Blaugust 31: A Whole Month of Posts

I’m done! Across one month, thirty-one days, I’ve produced one (sometimes more than one) blog post per day! This is my second year doing the Blaugust challenge, and while both time I succeeded and finished the month, this time felt a lot easier. Mainly, that had to do with my Future Learn courses, which gave me plenty to talk about, and meant I didn’t need to crawl around various websites trying to find a topic that was relevant and inspired me to write something meaningful about it.

What I learned from this year’s Blaugust
As I mentioned above, having a topic to start with definitely helps, and also gives this blog some kind of continuity, rather than just bouncing from subject to subject, or (something I’ve been frequently guilty of!) planning to go back to a topic and then not doing it.  

Also, posts really don’t have to be that long. Back in university, I remember reading a book which claimed that the best posts should be no more than 200-300 words in length. Of course, I never stuck to that back then, because I felt it would never be enough to articulate what I want to say. Sometimes it still isn’t, but if I’m just writing about a single subject, it’s enough space to make my point without starting to go in depth to the point where I have to write an awful lot to make sure everything makes sense. 

I frequently wrote several posts at a time, rather than one per day. While this might not be entirely in the spirit of Blaugust, they were all written within August and it definitely took some pressure off for days when I was busy, or travelling etc. This also helped with the planning side of things- I could write several posts on a similar topic and schedule them. 

But perhaps most importantly, I really got the learning bug over this month, and I think maybe it’s time to look for something for long term and formal as my career progresses. I’ve already started getting in contact with some organisations and if I do decide to go ahead, I’ll make sure to post my notes here! Posting my Future Learn course notes turned out to be a free learning aid, as I had to totally understand what I was writing about to order to make something that would be understandable to others and I’d like to continue with that.


Blaugust 30: The Internet is Really, Really Big

Sometime around Friday night, I was reading an article on Mashable about Weather Data and problems with social media, which I started and then abandoned a blog post on due to not feeling like I had a good angle (it’s a good article though and I recommend it). However, before I deleted the draft, I had been researching some data on how big the Internet is, and I found a fair amount of amazing information which I wanted to share in a post.

I assumed that the Internet is expanding at an exponential range, like of like the Universe really, and I was looking for articles to support this.

Image from

But according to World Wide Web Size, a site which tracks the number of indexed pages, the number of indexed pages doesn’t necessarily go up consistently and even goes down at times. This is because individual pages and whole sites are constantly going up and down. This gives the impression that the Internet isn’t expanding all that quickly despite the amount of content on it, but then you get this quote from

As of 2014 Google has indexed 200 Terabytes (TB) of data. To put that into perspective 1 TB is equivalent to 1024 Gigabytes (GB). However, Google’s 200 TB is just an estimated 0.004 percent of the total Internet.

That linked article above also has a genuinely fascinating infographic which tries to put in perspective how we use the internet as well as it’s sheer size in data.

This article also notes that a lot of the unindexed web is the Dark Web. So if you look at the galaxy image above, and imagine that each of those stars is a website, all of the space in between them is the Dark Web (sorry, that’s a rough analogy! It’s kind of the easiest way for me to understand it though!)

Blaugust 29: Learning via Email Part 2

So, after a week of having course material sent to me via email, I’m starting to feel that this style of learning isn’t really for me. This doesn’t mean that it’s not a great idea – I definitely still support and recommend Highbrow and might continue to use some of their other courses, but I don’t feel like I’m engaging with the content as I did when I had to go and log into an actual site. It’s maybe too passive for me, the emails come to my inbox and rather than making time to read them, I find myself ignoring them, then needing to catch up two or three which isn’t really how the system ought to work. I tend to study in bursts rather than every single day, it’s just what works for me.

Meanwhile, here’s a few more notes from the Creating Facebook Content course emails.

  • Dividing your content evenly into your own posts promoting your business, curated content and engagement with followers is important. Other articles I’ve read had recommended doing different percentage amount (40%, 20%, 40%, for example) so honestly I don’t think it matters that you keep it exactly even, and as in all situations it is going to depend on your business or brand and how you want to communicate/ present yourself.
  • If you are curating a lot of third-party content, it is probably a good idea to use an app like Pocket or Feedly (or similar, there are lots available) to save articles and sites for later. The course didn’t mention this but it is something I remember from various roles running social media accounts – before tweeting/posting and article or whatever, check the source site, and be sure it fits with your brand overall. This might be seen as overly cautious, but you can’t ever take anything back once it’s online.
  • Don’t just share from Facebook/Twitter to Facebook/Twitter! Use content from everywhere.
  • Plan your content well ahead of time. Decide a sort-of branding guide for the kind of third-party content that you want. Choose seasonal events and work out what you want to do around them well in advance. Of course, you need to have space to deviate from this in order to keep up with current/changing events, so this will be a rough plan with wiggle room.
  • Once you have a content plan, remember to go back over it regularly and refine it, checking that it still fits your brand and your audience.

Blaugust 28 – Using Padlet

During my Future Learn Smart Cities course, we used a system called Padlet to upload image and make notes on activities. I’d only used it in the browser version (there is a app, which I’ve been using since.)

It did feel slightly like a virtual classroom environment, as people chose a space on the pad, and wrote in a text box and/or added links and images which the rest of the users could see, as if they were all displayed on a classroom table (without the potential peer pressure and judgement of being around actual other people) but I didn’t expect to need to use it outside of Smart Cities or other similar courses.

However after glancing through some of the emails I’ve had from Padlet (see, email advertising – it does work!) I’ve not only discovered plenty of free and potentially useful content, I’ve also realised how it could be useful to me as a note-taking and sort-of rough blogging platform in the future.

I’ve been reading some live blogs that have been end via Padlet from conferences, where one person is writing up the content and others have been able to pop in and make comments or suggestions. As I (hopefully) move back into more formalised learning, I will be able to put up rough lecture notes – the stuff that I probably wouldn’t put up here without serious revision.

Blaugust 27: Learning via Email

So this is a different way of learning. Instead of being signed up to courses, for the past few days I’ve been signed up to a short email course from Highbrow. There are free courses on all kinds of topics, but I decided to stay on this month’s theme of learning for my professional development, and picked a course on creating better Facebook post content.

The site makes you choose just one course at a time, which seems restrictive, but really it’s forcing you to completely focus on the content, rather than signing up to lots of courses at once and splitting what little time you might have for it.

Anyway, onto the notes that I need to remember from this course (a lot of it was reinforcing what I already knew, but there were some very good tips.)
Course Notes from the First Few Days 

  • 1.65 billion people use Facebook monthly (I’ve talked about Facebook numbers before, here)
  • On a post, your profile picture is your ‘business card’. It needs to be instantly recognisable and changed as little as possible.
  • Your cover photo, meanwhile, is more like a advertising banner – you can change it often to reflect new content, for example if you are selling a product it would be a good place to talk about offers.
  • Post updates should be short and concise – the shorter it is, the more traction it will get (personally, I find that this can depend on your audience, but it is sound general advice.)
    On trends – many social media trends are predictable – they rely on seasonal events, sporting events, news cycle etc. So if you’re creating content off the back of this, keeping up with Google trends is a good idea.

Blaugust 26: Google Business Video – YouTube for Business

This will likely be the last Google for Small Businesses video that I look at for Blaugust, though I’m going to continue looking at them and posting about them as there are other similar videos on social media for business.
This one looks at using YouTube to grow your business and these were my main take-away points and notes from it.

– You don’t need a large-scale professional to get started if the content is good.

– The biggest viewing age-group on YouTube is 18-34, but 34-49 is also 20% of the viewers.

– 90% of people shopping online find an online video helpful when making a purchase.

– When doing video ads, because of the skip option, the best ads are those with the logo/brand name and a bold visual statement at the beginning.

– (This is something I remember from going to Google Digital Garage) people are going on YouTube to look for tips, using it as a search engine, so how-to videos can be really major.

It wasn’t mentioned in this video, but I remembered that another really important tip from Google Digital Garage was that at the end of the day you are using these videos to sell a product or service. So it’s not necessarily about how many views you get, it’s about finding your niche where interested people will see your videos and be encouraged to become customers.

Blaugust 25: WhatsApp Monetising

So, we break with what’s fast becoming the regularly scheduled learning posts for one that’s actually about current events! Earlier this afternoon, WhatsApps announced that it would be starting to integrate with Facebook, sharing phone numbers and friend suggestions between the two platforms. Longer term, they’ll be working towards advertisers being able to directly message users.
Since then, social media as a whole has fairly blown up with negative comments about this (unsurprisingly.) I wrote about Whatsapp and it’s future back when Facebook first acquired it in 2014, and it’s clear why they waited two years to make any moves towards monetisation – they needed to ensure that the user base was too entrenched to go elsewhere once the next negative wave hit.

The integration with Facebook makes sense in terms of shoring up (if perhaps not growing) Facebook’s userbase. However the real goal is profit, and in that I wonder about how successful their current plans will really be.

In the UK, at least, advertising via text message never really took off. It’s always mainly been the preserve of weird scam companies and has pretty much petered out in the past few years. It’s a different story in the US and other countries, where text ads are more commonplace, but there, it might be seen as a backwards step compared to the tactics of Snapchat advertising and similar – a bit old fashioned for a clearly 21st century product. It remains to be seen exactly how Facebook will implement monetisation, but I do think they could do better than that.