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What your SME can learn from social media

Last month, we introduced the first instalment of our three part blog, ‘What SMEs can learn from big businesses’. Part 1 highlighted ‘Guerrilla marketing’ and how larger organisations are adopting innovative campaigns in order to raise brand awareness and create that vital social buzz.  This month, part 2 focuses on social media and how more and more companies are including the likes of Facebook and Twitter into their marketing mix to help grow their business and attract potential customers.

Out of the total 7 billion people living on the planet, 1.5 billion use social media. From Twitter and Facebook to Google+ and Pinterest, social media has now become ingrained into our contemporary lifestyles, making it easier to engage and share content with individuals online, no matter what the social and geographical boundaries. But social media is no longer just influencing our personal lives; one in three businesses now use social media, with 58% of consumers ‘liking’ at least one brand on Facebook.

Companies are now harnessing the power of social media to build their brands within the landscape of status updates, pins and tweets. To create successful social media campaigns, an investment of time is essential. However, this alone is not enough. A note of caution – it is easy to rush into tweeting and posting pictures, without really understanding why you are doing it and what you hope to achieve. Like any marketing activity, researching, planning and implementing strategies are critical to turning a great idea into great results.

Here are some good and bad examples how some well known companies have used social media to engage with their audience.

1. In October 2012, Cisco, the multinational networking equipment giant, wanted to make sure that they were listening to their customers and responding to questions and queries in ways that were relevant and accurate. With this in mind, Cisco launched their Social Media Listening Centre. On a daily basis, the centre monitors around 5,000 social mentions across 70 company-related platforms, from Facebook pages, Twitter accounts, LinkedIn and YouTube, to company blogs and forums. According to a recent independent evaluation of these listening activities, Cisco achieved a 281% return on their investment over a 5-month period, amounting to an annual cost benefit of over just over £991 million. This was calculated by comparing what Cisco spent on implementing and training staff to use social marketing tool with the benefits received, the avoidance of marketing and customer service costs to achieve the same results, along with indirect benefits, such as increased staff productivity. The results indicated that the new centre helped Cisco employees deal with more enquiries at a faster rate.

2. To celebrate their 100th anniversary, Oreo posted 100 adverts on their Facebook page over 100 days. During the campaign, Oreo’s Facebook friends went up from 26million to 27million and its Facebook interactions increased by 195%. The posts included relevant topics, quotes about Oreos, humorous cartoons and even Oreo themed recipes. The time invested in developing their Facebook campaign paid off as Oreo won the top Studio Award prize from Facebook.

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3. However, interacting closely with consumers online can backfire if you have not planned your campaign successfully.  Earlier this year, Tesco posted on their Facebook page “Click LIKE if you love getting your groceries delivered.” Alongside people liking the post, there were numerous comments from customers explaining their bad experiences with Tesco’s home delivery service. Tesco did not ignore or delete the comments, instead they responded to every single user, asking for details so they could look into each case and try and solve the problem.

4. Unfortunately, Waitrose’s attempt at #hashtags wasn’t exactly what they had planned either. In 2012, Waitrose invited customers to complete the sentence ‘I shop at Waitrose because… #WaitroseReasons’.  What Waitrose thought was a great way to showcase the affordability of the brand backfired, with Twitter users mocking the brands position within the market and their target audience. For example, ‘I shop at Waitrose because it makes me feel important and I absolutely detest being around poor people #WaitroseReasons. ‘I shop at Waitrose because I was once in the Holloway Rd branch and heard a dad say ‘Put the papaya down, Orlando!’

For a company embarking on using social media as part of their marketing, the seemingly endless choice and possibilities can see daunting. However, adopting the right platforms to represent your brand is important.  Twitter and Facebook are good for creating conversations with customers and responding to queries, complaints or praise. For the brands that are more visual, sites like Pinterest and Instagram provide an array of creative opportunities. The key to successful social media isn’t just about how many fans, followers or mentions you have, instead the secret to building your brand is the interaction between your business and your online community. For your campaigns to run smoothly, creating a social media strategy is essential. It will help your brand stay in the right direction, generate a return on investment, as well as increase your visibility online.

#MarketingTitbits – marketing, ASDA, Google

asda-google-marketing-smaller21. What can we expect from the next decade of marketing?Marketing in some form, impacts upon virtually every individual and business on the planet. That’s why we think it’s really important for you to have a look at this article from Forbes. Not only do they outline what we can expect from the next ten years in terms of marketing, they illustrate how marketing has developed over the last 50 years. Everything mentioned can easily be applied to your business – not matter how big or small. To read more, click here.

2. ASDA lets shoppers create models of themselves using 3D printing

Have you ever wanted a model of yourself? No – us neither, but for those that that have, ASDA is the place for you right now. Just in time for Christmas, ASDA is launching its newest product. Using 3D printing, customers can now buy models of anything they like. You, your pet or even your car, the list is endless. Shoppers can even chose the finish of their model – coloured, white or bronze. You can scale the model to any size. Prices start at £40 and go up to £250. To read the full article, click here.

3. Google says users are clicking on more ads

As you know, Google is world’s biggest search engine, handling over an estimated 100 billion searches every month. On a daily basis, 500 million of those searches have never been seen by Google before. As users searching habits change, Google has to respond. One trend Google has also observed this year is that the total amount of paid clicks has gone up by 26% – this is thought to be caused by users accessing Google via mobile devices. To read more,click here.

 

Safety First

You may be aware that earlier this week the BBC launched their Share Take Care’ campaign, encouraging everybody to actively protect their online activity. As a society, we are concerned about the photographs, status updates and information we share with fellow family members, co-workers and friends, taking time to monitor our own security settings. However, how many of us apply the same effort and methods to protecting our business accounts online?
Social media presents businesses with many opportunities, including customer support and the ability to communicate quickly with customers and suppliers. The communications giant NETGEAR recently commissioned a piece of research looking at how important social media has become for businesses. NETGEAR asked 300 small business owners and IT managers how they were using social media in their company. Nearly half of those polled said they were using social media to stay in touch with their customers and nearly 60% said they were using social networking for internal communications. But only 29% said that had made moves to educate their staff about the risks social media may present to their business and what they should be doing to monitor their brand awareness online.

The reputational risks of social media can easily equal or exceed the reputational benefits. The reason is simple; the vast reach of social media platforms enable brands to communicate every second, globally, providing both opportunities and risks. You may remember last year, TLC Business highlighted key areas to help protect your business online.  We thought now would be the prime time to inform you again of the simply steps you can perform, in order to secure your business and its reputation on social networking sites.

Educating employees:

The developments in social media are here to stay, so empower your employees with best practices and guidelines.

  • Create, update, communicate and enforce a company policy that specifies social media do’s and don’ts, including how employees may interact with visitors and use visitors’ information.
  • Identify the key players who will be responsible for developing, executing, and monitoring your social media strategy. Assign at least two administrators for your account. The admins should monitor and promptly respond to new Facebook and Twitter policy changes and features, always considering the impact on the business
  • Sit down with your team and explore the topics and voice you would like to channel to your target audience; create a content plan that employees can follow and use as a guideline throughout the year.

Monitoring conversation online:

Here at TLC Business we recommend Google Alerts as a vital tool to monitor what is being said about your brand. Google Alerts is about understanding what type of information is out there that’s tied to your name, and most importantly your business.

Google Alerts are email updates that are sent to you for whatever keyword or phrase you decide to set the alert. As soon as your name is mentioned anywhere on the Internet, you are sent an alert immediately.

There are other tools out there that do a similar thing but be aware that the results are not definitive, the web is a massive place.

There are only 5 pieces of information that you need to provide to start using Google Alerts:

  1. The word or phrase you want to be alerted about: company name, your name, your products, etc
  2. The type of search: news, blogs, video, discussions, or everything
  3. How often: as it happens, once a day, or once a week
  4. Volume: only the best results or all results
  5. Where the alert should be delivered: email address or feed

One of the latest social media activities to come under fire is a campaign ran by McDonalds. The fast food chain started a campaign on Twitter promoting #MeetTheFarmers, to show how good McDonalds is, but suddenly they changed gears to #McDstories; which unfortunately backfired when people shared their horrifying stories.  See below for some of the tweets circulated worldwide:

  • #McDStories Take a McDonalds fry, let it sit for 6 months. It will not deteriorate or spoil like a normal potato. It will remain how it was
  • ‘These #McDStories never get old, kinda like a box of McDonald’s 10 piece’

Like any business feature or marketing activity, creating and communicating a clear plan is crucial to avoid mistakes. If you are worried how your brand is going to be perceived online, spend time evaluating the right message you want to send out to your target market, what information they will find useful and more importantly what messages can be monitored and dealt with by your team.

#MarketingTitbits – Google+, Instavid, Guinness

Google+-Instagram-Guinness-smaller1. The beginners guide to Google+
When Google+ first launched in 2011 they had 10s of millions of users sign up within the first few months. Despite constant scepticism since, the platform has been growing steadily and now boasts in excess of 235 million users. Because of the lack of understanding of what Google + actually is, many people and businesses have refrained from becoming a Google+ user. However, we have always felt that if you want to succeed with SEO on Google you need to play by Google’s rules. It is likely that Google + is central to one of these rules. If you are not already active on Google +, we think it would be a good idea for you to have a look at this beginners guide to Google+. To read the article, click here.

2. 10 of the most shared brands on Instagram

About three months ago, in an attempt to keep up with Vine, Instagram released an update that allows users to upload videos as well as photos. The majority of videos uploaded are from regular Instgram users, but 40% of the 1,000 most shared Instagram videos (Instavids) last month came from brands. The videos uploaded are a maximum of 15 seconds long and are already giving the 6 second long video app, Vine, competition. This week, we saw an article from econsultancy highlighting 10 of the most shared brands on Instavid, to have a look click here.

3. Guinness / Jonathan Ross advert #RoundUpYourMates backfires

On Saturday October 26th, Guinness aired three adverts during the break between The Jonathan Ross Show. The advert asked viewers to join in on Twitter with the hashtag #RoundUpYourMates. Unfortunately for Guinness, the campaign backfired and was heavily criticised, being called “painful” and “sexist” amongst other things.  Some of the #RoundUpYourMates tweets included:

Lee McEwan ‏@leemcewan 27 Oct
Interrupting a TV show with a worse version of the same TV show devalued the TV show itself #roundupyourmates

Paul Connolly ‏@PaulConnolly10 26 Oct
#RoundUpYourMates the grand tradition of great Guinness adverts died tonight

Mark Gordon ‏@markjgordon 26 Oct
The @GuinnessGB marketing team must be praying for that hurricane on Monday to take the spotlight off them. #roundupyourmates

To read more from Marketing Week click here.

Top Marketing Tips For March 2012

  1. Following on from this month’s blog on Google+, we have provided you with a useful website that includes 5 simple steps to building a good business page on Google+.
  2. Pinterest is the latest social networking site aimed at sharing what interests and inspires users. Pinterest is a pinboard-styled social photo sharing website. The website allows users to create and manage theme-based image collections. Pinterest’s goal is to connect everyone in the world through the ‘things’ they find interesting.
  3. Twilert is a Twitter application that enables you to receive regular email alerts of tweets containing keywords associated with your brand, product and service. Think of it as theGoogle Alerts for Twitter.

#MarketingTitbits – John Lewis, squats, Google

JL-Squats-Google-smaller1. John Lewis’ Christmas advert set to break its own records!

John Lewis have been gracing our screens with captivating Christmas adverts since 2007. The first one, in 2007, “Shadows”, showed a range of different Christmas gifts set up so that when a light was shined on them they created a shadow shaped like a woman with her dog. However, it wasn’t until 2011 that John Lewis made history.“The Long Wait” showed a little boy impatiently waiting for Christmas day and when it finally came he ran straight past the presents piled up at the end of his bed to give his mum and dad a present, the caption was “For gifts you can’t wait to give”.

The following year we saw “The Journey”, which illustrated a snowman travelling far, through woods and over rivers and mountains to get his Snowlady a scarf, hat and gloves, the caption was “Give a little more love this Christmas”.

And so to 2013 and “The Bear and the Hare” – a story about a hare whose best friend, the bear, hibernates every Christmas. After much deliberation the hare comes up with the perfect gift for his friend, an alarm clock to wake him up on Christmas day. The caption this year reads “Give someone a Christmas they’ll never forget”.

Despite huge popularity around John Lewis’ Christmas adverts over the past 3 years, this year’s ad is set to break its own records – in social media terms anyway. Within the first 24 hours after it was launched “The Bear and the Hare” was mentioned in 49,152 tweets which is more than double the 21,027 it got last year.

To read the full article, click here.

2. 30 squats = 1 train ticket (if you live in Moscow)

The price of train tickets have been rising for many years and are now at an all-time high. Unless you live in Moscow…

Forget the ruble, a Russian train station in Moscow now accepts 30 squats as payment for a train ticket. The exercise is a gimmick to promote the Sochi Winter Olympics, which are coming up in 2014. We think this is a great idea to promote exercise and at the same time getting a free train ticket!

3. The hidden features of Google

Roald Dahl once said “And above all, watch with glittering eyes the whole world around you because the greatest secrets are always hidden in the most unlikely places.” And here is one of those unlikely places. They may not be the best kept secrets but Google have created some secret features that we’d like to share with you. To have a look at the hidden features of Google, click here.

 

Google+ Just Got Interesting

For many, the term Google+ is relatively new. Unless you’re not actively participating, it is easy to shy away from updates and news surrounding yet further developments in the social media sphere.
Google has produced a number of social networking sites over the years, Orkut, Buzz and Wave spring to mind. However, none of them made Google a serious competitor in the social networking market….until now. Last June, Google released its latest social networking tool. When Google+ first launched, millions of users flocked to the new service, ten million in 16 days to be exact. However, only recently has Google+ allowed brands to showcase their services. So where does Google+ fit in your marketing plan for 2012?


Back to basics, so what is Google+ exactly?

Let’s start at the beginning; Google+ is Google’s latest attempt to enter the “social” world, currently dominated by Facebook and Twitter. Google+ is an amalgamation of several services we already use, the idea, according to Google, is to do them better. The easiest way to think of Google+ is not as a place like Facebook but as a layer on top of all the Google services we already use daily. Google has a lot of services that are at the centre of people’s online lives: their search engine, Google Maps, YouTube, Gmail and so on. Google wants to create a central hub, where all their services can come together.

Think of a Google+ business page as a mini website for your business, with social networking features built in, and hosted by Google. Google+ allows brands to build relationships between businesses and consumers. Like Facebook, you are given the ability to share, promote, and measure your fan engagement. Statistics show that in January 2012 there were over 90 million Google+ users, significant growth and the catalyst for businesses to start integrating Google + into their social media mix.  Both Google+ profiles and business pages provide robust platforms for companies that want to grow their web presence and create real conversations with prospects and customers. There is also another benefit. Having an active Google+ presence for your business, brand or name has powerful implications for search engine optimisation….of course. Google is still the largest search engine in the world, not to mention the owner of YouTube and now the +1 button appears in search results.


What key features can you expect from Google+?

  • Circles, you can organise all your contacts into circles. You have the ability to target different segments of your audience through the Circles, enabling you to group prospective customers; people aged 18-35, Men 60+, or even employees into different circles.  This means you will be able to control and target different messages to different circles. You can also see what conversations are going on in each of the circles.
  • Hangouts is another feature of Google+, which allows group video conversations to take place. Google+ gives you a “start a hangout” button, which will publish an update to your profile saying, “TLC is hanging out”. Up to 10 people can be in a hangout at any time, they’re free and they can be private or public. Users can also watch YouTube videos in sync with the other people in the hangout, a useful tool for virtual meetings etc.


What your business can do with a Google+ business page:

  • Conduct video conversations with employees
  • Live Q&A sessions
  • Product demos
  • Customer service “office hours”
  • Focus groups
  • Free training
  • Recruitment

Take a look at how Virgin have used Google+
Virgin has been busy using its Google+ page to help recruit 500 new crew members and offering followers a chance to meet CEO Richard Branson face-to-face. As well as Virgin, many other of the group companies are present on Google+, from the airlines Virgin Australia and Virgin Atlantic providing travel updates, to Virgin Money, sharing all the latest details of their mission to rejuvenate the banking system.

You may think. ‘Well my business isn’t exactly a big consumer brand like Virgin, Toyota or Pepsi’; however, Google+ business pages offer exciting opportunities for even the smaller brands, allowing great potential to target key Circles with specific messages and  derive SEO benefits for your website.

Google+ is still at the start of its long journey to social media domination; however, starting to think about building your business page, the interesting content you can display and the ways you can further engage with other businesses and prospects effectively online, can only be an added bonus to your marketing plan in 2012.

Visit our March Marketing Tips to get started with Google+ today.

Top Marketing Tips September 2012

  1. A tool to help you expand your Google+ following. Use Find People On Plus to search for individuals and companies using Google+.
  2. Followerwonk helps you explore and grow your social graph. Dig deeper into Twitter analytics: Who are your followers? Where are they located? When do they tweet?
  3. Removeem, a tool for identifying which backlinks are hampering your SEO efforts.

Marketing Titbits – SlideShare, changes to Twitter and Google +

Following on from the launch of our ‘Marketing Titbits’ at the end of last year, here are 3 ‘titbits’ we think you need to know about this week:

  • In 2013, SlideShare is predicted to be the fastest-growing social network site, alongsideFacebook and LinkedIn. 2013 is the year content is predicted to become the new advertising. With this in mind, SlideShare provides businesses with a dedicated platform to showcase and share your own content. If you want to know more about SlideShare click here.
  • Twitter have announced that in 2013 your Twitter feed will be personalised to your interests and “TweetRank”. It also measures the popularity of various tweets e.g. how many retweets and favourites various tweets get and promotes more popular content. Expect some changes in your Twitter feed as a result.
  • Despite failing to attract headlines Facebook and Twitter do, Google’s social media offering is going about its business quietly but effectively and is now estimated to have in excess of 135 million active users. Not exactly a failure and currently growing as fast as Facebook. As each week passes, it becomes clearer that Google + is not just another social media site to rival Facebook or Twitter. Instead it is becoming the glue that holds Google’s diverse range of services together. As Mike Elgan puts it, think of all the other services Google offers (email, docs, search etc.) as ‘features’ of Google +. We are convinced Google + will become an increasingly important component of your businesses online strategy in 2013.

Marketing Titbits – Picture Monkey, Meetup & the latest update from Google Adwords

1. Want to quickly edit a picture, but don’t have Photoshop? Picture Monkey could be the answer. This online photo editing tool provides you with the opportunity to edit your images quickly from any computer, whether you are at home or in the office. Picture monkey has various templates, frames or colour effects that you can apply to your chosen image for free. For more advanced features, including a ‘spray tan’ or ‘wrinkle remover’, you will need to sign up to the website and upgrade.
2. Are you new to the area? Want to organise a networking event with like-minded people?Meetup is slightly different from other social media websites, the sole purpose is to organise real life meetings, whether you want to start a group for Southampton Web Developers or SMEs in Winchester, Meetup can help make this happen. According to Meetup, more than 9,000 groups get together in local communities each day. It is free to sign up and you can choose specific locations and interests.

3. Google have launched a new style of campaign in AdWords, called Enhanced Campaigns. The latest update has been designed to simplify campaign management across multiple devices and encourage more SMEs to adopt mobile advertising. The focus of the change is to enable advertisers to target people at the right time, in the right place, with the right advert and call-to-action.  Essentially, the biggest and most relevant change is that Google are growing more contextually aware. If a user is on a mobile device they will see ads that you have marked as “mobile preferred”.