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Blog posts tagged Social media

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Are you having one-sided conversations on Twitter?

August 19, 2014 by Guest Blogger

Are you having one-sided conversations on Twitter?{{}}Social media platforms such as Twitter give brands a free and invaluable way to connect with clients (both current and potential), spread brand warmth, monitor competitors, manage customer service, gain customer insights and drive website traffic — what’s not to love?

Yet, many brands are jumping feet first into the social media realm without understanding the basics; in particular, how to post content. This may seem like a no-brainer to some, yet many brands still don’t understand the fundamental rules of social media. Yes, social media is integral to your brand, but going out all guns blazing with no planning or strategy may do more harm than good.

And what’s the biggest faux-pas of all? It’s using social media channels to broadcast rather than engage.

Beware broadcasting

If used in moderation, broadcast messages on social media can be effective. You can flag up new website content including blogs, news and articles. And you can attract more fans and followers by positioning yourself as an industry expert.

Yet, this must be done in moderation. If you continuously broadcast marketing messages via your social sites, people will soon switch off. Mix these messages with engaging third party content, network with customers and work to build strong lasting relationships with your followers. Social media is a long game but over time you will see results.

You wouldn’t train your in-store staff to constantly shout out brand messages in an attempt to sell to customers — apart from looking unprofessional, it would drive people away. So why do brands do this on social? The best sales people get to know their customers, they engage them in conversations, find out what makes them tick and then provide a solution to match their needs. The same should go for social media.

Twitter tactics

A report from Brandwatch shows that 25% of top brands continue to use Twitter for broadcasting purposes only. If you’re constantly broadcasting marketing messages, your content is without context, no trust is built and ultimately no sales. This can also make your brand look uncreative; your social media sites are supposed to show the human face of your organisation, to show your personality. If you’re only pushing brand messages, your business looks dull and uninspiring.

The real value comes from engaging your followers in two-way conversations, interacting with them and showing them that you care. Over the years, many brands have created a huge sense of brand warmth via their humorous and engaging social media posts; and their messages are retweeted, spreading their brand messages much further than those brands who broadcast. So come on guys, get some personality.

Are your posts falling on deaf ears?

We all know the saying; if a tree falls in a forest, does it make a sound? Well, the same goes for social; it’s all well and good endlessly posting but if you’re not engaging your followers then these posts will fall on deaf ears. If you’re constantly pushing out messages, people will soon switch off. Instead start engaging in conversations, joining in with the chatter and building up a strong sense of brand warmth and rapport with your followers.

Copyright © 2014 Emma Pauw, social media writer, We Talk Social.

How to find time for social media

August 13, 2014 by Sara Drawwater

How to find time for social media{{}}If content creation and social media is an important aspect of your marketing, you’ll know how much time it can take. This is probably the most common problem that SMEs face. The vision may be there but the ability to make it happen with limited resources is incredibly challenging.

Social media won't work if you don't allocate enough people and time resources to it. Here are six tips to help you manage content creation and social media effectively based on my own experiences running two businesses and attempting to manage three websites, four blogs and more than ten social media channels!

  1. Delegate some of your existing roles. If you are the person managing and/or delivering content creation and social media then you may need to restructure your role. Be realistic and understand that this work will take time. For example, I have recently delegated email enquiries (30 minutes a day), book-keeping (two hours a week) and meeting transcriptions (three hours a week). That equates to 7.5 hours a week or a whole day that I can now apply to this work. Delegating is a real discipline. You need to spot areas of work that someone else can do, select the right person to help and equip them to be successful by ensuring they have the knowledge and time to deliver. It will take time to reassign the work but after that, you'll have more time. If you don't have a team in-house, look at how virtual assistants can help you.
  2. Get your team on side. If you are a sole trader, then you are the team! But if you have a team, it’s vital that social media is not a one-man crusade. Get the rest of your staff on side and create a social business that understands the value of building relationships and social selling through attraction marketing. You will also need to assign clear responsibility with strict time scales and train staff in content creation and social media delivery.
  3. Plan your delivery. Do not underestimate the value of planning. Know your business goals and how this applies to content creation and social media. Understand the needs of your audience and create content accordingly. Create a content calendar that defines what content needs to be created, by whom and by when.
  4. Get into a routine. Figure out how you and your team work best. A fixed routine is best. Some people say they need to be in a creative mood, but what if that mood never comes? We have a habit of pushing back the work we fear or don't want to do. So try to do key tasks at specific times.
  5. Use social media management tools. Scheduling your social media posts will help you manage your time. Explore tools like Buffer, HootsuiteTweetdeck and others. But remember we are talking about social media — so as well as scheduling your posts, check in regularly to respond to people and join other conversations. You can also use social media management tools to listen and inspire your next piece of content. My preference is Buffer for scheduling and Hootsuite for listening.
  6. Get external help. If you've put all the above into place and you are still struggling to turn the vision into reality then it's probably time to look at getting external help. You'll need to explore the pros and cons of an apprentice, a new member of staff or a marketing and communications consultant.

Sara Drawwater is an expert contributor to Marketing Donut and runs her own creative consultancy, Something Beckons.

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 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.

Why social media is anti-social

May 27, 2014 by Robert Craven

Why social media is anti-social/ Media-human-mobile. Global communication{{}}Why do they call it social media? It is anything but social. It is antisocial.

What social media does can be really damaging to a business. Under the mistaken idea that they are “doing business”, business owners and sales/marketing people get preoccupied with social media and replace the basic, traditional forms of sales and marketing with counting clicks, likes and followers.

The bare facts are that doing business is about understanding who your customers are, what their problems are and engaging with them so that they buy from you when they are ready.

Social media may be part of the recipe but it is not the recipe.

Too many people confuse talking business with doing business. They become social media-obsessed and confuse their social media interactions with their original purpose. In effect, they become busy fools.

Most businesses spend:

  • 75% of their time arguing over communications channels — LinkedIn or FaceBook or Instagram;
  • 20% of their time discussing marketing, and;
  • 5% of the time discussing whether they have the right product for the specific target customers needs.

This is all so wrong. So upside-down...

You need to turn this pyramid on its head and spend:

  • 75% of the time discussing whether you have the right product for the specific target customers needs;
  • 20% of your time discussing marketing, and;
  • 5% of the time of your time arguing over communications channels — LinkedIn or FaceBook or Instagram.

Obviously, social media done well is another matter.

Robert Craven runs The Directors’ Centre, helping businesses to grow and advising on how to work smarter. He is a keynote speaker and best-selling author of Kick-Start Your Business and Grow Your Service Firm.

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