Archive for the ‘Help & advice’ Category

Be prepared

June 10, 2011

How to Plan the Perfect Dinner Party by Kevin Dooley
One of my favourite pastimes is to watch elite sport, usually on TV but once in a while if I’m lucky live. The genuine action, drama and unpredictability of sports like football, cricket and rugby is what really captivates me, but as a business and marketing professional I often think about the professionalism and hard work that goes into top sporting teams.

The planning and preparation that goes into making a great sports team is phenomenal, with the entire squad, back-room staff and management meticulously plotting the steps they must take to achieve success. But alas, like many, I am not a professional sportsman. However, I have taken away a number of things from the sportting world that can be applied to business, too.

Effective planning and preparation will bring individuals and businesses the following benefits:

Provide direction

A good plan will give you direction, as well as a goal, a set of objectives and a strategy to reach them.

Allocate resources

Planning gives you the opportunity to forecast what you might need to meet your objectives.

Reduce uncertainties

Planning and preparation allows you to assess what problems may or may not exist and give you the chance to put strategies in place to tackle them.

Anticipate action

One can’t assume what the competition is doing or how the market will react. Make an educated assessment of what actions you might have to take based on a set of different scenarios.

Facilitate assessment

Following any action, assess how you’ve performed. By planning ahead you can work out how, what and when to make those assessments and put a framework in place to make it happen.

Make good decisions

The more information you have, the better prepared you’ll be to use that knowledge to make the right decisions and give yourself the best possible chance of success.

For more on this subject as well marketing, social media and digital communications, please visit One Too Many Mornings.

The state of social media 2011

April 8, 2011

This week I took part in a webinar hosted by Hubspot and presented by Michael Steizner from Social Media Examiner that revealed and explored some of the key findings from a new report: the 2011 Social Media Marketing Industry Report.

The 2011 Social Media Marketing Industry Report was compiled following a survey of 3,300 social media marketers who were all asked what question about social media marketing they wanted answered. 2,200 people provided responses, all of which were qualitatively analysed and grouped into the top 10 questions.

The report also looks at the time invested in social media marketing, how social media marketing is being used by different types of companies and – crucially – the main benefits offered by social media marketing.

Although the report is very US-centric (only 6% of respondents were from the UK), I’ve always found that the Americans are often ahead of the game when it comes to digital marketing trends such as these. I therefore wanted to write this post to highlight some of the findings that really stood out for me and will hopefully provide you with an insight into what social media marketers are thinking and where their priorities lie in 2011.

Key findings

• 73% of businesses are planning to increase their use of Facebook, Twitter, YouTube and blogging in 2011

• The top three questions social media marketers want answered:
#1 – How do I measure the effect of social media marketing on my business?
#2 – How do I integrate and manage all of my social media marketing activities?
#3 – What are the best ways to sell with social media?

Half of marketers have less than one year of social media marketing experience, with B2B companies using social media longer than their B2C counterparts

58% of marketers are using social media marketing more than six hours a week, whilst 34% for 11 hours or more. And the longer people have been using social media, the more time they are investing in it on a weekly basis

• The top three benefits of social media marketing:
#1 – Generate exposure for the business
#2 – Increase traffic/ subscribers
#3 – Improved search rankings

It takes time, patience and commitment to see the financial benefits of social media. Those who take the time to learn about social media and use it consistently will see the greatest benefits

Facebook (92%), Twitter (84%) and LinkedIn (71%) are the most used social media tools, with blogs fourth in the list with 68%

• The top areas of focus for 2011:
#1 – YouTube/ video
#2 – Facebook
#3 – Blogs

People want to learn about Facebook (70%), blogs (69%), social bookmarking (59%), Twitter (59%), LinkedIn (55%) and YouTube/ video (55%) the most in 2011

46% of people want to learn about geo-location marketing (FourSquare, Facebook Places etc), although the report found that geo-location is most likely to be used by larger companies (501-1,000 employees)

My thoughts

There wasn’t a great deal in the report that surprised me in terms of the findings. It’s clear that marketers want to begin seeing financial rewards and return-on-investment from their social media activities. The ‘buzz’ is beginning to die down and I’m sure financial directors and business owners are now demanding to see tangible results from their social media efforts.

Facebook is the tool most people want to learn more about and use in 2011 with Twitter not far off in second place. Although I was surprised to learn that blogs are only fourth in the list of the ‘most used’ social media tools, it’s nevertheless encouraging to see them the third top area of focus and the second most important priority marketers want to learn about in the year ahead.
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What did you think of the report? What stood out most for you? Is there anything else you’d have liked the report to have looked at?


Social Media Heavyweights (Part 3)

March 30, 2011

Joe Louis by By cliff1066
This is the third instalment in my ‘Social Media Heavyweights’ series (please go ahead and check out Part 1 and Part 2). Once again, I’ve picked out another five influential people who I have looked to in my endeavours to become a more proficient social media practitioner. To see all the other heavyweights who I believe you have to follow, check out my Twitter list.

Guy Kawasaki
Blog: http://blog.guykawasaki.com
Twitter: @guykawasaki and @alltop
Facebook: http://www.facebook.com/guy

Guy Kawasaki, one of the original employees responsible for marketing (and evangelising) Apple’s Macintosh computers in the 1980s, is everywhere on Twitter, both via his Twitter feed and on Alltop. Guy is a positive, vibrant, charismatic individual who leads by example and has recently published his sixth book, ‘Enchantment: The Art of Changing Hearts, Minds, and Actions’.

Liz Strauss
Websites: http://www.lizstrauss.com and http://www.successful-blog.com
Twitter: @lizstrauss
Facebook: http://www.facebook.com/lizstraussfan

Liz Strauss is not only a social media heavyweight, but a networking heavyweight, too. I recently blogged about Liz Strauss and how she uses Twitter to engage with her audience and this in itself demonstrates Liz’s uncanny ability to connect with her network in a way that makes every one of them feel they are a valuable member of the social media community.

Brian Clark (AKA Copyblogger)
Blog: http://www.copyblogger.com
Twitter: @copyblogger

Brian Clark is the mastermind behind Copyblogger, a blog all about how to write effectively for the web. Copyblogger has tons of brilliant posts and articles (largely from a vast pool of excellent guest bloggers) on how to write compelling copy for headlines, landing pages, SEO … and of course social media.

Lee Odden
Blog: http://www.toprankblog.com
Twitter: @leeodden

When I first became interested in social media, I often searched online for comment, news and information to so that I could start building up my knowledge of the subject. The more I searched, the more I came across Lee Odden and the Top Rank blog. Top Rank offers posts and resources on everything from live blogging to content marketing and social media and is one of my go-to destinations for opinion, tips and best practice advice.

Mark Schaefer
Blog: http://www.businessesgrow.com/blog
Twitter: @markwschaefer

Mark Schaefer was brought to my intention by Mitch Joel, via the Six Pixels of Separation podcast. Mark was a guest on Mitch’s podcast debating the pros and cons of ghost writing. Although I was mainly siding with Mitch Joel (who is anti-ghost blogging), Mark nevertheless made some very good points so I checked out his {Grow} blog to learn more. As with all the social media heavyweights I’ve profiled, Mark is a true expert but is also incredibly down-to-Earth and practices what he preaches. He’s an example any aspiring social media enthusiastic (such as myself) can learn from.

An entrepreneurial boost from StartUp Britain

March 28, 2011

StartUpBritain initiative
Earlier this month, a wrote a blog post about doing whatever it takes to fulfil your goals. In the post, I talked about how the economic downturn is affecting peoples’ life goals and how many workers in the UK have been made redundant as a result of the economic downturn. However, I mentioned that anyone from any industry sector can take inspiration from entrepreneurs and how many enterprising individuals are looking for opportunities and starting up their own businesses despite the gloomy economic climate.

Today the UK government launched the StartUp Britain campaign, an initiative run by entrepreneurs for entrepreneurs and supported by a whole host of companies (including Google, Microsoft and Virgin Media). Aimed at encouraging people to set up their own businesses, the campaign’s objective is to provide would-be entrepreneurs across the country the resources and information needed to give their ventures every opportunity for success.

I think this is an exciting initiative and one that I hope really does inspire people across the UK to take the leap and set up businesses of their own. Entrepreneurs not only instil a sense of belief and fortitude into the hearts and minds of others, but they also create jobs, competition and act as a catalyst for economic growth. StatUp Britain may be the boost many people who have always dreamed of owning their own business need, and I wish any new entrepreneur setting up on their own every success in the world!

Social media heavyweights (Part 2)

March 23, 2011

Cat's Cradle by cliff1066™

This is the second part of my ‘Social Media Heavywieghts’ series (you can read Part 1 here), where I will list another 5 masterful people and resources from the world of social media who (in my opinion at least) MUST be followed!

For a comprehensive list of all my ‘Social Media Heavyweights’, please feel free to log in to Twitter and follow my Twitter list.

Julien Smith
Blog: http://inoveryourhead.net/
Twitter: @julien

I first discovered Julien Smith when I read ‘Trust Agents‘, a fantastic book he co-wrote with Chris Brogan about building your influence and reputation.  What I like about Julien is that he has a great sense of humour and he injects this, along with as a sharp wit and a critical eye, into many his blog posts and social media commentary. If you want to know what Julien’s really thinking – well, he’ll tell you!

Jeremiah Owyang
Blog: http://www.webstrategist.com/blog/
Twitter: @jowyang

Jeremiah Owyang is a new media ‘big thinker’ and web strategist. Jeremiah is an analyst who gets under the skin of social media and digital marketing trends and regularly produces very interesting in-depth reports that contain a wealth of brilliant information. Jeremiah isn’t afraid to tackle the big issues and regularly blogs on a range of both strategic and tactical social media issues.

Harvard Business Review
Blog: http://hbr.org/ and http://blogs.hbr.org/
Twitter: @harvardbiz
Facebook: http://www.facebook.com/HBR

Although the Harvard Business Review isn’t dedicated to social media, if you’re serious about using social media marketing effectively as a business tool then HBR is required reading. The magazine (which I have a subscription to because I’m so afraid of missing out on their reports and analysis!) and blogs offer a wealth of insight on a variety of business issues, and both with give you a very good grounding in solid business principles that form the backdrop to which social media takes place.

Tamar Weinberg
Blog: http://www.techipedia.com/
Twitter: @tamar

If it wasn’t for Tamar Weinberg I might never have caught the social media ‘bug’. Tamar’s was the first social media book I read (‘The New Community Rules‘) and it really opened my mind to what social media can do, how it works and more importantly, what it’s’about’. Tamar is an active participant on the social web and is an expert in social networking, social bookmarking, blogging and much, much more.

TED
Blog: http://www.ted.com/
Twitter: @TEDTalks, @TEDNews
Facebook: http://www.facebook.com/TED

TED stands for Technology Entertainment Design and is a global set of conferences that explore a wide range of topics and subject areas. The people that speak at TED events are more often than not geniuses – Bill Gates, Steve Jobs, Seth Godin and Malcolm Gladwell to name a few – and nearly every TED talk (which is 18 minutes or less) I’ve watched has inspired me in one way or another. Like the Harvard Business Review, TED isn’t about social media, but the ideas and concepts are invigorating and will encourage good practice on the social web.

All or nothing

March 21, 2011

All or nothing
All too often I speak to individuals or companies who are considering using social media as part of their marketing efforts and yet they haven’t got a clear idea as to how it will fit into an overall plan or strategy.

I truly believe that social media marketing can be a very valuable part of a company’s marketing tool kit. But as with any other tactic or communication channel, it needs to be integrated into the overall business or marketing strategy effectively, with clear goals, objectives and milestones in place. Creating a one-off Facebook page or Twitter steam without an endgame in mind is simply using social media as a marketing ‘add on’, separated from from the core values, personality and image the brand is aiming to portray. Consistency is key and social media plays a vital role in generating brand awareness across both the traditional and social web.

Unless you are prepared to commit to social media entirely and use it as a genuine part of your marketing plan then I would recommend that social media isn’t used at all. Many may say that this would be far too drastic and that not participating in any social media channels would be a backwards step. However, the consequences of poor social media implantation has the potential to be much more damaging, with the possibility of frustrating followers or even customers through inconsistent participation and tone of voice.

A social media strategy doesn’t have to be a weighty tome, but it does have to coherently map out why you want to use social media, how you are going to use it and with whom. If you’re not prepared to take the time to put a simple plan together, I doubt you’ll have the time to consistently engage with communities using social media. It’s better to focus on the channels you can use really well (whether they be online or offline) and add value, rather than spread yourself – and your brand – thin across a variety of social media sites where you rarely turn up and join in.

Social media heavyweights (Part 1)

March 16, 2011

Champion-Match Johnson-Jeffries by cliff1066™

Whether you’re new to social media or simply looking for more inspiring blogs to read, videos to watch on YouTube or people to follow on Twitter and Facebook, here is one of a few of lists I am going to publish about the essential social media people and resources to follow. They have been selected from a Twitter list I have compiled (simply click on the link, log in and follow away).

The social media heavyweights set out in this list have educated, entertained and inspired me and I hope they will do the same for you. I have not gone into lots of detail about each of them (you can discover that for yourselves!) but I have briefly outlined why I believe they’re amazing!

Seth Godin
Blog: http://sethgodin.typepad.com
Twitter: @thisissethsblog

Seth Godin isn’t strictly a social media guy, he’s a marketing guy who over the last few years has also become a brilliant thinker and writer on leadership. Although he doesn’t tweet himself (it’s an automated account that tweets links to his blog posts), Seth’s blog – which he updates every day without fail! – is one of the best around. It’s truly inspirational and a fascinating read.

Chris Brogan
Blog: http://www.chrisbrogan.com
Twitter:@chrisbrogan
Facebook: http://www.facebook.com/ChrisBroganMedia
YouTube: http://www.youtube.com/chrisbrogan

Just like Seth Godin, Chris Brogan often updates his blog daily. However, unlike Seth, Chris’s posts are much more marketing related and many of his blog posts are more helpful in a practical sense. For example, Chris often posts handy hints, research findings, advice and opinion, as well as posts on his business and marketing philosophies. He really knows his stuff and if you’re interested in social media and marketing he is an absolute must to follow!

Mitch Joel
Blog: http://www.twistimage.com/blog
Twitter: @mitchjoel
Facebook: http://www.facebook.com/MitchJoel

I first heard of Mitch Joel when I saw his book ‘Six Pixels of Separation’ (which is also the name of his blog and podcast) listed as a top social media book on Mashable (see more information on Mashable at the end of this list).

In my opinion, Mitch’s podcast is one of the best digital and marketing podcasts out there, in which he regularly interviews smart and interesting people throughout the advertising, media and marketing worlds. Mitch updates his blog nearly every day with thought-provoking and philosophical posts, and he alone has taught me so much over the last year or so.

Brian Solis
Blog: http://www.briansolis.com
Twitter: @briansolis
Facebook: http://www.facebook.com/thebriansolis
YouTube: http://www.youtube.com/briansolistv

I’m currently reading Brian Solis’s book ‘Engage’ and it’s fantastic! It’s stylishly written with a wealth of insightful information. Brian’s blog is also brilliant and offers a wonderful analytical look at social media and digital marketing strategy. You must check out Brian’s YouTube channel where you can watch ‘Revolution’ – a series in which he interviews social media champions from around the world.

Mashable
Website: http://www.mashable.com
Twitter: @mashable, @mashsocialmedia, @mashbusiness … and more and more! (Just search ‘Mashable’ in Twitter to see all their accounts)
Facebook: http://www.facebook.com/mashable
YouTube: http://www.youtube.com/mashable

Mashable is a social media goldmine! It’s filled with a mountain of information and the most up-to-date analysis and features on social media, technology and online marketing. And  as you can see from above, there is a whole raft of Twitter streams to follow as well as comprehensive coverage on Facebook and YouTube, too.

Watch out for Part 2 of my ‘Social media heavyweights’ series!


Whatever it takes

March 10, 2011

there is no try - by alamosbasement

The ever-excellent Chris Brogan wrote a blog post last week about persistence and how we should all recognise it as a skill worth nurturing.

Keep on going despite the economic downturn

Chris’s post really resonated with me. With all the doom and gloom regarding the ‘economic climate’ at the moment, I wanted to expand further on the theme of persistence and why I believe it is such a powerful and important attribute to have during these tough times.

With government spending cuts, public (and private) sector redundancies, reduced budgets and rising unemployment, I have personally felt a little dispirited over the past few months or so. It all seems too much to bear at times, but this is exactly why perseverance and a will to succeed is so important.

Persistence in sport and business

Never giving up and doing whatever it takes to get where you want to are the qualities that champions display. In the sporting world, Manchester United at their best spring to mind, scoring goals late on in a match to win the game, or Raphael Nadal and Roger Federer fighting it out – two fierce competitors focused entirely on their personal objectives and completely unprepared to back down.

In business, I always think of Richard Branson and his ceaseless desire to create companies and products to rival others. The story of Virgin Atlantic Airways and their rivalry with British Airways is a perfect example of a visionary leader doing whatever it took to get what he wanted. Despite fierce opposition from British Airways, Branson persevered and eventually met the goal he had set himself – to become one of the UK’s major airline operators.

Take inspiration from entrepreneurs

It’s so easy to give up and yet it’s also so wrong. Throwing in the towel and surrendering is simple – anyone can do it. But what if you stayed focused, stuck to your plans and kept on going, regardless of the naysayers?

That’s what entrepreneurs are doing all around the UK in the face of cuts in public expenditure and increasing unemployment. Resilient and resourceful people who have been made redundant or are looking for a better way of life have rejected the notion that they’re not good enough and have persisted with their own personal goals and objectives. Many of their stories are inspirational and are proof that hard work, seeking out opportunities and persistence pays off.

What motivates you to keep on going? Do you have any success stories to share?

Twitter – it’s all about engagement!

March 4, 2011


Twitter can be used in a number of different ways and it’s great to see people and companies innovate using the microblogging site.

Frank Eliason at Comcast (who has since moved on to Citi) and Richard Binhammer at Dell have led the way by using Twitter as a customer service platform, responding to customer complaints and even seeking out issues that can be resolved. Coffee Groundz, on the other hand, use Twitter as an ordering service, where customers can tweet in their coffee order and have it ready for them in advance to pick up.

Although other companies are successfully* using Twitter as curation or information networks (where they gain large followings by becoming expert sources of information on particular subjects), they often follow very few people back, which is something that I believe goes against the natural ethos of what Twitter is about.

Liz Strauss is a perfect example of someone who uses Twitter very well for curating and aggregating interesting pieces of information, but also as a networking and communication tool. Take a look at Liz’s Twitter page and in addition to all the inspirational posts and links you’ll see a long list replies to others that are responding to what Liz has tweeted about or simply getting in touch to say hello.

Liz Strauss is an expert networker and someone who successfully builds professional networks. And Liz is also someone who really understands what Twitter is about – engagement.

All those replies and retweets show how Liz responds and interacts with her Twitter network. Twitter shouldn’t be used solely as a broadcasting platform but as a communication channel where dialogue and conversations can be fostered and developed. Only by doing this can you begin to build credibility and be seen by others as someone who is willing to share and contribute to the community.

But what else should you be doing to build a genuine, thought-provoking and engaging Twitter presence:

Be consistent

However you choose to use Twitter as part of your brand’s online marketing presence, make a plan and stick to it. Engagement is key and it’s important to show up and join in the conversation on a regular basis. Don’t leave it days, weeks or even months between updates.

If you do decide to create an information or curation network then make this clear in the bio so that people don’t get frustrated when they reply or mention you and receive no response.

Don’t ramble on!

Showing up and participating is essential, but don’t tweet so much that you frustrate your followers! You’ll clog up their timelines and they’ll end up un-following you.

It’s also important not to labour the point regarding a particular issue  or subject matter that happens to be on your mind. By all means tweet about it, but know when to let it go!

Mix & match

Try not to tweet the same type of message over and over – it gets boring!  Even if you work in a relatively unglamorous industry (e.g. a housing association or communications provider), not all of the tweets need to be strictly ‘professional’ and on subject all the time. Have fun every once in a while and tweet about local events, charitable causes, interesting news stories and even the weather. This will help provide your brand with a ‘human’ voice and encourage interaction from the community.

Take an interest

Engagement also involves taking a genuine intrest in what others are doing. Check out what your followers are tweeting about and respond and comment or simply retweet. It’s surprising how simple gestures like this can really make someone’s day. And imagine how delighted one of your customers might feel!

Be interesting!

Whatever your line of business is, try and make your tweets interesting. Just look at what Home Depot is doing on Twitter. They post a variety of different tweets – linked to interesting blog posts and forums – relevant to their target market (DIY), as well as responding and conversing with followers.

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* For the record, some companies don’t use Twitter as an information network as well as others. Even if they don’t follow many people back, it’s still good manners and basic customer service to respond/react to mentions or questions!

With or without you

February 27, 2011

Although I’m a fan, this post isn’t about U2’s seminal hit from 1987. No, this post is about social media and how people and communities may be talking about you, your company or your brand – whether you’re listening or not!

As the web becomes increasingly social, people and communities are being given more opportunity to express their feelings about the brands they encounter. Chatter is occurring, whether it’s in 140-character comments on Twitter, conversations on Facebook or random mumblings on blogs, people are talking all the time.

Don’t hide away

The social landscape is a daunting place and it doesn’t take many prisoners. The democratisation of the web has allowed anyone and everyone to become a publisher and speak their mind. But we shouldn’t hide away and shirk our responsibility to get out there and respond. We must embrace the opportunity this presents to get in touch with the people talking about us or the brands we represent and start a dialogue.

As with any form of customer service, whether it be online or offline, every negative interaction with a customer is an opportunity to learn and take in a positive direction. With social media, discussions are often taking place publicly so the pressure to respond in one form or another is much greater. There’s no hiding place online, so why not jump in and join the conversation?

How can we listen in?

There are many different tools and techniques that we can use to monitor and take note of what’s being said about us online:

• Twitter Search is a great tool for finding out who’s talking about you – right now! Simply type in the key words you’re looking for and Twitter Search will relay what’s being said on Twitter in order of time and popularity (if a particular tweet has been retweeted a lot it will be shown at the top of the search listings)

Google Alerts offers automatic email notifications when Google finds new results for content from web, news, blogs or forum discussions that match specific user-selected search terms. Here’s a great article on how to use Google Alerts effectively

• Google Blogsearch lets you to put your name or company name into the search bar and see what people are saying about you on blogs around the world

• Technorati will let you do exactly the same thing as Google Blogsearch, and although there may be some overlap it’s important to capture both. You can also click on the orange RSS subscription button, copy the link and put it into Google Reader or another RSS reader as a listings search to get automatic notifications going forward

• Social Mention is a social media search engine that aggregates content from across the web into a single stream of information. You can choose to see information from specific places (blogs, images, video) or from the entire web. On the left-hand side next to a list of search results will be a group of very handy statistics and a breakdown of the data collected.

 

These are just a few listening tools to consider – there are many more here and here.

From one-to-many to many-to-many

With so many different people and communities out there talking about you it’s essential that you look at the various segments related to your brand and listen accordingly. Social media is about speaking with, not at people and about joining or starting a conversation to engage with others. It means that instead of producing one advertisement to target a whole group of people all at once, you can can interact with them directly – by answering their questions, making suggestions or simply wishing them a good day when they mention you.

“The conversations that don’t kill you will only make you stronger” – Brian Solis

Although not everything being said about you is negative, some of it might be, and just because you’re not there doesn’t mean that the conversations aren’t taking place. And if you or your executive team are worried about losing control by embracing social media, then don’t worry – you never had control in the first place!

It’s much better to be apart of the conversation than not. So get out there, join in and engage!

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This post was inspired by a section from ‘Engage‘, a fantastic book on social media by Brian Solis.