Work life

I passed the Google Analytics IQ Test

At the start of the year I set myself the goal of improving my understanding and working knowledge of google analytics and I specifically set the goal of passing the Google Analytics IQ (GAIQ) exam by the close of April 2015.

This was in part due to a growing reliance on the platform for monitoring and reporting as part of the day to day responsibilities of the team. It was also in response to me recognising that I didn’t know the platform as well as I needed to. Furthermore, it is also something I want my team to undertake as part of their career development, so I was happy to be the guinea pig.

So whilst I didn’t pass it before April, I did pass it.

Google Analytics IQ Certificate

Google Analytics IQ (GAIQ) Certificate

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Marketing, Things I love, Work life

Six newsletters that won’t see me hitting unsubscribe.

I recently culled a load of newsletters. Usual criteria applied: unread, unopened, boring. Some of which I hadn’t even subscribed to. (One was from a company who I had recently applied for a role. Anyhoop, despite several attempts to follow up the application, I didn’t hear from them. Then I did hear from them. They had subscribed me to their newsletter. Which was nice.)

Unsubscribe Graffiti

I digress. I typically don’t subscribe to pure b2b marketing newsletters, simply because I use twitter to find good articles, or rather, because I manage my following and lists pretty well the articles find me. So the list below is a mix of this and that. Nevertheless, I hope you find the same level of inspiration in them that I do.

1. Battenhall. A generalist yet solid and consistently good range of insights into social and comms. If you subscribe you can expect to get ad-hoc updates throughout the week and a monthly roundup. Such as this.

2. Longform. They have perfectly judged the length of it’s content and the time of delivery. So unsurprisingly it pops into my inbox on a Saturday afternoon (Morning if you’re in the US). This means I have time to read it. That said I typically save them to Instapaper which in turn pings them to my Kindle. It’s also my current favourite site.

3. In over your head. First thing I should say is that it isn’t a newsletter. In fact it’s the only blog to which I subscribe outside of my greader/feedly. Why? Because of this post, one of my favourite posts of all time. That aside, I’m a big fan of Julien’s no-nonsense approach to writing.

4. SEOMoz. Perhaps an obvious one. Nevertheless, they have nailed it.  Their monthly Top 10 is absolute gold. They balance their own content with curated content really well. In a nutshell, the best 10 articles on Inbound marketing, design, UX, customer experience.

5. 37 Signals.  Called ‘Incoming Transmission’ it covers topics such as business, web and design. Again they balance their own content and curated content really well so you’re as likely to read something by one of their designers on UX as your are about what happens to a face cloth in space.

6. Brain Pickings. I’ve only been subscribing a little while but blimey there is some fascinating stuff in there. Pure Inspiration. Such as this. I don’t always read it week to week but it’s one of those newsletters that if I unsubscribed I’d probably forget it existed and that wouldn’t be a good thing.

Which newsletters do you refuse to unsubscribe from?

Photo Credit: incurable_hippie via Compfight cc

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Homelife, Work life

The tools, software and apps I can’t live without..

I recently stumbled across the ‘How I work’ series from Lifehacker which is a really nice profile of how people work rather than purely a profile of their career to date.

So here’s my version of sorts:

My essential hardware

IMG_20121121_163906

I use a Macbook pro 15″. It’s now about 4 years old, and still running beautifully. I’ve purposely kept it software lite so besides OS upgrades, I have the adobe suite and Lightroom to support my photography hobby.

My phone is an HTC desire which upon hitting it’s two year birthday last October decided it would start to become a dumb phone. It will be replaced with a Nexus 4 next month.

I still use my trusty iPod classic. It’s dumb but I love it. My perfect no distractions approach to music consumption.

My 2nd gen Kindle is a constant companion. Another dumb device but that’s fine. And, the battery life is incredible. Oh and the Hard Graft case I use is beautiful.

My moleskine. It’s a bit of hardware. Just not in the tech sense. It’s my go to note taking device.

My Aeropress. Essential.

My watch. Few things are more satisfying than winding up my watch first thing in the morning and last thing night.

The apps and software I can’t live without

I use a combination of Google Chrome and Firefox depending on what I’m need the browser to do. Gmail is my go to email platform. And tweetdeck my chosen platform for managing my social profiles.

I can’t live without Evernote. It’s my tool for capturing thoughts, ideas, photo’s of whiteboard brainstorms. Everything. I also use it as my platform for my GTD process. I’ve yet to figure out a way of managing a daily to do list in Evernote that I am happy with so I use my moleskine to list out my daily priorities (5) and that days big rocks.

I use Dropbox for document sharing at work. It’s often more reliable than the office VPN, so it’s perfect for remote working. For homelife, I use Google Drive.

I like to read blog post and long form posts, but I often don’t like reading them at my desk, so I use Instapaper as my repository of articles I want to read later. Over the years it’s become an essential tool. Also by being able to sync it to my Kindle I get a daily update of recently added articles.

A couple of other tools that I find really useful are these two browser add-ons:

Awesome screenshot. The best screenshot tool I’ve ever used.

Clearly. This extension from Evernote simply clears the clutter from the web page leaving only the text/article you want to read.

What are your essential tools? What can’t you live without?

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Homelife, Marketing, Work life

From WordPress to Posterous and back…sort of…

Two days before Christmas 2012, I removed the twitter and instagram apps from my phone. I primarily did this to get off the grid for a couple of weeks. I wanted to spend time with my friends and family, and I didn’t want nor need the distraction that both these networks provide me. Personally, I have found them to be two huge timesinks.

It’s been three weeks and I haven’t re-installed them. I don’t miss them.

So, this little exercise got me thinking about all my online profiles. So as I conducted a new year spruce, I logged into my wordpress blog and noticed that I hadn’t posted since the end of 2010. My Posterous on the other hand has been a bit more active. However, I cannot remember how or why I came to having two blog platforms. I certainly can’t remember the decision making process for deciding that this was a good idea. Anyhoop, I need to streamline my blogging *cough*Ineedtoblogmoreoften*cough* and the platforms. Thus, I’m moving back to wordpress.

I’m doing this for two reasons:

1. I use wordpress in a professional capacity and I feel more comfortable with the UI etc etc

2. The future of posterous looks a very uncertain given the twitter acquisition. (Incidently, no news is bad news) And besides, it’s become an unwieldy beast of a platform. I can no longer find my way around it with any ease or with the enjoyment that I used to.

So, here’s to a streamlined 2013.

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Work life

The problem with social media #1: Free & Easy

Image by ky_olsen via flickr

It’s not free and its not easy.

Of course, the platforms are free and it doesn’t take much to sign up to LinkedIn or friendfeed. You’ll get a few ‘friends’ and a few ‘follows’ without much initial effort. It all seems so easy.

And then, of course, there is the inevitable discussion about ROI. People talk about finding the ultimate measure of ROI in social media, because we all know by now that Dell achieved $6.5 in sales through Twitter alone, and Ford have make excellent ground and so forth. However, what a lot people fail to remember is that both Dell and Ford have experienced huge failures in social media in the past. It’s taken them years to get to where they are now. In short, it’s not the return, it’s the investment.

Personally, I think businesses need to forget, at least in the short term, about the return they hope to achieve from social media, and instead focus on the investment required to make any social media activity a success. I am currently rolling out a social media strategy in the ‘change management’ space. This is a new approach to my client and as such all I will be doing for the next two months is simply listening.In the words of Chris Brogan, I will be ‘growing bigger ears.” And yes, GoogleReader, google alerts, and the excellent addictomatic, are free, but it’s going to take a huge amount of time to distill all the information into a meaningful analysis of, for example, the key bloggers and trust agents within the Change Management world.

This sentiment was in part echoed by BSkyB’s Maz Nadjm (@mazi) and by Fresh Networks’ Charlie Osmond (@cosmond) at yesterday’s Likeminds conference as part of a panel discussion on the key components of a social strategy. Maz stated that it has “taken (BSkyB) years to get to where we are now…and has involved a huge amount of internal education and communication”. These things do not happen overnight. Charlie Osmond at FreshNetworks, reiterated Maz’s point by stating that “it took manufacturers years to get to grips with Just In Time processes, and some are still struggling. The same can be said for social. BSkyB are ahead of the curve but for many companies it will take years and and even then may not crack it.”

Social media takes time. Be appreciative of the resource, and not necessarily financial, that will be required to become ‘social’, or at least be able to identify the communities you wish to be engaging with. Anyone can sign up to a social platform and claim they are engaging, but very few can demonstrate that they have invested properly at the front end, so that they know who they are engaging with.

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Marketing, Work life

A new adventure awaits……

via Flickr: geishaboy500

After an eventful 2009, which saw me end my time with Easynet and become another ‘Global Recession’ statistic, I am pretty chuffed to say that a new challenge awaits me today, as I join Changefirst as their new marketing manager.

Changefirst provide change management solutions for the likes of Nokia, Zurich and Virgin Media, and I am very excited to be joining them and getting involved with the many and varied projects that lie ahead. The next couple of weeks will be spent getting to know them, their accounts and strategies, as well as their core methodology for change management. I cannot wait, I am really looking forward to getting my hands dirty again.

Of course, there will be more updates on the adventure as it unfolds.

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