Posts about: social media

The Death of SEO

4 December 2014
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That’s it. Shut the doors, disconnect the phone. Prevent the dog from barking with a rubber chicken.*

For SEO is dead and we don’t have jobs any longer. Damn.

At least that’s what some people will tell you, and as others ask whether this is indeed true, search engine optimisers, web developers and business owners must learn to separate the wheat from the chaff; fact from fiction. SEO; the very mention of these three letters is enough to turn some potential customers’ and digital industry sceptics’ stomaches. ‘But isn’t SEO dead and gone?’ you might have heard them ask, quickly qualified with ‘Anyway, it’s all some kind of dark art, isn’t it?’.

Having sat and thought about these two questions a great deal (likely when I should have been doing something more productive and sociable, such as watching Game of Thrones) I’ve come to the conclusion that the answer to both is ‘no’. Easy, right off to the pub.

Oh, you want proof…

 

You Don’t Know What You Don’t Know

This is one of the greatest of all life lessons and I’d like to thank my dad for it (cheers, Pete). It can be read a couple of ways, but what it boils down to is the fact that you can’t know everything and that this is fine. Don’t panic, this doesn’t mean you’re stupid. What it does mean is that some people are very good at some things. If your boiler breaks down, then unless you’re a plumber, you’re unlikely to know a) what’s wrong with it and b) how to rectify the problem. Plumbers can fix boilers. Great! In exactly the same way (but with cheaper call out charges) SEOs know how to best ‘fix’ a website to give it the best chance of success. Yes, you can certainly sit and learn SEO/plumbing/rocket science but these things take time, time perhaps better spent doing what you want, what you’re good at and what pays the bills. Aged 14 I bought a car. Armed with a Haynes manual and thinking I knew far more than I really did I quickly dismantled that car. It took me nearly 4 years to reassemble it.

 

SEO: The Dark Art

The simple fact of the matter is that search engine optimisation is not a dark art at all. This is a myth invented by the less-honest side of the digital industry in an attempt to part non web-savvy folk from their cash. Technical? Yes; SEO is a ‘thing’ still. It’s just not a thing that requires mythicising. Understanding and applying SEO does require some effort, of course, and if you’re already creating great content then you’re halfway there. It’s in knowing how to leverage that content and your site to pull in the hits that an SEO-er can help.

 

Content is King

Surely my website will be fine as long as I just keep it updated with good content though? To a degree, yes. But some businesses don’t even do this and of the ones that do very few of them go on to push out content in a way that attracts those two holy commodities – traffic and links. Writing great content is only the beginning, much in the same way that building a super-gucci site is only a small fraction of the overall battle for traffic and sales. SEO today is as much about engagement through sharing, promoting, recommending and networking. It’s almost like a more technical extension of traditional marketing and PR.

 

SEO 3.0.2.6

…or whichever spurious version of SEO we’re supposedly on now thanks to here-say and speculation. What I’m trying to say is that search is evolving. This is great because it means that people care and that it’s still a ‘thing’ worthy of our time, money and efforts; it may be that it’s just not quite as ‘cloak and dagger’ as it was once perceived to be. As stated above, a great deal of SEO groundwork is being done already by people creating content and undertaking more traditional PR and marketing activities – they just don’t know it. SEO has always been about the user, the reader, the visitor, and this ‘new’ version of SEO reflects that; it’s simply the best, most sociable, trustworthy, relationship-building way of creating and sharing content. You might even argue that actually doing things in the real, tangible world; engaging people in social, sharable activities is now as much a part of SEO as calibrating your .htaccess file or getting your site structure right.

 

Here’s One I Made Earlier…

An example of this ‘doing’ side of SEO can be seen in the Kendal Mountain Festival’s approach. If you’ve never come across it before ‘Kendal’ is the largest outdoors culture festival in the world, beating Banff in Canada in its size and scope. It’s a truly huge event and generates vast quantities of extremely high quality content – both in terms of film submissions, art, literature and workshops, and in the information that is generated on its website and social media. But simply generating content on its own isn’t enough. In order to maximise traffic, shares and links back to the site ‘Kendal’ runs competitions, broadcasts video reports, pushes press releases to local and national news, uses social media display screens to encourage visitors to interact, puts on races and invites people to watch giant screens in the middle of the high street…and this is just the beginning!

 

The Top Ten Musts of SEO

If you’re still not convinced that SEO is alive and kicking – albeit in an evolved state by comparison to the keyword-stuffing, black hat, link buying days of yore – then try these hints and tips out for yourself, and don’t forget to monitor the changes in SERP ranking and traffic!

  1. Get a Google account – tie together Analytics, Webmaster Tools, My Business and Google+ under a single user name (preferably not a personal account).
  2. Submit an .xml Sitemap in Webmaster Tools, Bing etc. and verify the top level domain and subdomain(s).
  3. Make your metadata brief and succinct. Fill in your Title tags, meta descriptions, alt tags.
  4. Use a straightforward, hierarchical site and URL structure. So rather than www.mydomain.org/2Thdnn65.php?post=jdnf&action=edit use actual human words which humans (and search engines) will understand, for example: www.mydomain.org/videos/video1.
  5. UX. Saaay whaaat? Short for ‘User experience’, this refers to the look, feel and navigation of your site. Will users understand the layout and architecture? Can fonts be read easily? Are images blurred and mis-sized?
  6. Format your copy. Use header tags such as <h1>, <h2> etc. to provide structure to your work. Break it into easy-to-read chunks. Hey, even throw in some fancy styling such as <em>, <li> and <strong> to really add some zing :-?
  7. Do good stuff. Write great copy; create engaging content that attracts users and helps them to learn, enjoy and spread the word about how great your site is. You need links!
  8. Share. Don’t be shy. Use social media to tell the world what and where your content is and link your content throughout and back to your site. Network, build relationships and trust. Be a leader in your field.
  9. Name your .pdf, .jpg, .png etc. files with a descriptive title. Don’t use generic file names like 12345.jpeg.
  10. Monitor your site’s performance and continue to build and improve. Check for broken links with 404 errors, html and server errors, look at crawl stats and how users find your site…  Your website is often the first place a potential customer/reader/user will come to before contacting you – make sure it reflects your brand and upholds your standards.

 

James Swann is an SEO, copywriter, ‘social’ guy, blogger and general website-building nuisance at outsrc.co.uk, Kendal – a web design and development agency specialising in websites and digital for the outdoor industry. He enjoys tea, cake, riding bikes up and down mountains and being nerdy about the web. You can follow him @jamespswann on the Twittertron.

*Apologies to W.H. Auden for the ridiculous parody of his great work, Stop all the clocks.

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Social Media Marketing for Brands

27 November 2014
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I’ll begin by introducing myself, my name is Wes Clarke and I’m a Senior Account Executive at an Advertising and Marketing agency called C21 Creative Communications based in Altrincham, South Manchester. I’m also responsible for our social media accounts and assist our clients with their social media and SEO needs.

Brands of all shapes and sizes can be found in the world of social media.

I thought I’d share a few things I particularly like about social media as a marketing tool and some examples of brands ‘doing’ social media well!

Cheap

It’s free to create accounts and post content. The only cost is time and the price of creating the content to post. A brand or individual can reach more people through a simple tweet than it can through expensive advertising in the media. Ellen DeGeneres’ ‘most re-tweeted’ tweet is currently at 3,370,159 re-tweets with over 2 million favourites to boot! That’s a boost for Ellen DeGeneres’ brand, The Oscars ceremony itself, not to mention the Samsung phone Ellen used to take the photo.

Another great example of maximum exposure for minimal cost was during the Super Bowl 2013. During a 30 minute power cut in the Superdome, Oreo’s marketing department instantly saw an opportunity. They knocked up a simple ad joking with their 472k Twitter followers, ‘You can still dunk in the dark’. This simple post picked up 10,000 re-tweets within the hour, as well as an abundance of praise and positive PR from bloggers and media outlets who claimed Oreo had ‘won the night’. So whilst other brands had spent millions on trying to better each other’s adverts and buying time slots in the coveted commercial breaks, Oreo made sure they were ready to react to any event in real time and use their creativity to steal the limelight for next to no cost! Which takes me nicely to my next point…

Responsive

The beauty of Facebook and Twitter is that people use these whilst they are watching television at home, usually communicating with their friends about how funny Cheryl Cole’s dress looks or Steven Gerrard slipping up. This presents brands with a great opportunity to engage with fans or potential customers about what they are interested in at that exact moment. Cadburys took their chance to talk about that hat Pharrell wore to the Brits earlier this year, with a nice ‘hats off’ message. When people see these kinds of timely posts from brands, they are more inclined to share or engage with them as content is so relevant. It also humanises a brand to its audience, it becomes another friend in your timeline watching and laughing at the same things as you.

Funny

The internet can be a very funny place. From memes in comment sections to viral videos, to your friend on Facebook sharing their latest calamity, its nice to come home at the end of the day and be made to smile. Their are some brands who capitalise on this aspect of our social media desire. Paddy Power spring to mind when it comes to using humour in their social media strategy. From live tweeting a hilarious ‘wrong number’ text conversion with an unknowing Steve, to convincing the world they had chopped down some of the Amazon Rainforest for a World Cup ad, they are constantly proving they ‘get’ their audience’s sense of humour. I suppose that is the real key for any brands using social media, knowing and understanding your audience. ‘Getting’ your audience will enable your communications to cut through, in a world where everybody is fighting to be heard.

Thanks for reading my thoughts, at the very least I hope some of the examples I’ve shared have made you smile!

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Why I chose the Search & Social Media Marketing Course

27 November 2014
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SSMM – Search & Social Media Marketing

 

Hmmm… So, which course?  These were my initial thoughts.  Do I do a long distance course or do I stay close to home and come to the building.  By opting for the SSMM (Search and Social Media Marketing) at Media City, I now know, I made the perfect choice.

 

salford university media city

University of Salford Campus – Media City

 

It had all the aspects that I was hoping for and none of the ones I feared.  I didn’t want to just do ‘a course on seo and social media’… I wanted the course that would add value to my skillset.

 

When you leave University and/or Further/Higher Education, the question usually is… “What experience do you have?”… This is usually followed by an answer consisting of erms, buts and opportunity.  In other words, doing your best to prove you are willing to learn.

 

For probably only the second time in my life, I found myself on the other side of the argument.  As, somewhat fortuitously and serendipitously I found myself knowing a lot about SEO, social media and digital marketing, but didn’t have the academic or professional qualifications or accreditations to back up my experience or prove what I knew.  So it was important on my part that I showed evidence of Continued Professional Development (CPD).

 

I work in the charity and voluntary sector, so it is vital to spend the limited resources we have in the most productive, efficient and effective way possible.   This just happened to involve social media, website building, search engine optimisation and other aspects of digital marketing.  This is because, these activities can be done on a very limited budget; the challenge being, knowing what to do and having the time to invest.

 

So began my journey into the world of social media, website building and SEO.  It started off as a hobby with the website/organisation I founded called, Positive About MS (www.positiveaboutms.com) and it’s social media following which now reaches out to about 10,000 supporters!  Subsequently I developed a website called, The Luggie Scooter (www.theluggie.com), which features on the first page of Google and in some cases features in the coveted Golden Triangle section of Google on page1!

 

So you can see SSMM was something I fell into and something I just happened to enjoy too, not realising at the time it would become Web 2.0.

 

However, all this experience didn’t give me what I needed, which was a way to quantify what I know and give me a recognised professional accreditation and/or qualification.

 

The Course

 

Right from the first week of the course I liked what I saw.  From the email communication prior to arrival, to the structure and general feel of the class.  It was just what I hoped it would be.  There was a structure to the whole course and it was clear what the course would give you.  I thought it would be more formal and not as comfortable, but I was pleasantly surprised.   I really liked the layout, atmosphere and the general way of teaching.

 

One of the reasons I opted for the course, was the opportunity of interaction with the course leader (Alex Fenton @AlexFenton) and the chance to ask questions in person.  This also exceeded my expectations.  You could speak in person, via social media, on private linkedin groups or by email.  It gave you further reassurance that you weren’t just going to be given course notes with a presentation.

 

Guest Speakers

 

The format of giving you a presentation on the subject matter, followed by a talk and Q&A session from an industry professional worked really well and I got more than I expected from it.  We got the opportunity to hear from the likes of Phil Morgan (@PhilipMorgan) & Tom Mason (@totmac) from Delineo (@Delineo), Aisha Choudhry (@AishaZulu) from Fast Web Media (@FastWebMedia),  and the UK’s Number 1 best selling small biz marketing author; Dee Blick – pictured (@DeeBlick) of www.themarketinggym.org.

 

dee blick pic

Dee Blick – Guest Speaker

 

 

I also felt the course was well pitched and did exactly what it said on the tin!  Initially I was apprehensive that parts maybe too basic or complex, however this was not the case and it was helpful that Alex Fenton would sometimes spend more time on certain subject areas than others, based on the group and what we needed.

 

It was never a case of times up and that’s it, you got a chance to review what we’ve already discussed and check your understanding.

 

One of the many revelations to me personally was the benefits and features of using Google Drive, something I was neither keen nor found necessary to use before I went on the course.  Google Drive allowed you to revisit slides and talks from previous weeks and made it very easy to review course notes.

 

I found it very refreshing and useful that information on the course and was freely shared by Alex, and that was what I had hoped for.  If there was something you were not sure on, there was always the opportunity to revisit it out of class time, with informal group sessions.

 

Overall, this course has filled in those missing gaps from my own learning’s and has also introduced me to industry terms and given me a chance to quantify what I already knew, by putting names and phrases to the processes I was practicing.

 

Furthermore it has opened up my eyes more to the idea of Web 2.0 and the importance of Digital Marketing.

 

Hopefully, this has helped you regarding your professional development course choice.  Feel free to share this post or share your views, I am @mrkazlaljee on twitter and you can use the hastag #ssmmUoS

 

More information & booking details for the Search & Social Media Marketing Course  &  Salford University location at Media City UK – Video

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Social Media Marketing for the Haters.

27 November 2014
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Tapping the Social Media apps on my phone has become more of a habit than a conscious decision. Whether it’s to check out the persistent notifications for a picture I clicked ‘like’ on days ago; or to answer a private group message about a friend’s birthday meal. I no longer need to simply wonder how an old friend is doing, as their profile picture and status updates will tell the story of their relationships, hobbies and interests. Status updates can be akin to a diary extract; often telling us a lot more than we care to know.

Everything is Good by David Shrigley

Everything is Good by David Shrigley

Pew Internet’s research has shown that, “As of January 2014, 74% of online adults use social networking sites.” Whilst we live our private lives in the public eye, it’s important to consider that a respective new employer is able to scope us out before that life changing job interview. They will have already have made an opinion based on our online public persona. Perhaps due to this ‘social’ nature of Social Media, some companies aren’t taking it seriously enough and are reluctant to use it.

If you choose to use it to your advantage, you could be just one social media campaign away from beating your competitor to the number one spot in Google rankings. You will be better connected to your customer base, promoting your business to a wider audience all whilst being inspired and quite possibly entertained.

Choose Life, choose a Social Media platform

Consider the strengths within your company and use them to your advantage, but firstly…

  • Who are your target audience?
  • What’s your unique selling point?
  • What objective are you trying to achieve?

Once you have established all of the above, you will be able to determine the correct Social Media platforms to use. Here are some of the usual suspects:

  • Facebook

Facebook is still, far and away, the most popular social media platform. According to Statista.com, ‘As of the third quarter of 2014, Facebook had 1.35 billion monthly active users’.  It speaks volumes really. You can set up your company and wait for the ‘likes’ to come in, or if you have the capital, use pay per click adverts that work on pay per interaction rather than pay per impression. This is a real advantage over some of the more traditional online advertising techniques, where Return on Investment (ROI) can be low.

  • Twitter

Despite being, arguably, the second-most recognized platform out there, Twitter is fourth in usage. The ultimate, real-time conversational micro-blogging platform; perfect if you like to keep your posts short, sweet and less than 140 characters.

  • Instagram

If you are an ‘image heavy’ company this is an excellent medium to use. It’s fun, requires little management, just maintain a good level of high quality images.

  • Tumblr

Hosting some 188 million blogs, Barack Obama took to the ‘micro-blogging’ platform to discuss issues such as national security, instantly dispelling previous perceptions that the site was little more than a hub for playground discussions between teenageers. Tumblr gives you ‘gofollow’ results, which is SEO GOLD! You can also use Google Analytics to track key metrics.

You can use ALL of the above, or just one, depending on how much time you available to dedicate. If you can spare at least half an hour a day to Social Media, make sure you use the platform that will create the most engagement. You can use a Social Media dashboard, such as Hootsuite to put out the same content  all the platforms at once, you can even schedule a suitable time in the day; reaching your audience in the USA when they are drinking their morning coffee. This will save you from setting your alarm for the middle of the night to send a Tweet.

To rank at the top of Google, you need to have a fresh unique website which is updated on a regular basis. A neglected page will make you drop off the first page on Google faster than you can say, ‘sneezing panda’. Set time aside each week to update the website. Try adding blog posts from guest bloggers, who have their own suitably engaged followers who can link back to your site.

Here’s a stinky statistic for you; according to Mashable, “There are 6.8 billion people on the planet. 5.1 billion of them own a cell phone, but only 4.2 billion own a toothbrush”. This shows how imperative it is to have a mobile friendly website, we are all using our mobiles to view Social Media.

Be a Smarty Pants

One of the many fun things about Social Media is you can be a bit of a smart ass. There are so many things you can do, beyond basic tweeting and using the correct hashtags. Google trends is an excellent way of engaging with your desired audience, this will help to stay on top of trends relating to your business. It will inspire you to write a tweet at the perfect time. The best timed tweet I ever did was for my DJ collective project, Dance Lady Dance, (shameless promo) during the World Cup which got us 52 new followers. Thank you Miley!

Dance Lady Dance July tweet

Albeit, more football fans than music fans followed us…. which swiftly leads me to my next point:

Find the right audience 

Buying Twitter followers, or going on a follow-frenzy, is not going to be beneficial to your company. Locate your audience, who do they follow? This may be your competitor; if so ‘follow’ their followers, they may soon follow you back. Use an appropriate hashtag # that relates to your business and follow the latest followers who are tweeting about related topics. You’ll soon have a relevant audience who are ready to interact with you.

The best Social Media Marketers are creative thinkers who take risks. SEO and Social Media Marketing is ever changing, so there really is no guidebook on how to do this; its trial and error. Youtube hosts countless videos on unsuccessful marketing campaigns. Only the very best campaigns will go viral via Social Media (or ones with cats playing instruments).

You are ready!

Remember that your profile picture and cover photo is the first thing your audience will see, you have about five seconds to win them over, so make it count. Use something that represents your company and what you have to offer; always have a link to your website in your profile.

Follow the steps, keep your content updated and you’ll soon find that people will follow you whenever you go.

Connect with me @louloupembers

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“Inside Rolls-Royce” on Channel 4

8 May 2014
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Inside Rolls-Royce

Rolls-Royce

“Take the best that exists and make it better” 

These were the words of Sir Henry Royce, one half of the Rolls-Royce auto-mobile empire. “Inside Rolls-Royce” is a new documentary on Channel Four which examines what goes on behind the scenes of this exclusive company. It reminds me of a quote from my former head teacher Mrs A.K. Agwu. “Whatever is worth doing, is worth doing well” – one that has stood me in good stead over the years. It has also helped me maintain my resolve to continuously make advancements in every facet of my life.

One of the characteristics of this company is its attention to detail. Perfection or the quest for excellence, comes at a price. Sir Henry Royce’s quote should be mirrored in our attitude to life – relationships, personal development, business and so on. We can always do better, we can always help others advance; we can always contribute positively to a cause in our community.

I write this to emphasize – not the glitz and glamour – but the passion for continuous improvement that the Rolls-Royce brand embodies; which I think is far more important. You’ll find that as you adopt this ethos of continually improving (kaizen), in manageable ‘chunks’, you’ll begin to see noticeable differences in your life. Interestingly, you may also unwittingly ‘attract’ advancement in other aspects of your life as well; areas where you may have previously overlooked.

Thinking Big  à la Rolls-Royce

At the Dubai Motor Show in 2009 – which I attended, I remember being almost in awe of the vehicles on display. China, the US and the Middle East respectively, are the company’s largest buyers. Abu Dhabi now boasts the world’s biggest dealership.

We can all dream and think big just like this duo must have done. Why settle for the sky when there are stars and galaxies to explore? It’s a little more hard work initially, but soon becomes second-nature like everything else that you soon get used to. Towards the end of the Inside Rolls-Royce documentary, a reporter interviews a potential customer about to go for a spin; “… have you driven one before?” Man: “I own 7″. The average Rolls-Royce customer already has 7 other cars, so he definitely picked the wrong guy :)

Form Symbiotic Partnerships Just Like Mr Charles Rolls and Sir Henry Royce Did

I now live in the city where Rolls-Royce first started and was at the Midland Hotel not too long ago, where Charles Stewart Rolls and Sir Henry Patrick Royce met 110 years ago (May 4th 1904) to form the partnership which birthed the Rolls-Royce empire two years later. A relationship that wouldn’t have lasted very long had they not needed each other’s expertise.

A visual history of Rolls-Royce can be found at Manchester’s Museum of Science and Industry (MOSI), which I visited with my family on the day this article was originally published – possibly why I decided to finally finish this blog post four weeks after its first draft; highly recommended: the visit – not my proclivity towards procrastination :)

“Inside Rolls-Royce” was quite revealing and is testament to our innate desire for continuous improvement. This resource  has helped me and thousands of business owners worldwide immensely; check it out and you just might end up inside a Rolls-Royce that you bought with your hard-earned money!

Till my next blog post.

Sotonye Afiesimama

 

 

 

 

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Social Media – it’s great to be sociable !

8 May 2014
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Where do you turn when your business slows down or reaches a point where it stops growing? Well that is the question I asked myself, working on an organic vineyard in the beautiful south west of France and a in a wine shop in Hale, a few months ago. Well grab a glass of wine, sit back and look no further guys, organic marketing and social media are the answer.

Nowadays, most social businesses don’t use their capacity to their advantage. It’s easy to employ a marketing company, spend a lot of money, and not see any results. A friend of mine has a successful optical instruments online business and decided to outsource his Google ads campaign to a marketing company. After 6 months of paying high management fees he decided to end it and he saw no difference in his sales or website visits. This is why I went out there and studied SEO at the University of Salford as you are never better served then by yourself.

Maybe now is the time to mention that this blog is written by a glamorous blonde, and so will not be full of complicated words and non-understandable long statements about how you can go in the back end of your website and change every small details and correct mistakes. Time to employ a descent IT professional. However, there are still many things you can do by yourself.

cork social-media

So, to get back to how you can make a massive difference in your business, social media is a great opportunity. You’re probably thinking that I’ve lost the plot, that everyone uses Facebook, Twitter, Linkedin and other social websites; but do you use them the appropriate way? Probably not or you wouldn’t be reading this post.

For a start, pay attention to what happens on the social media. Listen for what social media users are saying about your company, your competitors, and your products, why they love them, why they don’t. Don’t start guessing or thinking you know what people want, because honestly you never know what’s in anyone’s head. You can also find future trending topics, and maybe even spot new markets and products opportunities. Isn’t this great?

Now that you’ve done this, you can start populating your social media content. The great thing is by listening to others, you will now have a better idea of what to post, what will be shared, talked about and even referred to. Be the first to post an interesting and relevant news and gain more customers awareness.

To make your customers connected with your brand you need to engage with them, make them feel they matter to you. The hardest thing is that you might sometimes get negative feedback as you can’t always have happy customers, but the way you deal with them will be crucial for the rest of your social network. Breathe in, stay calm and never step out of place. The customer is –unfortunately- always king.

As you don’t get anything for free these days, social ads is a great way to spend your money. Social ads are those ads that are displayed to users who have friends that are fans of the advertised business; they aren’t excessively expensive and can draw more attention to your business and target a specific part of the population.

After you’ve made so much effort in putting yourself out there don’t forget to measure your success. By doing this every so often, you will be able to see what works and what doesn’t and with time it will become easier to use social media and you will always be the one knowing all the gossip – and hopefully spreading a few- in your industry.

wine social media

I guess you are at least half way into your bottle of wine by now, so as a last note here are a few tips. Have a strategy, plan what you want to post every week or month so you don’t forget to do it. Social content needs to provide value and encourage action, your post isn’t just here to look good but also to be shared. By using social media wisely, your customers will sell your brand for you, and the best is that social media will help your business dominate the first page of Google.

 

 

If you ran out of wine by now, don’t hesitate to have a browse on here http://tour-de-belfort.com (free delivery all over the uk).

Melanie

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Social Media and SMEs – It’s not so scary!

7 May 2014
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Working on a business assistance project for small and medium enterprises we hear time and time again from businesses that they know they need to be using social media but “I’m too old for all that”, “there are so many different sites I don’t know which ones are right for me” or “I’ve given it a go but I can’t see any obvious gains”. As someone who before my current role, has only used social media in a personal capacity, studying on the Search and Social Media Marketing course has made me realise that getting social media right will take some effort but there are definite benefits.

Strategy! Strategy! Strategy! Social Media

You wouldn’t embark on an advertising campaign without having first developed a strategy, the same applies to social media. Ask yourself some key questions. What do you want from it? Who are you trying to target? If you sell plumbing parts then taking hundreds of beautiful pictures of your products and putting them on Pinterest may not be the best use of your time…please feel free to prove me wrong though! CMO.com have published a guide to some of the main social media options. What resources do you have? If you only have limited resources then don’t overstretch yourself. Don’t forget to think long term, just as in traditional business, building up customer relationships is key and social media is a great tool for this. Keeping your followers engaged is essential which is when you need to think about…

Content! Content! Content!

Good quality content is just as important on social media as it is on your website. If you are putting out the same (dull) message over and over again your followers are going to lose interest pretty fast. Rebecca Rae, Head of Social Media at Photolink Creative Group, recommends focusing on three key points when planning your content 1. What they want. 2. What you want. 3. Something new. When all three overlap you will have the perfect piece of content! Creating a bank of content and using social media scheduling tools will definitely help you manage the time you dedicate to social media but don’t forget to be reactive too, use trends and news stories to your advantage but don’t miss the boat (Google Trends is just one of tools that can help you out with this). On the theme of being reactive your customers may use social media to contact you with queries or complaints so don’t lose sight of…

Customer Service! Customer Service! Customer Service!

Social media is in many cases a public forum and any negativity can spread fast! This course has taught me that it is vital to develop a response strategy and ensure that all employees that have access to social media channels are aware of it. Don’t be tempted to just delete negative posts, by responding effectively and in good time you have the opportunity to turn things around.


These are just a few of the things to consider when entering the world of social media marketing and for SMEs it can definitely seem like a daunting prospect but help is out there! Unite with Business is an European Regional Development Fund Project which offers free business support for Small to Medium sized companies within the North West of England. The University of Salford is one of a partnership of six universities who can provide funding for student and graduate internships in SMEs. The project has provided support in a wide range of areas, SEO, social media strategy and content production are particularly popular. For more information go to www.salford.ac.uk/business-school/business-services/unite-with-business. We are also always looking for students and graduates interested in participating, like us on Facebook and follow us on Twitter @SalfordUniUnite.

 

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Secret Book Art: 10 Enchanting Fore-Edge Paintings

4 December 2013
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At Wigan Lane Books we love interesting and unique books of character.

There are types of books that may look normal to the naked eye, but can actually have a hidden secret.

A secret that was only recently rediscovered and popularised by Colleen Theisen at the Special Collections & University Archives at the University of Iowa in the USA.

The secret in question is that a select few books actually contain hidden artworks along the fore-edge of the book.

These fore-edge paintings can only be revealed once the pages of the book have been fully fanned out.

The sides of the book page edges have been painted in gilt, what is unnoticed by the reader is that each separate page has been uniquely painted that forms a picture when fanned. A clamp was used to create the fore-edge paintings.

The clamp holds together the book into the fanned position to make it easier for the artist to paint the picture. When the pages have been released from the clamp, the painting disappears. The for-edge paintings often depict countryside landscapes with characters in the background in various situations.

Here are some examples of fore-edge paintings from the University of Iowa Special Collections and Archives. The first four books are all by Robert Mudie. Each book has a different seasonal theme: autumn, winter, spring and summer.

Autumn


Autumn; or; The causes, appearances, and effects of the seasonal decay and decomposition of nature, 1837. By Robert Mudie.

The above image is from a book that was published in 1837, by Robert Mudie, taken from Colleen Theisen’s original tumblr blog post.


Autumn; or; The causes, appearances, and effects of the seasonal decay and decomposition of nature, 1837. By Robert Mudie. - animated version

Animated version of the same book, also from Colleen Theisen’s blog post.

Winter

Winter by Robert Mudie / Special Collections & University Archives at the University of Iowa

Winter by Robert Mudie / University of Iowa.

Winter by Robert Mudie / Special Collections & University Archives at the University of Iowa

Animated version of the book above.

Spring


Spring by Robert Mudie / Special Collections & University Archives at the University of Iowa

Spring by Robert Mudie / Special Collections & University Archives at the University of Iowa.


Spring by Robert Mudie / Special Collections & University Archives at the University of Iowa

Fore-edge Painting from Zach Stroh on Vimeo

Animated version of the book above.

Summer


Summer by Robert Mudie / Special Collections & University Archives at the University of Iowa

Summer by Robert Mudie / Special Collections & University Archives at the University of Iowa.


Summer by Robert Mudie / Special Collections & University Archives at the University of Iowa

Animated version of the book above.

John T. Beer – Cardiff Rare Books Collection


“John preaching in the Wilderness”:John T. Beer’s illustration on an early 16th century Latin Bible.

“John preaching in the Wilderness”: John T. Beer’s illustration on an early 16th century Latin Bible.


The “open” scene on Fox’s journal. The artist would have fanned the pages and gripped them in a vice before applying the watercolour.

John T. Beer – Open scene on the Fox’s journal.

Boston Public Library Fore-Edge Collection


The People of Orleans Greet Joan of Arc

The People of Orleans Greet Joan of Arc.


The Modern History of Hindustan, by Thomas Maurice, 1802

The Modern History of Hindustan, by Thomas Maurice, 1802.


Stonehenge - The royal kalendar, and court and city register

Stonehenge – The royal kalendar, and court and city register, 1849.


Fore-Edge Frankenstein

Fore-Edge Frankenstein.


About Wigan Lane Books

Wigan Lane Books is an online book store based in the Chorley, UK, specialising in rare books and books of interest.

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Why Digital Marketers Need A Personal Blog Site

28 November 2013
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When you’re responsible for digital marketing for a large company, it can be hard to try out new ideas, which is why you should have a personal blog site to use as a tester.

That way, you can use it to experiment without needing to get things signed-off by senior managers or provide definite ROI, and without waiting for internal IT or external agencies to implement your suggestions.

New Adventures In Hi-Fi

Having your own personal blog site gives you the change to be at the cutting edge of digital marketing, even if it’s harder to get there in your day job.

This is even more important if you are looking for work and don’t have a company site to work on.

You need to prove your skills are up to date and providing results, so where else but on a site of your own?

So , while I’ve been on the Search And Social Media Marketing course, instead of trying out the new things I’ve learned on my company’s website (which is in the process of being redeveloped anyway), I’ve been testing them on my own blog site.

If you don’t already have your own site, here’s some top tips:

  1. Think carefully about what you want to write about
    If you are genuinely passionate about something, it’s a lot easier to motivate yourself to keep the blog updated and the content you write will be more engaging. If you’re writing content that people want to read and you have the enthusiasm about it to work hard promoting it, you’re more likely to succeed. If you can find a niche area, even better.
  2. Get it set up properly
    If you’re serious about running the blog as a tester site, you need to set it up as a hosted site, rather than going for the free option. So if you’re using WordPress, it’s from WordPress.org, not WordPress.com. You should aim to use a hosting company based in the UK rather than the US, to help boost your site’s speed, but obviously check reviews to find out about reliability. If you’re using WordPress, installing plugins like Yoast’s WordPress SEO is basically essential, as is getting Google Analytics and Webmaster Tools set up.
  3. Halloween movie features

  4. Write good, engaging, original content
    Before starting to write, it’s best to try and do some keyword research – using Google Keyword Planner, for example – beforehand to work out who your audience might be, what they might want to get from the article and what keywords and phrases you should include. Before Halloween, I wrote content aimed at people who were trying to decide what horror movies to watch, so I published reviews and features around that theme, fitting in phrases that people would search for, while obviously keeping the content fun and informative to read.
  5. Promote it (with money)!
    There’s two routes to go down.  One is to pay for advertising via Facebook or Google, etc, but given that this is a personal blog, you’ll be spending your own money and aren’t likely to make it back. But it’s still worth having a play with it. You’ll need to set up an AdWords account to use Keyword Planner anyway, and for about £30 you can run a campaign that will bring people to your site and give you an idea of best practice for if you run ‘real’ campaigns at work. I did this on Google Ads and Facebook Ads for my Halloween content, with ads based around helping people decide what to watch, and saw a big upturn in traffic.
  6. Promote it (for free)!
    Social media is your friend here. It’s easy to find your audience on Facebook or Twitter or Google+ or Pinterest with just a bit of research, and then you can use those platforms to build up traffic to your site. Google+ might not seem an obvious one to go for, but it’s becoming increasingly important in SEO terms (setting up Authorship is a must) and there may well be a Community on there that would welcome your content with open arms and clicking fingers.
  7. Link build
    This used to mean lots of grey hat activities, like buying links or signing up to link farms and directories, but these are potentially disastrous nowadays. You need to earn good, authoritative links through promoting your site in the ways mentioned above. Tactics like guest posts can still work, though you might well end up with a ‘no follow’ link, thus denying you link juice, you’ll still get traffic through it. I’ve done contributions to sites like the Huffington Post and BuzzFeed and have had decent levels of traffic coming through both. Using tools like Moz’s OpenSite Explorer will let you know what kind of quality links you’ve got coming through, while Webmaster Tools can help you identify any problems.

Most of all, if you’re doing this for yourself, you need to have fun and not be afraid to experiment. If you learn from your mistakes, it’ll stand you in good stead to get things right the first time when it really counts.

ABOUT JAMES ELLABY

James is Digital Marketing Manager for Manchester Solutions, having previously worked as an online football journalist and charity Communications Officer. He also runs film, TV and music blog New Adventures In Hi-Fi. You can get in touch with him through Twitter, LinkedIn and Google+

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The Power of Social Media in Events Marketing

27 November 2013
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We are all aware that social media plays a key role in marketing and business communications. Through growing up in a generation where everything was discussed online, whether it be homework, love interests or music, it was evident that online social networking had provided the general public with an opportunity to reinvent themselves entirely from behind a computer screen. The new quick and easy method of converting through an instant messenger, uploading photos and finding out information, without having to visit the local library, was revolutionary. Everything became easier. People could communicate with each other from anywhere in the world – and from this, millions of potential customers became accessible.

In the field of events, this created a huge opportunity. The old marketing techniques of sending out press releases and contacting local media was no longer the key to boost your attendants. People were relying on social sites to gain feedback from others in order to consider attending an event. Therefore, once your target audience had been identified, all you had to do is go to the sites where they would typically visit for information – and promote.

Social media had provided the public with a platform to create potential connections before, during and after an event had taken place. It had given potential attendants the opportunity to network, share topics and join discussions, giving the event organizer the chance to monitor these interests and create relevant content in order to involve their audience.

Why did I choose to talk about events marketing?  Because I had seen living proof of the importance of social media after I managed an event myself.

Before I took the Search and Social Media Marketing Professional course, I had graduated from my Music Journalism degree at The University of Huddersfield this year. During my time studying, I had gained experience in various roles outside of university i.e. I had volunteered at an LGBT radio station and worked on a programme of my own, I had written countless music articles and reviews for websites and I had worked as a volunteer Press Officer for an independent record label for almost a year. Sitting in a cold, stone-walled office writing press releases in a leaky old building covered in graffiti near Great Ancoats once a week, dealing with stroppy musicians with no direction, and sorting out drunken old rockers who refuse to pay the entry fee on gig nights, I can honestly say – it was fun while it lasted.

However, during my time working for the label, to mark their two year anniversary I managed and organized an event in the Huddersfield area with a fellow peer from university. During the marketing stage of the event, I managed the Facebook and Twitter accounts to give potential attendants the opportunity to invite others and network with each other, while I would continuously post content and updates relevant to the event. Through this, we were acknowledged by students who blogged about it, and published it in the student newspaper. Then word reached the Huddersfield Examiner who wrote an article about the event. During this time, we also had the musicians and record label promoting the event through other websites and social platforms; therefore, through all of the promotion we generated online, we managed to fill the venue to the brim with attendants. Although the venue was facing the university and fairly popular, the staff informed us that they had never seen it so busy in their time of being open. In the end, it had worked wonders for our sales and we had made a fantastic profit – accomplished entirely through the use of social media and online marketing.

I began working for Salford Professional Development as a Marketing Officer in August. Since I began working for SPD, I focused my attention to the social media platforms immediately and brought up the Likes, Connections and Followers noticeably in a short period of time.

I was also managing the social media for the Salford Media Festival, and through continuously posting and tweeting updates and news, we were generating more interest, supporters and even some ticket sales through Twitter and LinkedIn. I took advice from a social media expert and ran a campaign to give away two free tickets to the festival in exchange for Follows and Retweets on Twitter, in just two weeks we gained up to 200 more Followers and, as predicted, people were Retweeting like no tomorrow. An important rule in marketing – people love free stuff! In conjunction with this, we paid for a temporary Facebook advert, which almost doubled our current Likes in just 3 weeks of being live – this gave us a good head start to build Likes. Through continuously posting news and updates on social media, we began to see the traffic coming through to our websites on Google Analytics. Approximately 6% of our click rate traffic for the Salford Media Festival website was referred from social media, namely Facebook and LinkedIn. It doesn’t seem much, but it makes a visible difference. Interestingly, although the most visible activity and interaction we receive is through Twitter, there wasn’t any noticeable traffic coming from this platform, as followers preferred to Retweet, rather than explore links. I would advise to keep Twitter for interacting with your audience in simple ways – by using Retweets and hashtags – as Twitter users like to keep things straightforward, but ensure your content on Facebook and LinkedIn is appealing and engaging enough to generate clicks to your website links.

In Events Marketing, it is vital to share, post and tweet continuously and consistently. Generating excitement and anticipation towards the lead up to an event is important. Link building and contacting relevant websites to help with the promotion is also a good way of branching out and reaching a wider audience, as it generates more interest and response. We offered various media-based websites discount codes off ticket prices to promote to their members for Salford Media Festival, which proved successful for our revenue.

I chose to attend the Search and Social Media Professional course so that I could develop in the area of online marketing and social media enough for the company to see a real difference from the marketing generated by myself. I didn’t have experience in Search Engine Optimization, therefore the SSMM course seemed like the perfect opportunity to progress and put some new skills into practice.

I took the course simply because, although I entered my teenage years during the explosion of online interaction, SEO and social media marketing are completely different notions. They involve technical strategies and consumer awareness, rather than just socializing and sharing. In order to reach business success, there’s more that needs to be considered when marketing in the virtual world.

Overall, the course has taught me how to build links effectively, how to engage your audience through social media content and create effective campaigns, how to make use of keywords, how to use Webmaster Tools to keep up to date on your click through rates and what interests your audience, and to make use of all social media platforms to create brand awareness. I intend to integrate all of these tactics into my work.

In today’s digital world of sharing and networking, marketing your services online can take The Water-Cooler Effect [or Word of Mouth Marketing], to a powerful new level. Campaigns can go viral overnight. The key is to think outside the box, identify with your audience and research their needs, and never underestimate human emotion. The recent Christmas ad campaigns by John Lewis and Sainsburys will tell you that.

I already have many plans and ideas for SPD, through taking the course, in order to create brand awareness and generate more sales, and I hope to continue my progression in the field of Online Marketing, using the experience and knowledge I have gained –hopefully accomplishing some noticeable results.

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