How to get the best out of your social media marketing presence

How to get the best out of your social media marketing presence

Companies all over the world are looking to maximise revenue, grow their brand and engage their target audience – but how do you accomplish this? Without a doubt social media marketing is the way forward. Findings from a survey, carried out by the Chartered Institute of Marketing, reveals that over two thirds of managers admit they are ineffective at using social media. With the way that the internet has revolutionised, there is no room for inadequacy when it comes to social media and it has become more important than ever to embed it within your marketing strategy. Here’s how to make sure that you stay ahead of the game.

Choosing the right social media network

Facebook, Twitter, YouTube, Google+ and Instagram are just a few examples of the social networks that could be used to promote your business. There are so many more out there to choose from, but don’t make the mistake of using it just because it’s used by your competitors or because you’ve heard so much about it, but for the reason that it works for your business.

Mapping out a strategy

A good way to get started is by identifying what your business is trying to achieve through social media marketing. This process is like a maze. Imagine the scenario – it may take time to go through a series of routes, you may go back and forth but this will enable you to learn from your mistakes and eventually find the path to your destined place. For social media marketers, the key to solving the puzzle starts by answering a series of questions. This will set you on the right path by enabling you to consider the benefits and risks, both part of a strategy which help you to achieve your end goal. You will need to consider:

  • Who your target audience is
  • What type of content will be shared
  • What the key messages to reflect your brand will be
  • What social media goals you have
  • How you will measure impact
  • What social media networks and tactics your competitors use

Importance of a social media dashboard

Social media can be hard work and challenging to find the time to stay on top of it. Wouldn’t it be ideal to create, share and schedule content in advance? Keep an eye on the competition? Track your brand growth? If you answered ‘yes’, then I would definitely recommend using a social media dashboard to manage multiple social media networks in one place.

Hootsuite – what is it?

Hootsuite was formed in 2008 by Ryan Holmes to create a better social media experience for businesses. The global social media company claims to be ‘the world’s most widely used social relationship platform’ with more than 10 million users around the world. Hootsuite has continued to grow in strength, and is now available in 16 languages in more than 175 countries. Small businesses can subscribe to the pro plan, costing £6.99 a month which will enable them to manage multiple social networks including Twitter, Facebook, LinkedIn and Google+.

Benefits and features

American business magazine, Forbes claims that Hootsuite is a ‘company that has made managing multiple social media properties easy and convenient’. Here are some of the benefits and features to consider if you want to grow your social media marketing presence.

  • Social listening – using Hootsuite means that you’ll never miss an important conversation again. You’ll be able to track and monitor what customers, competitors and industry influencers are talking about on social media. When working on campaigns this feature will enable you to respond to attitudes and opinions in order to keep momentum going
  • Collaborative working – businesses can invite team members to their Hootsuite account so they can work collaboratively to manage accounts, topics and projects. Like other dashboards, it will enable levels of access and team members’ permissions so only certain users can securely modify the details of assigned social media networks
  • Improve time management – with Hootsuite, you’ll be able to simply log into one account to manage more than one social media network, helping to save essential time in your day. In addition to this, its scheduling functionality will give you the freedom to plan, create and schedule content in advance. With the end-user in mind , it also enables you to customise streams and tabs, making it more efficient and easier to find what you’re looking for
  • Discover what content resonates – the dashboard will help you to discover what content works and doesn’t work for your business. What’s more is that it will evaluate the effectiveness of content by providing analytical insights. You’ll be able to measure clicks, likes, retweets, most popular links and more. With these analytics you can create detailed social reports with summary statistics to share with the rest of your company. Evaluating progress is good because it takes you one step closer to reaching your outcomes
  • Visualise social demographics – getting to know and connecting to your target audience is an absolute must for any business. With Hootsuite you’ll be able to see how many followers and fans you have, keep an eye on whether this increases, gain an insight into their age, location and more factors which will help you to tailor your content and business strategy to meet their needs

Find out more about Hootsuite online.

Social media marketing can have a big influence on your target audience so take the time to consider what works for your business!

5 steps to achieve marketing greatness

5 steps to achieve marketing greatness

Sooner or later there will be a time where you hit a brick wall. Perhaps you are new to the playing field and have recently set up your business and find yourself preparing for the launch of a new product.  This is a very crucial time as an effective marketing strategy could be the difference between success and failure.

According to marketing experts if you want to succeed you need to look at ways to pitch your business, remember your target audience and constantly review the competition. But are you missing a trick when it comes to marketing? Here are five tips to help you on your way to achieving marketing greatness…

  • Work on your branding

Branding could make or break your business. It can take a significant amount of time to perfect memorable slogans and logos so be patient and keep working at it. During the brainstorming process ask yourself the following-

1) What will appeal to customers about the company?

2) What does the brand represent?

3) Why will customers want to buy from the business?

Don’t under estimate the importance of taking the time to ensure that your logo, slogan and other marketing materials are consistent and recognisable to the target audience. Pay attention to colour schemes and think about what certain colours connote and represent.  Once you come up with a few ideas test them out and conduct surveys to ask your target audience for feedback before rushing into a grand launch.

  • Stress the benefits

Sometimes businesses are so focused on promoting a product and maximising sales that they forget to communicate the true value of the product. Everyone knows good marketing is all about identifying what customers want from a product or service, how it’s branded and analysing it against what competitors are offering. I’ve always found it’s worth going a step further and ensuring that you avoid the common pitfall of communicating the features instead of the benefits. A classic example is, ‘A gold gym membership will entitle you to a one hour induction package and full use of the facilities’.  Here the feature is accessibility to gym facilities. But from the customer’s perspective is the benefit made obvious? The golden rule is to flip the advert over and highlight the benefit. For instance –  ‘A gold gym membership will entitle you to an induction package worth £50 and full use of the facilities, which will help improve your fitness and wellbeing, and contribute to leading a healthy lifestyle’.  Everyone likes the idea of having something for free – here it’s the £50 induction package which is included in the deal. By including the information about improved fitness and a healthy lifestyle customers can identify how the service will benefit them.

  • Build a solid customer base

Building up a positive relationship with customers is essential. Don’t do anything that may jeopardise your reputation by telling lies or exaggerating about your products or services. Customers appreciate honesty and like to feel valued so remember to communicate with them. It can help to connect to them on social media and start conversations about their customer experience or encourage them to sign up to receive weekly offers and send them updates about your business. Consider loyalty schemes and promotional offers to help drive sales.

  • Competitive sales strategy

Invest the time in boosting your credibility and focus on having the edge over competitors by boasting about your success. A good way to do this is to put together case studies and testimonials from clients who have used your products. Consider ways of promoting this, whether it’s on your website, via social media or on your blog. You may want to expand your horizons and turn this into a success story for the press.

  • Keep your friends close and your competitors closer

A competitor analysis is a very important tool in terms of becoming commercially aware of who your competitors are. It helps to put things into perspective and may help you to identify scope for progression and identify potential competitors or future partnerships. A simple way to conduct a competitor analysis can be done by:

  1. Defining the nature and scope of your business and industry
  2. Identifying who your competitors are and what they can offer
  3. Outlining who your customers are and what benefits you can offer them
  4. Identifying the strengths and weaknesses of your competitors
  5. Ranking each of your competitors on a scale determined by key success factors

For more information, broaden your marketing knowledge or access resources visit The Chartered Institute of Marketing website.

Lights, Camera, Action! – How to Handle Media Attention

Lights, Camera, Action! – How to Handle Media Attention

Coming up with a new product or service for your business isn’t always easy. At times it may feel like searching for a needle in a haystack. You will search your brain over and over again to find that one thing you’re looking for – something unique and innovative. You will find yourself investing all of your time and energy into making this one idea a great success, and while you do your mind will wonder back and forth wondering whether it will work and how to win your customers over. At times your idea may take off quicker than expected and everyone wants to know more about your product. It’s time to launch it and suddenly you find yourself in the spotlight at the centre of media attention…

“What is so unique about this product?” Or “Why should customers invest their money in this product?” are some of the questions that journalists and critics will all be racing to the front row of the press conference to ask you. While you may be thinking it’s great that you’ve managed to gain so much media attention, you don’t want to say anything wrong that may risk damaging the reputation of your company, or become the victim of a journalist who puts a negative spin on the story. And before you even have time to think, fear gets the better of you – your heart starts pounding, you begin to experience a rollercoaster of emotions and adrenalin pumps through your entire body. But be assured, it doesn’t all have to be blood, sweat and tears – the key is knowing how to handle media attention.

I’ve worked in a marketing and publicity role for over three years now. Over time I have been responsible for promoting the company and raising awareness of the profile within the local community. I gained a real sense of satisfaction every time I managed to gain positive press coverage within the media. It meant that we were gaining exposure and as a result meeting fundamental aims and objectives. I worked on various projects at the same time and my workload would vary from networking with other businesses and clients, managing the company’s social media presence, writing press releases, dealing with media enquiries and managing various marketing campaigns.

For one particular project, it was my responsibility to recruit local businesses and get them to sign up to an entrepreneurial scheme where they mentor young people through a business venture. I found that the most effective marketing tool was gaining media coverage. I learned the importance of being prepared when it comes to media interviews. I’d advise anyone who has a media interview to do their homework in advance so you always have the upper hand and avoid a story spiralling out of control.  Here’s how to handle a media interview…

  • Promote key messages

The journalist will already have a number of questions to ask you and an idea of the direction they want to take the interview. Remember to not let this be a distraction and focus on the main point of the interview – to promote. Preparation is vital so think about statistics, case studies and evidence to back up your claims. It’s important to highlight the positive attributes of your company.  Remember to sound as natural as possible.

  • Make a good impression 

Answer questions clearly and concisely. Aim to sound positive and enthusiastic. Shake off any nerves that you have beforehand so you remain calm, composed and confident throughout. Presentation is key so make sure you convey positive body language and dress in a professional manner.

  • Answer tactfully

Answering “No comment” provides the journalist with an opportunity to write a story which builds to existing speculation and rumours. It also makes them think that you are hiding something so try to explain why you are unable to answer the question. Perhaps you are waiting for results from a survey and cannot share the outcome until a later date. Never lie in an interview either.

  • Treat the interview as if it’s live

Imagine that you only have one take so answer as best as you can first time round. You may want to gain advice from media professionals to help prepare for anticipated questions and the best way to answer. Mosaic Media Training offer support in this area. Never go into an interview unprepared and remember that it may help to hold a mock press conference beforehand.

  • Do your research

It’s best to know what you’re going into so ask the journalist for details beforehand. You may be able to request the bank of questions that the journalist will be asking you on the day in advance of the interview which will help with your preparation. Press conferences come in all shapes and sizes so the more you know the better prepared you will feel. Try to find out how many journalists and reporters you will expect on the day and prepare media packs for them.

What have your experiences of engaging with the media been? Do you have any additional tips to share with other businesses? Don’t forget to leave a comment below or let us know via social media.

How to Motivate and Retain Staff

How to Motivate and Retain Staff

As it can be challenging for managers to motivate and retain employees within the workforce, it comes as no surprise that, a recent survey by Approved Index reveals half of workers have left a job because of a bad boss.

One of Britain’s highest profile billionaires once said, “Happiness if the secret ingredient for successful businesses. If you have a happy company it will be invincible.” Yes, these are words of wisdom from Richard Branson. Feeling inspired?

So one may ask the intriguing question – What is the secret to keeping employees happy?

Well first of all it’s important to keep employees satisfied and engaged for many reasons. First of all a happy workforce helps to promote a healthy work culture, keeps employees focused and can help to improve results.

“Happiness if the secret ingredient for successful businesses. If you have a happy company it will be invincible” – Richard branson

As a manager you may ask yourself:

  • How am I showing employees I appreciate their work?
  • How can I maximise their potential?
  • Are employees showing signs of satisfaction?
  • What do employees like and dislike about working here?

With all this in mind, ways of keeping them happy and engaged include:

  • Team building exercises

There are two ways to approach this. First, you could introduce a social outing or planned activity. The idea is to help ‘break the ice’ and give employees an opportunity to interact and get to know each other. A friendly non-working environment will help set the scene. Perhaps you could treat them to a theatre performance or take them for a nice meal. Second, consider simple office exercises and games. With ‘Question time’ for instance, employees could ask one another – What is your greatest strength? Or what management style do you prefer? This simple exercise provides co-workers with the chance to learn more about each other and encourages them to communicate.

  • Encourage them to have fun on the job

You could encourage all employees to decorate their work area to develop a theme which reflects their interests and what the company has to offer. Particular colours and décor could help to create a positive mood and working environment. This will help staff to take their mind off the seriousness of their workload. Remember, people who are in good spirits are more likely to be productive.

  • Employee awards

A scheme where customers or employees make nominations for the ‘employee of the month’ can give staff a great boost and increased feeling of satisfaction. It will also help to motivate others in the team to push themselves to ensure they are working to the best of their ability. If someone in your team has been doing an excellent job and achieved a professional victory you could consider hosting an annual awards ceremony to congratulate them for their good work and recognise their achievements.

  • Give positive feedback

Simple things such as smiling or saying ‘thank you’ can go a long way. Remember to praise employees for their hard work. Give positive feedback as much as you can to show your appreciation. At times you may need to give constructive feedback so remember to be specific by giving examples and being encouraging so they know what steps they need to take to improve.

Have any of these tips worked for you? We’d love to hear about your experiences of motivating and retaining employees so don’t forget to leave a comment below.

To find out more information, gain advice and access other services for employers and employees visit the Acas website.

Essential tips for a captivating Twitter account

Essential tips for a captivating Twitter account

So you’ve done the hard work by setting up your business but what’s the next big thing? And how do you get your business off the ground? The attention your business profile could gain from having a social media presence could attract a mass of customers, develop your brand and help to increase sales.

 

With over 302 million monthly active users on Twitter it comes as no surprise that this global communication platform is the gateway to marketing success. Here are some essentials for a captivating Twitter account.

  • Customise your profile – First impressions always count so take the time to ensure that your Twitter profile portrays both a professional and positive message before launching it. Use your Twitter bio to include a link to your website to encourage traffic. Don’t underestimate the importance of writing a statement about what your business does and what products are available. You’ve only got a short space to grab the attention of your audience so don’t sell yourself short. Be creative and include your slogan if you have one, as well as your company logo for your profile picture or cover photo.

 

  • Attract followers – You will need to develop your Twitter style and show that you can actively engage with your audience. A successful Twitter account is one in which there is a lot of activity. Use a scheduling tool like TweetDeck to keep on top of posting tweets on a frequent basis. Remember retweets are more likely to be seen and noticed by more people so don’t forget to ask for retweets and start a conversation with your audience. Ways of keeping them interested could include posting a quiz or poll. You can also conduct some market research at the same time by asking them to comment on one of your latest products to gather useful feedback and an insight into their consumer habits.

 

  • Make it personal – Kindness and gratitude for a customer’s business will ensure that they have a positive and memorable experience so make them feel valued. Do this by mentioning them, following them back and saying ‘thank you for their business’. Encourage them to share feedback about your products and post pictures to create a big buzz around what you have to offer. Customers like the ‘exclusive’ factor so be sure to post a picture or video of your business behind the scenes.

 

  • Popular tweets – Tweet about hot topics and post interesting content. All things including infographics, links to blogs, videos, podcasts and pictures are likely to grab the attention of your audience. Look at what topics are trending and use this as a way to find out what others are talking about and get involved with the conversation. Remember to spread your tweets out and use hash tags to emphasise the important part of a conversation as well as key messages about your business.

 

  • Become the expert – Hosting or joining a Twitter Chat is a great way to get involved with other users about a predetermined topic. It’s your chance to engage with your audience and others in your industry. You could bring in guest speakers to comment on a current topic and show your audience that you’re the expert in your field. You may find it useful to build a list and include customers, people in your industry and those who inspire you in business. Use this to network your way to success.
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