Social Networks

Navigating Social Media

Social media is a hot topic for businesses around the globe and has been for the last few years. It enables us connect in more interactive ways with our customers, clients, colleagues and of course our family and friends, in ways unlike traditional online media such as email and websites. Its fundamentally changed the way that we all engage with online content, letting us comment, share and interact, and this has been reflective in the ways that we now view our online presence and marketing.

Social media appears in many different guises, as blogs, micro-blogs, forums, message boards, social networks, wikis, virtual worlds, social bookmarking, tagging, digital storytelling, scrapbooking, data, content, image and video sharing, podcasts and collective intelligence. The most well-known sites such as Facebook, Twitter, LinkedIn, MySpace, Youtube, Flickr, WordPress, Blogger and Wikipedia have all enhanced our online experience and have become influential social forces in both the online and offline world. With people now using Facebook and Youtube as a search engines, some digital marketer’s argue that without a social presence your business reputation will suffer, as increasingly more people are looking for your business on Facebook or Twitter before they visit your website.

It was back in 1971 when the first ever email was sent, and seven years later two Chicago computer hobbyists invented the bulletin board system (BBS) to inform friends of meetings, make announcements and share information through postings, this can be seen as the rudimentary beginnings of virtual communities. But it wasn’t until 1997 that blogging first began and AOL Instant Messenger hit the screens letting users from around the globe chat with one another. In the following two years Google opened as a major internet search engine and index and Friends Reunited was founded in the UK. In the early Noughties (2002) Friendster, probably the first social networking site, was opened to the US public and in its first three months attracted 3 million users. The following year saw the birth of MySpace and LinkedIn set up as a professional social networking site. At this time there were about 3 million web pages indexed on the world wide web.

It wasn’t until 2004 that Facebook made its debut on the web, started by Mark Zuckerberg while studying at Harvard College, initially it was designed to be a closed college network, and we all know where it went from there. From then on there has been a proliferation of social media sites, with YouTube storing and retrieving its first videos in 2005, and Bebo (an acronym for Blog Early, Blog Often) was started as a rival to Facebook. At this time there were now 8 billion web pages. When Twitter launched in 2006 as a microblogging site  Google indexed 25 billion web pages and 400 million queries (or searches) a day.

Now in 2013, only 9 years after the launch of Facebook at Harvard, the site has 1.11 billion users, and if it were a country it would be the third largest in the world, behind China and India. It overtook the US three years ago.  YouTube topped the one billion monthly user mark and 4 billion views per day this year. Twitter has 500 million registered users with more than 200 million active users. LinkedIn has grown to amass 225 million accounts, while MySpace somewhat dawdles with 25 million users. Pinterest, one of the newest sites to hit the scene as a social scrapbooking network has approximately 49 million users, while WordPress now accounts for 16% of the worlds top websites with 74 million hosted blogs. Social media has become such an ingrained part of our daily lives that even Astronauts aboard the International Space Station regularly tweeted and posted videos to Youtube live from space!

Mobile is now playing a massive role in how we check up on our favourite social networks, with more than half of us regularly accessing Facebook and Twitter from our smart phones while on the move. People living in cities spend the most time on social media, and women tend to spend about 10% more time on social networking sites than men.

In the UK 33 million of us are on Facebook, this is up 3 million on the last year, that’s over half of the entire population, in fact proportionally there are more people using Facebook in the UK than in the US. Overall the highest proportion of users are between the ages of 25 and 34 (26%), with 18 to 24 years old’s the next largest group (23%), but the demographic for people over the age of 55 using social media has grown significantly in the last year.

As for Twitter, its estimated that around 34 million of us have live accounts in the UK, which is a huge jump from last years estimate of 26 million. It’s suggested that the heavy coverage and discussions around big events like the Olympics and Jubilee may have been the driver in recruiting new Twitter users. Twitter seems to attract a slightly older grouping of people with 60% being aged between 25 and 54 years old.

Then there’s LinkedIn, the total number of UK users passed the 10 million mark back in 2012, it is now around 11 million. This is about 11% of the population, for a niche networking site this is pretty astounding. Pinterest, although it’s one of the most talked about social networks this year there is only an estimated 200,000 of us using Pinterest here in the UK, and most of these are women.

And these are just the UK stats, when you begin to look at the global usage of social media, it can sometimes be difficult to imagine your message will be seen at all. Which is why it is becoming increasingly more important to really think about what you want your social media to do for you, who you want to be talking to, and how you want them to interact with you. As a marketer it comes relatively easy to me to talk about strategy planning, implementation and monitoring, but for people running small or medium businesses, when you have everything to consider from creating your products or services to running the financial and administration sides of your business, you’d be forgiven for not thinking too strategically about your use of social media. But as more and more people start to look to social networks, blogs and microblogs not only to talk to their friends and family but to get advice or seek out products and services they want and need, we have to think somewhat realistically about how social media fits into our overall marketing and promotion.

It was said to me a few years back that if a business didn’t have a Facebook or a Twitter account (or if they did and there were no postings or interaction on the profiles) that potential customers would be turned off the business all together. Although I can’t prove how accurate that statement is for every customer out there, it did make me think that I do prefer to see a business with a social side (whether done well or not) then none at all. Ultimately social media has helped put ‘people’ and ‘customer service’ back into business. So what are you doing to put the ‘social’ into your business?

And here’s a little something which makes me smile, and probably encapsulates why I genuinely do love how Social Media is changing the world;

Sian provides Social Media training, consultancy and strategy development for businesses across the Highlands and Islands of Scotland. If you’re interested in finding out what she can do for you then please get in touch with her via;

Facebook LinkedIn Twitter

The fantastic online sources used to inform this piece:


How to Use Twitter

To follow on from ‘How to Use Facebook’ check out these excellent videos for using Twitter.

Twitter in Plain English

Getting Started with Twitter

Twitter Lists in a Nutshell

Twitter Tools Explained

How to Create an Attractive Profile

Finding Followers

How to Tweet from your Phone

How to use Twitter for your Business

eMarketing Music Special

Last week I delivered another web marketing workshop, this time it was designed specifically for musicians and bands, an eMarketing Music Special if you like.

emarketing music special

emarketing music special

I’ve uploaded the presentation onto Slideshare so please if your interested take a gander.

 If you think there might be opportunities for other eMarketing Specials please do get in touch, everything from visual arts to theatre, I can deliver more tailored made sessions. Contact me at or drop me a comment here.

Tour of Scotland: Orkney Day 2

I am back in the office today, after a great 3 days in Orkney. After a beautiful journey up to Orkney and across from St. Margaret’s Hope to Kirkwall, day 2 unfortunately was not nearly as sunny and warm, but then I wasn’t too bothered, as I was preparing to spend day 2 talking about web marketing.  
The Pickaquoy Centre
The Pickaquoy Centre

The Pickaquoy Centre, in Kirkwall, was the venue, and what an amazing facility this is. Everything from sports to arts, with a hugely helpful and friendly staff, it was a delight to turn up at 8.30am on this overcast Wednesday morning to find everything ready to go. I also have to recommend the homemade shortbread, that kept us all going in the late morning.  

 The second workshop went down well again, and like the Inverness workshop, there was allot of discussion and conversation about the merits and return on time social media provides makers, artists and the heritage sector. While there are huge benefits from using social media, in terms of developing different and possibly new relationships with your current audience or your potential audience, social media also allows you the opportunity of presenting a human face and personality to your brand. However, with so many social media and social networks available the real question is ‘Where do I find the time to do all this?’ and ‘What is the real benefit, how can I see that this is making any difference?’  What needs to be stressed is that like all marketing strategies, be it posters and leaflets, exhibitions or your web presence, marketing is something which you need to consider as part of your craft or business, rather then something you bolt on as an extra, as something of an necessary evil. Let’s face it, none of us would be able to do what we do, sell artwork, put on performances and shows, keep museums and heritage centers open, if it wasn’t for public interest and ultimately audiences and customers. So if your public sits at the heart of what you do, and why you do it, then marketing and promoting that work should be as central to your day as making sure you have the right materials to create your work.   

Back to the issue of Time and Effort. Previously marketing was a task you set aside a week or two to concentrate on, then once your marketing and publicity is confirmed, printed and distributed, you could then sit back and wait for the customers and audiences to arrive. However the way we schedule and implement marketing today has seen a shift from the focused 2 weeks to marketing everyday. Social media particularly requires input on at least a daily basis, which will obviously seem like more time and effort spent, without the immediate and obvious impact or effectiveness. Facebook have since introduced an Insights page, a basic analyzer for your business pages, with Twitter you can monitor the impact of your conversation by charting your hashtags, with youtube you can clearly see how many people have viewed your videos on a daily basis, and with similar analytics to Facebook, you can analyze who your viewers are. So social media is developing to include the necessary analytics that businesses and organisations need to identify whether a strategy of social media is worthwhile or not really worth the time at all. But by focusing strongly on the impact; time versus effectiveness; we are in danger of forgetting what social networks are about and why we, as well as our audiences use social networks.   

Social networks are just that, communities of people coming together to find out and keep informed, in an informal way, of the news, events, activities, thoughts and conversations had by the businesses, organisations or artists that they want to know about. Remember your Fans on Facebook or your Followers on Twitter, have consciously decided to follow you, to not only keep up to date with your activities and news, but also to show their loyalty to what you do. These are not just fans in name, but most likely in nature too. What other marketing activity enables you to have direct conversations with your customers or audiences in real time, when they might be on the other side of the world? And with the nature of social media, people feel more at ease in having those valuable informal and social conversations, so use your social media and networks well, and you can elicit information from your audiences or potential audiences which you might not have been able to gather using the more traditional e-marketing techniques.   

Ultimately, social media is something you embrace or not, you need to use Facebook like a Facebooker and Tweet like a Tweeter to get the most out of these platforms…if your still not sure, your not convinced, then just give it a go, you can’t do any harm by experimenting.

A Tour of Scotland

Web Marketing

Web Marketing

Back in Septemeber I was invited to give a short presentation at the Orkney Maker’s Day event, to talk about the benefits of using the internet for marketing and promotion and engaging your audience. A brief presentation was not nearly enough time to convey the full extent of the opportunities the web offers artists, makers, arts groups and organisations, and there is infact no definative answer, strategy or route to take when creating an online presence.

However, as a result of feedback from the Orkney Maker’s Day, I am now running a series of web marketing workshops for the arts and cultural sector in the Highlands and Islands of Scotland. Travelling from Inverness to the Orkney Islands, to Shetland, and the Western Isles, I’ll also be visiting Ullapool and Argyll to deliver a total of 8 workshops in the next three months.

The internet offers such opportunities especially for individuals, groups or organisations with a minimal or non existant marketing budget, which is so often the way in the arts and cultural world. With the advent of open-source solutions and social media, we no longer need to be an IT boffin or at least have one to hand in order to get online.

The workshops aim to provide the right starting point when embarking on an online marketing strategy, everything from the essential elements of web development and design, how to make sure your website gets seen by using search engine optimisation, how social media and social networks help to develop relationships and interactivity, as well as looking at online selling, how to manage your audience relationships effectively, and finally why collecting as much data on your audiences along the way will redefine and influence your future marketing paths.

If your an artist, an arts or cultural group or an organisation, looking to learn more about what the internet can offer you, or looking to brush up on your online marketing skills, then please contact me or book your place now – places are limited!

Getting Social

A Social Butterfly at Woodend Barn

A Social Butterfly at Woodend Barn

Social Media is taking centre court amongst audience development and marketing professionals. It’s free, its accessible anywhere and everywhere, it’s a new and interactive way of communicating with your audience, your visitors, your customers, and it’s used by millions of people around the planet.

The benefits of using social media as an audience development or marketing tool are vast, but only if you are using them in the right way. These are not applications for you to promote your products, advertise your events, or generally bombard your ‘fans’ or ‘followers’ with marketing bumpf. It’s about being social. Being friendly, entertaining, engaging, being a real person. If organisations can’t do this, then social media used the wrong way is far more damaging to its brand, reputation and audience attraction. While print media, tv advertisements, brochures, reviews, flyers etc, all disappear eventually, what you post online, stays online, forever!

I’ve been working with arts organisations across the Highlands and Islands to encourage them to get active and social online, participate in discussion, get chatting and posting, and start establishing relationships beyond the four walls and traditional marketing techniques of their organisation. And social media does not simply remain in the domain of the organisation. In my previous blog about branding, personal branding for individual artists or makers, can be achieved through social media.

For the next couple of months I will be working on organising a series of web marketing workshops for the Highlands and Islands, to promote and support individuals and organisations in their online development. These workshops are aimed at people who want a practical introduction into the world of web marketing, including social media.

I’ll keep you posted on the developments of these workshops, hopefully they will be up and running by the new year.

In the meantime check out my social media tip sheet, developed for HI-Arts. 

The postings on this site are my own and do not necessarily represent HI-Art’s positions, strategies or opinions.

The Art of Branding

It’s fair to say that everyone now has to consider their brand, and I don’t just mean business or company branding, but personal branding too. With the advent of blogging, social media, websites, etc we, as individuals can now embark on our own personal branding.

For international companies who can afford branding companies to design and implement a bespoke brand, creating a brand isn’t all that difficult. But creating a brand for publically funded arts organisations is very much like creating your own personal brand, it’s researched, designed, and implemented by you; the director, development or marketing manager of the organisation, devised on a shoe string and operated at minimal cost.

As an audience development tool Branding can be one of the most effective and efficient ways of creating audience loyalty and committment to your organisation. However, if done badly, an ill conceived brand can damage you and your organisation beyond repair.

In a competitive world, where arts organisations are competing with leisure and home entertainment, branding is one element of the marketing mix which cannot be ignored. People understand, respond and relate to Brands in today’s society. Apple is perhaps the best example of an excellent brand. Apple generate trust through their quality products and services and excellent customer support, Apple’s Brand Affinity is now part of a cultural phenomenon, if you want an MP3 Player it’s got to be an iPod.

If art’s organisations can apply the same theories of generating brand loyalty and brand affinity to their operations, then they are far more likely to attract and, most importantly, retain audiences. But where to start? Branding is perceived as a costly, design led enterprise, in which those with years of marketing experience are the only suitable candidates to lead the operation. This is not so. Like all elements of audience development, creating a Brand is a process and the answers to your branding questions can be found within your four walls.

Branding doesn’t have to be a arduous and costly exercise. If you and your organisation believe strongly in what you are doing and want to raise your visibility in a competitive market place, then a Brand is essential to doing this. If you have a logo, a set of aims, a mission or vision, you already have the basis of an engineered brand. If you attract audiences and visitors to your events or venue, then they already have a perception and image of who you are and what you do, currently your unmanaged, renegade brand. Harness these elements and you can have a fully fledged Brand engineered by you and understood by your audience.

For information of the processes of Branding, and other elements of audience development visit and download the TIP SHEET Branding for Arts Organisations, and many many more.

The postings on this site are my own and do not necessarily represent HI-Art’s positions, strategies or opinions.