Social Media: The Intern’s Job

Intern

As a small business, you’ve likely had the discussion about creating a presence on Social Media. You know it’s an important function, all your customers and competitors are on Social Media and you need to catch up.

Many small businesses don’t have the manpower or resources to adequately create and implement a Social Media strategy so your solution is often to allocate the responsibilities to the Intern. After all they’re young, they understand how Social Media works and using technology is second nature to them. If the Intern is your solution to Social Media, then you’re making a catastrophic error.

The Intern

Depending on your company and industry, an Intern can be employed to fulfil a number of roles – sales, marketing, customer service etc… The likelihood is that you employed them because they are young, tech-savvy people who can bring creativity with their youthful enthusiasm and ideas.

They’re also inexperienced, unfamiliar with your company culture, your products & services, your customers and suppliers. Many Interns are also paid little or no salary – yet this is the best person within your company to deal with the vital function of Social Media?

The Solution

Before your small business dives into the world of Social Media you must firstly devise a strategy which creates the foundation of a Social Media plan. Your Social Media plan needs to include:

Content Marketing

Devising a Content Marketing strategy starts with deciding on what content to post on Social Media. Create a balance between posting sales-related content and a mixture of content relevant to your industry, company ethos, local communities and information which your audience will find interesting and engaging.  This can be posts from news sources, bloggers, industry experts or market reports.

What time of the day do you post? – Testing, analysing and measuring will answer this question. Try altering the heading of your posts; alter the images used and the content of posts to determine the time of the day your audience engages with your content.

Responses

If your small business doesn’t have defined company values, a company vision and defined culture then create one and quick! Your employees need to share your company vision to act and think in a universal manner. Creating a company culture will result in a specific tone and language being used which will be the voice of your company.

Processes & Integration

Social Media is one of the most powerful Marketing tools available to small businesses, but is more successful when integrating a range of business functions including customer service, HR and strategic management.

Whoever you decide to lead Social Media within your company, part of their role should be to define the processes involved and to liaise with a range of departments. Hold weekly/monthly meetings with staff from different business functions and establish the processes required. Who deals with specific enquiries? How should your company respond to sales enquiries?

Identifying the people and processes required to manage Social Media is essential, and always ensure those processes result in the ability to respond quickly (within 24 hours) to any enquiries or queries. Although one single person is able to co-ordinate Social Media activities, it requires the involvement and commitment from the heads of the respective departments.

Employing an Intern to handle your companies Social Media activities can only be successful if adequate time, finance and manpower is committed.  Interns aren’t the solution, commitment and strategic thinking are 🙂

Social Media Couch Potatoes

couch-potato

Social Media and the technology we use to access it is contributing to the creation of the Social Media Couch Potato. Staying in, sitting down facing the screen of a Smartphone, tablet, laptop or PC people are laughing, sharing and living their lives – all without talking, touching and intimacy.

Communicating through Social Media changes our habits and daily routines which impacts how consumers browse and buy products and services. Therefore as a small business if you understand how your prospects and customers are using Social Media, then you can connect with them when they want where they want.

Timing

When are your followers online?

7.30 in the evening are they sitting down to watch Coronation Street or Eastenders? 12.30 on a Saturday afternoon are they watching the football game on Sky TV?

When the 1st TV ad break appears or half time at the game, people will check their Social Media accounts – and you should send posts on Social Media at these exact times. You can use auto scheduling tools like Hootsuite, Buffer or Social Sprout to schedule posts for you at certain times of the day/week.

You might even be watching the same TV show or game as your audience, so find common ground and connect with them. If you’re a hairdresser you could mention a famous player’s hairstyle and promote a special offer for that style.  Has someone died in Coronation Street? Post about it to encourage your followers to comment – make real life connections, just don’t make everything you post about you and your company – be real and BE SOCIAL.

Turn Browsing into Sales

Shopping habits have changed with the birth of smart technology and Social Media fuelling a shift from Retail to E-Tail breeding a generation of armchair shoppers. What’s the point in going shopping in the rain, fighting for space in the car park in high streets with the same shops, brands and products as every other high street in the country?

Armchair shoppers are canny as they conduct research to shop around for the best deals available. Often people visit Retail premises, find something they like then go online to look for a better deal.  Social Media plays a significant role in purchasing decisions as potential customers ask their friends & family where to find X product, best prices and best websites. Regardless of how fancy and snazzy your marketing is, people trust their peers ahead of any brand in the world, so use this fact to your advantage.

Consumers will connect with their peers on Social Media and your Small Business needs to be heard to be part of that buying process. Use Social Media as an exclusive Marketing channel, offer specific ranges only and offer special deals that consumers can’t find anywhere else.

Tap into your customer’s peer network by offering say a 10% discount if they share your “special offer post”. This way you’re getting the customer to do your Marketing for you.

Find out when your followers are on Social Media to get your timing right, marry this with using Social Media as an exclusive Marketing channel and you’ve tapped into a market of Social Media Couch Potatoes itching to spend, spend and spend.

Are you a Retailer who struggles to compete with online competitors? Are you struggling to increase sales on Social Media? Tell me about any success stories or problems you’ve faced when selling on Social Media 🙂

Why your Business will die if you don’t adopt Social Media

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The explosion of Social Media has always fascinated me. Not so much from a Marketer’s or business perspective but to see the monumental shift in the way people communicate and conduct their everyday lives.

Business need to adopt Social Media into their Marketing strategies or run the risk of being left behind, not just from competitors but from connecting and engaging with customers. Social Media won’t solve all your Marketing dilemmas and must be integrated with a wider Marketing strategy to work, but I propose that your business will die if you don’t embrace it.

Communicate like your customers

Communication has vastly evolved since the introduction of mobile phones, the internet, computers and now the rise of smartphones & tablets. When I was a kid pen pals were common and you had to use a landline to communicate with friends and family. Now I don’t even have to talk to people to communicate.

Who are your customers and how do they lead their daily lives? Just look around you in any street in any town or city in the world, even in developing countries and you’ll see a set of thumbs clicking away. The way people communicate has evolved and businesses need to evolve to communicate in a manner which is familiar to ordinary people.

Low cost Marketing

I’m a huge advocate of the fact that Social Media has helped to even the playing field in Marketing between large and small businesses. One negative of Social Media is that it requires sweat equity and drains your time, but use that time to your advantage.

Small businesses don’t have big budgets so utilise your time to gain a competitive advantage. Spend your time communicating and engaging your audience, something that big businesses with millions of customers really struggle to implement. Yes time = money, but far less than the big budgets required to compete with big brands.

Reach

Place an advert on TV, Radio or by Direct Mail and only the people who directly receive these Marketing messages are the initial recipients. A rule of thumb in publications is to multiply the volume of sales by 4 to calculate overall readership numbers. Word of mouth is required to increase reach on more traditional Marketing platforms, but doesn’t come close to the reach you can achieve via Social Media.

The exact message delivered on Social Media can be shared with people from all over the world in a matter of seconds, something that simply isn’t possible using traditional Marketing methods. No Chinese whispers, no misconstrued information, the exact same message to a global audience.

Competitors

I’m a late adopter of technology and don’t do things to keep up with the crowd, but in business you cannot sit back and watch your competitors stealing a lead on your company. If you wait for your Marketing message to reach your customer in a mail drop or in a magazine or newspaper then it reaches your customer much slower. Do this and you could already have lost sales to competitors using Social Media who engage with people in real time.

Social Media is where people socialise, enter their world and do it quick otherwise your competitors will leave you in their dust.

Older consumers

Does your mum have a PC or smartphone? Do they have a Facebook account where they talk to old friends and family members abroad? –Yes!

Even the 50+ market are starting to adopt Social Media and are the fastest growing segment on Facebook, they soon convert to see what all the hype is about.

I recently conducted market research for competitors and spoke to mainly the 55+ market and almost all of the people (apart from the 75+ market) I spoke to said that they use Google to search for certain companies. The evolution of communication isn’t just limited to the younger generations.

Older generations will begin to die and a new generation of tech savvy consumers will arise, just don’t let your business die with them.

Social Media IS the 7 P’s of Marketing

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PRODUCT PLACE PRICE PROMOTION PEOPLE PROCESSES PHYSICAL ENVIRONMENT

The 7 P’s of Marketing existed well before the explosion of Social Media and for decades has been taught to Students, Marketers and Business people as the fundamental basics of Marketing, known as the Marketing Mix. For any Marketer or Business knowing your 7 P’s is always a good place to start with Marketing, but as you become more advanced there are so many other theories, elements and concepts involved.

The initial 4 P’s of Marketing is more widely used whereas B2B and International Marketing are more suitable for the use of the 7 P’s. However any business in any industry can use the 7 P’s, but can we apply Social Media to all 7 elements?

PRODUCT

What do your customers think about the product/services you sell to them?
Do you have ideas for a new concept or star product?
Would your customers be willing to pay more for a premium priced product?

Ask them. Co-creation involving your target market at the stages of idea generation and product development can be conducted via Social Media. Conduct a focus group on a webinar, groups or forums. Run polls on Twitter, LinkedIn, Google+ and Facebook or post videos on You Tube or pictures on Pinterest. Get feedback from the very people who will ultimately buy your goods and include them at the R&D stages.

Co-creation of your PRODUCTS and ideas, all done using Social Media.

PLACE

You don’t need a shop, fancy website or offices to sell to your customers, Social Media can facilitate all of this. Some small businesses find it easier to sell their products by uploading photos to the Business Facebook or Google+ Pages rather than entering complex code into the back end of company websites.

For example my own business website is modest at best, a free page which is very limited so I try to sell using my Social Media sites – and it works. As a recent graduate with a brand new business a new website isn’t in my budget yet so I network on LinkedIn, Twitter, Facebook and forums which has won me new business in my 1st 2 months of trading. All I need is a computer, a phone, sweat equity and my Social Media networks become the PLACE I sell my services.

PRICE

Different Social Media networks have varying demographics which opens up the possibility of charging more or less according to each target segment. High net worth individuals can be targeted to sell at a premium price, whereas lower income earners perhaps could be targeted with discounts or budget ranges.
Co-creation can also be applied using Social Media to help determine the PRICE of your product.

PROMOTION

PROMOTION, this one is easy. You can promote on almost all Social Media sites as long as you know who your market is and what channel they use. Content Marketing and customer engagement are vital when promoting your company, but always remember that Social Media is social where people communicate.

Target your ads and always narrow your target market to as small a segment as possible and always keep the conversation flowing. If you get a like or a comment, respond immediately to engage with real people on a 1:2:1 basis.

PEOPLE

PEOPLE areTHE most important element of any type of business, service or product in any sector anywhere in the world. Your customers are number 1 so consider them in every choice you ever make for your business and you’ll always do well.

Use Social Media to connect with wider stakeholders to your business such as your local community, competitors, trade associations and public bodies. Employees can be used as an asset when communicating via Social Media but ensure you train them and have a solid social media policy implemented.

PROCESSES

Customer Service PROCESSES can be facilitated on your company Social Media sites. Respond swiftly to customer complaints and re-tweet, share and post any testimonials or positive feedback. Check all your Social Media sites at least twice daily and regularly conduct searches for key words about your company.

PHYSICAL ENVIRONMENT

Walk down any street in any city and you’ll most probably see someone on their mobile phone. Go into any cafe, University or shopping mall where people communicate on their handheld devices. Their world, their PHYSICAL ENVIRONMENT is in that device, talking, laughing, crying and sharing their lives on Social Media.

Get into their world, the rise of Mobile advertising targets consumers according to their habits and businesses need to think about how to fit into consumer lifestyles.

Even the old fundamental classic 7 P’s of Marketing can be adapted to incorporate Social Media. By applying old and new theories and tools, Social Media should be seen to compliment and enhance traditional Marketing.

Tablets to become obsolete? I think not.

Blackberry CEO Thorsten Heins recently claimed that tablet computers will become obsolete within the next 5 years. Heins specifies that he thinks tablets aren’t a good business model, well not for Blackberry anyway. In a recent article published by Noel Young at The Drum, the Blackberry CEO believes that smartphones are the future aided by virtual keyboards, docking stations and other connected devices. By claiming that people now carry laptops, tablets and smartphones that this is an excessive amount of devices for a single person to operate. Yet by promoting additional devices such as keyboards and docking stations then won’t people be carrying even more devices?

Tablets are merely a larger version of smartphones (without the phone obviously) and I for one like tablets over smartphones simply due to their size and ease of use. I love my I-Phone, but often find the smaller screen a little fiddly to view material and use. Tablets have on-screen keyboards which eliminates the need for external keyboards as suggested by Heins. Tablet sales have recently overpowered sales of laptops and PC’s, and perhaps it’s PC’s and laptops which will become obsolete or less used, not tablets.

The 1st smartphone I used was Blackberry Curve and it’s the worst piece of technology I have ever owned. The phone itself was riddled with bugs and required battery re-starts almost daily, and the quality of services and applications offered by Blackberry were full of bugs and were low quality. Whilst I am no technology geek or expert, the I-Phone and Samsung Galaxy have proven to be far more successful than any Blackberry device.

In the last 5 years Blackberry share price on the Nasdaq has plummeted by 88.27%, so if I want advice on technology then I’ll trust the more successful companies. Here’s evidence of Blackberry’s stock market demise:

Blackberry 5 Year Nasdaq Share Price

Blackberry 5 Year Nasdaq Share Price

In my humble opinions I believe we’ll witness the demise of Blackberry before the demise of the tablet computer.

By JK Consultancy 01/05/2013