What’s exciting in Social Media right now?

The pre-election period means there’s a lull in blog posts at work so I thought tonight that I could blog for my own pleasure and share some of the things that are interesting me in the land of social media and marketing right now.


  • Live broadcasting is massive right now! Twitter are to stream NFL games live via their Periscope app and Facebook are in the process of expanded their Facebook Live trail out to all users. A few high profile content creators have been paid by Facebook to use their platform (including the Game of Thrones red carpet evening) and it seems to work well. From a viewer’s point of view the incessant notifications and awful map of who is live right now (without any filtering) are both in serious need of some user experience work but the overall UI for a viewer is pretty good. A few tools are already popping up – I can’t wait to check out BumeBox live prompter – it looks like a great way to keep things organised when doing a live cast. Remember to read the best practice tips! Bonus: here’s what it’s like when the Zuck turns up in your office.
  • Encryption is a hot topic right now and WhatsApp have just announced end-to-end encryption on their messaging app. There’s a huge debate as to whether or not law enforcement agencies should have access to messages (and how that should be managed locally, nationally or internationally) and I think that this will continue to be a newsworthy topic for some time to come.
  • Campaigns for use of Plain English have been going since the 1970s but as the internet grows and its demographic expands to include a greater number of non-English speakers the need for using simple language grows. Although it’s an arbitrary and somewhat silly limit, the EasyWrite text editor limits you to only the 1,000 most commonly used English words… fun as an experiment but it proves an interesting point.
  • In-app video ads are growing in popularity… and research shows that users actually like using video ads as a way to pay for in-game content. I agree that this has the potential to benefit marketers (who see higher engagement from video ads), users (who pay for content with time/eyeballs rather than cash) and game developers (who have the potential for more ad revenue) but I also think that it could be massively detrimental to the game experience if not handled correctly. There still needs to be an improvement in how the user interaction of ads in games and advertisers need to appreciate that they aren’t necessarily going to target someone on the right medium at the right time but that person may still be warm to them. Ad networks need to work on offering a “I’m playing a game right now, but hit me again in an hour” button! (Read the report/summary)


Adding a ribbon to your site

You may have spotted ribbons on the top right (or even, horror of horrors, on the top left) of some webpages. The trend started with charity ads but now loads of sites use them to link out to related content. Well the fabulous peeps at Quick Ribbon will make (and host) yours for you for free. Check out mine on the homepage (I’ve taken advantage of it to link out to my Twitter feed since I’m starting to use Twitter more and more these days).
Have fun making your own.

How To Market Your Startup – SEO On A Tight Budget

A year and a bit ago I attended BarCamp in Edinburgh. At the time I put together a short presentation (which I ended up not presenting due to personal time constraints) but a year on I thought I’d share my thoughts on how to market a product/service on a tight budget and with as little effort as possible.

When it comes to setting up and promoting a new site the key is working Search Engine Optimisation principles into your site from the start.

  • URL choice: with most startups the URL is an essential part of the name choice. For SEO I recommend doing a bit of Googling – don’t choose a name that about a million other companies share with you (if you can possibly help it). Hosting sites will tell you if domain names are available in bulk (so don’t spend ages going to a URL then changing the TLD (end bit) from .com to .co.uk to .org etc). Some of the domain name generators can be surprisingly good. Try to find something that sums up your product and is memorable.
  • Once you’ve bought your domain it’s time to put something up there. This is the point where lots of new sites often fail – do not put up a page saying coming soon or site under development. Instead you should put some real content – even if it’s just your initial sketch or an extract of a bit of code. You should start telling people about your product right from the start – there won’t be any hype if people don’t have anything to talk about! Google take a while to index sites so putting some keyword/brand name rich content up early on will help cement your site’s position in search engines.
  • Even if you only have a small amount of content and haven’t got much time or money you can still upload a free blogging platform with a basic template. People will happily look at your content even if it’s on a plain/boring looking site if you’ve got something interesting to say/show.
  • Don’t forget the basics – you really want people to be able to contact you. A contact form isn’t hard to put together but it’s surprising how many sites don’t even have an email address on them!
  • Word of mouth is a key part in promoting a new enterprise but it doesn’t have to be hard work (especially not if you’ve got something interesting on your hands). If you’re already on a social network then start by letting your friends and colleagues know about what you’re up to and move on from that and drop a polite email to sites that you think might be interested in featuring you: check out Technorati’s list of popular blogs if you need some help finding blogs in your desired market. If you put effort into slides, publicity, interviews or content make sure you blog about it and if another site is nice enough to write about you then link to their article and give some thanks for their love!

If you have any other comments about SEO on a budget or marketing a startup I’d love to hear your thoughts in the comments.

Bookmarklets Worth Checking Out

With the inception of websites providing services it’s become increasingly often that you’re on one site and want to do something to it’s content using the service of another site. The good news is that Bookmarklets can help you do this.

But how do Bookmarklets work?
Drag a Bookmarklet to your bookmarks bar and it will create a handy button to press when you’re in need. Click it and a little bit of JavaScript will work some magic. Try one of these bad boys out…

Google Translation
Drag your language to the tool bar and press it whenever you need to translate a webpage.

Share in Reader
Instead of blogging about a blog you can just share it with your Google Reader friends.

Bookmark it
Bookmark sites straight into your Google Bookmarks without having to install the Google Toolbar.

Make webpages more readable
Press the magic button and create text only versions of webpages.

Subscribe in Google Reader
Don’t spend ages looking for the RSS button.

Shorten that URL
Create short URLs for Twitter and the like.

For more info check out the Bookmarklets website.

10 Annoying Things You Need To Know About Twitter

Twitter’s a big deal right now. So you’ve heard all the good stuff about microblogging in 140 characters but here’s a short list of the most annoying things about Twitter.

  1. The site is down. Lots. (And by lots I mean almost every day).
  2. Lots of programs/sites automatically “update” their Twitter feed (read “spam it to death”). From updates telling you which song your friend is listening to to websites telling you that people are looking at certain products Twitter can be a whole heap of irritating. (Time to Block them!)
  3. A metric cartload of Twitter accounts are trying to sell stuff, and a lot of this comes via (automatic) Direct Messages when you follow someone. (Block!)
  4. Shortened URLs don’t tell you what site the link is taking you to so you have to click it to see… inevitably you’ll already have seen it or you wouldn’t have clicked it if you’d seen the real URL first.
  5. Twitter breaks websites (or, more accurately, if you see a link from Stephen Fry or Neil Gaiman the chances are that the site will be down by the time you click on it).
  6. Some people think that the point of Twitter is getting the maximum number of followers. This is not the case. The point of Twitter is to interact with people. (Sucks to be them… block).
  7. Some profiles are distincly lacking in profile pictures or bio info – come on… it’s not that hard to write about yourself!
  8. Some followers are robots and are just plain annoying. (Block)
  9. People expect you to follow them back. You don’t have to! How can you expect people like Stephen or Neil to follow 200,000 people and read all of their Tweets? Seriously?
  10. Some people have nothing interesting to say. (That’s what the Unfollow button is for!) Twitter’s interface is severely lacking in some features. No ReTweet button, URLs aren’t auto-shortened when posting, URLs aren’t auto-lengthened when reading, hashtags aren’t links etc.

Song of the day #365 – Johnny Cash

Johnny Cash – Folsom Prison Blues (Live from S.Quentin)
Today is the 365th “Song of the day” – that’s one for every day of the year so I think I’ll stop there for just now. It’s coincidently the 5 and a half year anniversary of Johnny Cash’s death. Song of the day started with Richard singing “Ring of fire” around the office and the rest of us trying to find different music to listen to so it’s only appropriate that the man in black gets to cap off a year and a half of blog posts. [Bonus cartoon]