Category Archives: social media

The Internet in Real Time

social-media-logosSocial media is such an amazing development. Who knew it would have such an impact on our lives? I really enjoy talking about the benefits it can bring to start-up business in my monthly workshop at the Library.

The sheer numbers involved are mind boggling. With over 2.2 billion users across the many platforms.

The current leader-board (in millions of users) looks likes this:

social-media-usage

Source https://www.statista.com/statistics/272014/global-social-networks-ranked-by-number-of-users/

But I find the slide that makes the most impact in my workshop is The Internet in Real-Time. Just click on the image below and spend a few seconds watching the various counters as they race upwards. I find it truly astonishing just how much content is being generated every single minute of the day.

The Internet In Real Time

From Visually.

Proving the power of the blog with cups of tea

1018292_cup_of_teaWay back in 2007 I wrote a short blog post based around the British Standard for making a cup of delicious tea. British Standard for a cup of tea – BS 6008

Over the years it has proved to be a popular story, so I was intrigued to see what would happen after a recent short news item on the standard on BBC Radio 4 Today programme.

The result was over 100 views during the subsequent 7 days which surprised me.

The reason for the number of hits was that a Google search for “british standard for a cup of tea”, finds my revised blog post at third place after Wikipedia, and the Independent newspaper, but ahead of the Guardian, and Telegraph newspapers. The original post comes in at number seven, but still on the crucial first page of search results.

A pretty impressive result for a couple of humble blog posts, and solid proof of the power of blogging.

cup of tea search

Using Twitter to get Lady Gaga’s attention

Dayne HendersonIn my workshop Introducing Social Media for Small Business I talk about Twitter’s unique ability to engage with otherwise inaccessible public figures.

To be honest, someone with millions of followers is unlikely to read every tweet sent their way. But it is possible to get noticed if the content piques their interest.

This is one of the wonders of social media over traditional forms of communication. You wouldn’t expect a letter, text or fax to be read by your celebrity target, let alone to get through on the telephone, or meet them in person. They would all be filtered out by their agents and minders.

But in fact many high-profile figures revel in the opportunity social media, and Twitter in particular, has given them to be in direct contact with their fans.

A recent story in the Metro newspaper gives a great example of this unprecedented access. Fashion designer Dayne Henderson who produces latex fetish outfits in his spare room in North Shields, uploaded some images onto Twitter. These got the attention of Lady Gaga, who commissioned him to make 19 headpieces for her world tour.

As Dayne told the Metro, ‘I never in a million years thought my first bit of work as a self-employed designer would be with Lady Gaga’.

Lady Gaga

Lady Gaga wearing one of Dayne Henderson’s latex designs

A revolution in websites has arrived 25 years after the birth of the Web

Tim Berners-LeeThe World Wide Web turned 25 this month, and it got me thinking about how website creation has changed since Tim Berners-Lee first proposed it to his boss at CERN in 1989.

For the first few years websites had to be hand-coded by computer programmers, which rather limited their number and design.

My first website was built back in the mid 1990’s, for my Hot Dog prothen employer Hermes Pensions Management. I used, what was then, state of the art software in the shape of HotDog Pro from the wonderfully named Sausage Software.

It was something of a labour of love, as each new page was another step on a steep learning curve. However just like the game of Snakes and Ladders, one false step forward could result in many steps back. I still remember clearly the moment we realised moving one page, required manually editing links on every single page on the site.

We made a major leap forward when a colleague in our IT department suggested using FrontPage from Vermeer Technologies. This company was soon taken over by Microsoft who were keen to establish themselves in the world of web. As one of the first “WYSIWYG” (What You See Is What You Get) editors, FrontPage was designed to hide the details of the dreaded HTML (hyper-text mark-up language), making it possible for novices to create Web pages and Web sites. Even better, when you moved a page, it automatically updated all the relevant links!

Microsoft Frontpage

However although FrontPage was wonderful improvement, it did have major deign limitations, and it was all too easy to spot ‘FrontPage’ websites.

Next on the scene for me was Dreamweaver version 2, the ‘Ferrari’ of web design software (beautiful and fast… and a bit flaky at times). After a couple of days training we were able to start producing complex websites with beautiful pages.

Dreamweaver v2

After many updated versions, Dreamweaver is still available today but is dying a slow death thanks to content management platforms such as WordPress and Drupal (Dreamweaver is still dying).

But in the last year or two the world of website creation has been truly revolutionised by template based, low cost services from the likes of Weebly and SquareSpace.

Now almost anyone can create professional looking websites, with no technical skill at all.
I surprised myself by managing to create a very simple but attractive website for my father within a couple of hours using SquareSpace. Compare that to the week it took me to create a 20 page website for SLA Europe using Dreamweaver ten years ago.
squarespace-logo-horizontal-white

Weebly_logo_and_tagline_2013

A great example of a Weebly website is Keep Me Jewellery from one of my clients here at the Business & IP Centre. As you can see from his amazing creatures, Tom Blake has a great eye for design, but he doesn’t have any background in building web sites.

Keep Me Jewellery

Also, these new platforms enable you to easily add a blog onto your website (an essential part of your marketing strategy – Blogging for fun and profit). And if you want to sell through your site there are shopping modules available too.

So if you were considering a career as a website designer, now might a good time to think again.

 

Introducing social media for small business

Last year I gave a workshop about my blog as part of our Web in Feb month of activities.pinterest_logo

This year I have been asked to turn it into a regular workshop by extending the coverage to social media.

Using the tried and trusted ‘Ronseal’ approach we came up with ‘Introducing Social Media for Small Business’ as the title.

So far I have the run the workshop twice, with more to follow on 15 and 29 May. It has proved popular, but I am struggling to fit everything in to the two hours available. Social Media is such a big topic and the platforms continue to grow, with Pinterest being the latest hot topic.

Here are my top twelve tips for Social Media success:

  1. Try to limit to 30 minutes a day
  2. Keep it professional – you might go viral in a bad way
  3. Keep an eye out for new services
  4. Try to measure results
  5. Cull any activities that don’t help your business
  6. Try to stay focussed – keep away from the Lolcats
  7. Be a person online – but not too personal
  8. Always try to add value
  9. Don’t just lurk – contribute
  10. Try to be ‘marketing lite’ – avoid spamming
  11. Have a consistent brand / name across your social media platforms
  12. Have fun with it

I recently posted my workshop slides onto Slideshare and was surprised to discover that I already have had 127 views there.

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introducing-social-media-for-small-business

Retail Trends – Online and Offline by Cate Trotter

Cate TrotterThe latest in Cate Trotter’s series of Trends workshops (see my previous posts on Key Trends for 2012, The Future of Online Marketing, The growing grey market in the UK) concentrated on Retail. In it Cate covered the rapid online developments, but also changes in bricks and mortar shopping, known as offline retail. She also explained how the smarter retailers are merging these two elements together to enhance both the online and offline experience for their customers.

Here are my notes from this highly recommended workshop:

Omnichannel retailing

  • Although the value of online clothing and accessories sales are predicted to double over the next five years, offline will still dominate with three quarters of overall sales.
  • There is a trend for online retailers to add a high street presence. Examples are FunkyPigeon, Made.com and ETSY.
  • The new Burberry flagship store on Regent Street is a leading example. It has a large screen showing live fashion events from around the world. And live music events held in the store are streamed onto their website.
  • Cate suggested using If This Then That or Hootsuite (which I have been using for a couple of year and can personally recommend) to manage multiple social media channels from one screen.
  • She asked the audience to review all their customer contact points and maximise buying opportunities for interested customers.
Burberry flagship store on Regent Street

Burberry flagship store on Regent Street

Mobile

  • Use of smart mobile devices is currently increasing at 35% a year, so all websites need to be made mobile friendly using tools such as DudaMobile.com.

Retail is everywhere

Social

  • Customers trust social media far more than advertising, for instance 90% trust recommendations from their peers.
  • Pinterest has now grown to 50 million users and is a great way to show products and designs.
    Pinterest_logo
  • This leads to an approach where products promote the brand which is a reversal of traditional marketing where the brand promotes the product.
  • Cate’s advice is to create remarkable products and services which your customers will want to promote through their social media networks.
  • An example is shops which offer free wi-fi enabling customer to take pictures of items and share them instantly online.

Speed and efficiency

  • The market is changing rapidly and social media trends show you where it is going. So monitor it using tools such as Google Trends or Editd.com.
  • Get your customers to choose what they want from you using funding sites such as Kickstarter.com.
  • Customers are demanding instant gratification to match delivery digital goods, so use services such as Shutl.com to deliver within minutes instead of days.
    shutl_logo

Customer experience

  • You can’t compete on price with the likes of Amazon.com, so develop an enhanced customer experience instead.
  • Be remarkable – be unique to compete.
  • For example the record company Rough Trade opened a record store designed to be a browsable experience rather than focussed on sales.
  • Look Mum No Hands sells and repairs cycles, but is also a trendy café for two wheeled fans.

A tailored experience

A personalised experience

  • Amazon.com has increased sales by 40% through the use of its recommendations system.
  • Dressipi.com uses customer driven fashion retailing to get the lowest return rate in the industry of just 10%.
    dressipi_logo
  • Cate suggested trying out Facebook’s recommendations plugin

 

Web in Feb 2013 is nearly here

WebinFeb logoOur annual Web in Feb will be here very soon so have a look at what we have on offer and start booking up before they sell out.

Search Engine Optimisation for small businesses workshop

Tuesday 5 February 2013, 10.00 – 14.00

Learn how to improve your website so that search engines, like Google, list or rank it better and higher.

Science and technology information for the business user

Tuesday 5 February 2013, 14.00 – 16.00

Get a competitive edge by exploring our incredibly rich resources on technology-based products.

Social media for business innovation

Wednesday 13 February 2013, 10.00-12.30

Learn how to improve your products and services by using  social networks including: LinkedIn, Facebook and Twitter.

Marketing masterclass for small businesses

Wednesday 13 February 2013, 14.00-18.00

This workshop will introduce you to new ways to think about how your online marketing and will give you the opportunity to apply these marketing strategies directly for your business.

Insider trends: The future of e-commerce

Monday 18 February 2013, 18.00 – 20.00

Get the latest trends to get a head start on  the social media revolution.

Manage your business on the web

Tuesday 19 February 2013, 18.00 – 20.00

Save precious time and money by learning about the different web applications out there which can help you run your business, many of which are free.

Introducing copyright workshop

Thursday 20 February 2013, 14.00-16.00

Find out how copyright protection is different from other forms of intellectual property and why it is essential for your business to protect the works created online.

What next for your invention? Plan, prototype or protect?

Thursday 21 February 2013, 13.00 – 17.30

Join this practical workshop to learn all the key issues that need to be covered when you plan, prototype and then protect your online or digital devices.

How to crowdfund for your business

Tuesday 26 February 2013, 18.00 – 20.00

Explore the latest Crowdfunding trends to raise capital and discover an approach to Crowdfunding that works best for you.

Managing money and saving time with Sage One

Wednesday 27 February 2013, 18.00 – 20.00

Find out about the online mobility of the cloud-based accounts and payroll software.

Mobile Marketing Demystified

Thursday 28 February 2013, 14.00 – 16.00

Get an introduction to the next frontier of marketing – apps and mobile websites.

 

Writing about ‘Web in Feb’ on Twitter? Use our hashtag and see what everyone else is saying: #webinfeb

Your New Year’s resolution – a new website?

Arganic oil bottleFor many small business their website is the key element of their marketing strategy. So I am often surprised just how poor some of these are. One of the worst consisted of white text on a bright red website which meant I couldn’t look at it for more than a few seconds without hurting my eyes.

So as well as emphasising the importance of a blog in bringing in visitors, I always encourage people to get a professional looking website that matches their product or service.

Dana Elemara’s Arganic website is an excellent example of how to use high quality photos and illustrations along with consistent page design and text fonts.

Which brings me to Sarah Warsop the British Library’s jewellery designer in residence. My colleague Fran Taylor our Marketing Manager for Creative Industries has been helping Sarah to discover inspirational collection items in the library.

My job has been to help Sarah develop the business side of her creative activities.Her previous website was more focussed on her dance practice and her other creative projects. She wanted a site that would be easy to setup and maintain, and to better show her amazing jewellery designs. And of course I suggested she include a blog.

So I was really excited to see this week that she had taken the plunge and moved to a new site using SquareSpace. In my opinion the result is simply stunning. http://sarahwarsop.com/

Sarah Warsop new website

 

Our YouTube channel is now up to 341 thousand hits

youtube-logo

Back in October 2011 I wrote Our YouTube channel gets 250 thousand hits.

This has proved to be a very popular topic on my blog recently, so I feel obliged to point out that the number is increasing rapidly, and today stands at 341,492.

Our BIPCTV channel has been going since the Centre opened in 2006, when we began posting recordings of our Inspiring Entrepreneurs events, and our success stories.

The most recent upload was From Battlefield to Business, and run in partnership with Heropreneurs, Royal Air Force Benevolent Fund, Royal Navy & Royal Marines Charity and ABF The Soldiers’ Charity, British Legion, Franchising Works and Help for Heroes.

The wonderful Levi Roots and his Reggae Reggae Sauce still tops the charts with 25,541 views, but he has stiff competition from Success Stories Guy Jeremiah of Aquatina Ltd, and William de Lucy from  Amplify Trading.

However my favourite remains Sam Roddick, founder of the ‘erotic emporium’ Coco De Mer, and daughter of Body Shop legend Dame Anita Roddick. She describes herself as an activist first and accidental entrepreneur second.

http://www.youtube.com/bipctv

Levi Roots

Organizations Don’t Tweet, People Do by Euan Semple

euan-sempleYesterday evening the British Library hosted a book launch for Organizations Don’t Tweet, People Do: A Manager’s Guide to the Social Web by Euan Semple.

Instead of a speech, Euan was interviewed by Richard Sambrook a friend and college from their days together at the BBC.

Here are my notes from the evening followed by my selections from Euan’s book:

  • The development of the internet and social media present a unique opportunity for social change – Euan considers this a phase change in society.
  • Euan wanted to be part of that change for his children’s sake.
  • He felt that when he was at the BBC, the World Service was a role model for the rest of the organisation. There people rubbed along together from all departments and levels sharing information. Other parts of the BBC were much more hierarchical and stuck in their silos.
  • A lot of the use of early collaboration technologies were simple tools to help people find out answers to simple questions, such as ‘does anyone know a fixer in Poland’, or ‘how do you claim for petrol expenses’.
  • On a wider level introducing these collaborative tools helped to create a shared understanding of corporate issues.
  • Euan recognises that the control issues for social media for many organisations such as law firms are non-trivial, but he believes they will get there eventually.
  • Finding your own ‘authentic voice’ through blogging is so much more valuable than writing endless management reports written in “management bollocks”, to a set formula,  which no one actually reads.
  • Euan describes his idealised vision of future corporations as ephemeral meritocracies.
  • He wonders if it is unreasonable to expect people to be able to, or want to have their own voice. And thinks that education and corporate structures have led to many thinking they don’t. But he believes that ultimately everyone wants to have a say in their lives.
  • The barriers to social media are not about age, but about open versus closed approaches to the world.
  • He believes the internet and social media is the next big story after 18th century religion, early 20th century fascism and communism, and late 20th century capitalism.

The tweets from the event have been Storified here.

A more detailed summary from the Strange Attractor blog by Suw Charman-Anderson.

Book coverReview of Organisations Don’t Tweet, People Do

The book comes in 45 Bite sized chapters, each with introductions and summaries. And in fact each chapter can be purchased individually in electronic format. Euan’s idea is to make it as easy as possible to spread the message to those who remain unconvinced by the benefits of social media.

An essential read for anyone with a connection to social media in the workplace (which means everyone), it is very wide ranging, quite philosophical at times, and always passionately personal.

Euan makes a strong case for the democratising benefits of adopting  social media and collaborative tools.

However, my experience of both successes and failures to introduce these technologies in various workplaces, makes me think that Euan is somewhat naïvely optimistic (an accusation he is aware of, and attempts to address several times in the book).

He ended the engaging question and answer session by saying he thinks it will take up to fifty years for the change to fully occur, and this strikes me as more realistic.

Here are my highlights from reading the book:

What is the book for? It is not a “how to” book nor, I hope, is it cyber-utopian vision of the future….I prefer to think of it as a collection of ideas that… can make the web more understandable and useful in the world of work.

Growing up onlineWe will only be able to take full advantage of the networked world if we grow up, think for ourselves, and take responsibility for our lives and our actions. I am not naïve. I know that, at least to begin with, truly thinking for yourself and saying what you think with any degree of authenticity is a big ask. It may never happen for many people. There may just be too much at stake and too much to take into account for a politician or someone in a corporate setting to really be authentic.

Don’t let the techies ruin the party…keep things out of the hands of technologists as much as possible. Some of them aren’t so bad, and some of them are re-inventing themselves…if there is a single biggest block to making social media happen encountered by my clients in large organizations it is with their IT department.

Ten steps to success with technology:

  1. Have a variety of tools rather than a single system.
  2. Don’t have a clear idea where you are headed.
  3. Follow the energy.
  4. Be strategically tactical.
  5. Keep moving, stay in touch, and head for the high ground.
  6. Build networks of people who care.
  7. Be obsessively interested.
  8. Use the tools to manage the tools. E.G. Blog about blogging in your organisation.
  9. Laugh when things go wrong.
  10. Unleash the Trojan Mice. Don’t do big things or spend loads of money. Set small, nimble things running and see where they head.

Anarchy versus controlSomeone once called me “an organizational anarchist” and I have to admit I was quite chuffed at the description and took it as a compliment…. What I am talking about here is not complete free reign for individuals … I am more interested in the possibility  of all of us taking full responsibility for ourselves and those around us – the ultimate in democracy.

How about moving democracy inside the firewall instead of outside it?

Bosses who don’t get itIf you can’t get support from your boss, see if you can get support from their peers. Find senior people who get what you are trying to do and enlist their support … Keep talking to them in their language about what you are doing and why – even if they occasionally glaze over!

Collaboration and trustThere is a lot of “collaboration software” out there that is really just the same stuff that failed to deliver data management, information management, knowledge management  and is now failing to deliver collaboration. In fact a lot of the tools labelled as collaboration tools actually work against effective collaboration.

Blurring work boundariesThe blurring of the inside and outside raises issues both for us as individuals and organizations we work for. For us it means that we have to take more responsibility for whatever lines we draw between work and non-work.

PR and marketing under threatI believe that marketing and PR are professions at real risk of disintermediation by the web. We will need people to do our marketing for us less and less as we use the tools in everyday work and start to have more effective conversations between ourselves and our customers.
Help your staff to become your best advocates. Give them the tools and the insights to become your ambassadors online.

The Return on Investment of social media – … I am becoming more robust about the ROI question and turning it back on those who ask it. What is the ROI of the way we do things now? … Where is the competitive advantage in preventing staff from using these tools to build and maintain the networks that develop their knowledge and their ability to get things done. Where is the competitive advantage in allowing your competitors to embrace these changes before you do and potentially re-inventing the industry you are so rigidly clinging to?

Online indiscretionsMuch has been made about recruitment teams searching Facebook and LinkedIn to find prospective candidates and the damage supposedly done by online indiscretions. In some ways this is an anachronistic attitude coming from people who don’t themselves engage online. People are becoming much more robust and open in their online lives. Besides, what is so awful about these supposed indiscretions? Rather than worrying about photos of potential recruits drunk at parties, I would be more worried about people who appeared to have something to hide. In fact I would be less likely to employ someone who hadn’t been indiscreet as a student!

Deal with management fearsOnline …You can’t hide behind your status or your pomposity. In fact being remote and pompous will severely inhibit your attempts at effective communication on the web.

So the answer is to help those who are disapproving or pompous in reaction to what is happening on the web. Don’t dismiss their reactions or sneer at them but make it easier for them to relax and say what they think. Show them the ropes and hold their hands rather than ridicule them as they discover  for themselves the fast changing world they have felt excluded from.

Develop guidelines-not rules, collaborativelyDon’t start with rules. Learn to use your tools, and see how people make them work before you cast too much in stone.

Use Trojan miceSet up small, unobtrusive, inexpensive, and autonomous tools and practices, set them running, and cajole and nudge them until they begin to work out where to go and why.

Don’t feed the TrollsThe best way to deal with trolls is to befriend them. Even the worst of them are human.

If your critics have shown the energy to engage, and can then be turned around to be supportive of you, then this sends a very strong signal to other dissenters.

Radical transparencyIn fact online I recommend that people assume that if you have written something on a computer then someone else will at some time be able to see it.

Does this mean you can’t write about anything? No, but it does mean you have to think harder bout what you are writing, where, and why.

Blogging as therapyBy writing about the workplace you become more thoughtful about your place in it and what it does for you.

My favourite quote in the book comes from Vint Cerf, one of the ‘fathers of the internet’. When asked by a journalist if the internet was a good or a bad thing, he replied, “It is just a thing. Whether good or bad depends on what you are doing with it.”

Euan ends the book with his final blog post at BBC after 21, years about the importance of love at work.