The Facebook Algorithm – How to stay on the right side of it and increase your Facebook reach

With over 60 million businesses using Facebook (as of Q1 2017) – competing for the hearts and minds of Facebook users has become more of a challenge than ever recently. Facebook’s recent algorithm update hasn’t made things any easier and has seen many Facebook pages, that once received hundreds of organic viewings, clicks and likes reduced to single figures.

Facebook’s official line in all of this is that it wants to deliver more relevant content to the end user but the reality for all but the biggest brands is that is you want to get noticed, you’ll need to “pay to play” by sponsoring your daily Facebook posts. But even that’s not enough to guarantee you reach your desired audience. You’ll still be competing with other businesses who are targeting the same customers and also paying to promote their posts. So how do you ensure Facebook puts your posts above those that are competing for the same audience? How do you ensure you win favour with the Facebook Algorithm? Here some useful tips.

Facebook likes positivity

If your strategy is to post “risqué” content which might provoke negative reactions, it’s time for a rethink. The Facebook algorithm ranks posts with positive reactions above those with negative reactions. Negative reactions include unfollows, hiding of posts, marking a post as spam and even negative sentiment in the comments. If your page is regularly receiving negative reactions, it will quickly go down the Facebook rankings.

Facebook values shares and comments above likes

At businesshands we’ve always believed it’s much more powerful to encourage engagement with your audience rather than simply asking them to passively like your post. It seems Facebook agrees so going forward, you’ll need to think about how your posts can encourage debate and add value to the viewer. This strategy will help to weed out business pages that are simply farming out uninspiring content for the sake of posting something on a regular basis. It means if you want to gain favour with the Facebook algorithm, you’ll need to post regular, high quality, thought-provoking content which sparks the imagination and interest of your intended audience.

Facebook doesn’t like clickbait or fake video

Have you ever clicked on a play button on a Facebook post only to be taken to another website? It turns out the video wasn’t a video at all, just an image with a play button linking to a website page. Going forward this is a big no-no. Videos which simply contain static images will also not rank going forward.

Facebook likes real video and it likes its own videos best

Countless studies over the past few years have shown that the best performing posts on Facebook contain video, but did you know that native Facebook videos (i.e. videos uploaded directly to Facebook rather than a link to a video on an external website) are over 10 x more likely to be shared. A study completed by quintly of over 160,000 profiles found that Facebook native videos have a 1055% higher share rate than those from YouTube or other sources. They also have a 186% higher interaction rate (likes / comments).  It’s worth noting that the Facebook algorithm ranks longer videos above shorter ones and also places a ranking on the % completion. The idea being that the longer someone watches the video, the higher the quality of the content must be.

Don’t forget, in addition to posting pre-made content, Facebook also offers its Facebook live feature which enables you to deliver a live feed to talk about key issues or report from a particular event.  Facebook users are 3 x more likely to watch a live video than a pre-recorded one. We’ve used this feature with our clients to great effect and the audience really does love it so it’s worth thinking about how you can incorporate this into your Facebook strategy going forward.

Content sources matter

For many businesses, its simply not possible to create unique, high quality content every day and curating content from other websites is a perfectly acceptable strategy to use. What’s important to remember with curated content though is that quality matters. I can’t count the number of times I’ve clicked through on a link to a post only to find the content is either out of date, completely incorrect or simply not worth posting. Remember, your Facebook page is being graded on the number of shares and comments it receives on its posts. If you’re lazily posting random content without checking it, you’ll pay the price.

Even with quality content however, it’s worth testing different sources. Your followers will have preferences and will enjoy or relate more to content from some sources than others. Finding out which sources your followers prefer will help to increase those all important shares and comments.

That’s it for this article. If you would like more information about how to use Facebook effectively for your business, or you would like to talk about our managed social media services, why not contact a member of the team today on 0207 458 4788.

How to get the most out of your marketing agency relationship

No matter how good a marketing agency is, its ability to “deliver the goods” when it comes to a successful marketing campaign is not guaranteed. Technical and creative talent needs feeding with good information and clear direction as a minimum, and that responsibility lies at the feet of both the client and the relationship manager on the agency side. So if you’re a business that relies on agencies and you’re finding that they’re not quite delivering what you expected, here’s a few things to think about before throwing in the towel.

The briefing

Agencies require a comprehensive brief for each campaign and for best results, you should spend time talking through the brief in detail to ensure clarity of vision. This also provides an opportunity for any questions about your brief to be answered. Time invested now equals time and money saved later on.

Expecting a ‘yes’ at all costs

Recently we received an enquiry from a new potential customer. He was scathing about the previous agencies he’d worked with saying that they had promised him everything and delivered nothing. He’d worked his way through 3 agencies and spent £30k and so he had every right to be angry. In his enquiry, he demanded to be told whether we were capable of delivering or not. If we weren’t we should tell him right away and not waste his money.

After researching his company, his website and general online presence, we concluded that major improvements would be needed to his website, his various landing pages and his social media presence before we would consider running any campaigns on his behalf. We weren’t being pig-headed, we simply knew that without it, we would not be able to deliver results and we knew that this was where the other agencies had fallen down. The potential client, unable to accept that this was the reason his campaigns had failed so far, decided that we were not the agency for him and he moved on to search for a new agency that would just run his campaigns regardless and make them magically work. It’s very likely, that this decision will cost him yet more money in the months to come.

A good marketing agency is not one that will say ‘yes’ all of the time. A good agency will care more about the delivery of results and their reputation above making a quick buck. After all – if an agency delivers results, a client is likely to use them long term and is more likely to recommend them. It makes financial sense. It’s important then, as a client to encourage pushback from your agency on your projects. If something is not right or unlikely to work, wouldn’t you rather know now, before you invest time, effort and money? The alternative isn’t productive for anyone on either side of the relationship.

The results

There is often a mismatch between clients’ expectations of what a campaign can achieve and what a marketing agency believes can be delivered but it’s rarely discussed at the beginning of a project. It’s that white elephant in the room. Clients don’t want to sound foolish by asking how many leads / sales / website hits they’re going to get just in case it’s impossible to predict. There’s also that odd British mentality that it’s rude to ask such a tricky and direct question. Agencies on the other hand, often avoid the discussion because it lures them into a discussion which a client might take as a commitment to a specific result. It’s important then, to bite the bullet and set expectations (client) and manage expectations (agency) at the very beginning. Expectations on both sides need to be aligned before any work begins otherwise the project will be doomed from the start.

The communication super-highway

Good communication isn’t just essential at the beginning of a campaign. It’s important to maintain the momentum throughout. Short-term, high intensity campaigns require daily communication, whilst mid-long-term, lower intensity project may be ok with just weekly, or even monthly catch-ups.

These catch-ups are perfect for your marketing agency to provide you with an update on the progress of the campaign, but they’re also an important platform for you to provide feedback of the campaign from your perspective. Are you happy with it? Are you noticing an impact? Are there changes / improvements you would like to make? Are there niggling doubts you need quashed?

There’s a wider aspect to the need for good communication too. Here at businesshands, we have a number of long-term clients who trust us implicitly to run almost all of the marketing activities for them without intervention.  What we find particularly useful in this kind of relationship, is to receive regular updates about the company, the highs, the lows, the successes, the challenges and any changes in direction the company might be taking. It helps us to understand our clients better and puts us in their shoes, enabling us to deliver a more accurate representation of their brand. Without this, we simply would not be able to provide a quality service.

Of course, there’s many more ways the relationship can be improved between you and your marketing agency, but those above will get you off to a good start. Sometimes however, no matter what you try – the relationship just isn’t right and in those situations, its best to part company quickly and move on to pastures new. In those circumstances, we hope you’ll make us here at businesshands your next stop.

Launch of The Small Business Coach

We’re delighted to be able to announce the launch of our sister company, The Small Business Coach.

Since its inception, businesshands has been dedicated to helping small and medium sized businesses improve their online presence. As a marketing agency however, that’s where our support ends but there’s always been a yearning to do more and help our clients become more.

And that’s where The Small Business Coach comes in. Through our sister company, we’ll be offering a range of comprehensive business support packages to give start-ups and SMEs the very best chance of success. From 15-minute “quick fix” sessions through to in-depth strategy reviews, we’ve put together a selection of support solutions which we hope will meet the needs of most, if not all start-up and small business owners.

To learn more about The Small Business Coach and the range of services we’ll be offering under the brand, please visit www.thesmallbusinesscoach.uk. We welcome any feedback on the website or the services we’re offering.  Thanks

Business in the doldrums? Here’s how to kick start it back into life

If you’ve clicked through to read this article, the chances are your business is a little bit stuck at the moment. The phones aren’t ringing, your inbox is empty and your sales team aren’t delivering the goods. You could of course, put it down to Brexit, or the Election result or even the hot weather, but that doesn’t help to get things moving again. What you need is a plan of action, a business turnaround plan to get you back off the blocks and below we’ve listed some key pointers to help you do just that.

Be Brutal

It’s time to cut needless expenses out of the business to give you more money to spend on creating new business. Here’s what to check:

  • Technology – Are you paying for software you’re not using? Are there cheaper alternatives to the software you do use? Are you getting the best value from your IT support contract? Are there any contracts you can renegotiate?
  • Utilities – Don’t pay over the odds for your electricity, water, gas or internet. Shop around and you could save big
  • Rent and business rates – Do you really need that expensive office in that exclusive postcode? Do all of your employees need to come into the office every day or can you hot desk and downsize your office space?
  • Staff – Is every member of staff adding value to your business? If not, why are they on the payroll? What about your sales team? Are there individuals that always have a deal “just round the corner” that never closes? If so, it’s time to give them a deadline to close their deals or find a new job.
  • Your bank statement – Last but not least, go through your business bank statement with a fine toothcomb. You’d be amazed at what you’re probably paying for on a monthly basis that you hadn’t accounted for. Eliminate all unnecessary expenses and question any payments you don’t recognise.

Go back to basics

For many business owners, the idea of writing a business plan when you’re already years into your journey could seem like a waste of time. After all, you know your business, you know your industry and you know your clients, right? But times change and if that were the case, the business wouldn’t be in the position it’s in today. A business plan forces a business owner (or leadership team) to ask itself questions about the business that are often overlooked. It questions the assumptions a business has been built on and can lead to genuine business insight which can help to reshape the company going forward. Putting a business plan in place with strategic objectives and revenue targets for the next 1 – 5 years helps to focus your mind and your business development activities on achieving those goals at all costs. Most importantly perhaps, it can help to justify any expenditure needed to change the business to meet those long-term objectives. The savings you made in point 1 should go some way to help pay for any changes that need to be made.

Look at the market and adjust your message

Following nicely on from point 2 – if you’ve done your business plan correctly, you’ll have taken a deep dive into your customers, your competition and your industry. That means you will hopefully have identified if your customer’s needs have changed. You’ll also have noted if the industry or most importantly your competition are talking about the product or service you offer in a different way. Ask yourself, is your message and your offering still as relevant today as it was when you set up the business? If it’s not, you need to adapt to survive. Failure to do so will almost definitely result in the failure of your business.

Communicate

Having a business that is not hitting its sales targets is not just a worry for business owners and CEOs. It’s a worry for employees too. It’s important to explain the predicament the business is in to employees, particularly if you’re planning on making changes. Make sure they understand the gravity of the situation and their role in helping the business move forward to better times. By keeping your team in the loop, there will be less pushback about any changes that need to be made and it may even work to your advantage by bringing everyone together to work towards a common goal. Remember, communication is not only about delivering bad news. It’s important to celebrate the good news too so be sure to make public any big business wins.

Put a comprehensive sales and marketing strategy in place

A common theme with many companies that find their sales figures heading south is their reliance on just one method to get new business through the door. Enterprise software companies for example, tend to focus heavily on using sales teams to make outbound, new business calls. E-commerce websites rely heavily on Google Ads, whilst restaurants tend to rely on review sites and online guides. Of course, they use these methods because they work, but they need to be backed up with secondary and tertiary business development channels at the very least. This means that when one method is drying up, the other methods can pick up the slack. A good business will use an array of business development tools including Google PPC, social advertising, blogging, email, events and outbound calling.

Don’t get complacent

So you’ve reshaped the business and things are looking good. Now it’s time to sit back and reward yourself for all the hard work you’ve put in… or maybe not. Industry leading companies are always looking for new ways to drive their business forward. They want to be ahead of the competition, trying new ideas, engaging with potential clients in different ways and innovating wherever and whenever possible. It’s a good strategy to have. The best time to try new things, is when you’ve got cash in the bank to absorb anything that doesn’t work out. If it does work out, you’ll be in even better shape should you run into difficult times again in the future.

Get your blog on – a beginner’s guide to blogging

 

Better Google rankings, increased website traffic, improved conversion rates and growing brand awareness. These are just some of the benefits that a blog can give your business and so if you value any of the above, it’s important that you make time and effort to write and publish a blog regularly. But where do you start and how do you make sure, it’s not like 80% of the other blog posts out there which deliver absolutely no value to the reader and leave you clicking on the exit button before you’ve even finished the first paragraph? Well, here at businesshands, we write a lot of blogs for a lot of different clients so here’s our top 5 tips on how to produce a compelling blog.

Tip #1 – Understand who you are writing for

The first thing to remember when you are blogging is that you’re not writing for you. You are writing for the reader. Ask yourself what kind of person do you want to come to your website. What are their interests in relation to your offering? What questions might they have? What topics would they find useful? How can you educate them or excite them so that they go away thinking “I enjoyed that, I want to come back.” What value can you give them? Write down your thoughts. This should give you the basis for Tip #2.

Tip #2 – Write a content plan

So you’ve just completed a brainstorm about your ideal website visitor. You know who they are, what they like and what they might like to know. Now turn all of that into a content schedule. Build a list of weekly topics. Try to come up with an enticing title for each and underneath write a few bullet points to help frame what points you want to get across and any conclusion that is to be drawn.

Tip #3 – Structure your blog

Typically each blog post will contain an introduction, “the meat”, and then a summary / conclusion / call to action. Your introduction needs to be punchy, particularly in the first couple of sentences as this is what will appear in the preview when you post it on social media. For many writers however, it’s these first two sentences that prove to be the hardest to write. If you’re suffering a case of writer’s block, try pretending that you’re already two or three sentences in and start from there. You can come back and add the introductory first sentence later on, once your article is in full flow. If you’re truly stuck, and need the introductory sentence before you can get going, think about using a statistic and then building off it. For example:
“A recent survey found that 88% of B2B marketers see content production as the most important part of their marketing strategy”

Tip #4 – Pack it full of personality

The chances are, your company is not the only one offering the product or service that you do. As an insider in the company, you no doubt firmly believe you are unique, but to an outsider a hat shop is just like any other hat shop. A POS software company is just like any other POS software company, a legal or accountancy firm is just like any other legal or accountancy firm. It’s what you say (Tip #1) and how you say it that will make your business stand out so try and pull your writing away from corporate speak and give it a human touch. The more human and real you can be, the more powerful your blog will become. Don’t be afraid to share your own experiences and relate them directly to your readership… and don’t believe for a second that this tip is not relevant for the industry you are in. No matter how corporate or formal your industry is, adding personality and humanness to your writing will make the information you are providing far more digestible.

Tip #5 – Use great imagery

A good image can speak a thousand words and even if it doesn’t, it will be a powerful lure to bring more readers to your blog. It’s important then, to choose your image carefully. For many bloggers today, the standard practice is to use a google image search to find something they like and then use this on their own blog. But there’s a danger with this. Most of these images are not royalty free. If you are using an image without the consent of the image owner, you are liable and could face legal action or be forced to pay a fee for the use of the image. Better practice is to use a stock image or create one yourself.

Of course, there is a danger with stock images too… in that some of them look too much like a stock image. Shy away from bland, overly corporate or cliché images and try and find something unique that fits in with your topic. In our next blog, we’ll be providing a list of great websites you can use to get truly inspiring (and mostly free) stock imagery so watch this space.

So there’s five quick tips on how to blog for beginners… and here’s a bonus one which is probably the most important of them all.

Tip #6 – Content is nothing without distribution

You’ve done the hard work of writing and publishing your blog on your website but you’re not finished yet. Unless you promote your blog and distribute it to your audience, nobody will see it. A blog is typically distributed in one of two ways.

  1. Through a newsletter to your existing database
  2. Through social media – this can be posted on your company page and also be boosted to reach new audiences by turning it into an ad. Don’t forget with social media, you can post your blog multiple times, simply by changing the headline image and choosing a different message to display alongside the link to your blog

Thanks for reading. If you’ve enjoyed this article, don’t forget to share it with your connections and if you would like to discuss any of the topics covered, don’t hesitate to drop us a line on +44 (0)203 458 4788 or email us at info@businesshands.co.uk.

7 things you need to do to your website right now

So you’ve just had a brand new website built and you’re ready for launch. It’s packed full of glossy images. Stacked full of information about your company and jacked up to the nines with widgets to let people follow you, sign up to your newsletter or even book a meeting. It’s all very exciting and you’ve led the project from start to finish. You really feel it shows off, not just your creative genius but also the values and the personality of the brand it represents. But before you hit the “launch” button, there’s a few things you should be checking to make sure your website doesn’t end up doing more damage to your brand than good. Things which you’d be amazed how many businesses fail to do.

Check for spelling and grammar errors

For every website that is spelling and grammar error free, there will be five more websites that are littered with literary mistakes and that’s bad for business. If you’re building an all singing, all dancing website, it can be easy to get caught up in the aesthetics and the functionality and forget to proof read the information your website displays. For best practice, get at least two other people to proof read the entire website before going live. If you’ve already gone live, go back and do it anyway.

Check for inaccurate or outdated information

Yes, this might be a shiny new website, but for many, the temptation to copy and paste at least a few paragraphs from the old website will be strong and why not. After all, the company has probably not changed much over the years so where’s the harm? Well, if your website contains statistics or outdated processes from a decade ago, it’s not going to look very relevant today. Similarly, expressing pride for winning an award back in 2012 isn’t going to make you look like a very forward thinking company. But what’s more important than both of these however, is if your website mentions laws or regulations that have changed. You could become liable if a visitor comes to your website for advice and then suffers because of it.

Check your links work

Links between different areas of your website are good for SEO and depending on the size and type of your website, your links could run into the tens or even hundreds. But faulty links have the opposite effect. They’re bad for SEO and bad for the customer experience so check every link works before going live. The most common link failures we come across are the social media icons, which often still link to the web developer’s social media sites or don’t go anywhere at all.

…. A further note on social media links

If you have no intention of implementing a social media strategy and will not be using your social media regularly, we would recommend not putting links to them on your website. Social Media is used by prospective clients as a validation tool to aid in the buying process. If you are not using social media, it’s better to not advertise the fact. If you have an existing website with social media links and you’re not using social media, ask your development team to remove them.

Make sure your contact information is correct

Its easily overlooked, but check the website developer hasn’t left a “filler” number in the contact information field or in the footer by mistake? If it looks like the right number, just go through it slowly. You’d be surprised how many times a couple of numbers are the wrong way around or one of the numbers is missing. What about the email address. Is that correct? Is it still in use? Have you tested it recently? It would be a shame if customers are emailing you and their message is going into an online abyss. And of course, don’t forget to test your contact forms too. Do they work? Where do they point to? Will your customer receive an automated responder once they send in a query?

Check it works equally well on a mobile

With well over half of all internet traffic taking place on a mobile device these days, if you’re website is not mobile compatible, your business will seriously miss out. It’s worth remembering that Google rates mobile friendly websites higher than non-mobile friendly sites, so even if your website is viewable but not “mobile compatible” your Google ranking will be affected. And if your web developer says your website is mobile friendly, don’t just take their work for it. It’s up to you to thoroughly test your site. Often developers will use website themes (like a template) which automatically adjusts the website for different devices, however they don’t always work as they should and you might find different parts of your website end up overlapping or become unusable.

Get third party feedback

Last but not least, ask someone who is not immediately involved in your organisation to look at your website and explain to you what you do and the value you offer. So often, the content of a website is written by someone so entrenched in the company and the industry they represent that the message they deliver is not coherent to people on the outside. Remember, your message has to explain to a potential customer, the value you deliver and why they should have an interest in your products or services. It doesn’t need to deliver a detailed historical account of your company or provide in-depth technical specifications for your offering (unless you are an e-commerce site).

So there you go. 7 simple things you can do right now to make your website that little bit better. Of course there are many more and we’d welcome your thoughts and advice, so website guru’s – we look forward to you adding your thoughts in the comments field below.

How to market any product or service effectively

You’ll find a million articles on the net these days about the virtues of different types of marketing and why it’s great. SEO fanatics will tell you about the importance of getting your business high up the list in Google, whilst social media bods will tell you the importance of brand engagement and emotional connectivity. Content writers love to tell a story which puts the consumer at its heart and email marketers will provide you with statistical analysis showing how they deliver ROI. And all of that is great except it misses out one vital piece of the marketing puzzle. One so powerful, it can render any marketing activity you do, regardless of the medium you choose – as completely useless. And that’s asking one very important question – “what exactly am I trying to sell?”

You see a spade is not just a spade. They’re big, the small, they’re tall, they’re short, they’re squared headed, they’re rounded headed, they’re wooden handled, they’re plastic handled, they’re expensive, they’re cheap. Each spade has a different set of properties and consequently, has the power to fulfil a slightly different need and that will make it more or less attractive to a particularly type of customer. The same goes for almost any kind of product or service you can think of. So with that in mind, here’s a few things you need to be thinking of before you begin to deliver your marketing message.

1. The problem

Does your product or service solve a problem, if so what does it solve? Not only that, why specifically is your product or service particularly good at solving this problem and why is that important to your customer?

2. The emotion

How will the customer feel if they have their problem solved by your product or service? Paint a picture and put them in the moment. Ahh, isn’t it just great having that problem solved? If your product or service doesn’t solve a problem, let’s say for example, it’s purely a recreational offering – that’s even more of a reason to pull on the emotional benefits of that your audience can expect from buying your product or service.

3. The user or the buyer?

The user of your product /service and the buyer are not necessarily the same person and it’s important to understand who has a greater influence in the purchasing decision and make sure you speak / market mostly to them. Take for example, a toy doll. The buyer will most likely be a responsible adult whilst the child will be the user and the person who influences the decision, hence most adverts for toys (except educational ones) are focused on selling to the child. Move that into a B2B environment however and you might have an expensive piece of software that you’re trying to sell. The users might be a group of salesman, but the buyer is the CEO. He’s the one trying to solve a business problem and he’s the one you need to direct your marketing towards. What problem are you solving for him / her and how?

4. The competition

No matter how good you are at what you do, there’s always experts in your field that you can learn from. More often than not, they’re the competition. Now I’m a firm believer in the idea that whatever you focus your mind on will grow. If you focus on your business, it will grow. If you always focus on the competition, they will end up growing because you’ll be distracted. But that shouldn’t stop you from doing some occasional research on your rivals. What are they saying? How are they positioning their products or services and is there anything that your product or service offers which theirs doesn’t? A little look at the competition doesn’t hurt, but make sure your research is objective and not artificially negative or biased and don’t get obsessive.

5. Define yourself

So now you’ve pulled together all this information and you have a better idea than ever of what it is you’re trying to sell and who exactly you need to be selling it to. Now it’s crunch time. You need to condense everything you’ve learnt into a series of short, well-defined messages about your product or service which you will consistently focus on through your sales and marketing campaigns. It doesn’t have to be many, in fact in many cases – the fewer the better. Make sure your messages are succinct and aimed at the right person and you’ll have a much better chance with your sales and marketing activities, no matter what medium you choose to push your message out through, be it social media, email, content or SEO.

We’d love to hear your comments below and if you like this article, don’t forget to share it with your colleagues and of course, if you need help with your marketing – don’t hesitate to drop us a line today on 0207 458 4788.

Thanks for reading

5 things to consider before you make your first post on social media

So I’ve just been working on the marketing strategy for a brand-new tech start-up that I’m bringing to life called Secret Think Tank and thought I’d share with you, some of the factors we’ve taken into consideration before taking the leap into social media with the new business. Let’s dive straight in.

What’s your goal?

It’s a simple question which for many people, proves difficult to answer. Many organisations we speak to have a social media presence because they think they should, but they don’t really know what they’re trying to achieve from it or what they should expect from it – and that’s a problem. If you don’t know why you’re doing social media, how do you know if what you are posting is helping or hindering your objectives. For our new start-up, Secret Think Tank, our goals are to increase brand awareness and generate registrations for the platform before the launch. With that in mind, we can now tailor our posts accordingly and build a strategy to maximise the reach of our posts to improve brand awareness.

Who is your target audience?

The chances are that you’ll want to target your ideal customer or at least, the person with the decision-making ability with regards to purchases.  The last thing you’ll want to do is publish a stack of posts giving them the hard sell so you’ll need to think about the interests, the values and the challenges that they have and how that coincides with your products or services. Think about how you can relate to your target audience and most importantly, how you can add value to your target audience. It’s important at this stage to also figure out where they hang out. There’s little point having a LinkedIn strategy if for example, you’re trying to sell to teenagers. But don’t be presumptuous about this. Go and do your research. Hang out on a range of platforms and find which ones work best for your brand.

What is your brand persona?

Now you might think we’re starting to get all “agency” on you, but this is a very important point. Your company will be defined to the online world by how you come across on social media. If your business is always posting negative things, you’ll come across as a negative company. If your posts are short and devoid of personality, that’s how your company will come across on social media. Think about your brand values and how you want to be perceived by your followers and make a sustained effort to adhere to that in every post you deliver.

How can you integrate your social media into the wider marketing strategy?

If you’ve got hundreds of thousands of followers, you’ll probably find that social media is a strong sales tool in its own right. But if you’re not that lucky, then you’ll need to think about how your social media fits into the bigger picture. How can social media be used to complement your sales and other marketing activities? Where does it sit in the process? How can you maximise the value of social media to your business, day in day out?

What’s your growth strategy?

Starting off with zero followers and no social media posts on your wall can be pretty daunting, so how are you going to get through the first few months and build a sizeable following that starts to deliver value to your business? There’s no doubt that in the beginning at least, you’ll need to allocate a decent amount of money to run social media advertising campaigns. If you’re a social media newcomer, that might come as a surprise. After all, social media is free… right? Sorry to burst your bubble, but that’s a bit of a myth. Sure you can post for free, but if you want to reach anyone outside of your friends, family and work colleagues, you’ll need to pay.

There’s typically three types of campaign  you might want to run – (i) increase the number of followers (ii) drive traffic to your website or (iii) maximise engagement with your audience. Whether you choose one, two or all three of those options and how you split your social media budget between them will all depend on the answer to the first question – “what’s your goal?”

 

So there’s 5 things to consider before you even tap a hashtag into your keyboard. I’m sure there’s more. Can you think of any? If so, let us know and we’ll publish the best ones on a second blog and give you credit for them.

Thanks for reading and if you’ve find this article useful, don’t forget to share.

Chris Mayfield

CEO of businesshands

Founder of Secret Think Tank

How to write a killer introductory email pitch

If you’re like me, you probably receive upwards of 10 introductory emails or LinkedIn messages every day pitching all manner of product and services. Do you read any of them? Probably not. I know for a fact that most of mine don’t even get opened because of the email subject line and those emails that do, rarely get read below the first line. That’s not because I don’t need their products or services. In fact, in the time it takes me to hit the delete key I probably don’t even know what half of them are selling. The point is – they are selling and I don’t want to take time out of my busy day to be sold to.

And that’s a problem. What if you or I want to use an email pitch to reach out to relative strangers and stoke up new business? Is email dead? Should we give up before we even start? Not so fast. You see, out of the hundreds of unsolicited emails which arrive in my inbox every month – very rarely, one does catch my attention and I do go onto (i) read it and (ii) take action. So what makes this rare email pitch different from all the others? Here’s a few observations, which if followed – are much more likely to lead to your email being picked up and read.

Get Personal

Blanket, impersonal, generic emails are of no interest to anyone. If you are sending volumes of unsolicited emails (i.e. spam) – don’t. Respect your receiver. Learn a bit about the person, their role and their business through their LinkedIn profile. Be sure to demonstrate that you have spent time doing this in your email. It shows a more considered approach.

It’s not me, it’s you

Here’s a golden rule about introductory emails. It’s not about your products or services, it’s about your reader’s problems and their pain points. If you’ve not spent time understanding the trigger point which makes people think “I need to buy one of those…” about your product or service – do it now. Make everything in your email about their pain and how you can take that away.

Cut the Crap

Have you ever read an email and thought “I don’t even understand what this is about”?  I had a sales email the other day exactly like that. In fact, it was one of the few emails that made me read past the first line, purely because it made no sense whatsoever and I was intrigued to understand how bad the email could get (it actually motivated me to write this). The bottom line is – cut the jargon, the over familiarity and the clichés and tell it how it is. Your reader will appreciate the normality and honestly of what they’re reading.

Don’t do the Loop

There’s a common thought process in sales, that the more you contact someone, the more likely they are to buy from you and to an extent that’s true. However, some very lazy people are taking this to the extreme and simply setting up repetitive, automated email loops containing four or five messages, hoping that at some point the recipient will finally break down and buy (or cry). DON’T DO THIS. WANT TO KNOW WHY? Your domain will be blacklisted. Take a look in your spam filter and you’ll probably see hundreds of emails from people putting this lazy practice into practice. Why are they in your spam folder? Because their domain has been listed as junk. Do you want to risk all of the emails addresses in your entire organisation being listed as junk? If you are sending out junk you deserve to be classed as junk so don’t take the risk.

Size Matters

When we work with clients to create an email pitch, they often want to squeeze every last possible bit of information they can think of into a message. Who they are, how long they’ve been going, why they’re great, what they offer, what this means, who else they’ve done it for, what else they might be able to do and an infinite number of ways they can be contacted. Your recipient has no time or interest in this. All they want to know is what’s in it for them… and rightly so.  Keep your email pitch short, simple and to the point. Here’s quite an extreme example of a good message that does the trick:

Dear <name> . I notice that you <demonstrate you know who they are> . We help companies do <value add> .  We could <explain exactly how you could improve their circumstance> . Would you be Ok with me dropping you a phone call at some point this week to tell you a bit more / demonstrate our product?

I look forward to hearing back from you shortly,

Provide an Incentive

If you want to add extra spice to your email, try adding a time-limited incentive. Maybe the reader can get a free upgrade to the next service package. Maybe they’ll get entered into a prize draw or receive a tempting discount. The choice of incentive is up to you. Just make sure it’s something that will motivate the recipient to take action. The offer of a free “consultation” is about as popular as a leaky pen.

Be Precise

As I’ve shown in the short email example above, be precise. There’s a temptation with emails to write an elaborate play on words, a war and peace email showcasing your literary prowess. But every unnecessary word your type is taking the reader’s focus away from your message. Be precise in what you’re offering and be precise in what you want. Leave the storytelling for your blogs and other extra-curricular activities.

That’s all from me for now. If you like this article, please share it and if you need help with any area of your marketing, drop us a call today on 0207 458 4788.

5 Social Media Myths Debunked

Most organisations now have at least a skeleton presence on social media. For many though, social media is not quite working out how they thought. Is your organisation one of them? If you are struggling to find the value in your social media activities, it could be because you’ve fallen victim to one of these common social media myths… take a look.

The more followers you have the greater the success

This is probably the most common misconception about social media… that more followers = more results but that couldn’t be more wrong. This myth has given rise to a whole industry selling bundles of instant followers to boost your count and drive results. The reality is though, there’s no point in having any followers unless they’re going to interact with your posts and engage with your brand. The bundles of instant followers you see for sale are fake. Having 10 high quality followers is far more powerful than having 10,000 fake followers who don’t do anything at all. Engagement is the name of the game when it comes to social media. Your social media activity forms part of your customer journey. You need to incite action (either a like, a click through to a website, a share, a ‘buy it now’, a ‘call now’, or an enquiry).

And whilst you may think it doesn’t do any harm to buy a few thousand instant followers to make your profile look good, doing so will affect your ability to measure the success of your activity… and if you can’t measure the success of your marketing, how do you know if you’re spending your time and your money wisely.

You need to have a presence on every platform

We’ve covered this in a few posts recently but it’s an important point. Don’t waste time advertising in places where your customers won’t be. B2B companies tend to do well on LinkedIn, Twitter and surprising for some – Instagram. For B2C, replace LinkedIn with Facebook. But don’t take our word for it. Go and explore each social platform yourself. Are there brands similar to yours on that platform that are doing well? Are there people you would like to target, hanging out on these platforms. If you can’t decide whether a social platform will be good for your business, the best thing to do is dive in and give it a go. Put a 1 month, high visibility strategy in place and measure the benefits. This could be an increase in website visitors, enquiries or sales.

The key is not to make assumptions about your audience and where they might hang out. Here’s a few businesses you might not expect to do well on their chosen social media but they do.

Instagram

Biltwell (bike parts):                        https://www.instagram.com/biltwell/

King Arthur Flour:                             https://www.instagram.com/kingarthurflour/

Facebook

Mabel’s Labels (stationary):         https://www.facebook.com/Mabelhood

Brian Bilston (poetry):                   https://www.facebook.com/BrianBilston/

LinkedIn:

Farm and Stable Suppliers            https://www.linkedin.com/company/10342445

The Sausage Man                             https://www.linkedin.com/company/5343033

Twitter:

Severn Trent (utilities)                   https://twitter.com/stwater

Charmin (loo roll!)                           https://twitter.com/Charmin

Social media is not a sales tool

Ok, ok, there is some truth in this. But if you’re expecting to push out a few tweets and have the phone ringing off the hook or be inundated with orders, think again. Social media is a sales tool however, if you put a strategy in place and build it into your sales process and customer journey. Think about how your clients currently buy from you. The chances are they come through your website, right? If that’s the case, how do you get more people to visit your website? Through social media of course. But you’ll need to get creative. Social media offers so much more than simply the ability to push out post after post. Think about paid advertising campaigns, sponsored content connected to landing pages… what about a competition or a direct messaging campaign either through LinkedIn or Twitter? There are hundreds of ways to use the social media platforms to engage with your target audience… and as we mentioned before, engagement is the name of the game.

You can put all of your posts into a scheduler on a Monday morning and then forget about it for the week.

So this follows on from our point above. The more time and effort you put into social media, the more it will deliver for your business. Working with SMEs, we occasionally have to compete with social media freelancers for clients and typically they come in at about ¼ of the price. Now that might sound like a good deal to you, but if all they’re doing is putting a few posts in a scheduler once a week, you won’t be getting value for money. Stacking a couple of posts per day into a scheduler and ignoring it for the rest of the week is akin to standing in a shop doorway and occasionally commenting on the world or shouting out the occasional offer. It’s not an effective way to do business. Far better is to get amongst your customers, get involved in their conversations, grow brand awareness and build relationships. That’s when social media begins to deliver value to a business.

It’s impossible to measure the benefit to your business of social media

One of the core principles of successful marketing is measurement. It doesn’t matter if it’s door to door leaflet drops, a Google AdWords campaign, an email newsletter or your social media. So what should you be measuring when it comes to social media marketing? Well, that all depends on what the point of your social media is. If you’re posting blindly to your social media pages without a strategy and a set of objectives, you won’t have a great deal to go on… and furthermore, your social media won’t be very successful. First, think about what you want to achieve (brand awareness, a click through to a website, a share, a ‘buy it now’, a ‘call now’, or an enquiry). Next think about how you’ll be able to measure this metric. Take a measurement now, before it all starts. Finally, develop a strategy to help you achieve your goals and put it in play. Measure regularly and modify / fine tune your strategy as and when necessary.

With these 5 social media myths debunked, hopefully you’ll save time and money and getting better results from your marketing efforts in future. Here’s one last myth we should probably debunk. Social media isn’t free. You might frown at this as you sit there regularly posting on your favourite social media platform without paying a penny, but if you want to promote your organisation through a social media strategy, you will need to spend money on paid social advertising campaigns to see any kind of success.

If this all sounds a bit complicated or confusing… or you just don’t have the time or the skillset within your organisation to make your social media work, contact a member of the businesshands team today on 0207 458 4788 or email us at info@businesshands.co.uk.

PS: Don’t forget to share this post if you’ve found it useful.