Thursday, December 20, 2012

Your Online Goals for 2013

A new year gives many of us a fresh chance to look at things. A chance to look at what we might be doing differently over the next year. In the online context this is particularly important as the web can change so much in 12 months. There are always so many new ways every year to use the web to your advantage.

So where should we start? Yes there is a lot out there that is new but for small businesses in particular you'll want to be focusing your efforts on a few key areas. The good news is that you should have heard of these areas to focus on. There is a lot of new software out there but there is no need to start the year by going out and puzzling your way through a series of increasingly more esoteric social media platforms.

In fact the starting point is usually your website. Even now in the age of social media the website remains the bedrock of your online presence. If someone hears about you and wants to know more, then chances are your website will be their first port of call. The start of a new year is a great time to make sure that your website is fully up to day and to give it a bit of a general review. Check that all of your details are correct and update any staff changes or other basic information. Then you might want to make sure that you still have the right keywords in your pages. Can Google find you easily? Do you need to do some SEO (Search Engine Optimisation) to ensure that you are being found? Finally you'll want to have a look at the overall design of the site. This is the part that will change the least; all you need to be doing is checking that your design is still relatively fresh. You certainly don't need to be changing this every year but the example below really shows how even cutting edge website design will eventually need replacing.

Does your site look like this?
Facebook is another area we recommend having a look at. This is a platform that becoming increasingly important and I see as having too parts to it. The first part can in some circumstances take over some of the roles of a traditional web page. A business Facebook page should have on it your location and contact details so that anyone searching on Facebook can easily find you. It is also a chance to take people browsing Facebook back to your main website. The second part revolves around engagement. This is simply putting stuff on the page. It doesn't need to be fancy it just has to be there. If you put links to your Facebook page on your website or email marketing you can build a community. Ten minutes each day or even just each week gives you a chance to interact with this community and show off the personality of your organisation. Simple things like photos of an office lunch can show a different side to your clients or customers and help to build a stronger relationship between you. Have a look at our page here.

Our Pinterest Page

Perhaps other social media options interest you? Twitter is a great way to get you message out there. One retweet can mean you'll reach tens of thousands of people. Pinterest is a fantastic way to post images of product you are selling. The images will always link back to their original location no matter how many times they are shared or repinned so for anyone with an online store it can be a golden opportunity to gain exposure in new areas.

Follow us on Twitter here

Email Marketing is one of the most effective tools an organisation can use to keep connected with their client base and it offers one of the highest returns on investment of any marketing tool. A well designed campaign can be prepared in a few hours or even less than one hour for a shorter "announcement" style message. The problem is that it can be so easy to put off sending out a monthly announcement and it eventually can get to the point where it falls off your radar altogether. So the new year is a great time to be looking into bringing back your old campaigns or starting from scratch if you've never used it before. A new email template and a schedule of sending can be all you need to keep yourself sending them out each month. We've found that the best way to make sure that campaigns go out on time is to have two people that share the responsibility for creating and sending. The two of you can remind each other and having someone else working on part of the campaign makes the job feel a lot less daunting.

If you take these tips to heart you can really make the web work for you in 2013. The key in all of them is keeping things current and maintaining contact with your client base. You name will be fresh in people's minds and your branding will become familiar to them. You don't need to be on every new platform that comes out to get the most out of the web. You just need to make sure that those platforms that you do use are utilised to the best of your ability.

Tuesday, December 04, 2012

My personal favourites of 2012.

The web changes every year, growing constantly and opening up new ways to share. There have been so many new innovations this year on the web. Here are just a few of the things that have come over my horizon this year and that I consider to be the best of the web in 2012.

Listening to music online has been getting progressively easier over the past few years and Spotify has taken the experience to the next step. You get a six month free trial period that includes radio style advertisements or you can pay a simple flat rate fee and you can listen to as much music as you want ad free. As permanent connections to the internet have become more and more pervasive this sort of service has become much more practical, especially with the explosive growth of smartphones. To me, Spotify represents the movement of data away from our personal devices and into the cloud. It is the mainstream of society finally taking advantage of some of the larger potential of the web.

You cant have the internet without pictures of cats apparently so I'd better add one of those to the list as well. Because not everything has to be useful, sometimes it's just cool.

Pinterest was launched a couple of years ago but it has really exploded over the last twelve months. A simple way for users to share pictures they've seen online it has become one of the fastest growing sites in history. People are sharing everything from travel dreams to favourite recipes.This is a great site to browse if you're looking for inspiration and it is a great way to organise images online. See something you like? Just pin it and you can come back and have a look again later. And because it always maintains a link back to the original source it has huge potential for selling online. Any image someone likes can be shared virally and it will always link back to the shop it was originally pinned from. If that isn't exciting for anyone selling online I don't know what is.

This has got to be up there as one of the biggest things to hit the web in 2012. The most popular video on YouTube of all time it is of course Psy's K-Pop sensation, Gangnam style. Where else but on the web would a Korean pop song have the chance to spread across the world. It is so easy to share anything and everything with friends online these days that even something as strange (and amazing) as Gangnam style can get to the point where is has been viewed nearly a BILLION times on YouTube. People of all ages will recognise that opening beat and Psy's dance moves are being used in clubs, at sports games and anywhere else this incredibly catchy song is being played.

Making this list has made me wonder about what the future has in store for us. What is being developed out there right now and what might the internet look like in a year's time. It's an exciting time to be online as social sharing makes it even easier for products and services to gain access to larger markets. It could be a cute picture of a kitten and a funny video that spreads like wildfire or it could be a new service offered online. You never know what's going to be next.