Vantage Blog

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08
Aug
2014

5 Tips to Help Make Social Media Work for You

Social media can sometimes appear like the emperor without clothes. Lots of people praise its power, and trumpet their success, in driving new business. Many more sit back puzzled at what all the fuss is about.

Much of the problem stems from believing (or hoping) that social media on its own will be the solution for all your sales and marketing efforts. It certainly is part of the solution, but not all as some would have you believe. For instance, for businesses where high trust is critical it won’t close a sale.

But if approached in the right way it can be an effective and efficient part of the marketing mix helping you increase awareness and make your offer more accessible and credible.

1. Fish where the fish are: Be where your customers (or prospective customers) hang out. You wouldn’t attend a networking event full of people you had no interest in doing business with, so why hang out on social media networks where there are no prospective customers. If your customers are on Facebook use that as your primary social media network; if business professionals are what you are after then LinkedIn is for you. And once utilising one of those platforms use their targeting and profiling tools to hone your focus.

2. Connect with a purpose: Social media is a great way to connect in a simple and non obtrusive way. But its real value comes when it is part of how you build your business network. If you sit behind a PC all day madly digitally connecting without a clear target strategy in place then you are pretty much wasting your time. You need to consider who you want to connect with and how you can add value (hint: it’s not all about you!).

3. Integrate online and offline: Online should be a part of an integrated approach. You need to connect online AND offline – that’s right face to face (especially for B2B) and/or via your service delivery. Think through how you build your network on and offline. For most businesses connecting offline is where you will build real trust – online is a support for that process and a great way to keep connected without having to be in their face.

4. Deliver value: Content is the new currency of marketing. And social media is a great platform to distribute and share. But it needs to be content that adds real value. It needs to hit what I call the sweet spot - solve real customer problems, be easily digestible (that is easy to read, understand and apply) and is grounded in your competitive advantage (what makes your brand and offer unique). Content that doesn’t hit this sweet spot – that is provide real value – will just be noise and add to the clutter. It can be a mix of original content by you and sharing great content by others. For more on sweet spot click here.

5. Be consistent and engaging: To expect a single posting on social media to make you a thought leader, or to ‘go viral’ with one click, is unrealistic. You need to have a strategy that fits with what you want to achieve and enable you to consistently connect, engage and share. Given the 1000’s of commercial messages everyone is exposed to every single day you need to creatively present and re-present the content you create. Just as TV ads are repeated to ensure you see them more than once you need to ensure you do the same in social media. But unlike say TV, you can easily keep them fresh by recycling and refreshing. Here’s a few ideas:

• Add an image or a quote
• Re-purpose for the different platforms (an image for Instagram, a quote for Twitter)
• Re-publish at different times of the day to reach different users
• Re-present in different formats – a video for YouTube, a presentation for SlideShare, a blog for your website
• Write intriguing headlines – numbers and lists are really popular

Two final thoughts. There are a number of cheap (or free) tools to help you manage social media, and your connection and publishing approach. Two good ones are Hootsuite or Sprout Social.

And of course be focused. Work out what works for your business and focus on doing that really well. If you take that approach social media can become an important part of driving sales and marketing success.


by James Atkins, Vantage Strategy & Marketing.
This article is linked to James' Google+ profile

Social media can sometimes appear like the emperor without clothes. Lots of people praise its power, and trumpet their success, in driving new business. Many more sit back puzzled at what all the fuss is about.

 ..

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18
Jul
2014

From Rants to Raves: Social Media and Employment

By this month’s guest bloggers Suzanne Whitmarsh and Andrew Thoseby from 1st Executive
There is a lot of talk around about employment. In Australia, unemployment remained steady in April at 5.8%, the US saw a sharp fall in benefits applications and unemployment fell to 6.3% and in the UK, the number of unemployed fell to 2.2m from a post GFC high of 2.7m with a rate of 6.8%.


Troubled Western economies are recovering and even in Australia, where recession was avoided, the economic baton appears to have passed from mining construction to civil and residential construction with private and government infrastructure spending on the rise.


There is no doubt that social media has played a major role during tough times – sometimes outing bad business or management practices and often just facilitating stream of consciousness venting The tide is turning though. The recruitment industry, whether in-house or agency has had a multi-speed approach to engaging with social media. There have been HR drives to ensure employees understand that their rants about an employer could result in disciplinary processes, some recruiters have over done the application and many remain bewildered by it. In our view, it is just another tool.

The internet is just one “big data” list of potential employees. Social media platforms are the windows through which they can be viewed. If the strategic and creative thinking is right – social sourcing can pay dividends.

Two simple examples for us have been with a regional transport company (think really big blokey trucks) and Tigerair who opened a new flight base in Brisbane and needed 50 cabin crew – fast.

There are common elements – YouTube, Facebook, Twitter etc. Each application was different. YouTube played a big part for the transport company. The problem they had was securing longer term, family oriented drivers who struggled to convince their partners to leave the city for the country. While it certainly augmented numbers, the ability to send a link to a lifestyle video for the area and to deliver the family values of the business on film was a winner – we found wives following up on their husbands’ applications.

For Tigerair, the challenge was delivering 200+ candidates to fixed assessment centre dates as part of time line to takeoff. We knew this age group would go viral, and we only advertised for 3 days. The ability to link all social media platforms to a (database) application form was critical – we needed the interest, but we needed technology to handle the volume that came from sharing. We filled all 3 assessment centres and hit new employee target within a very tight time frame. Our reference site for this was a Facebook campaign which is the leading European volume recruitment case study (click here). Our page (click here) gives a preview of how this will look when rolled out to a multi-branch network.

There are a few simple questions that need to be considered before rolling headlong into social media:
1. What is the real business problem? Our first example was about solving a communications challenge and our second was about driving volume for a job that many young people would covet.
2. What is the best vehicle to solve the problem? Video tells the best story, but often Twitter and Facebook content will be shared faster (of course all of these can be combined).
3. Can we cope with the response? In simple terms, if we are using social technology, we need a “back office” that can cope – quantitatively or qualitatively as appropriate.
4. Is this a one off or do we need social to be part of our strategy ongoing? This will lead to ether investing in creating apps or to using what is already there.

In summary, the hype about social media and recruiting has created everything from raving fans to gibbering wrecks. It needs to be looked at as just another tool and what it can do needs to be considered as a value add on a case by case basis. However it is used, employers will always want to meet (even if by Skype) their potential employees.

Learn more about 1st Executive - click here

By this month’s guest bloggers Suzanne Whitmarsh and Andrew Thoseby from 1st Executive
There is a lot of talk around about employment. In Australia, unemployment remained steady in April at 5.8%, the US saw a sharp fall in benefits applications and unemployment fell to 6.3% and in the UK, the number of unemployed fell to 2.2m from a post GFC high of 2.7m with a rate of 6.8%.  ..

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02
Aug
2013

Brand and Culture: Two sides of the one coin

One of the most successful online businesses I have seen has to be Zappos - an online shoe and apparel store that has had exponential growth and success to the point that they were acquired by Amazon.

Most companies focus on positioning their products as their main marketing push. Zappos’ Chief Happiness Officer Tony Hsieh however has a different perspective on how to create the best brand: by focusing first on service and empowering their people to deliver.


Have a look how Tony describes it...



As he says their strategy for growth includes taking most of the money that would have been spent on paid advertising and marketing and investing it in customer service and experience.  They truly do let their customers do their marketing through word of mouth.


But it is culture that is the key to making this work. Zappos’ people are passionate about service.  Their people are empowered to deliver great service no matter what.


Brand and culture are two sides of the same coin.  Quite often there is a significant mismatch between what brands say about themselves in their marketing and the experience their staff deliver.


They are building their brand ‘one phone call at a time’.  It is a virtuous circle between brand and culture, and it works!


How would you describe the relationship between your culture and your brand – are they aligned, do they build on each other, do your staff deliver the promise?


by James Atkins, Vantage Strategy & Marketing

This article is linked to James' Google+ profile

One of the most successful online businesses I have seen has to be Zappos - an online shoe and apparel store that has had exponential growth and success to the point that they were acquired by Amazon.

Most companies focus on positioning their products as their main marketing push. Zappos’ Chief Happiness Officer Tony Hsieh however has a different perspective on how to create the best brand: by focusing first on service and empowering their people to deliver. ..

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08
Feb
2012

3 Key Ideas for Business Success in 2012

1.  Own your Online Space 84% of your target market will now research you online before making a decision to buy from you based on recent research from Google.

Your website is now just one very small part of a larger web of touch points your prospective customers can have to discover more about your business. What comes up when you search for your business name on Google? (Is it anything over and above your own website?) Do you know what questions your target market; ask when researching using your services? (does your business come up in that search?)


It’s no longer an option to ignore joining the online conversation about your services regardless of whether you are selling whiteboards or cars. If you don’t join in the conversation then your competitors will. Setup Google alerts, research online forums your target market are using and join in, write a Blog or record a YouTube video to answer the most pressing questions your target market are asking about your services.

2.  Boost the Energy Levels of your Team You can spot a team within an organization with great energy a mile away. Their productivity levels are high, they are having fun, they solve problems rapidly and they collaborate effectively.

So how do you boost energy within a team?

Like most things in business there is no silver bullet but the key starting point is having a great leader in place to drive the team. This is make or break for any team as you can provide all the motivation you like to team members but if the leader isn’t right it will all be in vain.

So assuming you have the right leader in place boosting team energy is a combination of providing clear direction on a weekly / monthly basis to the team and moving on so called “Energy Vampires” that sap energy from others.  As they say getting the right people in the right seats on the bus,  and customizing the support you provide each team member to their needs, is key.

3.  Focus on what matters 20% of what you do creates 80% of the benefit you provide to the business. The other 80% is potentially a waste of time or could be delegated.

This is the question you should be asking yourself at this time of year as it helps clean out non-strategic activities that build up during the year. Create a list of the 80% of things you do that only create 20% of the benefit to the business and circle the 3 biggest areas of waste which could either be stopped or delegated.

If you find this helpful start doing it quarterly and you will find your productivity lifts and you are freed up to do the ‘right’ tasks that create value for the business.

James Atkins

Vantage Strategy & Marketing

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1.  Own your Online Space 84% of your target market will now research you online before making a decision to buy from you based on recent research from Google.

Your website is now just one very small part of a larger web of touch points your prospective customers can have to discover more about your business. What comes up when you search for your business name on Google? (Is it anything over and above your own website?) Do you know what questions your target market; ask when researching using your services? (does your business come up in that search?)  ..

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02
Aug
2011

Ten Tips For Approaching Social Media Strategically

Fergal Coleman from Symphony3 has compiled the following ten tips for approaching social media strategically.


They provide some good insights to those who look upon Social Media as a portfolio of tools that can be used strategically in the organisations, not only from a  sales and marketing perspective, but as research tools,  customer support tools, business efficiency tools and more...

1.  Use Social Media internally first - Start using social media tools internally to improve communication between team members and your best customers. Collaboration tools include: Wikis, Basecamp HQ, Central Desktop, and Sharepoint. Meeting tools include:  Gotomeeting, Webex and Skype. Instant Messaging tools include: MSN, Gmail chat. Cloud computing tools include: Google Apps. Internal social network tools include: Yammer and Salesforce Chatter.

2.  Set the ground-rules - Write a social media policy for yourself, your employees and where appropriate for customers and partners. Even if your organisation is not officially using social media, chances are your employees are using social media at work so you need a policy. The policy can be short, but should clearly outline how employees should behave online, what they should and shouldn’t say. You may also need a response guide outlining how you will respond to good and bad comments about your organisation online. Download our Social Media Response guide

3.  Start Listening - Social Media is best described as a series of online conversations. Just like in normal life good conversationalists are great listeners. Listen to what the leading organisations in your field are doing, listen to what your customers are saying online, keep up-to-date with industry blogs. Luckily there are a myriad of tools available to listen including Google Alerts, Socialmention.com, LinkedIn groups, Twitter search and OpenFacebook Search.

4.  Identify your target market - As with any communication plan you need to know exactly who you are targeting? Where are they online? How do they communicate? What are they doing online? Why will they listen to and eventually buy from you? You will already know a lot of this about your existing customers. Often sending out a well-structured survey on surveymonkey.com will provide you with more clues as to where and what you should be communicating. Combine this with point 3 and you are on your way.

5.  Start responding - When you have listened and understand what people are saying and where they are saying it, start responding on specific industry blogs, joining Twitter discussions, commenting on Youtube, and slideshare.net or starting discussions on LinkedIn. This will give you an understanding of the tone and topics that interest and engage people, and you will start to get noticed by the online influencers in your industry.

6.  Create your own initiatives and get others involved - You’ve done the research, now dive in! Choose your tools and set up your initiatives. You will by now have a feel for which tools, initiatives and type of content best suit your customers. It could be blogs, discussion forums, linkedin, facebook, slideshare etc etc. Focus on spreading the content that adds the most value to your target market. Ask customers, partners and others that can add further value to contribute a guest post or video. This fosters community and adds value to the people who visit your online community.

7.  Measure - Everything online is measureable. Regularly check your analytics to see what is working and not working. Are you achieving your KPIs? Keep doing more of what’s working.  If something’s not working change it or stop doing it. See next point.

8.  Fail fast - Social media tools are free and quick to set up. The most wasted resource will be the time of you and your team. Once you have a plan for a tool set it up and test it. Find out how much value it can add as quickly as you can. Measure carefully and try different tactics.If it’s not working move on.

9.  Syndicate – Connect up the various social media tools so that you only have to create a message once and promote it via all your social media tools and networks. Tools like Hootsuite, Ping.fm, Bit.ly, Tweetdeck and Postling enable you to do this automatically. This ensures you get your message your target audience in multiple places, with little additional effort.

10.  Train and educate – Train your team to use the Social Media tools you decide best suit your target market. Train your partners and customers on these tools so they understand how to get the best from the information and value you provide. Oh and finally, train and educate them again, and again and again.
Symphony3 provide a full framework and roadmap for social media implementation. They invite contributions and critiques of the social media framework on their wiki. For more info or to contribute your thoughts and case studies on social media visit http://symphony3.centraldesktop.com/framework/

Fergal Coleman from Symphony3 has compiled the following ten tips for approaching social media strategically. ..


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