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10 things I’ve learned about blogging….

2012 September 27
by roostonline


Community Assistant Abi Taylor reflects on what Roost’s approach to bloggers and blogging have taught her.

1. Blogs are addictive.

After only a week at Roost I found myself checking the blogs I had discovered when I was on the train, at the weekend, before I went to bed, basically all the time. There is something unbelievably fascinating about being let into someone else’s world and learning about their life (or maybe I just find it fascinating because I’m exceptionally nosy…). I was soon sharing my newfound addiction with friends and family and am still amazed at how ‘ordinary’, everyday lives can be so enthralling.

2. Many bloggers thrive on ‘too much information’.

Many bloggers quite literally blog about anything, from what they had for dinner to their top tips on travelling with children. Much as this window into their everyday lives is very interesting, I have realised that some like to share EVERYTHING, including their second-by-second-all-the-gory-details-included birth stories and why? Because these personal renditions are valuable to both the blogger and their audience – there will always be people who can relate to what is being said.

3. Bloggers have an amazing sense of community.

One thing that has really struck me about bloggers is how they interact with each other; they become a sort of blogging family. One of the best stories I came across was a mummy blogger who had moved into a new house that needed a lot of work. Other mummy bloggers rallied together and organised a day where they all volunteered to donate DIY materials or their time to help renovate her house. From speaking to Toyologists from this years programme it is clear that the people they have met through their blogging communities have become ‘real’, life-long friends.

4. Their opinion is noteworthy and relevant.

Last week was London Fashion Week, and after a bit of research I saw how many people attending had been invited, not because they were celebrities or designers, but because they have a successful fashion blog. Their blogs are so influential and have such a large following that massive organisations are fighting to snap them up.

5. The power of a community.

Mummy bloggers are by far my favourite type of bloggers; they can be controversial, eccentric and downright hilarious. But put them all together and their potential power, especially over brands, is incredible.

6. Perfection is not the end game.

Blogs are not novels or newspaper articles, they’re people’s thoughts, and I found that the varying writing styles just added to the character and made you feel like you were talking to an actual person rather than a machine. I know that if you wrote down all the random thoughts in my head there would certainly be no cohesiveness!

7. Blogs can start careers.

What starts out as a simple blog can lead to much bigger things. Just Google Sally Whittle.

8. Blogs are not just for cool indie students in Starbucks with a MacBook.

There are blogs for literally EVERYTHING! With over 181 million in the world (2011), there is something for everyone, written by every type of person imaginable. Some of the stranger ones I came across: a blog about all the odd things in the world (such as real life people who look like cartoon characters), a blog reviewing all the food you can find inside Disney World and a blog entirely dedicated to baked beans.

10. Bloggers are the future.

Brands are beginning to realise how they can use bloggers to reach a massive audience of potential customers, and that having bloggers on your side is crucial. Blogs are no longer just a place for people to empty their heads- they are massive business opportunities. For brands, the potential for outreach is huge, and similar to the recent drive towards the use of social media, those not engaging with bloggers are sure to get left behind.

Blog Camp London

2012 September 21

Roost’s Community Strategist Frankie Holloway reflects on what she learnt at Blog Camp UK. 

Last week I left the Roost Offices for the day and headed up to London for Blog Camp. As both a community manager who runs blogger projects and looks after our Blog Community and a blogger myself, I was excited to see what I could learn from both a professional and personal point of view.

The day was held at the Google Campus in Shoreditch and featured several interesting talks and presentations each concerned with offering bloggers inspiration and practical advice and inspiring debate. After some momentary concern that Blog Camp and Tots 100 founder Sally Whittle was missing (she was caught up in traffic and appeared during the first presentation) the day began!

Ade of Google (Photo by Tots 100)

First up was Ade Oshineye explaining the intricacies of Google +: Ade talked about how Google’s was continuing to develop a seamless user experience across all their platforms.  Some of the interesting points he made included:

  • Google Hangouts, which let you video chat in a group of up to 9 people, are free for all Google users. It turned out the Blog Camp team had already held a meeting over one of these as they allow all participants to share documents and watch videos at the same time.
  • If you do have a personal blog then they recommend promoting it through your own profile instead of through a page, although this is obviously not an option is you blog anonymously. Despite this your SEO may be better if you do have a blog page on Google +.
  • Ade suggested getting around the last point by posting first as a blog/page then reposting on your personal profile but disabling comments. This way if anyone is interested they’ll go to your page and you’ll pick up more readers and page members.

Despite some of these interesting points the reaction to his talk wasn’t overwhelmingly positive with several audience members explaining the difficulties they’d had with Google, but Ade took comments on board – it was great to see that  Google  wanted to hear feedback about Google+ and their other services.

We then heard from Blog Camp rookie, the very funny Stuart Heritage – who set up his own show business blog, which led to him becoming an independent blogger and Guardian Contributor.

Stuart talked about how to deal with online criticism. The main points for bloggers to take from this are:

  • You can’t avoid criticism online.
  • Criticism of your blog can be a good thing because it shows a) that you are being read b) that your writing inspires opinions.
  • There are two ways to try and avoid online criticism a) try being self-depreciating b) try being blander.

Stuart regaled us with his own stories of dealing with online critics which culminated in his encounter with a spoof Twitter account ‘Poo Smegatage’!

Marcel of StumbleUpon (photo by Tots 100)

In the afternoon there was a second speaker from a social media channel, Marcel Puppik from StumbleUpon. His talk seemed to resonate more with the audience than the morning’s Google talk. Interestingly the consensus in the room seemed to be that although a lot of the bloggers there had neglected social bookmarking sites in recent years they would be willing to give them another go. Useful info tips for bloggers included:

  • StumbleUpon is the third biggest social referrer of traffic in the UK with 11% of referrals coming from its site.
  • You can use Stumble Upon to drive thousands of additional visitors to your blog although make sure that your own content is not the only stuff you stumble.

The day ended with an open floor panel featuring Stuart Heritage, Annie Spratt and a PR professional chatting to the audience and sharing their experiences of blogging and working with brands. In summary all agreed that the most important things when blogging is to build your own authentic voice and that the reviews and brand endorsements you feature need to fit with that.

What did I take away from the day?

It was great to chat to bloggers over a slice of cake (photo by Tots 100)

As a blogger who is constantly seeking ways to attract an audience I found myself thinking about new ways I might never have considered, which led me to joining StumbleUpon at the weekend. The tips I received that day also reignited my enthusiasm for my own blog, which I’d neglected of late.

From a professional point of view it reiterated the importance of what we do with bloggers at Roost. It’s not our way to send out a press release from one or our clients and ask a blogger to repost in on their blog. Instead we seek to offer bloggers an experience or brief that gets them excited and allows them to buy into a brand opportunity tailored to their blog, lifestyle and current interests. That’s why when we’re given a client brief we actively seek out and build relationships with bloggers who we believe will resonate with our client.

Overall the part of the day that I enjoyed most was being able to chat with the other attendees. Although we talk to bloggers on Twitter, Facebook and over email nothing beats meeting them face to face and being able to find out what makes them tick.

We are very much looking forward to the next Blog Camp and hope we’ll see you there!

Follow us @blog_community

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Discovering the joy of blogs

2012 August 20
by roostonline

Why people blog and who reads them used to leave me slightly bemused. However, the more I read and explored this space, the more I have understood both what it is that makes people want to generate content and also why people, like myself, become avid followers. Since joining Roost I have come across some fascinating ones that I have shared with friends and taken ideas from. I have come across some delicious gluten free recipes which I have added to my recipe book, and got inspirational ideas for how to decorate my new house on a budget.

Below is one of my favourites from Kim Demmon’s blog, ‘Today’s Creative Blog’


Preserve your memories, thoughts and ideas…

In today’s world nothing is a secret, so why not embrace that fact? Whether it’s baking, arts and crafts, sharing fashion and beauty tips, or just reporting your daydreams and musings- this is how the world interacts with each other now, and it is a wonderful way to preserve memories. It is an online diary/scrap book and journal all rolled in to one!

You can make it as personal as you like, or keep your distance and keep it professional. Share with the world your thoughts and ideas, and hopefully inspire someone out there- and if not that then at least you have it documented and can look back fondly in ten or twenty years time (no doubt this will be in some funky futuristic way!).

How good does this peanut butter cookie look that I found!

Blogs are a great way to impress potential employers and friends…

For companies like Roost, bloggers are invaluable for market research. They are becoming increasingly more important for brands to promote and advertise their products- as influencers and to their peers. They provide innovative ideas and generate real, consumer insight and opinions about products and brands; it’s the most valuable source of information available to companies. Blogs can look impressive not just on a personal level, but professionally it can attract potential employers- as it shows a great interest in something you are truly passionate about.

Getting started on my own blog…

It is easy enough to set about creating a blog online, but what really needs to be thought about is one’s passion, and something you know lots about- you don’t want to run out of things to say! So why not try starting up your own blog- I know I’m going to put my tail between my legs and admit that I am indeed converted.  Now I just need to think of a catchy name…




Facebook…a love affair for life?

2012 July 13
by roostonline

 Abi has just joined Roost as a community assistant and will be with us for three months.

Facebook Addict

I will openly admit that I am addicted to Facebook. Since the 10th of July 2007 we have been almost inseparable, parted only by far away travels and broken internet. Now, with the introduction of smart phones, I now have access to my account 24/7 pretty much anywhere in the world.  I wouldn’t go so far as to say my life revolves around Facebook, but it certainly features a lot; it’s how I keep up to date with my old school friends while I’m at uni, it’s how I communicate with my tutor group about projects we have throughout the year and it’s how I get invited to events, from 21st birthday parties to student nights out in Nottingham.  I have never had the self-restraint, unlike many of my housemates, to delete my account during exam period, and I can barely get through dinner without checking my phone to ensure I haven’t missed out on any important news (much to my boyfriends annoyance). So imagine my distress at the thought that after university I would probably have to stop using Facebook, because surely real people with real, grown-up jobs don’t have the time or the need for such superficial procrastination, do they?




Looking to the future…

As I’m about to begin my third and final year (sob), I have started to look at various graduate schemes, as applications will open in September. My first port of call was to trawl through the websites of as many communication agencies as I could find and look for an email address under the career section. But time and time again there was no information and I was directed to Facebook pages or groups.


JWT London Grads page posts application deadlines, answers questions from applicants and posts video interviews with people currently on the scheme.

These pages have become the go-to place for all graduates, containing information about the company, the application process, deadlines and for some agencies, the application questions are even completed through a Facebook app.  Potential applicants can ask questions and get responses in real time from people running the schemes. After further investigation I found that many grad schemes also had Twitter accounts, and from talking to a friend who graduated a few years ago, his agency interviewed applicants via a Skype roulette system, randomly matching them up to an interviewer who gave them 15 minutes to impress.


The new generation

So what does this change in process mean? It appears that big firms are preparing a whole generation to be social media savvy, and not just through Facebook but across all channels.  Without a Facebook account I would be restricted in which jobs I could apply for and without Twitter I wouldn’t be able to keep up with updates on my application.  This shows how seriously firms are taking social media, and how important they believe it is now and will be in the future.

So although I’m thrilled that my Facebook -stalking days are no longer numbered, come September will I have to filter my account to make it employer-friendly? Is your Facebook account the new CV? Students need to be aware of how their account is viewed by others and understand the privacy settings that they can put in place if they are going to be using Facebook to communicate with potential employers. After all, I wouldn’t allow a photo of myself running through campus in full blue body paint dressed as an Avatar on my CV, yet it’s still there on my Facebook account for all to see. I know friends who have two accounts, one for friends and one with filtered content for everyone else. Although firms seem to have taken the leap into social media, I think universities are only just catching up, and need to do more to advice students on their social media presence.

 Is this really how I want a potential employer to see me? (INCREDIBLE fancy dress aside)

 Facebook for life

Even though some students may be annoyed and consider these developments an invasion of privacy, I’m excited that firms are embracing social media, from Facebook to Twitter to LinkedIn, and actively encouraging young people to continue using it throughout their working life.  I think they finally realise that this is how my generation communicate, and how accustomed we have become to it being a part of our everyday life. It just shows how far we have come from the days when social media was viewed only as a procrastination tool. It is definitely so much more than that.



Femfresh – a case in point of Social Media Planning

2012 June 27

Social media has enabled brands to create a presence online very quickly. Often time and consideration is put into the creative, whilst failing to plan for and anticipate where the 99% of your on-going time and engagement will be taking place.

Team Roost have been discussing how and where it went wrong with the Femfresh campaign. While most articles have pinned the issues on the use of language (Mini, Twinkle, Hoo Haa, Flower, Fancy, Yoni, Lady Garden….) and in so patronising their audience, we feel that a simple social misunderestimation is at the heart of this #PRFail.

Disclaimer – I don’t like the use of #PRFail – it is over used and poorly understood by social media evangelists, but in this instance it feels apt

Holistic advertising planning:

Should social communications be at the start and the end of the planning process? If you can reach out to your audience online why shouldn’t you use them to co-create a strategy at the start of the process whilst also gauging how your other ATL activity might be impacted?

Femfresh: Being creative and adding some fun into what is otherwise a fairly dry product is nothing new. But given the topic up for discussion, it would have been wise in this case to understand the impact that the campaign might have in advance, both positive and negative.

And while the ad campaign might not have caused a stir, it is the number one rule of any integrated campaign to understand that any disgruntled audience will come looking for you online to voice their opinions, and rule number two, that you must be prepared for this to happen.


Consider your community – invest in advocates:

Social media is straightforward in many aspects. Set the tone at the start and the majority will follow – fail at the start and you will be fighting an uphill battle.

Femfresh: The share of voice around the campaign seems to be predominantly negative, but there are some people out there who have voiced a positive opinion or are at least indifferent to the campaign tone and messaging.

One commenter on the Stylist Magazine website saw the campaign as attempting to play on the recent renown of humorous terms for genitals as popularised by the cast of The Only Way is Essex and their tendency to “vajazzle” their “noons”. However the way in which the campaign was positioned failed to take into account that most people do not call their own parts such ridiculous names and to suggest that they do is patronising and inappropriate. If they had chosen edgier and less youthful/ditzy terms and instead gone for a more sardonic approach they may have enjoyed greater success, as we will see later with a competitor brand.

Advocate outreach has many advantages (and certainly in this case it would need to be thoroughly considered), but what it does do is set a page’s tone.

The first comment/endorsement goes a long way to teeing up any future conversations, and also has the added impact of suppressing any unwanted conversations due to the esteem with which ambassadors can be regarded on Facebook pages with some careful positioning.

In other words, I am sure that Femfresh could have seeded the campaign in a manner whereby it was interpreted in the way in which I envisage it was originally meant, and not as an avoidance of the use of the word ‘vagina’.


Social media is an investment:

Malcolm Gladwell first talked about Tipping Points back in 2000 – the points he raises are only becoming more relevant. For all the KPI conversations around social media, it needs to be seen as an investment and one that has varying measures of success.

Femfresh: Email data capture is still seen as one of the main KPIs for digital marketing. It is unsurprising then that at no point would data capture fields be removed from a website. In the same way dialogue and engagement are key to a social media campaign (engagement per thousand), so why lock down a page to prevent this from taking place?

With all this free PR and 3rd party traffic driving activity would it not be wise to leverage the exposure and look to try and monetise the additional value? Does the old line of there is ‘no such thing as bad PR’ not ring true in social media?


Always invest time in a mitigation strategy:

Each and every campaign should be accompanied by a working mitigation document. This should be a living and breathing document that is added to, amended and evaluated on an on-going basis. After all, it could save your bacon….

Femfresh: And so we come full circle…mitigation documents should be tested on an audience. Through co-creation and audience feedback you can ascertain what the likely implications of a campaign might be. Ad agencies have been doing it for years for TV adverts, so why not apply it to social media campaigns?

It is so very un-‘social’ to simply implement a mitigation strategy that revolves around not engaging with your audience.


Case Study: Mother Nature

I want to end on a campaign case study that treads a similar path to Femfresh, but that has been infinitely more successful in the way in which it has addressed the subject matter and managed and monitored the online community. Proctor & Gamble’s (Tampax) Mother Nature campaign now has an audience of 287,226 Likes and with a more satirical strap line ‘Monthly Nature’s Monthly Gift’, it is clear that the brand have struck a more sophisticated and edgy tone, tapping into a genuine and more universal female sentiment”

Here are a few observations:

  • The brand has (mostly) been removed from all communication – fans are engaging in the persona concept and not with the brand product.
  • Mother Nature personifies the tongue in cheek nature of the campaign, playing on the idea of a not-so-welcome “gift” from a slightly barmy aunt who women have to “outwit” with Tampax each month. She removes any direct associations/connotations with the product.
  • Updates maintain the idea of a “monthly gift” – they have not deviated from the plan. The contact strategy has been defined – intrigue has been positioned as the hook and CTA.

Where do you think it all went wrong for Femfresh?


Twitter Followers = ROI

2012 June 13
by roostonline

Each day I receive Twitter alerts telling me who is following one of the numerous accounts that Roost Online manage. While many people might see this as spam or at the very least annoying, the community team find it intriguing. Every day we follow our content plans and reactively and proactively manage each of the social communities that we look after, we are constantly striving for engagement and social gestures. Being followed on Twitter is an example of one of those golden eggs that we are working towards, they are also a very clear indication of how our messages are resonating and who is interested in what we have to say. The mini biogs, their latest updates, all of this gives further insight into how people (and companies) are interpreting and reacting to our strategies.


Selective proactive following (outreach) is also a good trigger for engagement and awareness. Yesterday my @simonjohn9 account was followed by @showlerart. As usual I read the biog as my email alert flashed up:


We create and sell beautifully illustrated art prints and postcards for you to hang on your walls and send to your friends!

But rather than moving on, I decided to have a little deeper look, you see I have a need for wall art at the moment (!) – 10 mins later I was the owner of one Orangina Bottle!



Now I would hope that this wasn’t simply a random (follow) strategy, but rather a clever thought through process where they had identified keywords, locations and demographics that they were looking to target and follow – if so I applaud you @showlerart. As a next step it would be interesting to see brands capture more social details at POS so that they could start to break down their database to see how and where this is impacting on sales.



How to write perfect Facebook updates

2012 May 25
by roostonline

A few weeks ago Amplify released a really interesting short film on the role fans have come to play in brand promotion. A part that really struck a chord was the discussion of Facebook brand pages. One contributor said that a “like” on Facebook is the social media equivalent of a grunt in a conversation. It’s an acknowledgement but it’s not participation.
Much focus is often given to the importance of gaining a lot of “likes” for your brand’s Facebook page. But once you’ve achieved this how do you prevent an “unlike”?

That’s what this post is about. How do you write a perfect status update and keep your fans engaged?
A successful status update will encourage participation and ensure that followers continue to visit and contribute to the page. Updates can be written to create brand awareness and to encourage activity among fans and as a way to deliver news.

We love seeing what other brands are doing in their social media outreach and as a fashion and obsessed individual I thought I’d look at the Facebook statuses of some of my favourite brands.

Managing Facebook pages for a brand can be tricky as you want to engage your audience in a way that encourages fan loyalty and drives purchases, but at the same time you need to avoid being pushy or overtly plugging your products which can cause an audience to disengage. So here are three tricks and tips about how to write successful Facebook posts.

1) Include good quality media images and video


A key way to drive engagement and encourage a click through to a brand sight is to include rich media such as large images and videos. Topshop are especially good at this. Each day they publish a ‘Daily Fix’, a post featuring a new product, which often guarantees a large amount fan engagement and has been my downfall on more than one occasion.

2)      Start a discussion and ask questions


Another important aspect of any status is to not simply plug your product, which can cause your fans to become irritated, instead actively communicate with them. This can be done by asking a question and inspiring a discussion or by ask them to like or share the update if they enjoy it.

This update by ASOS is a good example. One of their jackets has been worn by Lana Del Rey. ASOS have asked their followers to comment on Del Rey’s outfit before directing them to the page they can purchase it from. The comments on the jacket range from positive comments – which could lead to purchases – and negative comments, but either way they’ve encouraged engagement with their brand and debate on their page – which is a good thing.

1)      Competitions and Giveaways


Understandably most people like and engage with competitions and giveaways. Jack Wills are especially good at this, their  Facebook page features a number of excuslive giveaways including polo tickets, a years worth of university fee and in this case an exclusive lamp. Their technique of asking people to comment on the post explaining why they should win the lamp is a good one, resulting in over 1,500 comments.  Although, we should point out it was not done in an app, which goes against Facebook’s terms and conditions.

Essentially the most important word to keep in mind when writing any Facebook status is engagement. What aspect of your post will encourage users to comment, like and share and in doing so participate in your brand’s conversation and story?

At Roost we ensure all status updates are written with the audience needs at the forefront; We listen to what a brand’s followers have to say and take into account any insights and feedback to ensure constant optimisation of social editorial and content.

We’d love to hear your nominations for the brands getting it right on Facebook, so do drop us a comment


Breakfast with Wired

2012 May 16
by roostonline

I have just returned from an, as always, very interesting talk by Greg Williams of Wired UK.


The presentation looked to highlight the top 10 trends as seen by Wired; this is not about fads or noise but genuine innovations that are, and will sculpt both industry and consumerism.

1) Rise of the mobile
USA has 76% penetration vs. India 5% and China 29%

2) SoloMo – Social local mobile

3) The data economy
An iPhone has more computer power than Apollo 11 had.

4)  Social design
Building around people and not products (The Roost!)

5)  Privacy
Facebook, the world’s biggest spread sheet – Amber Case (Cyborg Anthropologist)

6 Health

7)  Consumerisation
Consumer expectations exceed corporate IT systems

8 )  3D printing

9)  Collaborative consumerism

10)  Finance revolution

The Future is here – it is all about serving human needs.

Have you come across any trends/technologies that have changed your day to day – we’d love to hear about them here.


Veronica Chan of Gojee

2012 May 10

On Monday, in New York, I was lucky enough to catch up with Veronica Chan of Gojee, to chat about the state of the blogosphere in the USA. As Director of Content, Veronica is focused on what her audience is interested in to sustainably build out the content strategy for the company.

Veronica Chan

Veronica Chan of Gojee

Gojee is like StumbleUpon for Foodies. The aim of the site is to allow everyday cooks to tap into a massive selection of recipes submitted by personally selected bloggers; it means that users can search by their favourite ingredients and find new exciting recipes as submitted by their favourite bloggers.

What was interesting was the way in which Veronica and Gojee have approached the recruitment and relationships with the bloggers. Similar to the way in which we approach this space, it has all been about personal one-on-one correspondence. Veronica herself knows and talks to each of the bloggers on a regular basis “adding a face to the brand”.

Veronica has found herself becoming friends with many of the bloggers, further building trust and transparency in the working relationship that they have forged.

As discussed in a previous post, there has always been a tricky relationship between bloggers and brands/agencies. This is not only the case in the UK but also in the US where some bloggers have had their fingers burnt either as a result of the lack of openness about what has been expected or through the prescriptive brief that they have been given. Gojee’s model relies on their relationships and therefore they have taken the time to invest in building an exclusive network – even though when they first set out they were trying to sell in an idea as the site wasn’t even live.
It has been a credit to their success that they have now built up a community that is considered exclusive amongst the food blogging community and have a growing  of 390K users from all around the world. Membership, and the ability to upload new recipes to the site, is by invite only.

It was a great morning spent with Veronica, made even better by some cheeky celeb spotting…


Blogging in the USA

2012 April 30
by roostonline

Blogging is a way of life – it is personal in its motivations and approach.

At Roost Online we are interested in finding out what makes bloggers tick and what they see as valuable in working alongside brands. We know that this varies across sectors, interests and locations, even within the UK geographical access to events and cities means that a blogger has to respond differently to requests based on where they live/work.

We have long since know that the US blogosphere again is very different to that of the UK in terms of that it seems to have found a more commercial positioning as a result of being more established. We have now run several campaigns outside of the UK, but our thirst for insight is such that this week our Strategy Director, Simon, is off to New York to go and meet some bloggers and brands to understand a little more about what they want from a ‘relationship’.

If you are New York based and want to get in touch for a coffee, please give Simon  a shout on

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