Social media integrity

Another day, another corporate social media gaffe. Another individual not associated with the organisation, or another account hacked. And apologies to anyone who was offended.

Really? Do you buy that?

Last night Liverpool probably threw away the Barclays Premier League title by blowing a 3 goal lead away to Crystal Palace. Shortly afterwards, the below Vine appeared on the official Tottenham Hotspur account, apparently mocking Liverpool. 


Naturally this was not the fault of the club who are now looking into security issues with their Vine account, adding that it was not tweeted by anyone affiliated to Tottenham Hotspur. 

TH denial

Whether this is true or not, it is very damaging to Tottenham Hotspur, not just because they have effectively admitted they have security issues, but whomever uploaded this in the first place, is hardly in a position to mock in the first place. 

When it comes to crisis management in social media, being honest and displaying integrity is the key to success. It may be true that the Vine account was hacked but it seems too well timed and planned to have been the work of a rogue hacker. I would presume that Spurs have a robust social media policy, strategy and reporting in place, which will surely be able to detect the exact time and ip address of the ‘poster’, which should confirm that the apparent hack was external. If this is not the case, and there is no further statement, and possibly even a restructure of the social media team, then questions will need to be asked of Tottenham Hotspur themselves.

If you do not post with honesty and integrity, and admit mistakes, you leave your brand exposed and lose a lot of trust and confidence within your market place. Is it worth the risk? 



Module two – #squaredonline

I can’t believe how fast Squared Online is going! It feels like I only started the course a few weeks ago however we’re already 2/5 of the way through the course.

On Wednesday, my project team submitted our digital business idea – LoveBooks – an open source, subscription based publishing programme, aimed at children. Considering that nine complete strangers could come together, with no prior knowledge of our backgrounds, come up with ideas and pull together a pretty robust business plan and rudimentary technological platform for the product in just three weeks was a pretty impressive feat.

We were allocated a place on teams at the start of March and first introduced ourselves to the group via a Google Hangout. From there we have twice weekly Hangouts where we presented, researched, rehearsed and refined our idea. Once we had pulled together all the information for the final presentation, we attempted to put together a plan for recording and uploading our presentation however, as half the group lived in the London area, I suggested that we get together and record the presentation as a group, So, I had four complete strangers over to my flat on Tuesday night. Powered by wine and pizza, we further refined and recorded our presentation, before circulating the presentation around the other members of the project team. With no objections from the other members of the project team, we submitted our project, confident that we had done a good job.

Whilst everyone studying Squared Online is clearly ambitious and motivated to succeed, time constraints and real life can often get in the way of studying outside working hours, so I felt particularly lucky to get an awesome project team who I could work openly and honestly with to deliver something, without the group falling out! Fortunately, we’ll be working together in Module three, which starts on Wednesday. Now that we have a good understanding of our individual strengths, I’m expecting we’ll be able to deliver and even better result with our task.

I can’t wait to get started! 

#squaredonline hard at work

#squaredonline hard at work


Of the initial tasks set out as part of Google Squared, the one task that I was not looking forward to was setting up a blog. Not that I have no problem with setting up a blog, rather I already have two relatively successful blogs that have achieved initial aims (raised money for charity/ provoked debate). Both current blogs have a different look and feel to appeal and attract different audiences (running/ digital), so I don’t really want to replicate the existing blogs. And, choosing another topic that I’m interested in, isn’t difficult, however choosing just one topic, is the challenge.

The blog has to be set up by the 26th of February and I’ve got to keep it going for the duration of the course with at least five posts. It doesn’t sound very challenging does it?

So, I was thinking I’d put it to you dear readers. Just vote below, and let me know what you’d like to hear more of.

Hip to be square(d)

I’ve always taken my professional development seriously. For any professional working in a fast paced digital environment, it is crucial that you constantly adapt, evolve, learn and develop. So, over the past 12 months, I’ve been looking around for another course that could potentially help my professional development.

Now, I graduated with a diploma in Digital Marketing from the IDM in 2011 and have continued my development by completing the IDM CPD each year following my graduation. Personally I wasn’t keen on doing something as long as the diploma, and I found that the majority of short courses were too specialist, and ultimately not really suited to my long term career aspirations. Additionally, the majority of courses are out of date before you begin them, as the curriculum is fixed, not flexible. 

Then I heard about Squared Online, by Google.

Squared Online is a 6 month course on digital leadership, developed by Google and certified by the Institute of Practitioners in Advertising (IPA), in 2011 to provide an educational programme that moved at the speed of technology, not education, with the intention of developing the sort of person that any digitally focused business wants on their team. Which is exactly what I’m looking for from a course. So, I applied. And was accepted.  The course is fairly exclusive, with only 30 people taken on the course every 6 months. Add in my slight change in career direction, taking my digital skills from in house to agency side (more on this later), over the next 6 months I’ll develop into a real change agent within the industry, learning from the very best both professionally and academically.

Naturally, something like this doesn’t come easy. I’m expected to dedicate 10 hours a week to get the most out of the course. Honestly, I think that this is a small price to pay, considering what I’ll be learning over the next 6 months…

Google Squared

Customer service…

Hands up if you live a busy life? Of course you do. We all do! Our time is precious. Whether it’s personal or professional; sometimes we feel that there just aren’t enough hours in the day. Now, hands up if you’ve ever bought anything online and arrived home to find a card informing you that your order is sitting in the local post office collection depot. Or worse… an industrial estate in Acton. Depending on the size of your item you then either go and collect it, or arrange for it to be redelivered at a time convenient to you. But more often than not, you’ll find you have to pay a premium to have it delivered at some time outside of working hours. Quite simply, convenience costs.

So, unless you are prepared to pay  to have your item delivered on a Saturday morning, you have to take time off work – i.e. eating into your precious holiday time. But that could be minimised if the company that are delivering your package, use a tech savvy carrier that enables to you either specify the time of delivery to within an hour or track the delivery of your package. 

So, yesterday, I was due to have four radiators delivered by Fedex. I made sure I was home for the whole day as I wasn’t prepared to either have the radiators left outside the flat, or taken away for redelivery. After completing my order, I was offered a delivery date of Monday, and informed that I’d be able to log into the customer tracking system to track the progress of my order from dispatch to delivery. ‘Perfect!’ I thought. I can log into my account on the day, find out the progress of the delivery and be able to structure my day accordingly. However, when I logged into my account, around, I was informed that the radiators had left the depot, however I could expect delivery at some point before 5.30pm. Handy! I googled the address of the depot and discovered that it was around 5 miles from home. So, I picked up the phone and asked the helpful receptionist if they could give me any more information regarding my delivery. Unfortunately they could not. I’d just have to sit and wait until the delivery arrived.

In the end, I wasn’t waiting for the whole day as the delivery turned up shortly after noon. But that’s not the point. As a customer I felt utterly powerless and trapped.

In a digital age, this is appalling customer service.

In a way, I could understand were we talking about a small delivery firm. But we’re talking about Fedex – a firm with an astronomical marketing budget. Who track planes, trains and vans, to ensure that they know where their deliveries are. So, why can’t they give that information to customers? Now, I appreciate that there may be security issues of say, being able to see the exact location of the Fedex delivery van, however, as a customer I’d be satisfied if the tracker could tell me how far away the van was, and how many deliveries had to be made before the van reached me. Maybe not ideal to know that there are 25 deliveries before you and you won’t see your order for a few hours, but at least you’d know, rather than spending the day kicking your heels. If you buy your shopping online, you don’t sit around for the day, waiting for it to arrive. No,  you can specify hour time slots, and if there’s any delay, the driver will call you. Is it beyond Fedex to offer a service like this? 

Ultimately, the online tracker, or the app offered by Fedex may look great but they fail to solve the one problem that every customer wants to know… when will my package arrive?

My finest work… to date

On the 2nd of July 2013 I launched what is undoubtedly my finest work to date – the brand new website for Top 20 Chartered Accountants, Saffery Champness. This is the culmination of 18 months of hard work, taking a firm that had neglected their online presence to delivering a best in class website that is loved by partners, clients, prospects and intermediaries, and is the envy of the marketplace. It is engaging and stimulating, with clear direction and customer journey, designed to help all visitors to the website, find the information that they require as quickly and simply as possible.

To visit the website today, you wouldn’t believe the challenge that I faced. As you read this case study, you’ll see some examples of before and after pages on the website. This was not a website refresh – more a fundamental change in the way that the organisation positioned itself, and how it was viewed by both clients and prospects, and the competition.

Saffery Champness were founded by Joseph John Saffery in the city in 1855 and over the next 150 + years grew to be recognised as one of the top 20 accountancy practices in the UK, with International operations based out of Guernsey and Switzerland. If you’d like to know more about the firm, why not read more about the history of the firm on the brand new ‘About us’ section of the website. 

Now, back to the project itself; I began work with the firm at the tail end of 2011. The first task of a project of this magnitude is not to think about the look, feel and design of the website, but to undertake a website health check. I delved deep into Google Analytics, finding out how visitors to the site behaved, what they were looking for, how long they spent looking on the site, and identifying key exit points, and developing an understanding of why they were leaving the website. I also took a look at the site itself. A bespoke CMS was created that was frankly unwieldy and inefficient from the point of view that it was almost impossible to make changes to – without paying a fee to the agency that developed the site in the first place.

Around the same time that I joined the firm, the firm unveiled its new business plan for the next three years, outlining the vision of the firm its core values, and how the firm wished to be seen within its marketplace. I read the business plan over and over again and began sketching out visual representations of how the firm wished to be seen, based around the key words in the document, paying particular notice to the sectors the firm worked on behalf of, and the services they offered. From my initial review of the website stats it was clear that visitors to the website were interested in the sectors the firm worked on behalf of, and the services offered, however visitors were most interested in people – both our people but also our careers section (another key area of the business plan). At the start of February 2012 I presented an audit of the current website, featuring a number of customer journeys, looking at the key entry points to the website – people, sectors, services, offices and careers, and highlighted why these sections of the website were not performing to their potential. I made the presentation visually stimulating by presenting these journeys alongside similar journeys on other professional service, and ecommerce websites.

In my role prior to this, I developed the ecommerce platform for management consultancy Hay Group and, as a result, was well versed in customer behaviour on a professional services website. I took this insight and expertise into this project as whilst we were not selling off the shelf management consultancy tools, we were selling a partner led service. Now, I’m not going to name names but far too many professional services firms attempt to over complicate their site by cluttering their website with links, and the hope that they are creating some sort of customer journey. Yes, there should be complexity and intelligence on a professional services website, but it should not be complicated for the end user. If anything, it should be as simple as possible.

Perhaps the most exciting aspect of this project is that I had a blank canvas. It was accepted by the firm as a whole, that the previous website had served a purpose however it was no longer fit for purpose. With a new vision in place for how the website would look and feel, I could potentially tackle every aspect of web development – from the CMS to the photography, text, imagery and even the logo!

Think about the websites that you regularly visit and purchase from? Why do you visit those websites? It’s because they are simple and easy to use, and it’s actually a pleasurable experience to purchase. If it’s not simple and easy to use, what do you do? Leave! The end user is the most important person in the web purchase process. Make life difficult for them, they’ll leave and they will most certainly not come back! Bearing this in mind I began my research. Whom do Saffery Champness represent and wish to attract to their website? Specifically Private Clients, however across a range of sectors and interests including Entrepreneurs, Landed Estates and Rural Businesses, Professional and Consultancy Businesses, International Clients, Property, Not-for-Profit, Corporate and Sports and Entertainment. Generally speaking, the sectors in question are made of high net worth individuals who require the services of Saffery Champness. I think it’s fair to make an assumption that high net worth individuals are more likely to purchase premium goods, but whatever they buy, they will also expect a discretionary, personal service, tailored to their needs – a service offered by Saffery Champness. Quite simply, the solution was to produce an experience that fully represented the visions and values of the firm and positioned the firm, and its partner-led service, as a premium product.


As you can see from the homepage, it is now engaging and visually stimulating, with clear and crisp entry points for People, Sectors, Services, and Offices. It is representative of the Sectors the firm acts on behalf of, using powerful imagery on the central carousel; it also is client friendly with an obvious point of contact via the ‘Make an enquiry’ function. Marketing supports functions such as Press releases, Publications and ‘About us’ are also visible on the central portion of the website. The top right navigation offers additional links in a drop down to the firm’s International operations in Guernsey and Switzerland, as well as the relationship with Nexia International. There are also links to the ‘About us’, ‘News, Events and Publications’ and ‘Careers’ pages on the website.

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Whom does the firm represent?

The firm represents a wide cross-section of Sectors, from Landed Estates to Sports stars and thus, this section of the site needed to feel welcoming and engaging to attract a wide market. The old Sector landing page was staid, dull, and unengaging, with a peculiar image of the Clifton suspension bridge representing the Sector landing page. The page was cleaned up considerably with the introduction of a carousel representing the Sectors, with powerful visual, relevant imagery to represent the client Sectors.

The repositioning, and increased prominence of the Sectors on both the Sector landing page, and the homepage, resulted in a 300% increase in traffic to the Private Wealth landing page in the first month following launch.

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What does the firm offer to its clients?

Quite simply, the Services landing page follows exactly the same formula as the Sector landing page. Again, powerful, relevant visual imagery has been used to represent the Services that the firm offers. In addition, specific local Services are offered out of the Guernsey and Swiss offices, which have been illustrated by local images to engage with the local market.

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Who are we?

With over 60 partners and directors, it can be hard to know who is the best person to help you with your enquiry. All profiles have been coded by location, Sector and Service, which, by using the filter on the left hand navigation, helps visitors to the site identify the most natural person to assist with their enquiry.

In order to improve engagement and better position people in a more visually stimulating engaging, business focused manner, I commissioned a complete overhaul of the firm’s photography.

The old photography was shot with the partners straight backed with a white background and a camera pointed in their face. They look terrified! Now, look at the new photography. Shot in ‘meeting room situation’, across from the client or prospect, and visually representing the knowledge, gravitas, passion, energy and expertise that they all possess. All the photos were shot in colour and amended to greyscale to give a more classic, timeless look.

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The old website profiles looked and felt like a CV. Long, drawn out, required spending time reading in order to establish whether the individual was the right person to help a client or a prospect with a particular issue.

Profile pages were tagged with Sectors and Services that the partners and directors represented and offered respectively, which fed through the filters on the ‘People’ landing page however the profiles themselves provided a more engaging visual way of presenting their profiles. On the left hand side navigation you’ll see a clear business focused profile photograph, with links to location, Sectors and Services. The upper central part of the page features all contact details, as well as downloadable V-card information, and a link to their LinkedIn profile.

 The real genius of this page is how measurable it is. Thanks to Google Analytics, customer journey can be tracked – how did visitors land on the page? Where did they go next? What did they click on; interests, key experience, email address, sector or service? This will enable marketing to understand more about how visitors engage online, and also begin to track enquiries.

The text on the individual profile pages is written in the third person as Saffery Champness are one united firm, however on LinkedIn, the text is written in the first person as LinkedIn requires a more personal, individual touch, yet littered with content rich keywords to ensure that the partners are found for their respective skill set . The profile photo on LinkedIn has been kept in colour to offer more vibrancy to their LinkedIn profile page.

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Who are the firm? Who are their people? And how do you know they can do a job?

One of the key areas of development for the firm was to improve its recruitment, ensuring that it continued to recruit the very best candidates for future roles. In order to do this, an engaging and stimulating Careers page was required to demonstrate to prospective employees that there was no better place to work than Saffery Champness.

Awards say a lot but nothing says more about a people focused business than the staff themselves, talking about how much they love their work.

Following some research in my previous role, I noticed that our clients spent a lot of time reviewing content on our Careers page. Why? Well to find out what sort of calibre of people we were recruiting, who would ultimately be working on behalf of those clients.

Therefore, to engage with visitors to these pages, as well as prospective employees, I commissioned two ‘Careers’ videos, highlighting members of staff from a variety of roles and backgrounds and locations, who all shared the same visions and values as the firm itself. I’m sure you’ll agree, it’s pretty powerful, engaging stuff.

But who are the firm?

Who better to introduce the firm to the world, highlighting its visions and values, history and culture and people than the managing partner of the firm? Rather than me tell you more, why not click the below link to meet Jonathan Fox and view his introduction to the firm.

I hope you’ve enjoyed reading this case study. It’s truly been a pleasure working for Saffery Champness. It’s certainly not been an easy project however it has been ultimately incredibly rewarding.

I wish Saffery Champness all the very best for the future however the time has come for me to move on to a fresh and exciting project that engages and stimulates a firm with its audience via digital channels.

If this is you or your organisation, please get in touch and we can kick off the conversation. It’s about engagement first and foremost right?

Down with this sort of thing!

Let’s not beat about the bush here. I’m not a fan of the Royal family. But, and I want to make this perfectly clear, that this is a digital blog and not a political blog. And bearing that in mind, I’m going to write something objectively that will actually be of use to them. The royals really need to learn about how to react should a potentially negative story break…

Regardless of whatever I think of the royal family, I fully admit and accept that there is a massive public interest in who they are and what they do. They sell papers and assorted tat however I disagree with them being good for tourists, but there is a genuine interest in them. Fortunately for the general public, there’s a media who are more than happy to give the public their fix of an old racist, a man who resembles a horse and his new wife, or the son of James Hewitt. In general, there is a happy coexistence between the media and royal institutions, but over the past month, two incidents have soured this relationship, namely photos of Harry appearing naked at a pool party, and some topless photos of the prole girl who will one day be queen. To be fair to the British media, they chose not to publish the pictures (The Scum aside), instead coming across as bloody hypocrites by continuing to print page 3 etc etc. Despite expressing disgust at the photos of Harry appearing in print, there’s very little that they Saxe-Coburg’s could actually do as Harry was probably fully aware that he was on film and was more than happy to act up for the crowd. But I do have a bit of sympathy for Kate. To an extent. She was shot on a very long lens camera from a considerable distance, which is arguably a huge invasion of privacy. But they problem that the Royals have, and they still struggle to get, is that because there is so much interest in them in general, they almost lose the right to privacy. I’m not saying that this is right or fair, but they almost have to live their lives under the assumption that their lives will be always be on camera. So, if Kate doesn’t want to appear  topless in the papers, she’s going to have to remain covered up outside the privacy of her bedroom or bathroom.

But what can the Royals learn about the digital world?

First things first, have you seen either the picture of Harry in the buff or Kate in the nip? Highly likely. In a pre-internet social media world, you wouldn’t have done thanks to the media blackout, but thanks to the internet, you can see the photos on any international website. They are there and thanks to the fantastically easy to use search functions on Google and Bing, finding those holiday snaps just got so much easier! The problem that the Royals have is that by threatening to sue media organisations who have published the photos left right and centre, they keep the context of the story in the forefront of the public interest, with the naughty photos, hidden out of sight. By having virtually rolling news on the story, the public are kept hanging on tenterhooks, wondering what the photos could possibly look like. Ultimately, the Royals have just got to accept that once they are out there, the photos are everywhere and you are not going to win by threatening to sue everyone. Instead, keep it simple. Issue an apology and criticise the press for intrusion of privacy, but kill the story. Let it die. Otherwise the more you try to ban or prevent people from seeing something, the more people will want to see it. I think that this clip from Father Ted best illustrates my point:

In conclusion: The Royals, if they are just normal people, as they’d like us to think they are, need to stop being so stuck up and faux moralistic. They need to embrace new technologies and retain a sense of humour. If anything negative comes out, laugh it off but make sure you are critical of the press. The people will eventually get sick of the press. Don’t try to sue everyone left, right and centre or enforce a ban as all you’ll do is fuel the interest of the majority. Once something is out there it’s out there. If you can retain your cool and sense of humour, people will actually respect you more as you’ll be seen as behaving like a normal person.