Listicles, muesli bars & mansplaining

What do best books listicles, the discovery of a 25-year-old muesli bar and a Swedish hotline for mansplaining have in common? They are the topics I discussed on Radio National Drive’s ‘My Feed’ segment.

I also talked about librarians on social media, book discussions on Twitter and how I use Goodreads to inform my reading.

You can listen to the podcast of the show here.

If you would like to explore some 2016 best books listicles, here are some good ones to start with:

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My wrap on the Emerging Writers’ Festival Digital Masterclass

The Emerging Writers’ Festival Digital Masterclass was held on Friday 24th May at the City Library.

The full day workshop featured an inspiring range of speakers. The broad theme was creating digital content to support your writing and to build your profile, with a focus on blogs and social media.

The diversity of content and speakers made for an information-packed day. There was plenty to learn and take away, depending on your background and interests. The content ranged from the very practical (how to produce a video, podcast and ebook), to the more strategic (planning and goal setting).

I was impressed by the presenters’ expertise and their passion for their craft. What they all had in common was that they had a good idea, and had a go at executing it, even if they didn’t have the technical skills at first. They tried, they failed, they learned and they got better at it. They sought out advice and collaborated with others. They tapped into their community, or built a new one to support their work. They knew what they wanted to achieve, even if the path wasn’t clear. They found their niche. And the warm and fuzzy part is that they are now sharing what they learnt with others.

I love this video that Mark Welker showed us on the creative process. For me, it really summed up the overarching message I took away from the day. Don’t be scared to try new stuff. At first you won’t be so good at it, but if you keep trying and learning, you will get better at it, maybe even become great at it.

 

Here are a few of my personal highlights from each of the presenters.

Rose Powell (@rosepowell) took us through practical exercises on strategic planning, risk identification, asset mapping and goal setting for establishing a successful website/blog. The take away message from Rose’s presentation was to be strategic about what you want to achieve, make the most of your networks, have clear goals, and find your niche.

Jo Case (@jocaseau) took us through a case study of The Wheeler Centre Dailies site, with a focus on how they both generate and commission content. She included a practical exercise on pitch writing. The content model Jo presented included a wide range of different formats and sources including feature articles, curation of content from other sources, reviews, news, entertainment, events and book extracts. Her model was really useful in thinking about how to keep a website’s content dynamic, interesting, and fresh with limited resources.

Thang Ngo (@ThangNgo) is Australia’s #1 video food blogger. He talked about finding your niche, producing unique content, creating an online community, supporting others, and building your profile. Like Rose, he emphasised the importance of having clear goals.

Johannes Jakob (@jojojakob) gave us the low-down on creating podcasts, based on his experience creating the JOMAD podcast.

Mark Welker (@mwelker) from Commoner Films spoke about moving from one medium (writing) to another (video) and the parallels for story telling in both mediums. He stepped us through the video-making process and shared his tips including: capturing natural light, using a controlled camera, getting up close to your subject, and focussing on texture and detail.

Ash Davies (@PhotoGuides) from Tablo Publishing gave us a crash course on creating, marketing and distributing ebooks. He showed us a demo of his new product Bookmaker. If only every 20 year old had Ash’s creativity, initiative and drive. We would have solved the world’s problems by now.

And so, that wraps up my summary of the digital masterclass. Did you go to the workshop? What did you learn?

ANZ 23 mobile things

ANZ 23 mobile things logo

ANZ 23 mobile things logo

Social media is a powerful platform for connecting. It creates opportunities to reach outside of organisational hierarchies. It busts open geographic boundaries. Social media allows us to eavesdrop on conferences and conversations. We can share experiences with people outside our immediate network. We can listen, participate and learn. A great example of connecting and learning through social media is 23 Mobile Things, a self-directed online course focussed on learning about ‘mobile technologies that are changing the way people, society and libraries access information and communicate with each other’.

ALIA NGAC (Australian Library and Information Association New Generation Advisory Committee) and New Professionals Network NZ have teamed up to create ANZ 23 mobile things a cohort of around 500 librarians in Australia and New Zealand doing the course together. As well as participants, people have signed up as mentors and volunteers to help create and deliver the course. The course is supported by a Twitter account @anz23mthings and Facebook page ANZ 23 Mobile Things as well as a blog. The course has just started and runs from May-November 2013.

The real beauty of the concept is that it is teaching about social media by using social media. It is an immersive learning experience. The course is creating connections between participants and generating a real buzz on Twitter with the hashtag #anz23mthings. I’ve reflected before on the power of connecting via social media. This is another wonderful illustration.

You have to hand it to librarians. They know how to network.

Getting the boss on board with social and digital

Dionne Kasian-Lew

Dionne Kasian-Lew

It can be difficult to convince risk-averse business leaders of the value of social and digital. Meanwhile their organisations miss out on the rewards offered by the digital economy and fail to connect with social savvy consumers.

I spoke to Dionne Kasian-Lew about how marketing and communications professionals can lead the social and digital agenda in their organisations and get the boss on board.

Dionne Kasian-Lew is the CEO of The Social Executive™. She is also the author of The Social Executive: the multi-trillion social economy and an advisor to boards and executives on leadership, innovation and corporate and communications strategy.

Justine Hyde: Business leaders often worry about the risks of engaging in digital and social. What are the risks of not engaging?

Dionne Kasian-Lew: The digital economy is growing while many other areas are in decline. The IDC says global ecommerce is worth 16 trillion and Boston Global Consulting predicts for G20 nations social will be worth $4.2 trillion by 2016. Companies that are online and engaging are outperforming others. Businesses need to think about the fact that eight new people come online every second and most are using social or mobile to connect.

Some executives think social media is a fad but look at two examples. LinkedIn was established in 2003 and now has 200 million users, most of whom are professionals. Facebook is about to turn nine and has a billion users. This is not a fad.

JH: How does a business leader become digitally literate?

DKL: Literacy is having enough knowledge about an issue to make good decisions about it. Boards and c-suites need to know the difference between ICT, digital and social media and how they contribute to the success of a business.

Given the opportunities and risks presented by digital and social media, boards should be asking their CEO: what’s our online marketing/engagement strategy? It’s time for social and digital bootcamp for boards and c-suites.

JH: How can communications professionals influence their CEOs to see the social and digital ‘light’?

DKL: Executives are lagging when it comes to adopting social media. The most common question I am asked is: how do I influence the boss?

My response is to ask communications professionals what social media channels they are using and what they are doing to position social media in their organisation. I ask them what their competitors in this space are doing and who they look to as benchmarks for practice in their industry. I ask how they are leading the change in their organisation. Finally, I question them about what game-changing technologies could blow their company out of the water.

It stuns me that few people can answer these questions, since with their analytical and creative strengths communicators are in the best position to lead this change.

Communicators need to know the business case for social media, be digitally literate and understand the impact of digital on productivity.

This means using the various platforms, learning how people connect and share and figuring out which of those platforms is best for you and your business. We must be sure to have our own house in order before we can attempt to influence the boss.

JH: How do organisations become strategic with digital and ‘social era’ ready?

DKL: A good start is to understand the digital and social lay of the land and to know what is happening in their industry specifically. Organisations need to know who their customers are, what they want, and how they want it.

Next, they need to develop a strategy that accounts for future capabilities required in the business. Once they understand these capabilities they can begin to build these capabilities by training existing staff and recruiting new talent.

JH: What are the digital and social trends to watch for 2013/14?

DKL: We will see increased convergence and integration of digital and social into our lives, bodies and beings. Google Glass has arrived, digital clothing sensitive to body heat already exists, as do technologies that allow us to self-diagnose medical conditions. We have digital pacemakers and 3D printed kidneys.

In social we are moving from using individual platforms to working across channels (like email) through Google+.

This article originally appeared on the SMK blog.

Personal branding insights from Power Stories author Valerie Khoo

valerie_khoo

Social media has opened up the potential for managing your professional profile or ‘personal brand’ with a much broader network.

Increasingly, professionals are looking to platforms such as LinkedIn and Twitter to initiate digital handshakes, to make new connections and to find a wider audience for their ideas.

Valerie Khoo is National Director of the Australian Writers’ Centre, co-founder of SocialCallout.com and author of Power Stories: The 8 Stories You MUST Tell to Build an Epic Business. Her personal blog at ValerieKhoo.com was just named by SmartCompany as one of the 20 best business blogs in Australia.

I spoke to Valerie about how she has successfully built her personal brand and asked her advice on how to harness the power of social media to do this.

JH: What is personal branding and why is it important to today’s professionals?

VK: Your personal brand is what people say about you when you’re not in the room. It’s what you’re known for. Your personal brand helps you stand out from the crowd. Your personal brand will help create opportunities and open doors for you. If people have already heard about you, and if you’ve developed that all important “know, like and trust” factor through your online presence, it’s easier to get meetings with busy people, secure speaking engagements, acquire new customers or even score yourself a book deal. If you’re not paying attention to creating and building your personal brand, you’re just making it harder for yourself to get ahead. Thanks to social media, it’s easier than ever before to build your personal brand – if you are strategic about it and use social media as a tool to connect with others and to showcase your expertise.

JH: You’ve been very successful building the brand of the Australian Writers’ Centre and your own personal brand. How did you do this?

VK: At the core of building both these brands is authenticity and passion. With the Australian Writers’ Centre, we are passionate about sharing resources that will help people in our writing community. We tweet links to useful articles, competitions, courses and any information that will help aspiring writers. We also answer queries through social media – and we help people wherever we can, whether they are one of our customers or not. My personal brand is a bit different. I often share links to useful resources or have conversations on social media about topics I’m interested in such as writing, entrepreneurship, and blogging. But my social media stream isn’t all business. I also share a small part of my personal interests as well. Anyone who follows me on social media will know I love my pets!

JH: How does social media complement more traditional ways of building your profile such as networking and speaking engagements?

VK: All these methods are important. Real life networking is invaluable. Similarly, speaking engagements are a wonderful way to connect with a room full of people. You can’t catch up for coffee with everyone so social media enables you to maintain connections. I’ve made some wonderful friends on social media who have turned into real life besties.

JH: What is the most challenging part of building your personal brand via social media?

VK: You should be protective of your personal brand and the image you’re presenting to people via social media. Think before you Tweet. If you complain about your staff or share drunken photos from the weekend, you’re leaving a clear impression about who you are and what you value. Use your common sense.

JH: What is the most rewarding experience you’ve had?

VK: When I released my book “Power Stories: The 8 Stories You MUST Tell to Build an Epic Business”, I was amazed when my Twitter stream suddenly filled with photographs of people with my book and comments about how much they were enjoying it. They were all using the hashtag #powerstories. Not only was I grateful for everyone’s kind words, it was so wonderful to see people sharing their experience of the book with their own followers. Other people were reinforcing my own personal brand. I felt blessed by this.

This post originally appeared on the SMK blog

The power of connecting via 140 characters

Image Who hasn’t used Twitter to kill time on public transport, procrastinate when there’s something more important to do, or exchange witty lines with friends. Twitter entertains, it informs and it connects. Today I was jolted, not by the latest #auspol outrage or Kochie gaffe, but by the real power of Twitter. By humanity.

I’ve been following the @HomelessInMelb account for a couple of weeks. It’s a curation rotation account, which means tweets are rotated between different guest tweeters. The most recent guest tweeter, @_JoeBrown_ has tweeted his experiences of homelessness. Sleeping in cars, trying to find accomodation, dealing with the red-tape of government agencies, and enduring the cycle of joblessness and poverty that no Australian deserves. Joe is an ex Victorian firefighter who was injured and subsequently lost his job.

He and his male partner, @BS_evens have had particular difficulty accessing temporary accommodation services because of being a gay couple. They appear to fall between the gaps of ‘need’ because they do not have drug and alcohol problems.

Today, Joe & Ben got a house in Reservoir. They tweeted the experience of trying to secure the house. They were short of money for the bond, for food, for removalists and for household items. Twitter responded. The short-fall in rent was raised, and @Mrs_KT is coordinating donations and assistance to help make their house a home.

That’s the power of Twitter. Humanity. Connection. A happy ending to a hard story.

Talking content marketing with The PR Warrior

One of the most talked about marketing and communications strategies at the moment is content marketing: the creation and sharing of content to attract and retain customers, generate leads and increase revenue.

I wanted to find out more about content marketing, so I went to the source and had a chat to Trevor Young. Trevor is a leading thinker, consultant and speaker in the fields of public relations, marketing and communications.

Trevor Young aka The PR Warrior

Trevor’s blog PR Warrior has been named one of Australia’s Top 25 Business blogs by Smart Company, where he writes about leadership in communications, with an emphasis towards social media and content marketing.

JH: What do you see as the main benefits of content marketing?

TY: Content marketing, when done well, can increase awareness of your brand, reinforce a thought leadership position, help generate warm leads and build relationships with customers. The key thing is identifying what are you trying to achieve, and then skewing your efforts towards that goal.

The big benefit is that content marketing can be highly effective in attracting people to your brand by providing valuable and compelling content. This is contrary to traditional marketing wisdom where you push the message out. Content marketing is as much a mindset as anything – a willingness to connect with people and share ideas and information.

JH: How does content marketing complement other marketing tactics?

TY: It dovetails perfectly into traditional public relations. Social media and content marketing are core components of modern-day PR. Obviously, content is crucial to social media marketing. When it comes to creating content today, PR people can now widen their vision and produce it across multiple platforms, on the cheap and on the fly. And marketers, especially those in the B2B space whose role it is to generate new business leads, should be all over content marketing.

JH: If an organisation is thinking of going down the content marketing path what do they need to consider?

TY: You need to consider whether you have the right attitude and mindset. Are you comfortable with sharing stories, ideas and intellectual property? Are you happy for your employees to be publicly involved?

If you answer yes to these questions, you need to work out who will be the driving force internally. If it’s a large organisation, there might people involved from different parts of the business. Think about forming a small working group. If it’s a smaller company, chances are it will be the owner or CEO driving things, which is fine if they have the time to devote to the process.

You’re going to need to know your ‘spheres of conversation’. What direction is your content going to take? What tone is going to be used?

There’s nothing wrong with starting small and building momentum. You don’t need to do everything immediately. Build your content base over time and use social media channels and events to participate in your community and engage customers, friends and influencers.

JH: There’s a smorgasbord of choices for types and formats of content that can be used in content marketing. How do brands choose the right mix?

TY: A lot comes down to budget and resources. Ask yourself the important question: How does our audience (clients/influencers/potential customers) consume media or like to receive information? It’s wise to have a range of options. You can repurpose content across multiple mediums. For example, blog posts can have accompanying video, and regular video interviews can be turned into podcasts and syndicated via iTunes.

I’m a huge believer in solid cornerstone content such as downloadable PDF e-books. If you’ve got a lot of complex information to convey infographics are a great communication vehicle. More and more I’m loving video as a powerful way to communicate. Opt-in e-newsletters are also incredibly effective for many types of businesses, even if they’re not as sexy as other mediums.

You should produce content for your core channels and then occasionally mix it up a bit. It’s smart to be flexible too. Measure what’s working and if something is not all that effective, be prepared to ditch it. Having an online hub where you house all your content is critical, for example, a well-maintained blog or online multimedia news room.

JH: What’s the secret sauce to compelling and shareable content?

TY: If content goes ‘viral’ that’s the cream on top of your content marketing strategy. There are types of content that seem to get shared more often. Really well put-together infographics tend to get shared a lot and list-type blog posts (i.e. 5 top tips for xyz) also do well. Meaty research reports and e-books written around a powerful theme are effective. High quality content will generally resonate with the intended audience if it’s been produced with the right intent, regardless of format.

Occasionally something will come along that really surprises you. Recently I produced a simple Flipcam video of a CEO of a medium-sized company adding a bit of colour and commentary to some research presented in a media release. News Ltd. picked up the video from the website and ran it across all their online mastheads giving us mass coverage. It was a great but certainly nothing we’d planned for.

If your brand is strong and you have a solid community of advocates, enthusiasts and supporters of what it is you do, then if you create killer content, it’s more likely to be shared around, liked and retweeted because you have a fan base to do that.

JH: How does content marketing sit alongside SEO?

TY: Very closely. Lee Odden from TopRankBlog talks a lot about the ‘holy trinity’ of search, social and content. The key is to bring the three elements together for optimum effect. In an interview I read with Lee he pointed out that SEO focuses on rankings and traffic, content people think about distribution of press releases and blog posts, while the social media guys care about engagement. That presents an inherent challenge for uniting the three but the goal is to start bringing them together.

My focus is on producing the best content I can that I hope will resonate with the audience. Knowing what keywords and phrases need to be employed is fine. I’ll incorporate them but only if their inclusion adds value to the finished product. In other words, avoid over-using keywords and blanding out your content for the sake of SEO.

JH: What does the next 12 months look like for content marketing?

TY: If you talked about content marketing to people 12-18 months ago you would have probably got a blank stare. There are less blank stares today and there will be even less by the end of 2013 as content marketing gains traction in Australia. It is more or less mainstream in a business and marketing sense in the US. It’s not at that level in Australia yet, but the signs are there.

Content curation will become really important – careful and strategic curation of content and adding insights.

Video is going to get even bigger. A strong emerging theme is the humanisation of brands, that is, getting people out from closed doors and interacting with customers, and putting internal experts at the front and centre of a company’s content efforts. Video humanises a business.

Smart marketers will up the ante by producing high quality content that can be repurposed, remixed, or as Ann Handley from Marketing Profs  says: “re-imagined”. They will have content as a cornerstone of their marketing and PR efforts. Whether that means employing journalists or using an external agency, I don’t know, but it’s bound to happen.

You can follow Trevor on Twitter @trevoryoung

This post was originally featured on the SMK blog

Activating social content: streams, protocols and dark social

Content becomes social when your audience shares it with their connections via email, chat rooms, or social networks such as Twitter. An effective social content strategy optimises this sharing so that your content reaches as many people as possible. By reaching a wide audience you increase the potential to attract and retain clients, generate leads, improve engagement and build an online community.

A few current and predicted trends are worth understanding to help you shape your social content strategy. Firstly, there is a shift in your audience preference towards accessing content in app-based streams. There is a prediction of the emergence of social media as a protocol, rather than a platform, and there is the puzzle of uncovering ‘dark social’.

To measure the success of social content, you need to understand how an audience is referred to your content. This can be tricky with ‘direct’ traffic, i.e. when someone clicks on a deep link to your content via email, in chat rooms, or through some apps and secure sites shared with them by one of their friends or colleagues. This is because you can’t trace the path they took to get there. Alexis Madrigal has coined the phrase ‘dark social’ to describe this traffic. He quotes an analysis of media sites which showed amongst those sites that almost 69 per cent of referrals are dark social, with Facebook coming in at 20 per cent and Twitter at per cent.  If these results are indicative of a wider trend, then sharing of your content happens primarily outside of the major social networks. This empahises the importance of not relying solely on these networks for activating the sharing of your content. Your social content strategy should also focus on direct referrals such as email marketing, and reaching out to bloggers and influencers.

In order to optimise the social spread of content via social networks, you currently have no choice but to cross-post it to multiple destinations such as Google+, Facebook, and Tumblr. This is the only way to reach your audience, which is dispersed across the ever-expanding selection of social networks. Thomas Baekdal calls this a state of social media fatigue.

Third-party tools such as Hootsuite and Sprout Social simplify things a little by allowing you to maintain multiple profiles and publish content across a variety of social networks via an integrated dashboard, but this is a stopgap measure.

Baekdal proposes that there will be a shift towards social media as a protocol. This would enable content to be published on whichever social network suits you. Your audience would view it via their social network of choice. This would work much the same way as email protocol. For example, if you are on Outlook, you can seamlessly send and receive emails with someone on Gmail.

This seems hard to imagine at the moment, with platforms such as Twitter starting to restrict third-party access to cross-posting content. However, if Baekdal’s post-Facebook-world prediction rings true it will make it much easier to plan and execute a social content strategy. It will reduce social media fatigue.

Where does content published to your own website fit into this equation?

Increasingly, more of your audience is accessing content via mobile apps such as Instagram, Facebook and Gmail. Australia has one of the largest rates of smartphone use in the world, with more than 60% penetration predicted by the end of 2012. Tablet use is also rising.

Apps display content in a stream that allows your audience to scroll, skim and click links in a single stream of ‘pull’ content. As they become familiar with accessing content in this way, it will become their expectation. They will move away from visiting your website. They will want the content to come to them.

How do you prepare for this change in audience preference? As Anil Dash states, you will need to move away from publishing content to web pages, and start publishing streams. He suggests ‘moving your content management system towards a future where it outputs content to simple APIs, which are consumed by stream-based apps that are either HTML5 in the browser and/or native clients on mobile devices’.

I have been exploring social content trends from the perspective of changes to social networks and platforms. It is equally important to emphasise the role of the content itself in shaping your social content strategy. As Madrigal states ‘the only real way to optimize for social spread is in the nature of the content itself’ while Baekdal imagines a future when ‘the interaction and communication would be linked to the content itself, rather than the platform’. Social networks and platforms will come and go. If you can find that special sauce that is compelling and engaging content your audience will share it and you will have activated social content.

MOOCs. What are they? Should I do one? How will they shake up education?

I’m half-way through my first MOOC course and figured it was a good time to reflect on the experience. My reflection also sparked my thinking on how the format and principles of MOOCs might be applied to other educational providers such as not-for-profits.

My main motivation for trying out a MOOC was to learn more about how MOOCs work and what the experience is like as a student. MOOCs (massive open online courses) are free courses offered over the internet from universities such as Princeton, Stanford, MIT and others. The courses offered tend to focus on science, maths and technology, but there are some humanities and business courses available too. There are several providers of MOOCs, including Coursera, Udacity and edX.

I was looking for a course that was a short-term commitment and didn’t have a heavy workload, but something more in-depth for my learning than a 2 day training workshop. I was also looking for a subject area that was emerging, relevant to my work, and one that wasn’t offered locally via university or TAFE short courses. I also liked the idea of doing something online so I could participate at any time of day that suited me and not be tied to a strict class schedule.

I decided on Gamification through the Wharton School at the University of Pennsylvania via Coursera. The lecturer is Kevin Werbach (@kwerb). The course hashtag is #gamification12.

The course format consists of weekly lectures. To enhance the learning experience, students can join online discussion forums, contribute to a course wiki, and follow-up suggested further readings and resources (if they have time…). You can stay informed about course developments via the course homepage, Twitter and email. There’s also a Facebook page. By supporting multiple communications platforms and integrating social media into the course, you feel connected to the course and there’s an opportunity to join up with classmates locally if you want to. Traditional university course designers could learn a lot from this socially-integrated approach to education.

I’ve been surprised to find the lectures really engaging. @kwerb makes me feel like he’s right here in my study giving me all his insights into gamification. I can watch the lectures whenever I like. If I miss something he says or get interrupted, I can pause and rewind, or watch the lecture again later. @kwerb uses a combination of slides, handwriting, video of himself lecturing, and screen shots to explain materials. This mixes up the format and keeps it interesting and engaging.

In terms of meeting my criteria it comes pretty close to perfect.

It’s a 6-week course, which is a manageable duration for me.

Gamification, as a business school topic, is an exciting and emerging area and it’s relevant to my work. As far as I’m aware it’s not offered through any business schools locally.

The downside has been that he workload is heavier than I’d expected. There are weekly lectures. Each week there are two topics to cover with approximately 5 lectures for each topic – so that’s 10 lectures a week, albeit short ones, averaging around 10 minutes each. There are weekly multiple-choice homework quizzes, a total of three written assignments and an end of term exam. Assignments are peer-assessed. If you complete all the assigned work to minimum overall score of 70% you get a certificate of completion. Otherwise, you can just follow the topic along and take from it whatever suits your purposes. Being a girly swat, I want the certificate.

The positive side of the volume of work means I am learning more than I thought I would. So, on balance, I’m happy to put in the extra effort to get more out of the course. I’d say I’m learning more than a 2-day training workshop, but less than a traditional 13-week university short course because the assessments are less rigorous.

Will I try another MOOC? Yes, definitely. And I’d recommend it to others who are looking to learn more about a topic and for whatever reason don’t want to commit to the cost and attendance of a traditional university course, or aren’t able to find their preferred subject offered locally.

Doing the course has also sparked my thinking about what education providers might learn from the MOOC format. I’m thinking specifically outside the university sector about not-for-profits, government agencies, and professional associations. These organisations are in the business of delivering education to their members, communities and/or stakeholders. What could they learn from MOOCs? While MOOCs are not a panacea, and online education isn’t right for every context, I think there is great potential.

For example, NFPs and others could take a cross-sector approach and collaborate on delivering education in order to reduce costs, reach a broader audience, and draw on experts from beyond their geographic boundaries. They could also look at the MOOCs example for opportunities to integrate social media into course delivery and build communities to enhance the student experience.

What do you think?