How do you use Twitter?

Alice

In marketing terms, people view using Twitter in different ways. Some see it as a somewhere to make friends and listen to lots of gossip. Others use it for fact finding and a method for free and easy research. Others regard it as a voyeur’s haven, watching what others are saying and gleaning the latest news before it breaks. And then there are others who treat it merely as a place to feed your blog into and share expertise and tips.

 
So which scenario do you fit into?
 
Do you use your name in your Twitter username? Are you interacting freely with your followers? Do you start and partake in conversations? Do you write your tweets yourself? Are they spontaneous or composed beforehand? Do you keep an eye on Twitter throughout the day?
 
Do you use your business as your Twitter username? Are you representing a corporate identity? Do you only tweet what you’ve been told to say? Are you given free rein to reply? Do you find you’re repeating the usual mantra without any personal context?

Are you representing a brand on Twitter? Do you monitor the Twittersphere to see what others are saying about your brand? Do you intervene only to correct misconceptions? Do you promote facts and figures in order to spread awareness to a larger audience?

Are you using Twitter to spread your expertise through blog feeds and top tips? Do you use an automated service to carefully space out your tweets throughout the day? Is this to give the impression of a constant presence, or to capture different people in different time zones?

Remember, using social media should be a sociable affair, to create relationships with others in order to find out more about each other, with an aim towards long-term associations, referrals and recommendations, and maybe (or ultimately) business.

This mechanism for creating two-way, even multiple-way, communications with any like-minded person should not be abused by the never-ending desire to sell and make money, for cheap and easy research, or to crow about how wonderful you are.

Using Twitter means sharing resources and ideas, problems and answers, tips and expertise without a hint of selling, gossip and laughter, making connections and above all, friendship.

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What gaps are in your communication strategy?

Alice

The fourth assignment for my CIM Professional Certificate in Marketing involves creating a communications audit on the organisation I have based my assignment upon. After I had fathomed exactly what was required, I started to enjoy analysing every aspect of communication the organisation did, including the ‘external’ stakeholders involved, such as the media and pressure groups, the community and those involved in corporate social responsiblity.

This may all sound complicated, but there is no need to get apprehensive (unless you haven’t done much about communications in your business). First you need to work out all the different aspects of communication: websites, social media, blogs, PR, newspaper reports, articles written online and paper published, recommendations, networking (off and online), participation in events in the local social diary, corporate social responsibility and involvement in local groups. There are probably more you can think of, depending on your kind of business.

Go on the web and find out what other companies, especially your competitors, are doing to publicise the communication strategies they have in place. Sometimes a little light secondary research can reveal a lot about them, as well as yourself. How visible are you, both off and online? How much information do you make available about your company and the things that you do? How easy is it to find?

Then you need to work out the impact your communication strategy has on your business and your stakeholders, which includes past, present and potential customers, your competitors and suppliers, as well as the general public. How well do you communicate with them on the areas that are relevant to them? What kind of things do you need to tell them? How frequently do you perform this and what have the results been? Have you achieved your objectives from these ventures? What strategies do you have in place to continue, improve and achieve success in your future endeavours?

I have only just scratched the surface on this subject, but hopefully to get the strategic juices flowing. Being visible to the appropriate stakeholders could make a real difference to your business, not only to publicise what has been going on and any future projects, but to increase awareness, explain more succinctly exactly what you do and what you are aiming to achieve, increase networking opportunities and relationships that could evolve into joint ventures and other likely connections, and much more besides.

Let us know what you are doing within your communication strategy – it would be exciting to find out how successful you’ve been and what tactics you have thought up to set the communication wheels moving as smoothly as possible!

How not to do direct mail – part 2

Chantal

About 18 months ago, we got in touch with a company that sells mailing lists, to see if they could provide us with useful contacts for one of our clients. At the time, we had a lady called Lisa working with us.

Recently we received a letter from the mailing list company, with words and phrases like ‘Targeted’, ‘Focused’ and ‘Up to Date’ printed all over the envelope. It was addressed to Lisa; she moved to a different job over a year ago!

If a huge mailing house, that specialises in selling business data, can’t get it right, who can?! How difficult is it to keep in touch with your clients and prospects, to check that their details are up to date? How much money could you save by updating information before putting large envelopes in the post?

Before the digital age, I was a big fan of direct mail. I used it a great deal during the first couple of years of my business, to find new clients. I looked up marketing and PR companies online and then called them, to ask for the name of the best person to send information to. I posted them a letter and a leaflet, none of which ever came back with ‘not known at this address’ on them. Then I made more phone calls to arrange appointments. On the limited budget of a start up business, it worked really well. I had the time to do the research and saved a lot of money by getting the correct details. Some people I spoke to didn’t need my help, which saved me from sending them anything in the first place.

Direct mail still works if you do it properly. Spend time doing some research before you put pen to paper (or fingers to keyboard!) and you won’t fill up your letterbox (or inbox) with returns. Instead, you’ll get to speak to people who are interested and want to work with you.

How not to do direct mail

Chantal

“Dear Sir or Madam” – if you really want to get my attention, make a phone call first to find out my name, instead of addressing me that way.

“We currently have available an exceptional new business person who is immediately available” –  but I’m not looking to recruit a ‘new business person’.

“In his previous role … he won business from companies like Budweiser, Oracle and Dell” – so where’s the proof that he can win business from SMEs?

“If you would like more information … do not hesitate to contact me” – if you’re that interested in working with me (or finding a job for this superstar) shouldn’t you be phoning me? Oh, I forgot, you can’t because you don’t know my name!!

If you’re going to write to companies to tell them about your services, do a little bit of research first and you can save yourself a great deal of time, money and effort.

LinkedIn: Use the power of Answers

Alice

At the end of your navigation links in your LinkedIn profile is a tab called ‘More’. At the top of the drop-down menu that appears when you mouse over it, is the option ‘Answers’. I often wonder why it is tucked away like this when it is, in my mind, an integral part of effective use of LinkedIn.

The Questions and Answers section of LinkedIn is an almost forgotten area that could make or break your expertise status. There is a myriad of different subject matter, easily one for every kind of profession, that provides two purposes: to ask a question (for inquiry, research, information or whatever) and to answer those questions (therefore spreading your expertise in your chosen subject).

The quality and substance of the questions vary (as so does the answers), but social media users today have developed skills in skimming through the unnecessary stuff to focus on the worth-while. This also reflects the methods of asking and answering questions, with certain skills developed to make your response stand out above the rest; a trait that is necessary with today’s noisy internet usage.

‘Answers Home’ shows the most recently submitted questions in no particular order or subject matter. There are some LinkedIn users who make a habit of answering any question that appeals to them, whereas others will prefer to concentrate on their areas of expertise.

‘Advanced Answers Search’ focuses your attention on the subjects you would most like to concentrate on. The category mechanisms provides access to your preference, but sometimes going down a different route will lead you to unexpected subjects that might be of interest. Once you have chosen your subject matter, LinkedIn remembers so you don’t have to do it all over again.

For easy access to relevant questions you might want to answer, you can set up Google Alerts for the questions within your chosen criteria, and these appear as a cookie on your Google homepage or within your RSS feed reader page. Now you can keep track of all questions as they are asked, and be one of the first to answer, or watch them while the discussions develop.

Go to ‘Answer Questions’ and you’ll see that questions are either open (available for answering) or closed (there is usually a time limit on questions which you can extend if necessary). The ‘Expert’ tab shows the most promiscuous answerers, but there is no reason why you can’t become one yourself! If your answer is approved by the questioner it will either be marked as ‘Good’ or, if you’re lucky, ‘Best Answer’. Whatever alocade you receive  will be listed on your profile page in the right sidebar, and ‘Best Answer’ for each subject will be shown in your signature when you answer a question.

And if you have a question to ask, the ‘Ask a Question’ tab provides easy to use fields and menus to publish your question. It is great fun waiting for the answers, which will be emailed to you when they are submitted. Sometimes they are not what you expected, but all are enjoyable to read. When your question has closed, then is the time to select those that are ‘Good’ and finally your ‘Best Answer’, a respected and polite way of saying thank-you, though some questioners have emailed me personally to request more information as well as expressing their gratitude.