Of Silicon and Unicorns

Of Silicon and Unicorns

Edinburgh Castle was built on a volcano. An inactive one. But still, quite why anyone thought this was a good idea is up for debate – one can only assume that planning permission and building control wasn’t quite as big a deal back in the Iron Age. Fortunately, given that we haven’t seen trails of molten kilts and ginger wigs flowing through the streets of the city, there’s not been an eruption. While there were of course great tactical reasons for building the castle at the top of a volcano, it’s also reflective of the inherently romantic and “live for the day” nature of Scottish innovation – if it goes wrong, we’ll fix it tomorrow.

Success Stories

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This never say die thread of thought has found itself at the heart of Edinburgh start-ups, and nowhere more so than in the technology sector – where only the bravest dare venture against the behemoths of Google, Facebook, Twitter, Apple, and all other branded electronic goods. And yet, Edinburgh has become the home of our own technology giants, including some of the most disruptive, prominent and valuable companies. Booked a holiday through Skyscanner lately? Played Grand Theft Auto? Watched Sky? Maybe you did all three on a Dell computer? If you did, chances are, someone in Edinburgh played a part in your experience.

The Unicorns

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There’s a term to describe many of these companies. And somewhat aptly, considering they’re the national animal of Scotland – it’s the Unicorn (No really, it is. Pinky promise.). A Unicorn, is regarded as a private company valued at $1bn or more. In Edinburgh, there’s a number of businesses who have either achieved this status, or have the potential to join them – and the spotlight is shining brighter than ever. From companies like SoDash, providing highly advanced social media analytics, to brands like FanDuel leading the charge for Fantasy Sports, Edinburgh is the place to be. Indeed, the technological volcano hasn’t only erupted across Edinburgh – it’s booming across Scotland. Across in Glasgow, companies like Zapcoder lead the way in social games. Head further north, and healthcare technology is booming in Dundee, as VFT recently secured £10million funding for it’s medical device innovations. Indeed, Dundee University received a £2.2 million grant for it’s dialysis research. Clearly, the “City of Discovery” continues to live up to it’s name.

The Future

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In many ways, we shouldn’t be surprised that the country that gave us the telephone and the TV continues to innovate. Yet, when more and more businesses head to Palo Alto instead of Peterhead, we have to wonder why? With so much technological innovation in the Scottish economy, aren’t we set to become the first future-proof economy? Given that Moore’s law is increasingly set to expire, the next set of advancements in technology are increasingly unlikely to come from power – it will come from precision. The scalpel, instead of the sledgehammer. And with the finely-tuned innovative companies that continue to blossom across our landscape, we’re excited for what comes next. Home is where the heart is, and technology’s heart is in Edinburgh.

Content Marketing Meets Automation

Content Marketing Meets Automation

Content marketing, that alien buzzword creature. What a ridiculous notion, that by putting out sufficient quantities of high quality content, someone could attract customers without reaching out to them. A curious idea, indeed. Except of course, we’ve now seen it work. Inbound marketing strategy typically results in more leads, conversions, and best of all – does it for much less financial cost. Of course, there’s nothing wrong with the occasional outbound direct mail, or even *gasp* picking up the phone. However, with the success of content marketing, came an overwhelming number of blogs, guides, tips, tricks, and endless more channels that can guarantee you ever more fantastic results. So, as we move towards the next phase of Inbound Marketing, how can a brand look to position itself and stand out from the crowd? A TrackMaven study back in February suggested that while the amount of content produced last year rose 34%, engagement on these decreased by 17%. What this means, is that it’s a saturated market. And as such, we need new ways to stand out. The answer, is in automation.

Why?

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According to brandpipe, marketing automation is now worth a monumental $5.5bn as an industry. Across the board, it’s the go to tool for finding new leads, nurturing, distributing content, and maintaining engagement. There are no shortage of automation tools that can help you share your content – from MailChimp for your e-mails, to (wink wink, nudge nudge), SoGrow for your social media automation needs. The responsibility of the marketer, entrepreneur, business owner, or key communicator is to establish which channels best connect with each type of customer, and segment accordingly. Not every e-mail will drive traffic, just as not every Tweet is going to generate brand new business. However, the right blend of marketing channels will bring you the best chance of having your content seen by the right person.

How?

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How do we identify the right person? There’s two ways that we can look at this. Option A, is the creation of targeted content, and sharing it with the appropriate audience – this would be the “talk at” the audience model.  This is an excellent way to raise your brand awareness and make people conscious that your brand exists and performs. However, let’s consider an alternative, Option B, Permission based content marketing. Now, that sounds like an impressive phrase that you can drop into your performance review and show off to your line manager, but what does it actually mean? Ever gave a website your e-mail address to receive an e-book, access a guide, access a trial, or anything in between? You’ve actively gave them your permission to be contacted. Not only does this make sure that your marketing operations remain strictly white hat and avoids the sending of unsolicited e-mail or other contact – the numbers don’t lie. It’s a few years old now, but in a study from 2011, opens on the opt-in lists were twice as high as those who hadn’t consciously given permission. Better still, not only did it receive more opens, the click-through rate on these e-mails were double the average engagement. In the years that have followed, there’s nothing to suggest this trend has really changed.

The Next Step

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The moral of the story. Automation isn’t a scary thing, and is a force for good – when used with active permission based methods. The same applies to all channels – messages to your followers about your product is reasonable, messages to the world about them can be less so. To bridge the gap, and achieve opt-in results, it’s important to get your brand in front of people and deliver your value proposition. SoGrow, lets you do just that. Learn how, at www.sogrow.co.uk

Instagram Value for Business

Instagram Value for Business

Before the seemingly unstoppable rise of Snapchat, Instagram was very much regarded the place to be. The concept of a picture telling a thousand words is far from new, but can it really be used by business to succeed? Certainly, the integration with Facebook’s advertising platform offers no end of opportunities for engaging visual copy to succeed. But can it convert into something worth the investment?

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Consider for a moment, that Instagram didn’t exist. We’d still like to share attractive pictures of ourselves and our surroundings to our friends and the world. Would we text them? Of course not, nobody likes a show off. Plus, only one person would realistically see it. Therefore, what need does Instagram actually serve? The answer is, it provides us the best means of promoting the best possible version of ourselves to as many people as possible. Why were people upset that a Facebook algorithm was set to kick in? Because it removes the chronological chaos. For those unaware, Instagram typically worked like a giant free for all, in which the best photos and content would rise to the top of the pile through the community. When the announcement came that it would prioritise your friends instead of the random force of the Instagram bubble, people were more than a little sad. Before, anyone could be Instagram famous for a day and have their message go viral. Now it needs engineering. Horrible news for the innocent civilian, but tremendous news for the data-driven marketing teams of the world.

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With the recent addition of Google Analytics tracking codes for links on Instagram, they’ve made it entirely clear in the plainest terms that they want people to measure their success on the platform. This isn’t a move that would be made, if people weren’t successful. Indeed, there’s already an industry around individuals being sponsored to post about products – and it’s booming, and growing. Companies like Thuzio continue to grow and find success, connecting the right influencers with the right brand, at the right time to deliver maximum value for advertisers. In many regards, this is where we see Instagram being particularly useful. It offers a means of being incredibly visual, and if content is promoted by the best person for a specific audience, it offers the best way of making a first interaction. Platforms like Instagram, more than many others, allows for the positioning of a brand expert much faster than many others. While someone’s Twitter authority is typically measured by the number of followers held, and a Facebook page by it’s number of likes, Instagram authority is all about your most recent image – presenting the opportunity for anyone to be the “go-to-guy/girl” on any issue.

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The conclusion? Instagram very much offers business value, but in order for it to succeed – it absolutely must be picked up by the right people. The platform, in addition to third party tools such as SoDash, Thuzio, and SoGrow (who have Instagram automation coming soon!), offer an excellent means of identifying the key influencers for your industry. What matters most next, is tailoring your content to meet their needs. And that, is something we’ll discuss very soon!

Microsoft buys LinkedIn – And gets a $26.2bn bargain…

Microsoft buys LinkedIn – And gets a $26.2bn bargain…

If you’ve been on social media at all today, you’ll have noticed the news that Microsoft have agreed to acquire LinkedIn, the darling of the professional social media scene. What captured the imagination most, was the figure – $26.2bn, purchased in cold hard cash. While we’d love the image of this being sent in a massive wheel-barrow, we’ve got the SoDash technical pros to do some rapid number crunching. We can therefore tell you that if paid in $100 bills, this will fill 250 standard shipping pallets, with 1 ton of Benjamin’s on each one. Or if you prefer, 23 20ft shipping containers. Cash, truly is king.

But, since that’s a grossly inefficient way to pay a bill, let’s focus on something more important – the image of what this actually buys Microsoft.

Mobile Strength

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Though for what it’s worth, ‘s not talk about the Windows phone for a second. Or rather, if we must, let’s also remember that they were the first to try and take a tablet to the mainstream. History shows they were ahead of their time. While we don’t anticipate the second coming of Cortana-powered mobile, LinkedIn have had 49% Year on Year growth in their mobile arm, and 105 million unique visitors per month. It’s no secret that mobile is the future – and this helps reposition Microsoft as relevant once again.

A Fast Buck

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Making money out of a social network isn’t an easy job. In fact, it’s one of the hardest things you can do – people don’t like paying for things, or seeing adverts. How you manage that represents a major challenge, but LinkedIn achieved it to make around $3bn in revenue last year. LinkedIn exists in a tricky world, whereby it’s very much the social network for professionals, but doesn’t really appeal to the wider world. Microsoft have the capacity to tie it in with their existing office and enterprise solutions, perhaps offering job postings and advertising packages based on LinkedIn data.

The World’s Greatest Mailing List

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$26.2bn is a lot of money for an e-mail. However, consider the number of professionals with e-mails, phone numbers, industries, data, and everything in between. Very quickly, this can lead to the most aggressively and accurately targeted advertising campaigns imaginable – niche adverts on a hyper-targeted level, delivered through the platform – for free. Anyone who has ever crossed LinkedIn’s palm with silver for the pleasure of sending In-Mails will know how effective it can be. Imagine having the e-mail address of key leaders, influencers and pros in any global field. Suddenly, it’s a very good investment.

What do you think of Microsoft’s big move? Considering this is more than 3x what they paid for Skype back in 2011, can we expect this to be the tip of a wider acquisition iceberg? We’re excited to see what comes next. As we always say, in social media, no two days are ever the same. And it turns out, no two platforms are either.

Curious to learn more about us, and what we do? Visit www.sodash.com and www.sogrow.co.uk, to learn more.

All images sourced from Pixabay

Social Media Finishing School: LinkedIn

Social Media Finishing School: LinkedIn

Social media. What a weird, and wonderful place. In a world where 52% of employers check your profiles ahead of interview, the average Facebook user has 338 friends, and we share over 1.8bn photos online per day…how do we do it with the proper etiquette that each platform deserves? Naturally, this got us thinking. So, welcome to SoGrow’s unofficial finishing school – Making sure you’re not “that person” on social media. Let’s start with the platform that everyone loves to hate – LinkedIn.

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Of all the social media platforms, LinkedIn has always been the suited and booted older brother. The Sell Out. The Ford Focus driver. The two weeks vacation with the wife and kids. Your very own virtual wine and cheese mixer. You kind of hate them, but well, there’s nothing else quite like it, so you attend their barbecues and take up golf. With this maturity, comes certain golden rules that if disobeyed, will soon see you falling off people’s radar faster than you can decline that random connection request from a friend you’ve never met. Here’s the top 3;

1) LinkedIn is not Reddit.

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There is a time and place for your “Dank memes.” It is not here. Equally so, no matter how many puzzles you solve in which “8/10 GENIUSES can’t solve THIS puzzle!”, you will be cast to the very edges of the circle of trust if you can’t communicate with clarity, and in a suitably professional way. Leading figures suggest that profiles without a photo attract 7 times less views than those with  a photo. And while I’m sure in a former life you were wonderful as Johnny “Flameboyz” Smith, it’s time to put a tie on, and polish your shoes. Capitals on your name, and on the companies you work for – unless you work for a cool company that don’t believe in them. Basically, imagine you’re writing a CV to the world, and act accordingly.

2) Your number of connections means less than you think.

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There’s a little bit of explaining needed here. If you have absolutely no connections, you might be struggling to get yourself out there. If you have several thousand, the chances are, many of them aren’t relevant to you. But certainly, don’t boast about the number of followers you have. Anyone can sit and click connect on every single person they see. This might give you a large network, but it won’t give you a quality network. When you press connect, do so with a reason, and introduce yourself. Even if there’s nothing to talk about right now, a little “thanks for connecting” will go down well, and help you be remembered.

3) Contribute to the community.

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There’s something frustrating about making a LinkedIn post, and only having 20 people read it. Most people who write anything want it to be seen and read by millions, and find overnight success. They’ll say “This. This is the thing the world needs.” The reality is, that not many will actually see your content. Which is why it’s important to constantly produce quality content, and share it with the community. Sooner or later, good content will always rise to the top of the pile – like everything, success comes from effort or luck – and the first is far easier to get a mortgage with! Having something interesting to share adds to your credibility, helping you climb the contributor ladder and become a trusted figure.

Keep an eye on the blog for updates, and the next part of our social good behaviour guide!