Wednesday, 29 June 2011

Introducing St Stephen's TV

eskimosoup has teamed up with Newport-based filmmakers Classlane and Anlaby-based design team Bryce Mennell to develop and broadcast the pilot episode of St Stephen's TV to showcase the shopping centre’s hottest products ahead of the summer.

As part of the St Stephen's Summer Essentials programme of activity, we’ve worked with some awesome partners to develop an approach to marketing that put St Stephen's retailers at the heart of the action.

The Summer Essentials campaign has been brought to life by some fantastic creative work from Bryce Mennell and a vibrant summer edition of St Stephen's TV in which over a dozen St Stephen's retailers took part. The film is available online and had been broadcast for two weeks in the High Street within a spectacular giant summer shades display. The film has been made thanks to Classlane, Tina Gill Personal Stylist, Kate Mason and the management team at St Stephen's Shopping Centre who championed this new initiative.

As well as the film, the campaign has featured fun interactive events such as the St Stephen's Garden Party, including games, food samples and live music from Lee Green and the Gargleblasters.
The events conclude this Saturday with the Summer Shades style-event featuring street dancers and style advice.

We’ve enjoyed this partnership with our industry peers and hope that we get the opportunity to do so time and time again!

Monday, 20 June 2011

Back of the Net!

eskimosoup’s marketing team have continued a run of good form by celebrating the success of the inaugural Business Week 6-aside Football Cup.

Sponsored by the generous community champions; St Stephen's Shopping Centre, the cup took place at the outdoor pitches of the Bonus Arena, Hull on the evening of Wednesday 8th June. 20 teams took part as four mini leagues were whittled down to a knock-out tournament.

IT support company Primary Tech beat Humber Sports Partnership 2-1 in a gripping final to clinch the title, though went on to be beaten 5-2 in an exhibition by the Hull City Legends team, including two goals from eskimosoup’s very own Rich Quelch who somehow managed to sneak into the line-up somewhere between Stan McEwan and Stuart Elliott!

The event raised £2,875.00 for the Hull Children’s University and plans are being drawn up for a bigger tournament in 2012 – as they say; watch this space…

In the meantime a video showing many of the highlights (including a Rich Quelch goal and a successful cross-bar challenger) can be viewed here.

Are we on the Same Page?

In last week's article, I discussed the differences between what you and your customers might see when looking at your website and Social Media presences.

Continuing along that theme this week, we'll look at why this happens and where else there may be a problem.

Somewhat ironically, the reasons for the problem on facebook, are it's privacy settings being so good (despite being it's biggest source of criticism) and arguably it's biggest strength, which is how well it translates a user's actions and data into delivering what's of most interest to them.

Depending on a user's personal privacy settings, their posts and comments on your page may be visible to anyone, only friends or friends of friends, while always being visible to the page admins, so what you see may vary from what others see. This is also the case with the 'Top Posts' filter, which dictates the order of the posts by importance to the individual visitor, determined by how many friends have interacted with them.

Despite these concerns, Pages are still far more open and visible than Groups or Personal Profiles, which, although facebook forbids it, are still used by many companies. Personal Profiles especially, can look radically different from what you see to others who may not be 'friends' or registered with facebook. If you use these, again, log out and check it.

Rather than offer advice on easing this difference with Groups and Personal Profiles, the best thing to suggest is to upgrade to a Page. Although there are a few problems as detailed above, these are far less than with the other two and as using them for a business if prohibited anyway, keeping with them might bring their deletion.

A company's profile is not the only place where there's a difference.

Much like with the 'Top Posts' filter mentioned above, a user's news feed delivers what it assesses to be of most interest to them. If a lot of their friends like a page they like, it's more likely to appear, especially if it gets a lot of feedback.

On the other hand, if they're the only ones to like a page and there's little to no feedback on it's posts, they may not even appear in that user's news feed. They'll still appear in the admin's news feed, because being the admin indicates that the Page is obviously of high interest, but don't take that to mean it's definitily appearing elsewhere.

The same goes for the facebook search facility. It again takes into account a users personal connection and likes, to deliver results individually tailored to them. So, if you own a page and a lot of your friends like it, the chances of it appearing at the top of a search will be very high. For someone without that connection, it may not even be on the first page.

As a quick aside while on the subject of search, facebook still only uses page titles when searching for the keywords you input. It therefore remains a good idea to include the main product or service in the page title and if not a national business, also include the geographical region covered.

Hopefully, sometime soon facebook will improve this and take other information from a profile in to account. If it wants to continue in the direction of offering an alternative way to navigate the web to Google, then it will have to take a leaf out of the latter's book and drastically improve it's search module.

There is a similarity between the two though, in that they both tailor results to individuals. With Google, this means that if it appears that you're at the top for your keywords when you search, that might not be the case when others do.

Google may also present an issue with showing your customers something different to what you see, in how it delivers search results. Like the facebook search, it looks for relevance. So, if Google has any data from your browsing history, for example, it will use it to provide you with more relevant results. If you have an account with Google and are logged in, it has even more to influence the results.

All in all, the internet is getting more and more tailored and individual, where just because you're on the same page, doesn't mean you're seeing the same thing. Businesses would do well to bare this in mind.

Friday, 17 June 2011

First Impressions Count; Don't assume that what you present Online will appear the same to your Audience.

Just like meeting someone in person or when a prospect first visits a shop, a visitor's first impression of a business's websites and Social Media accounts is of vital importance. How you present yourself will influence those initial judgements on how professional, successful and capable a business is and whether it's worth a second visit.

With a website, it needs a professional design that gives a feel for the company and copy that succinctly does the same. Usability is also key, so that a visitor can find what they want quickly and without confusion as to how they find it.

eskimosoup have had this as a defining feature of our approach to web design since our inception over five years ago. With the emergence of mobile devices as a means by which to access the Internet, it's become all the more important.

Any good web designer should have always checked the consistency of presentation across the range of browsers, such as Internet Explorer, Firefox and Chrome. Respective browser's interpret the code that dictates the look of a website in different ways and without due care and attention, a great looking website on Firefox could look terrible on IE.

But now, with iphones and other gizmos becoming many people's preferred internet access point, ensuring a website is not only viewable, but looking good on these platforms is essential in professional web design.

However, the days of a website being a company's only online presence are in many cases well and truly over, with facebook pages, twitter profiles, blogs and many other Social Media channels, complimenting their existing sites.

Although some Social Media platforms offer a certain amount of scope for customisation with an account's design, especially with blogs, the bricks and mortar are still created by the host. These are more often than not large companies with full awareness of the need for compatibility across a range of platforms. A business can therefore feel confident that their profiles will be looking good however they're accessed.

In the case of facebook, the bricks and mortar are especially predefined, with less scope to change the appearance of a profile than twitter, youtube, myspace and many other major Social Media platforms. Along with having a mobile version, much like other Social Media, this should make facebook the last one a business needs to worry about.


If you have a facebook page for your business, let me ask you a question; have you ever logged out, then looked at your page?

If not, do it now and although the layout will be the same, you may notice quite a difference in the comments and posts (that's presuming you have posts and comments from anyone other than yourself- Top Tip: if you don't, you're doing something wrong!).

Some comments and posts may well be missing, leaving gaps in conversations and answers to non existent queries still displayed.

The 'Most Recent' posts should still be in the same order, but if you toggle to 'Top Posts' (via the link above and to the right of the 'Write something...' status update field) the order could be radically different. Not so great if a negative comment is at the top when logged out, yet far down the page when logged in.

If it all seems relatively the same and the problems above or similar aren't present, you're lucky and checking back through your wall may show that you haven't always been so.

Get into the habit of checking the logged out version regularly or you may risk making that bad first impression.

Next week we'll look into this more, examining why it happens and where else what your Audience sees may differ from what you do.

Tuesday, 14 June 2011

Spreading that Summer Feeling

The eskimosoup events team enjoyed a fantastic trip to Essex during the May Bank Holiday weekend as our “Summer Suitcase” came to Eastgate Shopping Centre.

“The Summer Suitcase”, part of our Retail Centred approach to events gave shoppers the chance to interact with products and learn about the essentials to pack for going away on your jollies.

The events team illuminated the centre (check out how bright the beach-effect carpet was!) with a display, summer tunes and practical style advice from Tina Gill and Amelia Thompson.

Over 17 retailers took part in the event, including Next, Debenhams, Domo Luggage, Barratts, Jane Norman and The Body Shop.

Alongside the ‘holiday style’ element of the event, we also ran a competition which gave passers by the chance to win £500 to spend at Eastgate by correctly guessing the weight of the giant suitcase.

During the two days, over 200 people were engaged with for product advice to directly generate sales and one lucky customer bagged themselves the £500.

Our team really enjoyed working with the Eastgate team and look forward to doing again later in the year.

Sunday, 12 June 2011

Sharing Some Pride

I figured if there were ever an appropriate place for a self-indulgent burst of pride about our company it would be our blog.

This past week, Business Week Humber took place throughout our region. A dedication team of event holders from the private, public and voluntary sector came together to present 35 top quality events in what is a fantastic example of partnership working across the Humber. Indeed, in the words of Gyles Brandreth, looking across at the delegates at events he saw not only colleagues, but friends.

This is of great significance to our company because eskimosoup had the honour of being at the heart of the organisation and marketing of this programme which is (and will continue to be, until someone shows us otherwise) the largest and best event of its type in the world.
Through working with the week’s coordinators; Hull and East Yorkshire Community Foundation, a determined steering group and many passionate event holders we have had the pleasure of doing our bit to ensure that the week was a continued success.

We are also most appreciative of the generous support and vision of our clients St Stephen's and Hugh Rice Jewellers in sponsoring vital aspects of the week.

I’m not saying the week has been perfect, but hopefully everyone involved feels that we’ve given it our best shot and feel pride in having done so. For the organising team taking on the reigns we clearly have had a lot riding on this and indeed a lot to live up to. The founders of Business Week and their team achieved so much over the past six years and hopefully they feel that we have done a good job of looking after “their baby”.

On behalf of the team eskimosoup, we are proud to be communications partner of Business Week. We are proud of the website, the brochure, that we have assisted with a major wave of positive PR and media coverage and that so many positive comments have been shared through Business Week Live.

Thank you all for being a pleasure to work with at Business Week 2011 and thank you for reading this self-indulgent entry.

As for next year? Watch this space…

Friday, 10 June 2011

Apple launches it's iCloud: Is this the Future of the Internet?

Apple announced the launch of iCloud this week, it's version of the cloud concept which the internet has been moving towards for quite some time now.

If you're unfamiliar with 'the cloud', it's essentially the idea that instead of storing programs and files on a computer, they're kept online. Users then do everything they would normally do offline through their browser, whether it's editing photos and text, listening to music, watching videos, or anything else usually done locally.

This is the next digital revolution and has a vast amount of benefits and repercussions for all who use the internet.

For starters, it removes the need for up and downloading. Instead, files are accessed and used while still on the internet, saving masses of time, not to mention bandwidth.

Those files are stored on the huge, fully backed-up servers of the providers, which are far more secure and unlikely to be lost or damaged than an individual's hard drive or iphone. A fatal error destroying a computer will no longer mean losing anything.

So, a user will no longer need to store their own information. This in itself has it's own ramifications. Without the need for storage or the power to run programs, devices will only need to run a browser. Laptops and mobile phones can become far simpler, much more lightweight and cheaper, in effect nothing more than a 'window' into the web. This should help increase uptake of the internet with those yet to succumb to it's lure.

A user's digital possessions will be accessible from wherever they can get an internet connection, so available across all their devices, whether work based desktops, laptops or their mobile phone. Sharing those possessions should be easier too, though doing so with copyrighted materials may have restrictions.

That sharing could have a big affect on Social Media, which to a large extent is all about exchanging information. With Google and Amazon also having their own versions of the cloud, should a Social Network be introduced around one of these, the potential to share could eclipse that of facebook and offer a real challenge to it's superiority.

That's presuming facebook doesn't already have a cloud in it's future plans and in fact, it's present form would already offer a suitable front end interface by which to access a cloud, so don't be surprised if this happens.

facebook also gives an indication of how the cloud will affect online marketing. The current advertising platform on facebook is renowned for it's precise targeting, using the information a user includes in their profile to display adverts specifically tailored to their interests. With the cloud, it goes one step further, with every digital item a user owns being available for analysis in order to determine how to target them.

This also reveals perhaps the biggest worry and stumbling block in moving towards a cloud based landscape; that of privacy. As long as facebook, or indeed the internet, have existed, there's been concerns about others seeing private data. No matter how many assurances the big internet companies give on this matter, there'll always be people who keep something back, not trusting the cloud's security.

A fully cloud orientated internet would certainly impact on illegal downloaders, with illegal files often easily identifiable and therefore unlikely to be accepted into corporate clouds. The backing of iCloud by the four biggest music labels indicates that this may well be on the agenda.

With itunes being central to music on iCloud, this is indeed one of the criticisms levelled at the new service, which in many ways falls short of the full cloud concept described above. It all seems rather geared towards encouraging more people to use their other 'iproducts', with BlackBerrys, Android and Windows phones being incompatible. There's also limited free storage for items not bought through Apple or it's affiliates, video isn't included and while a music collection is available and synchronized between a user's devices, they still need to download to listen, with no streaming.

Apple has the usual modus operandi of waiting for others to lead the way, then improve on what has come before. They've done the same here, with Google, Amazon and others already having introduced their version of the cloud, and iCloud certainly being an improvement on those, but it's not really the definitive cloud that many have been hoping for.

Whether that complete idea of the cloud is a little too free and uncontrollable for corporations to fully monetize has stopped them going the whole hog or they've planned for that and will introduce new features remains to be seen. Apple and other technology companies do tend to stagger the release of functionality, with several improved future versions often already developed before even unveiling the initial product, so the latter could be likely.

But with such heavyweights as Apple and Google getting behind it, at least a limited version of the cloud is now here and no longer a future dream. Whether the true cloud concept remains that dream or becomes a reality, will depend on if the corporate clouds can still make enough money through it or if some enterprising non- rofit company designed an effective and popular version.

Friday, 3 June 2011

Can your Business help Volunteers in Hull?

It's National Volunteers Week, and with it also being the European Year of Volunteering, not to mention the recent fourth launch of the Big Society by Government, which has volunteering at it's core, the Public are very much being encouraged to give some hours back to their local area.

Charities, Social Enterprises and Community Groups are often the way to go for people who want to volunteer. With the Big Society agenda of decentralisation and localism, these are taking responsibility for more and more local services, from running libraries and leisure centres to providing for the NHS.

Personally, I've been volunteering for about two years, since eskimosoup let me take time to pursue more charitable work. As I've mentioned before on the blog, part of what I decided to do with this was to use my expertise in Social Media to help promote art in our home city of Hull.

I started, which is actually based around a facebook page, and now showcases over 4,000 pieces of art by more than 150 artists born or living in Hull with upwards of 30,000 post views a month. It's completely free to display work and no commission is taken on any sales.

Over 1,300 people subscribe to the page and offer great feedback to professional and amateur artists, many of whom have never had the chance to display their work before. Working with local creative organisations and the Arts Unit at the City Council, Hull Art also provides a platform by which to raise awareness about events and what's going on with art in the area.

So, all very good for a few hours sat in front of a computer each week and I can certainly say that volunteering in this way does offer many rewards apart from the usual financial motivations. I've had so much appreciation for my efforts from the artists involved and there does seem to be a general consensus that it's been great for the city.

But it is still solely online and with the art events and pieces of work being very much in the real world, venturing there could do so much more. Happily, this week we've been given that opportunity.

As Hull Art makes no profit, with the usual income of commissions being absent, taking it into the real world has been a difficult prospect. Being based on facebook has allowed us to determine that there is in fact interest and demand in Hull for what we offer, and it's provided a means by which to build on that, create a buzz around the concept and cultivate a vibrant community. All things that would be a great advantage in opening a premises, but without money, how do we hope to do that?

Taking the lead from the Big Society encouraging business to take more of a role in the good of the country, we looked to small businesses in Hull. We found Artyfax, a small commercial printer, who happened to have a spare shop next door to theirs, which they very kindly donated to us for two weeks. As promotion with the local media is very much on the agenda, we can hopefully return this kindness with some positive PR for Artyfax.

The marketing activities of big business at the moment are all about what they give back to society, with the Great Swapathon at the start of the year being a great example, involving numerous companies such as Coca Cola and McDonalds. I can certainly foresee more small businesses following that example and we'll see if it pays off for Artyfax. Either way, we're very grateful and they've been very kind.

That's not to mention eskimosoup, who have allowed me to write this blog about the project. There's obviously relevance with the aspects of Social Media and 'marketing for good', but it's still very much appreciated. Thank you guys!

The Hull Art gallery has been going great guns in the four days since it opened, with new artists bringing their work in every day and a lot of excitement building around the venture. We've had a good number of people volunteer to staff the gallery and making contributions with things we need, such as coffee and biscuits and yes, it does all feel very Big Society.

It's also been a great example of a facebook page working with a real world establishment, as we've been regularly updating the page on what's new in the shop and our visitors have responded to that when they come in. If they're not actually familiar with the page, seeing our logo on the shop front or coming in to talk with us has introduced them and increased awareness and uptake on the page.

As we go into our second week, we're now looking to bring other local businesses on board. Whether supporting their local artists by decking out their premises with some original artwork or if we're really lucky, offering us space they may have spare, we're hoping they'll appreciate just what a positive thing it is that we're doing and jump at the chance to get involved.

If you're interested or know anyone who might be please contact me at '' or pop in to our gallery on Beverley Road (opposite NETTO). Again, massive thanks to Artyfax, eskimosoup and everyone who's helped out so far. For more information and to see how we're getting on, visit