Tuesday, December 18, 2012

Why we love Google Hangouts

We were recently invited to the Google Plus Page, 'Google Live Events' and just had to share it with you. The page lists all the Google Hangout Events happening right now, visit and Google+ connect with them here:
You can save the live events to your Google calendar and even publicise your own. Google Hangouts launched last summer at the same time as Google+ in the summer of last year is growing in popularity. 

There is a really useful post over at Social Media Examiner, which talks about five creative ways that businesses are using Google+ Hangouts. Including a live Q&A session with Cadburys UK and their customers. Read the article which talks about businesses using Google Hangouts here:
Google Hangouts enables you to share expert level information with your audience wherever they are. The free service is great alternative to Webinar's and are very simple to set up.

Google Hangouts allow individuals, groups and businesses to:
  • Easily stream broadcasts directly into Google+, your YouTube channel and your website. (And if you are feeling confident enough you can broadcast live to the world).
  • If the customer on the Google Hangout just wants to ask you a question they can sign on, chat and bring their questions. 
  • Host a video chat instantly with up to 9 people (useful for in-house & partner meetings) Share files and documents with your hangout.
  • Watch a YouTube video together and chat alongside it.
  • Share your screen with others.
  • Record your hangouts for viewing later. (useful for in-house meetings)
How businesses can use hangouts

Businesses may wish to hold themed hangouts and invite their customers to bring questions to the hangout on particular topics, for example a 'commercial property consultant' could invite their customers to ask questions on ‘flexible leasing options'. The following week the 'commercial property consultant' could hold another Google Hangout on a topic that was brought up at the last.  The main benefit of inviting customers to 'hangouts' is that you can segment customer needs and target them at a later date.

Businesses may also wish to:
  • Offer customised coaching sessions using Google+ for time saving benefits as broadcast and published (to YouTube) virtual coaching sessions will help replace query emails and lengthly training documents.  This however could just be a simple 10 minute Q&A between your team and clients.
  • Host a hangout where you interview a key member of your team or related partner or client.
How Rocktime are planning to use Google Hangouts

To reduce travel time, Rocktime are soon to set up virtual brainstorming hangouts with their client's and client's partners for training and brainstorming sessions. We have plans to host a few ‘how to chats’ with regards to search marketing, mobile websites, ecommerce and social media.
If this article has interested you and you are keen to look into the possibility of using Google Hangouts for your business, please get in touch with our sales team to discuss further.
In the meantime learn more about Google Hangouts and connect with us on Google+ by adding us to your circles,  Rocktime's Google+ profile page can be found here.

Author: Sarah Griffiths

Friday, December 07, 2012

Geek Video of the Month

This week's Geek Video comes via the Extreme Tech website, which is popular with our Technical Team as it provides comprehensive technical content about new products and technologies including reviews and resource links.

The video highlights that bionic eye implants are finally hitting the market. The video introduces the Laser Powered Bionic Eye or Nano Retina which gives 576 pixel grayscale vision to the blind - if their blindness is caused by a faulty retina.

The Natno Retina’s Bio- Retuna captures images directly in the eye, and a rechargeable battery powered mini laser powers the implant remotely.

Pretty exciting and geeky stuff.

You can read more about the progress with bionic eye implants in Europe and the USA, over at the Extreme Tech website here.

Author: Sarah Griffiths

Monday, November 26, 2012

What is Social Commerce

Woman shopping online at home using credit card
Social media has changed the way we shop online. Consumers are receiving advice from friends and family and businesses through social networking sites and the majority rely on feedback from social media to guide their purchases via researching online product reviews on blogs, Youtube, Twitter and Facebook.

There is a gorgeous (you have to see it!) Infographic here from Tab Juice, which shares with you the statistics, relating to Social Commerce, check it out:

Social Commerce Psychology of Shopping (Infographic).

Wikipedia definition of Social Commerce

"Social commerce is a subset of electronic commerce that involves using social media, online media that supports social interaction, and user contributions to assist in the online buying and selling of products and services.  More succinctly, social commerce is the use of social network(s) in the context of e-commerce transactions".

Read the full definition of Social Commerce here.

The shift from e-commerce to s-commerce

Mashable report that "the shift from e-commerce to s-commerce has only just begun and reports that revenues from social commerce are expected to reach $30 billion by 2015".

To help understand how to get social commerce right, take a look at four startups that are making e-commerce social right now. 

Turning social into sales

There are a number of strategic ways you can turn social into sales, such as:
  • Integrate the social networks with your site ie: 'claim this offer on Facebook'.
  • Consider how your products are found in social media, web and mobile.
  • Identify the demand for products, by using social networks and social media research tools.
  • Acquire customers from social networks by engaging within the networks.
  • Could you offer more online gifting options?
  • Consider whether you and your customers would benefit from Geo location offers. 
  • Review your customer retention plan in the age of customer reviews and comparison sites. 
  • Gain an understanding of your impact and publicise it for ROI. 
Interesting times ahead

We all continue to watch social commerce trends with interest.  Last year Rocktime set up an internal steering group to grow our e-commerce website solutions for social commerce further.  Back in July 2011 this blog had a sole focus on social commerce, for more information on social commerce view the social commerce blog posts here.

Are you making the most of Social Commerce opportunities on and off your website. Talk to our sales team today to help you determine your room to grow.

Contact our Sales team.

Also if you find a website that is doing a great job with social commerce interactions on and off their website, feel free to leave a comment below.

Author: Sarah Griffiths

Monday, November 19, 2012

Global E-commerce Opportunities

Global Ecommerce image of globe in a shopping cart
Our favourite website for keeping up to date with the latest internet statistics, Econsultancy, shared (September 2012) the results from a Search Laboratory whitepaper which uncovers the opportunities for global marketing for a UK enterprise organisation.  The complimentary White Paper is titled "Web Magnetism: Attracting global trade online" and is a must read for any business wanting to attract more international trade online.

The bespoke research identified the need for multilingual search marketing campaigns: the importance of customer centric approach to international growth and highlights why businesses may need to look further than Google for international trade.

With Global E-commerce sales likely to exceed $1 trillion next year and as a number of our clients, new and current are talking and working with us on the opportunities available for international marketing and international expansion of their websites, we would like to share with you a few of the report's key statistics.

You can also find these on the Econsultancy website in the form of a lovely infographic.

Note: The White Paper was informed by a UK wide independent research study in Q2 2012, which investigated the prevailing attitudes amongst 350 senior decision makes within 'large UK enterprises' (companies with 200 employees or more).

Some of the key statistics from the Search Laboratory report:

93% of UK organisations have been forced to rely heavily on the global markets to maintain or grow their revenues since the recession began.

64% of businesses are missing the potential opportunities that the Internet can bring them in terms of "being discovered" by overseas buyers.

81% of respondents deemed it important to have a locally registered internet domain in each of their overseas markets.

To find out more about how Rocktime can help your website grow for International E-commerce expansion, call in and talk to a member of our sales team.  Visit our contact us page here.

Author: Sarah Griffiths

Friday, November 09, 2012

Geek Video of the Month

The Airpod has nearly arrived, the car that runs on air!  We first heard about the Airpod back in 2009 when the Guardian Environment talked about the Airpod here.

The creator of the Car India’s Tata Motors is debuting the Airpod again. Since the previous debut, they have been working closely with MDI an engineering company which has been developing zero pollution engines since the early 90s.

The Airpod isn't powered via peddle power, (AKA Flintstone Stylee!!) it is powered by compressed air, which you refill with an external pump. The electric motor on board the Airport will 'refuel' while in motion (takes 2 minutes to fill up). The Car is ideally suited for urban city folk as top speed is 43mph. It looks tiny but we have read that it will seat 3 adults and a child, plus there is room for luggage.  There is no steering wheel inside, just a joystick (The movie Total Recall springs to mind, Google "Total Recall Taxi" to see what we mean!).

The video shows the car in action, it isn’t very compelling, perhaps they need help with their online marketing.

So would you consider getting an Airpod ? let us know in the comments section below.

Author: Sarah Griffiths and Fiona Anderson.

Wednesday, October 10, 2012

Facebook Search versus Google Search

The Flashlight Search Marketing team are big fans of blog and article share.  This week we would like to share with you an article we read over at The Next Web website .

The article discusses 'When, why, and how Facebook will take on Google in search'.

Here is a snippet from the article:

"Facebook and Google have been on a collision course for years, and their competitiveness has only increased with the release of Google+ just 14 months ago. As the service becomes more and more popular, one has to wonder how Facebook feels about the search giant encroaching on its turf. More importantly, one also has to wonder if Facebook has plans to hit Google back where it hurts"

Continue reading here: It's inevitable: When, why, and how Facebook will take on Google in search at The Next Web.

The idea of your search results being influenced by people in your network is what Google+ is all about. Facebook are simply doing the same. Or is it the other way round...?

The Next Web article gives further reasons to set a Facebook page for your business.  If you need any help with this, let Rocktime's Flashlight Search Marketing team know.

Author: Sarah Griffiths

Monday, October 08, 2012

Latest Update to Google Products

Rocktime's Flashlight Search Marketing team are tasked with keeping their clients up to date with latest changes to the three main search engines, Google, Bing and Yahoo.  This week we are reporting on the latest updates to Google Products. Reported over at the Google Blog, titled 'More spring cleaning' dated: 28/9/12.

In summary Google are closing down some of the less popular products, so that they don’t spread themselves too thin.  They have also reported on several product updates to benefit their customers.

Google write: 

"Technology offers so many opportunities to help improve users’ lives. This means it is really important to focus or we end up doing too much with too little impact. So today we’re winding down a bunch more features—bringing the total to nearly 60 since we started our “spring” clean last fall" .

The latest products to be put on the chopping block include the below:

AdSense for Feeds
: which allowed publishers to place adverts on their RSS feeds (closing December 3rd for more information visit the AdSense Help Centre)

Classic Plus: which enabled people to upload of select images to use as their background on Google.com (Closing November 2012)

Spread sheet Gadgets: which enabled you to add customised features into Google spread sheets is being turned off. (Early 2013)

There are also several updates for the benefit of their customers:

Update to Google Storage: the storage available in Picasa and Google Drive will be consolidated.  Users will have 5GB of free storage across both services. (Being actioned November 2012)

Google Insights for Search: which we love, is being merged with Google Trends. Also they no longer will allow you to compare traffic to and audience of different websites. (in effect now)

Our favourite change is that they have introduced +1 reports in Google Webmaster Tools, to help publishers measure +1 activity on their pages.  They have also stated that measuring social media remains a priority for Google Analytics and will post another improvement update soon.

If you would like to find out if you are benefiting from having an awareness of Google Products, why not talk to the Flashlight Search Marketing team today.

Author: Sarah Griffiths

Friday, October 05, 2012

Geek Video of the Month

This month’s Geek Video of the month, was spotted over at www.notcot.org. The website which seeks to bring you ideas, aesthetics and amusement. For more random videos and inspiration you can follow NotCot on Twitter here.

I am a huge fan of Lego, so when I was invited to source this month’s Geek Video of the month, it had to be this jaw dropping Lego masterpiece, which as I type is being shared between lego geeks across the social networks.

The Great Ball Contraption took more than 600 hours to create over two years, and is being referred to as ‘the most insane Lego machine ever built’.  After being launched on YouTube it went viral in just 2 days.!!  At the time of writing this blog, the video has had over 5 million visits and it continues to rise.

I think the popularity in the video is because the machine has no real purpose and the detail that has gone into the build, for no reason other than, because he can, is just awesome.

It was created by Lego genius Akiyuki (YouTube account here: http://www.youtube.com/user/akiyuky) in his living room and transports little balls at a rate of one ball per second.   My personal favourite parts of the Lego machine masterpiece is the digger that moves the balls and the firing of the balls into the basketball net. Genius!

Let us know below what your favourite part is in the comments section. Happy viewing!

Also, this may interest you, I found out over at Lego’s Wikipedia page that the Lego Group's motto is det bedste er ikke for godt which means roughly 'only the best is the best' (more literally 'the best is never too good'). I wonder how they will encourage Akiyuki to continue his amazing work. I also found out that the company name “Lego”, derived from the Danish phrase leg godt, which means “play well”.  Well after watching this I think I have found a new hobby, it’s play time ;)

Author: Sarah Griffiths

Friday, September 14, 2012

A web designer's anecdotal design brief process

A How to and how not to brief a website designer guide
A humourous guide for clients and the website design brief

The following is a web designer’s helpful and anecdotal perspective to guide clients through the 8 point process of writing a creative website design brief; the ‘what to do’ and ‘what is best to avoid doing’ list.

So, you’ve secured funding for your new B2C or B2B website, it’s now time to get things moving in the right direction.

The first thing that you might want to give careful consideration to is creating a website design brief. A brief for your new site should be a comprehensive and helpful document, something that our design, web development and search marketing teams can look at to get an idea of what you want. It needn’t be too extensive; keeping things concise and to the point is much more useful.

In order to help you put together a brief quickly and easily, we suggest breaking it down into the following sections. One of our web designers has also added some links to one of their favourite sites to give you an idea of the things that we don’t find extremely useful.

1. What do you want the website to do?
99% of the time the answer to this question will be, “To make money”. How it makes money is the important thing. Do you intend to sell items or services online? Is the site intended to be a catalogue of your products designed to get your phone ringing? Will it be an information portal generating money from advertising? Will you charge for membership? If it’s a top secret idea that you want to guard with your life... well we’re usually willing to sign non disclosure agreements.
Client's funny response about what the website should do

2. What’s your target market?
A site that targets 80 year old woman is going to differ slightly from one targeting teenage boys. Will the site be accessed mainly from desktops or people on the go using mobiles and tablets? Do you specifically intend to target mixed race 50-somethings looking for a good fish and chip shop in the Leyton Buzzard area? You know your market better than we do, it’s your job. It’s our job to know how best to target that market.
Client's funny response about their audience.

3. What’s your budget?
We don’t need to know exactly what you’re prepared to spend but a ball park figure is helpful for all concerned. It’s also good to be realistic in your expectations. While it’s true that there are a number of companies out there who offer to build sites for under £100 that sort of budget is more likely to result in the website equivalent of a Reliant Robin rather than an Aston Martin DB9
Client's funny response about budget considerations.

4. Do you currently have a website?
If you do what’s the URL? What aspects do you like about your site? What are you not happy with? Is it working? How long has it been online for? What did it cost you? Have you seen a return on the investment?
Client's funny response to expectations for the website.

5. Do you have an existing identity?
If you already have a logo, colour scheme and brand guidelines that’s great, it makes our job a lot easier. If not, would you like us to create any of these for you?
Client's funny response about the corporate identity.

6. Any idea of how you would like it to look?
What’s helpful here are some example sites that you like the look and feel of. Sites that will work with your product and your target audience. Is there a particular feel you want to achieve? What sort of experience would you like the design to convey?
Client's funny response about the look and feel of the website.

7. Keep things simple
There’s no need to over-complicate matters with long winded explanations describing in great detail how you expect every section of the site to work. When it comes to meeting face to face we can discuss functionality. If you have a complicated, idea we’ll strive to make the user experience as simple as possible.
Client's funny response about keeping it simple.

8. Anything out of the ordinary?
A lot of our clients focus on the unique selling point of their website, something that makes them stand out from the crowd. It could be a unique way of interacting with users that completely immerses them in the experience, perhaps it’s more about the look and feel, maybe there’s an idea for some off the wall navigation. Sometimes this idea can be so great that it encourages everyone on the team to get behind a project that could turn out to be the next big thing, sometimes however...
Client's funny response about point of difference.

Rocktime has naturally written out some steps you can follow for writing a creative or campaign objectives brief and our Sales Team will happily help you draft out some ideas for your website. It should be an enjoyable and exciting exercise.

What funny anecdotes do you have about the website design process?

Authors: Foz, Fiona Anderson

Friday, August 31, 2012

Geek Video of the Month

Raspberry Pi smart glasses translate in real time

It's great when various technologies come together to create something innovative, exciting and useful!  We have already seen the scope of the Raspberry Pi and the hope that it might get children interested in programming.

Will Powell is a good example of that creative approach to technology; he read about Google’s 'Project Glass', which was our May Geek Video of the Month.

Will decided he’d have a go at a DIY attempt to try to achieve something similar. And what he’s come up with is downright remarkable. Here’s his automatic translation system, which uses a couple of Raspberry Pis, a 3d headset, some microphones, a TV and an iPhone to display real-time subtitles in your glasses as you have a conversation.
We could all have done with this technology whilst travelling throughout Europe in the 80's!

If you want to see examples of where Rocktime shares a love of innovation with our clients please check out OM Property Management's Property Online (YPO) Business System ARMA Innovation Award 2011, or our approach to web consultancy as a way to determine the best strategy for your business website.

Author: Andy Clarke, Fiona Anderson

Tuesday, August 21, 2012

Benefits of using CSS3 - Cascading Style Sheets

clean and easy to read mark up with CSS3
Cascading Style Sheets separate the content of an HTML page from the presentation

It might help to think of CSS3 as a sequel, and like all good sequels you’ll need to understand a little bit about previous releases to get the most out of it.

The idea of Cascading Style Sheets is to separate the content of an HTML page from the presentation. There are two main benefits from this:

Each page on a site can reference the same style sheet, and changes made to this document can affect the whole site.
The mark up is kept clean and easy to read by both humans and search engines.

That’s pretty much it. Doesn’t sound like much does it? It’s pretty useful stuff though.

To illustrate the first point, imagine that you run a website with 100 pages and for some reason,  and I can’t think for the life of me why you would, you think it would be a good idea to change the font used through the site, to comic sans. Well, without 'style sheets' you would have to go into every page to manually change all the relevant tags in the mark up and this would take a rather long time, as well as being incredibly infuriating. (Doubly, should the client then realise that comic sans is not actually to their liking and want to change it back to arial!) With style sheets you can simply change one file and it’s 'job done'!

Then there’s the benefit of cleaner mark up. The content to code ratio has long been considered important in the world of search engine optimisation. If cleaner code gets you better results then it could ultimately mean more revenue for your business and who doesn’t like a bit of extra revenue these days?

So what of the very first incarnation? CSS 1 came along at the tail end of 1996 and allowed you to have control over, amongst other things, font styling, colours, tables, images, margins and borders. While this all sounds great, it wasn’t very successful and not many people used it. The browsers of the day simply didn’t support it very well, so what was the point in using something that, for most people, simply wouldn’t work?

Eighteen months later the imaginatively titled CSS 2 was released which allowed you to do even more things. Now you were able to control positioning more accurately, layer items on top of each other and even add funky shadows. It still didn’t work!

A few years later came CSS 2.1 - an obvious naming convention. The idea was essentially to fix some bugs and get things working uniformly across the browsers. People had started taking up style sheets with more enthusiasm now, as more and more browsers were sticking to standards that, on the most part, had been adopted. But there was a fly in the ointment...the dreaded IE6. Microsoft had decided to do whatever they wanted when it came to implementing CSS support, and as a result, has become the thing of nightmares. In some cases it was possible to make a site look fantastic on every single browser on the market but IE6 would render nothing but a blank screen. It was infuriating and still to this day, causes headaches, as larger companies can be reluctant to update their systems.

This brings us on to CSS 3. As with the previous releases, it essentially just builds on what came before it, allowing you to do a whole host of fun and exciting things like rounded corners, gradients, text shadows, multiple columns and more...and guess what, it still doesn’t work! Actually that’s a little bit harsh. When I say it doesn’t work, I mean that it still isn’t fully supported across all browsers but after more than fifteen years we’ve learnt an important message... it doesn’t matter. If a design is well thought out and works well, do we need to get 'hung up about things' if it doesn’t look exactly right in 'older browsers'? Of course not! If a button doesn’t have a rich gradient background, rounded corners and a drop shadow effect, could it still look good? Of course it can! If the main text doesn’t have a drop shadow on some browsers, so what? It’s still exactly the same font, colour and size. Design just requires a little bit more thought and a general acceptance that things aren’t going to look 'exactly' the same, across all browsers. On the plus side, you’ll get faster loading times and much richer looking sites on the browsers that do support CSS3.

And besides... although it’s not yet supported, CSS 4 is just around the corner!

Please check out some of our client case study examples. CSS3 is just one the many web consultancy areas Rocktime can help your business with. If you want to find out how we can help your business be found faster in the search results because CSS coding can be read very fast by search engines, then please contact us for a Sales quote.

What have been your experiences with HTML5 / CSS3 webapps?

Authors: Foz, Thom, Fiona Anderson

Friday, August 10, 2012

Social Mobile Local Global and the Olympics

distinctive uniforms worn by Team GB at London olympics
Team GB uniforms by Stella McCartney and adidas

At the time of writing this, The United Kingdom of Great Britain and Northern Ireland, commonly known as the United Kingdom, or Great Britain and Northern Ireland, or more recently 'Team GB' are doing rather well at London 2012 Summer Olympics. With a haul of 26 gold, 16 silver and 14 bronze medals - it’s our best showing for over a century. With 204 countries competing, this Olympic Games is truly a global event and shared throughout the world on social networks.

Social - Twitter
Before the games even started a Greek athlete was kicked off the team for tweeting with a racist overtone and it’s been a story of highs and lows for Twitter ever since. After posting some pretty malicious tweets about the diver Tom Daley, a teenager from Weymouth was arrested and given a dressing down by the police. For a fleeting moment this story was global headline news and seems to have re-ignited the debate as to how the authorities should deal with social network incidents of this nature.

Adam Naisbitt set up @2012TicketAlert after he tried to get hold of gymnastics tickets for his fiancée. This unofficial ticket alert helped thousands of people get tickets and filled the empty seats that were causing such a stir in the media. Of course the people at Ticketmaster and  LOCOG didn’t like his code crawling their site and they put a stop to it. But 30,000 angry Twitter users ensured that the service was re-instated. The Ticket Alert profile now has 54,466 followers.

Each day Google has been running little games on their home page that typically take less than 30 seconds to play. They look nice, well illustrated as with all Google Doodles, are easy to play and are relevant to the day's sporting events.

Any search involving the keyword ‘medals’ results in an up to date medal table at the top of the SERPS. Yep, the UK does seem to be doing rather well!

After winning gold in the Women's Heptathlon, Jessica Ennis had amassed over 600,000 followers and counting: today it is 726,516 with 957,976 talking about this page. Chances are that at least one of your Facebook ‘friends’ has liked her official page. But that is still a way off from the American basketball player, Kobe Bryant’s who has 13 million 'Likes'!  David Beckham, Britain's most decorated football player of all time, has 20 million. There’s even a trend in celebrity chart  if you prefer that to the actual medal count! Naturally, Usain Bolt is the most popular Olympian today.

There’s an app for that.
Shortly after the first athletes started arriving at the Olympic village, 'GPS, location-based Grindr', an app, or also known as a 'geosocial networking application', that hooks up gay men with others in the local vicinity, crashed due to the increase in traffic. Both the BBC Olympics and the official London 2012 apps have proved extremely popular. The free BBC Olympics app for iOS and Android devices gives headlines, video features, schedules and details about every sport, country and competitor.

The Join In app for iPhone, Android and BlackBerry phones connect viewers with local news updates and information about everything that is going on, in and around the Olympics, such as maps, guides, schedules, information on cash machine locations, ticketing issues and wheelchair access.

Rule 40
“Except as permitted by the IOC Executive Board, no competitor, coach, trainer or official who participates in the Olympic Games may allow his person, name, picture or sports performances to be used for advertising purposes during the Olympic Games.”  In the interests of protecting big global business sponsors, this effectively barred athletes from thanking any unofficial sponsors on social media platforms. The athletes are considered 'labelled marketing assets' and Twitter as a 'marketing tool'.

Media - BBC
The BBC, as usual, have done us proud. The 'Danny Boyle, Isle of Wonders' opening ceremony had 27M UK viewers and not surprisingly, generated more tweets than the entire Beijing Olympic Games four years ago and amassed a staggering 9.66 million worldwide tweets . Nice touch honouring Tim Berners-Lee, the founder of the Web, in the ceremony. You can watch any event live on the BBC website. You can get involved with live comments and nowadays the BBC even retweet comments.

All the major newspapers like @Telegraph2012  have set up dedicated Twitter streams of Olympic coverage. Many of the newspapers regularly make direct quotes from Twitter posts.

The Olympics inspired blogs from all over the world, from sport clothing designs, jokes, politics, women's rights, celebrity to youth engagement ideals.

In addition to Transport for London’s (TfL) permanent Twitter account (@TfLOfficial) a number of Transport for London Twitter accounts were set up to provide additional local advice on how services and roads are operating during the Games @TfLTrafficNews, @TfLTraveAlerts and @GAOTG.

The 'social media accounts' and 'travel mailing lists' introduced by TfL are supplemented by a number of other online travel platforms. Concentra launched an interactive graphic detailing which Tube stations were likely to face the most severe disruptions on any given day of the Olympics; Google maps offered cycling directions for Londoners planning on cycling to work during the Games.

Mashable Tech did their own article on The Olympics of tech which makes some entertaining reading about achievements in digital, mobile, social and programming.

Half of all the searches and video streams in USA and UK are coming from mobiles and tablets during the Olympic games. Social Mobile Local Global; it’s all the same thing!

It is amazing to see all the technologies, social and search all coming together. Here at Rocktime we feel very proud of the Olympians and we are reminded yet again what a great industry of digital development we work in.

Which social or technical innovation inspired you the most at the Olympics?

Authors: Foz, Fiona Anderson

Wednesday, August 01, 2012

Picasa, Blogger, image optimisation and SEO

a variety of RocktimeSocial blog images saved in Picasa

Rocktime has talked previously about Picasa as a photo sharing platform ‘Photosharing: Flickr versus Picasa’, in extension to that post, we would like to contribute some knowledge with regards to how Picasa integrates with your blogger account. Reason being, when using Blogger as your blogging platform, as we do here at Rocktime, you may not realise it but every image you upload through blogger goes onto your Picasa Web account.

With any free photo sharing web account, like Picasa, it is worth making sure about storage capacity. Picasa Web Albums offer a 1GB size limit, however, the additional charges for Google storage are fairly minimal. Not every single image you upload contributes to the total storage; images under a certain size will not count towards your 1GB limit. Furthermore, having a Google+ account will actually increase what you can upload for free, without taking it out of your 1GB limit. Google+ offers unlimited storage for photos uploaded in Google+, which are automatically resized to 2048 pixels. Videos up to 15 minutes in length are also free. G+ is almost turning into an image archiving facility.

An alternative is to use your own image hosting, uploading images to your domain, or using another online image hosting service, and then direct linking to the image through your blog post.

If you want to conserve space on your Picasa Web Albums account, another thing to look out for  is to manage duplicate images, which is an issue that sometimes crops up when uploading images to Picasa from your PC.

This is due to the way Picasa scans your computer for images; if you have the same image stored in a different file, Picasa might choose to treat it as two separate images. If you’re making use of the Import button to bring photos from your computer into Picasa, check the ‘Exclude Duplicates’ option at the bottom of the page. This will force Picasa to check for duplicate entries by comparing factors such as size and names etc, and hopefully remove the likelihood of any copies of images being uploaded.

Last year Google wrote some recommendations for improvement with the Google Picasa and Blogger integration which links to the Google Picasa Help Forum if more assistance is needed.

There are many other features from Picasa that help to keep a blog engaging, such as fast Picasa Web photo viewer, manager and uploader for Android devices - called Picasa Mobile -, which was designed to facilitate viewing and managing your online Picasa albums and photos.

Google Picasa Web Albums recently added a range of new image editing effects like Boarders, Vignette, Duo-tone, and more effects similar to editing in Adobe Photoshop, Irfan view and PaintNet photo editing software, which helps to make the photos look more professional.

There are numerous SEO advantages of optimising images in Picasa, like the ability to geo tag images, which adds geo-location details to help your local search engine rankings, high-quality backlinks pointing to your website, better page load time from reduced bandwidth and storage reduction, good search engine presence for your images, a library of images that can be shared socially, and you can even embed Slideshows in blog post from Picasa.

One feature that should never be overlooked with any images is the actual image optimisation process. We will write a more detailed brief on this in the coming weeks. Generally though, the rule of thumb is to make sure that the image is named accurately, that the image contains some of the keywords relevant to the blog or content of the article and that Google is given all the contextual and any localisation details about the image. This way, the chance of the image being found on Google Images is greatly improved. Every image on Google Images is a possible link back to a website and helpful to users. All good for user journey, mobile viewing, relevant content, sharing opportunities and SEO.  This can all be done in Picasa before uploading the image. Picasa allows that image to be shared in a number of ways, which is great for running marketing campaigns.

Once the images are uploaded to the blogger blog, it takes just a few moments to go into the HTML or right click the image in 'compose' mode and add the alt text for the image. Alt text, or alternative text of an image, tells the user about the image depending on the context in which the image is used.  Alt is not a tag, or a place to stuff keywords, it is an 'attribute'. Basically, search engines cannot crawl images, they index the text part attached with it, so the alt text is an alternative for non-visual browsers.
Images play a massive role in mobile, directories, user reviews, blogger engagement, social networks, websites, press coverage and organic inbound marketing link building campaigns.

If you’re interested in learning more about Google updates, services or how Rocktime helps businesses to use image optimisation as part of good practice for SEO, Accessibility and an Integrated Digital Marketing Strategy, then please ask one of our Flashlight Search Marketing Team  about publishing your content to a larger audience, it is something we are passionate about and have been talking to our clients about for the last 2 or 3 years. Check out the blog we wrote back in 2010 about Good practice on adding images to Blogs.

Please get in touch with Rocktime Sales Team to arrange a meeting or leave us a comment below about how image optimisation can make a difference.

Author: Fiona Anderson

Wednesday, July 18, 2012

Geek Video of the Month

To honour Alan Turing, the clever people at LEGO have built a simple LEGO Turing Machine, to show everyone how simple a computer actually is. This is a great way to make every operation as visible as possible. LEGO Turing Machine was made using the automatic components of just a single LEGO MINDSTORMS NXT set.

According to Wikipedia"A Turing machine is a device that manipulates symbols on a strip of tape according to a table of rules. Despite its simplicity, a Turing machine can be adapted to simulate the logic of any computer algorithm, and is particularly useful in explaining the functions of a CPU inside a computer."

The Rocktime software developers are very impressed with the Turing machine language. If you require something a bit less complex but of great importance and bespoke for your business development, then please give us a call.

Author: Andy Clarke, Fiona Anderson

Wednesday, July 11, 2012

Social Media Monitoring Tools and ROI

a useful tool for working out ROI
Percentage Change Calculator

ROI is the heart of business.
One of the areas we always try and encourage all our clients to adopt is to test, track, monitor, measure, evaluate and determine what is successful and work out what makes them some money.
That all important expression; ROI; Return On Investment. It is not a clichéd expression, it is the very reason to decide on one campaign over another, the reason to undertake new creative directions, the planning behind a new product development, the logic for expansion, the inspiration for optimising all the new channels. ROI is the heart of business.

Social media encourages businesses to do their business better
When it comes to social media it is a slightly different approach. Social media is really all about the users, the visitor, the customers. Social media is a wonderful medium that encourages businesses to do their business better, by offering real time customer services, creative ways of expressing their brand personality, making all their web pages and content relevant and user friendly and allowing pride in their brand to come through whilst tailoring everything they do be of value to their customers, their customer's enjoyment and their customer's user journey.

What to monitor on the social networks
Social media as a marketing tool is necessary and of benefit. The challenge comes when financial 'purse holders' in an organisation are less comfortable allowing insight in to the business structure.
So, when the question arises whether to engage in social media as a marketing tool, many businesses try to calculate what the return on investment will be. A very sensible approach!
The question is which metrics to use, what methods to use to capture the data, what tracking codes to add to the website, which free tools to employ, how much time and resources to expend on the process, how frequently to engage in the networks, which parts of the business to be involved in the communications, what data to calculate against another, what is an ideal conversion rate, how much testing needs to be undertaken, etc.
Quite a challenge for any business to determine straight off!

Search results have influenced what to monitor
Then there has also been some great Google updates that have recently taken place, to factor in and consider. These algorithm updates offer some real benefits to businesses, in terms of working out how their social media and search marketing come together but these updates also add to the confusion of what to measure, monitor and ultimately, how to calculate success and ROI. 
When Google announced the launch of Google social search update ‘Search plus Your World’ in January 2012 it brought social media and search marketing a giant step closer to each other, in terms of what is displayed in the search results.
Then the lines between social, mobile and local all converged in recent updates and businesses were again asking how they could best maximise their social media expenditures and prove a return on investment.

The integrated social media strategy
The tools to monitor social media are as varied as the social media strategies. A business signing off on a new social media campaign can be pleased with their efforts to determine what their social landscape is, their audience, their competitor analysis, their tone of voice, which social networks and channels are suitable to their business strategy, added social share and social badges and planned what type of content they want to share and have shared. They optimise their images, develop an inbound marketing strategy, sign off on engaging relevant content and set up a team to engage on a regular basis.
As visitors begin to leave comments and ask questions, occasionally post a review; both positive or negative, as in bound marketing links start to expand and content gets shared, often virally, the businesses start to realise the benefits immediately of having a social media strategy in place.
At some point shortly after this initial entry level stage, most businesses wonder how they managed before social media; the doors of communication are opened and both customers and suppliers get to be part of the business and no longer an entity to be broadcast to, or at.

Where to start with social media monitoring
This brings us back to the question of what to track, measure and evaluate. Well, there are loads of free tools to choose from and some with quite modest fees, that do a very reasonable job. 
Certainly opening a Google Account is a must. Google has not only set itself up to be a vast search engine but also has developed some splendid free tools to assist businesses with tracking their website performance. It is great to have a good presence on the social networks but if a visitor follows a link to a broken or slow website for more information, the positive user journey and brand impression is easily quashed.

Google Webmaster Tools enabled in Google analytics is ideal for tracking site traffic and conducting an SEO audit on the website; together these tools monitor and track social interaction analytics, user engagement, referring sites, conversions for e-commerce and landing pages, trends, adding goal tracking, event tracking and sales or multi-channel filters, cross domain tracking, and even a tool to help businesses experiment with content to improve goal conversions. 
There are also tools to give an overview on site load time, crawl errors, submitting XML sitemaps to Google, demoting sitelinks, discovering 404 page errors, working out which landing pages indexed by Google are bringing traffic etc, etc, etc. 
There are not only tools to track, measure and evaluate but there are also a plethora of reports that can be pulled from these 2 tools, plus plenty of forums and blogs for additional assistance.
So whilst the website is getting into optimum performance, the keyword research is being completed and the social media landscape review is being finalised, then this is a perfect time to start implementing the social media monitoring tools and determining which channells will be monitored by which tools.

Which social media monitoring tools to use
Having reread this summary list above, it sounds like we love Google Products. It is true! 
We haven't even started to mention all the other free tools in Google that help business grow and sell their products online; like Google AdWords, Google Shopping, Google+ Local, Google Maps, Blogger, Picasa with its great geo tagging facilities, Google Alerts, iGoogle Dashboard set up with RSS feeds of social media monitoring tools and plugins, Google Mobile and...back to social media; Google+ for brands and businesses. All activity within these products can be monitored for ROI.
There are, however, many other products we use, trial and consider for client use also. Each client is unique and has a unique set of requirements when it comes to reporting and demonstrating success and therefore, some monitoring products fit better with certain clients than others. 

Some of the following social media monitoring products will be very familiar to many businesses; like HooteSuite, Netvibes, Facebook Insights, Social Mention, YouTube Insight, Klout, SocialBro, Google Blogsearch, twilert and Tweetdeck. 
We also have insights into some of the fee-based options like Brandwatch, Meltwater, Wildfire etc and currently looking into some campaign specific tools that focus on leads and conversions, like Optify. Viralblog kindly wrote a useful guide to some of the other social media and monitoring tools
We are always looking for the least time consuming, the most accurate, easy to use and most integrated tools for monitoring. What we monitor is dictated by the brand or business sector, the social networks a business is active on, the amount of resources both budget and human to listen to the networks and process the data the monitoring tools provide. Also, importantly, we refine these processes as a business gains in confidence from the reports and starts to build broader strategies based on the insights and opportunities the reports provide. It really is a team effort!

Objectives of social media monitoring

So we can narrow this down a bit, to 'what we want to monitor'
  • social media monitoring
  • social media analytics
  • social media reporting
and also 'why we want to monitor'
  • review industry trends and business intelligence
  • real-time monitoring with a view to good customer services and PR
  • engagement
then we can 'choose a strategy for monitoring'
  • goals
  • choose suitable tools
  • types of reports
Future direction of social media monitoring
Brands that actively embraced social media a few years ago will have seen many changes and also chosen to change how they conduct themselves.

Listen Learn Engage (2009)
Inform Inspire Interact (2011)
Reach Impact Influence (2012)

The future of communicating in a face-to-face environment is still vital; the social networks make it easier for people to decide who they want to do business with, work with and socialise with. 
The vast data crunching side of monitoring and metrics is becoming ever more sophisticated, as we try and justify business expenditure and making sure we are marketing ourselves in the most prudent fashion.
Since mobile and mobile applications have become a tool that seldom leave our hand, we have been supplying more and more data about our sentiments, our preferences and our whereabouts. WE are being tracked, monitored and analysed also. Local targeted marketing campaigns pinpoint where we are and what we are looking for and we share this information freely.
Likewise, we can set up all our monitoring tools to report and alert us on our mobile devices.

Social CRM and sentiment monitoring
The image above shows one of the 5 Rocktime useful online tools that we developed to help businesses: calculate the Percentage Change in campaign performance, the ROI sales funnel to work out how many visitors a site needs to increase reach to meet monthly targets, the Campaign Objectives Worksheet to assist with planning a strategy for social media, the Social Media Toolkit to determine the specific social landscape and opportunities for a business.

Rocktime even built our own BETA social sentiment CRM monitoring tool, called Chatabot, which we will use for ‘managing connections and networks of interaction’. Chatabot is a compliment to social media monitoring platforms that track ‘mentions’. We designed Chatabot to manually track potential engagements that a business wants to engage further with; so they don’t forget them.  We originally called it a 'virtual Social Networking PA'. There are dozens if not hundreds of platforms that can track the social landscape but they don’t seem to offer the human element of collecting leads together for future engagement
Such as
  • blogger engagement
  • social opportunities
  • PR
  • networks
  • directories
  • satisfied customers who could become brand advocates
Chatabot will certainly help to keep track of all the social engagements, better than a ‘spreadsheet / email / database / bookmarks / calendar’; which is what most businesses rely on. The market is gradually changing from purely monitoring likes, hits, shares etc, to the sentiment behind the engagement. That is the human side of monitoring social engagement.

Benefits of social media monitoring
Without monitoring a business's landscape, how will a business identify that there may be an issue that is being publicly debated and shared, or without tracking analytics how will a business know that we helped increase their web traffic by 400% within 2 weeks of launch of the website, how will we be able to prove that relevant landing pages with social media badges work best for paid search campaigns without the AdWords tracking code, how will the Hotels record that bookings are up from new optimised keyword research and integration with custom Facebook Apps, how can we see how competitive keywords within optimised web pages is increasing online visibility in the Google rankings without doing the keyphrase positioning review every month, how can a customer services team know they are dealing correctly with all issues unless they monitor their Twitter account for example. How will a business deal with a crisis if they are unused to explaining about their operation and ways in which they are good at solving problems for their customers.
This is all part of the consideration process we work through with brands and businesses about how best to use real-time data and advanced analytics.

On a humourous note, it was pointed out that within the Rocktime corporate name we had already given consideration to roi: R O ckt I me.
If you want to devise a strategy for social media and need to demonstrate to the Board of Directors that there is ROI then please give Rocktime a call; we can show you how exciting this development is for a business and satisfy the 'purse holder' that a strategy to integrate social media with search marketing, mobile and local is of value and profitable. Rocktime can help to 'keep it simple', define what to monitor and which reports will prove useful to the Team and therefore aid further investment and growth. We look forward to hearing what your business is all about!

We post regular tweets on @RocktimeSocial with interesting social and search developments, if you prefer to watch us for a while before you make contact.

What social media monitoring tools work for you? What are the best examples of ROI from monitoring that you have seen?

Author: Fiona Anderson

Thursday, July 05, 2012

Now vs Then

A humorous view point from one of the Web Developers at Rocktime, about 'Now vs Then' and the advances in technology; with reference to some nostalgic technologies.

As a child, who was born in the 70’s, my childhood experience of technology differs greatly from the world that my daughter will grow up in.

My little girl turned one at the weekend and as such she will never know of a world without mobile phones, digital photography, the internet, on demand television, online shopping, iTunes, sat nav or Facebook. I on the other hand grew up blissfully ignorant surrounded by red phone boxes, cheap instamatic cameras, BBC Microcomputers, TISWAS, waiting 28 days for delivery, our price, maps and actually having to speak to people face to face.

So in the interest of having a little bit of fun, let’s have a look at each of these points in turn.

Mobile Phones vs Red Phoneboxes 

Although I work at Rocktime, I must admit to having a bit of a pet hate towards mobiles. Granted they have completely changed the face of communication and with each month there appears to be a new all singing all dancing model that claims to rival a Cray Supercomputer.

So what if you can play games, surf the web, take photos, listen to music, check emails, augment reality, or make a super skinny yummy mocha latte with your latest phone. I still can’t shift the 80’s image of larger-than-life men going through a mid-life crisis showing off their breeze block sized phones as a bizarre status symbol. Before mobile phones we made plans and we stuck to them.

Technology - 0 : Old fashioned red phone boxes - 1

Digital Photography vs Cheap Instamatic Cameras

I used to go travelling with a Boots instamatic, that cost about a fiver and come back with dozens of rolls of film, not having the foggiest what was on any of them. Eventually, I would get around to developing them and spend a few hours grinning like a deranged madman as I would re-live the events surrounding each photograph.

Of course, out of perhaps several thousand snap shots that I’ve taken this way, there are probably less than a dozen that would look good hung on a wall. While the professionals may debate whether film or digital produces the best results, the sheer numbers of photographs we can take inevitably mean that we’ll get a greater number of photographs we can be proud of using digital. But please remember people, simply going out and spending a few hundred pounds on the latest piece of kit does not make you David Bailey.

Technology - 1 : Blurriness - 1

The internet vs BBC Microprocessors

No contest, the internet wins. You can play the Acornsoft classic elite online!

Technology - 2 : 32kb - 1

On Demand TV vs TISWAS

Okay, if all TV was like TISWAS, great as it was, on demand would probably win this one. I do think that the likes of Virgin’s on demand service, iPlayer and the like have taken away the mystique of my beloved telly. I remember when there was only three channels and recall watching the first episode of Countdown the day that Channel 4 launched to great fanfare. We had to watch what the schedulers said we should watch and as a result some programmes became a national event.

The next day we would gingerly discuss the previous evening’s entertainment over monster munch and frazzles. Every Christmas they would show Star Wars and The Great Escape, there would be a Bond film pretty much every bank holiday and we would lap it up together as a country! Nowadays, you can download a film before the actors have even finished filming it and all sense of grandeur and occasion is lost as it squeezes onto a memory stick.

Technology - 2 : Nostalgia - 2

Online shopping vs Waiting 28 days for delivery

Firstly, whenever you sent away for something you had to pay for it with a Postal Order as very few children had bank accounts! These were only available from Post Offices (Do they even exist now????) and as such the experience would inevitably involve having to stand in close proximity to a gaggle of pensioners. Inevitably, the cost of the goods meant that you had to purchase a ridiculous combination of smaller denominations of PO in order to get the correct amount. You would then have to buy a stamp, find an envelope and a piece of paper, write down your details and order, address the envelope and then go and post it in the mail box. For some reason everything used to take 28 days to deliver which meant by the time it had turned up you were either no longer interested, or the purchase in question was so drastically out of fashion that you dare not be seen with it in public for fear of being branded a social luddite!

Technology - 3 : Rubbish - 2

iTunes vs Our Price

iTunes. If you could buy vinyl from apple I would have scored them 2 points!

Technology - 4 : My cassette has broken - 2

Sat nav vs Maps

Every so often you hear about someone who’s blindly followed their sat nav’s instructions and ended up either in the wrong county/stuck up a mountain/or at the bottom of a lake. Sensible route planning is in order.

Technology - 4 : Learn to read a map, it’s not that hard - 3

Facebook vs speaking to people face to face.

While Facebook is great for catching up with old friends, seeing what people are up to and having several different conversations at any given moment; you can’t beat good old fashioned human interaction.

Technology - 4 : The Dark Ages - 4

So it’s officially a draw. My daughter’s life will be pretty much the same as mine and in years to come, most of the items listed above will be obsolete and serve only to serve up fond memories.


Every aspect of working in web development and creating integrated search marketing campaigns is driven by change; be it innovations in hardware, software, social commerce, or Google algorithm updates. Please contact Rocktime if your business recognises that it needs to increase its online visibility globally, nationally or through local optimisation; we can help develop a strategy to embrace these changes.

Author: Foz

Monday, June 25, 2012

Social Local Mobile and Google+ Local Search

Rocktime's Google Places map
It’s no secret that here in Rocktime’s Search Marketing Team; Flashlight, when it comes to Search, we do love Local and it’s not just us; Google loves local too! With the Google Venice update this year, which updated search results to give greater weighting to local search results, it's a great time for large organisations and even smaller businesses aimed at purely local audiences, to take another look at their local search marketing strategy.

Hand in hand with local search is mobile usage; it’s estimated that as much as 50% of mobile queries have local intent, therefore, ranking positions on both Google Places and Google's main search results are something that any business with a localised target market will want to consider.
Since 30 May, Google Places pages are being integrated with Google+ Business Pages and morphed into the new Google+ Local pages. This is all part of Google’s progress in becoming a leading social network for businesses, a way for customers to leave reviews, enhance the user experience and engage with brands and for businesses to improve their chances of being found in the blended and mixed media results.

So when you think of local and mobile it is natural to consider creating relationships with people and building trust and this is where social comes in to the equation, through the convergence of the social web, local-business with mobile; sometimes referred to as SoLoMo

Google Plus Business Pages combined with Google+ Local and being found easily on a mobile is a foremost method of getting better ranking on Google.
It is recommended to still give the same importance to local campaign strategies as would be given to a national or Global digital campaign. Investing time in the all important stages of keyword research, keyphrase positioning and competitor analysis, to determine the most competitive keywords to use in a local targeted campaign, pays off. A complimentary campaign to develop quality organic in bound links, press coverage, reviews and buzz is also worth considering. Content that people want to share is still the best way to get and keep visitors interested; it can now be advantageous to write about local knowledge, about a community neighbourhood and social customer services.

Local can be global and personal, including hyperlocal which is the search for businesses in a neighbourhood: Where shall we have lunch, which hotel shall we stay in, where is the best plumber, who can fix my car, where is a local garden centre, best value transport company in the area etc.

People are used to having their images stored on an external server and now more businesses are using cloud computing which allows them to access content when not specifically in an office, from a fixed location, or from a desktop. Mobile and tablets are adding to that virtualised approach where there is less often the need for a dedicated physical server.

The mobile phone is more like a computer connecting users to the internet and always at hand. Some businesses wisely let their employees use Twitter and Facebook and more often this is performed on a mobile. 40% of social media users access social media content using their mobile phone. Digital maps and geo tagging of images has been greatly improved with map APIs from Yahoo!, Google, Nokia, Bing, Picasa, Panoramio etc and businesses are encouraged to claim and optimise a business listing in a local directory, or niche directory, with geo tagged images, linked to a map and often user reviews.

The surge in location deals and location based social networks that are optimised for multiple touch data devices like tablets and smartphones can capitalise on traffic, brand engagement and product conversations. Businesses are recognising the 'benefits versus cost and effort' involved in maintaining a mobile presence.

There are a few simple tips to follow for local optimisation like:
  • Using the local terms in HTML tags and page content. 
  • Plan to include local focused content on the website as well as in the social and local pages. 
  • Add simple geo tagging to images, micro-formatting and microdata tag improvements that identify the different parts of the address page, map markers and geo located content. 
  • Links to the website that use the local search term in the text link, still remains an important factor to get good local rankings. 
  • Businesses get listed at the top because they fit the geographical area of the search query; usually within 5 miles proximity radius to the area you are trying to target. 
  • Other ranking factors in the local and blended search results are proper categorisation and matching keywords that show local results relevant to your business, have good relevant content and good relevant organic backlinks. 
We would encourage businesses to think of each web page, or directory listing, as a landing page, with relevant content, a simple layout and call to action and a well researched keyword strategy. By doing this on the website and in local directories it makes it easier for businesses to prepare themselves for mobile website content, that can be socially shared, found in the local search results and define their brand values.

Mobile is becoming the primary way for visitors to search and purchase online in the UK, with 95% of smartphone users having searched for local information, Google is responding to the changing way visitors search by making local mobile search more relevant and appealing to advertisers with the 'Google + Local', integrating the business listings across the channels of search, mobile, Google+ and Maps.
Visitors see this as all one channel rather than individual channels, with 70% of UK mobile users being happy to compare prices on their phone. Product reviews form a really important part of the decision making process and 65% of users have checked out product reviews. Last month, PayPal introduced their mobile payments to the high street, so the whole buying process can be completed on a mobile device.
According to Google, 50% of mobile searches lead to a purchase, which is a great incentive for businesses and brands to make it easier for their customers to be better connected through social, local and mobile channels.

Businesses can follow a few established social media steps to harness the best of local and mobile:
  1. Conduct a Social Media landscape review to determine whether the business should create business pages in Facebook, Google + or other leading social networks and where their competitors are being found. 
  2. Social Planning for all members of the business to encourage the correct tone of voice 
  3. Writing strategy for the channels 
  4. Setting up channels 
  5. Social Share Audit 
  6. Incorporate social share icons on relevant content 
  7. Plan blogger engagement; find networks of interactions, Twitter list management 
  8. Add social media badges to the website 
  9. Community page 
  10. Set up a social hub page 
  11. Create compelling content that people will want to share. Provide fresh, updated, local content. 
  12. Develop email marketing campaigns with social share 
  13. Think of customer services with real time responses and embrace the philosophy that customers are not transactions 
  14. Investigate social commerce and social buying trends in social search 
  15. Become a social business and project your social business personality 
  16. Track social media monitoring and social crm 
  17. Review the social analytics and traffic trends.
Google offers numerous free products to businesses and is always endeavouring to refine ways for businesses to be found in the search results, so it is certainly worth utilising these useful products for tracking site traffic in Google Analytics and diagnosing the site’s performance in Webmaster Tools for instance. We recommend conducting a full SEO site audit to be run at the same time as planning a local mobile social strategy. That way, a business can determine if the website is performing well in terms of SEO, structure, technology and business delivery to raise their online visibility.

Some benefits of the convergence of social networking, mobile shopping and local search for consumers:
helps consumers save time
location based deals
mobile payments
valuable information
user friendly maps

Some benefits of the convergence of social networking, mobile shopping and local search for consumers:
availability of consumer data which can be gathered by businesses
create brand advocates and peer influencers for products and services
tailored geo targeted advertising is more cost effective

Therefore, careful localised optimisation is the key for 'local business marketing' through search and  is certainly becoming increasingly important at levelling the playing field between national and local businesses.

If you're interested in finding how Rocktime can help you with your website and local targeted search marketing strategy, then why not check out the work Flashlight does and get in contact with our Sales team.

Author: Fiona Anderson

Wednesday, June 13, 2012

Tesco launches virtual fitting room


Online clothing retail is big business, there’s no doubt about that, but there are some things where even the convenience of online shopping can’t beat being in the store and tying the products on yourself... or can it?

Back at the tail end of February this year, Tesco launched a Facebook based virtual fitting room, with the intention of helping customers find the perfect fit for the brand's F&F clothing online. Of course this is by no means the first venture of its type; it’s been over a year now since eBay did a similar foray into augmented reality themselves.

Similar to the eBay Fashion mobile app, Tesco’s virtual fitting room uses a photo of yourself and your body measurements to try on various clothing from their range, much like a figurative paper doll. Though unlike eBay, rather than a stand-alone mobile app, Tesco instead opted for a Facebook app, linked in directly with their social media strategy. Incorporated in this is the ability to easily share content via Facebook.

Unfortunately, it doesn’t look like there is any statistics currently available, but there are some other similar ventures we can look at. Fits.me launched their virtual fitting room in 2010 and currently reports to have a 57% increase in sales and a 28% reduction in returns and associated costs. Whether these augmented reality fitting rooms for the will prove to be useful or just another modern technology gimmick remains to be seen.

Of course, bespoke software and applications doesn’t have to be all about fitting rooms and augmented reality! Why not look at what we’ve done here at Rocktime and get in contact with our sales team.  

Author: Alice Cheetham

Friday, June 08, 2012

Geek Video of the Month

The GPU Technology Conference (or GTC12 for short), which ran in California last month, aims to highlight advances in computing advances and their importance to the future of science and innovation.

With an agenda like that, it's no wonder we're finding technology that looks like it's straight from a science fiction film!

This month's Geek video courtesy of Andy, our Technical Manager, feels very Minority Report. Built by Eyesight Mobile Technologies, the firm's software uses a regular web camera and allows you to control a laptop with hand gestures. The software works regardless of the camera hardware, computer power and light; maybe before long we'll be seeing this Touch Free user interface technology.

Author: Alice Cheetham, Andy Clarke