New social media ebook pre-announcement

In lieu of the launch of my new ebook, entitled: “The Beginner’s Guide to Social Media — An introduction to social media from a business perspective”, I’d like to just explain a little about why I decided to write such a book in the first place.

I’ve been writing about social media from a business point of view quite some time. Back in June, I posted an article explaining in brief what social media is, which came out of some ideas I was playing around with at the time.

When I look around the business community, I see a lot of people talking about social media, but having little idea what it entails, or how social media can properly benefit their business.

There’s a lot to know about social media — certainly from a business point of view — which is hard to capture and commit to memory, just from catching conversations and the odd blog article here & there.

Writing a book about social media for business

With that as a backdrop, I decided to write, what was at the time, a simple presentation. After giving it some more thought, I realized a presentation just wasn’t enough to do the subject the kind of justice it deserved, or to give business people a real taste for / of social media. So I decided to flesh the presentation out into a full-blown book.

The book is broken down into 4 main parts, which are:

  1. What is social media?
  2. What does social media do?
  3. How can social media impact on your business?
  4. Optimizing for social media

To some extent, I’ve been fortunate enough to have written about many of the key themes and elements of the book on the Blah, Blah! Technology blog, such as Social Media & Social Networking and SMO (Social Media Optimization) & SMM (Social Media Marketing), over the last couple of years.

I’m really, really pleased with the book so far. And the feedback I’ve had from those who’ve been kind enough to proof read my book has been fantastic. Over the next month or so, I’ll be building a social media marketing campaign of my own around my ebook, to promote it as far and as wide as possible.

I’m still not sure whether I want to sell the book, or offer it for free. However, most people seem to think I should charge something, so that seems to be the direction I’m leaning towards for the time being.

Rather than give an exact launch date, I’m just going to keep working on the book until I’m 100% happy with it, and then take it from there. But writing a book is a very different proposition to then launching and publicizing it, which is something I’ve never done before. So it’s going to be a lot learning!

So stay tuned and watch out for my brand new social media book, coming soon…


6 five minute SEO guides for business websites

Optimizing your business website for the search engines might seem like a daunting task. Either you do it yourself, or you pay someone. Sometimes, doing SEO work yourself might end up costing you more than hiring a professional like me. So here’s a collection of 5 minute SEO guides for business websites.

The following are a collection of articles originally published on the Blah, Blah! Technology blog, taken from my instant SEO article:

5 minute SEO primer for beginners — “In SEO, it’s often the simple stuff that works the best. But time and again, people ask: “How do I get to the front page of Google?” — we start with the basics of Search Engine Optimization…”

SEO for URLs and externally linked files on websites & ‘blogs — “Google is a reader of websites who’s best kept happy with sensible structure and strong content. Google will read almost anything — or should I say almost any file…”

Search Engine Optimization: the art of ti… — “Titles maketh the article. Without a concise title, enriched with meaty keyword chunks, an article is just so many bytes of miscellaneous data. So I just thought I’d touch upon my thoughts on quick, easy SEO tips again, with an example. It’s the simplest principles of Search Engine Optimization that do the most good. But it’s the simple things that often get overlooked .. even by the big guys…”

2-4-1 keyword listing on Google SERP — “Ever curious as to the circuitous route some of the visitors to my ‘blog take en route, I’m often left in various states of mind…”

SEO tips for websites — “Here are my top Search Engine Optimization tips for giving your web pages a lift, making your website that little bit more friendly to the search engines and your visitors alike!”

What search engines really, really want from your website! — “The similarities between the web, the way the web functions and real life are much closer than you’d think.”

Feeling empowered? Hopefully, I’ve armed you with enough SEO know-how to at least give your business website a boost…


Don’t make ’em think?

Sometimes, thinking can be a bad thing. Don’t get me wrong, I like thinking, but there’s the right kind and the wrong kind when it comes to business — and especially web design.

Yesterday, I went to the cinema with my girlfriend. Afterwards, just before the drive home, I needed the little boys room. As we both went down the corridor to our respective rooms, I stopped next to the sign marked with a little blue guy. I paused, looked at the sign on the wall, but couldn’t figure out which door the sign related two, since there were two.

Why not just put the sign on the door like everyone else? For a split second, I felt indecisive, which really is not Wayne Smallman at all! Trust me on that one.

When websites work well

And then I was reminded of a book I bought a while back called “Don’t Make Me Think!” by Steve Krug, which is a common-sense approach to web usability. And a lot of the advice really is just that — common sense.

The overarching theme is to not make people think when they’re using your website. It’s a wise policy, too. There are a number of constants to designing a website which, as a web designer, it’s as well to stick to.

Examples abound, such as the use of images within a web page. More often than not, the default action of the visitor is to click on the image. Not meeting people’s expectations can leave them feeling frustrated and confused. It’s at that moment that their thoughts turn to your competitors website.

I’m also reminded of a quote from the excellent action crime thriller Ronin. In this particular scene, Sam (played by Robert De Niro) says something like: “If there’s any doubt, there is no doubt.” And he’s absolutely right.

Once there are doubts, those doubts dissolve what initial trust there might have been between your visitor and your website. After all, building trust is amazing hard with a website, especially for small businesses with a small brand.

Being taught the wrong kind of lessons in business

As is often the case, clients rarely have a full appreciation of the amount of time involved in what you do. When these expectations get too high, I invite a client to the office for the day to go through a set of changes and / or amends. At the end of the day, they’re usually a little tired and a good deal more educated about what I have to do when they want that blue widget to be red.

Similarly, I get to see more of their decision making process, which gives me the mental tools I need to ask the right questions and when to ask them.

All good, yes? Not always.

The great thing about clients is they often have a very clear idea of what they want. They don’t know what’s involved in making their ideas happen, nor do they care, unless it’s likely to cost a lot of money!

But if they’ve asked for similar in the past, and sat through an entire day with you while you do the work, this knowledge of how I do things can sometimes stymie the naked ideas behind their less naked ambitions.

And the moral of this story? Think before you make others think, or you might just be the last thing on their mind…


The power of saying “No” to clients and customers

Saying “No” to a business client or customer needn’t be the world-ending event you imagine it to be. In fact, you might find that it makes your business life that little more easier.

Conversely, saying “Yes!” to everything can be far more harmful than ever saying “No”. In the seedy underworld of dodgy sales tricks & tactics, saying an emphatic “Yes!” to every single thing a prospective or current client requests is just a way of securing work.

However, if your team doesn’t have the right skills to progress with the work that’s just been won, you’re all going to look bad. And the interesting thing about bad news in the business world is that it moves at close to light speed!

Saying “No” can have two powerful effects:

  1. You’re demonstrating your willingness to stand by something, be that an idea, a belief, or a methodology, which most people will respect you for.
  2. If you’re saying “No” with respect to a request to perform services you’re either not happy with, or not skilled enough to complete, you’re demonstrating your honesty, which everyone will respect you for.

Of course, you need to have a good, strong relationship with your clients, or my advice probably isn’t going to serve you too well. Also, being able to justify your reasons is critical. Failure to do that will pretty much ensure your objections are disregarded.

In the end, good business is all about being honest to yourself and your clients…


Does your business need a blog?

Maybe you’ve heard about blogging, but you’re unsure about how a blog might benefit your business. Octane can help demystify business blogging.

As a writer and a blogger for many years now, I have a wealth of experience that I’m more than happy to share with you.

As a part of your broader website strategy, a blog is a worthwhile adjunct to your business website, empowering you and your staff to publish without the intervention of a web developer like me! Which will help reduce costs over time.

A company blog is a commitment

A blog is a long-term investment and is unlikely to bring immediate benefits. So it’s best to plan with a strategy in mind, one that ties in with your other marketing activities. However, there are a number of benefits that will make all of that effort worthwhile, in the end.

One way to think about a blog is as a way for you to offer a shop window on your business, giving existing and potential customers a chance to see things they might not ordinarily be able to.

Ideas for your business blog

There are plenty of good ways to use your corporate blog, which include:

  • Share up-coming events and promotional activities.
  • Present ideas and share future plans with clients and stakeholders, to gather feedback.
  • Quickly highlight issues pertinent to your industry or field, or to specific clients.
  • Giving your staff a voice, so they can share their own thoughts and ideas.
  • Keeping customers up to date with your blog feed, which they can subscribe to.

These are just a few ideas for you to consider. I’m sure you’ll think of more!

What are the benefits of business blogging?

There are many ways a blog can benefit your company, such as:

  • Higher search engine rankings — generally speaking, a regular stream of new web pages or blog articles is considered appealing to the search engines, who will pay more attention to your website or blog — the more pages there are, the more there is to be found.
  • Gaining trust — by writing concise, informative and authoritative blog articles, over time, you build a sense of confidence and trust in those visiting your website, assuring them that your business is active.
  • A sense of community — you’re engaging with your customers in a conversational dialogue that is difficult to replicate by any other means, and by allowing people to comment on your articles, you’re encouraging those people to participate, giving them a reason to return.
  • Better communications — blogging is essentially a publishing platform, whereby you control the content and when those articles get published.
  • Cost effective — in terms of communications, blogging is very low cost but has the potential for a high ROI (Return On Investment).

What are the downsides to blogging?

Like most things in life, there are downsides and blogging is no different. Because blogging allows people to connect directly with you, there always exists the chance that a disgruntled former member of staff, or former client will leave an inflammatory comment.

  • If someone makes an offensive comment, do not allow yourself or anyone else in your company to be drawn into an argument. Be dignified, bite your tongue and remain calm. If need be, remove the offending comments, or close comments for that particular article.
  • It’s quite possible that a dispute may arise between two or more people commenting on an article of yours. Again, restraint is what’s required.
  • Sometimes, an inadvertent slip can cause a lot of harm. So if you allow members of staff to write their own articles, unless you have complete confidence in them, be sure to first check what they’ve written before allowing them to publish.
  • The more successful you become, the more likely it is you’ll get lots of junk comments on your blog. Depending on what type of blog software you use, you should have the ability to automatically remove these comments.
  • Plagiarism is common place. Fortunately, there are ways of dealing with this, which can typically involve anything from a polite warning email or reporting them to Google, to a very legal Cease & Desist order.

Whether you’re a small business like me, or a large enterprise, blogging can help your business on many, many levels.

If you’re interested in the idea of business blogging, then contact Octane right away and let’s see how I can help your business…