At first twitter tweets seems like a very strange language filled with @'s, #'s, RT's and tinyURL's. I found it terribly daunting at first.

Hopefully I'll be able to help you understand your @'s from your elbows.

Twitter has quite a few commands that can be used with your tweets. Most were created by Twitter but a few user generated commands crept in. I'll only be discussing the ones most commonly used to communicate & give credit.

Anatomy of a tweet
So lets have a look at the typical life cycle of a tweet. Consider the following tweet:
RT @skok RT @socialpond Free Cloud Computing Adoption Survey Slideshow SCR @timpickard  #mimecast #survey

This particular tweet has been around the block a few times. So lets break it up and follow it's life cycle.

Step 1:
timpickard Uploads a slideshow onto linkedin

Step 2:
socialpond (me) stumbles across it via linkedin updates (google, rss etc.). I decide its a great slideshow and I feel that my twitter followers might find it interesting so I construct the following tweet:
Free Cloud Computing Adoption Survey Slideshow SCR @timpickard 
You will notice I used SCR,  @timpickard and,  
  • SCR allows me to give credit to timpickard (his twitter account is listed on his linkedin profile).
  • The '@' allows the tweet to appear in timpickard's twitter feed and makes him aware I tweeted his link.
  • is a URL shortening service used by hootsuite, you can use any URL shortening service, personally I use hootsuite as it allows a great range of tracking and reporting. Using the URL shortening service has change the original URL from :{%22from%22%3A%22profile_view%22%2C%22view%22%3A%22canvas%22%2C%22page%22%3A%22slideview%22%2C%22slideshow_id%22%3A%223272407%22}&_ownerId=840549&completeUrlHash=THa1. To: 
Step 3:
skok who is a follower of socialpond sees the tweet, views the slideshow and decides to retweet it, however she feels that the tweet is related to "mimecast" so she adds a #mimecast:
RT @socialpond Free Cloud Computing Adoption Survey Slideshow SCR @timpickard  #mimecast
skok added RT and # tags:
  • RT is used to acknowledge the re-use of socialpond's tweet, as before the @ causes the retweet to be displayed in socialpond's twitter feed.
  • # is used to categorize and tag tweets. This allows people searching for a specific term to find the tweet, even if the term is not specifically used in the tweet.
Step 4
One of skok's followers sees her retweeting socialpond's tweet and retweets it to his followers, giving credit to both skok and socialpond, he also feels the tweet relates to "survey" and adds #survey:
RT @skok RT @socialpond Free Cloud Computing Adoption Survey Slideshow SCR @timpickard  #mimecast #survey
If you reread the original tweet it no longer looks so strange or difficult to read.

140 limit and now what?
However this process is not scalable due to the 140 character limit of twitter. You will eventually be faced with a decision of what to remove.
  1. Removing the original author 'timpickard' will be the first step. Anyone clicking on the link will be directed to content he created.
  2. Try condensing the words, replace 'for' with '4', 'You' with 'U' etc.
  3. Remove some of the #tags in the above example I would remove both tags if need be.
  4. Remove the retweets, only crediting the last person to retweet it.
With careful consideration, credit and tagging your tweets can relive in others feed.

Email marketing is a hot topic, not only does it allow you to easily brand all your business email,  it also provides a quick ROI when used for lead generation.

To effectively deliver a branded eblast, newsletter or business email, you will need to create it using HTMLHTML allows you to use your company colors, fonts, images and styling in email.

However, most people do not realise that designing HTML for email is very different from designing HTML for webpages.

So I thought I'd list 5 important points to consider.

1. Lack of experience and knowledge
Just because someone did a 2 day dreamweaver course 3 years ago, does not mean they understand the differences between web and email HTML. Get someone in who knows what they are doing, someone with a proven track record in email design.

2. Design for lowest common denominator.
Yes, your all singing all dancing HTML email looks great. Who cares if it does not work on Microsoft Outlook? erm.. well... 43% of people who use email! Know your email clients, test your email on as many different clients as you can.
A big rule of thumb here is to rather dumb down your email design than to alienate your recipients.
3. Know the differences between web and email HTML
There are a multitude of differences and I will address this in another posting, but the biggest difference is that Email has no header tags.
No header tags means that style sheets (CSS) should be placed in the body of the email
4. Rendering of Email 
Did you know that Microsoft Outlook 2007 and later now uses MS Word to render HTML? Most other email clients will use the default webbrowser on your machine.
 When an email is forward, the email client will re-render the email using its own proprietary language (EML, RTF etc.). This will more often than not "break" your carefully crafted code.
5. No Scripting!
Even if you embed it in the body you should never use any form of scripting such as JavaScript. Using JavaScript is a quick way to getting your emails blocked and your domain blacklisted.

Future posts will discuss each of these issues in depth.

I recently added this blog to Technorati.

Technorati is an important step to getting your blog out on the net.
Technorati is an Internet search engine for searching blogs. By June 2008, Technorati was indexing 112.8 million blogs and over 250 million pieces of tagged social media.[2] The name Technorati is a blend of the words technologyand literati, which invokes the notion of technological intelligence or intellectualism. Wikipedia
It was a quite straight forward process:
  1. Go to 
  2. Sign up
  3. You will receive a confirmation email, you need to click on the link in the email to activate your account
  4. Once you have signed in, click on your username (top right on the navigation bar)]
  5. Scroll right to the bottom to a section called "Claim your blog" enter your blog URL and click claim
  6. Enter some details about your blog and hit "Claim"
  7. You will shortly receive an email with a special code, for example: VAH4ZHBDST9M
  8. Next create a blogpost referencing the code in the posting (as I did above)
  9. Once posted, Re-log back into Technorati, scroll to the bottom and click on "Check Claim"

Your blog should now be listed within a few days on Technorati.

Is Technorati a waste of time? Is there other places a blog should also be listed? Let me know your views
I've been following the minor storm that erupted after Sarah Palin's recent comment about "that twittering thing". 

Funnily enough I became aware of it thanks to a tweet, after reading numerous blogs, I realized most people seem to have understood the comment as belittling the Twitter community (see her comment below).
“... Just you watch now, too, because somebody will be here with their little Twittering thing, and it’s going to be on the Internet any minute now.”
In fact I think the comment actually is quite the opposite, by trying to marginalize Twitter she has in actual fact shown how seriously she is taking the twitter and associated social media communities.
Forever gone are the days when the media could be manipulated in the favor of the one who has the most money or influence
Now the truth will out, distorted and opinionated for sure, but it will be tweeted, retweeted and commented on by those that do that "Twittering thing" and then spill out into blogs and mainstream media. (as this blog proves)

In 2009 Sky News recognized the fact that news no longer "breaks" via the tradition controllable channels but via social media and especially that "Twittering thing". This means that "Breaking News" can no longer be sold off to the highest or most influential bidder.

Imagine the panic of influential public figures who in the past only needed to make a phone call to their PR teams to make all but the most noticeable gaffs disappear.

Personally I imagine the call between Palin and her PR team, after her comment, to go something like this:
-- Ring Ring --

PR Agency: "Awful good PR agency, how may we help you"

"Guys this is Palin, I just made a bit of a gaff with this twittering statement, can you please embargo any journalist that were in the room."

-Awkward silence-

PR Agency:
"Ah... erm..."

-Whispering in the background-

"You tell her, no you tell her"

-Another awkward silence-

PR Agency:
"We know all about it, we just read it on Obama's blog, apparently he picked it up from a friend's facebook status, who in turn read a tweet by someone in India who retweeted the waitress from the catering company at the event"
Please note: this is an imagined fictional conversation and is not based on fact
So you see instead of reproaching Palin, we should thank her for showing us that she believes the social community should be feared.
We are everywhere, we see everything and worst of all.... We have our own opinions that others listen to. Fear the social media revolution.
Do you agree with me? Does public figures fear social media? Has the once powerful lost the ability to control traditional media? Or have they found even cleverer ways of manipulating it? Let me know your views

The How Much Information?   report into US data consumption states that the average American's daily data consumption is 34 GB and 100 000 words per day.

At first I thought this is a quite a phenomenal amount of data, but then I  had a look at my own projected data consumption over a 24 hour period (averaged out over a 5 day working week) and I was quite shocked.

Below Is a brief break down of the easy measurable data I consume:
  • 10 stock photos downloaded  = 60mb
  • 3 Photoshop master pieces  = 25mb
  • 1 movie = 700mb (Iphone)
  • 4 sitcom episodes @ 350mb each = 1.4GB (pc)
  • 120 email = 30mb
  • 25 songs on ipod at 4mb = 100mb
  • 1 hour on youtube = 300mb
  • 3 Iphone apps downloaded = 80mb
  • 30 min skype video = 30mb 
  • 4 hours of Digital TV (Non HD) 4mbs = 56GB
  • MMORPG update = 400mb
  • 2 PS3 Game demo's downloaded = 3GB
That gives me a total of 62GB.

Over weekends I suspect this figure to double or even triple.

You'll notice that I did not factor in any Mobile phone usage and general web browsing, as data rates are not readily available.

I'd be interested to see if anyone else comes up with figures to match mine.

Every second blog or website claims how powerful twitter and other social media platforms are and how businesses can make a real impact in the social media space.

But how do you go about it? sure there are over an estimated 75 million active twitter users and there combined amount of posts run into the billions.

How on earth is one company with one voice going to be able to be seen amongst the deluges of tweets and posts?

There is no clear black or white  answer to this, one strategy is to become a thought leader, or an Industry authoritative figure. To do that, you will need to break yourself and your company away from any preconceived ideas you might have in regards to how you traditionally took your brand to the market.

This strategy is the hardest to sell to the business as it involves promoting topics and conversations not necessarily your own.

1. Topic not Product.
Even though you have a product to sell, most people probably don't want to buy it at this moment in time. So if your social media strategy purely involves pushing your product then you will fail.

Rather have a decent look at the industry you are in. What new innovations can be found there? What is the latest news? Latest statistics? You know these things, others don't. Find the articles, find the blog posts and retweet them, repost blogs (obviously giving credit to the authors). Share what you stumble across. Become a reference point, someone to watch due to the quality and relevance of your posts.

Fact: More people will follow you for your insights into your industry, than for you pushing your product. Your biggest opportunity to sell will come from questions and interactions you have with your followers.

2. Play follow the leader.
Give credit where credit is due. If someone has an interesting tweet... do them the courtesy of retweeting and then hitting their follow button! not only will they most probably return the favor but the likelihood of them tweeting something else interesting is very high. But be careful, following to many people will create a flood of tweets that will drown out valuable information. 

turn off outo follow! a lot of programs and bots will randomly add you in the hope that you have auto follow turned on, this will just add to dead weights and sludge followers.
The follower sweet spot is around the 150 -200 mark of active content creators and contributors. There is a lot of theory and debate on this, some speculate that the active content contribution rate is 9/100 and content creation is 1/100  but that's definitely a debate for a future post.

3.Keep it in the ball park
Try sticking to topics that are connected, jumping from disconnected topic to topic will quickly discredit you as a knowledge leader. The last thing you want is to be seen as a virtual ADHD sufferer. 

saying that, If you must cross topics ensure that you have the relevant hash (#) tags. please see point 4 below.
4. Mention it or Hash it
Aah the wonderful world of #hashtags and RT @someones. At first I found it confusing, geeky, and perceived it as industry babble. At first I shied away from using it. After reading this excellent article on the Twitter 101 website I realized I was  missing out on a key way of driving people to my Tweets and views.

By #hashtagging, not only can I ensure that people find my tweets but also reassure them that my tweets are not just random acts of a hyperactive webbrowsing.  

Tip: Find/define your topic # tag and stick to it, don't use "#socialmedia" one day and "#social media" the other day. Don't worry when people search for "Social Media" both forms will be picked up

5. Personality vs. Quirkiness
When possible do inject some personality into your tweets, yes this is difficult in a 140 character world but it can be done. The beauty of social media is that there is a real live human being sitting on the other end sharing information. So show your readers your alive. However: don't be to quirky, your aim is to be seen as being knowledgeable, not be seen as the industry clown. Consider the example tweets below, which appeals to you, your business and your industry the most? How will you talk to your followers?

No personality: "Mimecast wins 2 Knowlist awards"
Personality: "Over the moon about our Knowlist Awards - Service excellence & Value for ROI #mimecast"
Quirky: "Whooohooo!!! We rock legal!!! We won at the Legal Knowlist Awards"

6. Determination and Adaptability.
Remember how Sylvester the cat could never quite catch tweetie bird? one admirable thing is he never gave up. If one tact did not work he tried another and another.

Note: Determination and the will to adapt your strategy is the biggest key to making it in social media. Be under no illusion, going viral is much harder than it sounds.
In Closing
Never forget Twitter is but one small cog in a much larger social media machine. With time and nurturing it can become an invaluable traffic driver for your business and increase not only your share of voice but also your share of conversation.

I seem to have had my head in the clouds to much these last few months. I just became aware of the Outlook Social Connector for Outlook 2010. Even though it is designed for 2010 versions for 2003 and 2007 will be available from live update early 2010.

So far the holy grail for email and social communications was really how communications were related, in other words "contextual" communications. We all know the frustration of trying to find the contact details, previous emails and attachments of people you are communicating with.

So far the holy grail for email and social communications was really how communications were related.
Now imagine if you had instant access to all that including their latest tweets, linkedin updates, facebook feeds, contact information and more (thanks to the outlook social connector API). Enter the age of contextual communication.

A lot of people will say "aaah this sounds like Xobni" and yes there are some 400 000 of you out there and 20% of Microsoft employees. Microsoft made a failed, rumoured to be in the range of $20m, bid for xobni in april 2008. interestingly xobni now has mayor investment from Blackberry Partner fund as well as Cisco, Cisco touting that its a perfect fit for their webex online meeting platform.

However OSC is really all that xobni is and so much more, it integrates seamlessly with Sharepoint, Skydrive, Windows Live, Linkedin, Twitter, Facebook and thanks to the API the possibilities are endless.

Microsoft seems to take Social media quite serious and with this launch has brought social media into everyday business.

Its very clear that in 2010 Social Media in business will force businesses to review their current and outdated internal social media strategies.