Thursday, 29 April 2010

Trust and Twitter - Thoughts from SAScon

SEO and social media bods flocked to the Bridgewater Hall on Wednesday for the very first SAScon event. The conference, set up by a number of companies, including Manchester SEO agency Push On and PR gurus Brazen, was an intellectual affair which saw a host of household names talk social marketing and search engine optimisation. And very good it was too.

One of the main themes flowing through the conference, particularly from the social media workshops, was the need for engagement; the importance of understanding and forming a relationship with an audience. It was a topic brought up in each of the three SM panels throughout the course of the day.

The point was repeatedly raised in one of the last sessions. During one of the most engaging panels, a number of business leaders, including Phil Jones, director of Brother UK, spoke about the various techniques employed by big brands in the social medium.

“Our mantra is 'time, attention and trust,” Jones commented.


Trust is the ultimate goal for anyone in social media. A single person wants their opinion to be trusted, while a company wants someone to trust in their products and brand.

But it isn't an easy emotion for brands to earn. It's a fickle concept and to gain the trust of an individual doesn't necessarily mean that you obtain the goodwill of the collective.

Trust has a face

Trust, according to a number of the panellists during the day, is a product which results from the authenticity of an account; consumers desire transparency.

Several speakers commented that users want to know the person behind the keyboard of an account, regardless of whether the author is an M.D or a customer service assistant. This tactic quickly establishes a human connection with the customer, theoretically making it somewhat easier to gain the trust of the user.

I'd argue that this is one of the most important factors when it comes to establishing a trusting relationship between brand and consumer.

Indeed, a number of social campaigns, particularly on Twitter, immediately make it clear who is operating the account – Kellogg's and Vodafone (both pictured below) immediately spring to mind. These profiles immediately establish a human connection.

Of course, trust cannot only be influenced by a picture of someone in a snorkel. It has to be earned through engagement, transparency and openness. Still, I'd say that a 'personalised company account' is far better at establishing a rapport with a consumer than an avatar of a corporate logo. A person has dreams, fears and bills to pay. You can relate to that.

Comparatively, a logo has sales projections and efficiency drives.

Which one would you rather trust with your money?

Tuesday, 13 April 2010

Digital Events In Manchester - SEO and Social Media Edition

Manchester has a thriving digital community and every month, regular events take place for those interested in meeting their peers, having a beer and maybe learning something new. Here's a rundown of the most popular social media, blogging and SEO Manchester meetups on offer.

Social Media Cafe

What is it: A monthly meetup, usually hosted at the BBC on Oxford Road, for those interested in social media. The regular format features two or three talks/discussions with a half-hour networking break between sessions.

The topics of these talks can vary – previous sessions have looked at the rise of hyperlocal news, an introduction to Google Wave and measuring ROI from social media campaigns. To see the upcoming panels, or to express your interest to host one, visit the site.

When: First week of the month
Twitter hashtag: #smc_mcr
AOB: The BBC like to know who's coming in and out of their doors and attendees have to register their interest on the Social Media Cafe Ning in order to get through the reception checkpoint.

Manchester SEO

What is it: An informal gathering of Manchester SEO types. The event, which is attended by employees from a variety of SEO Manchester agencies, is a laid-back affair which usually involves a fair bit of tech-talk (and drinking).

Still, it's a great opportunity to meet other people in the industry and the attendees range from SEO copywriters to agency bigwigs; you'll get the chance to mingle with a bunch of friendly folk who really know their stuff.

When: Last week of the month
Twitter hashtag: #mancseo
AOB: These events are normally held in public venues. If you don't know anyone attending, send out a flare on Twitter and someone will point you towards the Manchester SEO corner of the bar.

Manchester Blogmeet

What is it: Hosted by the charming Kate Feld of Manchizzle, the Manchester Blogmeet does exactly what it says on the tin. The event is open to anyone with a penchant for blogging, allowing the local online community to get together over a couple of beers. If you've ever want to pick the brains of the local bloggerati (wince), then this is your opportunity.

When: As and when
Twitter hashtag: N/A – Follow @katefeld for the latest news
AOB: The previous two blogmeets have been sponsored affairs with a free bar tab. Just putting that out there.

Northern Digital

What is it: Popular gathering for anyone working in the digital sector around Manchester and the North West. Usually hosted in the Northern Quarter (The Northern seems to have been the venue of choice for a while now), Northern Digital offers an evening of mingling for those working for design, development and SEO Manchester companies. It's a great networking event, purely based on the sheer variety of professionals and businesses in attendance.

When: First Thursday of the month
Twitter hashtag: #northerndigital
AOB: The May event has moved to the second week of the month to cater for the General Election.

Social Media Surgery

What is it: Organised by Chi-chi Ekweozor from Real Fresh, social media surgery is a free event which sees local businesses pose their SM woes to a group of the leading marketing and SEO minds in Manchester.

Hosted at Manchester Metropolitan University, the evening offers free advice for those struggling to get to grips with social media. Those wanting an answer to a specific question can post their queries online before the evening.

When: Second week in the month
Twitter hashtag: #mansms
AOB: The event normally runs from around 5pm-7pm.

There Will Be Blood

What is it: Despite its ominous title, There Will Be Blood is for those working in the digital content arena. The event, which held its inaugural evening yesterday, sees online writers from Manchester gather to discuss all content-related matters.

Haven't had the chance to visit this particular evening, but judging by the feedback on Twitter, it's set to be one of the more popular events in Manchester. If you attended last night, drop a comment below!

When: T.B.A
Website: N/A
Twitter hashtag: #twbb1
AOB: The free tickets for the previous event went like fresh muffins. Book quickly if you want to go.


What is it: A social event which encourages Manchester's Twitter community to put names to avatars in a relaxed and informal setting. Now in its second month at Madlab, it offers guests cake, coffee and conversation. What more could you want?

When: As and when
Twitter hashtag: #teawitter
AOB: A £3 donation is suggested for attendees.

If I've missed out any events or gatherings, drop me an email and I'll edit accordingly.

Tuesday, 6 April 2010

SEO and online marketing in an election - Canvassing for votes on Google

It's election season; a time for political leaders of all parties to venture from their Westminster caves and stump for votes across the country. Still, this isn't a battle that will be waged on the streets and pavements. This is an internet election. Apparently.

Today, Gordon Brown announced that May 6th would be the big day. No sooner had the PM revealed the worst-kept secret in modern politics than the SEO and online marketing teams of each camp jumped into action.

Here's just some of the PPC campaigns the parties reeled out this afternoon.

Search: UK election

Good spread here. Labour and The Conservatives both make an appearance. Labour take a wishy-washy approach to their online marketing, while the Tories go for the throat.

Search: General election UK

Kudos to Marmite here. The love-it-or-hate-it spread have done an Ann Summers and nicely hijacked the election trend. I'd vote for them.

Search: UK election 2010

More throat grabbing stuff from the Tories. If you're interested, the link, rather than whisking you to a blue sea of policy, goes to a YouTube video of David Cameron giving a St. Crispin's Day speech. If you were worried that this election would be about policy, you'd needn't have panicked.

Search: Gordon Brown

The Scot takes a similar whacking on his own front porch. Considering the massive search volume for the PM (below), it would probably be worth running a counter advert.

Search: David Cameron

No surprises here either. Still, it's all very negative. Where's the hope? Where's the movement for change? It seems strange the advert would continue to hammer the PM, especially on Cameron's home turf.

The Lib Dems have been quite quiet so far. Let's see what they have in the PPC armoury.

Search: Liberal Democrats

No presence here. Damning stuff.

Search: Nick Clegg

Either the Lib Dem leader has a very eclectic music taste or there's another Nick Clegg roaming the planet. The Liberal Democrats aren't really au fait with this PPC and SEO malarkey are they? Note that The Tories are still running the same advert.

Polling day

As grabbing as it may be, the entire Tory PPC campaign smacks of unoriginality. Still, they're more on the ball than the other pair and both Labour and the Lib Dems need to step up their game if they want to win over the sponsored search constituency.

Monday, 5 April 2010

Manchester in 3D - Google Maps takes us to the IMAX

Quick blog post:

It appears that Google Maps is now offering 3D vision. Here's a picture of Manchester's Oxford Road with the new feature (as marked by the cheery icon on the left-hand side). It would seem that this was rolled out on the 1st April, although I can't seem to find much in the way of coverage online.

My IMAX glasses don't really seem to make much of a difference, so I'm presuming you need one of the traditional green-red goggles to really feel the benefit.