The development of social media in companies

Imagine the situation. A company sets up a Twitter account, follows some well-known or relevant accounts, then posts a status saying ‘Hello World, First Tweet’, might then send one saying what they offer and might even send a third one with a link to the website. Then they gradually leave it and let the follower count increase and ‘bang’ you’re now a social company. But of course we all know that just setting up a new social media account doesn’t make you the social strategist of the century.

This attitude to social media has now long gone as companies now realise that just doing that is a recipe for social media failure. It’s been amazing to see that only over the past few years how much social media in companies has changed and the opinion of it has grown dramatically.

I remember attending a social media conference last year full of accountants, lawyers and finance professionals who were absolutely blown away by what they were seeing. How can a Facebook page bring me business or leads? Can people actually ask me questions about my products or services online? The room was awash with so much excitement and surprise of how powerful social media was.I then attended another conference with social media professionals a few weeks later and the difference you can imagine when talking to people was incredible. As there I was hearing stories of companies having 300 people in the social media team which blew MY mind this time.

Social media used to be something that maybe the marketing manager would set up and update on the odd occasion. If they fancied it they might reply to a few comments too. But then we got to the stage of having a specialist social media guy to come in and do it. This might have been an intern. Still not much attention paid to it.

Fast forward a few years and it’s remarkable the amount of planning and detail that now goes into social media. We now have actual social media budgets. Money set aside for social media campaigns whether that’s promoted posts or Facebook ads. We now have people coming up with strategies for social media, and how general marketing campaigns can be supported by social, and how social drives those campaigns to success. Community managers create content calendars weeks in advance to plan out what they’re going to post. They also reply to every comment or mention received, rather than ignoring. We don’t just register the number of followers we have, we now analyse the entire follow base, what their interests are, where they’re based, how they interact with the brand and the engagement rates content gets.

A social media team is now essential for any large company that’s taking social media seriously. The team includes community managers, strategists, analysts, buyers and planners. It’s now a whole department in its own right, just like a marketing, HR or finance department. Social media will no longer just be ‘within marketing’. But now a separate entity on its own. So with a whole team of social media people, the investment in it has grown, something unimaginable a few years back when a marketing manager ran a Twitter account on their own.

The future of social media within companies I think is only going to grow even more. Next you will probably see community managers or strategists for specific networks, such as Twitter strategist or an Instagram community manager. Added to this is companies now allocating more and more funds to social media away from outdoor or traditional media. Why invest in a billboard that will be seen by thousands of people over a day, when a social media campaign can be seen by that amount in a second and millions in total.

So it’ll be very interesting reviewing this blog post in five years time to see where social media within companies has gone. For now though its showing no signs of slowing down!

Thanks for reading and please feel free to share your thoughts. For more digital marketing and social media stories and updates, please follow this blog or me on Twitter @DigitalStuart.

How social media has changed our lives

For those of you who haven’t heard social media is a pretty big deal. Social media is no longer just a part of our lives and that website we sometimes look at . Rather it now shapes, dictates and influences our lives and what we do. Think about it. When you get a job, make a delicious meal, go on holiday or take a great a pic of a lovely view, what’s the first thing you do? Of course you upload it onto social media. Nowadays if you were to get married, we’d only find out about it via Facebook, not from you calling or texting someone. So we tell people what we’ve been up to now via our social profiles. Which to some degree is a shame, but at the same time is much easier than telling everyone separately. Now you can message everyone through a simple status! We’re becoming a group of people that’s now not afraid to share with others what we’ve been up. In the past I wouldn’t really want someone seeing the food I’ve made, but now I’d love to show people it!

Another way social media is changing our lives is how we interact with brands. Now when you have a compliant, question or enquiry we are less likely to pick up the phone and call the company or send an email. But now we go to social media whether that’s Facebook or Twitter to get the answer. In the past we’d mention a brand in a post and think there’s about a 10% chance they’d reply to us. However now I personally feel if I ask a question on Twitter I expect an answer. I mean if your company got a phone call enquiry you wouldn’t ignore it, so why ignore a tweet.

Social media is also at the forefront in our daily lives when it comes to finding out about what’s going on in the world. We now usually find out the breaking news stories from what’s trending on Twitter rather than on the TV or in the newspaper. This has made us more knowledgeable about the latest current affairs and trends something which we probably weren’t as in tune with if we watched the six o’clock news or picked up the local paper.

So it’s not an underestimation to say social media plays a huge part in our daily lives, and as more networks develop this trend is only going to grow more!

Thanks for reading, and please feel free to comment! For more social media news please follow this blog or me on Twitter @DigitalStuart.

How to get a job in Social Media

If you’ve ever looked at your favourite brand on Twitter and thought that you’d love to update their account and work within social media, then I’m going to provide some useful tips to help you that job! My advice and tips are based on over two years of experience within social media, firstly as a social media intern during my placement year at university, then as a Social Media Manager for a leading charity drinks brand and now as a Community Manager for one of the biggest drinks brands in the world. Although I’m only 24 having worked for over a couple of years, and been in the process twice of searching for a social media role, I’ve gained quite a bit of experience already!

One of the biggest and most obvious things is relevant experience within social media, marketing, PR, media or digital. If you don’t have any experience within these fields you’re likely to not get through the CV screening phase. Even if your role is an editor on a website or marketing assistant or a copywriter, you’ve got essential skills already for a social media role.

One thing that annoys me is people that think anyone can run a social media account for a business. Time after time you’ll see people apply for social media roles based on the fact ‘they use social media everyday’. I mean yes being a social media manager for instance requires that you use social media, but the fact you update your own Twitter account or post pics of food on your Instagram means NOTHING when it comes to applying for a social media role. Some people assume because they spend their entire life on social media, they could quite easily run a multinationals social media channels. But as we know that’s far from the truth.

So experience is so crucial if you want to get into a social media role. If you’ve left college or university and want to get into social media, try to get a social media internship at a small brand or local business. You’re more likely to get a role within a small business if you use social media in your personal life than a larger brand. An internship is a start as this gets you crucial social media skills like coming up with creative content for a brands platform, updating an account and engaging with an audience. My first role was a social media intern. and for the first 4 months it was unpaid, so there’s nothing wrong with that at all. Experience for me is more important than earning money when you have a CV that’s quite empty.

Also having a relevant degree can help you get into a social media role quicker, as you’ve already picked up some skills within that education. So any degree whether that’s Media, Business Management or Journalism is useful for a social media role. This will get you through the CV screening for sure.

it’s very important if you want to get into social media that you have a few social media projects going on in your personal life. This could be anything from your own blog about your hobbies to a Facebook page you run to your own YouTube channel. This shows that you can come up with ideas for content and have experience in both using a social media platform and engaging with an audience. I write this blog as well as running a few fun social media accounts on some of my passions just to get me more experience and learn new things about each platform.

If possible running a website is another wonderful way to help you gain valuable skills for a social media role. This could be a blog or maybe a website to do with anything you love. In order to promote your website you might have social media accounts for it, again fantastic skills and experience that a social media employer will love.

I’d say one of the most important ways to ensure your social media experiences is right for a role is to be up to date with the industry. This might be something very simple like reading digital marketing or social media news sites everyday like Mashable, The Drum or Marketing Week just to get a feel about new platforms and ways social is being utilised by brands and users. One question I’ve been asked a lot in interviews is on what I think are the best channels to use or which channel is growing or how do you see social developing over the next few years. These questions can be answered really well if you are clued up and wired in to the industry and everything happening in and around it. It also illustrates you’re proactive and passionate about the space as well as willing to develop your skills.

So just to recap. The main things you need to do to increase your chances of getting a social media role are; have experience, a relevant degree, an online personality, running a website if possible and keeping up to date with the industry. If you achieve even one of these, you’ll be on your way to that perfect role!

Thanks for reading, and please feel free to comment. For more digital marketing and social media news please follow this blog or me on Twitter @DigitalStuart.

Will Brands ever have a Date with Tinder

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In the modern age of online dating one app has recently taken a march in the market and that’s Tinder. If you aren’t familiar with the dating app you login via your Facebook account (with nothing posted to Facebook don’t worry) and you essentially see pics of women or men whichever you indicate you want to see and you swipe the ones you like the look of or the ones you don’t. Swipe right for Like, swipe left for Unlike. Not vain at all. You can only message someone if both have liked each others photos. That’s pretty much the crux of it!

But Tinder is essentially considered a social media dating app due to the nature of it. You create a profile, connect with others and share info and pics. So could brands take advantage of this opportunity to gain access to a whole new market. Tinder currently has approximately 25 million users who swipe 1.5 billion profiles making 21 million matches per day. The number of users in 2016 is set to double to around 50 million! So in the era of brands coming up with strategies for new and developing social networks such as Instagram, Snapchat and WhatsApp, what’s stopping Tinder being the next big thing.

Snapchat has 30 million users and many people in the social media landscape are talking about how brands could exploit this, but if Tinder has almost that amount, why isn’t there more talk about it being a player in the social media market? Maybe because it’s still very new and unproven. Only recently has Tinder offered a premium version at £3.99 per month, so it’s still in its infancy in terms of developing its feature and having a revenue model.

So the question is how could a brand use Tinder, here’s a few suggestions.

Create a Profile

Firstly they could create the standard profile with a photo of their logo and a bio of who they are. Obviously they would need to create a Facebook profile first…and maybe like their own Facebook Page which would come up as a common interest with other users. The profile creation could be the same as other social networks like Facebook and Twitter in terms of their info provided. Tinder was thinking of introducing a verification element to its profile with Ed Sheeran being the guinea pig, though that never materialised. If it did, that would be a sure way to enhance the brands profile authenticity.

Targeting

For the targeting of users brands could use the discovery settings to target a particular market in relation to age and gender. For instance, if you were a mens fashion brand who targeted young males, you could set your discovery settings to the age bracket of say 16-25 and ‘interested’ in males. Of course if you were a female brand it would be visa versa or both if you were a fashion brand for both men and women. But it’s not just demographically they can target users, they can also do it geographically by location. So if our fashion brand is only based in say four locations, London, Manchester, Birmingham and Glasgow it can set the discovery settings to that also to target better.

Therefore, the great thing about Tinder is its ability to demographically and geographically target an audience so precisely, something you can’t do with Instagram or Snapchat.

Brand Promotion

Right so a brand has created its profile and has set who it’s going to target, the next step is how it’ll promote its offering. Of course you can’t promote anything to anyone without getting matched with someone…so get swiping! Personally if I was using it as a brand to get as much exposure as possible I’d swipe every profile. Let’s hope other users do the same, but if it was a brand that they loved, surely they’d swipe right?

Success! A match! What shall we say to them. The best message for them could be a link to their website or to a new product or service. Another form of promotion could be the first 100 people to match with the account get a code and link to claim a prize.

Also once you’ve got a set of matches you can create ‘moments’ to send to them all to keep them informed with all the latest news and offers from the brand.

So there’s quite a few opportunities to make Tinder fun for a brand and get the message out there of what they promote.

Reporting

All social media activity needs a reporting system and metrics to determine whether it’s a success or not. This could be people who’ve claimed a prize or signed up or visited the website link provided, but it’ll be hard to see whether they’ve read the message. Alternatively how many matches you get could also be a great determinant of success.

The Problems

I’m not one for being biased, I’m not an American News Corporation…so there are a few pitfalls of using Tinder as a form of marketing. A question that a Tinder strategy also poses is do users want brands taking over their dating app. Or should it be only for actual people. The point of Tinder is dating, and if brands are starting to ‘date’ you with offers and promotions the whole aim of the app goes out the window. People use Tinder to get a date, not really to find the latest product from their best loved brands, so the whole concept of the app is blurred. It’s like going to the pub with your wife or husband and suddenly the social media manager of a brand comes up to your table to sell you something. Not pleasant or wanted…though I’m not married so maybe it’s welcome! But the point is you can’t really tailor an app which is in a completely different market to something a brand could exploit. Facebook, Twitter, Instagram and the others have a place for brands, not sure Tinder does yet.

Another problem is the reporting element previously mentioned, as you can’t really place an ROI on it. Using Tinder is free unless you sign up to the £3.99 premium feature so the potential returns could be quite high if say someone goes on to buy a £50 product from your website. Although the question marketers and senior executives always go on about is the value in it, or should time and funds be allocated to other networks. Thus the reporting side is a downfall.

A further pitfall is whether a brand should use Tinder or just stick to other networks like the big three (Facebook, Twitter and Instagram). It’s true you don’t want to put all your eggs in one basket, but spread your message as much as possible to as many people as possible. But there is a limit and prioritising is needed. Personally I would set up a Snapchat account before Tinder.

One problem with swiping every account under the sun is this could be seen as SPAM. Once you match with a brand, how many more times will they contact you with offers, so you could get bombarded with all these messages, something no one really likes. Of course you could Unmatch the brand if you wanted to avoid this, but there’s the chance the brand could get continually ‘reported’ by users for SPAM.

After analysing the potential Tinder strategy a brand could have against the problems they could incur I’m quite excited to see whether brands actually use the app in the future. I mean it could NEVER happen, or this time next year we could see hundreds of brands on it. The thing to remember is although it sounds like a strange idea, it’s not something to think might never happen. We thought brands would never take over Facebook, but they sure have!

Thanks for reading. I’d love to hear your comments, so please feel free to post them :-) Don’t forget to follow this blog, and me on Twitter @DigitalStuart for more digital news and views!

Twitter Intensifies its Rivalry with New Features

Twitter recently announced plans to introduce a few new features for its users to increase the usability and interface of the social networking site. These new features include group messages when sending Direct Messages and the ability to capture, edit and share video content that’s up to 30 seconds in length. So what do these enhanced features mean for Twitters user base and their rivalry with other social networks.

Now being able to send messages to a group of people means Twitter is competing more against other established apps such as Facebook’s Messenger and WhatsApp. One of drawbacks of Twitter was that their Direct Messaging system wasn’t that useful and was really there just as other social networks have it and because people might use it. I personally don’t really utilise the Direct Messaging feature on Twitter as there are so many other uses like Retweeting, Favouriting and discovering trends that I use it for. For brands having this new update could save them a lot of time when contacting users to tell them something such as they’ve won a prize. Twitter has always been behind when it comes to messaging but now as they’ve placed greater emphasis on it, their competition against the other networks might increase, and see Direct Messages being used more.

Twitter’s new video feature for me is one of the best things they’ve done for some time as it was frustrating recording a video then not being able to upload it onto the network. If you wanted to upload a video to Twitter you’d have to do it via their app Vine, from YouTube or another video streaming site such as Vimeo. But now users can record them, edit to a desired length, then share to their audience. This is a great move for brands who can add more creativity to their content and not feel restricted to just status updates with words or images. Vine is a wonderful tool for 6 second videos on loop, but now being able to record 30 second ones means more can be put into it and edited to something that’s of a higher quality…rather than a rush. The engagement rates for brands will also increase due to the improved content quality and variety in posting, something which us social media people love to monitor. For the rivalry of Twitter this is an essential feature due to Facebook and Instagram now both allowing autoplaying videos, so this feature has never been so crucial for them.

Both these new updates for Twitter illustrate that the social network has got some good plans to keep its competitive edge on the other networks out there, which is needed having recently seen Instagram having more active users than it. For me Twitter has been quite lazy recently as they don’t seem to be evolving as much as other social networks. You look at Instagram for example, they’ve introduced many new features, as have Facebook and Snapchat, but Twitter does seem to be quite reactive. Looking at Twitter now and a year ago, there’s not many changes in terms of functionality. The interface has changed a lot, but the new features are the first for some time.

So the new features Twitter has installed have been a welcome change to users and marketers a like. Let’s hope this is the start of many.

Thanks for reading and don’t forget to follow this blog and me on Twitter @DigitalStuart for more social media and digital marketing news and views.

Is the value of a Snapchat Ad really worth $750,000 per day?

This month Snapchat announced plans that they’re going to start charging brands the astronomical figure of $750,000 or about £500,000 for ads on the platform per day. For this amount of money brands get to show an ad to the social networks youthful and teenage audience…which will promptly disappear in 24 hours. So let’s break this down further. That means a brand would be paying $31,250 an hour, or $520 a minute or $9 a second. For me the figure that is most telling is how much brands are paying a second, as Snapchat ads, stories and messages only last up to 1-30 seconds. So if you’re posting an ad that lasts 30 seconds, you’ve just coughed up $270! Of course there’s no guarantee that the recipient will see out the whole ad, as they might just delete it, thus money wasted!

The other drawback of Snapchat’s ads, if the cost hasn’t already made you faint, is the fact you can’t target them to specific users. So it literally is a mass Snapchat message with no personalisation or anything. I mean for something generic like food this might be ok, but for something specific such as womens clothing, I personally don’t really want to see that (my days of wearing womens clothing are behind me). So the fact you aren’t able to target is a big issue. But I guess the cost is the reason for this. If Snapchat decides to release a targeted ads system, the cost I presume might be lower as you are hitting fewer users. Although it might actually be higher as you’re targeting more specifically!

The question to ask is why and how can Snapchat ask for so much from brands. One of the reasons is that it’s one of the fastest growing apps and social networks around with over 30 million users and this isn’t showing any signs of slowing down as more people sign up and brands look to exploit it. Also there’s a high value to get ads to people’s smartphones and through Snapchat’s ads brands can achieve just this. That’s because when you receive the snap, this is the only ad you see, as it’s not like a website page with loads of banner ads, it’s one ad that takes up your screen. Some might compare this to Instagram’s ad strategy too.

Is there actually any benefit in paying this amount of money? I mean is there actually any value in it, will you get a decent return or any if that. It’s quite hard to determine the ROI of these ads, and a lot will depend on the call to action. If it’s ‘opens’ then this isn’t really a great metric although clicks or website visits/sign ups might be a better determinant of success. Either way it appears Snapchat hasn’t really thought about this yet, nor really has any brand.

So only time will tell whether brands pay the handsome sum of $750,000 for an ad, or will Snapchat rethink this cost strategy. Thanks for reading and please do comment on your views of Snapchat’s ad cost. In the meantime, please do follow my blog and me on Twitter @DigitalStuart for more digital marketing and social media news.

How many Friends do we REALLY have on Facebook

I was looking through my Facebook timeline not too long ago (and to be honest I last looked at it a few minutes ago), and I was wondering how many of these people do I actually talk to, or even see anymore. I think I got to something like the 50 mark, maybe a bit more, don’t really want to be seen as someone with no friends. But I know of people who have about 1,000 friends on Facebook and you kind of think how can someones life accommodate that many…and then you release that they probably only see and speak to about 10% of them.

I recently went through all my friends and did a nice cull, which was both satisfying and freed up lots of space on my newsfeed which has been promptly replaced with brands! I did this not to be cruel or horrible, I did it because to be honest if I carried about them I’d probably see or talk to them, but as I don’t why should I still have them on my feed? There are of course people who like to see what their old pals are up to, and I do too, but there’s a limit to the caring. I was quite shocked to look through my friends and think ‘I haven’t even spoken to that person’, but just added them because we had like 900 mutual friends!

In a world of information overload where we have to digest so much in our newsfeeds, we only really have time for family members and close friends that we want to know what they’re up to. Also whenever we meet people at a party or when we’re out and about, gone are the days when we ask for a phone number, it’s more ‘add me Facebook’! But when do you add someone on Facebook? How many times do you have to have seen the person before you do it? Should you add work colleagues? And of course we’ve all done the Facebook stalk of someone. It’s interesting to know what everyones Facebook etiquette is, as we’re all different. One thing I don’t do though is have my parents on Facebook, for me that’s a social media no no! I mean it’s not because I’m doing anything embarrassing (not usually) or bad, but I find it strange to think they’d be stalking me all the time. Plus I speak to them regularly so they know any important ins and outs!

So it’s safe to say that we all have lots of friends, but we don’t necessary see or speak to them all the time. It’ll be interesting to see whether our Facebook friends grow as we meet more people or decline as we cut out people from our social media lives. Thanks for reading and please feel free to comment on your Facebook friend experiences. For more digital news follow this blog or catch me on Twitter @DigitalStuart.