Posts tagged: #SSMM

Why Digital Marketers Need A Personal Blog Site

28 November 2013

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, not 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.


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+

SEO & Social Media Marketing Essentials

26 June 2013

SEO & Social Media Marketing Essentials

Wednesday 24th July – Book Now

Search Engine Optimisation (SEO) and Social Media Optimisation (SMO) are no longer an optional choice for many organisations competing for the increasingly internet savvy consumers. Do you have a digital strategy and a social media policy? Do you know that if you don’t manage your social media presence chances are your customers will manage it for you and not always in a most favourable way.

As part of the University of Salford’s commitment to delivering the best digital training available, Salford Professional Development have developed a one day ‘SEO & Social Media Marketing Essentials‘ course. This course is aimed at busy executives who want to have theoretic understanding as well as some basic hands on practical exercises which will highlight the essentials in SEO and Social Media Marketing. This knowledge will enable you to develop a better understanding of your customers behaviour online and help you to develop long term plan and implement basic techniques for management of day to day social media engagement. Working from your business objectives you will be able to draft some key performance indicators for your online presence, identify key social networks for your organisational use as well as conduct some basic Social Media Optimisation. The main focus on this course is to offer you a broad overview of search and social media marketing and help you to start working on your long term digital marketing strategy as well as plan for use of techniques.


Aleksej Heinze –

The course will be taught by Dr Aleksej Heinze, Aleksej is a co-director for the Centre for Digital Business which is part of The University of Salford’s Business School. He currently works on an international projects Passport to Trade 2.0 which helps businesses to understand International Business Culture and develop new business opportunities in Europe using social media networks.

Guest Speaker:

The course will also feature Martin Cozens who is the Managing Director for Banc Media. Based in Old Trafford, Manchester, Banc Media are a Search Engine Marketing company providing Pay Per Click & Search Engine Optimisation. They specialise in a measured & transparent approach, focussing on ROI for our clients through researched search engine marketing.

Martin Cozens: “We develop close relationships with our clients, proving to become an integral part of their business, smashing targets set by them and showing real return on investment in the products we supply and the search results they gain. Developing these relationships is what makes our business stronger and helps our team grow further to providing the very best service.”

Their clients include:

  • Lufthansa’s business rewards air miles scheme SACP
  • Cruise1st – a leading cruise holiday provider operating in the UK, Ireland & Australia
  • – the nationally known online furniture retailer that was on the high street in over 800 stores
  • Breens Solicitors – a renowned law firm operating out of Merseyside for both private and business clients.


SEO & Social Media Marketing Essentials is based and delivered at the state of the art teaching and training facilities in the heart of the UK’s Media hub at MediaCityUK, University of Salford. This cutting edge facility is on close proximity of the BBC, ITV and many other top digital and media agencies.


This course costs £299 + VAT.

Want to know more?

If you wish to enquire about this course, simply get in touch with Robert Goodison at Salford Professional Development on 0161 295 5407 or email

This course is aimed at busy executives who want to have theoretic understanding as well as some basic hands on practical exercises which will highlight the essentials in SEO and Social Media Marketing. This knowledge will enable you to develop a better understanding of your customers behaviour online and help you to develop long term plan and implement basic techniques for management of day to day social media engagement. Working from your business objectives you will be able to draft some key performance indicators for your online presence, identify key social networks for your organisational use as well as conduct some basic Social Media Optimisation. The main focus on this course is to offer you a broad overview of search and social media marketing and help you to start working on your long term digital marketing strategy as well as plan for use of techniques.
This course draws on the content used as part of the ten week evening course in Search and Social Media Marketing but does not include the level of detail necessary for senior individuals who are responsible for managing strategic plans

SEO – It’s football crazy

11 April 2013

I’ve seen the practise of SEO described as both an art and as a science, and indeed one of my primary considerations when enrolling on the SSMM course at the University of Salford was to ensure I received an authoritative, impartial, and academically applied grounding in the subject rather than a purely commercial one.

Tackling a new art or science project can seem very daunting though, and as the weeks rolled by and multiple layers of influence in the online marketing sphere were revealed, it dawned on me how search engine marketing has many parallels with the world of sport – the concepts of which I can understand much more easily. My sport is football (soccer, if you must), but I think the principles can be extended to virtually any sport you follow – let me know if I’m wrong!

So how can a football team’s success on the pitch mirror a website’s performance on the Google playing field?

League Tables

The Search Engine Results Page (SERP) can be viewed in much the same way as a football league table – the most successful at the top, and with each page back, we can think of lower and lower divisions in the football pyramid. Just as smaller clubs still have their own supporters, so less well-optimised websites will still possess devotees, but the “big boys” at the top will continue to attract the majority of attention and new fans. It is thus the ultimate goal of each club to move up the rankings and become number one.

The Tactical Battle

Christmas trees, diamond midfields, flat back-fours, 4-4-2 or 4-3-3? If these don’t sound familiar to you then they are a selection of tactical formations football manager’s choose to line up their teams, in the hope they will best perform in that way.

A website owner needs to employ tactics in the same way, from how their site is structured (about Sitemaps) to the keyword strategy they employ. Keywords are like the best players on your team, and you want them to control the action on your website, so it is important you select the most “talented” ones you can – and play them in their strongest positions!

A number of tools are available for keyword research, and just as football clubs scout for new players – website owners need to search for terms which will strengthen their “keyword squad”.

Football managers will often check out their opposition to gain a measure of their relative strengths and weaknesses, and via tools such as Open Site Explorer, online marketing managers can do the same to gain a competitive edge.

Style of Play

In order to engage fans and keep them paying at the turnstiles, it is important to offer them a good experience. A fluid style of play with dashes of flair and inspiration, allied to displays of commitment and honesty will satisfy most football fans – and so too, quality content must be the basis of any website aiming to attract supporters and to keep them. Provide a dull, dreary slog and don’t expect to sell many season tickets.

Optimisation of imagery, copy and load speeds are fundamental to an online operation, and a grasp of the basics with a clear vision of how a site “should” work are required before any grand notions of growth and progress are considered.

Giant Killing

Unless your team is blessed with the backing of a billionaire benefactor, getting to the top and staying there is perhaps unrealistic, as the resources available to you cannot compete. Every season though, we hear of David versus Goliath clashes where the little guy wins.

Aristotle spoke of the whole being greater than the sum of its parts, and this in football relates to teamwork – everyone pulling in the same direction, with no prima donnas or shirkers in the team.

In the field of marketing, if all aspects of the business are “on message” then success is more achievable. In the online competition for Page ranking, niche or well reasoned keywords can bring success to smaller enterprises who cannot compete head on with large multinationals.

Resting on Laurels

Once a level of success has been achieved, it must be tempting to soak up the glory of a job well done. Be warned though, the competition does not sit still. After a long journey to the top, and will more resources to call upon than most, Manchester City were satisfied with their squad and playing style and changed very little form the formula which brought them success. Their rivals though, Manchester United, invested and adapted resulting in a reversal of fortunes for the neighbouring clubs in the following campaign.

Liverpool F.C., for so long the dominant force in English football, failed to move on from their last championship-winning team and allowed it to become old and stale – they have never fully recovered since, as rivals became more successful and generated more revenue.

Huge high street stores such as Comet and HMV have both failed to move on with the development of online business to disastrous effect.

It is strategically vital to nurture a website in line with developments in the industry and market place, because being left behind can have dire consequences to the visibility and hence profitability of internet traders.

Rules of the Game

Football has a host of governing bodies from FIFA on the world stage, to UEFA in Europe and the FA in England. All have regulations, but the game has generally consistent rules of play which all must obey.

Search Engine Optimisation has no official rule book, but, in the Western world at least, Google can realistically be viewed as the governing body. Such is Google’s dominance as the search engine of choice, that satisfying the demands of its “algorithm” (a tool employed to measure the authority and worth of websites) can be likened to playing by the rules.

Infringements to the laws of the game in football can result in penalties and suspensions, as can infringements to Google dictates when optimising websites. There are many cautionary tales on the web relating to Google’s “Panda” and “Penguin” penalties.

Just like the offside rule in football, Google’s considerations for it’s algorithm are widely confused – but if everything were clear cut and predictable, the beautiful game would not be so exciting, would it?!

This Manager’s Future

My client, Idyll Home, are a relatively young company, and I suppose could be considered a lower division team at present. There is plenty of talent and ambition there though, and I hope to utilise the skills and knowledge acquired on the #SSMMUOS course to push for year on year promotions to the Premier League!

One thing’s for certain about SEO though…it’s a funny old game!

Social influence: this time it’s personal

10 April 2013

The benefits of social learning

My name’s Zoe Breen and I’m producer of the WebWise a BBC* website which promotes adult digital literacy.

I’m also a blogger for Manchester Girl Geeks a group which aims to engage women and girls with science and technology.

Having produced websites for the BBC for 12 years I felt it was time I had a look at how my counterparts in the third sector and commercial worlds use search and social media marketing techniques.

A major perk of attending the Search and Social Media Marketing professional course at the University of Salford was the opportunity to network with people from a wide range of backgrounds.

I got to benefit from the knowledge of  a public relations expert, someone working at a creative agency, marketing professionals,  a local authority media manager and the UK’s foremost Yorkshire pudding blogger!

The Search and Social Media LinkedIn group set up for the course has been a great forum for asking questions, debating issues and sharing knowledge and ideas.

Experiments in generating social capital

It was a post in the LinkedIn group by fellow student Liezl Hesketh that got me thinking about the value of my personal social media activity.

Liezl highlighted a news piece from online magazine TechCrunch which reported that airline Cathay Pacific were offering free business lounge access to anyone who could prove they had earned a score of 40 or more on social influence website Klout.

I hadn’t checked my Klout account for a while so was delighted to see that I had a score of 46. Not only did I qualify for business lounge access, but that I had the basis of my end of course presentation.

Looking back at my social media activity, I realised that I had employed a variety of techniques over the years to boost my rating on social influence websites like Klout and PeerIndex – sites that generate a score reflecting your reach and activity across a number of social media platforms.

Raise your personal web profile at low to no cost

Here are my top tips for boosting your personal web presence:

  1. Plug your social media accounts into Klout or PeerIndex to keep an eye on your progress.
  2. Set yourself targets, get your first 1,000 Twitter followers or aim to join the 500+ club on LinkedIn.
  3. Use Twitter to engage with people who share your interests – follow, reply, favourite, retweet.
  4. Create lists as a way to group related Twitter accounts to follow trends in a specific field.
  5. Use a tool like to automatically generate an online newspaper from your Twitter list or other social media platforms.

Connect with me on Twitter as @ZoeEBreen and on LinkedIn

*Views expressed here do not represent those of my employer.

How to make friends and influence people on Social Media

21 November 2011

Business Cat

So, you’ve decided to embrace the world of social media…

Perhaps you’re an organisation who has heard all the buzz about Facebook and its ilk, and feel that you’re missing a trick not being on there too. Maybe you’re a freelancer who feels that getting social would lead to a fatter contacts book and more juicy commissions. Or perhaps (like my Dad), you’re a fifty-something with too much time on their hands who likes the idea of Twitter because it allows them to keep tabs on their children (sorry Dad). But now, after registering on all of these sites – choosing a pithy user name and a swanky avatar – you’re not sure what to do next.

But wait! Don’t fiddle around with it for five minutes and then brush it off as being a bad lot. Social Media can make a difference to your business. It’s all about finding a niche, taking the time to make connections, and pushing out good content to the right people.

I’ve been using the internet regularly since 1996, when it was all fields and the occasional IRC chat room. And, throughout the years, it feels as though I’ve jumped on every social media bandwagon going – IRC, Livejournal, Friendster, MySpace, Friends Reunited, Bebo, Facebook, Twitter – you name it, and I’ve probably had a profile on there.

I don’t claim to be an ‘expert’ about this subject, but I am one of those ‘Digital Marketing’ types (by day I’m the Web Manager for The Liverpool Institute for Performing Arts, and by night I post recipes and restaurant reviews on my food blog, Little Red Courgette), and I feel proud to say that I’ve managed to make a career out of messing around on the web. I’ve also recently been studying on Salford University’s Search and Social Media Marketing course which has enabled me to think about social media in ways which I hadn’t envisaged before. Whilst this isn’t going to be the definitive tome on the subject, think of it as a handy Beginner’s Guide.

But why should my organisation use social media?

As Bill Gates famously stated in 1996, when it comes to the internet, Content is King. But it’s not enough to create amazing words and pictures and let them sit there on your website waiting for people to stumble across them. If you want to make an impact on the SERPS, you have to be a bit noisy. As this handy infographic says, social is SEO and content is social. Google’s Panda algorithm actively encourages people to produce and share high quality content, and posting links on Twitter, Facebook and Google Plus allows people to share your content to their own personal networks. Having a single tweet retweeted by someone with thousands of followers can lead to your content going viral, meaning lots new followers and customers for your website and a higher page ranking on the search engines.

Become an expert

If you want to make an impact on social media, find your niche. There’s no shame in being a one topic wonder, so long as people connect with the content you’re sharing. If you provide users with the most useful, attractive and engaging content that you can, then this will motivate them to share it with their friends, link to it and keep coming back for more.

  • Don’t be afraid to tailor you content specifically towards your target market. If you try and be relevant to everyone, you won’t relevant to anyone.
  • Don’t sound too sales-y. There’s nothing worse than someone who is using a blogpost to simply flog their services. The more relevant information you can provide, the more people will be wanting to return to your website.
  • Remember – the more high quality content you share, the more valuable it becomes and the more people will share it. So make it sensational!

Start making friends

Social media should be exactly that – social. Don’t just use your profiles as a glorified RSS feed. Start conversations and make connections. Reply to tweets and Facebook messages. Comment on people’s blogs and befriend people in your industry who you think may be interested in listening what you have to say.  A bit of cheekiness can go a long way – and can reap huge rewards.

Don’t restrict yourself

Blogs, Facebook, Twitter, YouTube – it’s easy to find a platform  that suits you and use nothing else. But in doing so, you’re doing yourself – and your brand – a bit of a disservice. Different social media platforms attract different audiences, of different age ranges and different nationalities. When devising a social media campaign, it’s important that you look at each platform, think about how you can transmit your key messages through each of those in a unique way and adapt your voice accordingly. For example:

  • I use Twitter to share links and chat with friends and freelance clients
  • I use Facebook to catch up with old acquaintances and the family members I have scattered across the globe
  • I use WordPress for my blog
  • I use LinkedIn to speak to colleagues and business connections
  • I use Google Plus to promote my blog posts to a wider audience

If you’ve not yet encountered Google Plus, it’s a social network which aims to be Facebook, but better (and with less risk of your boss seeing pictures of you drunk and falling over). To find out more, watch the handy explanatory video below.

Learn from the masters

When it comes to devising and implementing a social media strategy, it’s always good to look at what your peers are doing. If they’ve got a good online reputation, it’s usually because they’re doing something right.

A few brands who do social really well are fashion retailers ASOS, Topshop and Evans (which have all utilised blogs, Twitter and Facebook to connect with their key demographic). Evans have also reached out to the blogosphere, holding press days for fashion bloggers to see their new collections, and encouraging influential bloggers to contribute guest posts to their corporate blog.

The Golden Rule – Don’t be an idiot!

OK, so this just sounds like common sense. But it’s a sentiment which can easily be forgotten in the heat of the moment. The internet has a long memory, and it’s often quick to judge. One misjudged tweet or Facebook status update can have a debilitating effect on your brand. A good example of this is when, in 2009, Habitat used ‘Hashtag Spam’ to get into the top trending results on Twitter. Hashtags are the keywords used on Twitter which allows users to follow a conversation, and, using hashtags like #Iran and #Mousavi, the retailer added notes about its products into the stream of tweets about the Iranian uprising in 2009. Whilst Habitat blamed this on the actions of a rogue intern, the effect was debilitating and, arguably, the brand’s online reputation hasn’t really recovered since.

And, above all else, have fun!

It’s easy to take social media too seriously, but in doing so, you’d be missing out on seeing it for what it can be (namely, bloody good fun). If you’re prepared to put the effort in, you’ll soon reap the rewards, as well as make friends, influence people, and (eventually) become a social media superstar.

Agree? Disagree? Or perhaps you just want to say hello? If so, feel free to follow me on Twitter at, or feel free to add me on LinkedIn.

Social Media Complaints (the basics)

17 November 2011

A recent U.S survey found that only 29% of consumer complaints received via twitter were responded to. In this blog post, I would like to speak to the 71% of companies who have chosen not to respond to their customers and explain why they should take the time to engage and how.

Why should you engage with customers who complain about you via Social Media?

Now, I’m not pretending that I am expert in customer service but being a consumer myself I would expect that if your customers are talking about your brands/products or services my hope is that you would want to know about it? Just as your phones are picked up and emails are responded to, I see Social Media as another channel of communication…albeit a very public one!  Social Media is undoubtedly a very valuable tool which gives you access to free and honest feedback and it’s a great platform for showcasing how fantastic your customer service is…you really are missing a trick if you are not taking full advantage!

One example of companies who are engaging with their customers is Silver Cross and Kiddicare. Here we have a very simple request for a contact number as the customer has a fault with her new Silver Cross Pushchair which she had purchased from Kiddicare (an online retailer) – click on the image to view the full Complaint story:

Social Media Complaint Example­­

You will notice that even though the first tweet was not directed to @SilverCross_UK , they still managed to find and reply to the customer, apologising effectively. Later in this post I will explain a couple of online tools Silver Cross may have used in order to locate this complaint. The main point I want to make here is that a customer publicly declared she had a faulty product but rather than the problem escalating and resulting in further mentions of the Silver Cross or Kiddicare brand in a bad light, the companies sought to rectify the problem and even received positive public feedback as a result. Remember, it is highly likely that customers who complain via social media have friends connected to them who are also within your target audience. If your friends/family were to mention a brand in a bad light, are you likely to try their products/services?

Monitoring your Social Media – The basics

The first thing you need to be doing is monitoring what people are saying about your brand or services. It’s not spying as such….it’s just being aware….a bit like neighbourhood watch if you like…

There are hundreds of free tools out there which you can use to monitor social media content which you can then analyse and collate vital data from. Remember in my earlier example you saw that Silver Cross were able to locate and respond to the customer even though the tweet was not directed to their twitter name…. well, it’s highly likely they were using media monitoring tools which seek out where-ever and whenever their brand name is mentioned on a variety of social media platforms. Here are just a handful of top pick social media monitoring tools::

  • Google Alerts – Works by sending you an email every time a new item pops up in Google search with your chosen keyword. (i.e Silver Cross may have one set up for their brand name plus any of their products)
  • Board Reader – Forum search engine which seeks out ‘human to human’ discussions
  • Social Mention – Tracks blogs, blog comments, news, twitter, images, videos and can bes saved as RSS feeds
  • Yahoo Pipes – This is a bit more complex but it’s really useful as it enables you to Aggregate, Manipulate and Mashup data (so it basically picks-out the relevant bits data and put it all in one place!)

Have a browse on this list collated by Social Brite which brings together their top 20 social media monitoring tools, have a bit of a play and find out what tools work best for you. There are loads of YouTube video’s that can help you get the best out them. You can even use twitter itself my simply typing your brand name into the search box!!

Responding to Social Media complaints

Responding to a Social Media Complaint is a subject very much up for debate (no rhyming intended!). The best thing to do is analyse the data you have collected from monitoring your social media and collate a list of common issues which can be resolved quickly such as the example above where the customer could be directed to a telephone number or email address. For more complex or urgent issues (at your discretion) you could ask the customer to PM (Private Message) you their details and take it from there.

Don’t just use your social media platforms with replies to user comments though… you want to engage and break up the customer service with interesting updates – share articles, talk about current topics related to your market and encourage conversations and above all show humanity! You want be conveying that this channel of communication is open and you are comfortable connecting to your customers.

Top Social Media Responding tips here

Uh Oh…it went viral!!

One recent example where a social media complaint has escalated is with Waitrose, which can read more about on The Drum. This emotionally fuelled complaint went viral with masses of people demanding action. Although the complaint was acknowledged very early on, there must have been so much subsequent dialog that Waitrose voice had been lost through the digital crowds. I would suggest that in these situations you keep your customers well informed and ride the social media wave until it passes, and it will!

I will just leave you with a question….

As a consumer yourself, would you or have you ever openly complained via social media?

You can connect to me by:

  • Leaving a comment below.
  • Connecting with me on LinkedIn.
  • Following the #ssmm tag on Twitter for useful tips and connections.

Managing LinkedIn: How to filter relevant discussions from LinkedIn Groups

15 November 2011

At this precise moment in time, I am a member of 44 LinkedIn Groups with one additional group membership request pending.  As someone with an avid interest in social media and who is taking time to learn new skills, it has been an extremely simple process to sign up to numerous groups and platforms. Every new lead or connection often leads to the exploration of new groups and other interesting sources of information. This is great in the context of information discovery; but it can quickly lead to information overload and a constant battle to stay on top of incoming messages.

LinkedIn Discussion Groups Experiment

On November 1st, I decided to try a small experiment.  I signed into my LinkedIn account and changed all of my groups’ settings to switch them to ‘email each new discussion’ and remove any weekly and daily digests.  The intention was to use the filters within my email client to divert the junk mail directly to my delete folder and try to achieve a more manageable email flow. However, what I actually did was set up a single filter to divert all of my LinkedIn Group notifications into a dedicated folder.

Over the course of the experiment, I discovered a number of  things:

  1. It is very difficult to set emails to automatically delete unless there is a specific subject or person that merits being avoided;
  2. I receive an average of between 15 to 20 notifications per hour, varying according to time of day and day of week;
  3. The vast majority of notifications contain links to articles, blog posts and marketing material with no commentary or additional value to warrant the use of the LinkedIn platform;
  4. There is a considerable amount of duplication across different LinkedIn groups, not to mention external sources such as other social networks, news aggregation services and monitoring tools;
  5. Closed groups are typically more valuable to me than open groups, in terms of relevant content, fewer problems with spam and more interaction.

So, what I end up with is a list of emails that looks a lot like this:

Linkedin Group Email Filtering

Sample list of emails from LinkedIn Discussion Groups

Filtering Discussion Group Notifications

At which point, it becomes necessary to employ a technique called ‘thin slicing’, which I first learned about when reading Blink by Malcolm Gladwell.  First of all I use the select all check box, then I skim the subject titles for key words, patterns and phrases that look like they hold some potential.  You quickly become blind to the words ‘New discussion’, which leaves only a short title to skim through. If one of the subject lines grabs my attention I glance over to the right to check which group the item was posted to and then to the left to see if I recognize the author. If the email subject looks interesting, I deselect the check box for that email and repeat until I reach the bottom of the list, at which point I delete all selected emails.

This technique allows me to filter out up to 98% of the LinkedIn Group notifications that make it to my inbox, which means that it is critical for messages to have well-written, concise and highly targeted subject lines.

One example of an email that attracted my attention was the third email in the list above, using the subject line: “Anyone know of any articles or resources that can justify the creation o…”. The primary hook being my interest in information research and the indication that this is a discussion question as opposed to a link share.  In my view, discussions on LinkedIn are worth following where there is the possibility that expert knowledge might be shared or where valuable connections can be discovered.

Clicking on the link revealed that the full subject line was even more interesting: “Anyone know of any articles or resources that can justify the creation of a branded Google Plus page? How is it different than a Facebook page? Will Google Plus be around next year?”

Linkedin Group Email Filtering 2

New Discussion Notification Email from Social Media Today Group

This is the second decision point in the filtering process: deciding whether or not to right click on the link to open it in a new tab before hitting the delete button. I will typically run through all of the emails that escaped the initial delete, before moving over to LinkedIn to check each discussion item that I have opened in a new tab. [N.B. It is useful to be logged in to LinkedIn before starting this process.] In the case of the example used above, there is no article link in the discussion posting and it generated ten comments in two days, containing some very useful links, tips and feedback.

Improving the Signal to Noise Ratio

LinkedIn have just launched group statistics, which are accessible by clicking on the graph icon on the My Groups page.  This can simplify the process of targeting group interactions; so it is possible to unsubscribe from email and digest notifications from groups, in circumstances where it may be relevant to be a member but not to have an active participation.  If we look at the activity statistics for two groups with strikingly different member and activity statistics, opting out of discussion notices from a larger group becomes a viable option, especially when the majority of postings may be duplication either within multiple LinkedIn groups or on other social networks.

Linkedin Group Statistics

Example demographics of a small LinkedIn Group

Linkedin Group Statistics

Example demographics of a large LinkedIn Group

Linkedin Group Statistics

Example activity levels of a small LinkedIn Group

Linkedin Group Statistics

Example activity levels of a large LinkedIn Group

The important thing to remember is that even though it is very easy to be overwhelmed by the sheer volume of information that flows through social media networks, there is an ‘off’ switch.  As you get to know the groups you have signed up to, it is possible to reduce the pile of messages and notifications clogging up your inbox by:

  • Switching off notifications from groups that are primarily used for link sharing and direct marketing broadcasts.
  • Switching digest notifications to individual notifications, because digests typically include ‘still active’ discussion notices, which are often more distracting than useful.
  • Using a social bookmarking service to direct followers to your preferred networks and groups.

In the process of writing this post I have received membership approval for my 45th LinkedIn Group, I think it’s time to update my XeeMe groups’ page.

Update – 5th January 2012

When setting up filters for LinkedIn emails, it is very useful to set up separate filters for ‘New job’, New discussion‘ and ‘New comment‘ to direct them to individual folders. I updated my own filtering system after I reached the maximum of 50 LinkedIn group memberships and these work for me for three key reasons:

  • I can automatically delete job postings when I am not working on a specific recruitment related project;
  • I can ignore new discussion items until I have a block of time to sift through them for interesting threads. In fact, by delaying responding to a discussion item it creates a buffer effect to renew interest in a discussion item and serves to encourage more responses overall;
  • I can easily pick up on and respond faster to comments on discussions that I have already commented on or started following.

Next on my agenda is to write a blog post on how to write good subject lines for new discussion items over at

Finding More Help with Social Media

I’d love to hear from you, if you would like to:

  • Leave a comment on this post
  • Find me on through my social bookmarks on XeeMe
  • Connect with me on LinkedIn
  • Follow the #ssmm tag or my #ssmm list on Twitter for useful tips and connections

Social Media Marketing Basics: How many social profiles do I need?

27 October 2011

The Socialnomics video by @equalman is probably the most shared video on the economics of social media on YouTube.  This is the long version (4 minutes 19 seconds) of the 2011 edition set to music by Fat Boy Slim.

Social Context and Network Presence

Some social media and marketing experts believe that you should be everywhere.  However, it is far more important to be in the right place at the right time. Context is everything when it comes to deciding which social networks are relevant for you and your business.  Take the example of a downtown restaurant, where daily specials can be posted on Twitter and loyalty discounts can be offered to regular customers who check-in on Foursquare.  Different networks will have different advantages depending on the type of business and amount of resources available.  The trick is to weigh up all the pros and cons of each opportunity so as to not risk being overwhelmed by taking on too much too soon.

Earlier this month, the Oxford Internet Institute released the latest report on the State of the Internet in Britain, containing information on the emergence of next generation users in terms of adoption, characteristics and attitudes, use, government and politics, social networks and friendships, impact of internet use, regulation and control and digital divides. This valuable demographics and trend data feeds into the World Internet Project, which “is a major, international, collaborative project looking at the social, political and economic impact of the Internet and other new technologies”.

Most users will only actively participate on one or two networks on a daily basis, so it is important to focus on relevance and providing valuable engaging content. Unfortunately there are a myriad of networks to choose from and the top choices will vary depending on industry, geographic region and active user base.

Choosing a Social Network

If you are based in the English speaking world, the main social networks that have established social media marketing frameworks, applications, metrics and guidance on usability are a good place to start: Facebook, LinkedIn, Twitter, Foursquare, and YouTube.  It is not critical to establish a presence on all of these networks and there are plenty of review sites and social media comparison charts that can help with the targeting process, such as those provided by the Social Media Guide.

The Social Media ROI video is part of the Socialnomics series by @equalman; can you tell that I am a fan?  The data is from 2009 and the music is Bob Sinclair, 4 minutes 15 seconds worth of real world examples of social media strategies that have had a clear business impact.

The key questions to ask when deciding to participate in a social media network are:

  • Why should I be on this network?
  • Are my customers there?
  • Do my customers want me there?
  • How will I engage my customers?
  • How much time and effort will it cost?
  • Will there be a worthwhile return on my investment?

By considering each of these questions in the context of the individual social networks that you might join, you will be able to decide which networks will be the best ones for you to start with.

A comprehensive UK Search Engine Marketing Benchmark Report is compiled annually by Econsultancy, and although the full report currently costs £250, there are some useful metrics in the free sample download.

Company Names, Brands and Trademarks as Social Identities

This video is a great visual interpretation of the journey of branding from its use as property demarcation to social identification and what it means in today’s economy.  It was produced in 2011 by the MSc Brand Leadership team at Norwich Business School at the University of East Anglia.

The question of whether you need to register your profile on all of the social networks that you are likely to want to use is a good one. It is important to consider whether your company name, brand name or trademark is worth protecting from being registered by someone else, who might use the account for their own purposes.  Even if you do not wish to actively participate in a particular social network, it may be worth registering your username to act as a placeholder or a redirect to the websites and networks where you are actively participating.

A useful service to check is KnowEm, which allows you to do a quick username search on more than 550 social networks.  In my personal experience, the results are not always 100% accurate; but it is a great place to start researching for safeguarding a specific company name, brand name or a trademark.

Finding More Help with Social Media Marketing Basics

Well, a great place to learn more about Search & Social Media Marketing is the SEO Training provided by Salford University…but that might be stating the obvious!

Whichever profiles you choose to establish on social media networks, it is really important to remember which social networks you have joined and use a bookmarking service.  My personal favourite is XeeMe, which is based in the US but currently on target to set up a physical presence in Europe in the coming months.

I’d love to hear from you, if you would like to:

  • Leave a comment on this post
  • Find me through my social bookmarks on XeeMe
  • Follow the #ssmm tag or my #ssmm list on Twitter for useful tips and connections

Are mobile phones turning us into anti-social individuals?

17 November 2010

Applications on mobile devices – are they turning us into anti-social individuals? How many applications are there now? There is no point in counting, as more will be created before the day is out. Facebook, Twitter, LinkedIn, FourSquare are many of the current forms of social networking mobile applications turning us into a group of anti-social individuals, lacking the proper social skills; similar to “hoodies” for the 21st Century. Head down, feverishly tapping away on your device, not paying careful attention to what you are doing, or what is around you, for the need to be kept up-to-date with the latest information. Companies, in particular, now see the benefit of being able to do business within the mobile marketplace in a blog written by Raam Thakrar, the CEO of Touchnote He raised a number of key areas of benefit for the SME marketplace in "Taking advantage of mobile phone technology" with one being M-Commerce. He believes it will only be a matter of time for customers to make safe transactions on their mobile phone as the mobile phone is the only form of technology they have close to them at all times. However the issue of security is raised as mobile phones does not offer the same level of protection as a computer when buying online is concerned, plus it needs individuals to be confident of making these purchases in this manner, despite high levels of physical theft or misuse.

The invention of Smart phones and variations of iPads means a new big juicy screen, clarity to write what you want when you want, turning individuals into mobile businesses, able to have the power of a PC in their hand. From a social networking aspect, people are able to interact through recording, uploading and updating information or content to view and receive vital information then comment on without the need of powering up a computer. However, with the ability to update details, are we missing out on vital information in the real world? Lets have a look at some o the drawbacks of the "social mobile devices":

Windows 7 Phone Ad

With innovations like FourSquare, Gowalla and Facebook Places people are eager to “check in” on a mobile device to a variety of places and venues to gain badges and rewards for unlocking new venues and places of interest. This could be a great thing until you start adding “friends” or worse the person in your “relationship” as they will be able to track you easily, especially when you have to “work late” on that “important brief for the boss by the end of the week”!

Spelling anyone?

Here’s a great test. How badly has your hand writing suffered over time since you have been using a computer? What about spelling? Do you find that you use more in the way of “text language” when talking to people instead of full sentences? (Cheers m8! C U l8r! :o ) ) Is this attributed to the amount of characters Twitter allows per tweet, or just a convenient way to get a long message across in abbreviations.

The “Cheers” Factor

Remember Cheers? The Boston bar where “Everybody knows your name”? Like any local, the idea of interacting with people from long-standing relationships has been replaced with requests from total strangers just because they frequent the same establishment. The idea of being socially accepted using this means your circle of friends has grown immensely, even though there is nothing in common with that person apart from frequenting the same venue.

So, what about the future?

Virtua Friends or “iM8s” may be a great acquisition in the short-term through these various applications, however there is nothing like leaving new mobile phone technology alone for a while to gain a sense of reality in the “real world”. Meeting someone in person provides a different set of emotions, a real relationship through having some kind of history or background:

Window 7 Phone

T-Mobile advert

Overcoming any stress-related mobile phone abuse

The number of mobile phone and hand related injuries will continue to rise from the extension of texting, so here are some exercises to overcome any pains that may surface

  • Tap each finger with the thumb of the same hand. Repeat five times.
  • Pull your thumb firmly with the other hand. Repeat five times.
  • Wrap an elastic band around the tips of fingers and thumb and open your hand against the resistance. Repeat 20 times.
  • Palms down wrap an elastic band around each thumb and force apart. Repeat 20 times.
  • Tap the palm and back of your hand on your thigh as quickly as you can. Repeat 20 times.
  • Massage thumb web, back of forearm and front of forearm. Two minutes.
  • Press and rub in a circular motion the painful nodules in those muscles. Thirty seconds for each nodule.
  • Reach up high with both arms and shake your hands. Reach down low with both arms and shake. Repeat three times.
  • Arms at 45 degrees, squeeze them behind you.
  • If it still hurts after a week of doing exercises, wrap an ice pack on sore hand and arm parts. Do not put ice directly on the skin but wrap in a thin cloth or piece of kitchen roll. Ten minutes on, 10 minutes off. Repeat three times.

More and more businesses are looking towards new technology to keep people informed of the latest news and information, possibly due to these devices being readily available for mass consumption. Most noticeably, the BBC wanted to close a number of their websites, and instead channel it through iPhone applications, in a blog created by Rory Cellan-Jones entitled “Governement apps: a case for the axe?” So, just as we are getting our heads out of the sand like ostriches, there seems to be a movement to get us looking down again to interact with the world.

With that in mind, I’m going to call my mate and arrange to meet up in the pub… then log in to Foursquare to “check in” to the venue we’re going to meet up in, and do the same on Facebook and Twitter. If I need people to know how popular I am…

Make sure you check in here when on the Search Social Media Marketing course

How do I use Social Media in Higher Education?

15 November 2010

Richard Hayes is the Marketing Assistant at The University of Salford’s School of Art & Design, he co-ordinates the School’s digital marketing strategy. Richard is also researching “Fear Marketing”, his blog can be read at

What are the Higher Education digital marketing plans?

Education marketing is starting to change and Higher Education institutes are finally embracing the use of Social Media as way of directly contacting University applicants. Higher Education digital marketing plans now include the use of sites like Facebook, MySpace, Twitter, YouTube, Bebo and Flickr and many other social networking sites.

It has been shown that these Social Media sites can be a good communication method for Higher Education Institutes as it enables direct contact with Applicants and so (hopefully) increasing applications.

The audience for Higher Education, and so Education Marketing, is students between the ages of 16 – 21 and it has been shown that 75%(1) of that target market regularly use Social Media as a way to communicate.

Higher Education institutes such as University of Salford are using Social Media within it’s digital marketing plan in a number of ways; hosting videos on YouTube, running their own Twitter page, a profile on Facebook, campaigns through Bebo and profiles on LinkedIn.

Though it should be said that these digital marketing campaigns should focus on communicating through social media to potential students and not as a means to communicate to existing students.

Martin Weller, professor of educational technology at the Open University, said that “students do not want their professor as their friend on Facebook”.

Digital marketing plans are becoming mainstream

The 2009 Higher Education in a Web 2.0 report showed that these digital marketing plans are coming from the early adopting few and has little of the systematic and coordinated approach of the more traditional communications media.

The nature of the using these media are that they encourage social networking and should be presented within any digital marketing strategy as elements of a single plan. Too many higher education institutes allow different people to use different tools to reach the same audience, not presenting the cohesive education marketing plan.

Social media are infinitely adaptable to higher education’s changing digital marketing needs and the new way in which it’s target audience communicates. Not only should higher education institute change it’s digital marketing strategies, but also they way that social networking is used.

For any higher education institute the bottom line for any marketing strategy is applications. Education marketing should always focus on the needs of these applicants and use their digital marketing to communicate to them effectively.

The guidelines for the use of Social media for higher education for digital marketing would then be:

1. Listen to your applicants; 75% use social networking and social media, but which ones do your applicants use?

2. Use a coordinated approach for Education Marketing plans and utilise the strength inherent in social media. Don’t just do the check of Facebook, Twitter, etc make sure they are all working together, save time and effort.

3. Use it as a two-way conversation, remembering the social in social media. Remember to reply in good time though, check the sites regularly.

4. Do something different. Using the Social Media is just a start; no one is coming to your University just because they liked you on Facebook. You still have to populate it with great content, stories, videos, images, etc

5. Create some ground rules about what is communicated through the Social Media sites. Getting some boundaries in place before setting it up and communicating to all staff involved is good practice.

(1) Higher Education in a Web 2.0 World, Committee of Inquiry into the Changing Learner Experience, March 2009