Online monitoring using Google Alerts

For monitoring what’s going on in your industry online and topics of interest, what people are taking about or saying about you and your business, this is such an easy and simple way to get this information regularly without any fuss.

A Google Alert generates search engine results, based on a search you request, and sends it to you by email.   This means you can keep up with what is new about a topic, company, industry and see what is being shared online about you and your business without having to go actively searching for it.    You can use this information to make sure you don’t miss anything being posted about you and/or your business, to create new content or comment on new developments in your field, or just share new or interesting information on your social media channels.

It’s VERY simple to do, just go to Google Alerts.  You can decide how often you want to be notified, what language, region and which type of results you get in ‘Sources’.   If you leave it to Automatic you’ll get a mixture though, if you prefer a particular format you can select to receive news, web, video, blogs etc.

It even gives you some Alert Suggestions and a preview of the kind of content you will be getting depending on your search terms, so you can change or improve what you are wanting to receive before you confirm the alert.  You can select how often you receive them too.  We suggest you set some up and alter then alter them to suit until you start receiving exactly what you’re looking for.

It’s such an eady and simple way of improving your online presence and knowledge.  Just try it out at Google Alerts, and if you really need full step-by-step instructions find them here at WikiHow.

 

To keep up with us at Dot Social, if you’re local to Croydon you could meet us at one of our events, or follow us on Twitter and Facebook.

 

 

Sharing your location on Twitter

If you add your location to your tweets using a mobile app, you attach your specific location to your tweets. When you tweet from twitter.com, you can choose to attach a more general location like a city name.  We find local cities and towns in the UK don’t come up though. The site just offers London normally if that’s where you are, or you can add / be in Scotland or Wales!  If you want to be more specific it’s best to be using an app or mobile.

Tweeting your location allows your followers to see where you are, gives you location-specific ‘trends’ and you’ll also get commercial tweets tailored to your location, which can mean more great local offers.

As described before in our blog on Local Marketing Tips, marketing and selling can often be linked with local connections, so sharing where you are, where you’re going or where you’ve been could be that last connection that gets you that business meeting, or a sale that you might not otherwise have got. It might even mean a new supplier or a special offer finding you too.

As with most social media sites and apps etc, you can amend your privacy in the settings, under ‘Security and Privacy’. Even if you opt-in for ‘tweet location’, you can still turn your location on or off before each tweet so it only shares where you are when you want it to.  You can also delete all the previously stored location information. You might want to do this is you’ve moved your office or moved house so you stop getting irrelevant information and ads.

Shared locations become really powerful for businesses when they’re used to search out people, connections and prospects via the Twitter Advanced Search facility, or on Hootsuite’s location search.  Following others who share their location could bring you more business and certainly get you leads.

So, we would advise having the facility on and deciding tweet by tweet if you want to share your current location.

 

If you’re local, you can come and meet our team at the ‘Tweetup’ on 8th October, from 7.15pm at Matthew’s Yard, Croydon. These are monthly social meet-ups. See our Events page!

What you can do with the iOS8 update by Apple

So, we’ve had a few days to play with Apple’s  iOS 8 up-date and here are our favourites and top tips to use regularly.

The double-click –  Use the double click on the home button from anywhere to see your favourite contacts now at the top.  You can also scroll through what apps you have open here too. To set up your Favourites or change the order so your top three or four appear first, go to Phone, then Favourites and edit them by dragging them up or down using your finger to the right of the screen.

Quick Reply –  For me this is an ‘at last!’ update.  You can now pull down the message and type a reply without having to load the messages app.  When you’ve replied you are straight back to whatever you were doing.

Taking photos – There’s a new timer and time-lapse mode.  Don’t forget our previous blog on using Pano mode too.

Edit photo  Now you can improve your photos right on your phone.  Change any skew by rotating in degrees and adjust brightness, contract and exposure etc.  It’s like having a little version of Photoshop on your phone.

Sending photos – It’s now really easy to send a recent photo you’ve taken without leaving the message screen.  Click the attach photo button, scroll along your recent photos to send, or tap to open your full photo library.

Predictive text –  QuickType’s suggestions of words or phrases can even now follow your usual written style, even down to the difference in the way you might type more casually in text messages and more formally in an email. The more you use it, the more it learns how you type and how to spell special words you use, names and phrases.  Personally, I’m loving this so do give it a good go but if you really don’t like it you can hide this QuickType bar by touching anywhere on the bar and sliding it down. You’ll see a line that you can swipe upwards when you want it back.  Apple say you can tap and hold the globe button on the keyboard to enable predictive input in any app. It doesn’t seem to be available in all my apps yet.

Quick voice and video clips in messages –  Now this is Inspector Gadget kind of stuff! In a message, hold the microphone or camera icon to record a quick voice message or video to send.  You can play them back and/or delete and re-record them before you send.  These messages will self-destruct after being played, unless the recipient saves them, in order to save storage space. I’m finding this a great addition. It’s ideal when you have something more complicated than a text to send, or want to show someone something but you know they might not be able to listen or answer their phone right when you are ready to send it.

‘Hey Siri‘ – When you’re phone is plugged into a power source you can just say ‘Hey Siri’ and talk to your phone. This is great if you are busy typing a blog and want to get planing a route to a meeting at the same time, or if you are in the car and want to look something up, or get directions whilst driving.  I still find it difficult sometimes to instruct Siri, but it’s learning and improving.

“What song is playing?” Siri is now Shazam so you can ask Siri what music is playing and Siri should be able to tell you.

‘Details’ in Messages.  From any conversation, top right you’ll see ‘Details’. Here you can see all attachments you’ve shared with someone by scrolling down, and share your location. This is very helpful if someone is trying to find you to meet up. You can permanently, or for a limited time, allow them to see your location.  This, for me, replaces the Friend Finder app I use with my husband so I know if he’s left work or how far from home he is etc without having to contact him.  I can even have the kids run to the window to see him walking home from the train station and excitedly open the front door to him!

From Details in Messages, the Do Not Disturb allows you to mute a text conversation if you don’t want to get involved right then and there and read them later.  This is useful if you’re in a group conversation that’s going on a bit and you’re busy!

There’s loads more.  Apple themselves feature, on their ‘Whats New‘ page, improvements to Photos, Messages, their smartest keyboard ever, family sharing, iCloud Drive, Health, connecting your apple devices, and new Spotlight features to find out stuff!

What have you found most useful about the changes or are eager to try?

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

New changes to Facebook rules – HURRAY!

Facebook like, dislike image

Facebook like, dislike image

As a user, I was extremely pleased to read about the new Facebook Platform Policy (7 Aug, fully effective on 5 Nov 2014) stopping Pages apps requiring you to like a Page in order to enter competitions etc.  Like-gating, as it’s known, is now prohibited by policy.

What is it?

It’s when competitions and promotions require you enter by following their request of liking their Page.

However, there are many Pages not following the rules that already apply to promotions and offers.  This could be due to lack of knowledge and understanding, blatantly ignoring them or attempting to get hundreds of likes.  The latter doesn’t particularly help your marketing because if the person doesn’t really ‘like’ your Page, they with either unlike it or remain dormant, limiting the reach of your posts.  Remember it’s about quality not quantity.  You want an engaged audience, not huge figures of uninterested people on your Page.  After 5 November even if an existing app requests a Page like, it will be disabled by Facebook (in effect) and not count whether the entrant has or hasn’t liked the Page!  For a new app, we believe this is in effect already (from 7 Aug 2014) and some have 90 days to comply.

There have always been strict rules around competitions on Facebook.  To summaries these:

  • you must show all the terms, rules and eligibility to enter etc
  • must include an acknowledgement that it is not associated with Facebook
  • not request use of personal timelines (e.g. ‘Share on your Timeline to enter’ is not allowed)

See the rules in full in the Facebook Pages Terms.

Hands up if you are surprised by these rules?  There are plenty who don’t abide by them!

Another interesting rule that you may not have heard of is that third-party advertisements on Pages are prohibited, without Facebook’s prior permission.

The new rules that sparked this post applies to apps.  ‘You must not incentivise people to use social plugins or to like a Page.   This includes offering rewards, or gating apps or app content based on whether or not a person has liked a Page.   It remains acceptable to incentivise people to login to your app, checkin at a place or enter a promotion on your app’s Page.’   Read this and about the changes to Games apps here under Changes to Platform Policy .

So, in theory, we should see a lot less of the ‘Like our Page to enter’ competitions in our personal timelines.

As a Page owner if you have created a campaign or social strategy based on incentivising page likes through apps you may find have work to do!  But, in the long run, you will find other actions, probably more effective ones, to ask your audience to do, to replace that one.

The controversy over this is move by Facebook is really interesting. See the comments under the Facebook Blog, and Socially Staked.

When you consider how many Pages each individual has liked, narrowing down who sees what has got to mean users only really do click to like, in the future, those pages that you are really interested in, not just because they want to enter a competition.

We think this is a good move. What do you think?

 

 

Croydon Tech City, Just Croydon and our Tweetup

IMG_6825 IMG_6777

On Thursday, Wendy attended the Croydon Tech City season finale meeting at Matthews Yard, Croydon.  This is a movement founded by Jonny Rose, now joined by Sarah Luxford and Nigel Dias, promoting the growth of tech companies and start-ups to come and work in and/or from Croydon.

There are great, free, monthly meetings (though there’s not one in August, hence it being the season finale this month!) with presentations from players large and small involved in tech, tech start-ups or with views or influence over them.  Since the inception, 16 months ago, there’s been a Croydon Tech City Summit and social gatherings, the Code Club movement is expanding, giving the opportunity for kids from primary school-age learning to code and lots of networking and partnership discussions.

There’s always a really positive vibe, interesting people to meet from the large group of technically-minded people to other marketing companies, ideas people, to the odd financier.

We also discovered from one of the presentations on Thursday that the Just Croydon website had launched just 2 days before, a new social site for Croydon, and that their launch night is the same as our next Tweetup.   So, we would really encourage anyone and everyone interested in getting connected and improving Croydon in person, or online, to come down to Matthews Yard on 13th August.   The Just Croydon Launch is from 6.30pm for 7pm start in the studio with talks from Jonny Rose, Councillor Tony Newman and the Mayor of Croydon, Manju Shahul-Hameed.  

The Tweetup is just a social event, free and everyone is welcome to come along.   It starts from 7.30pm, or join up with us after the Just Croydon event, on 13 August.  See full details of the August Tweetup.  

Stephanie Darkes and Wendy Ager from Dot-Social will be there and we’re normally at the bar or outside.

 

 

 

10 easy ideas to post on your Social Media

A lot of people we meet who aren’t yet using Social Media or haven’t fully integrated it into their marketing plans ask us what they should post on their Social Media channels.

There are literally hundreds of things you can post about but for some simple outgoing post suggestions for your social media, see below.   We recommend the 80/20 rule i.e. 80% sharing useful information and content and engaging with your audience and just 20% directed to your business.

1.  Promotional offers for your products/services

2. How your product/services solve your customers’ problems or help them

3. Comparisions of yours to other similar products/services

4. Reviews of your products/services or testimonials/case studies

5. Best of, top sellers or customers’ favourites

6. Your USP

7.  What you’re working on right now

9.  Industry news

10. Share photos or video of your people doing their work or using your products

We’ll post some more suggestions in the future, but hopefully these will give you some inspiration if you’re struggling with what to talk about.  Don’t forget, we’re very social and happy to join you in conversation, especially on Twitter, so do follow us @DotSocialise and

Wendy Ager @WendyAnnAger

Stephanie Darkes @StephanieDarkes

Ania Wilk-Lawton @AniaWL

A Croydon Tweetup at Matthews Yard

It has been a very long time since Croydon had a Tweet up and being the sociable and organised people that we are, the Dot Social ladies took it upon ourselves to organise the first Croydon Tweet up of 2014 at Matthews Yard last week.

For us, Tweetups aren’t for business purposes they are strictly social, to meet the scene behind the screen!

While there are lots of business networking events, there are less purely social meet ups; around Croydon we have Croydon Eats Out and Purley Breakfast Club as regular social events, and we’ve been to Croydon Tweetups in the past that have been purely social and informal occasions.  

That being said, there are a lot of people on Twitter interacting because they’ve got a business interest, so those connections and, “Hello, I’m X, what do you do?” introductions obviously lead to it being inevitable that some business networking occurs.  That’s great, and why not?!  But, for us, the main purpose of the Croydon Tweetups is just to meet and socialise with locals.  There’s no agenda, no timetable, no speakers and no pressure.  Just come and mingle and turn up and leave when it suits you.

This Wednesday was the first Croydon Tweetup this year and about 40 people came along.  There were a few presenters from Croydon Radio, which is based there, and a wide range of others.  There was a real buzz at the bar with everyone chatting and introducing those they knew and didn’t to each other.   There were only a few I hadn’t met before, and one guy who had definitely not found out about it on Twitter and isn’t on Twitter at all!

Thanks to the fabulous Matthews Yard for having us.  We love it there.  It’s such a great hub for business to personal, arts, music and community events and groups.

We intend to have these Croydon Tweetups regularly now, so keep an eye out for future dates on, or join, the official Croydon Tweetup page, see elsewhere online and follow us on Twitter.

If you missed this one, diary the next one which will be from 7pm on Weds, 9th April

 

  

Can Path replace Facebook?

Path – The place for your personal life

The first I heard of Path was watching The Gadget Show this week.  It’s described as an Ad-Free version of Facebook.  Why it’s been mentioned now as a possible rival in social networking terms to Facebook, when it’s been around for quite a while could be because they’ve only just launched it’s iOS7 App.  

Path is a Social Media network with the difference to others that it limits your friends to 150.  This is because physiologists say that that’s the maximum number of people you can maintain meaningful relationships with at any one time.   You can delete and add people as you change friends.

Your uploads/shares are called Moments and it’s more like a closed network as your Moments remain within those friends.  You can even have an inner circle of friends too.   It seems really slick and is intuitive to use on an iPhone, with new swiping features and moving between messages and the Home screen etc.

It has been doing pretty well gaining numbers from what what I’ve read but there’s scepticism on how it can be monetised.

Their CEO Dave Morin, according to this Business Insider article, has hinted in the past that somehow making money from data about users’ behaviour might be a way it makes money, rather than straightforward advertising,  and that they intend to remain independent.  Path Premium is £2.99 for 3 months or £10.49 for 12 and this gives you unlimited access to items from the their online shop (sticker packs and camera filters) and early access to new items.

For me, it’s like anything new…. I’d love to try it out properly but need more friends to be on it to see if it’s really going to replace something else.  It will have to be pretty good to overtake something else you’ve invested time and effort in.  It’s been around for over 3 years now and this is the first I’ve heard of it and it’s got to make money to take off too, so lets see, eh?!

As it’s FREE do have a go with Path via Google Play or Apple’s App Store. 

What do you love best about Twitter, Facebook, Linke….

What do you love most about the platforms you use?  It’s great to find out how other people use Social Media.   Often it shows us a new perspective, an insight or even a great tip we can use.

Here’s what I love most about the platforms I use most:

Twitter is by far my favourite because it’s full of conversations, quirkiness, news and information. It’s not limited like some of the others in that it’s reach is far and wide because anyone can ReTweet your message and one of their followers can ReTweet it again and so it goes on.   As much as it’s extensive, it can also be very localised, if you want it to be, by chatting with locals and using local searches.  You don’t have to be following someone or them you to be able to interact or share information with you, so the reach of your message is almost infinite. There’s always something interesting happening there too.    See more on this on my own blog How Twitter Changed My Life.

Facebook is where my friends are, well most of them, still.  It is where we catch-up, chat, share photos & organise things in groups from days outs to events and parties.  That’s what I do personally on Facebook.   In some business groups and on Pages I share relevant and useful content and find some very useful information, mostly from pages I’ve liked and am interested in.

LinkedIn really is for business and where I mostly find out most about my networking contacts, their background, their business, expertise and experience, if they’ve completed it! I also use the search facilities on there quite a bit and post in local groups, contact people through their message system who I haven’t got or stored their contact details.  You can also get quite hooked on ‘Answers’, where you can pose or answer questions on specific topics.

For photos I love Flickr for displaying, grouping, sharing and more and I’m beginning to see the excitement of Pinterest now.  I never got into Instagram and don’t see the point of re-duplicating uploading my photos again and I really don’t want to click through to them from Twitter either!

YouTube searches are phenominal now, and I am often looking up How tos and more on there.  With AdBlocker on Chrome it’s even slicker to use now too.  I’ve also blogged about whether it’s a good or bad thing to block online advertising. It’s not often convenient for me to watch video, which is why I still read much more information than listen to or watch online myself.

Google Plus still feels like a new playing field to me, with most people I see posting being ones I recognise from one of the above platforms.  Circles and Communities, to me, are just a replica of groups on Facebook or LinkedIn.  I know some people who say they absolutely love G+ but, as a friend & Tweeter recently said, “What gap does it fill?”.

So, what do you do on/with the platforms you use?  

What’s your favourite and why?

10 tips on using Hashtags

 

The basics: A hashtag is a great way of grouping information together.   Just use # directly before a relevant work or phrase (with no spaces).  On Twitter it helps show up those words more easily in Twitter Search & you can also follow them on Facebook and Google+.  If you click on a hashtagged word in a message, it will show you all other messages with that hashtagged word.

For the basics, read this simple explanation by the Twitter Help Centre.

Our Tips:

1. Use a hashtag yourself where it makes sense, like current trends and topics.

2. Use the correct hashtag when joining a discussion or following a particular event/show/conference.

3.  Use hashtags to make recommendations like #GreatRead #NowPlaying 

4.  Use a hashtag to add context or irony to a message, like #fail and #justsaying or make one up to be quirky e.g. #funnythingsoverheardonatrain 

5.  On a Friday, use #followfriday or #ff to Tweet a message of support to people who you like to follow but PLEASE say why.  e.g. “#ff @DotSocialise team,  for great blogs on social media” – because it gives people the reason to follow them. 

6.  Set up your own hashtags, for events or for specific discussions create a Twitter Chat

7.  Try not to use more than 2 hashtags in one Tweet or it looks like spam and makes the Tweet difficult to read.

8.  It’s not imperative (hashtags aren’t case sensitive) but for ease of reading add capital letters e.g. #PurleyBreakfastClub (refer back to No 4!)

9. If there’s a trending topic relevant to your business/brand use the hashtag in your relevant Tweets to join in.

10. Read up on hashtag fails so you don’t get caught out.

 

For further reading for getting technical with Hashtags have a look on  Hashtags.org