25 February – Bad habits die hard. A 2015 Social Media strategy is a must

Yes you are probably thinking a social media strategy for 2015 is a bit late in the day, but with increasingly busy schedules it may just be one of those tasks you are currently winging. Hoping it will just work out for itself. To expect great results you have got to be willing to change. Here I present 8 elements that must be a part of your social media strategy for 2015.

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1.Plan, plan and plan again
Evaluate your current levels of engagement, such as number of retweets, shares, follows, favourites and likes that you receive each week. You can then look to set a weekly aim and plan which activity to undertake to achieve your goal. These tools below will provide with you some ideas as to how to increase this level, just ensure it is maintained. Discipline yourself!

2.I’m a specialist
It is tempting to share content on everything. Instead become a thought leader in a few chosen topics. I personally only share content on social media, email marketing and Channel Marketing. By becoming specialised and sharing your thoughts on a few chosen topics, you will achieve a targeted following base to attract.

Be really organised and schedule a month in advance the topics you will be producing content for. Maybe examine what is trending and choose a topic around this.

3.Thank you, you’re so kind
Politeness goes a long way, so always thank new followers for following you. It not only makes you look friendly, it also shows new customers who are reviewing your social media account, what excellent customer service you offer. And with 82% of your consumers reading your content on social media, this is essential.

4.Following to follower ratio
On Twitter, ensure you have more followers than those who you are following. Ideally half the amount. This will encourage more followers, as you will appear as an interesting thought leader.

On a weekly basis, aim to follow a few new people and sift through your current following base and unfollow those who do not add any value to you.

5.I am socially active with my followers
Ask yourself, what’s in it for my followers? Just like you, they want to be seen as providing excellent, useful content to their followers. Share/ retweet others content and mention them, and don’t forget to make thought leader comment. There is no better way to receive an increased awareness. Like I said if there is something in it for them they will interact with you, and you will reap the benefits, often by gaining followers/ likes.

Also aim to send a certain amount of tweets a day and choose preferable times to attract certain audiences and time zones.

‘Favouriting’ and liking content is also a great interaction tool. Aim to send a certain amount a day. From my experience just from doing this alone, you will receive ‘thank-yous’, increased awareness, as well as new followers. A great benefit for very little effort.

Hashtags serve a multitude of uses:

•Create targeted content that allows you to be easily found.
•Use hashtags to search for popular topics, identifying the level of competition for certain keywords. Ask yourself, are those keywords worth it if they’re not being searched? Or are they too popular in which case recognition is unlikely.
•From your research, make a list of hashtags you aim to use that month..
•This method is also a great way to find new targeted followers who will hopefully follow you back.

7.What are my competitors doing?
Struggling with ideas? Spend some time conducting competitor research. Identify what your competitors are doing. Would this work for me? How can I stand out? By evaluating this, you can determine how you are performing against your competitors, making changes where necessary.

8.Involve your advocates
Brands such as Microsoft use socialondemand® to share content with their employees, channel partners and other brand advocates. This is our very own innovative social media platform which, in less than three clicks, enables brand advocates and sales intermediaries to receive, edit, send or schedule posts, to any of their social networks, based on what they are interested in.

78% of Microsoft partners appreciate the value this brings, improving their efficiency levels. See it really does not need to be that time consuming.

It’s not easy creating a social media strategy, but by using tools, such as socialondemand, it can be made a whole lot easier. It’s all about evaluating your performance and trying new things. But once you get the perfect recipe, it is truly magical.

19 February – Social media amplification works: Ask Microsoft Channel Partners!

60 Microsoft partners and users of socialondemand® from purechannelapps, offered as a free service by Microsoft under the programme name ‘Microsoft SocialonDemand’ in the UK, recently answered a social media survey for Microsoft. The results were astonishing.

Like many brands, amplifying your message on social media is crucial in order to remain competitive and promote your brand to end-users. But how is this best achieved? Here we will delve into Microsoft’s best practice for achieving social media amplification through their resellers.

1. Is social media valuable?
When resellers were asked to rate the value of social media, 10 being the highest, 70% rated it 8 or above, believing it brought great value. This shows the ever increasing importance of social media, one that should not be ignored. This is especially true for channel partners who are very often ignored when it comes to social media ‘through’ activities.

2. Lacking content and time 
Even though partners value social media and see it as hugely important, the facts are, 68% lack content to share and 80% lack the time to find and post content. These are the real issues, and prohibit their ability to post regularly on social media.

3. socialondemand makes a huge difference!
87% of resellers who use socialondemand found this platform extremely helpful when it comes to finding content. This is because socialondemand lets resellers select their content preferences and delivers – via emails – only the relevant content these resellers want, when they want it, be it immediately, daily or weekly. This eliminates the need for partners to search through the internet or their suppliers’ blog pages to find pertinent news.

Furthermore, a huge 96% of resellers found socialondemand makes it easy to re-post this content. By leveraging APIs from Twitter, Facebook and LinkedIn, socialondemand enables users to publish content to any of their social networks in just one click! This eliminates the need to copy and paste content for one platform and the next and so on.

4. socialondemand – a doddle
socialondemand also allows Microsoft partners, in less than three clicks to receive, edit, send or schedule posts, to any of their social networks.

Microsoft’s resellers say it all, with 74% rating their experience of using socialondemand highly. Being easy to use, is a value 78% of resellers appreciate, improving efficiency levels. This includes adding social media accounts, setting content categories and selecting content to post.

Overall 89% of all resellers believe socialondemand, as offered by Microsoft, adds value to their business and is relevant to their own customers.

This is not only beneficial to resellers, it also ensures that Microsoft retains control of their content, and consistently amplify their brand messages to the millions of social media followers their partners have. A win-win-win scenario for all involved – Microsoft, their partners and their partners’ followers!

The feedback says it all
‘Content is a great help and saves me time trying to source my own.’

‘Please keep the content coming – this has now helped us start a social media marketing strategy.’

‘This has been a great addition for a company of our size to engage with useful and relevant content through social media.’

‘I find that most of the content is relevant to my business and like the fact that Microsoft are finding content for me to post which saves me a lot of valuable time.’

‘In a busy world having Microsoft SocialonDemand, is a god send. The ability to have relevant content that my network will find useful is invaluable. Love this tool – really great way to get sellers advocating our products on social media.’

‘The system has been very easy to use and a brilliant complement to our other social media and digital initiatives.’

Find out more
Register for our next webinar with Microsoft and discover how it is revolutionising the way Microsoft works with its channel partners. February 26th, 2015 at 5.00pm GMT.

12 February – Oooops, I didn’t mean to do that. 5 mistakes you’re probably making on social media

With social media dominating the online marketing world, it is fundamental that businesses learn what works and what does not. On a daily basis I see the same mistakes, again and again!
It’s high time I prepared you all with my top 5 most commonly made mistakes list. Don’t worry if you are guilty, now is the time to learn, develop and move on.

1. Hashtag overload: Time and time again users adopt the ‘let’s hashtag everything’ approach. Instead ask yourself, what do hashtags actually mean? It’s simple, they are used as a way for people to search for a given topic.

Yes, multiple hashtags will results in you appearing on numerous lists, but the benefits end here. You want to provide enticing targeted content, not hinder the clarity with too many hashtags. Instead choose a couple of popular targeted keywords; this will be a lot more effective.

And remember that for Twitter, you only have 140 characters to play with. What would you prefer? To use this limited space to make your post enticing or to use hashtags for potential search benefits?

2.Posting to one social network: It is important you manage all of your social media accounts and not just focus on one. I know this can be tempting at times due to time constraints and some receiving better responses than others, but you want to be easily found by all your potential customers. Yes, some social networks may be better than others for your industry, but you should aim to post on all the relevant social media in order to gain coverage and brand awareness.

3.Engaging with followers: The amount of companies that do not reply or thank followers for retweeting is shocking. How can you expect those followers to engage and be interested in your brand if you can’t even reply to them? A lot of business occurs on social media, as an online word of mouth. Take advantage of this and promote your business in the most favourable way. It doesn’t take much, send a few thank you posts and copy them in.

If you receive negative posts whatever you do, do not leave them or worse still delete them, that would be disastrous. Make sure you respond in a friendly, knowledgeable way, showing the public that you take complaints seriously and value their input. This will remove the negativity from the original post, making you the problem solver.

4.Visual appeal: What catches your attention more than an image? So answer me this, why are they still absent from so many posts? It’s the easiest way to quickly summarise what you are talking about, whilst being prominent on the news feed. Choose an eye catching image that is in high resolution. There is nothing worse than a pixelated image; this will draw attention to your brand but for all the wrong reasons. Standing out is key.
For Facebook and LinkedIn, why not go the extra mile and post your videos? Surely this will catch your audience’s attention, don’t you think?

5.Self-promotion: Does your profile look more like a sales pitch than an information source? If so, this could quite possibly be the worst mistake imaginable on social media. No one wants to follow a company that just promotes themselves all the time. Instead, consider issues your target market have that lead them to your business and post informative content around this. You need to be perceived as a thought leader. This will increase your following base, and then from there you can promote yourself. You will become a trusted advisor to solve their issues, being their first port of call when they demand your products.

So please whatever you do, make these five points your main social media priority for the coming weeks. Change your approach. Spend some time on your news feed and examine what works and what doesn’t, taking away tips from there.

I know it can be tempting to carry on with the same old strategy, but how can you expect to receive better results if you’re not willing to change. Now is the time to develop and grow your online presence, so embrace it!

And if you have sales staff that are begging for content or if you work with channel partners, then you should consider social media amplification platforms, like our own socialondemand®. This will make a huge difference to your social presence and brand awareness. But enough said!

04 February – I’m so popular! How to become a channel social media genius

Social media is often used to amplify brand messages, increase awareness and gain thought leadership. But only a few companies actually get this right, especially when they are promoting through their sales partners or employees. So how do you become one of the lucky few?

The danger with social media
Most research firms agree: two-thirds of the buyers’ decision is done digitally. Customers look at websites, review sites, social media outlets to form their opinions. By the time they are ready to interact with you or any of your channel partners, they already know what they want to buy.
This poses a major problem for any organisation; how can you influence these potential buyers before you know they even exist? More importantly, how can your sales partners and sales staff influence these prospects?

The solution: social media amplification
To succeed with social media, you must consider social media amplification, i.e. sharing content with your employees and/or channel partners and making it easy for them to re-post your content on their own social networks.
Remember however, on average your partners have between 5 and 13 vendors that they work with.
Unless they’ve previously worked in a circus, juggling all this content can be challenging. So here’s what you need to do:

Make it easy: By using social amplification platforms, you can allow relevant, targeted content to be shared to your partners, and their social media, without all the hassle. Your advocates can choose the ‘streams’ of content they want so they will not be bothered with what isn’t pertinent to them or their customers. Platforms, like our own socialondemand®, also allows them to post to any of their social networks in just one click (to all social media accounts). Easy!

Turn your advocates into thought leaders: Partners and employees will be able to share your content as if they had created it themselves, a beneficial selling point as they are, improving their own profile too. The end user will then go to them for further advice, being an indirect, effective selling tool.

Content sharing: 70% of content should be industry relevant to draw customers in, and 30% should be your content e.g. press releases and e-books, showing you’re the expert. You are the solution to your customer’s problems. You need to identify what issues they have and share content around this. The 70/30 rule is essential. You don’t want to be perceived as just selling yourself as this can be boring!

Educate: Your advocates need to learn helpful tips to improve their online presence. Encourage them to follow more people, interact on social media, and build up a following base. Once this is achieved you can start sending them content.

What social media platform should your advocates use?

For B2B your sales partners and employees should focus on LinkedIn and Twitter.

LinkedIn: Encourage your advocates to join groups, reply to comments and join in on conversations relating to their industry. Only post between 1 or 2 times a week though; this is the optimum amount.

Twitter: Scheduling tweets is essential as everything moves very fast on Twitter. You can send the same content around 3 times, but make sure you alter the subject title so it looks different.

Hashtags are key here to attract a wider target audience whilst mentioning you and your advocates.

Images have also become increasingly popular on Twitter, making your posts more attractive to followers.

You can also @mention companies you are connected to on Twitter to encourage a conversation, but this has to be from your personal profile.

The main point to take away here is to make everything incredibly simple for your advocates. The simpler it is, the more likely they are to push the content out.
Using social media platforms like socialondemand encourages the best participation, so try it. It will make all the difference!