Sunday, 16 December 2012

Social Media and the End of the World

So if we were to believe the Mayan Calendar we have just days to live as 21st December 2012 is officially the end of the world! Nasa have released a youtube video letting us all know that there is no need to panic! The end of the world is not nigh according to their scientists.

But whether you buy into the hype or not one thing is for sure – We are going to see #Endoftheworld trending on Twitter and a whole host of Social Media buzz about it.  Here are my predictions for the last ever day on Social Media:

1.       #Everything MustGo 

Watch out for those end of the world bargains! For businesses it is a perfect opportunity to jump on the bang wagon and hold an ‘End of the World Sale’.  

2.       Milestone Reached
What a great milestone to add to your facebook page ‘I reached the end of the world’. I’m sure we will see this tongue in cheek post across facebook on Friday.

3.       Final #FF

So if Friday really was the end of the world it would literally be your last time to #ff – recommend who to Follow on Friday on Twitter, or for my followers my last #SocialMediaStars of the week. This Friday we’ll see people #ff-ing their nearest and dearest, or most respected colleagues. You’ve got a few days left to become end of the world #FF worthy.

4.       PInteresting Pics

Expect to see pinterest boards flooded with pictures of how the end of the world may happen and final thoughts. Search for ‘End of the World’ on there. It’s full of ideas already.

5.       Instagram End of the World

If it really were to be the end of the world how instagram would be flooded with natural disaster pictures! It will be interesting to see how many people upload fake instagrams on 21st Dec, or pay homage to the possible end of days.

Regardless of whether you are still here to read this on 22nd December or not, we have to be sure the End of the World is coming to Social Media updates.

Saturday, 8 December 2012

Need to Know #Hashtags

When exploring the world of Twitter you will soon become familiar with this little symbol - #.  This is a hash and is used on Twitter to create what is known as a #Hashtag. A hashtag is created when you put the hash symbol in front of any word. This then indexes that word on Twitter becoming a trend that people can search by to find commonly themed tweets. Each day on Twitter the most popular of these become 'trending topics'.

Why do you need to know this? Well firstly because joining in the conversation of popular trends is one good way to get noticed. Secondly using your own hashtags to highlight keywords within your tweets will help drive relevent followers to your Twitter page. Thirdly, knowing a few key common hashtags can help you not only build following, but possibly gather PR opportunities for your business.
Need to know #Hashtags

#SBS – A Weekly competition run by Dragon’s Den’s @TheoPaphitis.  Tweet @ him your business outline each Sunday evening between 5pm and 7pm. He chooses a handful of the best ones to retweet. #SBS winners get a certificate from the man himself and a great deal of Twitter kudos.

#WOW – Women on Wednesday is a competition run by @Jacqueline_Gold. Tweet at her what your women lead business is between 1pm and 3pm on Wednesdays using this hashtag to be in with a chance of winning a RT.

#FF – Follow on Friday – Every Friday Twitter users use this hashtag to recommend to their followers who they should be following this week. It’s a nice way to build rapport and give a mention to the deserving.

#JournoRequests – Journalists use this hashtag to draw attention to their tweets asking for people to be featured in their latest articles. For businesses this is great as you can keep an eye out for PR opportunities that fit in with your business and tweet a reply.

#DidYouKnow – This hashtags is followed by those who are interested in facts. See if you can incorporate it into factual tweets about your industry

#Socent – Are you a Social Enterprise? This Twitter hashtag links all things Social Enterprise, so use this in selective tweets to join the conversation

Thinking about hashtagging some keywords in your tweet to get it noticed? You can stop by and run a search on your hashtag to check its popularity and best times to use it. Similarly will help you identify hashtags trending today, regularly popular, all time top used tags and to check your proposed tags popularity. It will also help you to understand what a particular hashtag means if you spot an unfamiliar one that you want to check out.

Saturday, 5 May 2012

Social Media Time Saving Tips for SME's

For larger organisations, understanding the importance of Social Media for engaging with their customer has a simple response - employ a dedicated Social Media Officer! However, for small businesses such as sole traders where one person fits all roles, time saving is essential.

So how can you join in the conversation when you are already feeling time stretched, and where should you begin?

1. Social Media Traffic Lighting - This is a concept I have been drumming into the vast majority of my clients of late. The World of social media can seem overwhelming, so it is important to drill down to where you have a presence, what you do on there are why rather than rashly signing up to every site going and leaving them lacklustre.  Taking a step back to research and consider where your customers are hanging out online and and what strategy you can employ to reach them is essential. When you have given yourself this head space you will be able to consider which social media site is:

GREEN - the one where your customers hang out most, and makes most sense to your marketing strategy.  Green = Go! This is the site you should start with. Commit some time to updating it regularly, and read around how other businesses are using this channel for marketing.
AMBER - these are the social media tools that could add value to your marketing, but should be considered as your business progresses and you find you have some extra time to commit.
RED - Avoid these at start up stage. These may be sites you could justify to yourself using as marketing tools, but they are not an immediate priority. Ditch them for now and put them in your business plan under 'growth strategy'.

2. Automate Activity - If you can't be online daily, don't let your social media channels die a death just as you have got them going.  Use a tool like Tweetdeck, or my personal favourite hootsuite. With these tools you can log in when you get chance and schedule messages to go out through your social media channels at a selected time and date. You can also link your social media activity together using tools like Networked blogs, or the Twitter and Facebook apps on the respective sites. A small warning here though - it's important to not automate ALL of your activity. It's called 'social' media for a reason, so make sure you commit at least some time to live interaction.

3. Finding Content at Your Fingertips - Google Alerts is absolutely your best friend for narrowing down hours of thinking through "what on earth can I post about".  Set up Google alerts for key words and phrases around your industry to receive daily, weekly, or 'as it happens' updates showing new web content on the topic.  Then follow these links to use them as posts you can comment on via your social media channels. Simples!

Whatever you decide to do to save time, don't go for the "I'll just leave it altogether" option. If your business hasn't got a social media strategy it is getting left behind - fact! Every business needs marketing, so think of it as swapping the time you would have spent on another part of offline marketing rather than an extra chore.  And if it all becomes too much, consider using the services of a freelancer until you grow big enough to have dedicated marketing staff.

For more support with building a strategy for your social media marketing get in touch via

Tuesday, 13 March 2012

Social Media Marketing and Woman's Hour

Yesterday I had the pleasure of looking after Jane Garvey and the team of BBC Radio 4's Woman's Hour during their on location broadcast from 54 St James Street in Liverpool, home of The Women's Organisation.

The show was themed around female entrepreneurship with a panel including young entrepreneur Sharmadean Reid of WAH Nails, Dawn Gibbins 'secret millionaire' of Flowcrete fame, level headed Sophie Cornish of and Chief Operating Officer of ASDA Judith McKenna.

Following the live broadcast I was lucky enough to have chance to pitch a question at the panel. I asked "I know small businesses can be scared of social media, but do you think it is important for businesses to embrace it?".

Sharmadean Reid of WAH nails explained that she had been ahead of the game when marketing her business, starting with a blog back in 2006. She said "I wouldn't have a business without social media".

Judith McKenna added "It's the number one way to get customer feedback". She was followed by Sophie Cornish who commented "Social media is worth doing and I would say ignore it at your peril". Sophie added "what I would say is don't spend TOO much time on it".

Dawn Gibbons admitted she was quite new to Twitter, but that she had successfully managed to link her facebook and Twitter accounts up, much to the irritation of her children.

If you would like advice around social media strategy for your business, contact me on or tweet me as @marketing_jo

Friday, 24 February 2012

What am I Tweeting About? - Twitter Tips

I often meet businesses at the point where they have dipped their toe into the Twitter pool, but still don't quite get what the fuss is about. So if you are at that point where you have braved setting up an account, but are daunted by what to tweet - here are some quick tips to get you started.

Twitter Don'ts

  • Don't forget Twitter is a public forum - Unless you have 'protected tweets' (which as a business why would you - surely the objective is helping people find you) don't forget that anyone who has internet access can see what you are Tweeting. So think carefully about what is appropriate for public viewing
  • Don't get too personal - One of the biggest complaints about social media is posts about what people are eating. "Just having a slice of toast and orange" - who cares? The personal touch can be appealing, but only if it's relevant. "We just got a mention in such and such a publication" is a better example of personal meets appropriate.
  • Don't leave it too long - If you send out an interesting tweet and then wait a month before the next one, potential followers looking at your profile will see a follow as a pointless endeavour. Time commitment can be an issue, so why not set up an account on Tweetdeck or Hootsuite where you can plan your tweets in advance and time them to go out throughout the week.
  • Don't be afraid! - The best way to learn is have a go. Once you get a flow going you will soon pick up on what tweets have gathered you the most response.

Twitter Do's

  • Do be interesting! - Give potential followers other reasons to follow you than keeping up with your sales patter. Why not set up Google Alerts for news and blogs around your industry to keep your finger on the pulse. This makes for some interesting tweets to web articles your clients might want to hear about.
  • Do keep it short and simple - Twitter only allows 140 characters per tweet, so think carefully about keywords you use in that space, and add a weblink to more information if needed.
  • Do Follow - Find the masters in your industry and follow them. They may produce tweets you can retweet. I often use the example 'If you are a fashion business, why not follow Vogue and every designer you can think of'.
  • Do Tweet @ - Finding people you would love to have as a follower, seeing what they are talking about and tweeting a reply can help you get noticed.
  • Do link it all together - If you also have a blog, facebook page etc. then use applications that will help send tweets out through twitter automatically as you update those sites. Save time and spread your content far and wide. NetworkedBlogs is a great app for this, and using the Twitter app on Facebook can easily help you link your facebook activity to your Twitter feed.
  • Do be relevant - It's ok to use Twitter as a way to tell customers about your special offers, up coming events and new products. Just try and spread that out with other content too. Keeping an eye on Twitter trending topics is one way to find an angle. Using the hashtag # in front of key words highlights when you have joined the conversation. An example of joining in but keeping it relevant would be this - A few weeks back there was an own goal scored in a high profile football match. The own goal scoring footballer's name became a trending topic on Twitter. A holistic therapy business asked me how they could possibly join in that conversation without being too spammy about it. My suggestion was "We are really thinking #Footballer could do with one of our relaxing aromatherapy treatments today - link to own webpage advertising this treatment". Simple!
  • Do Tweetpic - Pictures of products, places that you are visiting for business purposes, your newest marketing materials, people at your latest event all add interest to your Twitter feed. There is a tiny camera icon under the box where you type your tweet to click on to upload a picture from your computer. If you are stuck follow this link.

For further reading check out this great Twitter guide book from the masters Mashable or visit the Twitter Help Center. Or for more advice on using Twitter effectively for your business contact Jo Austin Marketing via

Friday, 3 February 2012

Don't Forget Your Customer - Marketing Mistakes

So many times when I have spoken to businesses about their marketing plan they go straight to what I think of as the result not the cause.

"I'm going to print 500 leaflets and put them in local libraries and through doors" - great, but if your customer doesn't live in that area, doesn't go to the library, and would never pick up a leafet then it is a pointless expense.

The catalyst for every great marketing idea comes from knowing your customer inside and out.  So whether you are in the start-up phase of your business or revisiting your marketing strategy it's always important to ask yourself some key questions that start with 'Who is my customer?'.

You should consider:
  • What is their gender?
  • How old are they?
  • What do they do?
  • What are they interested in?
  • Where do they socialise?
  • What are their spending habits?
  • Do they use the internet?
Conducting market research focussed on finding answers to these may take you time, but can save you wasted marketing budget.  Once you know more about your customer you can work out how, when and where to communicate your message to them and inevitably make sales.

Further reading can be found via Business Link article 'Know Your Customer's Needs'.