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

Monday, May 24, 2010

Summer Lifeboat Lottery

We’ve just found out about this seasonal promotion to help the RNLI save lives at sea and be in with a chance to win with the Lifeboat Lottery (sourced above image from RNLI website). You better be quick as the draw ends on the 10th of June.

As the RNLI are just a stone throw away from our offices in Poole. We are sharing our support and will continue to do so each season. 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
• 138000 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.
RNLI Summer lottery

This Summer, you can win a cash prize of up to £5,000 with the RNLI. The closing date is 10 June 2010 and the draw will be held on 24 June 2010. Tickets are available from, 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

Monday, May 24, 2010

Facebook privacy changes coming soon

Mark Zuckerberg will be announcing plans to roll out major changes to Facebook privacy settings this week. The news broke from a private email sent from Mark / Mr Zuckerberg to Robert Scoble, who on receiving the email asked for permission to reprint the text on his blog:

The full text of the email is below:

We’ve been listening to all the feedback and have been trying to distill it down to the key things we need to improve. I’d like to show an improved product rather than just talk about things we might do.
We’re going to be ready to start talking about some of the new things we’ve built this week. I want to make sure we get this stuff right this time.
I know we’ve made a bunch of mistakes, but my hope at the end of this is that the service ends up in a better place and that people understand that our intentions are in the right place and we respond to the feedback from the people we serve.
I hope we’ll get a chance to catch up in person sometime this week. Let me know if you have any thoughts for me before then.

Good luck wishes sent to Mark on the roll out of the changes, let's hope they are easily understood by the Facebook growing masses. We will be watching and providing feedback too.

Author: Sarah Griffiths

Tuesday, May 18, 2010

Introducing Kaylee - Agency Administrator

Kaylee Bradley started at Rocktime in April, we thought to ask her 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?: Receptionist / Administrator

Welcome on board, sorry it has taken a while to write your intro blog post as you know we have all been busy creating websites, running campaigns etc.

+ What does being a Receptionist/Administrator involve?: Being first point of contact to clients, introducing the company in a friendly professional manner and then obviously all the usual office duties, filing, filing and more filing!! ;-)

And you’re doing a great job too ;) we love having a Kaylee around and sure our clients do too

+ What is on your mouse pad?: mmm would should be on my mouse pad?!

Come upstairs and get an Microsoft Advertising Mouse Pad if you like, pink or blue?

+ Were you named after anyone? : Yes actually.. My mum named me after a song – Kayleigh by Marillion in 1985!

How lovely hear the track and view the video here:

+ What book are you reading? : Currently my Pregnancy book "What To Expect When Your Expecting"

Can we recommend "How to Afford Time Off with your baby" by Becky Goddard-Hill can be purchased online from or through the Baby Budgeting website. It is also available from Waterstones. Becky the Author of the Blog guest blogged in the Simple VIP Club Blog read her post here:

+ What was the last CD you bought or downloaded!? : Alicia Keys new album.

+ If you had your own boat what would you call it? Ahoy There..!

Nice, you should work in Marketing.

+ What is your favourite sport? : I’m not a keen sportswoman – but I do like swimming and ice skating.

+ Are you any good at crabbing? : Never been but would like to try.

We need to organise this activity down at Poole Quay, will ask for your help next month.

+ What is your favourite kitchen item? : Colander, its great for everything.

+ If you were a crayon what colour would you be? : Neon Pink

+ Which do you prefer sushi or a hamburger? : Hamburger.. Not too keen on fish!

+ What do you do most often when boredom strikes? : FACEBOOK.. or call one of my friends for a random chit chat.

+ If you could go on holiday to anywhere in the world where would it be? : Hawaii – I want to meet the hula hula girls!

The photo above of the Hula Hula girls needs to be credited to Octopushat on Flickr

+ Do you have a special talent? : Drawing & Singing (but they are more secretive talent’s as not many people know!)

Really, maybe we should write a Rocktime rap and create a viral video for YouTube !! Will be in touch ♥

Thursday, May 13, 2010

Social Media Review: Shopping Centres

Shopping centre marketers are starting to use social networking as a cost effective method of keeping their retail destinations in front of their key audiences.

Social media for shops (on and offline) has proven to be a great tool to drive awareness, footfall and most importantly sales. We are seeing a number of shopping centres now promoting the ‘Community’ feel on their sites, but many are missing a trick in integrating their community focus with social media.

Rocktime works with a number of fashion and beauty bloggers, who we know regularly tweet and blog about new store openings at their local shopping centres and are eager to promote the latest shopping trends to their followers. As a consequence, there is a significant opportunity for shopping centre marketing managers to leverage and connect with the local fashion bloggers, letting them know in advance of new launches, shops, or possibly even blogger-specific events. Many shopping centres use Facebook to connect with their regular shoppers and this morning we found almost 100 UK shopping centres of differing sizes that currently use Twitter.

The majority use Twitter to interact and engage with fans and shopping centre staff as well as promoting:

• Shop offers
• New launches
• New shop openings
• Meal deals
• Competitions-West12shopping centre in Shepherds Bush is particularly active
• Following the stores in their centres & Re Tweeting their promotions & news

Ashford Outlet Centre in Kent regularly posts lifestyle tips, new shops, charity events and personal shopping services on their blog. Their BIO states:

“Insider news on the latest stock, best buys and events from the people who work at, shop at and love Ashford Designer Outlet”

Bridgend Outlet centre has a similar message:
“Insider news on the latest stock, best buys and events from the people who work at, shop at and love Bridgend Designer Outlet”

On closer review this particular chain of Outlet centres in the UK shares the same web template, with each also offering a blog in the same standard design. Each page within the website is unique as they are focused on the individual shopping centre locations and facilities; content is however repeated across the blogs, which isn’t a good strategy for SEO, as the shopping outlet with the most links to it will be the one that will receive a placement in the search results for that blog post. Nonetheless this is an effective way of getting the word out on what is new to a location-targeted audience.

View the links below to understand more about the standard template designs:

Ashford Designer Outlet

Bridgend Designer Outlet

We recommend that shopping centres use social media as part of their overall marketing plan, but for true ROI it should not be viewed as an ‘add on’ but must be integrated with traditional media marketing such as print and radio, as well as focused on the website search optimisation strategy.

If you give shoppers a reason to integrate with your communities, then shopping centres can then drive these campaigns via other marketing channels - i.e. posters within the centre, local newspapers, or social responsible community PR programmes to increase community involvement further.

Examples of encouraging shopper to interact might include the following:

“Find out about all the latest shopping centre gossip over at Twitter and Facebook”

“Let us know what you think of the new XY store over at our blog”.

“Who would you like to turn on the Xmas lights? Vote over at our Facebook page”

“Keep up with the latest style trends with us”

Social Networking can also assist with the creation of other cost effective ideas, which can be derived by listening, learning and engaging with your fans within social networks or on your corporate blog.

Shopping Centre Marketing Managers, or a designated marketing agency, can use social media to trail out new ways of getting people increase footfall to a destination, such as:

“Take part in an exclusive competition; pick up a leaflet from the info office this weekend”

“Print off this voucher available on Facebook and get it stamped over at the Info desk and receive discounts at xy store”

The information captured can then be fed back into the shopping centre’s marketing database, and used to further help promote community involvement and most importantly drive further footfall.

Sharing with you my (current) top ten shopping centres using Social Media
Bicester Village (Club, YouTube, Twitter, ENews, Facebook, Flickr, RSS)
West 12 Shopping (Twitter,VIP ENews)
West Quay (Twitter,Facebook)
GunWharf Quays (Club, Facebook, Twitter)
Liverpool One (Twitter, ENews)
West Orchards (Twitter, Facebook, ENews)
Spinningfields (Community, Club, Twitter)
Westfield (Twitter, Style Blog)
Bullring (Twitter, YouTube, Flickr, RSS, Community, ENews)
Trafford Centre (Twitter, Facebook, Blog, YouTube)

As a team we really are getting quite passionate about the value of social media for retail clients, if you are in retail and would like to discuss this further please get in touch with Fiona Anderson in the Flashlight Team.

Fiona worked on early in-store theatre innovations for fashion brands, through to current expanding a brand’s online footprint. Fiona’s direct experience with the challenges of operating a shopping centre has been the Dolphin Shopping Centre, in Poole and small scale events at The Cascades Shopping Centre, in Portsmouth, back in 2004. Surprisingly she has been quoted as saying “she hates shopping for herself but loves the shopping research for clients”. Give her a call and convince her that your shop, shopping centre or retail experience will change her mind.

Our Logic Content Management System boasts several modules to suit retail clients including: Voucher Codes, Competition module, Community features, Store Locator, find out more about Rocktimes Bespoke Web CMS here.

In the meantime happy shopping....

Author: Sarah Griffiths @sarahgriffiths

Tuesday, May 11, 2010

Geek Video of the month:

Its official Sony have announced the arrival of Little Big Planet 2 on PlayStation 3!

Being a fan of Little Big Planet, I am so (oooooo) excited about the announcement, especially the news that Little Big Planet fans can now create their own games, not just levels.

The attached video (which wins Geek Video of the month) shows an awe inspiring trailer of the new game.

Sony said:

"Now, LittleBigPlanet 2 will explode the concept of Creative Gaming, offering exciting and unprecedented new possibilities - as well as backwards-compatibility with all of the existing LittleBigPlanet community levels and content."

Watch the video or view the Little Big Planet 2 website here for more details:

Or keep upto date on the news (as we do) over at CVG, computer and video games website.

Author: Sarah Griffiths @sarahgriffiths

Tuesday, May 11, 2010

Good practice on adding images to Blogs

Rocktime runs a number of social media campaigns for our clients. With the tech media reporting that blog readership is increasing, supported by our own observations that blogs are a good way to drive traffic to our client websites, we are increasingly advising our customers to set up their own corporate or brand blogs.

Another advantage of creating a blog is to improve Search Engine Optimisation (SEO) results:, back in June 2008 Hitwise reported that on average 27% of a blogs page views come as referrals from a horizontal search engine, as blogs get cached in search results.

Generally we run the blogs in-house on behalf of the client using a ‘hand holding’ approach for a period of 3 – 6 months. We begin by creating blog post plans around topical subjects and then, when there is an in-house resource, ease the client slowly into taking on the blog themselves.

After speaking with bloggers (via social media networking) we understand that a problem area which blocks their posting is adding images to their blogs. They ask questions on how to correctly upload images, where to source images, the legal implications involved in using a copyrighted image which is not their own and how to crop and resize. They are also concerned about file sizes, based on Google’s recent Algo update.

In an attempt to help the majority of bloggers and our blogging clients thanks to Foz our Creative Developer, we have created this Q&A blog post outlining a good practice guide to adding images to websites.

To kick things off we would firstly like to recommend Paint.Net for non-designers for those who may find Photoshop to be too complicated. Paint.Net is a free image editor which is more advanced than Microsoft Paintbrush and has all the essentials for your image editing. Basic features include crop, rotate, resize images, adjust colours, adjust file size and create collages; there are a variety of other useful tools within Paint.Net, but we will let you discover these as your confidence in using the image editor grows. For now we will focus on the basics on using Paint Net.

An alternative option is the snipping tool software available within Microsoft Office (Windows Vista, Ultimate) which allows the user to crop images straight from the screen and save to clipboard. Within the snipping tool softeware are also a few simple tools available under options, allowing you to email image, add a border etc.

There are a number of image libraries available, Rocktime recommend iStock Photo for low cost but great quality images. Should you need extra advice on finding and using then give us a call.

Foz (Web Designer) answers your questions on online images

Q: I have downloaded Paint.Net. What do I do now?

A: You need to open up a copy of the image within the software. If you’ve saved a copy to your computer go FILE > OPEN and browse to open the image from it’s saved location.
If you’ve found an image online that you want to use, make a mental note to check copyright issues (which we will examine later), then:

1. Right click to copy it. Click File New (this will open a blank image the same size as the image you have stored in your clipboard)

2. Paste it into the white background

3. It is good practice to size the image for your blog so:

Always make sure that ‘Maintain aspect ratio’ box is ticked to ensure that your image doesn’t get stretched or squashed (it will generally be clicked on default and appears under highlighted By Absolute Size)

Q: How can I create a square image to fit into social networks?

Ask Rocktime to produce one for you or use the Paint Net crop tool (box with dashes) and pick out a square by dragging the box and keeping eye on bottom left hand corner, which highlights the dimensions of the image. When the two dimension measurements are equal you then have a perfect square.

Go to your image – Crop to selection then you can resize your square to the size as specified by the social network. If your image started off life as a photograph then save as a JPG; if it is a graphic or text image then save as a PNG. Do not worry about the other compression formats.
When you save as a file type it will then give you a preview box of the quality of the image and show the file size. You can reduce file size by reducing the quality - sometimes by reducing the image quality by just 10% the file size can be cut by more than half!

Q: What would you class as a high file size? I noted a few social networks say an uploaded image can’t be larger than a certain size?

A: The main consideration is what the total file size of the page will be. If you have a really sharp image that’s very large the chances are that the file size is going to be pretty big. If this is the only image on the page this shouldn’t normally be a problem for most connection speeds. If however you have lots and lots of large images you page could end up taking a while to load... and your readers may get bored waiting. But, as a rule of thumb, anything under 100KB should be fine.

Q: I use Blogger and it automatically re-sizes my images. Do I need to bother with above?

A: Blogger automatically re-sizes images to a 400px width to reduce the strain on their servers, so you don’t need to worry about resizing your images.

Q: How else can I use this free image software?

A: You can also make adjustments to your image using the relevant drop down on the Paint.Net navigation bar. You can play around making images black and white, have a go at getting rid of spots with the airbrush or try making a cloudy photograph look like it was taken on a sunny day. A list of tutorials that will help to build your skills is here

Q: I want to add an HTML badge to Facebook Fan page. How do I work out the width?

This is pretty easy using Go to the Fan Page, copy the whole page using “Alt and Print Screen” and paste this into your Paint.Net new window. Then, while using the crop tool, keep an eye on the box in left hand corner - notice the dimensions change as you drag the box around the page. Once you have cropped an area you will see the size. If you have any problems ask Rocktime for help.

Q: Where can I source images for my blog?

Google image Search and Flickr are popular and easy ways to source images – but be wary of infringing copyright. If you are uncertain as to what you can use, royalty-free images can be sourced from many websites: we recommended as a good place to start.

Q: What copyright rules should I be aware of?

For the purposes of copyright images are considered under the term Artistic works. These can be: photographs - charts - diagrams - maps - graphs - cartoons - decorative graphics - illustrations - building plans - sculptures - drawings - paintings - logos - engravings - sketches - blueprints - moving images (films and TV broadcasts) If you have images or photographs which you would like to put on the internet you must check that permission has been given for them to be published in this way. If you are not the rights-owner and you do not know that the artist/photographer has been dead for 70 years then you will need explicit permission to publish. If the photograph contains images of people, you must also check under privacy law that they are unidentifiable or that their permission was given for their image to be used. Images of children of 18 or under cannot be used in the UK unless you have parental permission, or the image has been obtained from a commercial image which will have obtained the relevant images.
If you have any further questions on using images on blogs or on your website feel free to contact us via this blog post – we’d love to hear more of your own observations, problems, hints or tips.

If you would like to talk to us about running your own corporate blog or personal blog then we would love to hear from you talk to Rocktime Sales.

Author: Paul Forsdick

Thursday, May 06, 2010

Who should you be voting for?

With tonight's election looming I thought to write a topical blog post based on the UK General Election. We have decided to share with you how much we like the "Vote for policies, not personalities!" website. Real time graph from the site displayed above. We are especially keen on the usable interface and real time collaboration features on the site and within social networks. A job well done by the developers.

The Vote for Policies website has been developed/designed to help visitors to the site compare the policies of the six main politcal parties, enabling visitors to make informed decisions based on the policies they want to live with, helping the visitor remove any bias they may have picked up from the mainstream and newstream media.

Go and try it out here: it may change your mind !!

The site has also been well received by the media, with the Financial Times stating "The test is well worth taking" and Channel 4 news mentioned that "Vote for Policies is an interesting survey based on policies alone - allowing users to find out who they would vote for if their policies were anonymous". We found out about the site on Twitter.

Another tool you may be interested in visiting is which contains information directly uploaded by those trying to win your vote and here is another tool: which also helps you to determine your voting preference for the UK General Election.

Rocktime have developed their own Online Polling Tool within their bespoke Web Content Management System (Logic CMS).

The Polls module or Voting module if you prefer, allows site users to vote on particular topics / questions. After a set period of time the poll is closed and the final result displayed. The results can be displayed as a bar chart, or graph as a percentage of all those that have provided an answer. This is a good way to receive feedback on any number of topics, without the audience feeling as though they're having to give away anything. The voting module can be expanded on so once answered, the website can take the visitor through to some other 'call to action' or reward (if it's necessary to entice the visitor).

If you want to find out more about our online polling tool then pick up the phone and talk to Rocktime Sales.

Author: Sarah Griffiths @sarahgriffiths