5 things to avoid when using social media

During our social media coaching sessions we come across some great examples of using social media to improve your brand. From Natwest Bank’s use of Vine to PG Tips’ use of Facebook there are lots of examples you can refer to to see how it should be done.

However, on the flip side that means there are lots of examples of what not to do. To help you avoid ending up in the second category we’ve pulled this short guide together.

1. No Strategy

A big bug bear of ours are organisations that create social media channels just because everyone else is doing it. What is the point? You need to have a clear strategy outlining what you want to achieve, where you audience is, which channels are most likely to engage with them, who is going to manage your social media and how you will measure its effectiveness. Once you have outlined this in a strategy the real fun can begin!

2. Too Many Channels

Put simply – it is about quality not quantity. If you don’t feel confident that you can sustain all the channels you are creating then don’t create them! There is nothing worse than an organisation that has a series of social media channels but hasn’t had the time to update them in weeks. This sends a bad message about your brand. It is better to just do a few channels really well than to be everywhere inconsistently.

3. Don’t be a bore

Ever been to a party and met someone who spends all the evening talking about themself? Annoying isn’t it? The same applies to social media. It is meant to be a two-way channel so ensure you listen to what others are saying. If you don’t then you will find you are spending most of your time talking to yourself. Creating content that is interesting requires knowing your audience really well—something that is increasingly easier with Facebook analytics platforms. Being interested starts by responding to comments and continues by asking questions.

4. Empower your staff

Some of the best social media sites are managed by front line staff – trained and empowered to carry the organisation’s messages. BwD Winter for example, is a Council winter management Facebook page giving real time information on the impact of bad weather on road closures and schools etc. What makes this site more interesting is that the updates are managed by the highways staff at the depot so Facebook fans get updates throughout the night when the council’s comms team will be tucked up in bed! Remember though, before you do this you need to ensure they are fully trained and aware of your etiquette rules.

5. No Evaluation

One question you will get asked at some point – usually by a senior executive is “how do we know this is working?”. If you reply by pointing your finger in the air and showing a ouzzled frown you’re going to have a short shelf life. Find out how many interactions you have had and what they have led to. For instance if you have seen a 50% increase in traffic, has this coincided with a 50% drop in calls to your customer service centre or front desks? It is really important that you include clear metrics so that when you are asked you can point out the return on investment.

 

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Five simple blogging tips for small businesses

During our social media masterclasses for new business start ups we look at a host of social media sites but one type of channel that frequently gets overlooked is blogging.

Writing and maintaining a blog is a unique and powerful tool to engage with customers on a personal level. But it’s not easy. In this post we give you five simple tips on how to use blogging to boost your business’ profile and in turn increase sales.

Become an expert

To get where you are with your business you will no doubt have had to build up a thorough understanding of the field within which you operate. Use your knowledge to educate and inform potential customers.

If you are an accountant, give people the insider knowledge of how they can best manage their accounts and how to file their tax returns. If you sell insurance, simplify the complicated T&Cs to help them to understand what’s important. In short you can become a trusted and valued expert in your field with the upshot being when they are in a position to pay for the service you offer they will invariably come to you.

Resist the hard sell

It is important that your blog builds up a following. Just the same as people won’t skip a film just so they can watch the adverts people do not want sales patter thrown down their throats. Your chances of a person moving from a reader of your blog to a customer will increase massively once you’ve gained their trust. If you simply hit them with the hard sell they will treat you like a spam email and avoid your blog like the plague.

Keep it fresh

Blogs take time to develop and there will be occasions at the start when you may question the point of what you are doing. However, the time you invest in this will reap benefits in the long run. Make sure you use other channels to share links to your blog and try and build up your readership base over time. Remember, don’t worry about numbers – it is the quality that is important. Five followers that always share your blog posts to their networks will be far more valuable to you that 20 followers who don’t. Plan what you are going to blog about. Don’t just sit there rambling on one evening. Focus on the quality of your blog as it is your reputation at the end of the day.

Answer questions

Search the web, look on forums and find out what people are asking questions about. I’ve just had a look on a local community forum in Lancashire and someone has asked for advice on the best types of gas fires to have in their living room. If I was a local fireplace supplier i’m sure if I gave some simple but free advice to this person with a link to my blog they would in time come and visit my shop. How long would that have taken from the comfort of my laptop?

Help customers compare products

A comparison blog post can be used by lots of businesses. Take one of your products and compare it with at least one another, explain the differences between them and which is the best choice according to their need. This saves the reader the time and effort of searching round comparison websites and will in time encourage them to return to your site.

Hopefully this will have given you a few simple tips to be getting on with. If you need any further advice drop us an email or tweet us at @redmoor_comms

Happy blogging!

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5 simple tips to get the best out of Pinterest for your business

Pinterest is perfect for businesses – no matter what size as it is one of the only sites where users will expect to find different products with the price included. It has to be used correctly though to maximise its impact. Here are a few tips to help you on your way:

1)     Set up a Pinterest account for your business and stay active

This will help drive traffic to your website but is also essential if you wish to sell products through Pinterest. It is simple to do and like Facebook, you can create attractive landing pages. You must also keep active on Pinterest. Investing some time and energy will pay off in the end as the more you use it the bigger your network will become.

2)     Use resources that are out there to help you

Like with most social media sites, there are a host of tools that can help you work with Pinterest – some free, some paid. Shop around and look at reviews on which are seen to be the most effective. We use Pinstamatic, a British based site to help create interesting boards as it can create them for you from any website. If you wish to sell products on Pinterest then you can use sites such as Shopinterest which are very effective.

3)     Make your own website ‘pinnable’

If you want to generate traffic flow to your own website then make sure it is attractive to look at so visitors can ‘pin’ from it. This will generate maximum impact as those pins get shared, but with each user being directed back to your website. You can make it even easier by including a pin it button on your site.

4)     Know your audience

Using Pinterest is no use if the messages you are pushing out do not reflect your customers. Do your market research – what kind of images are your customers likely to share? – then make sure they are on your website so they can be pinned. Have a look at how your competitors are using Pinterest if you are unsure.

5)     Run competitions

Competitions are great promotional tools and Pinterest offers the perfect medium for running a competition. If you’re just starting out on Pinterest and you want to get some likes and followers quickly, then running a contest might be the perfect solution. There are many apps that you can use to run a contest but a simple approach could be for you to display answers to completion across your website and you invite people to pin the pages to enter. This approach means you are engaging with your customers.

Pinterest can we a great addition to your marketing strategy and the best thing is it is free! It just needs a commitment from you to invest the time in it to make it effective.

 

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10 top tips for using LinkedIn for your business

LinkedIn is a powerful tool for making business connections—but it is just that, a tool. The trick is in how you use it and most importantly – how you can make the best use of it for your business. Here are a few tips to help you get the best out of it.

1. Think about your goals. Why are you on LinkedIn? Is it because you wish to attract employees or is it to try and find new customers? Your goals should determine how you use it and what your profile looks like.

2. Use a photo of your face on your profile You should have a professional looking headshot as your LinkedIn photo so people can put a name to a face. If you are concerned about how many people can see your profile then adjust your privacy settings to have different access levels.

4. Make the most of your headline. Your headline does not have to be your job title alone – it can be a brief description of what you do or can bring. Make sure you keep it concise and to the point

5. Use it regularly Sadly too many people think LinkedIn is something you update when you have some changes and then leave it alone – this couldn’t be further from the truth. Your status gives you visibility on your connections’ LinkedIn home page. If you have found something online your business connections would like, or have good news to share about your work, spread the word by posting it on LinkedIn.

6. Write a rich but concise summary. Your summary should be about you, not your company—don’t just copy and paste the “about” page of your company’s website. Your profile should be about what you do at your company as well as what your company does. Remember, good marketing is as much about people and relationships as it is about your product so if you show yourself to be engaging and passionate about your business that will open doors for you.

8. Add sections to your profile. LinkedIn offers several sections beyond the standard ones so users can showcase the extent of their knowledge and experience. This might include awards you have won or articles you have had published. Adding as many sections to your profile as you can will add depth to your profile. 

9. Quality not quantity. Your LinkedIn network is only as valuable as the strength and quality of your connections.  Like other forms of social media like Twitter you need to think about why you are using LinkedIn. Connecting with a host of sales people in the US might interest you for a while but really, how much value will they be to you?

10. Join and participate in groups. These can be a great way of identifying potential customers and also portraying yourself as a leader in your field. Choose your groups carefully though – check how active they are. Some may have been set up a while ago but people rarely post on it. These will be no use to you so focus on the groups where people are regularly posting information and links.

 

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Keeping a healthy online profile

During our social media training sessions with young unemployed people, it becomes startling obvious that although many of them understand how to control settings, there is still a lack of understanding of the impact what people post online can have on career prospects.

Over 70% of young people have active social media profiles which means that they are making decisions on a daily basis online that could have a huge impact on their reputation.

This article offers five tips to help maintain a healthy online profile

Treat people with respect

On the Internet, people hide behind a veil of anonymity to attack, slander and discredit people they don’t like. With social media networks and blogs, it’s easy to find a stranger to pick on. The number one rule therefore is to treat people with respect. There is a great online video called Digital Dirt Sticks in which a job applicant is humiliated by a potential employer after they rooted out comments the girl had made on Facebook about another girl. Not surprisingly she doesn’t get the job!

Don’t spread gossip.

Thanks to websites like Twitter, breaking news can reach millions of people within seconds. In some cases, this is a good thing. Social media users are among the first to learn about important events and news. When the news is false, however, the speed of social media can get people into all sorts of bother.

A good rule is to be skeptical of what you read online. Check your facts before you share information. If the information is found to be libellous it will not be a defence to claim you did not understand what you are doing – something that has been proven to be extremely costly for Sally Bercow.

Keep private information private.

Some companies focus their entire business model on scraping social networking websites for personal information and then compiling it to sell to marketers or identity thieves. That’s why private information online should stay private. Another good tip is to avoid the photos on Facebook that enourage large numbers of people to share – these are often scams with the intention of selling the information to the highest bidder.

Google Yourself

Employers will often do it so why don’t you? Having a look at your online profile will help you understand what you look like to a potential employer. It is not all about appearance nowadays – what you look like online will be equally important.

Think about the future.

The things you share online are like digital tattoos; they’re there forever. Look at yourself from the outside and remove anything you think might paint you in an awkward light in the future. Sadly, it is hard enough for young people to find work so don’t make it harder by giving people a reason not to employ you.

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5 simple steps to Google Hangouts on air!

Google+ Hangouts On Air is a Google+ feature that lets you live broadcast your Hangout to an unlimited audience. When you use Hangouts On Air, the tool automatically becomes a draft recorded video in your YouTube account so you can edit, publish and share your Hangout with everyone. So, your previous Hangout sessions can become a library of useful video presentations, depending on how you use your Hangouts. With Hangouts On Air, you don’t have to lose the content that was created during a Hangout – so you can repurpose it and get more life out of it.

1 ) Log into your Google+ account, and click on the Hangout button at the right.

2) Give your Hangout a name, and invite a circle of people to join you.

3) Click on the Enable Hangouts On Air box, and you will see a pop-up notification to let you know the hangout session will be streamed on Google+ and YouTube.

4) You’ll need to agree to Google’s terms of service during the first Hangout only. Consider any legal implications if you are using this on behalf of your employer.

5) Click the red Start Broadcast button, and then view the last message from Google reminding you that your video content will be public. Then, you’re on air!

Once your Hangout is over, it may take up to an hour before the video appears in your YouTube account. Once it’s ready, you can go into your YouTube Video Manager to edit the video as you’d like.

It may take a couple of sessions before you get used to it. Just keep practicing and experimenting and before long it will become second nature

 

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Redmoor guide to Twitter and health

Twitter is a great site for learning and sharing information about health. It is a micro-blogging site which limits your posts to 140 characters. This allows people to share a lot of information in a short space of time. This can be in the form of comments on issues or sharing of links to news stories, research and blogs etc.

We always advise people to approach Twitter as though you are at a party or a conference. You wouldn’t simply repeat what other people were saying parrot fashion all the time or just talk about yourself. Vary your content, by all means share other peoples’ tweets but add some of your own opinions – people following you are interested in what you have to say.

  1. 1.    Setting up your account

Go to Twitter to get started. Enter your name, email, and a password. Click Sign up.

You will now be taken to a second screen where you can select a username. This is the name by which you will be known on Twitter. We advise to use a name which can help people find you. The more obscure the name the more difficult it will be for someone to find your account. Remember to click the authorization link that you would have been sent to the email address you provided.

Now click on the Create my account button. That’s all there is to it. Twitter will suggest people for you to follow but you should do your own searches. When you find someone you would like to follow see who they are following and follow them – it makes the job of finding people easier!

  1. 2.    Building up your profile

You will need to add a photograph of yourself (max 700k) to help people identify you and then complete the other bits of information such as the area you live and work. You will also need to complete a short bio of yourself – this is what people will read to decide whether to follow you so try and keep it short and snappy (no more than 160 characters). You can also include a url to your blog if you have one.

You will be given the option of protecting your tweets. Some people opt for this but in my view it contradicts what Twitter is about which is a platform to share ideas and information.


 

  1. 3.    Twitter explained

There are some basic commands associated with Twitter which don’t take long to learn. These are as follows:

  • Tweets – these are the messages you post. They are limited to 140 characters and might be something original or someone else’s tweet that you have chosen to repost (retweet)
  • Retweets – When you retweet someone else’s message the letters RT appear before the message with the id of the person who posted the original tweet.
  • Replies

These are other peoples’ tweets that have mentioned you. They tell you that a person has either replied to something you have tweeted or retweeted something you have posted. Alternatively they may simply be a message from someone that they did not mind being public.

  • Direct messages

These are private messages you have with another person. They are not public but you need to exercise caution on what you post. Do not include anything you would be unhappy being made public as the message could easily be copied through the print screen option on your keyboard. We tend to use these for conversations we might be having with someone that we think our followers would not be interested in.

  • Hash tags.

These are the # symbol attached to a phrase or letters etc. The hashtag is simply a book mark which allows people interested in the hashtag term to access tweets from likeminded people who they might not be following. For example if you save the term #nhs you will be able to keep abreast of any tweets people have posted using the term #nhs even if you are not following them. You will find some of these terms are then used to form hashtag discussions. For example #nhssm which takes place for an hour one evening in the week. You can either take part during the discussion or if you don’t get the chance you can save the term and then look for yourself what was discussed later. Hashtags offer an interesting way of watching live commentary for programmes such as #panorama or #BBCQT. If enough people use the same hashtag it will begin to trend and Twitter will show you which hashtags are trending worldwide, in the UK or by city. If there is a disaster somewhere you will see it on Twitter first because it will trend very quickly. 

4.    Mobile devices and third party applications

If you have a smart phone or tablet then Twitter comes into its own as you are not tied to a laptop and can dip into it at your own leisure. If you wish to use a mobile version of Twitter for your phone or tablet then we advise you download the Echofon app or Hootsuite app but this is a personal decision and you may find one of the many alternatives more suitable.

If you are using a laptop then we advise that you download Tweetdeck www.tweetdeck.com as this sorts your twitter into visually friendly columns making it easier to monitor your twitter feeds as well as searching. 

5.    Some people to follow

Who you follow is personal to you and will depend on what you wish to use twitter for. It may be that you wish to use it socially and not mix it with work. If that is the case then you will want to follow people you know or have an interest in. You may instead wish to use twitter entirely for work or in fact as many people do, mix a bit of both. We have therefore tried to include a mixture of both below:

@hsjeditor @bbcnews @drphilhammond @profchrisham @NHSE_Dean
@bwddph @demos @Stephen_P_Dunn @BarackObama @DeptHealthPress
@jrf_uk @BBCAllegra @Jeremy_Hunt @LisaSaysThis @lord_sugar
@campbellclaret @tkelsey1 @nytimeshealth @GabrielScally @helenbevan
@nhssm @ProfSteveField @Dr_Raj_Patel @LordPhilofBrum @SteveJFord
@BenClover @janedreaper @NickGolding @SocietyGuardian @clarercgp
@benatipsosmori @patrickjbutler @andyburnhammp @FarrarMike @RoyLilley
@BBCBreaking @samjlister @martinmckee @janetath @ADPHUK
@hee_ian @DoctorChristian @PHTwitJC @StuartBerry1 @Johnrashton47
@CDC_DrFenton @northwestPHO @margaret_iff @DanDrillsma @KateAlvanley
@HackneyAbbott @pash22 @BBCr4today @patientopinion @AlisonGiles2

 

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Social media and job hunting

It never ceases to amaze me when I talk to fellow business leaders and they trot out the usual line that those coming out of school do not possess the skills for business yet those same businesses will pay vast sums of money to agencies to build their social media portfolio.

The difficulty is that many young people are social media savvy but these skills are not being used in a work sense but instead socially. As the jobs market becomes more competitive those who manage to refine their skills will gain an edge over fellow applicants. If you find yourself out of work or are seeking a new challenge here are a few tips to using social media to get the job you are after.

  1. Set your personal social media strategy. Which organisations do you want to target and which are the best channels to help you do this?
  2. Build up your digital footprint. This is important as employers will often run a search on applicants so make sure there is nothing you wouldn’t be happy your mother seeing! Also, don’t claim to be something you are not. If you are claiming to be an expert in multi-channel communications as an employer I would expect your portfolio to reflect that.
  3. Make sure channels like LinkedIn are up to date and make use of new up and coming professional sites such as Revl. Also make sure your social channels are a little more professional or at least ensure your privacy settings are secure.
  4. Use sites such as Twitter and Pinterest to expand your networks and keep them updated. You don’t need to go crazy but make sure you have a presence and it all matches the image you want to create through your strategy. Ideally choose one channel such as Twitter to focus most of your energy and time as these are
  5. Consider starting a blog. You will be surprised how interesting blogs can be. The are ideal for showing you have an understanding of topics and are very easy to share. It will also boost your online profile. Sites like Tumblr make this really easy to do.

And finally…

Use social media to do some research before you are interviewed. There is nothing more embarrassing than an applicant who has not done their research when asked about matters affecting the company. There is no reason for this to happen given the ability for social media to give you access to huge amounts of information relating to companies.

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The future is mobile

 

 

This is a great video  produced by Swedish Agency TAT which gives you a glimpse into 2014 and how we will be able to live our lives thanks to mobile technology. If you don’t think this is possible, think back to five years ago and what your phone could do for you then.

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5 tips for a successful Facebook page

Social media has transformed the way organizations interact with their customers. Gone are the days of face to face or telephone only exchanges. People expect more from an organisation. This video produced in partnership with UCLAN gives a great insight into what people expect from an organisation when it comes to social media.

This doesn’t come without challenges. The very essence of social media is that it is two-way. In other words expect questions or criticism that require responses. Similarly expect suggestions that may improve the services you provide.

Facebook offers great opportunities to transform how you interact with your customers but it requires careful planning otherwise your page will sit there dormant. This not only presents a lost opportunity but can damage your reputation in the same way an out of date website would.

With this in mind we’re offering five tips to wow your customers through Facebook.

1. Size matters

Resist the temptation to leave lengthy posts. It is generally felt that any posts over 250 characters will begin to turn off the very people you are trying to attract. Keep it snappy and to the point.

2. Be visual

If you have some great photos or videos which show what your organisation is about then use them. There is nothing more dull than a Facebook site dominated by text. Posting links to sites such as You Tube are easy to do and can have a massive impact on how people view your page.

3. Keep it two-way

Please don’t use Facebook to post out news with no attempt to respond to comments that may be made. It is not all about news. Perhaps visit other Facebook sites that discuss common issues and post comments. This will help drive traffic to your page. Most importantly though make sure you respond. If you can’t do this the same day make it clear on your bio how regularly you access the page.

4. Be relevant

Try and relate your posts to something new your organisation is doing or perhaps an issue that is taking place nationally. In other words show your fans you know what you are doing and that your organisation is relevant to something that is being discussed. For example, if you are a nursery provider and there is some national research showing the benefits of pre-school learning share that data and explain why your nursery is the best and how it benefits children who attend.

5. Use your site for PR

Rather than simply posting links to press releases why not use your Facebook page to launch things. If people think they may benefit from a new product line or some discounts by visiting your page they will ‘like’ you in order to keep abreast of these opportunities. People like to feel they have got a good deal from something so use Facebook to convince them of this.

 

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