Category Archives: SMEs

Lessons From Topman’s T-Shirt Debacle

Topman tshirtThis week in the Guardian Woman’s Blog, Jane Martinson wrote about some offensive t-shirts designed and produced by Topman. There are a number of social media lessons that we can learn from this whole event. Read the rest of this entry

Facebook + Skype = recruiter engagement

Following on from my Facebook fatigue or just lazy journalism article comes news from Online Social Media, who also source Mashable and TechCrunch, that Facebook and Skype will work together to provide an in-browser video chat platform.

Facebook + Skype = Faceypook

This, I believe, is awesome news. It’s great because you will be able to video chat with friends and family easily through the social networking tool that you use most regularly to keep in touch with them. Brilliant! I would call it Faceypook. They will probably not call it Faceypook.

Those benefits (and my proposed working title for the project) to one side, lets discuss one of the main objectives of university careers offices – getting students and graduates in front of employers. I’m not talking about your established graduate recruiters, but the masses of other opportunity providers out there. The majority of these providers have Facebook pages and more or less every student has a Facebook account, and despite the great work so far in linking the two through university Facebook pages, the benefits are there for all to see but could be much higher. There is a great opportunity for careers services to facilitate these online conversations.

In its current state, it is difficult to take advantage of Facebook’s massive reach within the student community in relation to careers advice and opportunities. In the eyes of most students, Facebook is for friends, photos, family, etc, not for finding employment. Careers service Facebook pages are gaining more interest, Salford University are doing some great work and reaping the benefits, but often pages are used as a referral mechanism to events or information outside the remit of Facebook. How great will it be then when (although it is tbc) Skype video chat through Facebook becomes a reality? It will, I believe, be the catalyst for students to use video in their job search and become more aware of the need for a professionally maintained online presence.

Careers service Facebook pages will become meeting points for job seeking students/graduates and potential employers – facilitating video interviews between the two. As a recruiter, I’d pay for that service – to chat directly to job seekers. I imagine that Skype’s group calling functionality will be implemented at some point, thus enabling calls to be moderated if required. What a great opportunity for organisations to tap into a fantastic recruitment market and for students to ‘meet’ employers and hone their interview technique!

Lets leave the ‘video can be used to discriminate’ chat at the door for this one. My stance on this issue is that if an employer is stupid enough to let the age, race, gender or a disability affect their recruitment decisions in a video interview, by excluding the video interview process you simply postpone their discrimination until the face-to-face interview. The opportunities that come with being able to tap into the world’s biggest social network outweigh the potential negatives brought about by “what if”s.

On a sidenote, if you hear a loud groan when the Skype/Facebook video chat service is released, that’ll be Google realising that Google+ is now even less likely to take off properly. Ah well Google, chin up, 4th time lucky eh?

Add your thoughts and comments on how this service could be rolled out or whether you think it’s a good idea or not, alternatively tweet thoughts to my account – @OnlineAStevens.

Can you measure the return on investment (ROI) for social media?

Or, more to the point, is there a fully comprehensive way of measuring ROI for social media?

Well, the conclusion that a room full of marketing, social media and PR professionals, as well as a panel consisting of people from a leading digital agency (@robin1966), retail organisation (@HN_Manchester), major sports brand (@AaronLavery), a digital research and analytics agency (@needleinsights) and a shy and retiring @johnrobb77 was ‘No’.

More to the point though, does this actually matter? In my opinion, the answer again is ‘No’.

#thefeed2 panel and audience

ROI of social media

The question of ROI of social media activity is brought up over and over again because, unlike some other marketing tools, it is measurable in some, but not all, aspects. If a marketing tool can accurately be analysed with results linked to it directly (e.g. email marketing), or alternatively if it is widely conceded that accurately measuring ROI is impossible (e.g. motorway billboard), then it will often fly under the ROI radar. Social media doesn’t have this luxury and is very much on the radar. Because elements of it are measurable (number of followers, number of RT, referred traffic – NOT Klout, which is as useful as a random number generator), people are of the opinion that we, as social media professionals, should be able to allocate a pounds and pence value of social media activity.

Social media ambassadors

Rather than finding this elusive reporting technique that offers a solution, I actually believe that social media will break free from the constraints imposed on it by the ROI debate through the education of wider audiences about the true nature and benefits of social media. We need to remember that as a medium social media is widely used, but is still relatively young and widely misunderstood. Your typical internet surfer skims along the surface of online content, barely engaging with brands. Social media, on the other hand, gives brands and content providers the opportunity to distribute content to a deeper degree. Their content is qualified through being shared amongst friends and like-minded audiences along with the opportunity to foster longterm relationships. Do I have a quantifiable scale to illustrate this? No. Sometimes you have to make informed assumptions though. Would I take a safe gamble that an integrated social media strategy will pay dividends? 9 times out of 10, yes.

The way forward

The organisations that benefit the most from social media will be those that fully embrace and integrate it into their marketing strategies. Too many conversations relate to social media in isolation, when it should be integrated as an element of the marketing mix. It is crazy to do otherwise. You can have the best car stereo on the planet, but if you don’t fit it into a car, it’s as useful as…well, Klout (not very). Still we are seeing social media strategies being put into play that are not being integrated into wider marketing strategies, and as a result are working at a fraction of their potential. To be successful, the same amount of care that goes into brand consistency should be applied to ensure that every marketing message has a consideration for social media potential. In many cases a cultural shift will be required within an organisation to properly accommodate truly effective social media strategy, and SMEs will be able to make this shift more easily than larger corporations but, regardless of the fact that the benefits can’t be accurately forecast, if done properly I’d bet my pay cheque that it would offer a good return on investment of time and resources.

And if all else fails, just get Hello There Cupcakes to make you some social media and QR code cupcakes to take your mind off things. Nom nom nom!

Here are the associated tweets for The Feed 2 event.

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Uni or SME? Get involved properly with Groupon

May 2011 stats from eMarketer identify that this year 47% of US internet users (88.2 million) were online coupon users in 2010, and this figure is set to rise by 8.5m by 2013. The UK figures aren’t as huge yet, but bear in mind that 50% of Groupon users are based in the US where the organisation started out, but the top 5 UK online coupon sites had 7.83m unique users in April 2011 (source: comScore, article by Marketing Week – for the record, I don’t agree that LivingSocial will overtake Groupon. Groupon’s exponential growth over the coming months will dwarf LivingSocial’s).

Marketing managers are more accountable than ever for the performance of every pound of their budgets and the trackable nature of online coupons, mixed with the success of sites such as Groupon, provide a marketing tool that is difficult to ignore. Especially considering the proposed partnership between Groupon and Foursquare combining location-based services, one of the areas to watch in 2011, with the success of online coupons.

There is a problem though. When organisations or institutions see these performance figures there is the risk of jumping on the bandwagon without thinking things through. If you have read any of my other articles or seen my presentations, you will know that I like people to ask themselves questions. More specifically, the right questions. In relation to online coupons, don’t ask yourself “How do I get involved with Groupon? Everyone seems to be using it at the minute”. Rather, ask yourself the following (other online coupon sites are available, but I write the following in reference to Groupon):

  • “Does Groupon provide a cost-effective channel for my product or service?”. Will you be offering your product/service at a loss? This is fine if it results in long-term customer relationships, but be aware that many coupon users will be one-time only users of your business.
  • “If it does, how can I differentiate my offering from all of the other companies using Groupon?”
  • “How can I integrate my Groupon campaign with other marketing and social media activity?”
  • “Can we handle the influx of business that the vouchers will create and can we avoid negative customer experiences that will be detrimental to our brand?”. You could end up with hundreds of customers and failing to provide the usual level of service that you provide. The end result is a bunch of low-profit, brand damaging transactions because you can’t handle the load.
  • “What is my strategy to ensure these coupon based transactions result in long-term, profitable and engaging relationships?”. At a basic level, this may be adding customers to your email list. If you want to get more creative, get people to check-in/tweet/update statuses/record and submit videos whilst using your product or service. Create a buzz around your brand whilst these interactions are taking place to really get the most out of each one.

My advice would be:

SMEs – think creatively about your online coupon offering and don’t consider your strategy in isolation. Think about how the coupons fit into your marketing plans and social media strategy. Support your plan with rich media content, such as a video showcasing the product/service on offer, and promote this content via every marketing channel at your disposal.

Universities – now more than ever you should be partnering with local businesses. They rely on trade from your students every year, your students are integral to their business model. Why not use this to your advantage? Use locally sourced promotions to increase student engagement at careers events and such (e.g. Receive 20% discount on food at Tiger Tiger when checking in at Sports Hall for careers fair).

Online coupons offer a great opportunity for consumers, businesses and universities. I hope that they receive proper consideration in the marketing planning process going forward. I would love to hear your thoughts and experiences with online coupons, as a consumer or a brand. Just add your comments.

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