Is your Business struggling with Social Media? by Wayne Denner

Is your Business struggling with Social MediaDo you want social media to perform better for your business, brand or organisation?

Wondering how other businesses seem to have gotten so far ahead with their own social media?

I’ve found one of the key issues and concerns for many businesses who want to improve social media is consistency. As someone who has worked in Digital Marketing and communications for over 18 years with businesses, brands and at consultancy level, I have seen it time and time again.   Businesses start their social media, run it for a few weeks – maybe months, then before long it starts to fall down the list of priorities.   Eventually activity stops.

Now as someone who is a massive social media evangelist and who has benefited greatly from it, I would urge tenacity – it will pay off. You will reap the rewards if you consistently put in the effort.   Don’t lose the opportunity to engage with potential customers on a local or global basis.

Frequently I come across such businesses who have given up – I always ask why and normally get some variation on the responses below:

  • Social Media doesn’t work for my business
  • We just don’t have the time
  • We don’t get Social Media
  • Our Customers aren’t on Social Media
  • Traditional advertising is working just fine for us

The above is a sample of some of the thinking still in 2016. There is no doubt in my mind or in the minds of any of the businesses I work with – that social media does work for business.   That being said, I do agree that it can be hard work.   It takes time, effort and investment – it’s most certainly not free. But if executed correctly can become a core part of your businesses marketing efforts.

So I’ve come up with 5 simple but effective ways for social media to work better for your business.

Training

It’s number one.   You need to start here.

Invest in training for those staff within the business or organisation who are key to the daily management of your social media. Training needs to be delivered by the right training provider. At ISM we have a track record of delivering engaging practical social media training for businesses.   The key word here is ‘practical’. There are way too many digital marketing events and training which bring in speakers who talk about social media – but don’t actually show the delegates how to do anything. The staff within a business who are responsible for the social media need to be empowered and have the confidence to help build and grow the social media activity for the business or brand. It’s also highly recommended that other key members of the business avail of training even if just a 1 day introduction to social media for business so everyone has at least an understanding of its importance and impact. In my experience social media in many businesses can be a bottom up approach, though in rare occasions it has been top down. Buy-in from senior management to CEO level is important and a recommendation I give many businesses, is to consider a short half or full day introduction to digital marketing and social media for those key members of staff in which buy-in to develop ongoing social media is important.

Content

When it comes to social media no matter what the activity, email marketing platforms such as Facebook, Twitter or Instagram or blogging content is at the heart of everything.

Many businesses struggle with content and end up churning out sales-related content which does not engage anyone. When it comes to starting to think about creating content, the bottom line is that the content you create needs to add value and it needs to be useful. Rather than rush the creation of content, sit down to plan how and what the content might look like, will it solve a problem for your current or future customers?. Remember customers are searching for answers to questions.   If you are lucky enough to have them click on a link to a piece of your content, does it answer a question or help solve a problem.

Scheduling Tools

Yes there are many available on the market – some with lots of features that can cost a small fortune each month and end up being poor value for money for a business especially if you are not getting the proper use out of the different features or the tool itself is so complicated that you avoid having anything to do with it and you simply don’t use it. My advice is to start small.   Buffer is my tool of choice when it comes to scheduling for social media (even it’s free version) it’s iideal for businesses just starting out and trying to get to grips with managing social media and scheduling content. Getting into the habit of scheduling a core base of content to flow out each and every day across your main platforms, – most likely Twitter, Facebook and LinkedIn will increase engagement and help you have more time to focus on developing other areas of your digital marketing.

Have a Content Plan

With my own content I try to get at least 3 months of content in the pipeline. One of the key benefits I have found about having a content plan is that it helps me publish more. The setting up of a schedule forces me to commit time to creating a piece of content along with the actual production of the content it also needs to be researched which helps contribute towards my own learning development. Your content plan for your business will give you an overview of all the key holiday dates or other dates which might be relevant to your business. Remember holidays and events are important to your audience and provide an excellent opportunity for content creation. The content plan gives you the opportunity to plan the type of content which you want to create.   There are a number of different types but I would highly recommend a mixture of blog posts, video content and audio based in the form of podcasts and eBooks all have worked very well with clients I have worked with in the past.

Insights & Analytics

Ever try to go on a journey and not look at a map? I have but that may be a man thing :). Relying on my guess work didn’t work.

It’s not easy – you end up most of the time getting lost and keep taking the wrong directions while spending way longer than you needed to.

When it comes to social media many people operate their social media activity by a series of guesses. When it comes to the numbers you need to pay attention to these as they let you know what works and what dosent.   All of the major social media platforms offer their own insights or analytics which gives you an idea on how your content is working and also the type of audience which you have. Make sure you set up a Facebook Pixel on your website.   Once added, Facebook will start tracking visitors and running in conjunction with Facebook Ad conversation will provide you with indication to the cost of driving traffic across to your website from Facebook.   If you are using any third party applications such as Hootsuite, Buffer, Audiense or Social Bakers these will also give you insights and analytics.   All of which will help you make better informed decisions on what is working and what is not in terms of your social media efforts. And much of which you have control of o make changes in real time.

I hope by reading this article you are considering reinstating social media for your business. Remember as humans we are social beings.   As businesses and brands we need to understand that and humanise content for our audience – start to think like a customer and shape you efforts on social media around that. Remember what I covered in point one about the importance of training – it’s key and will help take social media for your business to the next level.

So my question to you…What are you waiting for?

Enrol for the next social media or digital marketing workshop with ISM and let me help you become empowered to successfully build your businesses social media community.

For the last three years marketing departments all over the world have been shouting about harnessing the power of social media. But is it right that business invades social interactions online? Does the Facebook account of a young businessman in Dubai need the intrusion of a local bakery touting their latest offer?

Well, according to a recent study by the Dubai School of Government, that’s exactly what entrepreneurs in the region want to happen. From a poll of 5,000 young people from throughout the Middle East, 86% believed social media would empower entrepreneurs with branding and marketing. Another 86% believed it would help them tap into wider markets.

So social media has been fully embraced as a strong marketing tool. But is this view mirrored by the users of social media? According to a report by Bayt (a recruitment company), over 47% of people polled in the Middle East say they actively follow business social media vehicles (other than the social media from the company they currently work for).

And the top brands being followed? Well unsurprisingly N2V, the internet company, tops the Facebook chart with over 260,000 fans, followed by The Dubai Mall’s Facebook page. But liking a page isn’t the same as actively engaging with a company’s social media. Air Arabia can only be applauded for with their efforts in building a engagement rate of 0.31%.

These results show that people in the Middle East are as happy as the rest of the world to get involved with their favourite brands through social media.

Social media is growing rapidly in the Middle East. 88% of the Middle East’s online population uses social media sites on a daily basis. Which is over a third of the population of the whole of the Middle East.

Although numbers cannot be exact (as they are growing every day), a survey early in 2013 put Facebook, Twitter and LinkedIn firmly at the top of the social media tree. Facebook users were 58 million, Twitter 6.5 million, and LinkedIn 5.8 million.

However, in the UAE LinkedIn outstrips Twitter, where 12% of people use LinkedIn, Twitter gets a paltry 3%. This could be down to the more professional focus seen in professionals in the region. Something that is backed up by another survey by Bayt. In the whole of Mena, 9 out of 10 professionals said they’d gone online to search for people they had either met, or were going to meet, while 8 in 10 said they’d googled themselves: proving the UAE professional is obviously very internet savvy.

With nearly a third of professionals admitting to spending more than five hours a day online, the internet has penetrated both business and private lives of people living in the Middle East. For marketeers this shows there is a real appetite for online content. As people rely more and more on social media to find great content, it is not a case of whether businesses should be engaging people through social media, It’s more a case of businesses becoming more creative in finding the best strategies to engage people.

 

bank audi

Did this campaign bring out the artist in you?

An example of this was Bank Audi’s ‘Card Artist’ social media campaign. The bank encouraged people to completely personalise their credit cards, then post a picture of it on the bank’s Facebook page to possibly win a cash prize. It took just a few days for Bank Audi’s Facebook page to gain 2,000 fans. As a consequence of their hard work on their social media, Bank Audi won the 2012 Middle East Internet award for Best Social Media Campaign in the Financial Services category.

Whether your customers are in Dubai, Abu Dhabi, Riyadh, Muscat, further afield, or closer to home, using social media cleverly is not only welcomed by social media users in the Middle East, they can become active participants in building your brand online.

Sources

 

http://www.bayt.com/en/research-reports/

http://visual.ly/social-media-usage-middle-east-statistics-and-trends

http://www.socialbakers.com/storage/www/sm-uae.png

http://img.b8cdn.com/emails/marketing/infograph0612/csm_en.png

http://www.wamda.com/2013/04/the-positive-effect-of-social-media-on-the-arab-world-infographic

http://www.slideshare.net/mrdamian/digital-digest-special-social-media-in-the-mena-2012-review-15877371

http://www.banqueaudi.com/NewsRoom/PressReleases/Pages/201211-cardartist.aspx

http://www.terrapinn.com/2012/the-internet-show-awards-middle-east/C38481.stm

Before you embark on a social media campaign, your Dubai marketing team needs to plan, plan, plan. A scattered approach will yield scattered results at best. At worst, lots of social media accounts will open, and then nothing will get posted.

There are several different vehicles you can choose from to begin a social media campaign. Facebook, Blogs, LinkedIn, Pinterest, YouTube and Twitter are the main ones. But which one do you choose?

Pooh

Pooh has a lot to say about thinking before acting. Do you have a well thought out social media marketing strategy ?

Well you are already well ahead of yourself here. Because the starting point is not what vehicle to choose, but deciding what your marketing campaign is aiming to achieve. Are you promoting the business as a whole, or one particular aspect?

Once you’ve identified what you are marketing, you then have to think about where you want people to go once they have been engaged. Do you want them to go to buy a product in a real shop? Are you promoting a product or service on your website? Is the aim to get people to your website and pick up the phone to contact you? Or to make a purchase on the website?

Not knowing the answer to these questions places your social media strategy into the pointless zone: engagement without a goal.

Answer all these questions as fully as possible before deciding which social media vehicle is going to help you achieve the most success. As an example, if you are selling a new range of cosmetics, you will need videos showing people using the cosmetics, beautiful images on Pinterest, a twitter account and a Facebook account to talk to customers and tell them of offers in Dubai shopping malls. And your website has to reflect the brand message.

But if you are offering consultation services, you need a truly authoritative blog, perhaps some tutorials on YouTube, some audio downloads and a LinkedIn account to talk to other businesses.

At this point you should know  what you are selling, who you are selling it to, and how you want to sell it. So who do you put in charge of the social media campaign? Do you place it in the hands of the new intern? Do you rotate who works on it?

The answer is obviously no, you don’t. You need someone who is net savvy, marketing savvy, customer orientated and comfortable confining their comments to 142 characters. This is not a job for an intern. You need a dedicated team who can track what is going on in each of the vehicles you’ve chosen.

Because when you have more than one social media platform, you need to know when to feed information into it. If you have a new video up on YouTube, tell people about it on Twitter, Facebook or LinkedIn. A new blog post is the same; tell people it’s up. Think about social media as multiple loops that feed into different parts of your website. To keep track of everything, have a big calendar on the marketing office wall that shows everyone when videos, blogs, audio content is being produced and loaded. Preparation is key. Thoroughly planned, your Dubai social media strategy will be engaging,informative and effective allowing your business to reap the rewards.