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A beginner's guide to Google+

July 14, 2014 by Marketing Donut contributor

A beginners guide to Google+{{}}If you’re still baffled by Google+ then worry not — you are not alone. Three years after it appeared, the network continues to create controversy and confusion. In fact, it’s easy to get lost on Google+ and spend hours roaming the site with very little to show for it. But help is here. We have compiled this beginner's guide to help you get the most out of Google+.

Google Circles

Once you’ve added your account, Google+ allows you to follow people, much like Twitter, and categorise them into Circles. These could include friends, work, interests and so on. You can share specific content with certain circles. People will be notified once they have been added to your Circles to prompt them to follow you back.

Home Stream

This is the Google+ home screen showing photos, posts, videos and everything else your contacts may be posting. On the left hand side you will see a drop down of all the areas within the Google platform, such as Communities and Events. Down the right hand side are your hangouts (which we’ll come to later). On the home stream you can +1 other people’s content (much like a Facebook like) share items or comment. You can filter the posts on your home screen via your Circles using the bar at the top of the screen, making it much easier to find what specific contacts are saying.

Posting

Like Facebook, when you share an update on Google+ you can choose who you share it with — a specific group of people or everyone. You can also tag individual companies or people in your posts to bring a topic to their attention; they will then get a notification letting them know that they have been tagged in a post. With this in mind, a post shared with a specific group of people acts much like a private message and only allows those specific few to read your update.

Hangouts

This is one of the most popular features on the Google+ platform and is the main feature that makes it stand out from competitors. Hangouts is where you can video call your connections, either as a group chat or as a private conversation. Google positions it as a way to turn one-to-one or group conversations into live face-to-face video calls with up to ten people. Now, with the new Uberconference app you can dial into your Google Hangouts from your phone and host a call with up to 100 people, making conference calls a whole lot easier.

Communities

There is a community for nearly everything, and we’ve certainly stumbled across some of the weird and the wonderful groups. This allows you to join in conversations with people with similar interests — whether it’s social media, travel, animals or fashion. All you need to do is request to join and you can create and join in the discussion.

Events

This works much like a Facebook event and allows a business or individual to raise awareness about an upcoming occasion. And the best part? Being Google, this is linked to your Google calendar so you never have to worry about forgetting an event. To create an event, click on the left sidebar and when you get on the events page, simply click on create Event to get organising. If this is a secret do, then you can choose who sees the event, allowing you to share it with a specific group of people.

Explore

The Explore button on the top toolbar is another excellent feature. This section allows you to see what subjects, topics and hashtags are currently trending on the site. It also suggests similar hashtags for your future posts, as well as any communities or posts that it thinks you may be interested in. In an attempt to rival Twitter, Google+ really has gone all out with hashtags.

So, this is a whistle stop tour of Google+ to get you off the ground but it’s worth taking some time to explore the site further. You can also watch this great video from Chris Brogan about how Google+ can be used to really benefit your business.

© Emma Pauw. Emma is a social media writer at We Talk Social.

Tagged Google+ | 0 comments

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

July 09, 2014 by Marketing Donut contributor

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

Can your marketing make people feel good?

July 07, 2014 by Sharon Tanton

Feel good clouds{{}}Many small business owners feel uncomfortable about marketing. Some positively hate it.

A new client of ours — the head of a very successful consultancy — has shied away from marketing for years because to him, it feels intrinsically wrong. In his eyes, markeing is putting on an act, pretending to be something you’re not. Like many people, he thinks there’s a dishonesty at the heart of marketing that doesn’t sit easily with the way he feels about himself or his business.

He’s not the only one. Pretending to be something you’re not is never a good feeling.

Don’t be a pushy marketer

We all have a short fuse when it comes to being marketed at by pushy marketers — cold callers, spammy emails, incessant amazing never-to-be-repeated deals (until tomorrow, that is, when you get them again). And that means we don’t want to be that pushy person ourselves 

We say look at marketing differently. When you approach marketing from the standpoint of ‘how can we help our customers better?’ rather than ‘how can we sell more stuff?’ it becomes easier. And, it works more effectively. It’s easy to switch off from a marketing message, it’s not so easy to switch off from something that genuinely answers a question that’s been really bugging you.

Right now, it would be impossible for me not to click on something that showed me how to get my 16-year-old son to revise.

You’ll stop seeing it as pushing, lying, or manipulation if you don’t push, lie or manipulate. Create marketing content that is genuinely helpful and you take the pressure off yourself.

Of course feel-good marketing is only possible if what you’re selling makes a difference. But that doesn’t mean you have to be Greenpeace, it just means you genuinely want to improve your customers’ lives.

Do good to feel good. That’s feel-good marketing.

Sharon Tanton is an expert contributor to Marketing Donut, creative director at Valuable Content and co-author, with Sonja Jefferson, of Valuable Content Marketing. 

Why a new business meeting is like a blind date

July 03, 2014 by Andy Bounds

Why a new business meeting is like a blind date/Calendar mark with blind date{{}}Picture the scene: you’re having dinner on your own in a restaurant and the person of your dreams walks in. They come over to you. There’s good eye contact. You can feel a connection already.

Breathlessly, they whisper: “It’s great to meet you. Tell me about yourself…”

How would you respond?
Like this?

“Great to meet you too. Luckily, I’ve got this book with me (you ceremoniously whip the book from your pocket). It describes my family history in full — how many of us there are, all our names, the things that are different and interesting about us. It really is a One Stop Shop describing what’s special about us…

Hey, hold on, I haven’t finished yet…

Where are you going…?

Don’t go…

Come back!”

Devastating. Your one chance to make a first impression — totally ruined.

Do you think that’s a weird example? After all, nobody would behave like that when first meeting someone, would they?

So, why is it that some people feel it’s essential to take a brochure with them to first meetings with potential customers?

They’ve never seen you before. They don’t want to be reading stuff about you. They want a chat — one that you both find interesting and stimulating. One you both enjoy. And one that — like a first date — if things go well, leads to something much better for both of you.

Ditch the brochure

So, when you’re meeting someone for the first time, don’t take a brochure (you wouldn’t want to read theirs, so why would they want to read yours?)

Instead, prepare (in advance):

  • A list of questions to ask them, to get the conversation going and find out more about them;
  • A couple of interesting, useful things you could say about yourself (a good rule of thumb is “facts tell, stories sell. Tell stories about what you’ve done for others; don’t just list facts about what you do);
  • One or two useful bits of info/advice for them, so they get value from the meeting;
  • Your opening line, so you feel confident going into the meeting;
  • Your closing lines — suitable for two situations. If the conversation’s gone well, how you’re going to ask for Date Two. And if things aren’t going so well, how to end the meeting politely, with integrity, but without a follow-up;
  • Diarise, to follow-up with them immediately after the meeting.

Since you’ve read this far, I guess you’re finding this advice useful? So, while I’ve got you, let me just quickly show you my holiday photos…
No, don’t go…
Please…

Andy Bounds is a communications expert, speaker and the author of The Snowball Effect: Communication Techniques to Make You Unstoppable. You can sign up for his free weekly tips here.

Posted in Sales | Tagged Sales meetings | 0 comments

Is LinkedIn the ultimate careers adviser?

July 02, 2014 by Marketing Donut contributor

Is LinkedIn the ultimate careers adviser?{{}}Back in 2009, we were presenting to students at leading business schools on how to make the most of LinkedIn. We showed them the power of LinkedIn for mapping out their career paths, conducting research, getting noticed by potential employers; and we explained why we thought LinkedIn would be one of the most powerful tools at their disposal throughout their careers.

A great deal has changed since 2009; but our predictions were pretty spot on!  Here’s why…

With 15 million UK users, three million business pages and 1,500 school and university profiles, LinkedIn has become the most powerful tool for professional networking. The so-called “Facebook for Business” can bring huge benefits to both professionals and academics and it bridges the gap between the two.

A recruitment tool

Currently, LinkedIn is one of the best ways for professionals to network and it is awash with success stories of people who have used the site to enhance their career. It allows you to monitor competitors, read up on new career opportunities, network with professionals and is increasingly being used for recruitment.

It’s no wonder that graduates are increasingly turning to LinkedIn as the number one tool in their job search. It allows you to read up on the skills and background of leaders in your field, search vacancies and gain valuable advice from industry experts.

So, we were not surprised when LinkedIn launched its new education service. The idea is to create college and university pages to provide students, alumni, lecturers and employees with a place to connect. The tagline reads: “Powered by the career paths of over 250 million members”.

Mapping your career path

The education pages provide users with job opportunities, they suggest new connections, allow you to see what your peers are now doing and show potential students what career path their course alumni have taken.

This is a fantastic tool for students, allowing them to start conversations with business professionals and gain valuable insight. From a business perspective, the service also allows you to sift through students to find ideal candidates, as well as connecting with any old alumni to develop business opportunities. Your old uni friend could open the door to your next big client.

Last year, LinkedIn also announced its partnership with some of the biggest names in online education so that users could showcase their educational achievements on their LinkedIn profile. Following the completion of specific courses, these certificates can then be posted directly to your profile. Not only can users add their certificates, but LinkedIn also allows users to add their honours and awards, test scores, courses and patents; moving the platform ever closer to becoming a one-stop, online CV.

It surely won’t be long before candidates will simply submit their LinkedIn profile to a potential employer instead of a traditional CV; indeed already many companies are asking for both.

Emma Pauw is social media writer at We Talk Social.

What could a dot London domain do for your business?

June 30, 2014 by Marketing Donut contributor

What could a dot London domain do for your business?{{}}The arrival of the new dot London (.london) top level domain (TLD) name has created a shake-up but it has been slowly been stirring.

Its roots lie in the Internet Corporation for Assigned Names and Numbers (ICANN), which received around 2,000 new TLD applications in mid-2012 for domains like .LOL for funny videos or .app as a new home for mobile applications. In basic terms, it means dot com is no longer the all-powerful domain.

So will buying a London domain benefit your business? And more specifically, will a dot London address benefit your digital marketing efforts and online presence? There are a few key points to consider.

Is a new top level domain good for SEO?

Not necessarily. Matt Cutts, Google’s Head of Webspam, said last year that a new TLD will have little technical effect on your website’s SEO and ranking.

Cutts wrote on his Google+ feed: “Google will attempt to rank new TLDs appropriately, but I don't expect a new TLD to get any kind of initial preference over dot com, and I wouldn't bet on that happening in the long term either. If you want to register an entirely new TLD for other reasons, that's your choice, but you shouldn't register a TLD in the mistaken belief that you'll get some sort of boost in search engine rankings.”

So in terms of SEO, you could probably achieve more by creating targeted landing pages on your website rather than paying for a whole new domain name.

Interestingly, Karren Brady, successful British businesswoman of The Apprentice fame and vice-chairman of West Ham United, is doing both. She recently announced that the football club’s new whufc.london address will be a dedicated microsite specifically built to mark the team’s move into its new home in east London’s Olympic Park.

Focus on quality 

Understandably, Matt Cutts is trying to discourage people from thinking they can just pay for a relevant TLD and have all their SEO woes solved. But it would be a tad illogical if Google algorithms completely ignored the top level domain. As long as it’s relevant, a high-quality, well-written, innovative and indexed dot London domain should receive a good search ranking.

If having a dot London domain name bolsters your branding and builds trust, then clearly that is helping your digital marketing, SEO or no SEO. In a recent YouGov survey, 41% of companies said they felt that a dot London address would help people find them online. My gut tells me SEO didn’t factor into that feeling.

London: an awfully big content marketing strategy

This brings us back to the fact that in this great, grand and gridlocked city, a cavalcade of big business leaders are urging other London companies to buy a London domain and join the family. They have a point — getting everyone to sign up to the same domain name effectively makes the whole city one big content marketing strategy.

So the question is: as a stakeholder in your company’s digital marketing efforts, do you feel that having a dot London address serves a practical purpose or are you doing it purely for vanity’s sake?

Let’s be honest, the London 2012 Olympics could have benefited from a London TLD microsite for local discussions.

But before you sign up to a dot London domain — and join the likes of Deborah Meaden, who says 19 of her companies are getting on the London domain train — please address these very important content marketing questions:

  • Will having a London TLD align well with your business goals and overall marketing needs?
  • Will it speak directly to your potential customers or, like a microsite, open the doors to a new audience?
  • And will it bolster your website content by enhancing your branding?

If the answer is “no” to any of these questions then I’d suggest your content marketing budget might be better spent elsewhere.

Jonathan Bright is a writer at content marketing agency, Southerly.

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