Archive for the 'Guest Blogs' Category

How to stop procrastinating and start blogging

Repost from The Social Penguin Blog

I’ve been meaning to write about procrastination but I keep putting it off! (Ba doom doom tish.)

This blog post has probably taken 2 months to write (and another month to publish..) Ok that’s a lie, this first paragraph took a few minutes to write the rest of it has kinda been stop start ever since. Procrastination is the thief of time so the saying goes and for all intensive purposes a blog killer. There is always a reason not to write, always something better to do, (since writing this paragraph I have wandered off to check Twitter, Facebook and Reddit a couple of times) and before you know it it’s been well over a month since you posted anything and your subscribers are deserting you.

This post isn’t by any means a sermon, I know full well how often real life gets in the way of best intentions, and I’m as guilty as everyone else at putting things off. (*cough last blog post was in April cough cough*) These tips below are just a bit of help to keep you posting content, even though you’d rather be doing something else.


Continue reading ‘How to stop procrastinating and start blogging’

Social Media – Sometimes it pays to say nothing

Repost from The Social Penguin Blog.

You’re an idiot and your product never works, I’m so never buying here again

You suck…

Ah social media, a happy place where everyone loves each other and no one is ever nasty or mean. Your brand is adored by all and the only things people have to say about you are sweet and nice. Of course the reality is that you are just as likely to be subjected to sarcastic, rude and down right abusive comments in social media as you are anywhere else. The big difference in social media is the speed (light speed it seems at times) at which things can turn ugly if you don’t have some guidelines in place to help.

Having clear terms of engagement is something that’s often skipped over when considering social media policies. (If you have them at all that is.) Most times it’s left to your own judgement when deciding who you should and shouldn’t respond to and if you haven’t invested any kind of training in to the staff who manage your social media you may end up like these cautionary tales.

The easiest way to stop this kind of mistake from happening is to provide your staff with guidance that clearly outlines, in a step by step process, exactly what action you should take for different possible types of comments you are likely to encounter.

Thankfully someone has already done that for you.

Airforce Principals

US Airforce Web Posting Assessment

Back in 2009 Capt. David Faggard, Chief of Emerging Technology at the Air Force Public Affairs Agency made this flowchart available, outlining how members of the the US Airforce should respond to any comments online discovered about the Airforce. There have been many attempts to change (or shamelessly rip off) this chart since 2009 but in essence it remains unchanged because it works well. As much you want to it tells you not to respond to that sarky comment, be a grown up and ignore it.

As smart and witty as your response may be, you just aren’t going to change this person’s opinion and are likely to make things worse by trying. It can be frustrating walking away in some situations, especially if like me your knee jerk reaction is to respond with exquisite dry sarcasm, but it really is for the best. If you refuse to engage then these people can’t get deeper under your skin. The chart helps you identify these potentially toxic situations so you can avoid them like the plague and although it’s meant for blogs it works just as well with other social media channels too.

The one problem I have with the chart is that it advocates “monitor only” or ‘report to your boss’ for some of the worst kinds of posts. I’m talking about the about the kind of posts that are frankly unacceptable anywhere, the ones that threaten, harass and intimidate. Sometimes people forget there is a human being at the end of the a faceless social media account and a simple polite message can be enough to get them to stop. (Though just remember how easy it is to take screenshots of private messages) If not, all the major social media channels have ways of reporting abusive behavior. You shouldn’t be subject to abuse in your workplace, even through social media which is why you need to take action if it becomes a recurring problem.

If only we could convince everyone to be nice and polite online, then no one would have to worry about responding to negative posts. Do you think if I baked some cake for the guys over at 4Chan they’d give the trolling a rest?

Social Media Dashboards, what makes us pay for them?

Two weeks back I posted this article on the Social Penguin Blog, I’ve been a little busy of late which is why I’m so late in posting here. As always you can view the comments from this post back on the Penguin, please feel free to add yours.

Previously we touched a little on the debate of free versus paid when it comes to social media tracking. I emphasised that even the free tools aren’t actually free when you account for the time you spend using them. So while it is possible to use free social media tools online to gather metrics, what you are saving in money you sacrifice in time. Deciding what is more important to you (time or money) can be a difficult decision.

When social media is done well it can be incredibly time-consuming so it’s no surprise that those of us that can afford it would gladly pay not to have to worry about dealing with the more extensive tasks involved with social media marketing. Less time spent on fiddly things like metrics means more time you can spend on fun things like creating great content, developing relationships or pursuing new business opportunities which is why dashboards have become increasing popular as social media has become an accepted part of the marketing mix.

For those of you who aren’t on social terms with Dave our resident expert social penguin let me share something with you. He’s pretty tight money wise (I mean it’s not like he has pockets to keep cash in is it?) so when I approached him to ask for some cash to try out some of the pricier social media dashboards on your behalf he told me in the politest fashion to take a hike. However all was not lost as our friends at Sodash offered us a trial of their software instead. We at the Social Penguin Blog always try to support the “local” talent in Scotland so we were pleased to be able to talk about paid dashboard services developed here in Edinburgh.

Sodash platform showing searches

Sodash platform showing searches

Sodash was created by Daniel Winterstein and Joe Halliwell of Winterwell Associates originally for an environmental group called Restore the Earth to help promote their campaigns and encourage people to make a personal pledge as to how they were doing their bit to save the earth. Knowing that conversation was the key to engaging with people through social media Restore the Earth was looking for a platform that would help streamline the processes involved and so the earliest incarnation of Sodash was born. Sodash helped Restore the Earth connect with people, encourage them to pass on the idea of the pledge to their friends and the autotweet features meant they could retweet anyone taking part. The campaign was massively successful, gaining thousands of followers for Restore the Earth and the use of Sodash meant time was so appropriately managed it could be coordinated even whilst only checking the account once a day.

USP of the Social Dashboard

The features of a typical social media dashboard boil down to being an aggregator, they allow you to view the content that is relevant to you and your interests instead of viewing everything at once. This makes trying to co-ordinate any kind of presence on social media much more efficient as you don’t have to waste time trying to find the relevant conversations taking place, a dashboard will do that for you. They will also usually contain some kind of analytics function in-built or allow you integrate your Google analytics account.

What makes Sodash much more special than a typical dashboard is the artificial intelligence system in place that actually learns from your activities and will eventually begin to emulate them. Using a tagging system you can teach the software to do things for you such as identify positive or negative comments about your brand. More and more brands are using sentiment analysis in their social media metrics and whilst I’ve been dubious about how effective a computer can be at detecting the emotion behind a tweet it was fascinating to hear that Sodash have been trying to teach their system how to recognise sarcasm and jokes.

Sodash Filters and Tweet box

Sodash Filters and Tweet box

Unique from other dashboards is the way in which conversations are tracked through Sodash. The system allows you to easily keep track of how conversations play out between multiple users, displaying all the tweets from everyone who took part in the conversation. This is something that Tweetdeck in particular fails at, when using their “reply to” function it’s easy to lose other voices from the stream.

At the moment Sodash only works with Twitter however as part of their ongoing development plan integration with other social media platforms, like Facebook, is currently being explored. It will be exciting to see how Sodash will change and adapt to the different social environments of other platforms.

Free vs Paid-for

It all really comes down to what is more important to save, time or money? I can’t tell you what is right for you or your business as everyone’s situation is different. Personally if I could afford to I would use a paid-for dashboard as I have had firsthand experience of how long it can take to perfect a social media monitoring process and a dashboard would do all this for me. However not being a brand or organisation of any kind it’s hard to justify using a dashboard when there are very little people to connections and tweets for me to manage. Often people will use free tools initially and turn to dashboard services when their usage and levels of online engagement have grown too large for them to manage otherwise.

Dashboards are also perfect for people who don’t feel they have the experience or confidence to get started in social media by themselves. In an ideal world we would have the time and inclination to use and learn from the many free tools available online. The reality is that many aren’t prepared to invest the time needed to develop something from the ground up, they want results now and dashboards can offer an element of that.

Thanks to Kelly for another great post and to Sodash for letting us use their service. If you would like to learn more about Sodash you can find them at

The blog hasn’t died honest

Sorry for the silence of late. I have been neglecting this poor little blog of late in favour of other projects, some of which are very time sensitive like desperately attempting to finish crocheting a baby blanket for my friend before she gives birth.

I’ll be posting a bit more content in the next week or so, perhaps most notably my recipe for whoopie pies since far too many people have come here looking for one (and been disappointed.) In the mean time you can content yourselves by checking out my recipe for Red Velvet Cupcakes over at the Edinburgh Foody Blog.

Guest Blogging at the Social Penguin: Our guide to Social Media Analytics

Check out my latest post over at the The Social Penguin blog this week, I’ll be taking a closer look at some of the free online analytic tools I used in my first guest post back in April on Illegal Jacks social media campaign. Social Media Analytics isn’t a “black art” and I’ll dispel some of the myths by looking at 3 tools that are incredibly easy to use.

Check it out here and remember to add your comments, Dave the Social Penguin likes to hear your thoughts.

Guest blogging at the Social Penguin again.

I’m featuring on The Social Penguin blog this week, talking about the rise of Egosurfing and why it’s not just for the narcissists among us. It features some really insightful research by the Pew Research Centre on managing your internet image.

Check it out here.




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