Tag: social media

LOVING LINKEDIN

Lindsey Davies LinkedIn

I have to admit I’m loving LinkedIn. I’ve had a bit of crush on the platform for some time now. I like the fact that it is a social channel that has a definitive audience with a clear purpose.

There have been some fall outs over the years, as people have posted personal updates and others have made it their mission to ‘police’ the professional platform. However, I still feel it is a positive space to connect with others.

It is now very much a ‘go to’ for recruiters and individuals to showcase their talents, achievements and expertise.

Leaving the trolls behind

The conversations on LinkedIn focus on finding new contacts and sharing work-based content with a network that you have pre-approved. In order to share with someone, you first must make them a connection. This limits the amount of spam and unsolicited messages you receive.

As well as ensuring the information you access is interesting and relevant, this approach also leaves the trolls at the door. Twitter has become a breeding ground for bad behaviour, which requires governance and endless monitoring. In contrast, LinkedIn is able to build its credibility as a platform of choice for business.

Simple and effective

One of the first things I do each morning is scan through my LinkedIn feed. There is always an abundance of content and it varies depending on who has posted. Given the industry I work in, there is no consistency about who I follow; if I find a person or brand interesting then I will follow or connect.

It’s not unusual for me to wake up to someone posting an amazing view from a run or a report that looks at category insight about a given market. Both give me a reason to read, consider and reflect.

Posting to LinkedIn is simple and accessing a profile from the app has improved over the years. Reiterating it as a tool of choice for companies, at most events there is an option to scan a name badge and connect with someone through a QR code.

Not only does this reiterate the importance of LinkedIn for individuals and organisations but it also showcases how easy it is to use.

Posts and articles

What I like most about LinkedIn is the articles. As someone that writes for a living this will come as no surprise. What appeals to me most is that I can share my thoughts and opinions while also receiving clear analytics.

Unlike some social media channels, LinkedIn has the credibility that comes from relying on people to input their own professional information. This leads to fewer dormant or ‘fake’ accounts and more people that genuinely want to connect and converse.

Knowing those that I am connected with means that when someone leaves a comment or likes my article I will respond. This then leads to genuine and meaningful discussion. There is no harm in having a point of view and I find LinkedIn a more balanced place to do this.

I try to share an article at least once a month and have mixed them up a bit recently. Some focus on business and others are more personal. I don’t feel there is any harm in this as the objective is the same; people get to learn more about me and the way that I work.

Making the most of company pages

As an agency we manage company pages for our clients and provide advice and guidance on personal profiles. For me, once your profile is updated, it’s all about posting regular updates and spending five to ten minutes liking other information you have found useful.

I have met lots of people that have explained how they ‘don’t know how to do LinkedIn’ but the truth is that you don’t have to. The platform does much of it for you and will guide you through the steps to becoming an ‘All Star’.

You can then take your time working out the rest and can pay to become a premium member if you choose.

As well as updating your status, it is important to remember your company page. This is a reflection of your business to the outside world and gives employees a chance to share their thoughts and feelings about an organisation.

With this comes an authenticity that is rarely found elsewhere. Although company pages can be monitored and posts can be removed, they are often a true indication of the culture at a company. This is reflective of employees and what they share.

It is also a fantastic tool for building an employer brand and encouraging the best talent to your organisation. After all, if you employees are sharing the positives about your business, you don’t have to.

Grouping together

You can also join groups on LinkedIn, comment on articles and share links to external web pages that could add some value for those that are following you.

Again, the beauty about LinkedIn for me is that it is simple, effective and professional.

As someone that isn’t looking for a change of career or a new job, some people may ask why I bother with the platform. The truth is I know that many of my contacts visit the site and access the content that I share. As such, like any social channel, it is a valuable way for me to share news from the business.

Engaging with groups isn’t something I do as often as I should. I am a member of some groups but prefer to use them to read articles or links that are shared as opposed to creating relationships that are exclusively online.

One group I have been a member of for years is the Yorkshire Mafia. I joined because I thought it sounded interesting and slightly controversial. More importantly, the philosophy of the group that we are ‘stronger together’ also stood out for me.

With 22,000 pre-approved members it has a strong following and has been commended as one of the most productive groups on LinkedIn. I would recommend that anyone who just wants to join a positive and informative community of people takes the time to join.

Making the time

As with everything, updating LinkedIn takes time and any post that you share will be potentially available to world. So, while it may be easy to update your status, the same rules apply as to any channel.

My recommendation would be to set aside five or ten minutes a day and to review the content on your feed before liking, sharing and then updating your own status.

It doesn’t have to take hours and shouldn’t become a chore. If you set out with the mindset that it is part of your business processes, and a way to access information you may otherwise never have come across, then you lead with the benefits.

Looking to the future

I’m not sure what the future holds for LinkedIn. It is certainly a recruiters’ dream, and I can see why. Some of the updates I have had access to from the company, such as insights, have been developed with this audience in mind but there will be others in the pipeline.

Given I started this by saying I’m loving LinkedIn, I urge people to use the space to listen, learn and share. Given the updates that have been made to the functionality over the last year, I would expect further exciting features and updates are yet to come.

Only time will tell, but I believe LinkedIn has a great opportunity to take ownership and become the social channel for business. Whether a competitor comes along is to be debated, but it will take something special to catch my eye.

HOW TO PICK THE RIGHT INFLUENCER FOR YOUR BRAND

It is common knowledge that leveraging influencers can help drive brand awareness and reach a wider audience. But the process of selecting the ‘right’ influencer is not an easy task.

Amongst the clutter and noise on social media, it is becoming increasing difficult to recognise credible influencers who can truly add value to a business. And while influencer marketing can be a great strategy to strengthen a brands online presence, when done incorrectly it can also have detrimental effects.

So, before diving into the lucrative world of #sponsored posts, here is a 3-step guide that can help ease the process.

 

1 – Recognise the different types of influencers available

The internet is home to a plethora of social media superstars. Before agreeing to work with any of them, take the time to understand the different types of influencers available.

Typically, influencers are categorised based on the number of followers they have.

Mega-influencers: 1M+ Followers

Kylie Jenner, Kim Kardashian, Selena Gomez, are all examples of mega-influencers. They are established celebrities who can help your brand gain recognition on a global scale. Of course, they demand a hefty fee, with some charging upwards of £800,000 per sponsored post.

Macro-influencers: 100K – 1M Followers

Usually macro-influencers are those that gained recognition through the internet itself. Such as vloggers and bloggers who rose to fame by building a follower base over time. Similar to mega-influencers, they can be very expensive to work with. But for businesses with a substantial marketing budget this is an effective way to increase brand awareness to a mass market FAST.

Micro-influencers: 1K – 100K Followers

A micro-influencer as opposed to others has a significantly lower number of followers. Typically, they focus on a specific niche and so are more suited for brands that want to target a certain type of customer. Unlike the other two, micro-influencers charge considerably less and maintain an extremely loyal fan base.

Nano-influencers: Less than 1K Followers

They are comparable to a start-up business. This type of influencer tends to have very little to no experience of working with brands. Despite having a small audience, nano-influencers attract a high engagement rate as they are most relatable for consumers. More often than not, they will accept products in return for social media coverage.

 

2 – Check for fake followers

As influencers battle for the social media spotlight, some can be tempted into buying fake followers. This black hat tactic can instantly grow an influencers audience from a few to thousands.

This is a huge problem on Instagram, where advertisement is becoming more and more important. Users can even buy interactions such as likes and comments from fake profiles to give a false impression of high engagement.

Collaborating with influencers whose followers and engagement is not genuine is not only a waste of time but can essentially be detrimental to a brands integrity. Fortunately, there are several online tools and programs available for detecting fakes.

 

3 – Identify any risks and red flags

Followers and engagement play a significant part when identifying the most appropriate influencers for a campaign. But, what’s equally important is reviewing the influencers social media channels to check for any red flags.

In today’s media landscape, nothing is ever private, especially on the internet! This is especially true for influencers who are constantly under the social media microscope. From inappropriate personal thoughts to controversial opinions and pictures, everything is visible.

So, before approaching an influencer, it is absolutely vital to make sure that ALL of their social media channels are thoroughly reviewed, and any risks are immediately identified.

Ultimately, influencers have the power to make or break a brands reputation. Finding the right person is less about who’s trending or has the highest number of followers and more about finding someone who represents your brands personality and values.

 

Influencers are certified social media butterflies and experts in creating engaging content who can help bridge the gap between a brand and its target customers. Working with them is an effective method to drive awareness.

If you are thinking of switching from traditional advertising to influencer collaborations remember to do the leg work and to make the choices that will deliver the value you are expecting.

 

HORTOR CHOOSES OPEN COMMS AS PREFERRED PR PARTNER

Hortor and Open Communications

Hortor, the global strategic resourcing consultancy with UK offices in Leeds and London, has chosen Open Communications, the straight-talking PR agency, to manage the brands content strategy across traditional and social media channels.

Having worked on an initial project to update the company website and provide recommendations regarding social media and content marketing, Hortor has agreed a year-round programme of activity that will be delivered by the agency.

Reporting consistent growth since its launch in 2014 and with ambitious targets for the next twelve months and beyond, Open Comms will focus on raising the profile of Hortor, its specialist divisions and the world-class clients that it works with.

Joint CEO of Hortor, Andy Roe, comments: “In the first instance Open Communications were recommended to us by a business associate that has worked with the agency for years. We needed support with the copy writing on our website and a few other projects and so felt it was the right time to engage a team that could give us some specialist support.

“Open quickly became an extension of our team and we are very much looking forward to working with them as we roll-out our year-round programme of activity.”

Director at Open Communications, Lindsey Davies, comments: “Hortor are a great fit for us. As well as being ambitious, the business has a great culture and is not afraid of doing things differently. We are looking forward to taking insight from the team and using this to create compelling content that we can share.

“As experts within their industry, we want to make sure that we reiterate the knowledge from the team and position them as the growing and global organisation that they are.”

Hortor has made a number of appointments in recent months with colleagues joining both the Leeds and London offices. Further plans to expand internationally to support its global network are also underway, with no fewer than four launches scheduled in the next year.

Open Communications is celebrating ten years in business throughout 2019 with plans to move to a new office in Wakefield city centre. The agency is preferred PR partner for a range of brands including Opus Trust Communications, Ring, The Coalfields Regeneration Trust, Martin Walsh Architecture and Bellingham IT.

For further details about Hortor and its approach to strategic global resourcing please visit www.hortor.co.uk and for information about the services we provide for clients please visit, http://www.opencomms.co.uk/what-we-do.

Ends

 

TEN REASONS TO INVEST IN PR FOR YOUR BUSINESS

Businesses don’t have the budgets, resource or understanding to warrant an investment in PR. It’s too complicated and difficult to measure. Anyone can cobble together a press release or upload a blog. There are bigger priorities and better ways to spend money.

Really?

Here are ten simple reasons why you really should consider PR and what impact it could have on your organisation.

1. Reputation

Despite many changes to the industry over the years, PR remains the specialism that is used to manage the reputation of a business. Some people feel that this sounds too flaky. Consider driving a car without insurance or riding a motorbike without a helmet. The risks are too high. As your reputation is arguably your biggest asset, it should be a priority.

2. Profile

Just because you know about your business it doesn’t mean others do too. Furthermore, if you are considering infiltrating new markets then you will be starting from scratch. You may have the products, service and reputation however you are still new to this audience. Using PR to build your profile in the right places can be very effective.

3. Employer brand

We hear a lot about skills gaps and a lack of talent. If you want to attract the best people to your business, then you need to share details about what it is like to work for you. Using PR to update a company blog and social media tools, such as LinkedIn and twitter, is a good place to start. Adding personality to your content will allow you to attract the people that are a better fit for your business.

4. Website visitors

Over the years the remit of what constitutes PR has broadened. Content marketing has become a big business. If you want to get the most from your website you should be writing regular articles, blog posts and news items. Content should also include relevant inbound and outbound links to attract prospects. Paying thousands for a website doesn’t mean it will work for you.

5. New business

PR will help you to attract new business. No, the phone won’t start ringing off the hook as soon as you implement some of the tactics, but you will notice a change. People will become more receptive and they will talk about you more. There is no greater marketing platform than word of mouth, so make sure you are doing what you can to encourage the right message is shared. This is one of the reasons why story telling is so important.

6. Crisis

No one wants a crisis to happen, but the simple fact is, they do. If you are unprepared then expect the worst. Trying to fumble through a media storm while the phones are ringing relentlessly, and journalists are on deadline chasing for statements, is nothing short of a nightmare. Don’t leave this to chance, it could lead to lasting and irreparable damage. Having the processes and procedures in place will make all the difference.

7. Competition

So, despite points one to six you still think PR is a waste of time and money. That’s absolutely fine. Leave it to your competitors to share their story, raise their profile, manage their communications and reap the rewards and benefits as a result.

8. Cost effective

PR isn’t cheap but when compared to other specialisms within the marketing mix it is cost effective. Given the importance of the tactics that fall under a PR remit, it is a constant frustration that it is the forgotten relative, but that’s the way it is. Some of the largest brands in the world have relied heavily on PR and it has delivered for them time and time again. Think Virgin and Innocent Drinks. They used PR to establish and build brands that made them millions.

9. Flexibility  

With PR you don’t have to sign up to everything in one go. It’s not a single product off a shelf. You could start with a basic press office and then evolve the plans as you go. In fact, this is the best approach. Not only does this mean you can carefully measure the return on your investment, you can also better understand exactly what is happening and why.

10. Return on investment

There is no point in denying it, measuring the absolute impact of PR can be a challenge because the reasons for purchase will differ for every consumer. What we can be certain of is that having a PR programme in place will allow you to manage your message, engage in the right places, target the correct audiences and take some control of the conversation. Millions of businesses across the world haven’t got it wrong, they invest because they see the value.

Back to where we started

And so, we are back to where we started. The first step is to think very carefully about your business and what you want to achieve now and in years to come. PR may not be a priority but consider what it could do for your organisation.

Nothing will change if you continue the way you are going, and perhaps that should be one of the biggest concerns that you have.

For more information about how we work with our clients at Open Communications please visit the What We Do pages here.

SOCIAL MEDIA: WHERE THE PROBLEM LIES (IN MORE WAYS THAN ONE)

I’m sure I’m not the only person who feels more than a little duped every time I check in to the other realm and review one of the many social media channels that are available to us.

In fact, I’m quite convinced that many of the people who appear to live their entire lives on said platforms are effectively residing in a parallel universe. You see, when I bump into them in the street, they certainly do not reflect the image that they are falsely portraying to me, MI5 or anyone else who might happen to take a glimmer of interest in their profile.

While a ‘photo-shopped-within-an-inch-of-its-life’ photo is probably a great tactic for those who are evading a life of crime, it’s hard not to despair about the ideals that this sets for the rest of us mere mortals.

What’s more, as the photos continue to blur so too does the line between reality and how we portray our lives online. After all, most of us know that the filtering doesn’t just stop at images; our whole internet existence is governed by a different type of filter which influences what parts of our lives we share on the web.

Life through a filter

Though some photo enhancements might be obvious, when it comes to extracting the true picture it’s far more difficult than we could ever have previously imagined. Not only have we become accustomed to sharing our best angles, we also seem to have been conditioned to put on a brave face, sharing only the best parts of our lives with others.

Our holiday snaps don’t show the rain that blighted what was meant to be a relaxing beachside break or the hotel that wasn’t deemed ‘instagrammable’ enough. Instead, we project only the most jealousy inducing, picture perfect views, which, in the most part, have little to do with our real, everyday lives.

Fantasy or reality?

Having started primarily as a way to get to know one another better and to share memories with friends old and new, it’s hard not to feel that the purpose of social media has changed somewhat during its relatively short life span.

Now, rather than a place to show our true selves and update friends and family across the globe, it could be argued that our online lives are a form of escapism which offers a place to be whatever we please, with little to no restrictions.

When reality hits

Just as quickly as perfection took over, thank goodness there appears to be another, far more realistic trend in town. Taking things a step further than ‘#nofilter’ which continues to do the rounds, ‘social media vs reality’ has taken the online world by storm.

Leading the way with messages of body positivity and a rejection of the principles that have plagued our social media existences for so long, this movement is starting to gain real momentum.

Finally, the array of airbrushed, moody selfies are interspersed with those that celebrate something far closer to reality. Bare-faced shots showing blemished complexions, natural images that put stretch marks in the spotlight and people of all shapes and sizes ‘living their best lives’ signal a break from the conventions that have dictated what’s accepted as relevant online.

Doing it for the ‘gram’

Although I’m reluctant to be cynical about what appears to be a positive development in attitudes to what should be shared, it will be interesting to see whether this trend continues or whether it’s just another elaborate example of a very real issue being exploited for the purpose of ‘likes’.

For the sake of the next generation, I really hope it represents a future where we can all be a little more authentic.

A BRAND WITH LITERALLY NO PERSONALITY

LinkedIn has become a platform of choice for me over the last year or so. I like the fact it knows what it wants to be and that it is a work in progress. Having met with some of the team, they acknowledge there is more to be done but that the functionality has been developed to benefit business.

There is no other platform that has taken ownership of becoming an online portfolio of CVs that gives businesses access to a global database of talent like LinkedIn – or certainly not that I have come across.

Company pages on LinkedIn

We manage the Company Pages for some of our clients and make sure to post a selection of news, articles and coverage. We also engage with other brands and businesses to keep the feeds interesting and informative.

As a business that never stops learning, we review other pages to see what companies are doing and what ‘tricks of the trade’ are working. Applying best practice, we can then make recommendations that we know add value.

Making contacts, or not!

This morning when I was reviewing my own LinkedIn feed, I came across an impressive ‘company’ page. It was visual, informative, punchy and had a tone of voice that appealed to me. The page was obviously updated regularly but what stood out as very strange was there was no contact.

I think the page had been set up as a person but should have been a company. So, to be clear, it said ‘Owner of widget business’ but the page was the brand, not the individual.

Inadvertently, I had come across a brand with literally no personality!

There were several reasons I found this odd, not least how had this person not realised that it was a mistake to remain nameless and how were people supposed to make contact?

LinkedIn is about connections and although company pages generate followers, it’s not the same thing.

The power of personality

I’m a big believer that ‘people buy people’ and this has worked in practice for us here at Open Communications. Many of our clients have been with us for years and we have worked with brand managers that come to us when they change company – one of the biggest compliments in our industry and not something we take for granted.

The truth is that personality is one of the very few things that a business has which is truly unique. Of course, companies can try to replicate the tone of voice, messaging and even visuals that a brand uses but it will never be the same.

There are always the values, story and culture that you can never quite replicate. Plus, most brands that try to be something they are not get caught out and it all goes horribly wrong. Authenticity may be a phrase that is overused, but it resonates with audiences.

Keeping it real

The lesson I learnt from this morning’s encounter was that I will make it my mission to ensure that every company director we work with takes full credit for their business on LinkedIn, giving those that want to make an introduction the opportunity to do so.

I will also explain the difference between a personal and company page so that they don’t make any mistakes that could cost them sales.

I can see no reason for having a ‘social’ channel and not being visible as a person. The whole thing really is quite baffling.

As a business that wants to attract customers, this really does need to be addressed and I hope that it is. The page deserves to get the attention that it is attracting but I expect that the leads it could convert are fewer than they should be for this very reason.

SOCIAL MEDIA SHOULD NOT EXCUSE RUDENESS

adults-casual-cellphone

Billions of pounds have been spent to allow people to converse and communicate freely with each other, to share ideas and challenge concepts, to share thoughts and to learn, to create hope, generate support and nurture a space where everyone can have a voice.

What an incredibly positive and powerful movement.

Well yes, in theory, however in practice the irony is that it has become a growing beast and is being used for anything other than what it was intended*.

Hiding behind a screen

Social media is now a default position that gives anyone the ‘right’ to hide behind a screen and moan, bitch, shame, stir nastiness and share hatred. It is used to reach the masses with fake news and boastful claims and make others feel inferior at best and suicidal at worst.

Many will argue that this isn’t the case and that there is a lot of good that has come from social media tools. In part, I agree, but when reading the papers over recent weeks the truth is there in black and white.

Two recent headlines from the i newspaper as an example: “Depression and social media risk doubled in girls” and “Black Mirror star quits social media”.

The first refers to a study, which has found that teenage girls are twice as likely to shows signs of depression linked to social media than boys. The University College London has looked at the association between social and depression and the results are far from surprising.

The second headline quotes an actor, Will Poulter, who says: “In light of my recent experience I am choosing to take a step back, of sorts, from Twitter. I accept all criticisms and it’s been a delight to learn that so many of you enjoyed what many people worked very hard to produce. As we all know there is a balance to be struck in our engagements with social media.” He has been referred to as ugly by ‘trolls’ on the platform.

Let’s just take a step back.

Two articles which announce that young people are commonly experiencing signs of depression due to their use (and the misuse by their peers) of social media and a successful actor who can no longer watch in silence as he is torn to pieces by people who have no greater right to comment on this person’s appearance as he does on theirs.

When did this become ok? When was this headline hitting news? And, most importantly, when are we going to start to encourage the use of social media platforms for what they were intended – not to rant and rave in order to have a knowingly negative impact, but to share positive news and to become a platform to communicate for the right reasons.

Bringing it back to business

It would be unfair to ignore the fact that social media channels including Twitter, Facebook and Instagram have provided brands with a platform to promote their products to a global audience and that increasingly intelligent algorithms allow for more specific targeting than has ever been possible.

The questions is the same however, at what cost?

Irrelevant of the budget, thought, creativity and man-hours that go into social campaigns it would appear that increasingly they are coming under the same scrutiny as any social engagement with people feeling that their negative and nasty comments should be shared and somewhat bizarrely responded to.

What many people that work outside of marketing may not appreciate is that it still takes people to respond to social media posts and they, like those complaining or sharing their ‘constructive thoughts’, have feelings.

I have seen some appalling examples of people who think that because they are hidden behind a computer screen can make the most terrible comments and expect a response within minutes.

Firstly, no brand – whatever the size – has a legal obligation to get back to a consumer because they feel they are worthy of that engagement. Secondly, if you are that kind of person, think about how you phrase a complaint and then consider how you would respond given the chance.

I have said this before and I will say it again, if you are posting to a social media channel for whatever reason, if you wouldn’t walk into the street and make those comments out loud then think twice and even three times before posting them.

You do not have the right to be rude

Social media does not give anyone the right to be rude.

For those who go on thinking its ok and that to be outwardly aggressive to the people on the other side of that Twitter, Instagram feed or Facebook account, I urge you to think about how you will feel when your child, partner, friend or family member comes home in tears from school, college or work.

Remember, if your behaviour is reflective of a bully – even when targeted at a brand – you are no better than the people that are directing the same hate filled bilge to your loved ones.  

Ends

*We know that there was a commercial rationale for all of these platforms and they were not based on a philanthropic endeavour to allow freedom of speech or communication across the globe. But for the purpose of this blog, let’s just assume that was the case.

SOCIAL MEDIA VS TRADITIONAL MEDIA: WHAT’S THE STORY?

Social-Media-Marketing-vs-Traditional-Marketing

It’s used by everyone from busy-bodies to businesses, politicians to pet pooches and, as the Guardian recently reported, even GCHQ has gotten in on the act.

The question remains, what is it that makes social media so different to the traditional channels we were once used to, and how can effective management of online communications platforms and apps positively impact upon a company’s bottom line?

For many organisations social media is an essential medium through which to communicate messages, form the level of personality which sets a brand apart from its competitors and provides a way in which relationships are built, and subsequently maintained, with consumers.

Whilst there is, undoubtedly, some crossover between the benefits that social media and traditional channels offer, using a combination of the two approaches will ensure that a brand’s message reaches the widest audience in the most fitting manner.

Round 1: sharing news

In today’s busy world we are surrounded by marketing messages at every turn. Whether it’s a text on a mobile phone, a red light whilst driving or an advertising billboard, each method communicates a message, but in a distinctly different way.

In the same way that these mediums differ, so too does the sharing of news from traditional and social media.

Here are two theoretical examples:

  1. Pet Pooch Apparel secures lucrative contract with leading retailer (alongside an image of the company’s directors outside the business’ headquarters)

vs

  1. It’s been a woofing good day here at Pet Pooch Apparel; with one wag of a fluffy tail we’ve made it rain ‘puppy style’ (insert picture of puppy in raincoat)

Example 1 is the type of headline that you’d see on a typical business news platform. Short, snappy and to the point. This message takes a professional tone, which is in-keeping with the readership of such a site. This type of media coverage raises the profile of a business and its achievements; building credibility by association as a result of appearing on a well-known business platform.

On the other hand, example 2 could feature on ‘Pet Pooch Apparel’s’ social media channels and, as such, takes a far more colloquial tone which communicates the personality of the brand. Featured alongside a link, which allows the reader to go directly to a page that features the product, this version of the same news is likely to attract a different reader and, therefore, should be posted in a way that will appeal to them.

Whilst the focus of a business story is primarily building the credibility of a business, the objective of social media channels is to build a relationship with the people who actually buy the products.

Whilst being on the radar of every large organisation within the region has its benefits, most companies will have competitors just around the corner and this makes the importance of creating a brand which appeals to buyers increasingly important.

The truth is that having a strong brand, personality and tone of voice is often the one thing that sets a business apart during a customer’s decision-making process.

In these examples it’s clear to see how each version of news has a distinct purpose. By shifting the focus of the story from a purely business mindset, to a form more likely to be considered engaging to the everyday social media user, the reach of the story can be broadened to appeal to a much wider audience.

Round 2: engaging with the customer

In what I’d envisage to be a fun and trendy business like ‘Pet Pooch Apparel’, magazines and consumer-focused publications are likely to be a part of any PR strategy.

Achieving coverage in this type of media would be the best way to raise the profile of the business amongst potential customers, whilst building the familiarity and trust necessary to achieve repeat sales and encourage loyalty.

However, though companies can submit a press release which is full of personality and is reflective of the brand’s values, this messaging is often significantly diluted when it finally finds its way into a publication.

As a result, relying entirely on media coverage from magazines to communicate with your customers and build your brand is a steady process which does not happen overnight. Instead, through a long-term strategy which targets the relevant magazines at the most appropriate times it will deliver results.

Yet, combine this approach with a stream of interesting, insightful blogs and quirky social media posts, and the whole process becomes much less sporadic and a lot more likely to yield quicker results.

Increasing the comments, likes and excitement surrounding your latest post, is a sure-fire way to gain fans and, with new followers, comes a wider audience with which to share your new products, services and offers.

On the other hand, we must consider that with a busy social media channel comes a certain amount of maintenance. With the ‘always on’ appeal of online apps, comes the potential for a large number of comments which shoppers increasingly expect will be replied to. This gives additional opportunity to stay ‘on brand’ by responding in a light-hearted manner but also takes a great deal of time and effort.

For example:

Question – Which accessories would you recommend for a Yorkshire terrier?

Possible response – Trendy or traditional, we’re sure that your terrier would appreciate this tweed flat cap! With his Yorkshire roots, we know he’ll feel right at home. Don’t forget to let us know what he thinks 😉

Round 3: the thrill of the chase

There’s no denying that coverage in the newspaper, a magazine or on a prestigious online platform feels infinitely more rewarding than simply posting on a company blog or social media channel.

Moreover, the uncertainty that accompanies the process of pitching a story to a publication and then waiting to see whether it appears, enhances the feeling of excitement when you do secure that much awaited coverage.

Once you’ve secured a story that even your mum would be proud of, you’ll most likely want to shout it from the rooftops! Well, once again, this is where social comes in and can be used as a platform to maximise your message and audience reach.

Round 4: consistency is key

It’s not always possible to rely on editorial coverage, for example your story may get bumped by a huge national crisis, and that is why a business should use its own channels to post the message to its audience and upload the news that they have to share.

Though it won’t happen overnight, regular posts and insights, consistent messaging and well managed, interesting content is the key to increasing brand awareness and, if your social media channels become a hit with customers, the chances are that your products will too.

In summary, working in PR and content marketing it is clear that both traditional media and social channels are complementary and can be used to create brand trust and loyalty for a business. If you’d like advice on how to maximise your own social media channels, would like assistance creating original content, or would like to speak to us regarding a PR strategy, please contact a member of our team on 01924 862477.

THE LATEST DETOX ISN’T A DIET

The amazing scenery looking over St Aiden’s RSPB reserve

Working in PR means that you have to keep abreast of the social media tools that are available and provide a platform for people to communicate. Stands to reason really, given that we are responsible for sharing information and managing the reputation of brands both online and in print.

Being of a particular age (38 for those that are too polite to ask) I haven’t exactly grown up surrounded by tech but it has been in the background for probably as long as I can remember. We certainly didn’t have smart phones when I was at school, college or university, but we had the first handheld games systems and some functionality to communicate online.

It was only really when I left university that digital communications started to become ‘a thing’ and many a PR – myself included – took great pleasure in demoting the fax machine to the back of a cupboard to collect dust as we opted instead to use email.

The real changes though occurred when I had been in work for a number of years and platforms such as Facebook started to make their mark. Some came and went, while others became integral to our lives – not a statement that I think even the founders really considered in terms of scale and global dominance. Let’s not get started about governance and regulatory controls, I’ll save that for another blog.

The very real threat of social media – and it’s not the trolls

Over recent weeks I’ve noticed that there has been a shift in tone when it comes to the use of social media. There was a time when there seemed to be a certain expectation that people would have regular access to as many apps as they could manage. The more the merrier was the general consensus and if you didn’t have the latest you were considered ‘so last season’.

Facebook, SnapChat, WhatApp, Instagram, Twitter and LinkedIn to name a few became more of a reflection of our lives and social dalliances than actually going out. Showing someone your dinner was top of the list, quickly followed by a pouty selfie that may or may not have had a filter!

In the most part, I’m pleased to say I dodged this desire to share everything online, but I did find that I was becoming increasingly reliant on the social channels to fill downtime. No longer was I reaching for a book or chatting to my husband and friends, I would reach for my phone and see who had updated their status on Facebook.

It was at the same time that Chris Evans was commenting on having a detox from tech and the benefits that he felt from moving away from a world that was powered by the internet. At first I wondered what he was making such a fuss about, but the more he explained the more it started to resonate.

Then earlier this week, I opened the Yorkshire Post to see a comment piece from Business Editor, Mark Casci, with the headline ‘Use summer to wean yourself off the smartphone’. So much of what he had written made perfect sense to me.

Within his article he writes: ‘After travelling back in time through my history as a phone consumer (aided naturally with a few web searches on my phone to establish chronology) I came to the uncomfortable realisation that it had been well over more than a decade since I truly “switched off”’

It was at this moment I realised this was the case for me too.

Admitting you have a problem is the first step to recovery

There seems to be so much talk about people turning tech off and trying their hardest to get some balance back in their lives. We are all, it would seem, slaves to the smartphone and I’m no exception. I may not pout for selfies at every opportunity but I certainly stare into a screen far more than is healthy or necessary.

One of the ways I rationalise my ‘habit’ is by telling myself it’s for work, that someone might need me and that if a client emails, texts or sends a WhatsApp message at 10pm at night it is my obligation and responsibility to get back to them.

When I read that sentence I can see how unreasonable it is, but when you have a business it can be difficult to judge yourself by the parameters you would set for your own colleagues or suppliers.

As an example, if I happened to be working late and sent a supplier an email, I wouldn’t expect a response until the next day. Furthermore, if I got one I would feel guilty that I had encroached on their free time as opposed to being pleased that they had stopped everything to get back to me.

Mark sums it up really well in his piece when he writes: ‘Perhaps the worst aspect of realising how much I used my phone was coming to terms with the arrogance it entails, the idea that I must check my messages or the world will end.’

A truer word has rarely been said. This is me all over. I am constantly checking my phone for emails and then wonder why I feel anxious. There really is no need.

It’s time for things to change  

I’m not usually a follower of trends and I certainly could never be accursed of being a dedicated follower of fashion – in any capacity – but this is a bandwagon I’m well and truly jumping on the back of.

We recently welcomed Duke, a Cocker Spaniel puppy into our household (that’s another story and worthy of another blog) and as well as getting us up at 5.30am every morning he has also brought about a change.

I don’t know why, but during our walks I decided not to take my phone. At the time it seemed like a bold and brave step but, like Mark, I quickly realised the world wasn’t going to end.

In fact, thanks to our walks I have the chance to chat to my husband about the day ahead and what’s going on at work or with family and friends. It’s very cathartic as we glance out across the beautiful landscape at St Aiden’s RSPB reserve each morning and evening.

Although it’s only 2 hours of my day, I think it’s a good start and it does give me the head space to think about things more rationally. One of the biggest challenges with social media is that it is so immediate and whereas receiving news in this way can be beneficial, responding in the same manner rarely is.

I think that’s where some of the problems with social channels come from; act first and think later which in turn causes lasting damage either to yourself or someone else.

I’m not saying for one minute that I am going to close my social accounts, I don’t see the point given that this is how I stay in touch with an extensive family that are dotted around the world and my business relies on these channels, but I am going to limit my use.

I’m hoping that like Chris and Mark I can report back on the positive difference that this makes, and I fully intend to go home tonight and reach for a book rather than my phone.

If you are thinking about a tech detox or have given up altogether, how has it gone and what experiences can you share? All comments are welcome.

TROLLING NO LONGER BELONGS UNDER BRIDGES

Despite the fact that social media platforms have been around for a number of years now, with many of us incorporating these communication channels into our everyday lives, there are still people who either don’t understand how to use them or worse still, abuse them.

There is a real difference between the two audiences; one simply can’t get their head around why you would share information online to a potentially global audience, whereas the other takes it upon themselves to misuse the platforms to target, insult and intimidate other users with harmful or hateful comments.

Thankfully, most of us would never dream of sending a comment with the explicit intention of hurting another person’s feelings, but sadly that’s not the case for the minority. As ever with these situations, these people have now been given a name and it has been widely adopted by the social community.

Using social media for all the wrong reasons

Now, in my day, trolls featured in nursery rhymes and books. They typically lived under a bridge or in some other insalubrious environment and they would scare anyone that came near. Unfortunately, young people today now associate ‘trolls’ with individuals that intentionally target others with negative comments online.

Trolling is so prolific that there is even a programme about it. Far from being ashamed about their behaviour, some of these people actually make it a ‘hobby’ to post regular and often unnecessary comments to celebrities and those who have a larger social media following in the hope that they will incite a reaction.

The worst thing that a person can do is respond to a troll, but you can imagine how difficult it must be when your personal account is ‘under attack’ from these people as they spread malicious content online to be reviewed by a worldwide audience. It can’t be easy and it must impact on their lives.

I’ve never ‘got’ trolling and nor do I want to. In order to understand the psychology behind these people’s action would require me either to be a. a psychologist or b. someone who has some affinity or capacity to ‘understand’ the logic behind their actions – I don’t mind admitting, I’m neither.

Tackling the trolls

When I turned the TV on recently there was a programme which immediately caught my attention. Anything to do with social psychology or communication has me gripped, so this was a winner: Celeb Trolls: We’re Coming to Get You. It featured on Channel 4 and the basic idea is to find a celebrity, review their social channels – in this case twitter – and identify those that troll them most frequently.

I consider myself to be pretty thick skinned but some of the comments were aggressive, suggestive, violent and in most instances hateful, all of which was likely to cause at the least psychological distress. What’s interesting however, is these trolls often post as an alias – basically, they hide.

I’ve always said to clients, friends and family, before you post anything on any social media channels ask yourself if you would shout it out loud in a pub or coffee shop – if the answer is no, then question if you should be sharing it at all. It appears that these people could have done with the same advice.

When there’s nowhere left to hide

The producers of the programme made it their mission to find just one of the people that had been trolling the celeb, in this case it was Zahida Allen, who has appeared on a number of reality TV shows. The person that had been trolling her made a series of comments that were unnecessary and offensive – standard practice for a person trying to antagonise and in turn generate a response.

At this point, the search was on, as an investigation team started to piece together the information they could from the troll’s social media accounts. It was no surprise, but all the same a harsh reminder, to see just how easy it is to identify someone and to find out where they lived, worked and what interests they had.

It didn’t take long for the individual to be tracked down and he was sent an email to give him the chance to explain his actions to Zahida in person.   

In all fairness, the individual agreed to meet and was very apologetic. He had no excuse for his behaviour other than he felt that it was common practice and therefore ‘joined in’. Zahida wasn’t the only celeb he had trolled and he freely admitted he never thought it was cause real harm or offence.

Although somewhat ashamed, he didn’t seem as appalled by his own behaviour as he should have been but did mention that his parents had both advised him against featuring on the programme and made it clear he would be finding somewhere else to live if he ever did it again.

Lessons learnt

I really enjoyed this programme and felt that it could and should be used as a real lesson to the younger generation that are using social media channels for all the wrong reasons. It’s so easy to hide behind a screen but sooner or later your behaviour will catch up with you and that’s what people need to realise.

Social media has its benefits and when used correctly can be a very powerful communications tool. Like anything, in the wrong hands it can be dangerous and damaging.

I’d like to see more programmes like this, that provide case studies of the impact that an individual’s actions can have when they abuse the technology that should enhance our experiences and improve our engagement.

For me, I will be passing on details of the programme in the hope that more people learn these lessons and start to implement best practice. Perhaps trolling will take on a different meaning as these people are made to take responsibility for their actions and the comments they make, intended or otherwise.