Put the MARKETING into your Twitter

twitter_dynamicsIs your Twitter programme something that you do when you get a moment or is it an integrated element of your business marketing? Many people we speak to see Twitter (and other Social Media) as something they need to do in their business without really considering the impact on their business. They don’t really try to use Twitter as a core marketing communications tool. They just do it! At the heart of marketing are 2 issues:

  1. What is your key business proposition?
  2. Who is your target market?

The marketing process is then about effectively communicating your proposition to your market. Twitter is really nothing more than a communications channel; a tool for getting your message out and with this in mind, you need to be thinking about what it is you are saying (do your tweets reinforce and promote your business ‘message’?) and second, are you communicating with your target market? The Twitter process is slightly complicated by having both followers (who listen to what you have to say) and following (who you listen to) There is much discussion about the whole subject of ratios when it comes to Twitter followers. Some people think that If they have many followers but follow few people themselves then they will be perceived as ‘important’. Conversely people who follow many people but have few following them may see themselves as ‘in the know’, the person with their finger on the pulse! But just what is the perfect balance between followers and following numbers? Particularly from a business marketing point of view. Here are my own ideas into the subject… When it comes down to it, a business will focus on 2 types of contact:

  1. Contacts who can benefit from you – You add value to them.
  2. Contacts who benefit you – They add value to you

On Twitter it’s no different, and in simple terms

  • People follow you (Followers) Because you add value to them
  • You follow others (Following) Because they add value to you

If you are running Twitter as part of your marketing, there should really only be 3 reasons why you would follow someone:

  1. They generate quality, relevant content that you think your followers will find valuable.
  2. They are in your target market, so they add value to your business by being potential clients. If your targeting is correct, these people should also see the potential for you to add value to their business, and so should be likely to follow you as well.
  3. They also engage with your target market, and so have the potential to amplify your message.

Take this to its conclusion and (assuming that your aim is to engage with your target market rather than simply to amass a large follower base) your aim should be to grow the People where you add value to each other. From a marketing perspective, this is the sweet spot, and is where your business opportunities are likely to come from.  This is particularly true for Business to Business So what does this mean in terms of your Twitter strategy?

  1. Follow only people who add value to your business (see above)
  2. Rather than simply talking about yourself, focus on delivering content  that adds value to your customers/potential customers.  Remember – this will be about more than you and your business!
  3. Know who you are trying to reach, and measure success through your ability to attract these as contacts followers
  4. Monitor engagement in the sweet spot where there is synergy, this is where your best business should come from.

Follow these 4 simple rules, and can start to call your Twitter activity “Marketing” If you want to put more Marketing into your Twitter activity – get in touch

3 Social Media trends from 2014 plus 3 predictions for 2015.

Trends come and go, what was popular in March is soon forgotten about come May but always comes back round eventually to be just as important once more. In this piece I discuss some Social Media business trends that were apparent in 2014 as well as ideas that will be upcoming in 2015.

20mobiletrends14 Trends

During 2014, we saw some significant development in business use across Social Media. I have identified what I believe to be 3 of the most prominent. From productive content streams to being mobile friendly, businesses are learning that they need to keep on top of the latest movements in order to stay competitive.

Content streams

Businesses increased their focus on creating efficient ways of sourcing content to use in marketing programmes. The success of a content marketing campaign is obviously highly dependent on finding original, stimulating content on a consistent, timely basis. Building up a pool of reliable sites that you often visit, proved paramount in 2014. If you are looking to develop activity in this area, you might find this post from our archive interesting – 5 tips on where to find great content

Mobile Friendly

Unsurprisingly, mobile friendly content went from a luxury to a must have for any business wishing to succeed. In 2014, 50.3% of E-commerce traffic was from a mobile device. The majority of this traffic will use Social Media. Therefore if a business wasn’t focusing efforts on making Social Media a priority in 2014, they certainly should be doing in 2015.

Blogging got bigger

Blogging became increasingly important to businesses wanting to market on Social Media. People became even more engrossed in reading their favourite blogs. During 2014, 68% of marketers said they planned to increase the amount of original content they released in their blogs (Source Social Media examiner). This means that blogging will continue to grow further as people continue to jump on the bandwagon. So that’s whats been happening in the last 12 months, but now for the dangerous process of trying to make predictions for the next 12!

2015 Predictions

During 2015, investments by businesses in Social Media will increase. For a small business,  is likely not to be solely a financial investment, as investing time and effort into Social Media, as well as gaining an understanding into why you are getting involved will also pay dividends. The following areas will rise to further prominence during 2015.

Video

The importance of video will increase, with consumers wanting quick and concise information. This is an area where Instagram will begin to excel, in so much as it offers a platform where businesses can showcase their products and services to over (300 million active monthly users.

Customer Service

Customers are using Social Media (particularly Twitter and Facebook) increasingly to ask questions, make complaints or give feedback. Engaging with the customer base through Social Media in 2015 will become paramount due to the number of people who now use it, and their desire to communicate in this way. Business who embrace this process are likely to be rewarded by increased exposure and customer loyalty.

Analytics

Social Media is growing, fact. Companies have to embrace it. In order to monitor their success, there will be an increase in the number of companies that use analytics  tools to monitor their campaigns against their business objectives. People want to see results and systems that compile data across multiple Social Media accounts will prove popular. One analysis tool that we use, and which is proving very useful is True Social Metrics. We will be looking into this subject in more detail in the not too distant future so watch this space

I think I've found a use for a 3D printer!

Being a bit of a gadget fan, the idea of playing with a 3D printer is appealing, but so far, although I have seen them used for some interesting applications I feel the ‘means’ is justifying the ‘end’, rather than the other way around. Last week I saw this video for the first time and I was mesmerised. Take a carefully designed and 3D printed object and rotate it under a strobe light…. Not exactly marketing but definitely engaging: http://vimeo.com/116582567

Marketing Engagement – The real figures might surprise you.

How many time have I heard it quoted:

Oh, you should expect about a 1% response

engagementOne percent has often been used as a convenient, and somewhat throwaway, response rate figure where people really don’t know what to expect. And anyway, how do you define response? Is it someone who reads your message (even though you don’t always know this)  or someone who send you an order? As a general rule, I think it’s fair to say that, for many businesses, the response they get from their marketing isn’t as much as they might hope even if, on reflection, the results achieved do make the investment of time and money worthwhile. But what this really means is that most of us don’t know what to expect? As an example, we recently sent an initial e-newsletter on behalf of a new client to their carefully selected key customers and they expressed surprise when only half of the recipients  open the email. Why don’t they all read it, we are asked?

Marketing in the real world

The fact is that people are busy and have lots of calls on their time and sometimes, reading your e-newsletter is down the priority list – even though they think that you and your products/services are wonderful! In the real world, a 50% open rate is VERY good – our best ever is around 80% but that’s another story! In fact, actual marketing response rates are surprisingly low. Here are figures from slideshare, a B2B social media platform (where real engagement stats are relatively easy to come by) that may surprise you: Slideshare is not perhaps one of the leading social media sites but nonetheless it is very popular across B2B markets as a platform for getting presentations onto the web. If you have ever wanted to get a PowerPoint presentation onto your website, take a look! Anyway, slideshare has had well over 10 million presentations uploaded and some people claim over 1 million views of their own presentation! Last month I received an email promoting the top 5 presentations on Slideshare over the past few weeks. These 5 had clocked up a total of 420,000 views but what surprised me was the modest level of active engagement that these views had generated. LIKES  – Not to hard to click a button to say you like something, you might think. Yet the 420,000 ‘Views’ generated only 1411 ‘Likes’ – thats around 1 in 300. Comments – OK leaving a comment takes a bit more effort but the 420,000 ‘Views’ generated a grand total of 26 comments. A ‘comment’ rate of 0.006%

Coming back to my email example

Analysis suggests that a typical B2B e-newsletter is read by 10-20% of recipients but if you look at readership, at some point, in a series of emails over time, the percentage of a list that engages with you is normally closer to 50%. So maybe having 50% of your contacts reading an individual e-newsletter isn’t so bad!

And the point is…

Real-world marketing response rates are low, but they are there, and when it comes down to it, response quality is more important than response quantity. But your marketing must work for you! To get maximum long term engagement with your market, your marketing communication should be sustained so make sure you can stick at it. Regular communication with your contacts will help them get to know you and the more they feel they know you, the more confident they will be to engage with you – and it is on this confidence that strong and long-lasting customer relationships are forged.

My first week as a Social Media Apprentice.

Social-Media-GraphicWhat’s Social Media?”

That’s the question my Grandmother asked me when I got the job as a Social Media Apprentice at BSA Marketing. A lengthy conversation later, I had explained exactly what fell under the Social Media umbrella and what working within it entailed. A few months down the line and I was starting “one of them modern, new-fangled jobs”. So Monday 5th rolls around and working life kicked off, with an early (for me!) 9:00am start. I don’t really get nervous or apprehensive, if anything I was slightly excited.  I had a briefing from Duncan as to what my focuses should be over the coming weeks and months. This was followed by an introduction to the office, where I would be situated and how to work the coffee machine (which is alarmingly loud by the way). I started by researching some of our current clients in order to familiarise myself with the sort of people I will be working with. I collated a few bits of information on each client, checking out their Social Media feeds and websites. Next on the agenda was updating my LinkedIn account, naturally important when working within Social Media. I have also been tasked with sourcing useful sites from which we can find content to put onto our various Social Media feeds, quickly growing to appreciate how important interesting content is, as it is key to positive interaction. Also wanting to bring #Hashtags into the mix, I have been creating a list of relevant, trending tags for the growing list of accounts in my portfolio. The highlight of my week was undoubtedly attending a meeting with a client based in Rochdale. A brilliant experience for me, as I got to see exactly what happens in the real world. I tried to contribute with my thoughts when appropriate and I have since got to work on developing their LinkedIn presence and working with colleagues to create an action plan as to how to enhance their Social Media presence over the coming months. Even at less than a week in my activity is already having a positive effect on my first live client – Business Peak District (@BusinessPD). I have engaged with followers, grown the follower count, and our content listed on the front page of a local business blog. It’s been an enjoyable process also, connecting with local businesses and seeing what is happening around the Peak District area. The saying “Do what you love, love what you do” is perhaps the most apt thing I can say. I am working with Social Media and I’m most certainly enjoying it. There’s been plenty of novelty in my first week too, actually writing things in my diary, my own desk and computer, a new works email address. Most importantly however, I’ve had to plan my own lunches! I don’t think I’ll ever wish a weekend away but I certainly won’t be dreading Monday morning.  

Social Media or Email Marketing?

Social media or email marketingSocial Media + Email Marketing. A marriage made in heaven or a marriage of convenience?

At their most basic, both email and social media are simply communication channels through which you can contact your audience. How we use them is key and there is no question that used together, the results can be greater than the ‘sum of the parts’. However, what should you use? Social Media or Email marketing? You shouldn’t just think more is better and simply sign up for every social media account you can find and try to use them all. If you are aiming to build real relationships with your target market, quality is at least as important as quantity. Email marketing opens up real opportunities for businesses to connect with their customer base. Communication options include newsletters, press releases, and incentives that will attract traffic to a website, like discounts on services and/or products. This marketing activity can be expanded by taking the message to social media platforms (such as Twitter) that can leverage an email campaign to see it distributed beyond your mailing list. There is greater scope to personalise your email messages but you will always be limited to communicating with those people you have on your database. The hierarchical nature of Social Media offers great potential to spread you message more widely as your friends tell their friends. This sounds like it could be a great combination but it is easy to forget:

What’s In It For Me?

If people who receive your messages don’t find them interesting and relevant, they will switch off. Just because you have something you want to say doesn’t mean people will want to listen….

The Ripple Effect

An email campaign certainly reaches your email subscribers and can even be forwarded to friends and colleagues; however the message gains real momentum when a company’s subscribers use their social media to pass the news on to their followers. This ripple effect then becomes never ending. However, don’t just try to engage with all your audience on all of their social media presence. This post gives some advice.

Joined-up

Combining social media and email marketing to spread your communication across different channels is also a good way to distribute information without bombarding contacts with emails. Where it would probably be frustrating to find multiple emails from the same company in your inbox, social media followers want to know what a company is up to. Mixing things up is especially important; linking to a number of different items – within reason – will attract different groups of people and help spread the word about a company’s latest news. Irrespective of which platforms might work for you, it’s paramount for a company to create a healthy relationship between email marketing and social media; together, these two marketing methods can generate a powerful awareness about your products and services while keeping the company connected to both existing and potential customers.

New Year – New Plans – 5 ideas to move your business forward in 2015

2015planningHave you come back to work from the Christmas break inspired to take your business forward? For many people, New Year is a key time for reflection and planning but it is very easy to come back to work with the best of intentions only to find things slipping back into the same old routines as day to day demands start to impinge. Over the past few years, I have come up with some ways of keeping focus on planning and development by looking at a specific task. Here are my Top 5 for 2015:

1. Review everyone you have done business with / had enquiries from over the last year – are you still in contact?

Keeping in touch with contacts is my top tip. Email and social media make it easy and inexpensive (or free!) to keep in touch and building relationships with contacts who know you and can give you more work is the best way to grow business.

2. Sort your customers in order of billed revenue – now sort in order of the effort you put in – Do they match? Should you be looking to lose some of your ‘hard work’ clients?

Recognising that not every customer is a good customer was a big lesson for me. If you are confident in your processes to bring on new business, it can be easier to let some customers go if they don’t really fit your requirements. Even if you aren’t so confident, losing one or two smaller clients who take up a disproportionate amount of your time can free up a surprising number of hours to focus on building more ‘good’ clients

3. List your 3 big successes from 2014 – what can you learn and apply in 2015

Sometimes, good things happen and you don’t even notice! Have a think about your high points from the past year. How did they happen? Was there something you can take into 2015 and repeat the success?

4. List your 3 big disappointments from 2014 – what can you learn and apply in 2015

Hopefully this will be harder because you’ve had more successes than disappointments, but sometimes you can learn more from a negative than a positive. By staying confident and recognising the lessons learnt you can avoid repeating the experience.

5. What 2 new ideas are you going to introduce in 2015 – set a plan to make them happen

So far I have concentrated on taking what has happened in 2014 and benefitting in 2015 but what about those ideas that you have had at the back of your mind for ages but never get around to doing anything about? Make 2015 the year when you put at least 2 of them into action. And finally… Running your own business can be very challenging, but also very rewarding. Many SME business owners spend up to 70% of their waking hours focussed on their business, so don’t forget to try to enjoy yourself!