Shhh! The walls have ears.

2017 is shaping up to be the year of the digital assistant.

Devices featuring voice recognition digital assistants took CES by storm this year. Intelligent, voice activated digital assistants abound. Amazon has Alexa, Microsoft has Cortana, Apple has Siri and Google has… well, Google.

Amazon’s Alexa stole the show as it seems to have gained first mover advantage by not only featuring successfully in the popular Amazon Echo device, but also being the voice recognition system of choice for other companies producing everything from media streaming to fridges.

I think people are just waking up to the possibilities for – and dangers of – this technology.

We were amused by the story of a 6 year old girl using Alexa in her parent’s Amazon Echo to order herself a dolls house. When the news was reported on local TV in San Diego, the words spoken by the newscaster triggered other Amazon Echoes within earshot of tuned-in TVs to perk up and attempt to do the same. Ooops.

The trouble is – that’s how easy it can be to voice activate these digital assistants. They hear their trigger phrase (or think they hear it) and off they go. I’ve often seen my Google phone activate when it thinks it hears me talking about the Google Assistant (normally using the words, “OK Google” as part of a wider conversation on the topic).

"People are just waking up to the possibilities for – and dangers of – this technology."

Should we be concerned about this?

Maybe. You may or may not know that Google already records and retains all your Google activity. This includes keeping an audio transcript of everything you say whenever you activate Google’s digital assistant. Alexa does the same thing. You can review and delete these messages, but they are there.

You can see your Google audio transcripts by visiting and filtering the content to “Voice & Audio”.

When we tried this, we found that many snippets of conversations had been captured and could be replayed at the touch of a button. This included personal or work related conversations that could have included sensitive material. Try it yourself, it’s a little unnerving.

We’re not discussing anything nefarious here – but why does this make me uneasy? The thing is, these tech firms say they need to capture and retain this content to help fine tune the accuracy of their digital assistants. Maybe…but still.

On that note, whilst Alexa is the star of this year’s CES event, newly arriving Google Home (not yet available in the UK) may yet win the race. The search giant may be a late comer to the personal assistant device party but it’s own Google Assistant should, on paper, have access to a wider range of information than Amazon.

If only it had a more personal name than “Google”. My bet is that it will sooner than we think.

Digital businesses boom in London

London is open.

Facebook, Google and Apple have announced major expansions in London, proving the capital is open to the world’s biggest brands and is the leading city for trade and investment.

Facebook announced they will be doubling their presence in the UK by opening new headquarters in London’s Fitzrovia. The new hub will open in 2017, creating 500 additional jobs including engineers, marketers, project managers and sales staff.

Google, who already has a London HQ, is moving 2,500 staff into brand new digs in King’s Cross. The new 371,000 sq ft building consists of 11 floors and even includes a 90m running track for employees to let off some steam. Rumour has it the tech giant has snapped up a number of nearby properties, suggesting further developments in the future.

Rumour has it Google has snapped up nearby properties for future developments.

Earlier in the year Apple revealed that they will be making Battersea Power Station their new headquarters, spending an eye-watering £9 billion on the project. Apple will be moving 1,400 staff from multiple sites around the capital into their new campus, expected to be open in 2021. Apple will occupy six floors (500,000 sq ft) of the Grade II listed former electricity generator.

London’s position as a global technology hub isn’t showing any signs of slowing down anytime soon.

Up your game with these 9 Instagram hacks

It's tough in the world of Instagram.

With over 500 million active monthly users, it can be difficult to find and interact with your ideal audience. Are you struggling to create content that people like, or failing to gain engagement and followers? Get the most out of Instagram with these nine hacks.

1. Hashtags

Did you know the most popular Instagram hashtag is #love? A sure-fire way of getting more likes, followers and comments is by using hashtags. Use appropriate (repeat: appropriate) hashtags on your posts and you’ll find your engagement rates sky rocket. You’re allowed to use up to 30 tags per post, excluding comments, which means you can comment on your own photos with extra hashtags to reach more people. Do some research about what your competitors are tagging and, if you can think of a use for it, create your own hashtag.

2. Lighting

Instagram is all about photos, and good photos need great lighting. A well-lit, naturally bright photo will always get more likes than a dark photo. It’s a no-brainer. Try to take your photos in a light room (or outdoors), but stay away from harsh sunlight.

3. Angle

Know your flat lays to your FWIS’s. Products, food, clothes and more can benefit from flat lays. Essentially this is taking a birds-eye view photo of your subject laid flat on a surface. Check out @flatlays Instagram account for inspiration. FWIS (From Where I Stand) is another popular Instagram angle, which creates a sense of viewing life through someone else’s eyes. Just make sure you have cool shoes on. Check out @fromwhereistand.

4. Filter

Instagram’s own filters are sufficient for some, but not us. We love Ludwig, Juno and Crema, but sometimes it’s just not enough. Use your phone’s inbuilt photo editing software or our favourite app, VSCO, for more editing options. VSCO has hundreds of free filters to choose from and, better yet, you can upload a VSCO edited image to Instagram and continue to edit in-app. Your editing options are endless, just don’t go OTT. Once you’ve found your favourite filter style, try to stick to it.

Know your flat lays to your FWIS’s.

5. Captions

Keep them short, sweet, informative. Think of it this way: if you’re posting a photo of your dinner, we already know quite a lot about your meal. You might want to tell us what it is, if it was nice, or how to make it. Instagram users scroll through photos quickly, so you don’t have much time to grab their attention. Chuck in an emoji if you’re feeling fancy.

6. Timing

When’s the best time to post on Instagram? Good question. Start with your audience demographic. How old are they? If they’re of working age, posting during working hours should be avoided. Where do they live? Don’t forget about time differences. If your audience is in the UK and USA, posting in the evening (UK time) is a good place to start. When is your audience online? At school, whilst commuting, whilst the kids are at school, in the evening, etc. Think about your audience, combine these answers and you’ll find your perfect time to post on Instagram.

7. Links

Instagram does not like links. No one will copy a link and paste it into their phone’s browser, so don’t bother pasting a link into the caption of your photo. The only way around this is by changing the clickable link in your Instagram bio. If you’re releasing a new product, plugging a blog post, or referring to a recipe, pop the link in the URL section of your bio. Change this link before you post or immediately afterwards – IGers are fast movers.

8. Take advantage of Instagram’s apps

Instagram is not a one-app band. In fact there are three official sub-Instagram apps to enhance your Instagram experience. Boomerang adds fun to your stream by creating short, snappy videos that play on a loop (a bit like Vine, but shorter). Layout answers all your photo mosaic prayers, giving users a number of – you guessed it – layouts to input multiple photos. Hyperlapse creates stabilised time lapse videos that allows you to edit the speed of the video.

9. Engagement

Believe it or not, Instagram isn’t just about cool photos. There are real people behind Instagram accounts, and they like to talk. If someone comments on your post, don’t ignore it. Respond to get the conversation flowing. In the same breath, spend time commenting on other people’s posts, too. You’ll find that this helps to get you noticed as an active and engaging user, which is exactly the kind of user people want to follow. Ka-ching.


That’s it. Whilst nothing happens overnight, if you abide by these nine hacks, you’ll no doubt propel yourself (or your company) through the harsh digital world that is Instagram. Good luck!

Business cards, do we still need them?

A resounding Yes!

OK, we live in a digital networking age where everyone can be found online somewhere – a corporate website, a social media channel, a PR piece, Blog post, whatever. But no matter how digitally advanced we are your business card often remains a potential customer’s first contact with you and your company.

The old saying still stands: you never get a second chance to make a first impression. A business card connects with a new prospect on a personal level, encourages them to find out more about you and what you do. A well-designed, simple, impactful business card does this. Here are some of our most practical tips on creating a distinctive and professional card.


1. Logo and tagline

You may think it’s a ‘no-brainer’ but I can’t tell you how many business cards we’ve come across with either no logo at all or, possibly even worse, a really ill-conceived or blurry or smudgy logo.

And what, precisely, is the purpose of knowing your company is XYZ Solutions if you don’t let me know what solutions you could bring me? Think about a four- to five-word company descriptor, that is clear and precise, and hey presto, you’ve got your tagline.

Your logo and tagline are extensions of your brand, and your business card needs to convey your business to your audience in a powerful and memorable way. Your prospects should be able to identify your brand and instantly recognize it wherever they see it in the future – on your website, your portfolio, your email signature, or your premises.


2. Name and job title

Seems obvious, doesn’t it? It’s likely that business cards have the contact’s name on it. But if they do have a job title, then that doesn’t necessarily tell you what role they perform in the organisation.

Let’s start with the name. My name is Andrew, and it’s always Andrew. It’s never Andy. So many times I’ve been given a card from an Andrew / Katherine / Stephen and I’m immediately told that they go by the name Andy / Kate / Steve. If that’s the case, and you want to make a personal connection with the prospective new customer then put the name you want to be known by on the card. But let’s just stick to real names and avoid at all costs nicknames or buddy names.

When I see a job title on a card I want to know what that person actually does. Quite how much help is it (besides finding out how high they sit in the company’s organogram) to find out this person is a Managing Director or Partner or Director? By the time I’m back at the office I’m not sure what the person’s job was or why I should call them. So, Jane Jones, Partner, ABC Financial doesn’t tell me much. But Jane Jones, Corporate tax expert and Partner, ABC Financial does.


3. Contact Information

OK, we’ve come this far. You’ve met someone interesting. You’ve impressed them with your brand, and it’s clear to them what you do and how you can help them. As they are passed from hand to hand, business cards create a personal connection between you and your contact. Now you need them to get in touch following this meeting.

The contact information is the substance of the business card. You need to make it as easy as possible for people to contact you. But which of all your contact details should you include? The key here is that you want this person to contact YOU. You want to make it easy for them. So it would be counter-productive to send them through a labyrinth of gatekeepers and digital dead-ends. Let them have your direct contact details.

Email addresses such as info@ or office@ are generic and impersonal and frustrating, as are switchboard telephone numbers or voicemail hell.

Lots of business cards these days don’t include a physical address on their business cards. Leave this out if you’re struggling for space. But include it if your business model is local, or related to a geographical area. Often, prospective customers may specifically want to do business with a local firm.

Make sure the card doesn’t look cluttered – space is good! Don’t be tempted to overstuff it with detail as this will not have a positive impact.

A good business card is an extension of your brand, and needs to be memorable and impactful, appealing to all the senses.

4. Social media profiles

You should always include your social media profiles on your business card, as they have now become indispensable if you want to connect and engage with your target market. But you don’t have to use all of them. Your social media profile is important as, with a lot of your potential target audience, if you’re not on social media then you don’t have a public profile.

But don’t overwhelm your audience. Remember what we said above about being clear and easy, and that space is good? You don’t need to list all your social media accounts on your business card. Think strategically about your accounts and only list the few channels where contacts can get an overall impression of your business and the ones you’re most active in.

If your business has several social media accounts then a good tip is to ensure that all the handles on your multiple channels are the same, for example @abcfinancial You could then simply display on your card: social @abcfinancial People these days are knowledgeable enough to know to search the various channels using your handle.


5. Use the back of the card

Always use the back of the business card! This is free advertising space. You’ve managed to get your card in you contact’s hand and one of the first things they’ll do is flip it over. I always do, but maybe that’s because I’m a marketer.

This space is free space to highlight your branding or messaging. Whatever you do, use it wisely and make it memorable. You can use your logo and brand, photos, brand statements, a short company descriptor – anything memorable.


6. Production values

Without naming names, we recently designed a fabulous business card for one of our clients which ticked all the boxes above. When it came to printing the cards, some bright spark within the operation thought they would earn brownie points with the boss by sourcing a much cheaper print quote than we supplied. And the boss went with this cheaper quote. Although the business cards were beautifully and effectively designed, when printed they looked exactly what they were – cheap and nasty and, frankly, an embarrassment to the company.

You’ve come all this way, so don’t fall at the last hurdle. Once your design and content are spot on, push the boat out and produce quality cards that have the required, positive impact with your new contact. Engaging more than one sense at a time – in this case, touch and feel – improves recall, so people will be more likely to remember your business, in a positive way, if you have high production values.

Thicker cards feel more expensive and they make your business seem more professional. You should also consider having a good finish, something like a matt or gloss laminate. There are a wide range of finishes available, so speak to your printer (or a good agency) and do the right thing.


A parting word: A good business card is an extension of your brand, and needs to be memorable and impactful, appealing to all the senses. It should convey, clearly and concisely, the right information about who you are, what you do, and the easiest ways possible of contacting you.

Facebook launches Workplace

Workplace by Facebook is a new way to communicate with your colleagues.

When was the last time you communicated with your friends by email? Ages ago, we bet. Facebook Messenger, WhatsApp, iMessage and FaceTime provide us with a simple way to talk and share images and videos with our friends and family. Workplace by Facebook combines all of these features but is designed for communicating with our colleagues. Instead of using Facebook before and after work, Facebook wants us to use the platform during working hours too.

Here’s how it works: Workplace by Facebook has the same look, feel and features as Facebook. Colleagues can create groups (e.g. “Advertising” or “A/W 2016 Ideas”), invite other colleagues and use the platform to brainstorm, share photos, arrange and hold meetings online, and much more. Think of it as a Facebook page just for your office.

Importantly, and quite rightly so, your personal Facebook and Workplace Facebook pages are completely separate. No more worrying that your latest drunken escapade will be on show to your bosses.

Workplace could replace all emails within your company.

Admittedly, similar services have been around for years. The difference is everyone is familiar with Facebook, making Workplace much easier to navigate and for newbies to hop on the bandwagon seamlessly. It involves very little training, meaning fewer costs for businesses.

We now have an excuse to spend all day on Facebook.

What about security? You’re probably hesitant to discuss business critical, highly sensitive information on a social network, right? The good news is that Facebook is serious about security. Companies control all of their data, meaning you can modify, delete or export your data at any time. You can read more about Workplace by Facebook’s security here.

We expect companies with a large workforce will benefit the most from Workplace. It seems like a great place to collectively brainstorm and communicate, which can be tricky and confusing when you have to factor in 50 members of a team via email.

If you’re still a bit confused about how Workplace by Facebook works, watch this video.

PDF email newsletters don't work – here’s why

Create a PDF, attach it to an email, and send it to your entire database. Easy, right? Right. Effective, right? Wrong.

Email marketing is a such a powerful tool, yet so many businesses aren't using it to their advantage.

By sending a PDF attachment to your contacts, you're bypassing the huge potential effective email marketing has to offer. In fact, if you're not careful, you may damage client relationships - not to mention your emails will probably end up in people's junk or spam inboxes.

Here's 5 reasons why PDF email newsletters aren't effective:


1. Spam issues

Using an email server such as Outlook? You could be in for a shock. Every time a reader marks one of your PDF email newsletters as spam, you lose credibility with ISPs (Internet Service Providers). If this happens too frequently, an ISP may well block emails from your domain name, which means your customers won't receive anything from you. What's worse is you won't know a thing until error messages take over your inbox.

2. Corrupted files

Annoyingly, some email servers modify your email as it passes through their system. Whilst not your fault, this can result in a corrupted PDF file, meaning you've just sent your database a PDF that no one can read.

3. Blocked attachments

Your PDF email may make it past an email server, but you're not out of the woods yet. Spam filters in all major email hosting such as Gmail, Hotmail, Yahoo! and Outlook may well block your attachment (the PDF) entirely. Attachment-based email viruses are growing rapidly, so to the likes of Gmail, any attachment is a potential security threat.

4. Missing forwards

Your customers may love the content within your PDF, but what happens when they want to share your email? This is a great and invaluable way to spread the word, but PDF attachments have a tendency to go missing once an email is forwarded.

5. Large databases VS PDFs

You've probably spent time and possibly money creating a database of your customers, clients and potential leads. The thing is, sending out a PDF attachment to hundreds, or even thousands, of emails in one go is a no-no. It's a sure-fire way of telling email servers that you're sending spam, plus, it's likely that the program you use to store your database doesn't get on with email attachments.


OK, maybe PDF email newsletters are a bad idea. So now what do I do?

Simple! HTML email newsletters.

These may sound scary, but there are programs that do all the coding behind the scenes, so you don't have to. By sending email newsletters through these programs, which are secure and email server-friendly, you free yourself from spam issues and are able to track the activity of your email campaign.

It's also a lot easier to manage your database in these programs, most of which automatically remove dud emails.

We use multiple programs and software to create and send email newsletters, but our favourites are MailChimp and Infusionsoft. We are able to design branded email templates to match our clients' business, arrange content and images in a stylish, functional way, and can easily manage multiple databases at a time.

We’re here to help if you need it.

7 Social media marketing fails guaranteed to make you laugh (or cry)

Social media has many benefits for businesses big and small, but sometimes companies get it so wrong. Here are our top 7 social media marketing fails.


1. #SusanAlbumParty

A classic hashtag gone horribly wrong.

Susan Boyle, Britain’s Got Talent 2009 contestant (was it really that long ago?) innocently released an album and was holding an online launch party.

Unfortunately her social media marketing team seemingly overlooked the hashtag, which, when Twitter users typed without the capital letters, spelled Su’s Anal Bum Party. Got anything to tell us, Su?

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2. Gourmet Burger Kitchen

Here’s a lesson in how to alienate a large group of people (in this case, 4 million vegetarians and vegans) – stick loads of posters up around London and all over social media about how GREAT meat is and how vegetarians and vegans are missing out.

Way to p*ss off 11% of the UK population, GBK!

social media marketing fails social media marketing failssocial media marketing fails


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3. Robert Dyas Christmas Advert

Good social media marketing campaigns usually leave customers with a feeling, wanting to take action, or start a conversation. But this? Nope. We STILL don’t know how to react.

Robert Dyas released this advert on Facebook as a present for us all at Christmas 2015. Apparently it’s a parody of American retailer Red House Furniture's commercial.

There's no such thing as bad publicity, right...?


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4. Boaty McBoatface

Us Brits are great, aren’t we? When faced with the task of naming a brand new, state-of-the-art, multi-million pound investment polar research ship via online poll, which do we choose? Boaty McBoatface.

The name gained tens of thousands of votes, pushing it to the number one spot in the poll, and creating a massive wave of excitement on Twitter.

I guess the lesson of this marketing fail is… Don’t trust the Internet to name a boat?

NB: T&Cs stated that the Chief Exec got final say, who clearly didn’t think Boaty McBoatface was a good enough name (what?!). So they picked “RSS David Attenborough” – a worthy alternative, we say. But don't worry, Boaty McBoatface lives on via Twitter.


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5. #AskSeaWorld

Oh dear. Who’s coming up with these awful ideas?

If you're not in the picture, SeaWorld has had a MAJOR backlash ever since the documentary, Blackfish, exposed the lives of the captured killer whales in their care.

In attempt to rehabilitate their image, they came up with the hashtag #AskSeaWorld to encourage Twitter users to ask questions about their park. Cringe.


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6. Microsoft's AI Twitter Bot

Science is GREAT, but when Microsoft combined science with Twitter, things went a bit wrong. And by a bit, we mean a lot. Car crash, if you will.

Microsoft launched an AI Twitter account, which is basically a robot account that learns what to say via its users through conversation.

Unfortunately for Microsoft, Tay (the AI) turned into a right knob, spewing racist tweets to the world. Safe to say Microsoft swiftly deleted these tweets and put the project on pause. See you later, Tay.

social media marketing fails social media marketing fails social media marketing fails

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7. South West Trains #SWT20

This is the icing on the marketing fails cake. South West Trains celebrated their 20th anniversary by asking commuters to share their favourite memories with the hashtag #SWT20.

They were asking for it really, weren’t they? Here are our favourite responses.

Congratulations! It all happened at The Lindo Wing...

The Lindo WingExciting times this Bank Holiday weekend as The Duchess of Cambridge gave birth in London's Lindo Wing to her second child, a daughter, Princess Charlotte.

Exciting times too here at Terra Ferma Media towers because we developed and built the website for Imperial Private Healthcare that includes the official Lindo Wing pages and we waited in anticipation to see how website traffic soared over the weekend on announcement of the news. And soar it did - all safely and securely managed by our dedicated WordPress hosting solution.

You can see the website we developed for The Lindo Wing here:

LinkedIn - Are You In The Business Loop?

Did you know that LinkedIn has over 277 million members worldwide? There's definitely no denying that LinkedIn is the world's largest B2B professional network, but are you part of it?

LinkedIn is all about establishing connections. When you connect with other professionals in your field, you're gaining additional knowledge and valuable insight. Networking is one of the most important skills that you could learn in order to make your business a success story. In other words, your connections on LinkedIn can help grow your business or accelerate your career.

If you're already a member of LinkedIn, are you using it to your best advantage by maximising its value? Or, if you're a newbie to the social media channel, how can you make the most of LinkedIn to benefit you and your company?

There are many ways you and your business can benefit from using LinkedIn. It's imperative to know how to create effective personal profiles, company pages and showcase pages, develop your LinkedIn network and promote your business through LinkedIn to maximise your company's success.

We understand that it can be tricky to navigate yourself around a huge business network that you're not yet familiar with. If you've fallen out of love with LinkedIn and need some friendly encouragement to get your business back on track with the social network, a LinkedIn workshop could answer all your niggles.

We like to think that we're social media experts and all-round marketing geniuses here at Terra Ferma Media. We therefore decided to hold a one-off LinkedIn workshop in Wimbledon on Wednesday 10th December, where you'll be encouraged to ask any LinkedIn-related questions and will learn a great deal about the benefits of LinkedIn for your business.

For further information about our LinkedIn workshop and to purchase tickets, please click here.

You're not still using Internet Explorer are you?


Very funny. Very true.


Latest stats show that Google Chrome continues to make huge inroads into the once seemingly unassailable lead that Microsoft's Internet Explorer had in the world's web browser market share.

And not before time we say! By specialising in building WordPress websites, we run tests on all types of web browser to ensure that everything we create works well however you look at it browser-wise. The one browser that is slowest and gives us the most compatibility issues - you've guessed it - good old Internet Explorer, bless 'im.

Now, we're not saying this is necessarily Microsoft's fault, but it's funny that all the other browsers seem to be able to cope with the demands put on them by WordPress.

Here at Terra Ferma Towers, our browser of choice is Google Chrome (we're fully paid up members of the Android Freedom Fighters Army anyway). If you haven't made the switch yet, you really should.

Just Google it and you're away...