Podcast 36: Panel Discussion – Using Social Media to Grow Your Business

Panelists discuss using social media to grow your business

Welcome to episode 36 of the Waiake – My podcast to help you take your brand to new heights online.

In this episode I wanted to share with you the wisdom of my three co panellists from the recent Harcourts Real Estate Conference. We talk about digital marketing and using social media to grow your business.

We were interviewed by Troy Rawhiti-Forbes who has for the last few years been the conduit between New Zealand’s largest telco and our nation on Twitter and Facebook. Having experienced the highs of branding brilliance and the lows of national outages and email hacks Tory is in good space to bring out the best in my fellow guests and to prompt me to say a few things of merit too.

Coming from quite different backgrounds it was really interesting to get some diverse perspectives – yet hear some common themes as to whats best when using social media to grow your audience and business.

I’ll let you hear Tory give the impressive introductions (I cringed through mine) and I hope you find it of worth as the topics covered work in many industries.

If you’re keen to follow along the other panelist are:

HR

Key takeaways:

  • Know your Unique Selling Points and incorporate this into your online presence and SEO.
  • Don’t be afraid to try new networks, find out what fits best with you.
  • Always be transparent in your actions.
  • Think – “What would I want to hear from a brand?” and “How does this help my customers?”

HR

Three core tactics in my Twitter Strategy

While I loath to call it a strategy, I have decided to take a strategic methodical approach to my use of Twitter.

I’ve decided to:

  1. Network, share and support a core group of influential people in my Dunbar 150 list – daily
  2. Participate in weekly #sshour social selling chats and one other #hashtag chat from a new, unrelated field.
  3. Post useful and insightful links to content from those in my 150 list and insightful sources

But why just three core things you say?

Stick to three focus points and measure their success

I have been reading the book Good To Great by Jim Collins. I which he thorough researches and presents the core elements of what’s behind great companies – those that outperform consistently over time. He summarises a good concise strategy very well.

If you have more than three priorities, you don’t have any ~ Jim Collins.

Hence the three pronged approach I am taking on Twitter. They are each in different areas, are SMART and can be measured independently.

My Dunbar 150 list – or small group – allows for focused core networking

The UK psychologist Robin Dunbar did some quite thorough research into human relationships and the number of meaningful or at least memorable relationships we can keep. He came to the conclusion that the average person can only really keep – to some reasonable level – relationships with 150 people. If I think of my personal relationships this sounds about right. 50 odd work contacts, 50 odd friends, 25 family members and 25 business connections – give or take.

So hence my Dunbar 150 list on Twitter – it’s still growing, but will include a core group of people – people who’s Tweets are worth reading, they share good content and I really value their input to my time on Twitter.

Participating in #sshour now #SBizHour and other chats to discover new contacts

Being part of a larger hashtag based chat lets me discover cool new people on Twitter, to get different perspectives and a chance to expand my knowledge. I’ve also found myself following along with design hashtags, UX, customer service and just recently social C suite chats. All help me connect with more people and develop a breadth of knowledge.

Share really useful content

Finally, sharing stuff that is really of value is paying off. People comment on it and share it more frequently. If I take the time to explain why it is of value and also add a supporting visual element – content I tweet far more useful! I hope. You will get the odd motivational quote or bit of humour in the mix but I hope that in general you’ll get valuable content from my stream in 2015. Less noise, more signal I hope!

If you’d like to listen to this post I’ve made a short summary here:


On a personal note. Many thanks to those subscribed to my blog. I wish you all very happy holiday season and a great 2015!

How brands survive in a photo rich online world

#Latergram . Throwback to Wednesday's sunset.

A post shared by Nick Allen (@nickwallen) on

With the latest Twitter update your stream on desktop and mobile features landscape shaped thumbnail previews of photos. This coupled with Twitter cards for blog posts, videos and many more media types, means far more images in what was originally an SMS like feed.  Facebook’s acquisition of Instagram and the attention Pinterest is getting all echo the fact that social media sites are getting more visual every day.  Pinterest and Tumblr are just outside the Top 20 sites in New Zealand.

Thinking through our Facebook feeds and what gets me “like”-ing I’ve come up with a starter for Five.

Five image subjects that will appeal to 90% (made up stat) of your audience. Sharing a picture that includes or combines one of these five should out-do a branded/text filled ad. I think they apply to videos too.

In no particular order, but in one that rolls off the tongue well it is:

  1. Pets
  2. People
  3. Places
  4. Faces
  5. Food

Each in moderation of course, and linked to your brand. The images should support your brand’s perception, yet be honest like the images you would see from friends in your feed. Some might have a great Canon or Nikon, but remember most friends don’t have professional lighting studios.

That said they might share pictures of a pristine Ferrari, a meal on a white background, or an airbrushed pop star from time to time.  Some of my favourite TV shows are behind the scenes, the making of and brand stories. Unpolished and engaging.

So let us see how many I can work in over the coming months.

Rich Snippets and Open Source Architecture

Theres two topics for today’s post, and both on very different streams. The first, rich snippets, is the ability to tell search engines to display text and images, that you provide, in the manner you want, on search engine result pages (SERPs).

Hubspot wrote a great article on snippets earlier in the week. The article is robust and covers so I won’t go into too much detail. But in case you aren’t aware there are snippets that allow you to provide structured detail for:

  • Authors
  • businesses,
  • music,
  • videos,
  • products,
  • recipes
  • and events.

With my blog hosted on WordPress, I will need to explore how far I can take snippets, but Twitter does already recognise the first image and paragraphs of my post, displaying them in stream much like Facebook. Which is a reasonable first step.

Two benefits I can see from ensuring your snippets are in place and working are:

  1. You really get a chance to optimise and enhance your calls to action and distinguish your result. I for one would be more inclined to click on a well formatted link, even if it was mid way down the results page.
  2. You also get the chance to start feeding through your brand, corporate palatte and tie this to your site. Consistency between the author image in the SERPs, and tone of voice can’t help but improve the users experience.

Priory park. #nofilter #spring

A post shared by Nick Allen (@nickwallen) on

The second edition of Sunday Session was recorded at Priory Park today. I shade from the wind beside the lake, looking across at the pavilion, a feature piece of modern architecture in Reigate.

Which vaguely leads me to the second topic today. UNStudio architects in the Netherlands have said in June they will re-form as an open source architecture studio.

Here’s the tweet which proved popular – perhaps as it is an innovative step for an industry that is still, like many, tightly holding onto IP and what they believe to be competitive advantage through knowledge.

I think this could be an exciting move for the studio, as they vow to make as much as possible of their processes and architecture open to the public and other architects.

It’s not too dissimilar to content marketing and sharing how to, or instructive guides like Hubspot has above. When UNStudio release what would be mainstream architecture fundamentals (say the design of a 3 bed townhouse) it frees them up to focus on innovation and differentiation. Rather than redrafting the same things constantly, to add a flurry at the end.

What’s more, unable to find a structure within their industry that they felt could innovate fast enough, they have looked to the startup scene and the likes of Square, Xero and Twitter. Tech companies using Agile project management.

While the process may not be truly agile they are letting the teams self select and focus in their strength among four topics in the new open source platform: sustainability, organisation, materials and parametrics.

It is definitely one I’ll be watching this year, and that I hope succeeds.

Listen along…

Social media – Deus ex machina to the digitally disrupted?

I was watching this great what to do with Twitter video this morning and it got me thinking could social media provide the Deus ex machina that many companies are looking for?

Andrew Grill covered a report by Deloitte on the notion of Digital Disruption. The report covers industries that are predicted to be hardest hit by the combination of mobile platforms, social media and online sales.

The report highlights industries that will have to truly switch up their business models, revenue models and products or services to survive. One of the first to be hit being retail as we see more and more shops being forced to compete on price as “showrooming” becomes a thing.

A case in point is this Australian store charging people to enter as they just go home and buy the same thing online elsewhere (thanks Mahei for the insights @iconic88).

Instead of fighting back with her own website, content channel, live tweets and promotions this store owner sadly still thinks in footfall. Much like the numbers game in eyeballs to ads model last week.

This week I think we need to look at the strengths of the mediums we use and work out how that best fits with your company.

I had some ideas a while back on marketing unfinished products to give insights into your brand. As the Twitter video highlights, if you know your platform well you can use it to great effect.

It is a new medium that requires a new mind set. Traditional values of open, transparent, good service will prevail but we need to hone our new media skills.

We need to ditch the hard sell, ad driven product centric work – for content that brings clients closer to the brand and heightens their affinity.

So beyond the brand strategy, and content calendars we need to also learn the skills of the medium:

  • Respond quickly to customer enquiries at a one to one level, that can be seen by many
  • Learn to Newsjack and make a trending issue relevant to your fans
  • Share your fans stories to create affinity
  • Have a voice and people behind it that connect and converse with your fans and their contacts as humans, not a brand
  • Make it about them, not about your product or service.

What would you add?