Who are you, where did you grow up, and what got you where you are today in the digital media world?
Hello there… I work as an online marketing consultant for Custard Media Solutions in Lancashire. I grew up in sunny Blackburn, went to University in Lancaster and stumbled into SEO as a copywriter, after which Custard Media picked me up and introduced me to the wider world of digital marketing.
What does a typical day at work look like for you?
I’m a very organised person so I need to have my day planned out in advance – the problem being that one day at Custard is never the same as the last, and our directors love to throw tasks at us to keep us on our toes! Generally there’s a good mix of pay-per-click advertising, on-site work for clients and I also manage our support team, so they keep me busy.
What have you done recently for a client that made you feel like “I’m doing something worthwhile here”?
We took on a PPC client last year and the account was already quite healthy, but they thought it could perform better. After a couple of months of split-testing and refining, the account is showing real growth. We’ve actually provided more site traffic for less spend, which offers a great return on investment and shows what can be achieved with a structured approach.
If you only had time to give one tip to those embarking into the online space, what would it be?
As an SEO agency a lot of our clients are overly preoccupied with Google rankings, which really don’t mean anything if you’re monitoring the wrong keywords. Measure success in terms of traffic, conversions and CPA (cost per acquisition), that’s where we strive to add real value and that’s how any online campaign should be judged.
Where do you think the online world is going?
The obvious answer to that question is social, but in reality people can get too bogged down in their Facebook page or their Twitter feed. Being social means to be part of the community and be a useful resource, not just promote your own product or site. That’s how to make an impression online – offer something that helps people.
Who inspires you and why?
It’s not a particularly exciting answer but there are people within the online marketing community who work tirelessly to research and test new ideas. Rather than keeping their findings to themselves, they share it with the wider community – everybody benefits and they become more respected and more successful as a result. That makes me want to be better at what I do, in the hope that I can get somewhere near their level one day.
What are you going to offer us as readers: what can we look forward to?
Hopefully I’ll be able to share a few tips, tools and techniques for those in the online marketing game, but hopefully what I write will be of use to ‘outsiders’ – for example people who are interested in how Google works or why companies use YouTube to promote themselves.
Below is a repost of a guest blog post that I did for ‘Letters from the Edge’ for the JISC Online Conference:
A theme that has already emerged in at the conference is one of the importance of the language that we’re using. The following themes have already appeared either in the chat themes, or emerged in my head after particular sessions:
- Should we be using the term ‘digital literacies’?
- Should we name sessions ‘technology for the terrified’ or ‘social media for the scared’ or does that reinforce the notion that it’s something to be scared of?
- Should we use the term ‘assessment’, or ‘learning opportunities’?
- Is there an overabundance of acronyms and ‘inside terminology’?
I’m fascinated by name origins, contextual and historical meanings, but I am also disturbed when the terminology gets in the way of achieving the aims. Ronseal has done us all a favour with ‘does what it says on the tin’, although many of us still work within a culture in which we use increasingly complex names.
What’s in a Name?
Recently, we have been discussing renaming my role from ‘Blended Learning Fellow’ (a term that appears to have dropped out of favour), and replacing it with ‘Technology Enhanced Learning Fellow’. The new name seems to be more meaningful in the current day, and more clarity for staff as to what my role is, but does this draw attention to the technology, when our concern is more with pedagogy. Noticeably the Plymouth E-Learning Conference is being renamed this year, I think to Excellence in Learning – the means of doing so is important, but although many attending will be learning technologies, ‘electronic-learning’ is not the focus.
The LTDU (Learning and Teaching Development Unit) has become renowned for coming up with some decent acronyms, most recently our newsletter ‘LATTE’ (Learning and Teaching Transforming Education). Branding this was important, but first we had to be clear on the purpose of the newsletter: not only to highlight what the Unit itself was doing, but, moreimportantly, to highlight learning and teaching activities across the campus.
Social Media for the Scared
We had a good debate about this alongside the ‘Students as Agents of Change’ session, with the notion that ‘Technology for the Terrified’ reinforces the idea that technology is at the heart of what we’re doing, and is something to be scared of. I, however, run sessions called ‘Social Media for the Scared’ for those in the CofE, with a session outline clearly defining that by the end of the session social media should have been de-mystified, and fear should no longer have a place. It gets a lot of takers, and seems to do its job… now to do the same within the university setting.
The Bigger Questions
So, from the conference, two of the bigger questions that have emerged is about the terminology of ‘digital literacies’, and of ‘assessment’, two questions that are being considered within JISC-funded projects that I am working on at the University of Winchester, one with ODHE, and the other with University of Bath Spa, named FASTECH (another great acronym: Feedback and Assessment for Students with Technology).
So, how much thought do we put into the terminology we use? We need to ensure that we are helping communicate a clear message, but we also don’t want to get so bogged down in discussing the terminology, that we take no further action. What terminology do you find/see to be a stumbling block?
The other week I wrote a guest blog post for Richard Littledale:
With a background in historical communications and teaching, I’m well aware of the importance of different learning styles, and after years of trying to conform to the expectations of others, I’m seeking out ‘ways of being’ that allow me to engage fully.
In the Second World War, many different poster styles and messages were used to get the message across, as the government sought to offer a shared sense of national identity that people were prepared to fight (and die) for. Some used humour, whilst others were more didactic. In the early days of the war it was clear that what had worked in the First World War would not work. Messages from ‘on high’ were not appreciated as this was ‘The People’s War’.
Before war was declared a set of three posters was prepared: ‘Freedom is in Peril’, ‘Your Courage, Your Cheerfulness, Your Resolution Will Bring Us Victory’, and ‘Keep Calm and Carry on’ (kept in reserve for a real crisis, such as invasion). There were so many complaints about the first two posters, that Keep Calm and Carry On never saw the light of day during the war. by the time the Blitz occurred it was deemed ‘not fit for purpose’. Keep Calm and Carry On, however, has found its time as a message of the 21st Century, specifically the recession, as it has appeared in many different guises over the past few years – pushed by social media – I’m currently wearing ‘Keep Calm and Pray On” (Phil 4:6), which, combined with Matthew 6:34 (‘Therefore do not worry about tomorrow, for tomorrow will worry about itself. Each day has enough trouble of its own’), have been the verses I have been reminded of at many times in my life, particularly when I returned from travelling in November 2008, with no job, no money, and facing a recession!
Read the full post here.
“I upgraded my naff LG phone to a shiny new Samsung Android the other week and got very excited over the Twitter application. I wasn’t bothered about the actual phone bit of my new toy! As a Twitter lover, nothing pleased me more than being able to use the social media giant properly in all its glory, especially when I got accepted to attend the MediaNet academy at the Church and Media Conference in Swanwick. Being a media conference, the majority kept to their stereotype by bringing their netbooks, iPhones and other technical gadgets to keep the outside world and each other in touch of what they were doing. I think Twitter is a great way to interact and get the most out of a large event such as the Church and Media conference because you can share information, meet people and generally (to use an old phrase) ‘get the low down’ on everybody else.
I myself being utterly useless at remembering the basics of overnight travelling, looked in my luggage when I got there and realised I left my shampoo at home. Typical. Even though I’m a guy, having clean hair is quite important to me! So instead of feeling sorry for myself and since I didn’t have any time to do a recce of the local shops I did what my Scout leader always tells me in tough times “Buff up Sam!”- such a nice bloke. I Tweeted my dilemma using the conference hashtag #cmn10. Soon after I got a query from another delegate at the conference asking whether I had sorted out my #conferencecrisis as she had spare shampoo! Delighted at this tweet I arranged a time to meet in the bar to exchange business cards and mutual love for coconut fragrance (trust me, I’m straight)
In the academy we were filming outside in pouring rain when all the delegates came out for lunch and started to take pictures of us and then posted them on Twitter proclaiming our bravery for the world to see. Although this is very common for people to Tweet pictures of people or events they see, is it an invasion of our privacy? Probably, but we didn’t care, the thought of hard work being recognized on the World Wide Web was quite encouraging. The girls in my group didn’t know a thing about Twitter and found it all more interesting since they were broadcasted on the internet.
So all in all, my experiment on the power of social media has exceeded my expectations because I made new friends through unusual circumstances- social media still is very social.”
See what Sam & the MediaNet video crew produced:
What are you doing? Its one of the first things we often ask friends and family. Even if the answer is just mowing the lawn or cooking dinner, it makes us feel connected to each others lives. Most of the time, our day to day lives are hidden from people who care. Sure, there are emails, and blogs, and of course text messages but often they just doesn’t get the job done; after all you wouldn’t send an email to a friend, telling them you were having coffee would you? What about the people who want to know about the little things that go on in your life, how do you keep them up to date with your daily goings on. Thanks to Twitter you can. Twitter makes it possible to share small bite sized updates about your life online, and follow the updates of people that matter to you via the web.
Twitter makes it possible to follow the lives of your friends and colleagues quickly and easily, many major news outlets like the BBC, CNN and Sky news post breaking news to their Twitter pages. Many Twitter users come from interesting backgrounds, their profiles reflect this, interesting web links and information is just waiting to be found out. Overtime you start to build up a view of your friends outside blogs and emails, after all real life is what happens in between these. With Twitter people start to build a picture of real life.
“How do I get started?” I hear you ask! Is easy! Sign up at www.twitter.com, and search for friends, simply by entering your email address. Twitter will then search your address book, looking for people in your list with twitter accounts. Once you have found some friends, just click “Follow”! Its that simple! Soon you will see their updates on your twitter page. Within hours you will soon see those little things that make life colourful, really stand out. Writing an update is easy, you can do it via the web at twitter.com, download add-on’s your browser, use instant messaging or even text messages. It really is that simple.
I’m sure the big question you are asking is am I safe? In a word yes. Twitter alerts you via email when ever anyone starts to follow your updates, you can then go to you Twitter page, and find out who they are, if you don’t want them to follow you, just click “block”. For added security you can make your stream private, that way only people you approve can follow your updates. If at any point you want to remove your account, Twitter also provides a Delete account function.
The big question is, would I recommend it? Over all I would, Twitter is the first thing in a long time that I have been truly excited about on the Internet. In this world of fast moving, smooth taking people, Twitter shows you the lighter side of life, after all wouldn’t it be nice to know when a friends going for lunch?
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