The Twitter Effect
I’m fascinated by the ways in which we can interact with people through social media, building friendships with people we have not and may never meet in person. It’s quite something, as is the speed with which we can now share content with others.
Last week a social media experience landed on my lap and the results proved just how powerful social media can be. It all started with a photo of New York. This photo to be precise…
On Tuesday I was sorting through my bookmarks, stumbled upon this pretty fantastic photo and tweeted it. In fact, I tweeted exactly this:
I should probably share with you here that at the moment I sent that tweet I had 1,031 followers. The numbers become important a little later on. Within an hour or two I had been retweeted by about 20 people, most of whom I recognised as followers who I regularly interact with. So maybe between them they shared my tweet with around a couple of thousand or so extra people outside of my own followers. That alone is impressive I think.
That was that. Wednesday was a regular day. I tweeted as normal and nothing seemed to be out of the ordinary but little did I know in the 45 minute commute from work to home on Wednesday evening, someone had retweeted me and started what was the become the most interesting day I’d ever had on Twitter.
I got home and my phone instantly beeped with notifications. Apparently I had 45 mentions, that’s 45 tweets that included by Twitter username @RobertMills. I dismissed this as a mistake, until I checked Twitter. The NYC photo tweet from the previous day was being mentioned time and time again, retweet after retweet. So I went through them all and found out that my tweet had somehow reached the stream of a celebrity, an actor by the name of Matt Lucas (@RealMattLucas). Matt retweeted me so each of his 421,000 followers saw my ugly mug in their stream.
The Power of Celebrity
So the simple action of Matt Lucas rewteeting me led to a snowball affect of retweets and @ replies. They were constant and simply too many to reply to. Some were using the retweet function, others were writing RT and adding their own comment to the tweet and many were simply replying to me to say ‘wow’, ‘that photo turned my stomach’ and other such messages.
Without a celebrity retweeting me, there is no way it would have been shared with so many people and continued to be retweeted. This really goes to show how one person with many followers can help spread a message (or in this case a photo) without very little to no effort.
This isn’t a big surprise I suppose but I had never really experienced it first hand. Imagine the power and influence that you can have with such a large audience at the tip of your fingers. I think that this power and influence is scalable with Twitter so even if you have a small numbers of followers you can still influence and inspire them but when you start reaching follower numbers in excess of 400,000 it becomes a whole new ball game and then even beyond that there are celebrities like Lady Gaga who, as I write this, has 13,577,954 followers.
The Power of Social media
But Matt’s retweet was just the beginning, as well as all the retweets that followed I also noticed my follower numbers going up, quite rapidly. For ‘regular’ folk like me it takes a long time to gain a significant number of followers. My count rises and falls daily but always seems to be increasing, although little by little. I had a little surge when the book was released two months ago but more recently it had levelled off and was increasing by maybe 8 a week.
Within an hour after Matt’s retweet I had gained 30 followers. So I was at 1,061. By the next morning this was at 1,104 and as I write this it stands at 1,111. That’s 80 followers in 4 days, perhaps not huge numbers but still a lot more than my average.
But this begs the question, why did these people start following me? Don’t get me wrong, I’m not complaining but I wonder how many of these will stay with me when they realise I don’t tweet amazing photos of New York all the time.
Was it because I was in some small way endorsed by a celebrity? Was it that they do expect similar photos/tweets from the future? Perhaps it is just that one advantage of Twitter is that we can follow (and indeed unfollow) with ease.
The detail is in the data
But let’s get back to the data which is where the real story can be found. I used a metrics/analysis tool called TwentyFeet and this tells me that in the last week my number of new followers was up 208% compared to the average week.
The numbers of tweets I was mentioned in last week was 187, this is a 160% increase. As for the retweets, well I can’t confirm the exact number now, it just says that it was retweeted by 100+ Twitter users but I do know from TwentyFeet that this is a whopping 544% increase from the week before!
Of the @ replies I was receiving one was from Trends UK that told me I was trending in the UK! Woot! I’m not sure how accurate this trend tool is but their tweet included a link to a site that showed what topics were trending in the UK and sure enough I was 5th on the list. To trend means you have to be included in a lot of tweets and the continuous stream of retweets and replies would suggest that there was some accuracy in this.
Yesterday I had a message from @favstar that told me my NYC photo tweet had now been favourited by over 50 people.
The numbers prove that individually, celebrity and social media are powerful and influential entities. Bring them together and they are a force to be reckoned with. There are probably examples of similar experiences but on a much greater level but for me, what happened last week was out of the ordinary and a stark reminder that we should always think before we tweet.
After all, you never know who may end up reading it as we have little control once the tweet button has been clicked. If you’ve had a similar experience or want to add anything we’d love to hear from you, please leave a comment below.
Bluegg help launch Fiftyone3
Last Friday myself, Mike and Rob were at Chepstow Races for the launch of a new business club called Fiftyone3. Sounds a bit dull doesn’t it? Well, it was actually really exciting, as this is a shiny new business club aimed at young (under 35-ish), ambitious and fun professionals, designed to knock the socks off formal and stuffy networking events. Fortunately, we all just about qualified.
Whether you like it or not, if you’re in business, networking is vital. It creates opportunities, connections and raises your profile. The problem with many networking events is that they’re quite often large, impersonal and for the young guns, a bit intimidating. This is because there’s a tradition of ‘selling, not buying’. It can be a high pressure environment which is very structured and formal in order to get as many people as possible to exchange business cards. To be honest, that’s just not cool. It’s only hardened networkers that actually enjoy that sort of thing.
Fiftyone3 is here to offer a fresh way of connecting people. The focus isn’t on who can collect the most business cards, it’s about creating opportunities for younger professionals at various stages in their careers to get together, have a drink and make friends. The aim is to build lasting relationships that will invariably lead onto business opportunities in the future.
As part of our partnership, Bluegg are responsible for the branding, design and digital marketing of the club. We worked with the other partners to come up with a range of name suggestions and Fiftyone3 was the winner. To us, a good name creates interest and intrigue, gets people asking questions and is something that people will recognise when it’s mentioned. Being based in south Wales, we all looked at local numbers that could be used and came across the coordinates for the area of 51 longitude and -3 latitude. And that was that!
The logo is made up of two main elements; the word mark set in customised Helvetica and the overlapping network of hexagons.
The hexagon shape was a key part of the brand, which was inspired by the complex network of a bee hive – a symbol of working together and relationships. For the intersecting hexagon logo we used a range of bold, bright colours which symbolise the type of people the club is aimed at. The individual shapes overlap, which creates new shapes and colours representing the new relationships we hope to form. This also gave us a strong graphic shape that we used to create a design style.
So far we’ve created a set of stationery, roller banners, a mini fold out leaflet and a temporary website where people can sign up for email updates, while the main one gets under way. We also styled the twitter page, which is going to be a key communication tool going forward.
So what’s next? Well, we’ll start by getting the website up and running and we have the next 5 events booked in (they happen once every two months) so we need to get planning for those too. This hasn’t been an idea months in the making, but the level of interest and feedback so far has been pretty amazing.
The future’s bright. The future’s a multicoloured hexagon.
Giving facebook pages a facelift
Well, it’s been another thoroughly interesting week in the world of the web. Earlier this week social media giant Facebook launched a new site – www.facebook-studio.com. This new site is a portal, showcasing the developments of how the Facebook platform is becoming an ever increasingly useful tool for brands to interact with audiences, and how digital agencies are doing new things.
You see, like the rest of the web, Facebook has been evolving rapidly recently. What started as a network for friends to communicate and exchange information has now become a place where brands can access and interact with an enormous audience. This is being done using a platform that Facebook has developed which offers interaction in many ways. Facebook pages are just one part of this.
A few weeks ago we blogged about practicing what we preach, in relation to self promotion and social media. It’s true, we are active bloggers and tweeters and although we have had a Facebook page for a while, it’s not something we’ve really concentrated our efforts on.
We recently decided that is was time we gave our Facebook presence a bit of love. Until now we had our Twitter account connected to Facebook, so every time we tweeted, our Facebook status was updated. The problem with this is that we’ve been finding that the two platforms have very different audiences.
We think there is little value in just having a Facebook page that listed our tweets – that’s what Twitter is for, right? So we started to look at how we could use Facebook differently and more effectively. One of the best ways we found is to show our work rather than write about it – everyone likes pictures after all!
We decided to use a Facebook Developer app which allowed us to load an external page into our main fan page. This would give us custom landing page for anyone visiting us on Facebook. The one thing we didn’t want to do is create a whole load of new work for us to do to keep things updated, so we linked this external page to our WordPress website. What this means is that whenever we add a new blog post to our site, it automatically updates the Facebook page. Same goes for galleries of our work and doodles. We also incorporated a Twitter feed into the page.
As a business-to-business company we can’t say we really see Facebook as an essential part of our marketing tool kit, but by utilising new technologies, we not only get to challenge ourselves, but most importantly we get to demonstrate our abilities and ideas to our clients.
Please feel free to have a look at our new Facebook page › and if you’d like more updates through Facebook, like us!
Mike goes for a 260 mile bike ride!
We’re making the most of having Mike around today because he won’t be with us next week. Sad faces. You may have heard us mention previously that Mike is taking part in a charity bike ride from north to south Wales, a total of 260 miles. That challenge starts on Monday.
Mike, along with a group of local businessmen, will be spending Monday to Thursday next week cycling from Holyhead to Cardiff. Between them they are hoping to raise £20,000 for charity and we’re super chuffed to be able to say that they have already raised over £12,000!
The guys have been taking this challenge really seriously. As well as the financial investment of getting kitted up with the latest in buttock protection and anti chafe cream, they have been training unbelievably hard, racking up over almost 3500 training miles.
Whilst a week without Mike is sure to be one of peace and quiet, we will be keeping up with his progress on the website that Bluegg designed and built. When Mike decided to get involved in the ride, we immediately offered our design services to help create an identity and the website.
Whilst we could have just gone for a bog standard website that offered basic information, we thought it would be a great opportunity to challenge ourselves a little by creating a portal of live information and updates both before and during the ride.
The integration of the @whosebrightidea twitter account into the homepage of the site was pretty simple, but giving all the riders access to update the feed via their smart phones means that the homepage is virtually always updated with a new ride related tweet. This will really come into play on Monday when the ride kicks off and they’re all frantically tweeting about the pain!
Mile Tracker and Countdown
The website uses WordPress as a content management system (CMS) and we created a custom area where Mike can really quickly and easily update the number of miles covered using the WordPress iPhone app. The timer which counts down the number of days until the ride ends updates automatically each day.
To help tell the story of the lead up to the ride, we added a fully functional blog to the site. This gave any of the riders the opportunity to write about their experience of training for the challenge. The support team are also planning to write each day of the ride to give a more in-depth update about the moans and groans from the riders!
The donation facility was set up with Just Giving and using the API they made available, allowed us to stream a live feed of the current total. A great way to inspire the guys.
The last live feed is a photo gallery from Flickr. We set up an account for the ride and used the Flickr API to feed images straight into the homepage. The guys all have the Flickr app on their iPhones so they can all contribute to the gallery during the four days.
So this is it. Weeks of training have ended. Now it happens. We wish the guys all the best and we send our many congratulations for the great big lump of cash already raised for some fantastic charities. Go Mike, go!
Practicing what we preach
As a creative agency we’re used to (and happy) to answer the same kinds of questions like ‘how much does a website cost?’ or can you help us with our branding?’, but lately we’re getting asked more and more about social media, both from existing and prospective clients.
Whilst we’re comfortable writing social media strategies for clients, we try to make sure that it’s both right for a business, and that the business will benefit. We don’t think it’s the case of jumping on the bandwagon because ‘everyone is tweeting’ or because ‘everyone has a blog’. There needs to be a purpose for using these platforms to publish content, having something relevant to say. The best way we can advise clients and show how social media is used well, is by practising what we preach.
When we launched our new website back in November of last year, we decided to include a blog as part of this. A blog is a big commitment, as many of you will know. It takes time to write posts and get suitable content together. You also need something worthwhile to say, perhaps even something more defined like a content strategy.
For us this presented a challenge. The trouble is, internal projects and self promotion often took a backseat to client work, meetings and running our business, it was inevitable. When we decided to commit to promoting ourselves through our blog and social media we made sure we had a strategy that would be proactive enough but also be achievable.
One of the biggest mistakes that we see companies make is having a blog or news section built into their website, but never updating it. Or having an idle twitter account just collecting dust (and spam followers!). Another mistake, which we’ve been guilty of ourselves in the past is launching email marketing campaigns, promising monthly updates, which end up petering out over a few months.
When we talk to clients about these problems we often hear ‘but I’m too busy to blog and tweet’ or ‘but the fact we haven’t updated our news since 2004 makes us look really busy, because we don’t have time’. That’s a classic! The fact is that if you’re not updating your blog or using the social media tools you’ve chosen, you just look like you have nothing going on and nothing to say – We think no news is better than old news.
Our blog has now become an integral part of how we share what we do and who we do it for, but the content isn’t exclusive to our design work, we also write about studio news or opinions about the industry.
The same is true of social media. We don’t tweet for the sake of it, we tweet when we have something to say and share. This might be a link to our latest blog post, studio news, other work that we like or simply observations.
All of this means that when clients ask us about blogs or social media we are able to use ourselves as an example, explaining how we use it and why, and just as importantly, the benefits it yields for Bluegg.
We’ve managed to get into a routine of managing our blog and social media content. Time to write blog posts is scheduled in the same way any client work would be. We aim for one a week but if there’s nothing new to say one week then so be it. Similarly, if we have a big news week then we’ll put more than one post live. We’re averaging 4-5 new posts per month.
As for tweets, again, we don’t just tweet for the sake of it. We usually tweet 3-4 times a day with information about new work, photographs from the studio or new print work that gets delivered, links to new websites, or links to other design stories and interesting information. We also use twitter to tell people about funny things we see or new doodles! We have also a live twitter stream on our homepage which means there’s always something new to read.
We’ve worked out a simple strategy for tweeting; during our morning scrum (when we update the team on projects), Rob asks us if there’s anything new worth tweeting. That’s an easy way of getting a good range of suggestions.
Lastly at the end of every month or so we create an email newsletter which links to all the recent news stories we’ve added to the blog. It’s a nice way to summarise what we’ve been up to and target a different market of people who don’t want to check our site regularly.
For us, when clients ask us questions, we want to answer them honestly, in detail and with supporting examples. They come to us for our expertise and opinions, and we’ve found is that opinions and advice carries more weight if you simply practice what you preach.
Bluegg sponsors a bright Idea (and Mike gets on his bike!)
Have you ever found yourself asking whose bright idea was this? That’s exactly the question on the lips of our Business Director, Mike, and with good reason. In April 2011, nineteen businessmen (including Mike) are embarking on a cycling challenge that the Top Gear team would be proud of. They are cycling from North to South Wales in just 4 days. That’s a total of 260 miles!
We know what you’re thinking and it’s exactly the question we asked Mike. Why? Well there are actually a range of valid reasons including personal challenges, a desire to get fit and not least of all, the fact that they are hoping to raise £20,000 for charity, including the St David’s Foundation.
We’re actually really proud of Mike for taking part and have every confidence that he’ll cross that finish line as planned. Although we didn’t think that when he first told us about the challenge because after he shared with us what he was about to do he quickly added, ‘I haven’t been on a bike since I was 11′. You can imagine the smirks in the studio!
But credit where credit is due, Mike has thrown himself into the challenge and has bought all the top-notch gear including, thankfully, a bike! He has also been training hard, so as a further sign of Bluegg’s support we have decided to sponsor the design for the challenge, creating an identity and website for Whose Bright Idea Was This?
We’re especially proud of this project because it focuses on user generated content, social media and interaction, resulting in a hub where followers, friends and families can get a snapshot of exactly how the challenge is going at any given time. The website includes a mile tracker, live Twitter stream, live photo gallery from Flickr, a blog and a live counter for money raised.
All of these will be updated from the saddle during the four days and you can also follow along on Twitter by following @whosebrightidea
If you’d like to help the guys hit their £20,000 target please donate on the Just Giving page. We’ll be promoting, supporting and following Mike and the 18 other riders throughout the challenge and our support will be rewarded with the greatest of gifts, a nice quite studio for 4 days whilst Mike is away!
Visit the website at www.whosebrightideawasthis.com
Good luck Mike (and all the other riders)!
Bluegg launches blue.gg – Our URL shortener
A few weeks ago we bought the domain blue.gg and started thinking about what we could do with it. After a couple of no-goers we decided to build our very own URL (Uniform Resource Locator) (website address, for the less nerdy among us!) shortener.
What’s a URL shortener we hear you ask?
Over the last couple of years Twitter, along with a couple of other tools, has become an increasingly popular way of communicating. One of the best things about Twitter is the fact that the user is limited to 140 characters per tweet. This is great because, in a world saturated by information, it allows people to read and write communications quickly whilst keeping details to a minimum.
The problem with this is, if you wanted to tell everyone about this lovely new mug you found on Amazon you’d need to give out this link – http://www.amazon.co.uk/Pantone-Mug-Duck-Blue-337C/dp/B002S0NSYA/ref=sr_1_2?ie=UTF8&qid=1295389510&sr=8-2 – bang goes 105 of those oh so precious little letters.
To solve this problem a number of websites popped up offering to shorten this link for you. All you have to do is paste in your long link and the site would produce a much smaller one for you.
Why build our own?
Sure, there’s a number of URL shorteners around, one of which we have used before now so we could have just continued using that for our tweets and messages. Why didn’t we? Well it’s simple – branding. After all, it’s what we do!
By building our own shortener, we can now use much smaller URL’s whilst reinforcing our name and brand. So instead of that super long link to those lovely mugs, we can just use this – blue.gg/T (only 9 little characters!)
Plus, when we build things, we don’t mess around. We had one mission – “To make the slickest URL shortener around”. And we think we did. We’ve kept it to the bare minimum, with just a text field to paste your long link into and a ‘Shrink’ button. No page reloads, no complicated options, just a pixel perfect and sexy user interface.
Who can use it?
Absolutely anyone and everyone! It’s completely free and we’re happy for anyone to use it to shorten their links. We keep no personal data, so we’re not planning to ring you up to sell you stuff. So if you’ve never used one before, or you just want to use the prettiest on the web just visit www.blue.gg and get shrinking!
New branding and website for Amanda Bolt Associates
In late 2010 Bluegg were approached by investor relations expert Amanda Bolt to help create a logo, brand style and CMS website for her new venture Amanda Bolt Associates (ABA).
Amanda has over 15 years experience of working for multinational companies in London, and during the last 11 years has worked in the specialist area of investor relations within UK corporate broking at Schroder Securities, Citigroup and most recently Evolution Securities.
Bluegg were asked to create a fresh and contemporary design style to reflect Amanda’s professional background whilst avoiding the clichés often used by big corporate companies.
We started by creating a bold logo for the abbreviation ABA, which is strong, stable and easily recognisable. The colour scheme of cool greens and blues was developed to symbolise balance, calmness and honesty; three qualities needed in an investor relations officer. Once the logo was finalised, the design style was applied to corporate stationery, report and document templates, and customised powerpoint slides.
The next stage of the project was the website. Amanda required a small but beautifully crafted site that she had complete control of. ABA offers services to large Plc organisations and SMEs so we suggested incorporating two separate blogs that could provide up-to-date information and news to both.
For the Content Management System (CMS) we opted for WordPress, a favourite of ours. WordPress is the world’s leading blogging platform and is easy to use whilst offering a range of powerful features.
The final part of the project was to set up and brand two Twitter accounts as a conversation platform for both target audiences. We provided training on social media and how best to use it and set up live feeds into the website.
Here’s what Amanda had to say – “As a small business, getting our brand and messaging right was very important. We were impressed that the team at Bluegg understood our business and translated it very quickly into the branding, the design of our website and use of social media. We would recommend Bluegg to anyone requiring a brand (new or refresh) and other communications materials.”
Although this was a small project, we had a blast working on it (we think Amanda did too!) It just goes to show – size isn’t always everything.
Visit the website at www.amandabolt.com