of the Human Rights Act of 2000. As of yet there is no formal constitution in the UK to stop the right for free speech and the only possible opposable would have been the Government Press Prosecutions of 1858. Although many prosecutions were not carried out and were not done in the name of limiting free speech but instead focused on the liability of published articles.

It is undeniable in my view though that although the law will act as reinforcement against articles which may breach certain ethical guidelines it will ultimately be the power of individuals who will control the reactions towards published articles. We saw a few weeks ago that the Daily Mail journalist, Jan Moir, was ridiculed by the communities of social networks for her homophobic article concerning the late Stephen Gately. It was not the Daily Mail which became under attack by users but instead the journalist herself.

This suggests that journalists in the 21st Century will be required to brand themselves as brands of their own specific type of journalism. The Guardian news iPhone application has highlighted this with the ability to favourite certain journalists and view their own content. In many ways this change could be likened to how authors have to act within the blogosphere. A blog is not only known for the subject it tackles but usually, especially in the case with smaller blogs, who the author is behind each post.

Rupert Murdoch has explained that the days of free news content on the internet are over as online subscriptions are planned. It has been speculated that part of this strategy to gain subscriptions will be done by promoting specific journalists related to a publication. This might be done by highlighting that Jeremy Clarkson writes for The Times.

Of course, let’s not forget the phenomenon of citizen journalism. Anybody who is armed with a modern mobile phone falls into the category of a citizen journalist but really this type of journalism should be viewed as a singular force. An energy that lurks like air around most corners of the world. Part of news collation for journalists in the 21st Century will be to be completely up-to-date with trending topics on the internet. Do not think that journalists are an advanced species of humanity who automatically know the news around the world. They are people like us who, like us, will learn about the latest news from social networking sites such as Twitter.

CJsAtWork

We should not shy away from the fact that citizen journalism and the freedom of thought and opinion within social networks is uncontrollable. As a PR student this has created a conflict within my mind but then PR is not about control but instead informing. This as far as PR can go with regards to social networks because it is the decisions of users who will follow or break any particular trend. There are various methods in which this can be done but you cannot/should not force people to promote your messages. The online community will openly discuss and reach conclusions by themselves.

The days of news being handed to users are now over. The business model has now been flipped around; users now search for their news. This is why Rupert Murdoch’s recent debacle with Google was done so incorrectly and misleadingly. I am still unsure the reasons why Rupert Murdoch kicked up the fuss but the knowledgeable sector on the web 2.0 can see straight past Murdoch’s misguided views.

rupert-murdoch

Google only refers users to the content they searched for and does not ‘steal it’ like Murdoch would like to have us believe. Removing sites from Google’s search engine is an oxymoronic plan if you are actually trying to get more subscribers to your website. Oddly the wider online community has kept relatively quiet about this decision by Murdoch but I believe there will eventually be a backlash.

Journalism in the 21st Century will continue changing but I do believe the trade of journalism will flourish once again. It is undeniable that news websites hold a certain integrity above those of many smaller blogs. The next step for journalism will be to move, as the Guardian has done, onto mobile devices. This might be done by paying a subscription to have a newspaper downloaded to your eReader each day. Print is not dead; it just needs to quickly develop that business model.

Twitter Follow Limit: A small cry for help

As some of you will know there are Twitter follow limits.twitter-hashclouds

The limits which Twitter has imposed are:

  • 1000 updated per day
  • 250 direct messages a day
  • 150 API requests a day
  • Follow limits

The purpose of this blog post is for some therapeutic reassurance. I suspected the event would happen for a little while; I have reached my follow limit. It’s particularly annoying for me because I do not use Twitter for any sort of corporate gain. There are so many interesting people on Twitter to follow and I simply enjoying connecting and learning.

I just need more people to follow me back. The Twitter follow limit is built upon a ratio system. Currently my following to followers stands at a 2001/1665 ratio. It is here that I am stuck and from doing some research into the matter it seems that the ratio figures, before you can follow anybody else back, are perilously close.

At first I thought about using some Twitter tools to get out of this sticky situation. There are many tools on the internet (a quick Google search will reveal all) that will automatically un-follow anybody who is not following you. The problem though relates back with the way Twitter controls its follow limits.

A large extend of the follow limit imposed is based on your account’s integrity. By indulging in a mass auto un-follow strategy will dramatically reduce the integrity of your account and cause limits to remain. According to Twitter every limit is the same but it seems that a 2000 following limit is fairly standard. Perhaps I should be thankful my limit is 2001?

I do understand that Twitter is not a race to get more followers. However, in my case, I just want to be able to return follows for those users who I find interesting. I have never followed in very large numbers before and this limit imposed upon my account now will stop me from making new connections with users on Twitter.

So this post is a little bit of a cry for help. I’m guessing I’ll need a near match of 2000 followers before I can step forward and making connections with new exciting users. For the moment though I will have to suffice from roaming Twitter lists.