Rob Cottingham's blog

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The Big Wild: a community for sharing wilderness experiences... and ensuring there are more of them

Glacier Lake (credit Laurie Edward,

Some of my fondest memories involve wilderness - whether it's a campfire with my parents, a hike with Alex to a glacial lake, or watching my children gape in awe at a sunflower sea star in a Cortes Island tidal pool.

Now wonder, then, that one of our favourite projects in quite a while is The Big Wild: an online community where people can share stories, photos and video of their wilderness experiences, connect with others who share their passion for Canada's big wild spaces, and take action to preserve those places for future generations.

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Blogging self-defence for brands

Don't let your blog's comments turn into an arena for bashing your organization


Asked on LinkedIn: "Blogs are a very good tool for consumers to evaluate prospective product or service providers. However, how can a business use blogs to its commercial advantage (i.e. gain valuable insight into customer behavior and satisfaction levels) while minimizing the risk of being unduly smeared by a minority of disgruntled customers or even competitor attacks?"

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Blog ROI: Training

10 ways to maximize your blog's ROI: Part 8, skills development

Training wheels

Social media should be a no-brainer. After all, it's all about conversation and relationships - and in fact our conversational instincts can serve us well in blogging, podcasting, social networking and other social media channels.

Instinct alone, however, won't suffice. You need skills, knowledge and experience to succeed in social media – from tech chops, to the unique demands of various social media venues, to the social nuances of dealing with conflict between online antagonists.

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Heading to NTEN and NetSquared

Catch Rob at two of the leading nptech conferences in April and May

Spring's starting to look better and better, with two great events landing on my calendar.

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Bar? None.

How to remove the DiggBar


Digg, the site that lets users find and rate content from all over the web, recently introduced a new feature: the DiggBar. Contrary to what you might think, it isn't a place where you can drink away your memories of the commenting culture on Digg; instead, it's a combination URL shortener and frame from sites bookmarked in Digg.

Here, for example, is what looks like in the DiggBar:

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Two words that can rock your next presentation

Speakers: how to use Twitter to magnify your speech's online impact

Twitter listens to a speech

Not to sound like a telemarketer, but can I have half a minute of your time?

How about if it does wonders to increase your profile?

Here's how I want you to spend those 30 seconds. Open up your presentation file and click on your title slide - the one with your contact info.

Add two words at the bottom - like this:

Twitter: robcottingham

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Blog ROI: Psst! Pass it on!

10 ways to maximize your blog's ROI: Part 7, turning readers into messengers

Mouth-to-ear whispering

When you're talking about yourself, your brand or your organization, you may have first-person credibility... but you also have a pretty obvious conflict of interest. Add that to the growing distrust of advertising and public relations - in fact, of institutional communications generally - and you have a challenge.

These days, your audience is putting much more trust in their personal networks: their friends, family, neighbours and colleagues. When they hear a personal message from someone they know, it punches through in a way that organizational communications can't.

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"In my day, we had to walk three miles uphill through the snow to post a comment."

Just complaining about online comments isn't enough

Fist smashing keyboard

Visit most news sites, and you'll find some of the web's most pointless, thoughtless and mean-spirited conversations unfolding in the comment threads. Angry, bitter, hateful people seem drawn to the comment form at the bottom of news stories like flies to a landfill.

That's been the case now for years, but the industry is finally waking up to it... in fits and starts.

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Questions to ask when you're hiring a blogger


Michael Haggerty of Trellon, a Washington, DC-based Drupal shop, asked LinkedIn Answers:

I need to hire a blogger, someone who can write about open source and issues affecting non-profits. Basically, I need someone who can take ideas from my team and synthesize them into something that sounds right on our blog. Dunno how to find someone for this position, evaluate his / her skills, or set expectations. Would appreciate any advice.

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Way-too-candid camera

Rob in Vancouver Sun story on Facebook "Photo Stalker" app

Do you know who's looking at your Facebook photos?

A lot of people don't know that Facebook's default privacy settings expose their photos to the world. And for a stranger, browsing your snapshots of that crazy drunken office party may be as simple as installing a new Facebook application called Photo Stalker.

That's the word from Vancouver Sun reporter Gillian Shaw, who interviewed the app's developer.

Social Signal on...

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