With the UK elections fast approaching I thought it would be interesting to take a look at how well the major UK political parties were using social media to connect with voters.
All of the UK parties are maintaining a social media presence, with Facebook pages, Twitter and YouTube accounts prominently linked from their respective websites. To take a snapshot of activity and a gauge of its success I recorded the following metrics,
- Facebook page friends
- Twitter followers
- Twitter tweets
- Twitter reach
- Klout score – a measure of Twitter influence
- Compete score – a measure of website traffic
While all parties get points for maintaining a social presence on the major social sites The Conservatives are way ahead of their competition when it comes to the number of raw followers and the reach of their campaign. The Green Party received the highest Klout score, a measure of their influence and interaction on Twitter.
Interestingly enough the extremist BNP received by far the largest level of traffic to their website, but were one of the lowest scorers when it came to followers and interaction levels – perhaps an indication of voters researching their headline grabbing policies, but a degree of unwillingness to follow and interact with them, will this translate into a lack of votes?
On the whole though the UK parties are doing a fairly poor job of leveraging and interacting with social media users. Compare the Conservatives 23,000 Facebook page friends with Obama’s profile currently over the 7.5 million mark. Even allowing for a smaller population and lower levels of social media engagement it’s clear that campaigns are failing to achieve what they should be doing. It’s difficult to tell if this is due to campaign mis-management, or simply voter apathy after recent political events.
August 17th, 2009.
Is social media a Fad? A lot of people believe it is. I hear countless times that Facebook will go the way of MySpace and that the Twitter bubble will burst. Maybe they’re right, or maybe they’re falling into the trap of believing that everyone uses the web in exactly the same way that they do.
When you actually break them down, the numbers and stats surrounding social media are truly staggering.
Some of my favourite social media stats……..
- 77% of active internet users read blogs
- 700 million pictures re added to Facebook monthly
- Digg attracts 236 million users per month
- 40 % of journalists use blogs to research their stories
- 13 HOURS of video is uploaded to YouTube every MINUTE
- Flickr contains more than 3.5 billion pictures. That’s one for every 2 people on the planet
- 5 billion minutes spent on Facebook each day
For many many more have a watch of this……
I attended the Online Marketing show at Olympia on Tuesday and listened to “How to implement a social media campaign” By Amelia Torcode, Partner and Head of Digital Strategy, VCCP.
VCCP and Amelia are now the darlings of the social media world following their successful Compare the Market/ Compare the Meerkat campaign. Anna picked up an NMA award last week for the campaign.
I’ve got to say that I was a little disappointed by the presentation, especially on behalf of the delegates who had actually gone along in order to learn about Social Media Marketing. All they got was a self indulgent “aren’t we wonderful” lecture on the Meerkat experience, along with a repeat of some of the adverts just in case you hadn’t quite got the message yet. The talk cost £40 to attend so you would hope to learn something in return apart from how wonderful VCCP are.
But my main beef with the whole thing was actually the question of whether this was in fact a successful Social Media Campaign at all. At its simplest VCCP came up with a cute idea, paid a huge amount to advertise it, set up a Twitter account and Facebook page and then encouraged the banter on these and other sites. This has created incredible awareness and has kept a lot of people happy. Site traffic has gone up 80%, but still way below Confused.com. Succesful quotes have gone up 20%.
But was this really a social media campaign in its truest sense? Could they have achieved a better result at a fraction of the price? Did they essentially miss the point of social marketing?
Social media is a method of generating discussion about your product or service within social network platforms seemingly without any effort being made by yourself. In short you start a story, others pick it up and pass it around because its either funny, interesting or useful If you get the story right you don’t need to spend any money because the “network” does the work for you. In VCCP’s case they (must have) spent a fortune on the development of a separate www.comparethemeerkat.com website and on the TV campaign, and in the process killing the average cost per conversion, although Anna claimed that this had come down by 21% but it was not clear that this took into account VCCP cost.
The point and beauty of social media is that you don’t need a TV campaign, the network does the work for you. The message is passed on because people feel the need to. And the number of people who link to your site ultimately help the Google rankings. The actual spike in traffic is an irrelevance compared to the long term effect on Google rankings
On the point of search engine rankings, in her talk Anna started off by saying that Google was the benchmark around which the whole campaign was based but then did not mention Google from that moment in. When I questioned her about the traffic from Google she was unable to answer as she had no stats and there was a separate agency altogether dealing with natural SEO. In fact any discussion about Google rankings or PPC had her flummoxed. I found this astounding.
I don’t want to knock Anna or the the meerkat campaign but it’s really interesting seeing the different approach that an Advertising agency can have to Social Media compared to a proper Online Marketing company. Advertising is all about brand awareness. SEO is all about driving sales via the website. As an SEO consultant myself I could not imagine implementing a campaign without keeping Google and other search stats at the forefront of any analysis of the campaign’s success.
Also I would have questioned a totally separate site, comparethemeerkat.com to be the backbone of the campaign. Any self respecting SEO will tell you that for a social media campaign to be successful is to get people to link to your client site voluntarily which in turns helps rankings and therefore sales. In this campaign as the majority of the new links will be pointed at the stand-alone Meerkat website. In my opinion this is a huge miss of the campaign. 1000′s of lovely links all going to the wrong website – how depressing!
The only solution would be to 301 the meerkat website one day when no one is looking, though this is a huge social media faux-pas and could potentially lose them a lot of trust and goodwill. Undoubtedly VCCP have been successful in raising awareness of CompareTheMarket but I am unconvinced about the benefits of the long term online presence.
If I was new to social media I would certainly have left none the wiser after this talk. If I had been giving the talk I would have attempted to reveal the theory behind succesful social media marketing, explained how stories got picked up and spun about the web, how a traffic spike in itself is not important but the links that it brings, how the ultimate prize is rankings. In short I would have talked less about myself and more about how to help others, especially if I was charging £40!
June 26th, 2009.
Christmas 09 is only 4 months away.Â No doubt you’llÂ already have your products organised and maybe some ideas on offline marketing butÂ what about online marketing.
Because online marketing can take 4-6 months to “kick in”Â thereâ€™s no time like the present to activate your Christmas strategy.Â Â So belowÂ areÂ 12Â timely remindersÂ on what needs to be in place to ensure that your site delivers this Christmas in a way that would make Santa Claus proud.
1. Blogging â€“ sounds similar to â€˜tobogganingâ€™ and is just as much fun
- Simply, unless you are willing to put the time into adding useful and interesting content on your site then there really is little chance that the search engines will bother ranking you for anything more than your domain name.Â You have to deserve to be number one.
2. Social Media â€“ itâ€™s time to get social (both online and off line) â€“ and we donâ€™t mean just churping along with the robins
- Marketing is no longer a one way monologue.Â It’s all about dialogue now and if you’re not up for a chat then users won’t listen.Â Â If youÂ say somethingÂ interesting then others will refer to it and pass it onto their friend – if it isn’t then they will talk about your competitors products instead.
3. Link Bait â€“ lay the foundations now and reap the rewards by Christmas
- How would you like say 500,000 more visitors to your site. Content will go viral ifÂ written properly – but before it goes viral make sure that your website can take the strain of the increase in visitor traffic.
4. Mouse tracking â€“ discover how your customers behave online and throw them a lump of cheese…
- Find outÂ where people are clicking on your site and where they are getting confused. You’ll be surprised by how quickly and easily people get lostÂ and moveÂ on elsewhere.Â Make sure buttons like “Add to Basket” are big and easy to find (and look like buttons)Â
5. Cross-selling â€“ if your customers have a basket, fill it!
- Seems pretty obvious thing to do but many companies still miss this easy opportunity to up the customers’ spend by 10% or so.Â Ask your web programmers to implemenet basket based offers.
6. Communications â€“ ensure your data management system is working for you and send glad tidings to all your customers
- I’m presuming you already have an email database.Â If not, why not?Â But continue to refine your database so that you can target relevant offers at different people.
7. Seven swans a-swimming â€“ (well we had to give some reference to the twelve days of Christmas) Will your customers be able to swim through your site without any hold ups?
- Should you really be making your customers register before purchase?Â Are you hiding your delivery charges? (Hidden delivery charges are the 2nd most cited reason for people abandoning a shopping cart). Is it obvious how to make the order?Â All these issues will effect conversion rates.Â Get friends to perform specific tasks on your site and see how they perform. You’ll be surprised.
8. Content management system â€“ check that your system will enable you to do everything you require. Weâ€™re still working on a turkey cooking programme but we are happy to cover off everything else.
- Got a great idea for a Christmas offer? Have you checked that your e-commerce software is capable of handling this type of offer.Â Find out now and don’t leave to last moment.
9. Reputation management â€“ discover if you are featuring on your customersâ€™ Christmas wish lists this year
- Find out what people are saying about you with Datadial’s reputation management software and then respond to these commentsÂ and start a dialogue.Â See how Love Film responded to a post I wrote about them – this was a classic bit of Reputation Management whereby they quashed my negative comment about them.
10. PPC â€“ Pretty Perfect Christmas?Â We believe Pay Per Click is the icing on the cake of an online marketing strategy (never the key ingredient)
- Multi channel marketing includes PPC as well as snail mail.Â PPC is expensive if implemented incorrectly.Â Get this sorted before the Christmas rush starts.Â Â Do all your experimenting with what works and what doesn’tÂ or else you’ll find all the money coming in one end is going out the other end.
11. Online PR â€“ You donâ€™t need to bring frankincense and myrrh but if you’re doing anything quirky orÂ different then let the blogosphere know about it
- Do not presume that your PR company can do online PR.Â Online PR is an entirely different science to Offline PR and most PR companies do not have a clue about how to create buzz on line.
12. Online optimisation â€“ creeping round every corner making sure everything is as â€˜friendlyâ€™ as possible
- This is the most important thing to get right – If your website is not optimised for search engines then it has no chance of being ranked for its keywords.Â Ask us to provide a website analysis for you.Â If you ask nicely we might even do it for free, seeing as it’s nearly Christmas!
If you’ve got it all covered then you can join our happy Santa on the beach
April 27th, 2009.
While playing around on Digg yesterday I began to notice a lot of stories in the upcoming section that were either from the BNP website, or were from blogs sympathetic to their cause.
For the uninitiated Digg is a social news site where people share interesting stories by submitting links and voting for stories that they find interesting. Digg has the potential to send huge amounts of traffic to links that prove popular, raising their profile considerably. For this reason many site owners try to ‘game’ Digg in order to increase the level of traffic to their websites.
The BNP (The British National Party) for those people unacquainted with their politics is a “far-right whites only political party based in the UK. (Paraphrased from Wikipedia)
While I don’t want to get into a political debate regarding political views, a study of the submissions being made to Digg read as a good study on how NOT to do social media.
After a little digging (no pun intended) it became clear that there has been a concerted effort to submit as many pages from the bnp.org.uk website as possible with little regard to their quality, topic or relevance. Some submissions for example are simply candidate profile pages or navigational pages with very little content. Submitting poor quality pages such as these are a sure sign ofÂ some form of suspicious voting activity.
The Digg search function makes it easy to isolate all articles being submitted from a specific domain – all submissions from bnp.org.uk can be viewed here.
Using date filtering it’s also possible to view when the articles are being submitted – over the past 12 months there have been an average of 212 submissions each month. Compare this to The Conservative Party with has 32 submissions from their website, and the Labour Party website which totals just 7 submissions during this entire 12 month period, the number of submissions is far above what you would expect from a political party. In fact, even The Sun, the UK’s highest circulation national newspaper has only 1000 more submissions over the time period.
Reading through some of the comments on the stories I found some postings by a couple of regular Digg users that indicate that I’m certainly not the first person to notice this unusual activity.
For anybody who doesn’t know, the BNP has recently made a big push into Digg and other social media sites, enlisting members to vote up their press releases on a daily basis.
Doing a search of BNP submissions I found the following comment:
“Operation BNP Outreach is proving to be a huge success – keep up the good work, comrades.
By 6 June, with lots more hardwork and a fair wind, we should have our first MEP!
VOTE BNP – you know it makes sense!”
This ‘Operation outreach’ seems to be what is causing the trouble.
Poor Submission Selection
This first lesson to learn is that topic is everything. Submitting poor quality stories will not get your submission onto the front page of the site. Of the 3036 submissions just 5 have received more than 100 votes. Compare this number to popular front pages submissions which frequently run into thousands of votes.
In all probability the BNP submissions will have minimal impact at Digg as on the whole users of the site tend to be at the opposite end of the political scale. During the US elections the user base was well known for ‘Digging up’ positive Obama submissions, with one entitled “Digg this if you voted for Obama” receiving a huge 38,443 votes. Submitting controversial far-right political material is unlikely to generate success as the majority user base will ‘bury’ articles far before they come close to reaching the front page.
The submission and voting tactics that are being used also arouse suspicion, with the same users submitting content from the site over and over again and voting on each other’s submissions – not always suspicious activity on its own, but when couple this is a distinct lack of submission and voting activity on other domains it begins to look more and more like a deliberate strategy to promote content from a specific domain – which incidentally is against the Digg terms of service.
What Can You Learn?
As a business ownerÂ social media is a powerful medium if used correctly.
- Create great content, give knowledge and expertise away for free. In social terms, content really is king.
- Make sure you choose the right audience. Write for your users and submit to sites that are consistent with these topics and demographics.
- Submissions from your readers are more powerful, getting your network of staff to submit everything on your site is easily noticed.
- Interact, get involved with real users of social sites. Network and communicate, you will find that relationships are what breeds social success.
- Don’t be tempted to cheat or get involved in schemes to promote your own stories. This kind of activity is almost always spotted.
Twitter is very much the flavour of the month at the moment, you don’t seem to be able to turn on the TV or read the papers without it popping up in some way.
Now businesses are being told time and time again that they should be using it, but how can you as a business owner use it to promote your business in a positive light?
What is Twitter?
The basic idea is that users have 140 characters to post their message, and then this message (a tweet) appears to their ‘followers’. When you choose to ‘follow’ people you see their tweets. Conversely when they ‘follow’ you they see your tweets.
Twitter is simply what you make it to be. You choose who you follow, and therefore the kind of updates that you see. For example, if you choose to follow the key movers and shakers in your industry, then you’ll not only keep abreast of the latest industry news, but the chances are you’ll also get to hear about it before anyone else. Not only that, but you’ll also have a direct communications channel with industry figures such as publishers, PRs, bloggers competitors and consumers.
Will it work for me?
Maybe, maybe not. If your customer demographic is 16-40, tech aware and users of social media, then getting a presence on Twitter should be a very high priority. Even if your demographic just targets the 16-40 year old age range then you would still be surprised at the number of your customers and potential customers that are already using the service.
- Twitters largest age group is 35-44 years of age accounting for 25.9% of all users
- 63% of users are male
- UK Twitter traffic has trebled in 2009
- There are an estimated 8 million Twitter users
- 53% Earn over Â£40,000 p/a
- 63% Have at attained a college education or higher
- Sign up for an account. You’ll certainly want to register your company name, maybe even individual accounts for key staff within your company. The main thing to consider here is how much time people can spare. It’s probably better to have several people using a single active account than a few seldom used accounts.
- Make sure you add a picture to your account. A clear logo or company name is a must. If you’re registering individual people then a clear face picture.
- Add your bio – a clear concise introduction of who you are and what you do.
- Follow people interested in your company and your industry. This may include customers, potential customers, competitors or suppliers.
- Start to interact. This isn’t a forum for you to post what you’re up to every moment of the day. Ask questions, answer other people’s questions, give opinions, offer tips and advice and post useful links and information. The more useful your Twitter stream, the more followers you are likely to attract and retain. Simply spamming your products and services is likely to lose you all of your followers. Don’t be afraid to put a human face on things and use some personality. People are there to talk and listen to you, notÂ to hear a brand message.
- Above all, be sure to have a clear strategy and goals as to what you want your Twitter account to achieve, who your messages to be aimed at, and how you want to be viewed by your followers.
- While I don’t want to spend too long on the basic account functions, there are several Twitter guides aimed at beginners, have a read of some of these to get a taste of how the real basics work.Â Some of the best onesÂ can be found here, here and here.
How To Choose Who To Follow
Choosing who you follow is one of the most important steps that you’ll take. These are the people whose updates you’ll be seeing, the people that may choose to follow you back, and the people who you’ll be forming relationships with.
How To Get People To Follow You
- Follow people relevant to you, many people follow people back if they are tweeting about similar topics.
- Leverage non-twitter properties, promote your Twitter account on your blog, emails and business cards.
- Twitter isn’t a one way conversation, talk to people, and not just to those that are already following you.
- Make sure you’re following key people in your industry, this is where Twitter ‘communities’ are formed and you need to make sure you’re part of it.
- Be an expert – be free and easy with advice, tips and answers.Â Being anÂ expert on a topicÂ isn’t enough,Â you also need to look like one.
- ALWAYS make sure your profile is complete with a picture and bio, and preferably have more than a handful of tweets to your name. With an empty profile it’s difficult for people to gauge who you are and therefore hard to make a decision to follow you.
- Post interesting material – posting great links and info is the best way to build a reputation as someone who needs to be followed rather than be ignored. Make sure it’s not just links to your own site. Make sure you subscribe to the RSS feeds ofÂ key industry blogs and news sites. These are a great source of interesting industry links that will provide a great source of message ideas.
- Organise contests, giveaways and give discount codes, reward those that do follow you.
Ideas On How To Use Twitter For Your Business
- Getting feedback – Twitter is a great way to get free and impartial advice on product and service decisions.
- Making connections – Bloggers, publishers, journalists and PRs are amongst the heaviest adopters of social media, and a large percentage of Twitter users fall into this category. If you want to make contact with the influencers in your industry, this is probably the best place to do it.
- Monitoring Conversation And Opinion – Twitter is a great way to monitor what is being said about your company, products and your industry. Use Twitter search to setup some search queries, subscribe to the RSS feed and receive email updates every time you’re mentioned on Twitter. Then follow those talking about you, respond and listen to what they have to say.
- Fast access to information – Twitter is a massive source of information and opinion. If you’re following the right people then you’ll get access to news and industry gossip far before its published on any official channels.
- Customer Service – Many companies are now using Twitter as an informal customer service channel, offering product information, answering questions quickly and fielding queries and feedback.
- Brand And Personalise Your Company – Not just branding your company and yourself as experts, but also use it as a chance to show off the real people behind the brand.
- Promoting items of interest – Use Twitter to publicise items of interest on your own website. Be careful here though, there is a fine line between drawing peoples attention to interesting posts and spamming them, so be careful what you post and how often.
- Giveaways and discounts – Reward your followers by offering giveaways, discounts and competitions. As well as increasing interaction and creating a buzz this will help follower retention and acquisition.
- Advertise vacancies and recruit staff – Many companies are turning to Twitter as a way to recruit staff. As well as being instant and free, you can guarantee that any respondents will already be interested in your company.
There are a wide range of companies already using Twitter, with a diverse number of aims, some are unsurprisingly better than others.
Businesses That ‘Get It’
- Zappos – While several members of the Zappos staff have Twitter accounts, the main company account is run by the company CEO. As well as covering the daily goings on at the company, the account is also used for obtaining feedback on website functionality and conducting giveaways. Approaching half a million followers this has to count as one of social medias most successful business users.
- JetBlue – Use the service to monitor people talking about the airline. Frequently responding to people, engaging in conversation, dealing with complaints and resolving issues in a organised and professional manner.
- WineEnthusiast – It’s not just big multi-nationals that can benefit. There are many wine bloggers, publishers, journalists and producers already using Twitter. The Wine Enthusiast website has connected with this group of influencers and posts relevant links for them and builds relationships with them.
- Whole Foods Market - Use Twitter as a way of connecting with their customers. They ask questions, engage in conversation and recommended resources and their podcasts.
In a hat-tip to HR Block, they explain in this interview how they use social media effectively for their company.
Business That Don’t
- Zenergy Internet Marketing - Directly offering (spamming) your services to other users is bad enough, but to do it without checking who they are, andÂ as aÂ consequenceÂ offering them to your competitors is just plain dumb. Pimping your services in this way is the equivilent to going up to people at a party and asking if they want to buy from you, without any form of introduction. You wouldn’t do it offline, so don’t do it online.
- Skittles – Skittles though it would be smart to publish every tweet that mentioned Skittles on it’s homepage. Of course as soon as this was picked-up upon many people started posting less than flattering comments about the product.
- Ryanir – After freely admitting that they have no interest in engaging in social media and calling bloggers ‘idiots’ it was a surprise to see a Ryanair account appear on Twitter. In what looks like a failure to establish a presence on the service, the door was left open to imposters to create accounts and pose as the company themselves. Attempts to contact Ryanair and to clarify the situation have failed.
Twitter Tools For Business
There areÂ many freeÂ tools that help to make running a Twitter account far easierÂ for a business. A short list of my favourite ones include.
- Tweetdeck – This time saving desktop application allows you to save time, organise and group your messages,Â send pictures, create custom searchesÂ and ensures you don’t miss anything important.
- Monitter – This is great for tracking products, company or brand mentions. Input your keywords and let Monittor do the rest.
- PollDaddy – Allows you to create polls for your followers. Useful for asking questions and getting feedback.
- TweetLater – A useful tool that will let you schedule your tweets and it will post them automatically.
- SplitTweet – This is a must if you’re monitoring several Twitter accounts. It allows you to follow and reply to tweets quickly and easily.
I am a regular user of Twitter and can be followed here!
February 25th, 2009.
A throwaway comment on a blog by a Ryanair staff member has led to an online storm that now threatens to spill over into the national press and potentially harm the already tarnished reputation of Ryanair even further.
It all started when a Dublin based web designer Jason Roe posted on his blog that he had found a potential bug on the Ryanair website which changed the displayed price of a ticket to â‚¬0.00 when he amended his flight times.
At this stage Ryanair had three options of how to deal with this,
- Post on Jasons blog thanking him for notifying them of the error, explaining the steps that they had taken to rectify the problem. Possibly even offering him a discount for bringing this to their attention may have turned this into a positive piece of PR.
- Fix the error and do nothing, solves the issue but not much else. The incident gets little attention and goes away.
- Post on Jasons blog anonymously insulting him and his website.
In the event they opted to go for #3.
youâ€™re an idiot and a liar!! fact is!
youâ€™ve opened one session then another and requested a page meant for a different session, you are so stupid you dont even know how you did it! you dont get a free flight, there is no dynamic data to render which is prob why you got 0.00. what self respecting developer uses a crappy CMS such as word press anyway AND puts theyâ€™re mobile ph number online, i suppose even a prank call is better than nothing on a lonely sat evening!!
Although this was done anonymously, the Ryanair staff member was easily identified through his IP address. At this point having their staff members abusing people online becomes far more of a news story than a bug on their website ever was, and starts to get coverage on the major social news sites popular with bloggers like Digg, Reddit and Twitter.
Although Ryanair are starting to look bad for not listening to their customers, an apology and explanation for the comments would probably have sufficed and the story would have died before it gained any more momentum.
Unbelievably Ryanair then released an official statement further insulting Jason and bloggers everywhere.
“Ryanair can confirm that a Ryanair staff member did engage in a blog discussion. It is Ryanair policy not to waste time and energy in corresponding with idiot bloggers and Ryanair can confirm that it won’t be happening again.
“Lunatic bloggers can have the blog sphere all to themselves as our people are far too busy driving down the cost of air travel”.
This is now becoming a major story threatening to blow up in the faces of Ryanairs communications department. As well as national press coverage of the story this morning in The Times and The Telegraph people are now threatening boycotts of the airline over their treatment of customers, dragging up old grievances, and has sparked a raft of blog comments and even protest sites.
What Can We Learn From This?
- It just goes to show how failing to deal with, or worse, dealing badly with negative online reputation can blow up in your face.
- It shows how closely online and offline PR strategies are linked and should be treated as such.
- The importance of having an online strategy that ALL staff are aware of and adhere to.
- The power of an apology – it can turn negative PR into positive very quickly.
Is This Part Of A Wider Failing At Ryanair?
Managing the reputation of a budget airline such as Ryanair can never be an easy task at the best of times. Uphappy customers and poor press all take their toll. However, performing a quick audit of their online reputation throws up several areas for urgent attention and improvement.
Their search results, that threaten to take a battering after the latest round of blog posts and national media attention are already suffering. I have highlighted their own properties and positive results in green and negative results in red.
Worryingly for Ryanair, not only are they suffering from negative press in their search results, but there are also competitors and affiliate websites that are potentially stealing business from them, both in the natural results and though pay-per-click adverts.
Failure to respond to this is undoubtedly costing them business and keeps other Ryanair properties such as their hotels, magazine and insurance websites off of the first page. The PPC competition needs to be addressed though a campaign of their own.
In terms of their reputation on social media they fare even worse than in the search results. Searching Technorati for blog posts about them brings back an overwhelmingly negative sentiment, the same is replicated on Twitter, though Digg is more mixed however Michael O’Leary is named among the worst corporate leaders of 2006. Lots of negative sentiment to Ryanair in the comments though.
5 Steps For Ryanair To Take To Fix Their Online Reputation
- Address the search results problems using SEO to boost their own properties onto the first page while pushing down negative results.
- Use press releases and rich media to take ownership of Google news, video and image search results.
- Use a PPC campaign to outbid competitors bidding on their own brand names.
- Instigate a blogger outreach programme to listen to and address peoples public concerns – turning negative PR into positive.
- Create a social aspect to their own website, bringing complaints and concerns in-house so they can be dealt with more quickly and effectively – firefighting negative PR and limiting it’s impact.
Having just got back from SMX London I thought that rather than be one of 50 recap blog posts I thought I would try to do something a little different.
Sitting though about 15 hours of presentations and Q&A over the past couple of days was no mean feat. I’ve got a lot of sympathy for people with a short attention span!
Taking this sentiment on board I have put together a list of the best hints, tips, tools and strategies from the past couple of days, not just from the speakers themselves, but also picked up from around the conference halls and bars.
- Download the Microsoft AdCenter Excel plugin for keyword research. It’s incredibly versatile, users can easily manipulate long keyword lists and data. It even goes as far as adding extra data sets into the mix by offering historical data and demographic breakdowns. Unfortunately, since the is currently still in beta UK specific data hasn’t yet been made available.
- In ushering in a new era of transparency MSN is giving users an unprecedented amount of access to actionable data though the impressive AdCenter labs, some of the best tools include,
- Detecting commercial intention based on a URL or keyword phrase.
- Keyword group detection tool for detecting related keywords.
- Search funnels, for visualising search sequences and search funnels.
- Ad text writer, for the lazy PPC marketer! Enter a page URL and it will spit out a list of ad text.
- MSNs webmaster centre is now displaying lists of pages your pages that are penalised, contain malware or link to pages that contain malware.
- â€œMore than 60% of companies are planning to increase their PPC or SEO budgets in 2009â€³ Linus Gregoriadis. Recession? What recession?
- Keyword phrase composition – consider all of the elements that may make up your users potential keyword phrases.
For example – Use (For school) + Action (Buy) + Price (Cheap) + Attribute (Black) + Brand (Sony) + Location (UK) + Quality (New) + Your Keyword.
Consider the alternatives for each of these and build your keyword lists accordingly.
- There is a real lack of awareness of new UK laws (enforced by Trading Standards and The Office Of Fair Trading) that now make it illegal to offer fake editorial content, without first making this fact clear to the reader. This will also affect fake internet reviews, promotional blog posts and comments that don’t offer disclosure of payment. – Judith Lewis
- Although there is/was some obvious disagreement, the consensus is that owning the local TLD is by far the easiest way of of ensuring rankings in the correct local search engines. Other factors include local hosting, links, translation and address data in both the WhoIs and on the pages themselves.
- The Redfly Google Global Firefox extension is perfect for searching local versions of Google quickly.
- Linkbait – It is now vital to keep it on topic/niche. Wandering off topic may make things easier, but it’s probably tempting fate. Jane @ SEOMoz
- Facebook fan pages are live, indexed and the links are non-nofollow.
- The Forrester Groundwell tool is great for understanding the likely social media engagement level of your target market demographic.
- Social media campaigns must should be carefully planned – be sure that you know who your audience are, which social media channels they’re likely to use, the creative message that you want to get across and your delivery strategy – Ciaran Norris
- Vanessa Fox – Duplicate content across local TLD properties “should” be properly dealt with by Google, the correct verion “should” be delivered in the equivalent local version of Google. – Notice emphasis Again, I would say to be sure to have key content rewritten.
- Use psychological hooks in your linkbait. Take your core niche and add in a social media angle – environment, politcal, geeky etc. Be aware of the linking demographic, they’re typically male, intelligent and tech savvy. Linkbait isn’t linkbait if it doesn’t elicit links! – Lyndon Antcliff, Cornwall SEO
- Use search operators to find expired pages such as keyword+”this page is no longer available” either, contact the page owners for them to add a link to content on your site, or, contact the sites linking to the expired page asking them to link to your content instead. Tom @ Distilled
- Keep an eye on competitor business closures or bankruptcy, this gives an opportunity to either buy they domain, or contact sites linking to them to link to your site instead. Wiep Knoll
- Use forums and similar Web 1.0 communities for user generated linkbait
- Always try to use your keywords in the article title of linkbait pieces – it really helps getting your keyword phrases in links.
- Try launching linkbait on forums before onto social sites. In this way you can test it’s effectiveness, get feedback, and frequently pickup better quality content.
- Avoid foreign links from foreign sites, in large quantities these can be an obvious flag for closer inspection. Jay @ LinkFish Media
- Some “killer” tools worth taking a look at – Linkscape, Majestic SEO, TubeMogul, Optilink
- Buying websites for SEO can provide a competitive advantage in terms of links, or 301 redirecting the site to pass domain trust/authority and the backlink profile. Use these tactics sparingly though, too many sites being redirected can lead to a search engine penalty. Concentrate on buying traffic and relevance over PR and backlinks.
- Web 2.0 linkbuilding! We’re moving away from Web 1.0 methods like exchanges, link pages, paid links and comment spam, and moving towards internal link optimisation, online PR syndication, targeted PR submissions, guest writing, linkbaiting and social media.
- When buying domains change ownership indicators slowly, things like Whois data, hosting, design and content should be left as long as possible and changes staggered, Google will zero any link and age benefits if there is an obvious change in ownership. DaveN
- Finding domains for sale – Google searches, forums, DMOZ listings etc Richard Kershaw
Following on from my previous post about the benefits of corporate blogging I decided to take a look at how companies both in the UK and overseas were choosing to engage their online audiences, and to what extent they were utilising the blogosphere in order to fulfil those needs.
Using the Times Top 100 Companies To Work For list in order to gain a useful cross section of company types, sizes and industries. It soon emerged that corporate blogging seems to be somewhat of a alien concept to the majority of UK business. In fact, of the 100 companies that were surveyed only two (kudos to Rackspace and Pannone) had an official active blog that was available from their corporate website.
So with a rather pathetic 2% of UK companies actively blogging can this be viewed as a failure of their online communications strategies? Possibly not. A saving grace was the number of companies (76%) that did make available a mixture of company and industry news, articles, opinion, comment, press releases and whitepapers. UK companies obviously understand the importance of making useful information available, however making the leap from static news pages to and to a more interactive blog is currently too much of a challenge.
A number of factors could be responsible, perhaps there is a lack of understanding of the benefits and opportunity – a failure of their media agencies to make these clear. Often companies don’t feel they can commit the resources to keeping the site updated or are worried about company perception in what is usually an open and conversational media. Added to all of this there is the intrinsic fear of having people being able to comment and voice opinion on their blog posts on their corporate website.
Corporate blogs have become far more commonplace over the past few years as companies begin to realise their importance in the marketing mix and how valuable they can be as a communications channel. Some of my favourite business efforts include,
Kodak – I love this effort as it doesn’t focus on cameras, but what it’s target audience is interested in, the photography.
Innocent Drinks – Kind of wacky and crazy, just the kind of thing you would expect from the company really! It does a good job of keeping things interesting and engaging the audience.
Southwest Airlines – A really nice showcase for the company, great design, interesting content and does a good job of passing company news while keeping things light-hearted.
ASOS – A good example of what can be done with an ecommerce site. It does a good job of focusing on products, but also scatters in industry news.
BBC – Obviously the huge manpower at their disposal and being able to tap some the finest journalistic minds gives the BBC an unfair advantage, but their blog network is among one of the best online.
Marriott – A self-confessed technophobe Bill Marriott proves that it’s never too late to start blogging. Not only that but the resulting blog is an extremely useful communications channel.
Waitrose – A great example of what can be achieved when a not so traditional web company takes blogging seriously.
I deliberately left out examples of tech and web based companies to prove that it can be done well for traditionally non-web based companies.
Okay, so what is the point?
Audience engagement – Blogs are a great way of engaging your audience with topics that you wouldn’t normally cover on the main section of your site. You can keep company news and conversation clearly defined from the ‘corporate’ sections of the site while at the same time offering your audience more in-depth information should it be required.
Information gathering – Blogs can be used to gather opinions, get product feedback, collect email addresses and collect RSS feed subscribers. Over time a growing audience is a valuable commodity in itself.
Communications channel – Corporate blogs have been used as an instant communications channel between retailer and customer. Product information, manuals, corrections, notifications and recalls can be made available instantly.
Content creation – An increased number of pages of your site will generally increase the amount of content leads to an increase in the number of search engine visitors. With clearly defined calls to action this should lead to an increase in sales.
Social media – Blog are a great way of opening up the marketing power of social media sites. Visitors can easily submit posts to sites like Digg and Stumbleupon, this directly leads to an increased number of visitors, links and the visibility of your site as a whole. Active blogs generally encourage more incoming links from other sites, so can be a great way of supplementing a link building strategy.
Things to remember….
- Get started using a simple blogging script like WordPress. It’s pretty much the industry standard, it’s easy to use, and best of all it’s free.
- Keep the blog on your commercial domain. You’ll get little benefit from using a hosted blog or a seperate domain altogether. The idea is to get additional visitors to your commercial site. blog.company.com or company.com/blog is ideal.
- Define a writing policy. Be clear who your audience is and what will interest them. Also be clear on exactly how much information you’re going to make public.
- The writing style is important. Traditionally visitors expect a less corporate and more conversational writing style. The use of humour can work well. Ideally your posts should be short and punchy.
- Avoid over promotion. It’s fine to link to your products and services from within your posts, but visitors won’t come just to read a rehashed product catalogue.
- Keep things fresh. Your blog should be regularly updated, sharing writing amongst your staff is the ideal solution, outsourcing the writing is another, though is no substitute for your staff knowledge and expertise, staff participation should be encouraged.
- What do I write? Traditional topic areas are company news, staff news, product news, industry discussion and thoughts, how to’s and resource lists. Ideally the more diverse the topic areas, the easier you’ll find things to write about and the bigger the potential audience.