Tuesday, December 21, 2010

Wishing you a Merry Christmas

From all of us at Rocktime we would like to thank you for your valued business during 2010.

Our Christmas and New Year Shut down times are listed over at our Contact Us page.

We are looking forward to blogging some more into 2011 and sharing with you more tips, insights and fun on topics relating to our Team, Web Development, Ecommerce, Social Media, Mobile Marketing, Web Analytics, Web Consultancy, iOS applications, Mobile apps, Search Marketing, Campaign Objectives, Conversions and not forgetting all things Geek.

Don’t forget if you ever want to find out more about our experience with the above feel free to call in to speak to one of our sales managers or visit one of our regularly updated pages:

Rocktime News
What we do
What we’ve done (Case Studies)

Wishing you all a very Merry Christmas & successful New Year

Author: Alice Cheetham

Monday, December 13, 2010

Demo 2010 and the power of Social Media

As a fresh post-graduate from University into the big wide world, with several friends still in academia, I've been watching the tuition fee debate with more then a passing interest. Whilst the student protests in London may have been a huge part of raising awareness of the debate, a protest of 20,000 people isn't a simple case of asking your mates to put together some witty placards and gather up in central London.

Looking behind the scenes of these student protests highlights how much of a big player Social Media can be in raising awareness. The BBC recently wrote up an article on 'How Social Media changed protest', demonstrating how Social Media has changed the nature of modern protest.

I made an attempt at reading the #demo2010 tag on twitter, the prefered hashtag for protest updates. I'm not kidding when I say it was impossible. I have no idea of any official statistics (yet), but I can tell you it updated faster then I could hope to keep up with it.

If you were keeping up with the news, you might have heard of the UCL Occupation, as you might be able to guess from their name, they were students occupying the Unversity College of London in protest of the raise in tuition fees. They did do a fantastic job of raising awareness and even lending a helping hand with the protest groups, all through the power of networking.

What was the key to their success?

The BBC article mentioned above, called the UCL Occupation "a different kind of radicalism, armed with a laptop", as they were able to get their voice out there through as many means as possible. Not just an active Blog and Twitter account, but a Flickr stream, Google Calender detailing all their meetings and debates and a whole ream of videos to do with all aspects of the debate - constantly being uploaded to their Youtube account, and then plugged in their blog where relevant.

What started as a Blog and Twitter account attracted the attention of the media, with a live stream to news channels as well as local radio interviews, giving further publicity.

During the last day of protesting, @UCLoccupied turned their twitter-networking into protest-coordinating. Using Google maps and information from tweets by protesters across London, they were able to construct a near enough real-time updating map of London, detailing Police blocks, road closures and even cases of public disorder and trouble spots.

You can't help but admire how one small group of individuals armed with laptops, wifi and internet know how manged to contribute so much.

I'm not saying you should be trying to rally 10,000 students to your cause with the power of a hashtag, but this whole scenario does help highlight how powerful a tool Social Media can be.

I am pleased to say that the Flashlight Team here at Rocktime have bags of experience in rallying up the troops and conducting Social Media in a safe and social manner.
If you would like to talk to them some more more about social media management please don't hesitate to give them a call.

Author: Alice Cheetham

Thursday, December 09, 2010

The Future of Search: "Mobile will be big"

Thought to share with you this video from this time last year, when Matt Cutts (Google's Head of Webspam team) answered questions about the future of search in the next few years.

He ends the video with a few words about mobile search, saying that he sees a lot of potential growth in that area of search. "You're going to see all kind of changes, but mobile going to be a big part of it".

We are currently building sitemaps in Google Webmaster Tools to assist our clients ranking in the Google Mobile Index. Videos seem to appear quite often, wondering (as early days) if we should create a YouTube video to link to our own mobile site..,Hmm now that's a thought.

We have heard from our friends in search that the Google Mobile spiders takes about 2 weeks to find your site (after submission of sitemap) we will be keeping an eye on him and will feed back our learnings.

During Google Searchmasters Conference 2009 one of the presentations we saved: was 'Building mobile friendly websites' you can view this here on Google Docs and then save as PDF.

If you want to talk further about the future of mobile for your business, feel free to give our sales team a call. We are going slightly mobile crazy here at Rocktime right now, so we will share new mobile web statistics shortly.

Author: Sarah Griffiths

Monday, December 06, 2010

Geek Video of the month

Motion sensing is probably one of the big modern fads of the moment in console gaming. First off the starting line we had the Nintendo Wii in 2006, a few months ago saw the release of the Playstation Move - a similiar concept to the Wii as an addition to the Playstation 3 console. Most recently last month we had the release of the Kinect for the Xbox 360. Possibly one of the most interesting of the three;

So what can the Kinect really do? Aside from having us dance and flail around in front of our TVs like maniacs that is. Well around the time of it's release, The Open Kinect Project was set up, offering a $3,000 reward for an open source driver for the Kinect on PC.

Within hours of going on sale, software engineer Hector Martin had cracked it, opening the doors for all kinds of playing around with Kinect's ability to calculate depth as well as movement. From drawing and recording in 3D space to gesture recognition... or maybe just playing some Mario on your PC.

Author: Alice Cheetham

Monday, December 06, 2010

YouTube Subscription Widget

A big well done to the little yellow YouTube subscriber button which made its debut back in 2006: It was reported by YouTube (28th Oct 2010), that fifteen YouTube Channels have now crossed the one million subscribers mark. Pretty impressive !!

If all this talk of subscriptions is new to you, then YouTube suggest you check out the above video, in which dear Cuddles tells you all you need to know about subscriptions.

We have a channel at YouTube, which we use to store videos we like (Geek, Gaming, Viral, Fun) and subscribe to those we want to hear from again. In 2011 we have (medium) plans to upload work related videos relating to Web Development, eCommerce, Mobile Web, Hosting and Search Marketing and will surely let you all know about them when live. We say medium plans, as our faces will be on the video, so don't want to hype it up, with the words 'big plans' just yet ;)

If you have a YouTube Channel and you want to encourage subscription sign up, all you need to do is embed a piece of code into the source code of your blog or website in the exactly same way that you would embed a YouTube Video (really easy).

Find the code here over at YouTube Blog.

Author: Sarah Griffiths

Thursday, December 02, 2010

Best dressed Snowman in Poole

In a change from the Dorset norm we all woke up this morning to flurries of white and a whopping 8 inches of snow in some places. Possibly making a few trips to work this morning a little more exciting then we'd ever want!

This masterpiece appeared outside our office courtesy of Andy, Dan and Dave from our Tech team sporting a jaunty hat and Fiona's fluffy scarf.

We hope nobody had any snow based traveling mishaps this morning, and hopefully everyone had a better morning then this guy!

And whilst putting our artistic license towards creating snowmen is ok for some of us, it seems that Kieron, our Technical Director, prefers a slightly faster paced snow adventure.

Author: Alice Cheetham

Wednesday, December 01, 2010

Marketing Mobile Apps

More companies are noting in their web analytics that an increased number of people are using their mobiles to access their site, along side this there are increasing news reports highlighting that more and more people are using their mobiles to perform extensive research before making a purchase. Following these trends it isn’t surprising that Rocktime are receiving an increased number of calls for the development of mobile apps and mobile websites. Talk to the sales team to find out more.

Theses mobile stats help explain the trend further:

- In October 2010, the UK’s Internet Advertising Bureau (IABUK) reported that 26.6 million people (59% of mobile phone owners in the country) had used mobile media such as apps or downloaded data to their handsets.

- Mobile web use is up sharply in the UK. About 31% of internet users said they went online via mobile phone in 2010, compared to 23% in 2009, the Office for National Statistics (ONS) reported

- We also heard today (via: @ITworld) that end users under the age of 35 prefer to use mobile applications, rather than a web browser, to use specific functions on smartphones and other mobile devices. Read more here: http://www.itworld.com/internet/129261/mobile-users-ditch-browsers-use-apps-instead

In following this trend, the Flashlight Team at Rocktime have been putting together a marketing document to help clients greatly improve the public’s interest, engagement and attention for their app / mobile website once it finally launches. They are working closely with the Sales team and Technical team to integrate marketing thoughts into the site build.

They share some quick tips below, and are happy to talk to you to discuss your mobile app / site marketing needs further.


During build of your mobile app / mobile site

1. Consider your customers online needs in building the app / site review your web analytics

For example: a hungry for Pizza customer may be interested in:
• Order a pizza online
• Pick up the pizza
• Find a pizza takeaway shop
• Pizza offers
• Call for pizza
• Access favourite pizzas

2. Explain the benefits:

For example a news website could push: “This new mobile site will allow you to browse through news and lifestyle headlines or articles on your mobile phone without having to load the full website” “With push notifications, the app will enable you to keep up to date with the latest news in your area”

3. Consider a mobile phones current functionality in the design of the app:

Click to call
Geo location
Payment Devise
Social network sharing

Tips in promoting mobile apps

• Get early attention and grow interest.

• Discuss in your news pages about your work in progress (where possible invite your customers to contribute to the final development).

• Show a teaser video on how the app will work > and how it seeks to make their life better (see above video)

• Possibly create a landing page for the App and if it is very exciting ie: not just a mobile version of the website, then promote it to the App fans out there, see what they think – and let them talk about you some more.

Keep learning

As a final tip, we recommend you read this article here from Marketing Week 'Are you making the most out of mobile?' which looks at how four retailers have brought their brands onto our handsets: http://www.marketingweek.co.uk/disciplines/digital/digital-strategy-supplement/are-you-making-the-most-from-mobile?/3020898.article

The Flashlight team are pretty excited about mobile developments and if you are a current client then I am sure you will hear from them soon, as they determine how mobile can fit with your overall digital strategy.

Author: Sarah Griffiths

Monday, November 22, 2010

Social Media meets Commerce

Giving further credence to the power of social networking, on the 2nd of November, eBay launched their Group Gifts service in the US (just in time for Christmas). See the above promo video from eBay which invites you to think 'Big'.

The service has been designed, say eBay to make “it easier for friends and relatives to chip in for gifts because it eliminates the headache of collecting contributions”.

How it works is: A gift is chosen, then others are invited to contribute to the gift via Facebook or email, they show their commitment via making the payment.

Should Group Gift Service make it to the eBay UK, I can see this working amongst my friends, for group payments for Hen Dos, Baby Showers, however I can’t see this working with older relatives, who unless this is advertised well may be sceptical about the security of this group gift option (if they haven’t heard of it before).

Group Gifts is just one of a number of social commerce tools currently being developed by eBay. Last week it unveiled a payment mechanism for digital purchases that allow people to make purchases through Facebook too.

It will be interesting to see how Group Gifts takes off in the US.

New Media Age recently reported that the UK market isn’t yet mature enough for social commerce, despite commitment from brands such as Dell and Disney.

Are we ready, time will tell.

Author: Sarah Griffiths

Wednesday, November 17, 2010

Facebook Pages - Building the REAL community

Facebook say Facebook Pages allow you to: “Connect with your audience, share your story and participate in real-time conversations quickly and easily on Facebook”. Read more over at Facebook here; http://www.facebook.com/FacebookPages

The below provides quick tips from the Rocktime Flashlight team on how to build a community on Facebook using Facebook Pages.

Building the Authentic Community

Facebook for business should be about genuine, valuable interaction with fans the most effective way to build the community is by engaging with your customer base. Critical mass online often takes time, remember it was the "Tortoise (slowly but surely) that won the race, when the Hare took a little nap”. Talk to us more about this analogy if you like, basically it sums up that slow organic growth in social media is not a bad thing.

Your Facebook Page needs to be engaging and interesting to ensure your fans/customers/potential customers, keep you in their news feeds. It doesn’t need to be “wham bam wham” with production of chat on your page wall, you just need to talk to your fans at a time suitable for them (when they are most engaged).
Ads can be used to give your community a boost, perhaps expanding to a new demographic, but the key is content, content, content.

Lessons in Engagement
  • Give your fans a reason to visit
  • Get them to love your page so they can recommend you to others
  • Provide interesting insights of value (to the fan)
  • Share news
  • Competitions
  • Deliver informative information which indicates that you know your industry and don't constantly promote your products or service
  • Give people a reason to talk about the page
  • Introduce people to the reasons as to why they should be visiting or liking the page
  • Be chatty & human to encourage conversation and ensure ongoing interaction
  • When delivering Facebook Ads, keep the target audience in mind, deliver an ad that will resonate with your fan rather than shouting about how great you are
  • Advertise on the Facebook page to encourage further interaction on your site
  • Make a note of all your customer touch points (Newsletters, Lost password, Page 404 not found) and how you can advertise your networks of interaction there to encourage Facebook Page fan growth
  • Finally, keep it real (think topical stories and conversations)


People tend to join a community when they see it has many fans already. You may develop a campaign (on or off Facebook) to encourage fans to join, but you must always return to the quality over quantity argument - will you get return?

You will if you devise a campaign closely linked to your target audience, that will deliver value.
A biggy to consider is that when launching any campaign attention needs to be given to the resource of social media & a strategy established for this to work. Along with delivering Facebook Pages strategy the Rocktime Flashlight team can assist with these Social Media resource issues, talk to us to find out more.

If you would like to share any further tips for Facebook Page Growth, feel free to comment below. I am sure we could share more, re: Facebook Mark Up Language (Facebook HTML) and Social Plugins, Apps, Multi Channel Integration, but we simply wanted to provide a simple list of 'do's', that our readers can use to help them get on the right track to Fan Page growth.

Author: Sarah Griffiths

Monday, November 15, 2010

Amazon Black Friday hits the UK

We have been moaning recently about the premature Christmas adverts on the telly, which all seem to include dancing & singing this year (Iceland, M&S, Confused.com). We are pretty confident that they will all become very annoying by the time Christmas arrives.

But here's something that we're not moaning about; Amazon has brought the American "Black Friday" retail campaign to the UK. Yeah!! A popular campaign in the States, where shops (both online & offline) slash their prices to encourage shoppers to part with their Thanksgiving bonuses.

What does this mean to us? Whilst we might not have any Thanksgiving bonuses to burn, DISCOUNTS on the other hand are always a good thing.

Amazon state that for the first time ever, they will be replicating many of the deals for UK users on Friday 26th of November. They are promoting "unbelievable, pinch-me-to-prove-they're-real, Black Friday deals", the nature of which will be revealed on the 22nd of November.

We hope you grab a bargain, we will certainly be checking out their deals on tech and gadget stuff, cameras, consoles, games etc.

Here's hoping the deals live up to our expectations.

Author: Sarah Griffiths

Tuesday, November 02, 2010

Geek Video of the month

Most of us have heard of augmented reality, but what about diminished reality? The name is pretty self explanatory, and here's a pretty amazing example! This video was put together as a research project by Jan Herling and Wolfgang Broll from the Illmenau University of Technology in Germany and gives a fantastic demonstration of a diminished reality in your own home.

Just think of the possibilities! Removing that annoying tall persons head from your view at the cinema? That ex you'd rather not think about from some video? Maybe even a camera where you can dynamically remove passers by from your photo before taking it? And thats just on the small scale...

Author: Alice Cheetham

Wednesday, October 13, 2010

An Introduction to QR codes

What are QR codes?

QR (Quick Response) codes are similar to bar codes, but they are two dimensional and therefore these codes can hold a lot more information than a standard barcode found on many products (up to 10 numerical digits).

QR Codes allow everyday items to become a website (print to mobile to web messaging), a QR code can be used to store information such as text, URLs or any other data. If the QR code is being used to store numerical data only 7089 digits can be stored. For alphanumeric data up to 4296 characters can be stored.

QR codes can be used anywhere that printed material may exist (magazines, signs, webpages etc.) as a convenience way of allowing users to access some information without having to type any text, all the user needs to do is scan the QR code with their device and the QR code will be decoded and acted upon based on its content.

Who is using them?

QR codes have been around for some time now, a few examples of QR codes being used in Marketing can be found over at a Mashable Blog post (Jan 09).

Currently the majority of QR codes are used to provide a “tell me more” function with the QR code appearing on albums, posters etc. which when scanned take the user to a URL which provides more information about product.

But the codes can be used for E-ticketing applications. In this case a code can be generated and sent to a mobile phone, when the owner of the mobile phone arrives the QR code is scanned and then marked as used so it cannot be re-used. This reduces the requirement to print and post actual tickets and if the recipient loses their code they can just request a new one via text or email.

Coca-Cola have been using QR codes to allow Japanese customers to collect loyalty points for free drinks.

The Flashlight Search Marketing Team at Rocktime report, that they have seen QR codes used on a number of offline items including:

Business Cards
Art and Tatoos
Fashion Items

The most exciting campaign they (Flashlight) have seen (to date) using QR codes was back in August 2010, where a Russian mobile provider MTS launched a digital campaign inviting consumers to play a weekly adventure game using their smartphone in order to win a prize, see above picture and read more about it over at the Brand Republic website.

Even Facebook has its own QR Code community, full of interesting oddities, ideas and discussion.

How to activate a QR code?

Many modern phones now come with a QR code reader installed as standard, these include Android phones, Nokia phones running S60 3rd Edition or newer and Blackberry’s with Messenger 5.0 or newer.

There are a number of free QR code reading apps available for both iPhones and Android Phones. These can be obtained via the iTunes App Store and the Android Market. These apps allow the user to scan the QR code and perform an action based on their content.

Android: Scanner often installed as standard.
iPhone: Apps available via the iTunes App Store.
Blackberry: Scan a group barcode option in the BBM menu.
Nokia Symbian: Has a barcode scanner which can read QR codes.
Nokia Maemo: Uses “mbarcode” to read QR codes.

Rocktime and QR codes

We can produce the codes and then our clients can print them somewhere, we can then provide statistics about the number of times the QR code was used within the clients content management system.

If you need any help or inspiration in using QR codes in your business.

Contact us

Author: Andy Edwards (Ed)

Tuesday, October 12, 2010

Welcomed New Feature in Google Analytics

Weighted sort is a welcomed new feature in Google Analytics for all of us who have been using column sorting and desiring a way to have actual, useful meaning behind it. Google introduce the new weighted sort feature over at their blog, and have provided the above video to help explain further. 

When somethings new in Web Analytics the first place I go is Avinash Kaushik’s Blog, he is a total Analytics genius/god amongst Web Analytic Managers.

I was first introduced to Avinash after his book ‘Web: Analytics an Hour a Day’ was recommended to me on a Web Trends Analytics course (about 4 yrs ago). I was quickly made aware of Avinash’s great ability to make Web Analytics almost human, explaining the finer points in Simple English, providing you with situations that you can refer to, on your own website. I highly recommend it.

I visited / turned to, Avinash’s blog to find out more about the new Google Analytic feature and I wasn’t disappointed. The blog post is rather long, but it is all needed to help understand what he describes as ‘magic’. 

A great sum up of the new tool was in Avinash's reply to a readers blog comment who 
mentioned that the new feature was similar to Google Analytic’s ‘Advanced Filters’.

I will share with you that snippet below...do visit & read the full blog post here: 'End of Dumb Tables in Web Analytics Tools! Hello: Weighted sort’.
And note, like I have, that he has a new (Oct 2009) book Web Analytics 2.0 which is definitely going on my Amazon Wish List this Christmas.

The blog comment on Avinash’s Blog that sums up the 'weighted sort feature' well:

“I suspect in everyone's life it is about volume. :) But how do you focus on: 1. Where are we getting less volume where we should get a lot and 2. Where is it that we are getting lots of volume but we can improve a lot more. You can filter using Advanced Filters, but that still leaves you with thousands of rows of data where you have to apply judgment and pick and choose and figure out how to separate the wheat from the chaff. Weighted Sort was built exactly with that goal in mind: To make it even more efficient for you to find "interestingness" in thousands of rows of data – and without you making guesses.

Then you apply advanced filters.

If you first do advanced filters and then weighted sort you might filter out some low volume sites that present the most interesting opportunities. If you do weighted sort and then advanced filter you won't have that problem. I want to stress that I am not saying advanced filters are not great or that you don't need them. Weighted sort is just one more tool in your arsenal”

Rocktime's Flashlight Team are eager to help you illuminate your web analytic tables, feel free to call us to discuss how Web Analytics can bring value to your business.

Author: Sarah Griffiths

Tuesday, October 12, 2010

Social Media and Mobile Platform

MePlease has announced the launch of its social media and mobile platform, which enables businesses to connect with customers on their mobile, along with offering very easy social media sharing. This integrated social media and mobile platform, will help transform relationships between businesses and customers via social media & mobile marketing.

We are very excited indeed !!

Last week we heard (via: New Media Age) that MePlease had partnered with Pizza Express to help power the voting of their recent “Create Your Pizza Challenge”. If you happen to visit a Pizza Express Restaurant between 18th October to November 14th, you may note an on table display to vote for one of five pizza finalists. People participating will also have the option to post their opinion directly to Facebook, to further encourage viral spread for the brand.

Why not pop into a Pizza Express next week and try it out, alternatively view this video for a demonstration on how Me Please works in situ.

MePlease In Action at PizzaExpress from MePlease on Vimeo.

Although MePlease is similar to sites such as FourSquare (which we blogged about back in June), the difference about MePlease is, that it's largely powered by SMS, so it will work on any phone (ie; not just smart phones), suiting both National brands and small businesses.

MePlease is such a great idea !! Secretly wish it was ours...

The mobile platform provides business to customer engagement via voting, competitions, generate customer feedback and will also encourage customer acquisition, retention and most importantly drive footfall. A number of high street names have already signed up, and as we consider letting our clients know about this portal, we are keeping up to date with the Me Please news over at their blog:

The only critique we would give is the name ‘me please’ as you can imagine a lot of people saying this in social media (which will appear in search engines). “can you review this site for me please”, “can you look at this link for me please” etc...However after writing that, although Search Engine Optimisation (SEO) would help if you had heard about the brand and wanted to be part of it, SEO wouldn’t be as relevant as the activity would be virally spread.

Interesting stuff....

If you want to discuss more about mobile marketing and social media strategies and how they could fit with your business, feel free to call the Rocktime Flashlight team, so they can then view your integrated approach potential.

Author: Sarah Griffiths 

Thursday, October 07, 2010

Ode to Rocktime for National Poetry Day

In Celebration of National Poetry Day, with this year’s theme of "Home". We spend 35% of our day at the Rocktime Offices, so I decided to write an Ode to Rocktime, sharing with you all here, enjoy:

Ode to Rocktime

In south England, Poole resides,
A digital agency named Rocktime,
Who laid down their creative tech foundations,
Back in nineteen ninety nine.

They offer cutting edge development,
Using the latest tech in unity,
With social media reporting and teaching,
How to create a community.

They design all manner of interactive sites,
To engage and interest your visitors,
Aligning developments with all your objectives,
So that your ROI soars.

A team of developers, designers, accounting,
Not forgetting our search marketing smarties,
Talking design, interactivity, usability,
And integration with all your 3rd parties.

Talk to Rocktime to develop advanced platforms,
For an immersive and interactive site,
They have a number of products in modular development,
Including Logic, Source & Flashlight!

Well, that was fun!

To find out more about National Poetry Day, check out their website, if you would like to take part then the closing date for the National Poetry Competition is the 31st of October.

Author: Alice Cheetham

Monday, October 04, 2010

Geek Video of the month

This months Geek Video of the month is the piece put together exploring the basis behind the YouTube Play Contest.

A collaboration between YouTube and the renown Guggenheim Museum, New York. A phenominal 23,000 submissions have been whittled down to 125 fantastially creative videos from over 91 countries. You can view the shortlisted videos now over on the Youtube Play channel.

Later this month the jury will be picking out their top 20 to be revealed and presented at a special YouTube Play celebration event at the Guggenheim Museum on October 21st. For those of us who don't want to travel quite so far, you'll also be able to find them on youtube.com/play.

Author: Alice Cheetham

Monday, October 04, 2010

The new Google URL shortener website

Last week, Google gave its URL shortening service Goo.gl, its own website, opening the shorten URL service to all. A handy tool for creating short URLS that can be easily shared tweeted or emailed to friends.

The URL shortener has been available in other Google products, Maps, News, Blogger for sometime, and we are pleased that it is now it is open to everyone whether you are logged into Google or not. What we particular like about the URL tool, is the speed to shorten – super quick in comparison to others.

Try it here: http://goo.gl/

Another big positive about the Google URL shortener is that if you sign in with your Google Account and create the shortened link when signed in, Google will provide the history of that link, along with analytics so you can track the traffic.

We have just found out that there will be API in the future, so once this is available, people may want to opt to integrating goo.gl as a choice for shortening links in their sites and applications.

You can even get a QR code for every link you shorten, viewing on the stats page, or appending .qr to any link. To find out why you would want to do this, visit back to this blog in a couple of weeks, where one of our Web Developers (Andy Edwards) will be explaining a bit more about QR (quick response) codes. In summary a QR Code is a bar code that can store much more information and on scan can take you direct to a website (links to Mobile Marketing).

A short explanation about how url shortening works from Craig Sherlock one of our Web Developers at Rocktime:

1) URL to shorten: http://www.rocktime.co.uk
2) A shortened url is created: Goo.gl/Vilj
3) The shortened url is then stored in the database at Goo.gl, along with the real url
4) When someone clicks the shortened url they are taken to Goo.gl
5) Goo.gl sees that /Vilj has been appended to the url and looks in its database for the entry Goo.gl/Vilj
6) Once found it looks at an opposite column (Real URL) and finds http://www.rocktime.co.uk
7) The next column will now increment by a value of 1. This keeps track of the number of visits.
8) Once incremented; the page then redirects the user to http://www.rocktime.co.uk

Find out more about the Google URL Shortener over at the Google Blog:

If you need any help in using the Google URL shortener or wish to discuss how you can integrate the URL shortener to your online marketing campaigns feel free to contact the Rocktime Flashlight team.

Author: Sarah Griffiths

Wednesday, September 15, 2010

Twitter is rolling out some major new features

Twitter which is signing up 370,000 new users daily on average are redesigning their site to make it easier for users to navigate and find related information, making Twitter much more of an information resource, rather than just a place to network.

This is big news and we can already predict that engagement levels will rise.

Forrester analyst Augie Ray said the Twitter redesign should help improve engagement with users.

"Twitter's new Web functionality is a significant evolution that promises to attract more visits to Twitter.com, improve Twitterers' interactions with content and each other, and ease adoption for Twitter newbies"

Watch the introduction video above and find out more over at the Twitter Blog Post titled "A Better Twitter": http://blog.twitter.com/2010/09/better-twitter.html

Tuesday, September 14, 2010

The influence over numbers argument

The above table from http://www.emarketer.com/, which is backed up by an ExactTarget study, reproduced by eMarketer, assists with the "influence over numbers argument" on Twitter, as it shows that US Twitter user's in April 2010 were far more interactive online, than general internet users.

The results table indicates that US Twitter user’s were more likely than general internet users to post to forums, to write their own blog, comment on blogs and post ratings and reviews.

What this means for brands and companies, is that the people on Twitter are far more likely to be the ones that create the noise online and encourage conversations about a topic elsewhere online.

The ExactTarget study also explored Twitter users’ motivations for following brands and companies on Twitter, the majority wish to get updates on future products (38%) followed by staying informed about company activities (32%). This is followed by finding out about discounts and sales. Pretty interesting chart, and one that is now stuck up in the Social Media Office.

Within the communities we work on for brands we have asked the question, which social networks do you reside? From close review we have identified the above to be the case that "Daily twitter users comment and upload content at least twice as much as average".

We have formed some great, profitable relationships with bloggers on Twitter for clients, profitable in that they provide interest to our clients community groups (we PR them to the community) and they help increase our clients reach for little more than a friendly conversation.

Find out more about the ExactTarget study, including the motivations of Twitter users over at the eMarketer site:

Author: Sarah Griffiths

Monday, September 13, 2010

Geek Video of the month

The Galaxy Tab. Potential iPad contender?

We have talked quite a bit about the iPad on this blog, so we thought to shout about one of the so called challengers to the Apple iPad: introducing “The Galaxy Tab”.

We like the fact that they show a number of scenes on the video which are missing with the Apple devise (walking down the street, riding a bike etc). They are also pushing the most used smart devise features on the video, these being: Navigation, eReading, Web Browsing, Augmented Reality & Video Conference.

The Samsung Galaxy Tab was launched in Berlin on the 2nd of September, read the press release on the Galaxy Tab mini site:

The smart device is being marketed as the 7 inch tablet which brings "more possibilities on the go". If you have any thoughts, we would love to hear them.

Author: Sarah Griffiths

Monday, September 13, 2010

eBay Launch Favourite Charity Campaign

A new eBay for Charity feature allows you to set your favourite charity on eBay, so that you can support them whenever you buy and sell.

To celebrate the launch of ‘My Favourite Charity’, eBay is awarding grants of up to £5,000 to the three charities that receive the most votes as favourite in September.

Visit My Favourite Charity to see which charities Tess Daly, Sharon Osborne, Helen Mirren, Roger Moore, and other celebrities have chosen, and then choose your favourite charity.

Ebay state that: “your contributions have so far raised over £19m in the UK. Along with the benefitting charities, we'd like to thank you for supporting good causes on eBay”.

We are big fans of the layout of the Ebay for Charity page, good mix of useful links, video and social media. Loving the ribbon idea too.

Learn more about eBay for Charity or follow them on twitter here.

Author: Sarah Griffiths

Thursday, August 19, 2010

News Flash: Facebook announce Facebook Places

Facebook have just launched their geolocation service, Facebook Places in the US. Read about it on the Facebook Blog here: Partnering with sites which offer similar service: Gowalla, Yelp, FourAquare, Booyah.

The Flashlight team thought it was quite amusing that: ZDNet described the news as 'the worst kept secret since, Apple's iPhone 4'.

The app will allow Facebook users to provide real time update of their location to their network of friends within Facebook, whilst they are on the move. Initially the service will only be available as an iPhone app and through the website touch.facebook.com - which works well on Android and other smartphones.

One of our favourite things and in the same breath not so favourite things, about Facebook Places is that you can also tag your friends if they are in the same location in a photo or via status updates.

In relation to above point (not so favourite) we all know that Facebook have been critised in the past for privacy features. Well this time round Facebook are making it very clear about the opt in and out features, available on the app. You can even turn off the 'let my friends' check me in feature too.

Facebook are hoping that developers (like us) will soon take note of this and begin to build 3rd party applications to take advantage of the location data available. Time will tell, as we haven't had news when it will reach the UK yet.

For more information, then Mashable have written a fantastic comprehensive guide to Facebook places here, go check it out.

Author: Sarah Griffiths

Thursday, August 05, 2010

Geek Video of the month

As we are big fans of gaming here at Rocktime, we thought to share with you this new and bordering on ridiculous (health and safety!!) but cool way of turning your chair into a gaming experience with motion. I wonder whether Alex will allow us to build one of these in the office? This video is playing a F1 game, makes me feel quite queasy but wins Geek Video of the month.

Thursday, August 05, 2010

Google Adwords Trademark Policy Update

Yesterday the Flashlight team were discussing Google's announcement of changes to their Google Adwords trademark policy, reviewing how it affects us in the UK.

In a nutshell, Google will no longer prevent advertisers from selecting a third party’s trade mark as a keyword.

There are still restrictions for using a trade mark as a keyword in your advert text. You can put in a complaint to Google if you believe that a third party, using your trademark keyword in the advert text, is confusing customers. For example if a Nike affiliate wrote an advert with the title “Official Nike Store” then Nike would have a reason to complain.

Google say their goal is:

“To provide our users with the most relevant information, whether from search results or advertisements, and we believe that users benefit from having more choice”

If you are running an 'adwords campaign', upon understanding the policy update, then we would suggest you then consider how the 'new key-phrases' could fit into your campaigns and after implementation, review whether it improves the overall advert click through rate and conversions.

To find out more and to see examples about this change, view the Update to Adwords Trademark Policy here or talk to the Flashlight Team.

Thursday, July 29, 2010

Choosing a Username for your Facebook Page

If 25 people or more are connected to your page, you can select a username for your Facebook page or Facebook profile by going to: http://www.facebook.com/username/. The Page username must be at least five characters in length and only include alphanumeric characters (A-Z, 0-9), or a period or full stop (“.”).

Facebook state:

“The selected username should clearly identify the artist or business represented by your Page. Create a username that is as close as possible to your public figure or business name (e.g. AshtonKutcher, PizzaHut) to avoid any confusion or misrepresentation. In addition, generic words (e.g. restaurant) are not available as options for Facebook usernames. Think carefully about the username you choose for your Page as once it has been selected, you will not be able to change or transfer it. Be sure to check out Help Center for answers to common questions about usernames for Facebook Pages. If you wish to report an infringing username, please visit our username infringement Help Center

Full instructions for setting a Facebook Page Username

This should take you 5 to 10 minutes.

• Login to Facebook
• Go to Account
• Go to Manage Pages, Go to page, Go to edit page, There will be a hyperlink on News for page admin - click Usernames
• Click link 'Select a Username' or click: http://www.facebook.com/username/
• Then click the hyperlink - 'Set a username for your pages'
• Check availability and choose your desired URL name for your Facebook Page.

Author: Sarah Griffiths

Wednesday, July 28, 2010

Autumn Lifeboat Lottery

We are back to promote the RNLI Life Boat Lottery. To help the RNLI save lives at sea and be in with a chance to win with the Lifeboat Lottery read on. (Sourced above image from RNLI website).

The draw ends on the 10 September 2010.

We are sharing our support as the RNLI are just a stone throw away from our offices in Poole. The RNLI is an independent charity; this means they don’t receive any funding from the UK government. They can’t save lives at sea without public support. Lifeboats need to be designed, built, fuelled and maintained, and their crews trained and equipped. Lifeguards also need training and equipment.

Some interesting ‘did you know’ facts about the RNLI, taken from their Twitter page

• 6 out of 10 launches only possible thanks to legacies
• 139000 lives saved since 1824
• 22 people are rescued every day
• Funded by voluntary donations
• 4, 500 volunteer crew members

Amazed by those statistics, if so, why not help out and try your luck with the Lifeboat Lottery.

This Autumn, you can win a cash prize of up to £5,000 with the RNLI. The closing date is 10 September 2010 and the draw will be held on 24 September 2010. Tickets are available from lottery@rnli.org.uk, or by calling the RNLI Supporter Care team on 0845 121 4999. Before you contact please make sure you head over to the RNLI website to view further details on the lottery, as you are required to read the ‘Terms and Conditions’ and ‘Information on Responsible Gambling’.

Best of luck!

You may also wish to view all the other ways in which you can support the RNLI here.
How to Support the RNLI

Thanks for your attention

All at Rocktime x

Friday, July 09, 2010

Online Marketing Summit Bump

In celebration of the start of the Online Marketing Summit kicking off in New York today Kaylee has kitted out her baby bump with a NY Big Apple. We won’t be attending the Online Marketing Summit but we will be viewing the Virtual Summit On Demand, and checking up on trends on Twitter.

Find out more about it here: http://www.onlinemarketingsummit.com/spring-2010-omvs/

The Online Marketing Virtual Summit is covering all major domains of online marketing, including Social Media, Search Marketing, Web Analytics, Integrated Marketing, Online Advertising & Mobile, Website Strategy & Usability, Email Marketing, and Demand Generation.
All areas that are of interest to the Flashlight team, the event sounds “totally awesome” so we are pleased we can get involved virtually, via listening, learning and hopefully a little bit of engagement too.

Author: Sarah Griffiths

Monday, July 05, 2010

Geek Video of the month

This Apple iPad live Finger Painting demo is pretty awesome and wins hands down for Rocktimes Geek Video of the month. Great to see a creative use for the iPad with the Brushes App. I want one! :-)

Author: Kaylee Bradley

Thursday, July 01, 2010

Google - security, privacy and the World Cup!

Google is continuously developing and updating their suite of products and services and I’d like to briefly mention a few that I heard about recently which have implications for a variety of users which didn’t get quite as much attention as I think they deserved.

Firstly is the ability to search Google over an SSL encrypted connection. This is currently running under their ‘beta’ tag and is available at https://www.google.com(notice the ‘s’ in https).
This only appears to be working on the main site and not the country specific variants at the moment. When you are on this you can see the little secure padlock in your browser signifying the secure connection. So what does this mean? Well in a nutshell it means that the data from your browser and the Google server is encrypted so that no third party, listening in the middle, is able to see what is being sent to and fro. Your search terms and the results from Google cannot be intercepted and read by anyone or anything that may be spying on your internet connection. Who could be spying, or why you wouldn’t want them to see your search is a question for another day.
One side effect this has is to do with referrers, or lack thereof. Due to the way the web browsers work, if you are on a secure site and click on a link, the referrer information that is normally passed to the new link is not actually passed. So if the SSL version of the Google search becomes more popular, then webmasters will not be able to tell where their visitors came from or what they searched for if they visit the site via this new service. A plus point for privacy concerns some may say. However for internet marketing managers it could seriously affect their ability to know how people reached the site through natural search and would confuse search engine optimisation (SEO) strategies. Google have yet to comment about the above implications for SEO and Analytics, in reality this means that SSL could be some way off, watch this blog for updates.

You may also want to read this post from E-consultancy and the reader comments
"Will opt-out threaten Google Analytics?"

Talking of privacy, the second development that caught my eye is the release of the Google Analytics Opt-out Browser Add-on, also currently in beta. This is an add-on available for the major web browsers (IE 7 & 8, Google Chrome 4.x upwards and Mozilla Firefox 3.5 upwards) that once installed allows you to prevent the Google Analytics ga.js script from sending information about your website visits back to Google Analytics.
I haven’t tried this myself but it sounds like users can make themselves almost invisible to Google Analytics which would again have implications for webmasters who are relying only on GA for their usage statistics. Statistics packages that are based on web server log files, such as SmarterTools’ SmarterStats, would not be affected as they process the access logs that are created directly from the web server and don’t rely on client side javascript to feed them data.
The Google Analytics Opt-out Browser Add-on can be found at http://tools.google.com/dlpage/gaoptout and is also linked from the Google Privacy Center.

Any finally, it may be too late for England in the 2010 FIFA World Cup, but if you search on Google for “world cup” you get a special results page that has the latest fixtures at the top. I especially like the special image at the bottom of the page that deals with the results paging – Gooooooooooal!

Author: Andy Clarke

Monday, June 28, 2010

5 reasons Hotels should use Foursquare

With the surge in popularity of the smart phones, social media sites like FourSquare, which offer ‘Geo location based Checkins’, are ones to watch. Foursquare allow users to ‘check in’ using mobile phones when they visit any location be it a cafe, library, office, shop, hotel etc. They can share their location with friends and win virtual badges for their activity ie: ‘ a mayor badge – for person who visits the location the most’. Find out more about Foursquare here.

The above image shows a hotel, local to our offices and a recommendation I gave; anyone who searched for ‘Hotel Du Vin’, on FourSquare, or who searches for 'Nearby Tips' when in Poole will see this review.

The Guardian wrote an article as a FourSquare user, have a read, as it explains the concept of Foursquare well: "Yesterday I took the tube into central London and walked to a random corner of Soho. I opened the app on my phone and went to the "nearby tips" section....."

Sharing with you, our top 5 reasons why hotel marketers should use FourSquare

1. Provides ability to send out offers and promotions, to local visitors, using FourSquare and interact with your customers Such as:
@ Hotel Max: Come in, show our front desk that you checked in on Foursquare and get a $20 gift card to use towards your next stay and be entered into a raffle to win a free stay!

2. FourSquare can help hotels drive repeat business, as people come back to the same place to become ‘mayor’ (receiving a badge for number of check ins) and retain their position.

3. On search of local places it allows people to find out more about you from others, i.e. This hotel has the best Wi-Fi access in Poole, and allows the hotel owners to learn from peoples comments.

4. Enhances brand regonition via increased awareness within Twitter, as many Twitter users opt to link their Foursquare account with their Twitter account, if you see that one of the people you follow regularly ‘check in’ to a certain Hotel restaurant etc, then you may be interested to find out more.

5. We’ve recently seen the site HotelChatter adding Twitter mentions and Foursquare mentions of hotels to their site under a section called Hotel Social view their story here: They are also beginning to start a list of USA Hotels using FourSquare, we will be watching this list to view how they are using this geo locater social tool.

Want to know more about FourSquare and Social Media Networks, get in touch with the Flashlight team and talk to us further about social media strategies that would suit your business.

Author: Sarah Griffiths

Friday, June 25, 2010

Sandcastle Event @sandbanks_beach July 12th

If you are local to Sandbanks, why not take part in a sandcastle building bonanza at Sandbanks beach in July and attempt to break a world record?

We have just found out that the Lewis-Manning Hospice in association with Dorset Business - the chamber of commerce and industry are organising an attempt to break the world record for Sandcastle Building.

The event takes place on Sandbanks Beach on Monday, July 12th. The record breaking attempt will be from 6pm to 7pm. Family fun is organised before. A few of us from Rocktime will be down there.

To join in, you need to set up a team of four, and will need to raise £150 plus VAT to take part – which will include tickets to a BBQ beach party taking place from 7.30pm to 11pm. Tickets for this event are £20 a head. Spectators of the event more than welcome, free of charge.

For more details call 01202 701000 or visit lewis-mann ing.co.uk/events

If you do attend here are some tips on how to build the perfect sandcastle from The Guardian.

Thanks sent to http://www.flickr.com/photos/echoforsberg/ for the photo

Thursday, June 24, 2010

Game, Set and Match Isner!!

The longest tennis match in tennis history, 11hrs and 5 minutes. American John Isner won the world's longest tennis match, beating Nicolas Mahut of France 70 games to 68 in their final set at Wimbledon. Find out what the professionals thought of the match, a few comments from the pros on Twitter (collated today & yesterday):

Bob Bryan: “We are witnessing history and there seems to be no end in sight!”

Pat Cash:
“Unbelievable Mahut and Isner 59 -59 in the 5th set!!! 10 hrs so far what a day at Wimb Dent fastest serve ever at Wimbledon 148 mph.”

Greg Rusedski: “You cannot be serious! 59 all in the 5th and seven hours later still not finished lets hope one player can at least get to 100 aces.”

Caroline Wozniacki: “the Isner – Mahut game?? 59-59 in the fifth set. They are finishing tomorrow! Crazy!!!”

Laura Robson: “Isner vs Mahut currently 34-34 in the 5th set. I’m tired just watching!”

Serena Williams: “All I can say about John Isners match- WOW”

Andy Roddick: “really really cant believe the match that took place….. will never ever ever happen again… unreal!”

Andy Murray: “This is why tennis is one of the toughest sports in the world, this will never ever be matched again”

John Isner : “feels like a million bucks!!!”

Photo courtesy of tinali778's http://www.flickr.com/photos/tinali778/2730247376/

Friday, June 18, 2010

Google Moderator on YouTube news

YouTube has recently given a new level of interactivity to the end user by integrating Google Moderator into YouTube, allowing content developers the opportunity to receive feedback and input form their users.

Google Moderator was previously used as part of Google’s interviews with President Obama and Canadian Prime Minister Stephen Harper. Find out more about Google Moderator here.

The Moderator allows you to ask for ideas or questions on a topic of your choice and have the community vote for the best ones in real time.

The video above provides a good example of user interaction titled: “The Summer of You! Foodwishes First Contest Ever! In Honor of YouTube's New Moderator Feature”. Go to this page on YouTube see the voting in action.

How it works is explained by YouTube below:

“Here’s how it works: You set the parameters for the dialogue, including the topic, the type of submissions, and the length of the conversation. Watch as submissions get voted up or down by your audience, and then respond to the top-voted submissions by posting a video on your channel. The platform operates in real-time, and you can remove any content that you or your audience flag as inappropriate. You can also embed the platform on your own website or blog“

Find out more information and view some examples on how the feature is being used over at the YouTube Blog.

On review of the above video in 2 weeks, 503 people submitted 200 ideas and cast 4,169 votes, will be interesting to see how the Google Moderator feature in YouTube catches on.

Author: Sarah Griffiths

Friday, June 04, 2010

Geek Video of the month

This video is a definite winner this month. Parrot AR Drone has developed a Wi-Fi helicopter with 2 cameras!! The Wi-Fi helicopter can be controlled by the iPhone and IPod Touch, allowing you to play the augmented reality game indoors or outdoors. Depending on the applications the user downloaded, it will open up a whole new world to the user, they can take part in wild races or discover aliens hidden in their living room. Pretty cool. Watch the video and to find out more about this new concept of video gaming using augmented reality, then visit the developers site here: http://ardrone.parrot.com/parrot-ar-drone/en or follow their conversations over at Twitter @ardrone.

Thursday, June 03, 2010

The Value of Conversion Analytics

Working alongside our clients we are very much focused on their conversions rates via delivering more traffic to see improvements in sales; finding niche portals to stir up interest in products and services; creating social media campaigns to encourage interaction; inviting people to engage further with the brand with user generated content & reviews; advising clients to use our voucher code module via our CMS to encourage some quick win conversions, or to promote an available discount offer etc etc. Conversion rates and benchmarks are of course very useful to have and it is vital that you review them, they are not only important for the client to help determine the return on investment (ROI) of their marketing spend but also for ourselves, as an agency to help prove our capabilities in delivering results. Conversion rates are also particularly effective when listed alongside overall business targets.

We of course all like to see the figures/conversion rates rise. When they don’t rise in a particular month it could be that a referral site didn’t perform as well as the previous month, or perhaps the PPC budget was reduced, or social networking activity was lowered, or SEO activity needs to be increased. We keep track as much as we can on site changes that may affect our client’s conversion rates, this is dependent on learnt knowledge from the client on their ‘out of agency’ marketing activity i.e.: events they are attending, newspaper/magazine adverts, and radio announcements. Having this knowledge then help us to determine where the ‘conversion value’ is derived from. So that we don’t shout, “Hey didn’t we do well”, only to find out they have had a national radio advertisement promoting their site to the whole of the UK !!

It is very easy to focus on these ‘marketing outposts’ and point the finger of ‘that performed well’ or ‘give blame’ to an outpost when performance reduces. Every now and then, if not every month, or week (if you have the budget and desire) it is important that we step back from these conversion rates and start to look at the site as a whole.

Some key considerations to focus on when reviewing site performance include the below: I am passing this blog post around to my colleagues for additional input):

* Remember some customers may arrive at your site, simply to window shop, to compare prices, to show their friend some interesting content. They have no reason to buy, book or order from you, they are there to browse, dream, who knows. I know I certainly browse a lot and yet have no intention to buy.

* Others may of heard about your site, thought to pop by to check you out, they may be job hunting, visiting to seek out inspiration on an article they are writing, or they may be looking for assistance with an order, trying to find your email, or possibly looking to unsubscribe from your emails.

Moving on

It would be interesting to find out the main reason why people are visiting your site, asking them a little question “Why are you here today?” then segmenting the reasons people visit, maybe with a site redesign to capture those markets. I believe B&Q did this at one point with a new landing page for a limited period asking ‘are you here to browse or buy?’ (I of course clicked browse). The landing page wasn’t intrusive and I quite liked the fact that they were placing me into a category, I actually thought it was going to change my website experience, it didn’t and I soon forgot about the landing page as I moved around the site.

In designing a new site it would be very positive to review the pages people visit. In Google Analytics you can action this in the ‘Top Content Report’; reviewing whether they are visiting the Help pages, the Articles, the Latest News, the Products/Services etc. If you then determine that the majority of visitors to your site are there to view your products/services and are not converting, then it will become clear that there is possibly more you can do, to convince them to buy/order/book from you. The number of areas you can report on with web analytics are/is vast, you can delve in as deep as your budget and/or time will allow. I have always stuck to the 80/20 rule, 80% analysis and 20% reporting which I obtained from a Web Analytic Guru at some stage of my career. A big tip: If you focus your analysis alongside your overall company objectives then the data will be more meaningful to you, you will then ask more questions of your data and want to understand more.

If an increase in sales is a target, then you may wish to review whether ‘offer banner 1’ performed better than ‘offer banner 2’ or whether the E-newsletter brought in the right type of converting customers. If it is an objective to increase the number of new visitors to your site, then you may wish to report on how many people completed the ‘Recommend to a friend online sheet’, did you give an incentive and did this work??. Alternatively, or additionally, if you are keen to see if your Search Engine Optimisation (SEO) strategy is performing, then you could start by reviewing the number of ‘keywords’ people are using to access your site, is this increasing on the long-tail (as in long key-phrases). Did the changes in creating unique and compelling content effect the overall conversion rate?

Oh, arrived back at conversion rates again, it is very easy to do. This blog post has mainly been to promote that you should be ‘aware’ not just to ‘point the finger’ at your goal/conversion rate or the funnel, but to look at the bigger picture and note that not everyone is visiting you to convert anyway. I imagine the Apple UK site had a large conversion rate when the iPad was launched in the UK, this was created by viral spread of the news; consider, could you follow suit and create a ‘viral’ to encourage the right customer to visit your site and convert??

If you are feeling that your conversion rates are rather static at the moment and believe your site needs a review, revamp or possible boost, then talk to Rocktime Sales and together we can discuss how we can help. Give them a call or drop them a message over at our contact form.

Hope this has been useful. We are soon to embark the above activity on our site, so if you see a little message saying “Why are you here today?” you know the reason, we are simply trying to understand our audience better.

Author: Sarah Griffiths @Sarah Griffiths

Wednesday, June 02, 2010

Google May Day Update increases long tail traffic

Over the Bank Holiday we are sure that the majority of you were out in the garden; clearing out the wardrobe; or planning your Euro-Vision party: Rocktime’s Head of Search was busy finding out about what has been named the Google’s ‘May Day Update’. She shares with us her insights below:

May Day Update Undercover Reporting

There were several blog posts & forum chats to sift through which stated that the update had dramatically increased or decreased traffic to sites, so this change was one worth investigating. After sifting through the techie rumours, I identified that the update really is pretty straightforward and impacts “the long tail traffic”, which are generally from longer tail queries that fewer people search for individually. No drama. We have been focused on the long tail for some time now.

The new algorithm update gives continued emphasis on page quality, to give smaller sites more of a chance in ranking highly. It appears (from forums and blogs) that the larger sites, with weak content but a lot of trust (links) are moving down positions in natural search. To help explain this, we envisage that the E-commerce sites will be most affected, especially those with individual product pages, found deep in the navigation path, which have the product content pulled in from the manufacturers database. The content is likely not to be unique and hold little substance with regards to page quality. In summary, a large site with lots of pages, which generally fared well in search results before, could now find itself dropping position, if they haven’t got a unique angle on their content and on the information they provide to their customers. Amazon should remain OK as they have unique product descriptions and user reviews.

A few search marketing managers & web masters are citing that Google has changed their Algorithm to purely push those larger sites down and obtain more advertising revenue from them (Adwords), we (amongst others) disagree, this is purely a quality change, giving Google users the most relevant site for their query.

Matt Cutts (Google) posted a video on the update; see above. The news on the change is very brief, so you may want to read a deeper and well explained review over at ‘search engine land’ – Google Confirms “Mayday” update and the impacts on long tail traffic, by Vanessa Fox.

The fact that the algorithm change was rolled out between April 28th and May 3rd means that you could go into your analytic package and see if you notice a drop, or an increase, to then determine whether you have been affected by this change. It would be a positive move to review whether the change has been effected by a number of referrals, or the number of pages that are receiving traffic. Look closely at the number of keyword (from organic search) driving visitors to your website, look at your key-phrase positioning reports to note if any phrases have dropped position. Then strategise on how these can be improved or enhanced.

Most of the reviews out there are rightly saying “Don’t Panic”, which is very good advice indeed. If you are constantly practising high quality SEO, building relevant pages, making content compelling enough that people will want to share and generally improving on page and in content navigation, then we are sure you will be fine. Do keep reviewing who is ranking above you and consider why Google are deeming them to have a higher quality than your site, could it be that they have ‘user comments’ on their sites, regularly update their site or encourage page sharing (badges, widgets, bookmark icons).

Google made more than 500 changes to their algorithm last year alone and 99% of the time none of us even notice. All you need to remember is, it is Google’s mission to display the most relevant and useful page to their customers on search. We do harp on to our clients quite alot about relevancy and page quality, apologies for that, but as you can see from the above update, it has been worth it.

Should you require any assistance with your SEO strategy you can of course contact the Rocktime Flashlight team who are practicing high quality SEO on a number of websites right now.

Author: Sarah Griffiths @sarahgriffiths

Wednesday, May 26, 2010

An Era of Social Entertainment

Back in May 2007 technology analyst group Gartner asserted that “80 percent of active Internet users (and Fortune 500 companies), with focus on "active" will have a ‘second life’, but not necessarily in Second Life” by 2011. . Indicating that niche virtual communities would emerge and become part of our everyday lives.

Building new virtual worlds in the age of social networks such as Facebook may now seem a little antiquated, however we believe that once Facebook users look for something new, then 3D virtual environments will be a progressive step (especially with Teen Market and Adult Gaming Market).

Following on from Second Life's launch back in 2003, we have seen successes with speciality virtual worlds such as; Disney owned Club Penguin and Habbo Hotel; along with more business targeted virtual worlds such as Teleplace; Teen Virtual world Stardoll and recently Rocktropia a virtual world for music lovers.

To stay ahead of developments Rocktime are currently researching:

• Usage patterns of current online virtual worlds
• Involvement by major brands in Virtual worlds / spaces.
(especially in the Teen/Youth Market).
• Rise in web users looking at the web as an entertainment source rather than information resource.
• Computer game usage
• Growth of internet enabled laptops, the Table PC revolution and rise in the easily accessible wireless web

Interestingly a research study launched last week (May 20th) by Edelman (Public Relations Firm), showed that consumers believe social networks provide a higher value experience compared with other forms of entertainment, Edelman's annual Trust in the Entertainment Industry survey, now in its 4th year, also reveals that the Internet, as a source of entertainment, is second only to television.

61% of 18-24 year olds in the UK see social networks as a form of entertainment
56% of 39-49 year olds also considering social networking sites as a form of entertainment.

The study also reveals consumer attitudes towards the exchange of personal information in return for free entertainment.

89% percent of those in the UK say they would not be willing to give up personal information to access free entertainment. Brands should take account of this statistic.

Although at the time Stardoll had a strong USA focus (in relation to the brands on board), we recommended Stardoll the world’s largest online virtual entertainment site for teenagers to Simple back in January 2009 as UK members where listed at over 3 million and engagement levels were high.

Stardoll has begun incorporating the entertainment side with the recent launch of Stardoll TV. We are predicting great success for this Teen World and with the launch of Stardoll TV,
suggest faster growth in terms of engagement. Stardoll is definitely one to watch if you are keen to engage with the Teen market.

We are pleased that Simple are continuing their relationship with Stardoll and are now the official sponsor of Stardoll TV for the first 12 episodes. They will be using Stardoll
TV to contribute to the shows content, engage with a teen audience about the subject of skincare, and also help promote the national Search For A Teen Simple Star campaign

Alex Pike Group Marketing Director at Simple was quoted as saying:

“Stardoll TV is a natural fit for us”,. “We were looking for the right environment to connect our Junior Board with a teen audience in a meaningful way and help ignite our Search For A Teen Simple Star campaign to find our first ever ‘Official Simple Video Blogger’. We decided that Stardoll had the right ingredients of engagement, reach and enterprise to reach teens.”

If you would like to talk to us further about social media & online community developments then please get in touch with Rocktime’s Flashlight team.

In the meantime view a Slide Show of the key points from the the Trust in the Entertainment Industry Survey 2007 - below:

Author: Sarah Griffiths