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Five steps to help you reach your target audience

May 05, 2015 by Marketing Donut contributor

Five steps to help you reach your target audience{{}}Choosing the right communications channels isn’t easy. And the social and content bandwagons have added even more pressure to business owners that feel they have to use all channels.

But being disciplined about which channel to use for what enables you to create consistent messaging that reaches the right audience in the right way and at the right time in the sales cycle.

Here’s how to reach your audience:

Step one: hyper-segment your target market

Splitting audiences into broad demographic groups is not enough. An effective marketing strategy requires detailed information on who is buying a product or service. Big companies do this kind of thing all the time. But if you are a small firm selling to consumers, you should think about how much your prospects earn, what they do and how they spend their spare time. B2B firms can combine sales data with desk research to establish job functions and other key customer characteristics.

Step two: Don’t forget traditional media

The Global Web Index Q3 2014 shows that the UK is one of the only countries in the world where time spent consuming traditional media still outweighs time spent consuming digital media.

For small firms, radio and printed press offer extremely valuable media opportunities. The GWI data shows that 45% of 16-24 year olds and 55% of over-55s still consume traditional printed press. The younger the audience, the more likely they are to consumer print press online.

Step three: get networking

Five years ago, it was a must to “do social”. The clouds are clearing now and most companies are recognising the need for appropriate and strategic social media activity linked directly to audience. But knowing which channel to use and how can be a minefield.

Facebook reported an increase in the number of daily users in 2014 showing that it is still a force to be reckoned with. Used by 81% of 18-29 year olds and 60% of 50-64 year olds, it’s the network of choice for the educated and affluent with 69% of users earning more than £48k a year. That said, Facebook’s organic reach is in decline so brands now need to look to paid for activity to get in front of audiences.

Only 18% of internet users are on Twitter and many users prefer reading than posting tweets. But just because they are not talking doesn’t mean followers aren’t listening. The media in the UK are also big users of Twitter so it’s also a good media relations tool.

LinkedIn is the key B2B network. Econsultancy suggests that it accounts for 64% of visits to all corporate websites after tracking two million visits to 60 sites over two years.

However, for consumer brands, the network has little value. For B2B firms, it’s an ideal tool for the targeted dissemination of news and content.

Pinterest can be a great way of getting products and content shared – and driving sales - assuming you have great imagery. UK users are now well over two million and 80% of pins are re-pinned from elsewhere on the site. For certain types of consumer brand - from fashion to food and interiors – it can be a great weapon in the communications channel armoury.

Instagram, Snapchat and WhatsApp have captured the younger market partly due to immediacy and partly due to concerns over privacy and “digital legacies”. However, these networks hinge on personal communication, leaving little or no room for brands.

Google+ is a great tool for improving the visibility of your online content. Often overlooked, it’s worth using if you want your content ranking as high as possible on Google as Google+ posts get indexed more quickly than content on other social networks.

Step four: Integrate

It’s important to stress that all channels should be integrated to deliver best return on investment. But don’t be tempted to simply replicate content across all channels. Keep messaging and themes constant but tailor content where necessary.

Step five: measure, refine and measure again

Whatever communications channels you choose to use, build in KPIs and evaluate progress on a monthly basis. If activity is working, do more; if it is not delivering, then leave it behind.

Equally important is knowing when to call time on an activity. If you’re starting from scratch it’s probably going to take you six months to test the waters. With all integrated marketing there is a momentum that needs building so give it time.

However, once you’ve reached momentum, be ruthless. The moment results decline (or if they fail to emerge), change your tactics.

Copyright © 2015 Rebecca Scully, managing director at Smarts Illuminate.

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The selfie - has your brand got the picture?

March 16, 2015 by Marketing Donut contributor

Selfie{{}}The world seems to be obsessed with selfies. But is your brand maximising the benefits of this trend?

Many marketers look down on the selfie, seeing it as a teen trend, one that promotes narcissism and shameless self-promotion.

But on Instagram there are over 53 million photos tagged simply with the hashtag #selfie. Selfies are also trending on Twitter and Facebook.

To stay current in this fast-moving, saturated marketplace, brands need to take notice of trends. So why are so many brands are still ignoring the selfie? It may be vain but selfies can be used by brands as a marketing tool.

The power of selfies

The selfie has been used to raise awareness for social good. The #nomakeupselfie campaign that took social media by storm last year is a good example. This campaign encouraged girls to take make-up free photos, post them online and then donate money to charity. It raised over £8 million for Cancer Research UK. The fact that Cancer Research did not come up with the campaign shows just how powerful the seflie is for engaging with an online audience.

For business of all kinds, the selfie is a fantastic way for brands to show a human side. Encouraging customers to post selfies with a brand-related hashtag also gives your business free marketing. What could be more powerful than hundreds of social media users posting images with your product or making use of your #brand?

Still not convinced?

Brands have reported huge benefits from including the selfie in their marketing strategy. Axe Deodorant, for example, ran a selfie campaign to coincide with Valentine’s Day, asking users to post images of themselves alongside the hashtag #kissforpeace. This generated more than 10,000 tweets with similar results on Instagram.

And who can forget Ellen DeGeneres famous celebrity-packed Oscar selfie? It became the most tweeted picture of all time, with over 33 million retweets. Some say the fact that this was taken on a Samsung mobile was a brilliant marketing idea from the company, although Samsung claims it was unplanned.

Building brand warmth online

It’s clear that selfies can generate a huge amount of brand warmth. Asking customers to endorse your products and services through a selfie is much more credible than simply blowing your own trumpet online.

Businesses are actively trying to get user-generated recommendations and build social proof; the selfie could be a critical part of this.

Copyright © 2015 Emma Pauw, social media writer at We Talk Social.

Mastering the art of social listening

February 24, 2015 by Marketing Donut contributor

Mastering the art of social listening{{}}Social media listening is a fundamental tool for any business owner — even if you’re not currently active on all social media sites.

The days of suggestion boxes and comment cards are long gone. Social media is now the first place people turn to praise or criticise a brand. For consumers, it has become the quickest and easiest way to directly contact a brand and get a problem sorted. So it is vital that your business is listening to these comments.

Listening on social media is about monitoring posts and conversations that refer to your brand, product, service or even competitor, in order to aggregate the data and find out what people really think about your business.

There are several platforms that can help you monitor social media, such as Meltwater Buzz, but there’s nothing to stop you from monitoring social mentions yourself.

Listen before you leap

Social listening must come first in any social media strategy. Once you have gained a sense of your reputation online, you can then engage based upon you customer needs. Knowing what people are saying about your brand allows for more proactive and reactive posting.

If you don’t want to invest in social media listening tools, setting up social media profiles and lurking online is just as effective. Using Twitter to search for your brand name will bring up all the tweets that mention your business and will allow you to gain a sense of how you’re faring online. It also allows you to check up on your competitors and see how their brand mentions compare.

Nine reasons to start listening on social media

  1. Gather market research: People post honestly on social media, so if someone doesn’t like your brand they’ll tell you. Social media allows you to gain insights, opinions and experiences from real customers in real time.
  2. Identify your weaknesses: If customers are having negative experiences with your brand or product then you can quickly identify the problems using social media. You don’t need to second-guess your customers anymore, they are telling you what’s wrong. Keep an eye out for negative posts, use the social media site to communicate how you are rectifying the situation (so others can see) and turn those weaknesses into strengths.
  3. Identify your strengths: Are you unsure if a new product or service is popular or if your latest marketing campaign is working? Monitoring responses online during a product launch or throughout a campaign will enable you to gauge reaction.
  4. Bring cost efficiencies: Social media feedback allows you to focus your marketing spend where it’s most effective. It can stop you wasting money and also identify where social might be a more cost-effective channel.
  5. Fish in the right pond: Social media listening allows you to establish where your target market is spending time online. There are a vast number of social networking sites and focusing on all of them is a huge investment of time. Identifying if your customers are tweeting, pinning or posting on Facebook, for instance, will allow you to focus your efforts.
  6. Understand customer needs: Social media allows you to listen to your customers and gain ideas for future developments that you may not have even thought of.
  7. Protect your brand: Are there people sharing misinformation about you online or misrepresenting your brand? Monitoring your brand mentions will allow you to identify fake accounts or incorrect information and then take action.
  8. Find out what content engages your audience: There are countless ways to engage with your audience on social media, such as images, competitions and case studies but which of these are the most effective? Instead of spending money on ad-hock advertising and content pushing, find out which of these gets the most engagement from your customers and focus your efforts here.
  9. Reach potential customers: Every social media user could be a potential customer. Search for keywords and hashtags to find people that are talking about subjects that are relevant to your brand and then reach out to them.

Copyright © 2015 Emma Pauw, social media writer at We Talk Social.

How to improve your customer service with social media

February 16, 2015 by Sarah Orchard

How to improve your customer service with social media{{}}Many small businesses I speak to are worried about using social media. It’s understandable; after all, social media puts you and your company in the public spotlight and there’s always the risk that you may get negative online reviews as well as positive comments.

Indeed, that’s usually the biggest concern ­– what if a customer complains and leaves a negative review? Their comments are out there in public, posted, shared, re-tweeted. Everyone can see them!

But think of this – you may well have had disgruntled customers in the past but you just weren’t aware of them. Now look at the role of social media from a different angle – if someone leaves a negative comment on Twitter or Facebook (and they will!), you have a valuable opportunity to address the issue.

This enables you to take a two-pronged attack – damage limitation by resolving the problem and turning the situation around by converting a complainer into a brand advocate.

So, how do you go about it?

  • Be vigilant and monitor what is being said about your brand on social media. There are various monitoring tools available, such as Google Alerts, which can be set up for your brand and specific keywords (as well as competitors). Other tools include Social Mention, probably one of the best free social media listening tools on the market. In addition, Ice Rocket offers free blog, Twitter and Facebook monitoring in 20 languages.
  • Don’t forget to set up Hootsuite or TweetDeck (if you use either of them) to flag your Mentions on Twitter too!
  • Check in on your Facebook page and Twitter regularly. If your business gets reviewed on sites such as Trip Advisor, make sure you monitor that too. Likewise, find out about any forums or communities that may be of interest to your customers.
  • Think before you react. Not all negative online reviews will merit a response. If something has been posted on an obscure forum with few members, it’s probably better to just ignore it. Your response will only bring attention to the problem, rather than allowing it to quietly sink beneath the radar.
  • If you need to respond, do it as quickly as possible. There’s nothing worse than a complaint going unanswered for days or weeks. The customer may have vented their spleen but a lack of response will cause more anger and others may pick up on this. Always acknowledge the customer, even if you need to look into the complaint in greater depth. Let them know that you’ll be back in touch and offer to get in touch offline in the meantime.
  • Keep it friendly and avoid sarcasm. If you ever read Trip Advisor reviews and responses, you’ll know what I mean – there’s nothing worse than an outraged hotelier posting a bitter response to a review. An online slanging match will do you no favours whatsoever. Keep things polite, make sure you come across as “human”, it will make so much difference. Ideally respond publicly and provide a resolution, and then take it offline by emailing or calling the customer to go over details such as refunds or compensation.
  • Decide how you can fix the problem. Apologising is one thing, but even better is showing an effective solution to the customer’s problem. For instance, if they have a product that hasn’t lived up to its promise, you might offer to replace it with a superior item at no extra cost.

Show your customers that you care

Remember that social media also gives you a platform on which to publicly demonstrate that you care about your customers. Many people prefer to deal with complaints offline. The trouble with that is that your sincere apology and the way you resolve the issue won’t be in the public domain. However, if you do it online you are being completely transparent and you may just call a halt to droves of similar complaints being posted.

Make someone happy and there’s every chance that they will relay the good news to others, turning a complaint into positive PR and building some good brand awareness at the same time.

Copyright © 2015 Sarah Orchardan expert contributor to Marketing Donut and a consultant at Orchard Marketing Associates.

How images can boost your Facebook following

November 03, 2014 by Sarah Orchard

How images can boost your Facebook following{{}}So you’ve made sure your business has a page on Facebook and you’re posting regularly – but are you using it to its best effect? And did you know that visual content is five times more effective in engaging followers or random visitors who have chanced upon your page? Whether it’s a photograph or video, images add impact and communicate immediately.

Easy ways to create visual content

But before you start worrying about how to generate all this exciting visual content, let me reassure you that you don’t necessarily have to do that much. Social media sites are all about communities, so you can ask your customers to contribute to your Facebook page by posting photographs and videos that are relevant to your brand.

It’s the ultimate endorsement strategy – the customer who is happy to post a wedding photograph thanking your for the cake stand they bought from your online shop is, in essence, telling all their Facebook friends and your Facebook followers that yours is a great shop and you’ve just made a bride very happy. People like that.

This will also drive more organic sharing and increased traffic to your website as well as your Facebook page. Empower your followers to share their images and more will follow.

Smartphones and tablets have made it even easier to share a moment – think back to our hypothetical bride, she has a million things to do on the day, but a simple snap of her wedding cake on your cake stand is effortless to upload.

Respond to user-generated content

It’s important to remember to respond to any content that is added. Maybe that bride was let down at the last minute and you saved the day – a few words to say how delighted you were to have helped shows that you care about your customers and the service you provide.

Here’s another idea: ask customers to show how they’re using a particular product. Introduce a hashtag so it’s easy to share on Twitter too. But don’t forget to check that no-one else is using that hashtag on other social media sites such as Pinterest and Instagram.

Don’t leave everything to your followers. Listen to what they’re saying and notice which posts they are sharing – in short, discover what engages them and then follow their lead and give them more on the same theme.

Images also provide an opportunity to show a different side to your business – a behind-the-scenes moment or a “this is how we did it” movie (Twitter Vine is great for this) that gives real insight into what you do and, importantly, your love for it.

Copyright © 2014 Sarah Orchard is an expert contributor to Marketing Donut and a consultant at Orchard Marketing Associates.

Why Albert Einstein knew a thing or two about measuring social media

September 10, 2014 by Marketing Donut contributor

Why Albert Einstein knew a thing or two about measuring social media{{}}Albert Einstein said: “Not everything that counts can be counted, and not everything that can be counted counts”.

Einstein has hit the social media nail on the head. The benefits of social media can be both tangible and intangible and not every aspect of your social media success can be measured. So how can you ensure you’re getting a clear ROI — or “return on Involvement” in social media.

There are many ways to measure your social media success. Getting a positive mention from an industry expert or getting your content in front of key people can be invaluable. Social media gives you easy access to specific audiences so if you are using social media for business, the first thing you need to do is ensure you’re fishing in the right pond. There are many social media sites, all with different purposes and audiences; find out where your audience is lurking and then focus your efforts here.

But once you’ve got a social media strategy, how do you measure its effectiveness?

Set clear and realistic targets

Set clear objectives and realistic goals and understand why each is a measure of success. Targets could include: reaching a certain number of new followers, achieving lead conversions or re-tweets. If you’re hitting these then you’ll know your social activity is working, and if you’re not, look at where you’re focusing your efforts. Keep pushing yourself by gradually making these objectives harder to achieve and as your social media skills increase so will your business success. One measure to employ is by asking: “Where were we able to start this conversation that led to the sale?”.

Social media measuring tools

There are many social media management tools out there to enable you to monitor every aspect of your social activity. These include measuring your click-through stats, likes, re-tweets, follower growth and post shares:

  • Facebook’s metrics are great for showing you how successful your social media activity is.
  • Twitter search your company name — this allows you to monitor your Twitter reputation by bringing up news, pictures and tweets that your brand has been mentioned in. By adding the # before your name you can see all tweets that directly reference you.
  • Technorati will notify your brand when it has been mentioned in the blogosphere.
  • Monitor This is a little more technical but worth it. You can have it watch over 20 different search engine feeds and make an .opml file that you can put into your RSS Feeder to display any results.

Sites like Hootsuite, Tweetdeck, Sprout Social and Meltwater Buzz offer social media “dashboards” that allow you to post and monitor the success of all your posts, showing conversation volume and the sentiment of mentions. These platforms can also flag up all mentions of search queries you enter.

Saving time and money

Social media provides cost effective access to powerful marketing, networking and lead generation tools. It has truly levelled the playing field for small businesses but it’s essential to have a strategy. By measuring how much time and money your business has saved by using social media to achieve its goals faster, you can see a clear “return on involvement”. If you are spending hours on social media with very little to show for it, then you are doing something wrong. One quick and easy time saving exercise is to schedule “proactive” tweets and posts (without looking like a robot); then you can engage more “reactively” as required.

Analysing brand recognition

Social media is a great way for a business to raise brand awareness. Use monitor tools to search for your brand name. Monitoring your Twitter mentions allows you to see when and why people are talking about you.

Mentions by influencers

Positive mentions are difficult to measure; if you are being re-tweeted and discussed by industry experts then you know you’re “doing” social media right. This shows that you’re creating and sharing engaging content that others find useful. Ensure you set clear goals for who you would like to interact with online and if your content is being picked up by these people then this is a clear measurement of your social success.

Follower growth

After you post content about a specific subject, you may see your followers, likes and favourites increase. This is because people follow feeds and people who provide rich and interesting online content. If your followers/connections are constantly increasing and, in particular, you’re getting lots of new professionals in your sector, then your social media activity is clearly working. Keep posting engaging content — including your company blogs and news as well as third party content— to give people a reason to continue following you.

Better internal collaboration

Social media can foster better employee engagement and communication between departments. Businesses that use social media often have a better collaborative working environment as they reap the rewards of the cost and time efficiencies that social media can bring. And through better internal communications you will soon see better external communications.

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

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