Social Media: The Intern’s Job

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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 🙂

Why Should I Learn Social Media When I Can Do It?

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Social Media is easy right? You just set up an account on Facebook, Twitter, Pinterest and all the other Social Media platforms start posting and you’re away – wrong!

You can’t simply read a few articles about being a Lawyer, Accountant or Business Professional and simply become an expert, so why is Social Media any different? So many people think that gaining certificates or learning Social Media courses isn’t necessary – well that’s a slap in the face for the Social Media industry and the professionals within. In fact it’s an insult to the entire concept of education.

Let’s explore why learning Social Media helps to compliment on the job experience.

Decision Making

Whether you’re a Marketing Professional or Business Owner you must avoid making mistakes at all costs. Whilst it’s true that people learn by making mistakes it should be noted that making mistakes on Social Media negatively impacts your customers and business. Why would you risk gambling with your clients business by refusing to learn about Social Media? – that’s just arrogant and dangerous.

Mistakes can be prevented and decision making improved if people take the time to learn about Social Media from accrediting bodies and companies.  Trial and error isn’t an effective or advisable method of decision making.

Timeless Fundamentals of Social Media

Social Media isn’t a stand-alone discipline, it incorporates SEO, Content Marketing, Lead Generation, Sales, HR, Customer Service, Advertising, Marketing Integration and so much more.  To understand the multi-functional use of Social Media one must firstly learn the basic fundamentals.

The most common complaint about learning Social Media is that the design of courses can’t keep up with the rapidly changing pace of Social Media. Yes platforms change, new ones appear and older ones evolve but there remains a set of fundamentals which can stand the test of time.

Social Media is a place to connect and engage with human beings, building relationships and being social is the key to success on Social Media.  Once you’ve formed relationships with your target audience the concept of sharing relevant, useful and informative information will always be an area of importance regardless of how fast Social Media changes.

Analysing your Social Media activity and customer responses require the use of on-site or 3rd party tools making the concept of testing and measuring timeless. New tools and apps are constantly being created, you don’t need to know them all – simply how they should be used and the benefits they reap.

The fact that Social Media changes so frequently, this should encourage educators to provide fresh material and certainly cannot be accused on being static or out of date.

Experience

I spent the 1st 30 years of my life with a somewhat anti-academic approach to work and my career until I realised that I couldn’t gain the experience I needed so much as I lacked the necessary skills and knowledge to succeed. It’s a classic example of the chicken and egg, how can you gain experience unless my skills are in demand?

Of course you need experience to prove you can apply what you’ve learned, but you need to learn 1st.

Do you think Social Media certificates and courses are a waste of time?

6 Common FAQ’s about Social Media from Small Business

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Navigating social media can be a confusing labyrinth of choices, especially for the small business owner who lacks time and money to dedicate to their Marketing activities. Social media isn’t a phase, it’s changed how people communicate and conduct business for the foreseeable future. Here are some of the most commonly asked questions from small businesses about how to use social media:

1) Why do I need to use Social Media?

Social Media has changed the way people communicate on Smartphones, Tablets, Laptops and PC’s. People communicating via social media have now surpassed the use of SMS text messaging which represents a huge shift in the way we communicate. In order to reach your audience, then you must communicate with them using the methods they use. There are literally billions of people of all ages using social media, so go find them.

2) I don’t know where to start

Always start with a plan. Write down your goals and objectives, form a strategy and implement that strategy through a well structured plan. Make your goals SMART – Specific, Measurable, Achievable, Realistic and Time-bound.

3) How much time should I spend on Social Media each day?

10-20 minutes in the morning and 10-20 minutes in the evening is all you need to keep on top of your social media strategy.

4) When should I post on Social Media?

Consider the lifestyle of your audience when thinking about what time of the day to send your posts. If you want to target people who work, send posts in the morning when people will be on their way to work and check their messages, at lunchtime and when they’re travelling home from work after 5pm.

If you want to target people who don’t work, post in mid-morning, mid-afternoon and mid-evening.
Test, test and test the times you post and measure the responses, or lack of. Find out what works for your business, industry and customers.

5) What Social Media platforms should I use?

Facebook is the obvious 1st choice with well over a billion users worldwide and this number is growing daily. As a business Facebook is an ideal platform to target your audience with excellent advertising options. People in the UK check their Facebook accounts on average 14 times a day.

Twitter is recommended to connect with your peers, prospects and customers and gives you access to information and news quicker than traditional news channels. With tweets limited to 140 characters you must learn to say what you want to using as few words as possible. People’s attention spans on social media and the internet is extremely short, mainly due to the vast amount of information available.

Pinterest is a visual platform used to upload and share photos of any subject you can think of. Women are by far the biggest users of Pinterest, whereas Google+ is more widely used by men. Google+ is widely tipped to be the social media channel to challenge Facebook in the next few years.

LinkedIn is a Business to Business social media channel and is more formal than others. LinkedIn is an excellent platform to connect with peers and network professionally.

Of course there are a multitude of other platforms, but these are some of the more widely used.

6) How much does Social Media cost?

For small organisations if you have little or no marketing budget then the only cost to you is your time AKA Sweat Equity. If you would like to increase your organisation’s exposure then consider Facebook advertising which can be extremely affordable and effective. This can cost as little as a few pounds a day.

This is not a definitive list of most commonly asked questions nor the list of possible answers provided. Always consider the context of your business, industry, customers, budget and time. If you plan, test and measure then you’re on the right track.

The Importance of a Database in Marketing for Micro-Businesses

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Who exactly is your customer? This is one question many small businesses struggle to answer. What age are they? Where do they come from? What are their characteristics & lifestyles? These are all fairly easy questions to answer, if you have a database.

The Importance of a Database

When someone enquires about your products/services via email, Facebook, your website or any other channel you’ll naturally respond to those people using the channel they made the enquiry from. You’re correct to respond to your customers using the channel they use, but it’s also important to collect as much information as possible about each individual person or company. If they phone you then ask for their email address, if they email you ask for their Facebook profiles. If you want to know who your customers are, then you must collect as much relevant details as possible so you can begin to understand exactly who your target market is. When I see an advert with only a phone number, it’s dead. Unless I need to call that company immediately their potential to sell to me has been lost. If that advert had a Facebook page, a website or email address then I can make an enquiry in my own time.

Database Benefits

The importance of capturing as much information as possible about your customers is essential to ensure future marketing activities are more relevant to the people who’re receiving them. With a richly populated database you will be able to understand:

• How much it’s cost you to generate a lead (Cost Per Lead)
• Cost Per Sale
• Conversion Ratios – Enquiries to Sales
• Customer trends & habits
• Your typical customer location
• Your typical customer demographics
• The typical lifestyles your customers share

Measurement & Segmentation

Measuring the effectiveness & ROI of your marketing efforts cannot be achieved unless you capture, store and utilise the information from your database. There’s no point in having details about your customers in a range of locations like a diary, email list, pieces of paper and social media accounts. Your customer details must be in one place so they’re easily accessible for speed and accuracy with the ability to collate and measure that data. From here you can target smaller segments of customers based on a range of variables and tailor marketing communications to those smaller more unique groups of people. See – Why Small Is Good in Segmentation.

What Database?

What database do I use? Good question to ask. There are a multitude of database options available for small businesses and using Microsoft Excel or Access is a good place to start. Once your database and company begins to grow then you might consider upgrading to paying for CRM (Customer Relationship Management) systems which will incorporate all your back office processes. CRM systems are advantageous over the likes of Excel & Access with superior capabilities, but it would be advisable to use simple free databases in the early stages of your business and reconsider your database options as you experience growth.

Don’t underestimate the importance and power of the database to your business, because from here you will truly be able to understand exactly who your customers are and how to reach them.

Why Small Is Good in Segmentation

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What is Segmentation?

Market segmentation is a marketing concept which is fairly easy to understand, just imagine an orange. The orange represents the entire market of potential customers, but within that orange there are various segments which basically divide those customers into smaller groups. Let’s take an example of a designer of women’s shoes. The shoes produced can be sold to any women, yet not all women will be the target market of the product. The style of shoes will appeal to a different age group, from different geographical locations each with different lifestyles. Instead of marketing the shoes to the entire orange, break down your target market into smaller segments to enable more effective and relevant communications.

Micro-Segmentation & Measurement

Micro-business and SME’s can make market segmentation a little easier by applying micro-segmentation. This is simply identifying your market (entire orange) then the individual segments (single orange segment) such as age, sex, address and lifestyle. Then you should analyse each segment in more depth where you can now target a certain age group in a smaller geographical area who share similar interests. Back to shoes for a moment, the shoe designer could target women age 20-30 within 5 miles of a city centre whom are all working professionals.

Measuring the effectiveness and ROI of a marketing campaign is much easier and more cost effective if you apply the concept of micro-segmentation, especially when advertising on social media. Take Facebook advertising as an example, if your target market is in Edinburgh; don’t launch an advert aimed at the entire population of Edinburgh. Launch more adverts aimed at a smaller micro-segment rather than launching an advert aimed at a wider market segment. Believe me, micro-segmentation is far easier to manage and most importantly measure the effectiveness of your marketing activities. Change each individual advert also, use a different picture, change the wording of your adverts or change the types of products/services being offered in your advert.

Applying Micro-Segmentation

All too often I see small businesses citing every single product and service they offer in a single advert by trying to be all things to all men, DON’T! If you want to measure the effectiveness of your marketing you must firstly address the issue of testing. Think about it, if your advert was sent out to everyone in Edinburgh then how do you know the breakdown of who your customers are and exactly where they live? Instead of sending an advert to a higher number of people, send a higher volume of slightly different adverts to micro-segments. For example if you send an advert to women age 20-25 within 1 mile of the city centre, and a similar advert to women aged 25-30 then you can now measure the impact and ROI of your marketing in more detail. Figure out what works and what doesn’t work and alter your marketing efforts accordingly.
Understanding the composition of an entire orange can be confusing, split your audience into micro-segments to gain a deeper understanding of your customers and the effectiveness of your marketing efforts. When it comes to segmentation – Small Is Good.