Tuesday, 23 December 2014

2014...A rewarding year



It's been another momentous year for fatBuzz and thanks to all of our clients for keeping us very busy for the whole of 2014, including this week!

It has also been a great year for many of our clients with many of them reporting increased turnover and profits. This is also reflected by the number of awards they've been winning. Here's a quick summary of the successes some of our client have enjoyed recently.

Carbon Financial Partners have enjoyed lots of success during the recent awards season in the financial sector culminating achieving a Gold Standard Award.  To achieve a Gold Standard Award, companies have to complete a rigorous questionnaire designed to assess progress in five pillars – financial strength, capability, service, fair value and trust.  It was particularly pleasing to them as this is the second successive year they have won the award.

Paul Gibson, one of Carbon's financial planners also featured as a winner at the Money Management Financial Planner of the Year Awards, and  Carbon were also named among the Best of the Best in the Institute of Financial Planning's Accredited Financial Planning Firm of the Year.

Carbon are also shortlisted in the Professional Adviser Awards 2015, the winner will be announced in February and we hope to bring you some more good news then.

Curtis Moore enjoyed success by winning in the best vertical cladding/rainscreen category at the NFRC Scottish Roofing Contractor of the Year Awards 2014 for their work on Haymarket Station in Edinburgh.  Congratulations to the team there and we hope to bring you news of more awards for Curtis Moore in 2015.

Estate Life celebrated a milestone, it's been 10 years since founder Joanna Goddard first advised an estate about diversification. They have come a long way since then, this year Estate Life provided the keynote speaker at the Country House Business Innovation Show in London and have already been booked for the same event next year!

A notable addition to their client portfolio was Strathallan Castle, the venue for the 2015 T in the Park.

We look forward to working with Joanna, Susan and the rest of the team next year.

Excel Vending were over the moon to be featured at the National Vending Industry Awards in Manchester back in June. Tricia Connelly picked up the Vending Supervisor of the Year award sponsored by Douwe Egberts.

It was fitting that this award also came in the year that Excel came of age, they were celebrating their 21st year in business which in itself is a massive achievement, we look forward to working with them again in 2015.

It's been and very busy year for Dean's, not only have they completely refurbished their bistro and visitor store, they have successfully launched their online store and expanded their oversees sales.  All of this completed while achieving and Investors in People Bronze Award.

We also look forward to working with Dean's during their 40th anniversary celebrations in 2015.

La Favorita Delivered were successful at the Scottish Italian Awards, an event that fatBuzz are proud to sponsor.  They picked up the coveted Best Pizza Award 2014.  They were also shortlisted in the prestigious PAPA Awards in London.  We're sure they will be featuring in many more awards ceremonies as they expand into Glasgow with the opening of a new store in Gibson Street, Glasgow.

Congratulations also go to Mitchells in Inverurie who picked up two awards at the Scottish Grocer Awards 2014; Sustainable Retailer of the Year and Health Promoting Retailer of the Year.

We also congratulate Managing Director, Keith Whyte on becoming Chairman of the Grampian Food Forum, we wish him well with his appointment.

It was also an exciting year for Nick Cohen and his team at PCR Business, they sold a stake in the business to Abica Telecoms Group.

Nick described the transaction as a "match made in heaven" saying that it lets his business retain its own identity while enjoying the benefits of being part of Abica, with which it shares many clients. We look forward to working with PCR Business as these exciting developments unfold.

Nick Cohen was also a finalist in two important awards; Glasgow Inspiring City Awards, Contribution by a Young Entrepreneur, and WeDoScotland, Young Entrepreneur of the Year.

Porrelli Ice Cream enjoyed success at this year's ROCCO Awards, they won the Best Family Business 2014, a fitting reward for all of their hard work and the excellent products they create.  Perhaps more fittingly though because they will be holders of the award during 2015 - their 90th year in business.  It's a true milestone and we look forward to working with them during this important part of their history.

It's also worth mentioning another business celebrating a milestone anniversary this year, Saks Hair Salons celebrated their 40th year in business, congratulations on a great achievement.  Saks did it in style with a huge presence at the Clothes Show Live.  We look forward to working with Saks in 2015 as they start their journey towards the big 50! 

The ROCCO Awards was also a successful event for Spectrum Service Solutions, they were shortlisted in four categories and won the Excellence in Customer Service 2014 award. They were also nominated for two awards in The Herald Family Business Awards where they were commended again for Excellence in Customer Service.

But, Spectrum's biggest achievements of the year happened away from the awards ceremonies, after handling the cleaning and waste management for the biggest global sporting event of the year, they went on to do the same for the Ryder Cup at Gleneagles. All this while expanding the core business into new sectors and completing many other special events along the way.

Young & Partners was recommended in the Legal Directories for licensing and commercial dispute resolution and their team made great inroads on social media with one particular blog post attracting an amazing 21,000+ readers!  

We've enjoyed working with them through the year and watching their online journey progress with some great results, but we're sure there's even better to come next year!

Of course, business is not just about winning awards, much as it is nice to be rewarded for your hard work.  Real business success is rewarded by growth and profits and many of our clients have grown this year, we congratulate all of them and we truly appreciate working with each and every one of you.

Finally, the team at fatBuzz would like to wish every member of every client team a very happy Christmas and a prosperous new year, we look forward to serving you in 2015.  

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Wednesday, 17 December 2014

2015 The Year of Integration - January New Media Breakfast



Predictions for 2015 and the case for integrated marketing

Date: Friday 30th January 2015
Venue: 29 Member's Club, Royal Exchange Square, Glasgow
Time: 7:45am for 8:00am

In January, many of us start with great intentions of keeping new year resolutions, but for most of us, they have been forgotten midway through the month. Perhaps it's no big deal in our personal lives, usually because the resolutions we make are half-hearted wishes rather than serious life changing choices.

Business growth is a different matter entirely; a strong marketing plan, good preparation, and the discipline to see it through are essential for your business marketing.

The January New Media Breakfast will take a look at the year ahead and suggest some of the things that you must do, and some of the things you should do in 2015.

We have spoken about the need for an integrated approach in the past, but we would like to help you make 2015 the year of integration. So, we will explore how your online and offline marketing activities can complement each other and work to make your marketing efforts more fruitful. We will look at the following:
  • Evaluating what you already do and how to make it better 
  • Gathering data and using html email 
  • Print - Why you should consider it as part of the mix 
  • Promotional gifts and business events - Are you making the most of them? 
  • Advertising - Online and offline 
  • Content sharing - Online and offline 
  • Analytics - Knowing and responding to what's happening 
  • SEO and PPC - Why they must be part of the plan 
We will also look at some predictions for 2015 and the things you should watch for during the year.

As you might expect if you've been to a previous New Media Breakfast, Content will get a mention; we will also look at the 2015 calendar and suggest ways that you can tap into events and activities throughout the year.

Gordon White, Managing Director, fatBuzz, and Tim Barlow, Managing Director, Attacat will present this session.

Venue: 29 Member's Club, Royal Exchange Square, Glasgow
Date: Friday 30th January 2015
Time: 7.45am for 8:00am
Cost: £10 +VAT


If you are a 29 Member you can attend the breakfast free of charge. Please email fiona@fatbuzz.com with you membership number and she will add you to the attendance list.

We hope you can make it along to this event. If so, I look forward to seeing you on the day.

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Friday, 31 October 2014

2014 Social Media Winners & Losers, and a some ideas for social media activity over the Christmas period



Date: Friday 28th November 2014
Venue: 29 Member’s Club, Royal Exchange Square, Glasgow
Time: 7:45am for 8:00am

The November New Media Breakfast is the final breakfast of the year, so we thought we’d look back at the winners and losers during 2014. And, since it happens a few weeks before the Christmas period, we thought we’d also share some social media marketing ideas for you to use over the festive period.

There have been many great social media campaigns during the year, many of them we can learn from and perhaps adapt in some way for use in the future. We will explore some of the good campaigns and why we think they were a success. Likewise, there were some bad campaigns that flopped, and in some cases were damaging to the brand. We will explore some of these and try to identify what went wrong so that you can avoid similar mistakes in the future.

The Christmas period is always busy on social media, however many of the people on the channels are more focussed on organising social events, parties and get togethers than following your brand. We will share some ideas about how you can grab their attention in a relevant manner during the festive season. Hopefully, it will provide inspiration for you to adopt this Christmas.

Anyone interested in exploring what makes a good or bad social media campaign, and anyone looking for inspiration for social media activity over the festive season.

Gordon White, Managing Director, fatBuzz Ltd will present this session.

Venue: 29 Member’s Club, Royal Exchange Square, Glasgow
Date: Friday 28th November 2014
Time: 7.45am for 8:00am
Cost: £10 +VAT


If you are a 29 Member you can attend the breakfast free of charge. Please email fiona@fatbuzz.com with you membership number and she will add you to the attendance list.

We hope you can make it along to this event. If so, I look forward to seeing you on the day.

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Thursday, 23 October 2014

Pandas and Penguins - What's all the fuss about?



A couple of our clients have asked whether the industry chat about Google's Panda and Penguin is something that is worth worrying about, so we invited our SEO partner to write a guest blog on the topic.  Here's what Tim Barlow, Managing Director at Attacat has to say about Google's Panda and Penguin. 

Here's the short answer: provided your technical SEO is in order, your content is resonating well with your audience and you've never invested in "link building" you have little to fear.

Algorithm changes
Google constantly tweaks the signals and equations it uses to rank web pages. Panda and Penguin are the nicknames of two of the best known and significant "tweaks".

Both of these algorithm changes were designed to make Google's results more relevant. The aim in part was to reduce the influence of signals that website owners have learned to manipulate (and thereby gain an "unfair advantage").

Panda's focus is poor quality content while Penguin is concerned with poor quality and manipulative links.

Why might you need to worry?
As with any change in the way Google ranks pages there will be winners and losers. Typically with Panda and Penguin , if you lose you lose large proportions of your traffic.

You can think of Penguin or Panda as a line. As long as you remain the right side of it you'll be fine. As soon as you cross it though, your ranks are in danger of falling dramatically. You also need to be aware that the line is constantly moving as Google continually updates its algorithms.

Unlike Google's manual penalties you won't be notified by Google if your site trips the Penguin or Panda filters. If you've got a well established site you'll most likely notice the drop in traffic, however many sites may never know they've been hit – especially if sites are just getting established.

Prevention is of course the best solution and the best tactic is to resist the temptation of low quality, be that with your SEO tactics or your online proposition as a whole.

What defines "poor quality"?
Quality is something defined by the eye of the beholder of course. The eye in this case belongs to Google , who provide a set of guidelines (https://support.google.com/webmasters/answer/35769?hl=en). As part of the guidelines they provide this yardstick:

A good rule of thumb is whether you'd feel comfortable explaining what you've done to a website that competes with you, or to a Google employee. Another useful test is to ask "Does this help my users?  Would I do this if search engines didn't exist?".

Many sites hit by Penguin, Panda or any other algorithmic filter have knowingly invested in SEO tactics that fall well short of the above test. The sin may have been committed by the website owner or by a third party supplier but either way it is you, as the website owner, that needs to take responsibility for ensuring that you stay the right side of the line.

Panda and "thin" content
A fad that a number of SEOs followed was the idea that "more pages = more ranks = more traffic". In the extreme this resulted in some website owners making "content" by mashing up, 'spinning' and remixing existing content automatically.
Others sought to target thousands of infrequently searched queries by taking their product databases and then slicing and dicing their offering in many ways to create thousands of pages. For example a travel agent might have created a page for each combination of departure airport and cruise boat . A nationwide online florist might have created a simple page for every UK postcode to target someone searching for "flower delivery EH43" or any other postcode.

Many websites have also created so called 'thin' content relatively innocently by rewording or using other people's content (even with their permission).

Sites that may get ' Panda'd ' in innocence include:
  • eCommerce sites that use manufacturers' product descriptions and add no or little additional content 
  • sites that create many pages for their products/services but neglect to differentiate the pages sufficiently 
  • blogs that use news feeds from third party organisations or simply write about what lots of other more popular sites are writing about 
  • sites that inadvertently create lots of pages as a result of not investing in technical house keeping 
Its very possible that your site has many more "pages" (in Google's eyes) than you realise. This is usually caused by coding errors (including those made when adding content through content management systems) and will often go unnoticed as the impact on normal users is fairly low. Google is pretty good at realising that these are innocent mistakes, but it is highly likely that such mistakes could contribute to tripping up the angry panda. Pre and post site launch SEO checks, and good ongoing SEO house keeping will identify and eliminate such issues before they become problematic.

Penguin and unnatural links
The good news with Penguin (a link-focused filter) is you are unlikely to get hit by it if you adhere to Google's guidelines; I'm yet to see an example of an innocent* site getting hit by Penguin. In each case I have seen, I can see deliberate attempts to manipulate search ranking factors to gain search engine rankings.

*the exception to this is so -called "negative SEO", the practice of deliberately trying to lower a competitor's ranks. Although on the rise, this is still not widespread practice and Google is often able to spot and discount an attack. 99 times out of a 100, a site coming to us suspecting they are a victim of negative SEO only has themselves (or their SEO provider) to blame. Good SEO housekeeping will allow you to identify someone attacking your site before it becomes an issue.

Google's big original innovation was using links from third party sites as a signal for ranking sites. They claimed they were unspammable, a comment they now fully appreciate was very niave!

Google has now made it clear: it wants you to acquire links "naturally" and if you don't, the penguin will likely get you sooner or later.

I interpret "natural links" as links you earn on merit. If the majority of your links come from sites that actually drive you real visitors and real customers, you have nothing to worry about from Penguin.

The general trend of Google
Penguin and Panda are just steps in Google getting better and better at understanding sites. It's clear they want to rank site that user really like and keep coming back to time and again.

This in my opinion at least, is why your SEO strategy should look something like this:
have a defined audience
  • know what problems they go onto search engines to solve 
  • solve one or more of those problems better than your competitors (even if that doesn't directly generate revenue for you) 
  • ensure your paid product or service is at least as good as your competitors 
  • ensure your website is easy to use and persuasive 
  • invest in SEO house keeping 
  • make sure your customers (and prospects) have an amazing experience 
  • provide them with reasons to keep then coming back 
  • work with others targeting the same audience as you (to do things that add yet more value to your (and their) audience  
  • amplify with carefully targeted paid advertising 
Tim Barlow is Managing Director of Attacat, an Edinburgh-based marketing agency for ambitious companies who take search engine traffic seriously. Many fatBuzz customers will know Tim from his presentations at our monthly New Media Breakfasts

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Friday, 3 October 2014

Proving the ROI in social media marketing, and encouraging management buy-in - October New Media Breakfast



Proving the ROI in social media marketing, and encouraging management buy-in

Date: Friday 31st October 2014
Venue: 29 Member’s Club, Royal Exchange Square, Glasgow
Time: 7:45am for 8:00am

There is little doubt that social media marketing is here to stay; fads simply don’t last 10+ years. Yet, organisations still struggle to justify the cost of social media and marketing personnel are constantly being asked to justify social media marketing spends.

Like many other marketing activities, it is often difficult to measure success, however the October New Media Breakfast will explore how you should approach the subject of return on investment and how to set measurable goals. Many people also struggle to get ‘buy in’ from their superiors and even their colleagues.

We will also look at how you can convince those around you to commit to, and support, your social media marketing plans. We will present actual examples of success stories in various sectors that will help you to convince doubters, and we will look at the potential cost of non-investment in social media marketing.

We will also take a look at how much of your overall marketing budget should be committed to social media marketing and why social media marketing now needs to be part of the overall marketing mix.

Anyone who is as yet unconvinced about the ROI of social media marketing, or anyone who has to convince management about the value of social media marketing.

Gordon White, Managing Director of fatBuzz Ltd will present this breakfast.

Venue: 29 Member’s Club, Royal Exchange Square, Glasgow
Date: Friday 31st October 2014
Time: 7.45am
Cost: £10 +VAT


If you are a 29 Member you can attend the breakfast free of charge. Please email fiona@fatbuzz.com with you membership number and she will add you to the attendance list.

We hope you can make it along to this event. If so, I look forward to seeing you on the day.

If you have found this post interesting please share it with your online community using either the Twitter, Facebook and Share buttons below. Thank You.



Wednesday, 24 September 2014

iPhone 6 - Turned a corner? Or, are they about to face problems with the bends?



Some people are saying Apple have turned a corner with the new iPhone 6 and that it's much more in line with current models like the extremely popular Samsung Galaxy.  

They may have turned a corner, but are they about to have some problems with the bends?

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Thursday, 11 September 2014

12 tips to help avoid social media choas



Following this morning's New Media Breakfast in Edinburgh it was suggested to me a relevant addition to the presentation would be some advice around the ownership of your social media channels.  This is is a great observation and sound advice from Scott Brymer, Brymer Legal.  

We have mentioned this in previous breakfasts, and to be honest, it's a topic that wouldn't really be out of place at any social media presentation.  Unfortunately, time doesn't always allow us to mention all we would like to.  But, we thought this is worth a blog post, especially since Blogging was the topic of this morning's presentation.

Scott rightly points out the potential problems that can arise if you don't give full consideration to who has access to your social media channels.  Here is an example that Scott kindly sent to me.

An individual had the details for online accounts (e.g. google account for analytics and blog) and then left the business as a “bad leaver”. The business owner then submitted a new password request for the Google account, not appreciating that the employee in question had been using the Google account for personal Gmail as well. As we know, everything Google does is linked, but the employer didn’t appreciate this. Cue the employee making hacking claims etc which got quite messy/heated.

It's not an uncommon scenario, we've seen similar things happen in other businesses.

Something else we've seen is the chaos caused when the only employee with access to the social media channel leaves the business.  This becomes especially challenging if the employee has left under a cloud.

There is also the question of ownership of contact lists such as those on an employee's personal LinkedIn Page.  We did discuss this precise point on Social Media Podcast No.55, and the main point made then was the need to plan these things in advance.

This is certainly our advice to all businesses when allowing employees access to social media channels: think ahead and put procedures in place that minimise the risk to your online presence.  Here are 12 tips that will help you avoid disruption and disputes if you find yourself in a similar situation. 
  • Ensure someone senior in the business has access to all platforms.  This would preferably be the business owner, director, or a long serving and trusted employee. 
  • Access needs to be 'Manager' level rather than 'Admin', or 'Editor' level.  The terminology will vary on the platforms, however it should be top level access otherwise you may not be able to take full control in the future.
  • If someone with access is leaving the business under a cloud, revoke their access to all channels before they are informed about their future.  Remember, it only takes seconds to change a password - they could even do it from a mobile device while they are being dismissed!
  • If someone with access resigns, revoke their access immediately.
  • Set out your policy for business contacts acquired in the course of their work whilst employed by you.  The business does have the right to these, even if it's on the employee's personal profile.  However, unless you plan this in advance you have no way of knowing the contacts acquired during the period of their employment.
  • Publish guidelines for the use of social media.  It is extremely difficult to censure someone if you haven't set out what is expected in the first place.
  • Don't assume the traditional Contract of Employment will cover all of the things a disgruntled employee could inflict on you.  There is a tendency to assume the employment contract will prevent disclosure of information, or enable the smooth handover of access details, but this may not always be the case.  Even if it does, actually getting them may prove problematic.
  • If you are using an agency for social media management, keep them fully appraised if an employee with access is being dismissed.  We have had an experience when an employee was dismissed late on a Friday and by the time we were notified on the Monday morning the Twitter account had been deleted.  Social media is 24/7, your agency should respond to something like this no matter when it happens.
  • Make sure there is more than one person with 'Manager' level access on each platform.
  • Even when an employee with access does leave with your blessing, change the passwords, it's as much for their protection as yours.
  • Appreciate the full extent of the access you are allowing.  Eg. James's example where a Gmail account could be for personal use but also attached to business accounts.
  • If in doubt, seek professional legal advice.
I hope these points have been helpful and that you don't find yourself in any of the situations we've mentioned here.  If you follow these tips, you will minimise the risk of disruption in the future.

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