Blogging

Social Media and the ‘New Normal’

These are indeed challenging times for people in all walks of life and business is no different. Many are saying that the way we used to conduct business has now changed and we are now living in the 'new normal'. But what does this 'new normal' look like and are there any best practice examples that we can take from companies and apply to our own? Of course there are and here are some examples I've found.

Education

MIT

Here's a neat example from MIT to show that, even in times of a pandemic, what might seem as a huge problem can easily be overcome.  Even defending your doctoral thesis can be done online. There's video is compiled nicely and we can learn something from concept, to presentation and to the fact that not even borders act as a barrier.

Cornell University

Many people have graduated from your university and, this can provide you with a lot of content ideas. Here, Cornell University invites entrepreneur and ex student Steve Hindy for a talk and live beer tasting. What could be better?

University of Manchester

During lockdown we have seen a huge increase in the number of people using video platforms like Zoom, Microsoft teams and Google hangouts. The University of Manchester has just started a series of videos titled "lockdown lectures" and the first one is with renowned physicist Brian Cox. Consider how you could be using this idea of lockdown lectures/diaries/exercises for your own organisation.

Harvard University

If the customer can't go the business/university/school, why not take it to the customer? Even though you can't hear Harvard University's bells they decided to put those bells online. This is a great example of where organisations which have venues or locations – think parks, universities, wildlife parks, farms or even entertainment and sporting venues – can film the location and post it up on to the Internet. Some of them, like Harvard, can fall back on digital media assets which they have created in the past.

Social Media tip - hardwire Social Media into your brain and document what happens in your working day. You never know when you might use it.

Lowell Bells

Since we can’t be on campus to hear the bells of Lowell House ring each Sunday, we are bringing the bells to you.(Video footage was recorded earlier this year.)

Posted by Harvard University on Friday, 24 April 2020

How about giving your followers an insight into what your employees have been up to during this time? Harvard University has selected 40 students from around the world and created 40 'lockdown updates'.

Food and Drink

Costa Coffee

You might not be able to go to Costa and order one of their lattes but that doesn't stop them promoting their coffee packs so that you can enjoy your it at home. In this example they are teaching you how to make the perfect coffee using your cafetiere. The video series is titled 'From our home to yours' and features (from their homes) top tips from Costa's baristas.

Cotswold Cheese Company

Even though shops and restaurants are largely closed (but starting to slowly reopen) many companies have seen a boom in online sales. However, what is surprising is the number of food and drink companies that have been quite inactive during the lockdown period. Folks, this is precisely the time that they should be more active, especially if they have e-commerce capability. I like this example which announces winners from a recent online competition from Cotswold Cheese Company as 1. the picture is taken in the shop to remind you they are open 2. it shows the hampers which people can buy online. Business continuity is so important in this time.

We were so overwhelmed with giveaway entries that we have decided to pick two winners! The lucky hamper prize will go to...

Posted by The Cotswold Cheese Company on Tuesday, 5 May 2020

Riverford

As many of you will know Riverford is a favourite of mine when delivering social media courses. This simple video highlights all the steps that they are taking to ensure a safe and supportive environment for their staff and customers. I'm sure there are many lessons for all of us in business to learn from this. Boots and B and Q also have some good examples of showing the steps they are putting in place to look after staff and customers.

Supporting co-owner wellbeing through Coronavirus

As an employee-owned business, supporting co-owner wellbeing through Coronavirus is really important to us. These are the steps we have taken to make the Riverford working environment a safe and supportive one...

Posted by Riverford on Friday, 15 May 2020

Retail

Waterstones

Waterstones is another of my favourite Social Media favourites. They are SO good on Social Media and though they don't have the budget of Amazon they certainly deliver a far better social media experience. In this example we can see that they have used one of the popular video conferencing applications to record an interview with not just the stars and director of Normal People but also from some Waterstones staff. It's worth watching if you're looking for great tips on how to conduct video interviews or even webinars.

Square

Square is a payments company that serves both individual and businesses. More often than not you will come across them when you swipe your card at the local coffee shop. They have always promoted their customers and customer use of their products/services on Social Media and through the pandemic they have sought to highlight customer stories through the use, amongst other techniques, of short podcast stories. I must say I really like the format of these within Twitter.

Joules

Fashion clothing company Joules invite you to see how their staff are coping with lockdown. In this video one of the fashion designers talks about what she gets up to at the weekends - painting plants and flowers from her garden! I do like this approach where people within the company step outside of their working life and show us other aspects of life or even new skills they have learnt during lockdown.

https://www.instagram.com/tv/CAcZitSgFrp/?utm_source=ig_web_copy_link

So, as we can see, even though most of us are unable to work from an office this does not mean that our social media efforts have to stop; on the contrary this is especially the time where companies need to double up and think in a different way about how to keep in touch and engage with their customers. The examples above, I hope, will give you inspiration and ideas as to how your company can approach the task of using social media in the 'new normal'.


Social Media Spotlight on Fitbit

With the summer holidays over there's a good chance that you will want to shed all those excess pounds that you have gained over the last couple months. And this means, undoubtedly, that you will start looking for fitness accessories: trainers, shorts, tops and, quite possibly, a fitness tracker. If you're looking for a fitness tracker, there is every chance that you will evaluate one of the top 3 in terms of sales volume - Fitbit. So, what is this company doing in terms of social media activity?

In terms of social media Fitbit uses a number of platforms. As we can see below they are using Facebook, Twitter, Instagram, Pinterest, YouTube and a blog. The first two even have dedicated UK accounts. What I aim to do now this offer an overview of how Fitbit is using each of these platforms hopefully this will give you some ideas and inspiration for managing and maintaining your own social media channels.

Fitbit Blog

As you can see from the headers at the top of the screenshot, blog articles are categorised according to whether they fall into the topics of Get Moving, Eat Well, Feel Good, Be Inspired or Fitbit News. You could say the first four sections are focused on your health and well-being, whilst the last section offers you a glimpse of the latest products and apps, events and media coverage of Fitbit. A rudimentary search on Google indicates that there are over 3000 articles written on this blog (the blog has been around product launched in 2007).

(more…)


Mobile Video for Social Media Workshops

We are REALLY excited to announce that from July we are are going to be running a Mobile Video for Social Media Marketing Workshop. Marketing Tom has teamed up with experienced mobile video trainer, Anna Brees, whose cv includes being a successful Broadcast Journalist working as a reporter and presenter for ITV and the BBC, a facilitator with the National Union of Journalists and who has been successfully running training courses for the past 9 months.

>> Check out dates and booking information <<


We plan to deliver these workshops on a regular basis from September. However, before that we are looking to run a ‘pilot’ session (or two) to see the dynamics of Anna's delivery mixed with some of our own digital marketing/social media approaches (Anna has already delivered around 30 workshops and worked with Arriva Trains and Admiral). It will very much be hands-on with plenty of time for creating and editing your own videos and will focus on creating video for social media through your mobile phone be it an iPhone, Samsung or pretty much any mobile/tablet device.

Workshop Overview

You will learn the following:

  • Advanced filming and editing skills using the native camera app and KineMaster
  • Simple animation graphic apps like Animoto and Flyr
  • Where to find free to use music, video and images
  • How to turn your phone into an autocue so you never forget what to say
  • Apps that create timelapse footage
  • How to do chroma key, green screen

The plan is to have a mixed group of people of - probably no more than 10.

Cost

We are going to slash the price from our usual £195 to £115 per delegate or 2 for £185 for this pilot course. London prices will be £215 and £345 for 2 delegates.

>> Check out dates and booking information <<


Social Media Spotlight on: Waterstones

On our Social Media courses we cover channels such as Twitter, Facebook, LinkedIn and blogging and we try to make sure that we keep content as up-to-date as possible. This means keeping an eye out, and making changes, to all sections of our presentation as and when required. So, when Facebook adds video capability to Facebook covers or when Twitter expands the character count to 280, we make sure that this is reflected in our course materials. On top of this, we also try to make sure that we present our students with as broad an array of social media examples as possible. We show them what Marks & Spencer, Foster and partners, Riverford, Imperial College, Maersk, the British Museum, General Electric, Square and many more are using social media channels.

One company that I have used over the years, and whose social media presence has caught my attention again recently, is Waterstones. This is a company that uses a number of different social media channels to reach out to it's target audience. We can see that they use it for customer acquisition, retention and conversion. With channels such as blogging, we can also see that they are also considering content marketing/search engine optimisation. As I have done with both Starbucks and Flavourly, I would now like to highlight how they are using the social media platforms. (more…)


11 Benefits of Using the WordPress Platform

wordpress-logo-stacked-rgbWe have been involved in blogging since around 2003 and have been offering blogging courses for many years (starting in 2005). Over the last year or so we have been delivering WordPress courses. We think that WordPress is one of the most powerful blogging platforms out there and with its relative ease of use it is an ideal solution for those who have limited html experience. Here are some of the reasons why we think WordPress is such a great platform.

  1. It's free - WordPress.com is free and even downloading the 'kit' to develop yourself is free (hosting is something you will have to sort out).
  2. Scalable - both in terms of what you want to achieve and in terms of your knowledge. If you want basic functionality, why not start out with WordPress' hosted solution? Want more functionality? Host in on your own server (but you my need html knowledge unless you use a pricier like GoDaddy).
  3. Easy to use - understand how to use Gmail, Yahoo! or Hotmail? Then WordPress should come easy to you. This is one, very intuitive platform.
  4. Up-to-date - if you're using the hosted version of WordPress, you will be prompted to update to the latest version. If it's hosted by someone like GoDaddy or some other hosting company it's straightforward to update. These updates mean that you can always take advantage of the very latest advances from this platform.
  5. Browser not desktop based - you can access WordPress from any browser, desktop or laptop regardless of where you are.
  6. Search Engines love it - it's structured so well for search engines. Headlines become page titles and URL's and the underlying architecture is solid. Just notice how your pages start appearing for myriad searches on google, et al. But don't forget YOU still have to understand how SEO works to help. There are some plugins such as Yoast SEO for WordPress and All in One SEO Pack, which will AID you in your SEO efforts.
  7. 3rd party themes and plugins - both the hosted and self-hosted versions offer a wide variety of website themes and plugins to give the look and functionality of your site/blog. Check these WordPress themes and these WordPress plugins for starters.
  8. It's a blog and a website - WordPress has two key parts: pages and posts which allow you not just to write blog articles (posts) but also pages which can help to flag up products, services, contact us and about us pages.
  9. Mobile ready - we know that Google is a 'mobile first' company but WordPress also lets you create sites which are responsive and designed for both desktop and laptop viewing.
  10. Social media friendly - whether you want to connect up your channels on your blog or just allow visitors to share your content on their favourite platforms, WordPress already has this functionality built in. You can place your social media channel buttons where you wish on your template and add the most suitable social plugins to your blog articles or posts.
  11. Great administration - WordPress lets you add users, with different privileges, who can create, adminster or edit different elements of the site.

Related Course

WordPress Training Course (London and Cardiff)


And, we have a winner!

ann-3d-3As many of you are aware, we have been running a book competition this month. The book we had on offer was Ann Handley's "Everybody Writes" and the two winners of the draw, which we held today, were Rhian Jeffs and Gemma Williamson. Well done to you both. Your books will be sent out to you in the post next week. And for everybody else, please look out for our special Christmas Draw over the next few weeks.


Mary Meeker’s Internet Trends 2015

Every year Mary Meeker issues a report on the latest Internet trends. This year you have 196 slides where you can discover the latest trends, stats and innovations. This is great for those involved in digital marketing who may use it to help shape strategy, as an aid to convince the boss of your digital plan or to give presentations. It is also superb as a reference for those who are doing digital marketing qualifications. So, make yourselves a cup of tea, sit back and be prepared to learn LOADS!


Christmas Stocking Filler From Guy Kawasaki

7131UWJun+LGuy Kawasaki, for the uninitiated, is an extremely well-known in Social Media circles - with a huge following on Twitter, Google+ and Facebook. He was Apple's chief evangelist and advisor to CEO of Motorola. He has also written a number of books and is EXTREMELY active on Social Media! His most recent book is called the The Art of Social Media: Power Tips for Power Users, which he co-wrote with Peg Fitzpatrick. It is a neat reference book and is divided into 123 tips on how to master social media, covering broad areas like How To Optimise Your Profile, How To Feed The Content Monster, How To Get More Followers, How To Socialise Events and How To Optimise For Individual Platforms. Here are a few of those tips that I would like to share with you.

Finding The Right Content
I like that Guy Kawasaki breaks content down into two areas which you can use, as he says, "to feed the beast". These areas are content creation, where you generate content using text, image, video, powerpoint, etc and content curation - finding content from other people's sites and sharing it. The latter sits neatly in the "I-haven't-got-much-time-to-blog-this-week" category.

Make a Plan
Guy says that he is not a great fan of cogitating for long periods of time but still believes you need a plan to help you accomplish what you set out to do with social media. Briefly, he says you need to:

  1. Figure out how to make money
  2. Figure out what kind of people you need to attract to make money.
  3. Figure out what those people want to read (which is probably different from what you want them to read).

Use An Editorial Calendar
Though he says that he doesn't subscribe to this approach and prefers a "spray and pray" approach, he says his co-author likes this approach and recognises it can be useful for managing blog posts, alongside Google+, Facebook and LinkedIn updates. Here is an example of the editorial calendar he uses (which interestingly is one we recommend on the Social Media courses we run!). Notice how it details target personas, keywords and calls to action.

calendar

Tap Into Good Content By Using List, Circles, Communities and Groups
He recommends using public Twitter Lists to find interesting users around a topic and private ones to track what people are doing and saying (like competitors).  He recommends using Facebook Lists, which allows you to stream updates from Pages or people and Google+ for organising contacts.

Be Valuable
Good 'stuff' (content) comes in four forms:

  • Information
  • Analytics
  • Assistance
  • Entertainment

Be Interesting
Guy advocates discussing topics which, you could say, sometimes go "off topic". He says that people, often mistakenly, assume that others want to hear about a "narrow band of subjects". One example he gives is a restaurant writing an article along the lines of, "Atomic particles help solve wine fraud: the scientific way to cut a cake".

Be Visual
Recent stats show that use of images and video leads to increased engagement, sharing, liking and commenting on social media. Guy cites a stat that says that views of content increased by 94% when accompanied by relevant photograph or infographic. Some examples of how to be more visual included:

  • Including a link on updates like Facebook or Google+ - this automatically brings in images from the story you are referencing 9see Facebook example below).
  • Create a picture from a screenshot


Be Sly
Have you considered using titles for your posts along the lines of:

How to Rock ...
A Complete Guide To ...
Essential Steps to ...
What No One Tells You About ...

The book contains a neat infographic with 74 blog post titles.

Be Active
It probably goes without saying that you need to be fairly active but not too active on Social Media. He includes an interesting couple of charts to define the number of posts "casual" and "hard-core" users will be publishing to various platforms - for Twitter 8-12 tweets were identified for casual and 25 for hard-core! He also explains an experiment whereby he shared 4 identical tweets with different tracking links and saw that instead of getting 1300 clicks (based on tweeting once), he got 7600 clicks (based on tweeting four times). He concludes that would you rather irritate a few people or get 5.8 times more clicks.

There are so many valuable tips that I think those new to social media, and even those already using it, will find useful in this book. I saw quite a few that I'd had not heard of, others that showed I was doing some things correctly and others that have made me look again at the way I do things. One observation though, I bought the hard-cover version and wished I had bought the Kindle version as it does include clickable links to useful sites.


New WordPress Blogging Workshop

WP 2

We are pleased to announce that from December we are going to run a new workshop: WordPress Blogging Workshop. The workshop is aimed at new users of WordPress who would like to learn how to create, design, write and manage a WordPress.com website. WordPress is the one of the web's most popular publishing platforms and is an ideal tool for creating a blog or website.

On this day we will be using the FREE WordPress.com hosted solution and you will:

  • discover the benefits of blogging and WordPress
  • create your own FREE WordPress site
  • wp3learn  to change themes, headers and background images
  • write and source articles for your blog
  • create navigation bars
  • edit and embed videos, images, tweets, and more
  • add functionality, like sidebars and email updates, to their blog
  • add Social Media Share buttons to posts and connect Twitter accounts
  • and much, much more

The cost for this course is £229 in Cardiff and £329 in London. Our first course will run on December 19th in Cardiff and February 2nd in London. for further information, please check our WordPress Training page.