It got your attention anyway didn’t it? I read it in this month’s edition of Marketing Age the Marketing Institute of Ireland’s bi-monthly publication. It’s from their adaptation of Richard Laermer and Mark Simmons Punk Marketing Manifesto and it is point number one of 14. My main reason for mentioning it is by way of introducing the IIA’s twitter channel. “Ah now hold on”, I hear you say, “I’m only just getting the hang of this blogging business and you introduce microblogging!!” I’ve been microblogging myself since earlier this year and it felt like a good channel to connect with people who might be interested in the IIA, it’s events, members and opportunities so I took the risk and so far, so good. Try it out yourself. You can follow me, I’ll follow you. I know some of our members use it to great effect and hopefully they will add their comments below about their experiences. You can zone in on the Irish Twitterati at www.twit.ie – you’ll probably see some familiar names and faces.
Let me know if you are using other microblogging platforms and if you would like the IIA to contribute there as well and I will look into it.
Last Thursday I attended the IIA Event “Search Engine Optimisation and Marketing (PDF 2 MB)”. While I was happy to be there to represent the IIA as always, I was primarily there to learn like many of the other participants. Some of the other participants were there because they were planning to get their hands dirty and develop some killer AdWords campaigns for their own companies; some participants were there because they had found the “if you build it; they will come” approach hadn’t gone quite to plan; and some were there because they were planning to recruit SEO executives and wanted to ensure they were recruiting people with real knowledge and experience. Well more knowledge and experience than they got from a one day course! We were absolutely full to capacity and as the afternoon session was hands on and PC based we were lucky to be able to fit everyone. Lesson 1: if you see an IIA event that would benefit you or your company, book it immediately!
The trainer for the day was Michael Heraghty of Heraghty Internet Consultants and his coverage of the topic was extensive. It was apparent very quickly that he has the SEO knowledge and the passion for SEO that will keep that knowledge fresh in a fast changing area. I had been to a seminar on AdWords about two years ago and so much has changed even since then that I really learnt a lot. The content of the workshop also boosted my confidence in developing Google AdWords Campaigns. I think the main thing to remember in Search Engine Optimisation and AdWord formulisation is that all the Search Engines want to offer their users the best experience possible, which means serving them results with the answer to their query, preferably in the number one position. Therefore they are constantly tweaking and improving their search engines in order for them to search like humans who know where they are and who they are. I know that I am a thirty something in Dublin so when I throw the single word query “hairdresser” into a search engine I want to see results about hairdressers in Dublin. (There aren’t many with great websites anyway but that’s another day’s post!)
One of the most useful points, I thought, that Michael made was all about what I like to call “Link love” (a quick search of WordSpy suggests that it hasn’t entered the general lexicon however Blogossary (not a receptacle for dead blogs but a glossary for blogging terms) defines it as “posting a link to sites or blogs, usually unsolicited, that you enjoy, admire, or find useful.” The beauty of link love for the recipient is that it increases your ranking with Google because Google not only looks at the content of your own site but the content of the sites that link to yours and why they are linking to yours. It works out the “why” by examining their content and if it contains some of the same keywords, it’s a good link, a real link, a link full of love. The more links of love your site receives the higher you rank in the search results. However, this only holds if, for example, you are one of my mythical hairdressers in Dublin and your site contains the keywords hairdresser and Dublin and sites linking to yours contain the keywords hairdress and Dublin EVEN IF those sites are saying “Roseanne’s Hair Salon is the WORST hairdresser in Dublin” with links to my salon’s site, Roseanne’s Hair Salon. The old adage that it’s better to be talked about than not at all really holds true for search optimization. The next trick is to engage the aforementioned dissastisfied customer of Roseanne’s Hair Salon and see if you can put it all to rights. This is something which will no doubt feature in Thursday’s half-day event “Improving Online Results using Web 2.0” and which Keith Shirley discusses when he was writing about last week’s inaugural meeting of the Social Media Working Group.
02/09/2008: I am editing this section to clarify a number of points. You can see from the comments that it has generated some interest among bloggers.
Michael mentioned that a great way to boost your link love was to write a guest blog post (HINT!! HINT!!). EDIT: Also I also imagine that leaving comments on blogs that are likely to be published (i.e. helpful, objective and “soft” sell comments (Edit: Please see clarification on my use of the term “soft” sell below.)) is another way to get those lovin’ links going. It also occurred to me that another great way to increase your link loving is to log into the IIA extranet and post information (news, appointments, vacancies, special member offers) about your company. Another link in the chain of love that will help you creep closer to that coveted number one position. I look forward to reading all your news!
With all of this in mind I would like to make a suggestion. If you have tended an IIA event and are a fully paid-up member and would like to write a review of that event and how you feel the material will feed into your work and your internet strategy, I would love to hear from you. Post a comment below or email me at members at iia dot ie.
(By the way if you can’t get enough of this SEO stuff, Heraghty Internet Consultants have plenty of case studies in the Clients section of their site.)
EDIT: Soft sell: Let’s be clear, the IIA is a business association and so our members are in the business of turning a profit. This is the main goal of all resources spent on company time. The reason that they will undertake any blogging or commenting on blogs is that they hope that their engagement will reflect well on their products and services which in turn will lead to new customers or sustain relationships with existing customers. Like all other engagments there are rules. You wouldn’t roll into a meeting with potential clients unprepared or do a radio intervew without planning. Writing a blog or commenting on somebody else’s blog has the potential to attract as much attention as a radio interview. However as an employee of the IIA when I comment on a blog in a professional capacity I will always be doing it with the IIA’s mission and strategic goals in mind. It will, after a fashion, be a soft sell to encourage members to take a more active role or to encourage non-members to consider joining etc. even if I never mention these goals explicitly.
The following post is contributed by Brendan Hughes, Chair of the IIA Social Media Working Group. The IIA facilitate and support a number of working groups – information about all is available on our website. If you have a particular interest in any of them please contact me, Roseanne Smith, Membership, Marketing and Communications Manager at members at iia punc ie.
Last Wednesday night saw the first gathering in the Digital Depot of the IIA’s new Social Media Working Group. When asked by Fergal O’Byrne (CEO of the IIA) to chair the group I was happy to say yes as I see this an important development in the Internet landscape in Ireland. To my knowledge this is the first co-ordinated attempt to gather together social media experts and business people with a view to providing information and best practice advice for businesses. I am certainly not aware of any library or resource that is independent and can freely be tapped into – this is what we hope to deliver.
The meeting was attended by thirteen of the sixteen members of the working group (the other three had solid alibis and are still very much in the group). I’ll ensure that the full list of members is made available on the IIA site, but without mentioning people individually I’m very happy to say that we had a very impressive collection of people round the table. We had luminaries from the blogging community, academia, big business and small business, organisations serving big and small businesses, and people who are starting new businesses. What we had in common was a very clear belief that this “social media thing” is important for organisations, and an enthusiasm to get stuck into the detail.
Our task last night was to get to know each other and to tease out a little of our vision, scope and how we are going to work together. The vision has started out looking something like: “the group’s aim is to be the thought leader – developing and sharing insights – in the appropriate use of social media by businesses in Ireland”. We had lots of discussion, as you can imagine, around some particular words – “thought leader”, “appropriate use”, “social media”. This vision might be a little bold for a voluntary part-time group, but we’re going to stick with it for now.
Much of the discussion centred on how we would tackle our planned outputs. We intend to deliver white-paper documents on some of the key social media that are relevant to both small and large businesses in Ireland. Initially we are going to pick off blogging, social networks/online communities, audio and video podcasting, and RSS. On hold for now are collective intelligences (wikis etc), peer-to-peer networks, mash-ups, web services and instant messaging (and anything else that we haven’t thought of).
A question arose about how deep we should go on each of these and that discussion is still ongoing today. We are all agreed that the first and most obvious need in the market is for the simple guide to each of the social media mentioned. Once businesses understand what they are they will very quickly want to figure out what potential there might be for their business and what the rationale / business-case might be for engaging. We do intend to get stuck into all of this and I think we have the right people on board to make this happen.
In order to keep things manageable, I going to keep the membership of the group limited to the sixteen who are currently on board. We do however intend that the process should be outward looking and we will be inviting contributions from people outside the group. We are setting up a wiki to facilitate this. We’re going to try and use social media as much as possible in the operations of the group – in order to prove to ourselves at least how beneficial it can be. Our next meeting will be via Skype conference and we’ll be posting updates on progress over the coming months here on the IIA blog.
If you are interested in participating in the group please email email@example.com and we’ll put your name on the list if some of the existing members leave. And don’t forget to subscribe to this blog for the updates.
Bernie Goldbach of Tipperary Institute of Technology has blogged about the meeting describing us as social media plumbers who “understand the flow of conversations and how surges of information gurgle and sometimes spit in vitriolic ways.” Very nicely put, Bernie – thanks!
In today’s Irish Independent’s Digital Ireland supplement Marie Boran and John Kennedy take a different angle on social networking in an article entitled Bubble 2.0. (not yet available online – go on, go mad and spend €1.80 on a copy of the Indo!)
Edited 15:56: “Bubble 2.0: Are we about to witness another technology crash?” now online.
Those interviewed make some really good points. Conor O’Neill of LouderVoice points out that “historically bubbles are when all the great ideas and grand plans are hatched and tried”. I’m always reminded about my art history classes in school when I read comments about that: (early, classical and) high period wouldn’t have the same je ne sais quoi as bubble, would it? However technological innovations in painting, sculpture and architecture are plain to see as they are the cultural artefacts that are preserved in galleries, museums and cityscapes around the world. Which Web 2.0 app will be the Sistine Chapel of the future?
Our own Fergal O’Byrne comments that many Irish businesses that were established before March 2000 are still thriving. It is this very global success that attracts all sorts of visitors to Ireland to learn about how we do this so successfully.
Pat Phelan and Tom Raftery also talk sense. Pat refers to Facebook’s finances and wonders what your local bank manager, looking at a “negative cash flow of US$150m”, would think if you said “I have an estimated value of US$15bn just like Facebook!” Tom (who currently has posted a presentation about Web 2.0 toolset for business for those of you who just can’t get enough – looking forward to video of same) insightfully suggests that Microsoft’s purchase of Facebook was strategic: “The only logic to paying US$240m [for a 1.6% share] was to get Facebook valued beyond anyone else’s reach”. Mmm liking the taste of the wine from that poisoned chalice, Facebook?
Also interviewed in the article are three others who spoke at our recent Congress: Philip Macartney and Mark Charkin from Bebo with the last word going to Barry Meehan from Worldwide Cycles, living proof that blogging can make you money.
One thing that surprised me in all of this talk (and a delegate at the Congress also mentioned this to me) is the focus on advertising and marketing while there is scant talk about the collaborative power of web 2.0. The IIA recently set up a Social Media Working Group who specifically mentioned that, in order to undertake their work as a group they will be using Basecamp from 37Signals.com. I’d love to hear more about how companies are using online collaboration and wikis for their work. I would be particularly interested in hearing the experience of those who aren’t neccessarily tech companies like GPs or retail managers or those in tourism or to paraphrase the young people, “Whoever!”
I mentioned that I am in total research mode while finishing up my M.Sc. in Social Research Skills. So here goes my first attempt at picking your brains! Please tell us how does your business use social networking and new media technologies?
In advance of the IIA Congress 2008 “Beyond Websites: Business uses of Social Networking and New Media” (which I may have mentioned here once or twice 😀 ) we and our newest member, Ciall.com, would like to get some idea of how you use these technologies in your company or organisation.
We have developed a survey which will take no more than 3 minutes to complete. This survey asks 10 key questions about your experience and use of these technologies.
Take part in the survey and be in with a chance to win a 16GB Apple IPod Touch with thanks to the IIA’s newest member, Ciall.com. Ciall.com provide professional expertise to their clients in information systems, business process and strategic planning.
Take the survey now!
The information gathered in this survey will be anonymised. The resulting anonymised data will be shared with Ciall.com and key findings will be reported on the IIA website and in the press. If you have any queries please contact Roseanne Smith at firstname.lastname@example.org
A big welcome to our newest members Ciall.com. I had a very interesting conversation with Allen O’Reilly from Ciall yesterday. When he told me the company name I was all set to start blathering away “as Gaeilge” but sadly he was not the Gaeilgeoir in the company. They are indeed ciallmhar because they promptly joined the IIA.
Lack of Irish aside, they are a talented bunch with backgrounds in accounting, finance, information systems and project management. They are a consulting company who specialise in solutions built on MS technology. They expressed an interest in Web 2.0 (see you at Congress then!), Enterprise Resource Planning, Business Intelligence, Collaboration and Professional Services. If you think you could collaborate in a CIALLmhar way, why don’t you get in touch with them?