The Mark Ledden Blog

…audio, video, web and general tech ramblings.

The Irony of Brand Terms and Negative Keywords (Being The Same)


Loft Interiors Logo

After having a chat recently with a friend on the work that I do day-to-day and then trying to explain what it is I actually do, the strangeness of one of the aspects I deal with came to light.

Some of you may know (it’s not that hard to dig around and find this information) that I work for a little company called LOFT Interiors. To the uninitiated, you may think that we specialise in… loft interiors. This isn’t actually true, what we do is provide full furnishing solutions for the residential property industry; such as landlords and letting agents – You get the idea. There is a bit of logic behind the brand name; it consists of an acronym (luxurious, original, furnishings, today) and the word ‘interiors’, which is exactly what we do. The phrase ‘loft’ is just a little unfortunate for the job I do.

Let me explain:

Someone goes to Google and searches for “loft interiors”. Now, in what context are they searching for this? Do they know our company name and they’re simply looking for our website? Or are they actually looking for interiors for lofts? The people who are searching for the latter are not likely to find what they need on our website.

This is shown in the analytics for our website; I’ve noticed a much higher bounce rate for those organic visitors who landed on our site after searching for “loft interiors”. This leads me to believe that much of those people were actually looking for people who actually provide loft interiors. Separating the two groups of relevant and irrelevant people is of huge difficulty.

This problem stretches right across to PPC and Social Media. In adwords, ‘loft interiors’ could (theoretically) be added as a negative keyword but that’s the exact phrase I’m setting up ads for! And how do I monitor the social networks effectively to find people who are mentioning our our brand and not just talking about loft interiors. Nightmare..

Context is everything and finding your way through it is a tough job indeed!

Bottlenose: My favourite app for keeping on the pulse (@Bottlenoseapp)


There’s so much going on in the social space these days. As the networks grow, so does the noise. How do you make sure you don’t miss anything important? How can you focus-in on what matters to you?

I’ve started using a very nifty tool called Bottlenose. It takes the form of a web dashboard and can be used in a similar way to the familiar faces such as Tweetdeck or Hootsuite: You can view message streams, post updates and so on.

The Bottlenose Home Screen

Where is really comes into it’s own is through it’s search and filtering, delivering you the most popular content and keeping you on the crest of breaking news and events. Their tagline is “Surf the Stream” ..nice 🙂

There are a number of layers to the search functionallity. You perform a search – as you would anywhere else on the web – what you immediately get it a page which lays out top links, you get a nice hashtag cloud (which indicates increasing/decreasing popularity) and a block of relevant images amoung other things.

From this you can select further layouts such as the Paper page: which gives you a magazine-style page of shared links, and the Images page: which displays a beautiful gallery of shared images.

The Bottlenose Newspaper Layout

The Bottlenose Image Gallery

One of the most curios features is the sonar (presumably where the app gets it’s name from). This page gives you a network of linked keywords and phrases. It’s most useful for tracking why certain things are trending and finding their source. You can also use it to track how the trend develops. Incredibly powerful stuff here.

The Bottlenose Sonar Display

The main selling point of Bottlenose is the fact that you can drill into real-time data from the top social networks and respond as it happens. This tool is massively useful for keeping up with real world events on a whole and also for focussing on tight niches to find out what’s hot in your sector. Its been a key tool personally for marketing. There is a pro version available too, which I haven’t tried but hope to soon. If I do, I’ll keep you posted!

My love of Mashups and Tumblr


 

Because I’m so cool, I always make sure I turn up late for the party – In a literal sense anyway.

In the tech and online world however, that just doesn’t cut it – Snooze and you loose!

Over the past few months I’ve been getting into Tumblr. Now I know this isn’t something new, I have dabbled in it before but never really took it seriously.

At first I didn’t get it, it was hard to know what was original content and if there even was any original content on there at all. Once I dived right in though, it became more apparent. It’s not simply about blogging. It’s about currating and sharing.

So I decided to pick a theme for my Tumblr and stick with it. I needed something that was almost effortless with endless content to post. Now I’m massively into my music and I’ve always been slightly obsessed with remixes and cover versions. So that was it.

My theme seemed to go with the nature of Tumblr. I would simply curate videos from YouTube and share them with a little info on my Tumblr.

What surprised me was the instant reception I got for my posts. People were liking and re-blogging my posts straight away. It was great. Maybe I just chose the perfect content or maybe these people were just really nice.

At the moment it’s all a bit of fun but maybe I’ll find a better use for it. Do you have any ideas or experiences you’d like to share?

You can see my collections or mashups, covers and remixes at #CoverMyRemix

2011 in review


The WordPress.com stats helper monkeys prepared a 2011 annual report for this blog.

Here’s an excerpt:

The concert hall at the Sydney Opera House holds 2,700 people. This blog was viewed about 9,400 times in 2011. If it were a concert at Sydney Opera House, it would take about 3 sold-out performances for that many people to see it.

Click here to see the complete report.

Moving My Blog


I’ve decided to move my blog over to my own site, which is build on WordPress. I wanted to have more control and use my own domain.

I’ll keep everything here as it is for now and if you still want to read my new stuff just head on over to www.markledden.co.uk

Pre-Schedule Your #FF’s So You Don’t Forget Those Who Count


There’s been a lot of debate surrounding Twitter and automation. It is acceptable? Is is cheating? I think there’s a fine balance. You don’t want to be feeding people a constant stream of links from RSS feeds. On the other hand it’s impossible to tweet constantly round the clock, 24 hours a day. (Try it, I dares ya!)

Scheduling Tweets

There’s many a tool which aims to help you find this balance. What I present here is what I believe to be a perfectly acceptable way to keep track of those who make your Twitter life a little brighter so you can reward them with the all important #FollowFriday at the end of the week.

Most weeks, when Friday does come around I’m either too busy or when I try and put my mind to it I can’t remember who has done what for me to piece together a decent follow Friday. Sorry people 😦

With this method you can start your #FF from the beginning of the week and gradually build up a saved message which you can keep adding to that is setup to post on the Friday of that week.

How to do it

Personally, I’ll be using Hootsuite, as ever. You can use any tool that will let you schedule messages. I choose Hootsuite because it’s what I use everywhere. It also lets you edit pending messages, which is the most important thing here.

1. Schedule Your Message

All you need to do at the beginning of the week is schedule a message to post to your Twitter account on the following Friday (like the word play there?)

Scheduling in Hootsuite

Schedule your message using Hootsuite

You’ll then see your pending message in your pending message stream or the fancy, new publisher view.

Your pending #FF in Hootsuite

Your pending #FF in Hootsuite

2. Edit Your Message

If you don’t have anyone to add to it at first just leave it as “#FF” (Remember to delete it it you don’t get round to adding anyone by Friday or it’ll be one sorry looking Tweet!)

As the tweeting week goes on make note of those who you’ve conversed with, learnt from and who have helped you. It’s at that point you should be adding their names to your list. That list being your pending #FF.

Edit your tweet in Hootsuite

Edit your tweet in Hootsuite

3. Sit Back and Relax

Now you can just take it easy, or get back to work! As everything is taken care of. No need to franticly look back through @reply’s and DM’s to figure out who you want to honour with an #FF.

Further Ideas

You could also set up a few different messages. Especially if you have a lot of people to thank. You could have different #FF’s for people who RT you, those you talk to regularly or influencers on various topics.

Hope this is useful to you. Make sure you don’t forget those superstars of Twitter. Also, If anyone is using another way to schedule their messages, I’d like to know how you got on.

QuickTip: Use Hootsuite To See What’s Going On Where You Are (Or Any Other Place)


I’ve been using Hootsuite for some time now and I’m still finding out neat little tricks all the time. The location search feature was introduced a while a go now but I hadn’t really put it to the test. So, I decided to give it a go.

On your main Hootsuite dashboard, up in the top right-hand corner you’ll see the magnifying glass icon. This is the search tool. Some of you will already know that (sorry). Now, click on the search icon and you’ll get the dropdown box for your text entry.

Search Box

For a general search, you would just pop in what you’re looking for and away you go. But if you notice the little crosshairs next to the text box, this allows you to search relative to your current location.

(NB: You’re browser will probably ask for you to give permission to Hootsuite to identify your location)

If you put in your search query then hit the cross-hairs you will get a stream of tweets which match that query and are local to you. You’ll see “geocode:” and a bunch of numbers in the header of the column. This is just the longitude and latitude of your current position.

This could be very useful for local businesses looking for potential customers. I use it sometimes when I travel around with my laptop and I want to see what’s happening on Twitter locally. I just use a location-based search with nothing is the text box. That way I get ALL the tweets which are nearby.

Bonus Tip!

If you want to see local results for a location which you aren’t currently in then all you need is the coordiantes or that location. You can get this information from various sites. Lifehacker have a great trick for getting this information straight from your browser using Google Maps.

Just get the place you want on Google Maps (make sure it’s centred) then drop this code in the address bar and you’ll get a popup with the coordinates.

javascript:void(prompt('',gApplication.getMap().getCenter()));
Pretty cool, hey?

The Animals of Twitter: Brizzly Bear


Brizzly is what New Twitter should have been. It’s a single column layout which displays images in video in the timeline, much like the Facebook feed. Come to mention it, it also has Facebook integration.

There are clear indicators when you have mentions, unlike Twitter. And DM’s popup in the corner and take the form of IM chat windows. Very cool.

If your looking for something a bit different than Twitter web and you don’t really want to jump into something more hardcore then Brizzly is definitely worth a try.

Quick Tip: Use WordPress ‘Copy a Post’ To Make Templates


If you want to save a bit of time and you regularly post items which have much of the same structure and content, you can use the new post copy feature in the recent update of WordPress to take away much of the work.

First thing you’ll need to do is make the template. Just create a new post as you would with any other. If your post is part of a series you can have some of the title already filled out eg: “One Cool Series of Posts: ____”

I’d also suggest putting TEMPLATE in the start of the title for easy identification. You can then add in any kind of filler you have on this series of posts at the start and end. Say, you have the same opening and closing paragraph for example.

**Hint: WordPress, it would be cool to have a ‘Templates’ tag to keep these posts in, to separate them from drafts etc 🙂

When your ready to use your new template, hit ‘Copy a Post’ in the Posts Menu on the dashboard. As shown below. You’ll then be given a list of all your posts which you can use to copy.

Select the post you want and that’s it! You have an exact copy of the original post. In the case of the template for the series of posts; just adjust your title eg. “One Cool Series of Posts: Cool Post Number 3” (Remember to remove TEMPLATE, of course!). Then just add your content specific to this post and you’re done 🙂

I think it’s a great feature for WordPress to implement and I hope some of you find this useful. Another use could be for reversioning a post. You may have done a post on a list of your favourite apps. Some of which may just need bringing a little up to date.

5 Android Apps I Couldn’t Live Without


The phone I have isn’t too fancy but it’s by far the faniciest phone I’ve ever owned and It’s allowed me to do more than I could ever image with a phone. When the upgrade was nearing on my old contract I knew I had to go for an Android phone.

The biggest thing to get over when moving from a fairly standard phone to a full touch screen is the simple lack of buttons. I had huge difficulties at the start finding a comfortable solution to inputing text into my phone. I couldn’t get along with the stock keyboard. My thumbs were just too fat! It even drove me away from texting and any other activity which required the delicate touch I lacked when it came to input on this new breed of phone.

This brings me to probably the most important and underrated app on my phone. Most likely because once it’s there you don’t need to think about it. I probably use it more than anything else and it just makes my phone usable for someone like me. (I even wrote a blog post about it)

#1 – Swype

I started using this in it’s early beta after hearing about it from some blog (no idea which one). In fact it’s still actually in beta but it’s works beautifully and I’ve never had any issues. The concept is quite simple, the keyboard is laid out like any other and all you need to do is drag your finger around over the letters to make the word you want to spell. It doesn’t even have to be that accurate and it does a pretty good job of guessing the word you want.

#2 – Opera Mini

This is a bit of a swiss army knife app. I use it both as a backup browser; when I need something fast (bus/train times, other info etc). I also use it when I’m nearing my data limit as it manages to get you what you need with minimal bandwidth. It acheives this by running all of it’s traffic through Opera’s servers and compressing the web pages, often by as much as 90%. I can’t really get on with it on a full time basis as it’s not overly pretty, lacks some features and because of the compression, pages may not render properly. Though it’s not a huge app but it’s incredibly powerful so it’s always good to have around when you might need it.

#3 – Juice Defender

If you have a samrtphone you’re probably well aware of their terrible battery life. You more than likely plan when your next charge is going to come from and probably stare anxiously at the battery level. Either that or you’re phone is dying in the middle of an important call.

There are a whole host of battery saving/monitoring apps out there. I used to use APN Droid which cuts off all your connectivity apart from calls and SMS. I still do use it for extreme battery levels and times when I know I wont be using my phone but still need it on. I also use it when I need to restrict my data usage.

However there are other occasions where simply cutting off connectivity doesn’t seem to cut it. We’re paying for these 3G data speeds and it kind of defeats the point of having a smartphone if we’re not using them to their full capacity.

The happy medium comes with Juice Defender. It cleverly and comprehensively monitors and restricts battery usage according to a plethora of different settings. It’s aim is to give you the longest life of your battery while still being able to use your phone to it’s full potential. If you go and get this app now you’ll instantly notice a difference.

There really is so much control you can take over what aspects of your phone use up your battery that you’re more likely to get lost in the settings. The free app is enough for most but for those control freaks the paid app is more than worth it.

#4 – EasyTether

This is another one of those ’emergency apps’. For those occassions when you’re out with your laptop and can’t get any free WiFi but have have your phone in your pocket with super fast connectivity and you desperately need to get some work done. After trying the free app I had to pay for the upgrade to get the https option. It’s probably the cheapest option out there and it’s cross-platform, working great on my Ubuntu netbook and Windows 7 desktop.

There isn’t much to say here as it does exactly what it says on the tin and turns your phone into a modem. I’m very happy with it. If you need a tethering app (without root) this is the one.

#5 – DropBox

This app would probably be on most people’s lists and there’s not a whole lot I can say about it except it’s helped me out of a few tricky situations where I desperately needed a document but had no Internet but my phone. In a way it’s starting to help my phone to act as a USB ‘gateway’ drive (or some similar kind of jiberish). It’s something I’ll always have with me and lets me access important files when I might need them.

Bonus App! – The Trainline

This is a recent little gem I’ve found which has already saved me a bit of money. I do a fair bit of travelling by train and know a few ways of saving money and getting the most out of my tickets. This app has allowed me to buy advanced tickets for the next day or the week ahead at a fraction of the price and at crutial times when I don’t have my laptop with me.

It’s quick, easy and from what I hear, very secure. My only gripe is the booking fee (£1 each time). It’s not huge but on the ocassions when I do have my laptop I’ll always book with Virgin Trains as they don’t charge a booking fee. Virgin Trains say there is an Android app on the way and for that I cannot wait. Until then The Trainline app is great!

So that’s my toolbox of apps I don’t think I could get along without. Are any of these on your list of favourites? Or do you have a few others which you rely on?

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