Archive for category: Social Media

Do You Have A Personal Social Media Tone of Voice?

06 Jul
July 6, 2014

So if you read my tweets after about 7.30 on any given night, you’ll know I have an unhealthy appetite for reality TV. If you follow me for a 6 week period over June and July during State of Origin, you’ll know I tend to get very vocal about the game.

I’ll pass judgement on contestants or the other team, because that’s what any supporter would do, and there is a conversation to be part of.

Through all of it though, fired up passion is tempered and guided by what I have deemed my personal social media tone of voice guidelines.

Why is this kind of guideline important?

Those of us who manage corporate social media know the importance of a tone of voice guideline for a brand, one that embodies the spirit and matches the impression we want people to have of the work that gets done.

So why should your personal use be any different?

Every day, your digital footprint is getting bigger, and more of that content is being captured and indexed for all to see. If you’re trying to build a name for yourself, in any industry, this is something you need to be conscious of. Employers are increasingly using social to screen candidates – what will they find when they look at yours?

I’m not talking about a formal document, just a set of guiding principles. For a lot of the time, and I am sure for a lot of people, this is second nature.

My Rules of the Road

There are always considerations before I post anything.

Is what I am about to post likely to offend, or create debate? If it’s the former, why do I need to post it? If it’s the latter, am I willing to engage in the conversation and back it up?

Are there any commercial arrangements with my employer that I need to be aware of? As I have spoken about before, disclaiming your opinions as independent of your employer can mean little, and shouldn’t be used to abdicate responsibility for your actions.

Two smaller considerations – with the exception of Facebook, nothing featuring kids or family. And I never swear on social – it adds nothing, and uses up characters…

Does this take away from your being genuine, being one of the key tenants of social? Absolutely not. You can still be genuine on social media without having to post everything that pops into your head.

It’s Still You

Regardless of what sort of guidelines you have for yourself, it still has to be you. Think about it as aspects of your personality.

I am very deliberate in how I use the channels I am across, and the narrow choice of channels I use makes it easy:

Facebook – A place to be myself. These people know me, they’re friends and family. Privacy settings mean I can disagree and debate, and talk about the things that they expect me to talk about, and perhaps be a little more free and easy than I would be on Twitter.

Twitter – Here, I share my thoughts on a variety of things, posts I find interesting, replies to people I agree or disagree with (guided by the above), and being part of the conversation about things taking place. There’s probably more consideration here about what I post than anywhere else.

LinkedIn – purely professional, here I post stories and links that are all business and represent points of view I think are worthy of sharing. It’s about giving those who follow my updates an insight into how I think business wise.

So that’s it – as I said, it’s not a formal, written policy, as a corporate TOV may be. But it’s no less important to your personal brand to be guided by some principles.

What about you? Do you consider how and what you post in line with beliefs or a tone of voice guideline?

This post was featured in my SlideShare – 6 Steps to Better Twitter Citizenship

PHOTO – Dwayne via Flickr

5 Tools and Tips for Managing Social Throughput

12 May
May 12, 2014

I was asked the other day how I manage to consume so much information via social and find things that I think are worth sharing back out across platforms like Twitter and LinkedIn.

The flood of information now coming via the web and social is something we all manage in our own way, so here are a few tools and methods I use to manage the flow of information both ways.


It has its shortcomings for many people (layout challenges and no mobile app to name two), but for me Tweetdeck is one of the best ways to manage the Twitter content. Managing a number of accounts as I do, it’s easy to have them all in one place and the tools I need to manage them available in browser and on desktop.

A few tips:

  • Get your columns in order. In general, I have two for each account I manage – stream and mentions. Then a column for related search terms, indirect mentions (those that don’t use the @) and misspellings. Then some of my lists, and then an additional one for any hashtags I want to track use of.
  • Move your columns around using the settings diagloue in each one. One of the shortcomings is the layout (you’ll need to scroll left and right to see all columns, rather than tile them), so bring columns to the left that are the most important, or the ones you need to be watching closely at a point in time.
  • While you can manage multiple accounts, make sure your default account is set to the one you use the most. It sounds obvious, but that way any actions you perform, particularly as you favourite and RT content, come from the right account. Nothing worse than a tweet going from the wrong account.

Twitter Favourites

While not necessarily a tool, the Favourite function on Twitter seems to mean different things to different people using the platform. Personally I prefer to use them as a basic bookmark that allows me to capture someone’s 140 characters in my fast moving feed.

Once I have had a chance to come back and read them, I will often unfavourite them and move them into somewhere else if I find them worthwhile enough – maybe add the article to Pocket, Share it out via Buffer or make some notes on it in Evernote.


Everything I find interesting from a site / article perspective and think could be useful later goes into Pocket. I use the browser plugin on both Safari and Chrome to capture and categorise anything I find.

One pitfall if not used to its full potential is that it’s very easy to clip and forget content, and before you know it, you have thousands of articles with no idea of why you captured them in the first place. So:

  • Make time regularly to clear out / tidy up your Pocket. I do it twice a week.
  • Use the tag function, and be consistent with the tags you use.
  • Set it up on your phone also. It takes some fiddling on an iPhone to get it done, but the amount of content I find while mobile browsing makes it worthwhile.


Evernote has become something of an indispensable tool for me.

I use it across both desktop, web and mobile (depending on the situation) to capture pretty much everything – meeting notes, ideas, photos of things I think will be interesting to share or write about, blog thought starters, or article snapshots that I want to mark up with my own thoughts.

There’s plenty already written about this amazing tool, so here’s three tips to make it easy:

  • Make sure you use the notebooks – you can spend forever trawling your Random Notes, make it easy on your self.
  • Use tags to make it easy to search and group notes
  • Go Premium. I’ve been using it for years, and the additional features come in very handy when you reach a mass of content.


Once I have found and captured interesting content via any of the above, Buffer has become an output tool I use pretty regularly. I’ve always been on the fence about scheduling of content (and if I was honest probably erring on the side of “don’t”), but Buffer has made it very easy to do, and with a greater degree of flexibility than most. There’s nothing more annoying to have a Twitter feed flooded with a dozen updates from the same person, wallpapering your feed. Buffer helps avoid that occurring when you share.

There are also decent anaytics attached to it to measure the performance of what you share.

A few tips for using Buffer:

  • Work on the times to share. Buffer will pick times by default, and will schedule your content accordingly. Experiment with adjusting these times to see what if any impact they can have.
  • Don’t add time sensitive content to your Buffer. For example, if I wanted to share an update about Twitter’s share price, adding it to my Buffer would put it in  queue and potentially make it irrelevant by the time it publishes. Try using the Share Now function within and only buffer evergreen content.
  • Make sure you also move your messaging around once you’ve buffered it. I have at times found that a number of updates I have queued up one after another are similar in tone / topic. Drag and drop them to mix it up.

These aren’t the only tools I use, but form the most common ways I consume the flood of information out there.

So what about you? Any tools you use to manage the flow of information?

PHOTO – Iain Browne

Social and the Myth of Millions

03 Jul
July 3, 2013

Facebook has over a billion users. Twitter has over 500 million registered users. More than 100 million people actively use Instagram.

If there is one thing social media is not short of, it’s a lot of users.

People get excited about big audiences, and when you have platforms built for sharing reaching tremendous scale, the cumulative interaction is also large scale.

But what do those big numbers mean for your business?

Potentially nothing.

The Reality

Australia’s Facebook user base is somewhere around 12 million people, yet last week I heard a speaker tell a crowd that unless you are on Facebook, you’re missing out on a potential audience of a billion people.


Do you sell every product ever made? No. Do you ship worldwide? Not necessarily.

Unless you are, you never have any chance of reaching anything near approaching this number. Coca Cola is a global brand and the most liked brand on Facebook, and it has around 69 million fans. Big number? Sure. Close to a billion? Not really.

When you establish a business, you want as many customers as you can get, but you are realistic about the audience for your product. The same should go with using social.

It’s not to say you can’t reach a much bigger audience with it, but be honest with yourself, governed by the product you are selling, the kind of people who will want it, and the fact that you are marketing it on the audiences terms and with their permission.

And then there is engagement

Say you do begin to amass large numbers of fans and followers.

Facebook research pins people who return to a page they liked on Facebook at about 2% (I should probably mention that I’m not anti Facebook, and that I use it merely as an example). So right off the bat, 98% of people whove connected with you dont like you enough to come back. Does that sound like an engaged audience to you?

Add on top that your posts only reach about 16% of your audience in their newsfeed due to EdgeRank, and all of a sudden this mass reach platform is getting smaller and smaller.

300 million photos are uploaded to Facebook every day. Awesome. For Facebook.

For me as a small business owner, or even a big corporate using the platform, it just means that I’m competing with 299,999,999 other photos on any given day for a view or a share.

Don’t use mass numbers to justify doing anything. Work out how you can realise a business goal with social.

The potential millions are, for most brands, a myth. Remember, platforms are global, most customers and products are not.


PHOTO – Horia Varlan via Flickr

The Generational Gap of Understanding in Digital Media

28 May
May 28, 2013

I spent last Friday night at a Sydney Writer’s Festival event featuring Joe Rospars, Barack Obama’s Chief Digital Strategist, called Crafting the Message. The discussion, which was moderated by the ABC’s Leigh Sales, was all about how election campaigns are built and run.

Joining him onstage was Neil Lawrence, the ECD of STW, and Grahame Morris, a former chief of staff for John Howard and longtime Liberal political figure.

Obviously Australian and US politics have some big differences, namely when it comes to compulsory voting. But ultimately, you are selling a product. And what struck me the most from the discussion was the great generational divide that seems to exist in understanding the audience.

Joe talked smartly about things like data mining, content creation and rich audience profiles – all hallmarks of marketing in the digital age.

By and large, Grahame and Neil spoke about slogans on TV ads (Neil most famously was responsible for Kevin Rudd’s 2007 campaign), and trying to distill what a candidate was about down to something that fit in that space.

When asked what, if anything, they could learn from Joe and the experiences he had, they were quick to point out that the things they believe were done well were almost irrelevant in Australia because we don’t need to expend energy during a campaign on fundraising or convincing people to go to the polls.

It felt like an incredibly short sighted point of view, shared by two reasonably influential image makers in Australian politics, that the use of digital technology could not do anything for the purposes of conveying different messages to different audience. They believed that direct mail and mass market TV commercials covered their needs.

By comparison, the US campaign created around 4,000 pieces of video content alone to reach different audiences around the country.

The reality is that we generate a lot of data. In fact, we produce more of it than ever before. New platforms have given us a voice to express approval and disapproval, outrage and happiness and pretty much every other emotion.

While politics is one of those things that, alongside religion you try and steer clear of, social media has given us a place to have the discussions on a wider basis not only with our friends, but strangers.

We talk about issues in depth, we share content about things that matter to us, and we debate it amongst each other. For politics, and a party looking to understand what the public wants, you have a focus group like no other.

While the parties use these social platforms to push their messages out, and many politicians are “on Twitter”, if the discussion at the Writer’s Festival is anything to go by, there has been very little thought of leveraging the goldmine of opinions and feedback to truly understand what is really important, or understand the effectiveness of the message they think we want to hear.

It is a generational divide – the advances in the last ten years of communications tech has probably been the most rapid in the last half a century.

Brian Solis talks about Digital Darwinism – when technology and society are evolving faster than the ability of an organisation to adapt, and in a lot of ways we think of this through the lens of traditional business models.

But is Australian politics suffering from the same affliction? When I hear discussions like this that continue to talk about the effectiveness of techniques that are 30 years old, I think so.

PHOTO – tvnewsbadge

How Will Yahoo! Monetize Tumblr?

22 May
May 22, 2013

Now that the dust has settled on the speculation, buzz and ultimate confirmation of the Tumblr purchase, the next big question is how will Yahoo! make money from it?

I’ve watched with interest as Yahoo! CEO Marissa Mayer has struck a number of deals and partnerships to bring the once great portal back to relevance to different audiences and make the experience more personal.

This week saw the integration of Twitter into the homepage, and recently Summly into the news app. In both cases, these are improvements to the core platform that make the experience more sticky and engaging – and therefore more sellable.

But Tumblr an interesting one.

It’s been widely reported that Yahoo purchased it to give them access to and make them “cool” amongst the youth audience. But has the purchase automatically made Tumblr less cool to that very audience, and will that send them elsewhere? Probably not enough to make a significant dent in the user base.

At the risk of alienating users and making the purchase less effective, they have stated that it will remain a stand alone business, but as with any company, there is a need for it to make money, something that Tumblr on its own has struggled to do (they’ve only recently rolled out mobile ads).

Which then brings up the question of advertising and content.

For a large number of brands, UGC has been an area that few have wanted to go near. Facebook has successfully managed to monetise the content generated by their audience through targeting not specifically on what is created, but through relevance based on the audience’s interests and the social graph.

Tumblr to my knowledge is missing the social graph piece, with very little by the way of rich user data outside of demographics.

When it comes to the content itself, it can be really hit and miss. In fact, a large percentage of Tumblr is adult content, taking out a large chunk of advertisable inventory, as no one will go near it (at least no one that Yahoo! would sell to).

Native advertising makes the most sense, as the noise coming from users about leaving the platform would become deafening with the addition of standard banner advertising.

Obviously Yahoo! will begin to data mine Tumblr, and greater targeting capability based on user journeys across the Yahoo! network also make sense, but it begs the question of what kind of duplication there is between the audience of Tumblr and that of Yahoo!.

But with a $1.1 billion price tag, there is one thing you can be sure of – that the board will be looking for something in the form of ROI – and quickly.

PHOTO – Adam Tinworth via Flickr