I recently read about creating Google search stories on Twitter (thanks @Eleesha) and decided to investigate to see if this was something worth doing for my business. I have occasionally seen little videos showing how a search on Google could lead to life changes (the most famous example is the Parisian Love story).
I’d wanted to make a simple mobile App for my business for ages but was held back by the fact that it seemed expensive to have one made for me, and difficult to do it myself as I am not a developer. However, I came across AppMakr on the web and decided to have a go at creating an App myself. AppMakr is currently free to use to create Apps: you simply have to pay Apple $99 for a Developer’s license and Google Market $25 for a Google Market account. Your App is hosted directly on the Android Market or in the App Store and you do not have to pay a hosting fee which appears to be the case with (for example) Swebapps. Another free solution, which I haven’t tried yet but am going to experiment with, is Google’s App Inventor, which seems a bit more flexible than AppMakr in terms of what you can create.
Using AppMakr to Create an iPhone App
Creating an App is relatively straightforward using AppMakr. I began with an iPhone App. You will need to know the RSS URLs’ of your blog, Facebook Page or account, Twitter page or Youtube Channel and so on as AppMakr mainly uses RSS feeds to create your mobile App. You can usually find these feeds by logging into your accounts, although Twitter and Facebook have not made this particularly easy! You can add the feeds using the URLs and they will display straightaway on your demo App (shown to the right hand side of the page on an Android style phone). Customised artwork needs to be made to fit the mobile phone screens; I made a Splash screen and a header using graphics created for my website and I will probably create custom icons at some point.
Uploading to the Apple App Store
The tricky part is using your Apple Developer’s account and publishing your AppMakr first to your phone for testing (AdHoc) and then to the App Store. This took me a long time and a lot of fiddling about generating and uploading certificates, and I’m reasonably technically proficient. I can tell you that for some reason, the Safari browser does not work for generating one certificate (why? It’s the Apple browser and I was using a Mac!) and I had to switch to Chrome. My App is now Awaiting Review: Apple checks all Apps submitted to them. AppMakr shows you a graphical display telling you how likely it is to be published.
Creating and publishing an Android App
To create my App for Android I simply copied it over using AppMakr. One Facebook feed refused to work when I downloaded the App for testing, even though it worked in the demo and on the Apple App, so I removed it. I’ll probably add it in a future version (you can upload upgrades to your Apps once they are published). Uploading to Android Market was a joyfully easy process compared to dealing with Apple and took me about ten minutes. I haven’t had many downloads or ratings yet so am hoping for more!
AppMakr was very simple and userfriendly, my only criticism is that they do not have a simple way to add a URL page for your website onto their apps. My website works well in a mobile browser and I would have liked to be able to add it. I am currently looking at ways to add my products so that customers can shop easily online as well, this is a bit of a challenge but I am hoping to come up with a solution. For a blogger or anyone with interesting content to publish I think this is a very accessible way to create a mobile app.
You can download my App by scanning the QR Code with your Android phone using Barcode Scanner or any similar scanning device to install it straight away.
I just wanted to share with you the exciting news that Mimimyne has just been chosen along with five other companies to be retweeted by Theo Paphitis as part of his “Small Business Sunday” competition. Theo Paphitis the legendary retail Dragon needs, I’m sure, no introduction but “Small Business Sunday” may not be known to everyone. To support small business in the UK, Theo asks small businesses to tweet @TheoPaphitis every Sunday between 5pm and 7.30[, with the special #SBS hashtag somewhere in the tweet. Although this sounds as though it should be easy, it’s actually trickier than you’d think to remember to send a tweet at a certain time once a week, and on several occasions I’d actually tweeted too early and missed the slot, or left it too late, and ended up kicking myself on Monday. Anyway, last Sunday night I sent a Small Business Sunday tweet, but as I had an old friend coming round for dinner I turned my mobile off and didn’t look at my computer (I’ve learned my lesson now! Never turn off Twitter!). Anyway, to cut a long story short I woke up to lots of wonderful messages on my Twitter page from other people who’d seen his #SBS tweet and I am absolutely thrilled to have won and would like to thank Theo Paphitis for doing so much to support small businesses like mine and those of the five other winners. I’ve already seen some amazing results – doubling of visits to my home page and a five-fold increase in visits to my blog! So thanks again to Theo Paphitis and Small Business Sunday.
I’ve been using QR codes on and off for a while now – you can scan them to download apps to an Android phone, for example, and I’ve used them to do price searches in shops although it did not make me popular. I have also noticed artists doing interesting things with them: one artist at Tent London Digital turned a QR Code into a 3-D sculpture, for example. On a more mundane note, I get frustrated when I come out of a networking event with lots of business cards (too much information! I have to type it all in by hand!) and have often thought QR codes would make the whole exchanging contact information thing a lot easier.
Tada – I bring you PingTags.com. I came across this tip for creating a QR Code for your Linkedin profile from Chris Brogan’s website and have created my own using PingTags, which took about five minutes: scan the image above if you have a barcode scanner on your smartphone and see! I will be adding it to my business card so that people can scan in my information and contact me easily after meeting me at an event.
The excellent Mailchimp has also created a QR Code for e-newsletter signups. This is great if like me you run a website and have an e-newsletter created by Mailchimp. Scan this and it will take you straight to my e-newsletter sign up page for Mimimyne.com. I’ll be adding this to my blog and perhaps to my business card as well. It all helps, as more and more people have smart phones these days!
Perhaps I should get both of them engraved onto earrings…
Just a quick post to say thanks to all my newsletter subscribers, Facebook fans and Twitter followers who voted for me in the Virtual Business Awards – I was shortlisted along with many other fabulous companies but sadly didn’t get a prize this time. I really appreciated all your votes and will definitely enter again next year! Thanks again and I hope you had a wonderful Christmas holiday – and I’d like to wish you a Happy New Year as well!
I gave a short presentation on social media recently for the National Black Women’s Network as part of their eInnovate or Bust! series. It was a great venue (the Boho Bar in Lordship Lane) and a fantastically welcoming audience with a lot of questions about social media. This is the outline of my presentation which was based around my own business start-up story and some of the challenges I have overcome while running Mimimyne. Apologies if the display is a little off-true as I’ve had to resize the presentation, but you should get the general gist and there are some useful links included…
Add a Shop Tab
I have been doing a bit of maintenance on my Facebook Fan Page and came across this excellent add-on, Shoptab. It’s only useful if you have products to sell but it is fantastically convenient and simple to set up if you do. I have a self-hosted ecommerce website but having a shop on Facebook too is great in terms of visibility and I think fans are bound to be more engaged if they can shop and view products directly from Facebook rather than having to go to a different site. It costs $10 a month at the moment, which I think you’ll agree is a bargain! I had to hack around with my Google Merchant product feed in order to upload it to Shoptab, but the results are worth it and meant 200+ products were uploaded in an hour or two. If you don’t have the ability to export a Google product feed from your own ecommerce site, you can create one manually using a spreadsheet or just type the products into Shoptab, one by one.
Build a Custom Landing Page
Another useful tip from Mashable is to build a custom landing page which will be my next project on my own site.
Customise your Profile Page Image
You can also hack the profile page image on your Facebook Fan Page which I’ve done on another Page I admin, the Dappers Fan Page. It’s a bit fiddly and only recommended if you are familiar with image editing techniques.
Creating Custom Tabs on your Facebook Page (including Newsletter and Youtube tabs)
I’ve used Static FBML (which is essentially simplified HTML) to create custom tabs on my own Mimimyne Facebook Page, including a newsletter sign up tab with code from Mailchimp which will provide you with ready made code, and a customised Youtube Tab with embedded Youtube Videos (I learned how to do this from this blog).
Apps are constantly being created to do jobs like these but it really is worth investigating Static FBML if you want to have control over your Page and how it looks.
There is a great round up on customising Facebook Pages on Techcrunch which links to Static FBML as well as some of the apps that can help you do this if you don’t want to mess around with code.
Tips on essential apps for your Facebook Business Page
Finally, here are some great tips from Matt Silverman on apps that can improve your Business Facebook Fan Page! It’s amazing what we can do with these pages nowadays, even if you are irritated by certain tricks Facebook pulls on Page Admins such as suddenly changing the size of images allowed in Pages, they have given us the opportunity to make Business Pages very engaging and entertaining.
The Women on their Way Awards, for which I was nominated as one of the Best Online Businesses, was a great day out and very inspiring. I didn’t win the award, but had a very enjoyable day catching up with some of the fantastic people that I’ve chatted with on Twitter and met at other events. We listened to a talk from Caroline Marsh (from the Secret Millionaire series). From a difficult start in Africa after her family fell on hard times, she went on to work as an air hostess, move to the UK and then build up a million pound property portfolio. She is very active in her local area doing charity work as well, helping young people get a start in business. One thing I enjoyed about the Awards was how varied they were, taking in so many different areas of business and charitable work. Here is a photo of all the nominees and award winners together, from the day!
Bloggers have been in the news a bit recently due to controversy over whether they are open about when they are selling products, what they are promoting and so on. I have to say most of the blogs I read are very entertaining and well-written and if the writer would like to make some profits from their hard work, I for one say why not? The problem is only when people can not distinguish between promoting a product that you are selling and a review of a product (advertorial, in other words) or when you do not disclose that you have a commercial interest in writing about something.
I like to talk about events, products and issues that interest me. .
As I’ve had several organisations contact me recently to ask me to blog about them or their products, I think it is time to state my position here. I am happy to blog about non-profit or green causes or events provided I have the time. I will occasionally blog about other campaigns, products or services that I have found useful/entertaining/intriguing. If anyone asks me to review/visit/blog about something, I will a) guarantee to give my blog readers my honest opinion on that product/website/service b) disclose that I have been asked to review/visit/blog about that product/website/service.
Here are some (only a few) of the blogs I read, although ‘blog’ is a bit simplistic for some of them (more multimedia colossi):
The Rockmother She’s so funny!
Dulwich MumShe makes me laugh as well
The Green FamiliaBrenda is one of the best green bloggers
The Ginlady The Ginlady won an Evolved Blogger award recently for her Green, Independent News blog
Bambino GoodiesThe coolest kids products review site with design news etc
This was a interesting event, aimed at small businesses who were looking to use Web 2.0 (that’s Facebook, myspace and all the ways we use to connect with others – the cuddly web, if you like) to promote their products and services. A lot of it was aimed at Ebayers, which I’m not, except in a purely personal capacity when trying to get rid of unwanted bits of clutter. The best sessions, in my opinion, were by Dan Wilson on using Web 2.0 (I liked his comment that Facebook does not take up a lot of time and you can get away with only four to five hours a day) and Ivan Croxford on using BT Tradespace. I already have a presence on Tradespace but am going to add some products as well and try using it for sales. I also sat in on an email marketing talk but found it very specific to the company presenting (ie, use us and this will happen) rather than generally informative. The official website will have videos of the talks.