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Inbound Marketing Age

The content manager's guide to GIFs

Written by Keith Errington  |  29, July, 2015  |  0 Comments  Subscribe

The GIF image format is making a comeback. While you may not have heard of the format until now, it is, in fact, one of the oldest image formats on the web. If you had noticed it, it was probably when some annoying small, brief animated cartoon popped up on the page you were browsing. But now that Pinterest, Twitter and Facebook have all introduced support for the format it's time to work out what it is and how best to use it.

GIF stands for Graphic Interchange Format – an image format introduced by CompuServe in 1987 for use on their bulletin board system – so it’s nearly 30 years old. There is actually some controversy around how the name GIF is actually pronounced. The creators of the format intended it to be pronounced with a soft g – so "jif" – whereas using a hard g – "gif" – is in widespread use. The GIF format has several features that were fairly unique at the time, and even today they are not found together in any other format:
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The ultimate social media checklist before you post [infographic]

Written by Keith Errington  |  21, May, 2015  |  0 Comments  Subscribe

When writing an article for a blog or posting to a social media channel, there are many things you need to think about before you post. And you need to make sure that your post is not going to end up having a negative impact on the organisation or brand.

In fact there are so many things to check, it would be helpful if you had a social media checklist. So we've created one for you. Introducing The Ultimate Social Media Post Checklist.

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The power of the employee advocate

Written by Keith Errington  |  21, April, 2015  |  0 Comments  Subscribe

So you want to market your company. You’ve heard about this thing called social media and something else called content publishing and you like the fact that they seem to be pretty much free.

But who’s going to actually do the work?

Well, you could employ or co-opt a young intern who is completely at home with social media, you could outsource the work to an agency, or you could train an existing marketing professional to manage the channels.

Now each of these has potential flaws. But what if you could harness the power of your entire workforce? What if they could all become ambassadors for your company?

Not only does this give you a way to manage your social media marketing and content creation, it massively amplifies your presence and it draws on the DNA that sets your company apart.

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Sex, lies and B2B marketing

Written by Keith Errington  |  10, April, 2015  |  0 Comments  Subscribe

Firstly, I should state that this blog post has no sex in it whatsoever. 

None.

Sorry.

Are you disappointed? Annoyed even? Well this is how most readers react when marketers lie or, shall we say, exaggerate or "tweak" the truth. And once you disappoint your customer there is no going back.

In this article I am going to talk about the lies that B2B marketers tell and why the truth is a better approach.

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How B2B web video takes a step up with a Meerkat or a Periscope

Written by Keith Errington  |  27, March, 2015  |  0 Comments  Subscribe

Over the history of the Internet we have seen countless social media networks launched, blossom, and in many cases, fall by the wayside. In the past five years alone we have seen the launch of Instagram (2010), Pinterest (2010), Snapchat (2011), Google+ (2011), Vine (2012) and Ello (2014) – to name the more well-known entrants to the market.

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B2B marketers: Stop selling and start being useful!

Written by Keith Errington  |  11, March, 2015  |  0 Comments  Subscribe

Traditionally B2B marketing has been viewed as fundamentally different to B2C marketing with different strategies, methods and implementation. Nowhere is this clearer than in a recent report from Salesforce where the top 5 areas for increased spending for B2C and B2B marketers show a completely different focus.

Those 5 areas - as seen below - seem to indicate that the main focus for B2B (with the honourable exception of content marketing) is on sales and advertising. This seems rather old school and doesn’t take account of the modern trend away from interruption marketing.

It’s a sales-led approach that results in lead generation but that does not necessarily follow-through to sales and long term customer relationships.

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Social Media: 12 tips to prevent problem posts

Written by Keith Errington  |  9, February, 2015  |  0 Comments  Subscribe

If you’ve been following this blog, you’ll see that we’ve been taking you through the steps required for the successful use of social media, from developing a strategy through to the nuts and bolts of making a post.

So we’re ready to post some stuff – right? Nope. There’s one very important thing left to do – think!

Social media not only has the unfortunate capacity to remember your ill-thought out post, but also to spread it far and wide. Post something problematic and the Internet will ensure it’s preserved forever to haunt your dreams and remind you of that fateful day.

So it’s vitally important you do everything you can to mitigate that risk.

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Five big marketing ideas for 2015

Written by Keith Errington  |  3, February, 2015  |  0 Comments  Subscribe

At this time of year it is traditional for bloggers to look back over the previous year or make predictions about the coming year.

Well, predictions may or may not come true, and many seem to originate from one specialist’s particular point of view – so their usefulness is often questionable.

So instead of making predictions or reviewing the year, in this post I’m going to look at five big marketing ideas for 2015 – five things to think about, five ideas to inspire and to influence your thinking. Five big, useful, ideas.

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Social Media Posting Best Practice Insights

Written by Keith Errington  |  6, January, 2015  |  0 Comments  Subscribe

In previous posts we have looked at strategy, monitoring, engagement and content; in this week’s post we are looking at the actual business of social media posting – insights into best practice along with tips and tricks related to the practical issues of how and when.

First, let's look at some generic advice for all social networks:

Complete your profile

Whatever social media network you are posting on, take time to complete your profile. A brief description is essential – make sure it tells potential followers what subjects you are going to cover and give them good reasons to follow you.

Include a good image of yourself or a corporate logo – depending on whether you are taking an individual or corporate approach. If there is scope for a banner image – make sure it’s a quality image and one that conveys a message – either subtly or explicitly.

Include links to an appropriate page on your web site and contact details. Don’t miss these last items out as many people will find your social media profile in a search engine when looking to contact (= potentially buy from) you.

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Two minute guide to curating content

Written by Keith Errington  |  13, December, 2014  |  0 Comments  Subscribe

Social media can be used as a platform to establish authority and enhance your standing with clients. One of the key ways to do this is to share content that is useful or inspiring.

Some of this content you can create and publish yourself of course, but it is also great to highlight stories, news, and blog posts from the web that you think would strike a chord with your audience. So how do you find them? And more importantly, how do you find them without it taking every waking hour?

Here are a few tools to help you with curating content.

Alltop

Alltop was created by Guy Kawasaki to help discover what’s happening in areas that interest you. It is similar to a search engine but is more focused on fresh and authoritative content like blogs grouped into categories and sorted by the most popular posts of the moment that are being viewed and shared by others.

Arguably Guy has done a significant part of the curating job for you and it is now up to you to collect the right sections from the platform and compile your own personal ‘Alltop’ from which to draw inspiration. Highly recommended!

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Mastering social media: the rules of engagement

Written by Keith Errington  |  8, December, 2014  |  0 Comments  Subscribe

Social media is a two way street – a platform for conversations. It is possible to post, blog, tweet and publish without engagement of course, but that kind of misses the point.

So how do you engage? When do you engage? When is it best not to engage? And how do you encourage engagement?

Encouraging engagement

Let’s deal with that last one first. Nobody seems to be engaging with your wonderful posts – how can we change that?

Sometimes fans and followers just need a little help.

Questions & Polls

People like showing off their knowledge and they also like to feel they make a difference, so serious market research style questions can not only encourage engagement but they may also provide valuable insights into what the market wants.

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6 valuable web monitoring tips for effective social listening

Written by Keith Errington  |  26, November, 2014  |  2 Comments  Subscribe


The first task of any social media day – whether it’s your first step into social media or you are an old hand – should always be listening – monitoring the conversation.

Now there are many choices of software for monitoring social networks, blogs and news – from simple free tools, to highly sophisticated and highly expensive intelligence gathering systems – but they all share one thing in common; they are so often used just to spot simple mentions of a brand, product or organisation.

This is a criminal waste of software and fails to make use of the huge business intelligence resource that the Internet represents.

Here are six web monitoring tips to improve your social listening:

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B2B Social Media – 10 lessons from a space mission

Written by Keith Errington  |  19, November, 2014  |  0 Comments  Subscribe

Unless you have been living in a cave recently, you cannot help but know about the outstanding achievement of the European Space Agency (ESA) in landing a probe on a comet speeding through space, more than 300 million miles from Earth.

The Rosetta mission is the result of collaboration between teams of 50 contractors in from 14 European countries and the US, and British high-tech space industry companies* were used to build many of Rosetta’s systems.

Rosetta is a ten year mission which launched in 2004, and was woken from hibernation mode earlier this year. Then in the past week it’s lander – Philae – left Rosetta and landed on the target comet 67P/Churyumov–Gerasimenko.

You may have heard it in the news, in the papers or in social media – or in all of these. And although it is a major news story, the depth of impact and the nature of the story that’s being told is the result of a great marketing campaign.

So how does a box of high-tech hardware grab the World’s attention? Here are ten B2B social media lessons we can draw from this success:

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What's your social media strategy?

Written by Keith Errington  |  21, October, 2014  |  0 Comments  Subscribe

Social media is used by people for many things; some tweet about the music they are playing, some post to Facebook about what meal they just ate, bloggers write about the smallest of plot details in an obscure TV series, and Pinterest users post recipes containing beetroot.

What has this got to do with business you ask? Absolutely nothing. And that’s really my point. You can tweet, post, blog and pin about anything under the sun, so what you really need is a plan, a direction – a strategy – to ensure your social media activity serves the business and delivers real return on investment.

Marketing strategy

It should not be surprising that your social media strategy should fit with your overall marketing strategy.

The best strategies are integrated strategies – almost all the big successful campaigns of recent years have been integrated across many different communication channels. One of the biggest, and most famous is the Compare the Meerkat campaign – wonderfully integrating, TV, radio, posters, social media, PR and sales promotion to great effect.

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WANTED: Social Media Superhero

Written by Keith Errington  |  10, October, 2014  |  0 Comments  Subscribe

Social Media is a unique communications channel. In previous posts I’ve talked about it being more than just marketing – a combination of marketing, PR, customer service, research and more.

I suggested that an organisation has to recognise the multi-dimensional impact of Social Media on its business.

And I recommended that an organisation should employ a multi-discipline, Social Media Manager.

So who is this extraordinary person and what qualities, skills, competencies and knowledge should such a superhero possess?

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Social media: What's your policy?

Written by Keith Errington  |  8, September, 2014  |  0 Comments  Subscribe

One of the great liberating things about social media as a communications channel is that anyone can do it. But, for a business this is both a blessing and a curse.

It’s a curse because any of your employees could be using social media in a way that does not benefit the business or even worse, in a way that may be sabotaging it.

On the other hand it’s a blessing, as all those employees could be a collective force for good – adding significantly to the marketing effort and engaging directly with customers and prospects, providing an authentic voice for the company.

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What qualities do thought leaders bring to their business blogs?

Written by Eric Swain  |  5, August, 2014  |  0 Comments  Subscribe

Anna Lawlor, journalist and co-founder of Social i Media, gives her interpretation of the term "thought leadership" and what it takes to become a proponent in your field.

Thought leadership is a term that is often bandied around in the content marketing field so Anna, what do you define as thought leadership and how do you deal with clients who are interested in becoming a "thought leader", out of the blue?

Quite a lot of people either think they are thought leaders (often self-determined) or would like to be. I’m a bit uncomfortable with the term "thought leadership" because there’s a danger of it just being another mindless piece of business jargon. What does thought leader actually mean?

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Social Media – it’s not just marketing

Written by Keith Errington  |  3, June, 2014  |  0 Comments  Subscribe

I’ve introduced social media to a lot of people over the past few years and one thing has struck me time and time again; the number of organisations that approach it as a marketing channel only. They are used to dealing with other types of communication channels such as print advertising, posters, radio, TV, newsletters and the like – all of which are purely marketing channels. They are principally one-way communications and they usually fit neatly within the remit of the marketing department.

But social media is radically different – not just different – but RADICALLY different. It isn’t just a marketing tool and you cannot restrict it to just a marketing tool. Trying to treat it as such and ignoring the other aspects WILL actually harm your marketing efforts.

Likewise – some organisations approach social media from the point of view of customer service – but again, it’s not just a customer service channel.

This multi-faceted nature creates a number of problems for an organisation and its social media management.

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If you haven't anything useful to say... don't! A John Lee interview

Written by Eric Swain  |  6, March, 2014  |  0 Comments  Subscribe

John Lee talks about the power of visual content in social marketing, the importance of quality content rather than quantity, and why - just occasionally - it's alright to opt for social silence!

So John, you've given us (in part 1) two clear messages about encouraging people to interact with your social content, around planning and integration into your marketing mix and also, very much about your "social" tone.  What's next - what else should we be thinking about?

So once you’ve established what social means for your organisation and have understood that it’s not about you, and your tone’s set up, I think the next thing you need to look at is how you present your content.

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Social must be integrated into your marketing mix: John Lee interview

Written by Eric Swain  |  13, February, 2014  |  0 Comments  Subscribe

Do you share links to your website or blog and wonder why no-body clicks on them?

John Lee, Head of Social Marketing at Webtrends (update: John is now a Brand Strategist at Twitter), offers some great insights for B2B marketers on how to you get your content noticed in amongst the 500 million tweets a day.

John, regarding your blog post on this subject, did it come about as a result of some research that you’d done or just observations you’ve made over the years?

It’s a little bit of both – we’ve done a lot of research in terms of looking closely at our own social channels and finding out what really leads people to engage and repeatedly engage – so not just that “first click” but what makes that click more meaningful in the long term. And also, we’ve been able to look at other industry leaders, particularly in B2B digital marketing, and to look at what kind of patterns they’re seeing; it seems to be a trend that’s pretty consistent across the industry.

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Social marketing for law firms: an interview with Paul Hutchinson

Written by Eric Swain  |  20, January, 2014  |  0 Comments  Subscribe

Paul Hutchinson discusses how marketing for law firms, using social marketing to communicate with clients transparently and authentically, have found a winning marketing mix.

So Paul, can you start by explaining a little bit about your background?

I work for Black Letter PR, helping legal professionals develop their current communication methods. As the legal sector is becoming more and more consumer focused, we are finding increasingly that law firms want to engage with their clients via modern channels such as social media.

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Social media management and the law

Written by Eric Swain  |  2, January, 2014  |  0 Comments  Subscribe

Consultant employment solicitor Michael Sissons at Cubism Law talks here about how to avoid legal and HR nightmares around employees use of social media for business, by getting your procedures right before you hire people.

Michael, we have been looking recently the growing importance of social media skills in the workplace, and wanted to talk to you about some of the issues arising as social media comes more to the fore, and get your take on some of the legal or contractual requirements that are popping up in your world.

When you say legal requirements, one has to break that down a little bit, and it depends what area we are talking about.

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The rising need for social media skills: an interview with Steve Ward

Written by Eric Swain  |  4, December, 2013  |  0 Comments  Subscribe

Seemingly no aspect of business these days is untouched by social media; Steve Ward of Cloud Nine Recruitment, who specialises in placing social media and digital talent, talks here about the growing demand for social media skills in all areas of business.

Can we talk about the changing roles and responsibilities in today’s workplace and focus on some of the skills that are increasingly being required by employers. Have you seen a rise in the requirement for social media skills?

Yes, definitely. Three and a half years ago, when I first looked into this area, it was still a very specialised skill set, a niche within marketing and communications - that “weird bloke or weird girl in the corner” on Twitter and Facebook. Increasingly now, generic marketing, creative and PR roles are incorporating these skills. I would take that even further into the areas of HR and recruitment. So many more customer-facing roles have social media skills as a requirement these days.

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How to really manage your LinkedIn Groups

Written by Kirstine Storey  |  27, November, 2013  |  0 Comments  Subscribe

In May 2013, LinkedIn reported that it had 1.5 million Groups. LinkedIn insiders now put the figure at over 2 million. There are Groups for just about every brand, business discipline and professional interest under the sun, and any LinkedIn member – including you - can start one.

But what's the key to effectively managing these communities in order to ensure that dialogue within them is interesting, influential and informative? Light touch or firm hand on the tiller? High visibility or strictly background presence? Proactive intervention or a “keep your distance” philosophy? We explored the views of LinkedIn Group managers to give you some helpful guidance.

Group tips from the LinkedIn frontline

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The lure of LinkedIn for effective B2B online marketing

Written by Jeremy Knight  |  20, November, 2013  |  0 Comments  Subscribe

When we hear the term “social media”, many tend to think instinctively of the giants that deliver and dominate the world's everyday online conversations – Facebook, Twitter and now Google+. After all, we make extensive use of these platforms in our personal and our professional lives, both as consumers and publishers.

But, the frontrunner in the B2B social media space isn't any of the sites mentioned above. Instead, it's the rather more serious and business-like LinkedIn.  And when you look into its killer demographics, you see why. Steve Rayson's recent slideshare puts LinkedIn's membership at 250 million, 69% of whom are in the higher-income decision-making bracket, and 79% of whom are 35 or older. It's hardly Facebook, is it?

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What a Social Media Agency Shouldn't Do: Mark Jennings Interviewed

Written by Eric Swain  |  18, November, 2013  |  0 Comments  Subscribe

In part two of his interview (see part one), Mark Jennings tells us to watch out for clueless agencies masquerading as social media specialists, that campaigns work best in social media when you involve your community before and afterwards, and how the best agencies help their clients learn to do things for themselves.

Mark, do you have a view on traditional marketing or advertising agencies calling themselves social business agencies?

I think that as an agency one of the key things you’re looking for is to standout. Everybody is creative, everybody is perhaps integrated, everybody has great people, everybody is all of these great things. Agencies that spend a lot of time thinking about positioning for clients are often terrible at positioning themselves.

It doesn’t surprise me people want to call themselves “social business” or “social consulting.” I don’t like the word social media any more than anybody else, but from a cold hearted business perspective, social media is a line on a balance sheet as far as I’m concerned. If somebody wants to call it that or call it social business or social consulting, or whatever else, I don’t mind as long as we’re having a realistic and frank conversation about things that can actually be achieved. The nomenclature for it doesn’t bother me.

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Things to know before hiring an agency for your social media campaign

Written by Kirstine Storey  |  7, November, 2013  |  0 Comments  Subscribe

Our own Eric Swain is the co-host (with Ann Hawkins) of a weekly podcast called The Social Media Show. We are providing transcripts of select shows.

Here, Mark Jennings joins Eric and Ann for one of the most listened to episodes of the show, Show 27, to answer questions about how businesses large and small engage an agency and run a social media campaign. This is part one of the interview. Find part two here.

So Mark, is it only big brands that use agencies or is it something that a small company could do?

I think that companies of any size could benefit from working with an agency but, of course, many agencies work best when there is a certain threshold of money involved, because they need a certain spend.  I guess it would depend very much on the specific thing you needed to do. The simple test for that is: do you have the skills in-house to do it? If not, then it’s worth looking externally.

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How To Not Write Crap Content: An Interview With Doug Kessler

Written by Eric Swain  |  28, October, 2013  |  0 Comments  Subscribe
Doug Kessler of Velocity Partners wrote an ebook earlier this year that hit home for many of us. In it he alerts us to the tidal wave of content that is drowning our audience and make our marketing irrelevant.

Doug, your ebook, Crap. The Content Marketing Deluge, addressed the flood of marketing content that is threatening to overwhelm us. Is this a problem?

It really is a problem. It’s also an opportunity. When digital-age content marketing was a fairly new trick, the early people had an advantage by being involved in it. So for our clients to do an e-book back then was a special thing; it was like, “Wow, they’ve published something about an issue that their prospects care about, without even pushing their products. And people came to them for it, and wasn’t that great?”

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Should Your CEO Be Tweeting?: An Interview with Neville Hobson

Written by Eric Swain  |  17, October, 2013  |  0 Comments  Subscribe

Our own Eric Swain is the co-host (with Ann Hawkins) of a weekly podcast called The Social Media Show. We are providing transcripts of select shows.

Neville Hobson joined Ann and me on the 5th episode to discuss the role an executive should play in social media and content creation. Neville is a consultant, blogger and podcaster.

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Ann Hawkins: Neville, in the second show that we did of this series, we had Euan Semple talking about the authenticity of content writing. He was talking about CEOs veering between, on one hand, where you admire them for having a go, but, on the other hand, where they’re as embarrassing as your dad having a dance at a disco and you just want them to stop.

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Why Social Business Matters Today: An Interview with Alan Moore

Written by Eric Swain  |  9, October, 2013  |  0 Comments  Subscribe
Our own Eric Swain is the co-host (with Ann Hawkins) of a weekly podcast called The Social Media Show. We are providing transcripts.

Alan Moore joined Eric and Ann on the 4th episode to discuss how organisations are creating social businesses by putting social technologies and practices at the heart of their operations and business models. Alan is the author of the book No Straight Lines: Making Sense of Our Non-Linear World and an international speaker and consultant.

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Eric Swain: I think the hypothesis that you have put forward in your book, Alan, is that society, which has been set up around, and for, an industrial world, no longer functions properly. So we are in a post-industrial world and we need to behave differently, is that what you’re saying?

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