Monday 27 September 2010

Just a test

I’m just playing around with the Tweet Meme button. Mission accomplished- it works!


Diaspora (pronounced die-ass-pora) is the project of four New York geeks that I came across just recently. Their vision of a social network without the problems of giving away your personal data to big corporations, is something we should all really aspire to. But the only thing now is that Facebook is so huge now (over 400 million users and counting) that it might be difficult to encourage users to switch. But if it does stimulate a mass following, then it should bring change to an industry that really needs to take social networking privacy controls seriously.

Wednesday 8 September 2010

Google Instant Search – A to Z

The somewhat anticipated launch of Google’s latest enhancement has gone live today.  Google Instant Search is basically a progression on from the keyword suggestions which have been shown for some time to users as they type into the Google search box.  Instant Search takes this a  significant step further and actually updates the search results themselves as the user types.  Google say that this should reduce the average time taken to perform a search by between 2-5 seconds and thereby save Google/The World more than 3.5 billion seconds every day!

There have already been inevitable criticisms of this by those who decry the additional bandwidth this service requires (miniscule when compared with watching a Youtube rant on the same subject) and those who find the whole idea of change just too bewildering – how long before Time moans about it tomorrow?  For me, this is a very interesting development and makes the deep understanding of a particular target audience even more important in terms of optimising a website for search.

If you haven’t seen it already you should head over to Google to try it out or read a more detailed description (and watch a video) direct from the horse’s mouth.

Oh, and the A to Z?  Well an interesting exercise in vanity/brand awareness is looking at which websites are shown for each single letter of the alphabet.  I’ve seen a USA version but for your interest here is how it breaks down for the UK (for me at least, today).

A is for Argos N is for Next
B is for BBC O is for O2
C is for Currys P is for PayPal
D is for Debenhams Q is for QVC
E is for eBay R is for Rightmove
F is for Facebook S is for Sky
G is for Google Maps T is for Tesco
H is for (Hotmail) U is for Youtube
I is for ITV V is for Virgin Atlantic
J is for John Lewis W is for BBC Weather
K is for KLM X is for Xbox
L is for National Lottery Y is for Youtube
M is for MSN Z is for Zara

Tuesday 7 September 2010

Just a quick note…

Paul from The Drawing Board Team!Hello, this is just a quick post to show how very simple it is to upload a picture to a blog via your computer or phone. This post only took a couple of minutes, if that…

Friday 3 September 2010

Virus writers target smart phones.

android-logo It wasn’t that long ago I was having a discussion with friends about the future of computer viruses, and the general consensus was that the next big frontier in virus development would be smart phones. Back then we had phones like the Nokia 3310, but we’ve all moved on from small ‘block’ phones with few applications to ‘wafer thin’ smart phones that are in essence, small computers with sophisticated applications.

On the one hand its great for the companies that write software programs to remove and protect against this malicious software (or malware for short), but not so good for the millions of users who just purchased their new smart phone. This has got to be a concern for Google, with a fresh wave of virus writers targeting the popular Android OS. Check out this link to read more

Thursday 29 July 2010

Two Rare Occurrences

Well here’s a bit of a turn up, or rather two of them.

Firstly me (Jake) writing a blog post.  This hardly ever happens as I’m not a natural ‘blogger’ and can’t help but think that most people won’t be terribly interested in my thoughts and opinions and those that would be interested I generally seek out and rant (or enthuse) at.

Badge Anyway, the second rare occurrence is something very different in the world of music production.  We know about big record labels pouring millions into artists’ music with a consequential influence not unlike Steroids on a toddler.  We’ve also heard about about bands begging and borrowing to fund their own first tentative steps on the slippery music industry ladder but I’ve come across a third way which really took my fancy.

I really like the music of Emmy The Great (check her out on too) and subscribe to her email newsletter which is how I heard about something called Pledgemusic which she is using to raise money to fund her new album.

The concept is pretty simple and I think a great bridge between self finance and being owned by a record company.  As far as I can see it works like this…

  • The artist comes up with a series of things to sell (Pledges), these are fun and meaningful things which have an intrinsic value, ranging from a copy of the album as a CD or download when it’s released, postcards sent to you from each location on a tour, a guitar or song writing lesson with the band right through to a gig in your own front room.
  • You being a fan of the artist and keen on the success of the project (of course) buy up some of these pledges and so end up being a micro backer of the project.  You don’t own a slice of the band of course but then you have bought yourself a sweet limited edition poster or something so mustn’t complain.
  • Oh and also a slice of the money goes to charity too.  In this specific case Amnesty, Wateraid, Samaritan’s Purse and the Enough Project.

The idea of losing the middle man – record companies and distributors appeals to me.  As much as what they do might serve a purpose I can’t help but think that the main relationship here lies between the artist who wants to make music and have people love that music and the music listener who also wants that.  Yes if the album never gets made and Emmy skips off to Brazil with a few thousand pounds we’ll all be fuming but then if she wanted easy money she may has well have sold her soul to a big fat record label.

I’m looking forward to seeing how this goes and can’t help but thing it’s a concept that has a boatload of potential.

Check out the project here and see what you think.

Tuesday 6 July 2010

So much more than a pair of sneakers!

season of sneakers JTL is a man obsessed with sneakers. With over 90 pairs and a website to showcase them, people started to ask JTL questions, and not just about sneakers but totally random topics too, most of which don’t have anything to do with his huge collection. Its funny really, what started out as an outlet for his obsession has transformed into a centre  where people can get advice on topics like fruit and veg, sports and life choices! And some of the advice is pretty good too! Its great! Check it out here.

Wednesday 30 June 2010

Part 2: An Applied Social Media Strategy.

asocialmediastrategy Hello everybody I know it’s a few months late, but in this post I will look at how a well considered strategy is working for a business, and where it might be improved. This is the second part, following on from An Introduction to Social Media, so if you missed the first part and want to have a look, click here.

The Business

The business I’m looking at is called Luminaire, it’s a live music venue based in London. They actually utilise social media very well, and thus I have decided to use it as a case study. As a business they:

- Provide a venue for live music events (with catering service/ bar facilities).

- Sell tickets for those events.

- Sell music, related media and merchandise.

Their Approach

Luminaire harness social networking and sharing sites as part of a strategy which promotes bands/ artists, stimulates ticket sales, and sells music and similar merchandise. Their approach incorporates:

- Twitter. Luminaire use Twitter to inform followers of the latest bands that will be playing and the popularity of ticket sales. It is also used to share information about music and related merchandise they are selling. They have also used it as a vehicle to conduct a survey to identify their customer base more clearly, in terms of where they live and how they travel to get to a music event at Luminaire.

- Song Kick. Again, Luminaire use it well to promote the business, its location, forthcoming bands and videos/ pictures of the latest events. Song Kick is a highly appropriate social media site for Luminaire; which is important when considering what social media to use for your business.

We haven’t previously covered Song Kick so if you are not sure what it is, it’s a site where you can track and receive updates on live music events, and buy tickets.

- MySpace. Luminaire’s MySpace page is really a vehicle for advertising upcoming shows and interacting with their customers, business associates and artists. Its good for keeping in touch with them and, gives people visiting the MySpace page a real insight into what people think of the venue by their comments; whether they are positive or negative!

- Facebook. Similar to MySpace, in that they can promote events, show customer comments on their ‘wall’ and display photos of the latest gigs! Again the comments of people that have been to the Luminaire carry real weight and will encourage others to visit.

- Last FM. is a popular internet radio site for music. Luminaire has a profile, and each track it plays lets other users know something about what it likes. It allows Luminaire to recommend songs from their music collection to other users, as well as promoting its business venue and forthcoming events.

What can be taken from their strategy?

Strength in Numbers. Luminaire make use of a wide range of social sites, this is important as with more sites they have a greater presence on the internet and are more likely to drive people to their site.

The Right Kind. They have used the right sorts of social networking and sharing sites to reach the right target audience of people that will use their venue. For another company however, like Mole Valley Farmers, a retailer of agricultural supplies this strategy would not work because they are not in the music industry. So, the types of social media site you choose to incorporate into your strategy should be well thought out!

It Achieves Goals. It promotes bands/ artists, stimulates ticket sales, and sells music and related merchandise. This is reflected by their followers on Twitter, MySpace and Facebook.

What can be done better? This is a tricky one, as they currently operate a fairly sound strategy, and any improvements are certainly open to interpretation! Here is some food for thought… they currently use a lot of the mainstream social media sites. Tapping into some of the less conventional social media sites may offer opportunities to reach more niche groups; but this should be weighed up against the time and energy that goes into them. They need to publish content that is attractive and engaging. With an estimated 2.5 million tweets a day on Twitter alone, uploading content regularly that is interesting and often controversial will not only attract visitors but will work to engage them.

Where do I go from here?

Well you should begin by following this formula:

  1. Identify the community you want to target. Think about the community you want to target. What is their age range, income range (and likely disposable income), their profession, gender and geographic location? These are just some of the questions you might want to ask. Another important question- Are my customers computer literate? If the majority are not or do not tend to use computers, then maybe a more traditional form of media is better for your business.
  2. Define your objectives. So identify what it is that you want to achieve, and I don’t just mean make more money! While the profit motive will probably be your overall aim, increasing the quality and quality of traffic (i.e. the right sort of people and in large numbers) to your site, or promoting awareness of your brand are more interim targets.
  3. Allocate Resources. Whilst social media networks and sharing sites are free, the effort that goes into putting a plan into action will cost money. So budgeting for training and labour costs is sensible.
  4. Consider your social media platform(s). Here you need to consider your approach. Do you really need a MySpace account, or would a blog and Twitter account do the job more effectively?
  5. Instigate your plan of action. Don’t let all that planning go to waste, get out there and make it happen! It’s important to remember that a social media strategy is not successful over night; it may take time to build interest in your FaceBook page, blog, twitter account, MySpace page or whatever else you use. So hang in there and generate interesting content. In the words of Kevin Costner ‘if you build it they will come.’

Final Thoughts.

Plan Plan Plan! Follow the method above, to layout what your strategy will do. Don’t waste time on social sites which are related to your business (i.e. If you sell farming supplies, the Last FM probably isn’t for your business).

Spend money to make money. If you only have a small amount of time and money to spend, you need to factor that into your strategy. As generating content, writing posts or engaging with an online community takes time, which is expensive, especially if you employ someone to do it.

Social media isn’t for everyone! Not all businesses will find a social media strategy conducive to achieving their business targets (i.e. their target audience do not tend to use the internet regularly, or are not following the latest developments via Twitter or Facebook, or networking through Linked In).

Social Media competes with other forms of communication. Social Media competes with other forms of communication such as talking face-to-face and traditional media like TV, radio and newspapers. It is therefore not always the best medium for communication as other more established forms may do the job better! Social media is great for real-time news events but again competes with mainstream media like BBC News 24.

Monday 24 May 2010

Miller Countrywide plumb new depths of crass marketing desperation

You have to hand it to these estate agents’ marketing departments for their pathetic attempts to commoditise the property market and stimulate sales. Previous campaigns such as “buy one get one free” (for flats in various places) and Stratton Creber’s “End of year Sale” have now been out performed in totally crassness by Miller Countrywide who seem to think that sellers will be motivated to put their houses up with them so they can get-in on a viewing weekend to stimulate sales before the World Cup starts…

Obviously the same marketing manager, probably from an FMCG background, has been moving between these companies with his “new” ethos… “it’s just like selling fish fingers mate… you just got to tell them what to do… trust me I'm a marketer”…

Anyways nothing is more likely to make me blog than the total stupidity of a marketing campaign, and the national estate agents seem to be winning on goal difference.

Miller Countrywide's latest stupidity

Football dates

Wednesday 12 May 2010

Reduced plant diversity linked to bee numbers

Our insect friends need help!

I’ve been reading in the news about how the population of honey bees has been in decline in Europe and the US. It’s not a new story but there have been some interesting developments lately. Scientists have had trouble pinning down exactly why the bees are dying… until just recently that is. An article on the BBC news website says that the decline of bees may be linked to reduced plant diversity. If what they say is true, then it’s up to us to grow a more diverse range of plants, and surely it should be a priority since we rely on bees to play their part in pollinating certain plants so we can grow crops to eat. In any event, it would be good to see more varieties of plants out in the countryside, rather than just the typical staple crops and other fruits and vegetables grown to sell in the supermarkets. People that grow a range of flora in their gardens are creating an oasis of diversity for our insect friends; a garden with an artificially maintained pristine green lawn (like the ones you see on TV) and a few select shrubs on the other hand, might look good, but it’s pretty lacking in its variety of plant life. So everyone with a garden can do something! The farmers have got to play their part, so I guess we’ll wait and see what happens on that one. I suppose I could stereotype them into a group who get big subsidies (especially in France) and don’t give a monkey’s about the environment. But that would be unfair to the environmentally conscious ones out there. And they get money from the EU for doing environmentally friendly things on their land, so if a few more bob from the EU would help save the bees, then I think it would be worth doing.

Tuesday 11 May 2010

Sonic 2D is back!

Sonic the Hedgehog 4 is gonna rock! If you’re a bit of a geek, and loved to play your Mega Drive back in the mid 90s, then you will remember Sonic the Hedgehog! I remember spending hours as a kid running through these levels, collecting rings and chaos emeralds, and saving little woodland creatures captured by Dr Robotnik (who had seemed to have flipped his noodle at some point and decided to take over the world). Sonic 1, 2 and 3, had great game play but the later 3D versions were kind of lame. So if you preferred the 2D versions too, then you’ll be pleased to hear that Sega recently announced that a new 2D sonic game ‘Sonic 4’ is going to be released later in 2010 and will be available via the PlayStation Network, Xbox Live Arcade and Wii Ware. This is some real retro gaming folks and even if you’re not a keen gamer it’s definitely worth a look.

Tuesday 27 April 2010

the end of an era

welcome to the 21st century my friends- floppy disks are out After 30 years as a mainstream form of data storage the floppy disk is now being killed off. Following on from other manufacturers like Apple who dropped it in 1998 and Dell in 2003, Sony is the latest to stop producing floppy disks. Its not surprising really, as you can store more information for a fraction of the cost on a USB drive or a CD. So if you are still fiddling around with floppys then its probably time to upgrade!

Friday 23 April 2010

Latest Developments on Facebook

Facebook has recently developed a 'like' button for any website In its latest step to make the web social, Facebook seems to be putting things in place to become like a nerve centre of all websites. They are equipping a web of sites with a simple ‘like’ button. They can be easily presented on any site, so it will undoubtedly become an endemic part of websites. Users can click to show they like something like a movie, blog post, or a restaurant. And this data will be shared with others friends of that user.

By gathering information on your ‘likes’ and other personal details, Facebook can build a social profile. I’m not clear about how much of this information is used by companies when directing advertising to you, obvious ones like location, age, gender, relationships, languages, likes and interests and education are utilised. Companies don’t have direct access to that raw data, but can ask Facebook to target an advertising campaign at users with a particular profile.

It seems to me that Facebook is transforming into a real money making machine, and a highly successful one at that. If a Facebook user clicked ‘like’ on a pair of sunglasses on an online shop, and then other friends of that user saw this and declared that they also liked those sunglasses; then it does two things: 1) it generates interest in a product(s) and its website; 2) it may result in more sales of that product. So this could be good news for online shops and sellers.

With this big drive towards omnipresent social connectivity, it might be easy to forget that Facebook remains a privacy minefield. And after browsing news stories it seems that many users are voicing their concerns about the use of their privacy details on Facebook, and with good reason. It would be easier for me if they simplified their privacy controls so that they are retard proof!

Wednesday 21 April 2010

Just an average guy?

Its Warren Buffett This is an unusual post but one I hope you will enjoy all the same. We live in a society that is driven by consumerism. Many of us own expensive cars, mobile phones, DVD players and other gadgets (that are often so cheap to make that if they break we can just throw them away and buy new ones with little concern for the environment). And it’s no surprise that the super rich take this consumerism a step further with mansions, yachts, sports cars and other symbols of extravagance. So if I told you that one of the richest men on the planet lives modestly in an ordinary American suburban house, drives a good used car and goes to work each day on the 14th floor of an office block, would you stand up and take notice? Well I certainly did. This man is Warren Buffett. He runs a company called Berkshire Hathaway, which is worth $150 billion.

Tuesday 13 April 2010

Part 1: An Introduction to Social Media

facebook can be beneficial to your business What is it?

Social media is an internet based platform that can be used by anyone to share and publish information (text, pictures, videos and music) and communicate (socialise and make new friends).

What can it do?

With over 400 million people using Facebook alone, the reach of social media in a commercial sense is huge, and can be used as part of a well-considered online marketing strategy. Social media can help your business by:

1. Generating interest in a new or existing product/ service.

2. Enabling you to interact with your target audience to assess their wants and needs.

3. Enhancing the quality and quantity of inbound traffic to your site (as part of an optimisation strategy).

Social media is an increasingly popular past time for many of us and has huge potential for commercial gain. So I would recommend incorporating it into your business model.

How can it work for my business?

When creating a social media strategy, there is no one-size-fits all template that can be created for your business. A strategy should be tailored to your business and its target audience. For example, an online clothes retailer would not apply the same plan as a media production company, because they both offer different services to different clients. I will discuss how a plan should be formulated in greater detail in part 2, but it is important to remember that some social media sites are aimed at particular groups of people while others are more appealing to a broader spectrum of people.

What types of social media are out there?

Essentially, there are three different types of social media which can be harnessed for commercial gain:

1. Publishing

One of the most effective ways of using social media to promote your business is through publishing content. You can publish content in the form of text, images and videos. There are a variety of mainstream social media sites conducive whose sole purpose is publishing content, and the great thing is anyone can publish information that can be read by anyone anywhere. Here are a few:

Flickr is an image and video hosting website. The site is used by over 4 billion people to share and embed personal photographs. It also has an online community which maybe useful to engage with users and develop contacts. Flickr is often integrated with blogs and social media sites like Facebook, to host images which are embedded in blogs and social media sites.

Youtube is a video hosting site where you can upload and share videos. It’s a great way to reach a wide range of people with video blogging short videos. There are many other types of publishing content, but that was some food for thought!

2. Sharing

The name says it all. Sharing social media sites are about sharing information with others. Here are a few.

Twitter is an information network, updated in real time by users all over the world. Users publish short snippets of information called ‘tweets’ which can be read by people following them. It is a useful way of sharing and discovering what is going on in the world now, and it’s not just for celebrities or ego-maniacs! Anyone can do it.

Stumbleupon is an intelligent add-on to your web browser which is used for sharing web sites. The Stumble Upon community submits and votes on web pages and then people visit based on the number of votes, so it can be a useful vehicle to promote your website. But getting a lot of votes is undoubtedly a challenge!

3. Networking

Networking forms are probably the most advantageous social media vehicle, with an incredible reach in terms of engaging directly with your target market, promoting goods and services, and advertising. So here are a few mainstream social networks, of real interest:

Bebo was until recently predominantly used by school kids and college goers. But in more recent times, there has been a shift by users toward Facebook. Hence Bebo, has seen a decline in its business and is expected to have the plug pulled on it by its parent company AOL.

Linked In has been used by businesses and professionals to network, it can be a great place to meet people in your industry or others in business that are of help or who are looking to purchase a product or service your business provides. It could be well worth signing up to investigate the possibilities for your company.

Myspace was on a similar level to Facebook and Bebo at one time, used by school kids and university students, but is now mostly used to promote music bands and artists. So not as powerful in a commercial sense as it used to be, but has still got advertising potential.

Facebook has traditionally been used by university students and young adults, but has now developed a much larger user base. Many of the kids that used to use Bebo, now use Facebook, so there has been a significant transition. Facebook now stands as the most powerful player in social networking, and has massive potential for businesses. I often encourage people to use Facebook to network with friends and customers, promote products and services and advertise to particular socio-economic groups.

That’s about it! Keep your eyes peeled for part 2 where we will look at how a refined strategy is being used by a business, how well it is being done and what can be done better.

Thursday 8 April 2010

Bebo’s days are numbered…

Bebo is going down, so whos next If you weren’t hot on the heels of the latest developments in the social networking industry, then you might not of heard that the popular UK based social networking site, Bebo, is in decline and it’s parent company, AOL, doesn’t want  to invest to turn the business around. Facebook is going from strength to strength, so this has got to be a bit of a kick in the stomach for AOL, who purchased Bebo for $850 million in 2008. The problems that Bebo faces, could be indicative of a long decline in social networking sites that aren’t at the top of the pack. So if you’re not a market leader like Facebook, with lots of users, I presume fewer firms will want to spend money to advertise with you and therefore your revenues will go down. With the rise of Facebook and the decline of others like Bebo, could this well be a new period of dissolution and consolidation in the social media industry?

Monday 29 March 2010

Here comes the future!

Wow its a 3D laptop With the development of 3D technology and the success of 3D films, most notably Avatar, it was almost inevitable that 3D would be developed for other digital platforms. 3D laptops are the latest step in the development of 3D technology, following on from blu-ray players and movies at the cinema. Acer and Asus have models in production, both of which are impressive bits of kit.

I went to see Avatar 3D at the cinema, and it was a pretty amazing experience, but with a lack of content to read, watch and interact with it seems as though 3D laptops still have a way to go. Check out Edward Baig’s article on USA Today for details on the current state of 3D laptop technology. There are plans to develop 3D websites, but its still early days. For us here at the Drawing Board this is very exciting and something we will be looking into! Watch this space.

Monday 22 March 2010

Miller Brown Shop Fitting and Retail Design

MillerBrown-webshot We recently finished a site for Miller Brown, a Yorkshire based firm which specialise in shop fitting and retail design. They are very experienced with over 50 years in the business and do fittings for high-street stores, out-of-town retailers and golf retailers. It’s a great site so go check it out!

Tuesday 2 March 2010

The Griffin has launched!

The Griffin Inn Pub Hotel If you were expecting a story about some sort of mythical bird spreading its wings and flying off into the sunset then this post would be a bit of a surprise! But a good surprise all the same! We have just finished building a site for Steve Amor over at The Griffin Inn Pub Hotel in Newquay. The site focuses on promoting the business and generating bookings for accommodation, business functions and golf breaks.

Thursday 14 January 2010

Test Blog Post

This is a test post to show Tim how easy it is to create and maintain blog posts using Google Docs.

You can also add extra content and re-publish without having to first delete the original post.