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.

Every company in the world has been told they need to write a blog. But, do you really know why your Dubai marketing agency needs a regular blog? Or have you found yourself lost for what to write about?

sethgodin

Business blogging ..make it work for you !

Writing a blog is an excellent way to create real content on your website that appeals to your site visitors as well as to search engines. For search engines love new pages: it indicates a website is still in use, and they love indexing new pages. Blogs are also one of the cornerstones of social media marketing. With a blog you can draw attention to your website through all the other social media channels, improving your inbound links and thus, again, improving your rankings on search engines.

Here are some handy tips to help you keep your blog on track:

Make It Relevant

One of the worst mistakes you can make with your company blog is to talk about issues and events that are outside your knowledge base. If there is a major event in your industry, have an opinion. If there is a political or social issue that your company has no connection with, don’t blog about it.

You need to keep your blog consistent. Readers will grow accustomed to seeing your blog as a consistent source of information. If you write with authority on your subject, you will find that readers will come back every week to find out more. Deviate too frequently and you’ll confuse people and lose their attention.

Spread the Word

Don’t just write a blog, upload it to your site and leave it at that. Use other social media channels to ensure different types of readers get to know about it. Put a link to the blog page on Twitter, Facebook, LinkedIn and Google+. If you are a regular on forums where linking is permitted, put a link there as well.

Show, Don’t Tell

Although a company blog is generally a written format, don’t be afraid to get some pictures up there, or embed a video. Pictures and video can really liven up your blog posts. Don’t use them in place of the written word all the time, but the occasional pictures or video will bring it life.

If you have a new product, service, menu, put a picture of it on your site and, if you feel it might attract attention, put it up on Pinterest as well. If you have a video of the product in action, even better, embed it into your blog as well as putting it up on YouTube.

Be Regular

If you want to keep people engaged in your blog, make sure you publish it every week. Every day would be great as well, but daily blogging is a huge task and requires having someone whose sole job it is to do your social media. So once a week is an easy ask. Once a month is too infrequent for blogging, but it is perfect timing for sending out a newsletter rounding up the month’s blogs and any other news your company has for your clients and customers.

Keep a schedule

It’s far easier to write a schedule of blogs for the next 8 weeks than trying to come up with ideas every week. Write out what needs to be highlighted each week to coincide with product launches, company events, industry events and news. A schedule also gives you the flexibility to change if something unexpected happens that you feel needs blogging about urgently.

So next time you’re feeling a little stuck for inspiration for your Dubai restaurant blog (and if you do have a restaurant or clothes boutique, Pinterest is a great way of showing your latest creation), open up Word, write a schedule and you’ll soon discover there is more to write about that you imagined.

Getting a Dubai company LinkedIn page up and running, or your personal profile working harder for you, is a quick process that can boost your own credibility as well as that of your business.

Founded in 2002, LinkedIn has developed a reputation for being the social media networking site for professionals. Unlike YouTube, Twitter, Facebook, and blogs, this is a space devoted to building up relationships for business, not friendships (although that does happen, it is never as relaxed).

Which is why if you are not on there, you need to get your skates on. I’d hazard that most, if not all, of your contemporaries already have a basic account. With over 150 million users in over 200 countries, that’s a lot of business you could be missing out on.

A LinkedIn profile is nothing like your Facebook profile. This is the place where you tell people what is on your resume or CV, not where you spent your birthday party. And ensuring your profile gets seen is a matter of learning how to network online in a similar way that you’d network in real life. The only difference is that people can find out almost instantly what you’ve done in your career.

Making your profile work harder for you will require spending a bit of time on the site every week. There are some simple ways of boosting your profile:

Get your profile up to date – Every time you move job, learn a new skill, attend a seminar, or win an award, make sure you update your information. Remember, recruitment consultants use LinkedIn to find quality job candidates all the time. If you are looking for a new position, spend as much time polishing your LinkedIn profile as you would on your CV.

Ask for a recommendation – This is really important if you are a business or a freelancer. Ask people you’ve worked for, clients and partners to post a recommendation on your page. It allows visitors to see that you not only have the skills they are looking for, other people like what you do as well.

Join in discussions – There are thousands of groups on LinkedIn, talking about a wide range of topics, some of which will be relevant to your industry. Join the ones you are most interested in, or are most relevant to your company, and get talking on the topics and start some of your own. Showing you have an authoritative voice will benefit your company and your personal standing in the LinkedIn community.

Utilize the space – Don’t just give a short resume of yourself or your business. When people arrive on your business page on LinkedIn, they want to find out about your company, so give them all the information you want them to have. On your personal LinkedIn page, use the Summary section to really sell yourself and your abilities.

If you are going to use a piece of software like Hootesuite to send out messages to LinkedIn, Twitter, and Facebook, at the same time, just keep in mind that LinkedIn is a professional space and talk like you would in the office, and not how you’d chat with friends during downtime in Dubai Marina!

Twitter is one of the top five social media vehicles, and your Dubai marketing team has probably already created an account for your company, but are they being held back by worries about mass following tools?

lorenz and geese

Dr Lorenz had geese following him, do you connect with your followers or are they just a number ?

Mass following on Twitter has its detractors because it was originally seen as a blackhat activity. However, if you do it properly it is an excellent way of growing your following on Twitter. This is because if you follow someone, a large percentage of them will follow you back. If you post interesting tweets, they will recommend others follow you as well.

For those who aren’t sure what mass following tools are, they come in a variety of guises, but the essential part of it is that you can create profiles of the type of people you want to follow and the software does the rest.

In simple terms, instead of searching manually for people who live in Dubai and are interested in your type of product, you type in the location, Dubai, the product, apartments, and off you go. The software will automatically find people who are in the region and mention the product.

By following people who have already shown an interest in the type of product you are selling, you are not being intrusive. The intrusive element is when you send people a tweet asking if they would be interested in your product. Twitter is not the place for aggressive sales tactics, it is a place for building brand awareness and talking directly with your customers if they mention you or approach you.

Depending on your budget, there are free tools and pay for tools. So you can pay anything from zero to $1,000s each month. Many follow packages are actually part of a larger Twitter management package, so research carefully before choosing which package is right for your company.

There are many tools out there, so if there isn’t a dedicated social media manager in your Dubai marketing team, appoint one person to research the different packages available. Here are three popular ones to start you off:

www.twellow.com – is a directory of public Twitter accounts and allows you to search people and interests. It’s very popular, free, but limited.

www.sproutsocial.com – From $9 to $899 a month, this is a full service package for using Twitter, rather than a simple follow software package.

www.tweepi.com – Another management package that includes bulk following, starts at $7.49 and the platinum version is $14.99 a month.

This link gives a comprehensive breakdown of different Twitter apps that may offer a different avenue for finding people to follow on Twitter, but also includes lots of different areas of Twitter use you may find useful:

http://www.squidoo.com/twitterapps

The one social media Twitter tool you really shouldn’t use are the unfollow tools. Some of these automatically send out a tweet to tell your follows who you have unfollowed. Because this tool mentions the name of the unfollowed, it is highly unsocial: how do you think you’d feel if you’d unfollowed someone and then they tell thousands of their followers? We unfollow for a variety of reasons so having it flagged up to people we don’t even know is highly unprofessional.

So next time your Dubai social media marketing team meets put mass following on the agenda: done properly, it’s a great way to boost your company’s profile online.

Pinterest has been around for less than two years, yet it has become the fastest website in history to break 10million unique visitors. And because the majority of users are women, for sales and marketing teams in Dubai it provides an ideal opportunity to reach out to their target audience in a fresh way.

For a website that is still in an open beta stage, the phenomenal 11 million total visits per week in December 2011, clearly shows why this zero to hero site grabbed the best startup of 2011 by TechCrunch (one of the world’s foremost technology news and analysis websites).

The speed at which Pinterest has become so popular is due, in part to the relaxed attitude to money taken by the founders of Pinterest, Ben Silbermann and Evan Sharp. The aim is to create a popular platform before considering how to monetize it. And the venture capital companies that have so far invested $37m in Pinterest, seem willing to wait as well.

One of the main investors is Bessemer Venture Partners. Jeremy Levine, of Bessemer, said recently that they had been looking for “a user-generated content media property around products” for over six years and when they came across Pinterest in 2011, it hit a cord with them immediately.

So at what point does this free website make the kind of money that attracts millions of investment? Well look to Facebook and Google for the answer. Both sites provide huge amounts of free content, and are able to heavily monetize a small percentage of that content.

Pinterest, Levine says, is not at the stage of thinking about monetizing it, but when the moment comes, be sure that it will do so very profitably indeed.

So, you may be thinking, how does my company in Dubai use Pinterest from a marketing point of view? Well the most common way used as the moment is the competition format.

cool romance pinterest

Get you nails on Orly's goodie bag!

One such competition is being run by the nail polish brand Orly. The prize is a swag bag of Orly products, and to enter people have to create a Pinterest board titled ‘My Cool Romance’. By asking people to enter on Pinterest, Orly are just one of hundreds of companies wholeheartedly embracing the zeitgeist.

Copyright issues still dog the site as some people don’t know whether what they are allowed to pin other people’s work to the site. However, Pinterest get around this problem by working with the Digital Millennium Copyright Act of 1998, an act designed to protect the intellectual property rights of individuals. They also have an etiquette that asks users to credit their sources. Which in the case of companies running competitions works very much in their favour.

Because it is populated primarily by women, (97% of Pinterest’s Facebook fans are women), it provides an ideal platform for companies to talk to a female audience in an environment they have self-advocated. Get your offering right and it will become an interesting component of the fast moving social media marketing landscape.

There is no doubt that, this year, Pinterest is the next big thing. Will it continue to hold its position as one of the top ten social media vehicles, or will it go the route of MySpace? Whatever the answer, at this time the question for your marketing department in Dubai is not when should we engage, but rather how quickly can we engage?

 

Sources:

http://www.sirenasparklestar.com/2012/03/orly-launches-pinterest-contest-today.html

http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Pinterest

http://www.fastcompany.com/1816870/bessemer-ventures-why-we-invested-in-pinterest

http://www.guardian.co.uk/technology/shortcuts/2012/feb/27/pinterest-a-man-free-zone

flamingo dubai

Birds of a feather #flock together.

Twitter has become one of the cornerstones of social media and, whether you live in downtown  Dubai or a farmstead in the Australian outback, you can talk to the world with a tap on the return key.

Since it’s birth in March 2006 (created by Jack Dorsey a software architecture named on of the top 35 innovators in the world by MIT’s Technology Review in 2008), Twitter has gone from zero to 300 million users in 2011.

So why so popular? Well, people like being sociable, and in the digital world so many people find themselves working in, taking out five minutes every hour or so makes you feel connected to the greater world.

And it’s turning out to be a great tool for businesses to talk directly to their customers. But you have to step lightly into this arena as a business, because one wrong, misdirected tweet can be a reputation spoiler.

For example, Habitat was left with a large dollop of egg on it’s face when it tried to piggy back the Iran elections with a dubious money saving offer tweet. The backlash was instant – Twitter leaves companies no place to hide. Even if you delete your tweet, someone, somewhere has already seen it and passed it on.

Now, this instantaneous passing on of information is awful if the message is wrong, however most companies believe that the re-tweeting of their message is the ultimate aim of being on Twitter. But that’s only a part of the story.

Twitter for business is a different game to personal tweeting. If you run a Dubai based business that is primarily a local service, getting re-tweeted by a guy in the USA to 30,000 followers will only be beneficial if some of his followers are based in Dubai.

Thinking local will really help when you start out on Twitter. Also, don’t just use twitter to talk only about your company, and what your company can do for others. Unless of course you are offering a free meal on a Thursday night, which may well get some interest going, there’s a fine balancing act to achieve.

Hash tags (#) are a wonderful way of localising your tweets. If you are in a particular street and something interesting is happening use a hash tag i.e.: guy juggling chainsaws on #alwasl #dubai! Which when accompanied by a picture will most likely get people looking, and maybe re-tweeting.

As a business you need to create a template for using Twitter. This way, whoever is in charge of the Twitter feed at any time keeps to a pre-set standard. Having a strong strategy before your very first tweet will enable you to keep on track and (hopefully) not commit a Habitat scale faux pas.

You also need to ensure that you are tweeting at a time when people are on twitter. Every industry will have it’s own optimum times, but as a general rule just after people have got to their desks, lunchtime and just before clocking off are good for the working day. You will find a natural rhythm over time and should test and test and test to see which Twitter times work best to reach your Dubai based customers and clients.

So here are few guidelines:

Don’t just tweet about your products.

  • Do talk about the wider business you’re in.
  • Be social, say hi to new followers.
  • Follow back those who choose to follow you – it’s good manners.
  • Re-tweet interesting and funny tweets you come across – but watch/listen/read all the way through just in case there is something highly offensive right at the end.
  • Use hash tags ‘#’ to localise your messages.
  • Tweet about your blog/new products/great service lightly.
  • Always thank people for re-tweeting your messages.

 

References:

 

@LinkedInQueen http://www.socialmediadelivered.com/

@Danzarella http:// http://danzarrella.com/