Constructivism inspired illustration about unfollowing inactive Twitter accounts

Lessons from unfollowing inactive Twitter accounts

July 27, 2021

Over the past few days I’ve been cleaning up my Twitter profile. One change is a clear-out of the people I follow: I’ve been unfollowing accounts that are no longer active. What’s the point of following someone who said nothing in the past 3 months? Or five years?

Long ago Twitter blocked tools that would automatically unfollow, so I’ve been going through the 700+ inactive accounts by hand. Thankfully there’s Circleboom to do the heavy lifting for me and pick out the potentially dead accounts. This is what I found.

Constructionist image of a skyscraper reaching up towards a red circle

Skyscraper articles: an essential tool for small business marketing

May 3, 2021

Scoring a high rank on a search engine can have a profound effect on your site's traffic. Highly placed content attracts more visitors, expands the sales funnel and drives sales. As you talk to SEO experts you'll hear them talk about keyword density and on and off page Search Engine Optimisation. At some point you'll hear about a content marketing technique called "The Skyscraper" that promises to leapfrog your competitors by building on their success.

In this post I'm going to take a tour of the Skyscraper Technique. I'll outline what it is, how to build your own skyscraper content and ways to promote it. By the end you'll have a better understanding of what it is, how to use it and what results you can expect.

Quote: SEM has a more immediate effect that makes it appealing for product sales and timely content

Search engine marketing: a guide for small business

April 26, 2021

In December 2019, I published a report on how retailers design their mobile product pages. Within two weeks, over 300 people had viewed it, and several of these visitors had become leads. Search Engine Marketing drove this traffic, a set of techniques that short-cut the long-term organic growth of SEO for something more immediate.

This article summarizes Search Engine Marketing (SEM). It compares it with SEO, sets out four elements needed for success and how it can form part of a content marketing campaign.

Graphic of an editorial calendar with all entries completed

The Editorial Calendar: a focus for consistent, high quality content

April 22, 2021

Modern marketing demands a steady stream of content for blogs, social media and newsletters. Eager to deliver, marketers charge into the fray, determined to write 1,000 words of high-quality content each day. Overwhelmed by the task, most will fall by the wayside until their efforts dwindle to nothing, and content marketing is declared a failure.

Yet there are real benefits to content that many are exploiting. They produce regular features and articles readers enjoy, which generates new leads and customers. Far from the chaos of blogging, these successes often come with disciplined management and an approach closer to traditional publishing.

Two women walking along a path in Japan underneath cherry blossom. One is wearing a kimono

A tale of cherry blossom: what sakura can teach you about marketing

April 20, 2021

After 3 years of false starts, we finally got to see Sakura in Kyoto. It was an odd experience, one filled with personal joy at moving to Japan; edged with regret for those who, for the second year, did not get to see such a glorious sight.

The sight of cherry blossom bursting into life across Japan is beautiful. For all the talk of “Cherry Blossom Parties”, celebrities standing on bridges looking at awe and random photos on social media, nothing can prepare you for the shock of seeing it for the first time.

A woman holds her mobile phone while her friend looks at her screen. They are both laughing.

Mobile product pages in fashion retail: a review

April 19, 2021

There’s no doubt 2020 had a profound impact on online shopping. As stores and high streets closed, many shoppers flocked to the websites of their favourite fashion retailer. Overall sales were down, yet online’s volume and share increased.

It is inevitable online shopping won’t go away. More than a third of fashion retail is online, and some have reported over half their sales happen on a mobile phone. This picture of consumers using their phone to shop makes a mobile friendly website as important to a small fashion retailer as having a phone or a way to take payment by card.

When influencers steal your content

April 16, 2021

"Sarah" was surprised to see her tweet go viral. It was gathering likes, comments and reshares from thousands of fans. New connections and opportunities should have come her way – had her name been attached to it.

She was a victim of an increasingly common occurrence: copyright theft. An influencer had copied her words and passed them off as her own. Now the influencer was claiming credit and boosting their profile for their "insight". When challenged, Sarah was blocked. It could have been worse had the thief turned their fans against her.

A camera on a table next to a macbook with photos on the screen

A guide to using Stock Photography in your content marketing

April 15, 2021

Images are an integral part of content marketing. They appear at the top of blog posts, teasing the visitor to read on. Sometimes they're found further down the page, adding context or breaking up longer copy. Social media is awash with photographs of smiling people, panoramic vistas and carefully crafted graphics. These photographs and illustrations demand our attention, and sometimes we're willing to oblige.

Creating a unique photo for each blog post would be a full-time job. Fortunately, there are ways you can short-cut this process and use work that's already created. This is the "stock photograph", an image that's ready for you to use. All you need do is agree to a few terms, possibly pay a fee, and you can use it in your next piece of content marketing. At least, that's the theory.

A selection of gift cards on a display

The forgotten art of giving gifts to customers

April 12, 2021

A couple of weeks ago I bought a car. Long story short, after hitting my head on the way out of a Suzuki Alto, I now own a Hustler. I’m happy with both it and the dealer who sold it to me.

After walking through all the safety features, how to turn the thing on, where the cup holders are and getting a new battery for the door remote, the general manager presented my wife with a bouquet. Though they’re starting to fade, they’re still holding on. Regular water changes and a prime spot in a south facing window are no doubt helping.

A simple colour wheel on a rainbow background

Colour: how to choose the right colours with your designer

April 8, 2021

Recommendations about the colour to use in your brand can seem a little arbitrary. Sometimes the mix "just works" and you don't know why. Or the designer suggests using a slightly different variation on your brand for this specific design. Maybe the mix of colours doesn't "feel" quite right.

You can easily dismiss these ideas as "designer's ego".

Two portraits of the same woman side by side, one in a professional dress, the other in a casual sweater

How to prepare for your corporate profile photo

April 7, 2021

Even a camera-shy photographer like me needs a headshot. They're an essential part of the modern business landscape and appear everywhere. From the security pass around your neck to a LinkedIn profile or a profile aimed at attracting clients, your photograph is ubiquitous. While you might get away with a selfie on social media, a professionally taken headshot is usually a minimum to achieve any kind of PR coverage.

Many of us don’t enjoy having our photograph taken. We find it uncomfortable and awkward. We worry about looking foolish and the images never look right. Much of that is to do with our own self-image and we’re used to seeing ourselves reversed in a mirror.

Detail of The Great Wave by Hokusai from a printed book

Hokusai: a lesson in reinvention

April 4, 2021

The Great Wave is one of the most iconic images to emerge from Japan. Produced in the early 19th Century, Hokusai's block print of a wave crashing over fishing boats with Mount Fuji looking on, has been endlessly reproduced and adapted. It has appeared in arenas as diverse as serene gallery exhibitions, explosive TV adverts and the ubiquitous mobile phone cover. Nor have reproductions been faithful, as it is often twisted and turned to suit whatever political, social or commercial need is required.

This was the work of an artist at his height of his powers. Born in Edo in 1760, Hokusai carved a long career from his art. His is a diverse portfolio, embracing delicate studies of nature and amusing illustrations in popular novels.

A man and a woman looking at a book together

How to use employees in your content marketing

March 31, 2021

Using photographs of employees can add some authenticity to marketing. Showing those who answer the phones or make the products you sell gives people reassurance there’s a real business behind the website. If you’re tempted to grab your phone and snap shots around the office, hold that thought. There are legal, privacy and practical issues you need to address before you can start.

All businesses can feel a little detached and inhuman. Using employees shows there is a human side to the business. Staff working with customers, or pictured in their workplace, adds a little depth to the mountains of posed stock photographs the internet is awash with.

Two women walking along a path in Japan underneath cherry blossom. One is wearing a kimono

Spring is here: cue lots of content about spring cleaning

March 25, 2021

Spring is here and it is time for clichés to appear. Expect to see many blog posts and Tweets about blossoming, cleaning and rebirth. All are well meaning, some may be genuinely insightful. Yet they’ll feel tired and overdone by the time you’ve finished reading the third “Spring Clean Your Content” article.

Despite knowing it’s a cliché and corny, we still do it. We reach for the photographs of blossoming trees and spring flowers coming to life. We try to weave a narrative that starts with “spring is here” and ends with “buy our stuff”. Who can blame us when the pressure to churn out content is so relentless and sometimes the low hanging fruit is too tempting?