Archives for December 2011

A very Merry Christmas to you all

I’d just like to wish all of my clients, friends, followers, likers, suppliers and everyone who has supported NikkiPilkington.com, a very Merry Christmas from me and my team.

Without you guys we wouldn’t have had such a phenomenal 2011 and be looking forward to an even better 2012.

Thank you so much, and I hope you have a lovely day!

How our children will think the Christmas story was played out through social media

Having a not quite yet 2 year old, who will never have to rewind a video tape, keep a Bic biro handy for the cassette in the boombox, has never seen a  telephone without buttons and won’t have to worry about leaving her records in the back of the car and warping them, this video made me smile.

Telling the story of the Nativity through Social Media, and incorporating Facebook, Twitter, Foursquare, Amazon, Gmail and Wikipedia, it’s pretty clever stuff.

I hope it makes you smile – thanks to all those who shared it on YouTube this year and last and made me giggle.

Happy Christmas everyone!

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Twitter – A Bigger Search Engine Than Google?

English: a chart to describe the search engine...

Image via Wikipedia

It’s come to just about everyone’s attention that Twitter is HUGE. Twitter is used by almost every company, every celebrity, every wannabe celebrity, and every band to update clients on their goings-on, as well as inform future clients of their services. Most people,even those who aren’t on Twitter yet, also know that Twitter has it’s own search function that allows you to find accounts of people and companies that you would want to follow.

The Twitter search engine allows you to find users by post, by name, trends, and even tone. Trends often show what is popular on Twitter, from funny users that have quick quips to news reels from bigger celebrities and companies. Basically, it’s a 100% organic search engine that allows people to decide what shows first.

There are some good sides to this that can’t be achieved with a regular search engine. Spam sites and malware aren’t going to be in Twitter search results, unless you click outside links. It encourages conversation, followers, and also wit. The question remains – is it a bigger search engine than Google?

Well, yes and no.

It’s bigger in the sense that a lot of users can generate a lot of results in the Twitter feed, a lot more tweets probably are online than websites. There’s a much lower chance of viruses, and there’s a lot of companies that are using Twitter to advertise their services. There is a lot that Twitter offers as far as a community goes. And, the user base is massive. One of the most beneficial things about Twitter is that the tweets that are displayed in the search engines are always the newest that they have. Google and the others can’t say the same thing.

But, like with any search engine, Twitter has its own problems. You can’t separate business from personal accounts on Twitter. The results that you get from most searches aren’t as in-depth, nor are they even spelled correctly. If you are looking for grammatically correct musings from followers, searches, or otherwise, Twitter might not be the best choice.

Another issue a lot of people mention is that though Twitter’s user base is very large, it isn’t universal. There are a decent amount of people who aren’t plugged into Twitter, and therefore would not be likely to receive any message that you have there. The thought of nonusers using the search engine doesn’t make much sense, either. Would people choose a certain business because of their Twitter account?

Twitter has a very active community, but search engines like Google and Yahoo will always have the advantage when it comes to attracting a wider audience. Before you give up your SEO marketing campaign for Google, Yahoo, and other search engines, remember that the user base is much larger on these internet juggernauts. Instead, opt to blend both your Twitter and your website into one optimisation strategy that will keep you in the spotlight for all to see.

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Is Franchising one of the greatest business models ever invented?

Question mark

Image via Wikipedia

I’ve been speaking to a few people recently about possibly franchising my business in the next few years. I’ll be honest, I’m not sure it’s the right way forward for me, but I like to keep an open mind.

With this in mind, I asked one of my recent new clients, Lawnscience Lawncare Franchise Systems (who provide, funnily enough, a lawncare franchise) to tell me a little more.

Here’s what Director Terence Nicholson had to say:

The Lawnscience franchise ModelFranchising has been called one of the greatest business models ever created.

Franchising is a amazing business model, it can help people who want to create their own business to reach their goals with guidance and support.But there are two very important things to understand

  •  The franchise model must be used correctly.
  •  Only people who are fully committed and truly want to be their own  bosses should use it.
Franchise business systems tend to be rigid and that’s exactly what they need to be. The success of the business model is based on those who follow it to actually follow it.
Wikipedia states, “Franchising offers franchisees the advantage of starting up quickly based on a proven trademark, and the tooling and infrastructure as opposed to developing them.”
Franchising is about uniformity. A franchised business in Southampton,  should look the same, and operate in the same way selling the same services  as a franchised business of the same name in Leeds.
The customer, you shouldn’t be able to experience a difference. This a  a huge advantage for customers of franchised businesses. The customer gets a real sense of confidence in the offer, and because of this they’ll be willing to spend their money a lot easier as their experience is consistent no matter where the franchise is located.
A Franchise should be uniform because there’s a system to follow, a proven system that can be easily duplicated over and over again.
By the people that buy into it; the franchisees.Franchising really does have a lot to offer. But like all things of value, it’s not free to use. In a franchise the franchisees make a up front payment, plus monthly royalties that are usually based on percentage of sales. In exchange, the franchisees receive proper training, have the right to use the name, and get a few more important services. Like marketing.

But in order to be successful the model must be used correctly. This means that the systems and procedures must be followed. Otherwise, why would anyone want to invest money in a franchise-type of business?

Real drive and a desire to be the boss is crucial to the success of a new franchise business owner. A franchise  is not for you if you’re not committed to being the decision maker. Being the owner of your franchise business requires a “can do” attitude.

You will also need a commitment to follow the system as it’s laid out. So, not only should you committed to be the boss, you’ll need to be committed to follow someone else’s system.
Because it’s that system that’s allowing you to be your own boss.If you would like to learn about the Lawnscience Lawn Care franchise system you can learn more at the Lawnscience franchising website,www.lawnsciencefranchise.co.uk

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Is your website breaking the law on cookies?

English: Peanut butter cookie with a chocolate...

Someone want a cookie?

Alas no, I’m not talking about the chocolate-chip variety, but instead the little bytes of memory that are stored on your computer by websites. Like how your computer remembers login details, or how adverts for ‘black shoes’ appear in a web page side- bar after you’ve just been doing a spot of retail therapy in the Kurt Geiger e-store.

But earlier this year in May, a new EU legislation came in to prevent these cookies from being stored without the consent of the user. As a measure to protect the privacy of the web-user, it is now down to the website provider to ensure that their visitors ‘opt in’ to receiving cookies, and that they are not forced on them.

If you have a self hosted WordPress blog, then you’re using cookies – lots of your plugins will be using them and your readers need to opt in.

So, if you don’t fancy breaking the law, then install the new EU Cookie Law WP plugin for just a tenner (for a single use site; £25 for multi-use). It only takes a minute, and basically just installs a lightbox pop-up that asks whether or not the user is happy for the website to install the website’s usual cookies. As well stopping website owners from breaking the law and receiving a hefty fine, it also shows the user that you abide by the law and appreciate their right to online privacy.

It’s a pretty cool plugin, and you can change the wording on it and the way it looks (I’m playing with mine right now!)

Although we don’t know the future of the United Kingdom’s position within the EU, and therefore how long this consent will be enforced, but for now, that’s the way the cookie crumbles…

Get your cookie plugin and find out more about this law now.

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Social Media Marketing: How Much Is Too Much?

 – A guest post by Henry Fitzgerald

From the consumer side, you know when enough is enough.

Maybe you reach that point after reading 26 consecutive tweets from Café Le Nom about lunch and dinner specials. Perhaps you draw the line at 50 Facebook notifications from one vendor. Or maybe you call it quits when your Gmail finally figures out how to re-route all messages from Café Le Nom as spam.

Either way, consumers know when they’re fed up. But, how do businesses and service providers know when to draw the line? How do they know when they’ve gone too far? What are the steps to recover from overdone social media marketing and get on the path to recovery?

Whether you suspect you’ve gone too far with your company’s social media use or had no idea that people can become fed up, check out these tips to help gauge your marketing.

What to Do:

When it comes to marketing via social media, there are definite do’s and don’ts. If you haven’t considered this concept before, you may have already gone too far. But don’t worry, you can always improve!

1) DO: Use Email Marketing

Businesses can be pretty quick to discard email as an effective marketing tool. However, with the smartphone revival sweeping the nation, people are showing a renewed interest in email. Eighty-five percent of people surveyed said that their mobile email is becoming increasingly relevant for daily life while one in three consumers said they use mobile email now more than ever. These numbers all add up to a solid case for email marketing. With people using email on the go, sending out deals, offers and coupons directly to consumer’s inboxes means they can access information on the go, from just about anywhere.

The key to being successful with an email marketing campaign is the frequency of delivery and the wording. Do not, for any reason, use spammy subject lines like, “OPEN NOW!!! UP TO 95% OFF SPECIALLY MARKED ITEMS FOR THE NEXT THIRTY SECONDS!!” Your messages will be flagged as spam and redirected accordingly. Make your subject lines honest and appealing and keep your messages between the 2-5 times a week mark. Send them during the day when people are likely to be out shopping and keep the message short but informative.

2) DO: Blog!

Blogs are an underutilized resource for many larger businesses. People like to be updated with your business, but might not necessarily want to read about it on Facebook or Twitter. Linking to your company blog gives people the option to check it out, without being too overwhelming. Keep the blog updated with fresh, interesting content and be creative to make sure that your readers keep coming back.

3) DO: Use Social Media Wisely

All in all, just be wise with your social media use. Follow the golden rule. If you don’t want your social media bombarded with company links, coupons and gimmicky posts, then don’t do it to others. Post a few times a week to keep customers interested and avoid posting more than a handful of times each day.

What Not To Do:

1) DON’T: Fill Up News Feeds

This is fairly self-explanatory. If you notice that you’ve posted a lot at one time, you can bet that you’re probably filling up news feeds. This act will put you on the fast track to be un-friended or un-followed. Over-sharing is the number one reason people will cut you from their social media radar. Keep your updates limited to avoid being axed.

2) DON’T: Bombard Inboxes or Sent Out Spam

If you decide to use email marketing, do not take it too far. Don’t send more than one email a day and avoid spammy subjects like the one listed above. If you send out messages too frequently and if they contain the spam phrases, Gmail will call you out before consumers can even find the unsubscribe button.

3) DON’T: Ignore Feedback

Customers are the most vital aspect of your success or failure. If you receive feedback, either positive or negative, don’t ignore it. If they’re trying to tell you something, listen. You’ll be glad you did.

Henry Fitzgerald is a technology consultant based in Seattle. When not geeking out over the latest tech gadgets, he spends his time cooking, playing soccer, and sailing. Check out his tech blog here or follow him on twitter: @hfitzy34

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