Category Archives: Social Media Chatter

As a Marketing and Advertising graduate, that has worked in a ‘client-side’ marketing environment since 2007, I’ve watched how digital marketing has grown and progressed (and continues to do so). I have a passion for good social, content and digital marketing and this is where I chose to share it.

The True Value of Social Media

One of the most common problems I find as a social mediator is reassuring the client that there is true value in what they’re doing when it comes to their social media activities and content marketing strategy. For many SME’s there is a realisation that they should be active on social media, but the understanding of why, (what and how) is often limited.

For many companies, particularly B2B (but not limited to) the need to see a direct monetary ROI or at the very least a stack of new business contacts or leads is often their first mistake when devising their social media strategy.

Let me reassure you that in many instances social media platforms, particularly LinkedIn can and do assist in new business contacts and/or leads, and furthermore can and are being used more and more to sell a product or service directly to the end consumer BUT essentially that’s what you have a (probably fairly expensive!) website for, and social media should be one of the key players in driving traffic to said website.

If you, or perhaps your boss is questioning why you are spending time and/or money on social media when you’re not seeing ‘ direct results’, let me give you 10 reasons why continuing on the social media path is more than likely the right thing for you:

  • Become an Expert in Your Field: Whilst you may already consider your company of ‘expert’ status, and you may have accreditations that prove you are, that’s really no use to you unless your customer knows it. The beauty of social media is that across a variety of platforms you can create a dialogue with your customer, you can share expert videos on YouTube, tweet and share photos, and blog articles that cement you as an expert in your field, get it right and these will be shared time and time again, taking your level of expertise across the web and to potentially new customers that beforehand you’d have never had the opportunity to communicate with.
  • Profiles in Google Rankings: Whilst you may not have got your website on to the first page of Google yet, many companies often find that their social media profiles or content within it, be it Facebook, Twitter, Google+ or any of the others, often have made it to the first page, and often quite close to the top this is particularly important for B2B companies to consider. – take Green Umbrella for example, when typing in Social Media for Business in to Google, content shared on the Google+ platform ranks very highly – content really is king!
  • Creating a brand/personality: Before social media, companies had to spend thousands, if not millions per year to create their brand and brand personality on expensive mediums such as television, radio, onpage/press advertising, but now at just a fraction of the cost, you can utilise social media platforms to do just this.
  • Compete with the big boys: Prior to social media, many SME’s and micro businesses stood absolutely no chance of competing with the big players in their industry due to budget constraints, but social media has closed this gap quite considerably. Social media done well has just as much potential to go viral for the ‘one man band’ as it does for the big corporate giants!
  • Web traffic: If nothing else, this has to sell social media activity to you and/or your boss – who wouldn’t want a cost effective way of driving traffic to your ‘all singing, all dancing’ website – essentially this should be your selling tool for your goods or services, so get yourself on Google Analytics and start measuring just how effective social media is in driving traffic to your website (don’t forget if you don’t tell your followers how to find your website – they stand less chance of finding it)
  • Increased Brand Awareness: It goes without saying that the more you are active on a good variety of social media platforms, and the more engaging the content the more people will share it and inevitably the more people will see it – this can only ever be a positive when looking to increase your brand exposure and awareness.
  • Visual: It’s no secret that people are much more likely to engage with images, photos, videos and other visuals, social media is quite possibly the easiest method for getting visuals relating to your business out there and in front of both existing and prospect customers.
  • Social Media platforms ARE search engines: For many, where they appear in the Google rankings is all they are interested in, but don’t forget that the likes of YouTube (the 2nd largest search engine) are search engines too and so should not be over looked when developing your digital strategy.
  • Link Building: The process of link building involves the linking back from other websites to yours – (by the way Google LOVES this and you’ll get a pat on the back and begin to see better search ranking results from doing this). The easiest way to get links back to your site is through creating fresh and engaging content regularly, be it through blogs, pins, tweets or posts that people will want to share and engage with.
  • It’s incredibly cost effective: I think this one speaks for itself when you consider how much you may budget for press advertising, online web banners and other forms of marketing!

It’s also worth noting that the ‘flash in the pan’ approach to social media just won’t give you the results you’re looking for, once you’ve committed to social media for business you’re in it for the long haul to see those results. That is, you must be active on your chosen platforms frequently, generating fresh and engaging content and giving customers a reason to interact with you.

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Would Mary Say That? Tone of Voice for Branding

So your ‘all singing, all dancing’ website is finally live, you’ve set up various social media accounts and you have plans in place for some creative e-mail marketing campaigns, you’ve even got as far as mapping out what you’re going to communicate to your customers and when, but have you thought about HOW you’re going to say it?

We spend a lot of time understanding business goals, putting together a comprehensive marketing strategy and developing a marketing plan that determines how we’re going to achieve these goals. Furthermore, in many organisations there are corporate guidelines in place for how and when the brand logo can or can’t be used, as well as outlining what fonts should be used in order to best represent a brand, but how much thought is given to the ‘tone of voice’. As the use of social media amongst businesses continues to grow, establishing a distinctive tone of voice has never been so important.

It’s essential to understand that communicating what your business does is important but communicating ‘who’ does the doing is equally as important. The personality behind the business is essentially what makes the business a brand, and with a brand you have a business you can market (if you’re still with me then well done!)

Establishing the Tone of Voice

For a ‘one man band’ or small business, the ‘tone of voice’ is more often than not a representation or a partial representation of the business owner(s), and it’s the responsibility of those that are communicating externally on behalf of the business to maintain that voice.

The good news is, once the tone of voice is established it becomes a natural way of ‘speaking’, and by speaking I really mean writing, and by writing I really mean typing!

Establishing the tone however is the tricky part. Below are my top 5 tips for establishing the tone of voice for your business and thus determining your brand.

Top 5 Tips for Establishing a Businesses Tone of Voice

  • Business mission, vision and values!

Once upon a time you built a business based on values, wrote a business mission you believed in and had a vision of the entire bigger picture. You should revisit these regularly, and if you haven’t done so recently now’s a good time. Your business values are what will help your business develop a culture, and from that culture will eventually grow your tone of voice. Many common business values include the words balance, community, diversity, empowerment – the list goes on, but immediately from these words you will start to develop a ‘vibe’ and a feeling that you and your company should embrace – use this wisely.

  • Consistency is King

This tip does what it says on the tin. Once you start to develop a tone, stick with it and don’t deviate. One of the biggest mistakes you can make when trying to establish a tone of voice is to chop and change, often this comes from ‘too many cooks syndrome’, i.e. allowing too many people to converse as the brand, it’s a good idea to have just one, or perhaps two people maximum responsible for speaking on behalf of your precious brand – at least until the tone is established and you have set guidelines in place.  A good tip here is to almost name your brand’s tone of voice, so for the sake of this let’s call it ‘Mary’ and ask; would ‘Mary’ say that?

  • Be Inspired and Aspire

There’s no shame in taking inspiration from brands that you aspire to. Why not use a tool such as Pinterest to create inspirational boards to help you determine how you want others to view and interpret your brand, follow other brands you aspire too and take some inspiration from what they do well.  Some of the brands that I find most inspiring and consistent in their tone of voice include; Innocent Drinks, Joules, Ikea, Marks and Spencer’s and Fosters – for many of these brands you’d know the advert or the communication without even seeing the logo.  Remember that establishing tone of voice will make developing consistent marketing campaigns easier.

  • Consider your audience

Developing a tone of voice isn’t just about how you want to convey your brand, but also how your audience will portray it. I’d suggest developing a cute and quirky tone of a voice for what should be a straight talking accountancy firm isn’t going to work long term. When developing your marketing strategy and plan, I’d like to hope you’ll have spent some time researching who your target market/audience are and establishing their demographic – don’t forget this when establishing your tone of voice –  it’s no use talking to a 60+ year old customer in the same way you’d talk to an 18 year old customer!

  • GSOH – but don’t force it

We’ve all, well most of us anyway, got a sense of humour, for some innuendo and toilet humour has them in stiches, but for others a stiffer/drier sense of humour is what will make them relate to your brand. Humour is good, but it’s a fine line between what some people find amusing, and what others find offensive so keep it light, don’t force it and remember tip 4 – your audience!

In conclusion, your business needs a voice, and the tone of that voice is what makes your business a brand and remember – Would Mary Ask That?

Never miss an opportunity

Social media is visual – fact. If you want your social media strategy to work for you, and you want to see you engagement rate increase, you simply must utilise images and videos, and even more importantly they absolutely must be copyright free (don’t pinch adverts, not only does it put you at risk of being sued for mis-use of images, but that’s the property of hard working photographers, you wouldn’t walk in to an art gallery or photographic studio and just take an image off the wall would you?!).

So the simple answer is – take your own!

Images shared on blogs and social media platforms don’t have to be picture perfect, they don’t have to be perfectly lit, with outstanding composition (although it helps if you can actually work out what the photo is of), they simply need to get a reaction, tell a story, or make someone smile enough for them to want to engage with it, be it sharing, tagging, commenting or simply liking!

Time is not an excuse.

We all have busy lives, but we nearly all have mobile phones with cameras, it takes moments to snap something funny or inspiring and share it online, so whether you’re out walking across the fields and see the sun streaming across a contented highland cow, or you’re in the office and the bosses dog is flat out on the office floor, never miss an opportunity! If the moment inspired you enough to capture it, chances are it will inspire someone else enough to engage with it.

**Just remember you have a brand to represent and potentially a boss to report to – so be sensible!**