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Corporate communications + Public Relations Adelaide

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March 2013

4 things I’ve learned about blogging

I’ve always loved writing.

So having the ability to blog is fantastic.

I know a lot of other bloggers write for pleasure and many, like me, have a blog that supports our professional  life with some business goals attached.

This blog has evolved over the years as my career and goals have changed and I have learned a lot. When I started this blog (in Blogger) in August 2009 I wasn’t sure what it was going to be – only that as a social media professional  it’d be a good idea for me to experience blogging and keep learning. So my posts were random notes about things like Art Guilt and whether to stand at a rock concert and not necessarily about social media.

Prakky's blogging keyboard: Hipstamatic style
Prakky’s blogging keyboard: Hipstamatic style

Since 2009, here’s some interesting things I’ve learned about blogging:

  1. Readers love personal stories. And this can be difficult to achieve in a business-focused blog. But you can bring personal anecdotes into your posts, in particular in your intros, and via stories of what was happening to you when you formed the idea for a post. My most popular (and Freshly Pressed) post was quite personal and about growing up. I almost didn’t publish it. I didn’t think it fit the remit of this blog, but you know what .. lots of people loved reading it. And it’s a salient reminder that people like stories; and a reminder that we can share some of ourselves with our audiences and clients.
  2. Passion makes for easier writing, but not necessarily a more popular piece. Sometimes I’ll get sudden inspiration for a post, excitedly type for 10 fluid minutes and hit Publish and be absolutely certain that it’ll gain a lot of readers. I was so passionate about the topic, surely they would be! But I’m sad to say that’s not always the case. You could put it down to timing, or just the reality that not everyone’s passionate about the same things as you. So while the post may have been super-easy to write, that doesn’t guarantee success.
  3. You never know how people will react. This is closely related to the point above. I’ve been surprised by what works and what doesn’t work. That’s the nature of social media – compare blogs to YouTube clips for example. The content quality varies and you cannot predict what will go viral (even though you might have used ‘all the right techniques’).
  4. Your post might get a lot of readers and shares, but zero comments. This can be a downer. It’s nice to have readers and that’ a great indicator of popularity and interest. But let’s be honest: we crave comments too, don’t we? We’re here for a bit of conversation. So for example, my previous post about the parody Kevin Rudd Twitter account was a hot link on Bitly and had hundreds of views yesterday afternoon. How many comments? Zilch. I’ve learned that in some cases, people just want to read what you’ve said. They don’t have anything to add. Writing a comment is a big commitment. And that’s okay.

Are you a blogger, too? What have you learned about blogging?

It goes without saying … I’d welcome your comments!

Folks, it was fake: parody political accounts

UPDATE: Julia Gillard remains Prime Minister after a leadership spill earlier today. Read on for some of what occurred on Twitter during this political event ..

 

Australian federal politics is abuzz with news of a leadership spill today – Prime Minister Julia Gillard has declared there will be a vote amongst her ALP Caucus at 4.30pm AEST.

As always, Twitter is enabling people to share the news, their speculation, analysis, snark and humour. Much of this has been under the hashtag #spill.

What’s interesting about today’s Twitter coverage in particular, is that a tweet sent from a fake political account has been seen as genuine and retweeted by some, including politicians and members of the press. Kevin Rudd – former PM and assumed contender for the leader (although at this point he doesn’t seem to have yet publicly declared) – has a number of parody accounts and the @_KRuddMP account seems to be adept at capturing his tone of voice. So when the account shared the tweet below, it was widely seen as official:

https://twitter.com/_KRuddMP
https://twitter.com/_KRuddMP

Senator Ursula Stephens was one of those caught by this; she retweeted the fake Kevin Rudd declaration and later apologised:

https://twitter.com/ursulastephens
https://twitter.com/ursulastephens

ABC journalist Latika Bourke tweeted warning:

https://twitter.com/latikambourke
https://twitter.com/latikambourke

And other media members did likewise:

Media fake Rudd-related tweets
Media fake Rudd-related tweets

But it was too late for some tweeters and media outlets. It was tweeted that Channel 7 (location unnamed) unwittingly read out this fake tweet on air, believing it to be genuine. A few Twitter users were aghast the media could get this wrong. The genuine Kevin Rudd Twitter account has the blue verification tick – and before using any tweet under these circumstances, the press could check and rechecked its veracity.

Parody is part of  Twitter’s culture and certainly is not against its terms and conditions:

“Twitter users are allowed to create parody, commentary, or fan accounts (including role-playing). Twitter provides a platform for its users to share and receive a wide range of ideas and content, and we greatly value and respect our users’ expression” – Twitter help centre.

However there are guidelines. The account should be readily identified as fake. The fake Rudd account in question does an official Rudd photograph and appropriate brand colours which can easily mislead. But the Twitter bio? It’s clearly silly: “Lead singer of K Rudd experience feat Abby and Jasper. Disgraced psychopath and former PM”.

Twitter further advises:

“If an account is engaged in parody and follows all of the above recommendations, it will generally be free to continue in its parody so long as it doesn’t mislead or deceive others. These are considered best practices for clearly marking accounts as one that is engaging in non-impersonation parody/commentary”.

What this episode does remind us of, is the pressure to be first with the news on Twitter.

When the Prime Minister declared – during Question Time in Parliament House this afternoon – that the ballot would be held at 4.30pm, it was only seconds later that the #spill and #auspol streams were filled with the news. There would be enormous pressure on the media to share the news first and many would be seeking some quote from the unusually quiet Mr Rudd.

So, what’s the latest from the fake K Rudd?  These tweets … they’re clearly parody. Folks.

Fake K Rudd tweets
Fake K Rudd tweets

Update:

 

Tweet from fake Rudd account
Tweet from fake Rudd account

Review: youngest tries Alienware gaming

Okay, so I have two gamer sons in the house. And a gamer husband.

All three enjoy laptop gaming and were super-stoked when Alienware lent us a trial M17x recently. Previously, my eldest son shared his review and now it’s my youngest son’s turn.

Youngest Son enjoying Alienware's M17x laptop
Youngest Son enjoying Alienware’s M17x laptop

Like the rest of the family, he was delighted and surprised by the attractiveness of the laptop when we opened its box. It’s large, it’s heavy, and the design is streamlined so it looks kind of futuristic – and that  colourful keyboard with its raised keys is impressive, plus the handy video and sounds console near the screen.

It looks fantastic on any desk (we had the red model and apparently it also comes in black or silver). It provided a fast gaming experience and the sound is great, too.

Younger Son enjoyed the large bright screen which brought to life his favourite games and spaces like Minecraft, Orks Must Die 2 (as of course they must) and dabbling in computer skill and maths games online via the Kahn Academy.

To be honest, he doesn’t necessarily prefer laptop gaming to any other formats and has owned the lot – from Wii through to DSi. He was also just plain happy to have another available laptop in the house to choose from, which avoided arguments for a few months! Thanks Alienware! But he agrees it’s the best laptop he’s experienced.

You can join the Alienware discussion on Facebook or look up specs and prices at the official Alienware website.

We give Alienware: the thumbs up
We give Alienware: the thumbs up

ps. We weren’t paid to write our reviews, but did of course have a loan of an Alienware laptop to help us share the experience.

Twitter not working for you?

This is a question I posed during a social media training session today: Is Twitter not working for you?

Have you been using Twitter – particularly as a business or a brand – but found that it isn’t delivering any results? Perhaps you’re not gaining many followers. Perhaps you’re finding it hard to scratch around for content. Maybe nobody is talking to you.

Twitter tips
Twitter tips

Here’s a few things you might consider to improve that Twitter experience:

Conversations

Make sure you’re not just tweeting about yourself. Take a look down your Twitter profile. Are most of your tweets replies? Or are they broadcast, one-way tweets?

Twitter provides the most value (and is the most fun) when you’re talking with others. When you have Twitter conversations, you’re indicating to other people that you exist (perhaps gaining a Follow) and that you’re interested in them (again, perhaps gaining a Follow). You wouldn’t attend a networking event and talk about yourself constantly? (I hope). Twitter is the same. It’s not all about you.

Pose questions, help others, be attentive and join in.

Search

The conversation tip above poses the question: how do you find people to chat to? How do you join relevant and interesting conversations?

The answer: use that Twitter search bar!

Search for topics, products, regions and people that are of interest to you. Go further and conduct an Advanced Search which will help you create topic searches within one city or your region. For example, you might search “fashion” and “Perth”, or “wine” and “Adelaide”, or “holiday” and “Darwin”. You can save your favourite Twitter searches.  And if you’re using a social media dashboard like Hootsuite, you can save a stream (column) for your most frequent searches. Pro Hootsuite users can also do geo searches.

When you search Twitter for prospects / potential Twitter pals, you’re unlocking one of the most valuable Twitter offerings. That is, the ability to initiate contact and to be proactive. In other platforms, like Facebook, you’re working on attracting Likes and it’s more passive. Twitter enables you to ‘go out fishing’, showing people you exist there and what you have to offer.

Hashtags

The culture of hashtags on Twitter is what really makes the community thrive.

Search for hashtag conversations to join. Consider developing your own – perhaps for an event, product launch or conference. Or consider hosting a regular hashtag conversation. For more about hashtags, see my previous post Hashtags Can Mean Business and also Hashtag Champions.

Lists

I’m sometimes asked how I manage to keep up with  the tweetstream of the thousands of people I follow. The answer: I don’t. I can’t. But I do use Twitter Lists to help ensure I keep up with some valued Twitter accounts.

Make time to develop your own Twitter Lists. It’s worth it.

My Twitter Lists mean I can quickly read over the tweets for select accounts that are of particular interest to me. For example, I can check what my ‘real life friends’ have been tweeting via my Friends list. I can check in on clients via my Clients List, and so on. Some of my lists are private and for my use only, others like my Australian Writing list and Politicians list are public and thus other  Twitter users can subscribe to these.

To add a Twitter account to a List, simply hover over the account as per the illustration below. You’ll see the option to Add or Remove from List (and also when you click through, you’ll have the option to Create a new List).

Adding an account to a Twitter List
Adding an account to a Twitter List

So in summary: conversations, searching, hashtags and lists can immensely boost your Twitter experience. You’ll have more followers (which equals a larger community), and more conversations to take part in and learn from.

Good luck and enjoy!

For my South Australian readers: you may want to register for my Twitter 101 For Business classes. If you’re interested, please email admin@prakky.com.au These are run approximately every six weeks and are 3 hours duration.

Review: Eldest tries Alienware gaming

This is a new type of post for me … a review.

We’ve been lucky enough to have a loan Alienware laptop in our home this past month.

My husband and two sons enjoy laptop gaming; they’d heard about Alienware and were thrilled to have the Alienware unit in the house. To be more specific: it’s a M17x “gaming notebook”.

In this first review post, we’re sharing my eldest son’s Alienware review:

Eldest Son gaming with Alienware
Eldest Son gaming with Alienware

Eldest Son has enjoyed laptop gaming for years. Of course, he has also owned and used different types of games consoles including Wii, Xbox and DS.

I asked him what makes laptop gaming different. His answer: “they aren’t usually that good, because of their poor graphics and lack of storage space.” But in his opinion, the Alienware laptop has some of the best graphics he’s seen.

He’s been using it to play Dawn of War 2 Retribution which “played well and fast”. He says Alienware is “super-fast” and is smooth, with “no lag” and the sound is fantastically clear.

The other thing he enjoys about laptop gaming is “you can take it anywhere with you and it’s still the same size game – for example, it’s not a crappy little DS game”.

From a more cosmetic point of view, I’ve played around with the 17 inch laptop and it’s gorgeous. It’s sleek and weighty, giving it a special quality you’ll want to look after.

The keyboard is alight with colour and typing is a joy. I’d read elsewhere about the sleek design and was super-excited when the alien-head device was delivered. Maybe I’ll have more time to get my hands on it soon! I want to try out its customisation options.

Alienware M17x
Alienware M17x

Alienware M17x laptop Alienware has a choice of models made specifically for gaming.

Coming up in another post: we’ll share the review from Youngest Son who has been using the Alienware unit for Minecraft, Orks Must Die 2, plus some programming and maths fun via the Kahn Academy.

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