Category Archives: Big Cat Social

It’s Christmas time….

Well it’s been a busy old few weeks here at the Big Cat office. Usually during the run up to Christmas people start winding down, brew the mulled wine and pop open the mince pies…no such luck here, it’s been hands on deck.

Last Friday saw the launch of NEC Funworld, Europe’s most exciting funfair, which Big Cat PR and Marketing had a helping hand in promoting. Featuring over 60 adrenaline fuelled rides including The Superstar, Frisbee and Frog, it’s enough to turn your stomach (which Chris Brown can testify too).

As with any launch though, you have to have a high-profile celebrity, and boy did we have an act. X-Factor legends John and Edward performed a number hits on the night which included their very own interpretation of “Ghostbusters”. The hall was buzzing with atmosphere, with a crowd of screaming girls (and a few boys) chanting “JEDWARD! JEDWARD!”. Some of the girls had been queuing up since 1:00pm in the afternoon and during the time had practiced a little routine to wow the twins with.

The launch event was a great success though with the Big Cat team even having some time on the rides themselves….well we had to make sure all the rides worked ok.

But, no rest for the wicked though. 3 days left till we break up for Christmas and we still have a pile of work to get through. Some great projects coming up in the New Year though which we’re really excited about, however it’s all a bit hush hush at the moment so you’ll have to wait and see what they are.

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Tips on Social Media from our Bournville account

In the interests of Social Media and idea sharing, I would like to do a small post on our work with Bournville College.

bournvilleBournville College is a sixth form and adult education establishment just outside Birmingham city centre. They’re an extremely innovative college that were looking to use social media as a tool for connecting with current and prospective students. They contacted us on the matter and off we went.

As with all things, the campaign evolved and adapted throughout its duration. We had a water tight strategy but it is impossible to foresee trends and patterns in student viewing habits. Our campaign was based around the existing Bournville Blog that had been left dormant for sometime and we set up a bouquet of social media applications that were to satellite the blog acting as a referral tool and a real time conversational app.

bournville2As it is impossible to forecast the best social media apps for reaching students, we started with a blanket campaign over all the apps including Twitter, Bebo, MySpace, YouTube, Facebook, Digg, StumbleUpon and Delicious. Each was given equal weight and attention until it became clear which ones were effective and which ones were not.

We applied the same ‘survival of the fittest’ mentality to the blog which was the ‘meat on the bone’ of the campaign. We initially wrote a new blog post every day with each post covering a different school subject everyday. We tried to make all posts appeal to inquisitive teens so we did posts on things such as the science behind a bacon sandwich and discussing what ‘Only fools and horses’ taught us about finance as well as live social reporting from Bournville’s open days and fayres.bournville3

Conversation was the foundation of our campaign and our main goal from start to finish was to create content that would provoke comments. Dialogue is the most important part of social media. Our initial posts, although well visited, were not gaining the frequency of comments we were hoping for. A more question based blogging style was to be used. We wanted to talk about relevant topics and ask the audience for their feedback. It was a great deal more successful and our blog and Facebook pages soon became forums for people to comment on.

With regards to applications and portals, there is no cast iron one that works for everyone. With our young audience we had anticipated a lot more from our Bebo page but it was Facebook, Stumble and Digg that were our big hitters, so we pulled out of the other applications and put our energies into making them a success. Twitter was a slight disappointment which I think may have been a result of Twitter being a more adult toy, certainly for our other accounts, particularly Bodies Revealed, Twitter has been an excellent conversational tool and information portal.Facebook

The question asking and dialogue through Facebook kept interest up during the summer holidays where we were expecting a down turn. Our social reporting was gaining a lot of hits and a small community was growing. As the campaign drew to its climax and prospectus downloads became the paramount target, our posts across all apps became a lot more sales driven.

In the end, Bournville received a record high enrollment and they will now be using social media as a regular tool for communication within the college.

We don’t profess to be social media geniuses but there were some valuable lessons we learnt on the way.

1. Always adapt – new trends and apps pop up all the time and devices you thought may be successful often may not be

2. Know you end and goal and stick at it – if you want comments, write posts that provoke comments

3. Reply to everything – it’s obvious but people don’t do it. Social media is two way and that is its sole purpose.

Without wanting to sound a bit shameless, Alma Aganovic of Bournville College had this to say about it all:

Social media is a very innovative marketing approach for the FE sector, with Bournville taking the lead, with Big Cat’s help. Using several social networking websites, as well as our own website blog, we have opened dialogues with potential students and the local community. This has in turn led to increased traffic on our website and an increase in downloaded brochures, both of which have been great news.

Working with Big Cat has been productive and enjoyable. We have monitored the campaign very closely, adapting activities to meet our targets. Big Cat have been very responsive and creative in terms of coming up with suggestions for adjusting campaign objectives, making the most of activities taking place at the College (e.g. Live blogging from Open Days etc). Following the success of the summer campaign, we are continuing to work with Big Cat this year to promote our Open Days. I have no hesitation in recommending this agency as a social media partner.

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Does Birmingham have the right qualifications?

The 27th annual climb in A level grades were announced yesterday to great fanfares of cynicism and howls of “dumbing down”. Thousands of Birmingham youngsters share in the bumper year’s results but they are discovering that A levels are a debased currency when it comes to a university place.

Up to 6 students are chasing every place available through the clearing system as the best cohort in history fight for entry to a degree course. By mid morning yesterday the elite universities had already announced they were full.

Birmingham University by Tom Thorpe

Birmingham University by Tom Thorpe

Today’s headlines have got me thinking about whether Birmingham has the qualifications to retain its students after they have graduated from our universities and colleges?

A cynic (who me?) could say Broad Street is now a cultural and literal wasteland. The once über cool Arcadian Centre has lost its shine. Pubs and Clubs are being closed in Digbeth because of noise bleed and poor planning policy. The dire lack of support for independent retail has resulted in a homogenous shopping experience in the city centre.

Can Birmingham ever compete against London in the graduate retention stakes?

The more I think about it the more I like the idea of a Greater Birmingham. I doubt this will ever happen but when I consider how we gain maximum leverage from our local assets I can only see benefit from the region having a shared and thus louder voice with its combined assets and a coherent communications strategy with synergistic objectives. The surrounding towns and boroughs will not lose their identity or charm any more than Chelsea or Wimbledon did during the creation of Greater London in the ‘60s.


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Social Media killed the seminar

Seminars and conferences have been the staple diet of companies and yuppies alike since the 1980s. As well as providing a great excuse to go to another city on the company credit card, they are a forum where experts share their knowledge and ideas.
The content within such conferences help identify and mould current and future trends. The latest ideas and technology are showcased there along with market patterns and new innovations.

They sound interesting don’t they? I can tell you first hand they’re not and I’m sure many will agree with me. They’re filled with awkward small talk, pretending to be interested and trying to concentrate after sinking two cheeky pints in the interval.Happy_Customer_with_Laptop_repaired

Social Media maps and compartmentalises all the content found in seminars as well as being able to share the information in real time to a mass audience. Some content is interesting, others less so.The important thing is it’s free, quick, easy and you only learn want you want to learn.

No more expensive trips, no corporate comms; turn on the tele, eat your dinner and get online. Learn the future in real time.

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Yahoo and Microsoft need to stop trying to take over and just join in

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Remember the good old days of computers and the internet, when no one had a clue what the damn thing was and it’s only function seemed to be a window for sleaze.

It was also a time when Yahoo and Microsoft ruled the waves. Microsoft provided the computers and Yahoo provided the easy way to surf the web. It was such a simple time, with so little competition and so much opportunity. The internet was of course in black and white then and the family would gather round at 7:30 to watch the Yahoo search engine in action.


Fast forward 10-15 years and the game is much different. Apple’s super-smooth style has lubricated Microsoft’s mundane perch until they slid off in a frenzied panic; Google now have a 92% market share, an unprecedented share of such a vast market, and social media has extended the boundaries of publication and word-of-mouth.

The internet is a very different beast now; it was more of a luxury item then, now we literally could not live without it. Every piece of information imaginable is available and near perfect communication can be had between individuals on the other side of the planet.

But what’s coming next and how can Yahoo and Microsoft reclaim what was once theirs? Bing (Microsoft’s search engine) et al has failed massively and stupidly; trying to gain a reasonable percentage of Google’s market share is near pointless and extremely risky. No, something new must be thought up, something huge, something that would create a new craze on the web.Facebook

The current trend in the web is social networking and blogging. They weren’t always so popular and eventually something will come along and take its place in the hearts of fickle internet users. It is Yahoo’s task to dream it up, sadly it don’t think it works that way. Yahoo have had their time and it was good while it lasted, also the nature of the internet suggests that it is independent companies and individuals that bring about the real change on the web.

User based content and systems has made the internet a democracy with Google as the God and rank organiser through meritocracy. Yahoo and Microsoft don’t seem to understand this side of the web and that now the user is king. It is not an autocracy for them to take over with a wave of their wand.

They need to embrace the new changes, allow freedom through their applications and join in as an contributor, not an all conquering leader.

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Big Cat blog is expanding

Due to overwhelming public demand, the Big Cat blog is splitting off to represent all our departments. With the wave of social media swarming over Big Cats from all departments, each blog will be run a representative of each department who will control content and everything that comes with it.

The move is to help clarify what Big Cat does and help other Big Cats become more involved with social media. As the creator and majority poster of this blog, I have found it tough to encompass all that we do whilst keeping the blog succinct and clear.

Blogs need a theme and covering five departments on one blog isn’t ideal so it makes good sense, particularly as blogging is becoming more popular in the office.

Don’t fret if you are a fan of this blog, it will continue but (hopefully) as the other blogs become more popular, it will probably just become a stream for all the others.

I will publish it when each blog goes up as they won’t all go up at the same time.

Is this a bad idea, will it help us communicate and share more succinctly? Thoughts

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What do you think of the new big cat theme?

Sometimes it’s time for a little change and on the 6 month anniversary of the Big Cat wordpress blog, we felt a change was in order. We wanted something white (so the columns were more visible), with clean lines and the opportunity for a nice, relevant header. Have we achieved this or failed miserably?

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It takes great leaders to make great businesses

I am perpetually stunned how one or two people can have such a huge influence over market share, global trends and fashion. The heads and CEOs of major companies have untold power, and like everything, you don’t know how much until it has gone.
In today’s Guardian is an article about how Apple are and will struggle in the continued absence of Steve Jobs. Apple is one of the most recognisable brands in the world and continue to innovate at the highest level. You would think a company with such a huge amount of staff and expertise wouldn’t miss one man, but they do.

Apple’s recent keynote speech, Steve Jobs’ expert field, was run by Vice President Scott Forstall, a worthy successor and a key part of their success. But even he dropped a handful of clangers, a mistake that simply wouldn’t have been made under Jobs.

Now we all remember in the 1990s when the power shifted from Apple to Microsoft. What changed that could have created such a shift? Steve Jobs wasn’t running the show then and Bill Gates was, at Microsoft. Fast forward a few years and the trend reverses. What could have brought that on? Steve Jobs muscles out great designs and ingenius partnerships (music industry and iTunes) at the same time as Bill Gates starts handing over control of Microsoft.

Are these differences because these people are just truly special businessman, creatives, deal brokers and people managers? Perhaps they had too much control and their lieutenants couldn’t possibly take in all the information and knowledge their autocratic leaders have developed over the years.
The fact is all people need to be lead to a certain extent and a great leader can inspire untold success through force of character, vision, hard work and focus if their troops are willing to follow.

Let me know your thoughts on this. Are you a business leader with an opinion or are you a member of staff that has overachieved thanks to strong leadership? Maybe you have an opinion on Jobs and Gates, just get in touch.

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The power of social media: Daily Mail Poll

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Without doubt a great story and a true show of the infinite power of social media.
For those of you that don’t know the Daily Mail, it is a distinctly ‘Middle England‘ newspaper that deals in sensational headlines aimed at any liberalism it can get its hands on. It is despised by nearly all intelligent humans but still manages a high readership, which stuns me.

Basically, last week they put up one of their typical nonsense polls asking the ridiculous question ‘Should the NHS allow gypsies to jump the queue?’. Obviously the answer is no, it is a proposterous poll, designed to offer all the intellectual nurishment of… well the Daily Mail.

Some bright spark(s) put out a tweet asking the twitter population to vote ‘yes’ to swing an absurd poll to an absurd result. I don’t know how many people voted but thanks to, I have a good indication. Big Cat Director Anthony Tattum tweeted it from and recieved over 40,000… yes 40,000 retweets. He was recieving 200 retweets every 10 seconds at one time.

Even the biggest twitterers on the web don’t get those kinds of results, I assume (sadly I don’t fall in that bracket). The phenomonal number kept rising till it peaked at around 46,000.

The incredible amount of traffic going to the Daily Mail website caused the site to crash and the poll removed. A success I’m sure you’ll agree. The butterfly effect is alive and well and living in the twitter world.

Are there any other examples of twitter making a difference, if so let me know.

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360 Links for 22 May

In the time honoured tradition I have some new links to interesting sites that concern some of the 5 departments of our company.

Creative Design: 20 Useful websites for graphic design and textural patterns

Sure this is a slight cheat as I’m linking to a site that is linking to a load of other sites, but its all about spreading the word, and this link will help you get some great advice and inspiration.

Socia Media: How we can measure Social Media

If you read my last post, I give some advice on how we at Big Cat pitch in KPIs and strategise for social media. In this link Katie Paine gives us a nice scientific way of measuring Social Media.

PR and Marketing: What’s the difference between PR and Advertising

I’m willing to assume that if you are reading this blog, there’s a good chance you know the difference, but I am still stultified by the amount of people that can’t tell the difference. Let this site site do the explaining.

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