Wetherspoons Have No Social Media: 5 Alternatives to Online Engagement

Wetherspoons Have No Social Media: 5 Alternatives to Online Engagement

Last week, Wetherspoons announced that it is shutting its social media accounts. The award-winning pub chain had over 44,000 followers on Twitter and 100,000 on Facebook. Was it a brave or a stupid move? Time will tell. In this article, I discuss the main reasons that Wetherspoons took this decision and what you can do if you decide to shut off your company’s social media presence.

Wetherspoons saw no real benefit from social media

In 2018, the average Wetherspoons Tweet received six retweets and four likes. When you consider that the chain serves three million pints a week, it hints that their customers are not really engaging with the chain on social media. Overall, Wetherspoons doesn’t believe that shutting down social media will have any business impact. Social media appears to be the wrong fit for Wetherspoons’ customers.

If you don’t have social media accounts for your business or you are thinking about shutting yours down, here are key things to consider:

Are your customers actively engaging with brands on social media?

First, analyse your target customers. Find out if they follow their favourite brands on Twitter, Instagram and Facebook. If they do, dig deeper to uncover how they engage. Are they mainly making complaints, giving feedback or sharing content about their experience with the brands?  Whatever you discover, ensure that your business is not missing out on valuable feedback and engagement. If you decide not to be on social media, implement other feedback processes e.g. through your website or a customer service centre.

Make Your Website A Hub of Activity

Your website should be the centre of all your activity. Even if you have a strong social presence, your content should lead visitors to your website to learn more and grow your lead generation activities. Create a hub of regular content and resources for your customers on your website. Develop a good understanding of the topics that customers want to read about. Then ensure that they know that it is available on your website.

Develop Robust Email & Direct Marketing Programmes

Following on from the last point, you must let customers know about the content on your website. If you have no social media accounts, distributing content could get tricky. Wetherspoons has a magazine that it uses to reach its customers. Customers can get the magazine through direct mail or via one of the pubs. Another way to reach customers is to develop a robust email marketing list. This can be done through contact forms on the website, contests and in the pubs (by asking customers to fill out a form).

Create A Referral Scheme

If you have good engagement with existing customers through direct mail, email marketing or in person (at the pubs), you could implement a referral programme to encourage them to recommend your business to others. You could tell your existing customers about the programme by direct mail, your website and email for instance.

Make PR Your Friend

Bill Gates famously said, “If I was down to my last dollar, I would spend it on PR.”

If you are not on social media, you need another channel to develop your brand story, make announcements about your business and to address the public in a crisis. Hire a good PR company that understands your industry and its influencers. Spend time developing a story that will engage your target market and push the story into the media as often as possible.

Do Events Well

Some customers just don’t do social media. But many will come to a great event. Events are a fantastic way to meet in person and give your customers an experience of your company culture and brand. Use events to bring partners, customers, employees and suppliers together. Or keep the different stakeholder groups separate. Whatever you do, do events well. Ensure that it is well-organised and relevant to the attendees. Follow up after the events. And don’t forget to ask for feedback!

Great content spurs organic traffic ahead of social media

Great content spurs organic traffic ahead of social media

Our organic traffic is more than twice that of social media. That has been true for the past year at YO! Marketing. It wasn’t the case when we first started; social media was our main platform to push our brand name into the public domain. It took time to get organic search to our website. Organic search keeps growing, and it shows that we create content that our target audience is actively searching for. Our experience matches recent research on the increasing role of search over social media for web traffic.

Data shows the shift towards organic traffic

Perhaps one of the most exciting things about digital marketing is the constantly changing environment. Since 2013, social media held the lead as a referrer of web traffic and many said that position was cemented for the next decade.

However, in 2017, there was a significant shift in traffic patterns. The top six search engines drove 34.8% of measured site visits, in comparison to 25.6% for the top 13 social networks. There is now an even stronger shift for web publishers to publish good quality content.

Unsurprisingly, the top search engine in terms of share of visits is still Google. Google accounted for more than 97% of search-referred visits during the second half of 2017.

A recent study from a Demand Gen Report showed that for the majority of B2B marketers, email (59%), search (56%) and websites (51%) are the most effective channels in driving early-stage engagement. Social Media (44%) was somewhat lower on the list. 50% of people said that direct search was the go-to channel for lead generation.

Therefore, it appears that search engines are now being used more to search for content directly. There has never been more important to create relevant content with SEO in mind.

The growing role of great content

The search for relevant content drives online users to websites. Picture this: a visitor lands on your website after searching for cybersecurity training. The crucial factor is whether they find what they need on your website. This is the role of content: To provide relevant information to your target customer in a timely manner.

Content marketing is highly valued in the digital marketing industry. It has grown significantly in the last 5 years. One study reveals that content marketing will be a $300 billion industry by 2019 if investment continues at the same level. This graph shows the increasing interest in content marketing as a search term. Its acceleration is most evident from 2012 onwards.

But how do you create great content?

First, focus on what you are writing about. The aim is to key to make your audience happy by providing content that they want to read. If you do this, you and your business will soon be regarded as authorities in your industry. Before you write, consider:

  • What makes this story stand out from the rest
  • How can I give this a positive message or angle

To nail this, you need a content strategy. Ask questions like:

  • Who is this content for?
  • What problem am I trying to solve?
  • Which keywords and phrases do my audience use to find information?
  • Which topics do I need to cover to create valuable content?

Assessing your content with six simple steps

The idea behind assessing your content is simple: Outline a set of steps for every blog post and tick them off as you go along. The aim is to do every step each time you publish a post to leverage organic traffic sources. Once you have a content strategy that details the topics and a content plan, take the following six steps:

  1. Find a keyword with high SEO potential: You want your audience to be able to search and find your content when they need it. The right keyword will assist in creating content optimised for search engines. Consider using tools such as Mozbar keyword explorer or Google Keyword Planner. It estimates the volume of search traffic for any keyword and offers suggestions.
  2. Research some of your top competitors’ posts for your keyword: Once you have decided on a keyword, head to Google to search for your term. Choose a few of the top 10 ranked posts. Look for similarities and gaps where your content can come out on top and add more value.
  3. Ensure your content motivates action: Create content that contains measurable data to back up your facts, step-by-step guidance and a path to action. After all, if your content helps the reader they are likely to come back for more!
  4. Create and share a content upgrade: Content upgrades can be downloadable Excel templates, PDFs, or e-books – simply anything that helps your audience put your content into work. Try upgrading your best performing content.

 

PRO TIP: To find your most popular content via Google analytics, go to Behaviour>Site Content>All Pages

 

    1. Craft a single call to action (CTA): Keep in mind that each piece of content should have one call to action which reveals a clear next step for your audience to follow. Whether it’s to sign up for your email list or a trial of your product, the key thing is to only have one call to action, as any more will confuse your readers and might cause them not to take any action at all!
    2. Design Compelling Visuals: High-quality visuals help differentiate your content from the competition and provide an opportunity to illustrate complex information in a simple and easy-to-understand visual. Tools like Canva are extremely useful – you don’t need to be a graphic designer!
Download our Content Strategy Workbook

 

Facebook Changes: How Small Businesses Can Still Win Big

Facebook Changes: How Small Businesses Can Still Win Big

Facebook changes are coming. These changes have a significant impact on business pages on Facebook. For small businesses, it could be frustrating. But it could also be a call to step up on valuable, relevant content.

Facebook Changes: Goals

Mark Zuckerberg says the Facebook changes will promote more local and relevant news. On his recent post on the subject, he summarised his motives for the changes as follows:

  • Facebook wants to give users a more personalised experience
  • Based on feedback from Facebook users.  people see too many pieces of content from businesses
  • Facebook wants to increase the quality of content on the platform
  • There is a stronger focus on real engagement and interaction

This could mean less exposure for business pages as these pages move to a secondary news feed, first piloted in October last year. Facebook users will see news from family and friends in a primary newsfeed. The changes also mean that businesses might need to spend more on ads to be seen by their target audience. Small businesses without deep pockets will feel the pinch the most.

Facebook Changes: Don’t Give Up

But small businesses mustn’t give up. 62% of consumers on Facebook say that it is the most important platform for them. A bigger metric is the 80% of users who say that they are more inclined to buy from you if you have a credible, authentic Facebook page associated with your business. Business decision-makers are also keen Facebook users according to a recent article by HootSuite on Facebook Statistics. Therefore, the objective of small businesses should be safeguarding the top one or two spots on the secondary news feed in order to be seen by their target audience.

Facebook Changes: Live video

In this video, I discuss the changes to Facebook and how small businesses can still win the heart of their target audience by creating and publishing valuable content to the right people.

Facebook Changes: What Is A Promo Post?

Promotional posts are Facebook’s pet peeve. Avoid it as much as you can. Not sure if your posts are promotional? These three points just about cover it:

  • The sole purpose of the post is to push people to buy a product
  • You ask people to enter promos, giveaways or contests
  • Your posts reuse the same content for Ads over and over

Facebook Changes: What’s the Solution?

Focus on knowing who to target, how to offer value to them and what you can do to stand out in the newsfeed.

To achieve these best practices when you create content for your Facebook business page:

  • Create videos of min 30 secs, max 90s (longer videos rank higher)
  • High completion rates (50%)
  • Schedule posts on Facebook (instead of on 3rd party platforms like Buffer and HootSuite)
  • No outbound links (e.g. YouTube, blog posts)
  • Upload videos directly to Facebook
  • Don’t boost posts (weak targeting and low conversion rates)
  • Use Ads to target individuals on your business page (check out lookalike audiences)
  • Create Facebook groups and engage there
  • Use great images in posts (emotion, motion, colour)
  • Spend time identifying your audience, grab their attention and build relationships
  • Create motivational and inspirational posts
  • Value offers (how-to videos, PDF cheat sheets, advice, demos)
  • Promote local businesses

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What GE Oil & Gas did to supercharge employees on social media

What GE Oil & Gas did to supercharge employees on social media

GE Oil & Gas supercharges its social media presence

A few years ago, GE Oil & Gas, one of the world’s leading equipment and services’ providers in the oil and gas space, embarked on a series of online experiments. The oil equipment giant trained a cohort of 20-40 high potential leaders to engage online. Becky Edwards was Chief Communications Officer at GE Oil & Gas during this time. I spoke to Becky about GE’s approach to digital interactions. She explains:

The GE team asked this question early on: what would it be like to take this cohort and supercharge them digitally?”

Becky started at GE in 2010 as Global Employee Communications Leader. She describes the internal environment she joined as ‘socially-enabling-digitally’ and employee-driven. Existing internal GE systems allowed employees to comment and even retract offensive comments. She remembers that in 2010, the ability to request a retraction was a progressive capability at that time.

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GE Oil & Gas empowers high potential staff

By 2012, GE had put together a robust set of guidelines for external social media activities.  This set the scene for Becky and her team to develop a specific training programme for the high potential cohort. The programme focused on how they might use their influence in a digital world. As part of the training, Becky and her team prepared the cohort to showcase their digital know-how at the GE Oil & Gas Annual Meeting normally held in January/February of every year.

 

The team covered topics such as the importance of content marketinghow to create content for social media and where to publish the content once it is created. They also co-created content with the cohorts. The cohort, now digital ambassadors, applied their knowledge from the training on social channels such as Twitter. They could provide a glimpse of the annual meeting for those not present.

GE Oil & Gas enables more online conversations

Becky explains that having set guidelines isn’t enough. As a result of the experiment, Becky says the team realised they needed to visibly and deliberately give people permission. Contrary to the idea that only the most senior person in the team can have a voice, Becky says,

“We needed to tell employees that it’s OK to have a voice, own what you know and share it”

What would be a good outcome for GE Oil & Gas? Becky explains that social media is an enabler that allows the organisation to:

  • Do more commercial transactions that stem from digital interactions
  • Generate goodwill and positive mind share such that people looking for information can find positive information
  • Position GE Oil & Gas employees as thought leaders in their field
  • Draw potential and existing customers into a deeper conversation

Traditionally, technical experts share their knowledge through conferences for instance. At conferences, the conversation would be one to many people sitting inside a room somewhere. Becky says,

“Thanks to social media platforms, more people can now fit inside that room”

 

Check out other employee social media examples: Rackspace

Check out tips for starting a social media pilot: 20 tips

***
Photo credit: momoneymoproblemz, CC 3.0 license, 2014, General Electric Sign, Fort Wayne, Indiana
I interviewed Becky Edwards on September 2015. This is a modified version of a blog originally published on LinkedIn on December 15, 2015
How to Select the Right Employees for Social Media Advocacy

How to Select the Right Employees for Social Media Advocacy

Identify the right employee advocates to get the most out of your social media advocacy programmes.

Social media advocacy has become a key mechanism in B2B marketing. Allowing employees to promote your brand, products and services could significantly shorten your sales cycle and improve employee engagement. It is also a relatively low-cost way to increase your brand reach.

However, engaging on social media isn’t for every employee. Participation must be optional, empowering employees who have a combination of skill, interest and credibility.

Social media advocacy, who will do it?

A good first step to selecting employee advocates is to develop a sound understanding of the appetite for social media participation within your organisation. One useful approach is to create a survey that asks employees key questions about their social media activity. The survey should find out some of the following things:

  • Social media platforms used
  • Frequency of use
  • Mode of engagement i.e. whether they create, engage or just skim content
  • Willingness to share content on behalf of your organisation

Keep the survey anonymous, identifying respondents by department/level, e.g. sales, customer service or team leader, manager etc. and by office location for instance. You can create your own questions or use existing ones.

Here are five ways to select employee advocates:

1. Credibility and influence

Employees who already have a strong presence on social media could be highly valuable to your social media advocacy programme. Such employees are probably well respected by their peers, and regularly engage online in a professional way. Moreover, they are likely to be not just content sharers but also content creators. This is a highly valuable characteristic as research has shown only 1% of social media users will fall into this category.

2. Involve senior leaders 

You might find that the best advocates are your senior leaders. Whether you are bringing a new product to market or reinforcing your brand values, senior leaders as employee advocates could provide real impact online. Their participation also motivates employees, giving them role models that walk-the-talk. However, be mindful that getting senior leaders to actively engage online requires active support in areas such as time management.

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3. Some functions have more appetite

When it comes to social media advocacy, you can assume that employees in marketing, sales and customer support services will have more of an interest in getting involved. Therefore, engage these departments as advocates, at least to get the programme started. Depending on your industry, employee advocates in technical functions might be extremely valuable to engage. But don’t worry if technical employees e.g. engineers aren’t keen. There are several ways employees can get involved in social media e.g. “listening” in on online customer conversations and finding solutions to their challenges.

4. Engage where your customers are

Sometimes, it will come down to location. If your business strategy is to increase market penetration in a specific region, it might make sense to get mass social media participation in that region. The web is global, but there is value in a customer knowing that they can contact an employee who has shared some useful information about a product – knowing that the employee is local, and more likely to be able to meet them in person to discuss their needs. This might be just what a customer needs to make a final decision on a purchase.

5. Train existing social media users

Employee advocates should be social media users. Trying to convince employees to get on social media, solely for the purpose of becoming advocates doesn’t work. But not any social media user will do. Ensure that the employees have appropriate guidelines and training for how you want them to conduct themselves on social media. Also, consider focusing on one platform at a time e.g. LinkedIn or Twitter, providing not just education around social media policies but education on the idiosyncrasies of each platform.

Final words

You don’t need an army of a 100 employees to begin your social media advocacy programme. Ultimately, you should start with a few early adopters – then grow!

 

This blog was written by Yekemi Otaru and originally published on the Smarp blog con 28th March 2017

Does it matter if your organisation has a social CEO?

Does it matter if your organisation has a social CEO?

If you work for SalesForce, General Electric, or Hewlett-Packard, you are one of few employees who has a social CEO. You might take it for granted. But research shows that as at 2016, 61% of Fortune 500 CEOs had no social media presence at all. However, CEOs like Apple’s Tim Cook and Microsoft’s Satya Nadella are active on Twitter. And General Electric’s Jeff Immelt and Hewlett Packard’s Meg Whitman have more than 100,000 followers on LinkedIn. It is not always possible for your company’s CEO to be a social media guru, but it does make the marketing team’s job a lot easier.

Social CEO Logic: Successful Employee Advocacy Is About Culture And Leadership

YO! Marketing employee engagement social media As I prepared to write my book, I interviewed social media and marketing professionals in ten companies. These companies included GE, SAS, and IBM. It became clear that some companies had a head start with employee advocacy. This was partly due to their inherent company culture and exemplary leadership. Leaders like Salesforce.com’s CEO Marc Benioff have done an outstanding job of being present on social platforms  in a way that encourages his employees to follow suit. It’s a sign that says, “Hey, I buy into this!” Other companies have struggled to generate the level of employee participation required to make social media employee advocacy sustainable. Part of the challenge is getting their business leaders to walk the talk. Over recent years, more reasons have been uncovered as to why CEOs should be social that dispute some of the risks involved in putting one’s self out there.

Social CEO Problem: Research Shows It’s A Good Idea But It’s A Hard Sell

YO! Marketing social media CEO employee advocacy The 2016 Brandfog Survey on the Social CEO reveals the perception that executive participation in social media leads to better leadership grew by 15% between 2013 and 2016. Respondents to the survey also believe that it builds brand trust. This is probably why 85% state that having a socially active C- Suite leadership team can mitigate risk before a brand reputation crisis occurs. How might you encourage your CEO to be more social? A recent article on IF suggests that training your CEO is out of the question and recommends fitting social around the CEO rather than trying to fit the CEO into social. A fair bit of researching and convincing needs to be done to move a non-social CEO into social media. This is the reality.

Social CEO Reality: Your CEO Is Probably Too Far Away Anyway

YO! Marketing social ceo team work employee engagement Top executive support inspires employees. However, one global social media manager at a top social brand told me that it is more important to have a layer of middle managers that support social media employee advocacy programs. A social CEO might be just too far away to be an effective role model to those lower down in the organisation. In addition, the 2014 Edelman Trust Barometer: 52% of consumers trust an “average” employee more than a CEO, a statistic that rose 30% between 2009 and 2014. And this % has probably grown since then. Perhaps middle management is more influential—not just internally, but externally too.

Social CEO Trend Line: The Future Of Employee Advocacy

YO! Marketing employee engagement During the interviews, I found that managers reinforced values by talking about them and behaving in ways that supported them. Employees are empowered by this. With the appropriate guidelines and support, employees start to participate. A recent article in Fast Company shows that employee advocacy programs have grown by 191% since 2013. Perhaps we can expect similar growth in CEO participation on social media.  Are you a social CEO or do you work for a company that has one? Leave a comment to tell us if it makes a difference.

All these images are free from pixabay.com
This is a modified version of a blog originally published on the openfor.business blog on 22 February 2016

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