Powering your business with the new web

This document outlines what I felt were the core talks, and has been truncated from a report recently written for internal purposes so may not read as smoothly as the report did.

A quick note on the Conference for the Carsonified Crew – GREAT CONFERENCE GAVE ME SOME INSPRITAION FOR NEW IDEAS I HOPE TO IMPLEMENT and re-itrated that I am keeping with the times,  learnt some new bits but personally I would of like to more B2B angle.

So now onto what everyone else would like to known……the content of the day…..

Ryan Carson – MD of Carsonified www.carsonified.com

Speech: The new rules of business

Ryan’s speech was essentially the introduction to the days conference, he spoke about how the consumer / client has changed, and how they are now not interested in listening to the brand message anymore (although still relevant as the big players still heavily believe about brand message), they are far smarter than they used to be.
It’s important to note that brand is far more than an image it extends into the psychological and how people ‘feel’ about you as a company, people are looking for honest, accessible and open relationships (the good and the bad) which helps increase trust. They want us to listen to them and then respond quickly to feedback.

He provided a few examples of this in particular “Dell sucks. Dell lies” – Jeff Jarvis blogged about how disgusted he was with Dell’s customer service and this created such a media storm ended up on the news and all over the internet, he actually ended up on the phone with the CEO Michael Dell. Dell now use Ideastorm to ‘battle’ against the blogoshpere and use it for customer insight.

Ryan also mentioned some of the free and or incredibly cheap tools available online that can be easily integrated into websites and business:

www.uservoice.com – ask customers their options on what we should do within our business or make suggestions to an existing service, ideas can be placed and voted on and then users can gain feedback as to whether the idea that has been placed will be impelemented or considered.

Application: Both internal marketing and external marketing to gather ideas and suggestions from staff and customers.
www.getsatifaction.com – Q&A platform for customer feedback, this is a blogging / forum / help desk type interface, a simple place for people to publicly air the issues and the for them to be publicly resolved

Application: This could be applied to the prolink web / click / wizard home page so customer can ask a question online and get an almost immediate response providing the resource is there to do so, must be stated that this is for technical questions about using the system and not product enquires.
www.seesmic.com – (currently in beta so not readily available yet) this is a video interface where you can ask a question via a webcam or such like and get some immediate responses

Application I currently don’t feel this could be used externally, but may be good as a message from the CEO to staff for feedback etc.

Pros and Con’s of these types of Applications

It can leave you open to critism, but this can be countered this as it occurs, it provides you with more than just your “standard” web presence and can strengthen such things as  goggle ratings. The higher you rank, the higher up google results you will appear you can check you google rankings http://www.googlerankings.com/

It would create a fountain of customer and staff insight and open more channels of communication, and in turn increase your page ranking and allow you to cheaply record and monitor communications.

Tara Hunt (Citizen Agency)

Speech: Building a Community Around Your Brand

Tara spoke about Whuffie which is the ephemeral, reputation-based currency of Cory Doctorow’s sci-fi novel, Down and Out in the Magic Kingdom. In the context of online communities it is reputation currency or social capital. The more positive your whuffie, the better you are received by your customers and social networks. But there are some important rules to making Whuffie (I don’t like this phrase, sorry Tara), credibility matters, i.e. if you’re known to sponsoring or endorse an product or service your credibility drops.

5 components to raising your Whuffie:

•    Turn the bullhorn inwards, stop shouting at customers start listening and answering their questions and solving their problems (this applies internally too)
•    Become part of the community you serve
•    Create amazing customer experiences
•    Embrace the chaos
•    Find your higher purpose

In Tara’s words
Whuffie rich = better word of mouth, repeat sales, customer loyalty = better bottom line

How can social networking effectively benefit the bottom line, it’s the adage of “doing well by doing good” and many big brand companies have got it right.

What it would involve is a culture change within our business, we need to allow key staff to go into online communities allow them to have honest communications with people and help these communities, these key staff by association will be able to boost our groups brand appeal so I feel this can transfer into a B2B arena, but it’s important to find the right communities first.

Tweetscan, is a tool which is a scans to find out who is talking about any chosen subject, within the Twitter community (a micro blogging web app) – http://summize.com is also another similar scanner.

I strongly believe if you want to advance yourself within online communities you need to begin to invest time and effort into increasing the Whuffie. Another good place to look at trends is www.google.com/trends to see what consumers are searching and talking about.

To prove my point about this here is an example of how online communities and social networking has worked for me in the business environment:

Chatting online with a friend / colleague who put me onto a person he aspired to (it was actually a blog post about web 2.0 that had been posted) who was an employee of Carsonified, after my own personal research and gaining connections through the internet with this person and other members of Carsonfied I slowly learnt what they had to offer, which had value to me, this is probably in the space of three months, and I have now attended two of the Carsonified events and would say that I am probably an advocate of their company and brand now. So it works and I have first hand knowledge, I cannot stress how important it is to provide value, I would not of attended these events if I felt they had no value to me.

What if you cannot find a community to become part of? Simple  create one….

Alex Hunter

Virgin – Head of Online

This speech was about how they used the Internet, sponsorship and social media to gain much needed support to launch their new domestic airline.

They used a very simple tool on their home page; that you could place a name and zip code in the information would be entered into fields within an email and sent directly to several people (this was down to the government not allowing a foreign company to fly domestic, emails went to senators and such like). This could be applied to a simple referral scheme online.

They also made sure the URL (Uniform Resource Locator or Web Address) was on their planes, I’m not sure if we have it on our Office Team vans but I feel we should have it everywhere we possibly can including packaging on all our own branded products.

Keir Witaker – www.carsonified.com

Speech: Cheaponomics

He covered how to use web apps that are available either cheaply or free to help run your business. Prior to going through some of the available web apps Kier went through the pro’s and cons:

Pros:
Easily accessible
Free or cheap
No infrasturture
Low learning curve
openformats

Con’s:
Require internet connection
Less funtionaolity
Browser issues
Data safe
Service could go out of business (but unlikely)

Below are some examples of web apps that I feel have some use to  business, over and above what I have previously mentioned in Ryan Carsons talk.

http://mail.google.com
http://docs.google.com
www.google.com/calendar
www.rememberthemilk.com
www.backpackit.com/
www.basecamphq.com/
www.google.com/apps/
www.wufoo.com
http://www.slideshare.net

www.feedburner.com
wordpress.org
chyrp.net
www.textpad.com

www.vimeo.com
www.youtube.com
www.qik.com
www.ustream.com

www.libsyn.com
www.podcastfm.co.uk
www.facebook.com
www.myspace.com
www.twitter.com
www.linkedin.com

Paul Boag – www.headscape.co.uk

Speech: Websites that work

Your website is the always-on, public face of your company. It’s also the gateway through which you interact with customers. Paul explained why copywriting and design are critical, and give you practical hints and tips into how you can instantly improve your website

1.    Fixating on the fold
The old adage that users do not scroll, which is rubbish 76% of pages are scrolled (information from ClickTale). Within the fold you must keep it uncluttered and guide user around the site (particularly applies to the home page) key service points and calls to action should appear here.

2.    Overwhelmed with options
Essentially too much going on, on one page, providing the user with too much to do
www.orange.co.uk – bad
www.mac.com – great

3.    Brains generally process 7 things at one time
Prioritise your content, give your site 15 points and allocate each piece of content with points dependent on how important they are to you and your users. i.e. 1 point for your logo (not so important) 3 points for subscription, 5 points for a call to action and so on.
www.yahoo.com – not just about search
www.google.com – all about search

4.    Battle over your brand
Brand guidelines tend to be used for print only and the key word is “guideline”, logos and branding should be adapted for the internet.

5.    Copywriting
Get a good web copywriter, ensure they understand your brand fully. If you cannot afford a good copywriter, ensure there is no jargon (techy, marketing or otherwise) on your site, make it clear and easy to read.

Steve Pearce – www.headscape.co.uk

Speech: 10 things I’ve learn’t

Steve spoke about what he’d learnt over the last year, how this could be applied to business and how to get the best from your design and development agency. I have focused on some of the things I feel more important.
•    Prioritise your content and services, Paul also spoke about this in the form of a point’s scheme for your site.
•    When we are being pitched to; ask about structure and flow first, talk about the design after this, it’s the User v Brand Experience analogy.
•    Don’t look for good, fast, cheap be Amazing, Methodical and provide Value for money
•    Think re-align, not redesign – make simple observations and take an iterative approach to your website.

More info on the above and further reading (as if that was not enough)

http://www.slideshare.net/carsonified/slideshows
http://del.icio.us/brandjoe/Web_Apps
http://tinyurl.com/3olxmq