Monday, June 29, 2009

Online retail, growth ahead

The good news:
Online retail is still estimated to grow, despite the global economic crash-landing the financial markets performed last year.

The bad news:
The growth from previous years is not sustainable, so you'll have to put up with single digital growth very soon!

This all kinda makes sense as its not possible to grow a market beyond the total possible number of potential customers. (See for some US-centric info.) However, its obvious that the mad days of the eCommerce teenage years are now changing into something more like maturity.


Thursday, June 25, 2009

MP's Expenses and crowdsourcing

It struck me that a particularly good example of using crowdsourcing techniques in journalism is the publishing and subsequent Questions & Answers of UK MP's expenses claims.

Having published the details of each MP's claims online [you can find yours by postcode, geographic region or political leaning here] , the BBC has subsequently asked the relevant MP to explain their potential mis-use of public money [here].

Wednesday, June 24, 2009

Why is 'word of mouth' gaining interest?

WOM, or Word-of-mouth used to be the old method of spreading information. Then along came technology...

.... and I don't mean the Internet. I mean the printing press, then everything else afterward (which has been accepted by consumers in increasingly quicker timescales)

But now, with social media, we are seeing a shift back to WOM and WOMM (Word of Mouth Marketing). But just who do consumers listen to for references and recommendations? Well suprisingly its not just their online friends.. its their real ones!

According to a Mintel report this month, 34% of US Internet users who bought a product or service based on a recommendation got the information from a friend or relative, and a quarter got it from a spouse or partner. However only 5% of respondents bought something based on the recommendation of a blogger or someone from an Internet chat room.

Chris Haack, senior analyst at Mintel said
“Young adults are somewhat more likely to turn to the Internet for advice and referrals, but even they listen to their peers first.

So whilst the modern methods of Word of Mouth via social media are rapidly gaining interest, we shouldn't forget how powerful human-to-human contact is.

Tuesday, June 16, 2009

Do you have your Facebook vanity URL yet?

This weekend Facebook started accepting requests for personalised/vanity URLs. This allows a user to add their name to the end of the Facebook URL to allow them to be found directly (e.g. Its thought that this feature is the next step along Facebook's plan to become more Twitter-like.

However, it is also possible to set up a vanity URL for a company group / page if you have more than 1000 fans.

Have you got yours yet?

The way to obtain yours is to go to and register the one most suitable that is still available.

Friday, June 12, 2009

Ignore social media at your peril

Brand Republic today have a nice little article on how some companies are still shying away from Social Media.

Whilst it seems quite strange (to those of us that use & work around the online social space) that some organisations would still chose not to venture into this area... we still have to remember that we are (including our clients) still all relatively early adopters in understanding and using social media for business purposes.

Thursday, June 11, 2009

Measuring online friendships

As part of my ongoing facination with the Corporate Social Graph and its personal equivalent, I've been researching the range of online friendships a person can have (with the aim of seeing if this matches the organisation ones).

After reading the work of Mike Arauz on his 'Spectrum of friendship', I'm tempted to suggest that the range he gives may be similar to the 'friendship' customers have for companies.
Here's how I think it works (and the difference):

Passive Interest:
A person is aware of a company and has visited the website

Active Interest:
They have been to the website several times and interacted with it (e.g. engaged with the content, bought something, been encouraged to do something in an offline channel, etc.)

An individaul has linked to the company website (e.g. via Twitter) or joined a group (e.g. become a fan of them on Facebook)

Public Dialogue AND Advocacy:
I've participated online with or about the organisation (e.g. posted a product review, sent a page/link to friend, contributed to a discussion forum, etc.)

Now here's where I get stuck. I can't actually make up my mind if this is a capital investment (e.g. stocks & shares), an emotional investment (in that case its mixed in with Public Dialogue and Advocacy) or another....
Any thoughts?

Wednesday, June 10, 2009

Turn your site map upside down

We've been working with a client on redeveloping their website from its present incarnation. This current site has a homepage with an introduction animation and some navigation. This in-turn leads you to further pages (with even more under that).

Creating a site map of the pages you get a typical tree structure, with the homepage at the top and all the content on the lower 'branches'.

However, does this actually meet the needs of the orgainsation's (potential and existing) customers and search engines?

Customers want instant information about the organisation. They want to know some of the stuff on the lower levels and don't necessarily want to have to forrage for it through the navigation to find it.

Search engines also want content to spider and understand the site. The more this content is relevant and updated, the more likely the spiders are to return.

This therefore means exposing the content as quickly and effectively as possible and dispensing with conventional information hierarchy... or in other words turning your site map upside down! Content rightly therefore becomes the empowering factor.

When mentioning this to an Information Architect friend of mine he did questions whether this would necessarily work for all sites, especially those that have significant content and functionality.
However, is this not what the BBC news homepage and other such resources try to do?

Friday, June 5, 2009

The future of search?

For the last few weeks there has been a lot said (both positively & negatively) about the new Wolfram Alpha service, a 'computational knowledge engine from egghead Stephen Wolfram.

Initally labelled a 'Google Killer' it is nothing of the sort. What Google does - very well - is make it easy to search through as much of the world wide web as possible for specific search terms. What Wolfram Alpha does is make information computable. But what does that actually mean?

It means that Woolfram Alpha is building up resources of data that can have calculations run against it. This means that whilst Google can tell you every single page it has found where the number 1970 appears (, Wolfram Alpha will recognise it as; an integer, a year, an even number, etc.)

However, Google can also do basic mathematics (e.g. if we type 1970 - 1960 into both, they give the correct value of 10), but will struggle when things get more complex (e.g. typing 1970-1960x into WA will actually plot you the value of 'x'

So is this a cuase for concern for Google? Well not really, despite there being a lot made of the alledged rivalry between the two) as Google has its own version of Wolfram Alpha up its sleeve in the form of Google Squared, a product from its labs project that it showed off last month.

Interesting note:
If you type in 'Google Squared' into Wolfram Alpha, rather than get a long mathematical answer to a very large number multiplied by itself, you get the message:

"Wolfram Alpha isn't sure what to do with your input."
Ooooh... Nice touch!

Thursday, June 4, 2009

Tweet this!

We're currently investigating for a couple of clients the best way for a user to post a Tweet via a link or button on their website .

I've come to the conclusion that a simple 'Tweet This' button can do this by posting an automatically generated update via a user'sr Twitter account, removing the need for them to type the whole message.

What benefit can this provide?

Well, it could help promote news and updates on you site, by making it easier for users to tell their friends what they are reading or find interesting.

Click on the link below to see what I mean:
[Post to Twitter]

Wednesday, June 3, 2009

Media trust, why newspapers are still worthy

Something that may suprise a few of you... newspapers are still a trusted source of information

The recent eMarketer survey on media trust ( found that a surprisingly high number of people trust the news. But the more suprising finding is that online news scores higher than traditional newspapers in a lot of countries including us here in the UK!
The survey found that online news is trusted in the UK by 40% of those asked, compared with 23% trusting their paper.

Is this a false trust in modern digital news or a cynical perspective of our current celebrity & scandal - filled broadsheets & tabloids?