Blaugust Day 29: Pinterest For Business Notes Part Three

This is the final pre-written and scheduled post of Blaugust. Tomorrow afternoon I will be back on dry land, and hopefully able to start writing ‘live’ again. This is also the second to last part of the notes from my Highbrow course on Pinterest for Business. There are still a quite a few emails left to come through, so I will summarise them either as one of the very final posts of Blaugust, or I’ll leave it until September.

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Image Notes

The course had already talked about making images Pinterest friendly in size etc. It didn’t go into much more details than that, but I did find a ‘Pinterest Cheat Sheet’ elsewhere which gives all of the best image sizes in pixel sizing – it’s a really great, clear resource.

Encouraging People to use Pinterest from your own site

  • Make sure that you have plugins installed on your own website to give you the ‘pin it’ button so that people can put content from your website/blog on their own pinterest boards themselves.
  • There are also some free plugins that will ensure that the right description (with the copy that you want people to see) will pull through to Pinterest when people pin your stuff.

The course then recommend using group boards to get your content out in front of people quickly and grow your following (kind of like jumping on a hashtag in Twitter, but much more closely connected.)



Blaugust Day 24: Email Marketing Notes Part Three

This is the end of this particular Highbrow course (part one and part two can be found here and here.) After I did the second blog, I needed to write a little more and make this the first pre-written, scheduled post to cover my time away from 24-30 August. So, the next few posts will also be pre-written, and I’ll be back on the evening of 30 Aug with a topic written that day. 
So onto the notes!

Email Personalisation 

Personalising your email is great, but this goes beyond just putting people’s names in the ‘Dear so-and-so’ bit – although you should absolutely be doing that!

Testing has shown that using the name of a person instead of just using the company name hugely improve open rates, though success can depend on the company and it may be be something to A/B test.

Goals and Analysis

It’s important to constantly look at how your emails are doing – and not just the positive metrics like open and click-through rate. Bounce rates will give you an idea of whether or not the email info in your database is still good, and unsubscribe will tell you if you are keeping a regular readership, or if people are giving up on you quickly.

Blaugust Day 11 – Links Round-up and Thoughts

For today’s post, I had a bunch of a interesting links, but I didn’t think that I had enough thoughts on each one to create an entire post around it. So here’s two different interesting stories with my own annotations.

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I’ve been using SoundCloud a lot more lately, particularly for listening to podcasts since my phone decided to start having problems with downloading them. I’ll admit, I personally don’t use it as a site for new music in the way that I do with Spotify – another site that struggled with profitability at first and only started to think about profitability late last year. However, most of my music friends have used it as an online portfolio – as did I as a music student. We use SoundCloud extensively at work for musical clips to advertise concerts and event to a potential audience – it makes for great content. It’s a fantastic site and I’ve glad that investors have stepped in to help it continue, but despite the obscene amount of wealth in the tech start-up industry, they can’t keep doing that forever The problem is that the free version of SoundCloud is almost too good. There isn’t enough incentive for most people to pay them, and asking users to pay for previously free content can be an issue. It’s a tricky situation and one that I hope they can find a way through, as SoundCloud is too good a platform to lose.

I’ve got less to say about this link but I did want to highlight it here, because it suggests that video streaming has hit a similar point to where audio streaming was ten years ago, when laws finally started to come in regarding how streaming could be used streaming technology had progressed to the point where lots of companies could create their own proprietary platforms. It didn’t work for music companies and it likely won’t work for video companies, so it may present a crossroads for the industry as a whole.


Blaugust Day 10: Everyone wants to be an Orginal (Video)

Let’s face it, off the back of YouTube’s astonishing success in the past decade or so, video content is now considered king of the internet, and every other social media platform has had success with short form videos – leading to platforms like Vine (RIP) and Snapchat being entirely based on it. 

However, Vine is now deceased, its technical if not social function swallowed up by Twitter, and despite it’s quick growth Snapchat remains a small, niche part of the overall market share.

So Facebook (including Instagram) and Twitter host a vast amount of popular video content between them. YouTube, meanwhile, has put millions into investing in long form content, eventually beginning to create it’s own, original TV-style shows via YouTube Red, plus rentable films etc. 

YouTube Red is in it’s early stages, but it is unsurprising that Facebook would also want to get in on the act, with a series of original shows that they’re calling ‘Watch’. Of course, Facebook has the money to experiment and the ready audience, but I have to wonder how interested they will be, unless Facebook can get some prestige television on board (as the linked article suggests) or at the very least, lure YouTube stars away from their platform permanently. Other platforms have tried with this method before – such as Snapchat, and as that linked article also suggests, it seems like the wider audience isn’t quite there, yet.

Blaugust Day 8: Live Streaming in the cultural sectors 

A few weeks ago I fell down an Arts Council report rabbit hole on live streaming – specifically on live steaming for the cultural sectors.

Considering how widespread live streaming is now, I was surprised at some of the results. According to this report from the Arts Council, the number of arts organisations in England involved in live streaming and similar activities declined from 15% to 12% between 2013 and 2015.

Looking into why, I realised that many of these organisations had assumed that live streaming needed to be a high tech, high production-value affair, perhaps worrying that their audiences wouldn’t be interested if the quality wasn’t as good as live, perhaps following articles like this one. Live streaming is seen as time consuming, expensive, lacking a wide enough audience to make it worthwhile, and potentially even damaging to a brand if low quality.

However, if live streaming isn’t treated as an equivalent to the live event, but as added value for audience engagement, many new, low cost avenues open up, particularly using platforms such as Facebook Live or Periscope which don’t require much tech set-up. This article from Cambridge Museums is great – they are able to engage with viewers about their exhibits, and expand their educational reach, on a simple platform for short periods, without taking away from the actual experience of someone visiting them. I think there’s a lot of potential in a number of different cultural sectors to provide this kind of product, and I hope that we’ll see this in the next few years.

Blaugust Day 7 – State (of the) Internet 

If privatised internet doesn’t work, what are the other options?

Last night I was reading this article about how Google was recently fined a massive amount  (though actually not a large amount for Google, a company with the GDP of several countries) by the EU for preferring it’s own shopping service over other companies in it’s search results. But unless Amazon decides to launch it’a own search engine – amazing that they haven’t done that already, what can anyone, even any multi-international trade bloc, actually do about it? Google pretty much owns the internet now, and regulations for one country or part of the world aren’t enforceable in another.

The problem is that the alternative – nationalised internet, would actually be a worse idea. There are various activist groups, lawsuits and organisations all over the world trying to stop Governments dictating how people access the Internet. Basically, it’s an incredible complex issue that no-one can solve. We want and need accountability, but there’s no perfect solution for for who Internet users would and should be accountable to. Even a United Nations of Internet type situation probably wouldn’t work, though it might be closer to ideal than what we have right now.

Blaugust Day Five: Email Marketing Course Notes Part Two

These notes are a follow up on this post, in which I’m putting together notes what what I’ve learned from my latest Highbrow course, in this time is about effective e-marketing (I do a lot of email marketing in my job.) Once again I’m binge reading the emails from Highbrow rather than going through them day by day as the course intends you to, but that seems to working for me at the moment. 

Email Engagement

If you want people to take action – visit your page/buy your product, you need to be:

Clear and compelling—clear enough to understand and compelling enough that people will act. That goes for both your email copy and your subject lines.

The course makes the point it’s important not to be misleading, especially in the subject line. A ‘click bait’ email title might lead to more clicks, but it won’t make customers trust you and your database might drop off pretty quickly.

Inside, the email needs to get to the point pretty quickly, because it’s wise to assume in this day and age, people have a lot of emails to go through and you’ve only got a couple of seconds to grab their attention before they click onto the next one.

Some Design Essentials

  • Make sure that it’s mobile friendly
  • Make sure it has options for forwarding and sharing via social media (most email services such as MailChimp have built in options for this)
  • Make sure font is easily readable and ideally at least 12 point
  • Also one that wasn’t mentioned in this course, but one I’ve always worked on in email marketing: make sure the plain text version of your email is readable and isn’t missing important info (remember graphic text/banners etc won’t show up). It’s likely that only a tiny portion of your teases are using plain text – the first e-newsletter I managed had a 1-2% plain text readership, but in a large database that could be quite a lot of people. Fixing up your plain text version only takes a few minutes, after all, once it’s part of your regular email-building plan and routine.