Friday, 24 October 2014

The Value of Earned Media to your Business Content Strategy

70% of consumers trust brand recommendations from friends, but only 10% trust advertising. - Forrester Research Report
Earned media - or 'Free media' - an interesting term that is now being referred to increasingly online and in the digital marketing world is essentially a form of publicity, that is free to a company or brand and is also outside of the control of the company. This is when content receives recognition, but is not bought nor owned. Examples of such media; product/service reviews, publications in traditional media outlets (newspapers, radio), traditional word-of-mouth conversations between consumers, and mentions or publications online e.g blog articles, public forums, social media platforms and online reviews.

Image Source: []

The Value

The value of Earned Media comes into it's own when specifically looking at influence and biased. Paid and Owned Media are entirely influenced directly by a brand or company. Earned Media is out of the direct control of a company and generally has a higher value to other consumers than the likes of other media types. As mentioned earlier, research has shown 70% of consumers trust recommendations from friends, as opposed to only 10% from traditional advertising. This is an substantial findings and certainly should not be ignored.

Other Types of Media?

There are of course other types of media also available, such as Paid and Owned media. Paid media, as suggested by it's name, is activity that is financied by a business for the gain of publicity through financial means. This could be sponsorships, display/banner advertising, search advertising and e-mail advertising. Owned media is literature that is owned within the business e.g. company press releases, product/service literature, company blogs and company websites.

Fans, Followers & Brand Ambassadors

It is often important to recognise and establish who are you key "brand ambassadors" for your business, from a consumer view. There are a number of key factors you could consider to find out if your fan or follower "hits the mark", but some key areas could be used for judgement:

  • How does this person speak publicly about your brand?
  • Does this person speak regularly to other users of your product or service?
  • How long has this person dealt with your brand, both online and offline?

Keep these key contacts on your side, and they shall continue to promote your brand much more effectively than any message communicated by other forms of company produced media.

With the customer journey between devices, channels, and media becoming increasingly complex, and new forms of technology only making it more so, the strategy of considering paid/owned/earned makes marketers impenetrable to the disruption caused by emerging technologies.

I would love to hear others views and experiences of Paid, Owned and Earned media. How does your company incorporate Earned media into it's digital marketing mix and how does it view the importance of Earned media to the business?

Saturday, 5 July 2014

Module 5: My Squared Learnings

Squared means a lot of things. A digital know how. A social management concept. A bringing together of ideas for success. An understanding of all things digital. 

Google Squared means something unique to every student on the course. We've learnt everything from being T-shaped, to the importance of Video creation, to best practices on Content curation. I've learnt and strengthend my understanding of all things digital, ranging from Blogger to Youtube to Google Analytics. I take away an understanding of the digital path a consumer takes, from initial interest in your brand through the research, collaboration and finally to the buying stage of a service or product. Squared has helped develop my understanding of the digital landscape, but has also had additional benefits outside of the subject of digital and marketing. Confidence to try something new, confidence to challenge an existing idea, can it be done faster, more efficiently, can it offer better value for money? 

Having the ability to understand and stay afresh with changes digital brings to consumers and businesses alike will help me engage, nurture and work on opportunities I may have never found myself considering before. Putting this into practice will certainly be a challenge in itself; but one I'm looking forward to. I have been privileged to work with and even meet some fantastic people on my Squared journey, a journey that has brought together people from all business levels, from many different areas within businesses. This 'group-mind' and collaborative effort has resulted in amazing work being produced. Something that I will definitely take away with me for the future.

Our final module focused on the use of Infographics, a terminology used to describe 'beautiful data'. Data that has been presented in a way that captures the mind of the reader, that has a shareable aspect to, something that brings value to the consumer. Our team produced an infographic on 'The Impact of Digital on Education'. Once we've received our grading, stay tuned for the infographic itself, something I'll post publicly shortly after results have been issued. 

If you're considering the Squared Journey, just do it. You'll meet people you never expected to connect with, share ideas with like-minded people and achieve something you never may have thought was possible. Do you have what it takes to be Squared?

Module 4: An Insightful Analytical View of Data

Tools available online allow business and brands to understand the demographic of their visits down to the N'th degree. What % of male/female interactions did we have? Which countries visited our site? How long did they stay on our welcome page, then where did they go? How many visitors converted to buying customers?

Google Analytics has for many years led the path in data analytics and remains at the forefront of such technology. With the insertion of a small piece of HTML code into any given website, suddenly a dashboard comes to life, with more facts, figures and statistics than you can shake a stick at. But data itself is of no use with an analytical approach to its review, to find the trends emerging from the data. You can see that 500 visitors visited on Friday night, this was much more than normal, but where did they come from? Even better, 20% of these visitors lead to a sale, much higher than your day to day conversion rates from organic search results. Only when delving into the statistics do you find a positive review has been written about your brand from a national newspaper, referring readers to your brand! Fantastic. Having the ability to understand where your traffic has come from then allows you do develop relationships with other influential users, snowballing the positive effect seen previously into a rolling digital methodical approach, resulting in better conversions and further referrals.

Data itself is great. But without looking at the insights the data can provide, it can often be overwhelming. Analyse carefully, spot the trends, spot what works and develop on those trends accordingly, to better your position and help you learn from what you have already achieved. If something works - great, copy it, test it, evolve it. Fail to analyse your data and failing to learn from it will leave you tailing behind those that do.

Module 3: The Digital Marketing Mix & The Rise of The Consumer

Before the world of digital, consumers shopped with their feet. Literally. Shopping meant a drive into the nearest town, a browse around retail units dotted down the high street, followed by the treck home to unpack and unload everything. Not anymore. Consumers have become tech-savvy, and the needs of consumers has changed also. They have needs, needs that change based on the what they have the ability to do, or what they want to do. How has digital affected the requirements of the typical user?

They want to shop when they want to shop. No longer do they have to wait until 9am and doors to unlock. They can login online at 3am from a hammock in hawaii and order themselves the latest trending trainers. They want to involved, take part, be seen to be recognised by a brand. Social Media has finally helped bridged the communnication divide between company and consumer, helping both parties to communicate easily in a way that is convinient to the consumer. They want the best price, the ability to search across the internet in seconds for that special purchase and instantly compare who is best suited for their next buy. Pay as you go services have seen a massive rise in line with digital, allowing low cost monthly movie, music or e-book rental services to flourish, allowing consumers to do what they want, when they want. The creative and social side of consumers means they may want to share what they have bought, what they have seen or what they have recently read. The needs of consumers can be seen in every aspect of digital interaction.

To stay abreast with these evolving requirements means companies have to look to reach out in new ways, to stand out in the digital landscape already scattered with numerous online retailers. They have to help the consumer stay up to date, make transacting easy and allow the consumer to do more than they've even been able to before. Communicating with consumers through multiple channels should now be considered, reaching out to them on multiple social network channels, perhaps even tied in to traditional print media. Consumers want value for money, they want service and they want to transact on their terms. If a business wants to continue to trade well, they must evolve to meet these demands and transact on platforms familiar to their users.

Module 2: The Mobile Revolution and Technological Disruption

50 years ago, the thought of being able to check the prices of an item in your hand, in the 5 nearest shops around you would be just a dream. The ability to check the status of your upcoming flight on route to the airport, without calling the airport to check. Strange. Being able to lay outside in the park, drinking a chilled beverage, whilst ordering your monthly groceries and having them delivered straight to your front door. Unreal.

Mobile technology has progressed in such a way, modern society has adapted and evolved and incorporated the convenience of mobile technology in every day life. For the consumer, technology via the everyday mobile smart phone has allowed people to manage business from around the world, check the status of your latest online purchase or even view a live stream of the CCTV at home. Consumers no longer need to rely on manual methods to undertake everyday tasks, they can simply refer to the mobile phone for the answer.

As a result of this convenience factor, the ease of accessing information, mobile technology has affected real life businesses in many ways, both positive and negative. For example, Royal Mail, the UK standard for sending 'snail-mail' has seen a substantial drop in the number of letters delivered. Why? E-newsletters, E-Statements, E-mails have all but taken over and reduced the need for businesses to use paper to communicate with customers, reducing costs and increasing speed of delivering a message. On the flip-side, postal and delivery companies have seen a substantial increase in business in regards to package deliveries. As a result of convenience and being able to purchase almost any item online and have it delivered, the number of packages requiring delivery has increased through the likes of e-commerce, again accessible via the mobile handset and using mobile technology.

Mobile has changed the digital and physical landscape. To remain competitive, companies have to evolve and cater for the every increasing demand for mobile content. The fact is, a business can take it in its stride, develop mobile content, mobile solutions and provide convenience for a user. Alternatively, they can stand still, ignore the digital revolution and very soon, find themselves being ignored by a majority audience as a result. What will you do?

Thursday, 10 April 2014

Google Chromecast Hits UK: Smart TV for the Masses [Review]

Google Chromecast: What is Chromecast? 

This week I am reviewing my Google Chromecast, my latest gadget addition to arrive this week. Finally released to the UK market, the 2.8 inch device is essentially an HDMI dongle that plugs into a free HDMI port on your TV or projector and can be powered by traditional power socket or alternatively via USB (which your TV may also have available).  It can then be used to stream content from different sources such as mobile or PC, directly to your TV whilst being controlled from your smartphone, tablet, PC or Mac.

Google Chromecast: Installation & Setup

Their has been much hype on Google's entry into the 'Smart-TV' market but Google has certainly made an impression with this little gadget. Straight out of the box, weighing a mere 34g, I felt the device is small and light enough to carry around with you, or to simply leave connected to your chosen display device. Chromecast comes without a dedicated remote, as it uses your existing computer, mobile or tablet as a remote. You are directed to an app in the app market of your chosen OS (Android/iOS) which once downloaded, guides you through the initial wifi setup. Once completed, the Chromecast updates itself to the latest release of software and it is ready to go.

Google Chromecast: Services

Google has worked hard with a number of service providers to support some of the most popular services in the industry. Netflix, RealPlayer, iPlayer, YouTube, Plex and Chrome are amongst some of the apps that work straight out of the box, simply load the app on your phone and 'Cast' it to your Chromecast. Within seconds, your video is seamlessly broadcast to your TV. Google Chrome for Desktop has also had some additional features added, allowing you to "Cast" an entire tab over to your TV for browsing on the big screen. 
Google Chromeast: Compatible Devices

Chromecast can be controlled with Android, iOS, Windows & Mac.

Google Chromecast: Quality

Measuring 72mm x 35mm x 12mm, this little device certainly packs features into a very tiny form factor. The Chromecast is a pleasure to pick up, touch and carry with you and the sturdy build quality can be seen in all areas of the design. 

Google Chromecast: UK Price and Where To Buy

Google launched the Chromecast HDMI dongle in the US way back in July 2013. After a long wait it is finally available in the UK for a price of just £30. At such a competitive price point, it is now possible to bring the future of streaming media to all devices around the home.

If you're keen to get your hands on one then the device is available to buy from the Google Play store and other retailers including Currys, PC World and Amazon.

Google Chromecast: My Verdict

Google has come to market with a fantastic bit of kit, providing many features offered by Smart-TV's, but at a very competitive price point. Whilst still in its early stages, it's platform is open to third party developers which will bring plenty of new and upcoming services to the platform. It's small size and portability means you aren't restricted to just using this at home and can easily be taken out and about with you, making it ultra portable. It's simplicity and popularity amongst users has made it one of the fastest selling gadgets of 2014 and at only £30 - it's a steal.

Amazon Prime: Why Prime Is Worth Every Penny

Amazon is a company that has built itself a very successful name throughout the internet, for supplying quality products, competitive prices and fantastic customer service. I challenge you to find somebody that has not heard of the company that continues to grow and continues to widen it's range of products and services all of the time.

I have always been an enthusiastic, yet cautious Amazon shopper for a couple of years... the convenience, wide range of products and product availability, plus the outstanding customer service Amazon prides itself on naturally led me to it's latest shiny offering - Amazon Prime.

Amazon Prime is a pioneering product for the company. In the UK, Amazon originally saw Prime as an offering allowing Amazon customers to "Get unlimited, FREE one-day delivery on millions of products" and this continues to be the case. With the vast amount of shopping I already undertook via Amazon and other sites, normally paying additional delivery charges and regularly waiting 3-5 working days for my shopping to arrive, for me Amazon Prime was an offer I couldn't refuse... or at least try! 
Amazon didn't disappoint me. I originally enrolled on a 30-day free trial, which Amazon are happy to let you use without restriction or any charges to try out the service (you can get your own free trial, here). From the moment I upgraded, I could already see the benefits. Forgot a last minute gift? No problem, Amazon can deliver tomorrow. Need something urgently for a project? No problem, Amazon will deliver tomorrow. Increasingly, I found myself turning to Amazon for more and more of my shopping. More often than not, the item prices were very competitive and in addition I would not have to pay any shipping charges AND I could receive my item tomorrow, with the addition of courier package tracking on most deliveries. 

Recently, Amazon has increased the offerings included within Prime. For an annual fee of £79 per year, you can now receive the following:
  • Enjoy all the benefits of Amazon Prime Instant Video.
  • Borrow books from a choice of over 500,000 titles from the Kindle Owners' Lending Library.
  • Get unlimited, FREE One-Day Delivery on millions of items.
Amazon Prime Instant Video piggybacks off Amazon's existing company Lovefilm. It's a Movie/TV on-demand streaming service, which includes unlimited instant streaming of over 15,000 movies and TV shows, which you can watch anywhere, anytime with unlimited access throughout the UK. Another bonus feature of Prime Instant Video allows a UK user to watch exclusive hit TV shows before they air on British TV. Bonus!


Amazon Prime has two pricing models. £5.99/month for Amazon Prime Instant Video only, or £79 annually which includes the one-day deliveries and 'borrow-a-book' from Kindle, which allows you to borrow a wide range of books from the Kindle store, for free. I'm not a Kindle user myself, so this didn't really have any benefit for me, however I decided to sit down and review my existing expenditure:

Before Prime:
  • I would purchase a minimum of 2 items a month from Amazon, at about £3.95 P&P per item. This equals £7.90/month on carriage charges (3-5 day deliveries).
  • I already have a LoveFilm subscription which I was paying £7.99/month.
  • Total paid per year = Minimum of £190.68 a year!
After Prime:
The total of these two above points alone meant I was spending a minimum of £190.68 a year! Crazy. Thankfully, with Amazon Prime, this has saved me at least £111 a year and I get an upgraded 'VIP' delivery service for the items I was going to buy anyway!

Is Amazon Prime Right For Me?
The usefulness of Amazon Prime is different for each and every person. I now regularly make 5-10 orders a month, now incorporating my free, fast-tracked delivery whilst watching the movies provided by Amazon Instant Video on the big screen! It's entirely down to your personal preference, however if you often find yourself paying over the odds on P&P charges, get frustrated with delivery times or find you struggle for choice, Amazon Prime is a good bet for you.

Amazon provide a free, 30-day trial of Amazon Prime (including Amazon Prime Instant Video). Try it out, give it a spin, see what you think. It would be great to hear your thoughts and I hope this article has been useful and informative to you!

Good Luck! 

Tuesday, 25 February 2014

My Digital Life | Adam Prettyjohns

The first module of Googles' Squared Online concludes with a one-page submission, outlining "My Digital Life". It is intended to demonstrate our daily browsing habits, how digital has come into our lives and is used in every part of our day, from being at work, to your mobile, even the digital that now streams into your television. Here is an insight into 'My Digital Life'.

Click Image To Enlarge
Consider, Facebook was born only 10 years ago, only in 2006 was it then made available to the world, not only residents of the USA. Digital and the surrounding technology has evolved and adapted unrecognisably in a very short period of time - whether you realise it or not, digital is here to stay.

What digital services do you use on a daily basis? What service could you not live without? Why do you love digital? Leave you comments and thoughts below!

Wednesday, 19 February 2014

5 Tips to Curate Creative Content: Identify, Inform, Inspire!

User-Generated Content within Social Media and the technological world is a topic currently being raved about alongside 'Visual Content'. User-generated content was a topic covered and discussed recently on my Squared Online course, so I thought I would expand on this subject and offer 5 of my own tips for successful content.

What is User Generated Content (UGC)?
All digital media technologies are included, such as question-answer databases, digital video, blogging, podcasting, forums, review-sites, social networking, social media, mobile phone photography and wikis. UGC can constitute only a portion of a website. For example, there are sites where the majority of content is prepared by administrators, but numerous user reviews of the products being sold are submitted by regular users of the site. (Source: Wikipedia)
User-generated content has been the latest to gain attention from the masses and for a very good reason. Here are some interesting statistics: 

In 60 seconds...
  • 2 million searches are made on Google
  • 204 million e-mails are sent
  • 278,000 tweets are made
  • 2.4 billion Facebook updates are made
  • 72 hours of YouTube video is uploaded.
All of the above activity happens every single minute. User-generated content is becoming king of all internet content. With the vast amount of data and new content created every day, how do you 'put your 2 cents in?' and make sure you get noticed. Unfortunately, there is no easy answer to this and their is no proven formulae for guaranteed traffic, but there are a number of steps you can do to make sure your content ranks up there alongside piers.

5 Tips to Curate Creative Content

1. Identify Your Audience
As mentioned in my previous blog post: Keeping Current: Blogging | Sign Me Up, Scotty!, it is important to determine your audience and cater your content accordingly. If you are reaching out to an 18-21 year old audience, tailor your use of language accordingly. If your audience is a creative team of like-minded Marketeers (like my fellow Squared classmates!) then posts that provide useful and interesting information is always well received.

2. Be Informative
People are forever on the quest to read more, see more and learn more. If you can offer to your audience something they haven't already seen, something they don't already know and something that in itself informs them on a mutually interesting topic, they will be back for more or be inclined to share your information with others. People like to make informed decisions. If you can inform in the right way, they will appreciate and be grateful for the curation of your content.

3. Inspire!
A post that makes people question the way they do something currently, that makes them ask the question, 'can I do this differently?' will help inspire people to do great things. Inspiration is an amazing tool. Next time you get stuck or feel like their is no solution, just think to yourself... 
"Twenty years from now you will be more disappointed by the things that you didn’t do than by the ones you did do, so throw off the bowlines, sail away from safe harbor, catch the trade winds in your sails.  Explore, Dream, Discover." –Mark Twain
4. Be Knowledgeable
Create content around something you have a passion and something you are knowledgeable in. If you own a fishing shop, then write about the best places to fish, the best season to go, the best equipment to use. Your audience will question your authenticity if you go on to discuss the best stocks and shares to purchase on the london stock exchange, the latest colours in this years clothes fashion, the best way to cook a wild boar. This is unrelated to your speciality and the readers may question exactly how much of this information came from you, how much of it they should trust or going back to point 1, it may be completely unrelated and have no interest to your target audience.

5. Be Unique
Does your content come straight from the heart, or it something you have created to demonstrate your 'copy-and-paste' skills? Newspapers are well known for repeating information already readily available, readers will end up seeing similar or the same information again and again and this really doesn't help them! Their attention span is reduced, they may become uninterested and search elsewhere for original content. Make it your own, put your own touch on it and press on. Keep it unique!

6 Interesting Statistics on User Generated Content
  • Online consumer reviews are the second most trusted form of advertising with 70% of global consumers surveyed online indicating they trust this platform. (Source: Nielsen)
  • 83% of all holiday shoppers are influenced by customer reviews. (Source: ChannelAdvisor
  • When asked what sources “influence your decision to use or not use a particular company, brand or product” 71% claim reviews from family members or friends exert a “great deal” or “fair amount” of influence. (Source: Harris Interactive)
  • 59% of consumers trust online reviews as much as personal recommendations. (Source: Balihoo)
  • 83% of consumers say it would be important to read user-generated content before making a decision about banking or other financial services. (Source: Bazaar Voice)
  • Consumers between 25 and 54 years old were the biggest content drivers, contributing 70% of all UGC. (Source: Bazaar Voice)
Further Reading

A fantastic article I read, published by one of my fellow Squared Online classmates was by +Eleanna Smpokou, who wrote an article entitled "Making your content (into a) king: The 4 dimensions". Spend five minutes absorbing the fantastic points Eleanna makes. Take a read HERE.

What tips do you have to attract reader attention? Do you have a view on user-generated content? It would be great to hear your thoughts, post in the comment box below. Thanks!

SkyDrive changes to OneDrive | 20GB FREE for Enthusiasts

Microsoft SkyDrive has started its transition to Microsoft OneDrive ( Today, in a post published by Chris Jones on the Microsoft Blog, the announcement was made for the "global availability of OneDrive"

For existing SkyDrive customers, OneDrive will automatically be available when you login to your existing service, via or For SkyDrive/OneDrive enthusiasts that signed up to be one of the first to be notified of the service launch, their is an additional 20GB of free storage space up for grabs - check your e-mail inbox now an exclusive code from Microsoft, to redeem this additional space.

Starting with a free base of 7 GB, Microsoft will also give 3 GB to users who connect their camera rolls, 500 MB for users who refer their friends, 200 GB for two years for Surface buyers and 100 GB for Office 365 users. 

Microsoft continue to explain how their service works across multiple platforms:
"We’ve built OneDrive into the latest versions of Windows, Windows Phone, Office, and Xbox. You can even make OneDrive your default storage option, so you never have to worry about whether you are saving files to the cloud: They are just there. If you happen to carry an iPhone or Android phone, or use an iPad, Android tablet, Windows device, or a Mac—OneDrive is available there, too." - Chris Jones, Microsoft.
The service is running and available right now, so take a trip over to OneDrive to try it out. Microsoft said it planned to share details about OneDrive for Business at its SharePoint conference on March 3.

Wednesday, 12 February 2014

How Has Digital Impacted Brands of Today?

When the word "digital" is mentioned, bounded around and waved about the place, what does the term actually mean to you? An endless stream of 1's and 0's? Green and red flashing lights? A digital clock? The Matrix? The term digital now widely encapsulates a number of areas online, including (but not limited to!) social media, data analytics, mobile browsing and mobile experience, e-mail marketing or generic online advertising, plus a wide range of other online activities.

Digital has already impacted on how businesses operate on a daily basis, particularly with the explosion of well-known social media sites that have developed over the last 10+ years. I've listed below some great examples of companies using digital methods to their advantage, marketing, serving and conversing with their customers and prospects in a very different way or to provide a level of service over and above that offered by their competitors:

First Direct - Internet Banking, a division of HSBC Bank

First Direct originally joined the 'social media bandwagon' as they very quickly realised that customer recommendations provided a very powerful tool for referrals and new business for the company. First Direct has always strived to provide the best customer service possible from a bank and this has been proven by the numerous awards the company has received since opening. Some of the more recent awards the financial institution have received; "Recommended Provider - Current Account 2013" - Which Best Buy Awards, "Moneywise Customer Service Awards 2013" & "Moneyfacts Awards 2013" - something that FirstDirect are proud to mention on their ever-growing awards page.

Typical FirstDirect Digital Advert (Source)
By incorporating social media into the brand, alongside informal brand advertising, it encourages their visitors to interact with the brand itself, not just the bank itself for transactional relationships. First Direct want to be more than just a bank. They want to to be your one-stop finance solution, a company you can trust and turn to. It also provided additional routes to market the business and stay closely in touch with its customers and fan base outside of the normal methods of telephone and internet banking. 

They openly accept and seek feedback, both positive and negative via Twitter and Facebook and are very quick at replying to these comments to try and leave the customer feeling positive and satisfied. Convenience also plays a massive part - allowing customers to get in touch with them through methods more familiar and convenient to the consumer. So confident are FirstDirect at their level of service that they even offer cash sums for leaving them - something that they hope is unlikely to happen, based on communicating more effectively with their customers and responding quickly to their needs.

Wonga - Short Term Cash Loans aka "The Digital Finance Company"

Wonga, designed to provide a short term loan of cash on a day-by-day basis have broken out of the 'loan-shark' category by becoming a household name, with the clever use of TV, web and digital advertising. A self-proclaimed "Digital Finance Company", Wonga was founded in 2006 and were amongst the first company of its type to use fully automated risk processing technology, allowing decisions to be made on new loans instantly, with customers receiving cleared funds in as little as 5 minutes. 

Backed up by strong marketing campaigns, Wonga operates entirely digitally, with the ability to provide an instant quote on the web or directly via a mobile app. Clever branding and key icons such as the three distinct elderly characters used across their marketing strategies ensure continuity whilst putting a 'smiley face' on what would otherwise be a just another money lending business. Wonga has built a very strong personal relationship with its fan base with the use of "The Wongies" - smiley-faced digitally-created personas to front the Wonga brand, pictured below.

The "Wongies" Social Club (Source)
Wonga has provided over 7,000,000 short-term loans and operates in the UK, South Africa, Canada and Poland since 2007, they were also the first business to enable quick-quotes via a mobile application. Clever use of social media has led them to create the "Social Club", a Facebook app that records how much a user visits and interacts with the brand, earning points enabling users to redeem these as rewards or money-off vouchers. By measuring tweets, shares and competition entries, Wonga has the ability to collect user information on-mass and can distribute marketing messages very quickly. Additional the "#WongaFriday" hashtag used (you guessed it - on Fridays) as a competition method, has proved popular with its audience, by encouraging their audience to share a specific post on Twitter or Facebook publicly in return for the chance to win £100 weekly, therefore increasing brand awareness and widening their potential future clientele for only a minimal outlay every week.

It is clear the digital world has had a tremendous impact on every industry, from Finance to Healthcare. The youth of today are growing up in an ever-evolving technological world and businesses need to embrace this fact as oppose to ignoring it. Digital affects everyone - prospects, existing customers and general brand-engagement. What companies do you know of, that are using digital in a particularly noteworthy  or innovative way? Post your comments below!

Monday, 10 February 2014

Creating A Video | The Incomplete Guide

Let me firstly lay down a precedence for this post - I am not a professional videographer, in fact far from it, but I recently had to delve into the world of video creation myself to create my Squared Online introductory video, introducing myself to my fellow classmates. I thought I would share with you the ups and downs of the process and the research I undertook to do the best I could with the tools available to me! 

Please remember - I am not a professional videographer and this article is called "The Incomplete Guide", but I do hope that those finding it difficult making a start, feel a little more inspired!

Some questions I first asked myself:
  1. Who was my audience?
    My audience would mainly be my Squared classmates and tutors. In the first instance, this is who I wanted to create the movie as the audience in mind. However, I could also publish this to my blog to show others that may be following my journey, outside of the course.
  2. What look did I want to go for? Modern, Nostalgic, Mystery etc.
    My course was digital. I love digital. So a modern, fresh theme was what I wanted to achieve, something catchy that helped to present my view of digital and the explain to others a little more about me, in a simple, direct way.
  3. What resolution did I want to produce? 360p / 720p HD/ 1080p HD?
    In fitting with my aim at a fresh and clean-cut look, I decided the only way I could achieve this was to use HD (high-definition) footage, shot in 1080p. I would then create my movie with HD in mind, remembering to output my final video in 1080p HD. This would allow those with the a higher broadband speed to watch it with the clearest sound quality and better definition to the pictures themselves. Further to this, bearing in mind the YouTube flexibilities, I also knew that those with a slower Internet connection could also stream the video in a slightly reduced quality, to allow the video to be shown.
  4. Did I want my video 'branded' by a third-party company?
    I wanted to try and steer clear of free services that would add their logo to the corner or through the video, with the aim of the user paying an upgrade fee to remove the branding. For it to remain clear, concise and modern, I felt I needed to use a tool/service that did not brand my final video.
  5. How much time did I have to play with?
    I had a few days to play with, so I knew I had a bit of time to play with my creation to get it right. Had I been restricted to a few hours, this may have affected the decision of programs to use.
  6. What tools did I already have for the job? What else would I need?
    I knew pre-installed on Windows 7 & 8 is Windows Movie Maker. I had this already, it was free and included on my PC already. Having used this only once, I decided this may not be enough. I researched numerous other programs, including AnimotoStupeflix and WeVideo. All of these services, I'm sure are great and fit a need, but all charge a fee to output at higher resolutions (anything above 360p) and some were restricted in length. So Windows Movie Maker it was! (no branding, free, 1080p output).
  7. Where was I going to upload the footage to?
    I knew I was going to upload to YouTube, so I researched the type of videos that work best on the site: > YouTube Help.
  8. What footage did I own, what footage did I need?
    I already knew I had a selection of videos that I had taken and wanted to include, but I also wanted to add other, more abstract videos. A great article that helped me find free, HD stock footage was published by Ashutosh KS on here.
After collating my personal videos, my stock videos, a storyboard of what messages I wanted to get across and a catchy background track I already had in mind, I took to Windows Movie Maker to start compiling the videos. I trimmed many videos down to 3 seconds, or increased the footage speed of longer shots to coincide with the music itself, interrupting the shots momentarily for key words or phrases to be shown. You will find the finished video posted just below. See what you think!

"This is Adam" - Adam Prettyjohns

Can you recommend any video editing software? Have you written a guide of your own video? Post your answers in the comment box below. Thanks!

Sunday, 9 February 2014

Squared Online: My Video Introduction

Just a short post for today - I have finally completed my Squared Online video to submit for my first assessment! It has been designed to introduce myself to fellow Squared Online classmates. See what you think! Comments and feedback welcome :) Adam.

Thursday, 6 February 2014

Keeping Current: Blogging | Sign Me Up, Scotty!

With the plethora of information widely available on the internet and new content being created and published by the minute, it can be difficult to keep track of your favourite reads.  Second by second, gigabytes of information make it onto the world wide web, published, shared, edited, re-published. The problem occurs when there is so much information to comprehend - how do you keep track of it all?

Image Source: Link

RSS To The Rescue!
RSS feeds are a great solution to this issue. RSS (Rich Site Summary or Really Simple Syndication) is a selection of web standards to form a feed, a stream of information that is regularly updated and can be delivered to a number of different locations. Generally, the site will display the RSS logo as an icon (pictured below) if RSS is supported. Most popular blog formats support this type of technology - Blogger, Wordpress, Tumblr are all popular examples that support RSS. But what do you do with it?

Look for the RSS logo!
RSS Readers
An RSS reader is a piece of software, a website, an app or in some cases a stand alone product that allows you to record the RSS feed URL (the address that contains the regularly updated information) and displays any posts from these feeds, generally in chronological order (although many readers allow additional sort options). The idea - you add all of your favourite news feeds, blogs, audio and video streams into your RSS reader thus allowing you to oversee all new articles, posts and uploads published from your favourite sources. As soon as a new article is posted online, it is available within your reader to view in one, centralised location.

What Services Are Available?
The now closed-down service "Google Reader" was a very well known, well used product in the Digital landscape that allowed you to follow all of your favourite feeds in one place. Google unfortunately shut this service down in July 2013, claiming low usage by users (which was argued by a large number of hardcore Reader users). However, when one service fails, an opportunity arises in the marketplace for a replacement. Here are some alternative services to stay up to date with your favourite feeds.
  • Feedly ( - Recommended to me by +Donal Phipps, this has proven to be my favourite RSS reader at the moment. Simply sign-in with your Google credentials and start inputting your favourite websites or blogs. Feedly searches the website for any available RSS/Atom feeds and displays the results. Click "Follow" and all new posts will be tracked. Additional options such as sharing articles to Buffer, Evernote or your favourite Social Media sites are also available. Your feeds are also syncronised in the cloud and Feedly offer a free mobile/tablet app to keep up to date on the go. Feedly has a clean, simplistic design, allowing you to focus on what is important - the content! 
  • BlogLovin ( - Designed specifically for you blog lovers, this site is aimed at helping you keep track of your favourite blogs. I feel it is targeted at those who don't already have favourite websites in mind, as during sign-up you are encouraged to follow some top-performing blogs before you are able to add in your own. However, still a fairly straightforward, free service, allowing you to stay on top of the content that matters to you.
  • FeedReader ( - Similar to the likes of Feedly, this free service allows your track your favourite RSS feeds on desktop, web and mobile. The service has recently undergone an overhaul, refreshing its look and has become more in-fitting with the likes of Feedly.
Atom vs RSS?
You may find yourself asking the question on the quest to keep current, "What is the difference between Atom and RSS?

The Atom standard was developed more recently and intended to replace RSS, to consolidate the programming languages used and to 'iron-out' some of the bugs or difficulties experienced with some RSS feeds. There are different versions of RSS in use. RSS 2.0 is the most common. It is used for news/blog feeds as well as for Podcasting. Atom, is a more standardised way of providing XML content updates. However, it has not received wide acceptance yet outside of the blog communities. (Again, almost all blog tools can generate an Atom feed on the fly.)

The answer - either format is perfectly acceptable to use, it is really down to personal preference as you should not really see any major noticeable differences between the outcome of two technologies.

Credits & Squared Online
Credit must be given to +Donal Phipps, who inspired me to write this article. As part of our course requirements for Googles' Squared Online course, each 'Squared' member has to write a blog, outlining their thoughts and experiences of the #SquaredOnline Course. This is a fantastic task, the explosion of blogs popping up from classmates as a result has been astonishing - never has my Google+ feed been so active! Every story is different, Digital means something different to every person (see my blog post: "Digital + Becoming T-shaped" here.) I love reading them, I like to get an insight into the inner workings of each and every person on the course and through the blog posts produced, you can learn a lot about everyone. Syncronised into my Feedly account, I can now sleep happy knowing I shouldn't miss any future blog articles!

Do you have a favourite RSS reader? I would love to hear your views and comments!