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brighton-seo

Joe

April 29th, 2014.

My Takeaways from #BrightonSEO

Brighton SEO has been and gone. If you weren’t there, I’ve taken the time to summarise some of my key take-away points for you in this handy-dandy blog post.

I’ll cover the talks I found the most interesting, then end with something of a cheatsheet for prospective which I formed from one of the talks.

Malcolm Coles – How I earned loads of links by ignoring SEO

Malcolm is a really interesting guy. It was very interesting to see how Trinity Mirror marries the traditional style of The Mirror with the anti-establishment UsvsTh3m. The stuff I’m taking away:

-    Tapping into news stories is a great way to hack the news. Seems kind of obvious when you say it out loud. Malcolm talked about the ways he’s received national and even international coverage from making a basic game (Badger Penalty Shootout anyone?)

-    Everybody loves quizzes. Quizbait is relatively easy to put together and has a bit potential to go viral (appeals to people’s sense of competition and social media is all about bragging). Also quizzes can be challenging or satirical, so there’s a lot of possibilities.

-    Stop fucking swearing. Headlines with swearwords in them get shared far less than their PG equivalents.

Stacey Cavanagh – The Habits that Land You Links

Stacey is so enthusiastic and supersmart. Some very cool talking points:

-    The 6-3-5 idea-creation method. Basically you get 6 people in a room to discuss content ideas for a specific purpose. They have 5 minutes to come up with 3 ideas, then they pass those ideas to the next person who uses them to inspire 3 new ideas. Repeat until all 6 people have written on every sheet and you have 108 ideas.

-    We should all be using realtimeboard.com to collaborate on projects between research, designers and everyone else involved in the process.

-    Ask clients for images to build a good visual resource bank. These can then be seeded to Flickr and their use tracked through Image Raider. Let your photos do the work for you.

Vicke Cheung – Tips for Designing Great Content

Vicke is a designer, so she gave a designer’s perspective on content creation with some great advice on how they think and how to discuss projects with them. The things I’ll be implementing:

-    Vicke hammered home the importance of realtimeboard.com for collaborating. Especially in doing the early visual research and getting a designer’s opinion.

-     It’s a good idea to set up a briefing template that you can fill in and send to your designer. I’m also going to be using this idea when briefing researchers and developers.

-     Typekit is a good platform for getting free typefaces, and Stocksy is a site which offers realistic alternatives to the rubbishy stock photos we see everywhere.

Patrick Hathaway – Cool Shit You Can Do With WordPress

Patrick is a whizkid and had lots of tricks we can use to achieve fantastic goals in WordPress (i.e. no coding). I won’t take the words out of his mouth, so you can read his blog post on the subject here: http://www.hitreach.co.uk/blog/brightonseo-cool-shit-you-can-do-with-wordpress/

If that’s too much to read, the one piece of advice I’d most agree with is you should start looking at IFTTT (If This, Then That). It’s a way of linking and automating pretty much all of your online platforms and it’s amazing.

Carolyn Jones – Link Prospecting: Step Away from the Search Engine

Carolyn’s talk had loads of really great, actionable advice. I’ll do my best to recreate something of a cheatsheet here:

Use List Sites:

Alltop.com, Blogmetrics.org, Technorati.com, Bloglovin.com, Ebuzzing.co.uk, BlogCatalog.com, Konector.com, lookbook.nu, foodies100.co.uk, hibs100.co.uk.

Linkclump is a great tool for opening multiple links at the same time, so effectively you can access an entire list without the need to click every single link.

Search Google for ‘list of [keyword] bloggers’ or ‘top [keyword] blogs’.

Also look at blog rolls (the lists of sites other bloggers have created)

From an Email List:

Use Rapportive in Gmail

In Twitter:

Use Followerwonk:

Search ‘[keyword] blog’ > more options > “http” in URL field

http://blog.tweetchat.com/calendar/ – find blogger hashtags to find bloggers

In Google+:
Look to Google+ communities.

Search “[keyword] blog” > click on group > scroll down o members > click see all > visit profiles and collect url data

In Facebook:

Associated Facebook groups

Graph Search

Events pages

On Google:

Find people who are already talking about the topic with Google News Downloader

Other important stuff:

Use Buzzsumo – this is amazing and it’s free. I don’t know why more people aren’t using it.

Paddy Moogan’s Infographic Search Engine

 

google-liquid-logo

Joe

February 20th, 2014.

3 Reasons Google’s Marketing Stinks – and why it’s costing them billions.

Google seems to have mutated into some kind of mutant King Sidam. Everything they touch turns to old (news).

Ask Joe Public who he thinks the leader of modern technological advances are and chances are he’ll say Google. And he’s probably right. Then why can’t Google seem to get it right when it comes to launching new products?

I’ll tell you why. But first I need to explain I’m not talking about Google’s acquisitions. They buy a new company every day. Whether it’s Motorola or Boston Dynamics (of terrifying Big Dog fame), they make strategic purchases to position themselves as market leaders in technology. Whenever they buy a company the ensuing press coverage surely boosts that company’s profile. That’s not their problem. Their problem is in launching new products.

Google Glass

First announced in 1901, Google Glass has been in tech news every 5 seconds ever since. You can’t move online without someone mentioning Google Glass. This isn’t the results of Google’s PR team though, it’s just because bloggers are lazy. They’ll write about anything that they think will generate page views. These posts are predictable and pernicious to Google’s overall success. Mostly they’re speculative or fluffed up with rumour, so by the time the real announcements come along we feel like we’ve heard it before.

Bloggers writing about something is one thing, but are people interested? According to Google’s own trend data, apparently they’re not.

1

Compare this with the pageantry and sense of mystery surrounding other tech announcements. Apple hold a massive conference every year to announce their new products. This occurs a few months before the official launch, fuelling discussion until the actual launch. Here is proof:

9

The same applies to the PS4 and XboxOne.

3

You could argue that this is an unfair comparison since these products had an existing market and Google Glass hasn’t been launched yet. I would contend that there is an existing market for Google Glass, but they’ve shown their hand too early. There’s no mystery and no awesome features for us to get excited about. Just a load of pictures of pretty people wearing obnoxious eyewear. And Sergey Brin beginning his transformation into Robert Downey Jr.

Google Helpouts

Remember Google Helpouts? Don’t worry. Neither does anyone else…

Basically it’s a peer-teaching platform where you can teach (or learn) through video calling. The learner pays the teacher for their time and everyone’s a winner. Except Google, who forgot to do any marketing…

4

It’s a good idea in theory. The main problem is people can use Google’s fairly well-known search engine to find free answers to their questions for a dash of the time, effort and cost of using Helpouts.

Consider Helpouts as a start-up (one with a billion-dollar backing, but a start-up all the same). Most successful Start-Ups use a growth marketing model. They start out small and build their exposure as interest and logistics allow. It seems like Google just launched their platform and hoped for the best.

Here’s a comparison with a red-hot start-up called Ranku (for finding free degree courses). Other than offering an entirely unique and useful service, Ranku has the benefit of not being called ‘Google CourseSearch’. I’m of the opinion that ‘Google [anything]’ is starting to feel a bit stale. People like to talk about fresh new ideas more than ‘Look what Google is doing now…’

5

Google Helpouts also sounds criminally like Google Hangouts. To the point where I typed the wrong one about 4 times when writing the preceding paragraphs. Hangouts feels like Google arriving late to the party (about 11 years too late…)

6

Speaking of being late to the party:

Google+

Ray Liotta says it best:

Or, as Google put it:

7

I think Google+ might be the exact moment Google’s PR went a bit wrong.

A social network that offers entirely no benefit over its rivals is a stupid idea to begin with. They’ve tried basic marketing, they’ve tried reasoning with us, they’ve even tried forcing us to get involved. The fact is, people don’t want it.

Like Vinyl, Betamax, DVD, and Blockbuster, there’s just no need for it. At all. Like actually no need whatsoever.

The PR campaign here just seems to be some kind of war of attrition. Google won’t admit defeat (I guess 300 million ‘users’ can’t be wrong), so they’ll just keep flogging a dead horse. After all, they have YouTube and Gmail – properties their rivals at Facebook and Twitter can never even hope to emulate. All the same, Google+ is a a fart at the proverbial shit fight.

8

It’s all about the Billions

You could argue that these losses of interest are negligible in the overall scheme of things. Google still has its crafty little fingers in pies of every flavour – so why does it matter if a couple lose money?

That’s just bad business. Why do something if you’re not going to do it right? Google has the reach, the money and the talent at its disposal to turn virtually any idea into a profit – it’s just about finding the right market (i.e. not launching your rocket into space and hoping for the best). This hit-and-hope mentality needs to change.

What Next?

We hear a lot of rumours about Google’s self-driving car. Here’s what they need to do to ensure PR success and sustained interest:

1)      Don’t drip-feed us with non-news stories about what colour the steering wheel might be, or pictures of pretty people in the passenger seat.

2)      Don’t market it as something instantly lame like ‘Google Drivecar’. Give it a cool modern name that we won’t shudder to hear.

3)      Create mystery and speculation around it. Talk about the crazy things it can actually do. Design elements are not cool functions.

4)      Have a launch event where you tell everyone the same thing at the same time. Make it awesome.

5)      Make sure all the marketing is as cool as this (it actually makes us get goose bumps about the possibilities):

(Just don’t use Oscar Pistorius…)

6) Watch this Ted talk. It’s about focussing on why a product is great rather than just what it does.

And if all else fails, you can make an infographic about it.

If you don’t work at Google but you want to talk about an online PR strategy for your company, give me a call.

the-times-111751

Joe

February 6th, 2014.

Our Infographic was featured in The Times

We’ve been making infographics as a linkbuilding method for our clients.

If you don’t know why, see here.

Last week we launched a new piece for our friends at Love Reading. We’d researched the crimes committed by the most popular children’s book villains and worked out the sentences they would have received in a European court.

You can take a look at the piece here.

Long story short, the infographic came to the attention of The Times and they ran the research on page 3 of the Saturday edition. They mentioned the client’s site (and provided a link in the digital edition).

A testament to the power of infographics.

If you want to talk about an infographic for your brand, give us a call.

times-page3

 

dog

Joe

January 23rd, 2014.

Reducing Your Content Marketing to 1 Hour a Week

I ran an experiment last year. I had a website with no blog. It had lots of pages on a niche topic, but very few readers. I installed a blog and began posting once per month. In a year, the traffic doubled – (I’ll admit it increased from ‘barely perceptible’ to ‘quite unremarkable’, but you can’t argue with the numbers).

 analytics

The massive spike around April 2013 was from some experimenting with paid discovery. The second, smaller spike was a particularly controversial blog post.

I think this settles the argument once and for all: A regular content schedule is a sure-fire way to get traffic.

I know what you’re wondering – ‘How does this affect me, the business owner?’

Well, business owner, I’ll tell you.

It means that you should be publishing regular content on your site if you want people to be visiting it. But as a business owner (or marketing manager) you’ll be plenty busy enough with all sorts of other concerns – do you have time for creating a content marketing strategy too?

YES!

You need to be producing content – that’s a fact. It’s a thing you can’t deny. I create content for 30 clients – I use the ‘DEAL’ system, from Tim Ferris (author of The Four Hour Work Week):

Define, Eliminate, Automate, Liberate.

Define

Define the sort of content you need. I daresay you won’t go far wrong with one blog post per week and one infographic per month.

You’ll also need to consider sharing and seeding the content as it’s produced. This can be done via the regular social networking channels, but also on targeted interest sites via email outreach.

All of these things take time – hours and hours of time. But only if you do them all yourself…

Eliminate

Remove any unnecessary steps in the programme. Don’t waste your time getting bogged down with trying to design things yourself or write blog posts yourself – there are plenty of people in the world who will do it for you in exchange for money. They are called freelancers and are readily available online.

Think about what you really need to do for the job to work. In fact, I’ll do it for you – you need to come up with content ideas and you need to check it, then post it. The rest can be done for you.

stoge

Automate

Automation is achieved by setting up a system that handles the tasks for you. In essence, you feed the machine with briefs and it comes back with content. Online freelancing services exist purely to make your life easier, and they’re really great.

My favourite freelancing sites include:

-Research/Data Input:

O-Desk

O-Desk is very useful for finding people to do basic tasks – data analysis, basic research, number crunching etc. I use O-Desk for jobs that are too time consuming to handle myself. For example, if I was trying to make an infographic about football transfers (which I am), I’d post the job on O-Desk and find someone more capable and efficient than me to handle the research and analysis while I concentrate on planning the next infographic.

O-Desk also allows you to create teams of people to handle larger ongoing projects. It’s efficient and easy to manage and provides a screentracker so you can make sure your freelancers are staying on task.

Do note, however – O-Desk has a very high number of have-a-go-heroes. They aren’t necessarily qualified in a given field, so although they are competent, you can’t expect them to do more demanding tasks. For basic stuff though, it’s ideal.

-Writing:

Textbroker

Textbroker’s site is fairly basic in functionality, but it focusses solely on copywriting so it’s far more targeted. Prices vary based on the writer’s rating (out of 5). I’ve found some really fantastic writers on Textbroker, but also some absolute stinkers. Usually I have to edit a few things as it’s easier than sending it back for amendments, but it saves a lot of time.

Good copywriters also tend to be good researchers. They’re generally more able to follow a complex brief than their counterparts on O-Desk, so you can offer them more in-depth projects to research.

-Design:

People Per Hour – covers pretty much every digital-based job, but I use it for designers

PPH is more useful to me than some of my own body parts. I can post a job at 9 in the morning, receive proposals and have the job in the bag before I go to bed that night. People Per Hour has the benefit of knowing where your freelancer is located, so you can target areas that are likely to have more qualified personnel.

For instance, in searching for a designer, Europe has more reliable design schools than other parts of the world, and by choosing someone in Britain I can guarantee we’re in the same timezone, language and operate on the same working hours. It makes the tasks much more manageable.

Dribbble

The site is really fun. You could spend hours looking at the fantastic artwork and designs people come up with. It costs a lot as it’s targeted solely for design and membership is by invitation only so the vetting process is quite thorough.

Hiring works like a traditional jobs list – you post your jobs and people apply.

It is possible to contact the designers for one-off work, but generally they know the value of their work so be prepared to pay for it.

-Outreach:

You need to get your content in front of people. Using services like O-Desk will be futile as the workers tend to take the easy option, and language barriers often mean briefs are misinterpreted. People Per Hour is better as you can find people with proven experience who can provide you with a list of relevant sites to contact with a view to posting your content.

Sites like BuzzSumo (free) and GroupHigh (not free) really speed up the process as you can tap into existing conversations about the things you’re promoting, and target the people interested in them.

-Seeding:

Seeding is an essential part of the content process. Making sure your content appears in the right places and in front of the right people is undoubtedly going to reap its own rewards. By building lists of relevant sites to post to, you can automate this process and make sure every piece of content is placed in front of the influencers, sharers and promoters you need.

If you’ve got a bit of budget, you might also consider paid promotion on social media. ‘Boosting’ a post on Facebook, or StumbleUpon’s paid discovery service guarantee the content will be exposed to more people. However, the content needs to be useful and relevant to the audience to gain more traction. If it’s not engaging, people won’t engage with it (click/share etc.) and you’ll have wasted the promotion budget.

Liberate

As you practice and refine this process you’ll find yourself free to do other things for your business. You’ll be free to chase new clients and more work, and the best part is, you won’t need to do any more work yourself – the system can handle it!

You’ll notice I didn’t mention anything about idea generation – that’s because I think idea generation is the one thing you shouldn’t outsource. You need to make sure your content is completely suitable for the purpose, and you can have a lot of fun coming up with new ideas.

 

Katie Hopkins

Joe

January 6th, 2014.

The Daily Mail Thinks You’re a Dribbling Simpleton

 

The Daily Mail Thinks You’re a Dribbling Simpleton

“The Daily Mail is a worm-ridden sack of pus, sucking the life out of everything that’s beautiful about our world”

– reportedly the opening lines of The Dead Sea Scrolls. That said, they run one of the most successful websites on the internet.

Now I’m going to tell you how you can be loathsome and get 100,000,000 visitors to your site. I’ll also tell you how you can do it without being loathsome. That’s the kind of nice guy I am.

-

First, a quick note on ‘Virality’ and ‘Sharing’. ‘Viral Content’ is a term that can only be applied retrospectively. Nobody makes intrinsically ‘Viral’ things – it’s theoretically possible for anything to go viral provided it’s appealing and enough people share it. When I talk about ‘Sharing’, I mean exclusively the sharing that takes place on social media. Tweets, Retweets, Likes, Shares etc. The two concepts go hand in hand.

-

I’m a big fan of Jonah Berger, author of ‘Contagious’. Berger has scientifically tested different theories about virality and sharing to see what makes the best web content. He gives a selection of ideas. They are:

Social Currency – Make sure you’re supplying information that people will want to know.

Triggers – Make sure it’s something people are likely to be talking about.

Emotion – Make people emotional – this is really important (I’ll explain why later)

Practical Value – Make something useful

Public – Do everything you can to make it sharable

Stories – Tell a story. People love stories.

I will now go through and systematically address each of these points and explain how the Daily Mail uses them to great success.

Social Currency

People love to show off about things they’ve learnt. ‘Pub Ammo’ is the toe-curling cliché that seems to sum this phenomenon up neatly. If you make something that you think people will want to tell people then they’ll want to share it.

Take this example:

hoverboards

A cursory glance is enough to make you think we’ll all be riding around on ‘hoverboards’ next week, but a little critical thinking tells us that this would only apply to hoverboards that were 1mm in size. Take away the misleading opening question and this article could be quite interesting – and it certainly fills a knowledge gap (albeit not the one it advertises), plus 447 people shared the article

hoverboard shares

 

…presumably with this expression on their face:

You don’t have to be misleading with your own content. Just telling people something really, really interesting will be enough to ensure it gets shared around.

Triggers

In creating content, I would normally advise you to see what people are talking about by going on Twitter or Reddit and trying to tap into that subject with your own slant. Giving a different perspective can be good. However, if you’re the Daily Mail, instead of adding to the discussion you can just make news up about anything you like.

Here is a selection of things deemed newsworthy by The Mail. I have provided notes on how each tapped into ‘Triggers’.

‘The Only Way is Pregnancy: Billy Faiers and boyfriend Greg are ‘expecting their first child’ in the summer

(5 shares in the first 20 minutes. Not bad. I have no idea who these two people are, but based on the particularly rubbish pun I guess they’re reality TV stars. Obviously I’m not the target audience, so possibly they’re well-known in certain circles. The people who are interested in the breeding habits of television stars will be likely to share it).

‘What are THEY doing together? Justin Bieber takes Selena Gomez for a Segway ride around his neighbourhood’

(Obviously ‘Justin Bieber’ is a hot topic. I forecast that there is someone Googling ‘Justin Bieber’ somewhere in the world every second of every day. By running a non-story about ‘Justin Bieber’, The Mail ensures it will appear in the news results for ‘Justin Bieber’, increasing its clickthroughs and engagement. This article had 79 shares in an hour)

 ‘I would rather be alone with dignity’: ‘Relieved’ Jack Cockings opens up on Twitter following abrupt ‘trial separation’ from wife Melanie Sykes

(Only 4 shares for this one. Probably because nobody knows who Jack Cockings is. I’ve heard of Melanie Sykes, but she’s not the focus of the story, so this is quite unremarkable.)

‘Sam Faiers leaves home to cheers from family before being ‘hidden’ as she arrives at secret location ahead of CBB’

(Obviously the whole world will be tuning in for ‘CBB’ tonight. And readers will be pleased to learn that Sam Faiers (possibly a relation to the Billy Faiers above?) is a potential housemate. A reality TV star is going on a different reality TV show. This is the greatest thing to happen since The Flintstones met The Jetsons. For tapping into a ‘big new story’ (CBB) they’ve earned 34 shares).

You may think that these articles don’t have a particularly huge number of shares, but bearing in mind The Mail produces hundreds of new pages each day, these shares (and views) soon add up.

Emotion

We all know that the Daily Mail’s articles usually tick one or more of the following boxes:

Inaccurate, insensitive, sexist, racist, homophobic, transphobic, anti-NHS, warmongering, scare-mongering, sensationalist, science-fearing.

That’s because they’re trying to make people emotional.

According to Jonah Berger, the best emotion for getting people to share things is ‘Awe’. If you create something awesome, people will be more willing to share it. Some people would incite ‘awe’ by cataloguing every sighting of Jesus’ face in everyday objects… but The Mail doesn’t care about awe. They’re targeting a different emotion (and one which I personally think would be more useful to target…) Anger.

Anger causes arousal and arousal causes activity. If you spend an hour on Facebook, you’ll see roughly 66,753 posts from your friends, outraged about some story or another.

Take this example:

breast is best

The article is about a woman who had post-natal depression and committed suicide after seeking help for her mental illness. The article (written in the words of the woman’s husband) suggests that she was failed by the system because the hospital staff focussed on the breastfeeding issue and ignored the mental health issue.

Firstly, women aren’t admitted to hospital just because they can’t breastfeed. Maybe she had Mastitis and needed antibiotics, maybe the baby was losing weight and needed to be monitored. In any case, this probably wasn’t the focus of the hospital staff when treating her.

Secondly, breast feeding wasn’t the direct cause of her suicide. She still killed herself after she’d fed her baby with a bottle so although the breast feeding problem probably wasn’t helpful, it wasn’t the only cause.

Thirdly, hospital staff aren’t trained to treat mental health issues (it’s still a fairly new discipline). Even then, people aren’t admitted on mental health grounds unless they’ve attempted suicide before or have a solid plan to do so.

So this article is unscientific, inaccurate, insensitive, sensationalist, anti-NHS and misleading. But it was still a viral success.

People could have shared it for 4 reasons:

1)      They applied basic critical thinking and were outraged that this type of ‘journalism’ exists.

2)      They were angry that a woman was driven to suicide by a breast-feeding obsessed society.

3)      They were angry at the mail for suggesting the breast feeding obsession is a bad thing.

4)      They were depressed by the story (sadness is still an emotion, though not as arousing and therefore not as useful for sharing).

It doesn’t matter what made them emotional. They still got worked up and shared it, causing more people to read it and get worked up and share it.

And with every angry share, The Mail grows in strength.

(If you’re creating content for your business, a bit of controversy is ok but it’s probably better to stick to ‘awesome’ stuff)

Practical Value

Content that teaches people how to do something in a simple way is a success story in the making. Life Hacker has made its entire business model out of it, and there are thousands of similar tips and tricks doing the rounds all the time on social media.

The Daily Mail doesn’t really target this aspect too much (unless you find paparazzi shots useful), but occasionally they’ll offer something vaguely practical:

slimming

The article doesn’t answer the question, the ‘expert’ is a dietician who says ‘there is no quick-fix for weight loss’ and the rest of the article reads like a series of press releases from dieting products.

But you can see they were trying to be useful, and for their trouble the article got 226 shares.

If you were thinking about content for your company, you could keep it interesting and useful and summarise some kind of industry secret. That would be pretty valuable. The more useful, the more people will share it and promote it.

Public

Making your content easily sharable is the key to getting it shared. If you can prompt people to talk about your company on Facebook or Twitter then you’re on the path to viral success.

Just think about The Daily Mail. If you’ve ever taken to Twitter or Facebook to complain about the latest ball of hate spouting out of the Daily Mail, then consider yourself a sucker.

Last year, Samantha Brick wrote an article claiming other women hate her for being beautiful.

She claimed that although she is heaped with gifts from men, she is admonished by jealous women. The article included lots of pictures of Brick. I don’t want to republish them here (I’d have to credit The Mail) so instead, I’ve done an artist’s impression of Samantha, complete with Rotten-Seafood Grimace.

sammy

Bearing in mind The Mail’s readership is 52% female, the formula of ‘piss off the most people’ seems to be in full swing. People took to Social Media in their thousands to complain. In the blink of a heavily mascaraed eye, ‘Samantha Brick’ was trending on Twitter and the firestorm of comments drove an untold amount of traffic to the Daily Mail site.

Digital success is fickle. While it’s likely 100% of the Tweets were chiding Brick, they turned out to be a tool of success. By complaining about her en masse, the Twitterers strengthened her platform – lifting her onto a pedestal and turning an unknown woman into a ‘celebrity’ overnight. Now we have to put up with her trending on Twitter every time she meets her controversial opinion deadline.

Stories

We enjoy stories.

I mean ‘we’ as a species. It’s possible other species also like stories. Of course, there’s the famous case of the bonobo which learned a rudimentary sign language. He was able to tell the zookeeper that the missing toucans could be found in the lion’s belly. Amazing.

I made that up, but I reckon you liked it. People like stories. See?

I’m afraid The Daily Mail’s stories aren’t quite as heartwarming as mine.

They’re ‘human interest’ I suppose. The breastfeeding example above is a beacon of story-telling. There’s a beginning, a middle and an end. A hero (the woman who died). A villain (the NHS). And a moral (don’t obsess over breastfeeding?).

Other stories the Daily Mail has introduced to the literary cannon include these heart-warmers:

‘RAF veteran has clocked up a million miles over 73 years (and hasn’t had a single accident or prang)’

 ‘Baby-faced gang leader is banned from town centre unless he is with his mother after terrorising shoppers’

‘You’re the best dad ever’: Mairead Philpott’s sick letter to a vile father of 17 who killed six of their children in a house fire’

‘Kim Jong-Un killed his ‘scum’ uncle: Dictator had him stripped naked, thrown into a cage and eaten alive by a pack of dogs’

These stories are so reductionist they can fit into one grammatically-questionable sentence, but that’s part of their beauty. You’re intrigued by them and you click on them to read more.

Then you get angry and share it.

Hopefully this article has helped you understand why The Daily Mail is so consistently horrible.

In the words of Pope Benedict: ‘I DID IT ALL FOR THE RETWEETS, BABY!’

If you want to emulate this kind of viral success, give us a ring and we’ll sort you out with a bespoke content marketing strategy.

P.s. If you don’t like anything I said, you should probably share this with everyone in your social circles and possibly write a blog post about me (but be sure to link back).

Commodus

Joe

November 25th, 2013.

Nobody Cares About Your Brand

One of the biggest problems facing Content Marketers is how best to represent ‘The Brand’ when developing engaging content.

I’ve got a newsflash for you:

YOU DON’T HAVE TO!!!!

In fact, I’d go even further and say you should always try to move away from your brand when building content. The less ‘advertorial’ the content is, the more engaging and sharable it will be.

Far be it from me to tell you your brand is boring, but unless you own a company that makes Star Wars costumes for cats, the internet won’t care what you have to say.

The best content is the stuff that:

  • Fills a knowledge gap,
  • Answers an important question, or,
  • Gets people worked up into a frenzy of commenting and sharing.

You need to ask yourself one important question when planning your content:

Who Will Find This Interesting?

The best answer to this question is ‘Everyone’. You need to ensure maximum appeal to encourage maximum sharability. You need to be getting your content in front of high authority websites and bloggers. If they see the value of the content, they’ll be more willing to use it and provide you with that all-important link. You will never, ever, ever be able to trick people into posting an advert for your website. That’s just not how it works. However, if you’re offering something entertaining or useful that they can reuse to their advantage, they’ll be much more willing to promote your brand.

Here’s a nice thought experiment to explain what I mean:

You’re at a festival with two stages. On one stage, a man is stood talking about the history of his company. On the other stage, a man is riding a lion and juggling swords while a penguin tries to shoot an apple off of his head with a revolver. Who do you think would draw the bigger crowd? Which will be filmed and go viral on the internet and which will be ignored?

The internet is the world’s biggest festival. There’s plenty of content out there, so make sure yours stands out.

I know what you’re thinking: ‘But, Joe! My brand is interesting. I’m offering something unique and my clients love it’. That may be true, and it’s a great system for driving sales. Unfortunately, web content for the most part isn’t about driving conversions – it’s about promoting the brand, building authority and increasing engagement.

I’ll agree your brand probably is very interesting, but I guarantee you’ll find your content more successful if you focus on using your unique industry position to inform your content, rather than define it. I’ll bet you’re sitting on a goldmine of insider information that would be perfect for filling knowledge gaps or creating a useful resource. Everyone has some information lying around – whether you’re a travel company with a great knowledge of the most beautiful places to visit in Europe or a rug manufacturing company with an insight into the psychology of rug design. Put a spin on your data and make it as interesting as possible.

Here’s a takeaway list of things to remember when planning content:

Interest: You need to make it interesting. Make sure nobody will be saying ‘So What?’

Emotion: Getting people worked up on a human level is a surefire way to increase engagement. Happiness and funny content are well shared, but (I’ll let you in on a secret…), making people angry is the best method. The more furious people get, the more active they become. That’s how the Daily Mail is so successful (See Matt’s post: ‘Why the Daily Mail became the world’s most read newspaper‘)

Topical: Try to tap into a current trend on Social Media or in the news. If you can give it a new slant, all the better.

Usable: Usability is a hugely beneficial trait of online content. If people think their friends might find it helpful, they’ll send it to them. Life Hacker is a fine example of this in practice.

In summary: sometimes it pays to step away from your brand a little in the name of creating good content. Especially on the internet.

Take a look through our Complete History of Viral Content and apply this criteria to see why things were successful.

hummingbird-dd

Joe

October 10th, 2013.

Google’s Biggest Update in Years has Already Happened: Hummingbird

Those of us interested in how search engines work have been talking this week about ‘Hummingbird’. Not the hollow-boned, nectar-loving tweetie-pies; rather Google’s newest and most revolutionary search engine algorithm in quite some time.

You’ll likely have heard of ‘Panda’ and ‘Penguin’. They were algorithmic updates which supposedly made the search results better. Unlike their counter-parts in the animal kingdom, they weren’t cute and they didn’t make for good YouTube videos; but they did improve the quality of websites and the practices of SEOs.

‘Hummingbird’ is a different beast entirely. Far from being an update to an existing algorithm, it’s an entirely new feature which shows Google’s desire to move searching away from ‘Keywords’ and towards ‘Semantic Searches’. They’re approaching what they call “conversational search”

In 2001, you may have searched for:
‘CINEMA + TIMES + LONDON + AVENGERS’

And you may have been presented with an article from The Times about a new movement of filmgoers in London who are avenging the demise of arthouse productions.

But search isn’t like that anymore. People search more or less how they talk, so searches are more like:
‘Cinema times in London for The Avengers’.

And the rise of voice search on mobile devices means people will try to search:

‘What time is The Avengers playing in London?’

Words like ‘how’, ‘what’, ‘when’ etc. now have a value in Google’s searches. They want to give the most accurate response to your request.

What does that mean for website owners?

As a website owner you’ll need to be improving the information content of your site. Undoubtedly keywords will still matter, but since Google is now holding keyword data to ransom, the best thing you can do is improve the quality of your on-site content. This also means you can stand out in your industry – if you’re the world’s authority on Playstation Game Artwork then make sure you can answer questions like ‘Who designed the GTA 5 artwork?’.

‘Hummingbird pays more attention to each word in the query, ensuring the whole query is taken into account – so if a resulting page is a bit less strong in general, but it’s the most relevant to your search terms, that’s the result you’ll get.’ – Google, as told to The Register.

People are asking questions. If you’re equipped to answer them then your site should reflect that.

Personally I think this is a step in the right direction. The internet is becoming more personal, so responding to the intricacies of language is more essential now than ever before. It makes far more sense to work out what people mean rather than just responding literally to the words they use.

Facebook1

Joe

July 11th, 2013.

How We Gained 1000 Facebook Fans in 2 Weeks

How we gained a client 1000 new fans in two weeks.

‘How can we increase our social following?’

It’s a question we get asked all the time.

There are a number of ways to boost your social profile, but the most efficient and effective is a targeted and well-publicised competition.

This is something we told our friends at The Turtle Mat Company when they approached us to help build their social reach. We sat down and developed a plan for a brief but effective competition – tying in with the launch of their new range of door mats and their promotional stall at the Chelsea Flower Show.

The prize was simple, but attractive to their target demographic: £100 in Gardening Vouchers, with runners up receiving a mat from their new range.

turt mat

We wanted to make a big impact, so rather than relying on Facebook’s somewhat costly promotional posts and adverts, we developed an app using Offerpop – a really straightforward and comprehensive competition design service.

Entry to the competition required Liking the page; answering a simple question: ‘What’s your favourite flower that blossoms in May?’ and also included the option to leave an email address to sign up for more promotions and news.

In the run-up to the competition launching, we publicised the competition via email, Facebook and Twitter; then during the course of the competition we arranged for some paid-exposure through relevant social platforms.

The results were phenomenal:

-          Turtle Mat’s Facebook fans boosted to over 1200 in the two week run of the competition

-          90% of people who Liked the page also supplied an email address for future contact.

-          Since the competition was targeted, the responders were passionate and excited to be involved.

-          Cross-promotion on Twitter led to a run-off increase in Twitter followers.

Overall the competition was a huge success, and gave a huge boost to Turtle Mat’s marketing power on Facebook.

Social competitions are a really effective way to generate a buzz around your product, engagement with your brand and (most importantly) give a natural increase to your marketing potential.

To talk to us about boosting your social profile, give us a call!

info

Joe

July 8th, 2013.

Interactive Content: Building strong links via infographics

In response to the growing need to get creative in the link building world, our content team has been putting a lot more effort into developing Infographics as part of the outreach process.

The offer of a resource with great data and a huge visual impact is something that’s useful to both the bloggers we want to work with and their readership. Ultimately, it’s a more engaging method than standard Guest Posting.

We tested our theory with our friends at www.ppcgb.com, who specialise in parts and accessories for performance cars.

I reached out to www.autoblog.com, an AOL-affiliate in the Auto industry, and we worked up something that fit with both their editorial style, and the needs of PPCGB. At our end, we researched the facts and got the infographic made up. They then wrote the story and broke it as news.

the cost of motoring compared worldwide v2

http://www.autoblog.com/2013/05/29/infographic-the-cost-of-motoring-around-the-world/

The primary response was fantastic.

Socially:

Facebook Shares: 329

Tweets: 100

Google+ +1s: 30

On-Page Comments: 61

These are great figures and it shows that infographics are exactly the sort of thing that make a big impact socially. The big benefit of social success is a boost in visitors to the page, meaning an increase in click-throughs and a generally stronger link.

The secondary response was where the real magic happened.

Backlinks

Dozens of pages ‘borrowed’ the infographic, and after a bit of nudging via email and Twitter, they all supplied proper author credits to PPCGB and ultimately contributed to a fantastic link profile.

More than that, high-authority domains from around the world found a use for the infographic, each focussing on a different aspect of the information (examples below). That’s one of the major benefits of dealing with infographics as a platform: as long as the information is laid out simply and is visually stimulating; it has universal appeal.

The Greek version of Autoblog:

http://www.autoblog.gr/2013/06/01/infographic-the-cost-of-owning-a-car-world-wide/

‘Auto News’: A Russian car blog

http://autonews.autoua.net/novosti/issledovateli-izuchili-stoimost-vladeniya-avto-v-r.html

‘Carplace’: A Portguese lifestyle website

http://carplace.virgula.uol.com.br/infografico-mostra-custo-de-ter-um-carro-ao-redor-do-mundo/

‘Niconico’: A Japanese Pop Culture website

http://ch.nicovideo.jp/autoblog/blomaga/ar248903

Overall, we’ve been able to prove the power of infographics, and undeniably, people love them.

BUT…

Just like anything in the world of digital marketing, change is constant and there is always a need to think one step ahead. There’s been a lot of talk lately that the next updates to Google’s algorithms will factor in methods such as infographics, so we’re currently working on ways to drive traffic and links directly to our client’s sites.

We’re currently working on building resource-type static pages, which answer big industry questions. ‘Definitive Guides’ and ‘How tos’ as well as entertaining and engaging content which is purpose-built to make a big impact on social media.

We’re always looking to push the limits and create more engaging content to get people spending time with each brand, so get in touch to talk about a Content Marketing strategy to suit your brand.

 

pjoene

Joe

June 25th, 2013.

The 3 Options for Making Your Website Mobile and a 4th.

All of the briefs we’ve received this year have included a request for a ‘mobile version’ of the proposed new site.

But what does this mean? And do I hear the creak of an overloaded bandwagon?

Just as 2011-12 was the year of the Social Strategy [with no specification as to what that actually means], 2013 is fast becoming the year of the Mobile Site. 

Yes, it’s true that mobile use is increasing:

chart

Source Monetate E-Commerce Quarterly.

But how should you respond?

People could be accessing your website from any number of devices (such as phones (of all shapes and sizes), tablets (of all shapes and sizes) and even smart TVs (of all shapes and sizes). So, as a website owner, you shouldn’t be asking whether you should be considering mobile options, you should be asking which mobile options to consider – or shock-horror, opting to do nothing.

So  there are 4 main options available to you. Each has its pros and cons, so let’s get the run-down:

 

#1 Responsive Web Design

What is it?

In a nutshell, this is designing your site so that its layout responds to the device on which it is being displayed..

Advantages

-          Streamlined: The site is hosted on the same domain and uses the same URL so there are no SEO issues or redirecting issues.

-          Consistent with Desktop Content: The same content is just presented in a different layout.

-          Low Maintenance Cost: Although initial build costs may be slightly higher, the cost of maintenance and updating should be lower (as you are only maintaining one site).

Disadvantages

-          Slower Loading Times – If you are adapting an old site to a responsive site you may find that it is not fully optimised for mobile and is slow to load. However, if you are building a new site and taking a ‘Mobile First’ approach, this shouldn’t be a problem. But 3G and 4G coverage remains sporadic and unstable – so some content may take time to download.

-          General Usability – Mobile users will generally have a goal in mind when accessing a website. Whether it’s buying, reading or checking-in, they may not want to go through the same process as a desktop user. They may expect a stripped down version of the site similar to an App.

-          Lack of Mobile Features You won’t be able to get the same level of integration from a responsive site – features such as camera, photos or calendars.

-          Lack of Zoom - if you are used to pinching and zooming into websites on mobile in order to be able to read the tiny text then you will not be able to on a responsive website.

Whether or not to go responsive divides opinion. We’ve been experimenting on our own site with responsive design and generally prefer the regular layout, when viewing on an Iphone.  But all sites and companies are different and user needs should be a chief consideration.

 

#2 Dedicated Mobile Site

What is it?

Dedicated mobile sites are purpose built versions of the original website which are hosted at a new domain address (usually by adding ‘m’ before or after the original address: m.tesco.com or www.argos.co.uk/m/.

The web server normally recognises which device is being used and serves (delivers) the appropriate site to display.

Advantages

-          Different Content – A site purpose-built for mobile will usually have features which can load more quickly on mobile platforms, and you can dispense with some of the superfluous elements found on the desktop version.

-          Speedy Development – Compared with alternatives, a mobile site can be built relatively easily. This is less labour-intensive and subsequently less costly than other mobile options.

-          Mobile-Focussed – Development for the mobile platform means that navigation and usability are friendlier for mobile users.

Disadvantages

-          Slower Service – Redirection from main sites to mobile sites takes time. It may only be seconds, but it still damages the overall user experience.

-          Double Maintenance – Essentially two sites need to be managed; adding new functionality would need to be done twice.

-          SEO Issues – Since the content (and therefore the traffic) is split across two URLs, there’s the chance that your overall SEO will suffer. However, there are ways around this which I’ll outline later in this article.

We built a mobile shop-page for an automotive client. The desktop site’s main focus is selling car parts, so we stripped it down to the essentials to make it easy for mobile users.


 #3 Mobile Apps

What are they?

Apps are programs that are saved to the device. They’re relatively small (compared with full websites) and they tend to serve one function (reading articles, shopping, checking-in). They can be a useful way to allow mobile users to access one of your site’s main utilities, or to promote your brand (with a game or similar App).

Advantages:

-          Completely Mobile Friendly - Apps have the distinction of being native to the device, so they can access and utilize any of the phone’s capabilities (Camera, Calendar, Maps etc).

-          Offline Options – While some Apps require the internet to function fully (social platforms), many others can operate offline, or cache data when an internet connection is available ready for when one isn’t.

-          Quicker Loading Times – Since the App is self-contained, loading times should be quicker. Of course this depends on (and is limited by) the device’s memory and processor power.

-          Push Notifications - Apps have the ability to update you with the things you need to know. Such as when you receive a new friend request on Facebook, or when you’re near a public toilet.

Disadvantages:

-          No Cross-Functionality – Apps are made for specific platforms. iOS Apps will work on iphone or ipad, but will not be usable by Windows devices – or any non-Apple devices for that matter. This means Apps must be developed for each platform, which is expensive.

-          Updates – Apps need to be constantly updated and tweaked. This is in terms of both user-feedback and changes to the device. This can be time-consuming and costly.

-          Downloading – Apps have to be downloaded for use. Success in the App world may require considerable marketing and promotion.

We’ve applied appropriate aptitude to developing an App for a company that focusses on standardised testing. The App allows mobile users to practice the tests wherever they are.

The 4th Option

So those are your three options regarding adapting to mobile.  There is of course a fourth option and that is that of doing nothing.  Most website operate perfectly satisfactorily on mobile and indeed users who know your site will welcome the fact they do not need to relearn where everything is on the page and the new navigation options.  This is a strong argument for keeping the status-quo which is not receiving enough credence now that the dash for “mobile first” has been triggered in marketing departments.

So in conclusion beware of the bandwagon, think about the implications before you jump.  If someone says “Mobile first” to you ask them what they actually mean and what they want to achieve.

If you would like any more information, please get in touch.

And as a special thank you for reading this far, I’ll now present a guide on how to optimise mobile sites for SEO in the form of a Shakespearean sonnet:

You’ve built two sites; one desktop, one mobile,

But now you’re concerned that your traffic’s split,

And now you’ve come to visit Datadial,

To fix your SEO a little bit.

There are two points that must be mentioned here,

Two tags to put in your HTML,

(On each version of the page – let’s be clear)

They are two tags, and they both start with ‘Rel’.

Rel=”alternate” on the desktop

Make sure it points to the mobile and all…

And pointing back, just so it doesn’t flop

On mobile: Rel=”canonical”

But other things cannot be avoided.

Like linking to mobile, just like I did:

 

So basically add some links in the HTML of each page that look like this:

Desktop: <link rel=”alternate” href=”http://m.example.com/page-example”>

Mobile: <link rel=”canonical” href=http://example.com/page-example>

 

plane

Joe

May 2nd, 2013.

Social Media Tactics: Travel Companies

It’s time to answer the age-old question: How do Travel Companies use Social Media?

Two questions arise first: How do they convince their audience to keep them in their networks, among their friends and family? And how do they convert Social Media users into customers?

Below is a review of some of the biggest names in one of the biggest international market places: The Travel Industry.

For uniformity and narrower scope, we’ll be looking at the UK arms of each company.

Let’s start with the big dog: Thomas Cook.

Facebook

The Facebook stats for TC are more or less what we’d expect…

 

1

 

In fairness, the figures could be higher since Thomas Cook is one of the biggest travel agents in the UK. Let’s take a look at what they’re doing right (and wrong):

Posts

The typical post on Thomas Cook’s Facebook wall is one that encourages ‘Liking’ pictures.

Normally the idea users are encouraged to like is something that everyone inherently likes. In fact I daresay everybody on earth likes Relaxation and Saving Money. 

Playing it safe: generating a big response.  Also, check out the very subtle link to their website. Every post on their page is an advert, but you wouldn’t know it.
2

 

They also run a weekly competition to win: Nothing. They encourage users to guess the destination and share and like the picture. There’s no incentive, but it appears to work. In my opinion it’s the nice picture that helps. People love sharing pictures. If this had been a picture of a ruined village I doubt it would have generated the same level of response.
4

 

Interacting with Customers

The posts from other people on Thomas Cook’s page appear to almost exclusively be complaints from customers.

 

5

 

With the examples below I’m immediately struck by the bureaucratic nature of the responses. The Facebook page is the face of the company, and here it is fobbing off problems to other parts of the company. It would have served them better to say something conciliatory: ‘Sorry to hear that, let’s try to get it sorted’. These responses don’t help the customer or allay their dissatisfaction.

On the bright side, they do give informative answers to non-complaints, and ‘Claire’ seems to be willing to put her name to the posts.

Moving on to the next company, we have Intrepid Travel. A smaller company, focussed on ‘Adventure Holidays’ to exotic destinations.

 

Facebook

Even though the company is smaller, we can see immediately that they have a great engagement with their audience.

 

6

 

This is a typical post:

 

8

 

They’re promoting the work of one of their fans, with everyone’s favourite sharable media: A Nice Photo. Even better, it’s a photo taken by one of their customers and Facebook fans. It’s a great way to generate a buzz within the community and it acts as a superb advert for a holiday to Nepal.

Another type of post serves a completely different purpose:

 

7

 

On this occasion they’re plugging another Social Media event. Again, this is an advert; but surprise-surprise they’ve used a cool picture to disguise it.

Noticing a trend yet? Here’s another example:

 

9

 

Advert in disguise. Very clever.

 

Interacting with Customers

Intrepid Travels have praise lumped on them as much as Thomas Cook receive complaints. Moreover, they engage with their customers as people rather than a faceless company:

 

10

 

Even though they’re plugging another part of their Social Profile, we can forgive it because they’re so friendly and encouraging. Plus the feature in question is a photo album of their customer’s travels. Croud-sourced content. Great stuff.

They’re also well informed and helpful:

 

11

 

Twitter

Whilst the numbers are lower than the Facebook page, Interpid’s Twitter stats are nothing to be sniffed at:

 

12

 

Their Tweets are pretty much what you’d expect, along with some questionable #Hashtags.

 

13

 

Industry news along with links. And asking engaging and amusing questions:

 

14

 

Another Adventure Travel site of note is Wild Frontiers. An even smaller company with a significantly smaller Social Profile:

 

Facebook

15

 

What’s the one thing we’ve learnt works?

Pictures!!!!!!

With that in mind, it’s fairly easy to see where these guys are going wrong:

 

16

 

Sharing a link to your own site under a block of text (and the full link at that!) is not a good way to get people excited.

The next example is a great piece of industry news with a lot of chances for incredible pictures; and although they’ve tried to encourage involvement with a question, the question is rather niche and the post feels cluttered.

 

17

 

Interaction with Customers

On the plus side, they’re very informative in their responses to customer’s questions (although perhaps a little slow).

 

18

 

Even when fans are just keen to share their love of TV Documentaries staring Chris Tarrant, they give them the time of day and respond in kind.

 

19

 

Twitter

WF’s Twitter standing is reasonably good compared with its Facebook:

 

20

 

The Twitter stream is very much focussed on audience interaction. Twitter is used to promote the blog (company news, industry news and all company projects etc.):

 

21

 

WF’s link with its blog is great to see. Not only does it promote the blog by getting the content into the social sphere; it also shows a conscious desire to engage with the audience.

Also, it never hurts to help your fans sing your praises:

 

22

 

And once again, back to the sure-fire winner… nice pictures!

 

23

 

Moving away from adventure holidays and into luxury travel: Next up on our list is Western and Oriental.

 

Facebook
24

 

The Facebook statistics seem rather paltry for W&O, and taking a look at the typical wall posts, it’s easy to see why…

 

25

 

Although they’ve caught onto the trend of using stunning pictures, the accompanying text reads like a press release. They’ve even gone as far as keeping terms and conditions in the post, and using the pure URL. All this screams one thing.

They’ve also picked up on the trend of using regular features. The ‘Wonderful Offer of the Week’ isn’t particularly catchy, but once again they’re let down by a focus on stats rather than an appeal to emotion. Check out this link for more in the same genre.

 

26

 

Although they do get one thing right: combining nice pictures with regular features to get: ‘Picture of the Week’. This got a good response in comparison to the marketing posts:

 

27

 

Interaction with Customers

Having few fans means little need to react to their questions, but to their credit, on the one occasion someone did ask something they were very helpful:

 

28

 

Twitter

Compared with their Facebook page, W&O have a great following on Twitter:

 

29

 

They use their Twitter presence to spread industry news (with out-of-place hashtags):

 

30

 

Although, almost counter-intuitively, the marketing material seems to generate more of a response than the stories about animals:

 

31

 

Although the cynic in me thinks Tom Browne works for W&O since he retweets nearly all of their posts…

Moving onto another slightly bigger travel agent, we have Sta Travel.

 

33

 

They have a good following and their posts generally generate a good response:

 

34

 

I like that the above example takes advantage of the dominance a picture has in a Facebook post. Yellow is eye-catching and its a very evocative image. The text is also both topical and carries a great incentive.

Equally posts that are purely promotional/marketing traps use incredible images and shortened URLs. The point is clear and the opportunity to engage is very easy.

 

35

 

And it’s always nice to see a company link its Social Media with its blog:

 

36

 

Engagement with Customers

STA have an exemplary customer relations attitude. Even when a customer offers a vague question such as the one below, they give a full comment with examples and research – and even drop in a bit of upselling completely naturally. This is the best only way anyone should use Social Media as a sales tactic – dropped in almost as an afterthought.

 

37

 

Also to its credit, STA offered a Q&A with its online team where Facebook fans could ask anything they want about Thailand. The response was great, and even though STA didn’t answer every question, other members of the community were more than willing to help each other out. It made for a great foundation for an online travel group:
39

 

40

 

Twitter

STA’s Twitter following (whilst not quite as big as it’s FB following) is still respectable:

41

 

By mentioning unconventional holiday activities, they’re able to inspire engagement and response:

42

 

It seems that even by acknowledging their own marketing methods, they’re able to use them to a decent effect:

 

43

 

And as ever, it’s great to give your fans a bigger platform to praise you from:

 

44

 

Overall, great customer engagement and a focus on more unique aspects of travel give STA a great social media presence.

And finally on our hitlist, we have Eastern travel specialists, Travelfish.

Travelfish are quite unique as all of their social media appears to be run predominantly by one man: the owner, Stuart McDonald. In any case, their Facebook stats are very good:

 

45

 

This post takes advantage of the ‘great picture’ phenomenon, as well as giving the appearance of a kind of travelogue or diary entry. It appears to have generated a good response whatever the reason:

 

47

 

Conversely, this very promotional product-based post did less well. I still thing it’s weird when people use full links. The full one seems overwhelming.

 

46

 

And also posts about industry news with stunning photos are used to generate a decent response (still with the full link though :( )

 

48

 

Twitter

This is where the obvious flaws in having one person run an entire company’s Twitter becomes apparent…

 

51

 

Despite a decent following, the Tweets don’t seem to generate much of a response.

I think it’s because they’re largely idiosyncratic. The mini-blog style doesn’t lend itself to corporate social media:
53

 

Also giving off-brand reviews about other Social Media tools (which you use!) is probably a no-no:

 

54

 

The majority of the rest of the Tweets are conversations with fans about eastern travel. In this sense, the personal touch is a benefit as McDonald is clearly an expert in his field and loves talking about it. It does leave the rest of us feeling rather left out though:

 

55

 

As a sidenote, Travelfish is the only one of our subjects here that features a Facebook App as one of its social tools…

Unfortunately the ‘App’ is a still image which shows the date in Asia along with some bizzare travel related images. That’s it.

 

56

 

Overall it seems that the best posts in Social Media are ones that contain unique perspectives and nice pictures. However, this is totally down to each brand.

Ultimately, it’s important to stress that Social Media shouldn’t be used as a Marketing Tool, it should be used as a way to interact with your customers; and for them to be able to reach you easily.

Sewing the seeds with sharable engaging content means that you can use subtle advertising methods once your audience grows to a decent size.

The real challenge is coming up with a Social Media plan to suit your business.

But that shouldn’t be too hard…

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lion

Joe

April 18th, 2013.

We’re Being Sued – For Linking To Shopzilla

lion

(image)

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If you like crime stories, you’ll love this. ‘True Crime: Hammersmith’ is the story of a deranged criminal organisation (Datadial) and the ensuing legal battle to stop it.

Chapter 1. The Best Intentions.

On August 17th, 2010; the world was rocked to its core when the Datadial blog posted an article titled ‘Increase Conversion rates – advanced techniques’. Of course, it all seemed fairly innocuous. A simple review of tools to help increase conversion rates on your website.  The article named several companies and their websites and praised them for their techniques. Indeed, one man even thanked Datadial for the mention! Eames2 Clearly Mr. Eames didn’t realise that he was just a pawn in one man’s cruel game; the likes of which the legal world has never seen. …until now.

 

Chapter 2. The Worst Intentions 17th April 2013. Almost three years later. An email is sent from Fox Williams LLP to the author of the article and owner of the website, Mr. Robert Faulkner. The email was sent on behalf of Fox Williams LLP’s client, Shopzilla.co.uk. You’ve probably heard of Shopzilla. According to their Trade mark List of Goods and Services (which was supplied in the email) they specialise in: ‘Promoting sale of goods and services of others; Internet consumer comparison shopping services; providing ratings and reviews of businesses and products and services for use by consumers; providing databases containing commercial information relating to products and merchants’. As it transpires, Shopzilla had been mentioned in Datadial’s article all those years ago. Right at the bottom. As an honourable mention, as recognition for their online service. excerp1t Shopzilla had finally gotten wind of the article, after all that time; and they did the only thing any self-respecting company would do. They contacted their solicitors to have the link removed.   Chapter 3. Motives Why did they want the link removed? Why indeed. Allow me to reprint the grounds of the legal action and analyse each point in-depth:

  1. Trade Mark infringement
The Infringing Website contains a link to our client’s website, http://www.shopzilla.co.uk, creating an unauthorised association with our client and their Trade Mark. Your use of the link on the Infringing Website is:
  • Causing detriment to the distinctive character of the Trade Mark;
  • Causing detriment to the reputation of the Trade Mark by creating an undesirable association with the Infringing Website; and
  • Taking unfair advantage of the goodwill attached to the Trade Mark.
Our client is entitled, at its own election, to damages or an account of profits for use of the Trade Mark.
 

Now… as I’ve mentioned, Shopzilla is legally defined as one that “provides ratings and reviews of businesses and products and services for use by consumers”. It sets itself up as one. That is the legal definition of Shopzilla. If acknowledging this definition is ‘detrimental to the distinctive character of the trademark’ and it creates an ‘undesirable association’ I daresay they might need to have a brand re-think. I wasn’t sure exactly what ‘Goodwill attached to the Trade Mark’ meant. Suing for a mention of your brand doesn’t seem like an act of goodwill to me. I have since looked up ‘Goodwill’ in legal terms and it pretty much means ‘the right to do business without direct competition’.

Basically not stealing other people’s business. (If anyone has a better definition, I’d welcome it in the comments). I’m not quite sure how praising a company prevents it making profits; but I’m fairly sure Datadial didn’t steal any of their market, or any other products that Shopzilla recommends on its site.

As requested, I’ll provide an account of the profits Datadial made through the use of Shopzilla’s name alone:

£0, 000, 000, 000, 000, 000, 000, 000

We’ll happily share in these profits with Shopzilla. It’s only fair.      

2. Passing off [Fox William’s LLP’s] client’s goodwill Our client has invested significant time and money in developing the Shopzilla® brand making it instantly recognisable amongst the public as a trustworthy and reputable online comparison shopping engine. It is highly likely that the average consumer will be confused, believing that our client is in some manner connected with the Infringing Website, either through ownership and operation or through a commercial relationship or endorsement with the operator of the Infringing Website. Such connection is causing our client damage. As such, your use of Shopzilla® in this way constitutes passing off.

I had to open my legal dictionary again for this one. Basically ‘Passing off’ means creating an undue association between two parties, specifically one claiming undue association with the goods sold by another company. I’d like to state unequivocally that Datadial’s use of a link congratulating Shopzilla® on its use of product comparison is not an attempt to gain an association with Shopzilla® or any products sold or compared on Shopzilla®’s website. It would be interesting to see if Shopzilla® could provide proof that Datadial has stolen any of its business.      

3. Copyright Infringement The use of the Infringing Website of text and graphics taken from our client’s websites is an infringement of our client’s copyright. You have copies and communicated the copyrighted work to the public through the Infringing Website. The use of the copyrighted work has occurred without the consent of our client, the copyright owner. We put you on notice that any continued use of our client’s text and/or graphics (in whole or in part) on the Infringing Website will constitute and infringement of our client’s copyright. This is without prejudice to our client’s position that you already have the requisite knowledge to establish such liability.

I was totally on-board until the last sentence. Even my module in Forensic Linguistics couldn’t have prepared me for that. I guess they’re suggesting that because Shopzilla® is a well-known website we should know that everything on their site belongs to them.

If Fox Williams LLP is reading this, I would recommend visiting The Plain English Campaign’s site. I’ve provided a link so you know what I’m talking about. . http://www.plainenglish.co.uk/ I hope they don’t sue me…

Legalese notwithstanding, Datadial hasn’t stolen any content from Shopzilla®. Neither text nor images have been used. Shopzilla®’s name wasn’t even used. It was a link via a URL, and you can’t copyright a URL. And even if you could (WHICH YOU CAN’T) it was a mention in a review so it’s fair use! What’s even more confusing is that Shopzilla appears to have sold out on Point 6 of its own philosophy:

‘Information is Empowering: Share it Wherever Possible’.

 screenshots   Chapter 4. Reasons. So far as I can tell there are no legal grounds for removing a hyperlink. We have been advised by Fox Williams to seek legal advice, so I am hoping the readers of this article can offer some help. Fox Williams have not mentioned that this is a link clean-up operation; and surely they would have gone down the normal route if that was the case. If they’d sent us a polite email asking for the link removal, we would have explained that since we have a reasonably high domain authority of 50+ the link in question would likely have little effect on their rankings and it’s 3 years old anyway so any effect would have been discounted anyway…etc As a precautionary measure we have taken down the link, as requested. If anyone has any thoughts on why Shopzilla wanted this link removed so badly, please share them here though keep it legal!   Chapter 5. A riposte. Datadial is not a law-firm, but it is an internet marketing agency. We know how to use Google. Upon receiving the email, we took to the web to find out all we could about the legalities of Hyperlinking. Here are some insights into the subject as documented by Out-Law.com.

  • “…hyperlinks do not transmit a work, (to which they link) they merely provide the viewer with information as to the location of a page that the user can choose to access or not. There is thus no communication of the work.”  (source)
  • “Just as an improved search-engine that improves the ability of users to locate material for which they are searching should not be required to obtain permission as a matter of copyright law, so providing links or access to material already publicly available should not be regarded as an act that requires any authorisation” (source)
  • “every internet user enjoys access to the work simply by learning the uniform resource locator (URL) the court held. The hyperlink technique obviates the need to enter the URL manually and merely provides an easier and more convenient way to use the internet.” (source)
  • “Kranten.com successfully argued that such deep linking to other sites is a widespread and commonly accepted practice on the internet and because, as in UK law, news articles can be copied for the purpose of reporting current events, provided there is sufficient acknowledgement.” (source)

The author of the original article has never been in trouble with the law. He’s an honest man who does business by the book. You can imagine his upset when he received the original letter. Faced with the fear that he would spend the rest of his life in prison, he considered transfering all of the company’s money to The Battersea Cat’s Home, and move to a Tibetan Monastery. However, he quickly rationalised the situation and sat down on his sofa with a glass of wine and a Twix. Since Shopzilla® and its lawyers are solely responsible for causing an undue amount of stress, it only seems fair that they reimburse him for the glass of wine and Twix. Twix: £0.80 Glass of wine: £2.40

– Update:

Chapter 5. Prologue.

Shopzilla’s VP has come forward to apologise for the misunderstanding. The apology is in the comments below. They acknowledged that it was a mistake and said they were sorry it happened. I guess we’re not being sued anymore!

–Update 2:

We just received a courier delivery…

before1

I wonder what it is…

after1

Well, how about that! A bottle of Red Wine and a box of Twixes. Thanks very much Shopzilla!

bbbb

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