Concise Learners – Interview with Jennifer Corcoran

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Recently we caught up with one of our past learners; Jennifer Corcoran.

You finished working through our training courses about 8 months ago.  How have things changed in your businesses since you started?

I can hand on heart say that doing my training with Concise Training has literally changed the course of my professional career.  I was an Office Manager within Financial Services in London when I first started training with you guys back in 2014. I’m currently a Solopreneur working out of TMRW which is the largest tech hub in South London in my home town of Croydon. In August 2016, I quit my role of 11 years to do some continued professional development and in April 2017 I launched my first business.   I have drawn on my extensive experiences in the provision of high-level, high-quality executive support to set up My Super Connector.

Tell me more about your business

My Super Connector is a Social Media Consultancy.  In a nutshell, I help passionate people in business to polish their social media profiles and connect with finesse.   I cover the platforms of LinkedIn, Facebook, Twitter, Instagram, Pinterest and Blogging.  By using my social media and social media management training, I’m able to engage Personal Assistants, Solopreneurs and small companies to review and assess their social media offerings and provide valuable advice and training on how to improve their presence in order to drive growth, productivity and profitability.

Do you remember why you took the Concise Training courses?

I was fed up of feeling out of the loop and wanted to feel comfortable online and doing your courses gave me that much-needed spring in my step.  I loved the e-learning platforms as I could do them at my own pace and in my own time.  It’s safe to say that to cut through and add value in this digital age you must increase your visibility and improve your chance of being heard.  Social media is not going away anytime soon and it’s a perfect platform for introverts like myself to shine and make an impact.  Thanks to you guys I’m an award-winning entrepreneur as your training enabled me to connect, collaborate and thrive.

Going forward, I’ll be keeping in the loop in the Concise Social Networking Support Club which keeps me abreast of all developments in LinkedIn, Facebook, Twitter and Google+ as Social Media, as you know, is ever changing at a rapid pace.  I especially love the monthly update reports which help to keep my finger on the pulse.   It’s reassuring to know that I can get my social media enquiries answered by experts in a fun and informal way and I’m forever learning from the engaged community members.

What are your aims for the rest of 2017?

My mission for My Super Connector is focused around the fact that you don’t have to be the loudest person to get noticed, you’ve just got to be the most effective.  2017 for me is about getting the word out that I’m in business and hoping to help as many people as I can reach their target audience and business/career goals.  I’ve two speaking gigs coming up and some potential podcasts and guest blogs so the future is looking exciting.  There is a lot of networking and connecting on the horizon!

You can contact Jennifer

Website: www.mysuperconnector.co.uk

LinkedIn: Jennifer’s LinkedIn Profile

Twitter: Super Connector

Facebook: Super Connector

Instagram: Super Connector

Pinterest: Super Connector

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Concise Learners – Interview with Gregory Blackett

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Gregory Blackett recently completed our social media for business diploma.

You finished your 12-month Diploma in the last couple of months. How have things changed in your businesses since you started?

I’ve applied the principles covered in the program from the outset and continue to refine my approach. I now have a much clearer understanding of the ‘technical’ aspects of the various channels, and how to leverage them effectively. The reach, following and level of engagement with our audiences have significantly improved resulting in a number of deals sourced directly from social media.

Tell me more about your portfolio of businesses

Advantage Caribbean Institute Ltd. offers a range of training solutions in information technology, management, productivity, performance enhancement and career development in Barbados and the Eastern Caribbean.

Kinetic Sales Solutions provides sales, business development, outsourcing, social media and digital marketing services. Working with partners in various sectors the business connects clients with customers.

Olexis Enterprises LLC owns Lake Cay Condo, a luxury vacation condominium rental in Orlando, Florida

Do you remember why you took our course?

I recognised the growing importance of social media for professionals and businesses and the potential for career development. The field is gradually maturing in the region and there is a need for qualified practitioners. To my knowledge, this program provided by Concise Training through Advantage Caribbean Institute Ltd is the first City & Guilds social media and digital marketing qualification in the Caribbean.

What are your aims for the rest of 2017?

The businesses are in various stages of developing their overall strategies. As the year progresses the aim is to achieve the established benchmarks for each. Social media is key to maintaining viability and building the respective online presences.

You can listen to the rest of our interview with Gregory below.

 

You can contact Gregory

Telephone: 246-249-7774 / 860-924-6639

Email: grblackett@outlook.com

Skype: gregory.blackett

Twitter: @gregoryblackett

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Are you using the right social media channels for your business in 2017?

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Are you using the right social media channels for your business in 2017?

As I’m sure you are aware, social media marketing never stands still.   Not only do you need to have an always on” presence but as social networks continue to develop and evolve (join our Social Networking Support Club to keep up to date with the changes), it is worth regularly checking whether you are using the right channels for your business.  You are investing a great deal of time nurturing your online presence you need to be engaging with the right audience!   Take a look at our 5 tips to ensure your social media marketing will be successful in 2017.

Tip 1

Have a social media strategy and keep at it. Social media takes time and effort over a sustained period to achieve results. If you need help with this, take a look at our popular Social Media Strategy online course or ask us about our social media strategy services.

Tip 2 

Consider your audience demographic.  Trackx has created this infographic which provides an overview of some of the key audience stats for all the major social platforms.  This can help you determine which channels will work best for your business in 2017. There is no point spending lots of time on a channel if your audience is not going to be there but on the other hand don’t use too many channels there is a time/resource/investment balance required.

The infographic is as from Social Media Today and was created by Trackx.Source

Tip 3

Social Media may have changed since you started to use it. Let’s look at some of the key trends in 2017, as these may influence your decisions:

a) Social isn’t just for Millennials anymore According to this study by Pew Research, social networking use among Internet users ages 50 and older has nearly doubled—from 22% to 42% over the past year!

b) The line between Internet user and social network is becoming less distinct. In the same study, in 2009 only 46% of online adults used social media; this figure has now risen to around 70%. In a recent conversation with a friend of mine who runs a karate club, he refers to his Facebook channel as his website’ and uses this to good effect to advertise his business and keep his followers informed of events and classes together with useful tips.  Not every business needs a website and a Facebook page these days.

c) Video remains king Facebook has enjoyed considerable growth since its launch of live video streaming earlier in the year.  According to Social Media Week, the algorithm puts more emphasis on longer videos as long as they have relevant content.  We will only see more brands experimenting with this why not give it a try?

d) Increase in personalised content With the ever increasing amount of content published online, it is more important than ever to make sure your content is seen by the right people at the right time.  Collect data about your audience and create targeted content that really appeals to them. In a simple format, you could use Facebook remarketing to advertise to people who have visited your website or send targeted e-newsletters to different segments of your database.

Tip 4

Take another look at your social media profiles and make sure they still represent your brand. Check whether the cover photos need a refresh or whether the bios still accurately represent what you do and contain relevant keywords, and, if appropriate, hashtags.

Tip 5

Plan your content.  Create and plan content ahead of time.  We have started to use Content Cal to plan content across the brands we manage.  It is a visual tool that makes it easy to post and schedule updates in different categories to LinkedIn, Facebook and Twitter.  They offer a free version for 1 user perfect for small businesses.

What changes are you going to make?  Let us know in the comments below.

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Have You Created a Thunderclap?

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Have you created a Thunderclap? Our latest blog posts explores the use of Thunderclaps.

Have you even heard of a thunderclap?  A thunderclap is a way of getting lots of people to post the same update on Twitter and Facebook at the same time to generate the maximum impact. This works particularly well for a cause.  More than 12 billion Thunderclap messages have been seen in 238 countries and territories shared by over 7 million people.  Thunderclaps have been used by event organisers, charities and brands to promote their message.

There are a number of steps required to create your own Thunderclap:

Set up the Thunderclap

  1. Go to www.thunderclap.it
  2. Login with Facebook, Twitter or Tumblr
  3. Click Start
  4. Fill in the profile details about you
  5. Fill in the status update you would like shared along with the link you want to share and a photo. Note the status update (link not included) needs to be a maximum of 118 characters to allow space for the Thunderclap shortened version of your link.
  6. Fill in any information about the cause or reason for the Thunderclap.
  7. Choose how many supporters you will be able to get. You need to achieve the number of supporters or your Thunderclap will not be posted so it is best to aim for the minimum of 100 supporters unless you are very confident.

Get Supporters

  1. You now need to get people to support your Thunderclap by sharing a link to the Thunderclap. People can support using Twitter, Facebook personal profiles or Tumblr.
  2. It can take some time to get people to support, so it is a good idea to set up your Thunderclap at least a month before you want it to go out.
  3. As people support the Thunderclap, you are given the potential reach of the status update.

The Day Arrives

  1. When the day of your Thunderclap arrives, assuming you have reached the minimum supporter numbers, your status update will be shared automatically at the same time by all your supporters. As you can imagine this could reach thousands of people.

Example

This is a Thunderclap I have set up for a charity we are working for.

An example of a Thunderclap which we have set up for Walk with Me.

We would be grateful for your support.  You can experience ThunderClap (and support #WalkWithNyasha) by clicking this link

Let me know about any Thunderclaps you set up.

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Concise Training has received CPD Accreditation

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We are delighted that Concise Training has received CPD Accreditation.

We are delighted to announce that 10 of our popular e-Learning courses have received accreditation by the CPD (Continuing Professional Development) certification service.

The CPD certification service has been established for over 20 years and is the leading independent CPD accreditation institution operating across industry sectors to complement the Continuing Professional Development policies of professional institutes and academic bodies.

CPD is the holistic commitment of professionals towards the enhancement of personal skills and proficiency throughout their careers. (Source)

Why CPD Accreditation?

Many professional bodies require members to submit annual CPD statements to show what learning they have undertaken during the year.  Many people find that doing CPD courses help them develop professionally and update their knowledge and skills.  The advantage of taking a CPD accredited courses is that you can be sure that the course is of a high quality as all CPD courses (online and offline) are put through a thorough quality assessment to ensure they …

  • Help keep your capabilities up to date with current standards and other people in your area of expertise.
  • Help you to be more effective in the workplace ad advance your career.
  • Help you to increase your confidence professionally.
  • Help you stay interested in learning.

What are the benefits of our CPD accredited eLearning courses?

Our e-Learning courses are created solely with the user in mind who wants to learn in their own time and at their own pace. Each course is structured into learning objects each filled with valuable hands-on learning material. 

Each of our courses … 

  • Are updated regularly (every 6 months)
  • Takes the learner from a basic to advanced level of knowledge and skill set
  • Is written using an educational scaffolding approach, building on knowledge in a logical fashion
  • Includes exercises to check on learning
  • Includes an end point assessment to check learning is put into practice. The end point assessment will receive individual feedback from the Concise Team.
  • Is supported through email and a private Concise Facebook group.

We have received CPD certification for the following courses:

Social Media Strategy for Business 17 CPD Credits

Our social media strategy for business online course will teach you how social media can be used in your business effectively. It will ensure that you use the correct tools and interact with the appropriate audience for your business. By the end of the online course, you will have created a social media strategy, a social media policy and a content plan.

Blogging for Business 19 CPD Credits

Our blogging for business online course will explain in detail what a blog is, what software you can use to create one and how to use that software. You will learn how blogging can be used to promote your brand and attract new business.

Facebook for Business 15 CPD Credits

Facebook is a must-use’ social network for many businesses. With our comprehensive Facebook for business online course, you will learn how to use Facebook, why to use Facebook to reach your audience and what you want to achieve from the social media channel.  You will investigate who your Facebook audience will be, and where to find them as well as what to say on Facebook and how to encourage engagement.

Instagram for Business 5 CPD Credits

Our comprehensive Instagram for business online course will guide you on how you set up your profile and get started on Instagram. You will also learn how you will benefit from using Instagram as a marketing tool for your business. 

LinkedIn for Business 11 CPD Credits

During our LinkedIn for Business online course, you will learn how you can develop and market your personal brand and that of your business using LinkedIn. You will find, contact and engage with important business contacts and potential customers.

Pinterest for Business 10 CPD Credits

Our Pinterest for Business online course will teach you how to use Pinterest and help you to understand why you would want to use Pinterest for marketing your business. You will investigate the type of Pinterest pins to use, what to post, how to link the platform to your website and how to encourage engagement.

Twitter for Business 13 CPD Credits

By completing our Twitter online course you will understand how to use Twitter cost-effectively and time efficiently and how to reach out and communicate with the correct audience for your business. During the course, you will learn how to develop your brand awareness, provide excellent customer service and keep up with your competitors.

Creating Video for Business 19 CPD Credits

By completing our video for business online course you will be able to produce, create, edit, publish and share your professional video at a fraction of the cost of paying for expensive video creation fees. 

Introduction to SEO (Search Engine Optimisation) 6 CPD Credits

Our Introduction to Search Engine Optimisation online course helps you to identify relevant keywords for your business and incorporate them into your website and shared content such as blog posts, social media posts. 

WordPress for Websites 15 Credits

Our comprehensive WordPress for websites online course will take you through the features of the WordPress software and the steps you need to create your own website from scratch or to maintain an existing website in-house. You will create a WordPress website complete with blog.

So what are you waiting for? Update your skills and knowledge, get to grips with a new social media / digital marketing channel and help your career development by taking one of our CPD accredited e-Learning courses today.

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Concise Learners – Interview with Joanna Dorrington Brook

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We recently caught up with our former ITQ Social Media Learner; Joanna Dorrington Brook

Joanna, you finished your City & Guilds ITQ Social Media Certificate in November last year, how have things in your career changed since?

Studying for the course helped me get a new job in May last year and I have been able to utilise the skills I learnt on the course within my new role. I have also recently launched a social media management company with my husband called Willow Social Media.

Tell me more about Willow Social Media

After many years of friends and family asking for help with either their own social media accounts or with their businesses social media accounts I decided to set up Willow Social Media.

“I had learnt so much on the ITQ Social Media Certificate that I really feel that I have the necessary skills and experience.”

Willow Social Media by Joanna Dorrington BrookWillow Social Media is a social media management company for individuals and small businesses. We offer professional social media marketing tailored to individual requirements and we offer 2 great package options that will get their social media activity up and running.

We can also offer bespoke packages to suit individual needs along with special training packages to take you through setting up and maintaining your accounts, using social media management tools, monitoring brand chatter and reputation monitoring and management.

What are your aims for 2017?

My main aim is to continue to grow the customer base for Willow Social Media. I am also currently working on the website for Willow Social Media and I hope that will be live in the coming week. I hope to continue to implement my learning from the City & Guilds ITQ Social Media Certificate.

You can contact Joanna

M: 07527181215

E: dorringtonbrook@live.co.uk

F: @Willowsmmarketing

T: @Willowsocialme

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Concise Learners – Interview with Roxanne Lawrence

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In the latest of our interviews with past Concise learners, we catch up with Roxanne Lawrence.

You completed our Diploma in Social Media around 6 months ago. What have you been up to since?

I spent the first few months after finishing figuring out what I needed to do to build my confidence. I know I completed the course, but I still felt I needed more confidence to be able to sell my services. I have 3 children – aged 11 months, 1 ½ years and 6 years old and enjoyed spending some time relaxing with them and letting what I had learnt sink in.

I then started looking at jobs and realised that I really would be able to achieve my ambition of earning money and still being able to work around my children. I updated my profile on LinkedIn and applied for a part-time social media content manager role which I got. I was then headhunted through my network and have just got an additional part time role working for a new brand – We Grow Daily. I am initially creating the social media strategy and policy for them and then will implement the strategy. I have realised that I just know the right things to include in the strategy – because of the course. I hadn’t realised quite how much I had picked up! I’ve also been contacted by a recruitment company – due to having the qualification. I really can now build a career as a social media strategy consultant as well as training people to use social media.

Doing the course has opened up these doors – 100%”

Do you remember why you took our course?

There were a number of reasons.

  • I wanted a recognised qualification. People have heard of ‘City & Guilds’ so it makes it more credible on my CV. There are lots of social media diplomas out there – but they are just names rather than an accredited qualification.
  • I also wanted to know how to do social media for business properly. People think it is easy, but I wanted to have the underlying business aspects of social media. I felt it would offer more flexible opportunities to have a career.
  • I liked the detail of the course. It seemed like it would give me a lot of information.
  • I felt that I could get it done – even though I was pregnant with my third child. This turned out to be correct, My tutor, Di, was very accommodating and helped me get the course finished – even if slightly late and ensured I still had access to the e-learning for a couple of months after the course.

What are your business / personal aims for 2017?

I want to build the brand of Grow Daily which is an online portal bringing together inspirational videos, books, podcasts into one place to help people develop both personally and in business. I also want to build upon what I learnt in the course to see it in action.

You can contact Roxanne

Roxanne Lawrence

E: roxannelawrence@adeptsocial.com

W: www.growdaily.co.uk

T: 07940 707783

T: @WeGrowDaily

L: @glamroxanne

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Concise Learners – Interview with Lucy Khan

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The next part of our interviews with some of our past learners is with Lucy Khan.

Do you remember why you took our course?

I had spent 20 years as a graphics designer and 8 years as an energy assessor and wanted a new challenge. As a single parent, I needed something that would offer me flexibility with options for working at home as well as working in an office so decided to look into social media marketing. I could see that there were loads of businesses wanting people to do their social media marketing and I wanted to be a part of it. However, I realised that if I was going to do it, I needed to learn how to do it properly so I started to look for a distance learning course that would give me an accredited qualification and one that went into reasonable depth on how to use the channels. Your Diploma in Social Media for Business suited my requirements perfectly. I had an existing business – GoArty – a paint your own pottery business, which I could use to provide my evidence.

You started our Diploma in Social Media around a year ago. What have you been up to since?

I started the course around March 2016 and applied for a social media marketing job in a marketing agency in September 2016. Part of the reason I got the role was the fact that I was doing the qualification. It was a part-time job with great flexibility but I soon realised that sitting at a desk in an office just wasn’t for me anymore. I had been mobile as an energy assessor moving around buildings and going from client to client, and I found that sitting at a desk had a detrimental effect on my body and realised I needed to think again.

I continued to run GoArty while I considered what I wanted to do – and identified that I needed something which would give me repeat business, allow me to develop relationships with my clients, can move with me if I decide to relocate and allows me to physically move throughout my day. Pilates was the obvious solution – something that I love doing myself – and I am now just about to finish my Pilates qualification. I already run a couple of classes and look forward to expanding my classes in the future.

How has the course helped you grow as a business?

The course has given me knowledge and confidence to use the full range of social media channels as well as YouTube, blogging etc. It has helped me be selective in the channels I have used and be more focused and be confident that I am making the right choices.

“I now know the value of what I’m posting which means I’m writing more effectively”.

Even though I eventually decided not to manage social media for others – it did help me get that original job. Now, most of my Pilates clients have come through social media. I’ve no doubt that I have learnt a life skill that will always help me grow my own business.

What are your business / personal aims for 2017

I would like to build my Pilates business – increase the number of classes (through the use of social media of course). I might also look at taking further Pilates qualifications.

You can contact Lucy

Lucy Pilates

E: lucy.khan@live.com

W: www.lucy-pilates.co.uk

T: 01295 266804

T: @LucyPilatesKhan

F: @PilatesLucy

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Concise Learners – Interview with Christine Rayner

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In our latest interview with past learners of Concise Training, we catch up with Christine Rayner.

Christine, you finished your City & Guilds ITQ Social Media Certificate in April 2013, how has your business grown since?

I have two businesses:

  1. Tangram Marketing. As a marketing consultant since 1997, I was based in traditional marketing.  Doing the social media course gave me the knowledge and confidence to expand the business so I could offer good social media and digital marketing advice as part of the marketing solution. The course opened my eyes to the variety of social media channels available and made me think carefully about how and why a business should select a particular channel based on their audience.
  2. The Late Breakfast is a networking group in Oxfordshire.  Before the course, The Late Breakfast was using social media, but it was very scrappy.  What I learnt from the course made us more structured, consistent and more successful.

“I can’t imagine where the businesses would be now, without the course – we certainly wouldn’t have grown as we have”.

Tell me more about Tangram Marketing.

Tangram Marketing’s ideal client is small, owner-occupied businesses with less than 20 employees. The owner has to buy into the need for marketing – both financially and personally as, particularly if they want to use social media, they will have to be prepared to allow followers to know the people behind the brand.

Ideally, I will work as a regular, ongoing part of the business.  I will always start by putting together a strategic marketing plan (could be 1 page or more) and will either implement the plan myself or manage the implementation. I like to be involved in the implementation to start with as it allows me to get to know the client base and makes me more informed about the audience. I will then often train internal staff or use trusted associates to continue the implementation.

Can you remember why you chose our course?

Well, of course, I knew Mary through networking. I was confident Mary would provide me with a supportive learning environment which would help with the fear factor – it was scary getting back into learning as well as learning something new! I realised it would be challenging, but I knew I could complete the course in the right sort of learning setting.

So 2017 – what are your aims for this year?

I want to build on the digital marketing / social media services and support I provide. I can see a great need for it and I am being approached more and more for help.

Contact Details

You can contact Christine:

E: christine@tangram.ltd.uk

W: www.tangram.ltd.uk

M: 07968 957977

T: 0118 952 6992

W: www.thelatebreakfast.co.uk

T: @latebreakfast

L: https://www.linkedin.com/company/the-late-breakfast

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Concise Learners – Interview with Caroline Ward

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Our third interview with one of our former learners, Caroline Ward.

You completed our ITQ Social Media Certificate around a year ago. How has your role changed since?

In addition to my existing role in the business, I have taken on the role of managing our social media platforms – particularly Twitter which is proving to be very successful for us and appeals to our audience. We do have a presence on Facebook but we don’t get so much engagement on this channel. We have found that more people are coming to our events because of what they see on Twitter. This year we are confident to double attendance from last year at our main event which takes place later in the year.

Do you remember why you took our course? How has it helped you grow as a business /person?

Taking the course has given me the confidence to use the platforms – knowing what to say, how to say and when and why to include hashtags. Because the course covered so much, it has generally given me more confidence to be online and try other technology.

I’ve also improved my personal network with partners but also in general, through the better and more confident use of LinkedIn. Although I don’t post as often as I should, when I do post, I can see that I get views – so I can see my personal profile building.

On a separate note, the course has made me more aware of the security issues around being online and I have been able to share what I have learnt with my family.

I liked the courses because they didn’t assume knowledge but built up skills and knowledge in a step by step way, giving informative and detailed information.

What are your business / personal aims for 2017

2017 will be business as usual for the business. We want to continue to grow awareness, increase our followers and promote events. We will also be sharing messages about our new cloud platforms which we are expecting to attract a different set of follows.

Caroline Ward can be contacted:

e:   caroline.ward@autodesk.com

w:   http://forge.autodesk.com and www.autodesk.com/adn

m:   +971 50 656 9027

t:   @ADNCarolineWard

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Can You Bulk Schedule Tweets for Free?

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Schedule Tweets in Bulk for Free

We have been huge fans of Hootsuite here at Concise for a long time because it offers a good blend of functionality without breaking the bank. Perhaps the most useful feature for a business looking to manage its social media accounts is the ability to bulk schedule social media posts in advance by uploading a CSV file. Nowhere is this more important than with Twitter where posts are shorter and a greater volume is required. Hootsuite has several different membership options:

  • Free account
  • Pro account – from £7.99 per month
  • Team account – from £27.99 per month per user
  • Business account – from £69.99 per month per user
  • Enterprise account – Bespoke pricing

The bulk scheduling of tweets was always available on all but the free account and for a reasonable fee of £8 or £9 a month you got access to the ability to forward schedule up to 350 tweets. It was brought to our attention recently that this is no longer the case. It appears that in a change of policy, Hootsuite now only offer bulk scheduling to those that sign up for a team account which costs £27.99 a month per team member minimum. In response to finding this out, we quickly checked existing free, pro and team accounts that we have access to and discovered in these that the features available were as they were and what we would expect to see but the Hootsuite website does indeed suggest that bulk scheduling has been withdrawn from the pro account feature list:

hootsuite prices

Surprised by this move we did a quick check comparing Hootsuite to its competitors and sure enough, for new accounts, you must fork out around US$35 a month in order to get access to bulk scheduling. Thinking about it, this could well be a reaction to changes in the way that Twitter allows apps to work with it. With the closing down of Twitter Dashboard which offered businesses some basic twitter management functions, we would not be surprised to see things like bulk scheduling incorporated into the native twitter app soon.

Because many people want to use this time-saving feature but can’t afford to shell out so much of their hard-earned cash on it, we have collated below some cheaper alternatives to Hootsuite and its competitors that offer bulk scheduling of Tweets:

Buffer – need free account + https://www.bulkbuffer.com/  – although a workaround using the add-on service bulkbuffer, you can use this to bulk schedule for free.

twittimer.com – pro plan needed for bulk scheduling $5.41 per month

twuffer.com  – $5.99 a month for bulk scheduling

We have not used these services ourselves so cannot vouch for how well they work but they all state that they offer bulk scheduling on Twitter for a low monthly fee and appear to be nice and straight forward to use.

Let us know if you have used any of the above and what you think about them or their alternatives.

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The New LinkedIn – How do you use it?

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Our latest blog explores how to use the new LinkedIn.

Have you got the new version of LinkedIn yet? It seems to be rolling out on a fairly random basis. At a recent workshop I delivered, I didn’t have the new version but most of the attendees did.  It is almost like LinkedIn are delaying moving some of the larger more complete profiles perhaps they are having problems. 😀

Anyway, I have found an empty profile that I can use to show those of you that have it how to use the main parts of the new version.  I suspect they are still making some changes so we won’t be covering it in too much detail.

The new simplified version of LinkedIn (designed to align with the mobile app) looks very much like Facebook.  On the Home Page, your profile sits top right.  The Newsfeed is in the middle below the entry box for status updates.  On the right, there will be a new section called What you need to know now’ (trending topics) depending on what your contacts are doing or saying (I haven’t seen this on any home pages yet).  Below this is an ad card.

The ad cards on the new LinkedIn are really easy to navigate.

On the top, there are 8 areas on the menu bar.

  • Search
  • Home
  • My Network
  • Jobs
  • Messaging
  • Notifications
  • Me
  • More

Looking at each of these in turn (from a changes perspective):

Search

Search has been updated to one search box to cover people, jobs, companies, groups and schools (searching posts coming soon). 

The search function of the new LinkedIn has been updated. You will eventually be able to search for posts.

Choosing all results shows the specific types of search

The specific searches of the new LinkedIn are shown in this image. You can search by people, jobs, companies, groups and schools.

Choosing one of these options shows the filters on the right-hand side of search (they were on the left before).

The filters, which were previously on the left before have now been positioned on the right on the new LinkedIn

The search results don’t seem to be displaying in order of closest connection as they used to.   According to LinkedIn, the ranking is dependent on relevancy of ranking to the searcher”.  This will include keywords, the searcher’s profile and attributes and the activity of the profiles returned.

Boolean search doesn’t seem to work as well as it used to this seems to be moving to the paid version of Sales Navigator.

Home

There are a number of sections on the Home page:

  • On the left-hand side of the Home page, you can 
    • Update your profile (see later)
    • Grow your network (we don’t recommend entering your email address)
    • See who has viewed your profile (much like before)
    • See who has viewed your updates
  • Share an article, photo or update. 

You can easily share a photo or article easily on the new LinkedIn

Clicking on share an article, photo or update allows you to write a short update, mention somebody using @, or add a photo. You can now edit your post which is a big improvement!

You are now able to edit your post via the new LinkedIn, which is a huge improvement.

Click Write an Article to write a long form article.  This is similar to before.  The cover photo at the top of the article seems to be less restrictive and more flexible in managing different sized images but the uploaded image will need to be landscape

The newsfeed has been tuned so you see content from publishers and people you care about. New ways to dive into specific topics relevant to you and follow trending stories” will be rolling out.

Update your profile

This has generally been made easier to use.  The main changes:

  • The background photo is now 1536 x 768 pixels (narrower)
  • The profile picture is circular
  • Contact information (email, website, phone etc) is on the right-hand side of this section.
  • Photo / Headline / Summary are all changed within the top section.  Only the first two lines of your summary will be seen by default so these need to be carefully crafted.

Updating your profile has a new look on the new LinkedIn.

  • Clicking Views of your share will show how many people have viewed your posts and updates.  You can see more about who is reading and engaging with your content (company, job title, location)
  • On the right-hand side, there are certain extra sections you can add to your profile. However certain sections like Interests’, Advice for Contacting’ and Causes’ seem to have been removed as Sections for new profiles.

You can add new sections to your profile on the new LinkedIn. It is a more simplified layout.

  • It is not possible to reorder the sections in your profile.
  • When you update your profile, changes don’t get sent to your network in general.  No need to remember to change the setting!  For specific sections, e.g. skills you have the option to change the setting for that section.

You can add your list of skills in the new LinkedIn.

Highlights

When you look at someone’s profiles, you will see a new Highlights” section just under the 2 line summary.  This will show any mutual connections, companies you have both worked at, groups you are both members of or how they can help with an introduction into companies.

My Network

Will display all outstanding invitations, all your connections as well as people you may know.  All tags (if you used them) have been removed and you can only sort by recently added, first name and last name.

Jobs

This hasn’t changed significantly at the moment

Messaging

Options to message connections will be seen throughout LinkedIn and LinkedIn will offer more suggestions to message based on what you are doing within LinkedIn.  For example, if you are looking at a job opportunity, you will be told who in your network works in the company.  

LinkedIn will also frequently suggest what you might want to say to somebody as a conversation opener.

Remember you will now see sponsored messages from companies (including LinkedIn).

In your messages you will now see sponsored messages from companies, which include LinkedIn.

Notifications

Notifications will show what your contacts have been doing as well as who has viewed your profile as before.

Me

Another way of getting to your profile as well as viewing your privacy & settings.

You can access your profile and your privacy and settings by clicking on 'Me'.

The privacy and settings section had already been changed. See our blog post about this.

More

The More section will change and develop depending on what you have access to on LinkedIn.

The 'More' section is where you will access a Company profile on the new LinkedIn.

The More is where you will access your company profile (which also uses the new Cover page size).  Changes to the company profile section will be covered in a separate blog post.  We will also do a separate post for Profinder and Lookup which are new apps that are now in the UK.

Over to You

What do you think of the changes if you have them?  Do you like the new look or do you just hate change?  Are there any features that you think are missing?  We are just about to add a section to our latest LinkedIn e-learning course to cover this in more detail.

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Concise Learners – Interview with James Stevenson

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CT Learner James Stevenson

James, you finished your social media and digital marketing apprenticeship in Sept 2016. As part of your apprenticeship, you took our Diploma in Social Media for Business. You were working with Global Knowledge at the time, how has your role changed since?

Global Knowledge sells IT courses with over 40 training centres in 12 countries and offering 1000 courses. The courses offered are customer focused to ensure effective, convenient training supported by responsive customer service.

I am still working in digital marketing with Global Knowledge, but after I finished my apprenticeship, I moved to the UK side of things (I was working on EMEA – Europe, Middle East and Asia). My role is within the team focused on the website – maintaining the Content Management System (CMS), looking at Google Analytics and making changes for search engine optimisation. I also do a little pay per click optimisation. I have more responsibility now and slightly more focus.

How did the course you did with Concise Training help during your apprenticeship?

Because we applied our learning through practice with Concise Training, it gave me the confidence to make and suggest changes in real life situations.

What are your business goals for 2017?

During 2017, I am going to be part of the Global Knowledge team who are going to migrate to a mobile optimised solution for our 14 websites (UK and EMEA). I would like to continue to be involved in large projects and take on more responsibility.

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Concise Learners – Interview with Anna Marsden

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Anna Marsden completed our ITQ social media certificate in 2013. In this interview we catch up with her and see how her business has changed since completion.

You completed our ITQ Social Media Certificate at the end of 2013. I believe you and your wife had just set up Social I Media at the time. How has business changed for you since?

Wow! We have changed a lot since then. We started Social I Media as a way of working using our skill set and doing what we enjoyed – Anna, my wife is a journalist and brilliant at writing. My skill set was around training and digital communications. Over the past 4 years, we have focused more on communications generally rather than marketing specifically. We feel we are communicators with knowledge of digital marketing rather than marketers.

During 2016, we took the plunge to rebrand to Luminescence– Brighter Communications.   We write quality content for professional services – mainly, but not exclusively aimed at the B2B market. We work closely with businesses to:

  • Create strategies – for communications in general, for PR, for content or social media marketing
  • Create and/or copy edit content. This might be online or offline content of all forms including visual, audio and written and includes white papers, researched articles, campaigns and more. We are using the digital knowledge we have to ensure we create content that people will read and engage with.
  • Manage PR. We create exposure and manage reputations of businesses on a regular basis.
  • Training – We deliver bespoke training for specific clients and specific industries across communication disciplines. We deliver training in a number of digital areas including search engine optimisation, digital marketing, social media, public speaking, crisis communication and more.

From a business growth point of view, we now work with a number of associates – journalists, researchers, PR and content specialists as the clients we are working with have increased in size and quantity.

We won our first award during 2016 too. The CIPR Pride Awards Gold – it was a good year all in all!

Do you remember why you took our course? How has it helped you grow as a business /person?

I originally took your course as I wanted external validation as a social media / digital expert. Your course was the only one accredited and I realised how important that was – as opposed to getting a branded certificate. I enjoyed the course as it forces you to evidence what you are learning – you don’t just get a piece of paper.

After taking the course, I was paid back many times over. I created the social I media website as part of the course (so didn’t need to pay for that). In addition, 1 website page which was optimised based on what I learnt during the course sent enough work our way, to pay for the course 5 times over!

We also won work because I could use the digital knowledge I gained when writing in bids – and could evidence the skills.

“Never a day goes by without me being grateful I did the ITQ in Social Media”.

What are your business / personal aims for 2017

Now we have gone through the rebranding exercise, Luminescence needs to push on and identify additional work which fits into the professional services communications arena. Personally, I intend to focus on growing the training arm of the business, delivering bespoke training but also working with trusted associates to deliver short easy to understand modules in digital communications and content distribution for specific industries.

Thank you for your time Anna and I’m delighted to see how much your business has developed since first working with you.

Anna Marsden can be contacted via

M: 07984 638586

T: 01223 850359

E: Anna.Marsden@WeAreLuminescence.com

W: WeAreLuminescence.com

T: @HiLuminescence

L: Luminescence Communications Ltd

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Facebook Lead Generation Ads – Should you use them?

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Facebook Lead Generation Ads - Should you use them? Our latest blog looks at how to use Lead Generation on Facebook.

Have you tried running a lead generation ad on Facebook?  Lead generation ads are an alternative to running a website conversion ad which goes to a lead page for visitors to sign up for more information or to download a piece of content. The advantage of lead generation ads is visitors stay within Facebook and information is automatically populated by Facebook.

We have a Facebook Lead Generation Ad running at the moment to attract leads for the next running of our Diploma in Social Media for Business course:

Step 1 The ad seen is:

Facebook Lead Generation Ads - Should you use them? The ad is shown with a 'call to action' called 'Learn More'. The call to action can be tailored to you.

Clicking Learn More will show

Facebook Lead Generation Ads - Should you use them? After a user has clicked the call to action they are directed to where the call to action is pointing. In this instance 'Learn More' provides more information.

As you can see, this gives the opportunity for the business to give more information about the benefits of what you are offering.

Clicking Send Me More Information (you can choose what the button text says) will display:

Facebook Lead Generation Ads - Should you use them? The next page you see allows us to have another call to action. In this example 'Send me more information' is the call to action.

You need to include on this screen the URL to your a privacy policy on your website.  You can choose what fields you would like prospects to complete in this form.  Email and Full Name are automatically completed by Facebook based on viewer’s settings (which may not be correct). The trick is to make this as easy as possible for prospects to complete, so it is probably not a good idea to include too many fields.

Clicking Submit will show

Facebook Lead Generation Ads - Should you use them? After the user has clicked submit on the form, they will then see a bespoke message.

It is not possible to add URLs to this text or to change the View Website’ text.

Leads are available to download within the Facebook Ads manager.  This is either done manually or you can automatically link the form to a CRM System (e.g. MailChimp) so an email is automatically sent.  This is currently done through Zapier but is a premium Zapier option so would be an additional cost. 

We have opted for the manual download option as we want to send a personal email to people interested in the qualification but if you were asking people to download a document, you would really need to set this up to happen automatically so that the download was instantly available.

This works much better if a lead page is set up and the website conversion ads are used. Whether the lead page is set up on your website or using one of the third-party lead generation tools, you can normally send an automated email pretty easily.

To me, the advantage of a Facebook lead generation ad is that it is quick and easy for prospects to leave their contact details particularly on a mobile phone.  Once you have those contact details, you can then use other methods to market to them.

At first glance, the cost of the lead ad looks significantly more expensive than the cost of a website conversion ad.  However, it is worth looking closely at the numbers and it might be worth doing some split testing.  

For example, you can normally expect to pay between £0.30 and £0.75 per click for the conversion ad.  Note, this is per click.  You then need to get people to sign up on your lead page. Assuming a 5% conversion rate on the lead page, if your ad was clicked by 100 people.  It would cost between £30 and £75 for 5 leads.  The lead ad is working out between £5 and £10 per lead so between £25 and £50 for 5 leads slightly cheaper in this case.

Have you had any success with lead generation ads?  Do share.

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Home based working – Is it for you?

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Is Home based working for you? Our latest blog explores the pros and cons of working from home.

The New Year is often a time to think about where your life is going both personally and in your career.  If you managed to get a break over the festive period, this week is often the time when you go back to work and wonder if you wouldn’t be better doing something else.

Home based working is a real option these days and allows you to take a more flexible approach to your career.  You might be able to negotiate some work from home days in your current job or perhaps you want to think about a complete career change?

In the last 8 years, I have been running Concise Training, I have met some amazing people doing some interesting jobs, based from home and perhaps, more importantly, working the hours they want to work.  I have met coaches, trainers, accountants, HR Managers, software developers and of course website developers and marketers who have all been based at home, working flexible hours.

Only yesterday, I met a lady based in Swansea who looks after dogs walking, home boarding and home visits.  She has grown her business over the past 2 years, is very busy and loving her job. 

In my own business, we have a flexible business model my employees work from home they have set hours but the nature of the business is that there is some flexibility within that. Doctor’s appointments, children’s school plays or builders have all meant over the past year that individuals have been able to take time away from the business during the set hours and make up the time later.  A win / win for everybody.

Personally, I find the advantages of home based working are massive:

  • I set up my business to be able to work around my children, so I could have a conversation with them when they got home from school (or now, phone from University), or take time out when they needed to go places.  
  • I can walk my dog during the day good for me and the dog and make up any time outside traditional working hours.
  • I keep my overheads low, so can pass that saving on to clients
  • I can work from anywhere.  At the moment, I’m working from Swansea rather than my home in Faringdon but there is no difference from the point of view of my clients or team.
  • As I travel to clients to deliver bespoke training or consultancy I can work anywhere in the UK (or world)

However, home based working isn’t for everybody before you start, think about:

  • Can you be disciplined?
    • Have set hours you work and keep to them.  This might avoid the oh I’ll just finish this one more task’ syndrome and allow you to switch off.  
    • Create a work environment that you can shut the door on.
    • Don’t check your email outside work hours all too easy now email is accessible on a mobile phone.
  • Are you self-motivated?  When you are working, you are meant to be working not cooking, cleaning or ironing.  
  • Do you have plans to get out and talk to others?  Use Skype and phone to talk to your clients and others in your team.  Get out to networking meetings, yes to market your business, but also to have relevant conversations with others.

I know some people prefer to actually have a nearby office to go to each day perhaps at a local business centre to separate home from work.  as well as have the option to talk to others. 

This is all possible because of the changes in the last few years in both the Internet and more importantly the changes in social media / digital marketing.  At the end of the day, you still need to find clients and market your business one of the ways of doing this is via social networking. 

Is home based working for you? You need to be disciplined but it can allow you to have the perfect work and life balance.I found my dog walker in Swansea via Facebook she has an active account, regularly posting pictures of happy dogs on the walks.  My own business would not survive without the Internet and obviously, we would not have a business without social/digital marketing. 

Whatever the business, the Internet and digital marketing in some form have become essential to announce you are open for business.  In fact, digital/social media marketing is now a career in its own right there are currently 3,741 digital marketing jobs and 491 social media marketing jobs advertised on LinkedIn in the UK. Clearly, not all of these jobs are home based, but I was pleased to see this Digital Operations job was advertised as a home based role.

In reality, many businesses are struggling to use social media / digital marketing correctly to get a return on investment and are looking for help.  Many of the learners who have done our social media and digital marketing City & Guilds qualifications have set up their own consultancy business working from home to offer this help.  We will be sharing their stories in our blog during 2017.   If this is something that appeals to you, why not look into our 12 month Diploma in Social media for Business starting on 10th Feb or our Diploma in Digital Marketing starting on 17th March.

What are your experiences of home working?  Do share.

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Facebook Templates

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Facebook Templates Blog.

Facebook are rolling out a change which means you can choose how your page will appear to your visitors based on what you are using it for.  Facebook templates seem to be rolling out in a fairly random way.  To find out whether your page has them, you need to manually check.

To see the new Facebook templates, click Settings on the top right of your page.

In this image it shows the top of a Facebook profile where you will access settings.

Then click Edit page.

If you have the new settings, you will be able to choose Templates.

This image shows how the new settings will appear. This will determine whether you are able to currently access the new Facebook templates.

There are a number of pre-made templates including

  • Standard
  • Shopping
  • Venues
  • Gaming
  • Politicians
  • Professional Services
  • Restaurants & Cafes

Each template shows different default tabs along the side of the Page page and different buttons under the Cover Photo. The layouts might also affect what is shown in the middle column you could show videos or events at the top.  We have noticed that it wasn’t until we chose the Shop template that we got the option to create a shop tab on one of the pages we are managing.

Standard

Toolbar Buttons Like, Follow, Message, Share 

Tabs Home, Posts, Videos, Photos, About, Likes

This image shows the standard Facebook Template

Shopping

Buttons Like, Follow, Message, Share

Tabs Home, Posts, Photos, Shop, Reviews, Videos, Events, About, Likes

This image shows the Facebook template for shopping.

Venues

Call to Action Learn More

Buttons Like, Follow, Message, Share

Tabs Home, Events, About, Videos, Photos, Reviews, Posts, Likes

This image shows how the Facebook Template for venues looks.

Gaming

Buttons Like, Follow, Message Share

Tabs Home, About, Videos, Photos, Likes, Posts, Reviews

This image shows the standard Facebook Template

Politicians

Call to Action Send Message

Buttons Like, Follow, Message, Share

Tabs Home, About, Videos, Posts, Events, Notes, Photos, Likes

This image shows the Politicians Facebook template.

Professional Services

Call to Action Call Now

Buttons Like, Follow, Message, Share

Tabs Home, Services, Shop, Reviews, Photos, Videos, Posts, Events, About, Likes

This image shows the Facebook Template for professional services.

Restaurants & Cafes

Call to Action Call Now

Buttons Like, Follow, Message, Share

Tabs Home, Photos, Reviews, Posts, Videos, Events, About, Likes

This final image shows how the Facebook template for Restaurants and cafes will appear.

Once you have chosen a template, the tabs and buttons will automatically change.  However, you can still reorder the tabs.  It is interesting to note that at the moment the buttons are all the same.  Perhaps this will change in time.

What do you think?  Have you implemented a template?

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How to like a page post as yourself if you are administrator – Nov 16 Change

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The way you like a page post as an administrator has been changed via Facebook. Our latest blog looks at the change.

So Facebook is rolling out another functionality change when nobody was watching. If you are an administrator on a page, you sometimes want to like a post as yourself, not the page.  To do this on the desktop, click on the drop down at the bottom of the post.How to like a post as yourself if you are an administrator has been changed by Facebook.

The next display will depend whether the change has been rolled out to your page.  On some newer pages I manage, we see the following screenHow to like a page post as yourself if you are an administrator has been changed. The image shows how the option my appear to some users who's Facebook business page has been updated to the new appearance.

Clicking the back arrow at the top left (circled), show you

How to like a page post as yourself if you are an administrator has now changed. The image shows the pages that Mary manages. Mary would select which page she wishes to like and comment as.

You can then select to post or comment as yourself or another page.

On older pages, you will not see the middle screen.

Note: you can’t post as yourself using either the Facebook or Pages app (at the moment!)

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Do you have a Facebook shop?

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Facebook Shop has begun to slowly roll out in the UK. Our latest blog explores the benefits and features of listing your products and services on Facebook.

The ongoing evolution of Facebook continues as it starts to slowly roll out a new shop feature to business pages. This is building on the idea of Facebook wanting users to remain within Facebook regardless of what they want to do online.

A few months ago Facebook updated the look of business pages so that they operated more like a website (read our blog on this here). The introduction of a fully integrated shop is not, therefore, a surprise and in fact, so far, it seems a really promising development.

To be able to set up your shop your business page needs to have been given the added functionality. If you have a ‘shop’ tab on your page then you need to click it, agree to the terms and conditions and start adding products. If you don’t have a ‘shop’ tab then don’t worry, they are continually being added – but it does seem to be quite random.  A brand new page may be given the functionality before existing pages!

Here is how the Facebook Shop will show on your Facebook Business Page.

How to set up your Facebook shop

Once you have agreed to Facebook’s Merchant Terms and Policies, you will be able to begin adding products to your store. 

You can have up to 10 products in a featured section, which appears at the top of your shop page. Any product in the featured section will appear larger with 2 products highlighted. The viewer can then scroll through all 10 products whilst remaining within Facebook.  Note 3 products are shown at the top of the Facebook page (as opposed to the shop section).

This is how your Facebook Shop featured products will appear on your Facebook Business Page.

To begin adding products to your shop click ‘Add Product’ this will open a window, which will allow you to start to list a product.

Adding a product to your Facebook Shop is easily completed by filling in the relevant information on the product info screen.

Here you add the name of your product, the price, a description, the URL link to your website and whether you wish this product to appear in your 10-featured listings.

You will need to add an image at this point. Your image will need to fully represent the product, have very little text and be a minimum size of 1024 x 1024 pixels. You can read more about Facebook’s shop guidelines here.

Once you are happy with your product listing, save it. Repeat these steps to list any products that you wish to appear on your Facebook Shop page. Below is how our courses look on our Facebook Shop page.

Your products are displayed in your Facebook Shop with the option to edit and share. Sharing is useful if you have a promotion on a particular product or you wish to showcase a product.

Once you have added all your products, your shop will be accessible for anyone who visits your Facebook Business Page. A really good feature is that you are able to share individual products to your Business Page timeline or your own personal timeline. This is a useful addition if you want to promote a certain product or if you are reducing the cost due to a special offer.

The image takes prime position on your products listed in your Facebook Shop.

Will Facebook Shop be useful for your business? Let us know your thoughts.

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Can Facebook work in the workplace?

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Can Facebook work in the workplace?

It’s no secret that Facebook have been working with various companies over the past few years to create a work-based platform of its social media channel. Recently, on a fine autumn day in London, Facebook finally unveiled Facebook Workplace to the world.

The first thing worth mentioning is that Facebook Workplace is a completely separate entity to Facebook. Users will need to create a new login and profile solely for use in the workplace. This tackles the issue for companies where their employees may be distracted at work by notifications from their personal profile. Facebook Workplace will help reinforce brand values and provide a method of communication which is familiar to its employees thus offering transparency within the organisation.

Facebook have recently launched Facebook Workplace. This image shows how the new channel will display on smartphones.

The principal behind Facebook Workplace is to keep you connected with your coworkers, rather like Facebook keeps you connected to your friends and family. You will be able to share images, videos, status updates etc.  ‘Live’ will play a huge part in the Workplace experience with the possibility for users to broadcast seminars, meetings, presentations to employees all over the world.

There are new features that have been specifically designed with businesses in mind.

  • Multi Company Groups – This provides a shared space for employees from different organisations to work together and collaborate in a safe and secure way.
  • Dashboard with analytics
  • Integration with Windows, Ping, OneLogin, Okta, G Suite and Azure AD.
  • Single sign-on (SSO)

Facebook are marketing Workplace to businesses as a replacement, or upgrade, on existing bespoke intranet systems, or to companies who are looking for more than just email and telephone communication.  It is being marketed as an alternative to Yammer or Slack.

What’s the catch?

The main difference between Facebook and Facebook Workplace is the cost. After a free 3-month trial companies will have to pay if they wish to continue using Workplace. The pricing is structured on the number of employees a business wants to have as Workplace users. Companies with up to 1000 users will pay $3 per active user. 1001 to 10,000 users will cost $2 per active user and upwards of 10,001 users will cost $1 per active user. However, businesses are not tied into a long-term contract.

Educational institutions and Non-profit organisations will be able to access Facebook Workplace for free. If you are charity, I would recommend you investigate using Facebook Workplace to make communication more effective and cut down on emails.

Will Facebook Workplace be successful?

Although Facebook has been trialling a version of Workplace for a few years it remains to be seen if the platform will become an instant success with businesses. Will businesses be convinced to replace their existing system with Facebook Workplace?

I was talking to a business only yesterday who were currently trialling the use of Yammer but think Facebook Workplace might be better for them as the training needs would reduce considerably as most of the staff already know how to use Facebook.

You can read Facebook’s announcement about Facebook Workplace here.

If you are a business that is going to try Facebook Workplace we would love to hear from you.

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Can you see social media marketing tactics in the “real world”?

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Can you see social media marketing tactics in the “real world” ?

I recently returned from a trip to the USA. During this trip, I saw many fantastic sights and had some amazing experiences. I also had a less than amazing experience on the way home due to the failure of British Airways’ check-in and baggage systems – but that is another story and perhaps another blog post about contingency planning. There is one particular experience from my trip that I wish to share with you here because part way through a conversation with a shop owner, I realised that I was experiencing the physical embodiment of what makes for good social media marketing.

I will explain…

My wife and I were visiting Glacier National Park in the north of the USA – a fantastic wilderness of stunning scenery and wildlife (well worth a visit). We had been on a sightseeing boat trip and having returned a few minutes earlier than expected we decided to pop into a gift shop to kill a bit of time. We had no real desire (or intention) to purchase anything but were simply passing by and thought we would drop in to while away a few minutes before getting some lunch. The conversation that we then had with the shop owner was a perfect example of how to carry out good social media engagement even though this was a real life scenario. It went something like this:

(shop owner dialogue is green, mine is blue and my comments are RED)

On entering the shop we were greeted by a warm and friendly smile from a well-presented lady who looked very relaxed, content and happy to be of service. – FIRST IMPRESSIONS WERE GOOD (IN A SIMILAR WAY TO A GOOD PROFILE PICTURE).

The lady lived up to these first impressions with a friendly opening gambit:

“Hi guys, how are you today?”USE OF A QUESTION TO IMMEDIATELY ILLICIT A RESPONSE FROM US – ENCOURAGING ENGAGEMENT

“Very good thanks, you?” was my reply.

“Oh, I love your accent! Where are you guys from?” ANOTHER QUESTION SHOWING INTEREST IN THE POTENTIAL CUSTOMER

“Newcastle, North East England. Do you know it?”

“Not that area but I have been to England a few times, I have relatives in Norfolk. Have you been there?”A POTENTIAL STUMBLE HERE WITH A CLOSED QUESTION

“Yes we have been to the area a few times but it is quite far (by UK standards) from us and it takes a long time to drive there.”

“So when you say it takes a long time to drive there…?”SPOTTING AN OPPORTUNITY TO KEEP THE ENGAGEMENT GOING

“Oh I don’t know, maybe 5 or 6 hours depending on traffic”

“Really?! That long? You don’t think of car journeys in England taking that long because it is such a small country. We have to drive everywhere up here, we are used to driving for hours to visit a particular shop or go see friends…”

“Yes but you don’t have the same traffic problems here that we have back home…there are more than 65 million people crammed onto our small island. Driving out here is much easier.”

“Do you have a car here? Have you come far?”GETTING MORE INFORMATION FROM POTENTIAL CUSTOMER THAT MIGHT LATER INFORM A SALES OPPORTUNITY

“Yes, we have a hire car. We have driven up from Salt Lake City through the Grand Tetons and Yellowstone before arriving here.”

“Oh wow! What a fantastic trip. Where are you heading after this?”NOTICE AT THIS POINT THAT WE ARE IN A SHOP BUT THERE HAS BEEN NO ATTEMPT TO SELL US ANYTHING BUT SHE HAS ESTABLISHED A RAPPORT WITH US BY NOW, WE FEEL COMFORTABLE IN HER COMPANY AND MORE LIKELY TO ASK HER QUESTIONS.

“We are driving up into Canada after this and then going west to Vancouver before we fly home”

“Oh great! Do you like ice cream?…there is a fantastic place just over the border that makes its own ice cream from buffalo milk. I will show you…”AT THIS POINT SHE DIGS UNDER THE COUNTER AND BRINGS UP A MAP SHOWING THE BORDER AND CANADA

“Where are you crossing the border? Chief Mountain?”

“Yes”

“OK, that is good because the crossing there is quick, if you went across to the west coast and tried to cross over north of Seattle it takes hours…make sure that you don’t have any food or drink with you when you go the border crossing because you are not allowed to import it to Canada. Have your passport handy and sometimes they will ask you where you are planning on heading and where you are staying so it can speed things up if you have your itinerary and details of the accommodation that you have booked as well.” VALUE ADDED CONTENT BEING VOLUNTEERED WITHOUT PROMPTING

“Thanks, that is good to know”

At this point, she spins the map around on the counter so that it is facing us. She points out the border crossing and ice cream place, circling them on the map with a pencil.

“Do you know what route you are taking?”SHE HAS SPOTTED HERE AN OPPORTUNITY TO HELP ME WITH A POTENTIAL PROBLEM

“I was thinking of heading up here and then cutting off this corner to make it across to the Trans Canada Highway,” I say as I point to the map with my finger.

“Yes, you could do that but it won’t be any quicker because they are fixing the bridge here,” she says as she marks the map with her pencil “and if you go up this way you could stop here for lunch … try the apple and blueberry pie it’s fantastic …” she then circles a small town just off the road and writes next to it “great pie”.

The conversation went on like this and I soon realised that this woman was a wealth of useful information regarding travel in the surrounding area so I started to pick her brains a bit and due to her valuable advice we changed the route we had planned on taking.

“You may as well take this, I have drawn all over it now,” she said as she handed over the map”MORE VALUE ADDED CONTENT GIVEN FOR FREE

“Thanks! That’s very kind of you.” I say.

So at this point, we have been chatting in this lady’s gift shop for several minutes and we have gained lots of valuable information from her. She hasn’t tried to sell us anything or even prompted us to look around her shop but she has been so helpful that we feel obliged to at least look around. We ended up buying several items in her store spending money that we otherwise would not have spent in there all because of how helpful and friendly this lovely lady has been towards us.

We did indeed follow this lady’s advice when we left Glacier. We whisked through the border crossing in a matter of minutes having all the information requested easily to hand and yes, the apple and blueberry pie was excellent!

I was reflecting on this conversation as we drove west along the Trans Canada Highway towards our night stop in Revelstoke and determined that I would write up a blog post about this experience. That night in Revelstoke, we were having a drink in the hotel bar and got talking to a couple who were driving east having just arrived in Vancouver. It turned out that they were following a route not too dissimilar to that which we had driven but in reverse. They planned on stopping in Calgary and then heading south to cross the border into the USA to visit Glacier and Yellowstone National parks…

“Well, in that case, you should go here” I got the map out at this point “the ice cream here is fantastic and the apple and blueberry pie here is amazing…I don’t need this anymore, why don’t you take it?” I handed the map across to them “it was given to me by a lovely lady in the Glacier Park gift shop here, you should go there, it is a great little shop with loads of locally made arts and crafts …”

It wasn’t until the next day that I realised that what I had done was the physical equivalent of re-posting the value added content that the shop owner had provided us. I even added a ‘comment’ and recommended that they visit her shop.

I like to think that the couple heading south took the time to call into the gift shop and spend some money  … who knows, maybe they even returned the map.

Do share when you have experienced social media tactics working … on or off line.

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Why don’t hospitality businesses use social media for engagement?

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Hospitality and social media

I was talking to Amanda, one of my trusted contacts the other day and she was complaining how few hotels, restaurants and other hospitality businesses respond to her queries on social media.  In fact – she tweeted about it shortly after – and was kind enough to mention us 🙂

This was Amanda's Tweet in which she mentioned Concise Training in regards to Why don’t hospitality businesses use social media for engagement?

Around the same time, I remembered the study from Sprout Social says about 9 in 10 social media messages sent to brands go ignored!   Of the ones that are answered, the average wait time for an answer is 10 hours.  If the brand does responds, 70% of people are more likely to use a product, 65% are more brand loyal, 25% are less likely to go somewhere else or post negative things and 75% would share the positive experience online.

This got me thinking why don’t hospitality businesses engage?  I’m convinced that it would result in more customers – and that is what hotels and restaurants need isn’t it?

Shortly after, I read how the Marriott’s Hotel chain use social media.  Marriott’s have a set up a social centre where employees look at what people are saying about the brand and respond. 

Marriott’s take this one step further and use geofencing technology to see what people are saying on public platforms within their properties.  If a guest posts about an issue, they reach out to the customer care team to get it sorted.  If guest posts they have just got engaged, customer service may offer them champagne or something else to show they are valued.  This is a fantastic example of a brand listening to their audience and caring what they say and the company has said that this engagement leads directly to hotel bookings.

You might also be interested in our recent post about how football clubs are engaging on social media.

So why doesn’t everybody do this?

To be honest, I’m not really sure, but I think there are a few reasons:

  1. Not everybody has the resource to set up a team of employees to do nothing but look at social media.  However, if it leads directly to bookings is it not worth allocating some resource?   
  2. There is a lack of understanding about how to use social media for engagement rather than promotion.  It is a change in mindset about being helpful and offer added value rather than talking about how wonderful you are.  Some training might be needed.
  3. The systems aren’t in place to handle social media.  System and tools are available to help – again some training might be needed.

How can you engage with customers?

There are three ways you might have engagement with customers on social media:

  1. Answer Queries

I think it comes down to looking at social media as another customer touch point, rather than a promotional tool.  Any customer focused business should map all their customer touch points and review them to see how they can be improved.  Do you pick up the phone when customers call?  Do you answer emails?  Social media queries and mentions need to be treated the same way.  Even if you the business owner doesn’t like social media, you need to realise that it is the communication method of choice for some of your customers.  If you ignore them, they will go elsewhere.

  1. Customer Complaints

Yes, there is a danger of receiving more customer complaints if you are active on social media. However, I’m not sure that this risk decreases significantly if you are not on social media – you just won’t see the complaints and won’t be able to respond.  At least you have a chance to correct the problem if you see it on social media – as Marriott’s have shown.  

  1. Abuse / Trolls

OK, so this isn’t really engagement and it is not something that you would want, but we have to be realistic and say that it might happen.  I know of people who have left social media because they received abuse from competitors and others.  This is a risk like any other risk that you need to assess.  What is the best way of dealing with it?  The channels are getting better at allowing you to block abusive accounts and you need to put the procedures in place to know that it is not personal and to report abuse where necessary.  Hopefully, the new police initiative to target trolls will help reduce offenders.

What about promotion?

As I said earlier, you need a different mindset.  You have to put yourself into the shoes of your customers and think about what they want to see from you.  Pictures of food are popular, as are recipes, unusual ways of cooking, special events, getting to know the personalities behind the business and where the food is sourced.  Special offers and discounts may work occasionally, but it is a case of mixing it up and not just talking about how wonderful you are or saying ‘come to our restaurant / hotel’.

So what next?

  1. Allocate resource to social media in the same way you allocate resource to answer the telephone or email queries.  
  2. Put social media on mobile devices to make it easy to engage
  3. Create a content plan to identify what you can talk about
  4. Listen out for people talking about you and show that you care

Do contact us if you need help with social media training or content management – we would be delighted to help you increase your customer numbers.

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What’s The Story? – Instagram Stories

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What's the story - Instagram

Earlier this month, Instagram launched its new Stories functionality to seemingly appeal to users of Snapchat. It has since been rolled out across the world and has been well received by Instagram users.

Instagram Stories allows you to post numerous photos during the day for your followers to see and after 24 hours, the photos disappear. There is no doubt that Instagram is looking to retain existing users who may also be using Snapchat and their My Story feature.

How to make your Story

Your story is made up of your photos and videos that will be strung together to create a temporary slideshow that will showcase your story.

It’s really easy to start creating your story:

  1. Launch the latest Instagram app on your Android or iOS device
  2. Tap the plus (+) button on the top left-hand side of the main screen or you can swipe to the left on the screen.This image shows how to access Instagram stories.
  3. This will open up the Instagram camera where you have the option to flip the camera from back to front, set the flash to on, off or auto or return to the main screen. If you wish to add an existing photo then swipe down – you can only add photos that have been taken in the last 24 hours.Once you have opened the Instagram stories camera, you can take a photo or video.
  4. Tapping the circle at the bottom of the screen will take a photo, whilst holding it will record a video.
  5. You can swipe left or right to apply a filter to your image or video. There is currently seven filters available. 
  6. Once you are happy with the photo or video, you can edit it by adding text or a drawing. You have three types of pens to choose from, you can select the thickness of the nib and the colour you want to use.
  7. When you are ready, tap the tick – add it to your story!

Here you can see the editing stages of Instagram stories.

You can repeat the process to add further videos and photos to your story. Users will be notified that you have a story to share, as your profile will appear at the top of your followers Instagram feed and your profile picture will also have a circle surrounding it. Your Instagram audience will be able to swipe through your story for 24 hours.

In this image you can see how the colour circle appears when your friends have an Instagram story to share.

Instagram Stories Settings

Instagram have added some settings that you may find useful when using Instagram Stories.

Hide story from

This allows you to select any followers that you may not want to see your story.

Allow message replies

You can set whether you wish to receive replies from everyone, people you follow or you can turn them off.

This is how the Instagram stories settings page is displayed on an iOS device.

Have you used Instagram Stories yet? Please share how you have got on.

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Facebook Page changes – Do you need a website?

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Facebook page changes - do you need a website? Facebook have made some changes to the layout of their business pages.

Facebook have rolled out a major change to the look of pages on desktops.  The tabs that were along the top have moved down the right hand, the profile picture has been separated from the cover photo and the call to action button is much more prominent.

This screenshot shows how Facebook have changed they appearance of their business pages.

How can businesses benefit from these changes?

  1. You can use the whole space in the cover image without worrying about your profile picture covering it – though you still need to think about how it looks on mobile
  2. Your call to action button has become more prominent and therefore you need to check it is relevant for your page.
  3. The page name @concisetraining is clearly displayed and should be used on your marketing instead of the full URL
  4. The tabs now displayed on the left-hand side (they were there a few years ago!) offer more opportunity to show people what your business is all about.  For example, looking at our page:
    • We have a Newsletter Signup tab (using the Mailchimp Facebook app).  This is now much more prominent on the left-hand side than it was when it was hidden on the top.  
    • Our blog posts are published using the Networked Blogs app and are now easily available under the ‘Our Blog’ tab
    • We have used the Woobox App to publish the shopping page from our website under Online Courses
    • The Pinvolve app will show our Pinterest Boards

Having the tabs on the left-hand side makes it more likely that they will be used by visitors to your page.  You could even point them out in your posts.

Do you still need a website? 

There is definitely a website feel to the new page – and reconfirms the idea that Facebook are trying to take over from the need for a separate website.  However, I believe that a website will still be essential.  I don’t like the idea of being captive to the whim of Facebook changes – and the newsfeed algorithm and lack of search make it very difficult for businesses to be found / seen on Facebook.

Over to you

What do you think of the Facebook Page changes? Let us know if you have any questions.

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Study tips for the summer

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Study Tips for the summer. Enjoy the summer but if you have studying to do, don't put it off and give yourself too much to do.

As I am writing this blog the sun is shining and the temperature is rising towards 26°C. The summer weather has finally arrived, just in time for the schools and colleges to break up until September. You may even be getting ready to go on holiday with your family or friends.

Whilst it is important to enjoy the summer, have a break and relax, you need to ensure that you allocate time to study so that you don’t fall behind and don’t feel like you are playing catch up.

Study Timetable

You may find that creating a study timetable for your learning may be the best way to help you approach the summer. You can download a basic study timetable template here.

The benefits of a study timetable

  • You can plan your study time effectively and easily see the time you have allocated for studying and the time you are free.
  • You can break down tasks into smaller parts so that you don’t feel as overwhelmed if you kept it as one task.
  • You can base your study timetable around the times you feel you study best. Some people feel that they get the most out of studying in the morning.
  • You can make your timetable flexible so you can switch things around if something comes up.

Some tips to help you create your study timetable

  • If you have a large assignment or task to complete, aim to tackle that at the start of the day. This should stop you from putting it off.
  • Don’t give yourself too much to do. Ensure that your timetable is realistic – don’t try and cram 3 days work into 1 day.
  • Once you have completed a task, cross it off your timetable. This way you can see how much you have achieved.
  • Remember to factor in breaks into your timetable. Every 45 – 60 mins ensure you have a 10-minute break.

Apps to help you study

There are some really useful apps for desktop and mobile devices that can help you study over the summer.

GoConqr – is a free app that is available on iOS and Android devices. It includes a free study planner that makes it easy for you to manage your time more efficiently. Another useful aspect is that you can set yourself study goals allowing you to break large tasks into manageable chunks. You can also create flashcards if there are key elements that you are struggling to remember.  

Maths Alarm Clock – You know you have to study but you are struggling to wake up and have pressed ‘snooze’ numerous times on your alarm. Maths Alarm Clock is plain and simple, to turn the alarm off, you have to solve a math problem. This app gets your brain working as soon as you wake up. Maths Alarm Clock is a free app available for iOS and Android devices.

SelfControl – Is a free download for Mac. If you are working on an assignment and you get a notification from Facebook the chances are, you are going to look at it and potentially get distracted from your work. With SelfControl It blocks access to websites of your choice (i.e. ones that could distract you) for a specified amount of time.

Forest – An app to keep you away from your SmartPhone.  Set a time you are going to study for – and grow a tree.  If you stop the app  – the tree dies!  I’ve seen many teenagers keep at the books so they don’t kill their tree. Available for iOS and Android.

Do share any study tips or apps that you have found useful.

Concise Training’s social media courses are flexible distance learning courses that allow you to fit your study around your other commitments. All are tutor supported and are studied online, meaning you can study from anywhere where you have an internet connection … the garden, the beach, the park … ideal for some summer development!

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Find things to do this summer using social media

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Find things to do this summer using social media blog.

When it comes to the summer holidays, finding things to do and places to go to keep you and your family entertained can seem like a daunting task. There are many websites out there which provide information on forthcoming events in different areas and many of these are very useful but have you considered using social media so that information comes to you instead of you having to find it?

Read on to find out how.

Finding things to do with Facebook

Many organisations share details of events and activities on Facebook. You can find out about events easily. On the left-hand side when you log in scroll down until you see events and click “more”

On the left hand side when you log in scroll down until you see events and click “more”

This then presents you with a page which shows you events near you that are happening this week, Popular events near your location and suggestions of events that you might be interested in.

This image shows the results of the search and details what events are near you and happening this week.

The events that are suggested for you are based on your likes / interests and those of your friends. A really useful section is that for subscribed events. This showcases events published by pages that you might like – again suggestions are based on your likes and interests and those of your friends. Here you have the option to subscribe to the events published by these pages which means that you are informed about all their new happenings without having to lift a finger!

If you want to search Facebook for events in a particular location just type in the search box at the top “events in” adding the location at the end. For example a search “Events in Oxford” returns:

This image shows you the results of a search for 'events in Oxford'.

You can also try searching for “things to do in…” as this will often bring up posts that have been published by tourist information offices or venues. For example, if you were heading to the Leeds / Bradford area you might see posts made by Visit Bradford.

If you search for "things to do in ..." this will bring up posts that have been published by venues or tourist information offices.

Listen to what others are saying

Another tactic that you could take is to set up a Twitter list to monitor for certain phrases and keywords. This is something that is easy to do with a social media management tool like Hootsuite.

You could set up several lists to monitor for tweets about “events in Oxford” (or your chosen locations) and events aimed at certain types of person – “events for children” or “events for toddlers”.

If you are unsure how to set up search lists or you prefer to search Twitter directly you could try searching for particular terms and hashtags. For example, the folks over at Toddle on Down regularly use the hashtag #toddler together with a hashtag for a location so you could try searching for “#toddler #Oxford” to see what you can find.

This image shows the Twitter feed of Toddle on Down who regularly use the #toddler and a hashtag for a location making it easy to find events local to you.

Google Alerts

You can also monitor the Google index of web pages for any interesting new content that matches your chosen terms by using Google Alerts. This service will send you an email notification of new content that has been added to the Google Index. You could set this up with keywords or phrases related to the areas that you wish to visit, the type of activity that you might be interested in or phrases like “things to do for free in…”

This image shows you the search option for Google Alerts. You can input events, keywords or phrases into the search box.

How do you find things to do? Do you subscribe to newsletters? Social media broadcasts? Let us know your own tactics…

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Thoughts on the new Twitter dashboard

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Twitter have launched a new dashboard which is specifically designed for use by small businesses.

Twitter has launched a new way of managing a business account by scheduling Tweets, seeing what people are saying about you and viewing your analytics.

The Twitter Dashboard is available at http://dashboard.twitter.com/.  There is also a iOS app – but that is only available in the US at the moment.

As regular readers of my blog know, I am a big HootSuite fan, so will the Twitter dashboard take the place of HootSuite?  Let’s explore it in more detail.

The Twitter Dashboard shows four options on the top left – which offer some interesting insight into your activity.

Home

Offers 4 additional options

Screenshot showing the main screen of the new Twitter Dashboard app.

About You 

This can be used to show tweets that mention you or any related keywords, twitter accounts or hashtags.  You can also exclude words or phrases you don’t want to include.

Your Tweets

Shows all the tweets you have published.

Timeline

Shows all tweets from all the accounts you are following.

Messages

Shows any direct messages you have.

Create

Allows you to create a tweet and gives the option to schedule it in the future.

The new Twitter Dashboard app allows you to schedule Tweets for a later date / time.

Profile 

Allows you to select tweets to be displayed in a featured section.  

The new Twitter Dashboard app allows you to feature a number of Tweets so that they appear prominent on your Twitter feed.

Featured sections are optional – when turned on, your Twitter profile will have an additional ‘Featured’ Tab.  This will show latest tweets, a gallery of images and featured tweets.  Have a look at our Concise Training profile to see this in action.

The new Twitter Dashboard allows you to feature existing tweets and a gallery of your favourite images.

Analytics

Displays a number of sections for the last week, 30 days or 60 days

Activity

Displays number of tweets, the number of tweets with a photo, video and GIF and number of replies you have received.

Twitter dashboard also includes an Analytics section which shows how you are performing on Twitter.

Audience

Shows the number of times you have been mentioned and any new followers in the timeframe.

The audience section of the Twitter Analytics that are available on Twitter Dashboard.

Visits and views

Shows profile visits in the time frame as well as tweet impressions.

The views and visits section of the analytics on Twitter Dashboard show your profile visits and tweet impressions.

Our Opinion

Some of these features I really like.  The create option finally allows scheduling within Twitter – but HootSuite offers better functionality particularly in terms of the automatic scheduling and bulk upload (for those on the Pro option).

The Analytics section is useful.  It is good to be able to easily identify metrics for a week like mentions and replies and to see who has followed in the past week. I would like to see who has unfollowed too – but I guess this would be a bit negative for Twitter to display. 😃

Tweet impressions and visits are also good metrics, but more information is given in the full analytics available at https://analytics.twitter.com (including top tweets) so I’m not sure why you would use the dashboard analytics.

The featured section is very interesting and allows more control over what people see when they look at your profile – it will be important to make sure you keep this recent, though.

However, overall, I don’t see us giving up HootSuite anytime soon.  It offers better engagement, listening and scheduling features.  We would be interested to know what you think, though – let us know in the comments.

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LinkedIn Has Changed! – Settings have moved and navigating them is different.

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LinkedIn Has Changed! – Settings have moved and navigating them is different.

You may have noticed recently that LinkedIn has changed the way that you set some key settings for privacy and security amongst other options. For a short time you can opt to go back to the old way of doing things but soon the new settings will be applied to everybody’s LinkedIn account.

You still access your Privacy and Settings by clicking on your profile pic in the top right

Your accounts and settings as seen when accessed on LinkedIn

Beyond that, things have a new look and feel. Here is a quick summary of the changes:

Settings are now categorised under three tabs

Settings on LinkedIn are now categorised under three tabs.

The Account tab contains three subcategories of setting:
The Privacy tab contains four subcategories of setting:
The communications tab contains three subcategories of setting:

The settings that you are used to seeing are more or less all represented in the new layout but some have been given a slightly different name / description. For example, if you wish to change the email notifications that you are receiving you would now visit the Communications tab and Email Frequency.

Some of the privacy settings that you would have previously accessed by going to the Profile > Privacy Controls are now divided between the Privacy and Account tabs. Interestingly one of the settings that you used to be able to control via the old settings and which appears to be missing from the new settings is the ability to decide who can see your photo when viewing your profile. You can, however, set how other people’s photos are shown to you when you view their profile.

Another setting that appears to be missing from the new version is the ability to choose globally who can see your activity feed. This level of control appears to have been taken away from the LinkedIn user who must decide for each post individually who they want to see it.

The options for sharing a post on LinkedIn have also changed.

There are a couple of new options that weren’t in the settings before such as the ability to see a list of people that you have unfollowed so that you can refollow them:

You can now see a list of people that you have previously unfollowed, so you can follow them back.

In general, the new layout of the settings appears to be clearer and easier to find your way around. Settings have been grouped into more logical categories so you can find a setting which you have not previously accessed more easily than you could before.

As mentioned above there are one or two settings that have been left out of the new layout but for the time being, you can access the link that appears under the new settings to switch back to the old version:

For the time being you can still switch back to the old version of LinkedIn settings.

Some of the links from the old settings will just take you through to the new settings item. An example of this is clicking on the “Turn on/off meet the team” setting would take you through to the new version of this setting:

Some of the links from the old LinkedIn settings will just take you through to the new settings item.

This can actually be a useful way of finding where settings are in the new layout if you are used to the old layout but it might not be an option for much longer!

What do you think about the new layout for LinkedIn settings? Are there any settings missing that you used to use? Do let us know what you think.

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Web Chat Functionality – should you be offering it?

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Should you be using a web chat functionality on your website? Our latest blog looks at the benefits.

When you are selling products or a service online you are continuously looking to make it easier for your customers to obtain the answers to any questions or queries they may have. Like many websites at Concise Training, we have our contact details displayed so that they are easy to locate. Our email address, contact form, phone number, address and social media icons represent numerous ways that we can be contacted.

Despite having multiple contact methods we were aware that prospects sometimes want to ask a question immediately and don’t want to take the time to pick up the phone (I know I often don’t).  It could make the difference between them purchasing from you, purchasing from a competitor or deciding to come back another time (and then never getting the time).

Live web chat options are becoming more common across big brand websites. Sky Television have been utilising live web chat on their website since 2007. Mobile phone operators such as Three have also found success having a live web chat option available. A consumer trend study by ATG Global found that 90% of U.S. consumers consider live web chat helpful whilst 85% of European consumers ranked live web help as ‘useful to extremely useful’.  

Talking to the Concise Training team at the beginning of the year, we realised that we used live web chat options as a contact method ourselves when purchasing goods and services.  We also found that we had the resource to man a ‘chat option’ which was a keen consideration.  We didn’t want people to want to talk to us and have nobody available to answer. 

After some initial research and to prove the concept, we first chose a free WordPress plugin, which in principle did the job. However, it had a few downsides, including a limit to the number of chats you could have a month, an interface that wasn’t particularly user-friendly, no mobile functionality and it was a bit hit and miss whether it notified you that you had an incoming chat.   It did the purpose of proving the concept so, after some more research, we chose Pure Chat 

PureChat offers a free option which provides you with up to 15 chats a month on one website as well as visitor tracking. We initially installed the free option but after two months we were using all of our allocated 15 chats per month so we signed up for an option with 3 ‘seats’, which can be used on 2 websites and unlimited chats for $20 / month.  

The Pure Chat logo, our choice for a web chat functionality on our website.To date, we have been really impressed with the results from using PureChat.  We have seen a conversion rate of around 75% after chatting with customers. The other 25% haven’t all gone away but are just taking a bit longer to decide 😃.  This is significantly better than we saw from the website before installing Pure Chat.

Why Pure Chat?

It is easy to use – from the initial installation to general use, it is logically laid out and offers a very simple set of functionality.  Active visitors are shown including the page they are currently visiting, how many times they have visited the site, how they found the site  and where they are geographically located .  This allows Concise Training staff to monitor users browsing habits and initiate a live chat if they feel the browser could benefit from some assistance using the ‘Start Chat’ icon.  

The mobile app is fantastic offering an identical experience to operators as the desktop version from notifications to chatting.

From the visitors point of view, a (fully customisable) pop up graphic is displayed on the website. Triggers are available to have the chat box appear after a visitor has been on a page for a certain amount of time or has visited a specific web page(s).   You can also choose what information to collect when a visitor requests a chat. We request first name and email address to ensure we can have a personal conversation as well as a method of follow-up.

This image shows how the web chat functionality appears to visitors of the Concise Training website.

Other useful functions

Schedule & Profile

Each operator can set chat availability for each day of the week. For example, our availability is set to Monday – Friday 9am – 5:30pm.  It logs you in automatically at your start time and logs you out automatically at the end time.  

Notifications

You can set your notifications for incoming chats on your desktop or SmartPhone via SMS or the Pure Chat app.  Notifications come to all operators so you can share the workload.  It also allows other people to ‘Eavesdrop’ on chats to check quality. 

Transcripts

All chat transcripts can be downloaded so can be used for staff training, checking details or we automatically add transcripts to Nimble our CRM system so we keep a permanent record of our contacts with customers and prospects.

Canned Responses

You can set canned responses for anything that you may use on the majority of chats. For example, we have a canned response that is “Hi, you are through to Jonathan, How can I help you today?” All I do is add the visitor’s name to the response so they see an instant greeting from me.

Summary

We have been really impressed with Pure Chat (and have become an affiliate) but we are also impressed with the return on investment from having a chat function on the site and would highly recommend it as a way of giving your audience a personalised experience and a chance to experience the values of your business.  Do stop by and have a chat 😃

Do you use live web chat on your website? What are your experiences? Could it help your business? We would love to hear your thoughts.

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Pinterest Advertising in the UK – Lessons learnt from running a Pinterest Contest

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We run a Pinterest contest recently to gain an understanding of advertising on Pinterest.

In case you had missed it, Pinterest introduced paid advertising to their UK audience in April this year (2016). Shortly after it was introduced we decided to run a contest on Pinterest using paid advertising to promote it.  We had three aims for this – develop the brand, trial Pinterest advertising and get some real life examples for our forthcoming Pinterest E-Learning course. The experience taught us some valuable lessons and here we share them with you.

Back in May, we wrote a blog post on how to set up your advertising on Pinterest. If you haven’t already done so, hop on over to that one and have a read. In summary, though, Pinterest advertising works in a similar way to sponsored Facebook posts. You can sponsor a pin from your boards to boost its reach and select either to increase engagement or drive traffic to your website.

The Setup Process

Being familiar with Facebook advertising we found the step by step set up of a Pinterest promoted pin to be fairly straight forward. The bit that is likely to catch people out is the fact that if you want to sponsor a pin, it must already be pinned to one of your boards, you cannot upload it whilst creating the advert. You set the budget at the start or the end of the process and it can be changed before you launch the campaign.

Targeting

This is the vital bit for ensuring the success of your promoted pin. The better you can target your advert, the more cost-effective it will be. Think about it, you will get more success from putting your advert in front of a smaller number of interested individuals rather than a larger number of people that are not interested in your offering.

This is an area where we could perhaps have spent a bit more time for our own sponsored pin. You can currently target by Locations, Languages, Devices, Gender and Interests. We targeted our promoted pin to a UK, English-speaking audience of both genders. This contest was partly an experiment with Pinterest advertising so we chose the audience segmentation like this to give us enough reach but keep the cost per click down. Pinterest does indicate the kind of Cost Per Click bid that you will need to enter and we went for a mid point in this range. 

If we ran a repeat campaign we would spend more time on the targeting of interests. 

As Pinterest grows, the data that it holds on what people pin and interact with grows and users are better able to target their desired audience. There is quite a narrow range of interests to which a campaign can be targeted so we decided to try and rely on targeting keywords. 

This was probably a mistake as the keywords used in a promoted pin are aimed at capturing search traffic on Pinterest and they, therefore, need to be terms that people actually search Pinterest for. This is where the audience on Pinterest needs to be considered carefully. People search for subject names on other social platforms. Searches on Pinterest are slightly different in that people search for specific objects, designs and colours so bear this in mind if you choose keywords for your pins. The range of interests that you can pick from when setting up your campaign will undoubtedly grow as Pinterest continues to attract more and more users.

Tip 1: Our advice would be to look at the interests that you can target with Pinterest promoted pins before you create your pin – tailor the pin to the interests that are available rather than trying to target a pin that you have already created. You will get your pin in front of a greater audience but you will need to ensure that it is still relevant to them if you wish to achieve engagement or increased website traffic.

Visual advertising

Our Pinterest contest was a bit of an experiment and we weren’t expecting a fantastic response because of the time that we took to devise and promote the campaign (very little). We were guilty of treating Pinterest advertising as the same as advertising on other social networks and it is not. The audience on Pinterest is creative and visual. If your pin is not visually interesting it will not even be noticed and will be dismissed quickly. The Pinterest audience is also short of time and less likely to read details – so competitions need to be quick and easy to enter or they just won’t bother.

We created images to promote our Pinterest contest across our social media channels.

Tip 2: To run a more successful campaign we should have created a contest that was quicker and easier to enter than ours was and it should have been based around the “warm” colours of the most often repinned images – reds and oranges.

Lifespan

Here is where Pinterest differs from many of the other social networks. It takes a pin 3.5 months to get 50% of its engagement. Compare this to the average lifespan of a post on Facebook or Twitter and you will instantly see that you should be thinking of Pinterest as the long game. We ran our contest for just a short time and really, in Pinterest terms, we didn’t give our pin long enough to get noticed.

Tip 3: Be prepared to allow the advert to run for longer than on other social channels.

Analytics and Success Measurement

The analytics from which you can interpret the success of your paid advertising are presented nicely and are fairly straightforward to understand but they are a bit limited. As the paid advertising model becomes more established on Pinterest we would expect to see much more detail become available in the on-screen analytics though it is possible to export the data to a spreadsheet to manipulate it as you wish.

We achieved some impressions and clicks which ultimately led to contest entries and some positive feedback on Twitter.

The tweet we received from the winner of our Pinterest contest.

With a bit more planning of the campaign and more consideration of the audience we were targeting, we would probably have done a few things differently.   

This was an experiment that has confirmed a few things that we suspected about Pinterest advertising and well worth us doing. 

The overriding lesson that can be taken from our experience is that you need to understand the audience on Pinterest, realise that they behave a bit differently to those users on Twitter and Facebook and tailor your advertising with this in mind.

Tip 4: Have a go with Pinterest ads, you will learn from the experience 🙂

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Learning Goals for Marcus Rashford

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The approaching kick off to Euro 2016 has got me thinking about learning goals.

As we approach the kick-off for the European Championships 2016 there has been a lot of talk of the inclusion of Marcus Rashford in the England squad. More than once I have heard the phrase “steep learning curve” mentioned in the discussions resulting from this decision and it got me thinking about the phrase “learning curve” and what it really means.

The phrase is normally used to represent how a body of knowledge is learned over time and the phrase “steep learning curve” to mean that a learning experience will be difficult and a lot will have to be learned in a short space of time. It seems to me that Rashford has all the necessary skills and attributes to hit the ground running at Euro 2016 but does he really face a “steep learning curve?. If you look at a graph of learning plotted against the time taken, a steep slope at the start would actually indicate fast progress rather than the difficulty in achieving the learning. 

Does Marcus Rashford really face a steep learning curve at Euro 2016?

Marcus might well be about to embark on his first major international tournament as a senior player but this will hopefully not prevent him from scoring lots of goals in the physical and proverbial sense. From a supporter’s viewpoint, we might want Marcus to score lots of goals and if he doesn’t, his inclusion in the England squad would not be considered a success. What if, however, Marcus has set himself personal goals/milestones that he wants to achieve and it is these by which he will measure his success? Perhaps these drive him more than the appreciation of the fans and pundits? It would be interesting to see if he had set himself the target of scoring on his England debut or perhaps to play for Manchester United before he turns 19? You can’t argue with the fact that he has already achieved a lot for a young man and this might be because he is determined to reach targets or personal goals that he has set himself.

Goals for Learning

Returning to the idea of personal and learning goals, it is a fact that setting yourself some SMART (Specific, Measurable, Achievable, Realistic and Timed) goals makes for a more successful learning experience. Take a distance learning qualification like the City and Guilds ITQ Social Media Certificate which is a qualification that is “learner-directed”. This means that the learner takes responsibility for setting their own timetable and learning schedule. Our approach at Concise Training is to guide the learner through the creation of this schedule and then support them in achieving their aims and it is very obvious when somebody has thought carefully about their own personal targets and goals. Those that work towards their own targets almost always complete the qualification faster than those that just pay lip service to the idea of a planned approach to their study and tackle it on an ad-hoc basis.

Personal Development Planning

To organise your targets and learning goals, consider creating a personal development plan or PDP. This will involve reflecting on your own learning, performance and achievements and planning your educational development. Creating a PDP will help you to identify skills and experience that you already have and those that you need to get to where you want to be. By providing you with a clear sense of direction, it will also help you to feel more in control of your studies.

A personal development plan should start with a high-level look at what you want to achieve and once you have identified the training or qualifications that you need, you can apply a similar approach on a course level  – setting yourself target dates, for example, to complete defined parts of the course.

You can start your own PDP by using this free template downloadable from Bath University.

Study Planning

On a course level, you can break your course down into defined stages and use these as your targets. For example, a course consisting of 19 tasks like the ITQ Social Media Certificate we mentioned earlier, lends itself nicely to setting a target date for the submission of each task. These target dates should be documented and revisited regularly. Put the dates in your Google Calendar (or equivalent) and set reminders for each one so that you never forget that a deadline is approaching and put a copy of your target dates on your fridge or somewhere where you will see them regularly.

You not only need to set yourself targets for achievement but also plan when and where you will study. It is a good idea to give yourself a set regular routine. For example, you might have a window of a couple of hours on a Tuesday evening when you would normally watch TV while everybody is out of the house. This would be the perfect opportunity to schedule a study session. Make sure that you document your study plan and make others aware that you will be busy during your study periods. The fewer distractions the better.

To help you along you can use this free study plan template.

Obstacles

As part of planning your study approach and setting your learning goals, you should think about things that could prevent you from achieving them. Have you any holidays booked? Are these going to prevent you from completing a task on time? When you have identified obstacles, then you can start thinking about how you can overcome them. If you know a holiday is coming up at the end of the month, perhaps you could spend a bit longer on your course before you go so that you can finish a task ahead of time and be ready to relax and enjoy your holiday knowing that you will still be on track when you return.

The Goal of Goals

So if Marcus Rashford is a goal driven individual, perhaps he is now reviewing his own PDP reflecting on achievements so far, setting himself some personal goals for Euro 2016 and trying to identify before the tournament what obstacles might prevent him achieving his goals. Planning a strategy for overcoming these obstacles can build further confidence in his own ability which leads to better performance and ultimately (hopefully) a successful tournament …. and more goals.

Do you have a personal development plan? Do you plan out an approach to your education/study? When was the last time you stepped back and thought about what you want to achieve and how you are going to get there?

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Twitter Changes – Announced May 2016

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During May, Twitter announced a few changes to its social media platform.

A number of significant changes to Twitter are being rolled out over the next few months:

Attachments

  • Photos, video or other attachment no longer count toward your 140 character limit – so long as you have uploaded directly to Twitter.  Links to website pages will still count.

Replies

  • The latest Twitter changes mean that @replies will no longer count towards your 140 character limit.  However, an initial tweet with @mentions still does.  This is to make it easier to have a conversation with several people mentioned and still have enough room to say something meaningful. 

Retweets

  • A new retweet button will be added to your own post so you can retweet or quote tweet old content (rather than posting it again).

Up to now, if you wanted to mention somebody at the start of a tweet (say in a reply) but still have the tweet seen by anybody who followed you, it was important to use characters before the @username.  

So 

“Thanks @username …….” or 

“hi @username…..” or even 

“.@username….” would all work.  

If you just said “@username…..”, your tweet would only be seen by people who followed both you AND @username.    

According to Twitter, the latest changes mean you will “now be able to Retweet it to signal that you intend for it to be viewed more broadly.”  

Now when you write a new tweet you can start it with a username and it’ll still show up in your follower’s timelines like any other tweet would.

If you want a reply (starting with @username) to be seen globally, you will have to Retweet it to signal that you intend for it to be viewed more broadly.”

Twitter is allowing time for 3rd party applications (like HootSuite) to integrate these changes so the changes will be introduced one at a time over the summer.

Once we see how it works in practice, we will be sure to let you know.

What do you think of the latest changes?  We are busy incorporating them into the latest update of our Twitter e-learning course 😃 to be released on 1st July!

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Time to Clean Up Your Twitter Followers

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Why not clean up your Twitter followers?

Have you ever glanced at your Twitter account and thought “I would really like to clean up my Twitter followers.” The good news is that carrying out a thorough clean-up of your Twitter followers can pay dividends.

When you created your Twitter profile, you may have had the primary aim of growing your following. You may have picked up followers quickly without really considering how desirable those followers actually are. It is understandable that you wanted to increase your reach but many of the followers that you have gained may be irrelevant, inactive or spambot accounts.

Why would you want to remove followers?

Having fake followers – spambot accounts and those set up just for the purposes of following others – may seem harmless but following you may simply be the first step these accounts are taking in order to reach your genuine followers and spam them. Consider how that would reflect on your brand … Person A follows you and they are then inundated with spammy followers.

It is also a common tactic that hackers use. They will target a profile and follow it with lots of spam accounts until it appears to be an important and popular account. When it has gained enough traction and attracts other genuine “important” followers they will then attempt to hack the account and use it to broadcast their spam to your genuine followers – much of this is malicious and contains links to web sites which spread viruses and malware.

Why remove accounts that you follow?

Twitter, in particular, is a fast moving service which contains a lot of noise. Over the years, you may have followed accounts that are generating irrelevant or spammy content. This prevents you from seeing the information and discussions that you want to see. Now is the perfect time to unfollow inactive accounts and spambots that you may have unwittingly followed back.

You can also mute those noisy accounts that are stopping you seeing the information that you want to. This hides their tweets but you can remain as their follower.

Organise Your Twitter Followers

You should also organise your followers into lists. You can do this via Twitter directly but when working with lists we would recommend a social media management tool like Hootsuite. You can sign up for a free trial of the Pro version or you could sign up for a free account here.

You can use Hootsuite to create lists to organise your followers, you can then apply filters to the lists to see only the followers that meet the criteria that you set. You might want to consider sorting your followers into lists by geographic area, by using a search to see what they talk about or into a list based on how many followers they have. All these are possible with Hootsuite and it can make your use of Twitter much more efficient.

If you want to learn how to use Hootsuite to make the best of your Twitter, consider our City and Guilds Award in Social Networking Management for Business. This is an accredited qualification that will teach you how to manage Twitter effectively.

Tools to help you clean up your Twitter Followers

There are many tools to help you with a clean up of your Twitter followers / follows but one of our favourites (because it has many useful features) is Tweepi.com With Tweepi you can perform the following cleanups easily:

You Follow – this feature allows you to see a list of your followers with information about each. You can see how active they are and their follows / follower ratio.

Unfollow Inactives – this feature allows you to see all those people that you currently follow who have not tweeted for a set amount of time (have been inactive)

Unfollow Eggs – unfollow all those accounts that have not bothered to add a profile pic. These are often spambot accounts. This tool also shows the follower ratio for each account so you can see which ones are spambot accounts that follow lots of people without attracting followers of their own.

Force Unfollow Inactives – this feature allows you to force inactive accounts to unfollow your’s

Force Unfollow Eggs – this feature allows you to force all those accounts that have not bothered to add a profile pic to unfollow you. These are often spambot accounts.

Smart Unfollow – this allows you to filter those that you follow according to a range of criteria including how active they are when you followed them if they follow you and more. Used carefully this tool can help you to isolate those accounts that you should unfollow.

For example, if you have a “Silver Membership” on Tweepi you could perform the following steps to remove annoying spammers that are trying to promote the purchase of Twitter followers – you know the ones, we all get them.

  1. Create a Twitter list called Spammers
  2.  Use the “Your Followers” tool with the default list set to the Spammers one you just created
  3. Apply a filter to your followers to show those who’s Bio contains “buy twitter followers” (try various phrases to catch as many as you can)
  4. Add all of those resulting followers to the list spammers
  5. Force everybody in the list to unfollow you

You might also want to import the blacklists that other Twitter followers have shared. These are lists of spam accounts that others have blocked which they then share with you. You can read more about this on the Twitter blog here.

Tweepi is not the only tool and there are a number of free tools that perform useful Twitter cleanup functions:

http://untweeps.com/ – unfollow inactive accounts

https://manageflitter.com/ – there is a free plan which allows access to a multi-featured twitter clean up tool

http://who.unfollowed.me/ – there is a free plan which gives access to useful features including the ability to see accounts that have previously followed you but now don’t

Can I clean up my Facebook account?

In a similar way to Twitter, you should organise your Facebook friends into lists. You can add people to the lists manually or you could use a Smart List to have people automatically added to it. These could be lists that include friends within a certain radius of your location or those that went to the same school as you. You can read more about this feature in this article.

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The Armed Services Employer Recognition Scheme

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The armed services employer recognition scheme is an opportunity for businesses to help members of the armed forces.

In April 2016, I went to a networking event at RAF Brize Norton.  I wasn’t really sure what I would learn – to be honest, I went for the potential to network with other local businesses rather than look around at the planes.

I was pleasantly surprised, though. Yes, there were some interesting businesses to network with, but more importantly, I learnt about the opportunities for my business to help the members of the armed services.

There was a very good presentation about the facts on having reservists in the business.  We don’t currently have employees who would like to be reservists – but I would certainly now be more open to the idea.  We also learnt about how businesses can help those in the Armed Services – and receive recognition for it.

Concise Training currently gives a 10% discount on our face to face or e-learning courses to veterans or people currently serving in the armed services.  We are also registered with Enhanced Learning Credits (ELCAS) for our ITQ Social Media qualification as well as our Diploma in Social Media for Business.  This means that people who have left the armed services can access funding to take these Level 3 qualifications.  We also are willing to help at events for veterans including supporting the recent Skiing for Heroes event.

Bronze Award for the Employer Recognition Scheme

I was honoured that Concise Training was able to apply for, and win the Bronze Award for the Armed Services Employer Recognition Scheme.  Concise Training is also about to sign the Armed Services Covenant to ensure that supporting members of the armed services is part of our plans going forward.

Concise Training applied for and won the bronze award for the employer recognition scheme.

Have you looked into applying for the Employer Recognition Scheme or signing the Armed Services Covenant?  Please do share your thoughts with us.

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How To Advertise on Pinterest in the UK

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Pinterest promoted pins finally arrived in the UK at the end of April. In our latest blog we explore how to use them.

Pinterest promoted pins have been available in the US and Canada for a while now and in April 2016, they hit our shores here in the UK. They are a form of pay per click advertising in a similar mould to promoted posts on Facebook and whilst they are fairly new and competition for UK advertisers is relatively low, they can be a form of advertising that is cost effective and provides a good return on investment.

In this post, we show you how to create and target Pinterest Promoted Pins.

Points To Note

To use Pinterest promoted pins you must have a Pinterest Business Account based in the UK or the USA. You can target pinners in the UK, Canada, and the USA.

Promoted pins are managed at ads.pinterest.com

To create a promoted pin, the pin must already exist on a board in your business profile.

Step 1 – Create Your Ad

Log in to your Pinterest account and visit ads.pinterest.com

Click the + sign in the top right and choose create ad 

This screenshot image shows the options available to you when pinning on Pinterest. Pin from a website, upload from a computer and create ad.

Step 2 – Choose The Goal For Your Campaign

If you choose “Boost Engagement” you will be charged for each engagement with your ad.

If you choose ‘Get traffic to your website’ you will only be charged per click-through to your site.

You don’t need to pick your pin at this stage you can do so later.

In this screenshot image, it shows the 2 goals available to you for your Pinterest advert. Boost engagement with your pins or Get traffic to your website.

Step 3 – Campaign Details

This image shows the options available to you to create your Pinterest campaign. Now name your campaign, set the dates that you want to run the campaign for and set the daily budget for your campaign. The higher the budget, the more your ad will be displayed.

If you have an overall budget in mind, divide this by the number of days you are running the ad for to get your daily budget.

 

When you have completed the above details , click the “pick a pin” button. The 'Pick a Pin' option will appear once you have completed the other steps. This will continue your setup for your Pinterest campaign.

 

Once you click on the pick a pin button you will be taken to your boards. The pin you wish to promote must be on a public board. If your campaign is to drive traffic to your website the pin must link to a website.  Make sure you have a suitable landing page on your website.

You can filter your pins to choose the ones that are already performing the best. These are likely to make the best performing adverts.

The filter allows you to view all your pins, 30-day most clicked and 30-day most repined of your Pinterest campaign.

 

The image shows our Pinterest contest that we launched last week.

Step 4 – Target Your Advertising

Now you have to name your advert so that you can track its performance, enter the URL for the landing page on your website and target your advert based on interests and relevant keywords.

Pinterest make it easy for you to track your adverts performance. The image shows the screen where you target your pin. You can add keywords and interests so that you can target the right audience.

The more precisely you can target your advertising the more successful it will be for achieving your aims. It is just as well, therefore, that as well as targeting by interest and keyword, you can also restrict your advert to certain geographical regions, languages, the device used and gender.

You can restrict your advert to certain geographical locations, language, the device used and gender. This allows you to target your Pinterest campaign at the audience that it is aimed at.

Step 5 – Set Your Budget

This step is closely linked to the targeting of your ad. The more narrowly defined your audience, the less you will have to bid for each click on your advert. You can see this in action by changing the targeting options and you will see the range of bids from competitors (competing for the same audience) vary. You should enter the maximum amount that you are willing to bid for each click.

Setting your budget is the next step. You will find that the more refined your target audience is, the less you will bid for each click of your Pinterest advert.

High overall budget + High CPC Bid = lots of impressions and hopefully lots of clicks

High overall budget + Low CPC Bid = you might be outbid by competitors to get in front of key customers and your competitors’ adverts will be seen more often than yours

Low overall budget + High CPC Bid = low number of impressions and a short running campaign

Low overall budget + Low CPC Bid = your advert is not likely to be seen by many people

Step 6 – Business Details

Confirm your business details and be sure to enter the VAT number if your business is VAT registered.

Your next stage is to add and confirm your business details to set up your Pinterest advert. Remember to add your companies VAT number if your business is VAT registered.

Step 7 – Payment Details

After confirming that you agree to abide by Pinterest’s advertising terms and conditions, you will be prompted to enter your payment details and you will be charged for each click on your advert.

Once you have created your advertising campaign your promoted pin will be submitted for approval by Pinterest and this can take up to 24 Hours.

If you edit the campaign and change the targeting or the promoted pin’s description, your ad will be submitted for review again and this can take a further 24 hours.

Step 8 – Measure Success

As with any advertising, you must measure the success of your promoted pins or you will never know whether it is money well spent. Pinterest provides a range of analytics for your adverts and we will look at these in the next blog post in this series on Pinterest Promoted Pins.

Pinterest Promoted Pin Example

We are running a promoted pin campaign on Pinterest during May to win £200 of vouchers towards E-Learning courses.  You can find out more and enter here.

Have you tried Pinterest advertising yet? Let us know how you get on.

You can see how we got on and what we learned from advertising on Pinterest here.

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Why enter business awards?

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Our latest blog explores why you should enter business awards.

Over the last couple of weeks, we’ve been lucky enough to have had quite a bit of exposure to business awards.  It has got me thinking about the pros and cons of entering awards.

Our Experience

We have seen the value of business awards from both a sponsoring and a winning viewpoint during the last couple of weeks.

As a Sponsor

During April, we sponsored the Wantage and District Business Breakfast Club Local Business Award.  Our sponsorship comprised of giving a voucher to the winner to pay for social media training /consultancy as well as presenting the prize at the Awards breakfast.  I’m looking forward to working with Ronald McDonald House to help them use the prize to their advantage.

Why Sponsor?  Well a number of reasons spring to mind:

  • I was really pleased to be able to help this networking group – one that I have Mary presenting Caroline from Ronald McDonald House with their Wantage & District Business Breakfast Club Local Business award at the recent awards ceremony. been a member of for the past 8 years or so.  Even though my attendance has been rather sporadic – over the years, I have found clients and suppliers at the supportive network.
  • It also felt good to be in a position to be able to sponsor an award – another milestone in the development and growth of Concise Training.
  • Publicity – yes it is always good to increase our brand awareness.  I was able to show our banners and remind people within the group about what we did.  The award was announced on social media – more brand awareness and I obtained more links to my website. 

As an Award Winner

Last week we picked up the small business Gold Scoop Headline Award for Training and Education.  

What did we need to do?

We applied for the award in December – having heard about it by email.  To enter, we just  needed to write our story in 1500 words with a 150 synopsis.  I have to admit that I don’t like writing about myself – and find this difficult so I asked Caroline Brake to write the award entry for me and I’m delighted that she was able to capture why I started and grew my business in the story.  Then it was a matter of waiting.

We found out in February that we had won either Bronze, Silver or Gold.   We had to pay Mary Thomas receiving the Gold Scoot Headline award for training and education at the Scoot awards in April 2016.for the presentation package (which includes the ceremony, plus another presentation ceremony at the House of Lords in November, along with some other bits) – which I think is fairly standard.  Viv Bryan and I attended the ceremony in London in April where we found out we had won Gold.  The presentation was an interesting experience, allowing us to network with a number of interesting businesses – some of whom were collecting their 10th or 14th award!

Was it worth it?

Yes, definitely – for a number of reasons:

  • Once we announced that we had won the award on social media, we got lots of likes and comments – so a great way of putting us back in front of mind with our existing contacts.
  • ‘An award winning business’ gives a certain amount of kudos – a bit like ‘published author’ did when I first published ‘Social Media Made Simple‘.  Even if we never win another award, we are still ‘an award winning business’.
  • We are going to send a Press Release to the local papers which will give us the opportunity for more publicity.
  • This award also gives us the National Business Leader award – presented in November at the House of Lords.  Another chance for publicity.
  • We can add logos to email signatures and our website to remind people we have won an award. It might give us the edge when comparing us to the competition.
  • It has been good for the team to know they are part of an ‘Award Winning Business’.
  • The networking opportunity at the presentation ceremony was interesting and we met some other very interesting businesses.

So what now?

Now, we need to look at other awards to enter.  We are more aware of what evidence we need to collect to demonstrate why we meet certain criteria and will be collecting evidence and case studies over the next couple of months to be ready to identify awards to apply for during the Autumn.  It does take quite a bit of work – but if the story is right, it does prove to be worth it.

What are your experiences of applying for awards?  Do share.

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How to Like a Facebook Page as Another Page

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Facebook have changed how you Like another Page as a Facebook Page.

The way a Facebook Page can Like another Page has changed.  Follow the following procedure: 

The image shows the 'Like' button that is shown on Facebook Pages.

  1. Log in as yourself as usual 
  2. Go to the page you want to Like
  3. Click the three dots next to Message 
  4. Click ‘Like As Your Page’

Using the dropdown box you can select to like Facebook Pages as another page.

  1. Select the page to use to Like.
  2. Click Save

This means that you can now see posts from the page in your page’s timeline.  To do this, go to your Page and choose ‘See Pages Feed’ on the left-hand side of any page you own. 

How to Like a Facebook Page as another Facebook Page - Pages Feed Image

What do you think of the way Facebook has changed the way you use your page?  Are you thinking of implementing Business manager if you manage more than one page?

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Tell your business story in a few simple steps on Facebook

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You can tell your business story as a short video on Facebook.

Facebook want you to tell your business story and have just given you the functionality to do just that. You can create a short video complete with a short explanation of what you do, background music and 8 images from your Facebook photo library.

The front page of the Facebook business story.

Step 1: Go to https://yourbusinessstory.fb.com/en/#

Step 2: Click on ‘Create your Video’

Step 3: On this screen you pick which page you wish to make the video for (If you have more than one business page, they will all be displayed)

Step 4: You will see the photo albums from your business page displayed on the screen. From here you can choose the 8 images that you wish to use. The image size advised is 1200 x 1200 pixels.

Due the size constraints, we found it easier to create images specifically for the purpose of using them in the video. We posted the images one at a time on our Facebook business page over the course of a few days. (We did it over a few days so we didn’t appear to be spamming).

Once you have selected the images you are going to use, click select.

This image shows the images being reorganised into a different order.

Step 5: You can change the order that the images appear in the video. Click and drag each one to the position you require. Once you are happy, click ‘confirm’.

Step 6: You now have 90 characters to complete the sentence “We are in the business of…” Click ‘Confirm your story’.

Step 7: You have 4 types of background music to choose from for the soundtrack of your story. Once you have picked your favourite click ‘confirm music’

Step 8: Once the next page is displayed it is now time to view your video. If you wish to make any changes, then click ‘edit video’, if you are happy to share, then you can click ‘post to your page’. Your video will be posted to your page in a matter of minutes.

Have a look at our Facebook business story and do share your own in the comments below. 

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Social Media and Digital Marketing Apprentices are Waiting for the Opportunity to Boost Your Business!

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Are you ready to boost your business? Social Media and Digital Marketing apprentices could be the answer.

As you may know, the Government is committed to increasing the number of apprentices British businesses take on because it is a great way of training up skilled workers while providing them with a paying job. There are apprenticeships available for 1500 job roles, covering more than 170 industries but did you know you can take on an apprentice in social media and digital marketing?

Do you want to put more effort into your social media and digital marketing but just don’t have the time or inclination?

Taking on an apprentice to manage the day to day work for you (under supervision) is an ideal, cost-effective way to pass on some of your social media marketing responsibilities while helping to train up and employ a young person. If you have somebody already working for you that is aged 16 – 24 it may be possible for them to take part in an apprenticeship which would attract funding for their training.

Apprenticeships are available for different educational levels which are broadly as shown in the table below:

Name
Level
Equivalent educational level
Intermediate
2
5 GCSE passes at grades A* to C
Advanced
3
2 A level passes
Higher
4,5,6 and 7
Foundation degree and above
Degree
6 and 7
Bachelor’s or master’s degree

The apprenticeships in social media and digital marketing are “advanced” level 3 apprenticeships and the qualification that the apprentice gains is a level 3 Diploma. The social media for business apprenticeship lasts approximately 12 months and the digital marketing apprenticeship approximately 18 months.

There are many benefits to hiring an apprentice for your social media and digital marketing:

  • Your young person will be a “digital native” and will have grown up using social media for their own personal use. They will have to learn how to apply their knowledge to the business, but they already know how to like, comment and share.
  • Apprentices tend to be very keen to learn and they are inquisitive so often find new and better ways of doing things that other employees may have missed.
  • It is likely that they will bring in additional digital skills to your business – or be a quick learner if they don’t have the skills already.
  • The training is funded by the Government. As the employer, you provide the apprentice with the work that they are required to carry out to complete their qualification. This is your social media and digital marketing! By passing on some of this to an apprentice, you are able to concentrate on other aspects of your business.
  • Social media and digital marketing are always on marketing. It works best when you engage on a regular basis – you will have a resource to do this for you.
  • You may be eligible to receive a Government grant of up to £1,500 if you have less than 50 employees and your apprentice is aged 16 to 24
  • An apprenticeship is made up of a technical certificate alongside other key skills (health and safety, functional skills, employer rights etc.)
  • Almost 9 out of every 10 apprenticeship employers hoping to achieve business benefits say that their apprenticeships deliver – 89% say apprenticeships helped their business improve the quality of their product or service.
  • For advanced apprentices, three-quarters take on more responsibility in their job after completing their apprenticeship and 23% are promoted within 12 months of completing.

Reluctant to take on an apprentice?

Two of the most common reasons that employers give for not pursuing an interest in apprenticeships is the difficulty in selecting a reliable training delivery partner and the loss of their employee for a day or two a week so that they can attend college.

Social Media and Digital Marketing Apprenticeships with Concise Training are Different!

Concise Training worked with City and Guilds to create the criteria and units for each of the two technical certificates that can be used within an apprenticeship. The 12 month Diploma in Social Media for Business as well as the 18-month Diploma in Digital marketing.  This is why we are the preferred apprenticeship delivery partner for a number of FE colleges and training providers including:

  • SR Education
  • Global Knowledge
  • Abingdon and Witney College
  • Isle of Wight College
  • Chichester College
  • Loughborough College

Unlike a traditional apprenticeship, when studying with Concise Training the apprentice never has to leave the office to carry out their study. Everything is delivered online using webinars and E-Learning courses.  Apprentices can apply what they have learned immediately!

To find out more about social media and digital marketing apprenticeships and how Concise Training can help you to grow your business while giving a young person the opportunity to work and learn – contact us.  We would also love to hear from any young people who would like to learn more about the apprenticeship scheme or training providers who would like to investigate the opportunities for partnering.

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Which LinkedIn Mobile App is Best For You?

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Which LinkedIn app is best for you? We take a look at the apps available for LinkedIn functionality.LinkedIn is now used by 60% of the student/working population in the UK – some 20 million people. The number of people that use it has grown steadily but also the way that they use it has changed over time. There has been a big growth in mobile use of LinkedIn which has been encouraged by a number of free official LinkedIn mobile apps. Here we will look at some of these.

Main LinkedIn App

The main LinkedIn mobile app has pretty much all the functionality of the desktop version you can:

  • Use it to search for and find people and companies
  • Use it to find and join groups
  • Use it to receive updates from the people and companies that are important in your sector
  • Use it to build your professional brand and update your profile
  • Use it to connect with others and keep in touch
  • Use it to research people and companies
  • Use it to share articles of interest to you connections

Available on: iPhone and Android

Cost: Free

LinkedIn Job Search App

The LinkedIn Job Search App is a specialist mobile app designed to connect you with the LinkedIn network with the express aim of finding the perfect job. With this app you can:

  • Search for jobs based on the title, the location or keywords that you would associate with it
  • Make sure that the search results are relevant by applying filters to exclude companies that you don’t want to work for and those job postings that are too old or not relevant
  • Make sure that the search results are relevant by applying filters to specify job seniority and work function area
  • Receive jobs recommended for you based on your profile and previous searches
  • Receive alerts when a new job matching your criteria is posted
  • Find out about a company and see whether you have any connections there already
  • Apply for jobs and track your applications
  • Maintain your privacy – your LinkedIn connections won’t know about your job search activity

Available on: iPhone and Android

Cost: Free

LinkedIn Pulse App

The LinkedIn pulse app is a powerful news curator that can keep you up to date with topics that you are interested in. You can specify the news that you will receive first and keep on top of what is trending in your industry or specific companies.

Perhaps the most useful feature of the app is the ability to set up notifications for when you or one of your connections are mentioned in an article or when one of your connections publishes an article.

Available on: iPhone and Android

Cost: Free

LinkedIn Groups App

LinkedIn Group App Image.LinkedIn groups have been around for a while but the way that they work was recently changed in order to make them more useful to LinkedIn users.

Changes made include:

  • To join a group, you now need an invitation or an existing member to approve your request.
  • You can’t now see the conversations happening in a group until you are a member
  • Moderation of content has changed to make conversations more “instant”. Now they are posted instantly to the group without the need for manager approval although they can still be removed by moderators
  • Sub-groups are no more. Group owners will no longer be able to create subgroups.
  • Images can be posted in conversations
  • If a person requests to join a group their connections in that group can approve this
  • Now you can mention group members in a conversation by typing “@” followed by the group member’s name.

The mobile app works well with the new groups and is LinkedIn’s answer to the popularity of chat apps like “What’s App”. You can receive instant notifications when a conversation is updated and hold private conversations that will only be seen by those within the group. LinkedIn is hoping that this will be used by teams within companies or entire companies to discuss their business on the go. There are also still a large number of industry and topic-based groups where you can converse with other professionals, that share your interest.

Available on: iPhone only Android coming soon.

Cost: Free

LinkedIn Slide Share App

LinkedIn Slideshare app image.LinkedIn bought SlideShare back in 2012 because it was a network designed for sharing professional content and which was used by many professional people that also used LinkedIn. If you are not familiar with SlideShare, it is where people share presentations in the form of slides (or videos). They may do this to be helpful to others, to educate others about a topic or simply to be noticed. Whatever the reason for publishing to SlideShare, it is a valuable resource for research and the LinkedIn SlideShare app lets you use it on the move.

Using the SlideShare App you can:

  • Search for and discover over 15 million presentations, infographics and videos
  • Explore defined topic areas
  • Save the content that you will find useful to your mobile device to access later
  • Organise your research in Clipboards so that it is all in one place

Available on: iPhone and Android

Cost: Free

Lynda App

Lynda app image.Lynda.com was set up in 1995 as a place for people to learn through video lectures/courses. LinkedIn bought Lynda last year and has integrated it into the professional social network. You may well have been prompted to look at Lynda courses that are relevant to your searching activity or your industry sector when using LinkedIn. The Lynda app allows you to learn on the move.

 

 

With the Lynda App you can:

  • Sync your courses across all your devices and pick up where you left off
  • Download courses to your device to watch the videos on the move
  • Share courses across social networks
  • Get personalised course recommendations

Available on: iPhone and Android

Cost: Free

LinkedIn Lookup App

LinkedIn Lookup App Image.LinkedIn Lookup is aimed at those that work in large organisations. Even if you are not already connected to somebody you can quickly and easily look up anybody that works in your organisation. There are various search features and your activity is not made available to those outside your organisation and only they can see the profile information that you enter into the Lookup App

 

Available on: iPhone and Android

Cost: Free

Do you use any of these LinkedIn mobile apps? Do you tend to use them on your phone or a tablet and what for? There are many third-party apps that work with LinkedIn, do you use any of these?

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Are you hitting your target Facebook audience or are you missing by miles?

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CT_Blog_FB_target_audience

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

If you have been using Facebook over the last couple of years you will have noticed a decline in the organic reach of your posts. The organic reach is the people that your post is put in front of without you paying to promote your post to them. Many experts believe that this is part of Facebook’s plan to encourage greater use of paid, targeted advertising resulting in people seeing more relevant content and less “noise”.

A new feature has been recently introduced to Facebook which further supports the move towards more targeted and relevant content for every user – the trouble is, unless you know it is there, it is very easy to miss!

Facebook has been at the forefront of targeted advertising for a long time. When you pay for an advert on the platform you can target a particular demographic very accurately by specifying things like geographic location, age, sex, interests, marital status etc. The highly targeted nature of this advertising makes it potentially very successful but businesses have to pay for this targeting ability.

It has been possible to “steer” your Facebook Business Page posts towards particular locations without paying for the privilege for some time. Now it is also possible to further target particular groups of people. You can reach specific audiences by specifying interests, activities and demographics and Facebook shows your post based on the interests that people have said they like, the Pages people have liked and closely related topics.

If your Facebook page has over 5000 likes you will see this option automatically otherwise it is something that you have to turn on.

Follow these steps:

1. Visit your Facebook Page
2. Click ‘Settings’ (top right hand corner)
3. Click ‘General’ on the left side of the page
4. Find ‘Audience Optimisation for Posts’ and click ‘Edit.’
5. Click the check box to enable the feature

Once the feature is enabled it is quite straightforward to use. Look for the target icon on the right hand side of the row of tools at the bottom of the new post box.

facebook blog image_file1

 

 

 

 

 

Clicking on this will encourage you to select from a list of interests:

facebook blog image_file2

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

You can drill-down into the categories and hovering over the interest will show an indication of the potential audience that have shown an interest in that category/item. You can select up to 16 different interests. You can then further target your audience for the post by clicking on the “Audience Restrictions” tab:

facebook blog image_file3

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

You might at this point wonder why you would want to restrict your potential audience when you are not having to pay for this post. The simple answer is Facebook have indicated that those posts that are most highly targeted will be considered most relevant to the recipients and therefore have a better chance of being shown to them.

If you target your posts using the interests in this way, Facebook also makes available some interesting metrics in Insights which show how each interest that you added contributed to a post’s reach, clicks, shares and likes.

Have you been using this new feature? Have you found your reach has improved? Let us know how you have got on in the comments.

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Concise Training Introduces New Digital Services Brand Concise Digital

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Concise Training – and so much more!

Concise Training has been offering social media training services since 2009 through face to face training, City & Guilds qualifications and E-Learning courses.  As our ex-training clients have grown and become more successful they have often returned to us to ask if we can provide a number of digital marketing services.

In response to this demand, we started to provide a social media content management service, our emphasis being on engagement through the use of relevant content, questions and high quality, interesting images – the creation of bespoke images not only increasing brand awareness but also helping to deliver the message in a more engaging way.

Increasingly, we have received requests for graphics to enhance social media profiles and support online promotions. The demand for email newsletters has also increased considerably as a highly effective and lowWordpress Support Group Icon. cost method of reaching a wide audience. A good landing page and website are an indispensable part of inbound marketing, after all why put so much effort into social media to drive traffic to your website if your visitors are put off by your website? Over the past year we have been pleased to offer our clients WordPress website design and development.

Defining the brand

During my face to face networking events, I became very conscious that I was known as ‘Concise ‘Training’ and the additional message of offering content management and website services was getting lost.  I am keen to grow both sides of the business so we can offer a complete digital and social media marketing service to clients. We have decided that the training side of the business and the digital services side need to be more distinct to raise awareness of our range of services.  However, uniquely the two brands will continue to work closely together to offer a full range of social media and digital marketing solutions.concisedigitallogo

I’m delighted therefore, to announce the launch of our new brand Concise Digital. Please take a moment to visit the website, we would love to know what you think. We have had very positive feedback so far and appreciation of the extent of the services we can provide.

Concise Digital provides a suite of digital marketing services including digital marketing consultancy, social media content management, email newsletters, blog posts, graphical content for online marketing and website services. These services will reflect the overall Concise brand in that they will be delivered in a personal, bespoke and affordable way and will draw on the considerable knowledge base of Concise Training’s work to keep up to date with online marketing and technological advances to the benefit of its clients whatever their industry or size of their business.

So what does this mean to you, the reader?

The Concise Training blog and newsletter will continue to provide useful tips about digital and social media and “how to” guides.

Our Concise Digital blog and newsletter, will provide useful content in the form of what to do (and why) in the way of content marketing and the unique brand of opinion that Concise Training subscribers have become accustomed to.

We recommend that you subscribe to both blogs and both newsletters to ensure that you receive the full story.

So how does Concise Digital add value to its clients?  Here are some of the highlights, please visit the website for more details:

star-smallWe firmly believe engagement is key to the success of digital and social media media marketing and is at the core of everything we do.

star-smallFor your content management service you will work with your account manager as well as Mary, our director to:

  • identify specific, realistic aims for your digital marketing
  • understand and learn the brand and voice of your business
  • create a bespoke solution for your budget and audience.

star-smallYou will be encouraged and helped to contribute to the content shared on social media – you know your business.  We will work with your content and make it more engaging across the appropriate channels.

star-smallDigital advertising campaigns will be created across the marketing channels if this is right for your business.  We will help you to target the campaigns and keep within a specified budget.

star-smallYou will receive a monthly report so it is possible to track whether your aims are being met.

star-smallWith in-house graphic and web-design expertise we can design, host and publish your business website.

star-smallWebsite overhauls including search engine optimisation reviews have become a speciality.

If you would like to know more, do have a look at our website or contact us for more details.

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The value of regular newsletters

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The value of regular newsletters for businesses.

Are you sending a monthly newsletter to your contacts?  I have been sending a newsletter to all my contacts each month for most of the 7 years that we have been in business.  Most months I see a return on the investment of time that it takes to create the newsletter, either in the form of a direct booking, an enquiry or a referral – to me it is a ‘nobrainer’.

If you are going to send a newsletter, don’t be tempted to attach a PDF file to a standard newsletter – unless you have a very loyal audience, not many people download PDF attachments and you can’t track open and click links.  There are a number of tools available to create ‘professional newsletters’.  

For the past 5 years, I have been using MailChimp, not least as it is free to 2,000 An image of the MailChimp logo featuring a chimp in a mailman's hat.subscribers, but also, because MailChimp put a lot of work into adding extra functionality and improving the interface.  In this post, I’m going to discuss the functionality that MailChimp offers but I’m sure you will find similar functionality in your system of choice.

Whatever you decide to use there are a number of aspects to consider.

 

List

Newsletter list image. You should, where possible have one list that is maintained in MailChimp – don’t refresh it each time and don’t have multiple lists for multiple types of newsletters.  Use the List group feature within Mailchimp and allow your subscribers to select which newsletter they would like to receive.  For example, you will shortly be able to choose to receive either or both of our Concise Training and Concise Digital newsletters.

 

 

Make sure that your list comprises of opted-in subscribers.  These are individuals who have chosen to receive your newsletter – either they have signed up at your website, they have put their card into a bowl at an exhibition which has clearly stated they will be signed up, or you have verbally checked they are happy to have your newsletter when you exchange business cards.  In my opinion, you should not send newsletters to everybody you meet at a networking event or everybody you are connected to on LinkedIn.  If you purchase a list – do make sure that it is ‘clean’.  Mailchimp and other tools have a very low tolerance for people they see as spamming – and in my opinion, it just isn’t worth the risk.

An image showing the toolbar from MailChimp.

As part of creating your list, make it easy (and obvious) for people to sign up for your newsletter on your website.  Mailchimp gives you code to embed on your website to make it easy to do.

Campaign

Mailchimp calls newsletters campaigns and gives you several options:

  • Regular campaign (the newsletter with graphics and text that lands in your inbox)
  • Plan text campaign (a plain text version of a newsletter, no images or hyperlinks)
  • RSS campaign (a great way of sending your blog posts to subscribers – it can be set up to automatically send links to the posts that have been published since the last newsletter)
  • A/B Testing campaign which allows you to test different parts of a newsletter (recommended list of over 10,000 subscribers)

The image shows campaign graphics that could be used as content for your newsletter. Once you have chosen your campaign, you need to add some initial details including the title of the newsletter.  Remember your title needs to entice your subscribers to open your newsletter amongst the other 100 emails they have in their inbox.

There have been many blogs written about newsletter titles including this one from WordStream so I’m not going to cover a lot of detail here, but in general:

 

  • do think about your audience
  • do make the title relevant and succinct
  • do try to use questions
  • do make the newsletter interesting
  • don’t include the word ‘newsletter’ e.g. Our Latest newsletter
  • don’t include your company name e.g. News from Concise Training

Once you have entered the basic Campaign information, you can pick the template you A graphic showing 3 newsletters. want to use.  Basic templates include:

  • 1 column
  • 1 column > 2 column
  • 1 column > 2 columns > 1 column
  • 1 column > 3 columns

Select the one that you want to try – you can change the template that you use at a later date.

 

An image showing MailChimp's building blocks that will help you create your newsletter.Once you have chosen your template, you can use a number of building blocks to put together your newsletter.  My best advice is to use what Mailchimp gives you.  For example, if you want to include images, use the image blocks – don’t put images within the text.  The reason for this is that your newsletter may be read by any number of different email systems – all of which render images differently.  Mailchimp has done a lot of the hard work for you by creating image blocks that should be rendered correctly – if you choose not to use them, you run the risk of images randomly resizing or the text randomly wrapping.

Once you have written your email, test, test and test again.  The preview option is pretty good and will allow you to test hyperlinks (which of course you have included in your newsletter – haven’t you?).  

Once you are basically happy with the newsletter, do send some test emails and try to look at them in a range of email systems (Outlook, Gmail, Hotmail, etc..)  Do be aware that there is a restriction on the number of test emails you can send, so use the preview to get it basically working.

Send

The image shows a red button being pressed to depict your newsletter being sent.When you are ready, go for it. What day / time should you send your emails?  There are various schools of thought.  Some people say that the email should arrive in an inbox first thing in the morning – others say that 10am is the best time.  Some think Friday will get the most opens, others Tuesday or Thursday.  It will depend on your audience and what you are talking about – the best thing is to try different times / days and measure the results.

 

Measure

Your newsletter has been sent, you can now sit back, relax and get on with your other work, right?  No – MailChimp will give you information about who has opened your newsletter (and how often) and who has clicked on which link.  This is incredibly important information which needs to be passed on to your sales team so you can follow up with a phone call or email.

What do you think?  Have you used MailChimp or other systems to distribute regular newsletters?  Do share your experiences.  If you are interested in learning more about newsletters, we offer training or our Concise Digital team will create and send newsletters for you.

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Immersive Advertising

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Immersive Advertising Blog Image. The blog is about the rise of 360 degree video and its use for advertising.

Facebook have recently launched support for 360-degree video adverts

If you have not come across a 360-degree video yet, you may be wondering what is so great about them. They are the next stage in the evolution of the 360-degree panorama, the difference being a 360 degree panorama such as those seen in virtual tours is a series of static images stitched together and distorted to fit on the inside face of a virtual sphere or cube and a 360 degree video is a moving scene within which you can change your viewing perspective.

The best way to get your head around this is to look at an example:

https://youtu.be/H6SsB3JYqQg

To view this, you will need the latest version of a compatible browser (Google Chrome seems to be the best as far as we can tell) and plenty of spare bandwidth – the data-heavy nature of these videos being their biggest drawback at the moment.

To explain how these are created we can look back a few years to the introduction of the 360-degree panorama.

360-Degree Panoramic Images

Today’s digital cameras nearly all have a setting for shooting panoramas, you push the button and move the camera slowly from one side to the other panning across the scenery. The camera takes a series of images and stitches them together to form a single image.

This image shows how panoramic images are numerous images that are put together.

Before these cameras were developed you had to shoot a series of images and put them through a stitching software such as the free to try Panaview Image Assembler. Whether the camera did the stitching or you did it using software like Panaview, you would end up with a single large panoramic image:

The image shows a blue oblong to represent a panoramic image.

With the addition of a shot taken straight up and one taken straight down (the poles) you could then do the clever bit which was using software to “bend” this image so that it effectively lined the inside of a virtual sphere – Image Assembler can’t do this alone but PTGUI can.

An image showing how images can bend to line a virtual sphere.

Instead of stitching lots of images taken from the same lens, This image shows a camera that Google uses to photograph their street view images.commercial cameras were developed that had lens arrays i.e. a series of lenses facing in different directions so that all viewpoints could be captured in one go. This is the sort of technology that enabled Google Street View.

The next stage in the evolution was to use multi-array cameras to shoot in all directions from a moving point and this is how a 360-degree video is created. There is a variety of camera and software options that are within the reach of most small businesses (read more about your options here) and you can share 360-degree videos via YouTube and now Facebook. In fact, you have been able to share this format on YouTube since March 2015 (Facebook since September 2015) and Facebook started testing 360-degree video adverts in November 2015.

Significance

The fact that Facebook has followed YouTube so closely in making this format available to its users shows just how they are seeking to take over as the video sharing platform of choice. They want their network to be the first place that you look for videos and as business owners, we should take this seriously. There is a small window in which the novelty factor of this format means that a 360-degree video will attract a lot of views but it is set to become the norm and to take advantage of this format for marketing purposes you will need to act quickly.

What to use 360-degree videos for:

If you are not quite ready to shoot in 360 but have an idea for your next marketing video, ask yourself whether uploading to YouTube is the right thing to do. You might get more views by sharing it on Facebook.

If you are interested in learning more about the process of shooting a 360-degree video have a look at this 360-degree video tutorial

What do you think of 360-degree videos? How do you think they will change marketing?

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The Whats, Whys and Wherefores of Google+ in 2016

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he whats, whys and wherefores of Google+ in 2016 image.

“I just don’t like Google+ It’s confusing”

“It seems like a random collection of apps that don’t really work well together”

“It does what other social networks do but not as well as they do it”

“I don’t like the circles thing – I just want to follow people by clicking a button”

Just some of the comments that we have heard in the past about Google’s much-maligned social network Google+. We can’t have been the only ones hearing this though because back in November Google carried out a major overhaul of Google+ and they have addressed (most) of the issues raised above.

A screenshot showing the 'post' page on your profile on Google+.The new look is more streamlined and sleeker. It is now based around topics and interests with collections and communities given far more prominence. The whole user interface appears to have been redesigned with mobile devices in mind and, in fact, there are some features (such as the creation of events) that are only available in the mobile app.

Major changes to Google+

The main menu icon that you clicked in the top left of your screen to reveal navigation links has changed the way it works. Now click it once to reveal the menu and once to hide it – no more sliding out when you hover over it. 

The introduction of a new post “action button”. This hovers in This image shows the new post action button that is now on Goggle+.
the bottom right of your screen on the desktop version and
is a quick way to start creating a new post.


Removal of the link to pages from main menu – you now have to manage your pages via clicking on your profile photo in the top right. You will be directed to “
Google’s My Business” which is intended to be a single dashboard where you can manage everything about your business.

This image from Google+ shows the 'share' icons. The icons include Twitter, Facebook, Google+ and copy link.

Sharing has become more inclusive – you can now share to Twitter etc. or easily get a link to the post to share elsewhere. Just look for the share icon which is also new to G+

Removal of events and hangouts from the desktop version – Google Hangouts is now “hangout” at a new dedicated location https://hangouts.google.com/

 

Removal of certain photo editing capabilities – Google photos is now a standalone app and not part of G+ though you can still share photos that you upload to Google Photos on G+ easily.

Changes to Google+ Local Pages

Google local pages are more or less no more. Google has changed the way that it approaches local business information. Users no longer create a local page in Google+ instead they use “my business” to create locations for the business.

This image displays how Google+ displays the apps that are available such as maps, YouTube, AdWords, and Photos.For example, if you were a business with several branches you would create locations for each of these branches in my business and enter relevant details for each e.g. opening hours and contact details. This information is used to supply locally relevant search results when users search using the Google search engine.

 

 

Interestingly, when you create a location in My Business, a much slimmed down version of a G+ local page is created for that location through which you can access the reviews etc.


This image shows search results on Google to show how local businesses that are registered on Google+ are located Confused? You wouldn’t be the only one. The main difference is in where the data is entered.  Google wants you to view all Google apps together as one “place” so by entering the data in your My Business dashboard you are sharing it with all Google apps – maps, search, G+ etc.

 

Mobile Responsive

The new user interface is a responsive design and will adapt nicely to smaller screen sizes. This and the fact that some functionality is only available in the Android app shows that Google wants to encourage us to use G+ via mobile. The cynics among us may feel that this is because mobile use allows them greater access to information about you which they can then use to keep their search results (and advertising) relevant and highly targeted.  

So, Should You Use Google+ to market your business? As with much of social, I think it depends on:

  • It is a must for local businesses to use ‘my business’ to ensure you appear in search. 
  • If you are a business which has niche products / services have a look at ‘collections’.  This allows you to group your posts together around a common topic.  Others can follow your collection – it is an opportunity for you to become known as an expert in your niche.  
  • If you are a business which appeals to a niche audience – have a look at ‘communities’.  Communities allow you to create groups of engaged people who want to talk about your products / services
  • If you produce content, consider using Google+ to share your content – it appears to affect search results.

In summary, Google+ has been reinvented and is worth another look during 2016 – particularly to hold conversations about a topic and tap into a relevant audience.

What do you think about the new Google+? Are the changes for the better?

 

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Study an Accredited Social Media Qualification and Take Your Career to the Next Level in 2016

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I was recently asked by somebody what makes our City and Guilds Diploma in Social Media for Business qualification different from all of the other social media courses that you can find online. As I was writing an email to answer this question, I started to think that it might be a good idea to also share this information as a blog post.

Accreditation – why is it important?

Many of the courses that you can find are not accredited with a reputable awarding body. This effectively means that the provider can put in whatever they want and there is no real quality control. You will often get a “completion certificate” issued by the provider rather than a nationally recognised qualification which is aligned to the qualifications and credit framework. Prospective employers want to know that there has been a certain degree of rigour and professional verification involved in the qualification that you have gained and this is where the stamp of approval from an awarding body is extremely important.

Our Diploma in Social Media for Business is accredited with City and Guilds and satisfactory completion of the course leads to a recognisedcity and guilds qualification – a Level 3 City and Guilds Diploma. Concise Training’s Mary Thomas create the first accredited social media qualification in the UK (ITQ Social Media Certificate) and City and Guilds asked Mary to help create the units and criteria for the Diploma.

You can see Mary speaking at the launch of the City and Guilds Diploma in Social Media for Business here.

Designed and Supported by Qualified Trainers

The resources that we use to deliver the Diploma in Social Media for Business were designed and created by qualified trainers and whilst it is a flexible distance learning qualification, it comes with unlimited tutor support from qualified training professionals. There are monthly online webinars where you are able to discuss your questions with tutors and other learners. You are not just left to “get on with it” on your own. Your tutor is there to support you and not just to mark your work.  When your work is marked you receive personalised, individual feedback targeted to extend your learning and the use of social media within your business environment.

The learning resources are very practical and start from a point assuming that you have little or no knowledge of using social media for business but quickly move on to more advanced use. You will learn how to use features of the different social networks but also why you should and what to do with them!   You can immediately apply what you have learnt to your marketing.

Feedback from past learners couldn’t have been better and many say that they have learned a great deal even though they thought they knew what they were doing on social media beforehand. 

Up to Date Resources

The resources used for the qualification are online modules, accessible from desktop, laptop and tablet computers and covering different aspects of social media. These are updated every 6 months which is necessary due to the constantly evolving nature mobile devicesof the social networks. The fact that the course resources are updated like this means they stay relevant and current. This is one of the main reasons that Further Education colleges and national training providers choose us to either deliver their social media courses on their behalf (we deliver the Diploma in Social Media for Business as part of apprenticeship schemes) or they licence our materials for use under their own brands. Our materials are licensed and used by training providers in some very exotic places including the Cayman Islands!

Reviews and Feedback

Feedback from our learners has been extremely positive. Both the reviews that are left on our website (which you can view here) and feedback provided by students to the training providers and colleges for which we deliver the qualification, show that the Diploma is enjoyed and valued by all that take it.

What Next?

We have several intakes for the Diploma each year and our next intake starts on 15th February 2016 and runs for 12 months.  Flexible payment plans are available if you contact us.

We have an informational webinar on 1st February if you would like to experience our learning style.  Sign up here.

If you wish to know more about Concise Training, The City and Guilds Diploma in Social Media for Business or any of our other qualifications and courses, please feel free to contact us or leave your questions in the comments.

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Why you should use the new LinkedIn App

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Why you should use the new LinkedIn app icon.
Before Christmas, LinkedIn released a new version of their app – which I have to say is going to make a real difference to my use of LinkedIn – as it mirrors the desktop version much more closely.  The new LinkedIn app is split into 5 main sections:

The new LinkedIn app toolbar.

Home

This is where you see updates from people in your network – it’s your ‘newsfeed’.  You can like, comment or share updates, in the same way, you can with the desktop version. 

The new look to the LinkedIn app shows new icons for likes, comments and shares on the news feed.

 

 

Home is also where you write a status update (use Share at the top of the screen), add links or photos in the usual way.  You can also mention other LinkedIn members using ‘@’

The top of the newsfeed on the new LinkedIn app. This is where you would input a new status update.

Choosing the photo icon (either when you have pressed Share or using the photo option on the top right of the screen) allows you to either select a photo that you have already taken, or allows you to take a photo in real-time – handy if you want to share what you are doing in real time.

Be aware that you can’t write a new LinkedIn published post using the app.

Me

This section has a number of purposes:

This image shows the 'Me' page on the new LinkedIn app.

 

  • Show a list of who has interacted with your posts (don’t forget to reply to comments) or viewed your profile (the main page) 
  • Show who has viewed your profile – remember, free accounts can see the last 5 people (click Who’s viewed your profile)
  • Show your activity – what you have liked, shared, commented on and what you have shared and who has liked, commented, shared (click on who’s viewed your share)
  • Show your published posts – (click on who’s viewed your share and then click posts).  You can reshare these with your network or as a private message.
  • Edit aspects of your profile (click on the > next to your name at the top).  Click on the pencil to edit each section.  If you scroll down on this section, you will also see who else people viewed (as well as your profile), which can pop up some interesting names. 🙂
  • Click the Gear at the top right-hand corner to change your settings.  If you sync your calendar, LinkedIn will give you information about the people you are about to meet.

Messaging

LinkedIn has improved their messaging service on the desktop and this improvement is also shown on the app.  A list of individuals you have messaged or have messaged you is shown.  Clicking on an individual shows you the full conversation and allows you to type a message (including a  photo if required).  Unlike the desktop version, you can’t include documents as attachments.

My Network

Display work anniversaries or birthdays from your connections.  You can like, comment, say congrats or swipe to skip.

This section also displays a list of people you may know.  If you click the Connect button, an automated invite will be sent.  If you click on the individual’s name, it will display their profile.  Clicking on the Connect button, will send the automated invite.  If you click on the three dots on the top right, you can personalise your invite.

Search

This section allows you to search for people, jobs and more.

What’s Missing?

The obvious section that is missing is the ability to handle Company pages.  Groups and Job Search are separate LinkedIn apps, but apart from that I’d say this is a vast improvement to using LinkedIn on a mobile device – what do you think?

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Are you in Facebook’s local directory for businesses?

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Are you in Facebook's local directory for businesses?

Have you seen the new Facebook functionality to search for local businesses or services?  This is a really interesting development by Facebook and something all local businesses need to be aware of.

Using a desktop and the following link https://www.facebook.com/services/, you can search for a number of different types of services in a town (e.g. automotive repair, hair salon, event venue, interior designer).  Over 85, business types are suggested at the bottom of the page and more when you start typing into the search box.

A list of pages near the town is returned ranked by the best reviews and ratings as well as your previous interactions with the page or your friend’s interaction with the page.

The results display businesses’ contact information, hours and excerpts of reviews.  A map is also shown to indicate where businesses are located.

This is a search that I did for hair salons in my hometown.  I actually use a different hairdresser – who might miss out if this search facility becomes widely used!

 Facebook local business directory search results

Local business owners should act now:

  • Create a local Facebook page for the business (or check existing ones to make sure that it accurately represents the business)
  • Work towards getting reviews and ratings
  • Keep the page updated to encourage your audience to engage

Do let us know if you would like help with managing your Facebook page – either through one of our Facebook workshops or e-learning courses or through our social media management services.

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Are you overwhelmed with digital marketing?

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overwhelmed
When I’ve been out and about recently, I’ve heard several people say they know they should be using digital technologies to market their business, but even if they do have a strategy (which many still don’t) they are finding it all a bit overwhelming. I can understand this – there are so many people saying you should be using this channel or that channel it can get very confusing, be time consuming and difficult to know which is the best option.

I think there is a minimum you should do, whatever business you are in:

1. Optimised website

SEO-button

A website is central to everything you do and will be the place customers find you or the place customers check you out before working with you. Your website must be optimised both for your keyword phrases and for mobile viewing.

2. Email newsletters

email-buttonI’m still amazed how many businesses I talk to don’t use a newsletter to regularly keep in touch with customers. Your subscriber list is owned by you (as opposed to another channel) and offers you an opportunity to regularly talk to people who have opted in. You can see who opens newsletters and who clicks on links and follow up appropriately.

A newsletter dropping into their inbox is often the reminder people need to get back in contact.

3. LinkedIn or Facebook

linkedinLinkedIn is a fantastic tool, particularly for B2B businesses and this database of potential contacts is just amazing. However, I can appreciate it isn’t always the right tool for B2C businesses – so I offer Facebook as an alternative. I don’t mean just have a profile though.  Actually use the tool by sharing interesting or useful information. You all know an incredible amount of information about your business or industry. Share your knowledge at least once a week.

4. Added value content

social word cloudCreate regular, useful content that you can share with your audience. You may want to use a blog post or create short videos, create infographics or Slideshares (you could even reuse the same content in all these different formats) it will depend on your audience and what you have got to say. Content should be high quality, relevant and planned.  Once you have created the content, distribute it on each of your channels.

5. Use one other channel

twitter and facebookSelect and use one other channel that is relevant to your audience. If you sell products, you may want to use Instagram to share high quality, aspirational images of your product in action, if you want to converse with influencers or journalists, then Twitter may be the one for you. If you are a B2C business, consider Facebook, if you are B2B, consider SlideShare or blogging.

So in summary, I would recommend you use a few digital marketing channels really well rather than spreading yourself too thin and always ensure you plan you activities against your overall objectives.

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Crafting The Most Engaging Content

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Newsletter_banner_Oct15

September has been and gone and we move into autumn – a time of year that can be visually stunning with the changes in the colours of trees and shrubs to their autumn browns and yellows.

Oct15_inset_contentWe associate these colours with autumn and this is often reflected in collections of clothes that are released around this time of year and the images we see in the media. This association between certain things and certain visual stimuli can be a powerful tool in the marketer’s arsenal and we can use it to produce engaging visual content on social media.

There has been a lot of research over the years into the way that our brains process visual information. For example, Gregory showed that 90% of visual information is lost by the time it reaches our brain so we fill in the blanks based on past experience and prior knowledge. We can use this in the design of our content by using obvious and meaningful headlines and captions to set expectations.

Also, because people expect to see certain TRAFFIC LIGHTcolours used in certain situations – traffic lights being an extreme example, don’t vary too much from the colours that people would expect.

There has also been extensive research into colour perception and the ability to remember information presented in different colour combinations. In 2011, Thomas Sanocki and Noah Sulman carried out a series of experiments; the results of which implied that people retain information better when it is presented using a limited palette of 2 or 3 harmonious colours. Bear this in mind when creating your content – use a limited range of harmonious colours as the overall theme and use contrasting colours sparingly.

The font or typeface used can also have a big impact on how people perceive your content. The work of Kevin Larson and Rosalind Picard showed that the font used affects how engaged the reader is with the work they are reading. It would take far more space than we have here to go into the detail of what makes for pleasing typography so we will save this for another blog post but there are some key points that are useful to the content marketer:

  • Use clear and easy to read font types – generally for content viewed on screen these are the sans serif fonts: aerial, verdana, Helvetica etc.
  • Space out your text and visuals, use white-space to separate characters
    Try not to place graphical elements in a way that will split paragraphs or sentences.
  • Certain fonts may be associated with certain things and this should be used for headlines etc.

So now you know how to show your content, what should you say to get the most engagement on social media?Oct15_inset_question

  • Visual content tends to attract more engagement than text alone. Colours and images can elicit an emotional response in the viewer and this is what leads to increased engagement.
  • On Facebook visual content representing shared experience (travel/events) does well
  • Product debuts and (you saw it here first) type posts attract a lot of engagement
  • Pairing a question and hash-tag with an engaging image can elicit the best response.
  • Use an image instead of text and let the user fill in the blanks
  • Be forward! Ask for opinions, questions and thoughts
  • Provide content that helps the reader and gives them value in return for taking the time to read it
  • Humour can be very successful but be careful how you use it. Sense of humour is a very personal thing.

So in summary if you want to produce the most engaging content, it should be helpful, original and not seen before elsewhere, visual – making use of a small palette of harmonious colours and using easy to read fonts, should represent shared experience and should be accompanied by a call to action – a question or request.

Please let us know what you thought of this post and share any tips that you might have in the comments.

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Getting back into study mode – 8 tips for returning to study

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Tips for studyingSeptember, with its connotations of ‘Back to School’, is traditionally the time to think about what you are doing, what you want to do and what training you need to get there. When you have been out of education for quite a while, it can seem daunting to return to study. Try these 8 tips to get you started this autumn.

No1Work out what your ultimate aim is – do you want to change career? Are you looking to certify your existing skills with a formal accredited qualification?  – An accredited qualification will come with inbuilt and verified quality and it may be more credible. Concise Training offer City & Guilds accredited qualifications as well as short unaccredited courses.

Identify courses that will satisfy this aim and suit you – do your research!  – For example, our ITQ Social Media Certificate is a practical “hands on” qualification and our Diploma in Social Media for Business is more marketing based.

No3Find out what time commitment the courses require from you and work out whether you can fit this into your lifestyle – we would encourage learners to commit around 10 hours per week to our Diploma but our individual unaccredited E-learning courses can give plenty of skills (without accreditation) and can be completed by a determined learner in just a couple of weeks.

No4Find out what the total cost of the course is and if you can spread the payments – Many providers (including Concise Training) offer payment plans to help you spread the cost of your qualification.

No5Research funding that may be available in your area – this changes regularly. At the moment, registered businesses can claim up to £500 towards the cost of our Social media for Business Diploma or you may want to consider a 24+ advanced learning loan to pay for it.

No6Plan ahead – decide when you want to start your studies. There is probably no point enrolling for a course if you are then immediately going away on holiday. Make sure your dates work with the provider.

No7Set yourself targets and organise a study schedule from the start – Perhaps you need to set aside an evening a week for study. Make a list of due dates for your course and tick them off as you submit the work. This will help to keep you motivated.

No8Build a support network around you – each of our distance learning qualifications and courses come with support from your tutor but you are also given access to a group forum where you can get in touch with others who are also doing the course. You can, of course, keep in touch with peers and your tutor on social media!

If you would like to know more about our E-learning courses and social media qualifications, please do get in touch.

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Using creative content for social media

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Searching for visual content

Using creative content for social media

We’re in the age of visual content marketing. With the sheer volume of activity on social media, it’s no wonder that people’s attention spans have reduced and we’re more likely to scan things to avoid content overload. Images on the other hand, can tell a story, provoke an emotional response and from a business point of view, develop brand recognition. You can also double your chances of exposure, as the image has separate metadata from the text (but that’s a topic for another day).

Earlier this year, Hubspot released some interesting statistics about the power of visual marketing. Read more.

  • Tweets with images receive 18% more clicks, 89% more favourites and 150% more retweets.  (Source)
  • Images and photos are the most important tactic in optimizing social media posts.  (Source)
  • 90% of information transmitted to the brain is visual, and visuals are processed 60,000 times faster in the brain than text. (Sources: Business2Community and Zabisco)

Where do you go to find images for your website, blog or update? It’s worth considering as you could unwittingly be breaking copyright law.

Many people think that because an image has been published on the web it is free to use.  This is a popular misconception because finding something on the internet does not mean it is in the public domain.  Work in the public domain applies to content where copyrights has expired, been forfeited, or is inapplicable.

What are the rules about copyright for creative content?

Copyright is a form of legal protection that is attached the moment piece of work is created (text, image, video and audio) and applies to both published and unpublished work. So, when you take a photograph, you immediately own the copyright to it. You don’t have to assign the circle c image to it, you don’t have to register it with an organisation, fill out forms or add a legal notice to the image for copyright to apply.

As copyright owner you have ‘exclusive rights’ which basically mean:

  1. Only you can reproduce the copyrighted work;
  2. Display the copyrighted work publicly;
  3. Create variations based on the copyrighted work; and
  4. Distribute copies of the work by selling, renting, lending or displaying the image.

You can give away or sell rights to the work. This is typically done via Creative Commons which is a standardized way to give the public permission to share and use your work.

There are six types of licenses ranging from allowing any type of use to setting certain permissions for changes and use. An Attribution license offers the most flexibility; it lets anyone use the image in the way they want, even commercially, as long as they give the originator the credit for the image.

It’s important to remember that content published online, including social networks is protected by copyright law and anyone who wants to republish an image should obtain permission from the original owner. Of course, it’s a reasonable expectation that that when content is published on social media it is going to be shared, retweeted or re-pinned and therefore, falls within the bounds of fair use. However, if you then saved the content to your desktop and uploaded it to your website, this would infringe copyright.

By its very nature, the internet is a difficult area to enforce copyright but businesses are far more likely to be pursued for legal claims if they break the rules.

Here are some basic guidelines:

  • Use a common sense approach to creating content
  • Take the time to create your own original content wherever possible
  • Share, repin or retweet content shared by the original rights owner
  • Ask permission from the content creator
  • Obtain the appropriate licenses for purchased content
  • Crediting someone for the work does not always negate copyright. If you are in any doubt,  seek legal advice or just don’t use it!

So how do you find images to enhance your content without worrying about permission and copyright?

Stock image sites are a great way to get access to copyrighted material and pay for the right to share it. When you use stock photography some rules may still apply from the content creator. For example if you see an image is labelled “Editorial use only” these typically include news and celebrity images, are not for commercial use.

Here are some stock image sites to consider:

Paid for image sources

And of course there are a myriad of stock photo sites to choose from for high quality paid for images.

http://www.shutterstock.com/

http://www.gettyimages.co.uk/

http://www.veer.com/

https://en.fotolia.com/

http://www.istockphoto.com/

Image creation tools

Canva – Easy drag and drop tool to create images using their extensive collection of graphics, photos, templates and fonts available, or you can upload your own images.

Pablo  – Similar to Canva, select from a range of background images and fonts to quickly create engaging images.

Pic Monkey – Photo editing tool that also enables you to create text and photo combinations to enhance social media posts. Requires a paid for membership.

Skitch – Screen capture and annotation tool via Evernote.

Although not a tool, have a look at this infographic from WeAreTop10.com.

Updated 11/8/17

up to date social media image size guide 2017.

Social Media Images Sizes – Cheat Sheet was created by WeAreTop10.com
Finding licensed free images online

You can use the main search engines to help you find images you can use for free.

Google Images: Search using keywords as normal and when the results and returned click “Search tools” and then “Usage Rights”. This then gives a drop-down menu with various licensing options.

Search tools

Flickr has similar functionality.  Again, search for images using a keyword or phrase then click  “Advanced Search”, tick the box “Only search within Creative Commons licensed content”.

Concise Digital – Of course, if you don’t have the time or inclination to create branded images to enhance your updates take a look at our content management packages and design services. More

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Introduction to Concise Social Media

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Concise Social MediaConcise Training has been offering social media training services since 2009.  As you know, we offer face to face training (either workshops or bespoke at client site), City & Guilds qualifications and E-Learning courses.  As some of you may not know, for the last two years we have also been offering a social media content management service for clients.

This service was introduced to fulfil the requests we received from clients who have grown as a result of our training.  We frequently find that we are also asked to get things going for clients while they test which social media marketing mix is appropriate for them and ultimately help clients to take it back in-house by training their staff and offering a consultancy service. Throughout our content management services, our emphasis is on engagement through the use of relevant content, questions and high quality, interesting images.

During 2015, my team and I have become more structured and reflective in our approach to our own marketing – making sure that our digital advertising, networking, newsletters and search engine optimisation appeals to our defined audience.

During my face to face networking events, in particular,  I became very conscious that I was known as Concise ‘Training’ and the additional message of offering content management was getting lost.  As I am keen to grow both sides of the business so we can offer a complete digital and social media marketing service to clients, we decided it was time to develop the social media content management side of the business in its own right.

Inevitably these things takConcise Social Mediae a while to acomplish especially when they are being done whilst maintaining our high-quality service to existing clients and the process of launching a new brand has many steps. However, I’m delighted to finally announce that our new website Concise Social Media is now live and ready for visitors.  We would love to know what you think. We have had very positive feedback so far and a better appreciation of the extent of the services we can provide.

During the next six months, we will be developing the Concise Social Media brand further and helping it to stand on its own within the Concise Training family.  It will still provide a service that is personal and affordable and will continue to able to draw on the considerable knowledge gained from Concise Training’s work with a variety of digital marketing channels, sizes of business and industry sectors.

Eventually, we will separate social media updates, newsletters and blog posts, but for now, we are keeping the two together – yes to make it more efficient to manage but also to use the trust and credibility that we have built for Concise Training to promote the new Concise Social Media brand.

So what makes Concise Social Media different?  Well, many of the benefits can be found on our website, but the highlights include:

  • As part of the Concise Training family, we have been using and training others in the use of the marketing channels for the past 6.5 years.
  • We firmly believe engagement is key to social media success and is the core of everything we do.
  • Your account manager and myself will work with you to identify specific, realistic aims for the digital marketing as well as the brand and voice of your business, creating a bespoke solution for your budget and audience.
  • You will be encouraged and helped to contribute to the content shared on social media – you know your business.  We will work with your content and make it more engaging,
  • Digital advertising campaigns can be created across the marketing channels if this is right for your business.  We will help you to target the campaigns and keep within a specified budget.
  • You will receive a monthly report so it is possible to track whether your aims are being met.

If you would like to know more, do have a look at our website or contact us for more details.

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Business Lessons from Wimbledon

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Living the BrandAs a big tennis fan, I was delighted to go to Wimbledon last Thursday, with centre court tickets obtained through the public ballot.  Apart from a great day out, I also came away with two important marketing lessons for small business:

Live your brand

I went to Wimbledon a few years ago – just as a ground pass. Another great day out, but I came away thinking that everything was very expensive and a bit over the top. This year, I had a different impression. Yes, things were a higher price – but the quality was also significantly higher than average (and last time). As an example, we brought a sandwich – definitely more expensive than the average sandwich (about £3 more) – but the sandwich was one of the nicest that I’ve had – I actually didn’t mind paying extra – and we brought another for dinner. It was very fresh and had loads of filling including good chunks of cheese. Differently a premium product.

This general premium theme was apparent throughout – plastic beer glasses looked as close to glass as you could get – toilets were plentiful and clean.  Yes, I had to queue for the ladies – but it was a smaller queue than I would expect for that number of people!

The premium brand was also reflected by members of staff.  Whether it was the stewards who opened the gates, directed people and ensured people only moved in and out of seats during the breaks or the people selling food and drink or the court teams who had to move visitors off reserved setting, everybody was friendly, helpful and cheerful.

However, Wimbledon is more than a premium brand, the traditions of the place are equally important and were clearly represented everywhere you looked.  The uniforms worn by the staff, the look and feel of the place and the inclusion of modern technology without intrusion, all reminded us that Wimbledon is a place full of history – but is moving with the times.

All businesses can learn from this.  You need to make sure you understand where your brand is positioned and ensure everything you do online and offline represents the brand accurately (whether it is premium, affordable, everyday, basic, etc.)

Take a strategic approach

As I’ve said, a few years ago I went to Wimbledon on a ground pass – joining the queue at 7 am.  I’m not going to lie, it was a delight to have tickets and to be able to just walk into the site.  We did walk around the courts to soak up the atmosphere, but it was fantastic to be able to get to our seats on Centre Court when we were ready.

It struck me walking around that those using a ground pass needed to have a strategy to approach the day.

  • They could look at the order of play for the day and focus on one court – queuing to get seats at the court – and then staying there once they had the seats.  They would see quite a bit of tennis – but perhaps not all the ‘best’ matches.
  • Alternatively they could move from court to court snatching small snippets of tennis as they went, always standing and perhaps not seeing very much. However they would get an overview of what was going on in the main matches – and catch glimpses of the stars.

This seems a perfect analogy for how some businesses are approaching their social media marketing.  Some are using a few channels and taking a long-term approach to achieve results. Others are moving around, trying different channels and hoping they hit the right contact. Which approach do you take?

Do contact us if you need training to develop a social media strategy or contact our new sister brand Concise Social Media if you would like to outsource your social media.

Have you got any sporting analogies that you can share to help us all develop better business?  Do add them to the comments below.

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BFA Annual Conference and The Bookkeepers Conference – My Experience

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BFA Conference and The Bookkeepers ConferenceAs you may know, last week, I was speaking at both The Bookkeepers Conference and the British Franchise Association Conference.  I think it is an interesting exercise to compare the two conferences and pick out lessons I learnt from each.

Bookkeepers Conference Twitter

The Venue and Facilities

As it happens, both conferences were in Birmingham.

The Bookkeepers Conference, with about 150 delegates, was held at St Johns Hotel, Solihull.  A great venue, easy to find and with plenty of parking; it had a large main theatre and several small theatres. Endless tea and coffee during the day was definitely a bonus and a buffet lunch was a mixture of sandwiches and buffet items.

The British Franchise Association Annual Conference, with about 250 delegates, was held at the International Conference Centre in the centre of Birmingham.  I took the train and walked to the venue – I didn’t fancy parking in the centre of town.  Once I had found the right part of the Conference Centre, the facilities were great – though personally I found tea and coffee in short supply throughout the day.  The main auditorium was amazing – comfortable seats and a massive screen with good lighting.

Thanks must go to the AV guys at both venues who did a great job sorting out slides and organising microphones for the speakers.

The Speakers

One of the great things about attending these conferences as a speaker was to be able to listen to the other speakers.  I only attended the British Franchise Conference for the first day, but all the speakers were interesting and were well received by the audience.  I particularly enjoyed the talk by Karl Sandall and his team about the franchise assisted management buyout of Tax Assist.

The bookkeepers conference speakers were equally interesting.  The lessons about using menu pricing from Kris McCulloch of Ayrshire accountancy and bkpr.co.uk were applicable to many sectors and whoever knew VAT could be as much fun as  Nicola Cadwallader FCCA AIIT CTA, and Fred Cowgill made it.

Lessons I learnt from my speaking slots

So how did my speaking slot go in each of the talks?  In both cases, the talks seemed to be well received – lots of positive Twitter comments anyway!  At the Bookkeepers Conference, I spoke for 30 minutes about creating a social media strategy and at the British Franchise Association, I spoke for 60 minutes about making use of your LinkedIn profile.

British Franchise Association Conference Twitter

What went well?

  • I included my Twitter handle on each slide which made it easy for people to tweet about what I was saying.  I know when I was listening to other speakers, I found it difficult to tweet because I wasn’t sure of their username.
  • I had created a download that linked to my talk that delegates could download from my website.  For the Bookkeepers conference, I had called it www.concisetraining.net/bkconf and for the BFA conference, it was www.concisetraining.net/bfaconf – this was similar to the hashtag that the conferences used so was memorable.
  • I have had many Twitter followers, LinkedIn connections and emails as a result of the talks – so definitely worth doing.

What would I do differently?

  • I made a last minute decision to collect business cards of bookkeepers who wanted me to send them the download – just as well I did.  I might create a paper sign up to put on tables in the future.
  • I would make it clearer if I needed wi-fi access during the talk.  It wasn’t easily possible for the AV team to change the setup to allow mouse control and internet at the podium – fortunately it wasn’t a problem as I had taken screen shots as a backup.
  • I would attach the box that came with the microphone to the back of my trousers rather than the front so I wasn’t quite such a strange shape in the pictures!

Overall I enjoyed attending and speaking at the conferences – and I would like to do more during the coming year, so do let me know if you hear of any other opportunities.

Please share your experiences of the conferences in the comments below.

 

 

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Using hashtags at conferences

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Using hashtags at conferencesI was delighted back in February to be asked to be a keynote speaker at The BookKeepers Conference on 22nd June in Birmingham.  I have the after lunch slot speaking about how and why bookkeepers should take a strategic approach to social media marketing. I think there are a few places left if you would like to attend.

Mike has done some interesting work in marketing the conference – creating videos of the speakers on his BookKeepers Conference YouTube channel.  Have a look at my video::

Of course, Mike and all the speakers and presenters have also been talking about the conference on Twitter, LinkedIn and other social media channels.  On Twitter, we have been using the hashtag #bfconf.

There was a conversation about which hashtag we should use.  It needed to meet the following criteria:

  • Be relevant
  • Be short
  • Be easy to remember
  • Be unique

We played around with a few ideas, but #bkconf seemed to work best.  By the way, to use a hashtag you just need to include the letters and/or numbers in your tweet.  (Back when I first started to use Twitter in 2009, you needed to register a hashtag, but that just isn’t practical anymore).

If you are not able to make the conference, do follow the hashtag #bkconf on Twitter (just do a search or look at the Twitter feed below) to see what people are saying.

I will be encouraging the audience to tweet about any tips they pick up during my talk.  It can be quite distracting for a presenter to see people using their phones during your talk – but the benefits outweigh the distraction.  Using a hashtag is a great way to allow more people to benefit from your speakers before, during and after the event.

I will also be using the hashtag to talk about a special download available from Friday – so do keep an eye out to make sure you don’t miss out. Either watch the Twitter feed (as shown below) or why not come along in person?

Of course if you are going to be there, do come and say Hello!

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