Category Archives: Blog

Is blogging still relevant?

Blogging is old hat and no longer needed as a separate entity. There, I’ve said it. After blogging for 11 years, I have had an about face and decided that blogging for blogging’s sake is irrelevant.cms-265133_1280 pixelcreatures Eileen Brown Amastra

But am I right?

Blogging has been around for the whole of the 21st century.

First coined as a term “weblog” in 1997, blogging exploded in 1999 with the launch of blogging tools such as LiveJournal and Blogger which made it easy to put your thoughts down online.

Writers live-blogged events long before instantaneous tools like Twitter and Weibo were thought of. Writing down your every thought became the de-facto “thing” for bloggers to do.

I started blogging in 2004 – fairly early on in the big scheme of things blogging-wise. Back then it was the only way to be able to communicate with an audience. We were hidebound with simple newsletters, fairly poor web pages and had little opportunity to interact with our online writers or customers.

Over the last 11 years there has been a plethora of tools that enable us to express ourselves online. YouTube (2005) allowed comments, shares and uploads of visual vignettes. Facebook initially allowed us to write on another’s wall, poke each other, and post snippets of our lives.

Self hosted WordPress sites have been around since 2003. These allow all traffic to be directed to your website and blog. Blogging was an easy way to gain clicks and eyeballs of your content

Twitter, Tumblr, Instagram, MySpace, Google+ and now Tsu, the new kid on the block all allow us to express our thoughts. Even LinkedIn encourages posting directly onto its platform. We are no longer hidebound to short status updates (even Twitter has apps that enable you to tweet longer updates – or send direct messages that have no character limit.

All are discoverable by a web search. Even your public posts on Facebook can appear at the top of search results if you know the correct keywords to use.  Google+ has long indexed posts and Tsu has recently opened its doors so that its content is fully searchable.

So, with all of the opportunities to talk about what you want to, spread across numerous platforms, is blogging really necessary?  This post will propagate across four different sites – to get an audience that might find me by different means.

But will a carefully crafted bunch of content ever beat a quick post with a link to a funny video or “you’ll never guess what happened next – I was shocked” clickbait article?

Has blogging had its day? Will it be lost amongst all of the other instantaneous pieces of hurriedly curated links and status updates populating everywhere online? Or will our thoughts and musings be appreciated, discovered and relished years and years down the line as the genre evolves into something completely different…

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 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 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

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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… 


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

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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.

5 reasons to put blogging at the heart of your content marketing strategy

Do you blog at your company?  If not why not?


Blogging – even though it’s considered ‘old’ amongst all of the other new shiny tools is still the best way to win hearts and minds amongst your audience.  Blogging is not dead. You can demonstrate your credibility, showcase your skills and experience and really connect with your customers.

If your organisation supports social media communication, and is open to community conversations then you should be blogging on behalf of the company.  You can have great conversations with your readers which will help you develop the next version of the product, streamline customer processes and change perception about the brand.

Why?  Here are some stats…

Blogs on company sites result in 55% more visitors

Blogs are 63% more likely to influence purchase decisions than magazines

Companies with blogs get 97% more inbound links than others

37% of marketers say blogs are the most valuable content type for marketing

Blogs give sites 434% more indexed pages and 97% more indexed links

Blogging should be a key part of your content strategy. The top 3 reasons why people follow brands on social media is to down to interesting content. Blogging gives you the vehicle to write compelling and interesting content for your audience.  As 70% of consumers say that they prefer getting to know a company via articles rather than ads, blogging seems a natural choice.

60% of consumers feel more positive about a company after reading custom content on its site.  It’s hard for them to feel more positive about you if all they have to go on is your standard site with dated web pages.

It helps with your marketing efforts too. 63% of companies said that posting content on social media has increased their marketing effectiveness.  They have gone beyond the campaign with conversational content. 

If you’re still not sure, have a look at the most social companies report from Netprospex.  all of these companies have a great presence online,  Most of them blog (in fact the New York Times has dramatically changed its business model as it recognised the shift to online activities.

Blogging works.  Honestly.  You need to be a good blogger, remembering to post your blogging update at the right time of day.  you need to have the ability to tell great stories.  If you’re stuck for content there are many ways to avoid bloggers block.

As a company, you need to encourage your employees to blog, either to benefit other staff by blogging on the intranet.  Give your employees time to blog

If you want a better way to engage your fans, then blogging should be top of your content strategy plan…

Eileen is a social business strategist, ZDNet columnist and author of Working The Crowd: Social Media Marketing for Business. Contact her to find out how she can help your business extend its reach.

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Credit: Annie Mole

Banned from the cafe that does not exist yet

imageSometimes the comments on a blog are better than the blog itself.  This is a fantastic example of small business PR gone horribly wrong.

Brian Ward received some PR asking him to write about a new cafe opening in the area.  They offered him a free coffee card.

Brian declined the coffee card and blogged about the opening

The cafe was slow in opening so Brian blogged about it.  The owners of Stencil cafe started a diatribe in the comments section of the blog.

Brian re-iterated that he doesn’t accept freebies – not even free coffee.

Now he has been banned from visiting the cafe – when it opens.  Here’s the email:

Hi there,

The team here at Stencil have recently had a discussion about your article and poor behaviour regarding it. As a result of this we have decided to place a 6 month ban on you coming into the cafe when it opens up the road from the original planned location in just under a month’s time . However, you can work to over turn this ban with positive press on your blog. But as it stands it will be 6 months of not being allowed into the cafe or getting someone else to come in on your behalf so you can blog about it. Once the ban is up you are welcome to come in and PAY for your coffee or check out some of the fantastic artwork.

I trust this clears things up and I will notify you when the ban is up.

Kind regards
Phil and Christine
Stencil Cafe Team

The Stencil cafe team are still trolling in the comments to this blog post – and there are a fair few comments.  They don’t seem to realise that he doesn’t accept free coffees.  He doesn’t accept freebies…

He makes it really clear.  He doesn’t accept freebies

Are the owners of the Stencil cafe naive or clever?  All this trolling back and forth is a lot of free publicity for them.  All PR is good PR right?  the brand is getting mentions.  Awareness is growing pre-launch.  After all, the big brands do this to get attention.  It certainly seems to work here.

Or perhaps they are naive – expecting that bloggers will accept free stuff in exchange for a mention on their blog.  It happens to all of us.  Some of us decide to accept the offer, others don’t. It’s a personal choice.  Perhaps you have limits.  A cup of free coffee might be ok, but a free meal would be over the top.

But I think that someone needs to go back to PR school and learn some fundamentals of PR.  Don’t upset the customer.

Especially before you open your doors for business…

Eileen is a social business strategist, ZDNet columnist and author of Working The Crowd: Social Media Marketing for Business. Contact her to find out how she can help your business extend its reach.

Image credit: Flickr

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25 ways to improve your online SEO

imageI’ve decided to choose different resolutions this year – just to be different. 

This year, I’m focusing on my online activities and trying to improve what I do online.

Hints and tips for online activity are all well and good – but they’ve got to be achievable.  Unrealistic targets just demotivate people and defeats the objective. 

I hope that these changes I’ll make will improve my online SEO. Looking at the statistics from last year, my blog is getting found for different reasons.  This year, I want to target how readers land on my blog pages.  i want them to arrive here because of social media content, not because of hamsters and kittens as my blogging 2011 year in review indicated

So my 2012 resolutions are easy to keep – hopefully:



  • Blog regularly – at least twice per week. 
  • Use lots of white space in blog posts for better SEO
  • Use relevant and useful anchor text links
  • Divide posts up into sub headings for better SEO
  • Use SEO friendly blog titles.  For example the initial title of this post was ‘Improving online SEO’ which I changed as the post evolved


  • Use the 80: 20 rule.  80% relevant, interesting work related tweets, 20% home related or observational personal tweets
  • Use the automatic retweet feature only when the original tweet is too long to use the RT feature, or wouldn’t make sense if shortened
  • Don’t start reply tweets with the @name response.  Adding text in front of the @name brings all of your followers into your conversation
  • Try to tweet daily. Keep things interesting
  • Respond to tweets and direct messages promptly, with humour and kindness

Facebook :

  • Ask more questions on my Facebook pages.  Treat each page as a second account with its own personality
  • Cross link my book Facebook page to my company Facebook page (—done)
  • Update the pages regularly
  • Drive people to each page to encourage interaction and engagement
  • Share  interesting links I find

LinkedIn :

  • Read group digest emails and respond to group discussions
  • Add an auto-signature to each message I post in a group so that I’m contactable
  • Use the remove connections link to prune LinkedIn connections who are using my network as a way to connect with new people
  • Update my LinkedIn status regularly
  • Keep the LinkedIn company page up to date

Google + :

  • Update status with blog posts and updates
  • Share Facebook interesting information with Google + followers
  • Share Google + links with Facebook followers
  • Invest more time in updating the Google + company page
  • Decide whether to prioritise activity on Google + over Facebook, or drop Google + completely

I wonder whether I’ll succeed in my goals for 2012, or whether my final score is only 10/25.

Lets see… Smile


Eileen is a social business strategist, ZDNet columnist and author of Working The Crowd: Social Media Marketing for Business. Contact her to find out how she can help your business extend its reach.

Image Credit Search Engine People