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  1. James Fernie on Facebook

    March 30, 2012 by admin

    Anyone who knows anything about SEO will tell you how important your brand terms are. Owning page one of Google for your own terms is the first task of any business. The chances are the brand will already be high up the list for its url but ideally a search for a brand will show results as follows:

      1. PPC ad
      2. Root domain, i.e. www.brandname.com
      3. Wikipedia page about brand (if brand is big enough)
      4. www.facebook.com/brand
      5. Brandname on Twitter
      6. Linked In brand page
      7. Brand blog
      8. News about brand
      9. Images of brand logo
      10. Article in major publication about brand

     

    …or some combination of the above.

     

    So, o.k., I’m not a brand but the same applies for people. First up, bad luck to all the John Smiths and Sarah Browns out there, it’s not going to be easy for you to be first or even dominate page one – you’ll need to share. I am lucky, James Fernie, is not too common but it is more common than I originally thought. Facebook tells me there are around 20 and each of them probably has a Twitter, LinkedIn and other indexable profiles besides.
    So, I’m pretty pleased that a search on my name (Google pings me an email whenever someone does that – honestly it’s research, not paranoia) you’re likely to get the following:
      1. www.jamesfernie.com – unsurprising
      2. my LinkedIn
      3. LinkedIn search for James Fernies – with me top of the list
      4. My Twitter
      5. The other blog I write about cleft lips and palates
      6. A website which talks about a boat called the ‘James Fernie’ (random) which first set sail in 1854
      7. News article written by a James Fernie from Cape Town
      8. A Facebook account for a James Fernie – not me
      9. My pinterest
      10. The contact us page of the company I used to work for – business has been sold but site is still live

     

    So not bad then. However the thing which is doing my head in is that the Facebook profile isn’t mine. This isn’t just a vanity thing. First off, www.facebook.com/jamesfernie is me. Mine, I jumped all over it when they first allowed people to create a custom URL back in 2008, so quite what Google is doing there I don’t know. Secondly, all those other profiles and blogs link to James Fernie on Facebook - o.k social use no follow links, but there’s more than enough other links – including the one I just put in (you can see what I’m doing right?) which should mean it’s my profile and not someone else’s.
    But the main issue with it being someone else’s, is that the guy’s profile pic is him virtually naked with a box on his head. If he has to be naked he could at least show his face so people wouldn’t think it was me!
    Anyway, hopefully this post will get indexed soon enough and I’ll get my Facebook profile back on page one!
    UPDATE – turns out I’d turned off the indexable option from my FB profile – or more likely I didn’t but they did it for me amid one of the various privacy furores and never told me to re enable it. Whatever, my FB is now number 3 or 4 depending on various SEO nonsense. But the other guy is still dancing around with his top off!
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  2. Walkers FB like gate

    February 28, 2012 by admin

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  3. The fad goldrush – be careful which basket you choose.

    February 28, 2012 by admin

    Is probably the lamest headline I’ll ever write. I started with ‘don’t put all your eggs in Facebook’s basket’, but that wouldn’t convey my point completely. Certainly it would cover what I’ve seen over the last 2 or 3 years but doesn’t tell the whole story.

    I started working in the Internet ‘industry’ back in 1997, selling firstly modems, then into large scale portals via, brochureware sites, intranets, a bit of ecommerce, database stuff and so on. So it makes me qualified from both a hands-on perspective as well as an interested observer into the trends and hooks onto which firstly ‘experts’ and then the masses are determined to hang their entire strategies from.

    The conversations I enjoy most are the wanky ones account directors, heads of digital and media agencies have with their clients which currently start something like:

    ‘It’s all about social. Without social, you are nothing.’

    Which is, of course true, BUT it is delivered with the portentous authority of an Internet oracle whose words are dismissed at one’s peril. Of course, they do a great sales job and after all, Mr. willing client is prepared to listen to the consultant or agency as they are the expert. However, how can anyone be an expert in the true sense of the word given the lack of historical evidence or a crystal ball?

    The point I’m struggling to make is that for at least the last decade and certainly since the post web 2.0 cliche, every start up and therefore ‘next-best-thing’ has become the be all and end all of online marketing. In the beginning you had cynics who felt the Internet itself was a fad and resisted it; some businesses still holding out until relatively recently, including large retail companies. Nowadays I think you’d be hard pushed to find many of those still in business and even if they still held those beliefs they’d likely be keeping them to themselves for fear of the ridicule and damage to their reputation if they soapboxed them.

    Recently I watched the Zuckerberg documentary where Martin Sorrell, a hugely successful man who started and runs WPP one of the most successful advertising companies in the world, appeared to dismiss the social channel almost out of hand and that it could never compete with his version of advertising.
    As it happens I don’t agree and whilst the beginning of this post may seem to contradict the last paragraph, the point is that neither he, nor Zuckerberg knows what will be what. Arguably Sorrell is an expert in the old world of marketing / advertising whereas Zuckerberg can arguably purport to be one of the new world given the billions his company is generating, but neither can accurately predict the future.

    And therein lies the rub. That no one has ever been 100% able to predict the future, there has always been and will always be conjecture and speculation about what will take off and flop and what will provide real traction and a place to spend precious budgets. Yet, throughout the rise of internet technologies, platforms and networks there has been a goldrush each and every time, clients willing to handover their cash to the (highly paid) saviours of their business.

    In the beginning, it was all about getting to the party, i.e. a website. Then when sales didn’t go through the roof as foretold (granted by people like me), those experts would tell them to slap their URL on anything which moved. So they reprinted stationery, sign wrote their vans, sent leaflets and so on. And things started to happen. Then they started collecting data, sending emails even. And that worked too. Then SEO came along and they optimised. And whaddya know, more people found them, bought stuff and subscribed for emails. All of sudden this was a serious channel and smart companies invested in CRM (sorry, eCRM) and many flourish today. However, you will have seen trends where companies firstly rebranded to be their web address (remember http://www.iceland.co.uk/?) and then ditched the www. part and just used the rest of the URL, without realising that lots of people were still playing catchup and many browsers wouldn’t show anything without the prefix. Then, so as to arrogantly suggest their SEO was better than anyone else’s, they would simply say ‘search Wendy’s’ without realising that Burger King were bidding of that search term and were duly sending traffic to a competitor.

    And now, such as almost the overwhelming trend among larger brands, the majority doesn’t bother with anything other than a facebook.com/ address. It’s like saying the Zuck, ‘here you go, here’s all my eggs, fill up your basket, while I spend millions driving data to your platform so you can better sell to my competitors.’.

    Clearly these brands hire much more intelligent people than me and their agencies are filled with bright young things, but to me this is doing two fairly major things. Firstly, it serves to negate much of the hard work which was done in the early days in terms of optimising their own site thus cannibalising their traffic and secondly, it screams to the world that Facebook in a way is the Internet. Which is bollocks. Facebook is incredible, a phenomenon, truly the most important development online since Google, but it is not the Internet. God forbid. However it is becoming an internet within the Internet.

    As a purist, I believe the Internet should be open; that’s the reason it achieved such profound penetration in a very short space of time. Links are everything and in the same way I hope the Times’ paywall fails and explodes spectacularly in Murdoch face, I hope that organisations can see that Facebook is just another channel of their overall strategy and not the entire strategy. Instead of weaving from new thing to new thing, these should be experimented with, optimised, tested and if successful, integrated. And I’m sure lots of this will have been done for many companies but not all.

    Take a look at this article on how US companies are rushing to shut their Facebook stores. I called this from the start. I said Facebook was not a shopping destination, more that users had flocked there and returned because it was a social experience, a place to hang out, to share stuff and so on. I think when folk share and recommend product that is an incredibly powerful driver for businesses and I do think FB ads are a valid acquisition tool but why is it better that we check-out there too? Surely you want some of your customer’s experience to be within your own environment. You wouldn’t have your flagship store interior designed and ‘retail-optimised’ only to sell everything from a warehouse just ‘cos that’s where happened to hip at the time. Anyway I’m glad this trend seems to happening as it shows how these enterprises acted first and thought second; of course they were held up as forward thinking and progressive and were showing first mover initiative, but those who’ve been casually observing will be enjoying this. Having kept their powder dry, they are able to see that perhaps Fcommerce (like every other next-best-thing) isn’t the best thing since, well, Facebook.

    So it seems for now that where Facebook is concerned, people like to hang out at the mall but prefer to shop on the high street.

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  4. Proverb

    February 16, 2012 by admin

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  5. Einstein

    February 16, 2012 by admin

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  6. BMW 320D M SPORT – £14,500

    February 13, 2012 by admin

    …please someone save me the hassle of auto trader and just call me on 07973 778 109 or email me at jamesfernie at gmail.com.

    Mint condish, 2008 registered, 59k miles, full, main dealer history, just serviced, MOT’d till next Jan, low, low tax (<£100 for a year), 48MPG...2 super careful owners, just been used for motorway commute.

    Full M Sport shizzle including bluetooth phone prep (with the cool sharkfin thing on the roof), mp3 connection, multifunction steering wheel, full leather, heated seats...nice and quick, lovely, lovely looking car. Can't afford it so please come and buy; priced sensibly so poke your offers!

    Cheers

    BMW 320D M SPORT

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  7. Productivity in the Internet age

    February 7, 2012 by admin

    Just putting this out there, but I wonder if all this technology will eventually start to make us all less productive. Back when I started flogging 28.8k modems for £150 a pop, I had to do a lot of justifying of the concepts of email and the Internet. Concepts! Crazy as it seems, but in 1997 there were still those, business owners no less, who felt it was all a bit faddy and would never catch on. A bit like the first guy to sell a fax machine, he had to sell the concept more than the kit. The doubters scoffing that he alone couldn’t generate the critical mass required for these things to become useful enough. I remember knocking on the door of an independent mobile phone retailer who couldn’t (let alone, wouldn’t) understand that the web was about to transform his business. He was probably doing nicely from his mobile network contract kickbacks but missed the bigger picture entirely. I could have stood there and explained Angry Birds and he’d have had me removed from the building.

    Selling new tech will always have that issue to a point, but I think Internet access has made us less naive as well as better informed; more of us now can see how a concept could take off and are far less cynical. That bedroom developers are spitting out code which gets funded, shows that at least the next generation are more willing to take risks because they understand how to leverage the world which is around them. I’m struggling to find a pre-nineties analogy to explain this better. I suppose if you’d been in the building industry your whole life, the process of building is altogether less remarkable than it would be layperson. The difference is that you’d need to be a builder first, you certainly wouldn’t have been surrounded by the subject from the moment you could put your sticky fingers over your dad’s iPhone. 5 year old kids in the school my friend teaches at are designing websites; three years ago, that may have surprised me; today no one would question it. My computer GCSE (I got a C) taught me about buffers, CPUs, disk drives an so on, which was all pretty useless when you consider what’s important now. Tech specs were all the rage five years ago when hard drive size mattered and RAM decided whether you could actually use you PC or not, but the iPad has shown us that processing power is not that important for the masses and the cloud is about to show us we don’t need anywhere of our own to store stuff.

    So here we are all grown up. The barrier to entry is so low all you need is a mobile and the youth of today will have never heard the high pitched squeal of analog web access, much less pay a penny a minute for it. So they, as we all are, are immersed in a digital world and it’s easy to get ever sucked further into it. My job is particularly digital focussed but still, everyone I know is on Facebook – and if they’re not, it’s deliberate – most have a LinkedIn, Twitter, Google+ account…a few are signed up to Klout, Quora, Delicious, foursquare and so on and even a lucky few have their Pinterest invite. The list goes on and I must be signed up to most of them and I could spend my whole day never doing any actual work.

    The Internet has made us undoubtedly more efficient, better informed, more inquisitive but I think that we’re in danger of becoming less productive. Posts are reposted, tweeted, pinned, located and shared, liked, commented on etc and most of it has zero value but each action takes time. As companies become less and less restrictive in terms of what staff can access (not wanting to stifle creativity), the more interactive time wasting opportunities present themselves. Not wanting to miss a single digital interaction, or an opportunity to add a witty comment or cynical observation (#justsayin) takes a lot of effort. None of which is bad, I’m a supporter of all this and I’m allowed (to an extent) to play with it all day, but having just spent an hour on Pinterest, which was fun but added nothing to my employer, I thought I’d write this! A lot of the content out there is just cycled between 5 or 6 content networks driven in part by our desire to be a sharer of interesting stuff; if we get props for posting something funny or insightful before anyone else then we’re more followable and interesting and our clout (sorry Klout) improves. But a lot of it is just a massive waste of time and you could suffocate amongst it all.

    Life was much simpler with a 480×640 resolution.
    (feel free to share this on all the networks below)

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  8. Facebook & Twitter viral promotion

    November 16, 2011 by admin

    Afternoon. Just thought I’d ‘share’ a little story. I run the digital department at a small, pure play, gift website. We have lots of wealthy customers and part of my role was to attract a younger, more web savvy audience. Social seems the way to go. We’re still tiny and don’t have much money to spend on advertising, so the stats aren’t huge but they’re significant in our world. As our social following has grown, social and in particular Facebook and Twitter (never Twitter and Facebook is it?!) send us directly attributable sales each week…and for every sale you can definitely attribute to those sources, there will be other sales generated by them, but not directly attributed to them. So, user checks FB at work, sees your offer, goes home, turns on iPad, searches Google for you, clicks and buys – your metrics show a direct or organic sale, but it was your social activity which actually generated the sale. Anyhoo. So when I joined we had a Twitter feed in our CEO’s name which isn’t great for any exit strategy she may have in the future so we created a new one from scratch. And we had a couple hundred FB fans.

    We now have just shy of 800 Twitter fans and 1,500 Facebook ‘likes’. As I said, tiny numbers, but they deliver more and more sales each week, so every fan does have a monetary value.

    The cost beyond my time and some design was around £1,200 and that’s been paid back time and again. The cost was based on the cost price to us of items we used for a competition. We delivered the majority of those followers via three promotions seeded by email and then the social platforms themselves.

    The first was an email to our ‘active’ email database of around 5,000 subscribers. It was simply;

    ‘like us on Facebook to win £1,000 to spend at Gift Library’

    We had a 30% open rate (versus 24% averagely), a 10% click rate, meaning a click-to-open rate (my favourite metric) of 33% ish. And crucially, we had a click to engagement rate in the high 90%. O.K, it’s easy to ‘like’ something but we still had to get people over the line. The £1,000 is pretty strong but we’re having to cut through inbox clutter so time of send, richness of offer, ease of mechanic etc was all important to get right. Plus we had no idea how it would go. What was interesting was how quickly people acted and how obvious it was that companies don’t seem to be blocking Facebook use as much as I thought they might be. Most of the likes happened during work hours, whereas I thought we’d get a decent click through rate followed by a staggered action rate as people went home, remembered the email and then acted on it. Anyway, that delivered us nearly 800 likes in a couple of days. Creative is below.

    Like us on facebook -an example email promotion

    Like us on facebook email creative - sent July 2011

    O.K, so it worked nicely and we were starting to join our email and social channels and we’d established a new, albeit fledgling sales channel. We made sure we welcomed our new fans and gave them all a nice little discount code to say ‘thanks’ and summarily converted a few prospects into actual customers.

    Then we interviewed the winner and talked about what she’d spend the voucher on and blogged about it and then linked to that in the next email. And finally we got a photo of her in the necklace she chose and posted that on FB and Twitter, a site banner and linked to it from another email. The goodwill from the audience which didn’t win the competition towards the winner was really nice and things like that help break down any ‘them and us’ people may feel exists.

    From then until now, everything we do across the site, email, youtube, whatever is echoed on FB to ensure the message is consistent and so we’re talking to customers and prospect wherever they happen to be.

    Next up, Twitter. Ours is a very a visual product range. Selling in 140 characters is a challenge and a chore. We decided that although we’d use Twitter to push products, we’re better off using it as a customer service and an added value channel. So we ask our followers questions or for product suggestions or we get them to ask our CEO style questions and so on. But we do get sales from it so we wanted more followers. Although the people who get Twitter are an engaged bunch, it’s a tougher gig getting a retweet than a getting a like. The mechanic is more complex and lots of people won’t read what you write or follow instructions! However after as much simplification as possible we came up with a fairly straight forward promo which went;

    1. follow us on Twitter
    2. Retweet the following -’I've just entered the @giftlibrary competition to win this fabulous bag #giftlibrary’
    3. That’s it

    And we got a big jump in followers and more importantly, retweets. Over the period of the promo we went from 200 to 600 followers and we got around 250 retweets. Not bad for a bag which cost us £190 and retails for £500.

    An excerpt from the email is below

    Example Twitter promotion creative

    Example Twitter promotion creative

    And again we welcomed our new Tweeps with a discount code and told them how ready we were to listen to them and their problems, compliments, suggestions and so on. We asked the winner, who seemed ecstatic at the time, for a photo and although she promised to send one, never did. Boo to her!

    And the final promo which launched today is designed to go one step further than ‘liking us’ which can almost be a throw away action in some ways. A ‘share’ is a big commitment from a user. It’s a public display of affection for a brand. Our range isn’t that sensitive, but by sharing, you’re endorsing and depending on what the share is, it could say something about you. For instance, the social marketing dude at BMW probably has a much easier task than his or her counterpart at Anusol. Anyway, this one was again seeded by email after a soft launch on Facebook. Sent to both active and inactive email subscribers as well as promoted on Twitter and site banners, we produced some really nice creative promoting ‘luxury his and hers stockings worth £1,200+ delivered in time for Christmas’. The creative itself, as you’ll see, incorporates the mechanic as well as the prize; the idea being that once one of our fans (who know and trust us to an extent) has shared, the creative needed to be explicit enough to stand on its own two feet in order to go viral.

    Share on facebook example creative

    Share on facebook example creative

    It’s difficult to know how it’ll pan out but after the first couple of hours, we’d generated 270+ shares and 220 new likes. The real shares figure will be much much higher as the only shares you able to view are those where the user has his or her share settings set to ‘public’. It’s shame as I believe FB are missing a trick. We, and presumably many other companies, would be happy to pay a monthly fee to know the depth their posts were shared to. What a powerful metric it would be to know the amplification and reach of a piece of content. Knowing that one offer got from fan to friend of fan to friend of friend of friend of fan and so on versus which which went no further would be key to optimising. Anyway, I’m sure there’s a few bright sparks at FBHQ and they’ll get it sooner rather than later!

    And of course, we’ll follow up the winner with interview, photo and soundbite and flog it to death via as many channels as possible!

    Anyway, we’ll see where it goes from here.

    UPDATE: After 22 hours, we’ve reached 1,000 shares on the main picture, 160 on the album and 750 new ‘likes of our page. The discrepancy between number of shares and new likes proves not everyone reads instructions but more, that you don’t need to offer a huge incentive to get some serious traction. I think the fact the picture was very nicely designed and included both the prize AND the campaign mechanic has helped this have a somewhat viral effect. In the great scheme of things, these numbers are tiny but they will make a difference our little world. Consider that the Cool Hunter on Facebook gets an average of 1,000 odd shares per post via 500,000 fans, we did that with 1350 fans. Yesterday was a good day!

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  9. Committing to the click

    October 27, 2011 by admin

    To click or not to click

    I work in online marketing so I’m guilty of over scrutinising every email which comes to my inbox. But analyse them I do, whether it’s Betfair trying to win me back or a mate sending a you tube link, I always think ‘can I be arsed to click the link’. Whilst an email from a mate will have a higher open rate than the one from Betfair, actually Betfair’s email is more likely to get a click.

    The reason is the laziness familiarly affords. For a time, I used to work at Betfair as a consultant and I can tell you their CRM department was packed with bright young marketing grads continually optimising creative, A-B testing, automating and dynamically populating offers based on recency, frequency, monetary value etc, etc. All that equals a lot of effort and the results, whilst they would vary from campaign to campaign, were impressive.

    ‘Amazing, check this out!’ accompanied by a you tube link equals nearly zero effort from a pal. And because of that I almost always don’t bother clicking until others on the initial email list start commenting and the thread builds intrigue. And still, there’s a likelihood I’ll not participate. There are a number of factors, not least that my IE is very slow and that’s the browser my gmail comes to (my work stuff is all done in Chrome)…but it shows that no longer is only relevance key to generating the click(the metric all marketers used to evangelise about), but that buzz is becoming more and more important. We know how important peer group recommendation is for online conversion but in general banter, we want to be involved more when others are talking about it. And that’s why I’ll click a trending topic quicker than a link in an email from a mate. Ridiculous when you think about it – to click on something total strangers are harping on about than a hyper personal recommendation from a trusted friend.

    I heard a quote somewhere which said ‘Facebook is where you share less and less honestly with your friends, whereas Twitter is where you’ll bear your soul to complete strangers’. I like that, it shows that something which ‘trends’ is doing so genuinely, or nearly so, and because of that it’s more likely to be trusted.

    And it goes deeper. Jeremy Clarkson was trending this morning and, although I saw it at number 10, I didn’t click until he was at number five, which is the equivalent of the example above. And only then because I thought, perhaps he died. I didn’t click until the discussion got deeper and more widespread. It just proves cutting through will get more and more difficult, with testing more and more important. A strong offer won’t cut it anymore, to get clicks you’ll need a combination of personalisation, recommendation, buzz and some luck but there’s still no guarantees.

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  10. Boy meets Girl

    July 25, 2011 by admin

    It used to be that ‘distance dating’, at least in the 80′s, was the preserve of the psycho, the weirdo or the downright desperate. People were roundly mocked for joining video dating services, sitting nervously in front of a massive video camera and posting off their profiles via a dating agency in the hope of finding true love. It seems unfair but a few high profile cases involving murder didn’t help change people’s perception that looking for love this way was a bit odd.

    And then came the internet and internet dating. Initially the same reservations were muted but kind of in the same way that people thought it was absurd to buy flights online or look for long lost friends. And now it is just the done thing. No stigma, no sniggers, it’s just acceptable and the thriving online dating market is testament that, actually using technology to solve the problem makes a lot of sense. For ages lots of my single friends told me that the dilema was that whenever they went out, it was with the same people and meeting new people was not as easy it might seem. So having them find you and break the ice virtually, allowed you to maintain the regular social life and pick and choose before maybe embarking on the love life.

    So up sprung loads of ‘me too’ dating sites and amazingly new ones seem to be getting funding even now – see zoosk.com – but My Single Friend put a great twist on things and solved the classic problem of false advertising. Lots of these sites suffered from over hyped profiles only for users to feel somewhat mis-sold to when it came to the actual date. Promises of Brad Pitt online turned out more like Dean Gaffney in the flesh and many awkward 90 minute dates had to be endured thereafter before agreeing ‘we must do this again’ and subsequently running to the nearest internet connection to delete the account. My Single Friend requires a friend to endorse the dater – sure, your best mate is hardly going to paint you as pox-ridden, miserly woman-hater, but it does at least mean you need at least one friend – something not all lonely hearts can boast.

    Anyway, my mate Simon asked me to write his endorsement (he has more than one friend). Here’s what I wrote:

    “Simon’s the life and soul of the party, he’s first to put his hand up to organise it all, then make sure everyone’s having a good time plus he’s got a few cool party tricks as well. Always having a laugh and looking out for people, that’s Simon. A true, loyal friend and he thinks about himself last. He always books the holidays, buys the tickets and keeps us all in check, but does it without having to seem to be in charge. Simon’s just as happy belting out ‘Mustang Sally’ to a wedding crowd as he is giving advice and listening to other people’s problems. My female friends all say he just keeps getting better looking, but I can’t see it myself! A great bloke.”

    All true. He met the lovely Gemma through the site a couple of years ago and the wedding is in Cape Town on the 4th November this year. I’m taking all the credit.

    Can’t wait!

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