ScotWeb2 unconference: the net, the government and Scotland

web 2.0 tag cloud

At w00tonomy, we’re very excited by the upcoming ScotWeb2 unconference on Hallowe’en at Edinburgh University for “those interested in learning about Web 2 from practitioners, government and business users”.

It is “an informal, bar camp style event allowing participants to listen, network and share experiences with those who have designed and are managing Web 2 services. Speakers and workshop leaders from Health, Business, Web design, Colleges and Universities, Social Enterprises, Social Media, Journalism, Government and Civic Society”.

The event is being organised by Alex Stobbart of the Scottish Government (née Executive). Alex is an evangelist for the opportunities offered by the web. He is a giant floating brain who has recruited a coven of like-minded individuals within the SG who meet at the dead of night in cowled hoods, exchanging arcane passwords and sharing forbidden knowledge about tags, tweets and user content…

Actually we made that bit up – we got carried away with the fact the event is on samhainn. But Alex is an evangelist and does lead a high-powered group of colleagues who are keen to embrace the openness that the new web offers. Having worked closely on Scottish Government projects, we at w00tonomy have met many civil servants who “get it” and cheer Alex’s efforts to mobilise them.

However, ScotWeb2 is a separate project for Alex and BT are backing it. Tickets are available from Eventbrite.

The speakers include Simon Dickson: an e-government consultant and “Whitehall’s first full-time website specialist back in 1995”; Iain Henderson from personal data protector MyDex; Ross Ferguson from Dog Digital; and w00tonomy’s endlessly self-promoting Stewart Kirkpatrick, who will talk about how to  optimise content to get messages across.

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Transcript of w00tonomy Content Marketing cast – final part

Each day this week we are publishing one of the questions and answers from the Content Marketing cast interview with Mark Gorman. At the end of the week we will provide all the question and answers in the form of a w00tonomy e-book. Hope you enjoy!

Stewart: Looking beyond Scotland to where perhaps the online market is more mature……What are the innovations that you are excited about online at the moment?

Mark: Well, there is a new innovation every day, isn’t there! Some of which are completely meaningless, completely useless and are just a fashion items. We saw big excitement amongst my circle of friends last year about the rise of Facebook as it moved out of the student generation into a wider group but already the talk is Facebook……well that was so 2007. So, I think that the danger is that there is a lot of bandwagon jumping going on, and that the bandwagons people are jumping on don’t necessarily have any strong marketing role in the mix…they’re just a bit of fun. Really, the industry…the digital communications marketplace needs to settle down a little bit I think and find real strong communications tools, vehicles and sites coming through.

Stewart: If you had to pick an online property or innovation you felt was going to last, that was of use…What would it be?

Mark: Well having just dissed Facebook, I think that there is potentially, the applications that work with Facebook, once you get rid of the killing Zombies type applications and look at the social networking opportunities that lie there…may well give it a great deal of resonance. But there is some fairly fundamental biggies out there. I have been reading recently about a thing called “The Grid”…that says…this is a thing coming out of Cern in Switzerland where the worldwide web was invented…and says that this will give instant access to the internet and is a new form of internet. I don’t know enough about it but it does sound very interesting and it does for me touch on a pretty major issue which I am starting to see…and I think that part of it is down to the impact that BBC iPlayer has had. iPlayer, great idea but it sucks up bandwidth. From personal experience it looks to me like there is major contention issues coming through even on 8MB width that you are getting from your local BT server…whatever. If that is true and that starts to grow, it’s going to really frustrate people about the opportunities that the web brings and it’s going to drive people away because we all remember what is was like using a 56k modem…which just didn’t work. So that I think is an issue.

Stewart: …and finally…if you could ‘kill’ any website, which website would you ‘kill’?

Mark: Msn!

Stewart:Good man…..Mark Gorman, thank you very much.

Q&A w00tonomy Content Marketing cast – part 2

Each day this week we are publishing one of the questions and answers from the interview with Mark Gorman. At the end of the week we will provide all the question and answers in the form of a w00tonomy e-book. Hope you enjoy!

Stewart: You mentioned the fragmentation of the media and obviously that has been driven by the growth of online….How do you see the Scottish online landscape?

Mark: It feels very young…it feels quite inexperienced and it feels driven by creative energy, technical expertise and technical innovation.The concern I have about the digital industry in Scotland is that it doesn’t feel particularly embedded by marketing people, it feels more embedded by creative and technical people….and that’s great because a lot of the online opportunities are technical but when you’ve got to go out there and spread marketing messages to people, I think if you lack that skill base in marketing that could be something which hampers our industry.

That is perhaps just because we are in the early stages and there is a lot of people growing up and into those roles but I would like to see more of a focus on the quality of the strategic thinking about the message, rather than the medium.

Stewart: So what are the pitfalls of just focusing on the medium rather than the message?

Mark: That the content is irrelevant, or the content is naive, or the content doesn’t engage with the sales message and the rest of the marketing mix…as in a more mature sense.

Transcript of w00tonomy Content Marketing cast – part 2

Each day this week we are publishing one of the questions and answers from the Content marketing cast interview with Mark Gorman. At the end of the week we will provide all the question and answers in the form of a w00tonomy e-book. Hope you enjoy!

Stewart: You mentioned the fragmentation of the media and obviously that has been driven by the growth of online….How do you see the Scottish online landscape?

Mark: It feels very young…it feels quite inexperienced and it feels driven by creative energy, technical expertise and technical innovation.The concern I have about the digital industry in Scotland is that it doesn’t feel particularly embedded by marketing people, it feels more embedded by creative and technical people….and that’s great because a lot of the online opportunities are technical but when you’ve got to go out there and spread marketing messages to people, I think if you lack that skill base in marketing that could be something which hampers our industry.

That is perhaps just because we are in the early stages and there is a lot of people growing up and into those roles but I would like to see more of a focus on the quality of the strategic thinking about the message, rather than the medium.

Stewart: So what are the pitfalls of just focusing on the medium rather than the message?

Mark: That the content is irrelevant, or the content is naive, or the content doesn’t engage with the sales message and the rest of the marketing mix…as in a more mature sense.

w00tonomy content marketing cast: Mark Gorman

Mark Gorman of Thinkhard talks about the future of marketing in Scotland. We like to rave about the wonders of cost-effective videos and podcasting so we’ve put our mouth where our money is and produced this interview.


Se7en deadly sins of online – WRATH

We are uncovering w00tonomy’s take on the se7en deadly sins and the virtues of Content Marketing. These are the vices we’ve seen drag businesses into the express elevator to redesign hell. Going down!

WRATH – blaming the customer for not caring

The last sin in our series happens when all that excitement over your site launch is a distant memory and you start to hear the murmurings of another site redesign. The lack of post launch editorial planning has started to destroy that great design that you agonised over. As the content has been lumped onto the site the usability has been lost and customers complain that they can’t find the information they need. The analytics which were a key part of your business case to support the site development budget have become just another spreadsheet of numbers that are reported each month – no follow-up action and no progress. And a recent customer survey that you ran online your customers say that they find your competitor’s site better and easier to use.

This is when the defensive rage starts to kick-in. The problem is not yours, it’s the customers. They don’t really understand your business; there are very few people interested in your content and it is very dry and uninspiring so it is not surprising nobody wants to read it. And finally your customers don’t really like to use net anyway. Over the years we at w00tonomy have heard all of these. If any of these are true then you should probably question why you built a site in the first place.

The reality is that away from the jargon and Internet speak, carrying out your business online is no different from any other aspect of what you do – it has to be audience focused. People want things that add value to their lives. People like stories and dislike advertising. People like to build trust through relationships over time. People like to learn through interaction. People like to be in control and not be interrupted. What makes online so different is that it condenses all of these experiences onto a single screen.

This why we at w00tonomy are driven by the belief that “every business has story to tell each one of its customers” and why it is the most effective and only way to build long-term relationships online.

Se7en deadly sins of online – GREED

We are uncovering w00tonomy’s take on the se7en deadly sins and the virtues of Content Marketing. These are the vices we’ve seen drag businesses into the express elevator to redesign hell. Going down!

GREED – lots of data no intelligence

You can have too much of a good thing. It has often been commented that online wins over offline because it offers real time feedback of people’s behaviour. This is true, but what is provided is something like this

Page views 10,000; Unique visitors 3000; click through rates 10%; bounce rates 3%; 55% of search engine traffic from Google; Top ten search terms are…

What does that actually tell us? The answer is very little – it gives no real nderstanding of who is visiting a site and what they are doing.

The reason so many businesses accept this quality of reporting (and so many agencies provide it to clients) is simple. With the sophistication of analytics software now available in the market place (Google Analytics, HBX, Omniture, etc) production of data is cheap but intelligence is expensive.

For this reason businesses and agencies are often greedy for data and do not invest the time and effort to turn data into intelligence. Without this investment they try to substitute volumes of data for insight – the intelligence must be in there somewhere so no-one can complain they never saw it.

Data will not help when you evolve your online strategy. Instead any changes you make will be a gamble that will be based on a hunch or the HIPPO effect (HIghest Paid Person’s Opinion) described by Avinash Kaushik.

In order for the cycle of measure and evolve to work effectively your digital marketing strategy should be driven not by the greed for more data but by intelligent analysis making clear recommendations. In. Plain. English.