Social Media Content Planning – What it is and why it’s important
Whatever industry your business is involved with, social media matters. An important part of any marketing campaign, social media can help you to raise brand awareness, connect directly with your target audience, build customer relationships and grow sales.
However, in order for a social media campaign to be successful, it needs to be strategic and well organised. The more structured and coordinated a campaign is, the more chance it has of hitting its mark and meeting your business objectives.
Structured social media
Though occasionally a one-off post will go viral and bring the company responsible thousands of views and shares, in general it takes a consistent approach and a lot of work to build up a substantial social media presence.
To get the best results possible from online activity, businesses need to be posting interesting and relevant content multiple times every week. Ideally, this should take place across a variety of platforms, with content tailored to suit each social media network. By being consistent, and posting content that your network will find interesting and informative, you can begin to build up your online presence and get social media working for you.
The easiest way to plan and keep track of your social media activity is to use a content calendar. Clearly laid out and easy to use, a calendar will help you and your marketing team to plan your posts, ensuring you are giving equal attention to relevant social networks and providing you with an easy way of keeping track of your online activity.
At Suzanne Howe Communications, we’ve developed an efficient and easy to use content calendar for ourselves and our clients to work from. It covers all of the biggest social media networks and has been designed to allow users to get the most out of their content planning.
In fact, we think our content calendar is so useful that we’re giving it away in this blog. Download it at your leisure and please feel free to offer suggestions on how we can make it better.
How does PR play a part in your game-plan for business growth?
PR is a vital part of the marketing mix, and for many people, this is what they think marketing is all about (plus a bit of paid-for advertising too perhaps).
However, PR is just one aspect of the complex and ever-evolving discipline that is marketing.
To clarify, the Chartered Institute of Public Relations defines PR as being ‘about reputation – the result of what you do, what you say and what others say about you.’
‘Public Relations is the discipline which looks after reputation, with the aim of earning understanding and support and influencing opinion and behaviour. It is the planned and sustained effort to establish and maintain goodwill and mutual understanding between an organisation and its publics.’
Meanwhile, the latest (2007) definition of marketing from The Chartered Institute of Marketing explains that:
[Marketing is…] ‘the strategic business function that creates value by stimulating, facilitating and fulfilling customer demand. It does this by building brands, nurturing innovation, developing relationships, creating good customer service and communicating benefits. By operating customer-centrically, marketing brings positive return on investment, satisfies shareholders and stake-holders from business and the community, and contributes to positive behavioural change and a sustainable business future.’
In practice, strategic marketing is about going back to basics and the bigger picture for your business:
looking at your brand values, vision and mission,
understanding and defining your target markets,
creating customer journeys to nurture prospects through a buying process,
ensuring customers have a good experience of your product or service to engender long-term loyalty
pricing and packaging your products and services in the most profitable and effective way
You need to start by taking time out from working ‘in your business’ to working ‘on it’. This will give you headspace to define the marketing strategy that will drive your business forward. You can then move into campaign execution, where you start to employ the various communication channels (online and offline) which form ‘the marketing mix’. This is where PR comes into play.
Together, a well-considered, holistic, integrated strategic marketing plan, and tightly focussed, well-managed PR campaign will produce a winning game-plan to drive sales and power your business to achieve its objectives.
With the fast-pace of change in our world today, your business needs to review and refine its marketing strategy on an annual basis to stay relevant and agile. If you would like to be guided through a comprehensive process to review your current marketing strategy, and map out an approach to move your business forward, check out the Get Fruitful Marketing Playbook – a practical step-by-step guide to transform your marketing and create a more passion-fuelled, profitable business.
About the Author: Anwen Cooper is the Creator and Director of Get Fruitful Marketing. She brings a fresh insight and experience from working with over 70 different organisations in the last 15 years to achieve record-breaking sales and an improved bottom line. You can read more at www.getfruitfulmarketing.com
Never underestimate the effectiveness of strong and effective PR
Andy Janes from Muntons PLC guest blogs about what PR means to him and the role it plays in their award-winning malt business, www.muntons.com.
It’s funny how a term can become either misunderstood or misused, even something as simple as the two-letter acronym ‘PR’. I found myself talking to a business colleague about some of the work I undertake and within the conversation ‘PR’ was mentioned. “Yes, press releases are a good way of telling the world what we are doing.” He said. I had to explain that press releases were not what the letters PR stood for. Of course, I did this in a very tactful way, without making them seem like an idiot because that is one of the skills of someone who undertakes PR; Public Relations that is.
Another skill is to recognise your limitations, which is why we employ the services of a professional PR agency rather than try to undertake everything ourselves. I say ‘we’ although of course I mean ‘I,’ as the PR team where I work is one of those rare things: A team which does have an ‘I’ in it. As the only member of the team I undertake all of the necessary corporate PR work. I also look after corporate image, manage the canteen, chair the Works council, take responsibility for CSR activities and prepare the annual review – amongst other things. It is a truism that the longer you work somewhere the broader and more useless information you know. I have been here 38 years and seem to know very little about a lot of things. So, what can a real PR agency bring that a long serving creative individual cannot? For a start, they have resources at their disposal, people who have the time and skills to undertake effective PR strategies. More importantly, they have contacts. As the old saying goes it’s not what you know it’s who you know. As a busy fellow, I do not have the time to build and maintain relationships with the media in general. OK, I know the local newspaper group pretty well and they tend to support local business with press coverage but who do I know in the water treatment media? Contacts here would have been useful when we were trying to tell the world about our new anaerobic digester plant.
We invented a new product, ‘Maltichoc’ it was brilliant. Our New Product Development team had a brainwave and noticed that the price of Cocoa had just shot up three-fold its usual price. They developed a malt based product which could be used to replace a good chunk of cocoa in recipes such as chocolate muffins, brownies and cookies. Being malt based, its cost was linked to the price of cereals not cocoa and would save the manufacturer loads of money. As an aside it also improved the keeping quality and mouthfeel of the end-product, making them seem richer. Taste tests had proved that Joe Public could not tell the difference in appearance and general taste. This was a good story, as not only would this save the manufacturer money, it would also significantly reduce food miles as UK manufacturers would be using a UK made product rather than just importing cocoa from Africa. Now we must tell the world, so bring in the experts….
I picked up the phone to Suzanne Howe, she has a good team and understands the needs of business and offered her the challenge. A PR programme was pieced together and a product launch was arranged in a carefully selected top London restaurant, one chosen to attract the interests of the press. Press releases were pre-prepared, product tastings organised and our exciting new product Maltichoc was successfully launched. The cost was very reasonable, particularly when measured against the amount of press coverage achieved: Had we advertised, we would have had to spend well over ten times the PR cost and I would question whether advertising would have achieved the same level of buzz – is an advert as believable as someone writing a piece in a magazine having personally tasted the effects of this brilliant new product? Never underestimate the effectiveness of strong and effective PR.
We’ve been eagerly awaiting the announcement of the winners of Kent Cooks 2016 and the results are in!
With four titles up for grabs, Olivia Lowe, thirteen, of Maidstone Grammar School for Girls was crowned the overall winner thanks to her salmon and watercress tartlet, followed by plum cobbler. Olivia was among an impressive 158 entries to the competition from youngsters across Kent aged 6 to 19 years. After creating an original menu, submitting recipes and photographs of their dishes, the 13 best entries were invited to a live Masterchef-style cook-off at East Kent College.
Our very own Suzanne was one of the judges of the family category which saw 3 families compete for the top spot. Suzanne says “The stand out dish for me was a lovely lemon posset beautifully presented with a ginger flavour shortbread biscuit. However the winner was eight year old Lucy who didn’t stop showing us her skills. She was able to make bread, pastry, shortbread biscuits and ice cream while her mum assisted and encouraged her to the end.” Lucy Corlett, of St. Philomena’s Primary School in St Mary Cray, Bromley was supported by her Mum, Stephanie, to produce posh cheese on toast, followed by apple pie with homemade bread and butter ice cream.
The winners were presented with trophies, certificates, goody bags and a share of the £500 prize money.
Event hosts KM Charity Team wrote “The panel of judges were impressed by the advanced techniques employed by the young culinary wizards, as well as their use of local ingredients and ability to create healthy, balanced meals.”
Suzanne was delighted to have been involved in such a great event, and to support the great team at KM Charity. “It’s clear that they have worked really hard to make the 2016 Kent cooks competition such a success and it was great to see so many Kent companies involved. It was a great day and I look forward to being involved next year” says Suzanne.
Preparations and applications for Kent Cooks 2017 are well underway, find out more at www.kentcooks.co.uk
Whether you follow politics or not, the 2016 American Presidential Election has been impossible to ignore. Throughout the campaign, candidates have attacked each other, made continual social media gaffs and made claims, and counterclaims, that were totally unsupported by facts.
As a result, Hillary Clinton and Donald Trump were the two least liked candidates in history. According to The Washington Post, a whopping 56% of Americans had an unfavourable opinion of Clinton, while an even more staggering 63% of voters saw Trump in an unfavourable light. These figures are even more surprising given the results of the election. That Trump could win the Presidency with two-thirds of the country’s voters disapproving of him is truly remarkable.
So what exactly did happen to public relations in the US election? And what lessons can we learn from this extraordinary campaign?
Nothing is ever off the record
This is one lesson Donald Trump probably wishes he’d learned well in advance of the election. Though in the end the majority of the American public seemed to forgive him for his ‘locker room banter’, his ‘off the record’ remarks about women to TV host Billy Bush very nearly derailed his campaign.
Any candidate or company trying to raise their profile or promote a product or service would do well to remember that the comments they make, in any setting, reflect on their corporate image. Even if you think you’re talking to a friendly colleague or collaborator, remember to keep your comments on message.
Keep the battle cry simple
Donald Trump managed to rally millions of Americans behind his campaign by simply stating he’d ‘Make America Great Again’. Even when he had few policies or ideas to back this claim up, the simplicity of the message seemed to resonate with voters. Clinton on the other hand had a slightly more complex message. By trying to present policies, discuss ideas and use more sophisticated language, she seemed to alienate the electorate and give her opponent the edge.
Know your audience
Despite the fact that most of the world saw Trump as a reality TV star rather than a politician, he really knew his audience and understood exactly how to rally them behind the campaign. No matter what the candidate did or said, his fans seemed to forgive him and even to love him for it. He understood what they wanted him to say, what they wanted him to care about and how dissatisfied they were with the status quo.
Unfortunately for Clinton, she never seemed to have as much of an affinity with her target audience. Though there were dedicated supporters in her camp, the wider public seemed to view her suspiciously and were generally unwilling to give her the benefit of the doubt.
Whether you’re running for president or organising a corporate marketing campaign, you can learn a thing or two from the dramatic presidential race. Giving PR companies a lot to think about, this hard fought campaign may well have changed PR in politics for good.
Whatever industry you’re in, trade shows are important. A great opportunity to meet new people, network and get your brand out there. A good trade show can give your business the impetus and the confidence it needs to thrive.
Though trade shows require a financial and time investment, get it right and you could enjoy an impressive return on your investment. So, to help you get as much as possible from your next event, we’ve put together a few tips straight from our expert team:
Bigger isn’t always better
You don’t have to have the biggest stand at a trade show to get noticed. Though big stands will draw attention, if your stand is well put together, full of useful information and staffed by an engaging and knowledgeable team, visitors will be sure to stop by to talk, learn and network.
Get your message across
Decide exactly what it is you’re trying to promote at the exhibition and then work to ensure all your information and branding is getting that same message across, clearly and concisely. If you try to pack too much in, your message can become diluted and confusing, so be clear, stick to the point and create a confident and engaging company image.
A lot of organisers offer benefits and support to exhibitors both before, during and after the show. Talk to your venue to find out what they provide in the way of social media, press activity, add-on events like drinks receptions and make sure your company is involved wherever possible.
The people manning your stand are ambassadors for your business. The more professional, knowledgeable and communicative they are, the more you’ll get out of the event. It’s important to ensure your company comes across as professional and trustworthy, so make sure your staff don’t eat while they’re on the stand and end up talking to potential customers with a mouthful of food. Make sure they don’t sit down and that they are always at the front engaging with customers and talking to fellow exhibitors. In addition, even if it has been a long day, never look bored and ensure the stand is buzzing as the doors are closing just as much as it was when they opened.
A competition is a great way to engage with passersby and get contact details from potential customers. Offer a prize that’s worth competing for and do your best to get entrants as excited as possible about what’s on offer.
Last but not least, it’s incredibly important that you follow up on any leads you get during the show. If you just sit back and wait for customers to get in touch with you, you may lose out on valuable business, or worse, rivals could steal your new client from under your nose. Putting in a few hours on the phone after the event will consolidate the work you did during the show and help your business get the most out of the exhibition. A good CRM system such as Microsoft Dynamics will ensure valuable contacts are not lost or forgotten.
To find out more about making the most of exhibitions and events, explore our site or get in touch with us today.
The Living Wage – Better for Staff, Better for Businesses
The summer of 2015 saw the Chancellor of the Exchequer announce government plans to introduce a compulsory minimum wage premium for all staff over 25 years of age. Referred to as the ‘national living wage’, the government rate was introduced in April 2016.
Not to be confused with the national minimum wage, the national living wage means that workers aged 25 years or over (and not in their first year as an apprentice) are legally entitled to receive a minimum of £7.20 per hour.
Whilst the national living wage is now a legal requirement and compulsory for all businesses, the Living Wage is a voluntary hourly rate set independently and updated annually. Calculated according to the basic cost of living in the UK, the current Living Wage in the UK is £8.25, rising to £9.40 an hour in London. Employers are able to choose whether they pay the Living Wage and many employers have chosen to adopt the Living Wage despite it meaning they’re shelling out more in staff wages. But why?
Well, aside from the support the Living Wage has received from the Prime Minister at the time the campaign was launched, David Cameron, as well as cross party support, the Living Wage has actually proved good for business. We’ve spoken to Sandy Aird the Managing Director of Enhance Office Cleaning Ltd a strong advocate for the Living Wage to find out the impact it has had on his business and the cleaning industry as a whole.
What impact do you think paying the Living Wage will have on the contract cleaning industry?
“Research carried out by Queen Mary University of London between 2011 and 2013 indicated that companies paying the Living Wage benefitted from improvements in the stability, attitudes and characteristics of the workers. Paying the Living Wage has PR benefits, including helping to attract new business and in recruiting staff. Where the Living Wage is paid it contributes to workers and clients perceiving a greater value in the job being done.”
What made you decide to offer your staff the Living Wage?
“It is only right in my view that any working person in our society should be paid at a level where they can consistently achieve a basic standard of living. In 2010 Enhance was quite small, but expanding, so I decided if I were to try to convert all my clients to the ‘Living Wage’ it would be easier to do this sooner rather than later. I contacted all of our non-Living Wage clients telling them that Enhance had taken a policy decision to implement the Living Wage as a basic rate of pay across the whole business and giving them three months’ notice of this intention. After discussions about costs, work specifications etc. 21 of our 23 clients agreed. In 2016 we now have 60 clients, most of whom support the Living Wage and 85% of our staff are paid Living Wage or higher.”
What impact has this had on your customers and how do they feel about it?
“Generally the relationship we have with our clients is more secure and they have a better appreciation of the service provided.”
What has been the reaction from your staff? Has it affected staff retention?
“There is undoubtedly a positive impact at various levels on our staff. Between 2010 and 2011 when we converted most of our staff from lower pay rates to the Living Wage our staff retention increased by 50%.”
What do you see as the future of the contract cleaning industry and is the Living Wage the way the rest of the industry is going too?
“The contract cleaning industry will continue to expand and it will increasingly adopt a more responsible approach towards the employment terms offered. I hope that more and more contract cleaning companies will negotiate a Living Wage and sell the benefits of paying a Living Wage to their clients. Ultimately it is the client who decides through their budgeting and choice of contractor. The success of The Living Wage Foundation in signing up more and more organisations who commit to paying a Living Wage suggests that paying it will continue to gain popularity.
As you know, Caroline Reilly does a lot of speaking engagements about the Living Wage and you work closely with her, what have you done together? And has this relationship helped your business?
“Caroline and I presented ‘the benefits of paying a Living Wage’ at The FM Show at Excel in 2015 and in 2016. Knowing Caroline so well is helpful in supporting our clients who want to advertise themselves as Living Wage Employers. Having a close relationship with The Living Wage Foundation makes us attractive to the right kind of clients and demonstrates that we are not just paying lip service to paying a Living Wage but really do believe it is the right thing to do.”
It’s not just the contract cleaning industry that has reaped the rewards of the Living Wage, Livingwage.org.uk reports “An independent study examining the business benefits of implementing a Living Wage policy in London found that more than 80% of employers believe that the Living Wage had enhanced the quality of the work of their staff, while absenteeism had fallen by approximately 25%. Two thirds of employers reported a significant impact on recruitment and retention within their organisation. 70% of employers felt that the Living Wage had increased consumer awareness of their organisation’s commitment to be an ethical employer.”
Whilst the government has instructed the Low Pay Commission that by 2020 the national living wage for staff aged 25 and over should reach 60% of median earnings, meaning a rise to around £9 per hour, many hope that, by then, most businesses will already have adopted the Living Wage which at that point based on current trends is likely to be around £10.60 per hour. Aside from the obvious benefits to staff pockets, increasing wages has actually had a positive effect on many businesses bottom lines thanks to increased employee satisfaction, productivity and staff retention, a reduction in absenteeism and earning a reputation as an ethical employer.
The Thame Food Festival was held on Saturday, 24th September. It was a great event with over 25,000 people visiting the event. Our client Visqueen Ultimate – the UK’s strongest bin bags – was the main sponsor and were giving away bin bags all day! Try them for yourself by visiting www.amazon.co.uk and get them delivered to your door. It was great to see so many great chefs there including Will Torrent and the lovely Nadiya Hussain from the popular GBBO!
When working to raise the profile of your business, there are lots of tools you can use to engage your target audience and reach out to potential new customers. From social media and online advertising to direct mail and promotional events, there’s a marketing tool to suit every company, situation and campaign.
We’ve all heard the saying ‘a picture paints a thousand words’. It’s one thing to create good content, but another to really sell a story. Newspapers use attention-grabbing headlines formed from rhyming couplets, alliteration, a play on words and lots of other stylistic ways to draw readers in. But one of the biggest and best ways they entice readers to pick up a paper and leaf through its topical contents is through photography. The same goes for websites, editorials and any other medium that is designed to tell the reader a story, whether to sell an idea, a business or a brand.