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August 23, 2011

Using Tumblr for business

Tumblr is a smart and easy-to-use micro-blogging platform. Barely takes 5 minutes to register, select a theme and make a post.

So the question is, 'How can businesses use Tumblr?". Shocking as it may seem, many businesses have been using Tumblr quite regularly. I suppose having presence on an additional social network only helps in widening your reach. 

Importance of blogging to build content

SEO or not, everyone knows the importance of having quality content. Content is what will make or break your online reputation. Having more than a gazillion options to choose from, people will bounce away from your page if your content appears non-informative. The inevitable question remains- How do you grow your content? 

Blogging is an excellent medium to publish quality content and interact with readers at the same time. Whether you are a big brand or just starting out, blogging is a great tool to reach out to a wider audience that is keen on gaining more information. People who read blogs are people who are more inclined towards acquiring information and this information in turn will affect their choices in the most subtle ways. How often do we read something that influences our buying behavior? As someone who enjoys shopping, I am more keen on buying products I have heard of online via blogs. Blogs can be used to review/compare products, provide more information on the products, information about latest industry trends (whats hot and whats not) and so much more. 

If you are looking for a quick yet informative medium to publish your information and at the same time gain followers, you should try Tumblr. Further research into what companies are actually using Tumblr, took me to this source of information. Businesses in varied fields are using Tumblr as a medium to expand their online presence.

Different brands are using their Tumblrs for different purposes. You can concentrate on talking about current service issues like Twitter does or showcase daily activities within your organisation or even share your favourite media! As long as your brand is associated with the content, you are increasing your reach. Tumblr can be used to show the fun side of your organisation or be used as a professional tool to talk about latest industry updates. Either way, it is easy to use, quick to update and in general, looks cool.

A few pointers to note are-

1. It is not a substitute for Twitter or any other social network. 

2. Only take on enough responsibility that you can manage based on human resource available in your organisation. In simple, use Tumblr if you are going to update it regularly. Nothing worse than having a social networking profile that has not been updated in months. This generally has a bad effect on readers and can drive them away from your brand. 

3. Don't duplicate information. If you have posted something on Facebook, don't duplicate the content on Tumblr. That makes no sense. The best plan is to condense your Tumblr activities by concentrating on the objective. Looking at the different business examples posted above, you'll notice that every brand has customised their Tumblr in a unique way based on the design of their social media strategy. 

I personally think, Tumblr can be a great tool for smaller businesses. The lovely themes available for free (and paid) are designed to improve the aesthetics of your content. Looking good is scoring half the point, the rest half will come from the quality of your content. Just like Twitter, you can choose to follow people who interest you. Tumblr offers a variety of categories to choose from, there by helping you build relationships and engage with people. 

August 17, 2011

Sociality (Leeds Digital Festival) 17/08/11

Leeds Digital Festival, 2011 have been organising a series of events with digital focus. I attended the first one in July which was dedicated to SEO (AweSEOme). Being a lover of communication, I have been looking forward to this month's panel on Social Media.

Sociality brought together social media experts across Leeds. A lot of basic to moderate level social media issues were discussed which meant people new to social media had a lot to gain from it. Days like these justify my plan to buy an iPad but having my iPod handy was good. I managed to pick up some key pointers that not only re-established what my amazing team have already taught me but I was introduced to some new tools. 

  • Time frame: Don't be impulsive in making a decision about whether/which social media channel is working for you. Give it a period of at-least 3 months before you go ahead and start making decisions on what your next step should be. Social media campaigns take a while to pick up.
  • Social media momentum: As I mentioned in my previous blog post, social media momentum is the thing you must concentrate on. Traditional media campaigns stick around for approximately 2 months but when it comes to social media, you cannot introduce a campaign and then forget all about your social network. In between campaigns, it is important to concentrate on daily engagement with the audience.
  • Locate your audience: There is no bigger error than wasting your resources targeting a wrong platform. Understanding how your audience behaves and relates to your product is important in making a decision about which platform to choose. 
  • Content flexibility: Some companies struggle when it comes to gaining fans or followers because in simple words, some products are boring! The truth is that people on social networks want to be associated with cooler products, for example, no one wants to like a wood flooring company on Facebook! What will the audience gain from liking your page? People are looking for entertainment and interaction. This does not mean you can't have presence on these networks, it only means you have to get more flexible with your content and get creative. A brilliant example for the brand Cupinol was given. Their Facebook page runs competitions with gifts to give away and generally appears very interactive for a company that is into garden wood care!
  • Content originality: Realistic and original content lets people know that you are an honest company that is serious about what it has to say. This is a brilliant point because as audience, we want to see something that is original and not ripped off from some other website. Posting photos and videos are a great way to establish your uniqueness.
  • Concentrate on smaller campaigns: As I mentioned in my previous post regarding application of Kaizen to social media, a brilliant point of concentrating on smaller goals was brought up. Instead of focusing on the bigger picture, it is important to have smaller realistic social media goals. Always have a plan of how and what you want to achieve with your campaigns and build KPI's accordingly.
  • Keep personal and professional separate: Don't have personal rants on your professional page. People handling social media can sometimes get carried away while discussing some issue and start stating their opinions on the business page, which will look bad for the business! Apparently there have been many instances when this has happened. Always keep personal and professional separate.
  • Non-english speaking global markets: This was my questions, I am interested in learning about global social media strategies and asked the panel what they think is a good strategy to reach an international audience. For example: China, where people don't have access to Facebook or Twitter and English isn't spoken widely. People from the panel who answered my question all agreed that it is essential to have a native speaker on your team. It is definitely difficult to reach an international audience like China but it isn't impossible. Based on which social media channels are being used in individual countries, you can focus on the same strategy but use other channels. I feel I need to research more and address this issue in a new blog post. 
I think I did miss out on some stuff! At one point a lovely-elderly gentleman had a question about what content to post on Twitter. I love seeing the older generation interested in technology! Someone on the panel mentioned that it is best to only mention your brand 1 out of 10 times. The rest 9 times try to talk about something else your audience is interested in, build relationships. Social media is all about engagement not hard sell.

Another key point mentioned was that social media can't be 9-5 job, it is more than that. Once you show up on any social network, it becomes another outlet for client services which means you will get asked questions on a weekend or after 5 pm. You have to be quick to respond which means multiple people need access to your profiles. 

Something I've never heard of before is WildfireApp. It is a campaign management tool and I need to read into it. 

Leeds Digital Festival seems to be shaping up quite nicely. My workmate @amandakou is organising a cool digital event for the festival. Follow her for more information. Too bad I won't be in Leeds then but I hope this trend starts catching up!

Click for more information about the panel and to follow them on Twitter.

August 15, 2011

Social Media Marketing with Kaizen

How often do we see social media campaigns that appear clever, creative and cool? First the social media geeks discover it, pass it around, eventually the non-geeks get enticed into the campaign and its only a matter of time until the campaign life cycle starts dropping down and then there's that dreaded silence. No activity on the social networks!

As we all are aware, it doesn't take too long for people to unlike/unfollow/undo you. For newbies, treading through the waters of social media is almost like dealing with a bi-polar lover. It is easy to find yourself in a damned if you do, damned if you don't situation. Apart from absolutely keeping away from sending out 'Hard Sell' messages, you have to ensure not to annoy your fans/followers/readers with robotic nonsense. Your brand has to be a real life person, it can't be a 'friend' because that is getting too personal but it has to play the role of that 'friend of a friend'! 

I am a fan of the British high street brand, Dorothy Perkins, on Facebook. Every now and again they have some offers going on, there's always updates about someone winning something and even though I never visit their Facebook page, I always read their feed updates. I am a fan of 350+ things on Facebook but the first name that comes to my mind when I think of audience engagement and continuous improvement is Dorothy Perkins! 

Kaizen, thats the topic I want to address in this blog post. Can the philosophy of changing for improvement be applied to Social Media Marketing? 

Image from

Kaizen is "... a daily process, the purpose of which goes beyond simple productivity improvement. It is also a process that, when done correctly, humanizes the workplace, eliminates overly hard work and teaches people how to perform experiments on their work using the scientific method and how to learn to spot and eliminate waste in business processes. " 

The five elements of Kaizen are,
1. Teamwork
2. Personal Discipline
3. Improve Morale
4. Quality Circles
5. Suggestions for improvements

Within the context of social media, your readers/fans/followers become your external stakeholders thereby, making their contribution highly essential. How are you affecting their morale and over a prolonged period, as a result of your interaction, has their level of activity improved or diminished? This is just one question that popped up in my mind when I thought of how Kaizen can be applied to social media. 

Of-course every action has a reaction, nature's law that applies to business! To best work with what social media is offering to you as a business, you need to make sure you are truly using what is being offered and not over-looking some aspects. More often than not, companies have a traditional plan and stick to it, with social media, you have to think outside the box. You don't have to be the flashy hipster but being a wall flower won't help either. Customers don't want a dancing monkey but they do want something different, as I mentioned earlier, the customer is your bi-polar lover!

So, how can Kaizen help you?

Start at home

Focus on your internal stakeholders. These are the people that shape your business. The littlest activities they do, stabilize and keep your business alive. Kaizen is about improving in small steps, concentrating on the little issues to tackle the bigger issue. Begin by asking your employees how they would like to see the company's social strategy shape up. It is easy to think you have all the answers until another person walks into the room and throws a curve ball, a point of view you never thought before, that is brilliance of being human, each one of us has something new to add. 

Now move onto what your customers want. You can start by running a campaign to ask your customers for a feed back. People like me love filling feed back forms and I can guarantee, there are plenty like me out there. Get your sales team to do what they do best and bring back those feedback forms. 

Introduction to social media

Run a company wide training session to ensure everyone and anyone is aware of how social media works. It is an important part of our future, things are only going to get more connected. Most people are aware of how social media functions and there's always that little percent who don't like social media (my best friend included here), you still have a majority of your employees who will support your social media campaign. Little by little, every voice, every post on your social network will send a message to the customer that there's some 'engagement' going on!

Keeping up with the momentum

When you view social media from the traditional marketer's point of view, you run a campaign, generate interest and increase ROI. This can apply to some new media channels but not to social networks. Whatever you do, keep the momentum!

Some weeks you might not be able to generate as much interest as you would in other weeks but the moment you start lagging behind on updates, you stop being relevant. You don't have to run offers every day, Starbucks doesn't but it does a great job of engaging with the audience every day on the Facebook page.

Fair enough, Starbucks wouldn't have to post anything engaging and could still generate user content but as a smaller organization you have a better chance of building more genuine and stable relationships. Nothing better than knowing your customer by their name and who doesn't want to be treated special? 

Momentum in this context requires that you review your past decisions and moving forward apply the little changes. You'll learn that some things just aren't working for you, may be you are posting information the readers are not interested in, this is when you go back for creative input to the people who had ideas -your employees+your customers. May be it is time you start talking about more industry relevant information than selling your product. After all, social media can only engage, it is not an aggressive medium for marketing. 

If your outreach is wide and you have quite a few things you want to do with your social media strategy, you can assign a Kaizen event to each individual issue. This should make reviewing and evaluating their effectiveness a lot simple.

As mentioned earlier, Kaizen is very human centric. We as people are funny, each one of us is capable of being that bi-polar lover. You will get overwhelmed when you hear 10 different views on how your social media approach should move forward. This is when the smart people who know their stuff and who you pay, find balance between the ideas and generate an approach that will be best suited to a majority. 

Apart from having an extremely creative Facebook presence, OPI (nail lacquer) have a brilliantly engaging page. Highly interactive and posting discussions that aren't only about selling their products, OPI does a great job of fascinating girls like me!