Tuesday, 27 April 2010

Facebook Success Story - The Halfmoon in Putney

By Jon Paget

I love small business success stories, particularly when there’s a social or community element that’s driven the success.

Despite what has been said about our changing society, I don’t believe people have ever lost the desire to belong to a community; only that technology has taken a while to catch up with the way that people now lead their lives.

This is best demonstrated by the fact that very few people now know who their neighbours are, fewer still know those that live half way down their own street.

What we’ve seen since the introduction of social platforms such as facebook and twitter are places where people can establish (and join/interact with) communities with those who share common interests – and not a geographical location, something that all but the most hardened of rural inhabitants would realise, is the basis for stronger personal relationships.

And so we reach the story of The Halfmoon Pub in Putney which has, since 1963, been one of the best live music venues in London and has played host to bands such as The Rolling Stones, U2 and Kasabian to name but a few.

However, the recession took its toll and in November 2009 the Brewery owner contacted the Halfmoon’s management stating the Halfmoon was to close as a live music venue and re-open as a Gastro Pub.

Cue the response…

Thousands of people including musicians and bands (both famous and unsigned), local residents and politicians, the local press and music fans from all over the country came together to run a campaign to stop the Halfmoon’s closure. The campaign was brought together via a facebook group which ended with more than 6,500 members.

And, at the turn of the year the Brewery reversed their decision to close the Halfmoon meaning that live music was set to continue and the community, which continues to exist on the Halfmoon’s facebook page, got to keep their much loved live music venue – the single common factor that unified the entire community.

This proves that the community is alive and well (and arguably stronger than before) but the basis on which they’re built has changed for good.

Want to read more? Read The Halfmoon’s full survival story.

Monday, 19 April 2010

Improve your website – Use forms and not email addresses

By Jon Paget


I’ve spoken to a variety of people recently about their website’s contact page. No surprise there then seeing as we’re a web design agency.

However, what was surprising was the number of times people seemed happy to gloss over the contact us details.

There’s always plenty of discussion about the home page, the products and services pages, even the about us page! Then, almost as an afterthought, ‘we better throw a telephone number on there’ is often mentioned.

Now, some websites, indeed those selling online, may need less focus on contact details. But, many SMEs delivering a service want to engage with their prospects – and this usually means a phone call or a face-to-face meeting (usually arranged over the phone too).

So why is it that if this is one of the end goals of the website – to receive a phone call – that the how and whys of how to achieve this are given so little attention?

At this point, I'm at risk of getting carried away so I’ll focus on one specific issue facing businesses on the contact page: that of the form vs. email address.

Why?

Well lots of websites have an info@... email address on their website instead of using forms and it’s certainly the quickest and easiest thing to do, but is it the best?

The first thing to remember is that by providing an email address you open yourself up to spam. And if that’s not bad enough, each time someone contacts you on email it’s exactly that – on email. With a form you can not only ensure they leave certain key details (although too many fields can often put people off), your content management system will record every question or query that’s sent along with all the details your form captures.

There's also the impression that it leaves - you don't see many websites from larger companies dishing out email addresses. It's nearly always a form.

And, if you do receive emails from leads generated from your site and you disagree with the above, perhaps it’s time to realise you aren’t getting enough business from your website.

Wednesday, 7 April 2010

Social media Case Studies: from Innocent to Nestle




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by Kathryn Richards

The Greenpeace viral campaign, consisting of a “mock” Nestle advert, illustrating the effects of the use of Palm Oil in Nestle products, was undoubtedly a success. The video (after being removed from YouTube by Nestle and re-posted on Vemeo) has been viewed over half a million times on YouTube alone.

The rather shocking and gory video will definitely make you think twice about “taking a break” and tucking into your mid-morning Kit Kat.

Interestingly it was Nestle's reaction and their use of social media, not the Greenpeace video success that caught my attention (See our previous post for more on this real time tools- vital in managing a crisis).

Oh please...it's like we're censoring everything to allow only positive comments" is just one of the unpopular comments posted by Nestle on their Facebook page.

Their sarcastic and often rude reactions to the comments on their Facebook group triggered a huge media backlash and (somewhat unsurprisingly) many disgruntled and angry “fans”.

The Nestle website, funnily enough, doesn’t link to any Facebook/ Twitter/ blog or social media account from its home page (however, to be fair, you can request an immediate “call back” from its customer service team). The most exciting part of their site is the recipe section designed to showcase their products- which hopefully conveys to you just how uninspiring the site is.

Let’s compare this example with that of Innocent Smoothies. After customers started complaining about a particular product on their blog, they responded not with defensive remarks – but a new product range.

We like conversations, because they’re two way and if they’re good, you learn stuff. Basically, if there’s a new way in which our drinkers want to communicate with us, then we’ll get involved.” Innocent founders on Social Media.

The Innocent website is a true picture of the SEO ideology “content is king” - a regularly updated, interesting blog, twitter stream, YouTube channel and Facebook page. Not to mention their e-mail marketing- filled with apparently random but very cool links such as “the world’s poshest tree house” or “singing chickens”, all cleverly positioned next to “re-tweet” icons.

As for Google, type in “smoothies” and there’s Innocent, at number 1.
Nestle? Strangely, you’ll have to work a bit harder. For the word “coffee” you’ll need to trawl through to the second page to see Nescafe. Type in “chocolate”…10 pages of results later you’ll still be searching.

Innocent’s online presence- based on conversation, rather than providing a platform for complaints to pile up- is increasing both their very loyal customer base and their sales. Their established image and culture (environmentally friendly, young and healthy) certainly gives them the upper hand (compared to a huge multinational formerly associated with numerous corporate responsibility scandals) – and allows them to develop and push the use of social media.

Sadly, with Nestle, this seems to be just a case of damage limitation.

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