audit

Do something great | The Social Media Audit

Its the time of year when we should really be thinking about the impact of our social media. Has all that online effort really making a difference or are you simply wasting time. Whenever I start work with a client the first exercise is to review their current online activity looks like. What platforms are they using. Is there website up to date? Are they posting regularly enough. Could the frequency be improved or is it about the quality of their content?

So many questions, so little time. But we can help. During December 2017 and January 2018 Long & Ferguson are offering a special audit package to help small businesses take a long, hard but fresh look of their online profile.

audit

The offer

The audit can vary to reflect the number of online platforms you are using but you can rest assured we will make some recommendations on how you can improve your digital view.

  • Do you need to generate more business leads?
  • Are you growing your followers, and are they the right ones for your business?
  • Can images help raise your profile?
  • Are you sharing relevant content?
  • If you think this special offer could you and your business get in touch. But don’t leave it too long before you know it the deal will be gone.
  • We will look at your profile, your branding plus keywords
  • Referral traffic
  • Engagement levels
  • Metrics and analytics
  • Benchmarking across your sector

Don’t waste this opportunity to review your online activity, plus agree some steps to ensure 2018 your digital content works for you.

Do something great.

 

 

hashtag

The Hashtag

I have a thing about hashtag. Seriously I really, really like them. You could almost say I love them. Why? Because they help you discover new things on social media. Some hashtags or shall I say # help you find content, people, teach you new skills. Some hashtags just looking at them make you smile:

#dosomegood

#lovewhatyoudo

See what I mean? Its like infectious positivity all wrapped up like a social media present.

Hashtags are used on platforms like Twitter, Tumblr and Instagram. For Twitter you need to limit the number of hashtags to no more than 3. On Instagram its the complete opposite. Go wild as many as you fancy, create your own or simply use your favourites. For Tumblr hashtags are a great way to find interesting and innovative content. Seriously take a look at Tumblr its a much underrated social media platform.

Even Facebook is coming along to the hashtag party. And you know what they say about late arrivals it’s the best way to make an entrance.

hashtag

The fundamental principle of a social media hashtag is to help you organise or file your content. Too many of us misunderstand the power of the hashtag. They feel its a way of attracting attention. Now this is one use of the hashtag but its not the only one.  So below are some ideas how you can mobilise the potential of your lovely hashtag.

Engagement

The hashtag connects you and your brand with relevant topics. Think of it as way to drive people to your online profile. It raises your digital profile and provides a simple way to engage with your audience and followers.  Use your well-crafted hashtag well and it will assist your visibility plus develop customer-relations. Simply look at how the public transport sector uses Twitter.  Comfortability is key, your followers want to get to know you, your brand and what you share this will lead to greater interaction on social media.

Don’t use hashtags in every post, don’t use them when your responding to someone. Same for comments, retweets or reply.

 

Balance

Don’t use hashtags in every single post you use. For Twitter use one or two, no more than three. For Instagram the more hashtags you use the betterseems the view but I would try and use a bit of restraint. Use hashtags that work for you, are relevant or make you smile. Also make sure you use key days and locations #throwbackthursday #manchester.

Don’t try too hard, find a natural balance that works for you or that you feel comfortable with. Also don’t use hashtags for every word in your stream. Hashtag is there to simply organise and find content. Overuse of hashtags can lead to reduced engagement overall so tready carefully.

Choose carefully

Hashtags need to be focused, using simple or frequently used words don’t usually work. Think about your use of # like you approach your SEO. What are your key words? What words really matter in your comment? Do a simple audit across your chosen platforms and see what your peers are using and why.

Not sure where to start research and test your potential hashtags. Look at who you follow, what type of hashtag are they using? Which hashtags are popular this week, today? What trends are emerging in your sector?

So now you can see that this once forgotten character on the keyboard finally has made it.

Summer Autumn Reboot

the Post-Summer Social Media Reboot

It’s time for a reboot. It’s September and across the world a very wet September for most of us. This post-Summer, almost-Autumn period always feels very new term, fresh stationary and sharpen your pencils time. So why not a social media reboot?

I personally quite like it. You come back from holiday, refreshed, restored and ready to get busy. For me the plan is to focus on my networking, developing my business further and continue working with my current clients.

Begin Today

This is going to be a busy period in the run up to the end of the year and Christmas celebrations. I want to be in a good place for 2018.

Mastering social media schedulers, knowing which ones are good value and work well across multiple platforms (trust me there are too many options for schedulers out there) will be the priority. I want to improve my expertise in certain social media areas where I know I can do better.

So lets also use this time to take stock and make changes with our social media, do our Instaram images need editing? Does our twitter account look active? Has our SEO been slipping? Should we put more effort in our Tumblr?

Many of the dailies and magazines are suggesting this was a time to review activity and focus. This Saturday the Telegraph advised me September can be all about fresh starts. This has got me thinking about relevance to social media reboots.

Summer Autumn Reboot

Holiday

I have just come back from a week off in Scotland. It was great, a bit of a digital detox (still keeping an eye on some of my client accounts) but a good time to re-assess what social media tools to use and how effective are they.

Consequently its time for some reinvention, a social media reboot thinking about where we should put our online energies into

  • Developing our business
  • Tidying up our stakeholder list
  • When was the last time we sent an email newsletter to our contacts?
  • Networking, networking, networking what’s happening locally?
  • Audit and analyse current online activity? What’s working and what needs to improve?
  • Check in with clients, what is outstanding or keeps slipping?
  • Should we change a platform are we missing an audience channel?
  • Review our social media accounts; are they up to date, are they consistent? Is anything missing?

reboot

As the weather starts to get gloomier and we start to transition from long days with light evenings to those grey days and darker nights now is the time to review, plan and reboot. If you need help you know where I am.

Facebook Vivs Long-Ferguson

Everybody has a view about Facebook and it still Matters

Everybody has a view about Facebook. Even people who don’t currently use it have heard of it. Why? Because Facebook has continued to evolve from a niche social site for college students to the largest and widely used social media platform. As a platform that appeals both to regular people and to businesses. It has something in store for everybody and steady growth will continue.

Social

Facebook is a social media network designed specifically for interaction through connection. It appeals to everyone, whatever our age or interest. It remains and continues to grow as the most popular social media platform with the highest engagement levels.

Facebook VIvs Long-Ferguson

People create online profiles complete with personal photos and pictures. You can list their interests and preferences, as well as post their contact information, so others can get in touch with them easily.

The site’s popularity, with all its user-friendly features, has made it the perfect platform to locate long-lost friendships and create new ones. Similarly it’s now growing as entertainment engagement platform. You can play games, live stream, chat and share your content.

Some of the most popular social features offered by the platform include photo albums that can be shared with family, friends and colleagues. You can comment, be added on other people’s profiles, and  “groups” which are often used by networks as hubs to share content privately. Want to see what the grand kids are up to? Then you need to be on Facebook.

Business

For business its attractive platform offering companies, organizations and businesses of all types reach an audience of over 2 billion people in any given month. This is good for revenue, but also for building brand awareness. This is a crowded area for business, however its audience levels specifically around engagement are hard to beat.

The high rates of user engagement makes it stand out for me. Groups, Pages and communities tools all provide a social platform designed for interaction rather than have a static business website. You want to receive comments and feedback from your customers? Create a page on Facebook where they are likely to be checking regularly two or three times per day.

Businesses can have their own Facebook page designed to provide an interactive shop window. You can upload content to the platform the same way that any regular user would, with the added benefit of allowing businesses to promote and market their products and services using Facebook’s advertising platform.

Facebook Vivs Long-Ferguson

Community

What next for Facebook. Expect further developments in adverts but also shaping communities, bringing groups and networks together . This next stage of the Facebook mission announced earlier this year. Facebook has made a major pledge and plans to work towards a future goal of “bring the world closer together.”

Will they achieve it? You bet they will.

Instagram Vivs Long-Ferguson

Could Instagram grow for you?

Instagram is Growing, it’s official

Should you be on Instagram or not? Would it work for your brand? There are many who feel you should be on Instagram. I am still waiting to be convinced but definitely open to its possibilities.

Instagram isn’t as big as Facebook but then nothing is. It’s important to remember that this is all relative. Facebook is the major player with growth and engagement across all demographics. Don’t write off Instagram, Pinterest and my favourite, Twitter yet – they are still major players.

In 2014 Instagram announced that it had surpassed 300 million users. By early 2017 the organisation confirmed that they had over 700 million active users per month. In other words, this is a teenage social media platform with a growth spurt.

And while you might think of Instagram as one of the ‘smaller’ social networks, this is in fact not true at all. Because in reality there is evidence that it has more users than Twitter (300 million+ active users per month). This is likely owing to its broader visual appeal.

Facebook reigns supreme

I think the power of Instagram is how effective it can be used with another platform particularly Facebook. As both platforms are owned by the same organisation they work extremely well together. Using Instagram posts to update your Facebook profile is a simple way to generate easy regular visual content. This is a great bonus for small business and major brands.

This provides the perfect way for you to tie all your social media accounts together, to save a lot of time uploading to multiple different channels and to increase your brand visibility. It even plays nicely with Pinterest, which just so happens to be another sorely under-utilized social network for marketers. This is a core objective with your marketing plan, be wary of using all the different platforms that are available to you. Remember think about where you audience is active, and consider where you platforms collaborate.

Instagram Vivs Long-Ferguson

LET’S gO Shopping

On top of all that, Instagram is actually a great place to sell. According to recent studies, a lot of users use it to shop – and some use it primarily for purchasing.

To put this in numbers, 70% of those surveyed by Iconosquare in 2015 stated that they have at some point sought out a brand using it. 62% have followed brands that they love, while 41% said they would be happy to hear about giveaways and discounts.  65% said that rather than being intrusive, they find it flattering when a brand likes their post.

As though that wasn’t enough reason to start investing your marketing time in Instagram, it’s also worth remembering that Instagram like Tumblr is drastically under-estimated by a lot of businesses and internet marketers. In other words, your competition most likely isn’t making the most of these platforms and you have an opportunity to stand out. A note of caution on this though the growth of the Instagram Influencer is definitely rising but it’s still feasible if you are focused about your brand and the type of images you want to share.

Use of the hashtag is fundamental for this platform but I will save this major subject for a future post.

return on investment

Finally, there’s the ROI that this platform offers. Brands love Twitter because it’s so incredibly easy for them to upload content. The same can be said of Instagram – if you know how to take great photos, or you can create inspiring visuals plus upload them and add your hashtags. You are on your way to keep a very active account with just a few minutes a day or even a few minutes a week.

So have a play – try out Instagram and see if it works for you.  I will be focusing on Instagram with a new client over the next few weeks. So let’s see if I change my view and adopt it as a favourite tool.

different Vivs Long-Ferguson

And now for something completely different

Listen, last week I did something very different. Well different for me but probably not for most people unfortunately.

Commuting

I went to work everyday in an office. Not only that but I commuted each day by train.  Setting the alarm clock for 6.30 am, having a strict routine to get to the station on time and not getting home until after 6. It was a weird experience. I thought it would be easy but it wasn’t. It was necessary as I have been working on-site with a small professional services firm helping them understand and use social media.

I haven’t commuted or worked daily in an office for about 15 years or so. You can imagine it was a real shock to the system and I needed a whole day to recover. Mind you from the age of 17 onwards up to my early 40s I worked and commuted to an office everyday so I thought it would be interesting to try it out again. This client specifically needed onsite consultancy and it made sense for this specific one-off project.

something different Vivs Long-Ferguson

To be honest, the work really was  very enjoyable. Collaborating on a 1 to 1 basis to help some individuals set up their LinkedIn profiles, show them how to connect with their clients plus grow their individual and business networks. I also talked to them about other social media tools; Twitter, Instagram and Tumblr . Some of them were using social media occasionally or were thinking of adopting social media tools to grow their online profiles and therefore their business.

Active Listening

I did a lot of talking individually, but more importantly I did an awful lot of listening;

  • understanding their existing knowledge
  • finding ways to provide value to their use of social networks

I also corrected a few misconceptions. My approach as a social media strategist is to find the platform that ticks as many of the boxes as possible. It needs to work for their target audience, plus their natural work styles and interests. There is no point trying to force someone to use Instagram if their clients are not using it or they don’t feel comfortable with this as a platform.

The work was a very enjoyable exercise, I met some interesting people and helped them understand the positive power of social media. The daily commute and  being stuck in an office from 9 to 5 was dreadful. I don’t know how people can do it. Office spaces are not creative or innovative environments.

I am so glad that when I left my full time work earlier this year I didn’t go for another job but chose the freelance route.It was a risk and I wasn’t sure which direction to take but now I know my work lifestyle choice is the right one.

I would have been so despondent working in an office everyday for the next 20 years.

It’s not for everyone, but if you are seriously tempted to adopt the laptop lifestyle, as I have done, then I recommend that you take a look at this simple eBook that you can download for free. It helped me and it may help you.

 

 

Twitter strategy Vivs Long-Ferguson

The secrets of an effective Twitter Strategy

The first thing to remember when utilising any social media including twitter is to make sure you have a strategy. Now, this doesn’t need to be pages and pages of business planning. A simple list of bullet points with objectives can suffice. Too many of us forget this basic step. Consequently, the result is we jump about between platforms, become distracted and forget the point of the original exercise.

Twitter

Let us use my favourite social media platform, Twitter, to dissect a potential plan. Twitter is a brilliant tool to introduce strategic thinking for developing your business. Your Twitter strategy should consider:

  • The audience – who you’re trying to reach
  • Profiles and influencers, you want to connect, collaborate or be associated with
  • Your twitter aims (e.g: my brand, generate clients or traffic to my website and services)
  • What type of content you will be tweeting and RT; news, stories or your content.
  • Schedule of your twitter activity, frequency
  • Your voice or tone. Your tweets should reflect who you are and your business
  • Engagement with your audience and followers

Having a strategic plan in place for your twitter will ensure you’re working towards your business goals. This is the difference between having a presence on social media rather than improving your business profile.

Make it daily

For twitter to work effectively for you need to tweet daily. Make it a habit. All social media networks move quickly and twitter is one that moves fast, very fast. Twitter is not a method to dip in and out, Neither is it something to fit in when you have time. You need to make time to tweet regularly. I appreciate this is a hard task but there are a variety of ways to manage this aspect such as scheduling your activity.

Engagement

Engaging with you twitter feed is fundamental. The daily twitter tasks you need to monitor and check which contribute to engagement include:

  • Acknowledge new followers
  • Like other Twitter content
  • Retweet and share content
  • Responding to other twitter users who like and retweet your content
  • Following new accounts
  • Monitoring trending topics or major hashtags (#tuesdaythougts) and akin them part of your strategy
  • Scheduling posts with different platforms (SproutSocial, ManageFlitter, Tweetdeck, or Hootsuite are a few platforms you can try but there are many free and at cost)
  • Respond to DMs plus make sure you avoid auto responses

To help you make sure you complete all these daily tasks create your own checklist to ensure you get everything done. If you have a team helping you manage your social media the checklist can help your team share the workload. Plus don’t forget my earlier tip, as a rule, try to think Pareto Principle, you should be only posting 20% of your own content, the rest should be other peoples.

Make sure you and your team monitor the account throughout the day. Twitter is fast, moves in real time so if a client has a complaint they don’t want to wait too long for a response. All the data tells us that customers expect a business response within a few hours. Conversations happen quickly so make sure you monitor all your clients, customers, leads and prospects. You don’t want to miss anything vital to business growth.

It’s your brand

So much of our world is now about automation. Whether we are dealing with automatic responses to speak to a service provider or self-service at the supermarket. The irony of this is our craving to do business with other people. We are tired of faceless responses. Social media and twitter specifically can show your personality so let it shine. Your brand needs to reflect you whether that’s serious, professional or fun and upbeat. This element of reality strengthens your online character.  Check out my blog on #askeddie explains this in a little more depth.

Once you decide on your tone, style makes sure is consistent. Don’t change it remember consistency and reliability are vital.

I know it sounds like a cliché but be you. Join the conversation, be genuine, authentic. Retweet what you like, what inspires you and provides a sense of truth. Be human, have fun don’t be boring or unresponsive.

Influence & Promote

When you RT or share a link do you think about credit to your sources. Always do this as it provides further opportunities to engage with others. This is one of the ways you can talk to your influencers. Often tweeters don’t track their mentions or shared content. What you can do is mention them in a tweet this way they will have a notification. Your influencers will take note, and they should if they follow twitter netiquette respond to you and share your content. This type of relationship is all part of the growing strand of influencer marketing. Influencer marketing is the major trend for the future particularly Instagram and twitter.

Avoid Automation

There are so many tools available to you to help manage and schedule your twitter activity. Now, these are great, and they are varied. They can help with spotting trends, identify hashtags, measure your influence, spot your nonfollowers and schedule your activity. Some are free others need payment normally monthly. Find a tool that works for you and helps you manage your twitter but avoid automation.  It’s tempting but don’t do it, using automation can only do more harm than good.

Twitter strategy Vivs Long-Ferguson

Social Managers need to curate their social media content, manually search, monitor activity. They are learning to understand their brand and more importantly the brand audience. This overall picture provides a more comprehensive view of twitter activity. Not just something that can automate.

Avoid automatic responses for engagement and DMs. There are so many horror stories and PR nightmares of this going wrong so make sure it doesn’t happen. Don’t believe take a look at these examples.

You might be confused as we suggested using some scheduling for tweet activity. This is okay but alongside this, you should still be manually tweeting as well. Remember what we said about being real and authentic? Well, there ya go.

I’m still standing

How do you stand out on twitter? There are so many businesses using Twitter for marketing, thousands of tweets are sent out every moment. So how can you stand out from the crowd? Here are a few final tips for you to think about

  • You only have 140 characters for a tweet. With URL, mentions and hashtags that don’t leave you a lot to play with so make your words count.
  • Don’t abuse keep your tweets to a maximum of two hashtags only. Research and use the hashtags that work for your brand, compliment your business or use renowned hashtags to grow your audience.
  • More and more visuals matter so always try to use a relevant image with your tweets. Research your images and use pictures that work with your brand, reflect your style and tone.

I hope this helps you think about your own twitter strategy and if you need help, you know where to find me on twitter.