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Social Media and why you should care about it

Social Media and why you should care about it

2009 has seen the proliferation of a whole range of words and phrases that may have left many business owners scratching their heads. It's seems like it's no longer enough to surf, to click or to blog. We're now expected to Twitter, to LinkIn and to 'poke'.

All of these strange terms are generally thrown under the umbrella of “social media”, for which (as with most things in life) lots of people offer lots of different definitions. But one of our favourites comes from Andreas Kaplan of ESCP Europe, who says:

“Social media is a group of internet based applications that build on the ideological and  technological  foundations of web 2.0, and that allow the creation and exchange of user  generated content.”

For now lets ignore the “web 2.0” side of things (as that's another story) and concentrate on that last sentence as it mentions a key aspect when thinking about social media – user generated content. Consider the old days where one of your customers may have experienced a bad ice cream from their local parlour. They may have told a friend or two, who in turn may have told a couple of their friends – but on the whole the damage to the brand may have been fairly minimal.

But times have changed. That bad ice cream could now be blogged about on a web site for the world to see. Or through a social networking site such as Facebook, where with one status update all that user's friends and contacts would know all about the ice cream based trauma. And even worse, the sight of that ice cream could be vividly captured and shown to the world on photo or video sharing sites such as Flickr and Youtube.

In general these applications – and the use of them to spread 'word of mouth' – sums up social media nicely. It's the use of these modern techniques to share opinion, thought, comments and – this is where it can get interesting for businesses – recommendations, ratings and referrals. But why should you care? Because if you're not using these applications to talk to your customers, it's a fair bet they're already using them to talk about you.

Let's get away from our negative ice cream experience and instead look at the positive way that some of the most fundamental elements of social media can be used by businesses to communicate with customers and colleagues:

  • social networking sites such as Facebook. They might have a reputation for only being useful for keeping your grandmother up to date with your life (females aged 55+ is currently the biggest growth sector for Facebook usage) but Facebook now has over 300 million users and a business profile page can help some of them become “fans” of your organisation or your products. Nike currently has over 825,000 fans. Fans include links to your profile page as part of their profile, which can then spread to their friends, and their friends – you get the picture. For very little effort suddenly you've hit upon an effective 'viral' method of spreading awareness of what you're up to.
  • Twitter is a popular 'micro-blogging' service that essentially allows you to climb to the top of a big hill and yell things at those who have chosen to listen. Helped by celebrities such as Stephen Fry and Jonathan Ross, Twitter usage has risen dramatically this year and will continue next year as brands truly discover how they can use this tool effectively. At Focus New Media, we have just over 310 'followers' who always get our latest news and announcements – lucky things! And Twitter also includes useful built-in tools that help you identify when your organisation is being talked about and by whom, really valuable marketing information and helping you connect with customers directly.
  • founded in 2003, LinkedIn has become a leading site for online networking – acting much like a Facebook for businesses, but without the updates for grandma. LinkedIn now has over 53 million users in 200 countries and it can be used for connecting with past and present colleagues, posting projects and business opportunities, finding industry experts and according to some reports has become a crucial resource for HR departments, with 80% of US companies saying they use LinkedIn as part of their recruitment process.

That's just a very quick overview of some of the core blocks that make up this strange new world of social media. They form only a part of your organisation's digital strategy – but it's a crucial part at that, and in these times when online spend has now overtaken spend in traditional channels such as television, radio and print, it's important for you and your business to understand them and take advantage of the new opportunities they may bring.


Simon Newing

Created on Tuesday December 22 2009 04:59 PM

Tags: social-networking twitter

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BBC iPlayer stats

It's one of the most used applications on the web and a few weeks ago, John Linwood the BBC's Chief Technology Office released some interesting statistics regarding iPlayer usage:

Not only do the stats make interesting reading, but I'm liking the way they're presented as well!

There was talk earlier this year about ISPs wanting to charge the BBC due to the amount of traffic that iPlayer was generating - interesting to see what 2010 will bring.

Simon Newing

Created on Friday December 11 2009 04:36 PM


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New Recruit

After two years at Bray Leino working on accounts for clients such as WIRSPA a Caribbean rum producer’s trade association and The Royal Mint she fancied broadening her skills in the digital field and it just so happened that we had the perfect role for her here!

Emily will be working closely with me to expand our range of services available to our clients including offering more strategic digital marketing advice and guidance, search engine optimisation and usability audits.

All of the Focus team will be out at the Living Room on Thursday 17th for our Crimbo meal, so if you would like to come for a drink or two, meet Emily and say hello, it will be lovely to see you.

Created on Wednesday December 09 2009 05:44 PM


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Mosse climbs walls

Congratulations to our own Simon Mosse on his recent promotion to Senior Creative.

In his new role Si will continue to be involved 'hands on' in the design side of our business - but he'll also manage our creative resources and be spending more time on the usability aspect of our projects - meaning getting clients and users involved in workshops and interactive sessions.

Currently he's knee deep in a rebranding project for a special customer - us! More on that exciting news soon - but in the meantime well done Si!


Simon Newing

Created on Wednesday December 02 2009 12:00 AM


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The elements of simplicity

This video presentation by BJ Fogg from Stanford University really caught my eye today.  Whilst it's simple to say not everything is simple, from a User Experience point of view, it's not always simple to say why that is, in a meaningful or quantitative way.

I found this psycological framework, 'loose' as Fogg insists it is, to be pretty interesting as a way to enter into the realms of why 'less is often more'.  

Link to Vimeo video ».

Created on Wednesday November 18 2009 02:27 PM

Tags: userexperience ux usability simplicity

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London office twelve months on....

Beautifully proving that time flies when you're having fun, we suddenly realised today that the London office (well, South East office) has been open for a year this week.

We've made a home for ourselves in an old mill by the river, fed ducks, waved at barges and even done some work along the way.

February saw us avoid the great flood, where for a brief moment it looked like we'd have to raise our entire network six inches off the ground as the waters threatened to sweep in. Fortunately someone opened a lock somewhere and all was good.

A few photos of our surroundings and the weather that's been thrown at us can be seen at:

Simon Newing

Created on Friday November 13 2009 04:21 PM

Tags: sawbridgeworth

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Facebook is so - yesterday....

According to a survey in the US, the average age of a Facebook user is now an ancient 33 - meaning today's youths are flocking over to have a good Twitter instead:


Simon Newing

Created on Tuesday November 10 2009 10:13 AM

Tags: social-networking youth

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Parents Support Hub on the way

We're delighted to have been commissioned by the Family Information Service at Bristol City Council to create a new web site and information hub under the banner "Support for Parents".
The new site will help the local authority meet legislation set out under the Every Child Matters programme, and will allow parents to find information about service providers and groups that can offer the support they need.

Initially we'll be working on a new logo and brand for the project before looking to launch the new content managed site in December 2009.


Simon Newing

Created on Monday November 02 2009 12:00 AM


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eCommerce Expo

I went along to the eCommerce Expo at London's Earls Court, to have a little sneaky peak at what's going on in the industry. I found the seminars interesting but always find it a little uncomfortable walking around and being 'pitched' at from every angle!

I went to the Google University Analytics Master Class where they took it back to basics and highlighted the main principles of getting the most out of your analytics including:

  • Set clear goals - understand what your website is for
  • Use the reports from your Google Analytics to drive the website forward - don't just use them to show your boss a nice report.
  • Ensure that many people in the organisation are aware of the analytics, what they show and what the objectives for the site are.

But over all make sure that you have a great web development team who can work with you, using the results from the analytics to put in changes for driving the site and retaining customers!

If you're interested you can view the seminars from the expo online at Seminar Stream


Created on Thursday October 22 2009 10:23 AM

Tags: google web-development e-commerce conference

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Working through WCAG 2.0

Last month I was privileged enough to have the opportunity to spend a day with the RNIB (Royal National Institute of Blind People) super-accessibility-squad, or SAS for short, and blown away by how much information can be picked up in just a day.

I was in the "Working through WCAG 2.0" day-long workshop, and I would recommend it to anyone who would like to work out some of the differences between the old and new Website Accessibility Guidelines, and/or learn some up-to-date best practises on attempting to meet these guidelines.

My experience was made even better because I was able to sit next to someone who only coded using screen-reading technology, and was therefore able to gain an insight into a level of accessibility know-how that I could not have gained any other way.

I was interested in the realistic approach taken by the RNIB. Whilst they have every right to scream and shout about the unbelievable amount of inaccessible material out there on and off the web, they instead pointed out the small things that you can quickly change to make a big difference to all of your users. This was the least that a user should expect from a website, allowing us all to progress into more complex issues with a good understanding of the standards expected by the RNIB.

Another interesting idea was that by trying to meet all AAA Priority guidelines in WCAG 2.0 could in fact exclude more users than aiming to meet the AA Priority guidelines and only a few but well chosen guidelines from AAA Priority! Obviously this is determined by the user group, but it was an interesting point that could only be really made by the experts!

Hopefully I've sung their praises enough, so please have a look for yourself as I would recommend this course to small and big companies alike, because this is the way web best-practise is definitely taking us.

Course details:
Related article:

Created on Wednesday October 14 2009 03:16 PM

Tags: website internet web-development wcag-20 accessibility training

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