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If you’re using Google Reader…

You’re probably aware that Google is terminating Reader on 1st July.

So if you, like me, are a long-time user of Google Reader, it’s time to say goodbye to a small part of your daily routine, and embrace the future by subscribing to Wishful Thinking either via email, or via RSS in a new reader.

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Image by AlexWhite via BigStock

Social Media and Community Sport – Channel 4 Thursday 1st May

Celtic football club

Photo by LittleMissSilly

I’m on a panel next Thursday 1st May, at All Together Now – Social Media and the Future of Community Sport, a joint Sport England and Channel 4 event at the Channel 4 building.

This is what it’s about:

Over the course of the past three years the emergence of blogging, social networking services and platforms which showcase and share user generated content have transformed the possibilities of how we connect, converse and collaborate with one another.

’In the 20th Century, we were defined by what we owned, in the 21st Century we will be defined by what share and give away’ Charles Leadbeater, author of We Think

The potential for organisations and brands to harness these technologies and tools to engage with users, customers and their communities in radically new ways is becoming clear.

How can all those organisations working to promote active participation in sports and the brands that wish to sponsor their activates and campaigns work together to make the most of the unrivalled viral power and network effects of the web in the run up to 2012?

Other speakers will include Thomas Godfrey, Commercial Director of Sport England, Jon Gisby, Director of Technology and New Media at Channel 4, Rebecca Caroe, Gi Fernando of Technlightenment, Antony Mayfield and Ed Mitchell.

I’ll be there as an ambassador for social media, to share my experience of blogging, social networking, Twitter, etc. and give the representatives of sports organisations some idea of the possibilities and pitfalls of engaging with people via the web.

After receiving the invitation I was struck by two thoughts: 1. How much time I spend on football messageboards when I should probably be doing something else, and following on from that, 2. that sport may be the ultimate social object [WARNING: cartoon with rude word] i.e. conversation starter and social catalyst. If I meet a stranger and they let slip they’re interested in football, I know we’ll have plenty to talk about and there will be no awkward silences (well not unless they turn out to be a Rangers fan).

So it looks to me as though sports organisations have an open goal in front of them – they have something that most people love to talk about and nearly anyone has an opinion on. But will they slot the ball calmly home or sky it over the bar? Or will they be fatally distracted by the animated advertising board behind the goal?

There are still a few free tickets left, so if you’re interested in any combination of social media, sport and marketing, then register for the event, ask me some easy questions during the debate, and come and say hello afterwards.

If you can’t make it on the day but you’ve got any thoughts on how sports or other organisations should engage with people via social marketing, please leave a comment below. I don’t think I’ll be able to link to you from the stage but I’ll certainly Twitter my thanks if I use any ideas from the comments.

Thanks to Steve Moore of Policy Unplugged for inviting me to join the panel and giving me an excuse to post a photo of Celtic.

EDIT: I’ve posted my presentation slides to Slideshare. You can probably tell I was trying to keep things as simple as possible.

Ed Batista Questions Mark

Question Mark

Photo by -bast-

Fellow coach Ed Batista has published a three-question interview with me. I always think you can tell good coaches by the questions they ask, and Ed’s questions prompted me to reflect on my work and explain some things I hadn’t consciously thought about before – thanks Ed!

As well as enquiring about my work and use of technology, Ed held me to account by asking how my New Year’s Resolution is going – if you want to find out whether I’ve kept it, you’d better head over to Ed’s blog.

PS – If you were following my Twitter feed you’d have heard about this interview last week, as well as the Jill Bolte-Tayor video and free tickets for Charles Leadbeater’s talk about creativity and the internet. On the other hand, you’d also have heard about me watching football on TV and using the wrong end of my Wacom pen, so I guess it all evens out.

6 Reasons Why I Was Wrong About Twitter

Twitter bluebird
When I first heard about Twitter, I was horrified. Of all the weird and wonderful internet applications I’ve come across, this sounded like one of the more banal and pointless. But recently I’ve been forced to eat my words. I’m a convert. Here’s why…

What is Twitter?

If you’ve never heard of Twitter, this is the basic idea. You sign up for account at Twitter.com Whereupon you’re faced with the question What are you doing? and a box where you can type your answer in not more than 140 characters. When you’re done, hit the update button and your ‘Tweet’ (yes, they really call them that) is published on the Twitter site.

Each time you add a Tweet, it appears on the same page, which also has an RSS feed so people can sign up to ‘follow’ you. As an example, here’s my Twitter feed.

You can also ‘follow’ other people and have their Tweets delivered to you. Here’s the feed of people I’m following.

Why 140 characters? Because that’s the maximum number of characters in a standard text message on a mobile phone (or SMS message on a cellphone as I believe they are known over the pond). So not only can you follow people on the Twitter site, you can also send and receive Tweets on your mobile phone – i.e. you can be connected to Twitter anywhere with mobile phone reception.

Why on earth would you want to do any of that?

Good question. I couldn’t imagine why anyone would want to do it, so I didn’t, for ages. Even when people I respect were enthusing about it. Over a year ago I remember Russell teasing me about being behind the times, but as far as Twitter was concerned, I was happy to be a Luddite. It sounded like a combination of all the bad things about digital communication rolled into one, with none of the plus points.

Over the past year I’ve become increasingly mystified by the number of apparently sane and intelligent friends and acquaintances urging me to join them on Twitter. To the point where, like Facebook last year, I got the distinct impression that if I didn’t join in, I was missing out on something. [Read more…]

Aids to Navigation

Compass

Photo by art_es_anna

I’ve added a Best of Wishful Thinking page to the left sidebar, to help you get at the ‘good stuff’ from my back catalogue. I’ve worked out what the good stuff is using a secret algorithm combining page views, comments, incoming links, Google page rank and the phases of the moon.

Channel 4 Podcast – Why Blogging Is More Fun than Interrupting a Stranger with a Phone

New Media 4Cast

Social media enthusiast and all round good egg Antonio Gould recently interviewed me for one of Channel 4’s New Media 4Casts. I talk about the difference blogging has made to my own business, particularly in terms of making new friends and attracting new clients without having to interrupt them with a cold call. I also offer some suggestions on planning and writing a blog to promote your creative business.

The blogs I mention in the podcast are Copyblogger (excellent advice on writing blog posts), Gapingvoid (weird and wonderful uses of a blog – i.e. using rude cartoons to sell South African wine, Saville Row suits, Scottish feature films and Microsoft), and David Airey (great example of using a blog to growing your business as a creative freelancer).

If you’re considering starting a blog you should also have a good look at Problogger (start with his series on Blogging for Beginners) and read every single post on Skelliewag (there aren’t that many, but she’s achieved phenomenal success in a few short months – and tells you how she did it.).

The programme also features Emily Martin talking about how she makes a living as an artist from her beautiful Black Apple blog and Etsy shop – well worth checking these out if you want to use the internet to sell your artwork or other products.

Another contributor, Nick Booth, offers some excellent practical tips on podcasting and videocasting, and how letting go of copyright control can benefit you as a creative professional.

My bit starts at 7.50 but I recommend you listen to the whole thing, particularly if you’re relatively new to the whole social media/blogging scene. Antonio has done a terrific job of assembling the interviews to give an engaging overview of the possibilities for artists and other creative types.

As they say in all the best cheesy commercials – it worked for me, it could work for you too.

Bonus links: my pages on Blogging for Creative Professionals and why A Blog Is for Life, Not Just for Christmas.

Would You Like to Write a Chapter for the Age of Conversation 2?

Age of Conversation
One of the big events in blogspace last year was the Age of Conversation book organised by Gavin Heaton and Drew McLellan. It featured contributions on the theme of ‘conversation’ from over 100 marketers, writers, thinkers and creative innovators, including David Armano, Roger von Oech, Tony D. Clark, Richard Huntington, Mark Earls, Steve Roesler, Mike Sansome and Thomas Clifford. As well as being a great read, the book raised funds for Variety, the children’s charity. You can get a copy and learn more at the Age of Conversation blog.

And now Gavin and Drew are doing it all over again – and giving you the opportunity to write a chapter for the follow-up book. I’ll be writing one – if you want to join me and the other authors, visit Drew’s Marketing Minute for details of how to sign up.

Whether or not you write a chapter, you can help out by voting for the theme of this year’s book. The three options are:

  • Marketing Manifesto
  • Why Don’t People Get It?
  • My Marketing Tragedy (and what I learned)

Personally I’d love to write about ‘Why Don’t People Get It?’. I have lots to say about that, the (fun) challenge would be fitting it into 400 words. I can’t claim to be a marketer so am not so wild about the other options, but I’ll have a go if that’s what the people decide. Cast your vote on SurveyMonkey.

The Full Feed Will Be with You Shortly

Chicks waiting for a good feed

Image by Nooij

If you read this blog via RSS you were probably surprised by the abrupt switch to partial feeds last week. I know I was. I’ve always published full feeds because most subscribers prefer them, so it took a bit of detective work to unravel the Mystery of the Incredible Shrinking Feed.

The problem was caused by upgrading to WordPress 2.3 last week – apparently it is now a ‘feature’ of WordPress that if you use a <!–more–> tag to just show the beginning of a long post on your home page, it cuts the feed off at that point. Which seems a bit odd to me. Now I don’t like to complain about the good folks at WordPress as they’re giving me a fantastic platform for free, so instead I’ll say thank you to Ronald Heft Jr for creating the Full Text Feed plugin to restore publisher choice in this matter.

I’ve installed the plugin and am hoping that’s the end of the matter. I can’t see the full feed in Google Reader yet, but apparently that’s because some RSS readers cache the feeds. Let’s put in a <!–more–> tag on this post and see if it works… [Read more…]

For Your Commenting Pleasure

Speech bubble

Image by Tim Morgan

I’ve upgraded the commenting system on this blog to make it easier and more fun to use. And hopefully more useful to you. There are now three new features:

1. E-mail alerts of follow-up comments on a post

When you leave a comment, if you check the following box before submitting it, then you will receive an e-mail alert next time someone (either me or another commenter) leaves a comment on the same post.

Switch on e-mail notifications

I love this feature when I find it on other blogs – it means I don’t have to remember to check back later and see whether the blogger or anyone else responded. It makes it much easier to have a real conversation via comments. It’s done with the magic of the Subscribe to comments plugin.

If you decide you no longer wish to receive alerts for that post, you can always switch them off – there will be a link in every e-mail alert that takes you to the page with the ‘off’ switch.

2. Your picture next to your comment (if you want it)

Have a look at the comments on the post about my Time Management for Creative People E-book. You’ll see that several commenters now have their picture next to their comment. How does this happen? I’ve installed the MyAvatar plugin, which means that if you have a MyBlogLog account, it will automatically display the image from your MyBlogLog profile and the image will hotlink to your profile page. If you’re not a MyBlogLog member but have a Gravatar portrait, it will show your Gravatar.

[Read more…]

What’s Coming Next on Wishful Thinking

Inspiration comes of working

Having taken a few steps into the New Year and received some great suggestions about what you’d like me to write about in 2008, I’ll pause for a moment to give you an update on some old projects and what to expect over the next few weeks.

New tagline: ‘inspiring creative professionals’

If you look at the header at the top of the page, you’ll see I’ve changed the tagline from ‘coaching creative professionals’ to ‘inspiring creative professionals’. This was partly (ahem) inspired by the beautiful folders in the photo above, which were a present from a friend in Japan. Apart from the fact that my research project revealed that some people in the creative industries are virtually allergic to the word ‘coaching’, these days coaching is only part of what I do – albeit a very important part. As well as coaching, my work now involves blogging, training, presenting and writing e-books – all of which are designed to inspire creative professionals.

And as a poet, I couldn’t resist the double-entendre of ‘inspiring creative professionals’ as ‘creative professionals who are inspiring’. That would be you, by the way.

So I’ve decided ‘inspiring creative professionals’ is much more it.

[Read more…]