5 Ways to Boost Your Marketing Without Leaving Your Desk

Too busy to leave the office this week, but don’t want to lose momentum in your marketing efforts? Try these five quick ways to keep your marketing moving…

  1. Update your social media.

It doesn’t have to be complicated – let people know what you’re up to, what you’re looking forward to, or join in with a popular and/or relevant hashtag. Add a quick image, and you’ve got a simple way of being seen by your customers and contacts.

  1. Ask a customer for a testimonial.

Send a quick email asking a customer for a testimonial which you can then use on literature, your website, social media, etc. It is also a great way of striking up a conversation with someone you may be seeking further business from.

  1. Write an article.

A few paragraphs for your company blog or website are quick and easy to do, especially if you have a topic in mind or question that can be answered. Within thirty minutes, you can continue to position yourself as an expert in your field.

  1. Ask a customer or contact out for lunch, or book to attend a networking event.

Arrange for time away from your desk – get out and get seen!

  1. Recognise an employee.

If you have employees, send them a quick message or speak to them about something positive they’re doing. Recognising what they are doing well is a great and very fast morale booster, which will give them a quick lift in getting you more business and working more effectively.

Grab your coffee and see what you can get done before you’ve finished drinking it!

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People power and social media campaigns

I just read a pretty amazing statistic… do you know how many people covered their profile picture on Facebook with a rainbow flag after the US Supreme Court ruled favourably on gay marriage back in June?

26 million!

Can you believe that? I find it pretty amazing. Of course, the photo editing tool that Facebook launched in order to do it means that there was almost zero effort required to do it, and of course it had no bearing on the ruling itself. But 26 million people standing up and saying they support something is undeniably impressive.

Rainbow filter, Facebook
Rainbow filter, Facebook

Other recent social media campaigns include the outrage over the killing of Cecil the Lion, last year’s ice bucket challenge, and (my hero) Stephen Sutton’s bucket list. Prior to social media, the main way to galvanise a huge number of people in a short amount of time was through major fundraising efforts (at huge initial cost, using mainstream mediums) such as Comic Relief and Children in Need. Now, all that is needed is a social media account, an injection of passion, and the content or a topic that will stand out.

So to those 26 million people who changed their profile pictures, well done. Maybe, just maybe, you helped to show that social attitudes are changing, and we’re becoming more willing to be counted in what we agree (or disagree) with.

Social Media for a Small Business – Help! Where Do I Start?

Facebook. Twitter. LinkedIn. Pinterest. Instagram. Vine. Tinder. Tumblr. YouTube. Flickr. Google+. Vimeo. Foursquare. MySpace.

social_media_logos

Ok, maybe not MySpace anymore. However, this list of the first few social media platforms that came to my mind shows just how many platforms currently are available for businesses to try. Does that mean you should have a presence on all of them?

Of course not – for a small business, it just wouldn’t be possible. Don’t forget that whilst many of these platforms are free to use, your time isn’t – and that is where the cost of social media can often be seen.

So which one (or more) should you choose? The first step is to look at who is using the platforms – is your intended audience there? For example, users of Vine (a sharing platform for 6-second videos) tend to be younger so it would be pointless setting up on there if your audience are ‘silver surfers’ (broadly speaking, of course).

This analysis will form the first part of a social media plan for your business. Having a plan is essential to make sure that you know where you want to be, what you want to say and how you intend to say it online – especially if a third party (such as a staff member or external consultant) will be posting online on behalf of your business. Give that person a clear brief, as mistakes can lead to potentially costly repercussions for your business reputation.

It is fine to use only one platform. It is also fine to use several. The key is making sure that you have appealing and appropriate content to share with those who engage with your business on your chosen platform(s). Without this, you will struggle to reach or interest followers, which will see your business drown in the noise of today’s social media.

Can my small business use Snapchat for promotions?

I spotted a great feature recently by David Moth on Econsultancy on eight brands currently using Snapchat as part of their social media marketing strategies. For anyone not aware, Snapchat is an image based social media platform, where users can send images and overlaid text for short periods of time before they disappear. For marketers, the idea is that it appeals to the increasingly short attention span held by consumers.

The examples are excellent, and well worth a read. Find the feature here.

Snapchat - oloughlinmarketing.com

So should small businesses include Snapchat in their social media marketing strategies? Absolutely, providing that their audience matches up with Snapchat’s core users and they have the means to undertake a strategy effectively.

Who are Snapchat’s core users?

Research by the Global Web Index and published by We Are Social, showed that over half of Snapchat’s users are aged 16-24, showing the prominence of the platform among a younger audience. This means that businesses with audiences of teens and young adults are likely to do well using Snapchat as a medium, as much of this age group are now moving to faster means of consumption in their social media, and turning their backs on ‘older’ platforms such as Facebook.

How would I use Snapchat?

You will need to set up an account, and choose a username. The best way to then obtain followers will be to appeal to your existing audiences to ask them to follow your brand on Snapchat – use email marketing and add the information to your Twitter, Facebook, Instagram, etc.

It is also extremely important to consider what you want to achieve – do you want to offer a sneak preview of a product or service? Or maybe you want to offer a short-term special offer to your Snapchat audience, to push them into making a purchase? You need to be clear in your offering, and use simple to read text and images. Don’t forget that your audience have a short time to read your message before it disappears, so you need it to be instantly understandable, rather than ambiguous (unless of course, this is what your aim is!).

Your ‘snaps’ can be viewed once by your followers, for up to 10 seconds. They then are deleted and disappear. If you want your snap to be seen for a little longer (for example, in order for an offer to be effective), you can set them to be re-viewed an unlimited number of times using the ‘My Story’ setting.

Finally, in order to ensure that your audience reacts to your snaps, make sure you include a call to action. What do you want them to do? Do you want them to take up an offer within 48 hours, or visit your website? Whatever you want them to do, make it clear and make it easy for them to carry out.

Snapchat is a growing form of communication, and is one of the lesser used platforms for business at present. Small businesses can (and should, where appropriate) make the most of this opportunity with strong, well-focused campaigns, and take advantage of the direct contact the platform provides to audiences.

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.

applePyramid

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.

Should I post my child’s photos on social media?

As a soon-to-be first-time mum, I have been taking more interest in policies and articles surrounding posting photos of children, and particularly babies, on social media. I recently read an interesting article which discussed the long-term implications of posting your child’s photos online, including the possibility of potentially damaging their future university or job prospects, as well as a ‘scare’ story about online trolls reposting your child’s images and making stories up about your child with others. Not something any parent would want.

With many parents understandably wanting to share their child’s cutest poses and biggest achievements with friends and family, what can you do to make sure your child’s image is safe – both now and in the future?

  • Let friends and family know your decision on posting photos – whether you want to avoid it altogether or are happy for them to post on your behalf. Be clear on your wants and ask them to respect your decision. Some people may forget and post in their excitement to share your good news and child’s developments, so don’t be embarrassed to ask them to remove a photo if you feel uncomfortable with its publication.
  • Check your privacy and posting settings. On Facebook, for example, you can ensure your images are only seen by designated ‘close friends’, so make use of these to just share images with those you trust. It is a good idea to ensure your photos are never set to ‘public’ as this can leave them open for anyone to view, including those not friends with you on your page or profile.
  • Use a secure Cloud server to share images directly with friends or family. Sending a link via Dropbox means they’ll receive high resolution images as and when you want to share them and they will only be shared with those you choose to share them with.
  • Check who your friends and connections are on social media. Is it time to cull that friend list on Facebook to only have people you genuinely know and trust, or should you protect your tweets on Twitter? You may decide to do the former and only post images there – whatever you do, give some consideration to your audience and make sure you’re happy with it.
  • Don’t post photos which show your child undressed. Ever.
  • Finally, if you do choose to share your baby’s images, don’t forget that not everyone will want to see photos of every second of every day of your new arrival’s life, especially if they have suffered a loss or difficulties in having children of their own. No-one is saying you shouldn’t be proud of your child and want to share that, but try to be sensitive to those you have chosen to share your images with.

As a parent, it is entirely your decision how much or how little you want to make public of your child’s life in online photos. However, it does no harm to be aware of the potential risks of photo sharing and to take steps to secure your social media sites in order to make sure they are set up with your child’s best interests in mind.

I’ve not yet decided how I would like to proceed with sharing photos of my baby once born in the next few weeks. I’d like to think I’ll achieve a happy medium so that friends and family (especially those living far away) can share our experiences, whilst also keeping the images of the youngest O’Loughlin safe going forward. What I do know is that I will be able to control what output I have and when, which makes me feel more confident as a parent using social media.

Apologies for being slightly off topic on this – back to small businesses next post!

Today’s News – The Good, The Bad and the Ugly

A quick scan of today’s news tells of three stories showing both the good and bad uses of social media.

The Good:

Stephen’s Story – members of the public have been rallied by famous people, including comedian Jason Manford, to help dying teen Stephen Sutton to raise £1million for the Teenage Cancer Trust. The target was part of the ‘bucket list’ created by Stephen as his cancer became inoperable, and currently stands at £1,128,608.29 (as of 1.15pm on Wednesday 23rd April). This show of support presents the good that social media can do in communities and in response to an eloquent and worthy appeal.

To support Stephen: https://www.justgiving.com/Stephen-Sutton-TCT

The Bad:

NYPD Hashtag Disaster – BBC News reported this morning that the New York Police Department encouraged followers to post photos of themselves with local police officers with the hashtag #myNYPD, which was quickly overtaken by users posting photos showing possible police aggression by the force. The NYPD responded with a statement saying “Twitter provides an open forum for an uncensored exchange and this is an open dialogue good for our city.”

The Ugly:

Let’s not get started on the tweet sent to a customer from US Airways recently, which is still being investigated…

All of this shows that all social media campaigns should be carefully thought through prior to going live. You should try and consider all possible reactions to the campaign, and even though you can never please everyone, try not to walk into a situation where your brand or company is exposed.