Monday, October 27, 2014

Viral Marketing our first effort

Have you shared, liked, clicked or laughed at some 90 second funny video.  Of course you have, humans are emotive creatures and we love a laugh and a bit of sentimentality.

Well now we're having a a go at that very same thing.  This is the first in series of what we hope will be fun and edgy little videos designed to provoke a small reaction to be shared and to ultimate raise awareness of a brand.  it's all great fun.

Please take a moment to watch the Video and then feel free to share it with your friends and family.  It pure entertainment.


Viral Marketing our first effortSocialTwist Tell-a-Friend
Repost This

Friday, October 17, 2014

Future of Web Design

I think I'm working this out - your thoughts are welcome.

Like with every Industry the IT/Internet/Web Industries are growing up, computers aren't what they were, Mobile phone can do 'everything' and all the pioneers of programming stuff are reaching their fifties or even thinking about retiring.

So where are we all going.  We have to look pragmatically and realistically at what is going on around us, we've just experienced or we're in the tail of of a human era like no other, the last 20 years of the Personal Computer have created a revolution in creativity and freedom of expression.  We can visit almost any website we like and contribute and if that wasn't enough we can easily learn the skills to make our own website - these days it's more on a par with cooking than learning French, anyone can do it.

But will this last - I'm not at all spelling out a doom and gloom here - but with Tablets and Phones massively taking the place of our PC's and grey boxes in the corner of the room - we are losing some of our ability to build and create our own websites and thus in reality we're also giving up some of our freedom of expression.

Of course - there will be plenty of other ways to express what we want to say and probably only a fraction of web users ever bothered to make their own website.  But none-the-less something in our ability to have complete freedom will disappear.

Examples:

  • We seen this happen to the car industry - most of our grandparents would happily get under a car and try to fix it, in fact cars were so unreliable they had to.  These days cars are better built - but you can't service them you need to go to a Garage.
  • Our teenagers currently learn a lot about computing and that's great - but as they use Tablets and iPhones more and more - a bit like the old VHS machines - they won't know what it is like to work n a Desktop computer.  They'll lose a vital skill in learning how this Internet thing works
  • Rise of the banks - as usual money drives most things - instead of making your own website from scratch and hooking it into a Bank so you can take payments will gradually become a thing of the past.  Instead you'll buy into a 'system' and insert your bank details and some will happen behind the scenes to make it all work.
So what does this all mean, I don't think it will effect the ways people express themselves particularly, but there will be consequences:
  • Cost - it will definitely cost more to set up a website, yes there will always be 'free', but if you want to sell something or actually 'do' something it will cost more.  Also if you want to be successful (i.e. have more than just a hobby website) then it will cost significantly more.
  • Web Designers and IT skilled people - because things will be more reliable and when you 'buy' into a system in theory it should be easier - but we'll experience a further shortage of people will the skills required.  There simply aren't enough learning how it all works to cater for the demand.  Take away the fundamentals of learning how computers work (which will happen to some degree) and you will get even fewer skilled IT people.
My greatest fear is that websites are set to rise in price dramatically.  You'll buy into a 'system' like www.wordpress.com or www.shopify.com, but very quickly you'll need to pay for some expertise and it will be significantly more expensive than today.

As a comparison we could be looking at the medical profession where you can get most things for free(ish) on the NHS - but actually if you want something extra you have to go private and then the numbers are simply staggering.

Does this spelt out some good news for Website Designers - not really, instead of getting a full eCommerce website up and running for £3000 (approx) and making sure the website is all singing and dancing... it's going to cost £15,000 and there's going to be a heck of a lot more to take into account.

We here already cater for Facebook, Twitter, Pinterest, Instagram, Google Plus by default, not to mentions a vast array of 3rd party services for everything from hosting, statistics through to advertising and seo.  As we need to plug into more and more of these systems - so to will our time, intelligence and skill be tested more and more.

In fact the pressure for website designers will be to take on fewer clients for more money, exasperating the already considerable shortage of skilled IT people.

As I said at the beginning, I'm working this out, in terms of the future, I do see plenty of ways that people will self express on the website, that is not at issue, but I also see a significantly higher cost to market, fewer IT professionals which will ultimately lead to fewer, but better websites.

Supply and demand runs everything of course - but I suspect I'll retire before there is a seriously disruptive industry that will shake all this up again and that is a bit of a shame,



Future of Web DesignSocialTwist Tell-a-Friend
Repost This

Thursday, October 09, 2014

Social Media Round Up

I've been on Facebook since 2006 (8 years) and Twitter since March 2007 (7 years) - Wowzers it's been a long time.

I'm also pointing out that 93% of America Marketeers are planing to significantly increase their social media spending for Christmas 2014, I forget where I read these things probably Twitter, but regardless of the exact figures spending, time and effort is going significantly upwards.

But have you stopped to consider what all this means?  I write this blog primarily for my clients and to advise and perhaps shed a little light on what's going on in the Web World and really Social Media might be summed up as an entire industry fuelled largely by it's own endeavour.  Talk it up enough and it'll go mainstream, throw enough mud some will stick and the marketeers favourite spend enough and it will work.

So - message - we all need to be very aware of this - the hype and noise about Social Media and new websites that pop-up every three seconds isn't going away - but equally the importance and relevance to your company or website should be properly considered.

There is no longer any doubt in my mind that Social Media can bring great benefits for your business or website, there is a firm and undeniable role and this Post isn't about fobbing off Social as a fad.  So a few thoughts to consider:

  • It really is Social
    You need to consider Social Media as part of a very large cocktail party - you'll meet lots of people, say hi to a few, talk about the weather to a few more and occasional make a friend.
  • It's definitely Long Term
    Two plus two equals four, it also equals 100% growth rate... it actually takes quite a long time to expand from 2, 4, 8, 16, 32, all the way to 10,000 when it might start being worth it.
  • Amusing or Satisfying or Answering your Audiences needs
    Find the gap in the market and you'll make it, it WILL seems strange putting in all this effort for 30 people - but it will eventually pay off.
  • Money makes the world go round
    Don't do it - at least not yet - I see no need to spend any money on Social Media advertising.  Paying someone for content, to tweet or manage your Social Media - but paying Facebook for Adverts is not recommended.
I don't think you need to take any of these verbatim, but all are worth a bit of thought and referring back to as you go along.

Regarding the spending on Facebook - have a read of http://blog.ncompass.co.uk/2014/07/have-you-missed-facebook-boat.html
Social Media Round UpSocialTwist Tell-a-Friend
Repost This

Tuesday, September 23, 2014

Stop and Think - Plan Plan Plan

Ok -a rant coming along - here goes - you've been warned.

I see far to many companies organise their marketing around a sort of reactionary ideas list, or if you really want to put it another way - on a whim. Ideas fly, events happen and ALS Ice Challenges come and they go.

But I also see companies sticking to a strict marketing principal, guideline and pre planned series of events.

The trouble is the Planners are all part of bigger teams and companies and sadly they are nearly always the successful and bigger businesses.  Sure logistically they have to do a lot more planning, but because they do their homework and plan Christmas in July - it works and guess what these companies grow and reap the rewards.

So my rant is simple - plan plan plan and make it happen.  There are some great tools out there these days to make all this happen.  Let me go through a few:

  1. Google Spreadsheets - forget Gantt Charts and complicated systems - start with a very simple spreadsheet and stick to it.

    Put the months or weeks down in column A and then consider you most important 'routes to market' in the following columns...  Typical column headings might be website, blog, newsletter, social media.

    Insert Topics only this is to give you the bare bones of a marketing plan.

  2. Google Calendars - add key dates and targets for those date here - when you do you want to launch X campaign.  When do you want to send a Newsletter.

    By putting in dates months in advance you can easily see what is coming up and how you might handle it.

    Finally if new ideas come up - insert them at a time that suits you - don't just make them the next thing on your to-do list.
  3. Assemble your Team - The bigger the team the better - and delegate - get the artwork guy making pictures and the copy person assembling copy - by delegating you make everyone understand that is a deadline to be met.

    The deadline is critical and ensure everyone is aware of it.

    Tools like www.teamwork.com are perfect for this sort of time based task delegation.
Suddenly everything looks a little bit rosier - you don't have to panic so much and you have something you can constantly refer to.  The sheer concept of having a new idea and scheduling it to happen some time in the future means you can really build that idea up and do it properly.

All in all - simplicity is best and from our experience here, I see time and time again that the companies with the organised approach to marketing are the ones that win the accolades.
Stop and Think - Plan Plan PlanSocialTwist Tell-a-Friend
Repost This

Sunday, August 10, 2014

HTTPS Everywhere - What is it?



In a nutshell HTTPS is a secure way for you to browse the Internet. You'll have recognised that most URL's start with HTTP:// in front of the usual www, but with the extra 'S' in there it makes your website secure.

In the past using HTTP means that it is relatively easy for criminals, crooks, and Ahem Government Agencies to effectively spy on what you're doing.  Increasing marketing agencies and data collection companies are doing this as well - It's part of the big brother culture we live in.

Privacy Advocates have long campaigned to stop our privacy being eroded and while most of us don't really care that much, occasional we do care when we're endless called by the same marketing people or we've been a victim of internet fraud.  Like most crime - it does actually hurt when you're effected.

Technically when you click a link or button on a website - it sends a message across the internet to come other computer out there which responds and shows you the next page you want.  All the while that your 'command' is travelling across the internet it can be accessed and monitors.  Simple tracking software makes it easy to see what forms you're filling in or what web pages you're looking at.

HTTPS makes this more secure - it shambles your commands as they traverse the website and at the other end the website unscrambles the message and sends back a scrambled result for your computer to understand.  Anyone accessing that data won't understand it unless they have the 'key' which only your computer and the website will have.

The Solutions
The onus to sort this out is on the website owner.  They are the ones that need to make sure their websites are secure and protected so that their users can use their websites safely.  Thus my explanation here.

In the past all this was very expensive and a bit complicated to install, but these days it is all much cheaper and there are plenty of services that can do it for either a low monthly cost or a one off annual cost.

To get HTTPS you need to either subscribe to an only system such as www.cloudflare.com - costing about $20 per month where they do everything for you, it is seriously easy - just sign up and make a small change to your domain.

Or you can get your own SSL Certificate - install it on your Hosting Package and it will start working.  The cost is in the region of $100 per year.

SEO Implications
It's worth nothing that as per the Video above Google have become strong supporters of HTTPS and if you look when using Google you'll see that all their websites are now secure.  Google are fully recommending that all websites are made this way by default and are prepared to give websites that are secure a boost on their rankings.

Our Recommendation
For the SEO improvement alone I would recommend using HTTPS for your website, we are also strong believers in making sure that people feel comfortable using your website.  This leads to a better user experience and people will be more likely to buy into your service or product, leading to more sales and enquiries.

In the fuller circle of website marketing for the cost of a few hundred quid being secure on your website is no longer the expensive option it once was.  In fact the opposite these days it can easily lead to more success, new customers and better rankings on Google.

HTTPS Everywhere - What is it?SocialTwist Tell-a-Friend
Repost This

Friday, July 11, 2014

Have you missed the Facebook Boat?

I get a weekly report from Facebook about all the pages on Facebook that I manage, if you're not sure what Facebook Pages are - they are the 'company' side of Facebook where you can follow the brands, artists, shops, topics, companies, organisations, charities or anything else... instead of befriending someone you can just 'like' a Facebook page and you'll see snippets about them on your personal timeline.

So back to my weekly report - it's one of those Facebook emails that comes automatically, I tend not to pay to much attention to it as it's main purpose is t get me to Post more things more often.

However, it does list the 10 most popular pages that I manage and what I have noticed over the past three months is the incredible slow down in 'growth' these pages have had.

I manage Facebook pages of all sizes, from less than 100 Likes to over 200,000 and looking back I can see growth rates of 5%, 10% frequently, even the larger pages were doing well hitting 3%, and 3% of 100,000 Likes is alot of extra people being added all the time.

Then it all stopped, the average growth rate of the Pages I manage is now around 0.1% if I'm lucky, worse for the bigger pages most of whom are in decline.  It seems Facebook has come to a full stop.

New pages remain relatively easy to get 30 or 40 people I already know to Like them... i.e. tapping ones own database of contacts, but after that it's an uphill struggle to get anyone to Like a Facebook Page at all.

There are reasons for this, they are quite difficult to put into words, but for now I want to address the question of whether or not - you've missed the Facebook Boat.  The answer is almost emphatically Yes!

Just thinking about it, if you have 10,000 Likes, you've got an audience, you might have built up those likes a little dubiously, but you've got them for the time being.  However each time you Post a Status Update it will be fired out to about 3-4% of your 10,000 Likes, i.e. about 300-400 people.  Some of those people will Like or Pass it on... you can see the numbers game going on here.

You gain more Likes by encouraging your existing Likes to share your content... As they Like, Share or Comment on your Updates - it goes out to their friends.  You're in a decent position and providing the bulk of your 10,000 Likes are geniune followers of your Page, then you can expect to be able to continue to market effectively to your audience.

Now if. you've got 100 Likes and your Status Updates are only sent the Facebook 3-4% then you're in trouble, the chances of people Liking you are significantly less.  Facebook is still a numbers Game. You have missed the boat.

Facebook has made it far harder to gain geniune and desirable Likes... literally when you Post something a random 3-4% of your Likes will recieve it and even them most of them will miss your Update because they are swamped with all their other information.  You're becoming a needle int he haystack.

Facebook's solution is to get you to spend money, Advertise on Facebook and your Update won't just reach your Likes more effectively, but it will extend well beyond and depending on your defined criteria it exposes your Updates well beyond your Likes.

But now you have a quandry, Facebook is still controlling who is seeing your Updates - and advertisers are actually reporting great success with this Advertising... but be careful on analysis the quality of people that respond to an Advert is far far inferior to the quality of people that Like you because they want to.

I need to repeat that - building Likes in a natural and self recommending way means people that want to follow you will... People that Like you because they've seen your advert for a special offer, or some incentive - will do so, but that's often as far as their interest goes.

And the quandry is that if you concentrate on building Likes through advertising you gain Likes, but then when you do a normal Status Update it will only go out to the 3-4% of Likes... and now you have a considerably less interested audience.

Advertising on Facebook remains a dubious choice to make, by natural definition you are shooting yourself in the foot and reducing your Facebook effectiveness.

Soltuions - I do like to end on a decent solution or two:
  1. If you want to succeed on Facebook you've got to Post a lot of information.  Post every hour... 24 times a day.  Why?

    Each time you post it will go to a Facebook selected 3-4% of your audience... the chances of annoying someone are therefore actually quite slim... they might get 2 or 3 of your posts, but rest assured they won't get 24 a day.
  2. Photos work best - not Albums - Videos only if you have to... people remain visual and seeing a photo is quick easy and should convey everything you want to convey.
  3. Do NOT Brand anything - I know it's tempting, but the object is to get people Sharing and Commenting on your Photo or Update - anything that is branded is an immediate turnoff to most people, even that little watermark in the corner.

    Besides when you share something, it will go out with your name and even after it's been shared copiously and even then it can be traced back to you.
  4. Have a purpose - create a theme, make it industry wide and NOT about your company.  Create an interest about your interests.  Constantly battering your Likes about a special offer or some product you're launched will be the quickest way to lose people's interest.
  5. Share - don't be afraid to share other people's content - even competitiors, if there is something happening in your sphere of interest share it... let people hear it from you.
And as always, respond to everything, if people leave comments, answer then, encourage the conversation, respond to customer service enquiries, put up answer to common questions and finally enjoy Facebook.

Maybe another day I'll rattle off a few reasons why Facebook has become so much harder to Market on... but this is enough for now.  Have you missed the Facebook boat?  Yes - a lot of businesses and people will have done so.  Is it a salvagable situation - Yes - but it's a return to basics, be natural on Facebook, use it as it was meant to be used (instead of trying to twist it to suit your purpose) and it will all come right.


Have you missed the Facebook Boat?SocialTwist Tell-a-Friend
Repost This

Friday, July 04, 2014

Busy Days - Keep Blogging no matter what

A short blog post from me this month as you'll see I've not been blogging recently, a victim of my own advice, things have been wonderfully busy.

But when we're busiest is precisely the time we need to be Blogging and letting people know what we're doing, in that way we can prepare for the quieter times ahead or keep more clients content, knowing that we're hard at work on their behalf.

So what news:

  • Expansion - we've now two full time employees in Dorset and we're looking to expand the London side of the business.
  • We broke a record with simultaneously working on 5 current websites, I remember the days when we tried to publish one website per month.
  • We're about to finish one mega project and about to start another, no names, but watch this space.
  • We currently have 109 websites under management.
It's not all roses, I am sorry to say, we have lost a few clients recently and we'd like to make it clear that while we're going through this period of expansion it's been very hectic indeed.

Some clients have loved our response times being so quick and reliable, and as the team expands this is increasingly hard as we work out the best methods to delegate and communicate internally.

I think the key is support@ncompass.co.uk.  If you want something done quickly and efficient on your website then email us using support@ncompass.co.uk.

No matter what - we all have to keep blogging and that is what we intend to do.
Busy Days - Keep Blogging no matter whatSocialTwist Tell-a-Friend
Repost This