Has Twitter replaced your business card?

Originally posted at Melbourne.co.uk

When we tweaked our visual identity a couple of months ago, whole stacks of little bits of paper scattered around the office suddenly became obsolete. Now that we’ve moved offices, the information on them could be misleading too.

1895 business card

I’m referring of course to our business cards: little rectangles of information that have been existed probably since Gutenberg was trying to sell his presses in the 14th century. I suspect the format has changed little too; this 1895 example bears a striking resemblance to some designs I’ve seen just recently.

But, just what is the purpose of a business card?
I suppose that during organised “networking” events they’re a part of the theatre practised during formal introductions. A well-designed business card should also act as an aide-memoir.

And given the fact that we’re a digital business, I’ve been wondering just how useful business cards really are? For me, they’re often bland, forgettable and filed away in a part of my drawer I rarely check. It doesn’t help that cards which try to “stand out of the crowd” often end up being examples of awkward “corporate quirk” or suffer from the deployment of gimmicks like QR codes.

At many of the events that I personally attend, a business card is rarely useful. Last week, I stuck my head into Northern Digitals which, to be honest, I go along to as a social event. A lot of my friends work in digital or creative industries and enjoy a pint or two. And a lot of our clients do as well. But because it’s such a social place, I always get chatting with someone new that’s turned up and want to keep in touch with them after the event.

But for me, rather than swapping a piece of paper, the best way to keep in touch is by exchanging Twitter usernames. I almost always follow new people that I’ve met in real life and it’s a far more interesting and useful way to keep in touch with someone you might end up doing business with. It also means you can dispense with the empty pleasantries associated with those staid post-networking emails and work with someone as a partner almost immediately.

This is just my opinion; I know many feel business cards still have a place in the right situation. But given the amount spent on printing cards and the impact that has on the environment, I’m unconvinced that they offer better value for me personally than simply swapping Twitter accounts with someone I meet over a pint. Others seem to agree. But, if we get the design of our new ones right, you might see me try them out…

What do you think? Do you have any examples of killer business cards or have you found you’ve done more business through your Twitter account? Drop a comment below.

Manchester Twestival is back for 2011 – Social Media Manchester

Twestival is back in Manchester, for the fourth time and, Social Media Manchester are looking to make this one bigger and better than ever before.

If you don’t know, Twestival (or ‘Twitter Festival’) is a global fundraising initiative using social media for social good. Twestival is the largest global grassroots media fundraising initiative to date. Through harnessing the power of volunteers and social media, Twestival has raised over £760,000 for 137 good causes since the autumn of 2009. Each Twestival is run on the same date in host cities around the world.

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How to win Foursquare friends and influence people

Foursquare logoUpdate: I spoke about this at the Social Media Cafe Liverpool – presentation below.

Foursquare. It’s the latest hottest thing to blog, tweet and generally foam about.

Unfortunately, over-excited use of Foursquare can often simply annoy your Twitter followers. Who cares if you’ve just checked-in at “Don’s pizzeria” or if you’re Mayor of “[hipsterrific bar]”?

The real value in Foursquare is not just tweeting where you are, or when you’re Mayor or whether you’ve got the badge that says you’ve been out drinking every night for the last five days (maybe you need to check in at your local AA club).

Foursquare is for keeping track of your friends and getting recommendations about good and interesting places to hang out from people you know and trust. When you go to Don’s Pizzeria, tell me why and what you’re doing there. Leave a tip to recommend something (or to remind me to avoid the kebab).

Here’s my top three tips for making Foursquare useful:

(and, influence people, in a sense):

1. Login to your Foursquare account on the web, click Settings and turn-off the default options to send tweets whenever you check-in, become Mayor or unlock a badge.

Don’t worry, you can turn these on per check-in. This will stop you losing Twitter followers, bored of incessant check-ins at home, work and the train station.

2. Check-in and add a note each time you do. What are you doing there? What’s good? Are you available to hang out? Many people will get your live Foursquare check-ins through Twitter too (if they don’t have Push-type notifications on iPhone etc). So tweet these, if they’re useful.

Again, avoid tweeting mundane places unless you’re looking to hang out with people or at an event. Adding a hashtag helps with the latter.

3. Leave tips. Not cash, but those little notes you can add to places from the Foursquare app. When others check-in, one of the tips pops-up which can help someone make a decision about what to do, where to go or what to have.  Ostensibly, tips are positive things, but I have no hesitation in pasting a place if it deserves it.

Saving tips that you find when you check-in and browsing nearby tips also means you build-up a collection of “to do’s” that are worth going through on a boring Sunday afternoon.

Winning over your friends

As you become more active on Foursquare, you’ll begin to add up a list of friends. The more users that join, the easier it becomes to find other people and use Foursquare as a way of organising social activities. In Manchester, for example, I find skimming my Foursquare friends list over lunchtime a good way of finding out where other people are and if they’re available to grab a bite to eat.

Of course, you can always check-in “off the grid” if you want a bit of privacy.

And yes, it is interesting to know who’s the Mayor of a venue. You become a Mayor being by the user to check-in most frequently over the last two months. If a friend is a Mayor, this is a signal to me that he or she goes there lots and, in a sense, endorses it as a venue for whatever goes on there. Checking-in at a venue without actually being there, or really making use of it, is probably somewhat misleading and won’t win me over as your friend.


Foursquare is by no means the only location-based social recommendations app out there. I myself was (and still am) an advocate of others, like Gowalla, that frankly have a sexier design and ask users to crowdsource locations, rather than simply buy up a local directory a starting point.

Unfortunately, there is a degree of critical mass with Foursquare that goes with the relentless adoration lauded on it by Mashable. This means most of my friends and colleagues have naturally gravitated towards it as a network and that, in turn, makes it more useful for me, to find out what’s going on where. There are methods of checking-in on multiple networks, however I have yet to try these out myself.

In conclusion…

Remember, Foursquare is all about recommending local places and things to do. This sort of stuff can add value to what your followers see on your Twitter time line, but if you tweet about it too much, it can really turn people off.

So check it out and, if you know me, add me as a friend.

Social Media Cafe Manchester September 2009 – session previews

Manchester Social Media Cafe logoAs I wrote earlier today, the September 2009 meeting of Manchester’s Social Media Cafe is tomorrow (Update: is tonight! But it was tomorrow, when I wrote this). Slightly later than planned, I’ve written previews of the upcoming sessions, so if you’re still not sure which of the sessions you’d like to go to, or just want to find out more, then I hope that the below ‘preview’ blog posts are helpful.

I welcome feedback on all of the above. Perhaps I will keep doing this in the future, a bit earlier too depending on when the sessions are filled!

See y’all tomorrow.


Social Media Cafe Manchester session preview – “SEO/social media debate”

Manchester Social Media Cafe logoA topic that’s been floating around for a while is the ongoing debate about how social media and search engine optimisation can interact. To that end, regular social media caffeine-addict David Edmundson-Bird has proposed a debate: “This house believes that social media represents the end of search”.

This is a prescient debate.

SEO has been built on the premise that, despite secretive protocols for ranking pages and the dominance of a single search engine superpower, content can be engineered to score highly in search results for the chosen keywords – while keeping it largely readable.

However, the emergence of user-generated content that is searchable, but where the results cannot be easily optimised, arguably represents a great challenge to the search engine optimisation industry. Now, we have masses of fresh content, often generated in real-time and linked to local, national or global events, which can be instantly indexed and queried for the thoughts of the human hive-mind.

And this content is eminently rich in context, in opinion, in thought and often in multimedia, notably with the rise of smartphones such as the iPhone. It represents a treasure trove of information valuable to marketers, such as opinions on brands, people, places – all the sort of thing you would want to access and to influence in order to promote your clients’ messages.

Until recently, applying well-understood search engine optimisation techniques was a key method for influencing that opinion. Getting your search results high up on Google – on the first page, in fact – was seen as key to put your business or messages on the map for users to click-through to. But influencing search engines can take time, is potentially expensive and very rarely instant.

Now, you can tweet, have that picked up by Tweetmeme, Mashable or Stephen Fry and find that you’ve generated hundreds of thousands of page views for your latest product or campaign within hours.

How’s that for return on investment?

Or as one junior SEO executive recently said, is it the case that investing in social media is like investing in astrology rather than astronomy?

Debate: This house believes that social media represents the end of search – David Edmundson-Bird @groovegenerator

I caught up with David over email. He currently holds the position of Director of Executive Programmes (Digital & Creative) at MMU Business School and Course and Director for the Econsultancy Suite of Masters Programmes. He’s also a council member at Manchester Digital.

The debate is now being held after the other two sessions, so “anyone who is interested in hearing the debate between “traditional” search approach and the newer social media led approach to information discovery” can now take part. Considering many of the attendees are marketers, this should be of “particular interest [to them]…whether traditional, digital or social”, he says.

I think the debate format itself could be particularly interesting. While I have recently become far more used to an informal style of discussion, I’m interested to see how ‘140 Second House rules‘ plays out. David explains:

“Using the 140s House Rules, each speaker has 140 seconds to put his or her point across. At the end of both sides speaking, the chair will open up the debate to the floor with questions – these can only be 140 seconds long, and responses from each side can only be 140 seconds long. After questions, one person from each side makes concluding remarks lasting 140 seconds.”

We’ll then vote on who has ‘won’ the debate.

I have to admit, I initially felt the 140 second rule to be a touch ‘faddy’. However, I remember now that school debates only allowed 180 seconds for responses and comments and, when I chaired my student union debates, I’m sure I allocated much less – and we managed, just about!

I asked what David thought participants – and we as a community – would take away from the debate:

“Hopefully, [participants can take away] an informed view from both sides of an argument. Search and Social are often polarised and people may not be exposed to the argument from both perspectives. There are vested interests in both, but it will be a first opportunity for any to see arguments put head-to-head.”

He admits that it will be “a fairly pro-social crowd, but the Social Media Cafe has been seeing a lot of interest from the marketing industry”. Judging by the attendance list, he’s not wrong.

I’m really pleased that the debate has been moved to after the sessions, giving everyone the opportunity to listen in and potentially pose questions. I, for one, am still mulling it over and I look forward to a really exciting debate that will happen live and on the backchannel tomorrow evening.

David tweets @groovegenerator and blogs at FaceBookCreep.


Social Media Cafe Manchester session preview – “Digital Games and/as Social Media”

Manchester Social Media Cafe logoGiven my background in student activism, I’m always excited to see leaders from higher education attend and present at events like the Social Media Cafe Manchester. Continuing this mini-series of blog posts, I caught up with another presenter who will be at tomorrow’s meeting.

Digital Games and/as Social Media –Professor Ben Light @doggyb

Prof Light (or Ben, if I may!) is Professor of Digital Media at the School of Media, Music and Performance, University of Salford. Which is a pretty cool title. Personally, I’m excited that lecturers (professors, no less) are using social media, let alone lecturing in the subject. In my days at university (not that long ago!), the concept of an electronic presentation was still alien to some of the lecturers who taught me.

Ben will be looking at media convergence: how it happens, why, and some of the implications arising for users and designers. Since March 2006, Ben has been engaged in programme of research that has focused upon how users and designers are making digital games and social media work for them on an everyday basis.

This might sound a tad daunting, but he says, “the session won’t be technical”:

“You don’t need to understand the nuts and bolts – it’s suitable for anyone who has an interest in social media and digital gaming.”

…which sounds like a lot of the people I know who go to SMC. I certainly have been enjoying my Wii of late.

Talking of games consoles, Ben’s bringing an exciting twist to the meeting: SingStar on PS3! He’ll be using it as part of his presentation, which will include a lot of photography and video. I wondered why he was bringing along the popular karaoke game for the PS3:

“SingStar is one of the games I have been studying.”…”I’m bringing it along to demonstrate it and the online community [associated with it] ‘live’.”

I hope the BBC wifi holds out and I have no doubt that we have some secret SingStar fans in the crowd (ahem @realfreshtv!)

I know Ben’s putting his final touches on his session this evening, but I asked him what he hoped participants would get out of the session:

It’s very much about knowledge: how are people using social media, how it’s linked with games. Who are the developers in social media/gaming environments and who are the users – it’s not as obvious as it sounds.

“What ethical issues arise in such spaces? For example, I could talk about ‘grief play’, identity work and social inclusion/exclusion.”

Intriguing. It sounds like Ben will be covering a new area for the Social Media Cafe meetups and doing it in a novel and engaging way. I, for one, can’t wait to get involved.

Professor Light tweets @doggyb and his personal blog is at benlight.org.


Social Media Cafe Manchester session preview – “SocMed Actually”

Manchester Social Media Cafe logoThe September 2009 meeting of Manchester’s Social Media Cafe is tomorrow. Slightly later than planned, I thought I’d write previews of the upcoming sessions, so I caught up with those running the sessions by email. If you’re still not sure which of the sessions you’d like to go to, hopefully the next few ‘preview’ blog posts will help you decide.

SocMed Actually – 1 – Julia Shuvalova @mundusvivendi

Julia, pen name, Julie Delvaux, is planning to run an intriguing series of sessions entitled ‘SocMed Actually’. The aim of the series is to help illustrate which different social media channels are being used and are successful in various different sectors of industry.

“By day”, Julia heads up a social media department and devises social media strategies. Her background is as a writer and poet, translator, historian, with wide-ranging experience in media and digital marketing.

Julia’s sessions are aimed at a wide audience: “everyone interested in the return on investment (ROI) of social media, as well as everyone interested in how to use social media/online PR to generate the maximum effect.”

Julia will be making a presentation to introduce the topic followed by a discussion. There are some key things that she hopes participants will take away:

“Although Social Media is free, the ‘Susan Boyle effects’ don’t always happen out of nothing. You need to promote what you’ve created; so we need to take the minimal costs into account and dance from there.”

“My session is going to talk about both those measurable and immeasurable values [and help illustrate them] with some calculations.”

Social Media can be measured and the ROI can be leveraged!”.

The session should be particularly interesting, as it’s followed by a debate on social media vs search, at which one of the key topics will no doubt be the ability (or otherwise) to measure the impact of social media.

Julia tweets @mundusvivendi and her personal website is at Avidadollars.com.

Update: Julia has posted her presentation on Slideshare:

Her background is Writer and poet, translator, historian, with experience in Media and Digital Marketing


Webcasting on a shoestring (or how to broadcast on the cheap)

Manchester Social Media Cafe logoDownload this post as a PDF.

I presented for the first time last night at Manchester’s social media café. It’s an open meeting for those interested in social media “to gather, get acquainted, and to plot, scheme, and share with emphasis on open and interesting conversation”.

I’d just moved to Manchester on the weekend before the first meeting was held, which was a brilliant opportunity to dive straight into Manchester’s digital scene and, having religiously attended the three preceding meetings, I finally took the plunge and signed-up to do a session. The topic? “Webcasting on a shoestring”.


I was inspired by my recent experience of producing a live webcast for my work, the Equality and Human Rights Commission, of our chair Trevor Phillips speaking at event to mark ten years on from the Stephen Lawrence Inquiry. I was tasked with producing something that we could turn around very quickly – less than ten working days – and that could deliver decent quality video and audio to an unknown number of people.

Why did we want to do a webcast? After all, there were many potential risks – but also a number of benefits. First and foremost, we would have an opportunity for the Commission to broadcast its message directly to those interested in the issues of race and equality in Britain, unfiltered by the reporting of the media. It would also mean that anyone who was able to get a web connection could share in marking an important anniversary in race relations in the UK.

Within that space of time and with some advice from colleagues, I identified ustream.tv as providing a quick and convenient solution to solve the above problems. Here’s how:

Webcasting – it’s not difficult (anymore!)

Webcasting might seem difficult but it’s not – it’s  far cry from the old days when specialist camera equipment and Internet streaming servers were needed. The BBC were very proud of one of their first webcasts back in 1997 when coverage of the Hong Kong handover was squirted out and could be received over a 28.8 kbps modem (for younger readers – that’s probably slower than the slowest data mode on your iPhone).

These days, you can produce webcasts from all sorts of devices and platforms. Computers, webcams, phones – and what you decide to use depends on what kind of webcast you want and where it’s being used.

Taking the plunge

Before you decide that you really do want webcast, you need to make some decisions:

  • What are you going to broadcast exactly? Is it suited for a webcast or is it better to film and place live later? Or just do audio/slides?
  • Does everyone know they’re being broadcast and will this affect the event – some people are uncomfortable with this (e.g. signers/translators) or opinion-formers; children/parents.
  • How interactive is your webcast going to be? The Big C word is ‘conversation’.
  • But if you plan to take questions via the web, you have to have a system to handle this.  Decide how you’ll pick questions – whether it’s the best ones, random selection and so on etc.
  • How will speakers or event moderators get hold of these questions, especially if you’re not physically nearby? The fact is, taking questions online mean nothing if they’re not ‘in the room’ – so it’s important to consider, and brief, those who will be involved in this process.
  • From a PR perspective perhaps – be prepared to answer why an invite only event then being broadcast wasn’t just made an open event. And consider what might happen in the case of an unexpected issue. If there is an audience Q&A, will that be broadcast live online – because this can’t be easily controlled. I imagine this depends on your event and organisation as to how willing you are to let this go out.

Live on the spot can be done easy from a mobile phone using services like Qik.com or Bambuser. Here’s one that Martin did of my presentation:

[vodpod id=Groupvideo.2048787&w=425&h=350&fv=rssURL%3Dhttp%3A%2F%2Fqik.com%2Fvideo%2F8c1a7b92850c48f3b7ee4a9d9c4f91c7.rss%26autoPlay%3Dfalse]

more about “Qik | #smc_mcr“, posted with vodpod

But events where you have more time to set up and taking more of a broadcast rather than reportage approach can call for a more typical setup that requires only three components:

  • Computer/laptop – preferably with FireWire.
  • Video camera – with a DV/FireWire output for the above. Some good-quality webcams are absolutely fine too and usually don’t need a FireWire connection.
  • And of course an Internet connection – a WiFi/broadband connection is ideal for stability, but a medium-strong signal on a 3G USB dongle can suffice. You can test your speed using Toast.net.

Free, as in beer?

Unlike the early days of webcasting, a number of free services now exist that will take video from a computer and squirt it out over the Internet. Free is great, but usually it means that:

  • the service is ad-supported – and you can’t always control the ads.
  • the quality not guaranteed – but often good for many purposes, particularly audio of a speech where it’s a talking head.
  • you have to pay for premium options like no ads or improved frame-rate – but consider if this is actually worth it. Remember, people are used to content appearing on YouTube etc which has ads all over it.

Free services are usually based on Flash which is generally multiplatform (Windows, Mac, Linux etc) and means that you no longer have to invest in specialist equipment to send video out over the web. Your web browser provides the interface through which you can send the video, which also means that viewers only need to have Flash installed to view the video. No need for squiffy, high-bandwidth Windows Media or Real Video setups – I found ustream would produce decent quality video with a bandwidth of up to 50 kb/sec upstream; this is not a big number and comfortably within the capacity of most domestic broadband connections.

As mentioned, we used a service called ustream.tv that would broadcast our event live and, despite the above limitations, fulfil the brief of a quick turnaround, cheap (free!) and reasonable quality. It’s actually very easy to use, and can easily accept video and audio from a FireWire cable such as that from a digital video camera.

Resourcing the day itself

Of course, planning a webcast is not just about technology, it’s also about resourcing – and people who need to be there:

  • As mentioned, using a mobile phone, a single person can record, stream live video to the web over 3G or WiFi.
  • One person can also operate a static camera and computer, but it’s not easy! In particular, one person does make live interactivity more of a challenge.
  • Two person operation is good – they can act camera operator and a tech person (or “producer” if you will). This also gives the tech person a chance to monitor – and engage in – debate online. Ustream provides a chat facility that people can use to discuss the event live with other people.
  • Ideally, perhaps, three people but this is quite a lot of resource for something that isn’t necessarily supposed to be resource-intensive anyway. The third person can work on monitoring the debate around and during the event, as well as managing Q&As, while the tech person only has to focus on ensuring the webcast is up and running.

Getting people talking

Executing a webcast is just one part of getting more people involved in your event. The other part is promoting it and generating some debate around the issue. Our event was intended to initiate an important debate about race and equality in Britain so the webcast was a key (well, low-key) part of that.

Since this was going to be the first time that we had produced a webcast, we were keen to ensure that those who watched it had a good experience but that we didn’t want to oversell it. It was a prototype and one that could of course see many improvements. But generating discussion online and getting people talking (‘buzz’) around a webcast is something we will be doing more of.

  • Blog about it, tweet about it and get people talking.
  • That slightly dirty word… ‘blogger engagement’… but…it is sensible to find out who’d be interested in your webcast and who may wish to watch and write about it. If you know them, it’s easier to approach them of course but if you are making a new contact, I’d suggest you take a very personal, honest and well-researched approach, rather than the hamfisted approach I have seen some examples of: bloggers are not journalists!
  • Prior to the day of the event, and if you haven’t done so already – setup a Twitter account. Ustream lets you tweet live from the event and link to it – so you can announce when you’re live.
  • Announce a hashtag in advance – on Twitter, on the event page and on press releases or other output. On a press release you say? Well consider this: Twitter is now mainstream (thanks @ewanspence). Tell that to your press team :)

Live-blogging / live-tweeting from the event are great ways of keeping the debate going during the event, keeping those who can’t attend engaged and providing a platform from which people can discuss afterwards. It also means you don’t have to rely on posting comments in the Ustream/video streaming chatroom to get debate going. I personally found the following tools useful:

  • Splitweet.com: especially if you’re using a work laptop onto which you can’t install applications. Splitweet let’ you post to multiple Twitter accounts at once and monitor mentions of your brand/organisation or hashtag, based on terms you supply to the system. One word of warning though – it has an annoying ‘ding’ sound that can affect your streaming audio quality – turn it off under the ‘Profile’ option (I couldn’t work this out :)).
  • TweetDeck, the quintessential, multiplatform Twitter client (provided if you can download and install stuff) also performs the same sort of function in a funkier way. Just watch out for your API – if you are requesting too much information from Twitter in a short space of time, you can exceeed your ‘API request limit’ and then will have to wait for this to be reset. Splitweet doesn’t seem to have this problem.

Some pitfalls!

Doing a webcast is great, but not something that is best achieved in isolation from the rest of the event planning. A successful webcast should be well-integrated into the event. Some pitfalls to bear in mind:

  • An unfamiliarity with technology – have a go and test it out well before time – not just the morning or the day before! I gave a demonstration of ustream at the event, but it’s worth just trying it out for yourself rather than me detailing it. There’s a tutorial here which goes into a bit more detail including discussing other handy tools and tips that I wasn’t able to go into, such as branding your webcast through and embedding it.
  • Unexpected incompatibilities – slow Internet/no Internet in location; camera won’t connect because of the wrong cable or software problems
  • A venue/event not suited to webcasting – lighting poor, bad sound or one you have seen before. A recce of the venue is essential to test the system in ‘near-live’ conditions.  You can test the network connection (test stream back to the office?), ensuring that the laptop etc smoothly connects or that you have at least a medium-strong 3G signal. You can also check the physical space and consider issues of lighting, manoeuvring and power points!
  • Not being involved in the event planning before the day – colleagues would benefit from knowing what you’ll be doing and what impact it might have on the event. At the very least, you won’t know where to point the camera! Linked to this…
  • Not knowing who’s speaking – sounds silly but if you get their names and a pic before time, you know to look out for them, especially if there is a panel of speakers.
  • Others not being aware of your presence – as alluded to, some people may have odd reactions to webcasting, while it still seen as relatively ‘new’. There may also be copyright issues, if say you’re in an art gallery or Manchester Town Hall.
  • Managing expectations – I think this is relatively important. A webcast using free tools like the above has limitations – ads, quality, no dedicated infrastructure to guarantee quality 100% – but as long as this is made clear and understood, then it should be manageable. If you prefer not, look at premium options that are out there, including paid-for ustream.
  • Q&As – it’s important to be honest and upfront about whether you’re going to take questions from online, as part of the webcast, or from Twitter. We decided that we wouldn’t, partly as it was a pilot, time was limited and it would be difficult to get the questions up onto the stage from where the webcast was happening in the venue. But if you are going to, let people know how it might happen and how you’re going to manage it. Or, just turn off the chat.
  • Recording your webcast – make sure you do record the webcast as it happens live – ustream has a second button you click to do this. Therefore, you can link to it online within minutes or a couple of hours after the webcast has happened (it needs a bit of processing time). But remember you can’t easily edit the recording. Ustream does let you post the webcast to YouTube, download it as a Flash Video file (and in some other formats up to a certain length) but editing this is extra work and the quality is webcast quality – not a permanent archive. It may be worth ensuring that there is enough tape in the camera and that you have hit the record button while it’s running, or getting a second camera – to ensure you have a permanent, high-quality archive of the event.


Remember, you’re doing the webcast ‘on a shoestring’ so this has big benefits in terms of the bottom-line: and in terms of proving that a webcast can be an effective way of reaching an audience, prior to embarking on investing in an enterprise-level solution.

You can measure the direct viewer numbers very simply on ustream – it’s all listed under the My Shows, ‘Metrics’. It indicates how many unique viewers watched your webcast and also how many total views it received (including visitors who logged on a second time, after a break perhaps, or who have watched a second instalment).

What is a bit more difficult to measure is the impact the webcast achieves in spreading your message. Using the hashtag, you can search Twitter to find out how many different people are talking about your event. Google Blog Search can also help in discovering if any of your blogger engagement was successful.


With a bit of planning, webcasting is simple and relatively cheap to do. Yes, there is an outlay in terms of computer and camera equipment, but this is stuff that is often already available – or can be sourced cheaply, e.g. a good quality webcam. Making sure you know why you want to do a webcast, how interactive it’s going to be and then ensuring you promote it appropriately through Twitter, blogs and other digital channels, are important for attracting an audience and generating the debate that you want about it.  Finally, enjoying playing with the technology – it’s so rewarding to learn how to do something new like a webcast and achieve something that until recently seemed to be the preserve of big corporates!

Download this post as a PDF.

Manchester’s Social Media Cafe, Jan 2009

Manchester Social Media Cafe logo

Manchester Social Media Cafe logo

It’s never too early to sign-up for the next Social Media Cafe, being held on 14 January 2009, 6-9 pm. This time, a new format is being trialled with attendees being given a chance to give a session on area of knowledge or expertise – should be interesting.

Sessions so far: Tim Difford will be talking about how social media can help encourage productive multi-location projects; Julian Tait of Littlestar will ask whether GPS enabled (smart) phones are the future of social networking; and Craig McGinty will be talking about that holy grail – ‘earning an income through your blog’.

Looks like an interesting opportunity to draw upon a range of knowledge from Manchester’s digital talent. Are there any public sector digital people attending? If so, leave a comment or add your name to the wiki.