More Digital blog


Oct 2010

Are old companies dying in the age of an online economy?

Posted in Business tactics | 1 Comment »

A comparison, courtesy of

Reading about Gap’s recent mishap with their logo and its subsequent torch-and-pitchfork treatment by those with social media accounts (followed swiftly by Gap reverting to their old logo) and a rather pedantic interest in the graphic design work that went into the rather poor design itself, it’s hard not to wonder if the old giants are keeping up.

New giants, like Facebook, are rapidly becoming the companies that today’s book shops and train companies need to be in order to retain a new generation of people who would rather book an entire wedding via iPhone Apps than with a land-line phone and a few hours spare. Groupon’s owner Andrew Mason talks about “polishing your turds and getting super rich”, but really it’s just a case of pushing into the online world with such force and offering enough USPs that the online pedestrians can’t help but take notice.

The anorak approach to the internet no longer works. You can seal yourself off from certain networks, sites, or just simply avoid the web completely, but it’s a realistic estimate that in a couple of generations time, we’re going to be reliant on the internet for almost everything, with few alternatives. High Street shopping is just another concept that faces an imminent sense of irrelevance as Amazon and continue to rise alongside Personally, I think Primark’s eventual move into the online sphere will hurt clothes shops the most, but I think that’s just my human desire for £4 messenger bags and £5 pairs of shoes.

In terms of responding to criticism lodged against your new ventures via social media, it’s a case of eat or be eaten. Responding to your critics via a silent reversion to an old logo after criticism of the new is not smart. Defending the new logo is. The iTunes logo changed recently, as the CD-based logo they used was “no longer relevant”. It’s a shame to see a great logo disappear after so long with little to no warning, but it shows that Apple is being smart – they gave their excuse, and stuck with it.

Pre-digital companies, such as Gap, have an entirely different set of obstacles to cope with when it comes to re-branding themselves for a new generation of happy consumers who’ll buy big and in bulk and never complain, five-star-reviewing their way into consumerist heaven. Instead of a quick logo change, they should’ve completely re-hashed the way they did things. Was the online store checked out by an SEO consultant? Was social media a major tool in their promotion? Was the new logo really the only thing they wanted to change after decades of typical clothes-store operation?

A decent online shop isn’t enough – in the day and age of three-second judgements, you need a hook. Social media integration with clothes shopping? There’s your hook, Gap. That one’s free of charge, and I guarantee you, I’m no graphic designer, but I could’ve come up with a logo better than a blue square and bold Helvetica (a wild guess, but judging by that particular font’s overuse…).

Companies are not evolving fast enough. Dinosaurs were snuffed out by a massive meteorite. Had they lived today, would they have survived human culture? The meteor that’s struck the economy is twofold – the second coming of the .com, this time in the form of social media, and the recession. People are more tight-fisted, and LiveJournal users are more likely to tweet than write 1,000 word blog-posts.

All the while Gap are expecting a new jpeg to bring their company image up to date. A Facebook plugin or an iPhone App would’ve worked better. In fact, an online poll would’ve saved them hundreds of thousands of dollars in design fees, and I’m imagining a fair few marketing reps would’ve never had to worry about their reputations.

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Oct 2010

Who wants more business customers? MePlease.

Posted in Social Media | 0 Comments

It’s official, using social media can have numerous benefits for small businesses. But what if you just don’t know where to start? Perhaps you don’t run the sort of business where you are able to invest a significant amount of time utilising the many social media platforms available.

Well, MePlease have got the answer. By integrating social media with mobile phone technology, they offer businesses the ability to to reach new clients – and all they have to do is provide their customers with a ‘treat’.

This site is already proving popular with the public, partly due to the fact that it allows its users to control the amount of interaction businesses have with them – drawing in those who would be perhaps less likely to sign up to a mailing list.

The basic premise is this: visitors sign up online and decide which businesses they’d like to hear from, and how often. The businesses then offer treats, which can range from discounts to upgrades or freebies. This not only draws in new customers but, unlike one-off promotional vouchers, allows businesses to keep in contact with their customers, and notify them of further offers. They also encourage users to post details of the treats they have signed up for on various social networking platforms, thus spreading the word about MePlease, and promoting the businesses involved.

Businesses who have already subscribed to the MePlease service include big brand names such as Cineworld, PizzaExpress, Jack Wills, and Bella Italia, as well as small businesses such as Got Fitness and Waxy O’Connors.

However, theirs is not a completely original idea. Foursquare cottoned on to the advertising potential of their location-based social networking game some time ago. With a similar concept to MePlease’s treats system, businesses registered with Foursquare offer ‘specials’: special offers which can be activated by frequent visitors to a particular place and, of course, the ‘mayor’ of a particular location.

Although Foursquare does not engage with all mobile phone users, it does appeal to those accessing social media through a smart phone. It also alerts customers that might be nearby to a venue which gives special treatment to Foursquare users, which gives location-specific appeal over the likes of MePlease.

On the other hand, businesses who feel that that un-prompted promotions are not appropriate or beneficial for the service or product which they offer might consider registering with Groupon. Groupon are possibly the most established site in the promotion of businesses, particularly spa, theatre and restaurant deals.

Despite not actually being a social networking site in their own right, Groupon has undoubtedly achieved notoriety through link-sharing on the likes of Facebook and Twitter. Groupon have harnessed what they call “collective buying power” in that, rather than offering the deals to everyone straight away, the discounts are not activated until a minimum number of people have bought that particular deal.

This has proved popular with businesses, as it takes away the risky element that comes with giving away free products. It does not rely on the likelihood of great deals bringing in more custom, it makes sure that they do.

Bar and restaurant businesses are currently seen to be the forerunners in this form of social media self-promotion, but it is not a service available to them exclusively. Fashion website work alongside a variety of clothes retailers to offer exclusive offers on a variety of designer brands for a limited time only.

The ‘members-only’ appeal of this site, as well as the rewards for making purchases and inviting friends to join, means this site has also benefited from referrals made through social media. With sites like this on the rise, it is unlikely to be long before a whole variety of businesses are able to benefit from similar services.

So if you know you need to be using social media to improve your small business success, but find the whole concept totally bewildering, then worry not! It is certainly worth considering signing up to services such as these, who know exactly how to maximise the promotional potential of these interactive platforms, and will happily do it for you.

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