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Archive for the ‘Marketing’ Category

What we’ve learnt about Apple from their new iPhone 6 launch

Posted Friday, September 26th, 2014

Apple claim to have shifted approximately 10 million iPhone 6 and 6plus combined. That’s a huge number in it’s first week and has been accompanied by the media sensation and long queues that we’ve come to expect

But what has the recent launch shown us about design, marketing and technology?

Design:
Apple’s phones have been designed consistently thinner since their original release and for the first time they’re big. Jobs famously said that consumers didn’t want large screens but the recent releases seem to suggest that Cook disagrees as a result of the demand from their customer’s demands. When I recently spoke to an assistant in the Vodafone shop 6 months ago she claimed people were selecting their phone devices on size so it has been no surprise that apple have responded accordingly.

Marketing:
Apple’s keynote is a major tech event which generates its own hype but interestingly problems have come since the event. The keynote was dogged by poor viewing, the servers were struggling to stream the event and for the first 20 minutes it was dubbed in Mandarin. Since then people have criticised the forced download of U2’s album, the bendy iPhone 6 plus and bugs with iOS8. Frankly, these issues won’t effect sales and nor have they deterred me in any way to order the iPhone 6 but it shows that life is never silky smooth even for the world’s coolest brand, voted by cool brands.com

Technology:
Each new iPhone release has major upgrades which improve the running and functionality of the phone but if you ask a consumer what the difference between the iPhone 5 and iPhone 6, I bet all they will say is size! Interestingly, iOS8 and the iPhone 6 are according to Apple the most significant upgrades since their first phone. As someone who takes  a keen interest in the upgrades and how it will effect my startup BeBirbal I’ve noticed that users will find taking pictures and videos will offer more options and iOS8 makes it a much easier to search for websites and apps.

To be honest whatever Apple offered with a new phone it’d be snapped up but I do feel that recent upgrades are an improvement to the user and even developers. We know apple are cool even if they do make some major mistakes, such is the extent of their customer loyalty. They’ve delivered what was expected, a slickly designed device with some fantastic technology and a strong message which covers any cracks.


Why micro videos are the hottest trend in 2014

Posted Friday, August 15th, 2014

If 2014 is the year of anything, it’ll be the year of micro-video. The rise of the ultra short form film in 2013 might have surprised many – after all what can you say in a few seconds – but already smart brands are starting to master this medium.

Promise of engagement

Micro-video offers the promise of more engagement than traditional online video, with branded Vines four times more likely to be shared than traditional online video.

Added to this, the mobile-based nature of micro-video and its expansion onto sites like YouTube, means that micro-video may have the potential to further increase a brand’s reach by providing additional touch points within the digital space.

The plus points for consumers is that the time commitment is small, making them more willing to watch, but brands still need to be aware of the following:

  • Micro-video films need to be entertaining, informative or intriguing. This is currently a push medium so entertainment value is critical.
  • Typically, consumer films are shot on a mobile and the lo-tech aesthetic is important; quick rather than slick should be the watch-word.
  • Micro-videos are short and thus brands need to adopt simple visual cues that make the brand clear right from the start. Audi and Samsung place the products they produce at the core of their micro-video, making them a key part of the action.

Will your business be producing micro-videos and for which apps/websites?


Reskinning Apps- the opportunities to reskin differently

Posted Friday, April 4th, 2014

Here’s a blog post I wrote for an app blog which is about to go live and I thought I’d share. It looks at how many indie app developers are reskinning apps with he same old code and having trouble standing out in the app store. Here’s thoughts about a different approach and how reskinning could even help people around you.

Smashing Apps

We’re all in the app reskinning business and hopefully everyone is smashing it! It took me some time to get my head round how it all works and implementing the systems that helped me release quality apps quickly. But as I’m sure many people experienced, I hit some early financial losses when I started which I couldn’t afford and what’s more, I was worried whether the app business would work for me or I would get it right.  It forced me to find a way of making guaranteed income from reskinning before I spent all the money I had to build apps

I’d love this article to be about how I’ve cracked it, instead it’s a couple of thoughts on the opportunities reskinning offers and how I’ve used what I’ve learnt to make alternative revenue. Initially I needed to find a way to cover my costs to reskin my own apps but eventually I realized how reskinning could apply to any new business. Hopefully there’ll be a follow up message on how I’ve nailed it!

The Background

I run a company called SWARMbuzz which helps businesses with their online, social and mobile strategies. I’d been running the business for 3 years when I discovered how to build an app, I love everything mobile so I thought I’d give the app game a go. But I took a massive early hit; I made some poor decisions on my first app, severely overspent and finally got nailed by the developer. It was a disaster. But I tried again and whilst I’d learnt a few lessons, I still made mistakes and made a loss, poor developers and my own inexperience were costing me. By my third attempt I had an app released which saw some good early downloads but it would have needed to be a smash hit to recover expenditure on 3 apps, 2 of which didn’t even get released!

I couldn’t afford to keep losing money but I wanted to continue having a go at building apps as I believed it was a great market and I enjoyed it. I needed to find a way to cover my early losses and get some quick income to fund further projects. I continued to release some small games which were making money but my P&L sheets weren’t looking very healthy and I needed to do something about it

 

How can I play the reskinning game differently?

Initially I thought that the reskinning game was a secret I should keep. As I’d spent the time and money learning only I should know about it. But this didn’t last, partly because I think it’s better to share knowledge and secondly I’m not very good at keeping secrets! The more people I told, friends and clients, the more they were interested and saw the sense in it. Until a friend who owns a successful company asked me to produce monthly games for his business targeting families. He knew they were reskinned apps and he was happy they were, I wasn’t cheating him, I was helping him. He’d been producing apps for his other companies paying tens of thousands of dollars but I was telling him I could produce apps at a fraction of the cost and quicker, he was naturally very happy and I now produce small games for him each month. You may ask why I wouldn’t just produce these games for myself but in the early days the money I charged allowed me to recover my loses, I liked working with his company and we’re about to start new mobile businesses together because it has worked so well

When we think reskinning we think of games immediately because that’s what we’ve seen our teachers do and what we’ve read most about. But I’ve come to realize that the opportunities are truly endless, so far I’ve found a source code that has suited all of my crazy ideas! As an example, my family run a charity to help educate children less fortunate in India and Africa so I decided I could take a wallpaper source code I owned and use it to build a charity app. I wanted to offer it to other charities so I contacted local charities to show them the app I’d built and how I could do the same for them. I covered my costs and time and whilst it made a little money, it was the chance to help charities reach a mobile audience and acquire donations via an app which was all for good causes.

Where are these opportunities?

Networking networking networking! Speak to new people on social media, forums and friends at the bar!. Reach out to new people and speak to your friends to share your app knowledge because mobile is still very new to many people. I made a point of listing the people I knew who ran a business which could best benefit from apps. I sent them an email and just asked if we could meet for a chat. All of them agreed and those who understood mobile liked apps and they loved reskinning because quite frankly, it makes sense! Keep in contact with the people you know who own or work in a small business with a simple email or text message; majority of your business will come through people you already know.

To help my online business I took out a $1500 loan from my family and joined a networking group which could be hard work as it started at 6.30am once a week, but it gave me the chance to meet local businesses and talk about the online and mobile world. Remember we’re tech ninjas, there are a lot of people, even young people, who don’t understand the mobile game and how it’s conquering everything! When I decided to offer reskinning commercially I arranged meetings with fellow members and we discussed how I thought apps could help them. Over the course of my two years with the group I did $25000 in business (a mixture of mobile, social and app work) so I was thankful the investment was worthwhile.

It’s not as though my time is now filled with building other people’s apps, I still have plenty of time to build my own. But it brought in some early money to help cover my mistakes. What I’ve enjoyed the most is being able to help companies build a low cost app that is equally effective as one that would’ve cost far more money. It also started conversations with successful business owners who now want to build other mobile businesses together.

The fighting talk

What’s cool about all of this is that I’ve never written a line of code, I can’t design an icon or implement a chart boost SDK. That’s not what I do, a property developer doesn’t build the walls, they try to spot the opportunity and that’s what I enjoy the most; now and again it pays off!

It might not be your bag getting involved in other businesses; personally it’s what I love to do. If you’re in reskinning just as a passive income then you can still consider how your app flipping knowledge could pay for your first app, your next app or a big app you’ve been dreaming of releasing. You could reskin an app for your local restaurant or even your or your kid’s school and then multiple schools in your area. Charge whatever you’re comfortable with or enough to pay for your next app. Or simply find fun opportunities to utilize your app reskinning knowledge.

How cool would it be to build fun apps, extraordinary businesses and potentially help others, with the app reskinning lessons we’ve been taught, there’s no reason why we can’t!

Good luck to you all!

Get in contact:
Twitter: owhittle

 


8 Fun ways to use Instagram for your business

Posted Monday, August 12th, 2013

Hundreds of millions of active Instagram users every month are posting forty million photos a day on Instagram. Think about those numbers for a few minutes. Now that they’ve sunk in I think we can agree that learning how to use Instagram to best promote your business, product or service is a very, very wise move

Why Instagram Is Good For Your Business

1. A Picture is Worth a Thousand Words

No it’s not a cliché at all. Do you have a product that you can display in a really visual dynamic way? Or a service that some great photos can highlight in an emotionally charged, dramatic manner? If you can translate the passion of what you offer or do into a visual image this opens a fantastic door of opportunity.

2. Instagram Can Offer A Behind the Scenes Look

When you share some photos that offer a behind the scenes look at your business, it can go a long way towards building a sense of rapport and familiarity between your work and those you are offering it to. This is one of the most powerful ways social media can help you change the game.

3. It Encourages Customer Participation

Once you have built a reasonable amount of followers the door is wide open to encourage customers to exchange and participate in exchanges involving your business, through the use of things like hash tags. Why not encourage them to share photos of themselves using your product or service, if appropriate? Social media is social after all.

4. Instagram Allows You To Build a Personality for Your Business

Instagram should be an intricate part of building a distinct and winning personality for your business. Combined with other forms of social media, your website and your advertising, you are given a great opportunity for moulding how your business is perceived by your customers and potential leads. Are you trying to convey lightheartedness, seriousness, or some other “feel”?

5. Trust Building

The online experience can take a human face away from our business interactions. This is a bad thing if you are looking to build trust in what you offer. Instagram lets you put a face, literally, on your efforts and in ways that can be targeted to help build confidence in you.

6. Instagram Keeps Your Name In Conversation

Instagram is the ideal platform to hold contests to promote your business. The options are only limited by your imagination. “The best photo shared featuring what you offer receives a free product” is a popular formula that works again and again. – See more at:

7. Instagram Helps Promote Special Events

Are you planning on going to a trade show or something similar? Promote the fact you are going, on Instagram, to draw support and interest in your attending. During and afterward, document your trip with cool and fun Instagram photo shares. Focus on some containing yourself and customers or other business associates.

8. The Chance To Go Viral

Think company mascots, pets, adorable babies or animals doing funny things around your logo. It only takes one home run to change the public profile of your business forever so don’t laugh this off.

You can see with a nice dose of creativity, some thought, a plan and the right spirit can go a long way towards Instagram becoming a real asset in helping your business. Jump right in and don’t be shy. Getting your feet wet in Instagram is something you can do right away, and the more you use it the more comfortable you will become in the Instagram arena


Apps to get excited about in 2013

Posted Friday, May 17th, 2013

With thousands of new apps being released daily, it takes a lot to stand out. We’ve downloaded and tried five apps that are creating a buzz and offered our thoughts. Lets us know if you agree….

1. Wanelo

The new… Pinterest
Pinterest allows you to drool over pretty things on a photo-bulletin style site that tells your followers what you’re drooling over. Wanelo (short for “Want Need Love”) takes the photo-bulletin style design that has made Pinterest so popular and made it more practical. Click on one of the freshly styled images and the site redirects you to an online shop, where you can purchase what you’ve just added to your wishlist.

Verdict: 2/5 but that’s only because it’s heavily biased to fashion that doesn’t suit me but may well appeal to younger people

2. Vine

The new… Instagram
The app encourages you not to just take a photo, but to film a three to six second clip, and posts it on a loop.  With GIF-based memes everywhere online, the app is a smart and user-friendly way to create your own; whether that’s for promoting a Hollywood blockbuster or just you taking a sip of your beer.

Verdict: 3/5 I think it’s a great tool and could be very useful for lots of puposes but it hasn’t had the uptake you’d expect which suggests it’s not particuarly popular with tweeters

3. Snapchat

The new… Whatsapp
The photo messaging app is on almost every twenty-something’s smartphone and if not, then they’re all talking about it. The app lets you send photos with added captions and doodles – but the killer function is the ability to set a time limit of up to ten seconds for how long recipients can view their photos for, after which it is deleted from the recipient’s device and the company’s servers.

Verdict: 4/5 snapchat has grown quickly and whilst it took me some time to grow a fondness for it, the number of my contacts and facebook freinds who have joined in recent weeks has been huge. It’s a simple app, easy to use and a lot of fun- what more do you want from an app?

4. Tinder

The new… Chat Roulette
The app will show you people in your area which you can either anonymously like or pass on. It then lets the other person know and if your profile tickles their fancy, they’ll like you back and you can begin chatting within the app. You can take it from there…

Verdict: 4/5 I discovered this app in San Francisco when it had just been released and it had a huge immediate uptake. It’s been much slower in the UK but it’s a great app for people a little nervous about using sites like POF that throws you in the deep end

5. #music

The new… Spotify
After the launch of Vine, the second  new app from Twitter is generating a lot of excitement in the music industry.  The app has integrated recommendations that show which artists are trending as well as up and coming musicians.

Verdict: 3/5 potentially I think this app could be huge but right now it’s not quite there yet- maybe because I’m not willing to accept that that my suggested list includes Janet Jackson, Nelly Furtado and Emma Bunton (busted!). A great way to discover music and like you can preview music in the app. Definitely one for the future and it’s rating is likely to increase


Will giving up social media for a week cleanse your soul?

Posted Monday, March 18th, 2013

Russian Orthodox church advises people to avoid Instagram and Twitter when annual period of self-denial begins next week

The Russian Orthodox Church has long told its followers to give up milk and meat for Lent but when the annual period of self-denial begins on Monday its leaders want the flock to go one stage further.

There should be no tweeting or instagramming of the experience – and no social media at all, in order to better cleanse the soul, according to church spokesman, Vsevolod Chaplin.

Interestingly, Maureen Henderson did exactly that last September for a month and documented it in her article 3 Reasons you Should Quit Social Media in 2013. She claimed the 3 main reasons people should reconsider devoting so much time to social networking were: 1) it harms your self-esteem 2) your blood pressure will thank you and 3) online is no substiture for offline.

It’s an interesting thought and I’m beginning to see and hear more people who are threatening to leave social networks, particualry Facebook, but very few following through for any length as after all, it’s the centre of keeping up to date with the people, businesses and interests they enjoy staying up to date with.
So did we adopt social media too quickly and are the cracks now appearing? It’s quite possible that activity is just levelling out as it was never going to be possible to maintain the explosive rates of growth. As a business, there’s still no choice but to join social networks and have your business represented to the highest standard with significant activity. So why the call for people to leave social media when it’s so important?
It has to surely be assessed as to how people use the various platforms and with what motives. I know of people who reguarly remove posts if it has not received as many likes or comments as they would like. This type of use is a far cry from the hugely beneficial attributes social networking has to offer, such as keeping up with breaking news and engaging with our sporting heroes, it’s a darker side to social media use. It’s no wonder then that social media is critisized and people threaten to adandon the platforms. But with everything used correctly, social media is an indespensible tool for personal and business use.
We should remember that causes like red nose day was undoubtedly helped by Facebook and Twitter as people spread messages and encouraged people to donate.  It is the ideal way to keep up to date with your industryand talk to the brands you are buying from. Yes it can be misused, like everything else but that shouldn’t threaten why it is such an important part of our lives now and how with the right balance, social media can improve, not distrupt our lives.

Looking for love this Valentine’s Day? Buy a Facebook girlfriend for only $5

Posted Thursday, February 14th, 2013

Forget wasting £5, or even £15, on an oversized novelty stuffed teddy this Valentine’s Day, even if it sings Unchained Melody when you push its paw. Dave Lee, of the BBC, found that for only $5 you can buy make-believe online love.

While conducting research, Lee came across a number of sites offering varying degrees off fake girlfriend services. After discovering Namoro Fake and Cloud Girlfriend couldn’t offer him the fabricated social media solicitude he was seeking, he turned to Google and happened upon Fiverr.

Fiverr is a US-based site-come-forum where people list things they are willing to do for $5 and after a quick search for “fake girlfriend”, Lee laid eyes on Sophia and the rest is history. Well, a whole week’s worth of history because that’s all the $5 gets you.

In addition, an organisation called ‘Cloud Girlfriend’ can provide lonely souls with the ‘change in relationship status’ that they so badly need and want during this difficult time of year. Cloud Girlfriend allows you to pick your ideal date from a list of possibilities – and then give them the dream-selection of attributes that would make any of your friends jealous.

Would you go to these lengths?

 

 

 


Why you don’t involve your company in social media…..

Posted Tuesday, August 2nd, 2011

At SWARM we’re trying to preach the good word of social media. To us it makes perfect sense that you should immerse your company in this modern, fashionable and highly effective form of PR, Marketing, Advertising and Communications. So we can list reason after reason why you SHOULD be on social media but we thought we’d address the concerns we’re confronting in meetings and explain why these aren’t motives to stay away from social media at all!

I don’t like it… …I don’t have a profile.
You might not like social media but your business’ target audience does! 50% of the UK population are on Facebook and 20% have a Twitter profile. In fact it’s not just that they have a profile, 15 million people in the UK login to their Facebook profile every day.
Your company can’t ignore the fact that despite your personal belief that it’s people making strange updates and spending too much time on the platforms, it is where people are communicating with each other and surely you’re business wants to get involved? Don’t miss out on the conversation!

What if people say negative things?
Whether you like it or not people will always have an opinion and often they’ll want to share that with people on the social networking sites. This is NOT a bad thing. In fact it gives you the opportunity to manage your online reputation. Where in the past, most criticisms were spread across the internet on forums and various sites, with the rise of Facebook and Twitter, you have the opportunity to monitor what people are saying and most importantly contact them and make sure any problems are corrected. In fact it shows that your company is on the ball and responding to feedback. Make sure that if you do enter social media you’re monitoring your profiles regularly and responding carefully- it’s even worse if you’ve created profiles and then not replying to comments or mentions.

There are so many sites I don’t know which ones are best for me
Following on from the last concern, you have to decide which social networking sites will best benefit your business. Pick a couple which offer the best return and stick with them. Don’t spread yourself thin because you’re less likely to keep on top of it and if there are comments that need attention, you’re more likely to reply if you have fewer profiles to check. If you’re starting on social media for the first time, start with Twitter and Blogging for six months for instance and then assess whether it’s beneficial to move into Facebook and LinkedIn if it fits your strategy.

I don’t understand it
If you want to keep your social media management in-house then there are plenty of webinars, articles and blogs on social media and the best ways to use it. But in the most case, we explain why you should be on social media, the benefits and the returns  and we talk you through it. We’ll outline the basic principles of social media and it’s our job to ensure your business gets the best from social media.

Stay in contact with SWARM on Twitter

 


Social Media Strategy- some thought before will provide results after.

Posted Wednesday, June 15th, 2011

Getting your social media strategy right before you launch your company on the social networking sites is so important. There’s no hurry, everyone on Twitter and Facebook will be around tomorrow and there’s nothing worse than a company who obviously has no clue about what they’re doing.

If you were to begin a new marketing campaign you’d take the time to sit down and discuss the best method to target your audience and what the most effective message is. There’s no reason that social media is any different. In fact, if there’s no strategy in place, you’ll quickly forget why you’re on social media in the first place and without any targets, you won’t know what you’re trying to achieve. Approach social media in the same way you would any marketing campaign, if not take it more seriously because it’s possible your company could achieve greater exposure than any of your previous campaigns.

Here are a few pointers to start with- go through the questions and have a think about how you’re company will respond to each question and how it’ll effect your time on social media. Don’t just dive into the social networking sites expecting to acheive all the wonderful stats that you keep seeing, it takes time, effort and structure. You didn’t really think it was going to be that easy did you?


Is Facebook taking over the world?

Posted Thursday, April 21st, 2011

According to Terminator lore Skynet was implemented on April 19, 2011 and will begin its attack against humanity on April 21- today! Skynet is obviously the ‘baddy’ in Terminator when it becomes self-aware and launches an attack on humanity. Laughable fiction obviously? Or is it when we’ve got Facebook around? Facebook is growing as a company, as an entity, as a social platform that has aided revolutions and supported the election of presidents. Is Facebook all that different to Skynet after all?

First of all, we would hope that Facebook isn’t able to infiltrate the MOD and launch nuclear weapons. Nonetheless it seems Facebook is everywhere these days. It wasn’t that long ago that companies were reluctant to join social networking sites in fear it would degrade the image of their company and now suddenly, everyone is diving in as though you’re perceived as ‘behind the times’ if you’re not actively involved.

Fan page links and Twitter icons seem to be everywhere, TV adverts no longer direct people to their website but instead advertise their Facebook and twitter IDs. Almost as though a light has switched, companies have finally accepted the use and benefit of social media and how it is an indispensible tool in modern business. Could we go so far as to say….social media has changed the way we do business?

Take Coca Cola for example who have seen their Facebook fan page reach an incredible 25 million fans. The flip side of this is that websites are becoming ‘old fashioned’. They’re stagnant, often boring and in many occasions have no means to interact. Coke’s website traffic has dropped by 40% in one year! Will the website soon become obsolete? If so, Facebook will become incredibly more powerful than it already is.

Recent research shows that 23% of consumers prefer to receive information from brands via Facebook, with 21% preferring a brand’s website and 3% from a company blog. Ben&Jerry have gone so far to announce that they won’t be emailing customers with newsletters anymore because they feel it is ineffective, (who reads newsletters anymore- don’t they just get flagged and forgotten?) and will be using Facebook instead.

So Facebook is taking over the world then? Whilst it might not be pointing nuclear weapons at your home as Skynet did, it is fast becoming an entity, or a mind, of its own.

Is it time to worry then? Not at all. Facebook has yet to pass the ultimate challenge- the test of time. In terms of a major historical household brand, it’s still in play school. Think friends reunited, where is it now? Nonetheless there’s no denying that Facebook is emerging as a leading brand, but it’s rise to fame could be as easily followed by a slide to obscurity.

Do we need to take shelter and buy up supplies as Facebook gathers momentum?  I like to believe its intentions aren’t as destructive as Skynet’s. However, there’s no denying that Facebook has already ‘changed the world’ but how long until it ‘rules the world’?

Blog inspired by @spreadingjam who tweeted yesterday about the importanc of the date- thanks!


 
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