Social Networking Blog

Guy Clapperton on the evolving new media

Building online communities profitably

A community of interest gathers at Stonehenge,...
Image via Wikipedia

A great blog post from the moblogsproblems blog points to areas that might explain why people don’t follow someone online, or why they don’t take part in communities. Since one of the issues is with not acknowledging helpful people I’ll start by thanking Shonali Burke for pointing it out, I don’t have a note of her website but she has an excellent blog and you can follow her on Twitter here.

The monetisation thing is something that interests me (funnily enough). I’ve only been plugging away at this particular site for just over a month (and took a week off last week) but it’s starting to get significant amounts of readers, particularly when I pick a fight with someone (again, funnily enough). The option to try to make it profitable somehow is probably premature but as I’ve just discovered WordPress deletes html code on my page by default (thanks, guys) don’t worry, you won’t be plagued with ads for a while just yet.

There are a lot of people, though, who want to engage with and build communities for the sake of it – clubs, fan circles whether of sports, favourite TV programmes, you know the sort of thing. I think a point that the original blogger has missed is picking an audience that’s ready to be engaged is vitally important. I get a fair bit of feedback on this site, but then it’s about social networking. I chose the subject to go with my book (must do a bit of work on that when I’m through blogging) but also because the people who were into social networking would also be into responding online. If I’d picked another subject close to my heart – say being a fortysomething father, which believe me is the most important thing in my life – then a lot of my target market would have needed the concept of blogging and responding explained to them before moving ahead with it.

So, address the audience but make sure the audience is ready first, would be my first advice to anyone wanting to set up a community. Second, be prepared to market to them – since the invention of the Internet there’s been an illusion that the audience will just turn up, somehow.

No doubt more will occur to me, spurred by other blog posts and articles – I’d be interested to hear anyone else’s perspectives.

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April 16, 2009 Posted by | Social media financing, social media trends | , , , , , , , | Leave a comment

Music and Twitter


This is an odd one. The Streets, a band in the UK for anyone who doesn’t know, are going to start uploading music and making it available to fans free through their Twitter feed.

10/10 for innovative use of social media, and the same for pleasing the fans. I’ll be interested to see how they can continue to earn a living whilst giving their songs away for nothing, though.

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April 15, 2009 Posted by | social media trends, Unexpected things happen | , , , , , , , | 2 Comments

Social networks harming morality?

I was going to blog aboutthe reports claiming social networking harm morality earlier on but decided against it – they were too silly, I thought.

Then they hit the National Press here in the UK. And it’s crazy. The idea is that social networks like Facebook and Twitter don’t give you the time to react to a bit of news so you don’t see immorality or sadness as you ought to.

We’ll leave aside the issue of people telling us how we ought to feel – there are occasions on which certain reactions are definitelty appropriate in my view, and I’ll accept that. There are also times when I’ve seen so much death or sadness on the TV news that I hardly notice, which I accept is less than desirable. Social networks can of course amplify that effect by being such a fast medium.

What troubles me is the implication that I’m too stupid, and so are all the other users, to remain in charge of the media I’m watching. More than at any point during my lifetime, I can take my own time watching or reading something. I don’t have to be in front of the TV at a particular time for the news and I can take as long as I want reading a Twitter post, short though it may be.

By all means highlight the danger but please, could we remember the people reading this stuff are intelligent individuals who dictate how they use the new media, not the other way around.

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April 14, 2009 Posted by | social media trends | , , , , , , , | 2 Comments

Commissioning through social networks

Time for some fun stuff after a few days off (he says, blogging from the iPhone, do tell me whether you can read this!). I’ve been asked to commission and edit a supplement that will go out with one of the Nationals,
and in the first instance I’m going to see how many of the writers I can contact through social networks rather than traditional means.

I have no doubt I’ll give up quickly – I’m being paid for this after all so I want to
do it properly – but it should be fun to see just how far I can push it.

I’ll keep you informed.

April 9, 2009 Posted by | Unexpected things happen | , , , | Leave a comment

Social networking ‘experts’ and ‘gurus’

Digitage Web 2.0
Image by ocean.flynn via Flickr

Someone asked what I thought was an odd question when I started this blog a month or so ago. “So, you’re going to become a social networking guru then,” they said.

Once I’d picked myself up off the floor I asked them why they thought so. “Well, the socialnetworkingblog.co.uk domain name, the book coming out…” I could see how it was looking. But I’m not. In fact I hate people who describe themselves as ‘gurus’ or ‘experts’ in such new areas – I don’t actually believe they exist yet, we don’t know how social networking will evolve over time because it hasn’t had enough just yet. I was delighted. therefore, to be shown this piece on people styling themselves as such describing them as idiots.

It did make me think a bit about my objectives for the blog. First, this blog exists as a statement: I’ve been commissioned to write a book on social networking and I’d look ridiculous if I didn’t walk the walk and other such cliches. It’s a good repository of links I might come across that will help me, and if I can share some of the insights I gain with other people along the way, fair enough. When I found the socialnetworkingblog.co.uk domain name was available I couldn’t resist it, which is pure vanity, but if I have a book in the area coming out it might yet be useful for marketing.

And I do a bit of speaking in the area, it’s true – I enjoy that part of my work (actually I enjoy most of my work except the filing and record keeping, but nothing’s perfect). And if the blog brings a bit more of that work through, great. Sharing your research is a new way of working for me, but I’m finding it highly pleasurable.

None of which makes me anything like a guru. A guru knows stuff. A guru offers guidance, vision and direction. When the book comes out it’s going to be a lot more about practicality than the vision thing, and accommodating social networking into a business plan. Simple brass tacky stuff is what I want to offer, nothing high-flown. And there are so many people who claim they’re some sort of social networking know-it-all! Frankly even if I did know everything about social networking I wouldn’t call myself a guru, it would put me in the same league as so many chancers!

I was talking to a colleague – who I met through social media of course – about this only today. She thought of a new term I could use. I don’t have to be a guru, I don’t have to claim to be an expert somehow, I just have to use this new term and it’ll work fine. I think I’m going to do it. As of right now.

That’s it, then. I am the social networking antiguru. End of!

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April 3, 2009 Posted by | Unexpected things happen | , , , , , | Leave a comment

Social Networking makes you more productive

Facebook, Inc.
Image via Wikipedia

I’ve had a feeling about this for some time. And now there’s actual evidence to suggest social networking makes you more productive. Visiting Twitter, Facebook, YouTube et al actually makes you a better worker.

Some of us have been saying this sort of thing for years. As long ago as the mid-nineties, when I signed up to something called Cix (still going, a very early social networking thing before the term was invented) once I’d gone freelance I noticed that if I had some human contact, albeit through a keyboard,  I was happier, more motivated and therefore more productive.

This is exactly what services like Twitter offer, particularly to the self-employed or remote working community. I’ve been stunned – often – to read about people banning their staff from its use, missing the point that having pointless conversations about last night’s telly is part of the process, not something that distracts from it.

And now it’s official. There’s evidence. I’m not surprised in the slightest.

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April 2, 2009 Posted by | social media trends | , , , , , , , , | Leave a comment

Do you need training in social media?

My social Network on Flickr, Facebook, Twitter...
Image by luc legay via Flickr

This social media course in Birmingham is causing a lot of controversy. That’s understandable’ since everyone who uses it at the moment is self-taught so why the need to spend £4000 on a course?

The tutors involved are pointing out that people who aren’t on the course are in no position to comment, which sounds fair enough. I have another problem with it, though. I’m writing a book on social networking (yes I know I’ve mentioned that a number of times) and one of the things that scares me – no, terrifies me – is that between the time at which I submit the manuscript and it actually seeing the inside of a bookshop, a process that will take about 5 months due to dark arts and publishing industry reasons, it’ll be totally out of date.

Consider, for example, if I’d been commissioned to write it a year ago. I’d have mentioned Twitter, certainly, but it would have appeared as a bit of a side issue to other social media like Bebo, Myspace, Facebook. There’s no doubt that these will have their place in the book this time around, but I’ll be writing for a generation that’s aware of social networking purely because it’s been on Twitter. The hooks, the way people get into it, have changed. In a very short time.

And now there’s a course on it. Well, fine. 25 years ago I started a course in French at college, and over the years my knowledge has become dated – I don’t know whether there’s a French word for iPod, or WiFi, we simply didn’t have them 25 years ago. I can accept that over a quarter of a century. My concern about degree-level social networking is that it’ll date almost as much over a period of months.

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March 30, 2009 Posted by | Uncategorized | , , , , , , | Leave a comment

Is Facebook sustainable?

A great post on Cnet (sourced from the New York Times) asks whether Facebook is growng too quickly for its own good. Read it here.

March 30, 2009 Posted by | Social media financing, Social networking providers | , , , , | Leave a comment

Ghost tweeeting

Facebook, Inc.
Image via Wikipedia

Occasionally you get a flurry of interest about whether a particular celebrity on Twitter is actually doing the writing themselves. The same debate has applied to Facebook, websites, Myspace, all manner of sites.

There’s a good critique of this on this blog. Personally I have another question – why would you bother? People using ghost writers to Tweet are taking huge risks. A couple of months ago Britney Spears was badly hit by this when someone posted, under her name, a note about the size of her vagina and how many teeth it had. Now, this was malicious but so ridiculous it was obvious it couldn’t have been her. But what if someone on my (nonexistent) staff had a beef with me, and decided to Tweet or blog in my name about how I was having an affair, or wasting shareholders’ money in a company I might own, or something? It would be easy to tarnish someone’s reputation by putting something credible up there. That’s one reason to control your social networking yourself.

The other is because there’s actually no point in engaging in a completely personalised social media if you’re not going to be the person doing it. 50 Cent might think he’s the ‘energy’ behind his Twitter account but he’s not, the ghost writer has the energy. Which is fine if you’re just using it for publicity and not to engage with people but then that’s what your website is for – Twitter has evolved into a place for conversations.

My guess is that there’s going to be more of this. And a lot of unfollowing as people realise that isn’t really their hero replying, whether it’s 50 Cent or Stephen Hawking.

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March 27, 2009 Posted by | Uncategorized | , , , , , , , , | Leave a comment

More over the top Twitter advice

Eschers Coffee Twitter Theme
Image by JoshSemans via Flickr

I appreciate Twitter is great for all sorts of things. I’ve had a book commissioned through my use of it and have picked up literally thousands of pounds in other commissions so even if it wasn’t good for those coffee machine moments I’d otherwise miss as I work by myself – and it’s great for them – I’d recommend it to anyone.

But now Gartner of all people is publishing a guide on how to do it. Gartner, for anyone who doesn’t know, is a serious corporate advisory and research organisation. I’m not convinced microblogging needs a massive corporate infrastructure and advice – so much of it is down to common sense.

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March 26, 2009 Posted by | Uncategorized | , , , , , | Leave a comment