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!

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.

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Mercedes Benz: #boring or #exciting ?

Can Mercedes Benz’ ‘ground breaking’ twitter commercial be viewed as a relative success? Asking viewers to decide the outcome of a ‘dramatic’ car chase advert over a weekend of prime time TV to some might be rather exciting. For others however, it was all really rather a damp squib.

Although this was a first and technically the mechanics worked, the general feeling is that Mercedes Benz and their agency AMV have let us down a little. At the end of each advert, viewers were asked to choose what should happen in the next advert, deciding whether the UK rapster Kano and his female accomplice should #evade or #hide, or to #switch or #lift. The highest number of activity or ‘votes’ would decide the getaways’ fates.

The concept all sounds quite good, exciting, perhaps not, but to give power to the viewer to decide on the outcome of a cinematic style car chase does cause the finger tips to twitch towards our blue bird of a friend.

Mercedes Benz is a premium car brand, and they clearly have enviable budgets to create such an advert and the first #youdrive advert that aired all looked quite promising. However, upon choosing the first outcome, #evade, everything went a little downhill.

Firstly, the following advert where the two hipsters in their shiny Mercedes appeared to #evade, but then also #hide confused many into thinking that Mercedes had tricked viewers in to filming only one advert that covered all bases.

Secondly, it was a pretty pathetic car chase. The promising videography and stylish car and it’s contents from the first advert made way for a dull and more than anything, slow sequel.

Thirdly, after once more asking viewers to vote again for the final part of the triology we were told that they had to wait until the next day for the outcome. We were hardly on the edge of our seats, even if Kano did his best to persuade otherwise.

In all, Mercedes Benz have shown it’s competitors and other brands will certainly attempt these stunts, that they can be done and activity and buzz can be created. Yet aside the fact that they advertised an advert in print before the commercial was even aired which at best is mildly annoying, Mercedes Benz seemed to forget what the advert was meant to achieve: excitement. The process and technology worked, but it’s content let us down. Others won’t make the same mistake.

Instagram, the youngest addition to social media

So, who’s added Instagram to their list of social media accounts? Since its birth in 2010 it has grown over the last two years to 80 million worldwide users. The best way to describe Instagram is it’s like Twitter with followers, only instead of tweets, your updates are in photos. Photos can either be taken through the app or taken from your camera roll which can then be edited by adding filtered layers.

These cropped and filtered photos are appearing everywhere on our Facebook and Twitter feeds, so why is it so popular? People engage better with images than having to read, we find reading hard work especially on the move using mobiles and as they say, a picture speaks a thousand words. This is why the likes of Pinterest and YouTube are so successful, still or moving, these are the best forms of engagement. Instagram’s simple userface also makes it easy for everyone to use.

Fans also feel closer to their idols seeing pictures posted from their everyday lives. There is also a great variety of interest subjects from art, architecture to nature, food and fashion, so there is something for everyone. Even businesses are creating accounts.

Will Instagram last? The network has passed its honeymoon period and still gaining more and more users and it doesn’t look like it will stop anytime soon. Each second, 58 photos are uploaded, a new user is gained and there have been more than one billion photos uploaded. Will it ever compete with the social network giants? I think it’s safe to say, Facebook and Twitter don’t have anything to worry about at the moment, but it shows that social media can spit out old networks which are tired and dated and give birth to new ones changing the way we interact with one another and how the giants should also adapt to change.

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.

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When is a blog, a blog?

What is a blog? Have we moved beyond the idea of the ‘blog’? Is it a bit outdated? The explosion of social media and technology in general has changed the face of the original blog and allowed just about anyone to do so.  A blog can be defined as a personal journal, an online diary, a chronological hub of thoughts, ideas, opinions and muses.

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