I’ve spent the last week cutting the grass in my garden. Yes, it took me a whole week – I don’t even have a large garden. It’s not as simple as pushing a lawnmower up and down – my grass has been neglected since last summer. It’s that long, the rain doesn’t even make it down to the soil– even in a storm! In fact, I was surprised not to find a giant panda hidden in there somewhere, in between the long grass!
I used to laugh at my neighbour when he went out in the winter to cut his grass, trim the hedge and remove the weeds from his garden. I’m not laughing now because while I am tidying up my jungle in the hot weather, he is sitting back in his scenic garden enjoying a drink and soaking up the sun. If I had taken the all-year maintenance approach that he has, I wouldn’t be working so hard on my garden when the sun came out; knowing that by the time I finished everything, winter would be here and I’d have no time to enjoy it!
It’s the same with PR and marketing – it works best when you do it all year round rather than just when the sun comes out. Like my neighbour going out in the winter to tend to his weeds while I stay inside in the warmth, PR is a constant thing and has limited success when only done once for a short space of time. In this scenario, my neighbour represents a business using PR properly.
My neighbour has spent the year maintaining his garden, which in marketing terms means that for the past 12 months he has been building steady PR collateral and gradually getting his business profile raised among his target audience. Even in the winter when he didn’t want to commit to his garden, he went out and did some work on it. Even when he didn’t have time to spend on PR and other things became more important, he still kept that momentum going. Now the summer has arrived and he is sitting back in his beautiful garden and enjoying a drink in the sunshine. The flowers are blooming and he can clearly see the results of his hard work and effort. His business is having its moment in the sun – it is launching a new product, it’s won an award or is celebrating huge growth. Now he capitalises on the PR momentum he has building up for the past year and starts to experience some really huge benefits. People want to know about his moment in the sun because they have been reading about and thinking about his business all year round
Those that have not been tending to their gardens all year round are like businesses that have no PR collateral. When the winter was here it was easy to sit inside and stay warm and laugh at your neighbour as he braved the cold to cut his grass. When other things became more important than PR you did not raise your business’ profile. Now your moment in the sun has arrived and you are only just starting the work – it’s too late. By the time you have finished your garden, winter will be here and you will not have spent a single day relaxing in your garden or enjoying your hard work. When your business has its moment in the sun and you want to let everyone know you have just won an award or enjoyed a record breaking month, it’s really hard work. Nobody knows who you are because you have not been steadily raising your profile so your story is not as interesting to others as it could have been.
It’s a vicious cycle and just like if you want to enjoy your garden in the summer months, if you want to enjoy your business’ moment in the sun then your PR and marketing has to be constant, even when it doesn’t seem so important – to make sure it works when it is important.
I don’t know what you will be doing this winter but I’ll be joining my neighbour, outside in my woollies, cutting the grass in my garden!
A brand new report from Digital Marketers E-Consultancy has found that only ten per cent of UK businesses actually monitor their ROI from social media. This is despite the fact that more than three-quarters of respondents to the survey said they are either running an online community or plan to do so in the next 12 months. We have been promoting the value of social media and helping our clients utilise it effectively for the past couple of years but this report reveals that very few UK businesses are still not utilising the medium effectively enough to enjoy company growth Further figures state that 29% of marketers had set up their company’s own social media accounts in the last 12 months while 35% had been using social media for more than a year. Only 23% of businesses asked quoted social media as a part if their online presence. Those unable to monitor their ROI through social media must not be using it accurately so we thought that we would share our top five tips to effectively utilise social media marketing.
What do you hope to get out of your social media activity? Business growth and profit are one thing but which audiences are you looking to reach out to and connect with? Once you have niche audiences in mind, sit down and list as many keywords and phrases as you can that are dedicated to those audiences and your own business. Set up Google Alerts for those terms too – its free and provides valuable information with which you can monitor and measure you social media activity. By setting out with a clear plan in mind, you can execute a social media campaign that will bring the kind of results you want to see.
2. Build communities
From your list of words and phrases, research which ones would be good hashtags for Twitter and use them whenever you tweet about relevant content. Search for these hashtags within Twitter and follow those tweeting similar stories and information to you. Most importantly though, let people know that your business has entered the social media world and show them where to find you. Have follow icons on your home page and include your social media URLs on your business cards and promotional literature. Nobody will join your community of they don’t know it exists.
Get conversations going on Twitter. Ask people their opinions on topics relevant to you and your business. Make sure you only provide valuable content for people to engage with. They don’t care about what you had for breakfast but may want to discuss popular topics in the news with you.
As we have been saying for years, good quality content is the secret to successful social media. Create a blog and blog regularly on topics that matter to you and your audience. Share your blog posts with your social media collectives and encourage them to comment and share within their own circles. When sharing content though, make sure you are consistent. Pay attention to your tone and style and be consistent with this. If you suddenly switch things around, people will just lose interest.
Get in your call to action. Offer a free ebook or catalogue for example or invite them to read your testimonials to get an idea of the kind of successful work you have done in the past. Without an effective call to action, very few people will actually consider your business for a service; many choosing to keep you as a social media associate instead.
To get the most out of your social media activity, give Bridge PR and Media Services a call today on 02476 520 025
We all know that social media is growing at a rapid rate. Facebook values Instagram at $1 billion and according to a recent report by Forbes, LinkedIn is worth $10 billion and Pinterest £7.7 billion. There’s no doubt that social networking is an industry where money can be made but what about those businesses actually using it themselves? Social media is essentially a free marketing resource but it could cost your business hundreds and thousands of pounds if you make just one careless error whilst using it.
Cost of social media
There are stories all over the press daily about people whose tweets or Facebook statuses have landed them in trouble. What about Liam Stacey who recently tweeted racially abusive messages about footballer Fabrice Muamba after he collapsed on a pitch? He received a 56 day jail sentence. Or Jordan Blackshaw who was jailed for four years after creating a Facebook event page for the London riots? That’s not to mention Paul Chambers who was fined after tweeting a joke about blowing up Robin Hood Airport or Peter Copeland who received a four month suspended jail sentence after posting racially abusive messages on Twitter aimed at Newcastle United fans.
These are all personal instances where carelessness on social networking sites have led to criminal prosecutions, but just as there is a risk using social networking carelessly for personal accounts, the same applies to business. Remember, what is put on the internet stays on the internet. Even long after you have deleted a tweet or Facebook status, it can still be found on the Internet through various sources and remembered. Once something is posted on the web, it stays there in one form, forever.
What should I do?
There is plenty you should do when using social media. Engage with your customers, promote your products (but not constantly – there’s nothing worse than constant self promoters on Twitter!), engage with other businesses and enjoy making new friends – but remember to always think about what you are posting. Who can see it? It is libellous? Could it be taken the wrong way and ultimately should I really publish it?
Social media policy
Introducing a strict social media policy will ensure that members of your business are not sending out tweets that could be interpreted negatively. Set aside and pinpoint the areas of Twitter or Facebook you could eradicate without affecting your business. For example, a celebrity expects abuse on Twitter but that doesn’t mean your business should be seen handing it out. Yes, your team’s star striker may have missed a sitter last night but you don’t want your customers to see you calling them useless over Twitter do you? Keep the personal tweets; sarcastic or otherwise, to your personal account and don’t let them be associated with your business in anyway.
Got your staff tweeting on their own personal accounts? Get them to put a small disclaimer in their biographies stating that their views are their own and not that of the company’s, just to ensure you are disassociated with anything that could potentially spell outrage.
Decide on the kind of people that you should be engaging with and keep it friendly. By following all the local hashtags – #coventrybusiness, #followbigbear and #followcoventry for Coventry – you can meet local business and make new contacts. When someone leaves your business – that is the time to change all your social media passwords to protect against potential hacks. Most importantly though, think before you publish anything online and make 100% sure that nobody can be offended by what you have written.
Keep it fun
We don’t want to ruin your social media activity by throwing in too many rules. After all, social media is and should be a fun and constructive activity, but as soon as carelessness creeps into your social media usage, so too do business risks and compromises. A policy will keep you thinking about your own social media usage and ensure that your personal thoughts never reflect upon your business. Of course, there is room for sarcasm and jokes – social networks would be boring without them but the old rule ‘if you have nothing nice to say, say nothing at all’ certainly has a big place within social media.