Social Networks: Keeping it Relevant…

*sigh*

The beginning of the week and another ‘Marmite Monday’ (get it? You either love it or hate it!).

We all know that familiar feeling; waking up at OMG-o’clock in the morning to only realise that the milk’s almost finished and that you’re running late…again! But it was whilst I was undergoing my daily trek into work and trying, but failing, to avoid the school run that I glanced to the bus advertisement beside me.

“Follow Reading Buses on Twitter”, it read, which got me thinking- are companies really making the most of using social media channels when it comes to marketing? Or are they just simply jumping on the digital band wagon and hoping it leads to Innovation Town, Cool-Ville?

Since the introduction of the “World Wide Web” in 1989 (thank you Sir Tim Berners-Lee!), modern day social media and networks have dominated the information superhighway. Although initially intended to be a way to stay in touch with family and friends, social media has evolved into so much more. Now, it is not only the heart of the digital social scene, but also a platform that allows companies to connect and engage with the global masses.

But are companies using social media to their advantage?

Well, honestly- for the most part, yes. Although there are 71% of businesses who are hesitant to use social media channels, there is still a significant amount of companies using it confidently and effectively. In fact, some companies even have a social media strategy guide to make sure that they’re…well, being social!  From ASOS’s constant offer ambush on ‘Twitter’, Tesco’s offering Clubcard points for consumer stories to Samsung’s cheeky viral videos about “you know who”. Big brands have taken to web 3.0 like the colour blue to social media logos (no really, have a look! Surely I can’t be the only one who’s noticed that blue seems to be a very popular colour in social media). So as well as using social networks to market to consumers, companies have also been able to push sales, increase traffic, drive down costs and gain an insight into their audience. All this from using the relevant social media platforms – brilliant!

Social_Keep it relevant_social media logos

Not forgetting, of course, the B2B benefits of delving into the realms of social networking when it comes to business-sy stuff like recruiting. In fact, 93% of companies use ‘LinkedIn’ to recruit potential candidates but beware; ‘LinkedIn’ is NOT a jobsite and perhaps using a job board along with other social media activity could help support an ad. Especially as 66% of recruiters are using ‘Facebook’ to recruit and 50% opting to advertise jobs via ‘Twitter’.

So, Reading Buses may have had the right idea in using something that is easy to communicate to their target audience. After all, they are likely to be on the phone playing ‘Candy Crush’ whilst waiting for the next bus to peer around the corner. But be warned- avoid purely putting all marketing and communication efforts into one social channel or just going for the latest social site. Keep it relevant to stay relevant – it couldn’t be more simple!

10 Reasons to get on board Google+

Although there have been many rumours that Google+ is dead, the 250 million users and 150 million active have a different opinion. That and the fact that Google+ adds more than 10 million new users a month.

  1. It’s the ongoing task of SEO experts to keep up with the ever changing algorithms of Google search but one thing is for sure is Google favors it’s own. So the more +’s you have the more Google will favor you in search results.
  2. There is less competition for brands on Google+. Although Google+ had the fastest growth of it’s kind on its launch, many of these early adopters are now missing in action. What this means for your brand is those remaining are serious Plussers who are looking for savvy companies with a page built for Google+ engagement.
  3. Google already has a proven money making business model, unlike Facebook who are always trying to create new monetization paths.
  4. Google+ communities are for brands seeking business audiences and in comparison to Facebook’s groups, Google+ have raised the bar high.
  5. Google+ is only the tip of the iceberg for companies abilities to engage with innovative tools, file sharing, storage, calendars, free email, hang outs and a whole lot more.
  6. Unlike Facebook where we all meet to catch up and stalk friends and ex’s. Google + is for business people looking to interact and share solid content.
  7. Google+ is high energy place all day with real human activity all day long and not just forwards, shares and retweets.
  8. Communities are now available for companies allowing you to build further loyalty and value to a brand.
  9. When you play in the Google+ world you are playing with some of the internets most social influencers and they are far easier to approach than on Facebook or Twitter.
  10. Google+ has had it’s honeymoon and still growing strong with 10 million new users a month. So now is the time to get on before you miss the boat.

Google Boat

The Soc Nav – Waze and the navigation community!

About 10 years ago I was first introduced to a Sat Nav. I was going away for the weekend with a friend and her Uncle had this state of the art piece of equipment in the car. I was blown away, when we moved, the map moved. It was amazing and told us which way to go. It even said how long it would take us to get there. Until there was a road closed and the Sat Nav no longer knew the way and calmly told us to “turn around when possible”. Twice. We drove around in a comedy circle twice before we realised there was a problem. We turned it off and got a map out. It started to rain. It was a rubbish trip all round. That was when it cost hundreds to buy a Sat Nav.

We’ve all heard the horror stories, idiots obeying their Sat Nav religiously and ending up 2 days later 400 miles away from the intended destination. Some wonder if people actually have their own brains. Sat Nav’s certainly have their flaws and their fair share of bad press; I had become increasingly unimpressed by their ability and always used with added caution.

Continue reading

Is it time for a website redesign?

Today customers conduct more research during their purchase cycle than ever. Your companies website is often one of the first interactions a potential customer will experience with your business. So it makes sense that your website should be an engaging and current representation of your company, providing reasons why the customers should consider doing business with you.

Upon arriving at a website that has not been updated in weeks, let alone months or years, a client will consider multiple questions. Are you still in business? Do you even have the product that I need anymore? Are the contact details up to date? If they don’t care about keeping their site up to date will they care about me? If people don’t feel comfortable from the beginning they can easily dismiss your business as an option during their purchasing decision.

Here are 8 points to consider when deciding if it’s time for an update.

 1. Outdated Design
The design of your website is going to be the first thing that a website visitor notices. Whether we like it or not, customers make judgments straight away about your business from the very first moment. You wouldn’t show up to a first date or a job interview with wrinkles in your clothes or without making an effort on how you look.

Here are questions to consider:

  • Is your website attractive and engaging?
  • Does your website have a strong call to action or directional message?
  • Is the content structured in an organised and easy to digest way?
  • Is the website navigation intuitive and uniform?
  • Can site visitors easily contact you or find your location?
  • Does your site still look good and function well on a mobile device?
Old or new website

 2. New Products or Services
The products and services your company provides sometimes change. Perhaps you have a new product or changed the details of a service you provide. Before picking up the phone or making contact with you, many people will try to find out if you provide the products or services they are looking for. Therefore it is important that you ensure this information is up to date on your website. To help engage people in your products and services make use of good photos and videos displaying them in action. New products are also good opportunities to update your social media presence. You should consider how easy is it for you to keep your site up to date either through a content management system such as wordpress or your own web team.

3. Cumbersome Content
Do you give people a reason to come back to your website? It is not only important that the content on your website is fresh and engaging but also that the content is easy to read. People will not read a 5,000 word essay on your service lumped into one paragraph. Break up the text with photos, videos, bullet points, numbered lists and proper text formatting. Make sure your content is inviting and easy to read.

4. You’ve Lost Your Competitive Edge
How does your online presence compare to your competition? Whilst researching your site your potential customer will also be viewing your competitor’s sites. With this in mind it is more important than ever that your website is at the very least keeping pace with the competition. Take into account what sets you apart from your competitors and share this with your site visitors. Set standards high by providing people with useful information they can use during their purchasing process. This is not only your chance to be considered but to make a lasting impression.

5. Your website is not working for your business
In the early days of the internet, many businesses rushed to create a website that served as an online brochure providing visitors with an overview of who you are and what you do. While this may still be the objective for your website, you need to ask yourself if you are truly getting the most out of your website? Treat a visit to your website in the same manner as you would a customer walking through your doors.  A website is a one way communication tool so you need to make sure that you provide options to interact with your business. Simple things like an option to subscribe to your email newsletter, an online form to submit a contact or quote request, demo videos, and the ability to purchase products and services directly through the website are a few things that can give customers a more interactive and engaging experience on your site.

6. Increase Exposure on Search Engines
Plain and simple… search engines like fresh content. Websites that provide fresh, relevant content are rewarded with better page ranking. Search engines trawl online for the most up to date sites relating to your keywords and if your competitor has updated their site sooner than you, the search engine will score them as a more current source of information. Blogs have now become common place on company websites and one of the best tools to regularly add fresh content to your website, keeping you current and helping you increase your exposure on search engines. Make sure your business is in front of the countless customers using search engines every day looking for the very products and services you offer.

 7. Social Media Integration
Many companies now take advantage of social media platforms such as Facebook, Twitter, YouTube, Vimeo and Pinterest, as a marketing, communication and support tool to their customers. Are you using these platforms in conjunction with your business website? Social Media has now proven itself as a powerful tool in engaging new and existing customers, however if it doesn’t integrate with your site then you are missing a great opportunity. Your website should be the centre of your online marketing efforts with updates and posts directing visitors back to your website where they will be able to find further information about your business and the products / services you provide.

8. Mobile and Tablet Ready
How easy is your website to view and navigate on a mobile device? It is predicted by 2014 more people will be viewing websites on mobile devices versus desktops, so it is critical you consider your mobile image aswell as your desktop. Responsive websites have layouts for different size screens taking in to account how the site will be used and viewed on various devices.
responsive websiteIt has become commonplace for sales people to carry tablets and they need your site in a suitable presentation style that shows off your current products and services professionally to potential customers. Customers trying to find your office may well be using a mobile phone looking for directions or a contact number. The old way to please these variants was through building multiple sites. Now with responsive websites you can build and keep one website up to date whilst your site layout moves fluidly through different devices changing font size, images and navigation.

Quite simply what it comes down to is that your company website is often the basis of the first impression of how a consumer feels about your company. It should be a strong first impression, and hopefully memorable, in a positive way. So take advantage of the opportunities that an updated website provides because you do not want your first impression on a potential customer to be their last.

 

A Spot of Social Segway-ing

After long months of the horrendous British weather, being chained to the wonderful world of digital media and web design, it was time. Time to leave Reading and Berkshire. Time for a holiday. Time for a bit Sun, Sangria and Spanish culture!

Our destination was ancient Granada, the famous Alhambra palace featured in our “things to see before you die book” so it ticked the boxes.

However, the last thing I thought I would be doing in this ancient land would be travelling in “style” through the narrow cobbled streets and old market places on… a Segway.
Bombing it along with my high viz jacket and cycle helmet on it was a bit a like some sort of sci-fi programme rudely interrupting a Michael Palin classic. It was awesome!

Continue reading

Web design and digital marketing is not rocket science

Like most things your digital strategy doesn’t need to be rocket science to work well for you. With a little help from our friends at Google and Wikipedia, there’s not much we can’t do to a reasonable standard. One of my good friends was telling me not so long about an extension he’s doing to his house, and said that most of the work he’s done has come courtesy of YouTube and forums. There’s a whole new blog around this given that example, but I’ll save that for another day…

My point is, the internet has given us the instructions for pretty much everything – and just to prove it, in about 2 mins I found a lesson plan on “How can I find and mine valuable resources from a simulated moon surface?” on NASA’s website.

This is great stuff, what the internet is all about and I advocate it completely.

There are just two things to think about before I rush off to learn about mining on the moon. One, I’ve never been to the moon, and know very little about this, so my experience is zero. Two, when will I find time to learn to become an astronaut, and then learn about mining valuable resource on the moon. Never, I’m tied up being an entrepreneur, digital and recruitment marketer, and a dad of two.

Now if you’re serious about learning something new, you can commit the time to it, and before long you’ll have some of the tools you’ll need to get by to varying standards. Or your passion for the moon is just a part time interest and you fit it in around the day job because it’s not that important to your life/career. Or lastly you appoint NASA as your preferred Moon Mining contractor (do they even work like that?) because it’s vital you get it right – the success of your personal/work life depends on it.

The internet has answered the ‘how’, but now we’re left with ‘should we?’.

The point is the tough part is deciding what level of expertise you can reach on your own, what amount of time you can commit to the cause, and what the potential benefits are on each. Or do you leave it some else who knows what they’re doing?

Digital marketing and web design is not rocket science, but depending on how serious you are you’ll need to apply the same process in deciding whether or not you can do it yourself or call the experts.

Now, where did I park the space shuttle?

 

Get your ducks in a row

I’ve been thinking, most people, when we start talking to them about digital marketing always talk about Facebook. They tend to fall into 2 categories, the lovers and the haters. Either way, they often don’t know much about it in the first instance – that’s why they’re talking to us I suppose.

Don’t get me wrong Facebook and social media are very important elements to your marketing campaign, but it’s just one channel. You’ll need other channels and activity to help support that channel. You don’t just think that everyone in the world is going to stumble across your page do you? They won’t, not unless you’re very lucky.

The other thing to mention is that often you need to think about other things a little closer to home. A great social media strategy is great, but if your website, sales team, marketing and strategy is all over the place, getting those likes and tweets won’t really do your  business any good whatsoever.

Only a short blog this time, but just make sure you see the bigger picture when it comes to marketing and sales, don’t be seduced by the stuff that’s fashionable right now.

Facebook, you know too much.

This April, my Dad retired from 35 long years serving in the Foreign Office – a recovering
civil servant if you like. As a representative and defender of Queen and Country, it had been entirely inappropriate for him to be on Facebook or any sort of social media. However, this all changed on retirement and he decided to give social media a go – much to my amusement.

Within moments of signing up I had frantic texts from Dad, it was as if the cold war scare had been reignited. Facebook knows his friends and family – they’re suggesting people he may know before he even has one connection. These friends were from all walks of life, including friends he made whist we were posted in New Zealand.

Continue reading

Ricky and friends get social

So, the weekend before last I went to my Sister-in-law-to-be’s Hen Party at… London Zoo! A rather alternative destination for a Hen Party but my Sister-in-law has a life long love of Penguins and so we flocked (pun intended) to Penguin Beach to cheer on the Penguins.

As we wooped and hollered at the penguins being fed our attention was drawn to Ricky, the rockhopper penguin! He loved the attention, was a total show off and is the only one of his kind at London Zoo. To our amazement the keeper told us Ricky has his own Facebook page. After telling us this, kids of all ages whipped out their smart phones and became a fan of Ricky, wrote on his wall and uploaded their photos of him to his page.  Continue reading