Ninian Doff

5 videos that have expanded my mind

No not a post about hallucinogenic drugs, but just as mind-expanding. These videos have inspired me and made me think about my marketing problems in a different way.

 

So I’m sharing them with you :)

1. What makes a good brief?

This is four talks in one. APG has a great program of speakers and I particularly like Craig Mawdsley’s talk on how a brief can save an agency money (about 8 minutes in):

2. Here’s to the dreamers

Academy Shorts is a great YouTube channel about film making. The Academy are the Oscars people. Love this video because I get so inspired by passionate people talking about what inspires them. This video makes be want to be the best version of me:

3. A 15 year old just cured cancer

This video is both inspiring and sickening (when I was 15 I certainly wasn’t curing cancer, I was probably curing a hangover). Watch this video when you’ve got 10 minutes and need a bit of sole food.

4. Another TED talk, nothing like any other TED talk

Sarah Silverman: funny, provocative and will literally make you ask questions of your morality:

5. Ninian Doff, the next Spike Jonze

Beautiful video using colour screens as a narrative device. Love it and this is just one of many music videos he’s done that are really different.

This week in Content (TWIC) 18/7/14

The wonderful world of content marketers came together through the Kelvin Newman event, The Content Marketing Show. The FREE (yes FREE) event had some great speakers and I’d personally like to thank the organisers for the drinks afterwards.

You’ll be able to find the presentations on Twitter and I do recommend you try to seek them out. But what else has happened this week in content?

Here goes:

Bear Naked team up with Devinsupertramp:

For some really nice brand content fun-in-the-sun!

Devinsupertramp is a big name in the world of YouTube creators. One of the craziest videos I’m seem from him was Boyfriend pushes Girlfriend off cliff. Good event and nice video piece will just under 800k views in 3 days.


 Guevara launch to fanfare:

Wired Money startup competition winner launches with a great new website and hugely positive press coverage

Guevara


 Natwest launch ‘Cost of a child calculator’ with blogger challenge:

Natwest calculator

 

Bloggers were given supermarket vouchers and challenged to see whether they could feed their family on £30 – £50 a week. Some of the coverage:


Bosch UK launch ‘Let Karl Explain’:

These hilarious videos are so Meta that even the presenter might not realise how funny they are. They do speak to the benefits of the products as well. So win, win!


 Why ever brand should be thinking about their Twitter bot strategy:

Tom Dinsdale‘s article is both eye opening and a little bit depressing when you see the examples of brand bots having a fully fledged conversation with each other (and you know what, it doesn’t actually look out of place on Twitter. Read the article on the Gray Tumblr account.

 

ASDA content piece proving safe doesn’t have to be boring

This video from ASDA is a very piece of content marketing:

Nice piece of content marketing from ASDA. The product shown in a good light and there is honest interest for the viewer as the video cuts together various BBQ contestants talking about their passion. This passion carries through the personalities in ASDA that make the BBQ products for sale.

In short: Interesting subject matter, not overly saley. It’s safe, but it shows safe can be entertaining if you get the execution right

Content marketing: roles vs personalities

Content marketing roles are an interesting thing. Take a look at this job board on LinkedIn:

I’ve seen jobs where a content marketer reporting into the board of directors and is called content manager, I’ve seen jobs where the content marketer reports into the community manager and is called content marketing director. The point is that there isn’t a definitive set of job titles for content marketing, less so a definitely organisational hierarchy!

So I got to thinking, why are we hiring for job roles, when in fact we should be hiring for personalities?

What are the personalities your content marketing team needs?

The evangelist

The person for whom content marketing isn’t a job but a calling. This person can stand in front of 1000 people and proclaim the second coming in the form of a “10 things about 10 things” article on Buzzfeed. This person will infect others around him/her. This person will champion content marketing outside of the core team.

What to look for: someone who’s drank the “Kool aid”; a true believer; a person who done it, failed and this keeps coming back for more.

The doer

This is someone who’s going to get the content out the door. It’s someone happy to say, “it’s not perfect but it’s 80% and we can get it live today and refine tomorrow”. This person doesn’t have to be the “boss”, they don’t even have to be a writer/producer they just need to have a drive to publish and promote, and they need to drive other people to publish and promote as well.

What to look for: deadline setting, self starter, possibly someone with experience at Lean startups.

The thinker

If the doer is all about getting stuff out the door, the thinker is the traditional planner personality. They want absolute perfection, they want a clear line of sight to the end goal, they will debate and discuss and contemplate all day if they could. Together the thinker and the doer will battle for the balance between thinking and doing.

What to look for: strategic thinking, the ability to weave a story around anything they are saying, someone very unlikely to give you the solution there and then.

The wolf

This is the person who’s going to step over anyone who gets in their way. This personality is going to help you in the long run. Maybe content marketing is the buzz word in your organisation at the minute, but not for long. Soon there will be a newer, younger, pretty service to sell and important people will start forgetting about you. The wolf isn’t interested in cool or new, they have a job to do: to keep knocking down the door to long after anyone else would feel it’s acceptable to do so.

What to look for: someone who’s going to run at walls because they want to succeed, not because they are interested in the “cool”.

The creative

This person is the creative powerhouse behind your content marketing. They are relentless in the pursuit of creative excellence. They probably don’t care that much about content marketing, to them this is just the canvas on which to paint their art. They will inspire others around them to think creativity. This person is your best chance of winning an award.

What to look for: a great creative is part visionary, part pragmatist. The creative personality in the world of content marketing needs to be able to communicate ideas that are longer than a single campaign or burst of activity.

Warren Buffett

The money. The person who’s going to keep the commercials intact. The person who’s comfortable saying no. This person is more interested in making money than some great creative or strategic success. They are also willing to bet against the perceived wisdom of the crowd sometimes to get their results.

What to look for: commercially driven with a good foundation in the craft, someone who understands the value to the business and someone who can cut through creativity and strategy to deliver a commercial success.

In conclusion

Am I a “content strategist”, “content manager”, “content, search and social director” or “digital account lead”? These are all jobs roles being advertised on any number of job boards. The answer is that is doesn’t matter.

It’s about a personality and to build a sophisticated content team, it’s about the personalities of the team not what they are called.

No more free keyword tool

Google has launched their keyword planner tool, which is actually an amalgamation of the old keyword tool and the traffic estimator. The new tool launched on the 20th May and, whilst it looks all shiny and new, it is a big shift away from something Google has offered since (pretty much) the beginning of search engines having marketers.

New keyword planner tool

Google are starting to push people to use the new tool – users are automatically shown the new keyword planner page and given the option to revert. That revert option will be gone very soon and in removing that link and the tool, Google are stopping internet marketers from using the free tool.

You see the issue with the new keyword planner is that you need an AdWords account to access it. An AdWords account might be free but it is still a land-grab by Google to get user data that they could use in future to limit or version the experience of the keyword planner based on user history. Imagine a time when you get different search volumes to someone else because that someone else spends more on PPC than you. This would be tantamount to a two-tier system where your insights are blocked because you’ve not paying enough.

Google putting the keyword tool out to pasture and at the same time housing the keyword planner behind a password protected wall means that the every user now has to identify himself (and his website) before getting a view on the best keywords to use for his piece of content.

Is this not an extension of the strategy being employed across Google’s properties to hide keywords for anyone who isn’t a fee-paying member of the AdWords club? First organic keyword data in Analytics was shaded with ‘not provided’; then Google pushed everyone on a smartphone to secure search (compounding even more data inside ‘not provided’); now even researching the best keywords are limited to those users who share personal information with Google.

One last thought: Google limits access to their keyword API if companies are engaged in scraping the search results to check rankings. RavenTools is a pretty high profile example of this practice. What about the website publisher who has to sign up for an AdWords account to gain access to the keyword planner and has access revoked because they are checking the rankings of their website? Now that the keyword planner is behind a locked door this is not only possible, but it could even be probable.

There are some other tools out there for keyword research if you don’t want to use the keyword planner:

  • UberSuggest is a great free tool for big time mining of keywords
  • Wordtracker this is a paid tool (you can access some data for free) but as a competitor to Google it’s the best in the niche.
  • SEMRush one of my favourite tools on the internet. Great for competitor research and it includes a keyword element that will allow you to see information on the keywords competitors are using. Again this is paid but some of the data is free.

Industrial wine bar trends

Wine bar are cool, hip places. I’m personally quite attached to my local wine bar, the lovely basement bar Wildes in Leamington Spa.

Here is some of the best examples of a new trend in wine bar style: industrial design wine bars.

1. Dropshop in Budapest

Ultra-cool Dropshop in Budapest designed by Suto Interior design team Suto Kata and Suto Laszio.

2. Red Pif in Prague

Industrial-chic inspired from Czech and French design situated in Prague’s old town.

3. Vinobravo in Sidney

Industrial wine bar mixing New York style with an Italian flavour in the Cremorne district of Sidney.

Reputation.com – with extra visibility comes extra responsibility

Update 05/02: Google has rolled out a new update and shared some advice for reputation management companies, “don’t fake reviews as they will be taken down”. Google has posted some good and bad practises for customer reviews. In summary Google have said that review should not be summitted or digitized on behalf of a user, reviews should not be written about a company a customer works for and reviews should not include links back to the company website.

Reputation.com the SERPs reputation management specialists announced yesterday  the acquisition of Liverpool based Reputation 24/7 and stridently launched into the UK.

But that vociferous launch now means that Reputation.com is under the spotlight and has even more responsibility to maintain a positive relationship with the search engines, who have long been the natural enemy of the type of service reputation.com provides.

What is SERPs reputation management?

It’s the process of engineering a positive view of the search engine results when a user searches for a brand. Simply, a brand wants to maintain as positive an image as possible on the search results page – they don’t want loads of negative comments appearing when potential customers are searching because it could stop a customer from purchasing.

Google are in the business of delivering the best results, so if the best results are negative comments shouldn’t they appear at the top? That is the challenge of companies like reputation.com because if they are seen to be forcefully manipulating the search engines they will be in trouble by those search engines.

Reputation.com has a growing responsibility to be extra transparent with their practices now that they are receiving much more attention and press coverage. If they don’t they might go the way of Build My Rank and a host of other services that provide a purely technical fix to an SEO problem and in doing so get hit by Google’s algorithm updates.

There is nothing inherently black hat about what reputation.com are offering, I provide a similar service for some of my clients, but the devils in the detail. If reputation.com are engaging in bad practices and quick fixes then rest assured that Google will penalise them and then all that work will be for nothing. If Google penalise reputation.com then their client’s will also be infected and could be penalised re-showing all that negative content that Reputation.com their trying to stifle and introduce a whole new angle to the reputation problems of the brand.

If done carefully and transparently reputation.com could provide a very valuable service to brands and celebrities out there who feel ham-strung by negative content that isn’t representative of their wider customer’s experiences. Let’s not forget that some of the negative content is appearing high because of black hat tactics as well.

Transparency is the key and internal advocacy is the best to deliver that transparency to the outside world.

What to do when you get a “mysqld dead but subsys locked” on EC2

I recently had this problem on this blog (which is hosted on Amazon EC2) so I thought I would collate the research I found into one place to help anyone else that has had this problem in the past.

I’m running MySQL on the same instance as the website at the moment, I know this isn’t the best solution but it is the simplest solution for me. What that means though is that the memory MySQL needs is greatly reduced and can fall over.

The first I knew about this is when WordPress “Could not connect to database” message – big problem, so I’ve added Monitor.us free MySQL hosting to keep an eye on this going forward.

First time around I was able to simple restart MySQL from SSH:

  1. Login
  2. Run command: sudo service mysqld restart
  3. Logout and go

This most recent time it wasn’t as simple as restarting the service because there wasn’t any memory for it. When I used the command:

sudo service mysqld status

I got a message saying, “mysqld dead but subsys locked”. Then I found this really useful post that explained MySQL’s memory issues on Micro Instance of Amazon EC2.

You need to create a swapfile and enable it to give MySQL the memory boost necessary:

dd if=/dev/zero of=/swapfile bs=1M count=1024
mkswap /swapfile
swapon /swapfile
Open /etc/fstab and add this line /swapfile swap swap defaults 0 0

Setting up Apache server with VirtualHosts to run multiple version of WordPress

You can setup apache server to run multiple versions of WordPress, and multiple websites with a single Amazon EC2 instance and if the traffic is below a certain threshold its all for free!

Apache VirtualHosts is a service within http that allows multiple sites to exist on one hosting environment. Simply put, VirtualHosts redirects users to specific folders when they enter via a particular host name. So:

http://mysite1.com -> /www/site1
http://mysite2.com -> /www/site2

The only other way around it would be to redirect the different URLs to sub-directories of the website, i.e.:

http://mysite1.com -> http://mysite1.com/
http://mysite2.com -> http://mysite1.com/site2/

For obvious reasons this is a terrible solution, especially if these websites are completely different brands and businesses.

We need to provide individual hosting solutions for different websites whilst making the hosting costs as cheap as possible, and Amazon’s free cost is the best of all options.

VirtualHosts in httpd

VirtualHosts is found at the bottom of the httpd.conf file and looks a lot like this:

<VirtualHost *:80>
     #Stuff #
</VirtualHost>

In the VirtualHost tags you need to include two elements: one that tells the server where the folder is and the other that defines which host should be pointed there:

<VirtualHost *:80>
     DocumentRoot /www/site1
     ServerName mysite1.com
</VirtualHost>

Looks simple, well it is and I got myself to this point quite easily. The problem starts when you try and get WordPress to work within this VirtualHost approach. The problem with WordPress is that they use a .htaccess file to work their rewrite rules. When the admin of the WordPress selects permalinks (for example: /month/blog-post) .htaccess does the rewrite work.

Changing the standard httpd install

The standard install of httpd doesn’t let WordPress use the .htaccess file because it is selected off. The function in the httpd.conf file you are looking for is this:

AllowOverride None

Basically this is saying that you need to follow the rules of the conf file and the conf file alone.If you change this option to:

AllowOverride All

you will change the rules and now you are saying all directories have the ability to override the standard install as long at the directory has the .htaccess file (again this is specified in the httpd.conf file):

AccessFileName .htaccess

This is at approximately line 405. When you have made the change to the AllowOverride function to All you need to make sure that you restart the server, if you are in SSH you can use the command:

sudo service httpd restart

That should give you everything you need to know in order to setup multiple versions of WordPress on a single apache server. If you need more information add comments or check out the article below.

Full Article: http://akrabat.com/computing/automatic-apache-vhosts/

Tutorial: Setting up an SEO link checker bookmarklet

A bookmarklet is a neat little piece of code that you can drop into the bookmark toolbar in your browser that gives you one click access to all kinds of interesting information. I want to show you a quick tutorial for building your own bookmarklet to check the number of backlinks coming into any website that you are current viewing.

First, pick your data source

My absolute favourite thing about being a hacker/coder is that I really don’t have to do any of the hard graft – someone somewhere has already done the difficult stuff, they’ve created the data source and trust me, there is pretty much an API for anything you want on the web. So with these bookmarklets we aren’t really creating new data we are simply shortcutting our way to the information that we want.

Objective

Paul Madden is a great person to talk to about the process of taking something manual and automating it. It all starts with a simple objective that ANY human can complete, knit simple objectives together and you have a process. ‘Shake the process’ i.e. make sure that the process works with real people and then when you are confident you can start automating.

Bookmarklets require the same structured way of working – you need to be able to manually access the data and it needs to be quite simple otherwise your bookmarklet will fall down. The other point to mention with bookmarklets is that they need to be one click, one action. If you try to throw too many steps into the bookmarklet it will fall down and you won’t use it.

Our objective for this tutorial is to get a list of the top websites linking to any website that we are currently on. So we need three things:

  1. The data for the top websites
  2. The address of the current website
  3. The criteria for measuring the top websites

Doing it manually

SEOmoz has a website called Opensiteexplorer and they (for free) give you information about the links coming to your website. They also give you information about any website that you add to the search box. Pick a website, for this example I’ll use Seer Interactive. Search for that in Opensiteexplorer and you will see this:

Open Site Explorer - Seer Interactive

 

Ace, a list of the top inbound links. But wait, these links are individual links and we would like to just get root domains. Opensiteexplorer gives you an option to show ‘linking domains’. If you click on the middle tab you will see:

Open Site Explorer - Root Domains

Now, like I said, you need to be able to do that manually and in a single step because your bookmarklet is not going to be able to click on a tab.

Testing the URL

Grad the URL that is in the address bar when you see the above linking domain data, open up a different browser and paste the address. If you see the exact same information you know that you can get to the data from a single step.

Obviously for this test we knew that we could get that data from OSE, but the principle is the same: navigate yourself to the data, grab the URL and try is somewhere else to make sure that you can access it.

This is always going to be the case, sometimes the URL you paste into another browser gives you an empty screen, sometimes you get the search box rather than the results. This is the difference between GET data and POST data. GET data is the stuff you want because there will always be a specific URL that you can get back to the same information wherever and whenever you want.

Making up the URL

If you take the above example you will see that the URL is this:

http://www.opensiteexplorer.org/domains?site=www.seerinteractive.com

The first part of the URL is the domain www.opensiteexplorer.org. The last part of the URL is the ?site=www.seerinteractive.com. The middle part of the URL /domains is the operator that specifies that you want to see top domains. Click one of the other tabs and that will change:

  • links will show all links
  • anchors will show top links text
  • pages will show top pages

Quick start to using Javascript

Javascript is super easy to use, and because it is client side (based in the browser not on a server) you can start playing around with it straight away. Try this: Open up Chrome, navigate to any website, right click and choose ‘inspect element’. You will see a box open in the bottom of the screen and there will be a tab called ‘console’. This gives you direct and live access to Javascript functions. Type the following into the console window and hit enter:

alert("Hello World")

You will see an alert window pop up saying “Hello” and then you can click OK to close it.

Try this one:

alert(location.host)

Now things start to get interesting – you should see the root domain of the website you can currently on, so if your on Google an alert box will pop up saying “www.google.com”. Now try this again but do it on this blog post and change the code slightly:

alert(location.href)

You will see this:

Screen of Is it a blog? alert box

Turning the URL into something automated

We now have a way of grabbing the address of the current page you are on so with a bit of automation and code we can make the bookmarklet grab that address and place into the end of the URL we know gives the data we want from Opensiteexplorer.

The code to do that is:

alert("http://opensiteexplorer.org/domains?site="+location.href)

Try that in the console for this page and you will this:

Alert box screen

That’s great – that exactly the same as the URL you would paste into a browser window to get to the data!

Making the bookmarklet

Now that you’ve done that stuff above it’s super easy to create the bookmarklet. What you need is to take the URL that is being displayed in the alert box but instead of just displaying it you want the browser to action it i.e. actually take you to the URL.

This is actually really simple code as well in Javascript:

location.href='http://opensiteexplorer.org/domains?site='+location.href

Simply, you are saying “location.href” (the browser’s URL) needs to equal “www.opensiteexplorer.org” (the Opensiteexplorer website) with the “domains operator” (the top websites tab) “+” the current “location.href” (the browser’s URL).

Once you have this working (try it in console like all your other Javascript) you can simply right click on the bookmarks toolbar in the browser and choose “add bookmark”. Give the bookmarklet a name that will remind you what it does and type “javascript:” and then without a space the above code.

Final step

Done! Now whenever you click on the bookmarklet you will be redirected to Opensiteexplorer and it will show you a list the top websites linking to the URL you were browsing.