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…

Will your business survive the hardening economy?

Do you innovate or sit and wait? Work smarter, not harder, with Octane

In the current economic climate, it’s essential your business cuts costs, raises productivity and efficiency while still providing an excellent service.

As a business, Octane has been around since 1999, providing web design, development and consultation nationwide. I can help your business succeed at a time when your competitors might struggle.

Did you think the web was just websites? It’s now also about sharing data & information instantly with colleagues and clients anywhere in the world.

And because I, as Octane, have clients in the manufacturing, engineering and healthcare industries, offering their products & services globally, I’m confident that I can help your business meet your present and future needs — personally.

  1. Cut costs and raise productivity by being more efficient.
  2. I’m a designer, a consultant and a programmer — 3 people for the price of 1.
  3. Fully managed web hosting, email and support.

A sample of your FREE website critique

  • In addition to the list of completed projects, why not add Case Studies and Testimonials?
  • Add in CTAs (Calls to Action), to prompt visitors to call you, or complete your response form.
  • By improving the way your website is built, you’ll improve the chances of being found on Google.

To arrange your free consultation call Wayne on: 0870 755 0004, or send me a message right away…

Professionalism in business and ‘blogging

Professionalism is more than just being good at something. Life being broadly analogous to a contest, professionalism is about how you present yourself before, during and after the game. So what does being a Pro mean?

If you’re new to business, look at the following as a rough guide to doing business with people. A people primer, if you like.

As a businessman, I have to play the politics game as well as my own game. Why? Because the other businesses I do business with have their own take on things and how those things need to be done.

So diplomacy plays a big part, in the sense that business people must pay some respect to each other and our own, sometimes idiosyncratic, way of doing things.

Sometimes, there will be a clash of personalities and it’s during those moments that you have be a diplomat first and foremost. But at the same time, you need to distinguish yourself by maintaining some degree of composure.

If it’s a conflict and it transpires that you’re wrong, then bow out gracefully and ensure you can articulate the reasons why you thought your were right.

Be sure sure you’re not closing any doors, or burning any bridges.

Don’t be an advertorialinsultomercialist by insulting your competitors to give yourself an edge.

Sports stars are a great example of how we often get the whole professionalism thing used interchangeably with talent. Or use the word professionalism so often that it’s almost throw-away, disposable.

A huge salary is not a sign of professionalism. Nor is a insulting the competition, getting blind drunk in public, beating up your girlfriend, illicit affairs, gambling addictions, abusive behaviour or questionable TV appearances.

Professionalism is about being dignified and composed in the face of adversity. Being aware of your influence and using that influence in a responsible and measured way.

In ‘blogging, upholding these qualities can be a challenge, which I know only too well myself. As an example, dealing with bad comments can sometimes mean making uncomfortable, difficult choices.

Showing restraint when writing is another challenge. As a rule, if you’re in the mood to write a rant, do so, but leave it until the next day at least, or when you’ve calmed down. Then, re-read and edit accordingly. You’ll be surprised by how differently things look!

Of course, business people and sports stars are driven, motivated individuals. They often share common, key character attributes, such as aggression, towering egos, extreme natural talent, an intuitive awareness, huge self belief and a hunger for success.

However, what separates the professionals from the also-rans is how those qualities are harnessed, focused, channeled and then applied to their life. And I say life because professionalism is a life-long thing, not something you can switch on & off with all the convenience of a light bulb.

So I thought I’d put the question to the people of my Social Network and ask them for their definition of what they think professionalism is:

  • Ash Laws via Pownce — “Conducting any dealings or interactions with other people ethically.”
  • Richard Alan Cowling via Twitter — “It’s simply an attitude. Nothing more … but the attitude … results in behaviour which is.”
  • Alex Hardy on Twitter — “Working to certain standards of quality and how you conduct yourself with other professionals / customers.”

Also, here’s some things that don’t automatically make you a Pro:

  • wearing a smart or an expensive suite;
  • just saying that you’re a Pro, or an expert, guru et cetera;
  • going to the same venues / events / gigs as the Pros;
  • having Pros as “friends” on some social network;

No, professionalism is everything you do done well and noticed by enough of the right people often enough that they consider you to be a professional.

Even if you act like a Pro, to be considered a Pro is for others to say, not you…

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…