The second of my expert interviews comes from a guy I simply know as Seb, one of the co-founders of Vidahost.
First of Seb, please tell us a little bit about yourself and how Vidahost came about?
We now run some 150,000 sites for 50,000 customers around the world, and are growing at a very high rate. We account for a substantial number of migrations away from the big players in the industry, with those customers now coming to us for long-term reliability and support.
1. You guys are regarded as one of the best UK hosting companies around. What sets Vidahost apart from the competition in your opinion? (could you include how many sites are hosted, etc)
2.I’ve hosted Social Colleague with you now for a few months and in that time you’ve provided better support than any previous hosts – what’s the secret?
3.What are the products or services you are most proud of?
4.Social Colleague is now hosted on your cloud hosting package. For those looking for a hosting package, why should they consider cloud hosting?
1. It minimises the risk of server failure by reducing the need for any individual piece of hardware.
2. It’s scalable in terms of resources and also how many sites you have – if you have 10000 sites you can still manage them in one place.
3. It runs both Linux and Windows sites, as well as the standard Email, FTP, SSH, Databases and so on
4. You can auto-install software such as WordPress in under 20 seconds
5. The control panel is brilliant.
5.In terms of social media, you seem to have a decent handle on your Facebook and Twitter accounts – from the point of view of a hosting company. Do you have any goals or objectives which you aim for?
Our office dog, Xerxes, is obviously a big draw. We can post a picture of £50k worth of brand new servers and it will get 2 likes on Facebook, but if we post a picture of Xerxes playing with the empty server box it gets 50!
6.Does Vidahost have a dedicated staff member who is responsible for social media marketing?
7.I noticed you have a Google+ page, however it’s not been updated since November of last year. Is this a conscious decision?
8.You have a forum at Vidahost. Is this part of your long term social media strategy and do you foresee a time when the forum becomes a go-to-place for web masters – or are you content to simply provide support for your customers?
We started the forum before Facebook pages became popular. I definitely think the way we’ll go with it is to integrate it more closely with our Facebook page and Twitter. Currently certain forum posts update Twitter and Facebook, which is a useful way to send out important information. The forum also lets our customers meet each other which we hope is useful for them, especially for website reviews and tips.
9.Are there any other social media channels or social networks you utilize at Vidahost, or plan to in the future?
10.Finally, what hosting advice would you give to web masters who are starting out with a small ecommerce website for the first time?
Secondly, pick a technology or CMS which has a good community where you can find support, updates and new features. If you develop your own software, make sure you have some clear boundaries and consider bringing your site online sooner rather than later – no website is ever 100% finished.
We omitted to build in a blog/news section which was probably an oversight, but we’re hoping our new employee will help us resolve that. New content allows your visitors to see the site is still relevant, rather than something which was developed years ago and doesn’t receive any attention. If a visitor sees effort put into a website, it shows the company values its online presence and means they’re likely to be active and responsive with any queries.
Including something which involves/engages visitors is also a very good idea – we launched our new site with a competition driven by Facebook/Twitter which got people talking about us more, increasing our visitors and our conversion rate.
Personally I like following companies on Facebook to learn about them and what they’re doing, and if there’s a chance to win an iPad or a fluffy toy, I’m sold!
A massive thank you to the guys at Vidahost for their continued excellent support, and to Seb and Dom in particular for agreeing to this interview. I’ve hosted many websites on different hosts and whilst I don’t think any company can be perfect, they are certainly the most diligent. I wish them all the best in their continued growth.
If you have any comments about any of the answers, feel free to drop a comment below. I’d love to hear your thoughts. Meanwhile, if you like how they operate and fancy a discount pop over to them at www.vidahost.com and use our discount code SOCIALCOLLAGUE10 for a 10% discount of any order.