OxonDigital goes Social

24 11 2011

Last night I attended the latest Oxon Digital event. As usual, it was a great event, with interesting speakers and great networking. Some of the main highlights of what I came away with are below, and the slides can be found on the Oxon Digital website

Blogging for Business

Ali Luke from Ali Ventures (@aliventures) spoke about using blogging as a business first. I found this really useful, as I’m hoping to have a company blog on our website – and the tips she gave will actually make a real difference to what I’m trying to do. The points she made were:

  • ‘Blog’ can confuse people – try ‘articles’ or something like that instead. Dependent on your audience and what impression you want to give of it
  • Use familiar technologies – RSS by email, as most people aren’t aware what RSS is. Use feedburner to utilise the technology whilst not scaring people away if they don’t understand. Also, use Facebook to attract comments by posting a link there – people are comfortable with it and use it as a medium already, so use it!
  • What’s in it for them – make it useful so they’ll keep coming back, will link to it etc. Make it informative, so they want to read it. I would also say that if possible an action at the end would be hugely beneficial – but not always possible/feasible/worthwhile any further than making a comment
  • Quality not quantity – don’t blog once a day because you’ve decided you should. Just do it when you have something interesting/useful/beneficial to say. It’s better to leave them wanting more. People are likely to unsubscribe if they get a load of uninteresting material, which defeats the purpose!
  • Avoid advertising – it looks unprofessional
  • Write for other blogs – you’ll get traffic and links by doing this

I love the point about quality not quantity – it’s exactly what I think about social media. Say something because it’s interesting, not because of a timetable.

Five ways to drive business using social media (instantly)

Marcus Taylor of SEOptimise (@MarcusATaylor) spoke about driving business using social media. He first explained that that’s not the point, and not how you should do it, but that there are a few simple ways to boost traffic (and hopefully sales) to your website. The ROI is not as obvious as with traditional marketing, as it’s all about building conversations and engagements. His five top tips (based on having 1 month to improve the bottom line) were:

  • Use Twitter search to listen and act on opportunities. There are some advanced search tips on how to do things like preventing links in your results, so you don’t get other people’s advertising etc. There used to be an advanced Twitter search, for those who don’t know the protocols for advanced searching (or are too lazy to remember them!), but that seems to have vanished recently.
  • Social event networks (e.g. MeetUp) – you can sponsor meetings and offer perks, which will get you traffic if you target it at the right groups.
  • Video marketing around keywords – creating a video on key terms means you’ll rank in Google and in YouTube. You can use a service like Tube Mogul to distribute to the main video channels, so you get even better coverage
  • Facebook landing pages to drive leads – give them a way of getting money off if they like you on Facebook. You can track these so you know where the sales are coming from
  • Reach out to bloggers in your niche and involve them – ask them a question they can answer for you and build on those. You both get exposure to each others’ contacts, so it’s win-win.

I’d never heard of Tube Mogul before, so I’ll definitely be exploring that option – an easy way to get videos put up in different locations suits me!

Q&As – the answers

It’s more important to monitor trends than to monitor ROI – then you can learn what is and isn’t working and develop your strategy based on that. But don’t be too prescriptive because of it – you don’t want to miss out on something in one place because you’re putting all your effort somewhere else

Blogging is best somewhere between planned and not: you want to make sure you don’t slip and not do it enough, but you don’t want to be over-prescriptive and stifle your creative juices and end up posting boring posts for the sake of posting. If you’re stuck for inspiration try doing ‘this week’s Q&A’ or ‘link day Friday’ to show you have your finger on the pulse without having to think as hard about what to say

WordPress is the recommended tool for blogging (made me feel good that it’s the one I chose!). You can have it hosted on WordPress or on your own site, and it’s easier than most to change it at a later date. Blogger is very user-friendly, but less flexible and less powerful.

Articles seems to be the most popular alternative to Blog – but use the language of your customers. Try looking at what they refer to it as and use that.

If you’re stuck for ideas for blogs, try visiting larger blogs – even if they’re not relevant to your blog. You might get some ideas of the sort of headlines that prove interesting to readers, that sort of thing. Change the name from ‘Top 10 gardening tips’ to ‘Top 10 x tips’ and all you have ot do is write the text (easier than having to think up the subject too).

Summary

As usual, this was a great event. I talked to a few different people who were all there for different reasons, but the main one was the lack of anything else like it in the area. People are willing to travel a distance to get to these events, which proves the need for something like that.

There are plans afoot for a conference some time next year, so it will be interesting to see how that pans out. I’m already looking forward to that and the next meeting!

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One response

24 11 2011
Daniel Bianchini

Thanks for the write up Megan, I think that this event has a place in Oxford, and within the digital industry. We are always looking to improve and get better and the prospect of a conference is really exciting. Look forward to seeing you at the next event.

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