Infographic Bonanza

In the last 12 months there has been an avalanche of infographics produced and consumed. They can not only be a useful way of explaining complex processes and situations, they are also easy to share and are ready-made for a content hungry audience.

But have you tried to create an infographic? They are challenging! You need to establish your messaging and understand the narrative you want to share with your audience. You need to cohesively design your infographic. And you need to make it interesting – the best seem to take us on a journey that engages and informs.

Little wonder then that sites like have started to appear. It’s a place to share and market your infographic skills. They are even planning on building out some data visualisation tools. Sounds great!

And to kick it all off, you can login via Twitter and generate your own Twitter infographic. Here’s mine. It seems that you really are what you tweet!

The Very Unofficial Facebook Privacy Guide

One of the inspirations for the Age of Conversation books that Drew McLellan and I have been publishing over the last few years is the concept that we are smarter than me. And every day, I see yet more evidence of this … that someone, somewhere out there has an insight, a piece of knowledge or a “social object” that perfectly solves a problem.

As a case in point, Angela Alcorn has put together this fantastic, unofficial, guide to Facebook Privacy. And in a time when the blurring between public and private, and between private and professional is causing us all some concern, this is a very useful and timely publication.

Download the guide from the website – and be prepared to be surprised. Your most personal information may well be being shared with people you don’t know (or don’t want to know).

A tip of the hat to Ian Farmer for this awesome guide.

Blogging for Small Business

Convience StoreI am often asked whether the strategies, ideas and approaches discussed here on my blog can be applied to small business. The answer, in the best marketing speak, is “yes” and “no”.

For while it is easy to get caught in the endless repetition of strategic planning, creating a continuous digital strategy can be quite fast. If you know what you are doing, you can knock it over in a lazy afternoon. Unfortunately, you can also easily fall into the state of “analysis paralysis” – where you are unable to shift beyond one part of a process due to the volume of information you are trying to assimilate. My advice is to start as SMALL as you possibly can.

DialupGuideToBlogging However, if you really are a small business and you want to get started with blogging – AND you want to do it in a way that is SCALABLE, can help you GROW your business and delivers RESULTS, then my advice would be to check out The Dialup Guide to Blogging.

I wrote this short (43pp), easy-to-read guide to blogging with the individual in mind – but the lessons and approaches apply equally to the small business. No matter whether your brand is personal or business, there is plenty to learn, and the book covers all the bases of digital strategy as well as the all important DOING IT part:

The book takes you through the practical steps of establishing your blogging objectives, creating domain names, signing up for a blog, creating your online "footprint" and writing your first posts. It is a must for anyone wondering HOW to get started.

And the best part – you can get it as a soft cover for those who are interested in “digital” but prefer non-digital books. Oh, and there is a downloadable eBook version too – for those too impatient to wait for delivery.

For the Love of the Story

In marketing when we talk about “engagement” with an audience, what we really mean is that we want to create an emotional attachment with each and every person who comes into contact with our brand. This is challenging, because each and every person is different.

There are, however, a number of things that we can do to reframe the experience of our brands. Fundamental to this is understanding the “like me” aspect of human behaviour. It works in two ways:

  • Public image – we mark our belonging in the world by performing (living our lives in public) our allegiances over and over again. This is a continual external manifestation of who we want to “be” and is shown in the clothes we wear, the car we drive, the places we go and so on. It is the mark of the tribe.
  • Self image – our internal identification where we appropriate behaviours, brands, celebrities, music and a million other cues from the external world. These are then processed and internalised before being incorporated into our public image.

Of course, there are massive overlaps and interplays between these two aspects (and I am describing a simplified model of identity), however, it is also a useful way of understanding what Mike Arauz calls desire paths:

… we often mistake chaos for randomness. It isn’t. Underlying random events is Desire as an organising principle. What this means is that we seek out, attract and are attracted to things that gratify our desires. And in the process we unconsciously order our world and make decisions and choices that obey the laws of desire – not the laws of logic. It’s why we buy things like Alfa Romeo cars and Ducati motorbikes – not because we are smart, but because we feel compelled to.

Perhaps it is the emotional interplay between the self and public image that is really what we mean by the term “personal brand”.

But what happens when these two elements are out of alignment? What happens when our self image is at odds with our public image? What happens when what we say is betrayed by what we do?

Natalie Tran, the creator of CommunityChannel – Australia’s most subscribed YouTube channel – has put together this sketch parodying the judges of the reality TV show Britain’s Got Talent. This short piece explains exactly this phenomenon – from the celebrity point of view.

But the fascinating story – and one which Britain’s Got Talent is exploiting so well at present – is the way in which contestants are, through the show, bringing their public and self images into alignment before our very eyes. It happened with Susan Boyle. And it has happened again with 10 year old Hollie Steele.

It is classic storytelling. We have a beginning, middle and end. We have a challenge or opportunity, a hero and certainly a villain. There is a climax, a transformation and, of course, catharsis. More importantly, for the Britain’s Got Talent brand, it generates tremendous emotional connection with an audience. There is plenty that non-entertainment brands can learn from this sophisticated approach to storytelling – but the most compelling aspect is that it starts with ONE person – and without that one person, the rest fails.

The Arrival of iMalcolm*

This week there has been much debate around the notion of digital identity. After all, just because someone owns a “username” or email address, it doesn’t mean that their identity can be assured.

Stephen Fry, a self-confessed gadget lover, is well known as a blogger, but his sudden appearance on Twitter saw a gold rush of a kind – with the digital network humming as word spread of his bonafide participation in the digital conversation. I am sure that I am not alone in thinking of printing and framing the confirmation email announcing my new connection to a very real celebrity. The important aspect of this, was not only how quickly it spread (after only days he is following around 5,500 people and has an almost equal number of followers), but that in the act of spreading there was an implicit validation – Stephen’s identity was confirmed by the community who propagated his participation. This has since been followed up by clever tweets that intertwine his personal, professional and geographic narrative.



Contrast this with the misguided attempt by National Australia Bank employees to generate conversation about their fledgling uBank online service. This probably would never have garnered much attention if NAB had not already weathered one social media storm. However, in an environment where social currency is dependent upon reputation and trust vests not in the brand but in the community you serve – a second opaque excursion into the blogosphere was always going to prompt a response. Both Stephen Collins and Laurel Papworth responded, “sniffing out” the fake identity and wondering where, exactly, NAB sources its social media strategy expertise. Clearly NAB did not anticipate or even understand the viral and contagious nature of online conversation … and the way in which TRUST permeates and underwrites all our interactions.

UPDATE: Charis Palmer over at the Better Banking blog confirms that has been PULLED and brings another viewpoint to the table. I have left a comment, but would love to hear your view as well.

iMalcolm So it was with some trepidation and mis-trust that the Twittersphere greeted the arrival of Malcolm Turnbull, Leader of the Federal Opposition (Twitter ID: @turnbullmalcolm). It was doubly confusing because we were also suddenly confronted with @malcolmturnbull (whose Twitter bio states “i is teh leaderz”).

In the first day, iMalcolm gathered a great deal of followers as the interest and contagion set in. He was, however, beyond frugal in the number of people he would, in turn, follow (day 1 score iMalcolm 443 vs the population 0). But around mid-afternoon today a change occurred, and iMalcolm began following those who had followed him. This reciprocation hit like a shockwave across the Australian Twittersphere. In response to a direct question (“can you please confirm …”) from John Johnston, the reply came: “@jjprojects it is me myself and as you can see I am still learning how it works. Cheers, Malcolm.”

While politicians in the US have welcomed the opportunities to reach, engage and activate the constituencies, it has been slow going here in Australia. In fact, the innovative approach that the Obama campaign have developed, I would argue, outstrips any efforts that have come thus far from brands or corporations. Perhaps iMalcolm has seen this potential. He has already taken on the lessons freely offered by the Twittersphere, and has a substantial web presence as you would expect. Interestingly, this extends to include a quirky (and humanising) dog blog. While iMalcolm has clearly arrived, I have a feeling we will be hearing a whole lot more from him – and don’t expect him to be disappearing any time soon. (Unlike some online bank.) 

And this, just in, from Julian Cole who has already found iMalcolm hitting the Twitter back channel during question time.


*iMalcolm – a real person tweeting in the name of another. From time to time, these identities will actually coincide with reality. Not guaranteed.

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Personal Branding Has Bred a New Culture of Extroverts

GuestdanGuest post by Dan Schawbel.  Dan is the lead personal branding expert for Generation Y.  He commands the world famous Personal Branding Blog, publishes Personal Branding Magazine, directs Personal Branding TV, and is the head judge for the 2008 Personal Brand Awards.

Never before has the web been such a friendly place.   Web 2.0 has opened a gateway for individuals to come together, in unison and speak to each other using platforms such as blogs, Facebook and even Google talk.  Those that used to be introverted, now have a safe place to express themselves and their point of view.  They even have the privilege of networking with others who share similar insight, demographic or geographic. 

Personal branding has paved the way for people to gain confidence in themselves and their abilities to deliver value, whether by expertise or content.  Why take a job that you aren’t interested in and doesn’t fit who you are as a person?  There’s no point, especially when you have tools ready and available to you to convey your passions, goals and subject matter knowledge. 

A lot of this new direction comes from people’s comfort and freedom to express their appearance, competencies and personality.  Personality can be clearly communicated through podcasting, either using YouTube, Google Video or hosting it on your own website.  Either way, you can attract others to your brand by displaying the person behind the brand.  The great part about the web now is that everyone has a voice, but still not everyone is treated equally.  Those that have superior brand names, will get their email read faster, their articles published quicker and larger scale opportunities.

The good news is that anyone can achieve success by developing their brand.  The bad news is that if you fail to bask in the greatness of web 2.0, you will lose your personal freedom and the ability to connect and reach hundreds of millions of people around the world.  Whether you are 18 or 56, or black or white, you can all be a part of this growing community and develop your skills to match new job requirements that are spawning as we speak.  Step out of your comfort zone and into a world where you can be recognized for YOU!