Mike Ruffles, Young Person Recognition UKBA15 Judge is a content and social media manager at . He is a regular contributor to Virgin.com’s entrepreneur channel and currently plans the content strategy for VirginStartUp.org and VirginMediaPioneers.com – two websites aiming to change the prospects of entrepreneurs for good.

We asked Mike on his view about what impact the awards could bring:
“Blogging and content marketing is a key tool for brands such as Virgin to share its knowledge and connect with an audience base on a whole different level. Producing great content for an online audience is a skill that’s becoming more important every year and these awards are a way of raising the bar and celebrating bloggers at the top of their game.”

Below Mike goes into further detail about what he will be looking for when Judging the  candidates for the 2015 awards. Read his views below and connect with him at:

1. What does it take for you to bookmark a Blog? Is there anything that a Blog must have/be to grab your attention?
If I’m going to bookmark a blog, I need to feel like I’m getting something from it. For instance, my job is all about building communities online, everything I do is pretty much advice taken from blogs I’ve read elsewhere. So if a blog sparks an idea for some content I can produce, or a new way I can engage with an audience through social, then I’ll bookmark it. But for it to stay bookmarked, it needs to deliver that value consistently otherwise it’s just wasting my time. Finally, to bring the content to life and to keep it interesting, the blogs I bookmark are authentic. If the blogger isn’t being true to their own personality and isn’t a complete nerd for what they’re blogging about, then the whole thing’s pointless.

2. What would stand a Blog out from the crowd?  Top three things.
The Internet is flooded with self-obsessed bloggers filling up space about stuff no one really cares about. The trick is to give your audience something. The ones that stand out:
• Add value to their audience
• Are easy on the eye
• Deliver that value time and time again

3. How seriously do big companies take Blogs and the Blogging culture on a commercial level?
Big companies (or at least the good ones) take blogs and blogging culture super seriously. Content is the most powerful weapon for brands at the minute, as it allows them to speak to their customers every day. It gives brands their own tone of voice, which helps the businesses identify with its target audience. Just look at Virgin, it keeps its customers engaged every day with a blog that attracts over 1million unique visitors per month. When these people come to book a flight, train or gym membership, they know Virgin’s a brand to be trusted, as they already connect with it through its blog day in day out.

4. Do you think there is any brand loyalty when it comes to Blogs that report on news?
If that blog/brand is affected by the news then of course there will be a certain bias. In the same way that news sources are biased towards whatever political party or agenda its readers or owner has. The best blogs are those that are authentic and genuine, so if that bias is coming for a reason and is the genuine view of the blogger then it’s probably a view that the bloggers audience will connect with and share. Brand loyalty is only an issue when the blogger claims to be independent, but liars are easy to spot and the audience will see through it eventually.

5. Do you think that in time Blogs will take over from the traditional media forms such as, daily newspapers for the latest news?
I feel like that’s already happened. The blogs and social feeds of the newspaper companies are just as important and popular as the daily newspapers are now. There will always be a space for quality journalism, I just think in the future more people will read it through their smartphone or tablet than will actually buy a physical newspaper.

6. What Blogs do you read and why?
•  – The first thing I ever came across of Gary Vaynerchuck was a Youtube video of his keynote speech at the Inc 500 back in 2011. It’s him talking about how to measure the ROI of social media and he absolutely nails it. The tips he gives are still so relevant today, even though he spoke about them almost four years ago. That’s how good it is. I followed his blog ever since stumbling across that clip and he keeps adding that value consistently.
•  – I manage a number of different blogs and I’m always looking for ways to grow engagement and visits. Ryan Holiday’s advice on growth hacking sets the bar for everyone else.
•  – I’m a huge football fan and when I find a moment to relax, this is where I head. Whereas the other blogs I’ve mentioned give me knowledge to succeed in my job, this blog gives me laughter. The beauty of WhoAteAllThePies is that it’s content that I’ll want to share with friends instantly and that’s the ultimate compliment for any blog, regardless of what it’s about.

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