A new website is an investment of both time and money, however you shouldn’t let this put you off. The returns from super-charging your online presence are huge, and can completely transform your brand and your business.

How does the average person use your website?

Let's consider how the average person uses the internet:

  1. You search for the service you need using a search engine.
  2. Presented with thousands of results, you choose a selection from the first page of results.
  3. You look through each of these, making snap judgements about the quality and credibility of the business based on your first-impressions of the site.
  4. If the website reflects quality, you look for a means to get in touch, either calling directly or by filling out a web-form.

At each interaction, the user’s thought process can be boiled-down to: Does this particular interaction give me confidence that this supplier can be trusted, and that the product/service on offer will meet my expectations?


Let's explore some of the benefits of a new website

There are many benefits to revamping your website, below I have touched on just a few. Whilst looking through, keep in mind what your current website is like, and whether you are offering a poor user experience to your visitors.

New business

Your primary touch-point with new and existing customers is your website. Whether reached through social media or search engines, a new customer visiting your site will dedicate a very short amount of time to looking to see if you offer what they need. If you don’t peak their interest straight away, you’ve lost them.

Having clear, well-written and well-presented content is vital. Structuring this in a logical way, with clear navigation and a complementary colour scheme is equally important. Get this wrong and you will fall at the first hurdle. Get this right and you will maximise the number of people that visit your site and the number of people who contact you off the back of this.

Brand credibility

In the competitive world of the internet, credibility is everything. From Google reviews to Facebook likes, having a strong and consistent online presence is vital. We see your website as the main player in your digital portfolio; it plays the decisive role in giving your brand credibility. A poor user experience, confusing navigation, or even something as simple as large bodies of text in an unattractive font can damage your brand credibility.

If you need convincing, think about how many times you have avoided using a company because its website doesn’t work well on mobile, or because you can’t find the information you need. If you aren’t confident your site is as good as it could be, it’s likely people have experienced this on your site.

Search Engines and Social Media

A new website, built with search engines and social media in mind, is a fantastic way to super-charge your online presence. Ranking highly on search engines drives new business, and does wonders for brand credibility. Making your business easy to find should be at the forefront of your digital strategy; if your current website ranks poorly, or offers a poor user experience, then a new website optimised for search engines is a must have.

A well designed website is a fantastic touch point for new and existing customers, one obvious area to help enhance this is social media. Here at Air Social, we are specialists in social media strategy and therefore know the benefits of targeting audiences through social media and driving them to your website. We equally know that a poor website can substantially reduce the impact of this type of marketing. Fancy getting the most out of vast social media audiences? Start with a website that does your brand justice.

A new website adds value to your business; it gets you noticed in a highly competitive world, and enforces your credibility as suppliers of a high-quality service. Having a scalable online presence is vital - a well-designed and developed website gives you the perfect launch pad to deploy your digital strategy.


From keeping your current clients confident, to reaching out to new areas, make sure your primary touch point doesn’t let you down. To learn more about the different website packages we offer, and how we can help your online presence, contact: team@airsocial-build-com.stackstaging.com

 

Virtual reality has had a start as slow and rocky as a snail going up pebbledash, with sales of high tech headset’s dwindling, but as it becomes more and more accessible it seems to be having a second coming, and that means, unfortunately for all you technophobes out there, it might be around for a while!

So here’s what you need to know: First of all, what exactly is Virtual Reality? Well, Virtual Reality or VR is complete audio and visual immersion in a digitally created landscape. In laymans terms, you put on a headset and have the experience of being in another place.

You may also hear the words ‘Augmented Reality’ thrown around. Augmented Reality or AR is the integration of virtual elements into real life, where digital images appear to exist in the context of the physical world.

The reason for the slow start of VR is that for most people £350 is an unrealistic price for a pair of fancy cyber goggles, and even then when you splash out on a headset it’s only as good as the content it offers. Sony, for example are by far the winners of the VR race, but still only have a handful of releases.

Where VR and AR excel is actually on mobile platforms, where companies have been finding increasingly creative ways to utilise VR, Snapchat for example has used Augmented Reality for a long time and 360 videos are always viral hits. It seems that Virtual Reality has a sweet spot; just at the point where quality and affordability converge.

Although you’d be forgiven for not realising, VR headsets were originally hailed as ‘empathy machines’ and finally filmmakers have started to produce VR content that delivers on those promises. For example, the short film Notes on Blindness that premiered at Sundance last year; based on the audio diaries of John Hull, Notes on Blindness allows the viewer to experience a world shaped entirely through sound.  Likewise the refugee crisis has been a source of inspiration for many VR filmmakers, for example “Clouds Over Sidra”, “The Displaced”, “Forced From Home” and “Four Walls”. These are films that actually allow us to ‘walk in someone else’s shoes’.

And the best things about these videos? 90% of the time they are free!

Whether you think it’s a dying fad or the next frontier, we would love to hear your thoughts on VR.

When Instagram burst on to the social media landscape in 2010 the brief was simple; here is a square, fill it with something beautiful. Almost 7 years and 600 million monthly active users later Instagram is so much more than a photo sharing app; today Instagram’s co-founder and CEO Kevin Systrom says that the company’s mission is “strengthening relationships through shared experiences”. In short, it’s a social network.

Instagram’s transition has been a slow but steady one. In 2012 Facebook bought Instagram and it’s 13 employees for $1billion. This transaction was a catalyst for the many changes to come, starting with the introduction of sponsored posts to targeted audiences that started to roll out in 2013.

Luckily the simple format of Instagram complimented these changes well and the adverts easily slotted into Instagram’s scrolling timeline; in fact the initial success of Instagram can definitely be attributed to simplicity of the original app and the simple brief has given rise to some fantastic artwork people started to use other apps to expand the possibilities.

Nevertheless people started using apps such as Squaready and Whitagram to fit different sized images into the restrictive format and apps like PicStitch to fit multiple images into one post.

So what did Instagram do? They adapted, and in 2015 that the square format was made optional and even more recently, only in the early months of this year, we now have the option to post more than one picture per post.

Instagram embraced that people had expanded on their initial brief and they accommodated it. Perhaps the most revolutionary update to the app has been the ‘story’ function, a Snapchat-esque feature that allows temporary posts that followers can choose to view. This may be due to the changing nature of Instagram’s usage; as the app became used more and more as a social network people might post personal images that might perhaps spoil the aesthetic of their whole page, rather than deleting posts after a day, as many people do, they can now simply add an image or video to their story.

That was in August 2016 and it’s now almost impossible to image Instagram without its new assets.

With the introduction of live video, Boomerang and other features such as the Layout app Instagram has expanded hugely since it was bought in 2012. No longer is it a photo sharing app but an idea sharing app, a place to connect with like-minded individuals.

But what does this mean for us? Well for the marketing industry Instagram is still an amazing canvas to market things with an even wider brief to be creative with.

The beauty of social media marketing is that the outcome is very measurable, and Instagram allows insight into what visual trends work for a brand. Now with the story function it also allows us to keep customers updated without compromising brand aesthetics. All in all, Instagram, you’ve got a huge thumbs up from us!

As a company that specialises in lead generation it is vital that none of our own leads is ever dropped. We at Air Social use a Customer Relationship Management (CRM) application to avoid that from ever happening. However, many CRMs come ready made with a huge amount of unnecessary apps that a compact team such as ours simply doesn’t require. With such an unwieldy amount of apps a CRM designed to organise a company may actually make matters more complicated, with actions getting lost in the system.

This is where Bespoke Business Solutions come in. They allow us to mould the software we use to suit our business, rather than force us to adapt to generic software. The CRM they have provided us with precisely does what we need it to do for example to assign and reassign roles, track new and completed tasks and keep up with each other’s meetings. As we work with many clients being able to assign hours is very useful and being able to log hours spent on certain clients is absolutely essential to the way we bill clients.
This level of organisation makes sure every lead is followed up, and nothing gets forgotten. Obviously for a business with more employees it would be less relevant to have a joint calendar with everyone’s meetings in it, but for our team its perfect.

On top of these benefits, having a custom made system it means if our business changes we have the ability to call up and alter the system. It is customisable and free flowing with our own business.

It also avoids some of the main pitfalls of generic CRM applications. The system that BBS have made toes the line between an overly simple interface that will quickly be outgrown by an expanding business and cumbersome systems where you have to go through multiple screens to process transactions. With BBS there is no refreshing, no scrolling up and down, minimal transactions from screen to screen – yet it delivers the same service.

So next time you’re wondering what the secret to our success is… Well, it’s a secret. But you can be sure our fantastic CRM from Bespoke Business Software plays a big part in the smooth functioning of our company!

Find out more about Bespoke Business Software here.

‘Artificial intelligence’ is here to stay, there’s no doubt about it. Now, we at Air Social are all for innovation, in fact we thrive off it. But when everyone is jumping on the artificial intelligence bandwagon, we think we need to ask: when is it appropriate? And how much is too much? I mean, we’ve all seen Blade Runner after all.

For example, there’s a lot to say for a human touch, for example, what could be better than a smiling barista taking your order before handing you a hot cup of coffee with a delicately poured pattern floating on the top?

When we think of a good customer service experience, the words friendly and helpful spring to mind, also, the ability to cater for all needs; a bespoke service if you will. So what happens when that customer service gets replaced with a faceless app on your mobile phone? Well that’s exactly what Starbucks have decided to do.

Obviously their app has its perks (I can’t count the number of times my order of dry soy cappuccino, extra chocolate on top and two shots of sugar free caramel syrup has gone awry) but it’s an odd move from the company so intent on distancing themselves from their reputation as a faceless corporation, for example their ongoing campaign to put the customer’s name on the cup. This was a really great move for Starbucks back in 2012 and has inadvertently worked as a viral campaign too; not only do people frequently share their misspelt names online but also reminds us of the humanity of the baristas; we find ourselves actually celebrating the charm of human error. The app, although useful, completely contrasts the more human brand that Starbucks had started to create. It seems that Starbucks is using the right technology but with the wrong effect.

Now take the Amazon Echo which uses the Alexa operating system, the personal assistant Siri wishes she could be; Alexa has been credited as being life-changing for people with decreased mobility or the visually impaired. For example, one can change the thermostat or book a taxi without leaving your chair – or even looking at a screen. Things as insignificant as tuning a radio seem so simple to most but are difficult when you have a visual or physical impairment. With the Echo and Alexa that issue is eliminated.

Again, the technology comes with its pitfalls: last week a San Diego TV station came under criticism after a report about a girl who ordered a dollhouse via her parents' Amazon Echo caused Echoes in viewers' homes to also attempt to order dollhouses.

With Google and Samsung following Alexa's lead, this mode of artificial intelligence is undoubtedly set to be sticking around. Of course there are simply some things that can’t be faked, that includes human connection, creativity and, as Alexa proves, just a dash of common sense; but despite this we can't wait to see what lies ahead for artificial intelligence and what that means for the digital media landscape.

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.

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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 need to embrace all facets of social media, let us help you.

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In the year that has seen Donald Trump become president,  said goodbye to Ziggy Stardust and Severus Snape and, of course, seen families country-wide feud over Brexit, 2016 has been a year of mass upheaval. But how has the world of digital marketing changed?  Well, most obviously we have witnessed the continued rise of social media. In the US Presidential Election race we have seen how crucial social media can be; Trump attributes much of his success to his large social media presence, particularly on twitter. However, it’s not only been his social media presence but the presence of Twitter ‘bots’ that automatically tweeted pro-Trump propaganda and used hashtags to firstly infiltrate the Clinton support and then use the platform to smear her. Social media has been intrinsic to the success of many other unlikely campaigns; take the recent example of A-Level student Nick Jablonka’s fake John Lewis advert which went viral after social media users mistook it for the real thing.

The power of visual media platforms such as Instagram and Pinterest also continue to grow, where many consumers review and recommend products, and, with the continued popularity of audio and audio visual media such as podcasts and YouTube vlogs added into the mix, the power of word of mouth between consumers cannot be underestimated.

However, next year’s innovations look set to be on a whole new level.  It’s now commonplace to see advertisers using Snapchat, making it possible to ‘try on’ a new lipstick from your own home, or transport a person into the scenery of an upcoming blockbuster.  In 2017 experts predict this trend will develop into companies creating more specific apps to immerse the individual into their product. Nevertheless this is just a small dent in comparison to the impact virtual experience is going to make.

The dawn of virtual reality is upon us and there’s no wondering why people want to utilise it for their marketing strategies. A recent survey says that 90% of business owners now say they prefer personalised content rather than mass outreach. It’s becoming easier and easier to target advertising so to stand out content will need to be more unique, of higher quality, and as engagingly interactive as possible in 2017.

In the current digital landscape, engagement is everything, and marketers succeed when their audience not only consumes content but also enjoys and acts upon it, which is why interactive content will be so important going forwards. The facts back it up; static content generates conversions 36% of the time whereas interactive content generates conversions moderately or very well 70% of the time. So expect to be inundated with ground-breaking apps and virtual reality experiences and in the coming year.

But the innovation doesn’t stop there, not only will consumers be immersed within technology but they will be wearing it. After a slow start for wearable technology 70% of consumers now say they are ‘ready for wearable technology’, giving yet another platform for advertisers to take advantage of.

To summarise, marketing in the new year is only going to become more diverse; we predict that the tried and tested methods such as social media advertising will still has its place in digital, but new developments such as interactive content and virtual experience are going to enrich the digital marketing landscape. It’s up to marketers to embrace the changes and approach marketing in 2017 holistically.

Social Media is the heart of all marketing.  To understand how social media can impact your business with Air Social’s tried and tested social media lead generation expertise, contact alex@airsocial-build-com.stackstaging.com or come and meet the team at our Guildford office for a complimentary social media training session.

 

 

 

Social media experts, Air Social Marketing Agency attended the Boost Your Business Exhibition following a personal invitation from Facebook for Business.

Being experts in social media, Air Social were able to give insight to those who attended into the expanse of marketing tools Facebook and Instagram can offer.

The exhibition, held at Tobacco Docks in London was wholly for small and medium businesses looking for more of a grasp on social media, using specific targeting and being able to utilise their databases for more than the odd mailshot.

Air Social spent the day attending various seminars, using our expansive social media knowledge to engage with attendees, offering extensive support to those who required it by inviting them to our free social media surgeries, where we help companies to create bespoke social solutions for their brand.

The exhibition ran through the morning and into the afternoon, with a strong opening talk from Steve Hatch, Facebook’s regional director for the UK and Ireland. And an insightful talk on ‘The Evolution Of Communication’ from Olly Sewell, the SMB manager for Facebook across the UK and Ireland.

The exhibition also had a live Q&A with the Digital Marketing Manager at T.M.Lewin, Cormac Folan and other marketing professionals, giving their insight into social media marketing strategies and how Facebook advertising has revolutionised the way they reach their mass audience.

If you’re interested in learning more about utilising social media for business, make sure to attend one of our free social media surgeries.

Alternatively feel free to give us a call on 01483 789 434 to set-up a bespoke social media surgery for your business and online needs.

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The Air Social team have been a fantastic asset that Surrey County Council has been able to call upon.

ANDREA NEWMAN, COMMUNICATIONS DIRECTOR, SURREY COUNTY COUNCIL

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