More Digital blog


Mar 2012

The MoreDigital Communication Guide

Posted in Business tactics | 0 Comments

The MoreDigital Guide to Communication.In 2012, there are more ways to send a client a proposal than there have ever been before. But astonishingly, there are still businesses out there (and what’s worse, some of them are actually web-savvy) that are using for their email addresses. This, my friends, is not how you do professional in the new millennium. So how do you go about making your business communication look a little less thrown together?

Firstly, do you own a domain? Yes? If so, why aren’t you using either hosted email, or if it’s just a domain with no hosting, Google Apps? That’s right – all the functionality of GMail, but with your email address, not to mention a synched calendar and other tools that Google provides for free. No, really, free. Nada. No money.

The reason you shouldn’t use an email address that isn’t generic and very obviously free is simple: you look cheap, and you don’t stand out from your crazy Aunt May who also happens to have an account. I really do mean that – the two of you look about as professional as each other if I have your email address alone to judge you on – which a company often does, if that’s your first point of contact with them.

There’s also the issue of phones. If you’re working from home, that’s fine, but give out your landline number – personally, I always find it somewhat disconcerting to be offered nothing but a mobile number unless myself and the person I’m due to meet or do business with is actually on the move on the day of the meeting. A landline gives the image of permanence, and it’s also cheaper to call in some contexts, too, which can be important for other small businesses like yours who will want to keep costs down.

There’s also the more subtle forms of communication that a lot of people don’t seem to consider, such as:

  • How easy-to-interpret your website is.
  • The quality of communication on your social networking accounts.
  • Email signatures.
  • Language within an email.
  • Your domain name quality.
  • Your site/page summary as it appears in a Google search.

There are many more, but these are the first six that came to mind. I see countless small business websites – all of us do, and the ones that grab me are clear, concise, neat, modern, and if or when I want to get in touch, there’s a custom email address and a variety of social media options available to me. Once I contact that business, they respond with a well-written email, I’ve got a signature with their details in it, if I Google them to check up before we proceed I can see great summaries which points to an SEO-tuned brain somewhere in that business… There are so many factors at play here, and it’s vitally important that the first impression you make is good. Otherwise, how will you progress from “small business” to just “business”?

Now, without providing step-by-step and deep-thought examples of what I’m talking about, you’d have the right to say I’m just making demands of small businesses that are either unfounded or unreasonable. So, in order to prove to you that these things matter, I’m going to go into depth. A lot of depth. Starting this week, I’ll be publishing a series of articles on communication, starting with email.

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Mar 2011

The Jason-Stephanie campaign – update #3.

Posted in Social Media | 0 Comments

Okay, so, this could be going better.

It’s week four of the campaign (no update last week due to the huge interview with Michael Chorost which resulted in four posts over the regular three), and Jason’s video is just out of qualifying for a holiday by sitting in fourth place. However, this is not the end of the world, as an interesting opportunity is arising.

With three and a bit weeks to go before the competition ends, there are two videos each with just over 500 votes taking first and second place. However, there is also a video in third that only has 400 votes. Jason has around 370. The gap has closed once again, and if we can take it now, we’re fine. The main strategy would be to get to 1,000 votes, so far in the lead that it’s tough to usurp him, let alone have him finish outside the winning trio of happy honeymoon couples.

A lot of tactics have been discussed, and unfortunately it’s come to light that due to the lack of any campaigns on behalf of some of the other videos, we may be competing against people that are either manufacturing votes, or simply using their Facebook and a rather unique community angle. The angle is simply a stronger sense of community than ours – namely, that two of the top three video posters are devout and active members of the American Christian community, and out of them and Jason and my journalist circle, we’d wager the former are more likely to go the distance for someone who has their respect. This, in itself, is really quite sweet and I wish I had this behind me, but I don’t, because I’m not introducing God to universities campuses across the American Northwest.

But how do you manufacture that kind of popularity? Jason’s Facebook and Twitter have been ablaze with requests for votes, and I’ve done a fair bit of work with Twuffer and the MoreDigital Twitter, in addition to my own and retweeting his. The hash-tagging does help, but do hash-tags sometimes make it seem a tad less inviting, and more like spam? I’m not sure. But I will have to approach the people I know who have the pull to really draw some attention to this, and ensure that he stays in the running.

It’s not about the fact that the blog’s been following this, because if we didn’t succeed, I’ll write about what we may have done wrong, what we did right, and I’ll still have a blogpost. But this is also Jason’s honeymoon, something that won’t happen again in his or his fiancée’s lives. We need to crush the opposition, and I only have to say it once:

Battle stations.

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Jul 2010

Facebook: rise of the status-update

Posted in Business tactics, Online PR, Social Media | 0 Comments

Facebook, subject of many an endless morning spent looking at galleries of pictures, tagging, commenting, and playing Mafia Wars. It seems like such a wasteful activity, until you count in marketing data, film promotions, band fan groups, political groups and the hundreds of thousands of uses it seems to be developing with each day.

In June, the site hit over 141 million unique visits in the US. So, in one month, the site’s visitors were over twice the amount of people living in the UK, that’s nearly half the population of the United States. It’s a huge figure and demonstrates how large and far-reaching the networking site has become.

But people are no longer simply creating holiday galleries and messaging and commenting about each other, as they were in its infancy. The ever-increasing list of Facebook features available to all users from the moment of registration is getting longer all the time, and this has opened the door to businesses who have finally recognised that the Facebook picture of their drunk CEO is going to matter.

Have you ever seen someone get caught out via Facebook? Everyone who’s aware of the social media industry has likely heard at least one dark tale of the consequences of careless social networking. Lost jobs, lost boy/girlfriends, broken marriages, legal suits. Privacy on the web is now at a premium, and with the average net-user racking up an increasing amount of social media and communications accounts, it’s becoming harder for businesses to keep track of the reputation of individual employees.

If you’re a company that deals in products or services that would encourage people to find you via the web, think about what else they might be finding. Your PR rep with the public gallery of his drunken week in Bangkok is suddenly going to look a lot less competent when another company is sizing you up for a merger.

But what to do? We can’t ban these people from Facebook or make them go private. If anything, social networking has become such an integral part of modern online PR that doing so would seriously cripple your online presence as a company. However, setting account privacy settings or moving certain photos into an area unlikely to be seen by a business is a wise idea.

Sure, when you’re dealing with a new company, you Google them. Of course, when you’re dealing with an individual, their social networking profiles will come up (and it may interest some to know that Facebook actually received higher traffic than Google in May) alongside their company profiles. LinkedIn contains very few risks – for all its “cool office-worker” image, it’s an online CV with few social interaction capabilities.

However, that MySpace account you had when you were fourteen – you know the one, “Bio: I hate PR!!! lol!!” – may haunt you when you’re looking into working for Saatchi & Saatchi. Think about your online presence, and, even better, pre-empt the haters. Set up fan groups for your company, but be open about it – the last PR disaster you need is to be seen secretly making yourselves look popular. Why not offer your clients a social space to meet and talk, to recommend you and link to you in their comments and status updates?

Offering them a way to interact via a medium that could, in ten years, become our main source of communication, is wise. Embrace the new if you want to stay on top of your target market, and get interested in their interests. If they’re “liking”, wasting hours on Farmville and posting pictures from the office drinks night, then consider whether your CEO might want to mention his love of pixelated pigs on his profile.

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Jul 2010

The true cost of a business’ social media integration

Posted in Business tactics, Online PR, Social Media, Web 2.0, Web Design and Usability | 0 Comments

Drifting through the web on a peaceful Monday lunchtime, I stumbled across possibly one of the most interesting and informative infographics I’ve seen. Created by Mashable, titled “Google’s Long History of Social Media Attempts” is an entertaining insight into one of the biggest web companies in the world, and its continued struggle for social media presence.

Reading down the years, a clear pattern emerges: Google have bought their way into more social media companies and invested in more projects than the majority of all businesses, globally. But for all their attempts to break the ice with the new generation of socially and digitally savvy teenagers and twentysomethings, something’s gone slightly awry. No one seems interested.

Now, for a company as large as Google, it seems almost absurd, doesn’t it? They’ve got millions, if not billions of dollars to spare on new projects, and everything they touch is hailed as a viable alternative before it’s even in alpha. However, putting successful projects such as Blogger to one side, Google are in a unique position – one of, if not the biggest web presence of any company in the world, but with all the social media success of a ten-year-old with a mobile dongle and a dream or two.

Google Me has been rumoured to be a direct competitor to Facebook. After severely underestimating the continued growth of the social-networking giant, Google now face a dilemma that is familiar to smaller companies like Bebo and the ever-falling-behind MySpace: how to get back into the face of the people.

It seems simple enough, but Google’s single greatest strength has simultaneously become its greatest weakness. The majority of internet searches go through Google’s famous search engine. But placing results for Google Me above Facebook, or even as sponsored links, could cause opinion to turn against Google and perceive the company as biased.

The same goes for small businesses – how to break into social media? If you’re a web company with Zuckerberg-esque aspirations, then you’ve got your work cut out. But you’ve still got a head-start over Google in terms of getting ranked higher and higher without it looking slightly too quick for the few cynics and conspiracy theorists.

You’ve also got, I’d wager, a smaller budget than the colossal entity that is Google. This also gives you an advantage – a smaller budget requires more careful planning, and less public humiliation when a big project falls through. An interesting look into Google’s inner workings tells many tales of failed projects and Google’s personal investment in the employees that push it further in the direction of global dominance of all online media.

If you’re a web-design company, maybe even just a solo entrepreneur, this seems daunting and, if anything, completely de-motivational. But never fear – you can network, you can join communities, and you can build up your web presence the way you want it to evolve. With countless failed projects behind their doors and a few too many beyond them, Google are now beginning to look like a company desperate to break into social media.

Your advantage comes from your unknown status. By lacking the stigma of a money-wasting corporate entity and focusing on one specific idea rather than anything with even the remotest prospect of serious monetisation (Jack of all trades, master of none), you can put forward ideas in a less critical environment. Public reaction, especially via the web, is crucial to the initial success and the build-up and expansion that follows.

But social media maintains its presence in society, a theory confirmed by The Social Network, the film about Mark Zuckerberg and Facebook’s rather controversial history, that will debut later this year. Taking Facebook off the internet and into the cinemas places it in the hands of yet another audience, and the genius of it is that it was never officially commissioned or sanctioned by Facebook in any way whatsoever. Hopefully, Google will be in the front row taking notes along with web-design graduates.

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Jan 2010

Social Media Lends Haiti a Helping Hand

Posted in Blogging | 0 Comments

There have been a lot of faith-restoring stories coming out of the social media world of late. Last week I wrote about the Facebook campaign that has helped save the life of young British student Philip Pain who fell seven-stories in Mexico and was in desperate need of blood. This week I want to acknowledge the huge effort made by social networking pages to help the people of Haiti.

Only minutes after the devastating earthquake floored the tiny Caribbean nation last Tuesday, the online world was mobilised and ready to help in any way it could.

One of the organisations leading the way was The Disasters Emergency Committee (DEC) who have now raised over £25 million after their appeal was announced on Twitter on last Wednesday.

The DEC has utilised Twitter, Facebook, Flickr and YouTube over the past week and their Chief Executive, Brendan Gormley, has publicly praised the significant role these social media sites have had in their campaign.

Mr. Gormley said, “Social networking has proven itself as a valuable addition to the fundraising machine. I’m thrilled that we have been able to quickly communicate and engage the UK public, who have in turn responded with tremendous generosity to help the people of Haiti who so urgently need our help.

“Their donations mean our member agencies can continue to source and deliver the emergency supplies needed like safe water, shelter, medicine and food. We hope people will continue to give their support so that more emergency aid can be added to what will be a massive humanitarian effort.”

DEC reported on Facebook that Flickr has been used to host images from the DEC’s member agencies, with 34,000 views of the DEC account on Friday, while a video of the DEC broadcast appeal has attracted nearly 4,000 views on YouTube.

Not only has social media been an outstanding tool to stimulate aid and increase donations, it has also played a vital role in spreading news and remarkably, locating victims.

This is the first example we’ve seen where that sense of global community has been expressed in action, for example using social media technology to get the story out faster, to locate victims, and to give instantaneous donations,” said James Norrie, a media professor at RTS’s School of IT Management. “That’s an amazing use of a social media tool.”

The events in Haiti, while both shocking and saddening, have reinforced social media’s undoubted ability for social good.

I think Tom Brown, writing for The Burlington Free Press, captured it well when he wrote, “I’ve heard critics of social media say that users of communication tools such as Twitter and Facebook only want to talk to, and about, themselves and their friends. The earthquake in Haiti might help change the minds of some of those critics”.

“When people can respond that quickly and in such numbers to help their fellow man, then there certainly is hope”.

To make a donation to the DEC Haiti Earthquake Appeal visit or call 0370 60 60 900, donate over the counter at any post office or high street bank, send a cheque made payable to ‘DEC Haiti Earthquake Appeal’ to ‘PO Box 999, London, EC3A 3AA’ or text GIVE to 70077 to donate £5. £5 goes to DEC. You pay £5 plus your standard network SMS rate.

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