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Using the block on Twitter

February 02, 2010 by Nigel Legg

Some people do it, some people don’t: what is the right way to use the blocking function on Twitter?

On a Sunday afternoon when I’m mostly investigating the world of online gaming, I just saw a couple of tweets regarding blocking from someone I respect.  She says that there’s no point in blocking people who you don’t want to follow, as they can still find ways to read what you are saying, and it is actually harmful in that blocking sends a red flag to twitter about the person.

I’ll deal with the second point first.  Simply blocking a person from following you doesn’t raise a flag to Twitter; using the “Block and spam” option does.  So if I block you, it won’t have any affect on your Twitter life, apart from not being able to follow me.

I block a lot of people, and I believe I have a strong reason for this activity.  I consider my follower list to be the same as an email list: I use Twitter to publicise what I am doing in my business.  So I want to have a good number of people in my Twitter following who are going to be receptive (or at least potentially receptive) to the messages I am putting out.  I also want my Twitter following to reflect my values; as I consider MLM to be the wrong way to make a living, I don’t want to have a following which includes MLM “practitioners”, as I feel that it would reflect badly on me. So I manage my list; I block people who I don’t want to follow or be associated with.

In some ways, a friend of mine who runs the social media activity for an events and news website has taken this further: he has built up a Twitter following of close to a thousand, all of whom are within a certain distance of his home town.  This means that when they use Twitter for a competition in association with a local venue, they know that everyone who sees the tweet directly in their stream will be able to attend the event.  These competitions are now a regular part of their activity, and have lead to Twitter being an important part of their operations.

So blocking can be a useful means of managing your account, keeping it tidy, and of increasing it’s value to your business; don’t be worried about blocking people.

In his post “How small newspapers can make money from Twitter” on the Econsultancy blog, Ben LaMothe sets out a strategy for advertising on Twitter that will depend entirely on any newspaper following it using the block to manage their following, though he does not explicitly say this.  If activities such as “sponsored tweets” – a polite way of saying advertising in your Twitter stream – take off in a big way, we will see more use of the block to control followings and make them more valuable to the advertiser.

This blog post by Nigel Legg originally appeared on Katugas Social Media Services

Choose brand consistency for 2010

February 01, 2010 by Sara Brown

The best way to increase profitability through your investment in design and marketing is for you to be consistent. There’s nothing worse for your bottom line than your image chopping and changing. The trouble is the damage from inconsistency is so subtle that many business owners are blissfully unaware of the negative effects on their target audiences. Brand irregularity includes conscious and subconscious confusion, distrust and irritation and can result in customers going elsewhere.  

Here are our top five tips for achieving brand consistency:
  1. Firstly, invest in a quality well designed logo (and if your budget can accommodate it, some simple brand guidelines). This should then form the basis for every piece of marketing material that follows.
  2. Following on from here ensure your marketing material looks like it belongs to the same family! If there is no clear link between your business card, website and brochure for example, then your customers’ journey is disjointed and your message becomes unclear.
  3. The biggest and most obvious blunder is to randomly change colours from one piece of marketing communication to the next. Don’t do this! Decide on your brand colours which should be specifically chosen to communicate key messages and then stick to them.
  4. Select every aspect of your brand carefully. Understand that these brand characteristics all mean something and effect the people that experience your brand. These characteristics should include (but are not limited to) things like fonts, colours, logos, design elements and language style.
  5. The best way to achieve the above is to establish a long term working relationship with the right designer who can help build that unswerving, dependable and loved brand that will actually have a positive affect on your businesses profitability. 

This blog post by Sara Drawwater originally appeared at somethingbeckons.co.uk

 

Do you have a visual competitive edge?

January 31, 2010 by Sara Brown

It’s a cut-throat world out there and as competing businesses clamber for ever wiser customers, you should be focused on carving out a competitive edge for yourself. A company has achieved a successful visual presence when their customers can find them easily and, more importantly, when their customers can understand them.

Graphic design is often misunderstood and seen as an unnecessary cost. Many businesses severely under-utilise the power of visual design. But one thing is for sure, design-led businesses stand out from the crowd. Successful businesses of any size are embracing design, using it as a strategic resource to strengthen their products and services in order to achieve profitable growth.

Visual design should not be seen as a cost. If a company is achieving a successful visual market presence, design is not money down the drain. Rather, a strong visual presence gives your customers a compelling reason to buy from you and not your competitors.

Before any potential client even walks through your door, they have undoubtedly experienced the visual identity of your company. This identity can make you look fun or serious, large or small, traditional or forward-thinking, professional or unprofessional. You need to strike a chord with your target audience. Customers know what they want. The question is, can you successfully communicate to them that you know what they want and that you have it?

Here are a few things to think about: What does your logo say about your company? What impression does your company literature give your potential customer? Is your website pulling in customers or turning them away? Why? Can your customers find you and can they understand what you offer?

 

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

Branding - let's start with the basics

January 27, 2010 by John Hayward

A healthy and strong brand will stand above the competition, standing more chance of being chosen if it's not been tried before as well as having a loyal customer base once it's been purchased.

It all started with cows and making sure you could distinguish your cow from someone else's cow. That led to the most basic form of branding with a unique stamp on your cow's rear end region. With most businesses being a little more complicated than cows nowadays, branding and brand management have had to become more and more sophisticated. 

Even now this rather more basic cow example of branding is what people think it's all about - the name and the logo. It's not that simple, and lots of different inputs from all around your business will work together to make up your brand.  What is blissfully simple however is the benefit of a well managed, clearly thought through and strong brand. And that is the very catalyst behind the cow example above: being unique, standing out and being identifiable.

That's because a strong healthy brand can:

  • Act as a short-cut to what your brand is and how it's different from the competition
  • Stand for a central promise - a brand positioning
  • Become familiar

This is all fairly critical to us humans, especially when you account for the fact that your average person is exposed to over 5000 messages each day. That's huge. People process information very quickly, and so you have to be at the top of your game to ensure your brand can cut through quickly, be understood, resonate and then become part of a consideration choice. Notice we haven't got to purchased yet!

John Hayward of Brand Glue

Blogging businesses benefit best

January 22, 2010 by James Ainsworth

A new report into the benefits experienced by small and medium businesses with blogs has been conducted by social media research specialists, Hubspot. Having previously released findings that demonstrate blogging businesses experience 55% more visitors to their target website than those who do not, the latest research has shown the overall reach a blogging business can expect through Twitter increases by 79%.

The most impressive statistic for small businesses with blogs is that small businesses that blog, on average have 102% more Twitter followers than those who don't. This highlights the personal relationship and down-to-earth communication a small business can take advantage of over big businesses and businesses that do not make the most of blogging opportunities. The more open and regular your conversation with existing and potential customers, the more likely they are to invest time, an online connection through a follow or subscription and ultimately, financial commitment.

The report, which looked at a dataset from 2,100 Hubspot customers, concludes,

“…businesses of different sizes and service nature can reach more potential customers via Twitter by enriching their Twitter streams with content from their blog.”

A blog alongside your business website is a great way to add that splash of personality and open up your day-to-day business experience with your customers. Everytime you publish a new blog post, tell your Twitter following all about it, you are writing for them as much as for yourself and so you should let people know and join up your online community dots.

The more you engage with your customers and link up your communications through Twitter and blogging, the greater the opportunity you have to be noticed as an expert in your business area and as a small business, you offer personality, understanding and an environment where consumers build-up trust and a relationship with you the company and the products or services you can provide. So, why wouldn’t you want to put your business in the proverbial shop window?

What do you use your blog for? How do you make your blog stand out from the other 126 million?

Is your business plugged in to 2.0?

January 19, 2010 by James Ainsworth

The difference between businesses that survive and those that struggle in 2010 depends on whether or not you are online.

A number of 2010 forecasts, including our own, have pointed towards an increasing dependence in the small firm workplace on the internet. A small business in 2010 must be all things to everyone if it wants to secure customers. Consumer behaviour is driving the need for small businesses to adapt to an increasingly online world.

If you have a physical store you will also want to replicate it as best you can with an online e-commerce solution. Your customers are also likely to want a two-way experience with your online and physical store operation too. For example, if a customer buys a product from your website, they are also going to want the option of returning it in store should the need arise. Also, are you using social media tools to amplify your marketing message and listen to what your customers want?

What Small Business 2.0 can do for your firm, as an event, is bring likeminded and eager small businesses together to share their experiences of trading online. In addition, the line-up of speakers boasts representatives from small businesses that have now graduated to market leaders, as well as our humble MD.

The event takes place in London this Saturday and will consist of a range of workshops, discussions and presentations on how to run every aspect of your online operation.

You may already know, or at least think you know, everything there is about running your website but the day will take you across the spectrum of SEO, Google AdWords and social media to give you the confidence to turn your online operation into a strong profit-making venture.

One of the key features of this event is the low cost and relaxed format that it will take, making it a truly accessible event for small businesses. The Marketing Donut will be attending the event and shall bring all the pertinent thoughts from the day through Twitter and lengthier discussion pieces on the blog.

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