Short-form social media video content is short, snappy, informative, or humorous videos that are posted on social media by brands and businesses to gain the attention of their target audience. The ideal sweet spot is somewhere between 30 – 60 seconds.
So why is it important to utilise this type of video content as a business on social media?
It’s a proven way to reach new audiences by incorporating it into a multi-media social media strategy. Plus, it’s a cheaper way to reach new audiences if you are currently operating on a limited budget and can’t yet afford to outsource to an agency or hire a marketing team. Whilst it may not promise the same reach and consistent results as running correctly optimised ads, these ads rely on a solid foundation of organic social media content to be successful- and this content will benefit from short-form video content!
But as great as that all sounds, what if you are a time-short business owner, or just have limited experience when it comes to social media content creation?
We’ve compiled our top 3 favourite video and reel / TikTok editing apps to help you create post-worthy content whilst saving time. They are all affordable and easy to use, with plenty of features and video templates to use.
If you are just starting out and need an app for some basic video editing, it probably won’t make a difference which one you use. They are all fairly cheap, and CapCut is completely free. Once you become more confident and decide to replicate specific social media trends or look for specific video editing features, transitions, or filters, it’s likely you will find one of the above suits your business better.
Thankfully, they all at least offer a free version or free trial to test out the app before investing in a monthly subscription.
Trusty Social is a social media marketing and management agency. We work with busy businesses to improve their online presence through social media, while positively impacting the world and donating 3% of our profits to social justice initiatives each year. Find out more by visiting here and get in touch with us here!
In less than 12 months, AI has taken the world by storm, marking what is arguably the most significant technological development since the birth of the internet.
ChatGPT has become the poster child of this technological eruption, with a userbase increase of 9,990% in the first 60 days of launch. At the time of writing, it has more than 180.5 million users.
Of course, this meteoric rise has been far from subtle. In what seems like the blink of an eye, AI technology has transitioned from a point of post-pint speculation to workplace reality, embedding itself across industries. From initial research and conceptualisation to data analysis, time management and content creation, marketers worldwide are unveiling innovative uses for these powerful tools.
The danger with such a rapid adoption of new technology is that unstable dependencies are formed. SEO professionals everywhere are jumping head-first into the world of AI, for fear of falling behind.
The question, therefore, is not ‘will AI change SEO forever’, but to what extent has it already?
If you were to ask a room full of marketing professionals what they thought of AI, it’s likely their answers would vary significantly. On one side of the fence are the utopians, with their boundless optimism for the technology’s endless capabilities. On the other, are the doomsayers, to whom AI tools mark the first step towards a dystopian Terminator-esque future. End of days stuff.
At Superb Digital, we’re somewhere between the two.
As far as research, data collection, analysis and reporting are concerned, AI tools are brimming with potential. They can streamline processes, smash through monotonous tasks and massively improve overall efficiency. But, don’t believe the hype; AI can’t do everything and the quality of its output is wholly dictated by the information it is provided.
Working with, and getting the most from, AI requires a clear understanding of objectives and best practices. With this in mind, let’s take a look at some of the ways in which AI tools are actually being implemented by marketers at ground level.
The role of AI technology within a digital marketing and SEO context is, of course, nuanced. Where its usefulness ends and its limitations begin is frequently debated among professionals. That said, its capabilities with regards to research, data collection and analysis are undisputable.
As far as research and analysis is concerned, AI is more than capable of scouring live sites and retrieving key information such as page structures, meta data, content styles. Where necessary, this research and data can be stored and presented, for use in later stages of a campaign.
The above methodology is useful, but basic. The full potential of AI can only be realised with the correct combination of input and instruction. If, for example, AI tools are fed specific documentation and reference points, such as Google’s Helpful Content guidelines, they are able to learn from the information provided and proceed from a point of task-specific understanding. As is the case with most AI technology, well-engineered human-led prompting is essential.
You don’t have to spend long working with AI to understand its planning capabilities. After all, heavy lifting and monotonous task management is where tools like ChatGPT really come into their own.
AI can be of great use when generating content plans, brief outlines and structures, but this technology is limited by the efficacy of its instructor (there’s a theme developing here…). Generic, poorly structured prompts will lead to equally useless content.
From our own experience, working with AI requires a clear understanding of two things:
Simply instructing ChatGPT to ‘create a plan’ based upon a topic or title is sure to lead to bang-average results. Whereas, feeding the programme clear examples of high-quality work will provide insight as to the results you want to achieve. Whether this is a website quality report or long-form article outline, it is crucial that such examples are well-crafted and reflective of the results you wish to attain. This type of activity has already garnered a name: “prompt engineering”.
Now, this is where opinions begin to differ. While some AI evangelists will claim that its content creating abilities are on par with those of a human, this is simply not true. AI is capable of many things, but crafting and writing high-quality, insightful content is not one of them. If you’re looking for content that meets Google’s Helpful Content guidelines and actually reflects your brand, ethos and personality, you need a person.
But, this is not to say that AI has no place in the content creation process. As discussed above, this technology can prove endlessly useful during the ideation, research and planning phases. Here at Superb Digital, we often use AI tools for transcription and summation purposes. This allows us to extract key points from client interviews and collate research much faster. As far as the writing is concerned though, that’s all us.
As powerful as AI tools may appear, it doesn’t take a top-tier developer to understand their current limitations. Yes, this technology is cutting edge, and getting better by the day, but it is not infallible. As is the case with any software, AI language is capable of making mistakes.
Take ChatGPT, for example. The language model’s achilles heel is the pool from which it draws information. As of this point in time, ChatGPT is only trained on information up to January 2022. This means that, without the use of plugins and beta tools, it cannot retrieve up to date information from search engines.
Moreover, one of the most obvious flaws that arises when working with AI is the way in which it receives information. There is, understandably, a dissonance between the language model’s method of processing and our own human cognition. In other words, it cannot always recognise actions as we do.
It goes without saying that over reliance on this technology can be dangerous. Rather than becoming overly-confident in the abilities of AI, it is important to adopt a cohesive approach. By all means, use these tools to assist, streamline, cut down and create, but beware of leaning too heavily on their independent capabilities.
The million dollar question: what next? AI technology has already transformed the digital marketing industry, impacting the ways in which user data is gathered, analysis is carried out and optimised content is created. If this continues, what will be left of human jobs?
The reality is that SEO is, and always has been, evolving. This industry is built on the ever-changing foundations of internet algorithms and technological advancements. Keeping up is just as important as getting ahead.
As AI technologies develop and cement themselves in our personal and professional lives, emphasis will be placed on certain skills. In particular, prompt engineering. As capable as these tools may be, they require precise and focussed instruction to achieve above-average results.
Additionally, it is worth noting the impact that AI has, and will continue to have on the ways in which individuals search for products and services. If AI assisted search tools, such as Google’s Bard, are transforming the means through which consumers browse the internet, so will the ways in which businesses and marketing experts target them. It is difficult to say exactly what this change will look like, but an increased focus on the ways in which AI platforms search for information will become a necessity.
Here at Superb Digital, AI tools are swiftly becoming an integral part of our arsenal. That said, certain processes simply cannot be replicated by computers; we place great emphasis on the value of real human input.
Yes, these tools will continue to evolve and improve. But our focus must remain on the knowledge and experience of human experts. Prompt engineering, quality control, copywriting and strategy are among the many areas of SEO that cannot, and should not, be replaced by Artificial Intelligence technologies.
There are many pros to using social media to promote your business, with few cons. If you are just starting out, establishing a presence on the platforms can be completely free if you are doing it yourself. Once your business grows, investing more in your social media presence is a good idea. This could be by outsourcing this aspect of your business to a social media agency, or by having a marketing team take them over.
Businesses with better customer service tend to see better customer loyalty. Responding to direct messages on social media or comments on posts is a way to speedily and efficiently provide customer service.
Email marketing is currently one of the most successful ways to convert leads into customers. If you have the budget to run social media ads and promote lead magnets, this is a great way to grow your mailing list.
Facebook is one of the oldest and most established social media platforms, therefore it is important to ensure you have a business presence on this platform. It also has the most social media users at just over 3 billion, out of those on this list. Depending on your business industry and your budget, it will depend on the success you see on this platform and how is best to use it.
Organic reach on Facebook is difficult and most businesses utilise social paid advertising or post boosting on Facebook. (This is then shown on both Facebook and Instagram as the platforms are connected and both owned by Meta).
But if your budget is limited, one way to still make the most of Facebook is to set up a group instead of a page and drive people to join this group. This will act as a concentrated space to nurture the group members.
Firstly, ensure your profile is set to ‘professional’ status rather than just ‘personal’. This feature gives you access to support, analytics, and tools that a personal account doesn’t.
Instagram is all about optimisation. It has a wide range of features, which is great! But it’s especially important on this platform they haven’t been half-hearted, and they have been optimised.
This includes optimising your bio and profile, the links in your bio, your Instagram shop, and any direct messages or automated messages page visitors might receive.
If you already have an established presence on Twitter – great! If not, now might not be the best time to start a new account. With the change in ownership when it comes to Twitter, it has undergone a lot of changes. Furthermore, with the new verified paid structure the platform is prioritising the content of accounts that pay to use the platform rather than those that don’t.
If you want to set up a new Twitter account, why not consider Threads…
If you also use Instagram and are looking for a Twitter alternative, Threads could be the answer. The latest Threads stats show the platform now has 130 million users (that’s a lot). Despite being a fairly new platform, it’s showing no sign of slowing down or users changing their minds and closing their accounts.
Compared to Twitter, Threads also has a more generous 500-character count, compared to the smaller 280 offered by Twitter. Plus you can post videos up to 5 minutes long.
YouTube is often referred to as the second largest search engine after Google. It has the second most users after Facebook. Therefore given its high user rate, it’s an excellent place to promote your business. Short-form video content you post on your social media can be turned into long-form video content for your YouTube channels, providing customers with a more in-depth, exclusive insight into your business.
There are lots of SEO features and opportunities on YouTube your business can utilise which can assist in driving more traffic to your website.
Most users use Pinterest as a vision board or a source for ideas and inspiration. There’s nothing stopping you from using Pinterest if you have the means and resources to create content for this platform; but it is ideal for businesses to ‘showcase’ e.g. interior design businesses, fashion designers, virtual assistant tips and advice, home improvement businesses or planning a vacation and hiring a travel agent, just to name a few.
Anything related to showcasing, ideas creation, products, or just mood boarding, is ideal on Pinterest.
Last but by no means least – TikTok. The good thing with this platform is you can repost your Instagram reels onto TikTok, and vice versa, meaning you can appear on both platforms without having to create brand-new content for each!
This platform is an excellent place to partner with influencers (as well as on Instagram), showcase your products or services through catchy and fun short-form video content, and make the most of user-generated content (this is content created by your customers on their experience with your service or product).
Trusty Social is a social media marketing and management agency. We aim to improve the online presence of busy businesses through social media while positively impacting the world and donating 3% of our profits to social justice initiatives. Find out more by visiting here and get in touch with us here!
[This article originally appeared on LinkedIn here].
9 years ago this week I accepted a role to join Dan Fallon and team at a small independent PPC Agency in Bath called SearchStar. The best career decision I’ve made (so far!).
4 and ½ years later we signed the paperwork to sell the Agency to a much larger corporate.
At the time of writing, that was 4 and ½ years ago (quick maths).
Recently, noticing this symmetry and feeling a little nostalgic, I’ve been telling stories about our time there to anyone who’ll listen. Especially the things I think made SearchStar a success*. I thought I’d write them all down (so I don’t forget) and share them (just in case they’re of use to someone else).
To keep the symmetry, there are 9 lessons learned.
See if you can spot the theme that connects them all.
It’s important to stress here, these are the things I think made SearchStar a success. Others may think differently, however, still being good friends with the old leadership team, I’ve shared this with them and they all broadly agree.
It’s also important to stress that the Agency was already doing well and had an excellent reputation when I joined. This is my take on what we put in place to build on those foundations.
I think these lessons largely apply to anyone running a small to mid-sized service or consultancy organisation.
SearchStar team, do you agree? Agency owners, does this resonate? Clients, is this what you’d expect in your Agency?
1) Build a senior team to challenge you: Founders can’t do it on their own. You need to be confident investing in capable senior people who will challenge your thinking. Dan very smartly put together a Leadership team comprised of talented people like Donna Moore, stephanie iles, Edward Arnall-Culliford and Emma Chun, who I was very lucky to work alongside. We not only had different skills, but we had different characters, views and experience. Luckily we all got on well too. Ultimately Dan had the final say but he allowed the team to challenge his thinking; I was a part of many discussions which resulted in more balanced decisions as a collective.
2) Promote from within: If you’re growing a business you need great people in that business to do a great job. Once you’ve found that talent you need to hold onto it. We’d occasionally recruit externally (the rate of growth demanded it) but, whenever we could, we’d find ways to promote people internally. Hesitate at this and the talent will leave. Do it quickly and the talent will repay the investment. Loyal stars like Laura Pinney, Jo Phillips, Hannah Miller, Jack Sladek, Vicky Cridland and Ian Batten are testament to that.
3) Share responsibility: Once you’ve got talented, capable people working for you, leave them to get on with their jobs. Don’t micromanage them. Don’t force them to follow rigorous processes. Don’t treat them like robots. But do provide them with an idea of how you think “great work” is achieved and let them find their own way of delivering to the same standard. That way, every single member of the team can find a way of adding value, in a way that works for them.
4) Share the reward: If you’re sharing the responsibility, you should share the reward. Not just by paying a salary, but by rewarding the success of being a profitable, growing business. Dan made the more senior people in the business shareholders, a few others had share “options” and everyone shared the profit (either through dividends or a 6-monthly performance related bonus). The impact of this on-going collective reward was a huge factor in us achieving our goals.
5) Have a clear business development system: We had great Sales & Marketing people (I’m looking at you Donna, Staph and Nick Livermore) and they put some great tactics in place (anyone old prospects remember Steph randomly dropping in to see them to deliver mince pies?!). But more importantly we had a great pipeline strategy. I won’t detail it here (ask me in person) but it was essentially:
Content > Target Prospects > Quality Events > Free Health Check > New client
6) Offer high quality “supplementary” services: You need to be clear on your core service offering – in our case it was performance media – and you shouldn’t dilute this (personally I’m not a fan of “full service agencies”). However, that doesn’t mean you can’t offer supplementary services that
For us those services were Conversion Optimisation, Analytics and Programmatic Display delivered by incredible specialists like Jarrah Hemmant, Jamie Willmott, Jon Boon and Rob Langan.
7) Demonstrate value to clients: Don’t get sucked into charging for time, or outputs, or dashboards, or, worse still, performance related fees. Instead, focus on understanding what challenges your client has and demonstrate that you’re finding solutions and providing insights. Clients’ businesses will be more successful if you’re providing them with this sort of value. And if it’s impactful enough, they won’t care how long it took you or how well it was presented in the report. (This is even more critical now, as Automation and AI increase the need for the “person” to add meaningful value).
8) Keep communication balanced: It’s important to be open with what’s happening in the business and what’s steering decisions. But that doesn’t mean you have to share everything. We’d share everything amongst the Senior Leadership Team, share most things with the Managers and Team Heads and regularly give business status updates to the entire team provided there was something interesting or relevant to share. I’m not sure it’s possible to get this exactly right, but I’m pretty confident that sharing everything with everyone is unnecessary and hiding important things breaks trust.
9) Don’t dictate the Culture and Values: If you asked 10 employees what the SearchStar culture was, I think you’d get 10 slightly different answers. If you asked them what the SearchStar values were I think they’d probably struggle to give an answer at all! However, I think the vast majority of people who worked at SearchStar would say that it was a fun place to work where people supported each other and built genuine friendships (in fact, 4 different SearchStar couples are now married!).
Ultimately I think we fostered an environment where people truly cared.
The sense of shared responsibility and reward meant we let people be grown-ups, so the culture developed organically. The annual Christmas trip abroad was the closest thing to tangibly represent our “culture” (memorable times in Berlin, Reykjavik and Dublin!).
We were pretty relaxed about the leaving it to develop naturally then, but I think it’s probably much more important now – with a significant share of people working remotely – for the leadership team to steer the culture and be very clear on values, in order to achieve collective goals.
That sums up what I think were the key ingredients.
Did you spot the theme?
There isn’t a specific decision or strategy that was responsible for our growth, but I think there’s a clear link between the things I’ve outlined above:
There are lots of other things I could mention and I’ve probably forgotten some others, but these are the elements that I feel played the most significant part in our success. We had some support from amazing clients and suppliers too, but I’ve focused on the internal aspects for which we had most control.
It’s testament to what a great bunch of people we had at SearchStar that alumni include the likes of:
I’m delighted and proud to watch them flourish knowing that the successful time we had together provided them with a brilliant launchpad to what they’re doing now.
If I haven’t mentioned you in this post, sorry. It’s not because I don’t think you played your part, it’s just that I can’t mention everyone!
*What do I mean by “success”? SearchStar was founded in 2005 in Bath (UK) by Dan Fallon as a pure play PPC Agency. It grew to become a 60 person Digital Agency specialising in Paid Search, Paid Social, Programmatic, Conversion Optimisation and Analytics. Through the 5 year period mentioned above: Revenue grew 25-35% YoY, we smashed through the much sought after “£1mn” profit mark, the team grew from 18 to 60, we won & retained multiple DRUM awards, worked for organisations like Danone, Mars, National Trust and Intrepid Travel and sold for a healthy valuation that many would be envious of. In my opinion, this qualifies as “success”. 😊
How do potential customers decide if a business is a friend that shares the same beliefs as them, or if they are a foe that shouldn’t be trusted? A business blog could be the answer.
If you think about your own buying experience, you might start your journey by researching a product online. You might browse a website to view the products or services on offer and you’ll come away with a flavour of what that company is about. The tone of voice will have impressed you or put you off, as will the colour scheme or what they have covered in the body of the website. Then it’s likely you’ll look at a few more websites to compare different companies, but what would make you take that leap to go from prospect to customer?
A business that truly expresses its personality by talking openly about its ethos, its brand journey, the people behind the brand, and some of the relevant issues surrounding the organisation is more likely to build trust among prospects than one that doesn’t. And one of the best ways to get this much information across is by publishing a business blog.
One of the best things you can do as a business is empathise with the problems of your prospective customers. Think about customers you have helped in the past and put yourself in their shoes. How were they feeling at the start of their journey, and how did you make their lives better? Then talk about these problems in your blog. Perhaps you can help customers with a service because they don’t have enough time to do a certain task themselves, or perhaps you have a product that will save them money. Talk about the issues affecting them so they can see you understand where they’re coming from. If they feel understood, they are more likely to trust you.
It can be so tempting to sell, sell, sell on your website, but it would probably be more helpful for your customers to be able to read a pros and cons list of a particular product. It takes a certain confidence for a brand to offer an objective view of the products they sell, but the likelihood is, the more honest you are about the fact your product or service will suit some people but not others, the more likely your prospects are to trust you and want to buy from you.
Build a strong relationship with your existing customers and engage with them throughout their customer journey too. By better understanding their experience of working with you, you will have more of an idea what new customers want to hear. By addressing issues as and when they arise, you can adjust your offering and then tell prospective customers how you are always evolving to give your customers what they need.
Business blogs might feel like a lot of work – to produce content consistently isn’t easy. But the benefits of having a regular dialogue with your customers and prospects is a great way to build a relationship and demonstrate your personality. If people feel like they know you, they are more likely to trust you and what your business stands for.
If you would like a business blog on your website that accurately reflects your voice and values, but simply don’t have the time to dedicate to it, drop me a line and I would love to help.
Watch the recording of this webinar now
As part of Bristol Technology Festival 2023, our founder Harry explores the ins and outs of UX design, and why a user-centric approach is absolutely crucial.
In this webinar he explains why UX design is so much more than just wireframing, and how it should be seen as a process rather than a solution. Harry also uncovers how a clear UX-led strategy can lead to a long term competitive advantage.
The marketing sector would not exist as it does today were it not for third-party cookies. Over the past two decades, businesses have developed a heavy reliance on these bite-sized chunks of data for user insights, audience analysis and strategy development.
However, this method has faced frequent controversies and raised countless concerns regarding user privacy. As a result, the digital hemisphere is shifting, with tighter GDPR regulations leading to a future free from third-party cookies; by the end of 2024, this method of data collection may be a thing of the past.
In light of this change, alternative methods of data collection, prediction and analysis must be harnessed, filling the gap left by cookies. Machine learning algorithms, particularly those within Google Analytics 4, will play a significant role in compensating for this loss.
Before exploring the key components of this so-called ‘cookieless’ future, it is important to clarify the difference between first and third-party cookies. First-party cookies are accessible only by a website’s owner and play a vital role in collecting analytical data and optimising site functionality. In contrast, third-party cookies, created by separate domains, track a user’s behaviour across the internet. In this context, ‘cookieless’ refers to eliminating third-party tracking by internet service providers (ISPs).
Eliminating third-party cookies is certain to leave voids in online marketing. Google heavily relies on cookies for its advertising platform. However, to ensure privacy compliance, alternative methods must fill these gaps; tools such as statistical modelling, predictive analytics, and machine learning will play critical roles.
As of July 2023, Google permanently retired Universal Analytics, replacing it with Google Analytics 4 (GA4), a property now used by over 20 million websites worldwide. This transition brings significant changes for digital marketers. With a focus on user privacy, GA4 utilises AI algorithms to connect data points without third-party cookies.
By blending directly observed and modelled data, GA4 builds comprehensive and accurate datasets while complying with user privacy regulations. Moreover, AI integration and machine learning enable more precise data collection than third-party cookies, utilising predictive analytics, analytics intelligence, and behaviour modelling to compensate for cookieless browsing data loss. Below, we delve into the specifics of these features.
Among GA4’s many innovative features is the property’s capacity to predict future metrics and audiences through machine learning algorithms. As soon as data collection begins, GA4’s algorithms start learning from the information gathered, enabling the generation of projections like revenue, events, and trends based on account-specific datasets.
Additionally, GA4 utilises the data from its machine learning algorithm to create predictive audiences, forecasting which of your audience is likely to churn based on past events. This information is set to prove infinitely valuable in the development of remarketing strategies.
Moreover, GA4’s ‘consent mode’ is vital for data compliance. This feature allows businesses to create predictive data even when a user doesn’t consent to data collection. When consent is declined, GA4 uses relevant existing data to predict the user’s behaviour.
This method of behavioural modelling fills data gaps when direct observations are lacking or non-existent. Instead of cookie-shaped voids, GA4 combines observed data with behaviour models, offering comprehensive insights into user journeys and site interactions.
Alongside the above, GA4’s Analytics Intelligence functionality is set to play an important part in navigating a cookieless future. As Google describes it, analytics intelligence uses machine learning and custom configurations to understand and act on data effectively. In other words, machine learning can identify anomalies and errors while simultaneously adapting to these variations; as GA4 receives more distinctive data, its ability to detect outliers improves.
This advancement in GA4 distinguishes authentic data from anomalies, reducing reliance on third-party cookies for true ‘insight’. Unlike cookies, which are about 60% accurate at best, machine learning and analytics intelligence offer continuous enhancement opportunities.
As previously mentioned, past iterations of Google Analytics faced scrutiny for their handling and retention of data. GDPR regulations have, naturally, tightened over the past few years; Google has adjusted its software accordingly.
Alongside the implementation of machine learning algorithms, GA4 introduces a host of features focused on data compliance and user privacy. Most notably, IP anonymisation means that IP addresses are neither logged nor stored. In the tech giant’s own words, ‘analytics drops any IP addresses that it collects from EU users before logging that data via EU domains and servers.’ Whereas universal analytics collected IP addresses by default, this is no longer possible in GA4. Regarding EU privacy legislation, this is perhaps the most momentous update.
Of course, this fortification of user privacy is just the tip of the iceberg. Alongside the above mentioned IP anonymisation and consent mode, Google have introduced:
Google Analytics exists as the dominant property for good reason; its newfound capabilities balance cutting edge technologies with tightened data restrictions. That said, GDPR legislation differs in relation to server location. To ensure compliance in your region, it is essential that your property is set up in a way that does not breach privacy laws.
Without a doubt, the accessibility of machine learning in GA4 is an exciting development. Unlike previous instances that required third-party solutions, Google’s integrated features now place AI power in the palm of marketers’ hands.
Machine learning, especially that within GA4, will be crucial in filling the gaps left by third-party cookies. While the property is far from flawless, businesses should not underestimate the potential of machine learning in this platform. In a cookieless future, a certain adaptability and open-mindedness towards technology is essential.
With three national websites and a franchise based business model, Bristol based The HR Dept is really several campaigns rolled into one. After two years working with them, we have delivered an 80% year on year increase in goal conversions and numerous wins for their franchisees and we still have so much more to achieve for this market leader in HR services.
“We have been extremely pleased with the guidance and expert knowledge provided by Superb Digital. They are always quick to respond and very proactive in their approach. Since working with them for the last couple of years we have seen very positive results. Thank you Paul, Joe and the team.”
FELICITY KENNY, MANAGING DIRECTOR, THE HR DEPT
The HR Dept is a national franchise providing HR consultancy and related services for SMBs up and down the UK. Established in Bristol (where the head office still resides) in 2002 by Sue Tumelty, the company quickly grew into a franchise based business, with individual HR directors heading up their own territories across the UK, Ireland and Australia. These individual franchises are small companies in their own right, with many employing several support staff.
In November 2021, The HR Dept Group Ltd became an employee ownership trust.
Unlike the first two, whose audiences are the end users, franchise recruitment targets HR professionals looking to set up their own HR consultancy business.
Having three websites to work on was a huge challenge, as each in itself is a huge project with different requirements and challenges.
Despite previous work with a number of Search Agencies, The HR Dept hadn’t received much strategic advice, as both the HR and HS Dept websites had little search visibility around most of their key services, some of which had huge traffic potential.
A major challenge identified from the outset was duplicate content. The company’s websites were set up to effectively host each franchisee territory on their website as a separate area of the main website. With over 60 active franchisees, this meant every single piece of content on the main site was replicated 60 times over.
This was just the tip of the iceberg in terms of the work that lay ahead. Other issues included no analytics or goal conversions set up, localisation issues, the sheer volume of rankable content topics to cover, not to mention the challenge of promoting the strategically vital HR recruitment side of the business, which has little to no search volume.
So with three websites to look at and a finite budget, we focused our energies on the HR and HS Dept sites first.
After dealing with duplicate content and other technical SEO challenges, the vast majority of the work would be centred around building out The HR Dept’s content. Whether that was localising franchisee areas of the site, improving existing service pages, or creating expert guides to supplement service pages, the issue was content. Or rather a lack of it.
Another element of the campaign was promoting the franchisee sections of the website. The HR Dept’s business model sees franchise fees go towards national marketing, but with many franchisees in highly competitive regions or cities, we hit on the idea of creating franchisee packages, to supplement this to any franchisees that wanted it. The take up was encouraging and we’ve seen some great successes with individual franchisees.
The franchise recruitment strategy has focused on developing the brand with content created through interviewing franchisees and senior personnel at head office. We have had great feedback so far but it’s early days and we look forward to working more closely with The HR Dept on this area in the coming months.
We have well and truly achieved great results for the HR Dept website, with an 80% increase in enquiries and 60% increase in organic traffic for The HR Dept site. HS Dept, which had far less SEO work done to it when we took this on it should be pointed out, has seen a massive 492% increase in organic traffic.
The localisation work we have done for the franchisee pages on the main HR Dept site, has also had a huge impact, with many of them coming from nowhere to rank in positions 1-3 for local HR related search terms in their area.
All of this has led to a surge in enquiries for The HR Dept’s franchisees, such as:
As we continue to grow topic clusters around key services, we expect The HR and HS Dept’s national search presence to continue its upward trajectory, with more business generated for their network of franchisees as a result.
At the same time, we are now turning our attention (and budget) towards really pushing the franchisee recruitment side of the business, in order to attract new franchisees to take on this growing demand.
Through a joint planning process, Squarebird worked with SRLV to deliver a new look and feel to their brand and website that retained their history – bringing them into the modern era with a contemporary design, a slick look, and a site-wide representation of their ethos and values.
SRLV are a firm of chartered accountants, business management specialists, and advisors for corporate and private clients. They deliver quality work and personalised support, underpinning excellence at the very highest level. The ethos, honesty, and nurturing of a family business; the professionalism of a larger organisation – this is SRLV.
Squarebird and SRLV began by collaborating to explore the purpose behind the rebrand, outlining the goals they wanted to achieve, and cementing the need to build awareness of their brand and specialist services. Three core objectives arose from this exercise:
After the objectives were realised and finalised, Squarebird began work on a redevelopment proposal that covered brand, website, and collateral elements.
SRLV wanted to preserve their existing heritage and branding. This was brought across through small details across the site, such as the sage colour of their logo – a logo which was carefully refined to showcase the different components of their brand identity, themed around their relationships with customers and clients.
The concepts behind the logo design were proposed as a solution to extend through the rest of the redevelopment – a proposal that SRLV agreed with, beginning the implementation of their core sense of integrity, values, and family into a professional, contemporary digital presence.
“We worked through a concept stage, creating multiple logos that ranged from safe to disruptive. The design that lured them in was dynamic, with the potential to expand into wider branding. It could animate to spell out the letters SRLV and be used to create a bespoke pattern that’s applicable throughout the brand identity. It was an enjoyable process with multiple avenues but when they saw the one, they just knew.” – Alec, Lead Designer.
“From the moment we first set foot in their offices, it was abundantly clear this was a firm we were eager to collaborate with. SRLV defies the conventional norms of an accountancy firm; they embody a unique blend of professionalism and approachability that sets them apart.
Beyond the expected attributes of a top-tier firm, SRLV exude a cool, down-to-earth demeanour that aligns perfectly with their diverse and stylish clientele. Our mission was to capture these distinctive qualities and breathe life into them through a comprehensive brand evolution and the creation of a cutting-edge digital presence.
Our dedicated team invested tireless effort into not only meeting but surpassing the needs and aspirations of SRLV’s partners. The resulting project meets present demands and is proofed for the future, ensuring SRLV remains at the forefront of their industry.
A special mention is due to Henrietta Atkins Consulting Limited, SRLV’s trusted Strategic Marketing Consultancy, who seamlessly collaborated with Squarebird throughout the project. Their invaluable support and teamwork played a pivotal role in achieving a flawless outcome that perfectly encapsulates the essence of SRLV’s exceptional brand.” – Nick Bird, Managing Partner
Squarebird brought to life the vibrant contemporary culture of SRLV through design and content, demonstrated the staff’s diversity, and highlighted the quality of the firm as an employer of both graduates and qualified professionals. This fed into wider support of marketing activities like email and social media.
The redevelopment concluded, resulting in a newly envisioned brand and website that create a premium experience, luxury feel, and demonstrate the experience and expertise of SRLV’s staff.
“There is a first-class team at Squarebird. It was a pleasure working with them. They helped us develop a new brand logo and a full website overhaul, taking on board our vision and giving excellent advice along the way. I highly recommend them.” – Grant Court, SRLV Partner
View the full case study here.
Leading Bristol web design and brand agency, Squarebird, have designed and built a new website for the biggest contractor in the South West, Lancer Scott, to elevate their digital presence and create a tool to better showcase and validate their people and projects.
After outgrowing their existing website, Lancer Scott came to Squarebird seeking a slick new look with a brave approach on both image and text. Lead generation was low on their priority list; instead, their new site was to be a validation tool to represent their people and projects – defining built environments all over the UK.
The finished website had to be clean, incorporate lots of white space, and have a text layout reminiscent of print. The aim was to validate their status and showcase their multidisciplinary offering.
Style tile designs were made, incorporating the initial copywriting concepts into broader visuals. Tone of voice work was also a key consideration for Lancer Scott, and Squarebird took the time to design a style that portrayed their bravery, vision, and ‘get-things-done’ approach. Once this all came together, Squarebird moved on to creating content throughout the site, refining Lancer Scott’s core message and speaking to their professional expertise.
“Our experience working with Squarebird on our new website was fantastic. The team seamlessly collaborated with Lancer Scott, actively listening to our ideas and flexibly incorporating them into the site’s design. They took the time to really understand the values and core of the business and worked with us to develop a tone of voice and website style that portrayed Lancer Scott accurately at a pivotal time for the company. The end result not only exceeded our expectations but also effectively showcases our company’s services, people and ethos. We would highly recommended Squarebird to any company looking to step up their digital offering.” – Nia Hughes, lancer Scott Marketing & Communications.
The final design represents the major contributions of Lancer Scott to the built environment of the South West. It incorporates full-scale photography, a bold use of text, and considered spacing. The structure facilitates inter-selling between their various services; boldly frames their case studies; and fully encompasses the firm’s achievements, CSR activity, and vision.
“As a business rooted in Bristol, there’s a special sense of pride and purpose that comes with collaborating with the city’s iconic industry leaders. Lancer Scott, a name synonymous in the area with pioneering large-scale developments, entrusted us with the challenge of translating their legacy into a vibrant digital presence through a brand-new website.
I’m immensely proud of the incredible collaborative effort between Squarebird and Lancer Scott, shaping this digital vision into a platform that showcases the essence of Lancer Scott’s impactful contributions to our beloved city of Bristol – and beyond.” – Nick Bird, Squarebird Managing Partner.
You can view the full case study here.