Thomas Cook New Year’s Resolutions Calculator

Thomas Cook has just released an extremely smart piece of content, a New Year’s Resolutions Calculator with a twist. The tool allows you to input your vices, then using HTML5/CSS3 it works out what you could save over 3, 6 or 12 months if you choose to keep your resolution.New Year’s Resolutions Calculator The clever twist is that Thomas Cook then links to the appropriately priced holiday listings for your savings.

It’s a great effort that integrates a timely idea with clever web development, and is well worth some additional publicity. In terms of improvements, my main concern would be the distribution. I’ve had my own projects crippled by poor online engagement rates around Christmas and New Year. To launch on the 27th December, after so much work seems a pity.

A smaller concern would be with the sharing mechanism itself. In order to encourage distribution, you want users to click the Facebook, Twitter or Google+ buttons but the process delivers you to the holiday listings, with no emphasise on these buttons in the steps or design.sharing-buttons-tc-calculator I do really appreciate the commercial spin on this project, so it would be good to find a way to hit both goals simultaneously.

One idea would be to include the user counts on the sharing buttons, to contrast more with the rest of the design and make people more aware of the option before they continue onto the holidays. I’d also test an interstitial pop-up box on the holiday listings link, asking users to share to their friends at that point. My gut feeling is that the pull of knowing the holiday value of their resolutions would keep them from clicking away.

So far the page has built up 5 IBLs and a handful of twitter hashtag links but this piece of work deserves far more.

Hat tip to Ian Bowden and Pete Campbell

Pinterest Enables Business Accounts

Caught my eye this week, that Pinterest have just enabled business accounts for users. To date commercial activity was actually against their guidelines. As Liz Gannes over at AllthingsD explains,

Aside from being allowed to act commercially, there are a few more benefits to being a business user: Verification badges, buttons and widgets to try to drive more people to follow your Pinterest page, and access to new features.

I’ve not found a way to use to integrate Pinterest into one of our content marketing strategies to date, but the fact they welcome commercial activity is pulling me back for a closer look. Danielle Fudge, Head of SEO over at Forward 3D, had an interesting idea with their Pinalytics tool (seen at BrightonSEO). This allows you to see the originating URLs and page authority of pinned items, giving you a contact outreach list.

Is Pinterest playing a role in your link building strategies or are you still just using it for engagement and reach. Let me know in the comments.

Raising Conversion Through Badges

This infographic at Econsultancy created by Monetate suggests that product badges can actually improve conversion rates by as much as 55%, so it’s clearly a sales method that can’t be ignored.

I’ve found this to be true within ecommerce CRO. Look especially at schemes which install trust in the user, such as SSH site-seals, Truste or McAfee Hacker Safe. For good old sales icons, these sites would be a good place to start.

Facebook Language & Location Targeting Misses the Mark

If Facebook was a country, 500m users would make it the 3rd largest. Some way behind China (1.3bn) and India (1.2m) but comfortably ahead of America (312m). It’s easy to see why this platform has become a central pillar of social media marketing in many markets.

However Facebook marketing presents a challenge for international brands, who have to balance global brand message with the need to appeal to the local audience, often in their own language.

There are two schools of thought. The first method is to focus all activity on a single Facebook page, in one language (usually English). At a push you can address significant sub-sections of your audience through sub-pages (previously tabs). The second method is to create dedicated language pages for each audience (e.g. Samsung Russia).

As you probably suspect, I choose the latter. Multilingual marketing is about localising your message to each specific audience. In order to make a brand cross into a new territory, local consumers have to feel ownership and recognise their values in your message.

One disadvantage of dedicated-language pages is the administration. When Facebook announced new targeting features to publish wall posts by region or language I was excited to see how this would change the game. The new feature works like this:

Location filtering is most likely conducted by a geolocation search on the user’s IP range. Language is more interesting, as Facebook uses the member’s interface language in their settings (Language > Primary Language). Could this be a better solution for Facebook multilingual marketing?

Sadly no. Although many experts are advocating this solution, my own experience in the Russian market raises some questions.

1) Facebook has taken some time to crowd-source their translations. This has meant early-adopters have already signed up in English and may not want to change to their local setting. In fact, many Russians rate the translation as poor and deliberately use an English interface.

If I was using this feature to target by Russian language, my message would miss many Russian users.

2) Yandex showed in their summary of the Russian Blogosphere that 30% of participants are not located in Russia. There are large Russian communities in the Ukraine, Israel and the US who interact. Choosing to target by location ignores these communities of language.

Targeting by location would be useful for promoting local events, but it doesn’t determine the language of our users.

3) This filtering lends itself to mixed-language streams. Page admins are unlikely to target English posts to every English speaking market (US/ Canada/UK for a start). That means one language (presumably English) will become the default, but non-English users will see local-language posts among this stream.

A mixed-language feed spoils the localisation effect and is confusing for multilingual users (unless they set this up specifically).

Synapse’s posting platform could help here but as a western website, many non-English users are interacting with Facebook in English. Let alone the non-local audiences in each country (think ex-pats or even holiday-makers). By restricting English content to a few countries, you will cut off this traffic.

4) Poor consideration for usability. Users should be able to make an easy switch between languages. In the current setup, users would have to make a change to their profile. It would be preferable to have a quick language/location switch or use the more intuitive ‘Languages’ set in my profile.

Multilingual marketing is hard work and I can’t help feeling that many marketers have jumped at this ‘easy’ option. With multilingual marketing, always look at local circumstances and ensure that you are localising effectively.

I’m happy Facebook are addressing multilingual issues, it’s an area that many western social platforms have neglected. Hopefully this feature will continued to be developed, adding negative match and default post-targeting options would be my next step. At the moment though this is a nod towards multilingual marketing rather than a solid strategy. Dedicated-language Facebook pages remain the best solution.

Image Credit: Just Missed by DanDeChiaro – thank you

French Handball Creates Online Reputation Nightmare

Communication has been drastically changed by the Internet. Now world events are commented on within minutes by thousands of users. So when Henry Thierry used the ‘hand of God’ to push them through to French team through to the 2010 WorldCup – millions of comments appeared on the web.
In terms of client reputation management this is the stuff of nightmares. SERPs on terms such as ‘French cheats‘, ‘French cheating‘ are far from flattering. Are nations the ultimate ORM clients?

After all, countries already hire PR firms to raise their profile abroad. The Russian government hired U.S.-based PR agency Ketchum in 2006 to spruce up its image in the West for the remainder of its G8 presidency. They indicate that they were also working on the Internet.

Russia is fairly thinly resourced on the communications side, so they need a whole range of support: advice on how the Western media operates, logistical support, technical support, drafting materials, web materials, and things like that.

There’s certainly a lot of work to do for the team handling French online reputation. Not only this latest event but looks like they have barely touched the ‘French cowards‘ SERPs.