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    Online stuff

    Social Circle #6 at 1000 Trades

    Screenshot 2019-04-29 at 22.16.03

    After enjoying last month’s Social Circle, I returned to 1000 Trades for another evening of learning more about the world of digital marketing.

    The evening started with the usual introductions and look towards what’s new in the world of digital marketing.  There was a look at the Twitter Prototype Programme, a ‘beta’ way to test the new platform which is aimed to fix twitter.  It is being touted as an easier to use system, which uses shapes and colour to denote replies and follow responses.  LinkedIn are looking at testing reactions (think like the ones on Facebook), which is being aimed to encourage engagement.  There’s also the opportunity to place powerpoint presentations in LinkedIn, so people are no longer having to link to external sites.  Facebook Messenger is possibly looking to link together all messages from platforms owned by the company, such as Facebook and Instagram.

    Facebook has also bought GrokStyle, an artificial intelligence shopping startup.  Questions were posed about what this might mean for Instagram, especially as it allows people to search for products and see them in context.  Instagram is also testing new stickers, like donate buttons and quizzes with multiple choice.  Instagram’s IGTV is appearing more about more in people’s feeds, and Instagram is heavily investing in it so it’s more fo a seamless experience.  But people hate that you have to watch the whole thing, so Instagram are also looking at the YouTube style pull to the base screen.

    A bit late to the game up LinkedIn are looking at live video.  It’s a bit late to the game, but they’re seeing more popularity and engagement in it.  YouTube are testing split screen on web / desktop, like you can in the mobile.

    Instagram sent a press release to say that they’re looking at safeguarding and will be removing some stuff, even things like healed scars from self-harming.  There were questions on whether this is a sense that we need to have some responsibility on what we consume, but also how effective this policy will be.


    Pinterest with Rebecca Meekings

    The main talk of the evening was from Rebecca Meekings, Paid Social Manager for iProspect, a digital performance marketing agency.  Rebecca’s talk looked at Pinterest, a platform she believes that it’s often a bit forgotten about in social media circles, especially in marketing.

    Rebecca’s focused on five areas: leverage the mindset, focus on brand discovery, benefit from search places, less crowded advertising space and paid pins live on organically.

    Rebecca told the audience that people using Pinterest are actively looking for things, and rarely just killing time in the way they might mindlessly scroll through another platform.  Over 90% of users were said to plan purchases with Pinterest, and 47% more likely to find new brands using the platform than others, and take an average of 3 – 6 month to prospect.  Typically people search for something without including a brand and there is basic retargeting.  Marketeers can use Pinterest to make sure their adverts really target the right users but adding a number of keywords to ensure they’re relevant, and with it being a less crowded space there is often better value found spending advertising budget on Pinterest over more heavily saturated platforms.  Another benefit was that once a paid pin is no longer in its advertising space, it will still live on organically and earn engagements after the campaign has ended, unlike other social media sites.

    The Golden Circle

    Having run out of time last month, the Golden Circle took place to judge the favourite marketing campaigns from last year.  Five campaigns were put forward: Three, Burger King, Spotify, Nike and Iceland.  All five were championed by one of the Social Circle team and it was put to public vote in the room by which was considered to be the best of the group.  In the end Three was considered the winner, with special shout outs to Royal Navy’s snowflake and Mastercard’s ‘goals for meals’ campaigns as being particular bloopers.

    The next Social Circle Birmingham will be on Thursday 28 March, at 1000 Trades in the JQ. Tickets are not yet available, but check to find out more.

    Online stuff

    Brighton SEO on tour at Purecraft Bar

    brighton seo (1)

    If you’re interested in digital marketing you’ll know how well regarded the Brighton SEO conferences are.  A search marketing conference, which takes place twice a year, and series of training courses, the Brighton SEO team decided to take the show on the road. They visited Birmingham with a trio of talks looking at search engine optimisation.

    Lionel Kappelhoff from Oncrawl was the first speaker of the evening. As well as sponsoring the event – and welcome drinks, he talked about Oncrawl, an SEO crawler that helps people understand how Google drawls their sites and improve SEO performance.  The service allows people to see in real time what Google is doing and understand the impact of SEO optimisations.  The system allows people to understand that SEO is a science, not an art, and can see how long between when people hit publish on a page and when bots crawl your website.

    Local lad Luke Carthy warned us about his dinner before launching into one of the funniest presentations I’ve heard in a while.  Luke works in e-commerce SEO, and talked about what happened when he removed several hundred search URLs from the company’s website.  In short they saw a year on year growth, and Luke talked about why this might be, why sites like Argos, which rely too heavily on search might be problematic and why category URLs are more important than search.  He warned the audience that if you search for a website on any popular search engine, the search page results shouldn’t be one of the top results.  Luke talked about ways to possibly recreate some of the successes he’s seen by de-indexing search URLs which don’t have any traffic and discouraging colleagues from linking to search results, instead they should be linking to the category pages.  He also reminded people to keep tabs on your organic traffic and monitor your KPIs to ensure that the activities you’re doing benefit what the organisation require.

    Last but not least was Kirsty Hulse.  Kirsty is a freelance SEO specialist and talked about some of the challenges she’s faced whilst in the role for nearly 10 years.  With plenty of examples, Kirsty’s talk was probably the most accessible.  She started with a frustration shared by SEO specialists and public relations consultants alike – when newspapers strip out links to brands from their news stories.  Kirsty also contacted a group of people to ask what they think the role of SEO is about, and the perception from those working in the industry and those who employ SEO people was quite different.  For a lot of people, SEO is still about ratings and link building.  Kirsty also talked about the crossover between SEO and traditional PR in terms of what often builds links, such as piggybacking relevant news and gift guides for upcoming events sent months in advance. More broadly, talking to journalists about what they’re working on, building real connections and focusing on creativity and not tired formats were other ideas Kirsty suggested would have real benefits.  She’s written up a lot of her talk into a blog post, which can be found on LinkedIn.

    Attendees were invited to stick around afterwards and continue the conversations, but it was a Monday night and my brain (and notebook) were full.

    Birmingham, Online stuff

    Social Circle #5 at 1000 Trades

    social circle 5

    What’s in store for social media in 2019? After all the negative press, will Facebook lose its grip as one of the biggest social media platforms? Is Snapchat still relevant?  These were just a few questions posed as part of Social Circle’s first meeting for 2019.

    Having never been to a Social Circle meeting before, I was curious to discover more, and maybe learn about the latest advancements in social media marketing.

    Social Circle began as monthly drinks between friends Kirstie Smith Katie Underwood, Katie Mellers-Hill and Natelle Williams. The group would meet to catch up on the latest in social media marketing, learn a little more, swap stories and better themselves.  They decided to open the circle up wider than the friendship group, and now Social Circle takes place in the upstairs room of 1000 Trades, in Birmingham’s Jewellery Quarter.

    The evening began with introductions and then each of the team took on looking at some of the world’s biggest social media platforms, and what might be in store for the upcoming year.  It was clear the team are really interested and really knowledgable about the various platforms, and created a welcoming atmosphere that saw some really interesting contributions from the audience.

    Here are a few of the notes I made…

    Predictions for social media in 2019


    • They will leverage second screen viewing – examples already within PGA (golf) and NBA (basketball) in the UK – NBA allow you to follow one player in the second half
    • Twitter is grouping conversations, will we see more of this?
    • Twitter events dashboard – consumer facing to allow people to follow an event
    • Focusing on user experience, similar to Facebook groups, with conversation starters


    • Demographic is getting older – 25% of users are 25 – 34 years old, but only 7% are 13 – 17 years old
    • Did Facebook struggle in 2018? People feel the algorithm made it difficult to get organic reach, but then the adverts are reaching less people too
      • Facebook’s ability to target certain demographics is great, but it’s not hitting as many people
    • Stories are set to stay
    • If you boost an advert it’ll fo into stories
    • Facebook is moving away from doing everything and instead releasing lots of apps – eg Facebook workplace
    • Facebook has about a quarter of the users of Instagram stories – it’s still a big amount of users, but comparatively not that many
    • Facebook chat bots are becoming more popular – only 30% of businesses use them, but 60% of millennials say they prefer to text them than call
      • does AI technology need to be better to be more successful
    • Voice interaction will become more of a focus with Alexa etc


    • 188 million daily users, with 71% under 34 years old
    • Layout change saw a massive drop in users, not helped my Kylie Jenner tweeting out her dislike for it, which saw another drop in users
    • Ideas implemented rapidly feature on Facebook and Instagram
    • Growing market outside of US and Europe
    • Is it sustainable? Losing money and users
    • Could it be saved by going back to the old layout


    • Their Top Voices list of people who create great content is worth a look
    • Locations haring for messages between connections is useful
    • Can create job alerts for any companies you’d really like to work for. This will then tell the company you’re interested in working for them
    • LinkedIn stories being tested with US college students


    • Rumours of stand-alone shopping app – Instagram Shopping
    • Do people want another app? Instagram for the pictures and stories, shopping app for more of the shopping – people want separation?
    • Bringing in parent / child for brands – ie one large brand with multiple locations
    • Fake authenticity – Lil Miquela, a fictional character who will be 19 forever
      • Are people getting fed up of fake influencers and followers – Instagram doesn’t feel as connected, more quick fire
        • do people feel more connection to influencers on YouTube?
    • ‘Instagrammable’ locations are becoming a big thing in physical locations to encourage people to upload to Instagram
      • Like Tattu in Birmingham – everyone’s seen lots of photos of the location and people in it, but what’s the food like?
    • More gamification in Instagram?

    Guest speaker – Roshni Natali

    The second half of the evening was a talk by Roshni Natali, digital communications specialist and GirlDreamer’s academy facilitator.  Roshni talked about working in London before experiencing burn out that turned into a month of sleep and a gap year to have a clear out.  But more importantly, what she learnt from this, looking at why people have stopped dreaming and offering six steps to being a Daydream Believer

    1. Understand your daydream believer – what does success look like?
    2. Identify your goals – break them down, look at where you are and where you want to be…how do you get there?
    3. Write down your why – and remember it
    4. Find a buddy to keep you on track
    5. Create an action plan – but allow for flexibility
    6. Review – set targets and look at how you’ll measure success

    With less time because of the discussions around social media marketing predictions, the audience weren’t able to try and create their own action plan – but we were left with the steps to think about on the way home.

    The next Social Circle event will take place on Wednesday 27 February at 1000 Trades. Tickets are free but you need to register.  Find out more on their twitter page

    Birmingham, Online stuff

    Blogging panel at Book to the Future 2018 at University of Birmingham

    brumbloggersRounding off a week off, I headed over to the University of Birmingham for a couple of sessions as part of their Book to the Future festival.  The festival is an annual event with a range of workshops, panels, performances and author talks celebrating literary expressions.

    The final session of the Friday night was a panel discussion around blogging, Instagram, social media and influencers.  With a combined following of well over one million, the panel was made up of Alice Liveing, Hannah Witton and Emma Conway (aka Brummy Mummy Of 2), and hosted by Brum Blogger and influencer in her own right, Ting of The Ting Thing.

    Unsurprisingly it was full booked and I managed to bag a space at the front, before heading out to meet up with some other bloggers.  One of the things mentioned in the discussion was the importance of community, about fostering relationship with other bloggers and attending gatherings.  It’s one of the things I like most about blogging in Birmingham, that people are so supportive of each other and as well as being there to hear from Alice, Emma and Hannah, a lot of us were also there to support Ting.

    As Hannah Witton rightly pointed out, I was scribbling notes because I find I always listen better when I do and I wanted to share some of the insights for people who didn’t manage to bag a spot on the fully-booked talk.  There were a few similar themes which cropped, the importance of authenticity, of community and being a woman online.  Having been to many blogging talks before, it was refreshing to listen to what felt like more of a chat between four bloggers who had both similar and not so similar experiences. Alice, Emma, Hannah and Ting were sincere about their advice and experience, particularly that some of it is about putting in the hard work, but also not knocking being in the right place at the right time and not discounting the privilege and benefits that come from being conventionally attractive.

    I particularly enjoyed the conversations around authenticity. It’s a conversation I hear a lot and it has started to lose a little of its meaning.  But I liked that the panel talked about being yourself online, but not having to give away your whole self, whether that be things you just won’t talk about or reclaiming some of your time for other things – be it switching off at a certain time of an evening, or having things you do away from the online world.

    I said I’ve been to a lot of blogging talks, and I have, but this was one of my favourites for the flow of the conversation between the panelists, Ting’s great questions and the topics covered, many of which I had wished bigger bloggers would mention.  I wrote up my notes here, if anyone is interested in reading them – they’re just bulletpoints, but hopefully useful.

    Online stuff

    Blogmas 2016

    I’ve decided to do Blogmas this year!

    Well, kinda, I’m doing my version of Blogmas.  For those of you who don’t know, Blogmas is a thing where bloggers, or vloggers (aka vlogmas) try and blog/vlog every day in the run up to Christmas.  I’m not really sure why, but there’s loads of things like Blogtober and Blog Every Day in May and I think bloggers just like a challenge.

    But, knowing how long it takes to blog for me on my main blog, I figured I’d do a type of Blogmas, but make it more about gift giving…or rather comment giving.  You see, I always like it when people leave comments on my blog posts, and I’ve been finding that it happens less and less these days, although I know people are still reading.  So this time I’ve decided that for every day in the run up to Christmas, I’m going to post a comment on at least one blog post I read that day.  I guess it’s more like Blog-advent.  It’s simple, it takes a couple of minutes and hopefully it’ll make people smile, the way it does me, when they notice someone has posted.

    I’m expecting I’ll mainly post on fellow Brum Blogger posts, but that’s not a rule of my Blogmas challenge, any post I fancy counts but it has to be a blog…and unlike my advent calendar chocolate, I can’t save up the comments and blast a bunch in a day.

    To keep me accountable, I’ve made up a quick image (using a creative commons image from Dineshraj Goomany), and will be linking back to the posts below.  Now that I probably will do in batches!

    Day 01 – Jess from Jess & Josh Cook explain why she/they are doing blogmas

    Day 02 – Jamie explains how to make an amazing sounding Nutella hot chocolate

    Day 03 – Rebecca’s experience at the Festive Gift Fair 2016 at the NEC

    Day 04 – getting some inspiration for 29 ‘to-dos’ before you go on holiday

    Day 05 – checking out the five types of gin you might not know on Sally’s blog

    Day 06 – reading about Elizabeth’s wedding dress shopping, because pretty dresses

    Day 07embracing festive books and snacks because it mentions Nightmare Before Christmas

    Day 08 – a really honest post about how to keep going when it feels like life is against you

    Day 09Bullet Journal Christmas planning at Delightful Planner

    Day 10 – Poppybead Creative’s year in photography

    Day 11 – how Iman from And Then She Said organises her spices

    Day 12 – Reading about Becky’s experience at the Blog at the Beach event hosted by Ice Lolly


    Day 13 – Rosalilium’s November self-care favourites – an idea I adore!

    Day 14 – Tashpantz’s CLC World competition

    Day 15 –

    Day 16 – Charlotte’s vlogmas day 15

    Day 17 –

    Day 18 – Sam from Thoughts on Tombs’ Series that went downhill

    Day 19 – Kirsty’s five star books of 2016

    more soon…

    Online stuff

    Digital World Series event at The Studio

    Last month I attended the Digital World Series event, held as part of the Greater Birmingham Digital Academy series, in conjunction with Digital Birmingham (I know, how many times can I use ‘digital’ in one sentence).

    IMG_5856The event was loosely billed as a way for small/medium businesses to learn from leaders (and experts) to gain a greater understanding of digital technologies. The line up looked impressive, with speakers from internationally recognised digital leaders like Twitter, Facebook and Uber, as well as some local speakers like Simon Jenner, one of the founders of Urban Coffee Company and Justice Williams.  Having been involved in digital communications for a while now, it’s always interesting to hear how other organisations are making the best of the internet, and new emerging trends.

    The day kicked off with an introduction to the day from Raj Mack, head of Digital Birmingham, followed by Neil Morgan from Sage, the accountant software organisation.  He give a frank and interesting presentation about how through acquisition and general enthusiasm, the organisation had ended up with a fragmented approach to social media, and how they aligned the digital strategy to that of the business ones.  Neil spoke about the importance of getting buy-in from the CEO but also from staff to encourage them to share online, and also forming a community of people who follow and engage with your business.

    Next up was Fouzan Ali from Uber, who spoke about his journey on getting to work at Uber and how the organisation works between local teams with local decisions making and accountability, and centralised departments.

    IMG_5867 Video was something which became a bit of a theme, started by Sophie Rayers, director of marketing at Brightcove.  She spoke about the benefits of utilising video, how to make them more engaging, using user generated content and how businesses like clothing companies and financial services are using video differently.  Video was something Paul McCrudden from Twitter also spoke about, talking about the company’s live streaming Periscope app and how its authenticity means it doesn’t need to be glossy, keeping costs down, which is particularly useful for smaller businesses.  He also spoke about linking into social media influencers;

    “Most celebrities are household names; we are handheld names. People take their phones everywhere” – Simone Shepherd.

    One of my favourite talks was from Amy Hobson, partner at Social B.  Amy’s talk was realistic and practical and gave some really good insights for smaller organisations that might not be able to do it all.  She started off explaining how social media relates to and links back to traditional marketing, something which I think is often confusing for people not confident with digital communications.  Asking people what “success looks like for you” she was able to explain simple but effective ways to manage and collect useful information from social media interactions.

    IMG_5874 Simon Jenner, founder of Urban Coffee Company spoke about the evolution of coffee companies in Birmingham but how Urban had experimented with technology to drive forward their business.  He spoke about how they had been prepared to experiment with a number of ideas, some of which worked and some of which didn’t, but the importance of realising that some experiments might seem like a failure but that they might be a case of wrong timing.  He also spoke about how Urban would like to use data to help drive forward the business and whilst a number of the other organisation are large national or international businesses, it was good to hear how smaller businesses could utilise digital communication innovations.  Another local speaker, Justice Williams, also spoke about the importance of authenticity, looking at how a number of women are leveraging digital to create successful businesses that give them the freedom to work for themselves whilst utilising their content and retaining their authenticity.

    IMG_5878Big data is something that seems to be everywhere and another stand out talk of the day was from Ian West, VP Analytics & Information at Cognizant, an international consultancy.  He spoke about the vast amount of data being produced, and the importance of collecting the right sort of data and analysing it to improve the customer experience.  Ian’s talk was funny but informative and gave some important insights into people’s fears of data, but how lots of well known businesses are using it to their advantage.

    The final talk belonged to Greg Russell of Facebook, who nicely managed to knit together a lot of the threads from the other speakers, talking about the increase in photos and video being shared and how competitive everything is, so the importance of personal relevance – and having a mobile strategy.

    And with that the day was done.  There was time for networking afterwards, but my brain was full of the day’s insights and I wanted some time to digest them.  I’d come away fascinated by what some organisations were doing and how well the speakers had done at translating how that could be applicable to other organisations to positively increase their digital footprint.

    Interestingly it wasn’t always the big ‘star’ names that were the most inspiring; the more hands-on approaches from Amy at Social B, Simon at Urban Coffee Company and Ian at Cognizant provided practical applications which could easily be implemented, even in smaller teams.  That said, Greg from Facebook and Paul from Twitter presented a really positive outlook to the digital landscape and how businesses, both big and small, could utilise some of these exciting new developments.

    Themes which are mentioned a lot in digital communications…big data, the importance of authenticity and the increasing popularity of video were all touched on and explored.  With a good mix of big names with large internationally recognised brands and smaller more local organisations, on the whole the speakers did a good job of breaking down the big ideas and wins for their organisations into ways that might work, or inspire, some of the smaller businesses in the room to develop their approaches. I’d been a bit wary, given the price of the ticket, but felt that I’d gained some valuable insights into some really exciting businesses and some practical ideas on digital communications.

    The Digital World Series are organising a second event, being held in Birmingham on 27th October and tickets are available at their website;

    Lifestyle, Online stuff

    West Midlands Blogger Meet


    A few weeks ago I went to a West Midlands Bloggers Meet, organised by Adele and Kirsty of Pretty Lovely Bloggers, held at the Rainbow in Digbeth.

    Over the years I’ve been to a few bloggers meet ups and it’s always interesting to see the variations in them – some are like workshops, others are just a catch up and some are blogging conferences.  Having been focusing on Full to the Brum, and food blogging developing a bit of a scene in Birmingham, most of the other bloggers I’ve met recently have been either food, or food and lifestyle bloggers.  There’s nothing wrong with that, but what surprised me about this was I knew very few of the bloggers in attendance – which made me a little nervous, but I chatted to some lovely people.

    The afternoon started off with us all generally mingling about, photographing and chatting to some of the reps from various products – I spoke to Sarah from Earlybird, which is a subscription box a little like Graze but combines music, food and art under the motto ‘Eat well. Play more’.  There were also plenty of samples to try and after grabbing a drink, we all sat down to listen to Elizabeth from Rosalillium to tell us more about getting the best out of Pinterest and another blogger (who’s name I’ve forgotten – sorry!) who talked about how to interact with brands.

    During the session Adele and Kirsty were selling raffle tickets to raise money for Mind.  I rarely win anything at raffles but Mind is a great charity so I bought a couple of tickets – and only went and won a Degustabox box!  Actually two of my tickets got pulled out but one prize was enough for me…although there were some great prizes on offer.  After that it was time to pick up our ridiculously generous goodie bags and struggle off home (I caved and got a taxi).  Due to a general back-log of blogging stuff I haven’t sorted through all the goodie bag, but I’ll post about it when I do.

    They’re organising another blogger meet in Birmingham in November, which #PLBSantasGrotto and sounds like it’s going to be a lot of fun!