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Tuesday, 20 March 2012

Alicia Cowan/Keren Lerner Workshop Review

Seminar Review: Social Media for Business - can you afford to ignore it?

As a break with tradition, todays blog was written by the very talented Eileen MacCallum (  

Last week I really joined the conversation. That's to say I went along to one of the workshops run by social media guru Alicia Cowan ( and equally clued-up designer Keren Lerner from Top Left Design (

The day-long seminar aimed to demystify the main social media channels for the common business bod. So folk from all walks of work followed the cheery Muppet-themed (we know, that's why we're here) directions down to the comfy basement of a North London office.

Both prolific tweeters and bloggers, Keren and Alicia talked us knowledgeably through LinkedIn, Twitter, blogging and You Tube (no Facebook due to time constraints), rounding up with a bite-size guide to planning your social media strategy.

Along the way they shared a ton of practical tips, best practices, information sources and tools to make joining the big social media conversation that bit simpler.

Attendees ranged from complete novices to recent enthusiasts. When someone asked, "What is SEO?" they got a relaxed, jargon-free explanation. Another had concerns about how best to manage the degree of personal exposure regular social media interaction can involve. (Solution: dive in but always keep your business goals in mind.) Worries about time-munching Twitter habits were countered with advice on planning and tools, from Buffer ( to Listorious (

I've had my toe in the social media sea for a wee while now and am keen to improve my online marketing. What I gained was a fuller understanding of each platform's role, plus plenty of practical advice to help me manage it all more effectively.

The volume of information was perhaps bamboozling for the beginner - I did see some eyes go a bit fruit-machine by the end of the day - but regular breaks for energy-boosting cupcakes and some light networking helped ease the pace.

As most of us know, social media is all about sharing. Over this informal fact-packed day Alicia and Keren shared all the stuff they know, to help us share the stuff we know, and I for one left feeling all fired up to chat. #timeandmoneywellspent

Tuesday, 13 March 2012

What does success smell like?

Have you ever thought about the return you're getting from all the time you spend on line? It would be terrifying to calculate the weekly social media hours count, but now that it's an everyday distraction, we've almost stopped noticing how much time updating the world via Twitter, LinkedIn, Facebook, Pinterest, Google+ etc takes.

As a small business, time is money, so while Olly and Molly (youtube above) may seem like another timewaster, I think the idea of a physical indication of how you're doing online is something that really resonates.

To measure your success (in sweets or smells or any other way - watch the video!), you need to know what your social media strategy is. Most obvious uses for social media are
  1. Visibility - you need people to have heard of you and know what you do. Brand building. 
  2. Find your fans - ideally you want to build a community of like minded people who share your passion for 'insert your company passion here' 
  3. Customer choice - you can find out what people like/don't like, measure content views etc. to turn interested parties into customers. 
  4. Show your brand is up to date - if you're not on the web, 90% of people won't trust you 
See, it's not time wasted after all.

Thursday, 8 March 2012

Marketing Don'ts - the door to door salesman approach

Copyright (c) 123RF Stock Photos

I'm still surprised that anyone sells anything by going door to door.  Once it was the only way to shop.  It promised innovation, a little treat for the bored housewife, even if it was only an ironing board cover.  It used to work because people lacked both information and choice.  Not anymore.

If your marketing is generic, (no idea who you're writing to), only showcases product features, (rather than highlighting customer benefits) and completely disjoined from your brand, (not in the same colours, fonts or imagery), then you're basically doing a door to door job. Your results will be down to luck and your efforts in the recycle bin without ever being read.

Given the time and energy it takes to produce marketing materials, can you really afford to live on hope?

Generic says "we don't know who you are and we don't care".  Product Features with no context show "it's all about us" and lack of attention to detail is really just laziness.  If you wouldn't be delighted to receive what you're about to post (whether off or online), don't send it.

Your customers are not unknowns waiting behind closed doors. They're yours to learn about, inform, educate and delight. They are at least as smart as you and face the same time/energy pressures, so stop thinking about them as 'them' and start thinking about them as 'you'.

I can hear you crumpling up that flyer.

Thursday, 1 March 2012

Localisation for everyone. Speak your customers language.

Back in the humble beginnings of my career I worked with a software company.  My title was 'Localisation Coordinator' and that basically meant making sure that our products and communications, were in the right language for the purchasing customers we were trying to reach.

Decades on and while my job has changed, the underlying assumptions of that role still hold true. It's so tempting to jump on the social media bandwagon, fighting to produce content for LinkedIn, Twitter, Tumblr, Facebook, Google+, Path, Pinterest etc. Ultimately, you only really need to use the tools that make sense to your target audience, or your ideas will be lost in the noise.

There was an excellent article in the Wall Street Journal this week which showed the following image.  Are you as surprised as I am at how much more time is spent on Facebook than anywhere else?

  1. Where are my target customers today? Do they favour Twitter over Facebook or are they all busy contributing to LinkedIn groups? If you're not sure ask them.
  2. Who do my target customers already trust? Identify the bloggers, publications, competitors, thought leaders and content providers that your potential customers are already following/bookmarking and generally influenced by? Look at their approach.  Make friends with them.  Be seen in their space.
  3. Which tools are the trusted advisors mentioned above, using
Like you, your customers only have 24 hours in each day.  Go where they already are and speak to them in a language they understand, if you want to be heard.