29 May, 2009
User-generated content and social media will be key to generating sales and reaching consumers once the recession lifts, two separate studies say.
As disposable income tightens, UK internet users are spending less time on transactional sites and more on user content driven websites such as social networks, according to Experian's latest Insight Report.
In terms of traffic, social networks overtook retail websites in the UK for the first time in January 2009 and by March were receiving 14 per cent more internet visits, the report said.
According to Experian, brands that have incorporated UGC and social media into their sites are seeing increasing web traffic and conversion rates compared to those yet to embrace Web 2.0.
A survey of marketers by Vignette Corporation has found brands are aware of the importance of social networking and UGC, but lack the tools to integrate them with long-term marketing initiatives and measure their effectiveness.Although 55 per cent of those surveyed said that Web 2.0 priorities are at least as important as traditional marketing techniques, 40 per cent have no social media process or strategy in place.
Investment in social media will be increased by an average of 40 per cent by 71 per cent of the companies surveyed.
27 May, 2009
Dan Leahul, Brand Republic
Top FTSE100 executives are failing to grasp social networking services such as LinkedIn, Facebook or Twitter, while Sunday Times Fast Track 100 firms such as On Holiday Group are leading the way as early adopters, according to new research.
According to digital agency Bigmouthmedia, 25% of FTSE100 senior executives use social networking to promote their business, compared to 85% of the executives recently named in the Sunday Times Fast Track 100.
LinkedIn emerged as the senior executives networking tool of choice. Half of those surveyed use the service, while 80% of FTSE100 managers who engage in social networking use it as their only application.
Lyndsay Menzies, Bigmouthmedia's chief operations officer, said: "Social networking may have become one of the most talked about trends in the online world, but until now there has been little hard evidence showing to what extent the business community has embraced these tools.
"Our research shows that while many leading executives are now deriving measurable benefits from this rapidly developing channel, some of the UK's most prominent organisations have failed to get to grips with this important trend."
The survey named Carnival Cruises' senior director John Heald and On Holiday Group chief executive Steve Endacott as the two business leaders currently trading in Britain who have most readily adopted social networking.
Heald emerged as the clear winner in the FTSE100 category after it was found he uses a combination of Facebook and blogging to reach out to customers.
On Holiday Group chief executive and founder Steve Endacott was found to be the most active social networker in the Fast Track category.
The former MyTravel chief employs a range of tools including Facebook, LinkedIn, Twitter, Plaxo and Xing to promote his travel company.
Endacott said: "I believe that these are tools every business has to get to grips with.
"There's a generation of consumers growing up with social media, and unless you truly understand the culture there's a real danger of losing touch with them."
21 May, 2009
Google bosses said that the search giant needed to learn from Twitter and suggested it could work with the popular micro blogging service in the future, but not necessarily buy it.
Speaking at the annual Google Zeitgeist conference, chief executive Eric Schmidt, while not ruling out a bid for Twitter, did dampen speculation which claimed his company was planning to buy the service.
Twitter has been linked with to a lengthening list of suitors. The most recent tech firm to join that list was Apple, putting it alongside Facebook, Google and Microsoft. Apple's bid was said to be valued at $700m.
At the conference Schmidt said Google could work with Twitter without the need to buy it. "We do not have to buy everyone to work with them", he said.
There has been speculation that Google would advance into the real time search space, which Twitter has opened up.
It is understood that Schmidt has spoken with the Twitter founders, including Biz Stone, about working together.Such a partnership could include indexing Twitter feeds on Google search, allowing people to search for tweets in the same way they search for news and blogs.
Larry Page, Google's co-founder, said Google needed to learn from Twitter as it moved to make its search engine work in real-time.
Page said: "People really want to do stuff real time and I think they [Twitter] have done a great job about it. We have done a relatively poor job of creating things that work on a per-second basis."
20 May, 2009
Dog's Trust and Crisis sign up for deal that splits commission on online sales
A new online service will enable charities to raise money through microblogging website Twitter.
The URL-shortening service good.ly, which launched yesterday, (Mon) allows Twitter users to post links to retail websites in their "tweets", short updates of up to 140 characters. Charities receive a 55 per cent share of the commission from retailers when other Twitter users buy products from their sites. The other 45 per cent goes to good.ly.
So far, dog rehoming charity Dog's Trust and homelessness charity Crisis are the only voluntary groups listed as potential beneficiaries on the good.ly site, but it is open to applications from charities that have a large Twitter following.
The founder of good.ly, entrepreneur Alicia Navarro, said she hoped in future the site would be integrated with the main Twitter page.
She added that if a large number of charities applied to receive funds through the scheme, they would be rotated on a monthly basis.
"Twitter is a great service and has huge potential to raise money for charity," she said. "This service makes it easy for people to help charities raise funds without spending any money themselves."
19 May, 2009
Royal Mail workers in the West Country have vowed not to deliver British National Party election door-drops because they object to them as "right-wing rubbish".
The leaflets promote the BNP ahead of the European Parliamentary elections on 4th June and carry an anti-immigration message. The Green Party and UK Independence Party are also using solus door drops to encourage people to vote for them in June.
Royal Mail has a legal obligation under the Representation of the People Act to deliver election material.
In asking Royal Mail post workers to deliver BNP leaflets, the Communication Workers Union is arging that Royal Mail is breaking a 'conscience clause' agreed several years ago allowing staff to refuse to deliver literature they find offensive.
The Times reported on Friday that some 100 workers in the West Country have told union leaders they will not carry the leaflets, but that the CWU is accusing Royal Mail chiefs in Bristol and Somerset of "bullying", with one office allegedly threatening workers with dismissal if they do not comply.
Dave Wilshire, spokesman for the Bristol and District Branch of the CWU, told the Times: "Over the past 48 hours I‚ve had around 32 calls from individual members and those speaking on behalf of groups, saying they don't want to deliver the material. That is fair enough.The clause says members don‚t have to deliver material if they feel threatened or if it is against their personal beliefs."
One Bristol based postman told the Western Daily Press that he was concerned about delivering inflammatory material as his route bordered two ethnic-minority areas.
The protest comes just after Tory leader David Cameron called for MPs' communications allowances, largely spent on door drops and direct mail, to be scrapped.
18 May, 2009
Facebook is finally ready to launch its Verified Applications program in a bid to mimic the success of Apple's lucrative App Store model.
Announced in November, the Verified Applications program charges third-party developers $375 to have Facebook review their creative apps, and if it fits Facebook's rigorous security and quality standards, it gets the Verified Application stamp of approval.
Verified apps will come with a graphic badge announcing their status and also rank higher in Facebook's app directory, which now contains over 50,000 third-party apps.
Facebook's Jerry Cain wrote on the developers blog: "Ensuring that applications are trustworthy, meaningful (whether for entertainment or utility value), and easy to find is paramount to developer success, user engagement, and helping the ecosystem as a whole to thrive."
The trustworthy aspect is significant, as Facebook has been embroilied in a number of security failures and phishing scams in the last month.
Apple's App Store has been an undeniable success, recently passing the one billion download mark, partly due to is strict acceptance policy and quality control.
15 May, 2009
Clip 'richly informative and professionally crafted', say judges
A podcast by the RSPB has won third place in the Best Internet Programme category at this year's Sony Radio Academy Awards.
The clip is an episode from the charity's Nature's Voice series, produced monthly on behalf of the charity by a company called Podcats.
The regular 20-minute podcasts about the RSPB's protection work have been played by 92,000 people since the series began two years ago. The winning episode was a piece about the Sumatran rainforest.
The judges at Monday's awards, which were hosted by DJ Chris Evans at London's Grosvenor House hotel, awarded the charity the bronze award in the Best Internet Programme category.
The judges described the podcast as "an outstanding production: entertaining, richly informative and professionally crafted".Judges said it made "great use of the internet to reach a specialist interest group, while remaining accessible to a far wider audience".
Alissa Cook, PR project manager at the RSPB, said: "More and more charities are using podcasts to reach out to supporters. We're delighted that ours has been recognised as one of the best in its field."
14 May, 2009
A fundraising mission to the summit of Mount Everest is auctioning off the bragging rights for the world's highest tweet to raise money for charity.
Mountaineer and philanthropist Gavin Bate, who is raising money for his charity Moving Mountains, has set up an eBay bidding page to auction off the chance to write the world's highest Twitter message to be sent from 29,000 feet above sea level. Using a satellite phone, Bate has been detailing his ascent to the Mount Everest summit on microblogging website Twitter.
The auction offers "One Tweet of your choice (140 characters max), sent by Gavin Bate via satellite from the top of Mount Everest" and is currently bidding at €72 (£65) with three days to go.
Bate is calling for marketers and PR firms to get involved in the bidding to promote their brands.
Money raised goes towards Moving Mountains, which helps street children in Nepal and Kenya.
Bate is at base camp at the summit, below the South Col or "death zone", 26,000 feet above sea level. Weather permitting, he excepts to climb the summit between May 18-24.
Yesterday, American astronaut Mike Massimino posted the first Twitter message from space, as the Nasa shuttle Atlantis entered orbit. @Astro_Mike's Twitter message read: "From orbit: Launch was awesome!! I am feeling great, working hard, & enjoying the magnificent views, the adventure of a lifetime has begun!"
More details on Bate's myeverestchallenge.com website.
12 May, 2009
Whether you are offering goods to buy online, selling publications or asking for membership payments, the shopping experience will determine whether customers will come back. Essentially, you need to make it easy for somebody to buy from you.
Make the product page as usable as possible. Consider using images, and add as many options as you can: users should be able to choose the number of items that display per page and whether to sort them by name, price and so on.
Allow customers to add items to their shopping carts before they register. This means they are engaged before they have to add their details. Add 'save my details' and 'return visitor' options to make them feel like real customers of your shop.
Make sure customers have easy access to their shopping carts and can easily make changes in them, such as deleting items and changing quantities. If customers cannot change what they are buying, they will cancel the whole process. Always use 'add to cart' buttons to encourage easy additions to baskets, and always make sure they are in a large font and visible without having to scroll down. Keep 'my account', 'shopping cart' and 'checkout' buttons clear, visible and above the fold.
Make sure the search function is clearly visible. When users are in the shop, their searches should return only shopping items, not items from other areas of the site.
Finally, if you sell items with size, colour or any other variables, allow customers to choose their preferences from drop-down lists to tailor their search results.
Diabetes UK has launched a fresh membership initiative designed to help the charity better engage with its supporters.
The scheme will allow members to choose the amount they donate to the charity as well as decide on their level of participation and the amount of information they receive.
Benefits of the fresh scheme will include a ‘supporting members only' area of the Diabetes UK website where members can take part in debates and discussions. Members will also be able to personalise their own home page with the content they like to access regularly.
Tailored information will also be available from magazines produced by the charity, such as Balance; it will continue to be published bi-monthly, but also include specialist supplements geared to diabetes type. Members will also be offered more flexible payment options.
With almost 170,000 members, Diabetes UK has the biggest membership of any health charity in the UK.
11 May, 2009
Twitter co-founder Biz Stone has quashed speculation that a sale of the messaging site is imminent and said his focus is to run Twitter as a profitable independent company.
Speaking exclusively to Media Week, Stone said he has no immediate plans to sell the micro-blogging site, contrary to speculation that a sale to Facebook or Google is imminent.
He said: "We're really optimistic about becoming a successful profitable independent company and we believe there's high potential here. That's something we really want to see through."
However, Stone did not rule out selling the business in the future and said while investors and board members also want to focus on making the company profitable before considering a sale, he has a responsibility to them to talk to potential interested parties.
Last week, Twitter rolled out a search box on users' homepages for the first time. The real-time search function may lead to introducing users to brands for a fee.
While Stone, a former Google employee, said a partnership with Google would be "wonderful", currently the search function will be powered by in-house search company Summize, which Twitter acquired last year.
Stone said Twitter is experimenting first with following patterns that are already being established by businesses, to establish how Twitter could add more value, but the company is drawing on Google's success in search.
He said: "We're looking at how we can help businesses get more value out of Twitter. One way is to introduce users to some of the organisations that are using Twitter for a fee."
Stone said the search function didn't have to be a huge commercial driver for the company initially, but conceded it "needs to show there are revenue potentials with Twitter".
To read the full exclusive interview with Biz Stone read tomorrow's Media Week (12 May)
07 May, 2009
Fears about digital targeted advertising system
Online charity YouthNet has raised concerns about a targeted advertising system that it fears will compromise the anonymity of people using its services.
The charity says Phorm, which tracks people's internet use and sends them personalised adverts based on their interests, could jeopardise the anonymity of those accessing its confidential information and support service www.thesite.org.
Jim Valentine, communities manager at YouthNet, said young people could be deterred from accessing information on sensitive issues such as self-harm, drink and drugs or sex and relationships because they might be afraid of influencing adverts on shared family computers.
A spokeswoman for Phorm, which has not yet gone live in this country, said the service would not allow adverts in categories including sexuality, adult content, medical conditions and alcohol and would not carry out user profiling in these areas.
06 May, 2009
Apple is poised to make an offer for Twitter in a $700m (£465m) deal that could come as early as June, according to reports.
Industry blog Valleywag claims an inside source at Apple is involved in advanced negotiations with Twitter, aiming to seal a deal by June 8, when Apple is due to host its Worldwide Developers Conference.
Last November, Twitter turned down a $500m offer from Facebook, although it was understood that the deal was composed of Facebook stock, the value of which was disputed.
Apple is said to be waving an offer of $700m in cash in front of Twitter, possibly edging out Google and Microsoft who have also shown interest in the popular microblogging website.
Apple recently completed a gushing business profile of Twitter which it posted online, titled "Twitter. Triumph of humanity."
The Valleywag blog post was written by editor Owen Thomas, who announced this month he is leaving the website to work for NBC.
05 May, 2009
Prince Charles is to launch a 90 second film promoting the Prince of Wales Rainforest Project on social networking sites, including YouTube and MySpace, this evening (May 5).
The Prince’s message also features celebrities including James Bond actor Daniel Craig, Harrison Ford Pele, the Dalai Lama and singer Joss Stone together with the Prince’s sons William and Harry.
The film is a call to arms to save the rain forests and urges the public to sign a petition.
The film was developed by advertising agency Hurrell Moseley Dawson Grimmer and is being hailed as the first time a member of the Royal family has partnered with social media platforms to promote a cause.
01 May, 2009
Twitter has rolled out a search function worldwide that will sit on users' homepages, as the micro- blogging site bids to drive commercial revenue.
In an exclusive interview with Media Week, Twitter founder Biz Stone said it would include a search box on users' homepage that will introduce users to brands for a fee.
Twitter has merged its real-time search function, search.twitter.com that was launched a few months ago, on to users' homepage.
The function will be powered by in-house search company Summize, acquired last year. Users can now search anything from brands to topics, to people that are being Tweeted about in real time, as well as allowing them to save their searches.
Stone said Twitter was experimenting first with following patterns that were already being established by businesses, to establish how Twitter could add more value, and was drawing on Google's success in search.
He said: "There is a lot of intent with search. Although we haven't specced it out yet, we have a hunch there's opportunity there, as Google has proven. We're looking at how we can help businesses get more value out of Twitter.
One way is to introduce users to some of the organisations that are using Twitter for a fee."
Stone conceded the search function didn't to have to be a huge commercial driver for the company initially but said it "needs to show there are revenue potentials with Twitter".