Introduction to the Use of Social Media in the Charity Sector

Optix Solutions are pleased to announce that we have been invited to deliver a presentation introducing Social Media to Charities throughout the South West.

Organized by Jackie Dawkins, Director of Shine Charity Recruitment the event will take place on Thursday 27th May, at Everys Solicitors in Exeter, between 4 and 6pm. Alistair Gleave, Optix Solutions’ Business Development Manager, will be joining forces with James Barisic, Charity Law Solicitor at Everys Solicitors, and speaking at the seminar.

This is an exciting opportunity for local charities to learn how to embrace Social Media in order to improve following, raise additional funds, increase volunteer numbers and engage with the local community.

  • Have you heard of the Karmic Flute? Fundraising for Devon Air Ambulance Trust following a theft from a charity shop. £265 raised in a matter of days thanks to the power of Twitter and jamesmb!
  • Have you thought how you could increase your following by utilizing Facebook, YouTube or LinkedIn?

Well we have and would love to share our ideas and success stories with you. Take a look below at the review from Matt Young, Heart Radio DJ, from our previous presentation.

Please come along to this free event and find out how your Charity can benefit from the use of Social Media.

Don’t delay, book today! Places are limited and in demand. http://charitysocmed.eventbrite.com/

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Social Media – Is everyone in your Business singing from the same songsheet?

One of the standout findings from Optix Solutions’ recently published Social Media Survey was that almost three quarters of respondents using Social Media had no policy guidelines in place to ensure people across their organisation engaged with it effectively and appropriately.

Social Media – Twitter, Facebook, LinkedIn, YouTube etc… – has exploded on business in the past couple of years, and because of its meteoric rise and its quick and spontaneous nature, many organisations have struggled to master how to ensure staff use it in a structured and joined up way.

Always keen to help businesses and organisations get to grips with this now integral communication and marketing tool, we have produced a free-to-use Social Media Policy Generator, which allows businesses to create basic Social Media usage guidelines for staff that reflect the specific characteristics of their organisations.

Social Media is fast becoming part and parcel of everyday business life, from its potential as an online marketing tool to internal communications and customer services. How you use Social Media across your organisation increasingly says a lot about you.

At Optix we advise many of our clients on how to use Social Media to best effect. One of our standard starting points is to help draw up a policy that gives clear guidance as to how to use Social Media as a representative of that business or organisation. These policies are then often included in contracts of employment.

The Policy Generator tool asks three simple questions: whether you have an existing Social Media strategy, the number of staff employed and which Social Media platforms you use or intend to use.

On the basis of this we send you a draft policy, including general guidance and advice tailored to your organisation’s profile, which can then be adjusted and added to as required.

The Policy Generator has proved more popular than we could have imagined, with the size and range of subscribers going to prove just how relevant Social Media has become in all walks of business life.

Subscribers so far have included an internationally renowned North American 0pera company, a leading UK IT group, Charities, Travel Companies, Architects, Solicitors and even a University!

The beauty of it is that it provides the basis of a robust Social Media policy for any organisation using these social tools. If you then want to build the policy into a more far reaching Social Media strategy, Optix Solutions consultants will be able to help you with that too.

Why not give it a try? It’s free! https://www.optixsolutions.co.uk/free-social-media-policy-generator/

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Social Media Survey 2010 – The results are in!

The increasing use of Social Media has created a fundamental shift in the way a business needs to think. Are you missing out on opportunities? Do you know what other businesses are doing? We’ve asked the questions, and the results are in!

We aren’t short of Social Media success stories. Who hasn’t heard of the millions Dell has made through Twitter? Today, businesses throughout the UK are keen to harness Social Media for their own similar success stories.

The Social Media Survey 2010 was created to help form an understanding of how organisations throughout the UK are using the various platforms, what return they are yielding and gain an insight into their future plans for Social Media.

A foundation, we hope, for your own Social Media Success.

The Results
Click to view the survey results.

What others are saying about the results
“This is amazing. This is really, really, handy!” – Scott Gould, We are Like Minds
“Would love to publish it.” – Neil Thackray, The Media Briefing
“Great Social Media survey with loads of great stats.” – Kate Spiers, Wisdom London

Acknowledgements
We would like to take this opportunity to thank all that took the time to contribute to this publication, especially:

  • Chris Brogan
  • Garry Mackay
  • Scott Gould
  • Olivier Blanchard
  • Trey Pennington
  • Julian Summerhayes
  • Each and every one of our respondents

And for their support in the production of the survey booklet, we would like to thank the entire team at Optix Solutions (especially James Dawkins & Amanda Parsons) as well as the following external consultants and friends. We couldn’t have done it without you.

  • Lizz Evans
  • Ashley, Heidi and Anna at Printing.com in Exeter
  • Tom Gard

Let’s keep the conversation going
This survey is not the end. Social Media platforms continue to evolve and there is always something to say, so why not join us and share your comments?

LinkedIn: http://linkd.in/aB6DZ1
Twitter: #smsurvey

Or add a comment to this blog.

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Optix Solutions in Amsterdam to Nurture Social Media among Urban Planters

Two of the Optix Solutions team were recently invited to sow the seeds of Social Media success among franchisees of interior plant design, installation and maintenance specialists Urban Planters from UK and Europe.

Alastair banks and Alistair Gleave at urban planters anual conference

Urban Planters, one of our longest standing clients, specialise in supplying and maintaining indoor plants for offices, restaurants, shopping centres and even private residences. The plants not only make interiors look better, they are also proven to absorb toxins in the air and relieve stress.

Director Alastair Banks and Business Development Manager Alistair Gleave flew out to the company’s annual conference at the Hotel Hampshire in Amsterdam last week. They were there to help franchisees and support staff understand Inbound Marketing and the benefits of using Social Media to grow their Urban Planters business locally.

This included a presentation on the potential for individual franchises to use Social Media to expand their local customer-base by building relationships with businesses in their area and letting them know what they are doing in the locality via Social Media platforms, especially blogs and e-mail marketing.

They also underlined the importance of establishing clear Social Media strategies and guidelines following the recent publication of Optix Solutions’ Social Media Survey 2010, which includes a number of important findings around how businesses monitor and measure the effectiveness of their Social Media activities.

“As there are Urban Planters franchises from the North of Scotland to the South Coast of England, and now Europe, we wanted to emphasise the importance of generating locally relevant content and contacts,” said Alistair Gleave.

As a franchise you need to be fully engaged with the local business community as that is where your customers will come from. Social Media is a huge opportunity to do just that.”

The two Als’ presence at the conference underlines the close and highly productive partnership that has been established between the two companies since Urban Planters first teamed up with Optix Solutions back in 2004.

The businesses have continued to expand side by side ever since, including winning the prestigious Franchise Website of the Year award together in 2007.

and Alistair Gleave’s next speaking engagement is…

at the Shine Charity Recruitment Lunch Event on 19th November, taking place in the spectacular setting of Somerset’s Hestercombe Gardens, near Taunton.

Alongside Shine’s Managing Director Jackie Dawkins, Alistair has been delivering free seminars on how the charitable and third sector can harness the power of Social Media for the past two years.
He will be talking to sector leaders about what Social Media has to offer charitable organisations in terms of engaging with the wider community, how it can be used to promote fundraising efforts and to develop a volunteer base.

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Introducing the Optix Online Marketing Team in Exeter

Here at Optix we have a dedicated Online Marketing Team, passionate about exceeding the expectations of their clients. The Optix Online Marketing Team is headed up by Daniel Cave, who has been working with Search Engines and the Internet for 6 years. His skills have been honed working for a variety of Clients from large Fashion Stores to Public Sector information sites. Mike Lemon works alongside Dan in our Online Marketing Team, benefitting from Dan’s considerable experience and expertise.

We’re sure you are aware of how much Marketing has evolved since the advent of the Internet and the world’s extensive use of mobile technology. As a consequence it has been essential for any Online Marketing Team worth its salt to keep ahead of the game, in order to ensure a first class service to their clients and produce the results required.

Our Online Marketing Team are adept at harnessing traffic from the millions of search users. Their talents also extend to the design of a shopping cart that converts interest into sales, maximising opportunities and ensuring genuine buyers can find the products they are searching for. Optix’s Online Marketing Team have kept informed of the latest trends and techniques and have developed a few of their own along the way, such as our new custom SEO reporting and tracking systems. All of our Online Marketing Clients receive an in depth, visual, monthly report detailing the results of their Online Marketing campaign.

We currently provide Online Marketing for both B2B and B2C clients, choosing client specific services tailored to getting businesses visible on a large scale. Optix Online Marketing Team combine passion for quality traffic and an unwavering commitment to being up to date with the latest search news. We stay on the cutting edge with ideas, recommendations and positive steps toward profitability.

If you have a Website and could benefit from our expertise in helping the right customers find you, then please get in touch. Optix Online Marketing Team can drive the traffic to you and help make sure it turns into cash through Search Engine Optimisation, Pay Per click, Email Marketing, Social Media and more.

Contact us to see what we can do for you and take the first step in effectively advertising yourself online.

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How we help companies with their Social Media Marketing

Social Media Marketing - Exeter

For the last few years businesses have been trying to get their heads around Social Media and how it can fit into their marketing mix. At Optix we got in early, we made the mistakes, we spent time learning so we could impart our knowledge on others. For the last year or so we have been working with our clients to help them build Social Media into their marketing and communications strategy.

Last week we were invited to make a board level presentation on Social Media to a national organisation and then went on to facilitate a discussion based on that presentation. We will now go on to consult this organisation on a regular basis, helping them with the delivery of their message through Social Media tools.

We also spent time with a medium sized organisation in Devon (150 staff) learning about their current marketing mix. We then conducted a significant piece of research work into their industry and put together a strategy which was presented to the board and their marketing team. This piece of work outlined everything we believe they now need to put in place from ‘monitoring systems’ to creation of blogs/key communicators within the firm and consistency of message. We will also be training their staff on the various tools we’ve put forward for use. Most importantly we’ve helped this company define kpi’s for success so that the board can see the impact of the work they start doing in the social space and how it’s working for them.

What are the plans for Social Media in your firm/organisation? Are you finding it difficult to map it out?
If you are looking for external help then our ‘presentation & discussion mornings’ start from just £300+vat. Our team can help you define what Social Media can do for your business.

All you need to do is call us today on 01392 667766 and book us in.

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SEO Predictions of 2011 – The World of Search

Well, a new year is upon us so I thought I would provide an insight into how I see Search moving over the next year. I may, or may not be correct, but I’m basing my thoughts on the last year and how trends within Search have been moving.

More local

Search results turning more local. Over the past few months we have seen Google change the way it displays its findings, it now displays ‘local’ results. These are business results that are local to where you are based. These have become a part of the Google Search more and more over the past year and in my opinion are set to continue to be a part of search results.

More Personal

Search results turning personal, yes, that’s right, turning personal to you. Google does many things already to make your searching personal, it displays results based on past search history, if you are logged into a Google account and other metrics. In the next year I can see the search results you see becoming more personal to the searcher, aiming to display the results that you want to see (or not as the case may be).

More Depth

Search engines such as Google not only display website links now, but they are also displaying rich content such as videos. This means that your YouTube videos that you have uploaded can be optimised for search and can be displayed in the Google search results. Just like local results, the videos are listed within existing results. Throughout 2011 I can see Google displaying more ‘rich’ results through its search results.

More Social

The Social side of online is a large aspect of the internet and the lives we lead. Whether that’s using Twitter, or having a Facebook / LinkedIn profile. Both Google & Bing have started to display Facebook & Twitter updates within its search results. This is only set to become an even larger part of Search with Bing recently announcing that it is going to include Facebook ‘Likes’ into its results, displaying how many ‘Likes’ a link has received (currently US only, moving to UK in the not so distant future). I can see Social results being displayed more and more in search results in both Bing & Google over the next year, judging how current trends are going.

What can we learn from this?

There are three main points in which we can learn from the above. Put simply these are:

  • Become local; accept that local search is becoming a large part of search engine results and cater for the local audiences you cover. Optimise for regional keywords.
  • More rich content; create video content to be hosted on YouTube, optimise the video for search. Videos are becoming an important part of search.
  • Be social; integrate on Social networks, whether that is Twitter, Facebook, LinkedIn or other. Be a part and engage with the audience out there.

How do you think Search for 2011 is going to pan out? Leave us your thoughts in the comments and visit our Search Engine Optimisation page.

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Is Your Website Ready For Google’s Big Mobile Update?

Usually when Google announces an update it comes with little, if any, warning at all. However, Google recently announced, "Starting April 21, we will be expanding our use of mobile-friendliness as a ranking signal. This change will affect mobile searches in all languages worldwide and will have a significant impact in our search results." Whilst Google have been telling Webmaster’s for years to prepare for Mobile, this is the most significant mobile-related announcement they have released to date, and it’s clear that this time, Google mean business.

It’s Time For Action…

If you don’t already have a Mobile-Friendly website then you need to get the ball-rolling, and quickly. You have probably heard the terms “Responsive Site” and “Mobile Site” repeatedly across the web, so we are going to start by briefly defining what each of these mean.

Responsive Site – A Responsive Site takes a standard website and instructs it to fit the display size that it is being viewed on. This allows your website to fit precisely on any device in any resolution. An example of a Responsive Site is the Porsche website http://www.porsche.com/uk/. You can see the change in website size if you slowly drag the bottom right hand corner of your browser inward to make it smaller.

Mobile Site – This is a completely separate site that has been designed and built purely for mobile users. It may sit on a sub domain such as m.domain.com. An example of a Mobile-Specific Site is the BBC Sports website http://www.bbc.co.uk/sport/. You can see the difference by bringing up the website on a mobile and desktop device and comparing the two.

Responsive vs. Mobile Sites – What Is Better? Mobile Sites:

The Pros

  • Better mobile experience for users (may lead to higher conversions)
  • Cheaper upfront costs

The Cons

  • Recurring maintenance
  • High costs for updating multiple websites
  • May need to be upgraded in future to work on new browsers
  • Issues with optimal display on different resolutions

  Responsive Site:

The Pros

  • One website works on multiple devices
  • Only needs to be updated once as only one site
  • Recommended by Google
  • Better ROI in the long term as it won’t need much maintenance to work on future browsers

The Cons

  • More expensive upfront

A Quick Note On Search Engine Optimisation…

If Search Engine Optimisation (SEO) forms a core part of your business then this must also be taken into consideration at this point. When it comes to link building and spending time optimising a site, you need to consider the fact that updating multiple sites will be far more costly and time consuming, than updating and building links to just the one Responsive Site.

In Summary The bottom line is you need to think about why you are creating the site and what functionality you need it to have. Either way, a mobile website is a MUST if you want to stay within Google’s guidelines and within the same playing field as your competitors. If you need to discuss your website in more detail please give us a call on 01392 667766, where one of the team will be more than happy to help!

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Working and Living in Devon by Optix Solutions

From tranquil views to a wealth of British culture, Devon has been a favourite with holiday makers seeking traditional family vacations for decades, but who knew that Devon would become a hub for striving businesses and a county full of commercial potential.

With the introduction to the Invest Devon scheme which includes Work Hubs, business support and networking opportunities, Devon has never been more ‘on the map’. Plans from Devon County Council to improve Devon’s infrastructure, double the number of new jobs and increase the rate of house building by 50%, have made the county even more desirable. As Devon County Council’s newest Business Ambassadors, Optix Solutions has a look at the benefits and perks of living and working in the (nearly) deep south.

Devon has never really been viewed as a place with great opportunity for jet setters and go getters by the rest of the country, however recent statistics tell us that Devon is the place to be if you are looking for work or wanting to start up a business. The business survival rate is over 5% above the national average, as well as employment rates being 76.8% versus the UK average of 71.1%. Devon’s Exeter University is ranked 8th in the UK, which also has a number of enterprises and research hubs including an Innovation Centre which is home to over 53 knowledge based organisations carrying out essential research and development.

Having been named as the best county in England in 2009 by Country Life magazine and with 450miles of coastline the quality of life is known for being better than that of the rest of the country. There is always loads to do including lots of free and family orientated days out as well as the renowned Jurassic Coast which takes you on a breath taking journey through England’s first Natural World Heritage Site. Of course we must not forget the usual popular attractions Devon has to offer; zoos, aquariums, farms, theme parks, botanical gardens, and an excess of outdoor adventure activities to suit both the dare devils and the safety conscious. Excellent public transport links provide affordable travel for non-drivers.

For those night owls, Exeter and Plymouth offer a buzzing nightlife with clubs and bars with a range of different music and themes and for the more laid back party-goer there is the famous Topsham 10 to conquer as well as loads of great local brewery’s and vineyards to try out.

Restaurants are in abundance in Devon with a significance on supporting local produce. From fresh fish caught off the coast of Exmouth to locally reared Dartmoor beef and Hugh Fearnley-Whittingstall’s own veg you are never far from fantastic home-grown food.

Low crime rates and little noise and air pollution, Devon is the place to be, business owner or employee, life has never been so fruitful.

If you're interested in working for Optix, send an email to info@optixsolutions.co.uk

 

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Social Media Marketing – The Why

Social media has revolutionised communication.  It has created a whole new paradigm which engages users on a new level. This means that the traditional ways of communication are not having the impact it used to, and marketers are having to think of more creative ways to get their business messages heard. 

In 2016 alone, social media users have risen by 176 million. 

So, this is useful in that you have an audience right there, waiting to be marketed to. This is tricky because so many other businesses are also wanting to get in front of them.

For businesses this means that in order to stay ahead in the market you have to be at the forefront of communication, making yourselves both heard and stand out in a range of different social media platforms, each with their own styles, methods and trends.  

Social media users have an average of 5.54 social media accounts each

One of the questions we get asked most here at Optix is: Which social media platform should I use? With users having on average 5.5 social media accounts it’s hard to know where to start. We always say it’s better to have less accounts but do them better. For example, we use LinkedIn, Facebook and Twitter as our primary social media channels, and invest in them heavily to ensure that we (and our followers) get the most out of the accounts.

12 new social media users are added every second

Optix Solutions prides itself at being fore runners in this domain, looking at trends and directions, and predicting, accurately, where social media is likely to go.  This forward looking approach means we are able to make the best decisions now for the future of your social media and make sure your company hits all those new users!

Want to get ahead with social media but not sure where to start? Come to our workshop next week: https://socialmedianovember.eventbrite.co.uk 

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How to Claim your Google Plus Vanity URL

Are you embarrassed by your ugly Google+ URL?

Fear not – this post will explain how you can be the envy of your friends/competitors with a shiny new vanity URL.

Last summer Google introduced custom URLs for brands and celebrities with verified profiles.

This meant that Toyota could now use the URL Google.com/+toyota rather than the slightly less memorable plus.google.com/100128670340279447796.

Toyota's Google Plus Profile URL Google are now in the process of rolling out this functionality to users who meet the following criteria:

  1. Have at least 10 followers
  2. Have a profile photo
  3. Have had a profile/page for at leat 30 days

Google's post on the subject explains that you might need to be patient if you don't have the option yet:

Once you meet the eligibility criteria, just visit your profile or page to begin the claiming process. If you don't see the option yet, don't worry: we're expanding availability throughout the week, and you'll see the in-product notice as soon as your custom URL is ready.

Unfortunately you won't have complete control over the URL – you will need to choose from a list which Google considers relevant.

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