• BeverlyMay
    Beverly May on August 13, 2014

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  • Keep your social media policy simple, and don’t try to exercise too much control over your employees; otherwise it might blow up in your face!

    During my time at Bubble Jobs, I’ve commented on social media policies and focused on the importance of having one implemented for your employees.

    However, sometimes these policies can be taken too far and can result in negative PR for the business in question.

    This is exactly what happened when a lecturer at the University of Leeds spoke out about her experience when working for the institution. Speaking to Times Higher Education last week, she revealed that she’d been told by the “Webmaster” at the university to remove tweets about the policies of Home Secretary Theresa May because she wasn’t allowed to post political tweets (despite her being a reader in law?!) in case someone misconstrued them as the views of the university.

    The university eventually backed down after a lot of to-ing and fro-ing via email and allowed McCartney to carry on tweeting, with the proviso that she removed the name of the university from her Twitter profile, but after McCartney pointed out that anyone could find out who she was with a quick Google search, the university then settled for a “views are my own” disclaimer on her profile page.

    This whole episode uncovered the fact that some universities in the UK have pretty old fashioned social media policies which stop staff from tweeting anything that “could damage the university’s reputation” in the case of Edinburgh Napier University or that stop staff from communicating with former students in the case of the University of Kent.

    In this day and age, businesses can’t afford to use social media to control the free speech of their employees – it’s just not practical and will only result in a nightmare PR situation and disgruntled employees.

    Social media is a powerful tool for building a business’ brand, but one that should be approached with caution, and that caution extends to your employees’ personal social media use.

    Thoughtless tweets can damage a company’s reputation, but it’s a fine line between advising on social media use and controlling how your employees communicate outside of working hours.

    A policy should cover things like not publicly criticising the company, including a disclaimer in your public social media profiles stating that the views are your own and not those of the company as well as not sharing confidential business information online, whether that be on a public or private social media account.

    One mistake to avoid is trying to control what your employees discuss on social media, especially if it’s not related to the business and they include a disclaimer in their profile biographies. This is taking the whole social media policy too far and puts your business in a very sticky situation when it comes to free speech, employee rights and even human rights.

    In a nutshell, keep your social media policy simple, and don’t try to exercise too much control over your employees; otherwise it’ll blow up in your face!

    What do you think about the university social media policies? Old fashioned and out of touch or necessary and effective?

    As always, let me know in the comments below or on Twitter @BubbleJobs

    Incorporating the big four social media platforms – Facebook, Twitter, Google+ and Pinterest - into your online marketing plan is a must-do for success. Depending on your business and its industry, you might also consider sites such as YouTube and LinkedIn to grow your authority and brand awareness.

    When it comes to social media marketing, there are dozens of platforms and websites to choose from including Facebook, Twitter, Pinterest, LinkedIn, YouTube, Vine, Instagram, Foursquare, Google Plus, Tumblr, and much more. There are 416 unique social media platforms that millions of users visit on a daily basis, according to the most recent estimates. It’s no wonder that 57 percent of marketers intend to increase their social marketing budgets within the next year.

    Some of the most notable benefits of social media include, but are not limited to:

    Reduced marketing expenses. In today’s challenging economy, small businesses and major corporations alike must look for ways to reduce marketing costs. Social media provides greater marketing ROI for 62 percent of businesses. Most marketers experience a significant traffic increase with as little as 6 hours spent on social media.

    Harnessing the mobile market. As consumers increasingly rely on their mobile devices to browse the internet, businesses that invest in social media are able to more effectively target them. Why? Because social media is the number one activity for mobile users whenever they go online.

    Cumulative growth. Businesses that are strategic in increasing their social media followings experience cumulative growth, which results in free advertising dollars. In other words, the more followers a business gains, the more people it can promote its content to for free.

    Even as the web marinates in social media, the market shows no signs of slowing down. Chances are you’re among the 57 percent of marketers with plans to ramp up social media.

    Unfortunately, when it comes to social media, many marketers use an “aim-and-see-what-sticks” approach. Not only is this inefficient, but it can also harm your public image as your social media accounts publish ineffective posts. Instead, consider focusing on the “Big Four” of social media, which includes Facebook, Twitter, Google+, and Pinterest. While it’s never a bad idea to market on other social sites, focusing largely on the Big Four ensures the greatest possible marketing ROI.

    Planning Your Social Media Campaign

    Similar to a blueprint for building a home, it’s vital to create a strategy for social media. Regardless of your industry and business size, Facebook and Google+ are two of the Big Four social platforms that you can’t afford to ignore. In general, Twitter and Pinterest enhance these platforms.

    When planning your social media campaign, it’s important to remember that quality truly trumps quantity. Many brands make the mistake of creating excessively active social media accounts, which can be perceived as spam.

    To harness the power of the Big Four for big results, consider the best practices for each:

    Facebook

    Your business page is a unique platform that allows you to leverage user interaction, long form content, and promotional material. Instead of going for the “hard sell,” focus on what Facebook users value most: fun content. For instance, consider posting a daily photo of a satisfied customer, encouraging followers to post their stories, publishing a funny joke, or publishing a link to interesting industry news.

    Whatever you do on Facebook, your ultimate goal should be to create a human voice for your business. Social media users reject impersonal posts, which is why businesses that focus on self-promotion fail. Keep your posts consistent, as 50 percent of Facebook users check their accounts multiple times a day. Without regular content, your posts will be buried in an ever-updating newsfeed and won’t be seen by your followers.

    To increase your total reach, it’s imperative to encourage your followers to interact with your post. Simply asking people to like, comment, or share your post vastly increases the likelihood of them doing so. Since every interaction with your brand is showcased to their friends list, your business page benefits from increased exposure.

    Google+

    Google+ is a double-edged sword. Though it doesn’t have a rabid user base comparative to Facebook or Twitter, it’s undeniably the favorite social platform of the largest search engine in the world, which happens to be its parent company. Since Google+ isn’t as “popular” as Facebook, businesses make the mistake of failing to optimize their company page, which means they lose out on its benefits.

    To succeed on Google+, it’s vital to fill out your business’ basic information. From location to hours of operation and contact information to mission statement, make sure your Google+ page touches on the most important elements of your company. Next, be sure to actively share information through your Google+ account. Pages that actively share content are more likely to rank and benefit from Google’s search engine algorithm. However, be sure to limit self-promotional posts to less than 20 percent of your total activity. Ten percent is considered ideal.

    Twitter

    A few decades ago, consumers heard about great deals and new businesses “through the grapevine.” Today, consumers hear about businesses through a little birdy named Twitter. The best way to use Twitter is to build excitement. The rapid-fire culture of Twitter means that your brand can post more frequently compared to other platforms. Forget the excessively scripted tweets and focus on interacting with your most loyal followers.

    Twitter is an excellent platform to partner with major influencers, use hashtags to gain attention, and show personality. Twitter is actually moving very fast and you should make efforts to reinforce your brand on it. If Facebook and Google+ are the “bread and butter” of social media marketing, Twitter is the condiment that adds unique flavor. Is your brand authentic and personal when using Twitter?

    Pinterest

    The easiest way to succeed on Pinterest is to integrate it with your existing online presence. For instance, add a “Pin It” button to your website, product pages, and web store. By making your imagery easy to share, you increase the likelihood of consumers talking about your products with their friends. The most successful Pinterest boards focus on quality over quantity, as users want to discover unique, intriguing, and original posts.

    Incorporating the Big Four social media platforms into your online marketing plan is a must-do for success. Depending on your business and its industry, you might also consider sites such as YouTube and LinkedIn to grow your authority and brand awareness.

    Interactive infographic is not just a pretty way of displaying data. The social share results you see for some of the infographics made by brands are just astonishing!

    An interactive infographic is not just a pretty way of displaying data. The social share results you see for some of the infographics made by brands are just astonishing!

    There is a simple reason why people like infographics and do not mind sharing them with friends. Sixty five percent of people are visual learners, which means that it is easier for them to digest information visually. Infographics have a strong emotional power, since they show you an idea – or how something works in a simple and quick way. Infographics surprise readers and somehow make them want to scroll down and read the whole thing.

    How to Make Your Infographic Successful

    Before you rush and start creating infographic, in hopes of building your brand awareness, I would suggest you to study and learn more about infographics. Do research on your competition. See if they had published infographics before. Analyze the successful ones. If possible compare multiple and see what they have in common.

    Even though you might be successful on your first try and your infographic will go viral (because let us be honest, that is the main goal here – make your infographic go viral and harvest the fruits of your labor = new leads), there are quite a lot of factors related to the demographic of your niche. If you want to learn more about how you can effectively use interactive infographics to communicate with your target audience, I strongly suggest you to check out this interview from Mark Smiciklas, author of “The Power of Infographics.”

    If you want to read more about making your infographic a success, read this article from SocialMediaToday. It's a compilation of what some people, who are working in the online marketing industry, are thinking about what makes an infographic succeed.

    Brands Successfully Using Infographics

    Do you know a lot about cinnamon? Well, I sure did not before stumbling upon this “How to Use Cinnamon Sticks” infographic made by “About Nutrition Facts”, a health and nutrition website. If you look, you would notice that all icons in this infographic are consistent in color and design. Everything is spaced out well, so it is very easy for user to read and want to scroll down. Warm colors and wood texture background add a certain feel of warmth.

    I really like how many brands are starting to implement interactive infographics in their marketing plans. Look at WSOP infographic for example. They nailed it by showing real examples of poker players who won WSOP bracelets , how much money they made, compare them to celebrities and display in a simple way how many different things $10 million can buy you. The result is quite good as well – seven thousands shares on Facebook and five thousand tweets. You can just imagine the amount of viral traffic this one page interactive has brought them.

    We decided to dig deeper and find some expert opinion on our own. Mr. Oren gladly accepted to answer a bunch of our questions. Here are some of the quotes from Mr. Ben Oren, Director of Web Marketing at Whiteweb.

    What are the key elements that can make an infographic go viral?
    There's no way to guarantee that an infographic will go viral. However, there are a few measures we can take to increase its chances of going viral. The first crucial step is defining clear goals you'd like to achieve using the infographic: what do you want out of it? Branding? Awareness? Educational value / dispelling myths? Your goal will help guide you through the conceptualization and ultimate execution. It's important to do a bit of research to find out what characterizes your target audience, what they tend to react to - and use that knowledge to come up with a concept that really speaks to them.

    Finally, another key thing to keep in mind is that it's an investment, both in terms of time and in terms of money. Compromising on quality is a bad idea. This doesn't mean your infographic has to be meticulously designed, but a shoddy job or even an overly designed piece will be distracting and miss its purpose. Clean thematic design coupled with great, concise copy will help send your message clearly - further increasing the odds of getting readers to click 'share'.

    Q: What other content strategies you suggest to build strong links?
    If your main objective in executing content marketing is getting links, you're on the wrong path. True, content marketing can be an effective tool to obtain links, but this is just an advantage of this strategy. Branding, exposure, boosting relevant traffic and positioning are all central goals of content marketing. In many ways, content marketing is particularly beneficial in SEO - since when it's done correctly to ensure virality, the company stands to gain both quality links and positive social signals. 

    Time to Take Action!

    There is a lot of information you might need to read through before creating your first interactive infographic. Obviously, with the rise of mobile market share, 2014 and future years will be the year of engagement and interaction. Therefore, we strongly suggest you to try creating infographic for your business and see what kind of result you will get.

    Want to get noticed on Twitter? Use hashtags! Using the right hashtag(s) in your tweets will bring you the relevant audience and exposure. This is also with those that you will be able to follow conversations known as chats.

    Want to get noticed on Twitter? Use hashtags! Using the right hashtag(s) in your tweets will bring you the relevant audience and exposure. This is also with those that you will be able to follow conversations known as chats.

    How to use hashtags efficiently? How many is too many? Let's have a look at hashtags best practices on Twitter.

    1. More than 3 is too many.

    Social media professionals all seem to agree that 3 is the maximum number of hashtags that you should include in one tweet. Don't overwhelm your followers with too many hashtags. Instead, choose them well, the more relevant the better.

    2. Stay away from irrelevant popular hashtags.

    Yes, they are widely used for a reason, and you'd like to jump on that wagon. But if your tweet has nothing to do with the hashtag you use, as trending as it is, you or your brand will become instantly irrelevant to both your current and potential followers.

    3. Size does matter.

    When it comes to hashtags, the shorter the better. First, it will save you space in your tweet. 140 characters are not a lot, so don't use half of those for your hashtag only. Two to three words are enough, no need to make a full sentence out of it. Use capital letters for each words so it's easier to read.

    4. Go specific.

    Stay away from hashtags that are too general. Using #marketing or #business in your tweets won't bring you more exposure as they are widely used words. Target specific conversations instead with hashtags like #TwitterTips or #NativeAdvertising, depending on your topic. Creating a hashtag for yourself or a specific campaign is tempting. It has to be well advertised and shared though so you are sure it is used correctly... or used at all!

    5. Do a pre search

    Search the hashtag on Twitter first to see if it is used and by who. What kind of conversations does the hashtag trigger? Is it where you want to go?

     

    Happy hashtagging!

    Our whole definition of "customer facing" is under attack as companies realize (or should) that a lot of activities outside of sales, marketing and customer service are just as important to delivering experiences to customers that meet expectations.

    The conversation about customer experience as a business strategy continues to get lots of attention as companies struggle to figure out how to do business in a changing, consumer driven marketplace. A lot of these conversations have focused on the outward facing issues, changing marketing and sales or executing customer service in a new or improved way. These so called customer facing activities are obviously a critical part of a CX strategy, but there's a lot more. In fact I think our whole definition of "customer facing" is under attack as companies realize (or should) that a lot of activities outside of sales, marketing and customer service are just as important to delivering experiences to customers that meet expectations. Incorrectly billing for an order, delivering the wrong item or not meeting promised delivery schedules, for example, are all outside the purview of the old line customer facing organizations, but have the potential to disrupt that desired experience.

    I attended and presented at the annual CRM Evolution conference last week and was drawn into these debates on CX several times. All those conversation got me thinking about the fundamentals of CX and how a strategy needs to go together. There are of course lot's of policy decisions and even more system and technology issues to deal with. The one area that seems to be getting very little attention though, is how to deal with all the internal communication issues and organizational silos that continue to plague organizations. Collaboration as a topic has been almost worn out with maybe not so much progress in a lot of companies. There was a time when I'd probably have groaned with the rest of you when someone brought up the topic, but now, I've become a "believer". Collaboration isn't a technology discussion or a strictly process or people discussion either. It's complex, which is why, I think, that so many companies have struggled with it for so long.

    CX and collaboration are natural allies as a strategy and need to be addressed together. From a CX perspective you simply can't "fix" your customer issues without solving your internal organizational issues relating to collaboration and communication. Tying into the voice of the customer and using it to drive internal activities is powerful but only if you can share and work in concert. Having multiple channels of communication to customers as a part of your CX strategy is important, maybe even necessary, but if those voices / channels aren't coordinated to present consistent messages they will do much more damage than good. A lot of executing on a CX strategy will take internal coordination across current organizational silos. Can you make that a reality in your current environment... do you have the right systems in place... do you incent your people to work together... and are your processes collaborative? If you can't answer those questions positively then you will not be successful with an overall CX strategy.

    What can you do to build a collaboration strategy into your overall CX strategy? Here are a few things to consider:

    • The biggest barrier to a collaborative workplace in most companies is compensation and incentives. Are they aligned to create a collaborative environment or do you incent people to compete?
    • From a system perspective externally I'd encourage you to investigate and deploy some version (depending on your own desired outcomes and strategy, industry, regulatory constraints, etc.) of a customer community. That the easiest way to capture the voice of the customer and has many other uses for your CX strategy. Here's a post I did on that subject recently. Internally you need some form of an enterprise social network (ESN) to support your collaboration initiatives. I've written about that that a lot too, so won't go back through that here.
    • The CX - collaboration integration starts with linking your ESN to your customer community.
    • In understanding and defining your CX strategy you need to expand your team and your concept to include those parts of the organization that have a big impact on your customer but are not today considered (in most companies at least) as customer facing. This includes finance, logistics, etc. Systematically these organizations need to be tied together too, and in a lot of legacy systems this is just hard. The ESN, especially if it's embedded inside your other process systems, can be a big integrator for you, and help working across organizations / departments / systems.
    • Change doesn't just happen on its own, it has to be "implemented" and people need education in new systems and processes. They need to understand what your expectations are of them, especially when they are pulled into these new processes and strategies.
    • Culture is hard to change and does not do so on its own nor overnight. Executives must be visible and involved. Expectations must be clear and clearly communicated.

    This only scratches the surface of course, there's a lot more. Hopefully though, you will start to think about the impact of your people and the critical role collaboration has to play in any successful CX strategy.