Thursday, June 30, 2011

Channel Optimisation: YouTube

This month we’re talking channels and channel optimisation. There’s a dauntingly huge variety of channels you can use to distribute your content, but perhaps one of the most popular and well known (for video at least) would have to be YouTube.

Prior to YouTube’s release in 2005, there were few easy methods available for your average Joe with a computer to post videos online. Its simple interface and ease of use made it a hit, and now YouTube certainly boasts some incredible credentials; exceeding 100 million views a day and localised in 25 different countries across 43 languages.

With such a wide potential audience, you definitely shouldn’t shy away from thinking about optimising your YouTube channel! Here are some simple points to get you on the way;

Relevant and useful Tags
Be liberal with tags for your videos, not just in the tags section but the title as well. It’s fairly well accepted that ‘title tag keyword relevancy and position’ is one of the biggest factors that you, as a user, can influence.

Internal Linking
One of the best ways to have Google index a new web page is building internal links and YouTube behaves exactly the same. By using the Video Response function or putting your video into a playlist with other popular videos (relevant, of course!) you can help increase your traffic. Playlists have the double advantage of frequently appearing fairly high in search results.

Description and external links
It's definitely useful to note that the description part of any video shows the first 27 characters before it’s truncated with ‘...’ and needing another click to view the whole thing, it’s generally a good idea to include a link to your website in these first few characters!

Remember as well that you can customize your channel page. As with anything online, a smart and clean looking layout will leave a much better impression then a half filled in profile, default design channel page. So take a moment to make sure your company branding shows!

Author: Alice Cheetham

Wednesday, June 29, 2011

Building a Facebook Page

Alice Cheetham shares her tips on creating a Facebook page. If you have any additional feedback you would like to share, please do send in a comment.

I’ll admit, we do talk a lot about Facebook, but boasting over 500 million active users and said users spending over an estimated 700 BILLION minutes per month alone on Facebook, you can’t blame us.

This month, as you might have noticed, we’re talking channels here at Rocktime and what better than one with such popularity as Facebook!

We’ve talked before about Facebook Pages, namely in our article ‘Facebook Pages – Building the REAL community’, well worth a look at in preparation for putting together or optimising your businesses’ page. Returning to the topic of tips for Facebook, now we’re looking into top tips for building your page.

Firstly, don’t let your landing page default to your wall! Instead, make use of the custom tabs to put together something engaging and eye catching and most importantly, completely under your control.

Why don't you want new users come to your wall first? Well bear in mind, depending on your page’s privacy settings, it could be that anyone can post on your wall, not necessarily new-visitor friendly. Coding for custom tabs used to be exclusively written in FBML – Facebook Mark Up Language – somewhat like a special version of HTML exclusive to Facebook, but now they’re phasing it out. As such you can put together a custom page, with iFrames for example, using HTML , CSS, Javascript etc, allowing much greater variety in the complexity of what you can create, the limit is your imagination and the space requirements!

So now you’ve got your custom tab, set to be your default landing page, you’ve successfully navigated any newcomers to something (hopefully) interesting looking at least, now how to keep them there?

  • Applications: Thanks to the Facebook Developer group, there are 1000’s of applications on the Facebook platform, many of which can be directly integrated with your page with little tech know how.
  • Conversation: The days of a one way conversation between business and client are gone, engagement is important! Let people see that you are attentive, willing to answer and ask questions in return; it all helps with promotion of your brand image.
  • Content: Just like any other channel, whether it’s a blog or twitter, it’s important to provide interesting content to your audience to keep them coming back. Sharing content from blogs or Twitter posts, posting and tagging photos and generally interesting topics will encourage repeat visitors.

One other thing to note, the maximum size you can have your page profile image is 540 pixels high by 180 pixels wide, a lot of Facebook real estate! Take the time to put together a graphic for your Facebook Page’s profile image that sits within this ratio. Whilst this is great for having an eye catching presence at the top of every page, for example a flyer or advert style image, one downside is that sadly it won’t fit too easily within the small square thumbnails that Facebook uses for any comments you post, so that might be something worth taking into account when picking an arrangement for your avatar.

If you need help making the decision as to whether Facebook will benefit your brand, or you would like assistance in populating your Facebook page with compelling content, then go ahead and get in contact with Rocktime's Search Marketing team.

Author: Alice Cheetham

Wednesday, June 29, 2011

Google plus one goes Global

A few months ago, Google released their +1 button on English search results on The objective of the +1 button is to make search more personally relevant to you.

The above video provides a good introduction to how this all links with Google Social Search.

If you are running a Google Adwords account, you should have received an email this morning to say that in the coming weeks, you will note that your paid for ads on Google along with organic placements, will include the +1 button, which users can click to recommend your adverts.

Google advise that you "think of the +1 button as a way for fans of your business to recommend what you offer, for all their friends and contacts to see". Google believe that by helping searchers see more personal, relevant ads, then we will start to see more qualified traffic. We believe this is dependent on who your Google contacts are!

If you would like to add the +1 button to your website, and encourage recommendation of your site or certain pages, blogs etc please contact Sales.

Extra reading: Search Engine Land report here that on the 27th June 2011 Google Plus One button goes global

Author: Sarah Griffiths

Tuesday, June 28, 2011

Welcome Back PlayStation

As this month’s blog focus is on Channel Optimisation we thought to send a shout out to PlayStation for turning around their crisis, after announcing in early May that hackers accessed the 10 Sony Servers obtaining personal details of their users. There was criticism at the time, that PlayStation took around 2 weeks, to tell its users the servers had been breached. This really wasn’t “best practice” !

However as news spread (as it does in social media) they quickly apologised and optimised / turned their channel around by taking Playstation Network offline for 3 weeks, whilst server security was reviewed. They then announced that they would be offering their users with a “Welcome back compensation package”. Note the welcome back package was very timely indeed as it was released in time for one of the biggest gaming shows in the year E3 Expo.

The PlayStation Network Welcome Back package includes free games, movie rentals and in game content. The games available are free until July the 3rd, so if you haven’t got yours yet there is still time. The games are pretty good and include:
  • Dead Nation
  • inFAMOUS
  • LittleBigPlanet
  • Super Stardust HD / Ratchet & Clank: Quest for Booty
  • Wipeout HD + Fury

If you are a gamer, like many of us here at Rocktime, please find further details on the PlayStation Network Welcome Back on the official Playstation Blog.

You can only download two games, as a team we would recommend inFamous and LittleBigPlanet and Wipeout HD.

View more opinions of which free PS3 games you should download over at this post on Yahoo Searching for Answers.

Have fun ;)

Author: Sarah Griffiths

Monday, June 27, 2011

Photosharing: Flickr versus Picasa


We continue to discuss channel optimisation this month, on the Rocktime blog. This week Fiona discusses her experience in using both photo sharing tools, Flickr and Picasa. She highlights which channel she prefers to use and which she would recommend to Rocktime clients.

In her estimation, Picasa is better than Flickr for certain clients, find out why below, and feel free to send in a comment to let us know which photo sharing service you prefer.

My experience in using Picasa

  • Editing and organising
I initially chose Picasa back in 2008, as an editing program because it allowed me to view RAW format image files that I had photographed using a Canon and a Nikon digital SLR camera.

In my leisure time, I promote an acoustic musician through images, social networks and at live events and the photography is mostly shot at these live music events; shooting musicians in limited light and nearly always in a moody environment. I don’t use flash and most of my images are ‘in-camera’.

Picasa allows some basic editing of photos; I mostly do quick adjustments to highlights, cropping, adding some effects, and reducing or increasing the warmth of images. More exacting photo editing would be done in Adobe Lightroom or Photoshop.
Picasa has a good desktop app for organising my pictures into folders, easily tagged for searching and uploading and costs less to upgrade than Flickr.
  • Adding text
Picasa allows for adding text to images, which is useful for quick flyers, cards and posters. One feature I really enjoy in Picasa is the collage feature, which is simple and effective for both random selections of images, or quite structured collections of images.
  • Social
Picasa has great social share features and allows me to upload the images directly to a blog, share a link to the album, or mark them as private. This is useful for viewing a whole album, or individual images in discussion and then deciding which ones to further edit, or use in a promotional campaign. I just choose the level at which I want to share the images and email the link directly from the desktop.

Did I mention that the basic storage on Picasa is FREE!  There are upgrades available for 80GB and up to 200GB.
  • Video
You can also upload videos to Picasa, you could if you wanted, upload one giant 1GB video to fill up your storage quota. You can pay for more storage additions, which can be spread across Gmail, Google Docs as you see fit.

My experience in using Flickr

I do have an account on Flickr, I don’t use it for photo sharing or photo storing. However, I do use it as a content seeding tool for flyers, which promote gigs and events. I still use Picasa for the basic editing of these flyers and Photoshop for more serious editing. As an enthusiastic photographer, I do like to peruse Flickr from time to time, as I like to find the beautiful, interesting and arty photographs that other users have loving uploaded over the years.

You can also upload videos to Flickr and allows users to upload a 90-second video (150 MB) or 500 MB of video with a pro account. Idea: you can, of course, upload a longer video elsewhere and then link to it from a photo page.

The main concern with Flickr is the fact that they have a low monthly upload limit, unless of course you pay for a PRO account. This can slow you down when you are only able to upload 100MB of photos and 2 videos a month. Also, although the audience on Flickr is far greater than Picasa, we have found that the active community members are mainly photographers. Flickr has no significant desktop application. If appropriate, there are ways to migrate from Flickr to Picasa using an application like PhotoGrabbr.
  • Social
Flickr is a more socially driven website than Picasa. Flickr is integrated with Facebook. The best use of uploads is in sets, which can be considered a campaign or an event. When you have a series of events then it gets stored as an album. The images can belong in multiple collections. Tags are searcheable in your photostream and highly recommended.

Flickr offers all the same security benefits of Picassa, when you mark the set/collection/photo as viewable to all public, or private and inaccessible. For the professional photographer having the ability to add Rights Reserved to protect their copyright is very important.

Rocktime clients and Picasa

For Rocktime clients I have found much more interesting uses for Picasa, such as the ability to upload to the Panoramio community, which is great for finding locations on Google Earth, Google Maps and Google Search. Picasa also allows the use of RSS feeds, slideshows, post to Buzz, Blogger, Google Talk and Twitter as part of a social media campaign. Our Leisure and Tourism clients, who enjoy beautiful locations, as well as being a viable business, benefit from Picasa.

Further reasons why I sometimes favour Picasa

I found the Google Picasa experience is faster than Flickr, more up to date. The library of images within Picasa are all easily catalogued by date, location and people in the images. The geotags for mapping, text and tags make searches more refined and easily found easily on location searches. Public photos allow users to comment, building a community. Photos can be uploaded Facebook directly from Picasa.

I would recommend that you edit in Picasa and then do a bulk upload to Facebook of the chosen images. The images can be bulk resized for quick upload. The photo gallery template aids the individualisation of albums. The software is uploaded on a regular basis, is very simple to update and has easy to read instructions, plenty of support and question and answer forums.


In my estimation, Picasa is better than Flickr. Read my concluding points below:

Flickr is a great channel for photosharing, however, it can often slow a social media strategy down, unless you have a paid for (Pro) account, due to their low monthly upload limit. Additionally the audience on Flickr is mainly Photographers, so you will find that the professional looking photos will be viewed more.

The big benefit of Picasa is its excellent desktop tool, plus it links with Google GEO targeting features (Google Maps, Google Earth). Also unlike Flickr, Picasa does not have a monthly upload limit, only a limit of 1GB for lifetime (As with Flickr you pay for more storage). There are additional benefits for Picasa including the ability to upload to Panoramio community, which is great for finding locations on Google Earth, Google Maps and Google Search. Picasa allows the use of RSS feeds, slideshows, post to Buzz, Blogger, Google Talk and Twitter as part of a social media strategy.

If I was an art gallery I would choose Flickr, If I was a boutique hotel chain I would choose Picasa, if I was a musician I would use both. Making a decision on which photo sharing tool to use depends on a number of factors including your resources and social sharing requirements.

Similar photosharing programs

There are many other photosharing options like Photobucket, which has been around for years and was used extensively when we all needed to grab HTML code for our images.
Picnik is an online photo editing service, which has grown in popularity since its integration with Flickr and smugsmug. Also note: Google bought Picnik and this is now integrated into Picasa.

Windows Live Photo Gallery, Twitpic, Yfrog, Instagram, picpiz, SmugMug, Path, Imageshack, Snapfish, Zooomr and more.

Even Twitter recently launched a photosharing offer partnering with Firefox, to integrate hashtag and username searching directly into the browser’s address bar.
Based on the reviews, Virgin Media still needs to refine their newly launched TiVo photosharing app, if they are to compete but it does go to show that photosharing is a massive market and everyone wants to be part of it.

I would love to hear which photo sharing / editing service you prefer.

Should you require assistance in determining which photo sharing service will suit your business / brand, then please give Rocktime’s Search Marketing team a call.

Author: Fiona Anderson

Monday, June 20, 2011

Geek Video of the Month

We really enjoyed the graphics on this video, which outlines the 15 'snack bite facts and conclusions' to know about the future of the Internet in 2015. The video is from research conducted by NeoLabs, find out more about them here.

Two snippets we particularly like include:
  • Mobile-only Internet population will grow 56-fold, up to 788 million by the end of 2015
  • The TV experience will be more personal and social but less familiar
Sharing the video with you. Enjoy!

Author: Alice Cheetham

Thursday, June 16, 2011

Tweets in Pictures

As we are talking about optimising channels this month. We thought it would be an ideal time to share with you the irkafirka blog which hosts the strapline “anything you say may be taken down and coloured in”.

We found out about irkafirka over at the BBC website a couple of months ago in a post 'In pictures, Tweet modern'. Since then we have been regular visitors to their blog. The BBC articles provides a walk through on how the illustrating of the tweets began. The premise being that, Nick and Chris aim to illustrate a tweet a day, in a turn around of 24hrs of the time the random tweet went out.

Such fun!!

The image above, is one of our favourites, taken from their blog. It is quite topical for Rocktime, as Poole, where our head office is based is full of Seagulls.

Please do go and find out a bit more about Nick and Chris, over at the irkafirka blog, learn more about their rules in their quest to illustrate a tweet a day, point 6 being “if we stop enjoying it, we’ll stop” over at their website. Note also rule 7.

For Twitter fans the irkafirka blog is a great place to pop in from time to time for a giggle, and if you are looking for a fun illustrator, then hey, you may have found one.

Author: Sarah Griffiths

Wednesday, June 15, 2011

Channel Optimisation

This month we have a big focus on channel optimisation. We are reviewing the objectives of our own digital channels, reviewing success and integrating future developments of the channels into our wider Marketing Mix. This blog post seeks to share with you some ideas on how you can consider optimising your own channels for your online or offline business.

Definition of channel

A channel, could also be described as a platform, it is anywhere (billboard, website, mobile phone) in which you are advertising your business / service / product. It could be online or offline and links with activities such as: Direct and Indirect Sales; Branding; Customer Services; PR; Promotions; Viral; Campaign management; Local Targeting.

Rocktime can not only provide you with the skills in which to grow your channels, they can also encourage you to consider new ways to think about channel development. We advise all our clients when commencing a digital strategy, to start with an end in mind for each of their channel and to always consider an integrated approach.

Definition of channel optimisation

Channels should be an extension of your shop front or/& website, optimising your channels helps develop your brand and makes it easier for those not already socially connected with you to find your networks / websites via search.

Channels are a great place to hold conversations

It may be that you have already created starting channels in which to hold conversations around your brand / product / service and that you regularly have moments of “what to say next?” in these channels. The reason for this, is that you haven’t defined your strategy, and you have simply set a strategy for “being out there”!

Being out there, is a bonus as search engine are a discovery channel, and we know that most digital content can be indexed by search engines and they create additional entry points (for your site).
To win with channel optimisation, we would advise you to use channels as a tool / technology and look at them as supporting mechanisms to wider goals and campaigns.
Use the channels to: promote, build and network with customers and to Inspire, Inform and Interact with fans. The majority of channels include 2 way conversations, don’t forget this and look at scheduling in conversation resource.

Channel Management Optimisation

Channel management optimisation is very much a part of our own evolution, as we are soon going to be changing our campaign objectives worksheet to include: “Tactics/Social Networks" and “Tools and Technology” required.
For campaign planning, around your channel or to include your channel, Rocktime’s Flashlight Search marketing team would work with you to determine the below;
  • Audience / Target marketing
  • Objective:
  • Strategy:
  • Tactics/Social Networks:
  • Tools & Technology required:
  • Metrics / Tracking to be implemented:
  • Updates to website required:
  • Updates in house required:
  • Review the current environment:

Choosing Channels

Just because Facebook is the most popular network, doesn’t mean that you need to focus on just that. Facebook currently suits the current environment, with all evolution things can change.
Example: Johnny Cash’s album Live at San Quentin was a best seller when released in 1968. For decades it didn’t reach the top 50, but, in 2005, when a successful movie was released about Cash’s life, the environment changed. The album flew up the charts, as the environment changed.
Don’t just choose a channel because of its popularity; choose it because your audience reside there, or because you have seen conversions / page engagement from that channel (within web analytic reports). Listen to the audience within the networks first, would they welcome you?

Competitor Review

While you are creating new channels, or making steps to engaging in new channels, please note you won’t be alone. Your competitors have most probably noticed your new channels and are following suit. Keep an eye on them for collaboration opportunities, inspiration or to be tactical.

Just because a competitor is running a Groupon campaign i.e. 2 for 1 on meals, it doesn’t mean you need to. Look at the wider picture in creating campaigns, have a goal in mind i.e. Increase business over Winter months. Consider you channel strategy i.e. check that no other local events are on in the area, put a promotion plan in place. Schedule time tio measure campaign performance.

Managing internal fears of moving into new channels

Rocktime can also help you manage any internal fears of moving into new channels, by presenting the facts, the ideas associated with the channel, and the solutions that the channel can provide.

We would always encourage the process: Listen and Learn before Engaging.

Rocktime’s Channels

Our objectives for each digital channel (off website):

To visualize connections and conversations between our networks, we use a diagram similar to a mindmap. The main aims for our channels are to promote (Rocktime), build (Channel), network (with the like minded).

We will share our business objectives for each of our channels below:
  • Google Places: Increase local presence; Promote products; Log testimonials; Show expertise at local campaigns.
  • YouTube: Store Geek Videos; Showcase our Video Blogs; Investigate communication opportunities; Share introduction video, promote products.
  • LinkedIn: Inspire, Inform and Interact with the like minded. Share our stories. Encourage conversions. Promote products.
  • Facebook: Additional channel in which to distribute our News; Blogs; Images; Products. Network with local businesses (Like feature). For SEO benefits.
  • Twitter: Inspire, Inform and Interact with the like minded. Encourage clients and prospects on best practice. Increase brand awareness. Encourage conversions. Be an expert in our field.
  • Slideshare: Great place for storing presentations on latest products, innovations. Time saver after meetings. Cost avoidance strategy.
  • Business Forums: Great places to share our expertise, be an authority and increase awareness of our brand /products. Inspire, Interact, Inform.

Channel Development

The Flashlight Search Marketing team at Rocktime is so very passionate about channel development. They are always on the ball with the latest happenings with the Search Engine Updates and new guidelines facing the social networks. They love to hear of new innovations that will benefit their clients and regular test and trial networks before passing over recommendations for growth.

Channel management

Should you require assistance managing your channels, determining your next steps for each channel, evaluating success of your channels, please give the Flashlight Search Marketing team a call or talk to Sales about arranging a meeting.

Author: Sarah Griffiths

Credit for the above image goes to Papermag Blog