Have We Reached The End Of Brand Purpose?

Rather than offering solutions to societal needs, brand ‘purpose’ risks becoming a euphemism for ill-conceived CSR campaigns. The Holmes Report’s Alex Brownsell talks to CMOs, including the marketer behind ‘Fearless Girl’, to find out where brands are going wrong. Rema Vasan, EVP and a global client director at MSL and a Cannes Lions 2017 jury […]

The post Have We Reached The End Of Brand Purpose? appeared first on MSLGROUP’s Blog Critical Conversations: Critical Conversations.

8 Twitter Tactics for Small Businesses

Strong hashtag.png

By Adam Rosen

Many businesses want to know what the ‘secret sauce’ is to gaining new followers on Twitter and running a popular, engaging account. The truth is that there is no secret sauce. Every business has its own story to tell to a unique audience. That being said, there are eight key tactics every business, both small and large, should employ on Twitter to get the most out of the platform.

1. Establish a brand personality

Consumers like brands they can relate to. Just because you are running a business doesn’t mean you have to maintain a corporate, buttoned-up approach on social media. Twitter is a chance to let your personality shine through. Have some fun with your Twitter account and don’t shy away from exhibiting a sense of humor. Make yourself stand out from your competitors. Casper, DiGiorno Pizza and Wendy’s are strong examples of brands that have gained notoriety over the years for their Twitter personas.

2. Use relevant hashtags

Studies have shown that tweets with hashtags receive twice as many engagements as tweets without hashtags. Tweeting about trending topics or utilizing popular hashtags within your industry will not only expose your tweets to a lot more users, it will result in more retweets, replies and link/profile clicks. In short, tweeting relevant hashtags improves your discoverability to people who otherwise might not have heard of your company or didn’t know you were on Twitter. Restrict your number of hashtags to 1-2 per tweet, however, as anything more than that can actually decrease engagement.

3. Always reply to customers

The worst thing you can do as a small business is give your customers the impression that you don’t care about them. Almost every tweet to your business, both positive and negative, deserves at least one response. If a customer tweets at you with a compliment or sends a photo of him/her using your product, be sure to thank the person. If a customer has a complaint, whether it is justified or not, make sure to address the person publicly in some manner while trying to take the rest of the discussion offline. Digital marketing guru Jay Baer urges marketers to “hug your haters” in this video for Community Managers. He also published a book on the topic as well.

4. Incorporate User Generated Content

Your current customers have tremendous value for your business. It’s one thing for consumers to view paid advertisements by a brand, it’s another for them to see other people endorsing companies on their own. If a customer tweets at you with a photo of him/her using your product, private message the person asking for permission to repost the picture from the company account with a new caption. Many Twitter users feel a sense of validation and self-gratification when a company uses their photos in official posts and will often share them with friends as a result. If you don’t have a lot of followers who tweet at your handle, you can run Twitter contests seeking out the best User Generated Content (photos, tweet replies, short stories, etc.). Consumers appreciate brands that take the time to single them out on Twitter or refer to them by name in a tweet. 

5. Engage with influencers

For small businesses looking to gain exposure, it is important to identify any influencers (or micro-influencers) who currently use your product or who you think might enjoy using your product. Figuring out a way to get them to tweet about your brand is the best way to increase your organic following. One idea is to send free samples of your product to these people (or offer them your service free of charge) with a note that includes your company name, Twitter handle and official hashtag and encourage them to post a tweet if they enjoyed using it. Klear and Hashtagify are free online tools that can be used to identify top influencers for your brand.

6. Monitor your analytics

Take full advantage of Twitter Analytics to track which types of posts are performing best. Some of the metrics to look at include: engagement rate, link clicks, retweets, likes, and replies. You may also want to look at performance trends in terms of time of day, day of the week, and type of post (text-based, photo, video, etc.) to see what works best for your audience. Other free analytics tools for Twitter include Social Bearing, Followerwonk and Tweriod

7. Use Twitter Advanced Search to find new customers

Twitter Advanced Search is one of the more underutilized tools that Twitter has to offer. Twitter Advanced Search allows you to search for specific keywords, phrases, and hashtags and listen to the conversations that are happening on Twitter. By taking the initiative to strategically listen to what Twitter users are saying about your category or industry, you can make an effort to reach out to these people directly and let them know about your company’s offerings. 

8. Offer value to your customers

All customers understand that at the end of the day, you are a business. However, that doesn’t mean they always want to be pitched. Make sure your Twitter account offers some form of value to your customers and is not just a hard-driving sales tool. Offering value can take place in the form of curating articles from notable experts in the industry, posting funny photos or memes, or offering inspirational quotes (#MotivationalMonday is a popular hashtag). Interacting with your followers on Twitter is about establishing a relationship and building trust. Make your followers feel like friends of the company, not bottom line transactions.

The last piece of advice? Be patient. Don’t get frustrated if you aren’t gaining dozens of likes or hundreds of new followers every week. Be consistent with your approach on Twitter. To paraphrase the movie Field of Dreams, “If you build it (a strong Twitter presence), people will come.”
 

Have questions about your company’s Twitter strategy? Contact the Likeable Media team here.
 


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Eclipse 2017: See all the kooky, silly ways brands are trying to cash in.

Adweek – August 21, 2017

By Kristina Monllos

Corona

Know how to make a pinhole viewer? No? Corona and creative shop Cramer-Krasselt made a cute stop motion video (see it on its Facebook page here) to show you how to make one out of a Corona box. The brand also delivered what it calls “a Corona toast kit” to photographers across the country. The box (see below) includes Corona Extra, eclipse glasses and a countdown clock.

Corona Eclipse Kit
To Read the full article, please visit Adweek.

The post Eclipse 2017: See all the kooky, silly ways brands are trying to cash in. appeared first on Cramer krasselt.

Friday Reading #106

It’s never nice to lose a client, but this week we parted ways with Spotify after 18 months of genuine partnership with lovely clients, creating work we’re very proud of. As the business consolidated their account into a single agency worldwide, we’re not (yet) in a position to manage that. What made the whole process much easier to swallow was the thoroughly classy way Spotify handled it, flying out to the UK to explain why in person. Andrew was so impressed he penned a piece on LinkedIn which seems to have resonated with a few people.


image

Instagram has come a long way since it first appeared in
2010, as co-founder Mike Krieger discusses in this
interview with WIRED
. It’s interesting to see how a simple acorn of an idea
(allowing people to ‘unleash’ their camera rolls) has grown into a social media
giant, and genuinely changed the way in which people capture and share personal
photos. Krieger talks about some of the ways in which they overcame the
initially poor quality of phone cameras (introducing filters, to bridge the gap
between perception and reality) and outlines the system which has allowed the
team to enjoy so much success over the years – a balance between ‘putting out
fires’ and always looking ahead for the next opportunity to push the app
forward.

image

On a related note, what does it take to be a multi-Billion start up in Silicon Valley these days? Seven lines of code? Two brothers from Ireland’s ingenious Stripe platform have revolutionised the payments industry. Taking a simple approach, they are now
running the back ends for Uber, Facebook, and now Amazon – making them overnight
billionaires. The two founders, Patrick and John Collison talk to Bloomberg
about their alternative approach to machismo and self-centered world in Silicon
Valley and the prospects of bringing commerce to every part of the world
through simple technology.

image

It was only last week that password Guru, Bill Burr,
awkwardly admitted that his complex and rather annoying
rules for ‘safer’ passwords may have actually decreased system security, when this
morning, HBO’s Twitter account was at the end of yet another cyber security
scandal. Hacking group, OurMine hacked HBO’s Twitter account and released some
scandalous information about HBO’s hit show, Game of Thrones, causing a frenzy
among GoT lovers. HBO gained access to their account shortly after, but not
before the hackers sent HBO a rather cheeky tweet
using the Game of Thrones
handle stating: “OurMine are here. we are just testing your security. HBO team
please contact us to upgrade the security – ourmine.org -> Contact.

image

One step closed on the path towards making humanity redundant, it’s now possible to create self-healing robots. It’s not quite the T-1000′s terrifying liquid metal yet though – researchers in Brussels have created a robotic hand made from rubbery polymers
with the ability to heal itself when cut or ripped, by simply applying a little heat. Experiments
showed that damage could be healed completely without leaving any weakness
.
Useful in the food industry and important when thinking about prosthesis it
could be the start of something interesting and extremely beneficial.

We’re all familiar with the push to short form video, and it’s a brilliantly effective way to advertise. Asking less of their attention tends to mean people are more likely to stick around. But IKEA are having a go in the opposite direction entirely – creating a 25 minute, leisurely paced film designed to relax a tightly wound student audience with a gentle tour around a bedroom. Beyond the relaxed tone, the film makes use of some interesting neuroscience; autonomous sensory meridian response (ASMR) uses specific tones and visuals to create a relaxing, tingling sensation in the viewer. Luckily for those of us still struggling with that attention span, they’ve also made some 1 minute clips which deliver the same effect. Give it a try, it’s rather nice.

Local nonprofit is targeting Milwaukee teens with ‘Naughty Bags.’

Creativity – August 14, 2017

By Alexandra Jardine

Editor’s Pick

Agency Cramer-Krasselt’s Milwaukee office worked with teen focus groups to create the “Naughty Bag” range [of condoms] for local group Diverse & Resilient, a nonprofit whose mission is to improve the well-being of Wisconsin’s LGBTQ community. Their names include Torpedo Tube, Pork Parka Pecker Poncho,Scuba Gear, Ham Holster and Papa Stopper, and the fun packaging helps illustrate these ideas graphically too.

The branding aims to appeal to teens in the language they use, without being clinical, judgmental or preachy, as existing messages just don’t seem to be getting through to Milwaukee teens. The city has high rates of teen pregnancy and STIs, ranking the #1 city in the country for chlamydia infections and #2 for gonorrhea.

As well as distributing Naughty Bags through their existing free condom program all around Milwaukee, Diverse & Resilient will be making them available for free in community barbershops that will house condom dispensers and also through discreet pickup locations (disguised as newspaper stands) throughout the city.

The post Local nonprofit is targeting Milwaukee teens with ‘Naughty Bags.’ appeared first on Cramer krasselt.

The 2017 Harold Burson Summer Internship Program LAGRANT affiliated Interns Reflect On Their Experiences

For the third year in a row, Burson-Marsteller and The LAGRANT Foundation (TLF) partnered to welcome three talented ethnic minority interns into the Harold Burson Summer Internship (HBSI) Program. The U.S. HBSI Program provides college seniors, recent graduates and graduate students with valuable, real-world agency experience as they work closely with public relations professionals in practice groups and client teams.

Below, interns Kavita Raval, Stephany Rodas and Sydney Tukes reflect on what they found to be the most rewarding components of the HBSI program and what they took away from the experience.

Kavita Raval – Public Affairs & Crisis Practice, Washington, D.C.

My experience this summer as an HBSI intern in the Public Affairs & Crisis Practice has been invaluable to my professional career goals. Through this internship, I was given the opportunity to get a behind-the-scenes look at how successful PR campaigns are managed on local, national, and international scales. By working in the public affairs sector with big-name clients in industries ranging from fnancial services to automotive, I learned how to identify important political influencers and craft integrated communication plans. Furthermore, I now have experience pitching stories to well-known reporters on behalf of my clients as well as managing important stakeholder engagements.

If I had to pick one aspect of the HBSI program that I found most rewarding, it would definitely be connecting one-on-one with the movers and shakers of the PR industry—the professionals who dedicate their careers to upholding the prestigious Burson-Marsteller legacy. It was a great privilege to chat with former White House officials, award-winning news journalists, foreign service experts, and crisis communications professional as they shared their amazing career experiences with us. All of the agency professionals who we met emphasized the importance of becoming great storytellers, as they believed this skill would be crucial to our future success in the public relations industry. I am incredibly thankful for the unique partnership between the LAGRANT Foundation and Burson-Marsteller, as the HBSI program has thoroughly prepared me for a challenging, yet rewarding, career moving forward!

Stephany Rodas – Consumer and Brand Marketing Practice, New York

As I prepare for my final year in graduate school, I am walking away from the HBSI program with a greater passion for the public relations industry. There was no assignment that I was tasked with throughout my time here that did not challenge me. From sitting in on brainstorming sessions to bringing in new business to formulating effective social media strategies for an event activation, there was no task that did not require creativity and strategic thinking. Beyond it all was the unique opportunity to see client-based work come to life – I was a part of a media tour with top-tier outlets, pitched publications to garner additional hits and even conducted a Facebook Live segment with TeenVogue! There was a never a dull moment in the Consumer and Brand Marketing Practice and I am convinced that this internship will propel me forward into my career. I am truly grateful to The LAGRANT Foundation and its partnership with the HBSI program for without them I would not have become a part of such an exciting company!

Sydney Tukes – Corporate and Financial Communications Practice, New York

As a rising senior at Syracuse University’s S.I. Newhouse School of Public Communications, the HBSI program was an invaluable experience. I spent an entire summer surrounded by well-respected and sought-after leaders within the industry. Not only was I able to glean from them, but I also had a chance to cultivate relationships with some of them, and as an intern that is an incredible opportunity.

This summer, I stepped outside my comfort zone. Whether it was pitching to broadcast reporters or juggling multiple deadlines – I was challenged. I was able to learn new skills and incorporate them into client work. It was rewarding to see my ideas and work applied to Fortune 500 companies.

The LAGRANT Foundation and Burson-Marsteller have both played pivotal roles in my professional development. I feel more prepared and ready to pursue a successful career in public relations.

As the summer ends, my time here will be greatly missed.

Social Media Marketing Strategy for SMEs

Social Media Marketing

There are very few organisations that would not benefit from being active in social media marketing – and that includes start-ups and SMEs (small and medium sized enterprises), to whom this article is predominantly aimed. There is no one-size fits all solution when it comes to any form of marketing activity. Different companies have unique needs, and what is right for one, might be wrong for another. Getting the strategy right is, therefore, key. We must always remember that a digital marketing strategy forms part of an overall sales and marketing plan that works in conjunction with the strategic and creative brand proposition to deliver the financial objectives outlined in the business plan. This relationship cannot be stressed enough. All elements ought to be clearly aligned to ensure that an authentic strategy is created.

Core objectives

The first thing to consider, therefore, is what goals you are aiming to achieve. You need to ask yourself as a business what core objectives you wish to deliver through social media marketing. Is it to increase sales? To improve brand awareness and amplify PR opportunities? To generate leads? To stand out from the competition? To provide customer service? To promote products and services? To engage with customers? To encourage repeat purchase and referrals? To showcase intellectual property and thought leadership credentials? To recruit employees, associates, partners and suppliers? And so on. What your goals are does not matter per se– what matters is that you have them, that they are relevant to your business plan, and that they are achievable. Once you have sorted out this stage in the process, you are then able to create a successful social media strategy to deliver them. The goals you set for your business are likely to be determined by a number of different factors, and B2C businesses are likely to have different aims to B2B companies or multi-channel sales distribution models. The value of an average sale, the likelihood of repeat purchase, the opportunity to cross-promote products and services, the time it takes to complete a sales conversion, the size of your business, the volume of your target market, the value of your marketing budget, the demographics and psychographics of prospects/customers, and so on.

Customer demographics

Understanding your customers and identifying core messages to promote your company and the products and services you sell is also critical to the success of your social media marketing plan. Demographics are an important consideration, as these will enable you to qualify and quantify your suspect pool (this is everyone who could potentially become a customer of your organisation), but just as helpful is to look at psychographics – these paint a broader picture into customer hobbies and interests, values and attitudes, and so on. We also like to consider emotional needs combined with rational drivers when developing insights into core propositions as part of the audience profiling process. It should already be known, but your positioning within the marketplace in terms of quality v price will also enable you to understand value statements relevant to organisations wishing to optimise their sales pipeline process.

Competitor research

Researching competitor social media streams is a very efficient way to build your strategy. You can emulate or improve upon what they are doing – and you can also learn from their mistakes too. This approach quickly identifies insights that will provide a foundation for your strategic direction. Competitor research generally takes two forms – manual and automatic. The manual part is personally reviewing various social media platforms, and the automatic part is using online tools to analyse them in a data-driven way. Both have benefits, and should be delivered in conjunction, making sure that the research is undertaken by a suitably qualified person.

Social platforms

Assuming you are starting from scratch, it is of course necessary to decide which social media platforms are best for your business in terms of enabling you to engage with key stakeholders (such as customers, prospects, influencers, bloggers, journalists, potential employees, suppliers, partners, shareholders, and other interested parties). Some of the most popular options include Twitter, Facebook, LinkedIn, Instagram, Pinterest, YouTube, Google +, SlideShare, though you might also wish to add Tumblr and Flickr to the list if you have a specific type of audience or strategic need for sharing content. Some of these platforms are mostly involved with audience engagement (such as Twitter, Facebook and LinkedIn) whilst others are mostly for sharing content (Google +, YouTube, and SlideShare). Instagram and Pinterest are hybrid platforms with benefits which fall across both audience engagement and content sharing, particularly for B2C brands, but also for B2B too.

Resourcing

The next question to consider is resourcing. Regardless of whether you are delivering social media marketing internally through your own people, or externally through a suitably-skilled marketing agency, you need to be realistic about what resources (employee time and marketing budget) you have available, to make sure you are not stretching yourself too thinly across more platforms than you can realistically handle. Best to do one or two well rather than three or four badly. Also, it is worth remembering that social media is one of those things which just about anyone can do, but that does not necessarily mean that they can do it well. The truth is that it is like any other technical discipline – skills are learned and experience is earned through repeated exposure over a sustained period of time. Our advice is to combine internal and external resources to achieve the best possible results. You know your business better than one, so it makes sense that your people are involved in shaping follower strategy, agreeing content plans and delivering tactical campaigns (such as polls and promotions).

Followers

It will come as no surprise that you need to have a follower base for your social media platforms to perform well (unless you are solely using social media platforms as a means for direct advertising to your target market, in which case you don’t theoretically need any followers at all!). Follower numbers are best grown organically, although you can also promote your social media platforms in a number of different ways to fast-track sign-up. Another very important factor to consider is quality. Despite appearances to the contrary, social media should not be thought of as a numbers game. It is all about quality; this is what ensures relevance and credibility. It is very good practice to review your followers every week and remove any that do not seem to fit the bill. But don’t be too harsh when doing this. Only a small percentage of your followers are likely to actually be bona fide customers – unless you are a blue-chip mainstream consumer brand. Many will fall under the guise of being ‘interested parties’ for whom your content is relevant, especially when it comes to SMEs operating in the B2B space.

Engagement

Engagement therefore is a vital consideration. The idea is of course to create content that is likely to be liked, shared or commented on favourably by your followers. Any of these three actions may lead to your post showing up in their feeds, so that your posts are seen by their audiences – this will therefore magnify your exposure to a much wider audience that would otherwise be possible. This is why influencer marketing works well, where people with significant follower numbers of a certain demographic and/or psychographic profile promote your brand for a fee in a way that is engaging to their followers. But engagement is two-way too, which means you have to make sure that you make time to look at other people’s feeds and comment/share their content – and do so in a positive and supportive way (as well as to follow people who follow you, and message people who message you, where appropriate to do so). Positivity and mutuality are the names of the game when it comes to successful commercial social media marketing.

Building relationships

Building relationships demands that one acts in the best possible way. It is easy to get drawn in to negative conversations on social media, as you can no doubt imagine. The best thing to do is to respond politely and positively to negative comments and, if that does not work, to move on and forget about it. Most of us are wise to the fact that there are a few people out there on Twitter and Facebook in particular who are hell-bent on causing conflict and misery. The trick is to remember that their behaviour reflects on them, not on you. We would advocate the setting up of an internal social media marketing policy to make sure that there are guidelines and rules in place for how staff and associates are advised to interact with third parties on social media channels. We recommend that commercial representatives set up “personal-business” social media accounts. This creates a corporate mindset and provides a safety net between work and personal life, with mutual benefits for both parties. Training and ongoing assessment will also keep social media guidelines front of mind, as will including it within performance appraisals, where appropriate to do so.

Integrated approach

It is worth noting that social media marketing often works better when combined with a content marketing strategy and a search engine optimisation (SEO) plan. Social pages should be set up in such a way as to profile your brand to provide a good user experience and to optimise keyword benefits, and any content you create should be rich in high value keywords too – sharing on social media will drive traffic to your website or to where the content is shared (e.g. on SlideShare, Instagram, Pinterest or YouTube). In the latter case, this in turn will provide valuable third-party links back to your website. Therefore, content is also a crucial parameter to the success of your social media plan. Subject matter will in large part be determined by the goals you have set to begin with, and of course the type of business you are, the products you sell, and the make-up of your target audience – the best solution is generally to provide a variety of posts about your own products and services, special promotions, tactical campaigns, third party content, added value/thought leadership/intellectual property, and so on. This content can take the form of blogs, videos, white papers, newsletters, and so on.

Social media advertising

Social media advertising tends to be significantly cheaper than pay-per-click (PPC) advertising on search engines, such as Google AdWords, which makes it an attractive proposition to many businesses. It can be a very successful means of acquiring new customers, generating leads, promoting a new product or service, driving traffic to your website, advertising content where it is hosted on third-party social platforms, encouraging responses to polls and surveys, incentivising referrals, and so on. Social media advertising can be optimised for conversions, measuring cost per acquisition. It can also be highly targeted to match with target audiences by matching against email databases, lookalike audiences and demographic/psychographic/behavioural profiling. Web traffic can be engaged with on an ongoing basis via remarketing, whereby adverts promoting your company, brand, product, service etc. are served up on third party websites to people who have previously visited your website. You can also analyse and potentially identity web visitors in the B2B landscape through lead forensic software in combination with other tools such as Sales Navigator on LinkedIn to optimise business development activities in order to feed your sales pipeline.

Measurement

Measurement is obviously important. Who likes to spend money on anything without knowing where the value is coming from or what the benefit is likely to be? There are lots of things you can analyse on social media. Follower growth. Website traffic. Sales conversion. Just make sure you are measuring KPIs that correlate with your goals. The benefit of measuring performance on a regular and ongoing occasion is to make sure that you are continually improving your strategy. There is always something you can test or try. This is the great benefit of most forms of digital marketing in general – it is very easy to change what you are doing, because you can see evidence straight away as to whether what you are doing is working effectively and efficiently or not.

Tools

There are a number of tools you can use too, to automate the process – such as Sprout Social. But automation is only helpful to a point. We are not robots to the personal touch should not be ignored. If we sense that a feed is automated too much, then we are likely to fall out of love with it. Another tool we use is Sniply, which allows you to show a visual advert linking back to your website when people open links to third party websites, providing incremental quality traffic back to your own website – not just from your followers, but from anyone who clicks on the link (so other people’s followers too).

Next steps

We hope that this article provides you with some useful tips when it comes to developing a social media marketing strategy for your business and that you now have a better idea of the next steps you need to take. If you have any questions, please don’t hesitate to contact Stephen Brown, our head of strategy and planning, at stephen.brown@abacusmarketing.co.uk. We would of course be happy to discuss your marketing requirements in more detail, or meet up for a free two-hour consultation at a venue of your choice.

Social Media Marketing Strategy for SMEs

Social Media Marketing

There are very few organisations that would not benefit from being active in social media marketing – and that includes start-ups and SMEs (small and medium sized enterprises), to whom this article is predominantly aimed. There is no one-size fits all solution when it comes to any form of marketing activity. Different companies have unique needs, and what is right for one, might be wrong for another. Getting the strategy right is, therefore, key. We must always remember that a digital marketing strategy forms part of an overall sales and marketing plan that works in conjunction with the strategic and creative brand proposition to deliver the financial objectives outlined in the business plan. This relationship cannot be stressed enough. All elements ought to be clearly aligned to ensure that an authentic strategy is created.

Core objectives

The first thing to consider, therefore, is what goals you are aiming to achieve. You need to ask yourself as a business what core objectives you wish to deliver through social media marketing. Is it to increase sales? To improve brand awareness and amplify PR opportunities? To generate leads? To stand out from the competition? To provide customer service? To promote products and services? To engage with customers? To encourage repeat purchase and referrals? To showcase intellectual property and thought leadership credentials? To recruit employees, associates, partners and suppliers? And so on. What your goals are does not matter per se– what matters is that you have them, that they are relevant to your business plan, and that they are achievable. Once you have sorted out this stage in the process, you are then able to create a successful social media strategy to deliver them. The goals you set for your business are likely to be determined by a number of different factors, and B2C businesses are likely to have different aims to B2B companies or multi-channel sales distribution models. The value of an average sale, the likelihood of repeat purchase, the opportunity to cross-promote products and services, the time it takes to complete a sales conversion, the size of your business, the volume of your target market, the value of your marketing budget, the demographics and psychographics of prospects/customers, and so on.

Customer demographics

Understanding your customers and identifying core messages to promote your company and the products and services you sell is also critical to the success of your social media marketing plan. Demographics are an important consideration, as these will enable you to qualify and quantify your suspect pool (this is everyone who could potentially become a customer of your organisation), but just as helpful is to look at psychographics – these paint a broader picture into customer hobbies and interests, values and attitudes, and so on. We also like to consider emotional needs combined with rational drivers when developing insights into core propositions as part of the audience profiling process. It should already be known, but your positioning within the marketplace in terms of quality v price will also enable you to understand value statements relevant to organisations wishing to optimise their sales pipeline process.

Competitor research

Researching competitor social media streams is a very efficient way to build your strategy. You can emulate or improve upon what they are doing – and you can also learn from their mistakes too. This approach quickly identifies insights that will provide a foundation for your strategic direction. Competitor research generally takes two forms – manual and automatic. The manual part is personally reviewing various social media platforms, and the automatic part is using online tools to analyse them in a data-driven way. Both have benefits, and should be delivered in conjunction, making sure that the research is undertaken by a suitably qualified person.

Social platforms

Assuming you are starting from scratch, it is of course necessary to decide which social media platforms are best for your business in terms of enabling you to engage with key stakeholders (such as customers, prospects, influencers, bloggers, journalists, potential employees, suppliers, partners, shareholders, and other interested parties). Some of the most popular options include Twitter, Facebook, LinkedIn, Instagram, Pinterest, YouTube, Google +, SlideShare, though you might also wish to add Tumblr and Flickr to the list if you have a specific type of audience or strategic need for sharing content. Some of these platforms are mostly involved with audience engagement (such as Twitter, Facebook and LinkedIn) whilst others are mostly for sharing content (Google +, YouTube, and SlideShare). Instagram and Pinterest are hybrid platforms with benefits which fall across both audience engagement and content sharing, particularly for B2C brands, but also for B2B too.

Resourcing

The next question to consider is resourcing. Regardless of whether you are delivering social media marketing internally through your own people, or externally through a suitably-skilled marketing agency, you need to be realistic about what resources (employee time and marketing budget) you have available, to make sure you are not stretching yourself too thinly across more platforms than you can realistically handle. Best to do one or two well rather than three or four badly. Also, it is worth remembering that social media is one of those things which just about anyone can do, but that does not necessarily mean that they can do it well. The truth is that it is like any other technical discipline – skills are learned and experience is earned through repeated exposure over a sustained period of time. Our advice is to combine internal and external resources to achieve the best possible results. You know your business better than one, so it makes sense that your people are involved in shaping follower strategy, agreeing content plans and delivering tactical campaigns (such as polls and promotions).

Followers

It will come as no surprise that you need to have a follower base for your social media platforms to perform well (unless you are solely using social media platforms as a means for direct advertising to your target market, in which case you don’t theoretically need any followers at all!). Follower numbers are best grown organically, although you can also promote your social media platforms in a number of different ways to fast-track sign-up. Another very important factor to consider is quality. Despite appearances to the contrary, social media should not be thought of as a numbers game. It is all about quality; this is what ensures relevance and credibility. It is very good practice to review your followers every week and remove any that do not seem to fit the bill. But don’t be too harsh when doing this. Only a small percentage of your followers are likely to actually be bona fide customers – unless you are a blue-chip mainstream consumer brand. Many will fall under the guise of being ‘interested parties’ for whom your content is relevant, especially when it comes to SMEs operating in the B2B space.

Engagement

Engagement therefore is a vital consideration. The idea is of course to create content that is likely to be liked, shared or commented on favourably by your followers. Any of these three actions may lead to your post showing up in their feeds, so that your posts are seen by their audiences – this will therefore magnify your exposure to a much wider audience that would otherwise be possible. This is why influencer marketing works well, where people with significant follower numbers of a certain demographic and/or psychographic profile promote your brand for a fee in a way that is engaging to their followers. But engagement is two-way too, which means you have to make sure that you make time to look at other people’s feeds and comment/share their content – and do so in a positive and supportive way (as well as to follow people who follow you, and message people who message you, where appropriate to do so). Positivity and mutuality are the names of the game when it comes to successful commercial social media marketing.

Building relationships

Building relationships demands that one acts in the best possible way. It is easy to get drawn in to negative conversations on social media, as you can no doubt imagine. The best thing to do is to respond politely and positively to negative comments and, if that does not work, to move on and forget about it. Most of us are wise to the fact that there are a few people out there on Twitter and Facebook in particular who are hell-bent on causing conflict and misery. The trick is to remember that their behaviour reflects on them, not on you. We would advocate the setting up of an internal social media marketing policy to make sure that there are guidelines and rules in place for how staff and associates are advised to interact with third parties on social media channels. We recommend that commercial representatives set up “personal-business” social media accounts. This creates a corporate mindset and provides a safety net between work and personal life, with mutual benefits for both parties. Training and ongoing assessment will also keep social media guidelines front of mind, as will including it within performance appraisals, where appropriate to do so.

Integrated approach

It is worth noting that social media marketing often works better when combined with a content marketing strategy and a search engine optimisation (SEO) plan. Social pages should be set up in such a way as to profile your brand to provide a good user experience and to optimise keyword benefits, and any content you create should be rich in high value keywords too – sharing on social media will drive traffic to your website or to where the content is shared (e.g. on SlideShare, Instagram, Pinterest or YouTube). In the latter case, this in turn will provide valuable third-party links back to your website. Therefore, content is also a crucial parameter to the success of your social media plan. Subject matter will in large part be determined by the goals you have set to begin with, and of course the type of business you are, the products you sell, and the make-up of your target audience – the best solution is generally to provide a variety of posts about your own products and services, special promotions, tactical campaigns, third party content, added value/thought leadership/intellectual property, and so on. This content can take the form of blogs, videos, white papers, newsletters, and so on.

Social media advertising

Social media advertising tends to be significantly cheaper than pay-per-click (PPC) advertising on search engines, such as Google AdWords, which makes it an attractive proposition to many businesses. It can be a very successful means of acquiring new customers, generating leads, promoting a new product or service, driving traffic to your website, advertising content where it is hosted on third-party social platforms, encouraging responses to polls and surveys, incentivising referrals, and so on. Social media advertising can be optimised for conversions, measuring cost per acquisition. It can also be highly targeted to match with target audiences by matching against email databases, lookalike audiences and demographic/psychographic/behavioural profiling. Web traffic can be engaged with on an ongoing basis via remarketing, whereby adverts promoting your company, brand, product, service etc. are served up on third party websites to people who have previously visited your website. You can also analyse and potentially identity web visitors in the B2B landscape through lead forensic software in combination with other tools such as Sales Navigator on LinkedIn to optimise business development activities in order to feed your sales pipeline.

Measurement

Measurement is obviously important. Who likes to spend money on anything without knowing where the value is coming from or what the benefit is likely to be? There are lots of things you can analyse on social media. Follower growth. Website traffic. Sales conversion. Just make sure you are measuring KPIs that correlate with your goals. The benefit of measuring performance on a regular and ongoing occasion is to make sure that you are continually improving your strategy. There is always something you can test or try. This is the great benefit of most forms of digital marketing in general – it is very easy to change what you are doing, because you can see evidence straight away as to whether what you are doing is working effectively and efficiently or not.

Tools

There are a number of tools you can use too, to automate the process – such as Sprout Social. But automation is only helpful to a point. We are not robots to the personal touch should not be ignored. If we sense that a feed is automated too much, then we are likely to fall out of love with it. Another tool we use is Sniply, which allows you to show a visual advert linking back to your website when people open links to third party websites, providing incremental quality traffic back to your own website – not just from your followers, but from anyone who clicks on the link (so other people’s followers too).

Next steps

We hope that this article provides you with some useful tips when it comes to developing a social media marketing strategy for your business and that you now have a better idea of the next steps you need to take. If you have any questions, please don’t hesitate to contact Stephen Brown, our head of strategy and planning, at stephen.brown@abacusmarketing.co.uk. We would of course be happy to discuss your marketing requirements in more detail, or meet up for a free two-hour consultation at a venue of your choice.

Trends In Content: 05 Twitter’s lonely, voice hacking and reputation vs. revenue

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Image source: Daily Dot

TREND: Twitter’s got no new friends

Twitter was on the out. Then the Trump presidential campaign happened and changed everything. He pretty much single-handedly gave Twitter a second-wind and it had the potential to carve out a niche in the social landscape. But those hopes seem to be gone. Its average monthly user base in the second quarter remained unchanged at 328 million from Q1 –Variety. In comparison, Facebook Messenger has 1.2 billion monthly users. What will come of Twitter? Could we see Trump moving solely to Facebook and becoming that annoying friend who won’t stop posting mindless status updates?

 

TECH: Voice is growing but privacy issues remain

“The number of Americans using a voice assistant device is forecast to increase 129 percent this year to 36 million, with Amazon capturing a 70 percent share of the market” – L2. However, privacy concerns still bubble under the surface of Voice’s rise to capture your home. A recent hack although limited in it’s reached showed how the Alexa mic can be turned on to record all audio. I don’t know if you’d want to hear me discussing Love Island with my housemates but I enjoy the security of doing so in relative privacy.

 

CONTENT: City AM trades reputation for revenue

If you ran a newspaper, would you give your advertisers direct access to publish on it? Well, that’s what City AM did with City Talk.  “City Talk clients pay £10,000 a month for deals of three, six or 12 months.” – The Drum. Now a year in, no publishers have left but opinion is divided if this radical idea has worked.

City AM’s lack of revenue forced the move as they aimed to disrupt the already severely disrupted newspaper industry. It is clear to see why this would be attractive to advertisers looking to secure paid-for PR coverage with a reputable paper.

However, we are living in a time when the independence, editorial rigour and reputation of newspapers is under scrutiny. As it struggles with generating revenue, City AM is between a rock and a hard place. Who will win? Advertisers or the paper’s independence?