Future Learn: Sharing Online – Reflecting and Sharing Week One

The University of Leeds runs a frequent series of courses on FutureLearn about different facts of online learning, and how to improve your learning experience. While I’ve been learning online for quite a while, I’ve always meant to go through these courses and see if there is anything that could help improve my experience, so I’ve started with the ‘Reflecting and Sharing’ course, to see what they recommend.

It was nice to have the first week of the course recommend things that I already do – like this blog! I was also reminded of the use of Padlet, which I still have on my phone after initially writing about it, but haven’t used much since. We were asked to upload a picture to the course padlet – any picture, so I quickly woke my cat up for this beautiful webcam image… she wasn’t really impressed…

The course also recommended listening to or even starting a podcast – full confession, I’ve harboured podcast ambitions for years but probably not for this. It reminded me to look again for some business studies podcasts as they would be a good learning experience while commuting/travelling. It also recommended this book – Study Skills Connected: Using Technology to Support Your Studies, which I’m intrigued by and might look out for.

This is a two-week course, and I’m excited for next week’s section as it involves a written exercise. I’ve already been scanning ahead in the course material and hopefully I’ll have something to contribute.



Notes from starting to study Marketing Essentials

To try and improve my overall understanding of marketing and business, I’ve decided to start going through some degree textbooks (borrowed from my sister’s bookshelf) and making notes on some of the important principles. I’ve also starting some more FutureLearn courses soon.

The book that I’m starting with is Marketing Essentials Second Edition by Sally Dibb and Lyndon Simkin. My basic notes, points etc. are below. (I’ve always found that I learn better from initial handwritten study notes if I type them out and make sure that they’re in a coherent format). I haven’t got very far into the book yet, so there will be a fair few posts after this one, possibly in their own category and round-ups as with my FutureLearn work from the summer.

What is marketing?

Marketing is a complex set of processes

  • Creating Content
  • Communicating with customers and managing relationships
  • Delivering value
  • Providing insights and direction to the overall organisation

So, lots of different but interconnected strands.

The main focus is the understanding and ongoing satisfaction of targeted customers. ‘Targeted’ is the most important word here, it encompasses all the of the audience understanding that goes into marketing so that you can get your product in front of the people who want it, and continue to ensure that you do this as ¬†your customers and/product evolve and change.

Challenges to Good Marketing Strategies

  • Too much of a focus on short-term results, meaning that there is less time spent building customer relationship/loyalty, and no clear long-term aims and goals.
  • Consumer apathy – due to failure to understand and cater to your audience, and lack of ‘big ideas’, especially at management level.
  • The change to consumers lives due to the internet – something that has happened very quickly over the past few years. Marketing and actual purchasing have both moved online through a range of channels – often two-way channels.

Marketing needs to be the ‘radar’ of an organisation, not just to understand the needs of the current customer base but to identify new and emerging markets and their needs. Marketers need to understand purchase behaviour and changing environments, and also have an appreciation for what their competitors do – their strategies and ideas – as well as wider mainstream marketing trends. This is what will make an organisation marketing oriented.

¬†Social Media Content, Tone and Audience

      A few days ago I started trying to write a blogpost of issues with the idea of ‘tone of voice’ when creating online content, especially on Twitter, but I struggled to articulate my ideas somewhat, so I’ve shelved that blog for now. However, whilst writing it, I came upon this recent blog from Adobe (https://blogs.adobe.com/digitalmarketing/web-experience/content-channel-agnostic-better/ – I’ve been reading their blog posts a lot recently and they’re a pretty good resource.) 

      The post mentions that you need to ‘Create Content With the Customer in Mind’. This leads me on to another thought, what do you do when your audience is segmented? This must be a fairly common issue. Do you segment your social media channels to make one tailored towards one audience and one to another? This doesn’t strike me as a great plan, so there needs to be a way to balance voices that speak to different people on the same channels. Doing this needs a level of planning, so that it doesn’t seem uneven over time, and a careful understanding of audience. 
      Basically, this is something that I’m looking at for the organisation that I work for, as their social media network expands. Mainly, I’m looking at planning and arranging pieces of content so that the tone doesn’t appear uneven, and that while it is aimed at different audiences, it isn’t too disparate, and above all, follows a clear brand guideline for certain wording.

      Goodbye Vine? Quick Blog Thoughts

      Just wanted to throw out a few quick thoughts about Vine being shut down: this Guardian article is a good starting point if you’re not fully up on the situation.

      In some ways, this was always bound to happen with a major social media platform, just by the nature of the system that these grow out of. Like so many other apps, Vine was a fantastic app idea, funded by investors and sold to a major company once the userbase is big enough. But then it has to be in some way profitable. Squeezing adverts into social media has always been a problem, and often done fairly ineffectively (and can frequently end up annoying users.) There’s only so long that Twitter could have supported Vine unless it started to make a lot of money (plus Twitter hosted video is a lot better than it used to be, and Periscope is still very much the ‘new big thing) so it’s not surprising that despite millions of active users, although a lot less than in previous years, that they’re made the decision to cut it off.

      In terms of creative content, it’s a huge loss for a great many people. The six second looping format encouraged some fantastic ideas to take root, and not just spontaneous viral stuff either – there were some very complex ‘six-second films’ on there, and many brands also put a lot of work into advertising content. It has also at times been a vehicle for sharing powerful images of social change or unrest, though Periscope has definitely taken over that to a large extent. I’ve written quite a bit about Vine in the past, and it partly inspired my Master’s Degree dissertation, so I’m quite saddened to see it go. Not to mention, there were a were a lot of online creators making a living from Vine content, and moving to a new platform will be deeply difficult.


      Facebook Ads and Past Performance 

      I’ve been using Facebook advertising for quite some time, in various different jobs and in various different ways. I’m still very much learning, so I’m not sure if this feature is new or has only just kicked in once I’d done enough adverts for it to have proper data.

      Facebook Adverts can now tell me what keywords and demographics work for my posts based on past performance. Despite all of the careful research and profiling that I’ve done and had dimples be by third parties, sometimes finding the right Facebook audience for a successful ad could feel like a stab in the dark so it’s great to have something concrete to base ad preparation and design on.