Archives for category: Social Media

I recently took part in a social media training workshop, not because I’m unfamiliar with some of the platforms and how to utilise them but because I really wanted to find out more about the benefits.

I’m also inquisitive and I like to know how things work.

It was hugely informative, helpful and actually….fun. I didn’t think…”Oh, I’m too old to learn this stuff” or “why do I need to learn this?” I’m just not that type of person.

I also see on a daily basis how using social media as an extension of your marketing activity can be beneficial and fruitful.
That’s not to say I wasn’t a little apprehensive about my capabilities. My normal approach would be to read a “How to….” set of instructions first before actually getting down to practice. This for several reasons:

A) I am probably using delaying/avoidance tactics
B) I am actually a little nervous about whether I can get the hang of it and need to read and then read some more
C) Fear of the unknown

A discussion with some friends following this (both male and female, similar in age range) about the subject, offered some interesting insights with some admitting that they thought that social media “is for kids”. Yes, they use Twitter and Facebook on a personal level to connect with friends and to follow interesting people but when it comes to utilising social media as a marketing strategy, they just “couldn’t be see the benefits” or “didn’t see the need at their age” or the familiar…”I just haven’t got time”. Does this resonate with you?

Come on, be honest. Does using social media as a marketing tool scare you?

If you own a business, the way you market that business has changed. There are new tools to help you gain additional marketing exposure. You may be a little apprehensive but essentially it’s about people and marketing to them, and applying those new tools.

Social media is designed to be fairly simple to use, it just takes time and willingness to learn. Learning and growing is a fundamental part of life. Social media is no different.

And let’s face it, we live in extraordinary times of technological advancement. Technology helps us progress and it’s not going to disappear. You either have to embrace it or wait until you notice the impact on your business from burying your head in the sand. If you don’t have a presence you can be sure your competitors do and they are the ones potentially engaging with your clients.

Some of the benefits of engaging social media:

  • Promote your Brand, your philosophy and values
  • Engage with clients and potential clients
  • Provide brilliant customer service
  • Create social signals that will also help your website climb the search engine rankings
  • Make sure you have a presence
  • Give your brand a voice
  • Stay competitive

But it’s also a great opportunity to connect with interesting new people and gain new experiences.

Social media isn’t just for young people. Social media is for everybody.

So if you are just a little bit scared……..well, feel the fear and do it anyway! And if you need a little hand holding, we completely understand.

Debbie Lewis is a Customer Support Executive at Happy Creative, a full service marketing and creative agency based in Blackpool, Lancashire. To learn more or contact us please go to www.happy-creative.co.uk

With the annual showpiece event of the European football calendar upon us, and a very welcome German invasion into our capital, the regular football season is almost officially over.

For many clubs, like mine, the season officially ended before the start of May (it could be argued that it actually ended around February) and the pre-season schedule is already looking like a long stretch.

Most teams will be formulating their plans for next season; planning, budgeting, releasing players, buying players.  Indeed, negotiations are already well underway, with many players fighting for the space in ever decreasing squad lists (well, if you are down in the lower divisions anyway).

In football terms, the planning of resources for next year’s ‘results’ is underway now, even though the ultimate result won’t be known until this time next year.  Hopping back to the two teams in the Champions League final, German football has been working to produce the types of players that will feature prominently on Saturday for 13 years, since an extremely disappointing Euro 2000.  So disappointing in fact even England beat them.

Planning isn’t often the first thought when new and shiny toys or big resources appear (I’m looking at you QPR!), and it is why so many marketing campaigns really fail to fire.

As I’ve travelled around the country delivering social media training and campaigns the most frequent failing for social media activity I’m asked to look at is a lack of planning.

Failing to plan social media activity isn’t an unusual phenomenon.  Indeed, due to the nature of social media and the way we use it in our own lives the reactive nature of the medium often gives the whole area an organic feel.  There’s a feel that it’s down to luck, timing and clever black magic that gets results especially in a B2B social media environment.  It really isn’t.

Just with the more traditional marketing disciplines, planning remains the key to success with B2B social media.  Tweeting and hoping just won’t wash, and we aren’t just talking about creating a nice little conversational calendar either.

Proper social media planning really starts and ends with your business objectives.  What are you trying to achieve as a business, and how can the social media channel be best utilised.  Of course as part of this exercise you will have to assess each of your audiences, your company ‘voice’, your internal requirements, your resources and your campaigns.

It really isn’t as complex as negotiating the flavour of dressing to put on the prawn sandwiches at Wembley this weekend.  In fact there are 5 key questions you can set yourself to help develop a social media strategy:

1. Why do you want to incorporate social media into your business?

2. Do you want to use specific individuals in your organisation for outbound communication with your external community?

3. Do you know what platform you intend to use to broadcast your efforts?

4. Have you defined your desired results and timescales to achieve your goals?

5. Have you assessed our 10 Tips to transform your Social Media strategy before you launch your plan?

Ok, these questions aren’t going to solve all your issues with planning your social media activity, but they are great questions you can use to create a structure.  They get to the heart of the thinking that is required to bring your social media strategies together.

Let’s face it, if the often basket-case business logic of football is already planning for next year, then perhaps now would be a good time for us all to do our own planning.

Simon Brooke is a Director at Happy Creative, a strategic marketing and creative branding agency based in Blackpool, Lancashire. To learn more or contact us please go to www.happy-creative.co.uk or @Happy_Creative

If a picture paints a thousand words, then why can’t I paint you?

Quiz nights in the local pub when I was young were often punctuated by the opening lines of the Bread hit, If. Of course it was generally only the first couple of lines that were ever played, mainly for the amusement of the older crowd to sing along to. Not quite as much a crowd participation event as Sweet Caroline, but it was certainly a pleasant interlude. By the way it was a hit in 1971 , as my dad would point out, he of the encyclopaedic pop knowledge for anything pre-1978. 1 point in the bag!

Still, the old proverb that inspired the line “a picture paints a thousand words” remains as true today as it did at any time. With the huge amount of content and knowledge easily accessible at the end of our fingertips (or on our smart devices) it seems we are exposed to the equivalent of 100 copies of ‘Crime and Punishment’ everyday…and sometimes it’s just overwhelming.

Partly this is exacerbated by the need to give our clients, customers or suppliers as much information as we can to help with their decision making. Individuals within B2B companies and consumers are making buying decisions based on the knowledge they gain from search engine sources, blogs, social media and company websites. It’s a seemingly endless task for many of us to keep on top of the additional information we need to provide day after day.

Sometimes it just makes our heads hurt. We are after all a visual species, our learning and memory is very much based on pictures. I can’t be the only one that remembers those memory challenges on Record Breakers with the late Roy Castle. Once they’d completed the challenge, the ‘secret’ of the contestants’’ success was always explained by the way they created a journey of pictures turning words, numbers or objects into a visual walkthrough. Visual representation is an inate way of learning, just look at the learning devices created for babies…A is for Apple.

With the increasing importance of social media as a primary communication channel and the challenge that this creates in getting sometimes complex messages over in few characters, Infographics have become a fabulous tool in any company’s armoury.

Never tried one? Well here’s a few tips in how to create a powerful infographic:

1. Pick a topic.
An infographic can be used for anything. We’ve created them for boots, teaching material, training tips and even a couple of birthdays. Any kind of information can be turned into a powerful infographic.

2. Create/Collate your data
Data, in whatever form is the crucial part of any infographic. Create it, collate it, however works best for you.

3. Framework your information
Before you embark on any design, you must arrange your information on the page.

4. Design
A powerful infographic design has the ability to entertain, inform and take sometimes complex information and turn it into a simple representation. The design of your infographic is the key to success.

5. Links and Distribution
Remember an infographic will need to be carefully distributed in order to be successful. Social Media, blogs, customer service and your website are all key channels. With these in mind you’ll need to ensure your infographic (whether it is a static or interactive one) includes the key links to landing pages so you can monitor successfully.

Infographics are an excellent tool for any business. Let’s face it, would you rather spend hours writing chapter and verse on classroom management techniques or would you rather produce something like this…

A picture really does paint a thousand words, even if I never did get that answer right in the pub quiz. I will now.

Simon Brooke is a Director at Happy Creative, a strategic marketing and creative branding agency based in Blackpool, Lancashire. To learn more or contact us please go to www.happy-creative.co.uk or @Happy_Creative

Social Media is a powerful tool. Over the past few years it is fair to say that Social Media has affected each of us in either our personal or business lives. A true phenomenon.

With this said, there is a flip side to Social Media. A side where Social Media encourages antisocial behaviour, group extremists and all round inappropriateness! With an outlet to voice an opinion and have complete freedom of speech, Social Media in the wrong hands is an ultimate portal for risky business.

Here I have a few examples of Social Media in the wrong hands – some with happy endings, some quite amusing, so it’s not all doom and gloom, but it does show us the importance of using Social Media in the right way.

  1. Here, pinch my info…

We add so much information to our profiles and our blogs that it is certainly easy to learn everything you need to know about someone in such little time. Take a look at this link to see just how much information you share on Social Media – you’ll be surprised at just how much someone could find out about you if they really wanted to! http://www.takethislollipop.com/

  1. Come on over…

It was in the news a little while ago about a house party that was being held when a young girls parents were away for the weekend. She added the details of the party on Facebook, and by making this information so freely available, a lot more people than expected turned up. Not only was she overrun by young party goers, but the house got completely trashed. A perfect example of keeping private information to yourself!

  1. Burglars, I’m here!..

With Social Media sites adding more and more to their capabilities, you can now ‘check in’ on the likes of Facebook to inform your Facebook friends of the exciting places you have visited. This may sound harmless, but letting the whole world know exactly where you are opens the opportunity for those that are that way inclined to ‘visit’ your house!

Status updates also tell people how you are away from home for 2 weeks in sunny Spain. This makes it even easier for burglars, who don’t even need to check that your whereabouts!

  1. Whoops!

Social Media makes publishing information so simple and so quick- great! Not so great for those who may miss inappropriate spellings or sayings that then get published worldwide. We probably all heard on the news about Susan Boyles Album Party hashtag. Something not to be repeated here so you’ll have to look that one up yourselves!

Another example features on a recent TV documentary ‘Don’t Blame Facebook’ (click here to view the show- http://www.channel4.com/programmes/dont-blame-facebook/4od), a happy couple planning a boozy trip to America posted ‘we’re going to destroy America’. Those who speak the local lingo will know that ‘destroy’ means to drink hard in America; paint the town red. However, this was assumed by officials as a terrorist threat and the couple were stopped at the airline gates heading into LA. It goes to show that on such a worldwide level it is easy to get lost in translation, with nasty consequences.

  1. In a flash!

In very recent news you may have seen the image of the poor girl who posted her dress on eBay, not noticing that her naked reflection had appeared in the mirror- big whoops! She noticed quite quickly but within the few minutes that the image was published it had already gone viral! This is a great example (not for her) of just how quickly information can spread via Social Media.

There are numerous examples of accidental posts on Social Media. You’ve probably done it yourself at one point. Those dreaded personal emails that get published online! With the instant uploading of information on Social Media sites, there’s no time to back track.

  1. I did it!

On the same documentary as mentioned above, an unsuspecting criminal was cautioned for crimes he had committed and posted himself on YouTube. Videos of him committing crimes such as speeding and racing in the streets and stealing petrol were posted for the whole world to see…including the Police! Now there’s no denying that one!

Without getting into the dark side of Social Media, these examples demonstrate the importance of using Social Media in the right way, for the right reasons, at the right time. With any Social Media, even your personal encounters, a strategy cannot go amiss! I hope these made you giggle. Check out the link above to watch some more examples of Social Media in the wrong hands.

Emma Dobson is a branding expert and Touch Point guru at Happy Creative, a full service marketing agency based in Blackpool, Lancashire. To learn more or contact us please go to www.happy-creative.co.uk

If the Christmas Story was told via Social Media, it might look something like this…

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