12th September 2013
social-media-cloudThere is no doubt these days that businesses are successfully using social media to engage with their target audience. Whether you are a branded household name or a small business making and selling sheds, Facebook, LinkedIn, Twitter, Google+ and a variety of other social media sites are proving an effective marketing activity that improves communications and relationships with new and existing customers. But how do you use it correctly and engage your followers?

Do not sell
The focus should be on building relationships and communicating with your followers, not selling to them. Selling on social networks is going to have a negative effect unless it is cleverly executed (see the Heinz link below). Like PR, social media should inform, share, discuss, invite feedback and generate interest. Constantly pushing products and services at your audience will only result in turning them off your business.

An effective way to generate interest is to find clever ways to encourage participation by offering something for free; for example, a free sample or a competition to win one of your products or services. A highly successful campaign was run by Heinz that massively improved likes and interactions; read how they achieved this:  www.emarketer.com/Article/Case-Study-Heinz-UK-Fans-Warm-up-Facebook-Personalization-Campaign/1008820

Does it work for B2B?
There is still speculation within the industry as to whether social media is effective in a B2B environment. This is probably because business products and services are more complex and it takes a longer time to build trust and develop relationships.

If you can establish yourself as an expert in what you do or what you produce and regularly communicate information that your target audience will find interesting, it is possible to gradually build those relationships.

Social media should be part of a strategic marketing plan that links your online and offline activities to increase overall brand awareness.

LinkedIn is the predominant social media website for B2B engagement. I know many businesses that are getting enquiries and winning new business through actively using it to make new contacts and keep in touch with existing customers.

Here are three top tips from an expert on using social media, Michael de Groot.

Stop talking about yourself and start listening!

You have two ears, two eyes and JUST one mouth. A common mistake I see all the time is over-promotion. STOP! When you engage with someone either face to face or online, listen, watch and learn. It’s in the stories they tell you, they share the secrets of what they need. SHUT UP! Do not be tempted to jump in and solution sell at the first opportunity of hearing their need. It could well be a false direction they are trying to send you in and after all nobody will truly say what they are struggling with. That would be too obvious, too revealing, too embarrassing and definitely not English. Don’t get drawn into politics, for example, “If the government just got their act together, we would be OK.” Focus on the job in hand and ask the most important question, which is; 'What Else?'

How can you assist in ways that are not profitable for you but profitable for your prospect?

Business is built on trust and the fastest way to build trust is to do something for someone without expecting anything back in return. When doing your listening whether face to face or online, listen out for clues as to who they wish to meet and who their ideal prospect is. In fact if they don't give you those clues, which actually most people don't, then you MUST ask the question. It is highly probable that you know someone, who knows someone and before you know you could make an introduction. With the power of LinkedIn this is now very easy to do. It’s YOUR job to deliver the potential prospect to your contact. Trust is built on what you DO for people, not what you COULD do for them.

It’s a numbers game, but they don't add up until you get personal!

Yes indeed, you have to kiss a few frogs before you find the ideal prospect, however you also need to get to know your network better than you actually do. In my experience, you have an intimate network of only 150 people. I call these the 'Power 150'. These are the ones you need to leverage more than you are actually doing. Can you tell me what these 150 people do, who they want to get in front of and what their personal aspirations are? Whether you meet them face to face or via a video call, it doesn't matter, but get intimate, get to know who they are and what their business is about. They are the ones who will help you find the business that you need. As humans we will remember those that make the most noise. I'm not saying be noisy, but definitely be there alongside them, so they notice you. So now go and make a list of your 'Power 150'!

Contact Michael at:

Mark Langston
We get asked this question many times.

There are a lot of factors that will influence where your website will appear in the search rankings. Some of the factors to consider include:
  • How old is your website compared to your competitors?
  • How competitive is your market?
  • How pro-active are your competitors on keeping their websites refreshed?
To give your website a fighting chance against these influences that are out of your control, your site will need to be better than your rivals. Think of it as a house that you are trying to sell for the highest possible price in a very competitive market.

The foundations and fabric of the building need to be well built.
The technical elements of your website need to be correct as specified by the search engines. This will ensure the content on your website can be “read” by the search engines so that they can correctly rank your site, some examples include;
  • Tagging your images with relevant captions,
  • Checking for errors and running validation tests,
  • Site maps
  • Url rewriting
  • Using software to find the keywords your customers will be using to find your website,
  • Writing good content using your keywords
  • Analysing your competitors content

Keep it well maintained.
You need to keep it in good condition and looking good so that when people visit they get a good first impression and want to come back again. It needs to be up to date and use the latest technology.You need to refresh your pages and add new pages regularly. This is where a blog can be very effective for continually adding fresh content. Combined with social media it can be a very powerful way of getting your message across to new and existing customers.

Wow factor
Create a wow factor.
Like the smell of home-made bread, inviting hallway or a new kitchen, first impressions make all the difference. An inviting home page with content that will grab the attention of visitors will make them want to look around and stay longer.

Good houses attract more potential buyers and interest.
Likewise, attracting more visitors to your website is one of the factors that will improve its page rank. Get your social networks working for you and commenting on your products or services to help drive more traffic to your site.

Just as your Estate Agent will give you feedback from visitors, you need to have all of the analytics available on your website to measure visitor numbers, time on site, pages they visited and jump off page etc. so that continual improvements can be implemented.

For more information about how to improve your website go to our Search Engine Optimisation page.

Mark Langston

17th December 2012
It is all too easy to get discouraged when you have to find new and interesting topics to write about that will keep your audience captivated. Here are a few thoughts that will help to keep you motivated.

Who is your audience?
It is not just your clients or visitors to your website, who are reading your blog, Google and other search engines “crawling” your website will be picking up the new content too.

So, how can you make sure your blog is being effective?

Good content
Your blog needs to be well written, interesting, relevant and useful. It should also include the keywords that are relevant to your business or industry. It helps to have a good understanding of your customers and detailed knowledge of your product and services so that you can write informative and engaging content.

As part of your Search Engine Optimisation strategy you will need to know your keywords – these are the search terms most used by your customers to find your products or services.

These can relate to each of your individual products or services. You will naturally use these keywords when writing about your business, however it does help to know which keywords are most searched and if there are any other search terms being used that you have not thought of.

Software is available that will provide this information. This research can often help you come up with ideas for the articles you are writing.

Social media
Your blog can be used to integrate with your social media activity. Your blog provides a two way link for users of social media:

1. Your blog visitors can - like (Facebook), tweet (Twitter), g +1 (Google), In share (Linked In) your blog.
2. Users of your social media sites can link to your blog from your page.

Keep blogging
Don’t give up, it does take time and effort, but if you persevere and get it right the result will raise your company profile and improve communications with your customers.

Mark Langston

7th November 2012

Expanding your reach

If you have a product that is consumer focussed and you want to widen your appeal, then using social media such as Twitter or Facebook to get your products in front of more people is a great way to do this.

But how do you get people to 'Like' your page, or '#follow' you on Twitter?

The trick is to make the information/post interesting, either from a human interest point of view, or an amusing photograph, but perhaps by far the best way is a competition.

In return for a 'Like' or a '#follow', you can put the email address of the user into a modern day hat, an excel spreadsheet for instance, and each time the competition date is drawing to a close, pick a winner for your competition.

Design your competition post carefully, make sure you have a good photo and keep text down to a minimum. You will need some 'Like's' to start with for this to work and you will need to be persistent. But if you ask all your employees/friends/suppliers to 'Like' and '#follow' you, you will have a good pool in which to start the ball rolling.

William Withers

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