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Welcome to our expert blog on social media, marketing, technology and lots more

How is social media changing the way we buy products?

shoppingDepressingly, it's nearly fifteen years since I finished primary school. Back then, there was no such thing as Facebook, Mark Zuckerberg hadn't become a multi billionaire as one of technology’s great success stories, mobile phones were unattractive bricks, apps didn't roll off the tongue in regular conversation and the idea of high speed Internet was still in its infancy (although in my part of the world, it still is).

Instead, myself and thousands of other kids would plead with our parents to buy something based on what was shown off on the TV or in bragged about by some other kid in the playground. Looking back on it, I can see why bringing up children can be tricky.

Things have changed though. PPI claims, bookmakers, ambulance chasers and payday loans now dominate ad breaks; whilst communication has evolved thanks to Wi-Fi, 3G and 4G, smart phones, and of course social networks.

Subsequently, businesses can no longer sit on the fence and expect a trickle of sales from a dull brochure or advert in the corner of the local newspaper. They have to go digital. At a minimum, companies should attract the huge communities that have developed thanks to the success of Twitter, Instagram and many other hashtag friendly social media sites. Varied and regular content and links which encourage potential customers to buy instantly and can be tracked using a variety of analytical tools.

But if you want a better chance of success and have the brand to match, why not get a bit creative.
Share your photos and videos, message potential customers and/or create a targeted paid campaign. All of these only take a few minutes to set up.

You could even get your company noticed by linking one of your products and a very recent event, such as the paper plane which flew from the top of Wembley (Connected by EE, urgh...) and hit the Peruvian footballer in the back of the head. But it's something you have to get right. An incorrect move could result in money being wasted targeting the wrong people, or worse, negative PR!

Social media acts as a platform of unlimited access and sharing. Competitions involving sharing a brand’s content acts as the most simplistic form of advertising. Gaming apps will clog your play-time with advert upon advert unless you purchase the full version; there is just no escaping it.

Amazon is a company that had expanded it’s product by creating Amazon Prime, a way of streaming videos instantly. By doing this, people will watch content on Amazon Prime, share recommendations with friends, which could lead consumers onto the main Amazon buying website. We are most likely becoming influenced in our purchases by more than what we may first expect.

However, social media hasn’t, to a large extent, really changed the way we buy products but how we perceive them. Friends snapping pictures of their new Nike trainers and sharing them on Instagram makes you instantly think, “Hey, maybe I need a pair of them?”. Peers influence us in many ways and social media allows products to be paraded in our view on a regular basis.

Scroll down your Facebook newsfeed and the right-hand side will be filled with adverts. These adverts may not impact you instantly, but they are constantly lingering as your eyes scan a feed for interesting content. It could almost act like a form of subliminal messaging.

In summary, social media has allowed organisations to show that they are active and moving forward, something that TV adverts and booklets don't. Through a variety of content and, in particular, viral campaigns, it has also given companies an extra opportunity to sell and target those who are most likely to be interested.

By Content Assistant – Alexander Blakey

Social media case study: How do Vanish use it?

Considering that Vanish is simply a clothes cleaning brand, it’s quite surprising that when it comes to social media, Vanish are actually pretty good.

For anyone unfamiliar, Vanish, produced by Reckitt Benckiser, is a brand of stain removal products. The majority of their products are designed to ‘power clean’ clothing, but they are expanding their product base with a new carpet stain remover.

They have expanded their brand world wide on Facebook, mostly due to their online campaigns. Just by quickly glancing at their official Facebook page, it’s instantly obvious how well they respond to any comments but more significantly, any complaints.

A Twitter logo is also on the Vanish website but the link is dead, as far as I can tell Vanish still don’t have an official Twitter account.

In 2012, the Vanish brand ran a campaign based in Australia. It was called ‘Vanish vs. the Internet’.

The campaign was split into three rounds, the first being that Vanish brought the world’s greatest stunt diver to Australia and then asked their audience what he should jump into. The campaign was picked up by various media around the world. The campaign reached over 3 million people and had a 317% increase in Facebook fans. The video had 513,046 total views which, when you think about it, is a lot of people to watch a product demo.

Screen Shot 2014-06-03 at 11.11.34Vanish also embraces the power of company websites and very cleverly has a Tip Exchange section on their own.

The section gives you the option to either post a problem with a stain that you’re having, or post a tip for others to see. Both choices have a drop down list where you are presented with a variety of options relevant to your situation. Not many brands can say they offer such a creative platform for customers to exchange problems and give advice. It gets customers involved and could even give the company their own new ideas and it’s such a brilliant way to promote the Vanish products.

The brand also worked with other companies to create an app for Vanish in Greece with an aim to boost their social media presence. They aimed to quickly attract users to the Greek Facebook page by using a game.

The aim of the game was simple, those playing the game were shown different profile pictures of their Facebook friends, but one of them wasn’t real. The player had to ‘Vanish’ the profile photo of the fake friend. The ‘Vanish Them’ Facebook apps went live in March 2012, going above and beyond expectations.

They will continue to be successful in regards to their social media, but it may be worth expanding to other social media platforms.

It’s safe to say Vanish are good at being creative online and won’t be vanishing off social cyberspace anytime soon.

By Content Assistant - Louise Railton - @LouiseRRailton

Is Personalised Advertising Clever or Creepy?

Advertising-300x300

 

Advertising, we all see it. We might see it when we are at home relaxing, sitting on the tube and even just on an evening out with your friends. Whatever the event in your life, the chances of seeing or hearing some kind of advertisement is more than likely.

But how you would feel to know that more and more businesses and social media websites want to personalize your advertising and know you better, by learning about everything you have or will have purchased. We want to decipher whether these tactics are clever with their level of personalised consumer relations or just plain stalker-ish and creepy.

I would feel quite shocked for a business to be able to instantly personalise everything I may wish to purchase by tapping into my buying history. They would have to start at ASOS, then visit Amazon and then GAME. It’s all very extra ordinary and for the few of us, there may be some purchases we wish to keep a secret.

What first came into my mind a few weeks ago, after visiting ASOS and then leaving the website, is that ASOS appeared in the ‘advertising feed’ that was on the other website I began to search, with <em>exactly</em> the same items I either viewed or purchased. I was stunned to see this, I thought someone else had as much style as myself, then realised it was the clothes that I had purchased, not egotistical at all.

Tesco is one of the organisations that are currently introducing a ‘scanning shoppers for advertisers’ mode. The supermarket giant is expected to install hundreds of hi-tech screens that can scan the faces of queuing shoppers to detect their age and sex for advertisers.

The store has signed a ground-breaking deal with Lord Alan Sugar's Amscreen in a move which, last night, sparked fresh concerns from privacy campaigners about the growing use of ‘invasive’ technology in the nation's shops.

The ‘OptimEyes’ system will be introduced to 450 Tesco petrol forecourts, which serve millions of customers a week. This, to me, sounds ridiculous, although to you it may not.

I agree that this is very invasive and really unnecessary to those customers who do not want to be scanned for advertising. There could be a negative impact on Tesco from customers, who feel their privacy is being infiltrated, by leaving the large-chain and going to competitors who are not introducing this scan.

An article written by the Telegraph explains, “It works by using inbuilt cameras in a TV-style screen above the till that identify whether a customer is male or female, estimate their age and judge how long they look at the ad.

“The "real time" data is fed back to advertisers to give them a better idea of the effectiveness of their campaigns and enable them to tailor ads to certain times of the day.”

Imagine your shopping, be it a weekly shop or an impulse purchase, being fed to advertisers and then back to you through the Internet. Would you feel uncomfortable knowing you are being ‘scanned’ to be fed information? Or do you think that it will prove an effective way to help customers, themselves, understand what they didn’t even know they needed? And even then, how reliable is this ‘age bracket detector’?

Simon Sugar, Lord Sugar's son and Amscreen chief executive, said, "Yes it's like something out of Minority Report, but this could change the face of British retail and our plans are to expand the screens into as many supermarkets as possible."

He added, "We're extremely excited to call Tesco a screen network partner." He insisted that the OptimEyes technology does not store images or recognise people but simply uses face detection software to determine gender and sorts customers into one of the three age brackets.

I’d be interested to see this being tested, although I wouldn’t like to be tester on myself. I also question how the details are stored from consumers? Is it reliable for Tesco to be doing this, especially after the attack on personal information on Ebay.

Confidentiality is no doubt a worry with such a scanner, images being taken without consent from the customer is not good news, nor should it be tolerated. One party that will obviously benefit though, is the advertisers. Imagine how easy it would be for them to make and push sales through? Salesmen could be cut out of the equation and the B2C model would be much more effective, that, of course, being that the customer is happy with being ‘stalked’ at the checkout.

Moreover, the social media websites knowing my information and other websites seeing what I have viewed and purchased does invade my privacy, but what can I do? Call for a protection on my uncontrollable spending counts? Or leave the Internet altogether? I don’t think I could manage that.

I suggest Tesco leave this ‘scanning customers’ idea behind and continue using the club-card to know about their customers’ product interests, otherwise they could really lose customers. I say more creepy than clever.

By Content Assistant – Matthew Clifton - @mattcliffy25

Top 5 ways to prevent yourself from procrastinating on social media

india 1Now we have all done it, sat down to do some work at the computer and moments later you find yourself just ‘browsing’ through photos on Facebook, checking your Twitter feed and more than likely filling up an online shopping basket of things you don’t really need. Yes you promise yourself you’re only going to look for a couple of minutes – and that always turns into your famous last words!

According to an Oxford Internet Survey last year, British people spend an average of 11.3 hours per week online at home and this doesn’t even include all those times we check our social media on our smart phones when out and about.

Admittedly, it is very easy, if your job involves sitting behind a computer, to wonder off onto social media sites simply because of boredom or a welcome distraction, and particularly for students who spend a large amount of time on computers. It is difficult not to innocently open up the Internet for a quick browse as a break from work. Whoever you are, you may feel like you will never be able to conquer this but believe it or not there are a few ways of getting round these procrastination problems that will save you wasting time and get you to start being more productive online.

Break your work up and find a buddy

Now if your problem with procrastination on social media sites is because of your workload, then there are ways you can defeat this.

Sometimes, part of the reason why we procrastinate is because, subconsciously, we find the work too hard. But if you break it down into little parts and focus on one part at a time, the task itself can become a lot more simple and easier to tackle. Through efficient planning it will allow you to get work done to a high standard without feeling the need to explore the Internet. This will then lead for your work to be done within a good time frame, and not leaving it to the last minute because you spent too much time checking out other things online when you were meant to be working.

Also, having a work buddy will make the whole process much more fun and easy. Ideally, your buddy should be someone who has their own set of goals. Both of you will hold each other accountable to your goals and you can set each other targets and once you have completed each section of work you can reward yourself.

RescueTime

This is a free website you can use to track which applications and websites you spend the most time on, so if you’re a Facebook fanatic or Twitter crazy, these will flag up showing you just how much time you waste on these sites.

You have a personal dashboard which logs your visited websites onto a graph and shows you how productive you have been. You can set goals to motivate yourself to spend less time on certain websites and if you’re really struggling you can pay for a premium prescription which will block these websites for certain amounts of time.

Passwords

Now this is a little more extreme, but if you’re under deadline pressures and know you’re one of those people that can happily spend hours on these sites doing absolutely nothing with your day then this may be an option. To banish the temptation of social media completely there is always the option of giving your password to someone to change. Now make sure the friend you choose isn’t going to be that person that changes your gender on Facebook or changes your birthday so you’re all of a sudden bombarded with happy birthday messages.

Self Control

Appropriately named, this is made for Mac users who don’t have any self-control. It is free to use and all you need to do is install it, set your blacklisted sites, select the amount of time you want to be blocked from the sites, and go. This is really easy to use, and don’t start thinking you can fool the computer by restarting it or trying to uninstall it whilst it’s running, because you won’t be able to get rid of it. If you try to sneak and access one of your blacklisted sites while the timer is running, you get this: india 2

Using social media effectively

Now there are many ways you can physically stop yourself from procrastinating on social media sites, but if none of these appeal to you, you can make sure that what you are looking at on these sites is actually beneficial to you.

For example, by following news channels you will keep up-to-date with global events: Something that is productive and informative. Similarly, you can use social media as a means of job hunting and LinkedIn is a prime example. It is a fantastic way of building your career prospects and developing relationships with future professional employers.

There may be a lot of negativity surrounding social media, but don’t forget they are valuable channels of communication and tools to keep us informed about important information.

By Content Assistant – India Minns - @IndiaMinns

How are Facebook’s recent newsfeed changes affecting business marketing?

Facebook is rapidly changing and it seems to be more and more recently. It feels as if just as we get used to the new layout and features it changes once again!

It’s important that businesses are keeping up to date with these frequent changes, because they can affect how to approach interacting with customers and what social content to post. Facebook states that all of their changes are made to create the most positive experience for their users. But as well as its social users, Facebook wants to make sure that businesses can target and contact the relevant customers easily through the network.

One main reason the changes to the newsfeed have been made is because of the increase in photos being purely news feed stories rather than embedded in statuses. This is a positive note for business marketing: Much of which is visual and attempts to catch the viewer’s eye and draw in more customers.

There is now the advantage of a wider news feed meaning that photos and visual elements, such as a large advert, facebook-livestreamcan be more detailed. More information for a business marketing campaign can be included in just one post rather than a number of smaller images.

A wider newsfeed has also lead to a recent change in what appears when a user ‘likes’ a page. Instead of simply showing the name of the page, which anyone could quickly scroll past, the name, header image, profile image and amount of likes also appears.

Ultimately, it is the same as what appears when users now become friends. The addition of seeing the profile and header images are likely to attract more ‘likes’ for businesses promotional pages because it appears more eye catching to viewers when scrolling through the newsfeed. This means new customers who may not have noticed the page before are hopefully more enticed.

Videos are always a popular marketing strategy for businesses. Similar to images, the wider timeline advantage means videos stand out more, leading to more frequent views. If your business posts a marketing video it will be impossible to miss. Also, if a user shares your video, the focus of the story will be on the video featuring a large viewing screen, rather than focusing on the user who has posted it. This, again, means attracting new customers as well as existing, because a user who may not yet ‘like’ your business’s page will spot it through a shared link.

More good news for business marketers is the introduction of ‘story bumping’. If Facebook thinks a user will find an older story interesting, then based on their likes and page views, it will automatically push the story to the top of their news feed. Similarly, if a story has a lot of interaction and comments but was posted a day of two ago it will be moved to the top of the newsfeed so more people can be involved. For marketers this means less stress about timing a post right, as they will reap the benefits of a post that creates lots of interactions.

Whilst visual content is more expensive, time consuming and includes restrictions, such as sharing images you do not technically own, ultimately it seems visual marketing through Facebook will now be more effective. There are options such as using your own images, taken at the company’s office/shop by employees, adding a personal touch.

Overall it seems Facebook’s newsfeed changes will have a positive effect on business marketing. These recent changes should encourage businesses to get the best out of the visual elements of their Facebook page. The header image and profile picture should be engaging and appropriate, as this is what users will immediately see when a friend of theirs ‘likes’ the page and will hopefully encourage others to like it.

Marketing campaigns should focus majorly on attractive advertising images and videos that are interesting to watch. Obviously marketing shouldn’t solely be visual, a sentence or two with the image will inform the user, in short, what it is about. But the fact that Facebook is beginning to focus a lot less on text and more on images should tell a business to avoid positing paragraphs of text. The more appealing a marketing image seems, the more likely it is that a user will stop scrolling through the newsfeed and take interest.

By Content Assistant - Alice Hughes - @aliceeehughes

Should I be using more than one social network for my business?

social-media-and-internet-stats-infographicWhile it is now almost mandatory for a modern business to have an online presence, there are so many social networks to choose from that how can you decide how much is too much?

When considering how many social networking sites to utilise for promoting your business, the first aspect to think about is time.

Monitoring five social networking sites may help you reach a larger audience, but when you consider how much time will need to be spent in order to use these sites to their full potential, you may realise it ends up being counterintuitive to what you’re trying to achieve.

You should only consider setting up multiple social networking sites when you have established a strong following and a consistent presence on one.

While social media has become a useful and cheaper form of marketing, people often underestimate the time commitment needed to have this essentially ‘24/7’ online voice.

Whether you decide to use one or more social networks for your business really depends on what kind of business you run and what you are trying to achieve.

If you are trying to capture the widest audience and have the ability to share as much content (posts, videos, pictures) as you want then Facebook is one of the best places to start.

With over a billion users worldwide, if you can manage to sustain a good base following on here then you can assess whether it is worth moving on to additional networks.

If your business mostly relies on one type of post, whether it be text, photos or videos then it is time to consider other useful, more tailored sites.

Not every social network is right for every kind of business so if you’re going to establish more than one you need strong reasoning and enough content to keep followers interested.

If your company is heavily relying on posts and links then it probably makes sense to have both Twitter and Facebook. Since posts through these social networks can also be linked, it makes it simpler when wanting to post the same content on both. However, try to give the two networks a little bit of variance to give people a reason to explore both sites.

There is no point in creating a Vine or an Instagram for your business if you don’t have strong video or picture content, as it would be worse to have the page and not regularly update it than not have it at all.

However, if you’re relying on pictures then Twitter, Facebook and Instagram are all great outlets and it would be worth having all three.

It is also important to remember that different social media accounts have different followers and are accessed in various ways, so it is important to think of what is best for your brand.

While Facebook can be accessed from a mobile, the majority of users check it from a computer, so it isn’t checked as regularly ‘on the go,’ where as Twitter is a much more mobile-used network.

If your followers are mostly business people who work all day, it may be more beneficial to use the more mobile-based social networks such as Twitter and Instagram, as it is more likely your followers will see posts that way. You can even research some statistics to check time of usage and various demographics and where they linger most online.

The other important point to remember is that, as a business, time management is extremely important and you need to recognise how much is too much.

The point of social media is to interact with your followers and potential customers, and by not utilising an account to its full potential, it will only reflect badly on your business.

So when it comes to starting a social media presence for your business, less may be more.

By Content Assistant - Taylor Fleischner

Five great examples of effective PR on social media

The digital age we recognise today has considerably changed the way news and information is published and it is evident that the way PR professionals are seeking attention nowadays is online.
In particular, social media has seen an increased number of available communication channels, establishing increasing relationships between companies and customers. In the industry, it is the job of PR professionals to ensure companies are communicating with audiences and social media can be an essential tool for fuelling PR campaigns.
If you are already engaged in social activities, use those platforms as extensions of your brand and maximize your company’s publicity as much as you can. Here are five great examples of effective PR on social media.

1. Real Beauty Sketches - Dove


india 5In April 2013, Dove launched their ‘Real Beauty Sketches’ campaign. Fundamentally, Dove wanted to generate more sales by making a more positive social impact, and so their marketing team closely focused on women - their biggest consumer group. Dove’s research found a problem within self-perception of women and therefore intended to create a campaign that encouraged beauty as a source of confidence. Dove hired a forensic sketch artist to illustrate real women and produced a video documentary of the whole experiment. The artist produced two portrait drawings of the women without seeing their faces, one as described by the subject of the portrait and another as described by an acquaintance of the subject. The difference between each sketch was astonishing. Whilst the women focused on their physical flaws, the new acquaintances saw and described the beauty in them. This completely moved the women and the viewers of the campaign. To date, over 114 million people have watched the video which went viral on social media outlets. http://youtu.be/XpaOjMXyJGk

2. Super Bowl Tweet – Oreo

india 4Oreo are a key example of a company that took advantage of an opportunity to promote their brand via social media. During the third quarter of the Super Bowl in 2013, a power outage at the Superdome caused a 34-minute delay in the game, encouraging Oreo's social media marketing team to get innovative. Oreo’s comical tweet dominated social media as over 100 million viewers were tuned into their TV screens sharing their outrage at the power cut. Oreo immediately took to Twitter, tweeting “Power Out? No problem. You can still dunk in the dark.” Within minutes, the message swept across social platforms, gaining more than 16,000 retweets and more than 20,000 likes on Facebook. The message itself was simple but effective as it was executed at precisely the right moment.

3. 15 Days of Beauty Thrills – Sephora

india 3Sephora marketed an online campaign extremely well last year, ‘15 Days of Beauty Thrills’. The brand is very savvy when it comes to the digital and social world, and wanted a way of driving traffic to their website through effective PR techniques and social media. Sephora rolled out their ‘15 Days of Beauty Thrills’ sweepstakes, with ‘thrills’ such as small gifts, shopping sprees and even more were given away to those who participated via Facebook, Twitter and Pinterest. On Facebook, fans were encouraged to ‘like’ the page to find out the next day’s thrill at midnight, an incentive for exclusive information. The campaign showed to be a huge success, with the fan base growing six times the normal rate and a significant increase in web traffic.

4. Batkid Saves Francisco – Make-A-Wish Foundation

india 2‘San Francisco Batkid’ demonstrated how the power of social media could win the hearts of the entire city of San Francisco. The campaign was planned by the Make-A-Wish Foundation for a little boy whose wish was to become Batman. The young boy had been battling Leukaemia since birth and asked for an innocent desire to portray a superhero we have all grown to love. The campaign went viral with the hashtag #SFBatkid and thousands of people took the time out of their busy routine to volunteer and take part in the heart-warming quest to make the boy's dream come true. This campaign showed everyone how social media marketing can bring the community together to accomplish a wonderful cause, and demonstrating the tireless efforts of the charity, encouraging the publicity that they consistently work for.

5. Do Us A Flavour- Lay’s potato chips

india 1Lay’s potato chips created a campaign where they invited users to generate ideas for a new potato chip flavour on the Lay’s Facebook page. The campaign was called “Do Us A Flavor” where the winner could win $1 million. Lay’s saw everything from Bacon Jalapeño to Grilled Cheese and the three best flavors were actually sold in stores. Fans could also vote on their favorite so it could stay on shelves permanently. By the end of the campaign, ‘Do Us A Flavor’ had generated 3.8 million submissions, 4.9 billion PR impressions, over 1 billion Facebook likes and 12% increase in sales, proving, again, the success of a PR campaign via social media that promotes and publicises the company.

By Content Assistant - India Minns - @IndiaMinns

Why you should connect your social media networks

connecting-w-social-media-300x131The Internet has an uncountable number of websites, and amongst these websites are a lot of social networks. With the many platforms to choose from, the new need to stay connected and it is important for an individual to not fall behind.

By connecting your platforms, you allowing for more brand awareness. It also means that no matter where your demographic is hiding, you can post content on all your networks at once to keep every individual informed.

Remember though, don’t create company social networks that you will never produce content for. For example, don’t link yourself up to YouTube if your company will never produce or share video content. Google + is a wise investment as videos uploaded to the site automatically upload to YouTube. This means that if you stay up-to-date on Google + you are keeping consumers happy but always have the side option to add work to YouTube.

There are many sites and apps that will help you easily connect your platforms, but do some research before you fork out the cash to use them. We’ve put together some basic words of wisdom about connecting your social media networks.

Sharing

Most social networking sites allow you to connect with others. For example Instagram allows you to share your photo to Facebook, Twitter, Tumblr, Flickr and so on the second you upload it. It means that you can keep audiences on all platforms up-to-date and informed.

Management apps

Many apps allow you to integrate your social networks into one big melting pot. This makes it a lot easier when keeping up with things on the go

Applications such as hootsuite may ask you to pay the piper but they allow you to schedule posts and connect everything onto one simple dashboard. This means that your social network monitoring can be more precise and informative.

Self-advertisement

It may be that a lot of your Facebook friends don't follow you on Twitter, so why not share your Twitter account on Facebook? If certain followers really love your Instagram posts why not share your Tumblr blog on Instagram?

Don’t conform content to one site at a time. Imbed content from one social networking site to another and always ensure there are links to your social networks on your website. Make it simple with a one-click step that allows users to follow or like your content.

Summary

These basic but effective tips are all great ways of connecting your social media networks. However, there are a few things to consider when connecting sites. Lets say you use Twitter for business and your Instagram is personal. Do you really want to share personal pictures on a business account? Always check that you are posting your content on the right account, or even privatise your own personal accounts for extra safety.

With the rise of social networking and the need to save time becoming more and more important, connecting your social networking accounts couldn't be more useful.

By Content Assistant – Liam Parker

The importance of the right app exposure

imagesThe world of technology can change very quickly, sometimes so fast that it's not just individuals that can't keep up, but companies too.

Take BlackBerry for example. Four years ago, they and their parent company Research in Motion sold the most smartphones in the UK and had a market share of 28.2%. There were several reasons for this, including the popularity of BBM with young people, the enterprise server, which depressingly enabled staff to access work messages at any time and the sleek and small designs, especially with regards to the Bold and Curve models. They were also popular with people like me who, initially, weren't too sure about shifting over to touch screen models such as the iPhone.

Times change though, and doesn’t Blackberry know it. They recently reported an absolutely huge annual loss of £3.5 billion, caused by a failure to move forward quickly enough. High app development costs, the subsequent lack of choice in their app store equivalent, a bungled attempt to enter the tablet market, the absence of a touch screen phone until this time last year and the launch of new services such as WhatsApp was always going to be a coma inducing arrangement. Combine all of these with the appalling response to the EMEA service outage in October 2011 and you have yourself a recipe for disaster which I'm not convinced they will recover from.

Blackberry’s problem was its lack of adjustment and lack of being able to deliver a flexible product. Part of Apple’s huge success is its ability to converge its technological platforms via Apple’s huge choice of applications; pages, numbers, iCloud, iCalendar and so on.

So how do you make a successful app then? Personally, unless you're a computer whizz kid or coding genius, you can make use of one of the app builder websites. I'm all for pushing personal boundaries, but a project like this could potentially cost you a lot of your spare time. If you do meet either of the criteria above though, do three things before you even touch a programming tool.

First, ask yourself what the aim of the app is. Then consider how much it'll be to develop and download. Finally, thoroughly research the market you're trying to enter; has what you're considering already been achieved by another product?

Once these have been answered, visit a website such as www.ibuildapp.com, which looks rather easy to navigate. There are also a number of templates, especially good for those looking for something quick and simple. Other similar offerings that look just as useful include www.appmakr.com and www.appypie.com. You could always download Xcode for Apple or SDK for Android, but even from the beginning, they both look tricky from a general consumer's perspective.

If you have an idea but need more technical expertise to develop your dream, why not find an agency that knows what they're doing and ensure you get a good fraction of the profits.

Creating an app can do wonders for your business. It can create a direct nervous system or ‘hub’ for consumers or even employees. Something as simple as newsfeeds of company information and basic updates in one convenient, easy to download application can help you connect with consumers. Furthermore, by creating sign ups via Facebook, you can get content from the app posted on the social networking site which allows you another outlet of exposure.

Apps are just as important as social media management, and research and correct construction of one is just as vital as your social media presence in creating brand identity.

By Content Assistant - Alexander Blakey

Why should you have your own company blog?

Blogging is a world where you can express, inform and entice your target market and, if addressed correctly, can be extremely rewarding.

Having a company blog can be one of the most valuable tools for helping your company succeed on many different levels. With its ability and ease to update and share new information about your company on a monthly, weekly or even hourly basis, it is a great way of engaging with new and existing customers.

If you feel like your company needs that extra boost, then blogging could be the answer, as it will be a guaranteed way of maximising your company’s reputation. Not only is having a blog easy to maintain, but it is also a cost effective marketing investment which you won’t regret. Here are a few reasons why you should start your business blog today.

Easy and effective:

india 1Firstly, a blog is simple, effective and easy to maintain. You don’t have to be a graphic designer, or computer genius to know how to get it started. As long as you have established the suitable content, decided how often it will be updated and chosen an appropriate style and tone of writing, your blog will do the rest of the work for you. You can simply choose a design layout from WordPress or Hubspot which are popular blog sites for beginners - just follow the instructions and your blog will be up and running in no time. All you have to do is maintain it.

Communication channel:

Having a blog creates a platform for connecting and sharing information to your target market, making it a direct communication channel which is vital for reaching all audiences. Blogs provide new and existing customers with information about your company and is a great way of building and maintaining your company reputation and customer relationships. Customers will look to you as a reliable resource for information on your industry, encouraging future custom. Not only do blogs communicate to existing audiences, they also help bring in different kinds of customers as well, broadening your target market which could have been difficult to do so beforehand.

Brand exposure:

Most importantly, a blog gives your company a voice. It’s also the place to let your brand’s personality shine and show people what you’re all about. A blog creates a place to talk about new products, services, news topics, market trends and share company values beyond your websites ability. It encourages interaction, comments and feedback from customers, which you should make a priority to reply to in order for customers to feel valued and satisfied. You should also consider frequently asked questions from emails and phone calls that customers may wish to query and answer them in a blog post. In essence, you’re providing an answer before they even know the question which makes your company look more appealing as you have effectively done your research. Each post in your blog should build to your overall brand awareness, making it a long term asset in promoting your expertise, products and services.

Boost your SEO:

india 2Blogs can also contribute to SEO. Websites for start up blogs will now usually provide web savvy users with the option to manage search engine preferences. SEO will help increase traffic to your blog and connect your content with your target market. Every time you post a blog with keywords relevant to your business, you are increasing the chance of customers finding your company on search engines. Google, for example, recognise new information from blogs by giving that content higher placement when customers search for related topics. Search engines love valuable content and they will definitely reward you for it. It really is a win-win situation.

Promotion:

Finally, whether you’re advertising a particular promotion or have a new product you want to highlight, you may not have the right place to promote this on your company website. This can be quite common for a company website only concerned with highlighting major components about the business, but a blog is a fantastic place to post temporary and time sensitive information. Blog posts may not always hold great feature status, but storing them all in a continuous blog will keep their timeless value.

By Content Assistant – India Minns - @IndiaMinns
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