So, you all know how to use the various URL shorteners out there to produce a cute little web address that won’t gobble up too many of Twitter’s 140 characters. Well, take a trip over to Google’s URL Shortener at https://goo.gl/ and we’ll show you how it can do more.
So much more.
Firstly, make sure you are signed into your Google account, or if you don’t have one, now is the time to sign up.
Now, paste a URL you want to shorten and click the ‘Shorten URL’ button. You now have your space saving web address. But don’t just use it for Twitter, use it in your Facebook posts, embed it in your marketing emails and your blog posts. In fact anywhere where you don’t need to display the full address, or can embed it.
Because you see that column on the right that says ‘Clicks’? That keeps a real-time track of how many people have clicked on your link. Useful that, isn’t it?
But it gets better. Click on ‘Details’ and you are presented with the kind of information you get with Google Analytics – clicks over time, where the clicks have come from (Facebook, Twitter etc), the browsers they came from and on what platform, and whereabouts in the World they were.
When global cloud communications provider Nexmo were planning their move to funky new offices in Shoreditch, London’s very own Silicon Valley, there was one dark cloud on the horizon. Well, a large grey one actually. Their rather drab kitchen fridge.
Vinyl wrapping a fridge was a first for us as this process is, as I previously mentioned, more commonly seen on vehicles out on the roads. If designed well, vinyl wrapping is an extremely powerful and cost effective way to advertise your business. Whether you have a large fleet of cars, vans and lorries, or just a single vehicle (or a fridge!) that you want to stand out from the crowd, we can create the perfect design for your business.
During the past two months I have sat in on social media and sales training seminars; explored the devastation in Nepal; chatted with a voice over artist in South Carolina who gave me a tour of his studio and recorded a couple of radio adverts while I watched; starred at my iPad in disbelief as John Travolta obliged when someone at an event he was attending asked him to say hi to me; chatted with the Sex Pistol’s Steve Jones whilst he was getting his hair cut; watched the sun rise in New York and North Korea, and set again in Beijing and Paris; as well as witnessing barely concealed narcissism from more than a few ordinary folk desperate for their 15 minutes and who now have armies of fans hanging on their every word.
All kind of weird, but at the same time rather cool too.
Yes, Periscope is here. Kim Kardashian may have boasted her ass broke the Internet, but that ain’t nothing on this app. Simply put, Periscope lets you use your smartphone’s camera to broadcast a live video stream, and allows others with the app to watch your stream and post comments and questions. And, of course, they can broadcast their own streams too. If some of your followers miss your broadcast, fear not, the app has the option to let you save your videos on the Periscope servers for 24 hours, making them available for catch-up viewing by your followers. And if you are particularly proud of any of your video creations you can even save them in your phone’s camera roll.
Launched just over two months ago by Twitter, who bought the app from its developers back in February before they had even finished building it, Periscope has enormous potential for marketers and businesses. It may still be in its infancy, but celebrities, politicians and businesses are already experimenting with new ways to use this exciting social media platform. Disney’s theme parks in California and Florida already have enthusiastic Periscopers roaming the parks broadcasting live streams from the various rides and shows, and I have no doubt that it won’t be long before many tourist attractions follow suit with their own official Periscopers. Pop star Katy Perry used Periscope to promote her Epix concert movie by broadcasting the event to her army of fans around the world, an event that must have been like a shockwave to traditional media, opening the door as it did for artists to use it to instantly share breaking news and debut new songs, bypassing them altogether.
That said, the media are also embracing in their own way too, with many television news services around the world already using the app to stream live news content with minimal effort, including a recent White House press conference, reporters in Baltimore mixing with protesters broadcasting live ‘as it happens’ streams, and television reporters across the UK streaming live from events as they break. In another new development, only yesterday the British Museum jumped on board with television presenter Dan Snow, who also has his own Periscope channel, broadcasting a live tour of its current Defining Beauty: The Body in Ancient Greek Art exhibition.
This is all well and good I hear you say, but how can I harness this new platform to access my own audience? Here are a few ideas:
Getting Up Close and Personal
Vloggers are taking to Periscope in their droves. Having previously pioneered the concept of presenting their content in video form they can now interact with their audience too. In the UK Alex Pettitt is Periscoping daily shows offering tips and advice to users of the app; ‘down under’ in Australia travel vlogger and photographer Dan Moore quickly embraced Periscope as a powerful channel to reach out with to his audience in real time; whilst over in the USA Periscope has made a global star of LA based illustrator Amanda Oleander and allowed ‘Bradman’ to escape the confines of his hugely popular BradmanTV YouTube channel, with fans old and new now following almost every second of his life in real time. Of more interest to businesses, Miami based motivational speaker and sales expert Grant Cordone is using the app to reach out to Periscopers around the world, interacting with them and offering free advice, whilst drawing them into his website to sell them his books, videos and training courses. The potential for businesses and lifestyle coaches to find new customers through Periscope is enormous because your broadcast literally has the potential to go viral. Yes really.
Periscope allows customers and prospects to take a behind the scenes look at your business, tour your place of work, and see your team in action. Are you working on a particular project you want to share with the world? Employing a skill or process you want to show off? Viewers can ask questions and provide live feedback “could you show me how that works again?” “what happens if…?” You can do this at a moment’s notice, in real time, without the delay of having to edit it before you can upload it to your website, YouTube, Facebook or write a blog post about it. As I write an estate agent in St Neots, Cambridgeshire has just made the news for pioneering Periscoping home viewings and streaming open house events.
Meet the Team
Are you the face of your business? Do you have a hardworking and dedicated team behind you? Now you can be so much more than just Facebook posts and 141 characters on Twitter. Your personalities can now really shine and let you interact with a wider audience. Do you have ‘dress down Fridays’ and end of week staff drinks and get-togethers? Now you can invite your customers and prospects to virtually join in too.
Webinars and Seminars
At times it can make sense to broadcast and engage with an audience in real-time, but formal webinars and seminars can take time and resources to plan, organise and coordinate. Periscope simplifies this, and all your audience needs to be a part of it is a smartphone, a wifi connection or a 3G signal. You can even log in from a PC. Periscope broadcasts can be made private to invitees, or open to anyone, and the app links to your Twitter account, allowing you to tweet when your event begins, and continue to handle feedback when it has ended.
Live group support and Q&A sessions
Often, when a new product, update, or service is launched the customer support team receives an influx of support requests. Responding to these can be time consuming and repetitive. With Periscope, scheduled Q&A sessions can be promoted and broadcast, with customers who join in receiving real time help and advice to resolve their issues and problems, and watch demonstrations of new product features. You can even crowdsource for immediate feedback “what do you think of this product, idea or upgrade?” Your customers are vital to your business, and now you really make them feel like a part of the family.
Periscope really is a game changer, as I hope my ideas above have demonstrated, so what plans do you have to use it in your business?
Social media has made an enormous difference not only to our personal lives, but to our business lives too. It has opened many new doors, created countless new opportunities, and brought people into our lives who we might never have known without it.
In the 21st century we keep in contact with our friends and family on Facebook without having to send them a letter or pop round to see them because their timelines inform us of how they are doing, their latest news, where they are on holiday, and even a picture of their dinner. LinkedIn updates us about their job and career achievements, whist their tweets provide minute by minute updates about what they are watching on television and what they think about it, their battle with insomnia, their morning wasted waiting in for a delivery… the list really is infinite!
From a business perspective social media really has been a game changer. By making the world more accessible it has indeed made it a smaller place. With Facebook and Twitter we can build an audience of potential customers, alongside our existing ones, who have opted in to receive our messages. Yes, opted in. Now we don’t have to place our marketing messages in places where we hope our target market will see them… television, newspapers, leaflet holders in hotels and supermarkets, bus backs et al, now we can deliver them directly to their Facebook walls and Twitter feeds. And even better still, we can finely tune our Facebook advertising to pick the exact demographic that we want to reach, right down to targeting fans of our competitors. How’s that for accurate marketing? And, as if that isn’t clever enough, you can run a Facebook campaign to drive people to your website, where a Facebook pixel will capture their information so that with your next campaign you can specifically target people who have visited your website…
You can run but you can’t hide!
So this is all good, yes? From the above how could you disagree? A new, smaller world which is easier to reach out to and engage with. What could possibly go wrong? Well it comes at a price, and that price is that too many businesses think that ‘getting out there’ on the Internet will be all it takes. It’s what I call the Field of Dreams Syndrome ‘If you build it they will come’ where a business has a snazzy new website created by a skinny jeaned and Conversed up team of directional haired young web developers working out of an industrial chic studio with bare brickwork and dangling light bulbs that could double up as a trendy wine bar in the evenings, and a Facebook page and Twitter account that “I run myself rather than pay someone because I like to keep my hand in…” What you mean mate is you just enjoy doing it, you only have half an idea what you are doing, it passes the time and is a bit of contact with the outside world. And for some this is just dandy and they enjoy great success, but for others it becomes a never-ending cycle of lots of enthusiastic ‘likes’ on their posts but little in the way of enquiries and new business. Sadly, for many, the art of picking up the phone and calling a hot prospect, or even an existing customer who has been a bit quiet for a while, and actually speaking to them, has been lost, or in many cases has never been developed, and possibly never will be.
There’s a lot to be said for kickin’ it old skool sometimes… rocking up at a company you would love to do business with, asking for the name of the person you need to speak to, then leaving a brochure and your business card for them with the message that you will call them in a day or two. It doesn’t hurt, it does actually work, and it gets you away from the computer and out in the fresh air for a change. Then, when you’ve left your comfort zone, hit some networking events, but don’t just turn up once and expect to go back to the office with a hat full of orders, it doesn’t work like that. Keep going, get to know your fellow networkers and build relationships with them because you never know, once you’ve earned their trust some of them may want to do business with you, and even better, every man and woman amongst them knows other people they might just recommend you to.
In conclusion then, social media is an amazing tool for businesses to harness, and harness it they must, but it ain’t the be all and end all. It’s just one activity out of many we should be undertaking to grow our businesses.