Letting Go (Hiatus until July)

Learning how to let go is the key behind success, holiday time is just as important as work. Being able to let go in this communications age requires one to completely step back from the buzz and allow their mind to refresh and refocus. My holiday is about letting go of the internet, letting go of Word Processors and to enjoy being away from the London capital.

So this is a friendly au revoir as I shall be taking a brief hiatus until July. No more blog posts in June and only the occasionally tweet.

Whilst I’m gone please consider commenting on the below blog posts of mine as I am fascinated to know your point of view:

99.5% of Social Media Experts are not qualified to do their role: A call for accreditation

The Art of Conversation: One on One Networking

Would you work for a Tobacco Company? (An old post but has had recent comment activity)

M xx


99.5% of Social Media Experts are not qualified to do their role: A call for accreditation

Gary Vaynerchuk in an interview with TechCrunchTV announced that ‘99.5% of Social Media Experts are clowns’. A bold sentiment (albeit opinion) which I have decided to publically agree with. Social Media Consultants and Experts have faced a backlash, none more potent than Peter Shankman’s article for Business Insider ‘Why I Will Never, Ever Hire A “Social Media Expert”’

Yet a blog post like this could be said to be doing disservice to myself. The more acute of you will know that I have titled several past positions on my LinkedIn as “Social Media Consultant”. I believe part of the issue with calling oneself a Social Media Consultant is time orientated; a lot has changed in the last 2 years.

The Problem with being a Social Media Expert

  1. Being a social media expert is a self-proclaimed title. There are no industry accreditations, qualifications or guidelines. Therefore the title is meaningless and “Expert” cannot be justified.

  3. It is 2011 and social media has become a common way of life. This links in with Peter Shankman’s quote, ‘Being an expert in social media is like being an expert at taking the bread out of the refrigerator’. Social Media is now global and everyone I know is part of at least two online communities.

  5. Social Media is only one part of the marketing mix. It frustrates me to the core when unqualified Social Media Experts have the cheek to call their activities Public Relations when they have no knowledge or training experience in PR. Companies who listen to such people are in danger.

  7. Social Media ROI is rarely thought of (which links into point 3). It takes a real expert to understand Social Media as one part of a larger plan. Measuring this ROI is something I rarely see when it comes to Social Media. What exactly is the benefit to your client? How can you defend the value of your service? (Don’t even think about saying you got x amount of Facebook ‘likes’ or Twitter follows)

  9. Little notice is ever taken to the audience you are trying to communicate with. A classic example of the online service FourSquare which boasts 10 million users. However 60% of those are in the US and the details of regular active users is rumored to be tiny (not helped by Facebook places). It is a service which is worthless for a UK audience. How many people do you know who actively use the service?

  11. Experts rarely discuss the risks, only the benefits. This is probably my most risky point so far but I believe it to be true, social media can go badly wrong. Just look at what one tweet did to Redner Group today. In my opinion being a part of a social media is a necessity but remember to have a crisis plan.

The Value behind Social Media
I believe the secret behind social media is not setting up an incredible Facebook page, creating a Twitter profile which makes you look like a God or showing off your diverse life by checking into every establishment using FourSquare. Instead it is about content, the products or services you offer. The real gold behind Social Media is your company or charity.

The art of you sharing this gold online is not about reaching out to a Social Media Experts but instead organically learning through what others are doing online. Interacting personally with your audience. It is a sentiment which is uttered by Chris Brogan time and time again. Social media is a human business.

Finding the Right End of the Stick
Don’t get me wrong. There are those who are better at Social Media than others but I do believe this is only 0.5% of those experts out there. Such a small statistic puts all companies at risk who need some advice from an expert which calls for a definite need for an industry standard and accreditation.

None better to deliver that would be aligning social media to where it truly belongs, in the hands of the CIPR. I am for accreditation of the role and not an individual qualification, that is the subject for another blog post.

Social media needs to link back to the basics of marketing.


What are your thoughts?


Young Britain Works: Positive Outcome!

Back in April I mentioned the Young Britain Works project set up by Microsoft to assist 16 – 24 year olds find a job during the recession. This is a project which has involved current Microsoft UK interns who have assisted with a number of activities. The Britain Works Facebook page has grown considerably since the project began.


Young Britain Works Facebook Page

Activities have not just been confined to social media activity, a number of efforts have gone into real world events. One of these was a fortnight of different seminars and activities which were held at the Microsoft UK offices to arm young job seekers with advice, knowledge and skills to tackle the job market.

During these events I gave a talk on how to use Social Media to get a job and branding yourself online, aptly titled “What would I do if I started from nothing in 2011?”. Many interns were involved with this project, many taking far bigger roles than I and today the feedback from the event was shared.

Out of the 92 who attended 16 people managed to secure a full time employment and 19 have gone into work placements/volunteering/apprenticeships/training. In total 35 recorded positive outcomes. In my opinion it is a testament to the advice given by all the speakers during the fortnight and the management by other Microsoft Interns.

My favourite piece of feedback is:

“Just wanted to let you know I started work today – I have a 3 month contract in HR Administration with GSMA with a very strong chance the role may be extended beyond 3 months! I’m absolutely thrilled, I can finally get back in to the swing of things 🙂 Plus finding a permanent job should be easier now as I’ll have HR admin experience on my CV. I just wanted to thank you for all the effort you and the others put in to the week at Microsoft – since then I’ve had much more interest in my CV and far fewer concerns that I might not be well enough to manage work. But most importantly the week gave me my self-confidence back – I’ve been able to leave my previous bad experience at work behind and hold my head high which is great!”

This piece of news has brightened my day. My thanks especially goes to fellow Microsoft Intern, Adam Jackson, for putting the programme of events together. His 7am starts certainly paid off!


Top 10 Blog Posts on mikewhite.co.uk

It is roughly mid-year and it is time for a top 10 blog posts on mikewhite.co.uk… post. Based on data from Google Analytics I have compiled together the top 10 posts from this year so far. All the views are unique.

Why I Quit Facebook (and you should too) – 512 Views
Probably the most embarrising article I have written on this blog as my quit only lasted a few weeks. Still, this is a useful post which plays devils advocate towards Facebook.

Visiting The Clink Restaurant – 415 Views
Much of the popularity of this post was driven the BBC Documentary “The Prison Restaurant”.

I’m back on Facebook #FAIL – 412 Views
Inevitable that this would find its way into the top 10. Links in with the top post on this blog and is mostly a list of excuses to why I caved in.

I Feel Sorry for Paul Bowler – 248 Views
A rather controversial article at the time which showed my support for Paul Bowler. This post is related to my University and view count may have been raised due to this.

I got a Penalty Fare – 246 Views
In many ways this post should have been called “Why I Hate Southern Trains”. Read the comments below this article. Full of anger against Southern, it is brilliant.

My Advice to University of Gloucestershire Freshers 2011 – 235 Views
The title sums up this post well. It seems to have become popular rather quickly.

Machiavellian Public Relations – 220 Views
Wrote this post due to an anonymous email request I received. It seems to have done well in terms of views.

Facebook needs to take Responsibility: Simone Back’s Death – 163 Views
Another controversial article following the suicide of Simone Back. Pleased to say that Facebook have since changed their security to reduce incidents happening like this again. You will need to read the article for more information.

Effective Exam Revision Techniques [HOW TO] – 159 Views
Lots of people revising for their exams at the moment and so this post seemed ideal.

My Heroes – Christopher Hitchens [series] – 154 Views
One of my influences is Christopher Hitchens and I hope this article has done justice to him.


Building Online Communities is Tricky

Building online communities is a tricky business. In my opinion the key values for any social network is simplicity. This applies to function, design and purpose. Yet as @_ianr of Twitter pointed out “Surely the key is ‘all your friends are on it!’”. Whilst the technicalities of a social network could be perfect, it takes time to build up a user base.

During my GCSEs I was very active in a game making community which was centred around a project aptly called Game Maker. If you have ever wanted to make games then check this piece of software out. You can build games using a drag and drop interface, as you become more comfortable you can program using GMC (Game Maker Code) which closely resembles the Delphi language.

When constructing games for Windows I noticed that whilst I had creative ideas and could code to an extent, I was useless at creating graphics. This sparked an idea of mine to build an online system for Game Maker users to communicate with each other and create team projects. It was a good idea as the Game Maker forum system did not cater for this feature, even if it did my system would be better.

The project relied upon the PHP language and from the very beginning a friend, Robert Mumford, became involved. We called our project Team Builder (another apt name) and a user base began to grow.

It was incredible. People communicated using our system, our code was working in the background and the service was useful for people. We even received an email from Game Maker asking for this system to become part of their website. It was shocking. Over a period of time this project may have made money, it was heading that way. Although we were not interested, for us the community counted.

After a year the website was stopped. Both of us had lost interest in the project. GCSEs had taken up a large amount of our time and this website was a distraction. A few months later I saw a thread on the Game Maker forum labelled “Team Builder, what happened?”. Users were sad to see the website go. It is a project which had potential and I abandoned it. To this day I regret not continuing that website.

Now that I have found myself working within the technology industry I have come to appreciate the value of users. Many do not realise how valuable their personal information is. Microsoft, Apple and Google all want the largest share of users. Notice that registration is free for all these online services – the companies just want you.

Companies try and fail all the time. Apple and Google have had their fair share of flops. Nobody cares about Ping, Buzz or Wave (for the record I love Google Wave).

Everybody cares about Facebook and Twitter. Two projects which were started out of passion, not for profit. Perhaps this is the key ingredient for a social networking site? It must be born from passion and not for profit.

In particularly the online community which Facebook boasts, a reported 600 million users, has changed the way in which online communities are built across the internet. Instead of users signing up multiple times to a range of different websites, they only need to log in once.

OpenID is dated (2008 which makes the vision impossibly Victorian in digital terms) but universal logins are not just about user convenience, it is a remote userbase. It is a bit like putting all of your money into a central bank account for multiple people to use. Websites who allow people to login to their own website using a form of OpenID technology have given away their audience away.

Facebook Connect has sparked a wave of social networking which is more than just signing up to a website. It is a physical port of your privacy options and friend connections. Being part of the DataPortability Project provides a user convenience and smart business move for Facebook. Other websites and networks have connected with Facebook, it keeps Facebook alive.

End of muse…


My thoughts on Madeleine McCann

Deciding to read Madeleine wasn’t easy. In many ways I feel cheeky to have said I’ve ‘read’ the book because I never actually managed to complete it. At the halfway point I had to put it down because the emotions portrayed behind the words represented a sadness only a parent could feel for losing their child, an emotion which all wish to avoid. Just reading the notes on Madeleine’s Wikipedia page show the extent of the media attention and in turn the parent’s grief.

After having listened to the emotional speech by Clarence Mitchell at an event in 2009 the topic of Madeleine has been on my mind for two reasons. Firstly this is a case which has dominated the newspapers since 2007. Due to the intense media attention the disappearance of Madeleine has served as an interesting case for PR Students to observe. I know this may sound heartless but I do say it with your confidence in mind, believe me I care about this case and respect the pain which has been delivered due to it.

When it was announced that the MCcanns would be releasing a book which would cover the behind the scenes details and their lives which followed on from their daughter’s disappearance I was immediately apprehensive. A week before the book was released it was at the top of the Amazon pre-order list and then that is when the intentions became clear.

Madeleine is not your usual biography and from the outset was inevitably going to be pages full of sadness. Which in turn explains my apprehension, releasing this book was a risk for the parents and Clarence Mitchell would really need to focus on the media’s response, this book was always going to generate heat.

Cynicism has cloaked many people’s minds now. The search for Madeleine has gone on for so long and many presume she is dead. Although the MCcanns have not yet admitted publically, though this haunting thought must be there.

Unfortunately the false reports of the parent’s murdering their daughter first circulated by the Portuguese media a month after the incident have resided with many. If the Madeleine case had not grown so large then these false allegations based on no credible evidence would have never materialised in the first place.

Since the book’s release I have come across one item of controversy which has remained splintered in my mind. The fact that some members of the public believe that it is wrong for the search for Madeleine to have continued on so long. That the case isn’t fair whilst other children remaining missing.

Why shouldn’t the focus be on Madeleine?

Many children go missing but that is not a reason to stop for the search for Madeline. Even if the search for the McCann’s daughter results in a body, at least a conclusion has been met. I don’t mean this in a cold way (although aware writing can come across as so) but instead the parents will be looking for closure. For as long as their daughter is missing it will be impossible to stop looking. It is a feeling I would have as a parent and I would generate media attention if it was necessary.

The release of the book Madeleine will have jolted the minds of many around the world. Its release which has already persuaded the British government to restart the search and perhaps the missing link will be found which will solve the case. Madeleine McCann has probably become the most recognised child’s face around the world. As each day goes by the search for her comes closer to reaching a conclusion.


My verdict about this case?

1)      Approach any criticisms about the McCann’s with cynicism

2)      Support the Find Madeleine cause if you can afford it

3)      Read Madeleine let me know if you managed to finish it.

4)      Many other children go missing. We must not forget them.


Microsoft UK Launches Intern & Graduate Blog

As of the beginning of this month Microsoft launched their official UK intern and graduate blog Be Your Future. The project is being managed by a current intern called Lillian Hiscox and will be updated daily-ish with new content.

The main aim of the blog is to show prospective Microsoft interns and graduates what it is like working for Microsoft and the lifestyle which comes with it. Already from the posts featured on the blog it is clear of the variety of roles available and the excitement which comes with working for this technological giant.

I have agreed to contribute a blog post each Monday to Be Your Future (a couple of my posts already appear on the site). Plus I will be providing my blogging recommendations to the team as time goes on.

Getting involved with corporate blogging is new to me and I am eager to see how Be Your Future develops.

Please read, comment, subscribe and recommend. 🙂