Archive | December, 2013

What’s ahead for 2014?

I’m writing this blog entry on the 27th of December from the upper floor of a stone cottage, looking out over the fields and hills of North Devon. On arrival, we were teased by a sticker on the kitchen wall with a wifi code, but so far this combination of letters and numbers has not enabled any sort of viable connection to the internet. Yesterday, in Dartmoor, I couldn’t even log into FourSquare to say I was there.

Husband and child in Dartmoor on Boxing Day. Resolution for 2014 is to take photos of things – such as the view from the cottage – that I actually write about in my blog posts.

Husband and child in Dartmoor on Boxing Day. Spectacular views but no internet access.

While I know that this entry can be synced via Evernote later and posted to the blog later still, I’m used to an immediate, fast internet connection these days. As such, the times without it – the hours travelling north on the train, the week my husband and daughter had to connect at Australian internet cafes, this Christmas without Skype – seem somehow unnatural. It’s hard to remember that, in the grand scheme of things, even the web is new.

For now though, the sun is unexpectedly shining, the child is unexpectedly sleeping, and I’m sitting atop a very high four poster bed thinking about all that’s to come in 2014.

We’ve got the launch of two websites on Taskforce Digital’s schedule for January already: one in WordPress, one in Shopify. I’ve quickly set up this blog using Woothemes’ Canvas, which seems to be fairly flexible in getting the basics of the site layout done. Now I’m looking forward to trying out the portfolio and testimonials modules, and to using the Woothemes framework for a new client site. Perhaps later in the year, I’ll look into Woocommerce as an e-commerce platform as well, but for now, I’m happy on Shopify. I’m keen to try out some of their recently released features, such as gift vouchers, early in 2014.

I’ve spent less time on Facebook in 2013 than I have in previous years, and that’s probably a trend that will continue. I think it’s still a useful platform for those sort of brands that people love – charities that they care about, products that they enjoy using – but for many other companies every change in Facebook’s algorithm makes it harder and harder to have stories seen without paying for the privilege through advertising and sponsored stories. Facebook competitions remain a good way to build up an opted-in email list – but in my experience this year, the call to action works better in the subsequent emails than in a Facebook post. There’s a recent LinkedIn discussion here where a number of social marketeers have expressed their views on Facebook as a marketing tool.

Using the improved Facebook Insights, we may now be able to get more data about our pages’ engagement levels than we could in 2012, but it’s still no match for the combination of AdWords and Analytics in tracking ROI on advertising spend. Features introduced this year, such as bid adjustments based on time, location and device combined with remarketing techniques, have allowed further optimisation of already well-performing campaigns. The addition of the ability to cut and paste keywords, ads and adgroups, not just in AdWords editor but also in the online interface, has definitely cut down on my administration time.

Cutting down on administration time will definitely be a theme for me in 2014, with a new baby due to make an appearance in January. I’ve recently swapped the Taskforce accounts to Quickbooks Online (from the software version), and I’m enjoying the dashboard which gives an overview of what’s earned and owed, and the ability to send invoices with the click of a button. After years of resisting, I’ve also made the move to using a Mac laptop. It’s nice to not have to blow into the air vents to get my business computer started, and the syncing between the laptop, iPad and phone is useful too (though I did manage to delete most of the phone numbers in my phone contacts in the process of doing so).

I think mobile internet’s time has well and truly arrived, and while I’m on maternity leave, the plan is to spend some more time looking into responsive web design and app development. These days I have some clients who get more web traffic from mobile phones than PCs, particularly when the content being accessed deals with health or other sensitive topics. This audience deserves some focused attention too.

Apart from that, I foresee the early months of Taskforce Digital’s 2014 being about MailChimp and Survey Monkey, Salesforce and, as always, the creation of great content. Beyond that, who knows? I’m looking forward to seeing those tweets that link to articles that tell me about things that I’ve never heard of before, I’m looking forward to new videos on Treehouse, new app discoveries, working with new and existing clients on whatever their online challenges will be. I’m excited about building the Taskforce team and increasing the range of skills we can offer.  I’d love to read your reflections on 2013 and predictions for 2014 in the comments below.

Merry Christmas from Taskforce DigitalOutside the window, there are white fluffy clouds and white fluffy sheep on green hills; no sign of December snow. The star’s starting to fall off our Christmas tree. I’ve almost eaten all the mince pies. The year is coming to a close, and we’ll soon be heading back to London.

I hope you’ve all had a wonderful festive season, and wish you all the best through whatever this new year brings.

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Your charity Facebook page – a marketing space or a support forum?

Online support communities are growing organically in social media spaces all over the Internet. We’re not only seeing them develop in spaces set up specifically for support but also in spaces originally intended for marketing or advertising. Sane – the mental health charity – say that people contact them for support through any space where text can be submitted on their website, regardless of its original purpose.

An obvious example is on Facebook. Many charity Facebook pages are initially set up as a marketing tool. Yet administrators soon find that those who like the page will write on the wall looking for expert support from the charity and peer support from others on the page. Someone who feels alone in their experience and who connects online with a charity that could help them, suddenly finds a group who understands or shares their needs, all gathered around the charity logo. Most people who like a marketing page do so because they have some personal experience.

Mind’s Elefriends community initially started as a campaign profile and grew so fast that Mind chose to invest in the development of an entirely separate community platform for online peer support.

An online support space usually thrives with a different kind of moderation to your marketing approach. It’s no longer just about speaking directly to your audience and them back to you. It’s not enough to simply delete upsetting, argumentative or negative posts. A good online support community is created through members speaking to each other, with the page admin there to facilitate and encourage this discussion. Your page admin needs to be comfortable providing support or signposting. They need to be able to explain to a distressed user why their post has been removed and mediate disagreements.

Figurines holding hands

Some organisations choose to separate these spaces as they develop. Users looking for support on the marketing page are directed to a group set up specifically for support. You can direct people to an entirely separate platform – perhaps a forum – but in general, a different space on the same platform works better. Let people access support where they look for it. That’s probably where they feel most comfortable.

If you’re just getting started, creating distinct spaces from day 1 can help. On Facebook, a page for marketing and a group for support are common. While people tend to be more comfortable posting about sensitive issues online than they used to be, you might find that a private Facebook group can help people feel more able to post. Bear in mind that, unlike a public Facebook group, people won’t find a private group organically. They will have to be invited.

Think about creating guidelines and ‘About’ info that helps people know what to expect in each space. Make sure your page admin or moderators feel comfortable dealing with the issues they might come across. A number of charities have been forced to re-examine their organisation and training as their marketing team unexpectedly finds themselves becoming responsible for a support community as well.

Many people choose to involve volunteers in moderation. My next post will explore how you can encourage peer support in your community and the issues to bear in mind when training community members.

Feel free to share you experiences of managing a charity Facebook page or any examples of good practice by leaving a comment below.

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Hello, this is Taskforce Digital

Ethernet cableHello. This is Natasha Judd, blogging for Taskforce Digital for the first time. It’s a first time that has been a long time coming.

Back at the start of this year, after two years of freelancing by myself, I was again wanting to be part of something bigger, something that could do more, achieve more, make more of a difference than I could alone. And so sparked an idea: Taskforce Digital. Not an agency. Not an employer. That may come, but not yet.

Instead, Taskforce Digital is, for now, a collection of talented freelancers, who come together to work on digital projects for a range of commercial and charity clients. These freelancers are people I’ve worked with at various jobs over the last ten years, people I’ve worked with for more recent projects, people I trust. People who can work alongside me and alongside clients, and become part of an on-call team.

Right now, the Taskforce Digital team spend a lot of time on Shopify e-commerce stores, Google AdWords and Analytics, WordPress blogs and social media content plans. We’re running client feedback surveys and administering Saleforce CRMs. I imagine this will change. The web is changing, technology is changing. I’m using a picture of an ethernet cable with this entry, but connecting wirelessly to the Internet via my new laptop which doesn’t even have a DVD drive.

This site will change too, with time. I’ll add in more about what we do and who we work with. This might be a project for early 2014, when I’m on maternity leave with our second child. For now, there’s work to be done, sites to be finished, emails to be answered, and Christmas mince pies to bake before the end of the year.

For now, writing this first blog entry is an achievement in itself, and thanks must go to those who’ve helped out over the past twelve months and more. To Jo Lambert for her support from the start, to Joe White who created the logo and brand, to Philip Cuff and the team from Think Creative for their advice, to Clare Foster for her input into projects old and new, and to my husband Matt.

I’m hoping many more blogs will follow this, and that the Taskforce Digital website will become a space for the team to share their opinions on what’s going on online. The usual disclaimer applies: blog entries are the opinion of the individual concerned and not necessarily of Taskforce Digital or of any of the other members. Blog entries are merely starting points for comment and debate. The web’s good for that sort of thing.

The web’s good for a lot of things and here at Taskforce Digital, we’re good at getting stuff done on the web.

I’m looking forward to seeing how this develops.

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