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Why Social Media?

Without doubt social media marketing is one of the great opportunities for businesses to gain competitive advantage. In most areas of marketing, paradigms have been established and protocols set, but not so in the world of social media marketing. I specialise in helping organisations grasp this opportunity and capitalise on it.

Your organisation might well have the necessary skills to be good, perhaps brilliant, at social media marketing but might not have the confidence or structure to really make things happen. From the outset I work with companies to help them plan, resource and implement stunning (in some cases award winning) social media marketing strategies that gain them more recognition, more customers and more sales. If you already have a working social media marketing function it’s important to polish and refine the results that it gets.

Measurement, planning, analysis are crucial tools to help understand what’s working well and what can be improved. With the right tools in place you will be able to know how many opportunities your social media marketing efforts are creating for your business and how much those are worth to you. Understanding this ROI is crucial if you want to know whether your social media marketing is making you money…or costing you!

If however you’re just starting (or thinking of starting) you might find this overview of Social Media platforms a help.

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With its constantly changing nature and detailed reporting functionality Facebook has become one of the best corporate tools for you to engage with your clients and prospects.

But doesn’t that go against your belief that Facebook is just for photos of friends?

You don’t have to be a megabrand to make use of this incredible platform – everyone can.

But many businesses are still asking “What is Facebook” and “How can I use Facebook for marketing”?

1 in 8 minutes spent online is spent on Facebook, couple that with 900 million active subscribers and you have a site which simply cannot be ignored. Add to this that fact that it’s free and there really is no excuse not to be making use of this opportunity.

With features such as check-in, sponsored stories, polls and apps Facebook has now reached the point where it’s like an internet in its own right and if you’re not there you may be handing a great opportunity to your competitors.

For many businesses Facebook seems to be thought of as a no-go-area because of the horror stories of people losing their jobs and the like. But the reality is that people don’t just go to Facebook for a quick look around they go and stay…and stay…and stay. And because they are comfortable on Facebook they are quite open to listening to your message.

So, if you haven’t already got a corporate page, put aside your own feelings about Facebook and give it a try.

Business benefit: If you drive people to your website, after they’ve looked around they leave. When/if they come back is entirely within their control. You have basically given away the control of your sales process to your prospect. Now contrast that with what happens on Facebook. You encourage them to ‘like’ your page by placing some valuable content in the ‘friends only’ area which is only visible to the visitor once they’ve ‘liked’ your page. From then on you can engage them at your pace. Every time you post something on your wall it will show-up on their timeline. You have retained control of the rhythm of the conversation. This will enable you to be significantly more proactive and structured in how you turn prospects in to clients.

Being clever: Give people something to talk about. On Facebook the average person has 130 friends. If you have 130 likes and you can get each of them to comment on your post/check-in (or interact in any other way) you will be exposed to 16,00 people…for free!

Most common mistake: Thinking that your fans care as much about your business as you do. They don’t! Make sure EVERYTHING that you post adds value to them and rewards them for taking the time to read it.

Top tip: Start now with a business page, upload some content to is and invite all of your friends, colleges, and family to come and “like” it straight away.

What is LinkedIn? – a brief guide to LinkedIn and why you need it.

LinkedIn is the premier business network with 200 million existing members and 2 new members joining every second. LinkedIn offers unrivalled opportunities for gaining credibility through having personal CVs visible, professional endorsements and growing and deepening networks.

Add to this fantastic recruitment possibilities, industry and thought leadership groups, incredible search functions and event planning and booking tools and it’s no wonder LinkedIn is the hot topic for so many businesses.

But as a network it does’t stop there. Because of its largely open functionality Google gives great SEO benefits for your Google visibility. Having a well written, engaging and informative profile is vital as you need to stop potential clients in their tracks and make them reach-out to you. Gaining recommendations will also help prove that you should be taken seriously in your industry.

No longer do you need to ask “What is LinkedIn”…as now you know!

Business benefit: With LinkedIn there are two things that you should think about. 1. Visibility – this is passive, this is about having the best profile that you can. This is about answering questions from passers by so that they can be convinced that you are credible, able to deliver what you say and likable, and 2. Search – the functionality within LinkedIn enables you to identify with great detail who you may want to target. A search for “finance directors’ in ‘retail’ in companies with ‘501-1000 employees’, within ’10 miles’ of a specific postcode will at the very least enable you to accurately identify how big your market is or glean a list of names to call.

Being clever: Cross referencing the text in your profile with information from the Google Keyword Tool will enable you to make sure that you are visible on both LinkedIn and Google for things that people are actually searching for.

Most common mistake: Writing a list of things that you and your business do rather than thinking about what you like to hear when you are buying a product you don’t  understand. Simply saying “we do audits, bookkeeping, annual returns, tax planning” is a bit like a restaurant saying “we bought fish, chicken, cabbage…”.

Top tip: Make sure that your profile is 100% complete so that LinkedIn makes you visible in search results.

What is Google+? – a brief description of G+ and why you use it.

Google Plus (Google+) is the fastest growing network ever, going from a standing start to a little over 100 million members in about 9 months. Google+ offers some  interesting opportunities as a social and business networking tool and does things differently from all of the others.

Where Facebook is great for getting closer to people you already know, G+ is a tool for meeting new people and getting to know them.

G+ is a really easy network to use and with seamless integration with other Google products (YouTube, docs etc) and particularly Google search, your visibility on the internet will increase enormously.

With the “hangout” function there is a very straightforward way to turn a visitor into somebody that you can have a meeting with instantly, and you can even add additional people in to that meeting straight from within G+.

So perhaps more than any other network, G+ is an online version of a networking meeting where you can introduce yourself to people, get to know them and begin to forge a relationship – quickly and efficiently.

The business benefit: As a new network that is still in its infancy new features and functionality are being added all the time and for early adopters there is a real opportunity to start to gain traction here before ‘everyone’ arrives.

Being clever: Stake your claim and be one of the first. As yet there seems to be no etiquette or ‘way that things are done’ so you can potentially grab prominence.

Most common mistake: Thinking that it’s too early to be involved as it’s not yet a common platform.

Top tip: Create both a personal and a business page then follow some interesting people and see what they have to say.

Twitter is the biggest of the ‘microblogging’ services in the world with 250 million members. The most popular question for people to ask is “what use is 140 characters?”

and the answer is not much use in isolation, however, this is not what Twitter’s for. 140 characters is no good for telling a story (usually) but it is ample space for a teaser and a link to the full article. The great strength of Twitter is that it is a “real-time” new network.

What does this mean? Well, if you were stuck in traffic on the M25 ‘Googling’ the hold-up would be no help at all as the results would include articles written several years ago on subjects such as widening the carriageways and Christmas fog problems…

Searching on Twitter however would deliver the most recently added things such as “broken down lorry at junction 15” so you would be much more likely to find the information that you wanted – you could then share this with your followers so they may be able to avoid the hold-up.

The business benefit:  Well, if you find some interesting news (or indeed have some interesting news) and want to share this amongst your followers this may well be the platform for it. Like the network updates bit on LinkedIn/Facebook new updates are added to the top of the list pushing older updates down until the disappear from view.

Being clever: ensuring that you are following the right people and reading what they say. Your followers will not be expecting you to originate all of the content you distribute and the best way to find good content is to listen to your network.

Most common mistake: Thinking that they key measure of success is how many followers you have…it isn’t. If 1000 people follow you but you can’t get any of them to visit your website it probably means they aren’t reading (or believing) your tweets. 100 engaged followers who can be mobilised is far better.

Top tip: Begin making yourself visible by reading what others are saying, then commenting when you’ve built-up your confidence.

YouTube is the biggest video sharing site on the web. A staggering 24 hours of new content is uploaded every minute. There are 500 million subscribers and countless additional viewers.

In fact YouTube is also the second largest search engine (after Google itself) so the numbers speak for themselves.

Video is also a really important format for engaging prospects. Recognising that some people want to read a book and some people would rather watch TV is a good analogy to the benefits that YouTube can bring to a business. Seeing a video of someone tells you much more about them than just reading what they’ve written and let’s be honest we’ve all cried at a movie, but very few have cried whilst reading a book – so this format has a huge power.

The Business benefit: It’s an entirely new field to gain visibility in. Videos showsup on the first page of Google. It’s a very powerful format for getting your message across. You can even import the finished video in to LinkedIn (via Slideshare).

Being clever: Keep the video as short as possible. 1 minute max, preferable 30 seconds. Most people have a very short attention span and giving them 4 x 30 second clips is much less daunting than giving them a 2 minute clip.

Most common mistake: Assuming that you need to have a professionally produced video for it to be valuable. YouTube isn’t about making movies it’s about sharing video content. A simple vox-pop video which has been shot on a camcorder will often do the job, just be yourself.

Top tip: Make lost of short videos and embed them in your website for double the visibility.