Social Media platforms for business

Worldwide, billions of people engage with some form of social media. Whether it is for personal or commercial use, social media platforms are a great tool to encourage interaction and engagement.

With such a wide reach, these platforms offer endless opportunities for businesses, however when promoting your business online, misconceptions of each platform can result in disengagement. Since there are many different aspects to social media, it’s essential to understand which one will work best for you, depending on the type of business you operate and the audience you want to reach.

In our experience of working with businesses to help them use social media to raise awareness and drive growth, we have found that there is still confusion from business owners about which channel is best for their brand and for the audience they are trying to target.

Considerations such as whether a business is consumer facing or B2B, the industry they operate in and even the demographic of their customers will all have an impact on which social media platform they should focus their attention on.

Acting as the largest of the platforms, Facebook has a very broad reach, amplifying content to varied consumer audiences. Although it started out as a simple-to-use cyber method of interacting with friends and loved ones, it soon became much used throughout the business world, closely targeting specific audiences with relevant content and ads.

Despite this, Facebook’s algorithms mean that it prioritises personal content over sponsored ads. This implies that although users may ‘like’ a business profile, they will not see the content as frequently as you might like. This can result in lower engagement.

It’s also important to consider the age demographic of users.  Over recent years, the active audience has become increasingly older, as platforms such as Instagram now take the lead with younger consumers.

This is vital when thinking about which platform to use to enhance your business. You need to make sure your target audience will engage.  It is also important to remember that Facebook is targeted towards a more consumer-based audience, rather than B2B.

Instagram is continuing to grow into becoming one of the most popular platforms across all ages. Used both personally and commercially, it allows you to get creative and post an array of photos and videos, documenting your most ‘Instagramable’ moments.

Acting as a visual mood board with little text, Instagram is great for promoting business culture, events and products, though it’s probably not the best choice to post information that requires more explanation. Like Facebook, Instagram works best with a consumer based target audience.

With the majority of users under the age of thirty-five, in order to draw them in and ‘follow’ your page, you must make sure that you post visual, frequent content. It’s also a good idea to stick with a theme, as most users prefer coordinated content.

When using Instagram to promote your business, it’s always a nice idea to show your personality. Regular photo updates of what your team is up to gives your clients a more personal insight into your company, which could end up attracting more business. Clients like to feel involved.

Twitter, although users stats are slowly declining, is great conversation platform. With its 280-word limit, it’s a good way to interact with other accounts.

When using Twitter to boost your company, it can be an effective tool to engage with your customers. For instance, customer service is big on Twitter. In fact, larger companies who use the platform normally expect questions, concerns and complaints regarding their service. A downfall in this is that millions of people could potentially see this, so companies must be prepared to quickly respond to negative comments to avoid disappearing into the Twitter void.

For SMEs, the platform can be used slightly differently. In fact, it’s a great way to quickly share business updates for instance blog posts and new wins, as well as again incorporating what the team is up to.

Unlike the other platforms, LinkedIn works more as a business-networking tool. Whether it is recruiting, or again sharing company updates, LinkedIn is a professional platform.

As such, LinkedIn is a great way to share thought leadership content to demonstrate your expertise. It can also be used effectively to promote company news and events.

LinkedIn also acts as an online job board, flourishing with new opportunities for all levels. So, when using the platform for your business you need to also consider the possibility of attracting hopeful job candidates as well as new client interest, so again its important to have some one available to answer questions and engage with activity in a timely way.

When deciding which platform works for you, remember you don’t need to use all four. Picking the most appropriate for your brands ethos is key. You also need to remember that social media does take time and commitment. You need to be frequent with your interaction to get the most out of its use.
We regularly work with clients to develop and execute social media strategies in order to raise their profiles and drive engagement.

Podcasts for business

This week Mark Sweney, media business correspondent for The Guardian, signalled to his readers that podcasts are currently having what he called “a Netflix moment”.

He writes...”Global hits – from the ground-breaking Serial to Up and Vanished, and TV crossovers such as Dirty John – and Spotify’s plan to spend up to $500m on leading producers have made podcasts a hot media property”.

Podcasts are typically defined as a digital audio file, which can be downloaded or streamed, usually as a series, to a community of subscribers. The fast growing size of these online “communities” is why podcasts are now making their way onto the mainstream media’s agenda.

This means that there is yet another new media area for businesses and organisations to take into account when developing their communications strategies to raise their online profile, and the growing influence of podcasts on audiences is not to be underestimated.

Just in the same way that social media’s constant updates now dictate and make up so much of traditional mainstream media’s news stories, podcasts are now also making their impact felt. Indeed, recent Netflix global hit series Dirty John, was itself the result of a highly successful podcast looking at this case and produced by the Los Angeles Times.

It is no surprise that media outlets from the BBC to the FT have launched their own, popular podcasts. They recognise that this type of content is attractive to listeners as they appeal to busy professionals who can listen whilst on the move, however unlike traditional radio shows, listeners tap into themes and topics that they are specifically interested in. Podcasts such as ‘Keeping It Candid’ allow aspiring influencers to tap into the tips and tricks of social media and Adam Grant’s TED inspired Worklife podcast  are now beginning to wield just as much influence as traditional stalwarts such as Radio 4’s Today Programme.

But what does this mean for businesses and organisations trying to make impact with podcast producers? How should they approach this new medium?

The simple answer is that the same old media training principles will apply, from knowing the editorial style of the producer before going in for an interview, to making sure that you actually answer the question, with jargon free, succinct and personable responses. It would also be wise to listen to the podcast before going in and invest in an in-depth chat with the podcast producer or presenter, to find out what they think constitutes a good interview.

But perhaps the most important factor to take into account is the global nature of the podcast. Unlike with other more traditional broadcast interviews the podcast is truly global in its reach.

Make sure when you are preparing for a podcast appearance that you have considered how your messages will translate to audiences, from the UK to right across the globe. You may be sitting in a small room in Soho, having what feels like an intimate chat with the presenter, but the power and reach of the podcast is that this conversation will be delivered potentially across many continents. So it is important that your messages are as accessible, relevant and comprehensive to as wide an audience as possible.

Social Media

Part of the internet’s appeal and ultimate success is that it offers an online environment where the rules are different from normal daily life.

If we spent our daily life screaming obscenities and bullying people who we didn’t like the look of or whose views we disagreed with we would soon find ourselves in ‘hot water' as this would be going against all the well established laws of our civilised society. These laws govern our behaviour within our communities and encourage us to be polite and respectful to the people around us.

But the internet is a very different place with very different rules. The big social media companies have created platforms so popular and successful that they are now struggling to control extreme and criminal behaviour – a new breeding ground for abusive and exploitative users.

There are many examples, from terrorist groups sharing extreme content to mobilise hate crimes to organisations creating fake news stories to change opinion and influence legislative power. These platforms have also attracted many criminal groups who are able to share highly sensitive material without being policed.

There are many positive aspects to social media from keeping us connected, enabling us to share and receive compelling and engaging content and helping us stay informed as key events unfold around the world in real time. But we now need much more intervention, with governments and the big social media companies working together to change behaviours and help prevent this criminal activity.

Clearly, monitoring behaviours on these vast social media platforms is a big challenge, and it’s critical we maintain freedom of speech so we need to use current technologies to help do the ‘heavy lifting’. We know machine learning is a powerful tool and one which can be deployed with the combination of filters to identify bullying and extreme material.

There also needs to be severe fines and more criminal sentencing introduced for extreme content posted online – this is not identified and removed quickly enough by social media companies. Most importantly surveillance laws need to be reviewed and amended so that policing extreme behaviour is made alot easier.

These thoughts and ideas are really only 'scratching the surface’. Most of us share a desire to improve the way we live and work in this new digital world but we need the collective help of every company, organisation and government to ensure that social media is used for what it was intended and not to our society’s and our individual detriment.

In the meantime, it is vital that every organisation has a clear strategy in place for not only how they communicate across their social media channels, but also how they respond to negative or potentially damaging communication or messages directed at them. This needs to include messaging and tone of voice, key roles and responsibilities across an organisation for owning communication, protocols for responding to any messages in a timely and coordinated way and pre-prepared lines to take.

If you would like to discuss any issues relating to your online and content strategies for your business or organisation please get in touch with our expert team – we would be delighted to talk to you.

Quality content

As we all know, most businesses and organisations now focus on delivering quality content that will make the right impact with their target audiences. Long gone are the days of general panic when the focus was on getting any sort of content up online as quickly as possible. 

Now in today’s digital business world most of us realise that only quality content will deliver the commercial traction most businesses are after in 2018.

From literally cutting and pasting widely available material into a business’ social media feed, companies and organisations are now clear that they have to focus on creating and generating top quality content, whether this is a well argued blog or opinion piece article, or an academic white paper or industry report. We have all realised that less really is more and that it is definitely worth the investment from the marketing budget to generate content that is in both impressive and as relevant as it can possibly be to both current and potential customers and clients.

In our view at Westgate, content produced commercially must always resonate with a business’ audiences, from customers to potential investors and industry influences. However there is one audience that sometimes many businesses and organisations can overlook, when planning on the themes and topics that their content will address.

As well as engaging with new business prospects there is also a huge opportunity to proactively launch this content to target media. Not only does this increase the corporate profile but it also will of course boost online traffic and presence, a huge commercial bonus.

The key to achieving media exposure lies in the preparation. When planning the themes and topics of the new content, it is important to include the PR and communications team or agency in this process, to develop the media angles for the content so that once launched it will also attract the interest of target media for even more impact. 

At Westgate we are always involved with this process with our clients, and when generating content for a client, we will also always ensure that the topics resonate with the client’s media landscape so that we can ensure that we deliver the right media impact for them.

National coverage of new content not only puts a business or organisation in the news but it will also be a powerful, and very cost effective tool in really leveraging SEO levels and keeping businesses or organisations ahead of their competition.


The dangers of letting in the media spotlight

It was been fascinating to watch the current series of Channel 4’s A Very British Country House about the luxury hotel Cliveden however, after watching the first episode, I really started to wonder how much benefit the iconic brand of Cliveden would derive from the forensic gaze of the documentary’s cameras.

The highlight of the first episode was the arrival of Meghan Markle and her Mother to spend her last night as a single woman at Cliveden before she became the Duchess of Sussex at Windsor Abbey.

But we also have seen the reality of looking after the super rich – from their arrival in Bentleys and Ferraris to listening in to their outrageous demands and complaints – “why would you only just serve olives with champagne?” “The inside of the kettle isn’t spotless” etc. 

We have seen the struggle of the beleaguered house keeping staff to get the rooms ready in time for the next batch of demanding guests (particularly fraught when some go AWOL!) and we have also heard some very honest views from the staff. The sommelier confessed to being envious of the wealth of the guests, the butler said that nowadays it was all about the money and making sure that guests paid their bills.

You really wonder whether the Cliveden Management team understood what they were getting into? Did they have a defined brand vision? Were they happy to dispel the glamour and myths about Cliveden? Did they think that guests would want to see this “warts and all” reality? Did they understand the potential impact this media exercise could have on their reputation? Did anyone brief the staff before they confessed all to the cameras?

We are told that The Queen, head of one of the world’s most established luxury brands, is suspicious of letting the public (and its media) access too much reality for fear that royalty could be deemed too accessible, pedestrian and therefore ultimately dispensable. I think that this is a lesson that Cliveden would do well to listen to.

Why would seeing the outrageous demands of overly indulged guests make you choose to stay at Cliveden? And wouldn’t the scramble to get the rooms ready make you feel that standards might be slipping? Not helped by the cameras filming the manager rallying the staff to improve service standards after some recent negative Trip Advisor reviews.

But one of the most mystifying aspects was why the young man in charge of the hotel’s social media accounts was profiled? Again, images on Instagram should appear to effortlessly convey the glamour and mystique of the Cliveden experience. Viewers don’t need to see the effort involved – from him checking his typos to hosting Instagram Influencers, hoping that they will post nice reviews.

When you are building an experiential and luxury brand such as Cliveden, a strategic lens must be applied so that none of the glamour and magic staying in one of the England’s most renowned historic houses is dispelled and in-fact you are only adding even more layers of mystique and exclusivity.

In a digital marketing age, all about selling “the experience”, it is important for businesses to remember that there can be dangers in allowing in too much media daylight.

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