Are you bored of social media?

Facebook is 11 years old this year. YouTube is 10. Twitter was launched in 2006, meaning it will reach its 10th birthday next year. As these platforms contain to embed themselves in our marketing strategies, and are no longer ‘new’, are they at risk of becoming boring in the eyes of consumers?

By the end of 2013, Facebook had 1.23bn monthly active users. There are just over 7bn people in the world – so a seventh of the world’s population are using Facebook on a regular basis. With the sheer quantity of people posting content online, it is easy for businesses to be seen as boring, and for them to get lost in the noise.

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So what can your small business do to make sure you stand out?

1. Never buy followers. Take your time to build an organic following of people who are local to you and are genuine customers or potential customers of your business.

2. Use humour. A funny tweet or status update is more likely to be shared. The mobile network, Three (@threeuk) are doing this well at the moment with their #holidayspam campaign.

3. Use images and videos. These work on most platforms now, including both Facebook and Twitter. They take up more of the screen (meaning you’re more likely to catch attention) and analytics show that viewers are more likely to engage with and respond to a tweet which uses photos and videos.

4. Make it interesting. Sounds obvious, doesn’t it? Even the most dull of businesses (sorry accountants!) can be successful on social media by offering an insight into their companies, providing useful tips and hints, or focusing on people rather than functions.

5. Link to, share and retweet other content. Don’t be afraid of sharing other business’ content, where it is likely to be interesting to your desired audience and is appropriate to your business’ goals. This doesn’t necessarily mean your direct competitors, but wider companies who share similar views and values to your companies. For example, a cupcake business may retweet a recipe from a diet company or celebrity chef, if it is of interest to their followers. Sharing content isn’t stealing, as it acknowledges the original location or source of the content.

You will find that more people are interested in what you have to say if you make it engaging and useful or fun for your followers, which will make you less likely to disappear in the noise of other social media users. It is worth taking the time to plan your content in advance so that you know what you want to say, and therefore how you want to say it.

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The Clash Between New Marketing Approaches and Privacy

Technology continues to develop and evolve at a rapid rate, with new marketing approaches such as location-based marketing taking centre-stage in many major brands’ marketing plans for 2015 and beyond.

Location-based marketing uses the GPS feature in smartphones, now owned and used by over 50% of the UK (emarketer.com, 2013), to send the user offers and discounts based on their location or proximity to a business. For example, a restaurant may send a lunch offer when a smartphone gets within half a mile of the building, or hotels may target users at airports with room discounts.

O'Loughlin Marketing

For businesses, the advantage to this form of marketing is that it targets customers at the time when they may be most likely to make a purchase, and encourages them to engage with the business by clicking on links straight through to the offer or website. It removes the time period between receiving an offer and taking it up, which increases the likelihood of the sale being completed.

However, this brings up a privacy concern for many people with smartphones, as the thought of receiving messages at any time they are near a business directly onto their phones is potentially intrusive and therefore unnerving. Of course, this also clashes with the desire to receive money-saving offers and discounts!

Location-based marketing is not just available to large organisations and brands, and can be used by small businesses as a way of increasing sales and attracting potential customers. Small businesses who are interested in using this approach should consider the following:

  • Consider your audience and send appropriate content which appeals to them and is relevant to what you want to achieve (i.e. sales, offers, etc).
  • Ensure that your targeted recipients have opted in to receiving marketing communications, and ensure you provide a clear route for opting out.
  • Use available location-based marketing platforms to target your audience, such as Foursquare or Facebook’s new local awareness feature to set up localised campaigns.
  • Start small, and test your messages to get them right.
  • Try to make your messages personal, so that the audience feels that they are written just for them. An offer which is perceived as tailor-made for the recipient is more likely to be successful than something which reads like a generalised advert.

The way in which businesses can overcome consumer fear of receiving unwanted messages and encourage consumers to opt in to receiving marketing messages is to provide clear information on what they are likely to receive, and when they may be likely to receive it, so that they can make an educated choice about whether they are happy to receive such communications. It is clear that the nature of these campaigns will be more successful with a younger audience, who are more likely to embrace new technologies and intrusive marketing campaigns as they are generally more readily used to such methods, having grown up with the development of such technologies.

For those who wish to avoid location-based marketing, a number of apps exist which block mobile tracking and shield smartphones, ensuring greater privacy. However, for many the pay-off of receiving usable offers and discounts will make the intrusion worthwhile and their privacy an acceptable sacrifice. In time, this pay-off is likely to lead to location-based marketing becoming more prevalent in marketing campaigns as it becomes more keenly accepted by consumers.

Businesses should be aware that not all recipients will be happy to receive their messages, and so business owners may also wish to inform their staff of campaigns, and how to respond if complaints or queries are received. This will help to protect your brand if someone does take offence to receiving your marketing messages.

If you have tried location-based marketing, or are planning to, please get in touch and let me know how you get on.

A simple tip to get your marketing kickstarted for 2015

Happy New Year! We’re now a couple of days into 2015 and you may now be thinking of returning to work (if you haven’t already done so). On your return, alongside catching up on things missed over the festive period, you might also want to think about what your marketing plan will be for the coming year.

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If you haven’t planned your marketing before, don’t worry. The following simple tip will stand you in good stead for getting your marketing in order and ultimately make your life easier as you will know what to expect and when to have marketing activities ready for.

1. Get a calendar. A large, year-to-view wall calendar preferably.

2. Mark all of the dates of events and holidays you know the day(s) of and that you know you require marketing for. For example, you may wish to include big holidays such as Christmas, Mother’s Day or Valentine’s Day. You might also need to include events such as sports matches or tournaments, or other such dates which are important to your business. Doing this allows you to recognise when you need to have your marketing in place for each event, so that nothing can be missed or take you by surprise.

3. Include any other significant date(s) which could affect your marketing. These might include birthdays of customers which you need to acknowledge or holidays of business partners or for yourself. Again, if they’re on the calendar, they cannot be forgotten.

4. Put the calendar on the wall or within arm’s reach, and refer to it on a regular basis to help to keep you on track with dates and activities throughout the year to help promote your business.

I complete this simple activity each year and have always found it to be invaluable in ensuring that marketing activities are ready for events and holidays in good time.

Once your calendar is done, you can use it to work on a more detailed marketing plan with a marketing consultant or by yourself in order to give your business a kickstart for the New Year.