Death of my blog?

I really intended to stop blogging on my hosted WordPress blog. I had planned to call this blog “the last post” or “Bye,Bye blog” – something whimsical perhaps, something that meant a lot to me. I had spent sometime reviewing the variety of topics I had talked about over the last ten years.

Looking back and learning will enable you to move forward eileenb Amastra Eileen Brown motivational quote

I have a new blogging site using self-hosted WordPress on http://amastra.com/blog My last few WordPress posts were geared up to moving my regular readers to my new location.

I included links to my new blog location and I intended to – well – just leaving the past behind as I stopped posting on my old post. I’d even planned what I would write.

I would do a retrospective post. I would touch on the highlights of the last ten years and muse on how things have changed in social publishing and engagement since I started blogging back in 2004.

But when it came to it, I just could not do it. Over the past ten years I’ve posted over 2000 articles. Most are not relevant any more. Software has been updated, opinions have changed, my job has morphed into something totally different more than once, and technology has moved on dramatically. In some ways a lot of this blog is now obsolete.

But not for me.

This is a record of the last ten years of my life, the trips I went on, the experiences I had. It really is a trip down memory lane for me. Even though I migrated the posts over to the Amastra web site and blog, I can’t leave this old blog to  site and away and die.

Blogging has been a big part of my career journey – and what an amazing journey it has been. It has not all been good. The bad bits have given me some great life lessons, and some of it has been painful, some parts have been boring and some has been filled with anxiety.

But its still my journey. And I can’t let it go.

So to compromise, I’m going to post to https://eileenbrown.wordpress.com occasionally.The Amastra blog will now be my main blogging platform whereas my hosted WordPress blog will be updated from time to time. Hopefully these posts will never go stale, become out of date, or slip away and disappear. They will continue to be my link to my past.

Am I holding on to an out-dated blog out of some misplaced sentimentality?.  Am I doing this just to preserve a record of my longevity in this fast moving social interactive world? Am I reluctant to embrace the new and leave behind the old? All of them are probably true.

But killing this old blog off permanently is a step too far for me. I’ll be leaving my digital footprint here for a while longer I think – until it is really time to leave my musings and experiences to decay in the ethereal reaches of the digital void…

How to create YouTube slideshow videos from your images

*** Please update your feeds from https://eileenbrown.wordpress.com to http://amastra.com/blog/ ***

You do not need to capture videos to upload onto YouTube. You can make great videos using YouTube’s slideshow tool. It is really easy to do too.

The YouTube upload button gives you four options: Capture a video with your webcam, create a photo slideshow, broadcast a Google+ Hangout, or edit a video.

  Eileen Brown Amastra

After uploading the images you have the option to rearrange them into a logical flow or story .

Eileen Brown YouTube slideshow Amastra

You can then add appropriate music to go with your video slideshow, select how long you want each slide to display, which transition you would like and whether you want to pan across the images and zoom.

How to create YouTube slideshow videos from your images Amastra Eileen Brown

Click upload, give your slideshow a title and description – and voila! You can see the finished result of uploading my images on the Amastra at Whistler slideshow on my YouTube channel.

Eileen Brown is a social media strategist and consultant at Amastra, a columnist at ZDNet and author of Working The Crowd: Social Media Marketing for Business. Connect with Eileen on Twitter and or contact her to find out how she can elevate your brand and help your business become more social.

How to optimise your images for blogging and the web

Many blogs fail due to the poor insertion of images in their posts. Images cut and pasted from your image library on your PC often contain bloated oversized images which take an age to load.

It is really important to make sure that images – and pages load quickly to stop your readers turning away.  So how do you optimise your image for your blog and the web?

Here’s an image of the office kitten sitting on the sofa in reception.

 Clyde Kitten Eileen Brown Amastra

The image name, WP_20140814_14_26_59_Pro.jpg is not very intuitive, containing only the date and time stamp of the photo. Consider naming it to something more appropriate. I renamed it to Kitten Clyde relaxing on the sofa at Amastra offices.jpg. Logical names will make the image easy to find.

On my smartphone, all images are saved in large file format. This picture currently has a file size of 3.9MB. On slow links, this image would make page loading unacceptable. The file is 1632 x 918 pixels — too wide for most web pages.

Before posting to my blog, the image needs to be optimise. Compressing the file to suit on screen displays and configuring it for websites gives me a image 448 pixels wide and 336 pixels. More importantly it gives me a file size of 33.2KB which has a faster page load time.

In order to find this image on the web it needs to be tagged. Lazy web developers often do not add the Alt tag text to the image. Adding a simple tag can ensure that your image is more likely to get discovered.

I tagged this image Clyde Kitten Eileen Brown Amastra. This will ensure that if you search for any of these phrases then this image will appear somewhere in the search results.

I have also added a watermark to the image. Most image manipulation software packages have this feature. Adding the originating URL ensures that  if the image is copied and used on another site, then the originating site can be credited where appropriate.

So now, it is ready to go, and soon will appear in searches for any of the terms in either the title or the Alt text as the web spiders crawl the site.

Try it on your own site and see your images appear in your own search results… 

Update:

The image above took 17 minutes to appear on bing search for “Clyde kitten” which proves that the technique works.

Clyde kitten Amastra Eileen Brown

*** Please update your feeds from https://eileenbrown.wordpress.com to http://amastra.com/blog/ ***

Eileen Brown is a social media strategist and consultant at Amastra, a columnist at ZDNet and author of Working The Crowd: Social Media Marketing for Business. Connect with Eileen on Twitter and or contact her to find out how she can elevate your brand and help your business become more social.

Do you take a Twitter holiday, or do you holiday with Twitter?

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Some of us need to completely disconnect from social media whilst we are away on holiday – others feel the need to update our friends and connections with an hour by hour account of what we are doing whilst we are away.

Some people can not bear to disconnect from the Internet, we have an addiction to our smartphones and get separation anxiety if we try to disconnect. We like to keep in touch.

And Twitter is one of those tools that help us to stay connected whilst we’re away.

Twitter Ads in the UK knows exactly how we use social media on holiday and it has published the results of a survey it carried out showing how holidaymakers in the UK stay connected using Twitter whilst they are away.

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Research Now compiled its Twitter Holiday Research 2014 survey. It  surveyed 1,000 Twitter active users in the UK about how they use Twitter.

Almost 90 percent of Twitter users in the UK are planning to go on holiday this summer and two out of three of these plan to use Twitter whist they are on holiday from their mobile device. In fact 71 percent of users will Tweet about their holiday whilst they are away.

75 percent of users will be leaving the UK for their holiday and 57 percent of these want to stay in contact with people they know. 

Half of us use Twitter when they are on holiday to stay on top of the news and 25 percent of travellers will use Twitter to look for local restaurant recommendations.

Almost half of us – 46 percent look for local information and 25 percent of travellers use Twitter to get transport and travel updates. Even when they are on holiday, one in seven of us look for special deals and bargains.

Although the whole world seems to be connected at all times, some of us love to take a well-earned social media break and relax from the hyper-connected world we find ourselves in. Sharing our amazing, envy inducing photos will just have to wait until we eventually get back home.

Eileen Brown is a social media strategist and consultant at Amastra, a columnist at ZDNet and author of Working The Crowd: Social Media Marketing for Business. Connect with Eileen on Twitter and or contact her to find out how she can elevate your brand and help your business become more social.

New business year, New blog location, Old, old memories

 *** Bye bye https://eileenbrown.wordpress.com. hello http://amastra.com/blog/ ***

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At the start of my 6th year at Amastra, I thought that it was finally time to make the change from my trusty old WordPress.com blog, to my own hosted blog at Amastra. It feels strange making the move.

I started my blogging journey at Microsoft in 2004, and have had this blog as a back up knowledge base – just in case something changed there. I’ve been blogging for almost ten years.

July 2005 saw me talking about a variety of things. The release name for Longhorn, Windows Vista was been announced, i blogged about LCS (now called Lync by the way) and PIC connectivity and the availability of the .mobi domain. Was it really nine years ago?

July 2006, I talked about applying policies to Windows mobile devicesChecking for compliance and a step by step guide to Outlook Web Access.

In July 2007 I was excited about the VOIP feature in Office Communicator 2007 and VOIP and Skype (which now belongs to Microsoft!)  July 2008 had me talking about Office Communications Server (Now Lync) integrating with Lotus Notes. I also played with Round Table, the multi user video conferencing device

By July 2009 I was preparing to leave Microsoft. I presented my last ever session as an employee and ran my first 10k race.

July 2010 had me celebrating the start of my second year at Amastra. There were 500 million users of Facebook and the first edition of my book was ready at Amazon.

I’ve had a nostalgic look back at how technology has changed in the (almost ten) years I’ve been blogging. I’m pleased I can now look back and reflect on the fact that I’ve been blogging through an amazing time for technology.

User Generated Content has risen to the fore, and interactive media pervades our everyday mobile, location aware lives.

What a blast, what a journey so far. I do hope you will continue it with me here http://amastra.com/blog/

Eileen Brown is a social media strategist and consultant at Amastra, a columnist at ZDNet and author of Working The Crowd: Social Media Marketing for Business. Connect with Eileen on Twitter and or contact her to find out how she can elevate your brand and help your business become more social.

Ad hoc social business campaigns often fail to engage

Is your organisation really satisfied with its social media campaigns – or do you find that the campaigns fall short of your expectations?

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If you are unhappy with the way that things are panning out you are not alone according to a report from Ragan communications.

Although many companies have engaged in social media activities, over 60 percent of companies report having no structured programs in place. Some organisations have no holistic approach to their efforts.

Only 27 percent of organisations have a dedicated social media team. 5 percent have both internal and outsourced teams. Only three percent have all of their social media activities outsourced to others.

A whopping 65 percent of organisations assign workers social media tasks on top of their current responsibilities.

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Most organisations have under three people managing their social media activities (82 percent) and a quarter of companies use interns to help with aspects of social media – especially Facebook and Twitter.

Social media monitoring gets strong measurements for engagement and interaction – but only 31 percent of companies measure sales. Most companies monitor mentions about the organisation but only 57 percent measure what is being said by their competitors.

Companies look for a good return on their efforts, relying on feedback and perception rather than sales. A good return on marketing investment (ROMI) is hard to quantify. and with almost one in five leaders indifferent or not supportive, it is hard to get budget for further activities.

So how do you succeed in your activities?

  • If the C-suite requires hard financial proof, focus on sales leads and hard financial returns. If you are asking for more marketing budget, you will need to justify this with real numbers. Engagement and likes will not cut it
  • Make sure all of your activities are trackable. Join social up with your CRM system and take conversations onto the medium best suited for them (phone / email etc.)
  • Collaborate with other teams in order to make sure that your message is consistent, and inline with your business activities. Make sure that teams work together well.
  • Make sure the implications of your social efforts drive the company in the correct direction. Compliance, legal and financial outcomes need to be taken into account when considering and planning your efforts.

And most importantly – once you have started your activities, watch them all the time. You never know what triggers a crisis – until one happens.

Eileen Brown is a social media strategist and consultant at Amastra, a columnist at ZDNet and author of Working The Crowd: Social Media Marketing for Business. Connect with Eileen on Twitter and or contact her to find out how she can elevate your brand and help your business become more social.

Is email all you seem to do at work?

Email costs North American businesses nearly $2 trillion annually – a huge amount of money. Collaborations specialise Contatta has published an infographic showing just how much American businesses pay employees to process email.

The infographic shows some staggering inefficiencies in the way we work:

Workers spend on average 13 hours of their workweek reading and answering email – around 637 hours annually.

Based on the average professional wage in the US of $23 per hour, businesses pay over $15K per employee to process email

Collectively, employees spend nearly 75 billion hours in email. This costs businesses nearly $2 trillion in salaries. That is around 14 times the combined wealth of Bill Gates, Oprah and Warren Buffett.

That amount of money could give everyone in the US with $5,637. But we would have no email!

The staggering cost of business email infographic

Data and statistics were pulled from the US Bureau of Labour, McKinsey Global Institute and the Radicati Group to showcase the ineffectiveness of email and the way we process things.

So why do we still send emails instead of communicating using instant messaging tools such as Chatter, Lync, and Yammer? 

Like the memos of the past, we seem to think that email gives us the permanence of a written memo. We have an audit trail and an ‘official’ message that  can be printed out and faxed or posted to anyone.

Actually, instant messaging and other collaboration tools can do this as well. Firewall filters can be applied to block unsuitable messages, or messages filled with profanities or other undesirable keywords. All messages can be archived and audited and processed like their email alternatives.

We need to change our behaviour. but after over 20 years of electronic messaging – it is going to be a long hard slog to embrace true social business.

Eileen Brown is a social media strategist and consultant at Amastra, a columnist at ZDNet and author of Working The Crowd: Social Media Marketing for Business. Connect with Eileen on Twitter and or contact her to find out how she can elevate your brand and help your business become more social.