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Manage your social media community before it begins to manage you. This is good advice if you’re building your social media presence and intend to use it as a useful marketing tool and a source of information for your audience including potential customers. A dedicated social media presence takes time and requires daily attention and some planning. Don’t feel you need a presence on all social media accounts, especially if your resources and time are limited (Do you really need that Pinterest account?), but narrow down the key ones to a manageable few and make a concerted effort on those. It’s better to do a few channels well than a lot poorly. Here’s some other key tips to help you save time and be more effective. Implement a content management plan A proactive social media presence requires a solid content marketing plan. Your audience will respond more positively if your content is well thought out and timely. It doesn’t need to be complicated. Maybe call it an editorial calendar and identify key dates, events, holidays or seasons. Work out a monthly plan and break it down into weeks. Is there a specific theme for the month? Is it a holiday or a summer related activity you wish to promote? Try and mix up your content so it’s not too repetitive but make sure it’s all relevant.  Indicate which platform it will be posted on and what external resources are required e.g. images, video etc. Identify your clear target audience for each post and keep them in mind when you create the content. social media Use a social media management platform There are various tools that help you manage multiple social media accounts and platforms. Some of these include Hootsuite, SproutSocial and TweetDeck. There are others but these are three popular suites that can integrate your Twitter, Facebook and LinkedIn accounts (and others), enable posting to different accounts from one central dashboard, view numerous feeds and schedule posts in advance, which can be a lifesaver. These tools also have the added advantage of giving you metrics of all your accounts in one place like your reach and levels of engagement. SproutSocial also has a nifty service called Landscape for resizing an image beautifully for each social media platform. Practice social media listening Social listening is the art of listening in to conversations taking place and being willing to engage or join in the conversations. If you’re not monitoring your accounts then you will be missing out on important feedback and insights into your community and customers. It’s important to note that many customers may not say exactly what they feel directly to you or on your page; their criticism may be on an anonymous page or competitor profile. Put simply, you need to expand your efforts in just looking in the obvious places for feedback. The above companies also incorporate social media monitoring into their tools where you can monitor sentiment and search for key words or terms. Put simply, there’s no point in engaging in a social media marketing effort if you’re not going to monitor and interact with your audience. Image copyrights: rvlsoft / 123RF Stock Photo and 2nix / 123RF Stock Photo
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ListeningSo you’ve gone to the trouble and expense of setting up your social media platforms and engaging in a content marketing program to share topical content you believe will be of interest. But what do your customers really think of you? For some time now we’ve seen and heard of examples of individuals causing quite a storm with seemingly localised complaints or comments which have caught fire and resonated far and wide. But it’s important to note that many customers may not say exactly what they feel directly to you or on your page; their criticism may be on an anonymous page or competitor profile. Put simply, you need to expand your efforts in just looking in the obvious places for feedback. Social listening is the art of listening in to conversations taking place and being willing to engage or join in the conversations. There are several good social listening and monitoring platforms available including from iSentia, Meltwater and Hootsuite. These platforms set up correctly can give you an accurate and real-time indication of the sentiment being displayed towards you and your brand, and identify the key influencers and sceptics. Conversations can be monitored by channel and interacted with in the appropriate way and priorities identified. Social factors are also very important in ranking algorithms for search. With the right tools you can listen in multiple languages, geo-locate your searches to be where your audience is, use conversation maps to monitor emerging trends and keywords, filter out unwanted noise, and quickly identify key influencers. Successful social companies are already contacting disgruntled customers with a possible solution before they have the opportunity to become militant. Airlines, like Qantas and Virgin, are becoming adept at this and addressing many issues at the point of frustration and in real time. Needless to say I find it often easier and quicker to get a Twitter response from Telstra these days than trying the call centre.glad-wrap_300 Glad Australia recently had no choice to but to listen with a wave of backlash over their ill-considered decision to change the cutter on their cling wrap product. Instead of tearing in a downward motion, like we’ve done for decades, Glad decided to change the cutter to the top of the box thereby forcing users to pull up. It just didn’t make sense and infuriated many including yours truly. A back-flip has ensued and common-sense prevailed with Glad soon reverting to the original design. Phew! Thanks for listening.
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SOCIAL media is no longer the sole domain of teenagers looking to comment on their friends’ status updates. It is now firmly entrenched in the fabric of corporate communications and is fast becoming the number one avenue to engage with stakeholders on a very real and authentic level.

We at Villain Designs and RG Communications integrate social as one of the main tools we provide clients looking to gain an edge in communicating with target audiences and boosting brand awareness. In an online world, it provides a seamless lilypad between a client’s website, electronic direct marketing and more. It also serves as fantastic support to offline marketing and has really changed how we as communication designers approach creating meaningful methods for brands to listen and engage.

Award winning global brand agency Landor Associates recently posted their forecast for 2015’s trends and it was interesting to read trend number four, which aligns with our view on social being a really integral B2B tool going forward, and we think they couldn’t have put it any better:

“Move over millennials and consumer brands—the B2B world is fast realizing the usefulness of social media. After all, business is and always has been about building relationships. And what better way to make connections, discover potential clients, share white papers, and engage with communities, stakeholders, and NGOs than on LinkedIn, Twitter, and other dynamic platforms?”

“These tools will become increasingly powerful, go-to resources for the future of B2B. Leaping on this trend, global shipping container company Maersk has become a surprising Twitter darling, sharing news, inspiration, and stunning ship-in-action photos with its 112,000-plus followers, resulting in greater brand awareness and reputation.”

So when you’re looking to kick-start 2015 with a new approach to communicating with stakeholders, don’t count social out by relegating it to the realm of ‘child’s play’ or ‘irrelevant tech fad’. If set up correctly with the commitment to follow through and with consistent professional effort, your content marketing and social policy could drive your brand into the 21st century reaping untapped success for your business.

Quote source: www.landor.com

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iStock_000034138194_1000x666As the digital media revolution has gained full steam in the last 10 years we’ve witnessed the ‘rise of the blogger’ across many areas of interest but none more so than in the world of travel. Where once some key TV, newspaper and magazine travel editors dominated the travel media pack, along with some experienced freelance writers, today some of the most influential voices in travel are those armed with nothing more than a laptop and smartphone. By setting up their own travel blogs, Facebook, Instagram and Twitter accounts, some keen travellers are now earning their keep as influential voices in travel with large numbers of loyal followers. Often referred to by marketing types as ‘influencers’, these bloggers are now as much as anyone the place for keen travellers to get travel information, recommendations and hopefully, independent opinion. So what does this mean for your travel business? If you’re simply not engaging with them then you’re missing out on a golden opportunity to put your product in front of many prospective visitors. If you’re not engaging with them properly then you almost certainly won’t be maximizing the benefit. Be aware, some of the better bloggers have followings in their tens of thousands – more than many magazines – and their content is going to have greater longevity online and through their personal endorsement. Do your research on who the blogger is and in particular look for their numbers of followers on their various digital platforms and by all means request that of the blogger when dealing with them. They should be upfront about their follower numbers if they are serious. Also look for a good level of interaction from their followers by way of comments and shares. You may not be willing or able to support all requests but you need to treat them seriously and do your homework. If you’re going to host them, treat them as you would any media VIP and give them the best and most authentic experience possible. It will be reflected in their posts about their visit and also lead to you being referred to again by them in the future. Use your social media assets to thank them for visiting and share their stories about you to your own followers. Make sure you let them know what your social media accounts are in advance so they can be included in their posts. Many tourism businesses and regions are actively pursuing bloggers and dedicated Instagrammers as part of their PR programs and creating special opportunities for them. Some major familiarisation programs have been created in Queensland and around Australia providing perfect story and photo opportunities. Often renowned as Australia’s top travel bloggers are Caz and Craig Makepeace from yTravel Blog who are in the midst of a year long around Australia trip with their young family. Check them out and see how they’re setting the standard.  
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