All posts in Social Media

Here at RumbleChat we unashamedly love a bit of #houseporn.  So when the first of our clan mentioned their visit to the fabulous state-of-the-art MADE.COM showroom in Soho, the rest of us were compelled to follow, lemming-like, to gaze in wonder at this experiential interiors delight.

made_yellow_bright

An innovative take on the new clicks and mortar approach to retail, MADE.COM HQ is situated at 100 Charring Cross Road, directly opposite that bastion of old-school retail, Foyles bookshop. Two polar opposites of retail experience, within spitting distance.

MADE.COM is one of my favourite homeware brands.  Its ‘cut-out-the-middleman’ ethos enables it to deliver quality, design-lead furniture at a fraction of the usual high street price, which came in mighty handy when undertaking my house renovation in 2011.

MADE.COM have streamlined furniture design and revolutionised the homeware business model. In 2014 they were the second fastest growing tech company in the UK.  They use crowd-sourced design, whereby only pieces with the highest consumer votes make it to production to ensure that new collections remain fresh and appealing.

The only downside to the early-days business model was the fact that you had to buy products unseen. MADE.COM addressed this issue in 2012 with the opening of a (lovely, but bog-standard) Notting Hill showroom. Fast forwards to January 2015 and they opened their flagship showroom, a physical/digital hybrid perfectly aligned to the needs of the voyeuristic clicks and mortar consumer.

The vast expanse is divided into lifelike ‘room’ settings.  There is a kids’ area, proudly displaying items from the new children’s range, including the scandi-style Linus bunk bed which was immediately added to my lengthy wish-list.

made_side_view

The backdrop to these ‘real’ room settings is a rotating digital catalogue of MADE.COM furniture items projected onto adjacent walls.  It’s a simple yet innovative concept that means that MADE.COM can change the display without incurring the cost or hassle of shipping in new furniture. The images may be a wee bit flat (there’s definitely no 3D augmented reality going on here), but it still works really well.

made.com_jonah_projection

One entire wall is made up of a gallery of product postcards, where you can take away handy reminders of products that have caught your eye. Next to this sea of postcards sits a bank of android tablets, with a fabulously explicit call to action that again seamlessly connects physical with digital.

made_postcard_gallery3

By submitting your email address (mandatory for signing into the devices) the retailer can track your footfall and interactions as you traverse the showroom…genius! Meanwhile a bank of Apple Macs create an internet café vibe at the back of the store, enabling you to browse and order in a home-from-home fashion while notices on walls and tables remind you to share products you like on social media.
made_side_view

None of this is rocket science, but the combined effect of all these simple touches is to create a unique, harmonious fusion of innovation and tradition. MADE.COM has cleverly created the perfect amalgam of physical and digital to satisfy the wants and needs of the modern shopper. We’re suitably impressed.

There is no doubt that social media lends itself to negative behaviour. The inadvertent anonymity it offers makes it ripe for abuse from spineless, cowardly bullies.  Its advent represented a revolution for stalkers. Imagine how they must have rejoiced when they realised they could now invade their prey’s personal space from the comfort of their own (smelly, dark, closed-curtained?) bedrooms.

Social media doesn’t just aid people with existing behavioural problems.  It unleashed a whole new wave of disciples. I mean, it’s fairly normal these days to keep tabs on your ex via Facebook, but the news is full of cases where dumpees have taken revenge on dumpers via social media, whether it be posting illicit photos or other, equally cringe-worthy actions of public shaming.

Social media represents the evolution of bullying – providing a platform for constant psychological torture and creating a cyber-hell that transcends into real life. From the vicious trolling on Twitter, to the teens coerced into suicide via Facebook and Ask.FM, to ‘catfishing’ (? fodder for another blog methinks!), we are relentlessly bombarded by accounts of hideous (in)human behaviour facilitated by social media.

There is no doubt that, in the wrong hands, social media is a powerful force of evil, BUT(and you’ll be delighted to hear it’s a great big, shiny, BUT) it has also shown itself to be an equally powerful force for good.

For a recent example of this, just google ‘Dancing Man’. In a nutshell, hideous fat-shaming bullies posted photos of a man dancing on his own to 4chan (an anonymous bulletin board) with the caption: “Spotted this specimen trying to dance the other week. He stopped when he saw us laughing.”

DANCING-MAN

As you can see, in the first photo, the man is dancing happily, while in the second he looks downtrodden and embarrassed. So far, so despicable, and an example of social media at its worst. BUT (it’s another shiny one!), rather than join the bullies in their persecution of an innocent man, most people have felt sorry for him.  A group of female dancers, lead by Cassandra Fairbanks, started an online campaign to find him. Their aim? To fly him out to LA to dance with them, thereby sticking two fingers up to bullies everywhere.

The online search, spearheaded by the hashtag #FindDancingMan quickly went viral and after just 12 hours, the man got in touch with the following tweet:

dancing_man_found

Now, he has been sent a VIP invite to dance party in LA with 2000 women and Moby and Pharrell DJing.

A similarly heart-warming tale is that of disabled pensioner, Alan Barnes.  The partially-sighted 67 year old was left with a broken collar bone after being mugged outside his home in Low Fell, Gateshead. The distressed pensioner was scared about staying in his home because he no longer felt safe there.

After reading about his story, kind-hearted local beautician Katie Cutler set up a fundraising page to help Alan with the cost of moving to a new home. Katie had hoped to raise a few hundred pounds, but by the power of social media, her appeal went viral and thousands of pounds poured in from around the world. She ended up handing over a whopping £324k to the pensioner, whilst simultaneously restoring his faith in human kindness.

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On a smaller scale, a Brighton blogger and newly-single mum who tweeted about not being able to afford any toys for her 3 young daughters last Xmas, was staggered by the results. In her own words:

‘…strangers who had their own children and family to buy for, yet took the time, and budget to pick presents for my daughters (and me!), wrapped and sent in time for Christmas. I don’t think a more generous thing will ever happen to me in my life and I am humbled by the milk of their kindness.’

Click here to read more of her story.

So, how’s that for some heart-warming examples of the kindness of strangers, expedited by social media? Sadly, there will always be wrong uns who choose to go over to the dark side, but let’s take heart in the fact that it’s not their stories that the global social media community chooses to celebrate  and share.

 

I love a bit of retailer innovation.  So imagine my delight when I nipped into town for a few (boring) essentials this morning, and found myself face-to-face (or should that be face-to-bonnet?) with the fabulous Bessie the Bus. For those of you unfamiliar with Bessie, she is Oasis’ new mobile shop. You can check out her story here.

Bessie is an old mobile library, refitted in a fab #fashpack style is currently on tour.  Her schedule is chocca – she’s visiting regional events, retail parks, and high streets where Oasis does not currently have a retail presence. What a brilliant concept – the store that comes to customers rather than waiting for customers to come to them.

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What makes Bessie even better is that fact that she’s not simply an Oasis groupie…or worse, a jumped-up-market-stall. She’s had a modern-retro makeover that accentuates her fun, quirky side. Her  bespoke interior includes a kitchen hob holding key accessories, a breakfast bar that doubles as a hanging display unit and a jewellery box that opens to print customer receipts She also has a fitting room and the best sales staff EVER (how much do they love their jobs?!).

Bessie has more than 250 stops planned in her 2015 tour…so it shouldn’t be long before she’s at a venue near you. You can even petition for her to visit your town via Twitter using #bessiethebus. Go Bessie!

hoverboard

I don’t know about you, but it’s taken me a while to find my 2015 stride.  I mean, it’s hard to believe that we’ve finally reached the year that Marty Fly visited in Back to the Future II. So it turns out that we don’t have flying cars, there isn’t a female US president and hoverboards are not the favoured transport of the younger generation.

The film did, however, accurately predict handheld tablets, 3D movies and video conferencing. In comparison to 1989, when it was made, the technologies of today are unrecognisable and far-fetched.   But as with everything, the progress has snuck up on us gradually. We don’t bat an eyelid at Google glasses and Skype is pretty run of the mill these days. It’s easy to dismiss how far we’ve come.  The advances in marketing since 1989 are even more radical. Our industry changes so rapidly and hindsight nearly always provides a glaring missed opportunity or ‘could have done better’ moment.

So, how to grab the marketing bull by the horns in 2015? My top tip would be to stop chasing marketing trends and take some time to design a strategically driven marketing mix for your business. It can include several compatible strategies and merge traditional and digital channels to produce the perfect brand-oriented marketing blend.

It may sound obvious, but successful content marketing is reliant on a content marketing strategy.  This strategy is essential. It guides your otherwise eclectic content marketing efforts and is the cornerstone to digital marketing success. Whereas content was undeniably king in 2014, in 2015 it will take on a more presidential role.  By which I mean it is pivotal to all your communications, not just an insubstantial figurehead. Make sure that you are investing in content creation and curation.  You can no longer afford to ‘wing it’, using an ad-hoc/when you’re not tied up with other things approach.

Let’s not forget that the bastion of content marketing is a customer-centric vision.  In 2015, our ongoing quest is to improve the customer experience.  Customers these days are incredibly aware of their worth, and empowered by the knowledge that a single complaint on social media can have a costly impact on a brand.

So, in a nutshell, the best way to apply this to your content marketing is:

  • Get personal – connect, engage and listen intently.
  • Customise – where possible make sure your content is always relevant to your target audience and tweaked for brand relevance.
  • Entertain – within reason, you can’t go wrong if you’re entertaining your customer.
  • Build brand ambassadors – they will be worth their weight in gold.

The other key aspect of marketing in 2015 is to ensure that you THINK MOBILE FIRST. Smartphones and tablets made up 60% of total digital media time spent in 2014 (up 50% from 2013). 2015 looks set to build on this, as analysts are predicting that by 2017, mobile will represent 91% of all internet use.

The key learning here is to keep mobile users at the forefront of your mind in terms of all website updates and marketing communications. If you ensure that you keep the customer front of mind in all your marketing activity you should avoid falling foul of 2015’s big bombshell…DIGITAL DISAPPOINTMENT. Digital natives are the most spoilt and demanding customers ever.  Find a way to make meeting their digital expectations the core of your business and you might just be onto a winner.

Bells and whistles are all well and good, but sometimes, when it comes to content, simplicity is still best.

It always comes back to your brand.  If you’ve got an edgy, hi-tech product aimed at the youth market, then by all means, knock yourself out with the all singing, all dancing (quite literally) video mash-ups.  In this crowded, competitive market, image is everything and your status on the Coolometer is what differentiates you. If however, yours is a more sedate, middle-of-the-road product; a staple, non-luxury item, then the Ronseal approach is often still the way to go.

I mean you wouldn’t expect Apple to take the same approach to content marketing as Tena Lady would you? The key is never to lose sight of your brand values.  They are what your customers have bought into in the first place and what you want their word of mouth recommendations to focus on. All of your content output needs to work hard at reflecting and reiterating these.

Keep a consistent voice, that reinforces your brand personality and talk to your audience(s) using the tone and channels that they like best. Don’t fall prey to what a colleague of mine used to refer to as the ‘my sixteen year old daughter says…’ phenomenon.  What he meant was the tendency of older, senior executives to pretend they’ve got their finger on the marketing pulse by latching onto observed teenage behaviours, regardless of whether they are brand relevant.

You can Instagram and Google+ away to your heart’s content, but if you’re trying to sell commemorative plates to the over-seventies, you are barking up the wrong tree.

Now, that’s not to say you shouldn’t try something new. Some behind-the-scenes SEO copywriting on your website, and a welcoming, insightful blog are just as relevant to the silver surfers as the Playstation generation. You just need to understand your audience and select your content armoury accordingly. Simples!

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Google has recently made some pretty significant changes to its algorithm – the system that it uses to order its search results.

Known as ‘Hummingbird’, this update is a game-changer for content marketers. Martin Harrison, co-founder of online copywriting service Copify discusses these changes and what you need to do in order to stay ahead of the curve.

 

A change in search behaviour

The way that people are using Google has changed dramatically over the past few years. Historically, most users have entered very generic terms, known as ‘keywords’ to find what they were looking for.

Today, however, users are increasingly entering very detailed and specific queries. For example, a year ago, someone looking for somewhere for an all-you-can eat Chinese restaurant in London might have searched for:

“Chinese restaurants in London”

Or maybe:

“All-you-can eat Chinese London”

Today, they might be much more specific

“Where are the best all-you-can-eat Chinese restaurants with good reviews in London?”

Answer questions

Hummingbird is about understanding user queries and searcher intent. Marketers will be rewarded for understanding the common search queries their customers might have about their products and services, and structuring content around these queries.

A really easy way to do this, for those with Google Analytics set up on their sites, is to search for all queries that have driven traffic with one or more of the following words:

 

  • Why
  • How
  • What

 

More diverse content

 The types of links that were easy to attain in order to propel your site to the top of Google no longer work, which means that marketers must now box clever in terms of the content they produce.

 Updating the company blog once a fortnight with some mundane news about your brand is not going to cut it any more. Those daring enough to be humorous or controversial will be rewarded with the all-important likes and shares that will lead not only to increased brand exposure, but also the type of links that will make a tangible difference to your sites position in the search results.

Invest in visually striking multimedia content that can be enjoyed on a variety of devices, including infographics and video.

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Blog

noun

  • a personal website or web page on which an individual records opinions, links to other sites, etc. on a regular basis.

verb (blogs, blogging, blogged)

  • add new material to or regularly update a blog:it’s about a week since I last blogged
    • ·   [with object] write about (an event, situation, topic, etc.) in a blog:he blogged the Democratic and Republican national conventions as an independent

 

To Blog or not to blog?  That is the question.  You think you should, but you’re not entirely sure why, or how to go about doing it successfully.  Sound familiar? Don’t worry, you’re not alone. Lots of our clients start off this way… and end up with fabulous, engaging blogs that deliver competitive advantage to their brands.

So for those of you who want to, but need a bit of guidance, here’s my quick and tasty recipe for a perfect blog (peppered with the obligatory food puns):

Key Ingredients:

Content is King. It goes without saying that great content is imperative. In fact, I’d go as far as to say. Good content is well researched, well written and pertinent to the target audience.  If you have something original at your fingertips then you’re at a distinct advantage, but if not, don’t fret.  Just make sure that your take on what may well be a tried and tested topic exudes brand personality and adopts a perspective that resonates with your target audience.

The Perfect Title. The title should seduce your reader but also aid your SEO and therefore, your audience’s ability to find you.  So whilst tongue-in-cheek, witty and hilarious titles are good in one sense (the reader seduction angle), unless you’re very clever, they might be counter-productive on the SEO front. If you can achieve both, that’s brilliant (and you can probably stop reading now as you’re clearly a blogger extraordinaire)

The Ronseal approach to an Introduction. I.e. It does exactly what it says on the tin. The internet reader is notoriously fickle, with an attention span only slightly longer than that of the proverbial goldfish.  Your clear, yet simultaneously compelling title therefore needs to be followed by a concise, revelatory introductory paragraph.

Make the Format Accessible. Meander-y, verbose streams of consciousness may have earned Virginia Woolf literary adulation, but it doesn’t cut the mustard  for the modern day blog. Language should be simple, easy-to-read and to the point.

Size isn’t Everything.  Or length I should say.  Between 500 and 800 words is perfect – long enough to concisely present your content, but not too waffle-y and snooze-inducing.

Invest in Aesthetic Appeal. It’s not shallow.  Looking nice is important…in blogging terms at least.  It’s an integral part of the user experience and another factor in the ‘you-versus-all- the- other -bloggers –out- there’ contest. Make your headers bold and enlarged, your key points stylistically pertinent and stay on-topic and on-brand. Add images to break up your text and illustrate your point.  You can even throw in a video or two to really spice things up.

Let Your Brand Personality Shine Through. Don’t lose sight of why you’re doing this.  Whilst your blog can (and should) be on a wide range of relevant topics that interest your target audience, remember your aim is to increase engagement with your brand.  You want to create a brand voice that people want to listen to and want to hear more from.

Little and Often. Once you’ve started blogging, you need to make sure you keep at it.  From an SEO perspective, the need for regular updates is obvious. From an engagement perspective it’s just as crucial to keep on keeping on. Once you’ve attracted people to your blog, you want to keep them coming back.  Regular updates are the best way of doing this.  I always find it disappointing when I check out a new website and their latest blog was months (or even years) ago.

Preparation time

With a bit of practice you should be able to knock up a simple, commentary-lead blog in an hour whilst a research-based blog might take you a morning.  Given the resultant increase in engagement levels you can surely spare the time?  If not, why not outsource it to professionals.  Our blog-writing service is extremely competitive, costing from just £25/blog.

Here’s one I prepared earlier…

Well, I didn’t actually prepare them myself, and there’s more than one, but I’m sure you get my drift.  Here are a few of my favourites to get your creative juices flowing:

http://www.theskintfoodie.com

http://www.cocoandme.com

http://eatlikeagirl.com

http://www.goop.com (controversial I know but I have to confess I do quite like it)

 

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The broad brush definition of Content Marketing is any marketing format that involves the creation and sharing of media and publishing content in order to acquire customers. So the formats that immediately spring to mind are blog posts, website updates and email newsletters, right?

In my opinion, the essence of content marketing is far broader than this.  It’s a strategy, not a tactic, and should actually encompass every single communication that your company utters online, including job adverts, one-to-one emails and absolutely anything you write on social media sites and forums.

Content marketing is one of the best ways of engaging with audiences and potential customers online. It is useful for improving search rankings, increasing brand engagement, loyalty and visibility and for facilitating social sharing and interaction. If you are a consumer-facing company, it is imperative that you  are actively embracing content marketing.

People in-the-know have even gone as far as to say that content marketing is the new SEO.  A big claim, but one that makes sense.   Content is the undisputed king in 2013. High quality content targets relevant keywords, boosts social sharing and increases the number of indexed pages on your website, all of which aid your search ranking climb.

Significantly, the focus for content marketing is not on selling, but rather on communicating with customers and prospects.  So it’s really all about improving your communication strategy and making sure you are communicating with your target audience on the right platforms, with relevant information, using a tone of voice that endears you to them.

What I’ve said so far obviously applies to any consumer facing company. But if you’re a food or lifestyle company you’ve got a distinct edge on the content marketing front and I’ll tell you for why (Gavin & Stacey repeats on Gold, anyone?).

Chances are your product is way more aesthetically pleasing than the majority out there.  People love to drool over images of food or beautiful interiors.  There’s a reason TV is flooded with food porn (Masterchef, The Great British Bake Off, Nigella) and house porn (Grand Designs, anything with Sarah Beeney).

They (those in-the-know bods again) say a picture speaks a thousand words. So you are at a distinct advantage in having access to delicious images that your audience will want to see.  Of course, you don’t want to be just firing incessant pictures of your brand at them, but having this content in your locker gives you a natural foundation for your content marketing efforts.

So what are you waiting for?  If you’re not quite sure where or how to start then either give us a call or pop back next week when my blog will give you a step-by-step guide to Content Marketing.

Back in the day, Word of Mouth Marketing was the rarely achieved panacea, the elusive holy grail of the broadcast marketer.

These days it’s become our bread and butter.  Word of Mouth Marketing (or WOMM for short) is the cornerstone of brand success in our digital age. And from the girded loins of WOMM has sprung the latest favoured child, Social Commerce.

With modern consumers imbibing WOMM as an essential part of their decision making processes,  Social Commerce has become the key to future success.

In 2010 Mark Zuckerberg said “If I had to guess, social commerce is next to blow up”.  He wasn’t wrong.  With 74% of consumers now relying on social networks to inform their purchasing decisions, no modern day brand can afford to ignore this latest concept.

Social commerce is defined as a subset of electronic commerce that involves using social media, online media that supports social interaction, and user contributions to assist in the online buying and selling of products and services. In a nutshell, selling within social networks.

Social Commerce allows brands to sell where consumers spend their time.  To capitalise on this you need to make sure you’re there, at the coal face, engaging with your consumers, gaining insight and generally being a likeable, trustworthy all-round good guy.

While Social Commerce is very much in its infancy, with big online brands such as Amazon, American Apparel and Cafepress still at the toe-dipping stage of engagement, it is undoubtedly the shape of things to come. So if you haven’t already, you need to start thinking about it.

How to prepare? In short you’ve got to have a brand that wins on social media – see my previous blog for details of how to do just this.

Now as a marketer, I’d never advise you to put all your eggs in one basket. An integrated strategy is always the way to go.  No one channel can ever deliver business success in isolation. And there’s always a place for the old-school skills. If you’ve got sufficient budget, clever advertising is still a great way to achieve brand awareness, and get you on the radar of your target audience. When it comes to the transactional crunch, though, it’s WOMM that increases your conversion rates and closes deals. And with Social Commerce enabling brands to hold transaction-inspiring conversations quite literally at the point of purchase, you’d be a fool to ignore it.

The high street is dead (boo), long live SC

Don’t judge a book by its cover.  Beauty is skin deep. It’s the personality that counts. All of these adages, with us since our formative years, are pertinent when developing a winning brand in this digital age.

Creating a successful online brand is not a challenge for the faint of heart.  It takes work, investment (of time and money) and a level of skill and understanding that does not come naturally to everyone.

For lots of small companies, social media has simply become another box to tick on the start-up checklist.  They set up profiles on Facebook and Twitter, build up a modest following, knock out a few tweets and link Facebook to Twitter, thereby killing two birds with one stone. Job done. Right?

In a word – NO.  A successful social media strategy will make your brand SOCIABLE, LIKEABLE and PROFITABLE, but you’ve got to put the effort in.  And you’ve got to have self-awareness, or at least awareness of how you are perceived by customers and prospects.

I always recall a meeting with a retailer who, during one of his many abrasive yet dull monologues informed me that he modelled his brand’s social media personality on his own – “clever, sociable and witty”. Our survey says eeeeh, uuuuh (Family Fortunes reference – I can’t quite figure out how to write it phonetically). His online persona did mirror his real-life personality, but needless to say it displayed none of those attributes.

Creating a great digital personality for your brand does not always come naturally. The days of loudly touting your wares via broadcast marketing techniques are well and truly over.  The modern way requires a customer-centric way of thinking and the ability to listen and change tack according to what you hear. Consider social media a virtual dinner party.  Your challenge is to be the most charming guest.

This is achieved by getting striking the right balance of, what I call (in a Miranda stylee), Campaign and Brand messages.  Spend 70% of your time on Brand messages – decide on key topics of interest for your target audience and use this as a basis for your curated content. DO NOT talk about your brand, but rather, flesh out its personality, bringing it to life and making it likeable.

Spend the remaining 30% of your time promoting Campaign messages ie, incentives, competitions, calls to actions etc. (basically anything with traditional marketing scope)

By maintaining this balance you will be the entertaining dinner party guest; the fascinating, witty person that everyone wants to sit next to, not the ‘let’s talk about me’ bore that everyone avoids. And if you’re struggling, why not call in the experts?