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Sunday, 12 July 2009

Blogging or lifestreaming for business?

There’s been a bit of a stushi over the last month with a key figure in the blogosphere, Steve Rubel, announcing he was quitting blogging for lifestreaming (posting snippets on micro media like Twitter).

I’m not ready to stop blogging, but I do love http://Twitter.com. I’ve found some of the more influential (rated by numbers of followers) tweeters on PR using http://wefollow.com and its tag search facility. You can use it to find good tweeters on any subject you want.

Interestingly, the tweeter with most followers (heading for 3 million at the time of writing) http://twitter.com/aplusk is not one of the many celebrity tweeters, but an entrepreneur. Although I guess he’s become a celebrity with that following.

By following the top PR tweeters, I’ve picked up great snippets of information with little effort as the 140 character posts are so succinct. And there’s a lot less spam on the direct messaging than my emails carry. That may change, but I can always turn direct messages off, because they give me control over the information I choose to receive.

Of course, many tweeters punctuate their nuggets of gold with trivia that only their best mate, their mum and partner would be interested in, and even that might be stretching it a bit. But you can stop following them, or hang in there for the odd nugget: the choice is yours. And the best build up a following by being interesting.

Stephen Fry’s tweets are often fascinating. But few can write like that. Or have the magnetic persona to rise above the trivial.

A persona largely forged by offline media.

It’s the interaction of the on and offline that is so powerful because we can make so much more impact by using different channels. Even when PR was largely offline, I wrote the DIY PR book (pub. Batsford 1998, now out of print but second hand copies are on Amazon if you want offline PR info) outlining 30 low cost ways to communicate, encouraging people to use a mix to meet personal information preferences.

The beauty of online media is that you can link them all up (services like tweetdeck (http://tweetdeck.com/beta/) allow you to manage posts to Twitter and Face-book and you can put your twit-stream up on your Face Book for example. Posterous (http://posterous.com/) enables you to post to all your favourite media sites in one go. Their site looks ridiculously cool and I’m starting to play with that.

I’m sure there will be lots of other interesting tools coming down the line and we’ll all be off onto the next big thing. But they are all tools allowing you to connect with people that are interested in your key topics and interests. Hopefully you are working at the things you love. That makes the publicity and communicating that passion very easy. Now you can interact with those people, if they want to, but more importantly, how they want to.

Steve Rubel is probably right in the long run. More people are accessing info via phones with relatively titchy screens so the trend is for succinct comms. Twitter is good training for that.

But meanwhile, there’s plenty of people searching on Google and landing on web sites and blogs because the extended content they carry lends itself to being searched. And most business tweets carry a link to a website of blog anyway.

I think of online media like a menu. A tweet is the starter to whet the appetite, full media sites like websites, blogs and Face Book are the main courses with lots of rich content on the plate. The proof of the pudding is the interaction you stimulate and whether you can translate that into sales for your business without putting people off with hard sell tactics.

That’s why I think PR and journalism skills will be in the online media mix long-term. Because we were trained to get stories past much fiercer gatekeepers than any online registration process. We were trained to make stories interesting enough for editors select for their audience and invest in the paper, ink, or bandwidth to carry the story. Nowadays anyone can be a publisher, but the acid test is whether they build an audience.

See you at http://twitter.com/PennyHaywood

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posted by Penny Haywood Calder at

 

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