3 Simple Ways to Keep up-to-date with Social Media Changes

3 Simple Ways to Keep up-to-date with Social Media Changes

A statement I often hear is, ‘you can keep ahead of things because you live in this industry’. In many ways this is true. Things are changing so quickly and I have a great team around me who often pick up the latest changes way before me. However, there are a few quick tips I can give to help you stay ahead of the curve and learn about what’s new in the world of digital marketing.

1). Use Google Alerts: You may be using these already for your company name/competitors but its also great for keeping an eye on when changes happen in the industry. For example setting up a google alert for the term ‘LinkedIn Updates’ will then email you each time there is a mention of this term online. You can then decide whether you check it out or not.

You can setup alerts here: http://www.google.com/alerts

2). Blogs: The big tech blogs often break info on updates before others. Here are a couple of good ones (you can subscribe to them by RSS meaning you receive the info in your inbox the minute they update their sites – Guide to doing so can be found here)

http://techcrunch.com/tag/linkedin/ (links to the ‘LinkedIn tag’ within Techcrunch)

http://mashable.com/category/linkedin/ (Links to the LinkedIn Category within Mashable)

3). Social Dashboards: If you really want to take it to the next level then you could consider using social dashboards to track pretty much everything – here are a couple of good free ones.

http://www.netvibes.com/

http://topsy.com/s?q=linkedin+updates

So there you have it, a few easy ways of keeping uptodate with the latest changes in the industry. Please feel free to add more and make this a really useful resource for people.

Photo Courtesy of: http://www.flickr.com/photos/jasonahowie/

5 things you might like to consider when starting a website

5 things you might like to consider when starting a website

1). Firstly a website is just the start of your online presence. So many people rock up to a project thinking about their budget in terms of the capital outlay on their website. They often don’t consider the marketing and comms resource they’re going to need to put into getting it off the ground. The website you create for your business/service/product should really be the start of your online journey so make sure you’re ready to budget just as much (and probably a lot more) on what happens next.

2). Is Google important to you? Goole drives around 90% of all UK web searches. In industry terms that’s a ‘bucket load’ and can’t really be ignored. If you want your website to show up in search then there are a number of things you need to consider and to be perfectly honest although there are a number of things you can play with yourself (I wrote about this topic a while ago here), it’s probably an area that you want to talk to an agency that specialise in if these results are critical to your success.

3). Where does Social Media play a role? Unless you’ve been blanketed from the world for the last few years you can’t help but notice that we live in a far more connected world than we used to. Our lives are being dominated by the large social networks – the likes of Facebook, Twitter, LinkedIn and Pinterest seek our attention and allow us to feel more connected than ever before. As a business you need to consider your audience profile and then work out where they hang out. If Facebook’s not right for your business then don’t worry about it – spend your time wisely, you don’t have much of it.

4). Get clever. In the world of email marketing we have these things called auto responders. They are essentially automated emails, triggered on an event. When you create a website consider bringing these into play (most web agencies won’t recommend these unless you ask by the way). Set them up for when people fill out your contact form, signup to your newsletter or download your latest whitepaper. Oh really? You don’t have a whitepaper?

5). Create compelling content. If you want to be found/shared/loved/evangelised/bought from you need to be better than the rest and one way to start this process is by creating compelling content. Things like whitepapers, ebooks, blog articles, infographics, videos all help to get you out there. Your mission however is to try and create things others aren’t. By the way, a by-product of this point is also more success with point 2.

The guys over at Optix Solutions (a digital marketing agency I co-founded) are mustard at the web projects – give them a call if you want any advice on 01392 667766. If you’re after email marketing help connect with @olyharisson on twitter who heads up OptixMail – he’s the master.

Now Your Thoughts

  • What essentials do you think you need to take into a web project?
  • Have you got a few tricks in your locker you’d like to share with us?

Photo courtesy of: http://www.flickr.com/photos/striatic/

 

 

 

Using Social Media to Enhance Employability

I’m really excited as tomorrow I’m going to be spending the morning with students at Exeter University, talking about Social Media and how it can help their job prospects. We all know its a tough world out there right now and getting a job is a lot harder than when I left the same University, 12 years ago.

I’m excited because when I was there, I didn’t have any of the tools available to these guys to help my search for work. Those who want to give themselves a head start in life really do have a fantastic opportunity to do so.

So here are my top tips to any student looking to use Social Media to enhance their employability potential.

1). Without wanting to start on a negative note, the first place to start is understanding privacy settings and what employers these days use the web for – Googling your name. Have you Googled your name (that’s mine by the way) to see what turns up? Have you checked to see what information people can turn up on you on Facebook without being logged in, or through a profile that is not friends with yours? If not, I suggest you do, because rightly or wrongly prospective employers will be doing so.

2). Right lets get positive now. If I could give one piece of advice to a prospective employee it would be to start blogging. How many CV’s do you think every job you go for is going to attract? How many of them link to a blog which shows off their knowledge, thoughts & personality? Not many I bet you. So here’s your number 1 chance to stand out. With tools like WordPress so easy to use (and free), you can start a blog today, while you’re at Uni and demonstrate to future employers 1000 times more about you, than you can on your CV.

3). Start listening & learning. Use tools like Twitter to start searches for people tweeting in the area you’re looking to get work. Build up a picture of who is about and begin to engage with them. Getting to know a prospective employer before you’ve even applied for a job could just give you the edge you need when it comes to interview time.

4). More Learning. Really?!? Yup ‘fraid so. The workplace is very different to Uni life. Find industry experts and influencers in your field of choice and follow them on sites like Twitter. Learn from them, create your own posts about the things they say on your newly formed blog. Find the thought leaders out there and start to build up real world knowledge of what business is really going to be like.

As an aside, if you’re into Business & Marketing here are a few great people/companies to start with:

Chris Brogan
, Seth Godin
, UnMarketing
Mashable & Econsultancy

5). Make LinkedIn your corporate network. In the business world many of us use LinkedIn as our corporate network. We keep personal stuff to Facebook so that’s not much use to connect with us on. Twitter is more difficult to build close connections on quickly, it takes time. Start to add people you meet at job fairs/events/shows/out networking and build your numbers. Know people in the local business community (family/friends etc)? Add them too. Numbers lead to leverage in LinkedIn and as you take your profile wherever you go in your working life, you should start to see this as one of your most valuable assets.

6). Be Proactive – When I’m looking to recruit, I want someone that stands out. I want someone that makes the effort to go the extra mile. I want someone that doesn’t just send me in a CV and hope for the best. Recruitment is expensive for us company owners. You can not only save us money but show you’re different by finding me on LinkedIn and sending me your details. Ensure to tell me not just about your skill set, but why you want to work for me, what you can bring to my company and why you’re different. You’ll be ahead of 95% of other candidates already and if you’ve done everything else I’ve said above I may not even bother seeing anyone else!

Guys, if I were looking for a job now I’d be really enthused by all the ways I can make myself stand out. The question is….are you?

Now Your Thoughts

  • Have you got any more tips for the stars of the future?

How to be found in Google

How to be found in Google

When you type your name into Google what comes up?

Are you the 1st result? Are you 2nd? Please tell me you’re on the first page right? No? Really?

When I go for a meeting with anyone, when I listen to someone speak, the first thing I do is Google their name and if they don’t appear at least once on the first page that’s a report card on them I’m afraid. If your job is such that you need to keep out of the public eye then I’d understand but for those of you trying to build businesses and get yourself out there you’re going to need to get yourself out there. Let’s look at a few ways you can do this today.

1). Get yourself a blog. Don’t just add it to a free wordpress or blogger hosting account. Shell out a few pennies and have it hosted properly on its own domain. Consider buying a domain with your own name if it’s still available. If it’s not, then write a great biography page with your name mentioned in it.

2). Get active on Twitter and LinkedIn. These two sites are huge and very well respected by the likes of Google. When you signup try and choose a name which is something to do with you if possible. If not then make sure you at least give the network your full name where it asks for it. Create a biography page/section that describes you, your location (because people will use that to search too) and your interests if possible. Now get active on these channels. Engage with people on Twitter, link people to things of interest that you find and connect with people on LinkedIn – be proactive, don’t just wait to accept peoples invites and wonder what to do then.

3). Get listed on your company website – Does your company site have a team page you can be added to? Does it have a blog you could write for? Ask the powers that be how you can be featured more online and if you are the powers that be, make this happen :)

4). Write for your local paper or at least get them to write about you! Local papers are also well respected in search engines due to the amount of fresh content they are churning out and size of their sites. A few stories every now and again could see you getting listed in Google more often. If your story is good enough the paper will want it. If you don’t ask, you don’t get after all!

So there you have it, a few ways to start improving your ‘googleability’ (not sure if I just made that up or not). If you’re looking for the edge over your competitors this point should really be up near the top of your to do list.

Image courtesy of Molly Stevens

Now Your Thoughts

  • Have you got any other suggestions for helping get listed in Google?
  • Have you used the search engine giant to do research yourself?

8 Simple Steps to Email Marketing Loveliness

8 Simple Steps to Email Marketing Loveliness

Some of you might be wondering why I’m writing about email marketing today – it’s old hat isn’t it? With all this new social media buzz, there is surely no place in the world for email marketing is there? Well I believe there is and I intend to tell you why and how you can use it to grow your client base today.

Let’s settle one thing quickly – if you’re reading this, thinking about buying a database from someone on a street corner (or even  a more reputable source) then this article probably isn’t for you. I’m focusing today on using your own valuable data, built up over years possibly.

I want to start with a story. About a year ago a guy approached Optix having met me 6 years ago at a networking event. I’d agreed with him to receive the Optix newsletter and we both went our separate ways. Optix kept in touch with him by way of our monthly newsletter and recently he became one of our largest clients. He’d watched the business grow and liked what he’d seen.

Here are a few sure fire ways to use email marketing to help your business grow:

1). All about the data – A good email marketing campaign revolves around good data. Make sure yours is clean or you’ll just be throwing money away.

2). Build your data – what can you give away to build a database of leads/contacts/prospects? This year we launched our free social media policy generator: http://www.optixsolutions.co.uk/free-social-media-policy-generator/ – A tool of real value which also helps us build leads – true ‘Inbound Marketing’.

3). Split Test your email subject lines – A good email marketing system will split test campaigns for you. It will take 50% of your database and send two different subject lines, content variants or from names and then track the most successful delivery rate, then send the winner to the other 50% – using this will give you better open and click through rates.

4). Spam & Client Testing – Emails show up differently in different email clients. Now email is consumed more and more on mobile devices you need to make sure your email is designed and developed for all these variants. This again is something a good system should be able to do for you. If not, make sure you ask your designers to consider this.

5). Deal with bounces – If an email bounces (doesn’t reach its destination) it can be for a couple of reasons. A soft bounce may infer a problem with the routing of an email to someones email box/server and is likely to be ok next time round. A hard bounce means that email doesn’t exist any longer and should be cleaned from the database – no point spending money on people that won’t ever answer!

6). Use Autoresponders – When you signup to something on a site have you ever received an email a few days later which follows it up…and then again a week or so after that? You’re part of an autoresponder system. Clever marketers know that it takes a few ‘touches’ to get to a sale but tracking and sending emails to everyone that signs up with your site manually would be far too inefficient to deal with so autoresponders help to do this for you. Used cleverly, these are extremely powerful tools

7). Segment your data – If you’re blasting everyone in your database in one go you’re probably not getting the most from it. Segment your data into interests/purchases made if you’re running an ecommerce shop or even simple things like male/female if this makes a difference to your customer. For example, I’m not hugely interested in the latest dresses from Reiss (a favourite shop of mine) but they don’t send me that because I’m segmented in their database.

8). Tie into your Social Profiles – If you have a fantastic Facebook page and a tremendous Twitter presence then make the most of them. Ask people to sign up for your updates – if you don’t ask you don’t get after all. Don’t bombard them but a few calls to action every now and again is fine.

It’s time to get clever with your email marketing – it’s still one of the most powerful tools in the online marketing toolbox.

Oh and if you’re looking for a provider, we have our own that you can find out more about over at http://www.envirosend.co.uk

Image courtesy Ramberg Media Images

Now Your Thoughts

  • What’s worked or not worked for you when you’ve marketed by email?
  • Got any tips for the other readers?

How to make your website a lead generating machine – 3 easy steps

How to make your website a lead generating machine – 3 easy steps

How are you generating leads for your business? Is it hard work? Lots of networking and meetings right? Would you rather be ‘found‘ by potential customers? Well that’s where the practice of inbound marketing can be very useful. Hubspot in the US were the company to coin this term and their website is a perfect example of how to practice lead generation. In fact, they now get over 27k leads a month because they are so successful at this. Guess what, it’s not that hard to do in your business – In this article I’m going to teach you how.

At Optix, we practice Inbound Marketing but on a much smaller scale. I’m going to take you through a recent example which I hope will get you thinking about your own business and how you could do something similar.

We’ve been writing social media policies for clients for some time now. We decided to release a free ‘cut-down’ version of a policy which anyone can download and use. All we ask is that the user gives us their name, company name and email address. We also ask a couple of basic questions about the companies use of Social Media. The website then builds the policy on the fly and emails it to the user. Within the first month of this going live two amazing things had happened:

Over 50 companies downloaded the policy and gave us their details – all leads for my sales team.

We started to appear within the first 5 results of Google (They are very good at finding useful sites) for some really key terms like:

So how can you do this in your business? Here are three easy steps:

1). Consider what you can give away of value online. Can you create an ebook or a whitepaper or could you even do what we did and create a tool of value? Try and think ‘out of the box’ – don’t talk about yourself or your product directly, think about something of real use to your potential customers.

2). Put this on your website on a ‘landing page’ dedicated to that content and ask the user for some basic details in return for access to this valuable content – ideally if you can, blog about it and spread it using social media platforms like twitter, facebook and linkedIn.

3). Work out a ‘multi-touch’ (different ways of talking to the prospect – i.e email, phone, meeting – I’ll credit Scott Gould and Kristen Sousa for that one :)) plan for keeping in contact with the users who download it. Consider auto-responders if you don’t have much resource in terms of sales teams.

So there you have it, consider what you can create today and start to create compelling landing pages for capturing the details.

Now Your Thoughts

  • Can you share examples of where you’ve seen other companies do this. We can all do with inspiration :)
  • Have you dabbled with this type of marketing before? Let’s hear your thoughts.

Like Minds & The Social Media Survey 2010

Like Minds & The Social Media Survey 2010

So last week was the Like Minds conference in Exeter, Devon, a bringing together of Like Minded individuals from all over the globe – The topic – Creativity and Curation.

My Online Marketing Agency, Optix Solutions was proud to sponsor the event for the 3rd time running, making us one of the companies to be there in support from the beginning. We also used the platform to launch the results of the Social Media survey we ran earlier in the year. A glossy 26 page booklet with the findings as well as contributions from some of the world’s leading social media minds was presented. More information on the survey and details of how to request a copy can be found here: http://www.optixsolutions.co.uk/social-media-survey-2010/

It contains insights from the likes of Scott Gould, Trey Pennington, Olivier Blanchard, Julian Summerhayes and a foreword was kindly written by Chris Brogan.

Anyway, here are my take-aways and observations from the fantastic two day conference

1). Exeter is a special place and everyone that came to visit it loved it.

2). Despite Like Minds’ move away from social media to other things, it remains in my mind, a social media conference and when the speakers take on social topics, the audience lights up. I hope the team take this on board for future events.

3). Steve Moore of the Big Society can write a well crafted speech in front of a couple of hundred people in less than an hour, just before he goes on stage – he is also extremely funny and tells amazing stories.

4). The new immersive format in the mornings rocked – I got most of the value from these sessions this year.

5). Did I mention that Optix Solutions released the results of the Social Media Survey 2010 :)

6). Benjamin Ellis is one clever guy and if you want to talk Psychology then he’s your man. Thanks Benjamin

7). Joanne Jacobs predicted in her immersive that by 2012 the web will be viewed by mobiles more than desktop computers, so companies better get their websites mobile friendly. She also said that we’ll see a shift of users to people that currently don’t really use the internet at work (like handymen) – the Internet on their mobiles will become very important for their work

8). Was great to see Jon Akwue back again and even more fantastic that he read the Jeffrey Gitomer book I gave him last time recently and enjoyed it :)

9). Wikis are a great way of sharing social strategy with staff internally, allowing everyone to collaborate and understand what the company is trying to achieve

10). Cofacio is a new Help Engine which is very cool – You can offer help and ask for help and earn points which are used to help good causes. You should signup now

11). Shaa Wasmund has done a lot with her life and not let anything get in her way. She rightly points out that if you don’t try you’ll never know what could be. She’s also incredibly positive – a massive plus in my book

12). James Whatley talked about gaining success in Social Media (and other places) by ‘Displacing the market’ – I.e. trying to do something different to the norm. I love this and will use it often – thanks James :)

12). Robin Wight is a fashion icon (and very clever guy) and I want his shoes!

If you’ve not had the chance to be a part of a Like Minds Conference until now then I wholeheartedly recommend you do your best to get to the next one – you won’t regret it.

Now Your Thoughts

  • What were your highlights – I know the organisers read this blog so it’s a great place to share
  • Have you read the survey – what are your thoughts on the results?

How Influential Are You?

How Influential Are You?

I’m writing today about a project that the Fast Company is running called the Influence project.

The concept of the project is to find the most influential people online. They measure this by giving each person taking part a unique link and asking them to promote it as much as possible. A click on that link is effectively a vote for you. My link is http://fcinf.com/v/c576, it would be awesome if you could click it and support me. You should signup yourself and take part, what have you got to lose? :)

My interest in the project is seeing how social media can, influence, your influence and how we can pull together in tribes to support each other. Go back a few years and think how hard it was to convince others to support you? An email, possibly a link on your website is about as far as you could go. Lets face it, you couldn’t really tell people about a project and hope that they’d remember a link :) Now we have social media platforms and we are busy building relationships on them but how strong are these connections? Are these people willing to support you or are they meaningless numbers, there to flatter our egos? This project allows us to find out.  So here are a few ways that I’ve asked people to help me:

  • I’ve sent the message out on twitter
  • I’ve added it to my facebook
  • I’ve added it to my LinkedIn
  • I’ve commented on other peoples blogs and helped them
  • I’ve just written this blog post to help raise awareness of the project :)

There is a discussion about the project going on over at the Social Media Devon group in LinkedIn so if you’re interested in finding out more then that’s a great place to start. I first found out about the project via a local friend of mine, James Barisic who has written about the project on his blog – socialholic. You can vote for James by the way on this link: http://bit.ly/blzQpw

The Purpose of this Post

Social Media is fantastic for building relationships but people get carried away by the numbers – the number of followers, the number of fans, the number of connections. In my opinion it’s all irrelevant because we’re looking for meaningful relationships, the type that rally around you when you need them, the type that answer your questions when you have them and the type that pass your name onto others when they think you can be of help – this is the true value of social media.

When you’re building your networks, my advice is to build meaningful connections, don’t just follow everyone, don’t get caught up with tools that allow you to build your numbers unnaturally. Concentrate your efforts on engaging with other influencers in your industry, find local people to share experiences with and stick with it. Social media is not an event, it’s a process. It doesn’t happen overnight.

Why not signup for the influence project yourself and see how you get on and if you like my blog and tweets it would be awesome if you could take 10 seconds to vote for me by clicking the following link. :)

http://fcinf.com/v/c576

What’s your take on building numbers on social networks? What makes a person influential in your eyes?

If I were a solicitor…

If I were a solicitor…

A week or two ago I tweeted the following, “If you were a solicitor, what would you use Twitter for”. I did this because I was visiting a solicitors that day and wanted to show both the power of crowd sourcing but also what other people’s ideas were. I was pretty overwhelmed by the response to be honest, receiving over 25 replies before I’d even got to my meeting.

So this got me thinking, why not start a new blog series called “If I were a…” The idea is that every month or so I’ll crowd source a blog post on a different industry and credit everyone that takes the time to write back and participate. :)

So any solicitors out there listening, here are a few of the tips from the twitter community for you:

0neLife – Trust, authenticity and finding a voice

lukus1984 – To gain social insight & perspective on particularly tough moral issues, especially surrounding current affairs. The peoples voice!

jaimesteele – Use LinkedIn to build relationships – Complete profile 100%, add applications esp slideshare, add as many connections as possible

in_house_lawyer - I’m a solicitor and use twitter! Here’s why: http://bit.ly/azuFPa

Partridgewilson – No hard sell. Be interesting & informal but professional. Try to engage with followers as you would in any other social setting.

sarknight – To update re changes in legislation and to connect with local businesses in a different way to other firms

Nick_Edin – Networking, giving advice, sharing information, mentoring stars of tomorrow, business development and reputation.

RalliSolicitors – Good Morning. Where would you like us to start? (I was impressed with these guys listening out :))

Joel_Hughes – Help project credibility in target services, build relationships with key prospects

Innovateip – Not a solicitor but a Trade Mark Attorney, use twitter for 50% social/50% business with hints and tips about protecting IP

MattYoungMedia – I think Twitter would give a solicitor the chance to show their human side…

steelcitym – A solicitor should be an “informer”. They have to read daily to keep up to speed. Blog, write & post before others do it first!

So there you have it, a selection of the best tweets I had back from the community and some good solid advice.

So if I were a solicitor what would I do (and I do have the benefit of more than 140 characters of course) :)

  • Create an account under my name – using a full name
  • Create a detailed bio
  • Link back to my firms website or my personal blog if I had one
  • Setup tools allowing me to monitor for terms surrounding my area of law and location
  • Engage with the people those tools find
  • Pay special attention to the ‘Influencers’ in my game – It didn’t take me long to find that one of the most active solicitors in the UK on SM is @brianinkster – I’d watch and learn from people like Brian
  • I’d engage where possible – always looking to build credibility and authority
  • I’d add value by linking to articles of interest that I find about my area of law
  • I’d look for local news and help push that out to my network
  • I’d find my clients and current contacts that use the networks and make sure we are connected and engaging online
  • I’d follow useful resource sites like http://twitter.com/legal_week
  • I’d Retweet articles and sites of interest to my followers

Most importantly I’d try and give value where possible and project my personality in order that when someone needs my services I’ll be in with a shout of that contact or having my name passed on.

If you were a solicitor what would you do? Maybe you are a solicitor and want to let us into your strategy for social media?

How to change a habit…The #21days Challenge

How to change a habit…The #21days Challenge

It’s that old saying that comes to mind…if you always do what you’ve always done, you’ll always get what you’ve always got… yet we find it so difficult to break the habits we’ve become accustomed to and still we believe that tomorrow might just hold something different – why is this? Are we all stark raving mad? :)

Whether it be your business or your home life, I know you’ll have been wanting to make changes (probably for years). You’ll have thought about it time and time again but probably never got round to it. Let me guess; you’ll start tomorrow or perhaps New Year would be a good time or you’re going to start when someone else starts with you? Sound familiar? Before I go any further – I’m no different and this is the reason for this post!

A week or two ago Robert Pickstone (whom I know through Twitter) wrote an excellent post on his blog about the #21days challenge and created the hashtag for people to follow. He had read the book by Jack Russell , a Devon based motivational speaker, ‘Don’t tell the bumble bee’ (affiliate link) in which Jack explains that to successfully break a habit or make a change, a consistent period of 21 days of change is needed. Robert decided through social media, to pull people together and see how many he could get to take the challenge.  He now has a good 50+ people committing to start the #21days challenge from this Monday (28th June) and I will be one of them.

I met Jack Russell about 7 or 8 years ago and he inspired me too.  I’d not heard much about him in the last 5 years (he travels the world so it’s not surprising really) until I saw Robert’s post. I was genuinely excited. I commented back and started to help spread the message to my followers on Twitter.

I’m an open an honest person and am more than happy to share my challenge. I’m planning a two-parter which ties into both business and home life. I plan to address the work life balance first by changing my (somewhat ridiculous) working hours to make sure I’m in earlier in the morning and leaving no later than 6:30pm. I work late most nights which is not particularly healthy for anyone. With these new working hours I intend to change the first part of my day (the first hour before anyone else gets into work) into ‘marketing time’ – I will concentrate purely on the marketing of my business. I will not open up email or tweetdeck – it will be pure marketing time….let’s see how it goes. I’m quite excited!

Just before I submitted this post, I thought I’d give Jack a quick call to let him know what was going on and luckily I managed to get him on the phone. He’s about to go off for a couple of weeks running courses but was absolutely thrilled to hear about this challenge. He wished everyone taking part the very best of luck and hoped to be able to drop into Rob’s blog post to say hi to everyone when he was back. :)

So are you up for changing anything? If you are why not join us on the hashtag #21days. Get yourself over to Rob’s blog and tell everyone what your plan is, I hope to see you all there and good luck :)