Category Archives: Social Business

Choosing the right online channels to get the best reach EIleen brown digital marketing amastra

Choosing online channels to get the best reach

Getting the right channel for marketing is an important key part of your overall digital marketing plan. Consumers see massive amounts of information each day across every device they use. in your digital marketing activities, you will need to consider which channel will be best for your campaign.

Think about using more than one channel too and remember that it is important for a brand to have a consistent message. If a campaign is going to be delivered across a variety of channels, it is important that the message resonates across a variety of offline and online channels. Customers view the brand as a whole entity – whether they are in the shop, viewing the online store, or interacting with the brand on social media channels. Consistency across all different channels – online and offline – is vital to multi-channel success. A holistic view needs to be taken of all of your outbound and inbound channels.

You will need to consider these four points when choosing your channel:

  • Who is going to see your digital marketing communications? You will want to connect with people that will either buy the product or respond to your communications the way you want them to
  • Which channel receives information? Carry out research to see which social platforms  your intended audience currently use to receive information and tailor your message to suit. Short or simple messages might be most effective across social media, long or complex communications may need a different channel to be the most effective.
  • Calculate the cost of communicating this message across each channel. Channels such as TV will be expensive, and some publishers will charge considerably more than others. Social channels can be populated at little or no cost, depending whether you pay for promoted posts or use the free channels.
  • Define what response is required from this communication. Do you want to engage, or surface influencers, or assess customer satisfaction for the product. Make sure all comments are responded to in accordance with your defined framework.

Advertising covers much more than social media advertising.  If you think about apps that are delivered to Android, or Windows desktops, these apps can contain ads for your brand. In addition to traditional emails or SMS broadcasts, you could communicate through tablet apps or web sites, wearables, in-store kiosks, QR codes and RFID tags.  Also consider partner or affiliate marketing – or use influencers to extend your coverage.

Create a list of suitable channels in your digital marketing playbook and compare the performance of each one. Make sure that each channel has a set of services that map to your overall plan. The channel might need to have tools for customer relationship management, order management, product management, and issue management. If these are standardised, then  you can easily adopt any new marketing channel that comes online.

Is email all you seem to do at work?

Email costs North American businesses nearly $2 trillion annually – a huge amount of money. Collaborations specialise Contatta has published an infographic showing just how much American businesses pay employees to process email.

The infographic shows some staggering inefficiencies in the way we work:

Workers spend on average 13 hours of their workweek reading and answering email – around 637 hours annually.

Based on the average professional wage in the US of $23 per hour, businesses pay over $15K per employee to process email

Collectively, employees spend nearly 75 billion hours in email. This costs businesses nearly $2 trillion in salaries. That is around 14 times the combined wealth of Bill Gates, Oprah and Warren Buffett.

That amount of money could give everyone in the US with $5,637. But we would have no email!

The staggering cost of business email infographic

Data and statistics were pulled from the US Bureau of Labour, McKinsey Global Institute and the Radicati Group to showcase the ineffectiveness of email and the way we process things.

So why do we still send emails instead of communicating using instant messaging tools such as Chatter, Lync, and Yammer? 

Like the memos of the past, we seem to think that email gives us the permanence of a written memo. We have an audit trail and an ‘official’ message that  can be printed out and faxed or posted to anyone.

Actually, instant messaging and other collaboration tools can do this as well. Firewall filters can be applied to block unsuitable messages, or messages filled with profanities or other undesirable keywords. All messages can be archived and audited and processed like their email alternatives.

We need to change our behaviour. but after over 20 years of electronic messaging – it is going to be a long hard slog to embrace true social business.

Eileen Brown is a social media strategist and consultant at Amastra, a columnist at ZDNet and author of Working The Crowd: Social Media Marketing for Business. Connect with Eileen on Twitter and or contact her to find out how she can elevate your brand and help your business become more social.

Just how valuable are Twitter followers to your small business?

I saw an interesting infographic from Twitter the other day. It tracked the progress of a follow of a promoted tweet. There are some interesting statistics in this infographic which was produced by Twitter in conjunction with Marketprobe International.

73 percent of Twitter users follow a small to medium enterprise (SME) for updates on their products. If you are running a small business it is really important to keep in touch with your customers, and more importantly, your potential customers. keeping in touch with them will turn them into advocates. If they are not ready to buy from you just now, if they like you, they could still pass your message on to other potential customers.

85 percent of tweeters feel more engaged with an SME after following them. They are more likely to favourite your tweet, retweet it or have a direct conversation with you. The personal touch makes them feel much closer to you the brand. Your direct engagement with them will make them more likely to recommend you to others. 82 percent are more likely to recommend an SME they follow to friends.

72 percent of followers are likely to make a purchase after following a company.  Your followers become your advocates. They feel that they have a good relationship with you as an individual and also your brand. The personal touch from an SME makes them  feel more valued so their intent to buy from you is higher.

Here’s the full infographic from @twitterUKI_SME



Eileen Brown is a social media advisor at Amastra, a columnist at ZDNet and author of Working The Crowd: Social Media Marketing for Business. Connect with Eileen on Twitter and or contact her to find out how she can elevate your brand and help your business become more social.

Microsoft releases global survey results on ‘Enterprise social’ adoption

Microsoft have released an interesting infographic about productivity and how workers perceive that social tools will benefit them in the workplace.

Microsoft recently commissioned a global study asking 9,908 information workers in 32 countries what social tools they’re using, the value they’re seeing, and what barriers they’re encountering.

The results show that employees across the globe are interested and excited by enterprise social tools and are taking social tools to work with them, even if it goes against company protocol. The survey results are detailed in this deck and summarised in the infographic below:

Research highlights include:

  • Nearly half of employees report social tools at work help increase their productivity; but
    • More than 30% of companies underestimate the value of the tools, often restricting their use.
  • More than 40% of employees feel there isn’t enough collaboration in their workplaces, and that social tools could foster better teamwork; as a result
    • 33% say they are willing to spend their own money to buy social tools.

There are interesting statistics about the way that men and women differ in their adoption of social tools:

  • Men are more likely than women to attribute higher productivity levels to social tools in a professional setting.
  • Women are more likely than men to believe their company restricts the use of social tools.
  • Men are more likely than women to say these restrictions are due to security concerns, while women are more likely to blame productivity loss.

Different industry sectors had concerns about social tools adoption too:

  • Financial services and government employees are most likely to say their company places restrictions on the use of social tools, likely due to the high level of regulation in those sectors.
  • Professionals in financial services (74 per cent) and government (72 per cent) are more likely than those in other fields to say these restrictions are due to security concerns,
  • Professionals those working in retail (59 per cent) and travel and hospitality (57 per cent) are more likely to blame productivity loss.

There are some interesting responses in the data and a validation that Microsoft’s acquisition of Yammer was in line with its future direction to securing its place in the market as a social business increasing team collaboration and ‘drive business value’ for organisations.

Eileen is a social media strategist and consultant at Amastra, a columnist at ZDNet and author of Working The Crowd: Social Media Marketing for Business. Contact Eileen to find out how she can elevate your brand and help your business become more social.

7 questions to ask your social media expert before you hire


There are a lot of social media ‘experts’ out there. almost everywhere you turn, there are people that tout themselves as experts in social media, and who are ready to help you get online, enhance your presence, configure your profile.  you name it, an ‘expert’ is ready to help you with your online challenges. 

They baffle you with acronyms, have the latest devices, hardware and terminology.  They live on LinkedIn, talk on Twitter and frequent Facebook far more than you think you will ever be.

So what questions do you ask them before you hire them so you can spot the social media snake oil salesman.

Here are some strategic questions to ask.

  • What influencer programs have you had success with?  Influencers are the core of a successful business relationship with the community.  There are several ways of discovering, organising and managing influencers.  Good social media companies should be able to highlight several success stories for managing influencers.
  • What are our objectives?  A consultant should have spent time listening to you and should understand your business goals and objectives. Unless the social media company understands your business, it will not be able to work well with you.
  • How will you measure ROI?  Success is tied to sales for companies.  I know social media is all about engagement and relationships but spending hard earned money needs to provide a positive return.  Scorecards measure sales.  The other stuff is just a ‘nice to have’
  • Who will be doing the work? Will it be a junior member of staff, social media savvy but not business savvy? Will it be someone with good business knowledge who can deal appropriately with any crisis that might happen?  Choosing the wrong member of the team to deliver the outbound communications can rebound badly.
  • What components should be need in our social media strategy?  The key thing here is to focus on frameworks instead of tools. Beware of someone who talks about Twitter or Facebook all the time.  Often your strategy will be multi layered, multi-channel, with several approaches
  • How will you measure our performance? Good social media companies will use a selection of reporting tools and add a manual component into each of their analysis reports. Often the hunch gives extra measurement insight to a bland set of reports
  • How do you  manage content?  Successful companies will tie content into a specific content calendar to align with your product development cycle, marketing or business plans. It always needs to be organised and structured and in line with the organisational needs and strategy. Ensure that the marketing communications plan is also included in the content strategy.

Credit: wildxplorer

Eileen is a social business strategist, ZDNet columnist and author of Working The Crowd: Social Media Marketing for Business. Contact her to find out how she can help your business extend its reach.

Social Business, Social Media for businesses


I often get asked what the term Social Business really means.  Is it the new name for social media?  Is it something else entirely?

Here are the main differences as it applies to business.  I’ve broken the main points down into the top line bullet points and highlighted the main differences between the two.

Social Business

Breaks down organisational silos.  In the social business collaboration enables virtual teams to work together efficiently on projects without the need to send attachments round, keep multiple copies of the same document that gets out of date.

Democratises data.  Project and workflow information is available to everyone in the team that needs the information.  Enterprise search enables documents to be discovered, permissions ensure that the right documents can be seen by the right person.

Anywhere, Anytime working.  Project teams can work remotely. Conferencing tools enable sharing of information, virtual face to face meetings, and synchronous work streams and engagement.

Flattens hierarchies.  In the social business, internal communications tools means that you can communicate with the right person in the company without navigating the hierarchical layers of management.  Work with the person in the organisation that has the skills you need.

Social Data. Keeps communication flowing and knowledge sharing inside the business

Social Media

The earphones of the brand. Listen to what your customers are saying about you, engage them in dialogue, build relationships and solve problems.  Discover nascent brand issues before they magnify to major problems.

The brand microphone. Use your brand advocates to tell your message on your behalf.  With appropriate advocacy programs and incentives schemes in place, your brand advocates will become an extension to your business.

Community Engagement.  Have a relationship with your customers and partners that goes beyond the sales cycle.  Build enduring feedback loops, gain innovation, ideas and change sentiment.

Competitive credibility.  With thought leadership papers and leadership posts you can show your expertise in the marketplace against your competitors.

Search visibility.  With updated, fresh and engaging content, you will be easily discovered and visible in search rankings.

Social Connections.  Keeps two way conversation flowing between the business and its customers and partners

Both social media and social business conversations enable a rich dialogue inside and outside of the organisation.  To be successful in your social media activities externally, you need to have a ‘joined up’ business internally.

Good business practices will deliver excellent customer charters, customer service and customer satisfaction.

It all starts from within.  Is your business a social business yet?

Eileen is a social business strategist, ZDNet columnist and author of Working The Crowd: Social Media Marketing for Business. Contact her to find out how she can help your business extend its reach.

Image credit: jasminejennyjen

8 ways to spot the social media snake oil salesmen



Everyone is a social media expert right?  I mean social media is so pervasive that everyone must know about it?


There are lots of companies just starting in social media and wanting to take their first steps – their first correct steps online.  They need help to get it right.

Unfortunately, there are lots of people who claim to be experts in social media.

They are advising companies on social media implementation without implementing a strategy or a plan.  They don’t have any ROI examples and they don’t have the depth or the breadth of experience to be able to offer balanced advice across the channels.

They don’t even have a plan implemented for their own company…

If you’re looking to hire a social media consultant to help you with your community implementation or social business strategy, there are some things that you can watch for when you’re looking around for a good consultant.

Be wary of anyone that is keen to push you towards one solution such as Facebook for your business.  Facebook is not right for every business, nor is Twitter. Make sure you talk through ALL of the possible choices with someone who knows the features and benefits of each

Watch out for over promotion.  Snake oilers are keen to promote their services over everyone else’s.  Watch what they write about.  If their blog is full of self promotion and self congratulatory posts, avoid them.  If their Twitter feed exhorts you to retweet them all the time, or like their Facebook pages, they are just trying to make themselves look good to other customers.

Look for longevity.  How long have they been working with social media?  Have they got years of experience across different platforms or are they new to the game – and only one step ahead of you? For example, Twitter has been around since 2006 and got popular at SxSW (South by SouthWest conference) in early 2007.  Enthusiasts and early adopters of the technology should have been on Twitter for at least a couple of years.  If you want to find out how long someone has been on Twitter use a tool such as When did you join Twitter to check them out

Personal disclosure.  Social media experts know how much personal and business information to share in their updates.  Whilst talking about business constantly can put people off, so can sharing too much information.  It might be ok for friends to hear their deepest secrets, but it doesn’t look good to businesses looking to hire consultants

Twitter follower / following count.  Lots of Twitter accounts automatically follow back, so some snake oilers follow these accounts to increase their follower count.  Be wary of people who follow thousands of users in the hope of getting a follow back.  The overhead of tracking thousands of followers means that quality engagement can not happen.   I know that tools such as Tweetdeck and Hootsuite can sort followers into lists, but the rest of accounts followed will be ignored

Tools and channels.  Blogs, wikis and forums are equally valid social channels for social engagement.  Your business might thrive with forum based implementation.  Make sure your social media specialist can talk through all of the different forum, wiki and blog options including in-house implementations and proprietary solutions.  Remember, it’s not just about WordPress and Joomla…

Engagement models.  Your snake oiler should be able to discuss engagement best practices, frameworks and crisis plans.  They should also be able to give practical examples of companies in similar to your industry.

Are they ‘walking the walk’?  Is their blog up to date with practical, considered credible posts?  Do they engage with their customers?  Are they practicing what they preach?  Do they understand legal, IP and data protection issues, and more importantly – how to solve them?

Remember – you are the customer.  you don’t have to hire someone when you’re not sure about their experience or credentials.  Ask them why they are proposing this type of solution for you.  Ask for examples, ask for ROI proof.  Check them out, ask others about their credibility.

Look for history.  Look for evidence. Suss out the snake oil salesmen and become more savvy with your social business hiring.

You can then relax and know that you’re in good, safe, social hands…


Image credit: Tim & Selena Middleton

Eileen is a social business strategist, ZDNet columnist and author of Working The Crowd: Social Media Marketing for Business. Contact her to find out how she can help your business extend its reach.

5 ways to decide if Twitter is right for your business?

imageA lot of small businesses assume that they should be on Twitter – because everyone else is.  They have no idea whether Twitter is the right thing for them.  These businesses join Twitter and struggle to engage their audience in conversation.

The Flowtown blog has an infographic flowchart which steps you through the main questions to ask yourself when you are considering using Twitter.  For small businesses the main questions to ask are:

  • Do you want to distinguish your business account from your personal account?  Having two Twitter accounts can take up significant amounts of time if you want to communicate using both accounts regularly.  Using separate account for personal and business might leave your business account cold and unfriendly.  Consider including a few personal tweets amongst the stream to make the feed more friendly.
  • Do you want to communicate with customers and send brand updates?  If so , then a corporate account is probably right for you.  You can create a corporate Twitter feed and ask members of your team to update it regularly.  You’ll have different voices contributing to the main corporate feed so the Twitter stream will start to get a personality of its own.  Appending each Tweet with the initials of the team member will make the stream more personalised. ^EB is the annotation used by services such as CoTweet.
  • Are the majority of your Tweets related to your business?  Try not to only talk about your work and special offers.  Talk about ‘we’ a little.  It gives your followers an insight into the team behind the company and gives your Twitter stream a personality
  • Do you want to proactively engage with your customers?  Read and respond to tweets from others.  Engaging proactively will bring you much greater returns than just responding to tweets.  If you use your Twitter account for customer service then try going back to the customer after their problem has been solved to make sure that they are still happy with you.  It’s shows extra care – even after the case has been resolved.
  • Do you want to engage regularly? Make sure you have enough time to engage with your customers.  Tweeting infrequently will make the relationship between the brand and the customer harder to nurture.  Frequent engagement – without being spammy – will encourage better dialogue.  Its about quality over quantity.

If the answer to these 5 points are yes, then Twitter is certainly an option worth considering…

However, Twitter might not be for you if your business involves government security or defence clients or involves legislative, auditory or regulatory work. 

Twitter might also not be right for you if you don’t have the time or energy to put into making your communications interesting or engaging.  Repetitive tweets can be seen as spam – as can automated quotes and ‘motivational’  messages sent out by apps such as Tweetlater, Bufferapp and Hootsuite.

Think before you tweet – or think before you sign up for Twitter.

it might not be the app for you..

Eileen is a social business strategist, ZDNet columnist and author of Working The Crowd: Social Media Marketing for Business. Contact her to find out how she can help your business extend its reach.

Image credit:Technoblog


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Quirky: Using influence to create new products

I like the idea of using your influence to contribute to and create new ideas and products.  New York based start-up Quirky allows you to submit an idea, have it reviewed and evaluated by the community, and based on their feedback, either refine and redesign the product, or take it forward into production.

The web site also encourages social sales in addition to direct sales.  Users are more likely to purchase a product where they’ve influenced product design or manufacture either directly or indirectly.


There are some great ideas on the site already too – like this cord grabber to stop your cables falling off the desk.  There are related products to buy too.

Will this new way of product design evolve using social collaboration?  Internally, it would certainly get round the interminable product review meetings that companies have.  Meetings where half the team are pushing for their component to be included in the mix and the other half processing their email and not contributing to the meeting.

Perhaps your design could fall victim to the Wikipedia model, where any changes are instantly reverted by the page owner and new ideas are drowned in a sea of conformity.

Or are we poised to change the whole way that products are created – and allow innovation to lead the way?

Eileen is a social business strategist, ZDNet columnist and author of Working The Crowd: Social Media Marketing for Business. Contact her to find out how she can help your business extend its reach.

B2B social media bolsters interactions – If you measure your ROSMI

Business to business social media is often overlooked in the mad scramble to get social media views, likes and votes in the business to consumer world.  But B2B is a really important way for companies to connect – if they also measure their Return on Social Media Investment (ROSMI)

Accenture have published a report highlighting attitudes to social media – and as I said yesterday when I talked about why the CEO needs to step up,  1 in 6 executives don’t perceive social media as being important enough. 

There’s a low level of engagement too.  Have a look at this graph from the Accenture report.


Source: Making Social Media Pay: Rethinking Social Medias potential…

Although respondents to the survey acknowledged that social media was important, engagement was generally low. Figure 3 shows that more than 25% engage slightly or not at all.  Only 8 per cent of companies are heavily taking advantage of social media at the moment which gives early adopters of social media a competitive advantage.

Accenture’s research focused on social media attitudes and looked at two different groups: Those that reported significant revenue growth and those that reported declines in revenue.  Whilst engagement levels were similar, strategies were different:

Companies that experienced revenue growth

  • Social media programs for greater customer engagement, improved brand reputation, access to new revenues, access to new sources of innovation
  • 27 per cent of companies convinced of social medias impact on customer engagement
  • 39 per cent of companies ranked social media as very important
  • 39 per cent integrated social media with other customer initiatives
  • 15 per cent systematically measured return on social media investment

Companies with declining revenue:

  • Social media programs for enhancing customer engagement
  • 9 per cent of companies convinced of social medias impact on customer engagement
  • 24 per cent of companies ranked social media as very important
  • 20 per cent integrated social media with other customer initiatives
  • 0 per cent systematically measured return on social media investment

There are several case studies mentioned in the Accenture report including examples from Cisco, Dell, Oracle and Microsoft, some great advice about aligning your social media activities with your broader business objectives.  Social media needs to be positioned as the cornerstone of activity in order for companies to succeed effectively in their industry

Getting your interaction right can make the difference between growing the business.  Measuring your return on your social media investment is the key to your success – or not.

Eileen is a social business strategist and author of Working The Crowd: Social Media Marketing for Business. Contact her to find out how she can help your business extend its reach.