Category Archives: Social Media

Social behaviour – tread softly…

Tread softly

I have spread my dreams under your feet                                Tread softly because you tread on my dreams                                         

W.B. Yeats

This is one of my favourite quotations, not only because it is excellent advice, but also because it is a pertinent reminder of just how fragile people are.

There seems to be an increasing acceptance of basic rudeness throughout our daily lives – in social media, online forums and discussions, at work and at play.  But it’s worth remembering that, regardless of how logical they may seem on the surface, people are basically driven by emotion. Which makes it just too easy to shatter dreams, whether those of a client, an employee or a colleague or a friend. 

This can be particularly destructive in the workplace where even a simple dream – perhaps a desire to learn, do well, be appreciated, contribute, be promoted, or just take pride in ones work – can be broken by a careless remark or, worse, ongoing inconsiderate behaviour.

And a worrying amount of dream-crushing is due to thoughtless behaviour, and is therefore both unnecessary and cruel.  Worse still, an insensitive act may, at heart, have nothing to do with the particular individual whose dream is being trampled. In too many cases, it can be the pressure of work or problems at home or inherent selfishness which cause inappropriate behaviour and slights to colleagues and direct reports.

Some of the signs of lack of consideration and respect include:

  • not listening
  • not saying please or thank you
  • talking over people in meetings or during presentations
  • being late for meetings or calls
  • an ill-considered put-down
  • insulting or rude behaviour
  • knowing better but not explaining why
  • always being right – even when wrong
  • ignoring others’ views and opinions
  • not bothering to communicate

This behaviour is impolite at best, unkind at worst, and, when ongoing, is extremely likely to lead to resentment and frustration.

People like to be well-thought of by people they admire.  So teaching, explaining, supporting and listening is far more likely to lead not only to enthusiasm and motivation, but also to genuine respect.

When dealing with people, it can often be helpful to flip things round 180 degrees before speaking or taking action.  Just a brief hop into the recipient’s shoes to consider their likely reaction helps with choosing the right message and even the words.  Of course it’s essential to understand what drives the individual in question so that the shoes actually fit…

This is particularly true when reviewing employees.  It’s quite feasible that a dream or ambition may need to be channelled or tempered  if it’s unrealistic in relation to an individual’s skill set.  This sort of issue obviously needs very careful handling with the ultimate aim of re-setting expectations.

But given that pride is such a key component of many human beings, this may not always be possible.  In which case, a botched attempt may be destructive both to the employee, the director or manager’s relationship with the employee, and, ultimately, the business.

It’s always worth remembering Dale Carnegie’s accurate observation:  When dealing with people, let us remember we are not dealing with creatures of logic. We are dealing with creatures of emotion, creatures bristling with prejudices and motivated by pride and vanity.

Whether you agree or disagree, or if you have a story to tell, just reply below and let’s start a conversation…

Victoria Tuffill – victoria@tuffillverner.co.uk   01787 277742 or  07967 148398.   Have a squint at  our website.  And yes, we’re on Linked In, and Twitter

Social media, email … and clownfish

The special relationship between social media and email is similar to that of  brightly-coloured clown fish and the sea anemone.  It’s quite straightforward … the anemone doesn’t sting the clown fish … the clown fish aggressively protects the sea anemone’s (and its own) territory.  The anemone catches and eats the food … the clown fish eats the leftovers – which in turn keeps their habitat clean.  And, because its fins fan furiously while it whizzes around, the clown fish also improves water circulation.  All in all, a very satisfactory relationship which allows improved survival of each party.

Social media and email 

Social media (such as LinkedIn, Facebook, Twitter, Google Plus, Pinterest and the like) and email marketing have an equally symbiotic relationship.  They both provide a means of sharing information in real time, through words, images, video, audio, links and attachments.  To be successful, both require strong communication skills and interesting content.

So whether you want to use email to improve engagement on your social media activity, or use social media to highlight your latest newsletter or article and encourage your audience to read it – each can be used to support the other very effectively.  And the end result is pure gold.  This article focuses on b2b, but the same is equally true of b2c which will be covered separately.

Using email to support social media – case study

For example, if you are trying to get a message across or generate engagement from your social media activity, you can achieve a terrific impact just by sending personal emails to your contacts, connections, friends, followers, circles etc.

Last week I ran a poll on a few LinkedIn groups – nothing mind-blowing, I just wanted to get a rough feel for the longevity of a mobile phone number in relation to ‘contactability’ for a client’s telemarketing campaign.

In one group I wrote a personal email to each of my 1st connections asking them to vote, comment and / or like.  The results so far are excellent, with a response rate of 94% in terms of 1st connection votes (within 5 days), of which 50% also commented and 15% shared.

In addition (or as a result) my LinkedIn profile was viewed 7 times more than normal, primarily by non-connections.  These views were of greater relevance to my goals than the normal visitors who drop by.  So the end result has been to gain not only information on a poll, but also high quality, relevant new connections.  And this was simply because I was able to use email to interact with my strongest connections, who, by being decent enough to respond and share, encouraged others to do so too.

94% of 1st connections voted, new profile views increased by 7 times, number of connections increased by 9.4 times

If implemented well, and as long as you don’t wear out your connections, friends, circles or followers, this tactic is effective across social media. It also benefits from being absolutely measurable, while increasing your reach, and driving that all-important engagement. Which takes you a long stride down that the path towards meeting your ultimate business objectives, whether they be as simple as brand awareness, information, charitable donations, sales, ROI or just contacts.

 Using social media to promote your email marketing

So, you’ve finally put together your email newsletter.  You’ve written, edited and/or uploaded the articles, included a couple of blogs, got your guest writer to write something meaningful, found some decent images or videos to support what you’re saying, written a case study or two – and it’s ready to go.

So you mail it out to your email list.  But you’d like more people to read it, share it, and subscribe.  So, there are several ways of doing so.

Firstly, add it to your profile.  You just need to go to “Edit Profile” and you’ll find  Publications – click on Add a publication, and follow the instructions.

You can do the same thing with your blogs – under Applications, add your blog  to your LinkedIn profile.  You can automatically upload each article just but including LinkedIn in the tags, and/or post it in your status bar with a brief note that pulls out the highlights and entices people to read.

Of course those techniques only work if people are viewing your profile.  So the other way to increase your readership do it is to post your article in a LinkedIn group discussion.

But just posting a blog or newsletter link under Discussions is either effective nor engaging.  It just smacks of self-promotion.  At best there will be few if any comments (time is precious, and people have enough to do without looking at yet another blog link that is pretending to be a discussion); at worst it will be moved to Promotions and nobody will look at it in any case.

So you need to create a real discussion about the subject.  And that discussion needs to be tailored to the Group into which you’re posting your link.  Most effective is to provide a brief summary of the point of the article, and ask for views, feedback or comment.  If you achieve comments, stay engaged with the discussion, thank people for commenting, and respond yourself to keep the debate going.

Oh, and it’s worth giving some thought to using email to support you in this.  Perhaps start by  emailing your closest contacts to ask them to help get the discussion moving … and you can equally do the same for them.  The results should be beneficial, and it keeps the symbiotic circle going.

And it’s always quite special when humans operate symbiotically to help each other.

We’re all for sharing knowledge and information and enjoy a healthy debate, so if you have any questions, views, tips or knowledge, please  just “reply” below.  Or if you’d like to discuss any part of the article, or we can help you in any way, just let us know.

Victoria Tuffill – Partner, Tuffill Verner Associates – victoria@tuffillverner.co.uk 

 01787 277742 or  07967 148398.  

Feel free to visit our website.  And yes, we’re on Linked InTwitter  and Google+

LinkedIn communities … and lemon sharks

One of LinkedIn’s key principles is that social learning and sharing is good.  I’ve been talking for some time on this subject, as persuading people to engage in conversation or debate on LinkedIn can be rather like pulling teeth or swimming through syrup. And on the subject of swimming and sharing, it’s worth noting that even lemon sharks instinctively understand the importance of social learning and sharing knowledge.

With that in mind, I’d be interested to understand how many individuals using LinkedIn actually look at group stats – a useful tool that lets you see (broadly) the community size, demographics, and level of activity and engagement.  It should go without saying that as a group manager, the stats are invaluable.

But I suspect not enough members use them, and those who don’t are missing a chance of helpful insight either when considering joining a group  or in understanding the make up of the groups already joined. For example, I’m currently “culling” my groups (starting with those whose emails I now just delete unread)!  I know there are about 10 groups that I really want or need to be part of.  I’m expecting to lose at least half of the others and I’ll use the stats to help me make the right decision.

The stats summary page looks like this, and provides a dashboard of how many members there are in the group, their seniority, with further information on geography, market sector and function to be found in Demographics. You can also see the level of new members under Growth.

And, under Activity you can see how many discussions and comments have taken place in the last week, and review a graph that shows trends over time.

This shows how different the “activity” levels can be and how they can change over time. The group on the left looks to have good activity level, but a recent trend towards a disproportionate number of discussions (green) to comments (blue) suggests that the group manager might need to review the quality of the discussions or start to think about some kind of reactivation strategy. In the example on the right, though the number of discussions is relatively low, the comments ratio is excellent at 4:1 comments to discussion.

For both the groups above, it is worth looking at the discussions in question to see what’s going on and the quality of the conversations. By doing so you can see that, in relation to the graph on the right (from Modern Selling group – another of my favourites), the members of the community are engaged and interesting, the quality of discussions, debates, comments and insights is excellent and the range of topics fascinating.    And that’s largely because of the effort and energy put into the group by Neil Warren.  His contribution to the discussions is substantial, his management of the group and debates is strong, and he has some great group members.  The result is a group that it is a pleasure to be part of.

Here are three more examples of Linked In group and community characteristics.

1.  Looks good on paper but disappoints

I have a particular fondness (at least in theory) for one of my groups – which focuses on direct and digital marketing. This group is a decent size (nearly 15,000 members), full of good people, many of whom I know and have worked with, and who have the knowledge and experience to provide a valuable contribution.  In other words, I would expect them to participate.

 BUT

The number of discussions posted per week runs at around 100.  The number of comments  seems to range from 6 to 18.  The number of “commenters”?  Roughly 9. And that’s from a group of direct and digital marketers!  More worrying is that the discussions posted are not from different individuals, so there is a very low engagement level.

So why is engagement so low?

As ever, there are any number of reasons, ranging from “I’m too busy” to “I know I should be properly LinkedIn, but I keep forgetting about it” to “I don’t have anything to contribute to this debate” to “I only joined the group so I’d get access to the members”.

But there are other issues too.  There are groups that aren’t managed properly.  There are groups with no clear aims or obvious reasons for their existence, and there are groups where it seems that the community has just lost interest, energy and motivation (if they ever had it in the first place) and are effectively dormant.

Too often there is little or no discrimination between discussion posts and promotions. And to an extent I sympathise with this problem.  If a group is receiving literally thousands of “discussion” posts per week, it can be tricky and inordinately time-consuming for the manager to work through them all – at the same time staying within the LinkedIn group rules.

The result is that too many so-called discussions are really just self-promotions which (with honourable exceptions) tend to be posted by those whose intention is to broadcast to the available audience, and who do not intend to do much – if anything – in the way of listening, sharing knowledge or joining a debate.  Let alone the straightforward “spam” postings.  Not only that, but the self-promoters are  highly likely to post without even considering the audience to whom they are broadcasting.

And it is precisely those large-volume groups that need to be managed.  When a group runs along lines that allow self-promotion to be included as a discussion it gets painfully “noisy”. It becomes time-consuming and, frankly, irritating to have to trawl through all the junk to get to the relevant posts that would actually benefit from a debate or discussion.   So of course many group members just don’t bother.  Let’s face it, time is always at a premium.

2.  Huge engagement, interesting discussions, well managed group

The group I’m using to illustrate this category, TED  is also in my Top 10 groups.  The discussions are fascinating and are not specifically business related.  They cover an enormous range of subjects from poetry to religion to archaeology, history, science, conspiracy theories and aliens.  Not to mention some interesting business debates too.

This is the group that, as articulated by Regan George in his Schmooz.me blog,  has, from a single discussion (or in this case, poll) so far generated in excess of  40,000 comments.

In his blog Regan makes (among others – have a look) two great points – the first is that the use of polls, strongly targeted to the group audience, is a great way to increase group engagement.  The second is that the kind of question that creates most engagement tends to be emotion-based.

Which is a very good reminder.  We should never forget that, regardless of our ability to rationalise our decisions, emotion is always a key driver both personally and in business.

3.         Engagement slipping – needs reactivating

The founder of one of my other groups, Lets Talk Here, came too close to hitting the  delete key on his group, because his community was simply not engaging as strongly as it had previously.  This group is a particular favourite of mine because (like Modern Selling) it is properly managed by somebody who completely understands how social interaction – both online and offline – should work.  Mark Longbottom gives enormous amounts of time, energy and effort to make the conversations interesting, relevant and engaging.   There is a clear purpose to their groups.  And the rules are clear cut.  A discussion’s a discussion, and a promotion’s a promotion.

Lets Talk Here strikes a great balance between business insights and discussion, genuine chat and getting to know each other.   It is small and intimate, and though I don’t know the community in “real” life (yet) it feels like a group of friends.  And I’m looking forward to meeting many of the individuals in person or on Skype or through any other method that works.

But though the group had previously been very active, engagement was slipping.  Mark needed to decide whether the community was still viable, or whether he should simply close and delete it.  Lisa Marie Dias summarises the story beautifully, including explanations from Mark himself to explain the thinking and philosophy behind his group, and to share the level of re-engagement he achieved, and how he did so. It’s a great case study if you’re struggling with getting engagement from your own group or groups.

Which brings me to my final question.

What’s the point of LinkedIn anyway?

I’m a huge fan of LinkedIn.  It’s a great network for the business community. I’ve seen it provide enormous benefit for me and our clients. It’s an excellent way to meet and communicate with people, it’s a potential tool for sales, and it’s a database of sorts.  It’s also, both potentially and currently a great place for high quality debate and discussion.

Like all social media networks, it’s vital to remember that just because it’s online, it doesn’t mean that you’re not dealing with real people in the real world.  I see too many people forget their basic manners and rules of social interaction when they go online.

But to get the most out of any social network – online or offline – it’s essential to use it properly – to contribute when appropriate, to help where you can, to share your views, knowledge and opinions.

After all, even lemon sharks know the value of sharing knowledge!

We’re all for sharing knowledge and information and enjoy a healthy debate, so if you have any questions, views, tips or knowledge, please  just “reply” below.

Victoria Tuffill – Partner Tuffill Verner Associates – victoria@tuffillverner.co.uk 

01787 277742 or 07967 148398.  

Feel free to visit our website.  And yes, we’re on Linked InTwitter  and Google+

Why do social media “experts” talk such guff?

Why do so many social media “experts” talk such guff?  A couple of weeks ago I was at a conference, where the focus was very much on data and how it could be used to help Telcos prevent their customers paying late (or not paying at all) and/or once in debt, collect the most overdue money, most quickly, at the lowest cost – all the time doing their best to treat their customers fairly.  Clearly a challenging combination.

An interesting inclusion in the programme was a chap who came from a social media consultancy.  He was asked to talk about how social media could help businesses understand their customers well enough to prevent them from falling behind with their payments, and, in the event that they fell into debt, whether social media data could be used to identify their ability and intent to pay.

I had hoped this presentation would be fascinating and full of insight.  To be fair to the guy, his social media generic overview was fine. But when it came down to the nitty-gritty of whether or not, and if so, how social media data could be used in a payment behaviour or collections environment, he frankly floundered, and failed to answer even one of the three questions he had been tasked with.

At the end of his presentation I walked downstairs with a fellow delegate.  I didn’t know him, but I asked him what he thought.  His answer was a single word:  “Irrelevant”.

And that’s the problem.  That one poorly targeted, ill-thought out presentation convinced a large group of Telco delegates that social media has no part to play in their business.  And my view is that this is simply not true.  Whether or not it’s possible, legal or even advisable to use social media data in a collections environment, and whether or not there is anything more than marginal benefit to be gained from doing so,  there are certainly opportunities to build  two-way, engaging relationships with your customers, and obtain useful data from them in the process.

If nothing else, that approach gives you an opportunity to encourage your customer to feel positive about you and your brand, making it more likely that your bill will be higher in their hierarchy of “must-pays”.  Especially in the case of mobile networks and phone providers, where it is highly likely much of their social media interaction will be conducted through mobiles.  And these things can be measured – simply compare the payment and spending behaviour of those of your customers who engage with you on, say, Facebook to those who do not.

Use the social media platform to gain information from them, obviously ensuring that your collection and use of such data is compliant.  Make it fun for them to tell you which networks or mobiles they’ve previously used, do some research on how they would rank them, how they use their phones, proportion of personal to business, gain further information on how the phone is used in business – the answers may not be entirely honest, but, with caution, you can use that data to identify likely switchers and even, in some circumstances, likely payment or contract defaulters.  It is worth noting, however, that the time to build the relationship is BEFORE the payments start to be missed – in other words from the moment the application is approved.

What is crucial, and, I think, not understood, is that social media data, communication and engagement are not ends in themselves. They are simply part of an ongoing communication programme with a brand’s customers and prospects.

It is for each individual company or brand to adopt a strategic approach which identifies its business goals, and develops – and measures – the combination of communication channels appropriate to achieve those goals – which could be telephone, social media platforms and forums, email, websites, mail, blogs, updates (digital and print) on news/technical developments/new product, downloads, apps, face to face and so on.

But I think a core difficulty for many businesses is in identifying so-called social media “experts” who look at the subject strategically.  I’ve met both types of animal.  The ones who do really are very good indeed – the bad ones do an alarming amount of damage and harm – both to the perception of social media and, in the worst cases, to the customer’s brand and image.  To identify the good ones, make sure you talk strategically to them, ask them pertinent questions – if they don’t understand your business, your issues, or can’t answer you, or sidestep, or generalise … find someone else!

We’ll welcome your thoughts or comments on this post – and if you need any help with your communications strategy and/or activity – across channels or through specific channels – please don’t hesitate to give me a call.  If I can help, I’ll be happy to.  If not, I can at least point you to someone who will provide sensible strategic advice.

Victoria Tuffill
Partner, Tuffill Verner Associates
 
Tel:         +44 (0)7967 148398  /  +44 (0)1787 277742  
Email:     victoria@tuffillverner.co.uk
Web:       http://www.tuffillverner.co.uk

Victoria Tuffill is a direct marketing consultant with over 30 years experience. She founded Tuffill Verner Associates consultancy with Alastair Tuffill in 1996. She is also founder and Director of Fraudscreen – a data tool that assists in the prevention of 1st party fraud. Her experience ranges across businesses including publishing, home shopping, insurance, utilities, telcos and collections.

© Victoria Tuffill and Tuffill Verner Associates, September 2012. Unauthorized use and/or duplication of this material without express and written permission from this blog’s author and/or owner is strictly prohibited. Excerpts and links may be used, provided that full and clear credit is given to Victoria Tuffill and Tuffill Verner Associates with appropriate and specific direction to the original content.

Social Media Case Study

Forex-Factors and TVA

Case Study, September 2012

“Having read this case-study, I endorse every word of it, and have the greatest appreciation of and admiration for the concentrated energy with which the objectives have been identified, pursued and accomplished by TVA.”

Owner, Forex-Factors 6th September 2012

Forex-Factors Background

Forex-Factors provides foreign exchange managed accounts. At the point of initial discussion between Forex-Factors and TVA, the business was in the early stages of development, had a good website, strong creative concepts, initial clients, and a forward-thinking owner with excellent writing skills.

Within a limited budget, TVA was asked to provide advice and guidance on SEO and social media strategy.

From initial conversations and review of current activity, it was clear that Edward had not only the inclination but also the ability to handle the strategic, creative and technical aspects of his social media and SEO activity. What he needed was knowledge, information and a sounding board for specific areas, and advice on how everything could link together for best results.

The key focus of the consultancy was on initial training and ongoing advice.

Key issues

We reviewed the current Forex-Factors status and activity and evaluated the opportunities that would give the business the highest impact most swiftly.

One of the key issues of forex managed accounts is one of trust. There is a number of forex outfits and individuals that, through various organisations and mechanisms, eventually become labelled as “scams” and / or cease trading (often while hanging onto investors’ money). Clearly the honesty and integrity of the Forex-Factors individuals and business needed to be highlighted to raise their credibility and profile above that of their competitors.

As one would expect from a relatively new business, brand awareness was very low, so we developed a strategy of raising brand and personal awareness, and approached the marketing accordingly.

Forex performance is also an issue, and Forex-Factors has a deliberate strategy of providing solid, steady performance rather than promising spectacular returns – which can too quickly result in equally spectacular losses. We used this philosophy as part of the trust-building exercise.

Strategic Objectives

We established clear objectives for the activity, in summary:

  • To increase website visits and, critically, engagement
  • To acquire new investors
  • To increase value of managed funds
  • To develop an ongoing programme to be implemented by the client

To achieve the objectives, we needed to adopt and integrate sensible tactics at a low cost to the client. These included:

  • Building trust, reputation and credibility
  • Increasing brand awareness
  • Building personal profile
  • Measuring performance

Achieving the Goals

We discussed the range of social media platforms through which Forex-Factors could achieve their goals, and prioritised them, concentrating on the three key areas on which to focus for maximum gain. With Edward and his team doing the actual physical work, these were then integrated into a sustainable, ongoing social media strategy, which included:

  • Enhancing LinkedIn and other social media profiles
  • Writing credible blogs and articles to build trust and reputation
  • Ongoing SEO improvement techniques
  • Appropriate digital distribution of marketing collateral to increase awareness and drive traffic
  • Joining and contributing to selected social media networks and groups to establish both presence and personality
  • Establishing appropriate analytics tools to allow performance of the activity to be measured.

TVA’s role in the process

Working directly with the owner, TVA provided online, telephone and Skype discussions on strategy and prioritisation. Training was provided in one-hour blocks, as needed. We continue to provide ongoing consultation as required.

This enabled Edward to do the majority of the work himself, and his own enthusiastic and intelligent approach was therefore able to save him significant consultancy fees.

Results

Within three weeks of initial review, results have been phenomenal. All objectives have been met. The numbers of pageloads, first time visits, and return visits to forex-factors.com have all increased by more than 100%, value of funds under management has increased by more than 400%, and numbers of interested potential investors by 300%.

Visit Forex-Factors for information on their business and their services.

© Victoria Tuffill and Tuffill Verner Associates, July 2012. Unauthorized use and/or duplication of this material without express and written permission from this blog’s author and/or owner is strictly prohibited. Excerpts and links may be used, provided that full and clear credit is given to Victoria Tuffill and Tuffill Verner Associates with appropriate and specific direction to the original content.