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

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Why don’t hospitality businesses use social media for engagement? We look look at this in our new blog post.

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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Instagram have recently launched Instagram Stories earlier this month. Our latest blog explains how Instagram Stories works.

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: 3M Corporation 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.

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 dropdown 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 Social Media – 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!

No result could be fetched.

 

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Nimble plus Zapier = create tasks automatically

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Nimble and Zapier Stellar CRM

Link Nimble with Zapier to create the ultimate CRM system

As you will know from our previous blog posts, we like Nimble here at Concise Training. It is a powerful CRM system that has a wealth of great features that makes working in teams much more effective (we recently wrote about the powerful Nimble contact search function). However, there are one or two desirable features that are currently missing and here we discuss ways that third party tools can be used to overcome these minor issues.

Automatic task creation

One of the great features of Nimble is the ability to create tasks and assign them to others. These tasks can be linked to individual contacts. For example, you might want to create a task to give Joe Bloggs a call on a certain date about the proposal that you sent him. This is a very useful feature but wouldn’t it be more useful if Nimble could create such a task automatically depending on the type of contact that you have added to it? This is feature that we believe has been requested and that Nimble are currently working on but at the time of writing it is not yet available. This would be useful if, for example, you were adding a new contact record set to a particular lead type or status. Perhaps you want to create a task/reminder to call that person when the lead status is “qualified” but not when it is “unqualified”. This can’t currently be done by Nimble alone but by linking your Nimble account to Zapier you can automate several aspects of using Nimble including this one.

If you have not already got a Zapier account then sign up here.

First you will have to authorise Zapier to work with Nimble. From your dashboard click on the small down arrow next to your profile picture and select “connected accounts”:

zapier connected accounts menu

Then from the left hand side of the screen choose the drop down for “connect new account”. When you click on this drop down a menu will appear and you will need to select Nimble from the list of available apps. Look for the Nimble logo.

Zapier select app menu

Clicking on the Nimble logo will then take you through a series of easy to follow steps to authorise Zapier and Nimble to work together – you will need your Nimble sign in information.

Once you have connected Nimble you can create your “zap” which is a bit like an “IF THEN” statement. From the top menu click “make a zap” and choose Nimble as both the Trigger and Action apps:

zapier trigger app menu

You will be prompted to choose the trigger to use. There is only one trigger available for Nimble and that is the creation of a new contact.

You will get to choose from a selection of actions that should take place when a new contact is added to Nimble. We are going to select “Create Task”:

zapier setting action

Clicking “continue” a couple of times will bring you to step number 4 where you can add some filters to your zap.

Zapier adding filters

Your selection here depends on what you want to trigger your task creation. You can select from a long list of fields that are available in a Nimble contact record:

zapier adding custom filters

For this example we would choose the field “Lead Status”, condition “Text Exactly Matches” and value “Qualified”. A trigger would then only fire for a new contact that is given the lead status “Qualified” in Nimble.

Clicking continue takes you to step 5 where you can specify the content of the task that Zapier will create for you:

Zap creation screen 5

You can pull in data from the Nimble contact record by using the “insert fields” buttons so for example, you might want the subject of your task to say “Call XXXXXX” where XXXXXX is the contact’s name:

zapier adding the nimble task subject

You might also want to set a due date that is calculated relative to the date of the contact’s creation. So if you want to make the due date 48 hours after the date the contact was created:

zapier Nimble task due date

You can customise Nimble to easily change or add fields that can be assigned to contacts so together with Zapier you can create tasks automatically if your specified conditions are met.

Using Zapier and IFTTT with Nimble to automatically add contacts to a Twitter list

IFTTT is a service that works in a similar way to Zapier but it does not link to Nimble directly. It does however allow the addition of people to a Twitter list – something that Zapier is unable to do. By using both in combination, you can automatically add new Nimble contacts that have a Twitter account in their record to the relevant Twitter list depending on your specified conditions.

For this one you first need to create a zap that will email you when a new Nimble contact is created containing a Twitter account. The zap will need to pass certain fields from the Nimble record into the email subject and main body and then an IFTTT recipe can use this email as an input to add the Twitter account to a certain Twitter list.

To set this up takes a few steps and there is not enough room here to explain all of them but if you would like to know more about how to do this, please let us know in the comments and we will look at putting together another blog post on the subject. Also, please let us know if you have used Nimble and Zapier together to automate other tasks.

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How to measure social networking

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How to Measure Social NetworkingIf you are using social networking on your own behalf or on behalf of clients, it is really important you regularly measure the impact of your updates against your marketing aims. In this post, we are considering the use of social networking as a marketing tool – not as a customer service tool.  We are also not covering the obvious need to measure digital advertising.

Marketing Aims

It is important to make sure that your marketing aims are realistic I often get clients tell me that they want to see direct sales as a result of time spent on social networks. In reality, this can sometimes be difficult to prove in isolation. Social networking may be one of the touches that you have with a customer.  The social proof caused by social networking may send a prospect to your website to find out more about you or may prompt them to download an article or sign-up to your newsletter. Down the road when the visitor contacts you, the original contact via social networking might have been forgotten – or might have been a while ago.

So what should we measure?

I believe that social networking success comes from people engaging with your posts. This has the effect of spreading your message and creating that social proof (the more people who positively engage with you, the better the impression of your brand). You should create a dashboard that measures the monthly increase in:

  • contacts
  • engagement and reach
  • individuals who took action as a result of your social networking.

Contacts

This is simply the number of Twitter followers, Facebook likes, LinkedIn contacts and LinkedIn follows you are achieving each month.  If the business and its employees are actively following and connecting to more relevant people according to a planned follower strategy, you would expect to see an increase in organic number of followers. There should also be an increase if you are sharing interesting, helpful and relevant content. Remember, you want relevant contacts – there is no value in purchasing followers.

Engagement and Reach

Engagement is the number of likes, comments, mentions, shares (or retweets) an update receives.  Monitor the numbers monthly and also identify which types of updates are getting the most engagement – so you can do more of these. The reach should also be measured – the more engagement an update receives – the more people will see it – the higher the reach.  Each of the social networking channels has tools to help measure engagement and reach.

LinkedIn

Individuals can see the number of likes, comments and views of published posts by clicking Profile > Who’s Viewed Your Profile > Who’s viewed your posts

On your LinkedIn home page, the number of people who have viewed your latest status update is displayed.

LinkedIn Status update views

The Analytics tab on your company page shows the number of impressions, clicks, and interactions of each post on the company page.

The Notifications tab on the company page shows who has liked, commented or shared individual posts.

Facebook

Facebook Insights on a Business page shows all sorts of useful information.  The Posts tab shows how much engagement and reach each post has received.

Twitter

If you sign up for Twitter ads (which will mean that you have to give your credit card details), you can view the reach each tweet has received within twitter.com. Click on the graph icon under a tweet to see the reach and engagement of the update.

Twitter Reach

This information is available for all tweets by looking at Twitter Ads > Analytics > Tweet Activity as discussed in a previous blog post.

Action

This will depend on the content that you are creating on social media and what action you want people to take.

Do you want people to visit your website?  Then include links to your website in an update with a compelling call to action and use Google Analytics to measure the visits to the appropriate pages from social networking.  Also, look at what your visitors do then – how effective is the page at keeping the visitor engaged and do they move to other pages on the website?

Do you want people to sign up for the newsletter, download a document, watch a video, sign up to a webinar, use a voucher code or ultimately purchase a product / service?   Then measure the signups on each of these individual actions using Google Analytics or other relevant tools.

What about sales?

If you ultimately want to see sales from your marketing, you need to understand the decision processes your audience will take to make a purchase.  This often depends on the cost of your product or service.

Individuals may spend an impulsive £10 or £50 as a result of something they have seen on social media, but in general, people are not using social networking to buy, so larger purchases are likely to take more work. In this case, social networking should be used as a trust building and lead generation tool and the start of the buyer journey.  If you can use social networking to encourage somebody to hear more from you by getting them to sign up to a webinar or a newsletter; make a personal connection on LinkedIn; or take a phone call; you have now opened the door to keep them engaged and move them through the buyer journey.

In summary

Your social network marketing is going to take time – but it gives you a unique opportunity to offer valuable content to a large number of people, establish social proof, and move large numbers of  prospects through the buyer journey with the help of valuable, relevant, engaging content.

What do you think?  Do you have any measurement tips to share?  Under our Concise Social Media brand – we can help you manage your social media marketing..

 

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How Accessible is Facebook?

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Facebook Accessibility

A website is accessible when its information is equally available to all people, regardless of physical or developmental abilities or impairments. There are various things you can do to make your website more accessible including:

  • Use a clean, consistent design which will benefit people with learning or cognitive disabilities

  • Provide text equivalents (descriptions and alt tags) for pictures for people whoquestion mark use screen-reader technology to access the site

  • Include captioning on videos to benefit those people who are deaf or hearing-impaired

  • Design the site so that it can be navigated with keyboard controls

Taking the above into consideration, you might think that social networks like Facebook can’t possibly be accessible but they do provide a range of features designed to make them more so.

Facebook Keyboard Shortcuts

Did you know that Facebook has a number of keyboard shortcuts in case you don’t use a mouse?

First you have to find the right combination of keys for your browser –

Internet Explorer for PC: Alt + #, then EnterKeyboard

Firefox for PC: Shift + Alt+ #

Safari for Mac: Ctrl + Opt + #

Firefox for Mac: Ctrl + Opt + #

Chrome for Mac: Ctrl + Opt + #

Chrome for PC: Alt + #

Replace # with the relevant access key number (listed below).

Access Keys

The Access Keys let you jump from one page within Facebook to another with a key combination.

Facebook Keyboard Button0 – Help, 1 – Home, 2 – Timeline, 3 – Friends, 4 – Inbox, 5 – Notifications, 6 – Settings, 7 – Activity Log,
8 – About, 9 – Terms

There are also keyboard shortcuts that work for specific parts of Facebook:

News Feed Web Messenger

j and k – Scroll between News Feed stories

CTRL + g – Search conversations

enter/return – See more of the selected story

CTRL + q – Show/hide keyboard shortcuts

p – Post a new status

CTRL + Delete – Archive/unarchive conversation

l – Like or unlike the selected story

CTRL + j – Mark as spam

c – Comment on the selected story

CTRL + m – Start a new message

s – Share the selected story

CTRL + i – Go to Inbox

o – Open an attachment from the selected story

CTRL + u – Go to Other

/ – Search

q – Search chat contacts

? – Open a list of these keyboard shortcuts while in News Feed

Facebook also marks regions of the news feed and timeline with what are called “ARIA Landmarks”. These help to tell screen-reader software what the content of that region of the screen relates to – for example, a navigation menu may have the landmark role=”navigation” added to it.

Facebook also allows the user to alter their settings in ways which can make it more accessible to assistive technologies.

For example, the user may wish to stop videos from automatically playing in their timeline:

  1. From the top right of Facebook, click the small arrow and select SettingsFacebook Settings Arrow

  2. Click Videos in the left hand menu

  3. Click the dropdown menu next to Auto-play Videos and select “Off”

Facebook Video Settings

Surely though, most of Facebook is content added by its users so it can’t really be accessible can it?

Actually Facebook is able to generate a kind of alt-tag for images or videos uploaded to it by users based on any information that it can find when the image is uploaded. For example, if you tag a person or a place in the photo this might be used to create an alt-tag which can help somebody with impaired vision to interpret what the image is about.

Arguably Facebook has tried to do its bit and they do have an accessibility team who work on improving Facebook’s accessibility but it is also up to the users to make the content they are posting as accessible as they can. Top tips for making your Facebook posts accessible to as many people as possible include:

* Add a captions file to any videos that you upload:

To add captions to a video as you upload it:

  1. After you click Post, click Edit This Video.

  2. Click Choose File to select a SubRip (.srt) file from your computer. You can add files in additional languages after you save the video.

  3. Click Save.

* Add a caption to any photos that you post.

A photo caption gives a text description for people who view it using a screen reader. You can add a caption easily by typing it in the “say something about this photo” field.

Do you have any tips for improving the accessibility of content on Facebook? Do you have experience of using assistive technologies such as screen reader software with Facebook? Let us know about your experiences.

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Nimble CRM Powerful Contact Search

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Nimble Powerful Contact Search

In our previous blog post about the Nimble CRM system, we gave you a brief overview of Nimble. Today we will look a little deeper into the use of tags and custom searches.

We introduced the concept of tags added to individuals’ nimble profiles in the last blog post. In Nimble they are entirely customisable, you can add any tag that you like and you can add as many tags as you like. With some careful planning, you can use the tags feature to create some powerful sorting and searchable categories of contacts.

For example, lets say we have previously added the tag “prospect” to some records (you can see an example of a tagged record below) and we want to search for a list of all contacts with this tag:

Tagged Nimble Record

Down the left-hand side of the contacts “home” page, you will see a column showing an A-Z list of your tags. Locate the tag you are looking for and click on this:

Nimble Tags List

and you will be presented with a list of all the contacts that you have marked with that tag. This can then be manipulated in a number of ways including bulk editing such as adding an additional tag to all those contacts or you can export the results into a CSV file which can be used to create a Twitter list – easiest to do this with Tweepi.

The search and sorting capabilities of Nimble are actually much more powerful than this. At the top of the contacts home screen, in the blue ribbon, there is a search box with an advanced search option.

Nimble search ribbon

The advanced search lets you create logical searches based on AND, OR, NOT logic and allows you to put together powerful custom searches. As a simple example, say we wanted a list of all contacts tagged with “prospect” that also have a Twitter and Facebook account recorded in their Nimble profile.

Clicking on advanced search will give the option to search for “people and companies”, “people only” or “companies only” – we will select “people”

Nimble People Search

The other fields of the advanced search can then be populated. We want to search for the tag “prospect” so we will make this selection in the search fields:

tag search

We also want to add two more conditions to our search – the records must have both a Twitter and a Facebook account entered. To add additional search conditions we click the + sign, choose the field that we wish to search for and by clicking on “contains” we are able to change the search behaviour for this field. Here we select “is not empty”

Nimble Searches

Repeating the procedure to add the search condition for the Facebook field:

adding facebook field

Now clicking search will return a list of all the contacts that have been tagged “prospect” and have both a Twitter and Facebook account recorded in their profile. I know what you are thinking…powerful, but a bit of a hassle doing this every time if the search is going to be used regularly. Well, the lovely people at Nimble thought of that too. When your search has been performed once, you get the option to save your search. This option will appear above the search results list:

nimble save search

and you can then name and store the search for you and your team to make use of. Saved searches are shown in a list down the left-hand side of the contacts home screen and simply clicking on the search name will perform that search again.

saved searches

When you consider that you can set up many saved searches, each highly customised, you can see that you can view a very specific category/demographic of your contacts quickly and easily. You can then keep tabs on the social media activity of these people using techniques covered in the last blog post. The fact that you can also add your own custom data fields into Nimble means that you can create a system that is very tailored to your business and the way in which you use this powerful CRM system.

There is a good explanation video for adding custom data fields to Nimble here.

Next time we are going to look at how Nimble can be linked to some third-party services to create an even more powerful CRM system.

Do you use Nimble CRM? Have you got any tips to share?

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Is continuing professional development important to you?

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Is continuing professional development importantI recently had a conversation with Gillian Shaw about the career developments that have taken place in her life as a result of her doing our social media courses through Pitman Training Group.continual professional development LinkedIn

 

 

 

This got me thinking of the importance of ensuring that we all look after our own personal learning – at whatever stage of our career we are at.  It is much easier to take the easy way out and just keep doing what you have always done without learning anything new, but does this bring self-satisfaction, interest or improvement?

Continuous professional development or training can be informal or formal.  You may do informal cpd all the time – at networking events – listening to presentations or just by reading articles online or a regular basis.  However, I would strongly recommend that you regularly plan to do some formal CPD with defined learning outcomes based on your individual needs.  Doing some structured learning can give you a real sense of achievement, can give your brain something else to think about and, if relevant to your job gives you an opportunity to reflect on what you are doing and give you time and space to do it better.

Formal, structured training can cost money – in fact, I would suggest that if it is going to be relevant and informative it should cost money – but consider it as an investment in yourself or your employees and ultimately an investment in your business which will bring you a return in the form of more efficient and happier staff who can bring more skills and ultimately more profit to your business.

How much CPD you require may depend upon the field you are working in or your area of specialism, One of the things that I enjoy most about working with social media marketing, is that it is always changing – I have to spend several days each month updating myself on changes to the channels and tools and learning about different and innovative ways of doing things. Even so, I sometimes need to ‘think on my feet’ in the middle of a workshop when one of the channels has updated overnight!  (Not something that happens with my MS Office training!) ‘Content marketing‘ is a term that is used now as a trusted and regular form of marketing – but even 6 years ago, it wasn’t considered as something that everybody ought to be doing – it was only for big brands.  Although I’ve been working in the field for many years now, I’m currently taking a formal qualification in marketing to keep my skills fresh and bring new services to my clients.

You also need to be aware of the requirement for CPD to generally ‘keep up to date’ with developments it IT, business legislation and society.  Twitter and Facebook are becoming mainstream tools for personal and professional use.  These days most people need to consider how they are using the tools to market their personal and professional brands or how they are using the tools for learning. Think about how Twitter has been used during the recent election – it has not had as large an impact as it could have done – but the recent cabinet announcements have been made first on Twitter by @David_Cameron which is a quick, easy, direct way of getting the message out.  Do you need training to use Twitter to be able to receive information in this format efficiently and easily?

On the other hand, I don’t know if you saw the tweets by some Tory MPs after the election Question TIme? All the tweets mentioned ‘strong and commanding’ – not much personality there – no major damage to their personal brands – but perhaps if they had done some CPD they would have understood the importance of personality on Twitter!

So what CPD or training do you feel is important to keep you and your staff up to date? Do you carry out a regular training needs analysis or talk about CPD needs in annual review sessions?  Do share in the comments below whether you think CPD is important and what training you have done recently.

 

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Are you using YouTube cards? They’re free!

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Are you using YouTube cards?We all know that people like watching videos. Creating informative, funny, educational or ‘behind the scenes’ videos of your business increases your Internet footprint and is a fantastic way of engaging with your audience.

It can, however, be difficult to drive viewers to take the next step in your purchase funnel. Up to now, you have been able to include annotations with a link to your website or include the link in the description of the video. However, these always felt awkward and not easy to use for lead generation. They also didn’t work on mobile devices

Now, you can use YouTube cards to include a link to a page on your website – from the video on any desktop or mobile device and they are free for anybody to use so long as you have an account that is in ‘good standing’.

What cards can you use?

There are five types of cards available:

Merchandise Card – Link to an approved external site where you sell products (e.g. Google Play, Shopify, iTunes, etc.)

Fundraising cards – Link to an approved external fundraising site (e.g. kickstarter, subbable, patreon)

Video or playlist card – Link to another public YouTube video or playlist which will be of interest to the viewer.

Associated website card – Link to a page on an associated website.  This is the one that I will use most.

Fan Funding card – Let your fans show appreciation for your videos by making a money contribution directly on the video page.

How do I set up a card?

To set up a card:

1. Visit Video Manager

2. Edit the video you want to add cards to

3. Click Cards in the top tab bar

Video Card Menu

4. Click Add card

5. Click Enable (to accept terms and conditions and set an associated website in the case of a website card).  From then on, click Create.

7. Enter a valid URL that is supported for the chosen card.

8. Add an Image (square), a title (50 characters), call-to-action (30 characters) and teaser text (30 characters).

9. The teaser text will be displayed in the top right-hand corner of the video.

Video with card teaser

When viewers click on the teaser, the card is displayed (while the video is still running).

Video Card

The teaser is displayed on the top right of the video for a few seconds, it is then replaced by an ‘i’.

Video with card teaser hidden

 

10. A video can have up to 5 cards.  Each time the video is played, the teaser text from a different card is displayed.  Have a look at this in practice by watching this video.

How can I use cards?

  • Create cards that will send your viewers to appropriate pages on your website based on what your video is about.
  • Get viewers to sign up for your email newsletter in return for a download
  • Send viewers to additional content that is related to the subject of the video
  • Send viewers to a product or service page on your website. Include a discount code in the video card to encourage visits and help to track leads.

What do you think?

Are you going to change annotations to video cards?  How will you make use of them?  Do let me know in the comments below.

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April Hot Topics – Google Search, New Survey, Buyer Personas

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Google search, buyer personas hot topics

As part of the new content planning we have implemented within Concise Training, the 4th Tuesday of the month will be focused on talking about ‘Hot Topics’ in the world of social media and digital marketing. Each month, I will focus on discussing the implications of a topic that has been in the news or themes that have been consistently raised by clients during the month.

This week, I have a few different things I want to discuss – the impact of the changes in the Google search algorithm, results of a survey by Lloyds bank, and the importance of creating buyer personas when creating content marketing.

Google Search Algorithm

You are probably quite aware that Google has changed its search algorithm so that websites which are not mobile friendly will not feature so highly in search results on mobile devices. The change came into effect on 21st April and I know I got plenty of newsletters from people who wanted to tell me about it – I’m sure you did too.

So what have you done about it? The first thing is to check whether Google thinks your site is mobile friendly using this checker.

You may not have seen the effect yet – Google said it would take about a week to roll out to all sites. I guess the point here is that you need to know if and how the changes have affected how you site appears compared to your competitors – positively or negatively. By the way, do you religiously check each month where in Google search your pages are appearing for your keywords?

You can do this in a number of ways

1. Search for keyword phrases in an incognito browser window (in Chrome, click on the 3 lines on the top right and choose New incognito window). Choosing an incognito window won’t take your browsing history into account when displaying search results. If you do this each month and take a note where your website appears for keyword phrases, you can track any improvements. Of course, if it starts to fall down rankings or doesn’t appear on the first couple of pages, you might need to take action 🙂

2. Look at Google webmaster for your site (you may need to set it up first). This will show you which keyword phrases are getting the most impressions and how your site is ranking for each keyword phrase. This will give you and idea of which pages you should be focusing your SEO efforts on as well as allowing you to track which keyword phrases you are ranking on.

Lloyds Bank Survey

Have you seen the results from the Lloyds Bank UK Business Digital Index 2015? It states that 77% of SMEs now have basic digital skills, but 58% of charities are still without basic digital skills. It is an interesting report and worth a read. Some highlights:

  • The annual average weekly spend online in 2014 was £718.7 million, an increase of 11.8% when compared with 2013
  • Digitally mature companies are one-third more likely to report an increase in their turnover.
  • Only 13% of organisations are using their website for e-commerce
  • 84% of SMEs or charities communicate online, but only 53% have a website
  • More than three-quarters of all SMEs and charities are not putting any budget into improving their digital skills

Buyer Personas and Content

When talking to clients, there has been a repeating theme this month surrounding content. It is always difficult to know what to say on social media, but fortunately people seem to be moving on from just using it to sell or promote themselves.

I’ve been talking to clients about creating buyer personas for each of their products or services. You should create a personality around each buyer persona and even give them a name – Tracey for example. Think about why Tracey might purchase your product and services and what are the problems and pain that you can solve for Tracey. Then all you need to do is create content aimed at Tracey which solves her problems or pain and distribute it in a way that Tracey will want to consume it.

Sounds easy, but sometimes difficult to do when you are so close to your products and services. Let me know if you need any help with this.

Summary

I hope that you have found something useful in our ‘Hot Topics’ this month – do let me know whether you have any questions or comments. Use the area below or drop me an email or social media update.

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Affiliate Marketing – What is it?

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Affiliate Marketing, What is it?

The idea of acting as an agent and selling somebody else’s products in exchange for sales commission has been around for a long time. Affiliate marketing in its current guise is a fairly recent idea which relies on the technology of the internet in order to track sales and referrals made by an army of business partners that would otherwise be too numerous to account for and track effectively.

What is affiliate marketing?

The idea is quite straight forward. A business joins or creates an affiliate scheme and produces links that can be tracked by them or an affiliate manager to see who has clicked on them and then go on and purchase. Normally, the business will supply a range of marketing images and copy that affiliates can use to promote their products on websites, blogs and newsletters. This is how it works.

Steve (customer) visits the blog written by Mary (affiliate) and clicks on a link to a product on Viv’s website. When Steve clicks on the link on Mary’s blog, a “cookie” (tiny bit of computer code) is set in Steve’s web browser.

affiliate marketing

and he is taken to the product on Viv’s website.

Affiliate Marketing 2

If Steve then makes a purchase, because of the presence of the cookie in his web browser, Viv is notified that she should pay sales commission to Mary.

Affiliate Marketing 3

It is possible to make a lot of money as an affiliate of a number of different programmes and it is a form of marketing used by many big businesses (such as Amazon) very successfully. Once an affiliate scheme reaches a certain size, the business will have to have dedicated departments to manage it or outsource management of the scheme but it is perfectly feasible to manage a small affiliate scheme “in-house” if you have the appropriate software. Most E-commerce software including WordPress with WooCommerce have a range of plugins for running an affiliate scheme. The most popular plugin for WooCommerce is Affiliates Pro.

Spreading the Word

The downside of running an in-house affiliate scheme is the need to spread the word to potential affiliates. There are different ways that you can reach out to people interested in affiliate marketing, social media being one of them, but it is a good idea to list your affiliate scheme in specialist directories and to discuss it with people in certain affiliate forums. Below you can see a List.ly list of affiliate directories and affiliate forums that we have started. Please add to this resource if you know of others.

Concise Training has an affiliate scheme to promote its online social media courses. Please see here if you are interested in becoming an affiliate for Concise Training and making some money by promoting our training courses to others on your website or blog.

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E-Learning Development – 8 Lessons Learned

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E-Learning Development 8 lessons learned

At the end of 2010, Di Dawson and I created the first accredited the first accredited Level 3 qualification in Social Media marketing.  Di had previously created a number of flavours of ITQ user e.g. ITQ for Accessible IT Practice and ITQ Mobile and together we created the ITQ Social Media which was certified separately by City & Guilds.

Our first learners, Lin MacDonald and Karen Chapple joined in January 2011.  We originally used the Moodle Learning Management System both as an e-portfolio system and as a method of learning.  We took the content from the workshops that I was delivering to businesses and created them as text objects within the Moodle. In retrospect this was quite a primitive approach, but a number of learners used the objects, along with individual Skype support and feedback to pass the qualification and go on to create successful businesses managing social media content for others.

During 2012, we felt that we needed to update the resources and this coincided with an approach by Pitman Training Group who wanted to use our learning resources for their learners.

Di and I spent the end of 2012 and beginning of 2013, rewriting all the courses using Articulate Storyline to produce step by step, interactive courses to replace our Moodle learning objects – not an easy task I have to say and a task I definitely underestimated in terms of time!

The new look courses were launched in April 2013 and have been updated in June and December ever since.  The total number of courses has grown as new social media channels have been popular and additional courses were required to support additional qualifications. For example, the latest course is Digital Campaigns, available to learners on our Diploma in Social Media for Business qualification.

So what have we learned in the last couple of years?

1. Plan the object and content in Word or PowerPoint before putting it into the tool.
Sounds obvious, but I have a tendency to want to write the content in a number of layers.  Di then makes it interactive and far more visual!  It is easier for her to do this if the majority of the content is initially written outside the tool.

2. Consider what devices learners are using to access the learning
We redesigned our objects after the first year to allow them to be accessed on a range of mobile tablets.  We had to rethink how we were displaying videos, scroll down bars, and some of the interaction.  We also found differences between Android and iPad so do test on both – a good excuse to purchase more tech!

3. Use plenty of scenarios
We have found that scenarios work really well to illustrate a point and make the learning more business appropriate.  We have a number of characters who appear in all our courses, but the scenarios still work if the courses are done separately,

4. Get somebody else to proofread and check links and then do it again
We check every word and every link of our courses but have learned to now ask somebody else to check again. It is amazing how links that worked for me, just don’t work when somebody else clicks!

5. Create short videos to show technical features – and make sure you use the zoom!
We have learned that it is better to have 2 short videos rather than 1 long one. Not only as it is easier for the viewer, but also because it is easier to update when things change! Zooming is easy to forget when you are creating the video, but makes it much easier for the viewer to see what you are doing.

6. Make the learning personal
We have had great feedback on the e-learning courses partially because we use our own voices throughout the learning alongside photos of us. Learners feel they are being personally taught by me and Di. In fact, I’ve had learners say they feel they know me after they have completed the course.  We feel this makes the learning easier to digest and more engaging and relevant.

7. Use a combination of delivery methods
We try to combine audio, text, video, images, external links, scenarios and exercises in every course as well as interactive buttons, drag and drop functionality or text entry fields. Each screen (where possible) looks different to provide interest and keep the learner engaged.

8. Treat learners as adults and allow them to control their learning
I don’t know about you, but I hate being forced to take a particular path (in anything in life :-)).  I’ve seen many e-learning courses which force you to go from one screen to the next and even read the text on the screen for you.  We believe that our learners are adults and are quite capable of following direction and reading.  Learners can jump around the menu and audio is available on some screens – but to offer additional input, not to do the reading for the learner.  We know this means that it isn’t as accessible as it could be – and a job for the future may be to create fully accessible versions of the learning courses.

We are proud of our courses and I know our learners like them.  Do share your experience of creating or using e-learning?

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April 2015 Social Media Updates

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April 2015 Social Media UpdatesEvery month, I spend 2 to 3 days updating myself about the latest changes in social media.  I use this information when talking to clients, to help update our E-Learning courses and I create a document of updates to send to clients who belong to our social media professionals group. Clients in our social media professionals group also get the chance to talk to me about how the changes affect their business in our bi-monthly webinars.  Let me know if you would like to join our group.

On the first Tuesday of each month, I will now share a selection of the social media updates with my blog visitors.  Don’t forget to subscribe to our blog (on the right) if you would like to get these updates sent to your inbox.

Statistics

Every month, I share statistics that I find interesting.  This month the Mckinsey research paper looked at how telecoms companies handled customer complaints and found that using digital gained higher levels of customer satisfaction.  However, a study by Simply Measured revealed only 30% of brands have a dedicated customer service presence on Twitter and the average response time is 5.1 hours.  As a small business, this gives us an interesting opportunity to make a difference from the big guys.  What do you think?

Facebook

Inactive Accounts

Have you seen your Facebook likes on your fan page reduce recently? This might be because Facebook has removed inactive accounts from page likes.  It will mean that any advertising you target to your fans will be more accurate.

Multi-Product Ads

I like the look of the new multi-product ads that Facebook multi product adsFacebook has introduced to all
advertisers and are now available from the Facebook Power editor. You can create one ad which shows up to 3 products. Viewers can scroll through the products and click on the one they are interested in.

To create a multi-product ad, you need to use the Power Editor and create a campaign and Ad Set. Then create an Ad with the objective of clicks to a website or website conversions. Choose multi-images and create images and links for each of your products. Note the images need to be 600 x 600 pixels in size. Let me know if you need more information.

LinkedIn

What do you think of the LinkedIn new look which has been rolling out over the last couple of months?  I must admit I’m not a big fan, but I guess our natural reaction is to dislike change! The only other main change this month is that the Outlook Connector link with LinkedIn has been discontinued in Outlook 2007 and 2010.

Google+

Big changes are coming to Google+. They have announced that they will be splitting the channel into 3 products – communication (including hangouts), photo and Google+ stream. No date has been announced as yet, but this sounds like a major rewrite – subscribe to our blog to make sure you know what the changes will mean for you.

Google

I’m sure you’ve heard about the changes to Google search results. As from 21st April, Google will be using mobile-friendliness as a search ranking signal. In other words, if your website is not mobile friendly, you may be penalised in mobile search results. The Google announcement states that this change will have a “significant impact” on search results worldwide although it is important to note that this only affects searches from mobile devices; not desktop/PC.

You can check whether any website page is mobile friendly by using Google’s Mobile-Friendly Test

Twitter

It looks like Twitter is getting ready for a change in advertising functionality. The Twitter policies have changed for using conversion tracking and remarketing advertising. If you use the Twitter website tag, you need to ensure you are providing your website users with “legally sufficient notice of the data usage associated with the Twitter Website Tag and instructions about how they can opt out of interest-based advertising.” You can find more here.

Did you hear that there were more than 1.5 million tweets about the UK leaders debate last week? An average of 8,657 tweets a minute. I must admit that I watched the Twitter stream while watching the debate – it added a comical element to the whole thing. Read some of the tweets on the BBC site.

Useful tools

Have you heard about Grammarly?  It is a Chrome add-in that claims to find 10x more mistakes in writing than your Word processor.  It checks status updates as well as blog posts.  I’m using it to write this post and it has found a few additional errors as I type.

I hope you have found this round up useful.  Do let me know in the comments below and, of course, do let us know if you would like to join our social media professionals group. This month our social media professionals group will be receiving a 12 page document of useful updates and our next webinar in May I will give practical personalised advice to all our members.

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Why get an accredited Social Media Qualification?

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Why get an accredited social media qualification

In Kevin Shively’s recent post, for Simply Measured, he talks about how social media is growing up and being taken seriously by companies of all sizes. He refers to the importance of social media being integrated into the digital marketing mix and the importance of metrics to “drive real value from social media, and become an invaluable part of the marketing organization”.

I agree with much of what Kevin says in his article, but he doesn’t address the need to educate and train people in the skills required to take an active and successful role in the industry. Digital marketing and social media in particular requires a combination of IT skills, marketing skills and the skills to research, adapt and innovate.

There are a number of courses available that offer a qualification in social media and digital marketing but they are not all accredited with an awarding body. What should you consider when looking for a course to suit your needs?

Quality of Learning

As Kevin said in his article, the digital and social media industry is still growing so any learning needs to be up to date.  What was true last year, may be the wrong message this year. Any course you take needs to be updated regularly and the awarding body should be ensuring that this takes place. Concise Training’s accredited qualifications – the ITQ Social Media and the Diploma in Social Media for Business are updated every six months (both learning and assessment resources are updated).

Method of Learning

Everybody learns in a different way. You need to be clear whether you like to read, watch videos or a combination of both. Do you want to attend regular face to face training courses, do you prefer to learn in your own time through e-learning or do you like to attend webinars? How interactive would you like any e-learning to be? Are you happy with PowerPoint slides and recorded audio or do you prefer to be able to be an active learner and experience different types of learning styles in one e-learning course? The ITQ Social Media qualification offered by Concise Training is delivered through interactive, multi-media E-Learning courses, the Diploma in Social Media for business is delivered through interactive, multi-media E-Learning courses and webinars.

Accreditation

How is the course accredited? Many courses are called ‘diploma’, but what does that mean? The advantage of an accredited course is that an industry recognised awarding body will have created a set of criteria that the course should meet. There will be quality processes in place to ensure the training provider delivers training and assessment that meets the defined criteria and the assessment is standardised across all training providers delivering the qualification. There is also the benefit to having a course from a recognised awarding body on your CV. All Concise Training qualifications are accredited by City & Guilds. In fact Mary worked with City & Guilds to create the units and criteria for the Diploma.

How are you assessed?

When you learn something new, it is important that you apply your learning. An accredited qualification is likely to require you to evidence that you have understood the learning. In my opinion, social media is a practical subject, not something to be remembered, so practical skills should form the basis of assessment rather than multiple choice or right/ wrong tests. Having taken the assessment, what sort of feedback will you get so that you can improve your learning even further? The ITQ Social Media qualification requires the completion of 20 practical tasks, the Diploma in Social Media for Business requires 11 assignments to be completed which evidence knowledge, application of principles to your situation as well as practical skills. Individual feedback is given on each assignment or task you complete.

Support

What support is available if you don’t understand how to apply something to your situation? Can you call or email somebody to get advice appropriate to your situation? Is there a limit to the amount of support available? The qualifications offered by Concise Training both come with unlimited personalised support.

Level and Progression

At what educational level will the course be delivered and how does that suit your needs? There are accredited digital marketing courses available from level 2 (equivalent to GCSE) all the way up to level 6 (post degree). You need to consider what level you require for your needs. Do you need a practical knowledge of the subject or do you want to learn about applicable theories related to the subject? Is there a clear progression to more advanced qualifications within the training environment? Concise Training offer two qualifications at Level 3 – the ITQ Social Media Certificate is the smaller, more practical qualification, focused on an individual business or an individual’s personal brand, the Diploma in Social Media for Business is focused on applying social media in a range of business environments and touches on marketing theory. In the future Concise Training plan to deliver the level 4 Diploma in Digital Marketing which will offer a deeper and broader view of digital marketing.

What do graduates do after the course?

It is worth finding out, and speaking to, graduates once they have completed the course to find out what they are doing now as a result of the qualification and how they found the course in reality. A number of Concise Training’s graduates have gone on to use digital and social media marketing within their own business or have successfully helped businesses as consultants.

What would you add to this list?  I would be interested to know.

ITQ in Social Media can be started in your own time.  The next cohort of the Diploma in Social Media starts on May 11th.  We have an informational webinar to help you find out more about the course at 10am on April 27th.  Sign up here.

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Why you need to consider using Twitter this year

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Why you need to consider using TwitterSince I started using Twitter in 2009, I have found it both a fascinating and important tool to use. As a small business, why wouldn’t I want to use a tool that allows people to recommend us publicly to lots of people who we don’t know or aren’t doing business with?

Here is a selection of positive tweets about us in the last few days. These individuals have 1,828 followers between them – but then consider if I share each of these kind compliments to my 5,500 followers – these comments quickly create a good brand awareness about @concisetraining.

Twitter recommendations March 15On top of this is the many Twitter shares I have had to a recent blog post about the Nimble CRM. For me, Twitter becomes a bit of a ‘no brainer’ to add to our marketing mix.

However, this year Twitter is going to become even more powerful. When I first started using Twitter in 2009, tweets showed up in Google search – but then Google and Twitter fell out and tweets were no longer welcome! However, Google and Twitter have become friends again and “in the first half of this year” tweets will appear in Google search results according to Bloomberg.

So if you are looking for somewhere to eat – or a Twitter course – on Google, real time relevant tweets will appear. How powerful could that be? It will, of course, be even more important that you engage with your customers and keep the conversation positive!

Will it change your use of Twitter? Let me know in the comments below and do say ‘Hi’ on Twitter at @concisetraining.

Want to know more? Take our Twitter E-Learning course to learn how to make the best use of the channel.

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Nimble – A Very Social CRM System

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Nimble - A Very Social CRM

Recently we have talked about our adoption of the Nimble CRM system and it is proving to be a great help to us. In this blog post we are going to look at Nimble and what it does.

Nimble Banner

Nimble is a customer relationship management (CRM) system which links up nicely with social media. It is a database of your contacts with the ability to see communication that has passed back and forth between you by email and social media. It gives a complete “single customer view” including what customers are saying on their social media.

Each individual record allows you to see information about the person and if linked to their social media profiles, what they have said on social media.

Here is an example of an individual’s record:

Nimble Record

At the top, next to the individual’s picture (which is uploaded by you or pulled through from the social media profile), you can see basic contact details and some simple facts about the person. In the above picture we have clicked on the “social tab” half way down which shows the social profiles that the individual has.

By then clicking on “streams” we can see what this person has been saying on social media profiles:

Nimble Social Tab

Here you can view any of the posts made via connected profiles individually or all together. This is very useful to get a quick overview of what has been said. It gets better! From here you can post directly to your own social profiles by using the icons that appear to the right of each post:

Nimble interactions

You can, for example, reply, retweet or favourite any Twitter post from within Nimble, you can even schedule your posts for the future:

Nimble scheduled post

On the right hand side of the individual’s record is the status box:

Nimble Status Box

This is a quick summary which shows the lead type and status that you have assigned to the individual. These are user defined and can be anything you want. For example, you could use the status “current customer” or “prospect”.

One of the most useful bits of information here is the last contact made with the individual. This is contact made via social media and/or email or telephone (if this is logged) by any of your team.

Nimble also allows you to “tag” contacts:

Nimble tags

This feature can be used to view lists of people that have the same tags on their records. There are a few ways to access this but the easiest is to click on the tag in somebody’s record.

Nimble has many features that are extremely useful when you need to share information on your contacts with a team of people. Because it is a web based application, it doesn’t matter where those people are and there are even mobile apps which allow you to use Nimble on the move.

This short introduction to the Nimble CRM platform has only covered some of the basics of this powerful tool. Next time we will delve a little deeper and look into some of the more advanced features and how you can use them.

In the meantime, we would love to hear from you if you have used a social CRM system. Has it helped you manage your contacts and provide a better service to your customers? What features do you make the most use of?

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Does your business use Social Bookmarking?

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Does your business use social bookmarking

Every so often things come together which make me adjust how we are doing things:

  • I am in the process of writing a new E-Learning course about social bookmarking which forms part of our delivery of the Diploma in Social Media for Business City & Guilds qualification.
  • I have also be thinking about how we can be better at sharing interesting information with the people who are doing our courses – providing better customer support.
  • Yesterday I went to a networking  event at which E3D-Online were speaking – and they mentioned how they use Reddit as a method of promotion.

What is Social Bookmarking?

The idea of social bookmarking is that you use it as a way of storing links to sites that you find useful or your audience would find useful.  It is a public way of storing links so people you don’t know may also find your link.  Within the bookmarking site, you can include your own sites, but you should also include other links.  The same principle applies for social bookmarking as other forms of social media – ‘if you bookmark me, I’m more likely to bookmark you’.  It is important to include buttons on your website to help people to bookmark links.  I’ve just included the AddtoAny sharing buttons on my site to make it easy for people to share my posts.

There are hundreds of social bookmarking tools available – and the one that will be right for you will depend on why you are using the tool and where your audience is likely to be. This is a quick run down on the most common tools:

Delicious – this is probably one of the easiest to use.  Delicious stores links with tags. Tags are a way of identifying what the link is about.  For example,  I could submit this post to Delicious with the tags socialbookmarking, socialmedia, delicious, stumpleupon, etc.  I (and others) would be then able to search for links about socialbookmarking and this post would appear in the list.  Since you can choose to sort  by bookmarks that you have saved, Delicious is a good way of keeping track of interesting information you find. Particularly because it automatically saves links you have shared on Twitter.  Delicious will also show you other links based on their popularity (how many people have bookmarked the link)

Digg – Links are submitted to Digg and volunteers and people who use Digg vote on the link (Digg it).  The more votes a link receives, the more likely it is to appear on the first page of Digg.  If a link appears on the first page, it could be seen and clicked by thousands of people.  People who are active on Digg are more likely to get their own submissions seen.  It is not a good idea to frequently submit your own links; get other people to submit them on your behalf.

StumbleUpon – The difference with StumbleUpon is that it allows you to find interesting or unusual website pages based on your interests.  You vote on the pages and StumbleUpon shows you further website pages based on your votes.  Pages that receive the most votes are likely to be seen by more people within StumbleUpon. It is free to use, but there is also an advertising option which will put your website in front of more people.  I’ve had an short experiment with advertising and it definitely drove traffic to my website.  If I was to use advertising again, I would create an engaging landing page to encourage people to stay longer.  However, it currently only allows location targeting within the United States.

Scoopit – Scoopit is the tool that I currently use the most to store interesting links.  You can create topics and store links relevant to that topic.  For example, I have created a ‘copyright free images’ topic where I store any websites that are useful for finding copyright free images for blog posts etc.  Scoopit suggests content that could be added to a topic based on keywords and popular links.  The main issue with Scoopit is that you can now only create 1 topic for free.

Reddit – this is a social bookmarking site that adds additional forum functionality including an ‘ask me anything’ forum and a question forum.  Tags are used to group discussions or links together.  Discussions and links are voted up or down the list.  This tool could be a good one to promote your brand if you get involved and answer questions (without selling) as well as posting links.

Pinterest – An image based social bookmarking tool, mainly directed at lifestyle.  Images need to be high quality and aspirational to get people’s attention.  Can also be used to share images to blogs or other content.  Also has an advertising feature.  Works well when people repin images that you have pinned to your boards.

So how is this adjusting the way Concise Training are doing things?  Well, we are putting a process in place to ensure that when we find interesting content to share on social media we also share it on a social bookmarking tool so that it is available to others and is available for longer than just the short time on social media (to us and others).  The trick will be to make sure that we tag the information appropriately so that it is easy to find links again and that we automate the process as much as possible.  We will let you know how we get on.

If you have found this article interesting, do use the buttons on the right to share on social media but also on social bookmarking sites 🙂

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5 Reasons to Blog for Business

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5 Reasons to Blog for BusinessAs many of you know, I truly believe that there are two sides to social media marketing – relationship marketing and content marketing.  Some businesses will choose to do both, others will choose one or the other and they are not mutually exclusive by any means.

What is Relationship Marketing?

Relationship marketing is when you as an individual within a business form and deepen business relationships with other individuals.  Whether you use Twitter, LinkedIn, Facebook or Google+, relationship marketing is all about identifying customers, prospects, influencers and getting to know them better – and allowing them to get to know you better. This is like an online extension of face to face networking.  At the end of the day – as we all know – people buy people.  Relationship marketing takes work just like any other marketing and is highly targeted.

What is Content Marketing?

Content marketing is when you create lots of added value content and distribute it using social media channels.  You should create content that is targeted at your prospects and solves their pain or need.  Content should be helpful – give away some of your knowledge, regular, high quality and consistent.  I have heard a suggestion that you should produce content for 3 months without ever mentioning your product or service to make it really valuable!  Whether you take this view or not, I believe you need to tell people to engage with or do something as a result of the content.  We have found that by creating useful content, and asking people to engage, we have then moved into relationship marketing with some of our audience.  It is important though to understand the purpose of the content that you are creating – what will be the end game and how will you move people through the sales funnel?

What About Blogs?

Yes, this post is titled ‘Blog for Business’  but of course blogging is a type of content. Five reasons, I believe it is important for a business to consider blogging:

1. By creating regular, added value posts, you can build credibility of the business – be seen as somebody who understands what they are talking about.

2. To help the search engine optimisation of the website.  If your post is distributed and shared on social media, search engines will get a better idea of what the website is about and the quality of the site.

3. If the blog is hosted on the website, a blog will help to drive traffic to the website. Include links to other parts of your website or have a prominently displayed newsletter sign up form to encourage people to continue to engage.  Include a call to action on the post to tell people what to do next.

4. Blog posts are life long content.  Search engines will index the post and continue to display it in results.  I still get a high number of visits to a post that I wrote 2 years ago. You can also continue to share relevant blog posts on social media for months after the post was written.

5. You can reuse the content.  I’ve now written 5 reasons to write blog posts.  I can share each of those reasons separately across social media channels, I will include a link to this post in my next newsletter and I could create a visual version of this post and create a SlideShare presentation out of it.  All ways of getting my brand and message out there.

So what do you think?  Are you going to put more effort into your blog posts?  If you need help getting started with blogging, check out our Business Blogging E-Learning course. You might also be interested in a post I wrote a while ago about creating a blogging schedule and of course I’d be delighted to engage with you further on social media, in the comments below or through my newsletter (the sign up form is on the right)!

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LinkedIn Company Page Notifications

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LinkedIn Company Page Notifications

Today (13th Feb 2015)  we’ve noticed a few feature on some of the LinkedIn company pages we manage for clients.  Notifications.  I haven’t yet seen this in an announcement from LinkedIn but it seems to be really useful.

I first noticed it when I saw a LinkedIn notification on my personal profile telling me that the company page had a new notification.  Looking into this further, the company page has an additional tab – Notifications.

LinkedIn Company Page optionsThis shows me the social actions on the page – Likes, Comments, Shares, Mentions today and for the week or the month.

LinkedIn Company Page NotificationsI can also see who shared, liked or commented by changing the drop down on the right hand side.LinkedIn company page notification types

This is really valuable data to see for a page and helps to show more clearly which updates are getting the most engagement.  I’m looking forward to seeing this rolled out to all company pages.

What do you think?  Can you see your company page notifications yet?

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Are you using LinkedIn search?

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Are you using LinkedIn search

How do you find new information about prospects that you want to contact? Do you spend time on websites and the telephone trying to find the right person to talk to?  Do you know that LinkedIn is a rich database of contacts who may already be in your network?

If you build up a good quality 1st level set of connections (1st level means people you are directly connected to), you can use your 1st level connections to introduce you to their connections – if you know the company, industry sector or keywords that you want to work with.

By the way, this is available to everybody with a free version of LinkedIn. I’m not a premium member and personally have no need to upgrade – and I do get a significant amount of business from LinkedIn.

At the top of LinkedIn, there is a search bar.  Using the drop down menu on the left hand side, you can search by ‘All’, ‘People’, ‘Companies’ etc.

LinkedIn Search

Search for somebody in a known company

Enter a name of a company you would like to work with into the search box and press the search button on the right or select the company name from the drop down list provided.

LinkedIn search a company

When you select the company, the company page will be displayed.  There is a See All hyperlink on the right underneath the pictures.

LinkedIn company profile

Click See All and a list of everybody in the company who is on LinkedIn will be displayed.  This is sorted by people who are closest to you in terms of 1st connection, 2nd connection etc.  In big companies this can be a long list so to filter by job title or function, use the Advanced button in the top left.

LinkedIn Advanced search

You can enter additional information including keywords, location etc. to find the list of people who more closely fulfil your requirements.

Now we get to the clever bit.

If you find the person you want to connect with is a 2nd level connection, you will see a green X shared connection under their name.  By clicking on the X shared connection, you will be able to see which of your 1st level connections is connected to the person you want to talk to.

If you have a good quality set of 1st level connections, you can contact the 1st level connection to set up an introduction.  I would pick up the phone – but you could send an email or even a LinkedIn message to find out how good their relationship is with the person you want to talk to and whether an introduction would be appropriate.  Alternatively you could send a connection request to the 2nd level connection referencing your shared connection.

Search for companies or people by keywords

Enter your keywords into the search box as before and press the magnifying glass to search.

Then use the filters on the left of the page to filter by location – you can either choose United Kingdom or if you click Add and enter the city you want to search.

Remember anybody who has any of your keywords anywhere in their profile will be listed – you may need to use quotes ”  ” if you want an exact match on the phrase.

I use this option to find suppliers who are in my network – looking at our shared connections I can contact people I know to get personnel recommendations.

How do you use LinkedIn search – do share in the comments below.  If you would like to know more about LinkedIn, have a look at our LinkedIn E-Learning course.

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Content Marketing – why should you be doing it?

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Content Marketing - WhyContent marketing is becoming increasingly important as a way of engaging with your audience. What do I mean by content marketing?

In my opinion, updates that you share on your social media channels should be approximately 40% original content, 40% shared content and 20% engagement.  These are rough figures that will vary by business type, but it is a good place to start.

Original content is content that the business creates to share with its audience. By original content, I don’t mean content that tries to sell or even content that talks about how wonderful the business is, but content that gives added value to your audience. This added value might be because it solves a problem, makes them laugh, think or say Wow! Try to think creativity about your content – look at how Oreo does it.

Content could be:

  • Textual – blog posts, LinkedIn posts or status updates, newsletters, e-books or articles
  • Visual – images, videos, SlideShare presentations, Infographics, cartoons, memes
  • Interactive – polls, quizzes, short E-Learning modules
  • Any combination of the above

A survey of 1,000 UK social media users by Axonn found that “77% of users follow at least one brand on social media, but more than half have unfollowed a brand for posting boring or overly salesy content.”

Any content that you create needs to be high quality – written well, targeted to the audience with high quality, relevant images.

According to the survey, “interesting content is one of the top three reasons people follow brands on social media.  Spelling and grammar matters to 48% of those surveyed. 67% prefer to buy from a brand they follow on social media.”

The idea of producing added value content is to develop an audience who follow your content and share it with others. You first build an audience and once you have the audience, you can take them to the next stage. Yes, you are going to want to sell eventually otherwise you will go out of business, but you should sell on the back of the great content you are creating not as the first thing you do on social media.

Great content will also help with your search engine rankings.  If you have great relevant content on your website that others are sharing, search engines will be able to understand what your website is about and realise that it should be highly ranked because it is getting traffic and being shared.

So how to produce the content?  Some thoughts:

  • Allocate marketing time / budget to content creation
  • Make sure you understand the tone and voice of the business
  • Encourage all members of the business to be involved
  • Use an editor to optimise content and check it to make sure it represents the right tone and voice of the business
  • Think about your ideal client and what is their pain / interest?  Imagine you are producing the content directly for that client
  • Create a content plan so your content can be regular and consistent.
  • Distribute content across your social media channels and ask your audience to engage – then keep the conversation going.

What do you think?  What content has worked for you?  Let me know if you would like more information about our content management service or Training courses.

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Twitter Mobile App – Privacy

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Twitter Mobile App - Privacy Settings

I generally use the HootSuite app to manage my Twitter account, but sometimes is is useful to use the Twitter app directly.  If you do use (or have installed) the mobile app, you need to be aware that Twitter is rolling out an update to check what other apps you have installed on your SmartPhone or tablet so Twitter can see how you use your device.

The update is designed to target you with suggested content and advertising which is more personal.  The data that Twitter will collect is limited to the names of the apps you’ve installed, it said on its Support page. Other information, such as what you share or how often you use the apps, won’t be collected. Twitter says that this data will help the company improve a few features, including the “who to follow” suggestions that it bases on your interests.

When is this happening?

There is no fixed date when the ‘app graph’ (as it is called) is being rolled out.  When you have it, you will be notified by a prompt stating “to help tailor your experience, Twitter uses the apps on your device”.

Twitter App Graph Prompt

I  don’t want Twitter to see my apps

1. You can opt out of Interest-based ads across your device:

On an iOS device tap Settings > Privacy > Advertisin> Opt out of Interest-based ads

On an Android device, tap Settings > Accounts > Google > Ads > Opt out of Interest based advertising

If you have already set these, Twitter will not collect information about your apps unless you change that setting.

2. However if you have not already opted out and accidentally close the above message without tapping ‘review settings’ (we’ve all been there), but still want to turn the app graph off (or make sure it is off), follow these steps:

Twitter for Android:

  1. Tap the overflow icon
  2. Tap Settings.
  3. Tap the account you’d like to adjust.
  4. Under Other, you can adjust the setting for Tailor Twitter based on my apps.

 Using Twitter for iOS:

  1. From the Me tab, tap the gear icon
  2. Tap Settings.
  3. Tap the account you’d like to adjust.
  4. Under Privacy, you can adjust the setting to Tailor Twitter based on my apps (there is an issue with this not displaying correcting.  Twitter states you need to contact privacy@twitter.com if you are having problems).

How about other applications?

Twitter is being quite open and visible about the fact that they are doing this.  Other applications also look at how you are using your mobile device – they are just more sneaky about it.  What do you think about this? Do share in the comments.

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Facebook Newsfeed Preferences, Save and Search

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Facebook improves personal profile functionalityOver the last couple of months, Facebook has made a few changes to make it easier to use from a personal profile.  In this post we will look at Newsfeed preferences, searching, and saving posts and pages to view later.

Facebook Newsfeed Preferences

News Feed preferences is available from the drop down on the top right of the page.News Feed Drop Down

It will show a list of the top people, Pages and Groups that you have seen in your Newsfeed over the past week.

newsfeed preferences

 

You can choose to sort by people, pages or group posts or see an overall summary.  You can use this to choose to unfollow (but still remain friends with) people who talk more than others.  This also makes it easy to unfollow pages who are selling too much – or not adding value.

Updates to Search

Facebook Graph Search is only available to people using US Choose US EnglishEnglish on their Facebook page.  To change to US English, scroll down on your Home page to underneath the Ads.  Click UK English and select US English.

Once you choose US English, you can  search by the Interests or ‘Likes’ your friends have indicated.  For example searching ‘Restaurants my friends like’ brings up posts, people or pages with Restaurants that have been visited, ‘liked’ or talked about by my friends.

Graph Search

It is now possible to also search past posts.  If you remember seeing something but can’t remember the details, you can use Facebook search to find the posts. Search is available on mobile and results are personalised. You will only be able to see things that have been shared with you. Remember search is are only available if you use US English.

Save

You can save pages and posts that contain links or photos that you have seen to view later.  You can only save as a person not as a page.

To Save a Page, click on the three dots in the Cover Photo and select Save.

Save a Facebook Page

To save a Post with links, photos (with links), video or events, click on the arrow on the right side and Save.

Save a Post

To view the things you have saved, click Saved on the left hand side of your home page.  Only you will see the things you have saved.

View Saved Posts

I would like to know what you think – are you going to make use of these options to make your personal use of Facebook better?  If you are considering using Facebook for Business, you might want to have a look at our Facebook E-Learning course.

 

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January 2015 – Facebook Changes

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Facebook Jan 15 ChangesFrom January, Facebook will be severely restricting overly promotional posts in the News Feed. In their words, “Pages that post promotional content should expect their organic distribution to fall significantly over time.”

Facebook identifies three specific types of content that users have disliked:

  • Content that only exists to get people to install an app or buy a product
  • Content that wants people to enter contests or promotions without context
  • Posts that reuse ad content

Here are examples from Facebook of Page posts that they will be cracking down on:

Facebook example of posts to be filteredWhat does this mean for you?

The changes will affect businesses using Facebook Pages as a promotional tool to sell products or drive app downloads. Your contests, campaigns etc are unlikely to be seen organically by your audience. However if you’ve invested time and resources into building a Facebook Page audience it is still worth using the channel. Three things to focus on to get the most out of your Facebook presence:

  • Post consistently and regularly
  • Target your posts to a particular audience (gender, interests, location, age) using the targeting options on a post
  • Connect with words and pictures – use short descriptive phrases and high quality lifestyle images. Avoid sales messaging such as ‘buy now’ and ‘shop now’
  • Create interesting posts which add value

Facebook says that businesses should be thinking of Pages as “a cornerstone of their online identity, not simply as a publishing service.” In other words, yes publishing is part of Facebook, but it’s only one of many parts. As you decrease the promotional messaging on your page, you can still find value in it as a customer service tool or as an informational service. In fact, according to an Accent Marketing report, one third of consumers have used Facebook as a customer service channel.  Read why CopyBlogger have decided to move away from Facebook.

You should also consider whether it is time to explore the use of Facebook ads to distribute your “added value content” to a wider but highly targeted audience.  It may also be time to see whether Google+ is worth another look?

By the way, as a user if you keep seeing ads in your news feed from companiesRemove Ad from Facebook that don’t interest you, if you click on the drop down in the top right of the post, you can choose to hide all ads from the company and even tell Facebook why you want to hide the ad.

The whole idea of the change is to make your news feed more relevant to you. What do you think?  Let us know in the comments below.

If you want to find out more about using Facebook for Business, have a look at our updated Facebook for Business E-Learning Course.

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Why should you share your content?

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Why share contentWhy share your content with others?

The simple fact is people no longer pay attention to much traditional advertising. There is so much of it about that we have learned to ignore it. Traditional advertising on its own may no longer provide a good return on investment.

What works is building trust with your audience; Building relationships with your customers and potential customers. People want to deal with people – even if this is online.

This is where regularly sharing high quality content works well. Content marketing should be aiming to build relationships not to directly sell your product (at least not all the time). Think of it as educating others so that they know, like, and trust you enough to do business with you. It is selling without selling.

Use it for building brand trust and awareness and to become a recognised expert in your field. This is done by sharing your expertise with others for free.

What should I share?content

Ask yourself “What would be of value to my customers?”, “What kind of questions do they ask?”, “What information can I provide that is useful to them?”

The idea is to make your content useful, attractive (use graphics) and quality is key.

Where should I share it?

You want to make your content as widely shared as possible but use the right channels for your audience and concentrate on using a few channels well rather than everything not so well.

Can I just distribute it?

Unfortunately not! You want to use your high quality, informative content to start the relationship with your audience.  Get their interest and then engage with them to find out more about their needs and to let them build trust in you.

The downside of content marketing is that it does take some time. It shouldcontent-marketing be carried out by somebody who not only has the time to create high quality content and to share that content but also somebody who understands how your business works. Many businesses find that they end up outsourcing their content marketing and this can be a very cost effective decision provided that you select the right partner. I published an article on LinkedIn recently about this and I would urge you to read this before you make any decisions.

Concise Training provides an open and honest content marketing service.  You can find out more about the options we offer here.

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Find Copyright free for images on Social Media

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I had a conversation with a customer the other day who said that she had attended a WordPress workshop (before she knew about my courses) during which she was told that she could use any image from the internet on her website.  It astonished me – and annoyed me that this is still being taught by ‘professionals’. It is important to use copyright free images on social media and websites.

Find Copyright imagesImages are copyright protected and unless the image creator has loosened the copyright restrictions, you cannot just find an image on Google, right click and save as and use the image in your social media updates or on your website. You could end up with a large bill.

If you are using images for your website, I would suggest you purchase images from iStock or Shutterstock but this can get expensive for social media updates. Don’t despair though, there are a range of copyright free options available and a range of tools to help you create images. Here are some of my current favoUnsplash - Laptop or Mobileurites:

Unsplash – a source of some amazing photos and if you subscribe, they send you 10 free photos each week.  The image on the right is from Unsplash.

 

 

Freeimages – use this tool to search for images e.g. ‘man sitting’.  The Premium istock images will display at the top and then a selection of free images will display after. Just click through on an image to check the copyright restrictions – some ask for the creator to be informed when you use the image.  If it is all OK, you can download the image and use in your blog posts or social media updates.

Canva – is a fantastic free to use tool to help you create images or alter images.  ForMobile or Laptop example, you can choose to create a Facebook post, which will create a blank canvas of the right size. Upload an image (say from unsplash) or choose one of the images provided by Canva.  Then add text or logos to the image to make it your own.  You can quickly create unique images with the right dimensions to share as a Facebook post (or Twitter, etc).  I added the text and logo to the image on right in less than 2 minutes. Canva has free options or paid options ($1 for each paid element).

Gimp – is a free image creation tool which allows you to enhance photos, create images with layers and retouch images.  There are a number of tutorials on YouTube to help you learn how to use the tool.

You can find other options for copyright free images on my Scoopit – where I store any links I find useful. You may also be interested in our Images for Business E-Learning course in which we tell you what you should think about from a design perspective when creating an image as well as show you how to use some of the popular image editing tools.

Do share your favourite sources for images – or free image creation tools in the comments below.

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Sending group messages on LinkedIn

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LinkedIn seems to have changed recently in the way that you can send messages to a group of contacts.  6/11/14 – it has changed back 🙂

There is a very useful facility within the Connections tab of LinkedIn that allows LinkedIn Connections Tab you to group contacts together and message up to 50 individuals within the group.  Used carefully, this can be a really good way of sending relevant messages.

To do this use the filter option to see contacts by location or company or filter by a tag.LinkedIn Filter options You can assign a contact to one or more tags by clicking on Tag under the contact name.

LinkedIn Tag Contact

A contact can be in more than one tag and you can create tags of your own. Tags are kept private.

If you then filter by tag, you can see all contacts you have tagged as ‘Prospects’ for example. You can then send them all a message by clicking Message at the top.

Sounds good? Be warned, LinkedIn have changed the way messages are displayed to recipients. You used to be able to select an option to not show email addresses to other recipients which effectively sent a blind copy.  Now it shows the names of each of the recipients as shown in the image.Tweet this

Update 6/11/14 – the facility has changed again so now you can select the option to blind copy!

LinkedIn Send MessageClearly this significantly changes how you can use the messaging option – so do be careful!  Let me know your thoughts in the comments below.

If you would like to know more about using LinkedIn to develop your business, why not have a look at our LinkedIn E-Learning course.

 

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Have you used Google Cast?

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I do quite a bit of bespoke social media and Microsoft Office training for clients – I go to their site and plug into their equipment.  I do have my own projector and screen but many clients like me to use their TV to project my screen.

This works fine – but does entail lots of wires and issues with plugs – I also end up at the front next to the TV and learners can’t show their own screens to others if there is a particular issue.

Google Cast

Image from Amazon

I was with a client the other day who had bought Google Cast. This is a device that allows anybody to project to the TV screen from a Google browser using the client WiFI.

I just needed to download the Google cast app to my browser and I could project any browser tab or my whole desktop.  It wasn’t without problems – the option to project my desktop took a while to display – but once it worked it was excellent. Rather than be up at the front, I could work with the client team around the table.  It was also fantastic that individual learners could project their screens to discuss a particular problem and then with a press of the button, I could return to projecting my screen.  Although we didn’t try it, I believe you can also ‘cast’ or project your Android tablet or SmartPhone.

The device costs £25 from Amazon – well worth investigating as an alternative for projection – use any money you save buying the largest screen you can afford.  Apparently it also works well to watch TV tool!

What do you think?  Have you used Google Cast?  Do you use any other methods of projection in training rooms that you would like to share.

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Representing yourself or a business on Twitter?

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Way back in 2011, I wrote a post about selecting a Twitter username.   In the post I talked about using ConciseTraining as my username, but use a photo of me, Mary to ensure I show some personality in the account.  During the post, I did mention that I might have to rethink this if the company was to grow.

Well, I am now at that stage and I thought it would be useful to share my thoughts with you as I know many of my peers have also grown and developed their sole trader companies.

During the past year, I have taken on two fantastic part time employees who are not only responsible for managing social media content for others but also contribute to the Concise Training marketing (online and offline).  I am often out training clients or developing new courses so I’m not always around to manage my own social media accounts so Steve and Viv have been making sure that my accounts are still developing engagement,  offering added value content and showing best practice.

This has been fine for the Concise Training Facebook and Google+ pages, however, I have become increasingly aware that despite my picture showing on the Twitter account, it is not always me who is tweeting.  This is particularly difficult when people who know me well talk to me using the account.  I was having a personal issue with integrity.

So, what to do?  I’ve decided to create a new Twitter account called MaryAtConcise which I will use on a more adhoc and personal basis.   The Concise Training account will be used to share added value content, promote others and develop relationships between clients and all aspects of the business.  The profile photo and name will reflect this. Concise Training is becoming more than just me and it is about time this was reflected on Twitter.  The fear is that it will too much to manage but we will see…..

I would love to know your thoughts.  Do please keep talking to the team managing @concisetraining and me @MaryAtConcise.

By the way, I’ll be talking about this further at the monthly Concise Training Google hangout.  Join in here or watch here.

 

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Did you know Twitter displayed analytics?

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If you have a Twitter Ads account, you can get some interesting data on your organic tweets (even those you are not using for promotion).

If you don’t have a Twitter Ads account, you can sign up for one at https://analytics.twitter.com – submit your payment information.  Set up a promoted campaign in the future and cancel it once you have access to analytics.

Sign in to your Twitter Ads account and click Analytics (along the top menu bar). Looking at the information available:

Tweet activity
This displays the number of views (anytime a user sees your Tweet) over the last 28 days (compared to the previous period).

Twitter Activity

Twitter engagement statsOn the right you can view the engagement rate in terms of retweets, link clicks, favourites and replies on each day for the last 28 days. You can use this to identify which days showed the best performance so you can replicate the success.

You can also see detailed statistics for individual tweets to see which to reschedule.  To see more information you can download a CSV file to see tweets for the past few months.

 

 

Followers
This dashboard gives information about follower increases, gender and location as well as topics your followers find most interesting.

Twitter followers

 

What do you think of the Twitter analytics?  Do you think you will add them to your suite of measurement tools?

 

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Different ways to use Google+ Hangouts

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Have you used Google+ Hangouts yet?  They are a unique feature of Google+ that allow you to either have up to 9 other people in a private webinar or allow you to livestream webinars to YouTube to allow anybody to listen to the webinar and ask questions via text.

Aside from the obvious way of using Google+ hangouts to have team or group webinars, as an alternative to Skype, brands have used hangouts on air in some really creative ways.

Cadbury UK have used hangouts and hangouts on air for chocolate tasting hangouts, cooking demonstrations and interviews with famous sports stars to help drive engagement on their Google+ page.

Earlier this year, Manchester United offered the chance for 20 fans to appear on the pitch side boards at the Manchester United vs Liverpool football match via a Google hangout. You can see the original post here which has 1089 public shares.

Top Man held a shoppable Google hangout in January this year. During the hangout consumers were able to watch as the hosts took them behind the scenes of the catwalk show as they interviewed celebrities and models. They were also able to watch a live stream of the Topman Design Show. and could shop the looks of the hosts direct from the hangout. (85% of unique viewers clicked from the Shoppable Hangout to engage with products).

These are all big brands running hangouts, but small businesses can use hangouts successfully too.  Concise Training will be running a regular hangout on air at 2pm on the first working Monday of each month.  It would be great if you can join us.  The first one on 1st September will discuss the pros and cons of choosing a Twitter username. Register for the hangout here and you can watch it here.

I would love to hear about your experiences with Google hangouts in the comments below.

 

 

 

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Simplifying Social Media With Spreadsheets – Part 4 – Using IFTTT

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Last week we looked at some of the social media spreadsheet add-ons that are available. Continuing our spreadsheets for social media theme, today we are going to look at one of my favourite tools – IFTTT – it stands for “If This Then That”.

This powerful service allows you to link web channels (web applications) to each other via a “trigger” and “action”. The combination of channels, trigger, rules and actions is known as a recipe and once you join IFTTT for free you have access to many recipes that are created for you already or you can create your own.

The basic premise is that if a trigger “fires” on one web application, then an “action” will be carried out on another web application. The possibilities for this tool are practically endless but here I will show you one of the ways that I use this tool for social media purposes.

Feedly to Google Sheets 

Feedly logoGoogle Drive LogoFeedly is a service that allows you to organise all your RSS feeds from blogs and websites into categories in your Feedly account. When a new story appears you can mark it with tags that you have created.

 

I use an IFTTT recipe to put details of the articles that I tag in Feedly into a google spreadsheet which then makes it easier to schedule this content for sharing via Hootsuite.

I have created tags in Feedly for content that I think is suitable for sharing on Facebook, Twitter and Google Plus and I have created IFTTT recipes for each of these:

  • Recipe 1, If article in Feedly is tagged “Facebook” then put its details into a Google Sheet called “Facebook – content”
  • Recipe 2, If article in Feedly is tagged “Twitter” then put its details into a Google Sheet called “Twitter – content”
  • Recipe 3, If article in Feedly is tagged “Google Plus” then put its details into a Google Sheet called “Google Plus – content”

To do this you will need a Feedly account, a Google Account and an IFTTT account. There are free versions of each account – just enter your details to create yours.

How to replicate this recipe:

 

Step 1) Create accounts for Feedly, Google and IFTTT if you haven’t already got them. Create your tags in Feedly before going any further.

Step 2) Log in to your IFTTT account

Step 3) Click “Create Recipe”

IFTTT Login Screen

 

 

 

Step 4) Click “this” to choose your trigger channel

IFTTT This screen

 

 

 

 

You will be presented with a choice of channels (you are looking for Feedly). The first time you use a channel you will be prompted to activate it by entering the login details for that account and authorising the connection.

IFTTT channels select

 

 

 

 

 

Step 5) You are then presented with a list of the available triggers for that channel. For this recipe choose “new article tagged”.

IFTTT feedly trigger

 

 

 

 

 

Step 6) You then need to choose the relevant tag from the drop down menu. These are pulled though from the ones you have created in Feedly.

Step 7) Click on “That” to choose your action channel – you are looking for Google Drive. Again you will have to activate the channel by entering your login details if you have not previously done this. In the screen below you can see I have chosen a tag “CT”.

IFTTT that screen

 

 

 

Step 8) Choose your action – for this recipe it is “add row to spreadsheet”

IFTTT Drive Action

 

 

 

 

 

Step 9) On the next screen, name the spreadsheet in the top box but leave all the other boxes with their default values and click “Create Action”.

Step 10) Activate the recipe and you are taken to a list of your recipes where you can test that it is working correctly, turn it on and off etc.

That is it! Once your recipe is active, any new article that is tagged in Feedly with the tag that you specified has its details automatically added to a Google Spreadsheet on your Google Drive – links, heading, details, source are all recorded! You can then adapt this spreadsheet for scheduling the articles in your chosen social media management tool!

IFTTT is a straightforward way to link web applications together to automate tasks that would otherwise take you a long time to complete. It is a fantastic service which is easy to customise, even for non “techy” people so get going and have fun creating your recipes!

Let us know in the comments section whether you have tried this, whether you already use IFTTT and what for? If you have any questions, ask them here too!

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