Post from

Claire Sully

All posts by Claire Sully

What do you think everyone will be using (online) and talking about in 2011?

“What do you think will be big online in the New Year? Will Twitter be the new Facebook? Or will a new service emerge and capture our attention? What will the new hot gadget be? Will everyone replace their laptops with the newest smart phones and tablets, or will a different gadget enter the market? What do you think everyone will be using and talking about in 2011?”

I welcome the continuing shift in thinking and understanding of social media. In 2011, it will be not so much about the “social media stars” and gurus, who tell us how it all “works”, but more about what social media enables.

The focus on technology for technology’s sake is losing the battle and emerging, via the democratisation of technology  (and with the ability users have to leapfrog technological developments) is the means to produce community-based, demand-led ideas and uses of the technology that benefit people.

This was demonstrated brilliantly at the Connecting Bristol showcase event I attended this week at the Watershed.  We were given an update on the projects that Connecting Bristol had helped flourish.

Knowle Media West and Pervasive Media talked about what they do.  Connecting Bristol stayed firmly in the background, while we learnt about local community projects,  including accessible technology training that was really changing lives for the better, giving individuals a voice, opening up new possibilities for people, increasing confidence.  An example was given of how a group of OAPs saved their vital  lifeline – a bus route on their estate – because they simply had a voice and technology enabled them to be heard.

We saw work that the space and ethos at the Pervasive Media Studio had helped to produce, simply by enabling a cluster of creative technologists and giving them a space to grow their ideas, see Antivj for instance and read about the work of Dan Dixon.

The conversations and arguments about technology platforms will become less relevant, we won’t be hearing so much excitement around choosing a  technology platform (Bristol City Council), but more on how the online facilities enabled Bristol City Council to meet the challenge of doing more for less (money) for its people in supporting local communities with its services.

Knowing that the head of Bristol City Council spent 2 hours at the Connecting Bristol’s event, on the day she was going to hear news on her shrinking budget, tells you that Bristol City Council does get the point really.

One speaker mentioned that he asked a taxi driver on his way to the Watershed if they had heard of Connecting Bristol, the taxi driver hadn’t.  Not quite the correct question I believe, I’m sure if he had asked the taxi driver if he had heard of Knowle West Media Centre and/or Pervasive Media Studio, he may have heard something quite different.

My web marketing tantrum. By Genevieve, aged 2

My two-year-old is screaming and crying and refusing to get back in the car – and it’s all because of poor web marketing!

It’s usually me that gets frustrated when I see companies failing to get their web marketing strategy right – but today my daughter was the one venting her anger.

We’d just been to see a new day nursery. Like most potential new nursery clients, I’d checked them out on the web before going.

They have a great website – tons of useful information, informative pictures, links to a glowing Ofsted report, social media engagement and testimonials from happy mums and dads.

So I emailed them via their enquiry form, which asked me what I needed. The auto-responder pinged back with a message saying someone would get back to me within 24 hours – great! But 24 hours, plus several days, I still hadn’t heard back, so I rang.

“Oh, you’re the one who emailed,” they said (in a way that made me think I was literally “the one” person who had ever emailed them). They apologised for not getting back to me, explaining they didn’t check their e-mail very often and suggested I come in and take a look around with my daughter.

Now, had they read the email they would have seen I wanted to come because I need a place right now for my daughter.

When I arrived, it looked fantastic – Gen loved it too. But when I asked when Gen could start, I was told there were no places available until September.

The Web Marketing ABC

Cue tantrum. Not from me, though I felt like it, but from Gen who was not happy that we were leaving such a nice place as soon as we’d arrived. I wasn’t too happy I’d taken a morning out for no reason.

The thing is, if they’d read my email I could saved a journey – and a tantrum – and they might have got a client in September if I could find an interim solution. Instead, they had one unhappy mum and one very grumpy toddler.

This scenario is all too familiar – businesses making an investment in the web, then undoing all their good work by falling at the last hurdle.

Your website works on three levels – we’ve talked about it before – firstly you need to get the core functionality and usability of the site right, making sure it is fit for purpose. The next level is ensuring the site supports and promotes your key marketing messages.

The third level – and the one where most businesses who fail to make the most of the web fall down – is using your website as a marketing tool.

Like this nursery, you can have the best design in the world, a compelling marketing message and a carefully planned out strategy – but if you don’t check emails you will lose business.

Your website is a tool, it’s there to be used – by you, not just by clients. You need to understand what tasks the site is meant to be supporting, but you have to do some of those tasks yourself.

If the site is meant to bring in enquiries, make sure you answer those enquiries promptly. If it’s meant to raise your profile online, make sure you are active on the site and in the wider web community – it is you who will make the links and create the community of users, not the site on its own.

Tantrum over – think I’ll have a lie-down and a glass of warm milk.