Can it really be twelve months since we last wrote a blog article wishing everyone a happy Christmas? Time has flown, and we haven't had a chance to tell anyone about the things we've been up to during a very busy 2011 - but we've all made new years resolutions to make sure we shout more in 2012.
So the studio is effectively closed over the festive period from 3pm on Friday 23rd December until Tuesday 3rd January 2012 but we will have an emergency email address in operation for anyone needing to contact us instead of drinking and eating turkey - we can't promise an immediate response but we'll do our best to help. Please use:
All that remains is for us to wish you all an excellent Christmas and New Year and we look forward to seeing you in 2012.
Created on Tuesday December 20 2011 09:47 AM
We were approached by a client recently to advise on setting up a Facebook presence for a organisation whose target market is vulnerable children. Hence the brief provided was not a normal Facebook presence and had a strict criteria list.
The strict criteria list related to maintaining privacy and reducing any associated risks involved in using the social network to communicate with these children.
We spent some time reviewing this list as we had experience of setting up Facebook pages for other companies and organisations whose main aim was to promote themselves through Facebook. This project’s aim was promoting the organisation BUT also ensuring communication from users was minimal. This was something which we knew would be difficult, as this was going against what Facebook was designed for.
During our investigation we set up an array of pages, groups and profiles to understand how each would work with these key requirements. We reported back to the project team our thoughts and findings which included the challenges, issues and advantages each of these options offered.
Once an agreement was made on a preferred method, we worked on reducing the risk associated with this option. We successfully built up a test page which met the criteria list and we also identified some risks which were not considered initially by the project team to ensure our solution had the lowest risks possible. The project group are going to implement our findings once they have recieved sign off.
Social media was THE buzz word for 2011 and a lot of companies, groups and organisations are jumping on the bandwagon without thinking about the how, where and why? We’ve developed social media strategies for a number of clients this year to ensure they understand the reasons why they are doing something and the best way to use social media for their goals and aims.
Created on Wednesday December 07 2011 04:14 PM
QR codes have been in use over the last few years, but are they a passing trend or do they have ability to become a marketing tool for the next decade?
It still remains to be seen the effectiveness of a QR code campaign. Recently it feels like marketers are adopting a policy of ‘stick a QR code on it’. A recent Econsultancy survey conducted online using TolunaQuick found that only 31% of UK consumers knew what QR codes were or what they are for, and just 19% had scanned one on their mobiles. I also recently saw a billboard advert on the side of a building with a large QR code 100 metres from the ground – not exactly an ideal place for someone to scan it.
I have however seen some really intuitive uses of QR codes in the news recently. eBay have set up a pop up virtual shop in London where you scan a QR code to make an instant purchase, Dominoes have been using QR codes on their menus for a while now to both incentivise and also push users to their mobile apps and sites.
The news this week that John Lewis has set up a virtual shop in Brighton. All of the retailer's ‘top 30 things to buy for Christmas’ are included in a window display at a branch of Waitrose. This is to promote the ‘click and collect' option John Lewis is currently offering. I’d imagine that if this uptake of major brands and retailers continues, QR codes will continue to be used. It could be the marketing tool that bridges the gap between traditional shopping and eCommerce. Who knows it could be the future of retailing – smaller shops which carry no stock and only display QR codes??
Created on Tuesday November 29 2011 09:52 AM
Two weeks in. So far so good. Quite enjoying the 'park-in-Clifton-and-walk-to-work-in-trainers' routine. Finding it weird to be in the minority as regards tea drinking (I do, most don't) - feel like some kind of caffeine-addicted loon. Learning new things and sharing some too. Getting to grips with (great) new systems and discovering we do some really clever, creative and inspiring work here at Focus.
Hands are dirty with reporting, results and analytics. Eyes are full of Clifton Triangle and all it's lunchtime temptations. Ears are listening to everyone's conversations and starting to make sense of 'how things are done here'. Already proud of our work and wanting to tell everyone how great we are!
After 12 years in my previous agency, it's been a big move - but a really positive one. I'm excited to be part of such an ambitious team. And Kirsty - let's keep these boys in check! Thanks guys.
Oh, and this is a nice bit of fun: http://j.mp/tFIirh
Created on Thursday November 24 2011 01:46 PM
Digital strategy is something which every company should be considering, but what is a digital strategy and how do you go about developing one?
According to Wikipedia a digital strategy is……'the process of specifying an organisation's vision, goals, opportunities and initiatives in order to maximize the business benefits digital investments and efforts provide to the organisation.'
At Focus we have worked on a large number of digital strategies for our clients as well as our own. If we had to explain a digital strategy to a client we would say that it is the initial and ongoing development of processes that will achieve set goals and aims using digital technologies and channels.
We’ve put together our thoughts on the process involved in developing a digital strategy.
The initial thoughts that need to take place when developing a digital strategy is reviewing your current processes and procedures, digital channels currently utilised and results of these activities over a period. Of course you may not currently be undertaking any at the moment.
Once you looked at how you’ve done things – it’s now time to look ahead. Working out a list of goals that you aim to achieve is key part to the process of developing a digital strategy. This may include some of your current business objectives.
It’s then all about understanding how to achieve these objectives, is it through SEO, social media, development of your website? Once you’ve understood what is it you want to achieve and how you’re going to do it – it’s about the process and procedures to achieve your desired objectives. Another key element to remember is measurement – you’ll want to measure your return on investment.
Once you’ve spent time implementing these ideas into practice you’ll need to continually evaluate the results and ensure you evolve your strategy over time – we here at Focus love the phrase ‘continuous improvement’. It a methodology which is extremely important in the world of digital.
Created on Tuesday November 22 2011 12:56 PM
At Focus we love to blog and we’re sometimes asked by clients how often should they be blogging on their site, what should they be blogging about and how long should the blog post be?
We don’t think that there are any hard and fast rules for the above but all are genuine questions that should be asked by website administrators.
First thing would be to identify your goals of blogging in order to develop a clear strategy. Why are you blogging?....is it to provide information, content or SEO?
Best practice decitates that you should try to blog as often as possible, we would say once a week is a minimum, but it’s important to make sure the content is relevant to your audience, current affairs and time of the year. Don’t blog for the sake of it – make sure you have a point to each post and ensure it will engage your audience.
Blog posts can be any length but we would suggest something short and snappy if your posting something more general (a few paragraphs) and a bit longer if you trying to enforce a point, provide information or engage your audience.
One other key point we would say is spread the load between employees – one person only has so many ideas and it can be a great to get different writing styles and opinion into your blog posts.
Created on Monday November 14 2011 03:41 PM
Google+ has announced today that companies and brands can create a presence on the social network from the search giants – following a similar style to Facebook pages.
They have five categories:
- Local Business or Place
- Product or Brand
- Company, Institution or Organization
- Arts, Entertainment or Sports
Over 40m have already signed up to Google+, and in articles this morning it has been mooted that a shift in social networking could occur with this new change….but why?
Well, the new features will allow users to recommend brands by using the +1 button, add companies to their circles so they can be kept updated with news and chat via its multi-person video tool Hangouts (something we’ve used for internal meetings and think i).
It’s also noted that this new development could be a way of attracting celebrities and journalists away from Twitter – this is mainly due to the additional features Google+ could offer with its integration in search, gmail, news etc. If there was a major shift the 40m+ users would surely skyrocket.
We’re going to take a look at the opportunities that a business page would offer not only us but also our clients – so look out for our advice on setting up a page!
Created on Tuesday November 08 2011 11:51 AM
We decided to put together a few simple ways to market your web site on social media sites, so take a look below at some of the easy ways to drive more traffic to your site.
1. Online Events - hold unique online events such as 12 or 24-hour Tweet-a-thons. Encouraging followers to include links and #hashtags in all their tweets. Targets can also be set, such as aiming to reach a certain number of new followers, or the 100th person to place an order on a unique link gets their order for free.
2. Affiliate Social Network - get links with other companies to use their own Facebook and Twitter accounts to help promote your business and you return the favour.
3. Web Chats – set up live web chats or webinars through social media sites, this is a good method for providing advice or showing off a particular product / service.
4. YouTube Campaigns - set up your own YouTube channel and integrate an effective YouTube campaign into your overall promotional strategy. Make it easier for customers to share video content across their own social media networks.
5. Vouchers / Coupons - everyone loves a voucher or coupon so promote a product or service with a voucher or coupon for social media followers. This provides a reason for people to ‘like’ your Facebook or ‘follow’ you on Twitter.
For more advice feel free to call us to arrange a meeting on how we can help your digital strategy.
Created on Wednesday November 02 2011 04:32 PM
There have been a large number of articles over the last few months on the rise of mobile internet with more people now using mobile devices to view websites. This is something which interests us a lot here at Focus Towers as we’ve always believed mobile phones and tablets would become a key way for people to access the web.
I also read yesterday about how social media is helping to maintain the interest in TV shows such as X Factor and Strictly Come Dancing on a Saturday. I would imagine the people using social media while watching TV are using a mobile phone or tablet to ‘tweet’ or ‘comment’ about what they are watching. I for one was on Twitter (on my iPhone) last night while watching Young Apprentice and chuckling at some of the comments which were made and observations made by people which I had also noticed.
“Almost half of UK internet users are going online via mobile phones, according to the Office for National Statistics.”
Source: BBC News, 31 August 2011
It’s not just TV shows, you can now use your mobile phone to check prices of items online before purchase in store or using your phone to find the closest coffee shop. There is a huge buzz around app currently and I have 100’s downloaded to my phone, but I’m using mobile sites more and more for things like banking, shopping, checking out the latest film or train times. I even used Heathrow’s mobile site to check on arrival times for a friend’s flight. I also use the Amazon mobile site rather than the iPhone app because I find that it’s quicker and easier to make a purchase.
A recent study commissioned by Barclays Corporate found that almost 63% of all mobile owners use their device during the online purchase process at present but that this still accounts for just 5% of total ecommerce spend (£26bn) for 2011. However, the research predicts that this figure will rise to £19.3bn a year by 2021 due to the growing popularity of smart phones and tablet devices, sales of which are set to hit 6m by the end of this year alone.
Building a mobile version of a web site isn’t complicated and doesn’t require extensive additional coding (as the same data sources can be used for both ‘standard’ and ‘mobile’ sites) - but it does require some thought due to the reduced processing power and screen real estate of such devices.
We find the key is to focus on your ‘call to action’ and ensure it can be completed easily within the given restrictions. One of the other main differences is that smart phones tend to rely on touch screen for interaction with the user - so the design should lend itself to big graphical buttons that can be viewed and ‘clicked upon’ easily with the finger - rather than a cursor.
If you want to see our own mobile site just type www.thisisfocus.co.uk into your phones browser and you’ll see how we have made our desktop site an easy to use and view mobile version.
Created on Tuesday October 25 2011 12:11 PM
I was on the laptop late on Monday night and decided to check on the latest going on in the world of Facebook. After typing Facebook in Google, I noticed the New York Times had posted an article saying Facebook had finally released its iPad app! Upon clicking on the article I saw that it was true and after months of rumours it had finally been released – quietly I must add!
So straight on to the iPad – I had to see what all the fuss was about and was this really worth waiting for? I had been using the myPad app for Facebook previously, which I had to pay for (Facebook is free of course). The app has apparently been ready since May and it was anticipated for release at the recent F8 conference and also the Apple ‘Let’s talk iPhone’ event.
Upon opening the app it has a very slick and recognisable feel (especially for iPhone users). The touch navigation is intuitive, as would be expected and it was easy to navigate around pages and updates quickly and easily. I was able to message a friend with a simply click and had a box pop up without leaving their profile.
The photos on the site was where it really stepped up a level – I was able to flick through hundreds of picture on albums with ease and the navigation at the bottom of screen is an excellent feature. The photos were stunning on the iPad’s display (as much as can be with the picture quality on Facebook)..it’s where I think the iPhone app has its limitations really but due to size more than anything.
There is still features that I need to try like the chat facilities, but it was a definite improvement on the myPad app and easier to use than the Facebook site on Safari. I would definitely recommend it for any iPad user who uses Facebook on a regular basis.
Created on Tuesday October 11 2011 10:46 AM
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