Why I am now learning more about social media from my family, friends and colleagues

When I started finding out about social media, I read the blogs  and followed the Tweets of leading practitioners. Their practicalities swiftly got me going.

Eighteen months later, I’ve got  a new circle of teachers and influencers. And this time they are a lot closer than Silicon Valley. They are my family, friends and colleagues who are influencing me because they do what they want with this social media kit without having read the blogs and followed Tweets like me.

So ask yourself? Are you so absorbed by the people in your Google Reader that you are neglecting to learn the lessons from those closer to home? Or, literally, at home.

Why I now learn from my family, friends and colleagues

  • They’re pragmatic: We people in social media spend most of our time blogging and Tweeting about….social media. But many of my family, friends and colleagues use it for their jobs or hobbies. They just aren’t interested in endless stuff about Google Wave or Apple’s Tablet. What they do want to know is how best to get what they want from this stuff. So they are experimenting and finding out new ways of doing things.
  • They reveal harsh truths: Assemble a hundred people in one room for a conference from most business sectors that have nothing to do with social media and do not be surprised if they are not Tweeting. Attend an industry event where people have Blackberries and do not be shocked when no one takes a photo. My family, friends and colleagues have taught me that, however easy the technology or the software, there just is not going to be mass adoption of this stuff. People want to listen at conferences and they want to chat at social events. We are going to have to get our heads around that unpalatable truth.
  • They self-promote: I have always been influenced by the sharing and caring philosophy of the early internet. I always believe that you get back only what you put into the web. But such great ideals do not wash with some of my family, friends and colleagues. To them, the internet is not some ideal but rather a means to an end. If they want to use social media for self-promotion, to push their message out, they will do so. And they don’t put their followers off since they are networking with people like themselves.
  • They interest me: My use if social networks changes over time. I’m going through a deep and intense renewal of my vows to this blog at the moment after months of philandering with Facebook. I’ve discovered that just as our loyalty to a social media channel is fickle, so our prefered teachers and influencers change over time. So I guess I’ll be getting bored of my family, friends and colleagues soon and will be returning to my first and former teachers any day soon.
  • They know me: When I headed out into the world of social media two years, there were some great new acquaintances but no one I knew. Sometimes it got lonely – just as you do if you are abroad on business. So one thing I really loved about my family, friends and colleagues getting online was to network with people I genuinely know. It makes it much more intense.
  • They owe me: God forbid that I sound bitter or anything but…I’ve put so much time and energy into encouraging and explaining social media to my family, friends and colleagues that it’s payback time. I deserve a little lesson-love.
  • Photo: Dan Taylor

    Guest post: how cult YouTube directors can interest a young demographic in the issue of climate change

    Who better to write this blog post on Blog Action Day 2009 than my sister Cheryl Campbell?

    Cheryl is the executive director of tve, a charity that has been making films and documentaries about the environment for 25 years. Here she writes of her sons’ fascination for the cult YouTube videos of Eddsworld and Ted Crusty which  inspired her to work with the very same directors inviting them to give their take on climate change. What better way to appeal to a youngYouTube generation than to work with the stars of the medium.

    I like the subject of this post written for this blog on this day of all days.

    Blog Action Day 2009 focuses on climate change. These Digital Times is a blog dedicated to observing and supporting all our journeys from traditional to digital media. tve, a traditional maker of films about climate change,  launches something completely different using the tools of new media to get its message across. Cheryl’s post neatly brings all these elements together.

    Read what she has to say. Watch the videos.  And send a message to world leaders about climate change.

    Eighteen months ago I asked my young son to show me on YouTube what it was that (with all parental filters in place, of course!) was keeping him and his mates so fascinated, what it was that, when they got together as a group, made the computer more interesting than television or the XBOX.

    Last night, as a result of that fascinating tour of YouTube channels, tve launched A Million Views on Copenhagen, a series of short, quirky irreverent climate change videos produced by  – and for – the YouTube generation.

    tve, which is a UK based charity, has been making films and documentaries about the key environment and development challenges of our time for 25 years. Last year our films reached at least 300 million homes via global television broadcast and many more viewers via broadcasts on nearly 90 national and regional television channels. As you would expect, we are busy making films both long and short in the lead up to the crucial UN conference on climate change in Copenhagen in December.

    But how to connect with that younger “hard to reach” audience? Some of these cult YouTube producers have vast followings of on-line fans, including Eddsworld, Ted Crusty and Custard Productions. We decided to invite them to produce a series for us, to give us their individual takes on climate change in the run up to the conference in Copenhagen in December. They’re joined by Alisha Tuladhar, a 16 year old schoolgirl from Nepal, and Mike-Steve Adeleye, an award-winning Namibian animator.

    And we’ve been delighted with the results. Their films are exciting, innovative and engaging: a polar bear falling from the sky, plastic trees and a Lego campaigner against carbon tax are just some of the ways these members of the YouTube generation deliver their takes on climate change. It has been great to work with all the filmmakers: Edd Gould and Tom Ridgewell of Eddsworld, Mike Tapscott (Ted Crusty), Keshen Matus of Custard Productions, Mike-Steve Adeleye and Alisha Tuladhar. We thank them for sharing their creativity with us.

    And so far, from the comments mounting up on our YouTube channel, it looks as we are achieving what we as a charity set out to do – inspiring change – with plenty of entertainment mixed in. “That’s it! I’m plugging out my particle accelerator!” “Woot! Another hilarious eddsworld movie and this time it has a meaning” “haha loved it it made the message bout global warming clear in a funny way” “I better go turn off a light switch now” – let’s keep those comments coming!

    tve is not a campaigning organisation. But we often have most impact where we work closely with an organisation who knows how to take the interest and awareness we generate with viewers (be that through television or online) and turn it into action. In this our 25th year we’ve been delighted to partner with one of our founders, WWF, to give viewers of the series  that opportunity  ahead of Copenhagen. Viewers will be invited to Vote Earth and send a message to world leaders by clicking here and joining the call for a global deal on climate change at Copenhagen.

    We’re hoping to attract a million views to the series by December so please do click through to tve on YouTube , watch the films. And finally, none of this would have been possible without the support of the Artemis Charitable Foundation. I am hugely grateful to the Foundation for enabling us to reach new audiences with such an exciting and cutting edge series.

    Other UBM colleagues who have written for Blog Action Day 2009 are Anthony Hildebrand, Brian Sims, Ron Alallouf, Phil Clark, Grahame Morrison, Rob Enslin and Ed Sexton.

    blog action day 2009

    Here is a link to my contribution to Blog Action Day 2008.

    How do you celebrate digital progress in your workplace?

    Last week saw our second, annual Digital Achievement Day – a moment when everyone across the company celebrates the change in our culture as we move from a traditional to a new media company.

    The day started with balloons on every desk and kicked off with a CEO’s breakfast Tweetup (invitations by Twitter, of course!). It then moved on to lunchtime workshops and finished with drinks and prize giving. In between, parts of the company organised anything from daylong digital strategy sessions to online competitions. We even used a hashtag.

    Here’s what Matt Parsons, one of my colleagues, thought of the event.

    Digital Achievement Day is a bit of fun really. But the serious side is this. Everyone knows how far we have come on our digital journey and how far we have to go. So, just once in a while, stop for a moment and recognise the distance travelled.

    How do you celebrate digital progress in your workplace?

    Interview with Tony Uphoff – on using Facebook and Twitter to network at events

    Tony Uphoff runs UBM’s TechWeb (a sister company to my own) which runs Information Week and the Web 2.0 Expo co-produced with O’Reilly Media.

    Tony is very active in social media with a blog Uphoff on Media and a Twitter. Here he talks about how he uses Facebook and Twitter to network before and during business-to-business events.

    This is my sixth and last interview from the Web 2.0 Expo in San Francisco and my second interview with Tony.

    Seven tips for getting the most out of an Event 2.0

    my-digital-armoury-004I’ve just returned from the Web 2.0 Expo in San Francisco.

    Before I left, I exploited my existing social media activity. I did not approach any potential contacts directly but used social media in what I called the etiquette of permission networking.

    I got my digital kit ready for the Web 2.0 Expo: I would use Twitter for networking and microblogging; I also intended to shoot several short interviews on a Flip camera.

    Web 2.0 Expo is an impressive four day event of workshops, lectures, networking and an exhibition (disclosure: the event is co-produced by a sister company of my own). What struck me most, however, was the wall of social media that surrounded the event at all time.

    Whether it was projected Twitter feeds, such as #smfail for a session with Jeremiah Owyang, Peter Kim and Charlene Li, or Nancy Duarte’s use of Meebo’s Brainstorm, the conference not only preached social media. It lived it.

    You might start out with 300 people in one room all linked to each other through their laptops or mobile devices. But, as the session progressed, we were joined by hundreds then thousands of others from across the world who followed and then interacted with the Twitter feed. 

    So, how did I do? Was my permission-based approach to networking effective? Was my digital kit the right approach?

    1. Permission networking rocks. Every single person who approached me for a meetup, showed up.
    2. Online networking can never replace face-to-face contact. The most intense moments were when I met people I had only known online. 
    3. Be ready for people’s assumptions about you. Listen to their view of what is the difference between your online and your real identities. If they make sense, integrate them into your social media profile. For example, I’ve changed the photo on some of my profiles since people said I did not look like my picture.
    4. Video posts are not a time-saving device. Uploading the videos onto Vimeo always took longer than I thought. The checking and double-checking of headlines and links was as intense as for a written post.
    5. Do not let “cabin fever” during a conference influence your media strategy. As the week went on, my subscriptions declined dramatically. I use Feedburner so I am used to dramatic ups and downs but I began to think my subscribers hated what I was doing. I stuck to my guns and my subscribers returned to normal.
    6. Remember to disable existing feeds if you change kit and platform. I forgot to disable an earlier process for video interviews on my blog that I had set up six months ago.  So, one morning, I was alarmed to have sent out three Tweets with links to my Vodpod (video host) profile. It looked and felt like spam and was entirely my fault and oversight.
    7. Do some traditional note taking. Most delegates spend every session with their heads over a laptop, interacting with the speakers online. It is very addictive. But you are far less likely to walk out with decent notes or even listen properly. So, just occasionally, close down the laptop, shut off the mobile device, ignore the Twitter feed and open a notebook instead.

    Interview with Paul Way – the impact of Facebook and Twitter on mainstream businesses

    Paul Way and I used to work together in London before he moved back to the US to work for sister company UBM TechInsights.

    I met up with him for breakfast in San Francisco’s Dottie’s True Blue cafe where he reminded me just how good he was at seeing the bigger picture. Here he evaluates what impact the lack of business plans by Facebook or Twitter has on mainstream businesses. Listen to his interview.

    This is my fifth interview from the Web 2.0 Expo in San Francisco.

    I’ve got my digital kit ready for the Web 2.0 Expo in San Francisco (plus shades!)


    I will be travelling to or arrived in San Francisco when you read this, on my way to the Web 2.0 Expo, San Francisco. I’m really excited.

    Several leading and up-and-coming social media experts have arranged to meet me. I wrote in an earlier post that I was going to use permission rather than assertive networking – that is only approach people if they made it clear they wanted to network. It has worked better than you could imagine.

    So I’ll try and video, photo and record as many of the important ideas that they mention. So I’ve taken my digital kit with me.

    When I was a traditional editor, I would have taken the lot to report with them ie broadcast from the event.

    Today my goals are quite different. They are

    • to use the kit for networking, 
    • to test myself as I try to make all the kit work together,
    • to record, rather than report, the important points in videos, pictures and words.

    The picture shows my

    1 Dell laptop. I am hoping there is Wifi because I want to be able to follow Tweets about the event via the #w2e hashtag identifier on Twitter Search. It is also essential kit back in the hotel room to keep up with the office in London, process all the material I will be gathering and knock out a regular blogpost.

    2 Flip video camera. I’m going to ask several of the people I meet the same five questions and record them.

    • How long have you been in social media?
    • What social media kit have you got on you?
    • Which part of your social media activity are you most proud?
    • How are you using your social media footprint to network at this event?
    • What one thing have you learnt this week that will help your business?
    • What’s next in social media?

    Then I am going to upload the recording to my Vimeo profile before posting it on my blog as a post.

    3 Blackberry Storm. I’m concerned whether the battery will last each day but otherwise Twitter on my Blackberry Storm is going to be an essential cog in keeping me networked throughout the day.

    4 Keyfob. All these years later, I am still so excited to be able to sit at my work desktop wherever I am in the world. What will it be like working through the company Wiki for the first time?

    5 Exilim digital camera. I cannot get the quality of pictures with my Blackberry Storm that I can with my trusted digital camera so I will put up with the inconvenience of downloading. It’s not in the picture above because I had to take this picture!

    6 Shades by Cartier. Heh, it’s the Web 2.0 Expo.