Key Advice Blog

Archive for July 2009

As I look out my window at the pouring rain I am two minds: bad for me, no biking or sunning today; good for the garden, river, fish, farmers. New media can be like that – a blessing and a curse. ON some sites people rave about you, on others they rage. How can you control the friend or foe option?

The short answer is you can’t. Social media is a ‘power to the people’ phenonmenon. But you can track, assess and develop a plan for how to use new media.

Today alone I heard about both a ‘friendly’ and a ‘foe’ approach to using social media sites.

Friends on Facebook are signing up to an ‘I hate B & Q’ campaign. There are only six signed up so far, but word travels fast on the web. And they are part of a growing ‘campaign’ component on social networking sites. An online search of ‘I hate B and Q’ netted similar perceptions/opinions on sites like Grumbletext, Consumer Action Group and Tilersforum. Conversely a search for ‘I love B and Q’ netted none in first page. Not a surprise. However, there were other positive sites and news.

B&Q aren’t seeming to suffer, with reported doubling of profits in sunny June. But, in this climate, no one can risk negative publicity. If you don’t want any surprise publicity about your business, keep track of what people are saying.

The Australian government has announced that in the future it will use Twitter and Facebook to send out bush fire reports to try and get information to people more quickly, after some people complained about not getting info fast enough to make a decision to stay or leave. This could be a life saving situation. And the commitment of large organisations to choose them, shows their commitment to the ability of these platforms to perform.

If you want to know what they’re saying about you online, use services like Google Blog Search, Technorati, Yahoo!Video and others. You never know where you might pop up!

Can Sir Alan Sugar in his new role as Government Enterprise guru really get entrepreneur and SME issues on the table?

With millions of workers facing the ‘you’re fired’ – or redundant, or on extended leave, or in a pay freeze – situation, the entrepreneurial route may be the only option.

Standing above the crowd

Standing above the crowd

Here’s my Sir Alan wish list:

1. make the tax system for SMEs simpler and fairer.
2. get the banks lending to SMEs again.
3. or create a gov’t backed SME bank to cover income blackouts.
4. give incentives to unemployed to start a business.
5. set up community cooperatives funding to help the really small businesses.
6. encourage established businesses to let staff work flexibile hours.
7. create a representative for SMEs in government.
8. run a national ‘entrepreneur apprenticeship’.
9. create a fund for service sector SME mentors.
10. get government ministers and staff out into SMEs for some photo ops.

Success is sweet. And our economy is becoming more and more entrepreneurial. Can we mix in the right government ingredients to bake up an award winning result?

Let’s hope Sir Alan can have a great influence and isn’t at the receiving end of his famous ‘You’re Fired’ phrase for not getting the new job done.

At the Social Networking Sites For Business talk I gave recently the thirst for tips on using these new platforms was insatiable. Which is a good thing. So the search was on for winning websites to help out. Here’s some to put in your favourites.

130+ Twitter Tips – from econsultancy is a one-stop guide to all things Twitter.

Social Media for Enterprise – is Mashable’s four tips for using social networking sites if you run a business.

Facing up to Facebook – Web Marketing Today will help you decide if Facebook is the face you want on the Web.

Developing a social networking strategy for your organisation involves all the same steps as any other business launch – research, planning, goal setting,  investing, training and evaluating. Good things come to those who wait take their time.

The BBC is being accused of ageism in the replacement of their Strictly Come Dancing show judge 66-year-old Arlene Phillips  by Alesha Dixon, 30. Ageism is not good, but it is good that it is on the media, public and government agendas. Why?

The media is an interesting beast: it reports on issues affecting organisations, but often seems ‘above the law’ under their own roof. With an ageing population, increased redundancies (in the media) often affecting people over 50, and a free speech society, it could be that the pot is about to boil over. We need to have an open, clear (plain language) discussion and ensure all are protected.

The ageism issue in media and the workplace is like the issue of movie roles for older actresses in the film industry. If you do a surf around the media it seems older male newsreaders are in vogue, and older female news readers are invisible. We can no longer dance around this topic. It is going to take centre stage.

Let’s hope Arlene’s army of supporters take this battle to a legal and rightful conclusion – and all the lessons learned (an overused phrase I realise) have an impact.

‘You’re never too old’ . I hope not!


BBC special web coverage of ageism laws (2007 July 17)

Guardian reports BBC denies allegations of ageism

Ask and you shall receive – go online and and ask you shall be followed. The power of the Internet voice could be heard shouting above the political rooftops from initiatives started by the famous and the person on the ‘Tweet’  like never before.

Vivienne Westwood is making global warming protesting fashionable – and I’m all for it. Whatever works. We need to make changes work. She invited herself onto Jonathan Ross (BBC) for a soapbox. Missed it,find out more (great links to other eco warriors)  or follow her eco works online.

You can sign up at Prince Charles Rainforest Project website, a protest gathering momentum with online signatures to put rainforest annihilation at the top of the politi-eco agenda. As you sign up, you can see how many square metres of rainforest are being destroyed in real time. Very scary.

But it was the person on the street who lead the massive protest against the 118 800 mobile phone directory company, putting privacy before public access and profits. The wave of people requesting to have their private mobile phone number removed from the directory swamped the site and Connectivity (the company behind it) got disconnected.

And the recent Iran new media protests – ‘Tear Gas and Twitter’ –  took the world by storm.  Power to the people.

But you don’t have to be famous, from a royal family, or a professional protester to launch a global movement. You simply need an internet connection, a cause and a social media platform – blog, face book, Twitter – and you can have an impact.

If you want to begin a campaign, here are some sites with insights:

 Online Protest – Does it work?

Questions to ask before starting a social media campaign

How to Start a Social Media Campaign (for business)

How to measure campaign success

Thanks fellow bloggers.

We went to the Greyhound Inn last night to hear some bands. Local music. Local food. Local pub. But, with one big plus – after closure was threatened the ‘community’ took over the pub. And, it is living proof that the true sense of community is alive and well.

They run with a combination of paid staff and volunteers. Everyone was super friendly – and this isn’t unusual – it just seemed they were so genuinely  happy to see us.

The local musical talent was bursting out – and lucky for us most of the Broughton in Furness area pubs feature musicians from the area. So the ‘Greyfest’ is now on the official music calendar!

Another community thing they do is have a ‘thank local suppliers’ wall with a sheet highlighting all local suppliers of goods and services – and this is repeated on their menu cards!

Many businesses could learn from this model. Why not drop in and see it with your own eyes.

According to a Twitter post from Leo White, Hydrant, the over 50’s are swamping Facebook.

The growth in over 55+ using Facebook went up by an astonishing 500+% in the first six months of 2009. reports that the phenomenon is ‘scarry’ in that the growth in young users is slowing down dramatically, possibly scared off by their parents and grandparents using it! I have another view.

As the economy shrinks and many are working from home, taking early retirement, or are truly interested in new media, it could simply be natural evolution. Afterall, I (am over 50), and have been using a computer to communicate in various ways for nearly 20 years. I am communicating with my peers on Facebook, not just the young people in my life.

There is room for all of us. And let’s not get into segmenting and ageism when looking at one of the most democratic forms of communications ever available to humans around the globe.


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