So Long! So Long, I’ll Be Moving, Moving On

This is a blog that I write with a heavy heart and misty eyes whilst equally filled with excitement. I wasn’t quite sure how to start writing this post, but had some things I wanted to say, so I’ve been listening to a mini playlist of tunes that are helping me put this down into words. Press play on this for starters (you might want to stop it before moving too far on, as there are a few others on here):

After nearly 5 ½ years at Vertical Leap, I’ve decided that it’s time for me to take a plunge and try something different. Coming to this decision was far from easy – it’s probably the hardest decision I’ve ever had to make in my life…

Vertical Leap has been great to me over this time and I really can’t thank the company enough for everything that they’ve done for me over the years – I just hope I’ve managed to give back just as much in that time.

I started as a graduate, with few responsibilities initially and a brief to learn SEO sharpish. I was fortunate to have done a degree with skills that I thought would be relevant; HTML, image manipulation, the odd bit of flash (which I appear to have completely forgotten) and a bunch of other stuff – but it was the project management items that have been most in use in my day to day life since really.

Vertical Leap took a chance on me at the time. I was raw and enthusiastic, but I wasn’t an expert back then. I grew up really quickly. I got over my fear of the phone. I pushed to get more involved in retail (which had been my part-time work whilst studying) style customer interactions and meetings, rather than “hiding” behind emails.

I learned a lot, really quickly and before I knew it really, wasn’t just the graduate – I was managing a full portfolio of campaigns, getting results, keeping customers happy (until last week when I moved them on, I still had 5 clients that were among the very first I was given all those years ago).

I built long term relationships with clients as often as I could. I’m pretty sure that I was doing fairly well, as 2 years or so into my career I started overseeing the company’s activities in the SEO world, determining updates to processes strategies, helping determine who we would recruit for that department, becoming active in interviews.

I became a manager of people, as well as process for the SEO department – and I relished it.

My time at Vertical Leap has been the Best of Times:

The team we built there are awesome, a truly cracking bunch of people who I will be friends with forever, and that I am going to miss my daily interactions with dearly. All the people that I work with at Vertical Leap – every single person – are my friends.

All of them I will happily spend time with in the future. I’ve not had a hell of a lot of different jobs – but for those that I have had in the past, this was not always the case.

The office banter, the cutting humour, the fun going out for drinks and meals… Laughs are a plenty, there is a great team spirit, both within the specific teams and the company as a whole. Leaving you guys behind makes me feel a little lonesome inside:

I know we’ll still see each other. I know that I will see everyone in just a short week at the Christmas Party which I was really grateful to still receive an invite to. But whilst things will be different, I’ll look back on these times fondly forever.

Thank You All at Vertical Leap, staff past and present, friends that I’ve made for life…

So, I’m moving on… I know some people already know what I’m doing next… But I’m not going to announce it just yet, I want to let someone else have the pleasure of the first public announcement of that.

Suffice to say, its one hell of an opportunity to have encouraged me away from what I already had. I’m super excited, can’t wait to get stuck in, and can’t wait to learn everything that I am going to need to do moving forwards. There will be some different challenges, likely some similar ones, and I’m certain that there will be ups and downs that I can’t predict right now… The time is right for me to seek a new challenge. So…

Roll on Monday morning, and the challenges that will bring…

In the meantime, it’s time for me to Hit the Road Jack:

Adios Amigos, Au Revoir Mon Amis, Farewell for now my friends – but I will see you all soon 🙂

The Panda Made Me Sponsor an Orang-utan

This is a blog that looks mostly at online marketing, you might think that this is a blog post about a Google Panda update? Well, no,a bunch of online marketing types have seen The Panda Made Me Do It campaign, being run by the WWF, and thanks perhaps in part to the links with some of the algorithm updates so far this year, its something that the search community has decided to get involved with.

Well, seeing as it’s getting close to Michelle’s birthday, and I am being uncharacteristically rubbish at organising her any presents, I’ve decided to adopt an Orang-utan for her.

Don’t worry, I might find something else for her too before then, I still have a week or so to go!

So as part of this campaign, if you can, go adopt an animal, pledge to buy good wood, sponsor an acre of forest – anything to help these guys out

Meeting Old Friends for the First Time

On my way up to Think Visibility, I spied the following Tweet from Dan Harrison, a Twitter friend I was hoping to meet for the first time (despite the fact that we were both travelling up to Leeds from the south of England):

meeting old friends for the first time

This really resonated with me, as it’s how I’ve felt about every event that I have thus far attended in the search marketing arena.

As I touched upon in a previous post, Twitter (which is my main tool for this type of engagement), is a place that real communities form around, and as part of that community, you begin to build what totally feel like real friendships from the individuals that you engage with.

In just about every example of me having met in real life those that I talk to on Twitter regularly, it hasn’t felt like “meeting” for the first time. Instead, as the title says, its meeting old friends for the first time.

I know that some people from the outside, may well perceive this, as well – a little sad? You meet your geeky internet friends in real life? Saddo!

But for me, it really doesn’t feel that way at all. The world is evolving – who would have thought hundreds of years ago that you would be able to pick up the phone and call someone on the other side of the world? Or that electronic devices would make it possible to exchange short messages to anyone and everyone?

As human communications have evolved, so too have the ways that you engage with people – you don’t have to have met someone in “real life” to get to understand some of what makes that person tick.

I, amongst probably many others, possibly share too much of myself on social networks. But the value that I get from them seems to be matched by what you put in. I really do not want to become a boring twitter account that completely lacks personality, and is just trying to be promotional. That’s just not me.

I probably bore some people when I tweet about food and cooking – if that is the case, you can just choose not to follow me – I probably won’t be offended (though I do monitor who unfollows me on there, just for reference).

When I’ve met some of those folks that I “know” best from Twitter, like Rhys Wynne, Kev Strong, Samuel Crocker and Paddy Moogan, it has after a few moments felt completely natural. There are many more that I haven’t mentioned, and I truly mean no slight to those folks, just these guys are almost as active as me on the old Twitter

Of all the folks I met for the first time at this year’s Think Visibility, the best intro has to have been with Ingo Bousa – we’ve been talking on this platform for a few years, and he is a very funny guy. For the last few weeks, it’s been made clear to me that I needed to introduce myself by shouting “IS ME PETE” in a Borat style voice. I did this with amusing results (not least losing part of my voice repeating it throughout the night at loud volumes), as it caused Ingo to immediately drop his drink.

For those that may consider it sad – I would just say, try it – you don’t know what you are missing. It is likely that it is easy for me working in the online marketing industry – I don’t know if it’s the same for other groups – but don’t rule it out just because you don’t know it!

Twitter – a place where real communities form

It’s been ages since I posted a blog here. I’ve still been writing as much as possible for Vertical Leap’s search marketing blog, but spare time has been a cherished occasion over the last few months – there has been a hell of a lot going on lately.

I’d had ideas of blogs to post here, but not actually started writing anything – there will be more to come in the future.

But events yesterday have motivated me to get something moving, so I decided to focus on yesterdays events a bit for something to write about.

Twitter is a place where communities form – I’m sure this applies to other social media sites, quite likely forums and blogs too, but I’ve seen evidence of a really strong community bond over the past 24 hours.

You form groups on twitter around those with similar interests. I work in search marketing, so probably 3 in every 4 people I follow are based in the same field jobs wise.

You share ideas on what things are working for you – work out things that have caused you problems to try and help others stop things before they become a problem. Lots of people in this industry, hopefully myself included, reach out to help people on a daily basis when it’s asked for.

But that makes it sound rather dry and dusty, just about the work. It’s far more than that to be honest.

I love trying to find out more about people. I’m a social animal. Those that know me in life, know that I talk a lot. Sometimes I don’t know when to shut up and that probably applies to twitter use at times too.

But there are plenty of other people out there who are just as interested in the people behind the avatars too. So, you talk – about musical likes and dislikes, sports, films and tv, share funny videos and images and comics that you find here and there.

You make jokes with people and share some fun times. When things frustrate you, there is a platform for you to vent that frustration. There have been times when I’ve needed to talk to someone to get things off my chest and twitter has supplied me the friends necessary to help me out.

As a result of my twitter use, I’ve gone out and met some of these industry folks that I talk to, and it’s been great – I’ve turned online relationships into real friendships.

One friend on twitter did more than most to get that ball rolling. I’m sad to have learned that he died on Thursday.

RIP Jaamit – almost a year ago, with the first Brightonseo event, you convinced me to get in the train from Portsmouth to Brighton on a cold night, not knowing anyone that would be attending.

You greeted me saying it felt like we’d been friends for years. We barely ha a chance to chat as you were so busy with the organising of the night and DJ’ing, but there were plenty of interesting folks and friends to be made that night.

You were welcoming again the other times I saw you and for that I am grateful.

Thank you for convincing me to do that.

You will clearly be missed, as I am clearly not the only one who you had this influence on.

Twitter yesterday was unlike anything I’d ever seen. So, so many people were so shocked and saddened by the situation. At times it was the quietest I have known my feed to be – and it has never been as polarised on just the one topic.

Farewell my friend. And much love to all those that knew him far better than I ever had a chance to in real life. We’re all thinking of you.

How do you get people to like you on Twitter?

I’m afraid that this blog isn’t really going to answer this question, but I was intrigued whilst at BrightonSEO yesterday when I was asked “how do you get people to like you on Twitter?”

I don’t consider myself to be a social media expert, although I do like being social – I like to talk to people, find out interesting or fun titbits of information about peoples lives, share useful knowledge between people for the betterment of all of them

I also don’t think that I am exactly one of the most famous tweeters in the world, or all that widely known/liked just yet – whilst it is a terrible measure, I have only just gone past 700 twitter followers, and growth in that respect has been dwindling a little bit of late.

What I do think I have that perhaps the person asking does not, is quite an engaged follower/following relationship. I tweet quite a lot, about all sorts of topics ranging from SEO, music, film, I crack jokes and stories with people and probably, most of all, I tweet about Food and Rum 🙂

These are all things that make me, me! I love cooking, so I talk about it – quite a lot of people in my Twitterverse also seem to like food, and I think its somewhat expected of me now (I know my co-workers ask about it if I don’t tweet about food for a while).

I like a lot of types of music too. I listen to some blues and jazz music from time to time, and some of my twitter friends do too – The same goes with some of the rock music I listen to, or the hip hop that I put on from time to time. Over the last year, Twitter has become the main method of me finding new music to listen to – through word of mouth recommendations from people that I have spoken to enough to realise common interests.

I think that to get the most out of social relationships built up in these spheres you have to take the time to tweet – if you don’t have those conversations with people that draw you closer together, you limit the possibilities of how much influence them and how they can help you increase visibility of anything that you are trying to get visibility for.

I follow a lot of people in and around the SEO industry, but at the end of the day, many of the relationships I have formed with people have begun in completely unrelated conversations – you can then always talk about more work related issues at another time. Start the conversation somewhere that you have some middle ground to meet at, and build from there.

Sometimes it’s not going to work out perfectly – I know that some of my flippant tongue in cheek comments have been misinterpreted at times, and no doubt I will have ruffled some feathers along the way, but that was never my intention. I have cringed a couple of times reading back tweets, but thats just a part of the journey.

Ultimately, I doubt that there are many cut and dried rules about getting people to like you on Twitter, especially if you have to “try” to be liked – but my main 2 rules for my activities on social media platforms are:

1) Treat people the way you would like to be treated

And

2) Be yourself!

I’ll finish this post with a tweet I received from Nichola Stott after finally meeting her at BrightonSEO yesterday:

Stay You Pete

I fully intend to 😀