Saturday, December 19, 2009

What’s the story with blogging

We often feel the need to explain to our clients the difference between having a news module on their site and a Blog which can be integrated within their site or located on a separate domain.

As real time content has now made its way into the Google search results, this conversation is happening more often. Read this article from the 7th of December 09 from
The Official Google Blog, Relevance meets the real-time web.

Thus we thought to share you before the New Year, what we consider to be the top ten benefits of blogging. We will also share our thoughts on how to blog, what to write and how to measure ROI.

Sound good ? then read on...

Starter for ten on the benefits of blogging

1. Enables you to build your following into a community, your community.

2. Allows you to talk is a conversational manner – “One to One” rather than “One to Many” .

3. Increases your coverage in the search result pages.

4. Gives you an opportunity to be a thought leader / influencer.

5. You can submit your blog to separate blogging directories increasing reach further.

6. People may ask you to blog on their blog and vice versa – doesn’t generally happen with News content (One to many and no sharing or conversing opportunities).

7. Provides new opportunities to communicate with your target markets.

8. Allows your team to be involved with your online presence, inviting team members to join in with stories / blogs.

9. You can blog from your phone.

10. Encourage visitors to your site, increase sales, increase engagement etc etc.

The Barrier to blogging

The biggest barrier to most is “what do I write about” and “how do I blog”. So we thought to share with you some further tips, giving an example of a landscape gardener setting up a blog.

What would a landscape gardener write about on their blog?

About them – who they are (who is writing the blog), what they like (Classic Films, The Arts), what they blog about (Landscape Gardening, Design, Colour partners).

In general they would write Blog posts on information that will be useful to others examples below:

Show people with images what they have created (Landscaped gardens).

  • Explain why they placed lavender in with sage during their latest project.

  • Provide advice and invite questions to equip people to succeed with their own landscape garden plans.

  • Promote local landscape gardening groups.

  • Share their personal thoughts of recent visit to XY garden in the UK or design exhibition.

  • Review events they attended, which they had attended.

  • Discuss a new TV show you saw (Garden or Design related to keep focus), your opinions.

  • Engage readers with an event happening at their company, or perhaps encourage conversation over at another blog.

To sum up the key conversation areas are:

Show, Explain, Advise, Promote others, Share, Review, Discuss, Engage.

How to write the blog?

This part is simple as you as you simply: “Write it as you say it” ie: in a conversational tone. No one is really going to come to your blog and critique your grammar, however if this is important to you then ask a copywriter to check each post (we partner with a copywriting service for larger contracts).

Many people forget with the web you are actually talking to ONE person not MANY people, write the blog as if you were conversing. This is more engaging for the reader and also saves time too as you don’t need to be formal. Where possible let the text flow. Also consider non professional gardeners visiting your blog if mentioning Latin terms, mention English too. Don’t expect everyone to know what MULCHING is? (See the Wiki Pedia Guide to Mulch here)

How will this impact my business?

This is the big question.

To help measure ROI it is important that before writing any post consider the post’s objective, ie: do you want to encourage sales (of new type of plant? or service?) or is it to engage with your audience (your thoughts for school garden landscape competition) or do you want to write something that will be shared with many/retweeted/bookmarked to improve the ranking of your blog and site.

  • Reaching a sale on your site – write the post towards a call to action
  • Engaging audience – ask the readers questions
  • Bookmarking & Retweets – Write something compelling, funny, new that people will want to share.

Blog posts can simply be fun too eg: It was my birthday today, look at how many pieces of my cake are left, there are only 4 people working here! Let people know you are human.
You can throw in the odd bit of fun as long as you say to yourself, what is the goal of this? could you perhaps promote the local bakery in which the cake came from? With the goal of showing you care about / are involved in local community, maybe! What does this do? Well it builds trust with your consumer base as it shows you are open, honest and most importantly approachable.

Seeding out your content

Tip 1: Share blog post within your networks via RSS feeds, (find out more about
RSS here)

  • Send to Twitter
  • Send to Your Site
  • Send to other local business, perhaps place you information on their site and their news goes on yours.

Tip 2: Give consideration to the title of the blog post

When the RSS feed is fed out to the networks, the title needs to be engaging enough to make people want to click through. So please refrain from naming your blog titles: blog post 1, blog post 2, or January blog post etc.

Tip 3: Meet with us for help

We often help clients kick start their blogs (
social media campaigns) by meeting with them, talking about their company aspirations, goals, events of the year etc, then we go away and write up some blog posts for them. We encourage that blog posts come direct from the company or even better the individual running the company, however 7/10 times the company we are talking to, will not have the resource in house or the time. It is I am afraid a similar situation at Rocktime.

It is only when the community starts to build and the Managing Director/s see the results, then the available time to take the blog over or add more content come into play.

If you have a blog, have lost focus or simply need guidance on how to build your community further then please come in and
speak to the Flashlight Team to discuss your social media strategy.

Oh and the objective of this post, was to provide you with useful information and to encourage you to
CONTACT US to discuss your social media plans for 2010. See you next year ;)

Author: Sarah Griffiths

Wednesday, December 09, 2009

Geek Video of the month

Together with the New York Times and the Washington Post, Google is introducing an experimental way of presenting news online.

Using certain advantages of online publishing Living Stories (presented in above video) organizes information according to how stories are developing.

We've found it particularly interesting watching the stories coming in on Copenhagen Climate Summit (COP15), a great advantage is that that you can filter content by opinions, events, graphics, quotes. Which is a fantastic way (IMO) of receiving news.

Have a look, see what you think here:

If you are interested in real time news then Living Stories is one to keep an eye on.

Author: Sarah Griffiths

Friday, December 04, 2009

Xmas Themes

If you fancy getting into the festive season and use Firefox (Firefox: 2.0 – 2.0.0) as your browser. Why not get yourself in the holiday mood by adding an animated snowfall on your tool bar and add animated toolbar icons like fir trees and smoking chimney pots, fairy lights as scroll bars and many more.

Download and find out more about the Xmas Firefox theme here
Download and find out more about the Xmas Light Firefox theme here.

Alternatively decorate your colleagues !!

If you would like a bit of Christmas Sparkle on your website, contact our Rocktime sales team.

Friday, November 13, 2009

Bebo attempts to reinvigorate itself

I read this morning on the Guardian website that AOL –owned social networking site for Teens Bebo are downsizing their activities and have made the decision to stop commissioning new content. Which was once considered as being their future.

Statement from Media Guardian today: “Bebo is cutting jobs at its UK operation and freezing commissions from its web TV production arm, which has been responsible for groundbreaking shows including KateModern”

The online shows on Bebo included KateModern, Sofia’s Diary, The Secret World of Sam King and The Gap Year were a great idea in attracting teenagers to regular visit the site and also provided the Bebo profit pot with large sponsorship funds from a number of blue chip advertisers.

The spokewoman at Bebo said:

"We are in the process of re-aligning the Bebo business and need to make sure that our resources are aligned with our new business mode in order to execute effectively against our future vision and stay competitive. We are therefore required to make some difficult decisions about the future of our organization and its people in order to stay competitive."

The news isn’t surprising with sites like Facebook and Twitter powering ahead and attracting the Bebo audience to move over to them with word on the street of “I’ll Facebook you” or he “Twittered me” they have struggled to remain fashionable.

Although understandable in these economic times phasing out the online TV production unit is a shame in my opinion for the engagement levels on Bebo. Plus negative news for the fans of the shows. However saying that I am in total agreement with their decision to re-focus and re-align their core social media activities at this current time.

Let’s just hope they don’t take as long as MySpace, who saw a 55% decline in market share in the last 12 months !!

All the best of luck sent to Bebo to discover their alignment and establish their future strategy.

We will be watching the responses from Sophia Diary fans as it is phased out till the end of the year. The repercussion of closing the show may even spawn a new network a TV network open to all (YouTube?) we already have a number on online networks showing repeats of shows, maybe there is room in these domains for online only shows, certainly some interesting times ahead in broadcast media.

Author: Sarah Griffiths

Saturday, November 07, 2009

More British, More Homely, More cautious

The Generation Recession report from the Social Issues Research centre (commissioned by Friends Provident July 2009) has revealed that the recession has turned us all rather British and homely as we buy local (to help our economic climate) and highlights that 1 out of 3 Brits promote staying at home as the new going out.

As more people are choosing to stay at home, the appeal of social networking from your living room has increased, using sites such as Myspace, Twitter and Facebook. The study also revealed new “saving money” tactics and found that amongst those that are going out, that 21% of them make use of voucher codes to save on funds.

The report reviews (via focus groups and past recession feelings) how consumer’s habits have changed / are changing, how the British public feel about the recession, how we have all economised through nesting behaviour, how we have made cut backs in our spending habits and how our quest for the best bargain or deal has accelerated.

Another interesting point is that the study implies that the younger generation (under 25 reported to be the hardest hit by the crisis) will be moulded by the credit crunch and that formative experiences from their adolescence (9/11 attacks, London 7/7 bombings, 2004 Tsunami) will help shape Britain’s future, as perhaps they may have a greater sense of caution with finances and life in general.

There are some great comments from Poll respondents which will be of interest to a number of companies – take a look at the Generation Recession Report here.

In the meantime we have considered what the findings of this report will mean to website development and web marketing, and would like to share with you our Risdom (Rocktime Wisdom) recommending that you give consideration to the below points when outlining your web strategies:

  • Review current online and offline loyalty programmes and rewards
  • Social network with consumers in their homes (ie: Facebook)
  • Consider using voucher codes, voucher sites for product and service promotions
  • Make the younger generation feel valued online
  • Make offers clear & transparent and timely online
  • For larger purchases online, make it prominently clear that shopping service online is secure

Author: Sarah Griffiths

Thursday, November 05, 2009

Introducing the all new Google Dashboard

We already have THE geek video of the month, thought to share with you something new from Google, which we love and will find super handy. It is the new Google Dashboard, which lets you know what data is stored on your Google Account. The design is simple, it's consise and best of all easy to navigate.

We can actually see this format working for a number of our clients customers with access to more than one site area (Blog, Shopping, Forum etc).....hmmm. Let's get innovating further, to be continued.....

Thursday, November 05, 2009

Geek Video of the month

Our Geek Video of the month goes the iPhone app which allows motorists to drive a car using their mobile phone, developed by German researchers. It is pretty cool and very Kit car (Knightrider),

What would be better is an Iphone App which will direct your supermarket trolley back to the trolley bay when it's raining - now that is cool !!

Find out more over at the Telegraphs Motoring News here

Tuesday, October 27, 2009

Don't bore the search engines with duplicates

Google use canonicalization to pick the best URL when there are several choices, for example the home page may present:

Most people would consider these as the same URL, but technically they are different. Google will canonicalise a URL which means over time they will pick the one they think is the best.

You can make sure that Google picks the URL that you want them to pick, your preferred URL by using 301 redirects to tell the search engine the page has permanently moved (a 302 is a temporary move) you can also assist search engines by making sure all your onsite internal links point to the correct page.

If there are pages on your website that show identical content but different URLS due to tracking parameters, category navigation and comment parameters, then there is a way to tell the Search Engines which url you would rather them store. Within the code (behind the website) you can add a tag to specify your preferred version.

This standard can be adopted by all search engines crawling the site and URL properties such as page rank and related signals are transferred.

How this is displayed is outlined below:

link rel = " canonica l" href = " "
inside the section of the duplicate content URL/s:

and Google will understand that the duplicates all refer to the canonical URL:

(NB: You can also use a relative path to specify the canonical, also if you include a link in your document, relative paths will resolve according to the base URL)

The hypothetical work involved

1. You could change internal linking on logo (for example) to go to one address ie:
2. Add appropriate 301 redirects example: on the to the default URL
3. Update links to point to a single canonical page to ensure optimal canonicalization results

Speak to Rocktime if you need any further help with this.

Author:Sarah Griffiths

Monday, October 26, 2009

Increasing Blog Traffic

Ready, Steady, Share your Blog

A question we are often asked is "how can I increase traffic to my site" ? and more recently with the blogging phenomenon taking off "how can I increase traffic to my blog"?

Once you have created at least 3 - 4 posts on your corporate or personal (or both) blog, next step is to promote and share it further, a few simple tips are listed below:

• List your blog on a blogging directories such as Technorati (just put blog directory into Google)
• Comment on other blogs, everyone loves feedback and to know someone is reading their blog.
• Add your blog to your social network profile pages
• Make your content compelling so people want to link to it and talk about it
• Talk on real time topical subjects (appear in Google News results)
• Tell Google about your blog for blogger search (See: Webmaster Tools)
• Link to other blogs and hope for reciprocity (followers)
• Produce content for other blogs or websites or publications
• Bookmark your champion blog posts and encourage others to bookmark you to
• Tag your blog posts
• Pay for online advertising
• Add video's to increase reach further on Video search directories
• Be personal, let people get to know you - consider linking Google Sites to your blog for these pages.

It is important that the blog is not just there to participate in the blogging phenomenon but that it is related to specific business objective ie: to generate word of mouth around their company, their personal brand, encourage feedback etc.

Wondering which blogging platform to choose?

Need a bespoke blog integrated on your site? or a current of the shelf blog integrated with your site? talk to the Flashlight team or send in a general query on our contact us form.

Author: Sarah Griffiths

Monday, October 26, 2009

Managing your reputation online

Are you customers talking about you?

Main stream media is becoming less influential, less important, less of an effective channel to reach your audience. Social media marketing allows for more targeting; lets your campaign stay around for longer, as all media posted online can be “remembered” by search engines and anyone interested in what you are doing, where you have been and what comes next.

In talking to our clients about monitoring their social landscape, we have found that the most effective way to get “buy in” is to show them that people are already talking about their company online. After seeing that these discussions are taking place they begin to understand how important it is to be a part of the online conversation. Whether it is thanking people for positive feedback on a micro blogging site such as Twitter or responding to a customer query found on a Forum or Blog post.

We explain: Companies will have more control of these social spaces, if they join in and play their part: being helpful, approachable and most importantly honest. 9 out of 10 times companies find that they don’t have the resource and thus look to an agency like ourselves to help them.

Rocktime's role in Reputation Management
We help companies monitor their company reputation online, inline with their corporate objectives we create a social media plan, find their target markets and help them establish their social media tone of voice. As experts in social media we know that it is important to remember that these are “social” spaces and must be respected as such: people don’t want to be directly sold to in these spaces more advised or simply answered.

Along with monitoring social landscapes for clients and talking back to customers on behalf of the client, currently the Flashlight team are reviewing the advanced Reputation Management tools (now available) which provide more detailed reports to help monitor and manage the conversations. We will of course let you know which reputation management tool or tools we choose as a comment in this blog post.

What makes us happy

We are pleased that so many of our clients have embraced the opportunity to monitor conversations on their company in social spaces, under the corporate objectives:

Retaining customer loyalty
Enhancing company moral
Display continued commitment to improve

Monitoring reputations

Right now the Flashlight Team are monitoring their clients reputations in three ways these are explained below:

Search Engine Alerts

Creation of alerts on your company, service or product names by creating Alerts within Google and Yahoo. Results sent directly to email.

Blog Search

Review of the blogosphere, monitoring whether bloggers / online journalists are talking about the company, using blog only search engines such as:

Forum Search

Keeping tabs on Forum enteries, either by using “Show options” in Google and clicking on Forums or by using Forum and 'Answer Engine' search engines such as the below:

Final tip on reputation management online

Reputation management practices help Companies not only get an edge on the competition, but it will also allow them to keep moving their business forward. Before moving into this practice companies need to be ready to participate in the conversation and be ready to address customer issues and recommendations head on. The Flashlight team at Rocktime can help you establish your reputation monitoring plan and be your voice within the networks, feel free to get in touch.

"Reputation Mangement online is becoming a more and mroe important tool in
order to access what we do line and how it impacts on our brand positioning"
Alex McCreath (Director of Rocktime)

Author: Sarah Griffiths

Tuesday, October 20, 2009

Top Dog at Rocktime Digital Agency

Meet Kobi the office dog

Alex doesn’t realise that when he leaves his desk Kobi get’s allusions of grandeur.

Kobi spends most of his time in Alex’s office and when no one’s watching he likes to root around our office bins.

We are not sure what he is thinking right now, any thoughts !!

Tuesday, October 06, 2009

Geek Video of the Month

Fantastic five minute video which explains where Web 2.0 came from !! It was created by Michael Welsh, who is an Assistant Professor of Cultural Anthropology and Digital Ethnography at Kansas State University.

He explains how everything on the web is connected moving from technology into social structure, politics and art. The five minute show gives an excellent demonstration on how the Internet has evolved in connecting with others.

It is simply genius work for web fans like ourselves, we hope you like it. If there is anything that you simply don't get, then give us a call and we will explain it further.

Thursday, October 01, 2009

UK Online Audience and Social media statistics reviewed: Sept 09

Internet penetration in the UK is up 5% year on year to 72% with “the home and work active digital universe” numbering 43 million in the UK (Nielsen Online, January 2009). In comparison to the rest of Europe the UK has the most active online population, with the highest number of daily visitors (21.8m), the highest usage days per month (21 per user) and the highest average time spent on the web per month per user (34.4 hrs), (comScore June 2007).

"Online is not the medium of a new generation, but the new
medium for all generations"

The online population in the UK now reflects the demographic make-up of the UK as a whole, with a 52% / 48% male /female split. 21% of internet users are 25 to 34 years - and at the other end of the spectrum the over-50s now represent 30% of total time spent online (Source: IAB UK, 2008).

UK visits to News and Media sites are up 28% year on year and these industries are reported as having the second highest growth rate after online video (Hitwise, February 2009). These statistics further indicate that an increasingly amount of people are looking for information online. Google continues to be the most popular site in the UK (Nielsen Online, Feb 2008) and their new search features ‘Show Options’ is allowing people to be more savvy with their searching online, reviewing forum posts, news and reviews, (suddenly social media is in the main search results).

Social networks account for an increasing proportion of UK internet visits and they are also becoming an important source of traffic for other websites. People go online to socialise, to learn, to be entertained, to stay informed and to inform others and for the traditional web users they sometimes go online to buy products or services and learn about the products before they purchase or sign up. Social media and networking also encourages the building of communities: groups of people with common interests who are keen to interact with one another on matters important to them.

The Daily Telegraph reported (April 2009) that it receives 8% of its online traffic from social media sites such as news aggregators like Digg and Reddit, as well as Twitter, which is now becoming more popular with companies using it as a communication tool.

Interest in the social media tool in the UK has risen from 3% use to 49% use in just a year, (Guava UK Search Marketing Benchmark Report, April 2009). Many users of Twitter say that they find it “additive” and research has shown that the time people spend on the site has risen from just 10 minutes a year ago to half an hour now (Hitwise, January 2009), so evidence here that the audience are searching for chat/communication or for something new.

Visiting blogs has become more popular with the UK internet audience, with 41% of people in the UK visiting a blog once a month (comScore, August 09). Blogs have also performed well at driving traffic to websites: Hitwise (June 2008) reported that blogs drive 1.19% of all UK traffic, which is equivalent to one in every 84 visits to a site.

eMarketer (Jan 2009) predicts that social network ad spending is expected to reach around 4.4% of total online ad spending in the UK in 2009. This figure isn’t surprising, seeing that back in Oct 2007 social networks already accounted for 7.7% upstream Internet traffic to all other websites, making the category the second most important source of traffic after Search Engines (Hitwise Jan 2008).

All in all it is pretty exciting Autumn for search engines and social networks a like and we loving the work, get in touch if you would like us to set a social media or search strategy for you.

Author: Sarah Griffiths

Thursday, September 17, 2009

Key considerations: Affiliate Marketing

Recent Affiliate Marketing Statistics

The UK market for affiliate marketing grew by an estimated 45% in 2007, taking the total value of online sales generated through this channel to more than £3.13 billion. [Econsultancy, January 2008]

– Commissions and fees paid out to affiliate networks (covering payments for both networks and affiliates) amounted to £186 million in 2007, up 40% from £133 million in 2006 (and compared to £83 million in 2005).

The UK affiliate market was worth £3.82bn in 2008, a 22% increase from £3.13bn in 2007. An estimated £227m was paid last year in commissions and fees to affiliates and networks. [Econsultancy Affiliate Marketing Buyer’s Guide 2009].

What is Affiliate Marketing

Affiliate Marketing is a practice where other sites advertise your products or brand. These are called “affiliates” and in effect can be classed as an ‘online sales force’, a secret army to increase your conversions. Should a user then click through to your site from an affiliate site and make a purchase you pay the affiliate a commission on that purchase. Commissions vary from sector to sector, but I would expect to start at 2% to 5%.

Management, tracking and payment to affiliates can be handled direct with the affiliates but it is best practice for management to take place through an independent 3rd party; an affiliate network.

Affiliate networks handle all of the day to day tasks involved with operating an affiliate program. Along with you they make sure the ‘online sales force’ are happy.

They usually operate on a tiered management system, where you decide the level of involvement you require, from “basic” where they host your product information feed, pay the affiliates, provide an online management control centre, and then leave you more or less to it, to a managed account where they also provide an account manager who will dedicate time each month to optimising your program, acquiring high quality affiliates for you, Basically, actively promote your program.

There are a number of Affiliates networks out there each with a varying number of Affiliate clients. They all perform a similar function to a greater or lesser degree. They are generally judged or measured by the number of affiliates they have, the commission level they charge, and the service they provide to you.

Set up Costs:

Networks usually require a one off setup fee – usually £1,000 to £2,000.

Operating Costs:

Commission - Starts at around 5% - this is what is paid to the affiliate site and is percentage of the sale value.

Override fee - This is paid to the affiliate network – usually 30% of the commission paid to the affiliates.

Management – Depends on level of service required and network, but for a reasonable network £220 per month for basic package and £500 for managed.

Affiliate programs take time to become established but in the long term can be a highly cost effective method of customer acquisition.

Affiliate Marketing campaign goals

Consider the purpose/aim of your affiliate campaign:

• Bring new customers to the site• Deliver incremental business• Compliment existing advertising for brand recognition.• Build relations with your secret sales force

Choose approach

• Incremental sales and brand awareness – campaign structureUse Affiliate marketing to fit in with current campaigns, offers, top sellers. Maximise HALO effect of other marketing media

• Steady sales – flat structureProvides consistent volume of traffic from the affiliates based on small number of ads. Disadvantage of this is that Affiliates can become complacent and tiered commission level remains the same even if products become uncompetitive.

Compliment existing advertising

When using Affiliate marketing to integrate with other online activity and when looking for incremental sales, consideration needs to be given to the below:

• % AD spend: Fixed budget versus unlimited
• Channel conflict: Agency PPC vs Affiliate PPC
• Brand Management: Volume v Control
• Measuring effectiveness: Cost per acquisition and Return on Investment

Monthly reporting can include

• Success of creative and changes required, creative held on central hub
• Sales funnel analysis
• Review quality of customers by each affiliate
• Long term profitability by individual affiliates
• Maintain creative consistency across all affiliate sites
• 30 – 90 day review of affiliate sites.
• All the above working to a 90 day plan from launch – and into the future, be ready to surprise your Affiliates with some great offers.

Need any more information, speak to Rocktime.

Author: Sarah Griffiths

Thursday, September 17, 2009

Facebook Statistics August 2009

The site has more than 250m active users globally

More than 120m users log on to Facebook at least once each day and more than 30 million users update their statuses at least once each day. Combined, more than 5bn minutes are spent on the site on a daily basis.

The average user has around 120 friends on the site.

Every single month, more than a bn photos are uploaded to the site.

More than 50 translations are available on the site, with more than 40 in development.

Mobile is a big issue, with more than 30m active users accessing the site through mobile devices. It's well documented that users who access Facebook through mobile devices are almost 50% more active than those who don‘t.

[All sourced: Facebook, August 2009]

Wednesday, August 05, 2009

Introducing the New Web Developer

Daniel Griffiths (AKA: Dan or Danny) started at Rocktime this week, we thought to ask him lots of random questions and share the answers with you. Find out what the above picture relates to below.

What is your current job at Rocktime? : Web Developer

What does being a web developer involve? : Learning as much as possible and excelling in all things web development

What is on your mouse pad? : Was I suppose to bring one in?
(Readers: Anyone want to send Danny a mouse mat! feel free too)

Were you named after anyone? : Nope

What book are you reading? : At the moment, “Iain Banks – Whit”.
(Dan: The Times provided this review: 'Fierce contemporaneity, an acrobatic imagination, social comment, sardonic wit.the peculiar sub-culture of cult religion is a natural for Banks, and Luskentyrianism is a fine creation' - sounds interesting)

What was the last CD you bought or downloaded!? : Haven’t listened to it yet – The Wrens. A suggestion by my girlfriends dad.

What is your favourite sport? : Pool

Are you any good at crabbing? : No
(Dan: Before the summer ends there will be Rocktime crab off down at Poole Quay, so best get your practice in)

What is your favourite kitchen item? : That thing you use to stir spaghetti with. It looks a bit like a clawed hand...

If you were a crayon what colour would you be? : Green

Which do you prefer sushi or a hamburger? : Hamburger

What do you do most often when boredom strikes? : Go to the pub

If you could go on holiday to anywhere in the world where would it be? : Iceland, I’ve never met anyone from Iceland. I want to know what they’re accent’s like
(Dan: For Icelandic accents: watch this Bjork interview on You Tube)

Do you have a special talent? : I can juggle pretty well...
(Dan: Excellent, that's Rocktime's Xmas meal entertainment sorted then!!)

Wednesday, August 05, 2009

Geek video and viral video advert of the month

If you like power and you like speed then our Technical Director,
Kieron Matthews says that you will love this video
from Samsung, non geeks: watch out for the Jargon alert !!

If you like dancing babies then Sarah Griffiths our Search
Marketing Manager and Viral Fan says you will love, love,
love this viral advert from Evian published as part of their
Live Young campaign (Genius).

Friday, July 31, 2009

The internet = tremendous opportunity if it’s measured

Not only does the Internet provide us (as consumers) with a fantastic opportunity to find a wider choice of products, services and special offers from a number of suppliers. For organisations it provides the opportunity to reach more target markets, compete on equal footing with a number of larger organisations, trial and test uptake of new products and services online as well as expanding corporate propositions to new markets.

Via the web, you can spread the word about your company, your products or services as much as you like, there will be a portal out there with your target markets name on that you can advertise to at cost (of possibly for free).

Perhaps you wish to be found for every key phrase variation available for your product using a pay per click model or you wish to run umpteen podcasts to show your expertise of a particular service.

Whichever avenue you wish to market your products or services online, you must always come back to three key questions:

1. How will the Internet help me meet my corporate objectives?

2. Will the marketing avenues I have chosen provide me with enough visitors in which to meet the goals outlined in the marketing plan?

3. How effective are the marketing avenues chosen? What conversion rates have we seen in the past?

Rocktime can work with you to help answer those questions to help you reach your business goals, targets and objectives.

We have even developed a ROI Sales calculator to help you maximise on your return on insight.

Check it out here:

Rocktime Sales Funnel Calculator

A few people have told us they have used it, to help get funds realised for further marketing activity from the top table. Once you have completed the funnel, there is a button to enable you to print these results too.

The ROI Sales Funnel asks you to look at your required visitor numbers against your marketing spend and your current online conversion rates of leads/enquiries and sales to determine the effectiveness of a particular channel or channels by calculating an estimated ROI for your marketing efforts.

Feel free to talk to our sales & marketing team about how you can take the information you currently have and turn that data into internet marketing strategy.

Contact Rocktime Sales & Marketing

There are several other ways in which you can measure Internet effectiveness such as:

  • Use, review, report and review again your web stats using Web Analytics (link to post coming soon)
  • Monitor customer retention rates (% of people using the website each month)
  • Review website engagement rate
  • Take note on uptake on sale calls mentioning website
  • Consider increase or decrease (cost avoidance) number of online emails
  • Set up focus groups and surveys on / about your site
  • Use online Mystery shoppers

Feel free to talk to us further about any of the above.

Author: Sarah Griffiths

Wednesday, July 22, 2009

The day/ week everyone spoke about book stores, book publishers & E-readers

Every journalist has gone nuts for E-readers this week, with recent technology research (from research firm iSuppli) finding that the global E-book display market is expected to grow to $291 million in 2012 from $3.5 million in 2007. Plus launches of new e-book readers worldwide and news of positive performance year on year for UK book store’s such as Waterstones & Borders.

Waterstones are also due for a new website launch and recently Comscore reported news that Borders UK unique users increasing by 176% between May 2008 and May 2009, (from 61,000 to 169,000). Good news with the recent notification of close down of five Borders Flagship stores this week.

Plus we saw stories such as:

“Blackwell are launching eBook download store”

“Amazon are preparing a UK launch of the Amazon Kindle”

“US publisher Barnes & Nobile are launching the world’s biggest electronic book store to compete with a similar service offered by web retailer Amazon”

“Google’s pending federal court case which would/could allow them to release millions of books in e-book format”

“The launch of the Sony Reader and the Cool-er E-reader from Interead and stories that they could galvanize the market for digital text in the way the Apple’s Ipod did for digital music”

And the cherry on top

An article today from Retail week in which they summed up the development of the electronic book sector in article titled “Digital media sales raise new customer service questions for retailers” check it out.

What is an E-reader / E-book?

If you haven’t worked it out already: An E-reader or E-book is an alternative to the paper book, and has been popular with travellers and those who don’t want to carry around heavy books, so they opt for a lighter weight electronic book or e-book.

As well as being a handy gadget to have, the E-reader (of E-books) also presents a valuable opportunity for publishers and authors to generate income from their content. It is anticipated that take up will grow during the Xmas months, so expect to see E-readers in magazines and on TV adverts near a sofa near you soon.

Recent news and New news on E-readers and E-books

Currently the journalists are all talking about digital rights of E-books and the technologies behind each reader and of course the battles to Xmas market.

So we thought we would take a different take on this weeks “Hot Topic” and talk about how companies such as Waterstones, Borders, Sony, and Interead (launched the Cool-er Reader – they make reading cool) can use social media to help them build their community of followers.

It will be a challenge for the above companies to market their differences and in the same breath it will a challenge for consumers to know which E-reader to choose.

Thus we propose that to stay ahead of the game, one of the companies should quickly align themselves as being the one which provides the most help, advice and information to enable the customers and the authors (don’t forget the authors) to get the most enjoyment out of their reader and hopefully the biggest range of books.

What marketing tool can help with this. Well social media of course. Social media & social networking will allow for viral messaging of these new gadgets / technologies; information sharing; flattening those hierarchy’s and most importantly help build a community of loyal fans and followers.

As with all our projects firstly we will review the digital landscape. Lets look at how authors, publishers and avid book fans are using social media right now, we will then recommend an initial social strategy, which we hope will be of interest to those thinking about setting up a social strategy themselves.

Social networking : the authors role & the publishers role

Historically writers do not perform in the public in the same way as musicians for example, the publisher has always been the intermediary. However it is part of the authors DNA to be creative and many authors are now using social media tactically as a way to promote their books, a great advantage of doing this is that they start to build up and audience for the long term.

Authors are also using social media as a way to keep the buzz of the book alive. Rocktime Social envisages that a number of authors will have Google Alerts and Twitter Alerts set up, so that they know when people are talking about their books online (Ego-tastic!). It is important for authors to participate with comments on the web as it is here that they can then create positive word of mouth and turn those who may not have liked the book around (possibly).

There is also evidence of large publishers using social media effectively for example Penguin Books and their launch of Penguin 2.0 services back in Dec 2008, they are using digital and social media tools to connect with their customers, which includes aspects of customisation, personalisation, delivery to mobile phones as well as e-books and e-only content.

Social networking helps boost an authors esteem

Social networking is helping boost an Authors raison d’etre and recently we have seen signs that it can also help keep the story alive. Crime Thriller Author (and former Marketing Executive) Jeff Abbott, placed the Hero of his new book on Twitter, in which he is sharing updates of character Luke Dantry’s life on the run . Several authors use Blogs and Myspace for book promotion and updates on new releases, recently they have also now started to promote more their other social spaces (inc: Facebook & Twitter).

Social steps for E-Book providers

Based on the above information it is proposed that those who distribute E-books and E-book readers should promote their products within these social networks.

To understand more about the benefits of social media and how social netowrking can be measured visit this blog post for an introduction to social media strategy from Rocktime Social or call Rocktime’s Marketing team to talk it over.

Recommendation: Capturing publishers & authors & keep customers coming back

To capture the eye of the publishers & authors it is suggested that sites providing E-readers and E-books create an area which is useful for both authors and readers alike.

Based on the above insights initially we would propose that the providers place a new category on their site for them to provide author profiles which will includes lists and links to the authors social spaces (helping them spread awareness) and update (automatically – RSS feeds) fans of new author profiles along with promoting new catalogues & books as they arrive.

Doing something that is both different and useful on your site, will keep the community coming back.

Hey: How about digital book signing, or a collection of books you recommend for a loved one (now that is an idea!).

Promote the E-book company & authors in natural search

Providing profile pages for authors will not only help build relevancy (Search Engine Optimisation (SEO) strategy) on your site, promoting you in natural search, but will also promote authors. Rocktime have developed a proven model of a site owner promoting others, with Local Food Advisor website in which the focus of promotion on the site is on local food producers, the owners of LFA are being social by promoting food lovers blogs and getting the food lovers to promote the LFA site in return.

Please note: Rocktime are not advising(unless of course you have a huge social media budget) that the E-book providers branch out into forums of public debate about new books, delayed releases, but to simply promote authors social spaces and to leave any backlash about killed off heros in the Authors own social space.

How social media and social networking can help E-book providers now

Before the E-book providers build a community of fans, social media & social networking can help the providers of E-book readers right now, with Reputation Management of comments in news stories/ forums/networks. It is important that they are ready to respond. Rocktime can assist here with ongoing management of your social strategy.

How they can be ready to respond is simply: Create a whole host / heap of questions and answers on your site, even if you are advertising the answers in magazines and other PR material.

Q: Does the E-book reader care about what computer you plug it in to?
A: No

They can then provide links to these answers saving time, promoting the most frequent Q&A on the home page. Address all issues. Even list them at the side of your twitter account, saving time answering repetitive questions is a great cost avoidance strategy (in the long term).

Summary of E-book providers using social media and social networks

Along with using social media to target the various book title categories, social networks can also help them target the gadget fans and fashion & design fans as well as travellers and avid readers.
Social media will help E-book providers and E-book distributors to promote their company values and enable them to be whoever they want to be ie: honest, approachable, helpful, sensitive, useful and authentic online.

Once a community is formed there are also great forces for fun and creativity in future months, years, further creativity will be gleamed from communicating with fans and followers.
We will be watching the E-reader market with interest, which one will get the followers, the fans, only time will tell (well by end of year).

Author: Sarah Griffiths, Search Marketing Manager at Rocktime & self confessed social media junkie and fan of Jeff Abbott. (Find her on twitter @sarahgriffiths – and if you liked this post let her know)

Monday, July 20, 2009

Beating the Cyber Bullies

Recently the BBC News interviewed Cisco fellow Patrick Peterson and ran the findings in a story titled ‘Cyber Crook gets business savvy’, Patrick Peterson said cyber criminals were increasingly acting like virtual MBA (Master of Business Administration) students.

He also pointed out that big news stories are a gold mine for Cyber Crooks and used Michael Jackson as an example, stating that when everyone was searching for stories of his death, the cyber crooks are busy creating news copy or video memorabilia to trick the users onto the infected sites.

He noted a huge increase in spam email messages recently and has concerns of spam coming in via mobile phones (‘smishing attacks’), suggesting that phone users will trust a message from their bank via SMS (text message) more than receiving an email with links to verify account ownership.

As we are moving to a more open, simple communication structure of the web, where trust is encouraged in new social network communities, it is important that we all follow some key tips to help beat the Cyber Crooks, then we can stay one step ahead of the fraudsters:
Please find our tips for internet security below:

Ten tips to beat the cyber crooks in no particular order:

1. Make sure you use hard-to-guess passwords, not ones with obvious personal links, such as your birthday or the name of your street. Good passwords include a combination of upper and lower-case letters, numbers and other characters.

2. Change your passwords often and use different passwords for different accounts

3. Make sure that you use an up to date browser and update security patches in your operating system. For Windows users there is a quick and easy way to update your system, click on 'Windows Update' from the programme directory or point to this link, which will take you straight into updates currently available for you to download:

4. Make sure you turn your computer's firewall on and, if you are using Windows, set up your computer to automatically download new security patches from Microsoft.

5. Install and update anti virus software regularly. Use a programme which will scan all files on your system once a week and delete the infected ones.

6. Never download email attachments from people you do not know or trust. Avoid attachments that you were not expecting, even if they are from a known source.

7. When receiving an email, look at the destination URL before you click it, here is an example if you scroll over this link: Rocktime Twitter and look in the status bar at the bottom of the browser, you will see that the link above is actually going to and not our Rocktime social twitter account.

8. Never click on links sent via SMS text messages if you are not certain that you have received a valid text from a valid company.

9. Back up your data regularly

10. Log off when you’re done for the day (Remember you are most vulnerable when you are connected to the Internet, if there is not a good reason to remain online then disconnect).

Final note from our Technical Manager at Rocktime, Andy Clarke

There are many factors we (Rocktime) take in to account when creating web sites and web applications. Some of these include making sure that the site is protected from SQL injection or cross-site scripting attacks. These are mechanisms that malicious users could use to either manipulate data stored in a database or to trick users in to submitting data to a different website than the one they think they are visiting.

One of the ways we protect our sites from these types of attack is to make sure that all user entered data is properly filtered to remove any potentially halmful code before it is stored or shown to a user.

Rocktime are not an Internet security company and if you do need additional assistance in securing your corporate network we would advise you contact Blue Chip Data Systems on +44(0)845 034 7222

Friday, July 17, 2009

Are you running an event or are you attending one why not live blog it!

Two situations when you may want to live blog from a meeting, conference, event, concert etc. Anything that is live and includes people really !

Situation 1:

You are at an event, let's say it's a conference. Some people can't make the conference, you are having an amazing time (!) and want to tell your colleagues and friends what is being discussed. What do you do? Live Blog it of course.

Situation 2:

You are hosting an event, again let's say it's a conference. Some key people that you wanted to attend can't be there, so you invite them remotely (via the web or mobile) so that they can join in with the discussions, ask questions for you to ask, comment on what is being said etc. You can also ask your attendees at the event to chat back (via web) to the non attendees. (Preferably in the break, as it's a bit off putting if all have their mobiles tapping when the speaker's on). Get all whom are interested involved.

Does the above sound unreal to you, well it's not and probably happens more than you know it. Here is a little explanation to those of you who are new to the Live Blogging phenomenon and explains how a number of packages are available to use (for free) online to help you stream events in real time and keep the event alive after the show has ended.

About Live Blogging

Live Blogging allows those not at the event to event to participate remotely, it could also help facilitate conversation between attendees, along with providing a place in which they can discuss the content further.

It wasn’t too long ago, that a few of us at Rocktime were sending in comments to the G20 submit (The Times Live blogged as did several other papers) via Twitter in the day and the evening live blogging Alan Sugar’s The Apprentice, which basically involved watching the programme and sending in comments to a (brought together by) social media community, posting who you thought was going to get the pointed ‘you're fired’ finger.

If you don’t need to create a community via social networks and have a list of members or fans already, then a Live Blogging platform will create more value to your already formed community, as it fosters commitment amongst the volunteer members/ fans.

There are various web based options for live blogging your event available these are outlined below some more “real time” (live) than others. If you have a particular requirement that is not covered below, talk to us about it, as with our experience & bespoke approach it’s more than likely we will be able to help you.

How to blog your live event / how to live event your blog

Basic level: Draft a post of the event and add photos and publish this to your site (accept comments)

Stream live video segments from the event using your computers webcam, using something like: U Stream TV discuss happenings using Twitter and #Hashtags

Live blog from the event, sending watchers photos and comments in real time using web based tools such as: Scribble Live integrate with Twitter, export the data and archive (for after event reference).

Live blog from the event using software such as Cover it Live, which will integrate with Twitter, allow you to put the event on your own site, providing real streaming on panellist comments, reader comments, polls, images all in real time, export the data and archive.

If you are potentially interested in live blogging; then you may want to bookmark this page for future reference, as sure we will add some more web based tools to this page in the near future.

Perhaps you are setting up a live blog yourself, if so tell us about it and we will lurk/watch and contribute if relevant.

Keep it real make it live.

Author: Sarah Griffiths

Tuesday, June 30, 2009

Introduction to Social Media Strategy

Blogging, Podcasting, Video, Microblogging (Twitter, Plurk, Tumblr), Forums all help facilitate communication, being out there can help you get ahead in business and keep up with the “online & active”.

It is important to note that setting social media strategy and defining a space should not be seen as a tactical solution, rather it requires ongoing nurturing and development to become a long – term fertile ground for developing new members and fans. Networking online is similar to building human relationships they do take time and sometimes can require some patience.

Networks are also about sharing, you need to give yourself time to share your content and comment back on others.

Rocktime advise clients to listen to their target market first before setting social strategy, through this listening you may identify new social avenues which perhaps without the knowledge you may not have considered.

Social networking insights can not only help you build on your networks of interaction but can also help you deliver new tools for your customers on real time recommendations. The review of your social landscape and projection of ideas form part of what Rocktime define as “Social Media Tool Kit”.

Success of social strategy can be defined both qualitatively and quantitatively, not only how many people interact with social media but what impact it had on them.

The simplest measure of success is the number of people who become members, who are following you, and where applicable who have downloaded a badge or widget. These figures can then be cross referenced with page views to give an indication of ‘stickiness’ or how long the site held the user’s attention. Comments and other contribution allow us to monitor participation rates.

Rocktime offer ongoing maintenance and management of social media to a number of clients & industries, talk to us to find out more.

There are many social media sites within the social media landscape, industry predicts more niche networks will appear as popularity of social networking increases. Rocktime help their clients follow these trends and help manage connections between these networks.

Seeding and promotion is a crucial element in generating interest around your social media approach. There are a number of seeding opportunities, but most importantly, we need to take you where the audience currently are.

Rocktime can provide your company with the below:

Review of your companies or product current social landscape

Provision of advice on how social media can help your company to achieve their goals & manage their reputation

During an initial three month period, assist you and your colleagues to understand the connections between the various social networks

Provide recommendations for social future & social marketing plans by identifying new areas in which you can join in with the conversation and how to find people to join in the conversation with you.

If you want to find out more about setting social media strategy or social networking strategy then please do call Rocktime and ask to speak to Sarah, or catch up with her on Twitter @sarahgriffiths