A rebrand can be a crisis – or an opportunity

If you need to say it, say it in Lego. Click image for source.

If you need to say it, say it in Lego. Click image for source.

Sometimes the value of the network becomes most apparent, when you most need it.

Last week, I announced my freelance copywriting status. It was a big step for me. But before I’d done anything ‘formally’, I updated my LinkedIn. Within half an hour I had three queries, one of which has turned out to be a hot lead. This surprised me.

I then posted about it on my blog. Through the magic of Twitterfeed, it appeared on Twitter. I then announced the change more directly on Twitter, as a more tailored Tweet. This did not result in new business but stimulated a lot of interest. On the back of it I’m hoping to meet up with several contacts next week.

However, my direct emails did bring in business. That is, the emails to the people I actually happen to know, who I’ve worked with in the past and treated well, and for whom I’ve produced good copy, resulted in several more leads.

As a result of which I already have good, solid business lined up and suddenly, the pipeline is hot. This is A Good Thing.

It may sound strange that I’m telling you this – as someone who has worked in social media professionally – but sometimes the proof can be astonishingly strong when you use it yourself, for yourself.

Basically I’ve rebranded, and whereas there is risk in this, you can come away with valuable new insights. Specifically:

  • Your blog is your base. Use it to explain what you’re doing, and why. I’ll be posting much more about social media and how it can help people, but also about the art and craft of copywriting. Hopefully, if you’ll keep reading me, you’ll see how the two can fit together nicely.
  • Your blog can also be a platform for other people. My new testimonials page is already growing, and while it’s an advert, it’s one put together with the help of people I’ve worked with in the past. In return, they get exposure and, where they’ve consented, links.
  • Twitter is your advert. It’s a soundbite. Put it out there for your quick fix. The effects are short term, but it’s a broadcast announcement and even just one or two returns can be worthwhile, providing you’ve been careful about the people you follow.
  • Twitter is also your moral support. I had a lot of great, positive feedback from my tweet, and even though it didn’t result in sustained interest, it helped. Does this affect the bottom line? Is it business sense? I’d argue that good morale always translates into a healthy balance sheet, even indirectly.
  • LinkedIn is your professional saviour. It’s strange how people dismiss it – I’ve heard so many people complain that they set it up then forget about it, so what’s the point? This is true, but the same could be said of that fire escape door you can see in the corner of the office. When you need it, you really do need it. I was frankly amazed at how useful I found it, and continue to find it even today.
  • Facebook feedback was much more along the lines of ‘very interesting, let’s meet up.’ Not direct business, but socialising. Networking. The sort of thing that leads to business, even among friends.

So you can cultivate your network, simply by staying in touch, not only proving your worth as a professional but even just sharing information, insights, even the occasional joke (yes, I have shared jokes in the past). In so doing, when you really need it, your network is there, ready to help.

If I were a company, I’d feel better knowing I had a supportive network. Hang about, I am a company now. Or am I a brand? Or a real person? Help!

And if you want to tweet anything, tweet this:
A rebrand can be a crisis – or an opportunity. Brendan Cooper on the power of the network when changing direction:  http://bit.ly/dc6Oz


Bookmark, tweet and blog at the same time with only two hands and one head

One issue I keep coming across lately is how to save money using social media.

This is a big topic, one that relates to so many others from measuring social media through to monetising it. But every little helps, as they say, and through the miracle of RSS you can make your content work harder by setting up mechanisms that mean you just have to do one thing, and the automation does two more on your behalf, or even three.

Key to this is the marvellous Twitterfeed. This very simple but incredibly useful resource takes any RSS feed and issues a tweet when it’s updated. You need to exercise care in how you use it – you don’t want to inundate people with useless tweets – but if you make sure you prepend different feeds with a small description explaining where each tweet is from, and tell Twitterfeed how often to tweet from each RSS feed and how many times on each occasion, it works.

Some people disagree. They say it’s necessary to customise all content all the time. This is an ideal I guess, but I’ve had pretty good results from just hooking everything up and letting it work. For example, people have said I provide nice links through Twitter, and that’s down to bookmarking for myself but using Twitterfeed to advertise these bookmarks to other people. But if you disagree then tell me – look , you don’t even have to comment, you can vote in the poll below right.

So, if you’re bookmarking, blogging or tweeting, here’s to make them all work off each other:

  • Blog and bookmark/tag at the same time. Delicious can post to your blog with a summary of everything you’ve bookmarked/tagged over the past 24 hours, via the Delicious blog posting feature. These are the ‘links for…’ posts you’ll see appear on here most days. The danger with this is that your blog could end up becoming a link-blog – that is, stuffed full of links with very little of your own thoughts in it – but you can still make this useful and informative through the ‘comments’ feature on Delicious, by explaining to someone why it’s useful. Let’s face it, that ‘someone’ is in fact you in about six months’ time when you can’t remember actually tagging it. I think it’s a really cool feature, enabling you not only to increase your library of bookmarks, but to tell people about it through your blog in one go. Heck, Steve Rubel uses it too so it must be cool, right?
  • Blog and tweet at the same time. This is how Twitterfeed markets itself. You blog, it tweets. And, of course, this takes the posts generated by Delicious too, so people will see a tweet entitled ‘New post: Links for…‘, and you never know, they might find it interesting.
  • Bookmark and tweet at the same time. Although Twitterfeed tells you to feed your blog to Twitter, what it really does is feed any RSS into Twitter. So, take your Delicious feed and plug that into Twitterfeed, give it the prefix ‘Shared’ or ‘Bookmarked’ and every time you bookmark an item, it tweets. This is for each and every bookmark you make as you make it, not just the summary, once-a-day blog post feature on Delicious. You could do the same with the RSS coming out of Google Reader’s shared feature too, maybe prefix that in Twitterfeed with ‘Google’. You could also be selective in what you share, by just taking the RSS from one tag rather than everything you bookmark. I’ve used the tag ‘forblog’, for example, so that I could control what went onto the blog and what did not.
  • ‘Like’ things on Friendfeed and tweet at the same time. You’re probably getting the message – yes, if you ‘like’ something in Friendfeed, that creates an RSS feed. So, you can plug that into Twitterfeed too, and prepend it with  ‘I like’ or some such thing before the tweet. (btw the example I’ve given doesn’t currently give any results because I haven’t ‘liked’ anything in Friendfeed for a while, but I’m still surprised Twitter search couldn’t find anything.)
  • Automatically tweet. This is probably the least ‘tailored content’ approach, but if you’re away from Twitter you can use Twitterfeed to tweet on your behalf completely automatically. I have a ‘Must Read’ RSS feed which comprises only the very best content from people who, over the years, I’ve come to trust to reliably post good, quality content. So, I pluck something from that once a day, prepend it with ‘MustReadFeed’, and out it goes. The counter to the argument that it’s not really tailored content is that, given I’ve made my ‘Must read’ feed available online, what’s wrong with highlighting one part of it? And you could also say I’m tweeting other people’s stuff, but how is that different from retweeting? I’m publicising these people, for free. I probably wouldn’t get much credence for doing just this and nothing else, but as part of the mix of the rest of my activities I think it’s acceptable.
  • Do it all with Yammer at the same time. I found out recently that Yammer now takes in RSS feeds, in exactly the same way as Twitterfeed. So you can do all of the above and post into Yammer at the same time.

You can probably do more than this. I know Ping.FM will post to multiple systems so there may be ways to get that to work. Facebook is also opening up more so I’d expect there to be much more content you can share across platforms using RSS. And in fact the more widgets and APIs become available, the more you’ll be able to share everything everywhere.

The more you can do, however, the greater the danger that you’re going to wind up with a load of automated content that is really not suitable in whatever form for whatever audience. You just have to be careful about how you use it. The way I see it, I’m just waving a little flag on each of these systems to alert people when I’ve done something. And if that’s not lifestreaming, I don’t know what is.

Not so much a Twitterer as a Twit

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Twitterfeed is quite cool. You can use it to take any RSS feed and push it into your Twitter account. So, I’ve set it up to cross-post when I add something to my blog, plus randomly pick something out of my PR feed every six hours. In this way, I’m using Twitter to maintain awareness but not actually have to ‘waste time’ typing up to 140 characters of banal nonsense every few minutes.

Great idea, right?


Increasingly I’m starting to understand what a ‘good’ Twitterer looks like. Check out Dave Fleet or Valeria Maltoni for example. Do you see what I see? Yep – lots of Tweets that are ‘@’ people. In other words, no random broadcasts, no pushed-out adverts from RSS feeds. Good Twitterers use Twitter actually to communicate and engage with people.

Furthermore, good Twitterers already seem to have a community of contemporaries out there. It seems that they use Twitter to keep in touch with them, rather than build up a community.

So I’m starting to think I may be more a twit than a Twitterer. I’ve been assured by some very knowledgeable people that I could be giving up a lot of good relationships and connections by using it simply as an RSS broadcast channel.

And this makes me realise that even though Twitter might be more effective with an already established community, it’s no different from other social media in that it is used most effectively when you engage with that community.

Which leads me to the real issue: finding the time. I need to find a way in which to maintain this blog as well as PNeo, engage properly through all the great social media resources at my disposal, as well as start cultivating more ‘real life’ relationships that can be sustained through Twitter. I need to engage with people as well as hold down a full time job!

I keep trying to make it to the Coach and Horses for the Friday social media cafe each week but find I need to stick around at Porter Novelli and get work done. But heck, if busy people like Neville Hobson can do this, then so should I.

So perhaps the real deal here is that I just need to get myself organised. I need to divide my time between these activities and let it be known that this is what I’m doing. So that next time I’m pulled into a meeting or a brainstorm or a conference call, I need to tell people that I’m, erm, going to the pub instead or, aah, writing on my blog. It’s a tough assignment but one I’m prepared to accept.