Growing Knowledge the Evolution of Research – the garden is open

29 October 2010

Our Growing Knowledge – the Evolution of Research was officially opened by Andrew Miller MP, Chair of the Science and Technology Committee last week.

Over the next nine months, we will be using a dedicated exhibition to explore what technological tools will shape the library’s future research facilities.

The exhibition aims to challenge visitors on how research is changing and ask what you want to experience from the library of the future.

I have volunteered to be a guide to the exhibition so do drop by and say hello.

Working with hardware partner HP and software partner Microsoft, the library is showcasing a range of research tools, including a prototype of Sony’s RayModeler 360-degree Autostereoscopic Display that uses gesture control to view static and moving 3D images and video.

At the end of the Growing Knowledge exhibition, the British Library will evaluate the tools and decide which have been most useful for researchers – a term the library uses to describe anyone using its resources.

Richard Boulderstone, CIO at the British Library, explained: “It’s about trying to explore what tools and services we should provide for researchers in future. What is the future of the library? What tools, spaces, technologies should we provide for researchers?”

Clive Izard, head of creative services at the British Library, added: “We are evaluating the way researchers will work in an area that is not hushed and quiet – where people will be more collaborative physically.

“At the end [of the exhibition] we will produce a report. JISC [independent advisory body providing advice on ICT use to higher education] is going to take the findings and incorporate them into our services.”

The exhibition, which is running on a thin client solution, is testing everything from monitor set-up – from a single touch screen monitor to four standard monitors – to audio search software developed by Microsoft.

These tools, which include map rectification software that reshapes old maps over current maps, and a Jane Austen’s Fiction Manuscripts tool that enables users to digitally delve into Austen’s handwritten manuscripts, will be alternated with other ones in the British Library’s portfolio over the nine months.

Researchers can also experiment with a Microsoft Surface Table, on which the British Library is showing an interactive, digital version of the world’s longest painting, the 19th century Garibaldi Panorama. A set of dials, developed with (University College London (UCL), also measures Twitter activity across nine capital cities.

The Growing Knowledge exhibition will run until 16 July 2011.

Growing Knowledge – the Evolution of Research is open

Growing Knowledge – the Evolution of Research has been officially opened by Andrew Miller MP, Chair of the Science and Technology Committee.

Showcasing some never-seen-before research tools, thought-provoking content and futuristic design in a fully interactive research environment, the exhibition aims to challenge our audiences on how research is changing and ask what they want to experience from the library of the future.

For more information watch this You Tube video for interviews with Library staff and further details about the exhibition.

Reuters have also produced a video piece on the exhibition.

Twitter eBook from Smarta

26 July 2010

In the last few days several friends and relatives have been asking me about Twitter. Some are just curious, others are more hostile, and want me to justify this latest Internet intrusion into their consciousness.

Thank goodness those wonderful people at Smarta have come up with a solution in the form of their free Twitter eBook.

I am hoping they won’t mind me summarising some of the book’s key points here, although I would thoroughly recommend you download the pdf and keep a copy close to hand.

It comes down to T.A.T. – Time, Attention and Trust. These three things dominate the landscape of our personal and business lives. Someone has shifted the world up a gear and stuck their foot hard on the accelerator. We’re all doing more with less, we need to take in and absorb so much information, to keep up. As a result, traditional marketing is finding it harder to cut through: prospects are distracted, busy in their own world, occupied by their own challenges of how they blend work and home.

But before you get into Twitter, there are some things you should know. It won’t happen overnight. In social media terms, return on investment (ROI) translates into return on engagement (ROE), starting today doesn’t mean profits tomorrow. Think of engagement more like a courtship, a series of interactions, that will lead to you developing a relationship with someone over time, ultimately which may lead to a sales marriage. It’s a long term investment for most, not a quick killing.
Phil Jones – UK Sales and Marketing director of Brother – @PhilJones40

The real-time effect of Twitter opens up a whole new world of business opportunities for us all and we need to prepare ourselves to be ready for them. When I recently needed a party company to supply (at short notice) a children’s Easter egg hunt, I didn’t search Google, I tweeted. Three companies replied to me with links to their websites, swiftly followed up by some of their followers’ testimonials. Google’s great, but personal recommendation rules.
Shaa Wasmund – Founder of Smarta –

“Twitter is a chance to be yourself and give a human voice to your business. It creates intimacy and friendliness more than anything, and that’s what so many businesses struggle with online. Talk to your followers – invest a bit of time in reading their tweets and commenting on what they’re doing. Next time, they’ll remember you rather than going to a competitor.”

Twitter is not the right channel for direct sales, but it will help grow your customer base and build your brand – which means it’s good for indirect sales in the longterm. Used effectively, Twitter can help you:
•    Develop a more personal, engaged and sustained relationship with customers
•    Grow your customer base
•    Get the attention of people interested in your industry or your work
•    Publicise your business
•    Build your brand
•    Track what other people think about your business, products and industry
•    Grow your personal network of contacts and develop business relationships
•    Cold-contact and market to people without annoying them
•    Drive more traffic to your website or blog
•    Position yourself as an expert in your field by sharing news and information relevant to your business and by answering questions
•    Provide amazing customer service in a really easy way
•    Keep ahead of the latest industry news and events
•    Position your business as up-to-date and in-touch, for being on Twitter
•    Provide customers with details of special offers, new products and other news you have
•    Develop and test products and services your customers want
•    Pinpoint customer locations to within a 20-mile radius

Here are some basic ground rules for success:
•    Only tweet 120 characters or less, so others can RT you.
•    It’s OK to tweet occasionally if you’re having a cup of coffee, but if you’re a plumber focus on tweeting links to useful websites offering tips on how to stop a leaky tap.
•    Provide information, insight and opinion.
•    Be helpful. Answer questions where you can.
•    Tweets with links in them are more popular than those without.

As something of a late adopter of Social Media Marketing activities myself I can relate to the negative comments I often come across. My current response is that even if you don’t like it, the simple truth is that it works, and will generate business for you. The Smarta eBook has a page on Dolan Bikes, showing how they grew their Twitter following from seven to more than 500, and have sold 12 bikes worth between £1,000 and £3,500 on the back of their Twitter activity. As they say, in business – money talks.

It comes down to T.A.T. – Time, Attention
and Trust. These three things dominate
the landscape of our personal and
business lives. Someone has shifted
the world up a gear and stuck their foot
hard on the accelerator. We’re all doing
more with less, we need to take in and
absorb so much information, to keep
up. As a result, traditional marketing
is finding it harder to cut through:
prospects are distracted, busy
in their own world, occupied by
their own challenges of how
they blend work and home.

Still some tickets left for the Power of Social Media event

29 June 2010

Our rescheduled event on Thursday, The power of social media still still has a few tickets left if you are quick.

The age of the social-media entrepreneur has arrived. So whether you have a business idea for a new online community or want practical advice on deploying Facebook, Twitter and LinkedIn to access your target market, this will be an invaluable evening.

Sarah Beeny is a Channel 4 television presenter and entrepreneur. As well as being a well established property mogul Sarah also owns social dating website, has written numerous books, and has recently launched, her new free-to-use property website.

Will King, founder of shaving brand King of Shaves,, went from a career in sales and marketing to starting his own business. The King of Shaves brand has overtaken Wilkinson Sword and Nivea to become number two to Gillette in the shaving prep market in the UK, and the products are also taking off in the USA where they are now being sold in over 20,000 stores.

Shaa Wasmund launched in 2009: an innovative business platform providing free advice, networking and tools for entrepreneurs and business owners. Bringing business people together for support and inspiration, Smarta has hundreds of entrepreneur videos and bite-size guides on overcoming business challenges.

Moderator: Guy Levine is founder and CEO of Return On Digital, a leading digital marketing agency. With a history of successful dot com start-ups and an impressive global client list, he has digital running through his veins.
Event details

Who should attend? Entrepreneurs and small businesses
Place: British Library Conference Centre
Cost: £10.00 (concessions £7.50)
How to Book: To book, contact our Box Office on tel: 01937 546546 or book your tickets online
Event dates Thu 01 July 2010, 18.15 – 21.00

Fifty thousand visits and counting –

23 June 2010

The two and a half years since I became an ‘accidental blogger’ have flown by. And I find it amazing that over fifty thousand visits have now been made to the site, with the weekly number gradually increasing as time has gone by.

Today by chance WordPress (who host my blog) announced they have passed the two hundred million milestone for posts on their service, 200,000,000 Posts… and Counting. I suppose my 368 posts have played their part in this spectacular number.

Here are my top ten visited pages:

Home page – 27,827
The not so simple paper clip3,063
Design classics – the Bic Crystal ballpo1,989
British Standard for a cup of tea – BS 61,328
More interesting facts about paper clips 1,191
About Me
You can’t afford not to be green
Aga goes Web 2.0
Will Chat Roulette change the fabric of
Panaramio for the outside and inside vie

Site Summary – Visits
Total – 51,389
Average per Day – 151
Average Visit Length – 0:14
This Week – 1,056

Anthony Lau presents our new virtual tour of the Business & IP Centre

22 June 2010

I’ve already written about Anthony Lau and his Cyclehoop success story. He kindly agreed to be filmed for our latest video which is something of a virtual tour of the Business & IP Centre.

Anthony goes from locking his bike onto one of his award-winning Cyclehoops, to crossing our rather intimidating piazza and then on to register for a free reader’s pass for The British Library. He then explores the Centre itself and talks about the range of information and services we offer.

I was asked to be an extra during the filming, but only my elbow seems to have made it into the final cut.

I would be interested to know how useful you think the video is.

Mastering Google AdWords and Pay per Click

9 June 2010

Lucidica_logoYet another excellent workshop today by Lucidica founder and Chief Technology Officer (CTO) Thomas Jeffs. This time exploring the world of Google AdWords and Pay-Per-Click Advertising. I have known a bit about these for a while now, in particular their importance to website promotion. But, couldn’t face the effort of getting stuck in on my own. Now I feel I have a really good understanding. Here are my notes from the workshop:

Introduction to Pay per Click

Google and every other search engine makes their money through advertising.

You can spend time working your way up the ‘natural’ search results, or short-cut your way to the to the top by paying via AdWords.

Tom warned that we should not ignore Yahoo and Bing, but also be aware that Google dominates search with over 80% of the market.

The first and most important job is to choose keywords you want associated with your site and decide on your budget. Once your daily budget has gone (pay per click), your advert disappears. Known as pay per action model.

Almost the entire source of Google’s advertising income is pay per click.

Costs are calculated dynamically based on a bidding auction system. You set your maximum bid. You can tell how popular search terms are by how many appear under sponsored section after a Google search.

It’s like bidding on a wardrobe in an auction – the maximum you may be willing to pay could be £1,000, but if no one bids above £600, you’ll get the wardrobe for £605. The difference here is that you have to tell the auctioneer upfront.

Pay per Click Statistics

A combination of marketing and statistics skills required, so you may need to get help with one or the other.

There are eight key metrics:

  1. Impressions – simply how many times your advert appears (not how many times the adword term was searched for).
  2. Clicks – how many times someone clicked on your link (compare to impressions above).
  3. Click Through Rate (CTR) – clicks divided by impressions
  4. Average Position – Position your advert appears when it is clicked on. Includes pages one and two.
  5. Maximum Cost per Click – directly impacts your position on results page and the number of clicks you get. Google help you find out how much you could expect to pay.
  6. Average Cost per Click – depends on what you competitors are bidding.
  7. Cost per Thousand (CPM) – the cost you are paying on your advert per 1,000 impressions (not clicks).
  8. Advert Quality – Marked out of 10. A woolly metric that Google measures on:
  • Advert relevance – your keywords, and to the landing page on your site
  • Historical performance  – of the ad and your account overall
  • Other relevant factors – basically anything Google wants

Getting more complicated

Google try to make things easier for you, but this can have negative consequences


  • Phrase matching – examples
  • Broad matching – examples
  • Broad matching is the default setting within an AdWords campaign
  • Can go badly wrong – Mulesource example – AdWords account records from Mulesource, the San Francisco-based open source outfit that has spent close to $90,000 on the ad system since November 2006, show the unpredictability of broad matches. When the company bids on a word like “mule,” Google may broad match on “muele,” “mula,” “mula spain,” “mulapelada,” “riding mules for sale,” “trainer mules,” and “yamaha mules.” And the list goes on. Google’s riches rely on ads, algorithms, and worldwide confusion

Content Network

  • Where your ads are displayed on other websites:
  • GoogleMail
  • National Newspapers
  • Your competitors
  • Anyone operating Adscence

Google will try to match the content of the ad (or keywords) with the content of the page.

CTR and CPC is usually much lower than standard Google

The default setting for the content network is on.

Can go badly wrong – example of Air France crash and Virgin ad

Matching and Content Network

  • Sometimes they work – i.e. get a higher return on investment
  • Sometimes the don’t – they cause a lower Ad Quality so lower return on investment

Ad Quality

  • Score given by Google out of 10 – high good, low bad
  • Check monthly at the least


  • The historical Click Through Rate of the keyword and the matched ad on Google
  • Your account history, measured by the CTR of all the ads and keywords in your account
  • The historical CTR for he Display URLs in the ad group
  • The quality of your landing page (target URL)
  • The relevance of the keyword to the ads in its ad group
  • The relevance of the keywords and the matched ad to the search query
  • Your account’s performance in the geographical region where the ad will be shown
  • Other relevance factors

What your Ad Quality impacts:

  • The lower the Ad Quality, the higher your Cost per Click will be
    • Ad Rank = Max. CPC x Quality Score
    • Actual CPC = (Ad Rank to beat divided by Quality Score) + $0.01
  • So if you have a low Ad Quality you can be paying up to 10 times your nearest competitor and still appear below them on a search result.
  • Affects your Ad position
  • Your Cost per Click
  • And in some cases… whether your ad appears at all
  • Low Ad Quality needs to be addressed or the ad removed before it damages the rest of your accounts

Measuring your return on investment

Define your goals

  • Should be the first thing you do with PPC
  • Good Goals
    • Visitor completing a sale
    • Visitor requesting further information
    • Visitor reaching the ‘contact us’ page
  • Bad Goals
    • I want to increase profit by more than spend
  • Ugly Goals
    • I want to increase traffic to my website


  • record your traffic – if you haven’t got a good website statistics package keep your spend low until you do
  • Google Analytics is very good for trends and integration with AdWords
  • You can define pages as goals and then display AdWords campaigns within you Analytics account.
  • It will show you not just ‘conversions’, but also how your campaign performs against the rest of the site traffic.
  • Stats packages can track your customers entire route through your website
  • Especially whether they bought or left
  • Define your goals as completions:
    • Order confirmation pages – not ‘buy buttons’
    • Thanks for your request, not ‘contact us’ forms
  • Track all conversions, you will need to set up different ones for AdWords traffic:
    • Phone numbers
    • Email addresses
    • Contact forms
  • You need to measure the exact results for your £100 spend on AdWords
  • Website visitors mean nothing if they don’t buy anything, or fill in a form.
  • Look very closely at:
    • Conversions
    • Bounce rate (single visit and off)
    • Average time on site
    • Average number of pages visited
    • Whether they are a new visitor (don’t pay for someone who’ll buy from you anyway)

Experiment with changes to AdWords and website, do one at a time so you can measure the difference.

Improving your return on investment

  • Pick your keywords and or phrases
    • Very important
    • Need to think out of the box – not how would I search for my site or service, but how would my customers
  • You can control the matching by:
    • Keyword = broad matching – e.g. pet is extended to animal
    • “keyword” = match exact phrase
    • [keyword] = match exact term only
    • –keyword = don’t match this term
  • Remember that ‘mistakes’ affect your Ad Quality that can increase your CPC across all campaigns.

Design your advert

  • Minor tweaks can effect your click through rate
  • Changes to title, description or both
  • 25 characters for title
  • 70 characters for description

Decide when to run your advert

  • think about what time is best to run ad
  • business hours, weekends, morning, afternoon
  • stagger throughout the day to spread your budget

Decide where it runs

  • choose geographic location of ad
  • country targeting works accurately
  • regional is less accurate
  • choose to run on content network – or not
  • suggest running two campaigns – one on the content network and one off – compare the results
  • websites share with Google
    • age details of users
    • sex details
    • income details
    • geographic location
  • so you can choose to target specific demographics
  • you can run exclusions such as ‘conflict and tragedy’
  • target specific websites such as:
    • Facebook
    • Yahoo
    • Googlemail
  • Specify ‘below the fold’ or not, so the ad only appears when the viewer doesn’t have to scroll to view it.
  • Specify ‘frequency to particular viewers’, so they only see it x number of times.

Decide where it goes – the landing page

  • specify which page the advert clicks through to – not always your home page
  • create pages to match ad campaigns
  • create several landing pages to test the effect on:
    • bounce rate
    • Ad Quality
    • Conversion rate

Top 5 things to change:

  1. Content network on or off – need to experiment with both
  2. Different keywords
  3. Different adverts
  4. Different landing pages
  5. Different time of day

Be wary of statistics – need at least 100 clicks to see if something works or not


  • Start off you campaigns with what you think, but never assume
  • e.g. B2B only search during business hours
  • Operating outside the norm can yield great results, and cost you much less.

6 tips to better Ad Quality
N.B Ad Quality is the golden goose of PPC, master it and the rest of PPC is easy. It is though a dark art with many variables.

  1. Maximise ad relevance – try to match ‘search phrase’
  2. Maximise landing page relevance
  3. Know your search phrase – e.g. victim support London vs it support London – Importance of matching your AdWords or phrases to your audience – e.g. Librarians will be likely to be using Boolean search terms, others are unlikely to do so.
  4. Split test and delete the poor performers
  5. Have good ‘on page’ SEO – especially relevant to ad copy
  6. Undertake good practice – check web standards – Google likes sites that do this
  • You can’t always understand why results are poor
  • But you can stop running ads that don’t work
  • Ignoring bad performance will lead to a vicious cycle where your ad quality goes down and your CPC goes up
  • Mastering PPC is just simply about watching the numbers and understanding what they mean:
    • Increasing the budget on the good – 8’s and above
    • Decreasing the budget on the bad – between 5 and 8
    • Stopping the budget on the ugly – below 5

Tips on outsourcing AdWords to others:

  • Start small and see what they can achieve initially
  • Check for conflicts of interest with rival clients
  • Check to make sure they don’t use ‘spamming’ techniques which could damage your reputation with Google.

Yoodoo video guides to building your business

19 April 2010

I’ve just signed up with the free Yoodoo website and on initial impressions it is pretty good.

They have broken down the business startup process into a series of short videos which are mainly ‘Coffee time’ in length, with a couple rated as ‘Lunch break’ and ‘Evening in’.

The design of the site is clean and modern, and the system allows you to record your progress, and make notes.

Needless to say the founders Tony and Nick have included social media tools to enable you to contact other members of the Yoodoo ‘tribe’.

I would be interested to hear how you get on with it, if you decide to give it a whirl.

About Us
Over two years in the making, Yoodoo is brought to you by a great team of dedicated and expert businesspeople; in fact the same people behind the bestselling “Beermat” series of business books, famous for explaining business in plain English. Everyone on the management team has run their own successful businesses.

Inside, you’ll find a wealth of knowledge from over 80 business experts – each of them specialists in their fields.

Our 50 staff include some of Britain’s best writers, video producers and internet specialists. We’ve got a world-class investment board too, and big brands like eOffice, & Moo behind us.

By the way, we’re a British company born-and-bred, staffed by real people here in London. We take your security and privacy seriously, and we operate subject to UK law.

How does it work?
If you’ve got a big idea or an unstoppable dream, we’ll help you turn it into a reality. If you just want bite-sized stepping stones to a new career, that’s just fine, too.

There’s no pressure: we’ll take you from basic business skills through to a personalised plan at your own pace. You’ll meet great people along the way, and then gain accreditation – which unlocks a host of exclusive benefits.

Whether you dip in and out, or go for gold, you’ll get a fun experience exclusively tailored to help you reach your goals.

What can Yoodoo do for me?
Yoodoo will help you find out whether you could start your own business – and then give you everything you need to get started.

Even if you’ve got no idea what to try, Yoodoo builds you a personal journey to develop both your skills and a blueprint for your new business. It’s inspiring, it’s fun and it’s nothing like being back at school.

And you’re not alone: you can share your journey with other Yoodooers who are looking to make that big leap, too!

Blogging with The British Library BLoggers

18 March 2010

Yesterday I was fortunate enough to be invited to a half day session with British Library bloggers and Social Media legend Euan Semple.

I suppose as the first permanent blogger at The British Library it was perhaps natural for them to invite me along. We currently have sixteen active bloggers in The British Library, but quite a few of our curators are planning to start blogs in the near future. Personally, I would like to see every subject expert within The British Library blogging passionately on their specialist topic.

I have known Euan for quite a few years, and have watched his reputation as a Social Media consultant grow. His experience is particularly relevant for The British Library as his expertise was forged in the comparably challenging environment of the BBC. As head of Knowledge Management, he was expected to invest in traditional large scale IT solutions such as document management systems. Instead he experimented with (mainly free) web based solutions. This somewhat anarchic approach did not always endear him to his bosses.

‘The project has encountered opposition from people who question whether the organisation should adopt technologies and processes that are so new and potentially disruptive to the existing structure.’ FT. com Encouraging information sharing, By Kate Mackenzie, January 24 2006

However, many of these new social media tools were avidly adopted by BBC staff and made a big impact on knowledge sharing within (and eventually outside) of the organisation.

The British Library is in a similar position now. Senior management realise the importance of social media, but are understandably nervous about the lack of control that comes with it.

Certainly for me, getting my blog started here was something of a challenge. Ironically, it was never my intention to create a permanent blog. My reason for starting was to show my colleague Steve Van Dulken how easy it was to start and maintain one. However, by the time I had managed to convince him to go ahead, I was already addicted.

Rather than wait the six months I was told it would take to set up a British Library TypePad account, I went ahead on my own using a free WordPress account.

I have picked up lots of useful tips during the three years I have been posting. In particular the importance of using titles with clear meanings (the ‘Ronseal‘ approach again). Also regular use of images and videos to liven up the page. Finally, lots of (relevant) links out to content, to attract Google rankings, and hopefully links back too.

I seem to have strayed somewhat away from the point of this post, so let’s get back on track.

Euan was a very relaxed and informal host of the morning, but it became clear early on that he has immense experience and knowledge. Particularly of the challenge of introducing social media activities into large organisations.

He recommended a baby steps approach, rather than attempting to implement an enormous project, using my new favourite phrase ‘Trojan mice’. Related to this is the principle of control versus influence with the knowledge that hyperlinks undermine hierarchies.

One discussion thread during the morning that really surprised me, given my blog challenges, was that some of my colleagues felt there was a pressure from above to blog. However, as Euan pointed out, no less a figure than Peter Drucker stated, ‘In the knowledge economy, everyone is a volunteer, but we have trained our managers to manage conscripts.’ Delphi’s IKMS event in San Diego, 1998.

According to Euan, seeing institutions engaging with the digital world can be like ‘watching your dad dancing at a disco’. Painfully embarrassing in other words.

One of the biggest challenges facing any institutional blogger is to find the balance of their individual view against their organisations viewpoint. And I am wondering where this post sits in regard to that invisible line.

Below is a list of some of the key topics we covered during the morning. In my view they are issues all institutional bloggers need to review and address:

–    How to generate new material. Any ‘forced’ content will be spotted by your readers.

–    How to keep your blog fresh and interesting. How to develop a feel for what your audience is looking for and write about subjects that pique their interest.

–    How to find your voice. Blogs work best when they express opinion and take a position on subjects. How do you make your blog sound authentic and have a personality.

–    How to balance the individual and the organisation. Given that blogging encourages an individual voice how do you balance that with the needs of the institution? How do you achieve a personal tone while writing for an organisation with a brand to protect?

–    How to attract an audience. How do you draw people to your blog? How do you discover and attract people who will find your blog interesting? How do you build a relationship with that audience?

–    How to encourage a conversation. Comments are often the lifeblood of a good blog. How do you make it more likely that people will comment on your posts? How do you keep the conversation going when they do? How do you handle negative comments?

–    How to use other social media tools to enhance your blogging. Blogs are just part of the social media ecosystem. How do you use Twitter to add value to your blog? How do you use Facebook to find and increase your audience? How do you use services like Posterous or to integrate your various activities?

Checkatrade to boost your business

14 March 2010 recently required the services of a local locksmith, as I was finding it increasingly difficult to unlock my back door.

My monthly Balcombe Parish Magazine contains a regular set of advertisements covering a range of local services, and included one from Lucy Locksmith.

After making an appointment, Lucy duly turned up on time, and provided an excellent friendly and professional service.

On departing she asked if I would be willing to put feedback on to the Checkatrade website. Although I was aware of the service from a few years previously, I had not used it to find local businesses. Lucy explained that due to positive customers feedback, she had managed to get to the top of the recommendations list. This had resulted in an increase in customer calls. 130 of her customers had given feedback with an average score of 9.9 out of 10, and  100% recommend her.

So don’t take my word for it, but if you are providing a local service where quality of services is your competitive advantage (and when wouldn’t you want that to be case?), I suggest you check out the site soon.

Lucy Locksmith Feedback Scores

Check a trade to boost you business.

I recently required the services of a local locksmith, as I was finding it increasingly difficult to unlock my back door.

My monthly Balcombe Parish Magazine contains a regular set of advertisements covering a range of local services, and included one from Lucy Locksmith.

After making an appointment Lucy (and her assistant?) duly turned up and provided an excellent friendly and professional service.

On departing she asked if I would be willing to put a comment??? on to the Check a??? website. Although I was aware of the service from a few years previously, I had not used it to find services. Lucy explained that due to happy customers, she had managed to get to the top of the recommendations list. This had resulted in an increase in customer calls.

So don’t take my word for it, but if you are providing a local service where quality is your competitive advantage (and when wouldn’t you want that to be case?), I suggest you check out the site soon.

Will Chat Roulette change the fabric of our society?

10 March 2010 was rather surprised to see the latest Social media craze featured in a report on BBC’s Newsnight programme last night.

I have been aware of Chatroulette for a few weeks now since my teenage son discovered it from friends, and became temporarily addicted.

The premise is remarkably simple, and relies on most modern computers having a webcam attached. You simply visit the very basic website (apparently built by Andrey Ternovskiy a Russian teenager) and start browsing. A live image of you will appear on the screen and below will be a random stranger who is currently on the site. Alongside is a text box for real-time chat, or you can use a microphone to speak to your ‘new friend’.

Needless to say the anonymous nature of the system attracts all kind of weird and wonderful characters, with a preponderance for men who like to surf (the web) naked. Some like to shock, with one notorious Chat Rouletter appearing to have hung himself in the corner of his bedroom. In these cases the single button that drives the system comes into play. It has the word ‘next’ on it. You press to get away from you current ‘partner’, but without knowing who will be next in line.

Not surprisingly the service seems to appeal to a large number of American teenage boys in search of females. Not surprisingly women are in a minority, and so in great demand.

However, according to my son it is possible to meet interesting and intelligent people from across the world. I was surprised by how often he came across people logged in from China. Perhaps the authorities are not aware of the system, so have yet to block access. Even Webwasher used at my workplace has yet to put a block on the site.

Newsnight attempted to justify the story on the basis that it was just the latest evidence in how Social Media activities such as Facebook and Twitter are breaking down social barriers and conventional restrictions on behaviour. However, I have my doubts, and wonder if just provided Jeremy Paxman the opportunity to say ‘masturbation’ live on air.

Addition 11 March 2010:

This weeks net@night with Amber and Leo spends quite a bit of time talking about the Chat Roulette phenomenon. In particular they talk about the shame of being ‘nexted’, when no one wants to talk to you online, and clicks the next button on the screen. They also referred to a video by Casey Neistat, a New York based artist and filmmaker. He has created an entertaining short film that explores the intricacies of Chat Roulette.

Climbing the Google rankings with Lucidica

5 March 2010

Lucidica_logoTonight over 100 aspiring entrepreneurs were treated to a virtuoso performance from Thomas Jeffs the founder and Chief Technology Officer of our partner Lucidica. I had attended his workshop on What is a CRM, and when are they best used by small business? In November and had been impressed.

The topic was how to climb up the Google page-rankings and was based on the story of how, within three months, Thomas moved Lucidica from page 47, to page 1 on a Google search for IT support London.

Although Thomas could have talked for hours on the topic (and in fact runs a four hour workshop on this very topic in the Business & IP Centre), he compressed his information into seven SEO (search engine optimisation) tips.

1. Get your business onto Google Maps – as it could get to straight onto page one.

2. Get techie (technical in IT speak) – understand the role of anchor text and meta tags. If it is too tricky, find someone who can do it for you.

3. Get links coming into your website – the higher quality the links which point to you, the higher up Google you will go.

4. Get socialising – LinkedIn is the best for most business to business, but Facebook might be more relevant for your business. Use as many social media platforms as you can maintain within reason.

5. Get commenting – instead of just spreading you name about on other websites and forums, think about what you can give that is of value to others. It’s a bit like Karma. If you give away good information people will talk about you in positive terms and link to you.

6. Get feedback and make it link – find out what forums and online spaces your customers hang out in and make your presence felt.

7.a. Get randomising – this one really surprised me. You have to make sure the references to your business are as varied as possible. If you follow the traditional marketing route of always using the same strapline when referring to your business, there is chance Google will think you are trying to cheat their indexing software, and send your pages results into oblivion.

7.b. Get listed – there a lots of great directories in the UK where your listing will boost your Google ranking. Thomas recommended Touch London at £150 a year. However, he warned there are a few dodgy listing sites who will take you way down on Google if you make the mistake of listing on them.

All in all it was a great evening, with an unlimited supply of excellent questions from the audience These were all met with even more impressive answers from Thomas.

Lucidica’s next workshop with us, is Designing, developing and maintaining an effective website next Tuesday, and there are still a few places left.

What is a CRM, and when are they best used by small business?

Lynne Brindley appeals for UK web archiving

27 February 2010 was somewhat surprised to hear Lynne Brindley’s voice in my bathroom as I was brushing my teeth on Thursday morning this week.

It turned out she was being interviewed on the Today programme on BBC Radio 4 talking about the lack of legislation which would ensure we don’t lose the vast amount of information only published on the World Wide Web.

The British Library has already managed to capture 6,000 sites in our UK Web Archive, but this is mere drop in the ocean compared to the millions of websites (past and present) in the UK alone.

It is reckoned that the average life expectancy of a website is less than 75 days, and that at least ten percent of UK websites are lost or replaced with new material every six months.

The problem is that until UK copyright law is changed, every website owner has to give permission to capture their site, and fewer than 25 percent of owners even reply to our requests.

In the meantime I suggest you nominate websites so we can capture more content.

I am rather proud of the fact that even this humble blog is being preserved for future generations of Infields to read.

Tweeting snow with hash tag uksnow

24 February 2010

As I mentioned yesterday (Facebook vs. Linkedin networking evening report), Twitter is becoming an increasingly powerful tool for business, especially small business.

However, thank to some clever mashup programming by Ben Marsh it is now possible to get an instant snow view from Tweeters across the UK.

Below is today’s #uksnow map showing some isolated pockets of snow in Edinburgh and Aberdeen.

More impressive is this screen shot from 6 January this year.

#uksnow screenhot

Even more impressive, and my favourite photo so far this year is this NASA image of the UK taken on 7 January. Ironically I was on a skiing holiday in the Austrian Alps when this image was captured, and we had considerably less snow where I was staying. On returning home I had to clear two foot of snow from my path just to get to my front door.

Great Britain

Facebook vs. Linkedin networking evening report

24 February 2010

Phil, Richard, Heather and MontyI am glad to report that the evening lived up to its billing, with an excellent crowd, some learnings from our speaker Heather Gorringe of Wiggly Wigglers (WW), and some intensive speed networking courtesy of my colleague Gaby Rose.

Heather explained that her first venture into Social Media was with a podcast, which is now broadcast every Monday on iTunes. Although I notice their blog dates back to September 2005, which puts them amongst the very earliest of commercial bloggers.

Next came a Facebook group because it meant they could send a weekly newsletter to members. But also gave those same subscribers an easy way to opt out, rather than feel they were being spammed, as often happens with email newsletters.

She feels that Facebook allows you to get your personality and your brand out into the public domain. She recommends you join other groups and invite them to join your group, as a way to expand members. Theirs currently stands at 2,218 which is impressive.

Does using Facebook bring in sales?

Heather illustrated her answer to this with the story of a bride who published her wedding pictures on the WW Facebook group. This acted as a wonderful free WOMA marketing (word of mouth marketing), and seems likely to have generated several sales.

The test is that if you are willing to answer questions from you customers, you can generate a lot of interest. WW currently have over 320 topics on their Facebook group. Their followers get to hear about everything special going on with the company, and to participate in special offers which are only seen by the Facebook group.


Heather said that she thinks Twitter should really be called Peeper, as it gives you a wonderful opportunity to listen to conversations your customers are having.

She deliberately set up an intriguing profile in order to encourage people to follow her, and suggests everyone does the same.

Why does it work?

She found her current accounting software through Twitter , after two previous failures.

In desperation Heather tweeted complaints about her BT phone service, and from four months of trying to get a resolution, and just ten days to being cut off. Within twenty minutes she had a reply and a meeting with her key contact within two days.

The power of trending topics can be seen in the example of the American farmer who used the moo hash tag. Within two hours the story reached 368,000 people, with the only cost being a little bit of time, resulted in national and international press coverage.

Heather gave the example of a complaint about WW service which have been seen as a PR disaster, but was actually an opportunity to put things right in a very public way, and ended up with some excellent comments from the orginal complainer.

Her tip was to search on topics relevant to you, and then follow appropriate people as they are likely to follow you back.

Also save searches on your company name so you can see when you are mentioned on Twitter.

She currently spends half an hour a day on social media activities, but believes it more than pays for the time invested in building a positive view of the WW brand.

Watch Heather in action

Facebook vs. LinkedIn at the British Library

19 February 2010

I’m really looking forward to our Facebook vs. Linkedin networking evening next Tuesday.

The timing is perfect as our Facebook group has just reached the 3,000 mark, whereas we currently have 1,523 members of our LinkedIn group, although it is very active.

Finally we have 1,485 on following us on  Twitter.

The Web in Feb from the Business & IP Centre

20 January 2010

My colleagues in Business Marketing have come up with a programme of events for next month called Web in Feb.

The event is part of ‘Getting British Business Online’, which aims to get 100,000 businesses online in 2010.

Our programme of events will help you to:
1. Navigate the world of social media and make it work for you
2. Get your site noticed by Google and increase your traffic
3. Write a blog, record a podcast, set up a website
4. Avoid the legal pitfalls of doing business online
5. Translate the jargon and gain the confidence to use the web effectively.

More details:

Week 1
Building an outstanding online brand
Thursday 4 February, 14.00 – 17.00, £35 +VAT
Azright’s Solicitors

Week 2
Email marketing for small business
Tuesday 9 February, 10.00, 14.00, £39 +VAT

Open evening – Web 2.0 made easy
Tuesday 9 February, 18.00 – 20.00, free
British Library

Copyright for designers
Thursday 11 February, 10.00 – 12.00, free
British Library

Social media for business
Thursday 11 February, 14.00 – 17.00, £45 +VAT

Week 3
Copyright, trademarks and digital media: understanding your rights
Wednesday 17 February, 10.00 – 12.00, £20 +VAT

E-commerce: a guide to conducting business online
Wednesday 17 February, 14.00 – 17.00, £20 +VAT
Marriott Harrison

Week 4
Facebook vs. Linkedin networking evening
Tuesday 23 February, 18.00 – 20.00, free
British Library

Privacy policy and data protection
Wednesday 24 February, 14.00 – 16.00, £10 +VAT
Keystone Law

Build your own blog or website in WordPress
Thursday 25 February, 10.00 – 17.00, £145
Women Unlimited

Booking details

Dominate your market with Twitter

31 December 2009 has definitely been the year for Twitter in the Social Media world.

I have previously introduced how Twitter work (The Business & IP Centre takes on twitter), and how popular we have found it at the Business & IP Centre (Our Twitter followers go over 1,000).

Now I have been introduced to a short book with the catchy title Dominate your market with Twitter. Subtitled Tweet your way to business success, the book introduces what Twitter is, and how to use it to promote yourself and your business.

Chapter six, Twitter on steriods, explains how to extend the use of the service using applications such as Twitterholic, Tweetstats, Qwitter, Tweetbeep and many more.

If you don’t want to rush out to your local bookshop, or consult our copy (and there is something slightly slightly disconcerting about using the ‘old technology’ of books to promote cutting edge Social Media developments), here are a couple of useful links:

Karen Blakeman has made her slides on Twitter available on Slideshare, which – I noticed features some of the Business & IP Centre’s use of social media.

Twitter themselves have produced a useful set of pages on how using the service for business.

Karen Blakeman likes our business essentials wiki

18 November 2009

Photo of  Karen BlakemanI’ve just read Karen Blakeman’s latest blog post which mentions our new business essentials wiki in glowing terms.

This is high praise indeed given Karen’s legendary knowledge and experience of all things related to business information. And the fact her website Business Information on the Internet has consistently come up first on Google, when searching for the term business information.

We have certainly noticed a great deal of additional content appearing since we launched it on 5 November.

Business and IP Centre launches New Business Podcast featuring… me

13 November 2009

I have to say I was somewhat nervous about being interviewed for Business Bytes. This our new monthly podcast narrated by business journalist Jamie Oliver, and designed to give inspiration and practical advice with the challenges in setting up and growing your own business.

Actually, I just do the inroduction and the really interesting content comes from designer Sebastian Conran of Conran & Partners, business expert Jane Khedair from Business Plan Services, and Dee Wright  founder of The Hair Force.

Each month, Jamie will be interviewing entrepreneurs, business experts and some of the Library’s success stories, who are just at the start of their entrepreneurial journeys. But we have hit he ground running with a mention on the Telegraph newspaper website.

Episode one: From idea to business
19 October 09
In our first pilot episode, Jamie introduces himself and the Business & IP Centre, and interviews a range of experts and entrepreneurs about the importance of ideas, how to take them to the next stage, and why you should protect them.

Our new business information wiki – Business Essentials on the Web

5 November 2009 part of our continuing experimination with all things Web 2.0 (Social Media) we have created a wiki for essential business information. Still currently in beta, this wiki is a designed to allow any of my British Library business information colleagues to add useful links.
But more revolutionary (for the British Library) is that we are also opening up the wiki to anyone who has useful information to add. In particular our partners, who have expertise in a wide range of business support activities.
The wiki will be of help to people who are not able to come and visit our St Pancras building, and who find that Google does not provide all the answers.
Obviously we ony want useful content on the wiki, and will be taking any spam off straight away, much like you see on Wikipedia. Our wiki guidelines explain in more detail.
Please join our little community and add your comments and submit links of your own.
The current hot topics are, Business planning, Grants and finance, Industry specific, Intellectual property, Marketing and PR.

If you have any ideas or comments on the wiki, you can email