Friday, April 29, 2011

Managing a Tweetup in Ealing

Last week the Ealing Tweetup took place at the Rose and Crown pub (!/roseandcrowneal)in South Ealing. This was the first one organised by myself, helpfully assisted by several other Ealing Twitter users (thanks guys and girls).

Everyone is welcome to these events, even non Twitter users, and the night is a light-hearted meeting of local people all connected by their use of Twitter.

Here's a video that was kindly made of the event.

Thursday, April 28, 2011

Using social media at conferences

My friend Mark Hillary yesterday wrote an article for Computer Weekly that raised an interesting point about the measurement of social media and in particular how not to use it at an event (e.g. by running a competition based purely on the number of times a particular hashtag was used by the same person).

I've often mentioned that quantity is not the same a quality when Social Media & platforms are concerned and to measure your activity purely in this quantitative way is like
judging the best driver of a car race by how loud their engine is.
But there are other ways of using modern communication technologies at events that can make a difference. These include:

  1. Monitoring mentions of the hashtag to give instant feedback to vendors & participants 
  2. Creating a dialogue with attendees who do tweet at the event (either during or afterward for feedback)
  3. Sending out digital vouchers to those who ‘check-in’ whilst at the venue This may be to encourage them to participate in an activity or engage in a specific way (e.g. come to this stand / presentation for the latest information on...)
Hopefully conference organisers will learn how to use the digital 'back channels' such as Twitter to understand more about their attendees. They way even find there is additional value created by engaging with them once they have left the event....

Tuesday, April 26, 2011

Twitter and eCommerce - tread carefully

The worlds of Social Media and eCommerce are moving closer and closer all the time. The combination of these two into Social Commerce, as it is now known, is the next ‘big thing’ to happen to both.

eCommerce is all about selling your products and services online. Social Media, via platforms such as Facebook and Twitter, allows companies to engage with an online audience to create a dialogue (which builds an attachment to brands, hopefully creating more loyal customers). You can therefore see that combining these two could have a positive effect.... but just how?

Twitter, the 140 character micro-blogging platform is now well known as a mini broadcast & listening channel. It has seen terrific growth in the last few years, boosted in its adoption by PR & Marketing types for business-to-consumer (B2C) as well as business to business (B2B) communications. I think it can legitimately claim to be a mainstream comms channel as 65% of the largest international companies now have active Twitter accounts.

If your organisation hasn’t already set up an account, then you should do this immediately (at least to protect yourself from Social Media Brandjacking). And if you have not started to issue your news and press releases to your online followers, then you are still way behind the adoption curve on this one. Twitter in now also used by more and more companies as a platform for: customer service, research & development (crowdsourcing), recruitment and many other things.

However let me be clear…. most companies should never set-up a Twitter account thinking it will directly increase sales revenue. And if you are building a Social Media Return-on-investment (ROI) model purely on this premise, then you need all the luck you can get!

Monday, April 25, 2011

Do you still need both a website and a Facebook page?

A friend of mine has a great little comedy club website on which he sells tickets for each of his shows ( –yes, we did build it for him!. He also has a Facebook presence where he uploads the same contentl as the site (without the transactional capability). We’ve been discussing over the last few months whether it is right to move his eCommerce website to just a Facebook page that has the same functionality. This potential move would save on the management of two online properties by recreating the ability to sell tickets via PayPal and then redirecting the current domain to the Facebook URL.

The discussions we’ve had really hinges around whether a Facebook page/site would provide the same comprehensive offer to all customers that the website would. And here’s the important point… whilst Facebook has now become a huge platform for brands to interact and engage with their followers, it doesn’t have every Internet user as a member…

So while Facebook is becoming (or has become, depending upon your view) the biggest relationship marketing tool for brand, you must consider your entire audience and not just the majority. So if you have only a small percentage of your target audience (e.g. 10%) not using Facebook, then you’ve not only got to keep your social media platform presence going, but also your website.

But consider the future. What happens when not just 90% of your target audience is on Facebook, but 99%, or even 99.9%? Doesn’t that make it a more compelling argument to only use just one online presence?

Tuesday, April 19, 2011

How is Google helping Google Analytics users with site speed?

Back onto the subject I blogged about yesterday of webpage performance speed, here's Matt Cutts of Google explaining that "site speed is not a huge factor in Google rankings" but that there are a number of tools to help website owners to improve their positions in the popular search engine.

One of the most useful suggestions here is to use Google's Asynchronous analytics code to track usage on your site.

Monday, April 18, 2011

Website Performance – Are you doing enough?

If you’ve read my earlier postings on the beneficial effects that webpage performance improvements can have on SEO (and this recent video where I also give a basic explanation of the eCommerce implications), then you will know I’m pretty keen on the subject of website performance optimisation. This perspective is all part of my overall view that a company’s website needs to work as hard as possible and at all times.

In my opinion, minimising the time that content takes to appear on the average user’s browser (or range of browsers) should have the same sort of priority as reducing call waiting times in a customer services centre or ensuring diners are quickly seated at a restaurant. In all three of these cases, a faster time to deliver the service is what matters.

Speed counts… and in the case of a site that transacts, speed can have a real impact on the bottom line.

So what’s a fast page response time and what’s a slow one? The complex answer to this question is “its complex”, but luckily the simple answer is “it’s simple, there are several online sources to help you”. Including: This is the first place I would visit to measure the speed of your website pages. The performance from Google is scored and suggestions given to improve your page speed in: high, medium & low priority (as well as other best practice recommendations). For example the homepage of gets a score of 85/100 Note: You can currently only use this site to measure one page at a time. It is not possible (as far as I am aware) to record a series of actions.... such as a user’s typical transaction process through your eCommerce site.

So don't dismiss the subject of website performance. You may find it could mean the difference between a good website and great one.

Thursday, April 14, 2011

Looking for a CEO for a start-up, interested?

So here’s the situation….
A friend and I have come up with a great idea for a new online business. We’ve worked out how we’re going to develop and market it to grow customers. We’ve planned the site mechanic, the domain & brand and have initial agreements with key suppliers.
Basically, we are confident it’s a winner – but don’t have the time to deliver it!
It’s not the first site to deliver this functionality (someone has just launched a similar idea recently) , but given our contacts and expertise, we think we can leap over the only competition and create something of considerable value.
We are therefore looking for a CEO to help deliver the site, as we don’t want the opportunity to go to waste or watch someone play in this market which we know we could dominate.
So here’s the challenge…

  • Are you an experienced & commercial person with the ability to set-up and run a business-to-business online proposition?

  • Are you free for the next 3 months to help deliver the solution (with obvious assistance from the two founders)

  • Would you be happy (and able) to take lieu of payment in return for a generous share of the business?


Wednesday, April 13, 2011

The future is already here

The future of anything we predict will be wrong, as there will always be further intricacies and differences over time that nobody will have foreseen (or else we'd all be driving around in hover cars several years ago and other such stuff). However, that doesn't stop: fiction writers, astrologists, weathermen and bloggers from forecasting what they believe will happen in the future. If you've attended a recent presentation given by me, you will see I regularly use a quote from the popular Science Fiction writer William Gibson, author of the classic novel Neuromancer that first used the term 'cyberspace'. Although he's great at painting a rich vision of the future, my favourite quote of his is:
The future is here. It's just not widely distributed yet. [source]
The rapid rate of change in both society and technology (perhaps these two go hand-in?) now means that the future isn’t the far-off sci-fi future we had in 60’s, 70’s and even 1980’s TV programmes…. Technological change means the future is only one step away. And perhaps any notion of cyberspace (AKA the Internet) as a separate place to go to, rather than something that now overlays our reality and connects 2 billion of the World’s citizens, is now outdated. Any future we now predict should really be based on the always-informed inter-connected world of today and an acceptance that the next quantum leap is only a few years, days or even weeks away. But to give equal weight to the second part of Mr Gibson’s quote, the adoption of technology (and indeed social change) is not equal across the globe. Internet access may be almost a basic human right for those of us living in the First World, but we should consider ourselves lucky each time we flick on the switch to our PC, laptop or smartphone. The ‘developed’ world has almost unconstrained access to the web, whereas the information ‘have-nots’ are also most likely the health, food and medicine ‘have-nots’ as well. Perhaps the real science fiction is that we will manage to: feed, clothe and provide equal rights to everyone…..

Tuesday, April 12, 2011

Digital marketing in Middle East and North Africa? Don't forget email

There’s no doubt that the revolutionary Zeitgeist is having an effect in The Middle East and North Africa. What started off with a Tunisian street trader setting himself on fire has now spread across the Arab world.

At the same time, there is a social media revolution going on, fuelled by the proliferation of social networks such as Facebook and their availability by mobile devices such as mobile phones.

It is therefore very timely that eConsultancy have just released their latest report on “The State of Digital in the Middle East and North Africa”. This report looks at the relative levels of spending across the range of marketing channels in the region this year. It then compares online with offline budgets and looks at the planned investment on different types of marketing technology.

I’ll not go into too much detail here (as you should buy the report if you want to read it), but for me the most interesting information was not the adoption and use of social media as a channel for marketing…. But that
email is the most popular activity online for consumers in the Middle East
Sure, marketers are using external social media sites such as Facebook and Twitter, plus on-site functionality such as forums, ratings & reviews and blogs…. But more surprisingly for me is the news that a thirty year old technology is still cutting it in the MENA digital landscape. That's definitely something to consider if you have (or are planning on having) clients in this part of the World!

Monday, April 11, 2011

Watch out, watch out, the Social Media Gurus are about

My post last week on how anyone can be a Social Media Expert got a fair amount of attention (it was one of my most visited blog articles so far). However, I realised after writing it, that I had missed out the other title that these self-promoting social media individuals give themselves.... gurus.

Yes, you only have to sit in a few industry seminars or supplier presentations to know the Social Media Guru’s are in town, and they are here to sell you their wonderful wares and services. They all seem to have appeared overnight, to not only tell us about ‘best practice’ and ‘industry leading examples’, but also to publicly state that they have “been into social media for years” and “have always worked in social media”.

They cite examples such as:
  1. Creating forums on websites
    (didn’t we already have newsgroups and bulletin boards back in the 90’s? I guess these were a little too nerdy for these ‘guru’ types)
  2. Building websites for years that have linked to social media
    (putting a hyperlink from your profile to your MySpace account in 2005 doesn’t make you an expert!)
  3. Working in ‘engaging’ media
    (but being a runner for a shopping channel five years ago isn’t exactly a great expertise needed to run a blogger outreach programme now is it?)
Perhaps there needs to be a qualification for these people to pass. At the very least there needs to be list of things to check before you even consider the services of these people…..

Friday, April 8, 2011

Now anyone can be a Social Media Expert

Those of you who follow me on Twitter will know that yesterday I had a bit of a rant about an email for the upcoming Internet World Expo:!/haydens30/status/55941006662713345!/haydens30/status/55941454043947008
The email is here and it has the amazing claim:
Social Media tuition from Facebook and LinkedIn... Become an expert in just 1 day
Now last year you may have read my post where I mentioned that I saw the potential for a new Internet bubble to arise.

Back nine months ago you suddenly had the appearance of a number of agencies and individuals all claiming to provide Social Media services (usually after they’d all read the same case studies, etc.). Yet back then there was little client demand and it was clear the market stood a good chance of imploding upon itself.
Well, three quarters of a year later the dynamics of the market are now very different.
What’s changed? Well…
  1. Clients now have a demand for Social Media (and money to spend)
  2. The Social Media Agency market has matured (a little)
  3. Traditional agencies have moved to adopt Social

However, the success and popularity of Social Media as a discipline now comes with another problem…. The appearance of the Social Media Expert and the desire for everyone to become one overnight.

And quite frankly, Internet World Expo haven't helped the matter!

Thursday, April 7, 2011

When is a review not a review?

This was the subject of a discussion I had with a prospective client recently. It focused on insincere comments placed about individual products on websites, primarily ecommerce ones.
Surely the primary purpose of a product review is to allow someone to provide genuine feedback of ‘Product x’ so that it can help others to make a buying decision about it? Each review can be positive, negative or anywhere in between…. and displaying it not only shows a company’s transparency and honesty about its products, but can also inform the business of: customer satisfaction, longer-term usage, manufacturing quality and other useful information. (It can also have a secondary purpose of weighting product recommendations back to the reviewer in the future based upon their scoring – e.g. star rating).

It is not there (as examples) to:
1. insult the seller/owner/manufacturer
2. show off to others how extensive your collection or knowledge of ‘product x’ is
3. attack other reviewers of the product

However, there can be the rare occasion when providing an inaccurate view has its benefits:

Wednesday, April 6, 2011

The customer now has a voice

It used to be the phrase that happy customers told 2 people, but unhappy customers told 10.  Now, the lone customer with an opinion has all the channels they need to combine their opinions with other like-minded individuals across the globe.... and in new and exciting ways. Complaining 2.0 has arrived.

Furthermore, with blogs and other commenting sites now providing a free and perpetual record of actions and thoughts, the negative actions of companies don’t just fade away overnight….they linger around for anyone to subsequently find (just type “Dell Hell” into Google to see how a groundswell of opinion changed one PC makers approach to Social Media several years back).

So what do you do when your customer has a voice? Listen.

Tuning in to what your audience is saying isn't that difficult. There are even a number of free tools to help you listen , from basic notifications such as Google Alerts through to tools such as Social Mention and Google Realtime Search

There really is no excuse now for listening to the online customer voice.