Tuesday, 23 August 2016

Top tools to schedule social media content

Social media scheduling tools

Read about top tools to schedule social media content.

Busy adding content and not able to take a holiday? Scheduling tools allow you to add social media content, months in advance and take a break!

What is scheduling?

Scheduling a post means instead of it being published right away you can choose a time or a date that it will be published. This means that you can still publish interesting content to your followers, even if you’re not in the office!  There are several tools to help you schedule posts and here we cover three of the most popular social media scheduling tools.

Hootsuite, Buffer or Tweetdeck?

Three of the best known social media scheduling services are Hootsuite, Buffer and Tweetdeck. While Tweetdeck focuses purely on Twitter, Hootsuite and Buffer can encompass all your social media accounts including Instagram, Facebook, Youtube and LinkedIn.

When devising your social media strategy, you need to think about what accounts you will be using, how often and for what. If you only run three accounts for your business (Twitter, Facebook and LinkedIn for example) then Hootsuite or Buffer may suit you perfectly.

 

Hootsuite – the free option

Hootsuite’s non-subscription, free service allows you to operate three social media accounts without paying. Hootsuite offers a variety of features that set it apart from other social automation tools such as;

  • The ability to manage accounts on multiple sites from one, easy to use dashboard. Hootsuite supports Twitter, Facebook, LinkedIn, Google+, Instagram, WordPress, Myspace and Foursquare.
  • Hootsuite enables its users to schedule an unlimited amount of updates on each of these social media platforms with an in-built auto-scheduler that pinpoints the ideal time for a user’s posts.
  • A URL shortening feature means that users have all the tools available in one place to easily curate and share content from other websites.
  • The inclusion of a ‘Hootlet’ extension on Google Chrome and Firefox makes it simple for users to share content from a variety of sources.
  • Hootsuite not only allows users to post and schedule social updates but also respond to posts and receive messages.
  • Using its filter streams, Hootsuite members are also able to monitor conversations, trends and topics across all social sites, not just their own profiles and pages.
  • Hootsuite’s custom reporting and analytics tools make it ideal for agency users who require software to provide their customers with detailed reports showing the ROI of social activities.
  • A mobile app also allows users to access their Hootsuite account away from the main website.

There are also some negative aspects to using Hootsuite and users have found that:

  • In order to take full advantage of all the features offered by Hootsuite, time must be invested to learn how to properly use the software.
  • Hootsuite is available for free, however this version is limited and there is a significant cost involved for full use of all its features.
  • The URL shortening feature only allows owl.ly domains to be used unless users wish to pay extra to use a different domain. This means that it is apparent to other users that the social updates have been automated.
  • The Hootsuite mobile app is also disappointing in terms of its social support. Users are not able to access as many networks as they can when using the website and those they can access are controlled independently of the web account. Meaning updates created through the mobile app cannot be seen or edited when logged into the web account.

Buffer – the paid option

Buffer’s ‘Awesome Plan’ allows you to schedule content for up to 10 accounts for just $10 per month.

  • Buffer is similar to Hootsuite as it provides a solution to automating social updates for multiple accounts from one central location. Providing a way to simplify sharing, Buffer;
  • Allows users to manage multiple social network accounts from its dashboard. These include Facebook, Twitter, Google+ and LinkedIn.
  • Buffer is very simple to use and can be picked up easily.
  • The buff.ly URL shortening feature makes it easy to share links to other websites. Also users are not restricted to using the in-built feature and can instead choose to use bit.ly or any other URL shortening application.
  • Buffer also has a bookmarklet that allows its users to share content from other websites. The Buffer extension also integrates itself into the social applications, for example, in Twitter a buffer re-tweet button appears next to the normal re-tweet button.

Buffer is also not without its downsides:

  • Buffer’s free account is severely limited in terms of how many items a user can queue. The ability to queue an unlimited amount of posts comes at a cost of $10 per month.
  • The free version of Buffer also limits the number of social profiles that can be managed from one account. Users are only permitted to manage one profile per social network using the free software.

 

Tweetdeck – Top for Twitter

If your digital marketing strategy is mainly focused on several Twitter accounts you would be better suited to Tweetdeck. This allows you not only to add as many accounts as you want, but it also has handy functions like the ability to make lists so you can follow specific hashtags or topics. Another useful feature is the ability to see messages and notifications alongside your tweets and news feed.

The downside to Tweetdeck is just that – it is only for Twitter. This is not much use if you have a range of different social media accounts you need to use.

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Tuesday, 16 August 2016

Mobile payments

Mobile payments

Find out about mobile payments

Mobile payments are becoming increasingly popular among businesses – and with good reason. Perhaps most surprisingly, increasing numbers of small-medium enterprises are utilising the technology at part of their digital strategy – proof positive that online marketing and mobile payments are helping smaller firms compete on an even keel without the need for large systems or complicated tech.

But how exactly can smaller businesses implement mobile payments as part of their wider digital marketing strategy? In this article, we’ll take a look at some of the main reasons to consider going mobile, and how your business can benefit.

Mobile payments often work out cheaper than credit cards

You might be surprised to learn that some mobile payment platforms actually charge less per transaction than large credit card companies. Credit card companies can charge anywhere between 5 and 10 per cent of the overall transaction (some more than others – this is why many do not accept certain types of card) in comparison to just 2.75 per cent from some mobile payment providers. By encouraging people to pay via mobile, you could end up saving hundreds or even thousands over the course of a year.

Mobile payments allow your customers to pay via credit card

Smaller businesses, such as mobile catering vans, popular at festivals at this time of year, have often struggled by not being able to justify paying to accept credit cards for such a low turnover. Think also about being at an exhibition or other event without your usual payment facilities.

However, this cash-only model is becoming antiquated as increasing numbers of people go digital or plastic. The ability to accept cards via mobile payments immediately increases both your customer base and potential for sales, and mobile payments are a cost-effective means of accepting payment from these customers.

 

Increased checkout speed

Speed is one of the largest factors in customer service. Put simply, paying is typically a customers’ least favourite part of the shopping experience, and if it takes a long time chances are they may be concerned that a payment isn’t going through – forcing them to go elsewhere. Mobile payments allow customers to pay quickly, without even having to reach for their wallet. Mobile payments essentially allow you to serve more customers per day.

 

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Thursday, 4 August 2016

The State of Digital - the SoDA report 2016


The SoDA Report is The Digital Society’s biannual publication of insights from both marketing clients and agencies.

The report is a mix of insights and stats, as well as in-depth essays and showcases from The Digital Society's members. The element that's of interest to marketers is the 'Modern Marketer'  as it is focused on new opportunities in digital, social and advertising technologies.

Key takeaways:
  • Marketers adopt innovation
  • Strategy moves back to centre-stage


The full report as a presentation is available here






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Tuesday, 2 August 2016

Banks, social media and digital marketing

20160710 Barclays Digital Eagles 5
Read how banks are using social media and digital marketing.

Banks are adopting social media and digital marketing. Banks have seen how social media has revolutionised the way people communicate with their friends and family, the digital marketing phenomenon has provided a new, exciting and instantaneous channel for customers and businesses to interact. Financial service providers, such as banks, are one of the sectors which has adopted digital and social media with marketing strategies supported by digitally focused communications teams.
Here are two case examples of banks using social media and digital marketing and some suggestions on how UK banks could better use social media and digital marketing.

Banks using social media and digital marketing – case example Barclays

A great example of a bank fully getting behind the digital communication revolution is the ‘digital eagles’ campaign from Barclays. The digital eagles team is helping both young and old learn more about all things technology – getting older people online and active, while helping young children learn how to code. Teaching a variety of generations how to interact online – including how to utilise Barclays’ online services and social media channels is based on a critical business strategy as Barclays has some of the oldest customers in the UK. A major challenge is trying to move digital immigrants towards adoption of online banking. Older customers can be more cautious, less knowledgeable and may not have the necessary technology.
20160710 Barclays Digital Eagles 1
Instead of asking customers to use their online banking app, Barclays brilliantly executed a knowledge campaign. Working on simpler aspects on operating online, such as ‘talk to the grandchildren via Skype’. Barclays Bank has now developed 3 core offers via 12,000 trained staff:
  • Build your internet skills
  • Learn about computers
  • Help your children learn to code

Each element is accessed in a different way as’ Build your internet skills’ is online and ‘Learn about computers’ is offline.
20160710 Barclays Digital Eagles 2

Banks using social media and digital marketing – case example Natwest

Natwest are another financial provider who are using digital marketing. They use social media as a key communication tool and have a large number of Twitter accounts.
20160710 NatWest twitter accounts

Through both their Twitter and Facebook accounts, Natwest answer questions, advertise financial promotions and publicise work in the community. Whilst having to remain mindful of the restrictions when promoting financial products such as mortgages, savings and insurance – such as fully disclosing the relevant APR and including a warning notice where relevant – social media provides a great avenue for reaching new and current customers.
However, it also provides an avenue for complaints from members of the public. This is typical on many corporate pages, especially as it’s often seen as a faster way to gain a response.
20160710 NatWest Facebook complaints 1

Challenges for banks using social media and digital marketing

Aside from complaints, another issue is the lack of consistency across social media platforms. There is no connection between Barclays Twitter and Facebook pages. Perhaps they are aimed at different audiences, but there is little indication that these pages are part of the same business. It may also be due to different teams working on these platforms.
Barclays Twitter page
Barclays Twitter page


Barclays Facebook page
Barclays Facebook page

Another issue is providing more platforms for unhappy customers to comment and criticise the campaigns.


20160710 Barclays Digital Eagles 8
Barclays Facebook page complaints



Online and public complaints can cause a reputation risk for the bank and damage their standing, both on and offline. However, most agree that utilising social media is the right thing to do in spite of this, as ensuring you are part of the conversation is much more important than leaving a vacuum – which leaves as much opportunity for negative comments, without the ability to respond.
It is clear to see from these two examples that there is potential for banks to make good use of social media and digital technology. While there are risks involved, the positives ensure that, if used properly, social media provides an effective communication tool.

How could UK banks use social media and digital marketing better?

Social media marketing provides a way to establish meaningful, useful connections with potential and existing customers and to create new brand images and communicate on a more personal level.
Here are five ways banks can use social media and digital marketing.

#1 UK banks could use social media and digital marketing for promoting products

With so many people online, comprising wide demographic groups, banks could aim their products at specific individuals. Using social media, they can target each person individually while taking advantage of the wealth of information on their profiles, creating a communication channel that is advantageous to both bank and customer.
For instance, a branch employee can search for new business owners through networking platform LinkedIn and advertise loans that suit the specifications on their company’s profile. The challenge is that the technology isn’t there yet that distinguishes between the customer who has applied for a loan and has been turned down and the customer who hasn’t yet applied.

#2 UK banks could use social media and digital marketing for Educating customers

Banking is complicated and there are often many product choices. Producing niche adverts on a range of products would be an expensive venture and may not be seen by the target audience. A range of YouTube videos is a better way to convey bite sized information aimed at specific audiences. Nat West is aware of this and has a well-developed YouTube channel.
If done effectively, using a social media platform can be a less expensive means of advertising. Consider the costs for seeding and spreading a video about online banking through YouTube to paying for a 30-second prime time slot on ITV1.

#3 UK banks could use social media and digital marketing for tactical advertising

At different times of year, there are different issues. When students start university they are bombarded with messages about ‘best banks for students’, ‘overdraft options’ and more. Social media advertising options are sophisticated enough to  promote ads directly into the news feeds of people aged 18 to 24 who follow a university’s Facebook page. Twitter offers paid hashtags at the top of national lists as many other advertising options. Facebook allows sponsored posts and sidebar posts and YouTube has a range of video adverts.
For more examples on social media ads see this post that shares examples of some great successes.

#4 UK banks could use social media and digital marketing to text customers before they go into the red

One of the biggest complaints on social media is where customers have gone overdrawn by a few pounds and this generates a fee and a subsequent unpaid or rejected bill. There must be simple technology to advise customers that a direct debit or other scheduled payment is about to push them into the red and this will take the account into an overdrawn state.

#5 UK banks could use social media and digital marketing to make online applications simpler

Natwest has been working on this and others need to follow. Remove unnecessary steps from applications and speed up the online approval processes. One of the big issues about switching banks is the time involved to establish an account. Connecting an account via a platform such as LinkedIn provides much of the data required to make commercial decisions.


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Tuesday, 26 July 2016

Marketing metrics for beginners

marketing metrics

Learn about key marketing metrics.

Marketing metrics is a growing area of marketing. With many analytical tools available, it is hard to see what really matters. This post talks about marketing metrics for beginners and explains some of the different metrics and the advantages and disadvantages.

 

Marketing metric #1 – Page views

Page views are often quoted as one of the most basic and crucial metrics to monitor when assessing the success of your campaign. You may be sharing a URL on your social channels, in email newsletters and elsewhere within your website, and in monitoring your page views you’ll be able to understand how successful you are in raising awareness of your campaign. However, simply because a page has lots of views doesn’t mean to say that your campaign is totally successful. So it’s popular with the directors, but does not mean you are gaining sales or winning customers.

  • Advantages – to test a campaign and see if you are getting visitors to a specific page
  • Disadvantages – it does not mean the campaign has worked, so it is a vanity metric

 

Marketing metric #2 – Bounce rate

Bounce rate refers to the rate at which users land on your web page before immediately leaving. A user is said to have ‘bounced’ when they stay for less than 3 seconds before clicking away from the page. This means that they’re unlikely to have consumed your content. You need to get people to spend time on your website if they’re to understand what it is you have to offer them.

Have you ever searched for something, clicked o a link to discover it was not what you were looking for? If the company data is shared with Google (likely if you’re using Google Analytics), then Google tracks that as an ‘erroneous page visit. In basic terms, the higher the bounce rate, the lower the quality score.

  • Advantages – Bounce rate is an indication of good and relevant content
  • Disadvantages – A high bounce rate may also occur as the visitor has gained what they needed (such as a phone number or a link to an external help page)

 

Marketing metric #3 – Conversions

Conversions are possibly the most important metric in marketing. Do be aware that conversions can be different events for different companies.

For e-commerce sites, conversions are usually sales, where items are added to the basket and the checkout takes place.

For B2B conversions could be users who

  • complete a contact form
  • or request a quote
  • download a document

Plus you may have unique conversions for each marketing campaign, for example if you’re driving for new email newsletter subscriptions, users will convert when they subscribe.

  • Advantages – It’s a clear metric that’s easy to understand and for B2B it’s a good idea to set ‘conversion goals’ so the team are clear about what a conversion means to them
  • Disadvantages – The cost of conversion needs to be considered. Read more about conversion costs here and be aware that conversion rate optimisation is a specialist field of marketing.

 

Marketing metric tools

Whilst there are range of tools available, the main tool tends to be Google Analytics. At a basic level it is free and provides more than enough information to monitor progress. Other tools include Clicky which, like Google, has a free version and the paid option starts at £10 per month.

Whatever tools are being used, the critical factor is to define what success looks like from the start. It’s easier to measure when you understand the issues!

 

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Tuesday, 19 July 2016

Social media disasters in the UK

Social media disasters

Social media disaster? Read about how to recover.

There are some good examples of effective social media advertising campaigns now it’s time to shine a light on how it can go wrong and more importantly, how to recover.

Weak practice in social media in the UK happened when where prominent companies left themselves open to criticism after their social media strategy went slightly wrong. They are examples from a few years’ ago so it’s easy to recommend ‘how to recover’.

Snickers social media ads using Twitter and questions about their teaser campaign

An advertising campaign for Snickers chocolate bars by parent company Mars some years ago led to an angry backlash from Twitter users. Stars such as former Manchester United footballer Rio Ferdinand and TV personality Katie Price tweeted comments that were out of character, such as Ferdinand’s claim that he was knitting a cardigan. These were followed by a photo of the star smiling, with the slogan, “You’re not you when you’re hungry,” while eating a Snickers bar. Angry Twitter users felt that the tweets didn’t make it clear they were advertising a company, and the advertising standards association intervened and set out their ruling but did not find Mars in breach of the standards.

How to recover from this social media disaster: Ensure adverts are more authentic! Be prepared for negative comments on ads and talk to the audience to explain the rationale.

 

NatWest – the helpful bank on Twitter

20160622 NatWest twitter help

NatWest Bank launched a Twitter feed in order to establish a direct, immediate point of contact for customers. However, after a major crash of their online banking system, leaving customers unable to access their account, no-one updated the NatWest Twitter. Their following increased by around 50% during the crisis, with angry customers voicing complaints, leading to the negativity going viral. Since then a third-party website has been established to notify users when the site has crashed.

How to recover from this social media disaster: An in-company Twitter wall or social listening programme would have identified the situation immediately. Adopt technology, listen to customers and have a plan in place for what to do in a crisis – ensure the PR team are fully integrated in all aspects of digital marketing.

 

Odeon Cinema cat napping over a holiday weekend

2012 Odean cinema negative on Twitter

Odeon Cinema didn’t respond quickly to a post by a dissatisfied customer on its Facebook wall. This led to negative feedback – about allegedly poor service and high prices – going viral. It received 292,000 likes and 24,000 comments. Odeon could have nipped it in the bud quickly by responding positively, rather than having a massive amount of negativity spread across social media. The challenge was that this occurred over a bank holiday.
How to recover from this social media disaster: Social listening software isn’t enough in this situation. The key is to ensure staff work on a rota system and cover messages 274/7 or at least at times when the service (such as cinema viewing) is available. If this isn’t possible, ensure the rules of engagement (when you’re available) are clearly displayed. Alternatively, adopt a traditional marketing method and provide a telephone number for people to call – this should be retained by the senior marketing person so they can respond as needed.

 

To avoid social media disasters, adopt some extra technology. If your budget doesn’t stretch to an enterprise wide system, there are many tools, some of which are free, to help monitor your social media. Read our article on 7 useful social media tools to learn what is right for your business.

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Tuesday, 12 July 2016

How to get around ad blockers

Targeting your audience to avoid ad blockers

 

Discover 4 ways to defeat ad blockers.

With the rise in the number of users planning to deploy ad blocking technology, legitimate advertisers will be keen to use all means at their disposal to navigate around the browsers and apps that can block valuable adverts. Rather than the nuclear option of blocking site access to people who use ad blockers, there are a range of options available to most businesses.

#1 Avoid ad blockers and use content marketing

The primary method to defeat the ad blockers will be to deploy content marketing and native advertising strategies to get products and adverts placed in prime positions on high-priority sites. A clear focus on digital strategy and the types of content will be required to support any extra cost, with a focus on key sites with synergistic content. With content marketing increasing in popularity, now is the perfect time to explore these options and see what can be done.

#2 Avoid ad blockers and get your ads white-listed

Of course, if your business has already engaged in a major or long-term advertising strategy, the simplest solution may be to pay to have your adverts white-listed by the advert blocking software to let them be seen as intended by users. This may be an unpalatable option, but may see any campaigns through to their end, when digital marketing practitioners can reconsider their options. Larger brands are already paying up, but a sliding scale is likely to be used to allow smaller advertisers access.

#3 Avoid ad blockers and make ads part of your social media strategy

Making adverts part of a social media strategy is one of the long-term ways to manage the rise in advert blockers. Companies with a sizeable or growing social media presence can intersperse their regular content with adverts, feeling free to explain that the rise of ad blockers has led to this change. Advertising is an expected part of social media sites, and users are less likely to be concerned about adverts, and more likely to click on links. Of course, this will only appeal to brand aware customers, requiring social media growth strategies to help boost awareness.

#4 Avoid ad blockers and stay ahead

One final tip is to ensure you keep informed about the latest moves in the ad blocking market. Advertising strategies will change, as effective methods are proven. Laws will be formulated in various territories, and more severe blocking products will arrive on the market to push the boundaries further. All of these must be considered by any advertisers planning ahead.

 

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