WEBSITE DESIGN & ONLINE MARKETING

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Is Facebook working for your business?

Written by Maria Lenzy on November 12th, 2015.      1 comments

According to Nielsen, 80% of NZ’s internet users are visiting Facebook. Making it the third most visited website in New Zealand. (Data from Alexa.) Given the popularity of the social network, it is no doubt why NZ businesses would be interested in Facebook Marketing. However, before you decide to spend money with Facebook, take a moment to read the following points.
 

1. Your audience is not your customer.

The platform is not under your control, so you need to realise that the list of fans and followers you are building are actually Facebook’s customers. Sure, they follow your business, but, Facebook has the complete control of the content visible to them. Relying on this platform for promotion alone might lead to a sudden downfall in sales.
 
Instead of trying to build your Facebook following, you want to use the platform to drive people to your website and perhaps sign up for your email list. Once you get those leads to your website, you will have the opportunity to offer them your services and create a life-long business relationship with them. 
 

2. Frustrating decrease on organic reach. 

As Facebook urges businesses to spend on advertising, organic reach has declined to 6% according to a study conducted last December. So your followers will see less and less of your page's posts on their timeline.

What does it mean to businesses?

Gone are the "glory days" of free engagement with your followers. Organic reach is the content you post to your page. However, with the recent change on FB’s algorithm the post you worked so hard on will only be visible to about 6% or less of your followers. If you want to reach more audience, then you will need to pay Facebook for ads.
 

3. Do fake fans really exist?

In July, BBC News released a negative report about Facebook. According to their investigation, businesses have wasted so much money on advertisements to gain “likes” from Facebook users who are not interested in their products. The same report also stated that early in 2012, Facebook admitted that up to 54 million profiles are fake. 
 

4. Be prepared for change! 

Facebook are aware of the power they have to show followers posts. Like Google, another big player in the online world, Facebook continuously change their algorithms, so certain types of posts get displayed more or less. For example, sometimes a post with photos is more engaging, and then the algorithm changes and posts with text and links are shown more. However, you still only will get about 6% reach through these organic methods. 
 

5. You can be more successful with diverse strategy

Facebook is the social media king, considering that it has a billion users around the globe. However, it’s not wise to put all of your eggs in one basket.

Using diverse strategy will provide your business with more success. you should think about website optimisation, SEO,  Google AdWords, email marketing, and other social media channels. So people who are genuinely interested in your business, see you everywhere as an expert in your industry.

If you are interested in including Facebook advertising in your overall marketing strategy, we can help you, click here to talk to us>>

 

Snapchat: What you need to know

Written by Sarah Gleeson on May 19th, 2014.      0 comments

You may have heard of Snapchat, if you are under 25 or have teenagers in the house, you probably have. Snapchat is an image and video sharing app for smart phones. The idea behind it is that images only last for a predetermined amount of time, and then close permanently. Receivers are unable to save or reopen any Snapchats they were sent, and the sender is notified if the receiver took a screenshot of their image. 

Alternatively, the user can add their image to their Snapchat Story, in which the image will be available for unlimited views by all their followers for 24 hours. Snapchat Story is simply a user's board which they can fill up with as many images or videos as they would like for all of their followers to see in a 24 hour period. 

Untill now, the app has only been used between friends, but businesses are now tapping into the marketing possibilities Snapchat provides.

How Snapchat has worked for some businesses

The nature of the snap only lasting a small amount of time creates urgency that demands full attention. This is a great motivator for any follower to find out more about your products and services.

Check out these businesses that are using Snapchat in their campaigns:

How to use Snapchat in your marketing campaigns

  1. Promotions
    • Send followers an in store or online promotion. Build the hype by making the offer exclusive by sharing a promotion code. Your followers will grow fast if they think your Snapchat is an account they MUST follow to get the best deals.

  2. Contests
    • Want feedback from your followers now? Send out a snap of your latest competition. For example, ask your followers to snap their ugliest shoes, worst shoes win a brand new pair for the following weekend! Post the competition on other social media platforms to grow your Snapchat follower base.

  3. Create buzz
    • Got a new product or service you want everyone talking about? Send a 10 second image to all of your followers. This would work especially well for a retail shop that just got the latest winter fashion must-haves in store.

  4. Reminders
    • Is the most hyped movie of the year set to come out this week? Remind people! Send out a Snapchat of the movie poster and the date of the first session. 

What businesses would Snapchat work for?

If your target market is 15-25 you should definitely consider Snapchat.

Using Snapchat in your marketing strategy is a great way to show customers you’re ‘cool’ without explicitly saying it. So if you’re having trouble connecting with your young clientele, Snapchat could be your way forward. 

A must do for the following business types:

  • Restaurants, cafes and bars
  • Retail outlets
  • Theme parks or entertainment providers incl. Cinemas, mini golf, swimming pools
  • Automotive (WOF’s, car maintenance)
  • Higher education providers
  • Pet shops or Zoo’s (people love a good animal pic!)

What to keep in mind before using Snapchat 

Snapchat is instant, so if you choose the wrong image or text, you cannot take it back once it is sent. You should also choose your Snapchat administrator carefully, as there is limited accountability if it all goes wrong.

It pays to keep in mind that Snapchat followers may reply, and the images they send back might not always be positive. In this case, block the user or ignore it. As with all social media, make sure you don't take negative feedback too personally.

How to use Snapchat

Part one: Download the free app from your Play Store or Itunes. 
Part two:Take the image. 

howto-take-a-snap

Part three: Tap the image to add words, decide how long you want to set the image for, then send it to your followers.


emilysnapchat
 

Facebook, not everything in marketing

Written by Sarah Gleeson on September 4th, 2013.      0 comments

While social media can be a great platform to talk about your new products, it is important not to make it the be all end all. As an avid Facebook user, it is almost hard to write that! This is becoming especially apparent in the fashion industry where large companies who invested a lot of time and money into their social media platforms, are not reaping the rewards.

In 2011, retailers began to think that Facebook and other social media platforms would become flagship stores in their business strategies. Alex Bolen of Oscar de la Renta (a very high-end fashion label, for those of you out there who are not fashion obsessed), even stated, “We expect Facebook will become a major channel of commerce”. Unfortunately, this did not happen. They found that while a lot of people were viewing their Facebook page, not a lot of people were then clicking over to make purchases. This is mostly because, anyone can hit 'like' on Facebook; it barely involves any effort, which means that you may have millions of 'likes' but none that are quality.

A study by Custora showed that Social Media platforms were being significantly out-performed by search and email marketing. One of the ideas behind this is: if people are actively searching for your website, they are either looking for information, or looking to buy/enquire. However on Facebook, people are often just looking for inspiration, or to feel part of a brand they like.

The study, which examined data from 86 US retailers across 14 industries, found organic search to be the largest source of e-commerce customers (15.8% of all customers acquired), followed by cost-per-click (9.8%). Since 2009, customer acquisition via email has quadrupled, growing to 6.8%. Affiliate referral traffic has also grown significantly, and now accounts for 6.3% of customers acquired.

In contrast, Facebook accounted for just .17% of all e-commerce customers acquired, and Twitter was responsible for less than .01%.

E-Commerce Customer Acquisition Snapshot, Custora, June,2013

Instead of using Facebook or Twitter as your silver bullet marketing strategy, use it more as a two-way communication tool for your brand, and start a conversation with your likers. This can easily be done by linking articles or pictures you think represent your brand, or asking your followers their opinions. Facebook has recently changed its rules on promotions and contests, so now you even have the option to run a contest on your Facebook. While this may seem less impressive, getting your own voice out there is important. You want a personality behind your company, to humanise yourself so that people are better able to relate to your business.

The best thing about Facebook is that you can interact with your audience. So make the most of this and listen to what they have to say!

help

Topics: Social Media
 

Make LinkedIn work for you

Written by Sarah Gleeson on July 18th, 2013.      0 comments

As a new graduate to the workforce, getting your name out there soon becomes a top priority. When I joined Zeald I had only considered referrals in the sense of recruitment, in that if you know the right people they can suggest your name for a new position. But after only a few days at Zeald, I soon realised how important referrals are for businesses too. How do you get your name to the people you want to reach?  Contacts you already know and have done business with are the hottest ticket.

You may have heard of LinkedIn, the networking site your marketing and HR people know all about. I was recently at a seminar when a man dismissed the idea of using it for his own business seeing it as another Facebook. My own dad has even sworn to never use it. It may seem like another social media contraption, but it has huge potential for anyone who uses it right!

LinkedIn puts you in front of your target audience by enlisting the help of people you already know. New Zealand is a very small country, I often marvel at the mutual friends I have with people who I met along the way. LinkedIn is great in that you can be introduced to desired people that your existing connections already know. Suddenly that supplier or potential client is not so far away.

Unfortunately, “don’t judge a book by its cover” fails here; you want people to look at your profile and want to know you!

What not to do:

LinkedIn-wrong

Unfortunately, no one is going to take me seriously with this photo or profile. I have not filled it in properly, and I seem quite apathetic about work.

What to do:

linkedIn-right2

In this profile, I have filled my title out properly, conveying that I am ready to work hard and am enthusiastic about my job. My photo is actually my work photo which is more friendly and professional. In this, someone who does not know me, would be able to place me in a work environment without much difficulty.

My top ten ways to Jazz up your profile, and get your desired connections.

  1. Get your photo right. It’s important people are able to see you in the workspace, avoid photos of partying or on holiday as you want to make connections, not drinking buddies.

  2. Make the most of your title! Using your professional title here is a wasted opportunity; people want to know what you can do for them.

  3. Make sure your tone is right, if you’re an expert, sell it! If you’re a worker bee, tell them!

  4. Share your good news! If you have a new exciting project underway or have a photo in the local paper, let people know this; create your own buzz.

  5. Write about activities or hobbies you enjoy. Someone who likes fishing is more likely to trust a fellow fisherman.

  6. Avoid the temptation to add just anyone, make sure the people you connect with want to sell you, and vice versa.

  7. Change the default note when connecting with people. Tell them how you know them, why you look forward to their connection, and sign off in a personal manner.

  8. Join groups where you can meet people and discuss similar thoughts e.g. Small Business Network for start-ups and entrepreneurs.

  9. Don’t be scared to ask for a testimonial. Choose people you have made a positive impact on professionally, and be specific in what you would like them to say.

  10.  Lastly, ask people to refer you, either find a connection they already have or someone they think would be good for you. In doing this, make sure you outline what you want from a future connection.

Topics: Social Media
 

Why Content Marketing is King

Written by Emily Wilson on March 4th, 2013.      2 comments

Why Content is King. Content Marketing with ZealdBack in 1996 Bill Gates wrote an article titled “Content is King”.  In is article he said: “When it comes to an interactive network such as the Internet, the definition of “content” becomes very wide… One of the exciting things about the Internet is that anyone with a PC and a modem can publish whatever content they can create. In a sense, the Internet is the multimedia equivalent of the photocopier. It allows material to be duplicated at low cost, no matter the size of the audience.”  Gates continues to say that content in the form of "print" cannot just be replicated on the internet, the audience on the internet demands more interactivity. They need audio, video and the ability to share this information with others. 

What Bill Gates was essentially talking about is what we call Content Marketing. This is something you probably already do without even realising it.  With content marketing your goal is to create great content that attracts, engages and converts. You basically want to communicate to your customers by creating and sharing high-quality content, in the hopes of influencing purchasing decisions and building brand loyalty.

This means having a website, blog, newsletter, social media channels, video, text, images. All these things create content, the next step is to make it quality content. TopRank Online Marketing CEO Lee Odden said during his SES London presentation "Great content isn't really great until it is found, consumed, and shared." Quality content is what your prospects and clients want to consume. You need to make it relevant to your target market and make it visible to them. 

Consumers have an insatiable appetite for good content. If you are unsure where to start, here are 10 ideas about what you can do:

  1. Set up a blog. See our article here for more information.
  2. People are time-poor. Write an article that contains a list – like “5 best ways to get your baby to sleep.” Post this article to blog sites, forums, Twitter, Facebook, newsletter etc.
  3. Create how-to guides. People love to search the internet for ways they can help themselves. Get them coming to read your blog with some how-to information.
  4. Share your news. Share what is happening in your industry, city or country. These posts need to be timely – news travels fast!
  5. The saying no news is good news does not apply here. Take the negative angle and you’ll be surprised at how your traffic increases – eg “5 things not to do before you go to sleep.”
  6. Case studies build your brand’s trust and credibility. People love before and after shots.
  7. Evergreen content is fresh and created by you. It can be shared over and over and remains relevant to your target market. This could be a special report or case study, video or seminar for example.
  8. Give out the facts. Provide the latest statistics and research for your industry and if you conduct your own research - share this.
  9. Review a product. Either one of your own via a consumer, or show how to use one of your products. If you are in a service industry review a product that you use to show why it is the best on the market.
  10. Get creative and make a video series on your Youtube channel.

Content marketing is great for link building and SEO. If you build in keywords to your writing it will help your article be found through search engines. Content marketing also builds trust and credibility and because of this, will lead to more sales. If there was a winning formula for content marketing then it would go something like this: 1. Be a brand champion for your business; 2. Your customers need to identify and empathise with your brand; 3. Your content needs to tell a story and be creative to spark interest and virality.

 

Ideas for running a successful business blog

Written by Casey Hartigan on February 5th, 2013.      0 comments

Creating Blog Buzz and Ideas with Zeald You may have found yourself typing into Google 'what is a blog". It is a funny word that actually comes from web-log and is basically an online journal. You can read more about starting out with blogs on a previous post. Blogs can be a great way of generating traffic to your website and creating a buzz around your products and services. They provide an easy way of getting relevant and up to date content out to your potential customers, regular customers and staff and are also effective for search engine optimisation.  However, starting (and regularly updating) a blog can seem like a daunting task, so we’ve put together the following hints to help get you on your way.

Choosing what to write about

Choosing what you want to write about in your blog can be one of the hardest parts of creating one. Blogs can have many different functions; they can provide news or personal opinions on particular subjects or can be used as a kind of online diary. If your company sells products, how about writing a few articles about other products that compliment yours, or hints to help your customers get the best out of their purchases. Show your products in context; engage your customers and ask them to send you images of how they use them.

If your company provides a service instead, case studies can be an interesting way of giving information about what you do without sounding too much like an advertisement. It’s important that you don’t just treat your blog as a place to advertise your own products and services; what you write needs to provide your customers with some value otherwise they will be unlikely to return.

Plan blog posts in advance and develop regular features

Planning what you’re going to write about and when can make regularly updating your blog a much more manageable task. Are there particular events that occur throughout the year in your industry? (product launches, awards, conferences etc). Note the dates of these down and aim to write a feature about them. Developing regular features e.g. reviews on Tuesdays, or your favourite recipes each Friday can also make regularly updating your blog a breeze as you won’t need to rack your brain for topics to write about.

Engage with your readers

Allowing readers to post comments on your posts and encouraging discussion can be a good way of developing rapport with your potential customers. Let your readers share their opinions and views on the topic at hand and reply back to them when appropriate. Don’t be discouraged by negative comments. Instead, try and solve the issue the person has – you never know, you could win over a new customer.

Invite special guests

Know an expert in your field? Ask them to write a post on your blog as a guest blogger. They could provide some advice to your customers and in-turn you get a great endorsement. For example if you sell health related products you could ask a personal trainer to give their top fitness tips. They could then link to their post on your blog from their own blog or social media account.

Add images and video

Keep your readers interested and they will keep coming back to your blog. Here is a great guide to blogs. 

Read, read, read

Read other blogs in your industry or those that compliment it and connect with other bloggers and businesses. Help eachother with links and posts - you might just find your customer base increases. 

 

Pinterest: Should You Jump On Board?

Written by Emily Wilson on July 17th, 2012.      0 comments

Social media seems to be part and parcel of business communication these days. You can choose from pinterestFacebook, Twitter, Linkedin, Google+ and so on; or you can have a finger in every pie. It is up to you what will or won’t work for your business, but today we are going to talk about using Pinterest for your business.

Pinterest has been around since 2010, but has grown steadily this year possibly due to the launch of their iPhone app and integration with Facebook. Today Pinterest is the third most visited website in America and has over 13 million users.

Pinterest is driving more online traffic to retail websites than social networks LinkedIn, YouTube and Google+ combined, according to a January report from Shareaholic.

What exactly is Pinterest and how does it work?

Basically Pinterest is a social network. As pinterest put it, this is a social network meant to “connect everyone in the world through the ‘things’ they find interesting.” It allows users to visually share, curate, and discover new interests by posting, known as ‘pinning,’ images or videos to their own or others’ pinboards (a collection of ‘pins,’ usually with a common theme). Users can upload images from their computer or pin things they find on the web using the pinterest bookmarklet, pin it button, or just a url.

You can see an example of netaporter’s Pinterest boards here.

You might want to add a ‘pin it button’ on your website to facilitate sharing on Pinterest. Pins added using the ‘pin it button’ link back to the site they came from, which will in turn, increase links and traffic to your site.

Why should I consider Pinterest for my business?

  1. Traffic. Any business that relies on driving a high-volume of website traffic to increase sales, should consider joining Pinterest.
  2. Links. If you are using the ‘pin it button’ on your pages, every single one of your pins will include a link back to the source. However, these won't directly impact your SEO as they are no-follow links. Yet, they still provide marketing value because they allow pinners to encounter your content and visit your pages in just one click.
  3. Leads. Pinterest will soon start contributing to lead generation, as users will see your product on Pinterest can link back to your site and then purchase or make an enquiry about that product.

Where do I sign up?

Like when Gmail first came out, access to Pinterest still operates under an invitation-only basis. That being said, you can request an invitation, and it shall be granted. Visit www.pinterest.com, click ‘request an invite’ and enter your email address to be notified when you have access to create your account. Or you can ask a friend who already has a Pinterest account to invite you, a much quicker way to gain access than waiting for Pinterest to grant your request.

Top Tip: Sign in with your Twitter account to share pins through Twitter as well!

Please take note…

Pinterest is not just about blatant self-promotion of your products. Like most other social networks, Pinterest is about communicating with others. It’s a conversation through visuals of common interest. You have to think a little more creatively that just posting a picture of all your products. You want to focus on the lifestyle your brand promotes. For example if you sell luggage online you might want to post a picture of your product and then all the great places each piece could go with you. What would go in the luggage in that destination etc.

Pinterest is great for ecommerce and promotion to consumers but can work for B2B too. You might want to use it to showcase your company culture or use great infographics. Link to customers using pictures of them using your product or service and quote their testimonials.

Naturally there are guidelines that you need to adhere to. You should pay special attention when it comes to Intellectual Property Rights and not ‘pin’ something that you are not legally allowed to, this means you should always have a link back to the original source.

If nothing else Pinterest forces you to think outside the square about how to visually market your brand.

Topics: Social Media
 

Facebook Rule Breakers - Are You Guilty?

Written by Emily Wilson on May 14th, 2012.      0 comments

Zeald Blog on Facebook Social Marketing If your company is on Facebook, make sure you do your homework and abide by their ever-changing page rules; or you could be severely punished for failing to do so. Just ask kiwi brands Velvet Burger and Hell Pizza.

Velvet Burger, a gourmet burger bar started in Dunedin, built its loyal following of Facebook Fans to nearly 10,000. And just like ‘that’ they were “goneburger” when Facebook HQ deleted their page for breaking their rules.

You may have also heard Hell Pizza went the same way, losing its page and 20,000 fans along with it. Hell managed to get the page back through someone-who-knew-someone who worked at Facebook, but sadly, in most cases, if this happens to you, you’ll be starting at the drawing board.

These were both New Zealand companies, who yes do have a large following of fans, but that won’t stop Facebook from deleting your 200 or 800 strong fan page either. So how do you avoid the same fate? Well it pays to know the rules, and keep an eye on the rules too, as they can change as regularly as clockwork. And unfortunately for you, because you ticked a box agreeing to the terms and conditions, ignorance of the rules is no excuse.

As Facebook says: “We reserve the right to reject or remove Pages for any reason.” And they’re not kidding. Don’t think you’ll get a warning either! Poof! One day it could just be gone.

So what are the rules? There are Facebook rules that page admins break on a daily basis, included in the list of what you CANNOT do that follows are no doubt many rules you’ve been guilty of breaking.

Cover Photo

Previously, Facebook was pretty strict on not using your cover photo as an advertisement. However, since March 2013, they have eased up. Their wording has become a bit more lenient, which means more wriggle room for you!

The Rules

The cover page rule now states:
"All covers are public. This means that anyone who visits your Page will be able to see your cover. Covers can't be deceptive, misleading, or infringe on anyone else's copyright. You may not encourage people to upload your cover to their personal timelines."

So while you still cannot upload copyright, or encourage your followers to add your cover page to their own timeline, there is much more use for marketing your brand. Perfect, right?

So now, you could:
  • Include Calls to action in your cover photos
  • Advertise sales and competitions
  • Include links to specific offers e.g. coupons, sale items, supporters clubs
  • Ask people to like or comment on your page
Use a unique image that represents your Page. This might be a photo of a popular menu item, album artwork or a picture of people using your product. Be creative and experiment with images your audience responds well to.
 

Promotions

Facebook drastically changed its rules on promotions/contests lately. Now a business can run a promotion or contest on their own homepage without the use of a third party app. 

The Rules

  • Promotions on Facebook must now include the following:
    • A complete release of Facebook by each entrant or participant.
    • Acknowledgment that the promotion is in no way sponsored, endorsed or administered by, or associated with, Facebook.
  • Promotions may be administered on Pages or within apps on Facebook. Personal Timelines must not be used to administer promotions (ex: “share on your Timeline to enter” or “share on your friend's Timeline to get additional entries” is not permitted).
  • Facebook also updated the rules around tagging. Now you cannot ask people to tag themselves in something that they are not in e.g. a product page. 
  •  What that means for contests and promotions, Facebook stated, is that it’s fine to ask people to submit names of a new product in exchange for a chance to win a prize, for example, but not OK to ask people tag themselves in pictures of a new product in exchange for a chance to win a prize.

So what do these rules mean for you?

 
  • Can collect entries by having participants message the page
  • Can collect entries by having participants post/like/comment on the page/post
     
  • Cannot ask people to tag themselves in photos they are not in e.g. a product photo
  • Cannot ask people to share content on their timeline
  • Cannot ask people to share content on another persons timeline
 

Zeald Blog Social Marketing Rule Book Data Collection

If you collect content and information directly from users, you will need to make it clear that you (and not Facebook) are collecting it, and you will provide notice about and obtain user consent for your use of the content and information that you collect. Regardless of how you obtain content and information from users, you are responsible for securing all necessary permissions to reuse their content and information.

You cannot collect users' content or information, or otherwise access Facebook, using automated means (such as harvesting bots, robots, spiders, or scrapers) without Facebook’s permission.

If you are developing applications for Facebook make sure you comply with Facebook Platform Policies.

Page Name

Page names and Facebook Web Addresses must accurately reflect Page content. Facebook may remove administrative rights or require you to change the Page name and Facebook Web Address for any Page that fails to meet this requirement.
 
Page names must:
  • not consist solely of generic terms (e.g., “beer” or “pizza”);
  • use proper, grammatically correct capitalization and may not include all capitals, except for acronyms;
  • not include character symbols, such as excessive punctuation and trademark designations; and
  • not include superfluous descriptions or unnecessary qualifiers.

Facebook Ads

Before you run Facebook ads, have a careful read through the Facebook Advertising Guidelines here. There are so many that it deserves its own article.

You should also read through the guidelines for yourself  and decide if you are breaking the rules; this post is just a guide and a mere tip of the iceberg.
Topics: Social Media
 

Blogs

Written by Hamish Braddick on July 13th, 2010.      1 comments

What is a blog?

A blog (from the term "web log") is a type of website, usually maintained by an individual with regular entries of commentary, descriptions of events, or other material such as graphics or video. Entries are commonly displayed in reverse-chronological order.

Many blogs provide commentary or news on a particular subject; others function as more personal online diaries. A typical blog combines text, images, and links to other blogs, Web pages, and other media related to its topic. The ability of readers to leave comments in an interactive format is an important part of many blogs. Most blogs are primarily textual, although some focus on art (Art blog), photographs (photoblog), videos (Video blogging), music (MP3 blog), and audio (podcasting). Microblogging (such as twitter) is another type of blogging, featuring very short posts.

As of December 2007, blog search engine Technorati was tracking more than 112,000,000 blogs.

How are blogs good for business?

Blogs are a good way to publish and organise content that changes on a regular basis. They are a great way to keep your potential customers, your customers and your staff informed about changes or learnings you or your company have made. Some common examples include:
  1. Company news - Let your customers and potential customers know what your company are up to, great for building rapport and trust and credibility
  2. PR - Let your customers and potential customers know how well you are doing in the media - Great for trust and credibility
  3. Sharing knowledge - Share helpful information and learnings with your customers and potential customers. Great for building trust and credibility, great for customer retention. Prove to everyone that you are knowledgable, interested in providing great value, and helpful; that you are the leader in your industry.
  4. Internal help files - Blogs can be used just for internal use, for example these help files could be defined as a blog
Good for Branding
Blogs are a great way for a company to engage with their customers and show their true colours. Blogs are written in a more "personal" manner to a standard website article. They are not laboured over and they give a customer a real and honest window into who they might be or are dealing with.

Searchable
Blogs grow at a rapid rate, and the information is usually archived by time and categorised which allows users to find information from the history of previous posts. The information is searchable, either internally or via the search engines.

Centralised
The information is centralised and available to everyone. Blogs work very well with promotional announcement tools such as email marketing, Twitter, Facebook, etc. When you have something to announce in an email it is often a great idea to publish just snippets in the email and link through to a full article in a blog.

Great for Search engines
Search engines love "up-to-date" content. Search engines are always looking for the most up-to-date information to serve to their users, based on the search query. This is becoming more and more important with the development of social media tools such as Twitter and Google Buzz.
Blogs are a great format to publish regular up-to-date information to the web. Search engines love them. If you are looking to improve your Search engine presence, you need to publish a blog.

'Link bait' - For good search engine results you need to provide quality  content that other people will want to link to. There are so many million blogs out there, you need to differentiate yours by finding a niche and  providing really good quality, interesting, informative, funny, perhaps controversial content. If people read it, enjoy it, and link to it, you have generated an inbound link which is like a "vote" for your blog in the eyes of the search engines when they come to rank your website.

Because of this it is a good idea to setup your blog on the same "domain" or address as your business website. For example www.zeald.com/blog or www.blog.zeald.com

So what is involved in setting up and running a successful blog?

Resource - You need to have someone to write your content. This is the common flaw with most business blogs. You need someone who:
  1. Understands and has a passion for your business
  2. Someone who is a good efficient writer
  3. Someone who's "voice" or "style" matches your companies brand
  4. Someone with a spot of "X" factor. Someone who is maybe opinionated, funny, quirky, creative, or very knowledgeable
  5. Someone with the time. set aside some days per month to create blog posts, and promote them
Intel - You need some ideas for what to write about. This is especially important if you are setting up a blog to generate qualified search engine traffic. You need to find out what your potential customers are searching for with regard to your product / service. This is where keyword research comes in handy. Another good method is to use your customer FAQ. What questions are your existing customers commonly asking you? Chances are your potential customers are asking the same questions.

Method to publish - You need a blog itself and a method for publishing the content to the web. Remember a blog is essentially a website so any content management system will allow you to do this. There are plenty of free blog publishing software out there such as blogger or Wordpress.

Optimise your Blog

Method of promotion - Of course a blog on its own is not much good if you cant tell people when you have published some new information. You need a way to tell all interested parties that you have some interesting news for them. The best method for promoting blog articles is really your trusty email. You can also use Facebook, Twitter, RSS feeds and a multitude of other social media applications.

Make it easy for users to share - Once you get people to your blog, make it easy for visitors to share it with their friends and colleagues. Chances are if they like it, they will know someone else who will like it. Some common methods for sharing links include: a "Share this" badge, a "Tweet this" badge, or a "Buzz this" badge. You can get a Share this badge from  Addthis. You can then add the code to each page of your blog or website yourself. Or you can get Zeald to add it to the template of your website for you. This means the badge will appear in the footer of every page of your website automatically.
Promote your Blog
Followers - Once you have the content and the method of broadcasting, you then need some interested parties. This involves building an email database, building a Twitter fellowship or a Facebook fan club. You might already have a good database of customers that you can start with, but you should look to continually build and refine this database.

Engage - Blogs work best when you can engage with your users. Blogs are a core element of the Web 2.0 revolution, where the content is driven and generated by the end user. Users will expect to interact and post comments and discuss issues directly and publicly with you. This can be scary to begin with but once you get past that, you will find it very effective. Let your users write your content for you, let them voice their opinions, ask their questions and have your say.

Setup a third party blog
This is a good free way to setup a blog for your business. You can very easily and quickly setup a new blog with a specialist blog software such as blogger. Using such software you are able to design a "header" and choose from a number of pre-formatted templates to fit with your companies brand.

You should link to your blog from your website in a new window.

You should setup your blog with a sub domain of your primary website address. For example www.blog.zeald.com is a subdomain of the primary www.zeald.com website address. Blogger help will explain how you can do this.

Limitations of Blogger:
  • The design options are also very limited and templated.
  • Because it is free it is very DIY. You will need to design it yourself or pay a design company to help you. 
  • Blogger does not have a phone helpline, so you are reliant on just help files.
  • Unable to incorpoarte it within your website. The external blog must remain just that. You will need to link to it in a popup window - It is never a good idea to "Iframe" an external blog into your website, for usability and SEO reasons

Setup a Zeald blog

Try the Zeald blogging tool that allows you to easily post news updates and articles to your sites. It integrates nicely into the front end and back end of your Zeald website. 
Learn about our Blogs and Social Networking product and fast track your blogging and Social media.

Email marketing

Which ever option you choose for your blog platform, if you are setting up a blog, you need to setup email marketing. The two go hand in hand. Build up a database of followers. Send out religiously a new campaign every 2 months. You might like to send more regular campaigns, but make sure that you are not annoying your customers and make sure you have enough good quality content. If you leave it much more than 2 months, your audience might forget who you are.
Email marketing is the method you use to broadcast, how you let everyone who is interested know that you have new content on your blog. You should also consider building a social network using tools such as Twitter and Facebook.
Learn about Zeald email marketing

In Summary

Ultimately it is your call, but really the technology you use is the small investment you will be making. The bigger decisions will be in your management resource. Who is going to own this task and make it work for you?

All the best with it! If you have any further queries with regard to setting up a blog on your website, please use our comments or speak with your Zeald ebusiness consultant

Stay tuned we will be adding to these articles to offer further advice and guidance.
 

Social media strategy

Written by Hamish Braddick on June 22nd, 2010.      0 comments

Strategic approach - A Social Media Plan

The more you plan out your strategy the more effective your social media presence will be. Here are a few steps to get you started on it:

1. Study target audience and competition

First and foremost, you need to understand your audience - what they are looking for on the Internet, what they are interested in and where these conversations are happening.

To give you an idea, we have used the study conducted by MarketingSherpa and created this graph which shows you the main reasons why people follow companies on social media platforms:

Social Media Strategy

So looking at this graph it's obvious what motivates most of us to follow companies - knowing about any special sales or offers and also learning about  new products or services are among the top two reasons. Use research like this to your benefit when you get into social media - only provide information that is deemed valuable by your followers, otherwise you will start losing them. Having entertaining posts and telling your followers about your company culture is good too but keep the content in balance.

2. Define goals and objectives

Your over all goals for your social media plan should be in line with your business and website goals. Once you have identified your goals, define your objectives. For example - say that your social media goal is to increase the number of leads or sales you get from your website. Now you have to break this down into objectives - in order to achieve this goal, you will have to increase the number of visitors to your website, which will require increasing the number of followers you have in your network. You will also need to post articles and run promotions on your social media platforms to engage your followers and direct this traffic.

MarketingSherpa conducted another study of around 2,300 organisations and asked them what objectives does social media achieve best and here are the responses from all the respondents. 

Objectives Social Media Achieves Best

The results show that most of the marketers agree that the objective achieved best by social media is increasing product awareness, which plays a big part in your marketing goals. But it doesn't stop there, social media can be used to help a number of areas. You can have multiple goals that breakdown into a few different objectives - the trick is to get started on something simple and gradually add to your objectives. For example, objectives like improving customer support quality is something you can start adding to your once you get your feet in and feel comfortable. But don't underestimate the power of social media when it comes to customer support. During the disruptive Icelandic volcano, Heathrow Airport had dedicated staff updating Twitter and Facebook with flight details and also responding to people a lot quicker than waiting get through the customer support which had long back logs, as you would expect.

3. Set success metrics

Once you have your over all goal and objectives, it's time to define your success metrics which means setting definite measurable objectives so you know whether your social media presence is working. Say your goal is to increase number of leads or sales from your website - give this a figure, for example increase it by 5% by the end of the year. And now for each of your objectives do the same - you will need to increase your website visitors by 30% and this might mean you will need to build a network of 1,000 followers by the end of the year and in order to keep them engaged you will need to have at least one post per week on your Facebook page, one every two days on Twitter and one new blog post every week, etc. etc. Each month come back and visit these numbers to make sure that you are on track with your goal. Facebook has a great reporting feature where you get a weekly update on the number of fans on your page, number of visits to your page and also total number of posts. You will have to do this manually for Twitter but if you do it regularly it won't feel like a big job.

Here's another study by MarketingSherpa on what marketers are measuring in their social media plans:

What Social Media Marketers Measure

As you can see, the majority of marketers measure the visitor numbers and also network size in terms of number of followers and fans. Quality and quantity of comments on the posts, search engine ranking and leads generated are also among the top 6 measured areas by majority of the marketers.

4. Pick your platform

There are a number of platforms available to you as far as social media is concerned:

Facebook

Facebook has become an extremely popular tool for individuals to connect with friends and family online and share personal information such as pictures, social events and birthdays. However these days Facebook is also being used as a very effective channel to connect with customers. The main reason for this is the fact that globally it is estimated that around 200 million people log on to Facebook everyday! Therefore by having a presence on this channel you will be in the same space as most of your customers. So businesses have been starting Facebook pages and having their clients and fans "like" them so they can connect with them on a daily basis. On a Facebook page you can include posts, upload pictures and also publish links your blog or website.

Twitter

Twitter is a social networking device that allows users to send and read other users' updates, which are known as 'Tweets'. Tweets are typically short and sharp as they can only be up to 140 characters in length and most messages by default are published publicly. This service is widely used by businesses to launch campaigns and to increase brand awareness. Twitter is also great for posting reviews and comments so it can be used as a powerful platform for improving customer satisfaction by being able to directly listen to what the customer is saying about your company.

Blogs

Blogs are a great tool to keep your followers in the loop - whether it's a personal blog or for your company - these days blogs are becoming very popular because they offer a platform where you can share information. Increasing number of people are looking at blogs to give them information about all sorts of things - product reviews or useful articles on different subjects. There are a number of different blog providers out there, and we have just introduced a blog platform that will integrate with your website - meet with one of our E-Business Consultants to find out more.

YouTube

Youtube and Flickr are designed for sharing video and images. They offer free space where users can put up pictures or videos of things they are interested in. YouTube is another medium that is becoming an extremely popular channel for businesses as you can create a YouTube account for your company and effectively use it as a 'TV' that features short videos to help your customers. It can also be used to drive traffic to your website because it has effectively become the second largest search engine.

Digg

Digg is a place where you can find the best rated content from all over the world. From the weirdest thing on the Internet to the most obscure blogs, Digg will bring the most highly rated content in one portal. It does this by getting submission from the users, then having the other users view it and 'Digg' the articles they like. The submissions that get the most 'Diggs' get to front page, which is viewed by millions of people. So this is another great avenue to include interesting information or publish articles.

LinkedIn

LinkedIn is a professional tool used by businesses to network online. Individuals can use it to build an online portfolio by listing their work experience and gathering references so companies can use it as a tool to hire staff. But it is really only used by businesses and does not reach customers.

But by far the most commonly used platforms are Facebook, Twitter, YouTube and blogging. But remember, if you have a solid strategy it doesn't matter if the technology changes and there is some other platform you should be using.

5. Define the architecture

Social media architecture is all about connecting people with your content on landing pages and improving your conversion rate. The entire purpose of social media for business is to direct the conversations that are happening to your website - and this can be done in a number of ways:

  • Use campaigns that are relevant to your target customers, announce them via Facebook and have the traffic directed to your website.

  • Present special offers or come up with competitions that your followers can benefit from and take them to your website to redeem the offer.

  • Write useful articles or provide great information on your blog (which is on your website) and use your Facebook/Twitter to promote them. Likewise, your blog could help promote your Facebook page because it automatically lets your followers know when there is a new post.

The social media architecture links the actions with the various platforms so use your email newsletters and website to promote your Facebook site and use your Facebook account to drive traffic to your website. Good quality content in multiple areas that link back to your site can also improve your search engine optimisation - use that to your advantage.

Remember to roll out each platform sequentially and make sure you have mastered one before moving on to the next one.

6. Set the actions

Specify your policy and have guidelines

Decide how regularly you are going to put up a post or a tweet and how you respond to any mentions - both good and bad. Honesty and transparency in posts goes a long way - this is the age of information and if your followers want to know the truth about something, they will. It's best for you to be honest and up front at all times. Your followers will appreciate it a lot more than some PR spin.

Find the best person for the job

Don't make the mistake of putting an intern or someone junior in charge of social media. It is a big responsibility and in the wrong hands it can lose you followers. At the same time don't choose your CEO or your technical directors just because they have a good name in the industry. Social media role should be given to someone that WANTS to do it. Zeald client Louisa (co-owner of Belly Beyond) recommends using your best communicators for this job. It's not about choosing the most technically savvy person but the person that is best at communicating your brand and the message across. There are options to outsource your social media needs but we strongly recommend having someone in your company doing it or hiring someone part time to do it. By all means get a consultant to do your strategy if you like but when it comes down to the regular communication, it should be someone that reflects the culture within your company.

Think up tactics

This is the fun bit. This is where you decide what kind of tactics you will use to communicate with your followers. Say you want to have a blog that will include a new article each week, one of your tactics will be to announce your blog posts via Facebook and Twitter weekly. You can then think of specials you can run around different times of the year depending on the kind of business you have, for example around Easter or Christmas you can offer a special discount or a promotion. Your tactics should look at what you can do to keep your customers interested as well as attract potential customers so it could be giving away free information, or a special offer just for anyone that follows you. You don't have to decide exactly what it is straight away but just decide that you will do something to engage your followers. Have a look at what others are doing to get ideas flowing.

Have a rough calendar in place

Once you have your tactics planned out, create a calendar - it doesn't have to be definite, even something rough to say that on this particular week you will do something new, how you would launch it, where you would direct traffic to and how you can measure the success.

7. Test, Measure, Tune

This is one of the key areas when it comes to social media. Always measure how your campaigns are doing and tune the next one accordingly. Check how you are doing with your objectives each month, as mentioned before, Facebook has a great feature where it will email you weekly with your stats so you know how many fans you have and how many comments you have had on each post. You will have to do this manually for Twitter and Digg. Remember, don't be afraid to try something completely new or push the boundaries. If you make a mistake, just move on to the next initiative.

Topics: Social Media
 

Why should you take the social media plunge?

Written by Hamish Braddick on June 21st, 2010.      0 comments

Besides the fact that social media offers you the chance to hear what your customers have to say about your company, studies show that there are direct business benefits to having an online community.

How can you benefit from social media?

1. Increase brand awareness

Due to the public nature of most social media platforms, especially Facebook and Twitter and the sheer number of people globally using these platforms - social media offers the quickest way to promote your company and your brand. It also allows you to interact with the public directly and respond to issues directly which is one of the greatest benefits of social media. You can hear what people are saying and respond so it is a discussion rather than one way communication.

2. Building trust and credibility

When done right, social media can help build the trust of your customers and followers. Having an open and honest conversation about what is going well for your business and what isn't, combined with your willingness to make changes will without a doubt build the trust of your customers. Using your expertise and sharing good articles and content will further build your credibility as a leader in your industry.

3. Increase traffic to your website

If you have an engaging online community presence, with campaigns that can add value to your customers or get them talking, they will be inclined to click through to your site. And like most forms of online marketing, this traffic can be measured so you can see the effectiveness of your campaigns.

4. Improved SEO ranking

Likewise, when your social media presence is consistently engaging, your followers are more likely to publish a link to your website on their site or blog if they like a particular campaign or an article. These kind of inbound links are recognised by Google and will help your website rank higher in natural search results. So when anyone on Twitter either retweets your article or someone on Digg publishes your article as something they like, your website's SEO will benefit from it.

5. Low cost marketing tool

Compared to any other form of marketing or advertising, social media is a low cost and a high return medium. But don't forget that in order to do it effectively, there is time involved - which is will in turn cost your business. However, it trumps spending thousands of dollars that is required in print and radio advertising!

6. Customer support

One of the great benefits of social media is being able to improve your customer support, especially because of its immediate nature. This means that you can instantly tell people if there is a problem of some kind that your customers need to know about and also respond to any queries quickly. A great example of this is the way Heathrow Airport handled the huge influx of calls and queries through their customer support lines during the eruption of the Icelandic volcano. They had support staff dedicated to Twitter and Facebook who would frequently update the status of the flights and also responded to any queries. This proved to be a win-win situation for both passengers, who got frequent updates, and Heathrow, who was able manage the chaos a bit better. On a smaller scale, Orcon Internet also uses social media to update clients on any outages or issues and answer any queries.

7. Improved sales

A social media marketing company called Syncapse surveyed 4,000 people who have joined the top 20 brands on Facebook page by 'liking' them and figured out exactly how valuable these fans are. The study ('The value of a Facebook fan: An Emperical Review') estimates that someone who has 'liked' a brand will spend an average of $71.84 more each year on their products or services compared to someone who has not 'liked' them on Facebook. Not to mention, every happy and engaged follower can also result in referrals.

A great Kiwi example of social media presence...

Zeald clients Louisa and Heidi started Belly Beyond in 2008 - a website that specialises in ergonomic baby carriers, nappy bags, maternity lingerie and a huge range of gifts and essentials for mums and babies. As part of establishing a great website and business, they turned to social media to improve their results further. Louisa says, "We are an online company and always saw social media as a way to communicate, market and listen to our customers. Once we started down the path of creating Twitter and Facebook accounts as well as blogging - we got the bug and there was simply no turning back!"

Belly Beyond Zeald Clients The results certainly speak for themselves - in Jan/Feb 2010 Belly Beyond averaged around 16,500 visits and 135,000 page views per month. Using campaigns that crossover Facebook, Twitter, Belly Beyond blog and the website, the traffic to their website increased 170% to around 30,000 visits per month and 230,000 page views!

After noticing how successful these campaigns were, in March Louisa and Heidi came up with an online Treasure Hunt promotion using social media and their website - this time round their website visits peaked at 34,000 visitors and had a massive 333,000 page views! The sales for the same period also went up by 180% so their social media presence is making a significant difference to their bottom line as well.

Belly Beyond's Facebook page has also become the second most effective tool in driving traffic to their website, second only to Google. Their blog features regularly in the third spot - which goes to show that using Facebook for targeted campaigns and the blog to provide good useful information has really helped bring in the results for Belly Beyond.

Louisa and Heidi have also launched their YouTube channel, Belly Beyond TV and are developing it further to draw traffic to their website using YouTube as a search engine.

Needless to say Louisa is a big supporter of social media for small to medium size businesses. "It’s a low cost way of getting your brand out there, perfect for small to medium businesses who have a strong identity and message. It is time consuming but we are an example that it can and does translate to traffic and to sales."

Make the most of social media now

Even with all the positive aspects of social media and all the great stories like Belly Beyond, the 2010 Business Monitor United States report shows that when it comes to small to medium size businesses, social media hasn't quite been utilised at its best. Only 24% of respondents from this study said that they've received sales leads from social media, and only 1% said that it was an actual factor for business growth.

Since this is an American study, it's safe to assume that New Zealand will be trailing by a year or so in terms of the results companies are producing using social media. Social media is something that is still relatively new and not every business is using it very well yet which is exactly why getting involved right now could give your business the edge.

It's up to you to make it happen for your business

When done right, social media can be a really valuable source to attract new customers and make sure that the customers you have right now stick around and recommend your services to others. A big part of this is taking part in the conversation and listening to what people are saying - ignoring this is lazy and will not help you with your sales.

It's also up to you to find the opportunities in the social media platform, information is there for the taking -  for example, a customer that tweets about a poor experience or a woman that is talking about how she is finding event organisation stressful - if you are not listening carefully, all these messages are missed opportunities. For example in the case of the woman that is stressed out, all you have to say is: "is there anyway I can help?" That goes a long way in building a great relationship. And who knows, your business might be actually able to help her too!

As a small business owner, it's your responsibility to use these bits of information available publicly to build relationships, improve your customer service and improve your products.

Your size is a great advantage

There  are a number of big brands that have adopted social media and done an amazing job of it like Starbucks for example. But their big size means that they cannot engage with every one that mentions them.

As a small business owner, you have the advantage of being able to respond to everyone that mentions you. Make sure you are always searching for your brand name on Twitter to see if anyone is saying anything about you.

So how do you get started?

Finding the best way to use social media for your company can seem like a daunting task - especially when you hear stories in the media about all these big companies doing big, amazing and creative things on Facebook and Twitter. But even the big guys sometimes fail to realise that the smallest of gestures can have a huge impact when it comes to social media.

Start simple

As a first step, Louisa (from Belly Beyond) recommends signing up to Twitter with your company's name as the username as soon as possible, so that way you don't miss out on that particular username when you do decide to get started.

From here you can start simple - spend a bit of time listening. You want to know what people are saying about your company, about your competitors and about your industry. Go where they are pointing to and listen to the conversations that are happening - this will also help you learn the social media language.

Research competitors

Find out what others in your industry are doing. Don't be discouraged thinking I'm a builder or an engineer so how can I use social media? The best thing to do is to see what others are doing and work from there. Giapo is a small gelato shop in Queen Street. There are a number of gelato shops around and there is nothing different about Giapo's product but the owner has set himself apart by a mile simply by using social media very effectively. His core philosophy is enabling conversation. The owner will do anything to get people talking to him and between themselves. So whatever your industry, there is a way - you just need to look outside the box.

Take the plunge

Don't spend too long listening - take the plunge. Start by acknowledging anyone that mentions you. Say someone has been in your restaurant or talks about your products - just a simple "thank you for dropping by" or a "how can we make your experience even better?" can go a long way in building great relationships and repeat purchases. Not to mention, you'd be gathering valuable information along the way, which would normally be very difficult to achieve.

Identify your strategy

The effectiveness of your social media presence comes down to your business - how fast it's growing, how committed you are and also what your overall goals and objectives are. This is something that should be identified very early on and identified as your 'social media strategy'. Your strategy ultimately determines the success of your social media presence. Read our blog post on how to come up with a great social media strategy for your business.

View more presentations from Zeald.
Topics: Social Media
 

Online networking through forums & blogs

Written by Hamish Braddick on June 12th, 2010.      0 comments

Create a keyword rich signature to include at the bottom of your post whenever you discuss topics in an online forum.  Determine relevant forums and blogs to link to your website and contribute to the discussions that are occurring in these places.  Don't forget to include your signature whenever you post. 

Take care to spend some time in the forum getting to know the people, and the etiquette. Do not use forums and blogs to "advertise" your business or your products. This will be viewed as spam and you could find that the exercise has a negative eff

Finding relevant, quality forums and blogs

To discover good forums and blogs, search for relevant and quality forums or blog sites using Google.  You can use a search string similar to the following -'forum:[keyword describing my website theme]' You will need to choose a very generic keyword. For example a website selling meat to a New Zealand market could try the following searches to find relevant forums. “New Zealand” “Meat” “Butcher” “Recipes”

Hint. Keep track of your list of relevant forums and blogs in a spreadsheet and constantly add to it. If you haven't already, don't forget to sign up for Google Alerts.  Google will then notify you whenever they find a new link to your website.

 

How to use Twitter effectively for your business

Written by David Kelly on April 1st, 2008.      0 comments

Twitter is a powerful social networking service that allows anyone to say anything about anybody in 140 characters or less – this includes spaces and all punctuation. The short posts, known as 'tweets' and are delivered to other users that have signed up to receive them. By default the messages are published publicly, but this can be changed by the user if they choose to restrict delivery to just their community.

What is unique about Twitter?

Twitter is unique because the text-based posts can be no longer than 140 characters. It was designed this way to work with mobile phone text messages (SMS), so users can update anytime, from anywhere. In a way, Twitter is used in a similar manner to instant messengers like MSN, but the majority of posts are published to the world and recorded for anybody to find at a later date.

So where does Twitter fit in the social networking landscape?

The public nature of Twitter means that it is less about family, and unlike LinkedIn, it is used more by regular people than businesses. It is “what are you doing right now” type of messaging but people are using it for a lot more than that. Twitter has become the way to instantly share links, reviews and comments about experiences people are having so it has become an information hub on a wide range of topics.

People are also using Twitter to research information that will help them with their jobs and to discuss and review services and products before buying them. Twitter is also being used to voice concerns and complaints in a public forum about individuals or companies. On the other hand, it is also used to share and inform the community about good experiences.

In fact, Twitter has become so popular for sharing experiences that on any given day, the average number of Tweets on twitter.com is now around 3,000,000! 

An alternative to Google?

This has become a valid question because Twitter, like a Google search listing, is a directory of links. Twitter listings are also short and sharp, which is very similar to a Google search results page. In fact each post is like a personalised Metatitle. But it is different in that the links are personally recommended by friends, colleagues or simply like minded individuals.

Twitter is being used as an alternate method for finding information on the Internet. Twitter posts are timely, relevant, of good quality and not influenced by businesses or advertising. It is honest and transparent.

So what does this mean for business?

Twitter allows you to interact with public while increasing brand awareness. The primary objective of this medium is to manage a company's brand online. In a way it has revolutionised branding. For the first time, it allows companies to respond and discuss issues openly with their customers and potential customers.

This also means that you can get instant access to what people are saying about your brand, people and service and use that information to manage your online reputation.

It can also increase traffic. Social networks have taken over email in terms of popularity.

You can write articles and announce them with Twitter. Since you only have 140 characters to post a message, there is no way you can tell a story. All you can do is post a link to the information and provide a summary as to what the information is about. Twitter works really well with a blog. If you would like to broadcast a message to your followers, use your blog (or dedicated area on your website) to convey the message and use Twitter to broadcast it.

Users opt in by 'following' to be your friend and see your messages. This means your messages will be targeted specifically to people who are interested in your product or service. It's a great way to make announcements to loyal customers.

Twitter is also a great way to network with others in your industry or others who share your interests.

Tips for effective Twittering

Twitter is about networking, learning, helping and most importantly listening. Be active in the community and participate in discussions.

To get started

  1. Build an account and link your profile to your company's website. That will give you more chances to get visits to your site. And where possible, introduce your work colleagues to other twitter users. Likewise, post a link to your Twitter profile from your website – Twitter is all about building a community.
  2. Add a clear picture of yourself and personalise your page. Remember this is about a personal brand, users want to know you and see you.
  3. Set yourself objectives. What are you trying to achieve from this tool? For example, do you want to promote your brand or find out what people are saying about your brand or simply build a network?
  4. Find people to follow. Start with your friends, family and your work colleagues. Then find New Zealand’s 'most powerful tweeters'.
  5. Use Twitter Search to listen for your name, your competitors' names and words that relate to your space. By listening you will know if you are achieving your objectives.

What to Tweet?

  1. If you want to use Twitter effectively, don't make the mistake of answering the question, “What are you doing?”. Instead answer the question, “What has your attention at the moment?”
  2. Point out interesting things in your space, not just things about you.
  3. Commenting on other users’ tweets, and retweeting what others have posted is a great way to build a community. Learn the Twitter lingo to find out how you can do this.
  4. Talk about what other people are doing as well. This may not directly help your business but shows that you are human and that you are interested in events that not just 'work-related'.
  5. Share links to neat things in your space so you are actively contributing to the Twitter community. Remember to make every Tweet count.
  6. If someone says something negative about you or your brand, don't get defensive or just apologise. Offer help and useful tips instead.
  7. Steer clear of becoming a 'salesperson' on Twitter as most people will see through this and tune out. You will have a lot more success being a 'real person'.
  8. Promote your colleagues and employees, not just your business. Social media is about people connecting with people and your followers want to know hear about human-related things.
  9. When promoting a blog post, ask a question or explain what’s coming next, instead of just dumping a link. And make it useful.
  10. Ask questions. Twitter is a fantastic way to get opinions.
  11. Follow interesting people. If you find someone who tweets interesting things, see who they follow, and follow them. You can always 'unfollow' someone if their Tweets are not relevant to you.

Make it efficient

  1. Remember you don’t have to read every tweet and you don’t have to reply to every tweet directed to you (try to reply to some, but don’t feel guilty). Twitter can be time consuming and if you spend all your time on Twitter, your employer will surely find out!
  2. Use direct messages for one on one conversations if you feel there’s no value to the entire Twitter community.
  3. Use third party clients like Tweetdeck and Twhirl, which make it a lot easier to manage Twitter.
  4. Learn quickly to use the URL shortening tools like TinyURL. It helps tidy up your tweets. If you use a third party client like Tweetdeck, the URLs can be automatically shortened.
  5. If someone says you’re using Twitter wrong, forget it. It’s an opt out system. They can unfollow if they don’t like what you're saying.

Things not to do

  1. Make sure that you’re avoiding overly repetitive tweets (or too many RT’s).
  2. Remember this is your personal brand. Avoid creating arguments and flaming users.
  3. Be very careful what you announce and who you are announcing it too. Check out this famous case of a girl who Tweeted before she started her new job.

Happy tweeting!

 

What is Social Networking?

Written by David Kelly on April 1st, 2008.      0 comments

Everyone is talking about it. Everyone is doing it. So what is social networking?

In simple terms, social networking is building an online community of people who share common interests or are interested in finding out about the interests of other people. Majority of social networking is done using the social media services available online for free.

And why should you care about the social media frenzy?*

  • Because 2/3rds of the global internet population visit social networks
  • Because visiting social sites is now the 4th most popular online activity – ahead of personal email
  • Because time spent on social networks is growing at three times the overall internet rate

Still not convinced? Watch this short video on Social Media Revolution to help you understand the power of social media in the world today.

Common social media options

Twitter is a social networking device that allows users to send and read other users' updates, which are known as 'Tweets'. Tweets are typically short and sharp as they can only be up to 140 characters in length and most messages by default are published publicly. This service is widely used by businesses to launch campaigns and to increase brand awareness. Twitter is also great for posting reviews and comments so it can be used a powerful platform for improving customer satisfaction by being able to directly listen to what the customer is saying about your brand. To find out more about using this tool read our article on 'How to use Twitter effectively for your business'.

Facebook has become an extremely popular tool for individuals to connect with friends and family online and share personal information such as pictures, social events and birthdays. Facebook can also be used to connect with customers. Tips on how to use it for your business.

LinkedIn is a professional tool used by businesses to network online. Individuals can use it to build an online portfolio by listing their work experience and gathering references so companies can use it as a tool to hire staff. But it is really only used by businesses and does not reach customers.

Then there is Bebo which is like Facebook but largely used by teenagers to share gossip and personal information.

Myspace was one of the first social networking sites, though over time it has lost a lot of its popularity to Facebook. It is still being used by musicians as a way to promote their albums and concerts.

Youtube and Flickr are designed for sharing images and video. They offer free space where users can put up holiday pictures or videos of things they are interested in. This medium is less about the conversation and dialogue.

Delicious was designed as a simple tool that allows users to categorise and save their favourite web links to one centralised online space and share them with other like minded people around the world.

*(Stats taken from Nielson, Global Faces & Networked Places, 2009)

Topics: Social Media
 
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