4 trends you need to know about driving growth in 2017

writing and email

As companies begin to think more like their customers, and ideas spread across industries faster, it’s important to be aware that consumers are actively comparing and contrasting business performance when making a decision on where to spend their money. With today’s consumer now looking for control and convenience over their time, money and space companies will be challenged to react to market trends quickly and effectively. In this post, I’ve identified 4 areas that we see playing an important role in defining company strategy in 2017. This is based on findings of a white paper produced by White Space agency.

  1. New pricing and ownership models

 

Thanks to Spotify, Netflix and Zipcar who took this ownership model mainstream we are now able to purchase products that were expensive, or used infrequently on a need to want basis. Research has also shown that this of particular attraction to millennial consumers who have less space and money and can see the benefits to removing the burden of ownership. There is also a growing trend in subscription services that provide us with the basics, including; coffee, razor blades and underwear, which saves the consumer time and offers that all important convenience factor. Where it is possible to offer this kind of service companies will be able to maintain value to the customer, and nurture long-term relationships with individuals. Despite the expense of changing pricing models for an established company, I believe it’s worthwhile for companies looking to determine whether products should be marketed and sold as a service, or promote the value of ownership as identify.

 

  1. Energy Storage

 

Fully expect to see lots of changes in the area of renewable and energy storage this year. This shift comes as policy changes to the feed-in-tariff and a fall in the price of renewable energy below the level of oil and gas, contributing to the reduction in the installation of renewables throughout the UK. This being the case you may see those type of companies switch sales strategies and seek alternative revenue streams once Ofgem sets clear guidelines for ‘energy generation’ going forward. The reduction in price to energy storage has opened doors for businesses operating in this space to tackle the issue of whether energy storage units are appropriate for them, or if there is an opportunity to lease additional storage space to the National Grid to enable them to reduce peak demand.

 

  1. Customer Service Automation

 

The power of good customer service will give businesses the power to increase acquisition, retention and encourage brand loyalty. As mentioned earlier the high expectations of today’s consumer now demands an easy, effective and emotive service at their convenience. And with companies like Amazon and Uber leading the way on change, it’s not how well established you are, but how well you adopt new technologies that allow for easy and effective customer service. This means stripping back those long and complicated menu systems and replacing it with voice recognition software that can help people get where they need to go quicker.

Companies who can capitalise on this trend and look for data and ways to problem-solve in real-time, linking up different channels, through one seamless approach will reap great rewards.

 

  1. New Payment Methods

 

Don’t expect to see new technology go viral, but there is good reason to believe there will be improvements in the way payments are currently taken, and opportunities for gathering additional consumer rich data that will provide useful insight to companies looking to strengthen internal analytics functions, and be better prepared. It’s thought that this year will be one of rapid innovation, marked by increasingly sophisticated payment-based data and biometric payments.  For example, you can now confirm your identity by looking at your eyes through a camera on a mobile phone – a technology developed by ‘EyeVerify’ and already being used by early adopters such as Mastercard and Atom Bank. With these targeted payment technology options available, suppliers and retailers can now plan on how they will use the data collected from these streams to improve and add value to the customer experience and be different.

 

Conclusion
As the boundaries between different types of companies become blurred, and the consumer draws comparison from companies across sectors with keywords such as speed and convenience drawing their attention. It’s vital for the established companies including supermarkets, utilities providers and those in the financial sector to identify the trends and take action on market demands to avoid the risk of being left behind.

My top 3 apps for life and business 


Top app for organisation of thoughts and notes: Evernote
It’s a great way to store and organise your documents, images, voice notes and store them all in one place. There is a paid version, but I’ve had Evernote for years and have yet to need to upgrade. I also write a lot. I noticed Apple have updated their notes app – finally – with the ability to store notes in notebooks. It’s a great feature for organising thoughts I have on different subjects. Something we all should want to aspire too, if only for the purpose of productivity. Take a closer look here: https://evernote.com/

The app I couldn’t live without: Instagram
This is just for life. It’s just my favourite app for fun, photography, and user-friendly. If you haven’t heard of Instagram, and I’m sure you have, it’s an app for editing your photos and sharing publicly or privately. It’s a mobile app, so whilst you can pop it into google and browse profiles from the web, it shines best when you download it from the app store to your phone. A few months back Instagram added a business account function, which anyone can switch too, so if you’re a blogger, author, designer or someone who uses Instagram to market or build their brand in any way, then I highly recommend that you follow the steps below, and get some key insight information on your audience for free. Why is this useful? It will help you work out who’s most interested in what you post, what posts get the most engagement, which city and country locate your largest audience, and of course best time and day to post to your specific audience. The facts are presented in a user-friendly way, so don’t be overwhelmed if this is not something you are used to dealing with. It is extra useful to you, though. Oh and one last point before I move on, it also allows you to set a call to action so whether you want people to be able to email you from Instagram, call you, or visit your website/blog you can set that information to appear in your profile. Did mention this is the hottest app of 2016? Download here: https://itunes.apple.com/gb/app/instagram/id389801252?mt=8

Top app for creating images: Over 
This has been my go to app for a while when it comes to creating images for Instagram. Although there are other similar apps out there that let you add text and artwork to photos, I felt Over produced professional creative & design that was easy to use. It actually bares a lot of resemblance to Photoshop in that it allows you to layer text, images and artwork. As I’m on the go or busy, I find this is the perfect go-to app to create branded content by adding a transparent logo onto white or brand colour square, with a quote or information I want to communicate to my audience. It’s quick, easy and a great way to raise brand awareness. This app is free, but to unlock lots of other fonts and make use of the quick and easy stock image library that Over has provided through a partnership with Unsplash (free royalty images) you do need to upgrade to the pro account for that which costs less than £8 per month. Check out the app here: http://madewithover.com/

Ok maybe there’s 4 top apps and not 3. My go to app for scheduling content is: Buffer

It’s super easy to drop my text and images into the app and link up to all my top social channels (except You Tube and Instagram) and I don’t have to think about it again. There is some work to do in the beginning to set how many times you want to post each day, and of course linking up your profiles to the app, but it’s super easy to use so you don’t have to be tech savvy to use it. There’s also an upgrade version of the app, which allows you to connect unlimited profiles, as apposed to the three profile allowance you get with the free version. There is also the option to upgrade to Awesome account, which allowed you to ask Buffer to generate posts for you using blog posts from your blog and website (if you have one), which is quick and easy way to promote and generate lots of content to keep your feeds consistently active. Www.buffer.com

What’s personal branding got to do with it? 

So what about your personal brand?
I was recently asked about some thoughts on personal branding and decided to share a few more as I think it could be helpful and relevant to you. Especially if you are embarking on a new blog.

I’ve talked a little about some of the things you should think about when starting a blog, but now I want to get you thinking about your personal brand.


1. What is personal branding? It’s simply the who, what and why you do what you do.

2. Why is it important? To be able to communicate who you are and what do with a clear message on what you are trying to achieve is important for yourself and engaging your audience.

3. What can I do to nail my personal brand? Get a pen and paper and write down words that you feel describe you, your gifts, your vision. Try to keep it to 2 or 3 sentences max. If it helps just answer who, what and why.

“A picture tells 1000 words” 

Think about the images you have across your blog, and social media platforms. Are they easily identifiable? Do they communicate something linking back to the who, what and why you do you? This could be translated in the colours you choose, a logo or a corresponding image that you use across each platform.

Ok, that’s a few thoughts from me on personal branding. What’s yours? Share below or join me next Friday for more discussion on growing with your brand.

Xx

What’s social media got to do with mental health?

A lot. It’s mental health awareness week and I want to touch on the issue in relation to social media from the perspective of a social media manager.

First up my disclaimer is that I love social media, and believe it holds incredible value for business and brands and consumers. I also am real enough to admit that on a personal level it’s not all roses and sunshine – like anything it can be abused or used in a way to abuse ourselves and others.

As a marketer, and curious person, I find it interesting to observe how we interact with each other online, and the different ways we use social media. We’ve really have carved a social culture out online that continues to evolve  and there are some habits that I’ve noticed that haven’t really shifted in the last 6 years or so. I think they’re relevant because our habits have an impact on the way we live our lives. Here are a few quick fire thoughts of habits that I believe we need to be careful of:

  1. Posting or venting your thoughts and feelings on social media doesn’t mean you’ve dealt with an issue.
  2. It’s ok not to have an opinion on everything.
  3. It’s not ok to hide behind social media and use it as a tool to abuse others in the same way it’s not acceptable to do that face to face with someone you do not know. FYI According to my twitter feed today it looks like the law is introducing serious consequences for those who choose to take that path now too.
  4. The need to be known or followed is overrated, seriously. Remember what you see on social media the majority of the time is someone’s highlight reel. I know of people who have large reputable followings who look cutesy and inspirational on the outside, but severely depressed, isolated and lonely in reality.
  5. Comparison in is a killer – this is really relevant in any sphere or walk of life, but especially on social media when we are matching and patching our homes, family and lifestyles against other people.
  6. Time management  and healthy breaks – if we turn our phones off, or delete our apps for a second it doesn’t mean we’re missing out. Actually I highly recommend taking social media breaks to just be in the moment. I have been guilty of this one too, so I recently removed Facebook from my phone (except Pages for work purposes) and I can’t tell you how much time and space in my mind I’ve saved from a developed habit of being glued to social media. Its liberating.
  7. Consumer or consumed? Our attention span has dramatically fallen over the last few years, and whilst I’m no mental health professional, I know this is having an impact on the way we consume content, particularly online. For example, the length of copy, or video clips has continued to shorten and simplify to accommodate our fast-paced lives.

Consumed or consumer? Stay tuned for Friday’s blog post that delves deeper into the question how much does social media impact on our mental health?

7 tips on creating a social media campaign

 

  1. Set your goals – what’s the purpose of this campaign? Think about the gains you would like to see from running it. Is it to engage your audience, drive traffic to a particular place, or action? Is it to increase sales revenue? Be specific as you can.
  2. Choose your channels – Don’t just choose a channel like Facebook because it’s the biggest social networking platform. Think about who you’re reaching, and where they may be. Marketing to everyone will get you nowhere.
  3. Create your content – value matters so make it count. Get creative and depending on your audience and goals you might want to consider the style of your content. Make sure it adds value to your target consumer in some way.
  4. Amplify – consider if this is right for your brand, but make the most of your campaign by using social media influencers on the platforms you decide to target. Of course, make sure they are a good fit with your brand, but if your budget allows for this, then this is a powerful tip to heed.
  5. Paid social – there is no getting away from this if you want serious results on social media, but there are great affordable opportunities to play around with if you don’t have much of a budget for this. A small investment can boost your traffic, leads and with your campaign make it scalable.
  6. Collect analytics – here want to look at the numbers, but also the quality of the campaign performance. How did your users interact with your content, and did they take the action? Have you reached those all important goals you set at the beginning?
  7. Follow-up – What will you do to follow up on the success? Don’t let this be a one hit wonder, but look for lessons you can learn from the campaign and ways you can capitalise or reward those who took the action you wanted in some way. Social media marketing is a moving target so have fun, be authentic and always look for ways to add value to your end consumer.

 

Longer tweets for Twitter arriving 19th September.

Ever feel frustrated starting to create the perfect tweet? Do you struggle to fit in text, hashtags and images in one post?

We’ll fret not more. No longer will you be restricted to Twitter’s tight 140 character limit in the same way. On the 19th Septmeber the platform will remove some restrictions on imagines, GIFs and video that would previously reduce your character count. 
Twitter CEO Jack Dorsey said “This is the most noteable change we’ve made in recent times around conversation in particular, and around giving people the full expressiveness of the 140 characters.”

twitter

How often should I post on social media?

I get asked this question a lot, so today I thought I’d do a quick blog post on my recommendations.

*Disclaimer I am by no means saying that I have been great at sticking to this with my own blog for the past few years. Working full-time, building a business and life has got in the way of me applying my own advice with this blog. However, this is my professional opinion and best practice tip that I hope helps shed a little light for you.

Consistency is key

The true answer is I am unable to suggest what works best for you, and how often you should post. It depends on your business, your objectives, and your resource. What I will say though is that if you post sporadically every few months or weeks, then it doesn’t look good. It can also give the impression that your business has gone bust or non-extinct.

Managing social media channels is a full-time job, so if you are a small business or start-up, then I recommend choosing two social media channels that best capture the audience you are trying to reach.

For example if you are trying to reach a mother with a lifestyle product, then you might want to think about Facebook, Instagram, or Pinterest. And if you are a business looking to sell to other businesses, then you might want to focus your social media efforts on LinkedIn and Twitter.

Twitter is a noisy platform, so I would recommend trying to post between 2-4 times a day if you can.

For a channel like Facebook and Instagram, I would start with once post a day. However, please note this is to maintain the profiles and not with regards to reach as this Facebook most definitely requires a level of paid social when targeting a specific audience. In addition to that, bare in mind Facebook and Instagram post require heavily on images and video content, and making it accessible to a large and growing mobile audience. This will definitely require more crafting with images, video content, and tailoring of text and call to action.

3 benefits of scheduling content

  1. You create more room to be reactive when the unexpected happens, which it always does. One of my favourite examples of this was the Oreo’s dunk in the dark twitter ad, which goes all the way back to 2013, and still relevant today.
  2. You allow yourself time to carve out an library of content that enables you to plan time-sensitive content such as events, awareness days, special events in a social media calendar.
  3. You can track what content performs best. Analysing your performance is an important part of my job as a social media manager. It’s not good enough to litter your social media profiles with content that doesn’t perform, so we must keep track and be prepared to make adjustments along the way.

There are many tools that you could use to help keep your social media profiles alive. I recently wrote a blog reviewing a few here, but there area  million more. Personally, I use Buffer it does what I need to do and it’s cost effective compared to some of the others I know of. The first two channels are free. If you have more than 2 channels, then it can cost you from $10 a month.