I’m actually amazed that my, ehem, “experiment” in ignoring my blog has demonstrated the long-tail effect just perfectly. It’s not a lot of hits, but it has kept on going despite my shameful lack of activity. I did some Googling and it’s actually pretty poor in terms of visibility, which suggests I’m not doing a great job at maintaining a personal ‘online brand’. More to come on this as I see it as a forthcoming hot topic for 2009.

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There seems to have been a sudden splurge of online collaboration tools, both within publishing and the wider academic community. After my forage a few weeks ago into the world of ning, I do currently intend to try out some of these others and do some detailed comparisons. But for the time being, here’s some highlights…

First up, the new fresh author talent site from Harper Collins: authonomy. Aiming to bring together new authors along with potential readers and publishers, the site offers a community approach to rating new content. Attractive, nice welcoming tone, lots of user interaction, this site has been well planned and the community has well and truly bought into the concept. It had a good publicity launch followed by a period of BETA testing. It’s a really neat concept and a strong business opportunity – both for the authors getting the profile and the publishers growing a fan base. What is even more interesting is that HC is getting lots of great profile and loyalty, yet the site is open to other agents and publishers to do business too.

Next up is Penguin’s new partnership with match.com. Not so much a social network, rather an online chance to bring together individuals with a shared interest, even though there is membership and the chance to interact. I didn’t want to create a profile so can’t tell you much about its merits, other than to say it’s another great example of how the Penguin brand gets a big profile boost, without this being directly tied to the main Penguin business, or restricting it to being only about Penguin. My only criticism was it was really not easy to find this thing – search results were not great, so I had to search via the Penguin blog to find an entry point. Might just be my incompetence, but SEO needs to be next on the agenda…

Same goes for the new Facebook app from Pan Macmillan, who have launched the ‘Love letters of Great men‘ app to accompany the new book release of the same title. I have to say it took me quite some time to actually locate the app. The fan base is currently quite small, but I haven’t done my homework on what the average uptake of a new app is, or what the likely growth of new apps might be. I decided against downloading this one, but I wanted to include it to show again the kinds of things happening in networks.

I don’t intend to go into detail on some of the following – you can read more about them in Paula J Hane’s article on Information Today, but I will certainly be spending some time getting to know Research1; the American Chemical Society (ACS); the Canadian Medical Association (CMA);  and Indiana University School of Medicine Informatics’ Laboratree, along with the more established 2collab and labmeeting. So much fun to be had…!

I’m doing a live blog post. Right now! Yes right now! This week I’ve been doing some social network research. My experiment this evening is Ning.

So far I’ve created a user name, named my network after this lovely blog, and selected some colours and features

 

It’s pretty clever how you can pull features in and out – selection range includes description, members, forum, blog, videos, events…and more.

For the design the advanced settings are fairly bog standard. There is a nice selection of existing templates too. I’ve opted for something quite simple from the ‘do it yourself’ range. There may be more playing later on but this will do for now.

I’ve now been playing around with the questions people will see when they wish to sign up to my network. These are also customizable which is good. I really don’t care what my members’ favourite tv shows are…no offense, and you should feel free to tell me if you really want to…but I can’t pretend to care. I can’t think of a good set of answers around ‘day job’…any suggestions?

Ooh exciting. So now investigating security. There seem to be three tiers. You can close off the entire network, so it’s only accessible to registered members. This seems like a waste to me, because if you don’t really know from the name what the network’s about, why on earth would you bother to join? The middle tier is being able to see the front page, but then having to register to see anything else. That’s what I’ve gone for. The lightest security tier is being able to see everything without registering. What I can’t see is what someone who isn’t me that tries to join the site will see…will have to rope in the other half to try that one shortly.

Moving on to notification settings. Users get a lot of choice in terms of what email notifications they can get. They can opt to get none, or they can drill down through a detailed list of options.

Right have just convinced the other half to sign up, and being a nice lad he has done so. So the procedure was fairly painless. And the window displayed looked tasteful. It doesn’t ask you for masses of information – just a user name and password, plus the additional questions that you set. What’s interesting is that the user ID runs across the entire Ning network: Dan had already signed up to another Ning site a while back, so to join this network he could use that same user ID from the previous network, and it kept his user profile.

Another nifty feature: under each member is the option to ‘feature on home’, which allows for lots of fun to be had with profiling any significant figures that decide to join up! Come on now celebrity PRs I know you’re all desperate to join my Ning network…

Well I have to say my enthusiasm is waning. It looks like there’s still lots of playing to do here, and it’s not always clear what I can see as administrator and what a user can see, so there’ll need to be some triple-account holding to check and cross check what things look like, but this is a cool site and I’ll be spending some more time on here…

So the launch was…not quite a success. But just over five months on, BA are launching a new campaign to shift public opinion and reassure the world that ‘Terminal 5 is working’.

According to coverage the campaign will be a multi million pound marketing campaign covering print, online, radio and billboard advertising.

The one ad I saw on my way home today is…well it’s ok. It’s doing exactly what the campaign aims to do, which is concentrate on the simple messaging, and the campaign is apparently going to make use of real ‘genuine customer experience’, look at stats showing how T5’s improving security, baggage handling and general timeliness.

I have to say it’s not blow-away, but will be interesting to see how far this goes to shift public opinion. I’d be interested to know how much the campaign is going to make use of online media – for example through travel booking sites and holiday forums. What are they doing to promote to previous customers also, i.e. those who have travelled since March?

Most importantly, whether the message is believed or not, will this actually change people’s travelling habits? Had their travelling habits been changed in the first place, or is this more just to redress what was an embarrassing opening to a very expensive venture? As the Londonist aptly puts it, are BA just reminding people of previous mistakes unnecessarily?

Will be interesting to see reactions to this campaign as it develops.

Another great post from Brian Solis on using social media for relationship building as a key part of PR. Social media has got to become core to the overall PR strategy of any organization worth its salt. ‘Nuff said. Off the soapbox and back to work.

I write this with great difficulty – not because the subject is hard, but rather because the instrument I am using was clearly not designed with a woman in mind.

The iPhone may be my boyfriend’s new favourite toy(so much so that it is now an unwelcome guest in our bedroom each night) but it certainly isn’t high on my list of must-haves.

What clever Apple emloyee decided it was a good idea to put in a tiny touch sensitive key pad? I can guarantee you that they were male. How do I know this? Because they certainly didn’t factor in for nails!!

On such a tiny device, sentences which should take only seconds to form take agonizingly long minutes. And I am constantly overshooting the letter I want. And I have normal-sized fingers-not exceptionally large!!

Ok so I am sure the apple lovers out there will claim how clever the phone is that it recognizes what word you’re writing and auto corrects… And how you can get faster and more accurate with practice…

But seriously- I am exhausted! My arm hurts! I do not have the iPhone love!

Let the backlash commence. I am off to enjoy the pleasures of a more traditional keyboard. And the joys of typing with more than one finger at a time…

Yes it’s still the talk of the dinner table. And now my appetite is well and truly whet after a week’s holiday in the US. I was out in suburban New England and yet even so was surprised that the large Barnes and Noble that I came across had no idea what I was talking about when I approached the desk and asked if they stocked the new Sony eReader. The polite store helper suggested I have a look on Amazon instead. Hmm.

So anyway after a week of unsuccessful hunting, imagine my joy when at the airport, I came across (and yes I really did find this quite entertaining) a Sony vending machine!! I’d thought the paperback vending machines in the UK were fun, but this was really the one you wanted to get the accidental extra packet from!

And in the Sony vending machine, there it was…

Unfortunately stuck inside a box, but nevertheless looking sleek and attractive.

Guess what. That wasn’t the only e-Reader in the airport. To my great joy, guess what was adorning the sales desk in Borders? Yes. A ‘try me’ Sony e-Reader. Loaded with books and ready to use.

Well I have to say I am not a techy. And I’m not an early adopter. And I like my paperbacks and magazines in print. But I have to say I liked it. It’s very very aesthetically pleasing. It’s much smaller than the older models I’d seen, and the navigation is simple and sensible. The e-ink is actually more impressive than I thought it would be too – it really is easy to read.

Will I buy one though? Really not sure. The Bookseller this last week shared discussions between publishers on e-book pricing ahead of the UK launch. There’ll be some interesting follow ups over the coming weeks as we see what areas of publishing will be most successful here, and where this just isn’t going to work. Will the prices go down if there is no uptake? Will there be some interesting new business models developing? 

I’m in the camp that there’ll be a lot of early adopters on this one, despite the cost, as it really is a nice looking package, but for me, for now at least, I’m just going to sit back and watch what will be a really interesting autumn.

Well a lot’s happened in my longish absence from posting, and it seems a little pointless to go back and write about it all, but part of me knows that won’t stop me, as I still think some of it’s interesting!

It’s been a gruelling couple of months at work, followed by a much needed break, and now I find myself having given up yet more of my free time choreographing some dances for an opera. Still if I was bored I’m sure I’d complain…

This does however act as my excuse for not finding the time to write about all the PR/marketing/publishing thoughts I’ve been storing. So this is me making a personal pledge to find the time. Not sure when or how, but it’s a promise I’m intending to keep. I still haven’t figured how the truly committed bloggers manage it. Maybe they have more than 24hrs in their days…it’s possible I’m sure…

Nothing to say on this other than yes. That’s exactly what I keep banging on about. Sounds like it was an interesting conference…

Once again I would like to point out a rather clever advert I clocked on the underground, only I can’t find it anywhere online.

HSBC have released an advert promoting their sponsorship of the Wimbledon Championships 2008. According to the official website,

HSBC– becomes the Official Banking Partner of The Championships, providing banking facilities at the HSBC Bank on site by the Museum Building.  HSBC has also agreed to donate to charity a sum equal to the total amount generated via the HSBC branded red ticket resale boxes, in 2007 the amount donated to charity was in excess of £85,000.  In addition, HSBC will be working with the All England Club to expand the Road to Wimbledon junior event, henceforth to be known as The HSBC Road to Wimbledon National 14 and Under Challenge.

The advert is really pretty cool. It actually took me until the second time I saw it, standing waiting for my tube home this evening, to actually figure it out, but once I did I was impressed with the subtleties they have applied, and found the whole ensemble really rather engaging.

I don’t want to give the whole thing away as it really is quite inventive and fun to look for all the little touches, but they have set up the inside of an HSBC branch as a tennis court. It’s very very subtle…! Ten points if you spot more than ten tennis-themes – if you’re desperate to know what the ten I saw were skip to the end and I’ll add these in…

Being responsible for SAGE’s sponsorship I was also pleased by the simplicity of the messaging. The whole piece gave lots of food for thought. It’s strongly branded, simple, and clever. Just what a sponsorship ad should be. Lovely. Good work HSBC. Just put the ad online somewhere so I can link to it?? Thanks.

The eight references…Tim Henman at the desk on the front left; strawberries and cream on his desk; the two female tennis players (handbags as rackets), the umpire, the net, the runner, the green watercooler, the wimbledon mug, the Cliff cd’s, SW19 on the ladder.