New Threads

The blog has been an interesting experience this year. I started out blogging diligently at least once, but often twice a day and you read it in your droves. But as time has gone by and I’ve blogged less often, you’ve kept reading just as much.

As the date of publication for the guidebook approaches, I’ve pulled the posts directly associated with it (don’t want to cannibalise my own sales too much!) so along with the whisky, sweetie and ad reviews, I’ll be launching a new thread of blogging in the next few days.

Before I do, I’m going to tweet out lots of links to existing posts, just as a catch up.

(I’ll see how many people unfollow me on twitter when I do – current followers: 1407)

Followers, Lurkers and Stalkers – A Short Rant

Social media is a funny old thing. It opens your life up to others in a way that was never possible before. We actively encourage people to connect with us, even though we know little or nothing about them.

These people become followers, friends.

But there are many ways people can connect with us without us even knowing. For instance, over my twitter accounts I have over 5,000 followers. Although some follow more than one, mostly they are unique to the account. Of course I have the accounts for different reasons, so that’s what you’d expect. But in any month I interact with maybe only 100-150 of them.

What are the rest of them doing there?

Although my ego would like to think otherwise, most of them are probably ignoring me. My tweets come up in their timeline and they might glance at them or just pass right over them. Why do I think this? Because it’s how I treat most of the people I follow.

Some though, are ‘Lurkers’. They follow me, read my tweets, and say nothing. They stay well off my radar. Gradually they get to know me a little better and maybe one day they’ll reply to something, retweet something or start a conversation with me. Great.

Then there are the stalkers. These people might not even follow any of my social media, but they regularly read my tweets, my blogs, look at my last.fm, my pinterest, and anything else they can find of mine.

Why? Curiosity perhaps? Maybe something I once said or did piqued their interest, maybe they’re an old friend or an old girlfriend and they just want to see how I’m getting on, or maybe they’re someone who once crossed me and are paranoid enough to think I still give a crap and want to see when I’m plotting their comeuppance.

I put a lot on the internet. Not everything. I haven’t updated my LinkedIn for a long time, for instance. Mostly because my current client needs confidentiality, and the project I’m working on in what’s left of my own time isn’t something I want anyone I’m not friends with to know about just yet. I don’t put up anything online about my relationships, because they’re no ones’ business but my friends’. Even when I had facebook, I didn’t want to put up any kind of relationship status: the important people all knew, why would anyone else care – and if they do care, isn’t that a bit creepy?

But what’s there online is open for anyone to see. And if it isn’t open it’s none of my ‘stalker’s’ business. Earlier this year one of my protected twitters was hacked, and read by a few people. Because they weren’t part of my life, they didn’t know what I was talking about on there, and they ended up making prats of themselves by misconstruing it in the most egocentric and paranoid way possible.

The lesson is: Know me or don’t. If you know me, that’s great. Hello. If you don’t, then read whatever you like that’s out there. Draw whatever inference you like, but don’t make the mistake of thinking that anything I write is about you. That’s a little like hearing me talk on the phone while I walk past, and thinking I’m talking to you! Why would it be about you, and isn’t that just incredibly egotistic?

The other lesson is, whatever anyone puts out there, I might read. Although why I’d bother is an open question.

Rules: Appendix i – A Short Note On Grammar

I’ve put together an idiot’s guide to grammar. It’s a guide that’ll stop people thinking you’re an idiot.

You’re and Your

In common with all grammar, it’s the difference between knowing you’re shit and knowing your shit.

You’re is a contraction of ‘You are’.
‘Your’ is something that belongs to you.

Because they sound the same people write the second when they mean the first. It’s an unforgivable mistake, and exposes a basic lack of literacy. People who mix these up simply never learned the difference. They are poorly educated, and that’s what their readers will realise.

Their, There and They’re

‘Their’ means something belongs to them.
‘There’ means not here, but in that location.
‘They’re’ – a contraction of ‘they are’ means those people are doing something.

They’re sure their car is over there.

Of and Have

This is another mistake that exposes a poor education. But also a spoken illiteracy. People simply will not want to read what you write, or hear what you say if you get this wrong. It’s as bad as mispronouncing ‘H’.

‘Could of’, ‘would of’, ‘should of’ are not English. They have no meaning. They sound a lot like the contractions for Could have, would have and should have: Could’ve, Would’ve, Should’ve. It’s an understandable mistake, but not one you should make if you want people to think you’re literate.

If you doubt how poor it sounds, imagine someone writing ‘They of’ instead of ‘They’ve’, or ‘I of’ instead of ‘I’ve’. It’s precisely the same.

It’s and Its

This is a more forgivable error, but even so not one you should be making. The rules aren’t as simple as the ones above, but they’re not difficult, either:

Usually, You’d use and apostrophe because you’ve missed some letters out:
‘Oliver’s a great writer!’ is a contraction of ‘Oliver is a great writer.’ You’ve lost the ‘i’ of ‘is’.
That’s when you use an apostrophe in ‘it’s’: when you’ve dropped letters. The ‘i’ of ‘is’, or the ‘ha’ of ‘has’, for instance.

But normally you’d also use an apostrophe when you mean something belongs to someone. ‘Oliver’s book’ means the book belonging to Oliver.
But when the ‘its’ you’re using means ‘something belonging to it’ you don’t use an apostrophe: ‘its wheels are turning’.

So, if you’re talking about a thing being inside the right box: ‘It’s in its box’

Lose and Loose

If you lose something, then you can’t find it. It’s lost.
But if something isn’t tight, then it’s loose.

You cannot loose something, other than an arrow when you fire it.

Alot, A lot and Allot

The bad news is there is no such word as alot. Many things are a lot of things. Two words. You can’t escape it, I’m afraid. You might allot time to something, when you set aside time for it.

You and I

This is forgivable. So many people get this wrong, even accomplished journalists. ‘You and I’ is not the same as ‘You and me.’

There’s an easy rule of thumb to help you get this right. Try and replace what you’re writing with ‘We’ or ‘Us’. If ‘Us’ works in the sentence, then you’re looking for ‘You and me’. If ‘We’ works, then use ‘You and I’.

Easy.

Now with this guide you and I will always get our grammar right and people won’t be able to condemn you and me for getting it wrong.

Grammar

The Month In Review

I kicked off this blog on the 13th May with pretty modest ambitions. I’m not trying to change the world, just to write a few things a week to entertain myself, you and to publish a few extracts from the upcoming Social Media Guidebook.

I thought I’d see if I could get a daily 10 viewers and 20 views. Instead the blog has far surpassed my hopes, with a regular 40-60 views and a one day peak of 157 views.

So I’m giving myself the day off, and offering you my top posts for your enjoyment:

 

 

 

 

Have a read if you missed any of them.

How to…?

How do you show what you’ve done, when what you’ve done is

  1. Not publicly available, or,
  2. Being used by others.

Tough call.

So I’ve been writing a book, of all I’ve learned in the last 7 years or so. A guidebook drawing on the mistakes others have made that I’ve learned from.

I’ve had a lot of fun putting it together, too.

Starting next week, extracts will be posted here to whet your appetites.

Coming soon…!

To tie in with the launch of my new book, I’ll be blogging extracts here.

 

Throughout January and the first half of February, I was field testing extracts on a ‘secret’ blog to gauge tone and approach. I’m now compiling the results, and will be publishing shortly. 

Having missed one deadline already (no surprises there!) my second is coming up fast, so you won’t have to wait long.