A couple of weeks ago, our Managing Director, Alex Vinall, took out time from her busy schedule to be interviewed by Surrey University business and economics students. Their brief? To get an insight into the life of an entrepreneur. Here’s what went down.
The students were welcomed into our new office (did we mention we have a NEW office?), and set up camp in our meeting room. All eyes, and several cameras, were on Alex, but as usual, she felt at home chatting to these friendly new faces and explained how she came to be a successful female entrepreneur.
Alex spoke about her experience in the industry, the founding of Air Social and how she began to build her client base from home. Ten years on, Alex now employs ten people with skill sets ranging from web design, lead generation, graphic design, and social media marketing, to name a few. Like a fine wine, Air Social has improved with age and Alex proudly represents a small number of females at her level in the digital industry.
Alex shed light on topics ranging from her love for networking, starting up a business, workplace motivation, finding the right employees and her three main business philosophies; team work, building client relationships and trust.
An area of discussion, which resonates amongst many ‘mumtrepreneurs’ today, was the challenge of balancing motherhood and running a business. Maintaining a healthy work-life balance is no mean feat for any business owner, especially whilst having two young children to take care of.
“Whilst the world has changed and more and more women are becoming entrepreneurs, our duties as mothers have not changed. It’s difficult balancing motherhood and running a business, especially when society is expecting us to successfully juggle both,” says Alex.
Nevertheless, Alex has not let this difficulty hinder Air Social’s success and still manages to make every football match, nativity and birthday bonanza for her kids.
Alex truly is an advocate for all females smashing the glass ceiling and believes that the only way is up for Air Social. We had a wonderful time meeting the students at Surrey University and were so pleased that they reached out to us. We hope that these budding entrepreneurs have been inspired and Team Air Social wish them every success on their ventures into the world of business.
Good writing and decent web design is invaluable to a business. Unfortunately, there’s a lot of bad stuff floating about on the Internet. We’ve all seen it: badly matched images, copy littered with mistakes and pages that take forever to load. These are all things that give you a negative impression of the business before even using it.
At Air Social however, we’re always on top form! Now web design, whilst certainly important from an aesthetic point of view, encompasses so much more than looking pretty. From SEO to branding and conversion rates, your website and its design affects your complete Internet presence. So, apart from the obvious, what should your website have? We’ve compiled a checklist of what to look for:
This is essential. Without good navigation, users’ attention is quickly lost, and with it, your brand identity. When considering navigation, simple yet intuitive is best.
2. Copy and Visual Elements
The first rule: users tend to remember your brand message when it is concise and identifiable. However, overdoing these elements is easy to do and will also adversely affect conversion rates – visually cluttered pages are difficult to read, which means that users’ patience will be lost. To avoid this problem, consider working with a website designer and copywriter, who can streamline your content and add negative or empty spaces that let the readers’ eyes rest in the middle of their reading.
3. Brand Uniformity
Your brand is what sets you apart from your competitors. Alongside a unique logo, your design style and brand voice must remain consistent throughout your website so that your target market can easily identify your brand in all types of medium. If for instance, there are slight changes in your brand and visual communication, then it can result in confusion for users.
4. Organisation and Search Engine Optimization
Aside from the organisation, utilising the visible areas for the important website details can also improve the search engine optimization or SEO. This happens when you incorporate business-related keywords in the HTML text. When search engines like Google, Yahoo, and Bing can trawl your website, it results in higher search engine placement, which means your website becomes more visible and searchable.
Get in touch with us today for a chat about any web design queries you may have – we’re always keen to help out!
Mental Health Awareness Week starts every year on the second Monday in May. In a world that is increasingly opening up to – and understanding those with – mental health issues, it’s no surprise that Mental Health Awareness Week is now a firm fixture, both nationally and globally. It’s organised by the Mental Health Foundation, and focuses on a major issue each and every year. This year, Mental Health Awareness Week focuses on stress.
A recent YouGov survey of 4,619 adults aged over 18 showed that 32% of us get stressed by thinking about work in our personal time, 23% of us compromise our health to get work done and 16% compromise relationships. Whilst stress is completely normal for everyone, when it becomes constant and overwhelming, it can cause deep-reaching problems that can affect us in all kinds of damaging ways.
Although Mental Health Awareness Week itself is a couple of months behind us, we take our well-being seriously at Air Social and decided to run our own mental health awareness day to get in touch with potential workplace stressors, which can easily strike any of us at any time. Getting in control of these potential stressors is key; not only to ensure that everyone in our fantastic team is at their creative peak, but to also nurture a culture of openness and understanding.
We chose to spend our mental health awareness day with Beau Honey, an accredited hypnotherapist with a very successful background in supporting clients to achieve their goals, surpassing mental blocks such as stress. Beau kicked off our day with a detailed, informative talk on how stress is triggered and how to deal with it in a workplace environment. He then skilfully led us through how information is passed through different parts of the brain, and how and where emotional patterns are learnt and triggered.
Each of the team also had an opportunity for a private stress-buster session with Beau, which was a great opportunity to experience the benefits of relaxation and focus in a safe, calm environment. We ended our day on a high, our awareness heightened and our sense of teamwork improved.
To prepare for a shoot the foundations must be laid, your USPs, target market and offering must be clearly identified as this will form the foundations and inspiration for all of your content. Having this in your mind when you create any visual branding or strategy for the business will ensure you don’t miss an opportunity to communicate your brand.
This is the first step I address with my clients, this understanding is the way I transform their business brand into a visual concept. When I meet with clients for the first time we go through a series of questions so I can understand their brand and begin to create a visual concept to fit. It is a journey of discovery and evolves as the business develops so it is always worth asking yourself to define your brand at whatever stage you are at.
From my own experience I would say external help is certainly a good way to do this as the process benefits from having a third party looking in from the outside. This area is often neglected or underdeveloped in businesses new and old. I discovered this myself when I met with Claire Craven for my own business strategy review early last year. It’s natural to want to jump to the fun visual stuff immediately when you are eager to push forward, however the further into this process you are the better more tailored to your brand the results will be. To effectively and consistently communicate your message all your creative needs to be 100% on point. Having a clear definition and guide to your brand will mean when you brief any creative it will be a seamless communication.
I have recently been working with Web designer Samantha Schirrmacher of Grey Star Digital. Here is what she had to say about her experience so far:
“My business started and I was busy from the start. After leaving employment I was just happy to be earning so quickly, happy to be busy and thrilled that my network was growing. I knew as I was offering web solutions that I wanted my own website to give a clear message of what my services were.
At that time I guess I didn’t think that much about my values or branding… although I knew I was motivated to work for small businesses, helping start ups and freelancers get online while giving people the freedom and training to manage their own websites. Considering what imagery would portray this and what I could use for marketing was easy surly I thought? just a load of desk images with a nod toward web design? Now as much as this has done the job for the last year this has never really portrayed my values, unique selling point or my target market.
Now a year in, I am so glad I am taking the time to think about where I want my business to go and how I can take things to the next level and helping me do this is the marvellous Suzannah Ginders who offers branding photography for businesses. She is an online marketing mastermind and has made me take a step back and focus on my brand.
After numerous brain storming sessions I am so happy to say that we have planned a brand photography shoot in the next few weeks which will be incorporated into the new website, I can’t explain how excited we both are!”
Watch this space!
As a starting point it’s worth asking yourself key questions like:
What do you mean to your clients?
What problem do you solve?
What makes you different?
Things often get complicated before they get simple! The process of creating a beautifully simple concept requires complexities.
Once these things are in place we can begin to plan your shoot. Every element you place in an image; props, the style, the feel, location is a collaboration of sorts, every item has meaning and context. All of these factors come together to create a solid brand identity in photographs.
I don’t just take photos, I create photos.
My job involves creating, planning and coordinating as well as producing stunning final images. That crucial understanding of the business we develop though our interactions prior to the shoot act as the building blocks, all that is left is to let the creativity commence. My diverse and extensive technical skill means we are not restricted to any particular style, I can create whatever type of commercial image we envision specifically for your brand.
Creative Connection; I connect with my clients and they connect with their market.
If you need help and support in your brand building efforts The Inspiration Space in Surrey has some outstanding industry expert mentors such as Alex Vinall of Air Social based in Guildford, and a dedicated programme of events aimed at empowering brands to reach their potential.
If you are feeling inspired and would like to begin the process of building your very own unique body of business branded images, get in touch. All my quotes are final and full. There are no hidden costs to be added after the shoot so you can plan your marketing budget with confidence. Lets create something brilliant!
It’s no coincidence that the fall of Vine coincided with the ability to put videos on Instagram. This happened only a year after the photo sharing giant was bought by Facebook. Now it’s Snapchat under attack as Instagram has launched its own ‘story’ function that mimics the whole concept of the app, but conveniently tucked into a corner of the Instagram interface. Rather inconveniently for Snapchat, it’s only growing in popularity.
The reason for this is quite simply that Instagram is a much more open platform; the beauty of apps like Instagram and Twitter is the ability to gain an insight into the lives of people we wouldn’t normally encounter. We can get up to the minute insights into what the Kardashian’s are wearing or the latest diet fad is first hand, something that is much more difficult on Snapchat.
Of course there are benefits to Snapchat; Snapchat isn’t based on likes or followers so there is no scope for fake news to be spread, features such as ‘Discover’ are heavily vetted so that content is of a certain quality and, most relevant to us, advertising is integrated into the customer experience so it is un-intrusive whilst also interactive.
There is a reason for this. “Snapchat makes discovery of people who aren’t in your phone book extremely difficult because they believe peer-to-peer sharing is stickier than a so-called influencer model,” says Rob Fishman, co-founder of Niche, a company that connects brand with social media influencers.
The combination of this and Snapchat’s venture into wearable tech means there may be a future for the app but whether it will able to hold its own against the Facebook empire remains to be seen, as in 2017 Instagram’s influence is set to grow even further. In terms of advertising Instagram is predicted to usurp Twitter, meaning Facebook will hold the gold and silver medals in the social media marketing race, a truly astonishing feat. Luckily for Twitter, Facebook has already adopted some of the character traits of Twitter, such as hashtags and an increased ability to share content and news, but has never been able to mimic the balance of intimacy and worldwide scope that Twitter delivers – it remains safe for the time being.
In our expert opinion Snapchat remains a contender – for now. And there is no doubt that Twitter will be around as a major social media platform for a long time to come, but Facebook ultimately reigns almighty.
There has been more than a little speculation over the relevance of Google+, in fact, last year Forbes declared it dead; as a social media platform it is widely known to be redundant and you wouldn’t be foolish to think it doesn’t exist anymore (in fact Google+ pages are now managed through Google My Business). Nevertheless as a tool for business, Google couldn’t be more vital.
In the battle of the search engines, Google undeniably dominates with 81.42 percent of desktop browser traffic in the US and over 11 billion desktop searches per month. The statistics are even more astonishing if you take into account mobile usage, where a vast 92.91 percent of searches were done through Google.
This year marks the first in which mobile internet access surpassed desktop usage, and is predicted to increase even further, with estimates of mobile making up 75 percent of global search traffic next year. Google’s stronghold on the mobile market means that, if we combine this information with the fact that search engine queries ultimately generate 300 percent more traffic to content sites than social media, we can see how the curtains might not quite be drawn on Google+ yet.
By having your business on Google you too can benefit from this kind of traffic, as your SEO is improved just by having a Google+ page; as a completely free service it would therefore be foolish not to have your business represented on Google with accurate, up to date information.
Aside from increased SEO, filling your Google profile with correct information and pictures builds a level of trust with potential customers as it enhances your legitimacy.
For example, if an individual uses Google to search for “dry cleaner in Woking” and two suggestions come up – one of a dry cleaner with good Google reviews and details such as opening times and professional looking photos; and one with just a name and address – which one are they more likely to choose? With this example, we can see how minimal browsing on Google can lead to potential business, and conversely, incorrect or out of date information can lead to lost business and customer dissatisfaction, therefore anyone not taking the time to update their Google profile will almost certainly miss out.
On top of this, Google+ could potentially make a comeback having last year streamlined the concept to resemble something more akin to Pinterest or Twitter, rather than standing as a direct rival to Facebook. With their change of direction there may be a future for the platform as a whole and anyone with an established profile will already have a head start.
Whether this comeback will materialise can’t be foretold but in a world where marketing is becoming more and more holistic, it is important to have as many strings to your digital bow as possible, and Google is no exception. Even though its failure as a social network is undeniable (so far) Google is a vital platform for your business and, if nothing else, a great way to get traffic on to your other social media accounts.
If, like us, you’re serious about your business then you needto embrace all facets of social media, let us help you.
On April 27 2022, Alex Vinall and Lucy Blackmore from Air Social joined hundreds of other local businesses at the Surrey Business Expo, which took place over two days at Surrey Sports Park in Guildford. Surrey Business Expo was started in 2005 and is today run by the super-well-connected Paul Bridgland and Steve Page. The […]
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