31 Jan 2007

Sticks and stones may break my bones. . .

I'm a fortnight in to my blog and I wanted to record a couple of things that I've learned so far.

Apart from flexing some writing muscle that had atrophied over the past 5 years, due to lack of activity, I have been asking myself on a daily basis. . .'What's the point of this blogging lark?'

At present I have a point - I've been given the task of getting more traffic to my agency's web site - and I'm seeing if blogging can help. So far I've delivered a full SEVEN visitors to my company's site. . .

So for me this is no more than an experiment. But there's a whole community of bloggers out there - some more and some less mercenary than myself. Some just seem to love having a voice. Others are unmerciful in their commercialism. I found one young chap, who can only be in his young teens (or wants us to think that he is), who seemed to be putting down some great content - but who had also diversified into merchandise. I think it will be a long time before I'm selling t-shirts and mugs. . .

As far as my experiment goes, Friday was a hi-point. I'd stumbled on myweblog.com in an attempt to get some stats for my site. And in doing so, I started to make some friends. One of them - my guru - blog tipped me on thurs/friday, sending my readership soaring up to 80 in a day. Once I'd got my head round blog tipping and realised it wasn't painful, I was very grateful for his intervention. I don't even have 80 names in my phone book!!

So it seems that I've blagged some readership (and now I'm looking for more gurus to inspire me - or forums where I can set my stall out). But having visitors sent me into another tailspin. What did people look at? Did they hang around? Was I 'interesting'?

I suppose anyone who has ever done any writing is probably super critical of the quality of their own work - and I had conveniently parked this concern in my frenzied attempts to get sufficient content 'up there' to give people something/anything to look at. But with with traffic on the up, I started to think about what would constitute quality content and judged myself to have failed miserably so far. .

This seeded another set of anxieties. In my research I'd uncovered a number of blogs that I'd earmarked as 'good stuff' - a view shaped very much by current work challenges and personal musings. But I was worrying about the superior intellect and writing style in evidence. And I was feeling increasingly inadequate - my blog is generic, widget free, rambling, random and most of all lacking original thought.

Before my downward spiral turned into a complete nose-dive I reminded myself that the WorldWideWeb is a vast space full of ideas - good, bad and indifferent. And in this climate original thought is pretty hard to come by. Brilliant. I could stop beating myself up before I suffered a broken rib. And then I spotted a posting by one of the chaps who I had been nurturing a growing respect for - Russell Davies. Anyway, this guy appears to be a bit of a pro-blogger who had (because he can do Trackback - something I haven't mastered yet) tracked back to some ungenerous criticism of his blog.

Despite us all being told by our parents that 'sticks and stones my break my bones, but words will never hurt me', it's still really hard turn the other cheek if someone starts doing you (and your thoughts and opinions) down. Anyway, now Russell's got supporters queuing up to to tell him how great his blog is. And quite rightly so, should he ever pay me a visit he'll realise what fully fledged rubbish is available for criticism on the open market.

For me, still clawing my way up and slipping back down the bottom of a long and steep learning curve, I'm glad and amazed to have some visitors. I love it when they leave me comments - please do, please, please. And I suppose I'm prepared to accept comments - good, bad or indifferent. But of course that's easy to say when you're blog visit stats have fallen back to three fifths of bugger all!!

30 Jan 2007

Archiving Ideas

Nearly a week into my blogging adventure and learning fast. Our new media guys at work tell me I haven't made any super stupid mistakes yet. But equally I'm not sure if I've attracted interest from any passers by yet. But an article I spotted on blogging as archive struck a real chord with me as to the usefulness of blogging activity.

A couple of weeks into researching a project in support of various new media solutions, I have managed to fill five lever arch files with various articles and thought-pieces that I judged good enough to keep. . .

Having also had my eco-consciousness pricked very hard over the same fortnight, my filing habits really aren't doing the planet any favours - although the files themselves are a pleasing green and an attractive addition to my 'pod'. So it dawned that my blog would be the natural replacement for these babies. The only drawback is having to string a load of links - that mean something to me - together with some words that might mean something to someone else happening on my little virtual repository.

It's so true that time is our most valuable resource and this blogging lark seems to burn it faster than China does its fossil fuels. Hot damn!

29 Jan 2007

Spirit of the Age - In pictures

As a post-script to my previous post. . . someone pointed me in the direction of 10x10. Maybe I'm easily impressed - but this is a neat site that can give you an instant flavour of the influences that shape our collective consciousnes. And if you like intuitive interfaces, this one operates in pictures.

It's a smart way of dipping into the headlines. I am just easily impressed, aren't I?

Are UK Agencies Too Slow to Embrace Digital?

technorati tags:

Consumer media consumption habits are changing all around us. But UK marketing agencies appear slow to respond to the brand and communication challenges this poses - with digital branding expertise considered a nice-to-have, rather than a must-have part of the service portfolio for many agencies.

So what's really changing? And why the apparently slow response?

45% of UK homes are considered multi-channel and will have anywhere between 3-200 channels at their disposal. More than 10M of UK homes now have Broadband, via BT alone. The Internet is fast becoming a broadcast media thanks to the popularity of sites like MySpace and YouTube and ever increasing bandwith finally making streaming video a reality. Proliferation of hand-held media devices mean that programming can be supplied to the individual, on demand.

So as well as being savvy consumers of products and services, consumers are becoming truly complex consumers of media at precisely the same time that channels are exploding and fragmenting.

Now, in addition to traditional (old) media, such as advertising, sales promotion, DM, sponsorship and exhibitions, POS and PR, agencies are now under pressure to exploit the emerging channels offered by Web 2.0, mobile marketing, downloading, social networking and video on demand. With clients clamoring for ROI, the spotlight is on, like never before, for agencies to get the media mix right. Should agencies fail in this crucial respect and the other elements of their ingenious brand strategies - the proposition, messaging and specifics of the offer will never achieve the all important cut through with the consumer.

But laying down an Integrated Digital Marketing plan is one thing - technology and behavior are moving along at such a pace that plenty of agencies - creative and media planning alike - will be learning as they go. Success stories will made or broken dependent upon a player's ability to combine learning and imagination with a dash of expertise and a good measure of creative 'borrowing'. But the ability to deliver Integrated Digital Marketing is quite another.

Building and delivering the newest of new media solutions is a job for serious specialists. Again, these technology experts are running fast to keep up or catch up with the speed of developments in software, applications and a variety of development tricks of the trade. But there can be no substitution for knowledge gained through years of hands on design and build experience. Our tecchie friends are going to be in more and more demand (read more and more expensive), as laggard agencies step into this Brave New World. And for those developers who can demonstrate real creativity, given the shiny new tools at their disposal - salaries and day rates are set to rocket me thinks.

Given the way things are heading, do agencies in-source or outsource? And should clients be naive enough to swallow the offer of a 'one stop shop' agency, for a minute (or even a nanosecond) longer? My predictions is that are we looking at integrated brand campaigns co-authored by multiple specialist agency partners. But whilst collaboration seems like the sensible route - it's something few traditional agencies have proven themselves good at. . .

Maybe it's time the egos took a back seat in favour of effective brand strategy and great creativity that pushes the envelope and delivers great results. It's do or die time for traditional agencies. You're thoughts on this (US, UK and the rest of the blogosphere greatly appreciated).

24 Jan 2007

Spirit of the Age

We're well into January now, but I don't ever remember feeling quite so overwhelmed predictions for year ahead. They've been bombarding me from all sides - TV,radio, newspapers, and from a fair proportion of the web sites I cruise on a regular basis. Such is the volume of future gazing activity that mostly everything has been covered - from what we'll be eating and wearing, to the media we'll be captivated by, the technology that will change our lives and the global phenomena that are likely to enter our already stretched consciousness as the months roll on. . .

That's not to mention the rafts of predictions regarding life, love and happiness peddled by glossy (and downright) tatty magazines.

So what's the fascination with trend prediction? And should we be taking any notice?

As life - particularly in business - continues to speed up, it's unsurprising that steeling a march on the competition has become a race more fiercely fought than ever before. Little wonder then that most clued-up companies are keenly scanning their markets for emerging trends in customer behavior - so they can move faster, innovate in the right areas and be positioned not just to respond to demand - but to play the covetted role in creating it. This drive (or paranoia) undoubtedly funds a wealth of highly credible 'Predictions' reports from the big global consultancies, media providers and their associated entourages.

Looking at this high-brow and informative stuff, you could be mistaken for thinking that predictions are the preserve of braniac analysts and statistical wizards - but on further investigation, it seems this need not be the case.

Whilst there will always be a place for well-researched, statistically valid trend analysis and prediction - the web now provides some rudimentary tools that make armchair trendspotting a reality for your average Joe (and Joanna).

Take a look at the Google Zeitgeist review of 2006 and you get an insight into the power of Google. Not only does Google deliver information to the information hungry masses with speed and simplicity that is pulling c1 billion search requests daily, but the guys at Google are also building an arsenal of consumer insight that is likely to remain unrivaled - in the near future at least. As if this wasn't enough, Google also distill the spirit of the age down into a easily quaffable monthly shots - meaning you and I can take a regular look at what's occupying the collective consciousness of countries all over the world.

Given tools like these - and the access to ideas enabled by the power of the giant search engines - anyone with half a mind, a dose of intuition and a good measure of common sense can synthesise their own predictions for the year ahead. These thoughts may score low for originality, but will be high on interest if January's media is anything to go by. And then there's the added bonus (once you've committed your predictions to hard or soft copy) of feeling entirely smug if you're proven to be a zeitgeist master, once the new year hangover has worn off NEXT year.

23 Jan 2007

Content is King

Content may well be king, in our reformed digital age. But as a newborn blogger, with today as my birthday, I find myself thrust into this brave new world, with no content to speak of. My blog is naked and my inadequacy in content generation exposed.

My experiment - to see how long it takes to clothe myself. And how long it takes to attract some passers-by to take a look at my new threads.

How does one get ones-self seen?

And how do you figure out if your new gettup is judged to be Primark or Prada?

More research required. And fast. FT.com 2006