Technology: I Heart Mixero

I have a confession to make. I’m one of them. One of the elusive Gen Y, part of the tribe that’s pretty much been on the Internet since I turned ten. I love technology and everything it brings. I not only spend most of my day on social media but I’ve also made it my job. Yes, I’m one of those.

I’m also a nerd/geek or whatever word you’d like to use. Always have been. I’m fascinated by learning new things and you can often find me devouring yet another book or article, whatever I can get my hands on. I have no particular interest in biochemistry and often find it even boring yet I’ll spend an hour listening to one of my friends talking about his cool project. Cambridge tends to foster that sort of environment. And so does the Internet and social media channels.

But it’s very easy to get overwhelmed by the sheer volume of information available out there.

I’ve got my RSS feeds from tens of blogs that let me keep up with the latest industry news as well as anything else I might be interested in. I get recommendations from friends on Facebook, sometimes I stumble upon something interesting just by pure chance.

And then there’s the big one: Twitter

I’m currently still following less than 400 people in my Twitter account. That may not seem that much yet it means almost constant bombardment by interesting and often useful insights, jokes and links. And those links are ones that I want to be able to get through. I want to follow the conversations that are taking place on Twitter and I want to be able to make sense of the hundreds of recommended resources and blog posts that appear in my Twitter feed every day.

This is not unfiltered information. Despite the feeling of overwhelm, these are exactly the sources of information that are most helpful. They have been filtered by someone I trust or consider an authority. It feels like I have hundreds of personal mentors, ready to share all the best information they’ve come across with me.

Yet as with everything in this world, not all links to outside information have been created equal. I need a way to distil the most important pieces and have them presented in a format that makes the most sense.

That’s where Mixero comes in.

Mixero is a desktop (and iPhone) Twitter application that organises my Twitter feed in a way that truly makes the most sense.

Here are some of the reasons why I heart Mixero:

  • Mixero lets me organise my Twitter contacts into groups (that are local to my computer/username) – I have a group which congregates feeds from designers, another one with social media industry news, a local one for my Cambridge-based contacts etc.
  • I can add all or only certain groups to my “Active List” – a left part of the screen where the Twitter feed appears
  • I can specify different contexts – maybe I want to read about social media at work and about cooking at home
  • It lets me easily save searches for terms, groups of terms, or hashtags.
  • I can get instant information about any user right within the interface.

How do you deal with the overload of information and what tools have been most helpful to you?

A Year On: LifeWithSocialMedia.com Re-Imagined

I started this blog a year ago, in June 2010. A lot can change in a year and today I bring LifeWithSocialMedia.com back into the light of the blogosphere, with a new resolve, with new ideas and with new direction.

The last 12 months

The last year was a year of trying to find my feet, trying to figure out how I’ll fit into this post-university ‘real’ life. It’s been 11 months since my graduation from the lovely Churchill College of Cambridge University, since I was handed my diploma and sent to find my place outside of the bubble of Cambridge education.

I started the year working for a lovely small agency here in Cambridge, UK, absorbing like a sponge and trying to learn as much as I can about social media, marketing and running a small business. During the year my role kept shifting and accommodating, one of the joys of working in a startup, and I found myself growing into a Community/Content/Marketing gal for Alfred.  I’m happy to say I’ve enjoyed my work very much and am keen to find out how it will continue evolving.

Looking ahead

Yet the next 12 months promise to be so much more eventful. There will be a change in my role, the outlook of long-term travel and many more changes, all of which you’ll hear more about in the next few days, weeks and months.

With this new impulse, the direction of Life With Social Media will shift as well. I’ll continue writing about the uses of social media and the tools that make our lives easier yet I want to also take a higher level look –

  • How can we really make the most of social media to live the lives that we’ve always wanted to?
  • Is it possible to use the tools of web 2.0 to really live the life that we imagine, from anywhere in the world?

I hope you tag along for the ride!

Lessons Learnt at AdTech

My HipstaPrint 01 300x300 Lessons Learnt at AdTech 2010

I’ve just returned from my first big industry event. It was exciting and new and a great experience of actually going out there as someone who works in the field, representing a company. I was able to have a conversation about the products and strategies that were being presented with the background of having worked on real-world projects, helping several clients.

But I was also coming in with fresh eyes and that allowed me to evaluate the event from a bit of a blank slate.

Here are some of my take-aways from the day:

  • Business cards are a must – AdTech was a two-day event. Two days full of seminars, exhibitor stalls, keynotes, meetings…resulting in crowds and crowds of people coming in through the door. Whoever you talk to, I guarantee they won’t remember your name the next day as there’s simply too many new faces. Having a quick way to hand over your contact information was essential.
  • Interesting business cards are better – I can’t even count anymore how many times I’ve had a conversation that was simply sparked by my colourful Moo Mini cards. They look different. They feel different. They’re definitely not boring and people will remember you better simply because you gave them something memorable. Go get yours now.
  • Not all seminars were made equal – I was really excited about the seminar part of the day and had decided beforehand which sessions seemed really interesting and which I would go to. That plan didn’t work quite so well simply because the quality of the seminars was varied and I often found myself feeling bored after five minutes of listening to an uninteresting pitch on an idea that seemed brilliant. I learned to walk away.
  • But for the good ones, come early – If there’s something you really want to see, be prepared to show up 10 or 15 minutes early as places will go fast. Listening from behind the seminar area is not pleasant and often virtually impossible with all the noise around.
  • Travel light – I spent the whole day walking around with my own bag, a coat and a promotional bag full of paper and hidden gems. The exhibition hall was packed and it certainly would have been easier walking around had I planned to take as little as possible in advance. You can get pen and paper at certain seminars (e.g. Google’s AdWords Factory Tour provided a goodie bag and I ended up just using this convenient stationary rather than fishing out my own shiny Moleskine).
  • It will all be one long pitch – Exhibitors are in sales – they will be trying to pitch you the product or service, get your business card (or scan your barcode – more on that in another post) and sign you up for life. Well, maybe not the last bit. But it will pretty much be a pitch and sales event so brace yourself in advance.
  • So come prepared with a plan – Why are you there? Is there anyone specific you want to talk to? Are there seminars that look interesting? Is there a product you want to check out? Make a plan so you don’t end up aimlessly wandering around. The hall is big and you will get distracted.
  • Network in advance – Industry events are a great way to network with people in your field. But these big events are too busy and overcrowded and I found myself not actually having that many nice relaxed conversations getting to know industry colleagues. It would have made a huge difference to seek out others that are going well in advance, connect with them on Twitter and maybe have a few online chats. That way, we could have arranged to meet up on the day. Well, I’ll learn my lesson for next time.

Do you have any tips for the next event? What do you usually do to get the most of industry conferences and networking opportunities like this?

Why Ad:Tech Did Permission Marketing Right

My HipstaPrint 0 300x300 Why Ad:Tech Did Permission Marketing Right

As I mentioned in my previous post, I learned a few lessons at Ad:Tech this week. What I liked most about the event, however, was the precision with which they had permission marketing down to an art.

When I registered to attend Ad:Tech (for free), I was added to the list with updates about the upcoming conference, informing me about the free seminars and the scheduled programme. I could have ticked more boxes and received emails about advertising at the event or about the conference itself, but by giving me the choice, the Ad:Tech team ensured that I opted-in to receive the information I would actually find useful rather than annoying me with unsolicited emails.

Using my interest and my permission

At the conference itself, my interest (in all things advertising, marketing, technology) and my permission (to be contacted about suitable offers that may interest me as a marketing professional) was used in very inventive ways. From the moment I stepped into the exhibit hall at Olympia and printed out my attendee badge with a barcode (see above), my permission was being utilised on every step. A hostess at the entrance scanned my barcode to record I was there (and that it was only on Wednesday rather than on both days of the event). Every seminar I sat down for, someone would be scanning my badge just as any exhibitor I talked to would make sure to scan the barcode I wore around my neck.

Here’s why this rocks for the organisers and exhibitors:

  • Both the organisers and the exhibitors are operating on a sound basis or assumption that if I attended the event (in my own free time), I’m interested in the topics/products/services that were being discussed or presented on the days.
  • The organisers now know exactly which day (if not both) I showed up at the event and whether I was keen (the time of my arrival) or came just for an afternoon.
  • They know exactly which seminars I chose to attend, giving them a very clear idea of what my specific interests in Ad:Tech were. Now they can email me with invitations to sessions and events that will cater specifically to what I’m looking for. (And I hope they do.)
  • The exhibitors that I talked to and that scanned my badge now have not only my contact information in easily accessible form (in case my business card gets lost) but also have a full list of potential contacts that they talked to on the day.
  • The exhibitors can email me with tailored offers if they get access to information about my interests as well.

What do you think? Is there anything they could have done even better? Did you mind having your badge scanned?