Newly released customisable theme feature from Posterous

Posterous is proud to announce the ability to change the look and feel of your Posterous blog! It’s been a long time coming, and are we ever excited about releasing this feature to you guys today.

With this recent announcement I believe Posterous will secure even more traction as a micro-blogging platform. Other than five off-the-shelf themes, Posterous also offers customisable headers and colours. And that’s not all. Posterous have also catered for the geeks out there. They’re given account holders the ability to customise further through access to HTML and CSS configs.

For more information on theming visit the ‘Custom Themes‘ page.

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Enterprise 2.0 Conference (Boston)

Enterprise 2.0 Conference

My Enterprise 2.0 Conference schwag

One of my many roles at my company (United Business Media) is a local Community Manager. I was offered this role, in addition to my Digital Development Manager role, when I learned that our CEO wanted our company to have access to an internal wiki community – a departure from the old-school intranet we’ve always had. Since then (~12 months) I’ve being building the community trying to stimulate employee engagement and develop a community everyone can benefit from.

So when I learned that my fellow Community Manager colleagues around globe were attending the Enterprise 2.0 conference in Boston I began my pitch internally to attend. After a few attempts my CEO agreed and sent me packing.

So what exactly is Enterprise 2.0?

Enterprise‘ refers to an organisation (usually large) that is created for business ventures. Corporate establishments are enterprise in nature – usually involving thousands of employees. ‘2.0‘ gets its name from the now fashionable Web 2.0 collective – content communication tools (involving various mediums like blogs, video, audio etc…). So, Enterprise 2.0 is the exploit of web 2.0 tools within an enterprise.

The conference was amazing. Whilst technology, ROI, risk and tools were spoken about at large, I’d sum my conference experience up in three words: Community, People (including new networks) and Collaboration.

Buzz word bingo

There was a plethora of buzz words pushed around in conversation both on and off stage as strings of words were mashed together forming Social Media word-ups (buzz word mash-ups). Some attendees and speakers actually offered tangible insights, sharing useful tips and case studies examples. Dion Hinchcliffe‘s ‘Implementing Enterprise 2.0: Exploring the Tools and Techniques of Emergent Change‘ was a highlight. Dion’s session was popular with delegates forced move rooms to accommodate swelling numbers. His workshop was rather overwhelming though as he addressed the state of enterprise 2.0 and the tools being employed by companies who ‘get’ it. I soon realised that I’d needed to up the ante and decode his (and other speakers) jargon-infested ROI arguments (all valid of course). I concentrated on tangibles – the can do’semployees are social both in their social lives and at the office and business leaders need to understand this and get involved.

IT concerns

Various security vulnerabilities were discussed. IT folk focused conversations around corporate security concerns and the lack of homogeneous integration of existing information systems (like SharePoint) throughout the company.

Community heroines

In one session, Connie Bensen spoke about the benefits and features associated with online communities: lead generation, customer acquisition, retention and satisfaction. She also reminded us what makes up a successful connection between customer and you (the organisation): trust, loyalty, word-of-mouth, brand awareness and ROI.

Community relationships are based on common-sense: talking to customers and NOT at them.

She included some useful tips for success:

  1. Start with a small group
  2. Have executive sponsorship
  3. Actively interact online
  4. Engage with advocates and build relationships
  5. Incorporate ideas from the consumers
  6. Train and recruit other staff to participate
  7. Share success internally

Networking

I, like most delegates, found the networking opportunities useful. On Monday I attended a tweet-up, The Community Roundtable, meeting interesting folk (and meeting Connie). Then on Tuesday I attended another Enterprise 2.0  and An Event Apart shared tweetup meeting more great people, including David Armano briefly who I have huge respect for.

Enterprise 2.0 photostream

Enterprise 2.0 photostream

My global team mates

The Enterprise 2.0 Conference also gave me a chance to meet my fellow Community Managers. Our company Wiki Community Manager, Ted Hopton, was a panelist on the Strategies for Building Sustainable Online Communities session on Thursday. His manager and the global community management team watched on as Ted delivered ueful tips to help build communities and roll-out strategies. He also conceded that a few mistakes were made, but that was part of the learning process. What I found interesting was meeting them face-to-face after spending ~18months connecting online. The conference gave me a chance to have more meaningful conversations and tactical discussions about the future of our roles with the Wiki.

6 types of avatars used on Twitter

Now Twitter is everywhere! From the net, WOM (Word Of Mouth), TV and radio all sorts of personalitites are emerging on this platform. From serious business-focussed users to fun and light-hearted users. I’ve compiled a list of Twitter avatar types which you can base their primary activity from – looking at the style of their photo.

It’s worth bearing in mind that an inherent beauty of the avatar is you can change it whenever you want or indeed need to. 

Ever wondered what type of avatars are being used? Here’s just a few types that spring to mind. If you have any further suggestions let me know?

 

1. Fun / Animated type

I’ve added this category first because I think Twitter was originally designed with this in mind – fun. Fun avatars are just as the name suggests – for fun so there’s nothing too serious about them. Many of these animated-type avatars (@jasonsantamaria and @daveIxD) are designed using Face Your Manga.

@jasonsantamaria@daveIxD

 

2. Real-life: serious and quirky type

On to the serious folk – @jowyang and @drewm – these guys are top of their game. You’ll find very useful information from their tweets.

@drewmpeek_bigger

 

3. Logo type

Using logo’s as part of a Twitter avatar has become quite common now. Companies (@twittilicious and @zappos) use their logos as part of the branding to convey advertising messages

@twittilicious@zappos

 

4. Messages type

Tweeps are also using their avatars to convey messages. Here @Greenpeace_Intl use their ” to convey their recent campaign message.

@Greenpeace_Intl

 

5. Object/Activity-oriented type

This type of avatar goes without saying. For event organisers – @SocialNetworkWF and @where20 –  what better way to provide essential information to followers.

@SocialNetworkWF@where20

 

6. Topical type

Common these days too are avatars based on current trends or topical conversations. @ciaranj‘s recently posted a snow photo on Flickr an dit made it to Channel 4 news so he changed it to reflect his ‘attention’.

image019_7_bigger

Social Media: my conference take-aways

Another day out the office (I attended Interiors Birmingham Expo last week) and this time for The Future of Social Media conference, hosted at The Cumberland Hotel, London. Social Media is something that has varying degrees of understanding. I’m sure even the the Social Media pros still debate the true definition. Rohit Bhargava summed up Social Media neatly in a couple of words – demystifying the often over-complicated versions:

“Social Media is where people are sharing information socially like comments, discussions, photos, music, etc (not just blogs, twitter, YouTube)”
Rohit Bhargava, SVP Marketing, Ogilvy

As usual I took notes, but in the end I’ve decided to write this post on *just* one of the presentations – actually a workshop – from the conference. Kevin Lawver, Chief Architect, Music Intelligence Solutions entitled: Making Marketing More Human Through Technology

Making Marketing More Human Through Technology

Making Marketing More Human Through Technology

Here are some of my take-away’s from Kevin’s presentation:

  • Social Media is a “Silly Term” – all media is social, all media begs commentary
  • Cluetrain Manifesto (1999) – was a prophecy, not a manifesto
  • Social Media is about the all the conversation
  • Social Media is about: Following them , starting them and joining them
  • Every online community is a tribe
  • Feed reader – get it. It’s the fastest way to scan and track the right conversations
  • Google alerts – important
  • Twitter: The web’s dinner party
  • Constant partial attention phenomenon
  • Starting conversations: get a blog – validate humanity

On Twitter:

  • Don’t just broadcast
  • Be useful
  • Don’t follow everyone
  • Don’t be annoying
  • Do follow those who follow you
  • Offer support where you can
  • Follow: @garyvee, @zappos, @twalk, @railsmachine, @halcyon
  • Twitter’s not for marketing – it’s PR. Some argue that Twitter is Marketing and some argue that’s they’re both (My tweet and the subsequent responses from @EEPaul, @BenLaMothe and @kaigani)
  • Don’t inflict rules for bloggers in corporate environments – they’ll do their own thing.

The future:

  1. Reputation – biggest missing piece out there. Creating ‘Reputation Models’
  2. Aggregators – people love these. FB’s wall is interesting
  3. API Traps – need to make sure that they’re around for soem time – if they go down what happens?
  4. Activity Streams – slow uptake, but people love it.

The Presentation:

The Future of Social Media conference – January 2009

Last October I attended the Future of Social Media conference (FOSM) with my colleague, John Welsh (Digital Director, UBM Information), full of expectation. I was not disappointed. The content and speakers were good and found the practical real-life talks inspiring. After all, most social media-type events cater more for the technical geek-type audiences – not marketers actually going back to an office implementing Social Media (SM) campaigns.

Many questions like: what’s the ROI for SMM?, how does SM actually benefit our business? and commonly how do we actual measure SM success – is there a formula? weren’t fully answered in my opinion. British Airways – on the other hand – was particularly useful – managed to coach the audience through Social Media marketing campaigns like the Metrotwin one.

This years FOSM conference includes a music theme with Last.fm speaker Spencer Hyman in the line up. A question I’ll have for Spencer is whether the now not-so-recent redesign has had any effect on their audiences?

I’ll be writing up notes from the conference, but only after the talks. Here are the speakers from the conference:

Determining the future and maintaining the momentum in Social Media marketing
Andy Hobsbawn, European Chair, Agency.com

Counterintuitive new truths of marketing
Rohit Bhargava, SVP Marketing, Ogilvy

The new generation – reaching your audience through Social Media applications
Jackson Bond, Senior Manager Corporate Development, Xing

Understandign and leveraging future online communities
Mark Watts-Jones, Head of Innovation, Orange

Social Media marketing and social music revolution
Spencer Hyman, COO, Last.fm

The future of search engines – exploring how the future of Social Media will be incorporated into search
Cesar Mascaraque, Managing Director, Ask.com

A web analytics view of Social Media – the future and the measurement challenges
Vicky Brock, Strategic Programs Director, Web Analytics Association

Establishing tomorrow’s Social Media’s landscape
Hart Cunningham, Founder, PerfSpot
Kevin Lawver, Chief Architect, Music Intelligence Solutions

The full speaker line-up and agenda for this years show can be found on the FOSM website.

5 ways to build online communities

Building online communities is easy isn’t it? I mean you see many communities on the web so surely it’s reasonably easy to do? As I’ve recently discovered it’s not as easy as it appears, however it is fun though.

I was recently given the job of Wiki Community Manager (a promotion in my eyes) at my company – a community building project. My first (and most important) priority is to build the wiki community. Specifically, to get people signed up to the wiki and engaged. Also, ensure user profiles are adequately completed with avatars, contact details and company association to aide search. The most difficult aspect is the complex nature of the wiki community: various interest groups, different functional roles and personal interests.

1. Love what you do
Before you can start to build a community you need to be passionate about the subjects and topics. Being truly passionate makes being part of the conversation that much easier. I look at Pete Cashmore (aka Mr Mashable) for inspiration. Whilst it’s his job he manages to be extremely passionate about ‘all that’s new on the web’ – not only is he very busy pushing out content for his community but you can also feel it in his writing. Your community users will sense your passion and will become passionate too.

2. Understand what the community likes
To truly engage you need to understand the discussion. You need to understand what makes your users tick too. Some contributors will be more active than others. Use these users to leverage discussion and bring other users into the discussion. You start to act like the bridge between users and build discussion networks and a community.

3. Get involved and constantly monitor activity
Be very involved. Participate as much as possible in as many discussions as you can. By being involved you’re able to garden the community and keep momentum going.

4. Have a plan
Whilst not always easy try and formulate a content (discussion) plan. Naturally, you can’t control what your users say but stimulate discussion by referring to topical news. Content that’s recently will always get attention. So, if you know a big event is coming up start planning how you might start discussion. If possible establish contact with thought leaders well in advance and attempt to get them prepped before the occasion.

5. Be patient
Not all things on the web comes quickly. Like SEO, brand respect etc, it takes time. So don’t give up too soon. Instead keep at it, eventually you’ll see your rewards.

Social Portal – Sweetcron

I recently wrote a blog post indicating that I’d look into the new Sweetcron web app. So, over the weekend I dived in and explored its potential.

Sweetcron - Rob Enslin

What is Sweetcron?

A Sweetcron is a free and open source solution for creating a self-hosted Lifestream; a blog-like website that shows your activity across the various websites.
A Sweetcron is very much like a blog that aggregates all your data feeds from your various websites into one site – a website I call my Social Portal. The real beauty of a Sweetcron is the ability to view and comment on individual data-feed inline (no need to wonder off to other websites). A Sweetcron uses the idea of a timeline and gives it the human feel of time progression. Much like the Meghan’s Lifecast where the time is represented horizontally, the Sweetcron uses individual blocks of activity down a mainly vertical axis (is fully customiseable too).

Why do a Sweetcron?

Because like all new technologies it’s important to discover potential solutions. It may not be the perfect type of web app, but with a bit of imagination and business vision solutions will inevitably ‘appear’. This portential is echoed by Web Designer Chris Coyier in his Sweetcron post on Nettuts:
Sweetcron is a relatively new software, but its ease of use, great user interface and extensibility are surely going to be help it take off. I could see it amassing a huge user base and even stealing a little market share away from blogging giants like WordPress.

What you need to setup a Sweetcron?

Unlike many web 2.0-flavoured hosted solutions (WordPress, Blogger etc) Sweetcron relies on you to provide the server platform and setup skills. The hardware/software and skills needed include:
  • Web access – get onto the web
  • Sweetcron signup and email address – download the files
  • FTP access – get the files across to your server
  • PHP Server – runs/understands the installed Sweetcron files
  • MySQL database – a place to store and sort the generated content
  • Text editor – edit the PHP files for configuration
  • Image editing software – amend graphics to personalise it
  • Follow and understand the technical instructions
  • Commenting app (optional) – I used Disqus

Benefits of a Sweetcron?

  • Free
  • Relatively easy to instal and configure
  • Good looking
  • User-generate content in the form of comments
  • Easily customisable
  • Self-hosted
  • Open source and some…

References:

Files and Installation: http://sweetcron.com/
Lifestream examples: Chris Coyier, Yongfook, Rob Enslin (me) and Satish Kanwar.

My Social Friday – wiki, sweetcron, ia, contextual ads

It’s 7.00am and it’s a lovely morning in Dorking, Surrey. I’ve left my house and walking to the train station. I’m on my way to London Waterloo via Dorking. I chat a little about what I’ve got planned for the day – my Social Friday (media day).

Other than continuing with all my wiki rollout sessions – getting folk signed up – which is very time consuming, I plan to take a closer look at Sweetcron (The Automated Lifestream Blog) – web app pulling in all types of content – your social identity, news, videos, blog posts, pownce, tweets – personal social portal.

Sweetcron signup

Sweetcron signup

I’m also planning to continuing my work on information architecture documents for a few new projects. This afternoon, I’m looking at thePublican.com‘s spec documents for Firstlight ERA‘s contextual advertising project integration.

I’m really looking forward to it. Hope I can get onto Twitter.com at some point too 😉

[blip.tv ?posts_id=1374780&dest=-1]

To Digg or not to Digg?

I recently read that Kevin Rose, co-founder of digg.com, plans to expand digg.com to Europe and Asia. At first I thought that’s fantastic then, after I finished reading the article, I began to wonder what the point was? I mean digg.com is global…the web is global. The only well-known websites that use a regional address is Google and Yahoo! Kevin also mentioned wanting to included local language versions too, which I can understand. But, what’s the point Kevin?

I posted a comment on the ‘Digg plans global expansion‘ story and whilst looking for my comment I noticed the related digg.com/Kevin Rose article: Kevin Rose’s top eight tips for getting on the Digg front page. Looking at the list there are some great tips worth mentioning:

1 Write article about current stories in the news. The bigger and more popular the news the better.

2 Love what you write about so be passionate.

3 Make sure you know what you’re writing about – do your research. Have your facts and research to hand.

4 Go niche…it’s the future. You’ll be amazed by the stuff people are interested in

5 Lists are king. Many popular digg stories are based on lists. (Just like this one: 5 great tips to boost your digg’s)