Tag Archive facebook

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Making all the right noises – using social media to support your customer service

Have you ever found the need to offer up a tweet of desperation, or Facebook post of frustration when a company fails to deliver on its promise or has caused you a problem?

I know I have.

Customer-Service

At the time of composing the message it can prove to be cathartic, setting out your ire and pointing it at the target you can get it off your chest, even in 140 characters.

But how does the company deal with your complaint? For me that is the true measure of a good organisation, its ability to respond. Did they get back to you swiftly, accurately noting your comments and responding appropriately? Or did they respond in their own sweet time and offer up an auto bot placation to hope you’ll go away? Worse still are those who just fail to respond leaving you to boil and find a way to escalate the issue with added justification.
If you’re running a business, any business, you must consider the way in which you can handle potential negative feedback. The rise in popularity of Tripadvisor has taught many restaurants and hotels that negative reviews can directly impact future business and positive feedback offer a reassurance and drive customers toward you.

With so many of us now connected on social networking platforms and becoming increasingly comfortable with the medium as a method of communication we cannot afford to overlook their impact.

These are the key tips for offering excellent customer service on social networking platforms;
• Make your company twitter and Facebook accounts clearly visible on your website
• Actively engage with those who “like” your Facebook page and “follow” you on twitter
• Monitor the social networks for references to your business and keywords associated with it;
o This can be done via Google alerts by setting up the keywords and having any reference e-mailed to you. Note: This can build in a time delay so should not be relied upon for real time responses.
o Use a social mention monitoring site to manage the references and keep up to date by having the alerts function activated.
o Sites worth considering; SocialMention.com, mention.net, social oomph, hootsuite, twilert.
o Take a look and see which suit your needs, twilert is good as it is simple and low cost and enables a free trial to assess the effectiveness for your business.
• When you receive a negative comment whatever you do don’t become defensive or aggressive
• Offer multiple channels for communication, tweet but take it private so DM (direct message), e-mail, phone or text.
• Respond quickly and consistently, if you don’t have an immediate answer let the customer know that you’re working on it.
• Don’t patronise or engage in chat that would be considered “too personal”
• Above all ensure those who are charged with handling frontline matters on social media understand the rules and are chosen for their interpersonal skills and client care focus.
• Don’t allow third parties to present themselves as “helpers” or “customer support”. Self-help through technical forums can be beneficial but taking that one step further exposes your business and brand to potential risk of damage through unauthorised comment and actions.

Its common sense, you may think, but just consider your own experience and how the big organisations often get it wrong. Mostly customers want to know they’re being listened to, offered a channel to communicate and be allowed to express a view. Of course not every complaint or query will be justified but by offering a sympathetic and proactive customer response via social media can significantly reduce the negativity and in many cases reverse the position entirely. If you’re not aware of the conversations on social media you run the risk of missing opportunity and being subject to unwarranted bad publicity.

If managing your customers via social media is something you want to explore in greater detail drop me a line.

David Laud

David.laud@i2isolutions.co.uk Twitter @davidlaud

Byadmin

Teenagers, Smartphones, Relationships & Privacy – David Laud on Radio 4’s Woman’s Hour

bbc-radio-4

i2i’s Managing Partner, David Laud, recently contributed to a discussion on Radio 4’s Woman’s Hour concerning the increased use of technology in the home and its impact on family privacy.

Click the link below to hear the clip

http://www.bbc.co.uk/programmes/p01b9r54

This brief discussion covers a growing domestic problem and highlights the need for parents to stay up to speed with social media platforms and the exchanges children are having.

David is interviewed by Radio 4’s Jenni Murray and joined by Ruth James who runs a blog to help parents with teenage children. http://survivingteenagers.co.uk/author/survivingteens/

Byadmin

A Question of Quality, Quantity, Quill-pushers, Quarrels and Quakes

Managing a Law Firm in Uncertain Times

My year has so far been a flurry of activity – clients seeking new initiatives to stave off the competition and the search for a bright torch to show the path through the darkness. The darkness cast over the legal profession impacting on a managing partner’s vision has been caused by a multitude of concerns;

• The regular announcements of new, SRA approved, dynamic alternative business structures (ABS’s).
• The spread of ineffectual but tempting branded “legal networks” seeing an opportunity to build a business on the fear of failure and their belief of strength in numbers.
• Government changes to Legal Aid removing such client support for key practice areas including Family.
• Further legislative changes to reduce Personal Injury fees via the Jackson Reforms.
• Changes to employment legislation and general job loss fears reducing the number of employment law matters.
• The property and construction markets flatlining.
• The Ministry of Justice removing claims referral companies as a source of new Personal Injury work.
• The regulatory body for firms in England & Wales – the Solicitors Regulatory Authority and their insistence on adding layers of bureaucracy through two new compliance officer roles.

And of course the ever present need to find enough fee income to pay for Practising Certificates and Professional Indemnity Insurance.

Add to this the pressure to invest in technology, talent and training and you have a series of seismic events that for many are leading to nasty rumbles if not catastrophic quakes within partnerships throughout the UK.

On the upside there are significant opportunities for law firms across most areas of the practice spectrum. Those opportunities are not in the same shape, colour and size as before. Clients are far more comfortable and capable accessing information online before deciding on contacting a lawyer. Clients now come pre-packed with knowledge and a revised expectation of what value your service is to them.

They also select their law firm or lawyer on criteria that has evolved to include recommendations but often accepting them from comments posted on web forums and increasingly social media. Twitter is now far more likely to be used to find an answer that will be acted upon than Google as responses are provided by a trusted network.

Firms that believe clients will still flood in because of their “long standing reputation”, “location”, “profile of senior partners” will find themselves falling further behind as competition increases. This will be ever more apparent in firms who have failed to implement Customer Relationship Management (CRM) solutions to enable a meaningful ongoing interaction with existing clients.

Well that’s a bright and cheery view. I make no apology; it is the reality of managing a modern law firm in 2013. To be successful, a legal practice like any other business needs to grow through innovation; understanding of customer needs, a clearly articulated vision and quality execution of service.

After 5+ years of recession we can be excused for feeling tired, battered and lacking that vital spark to revitalise the business but now is the time to do it.

If any of the points above are a current concern to your business and you would like to discuss please email in confidence to david.laud@i2isolutions.co.uk or call 08456 446624 to arrange an initial meeting.

Byadmin

How Many Social Media “Experts” Does It Take To Turn On A Lightbulb?

We’re all under pressure for one reason or another. This ever developing technology has not delivered its promise of greater leisure time and standards of living; well not for most of us anyway. Instead we’re expected to task like a multi armed, dextrous ninja; responding to e-mails, calls, texts, skype and of course schedule in good old fashioned face to face interaction.

No surprise then that I’m often met with a more than cynical sneer when its suggested that a business owner take some of that valuable time and engage in or make more resource available to develop their social media presence.

I get it. I truly do understand that the thought of “tweeting” baffles and bewilders, facebook’s not for everyone and Linkedin, whilst appearing more suited to the business professional; is not easy to see how you benefit.

Too many evangelical so called social media “experts” have fallen in love with the various platforms and the ego trip of growing followers, connections and responses and forgotten that for most they’re not seen as essential in the battle to grow their company. There’s an awareness of the staggering demographic statistics but not how they can be used to benefit a business.

Many of my clients are very sharp individuals who’ve typically built successful businesses by meeting the needs of a targeted customer base. They’ve kept a step ahead of the competition, invested in their company and know their business inside out.

They also have no fear in challenging the call to join the social media bandwagon. They didn’t succeed by following a flock but they’re curious enough to ask the direct questions everyone should pose to a new medium.

How does it work? What are the benefits? What are the costs? Who needs to be involved? Where are the opportunities? And my favourite which covers all the aforementioned, Why should we do it?

If practical answers to these key questions are not forthcoming it’s unlikely the business owners will engage, and who would blame them?

Each business is unique and no one solution can possibly “fit all” which is why my advice is qualified by researching the specific sector, understanding the issues and the behaviours of customer groups and industry influencers.

We’ve now experienced over ten years of social media activity, it continues to move very rapidly yet within this timeframe you can find a multitude of examples where companies have positivley engaged with their customers. These examples are quantifiable, real and very often prove to be the “lightbulb moment” for MD’s VP’s CEO’s Directors and Partners especially if it’s a business operating in the same sector if not a direct competitor.

From Insurance and Aflac running an XFactor styled voice talent competition to Airlines and KLM’s “meet and seat” facebook campaign.

Of course it’s not just big businesses that can afford to make the most of social media and most towns, sectors and networks have their own shining examples of “best practice”.

We strongly believe in encouraging ownership and participation “in house” to develop the understanding, not outsourcing social media activity to third parties.

As professional marketers our objective should be to build confidence for our clients and employers through practical planning, suitable resourcing and measurement; all prepared as a specific project helping to make best use of everyone’s time. Social media’s a serious business development tool but we should make sure we factor in time for some fun too.

If you’d like more information or arrange an initial consultation please drop me a line david.laud@i2isolutions.co.uk

David Laud – i2i Business Solutions LLP

David Laud
Partner
i2i Business Solutions LLP

Byadmin

Real-Time Re-election and Re-tweets

As Barack Obama appeared through the huge curtains at the Chicago Convention Centre his smile said it all, the crowd nevertheless said it for him, over and over again, a little like a re-tweet, “four more years, four more years….”.

With the economy far from recovery and very tough times forecast the US electorate have remained faithful to the Democratic Presidential incumbent.

Obama’s feisty Republican opponent, Mitt Romney had but one task, admit defeat gracefully and in a very public address he did just that.

No doubt the networks will be poring over the multitude of statistical data that such events spew out but for me there is one clear set of statistics that left me in no doubt of the outcome.

The evidence was part of our modern history.

In the Spring of 2011 a political wave started, initially overlooked by those in power. All too soon their underestimate of the strength of this wave became apparent due in no small part to the turbo charge push of social media platforms.

But four years before the Arab Spring, back in early 2007, a relatively unknown senator was running for president against Democratic nominee and household name, Hilary Clinton. But on November 4, 2008, Obama then 47 became the first African American President winning an election against Republican candidate, John McCain.

Mr Obama turned to social media platforms to gather support, raise funds and engage with volunteers the essential foot soldiers of any successful campaign.

Fast forward to the US election of 2012. Presidential wannabe Romney was trying hard to compete on twitter, facebook and Linkedin but unfortunately for the Republicans he was up against an opponent who is a natural social media communicator with a team of dedicated experts supporting his social media broadcasts.

Enough of this blogging rhetoric what about the facts?

On Twitter Mitt Romney has a respectable 1.7 million followers and has made 1,350 tweets. But just compare that to Barack Obama’s 22.7 million followers and 8,000 tweets.

As if those figures weren’t bad enough Michelle Obama has more followers than Mitt at a very healthy 2.2 million.

On Facebook Mitt has worked hard to match Barack but even his 12.1 million page likes pale compared to the re-elected presidents 32.8 million page likes with over 3.5 million actively talking about the content.

Google Plus – smaller numbers, but we’d guess at that. Obama 2.3 million +1’s with Romney less than half at 1 million +1’s.

Of course it’s not all about the numbers but if your message is being broadcast at those levels through these channels you have a major advantage, especially if your demographic fits the profile of the more active social media users.

As if to prove the point Obama’s victory tweet showing his embrace with wife Michelle and the quote “four more years” is now the most re-tweeted tweet of all time, so far RT’d over 650,000 times beating someone called Justin Bieber (you know who he is you just don’t want to admit it – ed) who’d held the record at 223,000.

Whether it proves to be the right decision for America only time will tell but one thing’s for sure, if a politician has any serious ambition they need to understand and harness the true strength of social media.

David Laud – Marketing Consultant
i2i Business Solutions LLP

e-mail me at david.laud@i2isolutions.co.uk follow me on twitter @davidlaud

“like” our Facebook page http://www.facebook.com/i2isolutions

Byadmin

How to be Smarter with your Smartphone

Smartphone sales indicate that we’re now far more likely to have one of these technological marvels than not. Be it an iphone, HTC, Samsung, Google or other wannabe market leader they all offer a range of tools that take us way beyond “making a call”.

Recent research by Samsung indicated that making a call ranks 5th or lower in the list of things we do with our devices taking only 12 minutes a day on the task that was the original purpose of the mobile.

These days we would far rather browse the net, check our social media feeds, play games or listen to music but what else can these treasures of technology do for us?

If you’re on the go, often out of the office and need to stay in touch then it’s likely you’ve synched your work e-mail to the Smartphone.

Perhaps you’re responsible for making an impact with social media for your business. Couldn’t be easier to download the LinkedIn, Facebook, YouTube, Twitter apps and post on the move. They don’t all offer the same functionality as the PC based version but the convenience and immediacy of of posting and reading feeds whilst out of the office can be invaluable, especially if you’re using twitter or Facebook to monitor customer feedback.

Being mobile can create problems when trying to find venues for events, meetings etc.. No need to worry if you’ve a good map app connected and your location broadcast function is enabled on the phone. You can trace your progress on foot, in the car (if safely cradled and not in your hand) or on the train and even ask for a route to determine the time it will take.

Sharing information with colleagues and clients might be important to you but a problem if the all important project document sits on your office network. Fear not, cloud based services such as Dropbox can allow sharing of folders or links to specific documents with a few well placed taps.

If your life is so hectic you feel you’re not keeping up with the business world and areas that may affect you and your company I’d suggest revisiting the good old podcast. Finding the time to read trade journals, newspapers and magazines can be hard. These days there are a multiude of very informative and professionally produced podcasts. From wake up to money to the bottom line, most BBC business related radio broadcasts ara available to download and easy to subscribe to. Using the Smartphone as an aural digital box can be very handy. Listen to the podcast while commuting and get back in the know.

Perhaps like me you have the odd idea, recall of something that must be done or just want to put it in writing. You can use your Smartphone as a digital notebook recorder. Voice memos, notes and also software such as Dragon can allow you to talk to the device and have your words appear in document form which can then be saved, e-mailed or linked to social media. It can take a bit of practice.

On the subject of voice recognition a word of warning – you can look very silly having an argument with Apple’s “Siri” when it refuses to understand your command for the 6th time. Especially if you’re sitting in traffic apparently shouting at your dashboard. On a serious note Apple’s Siri – IOS.6 introduced a new array of functions and it’s expected to become the lead in voice recognition instruction leading to users asking for and relying upon responses directly from their phone. Google beware!

Our Smartphone’s have become almost indispensable items and as we learn to use more of their functionality and apps improve it’s very likely that the humble PC will take an even bigger step into the dark corner of the office.

Of course the beauty of these devices is that hey go beyond the pure work tool, they’re part of our every day. Hear a piece of music in an advert and want to know what it is? Just rewind and use your Shazam app. Miss the latest BBC drama just click on the BBC iPlayer app and you can catch up. Want to watch the match but you’re stuck on the train? Apps like SkyGo allow for immediate real time access to your subscribed channels.

On holiday you can get the Smartphone to translate menus and of course take high definition pictures or video which can be instantly uploaded and shared via social media apps. Looking for a coffee shop or cafe for lunch, the geo-location platforms such as FourSquare can help pinpoint the nearest offer and top tip.

Can they become addictive?….Oh yes, which is why it’s a good idea to have a schedule where you ensure its put to rest. Over use of the Smartphone can lead to sleepless nights, sore eyes and headaches let alone the ergonomic issues of thumb and finger use and a less gadget obsessed partner feeling jealous of the attention given to it and not them. I guess we’re not too far away from a gadget being cited as the other party in a divorce petition.

On balance they are proving to be far more help than hindrance but they shouldn’t be allowed to get in the way of a good old fashioned conversation, with eye contact and your mobile on “silent”.

If you’ve got an app suggestion that others might find useful let me know and we’ll share.

David Laud

David.laud@i2isolutions.co.uk

Byadmin

Like for Like – Facing Up to Facebook

My daughters and in fact now my son, all teenagers, would be more than happy to tell you that I’m no expert on the world’s largest social media platform.

Compared to them and I suspect the vast majority of the teenage user demographic my personal posts would look rather tame, dare I say boring but then I’m not trying to connect to that age group. I do have a few family and friends who fall into the sub 20 category and they politely comment or “like” the odd post as I in turn return the compliment.

All very civilised, and that’s how I like my Facebook but I’m acutely aware that many have a very different view of the site and use it for baring their souls or at the very least the pain of their morning hangover. Facebook can also encourage narcissistic behaviour, posed photos craving “likes”, surveys to re-enforce your view of your personality or who of your friends think you’re the best looking…”Pleeeaasse!!!” save me from this.

Back to the matter in hand my challenge as a marketer is to try and understand all communication mediums and see how they best apply and work for not only my own personal use but in a business context too. Facebook presents the biggest challenge for many businesses.

Sure, Lee Cooper, Amex, Red Bull and many others have very slick Facebook pages and are making the medium work by adding multi layered engagement programmes which include clever competitions and “like” fests. These multi million dollar corporations can and do spend to develop these campaigns but can we learn anything from their efforts, can a Facebook page help your business?

The simple answer is “yes” if the true objective to having such a presence and the audience to whom you wish to connect is clearly understood.

On my personal Facebook page I’m not interested in building a “friend base” of hundreds, (I don’t have that many friends 🙁 ) its purpose is to help me stay connected with close family, friends and an alumni offering a varied and entertaining news feed. For my part I hope to add value to their feeds through my posts…sad as they may be according to the Laud clan.

When it comes to business or personal profiles we should really apply a similar philosophy. You know who you want to engage with, the messages that you want to share and the response you’re hoping to gain.

Despite my earlier negative jibe the Facebook “like” is solid social media currency. By creating an interesting, funny, poignant post that resonates with your network you can build a bank of “likes” and even better if it stimulates readers to comment back.

Unfortunately this clammer to be “liked” has led to a proliferation of cause related posts. A good friend likened them to a type of “chain letter” which is an excellent analogy given the implication that not liking the particular post meant you were by definition taking the opposing view. So therefore ignoring these posts meant you liked cancer, bullying, mistreating small dogs and generally suggested you change your username to Voldemort. All complete and utter nonsense yet many of us do click “like” on these posts and gain a little sense of community in feeling part of a group taking a stand against a particularly offensive topic.

So no I’m not an expert but then I’ve yet to meet a true expert in any social media platform. They move too quickly to be tied down analysed and given a de facto conclusion on how to use them. We all use Facebook in slightly different ways, there is no single correct way but there are plenty of poor examples.

For business or personal pages my advice is to be clear as to your purpose, keep the audience in mind and be consistent with your message. Don’t be disheartened by the lack of response to a particular post, in offline life there’s many a time friends would groan rather than laugh at my jokes. The key is consistency and believing in yourself. Of course we are all slightly different in a relaxed social setting than we are at work. The same approach should apply.

Facebook isn’t Linkedin but the business page won’t be enhanced by the type of content you’d normally deliver to your friends. An edge of professionalism touched with an element of fun is where I find my Facebook business page personality. I’d like to think that’s not a million miles away from how I am physically at work. Easier to be true to your own personality or culture of the business than to try and reinvent yourself for each social media platform.

By being consistent across platforms you’ll gain respect and understanding from a multitude of networks.

If you’re just starting out with Facebook for your business please feel free to drop me a line or comment and let me know how you’re approaching it. Be great to hear of a variety of ideas.

To find us on Facebook go to http://www.facebook.com/i2isolutions

David Laud – Chartered Marketer FCIM

Byadmin

Take the Screen Test to See if You’re Addicted to Apps

Does this sound familiar? You settle down to relax after a days work, the TV is as usual on and turning out the usual “reality” fest of low grade entertainment. Out of courtesy you check what your partner/family/ friends would prefer to watch, hoping you can for once agree but… when you look around the room you notice all fellow inhabitants are glued to the screen. No not the 40 inch flat screen in the corner but the 2.5 inch by 3 inch version held in the hand.

Are we becoming obsessed by our smartphones? You might think so if you, like me, play dodge the teenager on the high street as they walk along in a somnambulistic style, hypnotised by their device unable to look up and see who they’re about to collide with.

But is it the device or something else that’s causing this epidemic? The smartphones provide a portal to a new and exciting world but the true cause of our preoccupation are the various applications that live on these instruments.

Just before you think I’m taking the high ground I need to confess to my own weaknesses. Yes, I too have an addiction to the touch screen world. For me it started with my first iphone and has developed as I’ve been able to run my world through it. Well, perhaps more accurately it runs me.

I can break the problem down to 4 main areas of activity that can quickly become an addictive.

1. Checking e-mail
2. Checking text messages (it’s quite worrying how many drivers I see texting while driving!)
3. Checking social media sites for likes, mentions and comments
4. Games

Yes I tend to check my e-mail too often which is not helped by the multiple accounts and spam. There have also been a couple of recent examples of sudden onset addiction brought about by a newly downloaded app.

A problem with my broadband connection led to me downloading the “speedtest” app. Let’s just say I become rather too obsessed with download and upload speeds for a couple of weeks.

The other time thief is the analytical tools I have to measure social media activity. Yes I have too many sites but then its my job to keep abreast of these platforms. But my love/hate relationship with Klout is unhealthy and it’s time for the “it’s me not you, I need some time to work things out” break up conversation.

I do use a very large number of social media sites but I don’t think I’m unusual in the time I spend with my smartphone. Not unusual by the benchmark of the average user but that’s because we’ve become used to having our devices with us constantly.

It can’t be good for us to become obsessed and addicted to anything despite the attraction and apparent benefits of the developing technology. How much time can we fritter away on Angry Birds, Temple Run, Instagram (perfecting the image through photo apps), Linkedin group exchanges, Facebook babble, Tweets and RT’s, celebrity face matching…you get the idea.

But perhaps we should test our resolve and see how much of a problem we have. Here’s the “Screen Test” challenge. Pick one day this week and have 24 hours without access to your phone, tablet or smart device.

I did this recently and will now be making a habit of it as that day proved to be one of my most productive for quite some time.

Things you can do….

1. Catch up with industry/ local news by reading magazines
2. Plan ahead – your forthcoming week, month, year
3. Get creative and think of how you might make better use of your time and when you do have access to the device how you can take back control.
4. Arrange to meet that contact who you’ve been meaning to catch up with for months.

The technology is great but it’s still only a tool to be used effectively and not something that should dominate our lives. Just take the “Screen Test” and let me know how it was for you.

David Laud

Byadmin

Social Media – Are You Feeling the Love?

Are You Feeling the Love of Social Media?

You’ve followed the advice, created the accounts, sent out the messages, uploaded the links, shared photos and pointed followers and friends to your blog and even taken the time to comment regularly on topical business matters on Linkedin.

So why isn’t it working?  Why doesn’t anyone retweet you, or comment on your blog and like your updates?  It’s an experience shared by colleagues and you’re fast coming to the conclusion that social media is just yet another overhyped fad that will soon wither on the marketing vine.

OK, I hear the frustration and to be frank it’s not an uncommon situation. I often meet with business owners who have struggled to justify time and resource on developing a social media presence and in desperation and a last throw of the dice seek to hand the responsibility completely over to a third party………STOP! Don’t do it.

I appreciate that there is a nice little industry being created for those who can operate social media accounts for others and whilst I’m all for free enterprise it’s not really the point of social media, having someone else talk your talk. Above all social media is about making “real” connections not just making a noise.

But where does that leave the business?  Technically following the correct course of action but just not finding any benefit let alone an audience.

Presented with this problem I prescribe the following;

  1. Audit your social media accounts by asking a few key questions
    1. Who are you connected to?
    2. Who is active within your networks?
    3. What messages are being broadcast?

The building of a network that offers you a rich source of quality content to which you can participate is always a good start.  It may be that those who you are connected to are themselves not very active.  So unwittingly you’ve created a network that as like a party where you’ve invited all the local agoraphobics, it’s not that they don’t like you it’s just that they are struggling to connect too. 

  1. Take a good look at the messages you’re broadcasting and the objectives you have within the business.  It can often be a case that you’re either trying too hard or not hard enough.  As a rule of thumb and to balance the interactions on a platform such as Twitter I recommend 1 business tweet in every 6.  That can include 2 retweets, a reply to someone else’s comment and a couple of general items on the news or points of interest.  Then you can introduce something that relates to your business objective.  Don’t however “oversell”. Social media users are not usually very responsive to the hard sell; actually I’m not sure many of us are in any medium. 
  2. Consider taking a lateral approach.  Now this may well be where your creative agency or consultant can earn their corn. Finding a point of interest that can generate response to your content but not directly “selling” is a good way to build trust and further connections. 

You want an example?  Of course you do….here’s 3

UStechnology company Best Buy introduced a new service for their customers who used twitter.  They created a “Twelpforce” which included staff across all stores who were able to log in and assist customers by responding rapidly to their tech related queries via twitter.  It works like a dream.  Whilst not selling product directly it has had a very positive impact on the brand and has resulted in increased sales.

I can’t claim credit for the genius idea of the “Twelpforce”  but I have initiated a couple of simple ideas, a seasonal photo competition using a TV weather presenter as a judge which has created significant increase in the company brand and awareness on social media sites.  The competition is promoted on Facebook, Flickr, Twitter, LinkedIn.

My most recent idea uses Valentines Day and the offer of a free card and personal message.  This has just launched but has already created significant interest through Facebook where we have created a specific advert and twitter where positive feedback has already been noted.

See here for more information: http://www.samuelphillips.co.uk/news.asp?NewsID=61

As you’ll see from the above examples the idea doesn’t need to have an obvious link to your business.  The key is to make connections, build trust, have fun and let your network realise that you’d be a good organisation to do business with.

If you’ve got an example of your own let’s hear about it.

If you would like the Valentine Card just e-mail me at david.laud@i2isolutions or text “Law of Love” to 82010

Feeling the love yet?  😉

 David Laud

Byadmin

Measure for measure, tweet for tweet

If you’ve embraced social media in your business you might not have yet considered how to check to see if your efforts are making a return.

Of course the obvious signs are followers who buy from you or make recommendations about you to others but how do you get to to the point where your network is working for you?

Many who try and become exasperated with social media are under the false impression that success can be achieved in a matter of days or a few weeks.  Of course it doesn’t work like that.  Building an effective and interactive network of trusted contacts takes time. Those “instant network builder” solutions should be ignored in favour of a steady and considered approach to sourcing the network and hopefully followers who can offer mutual benefit.

Most businesses using social media are SME’s and have geographically or sector specific audiences to whom they would like to connect.  The Starbucks or Dell level of followers should not necessarily be the goal unless your business is truly looking to broadcast to a very wide and eclectic audience and expecting them to watch for your every message, probably not very realistic.

Now with that well developed network in place and growing steadily but not exponentially its time to re-assess the true impact of your efforts.  Our recommendation is to check in with apps that can analyse across a number of platforms, one such tool is www.Klout.com . This site can track your impact on twitter, Facebook, LinkedIn, Instagram, FourSquare, YouTube, tumblr, Flickr, Last.FM and now Google+ so leaves very little out.

Klout works out a score based upon three complimentary sets of analytical criteria.

1. True Reach is simply the actual verified number of people who you influence when boadcasting via social media. Spam is filtered out to ensure that the results reflect actual activity. It is the audience who tend to respond when you post a message.

2. Amplification, as it suggests it refers to the increase in your influence through a message being spread via your network. If your content generates a good level of responses it will rank highly on amplification.

3. Network refers to the influence of your network as identified in True Reach.  If you receive responses from and sharing from leading influential accounts it will increase your Network score.

By regularly checking the scores you can identify progress with your social media activity and begin to set this against the more obvious physical responses via the various platforms such as mentions and re-tweets on twitter, comments on Linkedin or “likes” on Facebook.

There are other applications which can help you analyse your social media effectiveness.

Twitalyzer http://www.twitalyzer.com offers useful analysis of your twitter account and ranking in relation to your competitors and peers.

Peer Index  http://www.peerindex.net can provide a very detailed analysis of your account profile.

The key is not to become too wrapped up in the numbers or the multitude of analysis apps as they can often contradict each other.  What is required is an objective assessment of your businesses impact through its use of social media to provide sufficient information to allow you to then take steps to improve effectiveness through connectivity and network interaction.

David Laud, Partner i2i Business Solutions LLP –

author of Social Media Marketing for Law Firms

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Lights, Camera, Action! – How to Make Social Media Perform For Your Firm

Listening to professional service firms across the UK, I hear time and time again of their frustration with social media.

“I just don’t get it, everyone talks about it but no one has the time to do it, even when I do spend time on it I’m not really sure what I’m doing.” Views that may well resonate in your firm. But what is the answer?

You have five main options:-

1. If you haven’t started just don’t bother

2. If you have made an attempt, opened the odd twitter, facebook or linkedin account, stop right now and do no more

3. Hire someone to do your donkey work and outsource your social media activity

4. Instruct all fee earners to embrace social media and open a variety of accounts, throwing your firm head long into all things “social”

5. Introduce a workable approach to using the most appropriate platforms for your firm by setting a plan and working to it

With so many people, businesses, clients, competitors actively involved in social media can you afford to “not bother?” You may well be frustrated by the lack of response to your initial efforts but it’s like trying to drive a car in a busy town centre without having had a lesson, scary and likely to put you off getting behind a wheel forever.

Getting someone else to drive your activity may well be a good way to start but ultimately most platforms require a personality and connection that would be hard to replicate and pretenders are often quickly found out. However compelling the sales pitch and attractive the thought of delegating tweets to third parties, it’s not the way to grow a trusted network.

As for the stick theory, demanding fee earners to “just do it” will result in some activity but for many it will be with reluctance and without effective training, plans or analysis, it will engender a widerspread feeling of hopelessness and confusion.

So that leaves option 5, it seems and is, a sensible approach but that short line of a few words does no more than sentence the one charged with making it happen to a period in solitary where they’ve nothing to do but work out “what the hell do we do about this social media malarkey?”

That in a nutshell is the problem – advice is cheap but effective action is priceless. The added complication is that in general, those working within the professional sector like certainty, don’t like taking risks, however well calculated, and this new communication medium seems fraught with danger.

On the upside there’s no shortage of help out there but a word of caution, not all who speak with marketing tongue can walk the social media walk.  Alterian’s annual survey of 1,500 marketers, agencies and consultants last year identified that amazingly a third didn’t understand how to manage social media. A staggering 70% were simply not reporting on its effectiveness to senior management or clients.  So beware the sales pitch

The reasons to strive to understand the medium remain compelling. The statistics ever impressive with millions of “friends” “followers” and contacts to “link to” we ignore social media at our peril and risk being left far behind.

A few mind bending stats that suggest social media is far from a fad or momentary medium used by niche groups:- 

  • Linkedin – Launched 2002, 90 million members, 200 countries, 5m in the UK
  • WordPress – Launched 2003, latest version of the website downloaded 32.5m, 13% of the World’s top 1m websites use WordPress
  • Facebook – Launched 2004, 500 million users, 48% 18-34yrs, av. 130 friends (big rise in 35+ users)
  • FlickR – Launched 2004, 5bn photos, 50 million accounts,
  • YouTube – Launched 2005, 490m users, av. user 20 minutes per day,
  • Twitter – Launched 2006, 190 million accounts, 55 million tweets per day
  • Foursquar – Launched 2009, 381,576,305 check ins 2010 

If your fear is it’s already too late DON’T PANIC, there is still time for new joiners or those who’ve just scratched the surface to quickly seize the initiative.  The truth is that a large number of professional service firms have leapt to join in but not truly understood the potential of the various social media platforms. Trust in your instincts and apply the same level headed approach to this marketing discipline as you would to any other.  The focus is all about the conversation, the connection and the trusted network you can build within which, on occasion, you can introduce messages that promote the practice and the people who deliver your services. 

I view social media marketing as an altenative form of broadcasting.  You have multiple channels, a wide variety of potential audiences and no shortage of material to consider to put “on air”. 

Consider your twitter strategy with this broadcast analagy in mind.  Which of your fee earners will be tweeting, what is their ideal audience, how best can you hope to engage with that target, what source of material could be of interest and how frequently do you want to send a message promoting the firm or specific service? 

Very few of us want to watch a channel that is 100% adverts.  But we will tune in to a broadcaster offering interesting comments, observations, news and support and interactivity within the network.  Our rule is generally one promotional tweet to every six offering alternative content. 

Please don’t worry about how you become a trusted, entertaining broadcaster.  The vast majority of twitter accounts are run by ordinary people who have simply spent time understanding the language, tone and appropriateness of the medium.  There is no short cut alternative to gaining experience of social media platforms.  Many so called specialists in the field can offer advice and training but there is no substitute for getting your “hands on” and starting the process. 

This is marketing as a truly participative event, no arms length seminar, newspaper column or e-mail campaign.  Here you are engaging in a direct manner and developing not only your firms brand by adopting a social media strategy, but critically establishing yourself as a brand that your network can trust and call upon for advice. 

Ready for your close up?  Don’t worry no make up required, well not until you establish your YouTube channel. 

David Laud FCIM, Chartered Marketer Twitter @davidlaud  LinkedIn http://uk.linkedin.com/in/davidlaud

Managing Partner – i2i Business Solutions LLP – Marketing Consultancy for Professional Service Firms

& CEO of Samuel Phillips Law Firm

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Making Connections – There’s a Limit So Make Them Count

I’m a big fan of social media in all it’s forms; they’re great tools to help keep you in touch and connected to a wide circle of friends, colleagues, contacts and acquaintances.

Online or offline there's a limit to true relationship numbers

But apparently there’s a limit to how many people we, as humans, can physically maintain valuable inter-personal relationships with. At the risk of getting all anthropological with you, it is actually a key factor in our effectiveness to communicate and being aware of our limitations should help in our approach to all forms of networking including social media.

The science behind this is a calculation known as Dunbar’s number. It’s the limit to the number of people who we can keep regular social relationships with. So what’s the magic number?

Professor Robin Dunbar http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Dunbar’s_number has theorized that the number of inter-personal relationships we can maintain falls between 100 and 230. Quite a range but the quantity of quality relationships we can maintain is predominantly governed by the size of our neocortex. This is the part of the brain responsible for managing communication.

The introduction of social networking tools has been suggested as a method of growing an individuals Dunbar number however there is a flaw in this argument. Whilst they may increase our ability to communicate with an ever wider audience they don’t provide the time or platforms to build meaningful relationships.

True social relationships require a little more than a cursory tweet or facebook post. If you analyse your most regular interractions on these sites you’ll typically find the same “friendly faces” responding. Although an exchange on Twitter does not count as a true stable social relationship to qualify for a Dunbar point it is a start.

Getting involved in Twitter, LinkedIn and Facebook can enable us to build a better understanding of how we are developing new tools to communicate, perhaps enabling more of us to realize our Dunbar limit. But for those of us looking at social media for a return on investment for our business will we simply be acquiring followers or making truly effective connections? Perhaps we should simply accept that we all have our limits and if that’s 100 or 200 so be it. The true power of the social media phenomenon is not how many individuals we have following, connecting or friending us, it’s the collective interactivity of multiple networks.

Malcolm Gladwell’s “Tipping Point” makes frequent references to how ideas and products catch on by this use of social group dynamics and the manner in which information transmits throughout a group. Just look at the way in which Facebook users have turned their profile pictures to cartoons. The core message began in November in Greece, and has been translated and tweaked to become a global trend – it taps into a desire to show solidarity against the abuse of children and the fun element of associating yourself with a favourite cartoon. A win win in social media trend terms but all generated by a multitude of networks with key drivers within “spreading the word”.

As a marketer my challenge is to find a voice and a message for myself and clients that interacts with chosen networks adding real value. When we then have a key message to relay we have a far greater chance of success and opportunity for the message to travel beyond these known networks.

So rather than being disheartened with the news that we have limitations when it comes to the number of stable relationships we can form; we should embrace this truth and seek quality in our groups.   Why would we want to spend valuable time building relationships with people who are just not likely to “tune in” to our message, get our humour or recommend our services?

David Laud

i2i business solutions llp