The real power of user generated content

Here is my deck from this years #searchleeds.
The talk centres around the power of UGC (user generated content) and inspiration you can take from integrating user generated content into your business.

Companies like Amazon and Airbnb heavily rely on UGC, not just for product descriptions but for feedback loops and helping to work our their priorities in their algorithms.
I also highlight how Tripadvisor went from a review engine to a “Booking engine” from it’s huge and trusted database of reviews and useful information.

I also provide insights into JustGiving and how important UGC was for the $4billion raised for good causes in 15 years.

Slides 38 to 41 offer free tips on inspiring you to introduce specific types of user generated content into your business.

Check out crowdfunding pages Bring Raheem Home and Roger Gower crowdfunding page

There are some great feedback from the event I received: 

Here is the video from slide 17 and why Red Bull and GoPro joined forces

All visibility indexes are from Sistrix, Wikipedia index, Quora visibilty

All gifs were from giphy

My Digest Articles

A friend of my Ed Vinicombe has launched his new start up The Digest and it’s a content great platform around inspiring content and content to make you question what you are doing and how to improve. I have written a number of articles for The Digest and here are my first round of articles for you to read.

Start your own venture
My top 10 tips if you are looking to develop your own venture or go out on your own ? 10 tips on starting your own venture

Here are my tips on free blogging platforms ? Free blogging and publishing platforms you and your business can choose from

Content Marketing
In typical marketing style here are my top 5 content marketing predictions My top 5 content marketing predictions and the trends you should leverage in 2016

Business advice articles
My personal favourite article The simple 21 questions you should ask to understand your audience(s)

The task every manager should do The manager breakdown task

You know I love podcasts but here are my top podcasts My secret advantage: podcasts

The list of business books you should read The business books that helped my career

The 6th Life Changing Technology Shift Presentation

A client was running a series of company wide talks in which they wanted to challenge the thought process of their staff and tell a number of stories or presentations around core topics. I was asked to present and here is my slightly amended presentation with a few notes:

In 2015 we live a very different life to 30, 20, 10 or even 5 years ago.

Life is shaped very differently to how it used to be:

  • We lived through the TV revolution and we are still in love with the TV and it’s power,
  • We thrived (or mostly) through the computer revolution,
  • The internet generation is in its own third gen and still a great opportunity source,
  • Through to the fourth tech shift; search and social which controls most of our answers and discover in everyday life,
  • To potentially biggest life changing shift the mobile – the mobile has become more than tech, its now worshipped and many cannot live without!
  • To what I predict to be the next big shift (the giveaway is in the URL – VR / virtual reality).

Here are is my amended deck, let me know if you agree, disagree or think something else might be the next big shift

What You Need To Know About Facebook’s Search Amendments

How Facebook Search Will Work
Facebook Search just grew up and switching on another wider variety of opportunities for brands and your friends, here are my thoughts.
  • It’s a personal search experience, it is geared towards encouraging debate, engagement and a play to keep users on the Facebook platform and steal a little more attention from Twitter, YouTube and reduce the number of searches are made on Google.
  • Facebook are going to return results in a “hierarchical list”
  • The search results will include friends posts
  • There are over 200 factors reported to be taken into consideration
  • Results are going to split into four layers:
    Top, Latest, People, and Photos. Expect video to be included next year.
  • Facebook are looking for this to encourage more public posts and IMHO will see a peak for first six months
  • Only (non friends) public posts will appear within search results, the private statuses or statuses only shared with selected friends will not appear (unless you are tagged into the update).
  • This is a completely personal experience for the 1.45 billion Facebook users, results will be completely different for every person
  • Pages will appear, depending on your affinity and the amount you engage with the page depends on how it will appear within search results
  • Historical posts will be available in search results, Facebook have suggested time is a core factor
  • This is definitely social search done right. News from friends, with most updated content appearing first – it’s the social search experience we would want. It is definitely the next phase on from existing Twitter search and Google personalised results experiences.
  • Search is location sensitive, location will obviously change but looking for specific events will bring up different results.
  • Facebook search is based on authority, the more authoritative to appear higher in the results, for the SEO’s it could be related to author rank but will operate different and Facebook’s understand this more than Google ever did.
  • Currently three million links are shared hourly (Brian Boland from Facebook) and is a lot of content to sort through constantly, this is why adding dedicated text (commentary) and a link will be important to users and Facebook. Dumping links and re-sharing posts will be harder to rank for Facebook.
  • Friend affinity is vital – as rightly pointed out by Stephen Kenwright on Twitter, the hardest battle for users (and for Facebook to work out) will be old friends, extra opinionated school friends and those who update far more than others.
    Brands will want to push URL shares and recommend some commentary, make your sharers be more relevant with their friends.
    Friends who want to be smart will update their public statuses with the information they want to appear for and that will get them the most amount of engagement
  • Mobile searches can be refreshed by pulling down, the likelihood is the results will be different upon refresh
  • Link / share relevancy and frequency will be vital for users.
  • This reminds me of Pinterest’s recent search tweak but taken a step further
  • I think this could be Facebook’s greatest engagement hack to date, even challenging unbundling messenger.
  • This is definitely the next phase of search and look forward to seeing how brands will leverage this


Facebook’s video for new Facebook Search

Some Impressive Facebook Facts
Facebook has over 1 billion active daily users
Facebook dominates both Android and iOS
Facebook have 2 trillion search to work through
There are 3 million links shared hourly
Facebook will roll out to English (US) users and across iOS, Android and desktop users

Read my recent articles on Twitter Polls and the must watch content marketing documentary

Twitter Polls Quick Overview


Link to tweet

  • Only works on web for me currently (not on iOS app)
    Update 28/10/2015 I now have polls on both iOS and desktop, update your apps.
  • There are now 4 options for your poll – choice 1 to 4 (you can add emojis in the answers)
  • Replies to original tweets notifies you, whereas votes do not (well thought out by Twitter product team)
  • You are now updated when you have answered a poll on iOS devices and the number of people who has answered the question
  • You currently have 20 character limit per choice of vote (think red or blue or emoji a or emoji b not long names)
  • You can reply to someone with a poll (this might be good to trial with product decisions, names or for companies who receive a lot of consumer tweets to control the replies they receive)
  • Retweeting a poll does work and amplifies well – the issue you might find is third parties are not great at displaying the polls currently (something to keep in mind)
  • As you can see polls do embed, this could be powerful for those companies who do not currently gain large engagement on their tweets but do have large traffic numbers.
  • You can promote polls via Twitter ads (be careful with this as polls only run for 24hours, you do not want to promote polls that have finished)
  • It will definitely increase engagement and has done since the roll out for my profiles
  • You are not given the results who voted, just the numbers (and %’s)
  • You cannot currently schedule polls through the web, app or third party tool, I have a feeling this will not be rolled out for some time
  • When you search Google for your brand or name, the options for the poll are not pulled across, this might confuse users that are not used to Twitter Polls. This however might increase the CTR on your tweets from Google SERP’s.
  • Is not currently working on tweetdeck and other third party twitter management tools / apps (many features don’t work across on tweetdeck)
  • Open ended questions appear to be working the best, I do not expect this to change in near future

Last update December 5th 2015.

The Story of Content: Rise of the New Marketing. The Content Marketing Documentary

If you are into marketing and want to understand content marketing, this documentary from The Content Marketing Institute is definitely for you and in my personal opinion it’s a must watch and share for you and your business.

It covers:

  • the history of marketing
  • the point that marketers took content to marketing
  • the development of non branded content
  • the evolution from blunt marketing to telling stories
  • the true impact of technology and the opportunities it has made for marketers
  • the power shift from marketing to many to marketing to your actual audience
  • content marketing ROI
  • the move to video and interactive content
  • how to put your customers first
  • the education you will need to cover to move your brand into a dedicated content marketing brand
  • what the future might hold

The documentary includes thoughts from content marketing thought leaders such as Julie Fleischer, Doug Kessler, Joe Pulizzi, Robert Rose, Ann Handley, Scott Stratten, Jay Baer and Mark Schaefer.

The Best Productivity Mobile Apps

Hire Info

There is nothing more satisfying than finding an app that saves you time, energy and works across multiple devices. As a iPhone and a mac user it’s often easier to work on an app than through the web version of a product. After being asked regularly which apps I use I thought I would put together my list of must have apps that will make your business and professional life easier and hopefully save you time (and money) moving forward.


  • Outlook is by the far the best email app on the market, not only is it super fast it handles numerous email accounts and from numerous providers including exchange, office 365, outlook/hotmail, gmail (including professional google mail), Yahoo mail, icloud and iMap. The Outlook app also has inbuilt calendar management and customisable swipe options that allows you to achieve, delete, snooze etc. Outlook also has seamless integrated file sharing; providers including OneDrive, Dropbox, box and Google Drive. The focus inbox is also a stand out feature and allows you to concentrate and manage the important emails.
    Links ? – Google PlayiOS – Chrome
  • Spark is my second favourite email app, its super easy to use, offers swipe management to control your inbox. Spark has inbuilt read notification and allows you to pin emails so when they are replied to you have an in-app notification of a reply, so you do not have to worry about missing an important response, you can also program so you can get notifications from VIP’s. The one simple feature which is underrated is the quick responses; you can reply with one button with a like, a thanks or a smile ?.
    Links ? –iOS
  • Inbox by Google is a good email app, obviously as a Google product it works well, has good email management options and very easy to use. Google have clearly thought through how it look and operates and I know most Googlers use it. Two features which stand out are the bundles which automatically puts together your purchases, finance, updates and forums (social) emails with cool previews of the attachments, it can be annoying but you do get used to it.
    Something you will end up doing is training inbox what emails are important to you (it takes time but I know a lot of people like that).
    Links ? –iOS – Google Play – Chrome

Read my full breakdown and review of the best email apps for iPhone

Instant Messengers and communication

  • Slack is my favourite way of communicating with my clients and colleagues. I have implemented it with two clients and it’s reduced hundreds of cc’ed emails and silly FYI emails. Slack allows open and transparent conversation in large groups and rooms. I personally prefer the mac app over the web version and the mobile app is one of the stand out apps on the iPhone. Slack’s search functionality, private chats and previews make it a must have product in any organisation and will reduce email stress. It is definitely the go to instant messenger / communication tool of today and the future.
    Links ? – Mac – iOS – Google Play – Chrome
  • Skype; what more do you need to say, great for international calls, reliable IM and very good for video calls and conferences (depending on your connections). The Mac version is highly customisable and slightly better IMHO than the windows version. The iPhone version does run your battery down very quickly but super useful and clearly Skype have thought about how opt in notifications should work. Essential app if you work internationally or have international clients.
    Links ? – Mac – iOS – Google Play
  • Whatsapp, Facebook’s 19billion dollar purchase is not one many people think is a business app but definitely is. Whatsapp has 900million MAU’s and in many countries is the default communication app. Whatsapp web is a stroke of genius and really handy if you have a professional network and can ask questions quickly to group chats. The iOS app is super simple and if you hate relying on SMS whatsapp is a great replacement (especially with conversation archiving and emailing conversations). Personally I would say it’s the best Western IM around. Also the call option is actually really good if you are in 4g or wifi zones.
    Links ? – WebiOSGoogle Play
  • Hangouts, Google talk / gchat whatever you call it yourself, Hangouts is a solid platform I cannot live without. Hangouts is super easy to use, often more reliable for video conferencing than Skype and other apps and integrates particularly well with google mail / gmail. It’s another app that will drain your battery however for an app that you can use anywhere and can quickly address problems and have a quick face to face meeting it is an important app. I know the android users love hangouts and it’s integration into the Chrome browser makes it even easier to use.
    Links ? – iOS – Google Play
  • Messenger; it might surprise a number of people for me to add Facebook’s messenger to the list, Facebook messenger in many countries is actually the preferred method of communication and in some parts of Asia actually is considered a typical business tool (think LinkedIn). Messenger is truly cross platform, it’s HD calling and video calls are great (depending on your 4g connection or how good your wifi is) and is good for quick and searchable conversations. It’s not for everyone and now you can have a messenger account that’s not connected to a Facebook profile it’s a great tool to use.
    Links ? – WebiOSGoogle Play


  • Sunrise is the best calendar (so much so Microsoft spent a lot of money on it) there is. I really like the ease of use and the number of integrations (icloud, google mail, office 365, Facebook, wunderlist, todolist, evernote, basecamp, trello, twitter to name a few) makes it more of an essential tasks / reminder tool.
    It pulls in the location of the meeting from google maps and breaks down your day in morning, afternoon and evening sections with cool icons highlighting what type of appointment you have. The “meet” feature is where you can outline your available times and share with colleagues and clients to accept and plan meetings.
    Links ? – MaciOSGoogle PlayChrome
  • Evernote is a great note taking app, I use it for a blend of tasks, notes and a personal wiki. The reason why evernote worked for me is how simple it is, how seamlessly it syncs across browser and app and tagging works better than most other apps. I really like the mac app over web app, the web clipper is another great app to compliment the main app. Give it a few days and you won’t need anymore notebooks or stick notes.
    Links ? – Mac iOSGoogle PlayChrome
  • Pushbullet is my favourite basic app, it allows you to send links between mac and phone, it’s great if you are looking at something on your phone and want to send to your mac and then share onwards. I find it great for when you are talking on IM on your phone and you push the link from mac to iPhone and have seamless chats rather than email links or open different apps and try to share etc.
    Links ? – MaciOSGoogle Play
  • Product Hunt, as a previous Head of Product I love tools (as you can see by this post) and products that come out, finding great products used to be difficult and often relied on the same people or sites to review products. Product Hunt if you do not know is is a website and app that surfaces great content, submitted by a great community and then voted up by the community. There are great notes and questions so you won’t have to download every tool on there.
    I have found many of these apps via Product Hunt and love what Ryan and co are doing. Definitely download if you are looking for the best apps or SaaS solutions out there.
    Links ? – iOS – Chrome
  • Pocket is my favourite read it later / save for later article to read when I have time or read offline while I commute. Pocket is super simple and concentrates on the text of the article. You can save directly from your browser (Chrome extension is great) and sync on your phone and read on the train, tube or toilet like a lot of people do. The read (it reads the article to you, great for lazy people like me) service on the iOS app is pretty cool.
    Links ? – iOSGoogle PlayChrome

Podcasts are an essential part of my development and whenever I take a walk, between meetings or travel I always have a podcast on, here are my list of most recommended must listen to podcasts.


  • Citymapper is Google maps with a personality, as living and working in London I often struggle to find my way around or work around the tube delays or strikes. Citymapper allows you to get from A to B in the quickest or best possible way, you can see walk times, bus and tube times and also integrates with trains also. It is integrated directly into online services so if your tube is delayed its updates and is often ahead of other apps.
    You can also order an Uber directly from the app, I find it easier and quicker to get a taxi rather than using the Uber app.  Citymapper recently added recommendations for where to get on the tube (what carriage sector) and are adding worldwide cities all the time. I always use Citymapper over Google Maps and is a utility over an app for me.
    Links ? – iOSGoogle Play
  • Google Maps: You know what Maps (offline mode is great) does so I’ll leave you with the app links anyways – Links ? – iOSGoogle Play
  • Uber is definitely the go to taxi app of choice for me. Ease of use, direct payments on your card and pricing are all reasons to download alone. With the number of international trips I make it reduces stress and gets you between airport, hotel, offices and off site meetings.
    Links ? – iOSGoogle Play
  • Surge is a great way to understand where there is surge pricing on Uber, often if you walk for a few minutes the surge is not on in that area, this app allows you to see where the nearest place to you is surge free allowing you to save money and burn a few more calories. I also use it to understand how busy an area is or if I should get an uber or is the tube the better route. Smart hey.
    Links ? – iOSGoogle Play


  • Dark Sky is iOS only currently, its £2.99 and has only ever been wrong once. My old boss recommended it to me and by his recommendation alone I happily paid and haven’t looked back. Dark Sky tells you when it might rain, what % chance it is to rain and how heavy. It’s very accurate on local temps, wind speed, how humid it is and the UV index, great for hayfever suffers too. The app is also has great UI and I would highly recommend spending the small amount of money on it (it’s less than the latte you drink).
  • BBC Weather was always my trusted weather app and is when looking at the forecast for destinations outside London it’s the app of choice. It’s super simple, beautiful looking and rarely wrong. As you would expect it’s free and definitely an upgrade than the pre-installed weather app on both OS’.
    Links ? – iOSGoogle Play


  • Feedly is doing a great job in keeping the RSS feed alive and has really helped me move away from content and social media fatigue. With some tweaks feedly instantly transforms content discovery and allows you to remove the noise and just read good content. Categorising sections of content is a great idea and something that helps me stay on top of the most important news. I love the mac and iOS apps and have struggled to use any other RSS driven apps. If you update to the fee paying model you can share your feeds and people can follow your most important content which is kinda cool, especially with over 1% of traffic (from all clients stats) coming via feedly.
    Links ? – MaciOSGoogle PlayChrome 

A bonus round…..File management and sharing

There are so many to choice from, I really like the following apps/solutions and well worth looking at for business or personal use:

  • For best security for your documents SpiderOak is one solution you should check out, does not offer as much free space but is super secure and mac app is great. It was Edward Snowden’s recommendation, take that as you like.
  • For ease of use and huge free space check out Copy just as easy as Dropbox & box and any other free / business hosting service. It also has an easier interface and categorising important sub folders etc. It’s owned by one of the large hard drive manufactures so you know they take cloud storage seriously.
  • An alternative with loads of free secure space and super cheap is Sync, I actually really like Sync and even a couple of clients have moved across too.
  • And lastly there is always Google Drive that many business use, the mac version is very easy and although unbundled their mobile apps its really useful if you want to quickly share directly to colleagues.

If you would prefer please go to see my collection on Product Hunt where I have added a few select social media apps and voted up other apps.

Let me know if you have any top apps I have not added.

The top email apps for iPhone

Here are my top recommendations for email apps for your iPhone.


Definitely worth a download, it can handle emails from: googlemail, outlook, exchange, gmail, Yahoo, iCloud and other IMAP emails. I use it for a couple of clients emails and far better than the native mail, it does everything you would want from a mail app and supports custom swipe gestures, allows calendar management (directly within the app rather than using another app) and file management and attachments from a series of cloud services (namely OneDrive, Dropbox, box and Google Drive), uploading files is seamless.
One feature which makes me love the app over others is the focused inbox which you can either educate or will filter emails for you, especially those emails you set up for daily notifications and rarely do anything with. Notifications are completely customisable and very easily changed. I definitely recommend this as your primary email app/mobile service.

Link: Outlook for iPhone email app 



I actually stumbled across Spark looking through the app store for something completely different.
Spark is great; allows customisation through gestures and badges. The small but underestimated instant replies with like, smiley face and thanks within an email (think quick responses or replying from small devices like the Apple Watch) is really well thought of and is a favourite of mine.
Spark splits out notifications and has a smart inbox which tells you what email is important and the others emails that are generic and not important. It is smart and learns from your activity, personally I prefer this from the inbox app from Google and whats better it supports Google, Exchange, Yahoo, iCloud and Outlook emails. Similar to outlook app its connected to cloud storage providers – Dropbox, Google Drive, Box, OneDrive. It offers read it later services like Readability, Instapaper and Pocket. Spark also supports note taking notes like Evernote and OneNote. If you are like me and want to split out email definitely download this and use alongside Outlook.

Good video explaining its features –

Spark Tip #5: Workflow of pins, archive and snooze from Readdle Inc. on Vimeo.

Link: Spark email app


Inbox by Google

When inbox first came out I spent a few weeks using it and testing every little feature, to be honest I have a love hate relationship with it, I like the layout, the feel and what Google have tried to do it make emails actionable but it just does not understand email the way normal and non Googlers really use email. I like like how you can manage emails, by swiping on each email and marking as done or snoozing emails. It’s great at previewing attachments at a glance and bundling emails; so if you buy a lot through Amazon or have trips its great at bundling together. For when you are looking for an email pinning emails works well as does the search (as you would expect from Google). Something to keep in mind is if you use Google religiously or rely on Google (and love its personalisation) this would be good for you and allowing Google to control your mailbox but personally it just is not as good as Outlook or Spark.

Link: Inbox by Google email app


Notable mention should go to mailbox, it was the first app to make email “actionable” but I never really got to personalise email enough to make mailbox work for me, the mailbox for mac is also a decent app and worth a go if you like the mailbox app for your iPhone.

Here is a good review by The Verge on Outlook app –


Pinterest Buy It Now Button What You Need To Know

Here are the points you need to know about buyable pins:

  • Buy it now are approved by Pinterest (manually)
  • Buy it now will appear in blue on the top right hand side
  • The Buy it now button will only work on iOS (working on both iPads and iPhones)
  • Buyable Pins will not appear and not on either Android or desktop (due to be released in the future)
  • It is US only – It does not work outside the US (and no mention on release in other countries to date)
  • You will be charged through Apple pay or your credit card and will be charged natively from retailer
  • Buyable pins will not cost retailers anything (we will have to wait and see if this changes)

Facebook Instant Articles

facebook instant articles

Facebook Instant Articles will be great for storytellers and brands wanting to capture and delight audiences instantly and on the platform their audiences uses the most. Articles directly readable from the newsfeed will encourage more engagements (think more about publisher KPI’s like reads and then shares) of your articles in the most organic way.

I really like how Facebook discuss experience and increasing the quality of experience through page speed, auto play of videos and ability to view and move your mobile device to see the image in different ways.

Facebook data will allow publishers to create truly interactive content for their audience and reduces the fear of both publishing on “rented ground” and not being able to measure success.

I can see many brands wanting to leverage this platform and wanting to experiment with quality content.


Things to know:

  • Facebook instant article is only available on iOS devices
  • The service is invite only for now
  • Large and Buzzfeed, BBC, The Guardian are on the first run (be interesting to see their results as have very large share numbers)
  • Facebook are offering shares across other social networks – not an expected move but smart move for Facebook
  • Apple will be happy with this move, Google will not (Apple want move to app, Google still need web)
  • If you are on iOS and want to see an article in the live check out – very quick, very engaging, visually great.