Am I too soft, naive and romantic when it comes to Twitter?

Spam_marketing
The other day I went to meet someone to talk to them about
supporting them in organizing an event here in Singapore.  We’d spoken briefly about this on the phone
before and he seemed pleased at my offer to help. 

Practically his first question to me when we met was,
however, ‘how many friends do you have on Facebook and how many followers on
Twitter?’   Clearly a good part of my
perceived worth in helping organize this event was how large my networks were –
and not my real world network or ‘sphere of influence’, but my virtual friends
and followers numbers.  At least I was
able to give him an actual number which I don’t suppose I would have been able
to do had he asked me a more pertinent question about what my influencing power
was. (That's where the really interesting bit is I think)  He seemed slightly disappointed
when I told him and then revealed that he had about twice as many people following
him on Twitter and considerably more friends on Facebook.  It should also be noted I think that in both
worlds we are very small players when it comes to numbers of followers and
friends.

I should not have been that surprised at his question I
suppose.  This guy – who is a friend of mine – had recently been
involved with an event in Singapore that had been a big success – certainly
in terms of the number of visitors.  As a
friend of his on Facebook I had received a lot of emails on the run up to the event
giving me the latest information and news. 
There was an event ‘group’ too of course.   So I suppose if he wanted to adopt the same
social media ‘strategy’ in promoting this next event, then having an organizing
partner with lots of friends and followers would be a good starting point to a repeat
strategy.  But isn’t this a tiny bit like
looking for a mailing list?  I say ‘tiny
bit’ because clearly there are some big differences – I know or at least have
some sort of relationship with my virtual contacts whereas a mailing list may
be cobbled together in any which way. 

It still irks me a little that I should be valued by
this criterion (at least in some part). 
Needless to say the strategy would have involved me being asked to email
(within Facebook) all my friends but this is a bit like spamming isn’t it? And
it begs the bigger question of course – is social media just a numbers game?

I really really hope it isn’t.  I’m aware that I might be kind of a bit naïve
and maybe, in some ways, romantic when it comes to what goes on with Twitter.  My friend, whom I was having the meeting with,
sees social media simply (I think) as a marketing gig.   Indeed – almost all (if not all) of his
tweets are links to web pages often promoting an event or promoting social media
as a marketing tool in itself.  Hey ,
there’s nothing wrong with this and I think he knows that I think that, but I
have, shall we say, a ‘softer’ approach and I love Twitter because I get to,
for example,  follow Stephen Fry, someone
who  sees and uses Twitter from a
position a million miles away from my friend. 
I can’t help be reminded of the ‘marketing at’ position and strategy adopted by some
companies in Second Life bombed.  Isn’t seeing
a bunch of tweets from someone you follow that just point to websites that
advertise an event or advertise the marketing medium itself a bit too much like
getting direct text (SMS) messages?

I don’t know where Twitter will go when it gets monetized in
the future but if it simply becomes a place full of social media marketers then
I’ll probably bail – for me, whilst I am happy to see all sorts of people doing
and experimenting with all sorts of things, the magic remains seeing what
people like Stephen Fry are up to, having a laugh with Will Carling and being
part of topics and conversations with some really cool and imaginative people.

How many people am I (or should I be) online?

I was reading this morning on Twitter that LinkedIn will allow status comments soon (or it already is). And over the weekend I was looking at ping.fm which allows the status updating of multiple media at once.  (there are several other services that will do this too)  So, for example, configuring your ping account means you can update facebook, twitter and tumblr (and many others) in one hit…

Social_media  Now, for some time now I have wondered about the wisdom of having stuff about me available online.  This is nothing new of course and people have, for some time now, wondered how sensible it might be for your potential new employer to see that tagged photo of you on facebook pissed out of your head.  Additionally, the facebook status of 'Carl is pissed off with his job' might not do many favors with one's current employer either….

So, I suppose over the last couple of years I've got to thinking (mistakingly I might add) that certain people may not see my facebook page, for example, and that I should try and be quite sensible and professional with this blog -  Facebook for 'fun' Carl and blog for more serious Carl.  Of course, now, those people at work who wouldn't have had a facebook account just a year or so ago now have one as its becaome more and more mainstream.  Tonight I have a Teleconference and any idle twittering about how bored I might get (although I'm sure it won't be) will be immediately updated on my facebook page and of course some of the call participants are my friends on facebook….. and so on….

So very quickly I've moved from nothing online to using different platforms that evolved from fundamentally different directions to using tools that are now encouraging me to merge these multiple personalities into one.  These tools for maintaining that 'one onlne person' across all the media are great in what they do and, at the same time, are encouraging me to think that I just have to jump in and simply be one 'online person' and stop worrying about it. 

It's probably the case that more experienced bloggers who use facbook and twitter have come to a conclusion on this some time ago on this.

I'd like comments though.

Money From Blogging

This article is a response to a piece on the Web In Travel website where Siew Hoon talks to a guy who wants to make money from his blog.

Blog_adsense_money

Wow! What a question – “how can I make money from my
blog?" 

I'm surprised at this question – I think people who ask this
question are asking the wrong question. 
But I suppose I should clarify exactly what I mean.

Bluntly put, I think people who write blogs to make money
are going against what, for me, is the underlying ‘giving’ notion of what
blogging is.  A quick look on
dictionary.com yields the definition: ‘an online diary; a personal
chronological log of thoughts published on a Web page;’

People who used to (and still do I suppose) write diaries
and log their thoughts on paper never, for one minute, expected to make any
money from it.  It was a very personal and
private endeavor in almost all cases. 
However,   the internet has, of course, provided those
people with the possibility to link with thousands of readers and, in turn,
encouraged those who may never have dreamed about keeping a diary or a log, to
begin to write driven by the idea that it might not simply be a solitary
activity given the possibility that thousands may end up reading their thoughts
and musings. (There are countless examples of fame and notoriety of course from
the most unlikely of sources through blogs and other forms of User Generated
Content
).

So, basically put, I don’t think people should make money
from blogging.  Blogging should be an altruistic
and non- commercial activity.  I’m
encouraged to see how many companies now are using their own blogs to keep
their customers abreast of product development, new releases and other company activities.  I like this idea of a blog – it’s a platform
for engaging with customers in a fairly personal and accessible way – kind of,
this is what we’re up to, thought you might like to know and, by the way, there’s
a place where you can let us know what you think.

But, let me be clear, I think attaching some advertising to
one’s blog is fine – a few banners here and there of course and some Google paid
stuff.  Covering one’s costs or even
making a small amount of revenue in a pretty stealth kind of way is fine.  This indeed may have been the approach of
Siew Hoon’s friend in the article – I do hope so. 

Anyone who blogs to make money doesn’t deserve to make
money.  If you want to make money, then
come up with a commercially viable on-line application or service and sell it
but don’t jump on the wholesome notion of blogging and look to make a quick
buck.

My Relationship with Ricky Gervais

Ricky-gervais

I have been a fan of Ricky's for a long time now.  I can even remember him on 'The Eleven o'clock show' on Channel 4 a long time ago – probably before most people had heard of him or started admiring him.

Then of course came 'The Office' and all the other great stuff that's come from this comic genius. 

I have been living in Singapore for over five years now and it wouldn't be unfair to say that, from my perspective, it's a cultural void to a large extent when it come to edgy, satirical or intelligent comedy.  There still seems to be a penchant for visual gags here where someone entering a room with a pair of stupid glasses on and a wig is still considered funny.  I say 'still' because I remember a time when that 'Benny Hill' approach to humor was popular in England when I was growing up.

I mention this because this void had led me to almost reach a point of craving humor of Ricky's type and then his podcasts and audiobooks came along.  They first started appearing a few years ago and  suddenly my walks home from work were delightfully enhanced and I found myself almost skipping to the train with a permanent grin on my face.  It would not be unusual for me to burst out laughing on the train either and, believe me, that's not something that's encouraged here!

It was, I suppose, at this time that I began to form a kind of relationship with Ricky.  It was no more than him making me laugh I suppose but it was the fact that it was a solitary experience for me (iPod and headphones you see) – not sharing my laughter with anyone:  Just Ricky, Steve (Merchant) and Karl (Pilkington) and me.

Recently I have taken to reading Ricky's Blog. I suppose it has a lot to do with Ricky's writing style and his incredibly open approach to blogging that that has further cemented my relationship with him.  I've read so many blogs – professional blogs, blogs of friends, mySpace stuff etc but never have I felt so openly invited into the life, feelings, musings and, above all, wonderful comic energy and ebullience as I feel when I read his blog.  It feels like the connectivity that the internet offers coupled with the whole notion of blogging all wrapped up with the genius and complete lack of pretence of this man has somehow opened up a new communication channel for me that feels really fresh,vibrant and, at the same time,incredibly intimate and almost naiive and child-like in its appeal.

Back to It!

So, a new friend of mine just sent me a link to her Blog.  Incidentally it is all about food which I think is a pretty cool thing to blog about.  I felt a real sense of passion from the brief look I had and that, coupled with the lovely design, inspired me to get blogging properly.  So here goes.  Thanks to the food addict.

Oh, by the way, you can see my inspiration here.

A New Blogger

I recently heard from one of my best friends in the UK and caught up with his news. He has been busy! and one of the new things he had to tell me about was his Weblog. I had a look and it has inspired me to create one of my own (at least for the trial period!) and see what this new communication channel has to offer. One of the things I am struggling with is what direction it should take…. whilst I would like to use it as a tool to explore and relay my new company’s direction and success I am tempted too to use it as a way of sharing more personal thoughts. What do you think?

By the way, my friend’s blog is at http://chrislawer.blogs.com