Monday, 20 July 2009

Musical chairs - ten female musicians to follow on Twitter

Muscians on Twitter
The Saturdays

For those of you with a penchant for bubblegum pop, each member of The Saturdays holds a Twitter profile. It's interesting to compare five different views of an identical experience – often they tweet about the same thing – and each account serves as an outlet for followers to get to know each member as a person (as opposed to one blanket profile – which also exists).

It's also a nice way to gauge which member of the band has the most hope of a successful solo career. Francesca Sandford leads the pack by some way with over 28,000 followers.

Frankie Sandford on Twitter

Imogen Heap

Imogen Heap was once described as music's best kept secret. Judging by her 731,000 followers, this is no longer the case. Heap, on the cusp of releasing a new album, has been recently tweeting about the process of getting music from her head into your ears – it's a fascinating insight into the creative process behind making a collection of songs.

Imogen Heap on Twitter

Lady Gaga

The eccentric pop scarlet only has 75 tweets to her name. Still, she has amassed quite a collection of followers – 563,257 at last count – and she's quite fond of returning the favour; nearly 70,000 users are on her following list. As you'd expect from a lady famous for her eccentricity, Miss Gaga's tweets range from the surreal - “Dancing with the stars tonight. 2moro with the moons” - to the obscure - “In Russia doing research”. There's also the occasional diva tantrum thrown in for good measure.

Lady Gaga Twitter account

Sara Bariellis

The American pop singer has quite the mouth on her. Despite her harmless pop ditties, the young Sara is occasionally known for a bit of harmless cursing; if nothing else, followers can expect to see a different side to the singer. Still, with over one million followers, I suppose you can do pretty much what you want.

Sara Bareilles Twitter account

Little Boots

Little Boots' 736 tweets provide a fascinating insight into the daily life of a rising pop star. You seem to spend a lot of time of planes, apparently.

Iamlittleboots gives followers a nice blend of personal anecdotes and whimsical musings. Also known to conduct the occasional live interview on Twitter with tech-savvy journos.

Little Boots Twitter

Lily Allen

Often described as the pioneer of celebrity twitterers – and with nearly a million followers to show for it – Lily Rose Allen has one of the more entertaining accounts. She often speaks candidly – debasing newspaper articles about her good character and the such – and rarely brings a bad tweet to the table. She's also a regular user of twitpic if you're keen to see the world through her eyes.

Lily Allen Twitter profile

Katy Perry

Perry has a reputation for being a bit of a wild child. This is nicely reflected in her Twitter account – an eclectic mix of backstage antics, real-world situations and occasional self-mockery. It's an entertaining account of the singer's life away from the microphone, peppered with the occasional racy tweet.

Katy Perry on Twitter

Pixie Lott

The 18-year-old Pixie Lott walks a straight line on her Twitter account. A pop princess by name and nature, there's no Bariellis' outbursts here. It's all very sanguine – Tweets about where she is and where she's off to next (normally the next appearance on an MTV-esque pop show). The most edgy update comes when she talks about her new Dr. Dre headphones. Alas, any hint of risqué in this particular update is quickly quenched by the use of a heart-shaped icon.

Pixie Lott Twitter

Florence And The Machine

The Twitter account of Florence And The Machine is barely a month old. Still, you can tell a lot from those first postings and Florence is shaping up to be a fine member of the sorority.

12 interesting updates makes this a Twitter account to watch.

Florence and the Machine on Twitter


The whimsical Australian singer lives up to her reputation on Twitter. Her tweets are slightly surreal, occasionally nonsensical and sometimes share a little too much:

“I'm mean like a cut snake today. I can feel it. I must be ovulating. Wide berth. WIDE berth. Grrrrrrrrrrrrrrrrrrrrrrrrrrr.”


Sia Twitter account

Wednesday, 15 July 2009

Raising the Manchester bar - Creating an effective pub website

Manchester SEO Blog - Manchester bars online| Odd Bar Manchester
I enjoy a drink. I also enjoy digital marketing. It seemed almost inevitable the two would collide at some point.

Many Manchester bars have an online presence. Much like the bars in the area, some sites are great, some sites are bad and some sites are ugly. If the internet was a bar, the latter category of sites would probably be drinking alone in the corner and smelling of whisky.

Here's a run down of what a bar website needs in order to be an effective online tool.

Make the site easy to find

Searches for bars in Manchester often bring up results for third party sites such as and The good bar websites cut out the middle man and are prominently displayed in a search for their name. This can be achieved in a number of ways:

  • A listing on Google Local - This quickly brings up the crucial information – phone number, address, map. Searches for city bars Bluu and The Cornerhouse both result in listings on Google Maps. Very useful for the time-conscious user desperate for a sup.

    Google search for The Cornerhouse
  • URL – Many bars include the term 'Manchester' in their URL. This is great for minimising the number of search results for other UK venues with identical names. The Woodstock in South Manchester takes this a step further and includes the phrase Didsbury in its URL.
  • Basic SEO – The city centre bar Sam's Chop House includes all the major terms in its title tag: 'Sam's Chop House Restaurant Manchester'. Lovely search fodder for the Google spiders and good for ranking on a number of terms.

Simple navigation

A simple layout is crucial for a bar website. In normal circumstances, a user is looking for a set amount of information: where the pub is, what it's like and what they can order for lunch. TV 21 has a simple and easy to understand navigation. Users can select from a number of options, giving them the maximum amount of information with the minimum degree of clicking. The online habitat of Castlefield bar Dukes 92 is also a great example of a navigation done right; simple and intuitive. Elsewhere, the Kro chain has a lovely map on its homepage which highlights the locations of its four Manchester bars.

Good websites should also try to be mobile phone friendly. Bars need to take into consideration the circumstances of some visitors. When users are accessing information via a mobile, do they want to be impressed by an image-led homepage which takes years to load? The best websites for mobile browsers accommodate the small handset screens - small blocks of text and sparse use of images. Additionally, many Manchester bars use flash on their websites. This makes them inaccessible to an iPhone user.

Keeping users coming back

M20, located in deepest Didsbury, is a lovely demonstration of how to keep users on a website. This tidy site offers users the chance to choose their perfect cocktail based on a series of irreverent questions. For example,'On holiday, are you a chilled out beach bum or an action-hungry pirate?'. The website then suggests a cocktail inspired by a user's responses. Helpfully, it also list the price of said cocktail if you fancy a trip to the actual bar.

Blogs are also a nice way to keep users returning to a site. Northern Quarter bar Walrus incorporates a blog into its website, giving staff the opportunity to talk about their recent experiences at the venue. It's a nice touch which gives added depth to the website.

Press reviews are a helpful addition to a site. They help add authority and may convince many users to pay a visit. Odd has a large selection of published reviews for curious punters.

Online design should have character

The design of a website reflects the character of the establishment. The look of a website creates an immediate impression. To this end, a trendy student haunt probably shouldn't look like a website for Dunder Mifflin.

The website for the Trof chain incorporates elements of its décor into the design. It injects some of the character and atmosphere of the venue into the site.

Manchester Trof Bar

Honorary mentions also go to Walrus, Odd and The English Lounge (a traditional boozer in the city centre which is represented online by regal colours and swirling fonts).

Social marketing

Social networking is a great way to get a bar noticed. The Northern, one of the more recent bars in the Northern Quarter, runs an excellent Facebook campaign. The Northern group is regularly updated with news and events. It also includes a list of opening hours and has a well-attended discussion board. To add a little face to the brand, the director of the pub frequently answers user questions about the bar.

The Northern Manchester bar Facebook group

Other notable marketing campaigns include Simple Bar (Facebook) and Sweet Mandarin (Twitter).

Social marketing takes a reasonable amount of effort – a undernourished Facebook group page reflects badly on any establishment. A comment on the group page of one particular Manchester bar highlights these perils.

“Can we update this crappy page? Or delete it and start a new one?”

Many Manchester bars also offer regular emial newsletters. This is a simple way of keeping in touch with customers and letting them know about events and offers. Rain Bar and Simple Bar are just two examples of venues using this effective technique.

Monday, 6 July 2009

Google Images Adds New Filtering Option

It's been a busy month for Google. Not content with riling a large proportion of the UK SEO community with its apparent change to UK SERPs, the techies at Google HQ have found the time to implement a new option to its image search service; allowing users to reduce or raise the level of adult content directly from a results page.

It is now incredibly simple to switch between different degrees of safe search in Google Images. The level of adult content can now be easily changed by clicking on the option under the search bar.

Google Image change to adult filter

However, I am sure there are many people keen to say that the first result - an image of Manchester United striker Wayne Rooney - fails to adhere to the use of 'strict' filtering of adult content.

Story courtesty of Google Blogoscoped

Wednesday, 1 July 2009

A simple guide to understanding Trending Topics on Twitter

Twitter Trending Topics - An internet popularity contest
Twitter gives users the ability to share information. Fast. Using the 'Trending Topics' (the list on the right hand side of the homepage), users can quickly view the most talked about subjects at any particular time.

Here's how the system works:

This is a keyword - examples include celebrity names, locations or events. Only one user has tweeted using this keyword. It's very lonely.

Another Twitter user (usually a follower of the original user) has seen the previous tweet featuring our keyword. This user will either 'retweet' the original message or make their own unique tweet. This tweet will include the above keyword. Now there are two tweets featuring this keyword.

The keyword has spread through Twitter. Many followers - either from the original user, or their followers - have seen the use of this keyword and have now tweeted or retweeted featuring this particular term. These users may also be in other countries. See the recent #iranelection trend for an example of this.

So many users have tweeted this keyword that it has become famous. Famous keywords feature on the top 10 Trending Topics. This list is of the most popular words or phrases being used at any one time.

Sometimes, a keyword is so popular that it crashes Twitter. This usually happens when millions of users post their tweets around the same time. Twitter explodes. Or at least, its server starts smoking. Global events like the death of popstar Michael Jackson is one such example of this.

Occasionally, companies try to use Twitter to market their wares. A very dubious way of doing this is to use a popular keyword in a tweet, followed by what it is they are trying to sell. This is frowned upon.

Trending Topics can vary greatly depending on the circumstances. A trending topic may disappear completely or it may remain in the top 10 list for quite some time.