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Read all about it. Has Twitter become a 21st century newspaper?

July 09, 2014 by Guest Blogger

Twitter{{}}With over 255 million monthly active users sending an average of 500 million tweets a day, it’s no wonder Twitter is the first place many people turn to receive up to date news.

There are over 2.1 billion searches on the site everyday — which means it’s hot on the heels of Google and YouTube. However, unlike the other search engines, Twitter allows any individual to post news that will be immediately positioned in the public eye.

Twitter is often called the “information network” to distinguish it from other traditional social networking sites. And according to Twitter CEO, Dick Costolo, the new Twitter Search site “is complementary to traditional forms like television, because it adds the kind of real-time discussion we associate with the town square”. In other words, Twitter wants to become the ultimate breaking news platform.

Breaking news

It is not just Twitter that can see these benefits — journalists have been using Twitter for years to find breaking news. Now, they are turning to the site to post the news before they have even written the article. Twitter has heightened the competition between media sources to be the first ones to report news.

Twitter allows users to personalise the type of news they receive. By following certain accounts, users can pick and choose what they see in their newsfeed. We’ve all opened a newspaper and had to flick through to find the articles that really interest us. The Twitter List is great for collating news, allowing users to separate the accounts they follow into categories such as sports news or celebrities.

The value of hashtag

In addition to Lists, the almighty hashtag has allowed us to group together tweets from a specific subject, so we can view millions of first hand accounts and traditional news reports on just about any subject. The hashtag allows us to see and share everyone’s opinions. 

Not only can you filter the news you receive but you can also receive it from a variety of sources. By following multiple Twitter accounts you can get a less biased take on a breaking news story.

Citizen journalism

Perhaps the greatest feature that Twitter brings to news reporting is citizen journalism. These 140 characters have given everyone a voice, allowing first hand accounts to be posted as well as traditional news reports. 

The problem with Twitter as a newspaper, however, is that it is a huge rumour mill. Not everything that is tweeted is true. In order to find great nuggets of news on the platform we have to sift through thousands of false accounts and spam.

But can the same not be said for traditional media? As confidence in newspapers wavers, are people increasingly turning to social media for the real first hand accounts from the average Joe?

In an age where the media is grappling for the best headlines and as confidence in newspapers beings to falter, will Twitter becomes the ultimate 21st Century newspaper?

Posted in Internet marketing | Tagged Twitter, news | 0 comments

How to build a brand with words

June 23, 2014 by Guest Blogger

Copywriting{{}}Most of us are pretty clear about the importance of design when brand building, but we are often less sure about which words to choose to bring our brands to life.

But every time you put pen to paper you either engage or disengage your customers. Words matter and brands that tell their stories as well as showing them win hands down. Successful brands like Apple and Volkswagen match the words to the visuals to create a strong voice.

Content marketing and social media

Twitter, instant messaging, texts, online chat — they’re all proof of the power of words. How many times have we heard about people forming long distance relationships online, with only words at their disposal?

And think of how much information we find on the web before purchasing just about anything nowadays. Reviews, descriptions, listings and websites all contribute to our decisions to buy.

So how do you build a brand with words?

  • One way to establish the right tone of voice it to think of your brand as a person — what sort of conversations are they having?
  • Capture your audience’s attention immediately — you have about three seconds for online content and not much longer for offline, so assess your content as if it’s the first time you’ve seen it.
  • Don’t overcomplicate your message — differentiate between things you find interesting and your genuine USPs that will convince customers to buy.
  • Focus on benefits not features. Features have their place but nobody was ever driven to buy a widget because it was only 1cm wide. They were driven to buy it because its slim width is a key advantage.
  • Edit, edit and edit. Revisit and edit again — get the picture? There will be times when your message is muffled by excess wordage. So lose the waffle. Less is more.

Finally, assess your writing capabilities honestly and if writing isn’t your thing, get help. You can keep costs down by doing as much groundwork as possible, putting all the content together in one document. Most copywriters charge by the hour.

Sara Ruber is the director of creative agency Become.

The content conundrum infographic

June 19, 2014 by Guest Blogger


Infographic created by JBH Marketing. Sources - Content Marketing Institute.

The SME guide to social customer service

June 12, 2014 by Marc Duke

The SME guide to social customer service/ Unlike red stamp with thumb down{{}}I recently went to the Social Customer Service Summit run by Our Social Times. The event was attended by major brands and technology providers in the social customer service space and looked at all aspects of social customer service in relation to larger organisations.

But if you are a small business or an entrepreneur is this relevant to you?

Let’s assume you have a social media strategy in place. No doubt you have read plenty of hints and tips about social media etiquette; how Facebook and Twitter differ from LinkedIn; how Pinterest, Instagram and Vine will transform your business; and you are up to speed with what you need put on YouTube.

But you may still be wondering if social customer service really is relevant to you and your business. Here are some facts to consider:

  • Radio 4 recently devoted 30 minutes discussing the issue of complaining on Twitter;
  • 53% of people who engage with a brand on Twitter expect a response within one hour or less (Social Media Today);
  • By 2020, 90% of customer service will be done via social media (Gartner);
  • 82% of customers stop doing business with a brand after bad service (Harris Interactive).

So what needs to be done to make social customer service in your business a reality?

Well, it depends on who your customers are and how they behave. As a small business, the chances are you know exactly who they are, whether they are active on Twitter, Facebook and LinkedIn and you also know how they like to interact with you. Some will prefer email, others will prefer to use the phone or they may — lucky them — get the chance to talk to you face-to-face.

Controlling the customer experience

As a small business you can control exactly what sort of customer experience your employees give your customers, and the fact that you treat your customers in such a personalised way is something they value as much as you.

The challenge comes when your business starts to grow. At present you probably use Twitter and Facebook to get the message out and hope that people hear what you have to say. The question of how to deal with customers who complain on Facebook or Twitter probably isn’t front of mind at the moment.

But as your business grows it has to be.

So think ahead to avoid disappointment and consider the following:

  • People. Make sure your employees know your code of conduct on Twitter, Facebook and other social media as soon as they join. You might have to provide training before letting people loose online as you would on the phones or when responding to email.
  • Process. Make sure you have a series of steps in place to deal with a complaint logged on Facebook or Twitter. Don’t ignore it — a person with 3000 Twitter followers who posts something negative equals 3000 complaints.
  • Place. Social media is a public domain. Any good business owner that has a disgruntled customer in their shop will look to deal with the situation in a private and discreet manner. The rules are exactly the same online.
  • Personality. Ultimately, social is an amazing platform that lets you and your business show its personality to the world. Don’t go all corporate — people are expressing their views and feelings, so respond in kind.
  • Plan. Try to plan for a crisis. As the saying goes, we don’t plan to fail but we will if we fail to plan.

Marc Duke is a marketing consultant.

What to do once your content goes live

June 09, 2014 by Guest Blogger

What to do once your content goes live/ content word{{}}Finding your content on the internet is almost as difficult as looking for a specific star in the Milky Way. It would take you over 340 years to peruse the 2.15 billion actively indexed web pages out there — even if you just spent five seconds on each one.

In short, people aren’t going to simply stumble upon your content. Even though you’ve created an interesting, relevant, high-quality article, you’re still going to have to do some legwork to make the most of it.

Continuing to market and track your content helps deliver reach, targeted delivery and increased credibility. Here are some free ways to increase your content’s exposure after publication.

Free resources to promote your content

If you’re on a budget, there are still lots of ways to get your content in front of relevant audiences — you just need to tap into your networks.

1. LinkedIn Groups

Using your article as a resource in LinkedIn Groups can be effective for sharing your expertise without seeming too promotional. Find like-minded groups and make a habit of joining their discussions before you share your own content. Likewise, don’t overshare and keep it professional.

2. Email signatures

Adding your most recently published article to your email signature functions as an instant credibility badge. I almost always follow a link like this if I want to know more about someone who has emailed me. It demonstrates thought leadership in your industry and it gets your message in front of the people you’re trying to reach.

3. Your company blog

This is a good place to extend the conversation about a published article without duplicating content. Can you follow up on your original blog? What did you learn from the comments on your article? Are there any comments you’d like to respond to? Be sure to include a link to the original article.

Tracking the effectiveness of your content

In addition to getting your content maximum exposure, it’s important to follow the data and use metrics to drive your decisions. With Google Analytics or a similar platform, you can track your leads and conversions by source. If one source stands above the rest, you know you’re effectively reaching your audience, either with your content or the publication.

Tweak your content marketing strategy by immersing yourself in the metrics and making positive changes. Set a goal for your content, whether it’s increasing visits to your site, starting more conversations with prospects or converting more leads that find your site through your content.

Content marketing isn’t a vanity exercise. If you’ve ever done it, you know it takes time, effort and strategy. Don’t make the mistake of assuming your content’s journey ends once it has been published. You’ll be missing out on an opportunity to keep your content working for you.

Mark Hodges is a brand strategist at Influence & Co.

Two ways to optimise your website for mobile

June 04, 2014 by Guest Blogger

Two ways to optimise your website for mobile/Man's hands use a smartphone{{}}It’s almost impossible to succeed as a business today without having a website. But just having a website is no longer enough — SMEs in the UK are missing out on up to £77bn in annual revenues as a result of not having mobile-optimised websites, according to research commissioned by Hibu.

Despite the growing popularity of mobile browsing — fast becoming the main way that we access the internet — the Hibu research found that just 10% of UK SMEs have optimised their websites for mobile.

This is despite the fact that research by Google in 2012 found that two-thirds of smartphone users believe a mobile-friendly site would make them more likely to buy or use that business’s service.

Are you giving your competitors an advantage?

By not having a mobile site you are not only losing out on potential business, you are giving your competitors a distinct advantage. It’s like opening a shop that you can only enter by way of a series of ropes, pulleys and ladders.

Luckily, creating a mobile website need not cost the earth.

Off-the-shelf options

A large budget isn’t necessary for a smart and elegant mobile site, but it’s important not to attempt to go all out. We recommend using a pre-existing theme for a content management system like Wordpress. There are plenty of systems to choose from, but Wordpress suits simplicity and a lower budget.

Using pre-existing themes will give you out-of-the-box mobile functionality with minimal fuss or start-up delays. It doesn’t mean that you’re short of options either — there are thousands of themes available. Sites like Theme Forest have many different options to choose from and all are relatively inexpensive. With so many on offer, you’re sure to find something you like, but it is important to be selective.

Once you’ve made a choice on what sort of plugins, features and themes you want to use, you then need to make sure that they are the right fit for your business, that they are installed properly and that they are optimised. This is the process that you may need help with. The end result will be a smart, functional and simple mobile website that will offer all basic features to mobile visitors.

Tailor-made optimisation

With a higher budget, you have space to make your mobile responsive website more dynamic, more reactive, and more likely to convert visitors into customers.

With a higher budget you can work with complex, but highly beneficial tools that allow you to test for a multitude of browsers and mobile devices visiting your site. That way you can optimise your website for all possible mobiles. It will also give your site a personalised feel — it won’t look like any other mobile website out there.

Being selective is even more important with a bigger budget, simply because you’ll have more to play with. Set objectives for your site and then evaluate which features and options will best help you achieve this. You need to think about what your user will be looking for, and what features they might want on a mobile site.

In short, you need to take a thorough look at your user experience (UX). This way your end result will be an entirely user-focused site that keeps visitors on the site because every aspect is geared toward delivering smooth, easy and attractive usability.

With your mobile site sorted, you can rest easy in the knowledge that those who visit it will be happy that they’ve arrived.

Rudi Hoppe is chief technology officer at content marketing agency Southerly.

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