There seems to be a flush of businesses updating websites driven by the ever increasing reality of digital dominance in marketing matters and fear that competitors are stealing a march.
Before pressing the panic button and engaging that “oh so charming” design company to makeover your online face, pause for a moment, breathe and think about what is really required.
Here is a short, not comprehensive but hopefully useful list of considerations if you are currently looking at refreshing or completely overhauling your website.
Let’s face it the reasons could be any or all of the above and a few more besides. Whatever the compelling rationale for such an investment it is worth applying cool focussed dispassionate logic. All too often we get over excited at the prospect of a new website and in the process lose sight of any key advantage such an investment should bring.
As stated this is not a comprehensive outline of considerations but an indication of the thought process you might consider adopting when talk of a new website turns to serious budgetary consideration.
For further advice and assistance with projects such as this please drop me a line.
Facebook owned Instagram is capitalising on the massive popularity of GIFs through the introduction of a new App called Boomerang.
Specifically designed for the smartphone Boomerang enables users to take a photo burst of 5 pictures that become looped as they in Vine but for a much shorter period.
Why might this work for business?
Photos, videos, Gifs, animation are all hot methods of engaging with eyeballs online and specifically the increasingly cluttered world of social media. Historically for the untrained and impatient amongst us creating a Gif was rather a faff. Now you can do it with one click.
Finding a creative use of moving images, even if it is as brief as 1 second can help make that business stand out from the crowd.
It’s very new, having only launched 22nd October yet major brands have immediately seen the benefit of the app. Timberland and Elle both showed flicking through their content whilst the Rugby World Cup social media team scored and converted with their early adoption and 1 sec clip of South Africa’s Schalk Burger before their clash with the Kiwis.
The apps key strength is its simple straightforward use, it is pretty much idiot proof…even I could immediately get the app working although my target subjects were not so easy.
It’s also incredibly easy to share the new moving content via a variety of platforms, obviously Instagram and Facebook plus Twitter, Tumblr, Google+ etc..
You can find the app in your devices store under Boomerang from Instagram. Download, have a play and see how it might add some all important interest to a product, service or topic you want to highlight.
One of the great benefits of social media is its instant connectivity and accessibility to so many individuals across the globe. This benefit however can become a distinct disadvantage when things are not all rosy in the social media garden.
Let’s just look at a few examples. Staff with the responsibility of posting content on behalf of your business decide to boost the reach of your messages by tapping in to a popular hashtag #. It can be harmless and often look unprofessional, more akin to jumping on an overburdened bandwagon. One such recent example is #PlutoFlyBy .
Nice pun from the bathroom accessory guys…
Space is all over the news with the#PlutoFlyby, so let us help YOU save space in the bathroom
Or this one from a US Italian restaurant chain…
Have a breadstick on us, Pluto! You’ll always be a planet in our eyes. #PlutoFlyby
Mmm… awkward and looks a little desperate however it’s not malicious and no one is harmed in the hijacking of the hashtag.
Moving on to corporations creating their own hashtag and it backfiring; now that can be an interesting spectator sport.
#MCDStories McDonalds marketing team expected nothing but genuine “nuggets” of wholesome stories, instead they created a McFlurry storm of negativity as tweet after tweet tried to out-score the other on their terrible experiences. Ouch!
Even classy supermarket Waitrose hasn’t escaped the hashtag howler brigade. Their #Waitrosereasons campaign generated a stream of pretentious and pompous tongue in cheek tweets that played on the expense of shopping at the store. This included a tweet suggesting the shopper always transferred shopping to tesco bags so neighbours didn’t know they’d won Euromillions!
Yes we can laugh at the big brands getting it wrong but what if it happens to you and your business. We are all vulnerable to attack as soon as we “put ourselves out there” but how do we respond if someone genuinely takes against your business or someone who works in it.
Examples that hit the media spotlight often involve high profile individuals. Kevin Pietersen brought a successful claim for defamation against Specsavers when their Facebook and twitter advert suggested the ex- England cricketer tampered with his bat.
But it’s not always possible to hit the troublemakers for six. Bed and Breakfast owners Martin and Jacqui Clark failed to win their case against TripAdvisor after they had received very poor reviews on the rating site. The Judge refused to reveal the identities of those making the post which had caused the Clark’s to lose business.
This leaves something of a hole in the world of social media where trolls can continue to inhabit and inflict their pain without fear of retribution. In my view this should be addressed rather swiftly as the proliferation of rating sites has led to many attempts to “game” the sites for competitive advantage. If a review is fair the reviewer should have no fear of being seen. If they are allowed to remain anonymous the opportunity to post false and defamatory messages is made far too easy.
What Should You Do
There has been a great deal of media attention around high profile cases of social media based defamation including Kevin Pietersen, Lord McAlpine and Russell Brand. As a result there’s been a threefold increase in cases across the country as more of us gain an appreciation of our rights. The numbers are still pretty low, only 26 matters 2013-14 but the year before saw only 6 cases. Source: Thomson Reuters – Practical Law
One of the biggest problems a victim of social media trolling can face is the challenge to find anyone to listen. The huge social media corporations are notoriously oblique in their “face to face” relations with users. Facebook, Twitter and Google have layer upon layer of FAQ’s, help forums and suitably straight-jacketed reporting processes. If, as many find, your problem doesn’t tick the right box you’ll have a merry old time attempting to get a sensible answer or swift resolution.
If you find yourself in such a situation please drop me a line. Over the years I’ve had a number of successful outcomes for clients dealing with Google, Facebook, Apple and Twitter.
Make an enquiry here:-
Pick up a copy of a business magazine, webinar, SEO whitepaper, workshop agenda or open one of those hundreds of marketing tip e-mails [not all such e-mails are the same of course 🙂 ] and the chances are you’ll not go far before the word “content” is mentioned.
If you want your website to be a successful shop window for your company you need it to be well furnished with content, lots of it, all shapes and sizes, colours, creations and categories……or do you?
Call me an old cynic…but when I start to sense a trend forming and a bandwagon being jumped on I have a natural inclination to run in the opposite direction. Sure SEO is important but what if you produce masses of poor content? All that will prove is that you’ve created a big website full of “stuff” that nobody is going to read let alone share. Surely the idea with this facet of marketing is to produce quality, focused material that appeals to those who you have identified as your target audience. Badly written and presented content will have the adverse effect. I would argue that even if you did rank higher as a result of your prolific production once anyone clicked on it they would be more inclined to bounce straight out again. This would only create a negative impression.
Ok back to basics, what is “content”? Does anyone really know or is it just another “buzzword” that sounds good but has little thought behind it.
Content varies from the obvious written word, blog, news update, article to more visual and increasingly popular sources such as infographics, webinars and other video based productions such as YouTube, Vimeo, Vine, Snapchat, Instagram, Meerkat and Periscope.
Just for starters WordPress report that there are 42.6 million blog posts per month. Now imagine how that number is going to escalate with the buzzword of the year “content” driving marketing activities. Add to the written word the growing trend of video posts and you’ve a very busy and somewhat cluttered space in which you’re trying to make a name for yourself.
A) You can just see the common scenario developing where a young marketing manager, having read all the latest guides, asks the MD to produce a blog for the company. The MD is very busy but she knows this buzz of blogging and “thought leadership” is the thing she really should be doing…so she writes one. It’s not great but it is her first effort. The marketer doesn’t feel that they can correct the boss so is left with no option but to post it. No one comments on it, it’s only read by staff internally who universally agree the MD should stick to running the business.
B) Or what about a situation where no one in the business has the time to write an article or blog so they look around for help. Now for the purpose of balance I must advise that yes, there are excellent copywriters, journalists, wordsmiths who have both the intelligence and skill to produce high quality “home grown looking” material that is both informative and easy to digest. Unfortunately given the “content” Goldrush we have no shortage of prospectors panning for nuggets but finding fool’s gold, those who look the real deal, talk a good game but simply don’t understand enough about the business and the best way to communicate with their target audience. In this example the business spends a large chunk of their annual marketing budget on an agency who simply fails to connect with the client and produces low grade results albeit in large quantities. The company sacks the agency when the MD asks a few pertinent questions at a board meeting such as “Do they own a dictionary” “Have they met our production team” “Why are the web visits up but the engagement down?” The result, the agency blames the client and the resultant lack of business demonstrates the importance of having a well thought through strategy that involves communications that connect with the target audience.
So what should you be doing?
If you would like to discuss any of the issues raised in this blog please contact David Laud via twitter @davidlaud or call 08456 446624
Unless you’ve been tucked away on a desert island without internet, TV, phone or radio you can’t help to have been exposed to a never ending parade of people posting short videos of self-emersion in cold water. The #icebucketchallenge (don’t forget the hashtag) has become a phenomenal success for the charity that took ownership of the act – the ALS Association representing those diagnosed with Amyotrophic Lateral Sclerosis. The disease is also known by the name of US Baseball legend Lou Gehrig who died at the age of 37 in 1941. 2 years prior to his death July 4th 1939 he gave an emotional farewell speech to a packed Yankee Stadium stating that despite his diagnosis he considered himself “the luckiest man on the face of the earth”.
The disease is reported to affect some 450,000 across the globe. A diagnosis is devastating as tragically the body shuts down and life expectancy from that point is a shattering 2 years. In the UK we use the collective term Motor Neurone Disease. It covers a range of conditions such as ALS that cause the death of nerve cells controlling muscles and thereby gives rise to degeneration. It’s fortunately rare but nonetheless a terrible condition that often strikes the sufferers down in the prime of their life. ALS is the specific condition behind this most recent viral sensation. A very worthy cause and one that deserves to receive recognition.
The current campaign has been one of the most successful viral events of all time. The results are quite staggering. The ALS Association has raised some $62m in just 4 weeks that’s over 30 times the $2m they raised in the same period in 2013. They have an amazing 750,000 new donors and the numbers just keep on growing.
MND the Motor Neurone Disease charity has also benefited by an additional £250k donated as a result of this campaign. So how did this happen? As most will testify, cause related campaigns on social media sites are nothing new. Facebook in particular is frequently used as a launch pad by fundraisers to reach as many potential supporters in a short time at little cost. It can be very effective, I know having raised a few £’s over the years with my running but that is but a tiny imperceptible spec compared to the massive wave of ice bucket drenched donors. The previous success of the #nakedselfie #nomakeupselfie was impressive. £8m raised for Cancer Research in just 6 days.
The ALS campaign appears to have been given a far bigger boost and the momentum just keeps taking it forward.
The challenge sets out very simple rules. Once nominated take the ice bucket challenge and donate $10 to ALS, if you don’t take the challenge pay $100. When taking the challenge record the act on video and upload as proof, post on facebook or another social media site of choice having nominated 3 more individuals to take part who in turn have 24 hours to complete the deed. Simple and very effective.
The factors for success: Humble beginnings & credibility – The ALS challenge was started by the friends and family of a former Boston College baseball captain, Pete Frates who was diagnosed with ALS at 27. The initial post of a video was of others taking the challenge as he was too weak to participate. Those family and friends challenged local Bostonian athletes to follow suit. Nominations spread through the Boston area and soon enough athlete’s across the US including many major stars were taking part for Pete and others with ALS.
Celebrity power – Soon Hollywood and the business community got the call through nominations and celebrities were engaged. Mark Zuckerberg, Richard Branson, George Bush, Lady Gaga, Victoria Beckham….the list is extensive and adds hugely to the attraction for others to participate having seen their favourite singer, actor, entrepreneur take the challenge.
Narcissism – Ok this is a little negative but social media does offer us an opportunity to “perform” to a wider audience, be centre stage and demonstrate our caring and charitable efforts. Most of us want to be loved, at the very least liked by others and this just works very nicely. But who cares it’s raising money for a great cause.
Competition – As seen with many celebrity posts there’s been a fair share of “anything you can do…” iced water dropped from helicopters, thousands of dollar bills not water falling from the bucket (Charlie Sheen) and self-made apparatus (nice one Bill Gates). This effort has been replicated by many non-celebrities with terrific imaginations finding new and whacky ways to go that bit further when taking the challenge.
Simple – You don’t have to train for this. It’s not a marathon or even a fun run you just have to stand or sit and take a cold shower. So it opens the challenge up to young and old alike, fit and those not so fit which makes the potential participant demographic very wide.
Connectivity – the opportunity to involve members of your own network through nomination feeds wonderfully into our desire to connect to family and friends through social media.
Technology – the proliferation of smartphones with video record capability enables millions to participate. This added to an encouragement to users by many platforms to make video related posts and as a result easy to use upload apps means the task of sharing such events has never been easier.
The above ingredients all combine to produce a campaign that has every chance of becoming one of the biggest viral events ever seen. Predictably this success has caused side effects such as the bandwagon jumping of others to benefit from the trend.
One notable example is Macmillan Cancer Support who leapt onto the challenge and attempted to claim the #icebucket as their own. As a result they’ve received considerable criticism not helped by the Head of Digital for the charity quoting their missed opportunity with the #nakedselfie as justification for jumping on the ALS campaign. Just Google “ice bucket challenge” and you’ll see that Macmillan have gone to the trouble of taking a paid keyword advert placing them in top spot on the search engine. Many have complained that they donated via a short text code advertised by Macmillan thinking it was for ALS.
My advice to Macmillan is to spend time and effort working to create original ideas that will bring credit to this great charity and not ride on the back of other charities innovative drives. Yes, the ice challenge has been used to raise awareness and funds for their chosen charity in the past and no doubt the future too but leave it to the individuals to make that choice. It was Pete Frates friends and family who drove this phenomenon and that’s what makes it a true viral success.
Have I taken the challenge? Oh yes I was nominated and had some fun doing it too. I did use the opportunity to raise awareness of 2 other charities I work with but didn’t overlook the fact that it’s the ALS campaign first and foremost so they too benefited from a donation. No one should feel forced to take part and be bullied or otherwise pressurised into taking a dowsing for ALS. It’s voluntary and an individual choice that others should respect. Unfortunately there have been examples of peer pressure and negativity thrown towards those who’ve not followed their nominators’ request. That’s not how charity works and is one of the uglier side effects of such successful viral campaigns. Overall the positive far outweighs the negative. I say congratulations Pete Frates and your inspirational friends and family.
The ESPN video is certainly worth a watch and helps put this campaign into perspective. It proves the power of the human spirit and the ability to turn such a negative situation into something so immensely positive. If you have any comments on this or any of my articles please feel free to add them here. I’d love to hear your experience of this and other charitable campaigns. David Laud