The best business advice, opinion, news and expertise in Greater Manchester and further afield.

Friday, 23 August 2013

Friday Guest Blog: Keeping the Greater Manchester business community at the leading edge of digital communications

René Power, Digital Director at BDB

Few would doubt Greater Manchester’s role as a world leader in championing digital creativity. The birthplace of the world’s first programmable computer and for many years the location of the most profitable Google office on the globe – the region has a proud history at the forefront of the digital revolution.

Never a place to rest on its laurels, Greater Manchester remains ambitious about its position in the digital world. Indeed, Manchester is currently striving to become one of the world’s top 20 digital cities by 2020, with plans to invest more than £60m on its digital infrastructure. In MediaCity, meanwhile, the region is also home to the largest purpose-built media and digital hub in Europe.

And the future looks even brighter for Greater Manchester’s digital sector. With over 10,000 students studying digital, creative and media courses across the region, it has one of the world’s largest talent pools from which to draw. And innovative and forward-thinking groups and associations such as the MPA and Manchester Digital are uniting the region’s digital specialists and providing an even stronger innovation platform for the sector.

But, the online world is a fast moving place and for vibrant local businesses that want to stay at the cutting edge of digital communications, it’s crucial to always be ready to identify and embrace the latest trends. With that in mind, René Power, digital director at Altrincham-based international marketing communications agency, BDB, provides some insights into upcoming key trends that could help Greater Manchester businesses stay ahead of the pack in their digital communication strategies.

1. Mobile

Depending on who you listen to, internet use via the mobile smart phone has already tipped into the mainstream.

This cool infographic from DCI charts some impressive numbers on mobile Internet use. Though it focuses on the US, it is a pretty good barometer for how we’ll be using our portable devices moving forward.

64% of mobile time is spent in apps; 30% of mobile search is with local intent; mobile advertising market predicted to hit $24.5bn by 2016.  Only marketing for a 15” desktop monitor is a business and career-limiting move.

Takeaway: If you aren’t thinking mobile when it comes to web experience; and how customers want ‘at a touch’ information, you will deliver a sub optimal experience and lose business.

2. Social media

87% of US marketers use at least one social media platform –Linkedin, Facebook, Twitter, Google+ or Pinterest – to distribute content.

The biggest impact the social age has had on marketing has been in the replacement of traditional campaigns in favour of ongoing programmes of engagement.  Dialogue has replaced broadcast as millions of people at a touch of a button can interact directly with brands…and publish their view of a brand.

Takeaway: Showing up regularly and in a focused way is critical on social networks. Advance the work of others in the community as well as your own to truly be seen as the industry ‘go to’.

3. Content marketing

Good social media requires content. The Content Marketing Institute believes through surveys that 94 percent of UK marketers use some form of content marketing.

True, using content to impart knowledge and derive expert positioning can increase back-links, web traffic and leads. But, there has been such an explosion in people doing this there is now a quality imperative.

Content marketing is really about providing relevant information in agreeable formats to allow customers to do a better job. Through the process, building trust in you as an expert in your craft, it’s a longer term promotional proposition but creates traction and a dialogue over time.

That’s why articles, blog posts, video and case studies consistently rank amongst the most relevant forms of content. Just remember to answer that customer focused question – ‘What’s in it for me?”

Takeaway: Consider creating a hub of interesting content that grapples with known industry problems – a blog, Slideshare account, YouTube channel.

4. SEO and author rank

Author rank is a metric that has been given greater prominence by search engines like Google to better position web pages in search page results. Higher ranking is afforded to original content that is shared on sites like Google+ and other social networks and the degree to which it is engaged with by audiences.  

Content that is liked and shared more positions the author as an expert. Find out more about how to make the connection between your content and your authorship here.

Author rank becomes the driving force for a digital marketing strategy built on great content delivered across multiple platforms and available to a range of devices. If you click my name in the introduction of this article, we’re exploring it too.

Takeaway: Start with Google+ by creating a page, establishing circles from your connections on other platforms and publishing links to your existing content.


Don’t be fooled that digital advances aren’t necessary in your sector. However niche your products and services are, however niche you think your trade media is, however well you think you know your customers – bear the following in mind.

They are online. They are using a range of devices. They are seeking advice, opinion, recommendation and referral. They will find this elsewhere if you don’t offer it.

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