Author Archives: eileenb

About eileenb

Eileen is a social business strategist, ZDNet columnist and author of Working The Crowd: Social Media Marketing for Business. Contact her to find out how she can help your business extend its reach.

advantages of making your business digital eileen brown digital city team

Advantages of making your business digital

Digital technology has transformed the world around us. From the capabilities on our mobile phone, to Artificial Intelligence (AI), automated chatbots, smart home automation gadgets, and streamlined processes, technology is already ubiquitous.

But how can the digital business improve your company and change the way you do business?

The Digital Business: Advantages of digitisation

The advantages of making your business digital are:

  1. Add Strategic value: understanding how your organisation works, and competes with other organisations can generate a strategic value for your business. Having insight across the industry will enable you to work on level terms with potential partners – and competitors.
  2. Success measurement: You will be able to discover your specific niche in your target market. You will be able to analyse success of your campaigns, and measure success of all your activities. Your business can stay competitive
  3. Reach: Your business will be able to reach more, and new people with your digital content. This will bring awareness to those who are unaware of your work.
  4. Connectivity: You will be able to communicate with your customers using a range of technologies including words, audio, video, recordings, websites, and apps. Your customers can access your messages across a range of different hardware formats such as mobile phones, tablets, and PC’s
  5. Content: You will be able to meet your reader’s demands for information and release repurposed ‘evergreen’ content online at regular intervals. Digitisation will enable the business to take advantage of latest trends. Your content is available, searchable, and can be repurposed without time lost in re-typing the content. Your customers can get information without repeated conversations and emails. Online information enables customers to easily discover answers to frequently asked questions and themes. Customers want specific information tailored to their needs.
  6. Efficiency: Having a digital communication system will enable your staff to work more effectively and become more productive. Shared electronic documents will eliminate the need for paper documentation – saving the business money. Streamlining processes and business functions involve decision making. Remembering customer preferences, and insights into what customers and members need becomes simple. Digitisation enables customer and member data to be available across the organisation
  7. Shared knowledge: Collaboration will enable interaction between the entire team who has access to the shared knowledge repository. You will be able to make faster and better decisions with a digital organisation. Digital organisations are no longer islands of knowledge in a sea of data. They benefit from knowledge sharing, democratisation of information, and collaboration.
  8. Thought Leadership: Your content shows your worth online. You will be able to show your expertise in specific areas and demonstrate to your audience your thought leadership across your topic.
  9. Learning: Staff training can become a low-risk task. Training documentation in a central location enables staff to easily access relevant training whenever they need help.
  10. Flexibility: Flexible working will enable your staff to work anywhere they choose. The ‘third space’ – a coffee shop, library, or anywhere with a Wi-F connection – can become their workplace between their office and home.
  11. Peace of mind: The digital business will be secure knowing that documents are regularly backed up, stored, and archived online, accessible from anywhere. Maintaining this data store is not expensive and, once data is catalogued and centrally stored, search easily finds the items required.

Many organisations are rising to the new challenges and opportunities presented by digitisation. Find experts who fully understand your business, have the right project management, and technical skills to ensure your digital success. Once you are on the way to enabling your digital business, the efficiencies you will experience will be well worth your effort.


digital marketer book front cover bcs eileen brown besty aoki

Authors across the Atlantic – How to co-write a book using Microsoft OneNote

I was approached by the British Computer Society (BCS) to write the Digital Marketer book. The BCS produces several guides to IT roles with best practice guidance for the role. These include objectives, required skills, career progression, frameworks and case studies. Each IT role book follows a formulaic style to ensure consistency across the range.

I wanted the Digital Marketer book to have diversity of thought, and a different working style – to bring a wide range of ideas to budding digital marketers.  I approached my Seattle-based friend and long-time colleague Betsy Aoki to co-write the book with me.

Betsy and I first met in 2004 when we both worked at Microsoft. My team at the time were using blogging to reach the widest number of IT professionals and Betsy had built the blogging platform we used. Her technical approach was the polar opposite of mine, and I felt that our skills dovetailed nicely to give great breadth to our content.  Thankfully, she agreed.

With an eight hour time difference between Essex and Seattle,  I could write my content during the day, pass it over to Betsy, for her to return overnight.  However, we both have day jobs that take much of our time, sometimes we write in the evenings, sometimes at weekends.  Emailing a cumbersome word document back and forwards everyday would have been a pain.  Having the Word document in the cloud meant managing a document of over 150 pages with tracking enabled – a cumbersome nightmare.

Using Microsoft OneNote to collaborate

I decided that we would use Microsoft’s OneNote to collaborate on the book. I’m familiar with OneNote. I had used it extensively at Microsoft, and had written my first book: Working the Crowd. Social Media Marketing for Business using OneNote in 2010. But I had never considered OneNote as a pan-Atlantic collaboration tool.

digital marketer book Eileen Brown BCS onenote

Digital Marketer – Setting out the Chapter headings and sub-headings

As you can see by the screen grab, we structured the tabs for the main chapters of the book, with proposed sub headings as pages within the tab. We used sub pages, and shuffled the pages around until we got a good flow for the book. All of our research, links and other reference snippets were stored in the ‘spare stuff’ tab.  We would need them as the book as about 140 end notes with valid (at the time of going to print) links to the relevant web pages.

We both started to write sections we felt most comfortable covering – leaving the thorny, difficult topics to the end. It was easy to see who had written which part of the book. OneNote made this easy. It showed clearly which paragraphs had been penned by which author. My edits, were visible to Betsy and vice-versa.  Therefore, it was easy to write 500 words or so per page and watch the content grow.

digital marketer book authors Eileen Brown Betsy Aoki BCSonenote

Digital Marketer: Showing parts of the text Written by Betsy – and me

As this OneNote book was saved in the cloud on my OneDrive account – and backed up the the OneDrive cloud, we were confident about not losing any content. I downloaded OneNote for my Android mobile, so I could do edits on-the-fly and add content when inspiration struck me.

Finalising the Digital Marketer book

We moved pages and tabs around, merged pages together, and collaborated over a distance of 4,800 miles until we were happy with the flow and the way that the content looked. Only then did we copy it to a word document and send it off the the BCS for initial editing.  And now Digital Marketer is finished – and ready to roll off the presses.  We are both pleased with how everything turned out, and delighted with how easy it was to collaborate.  We ‘hardly’ had any problems at all

I did have one issue with using OneNote to write this book.  There is no word count for a page, or a tab – which is a pain when you are trying to gauge how far along you are- content-wise. Until we copied all of the tabs over to word, we had no idea how many words we had written – and whether we were on target.  The history tab has icons to select recent edits edits by author, and has different page versions – but there is no way to count words.  (Can I add a feature request please OneNote team? ).

If I was asked to co-write another book would I do so again?   I certainly would – providing I could collaborate in the cloud, have automatic backups, and have tracking information about which member of the team wrote which part of the document. Oh, and using OneNote would be a must for me. All I need to think about is the title. Cheesemaking perhaps?…

Workers in the Tech industry believe they are the most undervalued employees in the UK amastra

Workers in the Tech industry believe they are the most undervalued employees in the UK

It’s safe to say that most of us would agree we’d like more money and a few extra holiday days. So if it were up to us, and not our employers, how much more of each would we give ourselves?

Professional CV writing specialists Purple CV, carried out a survey of 2,500 British workers and found, on average, Brits believe they deserve a not-insignificant 36.8 percent pay increase (£8,500.43 on top of their current average salary).

UK North Easterners believe they are the most undervalued, and should be paid 45.4 percent more per year (£9,700.16). Those who are happiest with their current remuneration are the Welsh – they would be happy with just £6,298.50 (30 percent) extra per year according to the survey.

Workers in the Tech industry believe they are the most undervalued employees in the UK amastra

British workers believe they should receive 8.3 days more holiday per year, but the majority of workers would prefer more pay over extra holiday

The company also surveyed workers by industry. While lawyers get a bad rep as being shark-like, they’re actually the industry who feel they deserve the lowest pay rise, at only a 30 percent increase. While they may not all be pro-bono, it looks like they might not be that unreasonable after all when it comes to pushing up their hourly rates.

Surprisingly, the industry you might think would ask for the least actually asked for more than the lawyers:charityworkers believe they deserve an increase of 32.3 percent! And despite the high salaries of bankers, they’re still not happy, and feel underpaid; deserving 41.4 percent on top of what they currently earn.

However, workers in the tech industry feel they deserve the highest rise. Despite many tech companies being floated on the stock exchange for gazillions of pounds, they still feel they deserve over 50 percent more money: 57.7 percent, in fact. Workers in Law believe they deserve the least (30 percent) increase.

The most burned-out region is Greater London – Londoners would love an extra 9.8 days according to the survey. The Welsh had a different outlook, only wishing for 5.8 more days per year.

Finally respondents were asked whether, given the choice, they would choose more pay or extra holiday days. And instead of choosing more time off, 63.2 percent of us would prefer to take a higher salary. Almost every region across the UK was in agreement, except for East Midlanders where 56 percent would prefer extra holiday time.

So how easy is it to actually negotiate with your employer over salary and holiday days? Purple CV has put together some key tips, below:


Pick the right time to approach your employer. Chances are they are more likely to say no if you don’t pre-warn them first. Set up a meeting and let them know what you would like to discuss in advance, it will give both you and them time to prepare.

Research Market Value

Know your industry and find out your value before asking for a pay rise. Spend some time looking into how much others in similar roles are earning.

Build your case

Employers are going to ask why you deserve the pay rise, so make sure you come to the meeting prepared with examples of where you have exceeded company expectations.

The power of silence

Don’t be too tempted to just accept their first offer; it would be appropriate to say you will get back to them.

Wrap it up

You may not always get the answer you want, but remember ‘no’ doesn’t always mean there isn’t potential for it to be brought up again at later date.

So when you ask your employer for more cash – think of this. Will this extra money make you more happy? or will you continue to push for more and more unattainable salary goals?

‘Digital babysitters’ place younger children at

‘Digital babysitters’ place younger children at risk

Kids are only ever three seconds from online danger at home as parents unintentionally neglect to protect young children

News has emerged  that children as young as eight years old are at risk of emotional damage from social media – prompting a review by MPs into smartphone usage.

However, new Kaspersky Lab research has revealed that children even younger than this are at risk of psychological harm – as the average three-year old spends more than four hours a week with what amounts to a ‘digital babysitter’ and is only ever seconds away from accessing inappropriate content featuring guns, violence and nudity.

Parents are not toddler-proofing their online world, with a huge 87 per cent of parents admitting that they don’t restrict how much time their young children spend online – three-year olds are spending more than four hours a week with these ‘digital babysitters’ and being exposed to potential psychological harm.

The average child spends 40 minutes per day, or 4.6 hours a week, watching online video content on a mobile device. Yet only 13 per cent of parents install online security on their smart phone, laptop or tablet – and 49 per cent have never reviewed the default settings to prevent the child viewing inappropriate material. Examining YouTube’s suggested videos, which sit visibly alongside clips or episodes of popular children’s television programmes such as Peppa Pig, users are just clicks away from content aimed at a more mature audience – featuring violence, guns and nudity.

Young children at high risk of emotional damage from accessing adult content. So how can you protect your family online?

Kaspersky Lab’s top tips for protecting your family online are:

  1. Supervision – This may seem obvious, but supervise your child’s internet use. Encourage them to visit and stay on websites you’re familiar with. If you have any concerns, look at their browsing history. Be sure to know about any password-protected sites they may be accessing and ask them to share their login details with you.
  1. Be open – Encourage your child to be open about what they are doing online and who they are socialising with. Promote a culture of safety within the home and talk about the possible dangers which exist.
  1. Protect your family – Use parental controls to block access to sites you don’t want your child looking at as part of your online security product – it’s an easy way to avoid disaster. Review the default settings on each app that your child uses to ensure that the camera or microphone, for example, aren’t needlessly turned on as these can pose a threat.



Inbound and outbound marketing

This post has been taken from an excerpt from our book: Digital Marketer, published by the BCS.

Marketing can be outbound or inbound depending on your goals and your desire to connect with your customer – or have then connect with your brand.

Outbound marketing

Outbound marketing reaches you, the consumer in many ways. Brands reach out to you to get you to buy their goods or service. They do this by advertising, phone calls, door-to-door leaflets, or by direct mail shots. You might think that this kind of marketing is a distraction, but a  necessary evil for our consumer society with seemingly endless leisure time.

Brands or advertisements appear wherever consumers are. relevant to the customer, event when the customers are not expecting to see their message. There might be a surprise takeover of an online ad, or a pop up shop in London to sell goods or promote services. It could even be an unexpected advertising billboard placed incongruously on a road in Montana, US.
Outbound marketers would need to:

  1. Create a campaign that appeals to as broad an audience as you can which will improve the chances of it reaching  your customer.
  2. Time the campaign delivery to capture attention in a certain venue, or place. This could be ads on the subway, or a leaflet flyer in your letterbox at home.
  3. Determine from the volume of sales or service bookings during and after the campaign whether it worked
  4. Start up a new campaign again as you decide you need more customers.

Inbound marketing

On the other hand, Inbound marketing is a term coined by HubSpot. In the digital arena, a digital marketer creates and provides content for an online property such as a company blog, podcast, ebook or email list that the interested customer can sign up for. With such an approach, the business is making it worthwhile for the customer to find and engage them.

To attract customers, you offer something of value – usually content – for free, making sure that the content closely aligned with your brand. You need to make sure that you are wooing your customers and building up a relationship rather than trying to do a hard sell at once.

Once you have attracted the right kind of customer, you must convert them to align with your brand. Perhaps you could send them a free ebook on a topic of interest, or gather their email address for your marketing list.  Your customers might listen to your podcast to understand how to do something that is in their own interest and see how your product helps them achieve their goals.

You then have an opportunity to close the deal. The ‘close’ is the opportunity to market to the customer again, and repeat the sale to make them even more delighted with your company or brand.

Marketing to customers who have bought something becomes easier because now you have a relationship and they will want to hear from you next time it goes on sale, or gets an upgrade.

The main thing to remember is that inbound marketing must be on-going. Instead of a campaign having a definable beginning and end, marketing becomes part of the company’s lifestyle and infrastructure.  You will oversee all stages of this inbound marketing process, making sure if, and how much, the strategies are working.

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Seismic marketing

This post has been taken from an excerpt from our book: Digital Marketer, published by the BCS.

There has been a huge shift in approaches to the way that we market to our customers. The introduction of digital marketing has been seismic across the marketing industry.

In the past, traditional marketing skills covered such areas as creating a marketing plan. These plans incorporated messaging, defining customer value propositions and key goals that could be broken down into separate strategic initiatives and action plans. Digital marketing still needs a lot of the same thinking as traditional marketing. Advances in technology such as data mining, analytics, and digital tools make a lot of things easier to research and deliver. Digital marketing also builds more upon relationships. As interactions between you and your customer can be easier to track in the digital world, it becomes easier to understand what themes your customers are most likely to respond to.

Digital Marketing vs Traditional Marketing

The main differences between traditional and digital marketing approaches over the past few years tend to fall into these categories.

Dramatic increase in speed from the initial idea of a concept through to execution of the campaign. What used to take months  in the past now can take hours or days. Think of a glossy magazine or journal going to press on a regular basis. Formats such as settings, layout, ad inserts and interview take up the bulk of the design team’s time. Event meetings to discuss the front cover can take days. Now in the digital world, online formats can be tweaked and publications can be adjusted digitally to highlighting the latest marketing message.

Democratisation of taste. Once we slavishly followed the designers, style makers, and fashion critics telling us what they had decided were the next big trends coming out of New York, London or Paris. What theese pundits said, became the trends we followed. Now ordinary people garner huge followings as they document their styles on Instagram. We follow lifestyle Pinterest boards and consume fashion blogs written by people that match our own perceptions of good taste.

Enhanced analytics. Technology platforms are able to give deeper analysis automatically of what users are doing online and will give you a really accurate picture of your customer. You can track their journey through your online store, discover hotspots on the page, and use this to market far more effectively than was possible in an analogue world.

Relationship and community building. In the past it might have taken years for word-of-mouth and geographic barriers to be overcome for a business whilst it built up its reputation. Now the internet allows businesses to have paying customers at a far distance.  Therefore, brands needs to watch how the social conversations online are managed. Active management of brand or product perception now needs to be looked after 24 hours a day, seven days a week.

Rapid change in customers perception. What really matters to customers one day could become irrelevant noise tomorrow. You need to continually keep up to date with technology advances and changes in public sentiment to have on-going good quality online conversations and relationships with your online group.

Because our digital attention span does have its limits, you will be able to make use of digital marketing analytics tools to understand the effectiveness of a campaign, often in real time – and respond accordingly.

digital marketer book eileen brown betsy aoki bcs

Public relations skills for digital marketers

Whether you are new to marketing or a traditional marketer making the transition, you will still needs to rely on strengths seen in those coming from a traditional public relations and marketing background.

Public relations skills, such as writing an announcement in such a way that the press or news outlets are interested matters.

In an era where journalists are finding and developing sources and stories from posts on social media, a good understanding of the news cycle in your community is important.

Feel good stories written for the weekends, hard-hitting business news appearing first thing Monday morning – all will help you time your posts, tweets, or photojournalism where it can catch the eye of a reporter.

Public relations professionals also seem to have an uncanny understanding of when NOT to call attention to their company or product. Perhaps there is a national controversy, and they do not want the brand associated with either side. Perhaps a competitor is experiencing a PR disaster – do they jump in and skewer their opponent, or do they take the high road?

Knowing when to avoid “breaking in to jail” by being part of the conversation becomes really important as you notice the opportunities for conversation and spotting which conversations to join.

“Bridging” in public relations

An important public relations skill that works well in the digital marketing world is that of “bridging.” In media interviews. This skill gets the conversation shifted from what the reporter has asked, back to the message you really want to talk about.

If this is done well, it does not seem like you are deflecting the original question, because the promotional topic is neatly tied to the initial question.

In social media, where conversations with the public and customers may be on-going, it is important to bridge the conversation. Acknowledge what the original question and intent was, whilst making sure you get your own company’s message out there.

In the war of perception, storytelling and careful language can make all the difference to your brand.

Traditional public relations involves public speaking, and you can take advantage of these opportunities. You could be giving a speech that will be live-cast to conference attendees, or creating a podcast in the home office. If you can communicate clearly and in a lively manner, you will do well.

If you want to market yourself well, the ability to convey in person why a customer should buy your product or service is priceless.

Some digital media experts market themselves so well they are paid to give talks. If you have speaking experience, and an engaging manner, you will find that your social following will increase after your successful talk.

Good public relations skills are essential if you want to extend your brand..

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