Tag Archive smartphone

Byadmin

The Power of Influence – Knowing Your Social Media Score

Prior to all things going digital and smartphones embedding themselves in our lives, we had a simpler more straightforward life.  In the past your number of friends could be counted in birthday or Christmas cards or the entries in the address book you kept in the draw of the table in the hall, the one your phone sat on, plugged in to the wall.

The number of business relationships were similarly measured in cards that you bothered to retain, small enough to fit in a wallet or a specially designed holder that you could flick through.

 

The Power of Influence - David Laud i2i

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

As we all know the number of true friends or meaningful commercial contacts you have does not equate to how effective you are in business.  Similarly with social media our effectiveness in this medium is not due to how friendly we are but how much value we offer those we’re connected to.

Due to terms such as “friends” on Facebook many are still confused as to the type of relationships they are developing online but there is a very clear distinction.  To prove the point there’s a physical limit to how many people we, as humans, can maintain valuable inter-personal relationships with. At the risk of getting all anthropological with you, there’s real sound research supporting this view.

The science behind this is a calculation known as Dunbar’s number. It’s the limit to the number of people who we can keep regular social relationships with and the range has been static for thousands of years.  Professor Robin Dunbar has determined that the number of inter-personal relationships we can maintain falls between 100 and 230.  It’s therefore a fallacy to think you can realistically build a network of close contacts that count much more than 200 in total.

For those of us looking to social media for a return on business investment we need to look beyond simply acquiring followers.  The true power of the medium is not how many individuals are following, connecting or friending us but the influence of those in our network relative to our own interests.  It is the members reach and collective power applied across multiple networks that offer the greatest opportunity.

Malcolm Gladwell’s “Tipping Point” makes frequent references to how ideas and products catch on by this use of social group dynamics and the manner in which information transmits throughout a group driven by those who have influence such as connectors and mavens.

As a simple example look at the way in which profile pictures quickly adapt to respond to a topical cause, or event. 26 million Facebook profiles used a rainbow filter in honour of Pride and support of the LGBT community.  But be careful when you see a bandwagon approaching, such profile changes can backfire as David Cameron can testify with his recent photo-shopped poppy.

The challenge is to create receptive networks built on mutual understanding and respect in which you can establish a position as a thought leader, originator, sharer and supporter of fellow members.

Great! You may say, but how do I know if I’m moving in the right direction if I can’t count the number of contacts as a measure?

Social influence measurement tools

The answer is to use a measurement tool.  One of the leaders in this influence measurement field is Klout, launched in 2008 it delivers its services via a website and app that use social media analytics to rank users according to online social influence.  They analyse activity across multiple sites that include Twitter, LinkedIn, Facebook, Instagram and Google+. The “Klout Score”, is represented by a numerical value between 1 and 100.

In preparing this article I spoke to Eddie McGraw Director of Communications at Lithium Technologies, owners of Klout, this is what he had to say on the topic of influence.

Influence can be a somewhat hazy term, but how we define it is the ability to drive action. That’s something we can actually quantify – how much your social activity is able to drive subsequent activity. It’s very important for both people and brands to have some gauge of who is and is not influential, so they can determine who the right people are that they should be engaging with.

 

Also, just as important as overarching influence would be subject matter influence – or what we call Topic Expertise. Kim Kardashian has 31 million followers, but that doesn’t mean people should look to her for advice on whether to invest in Apple or Google. One of the things we’ve just introduced is a way of looking not just at someone’s overall Klout Score, but at their level of expertise on a specific topic. This way you can find subject matter experts on the topics you most care about.

 

As Eddie states it’s not all about the numbers of followers or connections, the key is in establishing your clear area of expertise and thereby your range of influence.  Understanding where you are with regard to influence can help you better understand the effectiveness of your time posting content, improving the return for your efforts.  To put a number on it, the average Klout score is around 40.  To establish where you or your firm sits versus competitors you can search twitter accounts via the Klout website.

 

Increasingly brands and industry experts are becoming aware of the importance of social influence.  Leaving social media content creation to inexperienced, untrained or poorly managed individuals is now seen as far too risky for firms wishing to establish a consistent and respected brand.  In professional services, networks will look for and respond more favourably to a tone of voice combining intellect, empathy and personality with a dash of appropriate humour.  The trend is for owners of the business to start engaging more directly as they have the knowledge and gravitas to attract greater numbers of key target followers for their network.  By way of contrast, posting grammatically poor tweets about minutiae or blatant and repeated promotions, will have your network unfollowing in numbers.

Outsourcing the responsibility of social media posting to an agency, no matter how attractive, is also not advisable, as the risks far outweigh the benefits.  In professional service marketing above many other sectors, your credibility can be very quickly undermined if the voice of your chosen channels lacks authenticity.  Better to invest in qualified support and training for your own team and remain in control.

As a marketer one of my regular requests is to help clients build strong networks and then assist them to deliver fresh, interesting content in a manner that helps improve engagement.  By taking structured consistent steps and increasing the profile and social influence of partners, managing partners and specialists, the firm is better placed to demonstrate their capabilities and attract greater levels of interest.

Whilst I would stress that these tools are not 100% perfect, they do offer an essential insight to establish where your profile stands by way of influence and by regular monitoring keep track of your progress.

Suggested social influence measuring tools –   Klout, Kred/ Sprout Social, Peerindex (Brandwatch)

David Laud

Partner i2i Marketing Management

Byadmin

Absolutely Blab-ulous! – Why the Business World is Tuning in to Blab

A new kid on the block of live video streaming apps has an appropriate name,Blab.  It’s similar but sufficiently different to others such as Persicope and Meerkat that I thought it worth investigating.

Blab


The biggest difference with Blab is that it actively encourages others to join in and share the limelight, a bit like Google hangouts but without the overly fussy set up and management.  Four individuals can share screen time with typically one of the four being the host whilst any number of viewers can join in to watch the live event.  The US users are quick to point the similarity in look to the classic TV show “The Brady Bunch” and its opening credits.

The success and take up of Periscope and Meerkat has been possible due to advances in mobile video streaming capability with better wifi and 4G access.  Blab however has more of a “studio” feel.  There are a greater number of professional and good amateur presenters using desktop access and higher quality cameras and microphones compared to the many Periscope users who are just streaming video by way of a variation on a tweet or Facebook post.

It is still early days for Blab, in fact it’s still in “Beta” mode but you can already see how this platform could revolutionise webinars.  The site offers an opportunity for active participation from up to 4 panel members who could each be located on a different continent or just as easily be in the same room.blab logo

Viewers can log in to pre-publicised broadcasts at the allotted time and enable e-mail alerts to remind them when to watch.  The video can also be saved and sent as a link via e-mail or placed on your website to be watched at a time to suit the viewer.

The interaction with twitter is far better via a desktop but if you are on the move and have a healthy connection it provides an excellent method of catching your favourite experts, podcaster or topic of interest.  You can also broadcast your own Blab on the move but if you check out the better received content on the platform it tends to be generated from the desktop pc or laptop.  The reason for this is the scope of information you can gather and use via the screen, helping with visitor interaction as they message you during a broadcast.  Sounds a little manic and it can be but that’s all part of the charm of Blab.

Unsurprisingly the vast majority of users and participants are based in the US but the word is spreading and my guess is it won’t be long before brands and business advisors across the globe start to see the advantage of the format.  There’s certainly no reason why you shouldn’t investigate the possibility of hosting your own “show” where you may participate with colleagues, peers or invited guests.

The screenshot of the Blab featured in the main picture used for this blog involves social media experts Heather Heuman (Sweet Tea Social) and Stephanie Nissen.  They delivered a very informative session with guests taking their hot seat shown as the “call in” space to ask questions, it works very well indeed.

I would recommend having a look at Blab, click on a few shows, if feeling brave take part in a chat or if feeling even braver take a seat if there’s one spare.

Remember that you will need a webcam, yourself in view, good sound quality and hopefully a good background.

Smarter Blabbers introduce their Brands via signs or pictures placed behind them but in good sight, so those tuning in can be reminded who they’re watching.

I can see companies using Blab for internal training or conference calls with the private approved users only feature stopping others joining in.  As a tool for a wider audience it can deliver key messages, seminars, promotions and consultations.

Go take a look at  https://blab.im/ and let me know what you think, see if you agree that it could have genuine appeal for your business.

Byadmin

Working Smart – 6 Top App Suggestions

One of the oft touted benefits of technology; new and shiny gadgets, software or apps, is their ability to make our lives easier, save time and be more efficient.

Not all make the grade, in fact many can create quite the opposite effect and leave you staring at a screen for far longer than you’d want.  The app that promises to make your life so much easier and then fails to act at the all too critical moment

There are however some gems that do indeed work their magic and serve as excellent tools to help keep us organised and in control.  I have 6 such examples here that I would recommend you looking at if you don’t already use.

To Do

Issue #1 – Managing multiple accounts or a single brand across many social media platforms

Hootsuite – there are other platforms such as Tweetdeck that continue to deliver a good PC experience for visibility of activity but for me Hootsuite offers just that little bit more.  The dashboard can take some getting used to but it’s worth persevering

 

Issue #2 – Keeping abreast of news on specific topics

Google Alerts – this little nugget has been around for a few years now but still many are not using it.  I don’t know why.  By searching for Google Alerts you’ll identify a keyword tool that can provide search results for specific keywords on a daily or weekly basis.  You set the time and frequency and provide an e-mail for this digest to be forwarded to.  A great way to monitor yours and your competitors brand along with sector specific items that may be of interest to you, your staff or your customers.

 

Issue #3 – Smartphone Memory Management

CM Security is one tool I make good use of as I have an iPhone and without this very effective app I’d be all out of memory.  There are other similar apps available but CM is one of the best offering a simple click solution to removing excess, unnecessary items.

 

Issue #4 – Keeping on top of followers/ unfollowers on twitter and Instagram

I’ve been aware for some time of the rather short sighted method of attempting to grow a network.  Someone follows you, on for example Twitter and then a week later after you’ve returned the compliment and followed back they “unfollow” you.  Nice!  Surprising how many accounts employ this strategy – if you are please don’t and if you’re subjected to it don’t let them have the benefit.

One of the best apps I’ve found for regularly reviewing those who unfollow and keeping your network to those who you can trust will engage is Unfollow for Twitter.  The same issues arise on platforms such as Instagram, again there is an unfollow Instagram app.  Given the difficulty of identifying these unfollowers, especially if you have a large network, I would recommend uploading these apps and once a week clearing out any accounts that are not following you back.

 

Issue #5 – Sleep patterns affected by late night browsing

Increasingly smartphone users are complaining of tiredness and attention deficit.  This is often a side effect of staying on a smartphone, ipad or laptop late into the evening.  The screen glare of these devices replicates sunlight telling the brain its wakey-wakey time rather than time for bed.  At the point of retiring to the duvet the brain is unable to switch off.

The Opera browser which you can download to your devices offers a “bedtime” mode which reduces glare and keeps your brain in line with the actual time.

I’ve used it and it certainly works.

 

Issue #6 – too many passwords to remember

Do you get frustrated with the number of usernames and passwords your forced to remember or record to access your bank, facebook, twitter, LinkedIn, e-mail accounts, Starbucks app, iTunes, Amazon, ebay, MailChimp….I could go on.

If you’ve a brain that can cope with keeping and retrieving multiple passwords you’re ok but if like most people you can only remember if prompted the 1Password App may well be for you.

Some people keep spreadsheets of their log-ins which is great, until someone unauthorised accesses it or it’s deleted.  The 1Password option gives you a secure vault in which you can then introduce the accounts you want to quickly access.

I’m sure in time the finger print or eyeball scanning will be the way we access our all-important data but until that becomes the norm I’d suggest looking at 1Password.

Most of these apps can be found by searching on your device by the name or if that doesn’t work a quick Google will do it.  If you’ve got a hot tip for a great time saving or efficiency promoting app please drop me a line and we’ll feature it.

 

 

Byadmin

Smartphones – Are They Creating Stupid People?

I’m not the first to write on this topic nor the last but it’s the subject of today’s blog because I feel quite strongly about this growing phenomenon.

Smartphone chain

 

There are an estimated 1.8 billion of us using smartphones and this year alone will see a further 25% increase in ownership. By 2017 a third of the World’s population will be glued to their touch screen devices.

Don’t get me wrong, I’m someone with a long record of smartphone ownership from early HTC varieties through to iPhone but I’m not such a fan as I was.

Millions of us are struggling with an addiction to the smartphone.  The proliferation of these super slim, super smart devices gives us a look of that 24th Century imagined world of Gene Roddenberry.  How long before we’re moving from “hang outs” to “beam ups”?

 

So what of this reference to making us stupid and why am I not such the fan that I once was?

It’s not that your smartphone contains anything other than a deep pool of wonderful treasures.  We have ready access to apps that can help with every single facet of our lives.  They keep us fit, healthy, on time, up to date with international, national, local and personal news and entertained with games, TV, radio and our favourite songs.

We can’t hold back progress with technology and let’s face it we’re pretty insatiable when it comes to the fast moving consumer gizmology but I do think we’re struggling to keep up.

As humans we are undeniably an adaptive species.  Evolving from hunter gatherers to hot shot gamers with each generation bringing their own unique code of knowledge and rules factoring the software into their lives so that it becomes intertwined with everyday living.

It’s this interdependence of human and technology that is starting to bother me.  It’s also a reason why primary schools are starting to build lessons into the curriculum to help explain how these instruments work.

Our recent trip to the USA was great save the occasions the location visited either A) didn’t supply wifi or B) did supply wifi but at such a poor level that it brought immediate frustrations.  I even went to the trouble of buying a portable wifi hotspot so we could retain connectivity whilst traveling up the coast from LA to San Francisco. It cost a few dollars but nothing compared to the potential costs if we’d relied on the local networks for our downloads.  We ALL had smartphones and we used them, pretty much constantly.

At work they can be a real boon, mobile access to e-mail, online searches on the move and that feeling that “you’re always in touch”.  Trouble is, I’m not so sure that’s a good thing.  Here are a few of the issues I have with how we are currently using our smartphones;

  1. Work e-mails synced with the device, as boss or manager you’re now giving the “always on call” message and allowing others to expect instant responses to colleagues, suppliers and clients.  Client enquiries are of course important but so is managing expectations.  Offline time is essential and healthy.
  2. Due to 1. Many of us have become addicted to checking our inbox. Ask yourself this question, when do you first check and make a last look at your e-mails?  Typically the honest answer is before you get out of bed and when you get back into it.
  3. Social media apps – if you have them on your smartphone the chances are it’s the primary method of staying in touch on those channels. For social media issues read the e-mail problem in 2.) It’s addictive and the thought that you might be missing something compels you to check your accounts several times an hour.
  4. Conversations are punctuated by the constant reminder that someone far more important is trying to grab your attention. The ping of text, vibration of a tweet or whoosh of an e-mail. Gosh you’re popular…and very rude too.
  5. Eating out with a loved one, colleague, business associate or client. Being unable to eat a meal without posting each course to Instagram means you’re not alone, you’re sharing the experience with hundreds if not thousands of people, most of whom are looking to trump your effort with one of their own.
  6. Important information can be stored in your smartphone and there are great apps to help you be better organised. The device is not however a real person and the distraction of keeping one eye on the screen when someone’s talking to you means you won’t recall the detail, very likely you’ll not have a clue as to what’s being discussed.
  7. Time management – we all know from the early days of the internet and search engines that once we got the idea in our head we could literally search for anything…that’s exactly what we did…for hours and hours. We can lose ourselves in a time vacuum that sucks the productivity out of our day.  The trouble with smartphones is the size of text on screen and time taken to absorb anything of consequence.  Find another way, or better still ask yourself if this particular browsing session is really that important.
  8. Feeling constantly tired? Here’s the thing.  If you’re on your device at 10pm, 11pm or even midnight and later you’ll be getting messages through your eyes that it’s daylight.  The screens luminescence confuses our brain and when you dive under the duvet it won’t get the message to switch off.  Hence it takes considerably longer to get to sleep and its quality is adversely affected.  So of course you feel tired, you’re not getting enough sleep.  When you’re tired you function poorly and decision making can be harder with mistakes often made.  Worse still if you need to concentrate by driving to and from work or operating complex equipment.

Selfie time.  No please, don’t take another profile pic for Facebook, instead take a look at yourself properly.  When was the last time you truly studied how you’re running your life.  Heads up from the screen and take pen and paper to write a list of positive actions that can help you take back control.

Last year for the whole month of October I ran my #Offtober experiment.  I turned off my smartphone at 8pm each evening and didn’t switch it back on until 8am.

The result of this simple step was improved sleep it also had a positive impact on mood and overall well-being.  Like many of us I’ve since drifted back into bad habits but rather than wait for October to come around I’m going to set myself clear rules so I can get the benefits of the tech without the downside.

No doubt many smug readers, my wife included will nod sagely and say, I told you this ages ago.  Well yes, you probably did but I was face deep in technology at the time.

David Laud

Byadmin

How to Turn Your Smartphone into a Virtual Reality Headset

With technological developments continuing to move forward at a scary rate I’m pleased to report on a quick, easy and relatively inexpensive way to bring yourself up to date in one very entertaining area.

How to Turn Your Smartphone into a VR Headset

How to Turn Your Smartphone into a VR Headset

Virtual reality (VR), augmented reality or immersive multimedia capability has been with us for some time but typically confined to high end gaming and specialist applications.

Way back in 1968 Ivan Sutherland the renowned computer scientist and Internet pioneer created the very first VR headset, although it was so heavy the unit needed to be suspended from the ceiling.

 

 

Almost 50 years later and we now finally have the technology in our own hands and a headset that can be made of…..cardboard!

So how do you enter the VR world via your Smartphone?

  1. Order your headset. No this won’t cost you hundreds of pounds or dollars, I picked my headset up for £10 Check out this linkhttps://www.google.com/get/cardboard/get-cardboard/ you can also search Amazon for Google Cardboard compatible headsets there are plenty to choose from.
  2. Now whilst you’re excitedly awaiting the postman go to your smartphone and search for the Google Cardboard App. Whilst you’re there you can also look for and download a number of VR apps such as flight simulator, roller coaster and VR designed games.
  3. When the headset arrives you might need to engage your local IKEA Ninja to make sure it’s properly constructed. Don’t worry it’s not too complicated but remember it will be housing your smartphone so make sure it can’t easily slip out.
  4. Follow the instructions and load an app on your smartphone place it into the headset and enjoy the ride.

The Google Cardboard App comes with a variety of experiences not least the opportunity to take a virtual tour of locations around the world through Google street view.  This includes trips to the Eiffel Tower, Colosseum in Rome and New York’s Times Square.

This might sound obvious but please remember where you are and avoid viewing your VR World near stairs or objects that you might collide with.  It can be quite disorientating especially when you start. Here’s an example https://instagram.com/p/3lxfFotEZA/ My wonderful daughter Ellie aka Betty, experiencing her first VR moment.

In addition to the headset experience you can view 360 videos now on your smartphones and tablets – here you can turn and twist your device or swipe with your finger to take a complete 360 degree view of the film makers location.

Mike Tompkins uses this to great effect in this video http://youtu.be/Xe6YI-Ax3d0

We are living in an amazing era of technological advancement – the trick now is to find creative ways to use these innovations to connect with customers.  Be prepared for a future of 360 and VR advertising and Christmas frenzy over gaming platforms with VR capability.

Some critics of Google Cardboard say it lacks quality an isn’t as good as it should be.  My view is that it is quite an amazing experience and it can only improve. I’m more a fan than a critic and can already see how this development can be adapted for commercial advantage.

I hope you found this interesting and you take the leap into the VR World.  If you do let me know what you think of the virtual becoming a reality.

Byadmin

Putting Theory Into Practice – Can Social Media Generate Business?

Consultants, coaches, business advisers and circuit speakers can frequently fall into a trap when handing out advice as they touch on subjects that they’ve lost touch with.  In the current cauldron of technological innovation and digital dependence that’s not all too surprising because they rarely have time to stop and revisit their thinking or more importantly put their theory into practice.

Ballet Icon on Computer KeyboardJust because advice sounds plausible, logical and possible doesn’t make it a cast iron sure bet to work.   My view is that we must accept we can’t possibly stay at the sharp end, understanding latest trends, tips, wrinkles and methodologies, without being self-aware and putting those golden nuggets of advice to the test to establish their true value.  Instead of sticking with ideas that are possibly past their “sell by date” or untested put yourself in the position of a client.  Rather than act as an adviser seek to prove those ideas, strategies and actions by applying them to a real situation.

 

How to generate new business is one of the most regular questions posed by clients and for obvious reasons.  Winning new customers is essential to growth and sustainability and over time owners, directors and managers can become complacent, lose focus and need a guiding hand to put the company back onto a positive footing.

 

Luckily for me I’ve recently had an ideal opportunity, which was literally very close to home, to test the theory of business generation in a very contemporary field of marketing, social media.

 

My wife decided last year that it was time, following years of looking after the family, to take up the challenge of running her own ballet school.   Being the true professional that she is, my wife ensured that she was fully up to date with syllabi and best practice according to the Royal Academy of Dance.  Whilst I had every confidence in my wife’s capability as a teacher I could see as a potential hurdle with her previous steadfast view that she did not “do social media”.  No personal Facebook page, no twitter and certainly nothing as exotic as Instagram or Pinterest.

 

Here was an excellent opportunity for me to not only help my wife achieve her ambition of running a successful school but to also put those many theories to win business through digital channels to the test.

 

It’s often said that it can be a dangerous, potentially painful process working with your other half but in our experience it proved pretty much straightforward.  I know nothing at all about dance let alone ballet and she knew very little of social media and marketing matters.

 

My first concern was to have a website and to ensure that it was given the right treatment to appear in search terms, to also provide the essential link to sites such as Netmums and Yell.com but also as its essential when creating social media accounts.  The website also needed to be fully responsive, smartphone and tablet friendly.

 

The key target audience for the ballet school is mothers of children aged from two and a half to teenage so my first piece of advice was to establish a solid Facebook page.  Starting from scratch it was also going to be important to get matters moving quickly and create a steady flow of enquiries.  As with many businesses the primary customer activity when looking for this service/ activity was to go online.  A google search for “ballet school” on google would automatically bring up schools that were registered and verified with the search site.  To do this the school needed to have a Google account and for the best chance of high profile recognition an active Google+ account.

 

It was essential that the school became verified and that the map engine within Google had Mrs L’s business linked to the address.  That way the school would show up listed with other verified schools and the closer to the target location the higher the ranking.  Simple but so many businesses miss his very important step.

 

After Google+ and Facebook we created twitter, Instagram and Pinterest sites to add breadth and visual impact to the school’s brand.

 

I suggested that my wife needed to create a regular dialogue with our local community and that was through a localised, gender and age specific “like” campaign for Facebook and a daily news feed of curated stories relating to the art form on twitter simply called “Ballet News”.  The latter news update has been a huge success.  Why such a success?  Mrs L’s attention to detail and regular posts have created an expectation of consistency, entertainment and information which her community greatly appreciate.   In response to my prompt on the importance of engagement on Facebook Mrs L launched a regular ballet related picture post and specifically once a week “Tutu Tuesday” featuring a new outfit each week.  I take only a very small piece of credit, the genius of the creative idea and execution was entirely down to the proprietor…not me.  That signified a watershed moment, the owner of the business owned their media and understood it enough to capitalise on its power.

 

And what of the results of this test of social media guidance and marital relationship?

 

Well no divorce…quite the contrary.  A thriving business that since launch in April has grown to over 40 regular students and 3 to 4 new enquiries each week 90% either via the website, fed by twitter and Instagram accounts or directly from the Facebook page.

 

Of course it helps that my wife is a talented teacher and has great rapport with students and parents alike but for me it proved the power of social media.  Mrs L has commented that she doesn’t know how she could possibly have managed without Facebook or her website.  Interestingly we experimented with more traditional marketing – the results were mixed.  The local paper proved the most expensive investment and produced nothing whilst a magazine targeting primary schools more than covers its costs.  By far and away the most successful medium for promoting the school is Facebook and the website, searched for on Google.

 

All of the above and the ongoing success of the school proves that there are advantages in having a strong, well-articulated digital presence aligned to a good product.

 

Key Social Media Steps for a Start Up

  • Research your market and grasp the key actions taken when purchasing/ researching your product/ service.
  • In line with the above data create a website and keep the content fresh and optimised for search engines.
  • Create social media accounts that are relevant to your target market
  • Build a network for each account reflecting that audience, eg other associated interests
  • Build content that is fresh, interesting and relevant to your network
  • Don’t bombard your audience with sales messages and endless promotions, share useful posts and engage
  • Respond – download the social media apps and e-mail accounts to your smartphone and be prepared to react as and when enquiries arrive
  • Don’t panic – it won’t happen overnight, it’s definitely a marathon and not a sprint
  • If you’re stuck seek advice but be sure to not to simply outsource your activity – that will not work for you in the long term
  • Don’t be afraid to repeat yourself but watch out for cross platform links and potential duplication, best to keep things simple to start with.
  • Try new platforms but test the results, if it’s not working ask why – keep up with developments
  • If operating multiple social media accounts consider using tools such as Hootsuite to manage your time and posts and measure results.

 

I’m not ready to don the tights and show you my arabesque but I’m very happy to help you grow your organisation be it in education, retail, manufacturing or the service sector if fact any business that thrives on generating new customers.

Drop me a line via the contact form below.

David Laud @davidlaud

 

Byadmin

Marketing in a Mad World

Preparing for a presentation I found myself reflecting on the seismic global events of the recent weeks.

Once untouchable monoliths of the corporate World, the oil corporations were running scared, BP setting aside £1bn just to cover their restructuring costs.  Others pulling back from investing in new fields as the costs would not be covered by the sub $50 a barrel price point.

Then there’s the supermarkets, another fall from a significant height for Tescos as the new CEO serves up the trimmings, 43 store closures, 2000 job losses and that’s just for starters.  Morrisons are also re-thinking their store strategy and withdrawing from projects that now look to be wholly unprofitable.

crisis-cufflinks-300x181

It’s funny, an election in full swing and of course the incumbent leadership is talking up an economic recovery the opposition shouting this down as hugely overplaying the dire position we’re all in.  The reality is, as always, somewhere between the two but one thing is for sure….unlike the Aldi bear, we’re not quite out of the woods.

Just hopping back into the international events of 2015.  Just when you thought bankers were back in their box, up pops the Swiss with an unexpected decision to drop the Euro cap.  No it doesn’t mean that their international footballers have failed to qualify for the European Championship finals.   Just a small matter of the bankers deciding that the Euro currency was no longer a safe bet and they’d be better off taking their chances letting their friend Franc free to find his own rate.  And find his rate he did…settling about 15% higher than the Euro which had immediate and for many devastating consequences.   Don’t be rushing to buy your great Aunt that original Swiss made cuckoo clock, it will now cost you 15% more, as will army knives and of course heartbreakingly… Swiss chocolate.

The financial markets took the Swiss roll (sorry!) and then went into round two, following the Greek election results and the success of the anti-austerity party Syriza.  A good deal of uncertainty surrounds the Euro and the future of the Eurozone especially as the answer to recent difficulties appeared to be Mario Draghi’s 60bn a month bond buying programme, a variety of quantitative easing.

Before you start throwing your Euro coins in my direction in despair there was of course good news from certain fruity businesses.  Well…one in particular.

Apple’s record $18bn profit for a quarter was nothing short of staggering and a clear indication of the World’s obsession with smartphone technology.  It also demonstrated the power of the brand and lack of concern over the pricing of the new IPhone 6.  This result was swiftly followed by news of the corporations’ reserves – some $143bn,  a figure so staggeringly huge it could fund the R&D and delivery of a manned trip to Mars or buy Lithuania 3 times over.  Unbelievable!

All of this massive news and yet it’s happened within just a few weeks of 2015 emerging into the light.  If anyone thought the pace of change was slowing or we were returning to a more stable economic climate these first few weeks of the year have proved if anything things are heating up.

But what’s that got to do with marketing?

Pretty much everything in my view.

When there is so much negativity, uncertainty, financial pressure and posting of big success we can become disorientated within our own business.  What does the future hold?  Should we invest or just stick as we are?  Can we afford to hire new staff, move premises or give bonuses?

In addition to the worries there’s the added concern of planning to grow the business through proactive marketing.  In my experience the greatest success of a business often coincides with a flush of confidence, borne from belief in the team, products and/or service offering.  With so much going on we can hardly find time to catch breath let alone plan the next 12 months.  But that is exactly what you should be doing.

Look at where you want to be, hold on to the vision and harness the resources of your business to a set of clear objectives that take you towards your long term goals.  Don’t be swayed by politics, rhetoric, negativity of other business leaders and those who would rather head for the bunker.

Now is a time for cool heads and clear thinking and as a leader in your business you need to show how it’s done.  If all else fails quote a little Kipling to ease the furrowed brows and inspire others to rise above the negativity.

“If you can keep your head when all about you are losing theirs…” If by Rudyard Kipling

If you are looking for help in planning the growth of your business please drop me a line, I’d love to hear from you.

David  – follow me on twitter @davidlaud

Byadmin

#Offtober Update – It’s a dream start

For those of you who may not be aware I’m challenging myself to stay off mobile technology, smartphones, ipads etc. for a set period each day during the entire month of October.  Hence the #Offtober tag.

#Offtober Challenge  Turn it off - 8pm-8am

#Offtober Challenge
Turn it off – 8pm-8am

The challenge is to turn off the devices at 8pm and not turn them on again until 8am the next day.

It’s not a complete removal of the tech as that would have had a seriously negative impact on my working life.  I am I guess no different to most of us, reliant on my phone for so much more than an odd call and text.

I have multiple e-mail accounts, calendars, news feeds and social media apps that can’t be left idle for too long….or so I believe.  Whatever the reality I feel quite dependent on the tech and this is a small step to take back control.

There are great benefits to smartphones and tablets but equally there are the downsides.  We can develop an addiction to these small devices and allow them to rule our lives at work, in meetings, while commuting and at home.  They are invasive items but we are supposed to be the controllers, I fear that instead we are becoming the controlled.  A re-tweet, a facebook like to our status update, new e-mail, text you name it these digital affirmations of our importance take up a disproportionate amount of our time and get in the way of true effective and important communication…in person.

Used late at night they can also impact on the quality of your sleep and therein health.

In my first week, in fact by the start of day 2 I had a result.  I had in fact slept more soundly and recalled dreams.  That might sound like a minor piece of news but for me it was a clear sign that switching off the devices earlier in the evening was something I will look to take beyond October.

Sleep is so very important to us.  It’s our battery re-charge moment and without sufficient quality sleep we can become irritable, depressed, unproductive and unfocussed.

Despite a very busy and yes stressful week I’ve kept my nerve and to the #Offtober rule.

Faced with a weekend of family fun, daugthers both briefly back from University, I’m going to be further tested by their snapchatting and Instagraming but I fully intend to keep to my strict rule.

If you haven’t joined me yet I’d strongly urge you to try it. You will feel better and gain a sense of control over the ever so useful yet annoyingly compulsive tech.

Let me know if you decide to join me and tweet me your stories using the hashtag #Offtober

Follow me on twitter @davidlaud

David

Byadmin

How to be Smarter with your Smartphone

Smartphone sales indicate that we’re now far more likely to have one of these technological marvels than not. Be it an iphone, HTC, Samsung, Google or other wannabe market leader they all offer a range of tools that take us way beyond “making a call”.

Recent research by Samsung indicated that making a call ranks 5th or lower in the list of things we do with our devices taking only 12 minutes a day on the task that was the original purpose of the mobile.

These days we would far rather browse the net, check our social media feeds, play games or listen to music but what else can these treasures of technology do for us?

If you’re on the go, often out of the office and need to stay in touch then it’s likely you’ve synched your work e-mail to the Smartphone.

Perhaps you’re responsible for making an impact with social media for your business. Couldn’t be easier to download the LinkedIn, Facebook, YouTube, Twitter apps and post on the move. They don’t all offer the same functionality as the PC based version but the convenience and immediacy of of posting and reading feeds whilst out of the office can be invaluable, especially if you’re using twitter or Facebook to monitor customer feedback.

Being mobile can create problems when trying to find venues for events, meetings etc.. No need to worry if you’ve a good map app connected and your location broadcast function is enabled on the phone. You can trace your progress on foot, in the car (if safely cradled and not in your hand) or on the train and even ask for a route to determine the time it will take.

Sharing information with colleagues and clients might be important to you but a problem if the all important project document sits on your office network. Fear not, cloud based services such as Dropbox can allow sharing of folders or links to specific documents with a few well placed taps.

If your life is so hectic you feel you’re not keeping up with the business world and areas that may affect you and your company I’d suggest revisiting the good old podcast. Finding the time to read trade journals, newspapers and magazines can be hard. These days there are a multiude of very informative and professionally produced podcasts. From wake up to money to the bottom line, most BBC business related radio broadcasts ara available to download and easy to subscribe to. Using the Smartphone as an aural digital box can be very handy. Listen to the podcast while commuting and get back in the know.

Perhaps like me you have the odd idea, recall of something that must be done or just want to put it in writing. You can use your Smartphone as a digital notebook recorder. Voice memos, notes and also software such as Dragon can allow you to talk to the device and have your words appear in document form which can then be saved, e-mailed or linked to social media. It can take a bit of practice.

On the subject of voice recognition a word of warning – you can look very silly having an argument with Apple’s “Siri” when it refuses to understand your command for the 6th time. Especially if you’re sitting in traffic apparently shouting at your dashboard. On a serious note Apple’s Siri – IOS.6 introduced a new array of functions and it’s expected to become the lead in voice recognition instruction leading to users asking for and relying upon responses directly from their phone. Google beware!

Our Smartphone’s have become almost indispensable items and as we learn to use more of their functionality and apps improve it’s very likely that the humble PC will take an even bigger step into the dark corner of the office.

Of course the beauty of these devices is that hey go beyond the pure work tool, they’re part of our every day. Hear a piece of music in an advert and want to know what it is? Just rewind and use your Shazam app. Miss the latest BBC drama just click on the BBC iPlayer app and you can catch up. Want to watch the match but you’re stuck on the train? Apps like SkyGo allow for immediate real time access to your subscribed channels.

On holiday you can get the Smartphone to translate menus and of course take high definition pictures or video which can be instantly uploaded and shared via social media apps. Looking for a coffee shop or cafe for lunch, the geo-location platforms such as FourSquare can help pinpoint the nearest offer and top tip.

Can they become addictive?….Oh yes, which is why it’s a good idea to have a schedule where you ensure its put to rest. Over use of the Smartphone can lead to sleepless nights, sore eyes and headaches let alone the ergonomic issues of thumb and finger use and a less gadget obsessed partner feeling jealous of the attention given to it and not them. I guess we’re not too far away from a gadget being cited as the other party in a divorce petition.

On balance they are proving to be far more help than hindrance but they shouldn’t be allowed to get in the way of a good old fashioned conversation, with eye contact and your mobile on “silent”.

If you’ve got an app suggestion that others might find useful let me know and we’ll share.

David Laud

David.laud@i2isolutions.co.uk

Byadmin

Like for Like – Facing Up to Facebook

My daughters and in fact now my son, all teenagers, would be more than happy to tell you that I’m no expert on the world’s largest social media platform.

Compared to them and I suspect the vast majority of the teenage user demographic my personal posts would look rather tame, dare I say boring but then I’m not trying to connect to that age group. I do have a few family and friends who fall into the sub 20 category and they politely comment or “like” the odd post as I in turn return the compliment.

All very civilised, and that’s how I like my Facebook but I’m acutely aware that many have a very different view of the site and use it for baring their souls or at the very least the pain of their morning hangover. Facebook can also encourage narcissistic behaviour, posed photos craving “likes”, surveys to re-enforce your view of your personality or who of your friends think you’re the best looking…”Pleeeaasse!!!” save me from this.

Back to the matter in hand my challenge as a marketer is to try and understand all communication mediums and see how they best apply and work for not only my own personal use but in a business context too. Facebook presents the biggest challenge for many businesses.

Sure, Lee Cooper, Amex, Red Bull and many others have very slick Facebook pages and are making the medium work by adding multi layered engagement programmes which include clever competitions and “like” fests. These multi million dollar corporations can and do spend to develop these campaigns but can we learn anything from their efforts, can a Facebook page help your business?

The simple answer is “yes” if the true objective to having such a presence and the audience to whom you wish to connect is clearly understood.

On my personal Facebook page I’m not interested in building a “friend base” of hundreds, (I don’t have that many friends 🙁 ) its purpose is to help me stay connected with close family, friends and an alumni offering a varied and entertaining news feed. For my part I hope to add value to their feeds through my posts…sad as they may be according to the Laud clan.

When it comes to business or personal profiles we should really apply a similar philosophy. You know who you want to engage with, the messages that you want to share and the response you’re hoping to gain.

Despite my earlier negative jibe the Facebook “like” is solid social media currency. By creating an interesting, funny, poignant post that resonates with your network you can build a bank of “likes” and even better if it stimulates readers to comment back.

Unfortunately this clammer to be “liked” has led to a proliferation of cause related posts. A good friend likened them to a type of “chain letter” which is an excellent analogy given the implication that not liking the particular post meant you were by definition taking the opposing view. So therefore ignoring these posts meant you liked cancer, bullying, mistreating small dogs and generally suggested you change your username to Voldemort. All complete and utter nonsense yet many of us do click “like” on these posts and gain a little sense of community in feeling part of a group taking a stand against a particularly offensive topic.

So no I’m not an expert but then I’ve yet to meet a true expert in any social media platform. They move too quickly to be tied down analysed and given a de facto conclusion on how to use them. We all use Facebook in slightly different ways, there is no single correct way but there are plenty of poor examples.

For business or personal pages my advice is to be clear as to your purpose, keep the audience in mind and be consistent with your message. Don’t be disheartened by the lack of response to a particular post, in offline life there’s many a time friends would groan rather than laugh at my jokes. The key is consistency and believing in yourself. Of course we are all slightly different in a relaxed social setting than we are at work. The same approach should apply.

Facebook isn’t Linkedin but the business page won’t be enhanced by the type of content you’d normally deliver to your friends. An edge of professionalism touched with an element of fun is where I find my Facebook business page personality. I’d like to think that’s not a million miles away from how I am physically at work. Easier to be true to your own personality or culture of the business than to try and reinvent yourself for each social media platform.

By being consistent across platforms you’ll gain respect and understanding from a multitude of networks.

If you’re just starting out with Facebook for your business please feel free to drop me a line or comment and let me know how you’re approaching it. Be great to hear of a variety of ideas.

To find us on Facebook go to http://www.facebook.com/i2isolutions

David Laud – Chartered Marketer FCIM

Byadmin

Take the Screen Test to See if You’re Addicted to Apps

Does this sound familiar? You settle down to relax after a days work, the TV is as usual on and turning out the usual “reality” fest of low grade entertainment. Out of courtesy you check what your partner/family/ friends would prefer to watch, hoping you can for once agree but… when you look around the room you notice all fellow inhabitants are glued to the screen. No not the 40 inch flat screen in the corner but the 2.5 inch by 3 inch version held in the hand.

Are we becoming obsessed by our smartphones? You might think so if you, like me, play dodge the teenager on the high street as they walk along in a somnambulistic style, hypnotised by their device unable to look up and see who they’re about to collide with.

But is it the device or something else that’s causing this epidemic? The smartphones provide a portal to a new and exciting world but the true cause of our preoccupation are the various applications that live on these instruments.

Just before you think I’m taking the high ground I need to confess to my own weaknesses. Yes, I too have an addiction to the touch screen world. For me it started with my first iphone and has developed as I’ve been able to run my world through it. Well, perhaps more accurately it runs me.

I can break the problem down to 4 main areas of activity that can quickly become an addictive.

1. Checking e-mail
2. Checking text messages (it’s quite worrying how many drivers I see texting while driving!)
3. Checking social media sites for likes, mentions and comments
4. Games

Yes I tend to check my e-mail too often which is not helped by the multiple accounts and spam. There have also been a couple of recent examples of sudden onset addiction brought about by a newly downloaded app.

A problem with my broadband connection led to me downloading the “speedtest” app. Let’s just say I become rather too obsessed with download and upload speeds for a couple of weeks.

The other time thief is the analytical tools I have to measure social media activity. Yes I have too many sites but then its my job to keep abreast of these platforms. But my love/hate relationship with Klout is unhealthy and it’s time for the “it’s me not you, I need some time to work things out” break up conversation.

I do use a very large number of social media sites but I don’t think I’m unusual in the time I spend with my smartphone. Not unusual by the benchmark of the average user but that’s because we’ve become used to having our devices with us constantly.

It can’t be good for us to become obsessed and addicted to anything despite the attraction and apparent benefits of the developing technology. How much time can we fritter away on Angry Birds, Temple Run, Instagram (perfecting the image through photo apps), Linkedin group exchanges, Facebook babble, Tweets and RT’s, celebrity face matching…you get the idea.

But perhaps we should test our resolve and see how much of a problem we have. Here’s the “Screen Test” challenge. Pick one day this week and have 24 hours without access to your phone, tablet or smart device.

I did this recently and will now be making a habit of it as that day proved to be one of my most productive for quite some time.

Things you can do….

1. Catch up with industry/ local news by reading magazines
2. Plan ahead – your forthcoming week, month, year
3. Get creative and think of how you might make better use of your time and when you do have access to the device how you can take back control.
4. Arrange to meet that contact who you’ve been meaning to catch up with for months.

The technology is great but it’s still only a tool to be used effectively and not something that should dominate our lives. Just take the “Screen Test” and let me know how it was for you.

David Laud