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Social Media Portal - Profiled - Georgina Firth - The Business Blogging Academy

Staff (Social Media Portal) - 12 May 2009

Profiled - The Business Blogging Academy - Business blogging advice and guidance

An Interview with Georgina Firth, Founder of The Business Blogging Academy

Social Media Portal (SMP): Tell us about The Business Blogging Academy, what is it and what does it do?

The Business Bloggign Academy logoGeorgina Firth (GF): The Business Blogging Academy offers a hand of experience to help businesses through the minefield of setting up, networking and writing on blogs to maximise business reach. Delegates leave the half day workshop with a fully functional blog that is already networked, already tagged and already linked. It is a place where people can ask all those questions about social media that they never dared to voice before.

SMP: What is your full job title and role at The Business Blogging Academy?

Founder and course manager

SMP: What made you start The Business Blogging Academy?

GF: Frustration after attending many seminars that didn't actually 'teach' or help in hands-on terms. I see the same bemused and terrified faces on those yet to dip a toe into the world of social media – and the same question every time: “What will it actually do for my business if I set up a blog?”Georgina Frith, Founder, The Business Bloggign Academy

SMP: What was the most challenging part of building the service?

I love this question. It takes me back to my very first 'proper' job in what would now be called a web hosting and design company in 1993. Our battle then was convincing people that the internet would take off. We were up against many barriers then and just look at what happened! A few months ago, I was hearing the same scepticism applied to social media for business. However, as soon as people understand that TBBA offers an elementary workshop, to help them off the bench and onto the playing field safely and with confidence, they seem to relax. We're also putting together a Masterclass course as a follow on for those who're feeling a little more confident.

SMP: Who are your target audience and why?

GF: People that have not yet dipped a toe into the world of blogging, tweets  and so on.  Either due to time constraints or because they are unconvinced social media can do their business any favours. We talk to small business owners who want a wider presence, agencies who want to provide added services to their clients; SMEs looking to maximise their messages and campaigns and want to correlate their on and offline activities; communications departments of larger corporates that are perhaps a bit reluctant to dive in for lack of knowledge or confidence; MPs and other government personnel to offer them deeper understanding of the implications as well as benefits of blogging in their communication strategies.

SMP: How did you initially attract users to your site /service, and how do you do it now?

Initially, we rolled out the workshop to contacts closest to us. Once we felt the formula and feedback was right, we started to promote it at networking events and marketing trade shows. People immediately see the benefits as soon as the concept is explained... We wouldn't have done it if the feel-good factor wasn't there in the responses.

SMP: What are your low moments of what you have been doing so far?

No low moments yet. Check back in a year! The only thing I wish there was more of is time. Being at the helm of TBBA and running a niche SEO PR consultancy means there is time for very little else, but I'm loving every day of it!

SMP: What are your high moments of what you have been doing so far?

It's fantastic to see the confidence levels rise in people as they go through the course. They suddenly 'get it' and the whole social media landscape lights up for them. I also like the buzz that happens about half way through the afternoon as we get everyone networking together for common gain both on and offline.

SMP: Now that you are established, what do you see as your biggest challenges and opportunities?

Keeping the course content fresh isn't a problem as the sector seems to visibly evolve almost daily. Our biggest challenge is that there's so much to cover we have to keep it real and focused for each level of workshop we run.

SMP: What are the next moves for The Business Blogging Academy?

GF: We will be expanding the logistics this year and taking the workshops countrywide. We're also expanding the course by introducing a morning workshop for writing for the web, which will complement the blogging section of the workshop.

SMP: What’s the next big step for social media and networks?

Convergence of media and the realisation that you have to be selective and dedicated.

SMP: Are blogs suffering due the new wave of social media and the evolvement of micro-blogging services such as Twitter?

No at all. There are dozens of social media elements out there, people just have to work out which mix works best for their purpose. Twitter is a great way to get a succinct point or update across. While it's best to avoid essay length write ups on blogs, they do provide a platform for more detail. The two can work well hand in hand or just as well on their own. It's all a question of balance and purpose.

SMP:  Top five things that new bloggers should do?

GF responds with:
  1. Make a strategy and stick to it to avoid becoming too random and hoping something sticks
  2. Seek out five other blogs or influencers and engage with them
  3. Realise that it takes dedication and regular commitment BEFORE you dive in
  4. Understand that a blogs, like people, need nurturing
  5. Be open, honest and approachable
SMP: Five things that bloggers should avoid?

GF responds with:
  1. Shameless self promotion
  2. Being publicly unkind about competitors
  3. Thinking it's going to be a financially lucrative activity. Blogging is about influence in the long term, not short term cash flow.
  4. Leaving long gaps between entries
  5. Being boring

SMP: What’s going to be the most interesting aspect regarding social media / technology throughout 2009?

GF: What happens in the future will be the result of collective – and instinctive – action. Liken the social media stratosphere to a flock of birds that fly together and change course simultaneously. Social mediums are the platforms where we, as business professionals and consumers, gather in our hundreds and thousands. If we see danger, as animals we collectively, and instinctively move to safety (on, away from whatever or wherever the danger is). We as business people need to treat these platforms with the greatest of respect and evolve to keep pace with the demands of our audiences, the most important drivers of this sector.

SMP: What impact is the global recession having and what do you think the best way is to manage it for businesses such as yours?

Marketing was often the first resource to be struck off the budget list in hard times. However, social media has opened up a whole new world of marketing opportunity and businesses seem to be receptive to it. In terms of TBBA, we practice what we preach: stay focussed, keep simple strategy guidelines, make friends, talk to people and offer help where you can.

Mobile phone to arrange a coffee. Behind all that goes on electronically we are all human beings that need to reach out to other human beings. It's good to talk, meet and greet. It would be sinful to forget the social element of social media.

Now some questions for fun

SMP: What did you have for breakfast / lunch?

GF: Tea  / More tea, brazil nuts and chocolate

SMP: What’s the last good thing that you did for someone?

I always try to complement someone personally, on their clothes, style, hair, shoes, handshake, whatever... There is too much negativity in the world and an uplifting comment can change a persons day.

SMP: How many hours to you work a week?

GF: About 50. About half of which is networking.

SMP: If you weren’t running The Business Blogging Academy what would you be doing?

One or all of the following:
  • Diving anywhere exotic round the world
  • Sailing
  • Restoring French furniture
  • Dedicating more time to promoting African Childrens Book Project. It does what it says on the tin and is a truly selfless project taken on by an off shore oil worker largely out of his own pocket thus far. I just like the ethos behind it and it'd be my way of giving something back.

SMP: When and where did you go on your last holiday?

Maldives, diving, 2005! Ouch! Lots of little trips inside Europe since then but somehow that doesn't seem to count.

SMP: What’s the first thing you do when you get into the office of a morning?

Switch on kettle, switch on email, switch on brain, read the papers,.

SMP: If you had a superpower what would it be and why?

I've always wanted to get into other people's heads, keeping my own perception, so that I can see how others view life.

SMP: Are there any other sites/s that we should be aware of that relate to the above?,
And for fun and

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