Why your Twitter Username is a Valuable Asset

Many brands nowadays are turning to Twitter to create awareness, engagement and interest around their offering. However, when setting up a Twitter presence, the username you choose is of such great importance. I personally feel that your Twitter username is just as an important asset as your employees or your products or your office, as your Twitter handle is one of the gateways to your online presence.

This makes getting first to your username crucial, as whenever someone mentions you in a Tweet or wants to find you on Twitter, having the correct and relevant username is essential. This is a kind of survival of the fittest in Twitter username terms, as if someone grabs your Twitter handle before you, it’s a social media disaster!

The best example of this has to be one of  the UK’s leading retailers John Lewis, and the problem they’ve had with their Twitter username. John Lewis’ Twitter handle is @JohnLewisRetail, meaning they don’t have the username @JohnLewis. This is held by a man from America…called, ironically John Lewis. His Twitter is @JohnLewis. It was reported back in November that he gets Tweets daily from John Lewis customers praising him or asking him questions about their products, services and stores. However, rather than ignoring them or getting annoyed, he replies to all of them individually pointing them in the direction of @JohnlewisRetail, the account they intended to Tweet to. What a great guy!!!

But this illustrates that John Lewis, the retailer, may have missed a trick and potentially they don’t get as much engagement as they could as many mistake @JohnLewis for them. Whereas, if they have John Lewis, the person’s Twitter username surely it’s easier for people to find and or Tweet them?!

So this I think supports the point that having an appropriate Twitter username is so important and should be seen as a valuable asset for brands.

Thanks for reading and please feel free to comment. For more digital marketing news and articles please follow this blog and my Twitter @DigitalStuart

The development of social media in companies

Imagine the situation. A company sets up a Twitter account, follows some well-known or relevant accounts, then posts a status saying ‘Hello World, First Tweet’, might then send one saying what they offer and might even send a third one with a link to the website. Then they gradually leave it and let the follower count increase and ‘bang’ you’re now a social company. But of course we all know that just setting up a new social media account doesn’t make you the social strategist of the century.

This attitude to social media has now long gone as companies now realise that just doing that is a recipe for social media failure. It’s been amazing to see that only over the past few years how much social media in companies has changed and the opinion of it has grown dramatically.

I remember attending a social media conference last year full of accountants, lawyers and finance professionals who were absolutely blown away by what they were seeing. How can a Facebook page bring me business or leads? Can people actually ask me questions about my products or services online? The room was awash with so much excitement and surprise of how powerful social media was.I then attended another conference with social media professionals a few weeks later and the difference you can imagine when talking to people was incredible. As there I was hearing stories of companies having 300 people in the social media team which blew MY mind this time.

Social media used to be something that maybe the marketing manager would set up and update on the odd occasion. If they fancied it they might reply to a few comments too. But then we got to the stage of having a specialist social media guy to come in and do it. This might have been an intern. Still not much attention paid to it.

Fast forward a few years and it’s remarkable the amount of planning and detail that now goes into social media. We now have actual social media budgets. Money set aside for social media campaigns whether that’s promoted posts or Facebook ads. We now have people coming up with strategies for social media, and how general marketing campaigns can be supported by social, and how social drives those campaigns to success. Community managers create content calendars weeks in advance to plan out what they’re going to post. They also reply to every comment or mention received, rather than ignoring. We don’t just register the number of followers we have, we now analyse the entire follow base, what their interests are, where they’re based, how they interact with the brand and the engagement rates content gets.

A social media team is now essential for any large company that’s taking social media seriously. The team includes community managers, strategists, analysts, buyers and planners. It’s now a whole department in its own right, just like a marketing, HR or finance department. Social media will no longer just be ‘within marketing’. But now a separate entity on its own. So with a whole team of social media people, the investment in it has grown, something unimaginable a few years back when a marketing manager ran a Twitter account on their own.

The future of social media within companies I think is only going to grow even more. Next you will probably see community managers or strategists for specific networks, such as Twitter strategist or an Instagram community manager. Added to this is companies now allocating more and more funds to social media away from outdoor or traditional media. Why invest in a billboard that will be seen by thousands of people over a day, when a social media campaign can be seen by that amount in a second and millions in total.

So it’ll be very interesting reviewing this blog post in five years time to see where social media within companies has gone. For now though its showing no signs of slowing down!

Thanks for reading and please feel free to share your thoughts. For more digital marketing and social media stories and updates, please follow this blog or me on Twitter @DigitalStuart.

How to get a job in Social Media

If you’ve ever looked at your favourite brand on Twitter and thought that you’d love to update their account and work within social media, then I’m going to provide some useful tips to help you that job! My advice and tips are based on over two years of experience within social media, firstly as a social media intern during my placement year at university, then as a Social Media Manager for a leading charity drinks brand and now as a Community Manager for one of the biggest drinks brands in the world. Although I’m only 24 having worked for over a couple of years, and been in the process twice of searching for a social media role, I’ve gained quite a bit of experience already!

One of the biggest and most obvious things is relevant experience within social media, marketing, PR, media or digital. If you don’t have any experience within these fields you’re likely to not get through the CV screening phase. Even if your role is an editor on a website or marketing assistant or a copywriter, you’ve got essential skills already for a social media role.

One thing that annoys me is people that think anyone can run a social media account for a business. Time after time you’ll see people apply for social media roles based on the fact ‘they use social media everyday’. I mean yes being a social media manager for instance requires that you use social media, but the fact you update your own Twitter account or post pics of food on your Instagram means NOTHING when it comes to applying for a social media role. Some people assume because they spend their entire life on social media, they could quite easily run a multinationals social media channels. But as we know that’s far from the truth.

So experience is so crucial if you want to get into a social media role. If you’ve left college or university and want to get into social media, try to get a social media internship at a small brand or local business. You’re more likely to get a role within a small business if you use social media in your personal life than a larger brand. An internship is a start as this gets you crucial social media skills like coming up with creative content for a brands platform, updating an account and engaging with an audience. My first role was a social media intern. and for the first 4 months it was unpaid, so there’s nothing wrong with that at all. Experience for me is more important than earning money when you have a CV that’s quite empty.

Also having a relevant degree can help you get into a social media role quicker, as you’ve already picked up some skills within that education. So any degree whether that’s Media, Business Management or Journalism is useful for a social media role. This will get you through the CV screening for sure.

it’s very important if you want to get into social media that you have a few social media projects going on in your personal life. This could be anything from your own blog about your hobbies to a Facebook page you run to your own YouTube channel. This shows that you can come up with ideas for content and have experience in both using a social media platform and engaging with an audience. I write this blog as well as running a few fun social media accounts on some of my passions just to get me more experience and learn new things about each platform.

If possible running a website is another wonderful way to help you gain valuable skills for a social media role. This could be a blog or maybe a website to do with anything you love. In order to promote your website you might have social media accounts for it, again fantastic skills and experience that a social media employer will love.

I’d say one of the most important ways to ensure your social media experiences is right for a role is to be up to date with the industry. This might be something very simple like reading digital marketing or social media news sites everyday like Mashable, The Drum or Marketing Week just to get a feel about new platforms and ways social is being utilised by brands and users. One question I’ve been asked a lot in interviews is on what I think are the best channels to use or which channel is growing or how do you see social developing over the next few years. These questions can be answered really well if you are clued up and wired in to the industry and everything happening in and around it. It also illustrates you’re proactive and passionate about the space as well as willing to develop your skills.

So just to recap. The main things you need to do to increase your chances of getting a social media role are; have experience, a relevant degree, an online personality, running a website if possible and keeping up to date with the industry. If you achieve even one of these, you’ll be on your way to that perfect role!

Thanks for reading, and please feel free to comment. For more digital marketing and social media news please follow this blog or me on Twitter @DigitalStuart.

Is Snapcash a Wise Move for Snapchat?

Earlier this week Snapchat announced ‘Snapcash’, a new feature that’ll enable users to make payments via Square. This will allow users to send money to each other through the messaging app after Snapchat and payment-processing firm Square unveiled their latest partnership. Square already has a similar platform on its app where friends can make payments to each other, and is called ‘Square Cash’. Ah so that’s where the name Snapcash comes from!

The service will initially be available to US users that are over 18, although for me there are two questions that this new feature poses. Firstly, is it secure? And secondly, why has Snapchat introduced this feature before other potential new features.

Snapchat has had security concerns before, such as users data being leaked, so it surprises me that they’ve introduced probably one of the most security sensitive aspects there is in the exchanging of payments. If simple data like your password is getting hacked, who knows what could happen to crucial bank details. I’m personally slightly sceptical, and wouldn’t really feel conformable about firstly exchanging money on Snapchat, and secondly via a mobile app in general. Additionally, with the problem of sexting and inappropriate images being sent between users, the chances of vulnerable under 18’s getting their bank details stolen rises.

Although having Square built into the system will add authenticity and quality to the security element and give the feature much better safely and control. Also it’s quite a bold move by Snapchat which they should be commended for, as not many mobile apps have this feature so early on in their existence.

For me it’s strange that Snapchat has decided to introduce this payments system before any other major improvements. Obviously they’ve developed new features such as Snapchat Stories and Messaging, but there’s no sign of other aspects that might improve the app. These could include having longer snaps that you can save, creating a profile page or having a commercial platform on it. But the nature of Snapchat is to send snaps to your friends, so why not send payments, it’s still the same C2C theory.

So it’ll be interesting to see whether Snapcash takes off in the US, and then internationally. Will people trust it? Will it bring a whole new market and way of paying people? Or will it be a flop or just a basic feature we forget about.

Thanks for reading, please let me know your thoughts on Snapcash.

For more digital marketing and social media news, please follow me on Twitter @DigitalStuart 

Why Real-Time Marketing is the Way to Go

Many marketing or social media campaigns are developed in advance to when they’re launched, but recently many brands have used social media to create real-time marketing  (RTM) opportunities.

RTM in the social media context is posting whilst something is going on, such as an event. For example, Cadbury recently did live tweeting on the Brit Awards 2014, with humorous content updates on the winners.  This has seen Cadbury looking to further embrace with RTM in the future, indicating its huge potential and growth.

Therefore, there’s a huge market for this as bands can come up with innovative and creative content whilst events are going on. Simply by using the events hashtag they’re immediately in the feed of the event where they can potentially get noticed. This is a great way to gain new followers, create awareness and engage with the audience.

It also illustrates that the brand is up to date with current events and trends, and thus is tapping into that market, as no -one wants to associate themselves with a brand that’s out of touch with its audience or culture!

It wouldn’t surprise me if in the future more and more brands start to (hash) tag along with events that are going on as a way to sell their products, create brand awareness and engagement. Watch out this evening for that at The Oscars!

Thanks for reading, and please feel free to comment. For more digital marketing and social media news please follow this blog, or me on Twitter @DigitalStuart.

WhatsApp Facebook? Buy the Competition or Diversify

So this week saw the quite surprising news that Facebook is set to acquire messaging service WhatsApp for a reported $19 billion, not much then! But for me it does pose the question in the social media and mobile landscape of whether Facebook’s major acquisitions are simply a ploy to buy the competition, or diversify into other areas and markets.

Taking that first theory, Facebook has a reputation of trying to buy out mobile platforms, most notably their successful acquisition of Instagram and again a few months ago with their failed bid for Snapchat. So you could argue that Facebook sees WhatsApp as a threat to their Facebook chat service, or any potential mobile platform that they might be developing in the future. Therefore, instead of sitting idle and watching WhatsApp rake in the money and become a competitor, they simply buy them! I mean it’s clever of Facebook to do this, as they clearly know what the market is doing and what’s (App) popular with consumers, and growing. But is this strategy a good one? I do feel Facebook is trying to become too embellished and wanting to become too much, and have their finger in all these pies. This could come to their detriment if they take their eye off their main channel, and basically the one thing they’re known for. So I suppose the saying would be. ‘If you can’t beat them, buy them’!

However, another school of thought is that it’s quite ingenuous of Facebook to buy out these companies, as they don’t have the skill, nor the user base to compete or create something such as a messaging app, or a photo sharing app in the case of Instagram. Facebook has tried and failed to diversify its platform into photo sharing and messaging, so the next best thing is to buy an established player. Acquiring WhatsApp is a smart move as here you have a very popular service that’s used by millions and growing everyday. Facebook doesn’t have to invest in R&D, product development or marketing, as the value of the WhatsApp branding  will do that automatically for them. Thus, these diversification strategies increase Facebooks market presence and tap into knowledge and well-established brands to take them to the next level.

But what of the future of WhatsApp. Facebook say that nothing will change, and it will remain as it is. Well, it’s maybe only a matter of time before advertising comes into the picture! I do actually believe Facebook a bit when they say they’ll keep everything the same, as they’ve not radically changed Instagram, as so many thought they would.

To finish, here’s one final thought. Apparently looking back on the founder of WhatsApp’s tweets, Brain Acton was turned down by Twitter and Facebook for a job in 2009. Oh the irony.

Thanks for reading and please feel free to comment. In the meantime please follow this blog and me on Twitter @DigitalStuart 

The Marketing Mix Applied to the Digital World – Promotion

Well grab the tissues, as it’s the final instalment of why the marketing mix applies to the digital world, and today we’re looking at ‘Promotion’!.

So what does ‘Promotion’ mean when we think of it in digital terms? Well it’s how you can use digital channels to inform, create awareness and persuade an audience to buy your products or services.

Out of all the ‘Ps’, Promotion is by far the broadest and most diverse, as when you think about it, the whole digital marketing landscape is based on promotional elements, whether that’s Search, Social Media or Banner ads. Here’s an overview of all those channels.

Websites

  • Found on the internet, a website contains webpages on information on what a brand sells or offers . To explain this a website has certain design elements and includes text, images and or videos to portray this. Website analytics can be used to monitor activity on it

Search Marketing

  • SEO (Search Engine Optimisation): The natural search results in a search engine. The results will appear in a set ranking depending on keywords
  • PPC (Pay Per Click): The paid listings that normally appear directly under the search bar, or to the right of the screen. The ranking of these is based on how much you pay for keywords

Advertising 

  • Banner Ads: Adverts containing rich media, either an image or video, that appear on a webpage. These ads might be interactive or a still image. Clicking on them will take the user to another website related to that ad or to a call to action
  • Affiliate Marketing: A customer sees an advert for an Apple iPad (Merchant) on The Guardian’s website (Publisher) – If the customer clicks on the ad and goes onto to purchase the iPad, the publisher receives a commission on that sale

Public Relations

  • Public Relations: Managing a brands awareness, understanding and reputation through influencing how they are exposed in the media
  • Online PR: Trying to maximise favourable mentions or opinions of your company, brand, products or website on a third-party website

Viral Marketing

  • Online word of mouth (WOM) usually in the form of a video, image, website or link that is fun, creative or entertaining and is sent amongst people

Email Marketing

  • A form of direct marketing where an email is sent to a recipients inbox. The email might be received either as a promotional tool or after signing up to a newsletter

Three types of emails

  • Outbound Email Marketing: Email campaigns are sent out by companies to customers or prospects as direct marketing to encourage purchase or to build an engaging relationship
  • Permission based Email/Opt In: Customers or prospects have given permission to receive email marketing messages, so it’s not seen as cold emails or SPAM
  • Inbound Email Marketing: Where a company manages the emails that customers send to them enquiring about products or services –e.g. customer service, care, support or help

Social Media

  • A network or community where users interact with one another by creating, sharing and exchanging ideas and content
  • Blog: An online diary created by an individual to communicate with an audience their views or opinions…like this one!

Mobile

  • Mobile Ads: Banner adverts that include images or videos that appear on a mobile screen

For a greater in-depth discussion on Mobile, please read The Mobile Marketing Mix (nice cross-blog promotion there!)

Wow, that’s a lot of digital promotional tools! But each one of these techniques has opened up many channels and avenues that brands can use to promote their offering. They all have the ability to generate traffic to the website, relevant calls to action and most importantly, a purchase!

So, alas, that’s it. We’ve delved into the traditional marketing mix, and seen how it has definitely got a place in this dynamic digital world. It’ll be interesting to see how digital adapts and develops over the next few years and how the marketing mix is further expanded.

Thanks for reading and please feel free to comment. For more digital marketing news please follow my blog or my Twitter account @DigitalStuart.

Here’s a full list of all four ‘Marketing Mix Applied to the Digital World’ blogs for your enjoyment.

The Marketing Mix Applied to the Digital World – Product

The Marketing Mix Applied to the Digital World – Price

The Marketing Mix Applied to the Digital World – Place

The Marketing Mix Applied to the Digital World – Promotion