Category Archives: blogging

Social Media: Fighting Fire with Fire

By Nicholas Beeson, Marketing Associate, Buzzwords Manchester

In the wake of recent riots, social media has received a bad press. The government claims social media “fuelled” riots and helped orchestrate organised vandalism and looting. Unlike the government, GMP (Greater Manchester Police) have embraced social media as a tool to prosecute, and publicise the prosecutions, of those involved with the recent riots.

GMP also used social media as a live platform during the riots to quash rumours and deter potential rioters. Greater Manchester Police’s early adoption of social media has demonstrated the trust social media can create with publics in times of crisis.

The Internet age has made winning and losing trust more complicated, faster and measurable than ever. This was demonstrated last week by the rioters, who were able to organise and publicise the riots quickly and on a mass scale. The digital revolution has enabled more people to have a voice. Anyone can publish their views and share them instantly.

This ability to publish instantly, combined with increased social networking sites creates a powerful tool that influences the views of people we trust (our friends). Communications has been turned on its head; the public now create the conversations and messages, putting marketers in the back seat.

Throughout the rioting in Manchester last week, GMP were engaging with the public and collecting evidence through the Twitter community by listening to conversations. This strategy can also be applied to business. Listening and engaging with your public through social media is vital, as the right kinds of conversations can inform sceptics and encourage new business. The wrong kinds of conversations can be monitored, evidence can be collected and companies can change.

In the end, building trust through social media is quite simple; it’s all about having more conversations with more people, about the things they care about. Many people (and the government) forget that social media is “social” and listening is at the heart of it.

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‘Copycat Kids’ Trash Manchester Businesses

It would seem that the masked rioters creating mayhem in Manchester yesterday – August 9th – were roaming gangs of teenagers. On several levels, this should give us reason to reflect.

The likelihood is that these ‘copycat kids’ were in it for the kicks. There’s also the buzz they get from taunting the police, and the possibility of grabbing some loot from smashed-in shops.  It’s unlikely that these people are politically motivated, although some may cite economic and social disadvantage as possible driving forces.

How much do we know of the socio-economic makeup of rioters in Manchester and other English cities?  Is it likely they’re organised and operated from behind by some mysterious left-wing Svengalis?  Or was the Tottenham shooting last week a catalyst for the underlying grievances of a growing group of disadvantaged and unemployed under-25s to emerge spontaneously, collectively and violently?

Although reprehensible, it’s only half the story to label all these people (in all these places) as ‘criminals’.  Yes, they’ve committed criminal acts against the homes and businesses of hard-working and innocent people – and should be held to account. 

What we need to look at, however, is whether the so-called rioters are impressionable young people craving some excitement in their otherwise dull and predictable lives?  Or are they immature, vulnerable and naive people following politically motivated ‘leaders’ who know how to whip up a groundswell of anger – exploiting the dispossessed status of so many young English people – by the clever manipulation of social media and smartphone communications?

Heaven forbid, it could just be that some of the rioters have a case!  Maybe the condemnation by the Establishment and the middle-class masses of Baby Boomers has completely missed the point?  Maybe it is they who are responsible for creating a whole generation who’ve been priced out of the housing market, higher education and well-paid middle-class careers that are reserved for a new privately-educated élite?   Or maybe we should round up a posse and drive those pesky bankers out of town?!

The enlightened liberalism that’s been sugared by decades of economic good fortune has blinded today’s older generation to the fact that there’s a huge swathe of humanity on their doorstep – albeit living on the poorer side of town – for whom rioting (or something akin to it) is an attractive, or only, option.  Democracy clearly doesn’t work for people at the bottom of the pile, simply because the rules of the winning Establishment have been drawn up by the winners themselves.

People taking to the streets is nothing new of course.  For the French, it’s been in their DNA since the 1789 Revolution – et vive La France!  Scarcely a year goes by without their students or unions blockading something or other.  In England, we’ve had our moments too.  Think: poll tax; miners’ strike; Iraq war.

In those cases, the protesting was by people who had a stake in English society.  This therefore gave their actions a greater sense of legitimacy.  Peaceful protest has ben recognised as being part of the English way of doing things for centuries.  Protesting turns to rioting only when peaceful means don’t work. 

In the case of many rioters over the past week, it could safely be said that the many economic and social grievances which currently abound in our society have not been addressed.  This, to some people, would lend justification to their actions.  Many would also say that Tory policies have aggravated an already-sensitive situation.

What isn’t yet clear is whether those who were rioting in our cities were mainly opportunists, jumping on a bandwaggon for cheap thrills – or whether there was a political dimension to the acts of at least some of those involved. 

As of 10 August 2011, it looks likely that there were some politically-minded agitators involved, and the rest followed their lead.  Whether they can sustain unrest at a level that will make a political difference is debatable, especially given the Establishment’s track-record of successfully keeping a lid on foment created by undesirable ‘fifth columnists’.

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Five Reasons Facebook Groups Are Still Important

By Nicholas Beeson, Marketing Associate, Buzzwords Manchester

Only a few years ago many businesses relied solely on Facebook groups to promote and market to their Facebook audiences. Many businesses have simply overlooked the power of groups since business pages were introduced.

Groups can still work well when you want to take quick action around a current issue, and are still often used to rally people around causes or current events. These are the five reasons why Facebook groups are still important:

  • Getting the message across

Sending messages to group members is very powerful because Group messages are sent directly to members’ inboxes, just like messages from a friend. Facebook pages restrict you from doing this, only allowing page updates!

  • Organising events

Groups are a great way to organise events and they also the give you the capability to message attendees. Group content is also now included in the Facebook Newsfeed, something once exclusive to Pages. This is a major factor in retaining members and driving engagement.

  • Time

Groups can be grown quickly, perfect when time is not on your side. Bulk invites to join a group can be sent to friends, which can also be helpful for viral marketing.

  • Control

Facebook groups provide you with much more control over who can be allowed in and out of your group! Groups can be made exclusive to certain networks; they can be private so they are only visible to members or available to all Facebook members. The control that groups provide can be helpful when creating a subsection of your page.

  • The personal touch

Facebook groups generally create a more personal feeling. They allow for close interaction with the administrator of the group, unlike a more anonymous page. Many find this personal interaction to be a welcome bonus in what can often seem like an impersonal digital age!

 
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Blogging: 4 Simple Steps Towards A Successful Blog…

By Nicholas Beeson – Marketing Associate, Buzzwords Manchester

In the age of social media, blogs should form the backbone of your social media marketing campaigns. The content is also valuable in its own right.

Blogs drive traffic to your website and create valuable links. Despite this, many of us forget what makes a blog successful. As a reminder, here are four SIMPLE – yet effective – tips on how to maintain a successful blog:

  • Develop a strong blogging ‘voice’

The overall style of your blog should reflect your business or brand. It should be designed to meet your overall marketing objectives. Your blog should be written in a tone that is open and credible, conversational and jargon-free. Use the blog as an extension of your website.

  • Blog frequently

For your blog to be successful, you need to add new content often. You should post at regular times to make it easier for your subscribers to follow. As a minimum, you should aim to post three new blog entries a week.

  • Avoid rambling on

Many bloggers don’t realise that the most successful blogs are very narrowly focused on specific issues and are made up of short entries. The title of your blog is also important as it helps optimise each blog post across the web. Blogs are meant to be read quickly. This should be reflected in your writing style.

  • Optimise for ‘The Links Effect’

Make sure you include relevant keywords – and add tags to match! This will help generate back-links to your website and thus help with SEO and search engine rankings. This in turn will generate traffic to provide the sales leads or other enquiries which will ultimately justify your website’s existence.

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How to Optimize your Facebook Page in 3 Simple Steps

Buzzwords' Facebook page

By Nicholas Beeson, Marketing Associate at Buzzwords Manchester

To get the most out of a Facebook page, you need to gain members. In order to do this, some basic SEO skills can be applied. Optimizing your Facebook page will enable it to be found on both Facebook and the World Wide Web!

Believe it or not, Facebook pages are indexed by search engines and can even be viewed by those without a Facebook account. Facebook pages also have the potential to rank highly!

Ranking well on Facebook’s internal search is even more important, as those searching for your brand or business on Facebook know what they want and will be able to find it with ease!

3 simple steps
To begin optimizing your page so it ranks well on both organic and internal searches, follow these 3 simple steps:

1. What are you about?

The “About” box is one of the most undervalued elements of a Facebook page. The “About” box provides you with a platform to add keywords that can tell customers and search engines what your page is about! The box also allows you to add clickable links that can direct customers back to your company’s website or any other related sites.

2. The category you place yourself in is vital

When deciding on the category in which to place your page, be careful. The category affects what you can add to your info, and how much you can add! When completing the info section, use lots of key words and add links to all of your related sites including your company website, blog, LinkedIn and Twitter.

3. Choose an appropriate URL and page name

When choosing the page name, make sure it is related to your organisation and easily visible to those searching for you. Once you have gained 25 ‘likes’, create a unique URL that is memorable and related to your brand!

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Muddy Waters plays on Chorlton railway station Manchester 1963!

Now that Metrolink trams have come to Chorlton-cum-Hardy in Manchester, discovering this video of blues legend Muddy Waters performing on the old Chorlton railway station in 1963 (Wilbraham Road for Chorltonville!) is 24-carat nostalgia!

That was the year when Lord Beeching wielded his axe to the British railway network as car ownership began to take off. Little did he know that the whole transport infrastructure would come full circle!

Thanks to Alan Ward at Axis Graphic Design in Chorlton for drawing my attention to this gem!!!

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Marketing 101 – The Digital Marketing Question…

 Written by Nicholas Beeson – Marketing Associate at Buzzwords Manchester

The past 15 years have seen the Internet revolutionise our society. The way we communicate, shop and socialise have all changed – meaning that marketing strategies had to follow suit. Nobody could have imagined the drastic impact the Internet would have upon our lives and marketing practices. Today, there’s a whole generation of consumers who have embraced the Internet, proving early sceptics wrong.

This has led to the development of digital marketing which has been described as the “execution of marketing using electronic media”. With digital marketing becoming ever more important, many companies are ditching traditional offline marketing (or reducing how much they spend on it).

In 2008, Orange announced that they would be investing all their marketing budget in digital by 2012. A company of this size switching to digital underlines the growing importance of the medium. Sarah Messer – Head of Commercial Research and Insight at ITV – was quoted in 2008 as saying:

The same ad content could be more effective online than on TV. In testing, ads on itv.com generated a 40% recall rate compared with 17% on ITV1.”

With digital marketing becoming a predominant part of many companies’ marketing budgets, it is important to gain an understanding, keep “up to date” with new marketing practice and determine how digital marketing is affecting traditional marketing strategy. Because the practice of digital marketing is relatively new, marketers will continue to have conflicting views about the issues surrounding it.

 
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Marketing 101 – Websites

Written by Nicholas Beeson, Marketing Associate at Buzzwords Manchester

It is generally accepted that online marketing revolves around having a web presence. Accessibility, communication, credibility, understanding, appearance, availability – these are all vital to successful websites. To maximise their potential, they need to work in conjunction with other online and offline marketing strategies.

Usability and accessibility are key elements for a successful website. They enable a site to be accessed by the widest possible audience and provide consumers with information and functionality they’re comfortable with. Usability is all about how easy it is for a visitor to achieve their objectives when visiting the site.

A website that provides good usability can pay dividends. If a user can accomplish their goals efficiently and effectively, it can increase website traffic, repeat visits and increase sales. The term “accessibility” in relation to the Internet, refers to the process of designing a website that is equally accessible to everyone. An accessible site enables a larger cross-section of the target audience to visit the site, thus increasing visits and sales.

For any website to reach its full potential, consumers have to be able to find the site. The majority of consumers today use search engines to find new websites. 80 percent of Internet users find new websites by typing a query into one of the major search engines. This emphasises the importance of the Internet search engines. As a result, the practice of SEO (Search Engine Optimization) has been developed.

SEO is all about making a site attractive to search engine robots by presenting its code and content in such a way that its pages will achieve high rankings in response to keywords typed in to make an online search. Matt Cutts, the head of the quality team at Google was asked in an interview with wired.com “Does search engine optimization work?” – to which he replied:

It does to some degree. Think of it this way: When you put a CV forward, you want it to be as clean as possible. If the CV is sloppy, you’re not going to get an interview for the job. SEO is sort of like tweaking your CV”.

SEO is becoming ever more important, and will continue to do so as long as the Internet continues to grow. In an online study commissioned by Google, it was found SEO could increase brand recall, increase purchase intent and brand affinity.

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Marketing 101 – Social Media Marketing

Written by Nicholas Beeson – Marketing Associate at Buzzwords Manchester

Social media has changed the way we interact with our friends, family, customers and colleagues. It has enabled consumers to become opinion leaders, leaving marketers only one option: to listen to their customers’ opinions.

Social media can be explained as, “The sum total of people who create content online, as well as the people who interact with one another.”

Through social media, consumers are now able to add their own opinions and content to sites. This has enabled them to form opinions between one another on social networking sites, blogs and forums. As a result, marketers have developed Social Media Marketing (SMM) which can best be described as;

‘A term used to encompass any online marketing strategy or tactic which uses social media as the medium for its communication. Further use of social media is where the marketer engages in discourse with members of the general public (potential customers) in virtual communities.’

Social networking sites like Facebook and Twitter are at the forefront of social media sites and, as the world knows, they are growing exponentially. Expert Larry Webster states that social networks are “Member-based communities that enable users to link one another based on common interests and through invites”.

Sites like Facebook, LinkedIn and Twitter all provide users with different experiences. Ultimately, however, they all give users the ability to find and connect with friends, family, colleagues etc. Social networking sites enable marketers to advertise, improve online exposure/reputation and nurture pre-existing brand advocates. Although the security and privacy that these sites provide is often questioned, they continue to grow and influence modern society.

As an example: when a US blogger called Vincent Ferrari felt that he had been insulted by an AOL customer service representative, he decided to take revenge. Ferrari posted the audio recording of the conversation online. As word spread, 300,000 listeners requested downloads of the audio file, the story was picked up by thousands of other bloggers and websites, and eventually made national news. This is a great example of the power blogs have and the true freedom consumers now have to vent their frustrations and offer opinions.

Businesses are also using blogs to add a human connection to a previously bland corporate image. Marketers have realised the importance of blogs as they can create massive exposure and also engage consumers on a personal level. Micro-blogging site, Twitter, gives business the opportunity to put out short 140-character blogs that can be just as effective as conventional blogs in moulding and influencing public opinion.

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Marketing 101 – E-mail Marketing

 

By Nicholas Beeson, Marketing Associate at Buzzwords Manchester

E-mail has become a part of our everyday communication. It is now one of the most powerful elements of digital marketing, enabling marketers to communicate quickly, efficiently and at low cost. When used correctly and ethically, it is one of the most effective forms of online marketing.

E-mail marketing is like traditional direct mail. It goes without saying that accurate targeting is vital. Digital marketers use CRM to build a database of customers, to build and maintain relationships with consumers through regular e-mails, where they’re offering discounts, vouchers and so on.

CRM is an acronym for “Customer Relationship Management”. It’s a marketing-led approach to building and sustaining long-term business with customers. CRM enables marketers to build a relationship with customers and understand their needs. Customers can be segmented according to their tastes, resulting in e-mail marketing campaigns that are targeted towards customers most likely to respond.

E-mail marketing can also enhance brand loyalty. Regular e-mails that give consumers access to what they want, when and where they want it will clearly keep them interested in the brand.

E-mail communication gives the consumer a sense of being valued which will further enhance brand loyalty. Furthermore, ongoing communication reassures the customer they are using the right brand and helps to develop a relationship between them and the brand. Most importantly, E-mail marketing is low-cost, effective and very efficient.

 
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Marketing 101 – Online PR and Reputation Management

By Nicholas Beeson, Marketing Associate at Buzzwords Manchester

PR is one of the most important elements of the marketing mix. It’s all about building positive relations with your company’s customers through publicity that builds a positive image around the company.

PR is even more important online. On the negative side, rumours and stories about companies can spread like wild-fire, damaging reputations and credibility in double-quick time. On the positive side, customer feedback can be invaluable in gaining an understanding of what the market is really thinking about your company, its products and services.

Internet marketing author and blogger Dave Chaffey gives a good description of Online PR: “Online PR is about maximising favourable mentions of your company, brands, products or web sites on third-party websites which are likely to be visited by your target audience. Online PR can also be used to support viral or word-of-mouth marketing activities in other media.”

Overall, Online PR boils down to two key things: raising the online profile of a business and managing the online reputation of a business.

Although the Internet has allowed companies to monitor and influence online conversations, it can also present them with a new set of problems. In particular, the complete freedom of speech that is possible online has worked against many companies.

The Internet is to a large extent uncontrolled. In principle, anyone can say or show anything. Much of the material that reaches the public no longer passes through traditional gatekeepers such as newspaper editors, radio or television producers. The result is both freedom of speech and distribution of unreliable, unconfirmed and often untrue information. This can be a threat – but also an opportunity – for PR practitioners.

An example of this lawlessness on the Internet was seen with the recent BP oil disaster. The social media site “Twitter”, saw 1 million conversations about BP. Of these conversations, 59% were deemed to be negative towards BP. This absolute freedom of speech can be damaging to companies, which further underlines the importance of Online PR and having a fall-back strategy in place. Communicating with online communities and PR ‘publics’ is vital as it raises the company profile as well as maintaining the reputation of the company or brand.

Social media is of course at the heart of the Online PR frenzy. Blogging and online news releases are other inter-related techniques used by companies to promote themselves online. The Digibuzz blog talks about the importance of online press releases;

In a significant report, titled ‘Search Marketing Benchmark Guide’, MarketingSherpa reported that online press releases, combined with organic search engine optimization, are among the most effective Internet marketing strategies.”

In its aims and effects, Online PR is not hugely different to offline PR. The principles are the same but the channels are different. Nowadays, Online PR and reputation management are a crucial part of any digital marketing plan. Online conversations constantly need to be monitored to pre-empt any negative feedback. Whilst Online PR raises a company’s profile, wherever possible it also needs to be carefully managed to protect the online image and reputation of a company.

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