What a Beautiful Day

September 10th, 2008.
08:24

One year, to the day that I started my employment with a little company called SpinVox and… Wow, what a journey it has been so far…

The view you see before you is the view that I have right now, as I type this post from the departure lounge of Heathrow Airport’s Terminal 1, (looks familiar huh?). As you know some time ago I got ‘the call‘ and lo and thusly I am on my way to Finland.

But we’ll come back to that…

What I want to talk about, if you’ll indulge me for a moment, is the amazing journey that I’ve been over the past year. Personally, professionally and of course geographically.

Working backwards, I can honestly say I don’t think I’ve ever been so well travelled, (although quite how you can be less travelled I don’t know – heh), with my work so far taking me to such places Barcelona (beautiful) San Francisco – twice (one of my favourite places in the world and a potential base for me the future for certain), Las Vegas (ugh)… and, as we speak, Helsinki.

There of course being no rest for the wicked, straight after this trip I’m headed out to New York then onto Las Vegas once again and by the looks of things Frankfurt too before the year is out.

I used to mock my friends when they used to get the work trips abroad, accusing them of ‘going on a jolly’ and basically being a bunch of work-shy sun-seekers. But guys, if you’re reading this, I take it back. I now know… It’s relentless! Don’t get me wrong, I absolutely love it – wouldn’t change it for the world in fact. But jeeez… talk about taking it out of you! This time round I’ve prepared. Both physically and mentally.

Bring. It. On. ๐Ÿ™‚

Which dovetails nicely back into the professional part of my journey. So, as I said, one year ago I joined SpinVox. Bright-eyed and bushy-tailed and ready for whatever they had to throw at me.
Having initially secured the interview after being told by a recruitment agent that I was ‘definitely a SpinVox person’ I was taken onboard to apply some ‘Digital Native’ thinking, if you will, to an already rock solid proposition…

Six weeks later I was on a flight to San Francisco after launching Social Networks through SpinVox.

Awesome.

I’ll never forget rocking up to my first CTIA in torn jeans, flip flops and my now trademark MASSIVE white sunglasses adorned across my brow and being told almost immediately:

“Oh, you’re ‘The Web Guy’. You’ve got the look for sure.”

HA!

You’ll be pleased to know that I’ve since smartened up my act somewhat (although the Sunny Gs remain) and I’m now ‘The Social Media Guy’.
Which kind of, in a sense, further demonstrates the journey: Starting with Social Networks through SpinVox, then getting Big Talk (the SpinVox Blog) off the ground, working on and around the digital propositions…
All of which meant that in February of this year I was part of the team that flew out to Barcelona to represent the big SV at Mobile World Congress (MWC – previously known as 3GSM).

This is when my entire world changed.

Suddenly, almost overnight, there was this paradigm shift in how I saw the industry around me… and it was changing. Mobile is my first love and always will be, but in Barcelona the power of Social Media and what it actually means really hit home.

Walking the floor at MWC, finally meeting some of the big names in blogging face to face… Shall I list them?

Nah. If you’re reading this and I shook your hand in Barcelona, then I’m talking about You ๐Ÿ™‚

I was saying; Meeting you guys and gals face to face made me understand the enormous sense of community that lives and breathes in this new world of ours… and the enormity doesn’t just stop there either, it also applies to the immense importance that we place on this community as well.

We, you, me, them, us… We are right here, right now. Carving out and pioneering a new digital age for our children to grow up into. What you think and say about this whole space will define how the rest of the world interacts with their digital media for the next 10-20yrs, if not more.

Social Media ‘happened’ (for me at least) this year; I’m going to be able to look back and say ‘Yep, I was there’ …well, you were there too. It’s happening Right Now.

And listen, without getting ranty, understand this – what I said up there – is paramount to any and every business today. It really is.

Arriving back from Spain after the conference finished, with the support of my boss, I got to work on a Social Media Strategy doc that, with the help from the team, would define how SV as a business and as a brand would operate in this space… and so far, it’s playing out nicely.

So yeah, we’ll see on that one shall we? ๐Ÿ™‚

Building that thing up and playing it out through the year as we have has been an awesome experience. Learnings on the way of course – some things took a while, some things took off straight away and some things you just can’t predict..

Hence the journey I guess. But I tell you one thing, in this job I don’t think I have ever been happier.

And in fear of being a complete link-monkey, ‘not ever being happier’ leads me quite perfectly into the “Personally” part of this little trilogy.

A few of you reading this may follow me on Twitter or even chat to me on Jaiku, in which case you know that most of the time I am of quite a cheery disposition and I take pride in the fact that I truly enjoy life to the fullest. Now I’m not big on sharing personal stuff online.
Not at all.

Gotta keep something back, y’know?

But anyway – the fact of the matter is, right now, for the first time in a long time I am happy.
Truly and utterly.

And I love it.

Thanks to you guys, for all of your kind words, support and just general awesomeness over the past year.
I’m looking forward to the next one with immense relish and I’m rubbing my hands with glee…

I’ve said it before and I’ll say it again – Bring. It. On.

๐Ÿ˜€

Thanks for reading…

Oh yeah – and there was that small matter of being in Finland.
Guess it’ll have to wait until my next post, (tomorrow – promise).

๐Ÿ˜‰

P.S. It’s taken me all day to get this post up, I’m now in Helsinki and a very happy Whatley indeed.

September 10th, 2008.
20:49

Social Tool, Tool!

Photobucket

There I was, on the train, on the way into work this morning and I’m listening to a couple of chaps in the next seat talk about plans for a new online marketing strategy…

Yes. That’s right. ON A TRAIN.

So before we even GET to the whole ‘Social’ thing that I’m about to rant about, let’s just take a moment to appreciate the stupidity… or maybe even the complete lack of joined-up thinking that goes hand-in-hand with talking about this kind of stuff on PUBLIC transport…

Photobucket

Done that? Goooooooood.
Idiots.

Anyway – so here they were, these two suits fellas, talking about ‘Social Networking’ and how they ‘really need to get involved’ to make this campaign really work.
Well I say ‘they’ it was more like just the older bloke telling the younger bloke, what he needed to get their new campaign off the ground…
The older chap opens:

“Look, I need you to tell me about what you can do with YouTube?”

“I can upload videos…”

“Yes. I’ve seen that. But what can we do with YouTube?”

“Aside from upload the videos, well…er…”

“WE NEED YOUTUBE!”

“We have…er…”

“Listen, we’ve got to hit millions of people! Millions. We won’t do it without YouTube.”

And so the conversation carried on, covering such things like MySpace, Facebook and even Flickr but all the while keeping the same familiar pattern, (I’m actually quite surprised I didn’t hear the classic phrase ‘Right, we need a viral’… I may’ve said something at that point)

Anyway, this whole thing got me thinking. I wrote a post about Mobile Advertising for Mobile Industry Review, (then SMS Text News), a few months back outlining the need for complete alignment when dipping your toe into the mobile ad space.
This one was easy, at least this time round they had some kind of idea as to what they were doing…
These two guys on the 9:53 out of Paddington however? Not a hope.

YouTube, to use the example given, is not something you ‘do’, it’s something you use, (like a tool, see).

The best way for me to illustrate this is with cups.

Photobucket

If your boss turns to you one day and says “I want to do something with YouTube”, what do you say back?

Well look, you’re clearly happy to put anything into the cup as it were; be it lemonade, orange juice, blackcurrant or whatever – But your boss, or whoever’s running the marketing team needs to tell you what that is. The cup is another way of presenting your content. It will speak to different people in different ways. I would not use a cup for anything other than what it is good for… and that is drinking, nay – consuming!

On top of that you also need to ensure that the same blackcurrant you’re using in your cups is being used in the other dispensers that you have at your disposal. I mean, you have other cups right? Right?!
Yeah you do… The banner ads, the traditional print, the skyscrapers, the tv/radio spots etc…
Them. Yeah. They’re cups too.

So when asked, “…like flickr, like YouTube”…etc, they’re just a variation on the cup.

You can help them hold it, you can help others drink from it but what you can’t do is fill it.
Give people some cool stuff inside the cup, don’t just give them the cup.
On it’s own, the cup is nothing.

With planning, time and effort from all parties – the cup can become an integral part of a much larger picnic.

Social Cups, Hugh would be proud.

Today I missed The Tuttle

Today is Friday.

Every Friday there is a little thing that happens in London, just round the corner from Soho (here we go again), above The Coach & Horses Pub on Greek Street
Over there look ———————->

It’s official name of this thing is The Social Media Cafe, but – to it’s regulars – it’s fondly referred to as The Tuttle Club.

It’s a lovely place. Everyone is welcome. People come, people go, and the great thing is everyone is so, for want of a better descriptor, nice .
๐Ÿ™‚

It’s great – You turn up, have coffee and occasional croissants, chat to like-minded folk, meet interesting people and generally have a bloody good time.

Lloyd Davis, Chief Proprietor and all round nice chap, set the place up as a prototype with a genuine vision to one day soon have a proper space, coffee an’ all, set up and running like a Cafe should. For us geeks innit.

So far it, in my opinion, has been a resounding success. I went along and met OH so many folk that I had been chatting to over Twitter/Seesmic and also a whole bunch of new people too. All of them lovely. I loved it so much that I took my friends along.

I even managed to get SpinVox along one day to sponsor the coffees et al in exchange for a discussion about The Future of Voice (but you can read about that elsewhere)

Anywhoo – The thing is, I’ve been a regular at the SMC now for a good 6-8 weeks – would that be fair to say? Has it been that long? Probably. Time goes so fast these days. Yes. Well. Today I had to miss it and miss it I did.
I’m pretty sure it looked something like this:

Lots of folk chatting around – having a good time – learning from each other – making contacts – developing new ideas๏ฟฝ – sharing stories – catching up etc…all of that kind of thing – Top stuff.

Don’t get me wrong – it was good that I spent today in the office. Can’t go into it. I’m just happy I was there.

On the flip side however I really missed the hustle and bustle of my friends at the Coach & Horses.

Boo.

I’ll be back next week, that’s for certain.

And hopefully that will stop Lloyd looking so glum –>

Hehehe…

In the meanwhile however? What else has been going on? Well – I’m still making inroads to getting off my backside and moving this here blog you’re reading.
Got some lovely folk to help me out with the techie stuff. Just waiting for the go ahead and I can start the big move.

Everso excited.

What else?

I think I’ve managed to get through the last list that I wrote – oop, no. Tell a lie.
Still need to cover – SF, T-Shirts , 6mths with SpinVox aaaaaaaaand The BBC. Balls.

Ok – Parking all that for now. First, something MUCH more exciting…

This Sunday I’m taking part in a Blogger Cook-off aka Food 2.0 aka Nom Nom Nom.

Can’t wait.

More to follow very soon – but I did a post about it over here along with a fun slide show, (just go for the pictures)…

Wheeeeeeeeeeeeeeeeeeeeeeeeeeeeeeeeeeeeeeeeeee!

Bye for now…

PS – My friend Roger got an Xbox 360, for free and I am NOT a Happy Bunny.

Balls to it! (a Whatley rant-a-thon) Part 4: The thing about Facebook

It’s a Social TOOL – not a SOCIAL NETWORK!

As I’ve previously stated, I’m a huge fan of Jyri Engelstrom, creator of not only Jaiku but also the dude to first come up with the theory of Social Objects. I could explain what they are – but Hugh MacLeod, he of Gaping Void fame (read his website – it will change your life) has already nailed it to the wall better than I ever could. So go.
Read. Read some more. And get yourself an education.

EDIT – someone else who gets it: Russell Beattie

So yeah – facebook is a social TOOL. People throw objectives like: “We need to make money out of these social networks…”

To the point actually where recently I was unfortunate enough to be invited along to the Telecommunications Executive Network evening (a ‘TEN’ event) which was subtitled:

“Social Networking: What’s Telcoms got to do with it?”

And it was all tally ho and where’s the money and ad-sales this and monetization that… but everyone just seemed to miss the effing point.

To the point where I raised it as a question:

“Good evening. James Whatley, SpinVox… There’s a school of thought that the money is not in fact in Social Networks but in fact Social Objects. Here we are in this room and I know maybeeee… one or two people here. They aren’t in my social network and I doubt very much that I am in theirs. But here we all are gathered here tonight around
this Social Object. The network builds itself around it. The money, therefore… is in the object. Not the network. If you build it they will come. Your comments please?”

Well – that went down a treat!
(especially as the last question of the evening!)

The following exchange:

The guy from Ogilvy: “Is that yours? I’m stealing it…”
Me: “Er no. Actually it’s Jyri Engelstrom’s. Co-founder of Jaiku…”
Ogilvy: “Ah.. see! Another Aggregation site!”

AN AGGREGATION SITE?! AAAAAAAAARGH!

That. Says. It. All.

*sigh*

Ahem – anywhoo – that was a lovely evening.. ๐Ÿ™‚

I was clearly the youngest person in the room and yet I felt completely out of my depth.
And in this instance being OUT of my depth meant swimming around in the shallows…

But hey – let’s not bitch moan – it was a very good evening… and I was known at the canapรฉs afterwards as ‘The Social Object Guy’ which was quite amusing…

But yeah – Social Objects. They are what form the foundations of Social Networks. Plant the seed of a network with a Social Gesture from your Social Object.

Again – as Hugh Macloed rightly points out – it ain’t Rocket Science.
I seem to have gone off on a tangent… Where were we? Oh yeah – things that are annoying me online…
Err… I’ve had my Mobile Web Rant elsewhere… and I’ve raged about facebook to the nth degree…
What else…

Hmm.

No. I think that’s it.

I’m done.
For now anyway…