6 reasons to start a blog

6 reasons to start a blog image

I understand. It takes time. You have more pressing things to do. You only have so many hours in the day. You spend enough time already on social media. You have nothing to write about.

I have heard it all before and these are all very valid reasons not to write a blog but if you really stand by these excuses, you will be missing out on one of themost important aspects of your digital strategy. If you want to be known for your ideas and thoughts in your interest or business sector, then the most effective path, though under-rated, is through blogging. The blog should be the hub for your social strategy.

When people attend my social media workshops they are focused on which platform to use for their business. Some people might use Facebook as their main communication tool, others use Twitter or LinkedIn. Of course you need to use the best medium for your message but one thing to be aware of is that these platforms are forever evolving, changing their algorithms and rules and could merge, change or disappear overnight. Your content may go with them. Making sure that you own and control your own content prevents you from being vulnerable and that is where a blog becomes a very valuable asset.

Writing is still the most definitive medium for demonstrating expertise on the web. There is always a need for expert content.

If I carry out any research on a topic, I often search specifically for blogs on that topic because I know that the information will be up to date, informative, generally written by a notable or credible expert and lead me to other trusted sources of information.

Writing a blog is a bit like writing an article. They don’t have to be complicated and long, just informative and engaging. I follow many bloggers online, some for business purposes and keeping up to date and others for entertainment or general interest. I am a member of a local group called Mayo Bloggers on Facebook https://www.facebook.com/groups/mayobloggers/ and the variety of bloggers contributing to the page is wide and varied but always interesting. It is a place to go for entertainment, inspiration and education.

I follow other serious bloggers who write about social media and blogging e.g. www.jeffbullas.com  amongst many others. I read these blogs as if I am reading a daily newspaper. It’s where I get my up to date information, hear about the latest news and trends, find some inspiration and generate ideas for my own business.

 Here are 6 reasons you need a blog:

1. Creating original content with your target user in mind will build your credibility and position you as an expert

As you writexperte on a consistent basis for the audience you have defined, people will follow and anticipate your next blog post. Consistency and quality of content are key to this success.  The more you write around your chosen topics, you will soon build a body of work that demonstrates that you know your industry/business/interest area and followers will see you as the destination for this type of content.  As well as informing people, the aim is to engage people in discussion and debate about your blog topic. That is where the real value starts.

 

 2. It helps you to focus on what is important in your business

To keep a blog going, youImportant word in a triangle need a plan or schedule to stick to. As you are thinking through topics that are interesting to write about, you are actually thinking through what is important, inspiring or newsworthy in your business or business sector right now. This can help you to prioritise activities, highlight important issues and focus on the areas of your business that you want your customers hear about.

 

3. It provides inspiration for content to share and adapt

Use again

Having taken the time to write and maintain a blog, re-purposing the content in as many ways is possible will give you real value for your efforts. Rather than just posting a link to the blog, the material can be re-used in many different ways e.g. a Slideshare presentation, speeches and corporate workshops, posts for LinkedIn, a Facebook update, the basis for a podcast or short video. The content is given longevity and can be an ongoing source of information.

 

4. It generates ideas and engages people within and outside of the business

Ideas

Having to sit down and plan the content for you blog really helps to generate ideas and can be a very creative process. It is an opportunity to get other people in your organisation involved with the blog perhaps by asking specialists to contribute content. There is also the opportunity to ask a client or other external experts to contribute a guest blog, thereby increasing the validity of your content.

 

5. It gives you an excuse to talk to clients, potential customers and other experts about your business area

Discussion

The blog should invite comments and discussion amongst your readers. Your blog is truly working for you if a customer or other expert in your area starts an online discussion about the points you have made. Respond to them as quickly as you can. This is the engagement you need to position yourself as a credible expert in your area.

 

 

6. It is a great way to get feedback and get to know your customers better

Feedback

Feedback on your blog is to be invited and valued. If you receive feedback, it can guide you to what people are thinking and perhaps give you better clues as to what your customers are looking for. If you are discussing a real pain point that your business is trying to solve, then feedback or comments from people can be invaluable in testing out if these are right or if there are other areas of concern that you should focus on. It is also an opportunity to directly ask your readers what issues they would like you to write about.

This is Part 1 of a 3 part series about blogging. Part 1 discusses the need for a blog. Part 2 discusses how to get your inspiration and keep writing. Part 3 discusses how to promote the blog and engage with your target audience.

In Part 2 of this series next week, I will be looking at how to get inspiration for your blog and how to maintain the momentum. Meanwhile, get planning!

The social law firm: reality or myth?

social networks imageA few years ago, I carried out a benchmarking study across different types of professional service firms, e.g. lawyers, accountants, advisory, HR, etc to assess how they used online information tools to communicate internally and to market themselves externally with clients. The results showed that it was the law firms who were the most under-developed in this area.

Since then, economic and market pressures have changed the landscape, the professional services scene is much more competitive and clients themselves are demanding more from their advisors.  Clients now have more choice when selecting a legal practice and are much more informed buyers thanks to Google.  Apart from asking around in their network for opinions of your firm, they can find out about you online, checking out how you represent yourself, see who your clients are, what you specialise in and if you are a thought leader in your field. So, what you say online and how and where you say it, is critical for your reputation.

The real art of marketing legal services is no longer passive. This is where using social media tools can bring a huge advantage to your firm, large or small, if you get it right. The opportunities to engage directly with clients and potential clients are very real and to realise the benefits of this, lawyers must now do one thing. Become social.

Networking and engagement through online commentary and sharing is becoming increasingly more important for lawyers looking to build word of mouth and lasting relationships. People hire lawyers, not firms. Therefore relationships matter (as they always have offline) and this is all the more reason for individual lawyers to use social media effectively.

 Which tools should you use?

Social media icons

Social media tools such as Twitter, Facebook, LinkedIn and blogs provide fast and cost effective ways to keep in touch with clients and prospects, keep an eye on competitors and keep up-to-date with industry trends. But how do you know which is the best tool to use? Maintaining a presence on social media is time consuming so making a careful selection of the most relevant tools for your firm is critical.

The top tools currently used by law firms (there are many others) are LinkedIn, Twitter, Facebook, blogging and Google+ (although rare). Many law firms start out by assuming that the best social media platform for them is LinkedIn but that’s not necessarily the case. It is a great B2B marketing tool but for sheer number of users, Facebook has far greater reach with 1.35 billion active monthly users. That’s not the total number of users worldwide, but active users which is more important. LinkedIn has 187 million active users and Twitter has 284 million.

Facebook is often dismissed by lawyers as a place for personal networking and where younger people chat and socialise but in fact, of users aged 35+years, 80% are using Facebook for both personal and professional networking. Of this age group, only 66% are using LinkedIn.

Networking savvy lawyers are finding Facebook a good choice when it comes to building relationships and word of mouth. Consumers and businesses, at all levels, want to get to know their lawyer – personally and professionally – and Facebook provides the opportunity to do both. Twitter fits alongside LinkedIn and Facebook and is a more immediate marketing tool for announcements, promoting content and generating leads. It is also an invaluable tool for monitoring your competitors and industry developments and finding influencers who you may want to engage with.

Tailoring your content

Content marketing

To give an example of how social media is used to great effect, one Irish law firm that seems to use social media well is Matheson.  It’s the only one using Facebook, Twitter and LinkedIn. Other large firms are tending to use one or two tools and many smaller firms are not on social media at all.

On Facebook, Matheson focuses on recruitment. They use promotional videos and open day announcements and include student testimonials. They understand that Facebook is a much more personal place than other social media sites and they use this to attract potential recruits. With Twitter, the target audience is different. The firm tweet about conferences and talks they organise, their charity work and promoting their own content. On LinkedIn, Matheson works on maintaining its credentials as a thought leader by posting links to their online newsletter, podcasts and other material of their own.

Understanding the demographic of each social media tool and tailoring your content to your different audiences ensures that you are getting the right message to the right people and that they will be interested in what you have to say, developing a positive opinion of your brand. It also allows you to attract the type of business you want to expand your client base.

Earlier this year, I carried out a project with a “magic circle” firm in London, assessing how they use their information resources. They use LinkedIn, Twitter and Facebook. Again, they have segmented their markets and have several Facebook pages, e.g. a specific one for graduates, several Twitter accounts, including ones for corporate social responsibility, an anti-trust group and jobs. On LinkedIn, they have separate pages for their global offices, the UK office having 36,000 followers.

During the project I was interviewing partners and other senior fee earners in the firm, asking how they use the many costly information tools placed on their desktops. Although well used, their main port of call is to use Google as their first port of call. If they have a meeting coming up with a client, they will search to see what that person is saying and doing and they are checking social media tools to do this. LinkedIn is checked to find out current and past activities and to understand the client’s key areas of interest. Twitter is being used extensively to see what clients are talking about, who they are engaging with and the issues they may be facing.

Social media works both ways. It’s a great research tool to find industry and people information but it is also an important place to be found. This applies to all sizes of practice, not just the big firms. Using social media effectively is just as important for small local practices to help them stand out from the crowd and create a distinct advantage.

What should you be sharing?

Having selected the social media tool you want to use, the next challenge is what to say, what to post, how to engage your audience. Content falls into three main categories:

  1. original written content
  2. curated content from respected others
  3. visual content such as photos, videos, infographics

All three are important but according to recent research by Marketo.com original written content is the most highly valued by both clients and Google alike. Google will bring the most relevant information to the searcher and measure relevance by how much content is viewed, shared and cited. The best way to deliver this content is by writing a blog. It is still the most effective way to increase your visibility on Google and it allows potential clients to know you and like your personality which builds trust before you even meet.

When you write great blog content that displays your unique subject matter expertise, others will share it on social media, helping to extend your reach even further. The trick is to use a blog to enrich your social media and to use social media to promote your blog. When you write well with passion and authority, your blog will succeed as will your online reach.

Benefits of social media

purpose+action=results

There are some huge benefits to engaging with social media as part of your marketing mix. They are:

Practical:

  • Increased exposure online
  • Increased traffic to your website
  • Improving search rankings
  • Reduced marketing expenses

Business:

  • Generating leads and finding the work you want
  • Developing loyal fans and followers
  • An insight into your marketplace
  • Building your reputation

….which ultimately leads to improved sales with the type of business you want to attract.

Of course the benefits come with key challenges and the biggest one of those is time. One of the most important success factors with social media is consistency. Posting to the sites regularly, blogging regularly, it all takes time and effort.

However, if you take a strategic approach, perhaps starting with one social media platform and plan what and when you want to write, then you will have a greater chance of success. Your consistency will pay off by receiving feedback and comments from people, allowing you to engage with them, build relationships and deliver the content they want. This can only help you to develop a more effective law practice meeting the needs of your target audiences.

 

6 ways to mess up on Facebook

Messing up on Facebook-I have worked with a few clients recently who are perplexed about Facebook. They wonder if it’s worth bothering with it at all. They find it time-consuming and frustrating , with its endless algorithm changes and fluctuating rules about what constitutes “engaging” content. Indeed it can be a minefield so I looked into why they were so unhappy.

And here is what I found.  Through their various stages of frustration and despair, they were making some classic mistakes which Facebook will never thank them for.

So, if you want Facebook to work for you, do not make the following 6 mistakes. 

1. Rambling on

Sometimes peopleKEEP YOUR POSTS UNDER 80 CHARACTERS have too much to say. Luckily Twitter is restrictive but I have seen many Facebook posts that could win an essay competition. If you are passionate about your topic, it’s easy to get carried away but you have to remember why you are writing a post at all. It’s not a brain dump or a therapeutic session to get all of your ideas down in 100 words. The purpose should be to educate, entertain or engage me in some way that makes me take a positive action. Pressing the delete button is not a positive action. Keep posts under 80 characters. Posts with fewer than 80 characters receive 66% more engagement (likes and comments) than lengthier counterparts.

2. Always post the same type of content

social-media-8020-rule

This generally happens because there is no content plan. As with any type of marketing, there has to be a plan so that you can measure whether or not you are achieving your goals. Posting the same type of content will not make your followers excited. They will switch off. Content has to be varied and fresh and remember that social media is about being social. 80% of what you post should be “social” and 20% about your company and services. To achieve this goal, you will need a mix of your own content, third party content, visuals, photos and a few funnies. A content plan can drive this and make it easy.

3. Sell to me

Content pillars

If you dare. Using Facebook as a sales tool alone will not get you far. The four pillars of Facebook marketing must be observed before you can sell to me. 1. attract people first with your great mix of content; 2. educate your audience about your expertise and what you represent; 3. engage them by asking and answering questions, commenting on others content, giving advice and then giving thanks; then and only then can you 4. advertise your wares because people understand where you are coming from, they know and like your brand and they have built a relationship with you.

4. Posting for postings sake

purpose+action=results

Post away but you might not get the interaction you require. It goes back to the content plan. Have a purpose for your post. Each post should relate to accomplishing a business goal. Are you trying to make me laugh on a Friday afternoon? Are you educating me about your industry or specialised topic? Or are you putting up posts that are random for the sake of it? Think before you type before you post.

5. Don’t engage with me

FB like and share

If I like some of your posts or even make a comment, etiquette states that it is polite to comment back or thank me for my time. The aim of social media is to engage with people and build relationships with them, informing you abut how to deliver even better content. If you have engaged with someone enough that they have commented or asked you a question, then do respond. Equally, if you think someone has written a great post, then not only like it but share it. They may well share some of your content in return, driving your engagement.

6. Lack of consistency

inconsistent image

We can all make excuses about not having enough time to post or finding it hard to keep up the momentum but there are tools that can help you to manage that problem. Would you send out a flyer or brochure in the mail just once , take out a single advert in the local paper or send one email as part of your targeted marketing campaign? It’s unlikely that many people would actually see  your efforts or take action on them. Marketing, whether off-line or on-line, is not a one off activity. It needs a consistent approach to be effective. Being consistent and posting regularly (and at the right time) on Facebook will help to get you results.

Conclusion

Having a strategy for why you are posting on Facebook, planning the type of content you are going to share and then sharing it consistently will not only engage an excite your fans, it will excite Facebook too.

Are there other topic you would like to read about in this blog? If so, just email me at lesley@lesleymoore.ie

12 steps to tweet your way to the top

Of all the social media tools I use, Twitter is the one that consistently turns up trumps for me. 

It helps me find experts, it connects me to experts, it lets me speak to experts who I have never met.  I can target markets precisely, I can target companies precisely, I can target individuals precisely. It’s instant, it’s current, it’s responsive. 

Unlike other social media tools, with Twitter:

Picture of a group of people with a target in the middle - targeting customers

Targeting customers

1. Every Tweet arrives at every follower’s feed (no changing algorithms to annoy you)
2. You can follow anyone: this is helpful when you are targetting potential customers
4. It allows you to organise people into ‘lists’ to help you organise and structure your conversations
5. A tweet can contain a link, photos or videos for extra engagement
6. It’s easy to uncover the experts and follow the right people

 This infographic sums it up.

Infographic containing 12 pictures describing how to tweet your way to success

12 ways to tweet your way to the top

The 12 steps

1. Present your brand

Nothing expresses your brand on Twitter more than your account name. This name appears next to your tweets and is the name that people associate you with on Twitter. Use your own name or your business name and be sure to make use of the two images you can upload. One is your profile photo which will appear next to all of your tweets and the other is a background photo where you can upload your company logo or other relevant images.

2. Complete your profile

I often find in training sessions that people have not completed their Twitter profiles or have had a half-hearted attempt at it. This is the most important element to get right from the start. This is your brand, your image, the window to your content.  Make it engaging, interesting, succinct and pertinent. The profile instantly tells someone if they want to follow you.

3. Start following people

Who or what do you want to find out about? It could be competitors, businesses you admire, individuals you admire, experts in your field, local businesses. Decide how people can contribute to your knowledge about industries, markets, business sectors or whatever you need to know about and then follow them. If you plan in advance about why you want to follow certain people you will have a much better Twitter experience. Those good people will then follow you back and you are on your way to a productive and informative Twitter life.

4. Start tweeting

Of course, you have to have something to say. Don’t use Twitter as a platform to sell your wares. Use Twitter as a chance to share your own expertise and that of people you admire. It might take a while to find your voice on Twitter. Maybe start by commenting on relevant topics or events you come across, re-tweet other people’s tweets that you find valuable or offer to help someone if they have asked a question. Practice and see what response you get. Keep things simple.

5. Provide content

As well as joining in conversations and re-tweeting, the most valuable thing you can do on Twitter is provide great content. If you write a blog, make sure you tweet about it, not just to promote it, but to let people know what you are writing about.  As well as your own content, whether it is a blog, white paper, presentation, podcast etc, share links to other content you have come across that you think will be valuable to your current followers and potential new followers. Always think about what your audience wants and needs and provide the right content to serve them.

6. Drive traffic to your website

The aim of using social media is to drive traffic to your website where people can discover your business and the services you provide. Create a tweet around a link to some great content on your website. If it is well written and interesting, people will stay and look around for more. If you have a call to action on your landing page or a contact form to complete so that people can stay in touch for future content, so much the better.

7. Share photos

Visual media is becoming more important for engagement and tweets with pictures or photos receive far more re-tweets than those without.  It also makes your tweets more interesting and attention-grabbing.

8. Share videos

As well as images, consider sharing videos on Twitter. It could be a video from your YouTube channel or a Vine video, which although only 6 seconds long, can convey a simple message very clearly. It adds a bit of action to your timeline and attracts attention.

9. Go mobile

Being able to access Twitter on-the-go is essential so that you don’t miss anything. Get the Twitter App to be able to perform nearly every Twitter activity on your phone that you can do on Twitter.com. Twitter is an immediate and responsive tool so you need to be able to react to your followers quickly.

10. Organise followers into lists

Lists on Twitter are incredibly useful. It’s hard to keep up with what people are saying all the time, especially if they are prolific tweeters. Make separate lists of the people you want to track such as specialists on a current topic, competitors, suppliers, particular types of businesses, etc. Once you have the lists set up, you can see tweets from the list members as a separate timeline on Twitter. It helps you to distinguish these people from the Twitter crowd and keep up with what they are saying.

11. Expand your audience with hashtags

Hashtags  help to group tweets together about a particular topic or theme. They are often used for conferences or events so that attendees can track conversations being held at the event. Finding and looking at hashtag topics can lead you to new people to follow who might be experts in that area. You can also create a hashtag for your own business to help people find your company.

12. Pinpoint local customers

Twitter can connect you with people across the globe but it can also find you local businesses to talk to. Ensure that you add your location to Twitter and using advanced search, you can find people who are tweeting locally. You can then follow the ones of interest and start interacting with your local community.

In conclusion

Twitter can bring valuable engagement for your business. It provides the ability to give and receive guidance on relevant topics and themes, brings you into conversations with experts and builds your reputation globally as well as with your local community.
I can’t think of a better way to do business.

Networking: step out from behind the device

Face-to-face networking

Social media tools, if used correctly, are undoubtedly a great way to network online. If you maximise the opportunity to put up a comprehensive and thoughtful profile about your business on Twitter, LinkedIn, Facebook, etc and use the tools in a way that enhances your business and attracts followers/connections/friends, you have made a very good start in networking online.

Visual social media tools such as Pinterest, YouTube, Vine and Instagram allow that network to come alive even more where people can see and hear your business in action. The growth of social media is heading this ‘visual‘ way – people want to see, hear and interact with someone they might do business with. Podcasts, live webcasts and online training sessions are also in high growth as they are accessible, timely and cost effective and delivered by trusted experts you can connect with.

It struck me recently that this trend for more visual marketing and networking is nothing new. The tools might be new and the way we use them might be new, but there is nothing new in people wanting to see and hear someone rather than read about them. Human beings are very sociable animals and like nothing more than to chat to each other, discover new things and try and solve each others problems.

As a digital marketing consultant and trainer, I spend a lot of time keeping up to date with social media and collaboration tools and techniques and trying to understand how businesses can make best use of them. I can read about issues that organisations face with digital marketing and read the case studies. But the most effective way I gather information and test out what people are looking for is to get out there and talk to them. Yes, old fashioned face-to-face networking. Even Skype and FaceTime can’t beat this one.

2 people networking face to face

Face to face networking

I have recently joined some great local networking groups and the Board of a local enterprise body which has opened up new relationships. It’s exciting for me to contribute to these groups using my past experience and as a ‘blow in’ from the UK into Ireland, the groups are an invaluable source of understanding about how business really works here and the issues that people are facing.

I have preconceptions, experience and further thoughts about how social media and wider digital marketing can be used to enhance an organisation but until you start talking to someone and get down to the granular level of what drives their business and what they are trying to achieve, it’s all theory. Local businesses have specific issues that need solving and which you will never find out about from their company website or industry reports.

Talk to people

A face-to-face chat for 10 minutes gives you more information about business issues, what is worrying people, their opinions and fears and also their successes and future plans. This is invaluable information. The networking groups I have joined are also cross sector so I can appreciate business and marketing issues across a number of industries, enabling me to tailor my approach.

and you have to do both but start with the real issues given to you face-to-face by a human and don’t make assumptions about what they need or how you can help them. I wrote an article a few years ago about the power of face-to-face networking . I came across it again the other day in an ‘administrative tidying up’ moment. I thought it was timely that I found the article again as I have just reignited my own networking activity and upon re-reading it, I found that the top ten tips still hold true.

Top 10 networking tips

You can read the updated article here.  Networking article. We can hide behind online networking and we become very brave and chatty when talking to a screen. But real fear takes hold when we have to speak face-to-face to people we don’t know . This article attempts to help you conquer these fears and make lasting and valuable connections. If you have any thoughts or views about networking or have stories about how it has worked for you, please tell me and I will share these on my website.

Lesley Moore

Top 10 reasons that content is critical

It’s officially Spring, the daffodils are waving at me through the window, so I think I’ll start this blog with a joke…stolen from Seth Godin in his book “Permission Marketing”.

‘What do you get if you cross and insomniac with a dyslexic and an agnostic? Someone who stays up all night worrying about whether there really is a dog’.

It’s a good joke the first time around. If you hear it for a second time? You probably won’t even smile. This is a bit like regurgitating the same content on your website or leaving your content to stagnate. Not many people will come back and check you out again if they keep getting the same old stuff. You have to continually offer fresh and interesting content to keep your followers happy and encourage them to share your message.

As a digital marketing consultant, I try my best to keep up with all the changes – no, make that evolutions – that happen daily in the digital media space. I read constantly, follow other blogs, go to conferences and try out new social media tools to refine my digital strategy and knowledge. But for all the tools and techniques available, they are just that – tools for distributing great content.

Is-Content-Marketing-the-hot-new-trend-infographic

Content marketing has become one of the key online marketing tools to help businesses promote themselves in a crowded digital market place.

So, can I quote from Bill Gates and say “content is king”? You can dispute this, but here are 10 reasons why I really think this is still true.

Why content matters:

1. Content gets you discovered

The place to be discovered is on Google. Google loves content. Search engine optimisation is critical to create sustainable and long-lasting good search rankings and content has become a primary way to obtain safe and powerful links.

2. Content makes social media work for you

You may have Twitter, Facebook and Pinterest accounts. But what are you going to say on them? If you only offer a stream of sales tweets and messages, you will lose followers and engagement. You need to offer people something of value to read and interact with. Socially shareable content from your blog will increase click through rates and may boost sales as a result. People have to get to know and like you before they buy.

3.  Content engages and retains your followers

Creating regular content is a great way to engage with your customers and create buy-in. Keep content fresh and they will come back to visit you for more. A well run blog can be a sales tool, as can offering white papers, company presentations, webinars, videos. Consumers learn to trust and value your brand.

4. Content can offer insights and information via email marketing campaigns

Newsletters and promoting blog posts are a great way to engage by offering insights, relevant news and industry updates. Make them interesting and informative and people will happily sign up. I do! These are subtle sales techniques but also add value.

5.  Content positions you as an expert

It can help you to demonstrate your expertise in your industry or sector. If you are providing useful, actionable information and content, people will share it, recommend you and endorse you. All of which builds your brand.

6. Generating content keeps you creative

Taking time to create and share great content is not a quick process. It takes time to build a following of your target audience. It’s akin to building a network in the physical world. You have to commit time and effort into attending networking events and making a contribution to get the benefit. Just handing out your business cards and adopting a selling approach is like sending out constant sales Tweets – very few people will listen or respond.

7. Providing content encourages feedback

If your content requires a call to action or invites a response or reaction, then you will receive comments and feedback. This is a great way to test of you are reaching the right audience but it also help you to improve your content and widen its appeal.

8. Great content builds your personal brand

You are what you write. You write in your own style, in your own words, supported by your own research. This becomes your personal online brand and your authentic voice. Your audience will appreciate this and buy into your approach.

9. Great content creates a community

You will find and attract like-minded content creators who will share your output but also engage in discussion with you. Getting known within a community will widen your reach.

10. Producing great content underpins all of your marketing efforts

Understanding how to use social media, creating online campaigns and measuring your impact are all essential tools in your marketing kit bag but they are only there to widen the impact and reach of your valuable content.

To sum this up, I love this quote from Doug Kessler, a content marketing guru.

“Traditional marketing talks at people. Content marketing talks with them.”

Lesley

 

 

Still friends with Facebook after 10 years?

Facebook’s first decade

Apparently, I joined Facebook on 20 June 2007 according to a message they kindly sent me this week. Yes, it’s 10 years this week since Facebook was born, so that means I have been a member for nearly 7 years. Facebook also sent me a cute little video where they have combined some of my photos, posts, comments and events to sum up the highlights of my 7 years with them. Clever stuff. I could get the huff about them invading my privacy but the video was intriguing, nostalgic and fun to watch.  Since then, many of my friends have invited me to watch their Facebook videos too. This simple action has reminded people that Facebook is a great way to communicate  and share stories – the basis of Facebook’s beginnings. 

This made me reflect back to why I joined Facebook in the first place and how it has changed over those 7 years. I joined mostly due to peer pressure. My friends were joining Facebook and getting excited about it.  It wasn’t about accumulating ‘likes’ or measuring ‘reach’, it was about being nosy and seeing what people were up to in a totally new way. It was really the first time that people could quickly share events, news and pictures on one platform and invite comments and opinions. It was fun and exciting. I was cautious at first and resisted putting my picture online but soon got talked out of that. Everyone else did it (also makes it easier to link to the right person) so I had to.

So, as a relatively early adopter but not a frequent user, I really discovered Facebook’s relevance to me in early 2008. I was going on a big trip to Antarctica followed by South America and there was no way I could get away without putting pictures up on my Facebook page for friends to follow my adventures. I enjoyed taking the photos, sharing my southern ocean stories and getting the responses. The second time Facebook came into its own for me was the following year when I relocated to the USA. A big new adventure on my own and the only  way of keeping in touch was via email or expensive phone calls. Facebook saved the day again. I had instant support and ongoing news from my friends and family. I was able to share news and photos of my new life and it kept me connected.

When I returned to the UK, I already knew what everyone was up to and where the welcome back party was being held. I now use and appreciate Facebook for keeping in touch with friends who live all over the world and having instant access to their adventures.

So, a Facebook dabbler in 2007 and hooked by 2009. 

Facebook statistics

It hasn’t been all plain sailing and I have fallen in and out of love with Facebook during our relationship (privacy issues, annoying applications you have to remove or edit,  introduction of the Timeline) but you cannot help but be impressed by the statistics.

10 years of Facebook graphic

It’s been a mixed couple of years for Facebook as the world’s largest social media platform faced an array of challenges, from trying to establish how to monetise its mobile user base, to dealing with issues around inappropriate content, meanwhile fending off competition from the likes of upstart Snapchat and What’sApp.

Daily active Facebook users in December 2013 averaged 757 million, up by 22 per cent, while mobile users were up by 49 per cent, with an average of 556 million for the same month.

Monthly active users in December were 1.23 billion by the end of the year, up by 16 per cent, while mobile monthly users increased by 39 per cent to 945 million.

The full-year revenue for 2013 was $7.87bn, up by 55 per cent, while total year sales and marketing revenue was $997m, up from $896m in 2012.

Facebook changed the marketing rulebook

I can’t think of any ‘bricks and mortar’ company that has had such exponential growth and success over 10 years. Facebook has changed the marketing rule book, revolutionising communications by providing a quick and easy way for people to share opinions  and because it is open for the world to see it forces brands to take notice. Smart brands have embraced this and engage in open conversations, learning about what their fans are interested in and adapting their content to keep consumers entertained.

My use of Facebook has changed over the 7 years I have been using it. I have broadened out my usage by having a ‘business’ (like) page for my consultancy and training work and keeping the personal page to engage with my friends. On the business side, I take Facebook quite seriously and find many of it’s tools useful for tracking the impact of what I write and who ‘likes’ me. It’s only one of the many social media tools that I use and there are plenty of competitors to Facebook eating away at it’s market share  but I would never drop Facebook from my portfolio. 

Facebook is evolving as all mature businesses do and even though it is now asking us to pay for many of it’s services, used correctly, they are still cost effective as part of any marketing campaign.

Facebook thumbs up image

So Facebook, carry on, you still get the thumbs up from me.

 

A picture (or visual) paints a thousand words

Growth of visual

The familiar proverb  “a picture paints a thousand words” refers to the idea that complex stories can be told with just a single image or visual or that an image may be more influential than hundreds of words. It looks like this has never been more true than in 2014. So, your New Year’s resolution should be to take photos,  make videos and learn to draw infographics to engage your customers. Why?

I have spent some time over the Christmas period reviewing the digital marketing trends of 2013 and reading the predictions of influential marketeers to see what they think  2014 has in store.  Anything new? More of the same? This is digital marketing we are talking about so expect nothing less than exponential change.

Let’s just take a step back into 2013 for a second. The past six months of 2013 brought with it two big pieces of news in the social media world; one tangible, and one symbolic. The first was in April when it was announced that Pinterest was officially eating into Facebook’s share of social e-commerce traffic. The second was in November, when Snapchat famously rejected Facebook’s $3 billion acquisition offer.

Both pieces of news were bad news for Facebook. And that’s because Pinterest’s rise and Snapchat’s rebuff signifies the segmentation of the social media universe. The indications are  that a move to more visual resources, with Pinterest’s multiple visual pinboards and Snapchat’s instant photo sharing are taking centre stage and  the days of gathering “likes” and followers to boost your reputation are waning. It’s also time to start paying to get noticed.

Expect to pay

Facebook will still be very much with us in 2014 but it’s changing.  The Global Social Media Impact Study, which was funded by the European Union, observed 16- to 18-year-olds in eight countries for 15 months and found that Facebook use was in freefall. Instead, young people are turning to simpler services like Twitter, Instagram, Snapchat and WhatsApp which Professor Miller conceded were “no match” for Facebook in terms of functionality.

Facebook is now being used by the parents of these young adults and older people generally. Maybe this explains why Facebook is really pushing cost-per-click advertising and boosting of posts. The organic reach of posts has plummeted to less than 2% (it used to be about 16%) so using Facebook as a marketing tool will now start to cost real money.  But everyone else is doing this too with Twitter ‘paid for’ advertising, cost per view on Youtube and cost per click on LinkedIn. Budgeting appropriately for your social media activities will be critical in the future.

Learn to love Google+

The growth in 2014 will come from other services, especially Google+.  It is becoming more and more important as Google is trying to connect all aspects of your online presence and become a hub for your online activity.  It has 300 million users and is essential for search. You have to be here in 2014. Oh, and Google also owns Youtube which is growing rapidly as visual become more important.

To sum all this up, of course, I have an infographic for you by courtesy of Boot Camp Digital.

Social media trends in 2014

It’s the visual trend that stands out for me. Visual social content is now a serious contender in social media marketing due to the convergence of a few factors:

  • rapid penetration of smart phones and tablets
  • decreased cost of data that makes high definition uploads cost-effective
  • the emergence of the tools mentioned about, i.e. Pinterest, Vine and Instragram and YouTube

But it is also about human nature:

  • websites with strong imagery are easier to digest that text heavy pages
  • most people retain 95% of the message in a video (think of how many times you have watched a YouTube video to learn how to do something simple)
  • 96% of consumers click links after watching a video and 94% are likely to buy product after watching online video
  •  Infographics – i.e. any graphical representation of data and information – is much easier to digest and understand than a wordy explanation. It captures people’s attention much faster

So, a major trend to observe in digital marketing for 2014 is the power of the visualisation of information. Luckily, I got a camera with a video function for Christmas so expect more visual content from this website in the coming months.

I will be discussing more key trends for digital marketing over the coming weeks. Keep checking back.

Lesley

 

Digital marketing – scary stuff isn’t it?

Digital marketing

Since moving to the West of Ireland from London last year, I have been transforming my consultancy services to adapt them to the needs of local businesses. The opportunities here  in Westport are fewer than in Canary Wharf – only one hour away but a lifetime apart. Is that right? Well, actually, it is not so. Businesses may be smaller here but they have the same strategic and marketing needs of larger organisations in the UK.

I have worked for some of the largest global organisations who are risk averse and prefer to be followers not leaders in the digital world. They are not taking advantage of the business tools out there to maximise their company’s profile and engage meaningfully with their clients. Their smaller, nimbler and more tech-savvy competitors are taking advantage of this and causing disruption in the legal and accountancy markets. Old business models are being torn up and new ones written and still people choose to ignore what’s going on.

“If you want to succeed you should strike out on new paths, rather than travel the worn paths of accepted success.” —John D. Rockefeller

Digital marketing, using social media, optimising your website to increase visibility and email marketing, is different from traditional marketing, but the two work great together. You still have to be good at applying tried and tested marketing principles and if you are not sure what they are, I can highly recommend this book by Mike Meldrum called “The Complete Marketeer: 60 essential concepts for marketing excellence”.

http://amzn.to/1dSt2I6

Along with these great principles, digital marketing can quickly get you engaged more with your customers so that you can listen and understand what they need and value about your services.

Meanwhile, back in Ireland small businesses are very open to using digital media to connect them to the wider world and exploit business opportunities across the world. It may be a small island, but the thinking is big. But I do keep hearing from small businesses that digital marketing “is scary stuff” and the varying reputations of Facebook and Twitter make people even more scared. But these tools and others are powerful weapons in your marketing armory and cannot be ignored. They need to be embraced.

I will be posting top tips about using social media tools and giving you links to great blogs and books to read about digital marketing.

Here’s a great blog to keep you going.

http://www.socialmediaexaminer.com/

In the New Year I will also be offering a series of free seminars about social media and digital marketing. The venue will be in Westport, but I hope to video them so I can make them available on my website.

So, no need to be scared anymore.