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A trade journal of a still-emerging field, written by Adam Tinworth.

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“Bangs” (Muireann Carey-Campbell) asks Oh, Blogging, where art thou?:

I always thought of blogging as a way to give voice to the little guy (or gal, or non-gender conforming individual). We had a chance to create our own media, to be the antithesis of everything that frustrated us about the mainstream. Now every other thing I see in my timeline is an influencer spouting how much they love whatever their brand of choice is that day, with professionally taken photographs, Photoshopped within an inch of their lives.

With all the tools and opportunity to create a media of our own, we’ve become walking advertisements for brands. Ethics and values – all up for the highest bidder.

Yet, even that can go wrong

Adobe has bought comments system Livefyre.

Has the software-and-services giant suddenly developed a taste for community building? Not so much:

Livefyre, which was initially known for its technology that powers internet comments, now runs a marketing business for big brand clients that focuses on user-generated content, posts and videos created by regular people on sites like Facebook and Twitter and YouTube.

It’s getting harder to find platforms that aren’t just disguised marketing businesses. In this case, it seems Livefyre has been quietly morphing into a marketing-driven version of Storyful.

The problem is that products we’ve come to rely on for journalism or community development might be repurposed into marketing tools:

Livefyre CEO Jordan Kretchmer said that none of his company’s products, including the liveblogging service that grew out of its acquisition of Storify back in September of 2013, are shutting down. They will all be integrated into existing Adobe marketing services, he said.

Yup, Adobe now owns Storify. Which is part of the “Livefyre Engagement Cloud”, apparently:

Storify as the Livefyre Engagement Cloud

Ye gods.

It started with a tweet.

Actually, that’s not quite true, but it makes a good opening line, so what the hell.

And the tweet looked like this:

One of my New Year “to-do”s – I don’t do resolutions – was to sort out and professionalise some aspects of my business. Now that it looks like I’m staying self-employed for the foreseeable future, I need to both upgrade my business admin (tax return done today!) and my online persona. For example, a set of pages on here describing the services I offer would be a good idea, wouldn’t they?

And I really, really wanted some decent headshots of myself. I’ve been shot by professionals twice, and I’ve not liked the results either time. The whole process was too “production line”. There was no attempt to express me. I was just corporate drone #1138. And that phase of my life is done.

I’ve been using what are, in essence, a succession of jumped-up selfies. But that couldn’t – shouldn’t – last. But I was a little stumped as to where to find the right photographer to get me some images.

Now, my friends over at Brilliant Noise had some excellent headshots done by lomokev in Brighton, which I’d always quietly envied. His work is great – but not quite what I wanted. And everyone else I saw was doing the standard corporate headshot.

So, basically, I took the easiest option. I procrastinated.

Mounting the stairs, in search of headshots

And then I saw Kristina’s tweet. She’s an ex-student; I did a few workshops with her and her cohort on their online presence. Her website blew me away – for someone who’d been seriously into photography for less than a year, her command of light and form was remarkable. £60 seemed like a reasonable gamble for some decent headshots. And, honestly, I was curious to see how her work had come along in the 9 months or so since I last saw her.

And so, last Monday I found myself climbing some narrow, offensively carpeted steps above a shop, a short walk from Clapham Junction station, to have my portrait made in a studio converted out of a kitchen/diner area. And, as I stared at a serious piece of glass, hearing about her commission to go to Sri Lanka, while desperately trying to remember to keep my chin down, I came to the conclusion I had made the right decision.

And far from the only one to notice her talent. The Guardian ran a spread of her images recently.

Post-processed

The results? They are… pleasing.

Adam Tinworth - pensive mood

Adam Tinworth headshot

I’m busy rolling them out across my social presences – Facebook, Twitter, this site, Linkedin and Gravatar are done, and I’ll deal with others as I encounter them.

I’ve never really had a set of images I’ve been happy to send off for speaking gigs, or to go on course descriptions, or to accompany the occasion bits of writing elsewhere I do.

But now I do, and I’m very happy with them.

Thanks, Kristina.

Talking of “influencers“, here’s some very good questions about the use of “influencer” marketing in travel:

Out of curiosity I requested the international visitor numbers to Costa Brava on either side of the 2012 TBEX event in Girona. Arrivals the following year were virtually static: 2,953,097 in 2012 to 2,965,649 in 2013.

TBEX is the largest gathering of digital influencers in the travel space, which makes it (even if it’s not publicly billed as such) by far the biggest “blog trip”. Ready for those big numbers? The event generated 26,967 hashtagged tweets with just under 150,000,000 impressions on Twitter alone. (Google TBEX Girona for an entirely unscientific snapshot of its wider exposure.) So if not in visitor numbers how did Tourism Costa Brava gauge their returns?

How indeed? (Spoiler: “branding”.)

And what does this do for the bloggers and the brands involved?

I honestly wonder if we even know what “credibility” is anymore. Does plonking that standard disclaimer at the end of a post promising that “as ever all opinions are my own” really count? If so it’s a remarkable stroke of luck that bloggers never seem to have a shitty time when they’re travelling on someone else’s dime. Do we know what this is doing to the legitimacy of our messages, and therefore our potential to “influence” consumers in the first place?

Once, long ago, when the world was dark, and I was stuck living in Lewisham, I was features editor of a magazine called Estates Gazette. We wrote about the world of commercial property, and one of the things I did was commission expert comment, including some features about property marketing and branding from one Kim Tasso.

She recently took Hazel and I to lunch (a brave thing to do with a toddler), and interviewed me in the brief gaps when my daughter was distracted by other things.

The result? Some thoughts on community development, content strategy and the commercial real estate business.

Worth a read, if you’re interested in the intersection of publishing, online community and B2B publishing amongst the professions…

Richard Stacy:

I was using this point to illustrate the main theme of my presentation – namely that we now have two worlds: the world of the audience and the world of the individual […] Up until this point there has only ever been a world of the audience and as a result, most brands are simply trying to push approaches designed to be seen by audiences (i.e. lots of people) in front of individuals or groups.  And, of course, this doesn’t work.

Nice piece which takes a rather soul-destroying list of the top three most “engaging” posts on Facebook and draws some interesting conclusions from it.