Organizations Don’t Tweet, People Do by Euan Semple

16 May 2012

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

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

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

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

The tweets from the event have been Storified here.

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

Book coverReview of Organisations Don’t Tweet, People Do

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

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

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

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

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

Here are my highlights from reading the book:

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

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

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

Ten steps to success with technology:

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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


Personal Paralegal: The Social Media Dos and Don’ts to Protect Your Privacy

3 April 2012

1384549_93705926b_httpwww.sxc.huprofilechidseyMany thanks to Fiona Causer from Paralegal.net for writing this useful guide to Social Media Privacy.

In this day and age, it behooves everyone to use social media to some degree – and it can be a great and fun way to keep track of friends, promote a product, or interact with customers. But with this freedom of idea and information exchange has come a new platform for privacy to be compromised by Internet predators, governments or even potential employers with whom one may be seeking employment.

With these cases of privacy violations on the rise, they have become a key topic of interest to paralegal schools looking to equip their graduates with the correct tools to navigate the murky waters of privacy law.  With social media usage sky-rocketing, more accounts of privacy violations will surely arise.  In order to protect your privacy, there are certain Dos and Don’ts that need to be kept in mind when using sites like Facebook, Twitter, Pinterest, and Foursquare.

Do:

1.     Follow the sites you are on regularly. If someone posts to your wall or says something unflattering, inappropriate or untrue about you, you want to be able to react within hours, not days or weeks.

2.     Know the privacy policies of each site. Reading the fine print can be a drag, but it allows you to understand what information is publicly viewable, what information is shared with other companies and what options you have in protecting yourself.

3.     Think before you post. You may write things or provide information that you later regret. If you’re angry or upset, wait a few hours before posting.

4.     Make sure that you have the latest security updates installed in your computer. This is just generally good advice. Also, consider downloading Facebook’s security software to further protect yourself.

5.     Keep your credit card and bank information to yourself. With the ubiquity of online purchasing, there’s a tendency to get a little too free with one’s financial information. If you’re not on a secure site with the intent to purchase, there’s no reason to provide this information.

Don’t:

1.     Don’t accept requests from strangers, particularly if something seems fishy. They may be after your password, or attempting to pass you a virus. Check out who they are before clicking on any links they provide.

2.     If you’re an individual, don’t provide your exact address, particularly on Foursquare. People can tell when you’re on vacation – publicly letting them know that you’re out of town, while also showing them a map to your door is a bad idea.

3.     Don’t let unflattering photographs be tagged. Facebook will allow you to un-tag any photos taken of you. Make sure you’re in control of your own images.

4.     Don’t post without proofreading. Spelling errors, clumsy grammar and typos all serve to make you look bad – and it gives view to a private thought process that you may want to keep to yourself. In other words, no reason to show others your first drafts. An extra minute and you can look much better.

5.     Don’t keep an account if you’re not going to use it. Especially if you’re running a business, having a Twitter account (or other account) that is only used once every five months is worse than having no account at all. Plus, because it appears that you’re inattentive, it’s ripe for poachers, who may start using your account to spam others connected to you.


The UK Web Archive: an important resource for business

21 February 2012

ukwa_logoOur Web in Feb month has got me thinking about the impermanence of so much internet content.

Companies put a great deal of useful information online, but rarely have a strategy for maintaining or persevering it. This is where the British Library comes in. Preserving the UK web is a natural extension of our traditional role of preserving UK printed material.

So if you are researching business that no longer exist, or blogs which have ceased to be updated, have a look at the UK Web Archive

Collecting since 2004, the UK Web Archive contains websites of cultural and research relevance relating to the UK. Its purpose is to collect, preserve and give permanent access to key UK websites for future generations. It is a selective and unique archive, built on nominations from subject specialists in and outside of the Library, alongside public nominations. With over 10,000 different websites, the archive is one of the library’s largest ‘born-digital’ collections.

The archive team have made searching easier by adding indexing terms (meta-tags) and added research tools such as Ngram visualisations.

You can read more about developments in the archive on their blog


The Key Trends for 2012 from Cate Trotter – Insider Trends

25 January 2012

logo_insider_trendsI have been covering sessions from  founder and Head of Trends at Insider Trends Cate Trotter for a while now: Insider Trends – The Future of Online Marketing, The growing grey market in the UK and How to become a cutting-edge retailer.

As previously, Cate showed an impressive grasp of the trends that new and existing businesses need to know about, to keep ahead of the competitive curve.

Tonight’s topic proved even more popular than before, requiring a move to a larger room, and an overflow event last-night.

Here are my notes from the event:

Cate started the evening by identifying three headline trends for 2012 of Doom and Gloom, Ubiquitous Digital and Humanness.

Doom and Gloom (aka – the economic recession is killing business opportunities – or is it?)

  • If you only read the papers or watched TV you would think the end is nigh.
  • Unemployment is at a 17 year high in the UK, with over 1 million young people out of work.
  • The UK economy is predicted to grow by 0.2% in 2012 (i.e. no growth to speak of).
  • But…
  • Interest in entrepreneurship is at an all-time high, and barriers to entry are at an all-time low, thanks to technology and the internet, with the likes of Facebook, PayPal and on-demand printing.
  • Slowly we are shifting to become a nation of entrepreneurs.
  • There are plenty of opportunities for person-to-person (P2P) businesses thanks to the likes of Kickstarter and SellAnApp. Or how about MinuteBox which allows you sell your expertise by the minute.
  • Opportunities also exist in the off-line world too, such as ‘cheap and cheerful’ offices for start-ups like The Ugli Campus, or how about opening the first cafe for entrepreneurs.
  • Too many business websites use ‘me too’ branding with stock photography and unclear messages – Cate gave the example of BubbleWebs  as one that ‘shows what it does on the tin’.

BubbleWebs_home_page

Ubiquitous digital (it really is everywhere now)

  • 65% of adult internet users now use a social networking site of some kind.
  • By the summer of 2012 over 50% of Brits will be using a smartphone.
  • So:
  • Cate’s tip no.1 – Mark your location on Google Places to boost traffic to your website.
  • Cate’s tip no.2 – Make sure you website is mobile friendly using 11 Excellent Solutions for Making Your Website Mobile Friendly.
  • Need to think beyond using social media just for marketing and PR – add customer support roles (e.g. Hippo Munchies in India using twitter prompts from customers to re-fill their vending machines).
  • Companies will develop intelligent and selective strategies for social media channels. No more scatter-gun approach to digital marketing.
  • Digital data will give commercial insights. E.g Klout score to measure your online influence.
  • A/B test your website your website using Optimizely to maximise visitors.

Humanness (the importance of trust in a digital commercial world)

  • Ask yourself how is your digital strategy enhancing the lives of your customers?
  • More targeted communications and email lists – less scatter-gun.
  • Google is starting to highlight more human related content, so you need to have people talking about your business in social media.
  • Which means you have to do stuff that people think is worth talking about.
  • Results in a move away from novelty campaigns to real customer value. E.g. Zappos.com have a 24 hour staffed phone line, and up to a year to return products.

Zappos_logo

  • Inspirational brands talk about why they do what they do, not what they do, or how they do it – read Start with why by Simon Sinek or watch him speak at TED.
  • The need to stay human, once you grow beyond a single person business, think of your brand as a personality or celebrity.

2012 is all about being connected – individuals, networks and businesses
Use customer value to cut through the ubiquitous social media noise. Connections through honest communication is key.

Cate ended her talk by encouraging us to go away and start experimenting with some of the ideas covered. We now had 11 months lead on our competitors.

She really wants to hear from us how we a get on, so please get in touch with her at cate@insider-trends.com


The Web in Feb 2012 – coming soon

19 January 2012

WebinFeb logoLast year we had a great Web in Feb month (The Power of Social Media – an Inspiring Entrepreneurs evening and What is the Business & IP Centre doing with social media?)

And we are anticipating another excellent month of events for 2012 to help you reach and grow your online audience.

Join us this February for our special workshops and events in the Business & IP Centre. Regardless of what stage of business, this will be your chance to interact with experts, entrepreneurs and potential clients.

During Web in Feb you can learn how to:

  • Protect your online and mobile technology
  • Get your site noticed on search engines
  • Sell your products effectively over the Internet
  • Manage your business on the web
  • Chose the right channels of communication through social media

Here is a summary what’s going on this February:

David_WarrilowAsk an Expert

Throughout February IP Lawyer, David Warrilow, will be running free, confidential, one-to-one advice clinics to help entrepreneurs and inventors understand the different options available when protecting a new online or mobile technology.

Use our hashtag #webinfeb to see what people are saying on Twitter?


Our YouTube channel gets 250 thousand hits

7 October 2011

youtube-logoWe are constantly telling our clients about the power of using video to market their product or service, as do our workshop presenters (Our Marketing Masterclass with Alasdair Inglis of Grow).

So it is wonderful to be able to show how our use of videos on YouTube has gained us nearly 250,000 hits over the last three years or so.

Very early on we created our own channel BIPCTV, and began posting recordings of our Inspiring Entrepreneurs events, and our success stories.

Having attended almost all of our events over the years, I am really pleased to see that my favourite speaker is also the most popular with nearly 23,000 views. I have to admit that having already seen Levi Roots and his Reggae Reggae Sauce on BBCs Dragons Den I was prepared to be disappointed. However, as a live performer with no script or PowerPoint slides, he was witty, charming and inspiring.

Another popular speaker is Sam Roddick, founder of the ‘erotic emporium’ Coco De Mer, and daughter of Body Shop legend Dame Anita Roddick. She describes herself as an activist first and accidental entrepreneur second.

http://www.youtube.com/bipctv

YouTube_BIPC


Our Success Story Flubit is growing fast

29 September 2011

Flubit_logoHaving met Bertie Stephens (Chief Flubitron) in a workshop last May, and signing up as Honourable Manlius Buggerflub (I’ve joined the fun Flubitron club), I wanted to keep in touch with their progress.

The good news is that they are growing at an impressively rapid pace, and have recently exceeded 14,000 Flubitrons. With four new demands every minute, their members have already demanded over 3,000 products and services.

I had a chat to their Online Marketing Rep Steph Fiala to find out more:

So what exactly is Flubit?

The idea of Flubit is incredibly simple but revolutionary. In an age of social media and online shopping, we have found a way to empower our consumers, through using our very simple platform. By grouping together and ‘demanding’ products they actually want to buy, we can get them great bulk discounts. Essentially, you tell us what you want and we do all the leg work and get you a discount, all because if you want something, chances are there are others online who also want it.

Bertie_Stephens_FlubitBertie Stephens came up with the idea for a consumer-lead social marketplace at the end of last year, but it wasn’t until spring this year when he really decided to go along with his idea. In April, he met with the first investors and by May Flubit was sitting on a $1M investment and was valued at $4M.

But the successes run deeper, we managed to create a great team here at flubit. We have a group of really experienced, goal oriented leaders – Adel Louertatani, making sure we are in touch with all the right investors, Ricardo Gomez-Ulmke who makes sure all our ideas are plausible and ensures we do everything with structure, Patrick Perez, our non-executive advisor, the man who brought Apple Mac to Europe giving us needed council and of course our CEO Bertie Stephens challenging and directing us – and a group of younger, enthusiastic employees who know our market and make sure we get it right.

And how did the Business & IP Centre help?

The British Library offered founders Bertie Stephens and Adel Louertatani not only a meeting ground & research tool from it’s wide array of resources, but an important learning arena too via the IP Centre.

Partaking in a multitude of courses gave Bertie & Adel an ability to gain a further foothold into the world of small business marketing, financing, pitching to investors and even intellectual property protection.

From here Flubit have been in regular contact with a selection of speakers who have since become consultants who offer a reliable, experianced source of knowledge. It was only from the learnings of the IP Centre that Bertie was able to learn the correct and (more importantly) required steps to correctly copyright & protect the Flubit brand.

If you want to keep up with Flubit, you can join their facebook page, or become a Flubitron yourself.

Flubit_com_screen_shot

flubit_celebration

The Flubit team celebrating their success Flubit style

Update October 2012: Flubit is now live.

Flubit_Screenshot_1


The socialisation of the internet – Social Media World Forum

4 May 2011

Social Media World ForumMy colleague Fran Taylor has kindly allowed me to publish her notes from the Social Media World Forum in March. There are some excellent tips below.

Socialisation of the internet

–    Social media encourages mob or herd like mentality, which can be really negative. The panel gave examples of this in Japan where users of social networks are often anonymous.

–    You need to think about your business objectives first when using social media.

–    If you have a strong product and brand, people will be receptive to you online.

–    More controversially, traditional branding is ‘plastic’, i.e. it’s based on an ideal not a reality. Organisations have to accept that they won’t be perfect and that they’re made up of real people.

–    It’s important to accept that you can make mistakes if you want to be innovative.  Organisations need to remember the importance of ‘playing’.

–    If someone ‘likes’ you on Facebook it doesn’t mean that you’ve made it.  Someone needs to buy your product and give it a good review – this is the end goal, not a social media output.

–    Marketers can be too optimistic when reporting on success e.g. “I have x thousand followers’.  Again, success is in reaching your business goals, not just having fans on social media sites.

–    Quote of the session: “Being dull is a recipe for disaster.” From Joanne Jacobs, social media consultant.

–    Sites like Trip advisor are going to increasingly come into trouble with litigation, which may affect the credibility of review sites in the future.

–    Worryingly the representative from Facebook had no idea if the site was accessible for people with a disability. The panel agreed it needed to be higher on the agenda.

–    You don’t have to be innovative i.e. first to market.  It’s fine to be an ‘adapter’ i.e. to build and improve on what others do first.

–    We can’t move completely to crowd sourcing and social decision making in the future.  You still need leaders and experts.

Measuring reputation and monitoring social media activity

Reputation

Klout Logo–    The two main tools at the moment are Klout and Peer index.

–    Reputation measurement is still flawed through social media – you need to take these figures with a pinch of salt as they don’t reflect the full picture, although they can be useful.

–    Sites like Stack Overflow are being used for reputation scores in employing people in the tech industry.

–    It’s important to know who are the major tweeters and bloggers in your industry and engage with them.

Measuring activity

–    There are lots of agencies and products that could help us measure our social media activity.  Brandwatch, Synthesio UK to name a few.

–    It’s important to remember that monitoring agencies can’t access private content e.g. a lot of LinkedIn and Facebook.

–    Good quote: “In real life all good relationships start by listening.”  You need to know what you are listening to online and what types of conversations you want to monitor.

–    It’s important to collect qualitative as well as quantitative information.

–    Sampling can be effective.

–    Sentiment analysis is when you look at whether content is positive, neutral or negative.

–    If you have more sophisticated systems, they can link in to your CRM data.

–    Google alerts are misleading – they only pick up around 5% of content.

–    Free tools are ok but very limited.  You have to weigh up time spent vs. value.

–    Measurement is about outcomes and changes in behaviour.  People are not ‘avatars’ or ‘clicks’.

Where social media fits in an organisation and PR

–    It’s important to be clear who is accountable for activity, but no one can own social media.

–    Be clear about how you measure your activity and what your business goal is.

–    You can’t control, only follow and contribute.

–    You need to set guidelines for staff, coach and train them.  Focus on empowering them, again, rather than controlling.

–    Sometimes the line between PR and customer service can get blurred through social media.

–    It’s not about being ‘liked’ it’s about adding value.

Fran Taylor
http://twitter.com/#!/BL_Creative


Growing Knowledge – The Information and James Gleick

12 April 2011

Growing_KnowledgeWe have had a lot of interest since we opened Growing Knowledge in October – Growing Knowledge the Evolution of Research – the garden is open.

the_Information_James_CleickAnd tomorrow we are lucky to have James Gleick speaking at the library. He is the author of  The Information, a new book which shows how information has ‘become the modern era’s defining quality – the blood, the fuel, the vital principle of our world’.

The story of information begins in a time profoundly unlike our own, when every thought and utterance vanished as soon as it was born. From the invention of scripts and alphabets to the long misunderstood “talking drums” of Africa, James Gleick tells the story of information technologies that, he claims, changed the very nature of human consciousness.

He will explore where the age of information is taking us, swept along by a deluge of signs and signals, news and images, blogs and tweets.

John Naughton also interviewed him in the Observer last weekend.


Service without a smile scores 2 stars

5 April 2011
Seven Sisters - South Downs Way - Photo by Denise Infield

Seven Sisters - South Downs Way - Photo by Denise Infield

Having just returned from four days tramping along the South Downs Way along the Sussex coast, I am pleased to report that I managed to avoid thinking about work for almost the entire time.

However, two very different experiences as a customer reminded me of the importance of this aspect of business.

During our two days in the White Hart Hotel, one of the smarter hotels in Lewes, we only managed to get one smile and genuine interest of expression in us as customers.

This was in stark contrast to the The Star Alfriston, where every member of staff (even the room cleaner) was welcoming and friendly, and appeared to be genuinely concerned that our stay was a pleasant one.

So, even though the Star charged less for their rooms, our experience was at least twice as pleasurable. And of course, I will be happy to recommend this establishment to friends and family, whereas I will be suggesting they find an alternative place to stay in Lewes.

Having recently discovered Trip Advisor, I thought I would have quick look to see how the hotels ranked. The Star in Alfriston scored 4.5 stars out of five, on 56 reviews, while the White Hart scored 2 stars, on 101 reviews.

To quote Stan Lee, Nuff Said!


The Marketing Master Class – Social Media for Business

28 March 2011

Kimberly_DavisOnce again I was fortunate enough to be able to attend the second of Kimberly Davis‘ Marketing Masters Series, this time the hot topic of Social Media for Business. See Apprentice Kim and her Marketing Masters Series for my notes from the first.

Kimberly promised us eleven ways to turn free resources into powerful marketing and sales tools, and she certainly delivered, with additional excellent contributions from Warren Cass and Stefan Thomas.

Here are my notes from the day:

Definition of Social Media – A conversation between you and your customers (or potential customers).

Why you should use it:

  • ­    Powerful
  • ­    International
  • ­    Instant
  • ­    Connects people
  • ­    No barriers
  • ­    Viral
  • ­    Easy (you don’t need to be tech savvy)
  • ­    Is the future of marketing

Pre-Social Media customer experience sharing:
Good experience – shared with 3 people, Bad customer experience – shared with 9 people

Social Media connects you to the world.

22% of online time in the US is spent on Social Networking activities.

40 million tweets per day

20% of Twitter updates mention a business or brand

The Big Four are – YouTube, Twitter, Facebook, Linked In

Twitter – 190 users – more tech savvy and higher incomes
Facebook – 600 million – casual not business – B2C
Linked In – 90 million – more service based businesses.

Facebook

  • ­    Half of UK population is now on Facebook
  • ­    Average user has 130 friends
  • ­    90 items of content per month on average
  • ­    Gets more visits than Google, people asking friends they trust for recommendations
  • ­    25 fans enables you to get your own facebook domain address
  • ­    Friends activities are recorded on stats page
  • ­    Only .04% of adverts work on Facebook – compared to 8% on Google
  • ­    Wall post conversions work better
  • ­    Point your adverts to your Facebook page, not out of Facebook
  • ­    Set your keyword campaign to run for two days, then go back an use same words at a lower price

Twitter

  • ­    “The SMS of the Internet”
  • ­    58% of tweeps have +$60k income
  • ­    Mentions of you are visible
  • ­    Needs a better tech understanding
  • ­    Enables a direct link to people
  • ­    Search topics and see what people are saying
  • ­    You can brand your Twitter page
  • ­    Tools – tweepi.com, twitpic
  • ­    Hash tags – follow events and trending topics

Linked In

  • ­    Six degrees of Kevin Bacon
  • ­    Job searching
  • ­    Gatekeeper
  • ­    B2B
  • ­    Great SEO – at least put in your basic profile details
  • ­    Get recommendations for your business – much better than promoting yourself

YouTube

  • ­    Owned by Google
  • ­    Increases your SEO
  • ­    For people who like to learn by watching than reading
  • ­    Can use Flip or iPhone – cheap and easy

Research – Use Social Media to find out what are people saying about you and your competitors?
Surveys – Test – Feedback
Tools

  • ­    www.Uservoice.com
  • ­    www.Openmind.com
  • ­    www.Topsy.com
  • ­    www.Clueapp.com
  • ­    www.Surveymonkey.com

Build a database

  • ­    Lists, groups
  • ­    Get people to register their data
  • ­    Offer something for free in order to get people to sign up
  • ­    Don’t do it the wrong way – quality is more important than quantity
  • ­    www.getsatisfaction.com

Building your Brand

  • ­    Establish yourself as an expert – answer questions
  • ­    Have an opinion
  • ­    Loyalty
  • ­    Write articles and promote
  • ­    www.ezinearticles.com
  • ­    www.scribd.com
  • ­    What can you write about?
  • ­    What are you an expert on?

Trust is essential

  • ­    Your customers need to trust that you genuinely have their interest at heart.

The power of blogging

  • ­    Host guest bloggers who have lots of traffic
  • ­    Comment on popular blogs

Customer Service

  • ­    Monitor and respond to service issues
  • ­    Give support
  • ­    Answer questions
  • ­    Respond to people’s comments, good and bad
  • ­    People want to talk to people, not companies
  • ­    Tools
  • ­    CRM (Customer Relationship Management)
  • ­    Via http://www.CoTweet.com

Events and promotions

  • ­    Invite
  • ­    Register
  • ­    Contests
  • ­    Direct people to your website, blog, etc
  • ­    Fundraising via sites like http://www.kapipal.com
  • ­    Increase awareness of who you are and what you do
  • ­    ReTweet and Follow to enter

Networking

  • ­    Keep up to date with what everyone is doing
  • ­    Who moved
  • ­    Build relationships
  • ­    The world is listening
  • ­    Reach a wider audience

Referrals

  • ­    Introduce people to each other
  • ­    Pay it forward
  • ­    Recommendations – use in your marketing materials
  • ­    Like Amazon Book reviews

Recruitment and Refresh

  • ­    PR
  • ­    Create a buzz
  • ­    Viral Marketing
  • ­    What you say can go further than you think

Sales

  • ­    Promoting a sale. Launching a product
  • ­    Build rapport
  • ­    Today’s fans are tomorrow’s buyers
  • ­    Create a demand, teasers, new products etc
  • ­    Offer discounts

Create a Social Media Strategy

  • ­    What are you going to use social media for?
  • ­    Think long term
  • ­    Plan

Do you need a Social Media manager?

  • ­    Interns
  • ­    Assistance
  • ­    Virtual Assistants
  • ­    Outsourced Professionals
  • ­    Dual identities – business and personal

Tools

  • ­    www.tweetdeck.com
  • ­    www.hootsuite.com
  • ­    www.cotweet.com

Words of caution

  • ­    Facebook owns your photos – and changes the privacy rules regularly
  • ­    15 minutes in the morning and 15 minutes at night
  • ­    Friends don’t equal love
  • ­    Beware of bots
 

The Marketing Master Class

Social Media for Business

Kimberly Davies

 

 

Story of Sarsaparilla

 

Flash, fluff and fakers

 

11 ways to turn free resources into powerful marketing and sales tools

 

Definition – A conversation

 

Powerful:

International

Instant

Connects people

No barriers

Viral

Easy (you don’t need to be tech savvy)

Is the future of marketing

 

 

Pre social media customer experience sharing

Good = 3 people, Bad experience = 9 people

 

Social media connects you to the world.

 

22% of online time in the US is on social networking

 

40 million tweets per day

 

20% of Twitter updates mention a business or brand

 

The Big Four – YouTube, Twitter, Facebook, Linked In

 

Twitter – 190 users – more tech savvy and higher incomes

Facebook – 600 million – casual not business – B2C

Linked In – 90 million – more service based businesses.

 

Facebook

 

half of UK population is now on Facebook

average user has 130 friends

90 items of content per month on average

Gets more visits than Google, people asking friends they trust for recommendations

25 fans enables you to get your own facebook domain address

Friends activities are recorded on stats page

Only .04% of adverts work on Facebook – compared to 8% on Google

Wall post conversions work better

Point your adverts to your Facebook page, not out of Facebook

Set your keyword campaign to run for two days, then go back an use same words at a lower price

 

 

Twitter

“the SMS of the Internet”

58% of tweeps have +$60k income

Mentions of you are visible

Needs a better tech understanding

Enables a direct link to people

Search topics and see what people are saying

You can brand your Twitter page

Tools – tweepi.com, twitpic

Hash tags – follow events and trending topics

 

 

Linked In

Six degrees of Kevin Bacon

job searching

gatekeeper

B2B

Great SEO – at least put in your basic profile details

Get recommendations for your business – much better than promoting yourself

 

 

YouTube

owned by Google

increases your SEO

for people who like to learn by watching than reading

can use Flip or iPhone – cheap and easy

 

 

Research

Use Social Media to find out what are people saying about you and your competitors?

Surveys

Test

Feedback

Tools

www.Uservoice.com

www.Openmind.com

www.Topsy.com

www.Clueapp.com

www.Surveymonkey.com

 

 

Build a database

lists, groups

get people to register their data

offer something for free in order to get people to sign up

don’t do it the wrong way – quality is more important than quanitity

www.getsatisfaction.com

 

 

Building your Brand

establish yourself as an expert – answer questions

have an opinion

loyalty

write articles and promote

www.ezinearticles.com

www.scribd.com

What can you write about?

What are you an expert on?

 

 

Trust is essential

– Your customers need to trust that you genuinely have their interest at heart.

 

 

Warren Cass

www.warrencass.com

www.business-scene.com

 

Why you should Network Online

 

Examples of Will it Blend and United Breaks Guitars on YouTube

 

Useful tools

www.Tweeteck.com

 

 

The power of blogging

host guest bloggers who have lots of traffic

comment on popular blogs

 

 

Customer Service

 

Monitor and respond to service issues

Give support

Answer questions

Respond to people’s comments, good and bad

People want to talk to people, not companies

Tools

CRM (Customer Relationship Management)

Via www.CoTweet.com

 

 

 

Events and promotions

invite

register

contests

direct people to your website, blog, etc

fundraising via sites like www.kapipal.com

increase awareness of who you are and what you do

ReTweet and Follow to enter

 

 

Networking

Keep up to date with what everyone is doing

Who moved

Build relationships

The world is listening

Reach a wider audience

 

Referrals

Introduce people to each other

Pay it forward

Recommendations – use in your marketing materials

Like Amazon Book reviews

 

 

Recruitment and Refresh

 

PR

Create a buzz

Viral Marketing

What you say can go further than you think

 

Sales

Promoting a sale. Launching a product

Build rapport

Today’s fans are tomorrow’s buyers

Create a demand, teasers, new products etc

Offer discounts

 

Create a Social Media Strategy

What are you going to use social media for?

Think long term

Plan

Write 5 things you’d tweet today

 

Do you need a Social Media manager?

Interns

Assistance

Virtual Assistants

Outsourced Professionals

Dual identities – business and personal

 

 

Tools

www.tweetdeck.com

www.hootsuite.com

www.cotweet.com

 

 

Words of caution

Facebook owns your photos – and changes the privacy rules regularly

15 minutes in the morning and 15 minutes at night

Friends don’t equal love

Beware of bots

 

 

Stefan Thomas – www.noredbraces.co.uk

 

Story of being an estate agent, made redundant

Pathological fear of public speaking

 

Top tips for real and social networking success

Don’t sell to your audience

Passion and confidence

Be aware of what you want to say – don’t make it up on the fly – you wouldn’t do that for a brochure or advert

When you get to a one to one – still don’t sell – treat it like a first date

People don’t go into online forums to be sold to – so don’t do it – build up a relationship first

Don’t use social media for selling

Social networking complements person to person networking, it complements it and keeps them warm.

 

 


Green Metropolis – a million books to read again and again

21 March 2011

greenMetropolisThanks once again to Smarta.com for this inspiring business start-up story, this time featuring books (a subject close to my heart).

They have interviewed Barry Crow the founder of Green Metropolis about  how he came to develop the site using his redundancy pay.

What’s your background and how did you come up with the idea for the site? I’m originally from Newcastle and worked for British Airways as an IT developer. I moved to London for my job and went from a 4 bedroom house to a one bedroom flat. I’m an avid reader and had loads of paperbacks. If people have space, their books go under the bed or on the shelf. I had no space and had to de-clutter everything. So I started giving them away to charity shops. 

I went through pretty much the same process; I would buy a new book every month, read it and then drop it off in a charity shop.  But I could never find books there I wanted to buy. If I had just finished a James Patterson, then I would want to read another one. But if the charity shop didn’t have it I would have to go to Waterstones and buy a new one.

After a while I just thought: this is crazy; there must be a better way to do this. That was the beginnings of the idea but I didn’t look at it properly until I lost my job.


How many people use the site?

We have about 100,000 members.

We started with 1,000 books in stock which were mostly mine, and a few of my friends. We have about a million second-hand books in stock now. Some members still buy books brand new, because they have to have it, but within a week they’ve read it and will post it on the site


What sets you aside from sites like Amazon or even eBay?

Our site is more like a book club; it’s a community doing it to benefit each other. It’s for people who want to share their books with each other and at the same time raise money for a good cause. It adds to the whole feel-good factor of the site.

When you join us, you get an online account and every time you sell, you can either have the money refunded to you or use it buy new books.

Everyone should benefit, whether buying or selling, and ideally, we want our sellers to have enough credit from sales to buy their next one on the site without ever needing to use a credit card.

What’s been the biggest challenge?

I think probably promoting the site. I have no experience with the marketing side of things. My background is computers and IT, so I didn’t have a problem with the technical side of the site. But I suppose I naively thought after 6 months that once we had a great website, people would naturally come to it.

Like I said, we’ve never advertised it, and it’s been a very slow process. I started off and it was just me and I massively underestimated the time it takes to do everything.

Where do you see the site in five years time?

I would like GreenMetropolis.com to be the main ethical alternative to Amazon for second hand and charity books. For myself, I would like to work a little less, so that I can read a little more.


Teenagers teaching Silver Surfers the web way

25 February 2011

http://www.sxc.hu/photo/1204276Once again my local paper has its finger on the pulse of social and business change. Although, once again their headline writer hasn’t exactly hit the jackpot – ‘Youngsters take Infernal Trouble out of IT for mature students.’

According to the Middy ‘For many people IT stands only for Infernal Trouble and The Web is somewhere unsuspecting technophobes get trapped.’

I would be more inclined to say that for many older people, Windows are something they prefer to open in order to let in fresh air, and the Web is something they get tangled up in all to easily.

The article is actually about a group of teenagers at Oakmeeds Community College in Burgess Hill, who run a weekly class for that growing population over Silver Surfers (The growing grey market in the UK). Interestingly the club is funded by the local Business Enterprise, so it will be interesting to see how many of these mature students are aspiring Grey Entrepreneurs.

I love the way this story goes against the usual media stereotyping of teenagers as rude and lazy, by showing them in such a positive light, using their skills and knowledge by empowering older generations to take advantage of this revolutionary technology.

It’s not all one way traffic either. According to 15 year old Lloyd Passingham, ‘I really enjoy helping at the club. It feels really good to know that something I’ve learnt, I’m passing on to someone else’.


The Power of Social Media – an Inspiring Entrepreneurs evening

10 February 2011

Web in Feb logoAs part of the Inspiring Entrepreneurs series and in conjunction with Social Media Week, the British Library hosted The Power of Social Media last night, to show how small businesses can enhance social media to engage with their customers and reach new markets.

I am grateful to my colleague Michael Pattinson for writing this report on the evening:

The event was sold out and also streamed live at Southampton University and New York Public Library.  As befitting an event about social media, there was also a live blog at www.businesszone.co.uk as well as a live Twitter feed.

The guest speakers included Fraser Docherty, founder of Superjam, Ian Hogarth, CEO and co-founder of Songkick.com, Rory Cellan-Jones, the BBC technology correspondent and Justine Roberts, co-founder of Mumsnet.

The event was hosted by Matthew Rock of Real Business magazine.  He began by telling the audience how useful social media has been for his own business, Caspian Publishing.

FraserFirst up was Fraser Docherty of Superjam.  Fraser proved to be a very engaging and funny speaker.  He told us how he started making jam, based on his grandmother’s recipes when he was fourteen, selling it door to door and at farmers markets before securing a deal with Waitrose.  Social media and blogging provided him with a cheap and easy way to publicise his brand and communicate with his customers.

According to Fraser, one of his proudest achievements has been setting up a charity which runs tea parties for the elderly.  So far, there have been tea parties so far but he believes social media can help him create thousands of similar events around the country.

IanThe next speaker was Ian Hogarth who set up the website Songkick.com, which allows members of the public to match their music interests to the site and then receive alerts when their favourite bands are playing.  The site uses a “robot” which scours the Internet for concert and gig information.

Ian made the point that everything on the web is media and everything good on the web is social.  He said: “Good ideas spread faster than ever before – that’s an amazing thing for entrepreneurs, how the barriers of entry are changing.”

Ian talked of the importance of motivating and exciting your audience by emphasising the value of your product or service.  He also talked about how the internet had blurred the lines between product and marketing and how his product manager is effectively his marketing manager thanks to social media.

Ian had recently returned from a trip to LA and recommended that any start-ups using social media needed to spend some time in Silicon Valley because their ideas about social media were so advanced.

RoryNext up was the BBC’s technology correspondent Rory Cellan-Jones.  Rory has witnessed first hand how social media, especially Twitter, has revolutionised news reporting.  He used an example of the earthquake in Qinghai province in China last year which was reported on Twitter before it appeared on any other news media.

Rory had some amusing anecdotes of the pitfalls of using social media – his advice:  don’t say anything on Twitter you wouldn’t say in normal conversation!  However, he brushed aside criticisms that social media is killing the art of conversation and social interaction saying that these same criticisms were made about the telephone and email.

Justine RobertsThe last speaker was Justine Roberts from Mumsnet, the massively popular website for mums (and the occasional dad) with a phenomenal 1.2 million visitors each month.

She emphasised how social media was so effective in providing a discussion forum which can be so much more effective in selling a product than traditional advertising.  She also talked of the potential dangers of going viral with silly publicity stunts which have a habit of backfiring but her main message was listen and engage, don’t stifle debate.  She also said that you should relinquish control and let yourself go!

A Q&A session followed and some interesting issues were raised by members of the audience such as online privacy and how do you protect your intellectual property.  The speakers all agreed that you can’t expect privacy as social media is a public space.  As far as Intellectual Property is concerned, you can’t stop people from copying your ideas, you just have to provide the best forum and the most recognisable brand.  As Justine Roberts said: “this is the internet, you can’t put up walls. We don’t stop our users recommending competitor websites.”

Other issues raised by questions included how social media can be used to help B2B companies and where social media is going in the future.  Rory Cellan-Jones felt that despite the dominance of Facebook, there was still room for vertical specialist social networks and that social media was blurring the lines between B2C and B2B.

You can read the live blog replay at http://www.businesszone.co.uk/topic/marketing-pr/live-blog-power-social-media/32776

The event was also filmed and highlights will be appearing on the BIPCTV YouTube channel shortly.


What is the Business & IP Centre doing with social media?

31 January 2011

WebinFeb logoWe are just one day away from our Web in Feb month of Social Media activities, where you can;

* Navigate the world of social media and make it work for you
* Get your site noticed by Google
* Write a blog, record a podcast, set up a website
* Avoid the legal pitfalls of doing business online
* Translate the jargon and gain the confidence to use the web effectively.

Frances Taylor who manages our Social Media activities here in the Business & IP Centre has kindly agreed to be interviewed about what we have been up to.

What is the Business & IP Centre doing with social media?
We have a presence on Facebook, LinkedIn, YouTube, Flickr and Twitter as well as more niche social network sites like UnLtdWorld (for social enterprises) and Smarta (for entrepreneurs).

Over the last few years we have also had fun experimenting with video, podcasts, webcasts and wikis, to find new ways of helping our customers find business information and advice.  This week we’re looking into Quora, a new Q&A social network.

We have a full list of the sites we have a presence on.

How do you decide which social media channels to use?
Our target audience for the Business & IP Centre includes entrepreneurs and small businesses; we researched which social media channels they use and focused on these.  Entrepreneurs are increasingly using social media to network, promote their products and engage with their customers. To gain the most impact, we also focused on the bigger, more popular social networking sites, due to their potential reach.

To be honest, it has also been a case of experimenting and seeing what works. All the social media sites have proved useful to us in different ways:

–    Facebook has helped us to spread the word about our events programme and provides a group space for entrepreneurs to network. One of our proudest social media moments was when we advertised an event via Facebook and it filled within three hours.

–    LinkedIn is a place for quality business discussions and networking with other professionals.

–    YouTube has helped us to raise awareness of our ‘Inspiring Entrepreneurs’ events and take advantage of all the Library’s high-profile speakers, from Stelios to Lord Sugar.

–    Twitter has become one of the most important sites to the Centre.  As well as helping us to spread the word about our services, it helps us to stay in touch with our partners, case studies and customers and find out about all the latest issues. It’s the place to go for small business news.

How do you measure the effectiveness of your social media activity?
Social media is notoriously difficult to evaluate, however these are the things we aim to measure:

–    Number of followers/ people engaged with our brand
–    Number of quality conversations/ interactions
–    Qualitative examples of how we have engaged with customers via social media
–    Referrals to our website
–    Number of people that use our service as a result of social media sites
–    Time and resource spent to implement.

It’s important to constantly evaluate the effectiveness of your social media activity, particularly since it can be quite time consuming.

Do you have any tips for entrepreneurs looking to use social media for their business?
Definitely. I’d recommend the following:
–    Think carefully about who your target audience is, and then work out what social media sites they use, and what for.
–    You don’t have to be everywhere – it’s better to have a strong presence on one social network than to spread yourself too thinly.
–    A lot of social media sites revolve around sharing content and information.  Think about what content and expertise you have that you can share with others, from tips to video content and ‘behind the scenes’ photos.
–    Social media is all about interacting with others. Make sure that you spend time listening and engaging with everyone online, rather than just promoting yourself.
–    You can stay informed of the latest trends in social media and digital marketing through sites like Mashable and econsultancy.


Apprentice Kim and her Marketing Masters Series

31 January 2011

Kimberly_DavisLast week I was fortunate enough to attend the first of Kimberly Davis‘ (a contestant on the 2009 series of the Apprentice), Marketing Masters Series.

The day on Marketing Foundations was an excellent overview of how to market and promote your business, and ended with an inspiring talk from author and motivational speaker, Brad (Get Off Your Arse) Burton.

Here are my notes from the day:

Marketing Masters Series – Marketing Foundations – Tuesday 18 January 2011, London

Definition
–    The external perception of your company
–    Anything and everything your company does

Difference between sales and marketing
–    Marketing is long-term and has a slow build
–    Sales is short-term is about converting interest into sales
–    The Ying and Yang of business – requires different personality types

The Marketing Umbrella

1. Research
–    Necessary, even for a local business
–    Understand your customers
–    Understand your competitors – strengths, weakness, prices
–    Work out your USP – what is going to make you truly unique – ‘we provide excellent customer service’ won’t cut it.

2. Branding – the promise you make to your customers
–    Think of one word that represents your business. E.g. Volvo = safety, Rolls Royce = luxury
–    The devil is in the detail. Example of the five days of training Kimberly was required to take before her first day in a Pier 1 store in New York.
–    Create a brand book for your business

3. Writing and editing
–    KISS – keep it simple stupid
–    If your product is good, it will speak for itself – it won’t need to be hyped up
–    Use the reverse pyramid approach to writing – the most important words first – the most important points at the top

4. Develop the perfect elevator pitch
–    Not a list of what you can do
–    or an advert
–    You need to catch the interest of your ‘victim’.
–    E.g. My name is xxx and my company is xxx and we do xxx for xxx
–    Leave them intrigued and wanting to know more

5. PR vs Advertising
–    PR is what other people say about you
–    Advertising is what you say about you
–    If you do use advertising, make sure it includes a call to action. E.g discount coupon.
–    Remember the two second attention span of your audience
–    Keep to the moto – less is more
–    Word of mouth advertising is the best you can get. Examples of the Body Shop, Starbucks and Molton Brown – they don’t use adverts

6. Mailshots
–    Flyers are only any use for local businesses
–    Use them with incentives such as coupons

7. Print and production
–    Quality is important, as it reflects your quality. Example of ENO poster for Carmen

8. Merchandising
–    Makes money for you while you sleep – don’t use ‘chockeys’

9.  Events and promotions
–    Make sure you brand is maintained. E.G Ben & Jerry’s Sundae on the Common event

10. Sponsorship and Partners
–    Are there partners who fit well with your business?

11. Online Marketing
–    Purpose – to lead your customers to call you for more information
–    Build your database by giving something for free
–    Three tiers of website design (it is unlikely one person can do all):
o    Design
o    Construction
o    E-commerce
–    Seach Engine Optimisation (SEO)
o    Links
o    Articles
o    Key words
o    Blogs

12. Video and Multimedia
–    Mobile applications (Aps)
–    Presentations
–    POP (Point of Purchase)
–    Promotional videos (easy to record using modern technology) – use it show experience of person, product, service
–    DVD’s
–    Media

13. Social Media – How can social media help my business? (lots of people signed up, but only half on a daily basis)
Use for:
Research – Sales – Database (new contacts) – Customer Service – PR – Events and Promotion – VIP contacts – Networking – Referrals – Recruitment

14. Customer Service
–    examples of good and bad service

15. Create a Marketing Plan
–    ‘if you fail to plan, you can plan to fail’ – unknown
–    Architects, sailors etc

16. Create a System that helps your business – e.g. Event booking, emailing
–    Don’t make people wait
–    Automated system
–    Work smarter, not harder

17. Put together your dream team
–    Don’t try and do everything yourself
–    Surround yourself by experts you can trust

18. Get professional advice from someone who has done it
–    Smarta
–    British Library Business & IP Centre
–    Business Links

19. Network
–    test your elevator pitch
–    80 percent of business comes from networking
–    Pay forward relationships

20. Measure, measure, measure
–    It’s vital to know what’s working and what’s not
–    Use different promotional codes to track success
–    Surveys – e.g. Survey Monkey

Example of a very expensive mistake
–    Don’t cut marketing spend as it is a false economy
–    Don’t try and do everything yourself
–    You need to invest in your business – are you investing in holidays?
–    If you don’t have the time to do it right, then you must have the time to do it over again
–    Compare the cost of doing to the cost of not doing
–    You must be willing to make a financial commitment to your business


A role model small business website

30 December 2010

Some time ago I was helping Lubna Ahmad who had come into the Business & IP Centre to generate customer contact lists.

She provides hand and foot Reflexology and Indian head massage to corporate and personal clients. As a big fan of Reflexology for nearly ten years now, I was keen to help her promote her business using the web and social media.

As we talked, I could see that not only did she have a well designed and well informed website, she was also making use of Facebook, LinkedIn, Twitter and blogs.

Understanding that many potential customers won’t have heard of Reflexology or Indian head massage, Lubna introduces and explains their benefits:

What is Reflexology?
Reflexology is the technique of applying gentle to firm pressure to the reflexes on the hands or feet in order to bring about a state of deep relaxation, stimulate the body’s own healing processes and help a person return to a state of balance and well-being.  Reflex points in the hands and feet correspond to different parts of the body and by stimulating these points reflexology opens up energy pathways and encourages the body to function efficiently and release any harmful toxins which have accumulated.

What is Indian head massage?
Indian head massage can help to relax, soothe or invigorate the recipient. It is a treatment that involves the therapist using their hands to knead, rub and squeeze the head, neck, shoulders and arms. We use Western Indian Head Massage, which is a dry treatment and does not include the use of oils.

Benefits
For foot reflexology:
– Total relaxation
– A sense of wellbeing
– Improved blood circulation
– Clears the body of toxins
– Balances the body systems
– Preventive healthcare
– Hormonal imbalance
– Back pains
– Moodswings & anxiety
– Digestive disorders
– Fluid retention
and the list goes on!

For Indian head massage:
– Promotes total relaxation
– Gives a sense of well-being & calmness
– Increases blood circulation to the head, neck & shoulders
– Helps stimulate hair growth
– Eases fatigue & improves concentration
– Relieves stiffness in the neck & shoulders
– Helps relieve eye-strain
– Eases headaches
– Aids in detoxification of the body
– Helps with irritability
– Breaks down fibrositic nodules (knots)
– Triggers off endorphins, which creates contentment

Even more impressive was the fact that she had created the impressive website herself (no easy task for the un-initiated). She built her Reflex Space site using the popular free (six million and counting) WIX service, which uses Flash to simplify the process.

In order to remove the WIX adverts you have to pay a monthly fee.  WIX do not host your site, they provide you design tools to help you make it.


Business tips from Father Christmas: The festive entrepreneur pops into Smarta HQ for a little chat

17 December 2010

Trust Smarta to go to the ‘main man’ for advice at this time of year. Yes, they have tracked down Father Christmas and videoed his top four business tips.

Interesting to hear that he has adopted Sat-Nav to help Rudolf find those tricky addresses.

In summary his key points to remember are:

1. Cash flow – lack of it is still the number one business killer.

2. Make your business and brand special so it stands out from the competition.

3. Use social media to spread the message and interact with customers.

4. Try to keep your staff motivated and happy.


Smarta’s – Five top tips on selling online at Christmas

13 December 2010

Once again Smarta have their finger on the pulse of enterprise with their Five top tips on selling online at Christmas.

Having purchased the majority of my presents online this year for the first time, I tend to agree that this mode of shopping is becoming key to business.

 

Online shoppers in the UK are expected to spend £162bn per year on internet purchases by the end of 2020. This burgeoning market is one that small businesses should not ignore. Thomas Vollrath, CEO of 123reg, has these top tips for online businesses looking to boost their internet sales over Christmas.

With the festive season fast approaching, setting up an online shop now can enable a business to take advantage of the 85% of UK consumers planning to spend money online this Christmas.

While many people shop online today, customers still have concerns about being caught out by fake websites and counterfeit goods. This concern is heightened even further at Christmas as people make larger, multiple purchases.

Therefore, a business must plan carefully to allay customers’ concerns by providing an online shop that embodies security, trust, reliability and good service: values that are central to online shoppers. A businesses online reputation is just as important as a real world one; a lack of the values above can result in a lost sale or leave a bad impression of a business’ brand.

The reverse is true, and businesses that that provide reliable, secure sites can expect to gain trust and long-term loyalty from festive shoppers. Because of this, its essential businesses that are thinking of setting up an online shop are aware of the these handy tips to make the most out of the Christmas season.

Here are some top tips when selling online at Christmas:

1. Businesses selling online need to build trust with users by displaying contact numbers throughout their site. This shows there is somebody to talk to should a customer encounter a problem. Businesses can expect to receive more enquiries during the festive season, so they must be aptly prepared to deal with this. It’s also important to encourage feedback, as this makes customers feel valued and can add to a business’ services.

2. Festive shoppers are likely to make larger multiple purchases, so need to be reassured that confidential information given online is safe. This can be done by displaying security accreditation, such as an SSL certificate which verifies that the site is legitimate and hosted on a secure server. Businesses should also offer money-back guarantees if possible, and terms and conditions should be written in plain English and be visible on the site.

3. Christmas purchases are often done with someone else in mind, so the buyer may be somewhat unsure of the product they are ordering. Because of this, businesses must be really transparent when it comes to their goods, with photos of the products being sold included, alongside detailed descriptions and clear pricing.

4. Customers are more likely to buy from a site if they can relate to the person behind the webpage, and this is even more so during the festive season when shoppers must make choices between a number of etailers. Adding pictures, videos and a blog to a website will give customers an insight into a business and help to build rapport, which can turn into custom.

5. With so many online retailers selling similar wares, be sure to research your competition. It’s as easy as running a simple Google search. This will help you to set your price points and compete on extras such as postage and speed of despatch. But don’t make the mistake of undercutting your rivals too much. While you might generate more sales, the reduced margins could hit your business later.

With people already beginning their Christmas shopping, now is the ideal time for a business to be pro-active and get online.

Businesses which remember the best practice tips above could find that an online shop adds to their business by extending their ability to achieve awareness, lasting customer loyalty and increased sales, during the festive season and beyond.


British Library’s main twitter feed has 100,000 followers

8 November 2010

twitter logoThere may be those who think The British Library shouldn’t be engaging with Social Media.

There’s always something uncomfortable about watching an ancient institution when it comes over all entrepreneurial; there’s usually something dad-at-the-disco about it. The Register

But, according to recent statistics from one of my web colleagues, the Library’s main twitter feed recently passed the milestone of 100,000 followers.

This is up from just 6,000 earlier this year. Apparently this makes us the 123rd most followed twitter feed in the UK – a few paces ahead of the Guardian, a few places behind the Mayor of London.

Not bad for an oldie 😉

@adrian-arthur: Over the weekend, the Library’s main twitter feed passed the milestone of 100,000 followers – up from just 6,000 earlier this year. We’ve the 123rd most followed twitter feed in the UK – a few paces ahead of the Guardian, a few places behind the Mayor of London. So there you have it!@adrian-arthur: Over the weekend, the Library’s main twitter feed passed the milestone of 100,000 followers – up from just 6,000 earlier this year. We’ve the 123rd most followed twitter feed in the UK – a few paces ahead of the Guardian, a few places behind the Mayor of London. So there you have it!